Welcome to the book tour for T.C. Weber’s latest book, a political satire called The Council. Read on for more details!
Publication Date: September 22, 2022
Genre: Political Satire/ Humor
Luther Smith, a newly elected county councilman, is determined to make a difference for his constituents. Unfortunately, he’s ill-prepared for the corruption, incompetence, and lunacy of his fellow councilmembers. Lisa Hogan, a down-on-her-luck single mom and avid naturalist, discovers that developers plan to raze the last tract of forest in the county. Facing a dysfunctional bureaucracy, corrupt politicians, and lazy journalists, Luther and Lisa form a growing bond as they attempt to navigate the legislative labyrinth, mobilize the community, and attempt to save the forest.
“You may think this story is full of absurdity and exaggeration, but I assure you, it is frighteningly close to reality. And that’s precisely what makes this book so hilarious.”
– Local Councilman who was told to remain anonymous by the Ethics Commission
The blonde woman in the back rose from her seat and approached the microphone, pale lips pressed together. She wore tan cargo pants and a green fleece. “Hello. I’m Lisa Hogan and I live at 2355 Whistlestop Drive, Foxglove Estates.” She gestured toward Councilman van Womple. “Is he going to sleep through public testimony?”
Council President Sparks leaned into his mic. “Can someone please wake up Clifton?”
Councilwoman Sutton reached over and jostled van Womple awake. His eyes darted wildly. “Whaa?”
“According to their web site,” Ms. Hogan spoke into the mic, “Cha-Ching Properties, which owns half the land in the county, is planning to develop the Great Woods, our last sizable stand of forest. But that area is zoned for conservation. I came to ask if you know what’s going on here.”
Luther hadn’t heard this before, but the Great Woods were way over on the west side of the county and this was his first meeting. The other councilpersons similarly responded with blank faces, except for Councilman Davis, who looked down and rustled through his papers.
The council president leaned toward his microphone. “Thank you.” He scanned the empty seats. “Anyone else?”
Ms. Hogan remained at the lectern. “I’m not finished.” She scrunched her face and ran fingers through limp hair. “It’s on Cha-Ching’s website—I try to follow what they’re up to. It’s listed as their next big project—The Preserve—an irritatingly ironic name since their sketch map shows houses, stores, and office buildings instead of unbroken forest. You know nothing about it? They haven’t submitted anything or contacted you?”
Sparks looked around at the other council members. Sutton shrugged. Van Womple’s eyelids drifted slowly down again.
Luther decided to find out more. “Did you contact the Planning Department?”
“They said they had nothing on file.”
“Did you contact the developer?”
Ms. Hogan’s eyes narrowed. “They refused to talk to me and don’t respond to emails.”
“Development projects have to be approved by the Planning Department, so keep calling them.”
“It would be nice if Sylvan County posted proposed projects on their web site like other counties do.”
Davis cut in before Luther could respond. “I’ll pass that along. Thank you.”
The woman sighed and marched back to her seat.
Council President Sparks shuffled through a pile of papers. “And now we’ll take up our first order of business. Let me see if I can find it…”
Davis responded, “It’s on the agenda. We’re honoring Boy Scout Troop 1156 for um…?” He looked at the others for help.
“Oh yes,” Sparks said. “Where are they?”
There was no sign of boy scouts in the chamber.
Davis looked around. “Did anyone send them an invite?”
Shrugs all around.
Sparks frowned. “Well, someone find out where they are.”
The meeting secretary closed the Candy Crash game on her smartphone and began scrolling through contacts.
“This is important,” Sparks said. “It’s important to honor the troops.”
The troops? Luther wondered if he’d misheard.
“I was there on 9-11,” Sparks continued. “Saw the towers come down. Right there on my TV. And then I had brunch. Waffles, I think.”
T.C. Weber has pursued writing since childhood, and learned filmmaking and screenwriting in college, along with physics and ecology. His first published novel was a near-future cyberpunk thriller titled Sleep State Interrupt (See Sharp Press). The first book of a trilogy, it was a finalist for the 2017 Compton Crook award for best first speculative fiction novel. The sequels, The Wrath of Leviathan and Zero-Day Rising, are also out. These were followed by Born in Salt, a character-oriented alternate history novel, and The Survivors, a post-apocalyptic horror novella. His latest work, The Council, pits a naïve councilman and a down-on-her-luck single mom against greedy developers and a dysfunctional government, to try to save their county’s last stand of forest.
Mr. Weber is a member of Poets & Writers, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association, the Horror Writers Association, and the Maryland Writers Association, and has run numerous writing workshops. By day, Mr. Weber works as an ecologist, and has had a number of scientific papers and book chapters published. He lives in Annapolis, Maryland with his wife Karen and two miniature schnauzers. He enjoys traveling and has visited all seven continents.
