Sunday, 31 January 2016

Cat Lady by Mary M Schmidt

Mary M Schmidt was a student in Rome during the '60s and came to know of the many colonies of feral cats living in the ruins of the empire. Today she is an author, poet, and has been a member of Poets Against the Iraq War. She shares her home near Washington DC with her cat Graycie.

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About the Book

To the average tourist in Rome, Maria may seem to be only an eccentric old lady who tends a colony of feral cats. But things are rarely as they seem. Maria has an amazing hidden talent. The cats are enchanted, too.

Maria has been given an urgent request from the great Cardinal Mezzaluna. No one else could possibly handle this. On the surface it seems flat-out impossible. But things are rarely as they seem. For those who truly love another, and place their trust in Cat Lady, the idea of "impossible" is only an illusion.

Get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu!

Keep reading for an excerpt:

“Your family is a splendid scene,” 
Maria tells the feline queen, 
“How goes it on this day for you?” 
Queen Bast then sighed, “If you but knew! 
I feel as if I could just drop! 
These kittens here? They never stop! 
The Colosseum, in its day, 
Did never see such a display! 
They have no concept of decorum, 
Running wild all through the Forum, 
Through the Senate! Round the column! 
Thanks to them, there’s nothing solemn, 
Earth the noble Caesars trod, 
Is now home to a kitten squad! 
They even pounce, with rapid spurts, 
Those tourists, in Hawaiian shirts!

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hesitation Wounds by Amy Koppelman

Amy Koppelman is a graduate of Columbia's MFA program. Her writing has appeared in The New York Observer and Lilith. She lives in New York City with her husband, Brian Koppelman, and their two children. Her previous novels are A Mouthful of Air and I Smile Back, slated for the Toronto Film Festival and general release in Fall 2015.

Amy also wrote ‘I Smile Back’ which was adapted into a film in 2015 starring actress/comedian Sarah Silverman. Sarah was recently nominated for a SAG award based on her performance of Laney.

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About the Book

The new novel by the author of I Smile Back, now a film starring Sarah Silverman. The acclaimed author of I Smile Back, Amy Koppelman is a novelist of astonishing power, with a sly, dark voice, at once fearless and poetic.

In Koppelman’s new novel, Dr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa is always ready to discuss treatment options, medication, and symptom management but draws the line at engaging with feelings. A strict adherence to protocol keeps her from falling apart.

But her past is made present by one patient, Jim, whose struggles tear open Susa’s hastily stitched up wounds, revealing her latent feeling that she could have helped the people closest to her, especially her adored, cool, talented graffiti-artist brother.

Spectacularly original, gorgeously unsettling, HESITATION WOUNDS is a novel that will sink deep and remain—like a persistent scar or a dangerous glow-in-the-dark memory.

Get it on Amazon!

Keep reading for an excerpt:

When I was a little girl, I would sit on the roof and watch you spin around in circles. Arms in air. Palms toward sky. You turned and turned without ever falling. I should have recognized your balance was superior to my own. Instead, I stood, moved my body as you did, round and round, and quickly sank to the ground. You joined me there, leaned back onto your elbows, and smiled at me as I worried about how long the world would spin. Yours rotated on a singular axis, which I, for many years, mistook for purpose.

Time spins until it stops spinning. That simple. Later. Older. High. We watched the world spin without our having to move. And now, all these years later—even with distance—it is, still. Perspective, I’ve learned, is intrinsic to equilibrium. Happiness, on the other hand, is a sole operator. Denying you—click clock—until you become older than you ever thought capable. Your hands protruding from dark sheets drag the covers up over your head as you ache to remember and forget. Uncertain as to which would be a better outcome.

The pink morning light casts a glow across the ceiling. I check the time. It’s 6:15 a.m. The train leaves at 8:15 a.m, so we have time. But not too much time. I swing my legs over the bed, grab my glasses. Today is your forty-fifth birthday. It’s hard to believe we haven’t seen each other in nearly twenty-eight years. I understand intellectually that twenty-eight years is a long time. I was a girl then. I’m a middle-aged woman now. But for some reason it doesn’t feel like a long time ago and I don’t feel old.

I guess there’s some kind of cognitive dissonance at work, because there are still moments when I’d swear you’re alive. Not whole, maybe, but pieces. On Halloween, for example, a three-foot-tall pirate—partial, I would soon discover, to Almond Joy bars— had your same dark and pensive eyes. I held out the candy bowl, he looked up at me, and in a flash, a split second between his hold off and my go ahead, you were alive.

What I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that time isn’t, for both good and bad, a linear construct. The past beats beneath the present, threatening to unmask and reveal my regret to the world, or perhaps worse, to the forty four-year-old woman who greets me every morning in the bathroom mirror. She too brushes her teeth, flosses twice a day, applies bleach strips to combat the inescapable decay. Cavities, receding gums, bone loss. The ability to delude oneself, and this I can validate from both professional and personal experience, is central to processing loss, yellow teeth enamel the least of it.

