Wednesday, November 14, 2018

House of Ashes Book Blast

Blurb:
Thirty-seven-year-old painter Cassandra Mitchell is fourth-generation to live in the majestic Battersea Bluffs, a brooding Queen Anne home originally built by her great-grandparents, Percy and Celeste Mitchell, and still standing despite tragedies that have swept the generations. Local lore has it that there was a curse placed on the family and the house is haunted, though opinions are divided on whether it's by malicious or benevolent spirits. Cassie believes the latter―but now she stands to lose her beloved home to mounting debt and the machinations of her dream-weaving ex-husband.

Salvation seems to arrive when a nomadic young couple wanders onto the property with the promise of companionship and much-needed help―until they vanish without a trace, leaving behind no clue to their identities. Cassie is devastated, but determined to discover what's happened to the young couple...even as digging into their disappearance starts to uncover family secrets of her own. Despite warnings from her childhood friend, now the local Chief of Police―as well as an FBI agent who pushes the boundaries of professionalism―Cassie can't help following the trail of clues (and eerie signals from the old house itself) to unravel the mystery. But can she do so before her family's dark curse destroys everything in its path?



Excerpt:
Eighty years ago ~ Whale Rock, Massachusetts ~ Cape Cod Bay
Friday, December 13th

The fire bell was ringing, and someone yelled in through the tavern door, “There’s a fire up on the north end! Battersea Bluffs. We need all the hands we can get!”

“No, it can’t be,” Percy whispered. The Bluffs was his home. He leapt from the barstool and ran for the street, bumping into a stranger as he passed through the tavern door. The man’s eyes were ominously familiar to him, but with more pressing concerns, there was no time to bring to memory why. He had to get home to Celeste.

It sickened him to see the flames as his Ford pickup rounded the top of Lavender Hill. How hard he and Celeste had worked to build this house, a grand Victorian with a widow’s walk and a proud front porch facing out to sea. Fire trucks were already there, and men he’d known these many years were working hard to contain the blaze.

As he ran toward the house, it came to him who the stranger in the tavern had been, and later one of the firefighters would recount that Percy had screamed: “Damn that lighterman’s curse. Damn you to hell, Robert Toomey!” Nobody was quick enough to keep Percy Mitchell from entering the inferno. Moments later he emerged, his clothing and hair afire, carrying a charred human form. Any man would have been delirious from the pain, but as the firefighters looked on in shocked disbelief, Percy walked with a purposeful bearing and a swift gait toward the bluffs. A few men chased after their friend, but before anyone could stop him, Percy reached the ledge and cried out, “I am not finished!”

And then, with his already dead wife in his arms, he hurled them both into Cape Cod Bay.


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About the Author:
A true bibliophile, Loretta Marion's affection for the written word began in childhood and followed her like a shadow throughout her life as she crafted award winning marketing and advertising copy and educational brochures. She then applied her writing skills as a volunteer, establishing a Legacy Story program for hospice patients, which inspired her to create her own fictional stories. Her debut novel, The Fool's Truth, was a twisty mystery with whispers of romance. Her newest novel, HOUSE OF ASHES – A Haunted Bluffs Mystery, is the first in a series published by Crooked Lane Books.

When not whipping out words on her laptop, she is traveling, enjoying outdoor pursuits, or is curled up with a delicious new book. Loretta lives in Rhode Island with her husband, Geoffrey, and their beloved Mr. Peabody, a sweet, devoted and amusing “Corgador”.

Website: https://www.LorettaMarion.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LorettaMarionAuthor

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/House-Ashes-Haunted-Bluffs-Mystery/dp/1683318439
Barnes&Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/house-of-ashes-loretta-marion/1128856330?ean=9781683318439#/
Books-A-Million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/House-Ashes/Loretta-Marion/9781683318439
Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781683318439

Monday, November 12, 2018

Island Life Sentence VBT

Blurb:
Peg Savage has contractually agreed to move to Key West, Florida. The smudged signatures on the damp cocktail napkin are irrefutable proof.

“An adventure…” her husband Clark says.

Peg can’t swim; she’s afraid of bridges (there are 42 of them); and she doesn’t want to leave her friends. However, after a bottle of Cabernet, a move from Chicago to the southernmost city in the United States seems like the best decision ever.

But now Clark has taken a long term job in Cuba and she’s on her own.

Neither her dog Nipper, nor the ghosts in the attic, offer up any good advice. But how hard can it be living in paradise?

Peg dives into island life but the more effort she makes, the wider her wake of catastrophes. She is tortured by a paddle board, a giant poisonous toad, the local Conservation group, and the patron saint of hurricanes. Not to mention the persistent sweat rash under her left breast.

A tropical depression descends on the island – one that can’t be cured with medication. Peg must gather her strength if she has any hope of surviving the storm.



Excerpt:
The next day, when Clark greeted Peg in the kitchen, his face lit up with hungover happiness. Peg held up the still-damp paper towel contract – black ink sticking to her index finger and thumb.

