#Excerpt “Ghosts of Guatemala” by Collin Glavac

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Spy Thriller

Date Published: 11-25-2019

 

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Who can you trust when corruption and danger are a way of life?

The CIA never left Latin America, and is facing catastrophic blackmail at the hands of an erratic Guatemalan drug lord: the infamous patrón of
Antigua – Pablo Puentes. Desperate for a swift solution, the agency calls in their black operative fixer: John Carpenter.

John is a cold-blooded professional ready for the job. But the mission doesn’t have a simple fix. Pablo has a disastrous kill switch in place.

John is still haunted by the mysterious death of his best friend who died on a far too similar mission, and now is uncertain about how much he can trust his handler or his sensual partner.

Back at the agency, tensions are running hot as the stench of corruption is growing to a boiling point. If things aren’t put to rights – and soon – the entire mission will go up in flames and take the CIA down with it.

Only John Carpenter can bring this drug lord to justice and get the answers he deserves.

Because this mission is personal…

If you like the relentless tension of Daniel Silva and the gritty reality of Lee Child then you’ll love this first book in

the John Carpenter Trilogy!

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EXCEPT

Prologue

The gunshot slammed into Brian’s chest with the force of a charging bull. It hadn’t been the first time he’d been shot. But he’d also never taken a direct hit in the torso or lost any vitals before. The slug threw him against the veranda door he had just snuck through, smashing glass and raking his arms as he crumpled painfully onto his back.

He managed not to moan – he was a professional even in the worst situations – but he couldn’t stop himself from hyperventilating. He was in shock. He knew he was in shock. He tried to kick it. Clear his mind, focus on the task at hand. He’d been shot. He needed to eliminate the threat. He had to finish the mission.

The searing pain was beginning to drip into his system now, a slow whine that overtook his adrenaline and as his pain tolerance started to be overwhelmed, he wanted to cry out, desperate for reprieve.

There was no one here to help him. If a mission went wrong, if someone was captured or killed, there would be no rescue. That’s how The Firm’s agent’s operated. That was how they kept the United States government far away from any political fallout. And besides, they never made mistakes.

Brian crawled painfully to cover, feeling blood smear against shards of glass against the floor. He pressed a hand to his chest, not bothering to look at how bad the wound was. He didn’t need to look at it. He knew what that kind of bloodflow through his gloves meant. He managed to pull himself next to a cabinet, leaning his back against the wood and tried to calm his breath. His sigh turned into a cough. He raised his other hand instinctively to cover his mouth and he found he hadn’t dropped his gun when he’d fallen. He held the reliable Beretta in white knuckled fingers that refused to let go, shaking from the effort of his training that refused to abandon him against all odds.

He looked down at the glass. Some of it had been decorated with a metal coating. He placed his gun in his lap and retrieved a large piece, angling it to see where his attacker was hiding. It was dark and his vision was beginning to blur. His thoughts began to wander.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be a simple hit. Kill the head of an Antiguan drug cartel. Snatch some information off a computer while he was at it. An upper level operative had confided in him that something was wrong with this cartel. Something about corruption. Something way above petty drug wars and trafficking operations.

He had slipped past security. Gotten into the estate. His target should have been here, caught unawares. A silent chuckle escaped him. Had he gotten that rusty? He coughed up blood.

As if to answer his unspoken questions, a figure emerged from the darkness. Brian watched it through the mirrored glass, but it was getting increasingly difficult to concentrate. The man was a large figure; imposing, he held a handgun and even as his consciousness ebbed and flowed, Brian couldn’t help but admire what a well-tailored suit he was wearing. He always tried to be an optimist. The man continued to walk toward Brian’s hiding place, waving the handgun as he spoke. His low voice pierced the darkness.

“Looks like my deal is better than your deal, mamón. I almost feel bad. But business is business.”

That was his target, no doubt about it. Sandor Puentes. But Brian didn’t understand what the man was saying. He couldn’t piece anything together. His mind was a fog. In his final moments, bleeding out, desperately attempting to complete at least part of his mission, Brian thought of his best friend John Carpenter, and the painstaking Spanish lesson he’d received. He’d wanted to master at least one good swear word.

Que te folle un pez!” Brian cried, bursting from behind the cabinet and preparing to unload his magazine into Sandor Puentes, brutal cartel boss of Antigua, probably one of the largest sex traffickers in all of Latin America. I hope you get fucked by a fish!

All people deserved justice. Some people’s justice was death.

Gunshots tore through the air like vengeance.

***

“In here!” Juan Puentes yelled to the guards. Where were the guards?

He had heard his mother and father yelling, and gunshots. The deals they had made with the other cartels were holding strong. Who could be attacking them? His heart pounded in his chest, his soul itched for battle. If there was trouble, he would protect his family. He clutched his shotgun and bounded into the foyer where he was sure the commotion was. Guards flooded the room alongside him, some shining flashlights. Idiotas, Juan thought, pushing a guard out of the way. He flicked on the light switch, turning on the lavish electric chandelier.

Pablo and Isabella, his uncle and mother were in the room, holding each other, shaking and weeping. Juan stared at them in shock. His eyes drifted over to his father’s desk, and he saw a handgun resting idly there. He was hardly aware of anything else until his uncle spoke and pointed near the door.

“I’m sorry, sobrino. Nephew. Truly, I am.”

A man dressed all in black laid in a bloody heap on the floor. Blood and broken glass were everywhere. Juan didn’t understand.

“I suppose it is not sobrino, anymore, mi hijo,” Pablo’s words hung, foreign in Juan’s ears. My son.

It was then that Juan saw.

Sandor Puentes, his strong and determined father – his loving father – lay beside the other man, his forehead blown apart, mouth twisted in a sneer.

Juan let out a wail, overwhelmed by the sight of his father, firing his shotgun into the air. The ornate chandelier exploded in a shower of glass and crystal. Its shattered remains fell all around him as darkness covered the room once more.

Chapter 1

 

One hundred people a week are murdered in Guatemala. It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, yet Antigua is known for its safety. That was because many cartels kept their children in Antigua. Teenage guards held shotguns guarding storefronts. They were never robbed. Who would be stupid enough to commit a crime with cartels keeping the city peaceful?

The government and local authorities were corrupt. This was known. Everything was owned and run by economic elites known as the oligarcas familias. The family of oligarchs. Mostly everyone else was poor.

Yet Antigua was called the ‘jewel of Guatemala’ because of its beauty.

Pablo Puentes believed in Antigua.

Pablo was slightly shorter than average and had a squatter frame, olive-brown skin and beady eyes. Anyone would recognize him as a Mayan. He was proud of this. He was one of the many whose descendants had originally flourished before Spanish conquest and colonialism had wiped the existing civilizations and created an underclass that lasted even today. But unlike the majority of Mayans in Guatemala who were poor and destitute, Pablo was wealthier than the city itself.

