Hidden Magic Is Out!!

Tags

, , ,

3dscattered-books

I’m super excited to announce that my newest fantasy story, along with the works of 19 other amazing authors, is now available on Amazon for 99¢ & Kindle Unlimited!

Hidden Magic released on March 10th and is already #1 in one of its Amazon categories and hit #1 in Hot New Releases.

** Read Chapter One from my novella below **

What makes this anthology special?

This is the start of a trilogy of fantasy anthologies unlike anything you’ve seen before. The project required each author to write 3 interconnected novellas, like installments in a TV show, that make a complete story by the end – That’s 20 complete stories!

These are set to rapid release (March, April, May), so you won’t have to wait long for the next installments.

As promised, below is all of Chapter One from my novella: A Veil Is Parted – available exclusively in Hidden Magic

HM

The synopsis:

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war. After years of battle between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace. Meeting with the troll king in secret is the only hope for a ceasefire. When the trolls ambush him instead, Simith flees through a doorway hidden by magic into another world. Wounded, he’ll need to defeat his pursuers and get home before anyone realizes he’s gone. If his commanders find out what he’s been up to, the trolls will be the least of his worries.

In Skylark, Michigan, Jessa leaves a party after some devastating news. Cutting through her neighbor’s sunflower farm, she runs into a fight between creatures straight out of a fantasy novel – only the blood is very real. When one of them falls to his attackers, Jessa decides to intervene. She’s known too much death to stand idly by, but what does a poet like her know about fighting? As their weapons turn against her, Jessa realizes how much she stands to lose, even for someone who’s already lost everything.

***

CHAPTER ONE

The arrow took Simith in the back.

It punched through his left wing and lodged itself below his shoulder blade. Flitting between the trees on his way to the meeting place, he almost lost his hold on the next branch as pain exploded across his body. He scrambled for cover amid the foliage, swallowing his pained gasps, but leaves were sparse at this spot in the Jaded Grove. He didn’t find it in time.

The second arrow drove through his right wing, ripping the aft membrane, but he was fortunate. The arrowhead only split the leathers by his ribs. He found a nest of twisted branches and crouched behind them, trying to quiet his ragged breath—trying to think. He’d made certain he wasn’t followed when he left camp. No one saw him depart and he hadn’t dared tell anyone his plans, not his fellow knights and certainly not the Helms. Who was attacking him?

The arrowhead burned in his back. With sinking dread, he noted the numbness in his left arm. Iron. It was made of iron, which meant his magic was inhibited and he couldn’t heal the wound. Simith pressed his brow to the black bark. Only one creature could wield iron without poisoning themselves. He clunked his head against the wood, cursing himself. Of course, the trolls would ambush him. They had no reason to believe his appeal for a truce was in earnest, not from a knight who’d butchered more of their kind than any other. What better way to kill him off than when he was alone, on a mission no one knew about?

Hollow disappointment blended with his fury. He wasn’t sure whether it came by their blatant betrayal, or that he’d failed to make Rim’s dream come true. What did it matter? He’d been a fool. He was a fighter, not a peacemaker, and the dead buried their dreams in the ground along with their broken flesh.

Maybe soon, he’d be buried along with them.

Simith’s keen ears picked up on the whisper of footfalls over the mossy earth below. He could no longer fly and he couldn’t outrun them. He had his knives though, and his crystal blade. If he could wield it. He folded his limbs closer, shielding as much of his body as possible behind the wood. The muted green of his leathers should’ve camouflaged him, though night had fallen hours ago. The shadows were more friend to trolls than pixies. Their arrows couldn’t pierce these enchanted trees at least. Simith might have been a fool to trust them, but he hadn’t chosen the Jaded Grove as the meeting place by happenstance.

“Little Moth,” a gravelly voice called from below. “Your flight is done.”

“You’re not that precise with your bow,” he called back. “A sprite has better aim than your kind.”

“The scent of your blood is as sweet as sugar, pixie,” came another’s eager chortle. “Come down and tarry with us a while.”

“Join me up here and I’ll tarry all you want.”

Silence followed. Only stone welcomed the touch of a troll. No tree would abide them. He’d witnessed it before, the way the bark groaned in warning and the branches trembled with outrage before the wood shook them off like a tick. The roots would draw themselves from the soil to squeeze throats and ribcages. The Fae of the former Seelie and Unseelie courts had made sentinels of the forests that ringed their respective domains. Even a century after the destruction of their race, the Fae’s powerful influence lingered in the green world.

It might’ve been the certainty of this power that slowed Simith’s reaction to the snapping of twigs and the scrape of boots against the tree trunk. They couldn’t be climbing up, he assured himself. He’d have felt the rising ire through the bark. A trick, then, to lure him from cover.

Simith risked a glance. Eyes glowed up from the lower branches, yellow witchlights in the gloom moving steadily closer. He gaped down at them in astonishment.

“Impossible,” he whispered.

The brush of air whizzed by his face before he felt the skin split high on his cheekbone. Simith reacted on instinct, hurling a silver blade at the encroaching eye shine. One winked out. A scream rent the quiet grove and a body crashed to the ground. He counted four more pairs of eyes, their stout forms a shadowed outline in the darkness. None of them watched their comrade’s demise, gazes fixed upward on him. They continued to climb.

Simith did the same. Magic, he decided, gritting his teeth as he clambered toward higher branches, the iron arrowhead scraping against his shoulder blade. They must have procured a conduit through which to funnel their magic in a way that the trees didn’t recognize them as trolls. He didn’t know that was possible. Every conduit had a particular signature that marked its user. Sprites typically used a crown of roan berries, the hobgoblins steel piercings they wore on their skin, the boggarts the bones of their first kill. A conduit could not simply be swapped for another. They became as near and familiar as a limb.

Could they be using power without a conduit? Simith dismissed the notion out of hand. To draw raw magic into oneself was as lethal as swallowing flames. Only the immortal Fae had been capable of wielding it, their very blood fabled to be made of the same elements. Even the fairies, their cousin race, had to use conduits.

