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Sunday, April 21, 2019

Excerpt: Other Than by Mia Jo Celeste + giveaway

We are super excited to be part of the Book Tour for OTHER THAN, a thrilling gaslamp fantasy by Mia Jo Celeste. The new audiobook version is now available. Check it out!

by Mia Jo Celeste 
January 27, 2017
Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy, Paranormal Historical Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Other Than #PNR A purgatory as dangerous as Dr. Moreau’s Island with zombies and romance.

It only takes one drink from the Water of Immortality to kill Evie Woods—halfway. Trapped in undead flesh, the world’s last skin-slider wakens on an island purgatory where a cursed spring bubbles with immortality, and zombie cannibals crave living flesh.

Her only hope of escape rests in the hands of the one man who would see her fail. Bound to her by cords stronger than death, Lord Victor Lowell is both the man of her dreams, and her darkest nightmares. Contrary and intractable, Victor preys on others to maintain his angelic charisma and preternatural prowess. Drawn to the compellingly gallant and vulnerable soul behind his mercurial humors, Evie can only watch as protecting her forces Victor to sacrifice yet more of himself to the ancient evil long tethered to his soul.

Trapped in an ever-escalating war they can’t stop, Victor and Evie fight time for a cure, but as the long days pass blackness tears at Evie, ripping her thoughts from her one memory at a time. Victor will to do whatever it takes to prevent her from deteriorating into a rotting husk, even if it means dooming himself, but Evie won’t surrender his soul without a fight. Battle lines drawn, the soul mates resolve to find redemption or die trying.



Excerpt:
He materialized in the inky shadow.

Or rather his apparition did. His ghostly frame hovered before her, sinuous and lithe. Against his shadowed form, the string glimmered like liquid silver. Slowly he unwrapped her, tossing the spectral bands to the floor until a coil lay between him and her.

Something inside her chest fluttered. “You followed me.”

An accusation.

He nodded. With a slight shrug, he spread his hands. “You shouldn’t be alone.”

She wanted to turn, giving him her back, but her betraying gaze remained fixated upon him. When he paced around her, she waved him away. “Don’t.”

He caught her hand and placed an insubstantial kiss in her palm. “Let me help you…please.”

A gallant gesture, perhaps, but her skin-slider sensitivity noted the rigidity of his stance, the twitch along his jaw, and the slight narrowing of his eyes. How could he think of helping her when he was in so much pain?

Ordinarily, she might be grateful. Might…if loss hadn’t hollowed her.

She ripped her cooling flesh from his spectral arms. “I don’t deserve kindness.”

“Good.” He gave her a rakish smirk. “Because I’m not kind.”

She shook her head, biting back the emerging smile that had no place on her countenance. She couldn’t be civil, couldn’t risk the involvement. “I can’t go on like this—stuck betwixt life and death.”

“You must. Don’t you see, sweet dove? You’re beyond both. You’re immortal. Like me.”

About the Author:
Mia Jo Celeste comes from a family of writers and English teachers, so it was no surprise when she chose to pursue both careers. She grew up watching horror movies and reading romances. To her, the two genres go together like salty and sweet in kettle corn.



Book Tour Schedule
Follow the book tour from April 15 - 27, 2019.
Visit each tour stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more! To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Other Than Book Page at Book Unleashed.

Giveaway
Prizes up for grabs:
Five (5) $5 Amazon Gift Cards
Contest runs from April 3 - 27, 2019.
In partnership with

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Premier of Monthly Old School Horror Webcomic (all ages): Brooding Muse

Brooding Muse Announces Premier of Monthly Old School Horror Webcomic Illustrated by Nik Poliwko & Earl Geier
For more information be sure to visit

Old school horror is alive and well. Brooding Muse is a compelling new webcomic fusing classic themes, remarkable work from two very-skilled artists and a compelling storyline that would make H.P. Lovecraft proud.

Fans of black and white classic horror comics have a good reason to be happy. New webcomic Brooding Muse celebrates the genre to the fullest recently releasing their 8-page prologue backed by an online store featuring a diverse selection of Brooding Muse merchandise. Featuring the illustrations of Nik Poliwko and Earl Geier and a scary but appropriate for all ages plot, the webcomic has been greeted by comic enthusiasts with open arms.

“We wanted to do something as a family,” commented Patrick co-creator of the Brooding Muse world with his wife Jen. “Everyone knows it is important to do things you enjoy, so for us to be able to do this comic and develop our merchandise with the help and influence of the people we love most has been a great experience. This teamwork has resulted in a storyline that contains elements that all ages can connect with and merchandise that appeals to all ages. We hope our fans out there enjoy it as much as we did making it.”

