Books & Beyond

Tom pushed open the screen door of Glancy’s grocery. He carried a bag of food and was embarrassed to be here. Boys didn’t shop. But Aunt Bessie told him if he wanted her to cook food, he had to go buy it. She didn’t have time to kill and pluck a chicken.

The rickety door slammed behind him and he nearly ran into Junior Baker. Beside him stood Alrik Olsen. Both boys were fifteen, a year older than Tom. He tensed.

“Watch where you’re going, little boy,” said Junior. He pointed to the shopping bag and grinned at Alrik. “Lookie here. The shrimp is doing the shopping. What happened, shrimp? Did your Uncle Davis found out that you couldn’t lift a fork of hay and made you do woman’s work?”

“Get lost, Junior,” said Tom.

He stepped away and headed home. Junior rushed him and jammed his shoulder into Tom’s back. Tom crashed to the ground, the groceries spilling into the dirt. A fresh chicken wrapped in brown paper scooted across the dust. Junior stomped it.

Tom’s face reddened. He raised up, driving his head into Junior’s stomach and swinging with his right hand. His fist clipped Junior’s ear and the larger boy fell backward. As Tom charged him, Alrik grabbed Tom’s arm and spun him around. Tom saw the big fist coming and ducked, but the knuckles caught him under his left eye and he went down again. Junior stood over him, fists ready when the screen door opened and Mr. Glancy rushed out holding a baseball bat.

“I won’t have fighting around my store,” the gray haired man said. Junior and Alrik scurried away.

“Who started it?” said Mr. Glancy.

Tom struggled to his feet rubbing his face. “Doesn’t make any difference. Looks like I’ll need another chicken.”

Mr. Glancy nodded and went back in the store as Tom picked up the groceries. He brushed the dirt off of everything except the smashed chicken. Mr. Glancy brought him another wrapped in brown paper. At the end of the month, Aunt Bessie would question why her bill listed two chickens when she only got one. Tom planned to lie. He couldn’t tell her the truth. She didn’t want him fighting and watched over him like a mother hen.

He dropped off the groceries in the kitchen of the West Lot house, dodged Aunt Bessie, and hustled out to the well pump. Will peered at him from the upstairs window, and before Tom finished, Will joined him. He touched Tom’s swollen cheek.

“Spit it out. What happened?”

“Junior and Alrik jumped me. I could handle Junior, but Alrik throws a mean punch.”

“We’ll get them back,” said Will.

“I don’t care. I won’t be around anyway.”

“You’ll have a black eye for the picnic tomorrow. The girls’ll fawn over you like a newborn kitten. They’ll persuade you not to leave town.”

“Nope, I’m going.”

“Good food, sunshine, good-looking girls and explosions. What else could you want in life?”

Tom laughed. The picnic might be fun and he always liked being around Helen, but nothing could happen at a picnic to keep him from leaving.

StepIntoDarkness

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Genre – YA/Mystery

Rating – PG – 13

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Website http://BooksByBen.com

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Image of Sarah Krisch

Who is your favorite author? 

Nora Roberts is probably my favorite author.  She does so many things so well as a writer.  Her characters are compelling and her pacing is dynamic.  Even after having written so many wonderful books, she still amazes me nearly every time I read her.

What book should everybody read at least once?

Gone With the Wind.  I’ve read GWtW at least four times, and every time I read it, I learn something new.

What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?

With the advent of indie publishing, getting published is almost too easy.  Not that I discourage anyone with a good story idea not to give it a try.  Writing and marketing are equally difficult, but in different ways.  Sometimes you sit down to write and you have the black screen and that darned blinking cursor staring at you and you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re going to write.  Luckily for me, those moments don’t stretch out into something more substantial.  I don’t necessarily ever get writer’s block, but I can understand how some people do.  That blank page can be intimidating.  I just remind myself that I control my output.  Marketing, especially for a new author like myself, can be just as intimidating as that blank screen.  Approaching reviewers can feel like those awkward childhood moments when you wanted to ask a boy to dance at a junior high dance.

Do you plan to publish more books?

The Good Life series is a trilogy, so yes I do.  I’m hoping to complete the trilogy by the spring.  And after that… I have an idea for a YA paranormal series.  I don’t want to give away the details, but it’s going to be fun to write!

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

Ever since I was little, I always had the romantic notion that someday I would write longhand in journals.  But, realistically, that’s not how my brain works.  I’ll write a sentence on my laptop and then rewrite it sometimes a dozen times.  While I still harbor those romantic notions, writing in longhand would never work for me.

How much sleep do you need to be your best?

I wish I could get by with less sleep, but I’m a crabby zombie if I sleep less than eight hours a night.  Nine hours would be even better, but the demands of work, family, and writing won’t allow it.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?

Really, if my characters entertain my readers for a few hours, then I’m doing my job.  It’s hard to predict how many readers I’ll ever have, but I would feel like a success if my readers follow me from one book to the next.

Tell us about your new book? What’s it about and why did you write it?

