Elandrian Press Announces the Upcoming Release of ‘Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria’ by J.M. Bergen

Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria, the second book in the Thomas Wildus series, will be released in Spring 2020, published by Elandrian Press. Through a fresh voice, genuine characters, and a unique storyline, Thomas Wildus and The Wizard of Sumeria is destined to appeal to fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and young adult readers who enjoy books about magic and adventure.

Since it’s release in February 2019, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows, the first book in the series, has received rave reviews with reviewers likening it to Harry Potter and Percy Jackson –  

“I am always so excited when I come across a book series that I KNOW my middle schoolers will LOVE!  I hit the jackpot when I had the opportunity to review the book, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen.  It is exactly the type of book my students are always interested in! … If your students love the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, they are sure to be equally obsessed with The Book of Sorrows Series!” – Lit with Lyns

“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a charming, chummy tale that will instantly draw in any reader who has secretly (or not so secretly) wished for a little more wonder in their world. Parallels will of course be drawn to the Harry Potter series—and rightfully so—but this book also shares much in common with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.” – 5 Stars, Red City Review

“Middle graders will find Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows a compelling story… and an adventure tale that proves hard to put down.” – Midwest Book Review

“Reading this truly well-written novel was a lot of fun… It had plenty of exciting moments, funny parts, intriguing developments, and characters you just have to love… Harry Potter fans would love Thomas Wildus too. And while the story is aimed at younger readers, adults can also enjoy it.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers’ Favorite

“An exciting story about family, friendship, magic, and good versus evil.” – KidsBookshelf

“For fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, I would definitely recommend this book as a must-read…” – Alliee Reads

“This is a wonderful fantasy tale well-told by the author. The character development is good, the friendships Thomas has are heart-warming and the magic is unpredictable.” – Long and Short Reviews

“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is an enchanting foray into a fantasy world where stories can become realities, science and magic intersect, and crystals hold the power to destroy. If you’re looking for an enthralling and thought-provoking read, this is the book for you!” – Middle Grade Minded

“This was a wickedly fun and richly imaginative middle-grade urban fantasy with a compelling plot and endearing characters… From the moment Thomas enters the bookstore I was hooked and couldn’t wait to find out the mysterious book’s secrets. This little gem of a story has magic, action, mystery, intrigue and rollicking adventure, and held my interest until the wild ending… there are more adventures yet to come so I can’t wait to delve into the next book.” – Roger’s Reads

“In Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, J.M. Bergen has created a marvelous fantasy/sci-fi story for children and teens. With all the qualities a great book should have, the story holds your interest and offers a pleasing blend of legend and modern-day problems. Thomas must choose between good and evil… and accept the consequences of his actions. J.M. Bergen provides a wonderful tale that anyone can enjoy.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite

“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M Bergen is a stunning fantasy novel… The book was very descriptive and incredibly well written. The plot was intriguing and well thought through … This book will entertain readers of all ages. I would definitely recommend this book.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers’ Favorite


Synopsis:

In Thomas Wildus and the Wizard of Sumeria, three months have passed since Thomas and Enrique faced off against Arius Strong and prevented an all-out apocalypse. Three long, glorious, summer months – months filled with friends, family, magic, and Thomas’s first real kiss.

Unfortunately, the good times are coming to a rapid end. With a cryptic message from a mysterious hacker, Thomas discovers that his nemesis is pursuing an object even more powerful than the crystals. Arius will stop at nothing to find the treasure and destroy his enemies, and this time he’s not alone. Dark creatures with darker powers are flocking to Arius’s cause: shapeshifters, warlocks, even a sadistic killer in a schoolgirl outfit.

The forces of good are gathering as well, but with so much darkness at Arius’s disposal, the prospects for Thomas and his friends look increasingly grim. Will time run out before he sees through the lies and uncovers the next level of his destiny?


About the Author: 

J.M.’s debut fantasy/magic series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five.

When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, napping, or dreaming up new adventures.

