Weekend Excerpt!

This week we have an excerpt from Remains to be Seen, available as a standalone short story from Danielle de Valera.

Undercover narcotics agents Michael O’Neill and buddy Baby Johnson, still suffering PTSD from the Vietnam War, decide to quit their jobs in the Australian Bureau of Narcotics and move to the far north coast of New South Wales. Johnson hopes to renew his relationship with Star, whom he met when tracking down the notorious heroin dealer, God, while O’Neill thinks settling down with long-time girlfriend Azure might be the solution to his problems. But that remains to be seen.


Baby’s in jail again. He went back and got the doorman after I fell asleep. He chose to go into Brunswick Heads lock-up, for word on the street has it that’s the best place to work your fines off. He took in his portable record player, a swatch of vinyl records and a dozen Robert E Howard novels.

“You and those bloody Conan novels,” I told him.

“You can laugh, y’ bastard,” he said. “I’d give anything to wake up one day in one of those Robert E Howard kingdoms. ‘Stead of hanging around this shithouse planet.”

We drive to Brunswick Heads to visit him in the afternoon, Azure and I, though we’re still separated. At the last moment David and Doreen aka Crystal arrive. Rather than leaving them there to wreck the place—they’re already well into the port and on the way to one of their innumerable arguments—we cram them in with us, flagons of port and all, and drive into Brunswick Heads.

We find Baby doing the police station’s laundry at the laundromat down the road, drinking a can of Fosters and eating a pie as he aimlessly watches the dryers whirling around.

“Where’re the cops?” asks Crystal Doreen, who has warrants out for her all over south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

“Aw, they’re off duty, the place’s all locked up. The sergeant’s taken ‘is wife down t’ Ballina t’ do ‘er shopping.”

“How are you going to get back in?” I ask him.

Baby looks sheepish. “Well, I can’t. Not until they open the place at four.”

“You mean you’re locked out?! They’ve gone away and locked you out?”

“Get fucked, O’Neill.”

“Want a snort of the port?” Crystal asks him. “It’s in the car. Two flagons.”

When Baby has got the laundry out of the dryers, we go back to the police station and lie on the front lawn in the sun, drinking port out of empty Coca-Cola bottles. It’s a beautiful day. Little clouds are scudding across the sky, seagulls wheel overhead, and dimly in the distance you can hear the sound of the breakers smashing against the rock walls at the river’s entrance.

I stare up into the sky and watch the seagulls, while Crystal keeps on refilling the Coke bottles and the levels of the flagons in the car go down.

Up the path to the police station comes a little old lady carrying a straw basket and looking confused at finding the place locked up. Baby lurches off the lawn and lumbers across to her in his board shorts, tank top and thongs.

“Can I help ya, ma’am?”

“Oh, officer,” she begins; she’s mistaken him for an off-duty cop. I don’t bother to listen to the rest, she’s probably lost her cat or something, poor bitch, it’ll only ruin my day.

Baby takes down all the details with a pencil and pad he’s miraculously whipped out of his back pocket. He asks her to come back at four.

“So’s the sergeant can see ya, ma’am.”

“Thank you, officer,” she smiles at him bravely. “You’re very kind.”

“Think nothin’ of it, ma’am. That’s what we’re here for.”

David and Crystal are fighting again, and the grog is running out. They say they’ll go round to the Brunswick Pub and get some more, but I know they won’t come back. They’ll end up going nine rounds in Casuarina Park and throwing one another off the bridge to Main Beach. I don’t care. It’s good just lying here, listening to the drone of everyone’s voices and watching Azure laugh. She laughs a lot, when she isn’t crying.

I think a great deal about Azure and me that day. I wonder if it might’ve worked if we’d had more money, but there’s a catch-22 in that. As long as Az is poor, she can’t reacquire a habit. If she gets a job (and she’s applied for one at the Top Pub back in town), she’ll have the money to start again, and I won’t be there to keep her on the rails.

The heat comes up out of the ground and soaks pleasantly through my body. I gaze up into the sky. My head is in Azure’s lap and I’m not thinking straight—or maybe I’m thinking too straight. It’ll be my birthday in five more days. In five days’ time I’ll be thirty-seven. Half my life’s gone, probably more; four combat wounds ’ve got to do something, and I don’t mean something good.

What if we’d had a kid, Azure and I? She’d wanted one but I told her I was scared of the Agent Orange. Christ knows I saw enough of it, so that part’s true. But the real truth of the matter is I don’t want a kid. I lose my head completely every time the subject comes up.

Grab your free copy at Amazon

Dream Stealer by HL Carpenter

Today’s excerpt is from the middle grade/young adult fantasy novella Dream Stealer by HL Carpenter

Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?

Ever wonder what became of the dreams you once had? Fancy Moonstruck can tell you.

Fancy is supposed to steal dreams. It’s what her family does for a living, and now that she’s fifteen, the job is hers.

