Title: Portents
Author: Amanda Ryder V.I.

When all signs point to trouble, can Amanda steer clear of disaster?

Amanda Ryder's determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won't hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they'd trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…

Frustrated and itching to prove herself, Amanda snags her first Academy mission: she and Toby Laboyteaux, fellow teen witch who "kinda sorta sees the future," must work together to track down a local swamp monster stirring up trouble in the sticks. But overturned suburban garbage cans and blurry tabloid pictures aren't the only problems—strained relationships with her new colleagues, a growing guilt-complex, and the waxing moon all add to Amanda's stress. Add to that the pressure of being hunted by a psychic psychopath, and Amanda's got plenty on her mind.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Nash swears Marian Dupree and her Academy of bumbling do-gooders have thwarted his plans for the last time. Convinced Amanda's the subject of his mother's recent prophecy and the key to his future success, he redoubles his efforts to obtain the mystery girl. But when Amanda proves too slippery a quarry, Nash sets his sights on the next best thing. When a valuable member of the Academy coven is kidnapped, Amanda and her friends are in a race against time. Is a tragic future destined to come to pass?

About the Author: 

Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband and two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos). I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.

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Release date: September 6th 2013
Publisher: Uninvited Black Cat

What do you do when your magic makes you a target? Run. Fight. Die.

14-year-old Kai Koson had nothing to do with the apocalypse, thank you very much. He was just a baby the day a coven of blood witches ripped a hole in the universe and the demons fell screaming from the sky. Earth and its magic perished. Witchkind was hunted and annihilated. 

Now, because he was born a witch, Kai must spend his life running and fighting for survival. Even his own uncle seems determined to abandon him. 

With nothing left to lose, Kai runs away and joins a team of galactic bounty hunters. But instead of providing an escape, it sets Kai on a path that will destroy everything he believes about himself and the apocalypse, transforming him into the most wanted teenager in the galaxy.

Written with humour, imagination and darkness, Bounty Hunter and its protagonist Kai Koson stand confidently beside Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, Young Bond, Mortal Engines and Harry Potter.

About the author:

S.J. Hollis is a writer. Torturer of fictional teenagers. Author of Bounty Hunter, a YA apocalyptic fantasy with ... erm, funny bits.

Short, unreliable, slightly odd thirty-seven-year-old. Pizza fiend. Suspicious of the human race. Watches the crime channel instead of the morning news. Fan of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Batman. Morning person. Lover of Game of Thrones and Hollyoaks. Skyrim player. Shakespeare admirer. Forty quid a month comics habit. Thinks frost giants are cuddly and Loki needs a hug. Feels sick at the thought of sharing the remote control. Is learning to cook (can fry bacon like the devil fries souls, but spaghetti more of a challenge). Currently obsessed with fish finger sandwiches. Very short attention sp...

S J Hollis lives in Surrey, England with her two houseplants and a cuddly seagull. Bounty Hunter is her debut novel and she is currently working on the next book in the series.

How The Hunger Games Can Help you Build Character:

There’s lots of advice out there on building character. There are whole books on the subject, and I own about seven of them. But let me tell you what works for me. I treat every character as though they are the main protagonist. I give each one a placeholder name that roughly fits the personality or character type that I want, and I write a biography and questionnaire for each one. What are their favourite foods? What’s their favourite day of the week? Are they scared of spiders? What would they do if the sky caught fire? 

At this point I’ve usually got a rough plot in my head, or at least either the beginning, middle or end of one. It doesn’t really matter; just start writing. The point is to get your characters moving. You might know that your character has lost a loved one, but you won’t know how they carry that pain around with them until you start challenging them with actual situations. In Bounty Hunter every single character has lost someone or something to the demons, but they all deal with it in different ways. Sam has turned her pain into strength; she’s determined and cautious. Yamiko is the opposite; each day is a crazy-fun game because the world might end tomorrow. Cassius hides. Galway guards, kills and lies. And the point-of-view character, Kai, mouths off, behaves recklessly and seems to want to attract trouble and punishment.

The moment your characters react in the same way, you have a problem.  You need to change or eliminate them, because you have an excess character.  All characters should be different. They should look different, have very different names, behave differently, have different speech patterns, different ideals and a different set of morals. All main characters should have their own stories -- in theory, you should be able to write a book about each of them. You should also be able to plonk any of them down in anyone else’s story and know how they will behave. In other words, if you can’t put them in the middle of The Hunger Games and know how each of them will either win or lose, you need to work harder.  Which one of your characters would kill? Which one would climb up a tree and never come down? Which one would stab their best friend in the back? Which one would risk their own life for a stranger? If you’ve built your characters strongly enough, not
only will you know the answers to these questions, but after finishing your book, your readers will know too (differing conclusions allowed and encouraged). Which member of the Bounty Hunter team would survive The Hunger Games? In the scenario I have in my head right now, Cassius, but not because I know he’s a sneaky genius with excellent hiding instincts, but because I know how all the others would die.

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A young curandera, a medicine woman, intent on uncovering the secrets of her past is forced into a life-and-death battle against an evil Archbishop. Set in the mystic land of Aztlan, The Unholy is a novel of destiny as healer and slayer. Native lore of dreams and visions, shape changing, and natural magic work to spin a neo-gothic web in which sadness and mystery lure the unsuspecting into a twilight realm of discovery and decision.


Lightning streaked across a midnight dark sky, making the neck hairs of a five-year-old girl crouched beneath a cluster of twenty-foot pines in the Turquoise Mountains of Aztlan stand on end. The long wavy strands of her auburn mane floated outward with the static charge. It felt as though the world was about to end.