Yet, he couldn’t refute the quick sounds of pursuit behind him. None of this made sense. For now, it didn’t have to. For now, he simply had to escape, get back to the Thistle Court and confess to his commanders his foolhardy attempt to forge an accord with the trolls—and hope the fairies wouldn’t see it as treason.

Escape first, he ordered himself, noting with some worry that his mind was growing unorganized. It had to be the iron still lodged in his body. He didn’t have time to stop and remove the arrows. He wasn’t moving fast enough either; they were closing in on him. If he could leap to another tree, it might impede their chase. They’d managed to climb this one, but the ground-loving trolls weren’t as experienced moving between tree tops as he.

Simith found his chance in a tangle of branches that led away from the trunk he climbed. He followed them, barely as wide as his calf, but sturdy enough to bear his weight. With any luck, it would snap under the much heavier trolls should they dare to follow.

Working his way across in a crouch, he was halfway to the neighboring tree when a third arrow struck him. It plunged through his sword arm, just above the elbow. Simith couldn’t silence the hoarse cry. His foot slipped, slamming him chest-first into the solid wood. He threw another knife, a mere guess at the direction the arrow had come, barely clinging on with his legs. He heard a troll curse, but knew he’d hit nothing vital. The distraction bought him enough time to struggle the rest of the distance and put the trunk between them.

“Where is your famed battle lust now, Sun Fury?” one of them mocked. “We thought there’d be a better fight than this.”

Hazy with pain, Simith hadn’t the breath to pretend at bravado, his hands shaking, his skin soaked in blood.

The branches he’d used to cross trembled with the weight of another crossing. His heart sank. How were they doing this?

Simith dragged himself up and climbed anew. Slower than before. They must’ve heard his graceless movements. Triumphant snickers filled the night air.

“Why do this?” he called down, grasping at the frail hope of parlay. “My intention to discuss peace was in earnest.”

“Safer to trust a boggart with a newborn babe than to allow you near our king.”

He gritted his teeth. “Your army is on the brink of collapse. The fairies will send their legions to rout what’s left of it and march toward your homes.”

No reply.

“You’re making a mistake,” he shouted.

“It’s too late for peace.”

He said no more, cold despair settling on his feverish skin. Rim’s last words to him sounded in his head.

Don’t let the blade wield you, Sim. It’s your hand on the hilt. Your choice. Your will.

But she was wrong. Violence had wrung all choice from him. Even under a banner of peace, his enemies saw him as only a weapon.

Those same enemies crossed from the first tree to this one more expertly than he would’ve expected of a troll. The branches somehow held their substantial weight. Simith drew a steadying breath and prepared himself. Though he likely deserved it, he refused to be felled like an injured bird. He gripped his crystal blade, not yet drawing it. His magic would light the darkness like a blinding ray of dawn. They might know his position and scent his blood on the air, but he doubted they expected him to turn and fight, not after he’d already fled so far.

A tremor beneath his feet pulled his attention to the branch on which he knelt. He frowned at it, wondering if he’d imagined the wood had stirred. He bit back a sound of surprise when the bark under his palm did the same. It rippled, a vibration that travelled up his fingers and down the bones of his hand. As if it beckoned him. He put his cheek to its rough skin, and listened.

Climb, it murmured into his ear. Up. Now.

Simith released his sword, summoned what strength he had, and obeyed. The Fae had taught their trees to speak, though they rarely did. Until this moment which he’d thought his last, he’d never experienced it before. And he didn’t believe in serendipity. With clumsy arms and shaking legs, he pulled himself slowly and unsteadily upward, knowing all the while that he likely climbed toward a dead end. Toward death. The sentinels of the Jaded Grove were known to be tall enough their branches could block the midday sun in some areas, but once he arrived at the top, it was over.

Still, he continued without hesitation, the tree murmuring at him all the while; Higher. Higher. Go. Sounds of pursuit came from below, though blessedly, no more arrows. The branches grew dense here, weaving between each other in the complicated patterns of the green world. Perhaps they didn’t think they could aim for him clearly. Perhaps they needed to concentrate on their hand and footholds this high up. Or—the more likely reason—they saw no need to put in the extra effort when eventually they’d catch up to—

His head collided with something solid. Startled, he jerked down a pace, staring upward in confusion. He could see nothing. That, in itself seemed odd. No sky, no stars. Not even the shadowy outline of branches leading on. He lifted a hand, wincing with the movement, and his fingers brushed against a wide, smooth surface. Pressing the whole of his palm against it, he swept outward, trying to locate the edge. Could it be a knotty shelf grown out of the tree?

It didn’t feel like wood. It was soft, and gave when he pressed in, bits of it breaking off to scatter over his face in a gritty rainfall. Dirt? He rubbed it between his fingers. The texture held that of soil. How could that be?

Up, up, up, the tree chanted again.

Branches creaked somewhere farther down. His pursuers approached. Simith skimmed his hands across the silty surface, but he found nothing. No edge. No hole. Nothing to get him past this barrier.

Higher. Climb. Climb!

Not knowing what else to do, Simith burrowed his fingers into the cool surface and gouged out a palm-full of…yes, it was dirt. He tossed it away, delving back in again and again as a hole formed above him. His arm and shoulder became a thundering agony greying his vision, but he could’ve sworn light came through the thinning layers. If he could just get to the top of them—

His hands broke through. An avalanche of dirt fell with it and he turned his head to the side just before he caught a face full of it. Irritated grunts came from below. The trolls had come close enough to be hit by some of that. Hopefully, it gave them pause while Simith frantically dug along the sides to widen the hole enough for his lithe frame. A dim glow filtered its way to him, a breeze whispering past the opening with unfamiliar scents. It didn’t matter where this led. The priority was escape and this was the only one.

He reached for it. His hands found purchase on either side. With fresh blood pulsing from his wounds, he hoisted himself through.

And found himself on the ground.