From the book description:

A failed actress, twenty-something Julia McCarthy begins writing a fictionalized blog as a form of self-therapy. Based on her carefree summers at her grandparents’ farm, she never expects her little experiment to garner a viral following, but it does. Boy, does it ever.

Now, with thousands of loyal blog followers, and a syndication deal with the Chicago Herald, Julia is approached by GreenTV to adapt her blog into a TV show. The producers see her as a “Rachel Ray on the Prairie-type”. She sees herself as a fraud.

In Julia’s fictional world, she’s successful. She can pay her bills on time. Heck, she even has a fictional gorgeous husband and charming little boy. Ready to realize her dreams, Julia returns to her grandparents’ farm to shoot the TV pilot.

Brad Taylor is definitely not her type: he’s rugged, sensible, and oh-so smug about learning that Julia’s blog is a farce. As the manager of her grandparent’s farm, Brad doesn’t have time to deal with whimsical women who don’t even know how to cook. 

Julia can’t allow her attraction to Brad to distract her, not when her dreams are about to come true. But are these truly her dreams, her good life? 

A fun, fast (150 pages) contemporary romance

What’s your next project?

Right now I’m wrapping up Madi, The Good Life Book Two.  Next up, I’m planning to write a Christmas novella: Trudy, A Good Life Christmas.  That story will focus on Julia’s grandmother when she was a newlywed during the 1950s.

How do you feel about self-publishing?

I find it both liberating and scary.  On the one hand, it has freed so many talented authors from the confines of the traditional publishing model, many of whom never had the chance to get their work published until now.  One the other hand, with few constraints to what gets published there is also a rising tide of bad books on the market.  It makes it confusing for readers.  I would encourage any reader in this new publishing world to read samples before you buy.  Reviews are helpful, but they can only help so much.

I LOVE my Kindle Paperwhite, I just wish it was waterproof so I could relax a bit more when I take it into the bath.  When I find a free half hour I enjoy romance, paranormal romance and new adult books, mostly.

Do you find the time to read?

It’s hard to find the time, but when I do I read mostly romance, paranormal romance and new adult books.

What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?

My family.  We have three happy, healthy boys.  I met my husband in high school and we’ve been together ever since.  What we’ve built together, it’s like a dream come true.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world?

Realistically?  I would say Grand Haven, Michigan.  It’s a short drive for our busy family.  We’ve vacationed there a number of times, enjoying the quiet beaches and nearby small towns.  Laying in a hammock and a good book is serenity.

How long have you been writing?

About three years.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?

I love writing romance, but I can picture writing paranormal and even a thriller at some time down the road.

What inspired you to write your first book?

My husband has been writing since high school.  He’s been a published author for over a decade and over the years I’ve always been his first reader.  I guess you could say I’ve become a writer out of osmosis.  After giving my input for so long, I finally decided I wanted to tackle my own stories.  While Glen mostly writes horror stories, I much prefer HEA (happily ever afters).

Write now I write because I enjoy it.  Even with indie publishing, I think selling the amount of books it would take to make writing a career is still a lot like winning the lottery.  Sure, some people win, but the odds are against it.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

My goal is to try to establish the characters’ emotions.  You can’t have a romance without an emphasis on emotions.  I figure, emotions + conflict = a recipe for a successful romance novel.

How much of the book is realistic?

Julia is set, as are all the books in the Good Life series, in Harmony Grove, Iowa.  These are stories about small town charm and hard-working people.  I don’t sugarcoat these aspects, even if some of the narrative is on the nostalgic end of the spectrum.

What are your goals as a writer?

I want to tell stories that I would like to read.  I figure if I can accomplish that, then readers will eventually find my work.

What contributes to making a writer successful?

Having a thick skin is important.  If you shy away at the slightest criticism, either in the critiquing phase or after your work is published, then writing might not be in the cards for you.  Writing is a hard and oftentimes lonely business.  One day a reader might call your book an all-favorite, while the next day someone might question your ability to string together coherent sentences.  Hard work and a thick skin will take you far.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Reading is just as important as writing.  I sometimes read about a writer who doesn’t read when they are in the middle of writing a novel.  Aren’t novelists always in the middle of writing a novel?  Does that mean that they don’t read at all?  I read for enjoyment, but I also read to learn about improving my craft.  You can learn as much from a poorly written novel as a literary masterpiece.  But you have to take the time to read, or you’ll lag behind those writers of equal talent who do.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?

My readers have been so supportive so far!  I love talking to readers, either about my work or books in general.  You can drop me an email at:  sarahkrisch@gmail.com

Julia

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Genre – Contemporary Romance

Rating – PG-13

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EXCERPT

The other vampires turned on him, but before they could attack, shadows flickered through the air and unfurled to reveal an ethereal creature. Scarcely five feet tall, it was so slender it seemed almost delicate. Its skin was pale, and its silver hair wove into a long braid that it wore down its back. Its large gray eyes slanted upward in a finely featured face that mirrored the murals of angels in the city square.