He lived on Cortega street, one of the richest neighbourhoods in the city, boasting a line of trees decorating either end, shading passersby from the sun. His estate was at the end of the street, vast and with ten foot walls, keeping itself hidden away from peering eyes. Vines crawled up the towering walls and were lined with barbed wire. It surrounded the largest courtyard in Antigua. Guards wearing camouflage uniforms and colored berets patrolled the walls and the dozens of long hallways and luxury suites. They held wicked Remington Model 870 tac-14 shotguns.

It had been two weeks since his brother Sandor Puentes had been killed. Pablo Puentes was now the new head of one of the largest cartels in Guatemala, and today would solidify his position more than anything he had done so far. But there was no wealth without danger.

Tío, please,” Juan Puentes pleaded, folding his arms to stop himself from using them as he spoke. He was trying to live up to his station, and be the strong imposing man his father had been. “Blackmail has never been our business. Business is our business, no? What am I missing here?” His beret spun slightly as he shook his head. It was white, the only one among the others holding that color, distinguishing him as el comandante. Many guards in the room wore the new black berets marking them as Pablo’s chosen men while still others sported the red berets of common guards.

Pablo couldn’t have been more opposite, wearing a polo shirt with white and cream pants made of cotton. He sat with his legs spread wide and comfortable, elbows resting on the massive oak table. He radiated power.

“You are right Juan. Business is our business. Every opportunity seized.” Pablo raised a fist and clenched it. “You are thinking of money. This is a small thing to think about. I have money. You have money. We all have money. But now I have something no one else does.”

“Then keep it. Don’t give it away.”

Pablo smiled and shook his head like a man who refused to share a secret. “To become invincible, I must declare war.”

“Yes, but tío, this opens another front in a war we don’t need to-”

“And there is no need to call me tío. Uncle. I much prefer being your father.”

Juan grew quiet. After his father Sandor died Pablo had quickly married Isabella, Juan’s mother. Pablo was now both his uncle and stepfather.

Isabella sat beside Juan cradling a laptop. Her slender frame was cloaked in a loose, blood-red dress. She gave her son a look of sympathy then spoke softly to Pablo.

“Juan is right that these are not simple cartels, or even politicians to threaten or bribe, mi amor.”

Pablo pointed an index finger down at the table and opened his mouth to make a point but Isabella continued.

“I am not saying no. You decided this. Juan is simply being cautious. There is a reason he heads your security.”

“I am not being cautious,” Juan snapped, immediately regretting the rudeness shown to his mother as he caught her glare. He touched her shoulder lightly in unspoken apology, before turning back to Pablo. “I am asking you to be more ambitious. There is more we can do with this information.”

Pablo raised a hand to cut off Juan’s protests. It was clear Isabella would not sway him either. He had decided. Pablo reached for a small gray cell phone lying in the middle of the table. He opened it solemnly and handed it over to Isabella.

Isabella’s eyes flicked from her laptop screen to the phone. She punched in a number then handed the phone back to Pablo.

They waited as it rang.

Pablo did not put the phone on speaker for the benefit of his wife or stepson. He shared so much with them and kept few things even from his guards. He had a reputation of being strangely open and keeping little to no privacy. Yet even Pablo wanted this conversation to be kept from his family. This moment would be his own. He held the phone close to his ear.

The line continued to ring.

Juan pursed his lips, eyes fixated on the phone. Isabella’s face was a mask, unreadable.

There was a click. Static, then a breath.

“Go ahead.” The voice on the other end was hard and flat, and full of contempt.

Pablo smiled. His voice would not be the one they expected, and he reveled in this revealed surprise; the tension before a magician turns his hand.

“Your man is dead,”

There was silence on the other end of the line.

“But perhaps you already knew that.”

Some static and a shuffling sound.

“Who is this?” It was a different voice now. Another man’s voice, hard, short, strong. A voice that gave commands instead of taking them.

“They call me the patrón of Antigua,” Pablo continued. “I have always liked the title.”

“Pablo Puentes.”

He was surprised how quickly the man had identified him. He had hoped for a little more playfulness in this exchange. “It seems you have heard of me.”

There was a brief pause, and Pablo thought he could hear the chattering of a computer keyboard. The voice spoke again.

“We know you front one of the largest illicit cartels in Latin America, dealing primarily in cocaine and sex trafficking. You extort protection money from half of Antigua. Money laundering. We know you have members of the oligarcha familia on your payroll – the respected López family voted to suppress the anti-corruption commission. We know you are currently located at 117 Cortega street. We know your wife Isabella Muñoz 43, and stepson, Juan Puentes, 27, and son Pablito Puentes, 8.”

“It seems you know quite a lot about me.”

“We even know you killed your brother Sandor Puentes. Does Isabella know that, Pablo? What about Juan? Mr. Puentes, this is an office of the United States of America’s Central Intelligence Agency. We don’t know a lot about you. We know everything about you.”

Pablo had to admit, some of this was concerning. But a fire was lit in his mind and though Pablo’s fists clenched, his smile did not waver. Instead, if anything, his determination was steeled. His voice cut the air like a knife.

“Do you know about this, Mr. Central Intelligence Agency?”

Pablo turned to Isabella, smiling, and nodded to her. She smiled back and took his hand and gave it a firm squeeze. Then she took a breath, shook herself, and sent a simple email to the man they were speaking with.

Pablo waited patiently. There was the sound of keyboards now – he was sure there was more than one – and hushed whispers saying something incoherent. Finally, the voice replied.

“You think you’re clever Puentes. You’re not. We know about this.”

Pablo put one of his hands up, as if making a sign of surrender, even though the man on the other end of the line couldn’t see. He was enjoying himself. “Alright, alright. It seems there are no secrets. This is good. I hate secrets.” Pablo leaned forward in his chair and bared his teeth. “I’m sure the American people know about this if it is no secret.”

“If you send any of this information to the-”

“It is too bad you cannot do anything.”

“Pablo, it appears you misunderstand the sheer power of the United States of America. Within hours, a Reaper drone loaded with Hellfire air-to-ground missiles can be called to strike wherever we choose around the globe. Its blast is a focused fifty-foot kill radius. You and your family can run. We don’t miss. It doesn’t leave dirt in its crater because the thousand-degree Fahrenheit chemical reactions are too hot. It makes glass. I have 117 Cortega street prepared for a priority cue. All I have to do is give the word.”

“I don’t think the Guatemalan government would like that very much, or the United Nations for that matter.”

“For Christ’s sake we bankroll the United Nations. All I have to do,” the man broke up the sentence for emphasis, “is give. The. Word. Do you know what the word is Pablo? The word is go. I know my drone pilots personally. Maybe they should get to know you too.”

