Thursday, 31 March 2016

Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars -- Interview with Chris Stevenson

Today we welcome back author Chris Stevenson to catch up with his publishing life.

Hi, Chris, and welcome back to We Do Write. Catch us up on your publishing journey since we last spoke. What's new with you?

Let’s see…Intrigue Press published The Girl They Sold to the Moon, a YA SF story. It won a major grand prize award, sponsored by a publisher, so I was happy about that. I was equally happy in getting so many offers for my next YA dark fantasy, Screamcatcher. My agent and I decided it wouldn’t that bad of an idea to make it into a series, which I did with two more books. That one is now out on major sub. I finished and polished a paranormal thriller, Earth Angel; a children’s picture book, The Mysteries of the La Brea Tar Pits; finished a military espionage thriller entitled Iron Maiden; got halfway through a sequel to Planet Janitor and a third of the way through a dystopian SF called Sky High. You can tell it’s been some time since I’ve been here!  

Yeah, you've been busy! Let's hear more about Planet Janitor. What's the story about?

It’s the story of a ragtag group of space junk collectors who get an offer they can’t refuse from a famous celestial real estate company. The mission requires a 12-year light speed jump and cryo sleep out to a newly discovered planet in the Tau Ceti system. The exact instructions are not given to the crew, but only hinted at: they must clear and cleanse a huge track of land and construct tall barrier walls. Before they even start the job they find a terrible sight, and have to deal with it while they finish construction. Soon all hell breaks loose, suffice to say. Planet Janitor, the new release, is a small omnibus with new front matter stories, revision/rewrites and cover. It can best be described as Robinson Crusoe meets Starship Troopers.  

Did you do research for the book?

I had to do some simple calculations on orbital mechanics and light speed limitations. I had to really figure how I could invent a “nuclear bang pod drive” that would propel the ship to near the speed of light without blowing the craft to pieces. I used “chopper gun foam” for the barrier walls and had to look up heavy construction equipment and give the machines a new high-tech face.  

Describe your main character in five words.

He’s the Clint Eastwood type.

Without spoilers, what's your favorite scene in the book?

One of the male crew members is out picking flowers in a lush valley on the foreign planet. He sees another crewmember gathering flowers, too. They both ask each other what’s up. One of them admits that his girlfriend has told him that she is pregnant.
The other crewmember rolls his eyes and says, “It must be contagious. Mine gave me the same news yesterday.”
To which his friend nods at the flowers and says, “Do you think these will do any good?”
“Not a chance.”

Were there any scenes that had to be cut?

None cut, but one had to be added. I had to give Captain Zaz a temper tantrum for losing something very precious to him. In fact, he goes on a rampage, which just isn’t like him at all. Oh, I had to cut down on some ship’s log entries.

Got any tips for aspiring writers in this genre?

Space opera science fiction? Uuhg—read the new stuff and see where it’s going and how much more innovative and creative it is compared to the past. Be patient and let an extraordinary premise grab hold of you. Try to find something very unique. Research all that you have to so you can properly world-build. Keep in mind that a great number of science fiction writers have degrees in the core sciences, and/or they are very smart tech nerds. The competition is blisteringly fierce, especially for this genre. Give it a lot of thought before you proceed.

Any parting words of wisdom?

If you hit a wall and find yourself blocked, take the advice of Stephen King, Jo Rowling and Anne Rice—push your way through it. Your eyes are the wrong eyes to be prematurely critical. You can bet that your writing (of that book or short) is not that bad at all. You’ve been mistaken. It’s like having hallucinations inside your imagination. Accentuate the positive—eliminate the negative. Guess what movie that’s from.

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Chris!

It’s always a pleasure to be here. I’m in love with your blog and blog site.


Author Bio

Chris Stevenson , originally born and raised on the beaches of southern California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009 and settled in with his twin sister. His occupations have included newspaper reporter, front-line mechanic and federal police officer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult, adult thrillers and horror. He has a total of 10 titles appearing on Amazon. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. He writes the informative blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (Special Weapons and Tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.

Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Book Blast: ENTER, KNIGHT by K.A Keith

603947_Personalized Banner Ad_L1
Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you K.A. Keith’s ENTER,KNIGHT 
Book Blast March 28 – April 8!

Inside the Book:

Enter Knight
Title: Enter Knight
Author: K.A. Keith
Publisher: iUniverse
Genre: Fiction
Format: Ebook/Paperback
Two infants, born simultaneously, are infused with otherworldly energies as the most ancient evil stirs. The Knight Apieron Farsinger, and Adestes Malgrim represent the heights of their opposing martial traditions in classic East versus West confrontation. In this medieval action adventure, Apieron’s country Ilycrium is conquered, while more sinister assaults transpire from beyond the lands of light. The Knight Apieron Farsinger, father to three small children and husband to a gentle wife, must leave hearth and home in quest to confront the Dragon Queen in her Hellish lair. Treacherous allies, unexpected friendships, love, and the conflicts of honor all color Apieron’s journey to save his land and family. The other recipient of the Starburn, Adestes Malgrim, is a peerless warrior and assassin of the cult of the Dragon. In this sweeping work of fantasy, adventure and war draw both champions into deadly strife time and again as preternatural forces vie for mastery. Their fated enmity will change the world.

Meet the Author:

K. A. Keith was born in Oklahoma. He has studied in Rome, lived and worked with Arab peoples, and served with distinction as a flight surgeon in Just Cause and Desert Storm. Enter, Knight is book one of an epic fantasy duology. The whirlwind tale continues in Hel’s Storm, iUniverse 2016.


K.A. is giving away a $25 Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:
  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Gift Certificate to the e-retailer of your choice
  • This giveaway begins March 28 and ends on April 8.
  • Winners will be contacted via email on April 9.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


Follow link to Rafflecopter:

Melanie Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, 28 March 2016

YA Scavenger Hunt TEAM PINK: Dorothy Dreyer hosting Gillian Bronte Adams

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for until April 3rd!

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are nine contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PINK TEAM--but there is also a red team, an orange team, a gold team, a green team, a teal team, a blue team, a purple team, and a silver team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number (highlighted in pink). Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the pink team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, April 3rd, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.


I'm thrilled to be hosting the lovely Gillian Bronte Adams

Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. A love of epic stories and a desire to present truth in a new way drew her to the realm of fantasy. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist, during which, it is rumored, she mixes 9 different flavored creamers into her coffee.

You can find out more about Gillian on her website.



War ravages Leira and the Song has fallen silent

Freed from the hold of a slave ship, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, and Ky, a street-wise thief, emerge to a world at war. Hordes of dark soldiers march across Leira, shadowed by whispers of plague and massacres, prompting Ky to return to his besieged home city in hopes of leading his fellow runners to safety.

Desperate to end the fighting, Birdie embarks on a dangerous mission into the heart of the Takhran’s fortress. Legend speaks of a mythical spring buried within and the Songkeeper who will one day unleash it to achieve victory. Everyone believes Birdie is the one, but the elusive nature of the Song and rumors of other gifted individuals lead her to doubt her role. Unleashing the spring could defeat the Takhran once and for all, but can she truly be the Songkeeper when the Song no longer answers her call?

Book Two in the Songkeeper Chronicles

And now for the top-secret Bonus Material!

Here’s a sneak peek at the first chapter of Songkeeper. It is the second book in a series, so if you haven’t read the first book, Orphan’s Song, there are a few spoilers ahead. Nothing too earth shattering though. Read on and whet your appetite for Songkeeper’s release on April 15th!