Some highlights of merchandise currently available from Brooding Muse include head-turning t-shirts, hats, and even skateboard decks. Expect more items to be added as the project grows.

The early feedback for Brooding Muse has been extremely positive.
-John S., from California, recently said in a five-star review, “I really love horror comics and Brooding Muse has me totally hooked with their prologue. I can't wait to see what happens next. I just ordered a t-shirt to show support!”

Friday, April 19, 2019

Excerpt: Staking Cinderella by Kate Morgan + giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Staking Cinderella blog tour! Today I have an exclusive excerpt for you, and a chance to win one of two digital copies of this very vampy book!

Staking Cinderella
by Kate Morgan
April 18th, 2019

Genre: Horror/ Vampire Romance
Gavin’s got a serious problem. A “praise Jee-sus” rich bitch caught him fanging—and banging—his Halloween date. Now she’s playing Holy Vampire Killer, and it’s ticking him off.

Since then, Gavin’s found someone better to occupy his mind and heart. Isolde—in bed, on the couch, in the shower. She has a thing for Disney princesses, but he’s willing to overlook it. Women like her only come around once or twice in five hundred years. He knows.

Then the Jesus-freak kidnaps Isolde to bait a deathtrap for Gavin. Abandoning Isolde is unthinkable, but rescuing her could mean death for both of them.

*Author describes this as a “steamy vampire mystery/ horror” Sounds good to me!



EXCERPT
StakingCinderellaCover

A quintessential cowboy parked his truck in the packed community college main lot. The complete Scooby-Doo Gang walked past on his left, the Bob’s Burgers cast on his right. He knew he should’ve eaten before coming to this Halloween party. Never go grocery shopping hungry. He was old enough to know better. A sexy nun and a sexier nurse followed the Scooby Gang. So much exposed neck. He closed his eyes and marshaled his forces. Half an hour to accomplish his objective and he could escape home and feed. Gavin Donne, historian, costume designer and drama instructor, exited and locked his truck. At the gym entrance he took a deep breath of night air and choked on cigarette smoke. “Fancy-boy actor’s lungs can’t take it.” Male laughter. “Don’t be an ass, Cal.” A pudgy girl patted Gavin’s back. “You okay, Mr. Donne?” Gavin spat into the barberry bushes lining the sidewalk. “Yes, thank you, Stella. I see your brother is still trying to prove his manhood."

About the Author:
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Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Kate Morgan celebrates the day she jumped the wall with as much enthusiasm as her birthday. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she takes a break from inspiring nightmares, she writes ex-nun PI mysteries under her real name, Alice Loweecey. In her spare time she can be found growing vegetables in her garden and water lilies in her koi pond.


Mini Tour Schedule
April 15th
Reads & Reels (Excerpt) https://readsandreels.com/
Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com
Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com
April 16th
B is for Book Review (Excerpt) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com
Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/
Little Tinklabee (Review) https://littletinkablee.com
April 17th
I Love Books and Stuff Blog (Excerpt) https://ilovebooksandstuffblog.wordpress.com
April 18th

Breakeven Books (Excerpt) https://breakevenbooks.com
April 19th
I Smell Sheep (Excerpt) http://www.ismellsheep.com

Blog Tour Organized By: 
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Excerpt: Demon Magic and a Martini (The Guild Codex: Spellbound #4) by Annette Marie + giveaway

Demon Magic and a Martini (The Guild Codex: Spellbound #4)
by Annette Marie 
April 12, 2019
Published by: Dark Owl Fantasy Inc.
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
When I first landed a bartending job at the local guild, I didn’t know a thing about magic. These days, I’m practically an expert on the different magical classes, but there’s one nobody ever talks about: Demonica.

Turns out they have a good reason for that. My guild is strictly hellion-free, because who wants to risk life and limb to control the biggest bullies on the mythic playground?

Well, some people do, and now a demon has been loosed in the city. My three best friends are determined to slay it, but even badass combat mages are critically out-magicked. And that’s not all. The monster they’re tracking—it’s not hiding. It’s not fleeing. It’s not leaving a trail of corpses everywhere it goes.

The demon is hunting too. And in a city full of mythics, it’s searching for deadlier prey.

If we can’t unravel the demon’s sinister motivations, more innocent people will die, but finding the answers means digging into dark secrets … and learning truths I never wanted to know.

