Friday, 30 October 2015

Shadow Stalker Serial by Renee Scattergood

Renee Scattergood lives in Australia with her husband, Nathan, and daughter, Taiya. She has always been a fan of fantasy and was inspired to become a story-teller by George Lucas, but didn't start considering writing down her stories until she reached her late twenties. Now she enjoys writing dark fantasy. She is currently publishing her monthly Shadow Stalker serial, and she has published a prequel novella to the series called, Demon Hunt. She is also working on a new series of novels, Savior of the Serpent Isles. The first book, The Galvadi Invasion, is due to be released mid-2016. Aside from writing, she loves reading (Fantasy, of course), watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1(Episodes 1 – 6).

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Renee's Author Spotlight - a blog where I feature indie and small press authors.
Read As I Write (Don't wait til the book is released)

Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 - 6)

The Hidden Truth (Episode 1)

A young shadow stalker is destined to enslave the people of the Serpent Isles, and the Galvadi Empire want this child of prophecy dead. Auren Trasks perfectly normal life is disrupted when the Galvadi invade, and she learns a startling secret about her past. A secret that will change her life forever.

The Delohi-Saqu's Fate (Episode 2)

Auren is being targeted by the Council of Elders, and the only one who could put an end to their corruption is her father. But leaving the Dark Isle would turn Kado against her.

Shadows' Betrayal (Episode 3)

After seeing the monster she will become, Auren swears not to leave the Dark Isle. Despite that, the elders are conspiring against her. To escape their scheming, she and Kado decide to explore the Dark Isle. But worse things await them in the forests.

Forbidden Love (Episode 4)

Kado and Auren survive a deadly storm, but when Auren is forbidden from pursuing love with another young shadow stalker, will it be enough to drive a wedge between her and her foster father?

Destiny Reconciled Part 1 (Episode 5)

Auren and Kado accept that they may not be able to avoid her leaving the Dark Isle. Now they have to prepare for that eventuality. Will the training be more than Auren can handle?

Destiny Reconciled Part 2 (Episode 6)

Cathnor has been arrested and is facing a death sentence. The Dark Isle is out of control, and Kado is the only one who can help his people. So he prepares Auren for the possibility that she may have to leave the Dark Isle without him and face her destiny alone, but can she leave him and do what must be done?

Now Available Free!

Shadow Stalker Part 2 (Episodes 7 - 12) is also available in many online retail outlets!

To read more of this serial, sign up for a new chapter each week! It's only $1 a month!

An excerpt from Shadow Stalker: The Hidden Truth (Episode 1)

Reality is an illusion we create to convince ourselves nothing will ever change. I have learned change happens regardless of the reality we create. Sometimes it’s so subtle we don’t notice it, but other times it’s so dramatic it alters our lives in a very profound way. One thing is for sure, once it sets into motion, we can’t stop it.

For me, it began with a camping trip. My friends and I had been planning it since the month before our graduation. This trip was to be our first autonomous venture into the world as fledgling adults. After spending my entire childhood in a proverbial cage, I longed for freedom. Well, okay, my life wasn't that bad. My foster father, Kado, just kept me busy doing things I believed to be unimportant, like studying maps of the islands and learning combat fighting. I didn't have time for much of a social life. It was important to him, though, so I tried not to complain—too much.

The fact that I was eighteen wasn't enough to warrant independence in Kado’s opinion. He felt I still had a lot more to learn before I could call myself an adult. It was doubtful he would believe I'd be responsible enough to travel to another island on my own, even for a few days. I had been trying to think of a way to convince him all that week to let me go on this camping trip, but I couldn't come up with anything. Worse, his mood had been gradually declining throughout the week, which decreased my chances for a positive outcome. I was out of time, though. My friends were leaving early the following morning, so I was lying on my bed, committing my spiel to memory.

"Auren, come down here, please."

Ready or not, this was it. "Coming."

I found him where he spent most of his spare time, sitting in the study reading in his favorite chair. Piles of books lined the walls making the room appear smaller than it was. There was only enough room for a couple of armchairs and a small table for furniture. How he managed such organization amongst this clutter was beyond me. I wasn’t even able to keep my room tidy, and I didn’t have nearly as much stuff as he did. Despite his ability for order and cleanliness, the room still reeked of that musty old book smell. Not even air freshener had any hope of defeating that odor; trust me, I'd tried.

I strode into the room and sat in the chair across from him. Gazing at him, it was easy to see how he could pass for my father even though we were unrelated. We both had the same dark hair, green eyes and olive skin that made us look like we belonged in a much warmer climate. The only real difference was his face was long and angular, while mine was small and round. It made my head seem disproportionate to the rest of my body, but when Kado told me I looked like my mom, it eased my self-consciousness. I loved looking into the mirror and pretending it was my mother looking back at me.

"Have you finished packing?" Kado asked without looking up from his book.


Kado lowered the book, and his eyes bore into mine. That could have sounded more confident. I had packed, but it was for the camping trip with my friends, and not for wherever Kado was planning to take me. We typically went camping every summer, though I had the impression it wasn't the plan for this trip when he told me to bring anything that had value to me. Part of me wondered if he was intending on coming back.

"Kado, my friends and I planned a camping trip to celebrate our graduation, and I'd really like to go."

His eyes narrowed. "Where?"

Somehow my request didn't seem to surprise him, so I felt my first spark of hope. "Luten Isle."

"Absolutely not."

"Why?" I asked, my hope fading.

"Auren, I have told you we are leaving Appolia in the morning."

Appolia was the largest island in the north, and capital of the Coalition. It also happened to be the coldest place on the planet. Why Kado had chosen to live here I would never understand.

"Can't we leave next week, so I can at least spend time with my friends?"

"No," he said, and went back to his book. His subtle dismissal was his way of telling me the conversation was over, but he seemed to be considering letting me go for a moment. His final decision had nothing to do with the trip he had planned.

"What's wrong with Luten Isle?" I asked, hoping I wasn't pushing my luck too far. I was always told that ‘no’ was not an invitation for further argument, and making him angry would be counterproductive to my cause.

Kado set his book down on the small table between the two chairs, then sat forward with his forearms resting on his knees. "You know very well it's too close to the Galvadi border."

"So? You took me there last year. What difference does it make?"

"The difference is, I won't be there."

I would have told him to come with us, but that would have defeated the whole purpose of the trip, which was to get away from parental figures. I didn't think my friends, Deakan and Jade, would want him along anyway. Kado intimidated them. Then again, he intimidated most people. It could have been his size. He dwarfed most tall men, and while sitting he was taller than I was when standing. Although, it could have also been the fact that he always appeared to be in a bad mood.

