Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Character Interview with Kinsley Morales from Sight Beyond the Sun by Melody Johnson #SciFiRomance

 




Meet Kinsley “Switch” Morales, the heroine of Sight Beyond the Sun! 

Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist, Kinsley had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human trafficking ring… not that she allows herself to be trafficked for long. 

Shortly after being abducted, Kinsley implements an elaborate plan to gain the trust of her alien captor and disable his crew in the hopes of commandeering their ship and flying herself and her fellow three dozen human captives back to Earth. 

An overwhelming objective to say the least, but as a former special forces operative, Kinsley handles the undertaking as her next mission, the most important and possibly final mission of her entire life: returning home. 

But who is Kinsley really? 

Outside of these crazy circumstances, what is a day in the life of adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley Morales? 

We interviewed her to find out!

Favorite color: orange 
Go to drink: lager 
Favorite memory from childhood: successfully building my first remote-activated IED 
Favorite TV show: Chicago Fire
Favorite movie: Hmmm, a tie between Backdraft and Speed 
Favorite fictional character: Daenerys Targaryen
Secret desire: anal sex
Favorite food:vegetarian nachos grande 
Favorite ice cream: key lime 
Deepest emotional wound: following orders that led to the death of my commanding officer… my sister’s fiancé. 
Never have I ever: enjoyed organized competitive sports 
Mama or daddy’s girl: neither. I’ve always felt completely misunderstood by my family 
Spirit animal: Phoenix 
Favorite place: hiking forested mountains, particularly the Georgia stretch of Appalachian Trail. It’s close enough to home to feel connectedbut far enough from civilization to feel at peace. 
Secret fear: Never receiving forgiveness from my sister


Sight Beyond the Sun
Love Beyond
Book Two
Melody Johnson

Genre: Sci-fi Romance
Publisher: Incendi Press, LLC
Date of Publication: January 24, 2023
ISBN:978-1-7351499-5-0 
ASIN: B0BG8P1596
Number of pages: 602 
Word Count: 147,970
Cover Artist: Trif Book Designs

Tagline: Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies...especially the lies you tell yourself. 

Book Description:

A prison break. 

Adrenaline junkie and explosives specialist Kinsley “Switch” Morales had a chip on her shoulder long before being caught in what she suspects is some sort of intergalactic human-trafficking ring. Aliens not only exist, their reptilian bodies are stronger, their honed reflexes faster, and their shiny scales nearly impenetrable. But nothing will curb Kinsley’s resolve to commandeer their spaceship and return home to Earth—even if that means crawling behind enemy lines and cozying up to their uncompromising captain. 

An undercover mission. 

When Raveno Hoviir catches Kinsley outside her cell, wreaking havoc in his control room, he sees more than just her strength, resolve, and courage. He sees a golden opportunity to finally root out the traitor under his command and prove his brother’s loyalty before the coming revolution. After so many years undercover, Raveno is finally one mission away from saving his planet from its tyrannical ruler. He’s sacrificed everything to protect his people—his love life, his anonymity, his left leg—but in his efforts to right his father’s wrongs, has he inadvertently become the very monster he plans to overthrow? 

An unlikely alliance. 

As Kinsley and Raveno each attempt to exploit the other, they find more than just leverage for their separate missions. Inexplicably, they find common ground in their mutual devotion to family and service. Kinsley knows all too well the grief and guilt of making the wrong decision in the field, but will Raveno keep his word to send her home if she flips loyalties? Is Raveno’s softening heart compromising his judgment, or is Kinsley’s intelligence accurate? Separating truth from lies is impossible in the game of spies. Seeing beyond their surface differences and trusting in love again may be the only way to save both their people—and each other. 


Excerpt:

Raveno Hoviir didn’t suffer incompetence. He didn’t suffer anything without consequence, a policy his crew was testing time and again lately and without any perceivable sign of becoming more competent. His reputation, carefully cultivated over a long and brutal career, was usually incentive enough to inspire obedience. He couldn’t let that reputation crack, not for anything: not for his morals as he punished decent soldiers for mistakes that didn’t warrant such severity; not for his soul as he led abominable missions to maintain alliances with Bazail, Iroan, and Fray; not for his body as he’d gone to unmatched extremes to prove his loyalty to Cilvril s’Hvri Josairo.
He played the villain in service to his people, a role as necessary as it was revolting.

