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Extracted by Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin

Published August 22, 2016 by admin

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It’s tour time! Today’s title delves into the world of science fiction and steampunk, so let’s take a look!

Extracted

Title:   Extracted

Series:   The Lost Imperials, Book 1

Author:  Tyler H. Jolley and Sherry D. Ficklin

Published:  August 15th, 2016

Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing

Genres:  Science Fiction / Action & Adventure, Science Fiction / Steampunk, Science Fiction / Time Travel

Synopsis:

Two opposing factions of time travelers vie for control of the future in this thrilling steampunk series opener dubbed “Interesting” and “Unexpected” by Kirkus Reviews.

Lex and Ember—two time travelers with no memories of their lives before being recruited into the time war—are torn between the factions. When Lex accepts a mission that lands him deep within the heart of the Telsa Institute, he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them comes flooding back. Now armed with the truth of who they were, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them once again.

*This special edition contains expanded content and bonus material not found in the first release.

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My breath comes in short, shallow bursts. I can feel the warmth of Ethan’s body radiating like a tuning fork against my back. In front of me, there is only darkness. I strain, listening, waiting for the next wave of attack. The leather straps holding up my suede harness dig into the skin of my shoulders, but the ache only sharpens my focus. The urge to turn around is strong, though I know better. Months of training have taught me exactly what happens when I turn my back to the darkness. So I listen, honing my senses until I catch the sound of Ethan taking a small step forward, away from me. My eyes are useless, so I close them. Knowing my attackers are well paid for their ability to move in silence, there is little hope that they will give themselves away. We need another strategy. As if reading my mind, Ethan picks up the conversation we were having earlier.

“All I’m saying is, maybe you need the extra practice,” Ethan says, his tone mocking. Even without being able to see him, I can sense him moving, beginning to circle counterclockwise. I know he’s trying to draw them out, to bring the fight to him. It seems like a sound strategy, so I jump on board.

“Oh, yes, because it isn’t like she turned around and kicked the crap out of you, too.” I’m mimicking his movements now. My voice is flat, free from emotion, and my words are empty. I can’t see him moving, but I can feel him, as if we’re connected by a million invisible threads.

“How am I supposed to just punch a girl?” Ethan asks. “And I was tired from taking the guy out like five seconds earlier.”

“She isn’t a girl. She’s more like a pissed-off kangaroo in a top hat. She has a nasty right hook, I’ll give you that.”

I hear the sharp whip of air as a bamboo pole cuts through the darkness, headed toward my face. Even with our phony argument going on, I’m able to hear it coming before it lands. I bring up my hands and block the blow with my forearms. The impact stings, bruising the bones there, but better my arms than my face. With a movement perfected after one too many blows to the head, I grab the pole and pull it aside, dragging my attacker with it. As he closes in, I drop the pole and lock arms with Ethan. I flip over his back and kick out, knocking my attacker to the mat. As he struggles back to his feet, Ethan spins into my place, delivering a secondary kick that sends the man flying into the wall with a dull thud. “Yeah, but she’s scrappy,” he says.

“Scrappy? Is that boy code for you couldn’t stop staring at her rack?”

Behind me, I feel Ethan duck a blow, and then land one of his own before pressing his back against mine. “I… that’s not… I didn’t even… I mean…” he sputters.

I smirk. Busted.

Footsteps approach, but we keep sparring. I bend over, using my attacker’s own momentum against him as I put my shoulder into his gut and stand, propelling him over my head and onto his back on the mat. I don’t need to see my victory to realize what the maneuver has cost me. A muscle in my lower back seizes, and it’s all I can do not to drop to my knees in agony. I clench my fists until I feel my fingernails cut bloody crescents in my palms. There is no way I’m going to be the weak link—no way I’m going to let Ethan fight alone. Back to back, that’s how Rifters are trained to fight. And Ethan always has my back.

“Don’t feel too bad. She was pretty scrappy after all.”

Ethan mumbles, “It’s a girl thing.”

“Hold up, what’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, stiffly regaining my footing as my back screams in protest.

As usual, Ethan turns to check on me. “Nothing personal, Ember.”

Not wanting him to get slammed for it again, I grab him by the shoulder and pull, revolving us to our starting positions just as the first attacker flips back onto his feet and lunges. He would have taken me in the stomach, but I bring up my knee just in time to block his advance before kicking him in the face. There is a loud crunch that sounds like breaking bone. I hear him hit the mat with a groan. The lights flick back on, and Mistress Catherine blows her whistle.

Normally we spar with off-duty guards, since most of them have military training of some kind. They know how to take a hit and how to deliver one without doing too much damage. We might be lowly recruits, but Rifters are rare, and our lives are precious.

