Shark River

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Dindi is kidnapped to be the bride of a shark... To escape she must untangle a terrible curse caused by a love and magic gone wrong.


This stand-alone novella is set in Faearth, the world of The Unfinished Song. Available here ONLY.


The Unfinished Song - This Young Adult Epic Fantasy series has sold over  70,000 copies and has 1,072 Five Star Ratings on Goodreads.

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May 5, 2014

Bloodfire by Helen Harper

BloodfireCheck out the first book in Helen Harper’s Blood Destiny series: Bloodfire.

Mackenzie Smith has always known that she was different. Growing up as the only human in a pack of rural shapeshifters will do that to you, but then couple it with some mean fighting skills and a fiery temper and you end up with a woman that few will dare to cross. However, when the only father figure in her life is brutally murdered, and the dangerous Brethren with their predatory Lord Alpha come to investigate, Mack has to not only ensure the physical safety of her adopted family by hiding her apparent humanity, she also has to seek the blood-soaked vengeance that she craves.

Download Bloodfire from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords.


A sound came from outside and the waiting pack straightened their shoulders and puffed out their chests as if they were one.  I did the complete opposite and tried to hunch down.  The wooden doors at the right of the hall swung open and twenty or so people, all dressed from head to toe in designer black, came casually striding in.

As if they owned the place, I thought, gritting my teeth and hunching down lower.

The Brethren stopped and lined up in front of us.  All of their hands were resting lightly on weapons that hung from their belts.  Even from my lowered position I could see the glint of steel.  Flexing their authority, no doubt.  I looked fixedly down at the floor instead.

A tall gray haired man stepped forward, eyes sweeping over all of us.  The room was so quiet that I fancied I’d be able to hear Anton’s balls finally dropping behind me.  I risked a glance up at their new leader.  He wasn’t what I’d expected. No obvious outpourings of power or charisma.  He didn’t look weak physically but neither would I have thought that I couldn’t beat him in a fair fight.  This was just a guy – and an old guy at that.  I studied him carefully.  There was certainly an air of grace and elegance surrounding him and he held himself with confidence and the suggestion of strength but still…I didn’t see it.  Maybe it was a shapeshifter thing.

He started to speak. “The Brethren brings condolences for the loss of the Cornish pack’s alpha.  We know that he was a good leader who kept the Way and held you together.  Do not fear that we will not uncover the truth of what happened.” His slate gray eyes slid over the room. “His death was untimely and – unexpected.”

I blinked at the sudden unexpected rise of tears and my throat constricted and felt tight.  John had kept us safe, all of us safe.  He had never treated me differently, despite my non-shifter status, and had even spent a ridiculous amount of time training me to fight so that I could hold my own against the rest of the pack should they suddenly decide that having a puny human amongst them was them was too much insult to bear.  And there were some who thought that way – Anton behind me for one.

A memory rose unbidden of my ten year old self and John outside the keep.

I had been crouched down, throwing dagger in hand, shaking in fear.

“Mackenzie Smith, if you give into fear then it will rule you.  Take the fear and turn it into focus.  Use that focus wisely.  Feel for the creature and prepare your mind.”

We had been hunting a small wyvern that had been terrorising local farms.  The Cornish pack was generally peaceable and didn’t engage in much fighting (well, very few people or even Otherworldly things came to sleepy Cornwall to fight) but John had insisted that this was the time I put my training to the test in the real world.  I had straightened up slowly and targeted my thoughts towards the clump of trees at the far end of the field.  No fear.

A huffing sound had vibrated towards us.  I had blocked out everything else and focused on the noise, willing the wyvern to leave the safety of the brush and come out.

“That’s it,” came John’s voice.  “You WILL do this.”

I remember gripping the dagger tighter and taking a step forward, probing the trees with my eyes until I spotted a sudden movement on my far left.  I took a step forward, and then another.  Without warning the wyvern had burst out of the copse and flown like a dagger towards me, staying low to the mossy ground.  I kept hold of the fear and, as the creature swooped close, I swung up, gripped onto its leathery neck and hung on with one arm.  The wyvern had screeched in rage and dragged me up.  It had veered one way then another, trying to shake me off before a taloned claw came swiping round to scrape me off.  I had raised my leg and snap kicked the claws out of the way.  I felt hot inside and knew that the fire, if I let it, would burn out of control.  With my free hand I felt for the soft space in between the beast’s shoulder blades and sank the dagger in.  Of course once the wyvern tail-spun down I had belatedly realised I was far too high and that hitting the ground was going to be very hard and very painful.