He gawked at the grass under him, at the solid weight of the green floor. His thoughts couldn’t cobble any sort of logic together to explain it. Simith got his knees under him, trying to gain his bearings. Above him, he glimpsed the stars, a sliver of moon suspended in the sky like a ready scythe. He was no longer in the forest. What magic brought him here? Had he, in his desperation, unwittingly used his own? He touched his chest, his conduit hidden beneath the leathers he wore, but felt no tell-tale heat. If magic had done this, it hadn’t come from him.

He looked behind him and stared at the hole in the ground. A hole he’d carved with his own hands at the top of a tree in the Jaded Grove, a hole that led to…Where? Even the air smelled different.

He glanced around him, but what he saw only disoriented him further. Rows and rows of sunflowers, planted in organized lines like crops. A warm breeze moved between them, shifting them so their round heads waved in greeting. In the distance he heard something. Music. Drums, but unlike any he’d known before. A battle nearby? In a field of sunflowers?

“Where am I?” Simith whispered, just as a hand grabbed his leg.

***

What other stories will you find in the anthology?

HM_3D

No matter the world, life can be dangerous. Be they wizards and shamans, assassins, or everyday people, Hidden Magic tells their stories about escape, consequences, and most of all, magic. From Earth cities and fantastical new worlds comes a collection of stories where heroes grapple with the seen and unseen in order to save themselves, their families, and often the world. This collection features:

  • Elderly antiques experts interacting with souls
  • Shamans growing outlawed magic
  • Baby chimeras battling for their lives
  • Children sprouting fluffy tails
  • A king’s boat thrown off-course
  • A perfect life coming at a not-so-perfect cost
  • Vikings defending a village against the unseen
  • A lone shifter atoning for his past mistakes
  • Trolls and pixies tumbling through the doorway to another world
  • And more!

The book will only be 99¢ on Amazon for a little while longer, so grab your copy quick!! – Or download via Kindle Unlimited!

Get To Know…

Magical Mayhem Press

Jessa Dimaandal from Skylark, Michigan, an award-winning poet who can’t write poetry anymore, not since what happened eighteen months ago. Below is the final verse she penned before her creative heart went dark.

Find out more about Jessa and the pixie knight she meets battling for his life by grabbing your copy ofHidden Magictoday!

What’s Jessa’s story, “A Veil is Parted,” about?

Simith of Drifthorn is tired of war.

After years of battle between the Thistle court and the troll kingdom, even a pixie knight known for his bloodlust longs for peace.

Meeting with the troll king in secret is the only hope for a ceasefire. When the trolls ambush him instead, Simith flees through a doorway hidden by magic into another world.

Wounded, he’ll need to defeat his pursuers and get home before anyone realizes he’s gone. If his commanders find out what he’s been up to…

View original post 112 more words

So…I’ve been plagiarized

In April of 2018, I published a flash fiction piece on Daily Science Fiction, an awesome site that posts quick stories for Sci-Fi fans every single day. They also pay the writers who submit, which is hard to find for flash fiction these days, and I was incredibly proud to have my story accepted by their editors.

So, you can imagine how it sucks to see it copied. A dear friend of mine gave me a heads up, and I reviewed both stories just in case it might have been a mistake of familiarity, and not actual plagiarism. But, yeah, it is. The writer added more words in, but the sequence of events, some turns of phrase, and the twist at the end (even the final quote) is pirated. No, it’s not word-for-word, but plagiarism takes different forms, the main crux being “to steal and pass off ideas or words of another as one’s own”.

If you’d like to have a look for yourself:

My story “The Farewell” can be found HERE 

Today’s story “Departure” can be found HERE

The saddest part of the whole thing is that in the time it took this person to regurgitate my story, they could’ve written their own. Was it a lack of confidence in their own work that led to this? Did they not feel confident an original piece would get accepted, so they went with something that already had been accepted? We all go through those fits of self-doubt, but the worst thing you can do is trade in your integrity for the quick win. It only leads to a loss for everyone involved.

Upcoming Appearance – Galaxy Con

Tags

, , , ,

GalaxyCon-Minneapolis-2019

If you’ll be in Minnesota between this Friday November 8th and November 11th, come and visit me over at Galaxy Con! It’s going to be an awesome event in Minneapolis with huge celebrities coming including William Shatner, Jonathan Frakes, Dave Batista, and many others. I’m half hyperventilating at the very idea that I’ll be in the same building as these people.

fangirl

If you’re there, you can find me in Artists Alley, spot H4 – they’ve listed me under my imprint: Fine Fables Press. I’ll be signing books and doing a few big swag giveaways over the weekend, and I’d love to see you! (Plus, apparently they’ve sold 25,000+ tickets to this thing and, yeah *blows foghorn* it’s an introvert emergency, someone come hug me PLEASE)

Seriously though, it’s going to be a really great time with loads of fun stuff for both kids and adults, so if you’re in the area, check it out.

Hope to see you there ♥

99¢ Sci-Fi!!

Tags

, , ,

Looking for some Sci-Fi this weekend?

Author A.C. Spahn’s Endurance is only 99 cents! For a limited time, you can grab the complete novella series all in one anthology – which includes 2 bonus short stories! Yay for bonus!!

“The perfect blend of classic science fiction tropes and modern sitcom humor.”
– New York Times Bestselling Author Michael Levin

“Fast paced story, good science fiction, funky aliens, and characters like you and me.”
– Goodreads Reviewer

“A good balance of action and character development, and pacing that keeps you reading without gasping from over exertion.”
– Author Tahlia Newland

amy

A disrespected ship, exiled to lonely patrol in the dark corners of the solar system.
A crew of screw-ups, written off by the entire fleet.
They’re about to change everything.
If they don’t blow themselves up first.

Join the Endurance’s crew – a trigger-happy first officer, a hyperactive engineer, a shy covert operative, a conspiracy-spouting physicist, and a captain trying to earn his way back into his superiors’ good graces – as they explore the galaxy by accident and trip their way into saving the world.

This anthology includes all five Endurance novellas, as well as two bonus short stories.