“My brother used to say it’s not what you do, it’s who you know.”

Silence.

“I disagreed with him. It is what you do. That is why he is dead and I am alive. Señor, I have a very long list of emails for respected American journalists who are very good writers, and they write for very curious citizens. If I am killed, these journalists will receive the same information I sent to you.”

More silence. Pablo considered for a moment that the line was dead. He continued anyway.

“My brother did not know what I could do. But you, you know what I can do. Perhaps you will be safe.”

The silence continued for a moment, then there came a sound of exasperation.

“What do you want? What bizarre stroke of madness made you think you could get something out of this?”

Pablo shrugged. “Maybe send some money. Maybe send some favors.” He leaned forward again. “But whatever you do or do not do does not matter. You cannot kill me. That is what you did not know. Now. You. Do.”

He ended the call. Pablo snapped the small cell phone in two pieces and tossed the remains on the table in front of him. Juan let out a breath of air through his teeth. Pablo gave him a sideways glance and winked. He probably hadn’t liked the way he had spoken about his late father. But Juan was his son now. He would be stronger. Juan would be part of something much bigger now.

Isabella stroked his leg, bringing him out of his reflections. “You have become the most powerful man in Guatemala, mi amor.”

“No,” said Pablo, stroking her cheek, although she wasn’t wrong. “I have become the most powerful man in America.”

~~~

About the Author

Collin Glavac is a Canadian born actor and writer who lives in the province of Ontario Canada. He has written, directed and acted in two original stage plays, In Real Life, and LoveSpell. He completed his Dramatic and Liberal Arts B.A. and M.A at Brock University.

Ghosts of Guatemala is his first novel.

Collin loves hearing from readers, so please don’t hesitate to contact him by email at: collinglavac@gmail.com.

 

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#BookTour “Death Opens a Window (Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 2)” by Mikel J. Wilson

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Mourning Dove Mysteries, Book 2

Mystery, Crime Fiction, LGBTQ

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

Date Published: Oct 19, 2019

 

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BEST eBOOK SUSPENSE/THRILLER – New Apple Book Awards

BEST COVER OVERALL – New Apple Book Awards

 

The Mourning Dove Mysteries series includes:

1. MURDER ON THE LAKE OF FIRE

2. DEATH OPENS A WINDOW

3. A LIGHT TO KILL BY (coming August 3)

 

Emory Rome is back in DEATH OPENS A WINDOW, Book 2 of the Mourning Dove Mysteries and the follow-up to the international bestseller MURDER ON THE LAKE OF FIRE.

As he struggles with the consequences of his last case, Emory must unravel the inexplicable death of a federal employee in a Knoxville high-rise. But while the reticent investigator is mired in a deep pool of suspects – from an old mountain witch to the powerful Tennessee Valley Authority – he misses a greater danger creeping from the shadows. The man in the ski mask returns to reveal himself, and the shocking crime of someone close is unearthed.

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EXCERPT

At thirty-two stories, the Godfrey Tower jutted from the Knoxville skyline like a shark fin in the Tennessee River. Unseen through the frameless exterior walls of silvery, reflective glass, a young woman on the twenty-ninth floor sat with a phone held to her ear, pretending to be on a business call as she stared out the floor-to-ceiling window behind her desk. While her colleagues busied themselves on phones or computers at the dozens of cubicles throughout the large, open office space, Angie was not contributing to the organization’s productivity.

If she had looked down and across the street, the attractive brunette would’ve seen the unremarkable roof of the area’s next-tallest building fourteen floors below her. Instead she focused on the unobstructed view of downtown and the hazy, snow-peaked mountains beyond. She imagined herself hiking below the snowline with her new lumbersexual boyfriend and lying with him on a blanket before a tantric campfire. Angie could almost hear the crackling wood, until she realized the sound was coming from behind her.

She turned her chair around to see her boss tapping her desk with his pen. The hoary goat of a man stared her down, his pinched eyes straining to scold her through spotted glasses. “You’re having a rather one-sided conversation.”

Angie held up a silencing finger to her boss and made up something to say to her imaginary caller. “Thank you so much for your feedback, Mr. Watkins. We always appreciate hearing about good customer service, and I’ll be sure to pass along your kudos. Okay. Take care now.” She hung up the phone and greeted her boss with a smile. “I’m sorry, but I didn’t hear what you said.” She mimed a talking mouth with her hand. “He was talking my ear off.”

Mr. Ramsey, however, did not return her smile. In fact, a look of horror sprinted across his face as something behind her snatched his attention. Before Angie could turn around to see what it was, she heard a great shattering, followed by the pelting of glass on her back and right cheek.

A dark-haired man in a brown suit flew through the window headfirst and thudded faceup onto the floor beside her. The impact against the man’s back shoved the air from his lungs. He gurgled as he struggled to regain his breath – although no one could hear it over the screams of Angie and several of her co-workers. Shards of glass protruded from his head and neck, one at the base of an erratic fountain of blood that sprang from his carotid artery.

Angie, now shocked into silence, tore her eyes from the dying man and toward the broken window through which she had daydreamed just a moment earlier. Oblivious to the blood trickling from the small cuts on her own face, she took a step toward the large hole the man’s body had punched into the glass wall. She poked her head outside and looked all around.

Her boss grabbed her and pulled her away from the precarious opening. “Angie, what are you doing? It’s not safe!”

The young woman turned a confused face to him. “Where did he come from?”

~~~

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About the Author

Award-winning mystery author Mikel J. Wilson draws on his Southern roots for the international bestselling Mourning Dove Mysteries, a series of novels featuring bizarre murders in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee.

Wilson adheres to a “no guns or knives” policy for the instigating murders in the series.

 

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#BookBlitz “Cowboy to her Rescue” by Pam Mantovani

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Contemporary Western Romance, Small Town Romance

Date Published: May 2021

Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

Once betrayed, twice shy…

When a young soldier home on leave rescued Sydney Bishop from attackers, he also stole her heart. But, when he returned to active duty without saying goodbye, she was shattered.

Now years later, fate–and a little matchmaking–has brought them together again.

As a way of overcoming his own wartime nightmares, Ryland built a ranching retreat in Montana. His goal? To give traumatized military families a place to heal. But the ranch desperately needs funding. Luckily, help comes through, in the form of Sydney’s mother, who’s kept tabs on her daughter’s first love over the years. Her foundation is more than willing to give him the cash he needs, but there’s a catch.