During Josairo’s early reign as Cilvril s’Hvri, the killing hand of Havar, he’d been the strength and armor their planet had needed to survive what historians now referred to as the War of Wrath’s Will. After bolstering their military forces and gaining the autonomy to wield them as he deemed necessary, Josairo achieved what four previous Cilvrili s’Hvri had died failing to accomplish: He’d secured Havar’s independence from her sister planet, Haven, and ended years of oppression and tyranny.

Or so the historians claimed and the schools taught. Based on Raveno’s first-hand experience, he often wondered if Josairo hadn’t simply murdered historians until he’d found one willing rewrite the war to his liking.

Nevertheless, however he’d managed to wrest unilateral control of their military and judicial systems, Josairo’s unmatched combat skills ensured he kept it, even as he modified their fleet of luxury destination ships into prison transport vessels. Even as he ordered the abduction and trafficking of innocent, sentient people. Even as the peace and prosperity he’d supposedly achieved following their victory against Haven soured into fear-filled obedience. In earning their independence, the havari had traded a foreign tyrant for a domestic one, and every warrior brave enough to challenge Josairo to a frisaes and legally end his rule had thus far lost.

When Raveno ended his rule, it wouldn’t be legal. But he would win.

Until then, the weight of Raveno’s sins were his to bear or be crushed by. Which made confronting the horrific results of his own undercover operation insufferable, knowing his reputation would demand he deliver swift and harsh punishment when faced with his crew’s greatest incompetence to date: a human outside her room and tampering with the equipment in their control room, of all places.

Dellao and Tironan were asleep in their seats, and the woman, cry mercy, the woman was fierce as only a mother could be, all snapping eyes and straining muscles. Some people withered from the poison of oppression, but not her. She seemed fueled by it. She gritted her square teeth with determination. Her soft cheeks flushed a deep crimson from her efforts, and her scent—Raveno sealed shut his nostrils, cutting short that disturbing thought before it could fully form.

“Who do you work for?” Thev sa shek, a traitor on board Sa Vivsheth was the last thing he needed.

Her jaw fell slack. “Y-y-you speak English?”

“Obviously.” His English was rusty and not quite as good as his Mandarin, but still good enough for interrogation. “Who sent you?”

“I think we got off on the wrong foot.” She licked her lips, and deep indents on the corners of her mouth dipped into her cheeks. “My name is Kinsley Morales, but my friends call me Switch.”

He stared at her a moment. Had she just introduced herself? Didn’t she realize she was being interrogated? To death, if she didn’t cooperate.

Please, just cooperate.

“My mother named me after my paternal grandmother. An ‘apology’ name, I always said, because she’d named my sister in honor of her mother, which caused quite a stir on my father’s side of the family. But everyone’s ruffled feathers settled after she named me. The only time my presence had settled anyone’s feathers.” She ran out of air and inhaled a deep, trembling breath.

“What’s your name?”

Ah, he might have believed her composure if not for that tremble. She knew her predicament precisely and was attempting to save herself by appealing to his compassion.

The man he’d become to overthrow Josairo couldn’t afford compassion. “Did my brother recruit you with the promise of freedom? What are your orders?”

The woman flinched. A pained whine escaped her clenched teeth.

Svik, was he hurting her? Raveno loosened his hold, just in case. It might come to that, but not now and certainly not by mistake.

Yet, even beaten down, in pain, and defeated, the gleam of calculation sharpened the woman’s gaze.

Strong in mind if not in body, he thought warily, knowing the terrible efforts it took to break the strong of will. His own physical wound had long since healed, but the muscles of his residual limb often pained him as if his left calf still remained, twisted foot and all.

“Must I repeat the question?” he asked. If not Tironan, someone on board had released her.

The furry tuft above her right eye lifted. “How should I know if I know your brother if I don’t even know you?”

Ha! Fine. He spoke his full name and rank for her in traditional Hvrsil, just for the pleasure of matching her obstinacy with his.

“I…I’m not sure I can pronounce that,” she admitted.

“Considering the deficiencies in the form and function of your tongue, I expect not.”

She narrowed her eyes, clearly unsure if she should be insulted. “Do you have a nickname too? Something less, er, taxing on the vocal cords?”

“No.”

“What do your friends call you?” she tried.

“I have no friends.”

“Something I can call you while I beg for mercy, then,” she snapped.

A laugh overtook him at that, as swift, unwanted, and jarring as a seizure. Oh, this woman was a little firework: all sparks and fierce light wedging lethally beneath his scales.

“When you beg for mercy, you may call me by the modern Haveo version of my name,” he relented. “Raveno Hoviir.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Raveno Hoviir.”

He was certain it wasn’t.



