WINTER WOLF by R.J. Blain

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Virtual Book Tour Dates: 11/24/14 – 12/22/14

Genres: Urban Fantasy, Thriller, Supernatural Suspense

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Blurb:

The Hunted Wizard

When Nicole dabbled in the occult, she lost it all: Her voice, her family, and her name. Now on the run from the Inquisition, she must prove to herself—and the world—that not all wizards are too dangerous to let live.

The savage murder of a bookstore employee throws Nicole into the middle of Inquisition business, like it or not. Driven by her inability to save the young man’s life, she decides to hunt the killer on her own. Using forbidden magic to investigate the past, she learns that the murderer is in fact a disease that could kill the entire werewolf race.

Forced to choose between saving lives and preserving her own, Nicole embraces the magic that sent her into exile. Without werewolves, the power of the Inquisition would dwindle, and she could live without being hunted.

Nicole’s only hope for success lies in the hands of the werewolves she hates and the Inquisition she fears, but finding someone to trust is only the beginning of her problems. There are those who want to ensure that the werewolves go extinct and that the Inquisition falls.

But, if she fails to find a cure, her family—including her twin sister—will perish…

 

Excerpt:

Almost everyone in the store had a phone. Dormant devices, from reading lights to mobile chargers, littered the tables. One woman, browsing books nearby, had four battery-powered devices in her purse. One was a phone, and like mine, it hungered. Its need was strong; its battery waned to the point of failure.

If I wanted, I could charge it for her.

No one would notice if I did. Maybe the woman would wonder how her phone hadn’t died before she got home. It only had a few minutes left. It’d take me all of ten seconds to fix it for her. If I did, I wouldn’t be so aware of it. But to do so, I’d have to touch her—or her phone. Some things I could manipulate without having a direct conduit, but cell phone batteries were tricky, greedy things.

I cringed a little, setting the thriller book down. I picked up the next nearest title. I flipped it over, not reading the text on the back. Did I dare? Out of the corner of my eye, I watched the woman browsing through the books. All it would take was a few seconds. I could charge it without her noticing.

That was one thing I was actually good at.

I put the novel I held down and wandered to the same table, careful not to look at her. Book by book, I investigated the titles, circling to where she stood.

“You’re Nicole Thomas, aren’t you? The actress. You’re her.” My quarry appraised me with a pleased expression.

People normally recognized the mainliners, people with beautiful faces and voices to match, people who didn’t avoid crowds.

In short, people other than me.

I met her gaze, abandoning my perusal of novels. “I am,” I replied, wincing a little at the sandpaper-rough quality of my voice. At least I hadn’t been reduced to a whisper—yet. My fatal flaw was my rough, grating voice. Chronic laryngitis did that to a person. It ruined careers, as it had mine, though I hadn’t quite given up on being an actress. I’d already lost the ability to sing.

I wasn’t going to let a stupid disease take everything away from me.

The woman smiled, not seeming to mind talking to someone who sounded more like a zombie than a human. “You’re taller than I expected. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

She thrust out her hand.

We shook.

I left her phone alone.

“They keep putting me next to giants,” I quipped. It was true. When I did manage to get on the silver screen, I worked alongside actors easily a foot-and-a-half taller than me. “It’s a pleasure to meet you too.” I matched her smile. She didn’t tell me her name, and I didn’t ask for it.

It took all of my will not to fiddle with her phone. All it would take was a murmured word and a thought, and it’d be done. It would have been easy to charge the battery when our hands had been clasped together, but I hadn’t dared.

If, sometime later, she noticed her phone had magically been charged—literally—she might remember me. She knew my name.

And in true cowardice, I couldn’t bring myself to help her. If she connected the strange behavior of her phone with me, she might tell someone. If she did, I’d be as good as dead—or worse. I had dabbled in the occult, and the occult had dabbled back, and there were those who didn’t like when that happened.

The last thing I needed was them finding me.

 

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About the Author:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

 

Favorite Books & Series

In no particular order:

Anne McCaffrey’s Pern
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar & Gryphon Series
Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera & The Dresden Files
Brandon Sanderson’s Elantris
Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega, Dragon Bones, & The Mercy Thompson series
Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time

 

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Giveaway:

Enter to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card! Open Internationally. This giveaway will run 11/24/14 – 12/22/14. Enter through Rafflecopter.

