Category Archives: Fantasy Focus

Stolen Magic

Gathered Magic Book Four in the Relic Guardians series is currently available on pre-order – release date of 15th November.

This is a short story that introduced Nathan Scott as a new character to the series. As Nathan Scott has a huge roll in Gathered Magic and not everyone would have had the opportunity to read his short story in the Glimpses anthology, I thought I would share it with you now.

*This is a stand alone story and you do not need to have read any of the other books in the series to enjoy it.

***

Stolen Magic

I’m a city guy, born and raised, but I’d seen more than my fair share of the world. My home was in the heart of Camden, a stone’s throw from the Regent’s Canal, surrounded by the hustle and bustle of London life. If my roots lay anywhere, it was there. Where the streets are lined with urban street art, and a punk mentality permeates the air, along with the appetising smells and constant cawing of traders in Camden market. A far cry from my current surroundings.

The wind screamed as a sand storm shrouded the sky and turned day into night. The once calm waters of the Nile rose in towering crests. Sand, wind, and an icy spray battered my fishing boat and tossed it around like flotsam.

My heart pounded and my skin felt stripped raw. I checked my bearings and steered the boat starboard. I had to be close, but the forbidding storm had consumed sky, land, and water with a sandy blizzard. The boat juddered to a halt and sent me tumbling to the deck. At last, I’d run aground.

A sensible man would have hunkered down, ridden out the storm, but no-one had ever called me sensible, and besides, I was one of the Magicai. Whether reckless behaviour came with magical powers, or it was just part of my innate nature, who was to say, but one thing was for sure, I had an advantage over most men in this cruel environment. Ordinaries, we called them, people with no magical power. Most of whom lived their lives unaware of the magic around them.

I clutched at the rune stone on a leather cord at my neck. It thrummed, acting like a conduit and drawing on the energy of the ley lines to infuse me with magic. The Eye of Horus, etched in the stone, flashed as I called upon its power to shield me from the worst of the elements and guide me through the storm.

I spat out the sand lodged in my mouth and launched myself into the onslaught. Protected by a magical shield, the sand no longer flayed my skin, and the incessant roar of wind was a murmur.

I trudged over the inhospitable terrain, following the pull of my rune stone. The power calling me intensified as I neared the convergence of ley lines: a potent beacon of energy in the distance. After a while, the sand blew away, the winds abated, and the storm cleared. I dropped my shield as the remains of an ancient city rose before me. The Nubian Pyramids of Meroë.

My path wound between the dunes and through the crypt-quiet city. Neither man nor beast moved around me, not even a scorpion scuttled along the sand. The only sign of the once raging storm was a deathly stillness to the air.

My throat was as dry as the desert. The sun beat down from a clear sky, stabbing me with spears of heat and covering the landscape in a haze that blurred my vision. I pulled a canteen from my backpack and savoured the water as it moistened my mouth and slid down my throat.

With my senses on high alert, I approached the final structure and stood in the doorway of the weather-worn pyramid. Something moved inside. A glimmer of light burned like liquid fire. I took a deep breath, ducked beneath an overhanging beam, and entered.

The heat followed me inside, where stale air clogged my lungs and hieroglyphics lined the walls. I wiped the sweat from my brow and slid between a narrow opening. A dark figure moved in front of me, silhouetted like a shadow in the gloom. It reached towards me, its hand outstretched, beckoning me forward.

I entered the chamber and a tall man with green eyes and a turban covering his head towered over me. “It is good to see you, Nathan,” Skylar said. “Although I must say, you took your time.”

“Give me a break.” I sat on a rock and took another swig from my canteen. “It’s not easy to travel over five thousand miles. Not to mention, having to navigate through a deadly sandstorm.”

In ancient times, the Egyptians believed the Nile was a supernatural source, a place from the netherworld that crossed the boundaries between worlds. In many ways they were right. Hidden at the points where ley lines converged, doorways to alternate realities existed. The Pyramids of Meroë, like many ancient landmarks, were built on such a convergence.

Every Magicai knew the source of their power, but not every Magicai knew the secret of the doorways. I was one of the Travellers, and like my father before me, I crossed between worlds, exploring different realities. I’d only just arrived back in London, after an otherworldly expedition, when Skylar had entered my world from his and sent a magical summons.

“The storm has passed,” Skylar said. “We must make haste.”

“Now, wait a minute.” I shook my canteen to release the last drop of water into my mouth. “What’s so important that you travel across realities and summon me to Sudan?”

Skylar heaved an exaggerated sigh, but he sat down beside me and handed me his canteen. “The Kushite Stone has been stolen from my world.”

I thought for a minute, relaying the history of the area through my head. “Nope,” I said. “Never heard of it.”

“It is a relic of my world, not yours. Created during the Great War, when Rome pushed forth and tried to conquer the known world.”

That was the big difference between Skylar’s world and my own. Firstly, the Great War referred to a war in a different time and place. Secondly, where Egypt succumbed to the Romans in my world, and the Nubian empire faded and disappeared along with their trade routes, in Skylar’s, the Romans were defeated and the Nubian empire flourished to his present day.

“What makes you think it’s here?” I asked.

Skylar flashed me the signet ring on his finger, a conduit for his magic as much as my runic stone is for mine. “I know it is,” he said. “Arin, a Magicai of great power, has travelled between worlds in the hope of finding the sister to the Kushite Stone. In doing so, he hopes to create a powerful artefact that can help him enslave both our realities.”

I winced. Magical artefacts should never be joined with their counterparts in other worlds. The results would be… well, I wouldn’t want to be around to find out. Suffice to say, big bad magic equals big bad danger.

“That’s not good,” I said.