About the Author: 

Melody Johnson is the award-winning author of the “out of this world” Love Beyond series and the gritty, paranormal romance Night Blood series published by Kensington Publishing/ Lyrical Press. She graduated magna cum laude from Lycoming College with her B.A. in creative writing and psychology. 

Earning the 2021 Maggie Award of Excellence, Beyond the Next Star (Love Beyond, book 1) is an exciting branch from Melody's paranormal romance roots, keeping the dark grit from her Night Blood Series and taking it to new worlds. Her first published novel, The City Beneath (Night Blood, book 1), was a finalist in the “Cleveland Rocks” and “Fool For Love” contests. 

When she isn’t writing, Melody enjoys swimming, hiking, reading, and exploring her new home in southeast Georgia. 

Stay in touch with Melody on social media or her website: http://authormelodyjohnson.com/ 



 

 






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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Character Confession - Lakyn from Tale of a Body Thief by Kristy Centeno


You, humans, have odd ways to entertain yourselves. I’ll have you know that having me sit here and participate in this event is below me. Nevertheless, my dear author insists I partake in this activity so here I am.

There is not much I can say about myself that readers have not already put together in Tale of a Body Thief. However, when it comes to my background there is not much to tell. I have no knowledge of my birth parents and have no clue where I came from. I was aided by a rather ill-tempered shopkeeper in the slums of the Underworld. Truthfully, I have never been bothered by a past that remains unknown to me. I was born a demon and tossed aside—a reality that is not that uncommon in the Underworld.

Still, I must admit that the surface is not as loathsome as I originally believed. It is quieter than the Underworld, but I have come to appreciate some aspects of living among humans. The food is not that vile either. Though it will take some getting used to.

On the other hand, my author is a huge pain in my rear end. Her continuous attempts at humanizing me are rather comical. There is not a drop of humanity in me. Let that be clear. And I do not appreciate her need to reveal my past. I sense a grave mistake on her part in doing so, perhaps in the form of a weakness I do not want others to be aware of. I have a reputation to uphold, after all.

However, I will say that I’m highly intrigued about Jeremy’s origins. I might have to stick around a bit longer on the surface to see if I can help Rovena crack the mystery of his birth. I have a grating feeling in the pit of my stomach I might not like what I find in the end.

Nevertheless, I am open for new challenges and that might mean playing nice with my enemies.

Tale of a Body Thief 
Rovena Silvex 
Book One
Kristy Centeno

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Date of Publication: May 12, 2022
Number of pages: 441
Word Count: 128000
Cover Artist:Ammonia Book Covers

Book Description:

Her special abilities can save lives, but so can they kill.

Rovena Silvex has hunted and eliminated dozens of demons throughout the ten years since her initiation as a hunter. Possessing supernatural skills only makes her job a lot easier.

When she’s asked to visit the county morgue to look over a deceased victim and find out what demon killed him, the body rising from the dead is the last thing she expects.

Now Rovena is stuck with a walking corpse and no answers as to how he managed to return to the world of the living. However, the victim has changed and the more time she spends with him, the more she realizes that what crossed over might not have been the soul of the dead man but something much worse.

Complications arise when her new assignment is targeted by demons hell-bent on making sure he stays dead for good.

Killing demons has always been a piece of cake. Keeping one alive however, is a whole new ballgame for her. If she fails, she risks setting in motion a war between heaven and hell. But if she succeeds, she could trap a powerful Lord in a world he doesn’t belong in, forever.

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Excerpt

Rovena reached out again, hoping more contact would provide more insight. It didn’t happen often, but sometimes she got another glimpse into the victim’s life when she prodded further. It was the only tool she could make good use of now, and she was desperate enough for answers to try again. Even if reliving his death was the last thing she wanted to do. Or see.

She extended her fingers, dreading touching the cold skin but determined to do it just the same.

A cool breeze behind her ceased her progress. She froze with her fingers midway to their destination as goosebumps broke across her skin. She whirled around, expecting to find someone or something standing there.

The space behind her was empty.

Tiny tremors pulsated across her palms. Not the usual response when a demon was nearby but an alarm that warned her something otherworldly was at work.

Something otherworldly that she couldn’t envision.

Thank the heavens for her built-in danger detector. Not many in her field were blessed with the same, and hers always came in handy, even if she couldn't always find what hunted in the shadows.

The inability to see what had momentarily entered the room suggested it wasn’t a demon. But whatever it was had moved on as quickly as it appeared.

She turned back to the corpse in front of her and nearly jumped out of her skin.

His eyes were wide open and staring right at her.

What the actual fuck.

Rovena had seen some crazy shit in her life, but this was bizarre even for her.