Available everywhere! Grab your copy before the sale ends!

Night Latch – Chapter One

Tags

, , , ,

It’s launch day for NIGHT LATCH, a new adult urban fantasy full of dangerous quests, supernatural dangers, and loads of good-natured snark. I had loads of fun writing this one and can’t wait to share it with you!

REMINDER: There’s a giveaway contest running through Oct. 8th for those who order the book. More info on that after the excerpt – otherwise go HERE.

Sam Alvarez doesn’t just open locks. He’s the key.

Living in Bellemer, Iowa, Sam leads a typical small-town life. When he’s not looking after his Nana or dealing with his mother’s expectations, he runs a one-man locksmith company. Unlike regular locksmiths, he can open anything with a touch and a wish, but Sam keeps that secret to himself. No reason to alarm the neighbors, after all. And if he sometimes feels an indefinable pull to do more with his life, well, that’s probably just indigestion.

Then one day, an unsettlingly beautiful out-of-towner asks for Sam’s help to open a door. Only one problem: The job’s in a graveyard. And the client? Turns out she’s Death.

Maybe that’s two problems.

When Sam unlocks more than he intended and demons come out to play, he discovers he’s far more than a locksmith with a hidden quirk. Now, he needs to figure out who he is and what he’s been called to do before darker forces close the door on him for good.

***

CHAPTER ONE:

IT WOULD happen any minute now.

The clock on my phone wouldn’t rewind or fast forward no matter how much I stared at it. I would just have to endure what came next.

The walls of Clover Mall echoed with its standard orchestra of early evening shoppers and the intermittent screech of hungry toddler. Almost five-o’clock on a Friday afternoon and time, once again, to steel myself for the inevitable encounter. There was always a chance I’d get lucky this go around. Maybe a massive sink hole would suddenly swallow the town of Bellemer, Iowa and spare me from this weekly ritual. Was it selfish to wish myself and 2,500 innocent bystanders out of existence to avoid an awkward situation?

I shook my head at myself, slouching a bit on the stool propping me up behind the counters of the kiosk. My contract with Clover Mall stipulated someone had to man the center lane space I rented for at least ten hours during the business week. A chronic procrastinator, I wound up doing all of them on the last possible day. Which Mr. Upland knew. Ah, the land mines of owning a small business no one tells you about.

And there he was now. Right on schedule and headed this way. The man had punctuality even German transit operators would admire. He waved cheerfully to shoppers and store owners, exchanging pleasantries with a few. A man in his late-fifties, he became the town celebrity when he won the national lottery jackpot five years ago. Two hundred million. He spent some time in New York but came back home and poured money into Bellemer’s failing economy. He fixed up the schools, the roads, built a museum, a new movie theater with awesome stadium seating, and yes, constructed this fabulous strip mall just off the main highway. He was a great guy. We all loved him.

And he wanted me to date his daughter.

I slouched a bit more and tried to appear engrossed in the ninety-nine-cent comic book I’d rummaged out of the bins at the dollar store. There was no escaping this though.

“Sam, my boy!” Mr. Upland boomed as he leaned his forearms against the counter and gave me an earnest smile. “Big plans for the weekend?”

I lowered the comic and smiled back. “Not really. Work, the usual. What about you?”

Mr. Upland shook his head in exasperation. “You work too much, kid. Business going okay? I could make some inquiries for you with a few companies.”

With a town our size, hardly anyone locked their doors even at night, but there were only three certified locksmiths in operation within thirty miles. Supply and demand, baby. Sam Alvarez, Locksmith Co., LLC was doing fine. Or fine enough for my ambitions.

Better to not say that out loud. He’d only insist on helping me then—which was kind, but wrong knowing the motivation. Not to mention, I didn’t like drawing too much attention to myself. Most locksmiths needed their tools to open locks. Unlike me.

“I appreciate that, sir, but I prefer to make my own way.”

“You’re a stand-up guy, Sam. Hard worker.” His gaze took on a proud twinkle and I tried to avoid direct eye contact. Here it came. “Why don’t you come have dinner with Anna and me at the house tomorrow night? Heidi’s home from college.”

Heidi was a great girl. We went to high school together. She was fun, kind, and had a pair of brown eyes that warmed your soul like hot cocoa in December. She was also a lot smarter than me and her vision for the future after Cornell University didn’t include living out her life in Bellemer, no matter how many improvements her dad made to it. I had no plans to go anywhere. Mr. Upland’s strategy to dangle me as a love interest who’d convince her to move back home for good—probably within a few miles of her parents—wasn’t going to work out.

But she was their only daughter and try as I might each week, I just couldn’t bring myself to fully crush the man’s dream.

“Maybe next week, Mr. Upland. I’m pretty busy this weekend.”

Disappointment dimmed the smile in his eyes. He tapped the counter top and shrugged good naturedly. “All right then. Have a good weekend, Sam. Don’t overwork yourself, hear?”

“You too, sir.”

He turned away, which would’ve been a great moment to shove my face back into the comic book and keep my mouth shut. He moved off, a slight slump to his shoulders.

And it got to me.

“Tell Heidi I said hello, will you?”

He looked back, the twinkle returning. “Absolutely, Sam. Hey, you know she has the Skype on her laptop. Maybe you two could catch up on there.”

“Uh, definitely. Next time I’m online, I’ll send her a message.”

“Good man.” He shot a pair of finger-pistols at me and sauntered off with a lighter step.

I was almost never online. Heidi knew that and would get the message. Besides, from what I’d heard, she was dating a guy on the university football team, a Rhodes scholar and a native New Yorker.

Me? Well, I was hardly the stuff of romance novels. Thanks to my free weights and my evening runs I hadn’t gone into complete Cheeto decline in the three years since graduation. The combined heritage of my parents had given me the height of a Scandinavian with the dark hair and burnished skin of a Colombian mestizo. But girls were looking for someone with ambition, someone who wanted to get out of this town and make something of themselves. One look and it was obvious that wasn’t me.