“No, it is not.” Skylar stood. “So you understand the urgency. Arin has two days head start on us. His lack of knowledge of your world may hinder his process, but he must not succeed.”

~

With the arid wasteland of desert spread around us, our first course of action was to return to the Nile and see if my boat had survived. Hot, but determined, we salvaged what we could and headed South, the direction Skylar’s magic indicated Arin was headed.

Darkness surrounded us, grim and foreboding. The only glimmer of light came from the stars circling in the moonless sky. The boat rumbled and sliced through the water. Something sploshed in the distance: a great beast entering the river, but no form could be seen. I shivered and pulled my jacket around me.

“It is strange to see the world so peaceful.” Skylar indicated a small settlement to port, only visible as a flicker of firelight in the darkness. “Such places do not exist in my world. The Nile is surrounded by great cities, the water a mass of boats. Even if you have left one city, the lights from the next ignite the sky.”

I nodded my understanding. It could be disconcerting to visit a new world, so similar to your own, yet so different. Inwardly, I sighed, this part of the world was anything but peaceful. “We should see the lights of Khartoum soon.”

Skylar returned to his contemplation of a world alien to his own.

Time passed. The stars dimmed as an artificial glow spread overhead, and the capital city of Sudan appeared before us: a blaze of activity and life. Khartoum was three distinct cities divided by the Nile and connected by bridges. A delicious mix of old and new, with colonial buildings standing shoulder to shoulder with modern sustainable structures.

We docked the boat and slept through the night.

First thing in the morning, we made our way through to the central city of Khartoum itself. Despite the early hour, the streets teemed with people. The enticing aroma of hot food drew us to Green Yard, where we purchased a meal of porridge and kissra bread, and joined the locals sat on the grass.

The park was full of people, eating breakfast, talking with friends. Everywhere we looked, children laughed and played. The constant clamour of activity surrounded our bubble of solitude, unconnected to the people around us.

“Could Arin be in this city?” Skylar asked between mouthfuls.

“It’s possible.” I scanned the crowds and wondered how we would find one person hidden amongst Khartoum’s five million residents. “Are you able to sense the Kushite Stone?”

Skylar glanced around. Most people paid us little attention, so, he clasped his right hand over his left, covering his ring. Despite his precautions, a faint glow lit his hand when he tapped into his magic. He shook his head, released his power and returned to his porridge. “I do not believe Arin is here,” he said. “The Stone is now a great distance to the East.”

I was about to respond, but a tall man in a black full-length tunic glared at as he ducked into the crowd at the edge of the park. There was an air about him that put me on edge. “It’s time to move,” I said.

Weary of my sudden mood change, Skylar glanced around. “Trouble?” he asked.

“Could be.” I caught sight of the man again, talking to two others. I indicated them to Skylar. “Was Arin alone when he left your world?” I asked.

“I am sorry, Nathan, I do not recognise the men. However, it is possible they travelled with Arin. He has a large following of loyal Magicai.”

“They certainly seem to recognise you.” I reached out with my senses. The hum of magic hung in the air. I couldn’t pinpoint who it was from, but in all likelihood, any Magicai would be shielded from discovery. “We need to get away from all these people. We can’t risk exposing ourselves, and who knows how far Arin and his men are willing to go.”

A child kicked a football that landed at my feet. I smiled and kicked it back. “These are innocent people. We have a duty to protect them.”

“Agreed,” Skylar said. “If they are Arin’s men, they will surely follow us if we leave.”

We discarded the remains of our porridge and slipped through the crowds and out of the park. As soon as we reached the edge of the green, we raced to a nearby alleyway and down the street. We dodged through the byways of the city, desperate to escape the crowded areas. The unmistakable thud of footsteps echoed behind us.

Eventually, the narrow street we followed edged into a secluded courtyard. The ground was dusty, but the air was fragrant with herbs and spices, and the only way out was the way we came in, and up over the roof.

We hid in a cleft between two buildings. A cry echoed through the alleyway. I peered around the corner and saw the three men coming after us. Their eyes scanned the area looking for our possible route.

I clutched at the rune stone around my neck. “You ready?” I asked Skylar.

His face was grim, but he nodded. It was three against two, and we had no idea how powerful they were, but we were determined to make a stand.

We stepped into the alleyway and confronted the three men. “You looking for us?” I asked.

Their eyes widened, but they surged forward, calling their magic to them. One hurled a hot spear of energy in my direction. I fell flat, rolling unscathed beneath a blast that impacted the wall behind me with enough force to shatter the brick.

Coming to my feet, I lifted my chin and raised my jaw. “That the best you got?” I called on my power and coated my fists in magical orbs. One of the men came at me, and I pounded him in the stomach. The force of my blow flung him across the alleyway and into a wall. He crumpled to the ground.

The other two men wouldn’t make the same mistake. They edged backwards, unwilling to undertake hand to hand combat.

I beckoned them forward. “What’s the matter boys; you too scared to fight?”

The nearest to me glared and spat on the floor. “Hand over the High Priest of Magicai,” he said, referring to Skylar by title and confirming his connection to both Arin and Skylar’s world. “Or we will see who has reason to be afraid.”

“That’s not about to happen, fellas. So, why don’t you save us some time and tell us where Arin is, so we can send you all back home where you belong.”

His nostrils flared and he shot another bolt of energy in my direction. I met it mid-air with a bolt of my own, blasting it out of existence.

Full of the power of the ley lines, I felt the magic swirl beneath my fingertips. I lifted the dust around us, cloaking us in our own mini sandstorm. The men continued their barrage of energy bolts, but those I didn’t manage to deflect, Skylar handled.

The dust circled around us. The power inside me grew, ready to be unleashed to put an end to this.