Fast as a cobra, he struck, aiming for her throat. She had no time to react before his hand closed around her windpipe. Glowing red eyes glared up at her while long, lean fingers tightened dangerously around her neck. The man forced her back as he sat up and slid off the gurney. The blanket covering the lower half of his body fluttered to the floor and pooled at his feet. He stepped over it as he pushed her toward the wall behind her, his grip narrowing as he moved.



About the Author:

Kristy Centeno loves to spin tales of creatures that go bump in the night, with a sprinkle of romance to top them off. Her passion for writing stems from a lifelong enjoyment of reading and the pleasure derived from the magical worlds created by authors like her. She prefers her female leads strong, independent, and stubborn who will stop at nothing to save their loved ones and protect those they care for.

Kristy currently resides in Pennsylvania with her five kids, a quartet of noisy parakeets, and a spoiled puppy. When she’s not working or writing, she juggles her free time between raising a handful of minions and pursuing other career goals.









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Monday, January 30, 2023

Inside Scoop on the Main Character in Pirate Lover’s Curse by Sheri Queen


          Here’s the inside scoop on how I came up with my main character in the Sleepy Hollow Hunter series.

The origin of Janda Gray as a lykoi shifter came about when I participated in the Hotel Paranormal shared-world series. Each author had to pick a paranormal being as our main character and it had to be different from those chosen by the other authors. The choices went fast!

          The usual shifters, vampires, sirens, and ghosts were gone before I could type in my response. Yikes!

          I wanted something unusual but intriguing. Thus, the lykoi.

          Lykoi are real cats that have been dubbed werewolf cats due to their appearance. They really have that wolfy face! They also have a dog-like personality. The name Lykoi is derived from the Greek word lycos, which is loosely translated as wolf.

Once I found this breed, I knew I had my character. So, Janda is a lykoi who is part wolf and part were-cat. Her inner animal is a combination of the two. She is a hybrid shifter whose parents had a forbidden love. Her mother was a wolf-shifter and her father was a were-cat.

Janda has insecurities about being a hybrid and faced lots of taunting growing up from other members of her pack. She kept to the fringes of the pack. Yet, she always managed to find herself in some sort of trouble.

As with the real lykoi cat, Janda is loyal. Throughout the series, we see her slowly come into her own and develop a close circle of friends who are loyal to her as much as she is loyal to them.

I hope readers enjoy Janda and her friends as much as I do. Signing up for my newsletter (https://sheriqueen.com/subscribe) is the best way for anyone wishing to stay updated on the spin-off stories I have in the works.

Pirate Lover’s Curse is out now! https://books2read.com/pirateloverscurse

Happy Reading-

Sheri Queen

 

Pirate Lover’s Curse
Sleepy Hollow Hunter 
Book Three
Sheri Queen

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher:Wilda Press
Date of Publication: December 22, 2022
ASIN:B0BQX5Y4S5
Number of pages:274 print pages
Word Count: 76,321
Cover Artist: SQ Flemming

Tagline: Half wolf. Half were-cat. One-hundred-percent kick-ass Bounty Hunter.

Book Description: 

Lykoi shifter Janda Gray never expected to be cut off from her fated mate.

But when a centuries-old pirate curse stands in the way, Janda finds herself in a race to unearth a treasure that will break the curse and set Alex free.

As the past and present collide, she realizes the bounty hunter skills she's honed over the years aren't enough to defeat her nemesis—the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

Janda struggles with the burden of being the last descendent of the witch who cast the curse—and the only one capable of fixing past wrongs and saving those she loves.

Can she embrace her witch heritage and wield her power before it's too late?

Or, will she lose her mate to the Underworld forever and leave the supernatural community to the mercy of the Headless Horseman?

—————
This is a fated-mate shifter story suitable for 18+. The Sleepy Hollow Hunter series is perfect for urban fantasy fans who enjoy immersive stories of adventure and slow-burn romance. It features witches, ghosts, vampires, demons, and several enticing shifters, and a love story that transcends time. A hybrid shifter discovers her found family and hidden magic.



Excerpt:

“Why does anything pertaining to you have to come with extra baggage?” Uncle Damon said. His dominant pack power surged, affecting the others nearby and making them restless.

The air crackled with his energy. I held my ground. His words stung, but he’d never hear me say it. I’d had lots of practice over the years keeping my hurt from showing, but at this moment, I lashed out with a barb of my own.

“I’m just lucky that way. Kind of like you.” I tapped the desk with my fingertips, knowing he hated it and narrowed my eyes at him.

