Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Book Blitz : Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them

Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them
Debra Goelz
Published by: Hachette Audiobooks
Publication date: October 17th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Sixteen-year-old Waverly Fishwater believes that people who act suspicious are asking for her to spy on them. When she eavesdrops on one of her dad’s clandestine meetings, she learns that mermaids are being abducted. Fearing no one else will save them, Waverly swaps her tail for legs and heads to the site of the disappearances, but it doesn’t go as planned. After exposing mermaidkind to humanity, Waverly has to come to terms with leaving the home, friends, and school she loves. For her safety, she must go to a remote boarding school on the California coast.
Waverly discovers her new classmates are from a multitude of supernatural species, including werewolves, fairies, and minor Greek gods. But the bigger problem might be all the mermaid-blood loving vampires, and the fact that the most infuriating one has taken an interest in her already.
She must navigate this weird new world where her class schedule includes time-traveling history, fairy dance, interspecies biology, and sand-sculpting vain gods with rock-hard abs. The biggest letdown is that she still has to take algebra, even though polynomials are not her friends.
Just when she’s starting to fit in, she begins to unravel a dark plot that could destroy the bayside school and the oceans beyond. As she gets close to solving the mystery, the mernapper takes hold of her mind and hides the clues that will piece it together. Waverly is left with the knowledge of one thing: she’s next.
If Waverly is to expose the scheme and take out the mastermind, she’s going to have to rely on the most dubious kind of help-reckless gods, single-minded werewolves, and virtuous fairies. To avoid a supernatural catastrophe, Waverly must rally this eccentric band of heroes, learning to rely on the help of others in order to stay afloat.
Listen to an audio sample here!

Author Bio:
Debra Goelz is a refugee from Hollywood where she served for ten years as a financial executive for such companies as Universal Pictures, Dino de Laurentiis and Jim Henson Productions. Her performing career began and ended with her puppeteering a chicken during the closing scene in "Muppet Treasure Island." After garnering over 9 million on-line reads, her award-winning YA fantasy, "Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them," will be published by Hachette audio on October 17, 2017. She lives in a redwood forest in rural Marin County with her husband. Her two children have abandoned her to seek a college education in New York.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Blitz : The Cutting Room

The Cutting Room Floor
Dawn Klehr
Publication date: October 13th 2017
Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley
Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.
Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.

Author Bio:
Dawn Klehr is the author of the young adult thrillers: The Cutting Room Floor and If You Wrong Us.
She began her career in TV news and though she’s been on both sides of the camera, she prefers to lurk behind the lens. Mostly, she loves to get lost in stories –in film, the theater, or on the page – and is a sucker for both the sinister and the sappy. She’s currently channeling her dark side as she works on her next book.
Dawn lives in the Twin Cities with her funny husband, adorable son, and naughty dog.


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Blog tour: Unearthed After Sunset (Song for a scene)

Unearthed After Sunset
by Lauryn April is the first novel in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles. 