I keep two pictures beside my bed. One Margo sent a few weeks after your funeral. You’re sitting on the bench at 149th, watching a subway car pass through the station. It has “BENARD IS KING” painted in huge orange and blue block letters in honor of the Knicks’ legendary small forward. Just to the right, in smaller black letters, is your tag.

“JAKYL.” If you look closely, you can make out the shell toe of your Adidas resting atop a trashcan. What you can’t see is that my feet are resting there too. Margo wrote “Memory lives forever” on the back of the photo, which is really not true. Memory lives only as long as the people who remember.

I spin.

I am spinning.

A rhinoceros dances on his tippy-toes. A porcupine eats ice cream and I wait for you to return to me. Your face—I can reach out and nearly touch it before you fade. It will never be that we will age together. You eternally nineteen. I try to figure out still. What I missed. Words I let pass, smells I didn’t recognize, unfamiliar tastes and sounds. Each an opportunity I failed to seize. Each a possibility to save you. Although now, so many years, so many patients later, I am aware that treatment is not without consequence, death without promise, visions without meaning. And hand-holding is merely that.

You spin.

The foul-smelling summer envelops both moon and stars. You stand alone, nothing left to wish upon. But you insist. For what I’m still not sure. A sign of validation. A resuscitation of sorts? It doesn’t occur to me to ask. You reach for my hands and I reach back—ours an unconditional covenant—until you break it, letting go. You are spinning. Lightning bugs illuminating Kodachrome.

Your teardrops, embedded in dust, have scattered into places I have more and more difficulty accessing. Around the corner—through the door—the third page in the navy photo album. Thirty-five-millimeter film. Auto exposure mode. There you are: orange towel, blue trunks, a slight smile and sunburn. There you are again, seagulls surrounding you, a bag of potato chips dipped in ketchup—what book is that you’re reading?

And there I am. In the kitchen. A paper cup in chubby hands.

“Milk? Water? Apple juice?” Mom asks.

“Apple juice.”

She returns from the fridge with a large glass bottle.

“Mommy, how much do you love me?”

We face each other. The smell of freshly cut grass itching at my nose. I mention this because we are away on vacation. It’s a summer day, a beautiful summer day. The kind of day where people water flowers, paint houses, cut grass.

“How much do you love me?” I ask again.

“With my whole heart,” she answers.

“Then what about Daniel and Daddy?”

“I love them with my whole heart too.”

“How? How can you love all of us with your whole heart?”

“Well...” She takes a moment. “The heart isn’t like a Dixie cup. It doesn’t fill, it expands.”

And then. Space and time a defy-able entity. You and I are facing each other. You’re sipping a milkshake through a paper straw. Daniel Seliger, age eight, sips milkshake through a paper straw, and when the straw softens, when he can no longer draw the vanilla through, he begins to cry. I turn away. Memory is like this for me now. I can turn away from it. I repeat this thought out loud, as if the mere act of saying it, like an incantation, will transform the idea into reality. And because it’s true. I can do this now.

Most of the time.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Taming Shadows by Fiona Skye

Fiona Skye is a fantasy author, currently living in the deserts of Southern Arizona. She shares a home with her husband, two kids, three cats, two rats, a betta fish, and a Border Collie.

Fiona’s passion for story telling began early in life. She’s loved playing make-believe and inventing elaborate fantasy worlds for as long as she can remember. At age twelve, she wrote her first short story, which was based on a song by a 1980s hair band. After giving it to her English teacher for editing and rewrites, she learned to love the entire writing process, and has dedicated her life since then to writing, only to be occasionally distracted by her insatiable love of yarn and crochet, and the dogged pursuit of the perfect plate of cheese enchiladas.

She counts Diana Gabaldon and Jim Butcher as her favorite authors and biggest influences. Joining these two on the list of people she would wait in queue for a week to have a coffee with are Neil Peart, Kevin Hearne, and Brandon Sanderson.

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About the Book

Four years ago, crime beat reporter Riley O’Rourke changed the world. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely her fault.

Her mentor, a 3,000-year-old vampire, destroyed Tucson police headquarters during a fight with a sorcerer. Footage of the fight went viral on the internet, and the existence of Preternaturals—vampires, witches, and other were-animals like Riley—was revealed. Humans went a little crazy. The Cats—and Wolves—were out of the bag, and only an act of Congress stopped the chaos.

But not all the Preternaturals are happy with this new world order, however. The Queen of the Winter Faeries worries that exposing her hidden world will destroy it, and sends the nastiest storybook characters imaginable to kill Riley before she can out the Fair Folk, too.

The Summer Queen, Winter’s arch-rival, promises to protect Riley if she does her a teeny-weeny favor: break into Winter’s castle, sneak past creatures straight out of Riley’s nightmares, steal a magical mirror, and return it to Summer. All without Winter noticing.

