5.10.2017

Spotlight & Giveaway: Sonora and the Eye of the Titans by T.S. Hall


Sonora and the Eye of the Titans
T.S. Hall
Publication date: January 14th 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
The King is dead, and the capital city of Titanis has fallen. The world of Sonora is at war, and the only hope against the onslaught of the Titan army lies with the last royal descendant of Zeus, who is being covertly sheltered on Earth in the secluded mountain town of Sandy, Oregon.
Allora is a shy, intelligent sixteen-year-old, trying to get through the gauntlet of high school while coming to terms with her otherworldly origins. After getting into a fight at soccer tryouts, Allora’s emotions boil over, and her hands suddenly burst into flames. She has harnessed the power of hadrons at the highest level, but at extreme cost. The magical outburst projects an energy signature that is detected by a group of assassins tasked with killing Sonoran rebels.
To survive, Allora, Katie, Dax, and Tanner must find a powerful ancient artifact known as the Eye of the Titans. With the help of a guardian known as Sasquatch, they will have to fight off creatures, solve complex riddles, and navigate magical caverns, all while enduring advanced calculus, jealous girlfriends, and prom.
Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Allora picked up one of the bottles and read the label out loud, “Balumar Family: Signature Slug Sauce.” She wrinkled up her nose, shrugged, put the bottle down, and picked up another, a very small glass bottle with tiny writing that couldn’t be read with the naked eye.
Seeing Allora uncork the container, Mrs. Ferris yelled, “Stop!”
Allora froze, unsure why her teacher had snapped. “Uh… sorry. I was just—”
Mrs. Ferris carefully took hold of Allora’s wrist and, like a puppeteer, directed her hand to place the cork carefully back into the top of the walnut-sized glass bottle. A hard sigh followed.
“That is Tiranis extract,” Mrs. Ferris said. “It is made from the Tiranis plant and is the stickiest substance on Sonora. One drop can deform the skin and you could possibly lose a finger or hand. If you are going to handle it, you must do so with extreme caution and only with gloves.”
Allora slowly lowered the bottle to the linoleum countertop and inched away as if it were a ticking bomb.
Mrs. Ferris neatly arranged the necessary items on the rest of the stations, then made her way to the blackboard. After she carefully wrote the instructions on the board, she said, “Please begin.”
Allora started by boiling two cups of slug sauce, then slowly poured in a half-cup of liquid spider web, followed by two teaspoons of crushed lilac powder and a tablespoon of dragon blood. She let the mixture cook for ten minutes, until a shallow film formed on the top.
“Um… Mrs. Ferris?” Dax said as the liquid boiled over the rim of his pot. “I think there’s something wrong with my recipe,” he confessed as an extremely large greenish-yellow bubble grew from the pot.
“Oh no! Don’t touch it!” Mrs. Ferris said, sprinting to the back shelf and extracting a potion from the inner wall.
The bubble grew larger, engulfing the lab station. In mere moments, it ballooned so big that it hit the ceiling.
Mrs. Ferris pulled out a smoky liquid from the potion bottle, like a rabbit from a hat, and magically pushed the contents toward the monstrous bubble. It exploded, covering everyone with a slimy film of greenish goo. “How much lilac powder did you put in there?” she asked.
“Two tablespoons,” Dax replied, wiping the slimy goo from his face.
Mrs. Ferris shook her head and grabbed several towels from a drawer.
“Teaspoons, you moron!” Katie yelled, aggressively swiping the slime from her shirt and pants.
Dax apologized profusely, all while trying to stifle a laugh at his sister, who had slime dripping from her bangs.
Mrs. Ferris threw each of them a towel. “It’s all right. You’re not the first to make that mistake. When the lilac powder mixes with dragon blood, it causes a reaction with the slug sauce.”

Katie bent down with arms outstretched and a look of disgust. “Ew! You mean I’m covered in slug boogers?"


Author Bio:
I’m a writer, skier, and wanderer. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, but currently live in the beautiful mountain resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho. I love history, mythology, and the fantastical interpretations that have been incorporated in my debut young adult urban fantasy series called Sonora.

