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Monday, April 14, 2014

The Final Demon War, Sidney Stone by Jennifer Ainsley.



Today it’s my pleasure to welcome over and interview Jennifer Ainsley, author of The Final Demon War, Sidney Stone.

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Suspense/Horror/New Adult

Date of Publication: December 2013
ISBN: 1491200960
ASIN: B00HFYK99Q

Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 102,400

Cover Artist: Pencilbox Studios

Book Description


“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” - Matthew 10:34

Demons are preparing to launch the Final War to destroy humanity.

Can one young woman wielding the Sword of Jesus ensure our survival and redemption?

Will she lose both her love and her soul in the process?

Available at Amazon in Paperback and Kindle formats

GIVEAWAY! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win a $25 Gift card- winner's choice of Starbucks or Amazon, 1 signed print copy open to US Shipping or 2 ebook copies

Please see following for Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest 284 word pitch and 1100 word opening chapter. 

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword"
- Matthew 10:34

Jonathon Tait, whose demon-enhanced 170-year-old life has helped make him the richest man in the world, secretly renounces his alliance with demons in order to save his twins and redeem himself in the eyes of the two women he loved and lost. Jonathon has visions that his beautiful college-aged adopted daughter, Jennifer Ainsley, may be the key to humanity's survival and works with an underground movement to fight back against both the demons and the human leadership that is guiding our civilization towards total annihilation. 

Can Jennifer wield the Sword of Jesus to fulfill her destiny even as the planet hurtles towards its destruction? Is she mankind's only hope and can Jennifer save everyone that she loves; including her destined soul mate Andrew Walker, or are we all doomed? 

Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a gripping, fast-paced fantasy/horror novel grounded in the contemporary world. The characters are extremely likable and engaging, and a great deal of humor is successfully incorporated into the book, despite its often grim and macabre themes.  There are several action packed tour-de-force chapters including “Scenes from the End” and “Kasey and Tracey’s Amazing Adventure”. 

The book deftly tackles issues of greed, humanity's neglect for its weakest members, the race for power among individuals and nations, and the ability of love and courage to transcend personal weaknesses. It is a tale that combines horror and fantasy to tell a story of love, loss, sacrifice and redemption. It is the first chapter of an exciting new trilogy that deserves to find a wider audience.

Let's Interview!


What inspired you to write this book?

Thank you for featuring my book and letting me hang out here with you on your blog! As a writer, I am inspired by early Stephen King (think The Stand, The Dead Zone, Salem’s Lot, Carrie) and early Dean Koontz (Strangers, Lightening, Watchers). Clive Barker’s The Damnation Game was also an influence.  This story started essentially as a campfire story and it stuck with me. It wouldn’t let go and needed to be written. I had completed four screenplays in the 90’s but never really pursued it. I love to write but life got in the way.  This time, I got in the way of life. :-) 

Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.

The book cover was created by the talented folks at Pencilbox Studios in Orange County. Originally I had wanted a cover of a sword lying in the forest with a mushroom cloud off in the distance. However, on a writer’s budget that was not feasible.  However, the artist used one of the icons of the book – The Sword of Jesus (Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”) to create an unsettling cover that illustrated the mood of my book perfectly.  As the Rolling stones said: “Sometimes you don’t get what you want, but you get what you need” :-)

Tell us a little bit about the conflict in your story. 

The demons in my story are fallen angels.  Angels cast out of heaven because they have a nasty habit of destroying God’s creations. They are sent to the Underworld but reject it as Lucifer comes to love mankind to and wants to help us, not destroy us.  So this group of demons, led by Mordock who hates both God and Lucifer yet wants to be loved by his Creator at the same time, uses their shape shifting gift to infiltrate all levels of humanity so that over time as we advance they can use our weapons (and greed and lust for power) against us.  Mordock believes that by destroying us, maybe God will recognize him again and bring him back like a wayward child returning home.

Meanwhile, one group of humans works with the demons, while another works against them.  Jonathon Tait, a 170 year old billionaire given wealth, power and an unnatural long life by the demons plays both sides as he tries to navigate and manipulate the situation in order to save his children. 

The overriding theme of this book is love and loss; and the power of those two qualities to motivate us and redeem us. It is an ambitious tale that early reviews suggest I was successful at completing. I tried to go for emotion, thoughtfulness, rich deep characters while also adhering to most of the Fantasy – Horror rules.  I think your readers will enjoy the book! 

If you had to sell your book based on one run of dialogue (start quote to end quote), which would it be?

Jonathon spoke with more urgency. “Ever read Matthew, chapter ten, verse thirty-four? In it Jesus states, ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.’ Some people misinterpret that as allegory. Some people reject his message and react violently. He was really saying that he indeed brought a motherfucking sword—the Sword of Jesus. His forty days and forty nights in the desert weren’t just about his wrestling with the Devil metaphorically but taking the battle physically to and against the demons. The Sword is the only thing that will kill them easily and completely. Bombs and machine guns sometimes do the trick—you know that—but not always. Demons usually can regenerate even after you hit them with automatic fire and multiple rounds. Also, what will mankind do if limited ammunition is available? What if the world ends and we have to fight the demons without technology?”

Did you enjoy writing one scene above all the rest? If so, share.

You would think it would be the long sex thing but that was actually exhausting to write.  All that research to make sure it was as realistic as possible ;) 

Actually, the banquet hall scene was a blast.  It is a Grand Guignol level of a massacre but also done with much dark humor.

What sort of personality does your heroine have?

In this book she is uncertain at first.  Her destiny is literally thrown at her. But she lets instinct take over, and to save the people she loves, becomes the heroine she was always meant to be. 

Other facets of her are how powerfully she loves, and the strength she has to endure and thrive after the death of her mother and sister at the beginning of the book (not really a spoiler as this sets the scene on how she is adopted by Jonathon Tait). I have also given her a passionate sexuality which you often don’t see in heroes or heroines.  But she is a beautiful and athletic 22 year old, deeply in love with Andrew Walker Head of Tait Estate Security and well, he is a hot built Marine so there you go ;) 

What genre/genres do you prefer to write? Are there other genres you’d like to write in the future?

I love the Fantasy – Horror – Science Fiction genres so I prefer to stay right there.  However, after having many misadventures in the dating world after my divorce, I would love to right a fun, ribald book titled something like Dating and being a Single Father – From the Gen X point of view. :-)

Do you write books in series? If so, share a bit about the series you currently have published or are coming soon. 

Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War was always meant to be a series but I have many, many ideas for stand alone books too. The second book in this series, if the first book has Jonathon as its chief protagonist, is more Jennifer’s book as she really comes into her own after the events that occur at the end of the first book. 

It’s time to promo. What is your favorite marketing tool? 