Its angelic innocence was a fragile illusion. Bat-like wings stretched outward ten feet from wingtip to wingtip, and the horn-shaped bones that emerged from each juncture between the flaps of the black leathery wings were encased in studded metal. Dressed in a leather bustier, pants, and matching boots, the icrathari strode past the silent vampires.

Jaden, his green eyes narrowed into slits, watched for the flash in its eyes, for the split-second warning prior to its attack.

It never happened.

The serene expression on its face did not change. In a blur of motion, it spun toward him; its wings swung out like a living weapon. The metallic tips of its wings smashed into Jaden’s face and chest, hurling him to the ground. Before he could spit the blood from his mouth, it seized him and dragged him to his knees. Its small fingers wrapped into his dark hair and pulled back his head, baring his throat for the fatal kiss of his own blade.

Khiarra, held fast by a vampire, sobbed out his name. Her arms reached out to him.

The icrathari paused. In a lightning-fast move, it released his hair and pressed its hand against his stomach.

Jaden sucked in his breath as his vision spun into shades of gray. Images flashed before his eyes, too quickly to be visible. Sounds and voices pounded through his skull, too jumbled to be coherent. Shards of raw agony pierced him. He gasped, sobbing for each hard-won breath of air.

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jade Kerrion developed a loyal reader base with her fan fiction series based on the MMORPG Guild Wars. She was accused of keeping her readers up at night, distracting them from work, housework, homework, and (far worse), from actually playing Guild Wars. And then she wondered why just screw up the time management skills of gamers? Why not aspire to screw everyone else up too?

So here she is, writing books that aspire to keep you from doing anything else useful with your time.

Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, spawned the Double Helix series which has won a total of seven science fiction awards, including first place in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and the gold medal in Readers Favorites Awards 2013. She is also the author of Earth-Sim and When the Silence Ends, which placed first and second respectively in the 2013 Royal Palm Literary Awards, Young Adults category.

She lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with her wonderfully supportive husband and her two young sons, Saint and Angel, (no, those aren’t their real names, but they are like saints and angels, except when they’re not.)

Connect with Jade: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Eternal Night ebook

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Genre – Fantasy, Paranormal

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://www.jadekerrion.com

Excerpt

Chiku turned to the chimpanzees and raised her hands. What fascinated Kessel was the way the girl from Brookline transformed herself. Chiku didn’t just use her hands to communicate with the lesser primates. She evolved. Her whole body became the story she was telling. She had pored through Tim’s old library of books last night after dinner and had chosen a child’s version of Disney’s The Lion King to stuff in her backpack. Retrieving it, she not only became each and every character in turn, she bent like a tree in the wind and threw herself around like a storm on the grasslands. She held the chimpanzees in such thrall, none of them moved until she was done with her story. Then, feigning exhaustion, she dropped to the ground just so she could feel the embraces of all the delighted chimpanzees. Scallion came up last and hunkered down beside her, his back braced against hers.

The two men, Tim and Mark, just gaped at her. Kessel placed her hands on Chiku’s shoulders and whispered in her ear. “You should have been the one to run things around here, not your father.”

Chiku beamed, glancing up at Kessel. “You have your father’s eyes,” Kessel told her. “Toughness, I think. I hear you were bitten by a crocodile.”

“She was almost supper,” Forsberg said. “Myself, I think the croc would have taken one chew and found her too hard to swallow.”

“Thank you.”

“Did anyone look at the wound?” Kessel asked.

“Mrs. Hayfield. I think it’s okay,” Chiku said.

“You mind if I look. As a professional.”

Chiku stood up and, with a procession of chimpanzees trailing behind, followed Kessel to the large tent Seth Flynn used as his sleeping/living quarters. Inside a three-drawer wooden bureau, he kept a medicine box that Kessel opened. She told Chiku to sit on the lone cot in the tent.

“Lift up your pant leg.”

“You’ve been here before,” Chiku said.

“How did you know?”

“You know where Dad keeps his medicine.”

“I’ve been here once or twice. Occasionally, your dad needed medical assistance.”

“Because he was drunk?”

Kessel pulled down Chiku’s pant leg and looked up at the patient, wondering at the sixteen-year-old’s astuteness. “How did you know that?” she asked.

“I lived with him for eleven years.”

“Yes, well,” Kessel said. She got up without further elucidation. Just outside the tent flap, Tim and Forsberg were pacing, occasionally peeking in to see how their female charge was doing. Kessel said, “Maggie did a good job on your leg. I didn’t know your mother. She had… well… What was she like?”

“Smart. Fun.”

“She loved your dad.”

“Yes. What else?”

“His drinking didn’t bother her?”

“I never asked. What’s it to you?”

Chiku felt a sudden chill in the air and, putting her arms about herself, got up, to  wander about the tent.

Devolution

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Genre – Young Adult

Rating – PG

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Connect with Peter Clenott on Facebook & Twitter

Website www.peterclenott.net

From Chapter 16

‘The American girl’s unconscious!’ Glen called from the water’s edge to Luke and Patrick. He’d gone there to distance himself from the crowd of onlookers who’d suddenly coalesced like a swarm of flies on a fresh cow pat. He was juggling a conversation with someone on the rescue boat and an imperative to Luke and Patrick. ‘Can one of you blokes call for an ambulance?!’