Note: The three mages are definitely sexy, but this series isn’t a reverse harem. It’s 100% fun, sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy.

THE GUILD CODEX: SPELLBOUND

Three Mages and a Margarita (#1)

Dark Arts and a Daiquiri (#2) 
Two Witches and a Whiskey (#3) 
Demon Magic and a Martini (#4) 



Excerpt:
Ezra’s head swiveled, his shoulders tight.
My steps slowed as I broke out of my reverie. “What’s wrong?”

Stopping in the center of the narrow alley, he turned in a circle, his smile nowhere in sight. As his brow scrunched with focus, he faced the way we’d come—then his head snapped back, gaze jumping to the rooftops three stories up.

He dropped his bags and they hit the ground with a crunch. Grasping my arm, he yanked me so hard I almost fell.

“Ezra?” I gasped.

He hauled me into a stumbling run and we sprinted to an intersection of alleys. Fifty feet away on our right waited the brightly lit and bustling street. The other three directions were dark, narrow alleys full of dumpsters and graffiti-marked overhead doors.

Ezra glanced at the bright street, then pulled me in the opposite direction. “Ezra!” I yelped, his grip on my arm painful. “What’s wrong?”

His gaze shot upward. This time I turned fast enough to follow his line of sight, my neck craning back. The rooftops loomed over the narrow alley, the silhouettes marred by power lines and rickety fire escapes.

Fear hit me like a bolt of arctic lightning, seizing every muscle in my body.

Two buildings down, perched on a rooftop, was a shape that belonged only in nightmares and horror movies. Something blacker than ebony, horns rising off its head, and eyes that glowed like twin drops of magma.

Ezra and I fled down the alley.

Panic squeezed my lungs but my legs pumped anyway, driven by animalistic terror. Death stalked us, and my lizard brain knew it. Survival instincts screamed in my skull, and I clutched Ezra’s hand as we dashed through the maze.

I didn’t look back to see if it was following us. I just ran, half a step behind Ezra, struggling to keep pace. He kept pulling away until our arms were stretched between our bodies, then he’d slow again to let me catch up.

We reached another intersection and he wheeled into an even narrower alley. Heading east. Fleeing toward the Crow and Hammer.

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. The guild was full of combat mythics resting between shifts. We didn’t have to outrun the demon. We just had to reach the guild before the demon attacked us.

We sprinted between buildings, and I prayed I wouldn’t trip. Couldn’t fall. Had to run.

Ezra slammed to a halt. I flew past him before he yanked me off my feet and into his chest. He scrambled backward, holding me tight against him, the soles of my shoes brushing the wet pavement.

Metal creaked overhead, then groaned under a heavy weight. Two stories up, a dark shape perched on a fire escape.

Ezra dragged me backward, keeping the demon in sight. Hysterical babble filled my head. Demon. The demon was here. It was stalking us. Why was it here? How was it here? It was supposed to be terrorizing combat mythics twenty blocks east of Gastown.

Reaching what he must’ve considered an acceptable distance, Ezra spun around and broke into a run, pulling me with him. We raced back to the intersection, and he turned north. Yes. Go north, cut east again, bolt for the guild. We weren’t that far. Only a few more blocks.

We got six steps before Ezra pulled up short again. He backpedaled and I almost fell from the sudden change of direction.

The demon landed on a wooden beam above a set of power lines, halfway along the northern alley. Waiting for us. Taunting us with our inability to outrun it.

Ezra backed up step by step, his breathing fast and harsh. I clutched his hand, my limbs shaking. We retreated into the intersection of alleys. The demon had cut us off when we went east. It’d moved to stop us from going north. Just south of us was the crowded street the alley paralleled.

With nowhere else to go, we ran west—away from the Crow and Hammer. Where else could we go? I raced beside him, too frightened to think beyond the next moment. Just run. No time for strategy. Just—

We skidded to a stop again, but not because the demon had cut us off.

A four-story wall rose in our path. A dead end. I scoured the rows of tall overhead doors, all shut and locked. A single lightbulb glowed above a recessed metal door with a heavy padlock hanging from it. We were trapped.

Ezra and I spun around.

The demon prowled into the alley, its magma-red eyes radiating malevolent power. A low, growling laugh throbbed from its throat.

Terror buckled my legs. Ezra grabbed my waist and pulled me against his side.