“Yes, here’s the proof.” She dropped the drunken pact into the desk drawer on top of the crusty remains of past contracts that refused to lie flat. She could just make out the blotchy inked words company, job and dog on the corners of the stacked agreements.

“It’ll be fun, an adventure.” Clark kissed her lips, his breath a mixture of mouthwash and sour bar towel. “I’ll make the arrangements. We can get away at the end of the week.”

Peg wished that he would stop saying the word adventure.




Who has influenced me as a writer

I love humor. Slapstick. Farcical. Burlesque. Dry. Droll. Anecdotal. Sophomoric. Screwball. You get the idea.  I’m attracted to funny people, authors and animals (not necessarily in that order).

I’m hoping you’ve read something (anything) by Carl Hiaasen. He’s a Florida writer who gets it. He’s written many books but two of my favorites are Tourist Season and Razor Girl, (I can’t type the titles without smiling). 

Here’s a quote from Tourist Season:
“Never would she admit to her Otter Creek neighbors that her unhappiness was anything but a widow’s grief, or that sometimes, during Florida’s steambath of a summer, she longed to be back up North, in the city, where one could actually walk to the grocery store without an oxygen tank.”

Razor Girl is based on a real life criminal. A woman drives to the Keys and gets into a car accident while shaving her private parts. When I moved to Key West 5 years ago, this news story is what sparked my desire to create a blog about the crime down here.  www.floridakeyscrimereport.com

And, of course, there’s The Onion. The cleverest people in the world write these articles--the headlines alone are genius.

For example, here’s The Onion’s  Mother’s Day headline:

And also this Onion article:

Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without my girlfriends.  It’s important to have tight female bonds.  I’ve realized just because I’ve moved geographically far away from these fabulous women, doesn’t mean we don’t communicate on a regular basis. In fact, we make a bigger effort now that we need to schedule our together time. They listen, laugh and support me unconditionally. I try to do the same for them--but usually it’s all about me.

I worship Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They’re long time, loyal friends and kick ass comediennes.  

From Yes Please by Amy Poehler:
“You have to care about your work but not about the result. You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look.”

From Bossypants by Tina Fey:
"I was walking home alone from school and I was wearing a dress. A dude drove by and yelled, “Nice tits.” Embarrassed and enraged, I screamed after him, “Suck my dick.” Sure, it didn’t make any sense, but at least I don’t hold in my anger.”

Key West is hugely influential to my writing. Every time I venture out of the house, it’s a story.  Yesterday, a nesting Mockingbird chased the dog and me down the street.  It swooped at my head, pecked at the dog’s butt, then stood its ground directly in front of us on the sidewalk. As my 50 pound (bird) dog cowered in fear behind my legs, I placed my hands firmly on my hips and spoke in a firm tone to the menace, “you know you are like 5 inches tall - right?”  It flapped its wings and made direct beady eye contact.  It was like looking into the soul of the devil.  We about-faced as fast as our 6 legs would take us.

Key West is an island of writers. I am a mere grain of sand in the land of colossal mountains.  I volunteer weekly in Books & Books Key West --my boss? Judy Blume. Last summer,  I sat next to Meg Cabot at a Take Stock in Children symposium. Come on. How great is that?  

Rich or poor, funny or not, one thing we have in common is we all sweat a lot.  It rhymes and is true.

 

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Author Bio and Links:
After raising three boys in the suburbs of Chicago, Carrie Jo Howe now lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her dog. Her latest novel, Island Life Sentence, is a fictional account of an American Midwestern woman who feels like an alien in the “one human family” of Key West. Carrie Jo’s first book, Motherhood is NOT for Babies, received a rave review (thanks Mom), and works wonderfully as a form of contraception. Her blog Florida Keys Crime Report, tells of all the goings on in the Keys, where bank robbers get away on bicycles, and perps caught with undersized, pinched, out-of-season lobsters get more jail time than drug runners. She is currently working on the sequels to Island Life Sentence.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Mistletoe in Mayhem Book Blast

Blurb:
A Christmas Wedding In Mayhem
You’re cordially invited to the wedding of the century! Please join bride-trying-not-to-be-a-zilla Hennessy O’Halloran and her prince-in-shining-snow-boots as they finally say, “I do.” Unless a rogue wedding planner and a blizzard that takes out the entire Midwest can stop them, these two will get married on Christmas. The town of Mayhem will make sure of it.

A Surprise Baby In Mayhem
The town of Mayhem, Minnesota, is about to have a population explosion…and the Whiskey Sisters are getting more than they expected! While newlyweds Henny and Bryan are anxiously awaiting not one but two little bundles of joy, Jameson and Scott are focusing on planning their own perfect wedding, with only one troublesome toddler in tow. But babies have a way of arriving on their own schedules…and fate has a way of intervening in this quirky hamlet. Now, the couple finds themselves scrambling to beat the clock—and the odds—to their own happily ever after before their unexpected special delivery arrives.

Travel to the quirky town of Mayhem, Minnesota, with these two companion novellas that prove love, and sisterhood, will always save the day.



