Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cold Hearted: A Yancy Lazarus Novel by James A. Hunter

Hey folks, my name is James A. Hunter and I’m an Urban Fantasy writer, not that you’ll catch me making that confession in public. I’m the author of the Golem Chronicles—starring a dysfunctional, socially awkward, vigilante, shapeshifting golem—and the Yancy Lazarus series, which revolves around the adventures and various shenanigans of Yancy Lazarus, a magical, wet-works man turned rambling blues hound. I’d like to thank Fang-tastic books for inviting me on.
Is the setting to your story important?
Oh, absolutely. As a fantasy writer, I’m a natural world builder, and I love expanding the often-bizarre universe Lazarus is forced to trek through in his ass-backward attempts to save the world. The setting is contemporary and urban with supernatural and fantastical creatures from a wide array of backgrounds hiding in plain sight. There is also a supernatural realm, Outworld, which exists on a different plane, but which can be accessed by traveling through a shady, otherworldly city known as the Hub. My books draw from a lot of different mythologies and feature creatures you’re not likely to find elsewhere.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I never honestly thought I’d end up as a full-time writer. After high-school I went into the Marine Corps and it wasn’t until my first deployment to Iraq that I discovered the pleasure in storytelling. I played around as a writer, doing it on and off during my time in the service, but never really thought it would amount to anything. After my time in service, I eventually went back to school and received a degree in theology, then went to the mission field with my family, which is what I thought I would do as a career. But I kept writing, writing, writing, and finally published my first novel in 2015—which ended up being pretty successful (at least by my standards). When my family transitioned back to the states for health reasons, I had an awesome new career to fall back on.
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
For me, anyone who enjoys writing—whether published or not—is a writer. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, novels. Whatever. If you write, then you’re a writer. Period. So even when I was scratching out my first, terrible stories as a Marine deployed in Iraq, I considered myself a writer.
What were your goals as an author and have any of them come true?
I’ve found that setting goals and bench marks is really important for authors—particularly, because writing is such a stupendously subjective business. You need to realistically define success, so you can constantly evaluate where you’re at on your own journey. For me, selling 10,000 copies in the first year was a huge dream come true (I’d expected to sell 100 copies, so this blew me out of the water), and when I could quit my job to write full time a year after publishing my first book, I was thrilled. Now, I just want to continue living the dream, continue to improve my craft, and continue to make fans happy with the quality of my books.
Is there a genre you haven’t written in that one day you’d like to tackle?
Right now my mainstay genre is urban/dark fantasy in all its wonderful and morbid forms. Originally, though, I started out writing horror novels and short stories and someday I may swing back that way. I plan to release a short-story horror collection in early 2017. I also have an idea for a more traditional high-fantasy, which I would like to get around to writing one day, but for now gritty urban fantasy is my bread and butter.
What was the first book you ever published?
The first book I ever published was Strange Magic, the first book in my Yancy Lazarus series. Cold Hearted is the second full length Lazarus novel, followed by Wendigo Rising, with a fourth book due out this September (plus a couple of novellas, which are also available now).

Cold Hearted: A Yancy Lazarus Novel
The Yancy Lazarus Series
Episode 2
James A. Hunter

Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Shadow Alley Press

Date of Publication: May 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-1514234266

Number of pages: 415
Word Count: 111,000

Cover Artist: Dane,

Book Description:


Yancy Lazarus is back and facing off against his most dangerous foe yet—without the benefit of his magic. A breakneck thriller that'll keep you turning the pages!
—Sam Witt, Author of Half-Made Girls (Pitchfork County Novels)

Yancy Lazarus just wants to be left alone. He wants to play his blues music, smoke a few cigarettes, and otherwise leave the supernatural world to fend for itself.

He especially wants to be left alone by the Guild of the Staff—the mage ruling body—where he used to work as a Fix-It man. But when a little kid gets nabbed by an ancient Fae creature from the nether regions of Winter and the Guild refuses to set things right, he just can’t seem to heed good sense and leave things be.

Nothing’s ever easy though. Turns out, the kidnapping is just the tip of one big ol’ iceberg of pain and trouble. It seems some nefarious force is working behind the scenes to try and unhinge the tenuous balance between the supernatural nations and usher in a new world order. So now, if Yancy ever hopes to see the bottom of another beer bottle, he’s gonna have to partner up with an FBI agent—an agent who’s been hunting him for years—in order to bring down a nigh-immortal, douchebag mage from a different era. And to top it off, Yancy’s gonna have to pull it off without his magical powers … Boy, some days just aren’t worth getting out of bed for.