The demon was huge—seven feet tall with a heavy head. Four thick horns rose off its hairless skull, covered in dark skin with a reddish undertone. Bands of muscle crossed its broad chest and its thick arms were weaponized by the spines protruding from its elbows and the curved talons tipping its strong fingers. Black cloth, covered by interlocking metal armor and a wide belt, wrapped its hips and upper thighs. A heavy tail dragged behind it, ending in a bony plate that could crush a human skull with one hit.

Petrifying fear like I’d never felt before closed my throat. No mythic had frightened me this much. No black-magic rogue. No darkfae. This was something else, something worse.

It was pure evil. It was death given form, the embodiment of murder and bloodlust.

As though it could hear my thoughts, the creature’s lips pulled back to reveal huge, flesh-tearing fangs. Its quiet, gravelly laugh echoed down the alley, and it took another step. The beast was toying with us, drinking in our terror as it stalked closer. Even fifty feet away, its suffocating presence filled the alley. I couldn’t breathe through the icy chill.



Ezra’s arm tightened around me—and I realized the cold was coming from him. 


About the Author:
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Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.




GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT)
3x $10 Amazon gift cards

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Spotlight: Fire Season (Eric Carter #4) by Stephen Blackmoore + giveaway

DAW Books is proud to present FIRE SEASON (DAW Mass Market; April 16, 2019) the fourth installment in the paranormal noir Eric Carter series that follows a necromancer through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.

Why you should read the Eric Carter novels:
· They draw on Aztec mythology and deities (which have been explored less often in the fantasy genre than Greek or Norse legends!)
· Edgy dark humor
· High action
· A tough anti-hero with hidden depths

If you love the Harry Dresden novels, you will love this series.


Fire Season (Eric Carter #4) 
by Stephen Blackmoore
April 16, 2010

304 pages
Publisher: DAW
In FIRE SEASON, it’s one of the hottest summers the city has ever seen, and someone is murdering mages with fires. Necromancer Eric Carter is being framed for the killings and hunted by his own people. To Carter, everything points to the god Quetzalcoatl coming after him, after he defied the mad wind god in the Aztec land of the dead. But too many things aren't adding up, and Carter knows there's more going on. If he doesn't figure out what it is and put a stop to it fast, Quetzalcoatl won't just kill him, he'll burn the whole damn city down with him.


About the Author:
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Stephen Blackmoore is a writer of crime and horror whose work has appeared in the magazines Needle, Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, Thrilling Detective, Shots, and Demolition. He has also written essays on LA politics and crime for the website LAVoice.org and the LA Noir true crime blog. He lives in Los Angeles and can be found online at stephenblackmoore.com and Twitter @sblackmoore.


GIVEAWAY
print copy of Dead Things

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

$.99 sale: The Archangel Wars Series (Books 1 - 4) by Jonathan Yanez + excerpt

The Archangel Wars Series (Books 1 - 4)
by Jonathan Yanez
August 12, 2017
908 pages
Genre: Supernatural/Urban Fantasy
Cover Designer: Covers by Christian
Publisher: Archimedes Books
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR
Can a nobody become a hero?

They’re not your typical angels.

He’s not your typical hero...

Bullied, alone, and broken, Alan was ready to give up on life. Turns out, they had another plan for him.

A battle wages in the supernatural realm. Alan is soon recruited to join the angels. But he’ll discover there’s more to his new powers than even the Archangels expected.

Caught up in a world of ancient gods, death angels, demons, the four horsemen, and the three-headed dog, Cerberus, Alan must choose a side. Because whether he’s ready or not, he’s the center of everything.

Get lost in a new kind of supernatural adventure today where Archangels, Greek mythology, and legends meet apolcalyptic monsters. And where an unexpected champion overcomes personal obstacles and seeks forgiveness.

If you enjoy Linsey Hall, Judith Berens, Michelle Madow, Orlando Sanchez, or Shayne Silvers, you’ll get a kick out of The Archangel Wars.



Excerpt:
“My organization has been watching you since the night you jumped—fell—off the roof, and even before that. What we want is your help. What I mean to say is, we think a partnership would be mutually beneficial.”

Alan searched the dimly lit interior of the bar, for what, he wasn’t sure—cameras revealing he was being set up, dark-suited government agents poised to take him away for experimentation, or the FBI for all the money and merchandise he’d stolen over the past four years.

He scooted a bit closer to the edge of his booth, ready to run at a moment’s notice. As a general rule, he didn’t use his speed in public. Tonight could be an exception.