"Why don't you trust me?" I asked under my breath.

Kado sighed and rubbed his forehead as though soothing a headache. "It's not a matter of trust, Auren."

"What then?"

"It's not safe for you there."

“I'm not helpless,” I said, groaning. He had been training me for as long as I could remember to protect myself, so it seemed to me a pretty lame excuse.

"I know you're not, but it's my duty to protect you, and I can't do that if you're over a hundred kilometers away."

There was something going on he wasn’t telling me. Granted, he was normally overprotective, but something else was motivating his decision. I wished he would just tell me what it was. "What do you need to protect me from?"

"You'll understand soon enough," Kado said. "Go pack."

I started to say something else, but my mind abruptly went blank, and I lost interest in the conversation. Jade would be waiting for my call anyway. I rang her from my bedroom.

"He said no, didn't he?" Jade asked after hearing my voice.

I snorted. "How'd you guess?"

"How brave are you feeling at the moment?"

I narrowed my eyes even though she couldn't see me. She was scheming, which meant I would, no doubt, end up in trouble. "Why?"

"Can Kado hear you?"

"Most likely."

"Okay, well that explains your short answers. What if we were to come and get you tonight? Do you think you could sneak out?"

I took a moment before answering, so I would be able to focus on keeping the excitement out of my voice. "It's possible."

"After midnight?"

"Sure." Kado was almost always asleep by then, so that might work.

"Okay, see ya then."

"Have fun on the camping trip," I said, sounding as forlorn as possible just in case Kado was listening.

Jade giggled as she disconnected on her end. All I had to do now was to come up with a way to sneak out. He would hear me if I tried to go through the house. I could move like a ghost in more ideal conditions, but nothing would stop the creaking and groaning of the old floorboards. Although, thanks to Kado's training, leaving through the second story window in my bedroom shouldn't be too difficult. Finally, it was proving useful for something.

That night I laid awake in bed waiting for Kado to go to sleep. I left the window open, even though it was a chilly night, so I wouldn't have to risk having it squeak and wake Kado. The clock ticking in the hallway was a constant reminder of the passing of time. I was afraid he might stay up the entire night, until I heard his light padding as he came up the stairs. I closed my eyes and pretended to be asleep in case he checked on me. His footsteps stopped outside my door. At first he did nothing, so I thought he would head to bed, but then the door opened. The light that spilled into my room gleamed through my eyelids, tempting me to open them to see what he was doing. Then a floorboard creaked near my bed, reminding me I was supposed to be fooling him into believing I was asleep.

I struggled to keep my breathing even. The shadow hovering over me and blocking the light coming in from the hallway made me suspect Kado stood right next to me. The musky scent of his aftershave confirmed that fact. I flinched when his hand rested on my shoulder. I wasn't expecting the touch.

"Nice try, Auren."

I opened my eyes and tried to respond, but my voice wouldn't work. I expected Kado to be angry, but he looked amused. After a moment, his face faded and everything went dark. It seemed like seconds had passed when I heard something hitting my window. I forced my eyes open, but I was so groggy it took me a moment to be able to keep them from closing again. Where was Kado? My room was dark, and the house was quiet. He must have gone to bed, but I didn't remember him leaving.

I heard another clink from the window. I sat up, ignoring the chill as I walked over to see what was making the noise. Kado must have closed it, but he was already aware I was up to something, so I would need to be extremely quiet. I inched the window open as slowly as possible, and miraculously succeeded in not making a sound. Sighing in relief, I poked my head outside just in time to have something hard hit my forehead.

"Ow, damn it. Watch it!" I cursed wordlessly at my slip up, and listened to make sure I didn't wake Kado. The house remained silent, so I tossed my backpack out the window into Deakan's waiting arms. I grabbed a hair band off my dresser, so I could tie it back and keep it out of my face. The wind rocked the branch of the tree outside my window, but I watched the pattern of its movement. When I was sure I could make the jump without missing the limb, I climbed onto the window ledge and leapt. My feet landed on the branch, and I managed to keep my balance despite the bouncing. Jade let out a squeak. I would have rolled my eyes if I wasn't trying to focus on getting to the ground in one piece. When it stopped shaking, I checked to see if anyone was below me and began my final swing toward the ground.

Deakan held up a hand in warning. "Wait, there's a—"

It was too late. I had already let go of the branch. I braced for impact against the hard ground, but instead the ground gave way and my feet sank as though I had landed in quicksand.

“Mud puddle," Deakan said.

My shoes sloshed as I stepped out of the slick and onto the hard cement. I sniffed. "Are you sure that's mud?"

Deakan snickered. "It's a good thing you're not a girly-girl."

I punched him in the gut. I didn't think I hit him that hard, but he wrapped his arms around his middle and hunched over, taking a couple of deep breaths.

"Oops, sorry." I covered my mouth with a hand to hide the smirk.

"So violent!" Deakan swung my backpack toward my head, but I caught it before it made contact. Regrettably, I didn't anticipate the momentum of the strap and it smacked my face.

Jade giggled.

"Shh," I said as I pointed toward Kado's window.

"Right, sorry."

I followed Deakan and Jade as they led the way to his father’s hydrocar. Deakan was tall, but nowhere near as tall as Kado. Still, he quite often used my head for an armrest. Jade looked like a midget next to him, but they had matching blond hair and pale skin. They looked like typical Appolians. He had parked his vehicle down the road in the shadow between the street lamps. It was a good thing, too, because he demanded I change out of my muddy clothing first, and I didn’t need a spotlight for that show.

I pulled out a clean set of track pants before throwing my backpack in the trunk. My shirt was free of mud, so at least I'd be spared having to expose my top half. I didn't have another pair of shoes with me, so I'd have to go barefoot for a while. Deakan stood on the opposite side of the hydrocar facing away from us, while I stood between the opened front and rear doors. Jade held her sleeping bag over the gap, but even with the cover, dressing on the side of the road would be awkward. My only other option was to risk going back into the house, but I didn't want to press my luck. It was a miracle I had made it out of the house without Kado knowing.

Before I took off my pants, I looked up and down the road. The houses were dark, so I hoped it was safe to assume the neighbors were all sleeping. I could imagine the look on Kado's face if he heard from one of them I had exposed myself in public. I sat on the back seat of the hydrocar and removed the muddy shoes, socks and pants, placing them in the laundry bag I brought with me. Goosebumps formed on my legs before I had the chance to cover them with my clean ones, and I was already shivering.