Excerpt from A Christmas Wedding:
I pull her into my arms, reveling in the feel of her soft curves pressed against my chest, and rest my chin atop her blonde head. She buries her face into my sweatshirt.

“Hennessy, honey, you need to stop worrying about all the little details. We’ve come this far and, with the help of a whole lotta people, we’re going to have a beautiful wedding. With or without heat. With or without light. As long as you’re there with me, up at the altar, then nothing else matters,” I murmur into her hair.

She looks up at me with pale blue eyes, brows arched in concern.

“Bryan, I don’t consider heat and light ‘little details.’ And the roads—they’re like ice! How will anyone get here safely? How will we get here safely?”

I sigh and brush the hair back off her forehead.

“Do you have any idea how much I love you?” I ask. “And that’s not a rhetorical question.”

“I think I have some idea,” she replies, the corners of her mouth quirking up a little.

I shake my head.

“No, I don’t think you do. I wanted this wedding to happen fast because I couldn’t wait another day to be married to you. Don’t you see? It doesn’t matter—none of it matters. In the end, it’s just you and me taking a vow before God. It’s not the wedding, Hennessy. It’s the marriage.”

Her eyes study mine for a long moment before she puts a soft hand to my cheek.

“I’ll try to stay calm,” she assures me. “And I do know how much you love me…because that’s how much I love you, too.”

I lean down, my lips finding hers. It’s a beautiful, candlelit moment. Until it’s not.

“Noooooooooo, Mama! Miiiiiiiiiiine!”

Our kiss transforms into a double-sided snort of laughter. We pull away from one another, chuckling. When she opens her mouth to say something, I hold up my index finger to stop her.

“And before you worry about Jax being too young, or too unpredictable, he’s a little detail, too. An incredibly loud, incredibly destructive detail…but a little one, nonetheless.”

“Yeah, well, maybe we should reconsider letting him be the ring bearer,” she says.

“Why? You don’t think he can handle it?”

“Uh, well, you know the plastic bottle cap ring we’re using for practice?”

“Yeah…” I nod, wondering where she’s going with this.

“He just swallowed it.”



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Author Bio and Links:
L.E. Rico didn’t set out to be an author. In fact, she’s made a name for herself as a classical music radio host—doing her best to make the music and the composers relevant by putting them into a modern context. It was just a few years ago that she discovered a passion for writing that blossomed into an entire novel. And then another. And another. And, while she still spends plenty of time on the radio, telling the stories of the great composers, she spends even more time composing her own great stories.

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Friday, November 9, 2018

Willow Bloom and the Dream Keepers Book Blast

Blurb:
Willow Bloom’s biggest challenge is to organise her thirteenth birthday party. However, a walk in the woods near her home provides some big surprises – a mystical guardian from another world, a magical forest, and the discovery that her parents are part of a secret order that protects dreams. With the discovery comes a calling. A prophecy tells of a young one who can push back the dark forces that threaten to corrupt our hopes and dreams. Is Willow that young one? Can she take on the forces of evil, the Underlord Maliceius, and win?



Excerpt:
“Isn’t that normal? How else are you meant to make things happen?”

“Willow, let me put it another way. Imagine that you are following a chocolate cake recipe to bake a birthday cake. This recipe has been developed and tested by others over and over so that you can make it too. It’s a ‘normal’ cake recipe that everyone follows. Now, what if you wanted to make this cake a little more special because it was for someone you really love? You think about this person while you are mixing the batter when suddenly, ‘out of nowhere’, you get the idea to add raspberries to your batter. Now your cake is no longer the original recipe. You didn’t need the raspberries to make the cake work, but you were inspired to create something different, inspired by someone special to you. You changed the world, just a little, by adding the raspberries.”

“Really, Mum, it’s a cake.”

“It’s an analogy, Willow.”

“I know. What you’re saying is that too many of us are making the same chocolate cake, following other peoples’ ideas. But to help things change, we need to create using inspired thought too. Right?”



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Author Bio and Links:
E.V. Farrell lives in rural Victoria with her husband and two sons. This is her first novel.

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Buy Links:
On sale the week of the tour for 99c (UK only).

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Soul Song Review Tour

Blurb:
Dottie thought she had it all: a successful singing career, a handsome fiancĂ©, and a starlet’s wardrobe. Sudden betrayal brought it all crashing down around her. Those she trusted most played her as nothing more than a pawn. One misstep while fleeing the scene trapped her in another world alone, save a mysterious visitor.

Guatimozin, an eagle shifter, has spent ages assisting people through the realm between life and death, leading them to join loved ones on either side. No one had ever made him want anything for himself until he discovered this city girl.

Forces plot against them and time is short. Soon, their chance for a happily ever after will be too late.



Excerpt:
I jus’ gotta find a way out of this kooky forest first.

