Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cory Dale, Author of Demon Fare (The Spawnstertown Chronicles, Book One) Stops by the Blog Today to Discuss "The Idea Behind Demon Fare" & She Brings a Giveaway

Let me introduce to you author of Demon Fare ~ Cory Dale!!  We have the pleasure of chatting with her today about:

The Idea Behind Demon Fare

I’m often asked where I get my ideas for the books I write. It’s never the same for every book, but each one is usuallyinspired by a dream. Whatever the initial idea is, it will likely morph into something else by the time the book is finished.

I remember when I first came up with the germ of an idea for Demon Fare. I’m prone to daydreaming, especially while sitting in traffic. I used to live in a small town in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies and had an hour’s commute, one way, to my office in Denver every day. That’s a long drive and it gave me lots of time to think.

One winter evening, or it might have been early spring, I was on my way home from work and got stuck in traffic during a snow storm. That one-hour trip turned into two hours as I sat in my idling SUV burning gas and watching the taillights of my fellow commuters. I started to think about how many times a car might change hands when re-sold to a new owner. Who had the car first? How attached had he been to his car? What if he died and his ghost haunted the car that was now owned by someone else?

This idea got tacked onto another idea about what might happen if a massive earthquake a hundred or so years in the past altered history. And what if that devastating quakenearly destroyed civilization as we know it and unearthed a species of sentient beings from the earth’s core? And what if those beings came to the surface to help humans repair and rebuild the world by possessing their machines? Progress would obviously stop while the planet healed, and it would make sense for civilization to get stuck in an earlier age during reparation. Maybe the industrial age.Hmm… Steampunk. Now there was an idea.

That’s how Mystic Taxi, the early working title for Demon Fare, was initially conceived. The taxi in the story is possessed by a demon named Mystic and she talks to the main character, Henry, by snatching words from the radio and stringing them together to make sentences. Mystic is a secondary character who captured my heart while I was writing her and she’s often a point of contention between the two protagonists: Henry the taxi driver and Wanda the exorcist. The gentledemon possessing Henry’s cab adds to bits oflevity sprinkled throughout the novel.

To learn more about Mystic and her role in Demon Fare, I hope you’ll read the book. Here’s the description:

In an alternate history New York City—one hundred and fifty years after an earthquake from hell nearly destroyed the planet—the twenty-first century clings to an industrial age. Steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. Henry Paine, a half-demon taxi driver, is the go-to guy for just the right demon to possess your machine and automate any mechanical gizmo with or without an engine. The creatures are tame as pets. Or at least they have been… until now.
Wanda Snow is an exorcist who grudgingly admits to having a few drops of demon blood herself. She's come to New York to rid the city of demonic vermin as well as any other demons that get in her way. Wanda and Henry are naturally at odds, but the two are forced to become partners in a mutual goal to round up the rogue demons biting the Big Apple and take down the sinister tyrant who started it all.

Thank you for reading!

About Demon Fare:

In an alternate history New York City—one hundred and fifty years after an earthquake from hell nearly destroyed the planet—the twenty-first century clings to an industrial age. Steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. Henry Paine, a half-demon taxi driver, is the go-to guy for just the right demon to possess your machine and automate any mechanical gizmo with or without an engine. The creatures are tame as pets. Or at least they have been… until now.

Wanda Snow is an exorcist who grudgingly admits to having a few drops of demon blood herself. She's come to New York to rid the city of demonic vermin as well as any other demons that get in her way. Wanda and Henry are naturally at odds, but the two are forced to become partners in a mutual goal to round up the rogue demons biting the Big Apple and take down the sinister tyrant who started it all.

Book Details:

Demon Fare
The Spawnstertown Chronicles, Book One
Cory Dale

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Karen Duvall

Date of Publication: 12/20/2014

ISBN: 13: 978-0692342633

Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 86,000

Cover Artist: Karen Duvall

Read an Excerpt:

Wanda Snow fastened a row of buttons on her coat. Damn, it was colder than a banker’s heart out here. She studied the park across the street, watching leafless branches waggle their twiggy fingers in the fog. Drawing back a sleeve, she checked her watch, its large, visible gears a weight around her wrist. Four in the morning. Two hours until sun-up.
Leaning against a lamppost, she gazed up the street, her senses tuned in to the demon energy flowing through the city. She sensed a Bringer coming her way.
Unclasping the tin choker from around her neck, she opened it just wide enough to let the voices in. Eyes closed, she focused on the whispered thoughts of a hundred demons that confirmed the identity of the Hellspawn she waited for. He was the Bringer, and although he didn’t know it yet, he would help her stop the evil that conspired to take over New York City.
“How doin’?” A real voice came from the foggy dark, the words sounding burned as if by coal dust. She knew that sound. The raspy voices of coal-digging Spawnsters had filled the patch towns of her Kentucky home. She still heard them in her sleep. “Spare a dime for a man down on his luck?”
Wondering if she’d been followed, she turned to face him, her spine stiff and booted legs poised to kick what would hurt most. Wanda welcomed some trouble if it would warm her up. But the half-breed was a head shorter than her six feet, and his top hat had no top, his gloves had no fingers. The only threat he posed was the stink coming off him in waves strong enough to choke a skunk. Her gaze raked him up and down as she said, “I’m poor as you, mister. You won’t hear no coins clinkin’ in my pocket.”
“I be a pig’s uncle. You’s a woman, ain’t ya?”
“Last I looked.”                                                  
He chuckled. “You dressed too manly to be one of Hell’s Belles. What you doin’ out in Central Park all by your lonesome?”
“Waitin’ for someone. How ’bout you?”
His brown-toothed smile spread his mouth wider than normal for a human. He was a Spawnster, all right. And a drunk one at that. “Makin’ new friends.” He took a swig from a bottle wrapped in a paper bag and held it out for Wanda. “Wanna be my friend?”
She grimaced at the smell of rancid olive oil that was like a hundred proof grain alcohol to a Spawnster. Pushing the bottle away, she shook her head. “I’ll pass, thanks anyway.”
He frowned, his dark eyes starting to glow. Just her luck. A drunk Spawnster with a temper.
“I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but I ain’t interested. Share your oil with someone who can enjoy it, ’kay?” She turned toward the street.
“F*ckin’ human.” Venom deepened his voice. “You think you’re better ’an me?”
Strong fingers gripped her arm above the elbow and tried to spin her around, but she didn’t budge. The drunk yanked again and she took her time turning to face him. “You don’t wanna do this.”
He swung back a fist, aiming his scaly knuckles at her face, but she stopped the blow with one open palm.
Wanda slapped him hard in the face and he staggered backward, eyes wide. “Did no one ever teach you manners?” She slapped him again. “It ain’t nice to beat up on a lady.” A solid punch to his left temple dropped him face down in the gutter.
“Not that I’m a lady, you understand, but you still shouldn’t go ’round beatin’ up on people. It ain’t polite.” She smiled down at the unconscious Spawnster who was too dumb to be a spy. Even if he were, she’d left a clear message for whomever he worked for. His hat lay in the street about ten feet away. She picked it up, dusted it off with the sleeve of her coat, and set it on the ground beside him. He didn’t move. “Have a nice night.” 
          As she crossed over into the park, twin headlamps from an oncoming car forced her into the shadows.

Purchase Links:

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About the Author:

Karen Duvall, who wrote Demon Fare as Cory Dale, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. Karen is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein of the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Her Knight's Curse series was published by Harlequin Luna in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna's 'Til The World Ends anthology in 2013.

Karen is also a professional graphic designer who designs book covers and book interiors for self-published authors, and creates original 3D graphics for computer gaming. Demon Fare is the first book in her Spawnstertown Chronicles.

Find Karen/Cory Online:

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Read an Exclusive Excerpt for American Specter by Rasheedah Prioleau on Sapphyria's Book Blog Today!

Book Details:

American Specter
Rasheedah Prioleau 

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Date of Publication: Feb, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692226582

Number of pages: 248
Word Count: 72,000

Cover Artist: Roger Raymond

About American Specter:

FBI Agent Audra Wheeler has been haunted for the last thirteen years by a paranormal attack that left her sister, Kendra, in a coma. Mentored by FBI Assistant Director Jonathan Cordero to investigate crimes committed by specters, Audra believes she is on the trail of a ‘serial killer’ specter with a MO very similar to her sister’s attacker.

The investigation takes her to a small town of Specter, Georgia; a haven for ghosts who exist among the living.

Read the Exclusive Excerpt:


Audra found it hard to believe that people still went to the library, but when she walked in she noted that it was indeed full of people, mostly students. Most of them sat at computers playing games while listening to headphones.
She walked up to what appeared to be an empty reference desk and was unsettled by the appearance of a specter that looked the part of a college kid with coke-bottle glasses and severe acne.
“Whoa!” he exclaimed as her specter shield pushed him from his seat. “What is that?” He looked at her dubiously, taking in her specter zapper and badge right away.  She deactivated her specter shield knowing that it would be impossible to get around with it on in a town full of ghosts.
“You here about Gwyn?” His voice was the usual hollow, otherworldly echo that was associated with specters still mastering speech without a voice box.
His glasses slipped down his nose, in classic geek-gone-wrong fashion. Audra shook her head at the absurdity; it wasn’t like he needed them. He pushed his glasses back up his nose and she could tell he became more uncomfortable with her disapproving glare as he retook his seat.      
“What do you know about it?” she asked curtly.
“She didn’t come into work this morning. Gwyn never missed a day,” he said.
Audra looked around as if disinterested as she listened to him. She took note of several young people hanging in a group with specters telling tales of their day. She spotted several other specters dotting the library in various stages of manifestation.
She could tell the newbie specters by their classic opaque ghost-like appearance. She never really minded those. In fact, she felt a great deal of sympathy for them, coming to terms with the fact that their lives were really over. It was the specters that had mastered every aspect of appearing normal, the ones that hid in plain sight pretending to be alive she didn’t trust.  
“He called Gwyn’s apartment when she didn’t show up this morning but didn’t get an answer. Then he asked her super to check in on her. That’s when he found her. They just told us not too long ago.”
“Who called the super?” Audra asked.    
“Management.” The specter shrugged and pointed to the door along the far wall.
“Thanks, uhm?” Audra looked at him questioningly.
“Benjamin,” he supplied. “Benjamin Conner.”
Thanks, Ben.” She turned on her heals and headed towards the manager’s door.           
She caught sight of a woman who appeared to be in her late thirties, crying alone down an aisle. She paused en route and turned to walk towards her. The woman looked up to see her coming and quickly dried her red-rimmed blue eyes and cleared her throat. She pushed her flat blonde hair behind her ears and crossed her arms over her chest.
“Hi, I’m Agent Wheeler. I’m here about Gwyneth Miller. Did you know her?” Audra asked.
The woman sniffed and nodded. “I’m Katherine Taylor. We worked here together for the last eight years,” she said. “She was such a nice girl. She’d never hurt a fly. I can’t believe anyone would...” she trailed off into more tears.
“Do you know if Gwyneth was seeing anybody?” Audra asked.
No.” Katherine shook her head. “She was seeing some loser about a year ago but kicked him out. She’s been alone ever since.
“Do you know why?”
“He was cheating on her.”
“What was his name?” Audra pressed.
“Michael Robertson, or Richardson, or Richards…” Katherine tried to remember.
“Do you know if Gwyn was associating with any specters?”
Katherine laughed. “No, her father used to be the sheriff here. He made it clear that he didn’t like the specter invasion. Other than going to the college she was pretty loyal to his point of view.”
“Where is her father?”
“He passed away about six months back,” she said and shook her head.
“I see,” Audra said and fished a card from her jacket pocket. “If you can think of anything, anything at all, please don’t hesitate to give me a call.”
“Sure.” Katherine took the card and walked away.
Audra continued on her way to the manager’s office. She had to pause and duck into an empty aisle as a flashback took her over. She tried to focus on the books in front of her, fighting to remain present but couldn’t. She was fourteen again, in her older sister Kendra’s house. She heard a commotion that made her get up from the television and walk towards her sister’s bedroom. 
“It’s okay,” Audra told herself in the present as she watched herself headed towards that door. “You’re not there anymore.” She felt the flashback fade away, and she took several breaths to steady herself. Shaking off the moment, she continued to the manager’s office.
When she got to the door, she heard hushed, muffled voices. She tried to make out what they were saying but couldn’t. She knocked, and the voices stopped. The door was opened just wide enough for a tall, dark, and handsome man to peek his head out. Audra noted that his hair was disheveled, as if he’d raked his hands through it several times. His eyes seemed bloodshot, and there was a faint hint of liquor on his breath.
“Yes?” he queried, his dark eyes looking her over quickly.
“Hello, I’m Special Agent Wheeler. I’m here to talk to you about Gwyneth Miller.” She pointed to her badge for emphasis.
“I’m outta here,” a ghostly, feminine voice from inside of the room said before a young girl with black and purple hair pushed her way past the man and maneuvered around Audra.
Her shoulder came so close to Audra that if she had been living she might have bumped Audra’s shoulder. As she was a specter, her shoulder vanished and reappeared as the rest of her cleared Audra and hurried on her way. Audra watched the girl questioningly.
“My daughter, Amanda,” the man supplied, tucking in the tail of his shirt and straightening his tie. “I promised to do something remotely father-like and I had to back out because of the… situation,” he explained, extending a hand. “Charles Stewart. Come on in.”          
Audra stepped into the office that seemed to be in a state of organized chaos.

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Rasheedah Prioleau is a southern African American writer with an eclectic range of writing and ghostwriting credits. After a few years in the corporate world she started over from the bottom as an unpaid intern for a literary manager and never looked back.

"I love to write because there are no limits. All it takes is a finite space of time and I can create a story from infinite possibilities."

Writers who have influenced her include: Judy Bloom, Jude Deveraux, V.C. Andrews, Octavia Butler, Stephanie Meyer, Charlaine Harris, Joss Whedon, William Nicholson, Shonda Rhimes, Quentin Tarantino, Tyler Perry, Mike Kelley, and J.J. Abrams... just to name a few.

Find Rasheedah Online:

Twitter: @prioleaura

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Book Spotlight: The Tears of the Rose (The Twelve Kingdoms, Book Two) by Jeffe Kennedy

Book Details:

The Tears of the Rose
The Twelve Kingdoms, Book Two
Jeffe Kennedy

Paperback: 336 pages

Publisher: Kensington

Release Date: November 25, 2014

ISBN-10: 075829445X
ISBN-13: 978-0758294456

About The Tears of the Rose:

Three sisters. Motherless daughters of the high king. The eldest is the warrior-woman heir;the middle child is shy and full of witchy intuition;and the youngest, Princess Amelia, she is as beautiful as the sun and just as generous.