Luke was the one to respond. ‘No worries, mate – I’ll do that!’

Patrick called to Glen. ‘Where can I get hold of US 333’s details?! We’re almost certainly going to be asked for them!’

‘Good thinking!’ Glen shouted back. ‘Go to the organisers’ tent – they should have a copy of her application form!’

Patrick ran off.

Luke called 000. Almost in synchrony as he pushed the “End call”’ button, he heard a roaring sound as the rescue boat arrived at full speed. He saw its driver slam the motor into reverse, a brilliantly timed manoeuvre whereby the boat seemed to rise on the approaching wave of its own wake, before gently settling two metres from the shore line, just as the driver raised the motor on its transom to prevent the propeller from digging into the sand.

‘Got to go back ASAP!’ the driver shouted to Glen. ‘We’ve left three people with their boards out on the water! Can someone help carry Katie on to the beach?! Be careful: she’s unconscious; we’re not sure whether anything’s broken; Allison managed to bring her to the surface; Katie was trapped under the board!’

Luke leapt forward and reached the boat at the same time as Glen.

‘I need to watch out for her neck,’ Glen said to Luke. ‘Can you grab the stretcher at her feet? Wait for my signal before you lift!’

The American girl was already lying on a portable stretcher. There’d been no time to brace her neck before the boat had commenced its return dash. One of the crew members had been holding her head steady. He now stood aside while Glen reached across to place his hands on the stretcher’s handles.

Luke did as he was instructed. ‘Got it!’ he confirmed. ‘On your signal!’

Glen’s command was urgent and clear. ‘Lift slowly and gently!’

In unison, the two men lifted the stretcher and made their way on to the sand, where they set it down.

Patrick returned, an odd look in his eyes. ‘Apparently there’s an ambulance depot about two K’s away, just on the other side of the Singing Bridge.’

Luke nodded absently. He was looking down at the young woman’s face, her features clearly visible now they were no longer hidden by the canary-yellow cap. It can’t be! he told himself. Instinctively, he fell to his knees on the sand near her shoulder, and just stared at her. The sheila from Beotkott’s deck – I’d swear to it!

‘Hey, Luke!’ Patrick’s voice penetrated the gauze of shock engulfing Luke’s thoughts. ‘Do you want to know who she is?!’

‘Yeah,’ Luke responded, ‘but I’m almost sure I already know.’

‘Impossible,’ Patrick retorted: ‘I’ve just found out myself, and neither of us has met her – I know that for a fact.’

Something in Patrick’s voice caused Luke to look up at him. ‘What are you talking about?’

‘Her application form says her name’s Katarina Marchetti – she’s Katie Marchetti! He pointed to her for to emphasise the fact.

Luke was stupefied. ‘What?!’

‘Guido sister – and you couldn’t know her, ’cause Guido told us she was at a “finishing school” in Switzerland, when he was still at uni with us. And neither of us has seen or heard from him in years.’

The Last Finesse

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Genre – Conspiracy Thriller

Rating – MA (15+)

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HOLLYWOOD – JULY 9, 2009

The Dracul was one of Hollywood’s hot spots, a place for the beautiful people to see and be seen. On any given night, Hollywood stars could be seen mingling among the crowd or holding court in one of the private rooms that dotted the periphery. The club’s owner, Morgan Blackstone, stalked through the center of the packed dance floor, rage rolling off her in frozen waves. She paid no attention to the loud music thundering through the converted church, or the mob parting to let her pass. James, the head of security, walked at her side, and it didn’t take them long to reach one of several doors that led to the employee–only sections. She entered a code on the small panel beside the door and pushed it open.  James followed her into the maze of halls, letting the door thump closed behind them.

“What happened?” she asked, her words clipped and precise.

“Apparently the two we are about to see, decided it was okay to harass a regular about his job.” James answered, being cryptic, since it was possible that a human staff member might hear.

“Was it one of the VIPs?”

“Yes. Christophe is taking care of him,” he answered, all cool professionalism.

Morgan nodded. She trusted her Blood Son to see to it that the situation was defused.

“The other two are in the security office,” James continued. “A couple of my people are making sure that no one goes in. Danny and the rest of the team are out on the floor making sure that nothing else happens.” He finished as they stopped in front of a door marked ‘Security.’

“Good,” she answered. She stepped into the room, feeling the emotions of the two men inside permeating the air. “Idiots,” she muttered under her breath and crossed to the table where the pair sat on opposite sides. The door closed, and James leaned against it, arms crossed over his chest.

The vampire was dressed in unrelieved black. His hair fell in long lanky shanks, and he looked as though he’d forgotten to feed for the past few days. His flesh was pale and drawn tight over his bones. The werewolf was just as bad, in a flannel shirt with the sleeves ripped off, and tattered jeans.

“Goddess! Could you two be any more cliché?” Morgan rolled her eyes and set her cane on the end of the table. “Do either of you have any idea of the trouble you caused?”