It’s a job she’d rather not have. She knows first-hand what dreams mean to the dreamer because she dreams of her mom, who died five years ago. Losing her dream would be like losing her mom all over again. That’s a pain Fancy doesn’t want to inflict on anyone.

But the rules are clear: Steal a dream—or lose her own.



image003Another moment and the dream will be gone.

The winter sea breeze brushes my hair from my face, its cold caress as light as the layer of fear I wear like my dark hoodie, and as soft as my shallow breathing. In the way of every good thief, I take care that the whispery puff of my breath is the only sound I make.

Though I’m not touching the fleeing dream, it kisses my mind, sticky as a spider’s web. I stand still, wide-awake in the hush of the two a.m. darkness, staring at the pulsing silver sliver. The external details are breathtaking: the shivering tendrils of longing; the filaments of hope, quivering like the strings of a harp. They float through the window of the ramshackle beach cottage where Mrs. Hooper sleeps, reaching upward with fog-thin fingers, anchored within her heart, searching for the sky.

Mrs. Hooper’s dream is one of love-longing, and I peek inside as it sways above me, though I’m not supposed to. The Dream Buyers pay well for dreams of love-longing, and they pay especially well for dreams untouched by us Stealers.

Even so, I can’t stop myself from lingering inside the dream. I spend precious seconds there, warming myself in the heat of Mrs. Hooper’s longing for the love of her son, before drawing back into the chill of the night’s reality, and my work in it. I fumble to release the dream catcher, which dangles from my belt on a leather cord, then grasp the handle of the delicate, tightly-woven net. I focus on the hours of practice runs I went over with Dad. I need only reach out now, and my very first dream-stealing excursion will end in success.

And I will keep my family safe.

I must do this. Yet I hesitate. Dad says Mrs. Hooper will never miss her dream. Is it possible he’s wrong? I dream a similar love-longing dream myself, every night, and I know what it means to me—the same as this dream must mean to Mrs. Hooper.

If I’m right, I cannot take it from her.

I must take it.

I must…

Get your copy today at: Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/Dream-Stealer-HL-Carpenter-ebook/dp/B00J6HWZBK

And be sure to check out the authors’ site at http://www.hlcarpenter.com


image001HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their studio in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Their work is featured on their website [http://www.hlcarpenter.com]

Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess by Dormaine G

Today’s excerpt is from the  novel Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess by Dormaine G


madame lilly DORMAINE G ebook cover

Standing up, Lilly’s body stiffened uncontrollably. There was something wrong. A force was pulling her in. That wasn’t supposed to happen . . . she was supposed to feel in control at all times but she was losing it.

There was something else here, something she hadn’t invited. Despite the humid night air her body turned cold, rigidly cold, making her teeth chatter. Her followers saw the change when she stood up so suddenly. They stopped beating the drums since they could tell something was wrong by the way she held herself so tightly.

A force had a hold on her. Lilly could feel it in her bones. She desperately wanted to close her eyes but something within her wouldn’t allow it.

The wind howled and the dirt flew around them, making it almost impossible to see. Something fierce was coming for her. The other spirits knew it because they stopped walking but instead hid in the shadows of the trees, finally showing themselves as they moved swiftly past the other spirits that were coming right at her. There were two of them, no longer holding human forms, but white shadows of their former selves.

Lilly held her arms rigid as the forces rapidly circled her body, spinning her round to see her. Stopping close to her face, they intertwined with each other as if to figure out what she was. They appeared identical with hollow pits for eyes and mouths but she could sense they were not truly the same. They hovered in front of her for only a moment before they shot through her body, taking a part of her with them and knocking her to the ground from the blinding pain.


About the Author

I was born in New York and lived there with my family until I was eight when we moved to Mississippi. I studied the skill of nursing in Louisiana and New York but learned life experiences in Massachusetts. After stationary nursing in NY and travel nursing to other states, I planted roots in Colorado. Throughout the years I’ve always written stories but never thought to publish. After years of playing adult and realizing that I will never grow up, I took some time off to live the dream of writing. My first book, Connor, was published September 2013 which is book 1 of the series. I truly love writing and will continue to do so.

You can grab your copy of Madame Lilly, Voodoo Priestess on Amazon

Breaking the Silence by Jesse C. Rice-Jones

Today’s excerpts are from Breaking the Silence by Jesse C. Rice-Jones


For the curious this book is an in-your-face expose’ of actual events and activities not generally discussed in a public forum. For those prepared to embrace the mysterious it offers glimpses into the unknowable. As regards inspiration, the text implies that the search for inspiration is an individual journey that can not be universalized.