But as the man whose nose I have just broken pulls off his black ski mask, my heart falls into my shoes. Flynn is staring up at me, and his face is covered in blood.

“Nice hit, Ember,” he says as blood drips from his nose and onto his white shirt. Mistress Catherine hands him his horn-rimmed glasses and shoots me an amused smirk. Behind me, Ethan snickers.

Great. And here I was thinking this day couldn’t get any worse.

Reaching down, I offer Flynn a hand up, which he accepts with a smile.

“I’m so sorry,” I mutter, but he waves it off.

“Catherine told me you were really coming along. I wanted to see for myself.”

The others are shuffling out, so I turn to grab a towel and follow them, but Mistress Catherine closes the door behind a worried-looking Ethan, presses her back against it, and narrows her eyes at me. I used to think it was hard to look menacing in a knee-length pencil skirt and beige brocade top, but she radiates power. It might be the stern pucker of her thin lips, or the way her graying hair is knotted tightly at the nape of her neck. She resembles a librarian except for the long, jagged scar that runs from her left temple to the cleft in her chin. Well, that and the spider-shaped, iron shoulder harness permanently affixed to her upper arm.

Not sure what’s going on, I freeze, yellow towel in hand. Before I can say anything, I feel something moving behind me. I manage to move to the side just as a wooden staff comes slamming down against the spot where I’d stood a heartbeat earlier. I turn and see Flynn grinning, blood still dripping off his chin. He spits before whirling the staff like a windmill in front of him. “What I don’t understand,” he says, circling to my left, “is how that Hollow got the best of you. According to Ethan’s report, Kara had no problem with her. And Catherine here tells me that you mat Kara at almost every practice now.”

I have no idea what to say. Does he think I let her beat up on me? Just then, my legs are swept out from under me. I fall to the mat, but, rolling swiftly backward, I bounce up onto my feet. Catherine has a staff, too, and comes toward me from the right. I hold up my hands and back up slowly. In the corner of the room, a vent erupts in a cloud of steam, and Tesla’s image appears but says nothing.

“Look, I didn’t let her get away,” I say. “If that’s what you’re implying. She was strong. And fast.”

Catherine shakes her head. “You are strong. And fast. And clever.”

“I’m sorry!” I blurt out when my back hits the corner and they are still coming at me.

I don’t think Flynn would ever hurt me, not really, but Catherine, well…

Without another word, they both attack. I manage to duck one blow but take another in the ribs before I decide to make a break for it. Jumping as high as possible, I’m able to get a hand on the chain attaching one of the punching bags to the ceiling and hoist myself up. I leap over Flynn and roll as I hit the ground behind him. They’re quick, though, and have me surrounded again in seconds.

It’s easy to forget that they are trained Rifters, too. Catherine doesn’t rift anymore, but Flynn is still active and in really good shape. They aren’t holding anything back either. Flynn lands a blow to my lower back, but when Catherine moves in, I’m able to grab her staff and force it from her bad arm. Suddenly, time is moving in a blur. I’m not thinking about my next move anymore. My body is reacting of its own accord. I’m not sure how it happens, but I blink and Catherine is on her knees. Flynn is standing in front of me, and I have the two staffs crossed at his neck. He’s holding up his hands and saying my name.

I drop the sticks and step back. The muscles in my arms and legs are twitching like I’ve just run ten miles.

“That’s what we mean,” Catherine says, climbing stiffly to her feet. “You could have taken the Hollow girl. So, why did you hesitate?”

I close my eyes, calling the fight to the front of my memory. There was something about the girl. She was beautiful, for sure, but that wasn’t it. There was something else, too. Something I can’t put into words. I look up to find they’re staring at me, waiting for some kind of answer. I can feel Tesla glaring holes into my back, watching me like one of his little science experiments. “I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Flynn sighs and holds his hands out to me. I take them without hesitation. “Ember, I know it’s hard. I know you don’t like hurting people. It’s against your very nature to harm someone or let someone suffer. But you are too important to risk losing. Understand? Sometimes, you have to put someone down, let someone get hurt or even die, to save yourself and your team. You can’t hold anything back.”

I take a deep breath. “And what if someone dies because of me? Because, for some reason, my life is worth more than theirs?”

Flynn lowers his head, looking me in the eye. “That is a burden you will have to learn to carry.”