Welcome to the book tour for the romantic fantasy Of Demon Kind by Wendy L. Anderson. Read on for an exclusive and spicy excerpt and a chance to win a paperback copy of this beauty!
Of Demon Kind (Kingdom of Jior #1)
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
He’s heir to a dark throne. She’s a gentle healer. Will their forbidden attraction be the key to mending his broken soul?
Prince Lorn just wants to be left alone. Drinking heavily to numb the despair of failing to prevent his evil father’s horrific defeat and his own inability to conquer the humans, the devastated half-demon has spent the last five years exiled in a drunken stupor. But when he’s falsely accused of kidnapping a beautiful noble, he emerges vowing to fight to clear his name…by becoming her white knight.
Princess Lililaira longs to be free. Imprisoned in a sorcerer’s tower, the courageous woman is startled when a gorgeous, winged man flies in through the window and offers rescue. Seizing the opportunity to escape, she places her trust in the fierce warrior’s arms in a daring flight to freedom.
Desperate to avert another brutal war, Lorn draws nearer to his lovely companion while wrestling with the sins of his past. And though Lililaira is happy to help her intriguing savior prove his innocence in return for his aid in evading her cruel father’s rule, her growing love demands she stand beside him as they set into an unknown future.
Can they break away from eternal torment and claim their destiny together?
Of Demon Kind is the thrilling first book in the Kingdom of Jior romantic fantasy series. If you like brooding anti-heroes, chivalrous passions, and epic medieval battles, then you’ll adore Wendy L. Anderson’s magical tale.
Excerpt (May be sexually explicit)
She tried to pull away, surprised, but he gently held her, tasting her. His mouth explored her soft lips as though her honey-sweet flavor was something new to him. He kissed her as if it truly was the first time, at least the first time like this. She relaxed and began to kiss him back, although, with a kiss that had no healing in it, only a slowly building passion. Their hearts quickened together. Lorn moved his hands to her shoulders, and slid them down her arms, along her sides pulling the cloth from around her body. He caressed her hips and she gasped lightly, completely revealed to his hot gaze.
“No,” she said breathlessly, pulling away, “Rest, you are not well.”
Lorn pulled her closer and despite her words, she did not resist as he pulled her back to him.
“I am well, thanks to you.” He said, in a voice that grew deep and husky, giving away a hint of the intensity building in him. She moved closer and lay next to him molding her body against his.
Lorn felt the smoothness of her breasts brush against him. They kissed again giving in to the passion that rose between them like an erupting geyser. The shawl had completely fallen from her body and they both reveled in the feel of each other’s nakedness. Slowly, she moved up, straddling his hips, and only hesitated a moment before she gently lowered herself onto his firmness. He guided her, his hands on her hips. There was a hesitant moment of excruciating waiting as the final barrier that separated them, tore. A gasp escaped Lily’s lips as he bucked, and she took him completely into her warmth.
They began to move together as their bodies intersected, merged, and became one. They undulated with a slowly building rhythm. Lorn’s hands caressed Lily’s hips and he wished he could touch her many soft places, all at one time. He forced himself to go gently as he smoothed his hands up her thighs and back and cupped her breasts as if he could not get enough of the feel of her soft, pearly skin. Lily arched over him with pleasure now as he caressed her breasts. Her hair flowed down her back and tickled the tops of his thighs. As she tossed her head it rippled over them as she rode him. They moved together in perfect unison. Then bending forward to take his mouth again, they kissed passionately and moved in a danceas old as time.
As their bodies continued to melt together Lorn wrapped his arms around her, rolled on top of her, and gave a great push in deeper. Filled with energy, now he was in control and his control snapped. He plunged into her, growling with pleasure at the ecstasy of being inside her. He knew he had never felt anything as wonderful as her body under his. His chest brushed her breasts as he leaned into her, he tried not to crush her as she pulled him in deeper grasping his smooth, firm buttocks, wrapping her legs around his hips, the pressure raged and built within their bodies.
Lorn never wanted this feeling to stop. His mind and body were enslaved by the awareness of her. Lily moved with Lorn in equal fervor whispering that this is what she had wanted from the first night when she had cleaned his wounds and seen his beautiful, masculine body. It was as if everything they had been through culminated in this moment and they took their relief in each other. As they reached the height of their lovemaking, he plunged deeply into her, exploding. With a final shudder, they climaxed at the same moment, each crying out, panting as they bonded their bodies and their hearts together, forever.
