Saturday Excerpt- Updrift by Erinn Stevens

UPDRIFT Icon 200 x 300(From chapter 6 in Updrift)

The normally tranquil Blake household had transformed into an upscale frat house of sorts with the presence of more than a dozen truly beautiful young men. They were everywhere, milling around and lounging, looking as if a modeling agency had sent them over for a retro, Ivy League fashion shoot. Every single one of them oozed charm, vitality, and—Kate could think of no better word for it—virility. Several stood around a flat screen television to watch qualifying races for the U.S. Olympic men’s swim team. They seemed amused.

She stood wide-eyed inside the front door, not sure she wanted to navigate this group to find Carmen. Maybe she could just hand off the envelope and apologize later to her for being in a hurry. Her greeter closed the door behind her, however. The sound startled her. What happened next unnerved her.

“Hi, I’m Luke Hokeman.” The door opener extended his hand. “Catherine Sweeting,” she replied. She had no idea why she gave her formal name, which was used almost exclusively by her mother when she was in trouble. In fact, she felt like she was in trouble. She mustered up enough bravado to extend her hand.

Instead of shaking it as she expected, Luke turned it so he held it almost to his chest, and she panicked as she thought he might raise her hand to his lips. Did guys still do that? He placed his other hand gently around her wrist, she could swear to God, to check her pulse. “Are you home for summer break from college, Catherine?” He smiled. Distracted and more than a little terrified, she dropped her envelope, which attracted a different man to her side, bending to retrieve it. Yet another of the party came to stand behind her, placing his hand proprietarily at the small of her back. “Come in and sit down.” She broke out into a sweat.

“Hoke, Libby, Gins—back off and give the poor girl some air.” Kate felt weak with relief as she saw Gabe bounding lightly down the stairs. “Hi, Kate.”

He took her hand from Luke and tucked it through his arm, a gesture that would have been remarkable and strange in any other situation. He grabbed her envelope and led them firmly away from the front door and its trio of male sirens. “And no, she’s not home from college, Hoke,” Gabe threw over his shoulder. “She’s seventeen, which is I think what you were getting at. Too young for yo-oo-oo-ou,” he sang, grinning down at Kate.

Join me next week, when we meet another author. ~Tina

Saturday Excerpt – Bast’s Warrior by Janet Walters

basts-warriorChapter 1

Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them. She wanted to be financially independent. She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins. And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.

The last desire brought memories of this morning’s quarrel.  The money squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month was gone. “Luci, why?”

“You don’t understand,” Luci screamed.

True. She didn’t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums. Tira’s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister. And the words she’d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts. “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” A shudder rumbled through her body. She hadn’t meant those words. As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.

With a sigh she turned back to the museum display. The Egyptian artifacts awed her. For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.

The dream hovered beyond her grasp. Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim. Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors. Those choices had been beyond her financially. She sucked in a breath. Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.

A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over. She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift at a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister. Once again, flash moments from the morning’s quarrel exploded in Tira’s thoughts. She’d been so upset she’d missed her morning martial arts session at the local center.

Tira cast her dreaming self aside and donned the role of practical sister. She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day. Heat shimmered from the sidewalk. The air hung heavy and filled with the odors of the city and the noises of traffic. She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.

Ten days to dream. Ten days to walk the halls of the museum. Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones.She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.

Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned. In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows. She hurried past. On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered. She sucked in a breath and held her head high. For all her twenty three years she’d avoided the gangs. As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.

Get a life, she wanted to scream.

When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled. A hand caught her arm. Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley. “Get your hands off me.”

“Don’t go home,” he whispered. “Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.”

She saw a keen intelligence in the man’s dark eyes. Who was he? He wasn’t as old as she had imagined either. “Why?”

“Your sister’s dead. Cops’ll be looking for you. They heard about the fight.”

Tira’s stomach clenched. She blinked away a rush of tears. Though hearing about her sister’s death wasn’t unexpected another dream shattered. There would be no rehab for Luci. “Junkies O.D. every day,” she said.

“She was murdered.”

A chill slithered down Tira’s spine. A rush of acid burned her throat. What? Why? Who? Keeping her eyes on the ground she inched away from him.

“Murder. Murder.” The murmured word spread through the crowd gathered on the sidewalk and stung like attacking wasps.

The EMTs wheeled a gurney from the building. When Tira saw the body bag strapped to the frame her nails bit into her palms. Despite the heat of the day she felt chilled. A wave of guilt made her knees buckle. She stuffed her fist against her mouth to keep from crying aloud.

