TAPE TO TAPE (VENOM #3) by V. L. Locey

Tape to Tape_ebook_SMALL Buy Links:
Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Blurb:
Venom defensive coach Dot “The Shadow” West has made a nice life for herself. She’s found a new position on an up-and-coming women’s professional hockey team, her daughter is thriving, she gets along well with her fellow coaches and her players admire and respect her. She’s proud to have accomplished so much by herself. Everything is running smoothly in her life with no help from anyone, thank you very much.

Sadly, there’s one annoying glitch in Dot’s new life, and it’s in the form of good-looking Theo Grier, former Wildcat goalie and co-host of a controversial sports talk radio show based in Philadelphia, home of the Venom. When Dot loses her cool and calls in to spar with Theo on the air her structured and solitary existence takes a sudden unexpected turn. Before she can hip check the smug fool out of her life she somehow ends up working with him on a new talk radio sports program.

Can she defend her heart against the unwanted feelings Theo is stirring up? Or will she continue to guard herself, and her past decisions, against the offensive moves being made by the ex-goalie? The only man to ignite her passions – and ire – in years?

Excerpt:

“Security lets you down here?” I asked.

“I’m an old ‘Cat. They love me down here,” he informed me. I walked past him and began to pull on a mitten. “I thought maybe we could grab a cup of coffee and discuss the show next Monday.” That made me pause for a scant moment but just for a moment. I kept walking and dressing. Theo caught up to me with ease. His legs were as long as a thoroughbred’s. “Did you hear me?”

“Yes, I heard you. I then chose to ignore you.” I wrapped a red and black scarf around my neck, nodded at Eddie the security guard stationed by the staff/players entrance, and then stepped out into a freezing cold Philadelphia night.

“You plan on treating me this coldly forever?” Theo asked as I slid past him. If he thought holding the door open for me would chill me out, he was sorely mistaken.

“Probably,” I said with my eyes locked on my blue Honda Pilot. “My grandmother always said that the best way to deal with a wart was to freeze it.”

“Ouch,” Theo chuckled while keeping up with my pace easily. Each breath out clouded in front of my face. “I hope I’m just a finger wart and not an anal wart.”

“Oh, you’re an anal wart. One of the biggest ones that I have ever had the misfortune to encounter,” I parried as my Honda got closer and closer. Theo jumped ahead of me to bar my path. I gave him a lethal glare. He smiled and held out his hand. I eyed it warily as if it were an asp ready to strike.

“Coach West, I think we need to start over,” Theo said as his hand hung in the cold air. I raised my eyes from his big hand to his face. Then I gave him a strong “Please spare me” look. The man didn’t have the sense to stop trying to be sexy. A gust right off an iceberg howled around the Houseman, lifting Theo’s white scarf high into the air behind him. “It’s a pleasure to meet you in person, Coach West. I’m Theo Grier, ex-goalie and world’s largest walking anal wart.”

I snorted and glanced up at the LED parking lot light wobbling overhead.

“Could that have been a smile I saw on ‘The Shadow’s’ face?” Theo asked. I rolled my eyes then shook my head.

“It was a tiny sneeze.”

“Right, a sneeze,” he said with just a hint of skepticism. “Maybe you should shake my hand so you can get out of this nasty cold weather. A hot cup of coffee at the Black Boar Bar & Grill might be just what you need to help thaw out, Coach West.”

“For your information, Mr. Grier, I do not need to thaw out. I’m quite comfortable, toasty warm, hot even,” I replied keeping my arms crossed over my chest.

“Yes, that you are,” Theo said in a vibrating voice that had dropped just a smidgeon. There was something about his voice, the way he held himself, and that damned large hand of his still waiting for mine that made me feel a trifle too warm inside my coat.

“Flattery will get you nowhere, Mr. Grier.” I pushed around him.

“How about honesty then,” he said and then planted his massive self in front of me once again.

“You’re persistent, I’ll give you that,” I sighed.

“When I see something I want, I go after it.”

“And you want me?” I asked.