It may have been early summer, but the nights were still cold this far north. In fact, there was still patches of snow on the ground where the larger mounds hadn't quite melted, yet. We were lucky to even have summers. North of us, in the higher elevations, the snow covered the ground all year. That was one of the reasons my friends and I had decided to go to Luten Isle. It was as far south as we could go without crossing the border into the Galvadi Empire, the enemy of the Coalition for all intents and purposes. Luten Isle might still be a bit cool this time of year in the evenings, but at least it was warmer than Appolia, and during the day it might even be warm enough to swim.

I threw my laundry bag into the trunk with my backpack, and then climbed into the back seat of the hydrocar. Deakan and Jade sat up front, which didn't bother me. I'd have plenty of room for stretching out. It was the most comfortable vehicle I had ever been in. A soft leather, with cushions so supple it was like floating on a cloud, covered the seats. I leaned toward the front to ogle the controls on the dashboard, which lit up more brightly than a star filled sky. The outside of the hydrocar was pretty typical, with its boat meets car look, except it had no wheels. The newer models didn’t need them because they employed a new technology that used the planets magnetic field to make the vehicles seem to just float in the air. It was similar to trying to push two magnets with the same polarization toward each other.

"How did you talk your dad into letting you take this?" I asked in wonder. His dad coveted his possessions, and I never imagined he’d let Deakan drive his hydrocar, much less leave Appolia with it.

"I promised to go to the Appolian Institute of Science and Technology. He wants me to go to officer school like my older brother instead of enlisting in the army. Something about there being more prestige as an officer."

"Wow, you? An officer? What happened to being a big time killing machine?"

"I can still be a killing machine."

"Science and technology," Jade pointed out.

"Yeah, you'll probably end up in a lab somewhere."

Deakan tapped a few buttons on a control panel on the steering column and the hydrocar started gliding down the road. It even had auto drive. I was instantly jealous. Why couldn’t Kado buy something like this? His hydrocar was ancient, although in this case it might work in our favor. It had wheels, and he had to switch from land to water mode manually, which made the process of entering and leaving the water much slower. Even if he did follow us, he'd have a hard time keeping up once we left the island.

Deakan turned in his seat so he was facing both Jade and I. "Whatever. Officers have combat training too. So what took you so long, Auren?"

"How long were you waiting for me?"

"About two hours," Jade said.

"Seriously, guys?"

They nodded.

"Damn, I'm sorry. Kado came into the room, and he knew I was up to something. I must have fallen asleep while waiting for him to leave."

"When's he gonna give you a break? Even my dad thinks he's overbearing, and that's saying something," Deakan said.

"Why don't you just run away from home and start a new life somewhere else?" Jade suggested.

I shrugged. "It’s complicated."

"What’s so complicated?" Deakan asked.

I pulled a lock of my dark hair into my mouth and started chewing. Part of me longed for that kind of freedom, but it felt wrong. Despite Kado's emotional distance and lack of affection, I knew he cared about me. If he didn't, he wouldn't have heeded my father's dying wish to raise me, and he wouldn't be taking the time to teach me all he knows. Kado never told me how my father died, but I was aware that he had given his life so I could live. If I ran away I would be tarnishing my father's memory, and betraying the man who has dedicated himself to raising another man's child. I couldn't bring myself to do that, but I didn’t know how to explain my feelings to my friends.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Tales from the Mists Featuring Brent A. Harris

Brent A. Harris is an author of Alternate History and SciFi/Fantasy. He has a story, The Bear Trap Grave, published in the anthology, Tales from the Tavern. His first book, A Time of Need, is an alternate history of the American Revolution in which George Washington fights alongside the Imperial Forces. He has recently stretched into writing horror in, The Server of Souls, in the newly released anthology, Tales from the Mists.

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About the Book

Tales from the Mists is a collaborative horror anthology from writers around the globe. It features five frightful stories of the strange and cerebral. Our authors and stories: Alei Kotdaishura, writes about the worst monster of them all--your boss, in The Beast. Brent A. Harris gives a nod to classic, cerebral Twilight Zone stories, in The Server of Souls. Leo McBride, writes of a local urban myth in his adopted home in The Bahamas in, The Chickcharney. Morgan Porter, offers up a more Lovecraftian tome in, The Pillar of Hendarac, and Ricardo Victoria mixes Mexican mythology with tales of the Ancient Ones in, Bone Peyote.

Buy the Book on Amazon!

An Interview with Brent

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Because writing lets me say what I want to say about the world in the best way I know how. I could be a cook, but then all I could say is that I like to eat. Besides, I can't cook. I'm pretty much left with writing as my only option.

What genres do you write?

Alternate History is my primary genre. My first book, A Time of Need, is currently being shopped around to agents. I'm working on my second alternate history book now.

Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?

Horror. It isn't in my wheelhouse. But there is no good reason it shouldn't be. It's a difficult genre to write and I've given it my best shot. I'm excited and a little bit nervous to find out what readers think.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

There are too many to list, but essentially, if I've read something someone has written, then it has influenced me (even if it reminds me of what NOT to do).

Harry Turtledove and all alternate history authors inspired me to write in that chosen genre. If I hadn't picked up one of Turtledove books, then my life would be different in ways I can't necessarily predict. 

Joss Whedon, Drew Goddard, Greg Berlanti, Bruce Timm, Michael Crichton are all of the influential writers in my life. But there are many, many more.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

I'd choose Joss Whedon, James Gunn, or any of Whedon's acolytes. They understand the discipline of writing and they posses the discipline to write.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?

My ultimate goal as a writer is to repay the author's that have ultimately inspired me. I was that kid wandering the library looking for a good book to read. I hope to pass on that experience by having someone pick up and be inspired by something I've written, so that someday, they'll pass it on themselves. Maybe that will happen in five years, maybe that will happen long after I'm gone. Who knows?

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

Like any goal, you have to have support. I'm lucky that I have both my friends and family that support me. But I still have to be selfish around my writing time. It's difficult to write even with the support of family, so I can't imagine how it can be done without a group of people who share your goals.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

The best advice I've ever heard: If you want to be a better writer, then read book written by authors better than you. Really, that's good advice for anything. If you want to be better at something, find somebody better than you. If you want to sell more cars than anyone, train under the best car salespeople. If you want to be the best chess player, then play against people who can beat you.

What is the worst writing advice you've ever received?