Sherry Ficklin and Tyler Jolley

Tyler H. Jolley was born in the era of the Star Wars and the Indiana Jones sagas. He has been enamored with science fiction and adventure stories ever since. In order to support his hobby of writing he decided to pursue dentistry. He graduated from Nova Southeastern University School of Dental Medicine in 2002. He then completed a four year orthodontic and periodontic residency at the University of Pennsylvania. In June 2006, he opened a private practice, Jolley Smiles, in Grand Junction, Colorado.Snowboarding, mountain biking, road biking, fly fishing, bird hunting, camping, hiking, and backpacking are the things he enjoys doing with his family. He also enjoys lecturing internationally on temporary orthodontic implants. Some of his journal articles have also been published in the Journal of Clinical Orthodontics. However, his true passion has always been fiction writing.When life gets stressful he escapes to unseen worlds to find relaxation. His career has been the vehicle to let him write without worry. He finds inspiration from most of his adolescent patients. He continues to dream up fun and thrilling books to this day.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs. She is the author of several YA novels ranging from contemporary romance to science fiction. In her spare time she co-hosts the Pop Lit Divas radio show and is constantly trying to take over the world.

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The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional by SW Hammond

Published August 18, 2016 by admin

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It’s that time again! Today, I have a little something different for you that I think you’re going to like…

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Title:   The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional

Author:   SW Hammond

Published:  August 23rd, 2016

Publisher:   Surf Star Media

Genre:   Non-fiction / essay / relationships

Recommended Age:  16+

Synopsis:

A compilation of articles spanning more than a decade woven together to create the misguided anti-love story of a young man learning about relationships and the opposite sex through music, movies, and television.

From music industry professional, SW Hammond, comes The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional, a collection of provocative short stories on his life as a Lost Boy in search of Winnie Cooper.

Raised on rock n’ roll, Hammond blends an unparalleled view of pop culture and philosophy that follows him from his early twenties through his early thirties. The Mixtape Manifesto is filled with rich photography that captures Hammond’s days as a tour manager on Warped Tour and working for Sony Music Entertainment, as well as bringing to life the music, movies, and television that has plagued his rational sense of love and relationships. From childhood viewings of Full House leading to his lifelong hatred of John Stamos, his introduction to the Riot Grrrl movement and Kathleen Hanna, and to a questionable infatuation with The OC’s Summer Roberts—each story blends a reflective Kevin Arnold-like inner monolog with Wild Turkey.

The Mixtape Manifesto is the byproduct of one too many romantic comedies. Inspiration, enlightenment, and delusion fuel Hammond’s quest as he searches for a bit of meaning to life and someone to share it with.

Amazon | GoodReads | SW Hammond Store | Apple iBooksKobo

The Blunder Years

Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paperboy, evening TV? Casual drives over the Golden Gate Bridge and neon windbreakers to protect us from that brisk Bay Area sea breeze? Back when times were simpler and the world had three fathers—and by no means am I referring to the Holy Trinity. I’m talking Danny, Jesse, and Joey. All were miserable failures with personality dysfunctions, but somehow were able to pull themselves together to raise America’s favorite girls. What this country’s fascination is with “three men and a baby” is beyond me.

Aside from the horrible acting and Afterschool Special “the moral of the story is” writing style, Full House was mashed potatoes and gravy to my generation. When the theme song kicked on, you felt good because “everywhere you look there’s a heart and a hand to hold on to.” I always acted as if I was bored while I watched the show, though; even at an early age, I was aware that it wasn’t socially acceptable for a dude to like chick flicks. And that’s what Full House was—a weekly soap opera for young girls.

I watched habitually, though, especially once Rebecca became a regular. I’m not afraid to say it: Lori Loughlin was hot. She still is. In 1989, I didn’t even really know what hot was, but whatever Rebecca was, I liked it. And so began my lifelong hatred for John Stamos. The guy makes me sick. He’s too fucking cool. His gelled-up hair, scruffy metro shave (before the world even knew what metro was), black Italian boots, a rock n’ roll attitude but with a sensitive and understanding side… What a prick. Moreover, he was briefly married to a supermodel. Still, Romjin aside, the only Rebecca that really mattered to me was the one on Full House.

I remember sizing up Stamos on every episode. I’d sit there and scowl at the TV as I’d watch his performance. The majority of my Full House viewing was around the age of 10, so looking back, that must have been quite the sight. Back then, I didn’t know what it was, and I couldn’t clearly put my feelings into words, but I certainly knew that Uncle Jesse was a pretentious asshole. The Elvis impersonations are eventually what did me in. One too many “Teddy Bears” made Rebecca’s love for Jesse unforgivable and I eventually had to move on. I learned early on that chasing after women who were attracted to Jesses was fruitless. I’d never be that guy.