Seconds later, lightning struck a lone tree nearby and a crash of thunder shook the ground. Her body rocked back and forth, trembling with terror. She lost her footing, sandstone crumbling beneath her feet, and then regained it; still, she did not feel safe. There appeared to be reddish eyes watching from behind scrub oaks and mountain pines, scanning her every movement and watching her quick breaths. Then everything became silent.

The girl leaned against the trunk of the nearest tree. The night air wrapped its frigid arms tightly around her, and she wondered if she would freeze to death or, even worse, stay there through the night and by morning be nothing but the blood and bones left by hungry animals. Her breaths became quicker and were so shallow that no air seemed to reach her lungs. The dusty earth gave up quick bursts of sand from gusts of northerly winds that blew so fiercely into her nostrils that she coughed but tried to stifle the sounds because she didn’t want to be noticed.

About the author:

Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., is a psychologist and writer living in Albuquerque who has treated survivors of the dark side of religion for more than 30 years. His professional consultation practice — SoulCare — is devoted to the tending of the soul. Dr. DeBlassie writes fiction with a healing emphasis. He has been deeply influenced by the mestizo myth of Aztlan, its surreal beauty and natural magic.  He is a member of the Depth Psychology Alliance, the Transpersonal Psychology Association and the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.  

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Release date: October 23, 2013
Series: Impossibly #1
Publisher: TSW Books

All Moya Douglas wants to do is study hard, maintain her scholarship, and make her mother proud while attending college. She doesn't have time for a boyfriend or going on dates arranged by her best friend. Moya doesn't believe in love. And she has no intention of ever finding it. 

Branden McCarthy is determined to change her views.
A selfless romantic who's had his heart broken in the past, Branden is fascinated with Moya's personality and hopes to develop something real with her—a connection so strong it'll open her heart. But just when things start to work between the two, Branden’s secret threatens to get in the way.

Will Moya finally do the impossible and give love a chance with Branden, or will fear keep them apart?

About the author:

Shane Morgan is a lover of "interesting" books. Her imagination is always running wild so it's best to collect and organize them into separate stories. 

Shane's love for writing started the moment she picked up a Nancy Drew book. At a young age, she began writing short stories, delving into a variety of genres: from comedy and drama, to horror and contemporary romance. Shane's quite intrigued by the otherworldly or things otherwise deemed "impossible." Well, in her opinion, people never really grow up, do they? 

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Can a feisty four-legged matchmaker help four best friends find the romance of their dreams?

When a handsome man from Gabby’s past agrees to a cross-country road trip, her master plan to re-launch her art career quickly morphs into an unexpected, romantic reunion.

Marney’s 9-1-1 emergency help arrives in the form of a rugged, blue-eyed cop. Now she has the perfect bodyguard to keep her safe during those dark, steamy nights…

The last thing Mia wants is a relationship…yet the headstrong florist can’t keep her hands off her sexy-as-sin ex-boyfriend.  Will she open her heart before he leaves town for good?

Jenny is a woman on a mission – she’ll even resort to dognapping to make her point! But can she teach a reclusive, emotionally-wounded tycoon that love heals all things?


All these years, he’d left that one story incomplete, a loose end that threaded through his thoughts. Had he missed his chance with her years before because he hadn’t taken a big enough risk? If he tried again with Gabby, would the results be different this time? There was only one way to know.

"I'd love to hitch a ride with you. It'll be just like old times," he said, taking a step closer, and thinking that was the last thing he wanted was old times and the way things used to be, "you and me together, walking on the wild side."

She raised her chin and met his gaze. "I don't do that anymore. I'm a respectable tax-paying citizen now."

"Pity," he said, while the urge to kiss her and be with her, to be part of her world again, raged inside him, "because you being rebellious was the highlight of my days.”

A smile curved up one side of her face, a smile that told T.J. there was still hope, still a connection, and maybe a little of the old Gabby left after all. “Well, I’d hate to disappoint you, but I’m not planning on ending up in jail on this trip.”

“That’s okay,” he said, meeting her deep green eyes with his own. “Neither do I. I told you, Gabby. I’ve changed.”

She gave him a long, assessing gaze. “That remains to be seen.”

T.J. figured he had hundreds of miles to change her mind about him, and to make up for letting her down in the past. He could only hope they didn’t run out of road before he could make everything right again.

About Shirly Jump:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump spends her days writing romance and women’s fiction to feed her shoe addiction and avoid cleaning the toilets. She cleverly finds writing time by feeding her kids junk food, allowing them to dress in the clothes they find on the floor and encouraging the dogs to double as vacuum cleaners. Look for her Sweet and Savory Romance series, including the USA Today bestselling book, THE BRIDE WORE CHOCOLATE, on Amazon and Nook, and the debut of her Sweetheart Club series for Berkley, starting with THE SWEETHEART BARGAIN in September 2013.

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About Jackie Braun:

Jackie Braun is the author of more than 30 contemporary romance novels.  She is a three-time RITA Award finalist, a four-time National Readers’ Choice Award finalist and was nominated for Series Storyteller of the Year by RT Book Club in 2008. She lives in Michigan with her husband, their two sons and a former shelter dog named Pip.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog

About Susan Meier:

In 2013 Susan Meier lived one of her career-long dreams. Her book, THE TYCOON’S SECRET DAUGHER was a finalist for RWA’s highest honor, the Rita! The same year NANNY FOR THE MILLIONAIRE’S TWINS was a Book Buyer’s Best Award finalist and National Reader’s Choice finalist.

Susan is the author of over 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette, Entangled Indulgence and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. 

One of eleven kids, Susan never lacks for entertainment or amusement from her over thirty nieces and nephews. Her family’s Wednesday Morning Breakfasts are the highlight of her summer. And with lots of her nieces and nephews now in their twenties, wedding season is in full swing!