“Please, don’t do your super-speed thing,” Danielle said. “You’re not alone in this. I know you must have so many questions, and I can give you the answers you’ve been searching for. The world needs you, Alan.”

Alan’s chest constricted. For the very first time, fear of the real possibility of having his questions answered spread through him. For years, Alan had searched for an explanation to what he was, and every lead ended the same, with only more questions.

The server appeared, balancing a glass on a tray. Danielle turned her attention away from him and visibly brightened. “Oh, my Shirley Temple. There’s a cherry in it, too. Yesssss.”


About the Author:
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More animal than man, he bleeds caffeine and... Ah, I'm just kidding. It sounded cool though right?

I'm Jonathan, a former personal trainer turned full-time author and part-time model.

I could go on and on about how many books I've written and awards I've won and blah, blah, blah but I'd rather use this time for you to get to know the real me.

I write because that's what I was born to do and I freaking love doing it. Because of awesome people like you, I get to do it full time.

Connecting with fellow lovers of the written word is important to me so please join the Pack via my website at www.jonathan-yanez.com where you can grab an exclusive story or hang out with us in our reader FB group.




GIVEAWAY
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Grabby-Hands Syndrome: The Starlight Chronicles by C. S. Johnson + giveaway

Sometimes you run into a cover or series of covers that make you stop, bow down to the awesome and maybe drool and develop grabby-hands.

Today, I give you
 The Starlight Chronicles by C.S. Johnson
I love the fantasy vibe of these covers. My favorite is book 3 because...DRAGON! I also love book 2. Looks like book 7 has a different artist though. If you are into YA urban fantasy

They have earned my Grabby-hands stamp of approval.
Image result for grabby hands gif


by C. S. Johnson
December 29, 2014
330 pages

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/ coming-of-age
Sixteen-year-old Hamilton Dinger leads a charmed life. He’s got the grades for the top of the class, the abilities of a star athlete and Tetris player, and the charisma to get away with anything. Everything seems to be going along perfectly, including his plans to ask out Gwen Kessler, as he enters into tenth grade at Apollo Central High School. Everything, that is, until a meteor crashes into the city, releasing the Seven Deadly Sinisters and their leader, Orpheus, from their celestial prison, and awakening Hamilton’s longtime dormant supernatural abilities. Suddenly Hamilton finds reluctantly allied with his self-declared mentor, Elysian, a changeling dragon, and Starry Knight, a beautiful but dangerous warrior, as they seek to protect the souls of Apollo City from the Sinisters and their evil intentions. Can Hamilton overcome his ignorance and narrow-mindedness to see what is truly real? Can he give up his self-proclaimed entitlement to happiness in order to follow the call of a duty he doesn’t want? More importantly, will he willingly sacrifice all he has to find out the truth?  
About the Author:
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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family.



Giveaway
Print copy of the book
a Rafflecopter giveaway

R&R Book Tours

Monday, April 15, 2019

YA urban fantasy author Alexis N. Sage shares 5 WTF facts. + excerpt

YA urban fantasy author Alexis N. Sage shares 5 WTF facts.

1. I went to a photography school and had some questionable modeling experiences (as well as even more questionable haircut choices). The photo here is from a friend’s school project that revolved around his dreams and nightmares. Note the homemade mohawk/beehive hairdo. Bonus! Someone actually painted me blue. And I let them.


2. My mouth is big enough to fit my entire fist in. Useful for pizza nights.

3. When I was a kid, I thought I made my cat pregnant because she slept in my bed with me (the birds and the bees talk was clearly not a strong suit in my house). After a week of worrying that the kittens would come out looking like me I got over it for some other childish frill. If anyone is wondering, they came out looking like the cat next door.

4. I am obsessed with terrible, B-rated horror films. The cheesier the better! The most recent one I saw was Octopus which was quickly followed by Octopus 2.


5. I wrote my first Haiku at the age of four. It was about a cow and was never published. Ha!

AetherBorn (The Enuma Legacies Book One)
by Alexis N. Sage 
April 1st, 2019 
Genre: Young Adult/ Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9781999019822
ASIN: B07NY3HFHF
Number of pages: 258
Word Count: 50,640
What if you could stop a war you never knew existed?

There is a world of deities living among us. What would you do if you were the only one who could see them?

Ruby Black, a photography student at Westerlake University, seems to have the typical life of an awkward college kid. She has average grades, does not make friends easily, and is secretly in love with her best friend. Ruby is content with her place in the world. In fact, she quite likes it. That is until a simple incident on a packed, rush-hour subway train shatters her entire reality.

