Rachel Thompson

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Beyond Neanderthal by Brian Bloom @BrianB_Aust #Thriller #BookClub #Fiction

Visit to a Blue Amber Mine

As Tara alighted from the vehicle, she found herself facing a ghostly white haze of wispy, low-lying clouds that hung as if suspended in time above the undulating hilltops. The peaks rose from the variegated emerald and olive valley below and stretched into the distance amid a virginal mixture of lush equatorial undergrowth. She drew a deep, involuntary breath.

‘Wow!’ There were no other words to describe the feeling of awe-inspired privilege that washed over her. The vista was about as far removed from Central Park as a New York city skyscraper was from the little pastel coloured huts lining the Carretera Turística.

Aurelio smiled. Intuitively, he seemed to understand that the most appropriate response to this magnificent sight was silence. It was a full two minutes before Tara gathered her thoughts.

‘Let’s get going,’ she said.

They made their way carefully—gingerly climbing over dead logs, negotiating their way around rocky outcrops, and grabbing onto available plant life to steady themselves as they walked and stumbled their way towards the valley below. On either side of the track, a mixture of tall, fronded plants grew in an array of shapes and sizes beside stunted and gnarled old trees with deep green foliage. Tara thought of the trees like friendly bystanders, their leafy branches protectively shading Aurelio and her from much of the glaring sunshine above. They came across a trickling stream, which they followed for a while; Tara ever mindful and vigilant, watching for any sign of wildlife in the undergrowth. Except for the background humming of insects, the occasional noisy squawking of a flock of parrots flying past overhead and, once, the silent imprint of a shoe sole on the muddy banks of the stream, they seemed to be alone.

Then, in a clearing, they came across a group of young men standing seemingly relaxed and chatting. A few feet away, under a lean-to made of branches and palm fronds, one of them squatted while cooking something on a small paraffin or gas stove. Aurelio and Tara had arrived at the mine.

Again, there was a short conversation in Spanish. Again, there was a wrinkling of noses followed by broad smiles of understanding and agreement. There were also some side comments and laughter amongst the men. The word ‘gringa’—foreigner from America—came up a couple of times. Tara thought she also heard the words ‘bonita’, and ‘sexual’, but she couldn’t be sure. She decided to keep a slight distance for the time being. They were in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest civilization.

Aurelio walked back towards her. ‘They will be happy to show you around, but we should remember our time limitations. We cannot spend more that half an hour here if we are to return to Santo Domingo before dark.’

‘Are you trying to protect me from these guys?’ she asked with a smile. Aurelio looked embarrassed.

‘What’s he cooking?’ she asked to change the subject. ‘It smells great.’

‘That is called arroz con abichuelas, a mixture of rice and beans. He is probably cooking some small pieces of beef with it, but it could be any meat.’

‘Can one buy that in a restaurant in Santo Domingo?’

‘Of course, but not exactly the same. This is a local dish for locals. To sell food like this to tourists would be like offering leftovers to your guests. It would not be right. In the restaurants it is much more carefully presented and is usually served with salads.’

The word ‘dignity’ popped into Tara’s mind. Aurelio seemed to have it, and that was what she had seen on the faces of the fruit vendor and the amber polisher and, now, even the miners as she approached them. Other than their initial jocularity, they seemed to consider her as their guest and themselves as hosts who happily welcomed visitors into their world. The men were just being men.
As they approached the entrance to the mine, a happy looking miner wearing a backward facing baseball cap sat with a short-handled pick in one hand, a lump of soft rock in the other.

Hola, señorita,’ he said, grinning broadly.

She smiled back at him, lifted her hand in greeting, but continued to follow Aurelio to the mine entrance. It was like standing at the entrance to the burrow of a large animal.

Beyond Neanderthal

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Genre – Thriller
Rating – MA (15+)
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Cast in Blood (Morgan Blackstone) by Michelle Rabe @michrabe #Fantasy #Paranormal


The Assassin’s voice boomed through the closed double doors to the study for the fifth time since he’d entered the room with Morgan’s Blood Sons, almost five hours before.  Marcus cringed as the doors were flung open, and Nicholas strode out, rage radiating from every inch of his six–foot, four–inch frame. Storm–gray eyes landed on Marcus, narrowed to slits, and he stalked past, commanding him to follow with an imperious wave of his right hand. Not wanting to piss the Assassin off more, Marcus bit back a snide comment, and followed him up the sweeping staircase to the mansion’s upper floors.

“Damn it all to hell, Old Man!” Nicholas roared as he began pacing the landing at the top of the stairs. He wanted Marcus to throw himself against his temper to take the edge off.

Ye Gods, Marcus thought, we’ve done this more times than I’d care to count in the centuries we’ve known one another, but this is different. Well, something other than the fact that we’ve barely spoken a civil word to one another in almost two hundred years.

“I take it the boys couldn’t add anything to what we already knew. In spite of the almost five hour interrogation?” Marcus asked, fighting to rein in his own temper, leaning against the banister at the top of the stairs.

“Five hours?” Nicholas stopped moving. He turned to Marcus, meeting his eyes. The other vampire nodded.  “It was really that long?”