Keep writing. I really hate that phrase. It's bad advice. It's like telling a basketball player who missed the last ten shots to keep shooting baskets. If each shot isn't being done with the correct technique and an eye toward improvement, all you are doing is reinforcing the wrong way of doing something.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Reading seems the obvious answer. But really, I'm a family guy at heart. I enjoy spending time with them. Usually, it's something at home, like family game night or movie night. Left to my own devices, I'd probably disappear into my sofa on a Netflix binge, so it's probably better that I'm with my family.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

  1. Jurassic Park
  2. The Silmarillion
  3. How Few Remain (all 9 books if I could) (Turtledove)
  4. The Hand of Thrawn Trilogy (Timothy Zahn) (since I broke the rules already)
  5. The first season of The Flash (since the rules have been thrown out the window)

What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?

I can't say that I re-read too much. There is too much new stuff to read and discover.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?

An entire bookshelf, at least. I'm horrible about buying books, stacking them in some sort of 'order' then scoffing at said order as I buy a new stack of books.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

You have to have an outline. You have to have some guiding beacon, even if it is just the green light on the dock at the other end of the water. If you don't know where you are headed, how will you know you've arrived? Write the end first, sketch an outline. You don't have to stick with it, so long as you revise your outline as you revise your thoughts and ideas.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Too long and not long enough. My first book was very research intensive. Now that I'm essentially done with the book, I want to go back and change things. I want to make Greedo shoot first and have the Ewoks blink. But I keep telling myself to put it down.

How do you come up with the titles for your books? Do you find it difficult?

Titles, like everything, will manifest themselves when they are ready and when you have done enough work to trigger that epiphany. My first title, a Time of Need, took months before I hit upon it. Dark Eagle, the title of my second book, was decided upon during the writing of the first. It's an organic process. Like the force, let it flow within you.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

Thank you for taking the time and making the decision to read the short stories from our anthology. I know you will find a story that you enjoy and I hope that you'll share that experience with others. I also hope that when my alternate history book, A Time of Need, is ready to go off into the world, you'll already be familiar with me and my work and be eager to dive into its pages. Thank you for that support, without it, we are just writing words in the wind.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Omega Plague: Collapse by P.R. Principe

P. R. Principe has served on active duty as a commissioned U.S. Air Force officer and has lived in Italy, France, and the United States. In between writing and contemplating civilization's collapse, he spent time in Glastonbury, England, learning to forge a broadsword, and obtained his amateur radio license.

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About the Book

An airborne strain of the AIDS virus decimates humanity. Bruno Ricasso, an Italian cop, a Carabiniere, struggles to survive on the island of Capri while Europe erupts in flames and society crumbles. But when his solitary existence is broken, Bruno returns to the empty city of Naples in search of answers.

Can Bruno find a way to stay alive in the ruins of civilization? Or will Bruno's past sins prove even more deadly than the Omega Plague?

Get it today on Amazon!

An Interview with the Author

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I thought it would be a fine accomplishment just to write a novel, like running a marathon, but I never dreamed I would actually ever finish it, writing it at night, here and there. Though I've written on various subjects as part of my “day” jobs over the years, I haven’t done any creative writing since I was in grade school. For me, it's milestone, and I’m pleased just to have it finally done.

What genres do you write?

So far, just the post-apocalyptic/dystopian thriller-type genre. I don't think I could do hard scifi or fantasy very well. I'm attracted to post-apocalyptic/dystopian because I think it's interesting to put regular people in extraordinary situations and see what see who becomes a hero and who becomes a monster.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

I’ve read quite a bit of post-apocalyptic fiction over the years, but a colleague of mine who read Omega Plague: Collapse told me it was like The Road meets Earth Abides. They are two great books, and if those are my influences, then that’s great. Also, A Canticle for Leibowitz and Alas, Babylon. Nothing like some nuclear hellfire and brimstone to liven up the Apocalypse! In particular, something about the nature of A Canticle for Leibowitz speaks to me. In some ways, its epic scope is reminiscent of Tolkein as he too describes the rise and fall of societies over thousands of years of history.

If you could choose an author to be your mentor, who would it be?

Hmm. So many fine authors to choose from, but most of all, I would loved to have met J.R.R. Tolkein. He knew how to make a world, not just craft a story.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

As soon as I uploaded the ebook to this past July!

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

I'd definitely want some practical books, something like The S.A.S. Survival Handbook by John "Lofty" Wiseman and When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin, so I could make sure I had some survival tips! Then I'd want the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. Reading them takes a long time, which is good if one is stuck on a deserted island!

What book or series do you enjoy reading over and over again?

I could read the Lord of the Rings again and again. I'd better like it, since I'd take it on a deserted island with me! Also, the Shannara series by Terry Brooks. I admire authors who write good high fantasy, since I think it is such a tough genre in which to write. I think that both series have a touch (and with Shannara more than a touch!) of the post-apocalyptic to them. Probably explains why I like them!

What made you decide to self-publish?

I really didn't want to be bothered with the whole process of submitting queries. Of course, a publishing house takes care of editing expenses, cover art, etc, but beyond that, I don't think that traditional publishers do much beyond getting a physical book on the shelves of bookstores. How much marketing do they really do for authors that aren't on their "A" list? I also decided that I wanted to have total control of the process, from choosing the editor to the cover designer.

What is your writing process?

Wait until everyone else is asleep, pour a glass of wine, and start typing on the computer. Sometimes I'll listen to classical music, sometimes ambient music; other times dark ambient music, for that post-apocalyptic vibe.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I'm a pretty much a total "pantser." I don't have an outline, other than a general idea of where the story is going. Sometimes I have a very clear idea for a scene or chapter. But many times, I’ll just write and see where it leads. If I get an idea for a scene/character, I have a running list of notes at the end of the transcript.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Omega Plague: Collapse took about four years, since I only write at night. Another reason it took so long was that I envision the story as I go, so I make changes on the fly. Hopefully it makes for a dynamic story. But I also think it takes longer to write that way.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

Someone I know from a previous job wrote a review on Amazon wondering if the main character was really my alter-ego. I can say categorically he is not, since, while I wrote the book, I had in mind the actor I thought could play him! But I don't think there is any question authors do put some of themselves into the characters. I'd also say that some of the characters are have bits, here and there, of people I've known.

What are you working on now?

Started the sequel. I hope it doesn't take me another four years!

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

Even when I have time, actually finding the discipline to sit down and write is quite painful. There are always a million other things to do, and they all seem easier than writing!

