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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Ghostcrow Book Tour @PumpUpYourBook #blogtour #books #RomFantasy


About the Author:

Hooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she's not reading about other writer's worlds, she's creating her own. 

Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.

A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans. 

Her latest book is the supernatural fantasy novelette, The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor.

For More Information 
Visit M.K. Theodoratus website
Connect with M.K. on Facebook and Twitter
Find out more about M.K. at Goodreads
Visit M.K.’s blog

About the Book:

Title: The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor
Author: M.K. Theodoratus
Publisher: Smashwords
Pages: 55
Genre: Supernatural Fantasy
Format: Kindle/Nook

Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them. 

Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life. 

Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies. 

Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.
For More Information 
The Ghostcrow is available at Amazon
Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads
Read excerpt here. 

Book Excerpt:

The family car prowled the parking lot of the state park as Herfather searched for an open space. He muttered curses under his breath. Other kids called their male parent “dad” or “pop”, but Dumdie Swartz never could remember doing that. The words had never made any sense to her in reference to the cold man before her. He had been Herfather to her for since forever.

Dumdie clutched her arms tight to her body, holding back a scream when he drove through a group of ghostly soldiers standing at attention, wishing he could see the specters as plain as she did.

Please. Let the ghost guts stay on the outside of the car.

Ghosts turned her blood cold. She didn’t understand them, and she knew no one to ask about them. She was the only person she knew who saw the remains of people floating around or acting like wispy people, who sometimes could grab you if you weren’t careful. She gave up long ago trying to explain why she twitched and cringed when she saw cold misty people no one else could see. The others in Herfamily thought she was crazy or pretending or seeking unwarranted attention.

The sharp scent of pine needles, spicing the air of the state park, entered the open window, giving Dumdie a hint of normalcy. She clenched her fists in her lap and closed her eyes. She couldn’t remember ever being like the other kids at school or anywhere.

More ghosts appeared in the parking lot. Wide-eyed, Dumdie Swartz recoiled against the seat. She’d never seen so many ghosts at one time. Her panic rose like sour bile in her throat. Everything was changing. The specters were becoming sharper and harder to ignore.

“Hah!” 

The big family sedan darted forward, stopping just inches from the bumper of a car pulling out of a space. Herfather waited patiently as it maneuvered among the people walking towards the reenactment ceremonies. Dumdie huffed for air, waiting for more ghosts to appear in the empty spot. Luckily, this time everyone in the car ignored her in their excitement. Herfather followed the car closely so no other car could steal the space.

How can they like going to strange places?

Sue, her older sister and worst tormenter, pinched her arm. “Don’t you go all weird on us. I saw all sorts of kids I know from school here,” she whispered. “I don’t want them to see me with you drooling like an idiot.”

Pulling her arm away, Dumdie hunkered down as a ghost floated across the hood. The trip was supposed to be fun. Herfather said it would be fun. It wasn’t supposed to be a ghost convention. Dumdie could feel the terror rise in her throat, but knew her male parent wouldn’t help her. I should have stayed home, where I’m safe.

But that morning at breakfast, Hergrandma had coaxed her to join the family outing when Herfather had thrown his hands in the air as she refused to go on the outing. 

For once, Herfather’s muttering was clear. “Why can’t we do something like a normal family? Half the town’ll be there.”

“Please, child. Keep peace in the family,” Hergrandma had said.

Hermother, who loved to sew, added, “You might enjoy it. All the enactors’ll be wearing authentic period costumes.” 

Hergrandma reached across the kitchen table to pat her hand. “You like history. You’ve read two history books since I’ve been here.”

Dumdie had given in. Now she wished she hadn’t joined Herfamily. I’m going step through one of the cold, clammy things. My own innards’ll freeze. There’s way too many ghosts to avoid all of them, especially if I walk with my family. They always barge right through the ghosts. 

The doors of her car popped open as soon as the engine stopped. Sue and Lizzy, her nicer sister, bounded away. To prove her reasoning, Sue and Lizzy plowed through a group of three misty soldiers. Dumdie stopped at the side of the path.

“Dum – dieeeeee!”

Hermother’s shriek rose like an opera singer’s, but Dumdie’s feet refused to move. She wanted Dumdie act normal, like her sisters. Dumdie’s avoidance tics made Hermother nervous. She glanced at her parents as they whispered together and glanced at her.

Words drifted towards her. “Crazy”. “Can’t you control her?” “People are looking at us.” 

Dumdie wondered what their reactions would be if she didn’t move from the parking lot. If she just stayed in the car. 

I should’ve stayed home. Why wouldn’t Myfather let me stay home?

