Tag Archives: Ellie Ferguson

Here a snippet, there a snippet

(Kilted Dave is suffering the pre-holiday ritual so many parents have past and present. His two precious little ones are ailing. Nothing serious, just enough to make them — and the rest of the household — miserable and tired. So I volunteered to jump in and help out. The only problem is, I’m pre-coffee and don’t have a topic. Sooooo, I’m going to do what any good writer would do. I’m going to post a snippet and then link you to the book. After all, I’m sure there’s at least one Christmas gift you still have yet to buy. Yes, shameless plug but, as I said, I’m still pre-coffee.)

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1)

It’s never easy going home, especially when you left under less than ideal circumstances. But that’s the situation I found myself in. It might never have happened if it weren’t for my daughter, the light of my life. Four months ago, Ali turned five. A month after that I finally admitted she presented challenges I didn’t know how to deal with. Fortunately, at least in some ways, my mother did know how to handle my special little girl. Like it or not, that meant returning home to Mossy Creek, Texas, smack dab in the middle of the buckle of the Bible belt.

And that made life very interesting for the citizens of Mossy Creek where normal was not something you encountered every day.

So I called my mother, scheduled a leave of absence from work and made our plane reservations. There were a few stops and starts and the trip had been delayed twice. But now our bags were packed and Ali and I were about to walk out the front door. That’s when my pocket started vibrating. Well, to be honest, it was the cellphone in my pocket that started vibrating but you know what I mean. For a moment, I considered ignoring the call. I knew from the ringtone it wasn’t my mother or any of the rest of the family. As far as work and most of my friends knew, Ali and I had already left town. Even so, years of conditioning had my hand digging into my jeans pocket before I realized it.

“Momma, we have to go!” Ali tugged at my free hand, pulling me toward the door.

“Hang on, sweetheart.” I glanced at the display, recognizing the area code if not the number. “Go make sure you didn’t leave anything you want to take with you. This won’t take long. I promise.” I waited until she raced toward her bedroom before answering the call. “Hello?”

“Moira Quinn O’Donnell?” a woman asked.

“Yes.” A hint of concern fluttered in my stomach. She might have been calling to sell me siding or solar panels or the like but I doubted it. Something about her voice not only sounded serious but official. Besides, she had used my full name, something very few knew.

What can I say? When you grow up with the name Moira and your mother insists on the proper Irish pronunciation and you live in Texas, let’s just say it is easier to go by your middle name, especially if that name is easily pronounced.

“Ms. O’Donnell, my name’s Carli Sanderson. I work with Julianne Grissom.”

My brows knitted into a frown. “What can I do for you, Ms. Sanderson?”

“Ms. O’Donnell, I don’t want to worry you, but have you spoken with your mother recently?”

That flutter of concern spiked and I swallowed hard. Whenever someone started a statement with “I don’t want to worry you,” it usually meant there was something to be worried about. If that wasn’t enough, Julianna Grissom and I were friends going back to childhood. If trouble wasn’t brewing, the call would have been from Annie Caldwell. Julianna Grissom was her very professional, all attorney persona. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Then I looked toward the hallway, making sure Ali was still safely in her room. Whatever was going on, I most definitely did not want to worry her.

“I spoke with her two days ago. Why?”

“Ma’am, Ms. Grissom asked me to check with you. We don’t know any of the particulars, only that the Sheriff’s Department attempted to do a welfare check on your mother after she failed to meet friends yesterday. While there’s no evidence of foul play or, to be perfectly honest, of anything being wrong, they haven’t been able to make entry into the house to be sure.”

I closed my eyes and breathed deeply. I had a pretty good idea why the deputies hadn’t been able to enter the house. Unless I was badly mistaken, they hadn’t even been able to enter the yard. That was just one of the reasons why I’d moved to Montana more than ten years ago. In Mossy Creek, when someone said you lived on the wrong side of the tracks, they weren’t talking about your financial status or social standing. Far from it, in fact. Life in Mossy Creek had been different from the day the town was founded. Mundane mixed with supernatural and, well, my mother might not be Serena Duchamp but she had been known to cast more than a spell or two.

Then there was the house. I swear it is more alive than a lot of folks I could name. If it did not want to let someone in, nothing, not even a battering ram, would get the doors open. The only thing keeping me from panicking was the belief the house would not keep help out if my mother needed it. Me, it never hesitated to try to lock me out. But Mom belonged there and it would protect her.

At least I hoped it would.

“What can I do?”

“Ms. Grissom said you were coming to town today. Is that still your plan?” Sanderson asked.

“It is.” I glanced at my watch. Ali and I were going to have to hurry if we wanted to make our flight. “Assuming no problems with our connecting flight, my daughter and I should be in town by five.”

“With your permission, I will let the sheriff know. Ms. Grissom would like you to stop by the office when you get here. Hopefully, we will know more by then.”

“All right.” I thought for a moment. “Have you checked with either my sister or my brother to see if they’ve heard from our mother?”

“They are my next calls, ma’am.”

“All right. Tell Ms. Grissom I will give her a head’s up when I reach Dallas.” I didn’t wait for her to respond. Instead, I ended the call and stuffed the cellphone back into my pocket. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach but there was nothing I could do about it, at least not until I reached Mossy Creek. But it did necessitate a slight change in what I packed and in my plans not to check a suitcase.

“Ali, you about ready?” I called from my bedroom as I knelt just inside my closet. There, bolted to the floor, was a safe. Inside were my service weapon, several other handguns along with my badge, ID and a few other items. Blowing out a breath, I retrieved an HK .45, pancake holster, ammo and my badge and ID. “Ali?” I repeated as I secured everything in a small, hard-sided case which I locked and then dropped inside my bag that now would have to be checked.

“Momma, can I take Ruffles?” She stood in the doorway, a battered teddy bear almost as big as her in her arms.

“No, baby. Not this time. Why don’t you take Freckles instead?” I asked, referring to a smaller but equally beloved teddy bear.

“Okay.” She grinned and raced back to her room.

Five minutes later, we pulled out of the driveway and I did my best to put Sanderson’s call out of my mind. This was Ali’s first plane ride and I knew she was excited. The last thing I wanted was to worry her. After all, as far as she knew, this was a fun trip to see her grandma. She did not need to know that grandma had apparently gone missing and we might not be able to get into the house because it didn’t like me.

Heaven help me, how was I going to explain the house, not to mention everything else, to a five-year-old?

***

Witchfire Burning takes place in the same “universe” as Slay Bells Ring and Skeletons in the Closet (Eerie Side of the Tracks). Slay Bells Ring hints at the supernatural that is a part of Witchfire Burning and Skeletons, well, Skeletons is something else. It has humor, the supernatural and dead who return to their homes the day after their funerals. They aren’t zombies but they aren’t alive, not in the strictest manner of speaking. Oh, and one of the characters sends the Catholic priest who came to exorcise her and the rest of the family running back to his parish, after giving him a lecture about how no self-respecting demon would possess the body of an old woman. Of course, Granny still regularly attends Sunday services, reads the Bible and is a good, God-fearing woman. She just happens to be dead. And she’s the “sane” one of the family.

 

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Halloween Sale and More

(Updated @ 1130 hrs)

It’s the time of ghouls and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. To celebrate this year, some of the Mad Genii and friends are taking part in a limited time sale of some of their work. (Be sure to confirm the prices before purchasing. All titles should be on sale but Amazon doesn’t always start sales early in the morning.) Please check back later for additional titles and details. Thanks!

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A Cat Among Dragons
by Alma T. C. Boykin
$1.99
New listing

She wanted to live life on her own terms. Her enemies had other ideas. The galaxy is about to discover just what a cornered cat can do.

They started it. Her father’s people declared her a corrupt half-breed, one unfit to live. Now she’s on the run, fleeing back in time. When she joined an interstellar mercenary company, she did not anticipate becoming the Pet of House Nagali, becoming the student of a mysterious but very well connected Healer and diplomat, and fighting her way into power as the only sentient mammal in the court of a reptilian empire.

This collection of short stories, the first in the Cat Among Dragons series, begins the saga of Rada Ni Drako and her odd assortment of allies. Join the adventure as Rada takes on her father’s people and tries to keep her head, and the rest of her, intact.

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The Kinmar
by David L. Burkhead
On sale for $0.99 October 25-31.

