#BookTour “Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings” by Leah Cupps

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Welcome to my stop on the Harley James book tour! Check out this cool adventure called Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings by Leah Cupps and enter for a chance to win a $100 Amazon e-Gift Card!!!

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Harley James and the Mystery of the Mayan Kings (Harley James Adventures #1)

Publication Date: May 12, 2022

Genre: MG/ Adventure/ Chapter Books (Ages 8 to 12)

Will Harley Find the Missing Mayan Statue & Save the World?

Amateur cryptologist Harley James has just landed in the sticky jungle of Tikal, Guatemala—home to the famous Mayan ruins. She’s made a few friends, a few mistakes…and a ground-breaking discovery.

The legendary statue of the long-lost Mayan King.

Just as she is about to impress her father with her discovery, the statue is stolen. Right from her own room!

And what’s worse? The legend says if the statues of the three kings are reunited, they’ll bring back an army from the dead to rule the world.

Follow along with Harley as she tracks down the missing Mayan statue, solves a few riddles and stumbles upon a secret society that will change her life forever!

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About the Author

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Leah Cupps is an author, designer and entrepreneur. She came up with the idea for Harley James with her oldest daughter Savannah. Savannah had taken an interest in Mayan history and so the two of them worked together to come up with the idea for the first Harley James book; the Mystery of the Mayan Kings.

Leah lives in Indiana with her husband and three children. She is also the co-founder of Vision Forty Press, a small family owned publishing company.

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Book Tour Schedule

June 20th

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June 21st

@thechronicfangirl (Review) https://www.instagram.com/thechronicfangirl/

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Review) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

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

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June 22nd

Balancing Books and Beauties (Review) https://balancingbooksandbeauties.wordpress.com/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

June 23rd

@jacleomik33 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/jacleomik33/

@stepintothepages (Review) www.instagram.com/stepintothepages

Eye-Rolling Demigod’s Book Blog (Spotlight) https://eyerollingdemigod.blogspot.com/

Latisha’s Low-Key Life (Spotlight) https://latishaslowkeylife.com/

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

June 24th

@hodophile_z (Review) https://www.instagram.com/hodophile_z/

@dany.alvy (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dany.alvy/

@louturnspages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/louturnspages/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd

Misty’s Book Space (Spotlight) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

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#AudioTour “Cassius and Ellendarra” by D. C. Armstrong

Author: D. C. Armstrong

Narrator: Nathaniel Priestley

Length: 7 hours and 44 minutes

Publisher: D. C. Armstrong

Released: Apr. 19, 2022

Genre: Fantasy



Cassius alone stands between the realm of Evlontus and complete destruction in this riveting tale of swords, magic, and deception that rewrites the classic theme of good versus evil.

Imprisoned within Cassius’ soul lives a terrifying dark force threatening to destroy all existence. As his control over it weakens, it is up to his brother, King Magnus, along with his deceitful machinations, to repress and vanquish the evil entity and restore balance to the realm. Total annihilation looms over Evlontus, and the brothers’ efforts begin to unravel due to the interference of two soldiers, Japheth and Ellendarra.

When the truth is finally revealed, destiny takes them down an unexpected path toward the ultimate battle between good and evil.

D. C. Armstrong is the author of Cassius and Ellendarra, and the upcoming sequel The Last King of Evlontus. A fan of character-driven stories, her work is light in the details and fast-paced but epic in scale nonetheless.

Voice Actor and Audiobook Narrator

Narrator for Penguin Random House, W.F Howes, Strathmore Publishing, Audible Studios, StoryTec, HarperCollins, RNIB and many independent authors.
As heard on Qatar Airways, Lenor Europe, Rockwool, Radio Manx, Channel 103 and many more.

Q&A with Author D. C. Armstrong
  • Tell us about the process of turning your book into an audiobook.
    • The audiobook process turned out to be the most fun I’ve had in my publishing journey! I used ACX to produce the audiobook and everything went very smoothly. I was able to select a narrator from the auditions very quickly and he was very responsive to my character notes and suggestions. After only a few revisions we were able to lock in the final product.
  • Do you believe certain types of writing translate better into audiobook format?
    • Absolutely. The early feedback I received often included something along the lines of – you should be a screenplay writer. I agree with this, but in the case of this specific story I felt compelled to push forward with writing a novel. The difficulty is that this story, and the way that it is written, doesn’t fit neatly in the Fantasy genre. It includes magic, sword fighting, good versus evil but it is intentionally limited to a small core cast and focused on dialogue and character development. The book does read more like a play and has less in the way of an immersive descriptive fantasy world as it was intended to appeal to those looking for a lighter read.
  • Was a possible audiobook recording something you were conscious of while writing?
    • No. It should have been. Funnily enough it didn’t even occur to me until nearly a year after publishing that audiobooks would give me the freedom to write in the way that feels most natural to me.
  • How did you select your narrator?
    • When I initially set up the book for auditions, I had selected an American accent for the narrator but the first message I got was from Nathaniel inquiring about whether I would consider a British accent. I told him I would certainly consider it and he promptly sent in an audition file soon after. I never even listened to the other auditions because I was so blown away by his characterizations and voicework. Felt like it was meant to be!
  • How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
    • Nathaniel was great to work with. I felt very comfortable relaying any notes about the tone a character would speak with and letting him in on a deeper level about different plot points so that the dialogue could resonate the way I intended. He was very responsive and efficient with any corrections and enthusiastic to see the project come to life.
  • Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
    • The entirety of the novel is far more personal than I had originally intended. The plot changed from draft to draft as I began to incorporate more of myself into the characters. My own sense of humor changed the tone of the book completely despite it originally being written out with a much darker plot.
  • Is there a particular part of this story that you feel is more resonating in the audiobook performance than in the book format?
    • My favorite parts of the story are when all of the core cast of characters come together. I am a big fan of the show Arrested Development and love when the family comes together and I feel like that tone influenced a lot of those scenes and resonates better when you can hear the voices of the characters.

 

 

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#BookTour “The Order of the Fallen” by Jacqueline Marinaro

~~~

Fantasy/Romance

 

Date Published: Jan. 24, 2022

Publisher: Jan-Carol Publishing, Inc.

Achaiah knew the dangers of falling to earth for the love of his human, Nev. When Nev falls for her guardian angel, Achaiah, she is unaware of the danger that their love puts her in. That’s why fallen angels have one rule: Never fall in love with a human.

~~~

EXCERPT

Nev

I woke up Friday morning at my usual time. School was over now. I had nothing to do. I figured I’d spend the morning looking for part-time jobs. I didn’t want to be a bum until I decided what to do with my life.

After showering and heading downstairs with my laptop in tow, I plopped on the soft couch and opened my Dell. I visited a few job sites and applied at several places. I felt satisfied I’d done enough after about an hour. I closed my laptop and turned on the TV. Flipping erratically through the stations, I didn’t see anything that caught my attention. I wasn’t much of a TV watcher anyway. I would watch the occasional show but for the most part I didn’t like TV.

I thought about the books sitting alone on my bookcases upstairs. Mentally, I perused the titles I had and thought I could use a few more. I visited the bookstore to buy books today instead of bringing a book with me to read. I hadn’t planned on spending as much time there as I normally did since I was only browsing.

Nervously, I walked through the doors where the air conditioning swirled around me instantly causing goose bumps to erupt. After yesterday, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Achaiah if I saw him. Would he talk to me? Would he be the Achaiah I first met, or the one who came out of nowhere yesterday with those boys? I decided I wasn’t going to let my nerves get the best of me. If I saw him, fine. If not, fine too.

