Tag Archives: OWI Blog Tours

Sundowners by R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill has a new MM paranormal romance out: Sundowners. And there’s a giveaway.

Vampire Creed Lowell drifts from town to town working with the elderly as a night nurse and looking to avenge his harrowing past. His youth and vitality make him a favorite of his patients and his gifts bring them peace. At long last he’s arrived in the place where he hopes to find the truth about those who betrayed him…but first he finds an unexpected love with a man who might understand him—or end him.

Grad student Roman San Angelo is struggling to handle his courses, teaching schedule, and research for his dissertation on an obscure cult. He spends every spare moment with his beloved yet demanding grandmother Frances who’s recently moved to an assisted living facility—and he’s fascinated by her night nurse, who is able to bring out the inner light which had faded during her battle with dementia. Something about Creed doesn’t add up, however, Roman finds himself fighting an undeniable attraction. His concerns multiply when Roman discovers a connection between Creed and a bizarre series of vampire-wannabe assaults in the area. A moment of weakness leads to a night of passion between them, and the promise of something more, and yet Roman can’t shake his concern that Creed is not what he seems.

Creed knows better than to bring a mortal into his world, even one who could help him find the link between the pack of violent vampires preying on the people of Santa Cruz and Creed’s past. When he discovers Creed’s secret, Roman is ready to step outside his comfort zone and accept everything a life with a vampire entails, and when Creed disappears, Roman will go to the ends of the earth to find the man who brought the light back to his grandmother and the warmth back to his own heart.

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

R.L. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Creed

January

“Well, Mr. Lowell, I think we have everything we need. Your references all check out, and you passed your background check. Can you start on Friday?”

What a relief! I smiled and leaned against the wall of my dingy hotel room. Thank goodness for excellent references. I inhaled the combination mildew/chlorine smell caused by the permanent dampness from the ocean and the indoor swimming pool below my room, glad . This was the break I needed, or my current accommodations would soon go from bad to worse.

“Thank you, yes. What time does the evening shift start?” I kept my fingers crossed while I waited for the answer.

“Six o’clock. Just come to the front desk and our evening supervisor will get you set up. Lexi’s great. She’ll show you the ropes.”

“Wonderful. Thank you for this opportunity.”

“We should be thanking you, Mr. Lowell. You’re overqualified for the position, and we’ve had a difficult time keeping our evening staff. I hope this works out for the both of us.”

I thanked Yvonne, the Human Resources director, once more before disconnecting. Then the victory dance commenced.

“Did you hear that, Rhonda? We’re in!”

My red Doberman rested her jaw on her paws and made an old lady noise, indicating that she’d rather be napping than dancing.

I would not be thwarted, however. I danced a West Side Story routine across the room to the kitchenette and reached into the fridge with panache. There was one last bag of A-positive that I’d been sipping on since arriving in Santa Cruz, and now I could finish it off since I’d have a steady supply in just two days’ time. Not that I needed much—especially not when I was working—but it was important to never let my energy stores deplete. It affected my judgement and my ability to do the work that was so desperately needed.

I did a spin and a box step before kicking my leg out, and throwing my arms back in a layout. Hopefully I’d find a patient who knew the old dances at Puesta Del Sol, my new place of employment. They were the most fun to work with.

I reached into my lone duffel bag, which contained seven sets of scrubs, a suit, three white t-shirts, a pair of jeans, a Harvard hoodie, two pairs of shoes, and a small photo album that contained cherished pictures of my parents and younger siblings. The rest of my belongings and resources were hidden in pre-paid storage facilities around the country for when I got desperate…or had to run.

My family was all gone now. My little sister was the last, and she’d passed away four months ago according to the hometown newspaper in Macon County, Georgia. I read every copy that I could get ahold of through the local libraries. The internet had been such a great invention. Even though I hadn’t been home in nearly forty years, I’d managed to keep tabs on everyone. They’d all lived mostly happy, satisfying lives and died of natural causes at advanced ages, which was the best I could have hoped for.

But now that I had no worry of repercussions for my family, I could finally seek out the truth.

Puesta Del Sol was hopefully the end of the line. The last assisted-living home where I’d worked in Albuquerque had led me here, to Santa Cruz, California. “Go west, young man,” turned out to be the advice I’d needed all along.

I was determined to find those responsible for sending me on this decades-long exile. It wouldn’t be long now. It was time to set things straight, and it seemed fitting to be back near where it all started.

March 2019

Two months later, the trail of promising leads had gone cold. Still, I loved my new life in California. I was surrounded by a competent and diverse staff at Puesta Del Sol that knew how to run a place of healing and hope with patients who were happy and well cared for. And I loved Santa Cruz. It was almost enough to make me consider letting go of the past.

What a great place for a guy like me. It was easy to fit into the college town that was also a magnet for transients, tourists, and folks who were followers of alternative lifestyles. Not only were there practitioners of Eastern religions and schools of thought, but also those who claimed to be creatures of the night, a holdover from the vampire craze that swept the area after a hit movie in the ’80s made them cool. I occasionally even found folks who didn’t mind a little role play.

My love of music meant I was a frequent guest of The Catalyst, a large music venue, bar, and eatery located downtown that drew fans from all over the Bay Area. One night they’d feature punk, the next rap, and sometimes even classic rock bands made their way to the club.

Tonight was a perfect opportunity to blend in as a lineup of alternative bands from the eighties was playing. I’d worn my black suit, skinny tie, and black Dr. Martens. I’d even slicked my dark auburn hair back and donned black eyeliner for the hell of it, the makeup highlighting my eyes, so blue they made people stop and stare. Of course, the rest of the package could also be to blame for that. My pale, freckled skin fit the role of a night walker perfectly to round out the look.

I made my way through the crowd to the bar and ordered a beer. A willing playmate soon appeared, and the game was on.

The young man, dressed in a velvet waistcoat and ruffled poet’s shirt, saw me approach the bar and immediately perked up. I took a swig of my beer and nodded at the Goth. When I moved away from the bar, I felt him at my back as I headed to a dark corner. Once there, I leaned against the wall and waited.

The young man approached with a sly smile, and I took it as an invitation. I reached for his shoulder, turned him around slowly, and pulled him back against my chest, enjoying the way his body fit against mine.

“I have your permission?” I whispered in the young man’s ear. “I promise you’ll enjoy it.”

The young man turned to face me and his eyes widened in surprise. “Here?”

I smiled at him and ran a finger down his neck, enjoying the way he shivered. The energy from his excitement would have been enough to nourish me, but I was feeling greedy tonight.

“Yeah, just um, be safe about it.”

I bathed him in a wave of calm. The manipulation of energy was effortless for me now. “You’re in good hands, my friend.” I turned him around and stopped him when he went to loosen his belt. “Relax, I’ve got you.”

I slid his long curly blond hair to the side. I had ways of making the experience pleasurable, so I poured energy into giving this guy one helluva good time, one he’d remember for years to come. He just wouldn’t remember that a vampire sank his teeth gently into his neck and took sustenance from his body.

Give unto them what they require.

Take only what you need to survive.

I would never forget what I’d been taught.

“Blessed be.”

After a few sips, I felt my playmate shudder against me and let out a satisfied moan. A few more pulls and his body tensed, gasped, and shuddered once more. It was nice to know I hadn’t lost my touch.

It had been a long time since I’d chanced feeding in public, but I felt safe here. Santa Cruz had welcomed me with open arms, and I wanted to stay.

The young man raised his arm and cupped the back of my head. He pressed his ass back against me, and I knew it was time to end this tryst.

“Thank you,” I whispered against his ear, and then pressed a kiss to his neck.

“I should be thanking you,” the guy said. “What’s your name?”

I disappeared into the crowd before the young man turned to look, and I was out of the club before he could wonder what happened.

I rarely drank blood—it was an infrequent need to maintain my existence as long as I had plenty of human energy to manipulate—and I always made sure my partner enjoyed it. But the act often left me feeling…empty. I worked hard to help others live a more satisfying life, and after all this time, I sometimes resented that I couldn’t pursue happiness of my own. I would have loved to take that young man home and enjoy more than just an Exchange. Someday I would find…someone. But not until it was safe. Not until I’d done what I came here to do.


Author Bio

“With a strong plot, an expertly crafted cast of supporting characters, and deep empathy, Merrill’s novel will keep readers hooked.” —Publishers Weekly review of Typhoon Toby.

Whether she’s writing contemporary romance featuring quirky and relatable characters or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, R.L. Merrill loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after. Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, and a Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.

She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and pens horror-inspired music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net.

You can find her connecting with readers on social media, advocating for America’s youth, raising two brilliant kids, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Stay Tuned for more…

Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/rochellerlmerrill

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828914.R_L_Merrill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/r-l-merrill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R-L-Merrill/e/B00PI6Q1LI

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Blog Tour: Higher by Roz Alexander

Higher - Roz Alexander

Roz Alexander has a new FF holiday romance out: Higher. And there’s a Giveaway.