I have really enjoyed the blog tour that I am on.  Interviews such as this really help me connect with readers and expand on giving a sense of the book beyond a 140 character tweet.  Plus, by doing this type of tour I think people who are interested will actually read the book.  Running Kindle promotions may increase sales, but, often times just to people filling up a Kindle and not really getting into the story. I wrote this book to entertain and maybe to get people to think a bit too. I want it read! 

Thanks again for taking the time to feature my book!  It has been a pleasure.

Thanks for joining me today! Your book sounds excellent. 

Chapter One
Heather


Heather couldn’t believe she was going to die in front of her peacefully sleeping twins, who were oblivious to the unspeakable acts occurring in their nursery. These infants, this life, were all she had wanted, and in those lonely nights before sleep overtook her, she admitted to herself that she had been groomed for this since birth. She had been groomed to be a beautiful, nurturing wife to a wealthy and powerful man and she had been groomed to care for his children and teach them to take their rightful place in the world while she also maintained this lovely home—with a slew of maids, servants, and other staff of course. She threw the best dinner parties and had a special banquet hall included in the new Napa Valley estate just for that purpose. She knew all the right people to invite, and they raised all the right money for all the right charities.

Yet here she was in midair, swaying back and forth, seeing herself reflected in the rectangular Craftsman-style floor mirror she personally had picked out for the nursery. The demon Palvakia held Heather by her strawberry-blonde hair, a mane her husband Jonathon Tait called “gorgeously luxurious,” while her lithe and toned, almost split-in-two body, spilled her blood and guts onto the new Berber carpet (a lovely light blue she also had personally picked out for the nursery). How important Heather had thought every design detail of this room was. She had placed so much importance on the mundane materials that now meant nothing. She was escaping into the blackness now, the dark abyss whose passage she hoped ended with a consummating light. Was there light beyond death and beyond this horror?

It was insane, Heather thought, that her husband, the man she loved and admired, was watching this scene unfold with an expressionless face as Mordock, a repulsive and despised demon, stood next to him. Mordock was in human form right now, unlike the demon who had torn her in half, but Heather still felt the evil lurking underneath. She had tried to banish Mordock from their lives and had pleaded with her husband to stand up to him. Yet Jonathon had done nothing to remove him from their lives or to stop Mordock from carrying out her murder. If there was a light at the end, how could the Keeper of Light cause this to happen or not prevent it in the first place?

And what of the twins? Alexander and Sophia were so beautiful and full of life, with old-soul eyes, even as infants. My lovely babies, Heather thought with her last bit of consciousness. Who will keep you from harm? Can your father somehow be your guardian angel? Will he succeed with you where he failed with me? The darkness with the light behind it is approaching. Will I see you in heaven? How long will I have to wait? Hopefully a long, long time…

Heather took her last breaths just as Palvakia began to devour her. To her horror, though, death did not come instantaneously. A morbid trick of the demons is to keep their victims on the cusp of dying so they can witness themselves being eaten. Heather couldn’t even scream as the pain ripped through the ever-decreasing parts of her body.

When Palvakia was finished, not one ounce of the physical being that once had been Heather Tait was left in the room. Even the carpet was clean…and the twins continued to sleep peacefully.

About the Author



Sidney Stone is a hiker, deer whisperer and non-pretentious wine connoisseur. An addicted reviewer on Yelp, he is also creator of affordable housing (although technically he is homeless part-time), thinks The Replacements are the best band of the Eighties and loves to boost his LinkedIn count with people he doesn't know.

He lives in both Northern and Southern California while constantly traveling to Orange County to visit his son, who can now beat his father at ping pong and chess rather easily (and is charmingly arrogant while doing it). A graduate of UC Irvine and Pepperdine University, Sidney wishes he chose at least one university to attend that had a college football team to root for.

The first scene Sidney thought of for Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War included a rather large massacre (take that for what it is worth). However, inspired by the works of Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Clive Barker; the book's violence is offset by dark humor and deep human emotion just like in real life where Sidney's darkness is offset by creatively placed sarcasm and an overwrought romanticism. For example, while Jennifer Ainsley: The Final Demon War is a Fantasy-Horror novel, Sidney also still tears up at the end of both Field of Dreams and An Officer and a Gentleman.






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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Her Life Became Anything But Ordinary. Copper Girl by Jennifer Allis Provost.



Today I’ll be featuring Copper Girl, Book one in The Copper Legacy, an urban fantasy by Jennifer Allis Provost.

Publisher: Spence City
Date of Publication: June 25, 2013
ISBN: 978-1939392022
ASIN: B00CXWC7JU
Number of pages: 248
Word Count: appx 80k

Cover Artist: Lisa Amowitz

Purchase it at Amazon or BN

GIVEAWAY! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win a prize pack including a signed copy of Copper Girl, swag, and a necklace inspired by the token Micah gives Sara.

Book Description


Sara had always been careful.

She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara's dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.


Book Trailer




Excerpt 

Chapter 1


It seemed like a good idea at the time.

My office, like most modern offices, cranked the air conditioning down to Arctic proportions during the summer months. Consequently, we workers arrived in the morning dressed in sandals and sleeveless tops, donned heavy sweaters upon reaching our desks, and ended up shivering by noon. Ironically, when our workday ended we were hit by a wall of oppressive heat the moment we stepped outside the main doors. No, this wasn’t a flawed system in the slightest.

That day, I wasn’t having it. I had the grand idea of spending my lunch hour outside, away from the icy wind stiffening my fingers and chilling my neck. After I unwound myself from the afghan I kept in my desk (and only used in the summer months), I gathered up my lunch and my phone and headed out for an impromptu picnic in my car.

What I hadn’t considered was that the office runs the air conditioning so cold because it was, well, hot outside. Very hot, in fact. So hot that the cheese was melting in my sandwich and the lettuce looked like something that had washed ashore months, maybe even years, ago. I was parked in the shade and had taken down my car’s convertible top, but I still couldn’t manage to get comfortable. I’d already shed my sandals and cardigan, which left me wearing my sundress and…

Dare I? 

I glanced around the parking lot of Real Estate Evaluation Services, the ‘go-to firm for all your commercial real estate needs’, according to the brochures. No one, human or drone, was taking a noontime stroll, and, by virtue of my being on the far side of the lot, no cars were near mine. Most of my coworkers didn’t even have cars, so the lot was rarely more than half-full. What was more, from where I sat, I couldn’t even see the office.

I dared.

I took a deep breath and channeled my inner wild woman, then leaned the seat back and slipped off my panties. Removing that small bit of cotton made an incredible difference, and the heat became somewhat bearable. Enjoyable, even. Was that a breeze?  

Ignoring my decrepit sandwich, I fully reclined the seat, set the alarm on my phone, and closed my eyes. A nap. Now that would make today bearable.

Suddenly, he is there. 