Her feet shuffled forward but came to a halt at the path to the fort’s grounds and stopped. Ghosts in hooped skirts and military uniforms crowded the path ahead of her. Dumdie’s toes wanted to dig into the ground like roots. Her breath came in sharp gasps. Hermother yanked her arm, but Dumdie didn’t move. More transparent people roamed around the entrance to the enactment. Ghosts infested the parade grounds, chatting in groups or standing alone staring at nothing Dumdie could see. 

“Dumdie, get a move on, for goodness sake,” grumbled Herfather. “We’ll miss the re-enactment of Fort Bonnet’s fall to the Tejanos.”

Hermother yanked harder on her arm as Herfather strode ahead of them without looking back. A pat on her shoulder from Hergrandma encouraged Dumdie to lumber forward. She closed her eyes to a slit and stared at the ground immediately at her feet, hoping none of the ghost guts would stick to her. 

Shrieks and proddings from Hermother had lost their power to scare her into action long ago. Ghosts were more terrifying than her parents ever could be, and Dumdie’s feet dug deeper into the ground. You never knew when a ghastly specter would reach out with its clammy hands and try to squeeze your heart, like the Stalkerghost back home. Her shoulders wriggled as the memory rose in her mind from where it hid. She shivered, remembering the last time its cold hand dug into her chest before she could escape.

Why are there so many misty people? Panic rose until she could taste it. There’ve never been this many of them before. They’re easier to avoid when there’s just one or two at one time.

Hermother’s pull and Hergrandma’s push prodded Dumdie into motion. Why am I the only one who sees things? Life was so much simpler before, when I was little. 

Dumdie had started seeing dim transparent people back when she was practically a baby, in kindergarten. Today they swarmed among the clumps of real people, back in the parking lot and along the path before her. Everywhere Dumdie looked ghosts milled, many going about their business in strange repetitive patterns that never made any sense. Dumdie wished she were three-years-old instead of thirteen so she could jam her thumb into her mouth.

Among the tall trees on either side of the gravel path and in the meadow ahead, the state park crawled with ghosts, parading as if they had come for the reenactment, too. Two groups of real people pushed around Dumdie’s family onto the path to the fort. They passed through the entities without a cringe or shiver. Dumdie had never really seen ghost guts attached to any one, not even herself, but new things were always happening.

Hermother grabbed Dumdie’s arm. “This is not the time to go all goofy, girl. I’m tired of your hysterics. Dumdie, why can’t you be normal for once? We’re in public. Please don’t be strange. Please?”

Clenching her teeth, Dumdie swallowed the saliva slithering down the back of her throat. My name is Dolores. You named me Dolores. Dumdie kept the protest to herself. She’d given up on her name long ago. Teachers might call her Dolores or Dorry, but the kids called her Dumdie.

An unintelligible grumble rolled in Hergrandma’s throat. Hermother’s fingernails dug into her arm. Dumdie’s eyes opened wider. Hermother was pulling her forward to where a group of ghosts stood, two soldiers flirting with a lady in a wide skirt. As Hermother yanked her forward, Dumdie closed her eyes, preparing for the sharp cold to pierce her. Her stomach churned. She swallowed, ready to run to a tree and scrape off ghosts’ guts if she passed through them. Before Hermother could shout at her, Hergrandma grabbed her arm.

“Oh, thank you,” she said. “I could use a little help on this loose gravel, Dumdie.”

Hergrandma limped besides her. When Dumdie’s muscle’s tensed Hergrandma moved in the direction Dumdie wanted to jump. “Come along, child. We’ll miss the enactment if you don’t hurry.” Her grip on Dumdie’s arm was warm and encouraging.

Wishing she could be normal like her sisters, Dumdie willed herself to ignore the ghosts. She closed her eyes. When she opened them, the haunts still milled about.

Dumdie looked at the semi-circle of faces focused on her, making her cringe. Hermother looked exasperated like always. Hergrandma’s face was filled with concern but still frowning. Herfather glanced from side to side to see if anyone was looking at them and their strange daughter. For once, her two older sisters were not in sight. They had run ahead to watch a squad of enactors march across the meadow to the sound of snare drums. The pageant had started. Dumdie dropped her gaze to stare at her toes. As usual a lace was untied, but Her mother gave her no time to tie it. Just jerked her forward.

Her mother’s sharp nails dug into Dumdie’s hand as she yanked both Hergrandma and Dumdie down the path. “Come along. This is not the time to dawdle.” The shoelace caught under her foot, and Dumdie stumbled.

Her father’s bass rumbled. “You’re getting too old to behave like a baby, girl. You’re going into high school this year.”

Closing her eyes, Dumdie did her best to walk normally. Behind her the soft voice of her sister Sue, who had circled around and appeared from the pines, began to chant, “Dum-di-dum-de-dum” over and over again to tease her. Dumdie pulled a hand free and balled it into a fist. She wished she dared smash Sue’s face in. Dumdie’d given up singing to herself long ago. She hunched her shoulders, wishing they could cover her ears. 

Shut up. Shut up.