“Yeah, I want you to shake my hand and join me for coffee,” he countered smoothly. I studied his face then with a huff extended my hand, all toasty warm in my mitten, to him. His fingers curled around mine, making my hand glow like a red coal in a fire pit. We shook slowly, one could have said sensuously, but handshakes with mittens blocking the skin-to-skin can’t be sensual, can they?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
SAM_4037 V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

 

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Blog
tsú

Gone Writing Publishing Backlist Books and Upcoming Releases
Pink Pucks & Power Plays (Book One of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
A Most Unlikely Countess (Book Two of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
O Captain! My Captain! (Book Three of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
Reality Check (Book Four of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
Language of Love (Book Five of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
Final Shifts (Book Six of the To Love a Wildcat Series)
Clean Sweep (Book One of the Venom Series)
Twirly Girl (Book Two of the Venom Series)
Tape to Tape (Book Three of the Venom Series)

Coming Nov. 16…Roster Addition (a To Love a Wildcat hockey romance novella)

Torquere Press Backlist and Upcoming Releases
Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse (Part of the He Loves Me For My Brainssss anthology)
Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 2: It Came From Birmingham
Two Guys Walk Into an Apocalypse 3: He’s a Lumberjack and He’s Undead
Love of the Hunter
Goaltender`s Penalty
All I Want for Christmas – A Toms & Tabbies Tale
Early to Rise – A Toms & Tabbies Tale
Every Sunday at One
(Part of the 2013 Charity Sip Anthology)
Night of the Jackal
An Erie Halloween
An Erie Operetta
An Erie Garden Party
Back to the Garden
(Also part of the Mythologically Torqued Anthology)

Ellora’s Cave Backlist and Upcoming Releases
Bound, Boarded and Bagged
Two Man Advantage
Game Misconduct
Full Strength
Shutdown Pair
Long Change

Independent Releases
Coming October 5, 2016…On Broadway (part of the Changing on the Fly M/M hockey romance charity novella)
Coming Dec. 20, 2016…Holly & Hockey Boots (a gay erotic holiday hockey romance)

Save

GUEST POST: 11 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before BY ANDI ADAMS

Why 11? Eh, cause 10 is boring. Anyway, I just wanted to take a minute and tell you all some of the hard and wonderful things I have learned so far about being an author (I’m sure there’s more to come). It’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

1. The real work starts after the book is published. Of course, writing a book is hard. But that’s what we (authors) do. We write. However, once the book is finished and released out into the world, writers have to change their hats and become their own public relations team, which, for many of us, isn’t an easy transition. We know how to write. And generally, that’s all we want to do. But having to conduct the business end of writing and publishing is a very real (and sometimes intensely laborious) part of the job. This is the part that isn’t instinctual for many of us. It’s the part that can feel like work, but is necessary if we want to build our audience, promote our book and all the hard work it took to bring it to life, and continue our career as a writer.

2. Maintaining an alter-ego/pen name isn’t as easy as it seems. Sometimes I feel like I have multiple personality disorder and forget who I am supposed to be moment by moment. There are several reasons why I chose to write under a pen name, but I never thought about how much work it would entail to build an author platform from scratch without having the foundation of my personal social media contacts and formally published body of writing underneath me. It was actually pretty amusing to have to practice signing my pen name and not have it look like a third grader wrote it. Thankfully, I’m beginning to find my stride and learning to balance my personal life and my author life, but it’s taken a few months to pan it all out.

3. Author pay is downright pitiful. I don’t tell you this for sympathy. Trust me. Writing is a labor of love. None of us get into it for the money or the fame. I just think that it’s important to eradicate some of the misconceptions many people have about a writer’s life. The mistaken belief most people have is that all authors are making the kind of money J.K. Rowling is raking in. Okay, that may be a stretch, but the general public probably doesn’t know that most authors (especially debut authors) make a fraction of a dollar. On a ten-dollar print book, authors make about $1. On ebook copies, maybe just a little more. But the reason is because books cost a fair bit of money to edit, produce, promote, etc. And what many people also don’t know (I sure didn’t before becoming an author) is that third-party retailers like Amazon, Kobo, Nook take about 30% of a book’s retail cost right off the top. And a printer also takes their cut. It’s a lot of money flying out the door before the author even sees a cent. That’s one of the parts of the business that I personally found most shocking.

4. I’m pretty sure I’m on some sort of FBI watch list given all the crazy material I’ve researched while writing. Yeah, not much is off limits. The rate of a decomposing body. The deadliest undetectable poison. You know, the usual. My mom is pretty worried that one day I’m going to be hauled off to some secret CIA building for questioning. She talks about it often. But thankfully, I’ll probably be sitting next to a bunch of other writers in the waiting room. This is a big part of the job. To research wild things and write realistically.