Here.  

Kissing me, holding me. 

I know I’m dreaming, because he’s perfect. His lips are soft but insistent, his hands gentle. I glide my fingers across his back, feeling thick cords of muscle, before sinking my fingers into his hair. It’s superfine, like cobwebs, and when I crack an eyelid, I learn that it’s silver. Not gray or white, but the elegant hue of antique candlesticks and fine flatware.  Cool.

I squeeze my eyes shut again, not wanting the dream to end any sooner than it has to. He kisses me once more, and I can’t help melting against him. His hand travels up my leg, up past my hip… shit! No panties!

I try twisting away, but he already knows. I feel his mouth stretch into a smile, and he moves to nuzzle my neck. “What’s your name?” he murmurs.

“Sara,” I reply. “Yours?”

“Micah.” By now, his hands have traveled to my waist, and he slides one around to stroke the small of my back. “Why did you summon me, Sara?”

“I didn’t,” I protest. “I don’t know how.” I would say more, but he nibbles a trail from my neck to my shoulder, and pushes my dress to the side. As for me, I let him . 

Micah raises his head, and I get a good look at him for the first time. His eyes are large and dark gray, like thunderheads, his features chiseled into warm caramel skin, and his unruly mop of silver hair seems to float around his head. He wears an odd, buff-colored leather shirt, made all the odder in this heat, and matching leather pants and boots. Boots? 

“You did summon me,” he insists. “My Sara, you must tell me why.”

“Does it matter?” I ask. I pull him back to me, kissing him with all the passion I’ve never felt with anyone during my waking hours. Micah kisses me back, fingers deftly unbuttoning my dress while his other hand rubs my lower back. I’ve never felt so free, so alive as I do in Micah’s embrace, and I have no intention of rushing this. None at all.

My phone screamed for attention, thus ending the best dream that had ever been dreamed. Ever. I fumbled to silence it, then shook myself back to reality. I still felt warm and glowy from the dream, almost after-glowy. It wasn’t until I stretched and got tangled in my clothing that I noticed anything was amiss.

The straps of my dress had slid down around my elbows, and the dress itself was unbuttoned to my waist. What’s more, my bra was all askew and a nipple was dangerously close to freedom. I shot a quick glance around the parking lot as I fixed my clothing; luckily, there was no one around, either of the human or robotic drone persuasion. I hoped no one had gotten an eyeful of how I was apparently fondling myself in my sleep.
Some dream. Soon enough, I got the top half of my dress squared away and reached into the passenger seat, only to come up empty. My panties were gone.  

Great. Either one of my coworkers had found me sleeping and stolen them, or a randy squirrel had absconded with my delicates. Hoping for the latter, I stuffed my feet back into my sandals and returned to the office and my ever-growing mountain of paperwork.

Speaking of the mountain there was a fresh sheaf of reports on my desk, ready for sorting. My title, if it can be called that, is Quarterly Report Collator. 

This impressive moniker means that I have the ability—no, make that the responsibility—to place various documents and reports in their proper order, usually alphabetically. I’ve even been known to utilize ascending numbers when the occasion warrants, a feat those who get paid far more than I do cannot seem to manage. As long as they keep paying me, I’m fine with my place on the food chain, low though it may be. It sure beats the alternative--a luxurious but caged life as a sellout government shill, performing spells on command as if they were parlor tricks. My family may have lost much, but we still have some pride left.

I dove right into the heap of reports, for once appreciating the mindless work since it gave me the mental space to dwell on my dream lover. Why would a man in my dream claim that I’d summoned him? And what was with his getup? Micah had looked like he should be playing the part of a swashbuckling hero in a trashy romance novel, not hanging around in the parking lot of a midsized corporation specializing in commercial real estate acquisitions and liquidations.

And his name: Micah. I was certain that I’d never heard it before, which puzzled me. If I were going to create a dream lover, wouldn’t I give him a regular name like Tom or Joe? A name I was at least familiar with?

I swiveled in my chair and called up my search engine. We are not, under any circumstances, supposed to use this bit of technology that is standard issue with each and every one of our ergonomically correct workstations. I’m not quite sure what the punishment for internet usage is, but I’ve always imagined ninjas dropping out of the ceiling and hauling me off to their lair. After enduring a mild torture session, I’m given a cup of hot sake and sent on my way. 

I could have waited until I got home. I had a nicer computer and better, faster internet access than the office does, but I couldn’t wait. Not while the image of Micah’s thundercloud eyes still burned in my memory, inciting not-safe-for-work thoughts.

I typed in Micah: define, and the results page immediately listed a bunch of Biblical references. Mmm, not exactly helpful. I clicked around for a while until I found one of those sites that specialized in the meaning of names. It read thusly:

Micah ( mī ' kə ) he who resembles God.

Huh. My dream man was certainly attractive, but I didn’t know if I’d go so far as to call him a god. Then I remembered that there was a type of stone called mica, which also seemed like an unlikely source for me to pull a name from. In the midst of typing mica: stone, I was interrupted.

“Hey, beautiful.”

I glanced up and saw Floyd, the office sleaze, hovering at the edge of my cubicle. Better and better. I clicked off the browser and nonchalantly swiveled away from the keyboard. To throw the ninjas off my trail, of course. “You and Juliana heading over to The Room tonight?” he asked.

The Room is a local hangout, stocked with stale beer and watered-down liquor, not to mention a floor that has never, ever been mopped. Not. Even. Once. But it’s cheap and close to the office, so we all go. Since I started working at REES, I’ve been a regular. “We haven’t discussed it.”

“Everyone’s going,” Floyd pressed. “C’mon, I’ll buy you a drink. You like gin and tonic, right?”

I heaved the stack of reports from my lap to my desk and uncrossed my legs, squarely planting my feet in order to deliver the Keep Away From Me speech to Floyd yet again, when I remembered my lack of undergarments. Quickly, I snatched my afghan from where I’d tossed it before lunch and spread it across my lower body like a shield.

“Whatever,” I mumbled, which Floyd counted as a victory.

“See you there,” he drawled. I hate him.

I spent the rest of my shift with my thighs clamped together, having mild anxiety attacks whenever I stood. Or sat. Or reached for anything. Needless to say, by the end of the day I was more than ready for something eye-wateringly alcoholic. Juliana, my best friend and REES’s office manager, was game, as she usually was, and we made it to The Room in time for happy hour. Normally, I feel like I’m in her shadow, what with her long, dark hair, matching eyes, and the body of a pre-war pinup girl, but tonight I didn’t care. Right about now, a little overshadowing was just what the doctor ordered.

After a few bowls of pretzels, and more than a few cocktails, I confessed my al fresco state, to which Juliana and I clinked glasses and downed a few shots in honor of my missing panties. Floyd, the scum, welshed on his promise of gin and tonic. I really do hate him.

