WRITER GEOFF NELDER IS BACK WITH A NEW ONE–XAGHRA’S REVENGE–& IT’S DIFFERENT

 

Sci-fi thriller fantasy author Geoff Nelder is back on the blog with a new release from Solstice Publishing and it’s sooo different. XAGHRA’S REVENGE incorporates historical fiction, social commentary, adventure and revenge–all the things this blogger absolutely LOVES. Welcome back, Geoff!

I had a number of questions lined up for him, but in the author’s own words, he got a tad “carried away” and decided that one–and only one–question got to the heart of what he was trying to do this time out.

Here we go…

 

1.

XAGHRA’S REVENGE is an historical fiction piece focusing on something that, sadly, continues today–slavery. What is it in your past or psyche that facilitated the need to obtain social justice for the island’s inhabitants?

 

Geoff-IOM-12Never mind the past, I am a slave now! I don’t just mean marriage (Ed.- He dabbles in dry humor); I mean a slave to the economic system; a slave to society’s cultural mores and laws. I am a slave to my damn brain.

It’s a writer’s lot to own a rabid imagination and mine gets into the being of my characters so much so that I can’t escape. Of course, it’s not like the physical slavery of people being brought by force from one country to another to work.

I hadn’t come into contact with an actual slave or knew much about them before I went on a family holiday to Malta. There, I learnt with horror about the 1551 mass abduction by pirates of the entire island of Gozo. I couldn’t believe that cultured and intelligent people such as those pirate leaders could do that. We’re not talking about uncouth Hollywood pirates, but well-educated Muslims (Rais Dragut, who had himself been a galley slave to a Christian Templar Knight!) and Jews (Pasha) who have big, loving families at home. Yet, it was acceptable to them to abduct whole towns and islands, separate families, torture and kill for their meagre wealth, and then go home to their people. It’s another culture and history completely removed from what I was brought up with. Of course Dragut had religion on his side. If the abducted were righteous, their God will see them.

On Gozo, I discovered that not many people knew about the 1551 abduction. It gozocropsdidn’t happen to them or their ancestors because the emptied island was looted and reoccupied by people from Italy, Sicily, and Malta. The pirates were cunning enough to steal property deeds and sell them to the rich in Tripoli and Constantinople.

I found direct descendants of those Gozo abducted, but over in Tarhuna, Libya. They are still there! I could not find many people who felt strongly about that abduction so I had to do something on the victims’ behalf. My Xaghra’s Revenge is for those 5,000.

 

Excerpt from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

frontcoverXaghra is a real town on the small Mediterranean island of Gozo. I chose it to begin the story because I’ve been there many times. It’s the site of one of the world’s oldest buildings, The Ggantija Temple – older than the pyramids and Stonehenge! I’ve hugged those huge limestone blocks and the vibes touched me. I’ve stood in the spot where Stjepan hears the alarm bell, where he sees his friends chased by pirates, and outside his house. It’s personal.

This opening sets the story with a contrast and conflict: an idyllic rural and family scene versus a worrying incursion threatening to disrupt everything.

 

CHAPTER ONE from XAGHRA’S REVENGE

Published 15th July 2017 via Solstice Shadows, imprint of Solstice Publishing

 

The Mediterranean island of Gozo 1551, July 24th

 

Stjepan leaned on his hoe and listened. His beans needed rescuing from the bindweed, but they’d have to wait if that was the warning bell coming from the city.

Five… He stepped up onto a low limestone wall and scanned the horizon. A flock of starlings created an air sculpture – God’s chariots chasing each other. It always lifted his heart.

Six… The Citadel topped the hill to the west; the clock tower visible, but he couldn’t see if people were running up the lanes to the city walls.

Seven, eight… He strained to see, but hills prevented a clear view of the ocean even though Gozo was less than a day’s ride across.

Nine… Perhaps a pirate ship had been seen again. The damned Turkish corsairs raided more often these days. Pirate dogs. He spat at the soil. His short sword lay under his cot at home.

Ten… In spite of the heat, he shivered at the thought of his wife and four-month-old son thrown into the dank belly of a corsair galley.

Eleven, twelve… He held his breath as if that aided hearing. The starlings swirled around the citadel as if they knew something. His heart sank.

Thirteen, fourteen… curses.

He drove his hoe into the stony soil, wishing it was Dragut’s black heart. Stjepan picked his way through berry bushes and olive trees until he reached his village, Xaghra. Karlu, his neighbour, called as he walked in the opposite direction towards the capital, Rabat.

“Ho, Stjepan, you’ll get fined again.”

“I’m not going without Lidia and my son. Your wife?”

Karlu stopped, scratched his head and twitched his moustache. “In Rabat, staying at her mother’s. She’s been coughing up hairballs.”

“That’s cats. Ah, you never liked Senora Angelina. I’ll see you there.”

In spite of the humour, panic tightened his chest as he ran across the central square. Stjepan saw his marmalade cat, its tail upright. She possessed a sense for trouble. “Heket, you’re supposed to be Lidia’s guardian.”

He frowned pushing past neighbours then saw Lidia waving at him outside the church.

“Father’s tripped on the steps. He can’t walk to Rabat.”

“He’ll have to go on the priest’s cart.”

“Already gone.”

Stjepan gnawed on a knuckle while his brain raced. He couldn’t afford another florin fine, yet the alert was probably another false alarm.

“I’ll carry your father.” Blood seeped through Alfredo’s grey robe from his knee. His eyes apologised.

Stjepan crouched before the old man. “Come on, I’ll carry you on my back.”

They crossed the wide village square. Stjepan found the old man lighter than he expected. Nevertheless, he stopped.

“What about Calypso’s Cave?”

“No.” Lidia breathed heavily carrying infant Pietru. “It’d be too obvious a hiding place. Keep going.”

He did, with increased pace until he reached the top of the steep scarp slope. The lane wriggled as it fell to the valley floor before climbing the Citadel’s slopes an hour’s walk away. They could see the exodus along the most direct route from Xaghra to Rabat.

Lidia stopped. “No.”

“What?” He followed her free arm pointing to the north. A dozen men ran along the valley floor lane. Their scimitars flashed in the midday sun, and their white turbans gave them away as Turkish corsairs.

*  *  *

 

To read more of this chapter head over to Amazon Kindle

http://myBook.to/Xaghra

 

Free on Kindle Unlimited

 

Paperback

http://hyperurl.co/y953ga

 

There’s another excerpt from Chapter two where two modern young lovers have their inauspicious and suspicious first meeting.

 

Facebook page

http://www.facebook.com/xaghrasrevenge

Website

http://geoffnelder.com

Twitter

@geoffnelder

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY/

 

 

About the author

Geoff at Marton July2015Geoff Nelder has one wife, two grown-up kids, and lives in rural England within easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains.

Publications: One humorous thriller Escaping Reality in 2005;
one award-winning science fiction, Exit, Pursued by a Bee in 2008;
another thriller, Hot Air, published in 2009 after receiving an award from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands; a science fiction trilogy, ARIA – starting with Left Luggage with an original premise, was published in 2012 by LL-Publications; and a fantasy, Xaghra’s Revenge, published by Solstice Publishing in July 2017.

Having had around 50 short stories published, Geoff was chosen to be the short fiction judge for the Whittaker Prize, 2009.

Geoff was a co-editor of science fiction magazine, Escape Velocity, and is a freelance editor.

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SCIFI, HORROR & FANTASY AUTHOR MARK ILES TALKS MARTIAL ARTS, WAR, AND THE “WHAT IF?”

1.

You’re a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. What drew you more to martial arts: the physicality, or the philosophy?

 

It was a bit of everything really. I was bought up in a place called Slough, not far from London, and used to hang with a rough gang of lads and we were always in trouble with the old bill (police). Taking up a friend’s offer to attend Aikido classes, I saw martial arts as a way out and was immediately hooked. This was before Bruce Lee hit the UK cinemas. For me it was the whole ethos: I loved the scent of sandal wood from the joss sticks, the air of tranquillity, hard physical workouts and the confidence the techniques gave us.

 

2.

To what extent do these influences impact your character Selena Dillon in PRIDE OF LIONS?

 

I joined the military in ’74, where I then began studying Taekwondo. I incorporated the martial arts and military experience (plus that of others) into my writing. Ironically I didn’t realise what I’d done until a couple of years ago. I found I’d subconsciously discovered an outlet for the horror of war, what my friends and I had been through. Discovering I’d found some release through my writing was a light bulb moment.

 

3.

As the title ‘PRIDE’ implies, Selena is part of a team that must work together or die. How does team work compare to the lone wolf character in fiction? Is an ensemble a more satisfying dynamic for the writer to transcribe?

 

In the military you’re taught to be confident in your own abilities, so being part of a team doesn’t mean you stop when you find yourself on your own, you go on and do what you can. This trait and her personal history reflects in Selena Dillon, the Key Character in my novels. I find both dynamics satisfying, and for me the story basically writes itself.

 

4.

PRIDE OF LIONS is a science fiction action adventure and I understand the follow up THE CULL OF LIONS has also been published. What can we expect in book three?

 

CULL’ was released two years ago and it continues Selena’s journey. It also reveals why the war started and Selena’s dismay when the bad guys come back, this time with allies. Through books I and II there’s conflict with the key character and the monarch of her home world, who’s responsible for the death of her parents, as well as Selena’s servitude in the regiments. In book III, ‘ROAR OF LIONS’, there’s both resolution of conflict and development in Selena’s character.

I get emails and messages asking when book III’s coming out, and the answer is hopefully the beginning of next year – if not sooner.

Book III answers many questions and ties up loose strings. For me the whole story depicts people’s cruelty yet also their love, two sides of the same coin – or, if you like, our yin and yang.

 

5.

Tell us a bit about your novellas. Do they have common themes running through them?

 

Most of my fiction and poetry is SF, horror and fantasy – so in that light, yeah. You see I love the ‘what if’ factor, the twists and turns that keep readers gripped right to the end.

I’m a firm believer in the paranormal; it’s what started me writing. During the Falklands, I dreamt about an orb of fire flying through the air and awoke bathed in sweat. That day, the Sheffield was hit. The night before 25th May, I had a similar dream and even spoke to my divisional officer about it, and he told me that date was special in Argentina due to the May Revolution. That day we came under attack again and our ship turned into the missiles, which missed us and hit the Atlantic Conveyor. Both sets of missiles were meant for our ship, HMS Invincible, so to me the dreams were warnings, a premonition if you will.

During Gulf War 1 a missile missed the ship I was on by 300 feet and yet I had no warning, but then it wasn’t meant for my ship. Make of that what you will, but I’m told such things run in my family. Incidentally, I wrote up that first dream and sold it, so that’s where I really started to write.

I’ve also had ghostly experiences, but those are tales for another time. So, as you can see, my writing reflects my life, beliefs and interests – all tinged with the ‘what if’.

 

6.

(Fun question) At what degree do you achieve invisibility?

darren-shahlavi-feature-ip-man-2That’s an easy one, tenth! That’s the honorary rank which you get when you die. You see, nine is a special number in the orient – the last one before double figures. There are nine coloured belts (white again being honorary) and so likewise the black belts, a mirror image of where you start. So I guess I’d have to be invisible to reach tenth degree.

I have to say, however, that there are a few living tenth degrees – which makes no sense to me.

 

Ed-So there’s something in the room with me after all. I knew it!

7.

And Jackie Chan? (see photo)      

                                            

jackie-chan-feature-police-story-3I was based in Hong Kong back in ’83 to ’86, and used to write features for a variety of magazines. I was asked by Combat (the martial arts mag’) to go and interview a rising star who’d recently made a film called ‘Police Story’. Yes, it was Jackie Chan. Unfortunately I couldn’t go, because there was a disaster in the Philippines and our patrol boats had been sent out there to provide disaster relief. This meant our teams were basically ‘watch on, watch off’, providing the communications and so forth.

In all I’ve missed three interviews with Jackie. Methinks I’m doomed to never get that one, which is as a shame because I bet he’d be fascinating. Ironically, one of the guys (Chen Kai Chong) who posed for the photos in my Taekwondo book now works with Jackie all the time. He’s basically one of the bad gangland guys in each movie, but he only gets fleeting images.

 

8.

Any last words?

It’s quite hard writing a series of novels. Everything has to be exactly right and in line with the first book, from the weapons people use, the colour of their eyes, what they drink, how they act – not to mention each character’s personal history. Get it wrong and readers will pounce on you, so there’s a lot of cross referencing and checking needed – let alone research.

The thing I like about writing is the comaradery.  Writers support writers and it’s great.

A special thanks also, by the way, to my readers and followers. Cheers guys, you mean a lot and without you it wouldn’t happen.

 

Ed-Well put. I couldn’t agree more!