5. Working from home is equally awesome and difficult. I don’t want this to sound like a complaint at all. I love working from home, in my jammies, on my comfortable couch. It rocks. I try to have a consistent schedule, but if something arises, I love that I have the flexibility to rearrange things if need be or take my work to a coffee shop if I want to get out of the house. But I’m not going to say that it doesn’t have its challenges. Distractions attack by the thousands. And there was a period of time this past winter when the weather was so terrible that I didn’t leave the house for almost two weeks. I didn’t see another human being for almost two weeks. I’m not kidding, the walls started to slowly cave in and I felt a little like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Which bring me to my next point…

6. A writing community is worth its weight in gold. Before I became an author, I valued my writing friends because we had a lot to talk about. We shared similar interests and valued many of the same things. But I never imagined that the writing community of which I am now a part, has become my lifeline. They are the best resources when I have a question about writing, publishing, research, marketing, whatever. I am friends with authors who are just starting out all the way to multi-published big wigs. And my network keeps growing and growing. The more conferences, the more writing workshops, classes, etc I attend makes that web of people increase. And then, as if by magic, this very solitary work doesn’t seem so lonely. I think the people (writers, publishers, agents, editors, publicists, etc) I have met have been the single greatest part of becoming an author. Without a doubt.

7. There are no specific work hours – all hours are work hours. Have you ever had a spark of genius hit right before bed? Or have a nugget of brilliance wake you from a peaceful slumber? Yeah, that happens a lot and many times, it can force a writer right out of bed to catch the idea before it skitters away. Inspiration may hit at 3am or 3pm. We writers tend to try to set aside specific windows of time to write, but sometimes inspiration strikes outside of those time slots and we need to jump on it before it escapes. And aside from the writing time, as mentioned in point #1, we have to make sure we spend time answering emails, managing social media accounts, and working on marketing and pr initiatives. That’s why being an author is considered a job. It isn’t a hobby, it’s work. And even though some people (friends, family, society, etc) may not fully understand the distinction, it’s true. Trying to develop a career as a writer is a full-time job that sometimes yields only part-time perks.

8. Finishing a work is so much more difficult than starting. I know, this is one of those “duh” moments. But I figured it’s worth mentioning. Nothing looks as fun and as glittery as a fresh new idea. Especially when you are in the midst of slogging through the middle of your draft and believing that your work is poo. Wouldn’t it be nice to just start something new, something exciting, something that isn’t torturing the junk out of you? Sure it would be. But being an author is about finishing what you start. Not every time, but most times. More often than not, an author’s job isn’t to start 50 projects and then let them just hangout on a hard drive somewhere. An author’s job is to work through a full plot, as difficult as it may be, in order to write a full manuscript.

9. Netflix is the devil. ::sigh:: My single greatest pleasure and source of temptation. When the writing gets hard I think to myself, “I’ll just watch an episode of whatever and then get back to work.” But then one episode turns into three seasons and I’m like, “Oh man, what happened?!? What day is it?! Have I even eaten today?!?”

10. “It’s never done, it’s only due.” This is a quote I have to remind myself of often. The tendency is to edit, and revise, and edit more, and revise and then it becomes difficult to let it go. Of course, no one can turn in a first draft and believe it’s ready for publication. But after a second, third, fourth, sometimes tenth draft, at some point, you have to just trust that you’ve put in your best work, and that it’s ready to fly free.

11. Hearing positive feedback never gets old. I am still humbled every time I see a positive review online, or receive a Facebook message or email from someone who says they love my book. It’s truly a feeling I can’t describe. Most authors (and artists, in general) spend a lot of time wallowing in self-doubt: This is terrible. Who’s going to read this? Who’s going to care? What am I doing? Does this even make sense? Even the best of the best experience this, but when it becomes apparent that your work has made an impact on even one person, that doubt begins to fade away. It’s a magical experience that I will truly never tire of.

8314065_origAuthor Bio:
Andi Adams writes, teaches, gets excited about performing random acts of kindness, invents words, and talks with strangers, as often as she can. She loves learning about the world, about others, and about herself, and uses that knowledge to write realistic fiction – everything from YA Fantasy to Women’s Lit. She has a passion for travel, for all things Harry Potter (of course!), and for her two dogs, who are also incidentally her biggest fans. The Girl in the Glass Box is Andi’s first novel. For a daily dose of crazy or to see pictures of her cute fur-babies, follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/andiadamswrites), and on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/andiadamswrites/).