He sure as hell had his own baggage when it came to relationships and pack bonds, especially when it came to anything with my mother.

“If the two of you are done poking at one another, I’d like to move on to the pertinent issue of the cursed map,” Sebastian said. He stood a good foot away from his desk and peered down at the map as if it might explode.

Everyone had a hands-off approach to the map after I’d blurted out that it was cursed.

“It won’t curse you just by touching it,” I said. “At least, not from what Gwenn or I could tell. It has a hidden layer that will attack you if you try to force it out in the open.”

“That’s just great,” Mutther said. “I suppose you found out firsthand?”

“Not me. Gwenn did. I was the innocent bystander.”

“Right. How innocent?” Nick said. He moved to Mutther’s side and viewed the map from farther away. Neither of them was taking any chances.

Not that I blamed them. They had suffered from being too near me in the past. Mutther was still rebuilding his bar.
About the Author:

Sheri Queen writes immersive stories of adventure and romance.

Her urban fantasy and paranormal women's fiction stories feature snarky bad-ass women, strong female friendships, found family, and sexy romance.

Sheri received her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She grew up in the Hudson Valley region of New York—an area she loves to depict in her stories. She enjoys traveling to new places where she is constantly discovering inspirations for her writing. She especially loves visiting old graveyards.









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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Maria DeVivo Talks About Her Research Into Real Events for the Dawn of the Blood Witch Series



Research done for writing is an important component to the overall process of creating a novel. Even if you are writing fantasy or sci-fi, being able to ground your readers with a sense of some type of reality allows for better connections made between reader and text. It’s especially important if you are writing about a certain time period and can nail down the nuances of speech and setting within the world. It adds to the life of the story and gives your audience a richer understanding of what you are trying to convey.

With my Dawn of the Blood Witch saga, I’ve created an intergenerational and layered world that spans various timelines and uses specific events in time as the backdrop for the plot of each book moving forward. For Witch of the Silver Locust, I chose to divide the book into three critical parts to highlight three specific moments in the lifetime of main character, Trent. The amount of research intensified as I got deeper into the story, as two of the time periods I chose were not that long ago (1966 and 1977). I wanted to be faithful to the actual events surrounding the formation of the Church of Satan in 1966, and the telling of the Son of Sam murders in 1977, while putting my own literary spin on what was happening with my characters during those times. My research included a boat load of internet searches (sorry, FBI) and some pretty crazy documentary watching (I highly recommend “Sons of Sam” on Netflix, as it solidified a theory I had always felt since I was a teenager with a macabre curiosity about serial killers).   

Bottom line is this: if you’re writing, you should be researching. It’s crucial to your character and world-building and can enhance your reader’s enjoyment if they can make certain connections. 😊


Witch of the Silver Locust 
Dawn of the Blood Witch 
Book Three
Maria DeVivo

Genre: Occult Horror 
Publisher: 4 Horsemen Publications
Date of Publication: January 24, 2023
ISBN: 
ASIN: 
Word Count: 59k

Tagline: Trent travels through time to find the Blodheska and open the gates of Hell.

Book Description: 

Follow Trent as he unveils the origin story of the mysterious and powerful world of witches across centuries. He’s been known as the witch Trond, or even as Galen, and finally Trent, the Witch of the Silver Locust. He will seek the Blodheska no matter where or when to nurture the powers they hold.

Traversing each moment, he must face opposing forces that have their own plans for their ideal apocalypse. He will face his enemies no matter if they are human or demon--or even the Church of Satan itself. As he defends his goal, Trent will ally with both new and old friends as he tries to open the gateway to the old ones and bring about the witch utopia of New Eden on earth.

Inspired by true events, this tale follows Trent as he endures an exorcism, the Church of Satan, and the Son of Sam while moving closer to fulfilling his destiny.

Reader Advisory: Witch of the Silver Locust contains violence, gore, Satanic rituals, and graphic sexual situations

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Excerpt:

Three moon tides had passed, and Runa remained in our care. A subject? A prisoner? I could not truly tell the difference. Sten had returned to the cave that first night with the supplies Aizel told him to procure—supplies that were just a diversion so that she could make her final judgment on what was to be done with the girl. Aizel told Sten to set up camp in our village and wait for us to call for him. He knew she was well respected and that our people would take care of him if need be, so he left our cave to go into town and patiently waited until his child was delivered from the evil that took hold of her hugr and fylgja—in essence, her soul.