After about an hour of perusing, I found several books I wanted to buy. I wasn’t bothered by anyone here and wound up finding more books than I thought I would. I didn’t see either Ally or Achaiah. I carried my books to the register and was planning on paying and then going home to start in on one of my new books. On my way out with my loot, a deep voice called my name from somewhere behind me. It was Achaiah.

“Hi,” I said. I hadn’t seen him at the café so I wondered if he just got there.

“I’m just getting off work,” he said.

“I didn’t see you at the café,” I said, perplexed. Was he hiding?

“I was in back. We had a delivery today. James and Jen were manning the counter.”

“Oh.” That explained why I hadn’t seen him.

Before I knew it, he had taken my books for me in one fluid motion. I don’t know how he managed to do this effortlessly without me even noticing. We started walking to the parking lot.

“Want to go for a drive?” he asked, already guiding me toward his car, not mine.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Do you like playing pool?”

I did. I loved pool. I was horrible at it but I loved it. I accepted his invitation and he drove us to a little pool hall nearby. I was thrilled as we entered because it wasn’t smoky. I hated cigarette smoke, which is why I usually stayed away from playing pool. The times I did play pool, I would leave after a short while because the smoke affected me. Then I would go home, strip and shower. I didn’t have to worry about that here. It was a great establishment and completely smoke-free. It was dimly lit except for the lights dangling down above each pool table and it boasted loud music but not so loud it drowned out conversation. The hall wasn’t crowded—another bonus.

Achaiah racked up the table for us and offered me the first shot to break up the balls. I declined and let him go for it. I watched as his sleek muscular frame bent over the table. His strong hands gripped the pool stick seductively. He placed his left hand on the green of the table, a tower of strength. He slipped his fingers over the end of the stick and with his right hand, pulled the stick back. I couldn’t help but stare. He was wearing a black cotton tee today that covered his skin with very little slack. The cotton hugged every muscle. I was suddenly warm.

His right arm, grabbing the stick, followed through his left hand swiftly and struck the cue ball hard. The initial boom of the cue ball colliding with the others was loud and sharp—completely overpowering the music. It was the most impressive break I had ever seen. I was mesmerized. He was mesmerizing.

He sunk three solid balls in that break. It was still his turn. He kept sinking solids until there was only one left and he missed. It looked like he missed on purpose to me.

“Your turn,” he said, looking at me with a coy smile. It was hard to tear my eyes away from his.

“I have to follow that?” I said and chuckled—hopping off the stool I decided to sit on while he was single handedly sinking every ball.

Nervously, I chalked the end of my stick. This was a redundant action because there was already plenty of chalk on the end. I felt self-conscious as I leaned over the table and lined up my shot. He was watching me intently. I took my shot and missed horribly. Not only had I missed—I hit the cue so low it jumped off the table and flew right at Achaiah’s head. He easily moved aside to let the ball through then went to find it. I covered my face with my hands; I was so embarrassed. I had nearly decapitated him.

“I think you missed,” he joked when he came back. I looked up at him utterly mortified. The cue ball was held high in his hand.

He laughed. It wasn’t like he was laughing at me, but rather laughing at something really funny I had missed. I wondered what had made him chuckle so much. He gingerly placed the ball on the green felt next to us and walked toward me very slowly.

“You have a blue handprint on your face,” he said sweetly with a large grin. Before I could move, he grazed my face with the gentle brush of his fingers. His touch was soft and unexpected. He removed the blue from my skin as though he were cleaning a wound with great care.

I looked down at my hand when he was done. I had fiddled with the chalk so much while I watched him play; I hadn’t realized blue painted my whole hand. I laughed at myself. It was typical of me. I wasn’t surprised in the least but a bit embarrassed—a theme I noticed when I was around him. He watched me laughing at what I had done and I could tell he was enjoying this a little too much.

He allowed me to retake the shot again. “Obviously, it was the ball’s fault,” he said, attempting to make me feel better.

This time, I kept all the balls on the table but not one ball found a home in any of the pockets. I was really bad. It was worse with me playing with him; I hated the feeling of being watched and thought of that stupid song about being watched in the shower. Achaiah wasn’t creepy like that, but I was acutely aware of his eyes on me.

After two more games of him easily winning, I had enough of playing. I was so bad there was no point in me even trying. He could tell I was no longer in the mood to play but what he failed to realize was how much I enjoyed watching him play.

“How about we give the balls a rest for today?” He offered kindly. I was grateful for the offer but a little sad I couldn’t watch him play more. I agreed. We left and walked next door to get some ice cream. It was my idea and he was happy to oblige.

I ordered a chocolate with rainbow sprinkles in a cup and he ordered a plain vanilla in a cup. We took a seat at one of the tables outside. The weather was gorgeous today. The temperature was perfect. I loved days like this. It reminded me a little of autumn, my favorite season. It wasn’t cold and it wasn’t hot. It was perfect.

“It’s nice out,” I said as we took our seats. He nodded in agreement.

“Do you like working at the bookstore?” I asked. I wasn’t exactly sure what to ask. I still had so many questions but I decided it was best to move slowly, benignly. Our conversation at the store yesterday centered around nothing in particular and was a success, so I used that tactic again.

“It has benefits,” he said, staring at me. There seemed to be a double meaning in his words.

“What about you? Do you have a job?” He asked me.

“Not yet, but I’m looking for one. Out of school, now into the real world,” I chuckled.

“How long have you lived here?”

“My mom just moved here a few months ago. We move around a lot. I like it here though. It’s been my favorite move so far,” I said and took a spoonful of my ice cream.

I told him bits and pieces about my past and how hard it’s been on me moving around so much. I told him about my mom and how close we were despite her incessant need to relocate every year. He listened attentively and didn’t seem bored with what I considered my boring life.

“My favorite thing is reading,” I said, when the conversation transitioned to my spare time.

“I gathered that,” he said sarcastically. A warm breeze made a small patch of his hair sweep lightly to the side.

“I thought I’d mention it in case you weren’t one to see the obvious,” I replied coyly taking a spoonful of my melted ice cream and feeling the breeze now gently kiss my skin.

I enjoyed his company but it felt so one-sided because we were always talking about me. There was so much I didn’t know about him that I yearned to know.

“What about you?” I asked.

“What about me?” Achaiah asked innocently.

“Well, we always talk about me. What about you? I know very little.”

“What do you want to know?” he replied, his voice calm and even.

I shrugged. I wanted to know everything. I guess what was foremost on my mind was why he liked me. I didn’t feel comfortable broaching that subject yet.

“Do you have any siblings?” I asked. I thought maybe I could get started this way with something simple.

“Yes,” he said, without divulging more.

“How many?” I egged him on. You’d think we were at the dentist and I was pulling teeth. He wasn’t giving much up at all.

“Too many to count,” he said seriously.

So it seemed as though he came from a big family.

“I don’t have any siblings,” I said. “Is it tough sharing with all your siblings?”

“No.” He looked thoughtful as he spoke. “It’s not like

that with my family. We get along so well.”

“Do you like it here or do you miss it up north?” I asked hoping I could keep this conversation going a little. He wasn’t giving me much.

“It was nice up north, but the view here is better,” he said smiling at me.

I could feel myself blush. I liked him. There was no way around that. I just liked him. I wanted more.

“Do you have any family around here?” I asked.

“One brother lives nearby,” he said still staring with those green eyes that were impossibly real.

The temperature dropped several degrees and I started to get chilly. Coupled with the ice cream I felt goose bumps erupt all over my arms. I quickly hugged myself and started rubbing my arms trying to make some friction.

