Category Archives: fantasy
THE ELF CHILD
Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book II)
The moment elf warrior Astan Hawk agrees to protect the young elf queen trouble dogs his heels. Jelani’s human upbringing clashes with clan tradition, spurring dangerous intrigues within the Circle of Elders. Soon even the motives of his father Daven come into question. With nowhere else to turn, Astan asks Jelani’s human friends for help. Hiding in shadows, an outcast elf plots revenge by seeking the help of powerful elf mages who live deep within the forest. Can Astan fulfill his promise to keep both Jelani and his child safe when the whole world seems to have turned against them?
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This was Grigor’s plan, no one else’s. He’d thought of it all on his own, after the clan had discarded him, left him alone here in the pitiless rocks and cold winds and harsh rain. He deserved the right to carry it out.
“If the elders are involved in their politicking and complaining, then now is the time to strike,” Grigor said, looking Vez straight in the eye. “We should move in and take the child now.”
“All the same, if guards are posted, while they may let us in, they will not let you pass,” Vez insisted.
“We need a distraction. Something to send anyone who’s not already involved in this discussion about the false queen out of our way,” Grigor said.
Terzon’s face lit up, an idea practically bursting from his lips. “A groundquake. That would frighten them, show them we are a force to be reckoned with!” He grinned, and Grigor knew that capability existed within his childhood friend. But so did the rest of the clan.
“They would know you had caused it, Terzon. Inherent in this plan is the ability for you and the others to continue to blend into the clan, to appear innocent, until the queen is deposed once and all. The same goes for the rest of you. Your elven powers are obvious to those who know you well.”
Silence settled around them like a heavy smoke. Grigor hadn’t thought through the details, not while trying to coordinate so many of them, and now facing the open hostility in the eyes of Vez, he struggled to be clever.
“Then we should use human powers,” Vez said.
“Humans have no powers!” Hidal cried.
“Exactly. What can we do that will call to the heart of every elf in the forest, that we can blame on humans?”
“Fire,” Fontine whispered.
“Yes,” Grigor said. “Yes, Fontine, that’s just what we need.”
Grigor knew Fontine could start a fire anywhere, just by wishing it into existence. But careless humans had destroyed hundreds of acres of elven territory over the years. The possibility was one the clan feared more than almost anything.
Yadin nodded. “Beckley said a camp of human males had been on the eastern face of the mountain for the last week, hunting for animals.”
“This was known to the clan?” Grigor asked.
“Yes,” Vez said. “I heard them talking. Here’s your chance to be a hero, my friend. And we can hold the humans accountable for all of it. Of course, this would be more believable if you showed the clan you’d put up a fight to protect them.” He eyed Grigor. “I think a blacked eye and a bloody nose ought to do it.”
I knew when I got the idea for THE ELF GUARDIAN that It would be set in the Bitterroot Mountains, like the others–but I wanted a unique twist. It came when I read about the Montana Vortex.
When paranormal investigator Chiara de Luna needs a boost to her sagging career, she makes a trip to northwestern Montana for new material. Little does she know that the real story she’ll find is much more outlandish than weirdly tilted trees and brooms standing up on their own.
Clan Elves of the Bitterroot (Book IV): The strong Earth energies that support the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot have gone awry for unknown reasons, and the powerful forces at work have not gone unnoticed by the outside world. When a paranormal investigator looking for a story to save her career is told a fantastic tale by the juvenile and disobedient elf prince Elliun, his young albino elf bodyguard Max must try to fix the mistake. Can Max get humans, mages, and elves working together in time to save the land before the energies spin out of control? Or is this the end of the elven world in the Bitterroot Mountains? [Urban Fantasy series from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc.]
The phone line went dead before she could even say ‘goodbye.”
Not that she was going to say ‘goodbye.’ Anything but.
The once-sweet name turning bitter on her tongue, the whispered words sighed through her lips, becoming sharp, cutting her.
No, that was her teeth, biting down hard enough to make her bleed.
She set the phone into the stand. Gone.