I tried to seek solace in DJ, but she just didn’t have what made me tick. Kimmy was way too easy, so I figured I’d give Steph a shot and maybe try someone my own age. I appreciated her wit and subtle vulnerability, but the fact she shared a roof with Stamos was a deal breaker. I finally had to part ways with the San Francisco family and I found myself becoming best friends with Kevin Arnold. His lifestyle was much easier to swallow than three misfit dads living in the gay capitol of the world. He rode his bike, played football with Paul, thought way too deeply about the world around him, and had a crush on Winnie Cooper—the single greatest young female character up to that point in television history.

Kevin and I got along great, primarily due to our strikingly similar inner monologue. Yes, that’s what it sounds like in my head all day. Winnie was off-limits, however. I admired her from afar, but the show taught me trust and loyalty, one of the lessons that always seemed laughable coming from Jesse’s mouth. Winnie was everything a 12-year-old boy could ask for. She had her own set of wheels, enjoyed milk shakes, and was never afraid to make the first move. In the grand scheme of things, that doesn’t sound too bad to someone in their mid-twenties.

Kevin was my boy though, even through their on-again off-again late adolescence. We shared a comradely, an understanding of sorts. Kevin always ultimately did the right thing, learning life lessons along the way. I took notes and mentally never had an affair with his girl. That’s how it all went down until the final episode.

That night, I turned on my TV, half-depressed. I was anxious to see the big finale, but I felt like my childhood was ending just as Kevin’s was. The suspense ate me alive as I slurped from my juice box. The show ended by flashing forward to present day. Winnie got off a plane from studying art in Paris only to be greeted by Kevin, his wife, and new son. Those fuckers. I dropped my fruit-flavored beverage and let it seep deep into my favorite childhood blanket.

From that moment on, it’s been nothing but Guns n’ Roses, cheap strippers, Wild Turkey, and an immense Winnie Cooper void I’ve never been able to fill. Rebeccas are a dime a dozen, just like the Jesses they date. But not Winnie Cooper. Only a Winnie can make you… melt.

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SW Hammond, short for Sean William, is the author of The Mixtape Manifesto: A Pop Culture Confessional and The Final Book fictional series. He is also a freelance writer contributing to countless music zines, athletic, lifestyle, and technical magazines and websites across the world.

SW’s writing style, particularly within his commentary, is often compared to Chuck Klosterman-esq with countless references to pop culture, especially music. His brazen and honest approach creates camaraderie with the reader, then tests the boundaries with sensitive subject matter. Philosophy, ethics, and nobility square off against a materialistic society driven by instant gratification, with Hammond treading water directly in the middle.

His fictional writing makes a conscious effort to blend perception, rumor, and fact leaving the reader to question reality. His stories often taking place in historical settings or playing on modern headlines, Hammond uses common themes to drive home critical points about the human condition. Though often grand, epic, and futurist, the backbone of his novels hinge on honor and virtue, or lack thereof.

Hammond has a very unique background as a music and sports industry professional. He has worked for Major League Baseball as a Marketing Coordinator, was an Assistant of Arizona Operations in the Kansas City Royals farm system, and a Stadium Manager of the Los Angeles Angels Spring Training facility. He is also credited as a Marketing Representative for Sony Music Entertainment, a Senior Tour Manager for the Vans Warped Tour, and an intern at WAR Records / United Interests Management.

SW was born just outside of Denver, CO and hasn’t stopped moving since. Aside from Colorado, growing up Hammond also lived in Maine, California, Utah, and Hawaii. As an adult he returned to Colorado and Utah, also adding Arizona and Nevada to the list. He currently resides in Las Vegas. Hammond has never been married and has no children.

 

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Juniper Grove presents Shadowed by Ken Hughs

Published July 7, 2016 by admin

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It’s book blitz time again, so let’s check out a new title!

Shadowed

Title:  Shadowed

Author:   Ken Hughes

Published:   February 6, 2012

Publisher:   Windward Road Press

Genre:  Paranormal Thriller

He can hear a whisper a block away… and can’t remember why.

Open your mind, to a city where mystery chases up and down office back stairways, turns brother against brother, and plays out on frozen sidewalks where lives may be shattered if the enemy even looks at the ragged man passing by in the crowd—and even that man cannot guess what memory will be next to batter his mind.

Paul was no detective, no thief, only a student trying to get some distance from his father and brother. When he found himself marked by the power to enhance his senses, he had only that treacherous gift and what few tricks he dared to teach himself, to search for some explanation—or at least the chance to give it meaning by exposing a few petty corruptions.

Paul thought if he lived in poverty to keep his existence secret from the world, at least nobody could force him to use that gift as a weapon against others. But just when he thought he was untouchable, the last thing he expected shakes his world and drags him into the perils of his family, his power, and two women who each have a different claim on his life.