Too soon circumstances taught me that an imaginary father, no matter how idealized the image, can never be enough. Yet, that same positive image I had cherished made it possible for me to finally accept and even to love my father in all his frailty, body and soul. I thank my mother for not tarnishing my conception of my absent father. And by some harsh perhaps twisted logic, I must also thank my father. His absence allowed me to walk on the wild side. Brutal as that path has been, I like where it has taken me. And yes, I am still walking. So come now, walk with me awhile…

My mother, my sister Naomi, and I attended my father’s memorial service. There were many others–friends, patrons, gallery owners, and fellow artists. They had brought paintings and sculptures of his they’d collected over the years, as well as many words of love, admiration, and amusing anecdotes. Finally, my father’s best friend at the end of his moving eulogy pointed to my sister and me saying, “Peter, to his great loss, neglected to acknowledge his best work.”  All eyes turned to us. For a moment we became part of the exhibition of collectables. Most people in that room hadn’t seen or heard from Peter for years; most had no idea that he had children and that two of them were in their midst. My sister wept. I took her hand and we went out into the freshness of the surrounding May gardens. A crow was waiting for us.

You can get Breaking the Silence from Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/421475



hugggggJesse C. Rice-Jones is a native of Vancouver, Canada. He grew up without a television. Instead he mastered tree climbing and read The Lord of the Rings, Sherlock Holmes, The Little Prince, The Hardy Boys, Robin Hood, and Eric the Viking, among others, by the age of twelve. He has worked in the film industry and coached basketball to youths. He is currently working as a personal trainer. He is passionate about Martial Arts, music, coaching, and writing.

find out more at https://www.facebook.com/#!/BreakingTheSilence.JesseRiceJones

Woe, but It’s a Wicked World: Guest post by Lauri Nienhaus How to Identify a Gothic Tale

This is an excerpt from Laurie Nienhaus’ new book Steeped: The Wanderings & Delights of a Tea Adventurer, which features humorous essays and original recipes along with ephemera art. As a fan of gothic tales, I found it especially fun and wanted to share it with you!

Woe, but It’s a Wicked World

crying angel close

photo by Jo Naylor

For those new to the genre, it’s sometimes a murky line distinguishing the early gothic tale from a mystery or mere romance. How do you know for certain whether you’re reading a true gothic story?  You need only look at your heroine and ask:

     1.   Has she been recently orphaned or is she, at the least,
minus one parent whose advice and admonishments she
tenderly reflects upon?
     2.  Has she recently been locked in her room or held
prisoner in a small cottage, most likely after a long
     3.  Is she wandering the lost passageways of an ancient castle
or a haunted abbey, perhaps in total darkness and
terrified of witnessing some horrid spectacle?
    4.  Is she being forced to wed a man she barely knows by a
cruel Italian uncle or guardian?
    5.  Does she long for the safe haven of a convent or is she
being forced to become a nun?
If your answer to these questions is yes, you can be assured your tale is early gothic.

While gothic stories abounded with heroines named Adeline, Antonia, and Ellena, you’ll be hard pressed to find even a Matilda or Isabella residing in our modern novels. Gothic heroines simply aren’t made of stern enough stuff for today’s readers.

But in all fairness, the life of a gothic heroine is not easy. Her beauty creates endless complications. Her deepest distress makes her appear even more beautiful and so she tends to be greatly desired by men with wicked intentions. Aside from the man she is being forced to wed, there is likely yet another soon to make a kidnap attempt and still others she might hear discussing her, which only adds to her vague fears and nameless dread. All the while, of course, her mind is greatly preoccupied with memories of happy moments spent with the man she has given her heart to and from whom she’s been cruelly torn. His absence creates the deep melancholy she can never shake, but which serves to make her…still more beautiful.

One wonders if the lot of the gothic heroine would be easier if she didn’t feel things so deeply. While we admire, she feels extraordinary awe rendering her speechless. We may be nervous, but she’s assailed by horrid apprehensions her spirit can not overcome. We experience fear, but she’s convulsed with horror so excessive her senses are threatened. Her recollections are too painful to be endured and her astonishment is always profound. Imagine the fatigue!

frozen roses 2 edited

by Jo Naylor

Perhaps this is why gothic heroines are so prone to sinking lifeless and falling senseless. Their penchant for long solitary walks leads you to believe they possess hardy constitutions. In actuality, they’re quite delicate. In continual need of walls and window casements to lean upon, they lose consciousness with alarming regularity. Their steps falter with the arrival of bad news and their maids are ever ready with open arms to catch them when murder or possible loss of chastity threatens. The bravest gothic heroine might indeed seek out her cruel uncle to plead her case one last time, but it causes her to tremble terribly and she’ll likely end up falling at his feet, overwrought with emotion. The unexpected appearance of a lover, a circumstance occurring with far more frequency than one might expect, could well bring on a slight fever.

Tragically, gothic heroines are also not known for their deductive powers. Despite the lateness of the hour, the remoteness of the castle, and the strangeness of their situation, they’re unable to deduce that some foul plot is afoot. Although we can see numerous reasons why unaccountable terror might grip them, they, strangely, often fail to produce a single one. They’re only, yet again, overcome by their most constant of companions – nameless dread.