And if Sydney finds out, she might never think of Ryland as her hero again. . .

~~~

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Excerpt

He slammed the truck to a stop. The seat belt, tight against his chest, jerked him out of the fantasy. His heart pounded, exactly as it had when’d felt her close tight around him when he’d eased inside her for the first time.

Swearing, he whipped his head around, saw her studying him. Her cheeks were flushed, her eyes wide, not with surprise, but with wonder. Exactly as they had been that single night.

God help him, he wanted her with a hunger he hadn’t felt in years.

They stared at one another, neither wanting to make the first move, both afraid of the consequences if they reached out and acted on the desire that stretched between them. How was it possible to be so powerful after all the years? After the way they’d parted?

I think you missed the turn-off,” she finally whispered.

They sat, figuratively and literally, at a crossroads. If they went straight ahead, if they acted on this need pulsing between them, would it be a short trip filled with speed and rush? Or, if they turned right, would it prove to be a detour that eventually led to a roadblock?

Sorry. I was daydreaming there for a moment,” he finally said, not attempting to keep the direction of his thoughts out of his voice or gaze.

Were you?” she asked with a boldness that surprised him.

I’m not sure it’s wise for us to go down that road again, Sydney.”

I suppose you’re right,” she said, turning away from him. But not before he heard her soft whisper, “And that’s a damn shame.”

~~~

About the Author

An author of passionate, emotional romances with heart, Pam loves crafting stories about independent women and men who discover the thrill and joy of falling in love. After years of moving as both an Army brat and corporate wife, Pam and her craftsman husband settled in Atlanta, close to family and friends. When not writing, Pam enjoys quilting, planting beautiful flowers, home improvement projects and spending time with her wonderful family.

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#BookBlitz “Seven Little Secrets” by K.L. Gore

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Seven Little Secrets

Young Adult

Publisher: Reedale Karma Press

Seven popular high school cheerleaders. Seven distinctive lives. Seven little secrets. And the truth that haunts them all.

The Janes have everything: beauty, brains, a secure future. So why did co-captain Natalie Greene trade her perfect life for eternal sleep? Her teammates hold pieces of the puzzle, but putting the parts together means revealing defects and vulnerabilities.

And when you’re a Jane, you’re flawless.

An afternoon of mourning turns into a day of disclosures. A day that challenges the teammates to discover the true meaning of friendship.

WINNER OF THE YOUNG ADULT NOVEL CATEGORY IN THE 2018 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS

~~~

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EXCERPT

I suck in a breath. “Hello?”

Gigi, it’s me.”

It’s not Daddy calling to make things square after all. Instead, Danni McCarthy’s voice is an arrow slicing through my heart.

My throat’s got an invisible python squeezing it. I swallow hard. No one’s ever heard me cry over weeds in my garden before, and I’m keeping it that way.

It’s still morning. Some people sleep in, you know.” I cradle the phone under my chin. My hands are scaly as lizard knees, so I reach for the jar of hand cream sitting on my nightstand.

Did you hear what happened?” she asks all high-pitched and nasally, like she’s gonna sob.

What?”

About Natalie?” Her voice cracks.

I drop the jar into my lap. Grab the receiver with both hands, heart flopping like a fish on dry land. “No. What?”

Oh my God, Gigi. She’s dead.” Danni sniffles. “Some hunters found her in the woods early this morning.”

I squeeze my eyes shut. Feel them grow coal hot beneath the lids. Keeping my voice steady, I ask, “How’d she do it?”

Do it? What do you mean?”

How’d she kill herself?”

There’s a pause, and then Danni blurts, “How do you know she killed herself?”

I’m like a burglar caught in a cop car’s headlights. No way I can explain myself without casting a guilty shadow. Every Jane on the cheerleading squad thinks she knows the others right down to their blood type. We should. For one thing, we spend most days swapping sweat and sharing the same stale gymnasium air. For another, Stony Grove is a small town. 4,500 people, including a bunch buried in the cemetery. You’d think we’d know each other well enough to read minds. But that’s not how the Janes work. Every one of them has a secret they don’t wanna let out of its cage. Even me.

~~~

About the Author

K.L. Gore lives in a small New York State town with her two amazing children and two semi-annoying cats. When she’s not writing books, she’s baking cookies. So once a year she eats homemade cookies. Although K.L. wrote her first unpublished novel at thirteen, she only began considering writing as a profession when her play, Something Blue, was performed on the college stage to an enthusiastic audience. Since then, she has spent years studying the craft of writing while penning several more novels. Her short stories have appeared in Beginnings and Cicada. She has taught creative writing through Greece Community Education and facilitates a monthly writer’s workshop at her local Barnes and Noble bookstore. You can find her on Twitter: @K_L_Gore and on her K.L. Gore Facebook page or read her posts and sign up for her newsletter on her website: http://www.klgore.com.

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#BookBlitz “Sing to me of Rain” by E.B. Dawson

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Middle-Grade Fantasy

Date Published: 5/22/21

An innocent naiad. A wounded boy. An adventure that will change their lives forever.

Plip is a naiad of the Great Waterfall, destined to one day sing the songs that send rain out into the world.

Akino isn’t destined for anything but trouble. His father long gone, his mother working on a plantation far away, he doesn’t really belong in the village below the Waterfall. And the villagers don’t let him forget it.

When Akino convinces Plip to travel down the mountain with him, for his own selfish purposes, he launches them into a world more dangerous than either of them could imagine. A world where people are not always what they seem and the rain does not fall evenly across the land.

~~~

Excerpt

The Great Waterfall

The village of Fells stretched up and down for nearly a kilometer on either side of the Great Waterfall. Its crooked little houses perched precariously one above the other, bolted to the mossy rock face in a manner that would seem quite miraculous to the rest of the world but was the least interesting aspect of life in Fells.

From here the weather of the world was sent out by the Weather Masters, wizened old men and women who plucked threads of water from the cascading falls and wove them deftly into clouds, guided by the song of the naiads, who danced in and out of the falls like fish in a river.

Plip had lived in the waterfall since she was no bigger than a water drop. She was now nearly grown, almost a full eight centimeters long with a powerful tail that propelled her up the falls and long, blue-green hair like her mother. But her singing voice had not arrived yet, even though she had been wrapping her throat in orchid leaves according to the exact instructions of her best friend Lua.

Plip’s mother sang the song for rain-that-would-fall-on-the-flowers. It was clear and sweet. One had to be gentle with rain that fell on delicate petals, so as not to bruise them.

Plip’s father sang the song for the rain-that-fell-in-the-woody-marshlands of the south. Mother’s gentle rain would not last long in the marshlands, Father used to say with a teasing laugh. Plip did not exactly know what a marshland was, but Father said there were great creatures with fierce teeth who swam through those waters, and fierce men who hunted them. “My rain must be strong if it is to give courage to the creatures of the Woody Marshlands.”

Plip did not feel fierce enough to sing for the Marshlands, or gentle enough to sing for the flowers. What if she was not fit for a song? What if the rain she sang came out all wrong?

Be patient,” her mother said. “Your song will come when it comes.”

It was difficult to be patient when one grew up in a waterfall. The water certainly seemed to be in a hurry to reach the earth. Perhaps that’s why the naiads were rarely still themselves. When they weren’t singing, they were playing in the frothy fingers of the falls or chatting with the people of the village.

The Weather Masters were peculiar people, so very solemn and still, and incredibly old. They had wrinkles on their hands and around their eyes. They needed a great deal of sleep every day and only the young ones really wanted to play. But the old ones would talk and tell wonderful stories, and Mother and Father said that they held great wisdom.

This month, Plip’s favorite was a man called Tsomo. He had lost his sight several months ago but still wove the most beautiful clouds in the village through the memory of his fingers.

Where does your rain fall today, Tsomo?” Plip would ask as she perched on his porch.

On the just and the unjust, child,” he would reply.

But that was your answer yesterday!”

It is also true today.”

You have such strange answers,” she would laugh.

They only seem strange because you do not understand the questions,” he said with a smile.

I am almost of age,” she protested. “But you make me feel as if I know very little of the world.”

He chuckled. “You have never left the waterfall, little one.”

Father says that we are not meant to go out in the world. When the water returns to us from the corners of the earth, it tells us where it has been. But the water does not speak to me yet. Mother says that when I hear it, I will find my voice. Only it seems to me that day will never come.”