As Paul begins to play cat and mouse with enemies he can’t even name, he must break every rule that’s kept him alive, in every frantic chase and every gamble he makes to break his family free. And all the while, he knows his greatest enemy may still be what lies behind his own secrets.

If you think you know everything a paranormal thriller can do, take a closer look.

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***

Paul gritted his teeth. Gripping the metal piece as firmly as he could through the glove, he Opened to the shape in the shadows along the window, fighting to ignore the two memories so he could just see the wires, know the distance…

In one move, he reached down through the broken pane to stab the metal’s edge into the wood below, pressing its length between the sensors at just the proper angle. Nothing snapped, no alarm blared… and he yanked his hand back up as the dog snapped at him.

The metal stayed in place. He tried to Open his hearing to follow if the electrical path had changed, but all he heard were Quinn’s words and the dog’s thwarted growls.

Time to find out.

The dog watched his every motion now, so he took the last pigeon from his box and slid it through the hole. The dog barked as the bird fluttered by, but this time, it turned right back to the window as Paul reached in again to flip the latch.

He pulled his hand back in time, but the dog kept barking, and Paul could only hope the guard was still sick of false alarms. And that the other alarm here…

The window slid up, just three inches for now. No bells rang, but the dog snarled and snapped just beyond that gap.

And Paul raised the pet store’s spray bottle and squirted cleaning fluid into its face.

The dog yelped and pulled back, giving Paul a moment to fling the window up. As the dog started toward him again, he gave it another spray, then caught up the bird net and flung it over the beast.

Paul grabbed the bottle again and leaped through, into the room.

A few desks and cabinets stretched around him in the dim light. He turned back to see the dog already shaking off the thin net, as expected. He stepped back and pumped the spray as the dog charged—but it squirted once and then the trigger clicked in without pumping any liquid. He back-pedaled and pumped more slowly, but now the spray only made the dog flinch back a moment.

The inner door’s this way—Paul took a step, and his hip bashed the edge of a desk. The dog lunged.

He spun around the desk and threw himself at the door. For one frozen moment, he wondered if he’d ever heard the guard open it. What if it’s locked? Then he seized the handle and wrenched it open, which sent a spasm through his injured arm.

As he stepped through, the dog came up behind him. Paul ducked sideways and gave the spray bottle trigger one hard squeeze. The spray drove the dog back only a step, and Paul pumped wildly, felt the trigger catch on nothing—He smashed the bottle into the animal’s head, knocked the dog away, then leapt back out through the door and slammed it shut.

Gasping for breath, he listened to the dog’s muted barking for a moment. The spray bottle had split open in his hand, and he set the its remains quietly on the floor.

Paul looked past the desks to the office’s little file cabinet and then marched back to slide the window shut and gather up the net. That left him in the space between the alarms, with the dog trapped, and the guard tired of checking out all these noises.

“Alright, what now?” the guard growled, as the outer door’s lock clicked open. Paul dropped flat, behind a desk just as the light came on.

Ken-Hughes-Author

Ken Hughes is an urban fantasy writer living in Los Angeles, author of Shadowed and the upcoming The High Road. He’s also done technical writing for missions to Mars, and blogs about writing and genres at www.KenHughesAuthor.com.

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Juniper Grove Presents: Chasing Rabbits by Erin Bedford

Published June 2, 2016 by admin

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It’s book blitz time, and I’ve got another fantastic title to share with you this week!

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Genre:  Supernatural Fantasy

Recommended Age:   16+

Synopsis:  Alice was wrong – Wonderland wasn’t so wonderful after all.

Kat never expected to be back in her hometown, but when house sitting turns into a mad rabbit chase, Kat finds herself with a whole new set of problems.

A two-headed bird with a Game of Thrones obsession, a party full of tea addicts, and a Cheshire Cat who could seduce the pants off her grandma? And if the citizens weren’t bad enough their prince was off his rocker.

This wasn’t your run of the mill Wonderland. This was the Fae world, where rules are rules, and some things are exactly as they seem.

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Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Join the Facebook release party on June 2nd for the chance to WIN prizes from multiple authors! A Kindle Fire is even up for grabs! Join HERE.

***

 The feeling of his mouth on mine made me lightheaded in the best of ways. In an effort to stay afloat, my hands gripped on to his vest, pulling him closer. I admit I was more than a little bit disappointed when my movement caused him to pull away.

My chest heaved as I tried to regain my breathing. He leaned his forehead against mine, his own breath coming out in pants. At least I wasn’t the only one affected.

“What was that for?”

A crackling sound broke our little moment up and Chess took a step back. The billowing fog from the forest leaked in under the wardrobe door. All thoughts of Chess’s kiss fled my mind as terror began to overwhelm me. I didn’t want to know what lie behind that door.