Ami met her Prince Charming and went away to his castle on the stormy sea-cliffs—and that should have been her happily ever after. Instead, her husband lies dead and a war rages. Her middle sister has been taken into a demon land, turned into a stranger. The priests and her father are revealing secrets and telling lies. And a power is rising in Ami, too, a power she hardly recognizes, to wield her beauty as a weapon, and her charm as a tool to deceive…

Amelia has never had to be anything but good and sweet and kind and lovely. But the chess game for the Twelve Kingdoms has swept her up in it, and she must make a gambit of her own. Can the prettiest princess become a pawn—or a queen?

Read an Excerpt:

            “At a loss, Princess?” An amused voice hissed the question in my ear.
            Startled, I turned. Then stepped back. The White Monk stood close enough that I saw his face clearly, despite the shadows of the cowl. His features were harsh but not misshapen. A strong nose with a high bridge dominated his face, sharp lined like his jaw. The spider legs of scars crawled over one cheek, a cicatrix of long-ago pain. As if he carried on his skin all the ugliness of the hurt inside me.
            Though a jagged bolt of scar tissue cut through one eyebrow, his eye orbits were clear and open, pristine settings for the unearthly burning green of his gaze.
            “What happened to you?” I asked, before I thought.
            He smiled. Not nicely, because his upper lip snagged in the movement, making it into a snarl, like a wild beast curling its snout at an unwelcome odor.
            “What happened to you?” he countered.
            “I…I don’t understand what you mean.”
            “Giving up your poor commoner of a midwife so easily. She’ll suffer because of your disloyalty. She who sought only to help you.”
            I mastered the roiling sickness. “How dare you speak to me so? I know full well the measure of loyalty. Do you?”
            “As a matter of fact, no.” He laughed, a dry, whispering sound. “So I recognize its viciously opposite cousin when I see it.”
            “I’m the High King’s daughter. I’ll protect my midwife. No harm shall come to her.”
            “Are you sure, Princess?”
            “Who are you?” I demanded.
            “You asked that before.”
            “And you didn’t answer.”
            “No? Perhaps you’re not asking the right question.”
            “You cannot naysay me. I’ll report you to High Priest Kir. No—I shall have you dragged before the High King to answer for yourself.”
            He shook his head, clucking his tongue as one might at an errant kitten. “Always running to Daddy. What power of your own do you possess, Princess?”
            The way he said my title sounded like an insult, and I wanted to tell him to stop calling me that. Which was ridiculous, of course.
            “I have enough power to have you beheaded on the spot. Or cast out of Glorianna’s temple and turned out into the countryside with a brand declaring that none shall give you succor. I could ruin you in countless small ways. And you discount my power so glibly.”
            He tilted his head and I knew for certain that it meant he laughed at me. The cynical amusement, floating on the sweet scent of ripe grapes, altered the creases in his coarse face, and his eyes sparkled, glints of sunlight on stream water.
            “The power to destroy is easily come by. Anyone can destroy.”
            “I can create, too.”
            He gestured at my belly. “That? Any female who spreads her legs can do that. It takes no special skill or ability. Nature did it for you.”
            I gasped, my palm oddly itching to slap him, though such a thing would be scandalously beneath my dignity.
            “Are males any different? They cast their seed upon the wind, careless of whether it falls on fertile soil.”
            “Yes, what?”
            He edged closer, turning so he blocked the chanting priests. “Yes, men are different. They’re worse. Women at least must bear the burden of their choices, then are bound to nurture the child, if there’s any humanity in them. Men can walk away and leave their carelessly cast seed to take root or die. They leave behind them a trail of uncared-for life.”
            I didn’t know what to say. Never had I heard someone speak such words.
            “This is why Glorianna and Her sisters are the ones who remained, to care for us. The male gods abandoned their mortal charges without a backward glance,” he added.
            “There are male gods?”
            “Other cultures still worship them. We of the Twelve Kingdoms know better.”
            “Have you heard the tale of Glorianna’s daughter, then?” Why the question plagued me so, I didn’t know.
            “I have. Shall I expect you to give me up to the High Priest also?”
            I smiled up at him, gazing through my lashes. “Not if you’ll tell me what became of her.”
            His gaze flickered over my face, not quite with that gleam of hatred, but without admiration. “You wield your beauty like a blunt-force weapon, did you know that?”
            I blinked at him, fisting my hands in my skirts so I wouldn’t reach up to touch my face, to feel what he saw there that seemed so brutal to him.
            “Even when you don’t mean to, you manipulate anyone who looks at you with the way you widen your eyes and moisten your lips.” He studied me, as if I were a butterfly on a pin. We’d had a tutor with cases of insects on little displays, that we might learn their names. He’d looked like that, interested and without concern for their small lives.
            I wanted to flee. But I didn’t want him to know he frightened me.
            “Why do you talk to me if you dislike me so?” My voice came out in a whisper, and I bit my lower lip, afraid I’d say more. I hadn’t meant to ask that.
            He lifted an eyebrow, the one interrupted by the scar that looked a bit like a lightning bolt. “Shall I compose a poem to your perfect pearly teeth and how they worry at the full rose petal of your lip? Perhaps that would make you more comfortable.”
            “I never asked for poems.”
            “But it’s what you know.”
            “From what I hear of you, all you know is service to Glorianna, White Monk. Though I notice you’re not so silent with me.”
            He barked out a bit of a laugh, unpleasant, like the cawing of a raven. “Don’t believe everything you’re told, Princess.You understand nothing about me.”
            “Then you tell me. You evade every question.”
            Shaking his head, he pulled the cowl into place, once again shadowing his features. “No—you haven’t earned the right to my story. You’d have to do more than flutter your lashes for that.”
            Outrage flooded me. “Surely you’re not suggesting—”
            “Relax, Your Highness. I’m not even remotely interested.”
            Ah, that made sense. “I understand many of Glorianna’s priests are lovers of other men.”
            “You would prefer that explanation, wouldn’t you? No, I value my neck more than that. A dalliance with you would hardly be worth it. Even were I attracted.” Those green eyes flicked over me again, with more than a little disdain.