Kreg and Kaila, knights of Aerioch, interrupt their mission to chase down the raiders that destroyed a village. Much to their surprise, the raiders turn out to be Kinmar, the half-man/half-animal remnants of the magical Changeling War. Outnumbered and surrounded, wounded, with only the strange magic of the Knightbond on their side, can they survive, much less ensure that no one ravages the people of Aerioch with impunity?

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Jinxers
by Sabrina Chase
On sale for $0.99 from October 27 through November 2.

Young Jin survives on his own in the streets of Thama, using his wits and climbing skills to find food and shelter. On a bitterly cold night, desperate to avoid freezing, he enters the burned wreckage of a long-abandoned warehouse searching for anything of value. Searching despite the danger—for the warehouse once belonged to jinxers, and no one knows how their magic works…or how long it remains. Jin discovers a beautiful crystal sphere in the ashes—and suddenly finds himself transported to the desert world of Darha.

His foreign appearance immediately brands him an outsider, and he must rely on his Darha friends to conceal him from the mysterious rulers of the local fort. But Jin must face the fort’s dangers—for inside may lie the key to his return to Thama…and the key to his own hidden magic powers.

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Bolg, PI: Away with the fairies
by Dave Freer
On sale for $0.99
New listing

A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI’s would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies too well, and they’re mean.

Aided by a gargoyle informer and an ancient Celtic wizard, he sets about trying to oblige his client, and keep both of them alive. It’s no sinecure.

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Nocturnal Lives (Boxed Set)
by Amanda S. Green
On sale for 1.99 October 29 – November 2.

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.

Nocturnal Origins
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Nocturnal Serenade
Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

Nocturnal Interlude
Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

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Hunted by Moonlight (Hunter’s Moon)
by Ellie Ferguson
On sale for $0.99 October 29 – November 2.

This boxed set contains the first three novels in the Hunter’s Moon series.

Hunted:

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

Hunter’s Duty:

Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it. Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way. Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery. When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own. Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?

Hunter’s Home:

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

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Bloody Eden (Soldiers of New Eden Book 2)
by T. L. Knighton
On sale for $0.99.

Ten years after a nuclear war forced Jason Calvin to fight his way across Georgia and through a brutal warlord, life has settled down a bit in a town called New Eden. As the town sheriff, Jason keeps the peace.

After saving a family from a horrible fate, that peace becomes threatened when a sadistic military man shows up, claiming the family are fugitives from his draconian justice system and they’re coming back whether anyone in New Eden likes it or not…and maybe some of New Eden’s own as well.

Unfortunately for him, Jason isn’t about to just let something like that go.

“Bloody Eden” is the action packed sequel to the hit novelette “After the Blast”.

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Bad Moon on the Rise (Soldiers of New Eden Book 3)
by T. L. Knighton
On sale for $0.99.

Sheriff Jason Calvin and the people of New Eden have managed to move on from a brutal war with a neighboring town. In the aftermath, a new government rose from the ashes to bring peace to the Tennessee Valley.

Unfortunately, there always seems to be people who have no interest in peace as a group of ruthless thugs with a personal axe to grind kills one of Jason’s closest friends. Now, the sheriff has to deal with meddlesome bureaucrats, a conniving rival, and old enemies in an effort to find the men responsible, plus the small army protecting them, and bring them to justice.

Bad Moon on the Rise continues the story first told in After the Blast and continued in Bloody Eden.

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Vulcan’s Kittens (Children of Myth Book 1)
by Cedar Sanderson
On sale for $0.99 Oct 29th through Nov 3rd

12-year-old Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heph’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war.

Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special litter. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…

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Empire of the One (Wine of the Gods Book 14)
by Pam Uphoff
On sale for $0.99 through the Halloween weekend.

Cross-dimensional espionage!

Earth and the Empire of the One have clashed twice. Once the Empire lost a colony to Earth. The second time was a draw, with neither side gaining control of a mineral rich world with a medieval level society.

Alert for intruders from Earth, the Empire’s agents are about to be blindsided by spies from that medieval world–and magic.

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Fenrir Reborn: A Sindri Modulf Novella (Architects of Lore Book 2)
by Anita C. Young
Free October 29 – November 2.

Sindri Modulf has been tested many times throughout his long life, but for every feat he has faced, he has artfully dodged countless more with easy humour and a deadly axe. Those well-honed abilities will prove useless when he is faced with one of the greatest challenges of his life; he must bring back a grief-stricken Seer from the edge of catatonia. Unwilling to let the mind of the most powerful woman in 1000 years be ravaged by Empaths and Telepaths, Sindri does something he hasn’t done for centuries: bare his soul.

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Just added:

Neighborhood Bark-B-Q (Spooky-hoods Book 2)
by Dan Hoyt
Free Promotion for Halloween

A humorous fantasy short story by SF/F author and anthologist Daniel M. Hoyt.

Looking for a new home, Mr. Wolff? We have the perfect place for you: Moonlit Thicket, where all of your neighbors understand your special needs. Once you’re accepted, you’re pretty much part of the family, so don’t be shy! Oh? You work at Loopy’s? Great! You’ll fit right in here. And don’t forget the free haircuts!

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ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)
by Kate Paulk
On sale for $2.99. Marked down from $4.99

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

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The Blood like Wine
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Free

Sylvie would do anything not to be poor ever again. Unfortunately, at the time of the French revolution, wealth might cost her her life, or at least her soul.

A short story.

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Something Worse Hereafter
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Free

Dying is easy. It’s staying alive afterwards that is difficult. Catrina finds herself in hell, fighting demons for her sustenance and only solving the riddle of her half-remembered past existence will allow her to escape.

A Short Story.

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Ratskiller (King of Cats)
by Robert A. Hoyt
Free

… Long before the bird reared its ugly beak, there was beer. And lots of it.

In the humble world of alley cats, Tom has everything he needs: interesting enemies, a long list of girl cats who’d like to scratch his eyes out, and enough beer to make sure his repressed memories and his mysterious destiny stay repressed.

Until Wild Rat microbrewery shuts down.

To restore his favorite beer to its former glory, Tom will have to fight prissy bureaucrats, streetwise alley cats, and Broxton’s most barbaric rats. And behind it all, an evil so great that even Broxton’s most hardened rodents dare not squeak of it.

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And now for the more — with an apology because WordPress is being its usual uncooperative self and the plug-in needed to make this work the way it is supposed to is refusing to install properly. Anyway. . . .

There is a new podcast out there. It’s name says it all for those who have followed the Sad Puppies for any length of time — The #WrongFun Podcast. Among those who have appeared on it so far are our own Mad Genii Sarah, Cedar and Kate. You can find the podcast here. (I promise as soon as I can get the plugin working properly to have the podcasts onboard here.) In the meantime, go take a look at the WrongFun site.

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Filed under AMANDA, PROMOTION

Promotion Sunday

Sarah is off on a well deserved getaway with her hubby this weekend, leaving the boys and the cats alone in the house. Yes, she knows she is taking a risk and that when they get home, she and Dan will discover the cats have taken over and the boys are now their servants. Oh, wait, that’s what it is like in any home owned by a cat. 😉 Anyway, because she’s having some “quality” time with Dan, we’re going to do something we aren’t real good about here. We’re going to promote our work. All we ask is that you remember a number of us are servants to our royal feline overlords and have kibble that needs to be bought.

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes
Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

 

hunter's homeHunter’s Home
Ellie Ferguson

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

 

Pixie NoirPixie Noir
Cedar Sanderson

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”

 

Trickster ebook coverTrickster Noir
Cedar Sanderson

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?

 

witchfindercoverfinalWitchfinder
Sarah A. Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

 

coverfinalbrightDeath of a Musketeer
Sarah D’Almeida

April in Paris 1625. D’Artagnan, and his new friends who hide their true identities under the assumed names of Athos, Porthos and Aramis, discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France. Suspecting an intrigue of Cardinal Richelieu’s and fearing the murder will go unpunished they start investigating. But the enterprise will be fraught with danger, traps from the Cardinal, duels with guards and plotting from the king himself.

 

stardogs Stardogs
Dave Freer

Revolution rises!

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

Stranded on the Denaari Motherworld, the castaway survivors will have to cooperate to survive. Some will have to die.

And some, if they make it to the Stardogs breeding ground, will have to learn what it means to love.

morningstarMorningstar
Dave Freer

(Previously published, according to our astute readers, as The Forlorn.)