Do you have any advice for other authors?

People have come to me and said they have ideas for a story, but don't know how to start. I think the answer is simply: start writing. Don't wait for inspiration. Trust that ideas will come as you are writing. If you wait for inspiration, you might wait forever.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Matanzas Moon by Elizabeth Raven

Elizabeth Raven is a wife, mother, and Veterinary Professional hovering in the shadows and moonlight of relentlessly sunny Jacksonville, Florida. Daylight hours are spent indoors working, reading, cooking, or spending time with family, friends, and her four black cats. Otherwise, she can be found dancing, socializing or joining Ghost Tours whenever her imaginary friends let her out to play!

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About the Book

Free-spirited Bridget Quinn is keenly aware that she has always been slightly off-center from her peers. She’d honed her skills in Palmistry, Tarot, and Astrology since the tender age of nine. Plagued by night terrors involving deceased pets she attended as a Veterinary Technician while applying to Vet School, she decides to pack her three black cats and move to St. Augustine, FL to open Lunatique, a New Age/Metaphysical store in the heart of the Historic District. Living in our nation’s oldest, and notoriously haunted, city Bridget is unable to deny her newly discovered gift of clairvoyance. Her hopes of a quiet life of introspection are shattered as a spirit clamors for her assistance. When her attempts to help implicate her in the ghastly murders at Flagler College, Bridget finds herself caught in a web of mystery and mayhem. Her heart dangling between Nick Maddox, the compellingly attractive but rigorously skeptical police officer, and RIP Ryder, a witty and rascally hearse-driving ghost tour guide, Bridget endeavors to stop the madness as the body count rises.

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An Interview with Bridget Quinn from Matanzas Moon

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

I was born in Jacksonville, FL but grew up in Interlachen, FL (a small town near Gainesville, FL). It's a sleepy lake town. As a red-head I spent my time in the lake in the evenings and early mornings. That's OK because I had several imaginary friends to play with since my older sisters were busy with their own interests.

Who was your best friend growing up?

My imaginary friends were my best companions. I met many over the years, but I had three main ones. It's funny looking back on all that, knowing what I know now...

If you could compare yourself to someone from another novel, who would it be? What are your similarities and differences?

Dare I say Scarlett O'Hara? I can't possibly compare, but to note a few similarities we share: We're both fiercely independent, and we both have impetuous tempers!

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

Umm, well... I don't have a specific enemy per se. I guess, most recently, it would be Missy Dean. Mainly because she tried to kill me! It's weird though. I don't agree with all her actions, but since I found out what happened to her and *why* she did what she did... I can't say I blame her! Live and let live, I say… except when someone is trying to kill people!

Who do you most admire in your world? Why?

Healers. They selflessly give of themselves to help repair those around them, regardless of classifications like age, species, or if they have a pulse...

What are your goals? What would you like to achieve?

I want to make Lunatique a huge success. Maybe expand to a chain! Also, I haven't completely given up on Vet School... I may reapply in a few years...

What is the most important lesson you've learned about life?

Life is a dynamic process. We should step out of our comfort zones to grow and improve. Otherwise, we become stagnant.

Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?

Oh! So complicated! It’s so hard choosing between two ridiculously hot guys that are basically polar opposites of each other! Do you choose RIP? (The fun, jokey guy that validates your beliefs and psychic gifts, but has a known reputation as a local Ladies Man). Or Nick? (The infuriatingly rigid, but compellingly magnetic police officer that makes you feel like a complete airhead one minute, and a wanton cat in heat the next). I’ll let you know when I figured it all out!

What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?

Goth, Bo-Ho, Hippy-Chic, with a touch of Vintage (especially for dates).

What is your favorite food? If it's an usual one, could you describe it for us?

I try to live cruelty free. I choose cruelty free cosmetics and household items. I tried veganism a few years ago, but it just was too limited for my system. I got sick. So, I try to limit animal protein to fish and eggs. But I will occasionally eat turkey, chicken, and rarely beef.

What do you own that would be hardest to part with? Why?

Well, I would say my cats... but I don't consider myself their *owner*. We have an open agreement. If I had to pick one possession I could not part with, it would be my Robin Wood Tarot deck. I've owned it since I was 12 and it has guided me and my friends through many predicaments.

What was your greatest achievement?

My Bachelors in Animal Science and Biology from UF. But, when I didn't get into Vet School, I redirected my career to open Lunatique, a metaphysical store in Historic St. Augustine, FL.

Name some of your bad habits.

I need to stop smoking and drinking so much... I know healthier ways to manage stress. I really should meditate more, but sometimes it's just easier to go out and drink and dance my troubles away!

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be? Why?

My temper. I am way too sensitive sometimes. I hear something that strikes me as an insult and I freak out, before I determine intent. I really need to get a handle on that.

Would you ever or have you ever lied? How do you feel about lying?

Not a fan of blatant lies. I have, on occasion, relied on semantics to save me from an outright lie of omission...

Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Troubles by Connie Johnson Hambley

Connie Johnson Hambley grew up on a small dairy farm just north of New York City. In 1965, an arsonist burned her family's barn to the ground. From that experience grew the story that became "The Charity." Hambley writes about strong women from their perspective in situations that demand the most from them. No special powers, no gadgets, no super human abilities. Just a woman caught up or embroiled in something that she has to get out of, hopefully alive. Every bit of personal experience is used to create a story that is as believable as it is suspenseful. Using her law and investment background in ways unique, creative, but not altogether logical, Hambley has enjoyed robust professional pursuits that include writing for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Nature Biotechnology. Experience at a major bank in Boston introduced her to clever schemes dreamed up to launder money.

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She has one public event and several private events each month. Check out her Events tab on her website for more information!

About the Book

"The Troubles" is a high-concept suspense novel that views the conflict in Northern Ireland through the prism of American involvement. This sweeping, multi-generational tale gives witness to the delicate and dangerous layers inside an ever-unfolding world. Jessica Wyeth refuses to be a fugitive hiding under assumed identities. Through sheer grit, she struggles to reclaim her life only to discover what she wants is an illusion. She is not the child of the picture-perfect New England family, but an unwanted castaway. Her frail and reclusive aunt died without exposing the secret that she was Jessica’s mother. Jessica travels to Ireland—her mother’s home—to learn why. When Jessica rides in a world-class steeplechase, she is unwittingly used as an accomplice in a devastating bombing in an English shopping mall. The group behind the bombing is the Charity, a generations old support network of the IRA. Michael Conant, reluctant heir to the Charity and Jessica’s lover, must choose his allegiance to his violent family legacy or the woman he loves. Meanwhile, Jessica’s fight for her life leads her to uncover her mother’s secrets and the divided soul of the Irelands.