Silence rested on her shoulders like a crushing weight. The thumping of her heart magnified tenfold as Birdie strained her ears for the familiar melody—a cluster of notes that brought warmth and comfort to the soul, piercing despair with a glimmer of hope. Instead, she heard only the groaning timbers, crashing waves, and creaking blocks of the Langorian ship. Within the hold, chains rattled and muffled coughs echoed from the bulkheads, the sounds of the sick and dying.
Yet the Song remained silent.
A hand grazed her arm, and she started back.
“It’s all right,” Ky grunted. “It’s just me.”
She peered in the direction of his voice, though she knew she wouldn’t be able to see his face through the gloom. A hacking cough came from somewhere to her right, punctuated by wheezing that sounded more like groaning. In the weeks since their capture, it had become a familiar sound.
The herald of death.
Somewhere in the hold, a captive was dying. Alone, ignored, abandoned—even by his fellow prisoners. Though their hands were free, chains bound their ankles to the deck, restricting movement to a few feet in either direction, and anything above a whisper drew the wrath of their captors. No one would dare lift a voice in comfort or to call for aid.
She had witnessed it many times, felt it moving in herself, that hopelessness that deadens compassion. They were all made selfish in their fear. Weeks spent shackled in the hold with countless other poor souls, and she didn’t even know who they were. Would they all die so in the weeks to come, forgotten?
Another strangled cough. Then silence.
Horrible, dead silence
Her hands shook. She clutched them to her damp forehead and huddled with her elbows tucked into her body, but she couldn’t stop them from shaking. Not even when the hatch flew open a few minutes later, releasing blinding light into the hold, and two pirates stumped down the ladder carrying buckets of stale water and hard bread. Her hands trembled as she choked down food, and as the pirates dragged the dead slave up the ladder and the hatch thudded shut behind them, plunging the hold back into night.
Outside, a loud splash, then something thumped against the side of the ship.
“Ky …” She broke off with the name scarce spoken.
Even a whisper seemed disrespectful in this floating tomb.
The words sounded in her head, but somehow she couldn’t muster the courage to get them past her tongue. How could she tell Ky she was sorry he had been dragged into her mess, that he should never have tried to help her, that she knew it was her fault he was a prisoner?
Chains clinked to her right, and his voice spoke beside her ear. “What is it?”
The rehearsed speech failed her, so she blurted out the first thing that came to mind—anything to distract from the terrible silence. “Do you ever think . . . What would you be doing right now if you were back in the Underground?”
“Probably running for my life.” He snorted. An attempt at a laugh, but a pitiful one. “I tend to do that a lot.” His chains clinked, indicating a shift of positions. “I just wish I could know they were all safe. Meli, Paddy, Aliyah, even Cade.”
Or Amos.
Birdie couldn’t bring herself to say his name out loud, but the thought of the gruff peddler brought a tear to her eyes. For all she knew, Amos McElhenny was dead, lying cold and forsaken on the beach where she had left him when the pirates dragged her away. She shoved her trembling hands into her lap and clenched them beneath her knees.
She might not be able to will her hands to stop shaking, but she could force them. This at least was something she could control.
Across the hold, a child gasped for breath.
The five broken notes of the child’s melody filled Birdie’s head. Weak as a candle quivering before a gust of wind. The sound tore Birdie to the heart.
“Why don’t they help us?” Ky muttered. “It doesn’t make a lick of sense. You’d think they’d give us a little light, air, fresh water, if only to keep us alive until they can sell us, instead of leaving us here to rot! Dead slaves aren’t worth anything. Why do they let us die?”

Wow, intense, right? Gillian is also currently running a giveaway on Goodreads for this book! Click here to enter.

Did you find my secret number above? Great! Be sure to add up all the numbers from the pink team to find the secret code for your chance to win the grand prize!

But that's not all! Before you move on, here's a quick chance to win a $15 Amazon gift certificate. That's right, more prizes! Fill out the rafflecopter for your chance to win. (The gift certificate is for and can not be substituted with another gift certificate.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ready for the next clue on the hunt? Then click on over to author Christopher Mannino's page! Good luck!