Continue reading to find out how “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine inspired a scene from the book.
Song for a Scene: “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine
As many writers do, I like to listen to music when I’m writing. Music helps me tune out the rest of the world so I can stay focused on my novel, but it also inspires me. When I was writing Unearthed after Sunset, the song “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine really spoke to me. Though the song isn’t about vampires (I don’t think), with lines like “holy water cannot help you now,” and “I was dead when I woke up this morning,” it was hard for me to listen to it and not think of vampires.
“Seven Devils” has this spooky sound that reminded me of Greg’s journey into the world of vampires. The lyrics also remind me of the different battles that occur in the novel, especially the line “See I have to burn your kingdom down.” In Unearthed after Sunset there are two gangs of vampires that are trying to destroy one another and will stop at nothing to win. There’s also the constant battle that exists between the Vampires and the Hunters.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where the vampires make a statement at a local club: 
I spun. The lights flashed. The music pounded. People danced. Movement pulsed all around me.
A girl brushed against me, swaying to the beat, her body pressing against mine. Her curly blonde hair thrashed about as the tempo of the music sped. An image of Caroline flickered through my mind, but I caught the girl’s eyes; they were green, not brown – green like Sarah’s. This is wrong. She danced, and knocked her head back, exposing her neck. I smelled the blood, watched the pulsing vein in her neck, and it was all over. The lights, and the sounds, the smell, my gums tingled and in a rush my lips were at her throat, teeth embedded in flesh, hands holding her small frame tight against me. This feels right. 
Her screams drowned in sound waves. I grabbed her hands as if we were dancing, and her distress went ignored by the partygoers surrounding us. Flashing lights veiled her death, and she slipped away.
After I’d drained her, after we’d all fed, there were some who started to take notice of our activities. People shook the lifeless corpses of their friends, and it became apparent they hadn’t passed out. It didn’t matter. They’d never know that vampires had stolen their lives. We sneaked out into the night and left the rest of the party to devolve into madness.
As we stepped out the back door of the club, I saw a red symbol spray painted on the wall. A round eye, with a circle on either side, and a triangle behind it lay atop a thick x. It hadn’t been there when we arrived. My sight remained focused on the design as we walked away, but I didn’t ask about it.

Want to know more about Unearthed After Sunset follow the Blog Tour here

About the Author:
Lauryn April has always been fascinated by the paranormal, picking up a healthy Stephen King habit by the age of thirteen. Her favorite TV show growing up was "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", and she's always preferred bands like The Rolling Stones, and The Doors over whatever they're playing on the radio.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Cover reveal: Fire & Bone

Fire and Bone
Rachel A. Marks
(Otherborn #1)
Publication date: February 20th 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
In Hollywood’s underworld of demigods, druids, and ancient bonds, one girl has a dangerous future.
Sage is eighteen, down on her luck, and struggling to survive on the streets of Los Angeles. Everything changes the night she’s invited to a party—one that turns out to be a trap.
Thrust into a magical world hidden within the City of Angels, Sage discovers that she’s the daughter of a Celtic goddess, with powers that are only in their infancy. Now that she’s of age, she’s asked to pledge her loyalty to one of the five deities, all keen on winning her favor by any means necessary. She has to admit that she’s tempted—especially when this new life comes with spells, Hollywood glamour, and a bodyguard with secrets of his own. Not to mention a prince whose proposal could give her more than she ever imagined.
As loyalties shift, and as the two men vie for her attention, Sage tries to figure out who to trust in a realm she doesn’t understand. One thing is for sure: the trap she’s in has bigger claws than she thought. And it’s going to take a lot more than magic for this Celtic demigoddess to make it out alive.
Read a sample chapter here!

Author Bio:
Rachel A. Marks is a cancer survivor, a writer and artist, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. Her four kids and amazing hubby put up with her nerdiness with tremendous grace, even when she makes them watch Buffy or Smallville re-runs for days on end. She was voted: Most Likely To Survive A Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she'll never have to test the theory.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Book Blitz: There Be Demons