“Focus the fear and fan the flames,” I had whispered to myself, before letting go of the wyvern’s neck at the last minute and rolling to the side to avoid being squished.

My technique had been sloppy and careless but John had run towards me with a huge grin splitting his face.  He’d gathered me up in a bear hug.

“See? See?  I knew you could do it.  You might not be a shifter, girl, but you have got skills, and power.  You’re amazing.”  His eyes had shone down at me with pride and I had realised in that moment that nothing else mattered.  I had killed the wyvern and he was proud.  It didn’t matter that I was human; I could focus my mind with more skill than most shifters and I had taken down the little dragon when half of the pack would have been too scared to try.  I belonged.

Later we had stripped down the carcass together and burnt it.  I still had a tooth from the creature’s mouth in the small chest where I kept my meager valuables.  John had not let me fail at anything – but now he was dead and I had failed him.

Not without some effort, I zoned back into the present and realised that the gray eyed man was still talking.  “These are dangerous times and you are without an alpha.  For thirty years we have left you in peace.  We respect the Cornish pack and the work that you do keeping this corner of the country safe, however we also offer you an opportunity to brighten these sad days.  We will aid you by conducting the ceremony and appointing a new alpha, as is our responsibility.  We will hold evaluations and interviews with every single pack member to ensure the appropriate alpha is chosen.

“And we also extend you an invitation.  The best and the brightest among you may join us, come to London and become part of the Brethren, the shape-shifter elite.  We have spaces for new recruits.  This is your opportunity to join in the battle to keep all of this world, not just Cornwall, safe from all harm.”

A tremor of excitement and fear ran through the assembly.  Well, that was interesting.  Not only would the individual pack members be able to leave and join other packs around the country but they now could also become part of the so-called elite.  I knew that just as there would be many shrinking from this challenge, just as many would rise to it and demand it.  My brow furrowed.  No doubt the Brethren were really just looking for cannon fodder.  I felt my hackles rise while forcing myself to acknowledge that this could be a good thing.  As much as I might despise them for their reported brutality and aggression, the Brethren could be doing me a massive personal favour.  A new alpha would keep my geas in place, and the Brethren’s recruitment drive would surely allow me to see off the likes of all those troublesome shifters who still couldn’t accept me.  And who were probably champing at the bit to show off anyway.  I was still contentedly sure that Julia would be named alpha  – otherwise why else would her Voice now be working?

Without false modesty I knew that, despite my human shortcomings, Julia was right and the pack benefited from at least some of my skills.  I might not able to shift but I was pretty much the best they had in any fight, to the extent that since I’d turned into a teenager and gone into defense full time they hadn’t lost any shifter to anyone or anything. Apart from John.  I grimaced and shoved that thought away before it overwhelmed me.

Beside me, I could hear Tom panting like a puppy, patently desperate for approval.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if he jumped up then and there screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!”  Never mind, I’d manage to convince him otherwise later.

Forgetting that I was supposed to be keeping my head down, I scanned the ranks of the other Brethren shifters. I was curious now about what their feelings were about taking in some of their distant country bumpkin cousins.  My eyes travelled down the line.  There was a bored looking blonde haired woman with a stance that suggested predator –wolf perhaps – then a slight dark man who was obviously a fox judging by the calculating cunning in his eyes, then there was…uh-oh.

The next shifter was looking right at me.  Green gold predatory eyes gazed into mine expressionlessly.  I snapped my eyes back to the floor and stopped breathing.

I’m no-one, no-one worthy of attention, I whispered silently, trying to quash the rising panic.  I couldn’t endanger the rest of the pack by being discovered.  Every sinew in my body screamed but I forced myself to keep my eyes and head trained on the ground.

Don’t look up.  Don’t look up.  Don’t look up.  Seconds passed.  Minutes.


To read the rest of the story, download Bloodfire from AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboiTunes and Smashwords.

Find more from Helen on her website, Twitter and Facebook.


April 30, 2014

Sprung by Kelbian Noel

FinalSPRUNG_coverMEDDiscover Kelbian Noel’s Witchbound series with this sample from book 2, Sprung.

Since she discovered magic, seventeen-year-old Skye Jackson’s life is almost perfect. Almost. Even perfect has its glitches.

What happens when the one with all the power makes the biggest mistakes? Welcome to my life. 