            Left with my outrage and nothing to do with it, I cast about for a reply. Every man wanted to bed me, and some women, too. I could read it in them, like the warmth from a fire, even the ones who were too polite to show it. I’d navigated my world by these stars, the desire and admiration. Even the troubadours who sang songs they wrote for me and then retired for the night with some brawny soldier—they coveted me for my beauty, too. As if I were an object of art.
            “I believe it’s time for me to go,” I finally said.
            “Fleeing an uncomfortable conversation? Doesn’t speak well of your fortitude.”
            “You know nothing about me!” I flung his words back at him and caught, perhaps, a twitch of a smile. “You taunt me and answer none of my questions. Why in Glorianna’s name would I stay? You bore me.”
            He made a tsking sound. “Ah, Princess. That’s not true. You’re fascinated, if only by the conversation. Else you would have flounced off long ago.”
            “I do not flounce.”
            “On the contrary, you have a most practiced and seductive flounce. I imagine it earns all sorts of attention and concessions.”
            “You watch me quite closely, then, for a person who hates me.”
            “I have my reasons.”
            “And they are?”
            He hadn’t denied hating me, and though I shouldn’t care, it pricked me like the thorns on wild roses, small and slim, dug deeply into the skin. Nobody hated me. I was beautiful.
            I opened my mouth to announce that I was leaving, recalled I’d said that once already, so turned to go.
            “Glorianna’s daughter did survive. With her mortal blood, she eventually died, of course. But she lived a very long and full life. Her name was Talifa.”
            I looked over my shoulder at him. “I never heard of her.”
            He shrugged, his shoulders making sharp points against the robe. “You wouldn’t have. She was erased from the official canon of Glorianna’s teachings. ’Tis heresy to speak of her.”
            “And yet you speak her name in Glorianna’s very temple.”
            “Heresy according to priests. Once again, I notice that Glorianna does not strike me down.”
            “That’s the second time you’ve said such a thing. You must be quite confident.”
            His teeth flashed in the depths of the cowl. Not really a smile. “Or driven to other extremes. You pay close attention to my words, for a person who hates me.”
            “I never said I hated you.”
            “You did, actually—but without realizing it.”
            I rubbed a finger between my brows, smoothing away the frown. “How do you know of this Talifa, then?”
            “Because she is the mother of the White Monks order.”
            “Oh.” I felt a bit deflated. Some part of me felt attached to her, as if she might have a special meaning for me. Likely it was only that the story had tugged at my heart, the way Glorianna had sought out knowledge so She could cherish and raise Her mortal child. When I was little, before I knew better, I sometimes grew angry at my mother for dying. I’d childishly thought that if she’d been more careful, she could have lived and been my mother for real.
            After I grew up, I understood that she hadn’t been able to help dying. Women often died in childbirth. Still, every once in a while, a slice of that remembered anger welled up in me.
            “Talifa lives on in your blood, Princess.” The White Monk said it with what I would have called gentleness from a less callous man.
            That caught me short, the knot of tears in my throat cramping in fierce response.
            “How can that be?”
            “Because she became the Queen of the Tala—the people named for her—as your mother was after her. You are not only Glorianna’s avatar, as all seem to wish you to believe. You are Her descendant.”
            My gaze flew up to the rose window. Glorianna’s descendant? Though I’d been compared to the goddess, even called a goddess from time to time, it had never occurred to me to see myself that way. I carried divine blood, and the thought made me giddy. And overwhelmed.
            “I am no goddess.” I found myself fluttering.
            He laughed, raven voiced, threading his hands inside his sleeves, as if he restrained himself from something. “No, Princess, you are no goddess. Not even close.”
            Insulted rage followed that, and my face heated, the skin of my cheeks stretching with the pressure. Bastard to tease me and lead me on, then expose me as fishing for praise. I didn’t understand myself anymore. I seemed to be tossed on a stormy sea of emotion, riding the wave of one only to crash into the nadir of the next.
            “Did I make you angry?” He murmured the words, taunting. “What will you do now?”
            “What I do or do not do is none of your concern! Why do you follow me about, only to express your disdain? I want to do right by my people, my child, my goddess, and, most of all, by Hugh’s memory!” The pain spiked with his name and the realization that, in all this torturous conversation, I hadn’t thought of him once. My words ended on a near screech, the songbird’s scream of pain to his harsh corvid’s call. The background chanting stumbled, losing its cadence, then sputtered into silence.
            My breath pushed in and out, hoarse and unpretty in the sudden quiet. The knot of grief that lodged at the base of my throat swelled and groaned with urgency, turning into a spinning sphere.
            Now I’ll cry.
            I didn’t even care who witnessed it. Even this horrible priest who seemed to delight in tormenting me. I wanted the tears gone, to release this dreadful lock that kept me confined.
            But no.
            The pressure grew, until I staggered a little with it. Then one of his hands cupped my elbow, decorously over my sleeve, barely touching, but still grounding me. His other hovered near my cheek, as if he might cup it. And I would turn my face into his hand, taking comfort in the caress. His gaze burned into mine, fierce in that craggy face I could see again clearly, he was so close.
            “Have you wept?” He asked the question no one else had, seeing more than anyone else could.
            I shook my head. “I can’t.”
            He nodded, as if that made perfect sense. “Sometimes the grief is too large.”
            He opened his mouth to say something more, his eyes softer than I’d ever seen them, pooling with some kind of compassion. Then he firmed his lips, so the scar whitened, and he stepped away, releasing my elbow and shattering the moment so thoroughly I wondered if we’d shared anything or if I’d imagined it.
            “I shall not keep you longer.” His tone was formal, as was the bow that followed.
            Once again, I turned to leave, swimming through the confusion that darkened my mind, more than half expecting him to call me back again. But he didn’t, so I straightened my spine and moved slowly—not that I had ever flounced in my life—from the cool rose-tinted shadows of the temple, out into the bright, white-stone light of Ordnung. 