Lorn squeezed his eyes tightly as the pulsing eruption emanating from his shaft reverberated through his body. His injuries had been completely forgotten; he finally collapsed by her side and pulled her into his arms. Lily eased her leg over his hips and with a sigh; she moved up and kissed his mouth. She rubbed her lips back and forth against his. She kissed down his neck and then as if to prolong their ecstasy, she moved up to kiss his nipple and played her tongue around in a circle. Lorn moaned smiling with the teasing pleasure and gently grasped her face, pulling her into a last, long, deep kiss. Their tongues danced as their bodies had danced. Thus, limbs entwined, as the night deepened, they eventually fell into a peaceful, sated sleep.
Outside the storm raged and layers of snow and ice blanketed the valley below. Lorn and Lily slept peacefully side by side, and when morning came, they awoke to the warmth of each other’s bodies. Lily kissed Lorn and he ran his tongue over his lips, tasting her honey flavor when she broke the contact. She pressed her body to his and they made love while outside the wind howled about the coming day.
Wendy L. Anderson is a Colorado native and mother of two boys. She has an English Degree from Regis University and writes books, short stories and poetry. Wendy is a devout reader of the classics, fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. She has decided it is time to write down the fantasies from her own mind. Writing about everything from fantastical worlds to the stuff of her dreams she takes her stories along interesting paths while portraying characters and worlds she sees in her mind’s eye. Her goal is to deviate from common themes, write in original directions and transport her reader to the worlds of her creation.
Welcome to the book tour for the first novel in The Silver Ones duology by Charlotte Mallory! Read on for more info and a chance to win a signed copy of you own!
The Silver Ones (Silver Duology #1)
Expected Publication Date: October 23rd
Genre: Dark Fantasy Romance/ Werewolves
When she has to convince the Alpha of Warden to pick her as his mate, she finds herself frustratingly captivated by the domineering male…whose language she doesn’t even speak.
Women are unexpectedly waking up with silver hair and blue eyes—humans who harbor innate magic in their veins. It’s a power that shifter wolves are hungry to utilize… to the point of abducting Rem Walker right from her home on her family farm.
Her life no longer matters when an Elder Witch ensnares Rem in a binding death curse, threatening the life of Rem’s younger brother as leverage. The only way to break the curse is to meet its demands: convince the Alpha of Warden to choose her as his mate before he chooses another Silver.
The Alpha is shrewd, however, and he suspects things are not as they seem. When a romance buds that’s as steamy as the hot springs she visits, Rem is torn between loyalties, making life-threatening decisions with the hopes to somehow untangle herself from a web of pack betrayals.
In the midst of all this chaos… Rem can’t stop asking: Why her? Why must she be chosen one to bear this curse?
Why does the Elder Witch demand that she mate Alpha Ronan? And why does Rem enjoy the touch of the Alpha so much, when she has to betray him?
This is a slowburn fantasy romance story, so not for those seeking an instalove connection… although the romance is still just as satisfying! Content Warning: Rated 18+ for violence and steamy scenes.
The wind continued to blow, Ronan’s scent filling Rem’s lungs. She wanted to get closer to him, to breathe him in. The Alpha cautiously glanced up at the moon and then back at her. A darker expression overcame him. She truly smelled him for the first time and she failed to hide that she was enamored by it.
And he knew it.
The moon caught his eyes at just the right angle, and they flashed white like it would for a wolf, reminding her of the beast within. The overwhelming knowledge of being alone with him, in the woods, under the moon, with these changes coursing through her, melted away any barriers that remained between them.
He took a small step forward, his eyes laced with a cunning curiosity. The more she stared at this male that loomed over her, the more she became entrenched in everything about him.
She could feel his power. She could feel that he was an Alpha. She couldn’t explain the novel sensation, but it was a knowledge that she knew, like an instinct.
Ronan’s stolid face gently broke, a hint of a smile forming. He was enjoying watching her gain a new sense of her surroundings.
Charlotte Mallory is eager to share her love for Dark Fantasy Romance stories, and dabbling in a few Contemporary Romances. What she enjoys most is taking well loved tropes and adding her own take on them. Right now, she greatly enjoys anything with Fantasy or Contemporary with an Alpha male lead, paired with a female lead that can absolutely handle her own! In her spare time, she enjoys nature, bonsai trees, coffee, and taking random art classes.
3 DANGEROUS rogues. 2 nations at WAR. 1 IMPOSSIBLE heist. Ocean’s 11 meets Game of Thrones. From one of the creators of WARFRAME!
THE KICKSTARTER SENSATION THAT WAS OVER 700% FUNDED.
When Raik, the most cunning smuggler this side of the desert, finds where the Ivory King vaults his magical runes—he builds a crew to execute an elaborate heist.