Her knees gave way and she landed, hard, in her office chair, banging her elbow on the edge of the polished black-and-chrome desk. The pain reverberated up and down her arm, but did nothing to cloak the agony raging inside her.
The news clippings across the surface of the desk seemed to mock her now. Paranormal Investigator Visits Alcatraz. DeLuna Solves Local Murder with Psychic Clues. Ghosts Give Up Secrets to Ohio Paranormal Expert. All her work, fifteen years of building a reputation as an investigator of the weird and unexplained—what would it mean if Hunter Nowles walked away from her?
And why was he leaving? Because that stupid exorcism had turned out to be a fake.
Okay, and the haunting of that old mansion in Pennsylvania had turned out to be a bust.
She chewed her lip. To be honest, she’d failed to either prove or debunk the last seven investigations she’d undertaken. Lucky number seven.
“The great Chiara DeLuna bites the big one,” she muttered, waiting for the rim shot that had to follow. It was a joke, right? She was a joke. The network seemed to think so. Davis had already sent a memo warning her they wouldn’t fund her program any longer if she couldn’t produce results. And now Hunter had decided she wasn’t worth his time, either.
Or maybe he was just afraid that her failures would taint his own growing stature in the paranormal investigation community. Their three years as lovers didn’t mean anything at all?
Her gaze was snagged by one of the news photos on the desk, herself smiling and shaking the beefy hand of some small-town police chief. See, that woman was Chiara DeLuna, “spooky” media star—the woman with the chic platinum blonde hair, the expensive wardrobe, and the ominous black sedan that seemed to part crowds when she arrived on a scene.
Not the woman who looked back at her from the mirror, dreary, bookish Bonny Lang from Euclid, Ohio whose most thrilling accomplishment before she’d hit the big time was surviving a wreck with a drunk driver, as a teenager. Her mother had been killed in the crash; Bonny had sold her first paranormal article based on a post-mortem conversation they had before her mother’s spirit faded.
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“Don’t you dare!”
My stepmother’s words were the last push that launched me over the edge.
Half pirate, half wandering minstrel, Connan Shaunessy sang Irish ballads for the pagan party, his exotic appearance and lilting voice a siren song to my raging 17-year-old libido. He looked like he hadn’t bathed in a week, maybe more. My sense of decorum hadn’t drawn me close enough to determine by smell.
I didn’t really care.
His shabby Jack-o-the-Green coat, black jeans with holes worn through the knees, and his unpolished boots were everything opposite of the life I led, dictated by the Stepmonster.
He finished a set and stumbled off the impromptu stage, a stranger ripe with fascination, cornflower eyes twinkling as he approached me. “Like what ye see, darlin’?” he asked with a wink.
A hot rush filled my face. “Y-you bet,” I stammered, trying to sound cool.
He leaned close and brushed my cheek with his lips, then continued on to the bar. The odor of unwashed man didn’t repel me at all. In fact, it had rather the opposite effect.
That’s when I caught the Stepmonster’s eyes on me. She was pissed, I could tell, and the whispered warning was just loud enough for me to hear. No daughter of mine…
Something released inside me, and I felt hot and cold and old and young and giddy, mostly giddy.
Connan’s eye continued to seek me out the rest of the evening, and I managed to slip him a scrawled invitation to visit me later.
Sure enough, he showed up outside my window about two a.m., swaying dangerously as he burst into a lecherous song. The most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me, and I had to cut him off with a glass of ice water to the face before he woke anyone else. Fortunately, my room was on the first floor and I didn’t have to talk him out of drunkenly climbing a rose trellis. I just opened the window and half-dragged him in.
“Hello,” I whispered, my smile unbidden. “Are you my fairy godfather?”
His laugh delighted me. “Dunno ‘bout that, lass, but I can take ye t’ heaven.” He leaned forward and his long arm pulled me to him. He kissed me, a pungent blend of whiskey and smoke, but he didn’t let me go. I think because he couldn’t stand up on his own.
“I—I haven’t…been to heaven before,” I confessed.