 

Mark decided to lead off with A PRIDE OF LIONS TODAY. His other titles with links follow…

 

 

a-pride-of-lions-book-coverWhen Selena Dillon is caught in an assassination attempt on her planets ruler, she finds herself sentenced to 25 years servitude in mankind’s most feared military force, the Penal Regiments. Much to her surprise she enjoys the harsh military life and is quickly selected for officer training.

But something’s wrong, worlds are falling silent. There’s no cry for help and no warning, just a sudden eerie silence. When a flotilla of ships is despatched to investigate they exit hyperspace to find themselves facing a massive alien armada. Outnumbered and outgunned the flotilla fight a rearguard action, allowing one of their number to slip away and warn mankind.

As worlds fall in battle, and man’s fleets are decimated, Selena is selected to lead a team of the Penal Regiments most battle-hardened veterans, in a last ditch attempt to destroy the aliens’ home world. If she fails then mankind is doomed. But little does Selena know what fate has in store for her, that one of her crew is a psychopathic killer and a second the husband of one of his victims.

Can she hold her team together, get them to their target and succeed in the attack? Selena knows that if she fails then there will be nothing at all left to go home to.

 

Excerpt

There were angry growls from the crowd and the robosec bellowed, “Silence in court!”

A slim dark-haired woman stood up and banged her fist loudly on the wooden barrier in front of her, her face working in fury as she shouted, “This is a farce. If they’d succeeded you’d be giving them medals now, instead of punishing them. This sucks! Everyone here knows that those who should be on trial are the Queen and the Royal Family. They’ve murdered thousands of people, and these guys only tried to rid our planet of that tyrant. They’re heroes, not criminals!”

Selena looked over and grinned broadly, as she recognised her old school chum Linda McKenzie.

Catching her eye, Linda added, “Tell them to shove it up their arse, Selena. You guys did the right thing, and we’re all damn proud of you. Others will try the same thing, you’ll see, and sooner or later someone will succeed and we’ll finally be rid of those murderers.”

“Get that woman out of my court!” the judge roared, watching angrily as guards dragged Linda away, although the audience continued to protest. “The next person who makes any noise will be dragged outside and whipped on the spot!” he bellowed, eyes widening as he glared at them. Gradually silence fell once more.  “However,” continued the judge more collectedly, turning back to the accused and ignoring the rumpus, “it’s in my power to offer you an alternative. We’re currently upgrading the military, as we do from time to time. This allows me to offer you the option of serving in the Penal Regiments, until you either die in their ranks or are discharged after twenty-five years’ service under their terms of contract. You each have three minutes to decide.”

Selena was stunned. None of them had expected this, and in the shocked silence of the courtroom she began to think furiously.  The Penal Regiments! They were the most feared and respected military force in all of humanity. Only the insane or desperate would even contemplate joining their ranks, and those who simply had no other choice.

Those who joined had the details of their previous lives completely erased; it was as if they ceased to exist. They lost their past, family and sometimes even their personalities. If anyone actually survived the duration of their contracts they could have their faces and bodies surgically altered at the cost of the Federation, so that prior enemies and friends wouldn’t recognise them and they could live out their retirement in peace. But that was if they survived that long and very few ever did. However, Selena mused, there were those survivors. Hope glimmered for the first time since the raid.

Suddenly she heard a voice calling for her attention.  “Selena Dillon, your choice?”

The time had gone and the question seemed to come from nowhere, but Selena knew that she had no option. “I choose the Penal Regiments.”

The others of her team turned to stare at her with blank expressions, but she could hear their breath catching in disbelief.   One by one, the others chose martyrdom.   As they were marched off, Sam turned to stare at her in disgust.

She would never forget the look on his face.   Poor Sam, she thought. You just don’t understand, do you? One day, when you’re long gone and nothing remains of you but dust blowing on the wind, our crimes will have been forgotten and I’ll be able to come back. Can’t you see that?

As for me, old friend, I’m already a survivor.

 

OTHER TITLES BY MARK ILES

 

the-cull-of-lionsSelena Dillon and her team return to Loreen after their attack on Mantis, only to find the myriad worlds of Mankind once again plunged into war. As the Penal Regiments are betrayed by the Federation of Man, and fighting spills throughout the galaxy, the dreaded Manta raise their heads once again. Selena soon finds herself trying to track down her friends’ daughter, Hope, from the rabbit holes of Loreen and then fights to free her home planet from alien invaders. While a general amnesty means previous sins are forgiven, the Queen has not forgotten Selena’s attempt on her life. Selena soon finds herself torn between obeying orders to protect the monarch, and her ravening thirst for revenge. But strange forces are stirring amidst the stars and Mankind finds itself with surprising new allies, while a terrifying enemy that’s manipulated events from behind the scenes finally reveals itself for the very first time.

Buy Link

a-connoisure-of-the-bizarreA carful of police officers swerves in the rain to avoid a shadowy figure. Detective Chets Owen and his two companions immediately recognise the local lunatic, O’Neal, but they’re shocked to see a gun in his hand. Then O’Neal mentions that he knows where a missing child is. Does he, or doesn’t he, and is O’Neal really who he seems?

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

falling-from-graceHere you’ll find tales of the supernatural, betrayal and murder; the mistakes that lead to the fall of empires and the constant tug of war that haunts mankind. There’s a blend of science fiction, fantasy and horror – from a modern day detective facing a serial killer to a future utopia filled with disloyalty. Lovers of romance will find a little something for them too, but within these bright sparks of hope shades of darkness lurk.

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

distant-shores-book-coverGripping tales from magical tattoos to a time when mankind has been decimated by aliens and the world is run by Androids. From where monsters roam our skies, a little girl waits patiently for Santa one cold Christmas Eve to a world haunted by the ghosts of the slaughtered inhabitants. Read it with the light on!

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

kwaks-competition-taekwondo-book-cover

 

 

 

 

 

Buy Link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

escape-velocityEscape Velocity, the science fiction magazine from Adventure Books of Seattle, was host to some of the most talented writers in the genre. Presented here are many of the best short stories from the magazine, as well as others specially submitted for this collection by authors from around the world. This very unique book contains forty-eight sci-fi stories, such as ‘Scream Quietly’ by Sheila Crosby, ‘Royal Flush,’ by Ian Whates, and Rebecca Latyntseva’s controversial time-travel tale, ‘Red Monkeys’. The stunning cover images only add to what is undoubtably one of the best science fiction collections of the year. Edited by Geoff Nelder of Great Britain and Robert Blevins of the United States.

Goodreads

 

 

About the Author

 

mark-portraitMark works for Southampton University, and also as a freelance writer in many fields including copywriting. His short stories have been published in Back Brain Recluse, Dream, New Moon, Auguries, Haunts, Kalkion, Screaming Dreams, and the anthologies Right To Fight, Escape Velocity, Auguries and Monk Punk. With an 8th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo he’s also written non-fiction for Combat, Taekwondo & Korean Martial Arts, Fighters, Junk, Martial Arts Illustrated, profwritingacademy.com and calmzone.net.

His first full length work was ‘Kwak’s Competition Taekwondo’, and he also has a short story collection entitled ‘Distant Shores’. His debut novel ‘A Pride of Lions’ was published by Solstice in September 2013 and is the first book in ‘The Darkening Stars’ series. Since ‘Pride’ was published Mark has also had 4 novellas accepted: ‘A Connoisseur of the Bizarre’, ‘Sally Jane’, ‘Nightshade’ and ‘Santa Claws is Coming’.

Having written features and fiction for over 30 years Mark applied to do an MA in Professional Writing. ‘Pride’ had been bouncing around in his head for some time, and he seized the opportunity to produce this first novel as part of the course. Mark says it’s without doubt the best choice he’s ever made, as it really focused him, and that getting this novel Accepted is the perfect conclusion to a wonderful experience. He’s now focusing on the second book in this series, ‘The Cull of Lions’.

 

 

Links

Social Media:

Website: www.markiles.co.uk

Twitter: www.twitter.com/welcometoearth

LinkedIn: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/mark-iles/33/67a/822

Facebook Author’s Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Iles/279162705557698

Blog: http://markiles.co.uk/the-blog

Amazon Authors Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mark-Iles/e/B004YZBP3I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

 

 

Books:

A Pride of Lions: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Pride-Lions-Darkening-Skies/dp/149425445X

Distant Shores: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Distant-Shores-ebook/dp/B008SD4KOS/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1347182066&sr=1-1

Kwaks Competition Taekwondo: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kwak%60s-Competition-Taekwondo-Mark-Iles/dp/B000FTHGFI

 

Novellas:

Nightshade: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nightshade-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP1BQ

A Connoisseur of the Bizarre: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Connoisseur-Bizarre-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP54O

Sally Jane: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sally-Jane-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOOZ40

Santa Claws is Coming: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Santa-Claws-Coming-Mark-Iles-ebook/dp/B00HQOP0D0

 

Thanks for dropping by Mark. Be sure to let us know when the WIP goes to press!

— ABF

MONDAY: Please join me in welcoming award-winning cat writer, librarian and Sister in Crime Debbie De Louise, whose third novel A STONE’S THROW is releasing through Solstice Publishing.

RAEGYN PERRY AND A PAS DE DEUX FOR THE AGES

big-book-imageTorrential rain spikes. A scream pierces the dark night. Greye Fields has immersed herself in her literary work, with no desire to chase the inevitable sting of rejection she knows too well. She won’t allow herself the time or the desire to pursue love. Until she meets him. Connor Donovan is perfectly content with his bachelor status. Life is good, teaching middle school English, and being the favorite uncle. He wants for nothing. Until he meets her. Shattered glass. A wash of blood. Is it a nightmare or a memory? Can Connor and Greye overcome the obstacles to the love of all time, or is tragedy doomed to be repeated? What if love found the right people in the wrong time?

Eleven months after the release of LAVENDER FIELDS, Solstice author Raegyn Perry returns to the blog with a clutch of five star reviews AND an exciting WIP on the way. FIELDS is the beginning, CYPRESS GROVES is the continuum with characters old and new. Welcome back, Raegyn.

1.

Lavender Fields won an award. Tell us about that.

 

readers-favorite-awardIt was a FIVE STAR review actually from Reader’s Favorite. RF is a great online site that connects authors and readers. We all know any exposure is key to getting more readers. Having someone enjoy the story, and give it 5 *’s is like the icing, sprinkles and cute decoration on the adorable, moist and delicious cupcake!

 

2.

Critical praise has been stellar. One reviewer, in particular, referred to a scene so unique that nothing else like it shows up in literature. You can’t leave me hanging here, friend. Can you give us a clue???

 

It is a pivotal scene! All I can say is, it is actually part of a bigger revelation in the second and third books!

 

3.

You’ve been kind enough to suggest a dream cast for Lavender Fields, the movie. I love, love, love, Zoe Saldana. She commands a room with a glance. Can you give us a sketch about her Lavender Fields character?

 

I love Zoe too! She would be perfect as Greye Fields, a well-to-do executive at the Literacy Foundation in Boston. She is a writer and admitted daydreamer. She knows love hurts, and would just as soon avoid it. An unexpected encounter with a handsome man has Greye rethinking her life plan. Just when it seems things couldn’t be more perfect, they go terribly awry. She learns that sometimes memories can be signs of history being tragically repeated, or of an amazing second chance at love.

dream-cast-banner

 

4.

You have romance, mystery, and paranormal elements in book one of the series and book two is on the way. Tell us about your WIP and what we can expect from your amazing cast of characters.

 

cypress-groveCypress Groves will take the paranormal aspect in a different, darker direction. Single mom Angela Donovan left Boston to come back home to Roy, WA to start her life over. Tragedy befalls one of their own, and the timing is suspect with a stranger coming to town to solve the community’s financial woes. There is also a new sheriff in town. (always wanted to say that!). Is the small town as safe as it once was? What is the likelihood of the stranger, who also came from Boston, is a coincidence? Is Angela in danger for her life or for her heart? There are cameos from some Lavender Fields characters, as well as some fun, interesting (and dangerous) ones.

 

5.

Reincarnation figures prominently in your storyline(s). It is a tantalizing idea, especially when we enter into the notion that memories can be passed from generation to generation. Have you ever experienced moments of déjà vu? Do you have a strong affiliation with another part of the world where you have never been before in this life?

 

17284329I did quite a bit of research when I decided to go with a reincarnation theme. My characters in Lavender Fields have connections with Ireland, but myself, I have a strong connection for some reason with France. I haven’t fully traced any roots/ancestry there, but I remember when I went to Paris once, I felt like I could have moved there and been just fine. In my home, I have a lot of Paris themed décor’ all over!  I’m even on Duolingo brushing up my Parlant Français!

 

6.

Your biography says you’re a binge watcher. Spill! What are you currently engrossed in?