About the Author



Jennifer Allis Provost is a native New Englander who lives in a sprawling colonial along with her beautiful and precocious twins, a dog, two birds, three cats, and a wonderful husband who never forgets to buy ice cream. As a child, she read anything and everything she could get her hands on, including a set of encyclopedias, but fantasy was always her favorite. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

Visit Jennifer




Twitter: @parthalan



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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#Writing Process Blog Tour



Welcome! A huge thank you to fabulously talented author, Alisha Paige, for including me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. This little romp through cyberspace is a great way for authors to share more about how their books get written. So cozy in and enjoy my contribution to the tour!

My four questions...


What am I working on?

Right now I’m about halfway through Vow of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series- Next Generation: Book Two). In this tale we follow Bradon MacLomain (youngest son to Iain and Arianna MacLomain from Fate’s Monolith ). He’s on a quest to bring home his sister, Torra, who is being avidly pursued by not only the evil Keir Hamilton but Colin MacLeod.

Keep your eyes peeled this week for the release of Mark of the Highlander (The MacLomain Series- Next Generation: Book One)! Here's a little something about the story...

Up and coming romance novelist sensation, McKayla never could have imagined that the medieval Scottish Highlands she wrote about were anything more than pure historical fiction. But little did she know that her Broun ancestry would prove an irresistible pull for one very remarkable highlander.

Colin MacLomain, skilled assassin and fierce warrior, is ready to make right his jaded past. Newly seated as chieftain, he’s determined to win over his clan and one true love. But when she’s pulled back in time will McKayla, his unknowing best friend, be able to see past his shaded history to the man he’s determined to become?


How Does My Work Differ from Others of its Genre?

Focusing on the MacLomain Series, I think what makes my work a bit different than others in the fantasy romance genre is the underlying struggle between Christianity and Paganism.


Why Do I Write What I Do?

Honestly? Because I love it! Both paranormal and fantasy romance have always appealed to me. Add in medieval Scottish Highlanders and it’s hard not to immerse myself completely. New stories keep forming and I can’t help but share!


How Does Your Writing Process Work?

I write books in series so my writing process typically begins by going over previous books to make sure I know exactly what direction I want to head in with future work. As a general rule, I like to give my readers a little something new in regards to medieval Scottish history so spend time researching. After that, I dive right in! Every day before I start writing I review what I wrote the day before. It’s a great way to get back into the zone. :-)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Paranormal Romance. Hidden Mortality by Maggie Mundy



Today I’m thrilled to welcome over and interview Maggie Mundy, author of Hidden Mortality, a Paranormal Romance. 

Publisher: Soulmate Publishing
Date of Publication: 6th February 18, 2014
ISBN:-13:978-1-61935-329-9
ASIN: B00I911NI0

Number of pages:281
Word Count: 85,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Purchase at  Amazon

.99 Cents for a LIMITED TIME!

GIVEAWAY! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win a Kindle copy of Hidden Mortality.

Book Description


A witch is murdered in 1850 in a ritual that will grant longevity to four men. What they are not aware of is that she has bestowed the same power to another called Seth to avenge her death.

Cara lives in present day Bristol, and is a descendant of the witch. Having been unlucky in love she fills her days with food with her Irish themed catering business. Her nights are another matter; they are full of erotic dreams of a mysterious lover, or nightmares with mutilated bodies. So this wasn’t the best time for her Nana to tell her she is coming into her power.

Excerpt


Cara kept searching but couldn’t find the book she wanted. The assistant at the empty counter smiled politely as she approached.

“I’m looking for a book called Immortality and Witchcraft, Fact or Fiction,” Cara said.

The woman typed the title into her computer. As Cara waited, someone walked up to the other counter beside her. She turned to look. Her world stopped as she met the slate grey gaze of the man staring straight at her. This wasn’t possible. He couldn’t exist. He was just a dream lover. Yet there he was, standing next to her as big as life.

She tried to smile, but it probably came out as more of a grin. He didn’t smile back. Her legs turned to jelly. If she didn’t breathe, she would pass out. She reached out and gripped the counter. One of them had to look away but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. Someone was talking to her and the moment was broken.
“Excuse me.”

 “Sorry.” Cara replied, as she forced herself to look at the salesperson. She was afraid if she glanced back, he would be gone. Her imagination must be playing tricks on her.

“It looks like we should have one copy left,” the woman said.

“I think I’m just about to sell it,” the other shop assistant said coming up to the register. “We could order it in for you. It might take a couple of weeks.”

“Please, take my copy.” The man at the other counter held out the book. His voice was deep, exactly as it was in her dreams. She was caught again in his gaze. The world disappeared and for a moment they were the only two people alive locked in the gaze they shared. Her hand went to her chest. She could feel her heart racing at the thought of him being near.

“Thank you, but no I couldn’t. You had the book first.”

“Please, take it. I have plenty of time to wait for another copy to come in.”

She found it hard to say no. Perhaps, it was the fact he was about six three and wore grey bike leathers. They added to the effect of making him look powerful. The shaved head and the stubble on his face gave a menacing look, but she wasn’t afraid of him. This wasn’t right. Her life was wild enough without dream lovers becoming real.

Plus, she wouldn’t want her other dreams to become real as well. She needed to say something, or he would think she was an idiot standing there with her mouth gaping. He held the book out to her. As she took it, her hand touched his. It was such a tiny touch and yet it meant he was real. She felt the heat rising up her neck as she blushed. She also sensed another heat inside her. It was the same way he had made her feel in her dreams.

“Thanks.” Cara paid for her book and listened as he confirmed his contact details. Seth Scanlon. She had a name. She wasn’t really stalking. Taking another book off a shelf, she flipped through the pages. He glanced her way before he left and caught her gaze once more.

She couldn’t fool herself. The look he gave her was so intense she felt he was seeing inside her soul. Her breath caught. She shivered although the shop was warm. For a split second, she considered following him and saying he must remember all the times they had made love.

She could just imagine the expression he would give her. He didn’t know her. She was a stranger. The shop became suffocating as she pulled at the collar of her jumper. She needed to be outside. There was no sign of him on the street. For a moment, she wanted to cry. At this rate, she would give the silly schoolgirls in the shop a run for their money.

Let's Interview!


What made you choose the main setting for your book? 

The settings for this book are all familiar to me. I live in Australia now but I grew up in the UK. Bristol was a major seaport in years gone by and much of its wealth came from the slave trade. Like most cities it has it wealthy areas and its slums. When I was a young nurse I was caught in riots in the city. Bath is a beautiful city, think Jane Austen then you have Bath. The beautiful Georgian facades are only matched by the Roman ruins you can visit at the baths. I wouldn’t swim in the green water though. They now have a day spa there. Both cities have beauty but hide another more sinister side. The Irish connection in the book is again from my own family. Waterfall House was my mother’s home growing up and does exist. You can stay there as a farm stay. My father came from Dingle in Kerry. My heroine Cara is a caterer and I used to Dingle for inspiration for some of the meals in the book. You can find pictures of these places on my Pinterest board. http://www.pinterest.com/maggiemundy/

Tell us a little bit about the conflict in your story. 