Dorothy Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

ALL THAT JAZZ by Natasha Boyd Book Blitz with @XpressoTours

All that Jazz
Natasha Boyd
(A Butler Cove Novel)
Publication date: March 22nd 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
There’s something totally inconvenient about falling for your best friend’s brother. Especially when he’s turned into a pompous, arrogant, albeit annoyingly sexy a-hole that you’d like to punch or kiss to death at any given moment.
The summer she turned eighteen, Jazz Frazer accidentally lost her heart to Joey Butler, after a favor that blurred the lines from friends to lovers.
For three years they’ve pretended there’s nothing between them anymore. Jazz is finally ready to move on with the rest of her life. She’s looking forward to the end of college and fulfilling her dream of travelling the world. She’s determined that experiences and relationships will be fun, casual and easy. After all, she learned the hard way that men just don’t stick around anyway. But when her best friend gets herself into a relationship with a celebrity, Jazz has to do the one thing she never thought she’d do, call Joey and ask for help.
Repeatedly thrown together, Jazz tries everything she can to protect her heart and not fall back in love with Joey. But when Joey finally admits that Jazz is the one he’s always wanted, all bets are off.
Contemporary, friends to lovers, second chance romance. 17+ for strong language and sexual situations.
The Summer I turned 18
“And you won’t fall in love with any of them and want to get married?”
“Nope.” I shrugged. “That would impede my career plans.”
Joey snorted, then wheezed. “Right.”
I wanted to shove the dishtowel he was holding down his damn throat.
“Right, what?” I snapped.
“Right, I believe you,” he added with barely concealed sarcasm. His eyebrows raised.
“It’s true. I don’t see what the big emotional deal is with sex anyway.”
“Because you’ve had so much of it?”
I glanced away. That was way more information than he needed.
“So the almost eighteen year old virgin is going to try and tell me she understands what sex without emotion is like?”
“Not for much longer,” I said with a haughty tone, irritated he just assumed I was a virgin, and clasped my hands in front of me on the table. “I plan on getting rid of that status as soon as possible.”
Joey yanked his chair back out and sat down opposite me, his glare intense, the blue of his eyes darkened to grey.
I pulled back at his abrupt move and his hand reached out and snared mine, pinning it to the table. “What?” I managed after a few beats of uncomfortable silence where my hand was burned alive.
Conflicting thoughts seemed to flit over his face for what seemed like long minutes instead of the few seconds it probably was. Then he let out a long breath.
“You’re playing a very dangerous game, putting so little importance on sex.”
I scowled. “What does that even mean?”
“It means …” He swallowed. “You should respect yourself enough not to give it away to just anybody.”
My face throbbed with heat as my temper rose. “I respect myself just fine. Big brother,” I hissed.
“Good,” he growled. “Because if you don’t, nobody else will.”
I yanked my hand from his. “I don’t understand you. So you’re allowed to have meaningless sex, but I’m not? Again with your double standards, Joseph. It’s unbecoming, you should watch that.”
He shrugged. “You said it. You’re like a little sister to me. I care that you don’t get hurt. And for God’s sake don’t be roping Keri Ann into your stupid quest. I’m just warning you to be careful.”
“Of what exactly?” I said through my clenched teeth. Because seriously, I was completely angry and humiliated by this stupid argument.
“You don’t even know yourself, do you?” He laughed, his strong jaw tilting back to reveal his tanned throat. “You, Jazzy Bear,” he rested his blue eyes back on me, “will fall madly in love with the first boy you sleep with.”
“I will not. And for the love of cheese grits, please don’t call me Jazzy Bear again.”
“You will. It’s written all over you. And,” he sobered as he looked at me unflinchingly, “he will break your heart. I’m sorry. In advance.”
ATJ_Teaser_10 bat shit crazy

Author Bio:
Natasha Boyd is an internationally bestselling and award-winning author of contemporary romantic southern fiction. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and has a background in marketing and public relations. Eversea, her debut novel, was a finalist for Contemporary Romance in the 2013 Winter Rose Contest, won the 2014 Digital Book Award for Adult Fiction and is a LIBRARY JOURNAL self-e selection 2015. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers and Island Writer's Network in coastal South Carolina where she has been a featured speaker on book marketing. She lives with her husband, two sons and the cast of characters in her head.
Natasha grew up in South Africa, Belgium and England. She now lives and writes full-time in the USA.
Her work is available in English, Italian, Turkish, German, and Indonesian.