Where do dreams go to wait?

Tali Blue is definitely going back to finish her last semester of rabbinical school…eventually. When she moved back to her hometown seven years ago to help her grandparents raise her younger sisters, she planned on it being temporary. Now though, she has a stable job and a stable life surrounded by the people she’s known forever. It’s all just fine – and then there’s the incredibly annoying surprise of Maple.

Maple never meant to be successful. She just wanted to make weird art and practice her Ladino. And just like that, 15 years of adulthood has built a solid career, a great reputation as an art instructor, and a lackluster love life. It doesn’t help that she’s been spending all her free time consumed with making it as a Sephardic Jew into the Jewish art world that never seems to have space for her. And it definitely doesn’t help that she’s strictly a butch-for-butch queer. And then comes a sex goddess in the form of short, chunky, smoking hot, and incredibly nervous, butch, Tali Blue.

When Tali’s love of family, Maple’s art ambitions, and a Rosh Hashanah effort to #savethebees force these two together, both of them may learn that the only way out is up, together. This new year the honey is dripping on a lot more than apples. Higher is a steamy, butch-for-butch, grump-sunshine sapphic romance about what happens when you choose to take your dreams higher.

About the Series:

This entire Hot for the Holidays series is about queer Jewish people (and the people who love them) falling in love and having hot, explicit sex that can be read in any order and all year round.

Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Roz is giving away a $10 bookshop.org gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47250/?


Excerpt

Higher meme

Forty-five minutes later Tali was done ha-cha-cha-ing down the hot oatmeal, scrubbing every inch of her body, and blow drying her short hair into something resembling a nice coif. She exited the bathroom into her bedroom, not unlocking the bathroom door into Anna’s room. Let her have to walk around as payback! It was a holdover from childhood when Beth and Anna played pranks on each other and Tali.

She was about to whip off the towel and dive into her closet for an outfit when she realized Maple was sitting on her bed. Looking at her.

She gripped the towel tighter, conscious of how it barely met across her hips. “What are you doing in here!”

“Want me to avert my gaze?” Maple’s tone was pure hunger, even while a teasing glint shone in her eyes.

“Why are you always early to everything? It’s ridiculous! Did Anna send you up?”

“Why are you always so late? And, yes. Both of your sisters did. I’m sure they’ll find this amusing that I made it just in time.” She stood and took a step toward Tali, who backed up, her shoulders and ass meeting the doorframe. “You don’t look embarrassed though, so maybe you’re as amused.”

“It’s a towel, why would I be embarrassed?” Tali swallowed around a surprising lump in her throat. And had it suddenly gotten much warmer in the room? She glanced over to double check she’d remembered to close the windows that morning. Yep, shut tight. The AC must be off or something.

“What is this look then? Is it your tell?” Maple was practically purring, a sound Tali didn’t realize humans were capable of until that moment.

“I’m great at poker. No tells here.” But her voice was growing faint, which indeed seemed to be a tell all on its own.

“No? What about me?” Maple was almost on top of her now, and Tali was torn between putting a hand out to stop her, and gripping her floral button-up to pull her closer. So many of their conversations took place over the phone and through text. Having her there, in front of her, reminded her how handsome and tall she was. How strong her arms looked. How irritating that smirk was. “If I wanted to kiss you, for example. What would my tell be?”

“Uh.” Tali felt herself at a crossroads. Maybe one they’d been at for some time. “You lick your lip.”

Maple startled at that, the smooth top energy sliding away for a moment while she considered that information. “In a sexy way?”

And here was the moment Tali knew it was up to her to choose what path they’d take. She wasn’t sure how to move forward in either direction, so she chose honesty. “Yes.”

Maple’s smile was staggering before it turned dangerous. She placed a hand on the wall above Tali’s shoulder and leaned in until they were a whisper apart. And then she slid her tongue slowly across her bottom lip, staring into Tali’s eyes.

“Yes,” was all Tali could manage. Yes, like that. Yes, please kiss me. Yes, I want this. Yes, yes, yes.

Maple’s other hand slid up the side of the towel, reaching the top and tucking her fingers under its edge. The look she gave Tali turned to one seeking permission. And Tali was going to give it, was going to enthusiastically consent to whatever came next, was going to…

“TALI!” Beth shouted as she swung the bedroom door open. “You locked the go—”

Tali moved faster than she could ever remember moving in her life. She meant to spin back into the bathroom and slam the door behind her, but Maple’s hand was still tucked into the towel.

So, instead, she pulled herself free of the fabric, falling naked onto the cool blue tile. Maple, eyes round as the moon, spun away from her, holding up the towel to block the sight from Beth while she managed to move forward and shut the door with her foot.

Forget every embarrassing moment before this. This is how I die of embarrassment. There’s no coming back from this. Beth will literally never let me live this down. And Maple…

Tali groaned and rolled around on the floor helplessly. She was stuck in here without her towel and with no clothing. Maybe she’d take up sewing and emerge one day in a beautiful button-up and slacks made out of the Moomins shower curtain.


Author Bio

Roz Alexander

They are a physically/progressively disabled, white, trans person with ADHD and have more interests than time in the day. You can find them spoiling their three terrible cat-beasts; connecting to their Jewish culture through moon-worship, plantcraft, and cooking traditions; and making weird art when they’re not writing or stewarding a native pollinator garden with their beshert.

Author Website: www.rozalexander.com

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritesRoz

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rozalexanderbooks/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21096037.Roz_Alexander

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Roz-Alexander/e/B0917ZWFZ2

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Blog Tour: Daisy’s Adventures in Love (Excerpt + Giveaway)

Daisy's Adventures in Love - Nikki Sitch

Daisy Sitch has a new MF romance with a strong trans sub arc, Love, Lust & WTF?!! book two: Daisy’s Adventures in Love. And there’s a giveaway.

Daisy’s Adventures in Love picks up where Love, Lust & WTF left off. Daisy’s finally found her match. Or has she? Is Brad really the one? And is Daisy ready for the surprising new challenges that a larger family might bring her?

Experience Daisy’s adventures, diving into love, family and fun. Daisy’s heart is on fire, for her girls, for Brad and for his kids. But as Daisy’s family potentially grows bigger, new unsettling—even terrifying—challenges arise. Daisy and Brad find themselves on a tightrope- one in which falling may mean the loss of one of their children. When you love more, you have more to lose.

To triumph, Daisy must dive deeper into not only love, but diversity, gender issues, transphobia, sexuality struggles, acceptance and the true meaning of motherhood. Luckily Daisy and Brad are not alone. Supported by a diverse cast of friends, including Kyle a psychologist who specializes in LGBTQ+ youth and family counselling, they chart a new-bigger and less predictable- life together.

Opportunities for growth abound. Kids growing and changing like crazy, love is anything but smooth and simple. Daisy’s gal pal chats bring her back to the crazy world of dating, a time she wants to avoid like the plague.

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Nikki is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47249/?


Excerpt

Brad

My fishing trip was great. Much-needed time away, just me and my buddies at the lake. On my way home, I picked up Kari and Kris from their mom’s. I was exhausted from the trip but could tell immediately that something was up with Kari. And it was big. She had a look about her. Tight. Scared. Held in.

When she asked if we could chat one-on-one tonight, I said, “Sure thing, sweetie, happy to chat with you about anything.”

But I wondered what it was I’d been missing. And for how long.

For some reason, my mind went to a video I’d watched of some daredevil hippie-type dude on a tightrope—no, a slackline—strung between two towering rock pillars.

Well, that’s a weird image. Why would that come to mind?

After supper, Kris asked to watch a movie. I got him all set up in the bonus room so Kari and I could chat in relative privacy. “Dad, I’m nervous talking to you about this, but I need to do it NOW. I’ve waited long enough. I’m just going to blurt it out. You can ask questions after.”

I nodded. I hadn’t always been good at, well, just listening. But funny how important it can be. Something told me it was one of those times to close my mouth and open my ears. My baby girl had something important to share with me.

Just listen.

Kari took a deep breath and exhaled, “Here goes nothing. I’m a pansexual transboy.” Silence. I waited.

Shocked, but desperately trying not to show it.

Kari blew out another huge breath and added, “There I said it.”

A what?

I sat very still. Attempting to process what I’d just heard. A feather could have knocked me over. Nothing could have prepared me for this. My brain was trying to process but I didn’t even know where to start. I limited knowledge about either word Kari had muttered.

Kari continued, “I know this is coming at you fast. I’ve researched and soul-searched and internalized this over the past few years. I’ve never felt right as a girl. It always felt wrong. I felt

awkward. It just took me a while to figure out what felt right. And before you ask, no, this isn’t a phase. The reality is: I am a transboy.”

I nodded, playing for time.

The video came back to me then, an overpowering image and feeling. The slackline, only it was me that was on the tightrope. I was balancing precariously over a steep faced gorge, with nothing but air and sharp rocks below.