~~~

About the Author


E.B. Dawson was born out of time. Raised in the remote regions of a developing nation, traveling to America was as good as traveling thirty years into the future. Now she writes science fiction and fantasy to make sense of her unusual perspectives on life. Her stories acknowledge darkness, but empower and encourage people to keep on fighting, no matter how difficult their circumstances may be. She currently lives in Idaho with her family and her cat Maximus.

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#BookBlitz “Semper Indomitus” by Robert W. Brady, Jr.

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Semper Indomitus

The Fovean Chronicles, Book 5

Epic Fantasy

The surprising conclusion to the Fovean Chronicles – Randy Morden has taken on the world, and now the world is fighting back! Enemies must now become allies, and friends enemies, as Randy fights not just to appease the god War, but to keep his family intact and, no matter what direction he turns, it looks like he must lose it all.

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Other Books in The Fovean Chronicles:

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Indomitus Est

The Fovean Chronicles, Book One

I’m Randy Morden – welcome to my world. A world named ‘Fovea,’ where magic is real, technology the stuff of fantasy, and warriors with swords ride horses into battle, trying to stay one step ahead of their gods’ will. I didn’t ask for this life, but I promise you: before anyone ever knocks me down again, I’m going to have their blood on my knuckles, because a man can only be pushed so far!

~

Indomitus Vivat

The Fovean Chronicles, Book Two

I was brought to Fovea, a land where magic is real and justice is found at the point of a sword, with a mission from the god, War: Live a successful life.

~

Indomitus Oriens

The Fovean Chronicles, Book Three

To say that Randy Morden had an effect on Fovea is an understatement. More than ten years after his arrival, the Fovean High Council is in a shambles, the supremacy of the Uman-Chi is a memory, and Eldador is an Empire, not a kingdom.

~

Indomitus Sum

The Fovean Chronicles, Book Four

The battle for Fovea is on, and a girl named Raven and a man named Jack aren’t even sure of which side they should be on.

Amazon

~~~

EXCERPT

I tugged on Blizzard’s reins and we turned east toward the trail that would lead to the road. It was approaching noon, and we wouldn’t be moving at Blizzard’s speed any more. We’d be lucky to make camp before dark.

I expected my son, Eric to ride up next to me, but he hung back with Nina of the Aschire. It turned out that my daughter, Dagi, was the one who rode up next to me, that shield of hers over her back and her sword in a scabbard attached to her saddle. She looked for all the world like an Andaron warrior in Volkhydran clothes.

We stayed silent for a while. I think she might have been waiting either for Shela, my wife, to replace her or for me to send her back, but neither happened and Shela was actually pretty deep in discussion with our daughter, Lee.

My mother married a Long Manes warrior,” Dagi said, finally. “She has two sons.”

I nodded. “Have you thought of adult names for them?”

She looked at me. “So you know our traditions?”

Hard not to,” I said.

She nodded and was quiet for a while. We were coming up on the main road.

Did she stay with Chesswaya’s mother after her tribe dissolved?” I asked. Chesswaya was my daughter as well, by another Andaron woman.

After you destroyed it, and formed your Wolf Riders, you mean?” Dagi accused me.

Yes,” I said, looking straight at her.

She met my eyes. Hers were every bit as cold as I knew mine could be. She was going to feel me out and decide if I was worth staying with. That’s what I would have done as a kid, too.

No,” Dagi said. “Chesswaya’s mother went to the Sure Foot, then the Hunters when they had no women. I met Chesswaya at the Long Manes’ tribe last year, when she came to learn her craft. We didn’t know that we were sisters until the demigod Steel told us.

Whoa – didn’t see that one coming.

Steel?” I asked. “The Savior. Steel came to you?”

Dagi nodded.

In a dream?”

She shook her head. “While we were playing chunkee with Nanette and Thorna,” she said.

I looked back at Nantar’s daughters, riding side-by-side with spears in their hands, just ahead of Eric. If there were a fight, they were positioned to come charging into it.

We turned onto the road. The sun overhead gave me a little warmth, but not much. I was going to need to go somewhere and buy furs.

What did Steel have to say to you?” I asked. “Can you tell me?”

Dagi was silent for a moment. She looked up at me from her horse and she said, “He came to see the daughters of the Daff Kanaar. I thought that He meant Nanette and Thorna, and He said, “No, the other daughters. He meant Chesswaya and me.”

I nodded and stayed quiet.

He told us that it was a new age, and that we needed to go north and to learn a song from a Druid in Volkhydro. He warned us that nothing would be the same.”

That was news.

We waited for the men to come back from Toor, and most of them did. We went north on strong horses and we found our brother, Agtani Chewla, and then our other brother and his wife.

We saw the war come to our land, and we heard Eric, whom we named Usdi Waya, tell us that if Chatoos fell, then our land would never be the same.”

Usdi Waya meant ‘Little Wolf’ in Andaron. Eric had a lot of foresight.

Then we met you, our father,” she said. She was looking straight forward now. “We would have known you, if Steel had never met us.”

Really?”

She nodded, still not looking at me. “Chesswaya has your eyes,” she said. “I have your lips and your nose. Mother had described you without naming you – and Chesswaya felt your presence before she met you.”

Chesswaya has great power,” I commented.

That got a look from Dagi. “As does Lee,” she said. “Vulpe can sing, and singing is important. Lupennen speaks with animals – I can’t imagine a more powerful gift.”

And Eric is Daff Kanaar,” I said, “and you wonder, ‘What of poor Waya Daganogeda? What does she inherit from the Emperor?”

She looked up at me again, and this time I thought I could see some hurt in her eyes.

Yes,” she said. “What of Dagi, who has nothing but her mouth?”

An Andaron who ‘has nothing but her mouth,” is usually a woman who’s a gossip, or a complainer. It’s a derogatory term for a spinster, or one who is going to be a spinster if she doesn’t change her ways, because no one wants a woman who’s always giving her opinion.

Maybe you’re more my child than any of them?” I told her.

She regarded me but said nothing.

I can’t speak to animals,” I said. “I can’t cast spells. I can’t stun a crowd with my song, and I had to go to Conflu to get the mark of the Daff Kanaar – no one clashed swords with me and put it there.

I’ve never had anything but my mouth,” I said. “It served me well.”

You forget the horse you ride,” she said. “The sword you carry. You forget the stories about you, sung in every language.”

I nodded. “But I got them without magic,” I said. “Without song.”

She wasn’t looking at me, so I reached down and I stroked her long, brown hair. She looked back up at me and I asked, “Do you want to learn these things?”

She frowned and looked forward.

Finally, when I thought I wasn’t going to get an answer, she said, “Yes. I want to know everything.”

Good enough, then!