“Yes. What’s next, Assassin?” Marcus asked, letting some of the frustration he felt give his voice a hard edge. The last thing they needed right now was for Nicholas to go soft.

“We can’t do anything before the sun sets,” he said, after giving Marcus a long, appraising look.

He’s assessed my well–being and decided I’m not fit for the field. I’ve seen that look too many times before and know better than to argue with him, Marcus thought, trying to work out a logical counter argument.

“I haven’t slept.” Nicholas sighed. “You look like death warmed over and those two are rattled.” He nodded toward the room where he’d left the younger vampires.

“Fine.” Marcus nodded. “I took the liberty of having my staff get us some SUVs. If Morgan’s alive, she’s going to need fresh blood. We’re going to need the extra room.” Marcus was almost certain that he didn’t have to mention that, but the desperate look in Nicholas’s eyes led him to believe that there was no such thing as being too careful in this situation.

“She has to be alive, Marcus.”

“We’ll find her.” Marcus answered, feeling like an ass for lying. We both know that the odds suck. This could be nothing more than trying to find her body. Gods, whoever did this is going to pay.

“I have a very bad feeling about this,” the Assassin muttered, looking through Marcus. Nicholas’s mind was turning over what he knew, making connections and searching for others.

“How so?” Marcus asked, prompting Nicholas to think aloud, knowing it helped him make connections he otherwise missed, and it gave Marcus the opportunity to make a few as well.

“The security footage Danny sent over from the club’s parking lot shows Morgan and her attackers, but never their faces.”

“The club has cameras outside?”

“Apparently one of the human staff had some trouble right after the club opened. Morgan had them installed after that.”

“They could have scoped out the cameras. Not too difficult when you know what to look for,” Marcus muttered, his brows drawn together. “Why didn’t anyone see her being attacked, if it was caught on camera? Why are we just learning about this now? Just because she somehow jacked my mind and knocked me flat on my ever–loving ass.” Marcus’s words sped up as he continued, agitation given voice.

“The footage is stored on massive hard drives but not reviewed unless an incident is reported. Since no one reported her disappearance…” Nicholas’s voice trailed off.

“I have a feeling Morgan will be revising that policy when she returns.”

“If she returns.”
Michelle Rabe

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Genre - Paranormal Urban Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fool for Love by Merry Farmer @MerryFarmer20 #Historical #Romance #Fiction

The Majestic rose up out of the water in its Liverpool dock with all the glory of its name.  Amelia held one hand to her hat and stared at its iron sides, its two dun-colored funnels and three tall masts.  The ship was a strange thing to her, a mixture of old and new, progress with hints of the past.  It had sails that could be unfurled in a pinch, but with its powerful new engines, the ship could cross the ocean in a week.

Seven days to a new world.  It was an exact description of everything her life had become.  It was every bit as daunting.

“What am I doing?” Amelia whispered, staring at the hopeful monstrosity in front of her.  It was one thing to accept an offer for a new life.  It was another thing entirely to go through with it.

She turned away from the ship, swallowing the nausea that had plagued her since she’d left her mother’s house.  This time it wasn’t morning sickness.  That was long past.  At the moment, the baby was the least of her worries.  Her stomach rolled over the idea that she was about to board a ship heading for a new life at the mercy of a stranger, a man, no less.  The last time she had trusted her life and her future to a man had been a disaster.

She paced, purse clutched to her chest, scanning the busy dock in search of her American savior.  Men, women, and children crowded the gangplanks, eager to start their journeys, excited and hopeful.  Many of the third-class passengers carried bundles that indicated theirs was a one-way trip as much as hers was.  Eric had left her there to go buy her ticket, but there was nothing stopping him from running off and leaving her stranded.  Like her father.  Like Nick.  She was a fool to agree to this.  She pivoted and marched away from the ship.

No, she stopped herself after a handful of steps, this was the best decision she could have made.  She may have felt small and lonely standing by herself, waiting, heart and stomach fluttering, but she was as much a part of the intrepid adventurers seeking a new life in America as any of her fellow passengers.  This was right.


“Well, we got a minor problem on our hands.”

The twang of Eric’s accent shocked Amelia from her worries.  She spun to face him as he approached her with wide strides, scratching his head and looking as guilty as a schoolboy.

“A problem?” she asked, voice fluttering.

“Yeah.  I went to buy you a ticket, but they’re plumb sold out.”

Amelia’s chest tightened and her tender stomach lurched.  “Oh.  Oh dear.  Well I suppose….”

She lowered her eyes, heart aquiver.  As quickly as it started, her chance for a new life was over.  All that worrying for nothing.

She squared her shoulders to face her fate.  “I … I thank you for your efforts on my behalf regardless, Mr. Quinlan.”

Eric’s brow crinkled into a curious frown.  “Regardless?”

“I suppose I could find work here in Liverpool,” she explained.  “Surely there must be a shop somewhere that would look the other way from….”  She lowered her hand to the mound of her stomach.

Eric’s lips twitched.  The morning sunlight caught in his eyes.  “I didn’t want to have to put you in third-class, so I told them you were my wife.”