“I’m sorry I don’t have a sweater for you. Why don’t we get going back to the bookstore? I can put some heat on in the car for you,” he said and rose from the seat across from me seeming genuinely concerned that I was feeling cold.

“It’s almost summer, we shouldn’t need the heat on,” I retorted feeling awkward I was so cold in what most people would consider very pleasant weather.

He simply smiled at me and I gave in and followed him to the car. As he drove me back to my car I couldn’t help but think there was something about him that was different from every other guy I had ever met. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I liked it though. I liked that he was different.

When he dropped me off at my car neither one of us made specific plans for another day but he said, “I’ll see you later,” very casually. I nodded and got out of the car wishing I had turned his later into a specific date but reminded myself to be relaxed. He waited until I was safely in the car and I began driving before he drove off. As I drove home my thoughts were only of him. I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Graduation day was miserable. Instead of the beautiful sunny day they always show on TV, it rained all day. The school had to change venues and hold commencement in the auditorium instead of outside in the courtyard as they had planned. It was a good thing our school was not one of those schools with several hundred graduating seniors. The class of 2021 at Cheshire High had one hundred twenty-seven graduating seniors. We all fit snugly into the auditorium with no room to spare.

The auditorium was a new edition to the school, built for use by the drama department but many schools in the area used it for their plays because it was so big. It was perfect for our needs. The school had worked very hard at making it look as beautiful inside as it was outside. They pulled it off with the white and blue streamers swaying softly above us to the white rose on each student’s chair, a symbol of new beginnings.

I had to get to school early because I volunteered to make sure the caps and gowns were dispersed. My mom was planning on meeting me there and afterward she proposed taking me out to dinner. I was looking forward to getting the graduating part over with.

“You look nervous,” I said to Beth, as I walked to the back room of the auditorium where students were given their caps and gowns. Beth was standing there in her royal blue cap and gown—a beautiful shiny gold stole swimming around her neck, signifying she was the valedictorian. She was looking down at her notes and I noticed the paper shaking slightly.

“What?” Beth asked, as she looked up and saw it was me. “Oh, Nev, I didn’t see you there. I think I’m a little nervous.” She gave a nervous laugh and held up her speech.

Beth looked beautiful today. Without her normal elderly-looking clothing, her face was on full display. With the exception of her glasses, she was stunning. The gown made her eyes stand out even more and she wore her hair down today, splayed softly around her shoulders.

“I’m sure you’ll do great,” I began, “did you get some ideas from Mrs. Jones?”

“Nev, I can’t do this. What was I thinking? This is a mistake; I can’t go through with this.” Panic was creeping into her voice. She looked at me earnestly, looked to me for guidance as her eyes began to get bigger with fear.

I walked over to her and gave her a big hug. It was the first thing that crossed my mind. I believed in her and I needed her to know that. I took a step back and kept my right hand on her right shoulder, rubbing soothingly.

“You can do this, Beth. When I first came here, it was your notes that got me through my first exam. You are President of the Honor Society, you tutor after school, and you have perfect grades. If anyone can do this,” I said eagerly, “you can do it. I know whatever you have to say to us will be worth listening to.” I dropped my arm back to my side. I looked at her and waited.

“You really think so?” she asked and bit her lip.

“No one could do it better, I promise. I’ll be right there cheering you on from the audience. You can do this, Beth. You are the best in our class. Now the whole school will get to see why you’re our valedictorian.”

She blinked and pursed her lips in resignation. A big smile swept across her face. Her shoulders noticeably relaxed and she took in a deep breath and exhaled calmly.

“Thanks, Nev,” she said, “I needed that. It was sweet—what you said. I guess I just needed a moment where I’m not so perfect. I’m okay now, really.”

“I’ve been looking forward to your speech all week,” I told her and meant it. She still looked a bit pale but I knew she would be okay. She just needed to keep breathing.

After Beth was situated I looked through the caps and gowns to get mine. I was wearing a black shift dress and heels. I felt very grown up and almost disappointed I had to cover my outfit in a polyester gown. I grabbed my gown and zipped myself up. I looked in the mirror and placed the cap on my head and positioned it just right. I was as ready as I’d ever be.

Commencement began promptly at four p.m. During the procession, I looked into the crowd and saw without searching—my mother. She was sitting solemnly next to Mr. Barnum. I wondered if she knew he was my chemistry teacher. Every so often I would see him lean close to whisper something. I wondered what they were talking about. I didn’t think they knew each other.

Even from that distance, I could see how beautiful my mother was. She was wearing an emerald green dress. It was a beautiful dress and with her in it she put most people to shame. It was sleeveless, satiny and elegant. It was her day to be proud of me but as I stood there, I couldn’t help being proud of her. She was shining. I wondered if Mr. Barnum had seen the same in her. That would explain why he chose to sit with her.

Shortly before I took my seat, I saw Achaiah in the crowd sitting next to Ally. He looked statuesque even from this distance. I didn’t know he would be here. Was he here for me? I smiled. I repeatedly told myself he must have been a guest of someone else. Surely he wasn’t here for me. I’d only known him about a week and it would have been ridiculous to think he showed up for me.

I forced my eyes to look away from Achaiah and move forward but I was stuck. I was free to stare at him from this distance because no one would know who, or what, caught my attention. To the crowd, it would just look like I was gazing at no one in particular. It was somewhat freeing. As the line moved I did as well never allowing my stare to falter. I took my seat and felt butterflies in my stomach. He was here. Then it dawned on me, I had yet to get up on stage and accept my diploma. Light airy butterflies turned to stone ones in my stomach. They were hard and heavy and caused a pain that was a cross between nerves and terror.

What if I fall? I was prone to accidents, especially when under pressure. I now felt the anxiety Beth had when she had her freak out moment. I didn’t think mine would dissipate as fast as hers, though. If I fell, Achaiah would see. He’d know how pitiful I was. He would never want to see me again. These thoughts crowded my head and I closed my eyes and remembered to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Just like Beth. But unlike Beth I had to force this. I laughed to myself because people always told pregnant women to breathe like this and it was doing absolutely nothing for me. I couldn’t imagine it doing anything more for a pregnant woman either, other than irritating an obviously already irritated woman.

Once we were all seated the principal began the ceremony. By the time we got to the valedictorian’s speech I had turned around several times to see that Achaiah was staring at me the whole time. I felt like they turned the heat way up in here but I also felt a little happy on the inside.

Beth’s speech was moving. I watched her intently and remembered I had to be her rock. At first she looked mainly at me but shortly into the speech she gained her confidence and began looking around the room. Somewhere in the middle of her speech, I came into a rhythm of breathing on my own. I was trying to focus on her words and not my own fears. By the end, the student body rose in synchronism to give her a standing ovation. I cheered and clapped loudly along with the rest of the student body. Beth smiled brightly. She had done it. I knew she could.

Beth was led off the stage to join the rest of us. When the applause died down and we all sat down, the principal gave a short speech before beginning to read the names on the list of graduates.

Before I knew it, Mrs. Reynolds, one of the English teachers, signaled our line to get up and move toward the stage. I rose slowly but forced myself not to look in Achaiah’s direction. I just couldn’t look at him. If I did, I knew I would trip over my own two feet and make a complete fool of myself. I was listening intently to the principal enunciate the names of the students in front of me. Slowly, the line moved forward until there were only four in front of me. Vincent. Walters. Williams. Wilson.

I was now at the bottom of the stairs watching Jesse Wilson, the running back on our football team, accept his diploma. He walked gracefully across the stage, shook the hand of Vice Principal Adams and with his right hand still interlocked, took his diploma with his left hand. He shook the hand of Principal Powell, moved his tassel from the left side to the right side and walked off the stage hooting, while the rest of the football team hooted back.