It was true. My father was the city’s chief of police. He’d run off every boy who’d even showed an interest. I might have sought out the company of hot girls, just to staunch my youthful desires without suspicion. But men set my blood aflame.
He leaned close to my ear. “Don’t ye be worryin’, darlin’. I know the way.” He shucked off his jacket. “Where’s the loo?”
I pointed to my private bathroom. He lurched in that direction, half closing the door. A long stream of water, then the toilet flushed, and then the shower came on.
My heart kicked over. What if the Stepmonster thought I shouldn’t be showering this time of night?
Half holding my breath, I retreated to the bed, sitting awkwardly on its corner, wondering what I had been thinking. She’d crucify me if…
Apparently fortune was with me. She didn’t appear.
“Come meet the Beltane Balladeer,” he said.
It started there and ended a good deal later, sometime just before dawn, when we shared one last searing kiss. I drifted into sleep as the window closed behind him. I’d expected to learn about making love; instead, I learned about the power of lust.
And that, after all, is a lesson well worth learning.
One of the themes of this blog is adventure, which I think everyone should experience at some point. But sometimes adventures are planned…and sometimes….
As she reached Broadway, a worn blue bicycle pulled up next to her, horn screeching over its rider’s distinctive squeal. “Where is your car, woman?”
Jelani eyed her best friend, Iris Pallaton, whose blonde hair swirled above the bright cloud of a magenta blouse. “Richard had it towed.”
“Tell me about it. I’m late.” Jelani headed off again.
Iris pedaled along the curb beside her. “You should call his supervisor and complain.”
“And what? Humiliate myself because he’s a jerk? Screw him!”
“Maybe you should.” Iris laughed. “Then he’d be too awed to bother you again.”
Jelani glared as they crossed the street. “Funny.”
On the far side, she caught the glint of glass in the middle of the sidewalk. “What idiot would drop a bottle when there’s a trash can right there?” she grumbled. “I’ll get it. First karma points of the day.”
Iris climbed off the bike and put down the kickstand. “What is that?” She bent down near the object. “Oh, sweet Gaia! It’s a glass slipper!”
No kidding. It really appeared to be a shoe made out of glass. A large one.
“Who would have left this here?” Jelani picked it up, looking around for a prankster camera team. Something kept her from tossing the shoe.
“Try it on,” Iris whispered. “It would get Richard Snyder off your mind.”
“Richard is not on my mind. He’s on my crap list.”
“Oooh. Sorry.” Iris ran her finger over the shoe. “You’re chicken anyway.”
“Don’t even go there.”
“Chicken. Bawk-bawk.” Iris giggled.
“Fine! If it means I can get to work.” Reaching down with her right hand, she unzipped her boot and kicked it off. “Ready? You want a picture?”
Iris dug for her cellphone and raised it, ready to take a shot. “Just in case your prince shows up right then.”
“I don’t need a prince,” Jelani complained. “I don’t need a man. I need a new life.”
Setting the shoe on the ground, Jelani slipped her foot in it and gently stepped down, not sure to what expect.
The slipper shattered, slicing into the sole of her foot.
Nauseous, Jelani screamed and could only watch in disbelief as tiny men sprang from the blood trickling under the broken shoe. She lost track of how many. With the biggest maybe two inches high, the men scattered into the shadows around the nearest building and disappeared.
She lifted her foot, shaking off the blood, and examined her sole to see if glass remained buried in her skin.
“Did you see that?” Iris gasped, nearly breathless. She grabbed at the wall, eyes closed for a moment.
Jelani felt faint, too, suddenly washed out. “I don’t know.”
There were no glass fragments in her foot or anywhere. The shoe had vanished. The only trace of the whole incident was dark blood, slowly drying in the sun on the sidewalk. As she watched, the cuts in her foot healed.
Iris knelt down to peer at Jelani’s foot. “There were little people. Naked little people. They ran away. I swear they did.”
“Did you get pictures?”
“I almost forgot!” Iris got up and activated the screen on her cell phone, pressed the arrow. Jelani leaned close to watch the whole thing replay in living color. “Oh. Bless. My. God,” Iris said, in her shock reverting to the male deity.