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5.02.2017

Review and Giveaway: Memortality by Stephen H. Provost


Memortality
Stephen H. Provost
Publication date: February 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal
Rating: 
Minerva Rus can raise the dead. And it might get her killed.
Minerva’s life has never been the same since the childhood car accident that paralyzed her and killed her best friend, Raven. But when the long-dead Raven reappears in her life, now as a very attractive grown man, she discovers that her photographic memory has the power to bring the dead back to life … heal her paralysis … and shape reality itself.
Pursued by a rogue government agent who wants to eliminate her and her talents, Minerva must learn to control her powers to save herself and Raven. Because if she dies, he dies as well―again.

Stephen H. Provost is an author of paranormal adventures and historical non-fiction. "Memortality," his debut title on Linden Publishing's new fiction imprint, Pace Press, is due out in February 2017 and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
An editor and columnist with more than 30 years of experience as a journalist, he has written on subjects as diverse as history, religion, politics and language and has served as an editor for fiction and non-fiction projects. His book "Fresno Growing Up," a history of Fresno, California, during the postwar years, is available on Craven Street Books, and his next non-fiction work, scheduled for release in June of 2017, will examine the history of U.S. Highway 99 in California.
In addition, the author has published several books as Stifyn Emrys, beginning in 2012 with "The Gospel of the Phoenix" and also including the nonfiction works "The Way of the Phoenix" and "Undefeated." He also has published three works of fiction: "Feathercap" (children's); "Identity Break," (young adult science fiction/adventure) and an accompanying novella, "Artifice."
The author served as editor of four young adult novels: the "Mad World" series by Samaire Provost - "EPIDEMIC," "SANCTUARY" and "DESPERATION" - and the award-winning "Lorehnin: A Novel of the Otherworld," Volume 6 in the Otherworld series by Jenna Elizabeth Johnson. He has worked in journalism as a news editor, sports editor and reporter for four daily newspapers in California, and is currently managing editor for an award-winning weekly, The Cambrian. He has worked as an educator and has been featured at occasional speaking engagements.
He lives on the California coast with his wife, stepson, cats (Tyrion Fluffybutt and Allie Twinkletail) and dogs.
Memortality is about a girl, Minerva, who discovers she possesses a very special power: the ability to bring people back from the dead. When she was younger, she was in a car accident with her best friend, Raven. The accident left Minerva paralyzed and claimed Raven’s life. However, when Minerva is left with no escape from her abusive mother, she finds herself remembering Raven. Suddenly, Raven begins materialising mysteriously back into her life.

Once Minerva discovers her powers, she is discovered by a secret government agent who begins tracking her down. It seems he wants to stifle her abilities, even if it means casualty. As we diver further into the story, we discover the agent has a deeper tie to Minerva than what was originally thought.

Provost’s Memortality was a very easy read. The chapters are short, so it’s easy to breeze through and find a stopping point when needed without having to leave a chapter unfinished. The preface is beautifully written, but I felt like we lost some of that eloquence once the story began moving. It’s kind of like we changed voice, and I found myself wishing we hadn’t. But it was still a light and easy read, and moved very quickly. The characters were believable and developed. I didn’t dislike the book, but it was almost too simple for my liking. However, it would be a great Summer read!


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5.01.2017

Guest Post & Giveaway: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem


The Waterfall Traveler
S.J. Lem
Publication date: April 19th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.
In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.


Author Bio:
S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.
She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.
How has digital art aided you in writing?

Like many new writers, I still have a day job. I'm currently the Manager of Digital Creative Direction for a large company, which requires me to have a strong understanding of our communication goals, creatively solve problems, and listen to feedback in regards to improving the experience or visuals of an app, website, electronic signage, etc.

Having these skills has greatly aided me in writing. For example, when I have writer's block, I often do the same exercises as I would when I encounter a design problem. I may brainstorm and jot down all ideas without immediately judging whether they are "good" or "bad." I may post some rough ideas online to gain feedback from others. Or I may just simply go for a walk so my mind has a chance to wander—usually that's when my best ideas come to me.

I also try to follow a process now (just as I would a design project), after years of letting the characters lead the way. I never outlined when I first started writing (and this works great for some) but I found that I ran into plot holes and inconsistencies. Now I outline! It keeps my story and me on track.

I also approached writing as a "team effort" much like I would a digital project. I joined a writing group, and it was the best decision I ever made. I received such valuable feedback from my critique partners—everything from character and plot development, improving dialogue, and increasing tension. And above all, they gave me the encouragement to finish. I honestly don't think I would have completed The Waterfall Traveler without their help.

