May 2014


@RJ_Blain on Write, Learn & Improve #AmWriting #WriteTip #Fantasy

Posted on Friday, May 23, 2014

Improving your writing skills is a hard, often seemingly thankless job. It involves a great deal of effort, reading, and editing to improve base writing skills, especially if you don’t have a mentor or editor to help you.
These are 10 of the tips and tricks I used to improve my writing without help from others.
10: Emulate a favorite author 
I learned this trick from a teacher in high school, and it made a huge impact on my basic writing skills. Pick up your favorite book, open it to somewhere in the middle, and find the start of a chapter. Write a story using the samestructure as the author. So, first off, you will need to identify all the parts of the sentence. This helps you understand the base components of English. If you don’t know how to identify the parts of a sentence, pick up some elementary or middle-school level books and read up.
Knowing the difference between an adjective and an adverb does actually help improve your ability to write fiction, as does knowing the difference between a subject, a conjunction, a noun, and a verb.
By following the sentence structure of your favorite writers, you can learn how they put sentences together. I find this exercise a good way to improve and reinforce basic English skills while learning from writing you love.
9: Study English through Reading
There is a reason people suggest you read books if you want to write. Read the genre you write. Read genres outside of what you write. Read non-fiction. The important thing is, you do read. Many people learn through reading. That said, once you know how to write well, reading becomes less and less of a requirement.
That said, reading is how you learn to identify clichés and common plot themes in your story. While using clichés can be an effective storytelling tool, I think it’s really important that they’re done intentionally not accidentally.
8: Don’t edit until you finish a rough draft
Time and time again, I see a fledgling writer never finish a novel because they’re too busy editing unfinished material. Save edits for until you have a completed story to work on.
7: Write what you Love not what you Know
You’ll have a lot more fun with writing, and having fun is really important when the going gets rough.
6: There is no such thing as a perfect novel
While we all want to write a perfect book, no matter how long we spend editing, something will be missed. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Fix it and move on. Even traditionally-published novels have errors in them. Only start sweating if there are a lot of errors.
5: Learn to edit by editing others
Critiquing and editing is an excellent skill for writers to learn. Writing workshops and critique groups are a good way to learn the ropes of editing. When you start seeing errors others make, it is that much easier to see those same errors in your own writing.
4: Don’t rewrite your story to death
Rewriting is often necessary to tell a better story. I really suggest that you avoid rewriting the same story more than once or twice. If you continuously tell the same story over and over and over again, you’ll beat the life right out of it.
If you do feel the need to rewrite it over and over again, consider telling a completely new story with the same characters to give the tale a breath of fresh air.
3: Finish what you started
I’m a firm believer that improvement and success as a writer is tied to finishing what you start. Writing the rough draft of a novel isn’t enough. Edit it, and then polish it until it shines. Every time you do this, your writing and storytelling skills will improve.
2: You are not your writing
Don’t tie your self-esteem to your words. Your writing is not you. Remind yourself of this every time you get a review or a critique. Your writing isn’t you.
1: Writers Write 
You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth saying again. You can’t improve your writing skills unless you practice writingwith the intent to improve your writing. Writers write. Go write, learn, and improve. There isn’t a quick, easy way to become a great storyteller.

Kalen’s throne is his saddle, his crown is the dirt on his brow, and his right to rule is sealed in the blood that stains his hand. Few know the truth about the one-armed Rift King, and he prefers it that way. When people get too close to him, they either betray him or die. The Rift he rules cares nothing for the weak. More often than not, even the strong fail to survive.
When he’s abducted, his disappearance threatens to destroy his home, his people, and start a hopeless and bloody war. There are many who desire his death, and few who hope for his survival. With peace in the Six Kingdoms quickly crumbling, it falls on him to try to stop the conflict swiftly taking the entire continent by storm.
But something even more terrifying than the machinations of men has returned to the lands: The skreed. They haven’t been seen for a thousand years, and even the true power of the Rift King might not be enough to save his people — and the world — from destruction.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG – 13
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#Excerpt from Rising Tide:Dark Innocence by Claudette Melanson @Bella623 #Paranormal #YA