Susan lives in west central Pennsylvania with her husband, son and two crazy cats.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

About Barbara Wallace:

Barbara Wallace has been a life-long romantic and daydreamer so it’s not surprising she decided to become a writer at age eight.  However, it wasn’t until a co-worker handed her a romance novel that she knew where her stories belonged.  Her first Harlequin Romance debuted in November 2010.

Barbara loves writing sweet, smart, ‘it-could-happen-to-you’ style romances.  She lives in Massachusetts with her other loves – her husband, their teenage son, and three very spoiled pets (as if there could be any other kind).  She also loves hearing from readers. 

Website | Twitter

**The authors will award a $25 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.



NEW_BW11_SAMPLECover Photo © Kim Pace Photography
Cover Model: Coleen Breslin
Reyna Montoya, a.k.a. Black Widow, is a top assassin. She’s good at what she does and gets the job done with precision. However, the recurring nightmare of seeing her parents murdered when she was sixteen in Cuba is a constant reminder of her ultimate plan… to find the killer and avenge her parents.
Nicolas Vargas fled Cuba with her after the murder, vowing to take care of her and help keep her safe. He is a self-taught computer genius and chemist and her best friend. After more than fifteen years of working closely together, the unrequited sexual tension between them is getting harder and harder to ignore. Would it ruin their friendship or make their bond stronger? However, Reyna is torn. Viper, Black Widow’s handler, is hot as hell and the sparks between them could burn them both.
As Reyna gets closer to her parents’ killer the distraction of two men is dangerous, and the true identity of the murderer could destroy them all.


Marlene Sanchez was born in New York and raised in Miami. Her family and friends are an important part of her life, a constant inspiration, and keep her motivated to succeed in pursuing her dream. She has had a passion for writing since her ninth grade English teacher put it all into perspective for her. “Write how you speak and write what you know.” She credits her teacher every chance she gets for giving her a love of writing!
Marlene writes mystery/suspense with a sprinkle of romance. Her love of crime and legal dramas, and of course The Godfather, has opened her eyes to the wonderful world of mystery/suspense. The action and thrill is what keeps her fingers gliding across the keyboard, as her brain explodes with ideas about the next unfortunate victim.
She is a strong, independent woman because her Cuban mother raised her right. Her main characters embrace that same attitude; strong Cuban American women that take no “caca” from anyone.
Marlene has a couple of books under her belt, with several in the works to release in 2014. She hopes to someday be a household name, at least in her own home if nowhere else. She just wants her sons to be proud of her, that’s reward enough… Yeah right, she wants the fame and fortune too.


Title: The Curse of Malenfer Manor
Author: Iain McChesney
Genre: historical mystery / paranormal
Publisher: Wayzgoose Press
Date of Publication: October 1

Those in line to the Malenfer estate are succumbing to terrible ends –is a supernatural legacy at work, or something entirely more human?

Young Irish mercenary Dermot Ward retreats to Paris at the close of World War I where he drinks to forget his experiences, especially the death of his comrade, Arthur Malenfer. But Arthur has not forgotten Dermot. Dead but not departed, Arthur has unfinished business and needs the help of the living.

Upon his arrival at Malenfer Manor, Dermot finds himself embroiled in a mystery of murder, succession, and ambition. Dermot falls in love with the youngest Malenfer, the beautiful fey Simonne, but in his way are Simonne’s mismatched fiancé, her own connections to the spirit world, Dermot’s guilt over the circumstances of Arthur’s death… and the curse.


Chapter 1
Dermot Ward (Paris 1919)

On the way to Montmartre, halfway up the Rue des Trois Frères, is a small tight lane to the left. It is poorly lit and uninviting and not obvious to the passerby. If you did manage upon it, you would have to follow it trustingly, for it gives no hint of a thoroughfare, but it would soon reward you and open out, delivering you into a pleasant courtyard.
This cobbled, treed oasis was the home of an old long-established brasserie – Le Jardin des Cygnes. When the weather was good, life took place under the shading poplar branches around the white painted tables of this garden of swans, but in February its patrons stayed huddled and bundled, comfortable behind stained glass doors. There they nested, warm and dry, waiting for spring’s migration.
In the center of the café window hung a large cured ham, smoked in acorns. Propped against it, a dusty chalkboard showed the day’s menu written out large. There were gaps in it, like missing teeth, where popular fare had sold out. And there were two flags, both tricolors, hanging limp in the absence of a breeze. One was most familiar: the blue, white, and red of the French republic, though this specimen had its colors washed soft by time, its cloth worn nightdress-thin. The other flag was new and bright, its fresh dyes almost wet: an independence flag for a pregnant nation, one conceived but not yet delivered. The green, white, and gold of an Irish Free State hung presumptuously from its lanyard.
A local would have noticed Paris was suddenly full of such adornments, totems of petitioners to the battered colonial powers. This new trade in patriotism could be seen almost everywhere; it had arrived in the night only weeks before as the delegations drew nearer. It had started before the appearance of David Lloyd George, Britain’s Prime Minister, who was soon joined by President Thomas Woodrow Wilson, who had sailed from his native Virginia. France’s Clemenceau, the host of the Peace Conference, was flanked by a sizeable contingent, as if in scale he might overawe the charisma of Orlando the Italian. The victors were all now settled in town and eager to slice up the cake.