Four months ago, I couldn’t have been happier. When my parents got divorced, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. Especially when Mom married a guy half her age. But then I found out I wasn’t the average Joana. Discovering magic existed and, best of all, I could use it, made everything easier to deal with. That is until I got a little too spell happy. But what girl wouldn’t defend her best friend against a world-class creep? Now I’m stuck in a nightmare, forced to make life and death decisions I never dreamed I’d face.

Love the magic. Hate the responsibility.

Sprung is available to download from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


I tiptoe across the room to stand in front of the chest. Running my fingers across the dark ancient wood, I glance back at Nana, one more time, before making my move. She’s fast asleep, still seated in her favorite chair in front of the window. Head slumped to the side, mouth parted, slightly.

With lips bitten together and eyes squeezed shut, I hold my breath and ease the top drawer halfway open. Slipping my hand inside until I find my treasure, I pull back slowly, the small green book firmly grasped between my fingers.  With a final glance at Nana, I sink to the floor, leaning my back up against the corner wall.

I’ve been visiting her in this home for almost five years, but it wasn’t until a few months ago things changed. Five years, without a word, and I’m the first one she opens up to? I stroke the rough pages of the book with my fingers. It can’t be a coincidence. From what I’ve learned so far, magic never is.

I close my eyes again and mutter the spell she taught me on the very first day.

“Solidify this room and refresh this place. Sterilize my thoughts, anoint their minds. Consecrate this space.” A slight breeze blows across the room and I tilt my head upwards with a smile. After all these weeks, and all the spells, the wonder of it all is still firmly intact.

Magic is real. And it’s in me.

All those weeks ago, this Secrecy Spell kept every nurse and orderly from doing so much as knock on the door. For hours, she filled my head with stories she’d been telling since my childhood. Tales that, up until now, I thought were just that—fairy tales, stories to coax a little girl to sleep. But I was wrong. And she was harboring a huge secret.

Ever since, that same spell has allowed me to snoop at will—provided she doesn’t wake up from her nap anytime soon.

I gaze back down at the book, holding it close to my face and picking up where I left off.

She was the most beautiful woman with a rich life beyond measurement. But love can sometimes play the villain. For a heart as pure as hers, the break was clean. She loved fiercely, and when the Universe changed course, she forced its hand. Extending a life that was meant to move on.

But her lover’s soul had been promised to another and, despite her efforts, the love was gone. In despair, she vowed to spend the rest of eternity searching for his replacement. She cast a spell more powerful than any other had seen, one that would seal her fate and the future of all Elementals.

From that day forward, the Pure would revere, the Tainted would covet.

 “Elementals,” I whisper.

I’ve seen the word at least fifty times in just the first half of the book. The names of most of the spells are in a language I don’t recognize, but in parentheses beside each one is always the word Elemental.  Still, I have no clue what it means.

If only I could ask her. I turn the page, my gaze shifting briefly to Nana.

With a finger, I quickly scan through the pages of the text.  “Elemental, Elemental, Elemen—“ I hold the book even closer to my face. “Elementals, the vessels of Pure magic. These four rare individuals hold the ultimate power. Ancient and pure.  Seoirse—Earth, Govad—Air, Irving—Fire, Conley—Water.”


I read through the rest of the page, glued to the story, taken by each word.

 ~Ireland (1413)

Four clans: Seoirse, Govad, Irving and Conley. The most powerful witches known to man and beast. The originals.  Elementals.

Together they wielded the purest of magic. Healed the sick, fertilized the land, and drove out demons. Their magic was revered, but with reverence came covetousness.

The Tainted soon emerged.  Joining the family, simply for power, their children were trained to use the magic to their advantage, wielding it to succeed in unfair undertakings such as wealth and popularity in the face of competition.

Dissonance abounded within the village and the Elementals saw it fit to alter access to magic. No longer was it a birthright, but a spiritual connection. The Earth’s mystical power would only yield to those able to commune with its elements.

With this change came an opportunity for all individuals to access Elemental power, magic in its purest form. Thus, a new problem emerged—magic was discovered and used by hundreds. The elements were manipulated, through animal and human sacrifices. Tainted arts began to thrive.

After decades of discord, the Church interceded, vowing to put an end to magic. An end to the Elementals.

But only for a time.

A loud clatter jolts me to attention and I shoot up from the floor. Tucking the book in my back pocket, I quickly close the drawer.

Nana groans, stretching her legs out in front of her. “Did I fall asleep on you again?” She wipes the side of her face with the back of her hand.