I lacked inspiration and they all knew it.

Staring blankly at my comic book and mulling over this cheerful thought, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I glanced up to find a young woman standing at the counter. Watching me.

I didn’t hear or see her walk up. She’d simply materialized.

“Sorry, I hadn’t, uh—” I bent down to pick up my fallen book and convince my fists to unclench. Jeez, it was just a customer. Pull it together. I stood and made another try for professionalism. “How can I…?”

Of course, professionalism became more difficult when I focused enough to look at her. Long hair fell in a sheet of black silk down her shoulders with eyes like blue ice set into pale gold skin. She was not from Bellemer. I’d have remembered her. She was beautiful and unsettling at the same time, like watching the skies go dark as a storm rolled in from the east.

I cleared my throat. “How can I help you?”

“You open doors.”

As was my custom around stunning women, my fumbled response was peppered with undeserving bravado.

“Mm-hmm, that’s me. Sam the door opening man.” Dear God, no wonder I hadn’t been on a date in months.

She did not react with the typical pity laugh to which I’d grown unwillingly accustomed. In fact, she didn’t react at all. She did not blink, lean, tap, or shuffle her feet. She didn’t even lay her hands on the counter the way everyone did.

She was just…still.

“I need you to open a door,” she said finally.

“Definitely. Sure. I can do that. I’m available.” Ugh, no. Somebody hit me.

“Not now. Tonight.”

“Okay.” No, it wasn’t. I didn’t do calls at night. “What time?”

“When the moon is high.”

“So, what is that, like, eight o’clock?”

She gave a nod. “That is acceptable. You will find me again at Sunny Oak Hills.”

I turned to my pad and pencil at the register behind me to jot down the information.

“Sunny Oak. That sounds familiar but I don’t think I know it. I’ll need your name and the address.”

But when I turned back, she was gone.

***

Available on Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

The Giveaway Contest

Goodreads

Cover Reveal & Giveaway Contest!!

Tags

, , , , ,

The cover reveal for my new urban fantasy novel, NIGHT LATCH is here!!!!!!

Check out the spectacular cover art Seedlings Design Studio created for the book, including an original illustration of the novel’s main character. I am out of my mind ecstatic about it!!

What’s the story between this gorgeous cover about? I’m glad you asked:

Sam Alvarez doesn’t just open locks. He’s the key.

Living in Bellemer, Iowa, Sam leads a typical small-town life. When he’s not looking after his Nana or dealing with his mother’s expectations, he runs a one-man locksmith company. Unlike regular locksmiths, he can open anything with a touch and a wish, but Sam keeps that secret to himself. No reason to alarm the neighbors, after all. And if he sometimes feels an indefinable pull to do more with his life, well, that’s probably just indigestion.

Then one day, an unsettlingly beautiful out-of-towner asks for Sam’s help to open a door. Only one problem: The job’s in a graveyard. And the client? Turns out she’s Death.

Maybe that’s two problems.

When Sam unlocks more than he intended and demons come out to play, he discovers he’s far more than a locksmith with a hidden quirk. Now, he needs to figure out who he is and what he’s been called to do before darker forces close the door on him for good. 

RELEASE DATE: OCTOBER 1st

***

Yes, you saw that release date correctly. NIGHT LATCH will be out in the world in no time at all and to celebrate I’ve set up an awesome giveaway contest. This is open internationally!

Preorder/order the book by October 8th for a chance to win…

– Fingerless Reading/Writing Gloves showcasing Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” (From Storiarts)

– An adorable keychain with the words “Once Upon A Time…”

– A gorgeous writing journal from Barnes & Noble

– A postcard from the imagined city: Bellemer, Iowa – Sam’s hometown

P L U S

** A $25 Amazon Gift Card **

HOW TO ENTER:

1. Pre-order/Order the book on Amazon by October 8th (Tuesday)

2. Fill out the Google Form with your details*

And that’s it!!

*Hold on to your proof-of-purchase! The winner drawn will need to email a copy of their receipt to receive the prize (Can be a photo/scan/screenshot).

There’s no limit to how many times you can enter. If you buy three copies, make a note of that in the form and you’ll be entered three times. AND, I’ll send you big hugs for buying so many ♥♥♥

NOTE: I will accept entries until 11:59pm CST on October 8th, 2019. Again, this is open internationally.

Notification will be sent to the winner on Oct. 9, the day after the giveaway ends.

HUGE 99¢ Fantasy Book Sale!!

Tags

, , ,

Some may or may not have heard of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (or SPFBO) hosted annually at bestselling author Mark Lawrence’s siteThe short version: It’s an amazing competition for indie authors where bloggers highlight great stories out there that can get lost in the mountainous shuffle of online books.

The rules are simple: The book must be available to buy; it must be self-published and novel-length; and the story must be in the fantasy genre.

spfbo

What does this have to do with huge sale?

This year I’m participating in SPFBO with my May release Beneath Cruel Fathoms and over 120 of us contestants got together to give you an unbelievable discount on over 100 books — All fantasy sub-genres included!

All books are priced at just $0.99 but only until August 20th!!

To have a look and pick up some reads CLICK HERE to go to the sale page. Everything has been organized into the fantasy sub-genres for easy shopping.

Don’t miss out! Head over there before the sale ends!

FBBAnner4

Cover Reveal & Fairytale Giveaway!

Tags

, , ,

Good friend and author Intisar Khanani’s book Thorn is set to release in March of 2020 and I’m super excited to give you a look at the new cover!!

I LOVE IT SO MUUUUCH! And the story is just as beautiful as the art. A Grimm-inspired fairytale retelling of The Goose Girl, this world is full of intrigue, magic, and a princess faced with a choice between two very different paths.

Official Synopsis:

A princess with two futures. A destiny all her own.

Between her cruel family and the contempt she faces at court, Princess Alyrra has always longed to escape the confines of her royal life. But when she’s betrothed to the powerful prince Kestrin, Alyrra embarks on a journey to his land with little hope for a better future.