Principal Powell allowed the extra cheering and continued down the list. “Wynters, Nevaeh,” she boomed into the microphone at the podium and looked at me with a gleaming face as she had the students before me.

This was it. Without thinking, I trudged up the steps to the stage. I kept my head held high and tried not to look down as I strode across the stage toward the Principal and Vice Principal. Aware at that moment everyone was staring at me, including Achaiah, I felt a nervous laugh coming on. To hide this, I looked the Vice Principal in the eye and smiled a broad smile, as though it were genuine and not a mask. This reduced my giggle reflex and helped me focus. I repeated the proper steps and clasped my diploma.

When I turned to face the audience after receiving my diploma and moving my tassel, I looked out into the crowd for one face to connect with, his face. I saw my mom out of my periphery, beaming at me, but it was Achaiah’s face that held my attention. I felt heat rising in me and I knew I must have blushed. I was no longer afraid of falling. The look he gave me was one of pure joy. He barely knew me, yet here was this man coming to see me graduate and looking at me as if he had known me my whole life. For a moment, I felt like I knew him too, like he had always been there but I knew that was impossible. I glided off the stage and walked back to my seat. As I passed Beth’s aisle, I saw she was looking at me and smiling. I gave her two thumbs up and mouthed, “Nice speech.” She nodded in return.

I took my seat and suddenly relief covered me. All the anxiety that built up about falling on stage washed away. I felt stupid for ever being so nervous. I sat comfortably until the end when we all stood up and took our caps off to toss them blissfully toward the ceiling of the auditorium.

This was it. The totality of it hit me, as our caps flew in every direction above us. I was done. I had attended too many schools to count, but it was Cheshire High I would forever remember as my Alma Mater. My ten-year high school reunion would be with the people standing next to me, in front of me, and behind me. The other schools no longer mattered. The other schools would be nothing more than a memory, one that would fade easily into the background, while my life moved forward. Cheshire High would be my high school memory.

When the co-mingling of students and guests began, I  headed toward my mom. She was standing next to Mr. Barnum, who was hugging one of his students and offering congratulations. I saw my mom and smiled at her. She waved as I got closer.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said, as I put my arms around her. I was just happy it was over and with no accidents or casualties. Mr. Barnum turned to me.

“Congratulations,” he said and gave me a hug too. “You did great.”

“Thank you,” I said politely and looked down.

“Emily, it has been so nice talking with you today, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself. I have a prior engagement and I’m certain you and your daughter have plans for the day,” he said, now facing my mother, his hand gently touching her shoulder. “I’ll see you next week.” He turned and smiled at me before he walked away with a purpose.

“Next week?” I raised my eyebrows at my mom.

“He’s interested in talking to me about possibly purchasing a home. I gave him my card and told him we can meet up next week to talk,” she said with innocence. I could see the smallest glimmer of light in my mom’s eyes. I didn’t say anything about it, though.

I began looking around the auditorium now. I wanted to see Achaiah before he left and hoped I hadn’t missed him. It was presumptuous to think he only came to see me. After a few short seconds scanning the room of chattering students, I saw him. He and Ally were already walking toward me. I had that feeling of butterflies again.

“Congratulations,” they said in unison as they approached. His deep voice drowned out her higher pitched one.

“Thanks,” I answered both of them and introduced them to my mother. When I introduced Achaiah to my mom, she looked at me to read my face. After what I assumed she understood to be a look of interest in Achaiah, she flashed me her impressed face. I knew she’d want to talk about this later. I just didn’t know what I could say other than what my face had said.

My mom seemed to take to Ally. My mom’s keen interest started Ally happily chatting. She was always impressive when she spoke and this time was no exception. You just don’t expect someone to look like her and be so brilliant. I stopped paying much attention to them because my concentration was tuned to Achaiah, even though I was facing both Ally and my mother. As the two of them chatted away like they were old friends, I felt a tug at my arm. It was Achaiah pulling me away. He seemed to want to talk with me alone. I obliged happily.

“I’m sure you and your mom have plans, but I was wondering if maybe you and I could meet up later tonight.” His eyes glistened kindly and I felt the familiar blush of my face.

“I’d love to,” I answered quickly.

“Don’t waste any time thinking it over,” he said in happy sarcasm with a slight chuckle.