I had so many questions. I felt so much love for my oldest child right now, lots of confusion, and I just wanted to hold on to my not-so-little girl.

I struggled for balance.

I’d heard the terms before, I guess, but I didn’t really know what they meant.

But I could feel the breeze. The air flowing over me, high on that slackline. I couldn’t panic there. I couldn’t lose my cool or pretend what was happening to my daughter was an affront to me. An affront at all. It wasn’t about me—it was about her, and if I reacted wrong and lost my balance, maybe it wouldn’t be me that fell—it would be her dropping so far, end over end, flailing onto the sharp and unsympathetic rocks so far below.

What do I do?

But some instinctive part of me knew what to do. I folded her into my arms, next to my heart, where she belonged. Always. I felt her try to pull away, but I wasn’t ready to let her go, and I pulled her in closer for another minute before releasing her.

“Dad, you haven’t said anything. What are you feeling?” Kari whispered.

Holding her, I felt my balance coming back. I was scared, still. Scared for her. But I knew something at that moment.

“We aren’t on a tightrope,” I said.

“What?” she asked.

Oops, that was my outside voice. That must’ve sounded extremely weird to her.

“Sorry sweetie, I’m a bit shell shocked. But we’re going to be fine.”

I didn’t know that. Some part of me knew that peril surrounded us—surrounded her, who I would’ve gladly fallen off any cliff to save, but I also knew that it wouldn’t be an act of physical bravery on my part that would help. It would be something else.

Summoning that something else, I said, “I want to be respectful in my response. It’s a lot to take in all at once. But I want you to know that I love you and I’m here to support you through anything and everything, always.” I exhaled, clearly understanding that things had changed in a big way. Not knowing quite what to do. I stared at my girl sitting on the couch. I heard the birds chirping outside. Nothing had changed for them. “How do I support you, Kari? What do you need from me?”

Kari released the air she’d been holding in, and a small smile touched the corners of her lips. “Ok, there are a few things I need from you right now: I would like you to start calling me Carson, not Kari. Also, use the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘he’. I know this will take some getting used to, but I’d appreciate it if you’d start trying immediately. I’ve closed the door on Kari; she’s gone.”

Gone? What do you mean gone? You’re sitting right here. You’re Kari, but you’re not.

My brain was scrambling, trying to find some semblance of logic and organization. I was grasping at straws and failing miserably.

I felt the air again. The high cliffs and the endless fall below. I was back on the slackline. I knew I shouldn’t say anything until the swirling stopped.

I’m not on a tightrope. We’re not on a tightrope.

If Kari was gone, I now had Carson.


Author Bio

Nikki Sitch is a mom, volunteer coach, landman, athlete, and more recently, she discovererd her passion as a writer. A Land Negotiator in the Energy Industry by day, Nikki fills her off hours, when not writing, with things she loves to do: spend time with family and friends, swim, bike, rollerblade, read, travel, golf, and walk.

Nikki wrote Daisy’s Adventures in Love, her second book, while living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her two boys and one dog.

Daisy’s Adventures in Love is Nikki’s second book and is a continuation from Love, Lust and WTF – Daisy’s Dating Adventures. Stay tuned for book three, picking up Daisy’s adventures where Daisy’s Adventures in Love leaves off.

Author Website: https://nikkisitch.ca

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/nsitch/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/nikkisitchauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/NikkiSitch

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nik6ix/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/22078002.Nikki_Sitch

Author Amazon: https://Amazon.com/author/nikkisitch

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Herald’s Call by Jaymie Wagner Excerpt & Giveaway (OWI Blog Tours)

Herald's Call - Jaymie Wagner

Jaymie Wagner has a new FFF urban fantasy out, Sing For Me book 3: Herald’s Call. And there’s a giveaway.

Woe to the wolf who dares to call

With unworthy hearts lest darkness fall

Dour note this horn will play

The hounds shall rise and wolves shall bay

Through the horn Herne shall command

By blood of the Hunt and a worthy hand!

It is said that long ago Herne, the god of the Hunt, could use his Horn to make wolves obey his commands. A legend that Amy Oakley, Alpha of the Howlers pack, learned as a child and stopped believing in long before her first change beneath the full moon.

After spending three years fighting for her lovers and packmates’ right to live among the werewolves of Londinium, all she wants is a chance to breathe, go back to running her pub, and never see the manipulative Marcel Charron again.

As an ancient prophecy begins to unfold, can Amy and the Howlers find the Horn of Herne and keep it out of Marcel’s hands, or will his web of schemes and plots spell doom for their pack and the rest of London’s werewolves?

Universal Buy Link

About the Series:

When Leah Corbyn was bitten on her mail route by a dog, she expected to go to the hospital for some stitches, a few days of medical leave, and for life to go on.

She had no idea that two weeks later she would become a werewolf under the full moon, or spend the next year trying to hide her ‘condition’, but after meeting and dating fellow werewolf Amy Oakley, it wasn’t long before she started to find an entire community in the shadows of London.

Surrounded by unexpected friends and dangerous enemies, Amy, Leah, and their packmate Amélie must fight to make a place for themselves, unaware that the conditions of an ancient prophecy are being met…


Giveaway

Jaymie is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47247/?


Excerpt

Herald's Call banner

Leah swallowed hard, and her voice was a hushed, raspy whisper. “Do you think…I mean…if my mum was a werewolf and she knew I wasn’t going to be. Could that be why she got rid of me?”

“Oh,” Amy breathed as she pulled Leah into a hug. “Oh, pup.”

“I mean…” Leah shook her head, tears starting to well in her eyes. “I never really knew anything. Where I came from. Why I was abandoned. Nobody even knows who gave me up. They just found me like a lost wallet!” She shuddered in Amy’s arms, tears running down her face.

“I finally learned something about where I came from and suddenly I wish I hadn’t!”

Abigail sat down slowly. “Leah,” she said in her most kind but firm doctor’s voice. “I can’t speak to why your parents made that decision. I wish I could. What I can tell you is that mitochondrial DNA takes a very long time to change from generation to generation, and the fact that you did not possess the full were sequences until you were turned suggests that it was a fairly distant ancestor. Five or six generations, easily.”

She waited for Leah to meet her eyes before she concluded: “Whatever their reasons, this was not one of them.”

Leah gave a sniff and dried her eyes with the back of her hand as she sat up. “That’s…that helps. Thanks, Abby.”

“Of course.” Abigail smiled at all of them before going back to the papers. “So – as I said, we don’t know as much, medically, as we would like about Turning. But this does suggest a few things to me. For one – it may explain part of why you survived the process, particularly with a diet that was…not terribly conducive to your new existence.”

That got a weak laugh out of Leah, and Amélie smiled with relief. If she could laugh…it was a good sign. “So – you think that explains my eyes, too?”

“It would seem so,” Abigail agreed with a nod. “I am not certain why it took so long to express, but my theory is that some of the latent werewolf traits you carry finally began to show through.”

Leah’s lips pulled into a slight frown. “Could that be part of why I’m a different sort of wolf than whoever turned me?”

Abigail nodded again. “Likely, yes.”

Amy reached up to lightly scratch at Leah’s scalp as she examined the different sets of results. “Does that explain Leah’s ear, too?”

Abigail shook her head and went back to the first chart. “The trait that affects the development of cartilage in the ear is an autosomal one. It most likely came from the were who bit you.”

Amélie looked down at the results again, and suddenly felt like she’d been given the last piece of a puzzle.

No one has been able to find the wolf who bit Leah…but they were assuming it was a were who lived in England.

Leah said the ‘dog’ who attacked her had a blonde and pale grey coat.

Marcel knew Leah was Turned.

Marcel knew Leah had no family.

Marcel knew where the Howl was.

Leah never spoke to Marcel at the trial, and Amy would not have told him anything about Leah or herself. If the records from Leah’s trial were sealed, there is no way he should have known any of the things he tried to use against us.

Marcel always said his ears drooped because of an old injury from a fight…but Marcel lied about almost everything.

Her chest felt tight as the facts began to add up.

Marcel…

Marcel is a liar.

Her mouth felt dry as she looked up. “Abigail?”

Everyone turned to look at her, and Amélie didn’t try to hide the dread and shock she felt.

“I know who Turned Leah.”


Author Bio

Herald's Call - Jaymie Wagner

Jaymie Wagner is a queer, trans, polyamorous author who lives in the Twin Cities with her cats and an alarming collection of tiny giant robots.

She has been published in several anthologies, short story collections, and posts her “Fractured Fantasies” twitter micro-stories where she explores different ideas and kinks.

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jaymie.wagner.98/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/JaymieDWagner

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/JaymieDWagner

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21846389.Jaymie_Wagner

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/jaymie-wagner/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B09HF3P2ZC

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She’s the One Who Won’t Behave by S.R. Cronin Tour Blast

I am so beyond thrilled to share this amazing upcoming book, “She’s the One Who Won’t Behave” by author S.R. Cronin, as part of OWI’s latest blog tour. Check out this amazing read and grab your copy today!