~~~

About the Author

Robert W. Brady, Jr. is the author of ‘The Fovean Chronicles.’

Born in Connecticut in 1964, he graduated from University of Connecticut in 1986.

He worked his way through college as a construction worker, an infant swimming instructor, a bartender, a waiter, a secretary, the manager of a dry cleaning store and a security guard.

While in college, he began the first version of the ‘The Fovean Chronicles.’

After college, he lasted exactly three months in the insurance industry as an Assistant Annuities Analyst, and then enlisted in the Naval Nuclear Power Program.

He served in the Navy from 1987 – 1994, receiving the Navy Achievement Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Southeast Asia Service Medal, and Good Conduct Medal during the Gulf War. He was certified as an Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist, a Reactor Operator, a Radiological Controls Shift Supervisor and achieved a rank of Petty Officer First Class while serving onboard the USS Truxtun, CGN-35 and the USS Cape Cod, AD-43.

He has two children, Billy and Jennifer. He and both of his children are born on the same day of different months. Billy enlisted in the US Navy, following in his father’s footsteps.

Since leaving the Navy, he’s been in sales, pest control, auto repair and .Net programming. He ran his own company specializing in add-on software and then sold it to focus more on his writing.

He’s very involved in animal rescue, and has two dogs, a cat and several horses which he’s rescued and rehabilitated.

Although born in Connecticut, he has lived in Orlando, FL; Bremerton, WA; San Diego, CA; and then for fourteen years back in Florida. He currently resides on a horse farm in Tennessee.

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#TeaserTuesday “Someone Like Me” by Marian L. Thomas

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Women’s Fiction | Sweet Romance

Date Published: June 1, 2021

Publisher: DartFrog Blue

Since her mother’s death, Mýa has been no stranger to loss. But with a budding new singing career on the horizon and help from Jack and Mary Tanner, a couple that understands from experience how a troubled past can prevent someone from having a better life, Mýa finally gets a fresh start.

Courageously touching on issues of race and the importance of self-love, Someone Like Me serves up a cast of relatable characters, each searching for that moment in life when you’re flying down Love Lane with your heart open wide.

Someone Like Me is a captivating novel of acceptance and forgiveness that will have you lingering over lessons learned long after the last page is turned.

Excerpt

Prologue

You started as an assignment for me, but became my way of life—a daily task that wouldn’t let me rest unless I’d shared my innermost thoughts, be it at two in the morning or eight in the evening. You have been my savior on dark and lonely nights.

You have been like a second mother, allowing me to tell you everything that happened during the long hours of the day, everything that ripped my heart open with joy and laughter, or pain and tears.

No judgment you gave, only a listening ear to my scribbling. My wild talk.

Frankly, I don’t know if I would have survived this year without you.

I can’t say that I love you; you are not a person, although I suppose one can love a thing, too.

So, I say to you, my dear journal, thank you.

You have been a good friend and my closet, as Jack once said.

Thank you for understanding. For understanding everything.

Even today, as I sit here with only minutes left to write in you, you understand why I’m wearing this dream of white and lace, and why the person I gave my heart to told me that he could love…someone like me

~~~

~~~

About the Author

Born in Illinois, Marian L. Thomas wouldn’t say that her first career choice was writing novels. She saw herself working as a journalist for a local newspaper. In college, she served as a sports editor for the student paper, and later as the news editor. But Marian’s writing path took a detour when she drafted her first completed manuscript. Now, she can’t imagine not crafting stories for women that bring characters to life-characters who face real obstacles, cross difficult barriers to find love, and discover all the wonderful possibilities that life can offer. Marian has been featured on television stations such as Fox, NBC and CBS, and in many print and online publications including USA Today. She currently resides in Atlanta with her husband, enjoys a big bowl of popcorn every night, and believes that pasta should be a vegetable. Readers can stay connected to Marian through her website and active social media accounts, so stop by and say hello or join her mailing list for new release updates.

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#Excerpt “Faye’s Fortune (Second Sight Romance, Book 1)” by Emily Tidning

 

Second Sight Romance, Book 1

Paranormal Romance, Romance

Published: April 2021

Publisher: Applied Divination

FREE on Kindle Unlimited


Despite being a skilled fortune teller, Faith is unable to predict what will become of her floundering occult shop, Faye’s Fortunes. Between apologizing to her disappointed business partner, struggling to pay the bills, and dealing with a surprise eviction from her apartment, she’s barely able to put one foot in front of the other, let alone predict a customer’s future. If she had any customers, that is!

When she awkwardly stumbles over a sidewalk crack, the help of a friendly construction worker seems much more embarrassing than fated. Then his girlfriend showing up confirms for Faith that it was just another clumsy fall, not a sign.

But when worlds start to collide and Faye’s Fortunes reveals a dark secret about Jasper’s relationship, will their fates prove to be destined, or doomed?

Excerpt

“Speaking of pavement,” Faye sang, as if their conversation had never strayed from the broken sidewalk, “let me see what kind of damage was done out there.”

“Dressed like that?” Charlotte eyed her conspicuously.

For a darkened fortune telling sanctuary, Faye was perfectly, majestically adorned. But for a bright Saturday morning on the streets of Fallstaff, Missouri, she was extremely out of place.

She faked a commanding bellow, “I am the all-knowing oracle of a divination shop, and I declare that walking outside to survey my lands shall invoke the great spirit to send customers my way.” Her robes danced as though an invisible breeze had struck only her.