Amelia blinked.  “You what?”

“I told them we’re newlyweds.  I reserved my stateroom in first class last year when I came over.  Good thing I paid for it then too, ‘cuz after this fiasco of a trip I’ll never ride first-class again.  Anyhow, when they said they didn’t have any more rooms, I told them you were my wife and that we would be staying in the same stateroom.  They sold me a ticket for that.”  He handed her a fresh, clean ticket with her name written as ‘Mrs. Amelia Quinlan’.  “Sorry.”

Amelia held perfectly still on the outside, but on the inside her heart pounded and her stomach rolled with guilt for questioning him.  He wasn’t abandoning her.  He had gone out of his way to help her.  Her heart squeezed as it never had before.  She took the ticket from him with a trembling hand, hardly noticing when her fingers brushed his.  She was rescued after all.

“Thank you, Mr. Quinlan.  You have no idea how much this kindness means to me.”  She had to concentrate on breathing, standing straight, and looking up into his handsome eyes with a smile to keep her tears at bay.

“You don’t mind sharing then?” he asked her.


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Genre – Western Historical Romance
Rating – R
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Sunspots #Excerpt by Karen S. Bell @KarenSueBell #AmReading #Romance

As I lie in bed with these thoughts, I finally notice that Marina has quietly come back into my room and is sitting in the armchair watching me. She offers me some more medicine and I shake my head, “no.” I don’t want to sleep, and I don’t want to be awake. There is no comfort in anything. She says, “Come. We’ll have a nice cup of tea.” And I follow her downstairs and into the kitchen, zombie-like. I watch her with dull eyes that do not see her movements as she opens cupboards and finds a teapot, cups, and tea bags. I listen with deaf ears to her hum a Russian tune. I sit patiently with no patience sipping the tea I cannot taste. In silence, we sit. In silence, we speak without speaking. Marina’s life force wills me to feel her love. 
And then she tells me her plan. “Maybe, I’ll stay with you awhile. Nothing back in Brooklyn right now.” I answer, mouthing words that I want to feel and yet cannot feel because I have closed myself off to the emotions of life, “Oh yes, please stay, Marina. I couldn’t bear all this alone.” I’m overwhelmed by her generosity, my loss, and the hidden truths lurking under the surface waiting to be revealed. Then the cordoned off person inside me breaks through all my controls again and unwonted tears erupt in a torrent of suppressed anguish. I am enveloped in her arms and her soothing voice whispers calming words as I try to regain the safety of stoicism.
Marina and I, sisters of a sort, sit together in my huge kitchen, in my huge house, sharing the huge hole in my heart as my tears pour down my face, flowing as if someone has turned on a spigot. Two small souls in a too-big kitchen of a too-big house silently wondering about the business problems of which his lawyer spoke using carefully chosen words somberly executed while his eyes burned with deep meaning. Problems that would have to be sorted out after I finished sitting “Shivah.” How can one cope with all of this? When will I wake up from this nightmare?
Eventually, it is dawn and I must sit on the wooden bench that signifies my mourning as memories cloud the present and I relive a life that is no more.

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Genre – Contemporary romance, Magical Realism
Rating – PG-13
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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Order of the Seers by Cerece Rennie Murphy @CereceRMurphy

Chapter 1: The End
Sunday, June 22, 2008

Liam was losing his patience. “Aw, come on! Are you serious? You can’t want to ride this thing again!”

Instead of answering her older brother, Lilli remained in her seat as the Ferris wheel conductor looked on expectantly, hand outstretched and waiting for another two tokens.

The way Lilli’s skinny arms hugged her book bag while she stared blankly at the pressed metal floor of their “Fairy Land Caboose” made it hard for Liam to stay angry. The sight of her looking so dejected softened him enough to give the conductor his fifth set of tokens in less than 45 minutes. Liam settled back into his seat just as the lap bar clamped down uncomfortably against his thighs.

“Lilli, say something. Why’d you drag me out here if you were just gonna sulk? I hate the carnival, you know that.”

“I know something… okay? Just… trust me. We have to stay here.” Her voice was so low he could barely hear her over the wind-up music that was blaring from the overhead speakers.

“Did Mom say something to you?”

Lilli responded to his question with silence and a barely discernable shake of her head back and forth. He tried again.

“Lilli! Did Mom…?”

“Yes,” she snapped.

They both fell silent again as Liam took in the latest weird thing of the day. Lilith Knight, or Lilli as she preferred to be called, had always been strange. Even when she was five, she could beat Liam at chess lazily, without even thinking about it. She would find things and give them to you before you asked for them. Before you, or even she, knew why. Up until recently, he thought she was just a freak. No biggie. All little sisters are like that, he told himself.

It was only in the past few months that his perception of her began to shift, after her prediction that he would catch his new girlfriend, Krista, kissing his teammate Lance in the locker room after their championship game. At the time, he’d brushed off her premonition as meddling. Krista wasn’t even his girlfriend and his team was 1-1 with the whole basketball season ahead of them.