Sten was obedient and did as he was told—partly because he was a doting father who wanted to see his daughter healed, and partly, because at his core, he was a weak man who fell easily under Aizel’s spell. She promised him she would do whatever she could to help Runa, and if that meant Sten had to run into a pack of snarling wolves, he would have complied. But I knew the truth. There was no intention of expelling the draugr from the girl. Aizel was stalling for time as the demon inside Runa slowly festered and consumed her bit by bit.

And as the days passed, I purposefully and consciously locked my mind like a steel cage against Aizel so she couldn’t go digging around. I hadn’t told her what I had heard Runa say—how she had called out the sacred nickname my sister had bestowed upon me, for I knew she would have forbidden me to even go near the girl after that. Nevertheless, I was intrigued. How would she have known that name unless by some divine intervention? I was certainly convinced that this was more than just the average possession we were used to dealing with, and I was determined to find out more. What was this demon, and why had it made itself known to me the night of the full moon, and more specifically during a time of my great despondency?

So, without Aizel’s knowledge of my actions, I stole away into the storage alcove where Runa had been tied up for the last three nights in hopes of getting as much information from the creature as I could. I brought my canteen of water under the assumption that maybe a drink would satisfy it and give it reason to open up. When I reached the room, the air was thick with an unnatural heat and a steamy sheen blanketed the space around us, much like the steam from the hot springs a bit south of us.

I stood in the opening and watched as Runa’s slumped body breathed in and out with those frenzied pants. Her head tilted to one side as if the weight of her long, silky black hair was pulling her down in her slumber. She looked peaceful, even with her chest heaving up and down as frantically as it was. I wondered what type of frenetic dream she must be having. Was she running in a field? Were the wolves chasing her? Was a hoard of marauders ravaging her fragile body?

I dipped my foot gingerly across the imaginary threshold of the room, and suddenly she stopped, shot up, and opened her eyes wide. “All three,” she cooed with a smirk.
I froze for a moment, surprised by her abrupt actions, then continued my way inside.
Runa smiled wide, and the evidence of the draugr’s hold on her was blatantly clear. The soft pink tissue of her gums was coated with a dark black substance giving her mouth the appearance of a gaping void.

A void to swallow me whole and transport me to another dimension…

“You would like that, wouldn’t you?” she blurted.

“You know I’m not afraid of you, right?” I said. “I’ve seen the likes of you before.”

She giggled. “Oh, have you?” she responded. Her voice was low and gravelly, and it echoed in the cave as if there were more than one being speaking simultaneously. I couldn’t tell if it was the acoustics or if she actually represented the power of the many. And the voice, that guttural, grinding tone was so familiar to me, yet I could not place where I’d heard it before.
I approached her in the chair and held my canteen to her face. She eyed me coolly. “No,” she 
said. “It would just prolong the process.”

“Oh? And what process is this you speak of?”

“I know your plans. The girl is gone. There’s no use in saving her now.”

I pursed my lips together and nodded. “True. True.” I agreed. “But that doesn’t mean you still can’t serve a purpose for us.”

The draugr laughed aloud. Its voice pierced the inside of my eardrums so sharply that I winced.

“Untie me, and I’ll show you what purpose I can serve,” she said with a sly hint of seduction.

I looked down upon her and scoffed. Up close I could see the demon had begun to transform her. Runa’s visage had begun to crack. The pale skin of her once soft face had turned gray, and the dark green veins from beneath her skin pressed up close to the surface and pulsated as if they were their own living, breathing entities. Her cheeks had further sunken in, giving the sharp angles of her face an even more inhuman appearance. She grazed her thick black tongue across the surface of her dry lips. “I won’t bite,” she cooed.

I huffed and took a step back. “Do you think that’s what it would take to tempt me? I told you, I’ve done this before. You’re not the first draugr to grace this cavern. Do you even know how old I am?”

“Do you even know how old I am?” she shot back.

I knelt next to her and decided to seize the opportunity. Demons are all-knowing, or at least they think they are. And they like to talk, mainly about themselves and their powers. And it’s often their narcissism that contributes to their downfall. I remembered that from Blodwyn’s teachings. Long ago, she had guided me through my first expulsion of a draugr. I had watched her perform the ritual flawlessly on many occasions, and when it came time for me to go out on my own, it was less than a stellar effort. “Don’t worry,” Blodwyn had said, “your strengths lie elsewhere. We each have our own gifts and talents. Don’t let this one failure discourage you. And I wouldn’t even call it a failure…”

“The boy would have died anyway,” the draugr said, finishing my memory.

I pulled back a bit. “Oh. So, you’re in here?” I said, pointing to my temple.

“Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. It comes and goes like flashes of light, like a gust of icy wind, like the paper-thin cry of the locust swelling to a crescendo then leveling off.”

My face twisted in confusion for a second. “How did you know that name?”

She closed her eyes and bowed her head forward. “I know not of what you speak,” she said with an agitated tone.

I placed my hand on her knee, and she quickly opened her eyes again. “Yes, you do. You said a name the first night you were here. You called out to me.”

She laughed again. A low and menacing rumble from her chest. “Pink Silver,” she grimaced, and her chest heaved up giving way to a wretched cough. She turned her head to the opposite side of where I knelt, spit out a gob of inky black substance, cleared her throat, and looked back at me.

“Tell me your name,” I commanded.

The draugr ‘tsked’ her thick black tongue against the back of her teeth.

“You told Aizel! Why won’t you tell me? You know my name, Trond. And you know my secret name, Ruz. It’s only fair if we’re going to continue this relationship, don’t you think?”

The draugr’s voice lowered, “I told that witch nothing!” it spat. “She stole that from me.

The girl was fighting hard, and there was a moment of weakness. I’m better now.” It smiled again, and for a split second. There were maggots weaving in and out of its teeth. I blinked rapidly, hoping it would go away. The draugr laughed.




About the Author:

Maria is the Author of the Amazon bestselling and award winning series The Coal Elf Chronicles, the YA psychological horror series The Altered Experience, and the NA Urban Fantasy series The Aestrangel Trinity. 

When not writing about dark fantasy and horror, she teaches Language Arts and Journalism to middle school students in Florida. A lover of all things dark and demented, she takes pleasure in warping the comfort factor in her readers’ minds. Just when you think you’ve reached a safe space in her stories, she snaps you back into her twisted reality.














Monday, January 23, 2023

How to Get Away with Murder (Or Not) with Mystery Author A.N. Sage #ParanormalCozyMystery #Mystery #MurderMystery



How to Get Away with Murder

The most intricate, and my favorite, part of writing a murder mystery is planning the whodunit. So much work goes into developing the threads that tie the suspects, and most don’t even make it on the page! To write a successful mystery, one must perfect the most important part: learn how to get away with murder in order to solve the crime. 

So, how do we do that?

The first and likely the most fun part of getting away with murder is figuring out who did the crime. Remember the butler in the library with the candlestick? Writing a murder mystery is a bit like playing Clue, except the result is a complex web of connections. To create a realistic crime, we must make certain the killer is capable and has the means to commit it. 

In other words, you want the reader to be surprised but to also feel like they could have figured it out. There are a few steps to take to achieve this balance.

Steps to Get Away with Murder

Step One:
Start with the victim. Once you know who your victim will be, make a list of all their connections. Then figure out how those connections are connected to each other. At the end, you should end up with a twisted mess of people who are close without even knowing it. Which will take you to the next step.

Step Two:
Get yourself a murder board. Have you ever watched a crime show where they showed the detective pining away beside a board full of red lines and post it notes? Time to break out the twine because to get away with murder, you need to know who to avoid. Place every name from step one on your board and draw lines to indicate their connections. 

Step Three:
Means and Motive. This is a crucial part because it will help eliminate suspects throughout the investigation. Look at your suspect pool and note who had the means and the motives to commit the crime. You want to make sure there are enough capable suspects in the pool to muddy up the investigation. 

Step Four:
The truths and lies. To make your crime even harder to solve, make sure every suspect has something to hide. Each interview should reveal one truth and one lie: the lie often pointing to the next suspect on the list. Remember, the goal is to get away with a crime and what better way to do it than to frame someone else?

Step Five: 
If you’ve made this far, congratulations! You might actually have a chance of getting away. The only thing standing in your way are those pesky breadcrumbs that have been sprinkled throughout the story. If they go unnoticed, you get to escape the handcuffs with your name on it. 

But this is a murder mystery, and every good mystery has to be solved.

Sorry to misguide you, but there is not getting away with murder today! The detective has caught up with your schemes and there is nowhere to hide. On the plus side, you get to do it all over again soon. The thing about murder mysteries is there is always more than one case to solve. See you for the next one! 

A Grave Roast
Orchard Hollow 
Book One
A.N. Sage

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Cauldron Press
Date of Publication: January 23, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-989868-28-7
ASIN: B0BPDXZ7F5
Number of pages: Approximately 340
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Cauldron Press Designs

Book Description: 

Piper Addison has three problems: a broken espresso machine, malfunctioning magic, and a dead body. Guess which one she doesn’t see coming?