Hosted by:
Melanie Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, 21 March 2016

Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy Review

Today Claire and Miranda review and discuss Tales From the Shadowhunter Academy - a book of novellas from Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunter Chronicles.

Claire and MirandaFollow on Bloglovin

Friday, 18 March 2016

#FridayReveals: THE PALADINS by Julie Reece #Month9Squad #Month9Books

Today Julie Reece and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE PALADINS, book 2 in THE ARTISANS Series which releases May 3, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley and a eBook of THE ARTISANS!!

Here’s a message from the author.

Book covers are tricky things. My respect for cover artists has grown exponentially after entering the world of publishing. I learned the challenge of a good cover artist is to hint at the story beneath using a single image. They must create a picture that suggests to perspective readers what lies within those hundreds of pages—using nothing more than specific font and a few square inches of graphic design. It seems impossible, yet most of us agree that art evokes emotion. And when I saw my cover, I was overwhelmed.

The Paladins is dark. And this cover is dark. The story is a Gothic tale, mysterious and eerie. And while parts of this world are beautiful, beauty is often deceptive. You’re never quite sure if something lurks in the shadows, where the path you tread is leading, or even if what you see is real … until it’s too late. For me, the cover encompasses all those story elements. I hope you like it as much as I do.

On to the reveal! 

Title: THE PALADINS (The Artisans #2)
Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook

The Artisan curse is broken. Souls trapped in a mysterious otherworld called The Void are finally released. Now, Raven Weathersby, Gideon Maddox, and Cole Wynter can finally move on with their lives...or so they thought. If the ancient magic is truly dead, then why are mystical fires plaguing Gideon at every turn? What accounts for Raven’s frightening visions of her dead mother? And who is the beautiful, tortured girl haunting Cole’s dreams?

Last year, a group of lonely teens sacrificed secrets, battled the supernatural, and faced their own demons to set one another free. Yet six months later, the heart of evil still beats within The Void. And the trio is forced to face the horrific truth: that their only way out is to go back in.

The Paladins completes this eerie YA Southern Gothic where loyalties are tested, love is challenged, and evil seeks them on the ultimate battlegrounds—in their minds, their souls, and their hearts. 

In case you missed it here's the redesigned cover for THE ARTISANS!

Author: Julie Reece
Pub. Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books
Pages: 300
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads

They say death can be beautiful. But after the death of her mother, seventeen-year-old Raven Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands.

To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day.

Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad's drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox.

But Raven's stepdad's drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she's ever known out of jail, or worse.

Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries' clothing line, signing over her creative rights.

Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can't imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes.

But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?



The Before


It’s been four years since I planted the fireworks in Gideon Maddox’s locker that burned a third of his face.

Four years since his father took revenge, trapping me with a spell that kept me prisoner in The Void.

Three months since the magic found me again.

Two months since my parents put me in therapy.

One day since my parents left for Paris on a month long business tour.

This morning, a mysterious girl no one else can see beckoned again from The Void.

Tonight, I’m standing on the balcony of my parent’s palatial home, buying an airline ticket back to the states—back to Maddox mansion—the heart of my nightmares.

People say the more things change the more they stay the same. I hate them for being right. I lived with the monsters in my prison until I thought I might go mad. Repentant of my past, I made peace with my fate, my eternity. Until the day I was freed, because a stranger had the courage to help.

This time someone needs me.

How can I doom a girl to a fate I barely escaped?

There’s only one answer.

I can’t.

Chapter One


A bottle-green fly hums, rubbing his tiny legs together as though he’s plotting something. The insect seems a dirty ornament on the shiny desk nameplate he sits upon. Gold on gold, the engraved letters read Navin Cahvan M.D. This is the third psychiatrist I’ve met in as many weeks. Part of my mother’s plan to fix me. Jumpy nerves, insomnia, nightmares about demons when I finally do fall sleep—these are her justifications. Everyone tries to shrink me like a cheap T-shirt in the dryer.

The tawny-skinned man across the desk folds his knotted fingers over his belly and stares. Dark eyes track my movements beneath two bushy white eyebrows. “Mr. Wynter?”