He’d forgotten her warning completely until two months later when he ran back into the locker room after winning the championship to get the jacket he’d left behind and immediately smelled Krista’s perfume. When he found them, two thoughts overshadowed the scene unfolding in front of him. The first was that what they were doing wasn’t really “kissing,” though he could see how a sheltered thirteen-year-old would describe it that way. His second thought was that Lilli was right; she was exactly right. He was so stunned by Lilli’s accuracy that he didn’t even bother to disturb them, leaving his new ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend to their business. From that moment, Liam understood that Lilli wasn’t just a freak, or more accurately, that she wasn’t a freak at all. She was special…gifted.

The sound of Lilli’s sniffling followed by the trembling of her body as she began to cry uncontrollably broke the long silence that had fallen between them. What the…, Liam half-mumbled as his mind swung from irritation to absolute bewilderment. Slowly and deliberately, Liam moved his palms down the front of his face as he fought the urge to shake the truth right out of her and end whatever this was. But he couldn’t. She’s so brittle already, he thought, without any idea as to why. So instead, he reached out to envelop his sister in his arms, trying to soothe her and comfort her from some unknown force.

“Lilli, it’s all right. I’m sorry, okay? Don’t cry. Just… tell me what’s going on. Why are we here?”
He tried to wait patiently, to rein in the confusion and frustration that had been piercing through the calm day he had planned for himself when he woke up that morning, as cool and carefree as any sixteen-year-old boy. It was Lilli who had dragged him out of the house before he could even wolf down his second bowl of Honeycombs. “Mom said you have to take me to the carnival. NOW!” She had demanded.

He had started to head upstairs to launch his appeal when his eye caught his mother’s note on the refrigerator door. “Take Lilli to the fair. NOW.—Love, Mom,” it read. He knew that meant his mother had left the house early; there was no appeal to be made. Begrudgingly, he slipped on his sneakers and grabbed the car keys, all the while wondering if Lilli was still too young to be left at the fair by herself.

His earlier thoughts of abandonment brought him back to his sister’s form beside him. Not knowing what else to do, Liam simply held her tight as her convulsing turned to trembling, and finally, back to stillness. At the top of the Ferris wheel, she finally spoke.

“It’s over now, we can go home,” she whispered. But as impatient for answers and a reprieve from big brother duties as he was, Liam knew that it was not over. The emotionless tone in her voice scared him. It made him want to stay on the Ferris wheel he’d been begging to get off of a few short minutes ago. As the music died down and their feet got closer to the ground, he suddenly felt conflicting urges to stay where he was and to rush home to his mother. As the ride came to a stop, he suddenly realized with profound certainty that this was much more than one of Lilli’s “episodes.” Something was very, very wrong.

When Liam pulled his father’s green 2002 Saab in front of their small brick house, everything seemed as it always did—quiet and predictable in their modest yet comfortable home. They had lived in a much bigger house before his father died, but Liam never minded sharing a bathroom with his mother and sister. All the toys and trinkets that had mattered to him when he was a child were rendered insignificant the moment his mother told him that his father would never come home again. As he got out of the car and began to take the front steps two at a time, he noticed that Lilli had stopped at the tree stump his mother had cut down the week before. Sitting down, her eyes remained on the ground. Just as his mouth formed the shape of a question, she spoke.

“No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

Liam didn’t stop to ask what she meant. Whatever she meant, he was sure it was worse than he thought. He tried to hold back the swell of fear in his chest as he ran to the front door, but his emotions spun out of control the moment he tested the front door knob and found it opened—easily. They never left the front door unlocked.

When he stepped into the house, he actually felt the life, the person he had been, rush past him and out the door as his eyes took in the overturned, splintered remains of their living room. It was a feeling he’d felt only once before, when his father died. But what made it worse, what made it permanent, was lying in the middle of the floor, with its contents thrown everywhere. It was his mother’s purse, which had not been there when he left that morning.

“Mom!” he shouted as he raced up the stairs to her room. “Mom. Please!” he shouted again, but no one answered. In every room he looked, it was the same - scattered clothes, broken mirrors, and silence—a deafening silence that rang louder than the sound of his own shallow breathing.

If he took the stairs at lightning speed to make it to the second floor, an age could have passed during his descent. The entire house consisted of three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and a small open dining area that you could see clearly from the front door. As he walked down the steps, he knew there was only one room left to check. His mind was frozen on what to hope for as his hand reached the end of the banister. If she wasn’t in the kitchen, she might have been taken, but at least there was a chance she was still alive. If she was in the kitchen, it was unthinkable.

Lilli’s words came to him just as he rounded the doorway to the kitchen.

No, you go. I can’t see it again.”

He found his mother sitting with her feet planted on the floor, shoulder width apart, bright eyes open and cast to the ceiling, with a hole blown through the middle of her chest.

Liam braced himself against the door frame as he began to sob, the sounds seemingly emanating from a place far away from where he stood. He could not look away from the horrific image before him, the last image of his mother. He stood there with wide-eyed and tear-stained pain as the last measure of his youth drained from him like blood rushing from an open vein. When it was done, his body slid to the ground.

We are alone, he thought. There’s no one left.