Why was he so sure, Arthur asked of himself, that Dermot was somewhere near? But was this not Paris and 1919, was the world not gathered today? Everyone to see empires carved up as the treaty was inked at Versailles. History was being made, Arthur conjectured, and Dermot would surely be drawn. He’d fly like a moth to the radiant flame of intrigue and prospect and hope.
Arthur pressed forward in his search for Dermot, now in its fourth day since his arrival, his own sobriety increasingly at odds with the scenes he had encountered. Things had got worse as his route climbed into the hill that was Montmartre. With each step he fought the despondency that grew with the prospect of failure. He had been walking for almost fourteen hours, and the confidence of a noonday sun had dipped with the fading light – doubt had long been plaguing him; it gnawed like a boneyard dog.
What if Dermot died in the war, one amongst the many? Maybe he was wounded and sent home, or he languishes still in a hospital. He could have stayed on with the regiment? It’s not a far-flung idea. He could be anywhere, even gone home, so why am I searching today? Am I wasting time and hope on a friend I don’t know even lives?
But no, Arthur decided. If Dermot was still alive, then he would be here, somewhere, right now. The friend he remembered was a man who could not settle down, a man in search of an elusive peace beyond the conflict of nations. Paris was an island where the flotsam and jetsam of humanity washed ashore. Where a man like Dermot would surface.
Arthur turned left into a narrow alleyway to avoid a ribald group. Drawn onwards by the lilt of music, he continued up the lane. At the sight of a pair of hanging flags and the sign of the hissing swan, Arthur felt as fresh and hopeful as when he’d stepped down from the train.

Dermot, as usual, had come alone. He shoehorned himself into a horseshoe booth across from a boisterous group. Two men of disparate age were pressed round a painted Mademoiselle. The older man was either doing all right, or the younger could be doing much better. The trio were partners in libation, however else things sat; there was a dozen empty glasses on the table.
The Swan was a mixed crowd, popular with the working poor – the porters and the tradesmen. There were students too, and a gaggle of artists, and a diversity of conversations. Only a few of the patrons were in uniform compared to the other bars in the neighborhood. That was another reason Dermot liked the place – that it helped with the forgetting. Dermot was a man on a mission, a one-track mind: he intended to get drunk before sleeping.
“Your best health, father,” he toasted his tablemates, loud enough to be heard above the din. He raised the glass he’d acquired at the bar and saluted their momentary attention. He had been thinking of the letch in La Cousine Bette but the name of Balzac’s old man escaped him.
“Father?” the woman repeated and broke into a hysterical cackle. Her amusement redoubled as the younger man made predictable jest of his accent. Dermot’s labored pronunciation always got a comment from the locals. Dermot took their fun in good stride.
Dermot felt the older man eye him warily. Judging him perhaps. Deciding for himself whether or not the foreigner was harmless. And what did he see, Dermot wondered to himself, how did he look through those eyes?
Dermot Ward was not yet thirty, but the boy had long since left him. Nearly five years in France had gifted him the language and nightmares to last him a lifetime. His arms and legs, once long and awkward, were knitted hard with sinew and muscle. He was animate when he spoke and agitated at rest, which sent his piles of curled hair to bouncing – blond streaked with red, or red bleached by the sun, but already when he shaved he saw gray. His fair complexion, as much as his accent, marked him as a different to the natives.
Annoyed, perhaps, by his interruption, the man begrudgingly returned his salute. The collection on the table grew larger. Dermot cast a look out for the waiter, his mouth already grown dry.
“English?” The older man asked him, uncomfortable in the tongue of that country.
Dermot’s mind was wandering off by itself, as it was wont to do. Two hundred feet in a standard spool. Grade two has one hundred fifty. Continent wire is always in meters: fifty meters to a French blasting spool. Three feet, three and four-tenths inches in every meter is three point two-eight feet. One hundred sixty-four feet – and a hair – in a spool of Frenchy’s best blasting cord. The mathematics gave him comfort. There was a certainty to it he could cling to.
 “No, I’m not English, father.” He answered the question in passable French.
Two spools of anyone’s gives you three hundred feet, at least three hundred feet; ninety-one point four four meters. You don’t want to be closer than that.
“I’m from nowhere really, father. Not anymore. This is home now; good as any.”
“But you served?” the older man persisted. He stroked his stiff right arm, as if from habit, and Dermot saw it was unwieldy. A memento, he thought, a souvenir from the war. Such a lot of men carrying those.
Dermot momentarily seemed not to hear the question, his mind once more whirling away.
Treat glycerine with sulfuric acids and nitric and you have yourself nitroglycerine – Alfred Nobel’s precious gift to engineers and warmongers everywhere. Characteristics (remember the manual): high detonation velocity; shattering action; high grades resist water well. Poor fume quality – take extra care underground – sensitive to shock and friction. “You only drop the box once, boys.” Lesson number one well learned.
Where was that short-assed waiter to be found?
“Oh, I served, father. I saw my share. More than I’d care to remember.” The older man waited for more. “I served for France. In the Legion. I was a mining engineer.”
Dermot had eyes like shallow water that you find in warmer seas, an effect enhanced by coral eyebrows that sat high upon his face. Usually they bore a look of incredulity at what the world sent his way. But not always. Sometimes, when the memories returned and he was forced to revisit those days, his eyes would darken, as beneath a hurricane sky, and his eyebrows would draw tight in. The older man caught something of this now and let the topic be. He followed another string.
“So where were you from before the Legion took you? Not American, I think. Australia perhaps? Ireland?” Inspired, he dipped his head to the flag in the window.
Where do you start? What is a nation? How do you define a people? Is it a matter of resistance; is it who you are not? Is it a matter of what you fight against?
“You’re right there, father. I was born in Donegal. It’s a small enough town in Ireland, so it is, if that is important to anyone.”
“Irish. I told you so!” The older man cheerily claimed a victory, but no one but he seemed to care.
Everyone wants a label: “Irish”; “Foreigner.” How do you define a nation? Do you go back before the plantations and the colonization of a country, when the new world was barely discovered? Or does Ireland really start with Oliver Cromwell and his war that killed half of the people? Is it slaughter and famine on an apocalyptic scale that is required to cement an identity? We grew potatoes for an English economy and a million of us died from starvation.
“What did you give your arm for, father? Was it France, perhaps? Or Liberty?” The older man’s interest was sliding away. “Do you have a job yet, father? Are they giving you a pension? How many friends did you lose these past years?” No one liked this sort of talking. “I’m from the same place you are, father. All of us are bloodied together.”
Dermot could see he had lost his attention, and why not, with a handful like her beside him? The bars and streets were full of men being demobilized – carousing before being sent home. Dermot didn’t mind, he bore him no ill will, but he knew the man’s suspicions were wrong. He wasn’t crazy or grinding an axe; he only wanted to forget. But he wasn’t drunk enough to sleep. Not nearly drunk enough. The war would be waiting if he tried too soon, and the tunnel would beckon him under.
Their waiter was an Anjou dwarf whom the patrons called Maximilian.
“My name’s Henri!” He’d get annoyed and somehow that was funnier.
“Two more, Maximilian!” Dermot waved his empty glass as the little man scuttled by.
“Odd nut,” said Dermot. “Hey, you want something else?” The table declined him politely.