“Tell me where Arin is.” My voice echoed in the hollow eye of the storm. All sounds, all smells, and all sites of the city around us were blocked out by the whirlwind of motion. Slowly the feet of our two foes rose from the ground, as they were caught in the vortex.

“Arin is long gone. You will never find him.”

“We’ll see about that.” I focused my power on making the whirlwind faster, the men started to spin around me. Their cries filled my ears.

Skylar laid his hand on my shoulder. “I know you are honourable my friend, but I worry that we cannot leave these men behind to follow us.”

I understood what Skylar was saying, but had no intention of killing anyone unless I had to. I slowed the whirlwind and allowed the men to drop to the floor, then walked over and laid a hand on each of the three men’s heads, focusing my will upon their weakened own.

“There, they’ll sleep for a week. With any luck, the local hospital will take them in.” I shrugged. “Or they’ll lie here undiscovered in the street. Either way, they’ll be fine until I can arrange for someone to collect them.”

“Would it not be useful to interrogate them, find where Arin has gone?”

“No.” I shook my head. “We’ve been looking at this all wrong. We’ve been focused on finding Arin. What we need to do is find his destination. Reach the stone before him and lay a trap.”

“That would be a fine plan, but as you said, the Kushite Stone is not a relic of your world. It will be unknown and impossible to find without its counterpart.”

“Hard, yes. Impossible, no.” I patted Skylar on the shoulder and a wide smile split my face.

“Ahh, I see you have a plan, my friend.”

“Indeed, I do, but first I need to know more about the stone.”

One simple act, a decision made at a certain point in history, caused a timeline split, separating our worlds and sending them forward on different paths. In Skylar’s world the Kushite Stone was imbued with great importance and power. In mine, it might not have the same name or magical properties, but, it would possess the same origins and the same form. Those were clues enough to find it; if you knew the right person to ask.

~

“Nathan,” Hayley said down the line. “How the hell are you? It’s been months.”

It was good to hear her voice. I met Hayley seven years ago when we were both students at Cambridge. She was an archaeology undergraduate, whilst I undertook my PhD.

“Too long,” I said. “I’ve been in Africa. In fact, I’m in Sudan now, but I need your help locating something.” I hated the half-truth that came out of my mouth, but Hayley wasn’t one of the Magicai, just an exceptional Ordinary with a passion for the past. Despite my wishes to the contrary, with the Magical Order of Secrecy, I was oath bound to keep my true nature from her.

“Anything,” she said, without hesitation. “What do you need?”

I sighed with relief. I knew I could count on Hayley. I gave her a description of the stone. It was small and square, made from carnelian, and was inscribed in Arabic. In Skylar’s world, it was found in twenty-two BCE, but it could have been located much later on ours, so instead of specifying an age, I asked Hayley to look for any object fitting that description found at or near Meroë.

“I’ll do what I can,” she said.

With Hayley’s determination and resources at the British Archaeological Museum, I had no doubt she’d find what we needed.

“Thanks, Hayley. You’re a star. I owe you big time.”

“Yeah, you do. An ice-cream at Chin-Chin sounds great.”

“I’ll do better th—”

“Better than ice-cream?”

I laughed. “How about a night out at Côte,” I said remembering her favourite restaurant.

“Well, yes,” she said, unable to hide the delight in her voice. “That might top ice-cream.”

“You bet it does.” I ended the call feeling better than I had in months. It was great to travel and see different worlds, but there were some things from home that couldn’t be matched.

~

Ten hours later, we set foot on English soil and headed straight to Bloomsbury in Camden. As fate would have it, Hayley had located a carnelian stone fitting our description in The British Museum, not three miles from my home. Although it was dated to the eighteenth century and found in Zanzibar, the website link she shared pictured an orange, glassy stone, one-point-one centimetres square, which Skylar confirmed as the artefact we sought.

From Hayley’s research, we knew the stone wasn’t on display, so that meant it had to be in storage. I searched the website on my phone for more information and found an interactive map of a newly built centre. The map detailed a variety of locations, from an exhibition gallery to conservation facilities, but our target was likely in the collection storage rooms. Three subterranean-floors beneath the collections’ management hub.

A cab dropped us outside Malet Street Gardens, and we used the cover of the trees to survey the building. The modern centre stood next to the Greek revival quadrangle dating back to the eighteen hundreds. With no visible entrance, we would have to go through the old building.

“What about security?” Skylar asked.

“No clue, but we can be sure it’s top of the range.” I checked the time: six twenty-three. The museum closed at six, but that didn’t mean staff wouldn’t still be working. “We’ll have to use magic to get past any obstacles,” I said.

I used the ley lines to draw magic into myself, relishing the feeling as it flowed through my veins. “Ready?” I asked, and created a shield to block our image from any CCTV recording.

“Ready,” Skylar agreed.

We left the park and made our way to the north wing of the building. I held my rune stone and called forth a simple spell to unlock the cast iron gates and an employee entrance. We strolled through the hall, as though we belonged, until we reached the Great Court. Skylar froze. His eyes moved from the cylindrical room in the centre of the court and travelled to the spectacular glass canopy, crisscrossed with steel to form thousands of triangular windows looking out onto a bright summer sky.

His breath caught. I laughed and gave him a nudge. “Careful, you’re starting to look like a tourist.”

I scanned the room. A recumbent marble statue of a lion, over six-feet tall and almost ten wide, stood vigil in the corner. I took his sage look of benevolence as approval for our minor transgression.

“This way,” I said, noting an exit in the corner. “Hopefully, this will lead to the new structure.”