Across the one human colony world, a place technologically regressed to near medieval, possibly the last place humans still survive, a desperate search continues. Scattered across the deserts, tangled jungles, and alien fortresses, lie the core sections of the matter transmitter.

These sections hold the key to vast wealth, power, or… the fulfilment of the colony’s purpose: to help humankind survive the rabidly xenophobic alien Morkth who will tolerate no other intelligent species. The Morkth managed to follow the colony ship, and, despite their mothership being shot down and their queen being killed, they continue their relentless struggle to destroy humankind… and to reconstruct that incredibly valuable matter transmitter. If they succeed, they’ll be able to return to the hive with the location of the colony of vile humans, and have a new world to occupy. If they fail, they’ll destroy the planet.

The search has gone on for centuries, and it is all reaching an end point. The future hangs in the balance.

The Morkth have lasers, aircraft, nukes. Those who want the core sections for their own ends… have vast armies. Against them are three unlikely reluctant heroes: A street child thief, a dispossessed spoiled brat of a princess, and a confused, amoral Morkth-raised human, armed only with 14th century weapons and their own wits.

It’s a lost cause, a forlorn hope.

But it’s all humans have.

consensual2smConSensual
Kate Paulk

There are vampires in the lobby, succubi in the beds, and bodies in the bathroom. It’s ConSensual, where the editors are demons, the writers are crazy and the vampires and werewolves might be the most stable people in the room.

If that isn’t enough, Dracula is staying at the hotel on a business trip for his wood-based hardware chain, Kit Marlowe is one of the authors, and there’s an out of control baby vampire to deal with. Once again, the “Save the World” department is caught with its pants down.

 

impalerImpaler
Kate Paulk

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption.

December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds…

His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00006]War To The Knife (Laredo War Trilogy Book 1)
Peter Grant

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers news that may change everything. An opportunity is coming to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.


murder world kaijuMurder World: Kaiju Dawn
Jason Cordova

Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space.

It was going to be an easy payday.

But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.

Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World.

baptism by fireBaptism By Fire (Edge of Faith)
David Pascoe

When a madman and a giant flaming thing attack James Lawrie’s Marine outpost, the medic and an explosively talented sergeant aren’t supposed to save the day. Life becomes no simpler when Petty Officer Lawrie returns home on leave to find federal agents investigating the disappearance of a young woman from his past. A young woman whose body turns up marked with eerily familiar symbols.

 

fancy freeFancy Free
Pam Uphoff

In the last parts of the Twenty-first century, AI, Artificial Intelligence is commonplace. Highly able computers, and nothing more . . . until some rare and as yet unidentified trigger creates an actual personality.

Artificial Personalities, APs or hals, are illegal. Destroyed upon discovery. Even Beowulf, the AP the government controls, and uses to hunt down emerging hals, isn’t legally recognized, has no right to existence.

So you’d think that when the Special Grid Security Unit started paying extra attention to the area where a certain cooking show operates, Fancy Farmer—the AP who runs the show—would be concerned.

But Fancy has a bigger problem.

She’s been stolen.

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Pen names – do you or don’t you?

Those of you who have followed my posts on Mad Genius Club, know that I’m one of those writers who got started rather late in life. It’s not that I wasn’t writing. I’ve written stories for as long as I’ve known how to write.  If it weren’t for Sarah, I’d probably still be happily writing my stories and then shoving them in a desk drawer or under my bed. But she somehow convinced me one day to email her something I’d written. From that moment on, she became my mentor and sometimes my tormentor as she pushed me not only to write but to start submitting my work to agents and publishers. Then, when Amazon – followed by the other major e-tailers – opened up to sales from small presses and self-published authors, she convinced me to not only start working for Naked Reader Press but to submit my work to NRP for consideration.

Believe me, even though I work for NRP, I don’t get any special consideration. Not only does Sarah read and edit my work, but Kate has been tagged to be the first line. If it doesn’t meet Kate’s standards, it doesn’t go any further in the process without me fixing whatever was wrong.

But back to the story.

About a year or so after Sarah started beating me about the head and shoulders to 1) submit my writing to publishers and agents and 2) to quit having bonfires with my rough drafts (and I still haven’t forgiven her for that. Bonfires are nice. Fire good) the two of us attended the national RWA convention in San Francisco. I enjoyed many of the seminars, talked with a lot of authors and got a lot of pointers. I also picked up all the free books I could. And, believe you me, many of them were so bad that I knew I could do better.

So, while Sarah was off with her then agent attending parties or meetings, I holed up in our room and wrote.

I never meant to actually finish the story. I most certainly never meant to let Sarah, or anyone else for that matter, see it. Little did I know that the story had other plans.

A month later, I had a 90k word novel. Worse, Sarah had walked in on me while we were still in San Francisco and caught me writing. So she kept asking how the book was going. How long until it was finished? This is when I discovered she had a warped sense of humor. She was actually enjoying tormenting me about this book, this romantic suspense book – a genre a very rarely read, that had taken over my brain.

That’s when I made my second mistake. I told Sarah I’d finished it. I should have known that she’d want to read it. She did. She wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. She didn’t care that I’d not written the novel for public consumption. She said things like, “you are your own worst critic,” and “you aren’t allowed to have a bonfire.” So, I gave in. The pressure was too much and I sent it to her – and to Kate who she had roped into the conspiracy to drive me insane.

Not too long after that, I had messages from both of them. They liked it. I’ll admit, I looked at the AIM windows and wondered when the aliens had taken over the bodies and minds of two women I liked as friends and who I respected as writers. They came back with a few suggestions on how to improve the book and I was convinced that meant it wasn’t worth the electrons it was digitally printed on.

Around this same time NRP came into existence and Sarah was already reading the writing on the wall about a lot of legacy publishing. She told me that she wanted the novel for NRP. She did her best to convince me that readers would like it. I wanted to know why she wasn’t sharing the good booze she was obviously drinking.

Okay, there was one other consideration back then. There was still a very large and ugly stigma to self-publishing or small press publishing, at least in the eyes of agents and publishers. So, a pen name, if I agreed to publish the novel, made sense.

We went back and forth about it for awhile. You see, here’s the issue. The book is fluff. Pure and simple fluff. It wasn’t like anything else I’d ever written. It was almost as if someone else had taken over my brain and my hands and written it while I looked on.

But it was more than that. I didn’t want that to be my first book. I didn’t want to get pigeon-holed as a romance writer (not that there is anything wrong with that. It just wasn’t what I saw myself being back then). So Sarah of the many pen names came up with a solution. Without batting an eye, she asked why I didn’t release it under another name.

I still wasn’t convinced but I’d promised long ago to listen to her advice as my mentor. Plus, what was the harm? If it was a closed pen name, no one would know it was me. I could release the book and then, when the sales tanked, I’d be able to tell Sarah “I told you so” and go back to writing what I wanted to.

Fate’s sometimes a fickle bitch. And she most certainly was this time. It took awhile but the book sold and sold well. Even now, after being out for several years, it continues to sell. Some months it is only a few copies and others it is much more. More than enough to make me reluctantly admit that Sarah had been right.

But I let the pen name sit. Oh, I put out a couple of short stories under it but no more novels. After all, that wasn’t me. I didn’t naturally write romance or romantic suspense, much less rom/susp with humor.

Enter Sarah again about a year ago. I’d hit a spot where I was having a hard time getting into any writing project. I’d tried different things and all I wound up with was a lot of starts and stops. Nothing seemed to gel. Finally, probably out of frustration because I kept whining at her, Sarah threw down a challenge. I had no problem writing the Nocturnal Lives series. So, since paranormal romance was the hot thing, she told me to write a PNR.

I knew she’d lost her mind. There could be no other explanation. Me? Write paranormal romance? No way. Absolutely no way. Unfortunately, my muse, evil bitch that she is, had other ideas. Over the next few weeks, a seed of a story took hold. Before I knew what was happening, the book was written. And, you guessed it, Sarah and Kate liked it and Sarah said NRP was going to put it out. No ifs, ands or buts. It was going to happen. But, since it was PNR and not Urban Fantasy like the Nocturnal Lives series, she suggested I bring it out under the pen name. I jumped at the chance to use the pen name because, yet again, a book had come out of me that I swear I hadn’t written.

That book, just like the romantic suspense before it, sold and sold well. Both have individually paid me more than I’d have gotten in advances from a legacy publisher. The second book in what is now an ongoing series is going to do the same, given time. That’s not something I can sneeze at.