But hitting Sue was stupid. When her sisters decided to tease her, she had to bear it. If she lashed out, her sisters would just find a sneakier way to make her look in the wrong. Herfather would take their side. Not hers.

“The rest of you go ahead,” said Hergrandma. “We will join you when we find you.”

Dumdie stumbled forward, the thumb of her free hand touching each finger in turn, counting her slow steps. One. Two. Three.

Hermother left Dumdie and Hergrandma to find their own way to the parade grounds.

Dumdie scrunched her eyes tighter. She refused to see the cold darkness when she passed through a ghost. She didn’t care if she stumbled over a rock or skinned her knee. The transparent people made the hair on her neck and arms twitch. Dumdie wished they would go away or that she could have stayed home, where wispy nasties didn’t prowl among real people.

Why do ghosts have to torment me? Ten. Eleven. Twelve…

“Come on, slow poke,” smirked Sue, her second oldest, more pudgy sister. “Lizzy’s saving us some of the extra chairs they’re putting out. The ushers let her because of Grandma being old.”

On the meadow parade grounds, the clumps of ghosts grew thicker. The adults pushed forward. Hermother let go of her hand just as she stepped through a misty soldier. Dumdie jumped back from the clammy air. She opened her eyes just wide enough so she could step around it and all the other specters walking on the path to the bleachers. Sue scowled at her as she and Hergrandma wobbled her way to the gate leading into the open-air theatre.

Sue stopped as Hermother and Herfather pressed forward ahead of them. “Oh look, there’s that geekie Brody who used to come over and work on that project last year. He’s with Kyle, my friend from the football team.”

Dumdie glanced up and thought Brody, who lived a few blocks away from Herfamily, looked like a midget next to the other, more massive guy.

“Kyle.” Sue waved as the two teens climbed the bleachers with their family. “Hey, Kyle.” 

The two boys ignored Sue like Dumdie wished she could.

“They ignored me.” Sue pinched her before Dumdie could jump out of the way. “If you weren’t so strange, Kyle wouldn’t have given me the cold shoulder.”

“Don’t be silly, Sue,” said Hergrandma. “The boys probably couldn’t hear you over all the noise.”

Lizzy stood and waved from seats near the bleachers. Dumdie let Hergrandma lean on her. She was comfortable to be around. Her hair was light-colored, though darker than Dumdie’s light brown shade, and she moved carefully, unlike the rest of Dumdie’s bouncy, black-haired family. Dumdie wished the rest of her family were as restful. Hergrandma never surprised her by acting in incomprehensible ways. Her family thought Dumdie strange, but most of the time she never understood why the others did the things they did.

I wish she visited more often. And stayed longer.

Attendants were adding rows of folding chairs on either side of the bleachers while people milled around them nervously waiting. Herfamily picked up speed to claim the seats. Sue pushed right through a wispy soldier in a cavalry uniform without slowing down. Dumdie helped Hergrandma sit down and scooted into the chair beside hers. 

“Fantastic, you got here before the play actually started.” Lizzy, her older sister, leaned over to pull on Hergrandma’s hand. “People were trying to get me to sit on the ground. I had to fight to save your seat.”

A brief interview with the author:

First, thank you so much for the interview. I always learn something from answering the question. (Thank you, and you are very welcome, M.K.)

Has writing been something you always did, or was it a discovered talent that came to you at a later point? 

My sixth grade teacher was the “enabler” of my addiction. She made the class to write a short story. Everyone wrote one to four pages. The idea of writing my own story was so enthralling that I wrote 25 pages, unfinished, and got a “C”.

Did finish a Nancy Drew pastiche, The Clue of the Clay Cats, by the next summer. Even sold a short story lifted from it to some kids’ religious magazine as a Halloween story. Think the typed manuscript still sits in my file cabinets somewhere. 

Do you remember how it felt when you were offered that first contract? What emotions stand out in your memory? 

Most of my available stories are self-published because I was building a writer’s platform for a small indie publisher who did offer me a contract for There Be Demons, a novel set in Andor based on a short story I sold to Spectra, a British ezine, though I hadn’t named my alternate world at the time. Unfortunately, the publisher folded. I’m left with a bunch of short stories and novelettes on Kindle, Nook, etc. But now I know so much more about Andor I have to rewrite Demons. 

I remember the rush felt sort of like Christmas when I was really small, but editing soon yanked me back into a writer’s reality—drafting’s nice, but you’re always going to spend more time revising. 

Is this a first book, part of a series, or the latest in a long line of many?

Don’t think I write connected series with integrated plotlines. Most of the manuscripts I’ve written in both of my alternative worlds are scattered episodes featuring the same main characters. My characters’ problems are the impetus for starting a story. 