The tunnel stretched out before me like the throat of some monstrous serpent, icy blue walls radiating pale witchlight to guide my feet. I shuffled along the winding pathway, trying for speed and failing miserably. There was snow underfoot, but the powder was often interspersed with patches of slick ice, which made the going treacherous as hell. It didn’t help a lick that my feet were so numb I couldn’t feel my toes, even though I had on heavy boots and thermal socks. Every friggin’ step felt like a crapshoot and I wasn’t quite sure how the dice would land.
I heard a howl from somewhere back in the darkness, a warbling noise that echoed and bounced around the narrow tunnel. I glanced back for a moment, which is precisely when my feet skidded out from under me and I went down hard, my ass connecting on the slippery ground below. My hip ached from the tumble, but at least my head landed in a pile of snow instead of on hard ground. I lay there for a moment, staring up at the curved ceiling, simmering in indignation.
Why me? Why couldn’t I ever just keep my head down and mind my own friggin’ business? I felt like kicking my own ass for being such a gullible, softhearted mook. Shit, the least I could do was be a little more selective. Tell people I’d only do them favors if the location was somewhere nice and beautiful … like say, sunny, sandy, not-cold-as-balls Honolulu.
I guess, technically, Thurak-Tir—home to the High Fae of the Winterlands—was a beautiful-ish place, so long as you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind the arctic tundra of Siberia. The buildings are impressive at least: slick spires of frost, carved and sculpted into a thousand wonders; a house fashioned to resemble a frozen waterfall; a palace made of snow and crystalline-rime in the image of Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life; a tower in the shape of a serpentine neck, complete with scales, topped by a massive dragon’s head. Under the light of day, the whole city sparkles like a diamond, and at night beautiful slashes of green and gold drift through the air, a semi-permanent Aurora Borealis. 
But it’s also piss-freezing cold and only beautiful in the way a statue is—lifeless, still, too perfect. And the residents are all the same. Bunch of too-good-for-you, cold-hearted pricks. I absolutely hate Thurak-Tir. Give me a warm New Orleans night in a dirty bar with a crowd of shit-faced hobos any day of the week.
Down in the subterranean caverns below the city, where I happened to be trudging around, was even worse. Monsters, spirits, and a whole lot of frigid air. The light of day never penetrated these depths, so the cold … well, the cold seemed both malevolent and alive, like some frostbite-belching yeti.
More yowls and howls, followed by cackling laughter: Ice gnomes—not nearly as cute or cuddly as they sound—closing in, and fast. Time to move.
I scrambled onto my hands and knees, gaining my feet like a clumsy toddler taking his first steps, and shambled away from the chorus of mocking laughter. Creepy little twerps.
If I was going to make it out of this place in one piece, I needed better lighting. Thankfully, I’ve got something a little handier than a flashlight. I can do magic, and not the cheap stuff you see in Vegas with flowers or floating cards or disappearing stagehands. People like me, who can touch the Vis, can do real magic. Although magic isn’t the right word—magic is a Rube word for those not in-the-know. Users just call it the Vis, an old Latin word meaning force or energy. Simply put, there are energies out there, underlying matter, existence, and in fact, all Creation. It just so happens that I can manipulate that energy. Period. End of story.
I paused for a moment, and opened myself to the Vis. Power rolled into me like magma from an active volcano, heat and life and energy filling me up, sending renewed strength into my limbs. I was careful only to draw a little and push the rest away—unchecked, the Vis can be as seductive and dangerous as a beautiful woman with a grudge.
Weaves of fire and air flowed out around me as I shaped that raw force; a soft nimbus of orange light encircled me, granting both better visibility and a small pocket of comforting warmth. Sure, it would make me stand out like a dirty redneck at a posh country club, but there was nothing I could do about that.     
I got moving again, huffing and puffing my way along. More frenzied cries floated toward me from the tunnel twisting away behind. I needed to move faster, but the gloom still hampered my progress, forcing me to slow down and take my time. Even with the combined illumination from my construct and the ghostly witchlight bleeding from the walls, I could only see a few feet out. This was a night place, a dark place that fought the intrusion of light and heat with tooth and nail.
Even going sloth-speed, I almost didn’t see the cliff until my feet were over the edge. I hollered and threw on the brakes in a panic—digging in with my heels and pinwheeling my arms as I fell once more onto my back. I landed with a whuff of expelled air and immediately sprawled out my arms and legs. The greater surface area seemed to slow me down a little, but not enough. My legs skittered over the side, drawing me onward and downward. I clawed at the unyielding ice with numb fingers, my thin winter gloves making it all the more difficult.
I pulled more power, more Vis, into my body, and pushed thin strands of fire out through my fingertips. Small divots blossomed into the ice-covered surface of the floor, little grooves where my digits could find purchase.
Unfortunately my gloves began to smolder from the flame, the leather sending up curls of gray smoke. I ignored the heat—survival was my first priority. I dug in, giving it everything I had, arms and hands straining with the effort.
At last I skidded to a halt, my slide coming to a premature stop though it was a damn close thing. The tension in my arms and hands eased up as I slowly, carefully, pulled my hips and legs back from the drop-off, though my feet still dangled out in the air. Past the drop-off was blackness all the way down with no bottom in sight. Admittedly, the soft glow surrounding my body didn’t do much to diminish the gloom. Hell, the bottom could’ve been ten feet down or ten thousand. Better not to find out by taking a leap.
My heart thudded hard against my ribs. I’m not exactly afraid of heights, mind you, but anyone would be apprehensive about the prospect of careening off a cliff into potentially unending blackness. I took one more glance over the edge and uttered a sigh of relief. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.  
I heard a hoot of mirth just a second before something hard and heavy collided into my back—a wallop right between my aching shoulder blades.
My fingers tore free of their meager holds and over the drop-off I went, manic gnome laughter filling my ears as I fell. I tumbled down and down, flipping through the air like a fumbled football. I caught just a brief glimpse of a short, knobby form peering over the edge, his whole stumpy body shaking as he cackled. Asshole gnomes.
I lashed out with air—great columns of the stuff—directed down to slow my descent. That was a start, but the construct wouldn’t keep me from getting impaled on a giant icicle or busting my guts open on a rocky outcropping.
So next, I pulled in strands of artic cold, weaves of spirit and reinforced bands of fae power, floating through the air like so much dust. A shimmering bubble of green—shifting from emerald to pine to jade and back again—snapped into place with an effort of will, encompassing me in a tight globe of power, exerting a slight pressure on my body. A small safeguard against pointy things and an air pocket to cushion my body from the inevitable impact.