Two immortals Seth and Vincent are after Cara. One wants to love her and one wants to kill her. Seth is made long lived to protect his lover’s descendants and exact revenge by killing her murderer. Only then will he die as well. When he finally finds Vincent he wants to live because he has fallen in love with Cara. He has to choose between obligation and love.

Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details. 

I have a few things on the go. World Change is a times slip novel that I have coming out in April. It’s about a young woman who is transported to another world where she is being hunted by a High Priestess who wants her dead. The only person who can help her return home is a vampire called Trevi. He is the only vampire in his world and she knows more about what he is than he does. I also have an urban fantasy based in San Francisco coming out in August called Unknown Protector. In this book angels and demons are not what you think. They are aliens that the myths have been created around. Nicole finds herself in the middle of a war between the two sides and a long haired angelic sexy diamond in the rough called Ridge, is the only one who can help her

What sort of personality does your hero have? 

To say he is tortured is an understatement. Seth feels he has let the woman in his past down. He has spent two hundred years trying to make up for it. He is a blacksmith and makes swords and daggers that can kill. He is also a sculptor who puts all his agony into his creations. He never expected to love again and then he met Cara.

What sort of personality does your heroine have? 

Cara is resilient. She fights on despite whatever is thrown at her. She is open minded but even she finds it hard to accept people could live forever. She is loyal to her friends but has left herself vulnerable in the past to lovers and gotten hurt. 


It’s time to promo. What is your favorite marketing tool? 

I’m new to this but of course blog tours are a good place to start. I have an author page on Facebook and belong to groups that promote books. I am on Goodreads and have a Pinterest site. I am also on twitter but still coming to grips with it. I think the best marketing tool is to write the next book. I also go to conferences book clubs and anything I can. 



How long have you been writing? How long have you been published?

I have been writing for about eight years. I know you hear that people have wanted to write since a child and have been penning stuff but not me. I studied nursing. Then I decided that there had to be something else and went to uni to do Drama. I wrote a one person one act play. It’s still on my computer. I got positive feedback and started writing. Once I started I realized I loved it and could not stop.


What genre/genres do you prefer to write? Are there other genres you’d like to write in the future?

I think speculative fiction covers what write the best. This book is a paranormal romance but I have an urban fantasy coming out later this year. I have also written horror short stories. I am in the process of co-writing a romantic comedy with a friend who is a historical writer. Talk about a challenge, but we are up to it.


Do you write books in series? If so, share a bit about the series you currently have published or are coming soon. 

My first attempt at writing was an epic fantasy trilogy. It is 135,000 words and is still on my computer. Maybe one day it will come out to play. I have two books out this year World change which is part of the Earthbound Trilogy and Unknown Protector which is part of the Midworlder trilogy. I usually focus on a different couple in each novel but one overreaching story arc. I also have novella two coming out in the Seeker Chronicles. They are vampire stories based in Australia. We could have one for each state which would mean eight.


About the Author



Maggie Mundy lives in Adelaide, Australia and is a member of Romance Writers of Australia, and the local chapter SARA (South Australian Romance Authors). She recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English at Flinders University. She had a short story published in the RWA Topaz Anthology Little Gems in 2010 called Sea and Vines. Over the past year she has had stories on line with Alfie dog in the UK and Antipodean SF in Australia. She has also performed for many years in corporate entertainment for which she wrote her own sketches, which probably explains why her head is so full of characters. She loves writing romance but thinks falling in love can be scary, especially in her stories where creatures of the night really exist.

Visit Maggie Mundy








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Friday, March 28, 2014

Love. Lust. Betrayal. Vengeance. Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn by lazarusInfinity.



Today it’s my pleasure to welcome over lazarusInfinity, author of Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn, a Dark Fantasy.

ISBN:  978-1482537932
ASIN:  B00BF25U02

Number of pages:  208
Word Count: 79,210

Cover Artist:  Ryan Doan Illustration & Photography

Amazon       BN      iTunes

Diesel      Smashwords

GIVEAWAY! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to win an eCopy of Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn. 

Book Description


Welcome to the dark side of love...

A dark fantasy filled with interracial romance, lust, betrayal and vengeance. What happens when everything you've worked for and sacrificed for is suddenly taken away from you? What happens when the greatest love you've ever known isn't what it seems? What happens when your most loyal childhood friends and family pass away? What happens when one man takes a fateful journey between love and hate, light and darkness...Heaven and Hell?

Jacob Forlorn is a beleaguered everyman escaping from the shadows of a bitter and broken past to find his place in life when he meets Miranda, a beautiful and mysterious woman with a past of her own. Drawn by love at first sight, a whirlwind interracial romance brimming with intense passion ensues, culminating in the birth of a beautiful child.  But all is not well in paradise. Against the remains of a hidden past, something dark and deadly emerges, threatening to either warn Jacob or rob him of both his heart and his sanity. Jealousy, resentment and deception emerge, soon forming a deadly web of intrigue, lust and secrecy which all have repercussions far beyond anything he ever imagined.

As dark visions and nightmares haunt him repeatedly, Jacob soon begins to walk a very fine line between right and wrong, against a backdrop of misery and death that pushes him to the limits of his faith in God. Someone...or something is after him. The secrets of the past begin to destroy him both physically and spiritually, forcing him to make a dangerous choice.

Love. Lust. Betrayal. Vengeance. It all comes to an end and something has to give. The journey to Hell and back has now begun in this brooding and haunting dark fantasy.

**The sequel to EXODUS, REVELATION: THE RETURN OF JACOB FORLORN is also now available at all major retailers.

Let's Interview! 

   
What inspired you to write this book?

Exodus: A Requiem for Jacob Forlorn was basically a character study from years of either witnessing or hearing about relationship horror stories from friends of mine.  We’ve all heard one bad relationship scenario or another and the focus is always the same: the bad things that men do.  So many movies and books are made about women who suffer broken hearts and fall into fits of despair and I thought it was time for a change.  I wanted to go against the grain and write a story about a guy whose greatest enemy is his own heart and mind.  Jacob Forlorn is a guy who tries to do the right things with the wrong women, and eventually it costs him far more than he ever imagined. 

How did you come up with the title?