The Ghostcrow is a prequel to another story, The Ghost in the Closet. I kept wondering what it was like to accept ghosts as part of your life. So, The Ghostcrow about Dumdie’s experiences as a teen just coming into her talent—or curse. My stories seem to jump between geezer lit and young adult. 

What is the oddest thing that’s happened to you since you chose to become a professional writer? Will it ever make it into a book, or is that a secret? 

First, I don’t think of myself as a professional writer. Didn’t think so even when I was regularly selling short non-fiction articles. 

What’s odd? Maybe you might think my characters pop full-blown out of my mind while petting my cat in the mornings odd. I think of it as free-association. 

Do you have your next book underway, or other titles in the planning stages? 

I’m currently working on another Andor story, On the Run, set in Andor after the Celestial Wars was won by Britt’s discovery in There Be Demons. It features a different main character. I’ve got some notes on a sequel, but Britt’s sort of disappeared from my mind wondering “what if?”. 

There’s a whole to-do list, including revising There Be Demons on my docket. But I think I’m going to return to my Far Isle Half-Elven worlds after On the Run. I have a couple beta-read stories in need of completion. They got put aside with my ill-fated contract. 

Do you have a favourite genre and why? Is it one you write in, read in, or both? 

I’m an eclectic reader, but most of my stuff qualifies as fantasy, mystery, historical or a mixture. Most of my reviews at my blog are fantasy or mystery. Since I don’t think myself qualified to give anyone advice on publishing, I write about what I learn from other authors. 

Guess my writing falls into the fantasy and historical genres. I would love to write mysteries, but none of my efforts jelled. To be honest, they stunk. 

What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process? Does it change from book to book or remain the same? 

The discovery process. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer. Once I have a character in my head, I write a brief outline, but my first draft is always a voyage into the unknown. Then, I have to go back and turn all those words into a coherent story with a beginning, middle and a climax. I’m a creature of habit, so the process doesn’t change much. 

If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why? What kind of book do you think would come from the collaboration? 

Don’t think anyone would want to collaborate with me. My fiction’s too disorganized. I remember my non-fiction being neat and tidy, seldom having to revise anything once I typed it. Just edited the mistakes and, maybe, added stronger verbs. I’d drive any sane person mad. Wouldn’t wish that on anyone. 

Where can readers find you on the web? 

The best place is my blog, Lessons from My Reading. After my reviews, I mention my writing efforts—or lack of them. If someone makes I comment, I usually respond unless the commenter is some kind of troll. I also have an author website where readers can find extended excerpts of my stories. 

As for social media: Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I visit all regularly, though not every day. Maybe I spend the most time on Pinterest when I want to amuse myself. I’ve got quite a bit of Gorey’s artwork in one of my folders. 

Media Contact: 

Dorothy Thompson
Pump Up Your Book
P.O. Box 643
Chincoteague Island, Virginia 23336


Monday, May 04, 2015

Communication is vital before things go viral... #RB4U #MFRWAuthor #RomFantasy @SenusousPromos

Once in awhile, you have to step up and make a statement. We, as authors, generally support each other and those who help make our jobs easier. One of the greatest assets any of us can find is a promotions company that is trust-worthy, reliable, and reasonably priced. I was lucky, a few years ago a wonderful lady named CJ Dennis started her promotions company, Sensuous Promos, and more recently The Book Pub. I think I was probably one of her first clients, and to this day, I retain her services and count on her company to help me with promotions. She takes on that burden so I can continue to write. Ideal for any writer, of course. So, I’m afraid it really DOES annoy me in a major way when a good person’s reputation is put up for shredding.

CJ’s integrity is as much a part of her company as any service she provides. She is honest, caring of her clients, and very good at the job she is hired to do. As the company has expanded over the past few years, she’s added a wide range of great services, and I’ve used pretty well all of them. Apparently, someone has decided that because they can’t read instructions, she has failed to provide the service she was paid for. I call bullshit. And, once again, I suggest if you want to be a writer, learn to READ. Instructions are clear, and if you don’t care enough to supply requested materials for your project, and accept the terms of service and the time line provided, then that is your issue, NOT the fault of the company you’ve wronged.

CJ contacted me today, upset about something brought to her attention, and frankly, I’m not going to name names, but I do hope the author who has apparently decided it’s the fault of her promo company not herself that she can’t read properly, decides to be an adult and makes a public apology for this mess. If any of you are looking for a company that you can rely on, Sensuous Promos or The Book Pub is the place to go. Just remember that a 7 day timeframe when presented to you means at least a week to wait for your service to be delivered. Screwing up someone else’s reputation and financial stability is not only unconscionable, it’s speaks directly to your lack of professionalism and your lack of character.