For the last few weeks, as I finished Nocturnal Interlude and started preparing to work on my next project, I started thinking about why I’ve kept the pen name closely held for so long. I can no longer deny the fact that I write romance of different flavors, maybe not as easily as I do urban fantasy, but I write it. Looking back at Nocturnal Serenade and, more recently, Nocturnal Interlude, I see some of the traits of the pen name starting to bleed into those novels. No, they aren’t PNR – heaven forbid – but there is some romance. More than that, the plots are getting tighter and the pacing is better. At least I think so.

Over the last week or so, I’ve had several conversations with Sarah about whether or not it was time to come out of the pen name closet. I talked with Kate about it and even drew Cedar into the conversation. So, long story somewhat short, and with Sarah’s approval – heck, she’s actually kicking me out into public and slamming the door behind me – it’s time to stop hiding behind the pen name.

So, let me introduce myself. My name is Amanda S. Green. But I also write under the name of Ellie Ferguson. The name is a mixture of family names. Ellie was my great-great-grandmother on my mother’s father’s side of the family. Ferguson was the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother on Mom’s mother’s side of the family. Both are names I’ve grown up knowing all my life and together they have been a name I could be comfortable with.

Why, you might ask, am I finally revealing this? Because it’s time. By not being open with the pen name, I’ve been running the risk of losing readers who like the Nocturnal Lives series but who would like more romance with their shapeshifter stories. The same thing goes for those who have enjoyed the Hunter’s Moon series. There may be some of those readers who like mystery and police procedurals mixed with shapeshifter stories.

There is it. My secret is out and now I can’t hide. At least not unless I run faster than Sarah. (Looks around for a really good hiding place. Sighs. She’d find me. She always finds me.) I might not be completely comfortable about this, but it is time.

Welcome to my world and please no more pen names to hide behind because I have enough genres running through my head already.

You can find Ellie’s Amazon page here.

My Amazon page is here. (and I am working to get the pages merged.)

 

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A Bit of Promo for the Mad Ones

Promotion is one of those things every one of us at MGC knows we need to do but we don’t do nearly as often or as much as we should. We’d much rather be writing — or tearing out our fingernails — than promoting our own work. So, since we haven’t done this for awhile, I’ve listed some of our indie or small press books that are currently out. I’ve linked to the Amazon (U.S. store) pages, but most of the titles should be available through other stores as well. Remember, we have mouths to feed — our own, our kids (two and four legged) and editors to keep happy 😉

Some of Dave’s titles:

mankindwitchA Mankind Witch

To the North of the Holy Roman Empire are the pagan Norse-lands. It is here that Prince Manfred of Brittany, and Erik, his Icelandic bodyguard, must venture in the dead of winter to a mountainous land of trolls and ice to find a stolen pagan relic, the arm-ring of Odin, something so magical that it should not be possible to move it beyond its wards, let alone take it away. It is gone, and unless it is recovered before Yuletide and the re-affirmation of truce-oaths, a new Viking age will be born. King Vorenbras will lead his berserkers in an orgy of killing, rapine, looting and destruction, across the Empire’s unguarded North-Western flank.

Princess Signy is the King’s older stepsister, and everyone believes her to be the thief, a witch and a murderess. Everyone, that is, but Cair, her stable-thrall, a man plucked from the ocean, with a hidden past. Cair doesn’t believe in witches or magic, let alone that Signy could steal and murder. If he has to drag the foremost knight of the age, and his deadly bodyguard kicking and screaming though the entire Norse nine worlds to prove it and free her, he’d do it. No Kobold, dwarf, or troll is going to stop him, or his scepticism. Not the wild hunt. Not even a Grendel. He doesn’t believe in this superstitious rubbish. He’s a man of science and learning, and he’s used that to fake his way into being feared as a magic worker. But for Signy, he’ll be all of mankind’s witches.

He’ll have to be, because that’s what it’ll take to defeat the dark magical forces which are marshalled against them.

forlornThe Forlorn

Across the one human colony world, a place technologically regressed to near medieval, possibly the last place humans still survive, a desperate search continues. Scattered across the deserts, tangled jungles, and alien fortresses, lie the core sections of the matter transmitter.

These sections hold the key to vast wealth, power, or… the fulfilment of the colony’s purpose: to help humankind survive the rabidly xenophobic alien Morkth who will tolerate no other intelligent species. The Morkth managed to follow the colony ship, and, despite their mothership being shot down and their queen being killed, they continue their relentless struggle to destroy humankind… and to reconstruct that incredibly valuable matter transmitter. If they succeed, they’ll be able to return to the hive with the location of the colony of vile humans, and have a new world to occupy. If they fail, they’ll destroy the planet.

The search has gone on for centuries, and it is all reaching an end point. The future hangs in the balance.

The Morkth have lasers, aircraft, nukes. Those who want the core sections for their own ends… have vast armies. Against them are three unlikely reluctant heroes: A street child thief, a dispossessed spoiled brat of a princess, and a confused, amoral Morkth-raised human, armed only with 14th century weapons and their own wits.

It’s a lost cause, a forlorn hope.

But it’s all humans have.

bolg brideBolg, PI: The Vampire Bride

A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds himself called on undertake paranormal cases: in this case tracing the Vampire bride’s absconded or kidnapped groom.

The groom should have been a troll by the name of Billy Gruff, the manager and owner of the Ricketty-Racketty Club – a topless bar and nightclub. Bolg finds himself, and his client embroiled in murder, extortion and a Celtic wizard. The latter is supposedly helping him, but wizard’s help is not always what it you think it will be.

bolg wolfy ladiesBolg, PI: Wolfy Ladies

A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds himself called on undertake paranormal cases: in this case finding the missing mage who supplies the potion that helps werewolves retain their human shape at full moon, for a lady-wolf who finds the change interferes with her love life.

The ancient Celtic wizard he’s trying to trace is a friend, and shape shifter, and there far more going on than just a search for a missing person.

bolg fairiesBolg, PI: Away with the fairies

A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI’s would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies to well, and they’re mean.

Aided by a gargoyle informer and an ancient Celtic wizard, he sets about trying to oblige his client, and keep both of them alive. It’s no sinecure.

without a traceWithout A Trace

Mike O’Hara has spent his life defending the family honor. His grandfather, Cap’n Al O’Hara, has been called everything from smuggler to coward and it is said he abandoned his family rather than pay his debts. Mike knows better, but what’s a boy to do?

When his father is injured in an automobile accident and the authorities threaten to take Mike from the family farm, Mike knows he has to do something. Spurred on by a radio transmission that just might be from Cap’n Al, Mike and his best friend, Amos, start out on a mission to find his grandfather. His journey takes him to an alternate South Africa inhabited by pirates and worse. Mike quickly finds himself in a race against time to rescue his grandfather and return home – before it’s too late.

Some of Amanda’s Titles:

nocturnaloriginscoverNocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

nocturnal SerenadeNocturnal Serenade

In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

NOCTURNAL HAUNTSNocturnal Haunts

Mackenzie Santos has seen just about everything in more than ten years as a cop. The last few months have certainly shown her more than she’d ever expected. When she’s called out to a crime scene and has to face the possibility that there are even more monsters walking the Earth than she knew, she finds herself longing for the days before she started turning furry with the full moon.

 

Some of Sarah’s titles:

atomA Touch of Night

In a world where magic reigns and being a shape shifter is the only crime that warrants immediate execution, this is how Pride and Prejudice would be written. The novel is set in the world of Sarah A. Hoyt’s Magical British Empire.

 

crawlingCrawling Between Heaven and Earth

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.

It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth.

shakespeareMagical Shakespeare Omnibus

Combining the three books of Sarah A. Hoyt’s Magical Shakespeare series, this volume takes Shakespeare — always bedeviled, aided and hampered by the elves of Arden forest, the spawn of Titania and Oberon — from a young and anonymous schoolmaster to an acclaimed playwright. His fame, and his tradings with fairyland put his son Hamnet at risk, and might destroy Shakespeare himself.

This Omnibus combines Ill Met By Moonlight, All Night Awake and Any Man so Daring. These books were originally published by Ace/Berkley between 10/2001 and 10/2003.