Ever since his father had died, Liam lived in fear that one day he would lose her. Unable to tear his eyes away from her body, he could hear her vehemently denying that there would ever be a time when she wasn’t with them. “Never,” she would say.

Never, he thought, has finally come.

Though Liam had been staring at her body since he entered the kitchen, he had not seen the gun in her hand until he noticed a fly land on it. Years of training to keep the gun out of Lilli’s sight made him jump to his feet until he remembered that Lilli was still outside. He knew the gun well; it was his mother’s. She had taught him how to use it and to keep it out of Lilli’s reach when she was small.

At first his mind could not decipher the meaning of the scene before him. Was he meant to believe that she did this to herself? Why would the people who broke into their house ransack the place and then try to make it look like a suicide? But he couldn’t think straight, couldn’t figure out the logic or the answer to any of the crazy questions running through his mind. Why would she kill herself? He was sure the answers were obvious; he just wasn’t making sense. None of this was making any sense.

His confusion caused him to draw closer to her body. Kneeling down beside his mother, Liam took the lifeless hand that dangled at her side, the one that was not holding the gun. Though his eyes were still filled with tears, they were no longer breaking through the barriers of his lower lids. This momentary fortitude allowed him to have the courage to look directly into her face and see her open smile. The sight of it knocked him down and back into the base cabinets. She was smiling. She was smiling, he thought. She had known what was coming, and she was smiling.

Suddenly, he remembered his mother’s constant warning every time they went to the shooting range. “Don’t pick up a gun unless you mean to use it. There can be no hesitation. Do you understand me?” she would ask him sternly. Liam knew Jill Knight was skilled at using a firearm. If she had a chance to draw her gun, no one could take it from her. The implications made him immediately sick and angry before their full meaning could even register.

As if retching the contents of his stomach into the kitchen sink made room for clarity, he suddenly understood the reason behind her smile. She had killed herself. She had done this to herself, on purpose. He threw up again in a wave of protest at the notion that she would abandon them, even as the resentment of her betrayal took root. When he was done, he didn’t want to turn around, didn’t want to face her.

How could she do this? She wouldn’t do this. She promised.

Holding himself up at the sink, his thoughts turned to Lilli. Is this what she saw?, he wondered, fighting a new wave of nausea. No wonder she cried like that. No wonder… Rather than try to sort out the conflict of thoughts and emotions inside him, he decided to check on Lilli and make sure that she remained outside while he tried to figure out what to do next.

As he peered over his shoulder toward the doorway, his eyes caught the folded cuff of his mother’s sweatshirt, which was turquoise save for the blood, and a little corner of white paper that was peeking out. He knew his mother hid things in the cuff of her sleeve all the time; it was one of the many old lady habits Liam enjoyed teasing her about. He stared at the white edge of paper for a long time, warring with his own feelings of anger and grief before simple curiosity forced him to bend down and retrieve it. As his fingers curved around the edge of her sleeve, he could feel something flat and hard inside. When he rolled down her sleeve to get it, the key to his gym locker at school slipped out before he could fully unroll the note. When he did, it unleashed a new avalanche of questions upon heartbreak over questions.

In his mother’s tiny cursive handwriting, the note read, ‘Go now. Protect her.’ Liam felt a new level of understanding peel back in his mind as he read her note again. He began to see the very real possibility that perhaps his mother had not wanted to do this to herself. Perhaps she was forced by the same people who came into their home. The same people who she wanted him to protect Lilli from now. Liam grabbed the key off the floor before rising to meet his mother’s eyes one last time. They looked so different from how they had even two minutes ago and held so much he couldn’t understand, couldn’t handle right now. He closed his eyes and softly kissed her on her forehead before running out of his home for what he knew would be the last time.

Liam closed the front door behind him and turned to find Lilli sitting exactly where he left her twenty minutes before. He had only two objectives at that point - making sure that she was safe, and getting the hell out of there. As Liam scanned the neighborhood for anything suspicious, he took in the studied quiet of his block. There was no one on the street at 11:23 am on a beautiful Sunday morning. Where is everyone, he wondered, suddenly wary of the neighbors with whom he had grown up. How had no one heard the gunshot? Why didn’t anyone call the police?

The tremor in his neighbors’ curtains gave credence to the sensation that they were being watched, but no one would step outside to help them. This realization came over him with a bitterness that cast itself over all the sorrow he held inside. They had all been witnesses, he guessed, but they would no longer be friends.

Watching Liam as he crossed the small front lawn to reach her, Lilli was struck by how much older her brother looked compared to just a few hours ago. Though his straight black hair hung as sloppy and heavy as it always did over his blue-green eyes, there was none of the playful nonchalance that usually characterized her brother’s disposition. His hair was slick, spiked, and jet black with sweat, and it framed the angles of his face in a way that made her easy-going brother look cold and menacing. But it wasn’t a surprise, Lilli could see everything Liam felt on his face—anger, sorrow, betrayal, and a ferocity emerging that she did not understand. Seeing her brother so unlike himself made Lilli’s face crumple in agony as she trembled under the weight of her own choices.

“I’m sorry, Liam,” she begged in between sobs. “I know you’re mad at me for not telling you. Mom told me that if I did, they would kill you. She said I had to be strong enough… strong enough to save you.”