“You need to go now, Kat.” He ushered me to the mirror before turning back to the door.

“Wait!” I tugged on his arm. “What about you?”

“Who me?” Chess gave a coy smile that didn’t reach his heated eyes.

“I’m just a cat.”

“Are you mad? Come with us!” My voice became desperate as the door banged open and then there was silence.

The light from the bedroom was gone. Inside the door lay only darkness. It was the kind of darkness you were afraid to look into for fear of someone looking back. I knew I didn’t want that darkness looking at me.

Chess turned to me once again, brushing his lips against my ear. My eyes were focused so much on the approaching darkness that I almost didn’t hear what he said. I frowned in confusion, but before I could question him he shoved me through the mirror’s surface.

Erin-Bedford-1

Erin Bedford is a new fantasy romance author, a computer programmer by day, and a hobby hoarder.

Creating fantastical worlds has always been a secret passion of hers and she couldn’t imagine writing any story without some kind of lovey-dovey or smexy goodness in it.

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Juniper Grove Presents: Mirror Image by Michele Pariza Wacek

Published May 27, 2016 by admin

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It’s book blast time! Let’s see what new title we’ve got in store for us today.

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Author:   Michele Pariza Wacek

Published:  May 27th, 2016

Publisher:   Love-Based Publishing

Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense

Synopsis:

Which would be worse: knowing that your dead sister has come back to life and is now a serial killer, or that someone else is the killer… and that person is you?

Six months after Linda’s sister Elizabeth killed herself, Linda has finally gotten her life back to some semblance of normalcy. Until a killer appears who is stalking men … a killer who resembles Elizabeth … a killer who seems somehow familiar to Linda.

And to make matters worse, Detective Steve Anderson, her old high school crush, is assigned to the case. He’s asking Linda all sorts of questions – questions she couldn’t possibly have an answer to.

There’s no reason for him to be investigating Linda. She couldn’t possibly have anything to do with this.

Could she?

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When Elizabeth was born, her mother knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the hospital had made a mistake.

It had been a difficult pregnancy. Marie spent most of it in bed, nauseated, uncomfortable, exhausted. She barely kept anything down, subsisting mostly on tea and saltine crackers. When the time came to deliver, the doctors performed an emergency Caesarean section, so she wasn’t able to actually watch the birth.

She couldn’t explain it, but the first time the nurses presented her with Elizabeth, she refused to even hold the baby. “There must be some mistake,” she insisted.

“There’s no mistake,” the nurses said, their approach firm and no-nonsense.

Blond and pale, Elizabeth looked nothing like the other dark haired members of the family. But it was more than that. Elizabeth felt wrong. Marie sensed it every single time she looked at Elizabeth, touched Elizabeth, smelled Elizabeth. The baby was alien to her. Elizabeth was not her baby.

But she could do nothing about it. Her husband hadn’t seen the birth. He had refused to attend any of his children’s births. The nurses kept assuring her that no one had made, could possibly have made, a mistake. So Marie had little choice but to bring her home.

Elizabeth was different, always — strange. Marie hated to use that word about any of her children, especially her youngest, but she could find no other word to describe her. Elizabeth was strange. Period.

From birth, the baby kept quiet. Rarely fussed. Hardly cried. She started talking at six months, much earlier than the rest of her children, and started forming full sentences at just over a year old.

She spent most of her time alone or, once she learned how, reading. In fact, Elizabeth remained such a quiet child, Marie could easily forget about her. It made her nervous. Elizabeth was too quiet.

Even her scent was all wrong. Babies smelled warm and sweet, of milk and talcum powder. Elizabeth’s scent reminded her of meat just beginning to spoil: thick and rotten.

But there was something else wrong with Elizabeth, something more serious than her near silence, her behavior, her scent. Even more serious than that alien feeling, which Marie had tried to dismiss as simple post-partum depression, although it never did go away entirely.

When Marie was really being honest with herself, which didn’t happen often, she could admit what really disturbed her most about her daughter.

Her eyes. Elizabeth had silver eyes.

Not always. Most of the time they looked gray. But sometimes, they changed to silver. Occasionally, Marie even thought she could see them glowing, like a cat’s. Especially at night. There Elizabeth would be, lying on her back, perfectly quiet in her crib, her eyes strangely open, shining faintly in the darkness. Marie would tell herself that Elizabeth’s eyes merely reflected the nightlight in a bizarre fashion. After all, none of her other children’s eyes ever glowed. But it still didn’t make her any easier to face, late at night, as silver eyes stared at her from the darkness. They seemed so old, so ancient. Eyes that had seen thousands of years and hundreds of lifetimes. Those eyes peered out from her newborn’s face, watching her every move, strangely calculating, full of adult understanding and knowledge. She felt afraid, if she were being honest … all alone in the room with those peculiar silver eyes watching, watching, always watching.