About the Author:

Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—’cause that’s a real thing. I’ve also been a missionary and international aid worker in Bangkok, Thailand. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.

Okay … the last one is only in my imagination.

Currently, I’m a stay at home Dad—taking care of my two kids—while also writing full time, making up absurd stories that I hope people will continue to buy. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.

You can visit me to find out more at

Release Day Blitz for Gates of Submission by Nikki DiCaro

Amanda Radcliffe married opportunistically.  Her middle class upbringing made her vow never to be subjected to the boredom of work-a-day life.  She stumbled across her future husband at a fraternity party.  He was a college junior with few dating experiences to his credit.  He was cruising into senior year with a substantial GPA, strong employment and earning prospects without a special someone to share it with. 

Mandy’s past was colored by multiple sexual partners.  The co-ed was an equal opportunity lover; trying heterosexual and lesbian relations.  Sex with men taught her the sensual and erotic power of a woman’s pleasures.  She demanded the use of condoms even in the heat and impulse of predatory sex.  No condom no penetration. One of the men told her he wouldn’t wear a condom and she could please him orally to make up for his disappointment.  He barely escaped with his dignity; Mandy thrashed him verbally.  With each word his erect member deflated.  By the time he was fully dressed he was dragging his shredded masculinity out of her dorm room.

As the end of spring semester of junior year approached she decided to abandon her female lovers to return to the straight and narrow sexual life.  Mandy had been trolling parties for the right man.  By the third fraternity party she was beginning to feel like she would have to take her act off campus.  Her two closest friends who knew nothing of Mandy’s secret refused to wander off campus.  There had been a string of sexual assaults and co-eds were cautioned not to venture from the protective cocoon of campus unless absolutely necessary.

An hour into the party she spotted Russell.  She approached slowly, gaze heavy on him. He was smart and available. but wasn’t a chiseled jock like the guys she was accustomed to screwing.  He was brimming with earning potential; having already applied and been accepted to a top tier graduate program.  Mandy saw dollar signs.  The closer she got the less comfortable Russell became. When she stopped immediately in front of her he wasn’t sure if he was dreaming.  She was beautiful; radiating youthful sensuality that increased her attractiveness quotient.  His analytical mind began to run probabilities.  Her greeting stunned him.

“Hi sweetie, I’m Mandy.” She read his body language like a favorite novel. 

“Hi,” was all he could muster.  She smiled; melting his indecision.

“I’m Russell.  My friends call me Russ.”  He sounded relaxed although his insides felt like they might liquefy. 

They talked and danced.  She moved like liquid silk. Two hours later their lips met for the first time.  His knees threatened to turn to rubber as her full sweet lips devoured his. Mandy had power; she knew it.  Her unsuspecting prey fell hard.

They dated through the summer leading to senior year.  On their six month dating anniversary Russell introduced the concept of marriage.  When Mandy accepted, he was proud as a peacock.  Some of his friend offered congratulations; others offered condolences.  He thought they were joking.