There Be Demons
M.K. Theodoratus
Publication date: September 26th 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Suspense, Young Adult
After her father remarries, Britt Kelly’s life becomes a cesspit. She lives in her sister’s two-bedroom tenement apartment with her mother, two brothers, and two young nephews. She starts a new high school where she knows no one. And, even when Britt thinks she’s making friends, the church where she studies in is torn down.
Then, the field commanders of The Demon Wars draft her and her friends to aid the four Gargoyle Guardians who fight the demons invading the city of Trebridge. The fate of the city hangs on Britt’s ability to lead and learn enough self-control to manipulate the natural magic of Grace. Meanwhile, she also needs to decide what to do about Cahal, her chemistry lab partner who is as strong as her and may have interests more than just protecting Trebridge.
“There Be Demons” is a continuation of M. K. Theodoratus’ urban fantasy, “Night for the Gargoyles”. It tells the tale of Gillen and his team of Gargoyle Guardians as they defend Trebridge while teaching Britt and her friends – the untrained “reinforcements. Along the way, Gillen and Britt learn things about each other to make them stronger both together and alone.
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Britt Kelly leaned against the jamb between the cramped kitchen and living room of her new home in the projects. I feel like a sardine stuffed in a can.
Her anger churned. If her father hadn’t abandoned his family for his bimbo boss, she’d be back home in her own bedroom, chatting with friends about the new school year. Instead, she was stuck in her older half-sister’s apartment.
Many prized the apartments in St. Edmund’s Towers for their size, but Britt refused to see it. She looked at the walls they had painted as a trap. Her mother and sister were sleeping in each family’s respective bedroom. Her two small nephews smeared jam on their faces in the living room as they waited for the cartoons to start. Her two younger brothers, Carlos and Darin, whispered in the bathroom, forgetting their argument over who got the sink first might wake their sleeping mother.
Welcome to another merry day in the projects.
The teen huffed as she waited for her brothers to get ready to sneak away to go see their father uptown. Her thoughts switched to getting revenge on her absentee father. He’d missed his last two court-ordered visits, but she’d get him today, even if her mother forbade them to annoy him. The court said he could see his kids every third Sunday of the month. See them he would. Her brothers had a right to visit him even if his new wife hated them like cooties. Britt was going to make sure they did.
Wish I could make him suffer for the visits he’s missed.
A vision of Britt sticking him with a knitting needle in each hand like his Granny Nan made her smile.
No. That’s not vicious enough.
A vision of a steamroller with thousands of pins on its roller popped into Britt’s mind. In seconds, the machine squashed her father into the ground. When he emerged from underneath, he was a bleeding mess.
A low volume fanfare announced the TV news. Just as she was about to yank her brothers out of the bathroom, her favorite reporter came on. Jessica Hawthorne of the The Trebridge Channel wore a stunning form-fitting green outfit that Britt coveted. The color would go as well with her dark hair as the reporter’s blond, blue-eyed looks. Hawthorne took a deep breath, ready to deliver her morning spiel.
Britt swallowed hard. Before the Divorce, Britt had worn expensive clothes like Hawthorne’s, not thrift shop junk like she wore now. When they lost their uptown apartment after her mom got sick, the county sheriff had dumped all their belongings on the sidewalk. Most of their stuff got stolen.
Dad could’ve helped us. At least buy us some new clothes for school. He’s still got plenty of money. Mom couldn’t help getting sick.
The small living room swallowed Jessica Hawthorne’s breathy voice. Britt strained to hear her over the bratbies’ sporadic giggles as they shoved pieces of toast in each other’s faces.
“Enough about the underage Crown Prince of Andor getting caught in a strip joint when he should have been at school. Closer to home and our thought for the day. The Guarda assures the citizens of Trebridge the new curfew will end the vandalism and muggings. Stronger measures are needed, I tell you. Scores of people appear at hospitals with the most dreadful wounds and can’t remember how they got them.”
The reporter blathered on, an earnest expression knitting her brows. “We need more guarda on the streets, especially in the river districts. These hoodlums need to be stopped.”
Britt concentrated harder, not daring to turn up the volume while her mother slept. She worked the swing shift now and didn’t get home until four in the morning. Someday I’ll look that polished again, I swear. Granny Nan would bawl Dad out for how we live now if she were still alive.