Right. He asked a question. The fly hums again, wings fluttering against his hairy back. My head pounds, my clothes scratch, eyes burn, and my ears are raw with the smallest sounds echoing deep inside.

When Dr. Cahvan shifts, the leather seat groans in protest. “I can help you. But you must tell me the truth.”

All I hear is Jack Nicholson screaming the line from A Few Good Men: “You can’t handle the truth!”

“Trust me, Cole. Tell me your secret thoughts.”

Trust you? Sure. I tell you what happened and you lock me away forever on meds that keep me drooling, while I play dominoes with people who see giant, pink rabbits. No thanks.

He leans forward. His fingers thread together as his hands rest on the desktop. He taps his thumbs together. “I assure you this is a safe place. I call it … the circle of trust.”

Give me a break. You want me to tell you how I was a mean, dangerous kid. Confess that because I tormented a crippled boy, his father used a magic camera to trap me in an alternate universe as punishment. Explain how I lived a half-life in the Maddox mansion for four years until Raven Weathersby rescued me. About how much I miss her and think about going back someday … Maybe I am insane. “Let’s discuss something else.”

I find his suggestion amusing since I’ve barely said ten words in the past hour, and our time is almost up. The good doctor shifts again. “Instead of talking about the past, why not speak of the present. How are you adjusting to life at home? I understand your parents had a welcome home party when you first arrived. How did that go?”

How do you think? “Swell.” I would have preferred stuffing my hand in a high-speed blender. A hundred people that I hadn’t seen since I was fifteen—and couldn’t care less to see again—showed up to shake my hand and recite all they’d ever read about amnesia, the lie Gideon made up to cover my absence. “I really just need some space.”

“And you got your wish, did you not? I understand your parents left town yesterday. How does being alone again so soon make you feel?”

Incredibly pissed. “They’ve always been busy people. I’m used to them traveling.” But I wasn’t. I thought with all the time apart, my parents might want to stick around a while. Be a family. Nope. Since appearances mean everything, they threw a party right away to show their friends and colleagues how fine I was. The powerful and highly regarded Mr. and Mrs. Wynter pulled out all the stops to prove their love for their long lost son: fine wine, catered dinner, china, crystal, even a string quartet. Yet, my father couldn’t keep the disappointment from his face any more than my mother could drown her misery in vodka.

Perhaps to appease their consciences, my folks hooked me up with doctors and provided for my physical needs before bailing. But a new car and an obscenely padded bank account wasn’t what I needed. So easily brushed aside again, I couldn’t help but wonder if parts of them were relieved when I’d disappeared four years ago.

Dr. Cahvan’s eyes narrow. “So, you remember your life up until your trip to the States?”

“Yes.” I’m lying about my amnesia. I know it. He knows it. So do my parents, but it’s too late to come up with a better story … like being the victim of a cult brainwashing or joining a psychedelic commune. I drank a different brand of Kool-Aid in Sales Hollow, South Carolina, and I can never tell a soul.

The fly zings to the window. I flinch as the buzzing is magnified ten times in my head. It takes all my will not to jump up and smash the bug against the glass. The doctor watches me with sharp eyes trained to interpret body language. I hold his gaze, though my skin breaks out in a sweat. A sudden wind rattles the panes, and I startle.

Cahvan’s mouth crimps at the corners. “Rather breezy today,” he says, glancing out the window at the quiet, blue sky.

Who cares about the weather? I have to give the old guy something before I start whining about magic spells, heightened senses, or worse: how my daddy never loved me.

I blow out a breath. “Look, some things seem familiar, others are confusing. I don’t need a doctor. I need time.” I only meant to throw him a bone so he’d have something to report when my parents call, but my body heats as I talk. Anger, resentment, and fear all claw their way up my throat and charge out of my mouth before I can stop them. “Time I can’t get back where I finish school, date hot girls, and grow up like normal kids do. I’m trying. Doing the best I can, but what I don’t need is to sit in rooms with smug strangers who are paid to dissect my brain over things I can’t explain, and neither of us will ever understand!” I drag my fingers through my shaggy hair. “That time is gone. I’m pissed off, and I guess I’ll be pissed off until I’m not anymore.”