“That poser started it,” the vampire insisted in a high pitched whine that sent a spike of pain through Morgan’s skull.

“That poser, as you call him, happens to be a regular, but that’s beside the point.” Morgan reached down and slipped the blade free of its cane sheath. “Do either of you morons have any clue how many hoops I had to jump through to get this establishment cleared by the Council?”

“An insane amount of paperwork, not to mention upholding a strict set of rules at all times,” James answered from where he leaned on the door, sounding bored.

“There are advantages to slogging through all the red tape though,” Morgan continued. “It does afford the owner some…” she paused and examined the edge of her blade, “…latitude when it comes to dealing with rule breakers.”

“I really didn’t expect to be dealing with corpses tonight.” James sighed, looking down at the faded jeans and white t–shirt he wore.

Michelle Rabe

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Genre – Paranormal Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://paperbackvamp.tumblr.com/

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Chapter One – London, 1896

The ballroom of Mr. Reginald Hamilton’s townhouse was awash in bright, swirling colors.  The lamps were all lit, bathing the room in a warm, sparkling glow.  Musicians played a lively waltz.  The scents of candles, perfume, and bodies was rich as half of London society danced their cares away.  But above it all, the room buzzed with the sound of lords and ladies spreading the latest gossip.

Amelia Elphick wedged her way through it all, heart pounding terror in her throat, one hand clutching the not-so subtle curve of her stomach.  Her simple cotton skirt and blouse marked her as an interloper amongst the finery, even as she struggled to keep her head high.

“Who is that?” she caught one of the ladies murmuring.

“Dear Lord, that’s the Marquess of Horsham’s daughter!” a second woman gasped.

Amelia blanched, pushing on through the crush.  It was too late to turn back.

“Look at the state of her!” the first woman said.

“I heard she’s the governess here now,” the second woman informed her with a haughty sniff.

“That’s not what I meant,” the first replied.  “Look at the state of her.”

Amelia dropped her trembling hand from her belly.  She was well aware that she was past the point where her sins could go unnoticed, but this was her last chance.  Nick was at this ball.

She spotted him several yards away, deep in conversation with her employer, Mr. Hamilton.  Nicholas Hayworth stood tall and handsome, the aristocratic lines of his face sharp in the lamplight.  The  rich blue of his eyes and black of his hair drew the attention of every woman in the room.  She knew his face so well, knew every contour of his nimble body.  Even now, with shame threatening like a thundercloud, she wanted to embrace that body, to melt into him and have him tell her everything would be all right.

A different body, as tall as Nick’s but broader and more muscular, bumped into Amelia as she surged toward Nick.  The man knocked her off balance, sending her spilling over her feet and his.  She flailed for balance and hit a glass out of one of the fine guest’s hands.  The man caught her, but the sound of shattering glass and a lady shrieking broke through the hum of gossip.  All eyes snapped to her.

“Watch it there, Miss Amelia.”

Amelia raised wary eyes to the man who had both tripped and caught her.  Her heart sank.  Of all the Hamilton’s guests, she had bumbled into Mr. Quinlan, the American that had been staying in the house for the last few months.  He smiled at her with his artless brown eyes and boyish grin and set her back on her feet.  The hush that had followed her spill burst into a full roar of whispers.

“You all right?” Mr. Quinlan asked again as he brushed imaginary dirty off of her skirt.

All Amelia could manage was a tight nod.  “I’m fine, thank you.”

It was a lie.  She swallowed and turned, wincing, to Nick.  He had seen her stumble.  Everyone had seen her stumble.  Nick sneered at her, his head tilted with aloof grace.  She had to do this now, before it was too late.  All eyes bored into her as she rushed through the gap that had formed in the crowd.

“Nick,” she kept her voice low as she reached him, “Nick I must speak with you.  It is a matter of utmost urgency.”

She reached out to him.  Nick backed away.  His glance darted through the crowd that now judged him as much as her.

“I have nothing to say to you, Miss Elphick,” he hissed.

“Please, Nick!”  The threat of tears pinched Amelia’s voice.  “You know … you know what it’s come to.”  She smoothed her hand over the bump of her belly.

Nick sniffed and backed further away.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

To his side, Reginald Hamilton’s back stiffened.  His eyes went round with shock and disgust.  “Miss Elphick!” he exclaimed in a whisper.  “What is the meaning of this?”

A flash of boldness stiffened Amelia’s back and her resolve.  “Ask Mr. Hayworth,” she said.  “It is his doing.”

Nick blanched, shrinking from the eavesdropping guests.  “How dare you!”

“No, Nick, how dare you!”  Her attempt at bravado withered as the horror of the situation spilled over her.  “I have your child growing inside of me and you know it.  You have known it all along, yet you turn your back on me?”

“Miss Elphick,” Mr. Hamilton was red with rage, “Have I have entrusted the care of my precious little girls to a harlot?”

Before Amelia could summon a defense, Nick muttered, “Like mother, like daughter.”

The pitch of whispered gossip around her spun with such fevered intensity that Amelia thought she might swoon.  Ripples of shock spread through the room as London’s finest stood on tip-toes to see the tragic farce unfold.