Get it today on Amazon!

If you haven't read it yet, you can also get the first book in the series, The Charity, on Amazon!

An Interview with Jessica Wyeth, the main character from The Troubles:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

Oh, er, you've already stumped me. I thought I was born in the US to Margaret and Jim Wyeth. Turns out, Margaret and my mother, Bridget, were sisters. Bridget gave me away so I could be brought up in a little town just north of Boston, Massachusetts. My family raised and raced thoroughbreds and our farm there was considered one of the best anywhere. I was a bit of a hellion, so having lots of space around me was perfect. Growing up there, I know now, was a gift I'm very grateful for.

What is the happiest memory from your childhood?

It has to be riding bareback along the beaches near my home. I would scare my parents to death with crazy stunts, but I knew I could handle any horse even before I was eight years old. Riding horses through any kind of terrain was a huge rush for me. Still is.

Who was your best friend growing up?

Geez! These questions! You're killing me here! Anna was my partner in crime in all things "Stupid Teen." We would skip school and the cops would find us and bring us home. Hiding in the hayloft and listening to conversations was the best. She was the best. I'll never forgive myself for her death.

If you could compare yourself to someone from another novel, who would it be? What are your similarities and differences?

Whoa, boy. I feel like my world is one big tornado with me swirling around inside of it. Maybe I'm like Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz." No sooner do I settle into a place that things start happening to me that I have to make sense of. Dorothy didn't get rattled and stayed focused on getting herself back to Kansas. I'm doing the same thing, but I don't know where my "Kansas" is.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

That's just it. I'm not sure who my enemies are. When I was 21, I witnessed a murder. A Boston cop and wealthy businessman framed me for it and tried to have me killed. They killed Anna instead. I thought I was in the clear, but I've been attacked and kidnapped, my barn was set on fire, and I have the feeling more people hate me for reasons I barely understand. I REALLY hate reporters. They're bottom-dwelling blood suckers who hound me for a scoop. I just want to be left alone.

Who do you most admire? Why?

I admire my biological mother, Bridget. What I saw as weakness was true strength and grace in the face of unimaginable pain. Now that I know what happened, I wish I could tell her how much I appreciate what she did for me.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?

Yes. I loved Margaret and Jim as any kid would love her parents. I had a special needs sister, too, named Erin. I loved them each very much and I felt cherished by them. I was closer to the Wyeth's than I was to my Aunt Bridget. Margaret, Jim, and Erin were killed in a car accident when I was ten years old and Aunt Bridget came to live with me on the farm. She was pretty frail and I gave her a run for her money by skipping school and all the stuff that goes with being a teen. I didn't get to know her well.

What is your greatest fear?

I have two fears. The first is that I'll never be safe. What I've seen and knowing who my real parents are, I think that my mere existence is a threat certain groups can't tolerate. My second fear is that I'm in love with the wrong man. As much as he tries to protect me, the closer I get to him, the more evil enters my life. I'm terrified.

What is the most important lesson you've learned about life?

Things are not always what they appear to be. Stay diligent.

Where is the best place to visit? What places should visitors avoid?

I've lived all over the US and love the west. My new farm in the hills of Kentucky is the only place I can call home now. I loved my time in the Irelands, though. The stone circle by my cottage in north west Ireland is an enchanted place. You have to go there yourself to feel the energy of it. At the heart of Northern Ireland is Lough Neah. I've spent many wonderful hours exploring it's shores.

Do you have any hobbies? What are they?

My passion is riding and training and horses. I'm good at it. Really, really good.

Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?

Yeah. Michael Conant. Or is his name Connaught. We understand one another because our pasts are something we have to deal with and separate from. I'm not sure he's as determined to have his own life as I am.

What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?

Jeans. Man-tailored cotton buttoned-down shirt. Maybe tucked in. Maybe not. Boots, sometimes western. Belt is usually a stirrup leather. Hair pulled back with a leather lace. My fingernails are always dirty.

What is your favorite food?

Coffee. Lots of it.

Would you ever or have you ever lied? How do you feel about lying?

Hell yeah, I've lied plenty. When you are framed for murder and your face is plastered everywhere, you learn how to survive. Changing my appearance and names and learning how to lie is essential for survival.

If you had one day left to live, what would you do with your last day?

I would spend it with my mother, Bridget. I would thank her and tell her I love her. I would tell her I'm sorry for all the s@@t I gave her. I would listen to the stories of her life without judgement. I would hug her and kiss her.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Rooter: Sophie's Obsession by Teiran Smith

Teiran's days are filled with writing. When she's not writing, she's reading. She can get so lost in a story, be it one of her own or someone else's, that she won't even break away to eat, drink, or take a bathroom break. By the time Teiran gets up from a story, she's usually dizzy from low blood sugar, suffering blurred vision, and hunched over from a painfully full bladder. It's safe to say the written word is her life.

Whenever Teiran's not writing or reading, you will find her working out, enjoying outdoor photography, partaking in a little wine (okay, okay... a lot) with good friends.

Teiran resides in Grand Haven, Michigan with her husband, Scott, and their four legged child, Sasha.

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More About the Author

Why did you decide to be a writer?

Because I can't not write. It's that simple. It's my passion. It's what I live to do.

Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?

I am writing full time. My husband has been gracious enough to let me take the time off to focus on my writing career and to make my dream of becoming a published author come true.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

For the New Adult genre, I have to say it's a toss up between Jamie McGuire and Colleen Hoover.

But the very first author who inspired me was Edgar Allen Poe followed by William Shakespeare and then Jane Austen.

When did you first consider yourself an author?

Just recently while working on publishing my debut novel.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?

My number one goal is to create an escape for my readers. So hopefully in five years time I will have built a strong readership.

What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?

The biggest obstacle procrastination. That and editing. I'm not a fan of the editing process, but it is a necessary evil.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

I received my greatest compliment from a reader who told me my book, Rooter, was her escape from caring for her terminally ill father. That reading my story got her through his passing.

Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique? How did you handle it?

Not yet, but I'm sure they're coming. Ha! I'm not sure how I will handle it, but I hope to use it as constructive criticism to improve my writing.