Britt shut her complaints down, feeling embarrassed at how proud she had once been to be called her daddy’s ‘little princess’.
“While the guarda say their investigations are ongoing, I don’t see any results. Why have so many people disappeared? The police haven’t a clue.” Her lip curled. “You’d almost think we’re being invaded by demons and our fine protectors are too scared to investigate.” Her contempt poured from the screen.
Britt tapped her foot, wishing her brothers would stop giggling. She wished she lived uptown where she still had a room of her own. Granted, they didn’t live on the streets, but four people stuffed in one bedroom in her half-sister’s apartment was torture. Her father deserved to be kicked in the ass. Britt wanted revenge. Her father needed to pay for abandoning his family and her.
The noise in the bathroom grew louder.
Those buttheads better not wake Mom up.
Britt twitched the draped folds of her new V-neck blouse wishing she had the boobs to fill it out. It did have a designer label, just the thing she needed to sneak into the posh condos where her father now lived.
Just like the boys can’t wear their grubs today.
“I want to wear a T-shirt to Dad’s, Britt.”
Quarrelsome Darin whined behind her, making her jump. He had become a total pain since their parents’ divorce. Britt hoped seeing their dad would stop his constant bitching. Britt didn’t feel any guilt for disobeying their mother’s orders. The boys deserved to see their cockroach of a father. His ice-blooded new wife could just tough out their visit.
Britt’s muscles tightened in the cold, funny way they did when something bad was going to happen. She shook her head, forcing herself to ignore the bothersome feeling that was happening too often for comfort.
Glancing at the closed bedroom doors, she put a finger to her lips. Mom’s going to blister our ears if we wake her.
Darin opened his mouth. Lifting her hand to smack him, she brushed back the thick fall of hair across her eyes instead. If she hit him, Darin’s screams would wake their mom and Pietra, their half-sister.
Keeping her voice low, she said, “Get your butt in gear. You’re wearing what you’re wearing. End of questions, comments, and complaining.”
Darin did not give up. “My tees are clean. Dad don’t like fancy either. He sat in front of the TV with his shirt and shoes off all the time. In summer, he only wore his boxers. Remember? Mom always got mad at him for leaving beer cans on the coffee table. Always.”
“Shh. Don’t wake Mom or Pietra.” Britt held a finger to her lips. “Get your shoes on, and we can talk in the hall.”
“I don’t like dress shirts either.” Carlos, her older, calmer brother, carefully left the bathroom door partly ajar. “It’s not fair to make us wear them. You’re just a kid like us even if you’re taller. Being a high school freshmen ain’t no bigger deal than being in fifth grade.”
“Stop being buttheads, both of you.” Britt jerked the apartment door open. “You begged to visit Dad. I’m doing the best I can to see you do, so shut up and move your ass before Mom wakes up.”
Her mother did her best to push their father out of their lives. Britt refused to let her have her wish. Since the messy divorce and his marriage to the Ice-Bitch, Timothy Kelly had seldom spent more than an hour with them. Their dad mostly offered excuses when his visitation weekend came.When he did see them, they barely ate a fast lunch before he sent them off to a movie on their own. The last time was three months ago. Britt missed him and his compliments terribly.
He’s not going to escape today.
Britt remembered their one visit to the posh high-rise, so different from both their suburban and project homes. The pristine rooms, sprinkled with figurines and trinkets, made her nervous enough to get the cold crawls down her back every time she moved. The Ice-Bitch’s rat-dog had barked and snapped at them the whole time.
Carlos didn’t mean to break the stupid shepherd figurine when he jumped. The damn dog would’ve bit him if I hadn’t kicked the yapping rat in the head. I don’t care if the cabrona told us never to come back again. It’s our right to see him.
Outside the apartment, the hallway reeked from years of cooking in the eight apartments of the fifth floor, B-wing. In spite of the blinking light of the security camera in its wire cage, someone had tagged both sides of the hall. Thankfully, they left the picture Britt called the “Tree of Life” undamaged. Someone had painted a huge tree with birds flittering through the leaves. No one told the artist that real trees didn’t grow alone, especially the big ones. Britt missed the trees lining the streets of their lost home, and the painting’s survival gave Britt hope she might survive living in the slums, too.