Riley agrees to the favor—what choice does she have? But dealing with the Fae is always a double-edged sword, and the Summer Queen neglected to explain that if Riley successfully pulls off this heist, the entire world might end up on the edge of destruction.

Get it today on Amazon and Audible!

Keep reading for an interview with Fiona:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

When I was little, I spent a lot of time making up stories and different worlds for my friends and I to play in. One day, we'd be dogs lost in the forest and have to figure out how to survive. The next, we'd be characters from the movie Ladyhawke. We always had so much fun.

Then when I was about twelve or thirteen, I heard a song by a 1980s hair band that sparked something inside me. I sat down and wrote a short story based on the song, and then gave it to my writing teacher. She edited it and helped me polish it. When it was finished and I read it to my father, he was impressed by it and that got me hooked on writing.

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

I'm a freelance fiction editor. I specialize in sci-fi, fantasy, and other genres of speculative fiction.

What inspires you to write?

I find inspiration just about everywhere--other books, TV shows, films, songs, bits of conversations I overhear. I have so many ideas for future books that I'll probably still be writing on my deathbed.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

Jim Butcher and Diana Gabaldon.

The Dresden Files seem like light fare, something to read on the beach during summer, but if you really drill down, you quickly realize that these are incredibly complex and intricately plotted books. Things that Butcher hinted at in the first or second book come back in the twelfth or thirteenth and they're now BIG DEALS. I'm fascinated by Butcher's ability to weave plots.

The Outlander series is just perfect. Gabaldon has an amazing talent at creating characters and sucking the reader into history and making it real, breathing, history. And of course, her romance and intimate scenes are beautifully written.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd like to have two, maybe three, series published. The Revelations Trilogy is one book away from being finished. I'm currently working on a portal fantasy that I'd like to spin into a trilogy, and I have an idea for a five-book saga about a particular family and how they help the world recover from a nuclear war.

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

My husband and children are very supportive. They give me the time and space I need, and they tell everyone they know about my books.

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

I have a particular friend who is writing fan-fiction about two of my characters. This same friend has come up with the characters' ship name, and she bugs me about when the next book is coming.

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

I haven't really had any. I mean, I've received two- and three-star reviews, but they weren't particularly harsh. Mostly they helped me focus on things that I need to fix in my writing.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

I'm a crocheter. I love making stuff for other people and seeing their happiness when they receive it.

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

1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
2. Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
3. The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams
4. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
5. Catering To Nobody, by Diane Mott Davidson

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

There are about 40 to-be-read books on my Goodreads account, plus another 20 or so on my Kindle. Some of them are Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, RA Salvatore's Cleric Quintet, and Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I racked up 26 rejections for a very early book and it really got me down. I stopped writing for a while. Then in 2012, I finished the first book in my Revelations Trilogy and knew I didn't want to suffer through more rejections, so I researched self-publishing. The idea that I could control everything about my book was very appealing so I took the plunge and did it. I've never looked back.

What is your writing process?

It usually starts with a character who has a problem. Then I play a game of what if and spin out a more cohesive plot. After that, it's a matter of research and writing.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I think I'm a little bit of both. I have a vague outline in mind when I sit down to write, but mostly I just write and follow my characters.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The longest it's taken me to write was 22 months. The fastest was four months.

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

Sometimes I use anecdotes from other people's lives, but mostly everything comes from my imagination.

Have you ever wanted to put one of your characters together with a character from one of your favorite novels? What characters would you choose and how would their meeting go?

I've often wondered about how Harry Dresden and the main character of my Revelations trilogy, Riley, would get along. I think they'd either be instant best friends or they'd hate each other and constantly try to kill each other.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing a portal fantasy about a woman who wakes up in a completely different world, meets a prince who didn't want to become king, and helps him save his kingdom from invaders.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

The portal fantasy trope is a big cliche now, and I'm struggling to keep it fresh and make my book stand out from others with the same underlying plot.

How do you market/promote your work? Have you found something that works really well for you?

Word of mouth has been a godsend. It's really the only thing so far that's helped. Giveaways, book blog reviews, Facebook and Twitter have all driven traffic to my books, but I'm not sure how many people have ever actually bought one. A real person telling their friends to buy my book, though, has worked wonders.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Before you can become published, you have to actually write the book. Sit down and write it. Don't edit as you go, just take the time to get the first draft out of your head, imperfections and all. You'll do numerous rounds of revisions and editing, but you can't do that until you've written the first draft.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A Lovestruck Freshman by Caroline A. DeJong

Caroline A. DeJong grew up in Kent, Washington. Determined to get out of the rainy weather, she moved to Los Angeles for college, attending Loyola Marymount University, graduating with a B.A. in Screenwriting.

A lover of stories and books since early childhood, she proclaimed that she was going to be a writer at age 11; that dream hasn’t wavered since. DeJong also writes screenplays and short stories. In the time that she isn’t writing, she loves to watch television, cook new recipes, and dance. 