 

Oh, I can binge-watch like nobody’s business! I’m currently engrossed in a fun show from New Zealand called ‘The Almighty Johnson’s’-about four brothers who are the human incarnation of the Norse Gods. My all time favorite binge watch is still hands down, ‘Chuck’. I can go on- Outlander, Limitless…

 

7.

Any last words?

 

Thanks for having me on A.B.! You’re one of my favorite “Solstice Siblings!” Hugz!

 

Solstice Publishing

 

Well, thank you, darlin’! I’m really looking forward to CYPRESS GROVES.

 

Let’s check out the trailer for LAVENDER FIELDS. The star looks familiar! NOTE: Raegyn is an actor, too!

 

About Raegyn

 
download-1Raegyn (pronounced Reagan) Perry is thrilled to share her debut novel, Lavender Fields, with readers. This is the first book in the Eternal Journey Series. It asks the question,

‘What if love found the right people, at the wrong time?’

With the inspiration coming from a true family story, and having found the uninhibited time to write, a story of unequaled love and desperate circumstances was born.

When not writing, Raegyn is perfectly content curled up with a good book, TV binge watching, or on a fun travel adventure. Also, anyone who knows her knows she loves to dance (a lot!) wherever and whenever possible! How would she describe Lavender Fields?


big-book-image“It’s a paranormal romance that centers around reincarnation; so it’s basically two romances! The story is funny, sexy, dark, and raw while being twisted, mysterious, and still somehow romantic.”

Raegyn believes readers can connect with her lovers, Connor and Greye, on a few levels. It has the elements of the classic love story: boy meets & gets girl, but it also tackles some real and uncomfortable issues, while introducing characters that anyone can relate to, root for, or despise altogether! Then, throw some odd clues with a helping of paranormal in, and you have a unique take on a timeless aspect of romance. The author hopes so anyway!

For a love even time can’t deny…

After Raegyn completes the Eternal Journey Series, she hopes to begin work on another series, which readers can actually catch a glimpse of first within the pages of Lavender Fields.

The beautiful Pacific Northwest state of Washington has been home since 2001. She has one grown son whom she adores. Raegyn is currently working on the second book in the series, Cypress Groves, and as a playwright, she’s currently investigating options to get her full length stage play, Daisy Juice produced in the area.

 

 

 

Excerpt 

 Excerpt from Lavender Fields 

The Dream

 

Screams of outrage and pain crashed against the howling wind. Breaking glass followed while a crimson ooze covered the wet ground.

A lingering scent carried on the breeze was swallowed by the night. The orange glow on the horizon turned an ominous dark and the sky rumbled with agitation.

Each time the dream came to her, it was as vivid and profound as before. Through the fog of this dream appeared a hazy universal image. The small, obscure wooden marker at the top of the hill marked a long-forgotten resting place.

 

Greye had dozed off on the park bench and the haunting dream had come upon her again, as it had so many times in years past. She was never able to understand the nightmare, and it unsettled her still, as an adult. Set in a faraway place and time, there was always something more just beneath the surface… hinting at an unknown that should somehow be familiar.

Greye couldn’t have known the role this recurring dream would play in her future.

***

 

Greye looked down to begin writing again when a searing pain shot straight up her leg. She froze in shocked confusion. She grabbed her knee as her eyes blurred with tears. Then she noticed the bright green Frisbee that had smashed into her right kneecap.

The kids were now otherwise occupied, their voices softer and further in the distance. The man was approaching with the Lab in stride. Greye could sense he had stopped in front of her. She heard an anxious and strong, deep voice.

“Oh God, I’m so sorry. Are you OK? I’m so sorry.”

Clutching her throbbing knee with one hand, and wiping her eyes with the other, Greye looked up into his cobalt blues, which were still cringed looking at where his errant disk had landed. Managing to conceal an unexpected sigh, she replied, “I’m fine, I think. Just wasn’t expecting it.”

 

She watched as he drew a hand through his dark, short hair. It was a nervous habit she figured. She also noticed the tousled, shiny waves that threatened to end in curls if his hair got much longer.

***

Connor caught an intriguing scent on the wind he thought he remembered, but couldn’t quite place. “My apologies really. I didn’t expect it to catch that much air.”

As if feeling guilty by association, the golden Lab came and rested its big head on her uninjured leg. When Connor saw the smile she gave his best friend, a warm feeling began to blossom in his chest.

 

Scratching the dog’s ears, she offered, “It’s OK, I’ll live. May never walk right, but I’ll live.”

The casual smirk she quickly added had Connor feeling the stricken pallor of his face blush with heat.

 

“Well, it has to be said, there has been considerable advancement in knee replacement these days. Though I do hope it doesn’t come to that.”

Greye let a soft laugh escape and she countered with, “I don’t think it will. I’m tough. I’ll forego the surgery, and wear this limp with pride.” She gently massaged her red and puffy knee.

 

This time Connor had to laugh. He really liked this pretty woman with the quick and easy comebacks. She appeared to be of mixed race, most likely black and white, with her flawless honey colored complexion. It was those expressive green eyes he found he could get easily lost in. He strongly resisted the urge to touch her soft chin length brown hair, which he noticed, was lit with auburn highlights as it fell in loose waves around a diamond shaped face. He noticed a scar than ran just under her jaw line. Her slender body looked to be in pretty good shape as well.

 

With a cocky grin, and a small bow he said, “A battle wound then I most humbly take credit for. Then he added, “I couldn’t help but notice your perfume. It’s really … nice.”

“Thank you. It’s just hand lotion; honey and—”

“Lavender,” he finished. That’s her scent.

She replied, “It’s honey and lavender, yes.”

 

LINKS AND PRAISE

Lavender Fields (Book 1 of the Eternal Journey Series)

Cypress Groves (Book 2 of the Eternal Journey Series) -WIP

FB Author page:      http://facebook.com/authorRaegynPerry

Twitter:                http://twitter.com/RaegynP

Website:              http://raegynperry.com

Blogsite:               http://raegynperry.wordpress.com

Affiliations:        PNWA (Pacific NW Writers Association) Romance Writers of America

Publisher:            Solstice Publishing/Summer Solstice

Email:                    raegynperrywrites@gmail.com

 

Find out why readers are laughing, crying, and fanning themselves over Lavender Fields! Maybe it’s the humor, heart and hotness within its pages!

 

 readers-favorite-award

***** “Raegyn Perry has a unique talent for transporting her readers beyond the here and now. I found that I was incredibly involved in the love story of Greye and Connor.”

– Angela Beck-Kalnins for Readers’ Favorite

 

***** (5 Stars)

Lavender Fields is a multilayered story that captures the reader’s attention. My first criteria for a good book is do I care about the characters. Greye and Connor have the protagonist likability factors. As their love story unfolds we are given glimpses into an underlying drama. Just a hint of foreshadowing and coincidence that move the story along beautifully. One particular scene is so unique that I have never experienced it in literature (and no, I am not describing it because that would spoil the impact of it.)
I enthusiastically recommend this book and am looking forward to the next installment in the trilogy.
Great work, Raegyn Perry!

~Linda R.

***** (5 Stars)

I loved this story! Lavender Fields is a mixture of mystery, romance and intrigue. It is at times, thought provoking and I could feel the emotions that Miss Perry was spilling over the pages of this heart wrenching love story. The correlation of the past and present comes to together to solve a mystery that pulls the reader in and then tips them over with the reveal. I can’t wait for the sequel!

-Vicki-Ann Bush (Author of Room 629, Fulfillment)

 

Available in eBook and Paperback formats

 

Solstice Publishing: http://solsticepublishing.com/lavender-fields/

Amazon:   http://www.amazon.com/Lavender-Fields-Eternal-Journey-Book-ebook/dp/B015NC4D8E

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lavender-fields-raegyn-perry/1122711459?ean=9781625262790

Bookgoodies:    http://bookgoodies.com/a/B015NC4D8E

 

 

TOMORROW: KATEMARIE COLLINS AND THE CAVEATS ASSOCIATED WITH INHERITED WEALTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A TRUE DRAGON HEART

 

I welcome to the blog Army Veteran, Florida State University grad and former police officer Arthur Butt. A native Long Islander now living in Florida with his spouse, two puppies and one adored SnoopyCat, this confirmed coffee drinker devotes his artistic energies to conjuring fantasy fiction.

 

You have a wide and varied resume. What prompted you to write?

Reading. If you read enough you want to write also.

 

Tell us about the genre you work in. What draws you to fantasy?


414c59728b2e7b4f3a01342a87e600c2f89a12d5-thumbI don’t work in just fantasy, but whatever genre I write in I like to use a blend of science, history and romance in a realistic way.

I have to ask: did you read/watch Game of Thrones? If ‘yes’ care to weigh in on the dragon sub plot?

Don’t watch a lot of TV. Mostly history channel.

As a veteran what in your opinion stands out most in modern portrayals of warfare/policing in literature and visual mediums?

Most of what you see on the television or read is for the masses, more action/adventure than real life.

 

Tell me about your book(s). Your protagonists are brave, self-assured females. Are they based on anyone you know?

goblin warNo one I know, however in a male dominated world, brave, self-assured females (and none of us are self-assured, right?) are often overlooked. GAIL IS GAEA is based on the legend of Nyabinghi, Mother, warrior-goddess of Africa. In ROD OF REALITY and GOBLIN WAR, the MC’s are male and female, neither one self-assured, but knowing they have a problem to solve and trying their best to solve it. Nevertheless, if you look for brave, iron-willed woman you can find them from Boudicca to Margaret Thatcher.

 

You have dogs and a cat. Was this a compromise to please the house? Are you a cat person?

Cat person, have had cats (Siamese) for 30 years. Wife and I got dogs for the grandchildren.

 

I’ve spent some time down in Florida and I love it more every time I visit. How does it compare to Long Island?

I’m in the panhandle of Florida, totally different from the Florida you think of (like Disneyworld). Country life, have to drive a half an hour to go to the store. On Long Island, you’re still rural, but you have the convenience of nearby shopping areas, NYC if you prefer, or wooded areas.

 

What’s next?

Next? Working on MS “CAITLYN” Not a nice story, based on a murder mystery that happened in the 70’s and discovered in the 90’s. Basically, it goes – Boy meets girl, boy kills girl, boy marries her sister, boy turns into alcoholic, wife wonders why her marriage is falling apart, boy is arrested for murder. Not a nice story.

 

 

Some of Arthur Butt’s published works include:

B.E.V. – Clean Reads Pub.

Valley of Shadows – Clean Reads Pub.

The Rod of Reality (Book 1 of Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

The Goblin War (Book 2 Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

(in edits now – World’s End (Book 3 Fairyland series) Clean Reads Pub.

Dragonkiller – Solstice Pub.

The Girl Who Rode Dragons – Solstice Pub.

Gail is Gaea – Solstice Pub.

 

A short excerpt from GAIL IS GAEA:

 

GAEAPontus, Typhon, and Chron crowded around her. “I thought you did not want to be called the spirit goddess?” Pontus said, a puzzled look on his face. “Now you are calling yourself that.”

Gail shrugged and looked grim. “They’re already doing it, so I might as well use the fact.” She gave each a stern look in turn. “But if I hear it out of any of you three, I’ll take this sword and paddle you good, understand me?” She touched her short sword for emphasis.  “That goes for our men too, I don’t care what they think, but they’d better not call me spirit goddess where I can hear it.”

Pontus grinned and said, “Yes, Gaela, as you will.”

“It’s getting dark.” Gail said. Her legs felt weak, sweat and dirt covered every inch of her body. I would love a hot bath, she thought with a sigh, but I can’t put this off any longer. I have to do this so the men can see me – know I’m not afraid.

“I’m going to walk in the battlefield,” she said, tugging on Amber’s leash, “and see if there is anyone I can help that we missed.” The tribesmen parted as she and the oslo left.

In the building darkness, crows and vultures flapped into the sky, disturbed by the passing of Amber and Gail as they strolled among the dead. A few warriors were still busy stripping the bodies of weapons, a low rumble of distant thunder echoed behind her from their voices.  As Gail wandered across the battlefield, she heard the hunters whisper, “Spirit Goddess.”

She said nothing.

 

The Girl Who Rode Dragons

girldragonAll Jackie wanted was equal treatment and a chance to ride a dragon. When her cruel brother-in-law takes over as head of the household and makes her quit school, she is forced to do all the chores and collect wood in the forest. Jackie finds a dragon’s egg, and although law forbids girls to ride dragons, she secretly hatches the egg, and dons boy’s clothes. After she brings the gift of fire to the dragonriders, she becomes an accepted member of their band.

Civil wars break out, dragonrider against dragonrider. Jackie leads the loyalist faction against the rebels. The stakes – the fate of the kingdom and the life of her and the man she has grown to love.