Be glad you don’t down near the docks.
The thought of trees made Britt smile as memories of her summers at Granny Nan’s flitted through her mind, the pines sighing in the breeze while the oaks rustled with a brisker note. Her huge white dogs slipping out of the house to silently disappear into the tree-covered hillsides. Granny Nan standing lost in thought, rubbing her hidden necklace with the tips of her fingers until the gems glowed, when she thought she was alone. The three guard dogs, Nan called her guardians, licking Britt’s face.
Britt’s heart clutched when she recalled their goodbye last summer. Granny Nan had bustled about the kitchen, packing a lunch with extra snickerdoodles for the drive back to Trebridge. Just before she shoved the paper bag into her hands, she rose to her tiptoes to kiss Britt on the forehead.
“Cheer up, my girl. Next summer will be loads of fun. You’re going to learn all sorts of new stuff. Our secret now. Remember.”
The last word had held force as she tapped Britt’s forehead. She’d loved Granny Nan. Staying with her was always fun, except when she trained Britt in self-control. Britt had looked forward to her coming summer, not ever imagining the old woman would die.
Britt shoved the memory away because it hurt too much to remember. Won’t learn anything now since she’s dead.
A shuffling noise on the stairs put Britt on alert, living in the projects wasn’t as safe as Uptown. The head of the girl from across the hall appeared, followed by some older guy with broad shoulders carrying a sack. The girl took one look at Britt and dropped her gaze before scurrying toward her door.
On her way, the girl said, “Hi, tree.”
“Why do you always talk to that silly tree, Sara?” asked the guy following her. His gaze rested on where Britt’s boobs should be and sank to her crouch area.
When he smirked, Britt was glad her skirt was loose, happy she did not share Pietra and her mom’s busty figures.
The dark-haired Tejano girl pushed the door open after unlocking it. “Gerome, Hurry up. Mama wants that milk yesterday.”
He scooted into the door, throwing a backward glance at Britt. “Okay, Sara. Okay.”
Carlos slipped into the hallway, pulling their door shut without closing it. “Okay, Britt. Now tell me why I gotta do the dress-shirt shit before school starts.” He stopped and folded his arms across his chest. His expression mirrored his father’s when the old man was ready to start a tantrum and throw things when something didn’t go his way. “I’m not going to move an inch until you let me go back and get a t-shirt.”
“Yeah,” said Darin, joining them.
“We gotta sneak by the co-op’s security, buttheads. If you don’t blend in, they’ll check their list of undesirables and bounce you out the door faster than you can spit. So, you’re wear prissy clothes. Comprendes? Or are you guys totally too stupid to understand?”
“Dad don’t like you speaking Spanish,” said Carlos.
Darin parroted in the high-pitched voice that grated her patience raw. “Yeah, we’re Andorians. Have been forever. You can even join the Daughters of the Kingscourt.”
“Shut up, or go watch TV with the bratbies.” Britt gave him a cold stare. Her fifth-grade brothers hated being lumped with Pietra’s pre-school sons. “Carlos and I’ll visit Dad by ourselves and get bigger ice creams afterward.”
Carlos gasped. “You won’t really leave Darin behind?”
Britt’s glare heated. “Damn sure I would, if he don’t stop whining like a baby.”
“Okay, but I still don’t like dress shirts,” said Darin. “All the guys around here wear tees.”
“Duh. Wear a tee to school tomorrow. Now move your ass. We gotta catch the tram.”
Once on the street, the boys forgot the argument in a game of shoving and giggling. Was I ever so young? Maybe before Pietra fell down the stairs and everyone blamed me for pushing her.
Memories of her father’s great-grandmother who lived back in the hills flooded through her mind. Longing pulsed through Britt as she thought of the summers when she lived with her.
Britt should’ve hated the old woman, but she loved her. When she was nine, Britt had been sent away because everyone thought she shoved Pietra down the stairs, breaking her leg. Pietra had been teasing her by lifting her Mr. Pongo over her head, and she had been jumping trying to grab him away. But she slipped. Pietra had fallen down the stairs when Britt had grabbed her for balance. No one believed her when Britt said it was an accident.
The summer after, Granny Nan had invited her back. She did teach her to “control” her temper. She taught her imagination games. Made her use her use all her senses to examine the world around her. Taught her to sing in descant during the long evenings with the mages who came to visit her. Granny Nan was a Dissenter who disliked the Kingscourt and all it stood for. Still, Britt had loved Granny Nan’s mountain valley. The summers had been the most wonderful of Britt’s life.