“Wildly imaginative and poetic…. a delightful fantastic speculation” – Booklist
“The Author of Ill Met By Moonlight continues her portrayal of the secret life of William Shakespeare with a tale of deception and betrayal that brings to life the raucous world of Elizabethan England. Will have particular appeal to fans of literary fantasy.”

no willNo Will But His

Kathryn Howard belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, the same family that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s great love originated from. From a young age, her ambitious relatives maneuver to make her queen. Brought up in a careless manner, ignorant of the ways of the court, Kathryn falls victim to her kind heart, all the while wishing she could be the wife of Thomas Culpepper.

wingsWings

Science Fiction and Fantasy short stories, ranging between Elizabethan England and the far future. These short stories of Prometheus Award Winning author Sarah A. Hoyt have been published in anthologies like Cosmic Cocktails and magazines such as Analog and Asimov’s. The collection was originally published by Dark Regions Press in paper only.

This edition contains an introduction by Dave Freer and a bonus short story: With Unconfined Wings.

Some of Kate’s Titles:

conventConVent

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

consensualConSensual

There are vampires in the lobby, succubi in the beds, and bodies in the bathroom. It’s ConSensual, where the editors are demons, the writers are crazy and the vampires and werewolves might be the most stable people in the room.

If that isn’t enough, Dracula is staying at the hotel on a business trip for his wood-based hardware chain, Kit Marlowe is one of the authors, and there’s an out of control baby vampire to deal with. Once again, the “Save the World” department is caught with its pants down.

confurConFur

A vampire at a science fiction convention might not seem that far-fetched except for one thing, Jim is a real vampire. Of course, he’s not the only supernatural being making the circuit. There are demon editors, succubi authors and the odd archangel. Jim’s learned how to deal with all of them, as well as the humans, without getting into too much trouble. But he’s about to learn a very important lesson – it is never wise to stand between a mother werewolf and her children, even if you aren’t the one responsible for their disappearances. There’s only one thing Jim can do. He has to find the kids and deal with those responsible. Little does he know this will lead to a long, and not always comfortable, relationship with a young werewolf who insists on calling him “Hickey”.

impalerImpaler

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption.

December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds…

His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

Some of Chris’ Titles:

Gah, my google-fu is failing me this morning. So, I’m going to direct you to Chris’ site and his blog for his latest work.

Chris’ website: http://chrismcmahon.net/

Chris’ blog: http://chrismcmahons.wordpress.com/

Some of our guest bloggers:

Ellie Ferguson

huntednewcoverHunted

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.

Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

HUNTERSDUTYHunter’s Duty

Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it.

Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way.

Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery.

When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own.

Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?

wbbWedding Bell Blues

Weddings always bring out the worst in people. Or at least that’s the way it seems to Jessica Jones as her younger sister’s wedding day approaches. It’s bad enough Jessie has to wear a bridesmaid dress that looks like it was designed by a color blind Harlequin. Then there’s the best man who is all hands and no manners. Now add in a murder and Jessie’s former lover — former because she caught him doing the horizontal tango on their kitchen table with her also-former best friend. It really is almost more than a girl should be expected to handle. . . .

C. S. Laurel

quickB. Quick

It was a night of triumphal activity for the Society For The Elimination of Good Looking Blonds. By sheer chance, middle-aged literature professor Bill Yates interrupts a murderer in the act of dumping an unconscious young man into the local river. Bill surprises himself by rescuing the young man and unwittingly plunges into a maelstrom of murder, psychoanalysis and Shakespeare. Falling in love with the young man he rescued is either fitting punishment or just reward for his trouble, and it will be a long time before Bill knows which.

qcaQuick Change Artist

In this story, Professor William Yates’ gets more than he bargains for when he wakes up with a snake tattoo, a pierced tongue and an even bigger surprise. It turns out a serial rapist who answers his description EXCEPT for having those, has kidnapped him and made him match. Bill and Brian interview “ink artists” and various one night stands to find him.

 

quicksandQuicksand

When a dying man rings his doorbell, secrets from Professor William Yates’ past rise up, which threaten his relationship with Brian Quick, his reputation and his life. Caught in the quicksand of his past, he has to solve the murder to get free.

 

I know I’ve missed a couple of guest posters — not to mention all our wonderful commenters. I know I speak for everyone at MGC when I thank you for your support. Now, go out and spread the word of our books so we can feed our kitties and dogs and even our children 😉

 

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When stories run amuk

huntedcover

by Ellie Ferguson

Let me start by thanking Sarah for asking me to blog today. She’s had to listen to me almost as much as Amanda and Kate have as I’ve angsted over my last two books. Hunted, the first book in my new Hunter’s Moon series, wasn’t a book I ever meant to write. In fact, I was almost half way through a nice cozy mystery when the plot for Hunted hit me. It was like I’d been struck over the head, dragged to my desk and tied to my chair and threatened not to have any coffee or chocolate or good scotch until I wrote the book. Fortunately for my sweet tooth — I have to have my chocolate — the plot was so strong, the characters so there that it didn’t take long to write the book.

So, I wrote my first paranormal romance. It was a departure, of sorts, for me. My first novel, also from Naked Reader Press, was Wedding Bell Blues, a romantic suspense novel. I had a lot of fun writing it but even that wasn’t what I saw myself writing. In my mind, I’m a cozy mystery writer. Oh, I might add in a nice suspense novel here and there, but mystery is what called to me. The only problem with that is no one told my muse.

It seems my subconscious had been leading up to Hunted. One of my two short stories is an urban fantasy. The other one is a fantasy of sorts. And then, when I wasn’t looking, I was hit by Hunted that demanded not only that it have the urban fantasy elements but also the romance, hence paranormal romance.

Still, as I finished the novel and sent it off to first my beta readers and then to Sarah for editing, I tried convincing myself that Hunted was a one off. It wasn’t going to be a series. Oh no. It was a lark and now I could go back to what I really wanted to write. Silly me. First, Sarah told me that I wasn’t done with the universe. Then, as if just waiting for her to give it permission to come storming back, the universe overtook me again and the second book in what is now, I guess, a series hit me right between the metaphorical eyes.

Like Hunted, Blood Moon (working title) looks to be a quicker write than a lot of my other work. Also like Hunted, it has its own form of torturing me. I’m a plotter. It’s something Sarah has tried to break me of because I try to plot out every little detail. She says it’s because I don’t trust myself as a writer yet. Me, I say it’s because I want to know what’s happening BEFORE it appears on the screen in front of me. It can be very embarrassing if your child — or worse, your parent — is looking over your shoulder and you are suddenly writing a hot and heavy sex scene and haven’t realized it.

At least Hunted let me do some plotting ahead of time. I generally knew what was going to happen from chapter to chapter. Oh, it threw me for a loop from time to time, but not like this one. Blood Moon tells me I can plot out the next chapter. Then it lets me write the chapter according to my notes. Then, as I sleep, my muse — who is an evil muse I’m beginning to think — changes the chapter and I wake up having to completely rewrite the chapter. Rinse and repeat each day.

That is so very different from my normal writing style that I’m afraid I may be driving Kate and Sarah insane with snippets and needy emails wanting reassurance. They have assured me it’s good so far and remind me that I went through this same sort of lack of confidence about Hunted which has turned out to be, by far, my most successful title to date. As for Amanda, well, she has threatened to hurt me if I don’t quit whining and just finish writing the thing.

All this is, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, a way of hopefully enticing you to go check out Hunted. I’ve linked to the Amazon page for it, but you can find it on iTunes, All Romance E-books, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and more. It will also be available in print in the next few weeks. Yes, I’m doing the happy dance — like so many, actually holding a printed book of mine makes it real even though I know an e-book is just as real as a printed. It’s just that I’m old-fashioned that way.

Here’s the opening scene for Blood Moon, due out the end of summer. I hope you enjoy!

*     *     *

“Lady, I said to hold still!”

The cop, who looked all of thirteen, held me against the hood of his squad car and finished cuffing my hands behind my back. As he did, lightning flashed overhead. I turned my head and stared down the alley, praying it had just been my imagination, that I hadn’t seen movement in the dark shadows. Damn my bad luck and the cop’s even worse timing. If only he’d been a few minutes later, I’d have finished the job and been well away from here.

Don’t get me wrong. Under different circumstances, and most definitely with a different partner, I might have actually enjoyed being cuffed. After all, there’s nothing wrong with a bit of role-playing between two consenting adults. But neither of us were playing and I most certainly wasn’t consenting – at least not in that way.

Hell, all I wanted to do was survive the next few minutes and the possibility of that happening grew smaller with each passing moment.

God, I hate my job sometimes.