Amelia met Nick’s eyes with what was left of her pride, tears running two hot trails down her cheeks.  “I loved you.  We were to be married … before.”

“Yes, well that clearly isn’t the case now.”  The smirk that bit at Nick’s beautiful face was too much to bear.  Every promise he had made shattered.

“My family is not what it once was.”  Amelia made one last attempt to stave off ruin, sniffling and wiping her eyes.  “But you and I have been friends for too long to break over such things.  I thought … I thought you still cared for me.”

“I care for certain parts of you.”  Nick’s gaze flickered down.

“Mr. Hayworth,” Mr. Hamilton warned, “my house has seen enough scandal for one night.  Pray do not make it double.”

“Forgive me, sir.”  Nick bowed low to his host.  “It was not my wish to disrupt your magnificent gathering.  That, I believe, was the lady’s intent.”  His stare pierced Amelia with such malevolence that her heart withered.

“I have no wish to make our private emergencies public,” Amelia countered.

Our emergencies?” Nick balked.  “I think not.”

Amelia’s chest constricted in panic.  “You must help me, Nick,” she implored in barely more than a whisper.  “You must-”

“There is nothing I must do,” he clipped his reply.  “You have ruined yourself, now face the consequences.”

Amelia gulped, tears stinging.  A sob caught in her throat as the weight of her sins piled down on her.  She stole a desperate glance around the room.  Men and women who had smiled and welcomed her at her coming-out just three short years ago now turned up their noses at her as if she was diseased.  It was all because she couldn’t control her instincts.  Her cheeks burned scarlet in humiliation.

With one last deep breath she laid her life at Nick’s feet.

“So you have no intention of fulfilling your responsibility toward….”  She couldn’t say it.  She couldn’t even think that Nick’s child was inside of her.  “After all we-”

“Enough, Miss Elphick!” Mr. Hamilton snapped.  “Go to your room!  We will discuss this in the morning.”

Amelia gasped, blinking rapidly.  She had heard that tone of voice, seen the same sharp glower from Mr. Hamilton when one of his daughters had disobeyed.  She took another step back, lowering her head.  It was no use resisting.  Her great gamble had been a failure.  Her life was over.

She turned to flee, but where she had hoped to find a quick escape, she was met by a wall of faces.  Women and men of refinement and breeding, their jewels as bright as the scorn in their eyes, stared at her as though she was a guttersnipe loose amongst her betters.  The turned-up lips, the pointed glares at the bulge of her stomach, the whispering behind hands and fans, flayed Amelia like a scourge.

It took all of her effort to put one foot in front of the other.  Her whole body shook as she walked through the crowded ballroom, the last vestige of what her life had been.  The musicians had stopped playing, the dancers had stopped dancing.  Her heart had stopped beating.  She couldn’t lift her head or raise her eyes to meet any of them.  With all the awkward humiliation of her fall, she shuffled toward the door.

“Of course you’d expect that from Sophia deLaurent’s daughter,” someone murmured to her left.

“She always did give herself airs,” another voice chased her, “but ones true nature always shows through the gloss, doesn’t it.”

“Such a pity,” a male voice chuckled to her right.  “I wonder how much she’ll charge once she’s taken her place on the market.”

Amelia burst into a sob, clapping a hand to her mouth.  It was over.  She didn’t care who she crashed into or whose toes she stepped on as she fled the room at a run.

She passed Mr. Quinlan, who was red with fury, at the door.  His fury was no more than she deserved.  She was furious with herself for the folly that had cast her out of the life she’d tried to resurrect for herself.  But there was no hiding from the truth of who one really was at heart.

FoolForLove

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Western Historical Romance

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Merry Farmer on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://merryfarmer.net

Image of Ramzan Artsikaev

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

Christopher Nola’s Inception influenced my writing a lot.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

Remembering stuff is the most challenging thing about writing, if you ask me. You have to memorize eye color, hairstyles, etc. So keep organized notes.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?

It taught me how to construct a better plot.

Do intend to make writing a career?

I most certainly do hope to make it a career.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Yes, I have had writer’s block and more than once. What do I do? I just write, until it makes sense, watch movies, read books, write again.

Can you tell us a little about your main character?

My main character is a seventeen-year-old boy who has a unique ability. That, in turn, makes him special. He is a usual boy, but due to his powers, he has no other option than to man up and save the world, otherwise mankind will perish.

How did you develop your plot and characters?

It took me years to develop the plot and characters; I just kept rewriting them and adding character traits as well as taking them away, until I was satisfied.

Who designed the cover?

Igor Lykyanov designed the cover. He is a great illustrator. I adore his work.

Who is your publisher?

I am my own publisher, as I’m an indie author.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?

Because, as a Harry Potter and Twilight fan, I felt that the market is lacking that special, magical touch to it. I asked myself, what would someone like me like to read, and I came up with the Peter Simmons series.

How do you promote this book?

I use social networks and ask book reviewers to check out my book.

Will you write others in the same genre?