Author Bio:
A Northern California gal, M. K. Theodoratus has been intrigued by fantasy since she started reading comic books. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she's not disappearing into other writer's worlds, she's creating her own alternative worlds--that of Andor where demons prey on humans and the Far Isle Half-Elven where she explores the social and political implications of genetic drift on a hybrid elf/human people.
A sixth grade English assignment introduced Theodoratus to story writing. The teacher asked for a short story and gave a "C" for an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a novel the next summer. Theodoratus has been addicted to writing stories happily ever after.
Currently, Theodoratus lives with her old man and two lap-cats in Colorado.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Blitz: Arabella Park

Arabella Park
Publication date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult
Everyone knows that losing friends is a natural part of the high school experience. It’s all a game of musical chairs, really. Yet, what happens when a friend doesn’t intentionally “go ghost” but is abruptly taken away?
Kameron, Grayson, Mikey, Yasmin, and Jenna have been thick as thieves from childhood. Rightfully so—they make up the American minority in the German twin city of Arabella Park. When one of the five suddenly turns up missing, the remaining friends must find a way to bring her back while keeping up the facade of leading ordinary small-town lives.
As they search for their missing friend, they discover things about themselves and one another that will catapult them into an explosive climax and the ultimate revelation of who done it.
A multi-faceted mystery told from the alternating points of view of five friends, Arabella Park brings to life what it means to endure the most frightful, profound time of one’s life—the teenage years—while being stretched to the limits of what it means to be an adult, even a hero.
From non-Catholics, Father had often been presented with the question of why it was necessary for the laity to confess their sins to a priest. After all, weren’t priests just sinful men like everyone else?
Father’s rehearsed response to this question usually included scripture passages from James 5 (Confess your sins one to another) and John 20 (If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven.) Afterward, he’d explain the church’s longstanding tradition of designating holy men to council confessors and thus help them back on the road to holiness.
For those who held the sacrament in such great contempt that this explanation would not suffice, Father would add this to his reply: “Yes, priests are sinful. We, like all other men, must go to confession as well.”
This was the truth of the matter and usually an answer that settled the argument, at least for a time.
Father himself made it a point to go to confession three times a week, though in years past he’d gone nearly every day just to make sure that he had the grace to overcome even venial sins.
Yet, there came a time, some days after he’d heard that certain confession of murder, he was sure that he was in a state of mortal sin.
Thus, he went to visit Father Kaiser at Dom zu Eichstätt, the largest Catholic church in Arabella Park.
Father went smoothly through the beginning ritual of confession with Father Kaiser. It had been a week since his last confession. He stated his smaller sins—watching too much television, failing to say his morning prayers on Wednesday, entertaining an impure thought.
At last, Father reached the Great Sin, the one that had brought him there to begin with. He hesitated, breathed, closed his eyes.
“Are you okay?” asked Father Kaiser after some time.
“Yes,” Father answered. “I have one more sin to confess.”
Father Kaiser was silent, save his easy breathing.
“I’ve done something terrible. I don’t know if I can say it.”
“Don’t worry. Jesus will forgive whatever it is, so long as you confess. You’re in the right place.”
Right. That was right. Jesus could forgive anything, even….
“Murder,” Father said finally. “I am an active accomplice to murder.”