To those of you who are looking for a company that goes above and beyond for their clients, contact CJ and check out her services here: Sensuous Promos and The Book Pub

This is the note I received about this issue, reprinted here with permission from CJ Dennis:


VERY IMPORTANT TO ME. PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO READ: 

I don't normally make public statements of this nature, but as a business owner who does her best to make sure her clients are happy, I am tired of some clients being unreasonable with their expectations. There is an author who went on a very public rant this morning claiming that she was "ripped off" by a "promo company" to the tune of almost $100. And it has come to my attention that this author is also naming my company as the culprit. So, let me be clear on a few facts: 
1) This particular author paid me $35 for a video trailer. 
2) This was paid for on Apr 27, 2015 9:22 am
3) An email requested the applicable information was sent to the client on that same afternoon.
4) Our standard request for information states in bold letters "we need 7 days to prepare everything"
5) I explained to this particular author in private messaging before she even purchased the trailer that we are currently running closer to 2 weeks and to be aware of that if she needed a quicker turn around time. 
6) This author emailed me the requested information on April 28th at 7:55 pm (minus the music file as clearly requested) 
7) I contacted the author that same night to request the music file once again. 
8) On April 29th at 9:42am I received an email from this author stating the name of the music and telling me how many seconds into the song to begin the trailer, but no music file. Thus making it my responsibility to locate the music and perhaps pay for it which is against our very clear instructions. 
9) Regardless of this, later that day (April 29th) I located and paid for the music file in order to make the author happy and get the ball rolling. *This was out of pocket cost that was not part of our agreement. 
10) Over the May 2-3 weekend I began work on the book trailer as I wanted to show a draft of the project to the client by Tuesday (May 5th).
11) This morning at 8:12 am I received a complaint/dispute from PayPal because this author submitted a ticket to them claiming she "never received the item." I never received an email of concern from her asking where her trailer was. 
12) Because she disputed the item, PayPal automatically reversed the transaction (without giving me a chance to explain the facts of what actually happened) thus making my account (which is tied to my debit card) decrease in available balance and making one of my bills bounce. I paid all of my monthly bills over the weekend and was happy to just have a tiny bit left over after grocery shopping and everything else, but now I am in the negative with bank charges! 
13) Now I have done work for free, I have paid out of pocket for a music file, and I owe a $35 overdraft fee to my bank, not to mention the $20 my account is overdrawn. So, if anyone has been ripped off to the tune of almost $100 it is me! This author has her money back. I'm the one out of time and money!
14) The worst part is that she paid for her service on the evening of the 27th, the 7 days time frame which was in writing (in bold letters) wouldn't even hit deadline until tonight! And technically the 7 days doesn't begin until I receive ALL of the information from the client. Which was never even done either. I had to go find and purchase what she wanted.

So, in the end I would like to ask that anyone being fed the garbage that she was wronged by this "promo company" to consider the fact that I have a paper trail to back up what I'm saying and all she is doing is taking the money that I have EARNED and causing me more financial hardships by going about things in the unprofessional manner that she has. If she had changed her mind and/or wanted a refund perhaps she could have asked instead of draining my bank account! 


So, in conclusion, I think a rational exchange with the company would have been a damn sight more productive and less damaging to everyone had this author chosen not to blast off on her Facebook page over an issue that PayPal will ultimately see as her wrong, not the fault of the company she is defaming. Once again, I'd like to add that CJ Dennis is not only a fabulous promotions person, she is honest above all, and that says a great deal when so many people are quick to steal or defraud. And, as a final word, I'd like to reiterate my earlier point - learn to read and count - 7 days means a week, and when you're asked to supply what is needed, don't expect someone else to pay for your expenses then complain because they didn't deliver your work fast enough to suit you.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Ghostly chills... a bit of non-fiction from the past #RB4U #MFRWAuthor #RomFantasy


I've told this story to people in person when we get talking spooky stuff, but I've never actually committed it to the page, so I thought maybe a little ghostly tale might be fun. I'm going to write it like a mini-story, but rest assured this really DID happen to me. (The names of the people with me have been changed, obviously.)

The night was just starting to cool after the warmth of the Indian Summer day. The four people who'd been hanging out together were restless in the apartment, and one of the guys suggested they take a drive, just to get out. Maybe go for coffee or a drink. One member of the group was underage, so they settled on the coffeeshop.

The next hour was spent laughing and they decided on a walk in the local park. Fifteen minutes later, they were strolling the paths and trails. Officially the place was closed to visitors after 8 PM, but no one would stop them if they wanted to walk in the dark. It didn’t take long to find a nice secluded spot, and before long the conversation took on a challenging tone–the subject ghost stories and anything that might scare the girls. It didn’t take long. The rustling of the leaves in the sighing breeze, the sound of night birds and crickets chirping all added layers of awareness and heightened the ignited uneasiness the stories had awakened.

“Why don’t we leave, go for fresh coffee,” Jacqui suggested, glancing around when a twig snapped and something moved in the brush.

Kevin laughed and made a grab for her, eliciting a yelp of frightened surprise, before she got angry and slapped his arm, hard.