Yes, I most definitely will write others in the same genre, which is young-adult. I’ve also got a lot of paranormal romance coming up.

Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?

In my entire Peter Simmons series – yes. I want readers to understand that we, as sapient beings, have to have enough sense to support each other and concentrate on our similarities not differences. If we accomplish that, we will be much stronger and happier, as a global society.

How much of the book is realistic?

A lot of it is realistic, especially the ‘penultimate parts’.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot?

No, the book has very little to do with me and my personal life.

How important do you think villains are in a story?

I think villains make up fifty percent of the book. That’s exactly why I give so much attention and great detail to my main villain.

Who is your favorite author and why?

J.K. Rowling is my favorite author, because her Harry Potter books are exceptionally interesting.

Can we expect any more books from you in the future?

You can definitely expect a lot of books from me in the future. And I mean a lot!

Have you started another book yet?

I have started another three books.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself writing, regardless of whether or not I achieve the readership I desire.

What are your current writing projects now?

My current writing projects are: A book about zombies with a teenage female protagonist, a book about vampires and sorcerers, also with a teenage girl protagonist, and a book entitled Antonia Bells, about dragonborns (magicians) and humanoid elves. The latter two are paranormal romance.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?

Unfortunately, I’m not reading anything right now, no.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?

Some of the best tools available for writers are online dictionaries, the thesaurus, Word and Google.

What contributes to a writer being successful?

Sticking with it no matter what. If you love writing and keep practicing it, sooner or later you will reach your audience.

Do you have any advice for writers?

Yes, my advice for writers is: Get a great book cover and write and read as often as you can. Try to read all genres, even if you don’t like them, and mix your authors. The more diversity, the better.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

My one bit of wisdom is the following: Be kind to each other, and one day, kindness will come your way.

When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have?

When I end my career, I’d like to look back on all of my work and think that I couldn’t have done it any better. But that, unfortunately, is an impossibility – as there’s always room for improvement.

Ramz_cover_3_blueBG_1800x2560

Peter Simmons thinks he is an ordinary boy, before he is abducted by a man with certain special abilities, learns of his inescapable destiny, befriends immortals and becomes famous worldwide. Why? Because Peter Simmons is mankind’s last hope for survival.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Young Adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi

Rating – PG-13

More details about the author

Connect with  Ramz Artso on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/

Jez turned his head and saw jeeps stacked up one behind the other, coming at him. They were equipped for combat with mounted mortar cannon and sub-machine guns rigged on the integral bases behind the front seats. The heads of soldiers bobbed behind mortar blast protectors as the vehicles maneuvered over snowdrifts. He couldn’t tell how many vehicles, but seeing them fan out and fire, the number no longer seemed relevant.

He ran. He wanted to drop the ski jacket to quicken his pace, but he’d lose his weapons. The only thing he could do was wind in his head and race flat out. WHUMP! A mortar shell exploded 50 meters forward and to the right of his position. Shrapnel whizzed by, and though he could hear it, he felt nothing. He hadn’t been hit. He crouched lower, but the rabbit-skin hat fell off. No time to pick it up. Stop for nothing. With the rifles set to automatic, they traced straight black lines in the snow on either side of him and then swept horizontally across his horizon – Kalashnikov AKMs. They didn’t quite have him in their sights, but they would get there soon enough.

Not safe running in a straight line, he zigzagged, sacrificing distance for evasive tactics. Even so, it wouldn’t take them long to get a bead on him. He looked ahead for anything that might impede his progress, and saw a murder of crows take to the air on the opposite side of the nearest hill. If only he could join them, he thought. Instead, he ran a short distance to the left and then a longer distance to the right, on occasion reversing the strategy so as not to reveal a pattern.

WHUMP! WHUMP! One after another, mortar shells exploded; and while Jez’s evasive actions proved successful, progress slowed. The jeeps occasionally stopped to drop-blast their mortar shells more accurately, but it didn’t stop them gaining ground.

Clearly, while the snow slowed him, it had no such effect on the pursuit vehicles. They would catch him before he could get to the hills. He had to make a stand. WHUMP! A shell exploded 30 meters ahead. That would do, fight from the mortar’s footprint, die like a soldier. He ran towards it. The jeeps closed in. WHUMP! Another explosion – and it was in the same hollow he was headed for. He ran in the opposite direction to make them realign their weapons.

The aim moved. Shells exploded away from the crater, so he veered back and got close enough to jump. Any other time of year the landing would have been soft, but now solid ground jarred his bones as he made contact with the fissure’s base. The earth moved and rumbled, feet banged against brittle crust that cracked and broke beneath him. A thin layer of earth had been all that remained after the two explosions and Jez crashed through the crater into another hole.

He dropped the depth of the first hollow and through into the hole below. But he couldn’t see out to shoot. If his life hadn’t been about to end he might have laughed. Too low to make a stand, he would have to… but just a minute, what was that? He wasn’t in a hole, but a pothole, a chance, a slim chance, but a chance.