DeJong currently lives in Los Angeles. 

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About the Book

Eighteen-year-old Sophie Shelton has left behind her comfortable, naive life in Kissimmee, Florida for a startling awakening at the University of Miami. When she begins college, she’s determined to concentrate on her education and future career as a writer. However, her life takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself thrust into a world she never knew existed.

Immersed completely in a world of sex, love, and cutthroat Greek life, she finds herself dating the freshman quarterback, yet developing feelings for his best friend. Her own best friend advises Sophie to stop leading the two guys on, but she finds that her heart is torn. She knows her path could go either way based upon a seemingly simple choice. Who does her heart belong to? Will she be able to make the choice?

A Lovestruck Freshman, book one in the These Four Years series, will cause you to fall in love with the angst and joy of college, and understand the difficulty of Sophie’s predicament at the center of a love triangle.

Get it today on Amazon 

and Barnes and Noble!

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Chapter 1

IT’S A DAY kind of like Christmas. Everyone is excited for the morning activities. You open up your thirty-something presents, hoping that your dream is wrapped up somewhere. As if dreams can even be wrapped. The day commences, and you enjoy your gifts. But no one really wants it to end. The feeling at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Day is the worst. Christmas is over. 365 more days until the next one. Who really wants to put that damn tree back in the attic, anyway? Let’s be real.

It’s just like high school graduation. The day when you’re going off into the world, hopefully to college, to see if you can carry the weight of that damn Christmas tree into the “real world.” Who even came up with that phrase, anyway? As if high school isn’t the real world. As if high school isn’t merely a place where they send teenagers so we can understand what it feels like to be taunted, treated like five-year-olds, and told that anything is possible. But it’s complete bullshit. Not everything is possible. How could it be? Is Susan Stein, the weird girl who sits in the front of Advanced Placement calculus, really going to sprout wings like she says? I don’t think so.

The real world. It’s a scary place. Or so they claim. I never felt a rush of fear come over my body the day I was accepted into eight of the nine colleges to which I’d applied. Granted, two were my safety schools in Florida—just in case my SAT scores weren’t as good as my counselor claimed they’d be. Take that, Florida State and Central Florida! The only one I didn’t get into was my reach school, Duke. It’s too bad. I would’ve been an awesome Cameron Crazie. Coach K’s loss.

I was excited to go onto college, eat crappy college food, and gain the freshman fifteen. Well, actually, I didn’t really want to gain the freshman fifteen, but let’s be real, that’s what happens to basically every girl who goes to college. I wasn’t even afraid to move onto the University of Miami campus when I got my room assignment in July to live in Mahoney Residential College with my roommate, Stacy James. Fear did strike me when my older sister explained that roommates can sometimes be stalkers. Or boyfriend-stealers. Or refrigerator scoundrels. I think the idea of Stacy James stealing my dried apricots and whatever fresh fruit I was eating that week struck a chord the most. See, freshman fifteen: what did I tell you?

Luckily Stacy James wasn’t crazy. Well, she is crazy… for the opposite sex. And for sex. For foreplay. The works. She came into college with more notches on her belt than Hugh Hefner at the same age. Ridiculous? Well, yes. But for Stacy, sex is a part of getting to know someone. She probably would’ve propositioned me, too, if she’d been drinking all night and had still been able to walk back to Mahoney without my support. My college experience was quite unusual. Let me tell you about my freshman year: the fear, the love, the pain. Especially the rush of freshman-year fear, which caught up with me pretty quickly. Before school began, I never thought it would. I was way too strong for that. I was way too mature for that. I could handle being two-hundred-twenty-one miles away from my parents, no sweat. I wasn’t clingy. Or so I thought. But the day fear rushed through my body was on the first weekend of college. The first Friday. That was the day I met Ryan Olsen. And Steven Sterling.

Friday, 15 January 2016

School of Deaths by Christopher Mannino

Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups.

He spends his summers writing and singing. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.

His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.

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About the Book

Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death?

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.

Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who enslave a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons.

As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn't an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

Get it today on Christopher's Website, Amazon, MuseitUp Publishing, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and iTunes!

Keep reading for an interview with Christopher Mannino:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

I have always loved to read. I have so many stories in my mind, so many dreams and ideas I'd love to share. Stephen King referred to writing as a special kind of magic, since it's the only art form where I take something right out of my mind and dump it into a reader's mind. That's a very special thing, and I'm happy to participate in this form of "magic."

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

I teach high school theatre, at a school with a large arts program. I teach six classes of drama daily, covering four skill levels. I also help the students produce four to five productions a year after school. As the sole drama teacher I am in charge of creating curricula, teaching acting, directing, teaching and leading technical theatre, construction, and theatre design, and organizing our school's theatre field trips.

What genres do you write?

At the moment YA Fantasy, but eventually I'd like to write in many other genres.