Gates of Submission
New Boundaries
Book One
Nikki DiCaro

Genre: LGBT Fiction

Publisher: Can’t Put It Down Books

Date of Publication: July 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972024-3-4

Number of pages: 315
Word Count: 103,216

Cover Artist: Genevieve Lavo Cosdon

Book Description:

Russell has lost everything; his wife Mandy, his children and his suburban mini-mansion. Left with only the tatters of a once successful life, he discovers the courage to venture beyond the boundaries of conventionality. Stripping off his male exterior, Allison makes her debut, bringing a ray of hope that life might offer more than pain and confusion. His boss, Sylvia, a dominant and beautiful sexual powerhouse, has other ideas after discovering his deepest secret. As Sylvia’s hold on Russell tightens he is torn between shame and desire. Can he break free from Sylvia’s grasp? Will he choose to be: Russell or Allison?


DIVORCE. THE WORD RATTLED around in his brain like a steel ball in an old-fashioned pinball machine. The papers had arrived at his office that morning by courier; he was officially divorced. Russell Radcliffe pulled his cherry-red Mercedes Benz convertible into the garage of his modest rancher and slid the transmission lever into park. Stung by the events of the day, he sat quietly, struggling with the dramatic change in his lifestyle. The five thousand square foot McMansion, the pool with elaborate cabana complete with wet bar and massage table, the Mercedes and the Range Rover, the country club membership, the well-earned upscale lifestyle—gone. The dream life with his children and the woman he promised to love for better or for worse were now a memory.
When days were rosy and nights sultry, the couple fell for the trappings of opulence. To support their lifestyle Russell and his wife mortgaged themselves right to the edge, not close enough that a fall from grace was eminent, but close enough that Russell could feel the spray from the waves pounding on the financial rocks below. The last brick in the wall crumbled; the mansion—her dream home—had a for sale sign with a picture of a 40-something big-haired, big nailed, real estate goddess in the front yard. The real estate market had softened putting a large portion of their nest egg in harm’s way. His wife got to remain in the house with the two teenagers, forcing him to relocate. She wanted everything before she would cede his car to him. He wanted that car; he needed that car. He equated the car with his identity even more than the house.
Russell replayed those last days of their marriage. In one fell swoop, Mandy revealed she was having an affair and had the divorce papers served to his office the next day. Not only was he not getting any, an interloper had been planting in his garden. He told Mandy that he was willing to forgive her, that she would regret leaving him, that she couldn’t stand on her own two feet.
“Come to your senses Mandy. Quit this foolishness and think it through.”
She had laughed. “Do you think I haven’t thought this through? Do you think I’m doing this because I want to get your attention?”
“I don’t understand why you’re doing this to me. I just want you to stop. Adultery is against the law.” His voice was strained; he wanted desperately to get through to her. His wife stood arms akimbo, her long sleek legs ran from her blue skirt, through nude pantyhose, and slid perfectly into navy blue patent leather pumps. She was attractive, even after two hard pregnancies. Her auburn hair wafted in sultry waves across her soft shoulders ending elegantly just short of the middle of her back. Large hazel eyes were framed by high cheekbones, thin nose and highly sculptured eyebrows. Her complexion hinted at regular trips to the tanning salon.
“When you started wearing my clothes I knew it was over. You were the one who turned our marriage into a farce, not me. ” Her tone was accusatory. “And don’t think threats will work with me, kiddo. I can ruin you if you put me in that position.” Her gaze was cold steel.
Russell looked her over; he would have begged her to stay if his pride wasn’t so strong. He loved her; she was his female role model; everything he wanted to be in a woman he saw in his wife. But he couldn’t condone her desire to find pleasure in another’s bed. Looking away he calculated his options; they were bleak. Losing his job wasn’t an option. He had worked long and hard to parlay the master’s degree in finance into a high profile position with an investment banking firm. He figured he would be summarily dismissed if his superiors knew he was transgender.
After the divorce he licked his wounds and decided to buy down-market. The shock of a smaller place on a postage stamp lot made him wish he hadn't been so critical when his wife unceremoniously disclosed her extramarital affair. He lost that struggle and was losing others. He would never give up his femininity even though it had meant losing his wife, who realized she wasn’t the only woman in his life. This had cut her deeply and she had made him bleed.

As he sat in the car with the engine running he considered pressing the activator button to bring the garage door down and seal off the garage. Just one click and he would fade slowly into eternal sleep.

About the Author:

Nikki DiCaro has been writing novels, inspirational essays and poetry for over ten years. Her novels focus on complex characters whose real-life problems touch on the issues of the day—from workplace harassment to divorce to transgender/LGBT issues. Gates of Submission is the first novel in her five-book series, “New Boundaries.” Its spicy plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat.