Nonsense, she reassured herself. Surely, she could not be afraid of her own infant daughter! What would her husband say? Plenty probably, and most of it with his fists.

Still, she found herself checking on Elizabeth less and less. She argued with herself: Elizabeth didn’t fuss much anyway. Marie didn’t need to check on her so often — not like she did with her other, noisy, “normal” babies.

Her other children. Such a joy they were, her four boys and other girl — Peter, Mark, Mike, Chad and Linda. All healthy, regular children, with coarse dark hair, brown eyes and a little bit of baby fat on their bones. They looked the way children should look, the way her children should look, like their parents. But more importantly, they acted the way children should act — loud, boisterous, rough, needy. Marie loved them for it, loved how she couldn’t get a moment’s peace when they played together. Even when their play turned to fighting, she still preferred it to Elizabeth’s silent, eerie presence.

But Marie loved Elizabeth, too. Loved her fiercely, with the same passion she felt for her other children. Marie knew she did. She told herself she did, time and time again. The fact that she felt relief when Elizabeth wasn’t around meant nothing. She just needed time away from her children, after all. Almost all mothers welcomed the time they had away from their constant, children-related responsibilities. It didn’t mean she loved them any less. It didn’t mean anything at all.

Michele-Pariza-Wacek

When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (she’s published two psychological thrillers/mystery/suspense novels “The Stolen Twin” and “Mirror Image” so far) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie and is hard at work on her next novel.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Haunts 3: An interview with Alexander S. Brown

Published May 8, 2016 by admin

SouthernHaunts3TourBadge

It’s blog tour time! Today I have an interview with not only a fantastic editor and author, but one of my favorite people and podcasting co-host. But first, ze book.

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Genres/Subgenres: Horror, Short Story, Paranormal, Occult, Folklore/Southern Regional

Deep within the South, read about the magickal folk who haunt the woods, the cemeteries, and the cities. Within this grim anthology, eighteen authors will spellbind you with tales of hoodoo, voodoo, and witchcraft.

From this cauldron mix, readers will explore the many dangers lurking upon the Natchez Trace and in the Mississippi Delta. They will encounter a bewitched doll named Robert from the Florida Keys, and a cursed trunk that is better left closed. In the backstreets of New Orleans, they will become acquainted with scorned persons who will stop at nothing to exact their revenge.

These hair raising tales and more await you in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. Read if you dare.

Authors:

Alexander S. Brown

Angela Lucius

  1. H. David Blalock

C G Bush

Della West

Diane Ward

Elizabeth Allen

Greg McWhorter

John Hesselberg

Jonnie Sorrow

Kalila Smith

Linda DeLeon

Louise Myers

Melissa Robinson

Melodie Romeo

J L Mulvihill

Robert McGough

Tom Lucas

***

SJ: Tell us about SH3.  What makes it unique compared to 1&2?

ASB: Actually, each vol. of Southern Haunts is unique, as the subjects vary with each book.  Vol 1. Spirits that Walk Among Us, focused on ghosts.  Vol 2. Devils in the Darkness, featured on demonic entities.  Vol 3. Magick Beneath the Moonlight, regards witchcraft and cursed objects.

SJ: Why witches?  What attracts you to the theme?

ASB: I have always been attracted to the occult.  I find the whole subject fascinating and since Spirits that Walk Among Us was published, it was only a matter of time before we released an anthology about magickal persons.  But for this to happen, I had to wait.

For vol. 3 to be about witches, there is a great significance to the vol. number and the subject matter.  In the occult, there is the belief that what one puts out into the world comes back to them in triple abundance.  Also, in paganism, the maiden, the mother and the crone are recognized and honored as a trinity. These reasons are specifically why this vol. could be none other than occult related.

SJ: What makes for a good southern horror story?

ASB: Multiple elements can make a good southern horror story, such as elaborating about the habitat, cultural development, history, verbiage, and so forth.  But personally for me, what makes a southern horror story great, is the way that it is told.

Many times during childhood, I had found myself at family gatherings and I would overhear elderly relatives speak of infamous legends from the region.  The richness of their slang and phrases, made their ghost stories all the more horrifying, because it seemed more personal.  It seemed like the story tellers weren’t utilizing proper words and phrases to identify something infamous, they were using an age old southern dialect that seemed even more tangible.

SJ: Why do you think readers gravitate to themed horror like this, especially in short form?