Achaiah

I was so proud of her. I had watched her go through so much in her life. The feeling I had watching her graduate was inexplicable. I knew it was different from the joy her mother had at watching her graduate but I still felt as though I had some part in her life. I know I did. Many times I steered her clear of trouble. I watched her grow and struggle and turn into the wonderful person she was today. Her life was not without pain, but I did all I could to stop her from further pain. I loved the person she turned into. There was something special about her I couldn’t ignore. I was drawn to her in ways that were not just about me being her angel. The closest feeling would be like being the guy next door watching her grow up and wanting to be part of her life. I knew her past and I wanted so much to be part of her future.

~~~

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About the Author

Jacqueline Marinaro began her career as a therapist and college educator. Graduate school couldn’t stamp out her love of creative writing, however. Much to the chagrin of her husband, graduate school also only furthered her ability to constantly ask, “how does that make you feel?” Jacqueline lives in Florida with her wonderful husband and sweet little boy, where she enjoys the beach, reading, writing, and of course delving into the feelings of everyone she meets.

Contact Link

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#BookTour “In the Midst of Magic” by Christian Cura

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Welcome to the book tour for upcoming fantasy, In the Midst of Magic by Christian Cura!

Read on for more details and a chance to win some fantastic giveaways!

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In the Midst of Magic

Expected Publication Date: June 4th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy

And if you wrong her, shall she not revenge?

Meet Kara Hartman, a photojournalist who is hiding her magic from the world. Traumatized by her brother’s death, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But just when she thought she could neglect her gift, it becomes apparent that the universe has other plans for Kara. When she discovers that an old foe has broken out of prison, hellbent on destroying her new life, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.

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Excerpt

John’s gauntlet rattled as he fired into the swirling maelstrom. Dying shrieks pierced the air and corpses littered the ground. The snow beneath the carnage was streaked with crimson. His pulse pounded faster than the bullets streaming from his gauntlet. Sweat trickled down the sides of his face. Armor weighed on him like an anchor. Blood splattered his visor. Who had summoned the demons, and why was the compound under attack? The questions screamed in his mind although there was no time to ponder the answers.

Magical fire and lightning flashed in every direction. Enforcers fought on the ground, in the air, in the towers. Smoke and clouds of flame swelled into the sky.

A proximity warning whined in his helmet, and he turned just in time to see a gargoyle whirling around, its tail clearing a wide swath in its wake. Lunging over it, he aimed and fired, but his gauntlet only clicked harmlessly. He landed in the snow with a grunt. Before he could rip a fresh magazine from his belt, the gargoyle roared and stomped toward him, the ground shuddering beneath its feet. John rolled away an instant before he was trampled. Scrambling to his feet, he summoned a mace then ducked beneath a swiping claw. He bludgeoned the gargoyle’s knee, revolted by the crack of bone. The demon moaned, the disfigured leg buckling beneath its weight. He struck the other knee, and the gargoyle collapsed, its back facing him. Seizing the moment of agony, he pounded the demon’s skull, and it fell sideways with a thud.

John panted as he released his mace and slapped a fresh magazine into his gauntlet. He aimed at the nearest demon, then froze as a burst of static made his ears twitch.

“Sir, did you dispatch a unit of armored vehicles?” an enforcer asked. A cold weight sank in his gut. “No, why?”

“I have a bird’s eye view of a whole caravan leaving the compound.”

What the hell?

“Stand by,” John said.

He cast a Flight Spell and let the sky swallow him as he zoomed toward the hangar in the north. Trundling through a blasted gate, was a train of armored trucks. They were bulky vehicles with tires designed to endure any kind of terrain. The windows were made of bulletproof glass, and machine guns were mounted on the rear of every truck.

But his enforcers couldn’t be the ones driving them because they were all out here fighting. With a growing sense of dread, he muttered, “Magnify and x-ray.”

The nearest truck became nothing but a wireframe as his tactical visor identified five rogues equipped with enforcer armor and weaponry. He scanned truck after truck, all of them occupied with rogues.

His heart sank. How did they get out? Why were they driving away? Didn’t they know the ward would kill them? But ten trucks had already crossed the perimeter where the electrocution ward should have been. Tremors ran up his spine. Someone had tampered with the ward. Someone had set the rogues free while the enforcers were distracted with the demons. But why?

He splayed his fingers, interwove them, then curled them into claws as he turned his palms to face one another. “Elektrios,” he said his voice wavering.

A glowing fractal wove itself into a dome over the whole compound as an unlucky driver smashed into it, the truck exploding into flames. The caravan halted.

Within moments, auras glowed within the remaining vehicles. Although his ward held steady for now, it wouldn’t endure forever, not against the will of fifteen hundred rogues.

John commanded ten enforcers to maintain the ward at all cost, then summoned a squad of fifteen officers to his aid.

Within seconds, they were soaring in a ‘V’ formation over the wilderness, veering south as the stolen vehicles rolled through the forest. Although the enforcers were severely outnumbered, the majority of the escaped rogues hadn’t wielded magic in over a year. Which meant their stamina was gone. That’s why they stole the vehicles rather than flew. That’s why they stole the weapons and armor. That was also the reason why the rogues didn’t want a direct conflict with the enforcers.

Well, too bad. They were getting one.

With both fists punched forward, he flew toward the rear vehicle coming under instant gunfire. Sparks leaped from his armor, and cracks webbed across his visor. The dulled impact of bullets tingled his arms, shoulders, and head. He summoned lightning and struck the rogue behind the machine gun. His body convulsed as wisps of smoke curled in the air. An agonized scream tore through the sky.

The roof hatch sprang open, and a rogue took aim at him.

Evading in a tight corkscrew motion, bullets grazed John’s armor. Lightning jumped from his fingertips, and the rogue screamed. His head disappeared beneath the roof of the vehicle. John accelerated until he was directly above the roof hatch and blasted a steady stream of electricity into the cabin. Orange light flickered from the windows amid a chorus of agonized cries. Bolts of lightning slithered beneath the hood, and the engine burst into flames.

John squinted, turning his face away as a wave of heat enveloped him.

About the Author

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Christian Cura is a new author who also has a background in graphic design. He graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and Visual Technology. Inspired by the likes of Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Robert Jordan, it has always been a dream of his to write and publish a novel of his own. In 2019, he achieved that goal with his first book Dreams of Fire. His most recent work, Temple of Ice, is perhaps his most notable achievement, garnering four and five-star reviews on Amazon. He currently lives in Northern Virginia where he continues to write while procrastinating on finding an actual job. When Cura is not writing he can be found creating artwork or getting beaten up at his MMA gym.

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#Featured “Once Upon a Princess: Heart of Stone – A Paranormal Shifter Fairy Tale” by Deborah A. Bailey

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For all the innate complications involved in finding the secret to blissful fairy-tale love, a wise and discerning princess trusts her heart and falls in love with the unlikeliest of princes.

In the ruins of a country destroyed by a curse. Princess Leesa goes looking for a way to help her people. Desperate to find an item of value to trade for supplies, she trespasses into an abandoned palace.

There, she finds more than she bargained for when she encounters a lonely Gargoyle who offers to provide her with everything she needs, for a price.

A gargoyle, Willem is dreadfully lonely and longing for human companionship. Promising the beautiful Leesa riches, he begs her to stay with him for a time. With so many to provide for, she can’t refuse and soon learns that looks can be deceiving. The steep price to be paid to break the spell that cursed him into existence as a gargoyle may be more than Leesa is willing or able to pay.

But her choice offers no second chances: Either she gains back what she’s been mourning or she loses everything she’s ever wanted…forever.

Buy from your favorite bookseller:  https://books2read.com/u/bP5dLJ

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“Luna” by Siera London featured in “Midnight Magic”

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Luna by Siera London
featured in Midnight Magic 

Luna is a Thornican princess, an earth elemental huntress, and future queen to her people. Her duty is to protect the fertile lands from all enemies, even the male who invades her dreams.

As an ice warrior of the Kelvinian people, Prince Kole has a bounty on his head. He’ll kill in service to the crown, unless the assassin is his future mate. With the elemental nations locked in battle, will his female sever his head or claim his heart?

~~~

About MIDNIGHT MAGIC

Enter a magical world of sassy heroines and mystical creatures… 

Fall under the spell of these outstanding USA TODAY and Bestselling authors as they spin unforgettable tales of witches, demons, dragons, shifters, and more.

Explore enchanting worlds filled with magic, unexpected twists, strong leading ladies, and just the right amount of flirty romance.

This limited edition collection of BRAND NEW paranormal romance and urban fantasy books will take you on a thrilling joy ride you won’t soon forget.