One month from forty, Piper Addison thinks she finally has life figured out. Sure, her bank account could be fuller and the cafe she opened with the last of her savings could use some help, but what’s a few kinks for an Orchard Hollow witch?

Too bad Piper can’t witch to save her life, which is exactly what she might need to do when a dead body is discovered in the alley behind her cafe. To make matters worse, all the evidence points to Piper and the local sheriff is not too keen on the town’s paranormal inhabitants.

When a mysterious envelope lands on Piper’s doorstep, she has a decision to make: go behind the sheriff’s back and try to clear her name, or spend her fortieth birthday in a prison cell.

A Grave Roast is a paranormal cozy mystery complete with an unlucky witch, a ghost familiar, and a feisty raccoon with a talent for getting into sticky situations.




Excerpt:

We started for the front door when my attention caught on something on the floor of the hall. Close to the bedroom lay a small carpet with two silver dishes, one filled with water and the other empty. I bent down and picked up the empty dish, reading the inscription etched into the metal. “Margaret the Third.”

“Who?” Stella asked.

I put the dish down. “Daniel’s dog. Did you see a dog around here?”

The ghost shook her head and looked around.

“Me either. Very odd.”

“Maybe someone else has it? Or the police took it or something?”

My thoughts ran a mile a minute, and I steadied my breathing, continuing the trek to the front. “Maybe.” Before leaving, I went back into the kitchen and opened all the cupboards.

Motioning for Stella to get closer, I nodded toward the big bag of dog food in one cupboard. “Don’t you think if they took the dog, they’d take her food?”

“I don’t know,” Stella said. She opened her mouth with a fake yawn. “Well, this was about as fun as a trip to the dollar store, so good luck with the rest and I’ll see you at home.”

With that, she disappeared, leaving me alone in the apartment once more. I stared at the dog food for another few minutes, trying to figure out why someone would take Daniel’s dog, but not anything to feed her with. If Daniel had a dog sitter, I was sure they’d take care of the animal, considering how important she was to the warlock. And if it was the police who took her… I shook the thought away. Why did the police need a spoiled brat of a dog? If anything, they’d ship her off to a shelter.

I made a mental note to check the animal shelter in the morning to ease my spinning mind and walked to the front. Before I left, I cast a glance at the stack of papers on the console table where Cilia’s threatening email hid in the pile.

“Why was she so angry with you?” I asked the empty room.

The next question I kept to myself, refusing to give it power. Was Cilia angry enough to kill? If it was her that hurt the warlock, it still didn’t explain the envelope I received or the talisman. Unless the talisman was Cilia’s and Daniel stole it?

But why?

It seemed the visit to the warlock’s apartment only sparked more questions, and I still found nothing that could help clear my name in the eyes of the police. “What if—No, don’t even think about it!”

I reached for the door handle.

“Don’t think about what?” Stella asked behind me.

My mind must have been spinning furiously because this time, I didn’t have a mini heart attack when she snuck up on me. “I thought you went home.”

“I did. Turns out it’s quite a bore there as well,” she explained. “So, what is it you shouldn’t think about?”

Lips in a thin line, I looked at the console table again. “Just wondering about the dog,” I told her. “And the hex pouch. And Cilia.”

“Who’s Cilia?”

“One of Nancy’s coven mates. Looks like she was pretty ticked off with Daniel for some promotion he got. I was wondering if she could have been mad enough to do something about it.”

Stella’s face paled, or as pale as it could get for a ghost. “Witches will be witches, darling.” She turned around and started to vanish again, but before she did, she said something absolutely crazy. “If you’re that worried about it, why not ask her yourself?”

As my wild familiar disappeared, her words lingered in the air where she once stood, and for the first time, I didn’t think her insane. I hated to admit it, but Stella had a point. There was one clear way to answer all my questions and find out how I got roped into this gruesome situation.

I had to question Cilia, and I had to do it before the police. If I was right and she had something to do with Daniel’s death, I knew the witch would pin the entire thing on me, if only for the chance to gain favor with Nancy.

This, friends, was exactly why I didn’t have a coven.

You couldn’t trust a witch, not in Orchard Hollow.





About the Author:

A.N. Sage is a bestselling, award-winning author of mystery and fantasy novels. She has spent most of her life waiting to meet a witch, vampire, or at least get haunted by a ghost. In between failed seances and many questionable outfit choices, she has developed a keen eye for the extra-ordinary.

A.N. spends her free time reading and binge-watching television shows in her pajamas. Currently, she resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband who is not a creature of the night and their daughter who just might be.

A.N. Sage is a Scorpio and a massive advocate of leggings for pants.