 

AQUARIUS RISING by Brian Burt

2014 WINNER for the EPIC eBook award for Science Fiction!

 

SYNOPSIS
 
On an Earth ravaged by climate change, and a disastrous
attempt to reverse it, human-dolphin hybrids called Aquarians have built
thriving reef colonies among the drowned cities of the coast. Now their world
is under siege from an enemy above the waves whose invisible weapon leaves no
survivors. Ocypode of Tillamook is an Atavism: half-human and half-Aquarian,
marooned in the genetic limbo between species. Only he knows why the colonies
north and south of Tillamook Reef have been destroyed, literally turned to
stone. Ocypode knows that Tillamook will be targeted next, but sharing the
reason might prove as deadly to Aquarius as the Medusa plague itself.
Ocypode and his Aquarian and human comrades flee into the
open ocean to escape Medusa, until another Aquarian’s treachery leaves them at
the mercy of a killer storm. Ocypode must pass through the Electric Forest,
where he faces nightmarish creatures and a legendary sea witch who becomes an
ally. Finally, he must confront the cyber-ghost of the human he most despises:
Peter Cydon, the Great Father who bioengineered the mutagenic virus that gave
birth to the Aquarian species. These unlikely allies provide the only chance to
stop the Redeemers, rogue scientists who are determined to resurrect the land
by slaughtering the sea. Even these allies will not be enough, and Ocypode must
decide whom to trust with a secret as lethal as any plague.
Where to Purchase Aquarious Rising
 
 

The Author
Brian’s Website / Goodreads / Facebook Brian Burt works as an information security engineer in West Michigan, where some of his most bizarre flights of fancy wind up in threat assessments.  He’s been blessed with a wife and three boys who tolerate his twisted imagination and even encourage it.  He enjoys reading, cycling, hiking, horseplay, red wine, and local micro-brews (so hopefully the virtues balance the vices, more or less).  At every opportunity, he uses his sons as an excuse to act like an overgrown kid (which is why his wife enjoys rum, school days, and migraine medication).

Brian has published more than twenty short stories in various markets, including print magazines, anthologies, and electronic publications.  He won the L. Ron Hubbard Gold Award in 1992 for his short story, “The Last Indian War,” which was anthologized in Writers of the Future Volume VIII.  His story “Phantom Pain” received an Honorable Mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Tenth Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling.  He’s a card-carrying member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  His debut novel,Aquarius Rising: In the Tears of God, won the 2014 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction. Book 2 of the Aquarius Rising trilogy, Blood Tide, is scheduled for release from Double Dragon Publishing in 2015.
 
Follow the entire Aquarious Rising tour HERE
 
 
 

THE DREAD OWBA COO-COO by M.C. Norris

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Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/8/14 – 1/5/15

Genres: Horror, Historical, African-American Lit

Release Date: 11/15/14

Available Free With Kindle Unlimited!

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Blurb:

It’s a snapshot from the darkest chapter in human history. A crippled slave ship, dismasted in the heart of the Middle Passage, comes to resemble a hellish island where there is no escape from the suffocating heat, from the circling sharks, from each other. But there is something else in their midst. Something ancient. Something evil.

Based on real events from the slave trade era, this intelligent approach to the zombie origin pursues a fly-borne plague to its African roots through a series of letters, log entries and balanced narratives from European and African perspectives, to an ancient pact forged between a dying Vodu witch and Sakpata, the god of disease. The product of the dark bargain is a creature both beautiful and terrifying to behold, relying on bloodsucking insects and a booming slave trade to spread its bloodline overseas to the shores of its new homeland, an island known as Hayiti.

 

Excerpt:

Vincinte Madeira is escorted down to the Main Deck. They’ve moved a furnace down there, where a heifer is being butchered. Kettles of rendered fat boil and froth over their rims. Kneeling tanners rise and fall upon the hides like Mohammedians, scraping their fleshing blades with the regularity of lapping waves. Sailcloth is spread all around them, beneath heaps of boned flesh and innards. It looks as though a cow has exploded.

“Vin-cin-tay!”

Madeira’s gaze climbs the walls to the Quarterdeck, where the gray-green corpses of those three unruly Negroes continue to sway from stretched necks, their bellies distended like wormy pups. They turn on their shoulders with the rhythm of the ship’s lilt and pitch, like a troupe of necrotic dancers depicted on some painting from the black plague era. As the Redlowe crests a wave, all three corpses leap from the wall to kick up their feet and clap their putrid hands.

“Vin-ciiiin-taaaay!” High above, Joaquim waves from the Quarterdeck.

Guardsmen seize Madeira by his upper arms and drag him on his heels past the furnace of boiling fat. There, they bind his wrists and ankles to the great stump of their fractured masthead. Joaquim disappears from the sky’s edge. Below, an accordion player picks his way through the piles of boned meat, eyes closed, pumping away at his queer instrument as if he were strolling the starlit boardwalks of some Venetian canal.