A long wooden counter along one wall served up drink to the crowd in the brasserie; here, upstairs, they had the seclusion to indulge in the forbidden drink despite its prohibition four years prior. Wine and beer could be had in the main room, spirits too, or coffee. But if you were known or invited and vouched for, the Swan would admit you back here. A museum of bottles terraced the back, stacked from the till to the ceiling. At its apex hung a tarnished silver tray. It was nailed securely to the beam to fend off boisterous pilferers. It bore an inscription in painted rhyme that Dermot had committed to memory:

Here can be found the men serving absinthe;
Alchemists pour the green into tumblers;
Crowned with a spoon, plated in silver;
One cube of sugar suspended o’er each.

Queued aproned waiters hoist jugs of iced water;
Assemble their trays of lime-colored cordial.
Ethereal creatures, procurers of promise;
Melt round their patrons; together the host!

Dermot loved the enthusiasm of it – Together the host! His people. Exactly. Why would they ban something so good? Not that it did them any good. The dwarf returned. Dermot took two glasses from the attendant Maximilian and settled his account with loose change. Each tumbler held a single finger of absinthe, the color of a rank algae bloom. With a practiced hand Dermot emptied one into the other – the twixt into the twain – and returned one empty glass to the tray. The Anjou waiter knew his customer’s habits and departed following this exchange.
Dermot reached for the jug that bore the ice and topped up his glass with chilled water. The next part he did very slowly. It was the drip, drip, drip he liked the most – a hypnotic dissolution – the sugar cube crumbled and ran through the holed spoon and mixed in the bottom of the solution. It was sheer chemistry. A science of the impossible. Numerology and divination. The mystery of relative gravities. The Philosopher’s Stone in a glass. The color now swirled, thickened and clouded, and spun milky and turgid before him; he watched while the louche effect gradually evened and the potion he’d brewed came to settle. For Dermot, it was like watching a mind churn an infinite computation and decide on a definitive answer. Here was the certainty and the peace of escape. His mouth began to salivate.
“To alchemy.” He raised his glass in a toast to the Fates, and then put his lips to the welcome cold rim.
The cut of alcohol kicked in sharply, a punch behind his ear. The ice water and sweetener was an antidote, and enabled his palate to take the aniseed. A rush of blood surged through his limbs, and his mind slipped from its leash. With the tremulous pleasure of anticipation served, the café faded away. Dermot’s head flopped to the side and he gazed through the colored glass window.
How long had he sat that way? When he looked back on it he could not say. The light at first drew his attention because it appeared strange, clustered as it was around the tree. Dermot pressed his face to the window and squinted to make his view clearer. It was there all right, sharper than before, and the figure began to take shape.
“Jesus Christ!” he exploded, startling the table from its nuptials.
A dish of oily fish was knocked and spilled. It soiled the laughing woman. “What the hell’s the matter with you?” The two men helped to brush her down, which led to lots of slapping.
“I just saw someone,” Dermot explained, putting his hand to his head and wiping a clammy brow.
The drinkers, recovered, laughed at him then, the three of them joined in the joke.
“Feeling all right over there?”
“Back with us, Irish?”
“Want to cut that green stuff out.”
Dermot felt a pall of fear, but he chanced another glance. The man he had seen was nowhere in sight. The tree in the courtyard was alone.
“What’s the fairy brought you tonight, then? What’s hiding there out in the shadows?”
The green fairy. The gift of the absinthe. A foot into another world. Dermot had heard of hallucinations before, but nothing like this had happened– yet the vision had looked so real. Dermot drew his hands to his lap, conscious that they were shaking.
“I just saw a man,” Dermot confessed. “He was a friend from long ago.”
“Then bring him in. What’s all the noise for, Irish?”
“The man I saw died in the war.”

About the Author:

Iain is a writer of gothic mysteries.

He was born and raised in Scotland. He studied History and Geography at the University of Glasgow.

The World Wars left Iain’s family with generations of widows. As a result, Iain has always been interested in the tangible effects of history on family dynamics and in the power of narrative to awaken those long dead. For the characters in The Curse of Malenfer Manor, he drew on childhood reminiscences and verbal family history—though he hastens to add that his family had barely a penny, far less a
manor, and any ghosts dwell only in memory.

He lives in Vancouver, Canada, with his wife and two children.


What inspired you to write this book?
I had to write a book. What book it was didn’t seem important at the time, strange as that may seem. To get the time to write, I ended up quitting my job and moving with my family overseas. If that seems a little dramatic, it’s because it was. I was in a life – a good life but not a great one – and I had to break the mold. 

I had lots of books I wanted to write, one of which an old-style gothic thriller: a bit of adventure, the supernatural, a moral or two, a romance, plot twists, and murder. I wanted something I would happily read on a flight across the Pacific. And I think I got it. 