 

 

Links: Twitter – https://twitter.com/?refsrc=email  Facebook / Author Page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthur-Butt-The-Fantasy-SyFi-Author/1528729850734703

Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=Books+by+arthur+butt

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=Arthur+Butt

Instagram Link:

https://www.instagram.com/artyny59/

GEOFF NELDER: CHECKING THE BAGGAGE

Yesterday, UK author Geoff Nelder challenged me with some fun questions and a proviso: “I don’t know” is not an option. Today on Blog Funkhauser, I return the favor. GN is more than up to the task. Welcome!

 

What is your writer’s name?

Geoff Nelder

 

What book you want to publicize? Genre? Target audience?

ARIA1-jupARIA: LEFT LUGGAGE is the only book like it! Infectious amnesia doesn’t exist, thank goodness but that’s the unique premise of this, the first book of a trilogy in a science fiction and medical mystery aimed at adults. Even though Martin Amis says in scifi the plot is the main character, in ARIA everything orbits around people. Imagine the ramifications when the virus spreads with no one immune and everyone losing memory backwards at the rate of a year’s worth per week. People forget their jobs, their address, how to read, write and talk. You wake up next to a stranger each morning! Did you… last night?

 

What book inspired you most, as an adult, to take up fiction writing?

I was born writing jokes culminating in the honour of being an editor for the rag mag at Sheffield University. Teaching meant I had little time to write novels but writing student reports gave me ample opportunities to be creative. In 1995 I won the staffroom prize for writing this report (which I’d probably plagiarised) ‘The dawn of legibility in Stuart’s handwriting revealed his utter incapacity to spell.’ That prize was Tibor Fischer’s THE THOUGHT GANG. It’s premise is thus: consider two C20th century truths: 1) bank thieves were successful; 2) most bank thieves were unintelligent. Now picture an out-of-work philosopher gathering others like him and going on a bank-robbing spree through France. Brilliant, and best of all, Fischer loves playing with words. Maybe so much that the reader is too often whipped out of their fictive dream but it inspired me to write in a humorous mode and so wrote ESCAPING REALITY, a humorous thriller.

 

What funny moment have you experienced at a book signing – other author or yourself?

I was signing ESCAPING REALITY in Carlisle when two gorgeous young women advanced on my table. Pen poised, I asked what they’d like me to write. “Just move out of the way, dear, you’re blocking our way to the Spot the Dog books.”

 

Give us a picture of your usual writing desk / place and one of your favourite place to write? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Most of my writing is done in the library and the picture shows me in the spy-mirror they have there.

librarymirror

My favourite place to write is out in the open though under shade, where I can hear and see the sea on the Greek island of Methana.

office

 

What makes your book a must-read to aficionadas of the genre?

It’s the only one with infectious amnesia; astronaut Leroy Chiao helped with techie details while he WAS IN ORBIT; the idea for writing it came to me while riding up a hill in Wales; endorsed by SF greats such as Mike Resnick, Jonathan Grimwood and Brad Lineweaver; all the locations are real.

 

What makes you mad?

Publishers who take a year to respond with only a ‘don’t love it enough’ and no helpful critiques. I was an acquisition editor and have accepted and rejected thousands of stories and wrote a brief review of each one and within a month.

 

What makes you laugh?

Life makes me laugh – it’s too short not to. At a party I mentioned that sex was the funniest thing people can do. Someone mentioned that to my wife and she retorted: “It IS, with him.”

 

What gets in the way of your writing and how do you overcome such blocks and obstacles?

I’m so easily distracted, especially by grandchildren and their nana. To finish a project I often take myself off to a writers’ retreat or similar for a week. Also I’m addicted to cycling. My legs itch to rotate after being still for two hours. I don’t get writers’ block as such because I’m always working on several projects and just switch one to another.

 

LINKS

Kindle ARIA smarturl.it/1fexhs

Paperback ARIA http://hyperurl.co/52cmtv

Geoff’s Author page UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

And for US readers http://www.amazon.com/Geoff-Nelder/e/B002BMB2XY

Facebook for ARIA

http://www.facebook.com/AriaTrilogy

twitter @geoffnelder

http://nelderaria.wikia.com/wiki/NelderAria_Wiki

website http://geoffnelder.com

SOLSTICE AUTHOR VANAYSSA SOMERS WEIGHS IN ON THE BOY SCOUT

 

VANAYSSA SOMERSTHE BOY SCOUT by Vanayssa Somers

BUY THIS BOOK: http://amzn.to/1PWvuOg

Published: February 12, 2016

Published by Summer Solstice Publishing

The Magic Will Find You!

           

My desire to write was driven by the transformative power of Story. As a child, I loved books about characters who did the right thing and overcame great odds. I was fired with the hunger to experience transformation in my own life and inspire others.

Born in a Yukon winter, I moved to beautiful British Columbia as a toddler and grew up in the deep forests of Vancouver Island. Over the years I trained as a Registered Nurse, earned a B.A. in Sociology from University of Victoria, worked as a Reiki Master, Psychic and NLP counselor. I was blessed to mother a beautiful daughter who, unfortunately, passed away in her twenties. Through that loss I discovered a gold mine of new depth in myself and in life itself, as she returned to visit me and open a new awareness of life after death. The greatest gift of all is life itself.

Over the years I have sought to help and inspire others through my work as a nurse, as the owner/operator of a seaside spa in the U.K., as counselor and psychic.  A graduate of The Monroe Institute and a follower of Bruce Moen’s books and website, I work in soul retrieval and connection with my family in the Afterlife. I believe romantic love to be one of life’s highest experiences. Writing romance is my joy.

VANAYSSA AUTHOR

To contact Vanayssa Somers, click on this link: www.paranormalfantasyromance.com/contact

 

BLURB

A massive shipping container stands open and waiting on the dock of a huge port city, in almost any country. A truck drives up and a load of human beings, in this case, youngsters, are off loaded and packed inside the crate. A crane lifts the container. It takes its place among dozens of other gigantic shipping containers, all locked together on board a freighter.

A week or two later, the container is lifted once more and deposited on another dock, thousands of miles from home. At some point, the kidnappers unlock the crate and those souls who have survived the ocean journey are gathered up and taken somewhere to be sold.

Sold as slaves for either sex, or hard labor, or both. For the remainder of their lives.

Behind them, their country; their birthrights; their families; their rights to education, freedom of speech, equality, all the things we take for granted.

Shocking enough when it takes place on the other side of the world.

More so, when it takes place in America, and the youngsters being kidnapped are American children.

Melchior, King of Fairies, and Theresa, a young American woman are passionately in love, soon to be wed. But a new purpose takes hold of these two magical Wizards as they discover the hazards young people face, unknowingly, every time they step outside their home.

In any country on earth.

Even ours.

 

Amazon reviews for Vanayssa Somers Books:

…one of the best supernatural romance books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Following Theresa, through the span of many years was both interesting and intriguing, never once slowing down. The transition from past to present was seamless. It flowed with the grace of a well trained ballerina gliding across the stage and air with one toe keeping it all in balance. The story is the most interesting of concepts and the romance filled my heart and drew me in. I would recommend this story for anyone who loves the mix of supernatural and love, or to anyone who just loves love. Well done Miss Somers, this story and your writing is a true treasure.

***************************

…I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. Vanayssa Somers made the story and the characters come to life in a way that few authors are able to do. She did her research well on the pagan practices and the horrible time of burning ‘witches’ and any one that dared to be ‘different’ This book has everything from shape shifters to wizards to fairies & more. Truly mesmerizing to the reader with believable characters and places.

 

CHAPTER NINETEEN from The Boy Scout

by Vanayssa Somers

 

Bad Medicine

 

While Theresa engaged Callaway’s shamanic alter ego far away in his ancient Chinese hiding place, 21st century police were setting out to raid his current hideaway. And bring an end to the longest crime spree in human history.

It was 1530 hours on the police clock, a hot summer sun high in the sky.

In the lush forests outside of Summerford, near the border between New Hampshire and Maine, nine vehicles thundered up the graveled road and long driveway toward Callahan’s home.

Avalon’s covert team, subcontracted to Interpol, had been able to bring expanded information to McEwan about Callahan/Tenga. His history, his global organization, his fetish for children. The military intelligence section of Melchior’s elite staff had no problem gathering this data. A lot of it had been gathered already, from centuries of battling the wicked shaman’s efforts to destroy Fairyland. It was there, available, in their Special Ops security files.

Consultation with the U.S., European and Asian headquarters of Interpol, together with intel provided by the covert team from Avalon, had produced a full, massive dossier on Bradley Callahan. Philanthropist, Honorary Boy Scout, Inspirational Speaker.

Arch-criminal, kidnapper, human trafficker, drug boss, rapist, murderer. Killer of small children.

The full extent of Callahan’s crimes was still not fully compiled. A team of experienced staff were busy twenty-four hours a day, raking through every ounce of evidence from every part of the world, fitting the pieces together like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.

His activities were so widely established, and covered so many criminal categories, as to be unbelievable. How could one human being create and manage such a vast rulership of evil?

As one of the top officers of Europol, the European organization independent of, but parallel to, Interpol, had said, it almost felt as though Callahan were not human, but some other kind of creature. Something unheard of in the annals of crime.

The estate was surrounded by forested acreage with wide views of mountains and ocean. Its privacy was underlined by a seven foot tall ironwork fence and gate at the final approach to the house itself.

A disembodied voice echoed from an intercom in the gate, demanding to know their identity and purpose.

The first vehicle, its markings indicating the presence of U.S. law enforcement, pulled to a stop at the gate. A grim-faced officer leaned out his window, requesting admission. He identified himself as an officer with Summerford’s Police Special Reaction Team.

The housekeeper/general assistant on the other end of the intercom went silent for about a full minute as eight more vehicles growled their way up behind the first one.

Then, just before the driver of the first vehicle put his foot to the floor to smash his way through the gate, an answer came.

“Mr. Callahan is not home at this time. We have standing orders never to admit anyone while he is absent from the property, ever, no matter who they are. However, I have sent him a message to tell him you are at the gate and require admission. He may reply shortly.”

The housekeeper/assistant had, in fact, telepathed to Tenga, far in another Age and place. Interrupting the Boss’s plans for his special prisoner trapped in an Energy Web, under an ancient sun looking down upon a volcanic planet.

“Fine. There are nine police investigation vehicles here, and we are coming in. We are fully armored and carrying battle-trained personnel. If you prefer, we can break down the gate. Or, you can open the gate and preserve this very nice entryway for future use. It’s up to you.”

Moments later the gate swung open, admitting the cavalcade of ominous looking armored vans and trucks. Two of the trucks each carried in back ten police officers in full riot gear complete with assault-style semi-automatic rifles.

The other trucks were transporting a full squad of uniformed officers carrying long guns.

At the front of the house an armored truck pulled to a halt. It was a Cadillac Gage Peacekeeper II, built for urban police special actions.

Innocent bystanders and witnesses could be placed behind it, sheltering them from a firestorm of bullets if it came to that.

Within minutes, law enforcement descended in full, irresistible power on the home base of Bradley Callahan, Arch Criminal.

In a steady stream, police boots thumped into the entryway, up the stairs, through the house, into the basement, looking not only for the obvious but for the hidden, the covert, the subversive.

Experts among the teams began to probe corners, window frames, behind pictures, closet shelving, anyplace a hidden compartment or room might await their ferocious, unrelenting onslaught.

Like a mighty ancient army entering a walled city with merciless swords drawn, set to draw blood, the officers carried their long shields, their rifles, their full battle equipment and protective gear.

Nothing in this entire estate, its length and breadth, in the house or on the grounds or in the forest surrounding the estate, would escape their precise and exhaustive examination.

One voice shouted, “I’ve got something!”

The lead investigator, Terry Kincaid, the only member of the raid not equipped with rifles or riot gear, shambled calmly over to his officer.

Kincaid was a veteran of the force, had seen just about everything crime and human madness could throw at law enforcement.

But the dossier on this guy defied belief. He had even wondered if someone was exaggerating when he’d spent the entire previous night sitting up in his study steaming his way through a mountain of paper and computer files.

He stood at the side of one of his best officers, a guy who was known as the go-to person for finding hidden stuff. Monty had a gift. He could sense when something was there, when someone had spent real time figuring out how to cache something away.

But this was outstanding. He’d found a hidden latch, in a closet, disguised as part of the molding, and pressed it. Bingo. The wall had slid smoothly aside, revealing what was almost, basically, another, smaller, house.

Terry stood gazing at the scene before him, at what looked amazingly like a Thaan – a sacred space. Something he’d learned about in a rare trip to the far north, the farthest reaches of Alaska. It was part of shamanic ritual, a place where all the shaman’s stuff was kept, where he carried out chanting and vibratory exercises which, it was said, could open hidden worlds and give a shaman the ability to even change shape and appearance. Not all medicine men everywhere in the world called their sacred space a Thaan – but that was what it was, no matter where on the planet rooms like this were found.