GLASS BOX FINAL1
A witch. An apple. A mirror. That’s all most people think of when they recall the story of Snow White. But the truth is rarely so simple. What if the Queen wasn’t born evil and the princess wasn’t always so pure of heart? Is it possible that these two women could have ended up in one another’s place?

The Girl in the Glass Box tells the story of Agrippine and Genevieve, two women who are not all that different, but who quickly learn through a series of choices, encounters, and devastating losses that the course of their fates can change in an instant. Through the influences of the people they love and lose, both are redefined as their stories head for a different sort of happily-ever-after.

http://www.fireflyhillpress.com/books–authors.html
https://www.createspace.com/6286950

https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/the-girl-in-the-glass-box
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1124086064?ean=2940156795796

Release Day–WHAT’S LEFT OF ME

59a4a-whatsleftofme_amazon

Get your Kindle or paperback copy at Amazon today!
Also available at Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au, and Amazon.de.

Paperback also available at Barnes & Noble.

What’s Left of Me (The Firebird Trilogy, Book#2) Now Available for Pre-Order!

Whats Left Of Me PREORDER

Reserve your copy at Amazon today!
Also available at Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au, and Amazon.de.

DRIVING ME MAD by Lindsay Paige

13584763_835454906591345_3396583496452005475_o Amazon: http://amzn.com/dp/B01DWFMDPO/
iBooks: http://apple.co/29nK0oLap

Blurb:
He was my therapist.

She was my client.

He’s the person I lean on and turn to.

She’s the person who brings me relief when there seems to be none.

He makes me smile and laugh when anxiety and depression consume me.

She helps me breathe when depression is choking me.

I don’t know how to live without him.

I don’t know how to be honest with her.

Are we driving each other mad?

Interview with J. L. Gribble, author of the Steel Empires series

_Steel Magic-Jacket.indd About the Book

The Steel Empires series is a very different sort of urban fantasy series, with elements of alternate history and epic adventure. The second installment, Steel Magic, will be released in hardcopy and ebook on July 6! Until then, don’t miss out on the beginning of the story while the first book, Steel Victory, is on sale for 99 cents.

Funerals are usually the end of the story, not the beginning.

Newly graduated warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas find themselves the last remaining mages in the city when a mage school teacher mysteriously falls ill and dies. But taking over the school themselves isn’t in the cards. They’re set to become professional mercenaries—if they make it through the next 18 months as journeymen first.

The debate over whether to hunt mutated monsters in the Wasteland or take posh bodyguard jobs is put on hold when a city elder hires them to solve the mystery of the disappearing mages. Toria and Kane’s quest brings them to the British colonial city of New Angouleme, where their initial investigation reveals that the problem is even greater than they feared.

But when a friend is kidnapped, they’ll have to travel to the other side of the globe to save her, save themselves, and save magic itself.
***
What drives you to write?

It’s a bit cliché to say that you should write what you want to read, but in my case it’s true. I kept reading the same urban fantasy tropes over and over again and wanted to find something different. Now I’ve created a fantasy world with such room to grow that I keep coming up with different adventures for my main characters.

What’s the hardest thing about balancing writing with the rest of your life?

It always seems like my productivity periods are feast or famine. At least, it certainly seems like all of the external opportunities come my way when I’m deep in the depths of finishing a novel or cranking out the edits. At that point, the hardest thing becomes learning when to say no.

Do you have a special writing place? What’s in it? What can’t be in it?

I have an amazing home office that I practically live in for editing and marketing work. But for some reason, it’s really hard for me to actually produce words there. It’s not even an access to the internet thing, because the first thing I do when I get to one of my multitude of local writing spots (coffee shops and cafes) is turn on the WiFi. Perhaps it’s just knowing that I can’t go home until I get my daily word goal finished!

Do you write to music, or do you like silence/white noise/coffee shop? Why?

I have a carefully curated Pandora station that features things from alt rock to instrumental covers of other popular songs to video game themes. Oddly, this is also the same station that I use while running! I can’t do silence, and as a writer, I have a tendency to get distracted by other people’s conversations to gather story fodder.

Be honest—do you love or hate social media? Somewhere in between? Why?