Posted on Thursday, May 22, 2014

Later that night I stood in front of the mirror, fresh out of the shower, blow drying my hair.  I looked a bit closer, trying to see  something there that would possibly cause, perfect Katie Parker to wish she had my hair.  And cause her brother to take special note of it.  I realized, stunned for a moment, that it was different, somehow.  I’d always thought of my hair as ordinary.  It was a dark, unusual kind of brown, but I’d always been disappointed with its flat, lackluster look and straight texture.
Tonight, even under the subdued lighting in our bathroom, my hair shone with a new light.  I blinked and looked back, picking up a strand for close examination.  I turned the dryer off and ran my hand down the lock, amazed at how it felt glossy.  Dark highlights played across the surface as I twisted my head under the scant light.  And there just seemed to be more of it, as well.  I ran both hands up through, along the sides of my head.  It was so thick, thick and silky soft, like never before.  Or had I just never noticed?  Did Katie’s unexpected comment somehow wake me up to see things I’d never seen in myself before?  Impossible.  I didn’t remember my hair ever being like this, and even twisted to the side to get a glimpse of it falling toward my waist in waves more like my mother’s hair.
Smiling, I shrugged and turned the dryer back on, the logical part of my brain chalking the whole thing up to Caelyn purchasing some expensive, salon-brand shampoo that I hadn’t noticed in the shower.  Satisfied with my theory, I didn’t dare pull the shower curtain back to check.
Rising Tide will sink it’s teeth into you, keeping you awake into the wee hours of the night
Maura’s life just can’t get any worse…or can it?
Isolated and sheltered by her lonely mother, Maura’s never been the best at making friends. Unusually pale with a disease-like aversion to the sun, she seems to drive her classmates away, but why?
Even her own father deserted her, and her mother, before Maura was born. Bizarre physical changes her mother seems hell bent on ignoring, drive Maura to fear for her own life. And her luck just seems to get worse.
Life is about to become even more bewildering when her mother’s abrupt…and unexplained…decision to move a country away sets off a chain of events that will change Maura forever. A cruel prank turned deadly, the discovery of love and friendship….and its loss, as well as a web of her own mother’s lies, become obstacles in Maura’s desperate search for a truth she was never prepared to uncover.
Featured on one of the most popular health blogs on the internet as a giveaway!
Be sure to check out the blog on Maria Mind Body Health to win a free copy today! Go to and check out the blog Chicken “Wild Rice” Soup for your chance to win!
Offered as a giveaway on Goodreads!
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Genre – YA Paranormal Romance
Rating – PG
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#Excerpt from Birth of an Assassin by @Stone_Rik #Crime #Mystery #GoodReads