Author Bio:
I've lived the most ordinary life ever. Thus, I write for my own entertainment and hopefully, one day, the entertainment of millions of others. I'm a guitarist/singer/songwriter and above all, a hard worker. (At least, I'd like to think so.) Not sure what other clever thing I could say, so [insert clever line right here.] :-)


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spotlight: The Hands of Ruin by Dylan Lee Peters

Spotlight On:

by Dylan Lee Peters

In a lakeside village amid the forests of Ferren, a young girl has been disfigured by a dark and mysterious presence. Only zul masters—those who use a mystical red dust called zulis—have the skill to vanquish such nightmares, and so now a master must be chosen.

On Earth, fourteen-year-old twins, Zigmund and Zerah, are sent to live with their uncle, Rainart, after their parents’ untimely deaths. Rainart is an abrasive drunk with a limp, and a secretive past. Yet, his secrets quickly come to light with astounding tension as the twins learn of his time in a land far away, and his possession of a mysterious and powerful red dust.

Book one of The Hands of Ruin begins a saga of two worlds and the individuals who bind those worlds together. It is a story both visionary and deeply emotional, rife with action, mystery, and vivid imagination. Blending fantasy and science fiction with passion, morality, and drama, The Hands of Ruin has all the makings of a true epic.

Where to buy:  Amazon / Nook / iBooks / Kobo

• • •
Ah’Rhea sat high above the valley floor, amid the stillness of the land. The warm breeze moved gently against the thick black curls of hair that fell down across her chest, and it carried the sweet vanilla scent that came from the chasm in the valley floor. She set her dirty hands in her lap, closed her bright-green eyes, and enjoyed the moment of tranquility. Aside from the touch of the breeze and the warmth of the sun, she was alone.
It was evening in the valley of Ferrenglyn, and the sunset made the red-brown rock walls of the cliffs below Ah’Rhea look as bright as the embers of a dying fire. She was as still as a statue, and her skin—colored so similarly to the rock walls below—was glad for the warmth of the setting sun. An evening like this always brought memories of him, and she needed these last moments of sun to get her through the chill of a lonely night.
Ah’Rhea sat still for a long time, her legs folded beneath her, eyes closed, face to the sun, until the last sliver of molten orange fell beneath the horizon. The wind picked up and now brought with it the cool promise of night, so Ah’Rhea rubbed her dry hands together, stood, and looked down on the deep, dark chasm in the valley floor. She felt the cracks in her hands as she stared. Years of working with the zulis that came from this valley and from deep within the chasm had made her hands coarse. She sighed, pulled her crimson shawl over her head like a hood, and turned away from the valley. It was time to return to her cave.
The long slab of rock she had been perched on was not far from the entrance to her home, but really the valley and the high cliffs around the chasm were all a part of Ah’Rhea’s home. Her cave was merely her personal space. It was modest in appearance but a fine place to keep vigil over a sacred land. Her cave was something she cherished. Ah’Rhea Eneoh, a great zul master of Ferrenglyn, had earned her cave in the cliffs.
Those who did not understand the ways of Ferrenglyn might find a cave to be an ill-fitting home for such an accomplished and esteemed woman. However, the entirety of Ferren held Ferrenglyn to be sacred land. Ferrenites often made pilgrimages to the Temple of Origin, located in the village that closely bordered the valley. It was how they paid respect, and part of that respect was to leave the zul masters in peace. It was seen as taboo to visit a zul master uninvited, even for those who lived in the village of Ferrenglyn. The cliffs, chasm, and valley were the spiritual foundation of a people. The zul masters who lived in the caves were the sentinels that watched over that heart.
Ah’Rhea had trained with zulis for years to hone her skills. Countless hours of work and introspection had shaped her life until she was worthy of the title “zul master.” It was a goal she had pursued ever since early childhood. It was a singular focus, a yearning in her heart, and she had almost completely ignored the temptations of life in order to achieve that goal. Now, she lived a life of honor but also a life of seclusion. The zul masters could live with one another if they should choose. Yet most lived a life dominated by solitude.