Dr. Cahvan rubs his jaw. “That’s very interesting, Cole.”

My laugh is harsh. Not that any of this is funny. “Is it?”

“Yes. Thank you for your honesty today.” His bushy eyebrows push together. “Thank you for entering the circle of trust and allowing me to help you. Please see my secretary on your way out and make another appointment for next week.”

Seriously? I stand and head for the door. Oh, I’ll see your secretary, all right. I’ll nod as I walk right past her. He didn’t help me. No one can. There are a lot of things I need. But touchy-feely therapy with Doctor Eyebrows isn’t one of them.


After the awkward “circle of trust” episode, I can’t decide what to do with myself. I don’t want to be around people, but I don’t want to go home to an empty house either, so I wind up in the rambling cemetery a couple miles from our house.

I like it here and come pretty often just to think. Crumbling grave markers bear witness to France’s rich history, even with the chiseled dates worn and fading with time. Moss, ivy, and ancient trees lend beauty and peace to a place that soothes my soul. I’m not trying to be morbid. I never kept company with the dead. We were the undead, in a non-sparkly kind of way.

I’m not stupid enough to think I’ll discover the meaning of life. I’m just trying to find meaning in mine.

After surviving a half-death, I’ve been given a second chance. Trouble is, I don’t know what to do with it. The sun is too hot on my back. No sooner does the thought cross my mind, when a friendly breeze tousles my hair like an old friend. I pull my cell from my pocket and stare at Raven’s number. She said to call her anytime, and I do. Gideon said to call her if I wanted my arse kicked. Typical. He’s still that insecure kid deep down. Still trying to prove himself, as he tries to control everyone and everything within his reach, just like his old man taught him.

Should have known something was wrong when I first got the invitation to visit Gideon in America all those years ago. My parents were so happy Maddox Senior wasn’t pressing charges; they actually thought the gesture was an attempt at friendship. Of course, Mum and Dad sent me packing complete with an olive branch in my mouth. That gesture of goodwill got my picture taken and a trip to The Void with a bunch of vengeful old guys from the early nineteen hundreds and a hot blond with twisted taste in men. We spent our days trying to escape that hell. The labyrinth’s ghouls, the surreal existence of consciousness without a physical body, and the constant pain of regret all earmarked a life that wasn’t.

Until her.

My fingers comb the grass at my sides. I close my eyes and feel the day’s warmth on my face, the wind threading through my thin tee. I may look like a freak, but I can’t stop touching everything around me. While I was gone, I missed the sensation of air in my lungs, the taste of coffee, the sweet sensation of a kiss …

My thumb starts dialing Rae’s number.

Cole …

Shite. Here we go again.

Come to me, Cole …

I wonder if I sounded this creepy to Raven when I begged for her help.

Veins at my temples pulse. Leaves shake and laugh in the breeze, the echo reverberating in my head. “Who are you? What do you want with me?” I want to stand, but my limbs weigh a hundred pounds each. My lungs deflate under the crushing pressure, and I struggle to breathe.

The scenery of oaks and elms surrounding the cemetery blur into a muddy gray-green wall, and I know what’s happening. Gravestones push up from the ground like gnashing teeth and recede again until the ground transforms into a smooth, stone floor. The world of pedestrians, car horns, and singing birds around the graveyard fade to a quiet worse than death. My body rejects the idea of gravity. The weightlessness of being sucked back into The Void again invades my person like a virus, spreading into my muscles and bones, my very essence.

I will the door of my mind closed to shut out the transformation. I place a mental shield before the magic so it won’t consume me, but magic has a will of its own. It snakes under the imaginary door I’ve erected in my head, enveloping me. I thrash, but it’s useless. My soundless screaming and mind-withering despair only seems to feed The Void’s strength.

When I open my eyes, the cemetery is gone. I shift on a cold, damp floor, taking in my new surroundings. I’ve seen this place before, several times. The space is a circular stone room with two tall, skinny windows allowing diffused light inside. A bed sits across from me. Downy quilts worn and faded with use cover the straw mattress. On the wall, a huge, gilt-framed mirror reflects the room where a pretty blond sits in a hardback chair. Watching me.