Truthfully, a small twist of her wrists shifted the fine robe material just enough to make it look like a mysterious wind had caught it.

Charlotte had seen this trick done many times before. She shook her head and retorted, “alright then, magic lady. You go outside and use your psychic powers to create some customers. I’m going to prep my massage table. Maybe if I sprinkle it with extra love I can invoke the spirits to send me some customers, too.”

“Watch it with the love sprinkling,” Faye teased, “we run a clean business here.”

Faye danced herself over to the shop door and whisked it open with another fake flourish designed to entertain Charlotte.

She almost danced right into Kelsey, who stood prepped with her hand ready to grab the door handle.

Kelsey’s jaw drop could have hit the already busted pavement. She gushed, “how’d you know I was here?”

Although startled, Faye composed herself quickly and lowered her voice, “I know everything.” She stepped backward into the shop and waved her robed arm, “Please, do come in again my child.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Faye caught Charlotte shaking her head as she ducked into her massage studio. Faye didn’t need to be a psychic to know there was an eyeroll, too.

About the Author


Emmy Tidning lives in a magical fantasy world called the Pacific Northwest, where anything is possible but no one is real. She has two cats, a dog, a husband, some kids, and a widowed crow she befriended using peanuts. Emmy reads Tarot cards, writes paranormal romantic fun, and loves love!

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#BookTour “Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge” by Elizabeth Corrigan

Techno

Welcome to the tour for this exciting new YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge by Elizabeth Corrigan! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $25 US Amazon E-Gift Card!

Technopaladin_500x800-Cover-Reveal-and-Promotional

Technopaladin: Clarity’s Edge

Publication Date: May 17th, 2021

Genre: YA Sci-Fi/ Fantasy

Clarity’s paladin order forbids her from entering the Azure District, the one location in her high tech city that refuses paladin rule and technology. When she receives an illicit invitation to violate the prohibition, spurred on by rumors of suffering in the district, she passes through the crumbling brick entryway into no-man’s land. Within, she finds the residents lack not only the ocular implants and three dimensional computers she takes for granted, but also medicine to fight a disease infecting the children.

Clarity knows her order isn’t perfect—after all, they stole her from her parents when she was a small child to raise her with their values—but she cannot believe they know what’s going on in the Azure District. When she confronts the head of the order, he refuses to aid people who have rejected his help in the past, even the children. Unwilling to take no for an answer, Clarity enlists the help of the leader’s son Cass and takes matters into her own hands.

Desperate both to cure the children and keep her place in the order that is her only home, Clarity engages in increasingly questionable behavior—deleting official records, lying to her friends, and manipulating people who can help her. As the nefarious nature of her actions tarnishes the purity of her cause, she must determine what it truly means to be a paladin, in both name and action.

Excerpt

“Come on, Clarity!” Hope grabbed Clarity’s hand and dragged her down Londigium’s main thoroughfare. The bright glare of the morning sun glinted off the silver skyscrapers and made some of the light-up signs in the storefronts difficult to read. Nonetheless, Clarity could make out the image of a dress on the digital placard of Hope’s destination.

Clarity dodged to avoid running into some people going in the opposite direction from her. She tried to wrench her hand free of Hope’s grasp to give herself better maneuverability, figuring she could follow her friend’s gleaming, red-gold hair through the crowd, but Hope held tight. “Remind me again why we’re doing this? I don’t care about going to the gala, and I don’t see why I can’t just wear my official paladin armor.”

“I swear, for someone so invested in her career, you can be dense about the things you need to do to advance it.” Clarity’s other friend Zeal tossed her black braids over her shoulder as she gave Clarity a scathing glance. “You have two weeks left until the gala, and Hope has convinced Steady Threads to make an exception to their usual deadlines and take an order for your dress. Try to be a little grateful.”

“I’m a warrior.” Clarity cringed at the petulant tone in her voice but continued her line of argument anyway. “My job at the moment is just conducting training for the non-warrior paladins, but if and when I get promoted, I’m going to be a Citadel guard or a peacekeeper in the city. None of this has anything to do with looking pretty at a gala.”

“Do I have to remind you why you put that ‘if’ in there?” Zeal asked. “You beat out the Grand Conductor’s son during graduation trials for a position at the Citadel.” Zeal was right. Steadfastness Hughes ran the Order of the Amethyst Star, and he hated Clarity. “You need to go to the gala and do some networking among the other warriors to make yourself popular in other circles. Or at least look appropriate so as not give him an excuse to send you off to the boondocks and install his son in your place.”

“I know, I know. You’re right.” Clarity stumbled as Hope came to a sudden stop in front of the tailor’s shop. “I just feel more comfortable in my armor. The paladins already spent a lot of money getting us high-tech, retractable armor. I don’t see why they’re bothering to pay for dresses and tuxedos as well.”

“Because it would be ridiculous to try dancing at a ball with your armor clanking everywhere, and the purple microfiber bodysuits underneath are not nearly as flattering as you all think they are,” Hope said, her voice containing an uncharacteristic tartness. “Besides, don’t you want to look amazing enough that Valor regrets breaking up with you just because you beat him in that silly contest?”

“Don’t say that so loud.” Clarity glanced up and down the street, but no one she knew was nearby. “You guys are the only ones who know we broke up. Besides, I don’t think—”

Before Clarity could finish her sentence, a man ran into her, practically shoving her into the store’s forcefield window. She and her friends turned in sync to watch a man in a fine suit run past them, knocking the crowd aside to get through. Behind him came a pair of men in armor as shiny as Clarity’s own, sufficiently far behind that the recovering throng on the street would be an impediment. By the time the paladin peacekeeper she recognized as Diligence noticed her and called, “Stop that man!” Clarity was already racing after him as best she could.

The pursuant looked behind him and noticed a much closer paladin. With a curse, he tried to pick up speed, and when that failed, he turned a corner into what looked like a small alley. He must not know the city very well, Clarity thought. There’s an open air market on the other side of that building. He’s going to be easy to spot there.

Indeed, as she chased him between the skyscrapers, she could easily see his head bobbing amid the stalls. Realizing his mistake, he pushed over a table full of crates of apples, sending the green fruit rolling across the ground. Clarity didn’t miss a beat, leaping into the air above the overturned boxes and landing on her quarry in a tackle.

The crowd had erupted into shocked gasps at the chase, but as Clarity pulled the man to his feet and twisted his arms behind his back, the crowd burst into applause. She heard the word “Azurite” murmured a few times, so she glanced down at his chest and saw that he in fact wore the telltale diamond-shaped, blue patch that marked him as a resident of the city’s Azure District. Everyone knew the Azurites hated paladins and the order they represented so much that they refused paladin technology rather than follow paladin laws. Clarity had heard rumors that people in the walled-off part of the city lived in abject poverty, but the man standing in front of her looked well-fed and clothed.