Posted on Friday, May 16, 2014

Jez turned his head and saw jeeps stacked up one behind the other, coming at him. They were equipped for combat with mounted mortar cannon and sub-machine guns rigged on the integral bases behind the front seats. The heads of soldiers bobbed behind mortar blast protectors as the vehicles maneuvered over snowdrifts. He couldn’t tell how many vehicles, but seeing them fan out and fire, the number no longer seemed relevant.
He ran. He wanted to drop the ski jacket to quicken his pace, but he’d lose his weapons. The only thing he could do was wind in his head and race flat out. WHUMP! A mortar shell exploded 50 meters forward and to the right of his position. Shrapnel whizzed by, and though he could hear it, he felt nothing. He hadn’t been hit. He crouched lower, but the rabbit-skin hat fell off. No time to pick it up. Stop for nothing. With the rifles set to automatic, they traced straight black lines in the snow on either side of him and then swept horizontally across his horizon – Kalashnikov AKMs. They didn’t quite have him in their sights, but they would get there soon enough.
Not safe running in a straight line, he zigzagged, sacrificing distance for evasive tactics. Even so, it wouldn’t take them long to get a bead on him. He looked ahead for anything that might impede his progress, and saw a murder of crows take to the air on the opposite side of the nearest hill. If only he could join them, he thought. Instead, he ran a short distance to the left and then a longer distance to the right, on occasion reversing the strategy so as not to reveal a pattern.
WHUMP! WHUMP! One after another, mortar shells exploded; and while Jez’s evasive actions proved successful, progress slowed. The jeeps occasionally stopped to drop-blast their mortar shells more accurately, but it didn’t stop them gaining ground.
Clearly, while the snow slowed him, it had no such effect on the pursuit vehicles. They would catch him before he could get to the hills. He had to make a stand. WHUMP! A shell exploded 30 meters ahead. That would do, fight from the mortar’s footprint, die like a soldier. He ran towards it. The jeeps closed in. WHUMP! Another explosion – and it was in the same hollow he was headed for. He ran in the opposite direction to make them realign their weapons.
The aim moved. Shells exploded away from the crater, so he veered back and got close enough to jump. Any other time of year the landing would have been soft, but now solid ground jarred his bones as he made contact with the fissure’s base. The earth moved and rumbled, feet banged against brittle crust that cracked and broke beneath him. A thin layer of earth had been all that remained after the two explosions and Jez crashed through the crater into another hole.
He dropped the depth of the first hollow and through into the hole below. But he couldn’t see out to shoot. If his life hadn’t been about to end he might have laughed. Too low to make a stand, he would have to… but just a minute, what was that? He wasn’t in a hole, but a pothole, a chance, a slim chance, but a chance.
He pulled the landfall aside, squeezed through and scrambled along the tunnel in a direction in line with the hills. The cave got bigger. He could stand up straight. He started running again, and half a minute carried him 100 meters in. WHUMP! Grit and soil blasted along the chasm behind him, stung his legs, back and buttocks as fragments struck. They’d realigned a fix on the crater too soon. It had to be Mitrokhin up there. The regular army weren’t that good.
With adrenalin pumping, he gave that extra push, but the channel narrowed and lowered. Lack of headroom forced him to his hands and knees. Movement slowed. The ground shook. Tremors shuddered through his arms and legs, and then a blast was followed by a rumble.
The channel collapsed and fallen earth charged towards him. Rapid breathing, his heart raced, but he had to steady his thoughts. He couldn’t lose control, but the ground rumbled, ever closer.
Still on his hands and knees, he pushed his back hard against the roof. Earth fell around his feet and legs as the miniature cave fell in. But his body remained rigid, acting as a stanchion. His part of the crown hadn’t fallen, but ahead and behind, the rumble continued and the fragile earth crashed down. The structure of the hollow folded, and when it stopped he’d become entombed. Panic engulfed him. There was no way out.
Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.
Buy Now @ AmazonB&NKobo & Waterstones
Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense
Rating – R
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THE ROAD TO KEY WEST #Series by Michael Reisig #Adventure #Humor #MustRead

The place wasn’t quite as packed as The Bull and Whistle, but there was a good crowd gathering in the back around a long, narrow table. It had a fluorescent light above it, with a notice that read:

Touch a crab during a race, get “The Hook” for 10 minutes

(And you buy all runners a drink)
I noticed that in one corner of the bar there was a huge gaff hook attached about six feet up the wall, and there, sure enough, was a guy dangling by his collar. I took another look around and realized the clientele was distinctly different from the last bar. There were a lot of burly-looking bikers, and biker chicks with that hard sensuousness that says I can suck the chrome off a handle bar, but when I’m finished with you, I’ll sacrifice you to the god of Harleys. I felt like I should instantly go get a tattoo and come back later. Actually, I was on my way out when Will grabbed me. “Crab races, man! Let’s watch the crab races!” He was already stumbling in that direction.
A race was just about to begin and all the “runners” (guys and girls with crabs—wait, let me clarify that—all the guys and girls who had entered crabs in the race, regardless of their present hygienic afflictions) were gathered around the track. Will was almost to the table when he stepped on a piece of discarded lime and stumbled into a long-haired girl in a saffron halter top and white bellbottoms. Her crab went flying, hit the ground, and Will stepped squarely on it. There was a crackling, squishy sound, followed by a collective gasp and the room went totally quiet. The only sound was the jukebox in the back, playing a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune.
I see the bad moon rising.
I see trouble on the way…
Someone in the background whispered, “That was Little Mike’s crab.”
I thought, No, that was the cute little girl’s crab, and besides, if it’s Little Mike’s he’ll just have to accept an apology. Suddenly, the men’s room door swung open and all eyes riveted on it. Silhouetted in the doorway was this little guy in Dockers and a T-shirt, curly hair, somewhat frightened eyes.  Ahhh, Little Mike. I’ll take care of this.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’
I see bad times today…
All of a sudden, a huge hand from behind the door swatted the little fellow in the back of the head, knocking him halfway across the bar. Then this “thing” stepped out—much like a shaved gorilla on steroids—hair pulled tight and braided in a long pigtail down his back, one really fierce-looking eye (the other gazing upward, glazed, and indifferent—very spooky), ice pick acne, dressed in blue jeans, chains, and tattoos, roughly six and a half feet tall.
The crowd opened up, the little girl put her hands together. “I didn’t do it, Mike!” She swung around fiercely, and pointed at Will, who held the broken remnants of his future. “He did it! He knocked Little Charlie out of my hand and stepped on him!”
Don’t go around tonight
Well, it’s bound to take your life…
I thought, Oh my God, the damned thing had a name! Sweet Lord, we’re in trouble—or Will’s in trouble, which made me feel guilty, but better. Will, being a sensible, intelligent person, did the only thing he could; he began pleading for his life, babbling about buying Little Mike a new crab, several new, larger crabs, or a new Harley, then lapsing into “Please don’t hurt me! I loved Little Charlie!”—then back to a new crab with a tattoo of his choice, or a dog—a dog would be good. Suddenly I found my feet moving toward them. I don’t know why. I was telling them to stop, but they just weren’t listening. Little Mike picked up a pool cue with no intention of playing billiards, and I was suddenly facing him, standing in front of Will.


The Road to Key West is an adventurous/humorous sojourn that cavorts its way through the 1970s Caribbean, from Key West and the Bahamas, to Cuba and Central America.

In August of 1971, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell set out to become nothing more than commercial divers in the Florida Keys, but adventure, or misadventure, seems to dog them at every turn. They encounter a parade of bizarre characters, from part-time pirates and heartless larcenists, to Voodoo bokors, a wacky Jamaican soothsayer, and a handful of drug smugglers. Adding even more flavor to this Caribbean brew is a complicated romance, a lost Spanish treasure, and a pre antediluvian artifact created by a distant congregation who truly understood the term, “pyramid power.”

Pour yourself a margarita, sit back, and slide into the ‘70s for a while as you follow Kansas and Will through this cocktail of madcap adventures – on The Road To Key West.

IF YOU ENJOY THIS NOVEL BE SURE TO READ THE SEQUEL, "BACK ON THE ROAD TO KEY WEST" (To be released in late August or early September, 2013)
"Jimmy Buffett should set this tropical tale to music! The best Key West stories can only be written by those who have lived here, and Reisig expertly captures the steamy, seedy, beautiful allure of the islands. “The Road to Key West” takes readers on a hysterical journey through the humidity and humanity that only exists in the lower latitudes. And much like the Keys in the 1970s, it’s a hell of a trip.
—Mandy Bolen, The Key West Citizen

"The Road to Key West" combines the dry cleverness of Lewis Grizzard, the wit of Dave Barry, and Reisig's impeccable sense of timing. It's an action-packed, romantic, charming, hilarious take on the ‘70s and its generation. A must-read!
—John Archibald, Ouachita Life Magazine

Buy Now @ Amazon


From the best-selling author of “The Road To Key West” comes a sequel guaranteed to take the reader even higher – another rollicking, hilarious Caribbean adventure that will have you ripping at the pages and laughing out loud.

“Back On The Road To Key West” reintroduces the somewhat reluctant adventurers Kansas Stamps and Will Bell, casting them into one bizarre situation after another while capturing the true flavor and feel of Key West and the Caribbean in the early 1980s.