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She's the One Who Won't Behave

S.R. Cronin has a new fantasy book out, The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters book 6: She’s the One Who Won’t Behave. And there’s a giveaway!

Gypsum, the sixth of seven sisters, has always been a rebel. Yet no one thought she would go so far as to join the reczavy, a group living in tents on the edge of the desert and known for their sexual promiscuity and playful ways.

But as the date of the Mongols’ return draws near, Ilarians of all types must work together if they are to have any hope of surviving. And the reczavy, for all of their odd ways, do have plenty of tricks up their sleeves. Well, up their sleeves whenever they are bothering to wear clothes, that is.

Gypsum is touched when her oldest sister Ryalgar comes to call, and brings an olive branch with her. Ryalgar recognizes that the reczavy have as much to lose as anyone, and as much to contribute. Will Gypsum accept a key role in the plan to stop the invasion? Of course she will.

Unfortunately, her playmates don’t all feel the same sense of urgency. Many would rather simply enjoy the time they have left. A few claim to be allergic to long term planning. And some are too busy with their own poorly-timed plans to overthrow the government Ilari already has.

Good thing needlepoint is the one traditional skill at which Gypsum has always excelled. She will need to thread a fine needle in order to coax this recalcitrant group into becoming life-saving warriors of a very different kind.

About the Series:

People ask me what The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters are like. I’d say its Little Women acting like The Seven Samurai in Brigadoon with hints of Sex and the City.

The series consists of seven short companion novels. Each tells the personal story of one of seven radically different sisters in the 1200s as they prepare for an invasion of their realm. These historical fantasy/alternate history books can be enjoyed as stand-alone novels, but together they tell the full story of how Ilari survived.

Which sister saved the realm? That will depend on who you ask.

How do they save it? Each sister will offer you surprising information on why this didn’t go as planned.

Warnings: references to non-consensual sex in the past.

Universal Buy Link | Amazon | Goodreads


Giveaway

S.R. is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

She's the One Who Won't Behave meme

“What’s your name?”

I knew every boy who went to my school and the smiling young man asking me the question was not one of them. He’d joined our circle of tidzys after the others arrived, standing around the fire with us as we sought a partner for the holiday celebration. He’d already introduced himself to several young women. Whatever he murmured incited giggles and a few unmistakable wiggles as well.

When he approached me, these women turned their wide eyes away from his face to give me a narrowed-eye stare of warning. I didn’t understand why. His lighter hair and tanned country physique weren’t that special, although he did have the confidence that makes everyone seem more attractive. And enough an indifference to make a young woman willing to do much to impress him.

I didn’t play games like that.

My first instinct was to make up a ridiculous name. Duck Piss came to mind. Then I decided the name my family had stuck me with was probably ridiculous enough.

“Gypsum. My name is Gypsum.”

“Isn’t that some ugly grey rock?” he asked.

“Yup. It was going to be that or Duck Piss, so I guess I lucked out.”

I turned away from him, and focused my gaze on several attractive men crouching in front of the fire, sharing laughter and ale. As I said, I don’t like stupid games or the men who play them.

“My name is Sheep Scump. Nice to meet you.”

I turned back. “Well, at least you play along.”

“Oh, I play along very well.”

Really?

“So what are you doing here? You got tired of playing with the tidzys over at your own school?”

“No. My school got tired of me. Or rather they tired of my attempts at humor and asked me to seek education elsewhere. I start classes here after the holiday.”

I don’t know why I asked the next question.

“Do your parents know?”

He winced.

“They barely knew which school I was at then.”

“Oh.” Quite different than my overinvolved parents. “What did you do to get kicked out?”

He slipped an arm around my waist and in one slick move he turned the two of us away from the fire.

“I’ve a jug of particularly fine red dinner wine waiting in my saddle bag. I hoped I’d find someone worth sharing it with. Would you care to walk over to the stables while I tell you of my horrendous crimes?”

I liked the feel of him. His smell. Okay, I even liked the undercurrent of hurt under his bravado. And I liked the promise of something better to drink than the cheap ale being handed out around the fire.

“Sure. Let’s walk, talk, and see where this goes.”

He ran his hand up my side and gave my breast a friendly squeeze. I didn’t have much to offer in that area, but he didn’t seem to care.

I put my hand on his butt and squeezed back.

We both knew exactly where this was going.


Author Bio

AUTHOR PHOTO - She's the One Who Won't Behave - S.R. Cronin

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

She’s made a lot of stops along the way to writing these novels. She’s lived in seven cities, visited forty-six countries, and worked as a waitress, technical writer, and geophysicist. Although she’s lost several beloved cats on her journey, she’s been lucky enough to gain a husband and three kids who love her despite how odd she is.

Today she lives and writes in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she also answers a hot-line, volunteers for SFWA, and plans her future travels.

Author Website: https://troublesome7sisters.xyz/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/sherrie.cronin/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/46Ascending

Author Twitter: Twitter: https://twitter.com/cinnabar01

Author Instagram: Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/s.r.cronin/

Author Goodreads: Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/5805814.Sherrie_Cronin

Author Amazon: Amazon: www.amazon.com/Sherrie-Cronin/e/B007FRMO9Q

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New Life in Autumn by Michael G. Williams Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A newly dead detective tries to find a group of missing children and solve the mysteries of the floating city of Autumn’s long-lost history in author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn”. 

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The Synopsis

RETURN TO THE MEAN STREETS OF AUTUMN

Valerius Bakhoum is dead and buried.

Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent.

Unsure what to do with himself—and of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappeared from back alleys and other hiding places more than anyone realized. Street kids even had a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal urchins away in the night.

With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery: who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know Valerius is still alive?

Stalk the shadows of Autumn’s hidden places by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light on secrets both sacred and profane, ones with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

New Life in Autumn is the sequel to the Manly Wade Wellman Award-winning A Fall in Autumn.

The Review

What immediately struck me about this novel was just how much the setting of this floating city called Autumn felt so alive on the page. A beautiful blend of dystopian sci-fi meets fantasy and hard-boiled detective mysteries, the author found a way to make the city itself feel like a character all its own. The intrigue and drama that the author’s narrative brought forth kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.

The character growth of this narrative was such an engaging aspect of the story. The protagonist was so versatile and complex, both emoting the tough-as-nails attitude one expects of a seasoned detective and showing the raw emotions and shock of experiencing death and rebirth all at once. The LGBTQ-forward romance and inspired character development made this story shine brightly as well, making for a rich and diverse dystopian read.

The Verdict

Gripping, captivating, and entertaining, author Michael G. Williams’s “New Life in Autumn” is a must-read novel! The action and mystery surrounding this story feel both classic and yet futuristic all at once, and the rich character development, both the protagonist and the city, in particular, make for an emotionally engaging and mind-blowing hook that keeps us readers invested in this series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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A New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams has a new gay sci-fi mystery out, Books of Autumn book 2: A New Life in Autumn. And there’s a giveaway!

THE HARDEST PART OF DYING IS DECIDING HOW TO PASS THE TIME

Valerius Bakhoum died and kept no living. Now he can walk the streets of his city with a new face and a new name and finally feel a little bit respected. Too bad he’s still flat broke and behind on the rent. Unsure what to do with himself—and perhaps even of who he is—Valerius resumes his career as a detective by taking up the oldest case in his files: where do the children go?

Throughout his own youth on the streets of Autumn, last of the Great Flying Cities, Valerius knew his fellow runaways disappear from back alleys and other hiding places more than people realize. Street kids even have a myth to explain it: the Gotchas, who steal them away in the night. With nothing but time on his hands, Valerius dives in head-first to settle the question once and for all and runs smack into a more pressing mystery:

Who killed one of Valerius’ former lovers?

And do they know he’s still alive?

Return to the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius Bakhoum’s side as he shines a light into shadowy corners and finds secrets both sacred and profane with shockingly personal connections to who he was—and who he might become.

Warnings: This book does involve mild violence, capture and impending torture by antagonists, and discussion of the murder of children.

About the Series:

What would you do if you found yourself free at last–and all alone–in the sin-drenched paradise you were told you’d never reach?

Books of Autumn is a series telling the story of Valerius Bakhoum, a down and out private eye in Autumn, last of the great flying Cities, at various points in his life.

In A Fall in Autumn (2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award), we meet Valerius as he winds down his career and his too-short life.

In New Life in Autumn, Valerius navigates a surprising second chance and questions of who he is–and who he might become.

Walk the mean streets of Autumn by Valerius’ side in this award-winning study of the kindness and compassion found in the places where humanity’s lowest ambitions lurk!

Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

Michael is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

New Life in Autumn meme

Across three quarters of the City of Autumn, street kids are an unthinkable paradox. For the most part, the Pluses and the PlusPlus and all the other manifold forms of intentional humankinds only ever run into the sorts of kids someone wanted badly enough to design. There are already a billion people in the world between the Empire, the Eastern Expanse, and the less-organized places nobody’s fought over quite yet. Having kids willy-nilly wouldn’t add up, not with so many people already in line for the breakfast bar. That’s one of the many objections the Spiralists put forward to continued cultivation of Artisanal Humans like me—well, like I was.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

Anyway, widespread cultural insistence on bespoke offspring leaves a lot of kids out in the cold, literally. The ones I described before, orphaned by chance or abandoned for turning out imperfect or who got tired of their old life and decided to chase a new one are, in the remaining fourth-to-fifth of the City, as common as cobblestones and just as underfoot. There are plenty of them, and the supply continually refreshes, and I went to distinctly other streets than theirs. It isn’t that I wanted to avoid them, but talking would have taken money or some sort of barter and I was too short by half on either. I suspected it would have generated too much information rather than too little. A street kid asked to tell a story for a steam bun or a little reliably spendable scrip will gin up all the story you want and then some. I didn’t need urban legends. I needed facts, and that meant a much more gruesome start than some urchin milking my wallet with tall tales of what goes bump in the night.

I mentioned to Clodia one time that I had a friend who worked the Cisterns. The City of Autumn is like any town: its people have to piss like anybody else and its gutters often swell with rain. Autumn routinely flies into weather systems to gather up fresh water, and there’s a vast infrastructure to purify it for use by humankinds. I could spend ten pages telling you about the ponds in Down Preserves where rainwater burbles and bubbles under pressure, mixing in fresh air. The whole City sleeps atop a bed stuffed with pumps and gravity lines, charcoal and scrub algae, grates and artificial reefs and purpose-built shrimp—but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll simply say this: by the time water gets to us, the only thing left is the scent of the air where it first fell as rain. I don’t understand how the process works. I don’t care, either. The important thing, the thing none of us think about too much in case it, too, is another pretty lie in the quilt of them we make over our lives, is it happens. Sip from Lotta’s to remember the dead, cup your hands in the fountains of Domino, turn on a tap in the average Autumn kitchen, and you’ll enjoy the aroma of a field somewhere in Afrique, or a mutant blossom somewhere on a nameless plain in the vast Recovery Zone between Big River and the Salt Flat.

But on the other end of the system? Once all that delicious water has run its course through bodies and beer kegs and ice machines and steam plants?

That’s called Cistern Intake. I knew a gal who worked that part of the system. You could smell it on her from ten meters away. I always felt sorry for her, because it was so baked into her skin, ground down into her pores, she didn’t even smell it anymore herself.

On the plus side, she always had plenty of room in a bar. Nobody crowded her for long.

Frankie was a Mannie. Generally speaking, no variety of Plus—nice, “normal” people with designer genes—would even be considered for her job. Even applying for it might result in getting a replication error assessment. Odds are good you’ve already heard the story from a few years ago about the PlusPlus whose big ideas on “lived egalitarianism” got her carted off for genotoxicity screening. What most folks don’t know, however, is it was a stunt on both sides. Sure, she only wanted to make a point by suing the City for the right to join a scrubber team, not actually take the job if they offered it. But the City went out of its way to make the counterpoint in response, escorting her kicking and screaming away from the workhouse where they keep the little gliders they use to clean the Fore Barrier’s external face.

I assume she hoped to drum up publicity for her so-called perverse beliefs. I think she expected the City would do something to make an example of her, sure, but something more symbolic. You know, a big fine she could never pay, or maybe a few nights in the Palace of Imperial Justice. Something Imperial media could print without making anybody lose their lunch.

Instead, they dragged her —did I mention the kicking and screaming?—straight to the Hive. No trial. No judge. No pretenses. The Hive is right there at the front of the City, and the tiny portion of it sticking out above street level is visible if you climb high enough in Down Preserves and look to the Fore. The joke goes, they put the City’s worst criminals out there so we’ll hear them screaming if we crash into anything. This lady’s worst crime, though, was trying to prove we’re not all equal, not in the lives we’re allowed to lead or the risks we’re expected to take in the course of them. It sounds like heroism to you or me, but to the powers that be, the Sinceres, the Spiralists, and all the other people who don’t care if the Empire is a heap of shit as long as they’re near enough the top to catch a breeze, she’d committed the worst kind of social treason: she’d violated the spoken and unspoken rules propping up the class system on which they relied.


Author Bio

New Life in Autumn - Michael G. Williams

Michael G. Williams writes queer-themed science fiction, urban fantasy, and horror celebrating monsters, macabre humor, and subverted expectations. He’s the author of three series for Falstaff Books: the award-winning vampire/urban fantasy series The Withrow Chronicles; the thrilling urban fantasy series SERVANT/SOVEREIGN featuring real estate, time travel, and San Francisco’s greatest historical figures; the science fiction noir A Fall in Autumn, winner of the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award; and a bunch of short stories. He strives to present the humor and humanity at the heart of horror and mystery with stories of outcasts and loners finding their people.

Michael will be the Guest of Honor at Ret-Con in 2023, co-hosts Arcane Carolinas, studies Appalachian history and folklore at Appalachian State University, and is a brother in St. Anthony Hall. He lives in Durham, NC, with his husband, a variety of animals, and more and better friends than he probably deserves.

Author Website: https://michaelgwilliamsbooks.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/mcmanlypants

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGWilliamsAuthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcmanlypants

Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/mcmanlypants

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6429992.Michael_G_Williams

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/michael-g-williams/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-G-Williams/e/B001KIYBBU/

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Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet (Writers Save the World) Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Twenty sci-fi authors come together to tackle the very real threat of climate change and use their creative skills to find a solution to our current and future threats to our world in the collection “Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet”, part of the Writers Save the World Series!

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The Synopsis

Twenty ways to fix the planet.

Modern building on the island.3d render

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

The Review

This was a fantastic and highly creative collection. The themes of climate change and the impact it’ll have on everything from worldwide pandemics to coastal cities being overrun and so much more were thought-provoking, to say the least. The imagery and detailed storytelling that went into the narrative really painted an image in the reader’s mind. 

What stuck out in each story in this collection was each author’s ability to naturally infuse the themes of this narrative into their stories and still manage to implement a very human and emotional depth of character into each story. From a young woman seeking more of not only her life but the life of everyone on Earth, to a teenage boy separated from his mother and forced to make a new home for himself, each story adds so much emotion and heart to the more broad climate struggles that make this such an engaging story.

The Verdict

Heartfelt, entertaining, yet striking in its delivery, the short story collection “Save the World: Twenty Sci-Fi Writers Save the Planet” is a must-read book and a great continuation of the Writers Save the World Series! The balance of emotional character growth and stark yet hopeful themes of climate change and the progress needed to fix it all make this one collection readers won’t be able to put down. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Save the World cover

Other Worlds Ink has a new book out in the hopepunk cli-fi Writers Save the World anthology series: Save the World. And there’s a giveaway.

Climate change is no longer a vague future threat. Forests are burning, currents are shifting, and massive storms dump staggering amounts of water in less than 24 hours. Sometimes it’s hard to look ahead and see a hopeful future.

We asked sci-fi writers to send us stories about ways to save the world from climate change. From the myriad of stories we received, we chose the twenty most amazing (and hopefully prescient) tales.

Dive in and find out how we might mitigate climate change via solar mirrors, carbon capture, genetic manipulation, and acts of change both large and small.

The future’s not going to fix itself.

About the Series:

“Writers Save the World” is an annual hopepunk anthology from Other Worlds Ink, featuring hopeful stories by sci-fi writers about ways to solve the world’s problems.

Universal Buy Link | Liminal Fiction | Goodreads


Giveaway

Other Worlds Ink is giving one lucky winner their choice of $25 Starbucks GC or a $25 donation to the Sierra Club in the winner’s name:

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Excerpt

Save the World Meme

No one ate for a full day. At night, they sat around their fires and counted the stars, their boats bobbing in the quiet, dark waters. No electricity was permitted. The drones were shelved. The holo-projectors unplugged. Even the radios were shut off. The next morning, they washed in the invigorating cold of the ocean, and beat their bodies with branches.

This was what Edgard instructed. And what Edgard instructed, everyone obeyed.

The waters seemed bright that morning, despite the depths below. Small dots of sea foam dotted the surface, reflecting the eager light of the new day. The weather was calm, and the ocean peaceful. It was an auspicious morning.

Jason leaned against the rails, elbowing between his crew mates as everyone shuffled for the best view. There was laughter and chatter, some singing, a few rude jokes. The ocean was alive that morning, all the ships of the tribe lining up, energy buzzing across the wide decks.

Then the drumming started, and silence fell. People leaned forward, craning necks.