He pulled the landfall aside, squeezed through and scrambled along the tunnel in a direction in line with the hills. The cave got bigger. He could stand up straight. He started running again, and half a minute carried him 100 meters in. WHUMP! Grit and soil blasted along the chasm behind him, stung his legs, back and buttocks as fragments struck. They’d realigned a fix on the crater too soon. It had to be Mitrokhin up there. The regular army weren’t that good.

With adrenalin pumping, he gave that extra push, but the channel narrowed and lowered. Lack of headroom forced him to his hands and knees. Movement slowed. The ground shook. Tremors shuddered through his arms and legs, and then a blast was followed by a rumble.

The channel collapsed and fallen earth charged towards him. Rapid breathing, his heart raced, but he had to steady his thoughts. He couldn’t lose control, but the ground rumbled, ever closer.

Still on his hands and knees, he pushed his back hard against the roof. Earth fell around his feet and legs as the miniature cave fell in. But his body remained rigid, acting as a stanchion. His part of the crown hadn’t fallen, but ahead and behind, the rumble continued and the fragile earth crashed down. The structure of the hollow folded, and when it stopped he’d become entombed. Panic engulfed him. There was no way out.

Birth of an Assassin

Buy Now @ Amazon, B&N, Kobo & Waterstones

Genre – Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

Jez turned his head and saw jeeps stacked up one behind the other, coming at him. They were equipped for combat with mounted mortar cannon and sub-machine guns rigged on the integral bases behind the front seats. The heads of soldiers bobbed behind mortar blast protectors as the vehicles maneuvered over snowdrifts. He couldn’t tell how many vehicles, but seeing them fan out and fire, the number no longer seemed relevant.

He ran. He wanted to drop the ski jacket to quicken his pace, but he’d lose his weapons. The only thing he could do was wind in his head and race flat out. WHUMP! A mortar shell exploded 50 meters forward and to the right of his position. Shrapnel whizzed by, and though he could hear it, he felt nothing. He hadn’t been hit. He crouched lower, but the rabbit-skin hat fell off. No time to pick it up. Stop for nothing. With the rifles set to automatic, they traced straight black lines in the snow on either side of him and then swept horizontally across his horizon – Kalashnikov AKMs. They didn’t quite have him in their sights, but they would get there soon enough.

Not safe running in a straight line, he zigzagged, sacrificing distance for evasive tactics. Even so, it wouldn’t take them long to get a bead on him. He looked ahead for anything that might impede his progress, and saw a murder of crows take to the air on the opposite side of the nearest hill. If only he could join them, he thought. Instead, he ran a short distance to the left and then a longer distance to the right, on occasion reversing the strategy so as not to reveal a pattern.

WHUMP! WHUMP! One after another, mortar shells exploded; and while Jez’s evasive actions proved successful, progress slowed. The jeeps occasionally stopped to drop-blast their mortar shells more accurately, but it didn’t stop them gaining ground.

Clearly, while the snow slowed him, it had no such effect on the pursuit vehicles. They would catch him before he could get to the hills. He had to make a stand. WHUMP! A shell exploded 30 meters ahead. That would do, fight from the mortar’s footprint, die like a soldier. He ran towards it. The jeeps closed in. WHUMP! Another explosion – and it was in the same hollow he was headed for. He ran in the opposite direction to make them realign their weapons.

The aim moved. Shells exploded away from the crater, so he veered back and got close enough to jump. Any other time of year the landing would have been soft, but now solid ground jarred his bones as he made contact with the fissure’s base. The earth moved and rumbled, feet banged against brittle crust that cracked and broke beneath him. A thin layer of earth had been all that remained after the two explosions and Jez crashed through the crater into another hole.

He dropped the depth of the first hollow and through into the hole below. But he couldn’t see out to shoot. If his life hadn’t been about to end he might have laughed. Too low to make a stand, he would have to… but just a minute, what was that? He wasn’t in a hole, but a pothole, a chance, a slim chance, but a chance.

He pulled the landfall aside, squeezed through and scrambled along the tunnel in a direction in line with the hills. The cave got bigger. He could stand up straight. He started running again, and half a minute carried him 100 meters in. WHUMP! Grit and soil blasted along the chasm behind him, stung his legs, back and buttocks as fragments struck. They’d realigned a fix on the crater too soon. It had to be Mitrokhin up there. The regular army weren’t that good.

With adrenalin pumping, he gave that extra push, but the channel narrowed and lowered. Lack of headroom forced him to his hands and knees. Movement slowed. The ground shook. Tremors shuddered through his arms and legs, and then a blast was followed by a rumble.

The channel collapsed and fallen earth charged towards him. Rapid breathing, his heart raced, but he had to steady his thoughts. He couldn’t lose control, but the ground rumbled, ever closer.

Still on his hands and knees, he pushed his back hard against the roof. Earth fell around his feet and legs as the miniature cave fell in. But his body remained rigid, acting as a stanchion. His part of the crown hadn’t fallen, but ahead and behind, the rumble continued and the fragile earth crashed down. The structure of the hollow folded, and when it stopped he’d become entombed. Panic engulfed him. There was no way out.

Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones

Genre – Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

More details about the author

Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

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