When a mysterious and terrifying sorceress robs Alyrra of both her identity and her role as princess, Alyrra seizes the opportunity to start a new life for herself as a goose girl. 

But Alyrra soon finds that Kestrin is not what she expected. The more Alyrra learns of this new kingdom, the pain and suffering its people endure, as well as the danger facing Kestrin from the sorceress herself, the more she knows she can’t remain the goose girl forever.

With the fate of the kingdom at stake, Alyrra is caught between two worlds and ultimately must decide who she is, and what she stands for.

The Pre-order is available HERE

Add to Goodreads HERE

***

Now, about that G I V E A W A Y

In celebration of the cover reveal, the author has set up a FAIRYTALE GIVEAWAY with some seriously awesome swag. The prize pack includes:

  • A snowy owl enamel pin
  • A gorgeous quill pen set
  • A “Fairy Dust” candle
  • And a goose feather watercolor painting made by the author on a page from the book
  • PLUS a US $25 Gift Card to a book retailer of your choice.

The prize pack is U.S. only, but there’s also a $25 gift card for those who are outside of the US. Entry is done the same way for both.

HOW TO ENTER:

A Rafflecopter page has been set up to enter in the giveaway which ENDS ON JULY 18TH (next week Thursday!!) so hurry over there now!!

Once again:

The Pre-order is available HERE

Add to Goodreads HERE

This is a truly beautiful story, everyone. If you love fantasy, this is definitely a book you want to get your hands on.

Check out an excerpt below:

At the far end of the corral I spot the white. He watches me, head raised, bright eyes alert. My heart aches for him.

“I don’t know how I’m going to free you,” I say, resting my hand on the wooden rail. Tonight there’ll be a guard posted, and even now the kitchen staff pass the door at intervals, just enough of a presence that I dare not let him out. “Valka’s the sort that will send you to the knacker when she realizes she can’t ride you. I wish you’d gotten away when you could.”

“I chose to stay, princess,” he replies, his voice deep and gentle.

My mouth drops open. What? “Did you—did you just speak?”

The horse seems mildly gratified by my shock. “Yes,” he says.

I can see his mouth move, though his lips don’t quite shape the word that rings in my ears. He’s speaking, out loud, shaping sounds a horse’s mouth has no ability to make.

“But how?”

“I expect that should be obvious.”

I press my hand against the top of my head, as if I might thereby straighten my thoughts. Nothing makes any sense at all, except, perhaps: “Magic?”

He dips his head, for all the world as if he were a courtier.

“Are you cursed?” I demand, letting go of my head to catch the rail between us.

“No,” he says, his voice lightening with amusement. “Not at all. It is my nature to be able to speak. I merely prefer not to flaunt it before your kind.”

Beneath Cruel Fathoms – Chapter One

Tags

, , ,

Today is RELEASE DAY for Beneath Cruel Fathoms!!

This was one of the harder books I’ve written. It took longer than expected to finish, required loads of research, and dealt with a topic that is very personal to me. Beginning to end, it threw a lot of surprises into my path and had me scratching my head going, “Well. That was unexpected.” I had an outline, people. I swear.

And today, I sent it out into the world. Phew, where’s that glass of wine? 😉

BeneathCruelFathoms_LoRes

After a violent storm destroys her ship, Isaura Johansdottir knows better than to hope she’ll be rescued from Eisland’s vast Failock Sea. Adrift and alone, her plans to start over lost, it’s a tragic conclusion after the disastrous end of her marriage—until she’s saved by Leonel, one of the merfolk, a creature long believed extinct. In repayment for her life, Leonel enlists her help to investigate the Failock’s mysterious and deadly plague of squalls. When Isaura discovers Eisland’s ruthless new Lord commands the storms, her life will be in more danger on land than it ever was at sea.

As guardian of the Fathoms, Leonel must find the cause of unnatural storms ravaging the tidal currents and destroying the sea life. There are rumors of dark magic stirring in the Orom Abyss, the resting place of old, vanquished gods who tried to submerge the land millennia ago. Yet without proof, no one in King Ægir’s court will listen to him. And if it’s discovered he broke the Blue Laws to save a shipwrecked landweller, he might not survive the consequences.

As storms spread, Leonel and Isaura uncover secrets as forbidden as the bond that grows between them. Betrayal lurks in the restless sea, and when ancient powers lay siege to Eisland’s coast, the truth may be drowned along with everything else.

***

CHAPTER ONE:

The Failock Sea spoke gently.

From within her quarters aboard the Visundr, Isaura listened to the steady ritual of nighttime waves brushing against the hull and the relative quiet of the ship. Most of the men would be in their bunks by now, leaving the night crew to man the cargo freighter until dawn. If she wanted to go out there, this was the moment.

As had been her routine each evening, Isaura cracked open her cabin door to listen. The sea breeze streamed in like a visitor she’d been ignoring, ruffling the strands of blonde hair that had escaped the hood of her cloak. Hearing nothing more than the murmur of sailors and the creak of ropes, Isaura stole out from her cabin for the breath of fresh air she’d been longing for all day. This was the only time she could be sure Captain Wendelsson had retired to his bunk and would be unavailable to herd her back inside like some vulnerable lamb wandering away from the flock.

When she’d negotiated her passage aboard his ship, she had agreed to obey his rules while on board. She just hadn’t expected one of them to be so outrageous. Her ability to accede to his edict that a single and unchaperoned woman should not traipse about the deck had expired within a day of this two-week journey from Dinark to Eisland. Isaura made other arrangements to secure her freedom of movement—even an unaccompanied woman was entitled to air, wasn’t she?—and sailors taking the night shift were more than happy to exchange their silence for the services of a healer. She had only just finished her apprenticeship, but natural talent and five years learning from renowned healer Hekla Larsdottir inspired their confidence where her twenty-five years might not.

The wheelman, Gunnar, sighted her as she stepped onto the deck. He shot a quick look toward the entrance to the crew cabins and then beckoned her over with a toothy smile.