The canoe emerged from between boats, paddled by a small crew, its painted bow slicing through the water. At the front was Edgard, standing tall. Jason felt someone nudge him, and as he looked over at Amelia, she nodded at the cloak draped over Edgard’s shoulders. The Thunderbird.

The canoe stopped, and Edgard placed a hand in the water. As he rose, he started to sing, lighting a bundle of dried cedar, and waving the smoke over his harpoon. He removed the muscle-shell hooks and wrapped them in cloth, tied rocks around the yew shaft, and placed it in the water. As it sank, his song ended. Edgard turned to face the ships, opened his arms wide, and smiled.

The crews erupted.

It was done.

The harvesting was complete.

—From “Thunder on the Ocean,” by Christopher R. Muscato


Author Bio

Gustavo Bondoni is novelist and short story writer with over three hundred stories published in fifteen countries, in seven languages. He is a member of Codex and an Active Member of SFWA. His latest novel is Lost Island Rampage (2021). He has also published three other monster books: Ice Station: Death (2019), Jungle Lab Terror (2020) and Test Site Horror (2020), three science fiction novels: Incursion (2017), Outside (2017) and Siege (2016) and an ebook novella entitled Branch. His short fiction is collected in Pale Reflection (2020), Off the Beaten Path (2019) Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (2010) and Virtuoso and Other Stories (2011).

J. Scott Coatsworth lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were. He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends. A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and the head of its self-publishers committee.

Rachel Hope Crossman is an ex-fry cook, ex-substitute teacher and retired Montessori teacher. Her childhood year in Athens, Greece left indelible imprints of olive groves, pomegranates and the sparkling, turquoise blue of the Mediterranean upon her mind. She is the author of SAVING CINDERELLA: FAIRY TALES & CHILDREN IN THE 21ST CENTURY, (2014) The Apocryhile Press, which examines the world-wide Cinderella story as an archetype and explains the symbolism of rings, knives, birds, pumpkins and more. Her personal heroes are Harold (and his purple crayon), Peggy Hill and Nancy Pelosi.

Jana Denardo is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in) and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. There is no coincidence the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s still disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds or a roguish star ship captain to run off to the stars with her.

Derek Des Anges is an emerging cross-genre author working in London, who consistently fails to stick to a single format or genre but does at least really consistently write about the queer experience (or some of them, anyway). He’s into fungi, industrial and experimental music, and trying to avoid the climate apocalypse actually flooding his flat too many times, because he has far too many books to consider moving out.

CJ Erick’s stories have appeared in anthologies from WMG Publishing, WordFire Press, and others. He won the FenCon short story competition in 2015. He writes in multiple genres, publishes novels in a space fantasy series, and dabbles in poetry. He’s an MFA student in creative writing at Lindenwood University, and an editorial assistant for the Lindenwood Review. He lives in Dallas area with his wife and their rescue superhero dog Saber-Girl, calls his sourdough bread starter “Ursula” (K. Le Guin), and cooks crazy-good Cajun food for a Midwest Yankee.

J.G. Follansbee’s short stories have appeared in several anthologies, including Others Worlds Ink’s Fix the World. Other publications include Bards and Sages Quarterly, Children, Churches and Daddies, the collection Still Life 2018, and the speculative fiction anthologies Satirica, After the Orange, Spring Into SciFi 2019, Rabbit Hole II, and Sunshine Superhighway. He is the author of the series Tales From A Warming Planet and the trilogy The Future History of the Grail. He has won several awards in the Writers of the Future contest, and he was a finalist in the inaugural Aftermath short story contest. He also has numerous non-fiction book credits. He lives in Seattle.

Geoffrey Hart: Startled by an aggressive dictionary late in her pregnancy, Geoff’s mother was delivered of a child with a precocious antipathy towards users of words. Over time, he transformed this antipathy into a more functional, if equally passive-aggressive, editorial career. After nearly 35 years, the flame burns brightly as ever, leading to an errant, semi-evangelical career ranting against the evils of words from pulpits at any editing or technical writing conference that will have him, seeking new recruits for his cause. In his spare time, he roams the globe, entertaining locals with creative and unrestrained interpretations of their linguistic conventions. He also commits occasional fictions, and has sold 46 stories.

M. J. Holt lives with her husband on their 60-acre family farm with many animals on a peninsula in Puget Sound. She is horrified that the entire world isn’t working to decrease pollution of all kinds. When she was a teenager, she and her mother sat under an ancient crabapple tree and read Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Her mother told her that future generations would pay the price for the sins of past generations. That price has increased and now several generations later, some not yet born, will pay the price. Lightning struck that crab tree decades ago. It grew on land her great grandfather bought in 1892. Her great grandmother farmed the land and had the current house, started in 1900, built. The farm passed to her grandfather, and then to her mother. She lives in that house amid the surviving bits of her ancestors’ lives. This generational continuity informs her fiction. Her crime thriller novels, The Devil’s Safe (2021) and its sequel Making Angels (2022) can be found on Amazon. Recent short stories have appeared in the anthologies Black-Eyed Peas on New Year’s Day: An Anthology of Hope, Low Down Dirty Vote Volume II, Alternate Theologies, and her poetry may be found in the poetry anthologies 300K, Timeless Love, and other periodicals. She earned separate undergraduate degrees in History and English Literature, and a Masters in English Literature. She is a member of SFWA, MWA, and other writing organizations.

Jennifer Irani lives and works in southern California. Her story, “Graft,” was inspired by the recent fires in California, Greta Thunberg, and generation Z. A version of this story first appeared in Writing in Place: Stories from a Pandemic. Her work has been published in the anthology Dove Tales Empathy in Art: Embracing the Other. She has published essays in Orange Coast magazine. Her essay, Regeneration, received honorable mention in the Writers Challenge 2021 on Medium.com. Her poem, “Cool Colors Warm the Soul,” was selected for the Connecting Through Color, Art and Poetry exhibit. She is a member of Barbara Demarco’s Literary Posse.

Andrew Rucker Jones was born and raised in Falls Church, Virginia. No muse heralded his birth, and he has not been writing novels since he was in diapers. He received his Bachelor’s degree from North Carolina State University in mathematics with minors in computer programming and German. He has always loved reading, so when the time came to choose a new career after twenty years in IT (programmer, system administrator, manager), he decided writing looked like fun. If only it paid. He now lives in Mannheim, Germany, with his Georgian wife, who actually earns money, and their three children, the eldest of whom also earns more than he.

Micháel McCormick likes to write stories in his Batman pajamas. He and his wife also enjoy travel, hiking, Tai Chi, and perplexing cats. They split their time between Saint Paul, Minnesota and Lake Superior. Mike’s work has appeared in Arcanist, Daily SF, DreamForge, Frozen Wavelets, Grievous Angel, Metastellar, Talking Stick, and elsewhere.

Christopher R. Muscato is an adjunct history instructor and writer from Colorado, as well as the former writer-in-residence for the High Plains Library District. He has published over a dozen short stories and is thrilled to be a part of this project.

Masimba Musodza was born in Zimbabwe, and has lived most of his adult life in the United Kingdom. His short stories, mostly in the speculative fiction genre, have appeared in periodicals and anthologies around the world. He has written two novels and a novella in his first language, ChiShona. His collection of science-fiction stories, The Junkyard Rastaman & Other Stories, was published in 2020. Masimba also writes for stage and screen.

M.D. Neu: Growing up in an accepting family. internationally award-winning author M.D. Neu always wondered why there were never stories reflecting our diverse queer society. Surrounded by characters that only reflected heterosexual society, he decided to change that and began writing, wanting to tell epic stories that reflect our varied world. When not writing, M.D. Neu works for a non-profit in Silicon Valley, and travels with his husband of twenty plus years.

Jennifer R. Povey: Born in Nottingham, England, Jennifer R. Povey now lives in Northern Virginia, where she writes everything from heroic fantasy to stories for Analog. She has written a number of novels across multiple sub genres. Additionally, she is a writer, editor, and designer of tabletop RPG supplements for a number of companies. Her interests include horseback riding, Doctor Who and attempting to out-weird her various friends and professional colleagues.

NRM Roshak is an award-winning Canadian author and translator. Their stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines, including Galaxies SF, Daily Science Fiction, and Future Science Fiction Digest, and has been translated into several languages. They live in Ontario, Canada, with a small family and a loud cat.

Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her stories have appeared in Analog, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, and many other publications throughout the world. She hopes to save the world through science fiction and homegrown heritage tomatoes.

Lisa Short is a Texas-born, Kansas-bred writer of fantasy, science fiction and horror. She has an honorable discharge from the United States Army, a degree in chemical engineering, and twenty years’ experience as a professional engineer. Lisa currently lives in Maryland with her husband, two youngest children, father-in-law and cats. She is a member of the Horror Writers Association and a Futurescapes 2021 alumnus.