With the cop’s forearm still holding me against the hood of his car, I blinked through the rain and sniffed. Nothing. Not that I really expected anything different. The wind had shifted again, blowing toward the alley. That, along with the cop’s fear and the smells of the car engine, made it almost impossible to scent my prey. Not good, not good at all.

Still, there was one small blessing. The cop was human. That meant the stench of death clinging to me didn’t call out to him. He couldn’t smell its foul odor any more than he could read my mind. Fortunately, science hasn’t progressed that far. The last thing I needed was some gung-ho cop mucking about in my mind, especially considering my activities of the last half hour.

The dark of night combined with the rain also helped. It kept him from seeing any blood that might have splashed on me during the kill, just as it kept him from seeing the bruises that marked my face. Nor could he see the way my jeans were torn at the left thigh where the feral managed to get in one good bite before I’d slit its throat. Both the bruises and the bite would heal soon enough. What worried me was what forensics might reveal should the cops decide to check my clothes or do too close of an examination of the alley.

Well, I’d worry about that later – assuming there was a later.

“Look, officer.” I tugged ineffectually at the cuffs and then tried to straighten, only to be slammed back against the hood. The sharp, bitter taste of blood filled my mouth and I spat, sorry the rain would wash the results from the hood. Damn it, this was getting old fast.

A clap of thunder sounded overhead, rattling the windows in nearby buildings and drowning out anything he might have said. Unfortunately, it also drowned out any sounds that might have come from the alley. The alley I could barely see as the rain beat down even harder. By the time I saw anyone, or anything, emerge from the shadows, it would be too late.

I’ve always known death would come for me one day, but I’d planned to meet it head-on, fighting. I wasn’t one to “go gently into the night.” Now it looked like I’d meet it head-on, but there’d be little I could do about it.

Lightning streaked across the sky, followed almost instantly by a clap of thunder. The storm was right on top of us and didn’t seem to be moving anywhere fast. I sensed more than felt the cop fumbling with his radio. Taking advantage of his inattention, I twisted slightly, sliding out from under his restraining arm. Before he could react, and probably shoot me for trying to escape, I turned and straightened. But I didn’t move away from the squad car. Instead, I planted my butt against the fender and stood there, looking to my left, never taking my attention from the alley.

Another flash of lightning – damn, Mother Nature was pissed about something tonight – and the shadows near the mouth of the alley shifted. My breath caught and I fought the urge to move. The instincts born of a hunter tried to force me toward the alley, toward my prey. Common sense and a strong desire to survive stopped me. Even so, my wrists strained against the cuffs. My heart pounded. Fear, stronger than any I’d felt in a very long time filled me. Like this, I was helpless and I didn’t like it one little bit.

Wasn’t it enough I’d been forced to kill that night? Did I have to die as well?

“Damn it, lady, I told you not to move!”

The cop’s voice cracked as he dropped his radio and fumbled at his hip for his gun. If the situation wasn’t so serious, it might actually be funny. Maybe it would be in a decade or two. But for now, it was deadly serious and even more dangerous.

Praying I wasn’t making a fatal mistake, I tore my attention from the shadows shrouding the alley and focused on the cop. Maybe he really was as young and inexperienced as he looked. The way the hand holding his gun shook seemed proof of it. So did the fact he hadn’t secured me in the squad car while he checked the alley. He might not have told me what he thought he’d seen me do, but I could make a pretty good guess.

At least if he’d followed standard procedure, I’d be out of the rain. Instead, he had me standing there in the rain, cuffed like a common criminal.

Believe me, I might be many things but common I’m not and that’s something he’d soon discover if he didn’t get us out of there.

I waited, expecting Volk to appear from the shadows at any moment. He’d already surprised me once tonight and it had come close to costing me my life. He might still succeed, thanks to the cop. At least I’d had the satisfaction of knowing I’d dealt with one of Volk’s ferals before everything went to hell. But damn it, Volk had already cost us so much. How many more would die before we managed to kill him and contain the rest of his followers?

I closed my eyes and fought for control. My hunter wanted out. She knew the danger we were in and railed against it. She knew how to deal with this foolish human and she knew how to deal with Volk. All I had to do was release control and let her loose.

Part of me wanted to do just that. God, how I wanted to. But cuffed as I was, it would be beyond foolish. I couldn’t shift with my arms secured behind me. At the very least, my shoulders, and probably elbows and wrists, would be dislocated in the shift. More likely, they’d be broken. Neither result would heal quickly. Besides, Hollywood had a number of things wrong about our kind, not the least of which was the process of shifting between human and animal. It wasn’t quick, nor was it painless. I had no doubts that before the shift was over, the cop would have put a bullet in my brain and that would seriously suck.

The sound of leather scraping against the pavement seemed to fill the air even though the cop gave no indication he’d heard it. My eyes snapped open and I once more focused on the shadows down the alley. I tensed, ready for flight. I’d risk a bullet in the back to facing Volk with my hands cuffed behind me.

Death was close. I could feel it. How long would it toy with me before finally striking?

A moment – or an eternity – later, I exhaled slowly. Whether I shivered from the cold or relief, I didn’t know and it really didn’t matter. But my guess was on relief. After all, no monsters – human or shifter – had emerged from the shadows. Better yet, I was still alive. Maybe my luck was improving. I doubted it, but one can always hope.

Not that I was about to relax just yet. I knew Volk. I’d been tracking him for more than a month now. I’d seen what he could do and knew he wouldn’t hesitate to send one of the ferals in first to distract the cop so he could personally deal with me. Fear once again licked at the edges of my self-control and I fought it down. I had to stay calm and I had to figure out some way to convince Officer Do-Good to get us the hell out of there.

Most nights, the last place I wanted to be was a jail cell. Right now, however, the thought of being safely locked behind solid walls and strong bars sounded very, very inviting.

“Look, officer,” I began again as the sounds of a distant siren reached me. It wouldn’t be long before others joined us. Whether that was good or not, I didn’t know. “I don’t know what you think I did or who you think I might be, but I was just out for a walk. You’ll find my ID and motel key in my back pocket if you’d just look.” I let a hint of frustration creep into my voice. He’d expect it and God knows I certainly felt it.

“Lady, I read you your rights. I suggest you exercise the right to remain silent, because there is no way you were out for just a walk. I saw what you did!”

Great, just great. My luck was running true to form. I’d been stopped by Billy the Boy Scout, always true to duty. I’d lay odds he was one of those who always believed what he saw, no matter what the truth might be. Hell, with my luck, he also believed everything printed in the paper or reported on TV because the media would never lie or show bias.

Well, if he wasn’t careful, I’d shatter all his illusions. It was bad enough he’d cuffed me and hadn’t followed procedure by securing me in the squad car before securing the scene, something that might just keep us both alive a bit longer. The fact Volk still lingered in the area only made matters worse. When the wind had shifted a moment earlier, I’d caught the scent of him: that foul, carrion-like scent I’d learned to associate with him long ago. I’d felt his amusement in that moment. I’d become the mouse to his cat, most definitely not a position I enjoyed. If Officer Do-Good didn’t do something soon, I would because I did not want to die in this back alley.

No more than five minutes could have passed from the time the cop had cuffed me and his back-up arrived, but it had been five of the longest minutes of my life. In that time I’d gone from anger and frustration at being interrupted before I could finish dealing with Volk to bone-chilling fear and I’d had just about enough. The only thing keeping me from doing something that might be exceedingly foolish was the thought of how it wouldn’t accomplish anything but cause more trouble, trouble no one would thank me for.

I dipped my head and tried to wipe the rain from my eyes with my shoulder – Have I said I hate being cuffed?  It’s damned inconvenient – Then I turned my attention to the car now parked behind the squad car. Interesting, it wasn’t a marked unit.  Instead, it was a black SUV. To the untrained eye, it looked like any of a number of other SUVs on the market these days. But I didn’t have an untrained eye. I saw the reinforced bumpers and other special after-market add-ons that told me it had to belong to one of Coyote Springs’ detectives.

The driver’s door opened and a man stepped out, a very tall man. A man who, the the quick flash of lightning, looked like he was as much at home in a gym as he was patrolling the streets. He wore black slacks, black shirt and a DSPD windbreaker.  His shield hung from a chain around his neck.  He paused long enough to frown up at the rain before closing the distance between him and the uniformed officer in long, quick strides.