Among them is Kahli Mahanta, a religious assassin with blind ambition. A young rogue, Kirin, with wit sharper than his arrows ought to be. And Amara, the so-called Nightspirit, whose raven-hair conceals even darker secrets.
It won’t be easy. They’re opposed by the curved blades of the magic-deranged, watched by a paranoid king, and hunted by gaunt beasts that click in the cold desert night… All the while discovering that trusting each other might be the most dangerous mission of all.
To Steal the Sun is a tale of unlikely heroes thrust together in a new refreshing fantasy. One cast in vibrant silks, fragrant spice, and the relentless glare of a radiant sun.
Raik never used to plan. Now it was all he did. And he was particularly proud of this plan. If it worked, he’d have his own personal thief.
As he walked, he calculated every step along the prison path. He’d been in places like these many times over his years. They always smelled of blood, stale sweat, and piss. This time, he was a guest, but the stink didn’t care how he came to be there.
Raik followed a white-cloaked and hulking rune knight through the humid tunnel system beneath the main building. Behind him trailed a guard and the lieutenant warden of General Revard Zol Prison.
The granite corridor narrowed and twisted, an umbilical cord leading them into the womb of the structure. The lower they descended, the higher the temperature. Raik tugged at the high neck of his red cloth coat, giving his skin room to breathe. He mopped his brow with the back of his hand and scratched at his thin beard.
“This would be an ominous walk,” he said. “I mean, if not for the wonderful company.”
The rune knight turned, armor groaning under the white cloak, and hissed, “Shut it, smuggler.” His breath smelled sickly sweet, a signature of those who used runes. As a devotee of Harkan, the man’s head was “cleansed.” The roots of his hair were seared out, and where his ears would normally be, were two white scared nubs that contrasted with his bronze skin—all in homage to the knighthood’s founder. Idiots. Harkan was no one worth imitating.
Raik faked calm disinterest at the knight’s words, but inside, his repulsion grew. The knight’s appearance conjured memories he’d rather avoid, but worse, it aroused a desire to kill. Kill the knight and take the runes no doubt embedded in his sword hilt. But his rules wouldn’t allow it.
Never use runes lest they use you.
They were simple, and they worked.
“Pick up the pace,” the knight growled. Raik concentrated on his rules because his desires screamed the opposite. Luckily, they reached their destination before his concentration ran out. The corridor led them to a larger room dimly lit by four braziers that emphasized the darkness rather than banishing it. Each of the three walls had a wooden door reinforced with iron bands sitting in their center. Sobbing drifted from the right door while a rhythmic snapping sound akin to a thick branch breaking, overshadowed it from the left.
Raik, along with the lieutenant and guard, followed the knight to the chamber’s center. From there, he was able to see the engraved images on the doors. The old Jaru gods. A rhino head for Kartajani, a crocodile for Sorasku, and a panther for B’sashti.
The lieutenant interrupted him. “Yes, the three doors of Zol do exist. One for each of the hells Kith buried the old gods in.” He snickered and spread his arms wide. “See for yourself.”
Raik resisted glaring at the man. “My lucky day.”
“Just open it,” the knight said through gritted teeth.
The lieutenant warden leaned against the entrance and unhooked a massive key ring from his belt. The multitude of keys varied in lengths and metals. He sorted through them quickly and found a smaller ring that contained only three keys, one for each of the doors of torture. Under the intense scrutiny of the rune knight’s glare, the lieutenant’s hands trembled. He dropped the ring. The keys clinked to the ground, and the guard—who was not a guard but Raik’s disguised apprentice—moved to pick them up.
As an author he has contributed to multiple comic anthologies and writes the ongoing graphic novel, AARDEHN, with artist Eric Vedder. As a game developer, he is credited as creative director of THE DARKNESS 2, and is one of the creators of the smash-hit game WARFRAME. He lives in London, Ontario, Canada with his wife and two children. He once caught a fly with chopsticks.
Looking to read a new and exciting medical thriller? How about The Panacea Project by Catherine Devore Johnson?
Read on for details and pre-order a copy today!
The Panacea Project
Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2023
Genre: Medical Thriller
A timely exploration of bodily autonomy set in a classic medical thriller
Calla Hammond has always been a loner―a product of the foster system and avoided by others because of a skin condition. When doctors discover her immune system holds the key to curing cancer, she struggles to advance lifesaving research in a world that sees her only as a means to an end. Yet along the way, Calla gains the one thing she has always longed for: a chosen family.
When a group of unscrupulous people join forces to sell Calla’s blood to the highest bidder, she digs deep to find the strength to retake control of her life, her body, and her story.