“It’s okay,” I say. Darting across the room, I bend to pick up the fallen tray. “I—I have to go. I’m supposed to be at Claire’s and—”

“Secrecy?” Nana sniffs. “Why?”

“Um,” I lick my lips. “I…you looked so comfortable I didn’t want them to wake you.”

“Hmm.” She glances at her watch and my gaze shifts to the floor. “Magic isn’t for such frivolous things, Skye. If that were the case—”

The door to her room opens and an orderly rolls in with her afternoon serving of pills. Nana and I lock gazes, and as he passes by me, I place a hand on his arm, forcing him to make eye contact. “Not today,” I say. “She’s doing just fine.”

With that, he offers a curt nod, and circles back and out the door.

Nana smirks.

I cross my arms. “What were you saying about frivolity?”

She clears her throat. “You know what those things do to me. Come.” She beckons for me to sit down on the windowsill across from her. “One more story, before you go.”



To read the rest of Sprung, download it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

To find more from Kelbian, visit her website, Twitter, Goodreads and Facebook.

April 29, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 7

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

Hood and Fae-big

Cormac waved at me and we both hid behind something I thought was a big boulder, but upon postmortem discovered was the wreck of a station wagon. Skeletons sat sideways inside. Not sure what killed them, as they had their seatbelts on. Granted, garroted around their necks.

“I think I know what echelon we’re in,” I whispered, “Wr…”

“Wreyth,” Cormac said with me.

“You know it.”

“I know goblins.” Not a lot of affection there. “Do you have a gun?”

“Right here.” I showed him the Spirit Gun.

“That won’t work,” he said. “It’s an exorcist gun.”

“So what, it only works in a gym?”

“It only works on ghosts or spirits possessing bodies not their own. It won’t kill a human, unless he’s a werewolf or a vampire. It won’t kill a goblin who is in his own echelon.”

“Do you have a gun?” I asked.

“I hate guns.”

“Seriously? I like guns a lot better than punching. They don’t hurt.”

“I’m pretty sure guns hurt people.”

“I meant they don’t hurt my knuckles.”

Cormac snorted. “Goblins love guns too. Unfortunately.”

He was right. Every single one of the goblins was packing heat. They had some impressive pieces too. Pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, machine guns, grenade launchers, flamethrowers….Sheesh.

“I guess we both better weapon up. Think our friends will mind?”

He gestured to the skeletons. They were not only armed, but the rusty trunk, which Cormac broke open, contained dozens more guns and packs of ammo, and even a nest of grenades. We each grabbed two guns. I packed as many more guns and ammo into the picnic basket as would fit. I wasn’t sure how stable those grenades were, so I almost left them. At the last minute, I plucked two and squirreled them away with the other weapons.



“Can we die here?”

“Yes. And if we die here, we regenerate here—but not as humans. As goblins. We won’t be just dead; we’ll be damned too. So try not to get killed.”

Awesome. I felt a lot better now.



Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.

April 28, 2014

Don’t Fear the Reaper by Michelle Muto

Reaper1400Check out this coming-of-age fantasy tale from bestselling author Michelle Muto: Don’t Fear the Reaper.


Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace. But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.


When the demon offers Keely her ultimate temptation–revenge on her sister’s killer–she must determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, the reaper and demon have been keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true–that her every decision changes how, and with whom, she spends eternity.




Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me.

I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me.

Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.

Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven…

I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that?

She should still be here. It wasn’t fair.

I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.

Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort.

Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death.

I shall fear no evil.

I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.

I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?

Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient.

It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.

I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra.

The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.

Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing.

The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.

I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too.

My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes.

Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.

Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.

I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough?

No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please…

I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel?

Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet.

“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black.

“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.

Dull gray clouded my sight.

A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again.

“—okay, Keely.”

Cold. So cold.

“I’m right here.”

There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were so…blue, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.

Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.


Download Don’t Fear the Reaper from AmazonBarnes and Noble or iTunes.

Find more from Michelle on her blog, Twitter and Facebook.

April 24, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 6

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

Hood and Fae-big

All around, the once beautiful forest had been transformed, as if it had been ravaged by a forest fire then turned into a dump yard. The Douglas firs were blackened skeletons, surrounded by tattered skirts of plastic grunge. Trash blew everywhere: empty bags of chips, crumpled spit wads of aluminum foil, newspaper (really? who even reads those anymore?) plastic bottles, glass bottles, beer cans, whole subdivisions of cigarette butts.