The other couple watched, then laughed when their friends started arguing.

“Come on, let’s head back to the car, we’re not supposed to be here anyway and security might find us,” the second girl said. Since it was her boyfriend’s car they were driving around in, there was no objection.

Half hour later with fresh coffee in hand, they were back on the highway.

“Where are we going?” Wayne tossed the question to the couple in the back seat as well as his girlfriend. When no answer was forthcoming, he headed out of town.

“Head to the Passage, I’m going to show you a really cool and creepy place out there.”

He looked at his girl. “How creepy?”

“Wait and see, this place is old and a friend took me out there for the first time years back, you’ll see,” she replied.

Following her directions, they were there in fifteen minutes. They parked and no one moved. The blackness was incredible and complete, despite still being in the city. Directly in front of the car was a huge slab of bone-white stone, rectangular in shape. Beyond it, an abandoned shack that had once been used by the power company. She told everyone to get out of the car, and when they did, they all shivered.

“Shit, it’s like the middle of Winter here!” Wayne complained.

“It’s always like this here,” she told him, staring at the open space around the lone building. The air was icy, and it crept under your skin within seconds. The stillness was even more unsettling. There should have been sounds of traffic, but there was nothing, only a silence that shouldn’t have sucked every bit of external noise into it.

Something moved near the little shack and Wayne grabbed her hand and told Jacqui and Kevin to get in the car. In less than a minute, he had the car in reverse and they were speeding away from the spot. No one said a word.

She stared out the window, and a sudden blast of cold kissed the back of her neck. She almost screamed when they sped past a tall figure on the side of the road. She had a split second of contact, and her stomach knotted. Eyes with no colour bored into her for a fraction of a second, and the impression burned into her brain. Over six feet tall, pristine white shirt, black pants, and cape like coat, stark silvery white hair that flowed over his shoulders... she turned and looked back as they passed him, and he smiled. She felt like a gush of Arctic wind blew through her entire body.

“Did you see him?” She shrieked in the silence of the car, and Wayne swerved, almost going off the road. Brakes squealed as he stopped the car and everyone looked back–no one saw a thing, but he was still standing there, watching her. And even with the distance, he was as clear as if he stood in front of her...

We drove to a church after that–for real. To this day, no one believes me, but it wasn’t a dream, I was wide awake and aware. That’s haunted me for years, and I never saw anyone who looked like that again. Mind you, just writing about it makes me shiver a little.


Images courtesy of MorgueFiles and Pixabay

Thursday, April 23, 2015

.@PumpUpYourBook Presents Stonehill Downs @sarahremywrites #booktour #RomFantasy

About the Author

In 1994 Sarah Remy earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

Her latest is the fantasy novel, Stonehill Downs.
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About the Book:

Title: Stonehill Downs
Author: Sarah Remy
Publisher: Harper Collins/Voyager
Pages: 400
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback/Kindle/Nook


Stonehill Downs follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective.  Magic and murder are his calling.  Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance.  The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