When not creating fascinating characters and sensual scenes, Nikki writes inspirational essays which she posts regularly on her website,   A proponent of parity, equality, and unconditional acceptance she is a frequent speaker and presenter on gender sensitivity and workplace equality.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Review Dead of Summer on Freeform

As a horror fan I had to give Dead of Summer a try, my daughter wouldn't leave me alone until I watched it with her.

I'm not sure if I'll keep watching, it might become one of those shows she watches alone like Scream or Scream Queens. I couldn't with either of those. Scream...well let's just say I sat through ALL the movies and that was enough for me. I don't need a reboot TV show. Scream Queens...sigh...I wanted to enjoy the campy ridiculousness of it, but I couldn't.

Back to Dead of Summer.... as it opened I realized it was set in 1989 I got instant nostalgic feelings. 

One of the best summers of my childhood. I would say the summers of 1987- 90 totally rocked for me. So 1989....I was simultaneously thinking, OK this can be good, and why 1989?

Seriously why 1989? Like me, were the writers feeling nostalgic about their childhood/teen years or is 1989 a nod to all the summer camp slasher flicks of the 80s?

What they got right- the music was good. They played songs that were popular in that time. I almost cried when Patience by Guns R Roses came on at the end of episode one. That song will always have a special place in my heart.

They also got some props right, the super soaker- which debuted in 1989 was a nice touch along with the magazine covers.

What they got wrong- the hair. OMG the hair is so wrong it hurts. 1989 was the height of big hair- pun totally intended. Girls had bangs for days and they were teased and hair sprayed to unbelievable heights.

Not one girl in this show has bangs and the lack of big, teased, and ratted out hair is a big no-no for a period piece.

The clothes...those are pretty wrong too. I mean most of the stuff they have worn is pretty generic and could show up in almost any late 20th or early 21st century teen wardrobe, jeans, flannel shirts, long sleeve tops...they got a few things right like some band tshirts, pastel polo with a turned up collar paired with white pants.

What they are missing is the crop top shirts, acid wash jeans, shorts, jackets, and vests, and the wild and crazy patterns on everything.

This I find to be extremely lazy and sad because you can walk into any thrift store and find things straight out of the 80s. A good costumer would know this and take advantage of it. I feel that whoever was in charge of hair and clothing was not alive in 1989, otherwise things would be different.

The characters... so in 1989 you would be hard pressed to find such a diverse group of kids hanging out together. Granted they are at camp and that pushes people together who normally would not run in the same social circles. A couple white girls, a Hispanic girl, a black guy, a couple white guys, a transgender FtM, and a gay guy.

In 1989 if you were gay or trans you kept that shit to yourself and didn't voice it to the world, at least not in small town USA or the Midwest. Maybe in California you could but not where I come from. There were a couple kids who everyone "knew" was gay, but they never were flamboyant about it. This guy is all up in your face with his gayness and everyone is cool with it, including all the straight white guys.

Hmmm, yeah OK, NOT! Highly doubtful for 1989.

It's like they wanted to throw in modern diversity mix with standard character tropes and voila, a cast is born.

So now to the actual story and horror elements.

Opening with Tony Todd is a great way to set a tone, anyone who watched the Candy Man movies is surely programmed to cry like a baby when they see him. Well, maybe that's just me. The very sight of him in anything sends me into CandyMan PTSD mode.

But that's where the scary seems to end.

Sure there are some creepy elements and jump scares, along with lots of screaming but everything feels cliche and full of horror tropes trying too hard to mish mash a storyline together.

What the hell is going on here? 

Satanic plots, magic elements, random murder spree, deep dark secrets coming back for retribution and revenge?

All of the above?

I'm not sold on this show but not giving up yet. If nothing else it gives me and teen something to make fun of on a long summer night.

Guest Blog - Enchanted Guardian by Sharon Ashwood

Legendary Lovers

Of all the knights of Camelot, Lancelot is the one most closely associated with romantic love. There was no way I could write the Camelot Reborn series without including him, and that meant tackling the fact that he was reputed to—um—“lance a lot.”
My Camelot Reborn series involves an enchantment that turned the Knights of the Round Table to stone, only to awaken them in the modern era when faery hordes threaten humanity. Chain mail meets retail chains, fast food, and faster cars, and my medieval knights find adventure and women worthy of legendary heroes. That means ladies as brave, smart, and unique as the men.
But where does Lancelot fit in? If you look back at the tales of King Arthur and co., Sir Lance appeared via French literature during the time when the concept of courtly love was coming into vogue. Basically, this was an idealized code of behavior that gave rise to the image of an untouchable beauty and the knight who would sacrifice everything to protect her honor. The authors needed to create a romantic hero for the times, and Lancelot was the result.
As a character, he caught on. Time passed and Lancelot collected as many amours as any celebrity. Besides Guinevere, there were two Elaines, a faery enchantress, and countless damsels in distress (one incident involving a cursed bathtub). Some scholars believe he was a late version of a fertility god. I say he was a bad boy in need of taming.
When I came to choose a heroine for ENCHANTED GUARDIAN, I went back to the first woman who appears in his life story:  Nimueh, the Lady of the Lake. She is beautiful, immortal, and powerful enough to give Merlin a run for his magic wand. Nim is the faery enchantress who was Lancelot’s first love—and the one he left behind to pursue his adventures at Arthur’s court.