He and his wife had been travelling tourists, and both had an interest in ancient pagan practices. They’d explored aboriginal practices in Australia and Eurasia. Whenever a holiday beckoned, Marta Kincaid made sure it was an educational trip.

The history of North America’s aboriginal peoples was one of Marta’s specialties. She was a professional expert witness, acting on behalf of the Native population when legal need arose. The opportunity to explore further and deeper than anything she’d ever stumbled across had made her persuasive in arguing that her husband should accompany her. Go with her to those far northern reaches and learn about ancient medicine man practices.

You never know, she’d said, when this stuff might come in handy. You get all sorts in our big cities, and you should grab this chance to learn.

So he’d gone with her. Like she’d said. You never know.

And right now, he knew he’d be taking her out for a very special dinner quite soon.

It was an Aladdin’s cave of…stuff.

Shaman’s stuff.

So. This Callahan…maybe had a hidden side. Something no one had suspected.

Maybe he was up to his eyes in this cultish activity. No, not cultish. Way deeper, more extensive, more ancient, than any cult.

Shamanism was a part of human development from the most ancient times, in all parts of the globe.

We’d left it behind, supposedly. But Kincaid knew well, from his private reading, that quantum physics was beginning to open doors onto atomic secrets that were confusingly similar to the old shamanic dreamworld skills.

He felt goosebumps form all over his body as he stood methodically taking note of the items hanging on walls, standing on cabinet shelves, lying carefully stacked on the floor against walls, systematically arranged on large and small tables.

And then he noticed a glass cabinet with items that reminded him of something much more prosaic. Something he actually had experience of in previous crimes. Something quite common in the hiding places of the most dangerous killers. Crazed killers.

If only he was wrong. But the moment his eyes fell on the cabinet, he knew.

It was a collection. This Callahan was the worst kind of criminal – he killed and collected mementoes of his victims.

A Collector.

Above the cabinet, a corkboard. With photos. He moved closer. Children. Beautiful little children, wide eyes staring at the camera in confusion and fear.

He sighed deeply, feeling the mix of despair and finality, a familiar feeling, something he’d come to recognize as the beginning of the solution.

In here, in these rooms, behind the sliding wall, was the evidence that would convict Callahan more than any testimony of any witness.

Stepping across the room, he donned a pair of plastic gloves and carefully slid the glass cabinet door open. Using a pair of tweezers, he picked up the first small item on the lower shelf. A tiny mitten, blue, a common kind of mitten any mother places lovingly on the small hand of a beloved child.

He replaced the mitten and took a look at the other pieces in the heartbreak collection. Every piece was something obviously belonging to a small child.

Although there was no evidence yet of bodies, he knew there would be bodies. Somewhere.

Beneath all the exotic, unusual aspects of this madman, there lay the mind of a common killer. The need to keep souvenirs of each victim. So often, the nail in the killer’s coffin. Irrefutable evidence of murder.

He felt himself going pale with stress. So this would be one of those cases. The worst kind. Haunting his retirement years, keeping him awake, making him bolt upright in bed at two in the morning, sweat pouring off his forehead.

Whatever ancient pagan parts there were to this man, this monster, in the end they all came down to the commonplace. A man who took what he wanted, without regard for anything or anyone.

A common psychopath. Dressed in more ritualistic, unusual garb, perhaps, but common in the basic facts.

He turned to the officers directly behind him, and gave orders.

“Get the forensic team in here, now. There will be bodies, probably many. Children, by the look of things.”

One of his officers, carefully stepping around with the plastic booties they were all wearing, said to him, “Sir, look at this.”

He pointed toward a post-it note, pinned to a corkboard on one wall.

It read, in perfect penmanship, “Get someone to move the bodies at the west fence.”

“Shit,” Kincaid said.

The young officer swallowed hard, took off his hat, smoothed his hair, wiped his forehead, looked at the floor. His lips trembled briefly, just slightly. Then the hat went back on, the head went up, and the sharp, probing eyes began to search the room again.

Members of the forensic team had been downstairs, carefully going through a whole library of what was probably going to be major evidence. He heard footsteps enter the room, and two of its members stood beside him, gazing around in awe.

Now, Kincaid pointed to the post-it note on the corkboard, and to the collection of souvenirs on the cupboard shelves.

The District Attorney commented, “There’s enough here to keep everyone busy for a long time, and we had better get some team members over from another area, there’s just too much for our outfit. We’re a pretty small city. What do you think?” She’d come along due to the high profile of this suspect and the wide assortment of offences he appeared to have committed.

He agreed, and she went off to make some calls and confer with her team downstairs.  They needed help. Particularly because every single piece of evidence had to be handled meticulously and documented in detail. And there were hundreds of pieces of evidence, in all likelihood. Anyone making a mistake in this crime scene – for that was what this house was beginning to look like – would suffer for it.

Children, many of them, probably, had lost their lives here, in this house. Mistakes would be unacceptable.

Terry walked around, taking mental note of every item. He wished he could take pictures for his own use, so he could show Marta. But absolute professionalism was required in this nest of terror.

He recognized many items they’d learned of on that trip, and then from extensive reading they’d both done after returning home. Reading and internet research, videos of topics which ninety-nine percent of people knew nothing about.

There, on that table, was a Shila Dhunga, a clear quartz crystal which represented the celestial mountain. A mountain which connected the shaman to three different worlds – the upper, middle and lower.

By accessing these three worlds through the quartz crystal, the medicine man, supposedly healer, could See the spirits causing sickness in a tribe member.

It worked through the aesiric trance. Necessary to be an effective healer. Or whatever this particular shaman was. Not, perhaps, a healer.

There on the table was a shaligram – a black fossil ammonite, representing the cycles of birth and annihilation.

An aura duster. A fetish pot, interesting. Each shaman made a different kind of collection of items for this. On the wall, a medicine shield, a prayer stick. Here and there, a strange sight, a pile of animal skins. Pieces of leather. Bones, of what origin he could not say offhand. But they would find out. A shudder passed over his back.

He wandered further into the rooms. Feathers, vines, leaves, twigs. Rattles, larger ones, small ones.

On one wall, a collection of some very fine drums. Beautiful art work on some of them. Skins stretched across the frames perfectly, expert craftsmanship. He wondered if Callahan made his own drums. He wondered what animal the skins came from, shut out nightmare imagination.

Or maybe Callahan was not the shaman, himself. Maybe someone in his outfit was the medicine man. At this point, they couldn’t take anything for granted.

There was a healer’s staff. Altar decorations. An altar. A magical wand, used to project black or white energy to someone or something else.

And there. One of the most vital of ancient shamanic tools, a talking stick.

While this kind of stick was used in a healing group, like AA, to help someone take their turn at speaking, it also had other uses.

It represented the world tree, its leaves, branches, trunk and roots. It represented the three worlds again, the upper, middle and lower.

This was essential helper to the shaman as he travelled through time and space, searching for the spirits causing illness, searching for animal totems, this was a tool synonymous with shamanism.

He felt a yearning to remove the talking stick from the wall, where it lay lengthwise, carefully arranged on hide-covered nails, to feel it in his hands, smell it, handle it.

Ignoring his need to reach out and touch it, Kincaid leaned over, hands behind his back, and examined the ornate carving, not only there for beauty and to give visual information of ancient history, but for the more exotic purpose of symbolism.

For these tools were not just outward show, or meant to induce trance in someone seeking a medicine healer’s help.

These tools could be used to carry out shape-changing, travel into the depths of the earth and to the far reaches of the universe. Apparently. So the videos had said.

He’d wondered about that. You just never knew. Married to the kind of woman he was married to, he’d learned to have an open mind.

These tools were used to achieve states and experiences that quantum physicists were only now, at this end of the historical dialectic, beginning to identify as being humanly possible.

They expressed an ancient hominid acquaintance with the deepest, farthest reaches of the subconscious, almost unknown to the white man. Or woman.

He really had to stop thinking and speaking in terms of male presence all the time. There were now plenty of female shamans in the world. Some, quite famous. Using the internet to find clients, as all these practitioners did. Making far more money than Kincaid and his sort could hope to ever see as they plodded through the muck. Through the detritus of criminal madness which peopled their daily work life. Nothing exotic about the worlds he and his officers travelled in. No, sir.

When it came down to it, Callahan was common muck. When you stripped all this mind-blowing stuff aside.

He was just another killer. Just another rapist.

There was a cell waiting with Callahan’s name on it. Possibly, it would have to be a very special cell. Perhaps, lead-lined. Unless, at last, the finality of true death awaited him. At the hands of a jury.

And where, exactly, would they find a jury of Callahan’s peers?  The idea was laughable.

But shape-shifting and time travel were not necessary parts of jury selection. The presence of a healthy conscience and normal intelligence were the things that mattered there.

And Kincaid was going to put him there. In the hands of a jury. Oh yes. He teetered back on his heels, his hands quiet behind his back, head lifted as he gazed around one last time. Lips compressed, eyes wide.

Next step. Get out there and catch this son of a bitch. Put him away for life, or, if he had his way, put him into the Chair.

But first, they had to find the bodies.

The little bodies.

Like any decent human being, he felt tears start up behind his eyes. But he was used to this.

He could handle himself. No tears.

Not here in front of his officers, anyway.

And he marveled at his wife’s intuition. Marty. An amazing woman. She’d known, somehow.

Some day, he’d need to know all about shamanism.

Who would ever have guessed?

Kincaid could not know that this particular shaman was huddled in a parallel universe, invisible, but very much present in the room, watching in impotent, growing rage as the officers went through his sacred sanctuary inch by inch, exploring, taking notes, peering, judging, gathering evidence by the minute, evidence that would destroy Callahan’s painstakingly-structured life.

His entire world-wide network, all his contacts. In his computer, the speeches he had written, speeches people paid him top dollar to listen to. And the children, the little ones he had loved so much.

The police! They could never understand.

And his magic. His sacred tools. What did these fools know of magic carpets, magic chants and spells? What did they know of travel through time, of shape shifting?

He would show them a thing or two. But he would have to be careful about how he handled this. He could not be shot. If he were killed by a police bullet, he’d be dead. Like anybody else. Simple as that. No matter what animal he was shaped like.

He moved out of his safe place in limbo and took a stance in the woods facing the house. He eyed up the armored Cadillac Gage, the Peacekeeper II.

Perfect.

He hoped one of the intruders carried a camera. Because what they were about to see, they would never see again.  Experts would perhaps call this “a mass hypnotic trance” experience. Except they wouldn’t be able to, because he was going to destroy the house and everyone in it. The house and all the evidence against him. He’d crush the computers, smash the hard drives. Grind any evidence against him into the earth.

He knew where the evidence was.

And he’d have to go after the officers heading out to find and dig up the bodies. Without that cursed post-it note he’d left pinned to the corkboard, they would have had no idea about the bodies.

He’d have to kill, destroy, every single police officer on his property. Every one.

But he savored the moment. It was delicious. The world would be left in horror, speculating.

Maybe he could even make an insurance claim for the damage he would do to the house itself.

Grinning from ear to ear, excited beyond measure, Tenga prepared himself.

The only one who would instantly know what had happened here, would be Melchior, King of Avalon.

He wondered suddenly, where Melchior was. The question took up residence in the back of his mind. He knew the Special Ops team had joined up with Interpol to investigate himself, the one-of-a-kind outlaw, Callahan.

So why wasn’t Melchior and his little team of “covert operators” here, with the police? It bothered him more than it should, and he remembered the thought that had passed through the prisoner’s mind, Theresa’s mind, about Melchior being there in the Mesozoic…but that was impossible. The woman was probably just hysterical. Like most women.

Right now he had to give the Summerford Police Force a thrill they would not forget. Just before he killed them all.

Muttering a spell, he threw back his head and uttered a chant.

One young officer, trailing behind his colleagues with shovels, all heading for the west fence, heard a strange shout in the woods and paused. He peered toward the trees.

“What was that?” he asked aloud. The others stopped, frowned, looked back at him.

“Come on, Talbot, there’s a job to do here. What do you mean, what was what?”

At that moment, the forest facing the ironwork fence began to move, to wave back and forth. The group froze, their shovels over their shoulders, faces turned as one toward the woods.

“What the hell? What’s making the trees move like that?” asked the one who’d urged Talbot to hurry up.

The sentence was barely out of his mouth when a nightmare roar sounded and they stood in shock. An unbelievable sight met their eyes.

A dinosaur, as massive as a two storey building began to lumber out of the woods toward them. It paused, lifted its terrifying head armed with rows of sharp teeth, turned to look right at them, and began to move deliberately toward the group.

As one, the men screamed, yelled for help, threw their shovels aside, and fled toward the house. Other officers, hearing the racket, came out and stood staring.

One of them yelled into the house, “Everybody run. Hide. There’s a goddamn dinosaur out here. T Rex. It’s coming right for us.”