Definitely somewhere in the middle! I accept that some aspects of it are a necessary evil, so it was mostly a matter of finding strategies that I could commit for each platform. So Facebook gets cool pictures and links I stumble across, labeled as “free story idea,” and pictures of grammatical or spelling errors in the wild that I point to as “job security” (in reference to my professional career as an editor). Instagram gets mostly pictures of my adorable cats, because I’m pretty sure pictures of cats is how the internet is powered, and I make a point of throwing whatever book I read next to the nearest cat and posting a picture of that, too. I’m not on Twitter as effectively as I could be, so that mostly gets links to my updated blog and the book/cat picture combos. I think the important thing is that I’ve found what works for me, and I’m trying to stick to it.

Do you have a favorite book? Or author? Or genre? Or is it too hard to pick?

Favorite book: The Last Herald-Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey

Favorite author: Catherine Asaro, especially her Skolian Empire space opera series.

Favorite genre: Urban fantasy. Write what you love and all that!

What do you think about MFA programs?

I don’t think that you need one in order to be an effective or accomplished author. I attended Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program straight out of undergrad (it was still an MA program back then) because my mother was convinced that I would be a waitress for the rest of my life if I didn’t go to graduate school. Oddly enough, I had never been a waitress before then, either… The program taught me a lot about the craft of writing and how to budget my time and energy while working full-time.

Do you have a favorite conference or convention that you go to? What makes it awesome?

I’ve had the privilege of being a returning panelist at Confluence in Pittsburgh for a few years now. It’s a more literary-themed SF/F convention, but there’s still something for everyone. Though literary-themed, it’s a great mix of both fans and other professionals who are all interested in learning about new books and sharing their favorites. It’s at the end of July, so there’s still time to register if you want join me this year!

Recommend a how-to book, website, or an organization with good writer resources.

My go-to book for the past few months is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. It has definitely helped me get away from always defaulting to facial expressions to show what my characters are feeling. It’s priced very reasonably considering how much I’ve gotten in return!

What’s the next project?

My goal is always to get the next book in my editor’s hands within a week of the previous being released. Right now I’m finalizing line edits for book 3 in the Steel Empires series. I also have book 4 outlined by scene and am ready to launch into writing!
***
Gribble photo color About the Author

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel, Steel Victory, was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter), and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).
***
Steel Magic pre-order: https://smile.amazon.com/Steel-Magic-J-L-Gribble/dp/1935738852/
Steel Victory sale: https://smile.amazon.com/Steel-Victory-J-L-Gribble/dp/1935738739/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jlgribblewriter/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannaedits/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hannaedits
Confluence: http://parsec-sff.org/confluence/
The Emotion Thesaurus: https://smile.amazon.com/Emotion-Thesaurus-Writers-Character-Expression/dp/1475004958/

Cover Reveal: LOVE, ALWAYS

Sometimes the line between love and lust is blurred by more than just blind infatuation.”
★★COVER REVEAL★★★
Coming July 15th

Love, Always: An Anthology of Romantic Short Stories
Authors: S. Valentine, A. Gorman, Jennifer Loring, A.L. Vincent, Haley Allison, Jennifer Allis Provost, Michelle Jo Quinn, Debbie De Louise, Erin Lee, J.A. Kerr, Michael Ross, Natalina Reis, Lilly James, Alison Mello, Gabriela Cabezut, C.J. Laurence, Camille Taylor
Stock Photo via Adobe Stock
★ SYNOPSIS 
Sometimes the line between love and lust is blurred by more than just blind infatuation.
Love comes in many different forms, at different times, and in many ways. Each new relationship creates their own story as they risk everything and go along for the ride.
Love, Always is the perfect recipe for romance. Sixteen authors have created a collection of stories filled with desire ranging from hot and steamy, to sweet and sentimental. Whether they are what you expect or not, we guarantee a love filled with laughter and passion just for you. The only question that remains is, we can’t control who we fall for…so who will capture your heart?
Love, Always.
***Only available as a giveaway/competition prize. Be on the lookout!***

★★MEGA GIVEAWAY★★★
Enter here for a chance to win one of TEN copies of the Love, Always anthology!