An ancient map and a lost pirate treasure, a larcenous Bahamian scoundrel and his gang of cutthroats, a wild and crazy journey into South America in search of a magical antediluvian device, and perilous/hilarious encounters with outlandish villains and zany friends will keep you locked to your seat and giggling maniacally. (Not to mention headhunters, smugglers, and beautiful women with poisonous pet spiders.) You’ll also welcome back Rufus, the wacky, mystical Jamaican Rastaman, and be captivated by another “complicated romance” as Kansas and Will struggle with finding and keeping “the girls of their dreams.”

So pour yourself a margarita, and get comfortable. You’re in for another rousing medley of madcap adventures in paradise, with “Back On The Road To Key West.”



Michael Reisig takes us back once again to the Key West I wish I had known – and that others wish they remembered more clearly. Kansas and Will are back in “Back on the Road to Key West,” with their trademark penchant for sultry sarcasm and sun-drenched excitement. Once again Reisig captures the character of the Keys in a way that proves he’s been here – and perhaps done that. No one wraps us in humidity and surrounds us with saltwater like this guy, whose tales of the tropics draw us constantly back to their welcoming, yet provocative shores. -- Mandy Miles, The Key West Citizen

Having lived in Key West in the late '70's and early '80's, at a time when Mel Fisher still hunted the Atocha, shrimp boats filled the harbors, and ‘square grouper’ were still an abundant species, Michael Reisig's Back on the Road to Key West, transports me back in time. Will Bell and Kansas Stamps face an assortment of ruthless antagonists and chase adventure with the abandon of the era, and whether you lived it or not, don't miss the chance to now. Vivid imagery, strong prose and an exciting plot make this trip with the boys worth taking. Enjoy the ride!"
-- John H. Cunningham, author of the Buck Reilly Adventure Series

Stumbling their way in and out of trouble and fortune, Kansas Stamps and Will Bell continue to be the idols of what every true Parrot Head imagines real life in The Keys would be -- full of spontaneous adventure. What a great read!
– Bryan Crews, former president, Tampa Parrot Head Club

Buy @ Amazon


Fast-paced humor-adventure with wacky pilots, quirky con men, bold women, mad villains, and a gadget to die for…

In the third book of Michael Reisig’s captivating series, Florida Keys adventurers Kansas Stamps and
Will Bell find their lives turned upside down when they discover a truth device hidden in the temple of an ancient civilization. Enthralled by the virtue (and entertainment value) of personally dispensing truth and justice with this unique tool, they take it all a step too far and discover that everyone wants what they have.

Seasoned with outrageous humor and sultry romances, Along The Road To Key West carries you through one wild adventure after another. This time, Kansas and Will are forced to wrest veracity and lies from con artists, divine hustlers, and political power brokers while trying to stay one step ahead of a persistent assembly of very bad guys with guns.
In the process, from Key West, into the Caribbean, and back to America’s heartland, our inadvertent heroes gather a bizarre collage of friends and enemies – from a whacked-out, one-eyed pilot, and a mystical Rastaman, to a ruthless problem-solver for a prominent religious sect, a zany flimflamming sociopath, and a Cuban intelligence agent. In the end, it all comes down to a frantic gamble – to save far more than the truth. So pour yourself a margarita and settle back. You’re in for a high intensity Caribbean carnival ride!

NOTE: Much of this book was originally published as a novel of mine called, “The Truthmaker.” But with the growing popularity of my “Road To Key West” series, I decided to rewrite it and publish it as “Along The Road To Key West.” – Michael Reisig

Buy @ Amazon
Genre - Caribbean Humor, Adventure
Rating – PG
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Lichgates: Grimoire Saga1 @TheSMBoyce #AmReading #Fantasy #GoodReads

Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2014

Something rustled in the far corner. She spun around, but instead of a gray soldier or the brunette woman, she saw only a small white fox. The little creature leaned against the bars and cocked its head, eyeing her as its giant ears flicked around to absorb the trolls’ hulking movements.
The fox trotted over and sniffed the torn hem of her jeans before looking up with its striking blue eyes. She reached out with her bound hands and gently scratched its chin. It hummed with pleasure. Kara grinned.
“At least not everything here is scary,” she said.
The little fox popped its eyes open and stared at her for a moment before it changed shape. Its fur melted away into the wet scales of a red lizard with a single black stripe running down its spine. Kara yelped as the fox-now-lizard creature scurried over the wood and out of sight. She covered her face with her hands and cursed beneath her breath.
She stifled a sob. “I want to go home.”
“Ourea isn’t the sort of place you can leave. It always drags you back,” Braeden mumbled, awake now.
“More comforting words of wisdom?” she asked, peering through her fingers to catch his bruised and battered gaze.
“No. You hardly seemed fond of that.” He stretched his fingers out behind him, and drops of the black liquid fell faster from around the cuffs as he moved.
“What’s wrong with your hands?”
“These shackles have poisoned spikes.”
She whistled. “Wow. Can I do anything to help?”
“No, but thank you.”
“Is that black stuff the poison?”
“I guess you could say that.”
“Is that a yes?”
Braeden frowned. “It’s my blood.”
“Wait, your blood is black?”
Well, it wasn’t the weirdest thing she’d seen in the last twenty four hours. She had yet to recover from those stupid roots and the book that turned its own pages.
“You know, blood is kind of important, Braeden. It’s not usually a poisonous thing.”
“It’s a long story.”
She gestured at the cage. “I’m not exactly going anywhere.”
“I think everything will become painfully obvious if we are headed for the same place, which I hope we aren’t.” His expression darkened, his eyebrows casting a shadow over his eyes. He looked up at her, and a chill crept down her neck.
“Wow. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, too. To think, I was going to take those cuffs off you.” She leaned against the cell wall as they took another bend in the road.
“As kind an offer as that is, only the person who put them on can take them off. And I meant only that you will not want to go where I’m being taken.”

“The writing is flawless. The kingdoms and surrounding landscapes breathtaking. The Grimoire is a piece of imaginative genius that bedazzles from the moment Kara falls into the land of Ourea. – Nikki Jefford, author of the Spellbound Trilogy
Spring 2013 Rankings
#6 Kindle Store | #1 Science Fiction & Fantasy | #1 Epic Fantasy | #1 Sword & Sorcery | #1 Teens
Now an international Amazon bestseller. Fans of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Eragon will enjoy this contemporary remix of the classic epic fantasy genre.
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.
Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict – a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.
Novels in the Grimoire Saga:
Lichgates (#1)
Treason (#2)
Heritage (#3) – Available Fall 2013
Illusion (#4) – Available Fall 2014
Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG13
More details about the author
 Connect with SM Boyce on Facebook & Twitter & Pinterest


High Maga #Excerpt by Karin Rita Gastreich (#Fantasy #Fiction)

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2014

When the dancers arrived, lithe girls draped in translucent veils, Mechnes took his cup in hand and strolled restless about the hall, observing the drunken revelry with a keen and sober eye.

Meanara’s surviving offspring, three in all, sat closest to the San’iloman. Gluttonous men, they were now fat and useless with age. Already they had expressed opposition to the campaign for Moisehén, and they could yet stir up unrest over the circumstances of Rishona’s succession. Mechnes gave them a month, at most, before Rishona’s poisons found a way into their households.

The other brothers would be less inclined to oppose her, at least for the moment. All those born to the Second Wife Lhandra, including Mechnes and Paolus-Nur, respected Rishona, having witnessed her passion for weaponry during the years in which she trained with Mechnes. She had earned their admiration in a way no other woman could, though mere admiration, Mechnes knew, was not enough to keep her on the throne.

“Brother.” Paolus-Nur appeared at his side, one hand holding his cup, the other coming to rest on Mechnes’s shoulder. “Why that scowl upon your face?”

Mechnes grunted and nodded toward a fair-headed man who played the dulcimer. “That new musician is careless; his instrument is not well-tuned, and he strays ahead of the rhythm.”
Paolus-Nur shrugged. “None will notice with the wine we’ve had.”

“I notice.”