The Panacea Project is a layered examination of self-sacrifice, implicit bias, and the juxtaposition of bodily autonomy with high-stakes capitalism―for those who love fiercely strong characters and deep themes infused with heartwarming moments of love and humor.
Catherine Devore Johnson is a former attorney turned writer. Her work has won or placed in competitions held by the Houston Writer’s Guild and the Writer’s League of Texas, and she has published an essay in The Houston Chronicle about caring for her mother after two strokes. She works as a writer and editor at a children’s hospital and lives in Houston with her husband and two children. The Panacea Project is her first novel.
Today I am sharing the last book in the Illyria trilogy, Imbalance of Power by Armin Shimerman. If you pre-order now you can save 10% off the purchase price! (I’m only sharing this, it is in no way promotional for me)
Illyria: Imbalance of Power
Expected Publication Date: Winter 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Historical Fantasy
With the threat of further imprisonment held over him, Doctor John Dee must use all his talents to solve the mystery of who on Illyria is shepherding religious insurrectionists bent on overthrowing the Queen. Helped by his acolyte, Will Shakespar, they investigate the court of Count Orsino, their chief suspect.
Together, in this exciting final chapter, Steeped in Elizabethan history, Dee and Shakespar must maneuver through a labyrinth of religious intolerance as they seek to protect Crown and Country.
Their mission brings them in contact with the witty characters of Toby Belch, Malvolio, Feste, and others in a fancifully imagined prequel to “Twelfth Night.”
Angela Hardwicke is back; this time she’s taking on her toughest mystery! Read on for more info about Hot Ash by Russ Colchamiro!
Publication Date: September 6th, 2022
Genre: Sci-Fi Mystery
Intergalactic private Angela Hardwicke is Eternity’s most daring spy for hire…
Following the mysterious and ill-timed death of her elderly husband, Camille Engquist was set to inherit the family’s real estate development company. But her stepkids stole it from her first. Or so she claims.
As Hardwicke and her protégé Eric Whistler dive into the world of affordable housing, synthetic concrete, and corporate succession planning, their investigation put them face-to-face with the haves and have-nots, a new form of cocaine, a boundary-pushing neurobiologist, a majestic domed city and a violent conspiracy that stretches farther and deeper than they ever could have imaged. But the most insidious betrayals are sometimes closer to home.
In Hot Ash, Russ Colchamiro’s most action-packed Sci-Fi mystery yet, Angela Hardwicke must grapple with the worst pain of all—that the people we love are the ones we should fear most.
And don’t miss the first two books in the series, Crackle and Fire and Fractured Lives!
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two ninjas, and crazy dog Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13,TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, Thrilling Adventure Yarns, Camelot 13, and Brave New Girls.
Welcome to the book tour for the next instalment in The Sands of Achten Tan series by Debbie Iancu-Haddad, The Bone Master! Read on for more info!
The Bone Master
Publication Date: October 22, 2022
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Own Voices
Kaii Haku has lived his whole life in the shadow of his cruel father’s magic. Rebelling against his father- the Bone Master- by drinking and sleeping around was Kaii’s main occupation for years.
But when one of his best friends is kidnapped by pirates, Kaii embarks on a perilous rescue mission with two retired pleasure house workers, a shy teen bookworm, and a feisty girl from the pirate crew. The journey will take Kaii and his allies far from Achten Tan, to a sea ruled by dangerous conditions and ships that travel on the backs of monsters.
For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference, but if he wields his emerging bone magic to save the girl he loves, he risks losing himself and becoming like his father – a man who tried to kill him.
When I first got my magic back, this awareness overwhelmed me. Sensing the ancient leviathan bones, the city is carved into, and the bones of its occupants. It took me a while to discern the living, breathing residents from the structures surrounding us. These fleeting specks of existence celebrate life today and are reduced to dust tomorrow.
Morbid, Kaii. Really morbid. Gast me. I’m turning into my dad.
I stride through the Undercity, sensing the vertebrae all around me. Up ahead, I detect two (probably live) bodies before I see them, and one more, further away, the target of my visit.
“Who goes there?”
Long wooden staffs bar my way into the Undercity. Which is really gasting rude, all things considered. The tall sharp-faced elf who spoke is obviously one of Aislinn’s people, the Svaalti elves who moved into the Undercity the day after the cavern gnomes left. The two elves, one male, and one female, regard me with haughty expressions. Sporting long pale hair, braided in intricate patterns, their robes a fine silk rarely seen in Achten Tan. I’m relieved they haven’t replaced the bone weapons my father confiscated the day they arrived, seeking refuge after the destruction of Satama.
“Kaii Haku, to visit Opu Haku.” I state. Not that it’s any of their business. The elves nod and move aside, their expressions still just on the wrong side of respectful. Aislinn and her people have taken control of the Undercity like a rot growing into the marrow. They’ll need to be dealt with eventually, but it’s not my responsibility to do so. At least not yet.