No sooner had the men slammed the door shut – as though that would help –than the sound of tearing, crunching metal echoed around the property.

The armored van, built to withstand automatic machine gun fire, lay with its roof crushed down to the ground, bent beyond repair, a gigantic foot resting on what was left of the truck’s body. The animal stood at least thirty feet tall, its own armored plates far superior to any armored vehicle when combined with the killing power of the giant predator.

The windows were filled with human faces, expressing a combination of fear, horror, and excitement.

“Max,” one of them yelled through the house to the forensic photographer, “get in here. This is the picture of the century. You’re missing it…”

His voice faded as they all turned and fled toward the back of the house, and Kincaid came out of the hidden den to see what the uproar was about.

He was just in time to see the entire front of the house begin to shake and come apart, the window frames falling inward, the door falling flat on the floor, and a massive green leg intruding through the wall.

The creature was coming inside, was going to destroy the entire structure of the home. The entire crime scene. There would be nothing left to convict Callahan with. That was the only thing Kincaid could think as he stood his ground.

Max materialized beside him, camera flashing and popping. Then Max grabbed Kincaid’s coat and yelled, “Get out of here, Detective. Run. Shit, what’s wrong with you, man? Run!”

But Kincaid looked around, frantically trying to think how to stop the beast. This house was all they had to follow Callahan’s own path of destruction around the globe. If the beast came fully inside, tore the roof off the house, which it clearly intended to…

Then it gave a mighty shove forward, another huge leg thumped onto the floorboards and suddenly the dinosaur was right there, in front of him, right in the house, the roof crashing in, boards falling everywhere, glass splintering.

And the whole earth seemed to be shaking, as in an earthquake. The house shook, the ground shook.

The beast thundered toward Kincaid, who astonished even himself by standing his ground. Moved into shooting stance with arms outstretched. He lifted his weapon toward the T Rex’s head. And suddenly, the game changed.

A stand of century-old virgin timber at the front entrance, a half dozen 80-foot Douglas fir trees which had formed a source of pleasure and shade for those who lived there, began to teeter and fall forward, tumbling in majestic collapse over what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

 

what remained of the roof of the house, and with a never-to-be-forgotten rumble, gave up the ghost. Kincaid fled to the back door with the remainder of his men, watching over his shoulder as a small forest fell on the beast, no doubt crushing it under a gargantuan weight of board feet.

Then Kincaid stopped, whirled around, his eyes bugging out in disbelief once more.

The T Rex was no more. Not dead. Not lying stretched out across the remains of the front entryway.

No.

The great predator had vanished.

He called the men to come back. Ordered them to pull themselves together and get back in there. Or else.

“It was a bunch of trees falling, the animal has disappeared,” he hollered to them.

Cautiously, taking courage from the new silence in the house, a couple of his officers returned, expecting a scene of total carnage.

Yes, the front of the house was in carnage. But there was no sign of the towering beast.

There was no body. The mighty tail, which had apparently dragged and swished across the fir trees, pulling them down, had disappeared along with the rest of the beast.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS TO VANAYSSA SOMERS’ BOOKS:

 

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ELEMENTAL MAGIC: YA AUTHOR MARNIE CATE REVISITS OLD FRIENDS IN ADVANCE OF HER NEW RELEASE

It’s my great pleasure to introduce to you Marnie Cate, a young adult fantasy author chasing her dreams with the same energy and verve as the characters she creates. Today on Blog Funkauser, she revisits REMEMBER: PROTECTORS OF THE ELEMENTAL MAGIC. She does this in advance of her next release EXIGENCY. Coming Soon.

Congrats, Marnie!

 

 

coverSynopsis

Hiding the truth from you is no longer protecting you. Sit and I will tell you what you need to know.

With those words, the secrets of my great grandmother, Genevieve Silver, were unburied and my role as a protector of the elemental magic was revealed.

My name is Marina Addisyn Stone but Mara is what my friends and family call me.  I had always felt that there was something missing and that nothing was permanent. Why would I feel that way?  I was being raised with my little sister by my grandmother that loved and doted on me. Then, there was Cole Sands. Who could forget the blue-eyed boy that had stolen my heart? What more could a girl need?  I always thought I was just being dramatic and that bad things do happen to people but that is part of life.  People die.  People go away. Little did I know that with one secret, my life would change forever and my new world would be surrounded by the world of elemental magic?

 

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Excerpt

As I felt my determination build, the mirror in front of me began to change and the reflection filled with rippling water. The image made me think of the choppy water of Sparrow Lake. At first, the small waves were calm but the speed and intensity of each movement of the water grew. I found myself being splashed as the waves grew harder and began to slap against the mirror. Standing up, I moved away just in time to watch the mirror before me shatter and the violent water burst out towards me.

The room began to fill with rushing water. Feeling around the room, I searched for an exit. Behind the shattered mirror, I only found solid rock. Looking to the ceiling, I could see the same hard stone. Feeling the emotions build inside me, I began search the floor and walls around me for any exit.

“Damn! Damn! Damn it!” I cried.

The water did not slow. Instead it continued to fill the room as I frantically searched for my escape. The water soon reached my knees and, what seemed like seconds later, I was wading through waist high water. As the water continued to rise, I was soon struggling to keep my head above water. It was not enough that the water was filling the room so rapidly but soon the water felt alive. The cold waves kept tossing me back and forth as the water rose and I began to feel like I was in a game of Ping-Pong where I was the ball. Soon, I found myself pulled under the icy water and surrounded by thousands of bubbles. Frantically kicking my feet to keep my head above water, I broke the surface.

Remembering the swimming lessons my grandfather insisted on, I thought about the times I spent with my grandfather learning to swim. I began to feel less scared as I recalled his calm voice and gentle words telling me that I would be safe. As I floated in the rising water, it seemed to respond to my emotions. The thrashing became calmer as I focused on my grandfather’s words. My brief moment of peace did not last. Before I knew it, I had almost reached the ceiling that had no exit and I began to panic. At this rate, I would be trapped and drowned in minutes. As if it was feeding off my fear, the water began to toss me around again.

As the water began to rise up my neck and almost over the top of my head, I tried to calm myself. You are the granddaughter of Mae Veracor and the great granddaughter of Genevieve Silver. You are the descendent of strong women. You have nothing to fear. With these words, the water once again calmed and I was able to tilt my head back above the water. How am I going to get out of this?

 

Remember: Protectors of the Elemental Magic is on sale $0.99 / £0.99 Kindle from February 5th – 11th 2016

 

Amazon Book link: My Book

 

Author Biography

marnie authorMarnie Cate was born and raised in Montana before adventuring to the warmer states of Arizona and California. Her love of Dame Judi Dench and dreams of caticorns and rainbows inspired her to chase her dreams. One great sentence came to mind and the world of elemental magic and the humans they lived amongst filled her mind. With Remember, the story has begun.

 

 

Other Works by Marnie Cate

Exigency: Protectors of the Elemental Magic – Coming Soon

The story of Mara Stone continues.  Her world was shaken but she is a fighter.  Facing new adversaries, Mara is learning what it truly means to protect the magic.

 

Awethology Light – Contribution Story  

Beginnings: Protectors of the Elemental Magic (Novellette)

The story of Genevieve Silver and the origins of the protectors of the magic. With the balance of the elemental world shaken, four elementals take on the task of protecting the magic.

 

Links:

http://www.marniecate.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarnieCate

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00UJNT7J8

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Marnie_Cate

Twitter: @Marnie_Cate

TIME TRAVELING TRIPLETS, TELEKINESIS AND K.C. SPRAYBERRY

Multi genre author K.C. Sprayberry stops by the blog to discuss her latest YA, PARADISE LOST BOOK 2 THE ULTIMATE PARADOX, with a little help from her characters who compare her to ‘mom’. Welcome K.C. Talk to us about Paradox 2.

 

Book CoverParadox Lost Book 2: The Ultimate Paradox is about triplets (DJ, Matt, and Elisa) that are also time travelers. DJ and Matt are typical brothers, shutting out their sister, but not for the typical reasons. They sense that she’s not really supposed to be with them, so they’re giving her the cold shoulder.

While in most ways, these teens seem very typical, they also possess incredible talents. Not only are all three strong telekinetics, they also have other talents, such as spellcasting, healing, thought reading, telepathy, and a whole host of other skills. They’re about to finish their education when the story began in book 1, but that derailed quickly when it became clear that a legacy foretold two centuries ago is now about to come true.

DJ, the eldest of the trio, has to run for his life after being convicted of his dad’s murder. Only Dad is still alive, but seriously injured, in another time. Matt is a ghost, having been killed in a Rogue attack in Mexico, but he’s not the kind of guy that sits back and does nothing just because all the other ghosts tell him that’s what they do now. Elisa is a captive at Beaufort School for Visionary Studies and she’s not taking that sitting down. Her captors soon learn that she’s not someone they should ever mess with.

DJ, Matt, and Elisa try to go on their own path, thinking that is the best way to solve the problem. That only delays them in their quest, until all of them are reminded that together they’re a force to be reckoned with and then they have to get past a few stumbling blocks before they’re ready to combine forces.

 

Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox releases January 15, 2016!

 

Welcome to book two of a series much like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

 

If you had the chance to read Paradox Lost: Their Path, you came to know DJ, Matt, and Elisa, and discover the path destiny has laid out for them. In Paradox Lost: The Ultimate Paradox, these triplets each have to make their way through a series of obstacles and prepare for a showdown with Rogues.

This new story brings out new information about the Sullivans and the destiny none of them was aware would be theirs to claim, along with several big surprises.

 

Book Blurb

 

The past changed the future …

                                    . . . the future must salvage the past.

 

Falsely accused of murdering his father, DJ faces a terrible penalty. That’s the least of his worries—Uncle Toby and his army of Rogues are bent on tearing history apart, and DJ and his allies have to stop them any way they can. But only a True Neutral can save their world, and The First, his family’s ancestor, is long dead. His brother Matt was killed by Toby’s actions, and his sister Elisa is fighting her own demons.

The past created by their uncle needs to be uncreated into what it was meant to be. And these three teenagers, triplets and direct descendants of The First, must learn to ally with each other to correct the errors made real in the past.

And the Gateways reveal themselves as something no one ever suspected….

 

Pre-order now!

http://bookgoodies.com/a/B01AATE9UW

Author Bio

author photoBorn and raised in Southern California’s Los Angeles basin, K.C. Sprayberry spent years traveling the United States and Europe while in the Air Force before settling in northwest Georgia. A new empty nester with her husband of more than twenty years, she spends her days figuring out new ways to torment her characters and coming up with innovative tales from the South and beyond.

She’s a multi-genre author who comes up with ideas from the strangest sources. Some of her short stories have appeared in anthologies, others in magazines.

 

 

Website/Blog/Twitter links

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcsowriter

 

Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

CHARACTER INTERVIEWS

 

DJ Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Lucas Till as DJ Sullivan croppedI’m Dennis James Sullivan XI. Call me DJ. Everybody does. I’m the oldest of triplets. We’re pretty astral with our powers. Not just telekinesis and telepathy but other stuff. My big thing is the ability to use brute force when I’m out helping my dad. That’s why Matt died instead of me. Kind of sucks. I could have… well, maybe I couldn’t have stopped those boulders. We’ll never really know that.

Anyway, lots of strange things have been happening to me. My uncle, Toby, wanted to have my powers bound but my posse helped me out of that tight spot and we’re now in hiding. That doesn’t sit well with me. Like Matt, I’m a take action kind of guy, but unlike him, I also need to think about stuff before I do it. And all of these powers are scaring me a lot. Like who doesn’t know about the True Neutral. I sure don’t want all that responsibility.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

Nice lady. A lot like Mom. Matt will probably say that too. We think alike too much. This person understands us, lets us be ourselves. Love that. She’s even giving me time to think about Lexie, my girl. Well, she might be my girl, if everything works out all right.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a good story. Real. What we face with Rogues right now. Rogues are Travelers who don’t like the rules and aren’t willing to follow them. They do what they want. The whole personal gain thing doesn’t seem to have caught up with them yet, but it will. See, we can’t do anything that will help us out of a tight spot, unless it’s to help humanity. That’s why I haven’t been able to go back to that place in Mexico, before Rogues attacked, and bring back my aunts and uncles… and Matt.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong. Sure I’m down about losing most of my family, but being in this book, letting the world learn about Travelers? Fantastic! We’ve been doing this for so long and it’s time ordinary humans learned about us. It’s totally cool going back in time, or even seeing the future—and I want to do that so bad one day. First, though, we need to clean up this Rogue problem.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

More of the same until we have all Rogues taken care of. But that’s cool. No problem there. See, Matt and I would have been in Repairs if this whole Rogue War thing hadn’t gotten in our way. Repairs is where Travelers go fix problems that have come up. We would have even got to work with TES (Traveler Enforcement Squad) to stop other Travelers from changing history. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do once we finish here. Sure would like to have a lot more adventures.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

A few more. That’s what Matt and Elisa keep telling me. Sure hope they don’t include that whole True Neutral thing. I’d like to have a normal life for a while, as normal as Travelers can have.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

Someone wants to make a movie about Travelers? Cool. Totally cool. Who would I want to play me? Let me think. There’s this guy. Just did a movie, X-Men: Days of Future Past a few years back. Lucas Till is his name. Yeah, he’d play me really well.