If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).

Readers can connect with J.M. on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://jmbergen.com/


For further information, to request a review copy or an interview with J.M. Bergen, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or (805) 807-9027.

Radioactive Evolution: A Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Adventure by Richard Hummel

Richard Hummel’s debut novel Radioactive Evolution was released in November 2018. Since its release, Radioactive Evolution has become an Amazon #1 Best Seller in Apocalyptic and Cyberpunk with readers calling it ‘a masterful mix of fantasy, LitRPG, apocalyptic future and advanced tech.”
The story follows a young man in a post-apocalyptic America who bonds with a dragon.
The series is recommended for readers who enjoy general SFF, Dark Fantasy, Dark YA, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Survival Story and anyone that is a gamer and likes RPGs since he has a system in place that allows the main character and his dragon companion to “level” themselves up through abilities and enhancing their bodies and minds.
Hunger Games, Ready Player One, and Game of Thrones collide to bring you a Science-Fiction & Fantasy cross-genre spectacular!

Synopsis:
How far would you go to change humanity’s fate?
Jared Cartwright has spent the last two years delving into the twisted, scarred wastelands of an earth ravaged by nuclear war. The rich and powerful have taken to the oceans and skies on floating utopias, escaping destruction and leaving the rest of humanity to fend off the mutated creatures that roam the earth.
To face his new reality, Jared must become an apex predator if he hopes to survive. He must unlock his true potential to confront those that left mankind to die. With deadly adversaries above and below, Jared must evolve beyond mere human limitations to defeat the powerful rulers of the cities and the rabid beasts lurking in the shadows.
Jared’s quest takes a new turn when he discovers dragons are real. 