Nim is no weakling, but she’s seen hard times since Camelot fell. She has no time for the knight who abandoned her to a terrible fate. Too bad she was the only one he ever truly loved, but realized it far too late. Let the fun begin!
Enchanted Guardian
Camelot Reborn Series
Book Two
Sharon Ashwood

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Harlequin Nocturne

Date of Publication: August 1 2016

ISBN: 978-0373009763

Number of pages: 300    
Word Count: 85000

Book Description:

Enchanted Guardian- A love of legendary proportion

In another time, in a place once known as Camelot, they had been lovers. Torn apart by betrayal and lies, Lancelot Du Lac and Nimueh, the Lady of the Lake, had each suffered greatly.

But the magic of the fae had reawakened a man once trapped in stone, and Lancelot was determined to find his long lost love. Only, Nim was desperate to hide her fae soul, as she was marked for death by their mutual enemy.

Though centuries apart had not diminished their passion, they would once again face a dangerous test to prove each was the other’s destiny.

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Lancelot caught her arm, pulling her up short. Nim scowled down at the long, strong fingers. Fine scars ran along his tanned knuckles, evidence of a life around blades. Heaviness filled her, a primitive reaction to the strong, aggressive male taking control of her in the most basic way. Once it might have grown into anger or lust, but now it confused her.
“Take your hand off me,” she said, letting her voice fill with frost.
“No.” He pulled her closer, turning her to face him. “You will answer my questions.”
Nim jerked her arm free. They were so close, she could feel his warm breath against her skin. “About what?”
His nostrils flared as if scenting her. Still, Nim studied his tense jaw and the blood flushing his high cheekbones. The heat of his emotions made her feel utterly hollow. His hand closed around her wrist again, almost crushing her bones.
“There are too many people here,” he growled.
“There are enough people here for safety. Perhaps I don’t want to answer you.”
His eyes held hers a moment, dark fire against the ice of her spirit. That seemed to decide him, for he pulled her close and took a better grip on her arm. “Come with me.”
He didn’t reply, but steered her toward the door, moving so fast she skittered on her heels. She took the opportunity to pull against him, but this time he held her fast. “Don’t.”
The threat was real. Her fighting skills were nothing compared to a knight’s. Lancelot could crush or even kill her with a single blow. Still, that didn’t make her helpless, and she would not let him forget that fact. Rising up on her toes, she put her mouth a mere whisper from his ear. “You forget what I can do. My magic is nothing less than what it was when I was the first among the fae noblewomen. I can defend myself against your brute strength.”
Just not against what he’d done to her heart. She closed her eyes a moment, feeling his breath against her cheek and remembering the past for a long moment before she denied herself that luxury. “Let me go,” she repeated.
In response, he pulled her to the side of the building, refusing to stop until he was deep into the shadows. The ground was little more than cracked concrete there, tufts of grass straggling between the stones. He pushed her against the siding, her back pressed to the rough wood. “Not until I’ve had my say.”
He had both of her arms now, prisoning Nim with the hard, muscled wall of his chest. Anyone walking by might glimpse two lovers in a private tête-à-tête, but Nim drew back as far as she could, something close to anger rising to strike. No one handled her this way, especially not him.
“Then talk,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Aren’t you even surprised to see me?” he demanded.
“Why should I be?” She needed to squash any personal connection between them. Even if she was whole and their people were not at war, he had betrayed her.
He put a hand against her cheek, his fingers rough. She jerked her chin away, burning where his touch had grazed her.
But he was relentless. “I’m told you were caught by Merlin’s spell along with the rest. I know what the fae have become.”
Soulless. As good as dead inside. Lancelot didn’t say the words, but she heard them all the same. “It’s true,” she replied. “It’s all true.”
His expression was stricken as if hearing it from her lips was poison. Good, she thought. Better to be honest. Better that he believe her to be the monster she was.
“Maybe that’s true for some. I don’t believe that about you. You still have too much fire.”
With that, he claimed her mouth in an angry kiss. Nim caught her breath, stifling a cry of true surprise. The Lancelot she’d known had been gentle and eager to please. Nothing like this. And yet the clean taste of him was everything she remembered.
His mouth slanted, breaking past the barrier of her lips to plunder her mouth. The hunger in him was bruising, going far beyond the physical to pull at something deep in her belly. Desire, perhaps, or heartbreak. She wasn’t sure any longer, but she couldn’t stop herself from nipping at his lip, yearning to feel what she had lost. A sigh caught in her throat before she swallowed it down. Surely she was operating on reflex, the memory of kisses. Not desire she might feel now. The warmth and weight of him spoke to something older than true emotion. Even a reptile could feel comfort in the sun. Even she…
Still, that little encouragement was all the permission he needed to slide his hand up her hip to her waist and she could feel the pressure of his fingers. Lancelot was as strong as any fae male, strong enough certainly to overpower her. That had thrilled her once, a guilty admission she’d never dared to make. She’d been so wise, so scholarly, so magical, but an earthy male had found the liquid center of heat buried under all that logic and light. They had always sparked like that, flint against steel.
But then his hand found her breast and every muscle in her stiffened. This was too much. Memory was one thing, but she wasn’t the same now and she refused to have a physical encounter that was nothing more than a ghost of what it should be.
Nim pushed him away. “I don’t want this.”