★★★ Authors Featured in Midnight Magic ★★★

Gina Kincade
C.D. Gorri
Laura Greenwood
Juliana Haygert
Rebekah R. Ganiere
Louisa Bacio
Siera London
Susannah Shannon
Ariel Dawn
Fiona Starr
Julie Morgan
Taya Rune
Taylor Aston White
Quell T. Fox
Autumn Breeze
Asa Maria Bradley
Kate Rudolph
M.C. Solaris
Emilia Rose
Mia Meade
Hanleigh Bradley
Pepper McGraw
McKayla Schutt
Lilith Darville

~~~

Luna teaser

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AVAILABLE NOW

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ADD ON GOODREADS

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Siera LondonABOUT SIERA LONDON

Siera London is the USA Today Bestselling & award-winning author of contemporary and paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and crime fiction. She crafts stories of diverse characters navigating the challenges and triumphs to find lasting love. Intelligence, wit, emotion, drama, and romance are between the covers of every Siera London novel. Siera lives on the east coast with her husband, and a color patch tabby named Frie.

Siera London romance is pure entertainment featuring women you know, heroes you love, and romance you can feel.

 

CONNECT WITH SIERA LONDON

AUTHOR SITE | TIKTOK | FACEBOOKTWITTER | INSTAGRAMNEWSLETTER | PINTEREST | GOODREADS BOOKBUB AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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#BookTour “The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse” by Terrence Potter

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Welcome to the book tour for The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse by Terrence Potter!

The Black Diamond and the Witch's Curse

The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse

Publication Date: October 27, 2021

Genre: Urban Fantasy/ Fantasy/ BIPOC

To most people, it appears as if Derek James is a typical college freshman. Yes, he is on a football scholarship at one of the most prestigious universities in the country, but other than that, he appears quite ordinary. But there is an extraordinary secret that Derek is harboring: he is a warlock! When he runs into fellow freshmen Matthias, Omar, and Tre’Vell, he is surprised to learn that they are also warlocks! Shortly after they all meet, however, the freshmen start getting attacked by terrifying monsters. Now, the four fast friends must overcome doubts and disagreements in order to discover the source of the attacks. But it may go deeper than any of them realize.

Arrival

It was hot. This had to be the hottest day of the summer. Even though Move-In Day for the rest of the students was still two weeks away, Derek James was moving into his dorm early, as was the case with the rest of the football team.

He was excited to be starting his first year of college at Word University, especially because he was finally getting out from under his mother’s overprotective eye.

“Mom, I really didn’t need you to help me move in. I got it,” Derek said. “Boy, if I let you move in by yourself, who knows what your room’s gonna look like? Besides, I want to meet your roommate,” his mother, Valerie James, responded.

“Dad trusted me. I asked him not to come, and he didn’t.”

“Well, I’m not your dad,” Valerie said. “And I gotta make sure that my baby is all right.”

“Mom, I’m eighteen. Can you not call me ‘baby’?” Derek sighed.

“I’m your mother. You will always be my baby, no matter how old you get.” “That don’t mean you gotta call me that,” Derek grumbled.

“Whatever. Don’t back talk. Now, are we gonna put these things in your room or are we gonna stand here at the car talking all day?”

Derek’s room was on the fifth f loor, the highest f loor in the dorm. Derek looked up at the stately building, with the sun glistening off the windows, and thought that maybe he could use the help. “Okay, I’ll carry the minifridge up. You can take that trunk of clothes. I’ll meet you up there. Remember, it’s room 510B,” Derek decided. As he watched his mom carry the trunk into the building, he wiped the sweat from his brow. Man, he just couldn’t believe how hot it was!

Just as he was about to pick up the fridge, he noticed a couple of girls watching him, probably cheerleaders, also moving in that day. He took his shirt off, which by now was drenched, and revealed his impressive athlete’s physique. He heard the girls start to giggle. Satisfied, he smirked, tossed the shirt into the car, picked up the minifridge, and made his way up the steps to meet his mom at his room.

As he made his way up to the top of the stairs, Derek could see his mom standing at the door of what he could only presume was his room. As he walked down the hallway, he saw his mom give him a look that made him feel this big. When he got to his room, Derek dropped the fridge with a thud! and glanced up at his mom.

“Derek, what are you doing with your shirt off?” Valerie admonished. “Man, it’s burning up outside! My shirt felt like I just took it out the washing machine!” Derek said.

“It ain’t that hot outside. You know I ain’t raise you like that. You ain’t the only person out here!”

“Mom, it’s like one hundred degrees outside and I ain’t want my shirt to be sticking to me. It’s not that big a deal,” Derek pleaded.

She sighed. “Just open the door,” Valerie said as she shook her head in disapproval.

Derek took the key from his pocket and opened the door to his dorm. Inside the room were two wooden desks, two dressers, and two closets. The walls were stark white. It was plain, but Derek had to admit that it was bigger than he had expected. It was bigger than his room at home. He had to keep in mind, though, that unlike at home, he had to share this with another person.

“How much more stuff do you have to bring up?” Valerie asked.

“Well, I got my TV, book bag, the rest of my clothes, and the book,” answered Derek.

“Oh my god! I don’t feel like going back up and down those steps,” exclaimed Valerie.

“Look, you the one that wanted to help me move in. Besides, I could be up and back by myself real quick,” suggested Derek.

“No.”

“But since I been up here, I can do it. It’s not that far and—” Derek started. “No, Derek! What if somebody saw you? Don’t risk it. It’s just one more trip.

I’m just getting old, is all. Don’t mind my complaining,” Valerie said. “Come on.” After bringing up the rest of Derek’s stuff, it was time for Valerie to go. “Okay, are you sure you got everything?” “Yes, Mom.”

“Laptop? Toothpaste? Deodorant?” “Yes, Mom.”

“Razor?”

“Yes.” “Condoms?”

“What? Come on, Mom!”

“Well, like you said, you’re eighteen. I went to college. I know what’s up,” Valerie said.

“I’m gonna act like we ain’t really talking about this,” said Derek, desperately wishing his mom would change the subject.

“Okay, I can take a hint. And you’re sure you have the book? And anything else you would need?” Valerie inquired.

“Yeah. Positive.”

“I still can’t believe your dad let you take it with you,” Valerie said.

“I guess he figured that I’m old enough for the responsibility,” said Derek. “Guess so,” Valerie said as her eyes began to well up with tears.

“Aw come on, Mom, don’t start crying.”

“I can’t help it. My baby is all grown up and leaving me.”

“Mom, it’s not that far away. And you know I can always pop in whenever I want. It’s close enough for me to make the trip.”

“I know. Okay, give me a hug before I go.” Derek gave his mom a big warm hug. She got into her car and Derek waved as her car slowly faded into the distance.

Derek turned to go back up to his room. As he began to make his way up the steps leading to the front entrance, a black Nissan Altima rolled past a couple of cars filled with other students in the process of moving in and pulled up in the fire lane in front of the building. What was intriguing to Derek about this car was that the driver had Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle” blasting from the speakers. Derek could appreciate this guy’s taste in music! He walked up to the car as the driver, a stocky-looking guy, got out.

“Ay yo, you ride with Kendrick Lamar?” Derek asked, impressed. “Of course, my brotha. You a fan?” the driver asked.

“Man, I got Good Kid, M.A.A.D City in heavy rotation on my iPod,” Derek responded.

“Oh a’ight. I been a fan of Kendrick since Section.80,” the guy said. “I assume you’re on the football team.”

“Yeah, wide receiver. You?” “Running back.”

“Cool, cool. I’m Derek, by the way,” Derek said as he introduced himself. “I think my roommate’s name is Derek. My name is Bruce. Bruce Graves.” “Yup, I’m definitely your roommate. Well, I just got done putting my stuff up in the room. If you want, I can help you carry some stuff up,” Derek offered. “Okay, good looking out,” Bruce said, relieved he had some help.

After Derek and Bruce were finished unloading Bruce’s car, they decided to arrange the room to their liking. Bruce said, “Let’s put my bed on that wall and yours on the opposite one. That way, we could put the desks right near the windows and the TV can go on the refrigerator in the corner.”

“Okay, I’m good with that. I’ll put my dresser by my bed. I kind of figured that these walls were gonna be bare so I brought us some posters to liven up the place,” Derek said. He threw up some posters of scantily clad chocolate-skinned models and celebrity females.

“Definitely better,” Bruce said approvingly. Derek laughed. “I thought you’d approve.”

As the two started to unpack their belongings, Bruce noticed a strange- looking book that fell out of Derek’s backpack. “What type of classes are you taking?” Bruce asked. “You already got some of your books?”

“Why?” Derek turned and asked.

Bruce pointed to Derek’s backpack. “Did you get to register early? What class takes that book? That jawn looks cool,” Bruce said. The book was large and looked about four inches thick. It was a hardback, yet bound in black leather. On the cover was a picture of a majestic roaring golden lion, with a clawed paw raised toward the sky. Bruce thought the book looked old.

Derek quickly moved to pick up the book and put it back in the backpack. “Nah, this book is mine. My dad gave it to me. It’s kind of a family heirloom,” Derek nervously said.

“Heirloom?” Bruce asked perplexingly.

“Yeah,” Derek responded. “It’s been passed down in my family since we was brought over from Africa. It means a lot.”

“Yo, that’s cool. Can I see?” Bruce asked.

“Um,” Derek hesitated. “It’s just my dad has this thing about nobody else handling it. Like I said, it’s real old and real important.”

Bruce looked slightly disappointed. “Oh. No problem. I understand.” An uncomfortable and awkward silence settled between the two.

“So where you from?” Derek asked, trying to lighten the mood.

“I was born in Pittsburg,” Bruce answered. “I’ve lived in Philly for the past twelve years though. You?”

“Oh, I’m from right here, Pottington. I actually live, like, a couple miles from here.”

“Oh, so you know your way around this city. Know all the places to go where all the honeys at, am I right?” Bruce joked.

“Of course. This is my city. I got you covered,” Derek said. “But I got a feeling that you won’t have to go far to find a lot of bad chicks, if you know what I’m saying,” Derek suggestively offered.

“You think the girls at this school got it like that?” Bruce asked.

“Look, dawg. Not only do they look good, but you gotta remember that Word U is the best HBCU in the nation. These chicks got their heads on straight and the looks to match,” said Derek.

“Shit, well, if that’s the case, I think I’m gonna have a very fun year,” Bruce said.

Bruce’s stomach began to growl. “I’m about to go get something to eat,” he said.

“Okay, I already ate. I’ll holla at you later,” Derek said.

As soon as Bruce left the room, Derek booted up his laptop. Once he was logged on, he opened a Skype chat; and soon enough, a man appeared on the screen on the other end of the call. In the background were a few portraits and a TV. It appeared to be a living room. The chocolate-skinned man, the same complexion as Derek himself, was wearing a white undershirt and looked to be in his mid-forties. He had sprinkles of gray in his hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. A thin pair of reading glasses covered a pair of eyes that would lead someone to believe that this man had seen a lot in life.

The man smiled. “I was wondering when you would finally get around to calling me,” he said.

Derek laughed. “What’s up, Dad?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

T-Pot

Terrence, born to Shawn and Clarence Potter in 1990, lived in Wilmington, Delaware, until the age of seven, when he moved to New Castle. He graduated from Howard High School before moving on the University of Delaware, graduating in 2012. He decided to begin his writing career a year after that. He chose to create fantasy stories featuring characters from under-represented and minority populations. His first book in the Black Diamond series, The Black Diamond and the Witch’s Curse, was published in 2016. The second, The Black Diamond and the Magic box, was published in 2019.

The Black Diamond Series

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#BookTour “From the Ashes” by Danielle M. Orsino

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Welcome to the 3rd exciting installment in the Birth of the Fae series, From the Ashes by Danielle M. Orsino. Read on for more details and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway!

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From the Ashes

Genre: Fantasy/ Fae

Publication Date: January 20th, 2022

Queen Aurora and King Jarvok are finding that there is a thin line between love, hate, and Oblivion.

The war between the Court of Light and Dark has finally ended, and peace reigns. The Court of Light continued advising the human monarchs of Europe while the Court of Dark kept to themselves, intervening only to act as the humans Dark Gods and Goddesses.
The two Courts were both upholding their respective duties as written by the Treaty of Bodhicitta, until Queen Mary the first of England reneges on a Changeling contract with the Court of Light. This unfortunate act puts events in motion which led to the last Fire Drake, Bishop Awynn, making the ultimate sacrifice. Awynn loses his light while saving The Dark Fae King during a tense standoff with Queen Aurora.
Queen Aurora swears revenge upon Mary for Awynn’s death and issues the same warning she gave her Father, King Henry the Eighth, so many years ago. However, King Jarvok had his own point of view on Queen Aurora’s vengeance and pays Aurora a visit to deliver his critique of her technique, leading to a knock-down drag-out fight between the two Fae monarchs.

Both Leaders refuse to bow even if it means certain Oblivion…

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Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at the Bookshop.org