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

Like many authors, I'd love to get to the point where I was writing full-time. My biggest frustration as a writer is not having enough time to write and share my stories. In five years, I envision my wife and I both writing full time. I also plan to expand into many other genres, and hope to reach a very wide audience.

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

My family is extemely supportive. My wife Rachel was actually encouraged by my writing to start writing herself, and she is now a published author in her own right. Rachel writes romances novels, and you can learn more about her and her books at

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

Acting, Singing, and Traveling.

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

Lord of the Rings.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I use a blend. When I start, I have a scenario in mind, a specific situation, similar to a book's back cover blurb, and a few characters who I know will be involved. After that point, I develop an "image outline." An image outline is a series of pictures- strong visual images that I know will appear in the story somehow. I don't necessarily know what order the images will come, or how they'll connect. Then, I start filling in the gaps- mostly writing from the seat of my pants at that point. By the time I reached the end of the trilogy, I ended up outlining a lot more, to ensure all threads ended in a cohesive manner.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I've been getting faster at this. My first novel (unpublished) took ten years. School of Deaths took just over a year to write, and another year to edit and look for publishers. Now, I'm averaging about a book a year, and considering Daughter of Deaths was twice as long as any novel I'd previously written, I'm definitely gaining speed as a writer.

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

School of Deaths was inspired by actual events. In 2011, I was stranded in Tintagel, Cornwall. I spent the night at a noisy pub. Having slept little, I left the pub at 4am, and headed out onto nearby Barras Nose, a narrow promontory of stone ending in fifty-foot cliffs. I crept out to the edge of the cliff face. There were no railings, and 30 mile an hour fierce winds accosted me from every direction. I crawled on all fours, and then watched the dawn over the ocean cliffs. I felt like I was attacked by winds from every direction, and imagined a character attacked from every direction, who's life was in danger, yet who felt an overwhelming sense of beauty. That character eventually became Susan Sarnio.

Do you ever base your characters on people you know?

Some of the characters in The Scythe Wielder's Secret are loosely inspired by other people or characters. The biggest example is Athanasius, in book one, who's physical appearance is meant to be reminiscent of one of my favorite characters in the musical "Wicked."

What are you working on now?

Now that I've finished The Scythe Wielder's Secret, I've been working on an adult science fiction thriller. It is in a style reminiscent of Dan Brown crossed with Michael Crichton.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

Daughter of Deaths was the third and final novel in a trilogy, and tying every thread together was a challenge. I knew how the series was going to end, but there were several extra characters I wanted to do justice for, without just abandoning into the details. Keeping track of the dozens and dozens of characters and plot strings incorporated in the series as a whole, and tying it to a good conclusion, was an interesting challenge.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Never give up.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Imprisoning a Duel Discord by Louise Findlay

Louise Findlay writes fantasy (generally short stories) and inspirational poetry. She enjoys reading and writing about mythological creatures such as angels and demons but has a soft spot for vampires. Louise is currently in the midst of writing a vampire novella about two vampire clans whose deputy’s clash in a big way, entitled A Spy in the Sagax Vampires.

She generally writes ebooks but she’s apart of a few anthologies which are in print and is working on a special secret project this year.

About the Book

The world is in musical order. To maintain balance, a team of Government Agents, named Harmony, track down, experiment on and sometimes kill those who express the music of dissonance. Those like Psycha, a duel Discord of Vyla and Sios; a prime lab rat to Harmony. Being able to disrupt harmony by voice and hands alone makes Psycha far more dangerous than the usual Discord. Will she run into trouble trying to protect her boyfriend, Caleb? Will her desire to destroy Harmony prove fatal for her? What will be left of her if she ever gets captured?

Only Available to Patreon Patrons!

Imprisoning a Duel Discord - Music: 
Louise Fantasy Adventures - "Angevin B" Kevin MacLeod (

Keep Reading for an Excerpt


What had Caleb gotten himself into this time? We were discords for music’s sake. We couldn’t strike back against Harmony if we ran, and be damned if he got caught. He was a Tara Discord not a Vyla like me. He was more vulnerable and I knew for a fact he left his Tara back at camp. Careless. That was so unlike him. He was usually methodical and paranoid. He couldn’t afford to throw his life away on a whim. I was the reckless one.

I hummed a tune to try and find his wavelength. Discords stuck out like a sore thumb, and he was a Tara. He was invisible without it, but I knew his musical signature like the back of my hand. I was almost certain I could pick something up, and I did. The three note discordant hum that was uniquely Caleb was faintly ringing in the air. I rushed to try and catch up to him. There was no way he would get captured on my watch. Cinder would kill me.

No. I caught sight of a man with the Harmony symbol on the back of his black suit. The tell-tale sign of a sharp, with two notes at the bottom and a treble clef in the middle, made him the enemy. I’d seen what happened to Discords when Harmony got a hold of them. They were mere husks of their former selves; dead and despondent inside. Their life cruelly ripped away. I would not let that happen to Caleb.