Purchase from Amazon:  

The Twelve Kingdoms: The Tears of the Rose

About the Author:

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website:, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Bound By Blood (A Night Shifter Novella) by Margo Bond Collins

About Bound By Blood:

Sometimes the monsters in the dark are real... 

As a child, Lili Banta ignored her grandmother's cryptic warnings to avoid children outside their Filipino community in Houston. When many of those other children fell ill, Lili ignored the whispers in her community that a vampiric aswang walked among them. 

Years later, Lili returns to Houston to work for the Quarantine Station of the Center for Disease Control—but she is plagued by dark, bloody dreams that consume her nights and haunt her days. When a strange illness attacks the city's children, Lili is called in to find its source, and maybe even a cure. 

But in order to save the city, she must first acknowledge the sinister truth: A monster stalks the night—closer than she ever expected....

Book Details:

Bound by Blood

A Night Shift Novella

by Margo Bond Collins

Genre(s): Urban Fantasy, Horror

Release Date: November 10, 2014

Read an Excerpt:

Sitting straight up in bed, I gasped and threw myself back against the headboard, the thud dying away along with the remaining shreds of my dream.
But the word still ricocheted through my mind.
Until yesterday, I hadn't thought of the term in years—not since I'd left Houston for med school in Maine, determined to get as far away from home as I could.
But this resurgence of the same, odd illness that had swept my city years before was apparently also dredging up the old stories from deep in my subconscious: the aswang, a vampiric woman who lived a quiet life by day and fed on children in the night, flying back home on bat-wings just before dawn.
My unconscious mind had clearly also expanded on the idea, casting me in the role of aswang and adding schizoid conversations with a chorus of internal voices.
Great. I'm insane in my dreams.
And I'm a monster.
Shuddering, I wiped my hand across my gritty, raw eyelids.
Read My Review:
You can read my review of Sanguinary at the following link:

Dr. Lila Batha is a consultant for the CDC. When she is contacted by a long-time friend, Dr. Will Manning, about a mysterious illness plaguing a 7 year boy, she hopes it's routine. Then her dreams start and she knows that whatever is going on with the child isn't random; especially when child number 2, a girl, is brought in - and Lila's seen her before in a dream.

This disease isn't new to Lila, Some twenty years prior, when she herself was just a child, this same unknown disease swept through Houston. Oddly enough, it didn't affect the children of Filipino descent. The recurrence of the outbreak dredges up memories and stories, particularly the story of - aswang - a female vampire that stalks children at night.

Enter Detective Harry Iverson of the Paranormal Victims Unit from Dallas.  He is in Houston consulting with their PVU on a case when he discovers the mysterious outbreak.  He's seen a similar outbreak before - in Dallas, a few months earlier.  The events in Dallas were written about in Sanguinary, Book 1 of the Night Shifter series, and were thought to be handles.  It appears that the situation just moved from Dallas to Houston.