#CoverReveal for WHAT’S LEFT OF ME (THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY #2)

WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Jennifer Loring
The Firebird Trilogy, Book #2
Cover Designer: WICKED BY DESIGN
— SYNOPSIS —

Recovering from years of living the superstar hockey life wasn’t easy, but now Aleksandr Volynsky finally has everything…

He’s married to the love of his life, expecting a daughter, and has a new job as an assistant coach with his old team, the Buffalo Gladiators. His happiness is short lived, however, when a sexual assault allegation surfaces, and Alex is forced to cooperate with an investigation for a crime he didn’t commit.

Stephanie Hartwell is juggling her dream job with marriage and motherhood, but she’s not convinced she’s doing any of it well…

Stephanie’s stress level goes from bad to worse when she’s diagnosed with a serious illness. Battling declining health and the critics who question her commitment to Alex in light of the allegation, she makes a decision that could change their relationship forever.

Alex is afraid he’s about to lose everything—especially when he sees Stephanie’s friend kiss her…

Devastated that his life is spiraling out of control again, Alex turns to his friend, Natasha, a Russian pop star. Convinced that Stephanie and her friend Brandon are having an affair, Alex resumes his self-destructive behavior.

What Alex doesn’t know is Stephanie has been conducting a secret investigation of her own. She learns the truth behind the sexual assault—a truth no one, especially Alex, expects.

With everything now out in the open, can Stephanie and Alex commit to a fresh start for the sake of their daughter, or will the ghosts of their pasts finally tear apart everything they have left?

— THE FIREBIRD TRILOGY 
BOOK 1: FIREBIRD: http://amzn.to/2963z3S
★✩★ MEET THE AUTHOR ★✩★
Jennifer Loring’s short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies. DarkFuse published her novella Conduits in 2014, and her debut novel, Those of My Kind, was published by Omnium Gatherum in May 2015. Jenn is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association and holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives in Philadelphia, PA, with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds. 

ESSENTIAL MAGIC by Cara McKinnon

Essential Magic by Cara McKinnon

essential

Essential Magic

The Fay of Skye Book One

A woman driven to excel. A man ashamed of his past. A desire that could lead them to bliss…or peril.

Etta Mae Cook, a mountain witch from Appalachia, arrives in London in 1895. Her goal: to study magic. But she steps off the train and into a dangerous world of politics, decadence, and power. Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales, and the Fay Clan are waging a silent war. In the balance: the future of spellcraft in the kingdom. Etta’s lineage and magical power make her an asset – or a threat – to all three formidable forces.

Her choices skew when she meets Malcolm Seward, a mage of the Fay Clan. He once held a prominent role in society, but a tragic mistake forced him to flee into obscurity. His attraction to Etta draws him back into the fray, but though she’s drawn to him in return, she didn’t come to England for desire.

Despite her intentions, their passion flares, and Malcolm falls for her. Now, Etta must choose: love, or ambition? Either path could mean the renewal — or the destruction — of British sorcery. If she follows her heart, will she doom their magic?

–EXCERPT–
Mal rounded the corner of the foyer and his first boot-fall struck the marble floor in sync with his mother’s entrance. The synchronicity resonated inside of him, and he almost closed his Sight. Sometimes keeping it open made things seem more symbolic and important. Mages had gone mad, using the Sight too often or too long. But he needed to find out what was, even now, pulling at the edges of his magic.

Mother looked startled to see him. She’d been out when he arrived, but he would have expected Father to tell her he was coming.

“Malcolm.” She extended a hand to him, and he took it, surprised that she hadn’t embraced him. She wasn’t the most ebullient or demonstrative of persons, but she usually put her arms around him and kissed his cheek after a long absence. Her stern expression, and the surface emotions that roiled across her aura, revealed consternation rather than welcome. “You’re home.”

“Hello, Mother,” Mal said, and squeezed her fingers.

“Your father was supposed to have you meet me in Scotland. Now is not a good time for you to be here.” Her words were low, but distinct.

“He said I’m to go with you to Scotland, but he wants me doing the rounds of the Marriage Mart before and after. I’m to find a chit to wed, or else.”

His mother stiffened. Then, over her shoulder, he saw the reason for her reticence. And the reason for the surge of heat, magic, and passion that had nearly crumpled him to the grass.

The woman was not what would be termed an exquisite, or what his grandfather’s generation would have styled ‘a diamond of the first water.’ There was something too primal in her features and her bearing, and her aura shimmered with power. She was a sunset on a mountain peak, or the eerie colors in the sky in the far north of Scotland. She was a vein of gold still glittering inside the rock, her treasure clear but held close, in her own keeping.