I screamed out notes at the man’s back, notes which clashed horribly. It was music to me, but the assailant recoiled, clutching his head in pain. How dare he try and take away the thing that made Caleb who he was. Being Discords defined us.

My enemy retaliated by taking out his Ko and trying to play me into submission. The harmony was excruciating to me. I was a duel Vyla/Sios Discord. Normal Discords were three parts discord and one-part harmony. I was fully Discord. I could control music with my voice and by touch alone. I hated Harmony for what they did to us, and I knew I’d be their prime lab rat.

“Caleb, run” I shouted.

I was bombarding him with musical assaults, but I had to be careful not to hit Caleb. He was powerless without his Tara. Why did he not bring it with him?

“I’m not leaving you,” he said.

Ah. Blood ran down my cheek when a note hit. Harmony and dissonance were opposites. One could hurt the other. Harmony were the government and Dissonance were the outcasts. I would make them pay for condemning us to a lifetime of running. Harmony agents lived to capture us.

“Go, you idiot. Get back to camp. You’re defenceless,” I ordered.

At last, he managed to see sense and fled. I couldn’t protect him if he was in the way. I waved a shield to protect against the agent’s next attack. Now Caleb was safe I could really let loose without fear of hurting him. I used my voice and hands in tandem to unleash a barrage of musical weapons at him. Streams of note swords and arrows flew at the enemy. He was pretty quick to keep up with me, but he couldn’t deflect everything I threw at him.

I started to hum a dissonant melody designed to sweep into his soul. I would poison his harmony with dissonance. He let out a hiss, which told me I was successful. I screamed as more musical implements of doom attacked me. I used the blood trickling down my arm in a note. Blood notes packed a mean punch. Judging by the look on his face, it did.

“Just die, Harmony bastard,” I said.

“Bring it, Discord cur,” he replied.

I screamed like a banshee. When he was distracted, I flung a spear at him. I turned his cries into a gag with a wave of my hand. His voice was grating to my ears.

Ah. A melody hit me straight in the neck and continued to constrain my throat. I tried to catch my breath, but it was impossible. I flailed around, trying to swipe him off me, but to no avail. I couldn’t let him get me. I couldn’t be captured. I finally managed to get him to relent, but my vision turned hazy as I gasped for breath.

Friday, 8 January 2016

P.A.W.S. by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Debbie Manber Kupfer grew up in London and lived in Israel, before somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a puzzle constructor and writer. She lives with her husband, two children, and a very opinionated feline.
She is the author of P.A.W.S. and Argentum and has short stories in several anthologies including FauxpocalypseShades of FearWinter WishesSins of the PastSins of the Future, and Heroes & Villains. She also created the puzzle book, Paws 4 Logic together with her son, Joey. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

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About the Book

When Miri receives a silver cat charm from her omama on the night before she dies she has no idea that the charm holds a secret, a powerful magic that saved her omama’s life and is about to make Miri’s a whole lot more interesting.
This second edition of P.A.W.S. was released on September 1, 2015. It contains several bonus features including a previously unpublished story, The Great Bobbert, and a sample chapter from Argentum, (P.A.W.S. Book 2).

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an excerpt from P.A.W.S.:

Vienna, October 2, 1941.

Today was Celia’s tenth birthday. This was not how she imagined celebrating it. She was with her family – her mama, Miriam; her papa, David; her elder brother, Issel; and her baby sister, Sara. They were huddled together in the back room of their tiny two-room apartment in Grosse Spielgasse, in the dark, barely breathing.

Outside the building, the boot steps got nearer and nearer. Celia heard shouting, screaming, gunshots. She crouched down even closer to the ground, wishing that somehow they could all melt away into the shadows. Celia clutched her cat, Max, tightly in her arms, feeling his warmth, his soft tabby fur close to her skin, willing him to stay quiet.

Her mama cradled little Sara at her breast, nursing her so she would not cry out. Outside, the pounding footsteps were getting closer, closer: “Juden, Juden, Heraus, Heraus, Schnell, Schnell!” Now they were at the door of the neighbors – the Wassersteins. She heard crying and a single gunshot.

Miriam beckoned to her. “Celia, mein Katzerl, come here,” she whispered. “I have something for you, for your birthday.”

Celia approached Miriam cautiously, still clutching Max to her. “What is it, Mama?” she asked, gazing into Miriam’s blue, blue eyes. She studied her prematurely wrinkled face, memorizing every crease. Mama, my mama, she thought.

Still holding baby Sara with her left hand, Miriam reached around the back of her neck with her right and unclasped the chain that she always wore beneath her clothes, close to her heart. It was a silver chain with a cat charm on it. “Take this, Celia, mein Katzerl. Wear it always, and remember I love you. Ich liebe dich.”