~~~

EXCERPT

“Please . I have seen horrors that would make a Troll’s balls shrivel . I have put together war strategies which brought Lucifer to his knees . I am sure I can figure out how to aura blend,” he finally said with a nonchalant hand wave .

Zion rolled his eyes . “My liege, I will ask permission to take certain liberties now .”

Jarvok looked up through his brows at his lieutenant and gave a subtle tilt of his head .

Zion took it as permission . “You are the best of us on the battlefield . I am going to give you a lesson in aura blending, in a way both of us can be comfortable with .” Zion motioned to Jarvok to take a seat . Instead, Jarvok leaned on the wall, arms folded . By humoring Zion, Jarvok was admitting he might have a point . Zion glanced up, gathering his thoughts and fortitude .

The sapphire-eyed Fae faced Jarvok, a smile creeping across his lips . “I’ve got it . First of all, do not unsheathe your sword too quickly .”

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About the Author

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Danielle M. Orsino is a fantasy novelist whose lifelong vision to create whimsical realms that her readers can escape to. Her compelling word-weaving pays homage to a multitude of personal muses, from Chris Claremont and George Pérez (both famous comic book writers), to Anne Rice and Wonder Woman.

The creative spark of storytelling has been with Danielle ever since she was a child, but martial arts and her nursing career took center stage into adulthood. Then, on a day like any other, it was reignited during the most unexpected of moments: while treating one of her patients. Seeing that they longed for a distraction during their arduous treatments, the floodgates of inspiration soon burst forth. So, Danielle took it upon herself to tell them a story; a fantastical narrative that would leave the confines of that IV room’s walls and land upon a page. Before she knew it, what started as an imaginative tale to pass the time, turned into book, followed by an entire series: The Birth of Fae. This awe-inspiring series includes Locked out of Heaven (Book One), Thine Eyes of Mercy (Book Two), and From The Ashes (Book Three), all of which are published by 4 Horsemen Publications, Inc. And with an unwavering passion for cosplay and comics, it was a unanimous decision to place her on the cover of each book in all her Fae cosplay glory. The Birth of Fae also features Los, an affable chameleon dragon inspired by her fun-loving Yorkie named Carlos.

When writing wasn’t at the forefront of her mind, Danielle was a successful Martial Artist. Some of her achievements include “1999 World Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee”, “Female Martial Artist of the Year”, “WKA World Champion Silver Medalist 2008”, and numerous more. She has also garnered hundreds of martial art tournament wins, various other national and world titles, and features on big-name channels like TLC and CBS. She even had the rare opportunity to perform for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and collaborate alongside Vincent Lyn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From there, she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and she is now a Licensed Practical Nurse who focuses on Lyme disease research.

This “New Queen of the Fae’s” unmatched world-building and masterful Fae-origin retellings have led to an ever-growing queendom of “Fae-natics”. To begin embarking upon a quest in an epic world unlike any other, visit Danielle M. Orsino’s official website at http://www.BirthOfTheFae.com. You can also connect with her on Instagram (@BirthOfTheFae_Novel) and Twitter (@BirthOfTheFae).

“After summoning this world into existence through an imaginative force of will, Danielle has scoured every inch of the landscape several times over. Critics often praise a story’s world building by saying that it feels “lived in.” Well, the world of the Fae certainly seems like that because Danielle herself has happily lived there for years as she worked to put all of this together… My favorite part of this story is that it is gloriously depicted in vibrant images.”

-Clete Barrett Smith, New York Times Bestselling Author of If We Were Giants, Aliens on Vacation series, and Magic Delivery

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#Featured “Mistress to the Beast” by Eve Vaughn

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Her father’s shop is more than just a family business. It’s the place they lovingly call home. When a powerful property development company stoops to barely legal tactics to force them to sell, Lila’s outrage spurs her straight to the source to fight the injustice.

A serious accident left Hunter Jamison’s body scarred. A bitter split from his latest lover has left the former playboy without faith in the female sex. Yet, confronted with Lila’s fiery beauty, he finds himself offering her a deal: If she’ll be his mistress for three months, he’ll allow her father to keep the shop.

A simple agreement? Hardly. It’s a battle of wills that flares into much more than either of them bargained for—a consuming passion that could heal Hunter’s soul-deep scars…or inflict new ones.