What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Hands down, the best writing advice I have ever received was to "just write." Don't worry about how bad it is, just get the story out while it's in my head. I can edit it later.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Aside from writing, I love, love, love to read. When I do manage to tear myself away from writing and reading, I enjoy landscape photography and this year started abstract painting.

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?

Right now I have 45 book on my to read list. I want to read the Flicker Effect Trilogy by Melanie Hooyenga. She's an author who lives in the same town as me. I also want to read Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover and Where She Went by Gayle Forman.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I did a ton of research on traditional and self publishing. I did query my dream agents and a couple publishing houses. I decided if I couldn't land one of them, I would do it on my own. I was never all that keen on traditional publishing to begin with. I am a bit of a control freak and like being in the driver's seat. With self-publishing, I'm writing my own destiny.

What fears do you have about writing and being an indie author? How do you cope with your fears?

I don't have any fears, believe it or not. Writing is a part of me. It's my dream to be a published author. I realize there will be people who hate my work, and hopefully there will be people who love it. I have extremely thick skin.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

Is it possible to be a combination of both? I sometimes write a general outline, but I'm much more character driven and I always know my beginning and ending before I start writing. I like to let my characters take me on their journey as I write. I do however create very detailed character profiles before I get started.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on the second book in the Double H Romance series, Rooter - Possessing Sophie. It's Sophie and Rooter's story told from Rooter's perspective.

Do you have anything specific you'd like to say to your readers?

Yes. I want to thank each and every one of you for spending your valuable time reading my story. I know how finite and precious time is and am honored you spent it on me.

About Teiran's Book, Rooter: Sophie's Obsession

At twenty one, Sophie has already endured enough pain and heartache to last two lifetimes. All she wants to do is create a normal, comfortable life for herself. She goes to college, works part-time, and leads a quiet, ordinary routine. So why is she so obsessed with Rooter, the alleged “vicious criminal” next door? She watches as he comes and goes. Watches him play with his pitbull. Watches him hang out in his backyard with other alleged criminals. 

After Sophie is attacked by her roommate Rooter swoops in to her defense. She quickly falls for Rooter, though he makes it perfectly clear she’s better off not knowing him. He's the worst kind of guy. Dangerous. And she is a good girl who deserves better. To Sophie’s chagrin, Rooter adamantly tries to put distance between them. 

When a pair of dangerous thugs break into her house and assault her in the middle of the night, Rooter comes to her rescue yet again. She is elated when Rooter finally confesses his feelings for her. They embark on a passionate relationship, but his deep, dark secrets, controlling tendencies, and crazy, pregnant ex-friend-with-benefits threaten to tear them apart. 

Just when it seems things can't get any worse, Sophie is accused of a brutal crime which pits Rooter against her. So when she gets attacked yet again, will he be there to protect her?

You can get the book today on Kindle and Paperback!

Available free on Kindle from the 15th to the 17th of October

Friday, 9 October 2015

Care Giving: Real Life Answers by Lacey Dancer

Sydney Ann Clary was born in Alabama, her first word was HI. Catholic school taught her the advantage of following the rules until she left home at eighteen.

Rebellion was never the issue. Wanting to try everything was. Love speed? Try flying over the water in an off shore racing boat or learning the intricacies of speed shifting from a NASCAR driver. Want to learn to ride horses? Start with a horse that bucks. "The trail boss had to cut my hands out of the mane. I was not coming off." 

Run out of books? "I'll just write my own." No training and no real thought about what I was doing, I picked up pencil and paper and got to work. I had such fun. The characters just grabbed me by the pencil and yanked me into their world. 

The day I finished I had a book order to collect. The owner of the store was a friend and asked what I had been doing. She had just been talking to a woman who had started a writers club. I could go and listen to other people writing books. Here was a source I had never considered. 

So off I went, clutching my story in hand. Nobody mentioned I would have to read ten pages of what I had written. I wanted to hide under the couch when the leader said,"let's hear yours". The couch was too low so I couldn't hide there. I read. No one said a word. The silence was awful. My writing had to be too. 

The minute the meeting was over I was ready to bolt. The host must have known. She got between me and the door. I swear she was part quarter horse cutting a hapless calf from the herd. "I'll send this to my agent". With those words she plucked my story out of my hands and I escaped. I sold four books that year. 

Lacey Dancer is one of the pen names for Sydney Clary She is an award winning author; Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Best All Around Series Author, 2 Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards, and 2 Woman of the Year Awards just to name a few. Although she is best known for her women's contemporary fiction she has also published two historical fiction novels. And now, after a 10 year hiatus to care for her aging family, she has added nonfiction to her list of accomplishments.

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About the Book

Are you facing the task of care for an aging relative, a child or loved one through a serious illness? This book is a real life approach to handling the multitude of problems that crop up each day. 

In your home, in a care facility and all the variations of care giving locations, there are ways to help those who matter to you and help yourself survive the stress and strain of care giving. 

  • How to wait in waiting rooms. 
  • How to find a new location for your loved one when the present situation no longer meets the needs of your relative or friend. 
  • How to handle medical insurance. 
  • How to handle home care. 
  • How to resolve problems with medical staff. 
  • How to get bills paid. 

There are answers for these issues and many others, real life answers that work. Need an idea or new avenue for that dead end you are facing as a care giver. 

The goal of this book is to provide those answers, those suggestions. Examples of use are in every chapter, real people dealing with problems and solutions. Some will make you smile, some will make you cry but each will show what can be done as you face this demanding and rewarding task in your own life.

Buy the Book on Amazon!

Excerpt from Care Giving: Real Life Answers

And this brings me to one of my few pet peeves, parenting the parent. This approach really should be revisited. When someone parents a child, that child has always been dependent on that person, he has never known independence. He looks to his parent automatically, through imprinting and training, to find his safety, his comfort and his security. An adult, one who has cared for you, wiped your nose, held your hand, loaned you money, listened to your troubles, is exactly the opposite, in my opinion. The chances of your mother or father happily settling in to being organized, prodded ever so gently or even not so gently, or worse, told what to do by you when his or her body is failing but the mind is still sharp, aren’t too great. Neither likes being dependent and each likes it even less when each is feeling death creeping closer. He or she is losing even the illusion of control over his or her own body. Doctors’ appointments, medications around the clock and you standing in the background parenting are NOT a good prescription for a happy life for any of you. 

Example: This situation is a bit funny in hind sight but it certainly was traumatic in the moment. Papa Clary had fruit trees in his tiny back yard. The orange tree was laden with the best oranges. He called my husband and asked him to harvest the fruit. It was mid-week and David was working overtime as well as going to school so he told his father he would be there first thing on Saturday as usual and he would get the fruit in before he did anything else. 