Something in her look finally made him stop, but his eyes glittered with arousal. “Are you certain about that?”

About the Author:

Sharon Ashwood is a novelist, desk jockey and enthusiast for the weird and spooky. She has an English literature degree but works as a finance geek. Interests include growing her to-be-read pile and playing with the toy graveyard on her desk. As a vegetarian, she freely admits the whole vampire/werewolf lifestyle would never work out, so she writes her adventures instead.

Sharon is the winner of the RITA® Award for Paranormal Romance. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and is owned by the Demon Lord of Kitty Badness.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Release Day Blitz Remedy by Anna Abner

My 4 All-Time Fave Zombies

The stories of risen dead originated in the voodoo religion, but they definitely got more fun when Hollywood took over. From the first zombie monster in 1932’s White Zombie to the decomposing walkers on The Walking Dead, zombies have always been my favorite movie monsters.

#4: Kyle from American Horror Story: Coven (2013-2014)

Kyle and Zoe had an instant attraction, but when he was killed the same night they met, what was a witch to do except piece him back together and raise him from the dead? He had a bumpy readjustment period, but with time Kyle learned to be (mostly) human again.

#3: Sophia from The Walking Dead (Current)

Technically, all my favorite characters on the show are zombies since they have the zombie virus inside them. But of all the turned walkers poor Sophia broke my heart the worst. I really wanted her to be okay and when she re-appeared I cried for her, Carol, and all of them.

#2: Freddie from Return of the Living Dead (1985)

This movie gave me nightmares, and it will always be my favorite horror film. The wiggling dog corpse. The tar monster in the basement. The cemetery literally coming to life. Not only is this movie crazy scary, but I was emotionally invested in Freddie being the good guy who would get a happy ending. Nope. Zombie.

#1: R from Warm Bodies (2013)

If all zombies were as adorable as Nicholas Hoult’s R, horror movies would be very different. First, the book was an amazing story I could not put down, but then the film was even better.

These characters, and countless others, inspired me to write my own zombie YA adventure, Remedy.

A Red Plague Novella
Red Plague Series 4
Anna Abner

Genre: YA Dystopian

Publisher: Mild Red Books

Date of Publication:  July 26, 2016


Number of pages: 175
Word Count: 45,000

Book Description:

The red plague has devastated the human race, turning billions of people into zombies with red eyes and an insatiable hunger for human flesh.

Seventeen-year-old Callie Crawford is used to fighting. She was an all-star wrestler in high school, and since 212R destroyed her world, she hasn’t stopped fighting. When her high school boyfriend Levi caught the virus, Callie saved him by keeping him chained in a rural North Carolina barn, waiting for something to change.

Before 212R, Roman Duran was a computer nerd, but since the virus, he’s become a guard in the survivor enclave in Washington, DC. After volunteering for a rescue mission, Roman has been belittled, robbed, and left for dead. He hasn’t saved a single person.

Until he stumbles across Callie. Because she has a zombie on a short leash, and Roman is carrying a syringe full of zombie cure.

Callie and Roman will face soulless survivors and rabid zombies on their journey to save a single infected. Along the way, Callie will have to choose between her past and a whole new future.