“Shhh, Lilli. It’s all right. We’ll talk about this later. Don’t cry. Shhh.”

Lilli knew Liam meant his response to be soothing, but his words came out cold, devoid of any life or feeling behind them. When she looked up to search his face and understand the hollowness in his voice, she found him scanning the street with the same look of fierceness. Something in the clenched set of his jaw made her finally understand. He was determined, to keep her alive, to protect the only family he had left.

“We need to go,” he said, as he led her to the car.


“I don’t know, Lilli. I don’t know.”

Order of the Seers
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Genre – Science Fiction
Rating – NC-17
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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

@TheSMBoyce on the Grimoire Saga, Writing & Hobbies #Fantasy #MustRead #AmWriting

Do you plan to publish more books?
Yes! I have so many more stories to tell. I’m finishing up the Grimoire Saga and then I have a spin-off series that will tell the stories of some of the Grimoire Saga characters. After that, I’ve got other fun stuff planned for readers—including urban fantasy fairytales and even paranormal horror.
What else do you do to make money, other than write?
I own an online Marketing Maven and Virtual Assistant company called Montee Marketing. It’s loads of fun, and I help both entrepreneurs and authors establish powerful online presences and websites. I love it!
What other jobs have you had in your life?
Quite a few, actually. Diamond sales, software testing, management, retail (I sold candles!). But writing, marketing, and coaching are my favorite jobs. I love what I do.
When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?
I like to watch ghost shows. My current favorite is Paranormal Witness. Whenever I watch TV or a movie at home, I also like to wire wrap pendants. Some are even for sale in my store.
How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
I think they are because I can connect with fans. They allow us authors to truly meet and greet our fanbase on an international level—it’s astounding and I love it. Twitter is my favorite, but I think that both of them are excellent tools for any author to use. As long as they are used wisely, they can be a great asset.
What movie do you like to watch?
I love kid movies. Wreck it Ralph and Coraline are my top two favorites.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
Self-publishing has been the best option for me. I am a huge believer in the abilities of authors to control the quality of their work, and I always offer advice to those who want to take the self-publishing route. You can subscribe to my Writer’s Corner if you want some tips to getting started.
Can you tell us about your main character?
Kara Magari from my Grimoire Saga is imperfect, and she rocks it like a badge of honor. She’s endured enough grief in her life to know how to overcome it, and while she still has some pretty major flaws, she’s learning. In the course of a week, Kara goes from normal college sophomore from Tallahassee to coveted magical artifact in a hidden world called Ourea. Time and time again, Kara is betrayed by the various people she needs to survive her new home. In this new world, everyone has a skill that sets them apart in some way. Here, she draws attention for what she has become: a fighter.
Have you started another book yet?
I am currently working on the fourth and final installment of the Grimoire Saga. Illusion is set to be released this fall, but I’m hoping to get it out sooner if time is on my side.
Who is your favorite author?
My top three are Neil Gaiman, J. K. Rowling, and J. R. R. Tolkien.

“The writing is flawless. The kingdoms and surrounding landscapes breathtaking. The Grimoire is a piece of imaginative genius that bedazzles from the moment Kara falls into the land of Ourea. – Nikki Jefford, author of the Spellbound Trilogy
Spring 2013 Rankings
#6 Kindle Store | #1 Science Fiction & Fantasy | #1 Epic Fantasy | #1 Sword & Sorcery | #1 Teens
Now an international Amazon bestseller. Fans of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Eragon will enjoy this contemporary remix of the classic epic fantasy genre.
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.
Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict – a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.
Novels in the Grimoire Saga:
Lichgates (#1)
Treason (#2)
Heritage (#3) – Available Fall 2013
Illusion (#4) – Available Fall 2014
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
 Connect with SM Boyce on Facebook & Twitter & Pinterest

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Olga Soaje on Having Tea With Albert Einstein #AmReading #Women #Fiction

Where do you get inspiration from?
From seeing life situations and thinking “What if?” there are so many stories to waiting to be told.

Is your family supportive? Do your friends support you?
I have been blessed with family and friends that have supported this passion since I’ve told them, with many expressions from reading the book in process, discussing stories, proofreading, to helping me thinks of ways to market.

Do you plan to publish more books?
Yes, I have more ideas that still need to come to life.

How do you write – laptop, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
I write mostly in my laptop either on a small desk I have at home or at a coffee shop in between 

Can you give us a short synopsis of Twelve Houses?
Dying often has its own decorum. The family gathers, the doctors explain, and kind nurses murmur advice and consolation in sterilized corridors. Nathan’s death was not like that. He went abruptly, without a hint of warning. Amelia woke up to find her husband dead of a heart attack, beside her in their marriage bed. Only then does the family gather, the circle of friends console, and the rabbi arrive. As the rabbi tears Amelia’s garments in the ancient ritual of mourning, her world is turned upside down. She feels like a shadow in her own life, almost like she is watching someone else act her part. She has become a stranger to herself in her shock and disorientation.