Heather Marie Spitzberg is an environmental author, scientist, and lawyer who lives in New York’s Hudson River Valley with her family. Her writing has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Guest Blog Post and Blog Tour Blast For Author M.D. Grimm’s “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” with OWI Blog Tours

Hi everyone! Thank you for joining me today. I hope you’ll give author M.D. Grimm a warm welcome as we hear some fantastic insight into the development of “Sapphire: Home and Abroad”.


Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. After re-publishing back titles, I can now work on new projects. So, if you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!

So… Morgorth. He’s a difficult character, isn’t he? I don’t think I quite knew what I was getting into when I wrote the first book over ten years ago. I have an affinity for dark and/or damaged characters. Their journey and trials as they become better people is something I never grow tired of either writing or reading. One of the worst things in the world is for a writer to be bored with a character and/or a story. And when it comes to series, I strive to have a character(s) that needs to overcome something as they evolve over the course of several books. If I’m not interested in their journey, then why would anyone else be?

“Ruby: Lost and Found” was the third book I ever published. It presented Morgorth in a time of his life where he was bored with being a villain. He’d embraced the label after his peers, fellow mages, decided he simply had to be one because of his birthright: being the seventh son of a seventh son, which they determined meant he was to be the Destroyer of their world. It is said that we often create our own monsters, and in this case, it was true. Morgorth became what his peers already thought he was. However, when Aishe crashes into his life, the desire to be something different awakens within him. In my opinion, he becomes an anti-hero. Or, as he would say, a dark mage. He’s not out to wreak havoc on the world but he’s certainly not going to play by the rules, either.

My initial goal for this series was to challenge myself to write an anti-hero. I’m not quite sure if I succeeded or not, but I can’t argue with the result. Morgorth is wonderfully flawed, his struggles are real, and his desire to be worthy of his mate, Aishe, pushes him into uncomfortable situations and makes his choices harder. What I love most about Morgorth is his refusal to surrender. Despite the abuse he survived as a child, the hatred from most of his peers, and the struggle with his own internal demons, he continues to fight. The closest he came to defeat was in the previous book, “Lapis Lazuli: Forgotten and Remembered,” but even then, even without Aishe kicking his butt into gear, I don’t doubt that after a bit of time in self-pity, he’d roll up his sleeves and start fighting again. It’s one of the things I love most about him: he continues to get up every time he’s knocked down.

Due to the abuse from his father, Morgorth has always carried a deep-seated rage inside him. Unfortunately, it led him to unleashing his pain on innocents until he made a promise to his mentor that he would stop perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Morgorth has grown a lot from book one to book eight, but the core of him hasn’t changed. He still carries the rage, only now he channels it into protecting those he loves. He still has a darkness inside him, a thirst to hurt others, and yet again, he targets it at other villains and in defense. I find that the hardest balance to strike with such a complex character is letting them evolve without changing who they are at their deepest core. I didn’t want Morgorth to lose his edge. I didn’t want it to seem as if he simply flicked off his past trauma and that it no longer affected him. That is unrealistic and an insult to folks who live with trauma. However, he did find the tools and the support to work through his trauma and to use his rage for good instead of evil.

And how did he do that? By finding a mate who accepted all of him. With Aishe, he found the motivation and the reason to work on himself. That’s what I love most about their partnership—they make each other better and stronger. 

The Stones of Power 1-8 are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects.

For fans of the Saga of the Bold People series, I just finished the first draft of “Resistance,” book 3. I hope to release it October 2022, so keep your eyes peeled for that! I am also booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next Stones of Power book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Sapphire: Home and Abroad

M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 8: Sapphire: Home and Abroad.

The Dark Mage, Lord Morgorth, and Aishe of the Ravena Tribe, are to become bondmates.

Morgorth is equal parts nervous and excited. He wants to unite with Aishe in the sacred dialen ceremony, to proclaim their devotion to the world, to show everyone that Aishe is his equal and deserving of respect. After all they’ve survived together, why shouldn’t they make the cosmic promise before friends and family? But duty must often come before pleasure. When Morgorth’s estranged mentor, Master Ulezander, comes to him with a time-sensitive mission involving a major stone of power, Morgorth has little choice but to acquiesce.

Aishe knows his mate struggles with the revelation of his true destiny, after a lifetime of defining himself as the future Destroyer of Karishian. All he can do is reassure Morgorth that being the Savior is a far better fate for both of them. But as Morgorth and Aishe leap through worlds and dimensions in pursuit of a stone of power, more pieces to the puzzle of Morgorth’s destiny are revealed. And they form an image of sacrifice and tragedy.

The dark cloud of an ancient enemy looms ever closer, and the path to becoming the Savior might prove more monstrous than that of the Destroyer.

About the Series:

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life. Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.

However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness. Enter the world of “The Stones of Power.”

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Excerpt

Sapphire Home and Abroad meme

Morgorth stepped forward and stretched out his arms. He murmured a series of words under his breath and an opaque pinprick of light appeared. I stepped a bit closer, fascinated. The pinprick grew into a swirling, pulsing liquid silver gateway. It was beautiful and ominous. It made no sound, and yet gave off pressure that I felt against my body, and the hair on my arms stood on end.

The few trees bordering the clearing creaked and groaned as they bent away from the portal. I didn’t hear anything—not birds or squirrels, not deer. Nothing was near us, and the poor, stationary trees were doing their best to also get away.

Morgorth fisted his hands and widened his stance, still muttering. His skin glowed, and I silently shifted to his side. His eyes were a burning amber, his expression set in stubborn determination and intense concentration. Sweat slid down his face. The portal pulsed a bit faster, the beat knocking against my ribs. What was he doing?

Then the silver gained a bluish color before darkening to mossy green. Morgorth grunted and lowered his hands, though his magick still glowed.

“Take my hand,” he said in a stiff, strained voice. “And hold on tight, to both me and your bow.”

I swallowed hard and took a deep breath. I clung to my bow as I took his outstretched hand and pressed to his side. His skin was hot to the touch but not burning.

“What can I expect?” I asked.

“Discomfort and weirdness,” he said with a hint of a smile. “Just don’t let go.”

“Never.”

Then Morgorth ran and yanked me with him. We dove into the portal without hesitation, and he was right about the discomfort and weirdness. It wasn’t the emptiness of teleportation nor the whiplash of magickal speed. Morgorth charged through the swirling green, dragging me along. The green slipped over my skin and hair like cold putty and tried to capture my feet in its murk. It seemed to last forever but I was certain it was only a moment or two. Then we were somewhere else.

I caught my breath and stumbled forward, still clinging to Morgorth. He didn’t let go either, his magick still at the surface. He took a cloudy crystal from one of the many pouches at his waist and bent to place it at the base of the portal.

This time, I heard his word of magick.

“Lelleknau.”

Words of magick were supposed to be nonsensical, something each mage created for themselves. It was personal, each new word linked to a spell and used for nothing else. It took both words and hand flourishes for a mage to cast a spell or secure an enchantment. It was different for magick healers like myself. It wasn’t so much magickhealers used, it was our life essence, gifting a part of ourselves to our patients. Give too much and it could kill us. The missing part of our essence would replenish over time, faster if we were happy and balanced.

To open a portal and redirect it was remarkably heavy magick, and my mate never ceased to leave me in awe of his abilities and his continual growth in both strength and intelligence.

“Will the crystal leave the portal open?” I asked.

He nodded. “Only on this side, though. We don’t want anyone or anything following us.”

“I doubt any of Vorgoroth’s creatures want to follow.”

Morgorth shrugged and straightened. “I don’t want to take the chance. And I wasn’t just thinking of my minions.”

He was thinking of our guests. Probably about Lyli.

I sighed. Yes, that girl was fearless and far too curious for her own good. And wherever Lyli went, Olyvre wouldn’t be far behind. Then Elissya would also come.

“This will also prevent any of the creatures here of getting inside. The crystal is also a shield.”

“Clever.”

“Draining,” he said with a sheepish grin. His magick settled into his core, causing his eyes and skin to lose their glow. “It won’t hold for long. In and out, no sightseeing.”

I snorted and glanced at our surroundings. “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

A thick, dense jungle surrounded us, and I was only now noticing the oppressive heat. My skin broke out in sweat and my clothes soon stuck to me in the most uncomfortable way. I exhaled sharply and let go of Morgorth to wipe at my brow.

“Aye, in and out, please.”

Morgorth grimaced as well and readjusted the bag.

“I hope you can track the bloody thing.”

“I don’t sense magick like on Karishian so it shouldn’t be a problem to open my third eye and spot the box. And if for some reason that doesn’t work, I can always try to meditate and find its aura and track it back to its location.”

“Wouldn’t the box shield the stone’s power?”

“Its power but not its signature. According to Melondia, the box doesn’t have enough layers to truly block it. Think about the layers of Geheimnis. A mage could use their third eye but not spot the stones I have in the tower because the barriers are too thick.”