For More Information

Book Excerpt:
Dusk

Andrew struggled.
Mal held him down. The old man’s skin burned, and sweat turned his mottled flesh slick, but still he shuddered as if chilled. Where Mal’s long fingers encircled his wrists, bruises blossomed.
Perspiration dampened Mal’s own brow, running in rivulets along his nose and into the corners of his eyes, stinging. He didn’t move to wipe them away. All of his strength was focused on the man convulsing beneath his hands.
“Let him go, Mal.”
“No.” He refused to spare Siobahn a glance. He refused to acknowledge the disapproval he felt vibrating across the room.
“Malachi. You mustn’t keep him back. It’s too painful.”
“For him? Or for you?” He knew the words were unkind. He didn’t care.
The air moved as Siobahn shifted. The candles in the close room flickered, shedding plumes of smoke. Her breath stirred the hair on the back of his head.
Still, he wouldn’t look around.
The dying man twisted on silken bedclothes. His mouth gaped open, showing yellow teeth, and his eyes rolled in his skull.
Mal knew the old man was all but senseless, but he couldn’t help himself; he bent forward and peered into the wizened face.
“Andrew,” he whispered, willing the other man to hear.
“Mal.” Siobahn forced the issue, stepping away from the shadows and into his line of sight.
Her gown rustled. He could hear the soft pad of her slippers along the stone floor. She slid through the haze of incense, and set her palms flat on the edge of the bed, leaning across the mattress until he was forced to meet her gaze.
“Let him go,” she said again. This time she put just a touch of ice into the words.
Mal no longer took orders, not even from the young woman who had once been his wife. But she could still pierce him through with her deep blue eyes, and she knew it.
No matter how often he wished it otherwise, Siobahn never failed to move him. She knew that, also.
So he looked away from Andrew’s gaping mouth, and let her rake him with her gaze. She was angry, he saw, and disappointed. Maybe she was frightened, but she kept her smile sweet.
“You’re holding him back,” she warned. “Don’t make him struggle.”
“He might still be saved,” Mal argued, even though his heart knew better. Already the bitter tang of grief roughened the back of his throat.
Andrew was the last, and Mal didn’t want to be alone.
Siobahn lifted one hand from the mattress, and set it on Mal’s arm. His tendons quivered at her touch. Beneath his own fingers Andrew’s muscles convulsed in response. The ravaged body arched up off the bed, then snapped back onto the bedclothes.
Blooded scented the air; a trickle of the dark liquid stained Andrew’s chin. The old man had bitten through his tongue.
The violence of the struggle touched Mal at last. He flinched away from the bed, releasing frail bones. The moment his fingers left Andrew’s flesh, the old man convulsed again, as though plucked off the mattress by the hands of the gods. Mal heard bones in the tortured spine snap.
“He’s on his way,” Siobahn whispered, relieved.
Mal shuddered. The gods were never gentle with the ones they favored.
He bent over the bed, and took Andrew’s right hand in his own. There was no response. The old man was well and truly gone.
Mal stroked Andrew’s cooling palm with his thumb. Tears still scratched at the back of his throat. He forced them down, waited until he knew his eyes were dry, and then he reached over and wiped the blood from Andrew’s mouth with the edge of his sleeve.
The blood disappeared into the grain of the dark leather he wore. Mal studied the cuff, searching for a stain that didn’t show. Then he straightened his shoulders and set Andrew’s hand back onto the silks.
He turned from the canopied bed and stepped off the sleeping dais. The suite was gloomy, the air too thick. The smoke from the massive candles Andrew had so loved twined with the fumes of eastern incense.
Mal stumbled over the flagstones, intending to wrench open the windows. He wanted to breath in the night air, to clear away the headache lurking behind his eyes.
“Malachi,” Siobahn warned, just as his hand settled on the window latch. “Tradition. Renault would not be pleased …”
She broke off, sensing his silent fury.
She was correct. He almost lifted the latch anyway. If only he could get a taste of fresh air. He needed the breeze across his face to cool his growing rage. And Renault would never know.
He pulled his hand back from the latch and curled his fingers carefully behind his back. Standing alone in the hazy darkness, he could almost feel the chill of the night through the windowpane.
Glass was dearly bought. Only the king’s most beloved were lucky enough to have paned windows. Mal had glass in his own rooms, but not so much.
Andrew had been Renualt’s most beloved.
“And now he’s dead.” Mal forced himself to say it aloud. Briefly, he set his brow against one cool pane.
“You need to tell him,” Siobahn said from somewhere over his left shoulder. “You’ve already waited too long. Renault should have been here earlier. To order the windows covered and—”
This time he stopped her words with a snarl. He heard her teeth click as she bit back the rest of her lecture. He sighed. Again, she was correct. She almost always was.
“I’ll go to him now,” he allowed, turning away from his reflection in the glass.
Siobahn lingered over the bed, poised as though in mid grasp, her fingers still hovering over Andrew’s face. Mal followed the drift of her unnatural blue gaze to the glitter of yellow on the dead man’s thumb.
Now it was his turn to use the power of their connection, to twist her guilt into a weapon. He strode back across the room until he could pin her with his frown. She flinched beneath his stare. Her cheeks pinked soft rose in embarrassment or fear.
“I thought you had forgotten,” she said.
He loomed at her side, towering four full handspans above the crown of her head, and regarded the yellow stone in Andrew’s ring with distaste.
“And you hoped to remove it for me?” His laugh was bitter, his mouth hard.
“You know better.”
She stood in the soft gown she had worn on their wedding day and faced his fury with dignity.
He set his hands on her small shoulders and shook her once, gently, but with passion. Siobahn allowed his touch for a heartbeat. Then she slipped from under his grasp. Mal almost went after her, but something in her half smile stopped him.
He watched as she moved to stand before one of Andrew’s giant candelabras. The flames bowed, drawn by her very breath.
For an instant Mal heard as she did; the king’s heavy footsteps echoed between his ears, pounding with the headache behind his nose.
He swallowed hard, blinked the pain away, and lifted Andrew’s fingers.
The ring slid easily over a bony knuckle. The true gold was warm in Mal’s hand. The yellow jewel burst to life, sending a scattering of starbursts across dead man, bedclothes, and wall.
“The king!” she whispered, starbursts glittering in her hair. She let him hear again. Renault’s footfall almost punched holes in Mal’s tender skull.
He shoved Andrew’s ring into the small pouch he kept on his belt. Then he moved away from the canopy, standing where he could be seen from the massive wooden door Andrew never barred.
He could hear the march of booted feet in truth, now. It sounded as though Renault had gathered his entire guard.
“He knows,” Siobahn murmured from her place among the candles and smoke.
“How?”
“He slept,” she replied. “He dreamed, as Andrew died. I sent him a vision.”
Mal heard regret in her admission. No doubt she feared he would be angry.
He was too exhausted to fume any longer, weighed by grief. He looked over his shoulder, thinking to reassure, but at that moment the footsteps rolled to a stop in the corridor outside Andrew’s suite. The heavy door slammed open, rattling the antechamber.