Today I’m here to see my father, though I don’t know why I bother. I can already feel him up ahead. My ability to sense bones doesn’t tell me if he’s dead or alive, but something tells me he still lives. As I enter the passageway below the Undercity, an almost palpable wave of animosity floats my way. It must be my imagination.
Opu Haku hasn’t taken well to his imprisonment. The rock cage at the end of the tunnel is lit only by a flickering torch. The hunched figure in the shadows doesn’t stir as I approach, but I sense a subtle testing of my wards, searching for an opening. If he finds it, he could break my bones, hurl me across the tunnel, try to kill me. Again.
“Still can’t throw me down the hall.” I aim for glib, but my tone misses its mark, sliding off his hunched shoulders to land in a splat at his feet. He can’t attack me with bone magic. I’m shielded by the protection runes tattooed into my skin, so instead, he hurls sharp words, seeking to make a mark.
“Why are you here?” he snarls.
“The usual.” I approach the stone bars and slide the package of food through the narrow gap. Drizko engineered a device that provides a trickle of water. It flows through his cell, washing away waste, and enabling him to drink. The smell down here is foul. Body odor and refuse with a side of dirt and despair. Does he even bother to bathe himself anymore? He’s sunk so low, figuratively and literally. From the top of Chief’s Rib to the deepest hole in the Undercity.
“Any plans of getting me out of here?” he asks. His voice is close. I look up to discover he’s right up against the bars. Grey eyes, the same color as my own, stare me down, and for an instant, I see vulnerability in his granite gaze, but I blink and it’s gone.
“No. Nobody misses you, old man.”
Ok. That was cruel, but the guy tried to kill me, more than once. All my warm fuzzy feelings for him are long gone.
“Then why bother feeding me?” He hurls the package I just passed through at the bars, the loaves of algae bread and dried meat strips scattering on the dirty cell floor. “Why prolong my suffering?”
“Maybe I won’t come back then.” I turn and leave, his eyes stabbing my back like knives.
I don’t mean it. I won’t let my own father starve to death, even if the bastard deserves it. He blames me for his imprisonment, and for my part in the destruction of his bone staff, even though both result from his own actions. But I’m not the one who decided to leave him down here. That was the town council’s decision. Even his toady, Rapaccio Pallor, couldn’t sway them.
As I exit the Undercity, my feet turn right towards Jezebone’s. That’s where I always end up lately. It’s better than going back to my empty rooms.
I’m nursing my second or third drink when a wide smile and an An’cher uniform block my view of the bar.
“What are you drinking?” Kamal swings his large blond frame down onto the bench opposite me, patting the seat at his side for D’or to join him. D’or hesitates a moment, his green eyes swinging from me to Kamal.
“Do you want company?” D’or asks me, shoving back his mess of dark curls.
I wave my hand at his already seated boyfriend. “Sure.” I love being surrounded by sickeningly in-love couples. Nothing better.
“Should you two even be in here?” I toss back the rest of my Xenthalor Venom and motion to the barmaid to hit me again. Hopefully not literally this time.
Kamal scrunches up his pale eyebrows like a confused dasu pup. “First of all, I’m almost seventeen now and I have An’cher privileges… And D’or…” he turns to his boyfriend, “do you get a Tar-tule rider discount?”
I’m just messing with him, anyway. I seriously doubt Jezebone’s gives a gast about a minimum age for drinking or for use of their other services.
“Where have you two been?” I mumble into my empty cup.
They exchange a look. “Oh, we were out of Achten Tan for a few days… Visiting my parents at the caverns,” Kamal responds.
He’s sweet, trying to spare my feelings, but I force the issue, relishing the prickle of discomfort. “Mila and Geb’s ceremony?”
I’m not bitter. They invited me and I wanted to go. I was just too busy with my ‘drinking myself stupid’ schedule… I’d built up a rhythm and couldn’t take a break for things like forever ceremonies, especially when it’s the girl who was supposed to be my future.
Kamal and D’or exchange another look.
“Can you two still read each other’s minds? Or mine?” I ask.
I really should have had them sign a non-disclosure agreement before I invited six people into my brain. They know too much. I’d make them disappear, but I kinda like the two brats.
“We can’t read your mind,” D’or says, his green eyes glinting with mischief. “Not since Mila’s mind-reading elixir wore off. And we still have enough material to work through from the night of the heist.”
“That was a long list,” Kamal smirks. The two boys nudge each other, practically giggling. It’s disgusting, in a cute, nauseatingly sweet kinda way.