Through it, we accessed the new building and a staircase leading down. We moved from public spaces to equally deserted staff areas. Gaining access to the storage floors proved simple with our magical abilities. A white sterile environment, with aisle upon aisle of yellow storage units replaced the high ceiling and the chemical smell of antiseptic and subcritical fluids permeated the air.

We stood for a moment, thinking. There were three floors worth of items in storage, and time was critical, at any moment, we could trigger an alarm or stumble into a member of staff.

“We need to access a computer,” I said, “Find the storage location of the stone.”

“Agreed. There are far too many places to search in a limited time.”

Skylar remembered the online map displaying a work area in the middle of the top floor of the three floors we need to explore. It was the best place to look for a computer, so we edged through the corridors of storage and made our way to it. Sure enough, a number of computer terminals lined one wall.

I rummaged through desk drawers and located a random word on a post-it note stuck inside a notepad. I shook my head in bewilderment. It couldn’t be that simple, could it? I typed the password in to see if it matched the username displayed when I booted up the computer. I held my breath, as, the Blue Circle of Death span on the screen and the PC thought. Sure enough, seconds later, I had full access to the museum’s records.

I shook my head in disbelief. “Thank you, Mr Landman,” I said to the absent museum worker whose login details I’d used. The greatest security protocols in the world were useless if users didn’t implement basic common sense when choosing or hiding passwords.

“Two floors down,” I said, reading the details from the screen. “Corridor C, unit 28.” I scribbled the complex item reference number on a scrap of paper.

I powered the PC down and we headed towards the artefact. We were halfway down the stairs when we heard a door shut above us. We froze. The unmistakable buzz of magic danced through the air. A sudden chill in my bones warned me of the danger approaching.

“Arin?” Skylar queried.

“Move.” We raced down the floors without sound or hesitation. The silence of the stairwell was broken by the soft tread of footfalls above us. We had to find the stone.

I hissed, as once again, the lights in the room responded to our presence and lit the floor like a flare in an otherwise dark night. “Corridor C.” I pushed Skylar into the recess and we frantically scanned the cabinet labels. “Twenty-one… twenty-five…”

“Twenty-eight,” Skylar said. He tore open the drawer and withdrew a box. He opened it and sighed with relief.

I took the box from him, and held the stone aloft, marvelling at the light reflecting through its translucent core. A faint trace of magic seeped into my fingers, too little to warrant the attention of the Magicai.

“Here,” I said, tossing it to Skylar. “You hide. I’ll draw Arin and whoever’s with him away. Then you get the hell out of here.”

Skylar nodded and patted me on the shoulder. “Stay safe,” he said.

I returned the gesture. “You too, my friend.”

I moved out of the corridor, into the main hallway, and away from the staircase. It seemed like an age passed before the stairwell door opened and three men stepped through.

I stood on full display and eyed the men. Desperation chewed at my insides, but I couldn’t let it show. The two outside men glanced at the man stood between them as though waiting for instructions.

“So, you’re Arin,” I said, raising my chin at the middle man.

“And you, of course, are Nathan Scott,” he said. “I have studied your exploits as a Traveller. It seems our reputations precede us both.”

“Not really.” I took a few steps to the side in an attempt to keep their focus on me. “I don’t know the first thing about you, mate. Just that you’re an arse who wants this here stone.” I lifted the empty box and waved it at Arin.

“You will soon know that I am a very dangerous man to cross.” He smiled “Why don’t you save yourself a lot of trouble and hand it over?”

“Why don’t you come and get it?” Magic soared through my body, and I released a surge power at the lights overhead. We plunged into darkness, and I slipped further away from the stairwell.

“I’m sure you think yourself very clever, Mr Scott, but I’m afraid your tricks won’t work with me.”

Damn it! I hoped Skylar had enough sense to stay hidden where he was until Arin could be goaded into action. “What’s the matter?” I said. “Afraid to try and take the stone from me?”

I peered around the corner, but darkness enveloped our underground surroundings.

“I have no need to take the stone.” An inferno of light accompanied his words and the air reverberated with immense power. The magical plane shook. It felt like existence was being torn apart. I was shaking. My heart thundered, ready to explode.

The light vanished.

“The Kushite Stone,” Arin said. “It calls to its sister. I’m sure you agree, the results would be devastating should they meet.”

“Another reason not to give you the stone.”

Arin laughed again. The sound made me want to punch him in the face.

“You have no fight with me. Give me the stone and I will spare your world. Fight and you will die, and I will see to it your precious London is destroyed in the process. All I have to do is open the lead box shielding the Kushite Stone from its sister, within minutes your city will perish.”

I heard the truth of the words in his voice. Arin was a mad man. Who knew what he would do with the power of the two stone: raze cities, destroy worlds, anything was possible.

A thud sounded in the dark, followed by the rumble of a scuffle. My heart sank, at Skylar’s frantic voice, as he fought his attackers.

I reignited the fluorescent lights with a blast of energy. Without hesitation, a second blast of power shot from my hand and towards Arin, alone by the door.

He deflected the shot, and rushed into an aisle away from sight, but not before he retaliated. I grunted as his blast seared my arm: a burning flesh wound, more painful than damaging.

I fell against the wall and took a few breaths to steady myself. There was no time to waste. Arin couldn’t get the stone. I raced down the corridor after him. The whole room crackled with magical energy like the sky before a lightning strike.

I rounded a final corner and came to a halt. Skylar was pinned against the wall by a magical field. The stone clutched in his hand.

“You’re too late,” Arin said. “The stone is mine.”

Sweat beaded Skylar’s brow as he fought to keep his fist closed around the stone, but an unseen force pried at his fingers, tearing them apart.

I raised my hands and called my power. Arin’s two goons approached me, their own magic blazing in their hands. There was no way in hell I would let them win.