At least they’re rarely bored. As is often the case when locked in your room, there’s ample time for introspection. The gothic heroine spends a good portion of her day tormented by unanswerable questions such as, “What have I gained by my fortitude?” or “Is this a charm to lure me to my destruction?” and “Have I truly been abandoned to meet the storms of life alone?”

Their days fill with activity, especially as people leave much lying about for them to find. Chancing upon deadly daggers and mysterious manuscripts keeps a gothic heroine busy. Hours pass quickly when you’re discovering the veiled recesses of rooms not opened in years. Chance upon poetry carved into the trees outside your villa or begin wondering what is behind this or that door and, before you know it, it’s teatime.

two cherubs

by Jo Naylor

A gothic heroine is also quite literate and, in an effort to resist the pressure of sorrow, usually makes at least a feeble attempt to read. Yet how impossible when the silent tears can not be stopped! And most amazing of all, the deepest melancholy or the most sublime enjoyment of nature puts her at her literary best. She can pen a two-page sonnet before the sun completely sinks below the horizon.

Although the gothic heroine finds the world to be a wicked place, in the end she manages to triumph, coming away a wiser, and usually happily married, young woman. She has been:

…shewn that, though the vicious can sometimes pour afflictions upon the good, their power is transient and their punishment certain; and that innocence supported by patience will finally triumph over misfortune.”
Perhaps it is true that, for those with an uncommon delicacy
of mind, there is always another door to be opened.
 Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Laurie Nienhaus is an author, playwright and public speaker now living on Fort Myers Beach in Florida. She is happiest when managing to combine both her love of history and tea. Steeped is her third book. When not writing, speaking or holed up in a library, Laurie enjoys reading, cooking, sewing vintage reproduction clothing, bicycling, yoga and gardening. She has been married to her husband, Kenny, for 30 years and has two grown children, Kenny and Torie Montana. The newest addition to her family is a miniature Australian Shepherd named Lily Bell. To learn more about her work and her speaking engagements, visit www.LaurieNienhaus.com
You can purchase your own copy of Steeped at: Amazon.com
Also be sure to visit GLily.com

Dirt by Sharon Dwyer


In 1933 the Great Depression and Dust Bowl brought devastation to thousands of people. For thirteen-year-old Sammy Larkin, it made him an orphan. Refusing to allow the state to take his seven-year-old sister, Birdie and himself from their farm, he decides to do the impossible—live as if his parents were still alive.
Learning to lie and steal, he embarks on an eye-opening fight for survival in the Oklahoma panhandle, finding help in the most unexpected places. The fear of failure overshadows his every decision. Along with a mangy stray dog and new-found friends, he struggles to adapt to the world of adults, discovering the ugly side of life, all the while questioning why his parents left them.
Battling constant dust storms, known as black blizzards, a menacing drifter, and hunger, he fights to get through each day, hoping for a miracle. When circumstances dictate a change in his plans, he has to make a life altering decision.

Winner of the B.R.A.G. Medallion



Outside the wind roared, tore at the cellar door, moaned through cracks, bringing with it a cloud of dust. Sammy and Birdie turned toward the wall and buried their heads within their arms. On and on, the roaring wind shrieked. The temperature dropped by almost forty degrees. Each new gust slammed the door against the frame. It blocked out the sun and turned day into night. The faint light from the lantern flickered. After what seemed like hours, the short dust storm finally passed them over and kept heading east. One minute the roaring filled the tiny room; the next, a blanket of dead quiet descended.

“Is it over?” Birdie asked

“I think so. We need to sit and wait a while, jus’ in case it comes back.” Sammy unrolled himself and leaned back against the wall, his heart pounding. The storm seemed a lot worse now that his ma and pa weren’t there to comfort them. Usually they made a game of hiding in the cellar waiting for a storm to pass. It wasn’t fun anymore.

He crept up the steps and listened for the wind. He could hear the blowing dirt whisking against the door and house. It seeped through the cracks, rained on his face and in his eyes. He wiped at the dirt on his face and listened again for the wind. It seemed quiet beyond the door. Sammy pulled the latch back and slowly raised the cellar door a few inches, looking and listening for the hateful storm. With the exception of a few minor gusts, the storm had passed.

He turned back down the steps and said to his sister, “Come on, let’s git out of here.”

Birdie jumped to her feet, blew out the lantern, and scooted up the stone steps, eager to leave the dank, dark cellar. By the time she reached the top step, Sammy had thrown the door all the way back.

A haze of dusty sky covered the sun. The day seemed confused as to whether it should be early morning or dusk. With a dark yellow-brown hue blanketing the lonely landscape, it was hard to tell.

“I didn’t like that, Sammy. It ain’t like when Momma and Daddy was with us down in there,” Birdie said when she climbed out of the cellar. She stood on the cellar door, hugging herself against the chill, while Sammy secured the latch.