What do you hope writers will take away from The Waterfall Traveler?

I wrote the type of story that I adore to read (fast-paced adventures with strong main characters who take action). I hope that readers with similar tastes will enjoy The Waterfall Traveler as much as I enjoyed writing it.

How have you overcome roadblocks in publishing?

I think the important thing is to keep moving forward when you encounter a challenge, and also be open minded to other solutions if something isn't working. Today there are many new opportunities for writers that didn't exist fifteen years ago. We have an opportunity to connect with other authors and readers via social media, self-publishing is no longer seen as a poor publishing option, and there are more tools available to us to make our writing projects run more smoothly. I think having that sort of mindset has really aided me in this writing journey.

Thank you so much for featuring me on your wonderful blog!

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4.22.2017

#MarchforScience on #EarthDay!


It's a stormy day in Nashville, but people all over the world are fully equipped to stand up for science today! Some of my scientist buddies have gone all the way to D.C. to fight for the cause (jealous). I was ready to march in Nashville today, but as many of you know, I've been fighting some health issues the last couple months and am gearing up for a 48 hour heart monitor here in the next few days (thank the heavens for scientists, amiright?). So I put on my shirt I saved for this occasion, and watched the live videos from all over while I cheered on my fellow science supporters.

Oh, and I started watching "Bill Nye Saves the World," which I highly encourage (the Bill Nye theme song revamped made my inner childhood geek squeal with joy!). Now that the giraffe cam is officially down, I guess I have to find other things to watch besides a pregnant giraffe pacing around her pen. I'm going through withdrawals! I miss Baby G already!

Anyway! I'm so proud of the turnout today. From what I've heard so far, everything has been peaceful and passionate. This is how things get done, and it doesn't have to consist of name-calling and belittlement. It doesn't have to include riots and vandalism. It isn't about forcing people to listen, but hoping we allow ourselves to be educated.

If you've ever had to take medication, gone camping, used a computer or cell phone (not sure how else you'd be reading this), looked at the stars, gotten surgery, been in a library, lived on planet Earth, or you're a living, breathing human being...then you experience the very essence of science daily. Why are librarians up in arms? For starters, the degree for a librarian is Library Science, and for good reason. We strive to be pillars for STEM education. We are the main providers of free computer science classes and usage. We teach children coding, how to take care of the planet, and how to track down obscure citations. Information is a science, and it's our job to bring you facts, because there is a difference between a Google search and research.

I'm also incredibly impressed with those who spoke at various marches today! Young aspiring astronauts, wildlife defenders, Dan Abrams, Bill Nye, National Farmers Union, Cool Effect, Nation of Makers, and many more! I was also happy to see one of my favorite authors who has brought a fresh series of STEM books to the children's narrative, Andrea Beaty! If you've read Rosie Revere, Engineer or Ada Twist, Scientist, then you've read Andrea Beaty. She is all about harvesting curiosity!

 
So why was this march necessary? If you've been paying attention (like, at all), President Trump has been very transparent about rolling back actions to fight climate change and other very important environmental provisions. To name a few, the Clean Power Plan, Clean Water Act, and Environmental Protection Agency. Coming from the land of the Great Lakes, I've already watched the downfall of politicians choosing not to keep our water clean. Yes, right here in America. And as I've made very clear through various forms of social media, he has also proposed to cut major funding for libraries, museums, and free public broadcasting that allows equal opportunity for education.

Now that the march is over, how do we keep moving forward? 

First, join the conversation and Week of Action.

Second, participate in an open letter to the Trump administration to defend the role of science in politics.

Third, get in touch with your legislators and let your voice be heard.

Fourth, get a free Science Teach-In Toolkit to educate about the importance of science in your community. There are also several other ideas for getting involved on this page as well.

Fifth, get out and volunteer! Parks, museums, nature centers, libraries...all these places need help in preserving science and spreading knowledge. You can do your part by applying yourself to the cause and sharing the experience with others.

Just because we aren't in office, doesn't mean we can't make change. Honestly, I'd rather look back on my life and know I at least tried instead of sitting around doing absolutely nothing but holding an opinion. 