For Madeira, the odor of rendered fat is richly nostalgic. The brothel where his mother worked served a chowder of shellfish and beef marrow. On the days the marrow was rendered, the brownish bovine essence would permeate every fiber of his clothing. He would smell it for days after the last bowl had been consumed. It was disconcerting to consider that although the last scrap of the bygone beast had been ingested, its spiritual presence lingered still on the longcoat of the son of a whore.

Joaquim appears atop the ladder, following the Slavemaster, Duarte Davila, down to the Main Deck. Madeira closes his eyes and breathes savory steam in and out through his nose. His heart rate quickens. Spanish spurs ring over the braying accordion, and ever more sharply as the Slaver draws near. The bootsteps stop, a short distance away. Madeira opens his eyes.

Smiling, Joaquim slips through the steam behind Davila. He creeps past the row of bobbing tanners toward the pile of boned meat. The Slaver withdraws a cat-o-nine from his sash. He presses the coils of leather to his nose, inhaling with such ecstatic force as to suggest the braids contained the antidote to a malady with which he was afflicted. The whip’s tails, black as the heart of Africa, glisten in his fist like a nest of vipers. No doubt, he tanned this leather from the hide of some unusual beast, for nothing about this scourge of humanity be affected with the ordinary. Unlike the ephemeral odor of a bull rendered to chowder, the spirit of whatever black-skinned creature was immortalized into the coils of the Slaver’s whip should outlast the remains of its screaming victims. Woven into its oily braids are ivory stars of intricate design, likely whittled from the same bone from which the weapon’s handle was fashioned. ‘Tis about the girth of a human femur.

Davila lowers the writhing leather mass into a kettle of boiling lard. Displaced foam spills over the side. Yellowish ropes of fatty froth hiss and spit as they slither down the scalding metal. Before they ever reach the deck, they have evaporated into pearly trails. Davila lifts the flails from the pot and lowers them to a pile of Guinea salt at his feet. He rolls them back and forth until each sting is wholly encrusted. Davila’s spurs sing with every step. His whip drags behind him like a cord of salted slugs. “There was once a guardsman at Axim who allowed himself to be overtaken by the Negroes, moments before the dungeon was locked-down for the night. I found what was left of him the next morning. What remained of that man had to be collected in a scuttle tub. That was fascinating to me, what enraged men are capable of doing to another with their bare hands. I salted and preserved those discorporate parts for the purpose of making a keen point in the training of that gentleman’s replacement. So, tell me your story, Pirate. How did you manage to survive your night below deck with them?”

Panting as though physically exerted, Madeira maps the barber surgeon’s scarred face. One of Davila’s eyes, he just notices, is distinctly hazel, while the other is a murky green. This is no man standing before him. It cannot be. It is a daemon that barely manages to retain its human form. “They presumed me an officer. I was protected by a few who believed that to save my life would assure their freedom.”

“And which charter would that be?”

“Sir?”

“Which Negro race did shelter you from the rest?”

“’Twas a mixed lot, Sir. Not any one Race that I could tell.”

Davila dipped his chin. “And what of the missing pistol?”

“A pistol, Sir?”

“Aye. You know of it. Copper fluting with a scrimshaw grip. A finer weapon than I ever did own. Where is it?”

“We were separated in the skirmish … it was dark, Sir.”

Davila takes three steps back and turns, all too naturally, into a flogging stance. “Negroes are not subtle creatures, pirate. Whoever stole that pistol would’ve trumpeted it all throughout the hold, leaping about and chanting, he’d have been. Aye, if there’s one thing I know well, pirate, it’s Negroes.”

The Slaver intends to whip him to death. Biting down on the insides of his cheeks, Madeira beseeches the Heavens. Stinging droplets roll into his eyes. “If this is about the journal, then dispose of it. Throw it overboard.”

“Eh?”

“I know you have it, and you’ve every right to be disappointed with the content. Destroy it. Destroy it and let me work for you, earn my keep. You’re desperate for able hands.”

“I’ve no airthly idea what you mean, pirate.” The Slaver grins. “I’ve acquired no journal.” With a delicate flip of his wrist, Davila unfurls nine braids across the timbers.

 

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About the Author:

M.C. Norris is an Active HWA member, whose first four novels, all published by Severed Press, are slated for release in fall of 2014: Deep Devotion (09/01/14), Krengel & the Krampusz (11/01/14), The Dread Owba Coo-Coo (11/15/14), and Nod (TBA). His nineteen short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines and e-zines, including: Withersin, Wrong World DVD, Brainharvest Magazine, Pseudopod, Malicious Deviance, and Dead Bait. M.C. Norris also won 5th in Chizine/Leisure Books 13th Annual Short Story Contest.

 

Connect With The Author:

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Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Open WW, 12/8/14 – 1/5/15. Enter through Rafflecopter.