“I love you, Mama,” Celia whispered as she fastened the chain around her neck just as the doors burst open. Six Gestapo soldiers rushed into their home – “Juden, Heraus, Heraus, Schnell, Schnell...” Celia watched as her family was herded out of the door.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Flight of Destiny by Francis H. Powell

What better way to put all my angst into short stories. Born in a commuter belt city called Reading and like many a middle or upper class child of such times I was shunted off to an all-male boarding school aged eight, away from my parents for periods of up to twelve weeks at a time, until I was 17. 

While at my first Art college through a friend I met a writer called Rupert Thomson, who was at the time in the process of writing his first book “Dreams of leaving”. He was a bit older than myself, me being fresh out of school, but his personality and wit resonated, despite losing contact with him. I had a stint living in Austria, where I began writing. 

It wasn’t until I moved to Paris, that my writing began to truly evolve. I discovered a magazine called Rat Mort (dead rat) I sent off a short story, in the hope it would match the seemingly dark world the magazine seemed to embroiled in. I got no answer. Not put off I sent two more stories. 

Finally I got an answer. It seemed the magazine editor was a busy man, a man prone to travelling. It seemed my first story really hit the right note with him. His name was Alan Clark. I began writing more and more short stories, some published on the internet. A bit later my anthology Flight of Destiny slowly evolved, published April 2015, by Savant publishing.

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About the Book

Flight of Destiny is a collection of short stories about misfortune. They are characterized by unexpected final twists, that come at the end of each tale. They are dark and surreal tales, set around the world, at different time periods. They show a world in which anything can happen. It is hard to determine reality and what is going on a disturbed mind. People's conceptions about morality are turned upside down. A good person can be transformed by an unexpected event into a bad person and then back again to their former state. The high and mighty often deliver flawed arguments, those considered wicked make good representations of themselves. Revenge is often a subject explored.

Get it today on Amazon!

Keep reading for an excerpt:

Maggot was enraged and banged his fist on the table! Knives, forks, spoons and plates flew into the air, tossing food everywhere. Up to this point, the banquet had been cordial, even good-humored. Necessary pleasantries and toasts had been exchanged. But as soon as the serious negotiations had begun, indeed when money was brought into the equation, everything quickly went wrong. Where before congeniality had bound them, blood-lust now welled, taunts were being whispered and enraged voices were promising vengeance for inexcusable slurs.

Excellency's face reddened and his eyes glistened with anger, his men reaching for the handles of their scimitars.

In response, Maggot's goons eyeballed them angrily, and reached for the lethal weapons they had hidden in strategic places in their !87 Flight of Destiny clothing, ready to react ferociously at the slightest additional provocation. Maggot's agitated thugs, severely outnumbered, were prepared to lay down their lives if it meant spilling the blood of their adversaries. A hush fell about the grand hall as Excellency, still seething in anger, slowly and calmly stood, gestured nonchalantly with his bony hand bedecked with expensive rings to his hair-triggered guards, who, in turn, reluctantly let go of the handles of their weapons. Judd, Maggot's main henchman, playing the diplomatic foil for his master, laughed and tried to play down his master's indiscretion, as if a miscreant joke had gone awry. He reached forward and straightened Excellency's cutlery on the table and smiled sweetly, like a penitent child after a foolish prank.

Maggot, still vexed, snorted, mumbled something inaudibly, then wagged a finger at Excellency. Maggot was little more than an overtly maladroit oaf, with a permanent scowl of dissatisfaction fixed upon his fleshy face. His baggy clothes, emblematic of a circus performer, had seen better days, being constantly patched and re-patched over the years by his adoring wife. His other standout feature was the trademark medallion that hung about his neck, which he claimed he acquired from a celebrated pirate's plunder. Ever boastful and vulgar, Maggot was a man unlikely to make friends, one who induced mainly fear and loathing in those who came into contact with him. "It's my daughter, Apollonia we're talking about, not a bag of grain or a mule!" he roared, still smarting over Excellency's derogatory offer. "She's my own flesh and blood!"

Excellency turned menacingly towards him. "Watch your tongue, man! I've had men's tongues cut out for less!"

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Shadow Stalker: Defiance (Episode 13) 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 homeschooled daughter. Visit her site for more information and a free copy of Shadow Stalker Part 1(Episodes 1 – 6).

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About the Book

Three years have passed since Auren and Shai escaped the daily torture of the Galvadi. With Makari's help, they have learned more about the Galvadi's technology and discovered ways to overcome its effects on their power, which gave them an edge in the war. However, the Galvadi have spent that time developing new technology that could mean the end of the shadow stalkers.

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If you haven't ready any of the serial yet, get Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 - 6) free today!

Keep reading for an excerpt from Episode 13:

Cali gave me a nudge as she took a seat next to me. "Do you have any idea what's going on?"

"No idea," I said, moving over a few inches so she had space to sit between me and Shai on the log someone had converted into a bench.