Diligence and his partner jogged up behind Clarity. “Thanks for the assist,” Diligence said as he handcuffed the criminal. “We caught him trying to buy a slew of weapons on the black market. The dealer was smart enough to try to make a deal, but this idiot ran.”

Wow. Clarity had known she was chasing down a criminal, but she’d had no idea he was such a dangerous one.

“If you want paladin tech, all you have to do is submit to the laws of the city,” Diligence said to his prisoner. Then he turned to the farmer whose apple crates remained upside down on the ground. “If you file a report with the Citadel, the order will reimburse you for your damaged merchandise. We apologize for interfering with your business.”

Available

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About the Author

Author Pic

Elizabeth Corrigan has degrees in English and psychology and has spent several years working as a data analyst in various branches of the healthcare industry. When she’s not hard at work on her next novel, Elizabeth enjoys playing tabletop role-playing games and cooperative card games. She refuses to watch most internet videos and is pathologically afraid of bees. She lives in Maryland with two cats and a very active iphone.

Elizabeth Corrigan | Twitter | Facebook

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May 17th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandsreels.com

Just Views @brendajeancombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

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May 18th

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Dark Whimsical Art (Spotlight) https://www.darkwhimsicalart.com/blogs/news

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

May 19th

Lunarian Press (Spotlight) https://www.lunarianpress.com/

I Smell Sheep (Spotlight) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

May 20th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

Cocktails & Fairy Tales (Spotlight) https://www.facebook.com/CocktailsFairytales

Pop the Butterfly Blog (Review) https://popthebutterfly.wordpress.com/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

May 21st

J Bronder Reviews (Spotlight) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

Rambling Mads (Spotlight)  http://ramblingmads.com

Sophril Reads (Spotlight) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

@the.b00kreader (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.b00kreader/

Meli’s Book Reviews (Review) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

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#ReleaseBlitz “She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)” by S.R. Cronin

She'stheone

Happy publication day to S.R. Cronin! Check out this brand new Historical Fantasy, She’s the One Who Gets in Fights and enter for a chance to win a $30 Amazon gift card!

2020-0047 S.R. Cronin b03

She’s the One Who Gets in Fights (The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters Books)

Publication Date: May 14th, 2021 🎉

Genre: Historical Fantasy

It’s the 1200’s, and the small realm of Ilari has had peace and prosperity for generations. That doesn’t mean every citizen is happy, however.
Sulphur, the third of seven sisters, is glad the older two have been slow to wed. It’s given her the freedom to train as a fighter, in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of joining Ilari’s army. Then, within a matter of days, both sisters announce plans and now Sulphur is expected to find a man to marry.
Is it Sulphur’s good fortune her homeland is gripped by fear of a pending Mongol invasion? And the army is going door to door encouraging recruits? Sulphur thinks it is. But once she’s forced to kill in a small skirmish, she’s ready to rethink her career decision.
Too bad it’s too late. The invasion is coming, and Ilari needs every good soldier it has.
Once Sulphur learns Ilari’s army has made the strategic decision to not defend certain parts of the realm, including the one where her family lives, she has to re-evaluate her loyalty. Is it with the military she’s always admired? Or is it with her sisters, who are hatching a plan to defend their homeland with magic?
Everywhere she turns, someone is counting on her to fight for what’s right. But what is?

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

In early spring, after the last of the snow melted and the mud dried, I told my parents I wished to visit friends I’d made while studying. Then I rode to Pilk to learn more about joining the Svadlu. I knew they had a booth at the largest market there, often staffed by Svadlu officers who’d answer questions. I had a lot of them.

They accepted women, but what were the standards? Were they the same as for the men? Being a Svadlu provided status and a fair amount of pay, so they never wanted for recruits. How many people who tried to join were accepted?

The next day I found the booth. Officers wore cloaks of saffron yellow, but this man boasted a scarlet cape covered in regalia, identifying him as a Mozdol. My nervousness surprised me as I approached him.

“Hello, lass,” he greeted me with warmth. “Let me guess. You’ve got a younger brother who wants to join us but he’s too nervous to come talk to me himself. Am I right?” He seemed pleased. With what? That he induced nervousness in potential recruits?

“Uh, no. Sir. I was hoping to get some information on me joining.”

“You?”

He looked at me more closely. Of course I wore a dress, not my fighting clothes, so I didn’t much look the part, but he squinted at me anyway.

“You’re tall. Well-muscled for a woman and you look to be in good shape. Have you ever held a sword?”

“I’ve been sparring since I was a child.”

That impressed him.

“And I’ll do whatever you need to me to. Answer questions about weapons, engage in fights, perform tests of strength, whatever you need.” I spoke too fast in my eagerness.

“Slow down,” he chuckled. “All that’s good, but actually, none of it matters compared to what I’m going to tell you next.”

He hesitated as if he wasn’t sure how to explain this vital fact to someone as ignorant as me.

“You’re a farmgirl, right?” He looked at my clothes again.

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, the Svadlu are more of a city operation. We do things differently than on the farm.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean being a member of the Svadlu is a pretty good deal. Lots of young people want in.”

“I know. That’s why I’ve worked so hard.”

“And that’s good, but most successful recruits get in because they have a sponsor. You know, someone already in the Svadlu who vouches for them. Um, especially if you’re, well, you know, a woman. Then it helps a great deal if one of us says you’re up to it.”

“But I can prove I’m up to it!”

“I suspect you can.” The look he gave me held respect, but he stayed firm. “A sponsor makes the difference. Why don’t you ask around? Surely your family knows someone who can help you.”

He looked up. Several people stood behind me now, all hoping to talk to him. “If you’ll excuse me …”

I rode back to Vinx dejected. I already knew my family had no contacts in the Svadlu and I had no idea of who I could turn to find some. Why did I have to know someone in order to get in? What stupid kind of way was that to run an army?

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Will be available through Kobo, Apple, and Barnes & Nobel later this month!

About the Author

authorpicture

Sherrie Cronin is the author of a collection of six speculative fiction novels known as 46. Ascending and is now in the process of publishing a historical fantasy series called The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters. A quick look at the synopses of her books makes it obvious she is fascinated by people achieving the astonishing by developing abilities they barely knew they had.

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Now she answers a hot-line. Along the way, she’s lost several cats but acquired a husband who still loves her and three kids who’ve grown up just fine, both despite how eccentric she is.

All her life she has wanted to either tell these kinds of stories or be Chief Science Officer on the Starship Enterprise. She now lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she admits to occasionally checking her phone for a message from Captain Picard, just in case.

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