“I’d hoped you might come out. Watch your step now. Kristofer’s been decorating the wood from his watch,” he nodded toward the crow’s nest at the top of the mast he stood beside then gestured at deck boards. Even in the dim light of the lantern secured beside the wheel, Isaura made out the chunky splatters speckling the area.

She stepped carefully around them, wrinkling her nose. “Is he sick?”

“Ate something what didn’t agree with him.”

“Like the cheese I told him he’s allergic to?”

“Aye,” he chuckled, swiping wisps of his frothy red hair out of his wind-worn face. “Said he couldn’t believe the gods would be cruel enough to cleave him from his favorite food. He sent a few coins over the side in appeal to Ægir and supped on both cheese and faith.”

And idiocy. Isaura dug into the satchel slung across her shoulder. “What did he think the Lord of the Ocean could do to alleviate a dairy allergy? That’s not exactly His domain.”

Gunnar shrugged. “A sailor knows better than to pray to other gods whilst crossing the Sea King’s territory, especially with the temper of this year’s storm season.”

That was true enough. Several ships had gone down in recent months. Even in the midst of sorting through the wreckage of her life, the news of them had reached Isaura’s ears. No survivors, only bits and pieces of debris scattered across the white-capped waves. Not all storms were spun by the gods of Aegirheim, but even the oldest sailors couldn’t recall when the sea had been as treacherous as this.

Isaura had planned to wait for a calmer season before leaving the greater isle of Dinark for Eisland. After that day at the market though, drowning by sea sounded preferable to drowning by sorrow. Now that she was out here, remembering those accounts turned her gaze skyward with a nervous pang.

She needn’t have worried. The night sky twinkled quietly above, the breeze a steady puff against the sails, and although she could not see the slide and shift of the waves, they whispered an untroubled hiss from the darkness. All was well.

A low call came from the crow’s nest. The flicker of the distant torch high above outlined the silhouette of someone leaning over the railing of the basket.

“Keep your voice down lest you want the captain to come out,” Gunnar called back in the same lowered tone, cupping his hands around his mouth. He turned back to her. “I don’t suppose you have something in your miracle bag to stop that fool boy from painting the ship more than he has? We’ll be up swabbing the deck till midday as it is.”

Isaura grimaced sympathetically and retrieved the tonic she’d been looking for from her satchel. “Two draughts now and two at sunrise,” she instructed. “That should settle the digestive upset.”

Gunnar took the clay flask and set it in the canvas sack sitting on a loop of rope at the base of the mast. With a quick whistle, he signaled with his hands—two fingers, then two fingers again—before sending the sack upward on the pulley. When it arrived, the silhouette dipped down to retrieve it, then signaled something back.

“He sends his thanks,” Gunner told her.

“It’s my pleasure.”

“Do you mean to head to your spot, miss, or have you inhaled enough of the perfume Kristofer provided us down here?”

That had been her intention, but the night was cooler than she’d expected, her fingers already stiff since she’s forgotten to bring her gloves. Still, the quiet of her cabin made her chest feel tight and her thoughts deafening. She usually slept better after she spent time in the night air with the Failock’s song filling her head.

“I think I’ll take in the view a few minutes before heading in.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, what is it you look at from the prow? Not much to see in the dark.”

It was hard to explain why the absence of a view comforted her. For some reason, she liked the inability to see ahead. No reason to worry about what might happen if you didn’t know it was there. Then again, being blind to things hadn’t spared her from any heartbreak.

“It helps me clear my head,” she told Gunnar.

The wheelman nodded, as if that made perfect sense. “Not too long, if you please. Captain’s been checking in on us at odd times and I’d rather he didn’t decide his night crew needs a flogging for insubordination.”

She gaped. “Would he really do that?”

“He’s in a mood this trip.”

“Because of me,” she sighed in exasperation. “What is Wendelsson’s displeasure with me? I paid him well and haven’t gotten in anyone’s way.”

“Captain’s not used to passengers, this being a cargo ship. And, well,” Gunnar offered a slight smile that gentled the blunt words that came next, “might be he resents not having a choice in the matter, what with you mentioning your father’s name.”

“I never gave him my father’s name. Only mine.”

“Johansdottir, you told him, on your way to Eisland to see your father. There’s but one Johan living there, and no man, even a captain, would refuse to bring home the daughter of a celebrated knight such as he, retired or not. As I’m sure you knew, miss, smart as you are.”

She didn’t try to argue it. He was right. In a week’s time, a passenger liner could’ve taken her, but she hadn’t wanted to wait. She couldn’t bear another seven days. If she were honest, she had more or less bullied her way aboard, forcing the captain to make adjustments, including, though she’d argued it unnecessary, giving up his cabin to ensure she slept secure and separate from the crew.

Isaura stared at her boots. “I never meant to be a nuisance.”

“Not to worry, miss. We’ve had a merry time watching the captain bluster and stomp,” Gunnar replied, all smirk. “Haven’t had a ship’s healer in a few voyages neither, which has been fine indeed.”

She smiled and patted his shoulder. “You’re a kind man, Gunnar.”

“Might be that I am. Just don’t mention it to Kristofer. When I tell him I mean to toss him overboard if he so much as looks at cheese again, I want him to believe it.”

“Your secret’s safe with me,” she laughed as she stepped away. “I won’t stay out here long.”

The wind had picked up, blustery and damp. Isaura pulled her cloak tighter around herself, grateful she’d remembered to put on that second pair of woolen stockings under her layered skirts. The darkness greeted her as she reached the prow and braced her forearms against the railing. The shredded sigh of waves splitting against the Visundr’s nose echoed from the inky black.

Isaura stared into the absent horizon. Tonight, it gave no comfort, the initial pleasure of the open air blowing away like the gusts skimming past her cheeks. Six months ago, she would not have believed she’d be traveling home to Eisland, or that she’d even think of the rural isle of her childhood as home again. Dinark, the kingdom’s Great Isle and glittering capital, had become home to her. Love and her studies had made it so, even in five short years. Hekla, her mentor and friend, had filled her days with purpose and learning, while Jan’s loving arms met her in their little home each evening.