Shai slung an arm around her cousin and Cali returned the gesture, then wrapped her free arm around me. I smiled at her. Cali was the only one who had helped me maintain my sanity over the years. It drove me crazy never knowing what was happening to Makari. Kado kept me busy, as usual, but any time I had a free moment, all I could do was wonder if he was safe. I would know if he died. I would sense him again in the shadow world. He had been blocking me to keep me safe, though I had no idea how it was supposed to help. All it did was make me want to go to him, which would be more dangerous.

Of course, Kado would never allow that. He saw my thoughts as I had them most of the time, and he would know as soon as I made the decision. I learned quickly not to allow my thoughts to go down that path too often. That's where Cali came in. She distracted me by helping me forget the war and making me feel like a normal person once in a while. She was as good a friend as Jade, except she didn't encourage me to disobey Kado when I was angry.

"Maybe the Galvadi have decided to give up," Shai said, pulling me out of my thoughts.

Cali snorted.

"I know. It's wishful thinking."

I smiled at Shai. "I want this to be over too."

"You'll figure it out soon." Cali gave my shoulder a squeeze.

All the shadow warriors knew the end of the war would not come until I stopped Drevin. The only problem was I had no idea what I was supposed to do, and no amount of training helped. Each day it seemed like I was further from my goal instead of closer.

After everyone had taken their seats, Kado held up a hand, calling us all to silence. "Makari has just given me some disheartening news. The Galvadi have developed a—"

I tried to listen, but I couldn't get past the fact that Makari had been here. "He didn't even bother to see me?"

Kado glared at me, and I suddenly realized I'd blurted it aloud.

"Makari has to keep a low profile for his own safety, and they were not aware he had left. He couldn't stay away long."

"I think it's time he left the Galvadi all together," I said, folding my arms over my chest.

"It would be the healthier option," Cali added on my behalf.

"Makari's work has been invaluable to us and would not be possible if he weren't living among them for the time being," Kado said, then leaned in my direction looking straight into my eyes. "And he knows what he is doing."

Kado watched me, and I was sure he was waiting to see if I would continue to interrupt him. I remained silent, but neither he nor Makari would be able to convince me the man I loved wasn't taking an unnecessary risk. They could get whatever information they needed from their missions.

When he was sure I wouldn't interrupt again he finished explaining that the Galvadi had developed a new recinder and how it worked. "You will need to avoid capture at all costs. Once these recinders are placed on you, there is no known way to nullify its effects even after removal. Auren, I want you to visit Makari's unit to steal the schematics, and if possible, one of the recinders along with any other information you can find about new technologies. Makari suspects there is more, but they are keeping him in the dark."

I stood quickly, smacking my hands together. "When do I leave?"

"Wait a moment. I have other things I need to discuss with you first."

I sat again, hoping I wasn't in for one of his long lectures.

"The rest of you are dismissed. Sephir, you and Shai are clear to leave on that special mission you've been training for as soon as you're ready, but please be careful."

"We will," Sephir said, bowing.

I leaned over Cali to give Shai a quick hug. Cali wrapped her arms around both of us. Shai stood as soon as we released her, and Sephir, who had been standing next to her, wrapped an arm around her as they headed off.

"Good luck," Cali said, winking at me before following Sephir and her cousin.

Kado sat next to me. "Auren, you have been the most adept at overcoming the effects of the beryllonium. That's why I'm sending you on this mission, but you need to be extra careful this time. Makari believes even you wouldn't stand a chance with this new recinder. If they are looking for test subjects, they may also have new ways of detaining shadow stalkers that Makari might not be aware of. If you are discovered, do not take any risks. Makari will not be able to help you. You will need to leave immediately. Understood?"

"Yes, Kado. I'll be fine." I only just managed to stop my eyes from rolling.

"I'm serious, Auren. We can always return at a later time, but if you are captured, you may be lost to us for good this time."

The fear in Kado's eyes sobered me. Things came easy to me now that I had completed my training, and though I had discovered abilities not even Kado had known about, I wasn't foolish enough to believe I was all powerful. Sometimes my foster father seemed to worry more than he should, but I was beginning to think that wasn't the case here.

"I'll be careful, Kado. I promise." It wouldn't hurt to pay Makari a little visit too if he was alone.

Kado gripped my arm and tilted my head with his free hand so I was looking directly at him. "Under no circumstances are you to seek out Makari. If you attempt something so foolish, Auren, you will be punished and banned from future missions."

My shoulders sagged. "It was an errant thought, Kado. I will focus on my mission."

"The mission and nothing else, Auren. This is important."

I nodded and averted my eyes. I just missed him. That's all it was.

"I know you miss him, Auren, and that it's been hard for you both to be apart, but it won't be forever. You and Makari will have your time in this world if the shadow people will it, but not if you risk both your lives on foolishness."

"I know. I'm sorry." Makari was being the more foolish of us both, and yet Kado supported him. It didn't make sense, but any time I brought the subject up with either of them, they redirected the conversation.

Kado pulled me into a tight hug and whispered, "Come back to me in one piece, please."

I returned his embrace. "I will."