What characters do you connect with most?
You spend a lot of time with all of them when you write them for a year. I consciously tried to make all of them flawed – I’m not one for perfect heroes – so each of them annoy me a little. There was a time when I was writing the book – about six months in – when I had to make a major shift and the protagonist got switched. The ghost used to be the hero – there is a ghost, you find that early on, so I’m not giving too much away – but it wasn’t working. Partly because of that, my connection to the proper hero, Dermot, is not what the reader might think. Instead, I reserve my affections for the villains. After all this time I enjoy their company the most.

3. What’s your favorite book-turned movie?
Ah! Hard question. Hard question. I am usually one of those people that complain how they make bad movies from good books (hint – because they do!), but I really enjoyed the recent Cloud Atlas. The book was by David Mitchell and although the book was better – it is excellent – the movie made a really good go. The best overall? Jaws

If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
I would pick the hero, Dermot Ward. I think he’s got his priorities straight, though when you first meet him in his glasses in Paris, it is obvious this has done him no good. Dermot’s experiences in the war have him questioning what matters in life. I like his answers. 

5. Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?
I can. I’m writing two. You are not meant to write two at the same time, so don’t tell anyone, especially my editor, and make sure you block her from this site or I’m bound to get an earful. 
I’ll just mention one here, though: A remote Scottish island in the 1920’s owned by a reclusive industrialist. A cast of curious characters arrive, invited, and pretty soon start to be murdered. The supernatural element remains – the sulfuric whiff of satanic worship – and there may be a cameo or two from some of the Malenfer Manor cast. One can’t write mysteries and not be influenced by the late great Agatha Christie.

6. What do you do in your spare time?
Do you have children? Spare time? Actually, besides the kids, we just got ourselves a puppy. This means that in my spare time I walk in the rain with a plastic bag on one hand. It’s great. Everyone should try it.

7. Who’s your inspiration?
I get inspired and downcast every day. I pick up a book by one of the greats, read a few pages, and know I can never write that way. It tears at you and it is true. And then I pick up something by someone else and read a few pages. The thing has sold millions and I think to myself, my kid could have done better. You find inspiration everywhere.

8. If you were stranded on a desert island, which character would you want by your side?
Let me think, let me think. The scarred troubled veteran with clouded judgment and stalled ambition, or the sensual, ever-so-intelligent heroine in the plunging evening gown? Give me a minute…
9. Team Edward or Jacob?  
Always take the vampires. Good oral hygiene and eternal life – how can you beat that? Now I recognize that I can’t claim any authority in this department, but if I were an impressionable young lady looking to be swept away by the dark beau of my dreams, I could not overlook the inherent deficiencies in a guy that kept borrowing my razor. Ew. Didn’t your momma tell you anything? Werewolves are just bad news.

10. Team Peeta or Gale?
My guess is that by book 8, Catnip will be shacked up with both of them, or she’ll be with Gale, but heavy with Peeta’s love child, or Peeta and Gale will be shacked up together in District 4 above a 24/7 retro disco club (admit it, you didn’t see that plot twist coming), and Catnip will have to go all alone to the book pre-launch cheese and wine. I could be wrong here, I’m just suggesting. 

11. What are you reading now?
Exorcism for Dummies.

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Title: Neiko’s Five Land Adventure (Book One)
Author: A.K. Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure
Publisher: Two Harbors Press
Date of Publication: September 1, 2010
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The Indians and the Crackedskulls are locked in the turmoil of war and presently in a stalemate. Her enemies, Raven and Bloodhawk, have come up with a scheme to up the ante and break the stalemate into their favor. Neiko later finds out that a land she thought she had only imagined is actually real and contains a legendary and otherworldly evil within it. Not only that, she becomes trapped there and must escape the world, the people within it, and the sinister evil within. 

Neiko must find her way back home and turn the tables on her enemies. Can she come back home and escape the evil that seeks to claim her?


After her eyes adjusted to the glare, the two friends could see there was a cavern that was full of perfect crystals. They were in all shapes, sizes, and colors and they came out of the walls, floor, and ceiling. The beauty was spellbinding. “Wow! If I found this in Hawote, then I’d be rich! This is a rock collector’s dream come true!”

“Yeah, but didn’t you say that there were writings about Ramses somewhere in here? I wonder where the ruins of Shadazar are,” Quickstrike rambled.

“Somewhere in here, I guess, and I think we’re close. Let’s keep walking and look at the walls. If there are any branch-offs, then we’ll split up. If you find anything, then come looking.”

“Actually, I’d rather stick together, so we won’t get separated.”

“Good idea, well, I like that idea better too,” she said as they journeyed deep into the caverns. They walked and looked at the walls, but all they found were arrangements and shapes created by crystal; they gleamed and sparkled when the light hit them like multicolored diamonds. Luckily for them, there were no branch-offs, and the caverns appeared as if they were carved into the crystal. New formations were growing in the hewn walls.

Neiko found several broken pieces on the cavern floor; she picked them up and slipped them into her pocket.

“Look, there’s an exit up ahead,” said Quickstrike as he saw a break in the glamour and a darkened cave. As they entered the door, darkness overtook them and there were ruins just ahead. “We found what’s left of ancient Shadazar!”

 “Yeah, and we have an underground lake to cross. I wonder what’s on the other side.”

“I dunno, but I’ve noticed the further we go in, the further we go back in time, so that could mean the writings are probably after the lake. How do we get across?”

“There’s a boat right there.” They climbed into the boat, and Neiko got the oars and began to paddle while Quickstrike carried the torch. They could see broken columns and the remains of a bridge that possibly was a shortcut long ago towering over them. She kept paddling, and then they saw a waterfall just ahead. Neiko paddled around it and parked the boat on the bank of the hidden cavern. When they entered the hallway, there were pictures and writings. “Neiko, look! We found it!”