I advanced, adrenaline coursed through my veins and my heart thundered. I hurled volley after volley of power at my attackers. They tried to escape, but my onslaught was too fast, too furious. I hurled them against the walls, pinning them, as Arin had pinned Skylar.

Arin had a split second to react before I unleashed the full force of my magic against him. The blast struck home. He fought against me, but I couldn’t let him go. If I released my focus either he or his goons would escape and it would be game over.

I drew more power into me, feeding off the ley lines the way a plant absorbs light. My head pounded, and my legs faltered, but I kept my magic trained on Arin.

I couldn’t hold out much longer.

The magic engulfed me, threatened to tear me apart.

I gritted my teeth and pushed forward with everything I had.

I struck home.

Arin’s screams were silenced by the thunder of magic and the quickness of his demise. He disappeared in a cloud of dust, disintegrated in an instant.

Skylar fell to the floor as Arin’s magic disappeared along with his body. “Thank you,” he spluttered.

“Anytime,” I clapped him on the shoulder. “Your megalomaniac is my megalomaniac.”

I meant it too, as a Magicai and a Traveller, I had a duty to protect all worlds from those who would abuse the power of the ley lines, home-grown or otherwise. Although, for now, that duty could wait until after I met a dear friend for dinner.

***

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MEET THE
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BRANDY DORSCH

Brandy Dorsch lives in Pittsburgh and dreams of running away and becoming a vampire. She is a diehard reader that can’t breathe without adding something to her TBR list. She loves anything romance but has a special place in her heart for all things vampire related. She has a slight addiction (obsession) with coffee and it is the only thing keeping her from becoming a member of the undead.

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CATHERINE VALE

NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling Canadian author Catherine Vale writes urban fantasy stories of magic and mayhem, and paranormal romance featuring girls with curves and guys with growl.

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GINA WYNN

From a magical land of castles and kings (Okay, it’s England), Gina Wynn doesn’t feel as old as she looks, owns three children who can’t be tamed, and writes in spare – usually stolen – time. She sometimes bakes—not always with quite the desired results, and has found the only solution to keeping the characters in her head quiet is to placate them with lots of other lovely books and worlds.

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HEATHER HILDENBRAND

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. (She’s only slightly socially awkward as a result.) She lives in FL and writes romance of all kinds with plenty of abs and angst.

Her most frequent hobbies are riding motorcycles and avoiding killer slugs.

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JENA GREGOIRE

Bestselling author Jena Gregoire was born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, and despite her abhorrence for any season which dares to drop to a temperature below seventy degrees, she still currently resides there with her two children and several furbabies. Always a passionate reader, her love of urban fantasy books inevitably morphed into a love of writing them. She is currently working on the Hellfire (previously known as Demon Legacy) series and has a Hellfire spinoff series coming soon. Jena Gregoire previously published as J.M. Gregoire.

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KAT PARRISH

Kat Parrish is a former reporter who prefers making things up! An Army brat, her motto is “Have passport, will travel.” She has lived in seven states and two foreign countries and would love to celebrate her 100th birthday with a trip into space. She lives in the Pacific Northwest near a haunted cemetery.

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LIZ GAVIN

International bestselling author Liz Gavin’s books have made to #1 in countries as diverse as Japan, the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and her home country Brazil, collecting 5 and 4-star reviews. Nominated for a Summer Indie Book Award in 2016, and again in 2017, this RWA member constantly seeks new opportunities to improve her craft.

This thirst for knowledge propelled Liz to leave the comforts of family and friends in Brazil and move to California to pursue a Master’s degree in late 2015. She lives in sunny SoCal, where she’s researching the writing process, for her thesis, in hopes to figure out why she creates in English instead of her native Portuguese.

Liz Gavin writes in contemporary, paranormal, and historical genres. In her sexy stories, one finds smart, independent women, who don’t need rescuing by knights in shining armor, but indulge in steamy action with swoony Alpha males with big hearts. She also writes about women discovering their sexuality and finding happiness in unconventional setups.

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MADELINE SHEEHAN

USA Today bestseller, Madeline Sheehan, is the author of the Holy Trinity series, and the Undeniable series.

Other works include the dystopian series ‘Thicker Than Blood’, Thicker Than Blood and Beneath Blood and Bone, and a contemporary romance novel, Shut Up and Kiss Me.

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NICOLE ZOLTACK

Nicole Zoltack is a USA Today bestselling author who loves to write romances, whether they’re fantasy, paranormal, or regency. She’s also an editor for MuseItUp Publishing and works as a freelance editor and ghostwriter.

When she’s not writing about gentlemen and their ladies, knights, superheroes, or witches, she loves to spend time with her loving husband, three energetic young boys, and precious baby girl. She enjoys riding horses (pretending they’re unicorns, of course!) and going to the PA Renaissance Faire, dressed in garb. She’ll also read anything she can get her hands on. Her current favorite TV shows are The Walking Dead and Gotham.

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VICTORIA DELUIS

Victoria DeLuis is an avid fantasy reader, who enjoys writing Urban Fantasy and paranormal/cosy mysteries.

She lives in Wales with her husband, daughter, three cats and one dog.

Amongst other writings, Victoria is currently working on The Rune Witch Mysteries and The Relic Guardians Series.

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Fantasy Focus: The Tainted Crown by Meg Cowley

Today the spotlight is on Meg Cowley and The Books of Caledan:

The Tainted Crown: The First Book of Caledan

What is the price of kingship?

The kingdom of Caledan is thrown into turmoil by the queen’s murder. Her heir, Soren, flees with a price on his head after being framed for the killing by his uncle Zaki, who seizes the legendary throne of the Dragon Kings and rules with an iron fist to crush dissent. However, suspicion is rife following Zaki’s ill-omened coronation and a crime ill-fitting the beloved Prince Soren.