Making her way back onto her feet, she dusted off her dress in a mindless motion. The fabric passed beneath her strokes smooth and dirt free. She studied the once vibrant red dress she’d worn on stage. The satin now appeared drab and colorless. Her bare feet peeked from beneath its hem, as clean as the moment she’d dabbed them dry from her bath. The blind sprint from her dressing room, across town, and up the hill, should have left them covered in filth.

In exasperation, she threw her arms in the air. “Swell. I mus’ be dead and I’m . . .”

She moved away from the tree to scrutinize her surroundings. As much as Dottie hoped she’d end up in heaven, her mother always insisted that, as a willful child trying to pass as something she wasn’t, her final destination would be a bit further down.

The sensation of electricity passing through the air made every hair stand on end as a matter-of-fact reply came from behind. “No, you aren’t dead, but you’re not exactly alive either. You’re in a realm known as the in-between.”

Spinning around, Dottie came face to face with a stranger. Like the tree, he appeared in color, only he wasn’t pink and purple. Instead, a tall man with reddish tan skin, swirling silver eyes, and waist length striking black hair, stared at her as though regarding a ghost. Thick muscular arms crossed over his chest as his shocked expression ease into a slow smirk, highlighting the defined beak-like nose, high cheekbones, and strong chin framing his mouth.

Nervously licking her lips, she couldn’t help but muse, Di Mi. Well hello, sailor.




My Review:
3 stars

Diesel-punk, romance, and the supernatural. What’s not to love? 

While this book held a lot of promise, it didn’t quite deliver. The plot was enjoyable, but predictable. My favorite part was the realism of some of the characters, especially when it came to their dialogue and motivations, and I loved Dottie (aka Sassy McSassy). However, Tim just seemed boring for most of the book. I was disappointed to have a hero that didn’t seem to match up to the heroine.

Also, this book is woven into an existing world the author created, so while it worked as a standalone, I could tell I was missing things because I hadn’t read other works from the author, which was a bummer. As a result, I felt like this affected the character development because since some of these characters were in previous books, they weren’t fleshed out as much here.

Overall though, this was a fun read that I would probably have enjoyed more if I'd read the other books in the author's series that are interconnected. However, if you're into diesel-punk and sassy heroines with amazing dialogue, I would recommend giving this a try.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*



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Author Bio and Links:
Writing under Mikea Howard, we are actually Mindy Howard and Kelly Smith, sisters-in-law who share a love for romance, usually paranormal. We have spent the last several years reading and sharing books as well as authors, often making comments about how we'd love to write our own when we ran out of things to read.

While based on our TBR piles, we have not run out of reading material, yet we decided to write when the muse hit Kelly with a dystopian diesel world and an opening scene with the heroine running out into the woods. Mindy then saw her hero step in, and The Diesel War series was born.

Mindy is an IT professional at a telecom company. She is married to a musician and teacher, who also happens to be Kelly's brother. She has one adult son and is living out west.

Kelly is a Registered Nurse working in maternal-fetal medicine. She has a great husband, who happens to be Mindy's husband's best friend. She has one son in high school, one daughter in middle school, and is living on the east coast.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Becoming Magic NBtM

Blurb:
Carole Barnes once believed she would make her own way in Hollywood, but those days are long gone, leaving behind only a dark, slimy secret that Carole has never shared with anyone. Now she hides in the bright sunshine of the Crystal Coast of North Carolina. As far away as she can get from Hollywood. But what to do when Hollywood comes knocking in the form of a sexy movie star?

Connor Wallace has everything going for him—looks, talent, a successful career—but what he really wants is to perform magic on stage. His love of magic leads him back to his mentor Walt Bryson. At first, he’s pleased when Walt suggests his assistant Carole produce a documentary of his transformation from movie star to magician. He’s worked with Carole before—but the ambitious girl who had a crush on him is gone now, leaving a beautiful, withdrawn woman.

It’s the perfect arrangement. Carole knows she can make a success of the movie and Connor wants to work with her. But as they grow closer, Connor determines to find out her secret. Can love overcome the boundaries of fear? Or will Carole’s past return to plague them both?



Excerpt:
Connor pulled the linking rings back out of their velvet bag and began practicing with the engagement ring on them. “I may need your help, too.”

“With the trick?” She raised her eyebrows. “I’m not sure I’m the one—”

“Nonsense. You know how it works. You just have to catch it correctly.” He tossed the ring to her. She caught it neatly, but the engagement ring went flying.

“Damn.” She cursed softly. “I thought I could do that.”

“No, you weren’t sure. You said so.” He found the engagement ring and replaced it on the linking ring. He fixed her with a stern look. “Be certain.”

“Okay.” She shrugged, but she knew what he was talking about. Every movement in magic—or any showmanship, really—had to be done with certainty. No rethinking yourself or doubts allowed. The audience should never be aware that you might not know what you’re doing. And so she banished any doubts and looked at him expectantly.

“And don’t look at me like that.” He twirled the rings in the air, absently connecting and disconnecting them. She knew how it was done, but he’d gotten so good at it, she couldn’t catch him.

She laughed. “Why not?”