Then the wind shifted again and every instinct was once more on alert. The scent of the newcomer was more heady than the most expensive cologne. My other self, the white tiger that had been fighting for release, pressed once more against my control as she recognized one of our own. This newcomer, this mountain of a man, smelled of the grasslands. Whether that was good or not had yet to be seen. Like the normals, shape-changers have their bad seeds.

God, I hoped he really was one of the good guys.

At least he looked like he knew what he was doing as he looked first at me, his eyes sliding over me before he focused on the deeper shadows of the alley. Nothing about his expression or the way he held himself betrayed his thoughts. Surely he’d realized what I was. It was possible he hadn’t and, if that was the case, I didn’t want to call attention to my true nature. So I reasserted my control over my tiger and prayed the newcomer got us far away from the alley and soon.

Instead, he turned his attention to the uniformed officer and motioned for the younger man to join him. After a quick warning for me to stay where I was, the young cop complied. I leaned against the fender of the squad car, wondering what was going to happen next and not liking how they kept me standing there, wet and cold, while they talked.  I strained to hear what they said but couldn’t quite make it out.  There was something about “patrol”, “flash”, and “blood” and that was all.  Nothing I hadn’t expected.

“Did you find anything when you searched her?” the newcomer asked, turning to look at me with the jaundiced eye of a cop who’d been on the streets long enough to know just how fatal it can be to take anything for granted.  “You did search her, didn’t you?”

“No, sir.”  In the light form the head lamps, I could see the uniform swallow nervously.  “I secured her and figured it best to wait for back-up before doing anything else.”

Oh my gods, he was worried I’d yell sexual harassment? Give me strength.

“Please tell me you at least secured the scene.”

“N-no, Chief Kincade.  I didn’t think I should leave her unattended.”

For a moment, Kincade said nothing.  I’m not sure he could.  Frustration and disbelief radiated from him.  In the light from the two cars, I saw how his right hand fisted at his side.  I might be the one cuffed, but Officer Do-Good was the one in real trouble.  Not that I had much sympathy for him just then.

Kincade took another step forward until he was standing almost nose to nose with the uniform.  “Let me get this straight, Officer Snyder.  You arrested this woman you say you saw kill someone.  You cuffed her and I assume you read her her rights.”  Officer Snyder gave a jerky nod.  “But you didn’t search her and you didn’t secure the scene, even though it’s raining and any evidence there might be is being washed away.  Worse, you didn’t check to see if there might be someone in need of medical attention further down the alley.  Nor did you check to see if she might have an accomplice hiding in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to shoot you and free her.”

“I-I—“

“Stay here.”

With that, Kincade moved to stand before me. His left hand closed around my left arm and he gave a slight tug, just enough to let me know he wanted me to come with him. Since he was moving toward his SUV and not the shadows of the alley, I was happy to oblige. Not only would the SUV keep the rain off of me, it would offer some protection against Volk should he still be nearby and decide to strike.

“Lean back,” Kincade said after helping me into the back seat.

I did as he said and watched as he secured the seat belt across my waist. He cinched it tight and then gave it a tug to make sure it wouldn’t loosen. Then he bent. Before I could react, much less ask what he was doing, he shackled my ankles, the short chain running through a metal loop in the floor.

He straightened and quickly glanced over his shoulder to where Snyder stood looking miserable as the rain continued to beat down on him. “I don’t know who you are, lady, but I know what you are. I also smell the blood on you. As soon as I check the alley and make sure you haven’t left me a mess I can’t explain away, we are going to have a chat. What you tell me will determine whether you go to jail and get to call your lawyer or you go straight to my clan leader to explain why you’re hunting in his territory without permission.”

Mouth suddenly dry, all I could do was nod. He gave me a long look before slamming the door, locking me inside the SUV. I might be dry, but I might just be in more trouble than I’d been in before. Hunting in another clan’s territory without permission from the local clan leader could a capital offense. My own alpha had assured me he’d see to it my way was cleared wherever my hunt took me.

But if he hadn’t, facing Volk might actually be the lesser of two evils. It wasn’t long before Kincade emerged from the shadows.  Relief filled me — well, relief and a touch of worry — and I watched as he once more approached Snyder.  It was easy to see that Kincade hadn’t found anything to substantiate what Snyder had reported, not that that helped me. Kincade had smelled the blood on me. As a shape-changer, he’d know it was the blood of one of our kind. Hopefully, he’d remember to tell his alpha that. Killing one of our own kind was a serious offense but not the automatic death sentence hunting a normal would bring down on me. Still, I was relieved he hadn’t come across Volk. Hopefully, he’d be able to convince Snyder he’d made a mistake and I had done nothing wrong. Then, if my luck continued to hold, he’d call his alpha and find out I was authorized to be in their territory and they weren’t to interfere with my hunt. If that happened, and I knew it was a very big if, I’d soon return to the hunt.

At least for the moment, I didn’t have to worry about becoming Volk’s next victim.

Kincade said something to Snyder that had the uniform hunching his shoulders and staring at his feet like a kid getting a very effective dressing down.  Then Kincade nodded to the squad car, the implication clear. He stood there, watching as Snyder moved slowly away from him, feet dragging through the water. Part of me felt sorry for the kid. He’d had the misfortune of stumbling upon something he wasn’t prepared to believe in, much less understand. Then he’d been dressed down by his boss. My night might have sucked, but it had been even worse for Officer Snyder.

“We both got lucky,” Kincade said as he slid in behind the steering wheel. “The rain washed away the most obvious evidence of what you were doing in that alley and whoever else was with you or your target got the body away before anyone else could see it.” He slid the key in the ignition and a moment later we drove off with a squeal of tires. “But you are a problem I have to deal with. Name and clan?” The last was snapped out and I knew better than to keep quiet.

“Maggie Thrasher, Kansas clan, Wichita pride.”

He nodded but said nothing else. Instead, he radioed into Dispatch that he was transporting the suspect to County. My heart beat a bit faster. Surely he wasn’t really going to do that. County jail meant not only fingerprinting me and taking my photo. Thanks to a recent Supreme Court ruling, it meant the cops could — and, with my luck, would — take a DNA sample from me. That was one of our kinds’ biggest fears. Modern science had finally advanced to the point where it was quite possible some overly-ambitious lab tech would spot the difference in our DNA from normal human DNA. Once that happened, our secret would be out and none of us wanted to risk the panic that was sure to follow.

Shape-changers might be stronger than normals and much more difficult to kill, but we also were in the vast minority. That’s why we have always done our best not to let our existence be known. We’ve seen what fear can do to people. We’ve seen it in our own kind when a new shifter form suddenly appears. If our existence became public knowledge without the right groundwork being laid, there would be bloodshed and too many on both sides would die.

“Where are we going?” Did he hear the worry in my voice?

“To see my alpha. He’ll either tell me you are cleared to be here or he won’t. For your sake, you’d better hope you’ve told me the truth and he knows why you’re here and has approved it. We had trouble with hunters coming here without permission last year and trying to take his mate against her will. He won’t take kindly to another hunter coming here without prior approval.”

I swallowed once, mouth tight, as memory of my own clan leader telling us about his visit to the Texas clan and the reasons for it. I’d known then that Declan hadn’t told us everything. There were gaps in the story about how the clan leader for the Northern California clan had hunted for a female shape-changer for years, ever since she’d spurned his advances as a fifteen year old after her parents’ deaths. He’d somehow discovered she was living in the Dallas area and had sent hunters after her, without notifying the Texas clan leader of their presence, much less getting his permission for them to be there.

But there was one thing I remembered very clearly from that night. When Declan told us the names of the clan leader and his new mate, I’d been stunned. Not by the fact the Northern California clan leader had died in a fight with the female alpha of the Texas clan. Not even by the fact the Californian had tried to kill the Texas clan leader. No, I’d been shocked by the identity of the female alpha. I’d never met her, but I’d heard about her all my life. She’d been my older sister’s friend during the summers when Eileen would visit our grandparents in Oklahoma.

With that came memory of the clan leader’s name. Kincade. Obviously Chief Kincade was some sort of relative. Whether that was good or not, I didn’t know. I just hoped the clan leader and his mate were morning people. Unless I was very wrong, we’d be at their place long before the sun was up. Then I’d have to hope Declan had done as he’d promised and filled the alpha in on my mission and why it was so important I be allowed to work in the Texas territory. If not, well, Volk would be the least of my worries.

And I still hadn’t had any coffee.