I never brainstorm titles when I’m working on a story.  As weird as it may sound, whenever I get the general idea for a story in my head, the title is always the next thing that comes along.  I have no clue why that happens, but it always does.  Most of the time I don’t even know where a lot of the things I write come from.  Hemingway once said something to the effect of: “All an author needs to do is I sit at the typewriter and bleed.”  I don’t compare myself to Hemingway in any shape or form but he was right. 

What made you choose the main setting for your book?

The story is set in New Orleans, which is where I was born and raised.  It’s a city that’s rich in history, culture, legends and folklore, not to mention being one of the greatest cities in the world.  To grow up around so much inspiration to draw from and not set a book here is not something I could ever fathom.  I didn’t understand that growing up, and it didn’t start to make sense to me until after Hurricane Katrina struck the city.  That was definitely one of the darkest times our city has ever faced.  The beautiful thing that came out of it was a stronger sense of community pride and general love for the city.  There are still problems here but there’s just no place like New Orleans.
  
Tell us a little bit about the conflict in your story.

Jacob Forlorn is your basic everyman who walks with a weary heart that he wears on his sleeve.  Struggling to find his place in life in the aftermath of a relationship gone sour, he soon meets a very beautiful and alluring woman who is seemingly the one he’s been searching for all his life.  Throwing caution to the wind, he immerses himself in a whirlwind romance filled with intense passion and mystery.  As usual with relationships that are seemingly too good to be true, skeletons from his lover’s past coupled with supernatural visions and nightmares begin to destroy him both mentally and spiritually.  Not all is what it seems, and Jacob soon finds this out the hard way as he spirals down a very dark and destructive path that leads to the unthinkable.  The story is a dark and tragic tale in the vein of OTHELLO meets ANGEL HEART. 

Are you currently working on another story? If so, we’d love some details.

I am currently working on another novel entitled PORN AGAIN, which is loosely based on my years of working in an adult retail store in none other than New Orleans.

SYNOPSIS:

“What’s it like working in a sex store?”

That’s a question that Harper ‘Happy’ Downman will soon learn the meaning of…in more ways than one.

The poster child for middle-class America, Happy is your typical button-down, conservative Christian American with a quaint home, a lovely wife and a dull sex life.  At the height of the Great Recession, a drastic turn of events in both his personal and professional life rocks Happy’s world to its very core.  All seems lost…that is until his lecherous older brother comes to the rescue with a ‘stimulating’ solution that’s sure to raise more than just eyebrows within his eccentric family.

Relocating to the decadent, hedonistic streets of New Orleans, he soon finds that he’s way out of his league.  In a world of porn, sex toys and interesting characters, Happy takes a memorable journey down a road of sex, love and relationships that he will never forget.

Porn Again is a funny and insightful romp proving that it’s not always the people who work in a sex store that you have to worry about.  Sometimes it’s the people who shop there.

Read it with someone you ****…

A lot of stories on the market deal with the ups and downs of romance, but very few venture inside the doors of a sex store and expose all the hilarious and crazy things that take place.  If you can imagine working in a sex store in New Orleans on Bourbon St., you know that anything can and will happen.  The book will be released in mid April to all major retailers.  Be on the lookout for preorders soon!  For more info on updates, feel free to sign up for my newsletter at www.lazarusinfinity.net.

The other project that I’m in the middle of is a screenplay based on a short story I published entitled OCCUPATION.  The story centers around a zombie apocalypse taking place in New Orleans during the year that the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras coincide. 

Tell us about your book cover and how it relates to your story.

The book cover much like the title was something that came to mind immediately after I got the general idea in my head.  Growing up with a love of cinema, I’ve always been a fan of movie poster design and wanted to somehow incorporate that into the cover.  Everything in the cover serves as a motif for what happens in the story.  Jacob Forlorn is a man walking down a very rugged and dangerous road in his life, overshadowed by a beautiful and mysterious woman.  The mask she wears is a metaphor for how often we can be deceived and possibly ruined by the very people we choose to lay down with and give our hearts to.  As for the crows, that’s a secret… 

Tell us about your favorite writing environment. Is it indoors, outdoors, a special room, etc.

My favorite place to write is a locally owned business in New Orleans known as The Reservoir Café.  I love Starbucks just as much as anyone else, but I also believe in supporting local businesses.  The Reservoir Café is a very cool, hip and eclectic environment on Magazine St. where I can just come in with my laptop and really disappear into the work.  It’s come to the point where some days I practically live there. 

Are your book/books available in audio? In other languages? If so, give us more details about where we can get them and what languages they’re in.

At the moment, my books are not available in audio format or other languages.  It is something that I’m seriously considering for the future as I build my catalogue.  As of right now, readers can find my work on Amazon.com, Smashwords, iBooks, Barnes & Noble and other major retailers. 

How long have you been writing? How long have you been published?

I have been writing since I was eight years old and only published for about two years now.  My first love has always been acting and I grew up on greats like Sidney Poitier, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney and Yul Brynner.  Once I got to high school, I started studying acting seriously and Denzel Washington became my idol.  Writing was something that was just always there, but I never took it seriously.  I was always one of those kids who would finish their work first in class and had nothing else to do, so I would write.  My third grade teacher caught wind of what I was doing and always encouraged me to “Just keep writing.”  As I got to college and continued studying theatre, I started writing plays and that later turned into writing screenplays.  Even still, my mother was the one who always said that I would one day publish a book.  Since I didn’t finish college and knew less than nothing about publishing, I always laughed at her.  As far as writing goes, I grew up on Stephen King, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Truman Capote.  In my mind, those were authors, and I could never fit into that class of talent.  I still feel that way to this day.  I never dreamed in a million years that I’d actually be a published author now working on my third novel. 

What genre/genres do you prefer to write? Are there other genres you’d like to write in the future?

For me, this is all experimentation-trial and error.  Growing up on Hitchcock and horror films, I’ve always been a fan of mystery and suspense.  Anything dealing with supernatural themes are also a focus.  I did grow up in New Orleans after all.  I’d love to try my hand at Sci-Fi or a romance in the future.  Some may classify PORN AGAIN as a romance when it comes out.  I tend to look at it as being more of a hybrid between a character study and a RomCom.  I’m still very passionate about writing screenplays and ultimately fulfilling my dream of one day resuming actor’s training and getting back up on the stage. 


About the Author



"Just keep writing." Out of those simple words grew a dream that would instill a profound sense of purpose within a young kid born and raised in New Orleans, LA. With only his dreams along with an insatiable drive to be the best he could be, this writer would grow from penning children's literature in the 3rd grade to later writing stageplays and screenplays in college. Heavily influenced by a who's who of incredible writers from Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Ralph Ellison all the way to August Wilson, Arthur Miller and Aaron Sorkin, lazarusInfinity has continued to stretch his creative boundaries to encompass all forms of writing. In addition to writing contemporary fiction and children's stories, he is currently at work on several screenplays along with another novel.