 “It’s like all the delinquents of all the high schools in the country snuck to this very spot to have a smoke,” I marveled.

“Why do you think the trees are all burned? A lot of pyromaniacs end up in echelons like this. But not a lot of firefighters.”

“Where’s Bryn?”

“I don’t know. She can’t be far, but we don’t dare rush. This may the juvie hall of Hell, but it’s still a dangerous place.”

“Is it… did we really go anywhere? Everything looks the same, but warped.”

“Every echelon is like a mirror earth. A funhouse mirror.”

“But some are less fun than others.”

“I don’t know which one we’re in yet, but I can tell it’s one of the Ghoulie earths. If it were an echelon of Hades, it would be much worse.”

Ghoulie: the opposite of Faerie. “But it’s still part of Hell.”

“Yeah. So watch your back.”

“Can Bryn see all this without a Talisman?”

“She can now. She’s here in her human body, same as we are.”

We heard a scream.

“I’d say we found her,” Cormac remarked.



Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.

April 23, 2014

Breaking Cadence by Rebecca Clare Smith

BCad-400x600_WebToday I’m excited to share the first book in the dark fantasy Survival Trilogy, Breaking Cadence.

I snorted softly. “You expect me to believe that you came to town looking for a cure? I’m not stupid, Zander. There is no cure. There never will be.”

“Oh there is,” he assured, staring right at me. “There has been for years.”

Decontaminated. Deflowered. Defunct.

Cadence Laurence has suffered pain and humiliation at the hands of the town committee, but the saving grace of her torture means nothing when her brother, Alex, and his girlfriend, Kitty, break the rules for the last time.

Now the only place they have left to go is on the run in the unforgiving Wastelands, a place where sand spiders and the Infected become the least of their problems when Cady’s ex-lover escapes her darkened past and deepens their plight with an agenda of his own.

Dodging Wastelanders out for blood and Kitty’s father determined for revenge, can Cadence avoid a bite from the Infected long enough to save her two wards and escape or will her ex-lover’s plans destroy them all?

Warning: Mature content with reference to criminal, adult-themed acts that may serve as triggers.

Download Breaking Cadence from AmazonSmashwordsApple iBooks and Barnes & Noble.


It was raining the day we were outcast. And I blamed him.

I drove my car over to their house, windscreen wipers flipping in the heavy downpour as my headlights grazed the row of small suburban bungalows. This was one of the more populated areas but the street was quiet. Nobody was out.

A streak of white caught my eye. My brother’s car sat comfortably in their driveway, engine off. I pursed my lips together and tugged my eye patch a little further down. I would be unwelcome, but they would just have to deal with that.

My car pulled smoothly to a stop, barely any noise emanating from the wheels in the kerbside puddles. The headlights died, leaving the faded ginger streetlamp the only light source. I took off a glove and wiped the rain residue from my brow as if it was sweat. It dripped from my sodden hair, staining my cheeks and clothes. I’d been walking when she’d called over to me, all filled up with panic. A stroll to reminisce would have to wait now.

The box on the seat behind was still there, strangely reassuring me in the rear view mirror. It was white and well cared for even though the dress, once entombed, was no longer inside.

But these things change.

Heavy hearted, I swallowed, glancing up at the house between the shadows of running rain on the window. If it had been anyone other than Sera who’d asked I wouldn’t have gone, but I’d sealed all our fates when I’d said yes to her.

Yet, hesitation clawed at me. He should be old enough to look after himself and to follow the rules, but obviously that was too much to ask for. This was not somewhere I’d choose to go. The cold windows of the house stared back.

I still remembered the family inside. They despised the tainted ones.

Tainted one. There was only me, now, to claim that title. All others had drifted away or died. I established the knife in my belt, just in case, and then stepped out of the car. The rain had grown heavier. It hit my coat like a shower of lead shot, reminding me of long days in the Wastelands. It was always heavy there when it came.

My key checked the car door with a soft chink like locking it would really matter in a place like this. My shadow cut a dark line in the dull orange light. The neighbours were probably watching behind their darkened curtains, but the street remained eerily quiet all except for the sound of the skittering rain. The silence didn’t bother me any more. I moved past my brother’s car, hand sliding across the cold, wet paintwork as I passed.

He would be inside the house courting the girl, but that was no excuse for taking that thing from Sera. He was getting us all into trouble.