Roman Duran ran a step behind Jared and saw the moment the other man faltered on his wounded leg, careening into a chain link fence. Without missing a step, he ducked under Jared’s arm and forced him forward. The pack of infecteds was only two or, at the most, three blocks behind.
“Here,” Pollard Datsik, the third member of their trio, hissed, slipping around a block wall and sprinting up a set of exterior stairs to an apartment above a liquor store. Roman dragged Jared behind him.
While Roman helped Jared to a sagging sofa, Pollard shut the door with a quiet click and peered through the window, his breath a puff in the silence.
“Are they following?” Roman whispered. “Are they swarming the stairs?”
Pollard stretched his neck to see further, and then soft-stepped to the next window and stared at the street below.
“I’m fine,” Jared murmured unnecessarily. “I tripped. It won’t happen again.” He shoved Roman away. “I just need a couple minutes.”
Roman didn’t buy it. The injury in question was a jagged slash above Jared’s knee he’d earned climbing a fence the night before. Though they’d stopped running long enough to wrap it, Jared wasn’t as energetic as he’d been before the wound.
Separating from Jared, Roman peered through a broken windowpane, blinking away the exhaustion that had dogged him for the past couple of days. Without enjoyment, he chewed one of their last handfuls of goldfish crackers, the food dry and pasty in his mouth. Water was about to become a serious issue.
“I’m so thirsty,” he complained in a whisper. “And dirty.” What he wouldn’t do for a clean, clear stream of fresh water.
Roman glanced at his companions, noting their equally stained and stinking uniforms. Maybe volunteering to leave Washington, DC had been a crappy decision all around. Maybe the veep should have sent older, more experienced survivors on her search and rescue mission. Maybe his eighteen years on the earth weren’t enough for this kind of mission.
A pack of infecteds had caught their scent in Raleigh and hadn’t let go. Forty-eight hours without sleep or rest. Two days of running, of hiding, of trying to lose the predators. And now, they were out of food and water.
“What if we climb on the roof?” Roman whispered. “We could wait them out.”
Pollard took the bag of crackers from him and crammed a handful into his mouth.
“We’re out of water,” Jared reminded them. “What if they trap us for days? No.” He shook his head at the room’s closed door. “We could end up a lot worse than we are now. I say we keep running.”
“Forever?” Pollard scoffed. “There has to be a point where we say we can’t continue like this. A point where we circle around the pack and head home.”
Roman wouldn’t call Washington, DC home. But then he’d never called anywhere home. An orphan kicked into the system after his mother abandoned him, none of the dozen foster and group homes he’d lived in had ever been his home. And DC was no different. It was a way station to somewhere else, no matter whether he had an apartment or a job or a purpose. It still wasn’t home.
Roman had yet to find his real home.
Swallowing dry crackers, Roman double-checked the number of rounds for his M-16. When they’d left the safety of DC’s walls, they each carried forty rounds for their personal firearms. It had sounded like a lot at the time, but he was down to nineteen rounds. The other two men had less.
For an entire day, Jared had fired warning shots at their pursuers—a mistake, Roman realized now—but the only result had been bringing even more infecteds into the pack, as nearby stragglers were attracted by the noise.
His ears perking up, Roman rushed to the far window and scanned for movement. Was he crazy, or did he hear a car engine?
Roman had left DC wanting to help people, both infecteds and survivors. After running into people, one worse than the last, his companions were nearly to the point of abandoning the mission. But Roman hadn’t given up. Even though they hadn’t helped a single person.
Between two rooftops, he caught a glimpse of a fast-moving white Range Rover driving in a westerly direction. A part of him wanted to catch up to the driver, but another part of him, a starving and sleep deprived part, wanted the vehicle to pass them by and disappear.
The sound of the Range Rover’s engine quieted as it drove out of sight.
“Let’s try the distraction method again,” Roman suggested. The last time they’d thrown empty cans near the zombies, they’d been curious enough for Roman and the other two men to escape. “It worked before.”
Their rescue mission to Myrtle Beach could still be salvaged once they shook this pack. Unhindered by the starving horde of infecteds, the three men could scavenge for food and water, sleep safely in shifts, and cover ground at an easy pace. This running for their lives, though, couldn’t go on forever. Without water and more substantial food than goldfish crackers, he wasn’t going to survive much longer.
“I’ll open fire,” Pollard said, as if Roman hadn’t spoken, “and you two run for the cell tower at the end of the street. I’ll meet you there.”
“Good plan,” Jared said, “except you’re a horrible shot. I’ll do the shooting, thanks.” He stood, trying to hide a wince of pain and failing.
Pollard clenched his jaw at the insult. “Fine.” He grabbed Roman by the sleeve and dragged him toward the door.
“You sure about this?” Roman asked, still thinking his idea would work better than wasting more bullets and hoping to find each other under a tower.
“Just run fast,” Pollard said.

About the Author:

Anna Abner lived in a haunted house for three years and grew up talking to imaginary friends. In her professional life, she has been a Realtor, a childcare provider, and a teacher. Now, she writes edge-of-your-seat paranormal romances and blogs from her home in sunny Southern California about ghosts and magic. You can connect with her online at

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