“I know. Ain’t nothin’ fun no more. Next time maybe we can ride it out in the house, ‘stead of the cellar. If’n it’s a big‘n we still go to the cellar. The little ones . . . I ain’t goin’ down there.” Sammy struggled with the rusted latch, finally giving up after pinching his hand. He kicked it shut. “Oh, snake boogers. That there door done up an’ bit me.” He squeezed the side of his hand, holding back the blood.

“Mamma don’t like ya to be sayin’ that,” chided Birdie.

“Ain’t nobody gonna be around to say nothin’ ‘bout it.” He stomped around the corner out of her sight.

Birdie hurried to fall in step with her brother as they made their way back to the house, stopping first at the pump for some cool, refreshing water. Breathing in all the dust that had crept into the cellar had parched their throats. Ma woulda remembered to bring water to the cellar, Sammy thought. And Pa woulda got them down ‘for the winds got too strong.

“Don’t make no difference. Gotta do it my own way now,” he mumbled. “I gotta think smarter and faster, too. If’n I don’t, me and Birdie gonna git hurt or maybe even kilt.

“Who’s gonna get kilt, Sammy?” Birdie asked, catching up with him.

“I ain’t talkin’ to ya. Mind yer own business,” he said.

“Who ya talkin’ to? Ain’t nobody ‘round cept us”. Birdie grabbed his sleeve. “Who ya talkin’ to, huh?”

Sammy stopped walking and turned to his sister. “I’m talkin’ to myself, okay? I gotta make some sense of all this and there ain’t nobody to be talkin’ to that knows nothin’. We gotta make plans.”

“What plans?”

“Plans on how we keep a-goin’. Gittin’ food and stuff.”

“I’m hungry,” Birdie whined.

“Me too,” Sammy agreed, knowing there wasn’t much left in the house. He had to find a way to bring some food in.

“I want one of Momma’s roast chickens with mashed tatters and corn ona cob. Wouldn’ that be good?” Birdie licked her lips, savoring the memory of what used to be on the table.

“Yeah, if’n we had us a chicken or tatters or corn. We ain’t got nothin’ ‘cept some bread ‘n that there can stuff. I gotta git us some food.”


http://www.amazon.com/DIRT-ebook/dp/B008NXEIKO/ Available in paperback and kindle



About Sharon Dwyer:

What can I say. I dream. I write. I dream some more. I love books with a good story that keeps me up way past my bedtime.

Seriously, well I was serious but, I’ve worked in several professions – nursing, engineering, finance and technology. I love a challenge, so when I felt bored with an occupation, I went back to school for a new one. Along the way I discovered I loved to write and once again changed profession.

As my website says, “Books are the gateway to adventure”. Reading is more than just an enjoyable story, so many books out there have tidbits of information weaved into the story, we learn something everytime we pick one up. At least I do.

Website http://www.sldwyer.com/


Lost by Kenn Phillips

LOST E-book Cover

As children, we’re afraid of the monster in the closet or the boogeyman under the bed. Most of us grow out of that and we relegate the superstition of a dark, evil force out to get us to paranoid conspiracy theorists and the psychotic. Stew Kasey is one who grew out of it. The bad thing is, he should reconsider, because there’s definitely a dark and evil force out there who is out to get him. Fortunately, for Stew, there is also a force of good looking out for him—his brother. Now, if only Stew knew that he had a brother.

Stew Kasey is a normal 23-year old trying to make his way as a film critic for the local paper. His life gets flipped upside-down and inside-out when he gets attacked in an alley, wakes up from a coma three days later and begins to see things. Strange things.

Wiz is an… What? You’ve never met anyone named Wiz before? When a spiritual entity tells you through a Ouija board that his name is Wiz, you don’t question it. Now, Wiz is an immortal who has been searching for his brother who vanished into thin air over 1250 years ago after a botched execution. His quest has now brought him to Charlotte.

Zachary—who is also an immortal, just not as prone to wandering as Wiz—is plotting to finish the task he started 1250 years ago and
destroy the Circle of Light.



“I’ve never seen anything like this outside of a… I am an expert,“ the shop keeper insisted. “Trust me. This guy is no collector.“ Wiz was hungry, but not for anything edible. Food had not quelled his hunger in quite some time. Still, time passed so slowly on its own and eating the occasional meal helped it to pass just a little bit quicker. But he needed money for that. He stood in the darkness of an alley in Uptown Charlotte, Goose at his side, staring out into the street. Blurs of color went by but he did not notice. For a moment, his mind was distracted by something far less tangible than shiny machines. He took a deep breath as he blinked his eyes into focus on what he came here for. He looked down at his callused, empty hands and in a bright flash, they were no longer empty.

In the past, Wiz had been successful selling items at flea markets, antique stores, second hand stores and even an occasional small pawn shop. Lack of identification limits his ability to sell to bigger stores. Some of the items he had been able to sell for a decent amount of cash included a Native American flute, a bearskin rug, and his favorite, an ivory tobacco pipe carved into a Viking longboat. He had heard from a friend that Ace Pawn had a thing for swords. He wasn’t sure how big Ace Pawn was, but swords were pricey items and perhaps today would be his lucky day.