 

Matt Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Stefano Masciolini as Matt SullivanYo, Matt here. Yeah. That’s right. The guy that died in the first book is coming on strong in this one. I get to tell my own story, and let me tell you, I’m not gonna hang around wherever the cosmos has stuck me and cry about being dead.

I’m the middle triplet, the one that is always on the go, always thinking up new pranks. Now, though, I’m the guy with a mission—to help my brother and sister kick some Rogue ass. First, though, I have to figure out how to get away from this prison without walls where I’m stuck, and that’s going to take quite a bit of work. Turns out that whole personal gain thing I’ve lived with all my life and didn’t think much about? Well, around here, it’s huge. You want to use someone for something, you run into this invisible wall that knocks you backward. Can’t get through it. But I’ll figure out how to get out. You can bet on that.

So, you want to know more about me, do you? I’m pretty much a what you see is what you get sort of guy. No sitting around discussing things in committee for me. Action—that’s where I’m at. Let someone else handle all the discussions. I’ll be out there teaching those Rogues a lesson they won’t ever forget.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

Awesome lady. Kind of reminds me a lot of my mom. You know the type. Family first, kick the backside of anyone that hurts them. Herself last. She’s pretty cool the way she lets me take the lead instead of shoving me into a corner while Elisa and DJ get to have all the fun.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

This story is intense. All our lives DJ and me (oh yeah, and Elisa) have had to live with this legend about the True Neutral. We’ve all heard over and over again how The First made this prophecy that someday, someone would get all the powers Travelers have. Crazy if you ask me. Some of those powers will be the direct opposite of others, but that’s the way it is. Anyway, like who wouldn’t want to be this person in total control? But not me. No way. I’m not a give orders kind of person, and besides, nobody would listen to me. But the story, especially the parts when I get to see my girl, Dixie, great.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

Love it. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. People need to know what Travelers really can do, and why we can’t sometimes. They also need to know all about personal gain. That’s pretty important. It’s kind of like this—we can’t go save you from messing up your whole life because you’re about to be in more trouble than you thought possible. That was your choice. You have to pay that price.

 

It’s kind of like what happened to me when I begged to go with my dad in book 1. That wasn’t what I wanted, and I sure don’t like the consequences, but I figure I’ll somehow get used to this prison without bars. Maybe.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Well… you mentioned no spoilers. Not much I can tell you except that there will be another book soon. Other than that, I’ll probably go back to that prison without walls, until it’s time to break free again.

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Oh yeah. At least two. More if I can help it. I love the adventures, even as a ghost. Definitely going to make sure there are more books.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

An actor playing me? Really? Definitely Stefano Masciolini. Dude might be Italian, but he looks exactly like me. And he’s into all the action and kicking major butt thing.

 

 

Elisa Sullivan

  1. Introduce yourself to our readers. Where do you fit into the story? What should we know about you?

 

Sophie Turner as Elisa SullivanMy name is Elisa Sullivan. I’m a Traveler. That means that I get to travel through time on these really great Gateways. And I can talk to them. Not many Travelers think Gateways are sentient, but they are.

I’m a triplet, the youngest one. Our family is part of this kind of scary but totally awesome legacy, where one of us is supposed to become the True Neutral. Only no one really knows when that will happen. And everything about Travelers, especially Sullivans, is connected to the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fires in San Francisco. There’s a huge world out there, but we can’t seem to get past the ‘original event’ and figure out that a lot of people need our help. Sure hope that happens soon, ‘cause I think I can find places where we can do a lot of good.

 

  1. What do you think about the author? Tell us everything. We want to know.

 

She’s great. I like how she makes me so strong, but also lets me be afraid. That’s real, how most girls will react in the situations I face. And she doesn’t make me into some wimpy crybaby. But that whole screaming thing? Yeah, I do need to learn how to tone that down. A lot. Got to hear myself as a little girl doing it. Wow! That really hurts the ears.

 

  1. What are your feelings about this story?

 

It’s a fabulous story, full of adventure and intrigue. My awful uncle doesn’t realize that I’m the one person he never can control. He tries, though. Has since I was a little girl, but I don’t like Toby one bit and I’ll never do anything he wants.

 

  1. How do you feel about being a character in this book?

 

I love it. Well, there are times when I’m not so sure, but mostly it’s a lot of fun. Can you imagine being able to hide from everyone on plain sight or sneaking around as a spirit and then going back to your body? And traveling through time, seeing all those great places. Riding in Gateways is a blast.

 

  1. What do you see in your future? (No spoilers please!)

 

Oh, a lot more adventure. My brothers—all Travelers—will learn that I won’t sit in the shadows any longer. I am as good as Matt and DJ, and I won’t let anyone stop me from being part of their adventures!

 

First, though, we have to get through the third book, and kick some major Rogue butt. I’m really thinking I need to deal with Miranda. She really pisses me off with that “wittle baby” thing she’s always doing. I’ll show her who is a baby. (pauses for a minute.) Or maybe not. Is that personal gain? Can I get in trouble for that?

 

  1. Is there another Paradox Lost book in the future? Will you be part of it?

 

Current plans are for at least one more Paradox Lost book, possibly two. Who knows what the future holds? This trio of young adults seem to like the action.

 

  1. Say a movie producer comes knocking. What actor/actress would you want to play you and why?

 

For Elisa? Sophie Turner from Game of Thrones. She’s an actress that has to overcome numerous obstacles. I can see her reveling in the role of Elisa, the child no one accepted, felt as if she shouldn’t have been there.

 

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/2dzY5Z0qOrY

 

Social Media Links:

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/KC-Sprayberry/331150236901202

 

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Blog: http://outofcontrolcharacters.blogspot.com/

 

Website: www.kcsprayberry.com

 

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Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005DI1YOU

 

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BACK WITH MORE: AUTHOR RIVAL GATES AND MANDREAN REVENGE

Back with a new release, MANDREAN REVENGE, author Rival Gates shares the origins behind the Red Sapphire and offers a hint of what’s to come.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

Rival Gates Suit Enhanced(2)_peI was born in Port Huron, MI and was the youngest of four surviving children.  At the age of five my Father took a position as a magazine editor in Toronto, Ontario Canada.  We moved to a large city just outside Toronto called Mississauga.  The different cultures and demographics to which I was exposed formed many of the ideas for my story.

When I was thirteen, my Father’s declining health forced him out of work and our family struggled.  It was at that time that I decided to channel my negative energy into a constructive purpose.  I set out to write a short story about a magical gem called the Red Sapphire.  My brothers teased me that such a stone was simply a ruby.  That irony was part of the attraction for me.  After all, who would be writing about a Red Sapphire?  Years went by and we moved down to my Father’s home town of Harrow, Ontario on the shores of Lake Erie.  It was a drastic change from city life and I found myself retreating more and more into my ever growing story.  By age fifteen I had a two-hundred page hand written manuscript.

Advancing from high school to college at Michigan State University there was little time for writing and the project sat in a drawer in my parent’s home.  In spite of my lack of attention to writing, every night I would fall asleep working out details of the book and the series to follow.

I met a wonderful woman at Michigan State who agreed after graduation to become my wife.  As we started our family I began a career in retail management and sales.  For over twenty years I excelled in the field and even incorporated some of my knowledge into the book.  I hold my position in the greatest esteem.

While I rewrote the story several times on my computer, I did not attempt to publish it until the longest supporter of my writing, my Mother, became terminally ill.  She told me the last time I saw her how proud she was of the story I had created and made me promise to publish it and share it with the world.  With the loving support of my wife, our three children and the help of the good people at Solstice Publishing, I am fulfilling that promise.

When my Father (ever the editor) read the book, he told me how proud he was and that somewhere he knew my Mother was equally proud.  I present to you the first part of the saga which is my life’s work, “Quest for the Red Sapphire.”  May it bring you as much joy to read as it has brought me to write.

Rival Gates

MANDREAN REVENGE

It has been more than 2 years since Linvin Grithinshield returned from his life altering quest with the Red Sapphire as his prize.  Apart from surviving the regular assassination attempts he thought life had returned to normal.  Far to the north in the Mandrean Empire, however, trouble was festering.  In spite of Linvin’s best efforts, Lord Mandrean the 13th survived their confrontation and has been plotting his reprisal.  With his empire on the verge of revolt he needs a show of force to display his dominance.  Dispatching Linvin in front of his subjects would fill that role most handsomely.  With the help of his evil Necromancer, Mandrean kidnaps Linvin’s Uncle Anvar.  The elderly elf is the closest family Linvin has remaining and has been a father figure to him for much of his life.  The emperor promises to release Anvar only after Linvin has surrendered himself for execution.  Though Mandrean’s word has slight credibility, Linvin is given a terrible decision to make.  With little choice Linvin sees no other option but to set out for the empire.  He cannot delay as Anvar’s life will expire at the first frost of fall.  That will become more troubling by the obstacles he faces along the way.

  • Q & A

The cover art is fantastic. Tell me about its genesis.

Cover RevengeThe artist wanted my ideas.  I wanted the embattled protagonist (Linvin) displayed ready for war yet unaware of the evil, demonic forces watching him and about to ruin his world.  The image had to invoke fear in the viewer and I believe it does.

Game of Thrones continues to hasten the quest renaissance begun by the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit reboots over the past decade.  What’s your take on the on-going popularity of this genre?

Many of my Twitter followers are fans of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings.  They have brought younger people into the genre.  It’s refreshing because I hear new points of view and opinions about various aspects of the series.  The genre continues to grow and that bodes well for my books in the future.

Let’s talk about Mandrean and Linvin. For me, David and Goliath instantly spring to mind. Who did you think about when casting these characters?

In making the characters I envisioned a bully and his gang against the new kid on the block.  David and Goliath is not far off.  Linvin is a great warrior.  But he is up against an entire empire that hates him.  The odds are so ridiculously stacked against him that he must always find a new way to survive.  He is the guy you want to root for and love to see succeed but this time he may have taken on too much to handle.

Good v. Evil never gets old in art and in life. What value do you place on balancing the two? Should an antagonist have sympathetic qualities?

You see flaws in both my good and evil characters.  A key point I have always believed in is that good and evil really depend on your point of view.  Lord Mandrean thinks he is in the right and so does Linvin.  As an antagonist you have to feel for Mandrean.  He is clueless about so many things and is manipulated with ease.  Even writing his character I found myself feeling sorry for him sometimes.  Then he would remind me of why he is the antagonist and the feeling would go away.

Sapphires come in many colors. What made you decide to go with red?

Great question!  I’m surprised no one has ever asked me that.  A red sapphire is really a ruby.  It is called a sapphire because in the backstory a Great Sapphire Prism of the Cosmos was wiped over the world because the magicians had too much power.  This broke the magic up into 6 colors of the spectrum with red and blue as the most powerful.  Then a blue and red piece were broken off and given to the world with equal power.  One would protect life and the other would seek to dominate it.  It would be up to the individual masters to determine if good or evil was stronger.

Strong male characters v. strong females. Do you feature any in MANDREAN? Can we expect more?

I have several strong male characters and one particularly strong female character.  There are more female characters in the book but I wanted this one to stand out so that she was more important.  If I had half a dozen strong females then she wouldn’t be so special.  There’s no telling what the future holds.

You’ve mentioned that you are Canadian-raised, American-born. How does this duality feed your fiction?

It played into the creation of Linvin.  He is half Human and half Elf.  Growing up neither race accepted him.  In Canada I was mistreated growing up as an American and in America I was ridiculed as a Canadian.  Neither place accepted me very well either.  When I lost my Canadian accent it became a lot easier but I poured a lot of that resentment into Linvin.

Share with us the quote that inspires you most.

“Luck is the place where preparation and opportunity meet.”

If you could ask your interviewer a question, what would it be and why?

“Is there a question you want to ask but don’t feel like you can?  Why not?”  I always wonder if there’s a line you don’t want to cross as an interviewer and what it might be.

Thanks for dropping by Rival. Let us know how MANDREAN does and don’t hesitate to share another excerpt in the future. Cheers.

EXCERPT

Mandrean closed the door and was in a darkened room. A sole

candle on the nightstand was the only light. A great shadow was

cast on the wall from the dilapidated figure in the bed. Mandrean

moved slowly toward the man while his eyes adjusted.