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
Jared stood at the precipice of almost certain danger, the yawning black chasm simultaneously beckoning and repelling him. The last six months of exploration led him to this moment, and now he hesitated to follow through. For months he’d searched for evidence of others.
In a city this size he expected to find something. Remnants of a battle, bones picked clean by the many carnivorous creatures that roamed the area, or anything worth scavenging. However, the only evidence he’d found was a series of tags painted on the walls around the perimeter of New York City. Only one set of markings, distinct in their pattern, delved further into the streets of the once great city. It was these patterns he found himself following, stupidly assuming he’d find treasure at the end of the veritable rainbow. Except there was no leprechaun or pot of gold, only a staircase descending into utter darkness. A faded sign announced it as “Metro Tr…”
Tram? Train?
Jared shrugged. He didn’t know for certain, but he’d read about old means of transportation before the nuclear wars obliterated most of the planet.
Taut as a bowstring, his eyes and ears strained, Jared looked for any sign of predators. In a city this large, he was at the bottom of the food chain, and his only protection was his father’s Colt Peacemaker, a .45 caliber revolver. In the two years since he’d left his home colony, it’d saved his life on more occasions than he could count. Absentmindedly, he reached down to finger the weapon in its holster, contemplating if he dared risk the underbelly of the city.
Six rounds…
Agonizing over the decision, Jared flicked his gaze to the corner of his vision. A holographic outline of his body floated, where a countdown timer showing a little more than two months remaining. It represented how many nanites he had left before he needed to use an injector and replenish his stores. These microscopic machines were the only thing preventing humans from dying excruciating, radioactive deaths. He hoped the trail leading down would end at the body of whomever left all the tags, and that they had some of the life-giving injectors on them. On the other hand, it was a gamble and he had no way to know for sure without making the trip.
What should I do…
Jared sighed and ran his hand through his hair. It was a two-month journey back home, and he wasn’t sure he’d survive the trip before his body deteriorated from radiation poisoning, or some creature overpowered him when his body began to weaken.
His mind screamed at him to run the other way, but Jared ignored it and walked back to the staircase leading down. He couldn’t discern the bottom even with his ability to see in the dark. Slowly, he crept down the stairs, gun at the ready. It felt like an eternity until he reached the bottom. Time became irrelevant as every minute stretched into what felt like hours. He jumped at every creak and sifting of pebbles. At the bottom, the markings pointed off into the darkness. An absolute darkness that pressed in on him. The shadows writhed at the corners of his vision. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end as cold shivers raced down his spine. The natural sunlight failed to penetrate the inky black and Jared’s eyes transitioned to night vision, a by-product of nanite enhancements. It seemed that when pushed into extreme circumstances, or survival depended on something, the nanites adapted and allowed him to obtain special abilities, like night vision and the ability to survive extreme temperatures.
Just as he started relaxing, Jared heard a soft scrape and a nearly imperceptible pressure as something brushed past his head.
He threw himself to the floor, eyes widening at the creature. A grotesque, mutated lizard clung to the ceiling, its legs coiled to spring at him. Thick, discolored saliva dripped from fangs as long as his arm, dozens of golden spider-like eyes following his movements. With no hesitation, Jared squeezed the trigger. The creature’s head exploded in a shower of black ichor and bits of gray brain matter. It plummeted towards him. He shoved away from it, barely avoiding being crushed by its shiny silver body as it slammed into the concrete floor. The quick evasion did nothing to prevent the shower of blood and gore. Spluttering and spitting, he tried to eliminate the metallic tasting remnants that made it into his mouth.
Jared shook his head, the gunshot ringing in his ears. He needed to move, and fast. The gunshot might’ve been a homing beacon for more of these things. Desperate to put distance between himself and the disgusting creature, Jared sprinted up the tunnel following the other explorer’s path. While he ran, he kept his eyes peeled, careful to watch the ceiling for more of the lizards.
Jared no longer cared about stealth or caution. He needed to find the body, recover the supplies, and get out of the city. He rounded the next corner following the markings and almost fell headlong into a large crater. He caught himself on the edge and wind-milled his arms to regain balance. His tiptoes teetered on the edge of the crater and he felt his balance shift back and forth. Finally, after a several moments of sheer terror, his balance returned, and he managed to step back from the ledge.
He’d almost fallen into a pit that looked like the site of a bomb detonation. A closer examination revealed piles of bones, refuse, and a collection of random equipment.
Tilting his head to the side and moving further from the corner, Jared tried to determine what he’d found.
It looks like— His mouth dropped open in astonishment. It’s a nest.
The blood drained from his face, and he shrank against the wall, cursing himself for making this journey. Paralyzed in fear, it took him several minutes before he was calm enough to peek around the corner. The last marking he’d followed ended a couple pillars back, and he didn’t see a new one. Fear coursed through him as he realized this might be the farthest his guide had made it. As if fate were playing a cruel joke on him, it was then he spotted a pair of black boots at the bottom of the nest. Jared slid to the ground and buried his face in his hands.