The wind was whistling, but he couldn’t feel its ferocity until he and Goose stepped from within the alley. A gust of wind swept underneath his wide-brimmed hat and blew it off his head, forcing him to chase it a hundred feet down the sidewalk. He tucked the sheathed sword underneath his arm and had to brush his scraggly, greasy hair out of his face before he could put his hat back on. He looked around and the street was empty, as was the sidewalk. He was relieved that he didn’t have to worry about anyone thinking he was a crazy man with a sword.

He walked into the shop, being careful not to let the sword hit the glass of the door. The shopkeeper’s bell jingled as he closed the door behind him. Inside, it smelled of dusty plastic and stale cigarette smoke.

“Hey! You can’t bring that dog in here,“ the pawnshop owner declared, pointing at the door from just beyond the entryway into the back room.

“He’s very well-behaved. I take him with me everywhere. He’s practically my guide dog.“ Goose was black with brown on his chest, legs, snout and around his eyes. He looked like a leaner and smaller version of a Rottweiler. But, in fact, he was a Smalandsstovare, which originated in Scandinavia. He was loyal, strong and very smart. “I can put a harness on him and wear dark sunglasses if it makes you feel better,“ Wiz said, smirking as he tried to catch the shop owner off guard.

“No. I don’t suppose that’ll be necessary. What’ya got?“ the pawnshop owner asked as he brushed aside a dark green curtain and stepped into the front of the shop from the back. His face was plump, but clean-shaven; his hair neatly trimmed.

“Well, I’ve got this sword,“ Wiz replied as he approached the register, pulling his sword from its sheath and placing it on the counter. It was a traditional Viking sword—Damascus folded steel blade with a woven leather hilt decorated with bronze rivets.

“You got ID?“ the owner queried.

“Hmm, ID. No, I don’t. Is that a problem?“ Wiz could conjure just about anything, but the item he wanted had to either be not owned by anyone or made from material not owned by anyone. He could occasionally conjure money. Usually a dollar bill in the pocket of
some discarded jeans or loose change, but never anything very substantial. Conjured items could come from anywhere in the world and so, Wiz sometimes even got foreign currency. ID cards are made mostly of plastic but he was not sure what else and, therefore, could not conjure himself any modern identification. Fifty years ago it wasn’t a problem. Twenty years ago, even. Times change, however, and technology with it. Conjuring precious metals gems, even though there are plenty to be found in the ground that aren’t owned by anyone, went against the Laws of Immortal Magic set at the Conclave Triskaideka of 1354 in Prague.

“Yes. Lack of identification poses somewhat of a problem. This is not a cheap sword,“ the owner said, hunching over to look at the details more closely. “Where did you get this? Did you steal it? It looks like a movie prop. Thirteenth Warrior… or Pathfinder, perhaps.“

“No. It’s a family heirloom. But I need cash.“

“Are you on drugs?“ the owner inquired with a bit of cynicism and suspicion, eyeing Wiz’s faded blue jeans, raggedy Army field jacket
and unkempt hair.

“No. Look… if you don’t want to buy it… or… can’t buy it because I don’t have ID, just give it back to me and I’ll find someone who can.
No big deal.“

“Do you mind if I go back and look this up? I just want to see what something like this is worth.“

“No, go ahead.“

The owner turned around and quickly took the sword to the back, nearly getting the tip of the sword caught in the fabric of the green curtain. Wiz could see a sliver of the somewhat heavyset man between the curtain and the doorframe, looking at a computer screen. He could see the man bring something up to his ear and look back at Wiz. It was a cell phone. By the look of the man’s shifty eyes, Wiz assumed he was calling the police. Wiz strained and could just barely make out what he was saying.


Author’s Bio
Kenn Phillips lives with his wife, Marie, and three sons in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he is a correctional sergeant at a medium custody prison. Lost/ is his first novel. His other writing credits include film and music reviews, as well as various other articles, while working as Assistant Arts and Entertainment editor for the University Time at UNC-Charlotte. He also wrote film reviews for Backwash.com.

Link to buy: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0Y56RW
Website: ravenspost.net


Divided Realms by Catherine L Vickers

Divided Realms.rev - Catherine L Vickers

The destiny of four young people living their ordinary lives, changes almost overnight. The youngest, Prince Raphael, thought to die young through illness, is kidnapped by the evil Emperor of the Dark Side of Aarabassa. His ransom is Heather, the Changeling and key to enabling his vamplin army to enter the Lightlands once he has used the Fire Giant to destroy the Magic Wall. Prince Leon and Prince Amos must travel the realms to unite the People of the Lightlands in readiness for a battle to stop the evil monshaad Emperor from destroying the Magic Wall. Dragons, Dwarves, Centaurs and many a creature will fight for the continuation of their races.