Now a fugitive roaming the wild, Soren has lost everything. He tries to reconcile his grief and determine how he can reclaim his throne when fate has left him with just one old man, but the odds are greatly against him. If no-one follows him, or believes his innocence, is he worthy to rule?

Across the kingdom, Soren’s cousin Eve takes matters into her own hands and journeys to the ethereal Eldarkind on his behalf, however this reveals her own inescapable fate. As she comes to terms with the gift and the curse of magic, Eve risks her life to help Soren.
Before the fragile peace shatters, can Soren reclaim the throne – and should he?

***

The Brooding Crown: The Second Book of Caledan

What is the line between good and evil?

Soren has defeated his usurping uncle and the semblance of peace has returned to Caledan, but surrounded by the twelve noble houses of Caledan, King Soren can trust few. In the shadows, treasonous thoughts grow. When news of Zaki’s presence in Roher reaches Soren, can he ally all of Caledan to his cause – and keep them?

Zaki has not given up on his plans to regain Caledan’s throne. First he must prove himself to Harad, the mighty king of Roher, but Zaki will stop at nothing to gain the support of Roher’s army, march on Caledan’s borders and take back the throne of the dragon kings.

War returns to Caledan, but a greater threat looms. The pact is broken. The Eldarkind are fading. The dragons war amongst themselves. A power too terrible to name grows in the North, and He seeks revenge. Only Eve stands in His way – but can she stop magic as old as time?

Return to Caledan for the fast paced sequel of The Tainted Crown, that fans of The Lord of the Rings, Inheritance Cycle and Books of Pellinor will love.

***

The Tainted Crown is available on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK

The Brooding Crown is available for pre-order on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK

But you can get a taste for the series by downloading a FREE copy of the Caledan Novelete, The First Crown, on Instafreebie.

***

If you’d like to learn more about Meg and her books, check out her WEBSITE.

You can also connect with Meg on FACEBOOK and TWITTER 

Happy Reading 🙂

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Fantasy Focus: Her Dangerous Visions by Brandon Barr

Today, I’d like to tell you about the first book in the Song of the Worlds Saga by Brandon Barr:

Her Dangerous Visions

A fast-paced fantasy epic that stretches beyond the stars. Two women, two worlds, one epic destiny…

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On the world of Hearth, Nightmares crawl out of the East to devour entire villages. A fire-blooded heiress named Meluscia seeks to destroy the threat plaguing her lands and become Luminess of the Blue Mountain Realm. Though she desires the throne, her heart is divided. Forbidden intimacy tempts her at every corner. With life in a state of chaos, she soon realizes that the hard choices before her will determine the fate of her world. Can she save her kingdom, or will all of Hearth be brought to its knees at the feet of a primordial Beast?

On the world of Loam, an ancient evil threatens to conquer the portals that exist on every world, and only a young farm woman named Winter is given the power to destroy it. Gifted as a Seer by the gods and tasked with a deadly mission beyond her world, Winter must first escape the cruel farmland she was raised on, even if it could spell death for those she loves.

Heart-pounding action, with rich, unforgettable characters—Song of the Worlds is the dramatic new fantasy saga for fans of Anne McCaffrey and Brandon Sanderson. Begin the powerful new series today!

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Her Dangerous Visions is available on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK

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But you can get a taste for the series by downloading a FREE copy of the Prequel, Ella Dethroned, on Instafreebie.

 Here’s a short teaser:

Ella, the former ruler of the Blue Mountain Realm, must evade her pursuers and fulfil a mission given her by the gods.

But the relentless enemies at her back are not the only threat. An evil from beyond her world stalks her, for she carries a strange, otherworldly device, the purpose of which she does not know.

Her only aid is her sharp intelligence . . . that, and a devoted soldier named Rathan, who has sworn to protect her.

***

All the books in the Series are available through Brandon’s author page.

 Song of the Worlds Saga
Book 1 – Her Dangerous Visions
Book 2 – The Bridge Beyond Her World
Book 3 – Her Father’s Fugitive Throne

And the FREE Prequel – Ella Dethroned 

If you’d like to learn more about Brandon and his books, check out his WEBSITE and YOUTUBE CHANNEL

You can also connect with Brandon on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.

Happy Reading 🙂

 

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Fantasy Focus: Sherlock Holmes: Trail of Darkness by John Pirillo

John Pirillo and his book Trail of Darkness is today’s fantasy focus. But before we learn about the book, lets learn a little bit about John first.

What inspired you to become an author?

I would have to say what inspired me was my parents. They used to read to me on their laps and they instilled a great joy in words which has never left me.

As I grew up I read pretty much every book I could get my hands on. It didn’t matter if it was science fiction, fantasy, mystery, biographies, anything!

I used to spend every moment I could reading, absorbing all those wonderful stories and ideas. Finally, when the Russians shot Sputnik into orbit, I wrote my first science fiction story. My first story ever.

I didn’t have a wonderful experience as a writer in High School, however, my English teacher was very jealous of my writing skills at the time and flunked me over and over, no matter how hard I worked on my writing. Just me!

Years later in college I met a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Molly Irwin, who encouraged me to write. I wrote poetry and plays at the time. She told me, “Write from you heart and don’t edit it. Write what you feel!”

I never thought I’d make a career of writing so even though I continued to write for years after that, it wasn’t until the last few years that I realized I was putting off something that was dear to my heart.

It’s like falling in love with someone and then pushing them away because you don’t think you’re worthy enough to be with them. (I’ve done that too unfortunately.)