Reluctantly, Ruby finds herself in the middle of a war that has been brewing for centuries. A battle between powerful beings that have been living in secret under Ruby’s nose this entire time.

Will Ruby go back to her familiar life or will she choose the brooding stranger who opens her eyes to a world far more mysterious than she'd ever imagined? A world where her own powers are far greater than she could have known to be true...


Excerpt
Literally the Worst Train Ride Ever

Ruby could feel sweat starting to drip at the base of her back, forming a miniature pool and staining her vintage leather jacket right through her tank. The train had been stuck between stations for twenty minutes and there was no sign that it would start moving any time soon. Ruby was beginning to regret her decision of not snagging the last empty seat when she got on. This is literally the worst train ride ever, she grimaced as she rearranged her camera bag. She cast an eye for another people-free pocket on the train without any luck. Looks like it’s standing room only for the rest of the ride.

Being just a smidge over five feet tall, Ruby could usually sneak by crowds of people without any issues, and on any other day this claustrophobic train would not affect her at all. Today, however, the weight of two cameras in her bag was starting to take a toll, and she could not wait to get a glimpse of the sun again. Her dark, brown hair was starting to get soaking wet from the heat and she was using the side of her arm to side-swipe it out of her eyes.

I think I live here now. Might as well get comfortable. She shifted her weight from left to right and almost knocked over the young girl next to her with the tripod. She had originally strapped it to her back in hopes of taking up less space, but it had since slid down her back and was now protruding from her waist like the end of a bulky musket. Twenty-five minutes and counting.

She lowered her bag to the ground and tried to reach for her camera without causing any harm to anyone in her immediate orbit but the intention failed immediately. As soon as she bent over, the tripod slid up her back, over her head and made a very direct landing on the lap of the older man sitting across from her.
“I am so sorry!” Ruby perked up, and tried to get the three-legged monster off his newspaper, “The stupid thing will not stay put!” Ruby’s usually somewhat pale cheeks were flushed with embarrassment. Her only thought now was a quick getaway.

“It’s no problem, dear.” The man she almost impaled folded his paper and handed her the tripod, “Do you want to take a seat? It might be a while longer, I’m afraid.”

Do I ever! She thought; and honestly, if he had asked her a few minutes later she would have accepted. Luckily for him, she was not yet so tired as to forget her manners entirely.

“Oh, it’s ok. I’m sure it will get moving soon. I should probably take advantage of this anyhow.” Ruby aimed her lens at the man and took a photo. Her airy giggle made him smile, it’s not often a pretty young girl takes your photo.

Ruby clutched her camera lens and started surveying the train. Her eyes darted through the crowd with sniper-like determination. If she was going to be stuck here, she was definitely going to make the best of it!

So far, Ruby’s photography had been, as her professors would call it, an introvert’s daydream. She kept to herself when working, and mainly photographed objects that could not talk back. Her most recent series of rotting fruit had even won her a trip to France, which would have been quite exceptional if she had not been expected to spend ten days with a group of strangers. Unlike her parents, Ruby had not inherited the social butterfly gene and had always preferred the company of books, movies, and photos to actual beating hearts. No one was surprised when she was accepted to the photography program at Westerlake University. If there was a career that would allow Ruby to watch life and not actually live it, she’d be all in.

Her first two years at Westerlake were great. Her professors unintentionally labeled her a “young Man Ray” and she was left to her own devices for the majority of assignments. But this year was different. She had begun to be complacent in her work, and her lack of passion and enthusiasm was starting to get noticed. After their last lecture before Thanksgiving break, her favorite professor asked to meet her in his office.

“Come on in, Ruby.” His tone was different than usual. There was no intrigue, no playfulness. Just a straightforward stare and a beckoning to unchartered scoldings. His pale blue eyes narrowed, and when he took off his reading glasses, she knew she was in trouble. Professor Tremblay saved that maneuver for his troublemakers.

“How are you, Mr. Tremblay?” She brushed loose pieces of hair out of her eyes. The trouble with having mouse-thin hair was in keeping it from looking like an oil-slick all day. Ruby had gotten used to having bangs in her eyes, but something about this moment seemed serious. She tried to look as carefree as possible, but her nerves were coming through every word, “is everything all right?”

Tremblay was leaning forward on his desk and staring directly at her. Despite being quite small in build, his old age gave him a sense of superiority, which was likely why Ruby valued his opinion of her work above all others. You can’t mess up when one of the country’s best is teaching you. “Everything is fine, Ruby. I just wanted to have a quick chat to see what your plans are for your thesis. It seems like it’s shaping up to be quite interesting.”