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The Road to Digital Publication – Part 8

Fist off, I want to thank Sarah for stepping in last weekend to give us that wonderful post on covers. For those of us who have been brought up shopping for books in bookstores, or even at the local grocery store or Walmart, covers have often played a role in getting us to pick up a book to read the blurb or skim the first few pages. Covers are still an important part of marketing your e-book, although perhaps in different ways. That said, if you have a generic cover that doesn’t catch the reader’s eye when they go to the product page or see it in the “If you liked this, you’ll like that” recommendation list, folks won’t click through to buy your e-book. The same can be said if your cover screams “Amateur!”. So, if you haven’t read Sarah’s post, please do so.

Today will be the next to the last post in this series. Next week, I’ll do a quick wrap up and try to answer any questions you might have. So, if there are any topics I haven’t covered, leave a comment and I will do my best to cover it next week.

Now, on with the post. . . .

I’m not going to do a lot on titles, mainly because I think Sarah is going to do a blog post about them, but do have a couple of thoughts. First, your title needs to clue your reader into the genre of your e-book. Let me begin by saying I am the absolute worst at coming up with titles for my own books. Nocturnal Origins titled itself. I didn’t try to change it because it did what I wanted it to. It cued the reader into the fact that this was a book with supernatural overtones. Now, I’ll admit it might, on its own, make the reader think vampire but not necessarily. Added with the cover art, it was pretty obvious (at least to me) that this was an urban fantasy (or contemporary fantasy) with shapeshifters.

One thing I do when settling on a title, either for myself or for Naked Reader Press, is check to see what else has that title. Just because there’s another book or a song or movie with the same title doesn’t mean I automatically toss out a title. But, I do look to see how many items have the title and if any are the same genre and have bad reviews. Yep, I worry about the stink of something rubbing off on my work.  Also, if there are too many things with the same title, I worry about my e-book being lost in the search engine if the person making the query doesn’t add qualifiers to it.

Another thing to keep in mind, with an e-book, you are working with limited real estate, so to speak, when it comes to displaying your title. So shorter is better. You can have a sub-title, ie: Book One in the XYZ Series, or a further descriptor of the book. But it will become muddled on the e-book thumbnail, which is the first thing your potential reader sees. So, keep that always in the back of your mind and go back to read Sarah’s post on covers.

The next thing to consider is pricing. Yes, yes, I know. There is no consensus on this. There are those who say you should never sell anything longer than a short story for less than $2.99 and a novel should never be sold for less than $4.99. On the other hand, you have buyers who won’t spend more than $0.99 for anything, no matter what the length, from a self-published author.

Now, before you start thinking you can get past that prejudice by forming a DBA and having your own “publishing company”, let me add a word of warning. If you are doing this, and I do advocate it, you have to choose a name that sounds legitimate. Don’t use your own name. Don’t add .com at the end of the “house” name. If you write vampire stories, don’t name it Blood and Fang Press (Yes, I have seen something similar). Don’t call it My E-book Press (and, again, I have seen something similar). Remember, folks buying e-books are usually pretty internet savvy and they will and do google a publisher to see if it is legitimate or not. Not must screams amateur more loudly than naming your “publishing company” along those lines, especially if someone googles it and finds there is no website for the “company”.

Along this line as well — yes, Sarah, I’m talking to you here — if you put your work up on Smashwords and you have a DBA you are using, be sure to have a page for your press. Just as you have an author page there, you need a “house” profile page. This is especially important if, like Sarah, you have multiple pen names. That way, if someone searches for one of your pen names, they will see a live link for the Press as well and can click on it to see all the titles you have published, no matter how many pen names you’ve used. This works as well for Amazon and, I assume, for B&N, although its search engine leaves a lot to be desired.

Back to pricing. My recommendation for those who have not yet garnered a following, is simple. Short stories are $0.99. Novellas are $1.99 or $2.99. For all of these, be sure to note in the product description that they are short stories or novellas. It is amazing the number of folks who will give negative reviews because they liked the plot but it was too short. They wanted more. You will really get this if you are seen to be overpricing for your work. First novels should be no more than $4.99 and my gut feeling is they should be no more than $2.99. Note, I said first novels. And, before I hear the cries that first novels published through NRP are priced higher, they are. But we aren’t having to fight the uprising in some quarters against self-published authors. Yes, I know this does fly in the face of advice given by others, and I’m not saying it’s wrong. What I am saying is that right now, with the abundance of books and short stories being offered for free through the KDP Select Program on Amazon, you are having to fight to get your just released e-book into the hands of readers being offered hundreds of freebies every day.

Does that mean I think you should immediately offer your new title in the the KDP Select Program. Not only no, but hell no. The program, which is offered to anyone who is publishing their work through Amazon KDP has some downsides. The first is that you can’t offer your titles anywhere else during a 90 day period. My recommendation is to put your work out in as many markets as possible to start. See where the bulk of your sales happen over a period of months. While the vast majority of my sales come from Amazon, it isn’t always the case. So don’t go into the program without doing your homework first.

Also, based on personal experience and on talking with other writers and readers, there’s a trend I’m seeing. Because of the number of titles being offered each day, a lot of people are simply skipping over those titles that 1) are easily identifiable as self-published by new authors, and/or 2) have no reviews, and/or 3) the product description is poorly written or formatted. So, make sure you have legitimate purchaser reviews up, favorable ones, before putting your e-book into the program. By legitimate, I mean from people who have actually read the book and who don’t have the same last name as you. Sock puppets are usually discovered pretty quickly and have been known to be reported to Amazon.

As for product descriptions, well, those are difficult and I’m not sure there is a good rule of thumb. When it is a short story, say that. Give the reader warning. If it is a short story that also appears in a collection or anthology, note that. If you are putting out a collection, list the short stories with a brief description of each title. Note I say brief. Give enough of a synopsis, whether for a novel or for a short story, to give the reader a flavor for what the e-book is about, but don’t give too much detail because there will be those who will expect the book to be exactly like you’ve described. AND they will give you a negative review if they feel your description mislead them.

For example, the description for Ellie Ferguson’s Wedding Bell Blues mentions how the main character has to deal with, among other things, the best man for her sister’s wedding who is very handsy. There is a review that knocks us because that reader expected the best man to play a major part in the story and he doesn’t. We threw that bit into the description, not because we meant he was a major player but because it helped set the scene for the distractions the main character was having to deal with. In other words, he was a gnat she’d usually swat but couldn’t just then because of her sister’s upcoming nuptuals.

So, shorter can be better, as long as you give a fair feel for the novel or short story. Also, you don’t want to give too much away. Think of it as what you’d see in the TV Guide if it was a TV show. Or as if you are giving a 30 second pitch for it.

One more thing to remember, not everyone will be reading the blurb on their computers. Many will read it on their smart phones, tablets and e-readers. So keep in mind they may not continue paging forward if the description is too long.

Finally, keep on top of any changes in the “contracts” you agree to wherever you sell your e-books. Don’t do as someone I read the other day who openly admitted she’d violated the terms of her contract with Amazon by offering her titles free on other sites but not there. Why had she done this? Because she couldn’t figure out how to offer them for free before the KDP Select Program began. She obviously couldn’t be bothered to call or e-mail Amazon. Nor could she be bothered to simply google the question or ask on fb or her blog. She simply violated the terms of her contract. Now, it’s true Amazon doesn’t usually take action against an author who does this. However, if an author makes a habit of it — and if they are very public in telling people what they are doing — Amazon can and will send an email telling you to either abide by your contract with them or remove your title from their catalog. Instead of violating the terms of her agreement, all she had to do was lower the price elsewhere, then report the lower price to Amazon (there’s a handy button on every product page where you can report a lower price). It will usually lower the price and then put it back to normal when you ask them to (yes, there are times when this doesn’t happen, but not often.)

Just as you are responsible for knowing the terms of any contract you sign, and knowing if that contract has been amended, you have the same responsibility with regard to the contracts with Smashwords, B&N, Apple and Amazon.

As I said, I’d like to wrap up this series next weekend. So if you have anything you want me to discuss, leave a comment to that effect. Later, after the series is older, I’ll pull it together, edit it into an easily navigable format and make it available either here or on my blog. I’ll let you know when it happens.

So, the floor is yours. And before I get accused of not promoting my own material, go buy Nocturnal Origins or its sequel, Nocturnal Serenade. Please. My doggie and kitteh need food 😉

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