So since that ignition point I’ve turned my attention to writing every free moment I have.

I hope that gives you some idea of why I became an author, though I suspect it would take hundreds of pages and experiences to understand it in depth. 🙂

What was the worst day in your writing career?

A very good friend of mine in college named Mel was a fantastic writer. He ran a splendid little theater in Folsom, California and he read my one act play, “Shelter.”

He loved it.

It was very unique for its time and would have been groundbreaking if produced as he had intended to do.

It never got done. He passed away in the process of doing it with me.

I never tried to go further with it. And it hurt my heart a long time to lose that good man and his deep care and friendship.

What was the best day in your writing career?

When I began writing again, feeling that glow of love that suffuses your body and emotions when you do something you care deeply about.

***

Trail of Darkness brighterTrail of Darkness (Peril of the Dark Master Book 1)

A high court official is struck down in the Queen’s office. A Midnight Angel is found horribly mutilated.

Holmes and Watson are asked by the Queen to investigate the series of horrible crimes which just might be rituals of dark magic that are part of a much larger scheme against the government.

 ***

Trail of Darkness is FREE today on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK

John’s WEBSITE is currently blogging a Sherlock Holmes novel with guests Alexander Dumas and Jules Verne in the current adventure story: Case of the Ancient Artifact.

 ***

 

If you’d like to learn more about John, check out his WEBSITE and his other BOOKS.

 

 

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Fantasy Focus: A Glimmer of Destiny by Spencer Pierson

Today, the spotlight is on Spencer Pierson and his book, A Glimmer of Destiny.

Take it away, Spencer.

It has been a fantastic two months since my first novel has been published. I am on track for book 2 of the Glimmer Steel Saga to be released in September, which I sincerely hope many of you will be looking forward to.

I grew up as an army brat for twenty years and lived in such auspicious places as Japan and the middle of Oklahoma. When I finally moved out, I was living in Hawaii which is a beautiful place filled with friendly spirits. Who can argue with wearing shorts and T-shirts every day? Apparently, I was, since I then moved to Portland, Oregon in 1996. The trees and green were just calling to me, and a friendly, laid-back city is where I naturally find my place. I couldn’t just do things normally, and was heavily involved in the SCA which is a friendly, medieval recreation society where you can pummel your best friends with heavy sticks while wearing armor. Much fun! It is good for sword fighting scenes, as well. Not that Aiden, the star of my current series, IS a fighter yet, but eventually he will get frisky enough.

I am also a single dad, just entering the twilight of my parenthood with one child out on her own, and another at seventeen. Let me tell you, it is an accomplishment and honor to have raised them.

I am also of the school of thought that getting your book out within 3 months is not only do-able, but also slow. If someone ever tells you 1000 words a month is ok, they are lying to you. Push the publish button! You can do it. Enjoy!

What inspired you to become an author?A Deadly Power that could Destroy his World.

Truthfully, I’ve wanted to be an author for many years but have never had the gumption and knowledge to pull it off. Late last year, I had come to a decision point in my life that required me to take a leap of faith.  I also ran into an old friend who had done a considerable amount of research into self-publishing.  I published my first two short stories on my birthday in November.  Now, I am happily writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi, telling stories, and watching people smile.

What was the worst day in your writing career?

The day one of my beta readers told me that I wasn’t a writer yet. They said they could not even get through the first chapter. That was hard. It took me about three or four days to recover. Once I did, I examined some of her feedback and used it in a positive way. It also helped that other beta readers had gone through the book fast and loved it, but that was a hard critique to take.

What was the best day in your writing career?

Pushing the publishing button for the first time. That was a good day.

In your latest book, what was your favorite scene?

In my second book, my favorite scene comes toward the end. One of the protagonists’ companions defeats someone who has been terrible to him throughout his life, and then the girl he’s falling in love with saves him from a side attack, and they kiss.

Tell me what you love to hate about your antagonist?

He’s conflicted. He wants to be defeated, but cannot bring himself to give up. His clothes are also some sort of creature that moves by itself.  Fun.

Why do you love fantasy/sci-fi?

I love Sci-Fi because of its sense of wonder and hope for the future. There is also a love the ideas of technology and how they can be integrated into our lives. My favorite worlds are those with many species and races getting to know one another and either getting along of duking it out.

What are you currently reading?

A Path in the Darkness” by Michael Cooper.

***

A Glimmer of Destiny, (Book 1 of the Glimmer Steel Saga)

5 (2)How can one moment in a young man’s life become the turning point between doom and deliverance for an entire world?

Aiden Finn is an orphan, comfortable in his quiet life working at the School of Breen when everything is turned upside down by a casual bet between two young nobles. One that cause him to use the forbidden Glimmer Stones which create constructs of physical light, and by law only nobles are allowed to touch.

Threatened with death by duchy law and evil forces intent on capturing him and his dark secret, Aiden is forced to learn how to control this emerging power to save all that he holds dear. However, will that which saves him also be his world’s downfall? The dreaded Mourning Lords, beings that came from the dawn of the Cataclysm four thousand years earlier once more walk the land, searching for an answer to their torment. Will Aiden learn how to become a master of Glimmer Steel or will the mystery of the Cataclysm and the destruction of technology drown him as surely as it nearly cracked the world in half?

***

A Glimmer of Destiny is available on AMAZON US and AMAZON UK
A Glimmer of Truth, Book 2 of the Glimmer Stone Saga will be available in September 2016. (Chapter 1 of book 2 is included as a sneak peek!) UPDATE: A GLIMMER OF TRUTH IS NOW AVAILABLE!
A Glimmer of War, Book 3 of the Glimmer Stone Saga will be available January 2017.