“Dismiss him, then.”

“I will. Tonight. In a most unceremonious fashion.”

Paolus-Nur chuckled, drew close, and lowered his voice. “You never hesitate to dispose of that which is useless. It makes me wonder what witchcraft kept you from taking our niece’s head?”
Mechnes did not return Paolus’s questioning gaze but continued to study his musicians with a critical eye. “Who is asking?”

“All your brothers, including those born by the second wife of Joturi-Nur.”

“There was no witchcraft at work. Our father named her, and she defended her claim. Custom demands the blood of but one sibling, and with good reason. Had you cut her down, another might have challenged you, and then another would have challenged him. By the end of it, all Joturi-Nur’s sons would have drowned in their own blood, except me of course.” He shot Paolus-Nur a sharp glance, assessing his brother’s stance, the set of his jaw, the placement of his hand on the hilt of his knife. “Indeed, now that I reflect on the matter, perhaps it would have served me better to be rid of the whole brood at once.”

Paolus smiled and drank from his wine. He was three years Mechnes’s senior, but looked the younger, when one compared his lean figure to Mechnes’s stocky build and battle-worn face. “You did not answer my question. You could have challenged her yourself, and none would have opposed you. Why did you not spill her blood?”

Mechnes let his gaze settle on Rishona. She had shed her mourning robes before the feast, donning a more provocative gown of gold, scarlet, cerulean and ivory. The silky folds clung to the curves of her torso and hinted at the length of her legs. Bracelets adorned her bare arms and shapely ankles. Her black hair fell in voluptuous waves to her waist. A simple diadem sat on her forehead, accentuating the magnetic pull of her kohl-darkened eyes.

“Because it pleases me to see her alive,” he replied. “Rishona is of my household. She is like a daughter to me, and I am as her father. She may carry Joturi-Nur’s sword, but I am the one who wields its power.”

Paolus narrowed his blue-gray eyes. “Then it is your wish, not hers, that we invade Moisehén?”

“It is my wish, and hers. Moisehén is a worthy conquest, and it is Rishona’s kingdom, by right of birth.”

“The people of Moisehén know nothing of her or her heritage.”

“That,” Mechnes replied, “is hardly relevant.”


Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.

Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.

What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.

HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.

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Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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#Zombie Days, Campfire Nights by Leah Rhyne @Leah_Beth #Horror #SciFi

Posted on Friday, May 9, 2014

The first sign that something wasn’t quite right was a sign. Literally.  The ride had been pretty calm since Isabelle still wasn’t speaking to Ty and was busily filing her nails. Scratch, scratch, scratch. The noise was making me crazy, so I’d opened my window to watch the pine trees and hear the wind on the mountain road.  We hadn’t gone far before Isabelle started whining to me again.

“I’m hungry, Sam. Will you pull over somewhere so I can get a snack?”

I rolled my eyes and glanced in the rear-view mirror. Scratch, scratch, scratch. “We’re not stopping,” I said. “There’s a place coming up, but I’m ready to get home.”

“But I’m hungry,” she said again.  She pushed my seat with her knee, shaking me.  “So hungry. And you know when my blood sugar drops too low I get grouchy.”

“Only then?” I muttered, and then looked to Ty.  “You don’t want to stop, right?”
He shrugged. “I don’t care.  If it’ll keep her quiet, just stop. We’ll get home at some point.”
“Please? Pretty please? I’m so hungry.”
I sighed.  I was thirsty, and that little country convenience store wascoming up soon.  Ty and I stopped there all the time for beer to take back to the dorms since they didn’t card.  I guessed a six-pack for the road wouldn’t hurt.  “Fine. But you’re not allowed to ask for anything else for the rest of the ride.”

She sat up straighter for a second and clapped her hands like a little kid, but then went right back to filing her nails after shooting Ty another dirty look.  Scratch, scratch, scratch.
I could almost taste the beer by the time I pulled off the highway. My blinker flickered as I started to turn, when Ty sucked in a breath.  “Somebody’s been busy,” he said.
“Just look.”  He pointed to the store.
The sign that normally lit up in neon to say Tucker’s Country Store was dark, even in the bright sunlight.  A piece of grey plywood covered half of it, and across the wood, scrawled in the messy chicken scratch of anyone trying to write with spray paint, were the words, “All dead.  Turn back.”
I rolled the Jeep to a stop at the far end of the small parking lot, and squinted through the windshield. 