“Hmm,” she said as she looked at the letters which were surprisingly in the alphabet of her tribe. 

“Well, it’s written in English, but it is written in the alphabet of my tribe. This will be easy for me to translate.”

“That’s good. So, what does it say?”

Neiko looked at the battling figures and the dark, shadowy form of the Dark Pharaoh fighting and slaying them. She ran her finger under the letters as she read. “This is talking about something called the Good Pharaohs. It says that God created powerful beings called Pharaohs to protect the universe from evil.

Title: Escape from Ancient Egypt (Book Two)
Author: A.K. Taylor
Genre: YA Fantasy Action Adventure/ Historical Fantasy, time travel
Publisher: Telemachus Press 

Seeking his revenge on Neiko for exposing him, Francesco banishes Neiko into ancient Egypt just like he did her friends eleven years ago. During her stay there, she unravels the mystery of what happened to her four friends. Now she’s faced with a bigger problem—how to get home. After a series of unfortunate events, Neiko is now entangled with Pharaoh Ramesses II. Francesco also comes to make sure their fates are sealed. Can Neiko and her friends beat impossible odds and return to Hawote and back to the present?


Neiko’s vision turned from the green light to the world spinning around her in dizzying speed. Neiko wasn’t moving, but she felt like she was in freefall—like someone had cut the cable from an elevator and she was plummeting with it. Descending in what—space and time? The evergreen and colorful deciduous vegetation of the Hawote woodlands changed to a desert with a river with some greenery and palms nearby. The cool autumn air of Hawote in October transformed into stifling, searing, dry heat. Pyramids, sphinxes, and strange statues spun around her after her house, porch, and front yard disappeared within the vortex. It was nighttime in Hawote, but the sun rose and set as time flew by—from west to east--backwards. Beneath her bare feet the wood from her front porch turned to nothing then into hot, soft sand.
Neiko’s world stopped spinning, and the sun was high in the sky. Neiko watched the sun to be sure it didn’t move again. Wherever she ended up, she guessed the time must be about high noon there judging by the sun’s position in the sky after a few moments of observation. The heat was intense, and she discovered she must be somewhere far from home. “Where?” was the ultimate question. A gust of wind blew the feathers in her long, black hair. Her hair wrapped around her face, and she brushed it back. Sweat beaded out on her body, and she tugged at her shirt and headband. “Phew! It’s hot out here! Where am I--Death Valley?” she asked. Death Valley was the only desert place she thought of off the top of her head. She had never been there, but she’d read and watched TV programs about the place. She looked around, and a city was only a few feet away. She could see the buildings down below from the high dune where she stood. She took a deep breath and fingered the fringed sheath of her knife to reassure her confidence—without thinking and by instinct. Then after a few more seconds, she trudged down to the city in the soft sand from the dune to go find some answers.
Neiko entered the city still dressed in her buckskin, decorated warrior clothes and painted for war. As she took in the sights and from the confusion, she had forgotten she was armed. Her machete was sheathed to her back, and so was her knife on her side. Incense, perfumes, and music filled the air. She didn’t recognize any of the smells, but the music seemed to be like Egyptian reenactments in movies. The buildings were white alabaster covered in brilliant wall paintings. Some men rode on camels like horses and others led them by a leash. Chariots cantered by. Neiko looked around in amazement. This ruled out Death Valley, Arizona. Neiko lifted her eyes to the sun to get a bearing on north. North was as good of a direction as any to begin a search for answers. After her eyes fell from the sun and to the north, she could see the Pyramids of Giza towering in the distance. She recognized them instantly. She had seen enough pictures and documentaries on the monuments—they were unmistakable. Even though they were miles away, they towered above the city and in view. This definitely wasn’t Death Valley.
In that case I can get on the first flight home, she thought. She believed that she had landed in Cairo. This city came to mind because it's the only one close to the Pyramids of Giza. Then she realized she didn’t have any money as she put her hands in the pockets of her buckskin shorts and only felt the house key. She had left her wallet in the car back at home when she left from Phoenix’s house after the battle.
 “Well, I can probably make up some story that I was abducted or something—which is sort of true. Really funny, Francesco. I guess you meant no way back since I’m broke. I’ll hitchhike back to Hawote if I have to. I’ll scrounge around to see if I can find some change for a pay phone on the road,” she remarked to herself, and maybe the phone book would have some information on where to find an airport or something. But, then again, would the phonebook be written in English or Arabic? It was a chance she had to take. The worst that could happen was not getting anywhere.
Neiko began walking to find help, change, a pay phone, the U.S. Embassy, an airport, or whatever she could find first. After a few more minutes of exploring, she recognized the clothing of the people: white linen kilts, some wore robes and fine jewelry, some wore headcloths while others did not. No one seemed to be dressed like the Arab residents of 21st century Egypt. “Why is everyone dressed like ancient Egyptians?” she asked herself. She wondered if this was some sort of a cult or a weird secret society that lived like the Amish in Cairo.
A small group of armed soldiers marched in front of her, but they didn’t pay any attention to her. They carried swords, shields, spears, and were dressed in ancient Egyptian armor. She had seen it in books and movies. They weren’t carrying guns or dressed in desert camouflage BDUs like Egyptian soldiers of the 21st century.
She headed farther in to the marketplace. It was obvious since people had shops and bazaars selling goods. People were yelling and haggling. People thrust things at Neiko trying to entice her to buy. Neiko put up her hands and shook her head. She couldn’t understand a word anyone was saying. Funny, no one seemed to be selling T-shirts, souvenirs, or that type stuff for tourists. Quite frankly, no one seemed to be selling any maps.
Neiko walked up to a man who was a merchant at a bazaar. He was selling all manner of fine jewelry. Heavy collars, bracelets, necklaces, arm pieces, earrings were on display. All gaudy like the ancient Egyptians liked. “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am? I seem to be lost. Do you know where I can find a map or where the airport is? A phone?” she asked as she made her hand like a phone and put it to her ear; her thumb the earpiece and her pinkie the mouthpiece.
The man looked at her startled because of her strange appearance and because he couldn’t understand her. He was dressed in linen like everyone else and sported some of that same Egyptian bling since he was a successful jeweler.
“That’s a little out of style, don’t you think? I mean, guys don’t wear eyeliner…and, that skirt and that sheet on your head are not how people dress nowadays. People dress like ancient Egyptians only on Halloween. Last I checked it was still three weeks away,” Neiko said to the man as she shook her head.