Here’s an excerpt:

A small boy moaned in a dark damp cave, deep in the Ginnung mid-mountains. It was not his imminent death that he feared, though that would be a relief. It was that Morte-Bielz was not to end the agonising torment he was afflicting, not even in death could he escape this evil monshaad. The Emperor had threatened to continue his persecution long after Raphael’s death, upon his mortal soul. For a long time Raphael had endured the continual loud screeching that bounded around the walls of the cave, echoing down the passageways and never ceasing. His eyes and ears bled with the pressure that Morte-Bielz inflicted on him with the Mindtalk. His bones ached; his muscles had stiffened and throbbed with pain. His body felt raw, with no skin for protection. Hunger had ceased long ago but his dry cracked lips bled with pain as he pleaded for water. He had stopped drinking from the small pool that he had managed to crawl to, it was nothing but salted water, which made him crave a drink even more. The twisted torment did not end at the physical pain. The emperor had filled Raphael’s young mind with his own twisted hatred for humankind. He had graphically described the slow deaths he was going to inflict on human villages when he, once again, would be upon the Light Lands. He told him of cruel events gone by and worse yet to come.

For a short while, the emperor was quiet as if relishing his thoughts.

On the rare moments that the monshaad creature was not present in his mind, he tried to sleep; this was a means of escaping the reality of his world.

Again, the tormenting words began.

Did you know boy, that it was I who killed your mother?

Raphael hated this foul creature. How could he know of his mother? What mischief was he up to now?

She would not let me have your soul when I entered into her mind. Oh Yesss, I entered her mind because she was ill with fever from your body feeding off her like a leach. She was a fool to refuse me. No one refuses my orders; I poisoned her blood and twisted your bones. She died in agony fearing for the innocent little child in her womb. I told her that I would ensure her child did not live long. Ohhh how she wept. Once I was in her mind I simply would not let go.

Raphael listened to the horrific laughing of the foul creature. He did not feel saddened. He would not let this entity take over his mind. He must stay strong for as long as he could hold out.

She disobeyed me and I could not get to her soul. You see it is her fault that you are so ill. She selfishly passed on to the Realm of the Dead so I punished you instead and twisted your spine.

The boy could only cry dry tears. He had no strength. He tried to fight death because this would not end the suffering. The emperor had threatened that his soul would be imprisoned for all eternity in the Dark Lands or until the monshaad Lords fed upon him. He did not want to think of his mother and the agony she must have gone through before her death.

I have news for you boy. Again a short silence whilst he thought he could hear the emperor breathing heavily. The humans will soon have a new king.

During the silence that followed this news, Raphael could not understand what the monshaad had meant. His thoughts were confused and he could only conclude that his father’s illness had become worse.

Your father will soon be dead and I will devour his soul. Am I not kind to make your brother a king? Now it is also time for you to face the final moments of your paltry life.

The emperor spoke no more. Raphael felt his pained body being dragged along the hardened floor to the centre of the cave. His skin shredded until he bled, leaving a trail on the rough rocks. For a moment, the pulling motion ceased and then his legs shot violently up into the air. Left there to dangle, his feet were dragged higher and his head swayed close to the hard ground. Blood pumped rapidly through the veins in his head, pounding with a soft rhythm in his eardrums, his stomach heaved as he felt bile slither into his throat. He coughed up blood and spat it to the dusty floor. His limbs ached with the agonising position as he dangled in mid air. His arms fell downwards; he knew he was weakening to the point of no return. It was strange that the emperor had left him alone in his last moments. At least he could pass from life peacefully.

He wasn’t sure how long he had been unconscious because the emperor hadn’t returned yet. A faint hissing sounded very near by, he tried to open his puffy eyes. Something was entering the cave, he could just make out a long dark shape, like a giant snake, slithering towards him. Raphael did not care if the snake poisoned his body; there would be less for Morte-Bielz when he returned.

The snake swiftly coiedl itself around the little human body in slow gentle movements.

‘You can only kill me snake, ‘Raphael croaked a whisper from his throat. ‘Get on with it. Are you not hungry? You are welcome to feast on me but I am wasted bones and will not fill the likes of you.’

The snake had all but covered Raphael’s bony body and the boy waited for the crushing, fearing no pain.



Divided Realms is available on Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A8YTHNE


Catherine lives in the UK and started writing quite late in life as she is now a grandma. This is the first book she’s written and is presently working on Book 2.  She am never without a book to read, and she reads mainly Fantasy Adventure, which inspired her to create her own world with all her favourite creatures and weave them into an epic tale.

Be sure to check out Catherine’s blog at http://onewomansquestuk.blogspot.co.uk/

A New Release from LC Cooper – Man Cave

As a fan of Ms. Cooper’s work, I had to share this with you

A follower and an introvert, Adam is content accepting whatever life throws at him. Eric, Adam’s gregarious best friend, talks Adam into a different birthday present, one that proves to be more than a distraction from life’s dramas. Although seasoned outdoorsmen, neither man is prepared for what they uncover.