He paused in the act of juggling the rings, caught them and displayed them all connected with the engagement ring dangling at the bottom. “Because you make it hard for me to be certain.”

She tilted her head, wondering what he meant…





From #MeToo to…Happy Holidays?

I find myself in a somewhat unique position today. I’m still promoting Becoming Magic, but my new, holiday-themed book Dickens Magic came out last week. I love both of these books, but Dickens Magic takes place in my adopted hometown New Bern, N.C., and is based very loosely on my experiences with the community theater, so my heart is kind of with that book now.

It’s also a matter of turning from the dark to the light. These two books could not be more different. Becoming Magic has a #metoo theme, complete with a damaged heroine. It’s about leaving that damage behind and giving love a chance. Dickens Magic, while it too has its dark points, is, in the end, about second chances—for love, for life, for ambition—and family.

All of my Sleight of Hand books can be read as standalones. Becoming Magic and Dickens Magic are no exception. However, I think of them, along with Movie Magic (number 4 in the series) as a sort of trilogy. They all take place, at least mostly, near where I live. They all deal with other aspects of the entertainment industry beyond stage magic. This wasn’t an intentional thing, though. These books just took root organically and grew.

I’ve wanted to write a holiday-themed romance for a while, but, like everything I write, the theme needed to remain true to me. A lot of writers say they try to remain true to their readers, but I’ll be honest, I remain true to myself as a writer. Taking that into account, it makes sense that my first holiday-themed book would be inspired by my first foray onto the stage. Being “Woman 3” in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, was, without doubt, one of the most joyous experiences of my life. 

So, in a very real way, while Becoming Magic highlights the darkness I see in the world around me, Dickens Magic returns us to the light. And while we all know that the world is made up of dark and light and wouldn’t be complete without either one, who doesn’t prefer the light? Especially holiday lights?



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Author Bio and Links:
Michelle Garren Flye is an award-winning romance author of eleven novels and counting. Her short stories have been published by the romance anthology Foreign Affairs, Opium.com, SmokelongQuarterly.com and Flashquake.com, among others. She has served on the editorial staffs of Horror Library, Butcher Shop Quartet and Tattered Souls. Michelle has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is the mother of three and lives in North Carolina.

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Buy Links:
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Monday, November 5, 2018

You Can't Force Love Pre-Order Blitz

Blurb:
"A battered butterfly, he'd build Kimberly up, nurture her strength and watch her return to flight. He repressed the visions dancing in the back of his mind; her naked body brandished red flags and spurred him to stampede. Bulls and butterflies did not mix."
Jordan Fry's obsession is born in "You Can't Force Love" by Marie Drake, Book I in the Locked Hearts Series.

From different towns and social backgrounds, Jordan Fry and Kimberly Orvine experience life-altering abuse, lose a parent and land in the same foster home. Angry, and self-deprecating, fiery redheaded Kimberly is deadset on lousy behavior and suffering the consequences, punishing herself for former sins. Scared by his inner darkness, pyromaniac Jordan has vowed to change for the better. He focuses on Kimberly as the key to his success, but she intends to make him break his promises. Unaware of Jordan's atrocious actions in the past, she's dangerously close to unleashing the evil he struggles to contain during their epic battle of wills. Can they both survive?

PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY:



Excerpt:
July 1986
Crescent Hollar Trailer Park
Gloucester City, New Jersey

Fresh, black pavement radiated visible heat; scorched grass crunched beneath Jordan’s feet; sweat drenched his shoulder-length, blonde hair, and it clung to his neck. The mobile home park’s road ended at a small store; he paid twenty-five cents for two ring-shaped lollipops, saved a pink candy, unwrapped a blue one and reclined on a canopy shaded bench.

A black and yellow butterfly fluttered toward him; sunlight clarified its translucent wings and turned it magical, otherworldly. Jordan stared at the creature hovering above his leg. It glided to his knee. Tiny feet danced on his bare skin, a slight tickle. Sparkling like gold dust; glowing, powdery residue transferred on his fingers. Airborn again, impulsively, he reached and knocked it to the ground; one wing beat up and down.

Humming distracted him, and he stepped on the butterfly as he crossed the road. Lily skipped across the grass in pink, canvas sneakers. Her long, cinnamon-colored hair billowed; it tapped her thin, white blouse below her shoulder blades and bounced with each step. A faint halo highlighted her lovely features. Enhanced by sapphire-colored stones in her ears, her blue eyes shined brighter than the butterfly. She smiled. Calescent stomach pain folded him in half. With gritted teeth, he straightened, took a step, smiled back at her, and offered the ring-pop from his pocket.

“Strawberry, my favorite.” She tugged the lollipop from its wrapper and slipped it into her mouth. Her eyes crinkled in the sun. She dragged the candy over her lips with a final sucking motion, lifted her hand and let the sunshine filter through the gem-shaped sugar. “Pretty,” she said.

Pain struck Jordan again, stronger. It radiated through his lower body. Lily held his hand and walked along the road’s edge. She stopped at a red and white toolshed at the corner of her backyard. Jordan peeked into her driveway, no car.