Before we go, I have to share some of my favorite signs and images from the marches today:

             

And for the honorable mentions:

Bill Nye Saves the World Trailer:

4.10.2017

Guest Post & GIVEAWAY: Spellbound by Ash Krafton




Spellbound: A Limited Edition Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Collection
Bleeding Hearts
Ash Krafton

Genre: fantasy/ paranormal romance/ urban fantasy
Publisher: genreCRAVE
Date of Publication: May 2, 2017
ASIN: B01N18NFS9
Number of pages: 5000+
Word Count: 1.5 Million +
Cover Artist: Rebecca Frank

Box Set Description:
The Spellbound Boxed Set is a compilation of 20+ Full-Length Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance reads!

Readers of all ages will be swept away by this fascinating mix of existing titles and brand new content, full of pages brimming with faeries, witches, vampires, shifters, psychics, Greek gods, angels, demons, and even ghosts!

With over a million words of fiction, this is your one stop shop for urban fantasy, epic fantasy, sword and sorcery, shifter romance, vampire romance, elemental magic, time travel, and MORE from today’s New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling authors!

Although some of these reads may be gritty and dark, this is a collection of clean reads that anyone will enjoy!
Pre-Order Sale Only .99

Amazon      Kobo      BN      Apple


The collection includes titles from…

International bestselling author Jade Kerrion
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Joanne Wadsworth
International bestselling author Nicole Zoltack
International bestselling author Rachel E. Carter
International bestselling author Andrea Pearson
International bestselling author Alicia Rades
International bestselling author Sophie Davis
USA TODAY bestselling author Michael J Ploof
International bestselling author Megan Crewe
International bestselling author C.E. Wilson
International bestselling author Kelly Carrero
International bestselling author Jess Haines
International bestselling author E. Blix
International bestselling author Alexis Kade
International bestselling author GP Ching
International bestselling author Gaja J. Kos and Boris Kos
International bestselling author Dara Fraser
International bestselling author Ash Krafton
International bestselling author Jim Johnson
NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Tom Shutt
International bestselling author Emily Martha Sorensen
International bestselling author S McPherson

 The first chapters of books by each featured author are available in the Spellbound Sampler, available on Wattpad

Book Description Bleeding Hearts by Ash Krafton

Sophie Galen is an advice columnist whose work leaves her neck-deep in other people's problems. Thanks to her compassion, her gut instinct, and her magnetic charm, Sophie really knows how to attract little black clouds.

Marek Thurzo is no little black cloud; he's a maelstrom. Marek is Demivampire, a race with the potential to evolve into vampire. A warrior who's taken his share of spiritual damage, he hovers dangerously close to destruction.

He seeks salvation. She's driven to save him. But what if he can't be saved?

Sympathy for his plight becomes true empathy as Sophie's hidden nature is revealed. Marek suspects she may be one of the Sophia, oracle and redemption of the damned Demivampire. She alone can turn back the evolutionary clock.

All she needs is the courage to face her fears. Can she save him from Falling?