“It’s going good. I’m still trying to figure out the exact direction I want to take with it...” she lied. She had no direction. She actually hadn’t even thought about it yet.

“May I offer some advice?” He crossed his arms and continued rapidly without letting her answer, “It might be time to try something different. You seem fairly comfortable with your subject matter. I understand that it is easy to get sucked into doing what you’re good at over and over again. But this is a school. This is your one chance to try everything and see what sticks, without repercussions or consequences.”

“Ok...” she had no idea where this was headed.

“I have a little assignment for you for over the holidays. Photograph people. Photograph as many people as you can and forget about the fruit and antiques and abandoned buildings. Can you do that for me?”

Where was this coming from? Ruby had never photographed people. He knew she wasn’t comfortable talking to strangers. Why would he ask this of her?

“You look puzzled.”

“I am, Mr.Tremblay. I just...” she chose her next words carefully, “I’ve never been keen on portraiture, sir.”

“I know. That’s precisely why I’m asking you to do this.” Tremblay leaned back in his chair, his slightly more relaxed posture made Ruby breathe in deeply and lower her shoulders. He’s just trying to help, she thought.

“Are you worried my thesis will not be good enough?” Her hazel eyes started to take on a deeper shade as they filled with water. She might not have had any idea of what her thesis was but that did not mean she couldn’t get defensive over it.

“Not at all! I’m sure it will be as wonderful as the rest of your work! I just don’t want you to graduate without having learned it all. Do you think you can try that?”

How could she not try it? When your favorite professor asks you to do something for your own development, you don’t say no. Yet, here she was now, forcing herself to interrupt the train ride of the strangers around her, sweating buckets and regretting agreeing to this little project in the first place.

Just a few shots and you can put your camera away.

She ran her lens across the crowd. Focusing on each passenger’s face and trying to figure out why they were there. Where they were going? Were they in a hurry? Were they as uncomfortable as she was?

As she scoped the tin tube, her view landed at the back of the train on two men slightly older than she was. Are they fighting? She twisted her lens to sharpen the focus as one of the men leaned in closer to the other. He seemed to be whispering something, something that felt forceful and predatory. His scowling jaw locked tight and his eyes gleamed with pure hatred. He grabbed the man next to him by the shoulders. To anyone else watching it would have looked like a friendly pat on the back but Ruby saw better. She could see the fear in his victim’s face. Something was wrong here.

She tried to move closer to the two, but she was trapped in place by the crowd. She put up her lens and zoomed in. The attacker reached into his pocket. What was he getting? Ruby couldn’t see, there were too many people around. She aimed her camera at his hand as it moved out of his pocket and back towards his train neighbor. Something small. A ring maybe? Whatever it was, he quickly buried it in his palm and placed his hand on his neighbor’s chest. She could see terror forming on the victim’s face. His entire body convulsing with fear.

“Hey!” She screamed as loudly as she could. The entire car now shifted their gaze to the awkward, sweaty girl with the camera. “Stop it!”

She lifted the camera to her face again, what was he doing? Something flashed in the viewfinder. She zoomed in closer. What is that? There seemed to be marks on the attacker’s arms. Some sort of triangles and lines. Glowing blue like a propane fire. What the hell is that?

The train shook a bit as the engines started up again. Some of the lights that were lighting the advertisements across the top of the car flashed briefly and stopped as the train began moving out of the tunnel. Ruby heard a woman’s scream coming from the back of the car. She focused her lens at the crowd standing in a circle. Her gaze shifted down at the train floor. The man she saw being attacked was lying lifeless, face down on the ground. She moved her camera around the train trying to find the attacker. Nothing. How could he get off the train? Ruby lowered her camera to her side. She looked at the old man in the seat across from her who seemed more interested in the crossword in front of him.

What just happened here? What did she just see?

The train slowly inched towards a stop at the next station. The doors stood steady for a brief moment then opened to let air into the train. People rushed out, pushing each other aside. The crowd carried Ruby out of the train like a wave of water, a tsunami really. She stood on the platform and watched as two officers made their way into the car, with the doors shutting tight behind them.

“Attention passengers. This platform is currently closed due to an emergency situation. Emergency responders are on their way. We apologize for any inconvenience.” 

About the Author: 
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Alexis N. Sage 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, Alexis has developed a keen eye for the extra-ordinary.