“Just one time, right?” Lily asked. She closed her eyes.

Jordan smothered her with his mouth; she panicked and struggled, but he closed in and restrained her. His mind emptied, his eyes went blank; a blinding drive took over, and he pressed her to the ground. Tear-filled eyes didn’t dissuade him.

A horn honked, and a door slammed near the house; he froze. Lily’s dad carried grocery bags. Jordan rolled. She ran toward home; he traced her body’s imprint in the grass and discovered a shimmering deep-blue earring.

A vice clamped his arm, and with a yank, he met angry eyes; he cowered inches below Lily’s father’s face.



About the Author:
Award-winning author, Marie Drake lives in a small town near Lake Ontario with her husband, four sons, and three rescue pups. With many years of experience in the Foster Care community and advocating for other victims and survivors, she specializes in realistic and psychological fiction depicting the lives of abuse sufferers; their obstacles, their triumphs, and their downfalls.

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Sunday, November 4, 2018

Green Death Book Blitz

As poisonmaster to the Oligarch, Tryg Sant knows a lot of things others shouldn’t. But when he discovers his family’s darkest secret, his brother tries to kill him.

When Tryg’s lover pushes him out of a helicopter and into the poison-filled Exclusion Zone, Tryg finds himself trapped in a dangerous new world, entirely different from the one he expects. Now, Tryg has to learn to survive nearly-feral humans and his own disintegrating mind. Luckily, he’s found an ally in Riot, one of the victims of the Green Death…




Excerpt:
Everything felt muffled. My injuries, my emotions, my thoughts, the sounds from outside. The heavy, rhythmic, mechanical thumps from somewhere above me were so loud they radiated through my chest. My mind barely registered the noise, even if my sternum did—maybe because there was something strapped over my head, digging into the top of my skull and trapping warm, sweaty air over my ears.

All I cared about, in the moment, was that I wasn’t being hit.

The ground shifted under me, tilting just slightly, shooting my equilibrium all to hell. The only things that kept me from toppling over were a wall on my left, propping me upright, and straps across my shoulders and chest and hips. They dug into my bruises with a steady, fuzzy, ache.

I tried to tug at the straps, hoping to release the pressure, but my arm didn’t work right.
I should have hurt a lot more. I was pretty damned sure I ought to be screaming from just trying to move my arm, but all I felt was thick haze and a low heat over almost every inch of my skin.

“Tryg, wake up.” The headpiece I wore transmitted the words directly into my ears, but even with the amplification, I could barely hear it over the whump whump whump coming from overhead.
I opened my eyes. Well, my left eye, since the right lid didn’t seem to work.

I tried looking around, but my neck didn’t want to move either. So far, the only thing responding to me was a single eyelid.

Someone had given me something—a drug or a poison of some sort. That was the only reason I wasn’t writhing on the ground, screaming. I could feel my injuries, the places my brother had cracked bones or ripped into my skin with his obnoxiously large ring, but only a little. Like a wad of cloth had been shoved somewhere between the injuries and my brain, so the signals from my nerves couldn’t make it through at full strength.

I tried to focus, tried to direct my wandering mind to the list of substances Vodayn had requested from me over the last ten years I’d run the laboratory.

Nothing. Probably just strong painkillers, unless he had outside sources for a new poison.

Outside sources. My blood ran cold. Is that what Arris had been talking about, when I overheard them a few days ago? This pricked at my pride. For a moment, it didn’t matter that my brother had starved and kicked the shit out of me and was sending me to my death. I was angry at him for going elsewhere for poisons when I could make him almost anything he wanted, a hundred times better and far more discreetly than anyone else.

But I’m not his poison master anymore. The thought came crashing down around me, heavy on my shoulders. I slumped forward, though the straps kept me from folding in half.

And then realization struck me, harder than any of my brother’s blows had.

He’d always planned on getting rid of me. Even before I’d found the damning documents. If he was looking elsewhere for poisons, he’d been looking for a replacement. That’d been what Arris’s comment to him had been about.

“Come on, Tryg. I hate that I have to do this job, but it’s a damned good thing for you. Anyone else would have just pushed you out by now. I want you to be functional.”

Arris. My whole body started to shake. Arris was here. He’d save me. He’d make sure I was okay. He cared about me, as much as anyone ever had. More than anyone, since Dad died.

I finally managed to twist my neck a few inches. Arris’s scarred, tanned face slowly resolved before me, headset obscuring his short black hair.

He was frowning just a little. It was the most emotion I’d seen on him, outside of sex.

“There we go. Welcome back.” He leaned forward and brushed his thumb over my cheek. Searing fire ran though my face. I hissed and tried to jerk back, but most of my body still didn’t want to obey my directives.

“You… Why?”

My words slurred. Apparently my lips worked fine, though my tongue was taking its sweet time catching up. I hoped the drug didn’t wear off too soon. I wasn’t prepared to face the damage done to my body. Not until I knew what in the dark depths of hell Arris was planning.