Jelani nodded. “And the horse He rode in on.”
When Jelani tries on a real glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk, it splits in half and out pour dozens of two-inch high creatures who scurry away into the shadows. As if that’s not bizarre enough, she is soon approached by two men claiming (of all things) to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen.
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Ordinary Series Book 1 by Starr Z. Davies
Genre: YA Sci-Fi Dystopian
Fans of Powerless, The Testing, Hunger Games and The Maze Runner will crave this world of iniquitous secrets, intrigue, and desire to find a place in society.
Divinic. Somatic. Psionic. Naturalist. Who will you be?
Having a superpower is ordinary. Your Power determines your job, social class, and future success.
But Ugene doesn’t have a Power. The only thing special about him is that he isn’t special at all. Ugene is Powerless.
So when the most prominent biomedical research company in the city offers Ugene a solution, he jumps at the possibility to be ordinary. All he has to do is agree to allow them to use him in their research. But the longer he stays at the research facility, the more he realizes something isn’t right.
Friendships are forged. Trust is broken built and broken. And everything Ugene thought he understood and believed is called into question.
Who can Ugene trust in his search for answers? What is he willing to sacrifice for Powers?
About the Author
STARR Z. DAVIES is a Midwesterner at heart, and lives in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. From a young age, Starr has been obsessed with superheroes like Batman and Captain America, which inspired her novel, ORDINARY. If Starr had a superpower, she would be an Empath, because she is an emotional sponge and easily relates to how others feel.
While pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Starr gained a reputation as the “Character Assassin” because she has a habit of utterly destroying her characters both emotionally and physically.
In her free time, Starr loves watching Doctor Who or anything with superheroes, reading books (duh!), writing about her favorite fantasy stories (Song of Ice and Fire, Mistborn, The Wheel of Time), and staring out the window as she dreams up more stories. Oh, and sometimes she steps out the door.
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Welcome to Lyndi’s adventurous friend Helen C. Johannes!!
When I was in high school, I had a friend who’d never ridden an escalator, never traveled more than 50 miles from home. I couldn’t fathom a life so limited in experiences. Even at the tender age of 16, I’d crossed the United States from coast to coast by car, sailed the Atlantic from NYC to Germany and back, lived in a foreign country and five US states, attended 12 schools, and earned my driver’s license in two states. Most would say I’d already lived an adventure.
Well, I was a military brat, and that was normal. Travel and moving every couple of years was so ingrained that I carried on as an adult, eventually visiting most of the continental US states plus Alaska and Hawaii, and dipping my toes/fingers in both sides of the Atlantic and both sides of the Pacific, plus the Caribbean.
After all that traveling, that apparent rootlessness, it’s hardly a surprise my author tagline is Brave men, bold women—hearts in search of home. Or that my characters find themselves on cross-country journeys. Or, ultimately, that what each of them desires is a sense of belonging, be it to a place or a group of people.
My heroine in LORD OF DRUEMARWIN is on the ultimate journey, leaving behind her family, her culture, even her landscape for the sake of the man she loves. Here’s a snippet.
LORD OF DRUEMARWIN – PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance, Crown of Tolem series
Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.
“Raell, now is not the time—”
Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.
“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”
The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—
“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”
Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.
The Prince of Val-Feyridge, Crown of Tolem #1
Contact email: email@example.com
Welcome to guest author Laura Strickland, here to talk about her new book, Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure. Take it away, Laura!
The thing I hear most often when I attend Steampunk Festivals and other events promoting my books is, “What’s Steampunk?” It’s a fair question. Many readers aren’t familiar with the genre, and feel a bit intimidated by it. But as I’ve learned since starting this wild ride, penning my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures series, there’s no easy answer. Steampunk means something different to all those who love it.
For some of us, it’s all about the gadgets. Steampunk aficionados love to tinker. They build teapot racers, life-sized robots and fully-operational automatons. Others love the costuming, and the chance to transform into someone other than their every-day selves, to walk for even a few hours on the wild side. Goggles and helmets, brass-buttoned jackets and sweeping skirts…and stepping through the looking glass.