The following is an excerpt from BLEEDING HEARTS Demimonde Book 1 by Ash Krafton

In the great hall housing the Egyptian exhibitions, I immediately noted the change in the atmosphere. The room was cool and dry, its climate controlled to mimic the conditions in which the relics had existed in their native land.
The entire room had been designed to resemble an Old Kingdom temple. The main lights were dimmed while strategically-placed spotlights emphasized massive columns and magnificent wall carvings like sunbeams through temple windows.
I scanned the room. No other tourists. Even better. I meandered, enjoying the rare opportunity to linger.
Craning my neck, I ran my gaze up each of the columns, reading the images, admiring the palm leaves carved at the tops like great stone trees. Eyes toward the ceilings, I turned slowly around, admiring the handiwork of the ancient artists.
What was it like to live in those lands and those times? Could an ancient version of my spirit have been there, stepping barefoot and silently through a sandy temple like this one?
Lost in contemplation, I was completely unprepared for the shock of smacking into someone, bumping him hard enough to lose my balance. I'd have fallen had he not caught my arm. Wide-eyed with consternation, I stammered an apology to the handsome but serious-faced gentleman.
"You are not hurt, I hope?" His voice, deep and smooth, sent shivers marching down my neck, between my shoulders, down my spine.
"I'm okay." I shook my head, too shy to make direct eye contact, wishing I'd checked my hair and lipstick before coming in. "I'm far too adept at being inept."
He flashed a grin and I caught a glimpse of nice white teeth. "Temples are places for spiritual reflection. It is forgivable if your vision was turned inward, rather than toward where you were walking."
His expression softened by amusement, he tilted his head toward the pillars. "Majestic, aren't they?"
I stole another glance at him—black hair smoothed back into a discreet tail, clear light skin framed by long sideburns, strong jaw culminating in a square, cleft chin. Like the other items in the museum, something about him made me want to look closer, inspect each detail.
A subtle flush warmed my cheeks and ears so I quickly turned back to the heights of the exhibition. Murmuring a sound of agreement, I circled the column, stepping a few feet away so I could see both him and the stone. "Do you visit this museum often?"
Furtive glances allowed me to take in more of his appearance a tiny section at a time. Clothing dark as his hair. Long blazer, something in between a suit coat and an overcoat. In one hand he carried a bound book and fountain pen, as if he'd been making notes.
His gaze was calm and steady and entirely on me. Taking a deep breath I permitted the contact of the direct look. My boldness was well-rewarded. His Paul Newman lips brought to mind the sculptured busts on display in the Greco-Roman Quarters and he wore a stern expression that cast a veil of hardness upon his features, enhancing the impression he'd been carved from marble.
Except for his eyes. The Roman busts bore eyes that were blank and white but this man's eyes were alive with bright green color. Like gemstones, they glittered and drew my gaze.
"No, actually," he said. "My first time here. Although, I admit, I'm drawn to places like this." His voice made music of the words—deep bass notes and soothing rhythm.
"Ah!" I said. "A man after my own heart." His left eyebrow arched so sharply I thought it might disappear into his hairline and I hurriedly continued. "Are you a professor?"
"No, nothing like that. I do studying of my own, it's not a living. It's more of a hobby. Personal research, of sorts."
"Studying past times is one of my pastimes. It's my preferred form of entertainment."
"Mmm." Eyebrow cocked again, he cast a disapproving look at me and swept his hand around the contrived temple. "Would the gods be pleased to know they are reduced to the level of entertainment?"
"I hope so." I kept my tone light. Considering the seriousness of his expression, I didn't want to accidentally insult him. "Otherwise, they'd have to be content with staying dead, right?"
His gaze swept over me and I shivered again as if the touch had been tangible, a brush of fingertips against my cheek.
"Well, I'll leave you to your worship. I mean, your wanderings." He gave me a conspirator's wink. "Unless..."
He hesitated, with a quiet clearing of throat as he tucked his notebook and pen into an inside pocket. "You wouldn't mind a companion? Sometimes one sees things differently when seeing through another's eyes. I would appreciate a new perspective."
I mulled it over, listening to the rain spattering the windows and distant voices echoing faintly from other rooms. Although I'd looked forward to a quiet afternoon, it might be nice to spend it with someone who seemed to share my interests. He certainly was attractive, and his pleasant voice intrigued me.
I realized I'd become used to living inside a shell. This man made me want to step outside for once.
"I'd like that." I smiled at his pleased expression. "I'm Sophie, by the way." I stuck out my hand in introduction.
Instead of shaking my hand, he bent his head over it and pressed polite lips to the backs of my fingers. The quaint gesture would have seemed strange and out of place had we been elsewhere. "I am Marek. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
Fingers tingling from the unexpected kiss, I fought the urge to curtsy. "Well, Marek. Lead me into the past."
His almost-smile sent a thrill down the back of my neck. "That's exactly the sort of thing I'd hoped you say. Shall we?"
He turned on his heel and swept out a hand with a slight bow, indicating the archway to another exhibit. For the first time since I'd been coming to this museum, I wondered what I'd see on the other side, and was surprised to realize I wasn't afraid to find out.


A speculative fiction girl through and through, Ash writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels as well as poetry and short fiction. She also writes for New Adult audiences under the name AJ Krafton. Her work has won a bunch of awards and was even nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When she's not writing, she's practicing Tai Chi, listening to loud rock and metal, or crushing on supervillains.

Most recently, she's re-released her urban fantasy trilogy THE BOOKS OF THE DEMIMONDE because she never really left the world of Sophie and her Demivamps. She's also working on the next installment of her Demon Whisperer series.