Her son offers consolation. As a doctor, he also offers her medication to take the edge off her sharp suffering, which she will not allow herself to accept. Instead, she lets him give her something of more lasting value: his spiritual support and his certain, understanding love. Yet she knows she cannot intrude on his life, cannot lean on him. He is soon to be married, to start a new life, and his own family.

Amelia’s daughter, her first-born child, is more of a problem. Amelia knows they were never as close as they should have been. As a mother, she feels she was too interested in her own life and her own career to give her daughter the warmth and nurturing she deserved.

As Amelia wanders through her artist’s studio, she comes upon her old wishing jar, the handmade prayer jar in which each family member placed their secret longings. Opening it, written on an old scrap of paper, Amelia finds her daughter’s dearest wish: “Help mom understand me.”

Work has become impossible, though her agent nags. For decades, sculpting has been her livelihood and much more. The feel of the soft clay in her hands has satisfied her in a way nothing else could and allowed her to express herself when she had no other way. Her talent has brought her money and fame, but now it is useless to her.

The work that had been a source of goodness and wholeness now seems to be betraying her. In her studio, she now finds hopeless grief instead of peace. She cries and does nothing, speaking silently with her absent husband and endlessly reworking the past.

It is her daughter who rescues her. Chloe needs help with her pregnancy and her marriage. It is the kind of help her mother is glad to give. Yet the two women still struggle to build a relationship, neither quite able to accept the other’s choices. Nevertheless, their attempts at understanding help to draw Amelia out of her consuming grief.

Amelia does find new work. With it she finds a new way to look at the world, one that that does not ignore her ideals. In the city in which she first fell in love with the man who would become her husband, she begins to learn to live again. 

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
Knowing that I touched the life of reader’s every day, that would make me feel that I’ve succeeded in this path.

Are you inspired most by places, people or experiences and how do these work their way into your writing?
 People definitely, they are the ones that make the experiences and give meaning to things. I find it fascinating to imagine people in the same setting reacting so differently to circumstances because of who they are. I like to create characters that are flawed but relatable. 

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?
I would love to have tea with Einstein; he was a brilliant mind who understood science and soul.
If he was busy I would like to have a glass of wine with Coco Chanel, I admire the way she established her style and made her empire on hard work and passion.

What’s your favorite meal?
That’s a hard question since one of the things I enjoy is eating. But I would dare say I love Mediterranean, Spanish and Italian dishes.

How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?
I think they are mostly a good thing, I have rekindled relationships lost over the years with Facebook and find a way in a hectic life to see what some friends are up to and on my personal Facebook page, I get the opportunity to meet readers and have a link with them.

How do you feel about self-publishing?
In one word: “Grateful” when I first began writing I sent queries to so many agents that at one point I lost count and just began to dread the income of formatted rejection letters. Until a friend of mine pushed me to self-published since then I’ve had sales that pay for extras at home and meet wonderful people along the way. When my second novel came around I knew without a doubt that I would self-publish.


Can anything good follow the best thing that ever happened to you?

Amelia Weiss loved her husband of thirty-five years very much, but now he’s left her a widow. Without him, she is unable to work in her sculpture studio without crying. She no longer has a bridge to her estranged daughter. And she can’t seem to keep her mind in the present.

But when her daughter reaches out asking for her help and her agent threatens a lawsuit if Amelia doesn’t deliver for an upcoming exhibit, she’s forced to make a choice. Will she reengage with her life and the people in it—allowing room for things to be different than they were before? Or, will she remain stuck in the past, choosing her memories over real-life relationships?

Thrust fully into the present, Amelia stumbles into a surprising journey of self-discovery.

Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women's Fiction
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Olga Soaje on Facebook

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Wings of Dragons (The Dragoon Saga) by @JoshVanBrakle #Fantasy #YA #GoodReads

Grasping the rock Balear had thrown at him, Iren whipped around and launched it, not bothering to aim or even care what he hit.

In truth, he could damage little. His chamber had little adornment: a hard bed with three discarded blankets and a dresser with the few outfits he’d fished from the trash. The only object of merit was a large painting hung on the wall beside the dresser. As if guided by fate, the rock struck its frame, and the artwork clattered to the floor.

The harsh sound yanked Iren from his temper. He knelt and retrieved both the stone and the fallen painting. They were his finest treasures. The stone, little more than a black pebble, had come from the ocean. The surf had tossed it until it had worn perfectly smooth. Years ago, one of the castle children had brought it home, but his mother had commanded him to get rid of it. Iren swiped it that night, his only possession that had ever touched the sea.

As for the painting, while he couldn’t truly claim to own it, he still considered it his. It had hung in this tower since long before he arrived, yet it apparently held such low value that no one bothered to remove it when he took up residence. Still, he couldn’t help feeling a deep attachment to it, the only thing in his room he hadn’t stolen or pulled from the garbage.

Iren surveyed it closely. “No harm done,” he whispered with relief.

Returning the painting to the wall, Iren stepped back and took in its splendid image: a serpentine dragon. Though unsigned, the painting’s remarkable realism made the great beast almost come alive. Blue streaks and hairs off its spine accentuated its gleaming white body. Its wings stretched beyond the painting’s borders, so that they appeared to extend forever to the heavens. Though its mouth opened wide in a silent roar, its expression invoked not terror but majesty.