ASB: I think the majority of readers are under attack from having a short attention span.  Because of life being so hectic, short stories can allow readers to enjoy complete stories in minimal time.  With the subjects being themed, it lets the reader know immediately what they are in store for.  This can result in a quicker purchase.  For example: Southern Haunts 3 is about witches, the title and cover image are self-explanatory.  If the reader loves witches, they are more likely to purchase.  If that reader is not a fan of magickal themed stories, then perhaps Southern Haunts vol. 1 or 2 is more their preference.

SJ: What are the benefits of anthologies?  Any downside?

The biggest benefit for an anthology is that it presents readers with a diversity of authors who they may not have read before.  This works well for the author because it can help them gain new fans.

The downside to anthologies is that no one really makes money, as book royalties are normally split between 15 to 20 creators.

SJ: Was it different wearing the editor hat compared to being an author?

ASB: It was quite different.  After finishing Southern Haunts vol. 1, I had a new respect for editors.  To me, writing is simple and relaxing, editing is time consuming and feels like work.  Although I prefer writing more than editing, editing the Southern Haunts series has improved my writing skills.

SJ:What is the best thing about putting a book like this together?  The most difficult?

ASB: The best thing about constructing an anthology is seeing likeminded authors come together and submit their creativity.  It is a good feeling to know that other names in the profession want to work with you and contribute stories that might have been stuck in their head for quite some time.

The downside is when I have to reject stories.  I can understand how an author might think that it’s so easy for an editor to dismiss a story, and this isn’t the case.  For me, sending a rejection email, hurts me just as much as it does the author.

SJ: Any advice to authors who are interested in submitting to anthologies?

ASB: First, research the publisher before you submit.

SJ: Second, follow the guidelines.  Sometimes guidelines are overly specific with their requirements, even down to spacing, font, and letter size.  Obey all of these rules.  A lot of times, editors will use these demands as ways to see if the author payed attention, or cares about their work.

SJ: What’s next for Southern Haunts? For you as an author?

ASB: For Southern Haunts vol. 4, we are anticipating creature stories.  We haven’t decided on a title yet, but it will follow the theme of its predecessors, but with monsters.

I have a few books that are in the works.  One of which is in the final edit stage, and is being published by Pro Se Press, this will be a collection of Halloween stories called The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.  I have one story left to write before Traumatized pt 2 is complete, and The Looking Glass Creatures is currently undergoing a massive edit.

AlexanderSBrown

Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it has been released as a special edition by Pro Se Press. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies, Capes and Clockwork Anthologies, and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the anthologies Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press and State of Horror: Louisiana Vol 1 published by Charon Coin Press.

Visit Smashwords.com, Amazon.com, and Barnesandnoble.com to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and they are known as stories that will be featured in the upcoming book The Night the Jack O’Lantern Went Out.

 

Calling all Bloggers and Reviewers!

Published March 21, 2016 by admin

Wanted to give props to some blog tours coming up – if you’re a reviewer or a book blogger, you’ll want to get in on these! Just click the link to go to the respective tour page.

Bob Freeman’s Carinwood Manor Series – Horror/Dark Fantasy

THE VAMPIRE MACGREGOR LIVES…

“Foolish pup,” MacGregor chided the werewolf, “you don’t get it. Laddie, if water were evil I’d be but a drop. What lurks below is an ocean.”

From the haunted halls of Cairnwood Manor to the bowels of Rosslyn Chapel, Bob Freeman hurls you into the very heart of the eternal conflict between the forces of darkness and the forces of light.

It’s fang versus claw, spell versus steel, and love versus death in an epic battle of blood and thunder.

When a sinister cabal converges to unleash the ultimate evil against an unsuspecting world, only the combined strength of the Wolves of Cairnwood Manor and the Circle of Nine Skulls offers up a glimmer of hope as werewolves, vampires, witches, immortal warriors, and an army of the undead collide in a battle of epic bloodshed.

Southern Haunts 3 – dark fantasy/horror –  Magic Between the Moonlight. The Southern Haunts Anthology series is back, and this time it’s featuring all stories and folklore about witches. Not to be missed.

Georgia L Jones – Remnants of Life series – paranormal/urban fantasy

Dangerous Saviors…what would you do if your life rested in the hands of something that really wanted to EAT YOU…

Come journey through the realms of the next world where everything you know about Good and Evil are put to the test.

Samantha Garrett lives and dies a good life in the human world. She awakens a new creature, Samoda, a vampire-like warrior in the army of Nuem. She is forced to realize that she has become a part of a world that humans believe to be only “Legends of Darkness”. Samoda finds her new life is entwined with the age old story of Greed, Love, Betrayal, and Vengeance.

Join our Heroine as she battle’s not just for her own existence, but for entire human race’s future.