I’m familiar with strange, but not with sad, soul-eating eyes like hers.

When she rises, I feel like I should thank her, because light from the window shows her curves through an ultra-thin nightdress. The sight chokes my airflow for a whole different reason.


I’m so not thinking of Raven. For all my faults, I’m not the cheating type, but I am a guy, and this girl is seriously fit! I want to touch her in the worst way, but I swallow instead. Attempting to be a gentleman, I lift my gaze and focus on the far wall, yet somehow—because I’m still a guy—I end up watching the way her hair hangs in white blond waves to her thighs. Her rosebud mouth opens slightly. Pleading eyes, more silver than blue, threaten to pull me under and drown me. None of this helps curb my impulse to reach for her.

Then I think about how she brought me here against my will, and that helps tamp down the hormones.


What do you want?

Can’t you guess?

I can. I pleaded with Raven for the same help not too long ago. Inside The Void, I thought I’d met everyone. The ones that Maddox had imprisoned, and the indigenous inhabitants of the labyrinth. I hadn’t known there were any others.

The drip-drop of a leaky faucet is the only sound as I gather my thoughts. “Who are you? Where are you? I don’t understand what’s happening. Where is this place? Did Gideon put you here?” I rattle off my questions not pausing for a response.

She doesn’t answer. Maybe she can’t.

Wind picks up, whooshing through the hollow room, though the windows are shut. The sound grows, as though someone dropped a microphone in a washing machine. I grit my teeth against the noise. My mind squeezes in the pressurized vacuum.

Cole … She extends a thin, white hand.

I remember Raven. How she fell to her knees on the floor of the mill house when we first met. Pain rips into my psyche, claws at my sanity. The same way I’m sure it did hers.

“I’m sorry. Forgive me, Raven. I didn’t know.”

… My name is Rosamond …

Stone walls smear and fade, the beautiful girl along with them. I can’t breathe. Then, the faint outline of tree tops bleed back into view.

… Rosamond Bryer …

My panting rivals an overheated Saint Bernard. Grass pokes my palms. Rough bark scrapes my spine through my T-shirt. Any trace of the castle turret is erased as the same decrepit cemetery I know solidifies, and the garden is as it was before.

Almost …

I’m leaning against an old tree, yet my cell and sunglasses still lie next to the rose bushes where I was sitting, almost twenty feet away. I have no memory of moving. How did I get way over here?

Both hands plow through my hair with my exhale. What the bloody hell just happened? Am I imagining this? A nightmare left over from the reality of my imprisonment. Or is the girl real? Trapped like I was and waiting for someone with the courage to free her.

Is that someone me? I’ve been a lot of things, but brave isn’t one of them. To help her means going back to the mansion.

No. I definitely do not need this shite. I’m starting over, leaving that life behind. Yet, the haunted expression on the girl’s face tugs at me. Something about her seems familiar. I’m gutted over how she reached for me. Raven doubted, too, but not for long. If the blond is real, then she’s really in trouble. And if she’s really in trouble, what, if anything, are you prepared to do about it, Cole Wynter?

As a child, Julie’s summers were about horseback riding and fishing, while winter brought sledding and ice-skating on frozen ponds. Most of life was magical, but not all. She struggled with multiple learning disabilities, and spent much of her time gazing out windows and daydreaming. In the fourth grade (with the help of one very nice teacher) she fought dyslexia for her right to read and won.

Afterward, she invented stories where powerful heroines kicked bad-guy butt to win the hearts charismatic heroes. And then she wrote one down…

Writing ever since, Julie weaves southern gothic, contemporary, fantasy, and young adult
romances. She enjoys sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventure… which must include a really hot guy. Her writing is proof a dream and some hard work can overcome any obstacle.

Where you can find Julie: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive an eBook of THE ARTISANS and an eGalley of THE PALADINS. International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melanie Follow on Bloglovin