You Never Forget Your First
…vampire sweetheart, that is.
What is it about these creatures that haunt us, possess us, and draw us away from the well-lit safe places of our everyday lives?
Is it…eternal love?
The promise of an eternity of dwelling in another's eyes, of being loved to the point of consumption. To quench the desire of someone who would starve without us. To become their life, their reason to exist.
Yeah. That's probably it.
Or…is it the danger, the rush of treading that silver blade between life and death, pleasure and pain?
But then again, with vampires, there is no "line between". Life and death, pleasure and pain, light and dark, good and bad.  They are everything, all at once.
Heroes with unimaginable power, undone by a brush of sunlight. Strength and weakness, entwined.
No wonder vamps ensnare us: we do like our men complex, after all.
I have to go back a long time to remember my first vampire crush. I cut my teeth on Anne Rice when I was in college. My boyfriend had an English assignment on Interview with a Vampire and wanted me to read it so I could help him with the paper. (Come to think of it, I read a LOT of extra novels in college for the same purpose.) I balked at first. Vampires weren't my thing.
Then, he turned big baby brown eyes on me and fluttered those long lashes. Seriously. He had eyes like the puppies on those rip-your-heart-out animal fundraiser posters.
So, I heaved a sigh and read it. I WAS BLOWN AWAY.
Louis had such depth, such tragic humanity. And Lestat? What an ass. I hated him. He was cocky, he was mean, he was so in love with himself that he eclipsed the sun. That jerk had little regard for anyone else, no matter how much I wish he would.
I didn't realize he was setting himself up to be a Bad Boy. Uh oh. My first human crush was a Bad Boy. Unrequited love all the way for six solid years. I listened to more miserable music over him than I did for the boys I actually dated. That crush was my secret agony.
Lestat didn't disappoint. And, unrequited? Heck, yeah. I still ache a little inside when I think of him (or when I see old Reutger Hauer movies.) I'd never invested myself in a character the way I did Lestat. I hadn't known it was possible.
It was tough but eventually I moved on and found other vampire crushes. Jean Claude: I never wanted him more than the way I did in the very first Anita Blake installment. That hint of a suggestion of a tease was a complete PHEROMONE. Eric Northman: I have not the words. (The suggestions, I got a million of them, but when I open my mouth, nothing comes out.)
There's Eric’c chum Bill Compton but he's off limits. That's Sookie's first vampire love. I understand the sacredness of that bond. Sookie needs to keep that all to herself, to keep it in her heart-shaped box and cherish it always.
Eric, on the other hand, is free game. =)
Not all vampires aren't loveable. I know there are some really bad ones out there and some of them are downright Nosferatu. Some of them—like Still-Heart in my debut release BLEEDING HEARTS—are beautiful creatures but don't be fooled: inside, he's a demon. He may act like a Bad Boy but deep down, he's just bad.
In fact, all the vamps in my Demimonde series are bad, bad, bad. But the Demivampire? Another story altogether. *wicked grin* Especially Rodrian…and there is a LOT of him in BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). Readers got a taste of him in BLEEDING HEARTS and they wanted more. Who am I if not an enabler?
So…I’m not going to tell you that, when it comes to your first vampire crush, you just need to get over him or move on or any other silly piece of nonsense. Oh, no. I’m going to tell you to cherish him, hold on to the feels you felt when you met him, and never, ever let go.
You never forget your first…

…and, though you only get one “first”, he doesn’t need to be your last.
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4.01.2017

Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: The White Raven by Carrie D. Miller




The White Raven
Carrie D. Miller
Publication date: April 1st 2017
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Finally, after nearly a thousand years, Aven Dovenelle is truly happy. In her thirteenth life, she’s settled into the now witchcraft-friendly Salem, Massachusetts, where she has opened her own shop and made great friends—there’s even a possibility of love blooming.
Despite her contentment in this new life, the truth of Aven’s existence haunts her. She is cursed to live life after life, with all the memories of her horrific past. For all her powers, she’s never discovered why she was cursed nor how to break it. Hope may come in the form of a mysterious white raven, who has followed Aven through each of her lives. Although they have a connection that neither understands, it may prove to be her salvation.
An evil force from Aven’s past isn’t finished with her. Driven by vengeance and hate, he emerges to torment her anew and threatens all she’s built. He strikes without warning—her loved ones are caught in the wake of his attack and may not survive the encounter.
The cost of her happiness and freedom could be too high as Aven uncovers the truth about her curse and that dark magick lingers.