Who can help them? Who can they trust? Frequent dangers they face possess the power to consume their very souls. Adam and Eric must grow together if they are to survive. Will Adam become the man he only dreamed of being? If not, what awaits them in “Man Cave” will most certainly destroy them.


You can read it for free on her blog (links to follow) or for 2.99 you can download it from Smashwords to your device of choice and not be chained to the computer to read it.

Another one for my TBR list!

To Finish a Quilt by Grant Staley

Today’s excerpt is from the  novel To Finish a Quilt by Grant Staley 


To Finish a Quilt

‘Why did I deserve that abuse? What indecency did I have that made you turn away from me when I called?’

She [Eunice] had asked that very question tens of times almost every day for over two decades. She waited for God to speak to her, but she heard no reply so she searched within her memories for a cause. The same minor trespasses came to mind: a trivial curse when she bumped her knee on a pew, an unkind word to her grandmother, lying to her brother Tommy. Those were not real answers to her question so it was probably as her father had said in his last words to her. Somehow, she had failed God with the deep stains she wore.

That night when she was sixteen, she had been curled up on the bed wearing her long white nightgown with flowers embroidered around the neck, praying with all her might that her father might just go on to bed without another sloppy conversation. The periods of icy silence and cutting jabs between her mother and him had been bad enough, but by that point, talking with a drunk had become intolerable without disgust-soaked words filling her voice. Those prayers had been in vain.

The twenty-one year old echoes of her father bumping his way up the staircase filled her with a medley of hate, shame, and guilt. The sobbing and pain, the stench of alcohol, and the taste of blood inside her lip were still as real as that night when her pale eyes had felt about to burst from their orbits as if the pressure of her imprisoned screams were pushing them out. As always, she decided that desire was not on her bastard father’s mind that night. It was punishment.

More than punishment, her father was a first taste of what men really were. Her brother, who had deserted the family, and her husband, who like all men could not help himself around loose women, confirmed the message of that awful lesson even if they had never assaulted her physically. Her brother’s emotional abandonment had concluded with irreparable and devastating consequences. There was nothing that would rectify what he had done. Her husband’s throwing her over for an infant; however, was a grievance she would not permit. Something must change the course of his infatuation. She needed to prevail this time.

That damn baby was making more noise. Without more of a true-ringing answer to the question of why she had suffered so at the hands of men, she walked away from the bedroom, her head throbbing with every step and every cry of the baby.

Halfway down the hallway, she paused to take in the commanding panorama from high above the San Gabriel Valley. She loved this house, the prestigious address, and the outlook of the city that always gave her a sense of accomplishment. But, the baby’s cry broke the spell an instant later, causing her to sigh before she stole into her daughter’s room.

She walked through the full moon’s blue light that filled the nursery and looked down into the crib. The child kicked her chubby legs in gleeful anticipation, and her mouth arced into a pudgy heart that cooed her welcome. The child had begun to recognize her over a month ago, and she took that as a sign of intelligence. This child would be clever, probably not as smart as the son but crafty and, as a girl, able to manipulate her father.

Watching the child wriggle in its crib, she felt the night’s anger and disgust rise again. She hated this baby. She could right that wrong. It was all in her power. Jules would be sad for a while, but he would get over the loss. She would be there to help him through the pain. Babies die in their sleep all the time; she knew that to be true.

Julie started to fuss again and seemed about to let out a cry. Eunice bent over to caress the tiny, buttery face with the back of her hand. Solemnly she took the pillow from under the child’s head.

“Shhh, there there,” she whispered as she placed the pillow over the baby’s face and pressed it down along her ears.

There were sounds, painful ones that brought back her own vain pleas from long ago, but she could learn to live with those too. The infant’s legs started to dart frantically in every direction. Seconds dragged by as Eunice looked out the window.

How much longer could this take, she asked herself as the convulsions continued. She heard a click and decided it was the crib uttering a final creak.

“Mom?” she heard a second later and flinched.

Glancing out of the corner of her eye, she saw her son Gary slumped on the doorframe behind her. His red plaid pajamas hung from his lean five-year-old body.

Without hesitation, Eunice slid the pillow away, and the baby started to bawl. She spun in Gary’s direction and stomped her way close to him.

“Damn it Gary. See what you’ve done?  I almost had her down, but you’ve ruined that.”

The boy, recoiling away from her, said, “I was having a bad dream.”

“And what can I do about that?”

Gary brought a hand to his mouth and started to gnaw on his thumbnail. He turned back to his room.

“Nothing, I guess.”


Grant, originally from California, lives in the Auckland suburb of St. Heliers with his wife and their two dogs. He is an avid sailor, musician, cyclist, and writer.

 His first novel To Finish A Quilt is a story of a young woman’s unfathomable hurt, the way it influences others around her, and how two men central to her life reach resolution and peace. A second novel is in progress for release in late 2013. Learn more and how to purchase at www.grantstaley.com

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