A gust of cool air made the candles gutter and go out. Smoke wreathed the room. Mal’s eyes watered in response.
He blinked. When his vision cleared, Siobahn was gone, snuffed out along with Andrew’s pretty tapers.
Mal rubbed his throbbing brow. Then he set his shoulders, touched the pouch at his belt, and went to greet his king.

 Interview:

  1. Has writing been something you always did, or was it a discovered talent that came to you at a later point? 
I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. As a child I’d scribble all sorts of fantastical tales in journals and notebooks. Later, I got a BA in English Lit and Creative Writing. I knew from the beginning that no matter where I went in life, I’d always be writing.

  1. Do you remember how it felt when you were offered that first contract? What emotions stand out in your memory? 
My very first contract was with what was then a small press and what is now Edge/Tesseract. It was for a little dystopian scifi novel which happened also to be my college thesis. Years I still have a copy of the contract and am very proud of that first achievement.

  1. Is this a first book, part of a series, or the latest in a long line of many? 
Stonehill Downs is part of a series. The sequel, Across the Long Sea, is due out in June. The characters have several stories to tell, and I expect they’ll pop up again in the future.

  1. What is the oddest thing that’s happened to you since you chose to become a professional writer? Will it ever make it into a book, or is that a secret? 
Actually, being a professional writer is probably the least odd part of my life. I’ve had more adventures as an elementary school aid or traveling the country showing horses than I’ve managed as a writer. Writing’s a pretty solitary act. Although I always do feel awed (excuse the pun) when I glance across the podium in the middle of a reading and there are actual real people listening to my rendition.


  1. Do you have your next book underway, or other titles in the planning stages? 
At the moment most of my energies are going into my young adult urban fantasy series, The Manhattan Exiles. The series is a bit too close to my heart. I really wanted to write to about heroes and villains that are more like the young people I see everyday, a series that’s less about getting the boy (or girl) and more about shouldering responsibilities and finding grace in life. The Manhattan Exiles are a pretty diverse group and I love the for it.

  1. Do you have a favourite genre and why? Is it one you write in, read in, or both? 
Fantasy, definitely. Also scifi. Mystery. Romance. I read and write in all of them.

  1. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process? Does it change from book to book or remain the same? 
Finishing the novel, always finishing the novel. When I start a book there’s always excitement, but also a nagging sense of anxiety. Will I school myself into finishing it? Will I even make deadline? Can I find the right words to make the story come to life?

When you finally put the novel to bed, it’s a real relief. And then I’m no longer emotionally attached. It’s not a part of me anymore.

  1. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why? What kind of book do you think would come from the collaboration? 
Oh, gosh. I’d be a horrible co-author, partially because I’m a control freak and partially because I’d turn into a complete ‘yes man’. “Whatever you say, Ms Hobb.” “Flying cats and giant octopi? Of course, Mr Gaiman.” I don’t think I’d be a passable co-author, but I do know I’m an excellent editor. I love to polish other people’s words.

  1. Where can readers find you on the web? 
Please do come and find me at www.sarahremy.com or on Twitter as @sarahremywrites 


Kay Scarpetta meets Quentin Coldwater in Darkly Atmospheric, Forensic Fantasy Debut STONEHILL DOWNS by SARAH REMY.

Harper Voyager Impulse is dedicated to launching brilliant new voices in fiction, and we think we’ve found something truly special in debut author Sarah Remy’s groundbreaking novel of epic fantasy.  STONEHILL DOWNS is darkly atmospheric, filled with multifaceted characters and complex issues of morality.  “This book is layered with more shades of gray than the typical black-and-white gradients of epic fantasy.  STONEHILL DOWNS is perfect for readers who like Joe Abercrombie, or Peter V. Brett’s Demon Cycle,” says acquiring editor Kelly O’Connor, who discovered the manuscript in Voyager’s first open call for digital submissions.

This novel follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective.  Magic and murder are his calling.  Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance.  The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

About the book:

Malachi is the last of his kind—a magus who can communicate with the dead, and who relies on the help of spirits to keep his kingdom safe. When he's sent to investigate brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers dangerous sorceries and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home.

Avani is an outsider living on the Downs, one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands. She has innate magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she enters into a reluctant alliance with Malachi that takes her far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the suspicious death of his mentor and haunted by secrets from his past. And Avani discovers troubling truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Mal, but first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horror that has arisen.

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