I stepped up to the door and instead of simply turning the handle, I knocked. An uneasy feeling unfolded in my stomach like the separation of haemoglobin and plasma in a bag full of blood. Crimson and ochre. You were always supposed to knock, but I hadn’t knocked in a very long time.

The door opened filtering out a cold light. She stood there with curlers in her hair, feverish rings under her too wide eyes like a ventriloquist’s dummy. If her lips hadn’t compressed I might have mistaken her for one of the Infected. Her shock died down, her eyes tightened to small holes. It didn’t take a genius to work out that she’d recognised me.

“I don’t want you in my house.”

It wasn’t really her house; it was just one of many things inherited from long dead inhabitants, but there was little to gain from arguing with her. To her and plenty of others I was already outcast.

What was going to happen would make no difference to that.

“He’s here and I need to see him.” I raised an eyebrow at her impassive façade. “Is Maurice inside?”

Her eyes flared for half a second, telling me all I needed to know. Diplomacy wasn’t usually my strong point where committee members were concerned. My hands tightened into balls and I tried to soften my tone, gentle but unyielding.

“Let me in, Wilma. I’ll speak to my brother and I’ll be gone.” She didn’t inch from the door, her pincers curled around the wood. My gaze levelled on her, cool and calm. “I give you my word.”

“What good’s your word?” she hissed, retracting from the entrance nevertheless.

I stepped inside, moving smoothly past her as she recoiled. Frightened rabbit syndrome scratched her gaze. Once upon a time, I might have sympathised, but now I didn’t care having been treated to her cruel words and unkindness more than I deserved.

The kitchen felt loveless, the kind of place where food preparation had no passion and eating was a task forced in silence. It was a graveyard to fine dining, the pale bulb sluicing everything in a jaundiced light.

Wilma still held the door ajar, her eyes burning into my back. Her disdain hardly registered any more. Instead, I focused on the voices in the other room. The girl’s laughter wrinkled my nose. Silly teens. I pushed through the door, soft browns and pale creams divining nothing but a washed out heart of a so-called living room.

They were on the sofa. My brother saw me first, rolling his gaze and wrenching his lips into a twist of disgust. “If they sent you to spy on me–”

“You took Sera’s pet.” The words were hushed. “You know what’ll happen if they find it.” My hem dripped dark circles onto the faded carpet, pooling around my boots. My brother’s mouth moved into a line. I could see the cogs working in his skull, preparing his angry excuse. “I need to take it now, before you get us all into trouble.”


To read the rest of the story, download Breaking Cadence from AmazonSmashwordsApple iBooks and Barnes & Noble.

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April 22, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 5

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

Hood and Fae-big

My sister loftily ignored the arrows of pique Cormac shot at her. While he dressed with minimum movement and maximum speed, she averted her gaze and addressed me. “He could have learned the name of the real Forest Ranger any number of ways.”

“The uniform fits him pretty well,” I noted. Really well.

Bryn snapped her attention back to Cormac. Her eyes bugged and her jaw slacked. Personally, I thought he’d looked damn fine without a stitch on, but he did look dashing all gussied up, and Bryn had always had a thing for a man in uniform. On the other hand, Bryn had always had a thing for stubborn, too. She crossed her arms.

“So the uniform fits impeccably over his incredibly broad shoulders. That doesn’t prove it belongs to him.”

“You are one nutwing headcase, Lady. Take a look at my driver’s license, if you still don’t believe me.”

He tossed Bryn his wallet, which had been in his pocket. I crowded next to her to examine it over her shoulders.

“His driver’s license photo matches.”

“It’s pretty suspicious,” said Bryn. “Nobody looks that good in a driver’s license photo.”

“Thanks,” he said dryly.

“And his badge,” I added.

“Since when do Forest Rangers even have badges?” asked Bryn.

“And hey, look at this…” I pulled a folded up bit of paper from the wallet.

“No!” His face flamed bright pink. “You don’t need to read that!”

“Ha, now we’ll see what you’re hiding,” Bryn said triumphantly.

“Pretty sure we saw that already, Bryn.”

“Shut up, Roxy. Let’s see what…oh.”

It was a feature article from National Park Magazine, honoring Cormac Huntsman, with full color photographs. Bryn’s face turned as pink as Cormac’s.

“Wow,” I said, perusing the article over Bryn’s shoulder, “Did you really evacuate a family from a burning house, save a seeing-eye dog from drowning, and rescue an endangered grizzly bear cub from poachers?”