PROLOGUE
 
Calico, California 1886
They are close. I sense their hatred. Though I am prepared, I must force myself to be calm. I do not fear what comes although I know I will be dead soon. Running from this place now is not something I wish to do, nor do I care to fight anymore. I’m ready to seek out a new land, a new time, and to continue on to the next life I am cursed to begin.
My Pyrenees is at attention by my side, ears pricked and hackles raised. “It is time to go, my girl.” She whines and lowers her head, her big brown eyes pools of concern. “You go ahead,” I say with a smile. “I’ll be along soon.”
I hear the gallop of fast-moving horses and the shouts of agitated men as they approach my home. The sound of heavy boots bounding onto the porch makes my skin prickle. Torchlight fills the windows and I steel myself. The front door splinters when one of those heavy boots comes through it.
“I knew there was somethin’ not right about you.” The man in the lead is Morris Stiles, the town’s bully. I’m sure he took quick ownership of the lynching party so he could exercise his insatiable need to inflict pain and suffering without the threat of retribution. Not to mention the chance to snare himself a witch.
His face seethes with hostility. The men who crowd into the room behind him wear the same expression. The grin forming on his face as he looks me over is filled with decaying stubs that once passed for teeth. Many months ago, I offered to ease his pain, but was met with the back of his hand followed by a brown, revolting gob of spit aimed at my face.
Life in Calico has been filled with hardships. Each time I felt a modicum of acceptance, someone like Morris Stiles would speak against me. My goats and chickens were taken one by one, and the sheriff was not the least bit sympathetic or helpful in retrieving them. I am not one to back down so I held on, hoping for the relief of simply being ignored.
Now, yet another angry mob is at my doorstep. I know my lover has not had a direct hand in this. I am certain that due to the effects of much drink, his lips recounted events he should have kept hidden. I confessed to him this very morning that I am, in fact, a witch, and his reaction was what I had expected. I am unable to hide my true self for very long, and I am either revealed by my actions or by my simple confession. I will not deceive my lover with lies and trickery. I have told myself time and time again to stay away from love but the pangs and yearnings cannot be ignored, not even by one such as myself.
There is no fear on my face as I glare at the five men who have invaded my little home. Each one averts his eyes. As I inhale, my lungs fill with the thick, heavy air the men brought with them—full of sweat, dirt, whiskey, and anger.
I glower at the still grinning man. “Morris Stiles, you are a fool.” My voice resonates throughout the room. The sound makes the men jump and look around, wide-eyed.
Morris grunts and spits a brown mass onto the floor. “Them’s funny words coming from a whore a’ Satan!”
I scoff. “Tell me one thing, just one thing—any of you—that I have done to remotely reflect the work of the devil?” No one meets my eyes and nothing intelligible passes from their lips. Feeling the mood of his men shift, Morris lurches forward.
“Don’t matter! You do things no livin’ person should be doin’. Ain’t but God himself that can mend a broke back, or make Jenny’s fever break even after Doc said nuthin’ could be done. You got wrong in you, woman, and we gon’ fix that!” He lunges for me. Emboldened by Morris, three other men follow. I do not cry out as they grip my arms and shoulders with rough, dirty hands. Morris binds my hands in front of me. The smell of their breath and body odor stings my nose. I am ushered from my home with shouts and laughter. The night is fresh and crisp after the all-day rain. I welcome the clean air into my lungs.
“Why don’t she fight?” someone mutters behind me. “Why don’t she scream? Ain’t never known a woman not to go screamin’.”
“’Nother thing that ain’t natural ’bout her. Like them purple eyes!”
I am shoved up onto an old, work-worn mare. A timid voice comes from behind the rest.
“But she made Pa’s leg stop hurtin’. He’s able to get out in the fields again. Ma said it was a miracle and that God was workin’ through her.”
“Shut yer mouth, boy!” Morris slaps the young man hard on the back of the head. He grips the boy by his collar. “Yer Pa’s lucky she didn’t turn that leg into a cloven hoof!” He pushes the boy backward and turns to face me.
“We gonna show you what we do to witches!” He throws his head back and hoots manically. Several men follow suit; some punctuate their exuberance with gunshots into the air.
The horse underneath me snorts and pulls back from the man holding the reins, jerking her head from side to side. He yells obscenities at her and yanks her bridle. I run my hands along her taut neck and make her listen to my words in her mind. She calms to the song I sing to her.
I am paraded down the main street through town towards the cemetery where the gallows stands. Many outlaws have met their end in this manner, and it appears so will I.