“Hello, boy,” said the uncharacteristically soft voice of

Gramlick. “I am afraid I cannot play today. I am not well. Maybe

after it stops raining we can go feed the horses.”

“I look forward to that, School Master,” Mandrean replied as he

sat in a chair by the bed with his head hung low.

Gramlick was a powerful looking man, even with his leg

amputated. His snow-white beard was in tatters but still worthy of

note. A lifetime of war and hard living had destroyed his body, but

some evil had hastened his demise.

“How are you, my friend?” asked Mandrean.

“Manenvious? When did you arrive? I was just having a dream

in which we were about to feed the horses apples in the barn. Do

you remember those days, Boy?”

For the first time, Mandrean smiled in a sincere fashion. “Those

were wonderful days. You were my teacher from my earliest

memories,” the middle-aged emperor recalled. “Under your

guidance, I have learned everything from reading to battlefield

tactics.”

Gramlick sat himself against the headboard on the bed. “And

after all these years, you come to my chambers now. Clearly the

doctors were serious about my prognosis. Only a great calamity

would bring you here in this fashion.”

“Your death is no certainty,” Mandrean assured. “You have

fought your entire life, and I see you fighting this disease for some

time.”

Gramlick tried to chuckle but began to cough instead. After the

spasm had finished, he spoke. “I knew I was a good teacher, but I

do not recall teaching you the medical profession. Nor did I teach

you to be a liar. That is a skill you developed on your own over the

years. I must say, Manenvious, you have never done it well. My

eyes can tell when you’re deceitful as easily as they can tell if

you’re awake. I suppose speaking untruths is a part of politics, but

I expect honesty when dealing with me. Come to peace with the

fact that I am about to leave this existence. I have. Then tell me

what you need to say. You seek my council one last time. Yes?

Ask and I shall give you my final lesson though the words will

sting. You rarely like my answers, but they are always the truth.”

Mandrean contemplated as tears formed in his eyes. He

observed his mentor and tried to hide his pain. Pockmarks were

evident on Gramlick’s leg. “Did they leach you?”

“Oh, yes,” replied the general. “Those slimy creatures feasted

well today. Speaking of that, I understand you come from court

with its own form of parasites. Come. Unload your burden.”

“Your ears must be good if you can hear all the way to court,”

Mandrean answered. He stood and began to pace with his hands

behind his back. “Are you sure you are up to hearing this?” the

emperor asked hastily.

“My mind is clearing, and I have no other plans at this moment.

Tell me your troubles, Boy.”

“Very well, my teacher, I am surrounded by incompetent,

selfish fools! Those generals cannot even manage their own

territories. Even the simplest of tasks are too much for them to

handle. All they do is complain and secretly push their own

agendas.”

“That should come as no surprise. Those are the same greedy,

selfish men you and your father promoted to those positions. They

have not changed for the better. Why would you expect power to

do that for them? Tecious has been a loyal servant of the crown for

years but long ago lost his appreciation for anything other than his

title. His inability in the field drove your father to make him a

trainer. Even in that position, his apathy infects his work and your

legions. He uses the cane when I know he need not. The man has

no passion for his posting.

“Maxion is as dirty as coal. You know this. You have known

this. Yet he remains in power. He steals your taxes and starves

your slave-workers in the mines so that he might sell the excess

food to pay for his extravagant lifestyle. No number of troops will

stop starving people from rebelling. And those in rebellion will

mine precious little ore. Still, you do nothing.

“Donorus executed an invasion I planned with overwhelming

force. In spite of his victory, he neither seized the assets of the

former nation’s treasury nor has been able to control the

population in spite of several years of occupation. As a result, their

people pay no taxes and he is incapable of extracting the funds.

Still he portrays himself as a mighty commander. He is a joke. His

own people lack respect for him. They should all be discharged

and replaced.

“That leaves our new Western commander. What do you think

of my handpicked replacement, Tathbar, in particular? Did he not

please you?” the general asked.

“I cannot believe you of all people would make him your

number two,” Mandrean raged. “He is arrogant and a whelp.”

“So were you when I stood by you in court at his age,”

Gramlick noted with a touch of irony. “He is poorly mannered and

lacking in military experience, but he is a capable administrator

who speaks plainly. It seems that these days those are the most

important functions a provincial governor has.”

“You are right about his military background, Gramlick. He

actually suggested disbursing our military stores to the people.”

“Yes,” Gramlick said. “I agree with him and endorse the plan.”

Mandrean was in disbelief. “Not you as well?”

“Tathbar is right, Lad. We have to redistribute the grain to feed

our people and stabilize the economy. The embers of revolution

are growing. Hungry citizens will only add fuel to this fire until it

is out of control. Such a fate would be the end of the empire.”

Mandrean looked betrayed and retorted, “And what of

Romadon and her armies?”

“Oh, you and Romadon again. It really turns your stomach that

we had to make peace with them years back…does it not? They

are no threat to invade now or any time soon. Their forces are

defensive in nature, and they have no need or desire to press our

borders. Defending the vast expanse of their own land is taxing

enough. They have a wealth of natural resources and goods for

which we could trade. We have precious few trade partners.

Adding Romadon to the list would enrich both sides.”

“Where has your fight gone, old one? They are but waiting for a

chance to strike us at our weakest moment. With no long-term

supplies, we would not be able to hold for long. We should attack

them and take their resources by force.”

“Fight? Listen to yourself, Boy. Even if I am wrong and they

did attack, you still have plenty of forces to repel them. But that

will not happen. I know their king too well. He has had his fill of

war for the moment. With the Goblin Nations quarreling with one

another and our invasion efforts downgraded, he will turn his

attention to his domestic agenda. His borders are as far out as he is

willing to go. Even if their king were to attack us, it would only

help our situation.”

“How, teacher?” Mandrean inquired as he came over to the bed

again.

“If the empire was attacked, the people would stand behind you

to repel the invaders. It would give you the backing you lack. But

as I said before …Their king is not so foolish. Tend to your own

borders and the souls within them.”

Mandrean found the tone insolent but would not escalate the

argument with a dying man. “So you’re saying that distributing the

grain is the best way to deal with this situation?”

“Distributing the grain is the only way to appease the people,

save the economy and your throne. I know it. Tathbar knows it.

And deep down inside you know it. Tathbar did not approach the

subject well, but his solution was still best.”

The emperor was taken aback. He hung his head and bit his lip.

With his face staring at the floor, he spoke in a quiet, subservient

tone. “Do you know what you ask of me? It is too much? I cannot

let go of the dream of conquering Romadon.”

Gramlick touched his protégée on the arm. “I know what I ask,

my lord. I ask that you be a good ruler—a good emperor—and do

right by the people who hold you at such heights. They know

nothing of your dreams for glory or conquest. They only know that

they have served the empire loyally for years.

“A nearly foreign army of purchased slaves protects them and

occasionally pillages their land. Their roads are falling apart and

clean water is becoming rare. Now food is in short supply while

this army of slaves eats their fill. There is great resentment. Fix the

roads. Mend the land and the water. Make your people prosperous.

Then reorganize the legions to include humans again with archers

and cavalry. The infantry-heavy units you have favored since the

war with Sartan are inflexible and cumbersome to command.

When the Empire is strong once again, Romadon will still be

waiting.

“Marinhalk and your court are viewed as uncaring tyrants in all

the provinces. The people are tired of war. What do they see of the

empire’s gains? Only a hand full of the wealthy nobles reaps the

benefit of new lands. The peasants see their taxes paying for goblin

thugs to mistreat them while our engineers are sent to assure

conquered people’s roads are in good order.

“Your empire is crumbling under its own weight, my lord. You

have much to do in order to remedy that, and I will not live to see

your actions take effect. Every job must start somewhere and this

one begins with feeding those upon whose shoulders you stand.

Let your name go into the history annals as the Lord Mandrean

who restored the empire to its former glory, rather than the one

who let his people starve so that murderous goblins would have

excess.”

The words painted a turbulent and terrifying picture for

Mandrean. No one save for Necromancer would dare regard him in

such a way. He began to search for holes in the plan so that he

might disprove the theory.

“The army would mutiny.”

Gramlick coughed hard and then replied. “Most of these goblins

have been here for less than four years. They come from a land

where no one ever dies of old age. Only war, disease and hunger

claim lives. Their existence here is far better than they would ever

have in the nations, even if that means they build roads.

Remember, we are only talking about distributing the storehouses

of excess food. The army’s rations will not be touched.”

Mandrean paced beside the bed again with his hands on his

waist. The idea of again postponing the annexation of Romadon

still sounded too radical for him. He resolved to find a more simple

solution. There had to be a way to appease the people and remain

ready to go to war at any time.

One idea of note came to mind over and over, but he did not

want to discuss the matter. Mandrean wished to place all the

responsibility for the discord in the empire at Linvin’s feet and

assign blame. He could sense the response he would receive if he

mentioned his plan. Deep down inside Mandrean’s soul was a

place where he could not hear his own lies and was truthful with

himself. The voice from there told him Gramlick was right but

blaming all his miseries on Linvin was easier than admitting his

own failure and soothed his ego.

At that moment, he thought he could manipulate the situation.

After Gramlick’s death, he could enact a plan against Linvin

without fear of disapproval from his teacher. If Mandrean never

discussed his notion with his mentor, he knew he could convince

himself that Gramlick had no qualms with the plan. An even

deeper truism was that Mandrean, in time, could even convince

himself that Gramlick would have approved.

Gramlick knew his former student better than anyone and read

his expressions like pages in a book. He knew what Mandrean was

thinking of doing. He also knew that his opinion needed to be

heard by the emperor. The trick was bringing it up in such a way

that the topic appeared to be Mandrean’s choice.

“Give an old warrior some elixir, boy.”

Mandrean brought a cup of medicine over. It contained roots

and the like in a solution, which dulled the senses. After taking a

drink, Gramlick winced and laid his sweat-soaked head back on

the bed.

“So I heard you whipped Tathbar. Did the grain distribution

upset you that much?”

“It wasn’t that at all,” Mandrean stated. “He mentioned that

elf’s name. You know it is banned.”

Gramlick had made the emperor open the subject. He could not,

however, take pleasure in his simple maneuver. The general tried

to put on a good face but was beginning to fade. “So you publicly

humiliated the commander of your largest army because he dared

to say Linvin Grithinshield?

“It would seem that I have chosen a battle I cannot win with

this leg of mine. You do remember the lesson about that, don’t

you?”

“Yes, school master…Fight no battle you cannot win. It was the

second lesson you taught me. It followed the one about never

underestimating an opponent. I never forgot.”

“You may not have forgotten, Lad, but you have paid them no

heed.”

Mandrean jerked his head over at Gramlick who knew he had

special privileges at that moment. The emperor’s teeth ground

together, and his face tightened.

“Tathbar knew the rule and deliberately broke it,” Mandrean

fumed. “And Grithinshield will pay for all the trouble he has

caused.”

Gramlick’s vision was failing so he paid attention to the

direction of Mandrean’s voice to maintain the illusion of sight. “I

think you give the Sartanian too much credit. Our troubles are not

his doing.”

“How can you say that?” Mandrean erupted while coming to

the bedside. “You know what happened. That man humiliated me.

He destroyed my palace…annihilated my elite guard, crushed

entire legions, and left me for dead in a pool of my own blood. Oh,

I give him credit. I credit him with creating this foul climate

throughout the empire. He has wronged me in the worst possible

ways, and he will pay for it. All will see that no one betters Lord

Mandrean and lives.

“He must die, to be sure, and his death will renew the people’s

confidence in me. The army’s morale will improve, and the

impotent group I met with earlier will pour the glory upon me like

a shower of golden raindrops. Forget the grain. The death of

Linvin Grithinshield will bring me all I desire.”

Gramlick was completely blind by the end of the oration. His

time was short. Mandrean had finally voiced his opinion, and

Gramlick had little time to get his point across.

“Boy. Grithinshield did not make the crops fail or the

conquered territory rebellious or the roads crumble or the Goblin

Nations fight. You credit the man for too much. His death will not

solve these problems. Most have forgotten the incident in the

mountains. The only person keeping this issue alive is you. You

seek revenge. That is an expensive thing that a wise emperor

knows he cannot afford.”

Mandrean was so self-involved that he paid no heed to the

faltering voice of his mentor. “I will have that revenge no matter

the cost!”

“Child, you have tried for a year to kill him. How many

assassins have returned—how many soldiers?” Gramlick began to

shake and start convulsions.

“Stay with me, schoolmaster,” Mandrean pleaded as he clasped

the general’s hand. “I need you.”

Gramlick fought to speak as his body contorted.

“There…is…more you must know. Acreas, Betrimpia and

Necromancer…. Don’t trust them.… They all want you dead for

their own…” Gramlick’s body stopped fighting and collapsed on

the bed.

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