Visit lazarusInfinity

Friday, March 21, 2014

Power. Love. Dark Paranormal Romance. Witch's Bounty by Ann Gimpel.



Today it’s my pleasure to feature Ann Gimpel’s dark paranormal romance, Witch’s Bounty, The Witch Chronicles, Book 1.

Publisher: Taliesin
ISBN: 
Release Date: 3/6/14

Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance

Word count: 63,000 words

GIVEAWAY! Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter after this post for a chance to a $50 Amazon gift card.

Book Description


A demon-stalking witch teams up with a Sidhe, but their combined power, never mind their love, may be too late to make a difference.

One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there.

Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He’s annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she’s needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence.

Colleen can’t believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell’s minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren’t good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill. 

Excerpt


…The bells around the shop door clanged a discordant riot of notes. “Crap!” Jenna shot to her feet. “I should have locked the damned door.”

“Back to cat form.” Colleen flicked her fingers at Bubba, who shrank obligingly and slithered out of clothing, which puddled around him. She snatched up his shirt and pants and dropped them back into the canister.

“I say,” a strongly accented male voice called out. “Is anyone here?”

“I’ll take care of the Brit,” Colleen mouthed. “Take Bubba to the basement and practice.”

She got to her feet and stepped past the curtain. “Yes?” She gazed around the dimly lit store for their customer.

A tall, powerfully built man, wearing dark slacks and a dark turtleneck, strode toward her, a woolen greatcoat slung over one arm. His white-blond hair was drawn back into a queue. Arresting facial bones—sculpted cheeks, strong jaw, high forehead—captured her attention and stole her breath. He was quite possibly the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. Discerning green eyes zeroed in on her face, caught her gaze, and held it. Magic danced around him in a numinous shroud. Strong magic.

What was he?

And then she knew. Daoine Sidhe. The man had to be Sidhe royalty. No wonder he was so stunning it almost hurt to look at him.

Colleen held her ground. She placed her feet shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her chest. 
“What can I help you with?”

“Colleen Kelly?”

Okay, so he knows who I am. Doesn’t mean a thing. He’s Sidhe. Could have plucked my name right out of my head. “That would be me. How can I help you?” she repeated, burying a desire to lick nervously at her lips.

“Time is short. I’ve been hunting you for a while now. Come closer, witch. We need to talk.”

***

Duncan Regis eyed the grim-faced woman standing in front of him. She was quite striking with such stunning bone structure—high cheekbones, square jaw—she could have been a runway model. Her unwavering pale blue eyes held his gaze. Dressed in brown wool slacks, a multicolored sweater, and scuffed leather boots, she had auburn curls that cascaded to waist level. A scattering of freckles coated her upturned nose. Her lips would have been full if they weren’t pursed into a hard line.

He knew he was staring, but couldn’t help himself. Colleen was tall for a woman, close to six feet, with well-defined shoulders, generous breasts, and a slender waist that flared to trim hips. He smelled her apprehension and was pleased she was able to cloak it so well with the defiant angle of her chin and the challenge in her icy stare.

Despite his earlier command, she didn’t move. Annoyance coiled in his gut. He could summon magic and force her, but he wanted—no, make that needed—her cooperation. Compulsion spells had a way of engendering lingering resentments. He smiled, but it felt fake so he gave it up. “I like women with spirit, but I’m used to being obeyed.”

She frowned and tilted her chin another notch. “I’ll just bet you are. I’m not coming one angstrom closer until you tell me why a Sidhe is hunting for me.”

Surprise registered. He tried to mask it, just like he’d attempted to disguise himself in a human glamour. Duncan tamped down a wry grin, wondering if his second ploy had worked any better than his first.
“Not really.” She tapped one booted toe. “I read minds. You’ll have to do a better job warding yours, if you want to keep me out.” Colleen exhaled briskly. “Look. Maybe it would be easier if you just told me why you’re here. I’m sort of busy just now and I don’t have a bunch of time to spar with you.”

“You don’t have any choice.”

“Oh yes I do.” Anger wafted from her in thick clouds. Along with it a spicy, rose scent, tinged with jasmine, tickled his nostrils and did disconcerting things to his nether regions. He resisted an urge to rearrange his suddenly erect cock. Colleen unfolded her arms, extended one, and pointed toward the door. “Out. Now.”
“You’re making a terrible mistake—”

“Maybe so, but this is my turf. If you force me with your magic, you’ll have broken the rules that bind your kind—and the covenant amongst magic-wielders.”

Duncan’s temper kindled, but it didn’t dampen the lust seeping along his nerve endings. Rules be damned. He could flatten this persnickety witch, or better yet, weave a love spell and bind her to him that way. Maybe he should do just that and have done with things. He clasped his hands behind him to quash the temptation to call magic. The movement stretched his trousers across his erection, making it obvious if she chose to look down.

Something dark streaked from the back of the shop and planted itself in front of him, hissing and spitting. Gaia’s tits. A cat. He stared at it. Hmph. Maybe not a cat after all. Duncan reached outward with a tendril of magic. Before it reached the creature, Colleen bent and scooped it into her arms. The not-a-cat wriggled and hissed, but she held fast.

“Leave him alone,” she said through clenched teeth. “He’s mine.”

Duncan narrowed his eyes. “Damn if it isn’t a changeling. How’d he end up with you?”

Her foot tapped the scarred wooden floor again, its beat so regular it could have been a metronome. “I asked you a whole lot of questions.” She took a step backward. “But the only one I want to know the answer to is—”

“What the fuck are you doing?” Jenna wavered into view, having teleported in from somewhere. Her gaze landed on the cat. “Thank Christ! For a minute there I thought the little bastard got away from me.”
“Jenna,” Colleen snapped. “The Sidhe have deigned to call.”

The other woman whipped around and stared at Duncan. He stared back. What was it with these witches? Had they taken some sort of potion to supersize themselves? She made Colleen look positively petite. Jenna sidled closer to Colleen; part of her height came from high heels, but she was still an imposing woman. “What does he want?” she growled.

Duncan cleared his throat. “I’m right here. You can ask me.”

“Fine.” Jenna put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing here?”

“How do you know I want anything?” he countered, trying to buy time to figure out what to do now. He hadn’t counted on two witches, and a changeling.

“Because if you didn’t, Colleen would have shooed you out of here by now. You really do need to leave. We’re busy.”

He snorted. “Yes. Colleen made that abundantly clear.” He looked from one witch to the other. At least his erection was fading a bit. Crowds always had a dampening effect on his libido. Many other Sidhe thrived on group sex, but he’d never appreciated its appeal.

“Either tell us what you want right now,” Colleen moved toward him, cat still in her arms, “or leave. I’m going to count to three—”

“Maeve’s teeth, witch! We’re on the same side.”