For me, it’s all about what-might-have-been. What if the glorious age of steam heralded by the Industrial Revolution had never been superseded by electricity and the internal combustion engine? What if the Victorian age hadn’t died but merely morphed into something bigger, grander—and more twisted?
If you’d like to imagine the Steampunk world, think Victorian, with a twist. Just a little bit darker (a la Jack the Ripper), a little bit weirder, and to those of us who appreciate the strange, that much more delightful.
The characters in my Buffalo Steampunk Adventures books are real—far from perfect, they have warts and fears, and disadvantages. The city’s real too—Victorian Buffalo, city (if not time) of my birth. Buffalo makes the perfect setting for Steampunk, industrial, gritty and yes, it has an edge.
Me, I love the edge. I love the twist. If you do too, come walk the brick streets of Steampunk Buffalo with me. You may never want to leave.
BUFFALO STEAMPUNK ADVENTURES Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aauK5ob3zI
Blurb for new release: Cross Checking: A Buffalo Steampunk Adventure
When Maddie MacGillicuddy loses her job, she’s desperate to find another. Though good jobs are available at the stables, only men are hired. A big, strapping girl, she becomes Matty in her brother’s clothing. Complications arise when a city magnate, assembling a tournament hockey team, admires Matty’s skating skills and recruits “him,” with real money and the city’s reputation on the line.
Huritt Gilbert is used to battling his way through life. At the stables, he routinely endures racial slurs, sometimes striking back. He’s never met a woman like Maddie and would do anything for her, including accept the dangerous position of goalie for her team. But when competition heats up, loyalties get twisted. Will Gilbert and Maddie play for glory, or love?
“Gilbert, you should see how good Maddie skates.”
“I’d like to,” Gilbert said in his dusky voice. The dark—which somehow matched that voice—seemed to close around them. It made the encounter feel more intimate than it should.
Maddie shivered. “I’d better get Roddy home. It’s getting colder.”
“Going to snow some more, too,” Gilbert offered, not taking his eyes from Maddie’s. “I can always tell.”
He wagged his dark head. Maddie had a sudden and completely inappropriate impulse to plunge her fingers through that black hair. But he still held her fingers captive.
He told her, “I get an instinct for certain things—sometimes I just know.”
“I see. And are you never wrong?”
He shrugged those wide shoulders. “Seldom enough.”
“Come on, Maddie,” Roddy demanded, completely immune to any undertones. “I’m hungry.”
“Yes, all right.”
She tugged at her fingers again; this time Gilbert let them go. Together, they climbed up over the bank and trudged to the foot of Ferry Street.
“Do you live far?” Gilbert asked. “Can I see you home?”
“Peach Street,” Maddie told him, wishing this somehow enchanting encounter had happened on any other day than the one during which she’d destroyed her life. “I think we’ll be all right.” She hoped so.
Gilbert nodded. “Maybe I’ll see you again on the ice.”
Later she wondered if he, with all his bright instincts, had uttered a prophecy.
Multi award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Her first Scottish Historical hero, Devil Black, battled his way onto the publishing scene in 2013, and the author never looked back. Nor has she tapped the limits of her imagination. Venturing beyond Historical and Contemporary Romance, she created a new world with her ground-breaking Buffalo Steampunk Adventure series set in her native city, in Western New York. Married and the parent of one grown daughter, Laura has also been privileged to mother a number of very special rescue dogs, and is intensely interested in animal welfare. These days while she’s writing, you can always find her latest rescue, Lacy, nearby. Her love of dogs, and her lifelong interest in Celtic history, magic and music, are all reflected in her writing. Laura’s mantra is Lore, Legend, Love, and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author Web site: www.laurastricklandbooks.com
Author Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000002632317
Author Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Laura-Strickland/e/B001KHSACW/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Author Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/760146.Laura_Strickland
Laura Strickland Author @LauraSt05038951
BookBub page: https://www.bookbub.com/search?search=Laura+Strickland