Since chasing the supernatural does not pay the bills, Alexis has dabbled in creative entrepreneurship, marketing and retail management. She spends her free time reading thrillers and binge-watching television shows in her pajamas. 

Currently, Alexis resides in Toronto, Canada with her husband who is not a creature of the night.

She is a Scorpio and a massive advocate of leggings for pants.

Excerpt: The Master of Dreams (The Dreamscape Trilogy Book 1) by Mike Resnick + giveaway

The Master of Dreams (The Dreamscape Trilogy Book 1)
by Mike Resnick
April 16, 2019
304 pages
Publisher: DAW
Opening a new fantasy trilogy from Hugo award winner Resnick, this novel offers an adventure through space and time as Eddie Raven tries to outrun the dark forces pursuing him.

Eddie Raven isn't quite sure what's happening to him--and he's in a race to find out before it kills him.

His adventures begin with a shooting in a very strange shop in Manhattan--but soon he finds himself the owner of a very familiar bar in Casablanca. By the time he adjusts to that reality, he's suddenly become one of several undersized people helping a young woman search for a wizard. And after confronting the wizard, he somehow finds himself in Camelot.

But as he rushes to solve the mystery of his many appearances, a larger threat looms. Because someone or something is stalking him through time and space with deadly intent....


Excerpt:
Suddenly a small man clad in a black robe with black ponytail, arching eyebrows, and exotic tattoos all over his arms and neck emerged from behind a curtain.

“Welcome,” he said to Lisa with an accent that neither she nor Raven could place. “And how may I be of service to you?”

“Your sign says that you read fortunes,” replied Lisa.

“So I do,” said the man. “And since our hands will be touching each other, it is only fair that we know each other’s names. I am Mako.”

“And I am—”

“Lisa,” he said with a smile. “I know.”

“What now?” asked Lisa, wondering how he knew her name— but that just made him all the more exotic and mysterious. “Do we sit at a table, or—?”

“Whatever makes you comfortable,” replied Mako. “I can do it right here if you like.”

“How much is this going to cost?” asked Raven.

“For someone as beautiful as Lisa, ten dollars.”

“You must read a lot of fortunes to pay for this place,” said Raven.

“Sometimes all it takes is the correct hand,” answered Mako as another customer entered the store.

Raven turned to look at the newcomer. He was a large bald man, much closer to seven feet than six, and it was clear that his burly physique came from muscles, not fat. He wore a light colored trench coat, and for all Raven knew he was naked beneath it, because except for sandals his legs were bare at least from the bottom of the coat to his knees, and his hands and wrists were the same. His eyes were the deepest black. Raven decided that he looked right at home in a shop that was selling the supernatural.

“Have we met?” asked Raven.

“Why should you think so?” asked the man.

Raven shrugged. “I don’t know. I just have a feeling that I’ve seen you before.”

The customer half smiled and half grimaced, and Raven turned his attention back to Lisa and Mako.

“You are twenty-three years old,” said Mako, staring at her open palm. “You were born in February. You like Sondheim musicals. You adore Agatha Christie’s mystery novels. You—” Suddenly he froze.

“What is it?” asked Lisa.

“You will die in seconds!” he whispered. He stared at her. “But why?” He turned to Raven. “It’s got to be you! Why did you come here? You know better!”

“What are you talking about?” demanded Raven. “Or it is that you’ll charge ten dollars to read her palm and ninety bucks to save her from a nonexistent—”

Before he could finish the sentence a gunman entered the shop and started blazing away. Lisa fell to the floor with two bullets buried in her chest. Mako followed an instant later with a bullet to his head.

The gunman frowned, turned, aimed at Raven, and pulled the trigger again, but the tall customer dove between them and took the bullet meant for Raven.

Raven could hear nearby sirens and people screaming. He spun around, looking for the shooter, but the man had fled into the gathering crowd. He stood where he was, numbly surveying the scene, then knelt down to see if any life remained in Lisa.

And as he did so, before he could determine if she was still breathing, he heard a voice that seemed to emanate from the empty air surrounding him. Run, Eddie Raven! You knew better than to come here! Nothing can save you if you don’t flee!

And, almost without thinking, Raven opened the door and ran.

About the Author:
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Mike Resnick has won awards in the USA, Spain, France, Japan, Croatia, Poland and China. He is, according to Locus, the all-time leading award winner, living or dead, for short science fiction, and is 4th on the all-time list when novels are added. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and can be found online at mikeresnick.com.



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