If you’d like to learn more about Spencer and his books, please sign up to his NEWSLETTER and check out his AMAZON PAGE.

Happy Reading 🙂

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Fantasy Focus: Heart of the Raven by Joleene Naylor

Today we are honoured to have Joleene Naylor, author of The Amaranthine vampire series, with us to talk about her book:

Heart of the Raven

An epic quest, an evil master and…vampires? Join Jorick and Katelina as they fight to keep a powerful relic from falling into the wrong hands – a relic said to hold enough power to destroy the world.

Though Heart of the Raven is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone and begins the three book Heart of the Raven story arc.

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“I’m not a fan of vampire stories. Being an author of fantasy novels, that type of work never held a great deal of interest for me. Then, I was given a copy of Amaranthine #5, Heart of the Raven and I was hooked. Without doubt, Joleene Naylor is a skilled writer. To put it simply, I loved this book. It’s interesting, moves well, and holds your attention through each and every page. Regardless of which genre you enjoy, a good read is always the goal, and ‘Raven’ certainly hits the mark.”

  – Mark Matthews, author of The Calling (Chronicles of the Careen)

An excerpt:

Malick passed through the fighting vampires. His gait was so smooth that he seemed to float rather then walk. Jorick stepped backwards, forcing Katelina to do the same. Wills battled for dominance in her mind and her legs couldn’t
decide whether to lock in place or run. The ensuing war made her limbs twitch and she screamed with a mixture of confusion, frustration and terror.

5 - hor teaser - malickMalick drew to a stop and laughed. The struggle in Katelina’s mind ended and she stumbled backwards. Unbelievably, the elevator chimed, and she looked to see the doors slide open. For a moment she could see a short vampire standing inside the plush red compartment, and then it was gone.

The short vampiress was suddenly standing before Malick. She wore a loose flowing dress of blue and her long silver hair flowed down her back. Like a china doll, her face showed no age and no expression, but her cerulean eyes burned with anger.

Katelina clutched Jorick, too terrified to move. Those eyes were seared forever in her memory; it was the woman from the True Council.

The Scharfrichter seemed to realize it too, and the fighting ceased. Even the living, but prostrate vampires stopped moaning and lay still, as if mesmerized.

“So my presence is enough to rouse you?” Malick asked the vampiress. “I’m touched.”

The vampiress’ voice rang through the room, like crashing waves and summer bird song mixed together. “You are not welcome here.”

Malick drew himself up. The air crackled and Katelina’s chest tightened until she could barely breathe. When he spoke, his voice boomed, and it was only fear that stopped Katelina from covering her ears. “How unfortunate. I had hoped that you, most of all, would understand.”

“Understand what? That you have thrown aside your duties for your own selfish ends? Ishkur was right, you should never have been given power.”

“You’re using the old names again.” Malick’s smile grew. “Do you still find comfort in them?”

“Leave now and do no more harm.”

Malick laughed. “You have not warmed since our last meeting, Inanna. It’s no wonder. To hide in the earth while others live. It is nothing more than waking death. How can you be any warmer than the dead?” He stepped forward, his eyes alight. “Join me and be what you once were. Do you remember so many millennia ago when men sang your name? It could be that way again! There’s no need for us to hide, we could be gods!”

“You were never a god, only a greedy child. Those days are gone, as are those people. Modern man does not welcome gods, but topples them. Go now and repent in quiet, before it is too late for you.”

Malick studied the diminutive vampiress. Their eyes met as if in silent conversation, and finally he broke away. “A pity. However, it is not you I seek, or even your brothers.” He looked to Jorick. “I will take it now.”

“Take what?” Jorick asked stiffly.

“Come now. You can shield some thoughts, but not all. Where have you hidden it? Is it with your first?” Jorick flinched and Malick nodded. “So it is. Thank you, my son. I will give her your greetings.”

He turned on his heel and snapped his fingers. Griselda grabbed her gun and swung it over her shoulder, then bounded up the steps after her retreating master, Greneth and Senya on her heels.

The Scharfrichter started forward, but Inanna stopped them with a gesture and perhaps a silent command. They turned to her, their faces open questions. Instead of answering, the ancient vampiress turned away. Katelina had a single, burning look at Inanna’s perfect face before the vampiress disappeared. The elevator doors slid suddenly open and closed and she was gone.

***

Heart of the Raven is available through the following outlets:

AMAZON US     AMAZON UK     B&N NOOKBook     KOBO     SMASHWORDS     ITUNES

***

Joleene Naylor is the author of the glitter-less Amaranthine vampire series, a world where vampires aren’t for children. As a compliment to the novel series, she has also written several short stories, including the Vampire Morsels collection.

What inspired you to become an author?

My mother was a writer and poet, so it never occurred to me not to write. Publishing, on the other hand, was something I was scared to do, but two friends encouraged me, and their faith in my writing gave me the courage to take the plunge.

Why do you love fantasy/sci-fi?

I love magic, romance, and a good battle – and it’s even better when there are elves, fairies, or even vampires involved. A Fantasy or Sci-Fi universe is the creation of the author, and so as we are discovering the characters and the story, we’re also discovering the world and the history, while in contemporary books there’s only the characters to learn. We already know how the real world works.

What are you currently reading?

Reborn City by Rami Ungar. A mix of contemporary and fantasy set in a bleak future, it’s a great read!

*Joleene also tells me that she has five cats, yes five, and I thought I was bad with three!

If you’d like to learn even more about Jolenne and her books, please check out her WEBSITE and FACEBOOK PAGE.  You can also follow Joleene on TWITTER, GOODREADS, PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, WATTPAD, AUTHORGRAPH, and on her AMAZON PAGE.

 

Happy Reading 🙂

 

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