It's now up to Lila, Harry, and Will to figure out what's going on if they want to save the world from the horrors that are about to be unleashed.

Excellent novella set in the Night Shifter world.  I would highly suggest reading Sanguinary before starting Bound by Blood, but it's not completely necessary.  Just a note though ~ I did find myself having to reread the last couple of chapters in my copy of Sanguinary.  I couldn't, for the life of my remember how the events that happen at the end of Bound By Blood came to be.

The beginning discussion between Lila and Will concerning the value of oatmeal in a post-apocalyptic world is pretty entertaining.  This sort of random discussion is what draws the reader in and keeps them engaged.  Even though the novella is in the horror genre, that doesn't mean there can't be a little bit of playful banter.  The build up of the novella was done in such a way that you can't help but devour the 57 pages.  The beginning of Bound By Blood is just as important as the end and the devil is in the details so make sure you pay attention.  The short length of the novella doesn't detract from the quality or the quantity involved in the story.  It packs a punch and leaves the reader wanting more, but not in an unsatisfied way.  It's more of a "we want the next book/novella in the series."

Review copy courtesy of the author, at no cost, in exchange for an honest review.

My Rating:

About the Author:

Margo Bond Collins is the author of urban fantasy, contemporary romance, and paranormal mysteries. She has published a number of novels, including Sanguinary, Taming the Country Star, Legally Undead, Waking Up Dead, and Fairy, Texas. She lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, and several spoiled pets. Although writing fiction is her first love, she also teaches college-level English courses online. She enjoys reading romance and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, monsters, cowboys, and villains, and the strong women who love them—and sometimes fight them. 

Connect with Margo Online:

Twitter: @MargoBondCollin

Goodreads Author Page:

Press Release: Now Available ~ The Charm, a novella, by Jojo Debrazza

Press Release:

Title: The Charm

Author Name:  Jojo Debrazza

Genre(s): Young Adult, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy

Keywords: Young Adult, control minds, mind power, internet hackers


Release Date: 12/26/2014

Purchase Links:

Musa Publishing (currently 20% off list price) ~ 

Amazon (regular price) ~
About The Charm:

Fifteen year old Luca has the charm, a gift he inherited from his mum. Charmers can control minds, but they abide by a code—to only use the power for good, and only with the person’s permission. Luca knows breaking the code is wrong, and his mum would kill him if he tried!
But when a rogue charmer uses the power for criminal means, the Restorative government jumps in. Luca’s mum is imprisoned and the Register for Charmers is announced. The media creates a frenzy of fear and suspicion against charmers.
Believing the family is in peril, and wishing to keep Luca’s gift a secret, Luca’s dad takes them to stay with a friend in the country. Here, Luca meets Fee, a computer genius who can hack into anything. Fee introduces Luca to an underground rebellion group of internet hackers who have their own issues with the Restoratives and their own way of protesting.
Fearful of how the Restoratives are treating his mum in prison and concerned about their motives for creating the Register of Charmers, Luca must make an impossible choice—break the rules and use his gift or stand by and watch as the power is abused. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Issues with my Bloglovin account - please read.

Hi Everyone.  If you follow me on Bloglovin I just discovered that it hasn't been pulling new posts since - well - a long time ago.  I updated my RSS feed in Feedburner some time ago and forgot to update Bloglovin.  So, if you are so inclined, please click the link below and follow me again.

I'm sorry :(

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Looking for Tour Hosts for #Paranormal Novel ~ Between by Clarissa Johal

Second Place Preditors and Editors Readers Poll in 2012, Clarissa Johal’s novel BETWEEN is a “haunting” paranormal novel that will have you on the edge of your seat!

Title:  Between

Author:  Clarissa Johal

Genres:  Fantasy, Ghosts/Hauntings, Gothic, Paranormal, Romance, Speculative Fiction, Women's

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.

Tour Details:

Your post for this tour does not have to be top or only post but it must be live on your social media outlet(s) of choice by 10:00am EST.

I'm scheduling for the entire month of February 2015, including weekends.

If you sign up, please remember that you will be expected to post on your date.

Please contact me with any questions at

Sign Up by clicking the following link and filling out the Google form:

True Crime Novel Based On A True Story ~ Who Killed the Candy Lady?: Unwrapping the Unsolved Murder of Helen Brach by James Ylisela

Who Killed the Candy Lady?

Unwrapping the Unsolved Murder of Helen Brach

by James Ylisela

The 1977 unsolved disappearance of candy heiress Helen Brach is a whodunit for the ages. Veteran Chicago political reporter James Ylisela unwraps a true crime story that exposes Chicago’s seedy underbelly. 

Packed with chilling revelations, witty analysis, and mystery that keeps readers (and detectives) guessing, Who Killed the Candy Lady? is a gripping read.

About Who Killed the Candy Lady?:

At 9 AM on Thursday, February 17, 1977, Helen Brach, heiress to the E.J. Brach and Sons candy fortune, walked out of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and vanished without a trace. On the way to the airport, she stopped at a boutique and spent $41 on cosmetics. From that moment, the details of Helen Brach’s life—and presumed death—moved from fact to speculation, and have been shrouded in mystery ever since.