What now, she wondered. The apartment was a crime scene. Until the cops finished their investigation she wouldn’t be allowed inside. An officer stepped from the building. “More along, folks. There’s nothing to see here.” He stepped from the stoop. “Anyone seen her sister? We have some questions for her.”

Join me next week when we meet another author. ~Tina

Saturday Excerpts by Nicole Evelina

Daughter of Destiny eBook Cover LargeFrom Daughter of Destiny

Prologue

 

I am Guinevere.

I was once a queen, a lover, a wife, a mother, a priestess, and a friend. But all those roles are lost to me now; to history, I am simply a seductress, a misbegotten woman set astray by the evils of lust.

This is the image painted of me by subsequent generations, a story retold thousands of times. Yet, not one of those stories is correct. They were not there; they did not see through my eyes or feel my pain. My laughter was lost to them in the pages of history.

I made the mistake of allowing the bards to write my song. Events become muddled as ink touches paper, and truth becomes malleable as wax under a flame. Good men are relegated to the pages of inequity, without even an honest epitaph to mark their graves.

Arthur and I were human, no more, no less, though people choose to see it differently. We loved, we argued, we struggled, all in the name of a dream, a dream never to be fulfilled. Camelot is what fed the fires that stirred us to do as we did. History calls it sin, but we simply called it life.

The complexity of living has a way of shielding one’s eyes from the implications of one’s role. That is left for others to flesh out, and they so often manipulate it to suit their own needs. To those god-awful religious, I have become a whore; Arthur the victim of a fallen Eve; Morgan, a satanic faerie sent to lead us all astray. To the royalty, we have become symbols of the dreams they failed to create and Arthur is the hero of a nation, whereas to me, he was simply a man. To the poor, we are but a legend, never flesh and blood, a haunting story to be retold in times of tribulation, if only to inspire the will to survive.

We were so much more than mute skeletons doomed to an eternity in dust and confusion. We were people with a desire for life, a life of peace that would be our downfall. Why no one can look back through the years and recognize the human frailty beneath our actions, I will never understand. Some say grace formed my path; others call it a curse. Whatever it was, I deserve to be able to bear witness before being condemned by men who never saw my face.

It ends now. I will take back my voice and speak the truth of what happened. So shall the lies be revealed and Camelot’s former glory restored. Grieve with me, grieve for me, but do not believe the lies which time would sell. All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.

 

From Been Searching for You:Been Searching for You eBook Cover Large

To Whom It May Concern,

I think I wronged the love goddess in a previous life. How else do you explain that I’ve written you so many letters yet we’ve still not met? Everyone I know is either married or in a committed relationship, and here I am, pen in hand, writing to someone I can’t even prove exists.

There’s an old Chinese folktale that says soul mates are connected from birth by an invisible red thread and that they can feel one another’s emotions, no matter the distance. It is this connection that eventually enables them to find one another. I believe it too.

As I write, I find myself trying to imagine your face, grasping at flashes of memory from dreams, wondering what name to voice in my prayers that you will soon be by my side. The irony is that by the time you read this, the color of your eyes will be second nature to me and your name will roll off my tongue as easily as my sister’s.

So please, my unknown love, hold tight to your red cord and follow it like a lifeline into the safe harbor of my arms.

“Are you ready yet, birthday girl?” Mia’s impatient voice broke through my romantic reverie, scattering my lovelorn thoughts.

“Almost,” I yelled back as I scanned what I had written. I wanted to say so much more, but Mia wouldn’t wait. But there was one more thought I couldn’t let go unsaid.

I just want you to know that I haven’t given up on you. I don’t trust easily, but I trust in you. I’m still waiting, though not so patiently anymore.

All my love,

Annabeth

The note was short compared to other years’ letters, but it would be after midnight when we returned home, so this would have to be enough. My one rule in this long-standing tradition—I’d been writing these letters since I was sixteen—was that the letter to my soul mate had to be written on my actual birthday. I folded the paper, slipped it inside the matching envelope, and licked the flap, then I pressed down to seal it.

Mia stuck her head in the door just as I drew the big numeral on the front. It matched my age—thirty-four. She shook her head, making her flaming tresses bounce. “You and your letters. If you two don’t meet soon, he’s going to have to buy an extra plane ticket on your honeymoon just for that box.” She nodded toward the big square hatbox that functioned as a hope chest for my letters to my future husband.

I slipped the newest letter in front, envelope awaiting further decoration. “Yes, but it’s romantic, don’t you think?”

“For a young girl, maybe, but you’re well past that, hon.” Her tone softened when I made a face. “You’ve got plenty of declarations of love. Maybe this should be the last one. You know, new year, new traditions?” She held up a shot glass filled with golden liquid. “Come on. We need to get this party started.”