About the Author: 

A.K. Taylor grew up in the backwoods of Georgia where she learned about nature. She enjoys hunting and fishing, beekeeping, gardening, archery, shooting, hiking, and has various collections. She also has interest in music, Native American history and heritage, Egyptian history, and the natural sciences. A.K. Taylor has been writing and drawing since the age of 16. A.K. Taylor has graduated from the University of Georgia with a biology degree, and she shares an interest in herpetology with her husband.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

A lot of things actually. The biggest one was my imaginary adventures in the woods and backyard as a kid. Others are things from books, movies, video games, cartoons, nature, and the occasional thought that screams “hey, that was good”, and even dreams!

2. What characters do you connect with most?

From Neiko’s Five Land Adventure:

Neiko: We have a lot in common in a lot of ways. She is who I would like to be, and she gets to do the things I dream of doing. There are things she does that I can do—she just does it better . She makes me laugh a lot.

Quickstrike: If I had a talking animal companion to travel with it would be him. Easy going, easy to talk to, and he would be useful to scare away bad guys on Earth. Who would mess with a giant scorpion-cobra that talks?

Ramses: Believe it or not I can connect with this villain. He gets in touch with my inner dark side. It’s kind of scary, really. I could describe him as Jason Voorhees (minus the mommy complex) meets Egyptian pharaoh meets dark immortal entity that wants to rule the universes with steel.

From Escape from Ancient Egypt (besides Neiko):

Sito: He gets me in touch with my brainy, intellectual side. Neiko is smart, but I don’t make her super-duper textbook/nerd smart. Neiko is still a nerd at heart too, but someone else needs to fill that role. He could be described as Sheldon, but without the narcissism and OCD.

Nefertari: If I had to pick someone from ancient Egypt to be stuck with who would be my friend it would be her. She and Neiko hit it off pretty well, so I don’t think it would be too much of a stretch.

Ramesses II: Aside from hearing about him and reading about him a lot ever since I was a kid, I have actually met guys like him in life, and it panned out a lot like it did for Neiko. It’s just they were in a different culture, in a different time, and minus the hand-me-down royalty, absolute authority, and goddom that comes with the title of ‘pharaoh’. The Type A, alpha male, charmer type that can grow on you after they pursue you awhile…
3. What's your favorite book-turned movie?

I would say Harry Potter in how they made the world come alive.
4. If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?

Probably Neiko. We just have a lot in common and we seem to connect well. We could almost be twins, and I love sharing her adventures. Besides that she makes me laugh and is as loyal as they come.

5. Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?

I am still writing more of the Neiko Adventure Saga. I am working on finishing book #5 and getting book #3 ready for edits. I’ve skipped around and some of them need some major rewrites and fleshing out. I started on book #15 a while back but I’ve kind of put it aside for now.

I am also brainstorming and building a high fantasy trilogy The Light Sword Trilogy. Can’t wait to start it.

I am also working on a nonfiction book called Rising Above the Ashes that is about bullying that will include parts of my life, poetry, metaphors, and lyrical prose.

I have a couple thriller/mystery series in mind, but they’re on the drawing board right now. They are The Randi Braveheart Mysteries. This mystery series was born after writing prompt for a thriller short story that I may publish as a stand alone: “Bloody Klondike Gold”. Think of something like a tomboy Nancy Drew meets Scooby Doo meets MacGyver, but with real ghosts and real world bad guys. Then I have the Native American Mythic Series. This series was born after a flash fiction challenge during the Blogger Book Fair this summer which I wrote a piece called “Thunderbird”. The first book of that series will called that. We will have human detective Jade Crowe who is Navajo, Comanche, and Caucasian, and Jacob Rainbird who is a childhood friend of Jade’s who is one of the mythical entities: a thunderbird (she doesn’t know that for quite some time). Others will follow and this pair will have to solve mysteries and battle against mythical beings and entities among tribes and nations across the Americas. 

6. What do you do in your spare time?
When I do have some spare time I like to be outdoors, read, or play video games.

7. Who's your inspiration?
For the most part it’s normal people, Native Amercians, and the Egyptians. There are some people I’ve made up that don’t exist in the real world that inspire me, lol. Sometimes they come from dreams! Sometimes I see people in a movie, or the toy isle, or on a video game that can create the essence for a character.

8. If you were stranded on a desert island which character do you want by your side? 
Neiko, without a doubt. She makes up in the survival skills department where I am lacking. She is also a hoot to be around. I don’t think being stranded there with her would be boring.

9. Team Edward or Jacob? 
Team Jacob. Not too fond of sparkly vampires, and I like werewolves. Jacob being Native American is a plus.

10. Team Peeta or Gale? 
Team Gale.

11. What are you reading now? I am finishing up a novella Confronting the Demon by Ciara Ballintyne, but I don’t know what I’ll be picking up next :P


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What is Twilight?


  1. The soft glowing light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, caused by the reflection of the sun's rays from the atmosphere.
  2. The period of the evening during which this takes place, between daylight and darkness.
dusk - gloaming - nightfall

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