To this day, the case is an open murder investigation at the Glenview Police Department. Who Killed the Candy Lady?: Unwrapping the Unsolved Murder of Candy Heiress Helen Brach is the true story of Helen Brach's mysterious disappearance and unsolved murder, as told by veteran Chicago journalist Jim Ylisela. This ebook reveals the sordid facts behind the case, as well as the government’s narrow-minded obsession with imprisoning a man for a crime it could never prove he committed. Drawing from never-seen documents, interviews, and the inside perspectives of prosecutors, horse thieves, and candy heiresses alike, Who Killed the Candy Lady is a true-to-life whodunit.

James Ylisela is a longtime Chicago journalist and teacher, contributing articles to the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago magazine for more than 20 years. Ylisela taught at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for 13 years. He currently serves as president of Ragan Consulting, helping businesses, nonprofits, and government organizations communicate more effectively.

Agate Digital is the newest venture from Agate Publishing, which partners with other forward-looking media creators to publish affordable ebooks on a wide range of topics.

Book Details:

Title: Who Killed the Cady Lady?
Author: James Ylisela

Publisher: Agate Digital

ISBN: 978-1-57284-474-2

Release Date: September 3, 2014

Genre: True Crime

Amazon Purchase Link:

Who Killed the Candy Lady?: Unwrapping the Unsolved Murder of Helen Brach

James Ylisela has also taken the time to answer some questions.  Read below:

What initially drew you to the disappearance of Helen Brach?

I got a call from a book agent, who asked me if I knew anything about horses. I said no. She then asked if I was interested in pursuing a murder mystery involving horses. Of course I said yes. Once I got into the story, I couldn’t turn away. Every time I got too busy to work on it, the story called me back.

Why did this case balloon from mysterious disappearance to national scandal?

People love unsolved mysteries, and this one has it all: the wealthy heiress who vanished without a trace; her middle-aged Lothario of a boyfriend, who may have been conning her in horse deals; the local horse mafia, run by one ruthless family with ties to the Chicago mob; and a brooding houseman, who lied about his employer’s whereabouts but took whatever he knew to his grave. No body, no murder weapon, no forensic evidence of any kind—and a lot of questionable characters as likely suspects. What’s not to love?

You draw from comprehensive and often surprising sources to cover every angle of this tale. What were the hardest and most thrilling parts of the research process for you?

Reporting this book was one big adventure, with lots of crazy leads and more than a few blind alleys. One promising lead took me to an Indiana swamp and a local resident who claimed to know where Helen Brach was buried. He didn’t, but it was fun looking. The hardest part was getting case files—especially the original police file—out of the authorities. It seemed no one wanted me poking around this case, including the police and prosecutors. I got thrown out of a courtroom while trying to lift the seal on one legal file, and I had to go through the Illinois Attorney General’s office to get the original police files.

As you pieced together this bizarre, expanding puzzle, did you discover any developments that flat-out shocked you?

I was truly amazed that the feds put a horse into the witness protection program as a way of charging someone with fraud, in hopes of forcing them to give up what they knew about Brach’s disappearance. (It didn’t work.) I was fortunate to meet the horse years later, after he returned to Chicago. I’ve covered federal cases before, but I was truly shocked by how the feds put away Richard Bailey (Brach’s one-time boyfriend) for 30 years without ever actually proving that he was involved in her murder—and never convicting him, even of conspiracy, in a federal trial.

In a story full of unsavory characters, you give equal attention to racketeers, murder suspects, prosecutors, and Chicago’s elite. Who, overall, was your favorite subject to study in Who Killed the Candy Lady?

My favorite subject was Ross Hugi, horse doctor to the famous and infamous. Ross knew everything about the horse business and everyone in it. He had committed his own sins over the years, but I found him to be an honest and reliable source—and great company. In a way, helping me investigate this crime was a kind of penance for Ross. He wanted to see justice served, and he was convinced, as I am, that the authorities hadn’t gotten it done. Despite spending five years wearing a wire for the U.S. Attorney, the feds still sent Ross to prison for six months, and he had to work hard to pay his fines and win back his license to practice veterinary medicine. But in all the time I spent with him, he never expressed any bitterness. He was curious and helpful, and his sense of humor never flagged.

We must know your opinion: Who killed Helen Brach?

I know one thing for sure: Jack Matlick, Brach’s houseman, is the common denominator in the two theories about her murder that hold any water. I always suspected him, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on some of the earliest police files that I was able to put together all the lies he told. In a way, it was Brach herself who pointed a finger at Matlick. While at the Mayo Clinic, she wrote a note to a friend in Florida, lamenting that she wouldn’t be coming down there anytime soon. It was the one piece of evidence Matlick couldn’t have known about, and it exposed the lies he told police about putting Brach on a plane to Florida. Whether acting alone or with the help of some of the other
notorious characters in this story, I am convinced that Matlick was involved in Helen Brach’s demise.