Still scowling, I took the glass and downed the tequila with a small shiver. “If you say so.”

As I locked up, I cast one last glance at the box on my desk. She had a point about growing up, but I had no intention of giving up my beloved letters. It was only one each year, and it meant something to me. Those weren’t just letters; together, they were my gift to my future husband. Old-fashioned? Maybe, but it was me. Anyone who wanted to marry me would appreciate that. I smiled with a sudden thought. It was good I didn’t want to marry Mia.

If you are in the Chicago area today, Nicole will be signing at the The Spring Fling 2016.  Book signing will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 3-5pm at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, IL.   ~Tina

 

Saturday Excerpt – A Highland Ruby by Brenda B. Taylor

AHighlandRubyHe dozed and dreamed of Flora in the emerald gown again. Now her waist-length hair matched the deep red color of the large ruby hanging from a gold chain. The ruby and gold glinted in shards of green light flashing around her and in her eyes. How lovely she appeared, with flawless white skin, ruby-red hair, and eyes to match the emerald gown. Gavin’s heart near burst with her beauty. While he watched, Flora removed the ruby from her neck, dipped the stone three times in a crystal goblet of clear water. The water turned red as the ruby.

She held the goblet out to him. “Take this and drink. The ruby’s water will drive the evil away and make you weel.”

“Aye. I desire to be well.” Gavin reached for the beautiful crystal chalice now filled with red water.

Just as his hand touched the chalice, a large boot kicked his foot. Flora disappeared with the red, healing water. Gavin’s eyes popped open. He remained still, grabbing the sgian dubh from his boot with one hand and the pistol from his belt with the other.

 

Join me next week when we meet author Linda Rae Sande!  ~Tina

 

 

 

 

Saturday Excerpt – Wayward Soul by Glenn Maynard

Wayward Soul front coverExcerpt from Wayward Soul:

“I bet you have your hands tied with twin boys,” Brenda said.

Wendy made a whistling sound, tilting her head forward so her

hair flopped out of her bun and hung where her face had been. She

then flipped her head back until her face returned, and her eyes

grew in size. “Let’s just say it’s a full-time job.” Wendy looked

down at the boys who were just sitting and giggling quietly in their

chairs as they played patty cake, unaware that the conversation

was now on to them. “It was an extremely difficult birth.” She

glanced over to the twins again as she said this.

“She almost didn’t make it,” Carl broke in.

“I made it, though,” Wendy replied. “They are identical twins,

if you couldn’t tell. Billy and Willy. The only way that we can tell

them apart is that Billy has a bottom tooth that is slightly

crooked.”

“They’re twins and you named them Billy and Willy?” Carter

asked. Brenda then shot him a look. His follow-up question earned

him an elbow to the ribs. “Isn’t that the same name?”

“No,” said Carl. “One is Billy and the other is Willy.”

“Yeah, but they’re both a nickname for William,” Carter said.

Brenda’s look evolved into a laser. She could not believe Carter

was having this conversation, but he just wanted to know the

reason they named their twins virtually the same thing.

“We don’t look at it like that,” said Wendy. “We look at it like

Billy and Willy are two different names, and you’re actually the

only one to challenge us on it.” She laughed a short laugh.

“Those names are adorable,” Brenda said. “Just look at them

playing Patty Cake.”

Carter watched them interacting, then said, “Hi Billy and

Willy!”

The clock in the room seemed to stop. Billy and Willy still had

their hands connected, but they both turned to look at the man

who just called out their names. Carter looked around at the

others at the table, but all eyes were on Billy and Willy.

He wasn’t even getting a smile out of the twins. They appeared

to be sizing Carter up. They were staring right into his eyes

without as much as a blink. Carter noticed that everything about

them was the same; everything, including their blue eyes and

blonde hair, right down to the bowl-cut trim. Head shape: check.

Eye shape: check. Body size and shape: check and check.

Personality: check. Hell, even name: check.

Nothing was different. Carter was a bit taken aback, and smiled

out of nervousness. Finally the tension of the room dissipated

when the twins smiled back at Carter. Their wide grins were cute,

but they also revealed identical smiles. Missing was the identifying

bottom tooth. Carter could not find one difference between the

two.

Join me next Thursday as we meet author Brenda B. Taylor. 

~Tina

Saturday Excerpt – Rob’s Rebellion by Margaret Fieland

Robs Rebellion 200x300Here is the blurb, followed by an excerpt:

Blurb

Colonel Rob Walker always does his duty, even when it means risking  shaky relationship with his family. When he’s ordered to bring the treaty negotiations between the Terran Federation and the Aleyni to a successful conclusion, he’s determined to do just that, even when both sides would rather he fail. How can Rob pull off a miracle and avoid a war, one where both sides could be destroyed?