The painting’s frame held a small plaque that read, “Divinion, the Holy Dragon.” Iren smiled, proud of his unshared knowledge. It gave him a small satisfaction, knowing something the vast majority of the populace did not. Though everyone called Haldessa’s tallest spire the Tower of Divinion, few understood the name’s origin. Growing up, Iren overheard mothers tell their children that long ago, the tower served as a temple to worship dragons, sacred creatures that brought balance to the world.
Of course, no one used it for that purpose now. Nobody believed in the dragons anymore. Most had forgotten that they even had names, let alone what those names were.

As Iren looked at the dragon’s face in the artwork, though, for a moment he saw more than a painting. The creature stared out at the room with sky blue eyes, eyes that eerily matched Iren’s. Their gaze bored through his body, and a sudden hopelessness washed over him. Barely conscious of his actions, Iren backed away from the painting and collapsed on his bed, burying his head in his hands.

The Wings of Dragons

From fantasy author Josh VanBrakle comes an epic new trilogy of friendship, betrayal, and explosive magic. Lefthanded teenager Iren Saitosan must uncover a forgotten history, confront monsters inspired by Japanese mythology, and master a serpentine dragon imprisoned inside a katana to stop a revenge one thousand years in the making.

Lodian culture declares lefthanded people dangerous and devil-spawned, and for Iren, the kingdom's only known Left, that's meant a life of social isolation. To pass the time and get a little attention, he plays pranks on the residents of Haldessa Castle. It's harmless fun, until one of his stunts nearly kills Lodia's charismatic heir to the throne. Now to avoid execution for his crime, Iren must join a covert team and assassinate a bandit lord. It's a suicide mission, and Iren's chances aren't helped when he learns that his new katana contains a dragon's spirit, one with a magic so powerful it can sink continents and transform Iren into a raging beast.

Adding to his problems, someone on Iren's team is plotting treason. When a former ally launches a brutal plan to avenge the Lefts, Iren finds himself trapped between competing loyalties. He needs to figure out who - and how - to trust, and the fates of two nations depend on his choice.

"A fast-paced adventure...led by a compelling cast of characters. Josh VanBrakle keeps the mysteries going." - ForeWord Reviews

Buy @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – YA epic fantasy
Rating – PG-13
More details about the author
Connect with Josh VanBrakle on Twitter

Friday, May 9, 2014

@GeorgiaLeCarre on 10 Things She Didn't Know About the Publishing Industry #Romance #AmWriting

  1. That I should have started marketing the book many months before the book was released.  Wow! This one hurt.
  2. That high quality book jackets can be bought for as little as $30.00!
  3. That people selling reviews will contact you as soon as your book goes live!
  4. That your competitors will buy negative reviews for your precious little book.
  5. That it is so competitive on Amazon that one is only as good as last few hours of sales before the Algorithms program unceremoniously sweeps one out of the top 100 of whatever list you are precariously hanging inside.
  6. That some of the people in the publishing industry are angels in disguise.  They will come forward with offers of help that make your jaw hit the floor.
  7. What is good is no longer decided by the publishers, but by the public.  What was considered by the pillars of the publishing world as unworthy or tasteless can be crowned king by the buying public hours after being published on Amazon.
  8. That Book Bloggers have amassed so much clout being featured on one of the big blogs can catapult your book into heart-stoppingly elevated position on Amazon’s bestseller charts.
  9. That the self-publishing is actually a large lottery of hope.  A small number of lucky authors hit the big time very quickly, and make it look so easy it pushes everybody into thinking, ‘I can do that.’  The failure rate is astounding!
  10. That luck plays a much bigger role than I had given it credit for. Having the right book at the right time is the real key to great success.

Beyond the seductive power of immense wealth lies… Dark Secrets
Devastatingly handsome billionaire, Blake Law Barrington was Lana Blooms first and only love. From the moment they touched his power was overwhelming. Their arrangement quickly developed into a passionate romance that captivated her heart and took her on an incredible sexual journey she never wanted to end.
The future together looked bright until Lana made a terrible mistake. So, she did the only thing she could… she ran.
Away from her incredible life, away from the man of her dreams, but she should have known a man such as Blake Law Barrington was impossible to escape. Now, he’s back in her life and determined that she should taste the bitterness of his pain.
Shocked at how rough the sex has become and humiliated that she is actually participating so willingly in her punishment, she despairs if she will ever feel the warmth of his touch–the solidity of his trust again? And even if she can win his trust, loyalties are yet to be decided, and secrets to be revealed–secrets that will test them both to their limits.
Will Lana be able to tear down the walls that surround Blake’s heart, and break him free of the brutal power of immense wealth?
Can Blake hold on to Lana’s heart when she discovers the enormity of the dark secrets that inhabit the Barrington family?
Lana has always believed that love conquers all. She is about to test that belief…
Buy @ Amazon
Genre – Erotic Romance
Rating – PG-18
More details about the author
Connect with Georgia Le Carre on Facebook & Twitter