I nodded, and he closed his eyes. This place did feel… empty. Magick was everywhere in Karishian, in the land, the water, in the creatures. In the sky and in the clouds, and in the sun. In the air itself. I didn’t like it here. I shuddered and fingered my bow. The familiar texture of the wood soothed me just enough to unclench my muscles.

I kept an eye on our surroundings as Morgorth once again called to his magick.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm Logo

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: http://www.mdgrimmwrites.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

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Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

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Walks with Spirits by Edale Lane Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two women separated by honor and duty must find their way through life, hoping the spirits will bring them together in love in author Edale Lane’s “Walks with Spirits”.

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The Synopsis

Bound by love, separated by a tragic mistake; can two Indigenous women realize their happy ending?

Long ago, in an age of mysticism, Walks with Spirits, a two-spirit woman, perceives voices whispering on the wind and they empower her with the gift of calling animals. But who she truly wishes to call to her side is her childhood friend, Laughing Brook.

Daughter of a shaman and an herbalist-midwife, Laughing Brook holds a prominent place in her society and bears the responsibilities it entails. She is training to be a healer like her mother, but her most compelling desire is to spend her life with Walks with Spirits.

When a misunderstanding crushes their dreams of happiness, both women must learn to face the trials that await them in a land where danger lurks behind every tree and honor means more than life. Will the spirits intervene on their behalf, or are they fated never to manifest their visions of love?

Walks with Spirits is a historical fantasy set in an ancient time. Packed with Native American themes, heart-touching imagery, and an epic love story, Walks with Spirits will immerse you in an inspiring view of life. 

The Review

This was a truly beautiful story. The author’s ability to balance the heartfelt LGBTQ romance of this novel with the culture and history of the Indigenous people of the North American continent was superb, and the added elements of fantasy-driven narrative based upon the mythos and belief systems of the Indigenous people added both depths to the cast of characters and a fantastic amount of world-building. 

The heart of this narrative fell to the two amazing protagonists and one of the strongest LGBTQ romances I’ve read this year so far, Walks with Spirits and Laughing Brook. The tension and pain these two women deal with as Laughing Brook is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love, and Walks with Spirits have to hold back her love in order to be a friend to Laughing Brooks through the years, was so emotional to behold. What I loved was the marriage of the mysticism and cultural importance of nature and its relationship to the universe as a whole with the LGBTQ themes and what true love means was amazing to read and see come to life on the page. 

The Verdict

Heartfelt, engaging, and thought-provoking, author Edale Lane’s “Walks with Spirits” is a must-read novel of 2022! The amazing LGBTQ themes found in the narrative, from the two protagonists’ enduring love story to the dual-gender identity Walking with Spirits shared and how it related to her having both her soul and the soul of another dwelling within her in this fantasy world was so moving to read, and the juxtaposition of the modern-day conflicts many people still endure when confronted with sexual identity struggles and the impact it has on one’s life and family against the historical and cultural setting of the narrative made this a remarkable story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Walks With Spirits - Edale Lane

Edale Lane has a new FF historical romance out: Walks With Spirits. And there’s a giveaway!

Bound by love, separated by circumstances; can two women realize their happy ending?

In a time when people believed everything had a spirit, there was a two-spirit woman who chose the life of a hunter. Human beings live in the physical world, while spirits dwell in the land beyond; Walks with Spirits inhabits both.

Daughter of a shaman and an herbalist-midwife, Laughing Brook holds a prominent place in her society. She is training to be a healer like her mother, but her one wish is to spend her life with Walks with Spirits.

When a misunderstanding crushes their dreams of happiness, both women must learn to face the trials that await them in a land where danger lurks behind every tree and honor means more than life. Will the spirits intervene on their behalf, or are they fated never to manifest their visions of love?

Walks with Spirits is a historical fantasy set in an ancient time. Packed with Native American themes, heart-touching imagery, and an epic love story, Walks with Spirits will immerse you in an inspiring view of life.

Get It At Amazon


Giveaway

Edale is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47234/?


Excerpt

Walks with Spirits Meme

From Chapter Two of Walks with Spirits

A movement at the front door drew Brook’s attention and in an instant her face lit up and her heart swelled. A tall woman wearing men’s clothing strode in, her head held high, and the energy in the chamber danced. Even Thunder Warrior did not seem so dull.

“That is Walks with Spirits,” he said with a gesture. “She is an odd woman of Nutaula who is coming on the hunt with us tomorrow. The Old Ones and shaman speak of her like she is special, but she can’t do anything that I can’t do. I feel uncomfortable around people of two spirits, don’t you?”

Brook’s smile had become a glow. “That is my Mepoose, my best friend. We grew up together in this house before she moved to your village.”

Thunder Warrior shifted positions and pushed back his free-flowing long hair. “I mean, she is well respected among our community. We are taught it is a blessing from the Creator to be born with two spirits,” he fidgeted. “It is merely something I don’t understand.”

Brook wrenched her gaze from Spirits long enough to study her male guest, a bemused expression on her face. When she said nothing, he continued to explain himself.

“I am a physical man,” he said with a tap to his muscled chest, “who lives in a physical world. I do not put my trust in spirits and legends. My spear, my bow, and the strength of my arm protect me from danger. Many men say one is well served to steer clear of spirits, lest you offend one. They say she talks to them every day.”

As Brook returned her oval eyes to follow Spirits across the room, her heartbeat raced and she sensed a tingle running through her being. “She does,” she affirmed.

She watched Spirits approach the hearth closest to the door where she stopped beside the spot where an old man with a cane sat on a cedar box up close to the fire, a beaver fur cape wrapped around his shoulders. He had deep lines in his leathery face, long gray hair bound by a plain leather band, and one leg stretched out awkwardly to catch the heat. Since Thunder Warrior had stopped talking, she could overhear their exchange.

“It is good to see you, Growling Bear,” Spirits greeted.

He spared her a glance and grunted. “Is it, now? If it were so, maybe you would come around more often.” He pulled his cape tighter and stared into the flames with a sour look on his etched face.

“You know I moved to be with my relatives in Nutaula,” she replied pleasantly. “But all morning I have been praying to the spirits that you will help me out.”

This time he raised suspicious eyes to her, hooded under scrunched brows. “Is that so?”

“It is. You see, I have been so blessed with good fortune that I have caught more game than I know what to do with. I am hoping you can take these two rabbits off my hands.” She extended the better pair toward him.

Growling Bear scowled and lowered his gaze to hands as gnarled as thick, aged vines. “What do I want with those scrawny, worthless rabbits?”

Spirits shrugged. “See, the thing is, I can only offer you the meat. I need the skins for a project I’m working on, so I’d have to skin them before I give them to you. I know they are rather puny, but they are fresh and there is only you to eat them.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “If you don’t take them, I’ll have to toss them to the village dogs, and they may fight over them. I hate it when the dogs fight over food, but… I simply have too much fresh game to keep them.”

Thunder Warrior spun to Brook in outrage. “What is he talking about? Those are fat, fine rabbits. Why is that grouchy old man so ungrateful? He does nothing but sit about and complain. When I am chief, I will not allow anyone like him to live in my longhouse. How can Black Bear tolerate him?”

Brook waited a moment to answer him as she listened to Growling Bear’s reply.

He shifted on his box and rubbed a hand across his knee. “I suppose I could take them if it is going to cause you distress for me to refuse. Maybe Falling Rain can throw them in a pot with some vegetables.”

Spirits smiled. “I will bring them back in a few minutes when I have skinned and cleaned them. Many thanks to you, Growling Bear. You have done me a great service.”

“I do not understand that woman!” Thunder Warrior declared. “He insults her and she thanks him.”

Brook turned to her guest while Spirits made her way slowly around the plank-house greeting everyone. “Do you not know who that old man is?”

“A leach who lives off the charity of others,” he stated in derision.

“No.” Brook explained in gentle and compassionate tones. “Growling Bear was once a great hunter. He feared neither man nor beast. He brought in scores of fish and killed five bears along with countless deer, elk, beaver, and other game. When he married, a reunion was held in his honor and he was Worthy and esteemed.”

“What happened to him then?” Thunder Warrior considered her words with reserved curiosity.

“One falling leaves time, long before I was born, he was on a hunting party in the mountains and they must have wandered too close to where the sasquatch lived. A sasquatch hurled a boulder that started a landslide on the mountain and Growling Bear was caught up in it. When the dust settled, the others found him near the bottom under a pile of rocks. They made a litter and rushed him back to Paupeck for the healer and shaman to help.” In an aside, Brook added, “This was before Black Bear and Rainbow held those titles, but who knows if they could have done better. The healer straightened and set his leg with splints, but it was broken in many places. He was very fortunate to have lived through the ordeal at all.”


Author Bio

Edale Lane

Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research.

A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.

Author Website: https://pastandprologuepress.lpages.co/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/melodie.romeo/

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Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/EdaleLane

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edale_lane/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15264354.Edale_Lane

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