“The reporter made a much bigger deal out of that stuff than necessary,” he muttered. “It was a team effort, I just happened to be point man a couple times. I was just doing my job—any one of us would have done the same.”

Bryn held her hand over her face. She hissed at me, “Roxy, is your gun loaded?”

“Sort of, uh…” –with spirit bullets, but…

“Good, please shoot me now. I can’t believe I held a naked Forest Ranger at gun point.” Her voice rose into the octave used by squeaking rodents. “I called him a pervert!”



Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.

April 21, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 4

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

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My sister stood framed dramatically in the archway to the kitchenette, and as she’d promised, she was not unarmed, nor was she alone. Granny’s body wasn’t anywhere to be seen, however. The prisoner Bryn held at gunpoint was a stark naked man.

Bryn still wore the conservative charcoal suit and cream blouse she wore for work. Her russet hair was yanked back into a French braid so severe it was like maximum-security lockdown for hair. The solitary shock of color on her face was her crimson lipstick.

The man wore only his nakedness, but, holy hamburger with a side of fries, he wore it well.

There was more to him than met the eye, however, and that’s saying something, considering how much of him was meeting my eye. I’d only been wearing the red jacket one day, but I had already seen into the souls of dozens of men and women on my long bus ride over, enough to know that most people’s true souls are grubby at best, fiendish at worst. His soul showed something greater, not less, than his muscles and dimples.

If he had the body of a lumberjack, he had the soul of a Paul Bunyan. His inner self had true strength of character, as if he were the most ripped, toned, muscled, amazing piece of male at the gym of virtues. Like a giant with the cut abs and bulging biceps of a bodybuilder…except, you know, not one of those gross ones on steroids, just a naturally gorgeous Hercules. It was a shining soul, illuminated. It was a princely soul, majestic. His soul showed a man for whom honor was not a term with an expired Best-By date.

There was a big ditch in front of me called Love and I tripped and squealed and fell right in, face first into the squish.

I know, I know. I never believed in Love At First Sight either. But when your first sight is soul deep with a Deep Soul, how can you not fall in love? I knew this was a guy who—if only he could love me—would never lie to me, never cheat on me, never betray me, never give up on me, never abandon me, never stop fighting for me.

“I caught this this creep exposing himself outside the back window,” Bryn sneered.

“Look, Lady, I told you, I’m not a pervert, I’m a Forest Ranger!”

“So you decided to show us all your timber?”

“What? No!” He cupped his hands, to hide any wood. (Thanks a lot, Bryn!) “Some asshat sucker-punched me and stole my uniform and my truck. I followed the truck here.”

“You must be Cormac!” I exclaimed.

Cormac tore his gaze away from Bryn for the first time. He nodded warily. “How did you know?”

“Tell Bryn your last name. Bryn, go down into the basement and look at the name on the uniform there. If it matches, you’ll know Cormac is the Real Deal.”

In so many ways.

“I’m not lowering this gun,” Bryn said.

“Lady, like I said, if you weren’t a girl, that baby-gun wouldn’t save you. You have seriously pissed me off.”

“Bring it on, pervert, if you want your ass handed to you.”

And what a fine ass it was too. I shook myself. Focus, Roxy. No, not on that.

“Bryn, just get his uniform and check his story.” I retrieved more ammo for my gun out of the false bottom of my picnic basket. “I’ll watch him.”

“You have a gun too?” Cormac demanded. “And you keep your ammo in a picnic basket? What is wrong with you people?”


Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.

April 18, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 3

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

Hood and Fae-big

With a light tap, I pushed open the door to the bedroom. Cold air hit my face, raising goose pimples. The scent of lemons and wet dog fur was strong, but Granny Rose didn’t have a dog. She said she couldn’t keep pets out here because of the coyotes.

She lay on her bed, on top of the neatly tucked bedspread. She wore a velour tracksuit and a headscarf over curlers. The real TV, a flatscreen, was in here, and blared at a volume suited to the hard-of-hearing. Reruns of Bewitched. Her face tilted away from me. Her body was so still, a chill chased my vertebrae. It made me think of Mom, eternally sleeping.

“Granny Rose?”

I approached slowly. My feet sank in the plush carpet.

The bedroom had been decorated more recently than the living room/kitchenette. Mauve and powder blue and lemon yellow daffodils covered everything. Kittens and kitschy quotes, embroidered by various goddaughters and framed ornately, fought for space on the walls. The most elaborate featured a Bible quote: “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7. An air conditioner roared in one window even though it hadn’t been particularly hot today.