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#BookTour “Shadow of the Shapeshifter (Vanquish Trilogy Book 1)” by David Lee Stone

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Book One of the Vanquish Trilogy

YA Fantasy, Fantasy

 

Date Published: March 31, 2022

Publisher: Kingsbrook Publishing

 

Two strangers in the wrong place at the worst possible time…

.a lone assassin prepared to do the dirtiest of jobs…

and a guard sentry determined to stop him.

A dark enemy is about to rise in Illmoor, something even more chaotic and twisted than the citizens themselves. Step forward Enoch Dwellings, master sleuth, who boasts a reputation built entirely on an intricate web of carefully calculated lies. Together with his hapless but increasingly inept assistant, Doctor Wheredad (no medical training whatsoever), he will do anything it takes to solve a crime that might actually end up costing him more than his own life.

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EXCERPT

PROLOGUE

‘I don’t like this,’ the traveller whispered to his friend. ‘I don’t like this at all.’

Having been caught short of common sense in the wilderness north of Crust, they’d been delighted to discover a dilapidated coaching inn amid the fierce woodlands. However, their delight had soon changed to dubious apprehension when the place turned out to be full of strangely inhospitable locals. They could forgive the sniggering dwarves at the corner table and the odd looks from the group of farmers huddled beside the bar, but there was something seriously amiss with the hooded man who sat next to the fire, rhythmically cracking his jaw, not to mention the deeply lugubrious innkeeper hulking behind the bar who was quite clearly two teeth short of a beaver. To make matters worse, there was now a silent yet unsubtle exchange running between the two, albeit from far ends of the room.

‘I bet it’s about us,’ said the first traveller, licking his trembling lips. ‘Did you see that bit where the innkeeper walked his two fingers along the bar top? That might be code for “hitchhikers”…’

The second traveller rolled his eyes.

‘Oh, don’t be so paranoid,’ he said, smiling nervously.

‘I’m not being paranoid – why aren’t they just speaking to each other, like normal folk?’

‘Perhaps they don’t want the farmers listening in.’

‘Ha! I doubt that. Look: the bloke beside the fire just ran a finger under his jaw – ‘sa death signal, that! I just knew it was a bad idea to come in here! I mean; what kind of place is open at nearly three o’clock in the morning…?’

‘Go, then!’

‘Aren’t you coming?’

‘Nope: I’m far too tired to go on, just now.’

Time passed. One by one, the farmers began to drink up and head out into the early darkness. They were followed by the dwarves, who were all the worse for drink. Eventually, the inn became quiet, with only a crackle from the fireplace to hold back the silence.

‘Let’s get out of here; please,’ whispered the first traveller, anxiety creeping into his voice.

‘And go where? There probably isn’t another inn for miles, at least not one that’s open! Besides, we haven’t even finished our drinks…’

The traveller stared down at the tankards.

‘I don’t like this ale, anyway,’ he muttered. ‘It tastes funny. I tell you, this place is knee-deep in the bad stuff…’

The man beside the fireplace abruptly folded his arms, then seemed to change his mind, and reached up to caress his jutting jaw.

The first traveller leaned close to his friend.

‘You’re not telling me he’s balanced,’ he whispered.

‘Why, just because he’s not running over here to engage us in conversation?’

No, because he’s wearing a hood and playing with his jawbone: that’s proper mental.’

His friend gave a dispassionate shrug.

‘Look, I’m cold, I’m hungry, and I’ll be damned if I’m walking through the woods for another six miles. I’m staying here and that’s that!’

‘Fine,’ snapped the traveller, snatching up his backpack and clambering to his feet. ‘Well, just so you know, the innkeeper has dried blood all down the back of his coat: I saw it as I ordered the drinks…’

The traveller slung on his pack and departed. When the door had slammed behind him, his friend made a disgruntled face and took another large swig of ale: it did taste funny, he had to admit.

The clock struck three. As the last of its chimes sounded throughout, the door of the inn creaked open, and a thin, spindly man with bulbous eyes and a strangely active tongue sidled his way in.

‘We’ve got it, massster,’ he spat, apparently addressing the hooded man. ‘It’sssss in the yard.’ That said, he hurried outside again.

The traveller looked on in a not-looking-on sort of way as the stranger beside the fire got carefully to his feet and followed.

‘Open up the back,’ the stranger called, as he passed the table. ‘I’ll give them a hand.’

‘Right you are,’ the innkeeper shouted after him, stomping off into the dark recesses of the inn.

Then, there was silence.

As the room’s enormous fire crackled away, the traveller – now totally alone in the bar – began to feel very uncomfortable.

‘Maybe it’s an ale delivery or something,’ he said to himself, but aloud, so the room didn’t seem quite so menacing. ‘Yeah, that’ll be it: an ale delivery.’

Then it happened: a terrible scream, a cry of pain that pierced the silence of the inn and nearly caused the traveller to bite clean through his tongue. He jumped to his feet.

‘What the hell was that?’ he gasped, glancing around at the empty room. There was still no sign of the innkeeper.

He quickly snatched up his backpack, left an overly generous tip on the table and made his way to the door, but he hadn’t gone more than ten steps when a deep, booming voice said:

‘And where do you think you’re going?’

The innkeeper had appeared at the bar, his spindly associate standing beside him.

‘I – er – thought I might head off…’ the traveller said with a forced smile, sweat beginning to bead on his brow.

‘Oh, you did, did you?’

‘Er…yes: I’m afraid so. It’s getting late. Goodnight!’

There was a ‘click’ from behind him, and the traveller spun around: the hooded stranger from the fireplace had re-entered the inn and was lowering a bar across the door.

‘Wh-what are you doing? What is this?’

He made to step around the man, then thought better of it and turned back to the innkeeper.

‘What’s going on here?’

The innkeeper smiled, displaying a grim formation of broken teeth, but neither he nor his snake-like companion spoke a word.

‘LET-ME-OUT!’ said the traveller, gritting his teeth, partly to show some mustard but mainly because it stopped his jaw from shaking. ‘I’m going home, do you hear me? I don’t belong here!’

‘Oh, we know that,’ whispered the hooded man, putting a hand on the traveller’s shoulder. ‘But tonight, for us, is a very important night, when something we’ve planned for a very long time has come to pass.’

‘W-what’s that got to do with me?’

‘Nothing. It’s got nothing at all to do with you, but when your friend left earlier, he did so at a very inopportune moment…and he saw someone that he shouldn’t have seen. He was in the wrong place at the worst possible time…as are you.’

The traveller’s eyes filled with tears, and his lips began to tremble.

‘B-but I’m not g-going to tell anyone…’

‘Not good enough. Besides,’ the stranger said, removing his hood. ‘You’ve seen my face.’

The traveller stepped back, his jaw dropping. ‘B-b-but I don’t understand: aren’t you Viscount-‘

There was a sudden, sickening thud and then…there was silence.

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About the Author

Between 1998 and 2016, David wrote fantasy and YA books for some of the biggest publishers in the world. These included The Illmoor Chronicles (for Disney and Hodder), Gladiator Boy and Undead Ed (for Hodder and Penguin), Davey Swag and Outcasts (for Hodder). His books have been converted into audio works for BBC Worldwide and Random House and translated into fifteen different languages by companies including Sony in Japan. David’s short stories have also appeared in a variety of anthologies, including the celebrated Knights of Madness (with Terry Pratchett, Tom Sharpe, etc) for Orbit and Penguin, edited by the late and great veteran fantasy anthologist, Peter Haining. David has also written review columns for Interzone and SFX and fictional histories for Games Workshop and their Warhammer universe.

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