The barmaid slams my drink down in front of me, sloshing some of the green liquid out of the glass to splash on my hand. I miss Kiva. How was I to know the new girl only tends the bar and doesn’t offer those services? I mean, it’s a pleasure house, for Gast’s sake.
I study my wet hand for a moment before lifting my eyes to her furious black ones and licking my fingers off slowly, one at a time. For a moment it looks like she’s going to hit me again, but then she huffs, throwing her dark tresses over her shoulder and stamping off towards the bar again.
“Actually, we wanted to order a drink…” Kamal calls after her.
D’or sighs and slides out of his seat. “I’ll get it. Your usual, babe?”
Kamal nods and unashamedly watches Do’r’s backside as he moves towards the bar. Not that I blame him. I’d watch too if I wasn’t worried about Kamal thumping me for ogling his boyfriend. Not that I care about being hit, but they are friends, sort of, and I don’t do it with friends. I don’t even think about doing it with friends. I made that mistake before and I’ve learned my lesson.
But as my eyes follow D’or towards the bar, I spot a girl who most certainly is not a friend. In fact, I’ve never seen her before. She’s leaning on the wall by the bar, holding a tankard the size of a pumble and wearing a frown that promises to burn this town to the ground. She’s definitely not from around here. Not to brag, but I’ve slept with every unattached, reasonably young, warm body around these parts, who ISN’T a friend. I’d love to add her to my list.
Her clothes are distinctly foreign and I use the term clothes lightly. Apparently, she thinks knives are a fashion accessory. I’ve counted five from this angle alone and I can only see one side of her. She’s not so much wearing a shirt as a type of leather halter with room for more knives, but it affords a very enticing view of her breasts. Before I think too hard about it, I’m out of my seat and crossing the bar in her direction.
I’m not quite into weaving territory yet, which is good, because this girl looks like she’ll require the use of at least part of my brain, not to mention other parts of me. I wonder if her tongue is as sharp as her knives. Still, I manage to walk a pretty straight line over to the bar, my fresh drink only slightly sloshing over my hand.
She watches me, locking her dark eyes with mine, a smirk lifting one side of her full lips. Challenge accepted. I make it across the room to her side, planting one hand on the wall by her head. Mostly for effect, but also a bit for support.
The girl turns towards me, wiping her luscious lips with the back of her hand, and slaps her tankard back onto the bar.
“Can I get you another?” I ask though I don’t know how she finished the first one.
“I’ll pass.” Her voice is deep and raspy. “It tastes like whale piss.” She scrapes a hand through her hair, pushing the short dark strands back behind her ear. One side is shaved short, while the other brushes her bare tattooed shoulder. Mmmmm, tattoos. No, wait. Tattoos are bad. I’m not into tattoos… anymore. Oh, Gast, who am I kidding?
“Well, if you hate the taste, why did you finish the first one?” Am I imagining it, or is she shifting closer?
She shrugs. “I was thirsty.” Yup, she’s definitely moving closer. Running her hand up my arm, she gives my bicep a squeeze, “but now I’m hungry for something else.” Then she licks those pink lips, my eyes following the motion with fascination.
I’ll admit, this has never worked quite so well on a complete stranger before. Maybe she’s heard about me. I lean in, testing the limits of this arrangement. She doesn’t give an inch, which places us chest to chest, and hers is just as pleasing up close as it was from across the room.
“Are you new in town?” I murmur.
Her dark eyes turn up to mine. I’m half a head taller than her, just the way I like it.
“I’m just passing through. Here today, gone tomorrow. So why don’t you show me a good time while I’m here?” She leans in to speak and her breath whispers along my cheek. Her hand is moving again, sliding across my chest and scraping my jaw. She pushes up on her toes, her mouth hovering close to mine.
“What’s the best view in Achten Tan?” she asks. Her scent is tantalizing. A salty, flowery combination I can’t place. I want to inhale her. Better yet, I want to taste her. I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry, and take the last gulp of my drink. She watches my mouth as I lick my lips, her pink tongue darting out to wet her bottom lip.
“Best view in Achten Tan is from the top of Chief’s Rib, where I live.”
She nods in a type of weird satisfaction, like I got the answer right. I look down again; she’s practically plastered to my front, which is good… or bad… because she’s going to feel…
Her smile widens and her hand is on the move again, sliding down, down, down…
I catch her wrist before her hand can reach its destination. I’d like to continue this, but not in the middle of Jezebone’s. They don’t allow that behavior here unless you’re paying for it.
“How about I give you the tour?” I ask.
“Of your rooms?” I thought she wanted to see the view from my father’s chambers, but apparently, she’s as eager as I am.
“Sure. Of my rooms. This way…” I pause, waiting for her name.