“Generally speaking,” Jenna joined Colleen about three feet away from him, “that’s probably true, but the Sidhe have never helped us.”

Colleen quirked a brow. “No, they haven’t.” Her eyes narrowed. “And I have this prescient feeling that Sidhe-boy here is about to ask for a pretty big favor.”

“Sidhe-boy?” The dregs of his lust scattered; he crimped his hands into fists. “Show some respect.”

“You’re not respecting me,” Colleen said. “I’ve asked you to leave—twice. No, make that three times.” The not-a-cat finally twisted free. He skimmed over the distance to Duncan and buried his claws in his leg.

“Why you changeling bastard!” Duncan shook his leg. The thing didn’t even budge. He bent, curled his hands around the furred body, and tugged. The thing bit him. Anger flashed. Magic followed. The changeling howled and fell into a heap on the floor.

“Goddammit!” Colleen shrieked. “He was just trying to protect me. If you’ve killed him…”

“I didn’t. He’s only stunned.” Duncan rubbed his ankle, glanced at the puncture wounds on his hand, and directed healing magic to both places.

Colleen sprang forward and gathered the creature into her arms. Duncan felt her magic quest into its small body. She blew out an audible breath. Cradled against her, shrouded by her long hair, the changeling mewled softly.

Duncan shook his head. He’d hoped to be subtle, accommodating, encouraging, so the witch would at least hear him out with an open mind. The time for that was long past. “All right.” He spread his hands in front of him. The flesh wounds on the one were already nearly closed. “I’m here because we’ve had problems with Irichna demons—”

“Christ on a fucking crutch,” Jenna cut in. “Seems like they’re on everyone’s mind these days. We were just—”

Colleen rounded on her. “Shut up!”

“Oops. Sorry.” Jenna held out her arms for the changeling. “I’ll just take him and—”

“No.” Colleen’s voice was more like a growl. “You’ll stay right here.” She placed the changeling in the other witch’s arms and turned to face Duncan. “I know you’re Sidhe, but who are you?”

“Duncan Regis.” He held out a hand. She ignored it, so he let it drop to his side.

“Regis, Regis,” she mumbled, her eyes narrowed in thought. “Ruling class from somewhere in Scotland.”
He nodded, impressed. “Northern England, at the moment, but the border has moved around a bit over the years. I do lay claim to Scottish roots. I didn’t know witches studied our family lines.”

“Witches don’t, but I did.”

“Any particular reason?” He was almost sorry he’d asked. She had strong feelings about the Sidhe, and he was about to find out why.

The changeling yowled, obviously recovered from his semi-comatose state. Jenna cursed and set him down. “Damn it! He scratched me.”

Duncan thought about saying something cheery, like welcome to the club, but bit back the words.

Colleen rolled her eyes. “He wants to talk. There’ll be no peace until he shifts.” She flicked magic toward the creature winding itself between her booted feet. The air shimmered and a rather large gnome took form.

He rocked toward Duncan with a bow-legged gait that made him look like a drunken sailor; his open mouth displayed squared off teeth. “I’ll tell you why she knows about you.” The changeling drew himself to his full height of about three-and-a-half feet. “She came to the Old Country looking for help during the last demon war. You Sidhe were too high and mighty to get your hands dirty, so she had to settle for me.”

Colleen snickered. “Not exactly the way I might have described it, but close enough. Hey, Bubba! Get some clothes on.”

“Later,” the changeling snapped without looking at her.

“Which of us did you approach?” Duncan made the question casual. Whoever turned Colleen down had broken the covenant binding magic-wielders to come to one another’s aid in times of need. He wondered if she knew.

“Of course I do.” She sneered. “Your thoughts are as transparent as a child’s. Even Bubba here,” she pointed to the changeling, “does a better job masking his feelings when he puts his mind to it.”

“Thanks.” The changeling glowered at her before transferring his attention back to Duncan.

“What kind of name is Bubba?” Duncan linked to the changeling, and was surprised by the complexity of his thoughts. Maybe the witches had been a good influence.

“You didn’t have to just push your way in.” The changeling screwed up his seamed face in disgust, but didn’t draw back. “My true name is Niall Eoghan.”

“Clothes,” Colleen reminded him.

Bubba made a face at her, turned, and walked behind one of the display cases. When he emerged, he wore wide-bottomed green trousers and a black shirt.

“Irish.” Puzzle pieces clicked into place and Duncan transferred his attention back to Colleen. “You never did tell me who you’d asked for help. It appears they not only turned you down, but chased you across the Irish Sea.”

“We left voluntarily,” Jenna said.

Colleen’s lips twisted in distaste. Whatever she remembered apparently didn’t sit well. “We spoke with two Sidhe at Inverlochy Castle outside Inverness. They refused to give us their names, but said they were princes over your people. They heard us out and sent us packing. Gave us twenty-four hours to leave Scottish soil.”
“I was all for staying,” Jenna chimed in. “After all, we had passports.”

“Was it just the two of you?” Duncan asked.

“Roz was with us,” Colleen said.

Understanding washed through him. “Three. You brought three to maximize your power.”

Colleen’s full mouth split into a chilly smile. “We were under attack by the Irichna. Would you have done any less?”

“Probably not. So after we, that is, the Sidhe—”

“We worked fine,” Bubba said flatly. “Unless you’ve decided to renounce your heritage.”

Duncan traded pointed looks with the changeling. “Speaking of magic, you’re stronger than any changeling I’ve ever come across.”

“That’s because you’re used to our feeble Scottish cousins. They were stronger before you stripped their magic and diverted it for your own purposes.”

“Enough.” Colleen snapped her fingers. “Or I’ll change you back into a cat. We don’t need a history lesson just now.” She shook her hair back over her shoulders. The movement strained her sweater tighter across her breasts. Duncan dragged his gaze elsewhere.

“About the Irichna—” he began.

“We can’t help you,” Colleen said flatly.

“Why not? We’d pay you well.”

“It’s not a matter of money, although I’m not sure you could afford us.”

“We have an, um, previous engagement,” Jenna offered.

“Whoever it is, we need you more than they do.” He looked from one witch to the other.

Colleen dropped her gaze and rubbed the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index fingers. When she looked up, the skin around her eyes was pinched with worry. “I’m not sure it’s a matter of who needs whom more.” She speared him with her pale blue gaze. “Do the Sidhe know why the demons are so much more active here of late?”

He debated how much to tell her. Given her ability to burrow inside his head, it was unlikely he’d be able to hide much. If he told her everything, though, it might piss her off. Hell’s bells, it annoyed the crap out of him. “Not exactly.”

Her nostrils flared. “You can do better than that. If you can’t, the door is behind you.” She folded her arms beneath her breasts. “Talk now or leave now. It’s all the same to me.” 

About the Author




Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

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