Arris watched me with soft eyes. He never had soft eyes. Passionate while we were fucking? Yes. Inquisitive? Rarely. Ice cold when in his official capacity? Always. But never soft.

“This is occurring because Vodayn demanded that you die. Telling him what you found was a stupid move. The stupidest. He’s been increasingly paranoid over the last year. Surely you haven’t missed that, as smart as you are?”

“Paaa…noy?” My half-numb tongue fumbled over the word. I shook my head. I hadn’t had time to notice anything.

For the last year, Vodayn’s requests of me had gone down, yes, but when he did give me a project, he had been making obscure and incredibly difficult demands I’d worked hard to fulfill. A substance that, once ingested, made hair change color permanently, with no other effect. One that made the victim cry irrationally for days. One that mimicked a heart attack’s symptoms perfectly. I’d succeeded in crafting them all, though the crying draught lasted for only thirty-six hours.

I’d been proud of my success. I’d managed everything he asked.

Arris hummed a little. “Very paranoid. You always were a bit too focused when you were working.”

“How’djou know?”

The lines between his brows grew deeper. “Know what?”

“What I told him.” Words were slowly becoming easier to pronounce.

“Because I was there when he received your report. I only got a glimpse of it while he read it, but I know what it means. We suspected that the Sants had been behind the poisoning ever since it happened. There’s a reason I was stationed in the household, and my father before me. I was supposed to find proof. And you hand-delivered it to him.”

The words Arris spoke now did not match up with what I’d known of him over the last few years. My heart seemed to think that now was a great time to start thundering as fast as it would go. “Who’s we?”

“The resistance.” Here, Arris smiled, and the deepest scar, the one that ran over his cheek, pulled and wrinkled in a dozen places.

He’d been my brother’s right-hand man and main assassin for almost three years, and never once had I seen him smile. It scared me more than anything else. I wonder if all his victims got to see this horrible, wonderful expression.

Because that’s what I would be. His victim. He was letting me see another side to him, now, and that meant I was a dead man.

And then the meaning of his statement filtered into my mind. The resistance. That’d been wiped out with the bombing, hadn’t it? Or tainted with the poison, at least, and driven crazy?

“The resistance survives? Truly?”

He nodded. “We have been trying to find justice for almost a hundred years. The exclusion zone is still the center of it. Most of us had family there, when it was poisoned. My great-grandfather’s entire family got walled inside, except for him. He’d been at a friend’s for a sleepover during the bombing.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Did any of them… survive?”

“A few, for a while.” He looked away from me, and then his face tightened, the smile vanishing. “We’re almost there. You’re getting dropped in. I pushed for this, instead of using the Black Daydream on you until you were crazy enough to cut your own throat. Vodayn wanted you to die in agony, and I argued this would be the most effective and ironic way. He came around to my line of thinking eventually.”

“Where? Dropped in where?”

He reached past me and tapped on the surface to my right.

I turned my head, my neck still protesting the motion. I suspected that without the painkillers I’d been given, the movement would hurt a lot more.

A window. And beyond it, the sky. Clouds. We were high. I’d never been so high. I never had permission to leave the Sant compound, much less go somewhere that required air transport.

Then again, if all air transport was like this strange, rusted, rickety, noisy vehicle, I doubted I’d missed much.

Arris leaned forward. “You’re wearing a parachute. Do you think you can pull the ripcord yourself once you’re out?”

My heart clenched. I tried to flex my hand, and then lift it. All I managed was a finger-twitch. “I don’t think so.”

“The drug?”

“Yeah. What is it?”

“Just a mid-level painkiller from Professor Marita’s lab.”

“Oh.” Marita—there was that name again. Professional jealousy twisted through me. “Thanks.”

“I’ll pull your ripcord for you when you jump, if you’re not up to it now. We’ll be so low nobody will notice the parachute, thanks to the poison.”

“The—oh green-damned hell, the poison.” Arris’s statements finally sank into me. He’d asked my brother to dump me into the exclusion zone. And my brother had agreed, even before he’d started to beat me senseless.

“Here. Hang on to the handles if you can.” He lifted my arms up, his grip gentle, and hooked my hands over smooth, cool plastic. “This will steer you once you’re in the air, if you can find the strength. Pull which way you want to go. Try and land in a flat place, but close to the taller buildings. You won’t be able to get out of the exclusion zone and go back to regular life, but you’ll have a good chance to survive down there if the right people find you. I’ve already put out an alert. I can only hope you make it, Tryg. I don’t want you to die. You’ve been the closest thing to a friend I had in that mansion. Please believe that.”

Arris looked so damned serious, giving me my death sentence with such care. I knew I wouldn’t last. I wasn’t a fighter—not without my poisons, anyway.

“Don’t pull the chute,” I said, holding his gaze. “Let me fall. It’s kinder.”

Arris shook his head. “I can’t, even if I agreed with you. You have to live. You’re our best hope now. I didn’t want to do this to you, but it’s the only way for Vodayn to leave you in peace.”