“All dead?” I said.
“Turn back,” Ty finished.
Scratch, scratch... “What did you say?” Isabelle unbuckled her seat belt and leaned forward between us. Then she covered her mouth with her other hand. “What is that?  Boys? Boys? What is that?  With her free hand, the one with the file still in it, she gripped my shoulder, jabbing me in the neck.
I shoved her hand off, and my finger came away bloody. “What the fuck, Isabelle? Ouch!”
Isabelle turned to her boyfriend. “Ty, should we go in? Why would somebody say that? All dead?”

“Dude, Isabelle, calm down! It’s probably just some prank. You’re the hungry one who wanted to stop, right?”  He yanked on the handle and pushed the door open.
I was staring at the building, though.  “Buddy, I’m not so sure this is a prank.  The back door hung open, swinging drunkenly in the breeze.  Clapboards were missing from the siding, and I smelled smoke in the air.  “Something’s not right,” I said, a little louder, as Ty stepped out of the Jeep.  I’d seen something move in the window, behind a blind, and then a tube stuck out through a hole in the glass.  Ty was five feet away from the store.
Crack.  The gunshot shattered the silence.
Isabelle screamed.  Ty dropped to the ground, and I didn’t know if he was shot or not. I dove across the seat and out the opened door and grabbed him by the back of the neck.  “Ty? Ty! C’mon, bud, sit up.”
He turned his head and looked up at me. “Get the f**k in the car!  Drive!”  There was no blood in the dirt, and I started to back up.
The gun fired again and we both jumped back into the Jeep.  Pulling the door closed behind him as a third shot went off, Ty hissed, “They’re not shooting at us.  They’re point blank, they’re missing on purpose.” We were huddled on the floor and couldn’t see a thing other than the dirt through the floor plug.  Isabelle was strangely quiet; she’d even stopped screaming, so I lifted my head to see why. I half expected to see her slumped over, dead, with a bullet hole in her forehead. Instead, she sat silent, rigid, her face frozen with her mouth hanging open and her eyes as huge as softballs.
“Isabelle! What is it?” Ty sat up, too.
Together we turned our heads to look out the front windshield.  From around the side of the building lurched a zombie.  There was no other way to describe it.  As big as a linebacker, it zeroed in on the Jeep, snarling and drooling.  Black goo oozed from a gash in his chest, staining the front of a flannel shirt. Part of his hip was missing, and his jeans were still attached by a black leather belt.  His arms reached for us, and within moments he was at the Jeep’s hood. 

“Holy shit,” I whispered, and in some part of my brain, I wished like hell that my brother was there. 

He and I’d watched so many horror movies growing up, I kind of wanted him to see this.


Millions died when the zombie plague swept the country. For the survivors, the journey has just begun. Jenna, Sam, and Lola are still alive. Jenna avoids human contact, traveling East Coast backroads with her boyfriend, a dog named Chicken, and a Louisville Slugger. Sam escapes to the mountains, where he's conscripted into a zombie-slaying militia sent on nightly raids to kill the undead...and innocent civilians. 

Lola's imprisoned in the "safety" of a zombie-free New Orleans hotel, but life grows more dangerous when her brother gets bitten by a zombie. Jenna arrives in the French Quarter, lured by the false promises of New Orleans' drunken leader. There, she's ripped away from her boyfriend, drugged, and dumped in a death camp after refusing Franklin's sexual advances. 

Jenna and Lola's lives collide there, where the dead live and the dying are victims of gruesome medical experiments. Escape isn't easy: release the genetically-enhanced zombies from the lab to create a diversion, slip away, and don't get eaten. When Sam arrives, will he join the right side of the battle?

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Genre – NA-Horror, Sci-fi
Rating – PG-13
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