Eighteen-year-old Mila hasn’t spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends Mila to Achten Tan – City of Dust – a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.
To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from the sky-high lair of the Bone Master, Chief Opu Haku.
Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian’s assistant, a Tar-tule rider and the chief’s playboy son.
But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem and trusting the wrong person can be deadly.
If Mila fails she will never speak again and her bones may be added to the wasteland.
About the Author
Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert.
She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with two more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices
For her day job, she gives lectures on humour, laughter yoga workshops and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.
Happy publication day to author Ashley W. Slaughter! Read on for more info about the second novel in The Crowned Chronicles, Of Deceit and Snow and grab yourself a copy today!
Of Deceit and Snow (The Crowned Chronicles #2)
Publication Date: November 8th, 2022 (Today 🥳)
Genre: YA Fantasy
A queen trapped in a game of lies.
Queen Rosemary Avelia has never felt so out of control of her own life. In the kingdom of Tarasyn, she is fighting for her survival, playing to her captor’s wants and desires for a bride—and for her kingdom of Lecevonia. She must keep her wits about her if she is to survive the extravagant, Talent-infused court life of Snowmont. But how long can she balance between her game and her need to return to her kingdom? To her people?
A king fighting for power.
King Gryffin Danicio is also struggling to stay in control. The more he covers up the secrets of his family, the more fragile his hold on the minds of the people of his kingdom becomes. Beneath the luxurious rooms and gilded furnishings of Snowmont is a dark, hidden past–and a future full of hope and power not only for Tarasyn, but for the entire Magian Peninsula. Gryffin has plans for the Talented of the Magian Peninsula, but without Rosemary’s support, his idea of a land strengthened by magic may never be fulfilled.
A magic on the brink of liberty.
An awakening of the Peninsula’s ancient magic is on the horizon. Rosemary must choose to stop it—or aid Gryffin in bringing it to fruition.
But first, she must get home.
And she cannot do it alone.
Of Deceit and Snow is the second installment of the Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces love, reign, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.
A realm touched and forgotten by magic. A young queen orphaned by disease. A prince after her heart.
Queen Rosemary Avelia knows little about ruling a kingdom, and even less so about the ancient legends of her land. Since no one has been born Talented in centuries, she simply scoffs at the idea of magic. However, when the charming Prince Gryffin Danicio arrives just as her kingdom is under a deadly threat, he shows her that not all kingdoms of the Magian Peninsula have so quickly dismissed the legends of the Talented. Perhaps the Talented should not so easily be forgotten.
Of Legends and Roses is the first book in The Crowned Chronicles, a series following passionate and determined Queen Rosemary as she faces reign, love, the threat of war, and the mystifying world of the Talented.
Ashley W. Slaughter was born and raised in south Louisiana, among sugarcane fields lining the banks of the Mississippi River. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from the University of Louisiana at Monroe in 2018 and worked as a wildlife biologist before pursuing her career as an author. Writing has always been a passion of hers, as shown through her near-to-bursting manila folder of short stories she’d written throughout grade school, and the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed her to rediscover this passion. She enjoys hiking, kayaking, spending time with her husband and pets, and, of course, reading.
An insightful look at the cultural impact of the television phenomenon Sex and the City.
Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, one word was on everyone’s lips: sex. Sex and the City had taken the United States, and the world, by storm. Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha influenced how a generation of women think, practice, and talk about sex, allowing them to embrace their sexual desires publicly and unlocking the idea of women as sexual beings on par with men.
In Sex and the City: A Cultural History, Nicole Evelina provides a fascinating, in-depth look at the show’s characters, their relationships, and the issues the show confronted. From sexuality and feminism to friendship and motherhood, Evelina reveals how the series impacted viewers in the 1990s, as well as what still resonates today and what has glaringly not kept up with the times. The world has changed dramatically since the show originally aired, and Evelina examines how recent social movements have served to highlight the show’s lack of diversity and throw some of its storylines into a less than favorable light.
While Sex and the City had problematic issues, it also changed the world’s perception of single women, emphasized the power of female friendship, built brands, and influenced fashion. This book looks at it all, from the pilot episode to the spin-off movies, prequel, and reboot that together have built an enduring legacy for a new generation of women.
Nicole Evelina is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, non-fiction, and women’s fiction. Her six books have won more than 40 awards, including four Book of the Year designations. She was named Missouri’s Top Independent Author by Library Journal and Biblioboard as the winner of the Missouri Indie Author Project and has been awarded the North Street Book Prize and the Sarton Women’s Book Award. In addition to books, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Independent Journal, Curve Magazine and numerous historical publications. She lives outside St. Louis, Missouri.