Isaura’s thumb rubbed at the indent on her finger where her wedding band had rested. She wondered if Jan had retrieved the ring from the floorboards after she’d chucked it at him, if he’d dredged up more emotion than that infuriating calm he had used to tell her it was over.

“Isaura, aren’t you tired of pretending?”

It didn’t matter, she informed the wounded, bitter pit lodged in her guts. That life was gone. That love, too, was over, no matter how much passion Jan had professed at the beginning. A lesson in managing expectations, really. Why had she thought he would still love her after learning she was broken?

With difficulty, she pushed the thought of him aside. Better to think ahead to the reunion waiting for her on Eisland, and her father’s enthusiastic letter of reply when she’d written to say she was coming. For a visit. Shame had kept her from telling him of her failed marriage or asking to move back to the family farm as she had no home to return to in Dinark. He would take her in, blessed as she was with the best of fathers, but her need for it, at her age, was humiliating.

Maybe it was better not to think of this either.

Instead, her hand went to the silver broach on the collar of her dress, a farewell gift from Hekla. Isaura had gone slightly faint at the sight of her mentor pinning the Helm of Awe there. The eight spiked tridents tipped with onyx gems radiated out from a central point, a symbol of both protection and strength.

“But I’ve only just completed my studies,” she’d argued. “I haven’t earned the healer’s sigil yet.”

Hekla had brushed aside her hands, ivory braids swaying as she shook her head. “Then do so,” she told her and pulled her into a tight embrace. “One day, and not far off, your skill will surpass mine. May it remind you of your worth and that not all love is fickle.”

Love and friendship. Shame and heartache. Endings and beginnings. Such was the storm of Isaura’s thoughts that she didn’t notice the pungent scent of rain until she turned to go back to her cabin and glanced upward. The stars had disappeared.

A jagged bolt of lightning ripped across the sky and illuminated a monstrous spiral of clouds. She gasped. The clouds hung so low they almost snagged on the mast. Kristofer’s warning cry went up from the crow’s nest.

“Typhoon!”

The word sent a jolt of confounded terror through her. A typhoon? That wasn’t possible. Typhoons occurred in warmer climates, far south of the kingdom’s chilly northern isles. Another crackling blaze of lightning fractured the sky and sent an avalanche of rain plummeting down, soaking her through in an instant.

The crew swarmed onto the deck, appearing as if out of the rain itself, rushing to take down the sails and secure anything loose. She spotted Captain Wendelsson with them. His bellowed orders threaded the rising wail of the storm, though Isaura couldn’t make them out. Thunder roared. Waves slammed against the hull and she gripped the railing with both hands to keep from being thrown from her feet. She caught a glimpse of three men grappling with the spinning wheel at the helm before someone seized her arm.

Her startled shout was lost to the wind. Gunnar stood beside her, his red hair gone black where it plastered to his brow. He shouted something she didn’t hear. She followed when he tugged her away from the railing. His sea legs far sturdier than hers on the lurching deck, he guided them between the chaos of men toward the quarterdeck and the ladder that led to the crew cabins. There, he paused.

“Get below,” he had to shout in her ear for her to catch any of his words. “Lock yourself in quarters and find something to hold on to.”

She nodded with a glance toward the crew. Her eye landed on Captain Wendelsson. The expression on his face was frighteningly neutral, like a man concealing all emotion lest he give away the truth of his thoughts. She’d seen Hekla wear the same one around dying patients.

Fear squeezed her heart. She needed to let Gunnar get back to the wheel, but couldn’t stop herself from asking, “Is the ship going to make it?”

Gunnar was less skilled at hiding his thoughts, his eyes wide with alarm. “Storm feels wrong. Unnatural to come up like this.” He shook his head. “If we have to abandon ship, the life rafts are on the starboard—”

The hairs on the nape of her neck rose and Gunnar whirled around. A spear of lightning dropped from the swollen sky. It impaled the main mast, a needle of white flame. The wood cracked like a cannon shot, splintering as it snapped in half. The thrashing outline of Kristofer where he tumbled from the crow’s nest followed the sails as they fell into the sea.

The ship pitched down sharply, hurling Isaura and Gunnar away from the ladder. She lost sight of him. A wall of seawater muscled over the railing. It swept her off her feet, thrusting her up a deck turned vertical. Then the ship righted, the water rushing back and taking her with it. She skidded across the deck, arms flailing for purchase in the utter darkness. Before she could find it, she bashed into something. Hard. The impact jarred her back and almost knocked her senseless. Distantly, she was aware of rolling, of crashing through the railing and falling.

It felt like forever, a suspended moment without beginning or end—until she plunged into the frigid shock of the sea. Icy cold raked her body and brought her back to herself. Waves swarmed her, shoved her down, sideways, up. Seawater filled her mouth. Panic filled her belly. Her skirts tentacled her legs in heavy fabric while the Failock tossed her around like a toy. She fought with all the desperate fervor of trapped prey, thrashing, gasping for tiny sips of air before the waves pushed her head under. When her arm bumped against an object, one her body recognized as something other than the liquid iron of the sea, she grasped it. Her fingers closed around the slanted rim. A skiff? One of the life rafts? The rescue it offered sent relief and terror and dread through her all at once. It could save her. It could be torn away.

Isaura didn’t know how she held on to it with her numb fingers. Didn’t know how she managed to clamber into its narrow shell without capsizing it, but she did. She lay on her back, gripping either side while the rain battered her face and the waves punished her injured back. She held on all night. She held on until the scream of the wind quieted, until the shear and crest of the waves gentled, and the sky bled with the colors of dawn. She survived. She wept for it and for the souls who had drowned with the noble Visundr. Gunnar, Kristofer, and all the others.

It wasn’t until the end of the following day that she realized it would have been better if she’d drowned along with them.

***

Available on Amazon & Kindle Unlimited

Add it to Goodreads