She would never belong to anyone but herself, and that made him long for her to share that self with him—in every conceivable way.

His mother noticed the indiscreet admiration, and the way the woman returned his stare. She frowned, and he knew why. Mal was supposed to avoid magical entanglements. But this woman might prove too much temptation for him to resist.

Mal stepped toward the woman and was halted by a hand on his arm. Why was Mother being so formal? He chafed at the delay and waited for the introduction.

Mother’s tone was brittle, the words sharp, clipped, and forced. “Miss Cook, allow me to introduce my son, Lord Cuthbert Seward.” Mal frowned at the use of his hated first name, but returned his features to a genial smile when he bowed to Miss Cook.

“And this is Miss Etta Mae Cook.” She said the name as though the sounds of it were acid, burning her tongue.

Miss Cook curtsied. There was nothing precisely wrong with the curtsey, except that she didn’t look easy doing it. Something about the way she held herself said she wasn’t a woman meant to bow. Her motion caused ripples in the magical currents of the room, and the aroma of rich, fertile earth—like a field plowed and ready for planting—surged in his nostrils. The flavors of honeysuckle and salt cascaded over his tongue.

“I’m pleased to meet you, Miss Cook.” From up close, he could see that her eyes were dark brown, with little flecks of green and gold glittering in the depths. Her magic—so full of potential, so warm and alive—pulled at him, strong and inexorable. Was this what Ian felt like when Viola was near?

He closed his Sight, suddenly desperate not to see her brilliance, not to taste and smell and feel her.

“And I you, Lord Cuthbert.”

Malcolm winced. “My mother introduced me that way because it’s my first name, but everyone uses my middle name, Malcolm.”

“Oh,” she said, and the sound came out flatter, and higher pitched, than her previous vowels. Almost as if another woman had spoken entirely. In the same faster accent, she said, “I didn’t mean to offend, Lord Malcolm.” This was her true voice, and it wrapped around his ears and his brain. A purely physical reaction, but one that woke his magic as though he were a teenage boy again, feeling the first swells of puberty and power.

“You didn’t,” he assured her. He wasn’t offended, but his magic was slipping out of his control. He’d never felt such a sudden and overwhelming urge to merge his magic with another’s. But he couldn’t. Would never do that again. He clamped down on his magical senses even harder than usual, dampening the sensations that were as natural to him as the pressure of air on another person’s skin.

He took refuge in humor. “And there’s no need to Lord me. I don’t care for the courtesy title or the first name. It’s my father’s fault. He read too much Browning.” He smiled at her, and won a small tilt at the corner of her lips in response. Those lips were far too enticing, and made him want to draw her close and discover how well they fit against his. He could fight the magical pull, but what about desire?

She looked away from him, at his mother, and the smile faded.

Mother stood with a frozen expression of polite interest on her face. But beneath the bland exterior, he she seemed ashamed. Or perhaps afraid. He wished Viola was here. With his senses dampened, he couldn’t read Mother’s aura, and he’d never been the best at interpreting those anyway.

Mal returned his attention to Miss Cook. It wasn’t exactly good manners, but he was curious, so he asked, “What brings you to our home, Miss Cook?”

She continued to stare at his mother, so he asked, “Mother, am I missing something?”

“Miss Cook will be our guest for a short time,” she answered. “She is a…distant relative, through my great-grandmother Lilias.”

Malcolm started. Lilias Fay, first Duchess of Fay, was the most prominent member of his mother’s clan—a great seeress and witch who had been instrumental in the war against Napoleon.

“How are you related to Lilias?”

“My great-grandmother was Lilias’ youngest daughter, Marianne.”

“So you’re my…” he paused, counting the generations.

“Some kind of distant cousin.” Her expression was pleasant enough, and her tone indicated an attempt at levity, but the humor was tempered by wariness. “We’re barely related at all. And I wouldn’t impose on your family except…” Her voice trailed off. There was so much pain behind her eyes, but she steadied herself. “Except, my mother died. It was her last wish that I find the rest of the Fay clan to finish my training. I can’t study in America because I’m from the South.”

He’d heard that magic was outlawed in the southern United States after their civil war, and he’d even met a few Americans who’d come to England to train, but no one had ever approached the family directly. Clan Fay’s sort of magic was distinctly out of fashion.