She still did not move, or turn to look at me.

I edged around the bed so that I stood before her. Finally her watery blue eyes moved to meet mine. A smile dimpled her wrinkled jowls.

“Hello, dear. I didn’t hear you come in.”

“I put the pies in the kitchen.”


“For the bake sale?”

“Of course, dear. Of course.”

“Are you okay, Granny Rose?”

“I love this episode,” she remarked. Her eyes strayed back to the TV. “Darrin sprains his ankle and Samantha gives him magic powers.” She gestured dismissively. “He gives them back at the end.”

“All those sit-coms returned everything to the status-quo by the end of each episode,” I said, but my heart wasn’t in it. Everything looked so normal and felt so wrong.

Granny Rose never calls me “dear,” she calls me “dumbkof.” Also, why didn’t she ask (demand) to inspect the pies? Or offer a sharp tongued critique of my cooking? Or grill me about whether I used real sugar or some of that fake modern stuff she was convinced caused cancer in mice?

When I looked at her I saw a second image flickering over her body, not quite visibly. I started to sweat. I slipped off my red jacket. She looked normal. I slipped my jacket back on, and the flicker started again.

“You can’t ever have the status quo back,” she said. Her lip curled, showing yellowed teeth. “Once you have tasted true magic, you can never go back to what you were before.”

She met my eyes again, and hers gleamed like a predator’s in the dark.

I swallowed.

“Granny, why do your eyes look whacked?”

“I put some new eye drops in, to see you better, my dear…”Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.

April 17, 2014

Hood and Fae: Excerpt 2

Over the next couple weeks I’ll be sharing additional excerpts from the novella Hood & Fae, the first of my new urban fantasy series Daughters of Little Red Riding Hood. Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

Hood and Fae-big

Navigating the buses with my new picnic basket, loaded with five pies and a gun, nicely occupied my mind for a while. On the bus, though, I couldn’t escape the fact that public transit serviced a lot more of the undead than I had ever noticed before.

I saw a flickering zombie with a gaping chest wound, two softer ghost ladies rather frayed about the edges, a hooker who had demon horns and shiny red skin, and something naked, male, and gray that had a hard-on and the head of a squid. Ew.

Those spirits had no bodies, so I noticed them first. The passengers looked different too, though I had to peer deeper, past the flesh suits, into their souls. Sometimes the souls mirrored the body; just as often, not. The lady across the aisle from me turned to watch me watching everyone else. Her soul had no color and her eyelids had been sewn shut.

I shuddered. Did my soul look like that? Willfully blind?

In the interest of science, experimenting, I took off the red leather jacket. The ghosts and the souls disappeared. The bus looked a lot emptier and a lot less freaky. But now that I had seen the other reality, it made me itch to sit there blindly. What if one of the spirits decided to creep up on me? What if another one thrust its claw into my chest? I’d never know until I doubled over with a heart attack.

I slipped the red jacket back on. I could see the ghosts now. One of the monsters turned and winked at me, leering. I sank into my seat. The world is a more crowded place when you see spirits, but surprisingly, it also makes a lot more sense.

I put my hands in my pocket. The gun was packed inside the false bottom of my picnic basket, but there was something in the pocket. The little black business card.

Domitian Drake, you sly scoundrel. This jacket is worth more than $100,000. I bet that line you fed me about it belonging to your momma was bullshit. It had to be. He’d claimed my mother bought the jacket from his mother’s estate sale, but I had noticed my grandmother wearing this jacket in the photo taken in the 1960s. I knew both my grandmother and my mother had worn special clothes while speaking to the dead, though I’d never been allowed in the room during those sessions. Now I was 99% certain they’d worn this jacket.

I’d always thought they were ashamed of how they fooled gullible people, and that was why they’d never let me watch them conjure the dead. Now I realized they kept their work secret because it was honest-to-God necromancy, if that wasn’t an oxymoron. The dead were scary bastards.Faery Realms Final 3D

Hood & Fae is currently available in the fantasy bundle Faery Realms: Ten Magical Titles on AmazonBarnes and NobleKoboSmashwords or Google Play.

WARNING: This novel is only appropriate for older teens and adults, because it contains #$%*&@ words. Spelled out for real, though. Even that one that starts with “F.” Yeah, it’s in there, in a couple places. Also, “dumbkof,” but that’s in another language, so it won’t bother you.