Excerpt

“Laura? Carol? Where is everybody?” Rob drew in a deep breath.

Footsteps clattered on the fake wood floors. “Carol took the children to Fellowship. I didn’t want to go.” Tear streaks marked the dust accumulated on Laura’s face. “I want to go home. I don’t want to live in this dump.”

“This is home,” Rob grumbled. “I’m commander of this base. This is my posting. Why would you expect me to take us back to New Oregon?”

“You might have refused the posting.” Laura’s mouth formed a straight line in her oval face. “You can resign from the Federation Guard.”

“Resign? What would I do then? Come on, Laura, be realistic. I’ve got two wives and four children to support. We wouldn’t even have the price of tickets home for us on a commercial star ship” What the blazes would become of his career if he quit? His father’s sneering face rose in his mind. His father continued to predict Rob’s career would crash and burn. He clenched his fist. He’d do anything to prove his father wrong.

“Surely you can find other work.” Laura swiped a hand across her eyes. “Everyone here hates us.”

“For God’s sake, Laurie, I’m a fifty year old career colonel. The Guard is my life. My career. What else would I do?” Rob stomped into the living area and over to a small section devoted to cooking. “What the hell is there to eat around here?”

Laura shrugged and dropped into a chair at a small table. “Check for yourself.” She glared at Rob, her arms crossed over her chest. “You can starve for all I care.”

Rob pulled out another chair and sat opposite her. “We’re not going home, er, back to New Oregon, and that’s final. Relations between the base and the Aleyni are touchy enough. They liked Reynolds, and I arrested him for treason. The treaty with the Federation is up for renegotiation. If the Guard sent the wrong officer, the Aleyni could refuse negotiation altogether. I’m not going to be the one who is responsible for starting a war.” He was sick of defending himself for doing his duty. He was a soldier, blast it. He might not be much of a commander, but no one was going to fault him for shirking his duty.

“You’re being melodramatic,” Laura protested.

“Maybe, but we’re staying here.” Rob stood and jerked open the cold store, which held nothing but some juice. “Come on, we’re going to the market. We’ll find someplace to eat.” He extended a hand to Laura and pulled her to her feet.

“There’s nothing here and nowhere to go.”

“Not on the base, but in Aleyne City.” Rob pulled out his pocket comp and began searching for Restaurants, Aleyne City.

“Not until I wash up.” Laura glared at him and stumped off down the hall.

Rob sighed and lowered himself into a chair to wait

 

Bio:

Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has been around art and music all her life.  Her poems and stories have appeared in journals such as  Turbulence Magazine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011.  She is the author of  Relocated, Geek Games,  Broken Bonds, and Rob’s Rebellion published by MuseItUp Publishing , and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book is due out later this year.

Links:

Rob’s Rebellion on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Robs-Rebellion-Novels-Margaret-Fieland-ebook/dp/B0198UXBF8/

Rob’s Rebellion on publisher’s website:

https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/series/robs-rebellion-detail

Join me next Thursday, when I interview author Glenn Maynard. 

~Tina

 

Saturday SExcerpt – Tower in the Woods by Tara Quan

Below is the short version of Tara Quan’s Tower in the Woods, Her first book in the Undead Fairy Tale Series. You can find the rest of it at http://taraquan.com/undead-fairy-tales/:

 Cover_TowerintheWoods

“I’m not going to hurt you,” the man told her as he took a step forward. “Not in the way you think, anyway.”

“If you move I will shoot,” Nel warned, recalling Mother Gothel’s teaching that all men lied. The problem was, she too was lying. If she had it in her to shoot this man, she would have done so long before he reached the Tower.

The man stopped immediately, his hands remaining in the air. “I’m not armed. Put the gun down before you accidentally shoot me.”

Nel’s eyebrows rose in confusion. “I have never accidentally shot anyone,” she said, trying to compose her thoughts. For some reason this man’s very presence unsettled her, making her feel odd sensations in her stomach and causing her heart rate to increase despite the freezing wind.

She wouldn’t describe the man’s face as attractive, but for some reason she couldn’t take her gaze off it. There was something about him, a sense of strength and the promise of protection that made her feel oddly safe, even though the truth was clearly the opposite. She had no reason to trust this person, no reason not to believe he had every intention of hurting her. Even then, knowing too well what might happen, Nel couldn’t bring herself to execute him.

The man’s lips curved into a crooked grin, and Nel felt as if her heart skipped a beat. “You know what? I actually believe you. You’re probably the best sniper I have ever met.”