A blast of static filled the compartment, and Arris scowled and leaned back. He tilted his head. Whatever he listened to, it didn’t repeat in my headset. I tried moving my neck again, and this time I was able to turn maybe an inch farther to the right. More glass and sky.

The transport vehicle had to be well over three hundred years old, if it still had glass windows and rotors that made this much noise. The Eastrend military forces had used these to monitor the huge political protests, way back before the Green Death happened. They’d been passed on to other government agencies, like the one that monitored the poison levels here. Nobody would think this air transport looked out of place. At least not until I got pushed out of it. And Arris seemed to have already thought of that.

I pressed against the window and looked down. The only thing below us was a foggy haze, the green color lurid against the gray of the surrounding city. It was the hue present on some of the creatures in the Menagerie, almost acid-bright.

We were over the exclusion zone. A dozen small drones in a variety of styles hung just over the fog, film crews focusing on the action down below. There had to be another riot, if so many drones were out here. I hated watching the news on the nights they focused on Greenies fighting, but the rest of Eastrend seemed to love eagerly watching the violence, treated like war footage from somewhere unreachable.

All around the green air, a tall wall—bleak and gray and three city blocks thick at its narrowest point—rose a hundred feet higher than the fog, trapping the Green Death into what had once been a hotbed of political resistance. The place where Arris’s family had once lived.

I looked away. Seeing the exclusion zone—really seeing it, not just on a documentary or the news—made me want to scream. My great-grandfather had singlehandedly caused it. All the pain and agony, all the rage, all the violence—he’d created the chemical that caused it. And I might have, in another life, been able to create a way to neutralize it.

Not anymore.

“I truly am sorry, Tryg. You’ve been the only reason I still have my sanity, working for Vodayn.” Arris tilted his head, gaze sharpening, and then turned to the window next to me. “The fighting has died down. The drones are moving out. Three minutes and we start moving too.”

“Won’t the drones catch me getting pushed in?” I stared up at Arris. My lower lip wobbled in an embarrassing fashion, and I dropped my gaze. I was twenty. I didn’t need to cry. Especially not in front of him.

“The drones will be over the wall by then. Any remaining behind will already have their cameras off or pointed away. The fight’s over. They have their news clips for the day. If Vodayn tells them not to talk about it, they won’t. But if an unregulated source does draw attention to your drop-in, the story is that you’re a researcher sacrificing yourself for data on the Green Death and what it’s doing to the environment. It wouldn’t be the first time an idiot has gone in willingly and can’t get permission to go through the wall. Researchers never get permission.”

“Oh.” I shuddered. Vodayn was probably the reason for the research block. The darkness of our family secrets bled into so many other people’s lives.

Arris frowned, and then he dug something out of his belt. He held up a small, black handgun, the kind that shot little bursts of plasma—the same weapon he’d dug into my back days ago, when arresting me in the lab.

“It’s fully charged, but the safety is on. Red’s dead.” He flicked the little lever back and forth, showing me a red dot beneath it. “Only use it if you absolutely have to. The sound will call all the wild ones to you if you don’t watch out.”

“Wild?”

“They’re the most violent Greenies. They have no tattoos on their faces,” he said. “I’m tucking the gun in your back pocket. I really do want you to survive. I know you haven’t fired one often, but you’re smart. You’ll figure it out. I’ll do my best to check in on you when the Oligarch isn’t watching my every move again, okay?”

He kissed me, bruising, no more than a clash of teeth and lips.

That, more than anything, broke me. We’d never been kissers. I didn’t mind the denial, despite desperately wanting to feel what a kiss was like, mostly because I’d never imagined him being the kissing type. And now, when my banishment and potential execution was so near? Now he gave me what I wanted for so damned long.

When he pulled away, his face was a blank slate, and the chill in his gaze reappeared.

I repressed the urge to scream, to grab at him, to beg to stay in the transport. He might have been my lover, but right now, he was my brother’s top assassin.

These well-wishes and the gun would be the best I’d get from him.

“It’s time” he said as he shoved the gun into the back pocket of the torn, filthy protective work pants I still wore. “There. Brace yourself.” Arris hunched over and fiddled with the metal panel below my window. He grabbed the straps across my chest, and then a great whooshing noise filled the cabin, and the thumping of the rotors above us increased to an alarming volume. Air buffeted my face, ice cold against my cheeks.

And there was no longer any glass between me and the Green Death.

Arris shifted my weight until I sat just on the edge of the seat, tilting out into the nothingness around the transport. The haze hung just below us, the cloudy surface broken in a few dozen places by narrow metal tubes.

“Live, Tryg. Fight for it.” His words rang loud in my ear. Then he yanked my headset off. The noise beat at my eardrums, nearly pounding me senseless.

He shoved, and I was flying.

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About the Author:
Madeleine began writing professionally in 2012. She loves stories with hints of paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi in them. When she isn’t writing or working the day job, she homebrews beer, attempts to cook, and plays video games. She loves going to Renaissance faires, anime conventions, or beer festivals on the weekends.

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