Mal eyed his mother, who still looked like she had stepped in something rank and was trying to pretend the scent was rosewater. “Are you going to train her?”

“I will test her, but I will not make any determinations until after Viola’s babes are born.”

The twins would be born within a fortnight. Since his father had insisted that he go with the rest of the magically-gifted members of the family to the birthing, he and Mother would leave in a day or so to travel to the Highlands.

Magically-gifted family members, Mal realized, now included Etta Mae Cook.

Mal grinned at his mother. If he had to be miserable on this trip, so could she. “Why doesn’t Miss Cook come with us to Scotland?”

Essential Magic is available now at the following retailers:

Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook
There will also be print versions available at Amazon.
If you like what you read, please consider reviewing the book wherever you purchase it. Reviews are one of the best ways to support an author, because the number of reviews is directly proportional to how much visibility that author receives from the retailer. Even a short “I liked it!” counts. Thank you!

cara Cara McKinnon writes fantasy romances because her heart pumps equal parts magic and passion. Her love of history caused her to set her books in an alternate Victorian era, with surprisingly few changes from the real world. She lives on the East Coast of the US with her husband, two kids, and an oversized lapdog named Jake.
Visit Cara online:
http://caramckinnon.com
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest
RSVP here to the Facebook release party. Answer some trivia questions or simply say hi, and be entered in a drawing for a paperback copy of Essential Magic!

Subscribe to Cara’s newsletter to receive special subscriber-only extras, like snippets from upcoming stories, “deleted scenes” from published work, behind-the-scenes information, and chances to receive swag and even free copies of my books.

THE TROUBLE WITH ANTLERS by A. J. Culey

Pre-Order the eBook on Amazon

The Rack of Destruction
by Norris Raccoon

TheTroubleWithAntlers_MEDIUMIt’s no secret in this community that the greatest danger to all shifters everywhere is the possibility of humans discovering our existence. For centuries, we have protected this information, guarded our secret and kept the humans in the dark. Now, for the first time in Shifterville history, two humans will be living in our town.

Despite dire predictions and against insurmountable odds, the town is ready for the humans’ arrival next week. Indeed, even our esteemed high school principal, Steve Armadillo, managed to perform miracles this summer. The entire town, high school included, has been human-proofed.

This being the case, we should expect to be able to breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, tensions mount as one teen demonstrates again and again that he is unable to control his unruly rack. Attempts to interview Melvin Moose have failed, as he swiftly ran in the opposite direction anytime he was approached. Other residents of Shifferville have much to say, however.

“He just can’t control that ridiculous rack,” Laney Siamese, a classmate of Melvin’s, complained. “It seems every time I turn around, there’s Melvin, knocking over something or someone. I mean, how hard is it to just stay human, for heaven’s sake?”

“He’s going to be the end of us all,” Cora Jaguar, owner of Shiffer Grocery predicted.

Bets are already being placed around town, with odds of 1,000 to one in favor of Melvin’s antlers revealing our secret. Other possibilities were suggested, including the inclusion of tuna-flavored ice cream at the parlor in town (the Siamese family refused to remove it from the menu, insisting that humans eat tuna as well) and the decision to allow students to continue dressing out in fur in P.E. Of course, these suggestions came from Melvin Moose’s best friend, Paulie Porcupine, and Melvin’s father, Jacob Moose, both of whom appear to be in the minority when it comes to predicting how long our secret will be safe with Melvin’s rack on the loose.

Overall, the opinion of the town is clear: Melvin Moose’s rack will destroy the secret shifters have guarded for centuries. Buckle up, Shifterville, it’s going to be a rocky ride!

Norris Raccoon is a reporter for The Shifferville Times (formerly known as The Daily Shifter).

Amy & T-Rab - BLUE HAIR A.J. Culey was not born a shifter, much to her dismay. Despite her limitations as a human, she enjoys spending time with cats, bunnies and other animals. She hasn’t met a shifter yet, nor has she had any antlers spontaneously appear in any classroom she’s taught in, but she hasn’t given up hope that it might one day happen. In the meantime, she has fun writing about the possibilities.

Author Links:

http://www.ajculey.com
http://www.facebook.com/ajculey.author
http://www.twitter.com/tyrabbisaurus
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15139048.A_J_Culey