The cemetery is unusually bright this evening with torches on every fence post. They cast a harsh yellow glow onto the weathered wood of the gallows. I am aware of the shouts, calls, and other verbal assaults around me, but I hear nothing except the steady beating of my heart. I focus on controlling my movements and breathing. I will not give them the satisfaction of seeing my fear. While I am not afraid of death itself as I have done it eleven times before, it is the act of dying I fear. But I am pleased by the method they have chosen, for it is a fast end if done properly.
I am shoved up the steps and I will my legs to keep up. I am jerked around into position in front of the freshly tied noose of new rope. Morris presents it and me to the crowd—the ringmaster to this circus.
“Lookie what we got here!” He shoves me forward as if they couldn’t already see me. “By her own confession to Roy Shackleford, she’s a gawd damn witch!” The crowd becomes deafening.
I catch the eye of the town preacher at the far end of the massive throng. His face is smug and his eyes dance with spiteful glee. Under my glare, his grin falters and he moves behind a large elderly woman who’s covered herself in a quilt and grasps a wooden cross tightly in her meaty fists.
Morris continues to speak random sentences describing my unnatural and ungodly ways, inciting the crowd further. I look upon their hateful faces, devoid of any resemblance to the humans they were earlier in the day. I pity them all for their small, feeble minds. I become aware that Morris is attempting to put the noose around my neck.
“I wish to speak!” I yank myself away from Morris’s grip. Much to his dismay, I am stronger than I have led him to believe.
I am booed and hissed at, and the crowd calls for my immediate death. I clench my teeth and hiss back at them. “Silence!” The force in my voice, the unearthly sound I make, strikes them dumb. “You will listen.
“Almost half of you have benefited from my healing skill.” My gaze seeks those I readily find who have been under my care. Their eyes do not meet mine.
“I have caused no harm to any of you, nor your land, nor your property. I have done only good deeds. Refute that, anyone!” People shift their feet and hide their faces behind those in front of them. The people in the front look at the ground. In the silence, I hear the flapping of large wings and see the heavy flames of the torches dance in the air currents. I cannot see the creature but I know it. I have always known it. A sharp, angry cry from the bird peals out above the crowd. There are gasps and cries of fear; some crouch down as they stare into the black sky. I feel strangely calmed by the bird’s presence.
Morris steps forward to speak, and my thoughts close his windpipe. He grips his throat, his eyes widening. My eyes warn him not to proceed. I will be allowed to speak, Morris, but you no longer will.
“As I look at each of your faces, I know none of my words will make the slightest difference. Your minds are small and petty. The only danger here is you. You believe you are ridding the world of some great evil tonight. But all you are doing is worsening your own lives. Ponder that as you lay your heads on your pillows. The evil here is you, for there is none in me.”
I release Morris from where he stands still gasping for air. As he tries to recover himself, he waves several men forward to put me back into place. Coughing is all he can manage as he puts the noose over my head and jerks it tight. When he is close to my face, he spits at me. The smell of it would be nauseating if I could feel anything other than rage.
He shoves each man out of the way so he is the one to pull the lever that controls the trap door upon which I stand. He stumbles and is still sputtering to get words out, but he can only cough and spit. As my last act of defiance, I make those the only sounds that will ever come out of his mouth. My petty revenge makes me smile.
The movement of the well-worn mechanism opening the trap door is loud in my ears. It is all I hear though I’m certain the crowd has reached a frenzied state. For the length of a breath, I am suspended in midair. I look above the crowd as I plummet downward, seeing a flash of white wings in my periphery.
I relax my neck and let the noose perform its job without resistance. I want this over quickly, to have my neck snap immediately. The noose tightens as my weight pulls my body down. The pain is but a quick jolt and then the world is black and silent to me.

Author Bio:
Carrie D. Miller was born in Hutchinson, Kansas, on October 31, 1970. She credits her vivid imagination, as well as her sugar addiction, to being a Halloween baby. In a former life, she was an executive in the software industry for many years. Her career in the technology world included software product management, website design, training, and technical writing just to name a few. Although Carrie’s written a great deal over the decades which has been read by thousands of people, software documentation allows for about as much creativity as pouring cement. At the age of 45, she decided to chuck it all to become an author which had been a life-long dream.
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