My father-in-law decided not to wait. Late in the afternoon, he put a ladder up in the center of the tree to pick the fruit. He fell through the tree. 

Thankfully it was only about twelve feet tall, and the branches broke his fall but they also ripped his ears off his cute little bald head. I received the call from the emergency room. David had just arrived home from work and dropped into bed for a quick nap. He had just worked about twelve hours. I woke him and he raced to the hospital while I stayed with the children. 

The rest of this tale, according to both men, went like this.

David: “You had no business getting on a ladder at your age. I told you I would pick the damn oranges.” 

Papa Clary: “Son, I knew you were working. I didn’t like bothering you and the fruit was ripening.” 

David: “You could have killed yourself. If you don’t promise me that you’ll stay out of the tree, I’ll cut the damn thing down.” 

Papa Clary: “It’s my house and my tree. If I want to climb it, I will.” 

My husband rarely cursed but he did that night. My father-in-law rarely confronted anyone, but he went toe to toe with his son over those oranges. Neither was given to sulking, but they gave new meaning to the word for the next week. 

Eventually, they made peace. David did the harvesting or I did. And Papa Clary’s ears grew back thanks to a really good surgeon. The moral of this story is: don’t expect your relative to listen like a child does most of the time. The next time, the ears may not grow back.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Out of Oblivion by Taren Reese Ocoda

Taren Reese Ocoda is actually a pen name I've decided to use for writing my sci-fi and erotic romance stories. I write fantasy under my real name and decided that I wanted to keep the two genres separate.

I live in Australia with my husband and daughter. I'm originally from America, but I moved out here a bit over ten years ago to be with my (now) husband. We met online and I came out here just for a visit so we could meet in person, and I've been here ever since. Ten years later we are still happily married, so we're living proof that it can work! :-D

We have two cats, named Padme and Anakin—you couldn't tell from that, that I'm a Star Wars fan—and two guinea pigs, named Sith and Prince.

I love to read fantasy mostly, but I've been reading more romance lately as a result of meeting some really good indie romance authors who turned me onto it. I'm very picky about what I read though. Anything I read has to have a great story with characters that feel real to me. Those are the stories that really draw me in.

They're also the kinds of stories I try (and hopefully succeed at) writing. I had some ideas for romance stories in mind, but for a long time I didn't think I had the skills to write one. I didn't want to do what everyone else was doing either. Now with the sci-fi romance genre out there, it's intrigued me enough to give it a try. So I really hope you enjoy!

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About the Book

When Haleigh Lucas is dragged to a party with her best friend, Alexis Dalton, she is shocked to find it was not the kind of party she was expecting. Forced into a world she never knew existed, Haleigh is faced with a choice.

Dominic Hansen is gorgeous and witty. Haleigh likes him immediately, but he is a Dominant, and she is not interested in being controlled. Kurt McCray gives her the creeps at first sight, but as she gets to know him, she decides her first impression was wrong. Although he is also into BDSM, he avoids the topic when Haleigh makes it clear she is not interested.

Though Haleigh feels more attracted to Dominic, Kurt seems to be the easier choice. She learns the hard way, the easier choice is not necessarily the best choice. After more than a year of forced slavery at Kurt's hands, Dominic rescues her, but now Haleigh feels she can never love again. How will Dominic win her trust and her love?

Disclaimer: This is not a "girl falls in love with her abuser" kind of story and it does have a happily ever after kind of ending. However, there are elements of kidnap, abuse, rape, and forced slavery. Do not buy this book if these themes offend or upset you.

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Excerpt from Out of Oblivion

I hated parties. I always have. It's not that I wasn't a social person. I didn't like loud, crowded spaces that reeked of smoke and stale alcohol with drunk and high people running around like idiots. And, okay, I wasn't a social person. I didn't mind spending time with friends, but most of the time I was happiest on my own, in my quiet room with a good book. My best friend, Alexis Dalton, on the other hand, was a complete social butterfly.

"We're going to a party tonight," Alexis announced the minute I walked through our shared dorm room's door as she primped herself in front of a mirror.

She wore her black mini skirt, which she could pull off with her body, and a black lace top with nothing more than a black lace bra underneath. She completed the ensemble with her favorite fishnet stockings and black high heeled boots. Alexis was planning to get laid, which meant one of two things. She would leave the party in tears, in which case I would spend the night trying to console her. Or she would stay the night, in which case I'd be too worried to leave her. Either way, if I went, I wouldn't be getting much sleep that night.

I groaned. "What party?"

"You remember Jason Hansen?"

I fell onto my bunk and pulled the pillow over my face. After the day I had, all I wanted was a nap. "You mean the junior you're all hot and bothered over and don't shut up about? Yeah. How can I forget?"

Alexis yanked the pillow away, rolling her eyes. "Well, yeah. He invited me, and I think he might finally ask me out."

"You keep saying that every time you invite yourself to whatever party he's planning to be at," I said as I lifted myself onto my elbows.

"Yeah, but this time I didn't invite myself. He told me he likes me, but he can't date me until I understand something about him."

I narrowed my eyes. "That sounds a bit ominous. What? Is he a vampire or something?"

"You read too much," Alexis said, then laughed. "So will you go?"

"If you're going with Jason, why do you need me there? I'm not in a party mood."

Alexis sighed. "You're never in a party mood, and Jason won't be there until later. He has to work, but he said I can go early if I want so I can… explore."

She knew more about this party than she was telling me. What could there possibly be to explore? It was a party. I started to object. There was nothing I wanted less right now than to be near other people.

"Please, Haleigh. I don't want to go alone." She got down on her knees, her hands folded in front of her chest as though she was praying.

I sighed. She would not give up. "You know you're a pain, right?"

"The biggest pain in the world. Please, please, please?"

"Fine," I said. I didn't like her going to parties alone anyway. Trouble seemed to follow her. "I'll go."

She jumped up and wrapped her arms around me. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. You won't regret it."

My gut told me I would.

"Okay, get dressed. We have to leave soon."

"I am dressed."

"Jeans and t-shirt is not dressed, Haleigh," Alexis scolded.

"It's just a party, right?"

She sighed. "Fine. Wear that. You might be the most covered person there. That won't draw attention."

She was trying to bait me into dressing up, but it wouldn't work. People ignored me at parties because I didn't dress up. It kept me safe. Well, until they were too drunk to care anyway.