Truly, solitude was something Ah’Rhea liked, something she had always preferred. She felt silence had its own sound, and she regarded it as sweet. Even as a small child, she would sit alone, playing quietly with no one to watch her. She could play that way for hours, to both the relief and dismay of her parents. A child that required so little attention was both a blessing and an oddity. However, there was never any reason for Ah’Rhea’s parents to be concerned. Their child was merely content to be alone. The absence of other people never made Ah’Rhea feel lonely. In fact, only the absence of one particular soul had ever made her feel loneliness, and if it were not for him, loneliness might be an alien concept to her completely.
Ah’Rhea couldn’t help but think of him now as she entered the darkness of her cave, the night gathering outside, and lit a candle set on a small table. She traced her hand along the rough wall of her home as she made her way to rest on her velvety mattress. Then Ah’Rhea sat on the soft mattress for three long minutes before sighing and resigning herself to the inevitable. She pulled his letter out from underneath her bed. She had kept it there ever since she had received it. It was the only good-bye she had received on the day he had left. Ah’Rhea reread the letter on nights like this, when the evening sun felt like his hand against her cheek, when her dry eyes yearned for the moisture of tears, when her chest clenched tight with secret sadness and begged for release.
Ah’Rhea took a pinch of zulis from the wooden box beside her mattress. The box was divided into sections, each containing a different herb or spice. She then took a pinch of cardamom and combined it with the zulis. She rubbed the spices in her hands and blew the combination into the flickering flame of the candle. The candle went out immediately, but the spices filled the air and expanded above Ah’Rhea, each individual speck glowing like a star in the night sky. They rose into the air and spread, finally coming to rest on the ceiling of the cave. They gave the cave light, as if a bright moon were shining down. It was well-enough light to read the letter by, but it was not so much that she would not be able to sleep, and she knew her zul would wear off after a few hours.
She opened the letter, which was folded in quarters. The rough and resilient parchment was pale in the light. A few small rips frayed the edges of the letter, and some of the script had been blurred into watery blotches from tears past. It didn’t matter whether her tears had blurred the words; every one of them was as familiar to her as her own name. The parchment smelled like him, or at least Ah’Rhea believed it did. She read the words again as fresh tears grew at the corners of her eyes.
My Dove,
There is a hollow within me I can no longer ignore. It has been inside of me as long as I can remember, since I was a child. I am sorry I am telling you of it only now. I’m sorry for a great many things.
Throughout my life, I have been vexed by a question: What is more cruel, to hide what is inside of me from the ones I love or to let them know me completely and see what I truly am?
I had always answered the question by choosing to hide what is inside of me, hoping a change would come, hoping the hollow within me would go away. Alas, it has not, and I have slowly come to terms with the fact that it never will. As I look down at the stained lines of my hands, a constant reminder of our years together, I realize I had so much more hope for my life, and for yours. Hope was my first mistake, but not my gravest.
I count my gravest mistake as the time I spent with you. I understand how harsh these words are, but their truth is not diminished by their cruelty. I have lied to you that I am a strong man, and I have lied to you that I am a good man. There are no such things as good, strong men. Not in this world or any other. Please believe me when I tell you that. It has taken me a very long time to accept it. I am sorry for you that I did not understand it sooner.
I cheated you of time. I have robbed you of the most precious commodity that exists. I tried to fill my hollow with your love, but it could not be filled; I tried to hide from it in your arms, but it would not be eluded. There are no things I can say to right what I have done, nothing I can do to give you back these years, but I can stop taking from you. I choose to stop today. You have seen me when the shadows fall over me. You have stood with me in that darkness, allowing me to tear you apart as I tore myself apart. No more. I know this last action of mine will hurt you, but that pain will go away. You must erase me from your mind.
You must release me from your heart.
I am lost.