The explorer. I’ve come too far to abandon this farce now. With shaky legs, he rose and skirted the massive nest.
Psyching himself up, Jared repeated a mantra in his mind. It’s just a crater, it’s just a crater…
If he dwelled on the nest and what might live in it, he’d succumb to cowardice and flee.
Delicately, he picked his way through the pile of refuse, periodically stopping to extricate large bones that blocked his path. It was eerily quiet, the only sound his ragged breathing as he tried to push past the overpowering scent of rot. With each passing moment, his anxiety grew.
This is taking too long, and I don’t want to be here when this thing returns!
Finally reaching the pair of worn leather boots, he started extracting bone after bone, looking for any other equipment. Several minutes later, he uncovered a tattered backpack hooked over a human ribcage. An audible gulp escaped his throat as he looked into the empty eye sockets of the skull that used to sit atop the skeleton. Holding his breath, Jared bent closer and breathed through his mouth. The smell of death and decay intensified and raised bile to the back of his throat.
Careful not to disturb the rest of the pile, Jared unhooked the straps from a cracked shoulder blade and what was left of the rib cage. He’d successfully extracted the pack and turned to leave when a strange object partially hidden by yellowing skeleton limbs caught his attention. Already in over his head, Jared looked closer, eager to find anything of value. He reached out and felt heat emanating from what looked like a large rock.
Strange, he thought.
As his fingers brushed the strange object, a jolt of electricity shot through his hand.
“Ow!” Jared grunted and snatched his hand away. “What is this thing?”
Curiosity piqued, he reached out again. When his fingers neared the object, the hair on the back of his hand stood on end. Jared snatched his hand back again and decided that he needed to bring whatever this was with him. This was by far the most unique object he’d ever come across. If it generated some kind of electricity, it could be invaluable to him during his travels. As quickly and quietly as possible, Jared slid his pack off his back, stuffed the other explorer’s gear inside, and grabbed a spare shirt to wrap up the strange object. The electrified rock secured, Jared began the painful process of picking his way back across the crater to climb back up to the platform.
His trip up proved much easier, and he breathed a sigh of relief after he’d made it to the platform. No sooner had he reached it than he felt a reverberation through the ground. Thinking it was his nerves and imagination, he ignored it until he distinctly felt the vibration and with it a distant thump.
What the— Panic flooded through him. What could make the earthshake?
No way was he waiting to find out. Jared sprinted back the way he’d come. Just as he passed the decapitated corpse of the lizard, an ear-splitting roar shook his body to the core. A violent thrashing and growling erupted behind him as the unknown creature unleashed mayhem in the tunnel he’d just vacated. A moment later, a wave of intense agony assaulted his mind, causing him to stumble into the wall.
Jared glanced over his shoulder at his bag and contemplated dropping whatever it was he stole, but instead he bolted up the stairs, taking them four at a time as he sprinted up the shaft of daylight in the distance. Before he reached the halfway point, he caught sight of something lunging at him from his periphery. Ducking, another lizard-like creature soared over his head, crashing into the wall. He didn’t pause, but raced up the stairs, the creature fast on his heels. Jared dove through the opening, the sun’s golden rays bathing him in warmth. The split-second of euphoria didn’t last as the lizard launched through the opening, landing right on top of him.
Dangit! Stupid. Idiotic.
He violently reprimanded himself for thinking these creatures confined to the underground tunnel. The lizard pinned his arm before he managed to free his Colt. The overgrown reptile snapped at his face, its shiny metallic head filled with razor-sharp teeth and fangs. Gooey, hot saliva bathed his head and obscured his vision.
Straining his muscles, Jared tried to force the creature off, but failed. It was strong, and if he didn’t find some way to turn the tables, it would rip into his face.
In a desperate move, Jared slammed his feet down and thrust his pelvis upward, throwing the lizard back just enough to extricate his Colt. He angled the revolver into the body of the creature and squeezed the trigger three times before the lizard stopped moving.
Soaked to the bone in gore from both scuffles, Jared recovered quickly, picked up his pack from where it’d fallen, and sprinted for the city’s edge.
The gigantic creature raged beneath the city, judging from the echoing of rock crumbling behind him. He thanked his good fortune no other creatures barred his path, and whatever he’d angered hadn’t surfaced to track him yet.
His panicked flight led to his safe haven, a small room in the remnants of the Statue of Liberty. Breathing heavily, Jared dove into his hideaway beneath the melted hunk of rusting statue. When he’d first come to New York, he’d cleared out the entry and made his own barrier he could bar from the within.
Safe in his bunker, he sat back against the wall in exhaustion. He didn’t know how much time passed, but from the slant of the sun’s orange rays peeking in through the cracks, it neared dusk. He didn’t need the light to see, but trepidations about what the night would bring made him wish for the day to last longer.
“I almost died in there,” Jared muttered to himself. “This backpack better be worth the risk. There’s no freaking way I’m going back into that city.”
Even hours after the harrowing experience, he shook with adrenaline and fear. He could do nothing but sit there in abject terror waiting for his body to give him a moment’s reprieve. Eventually, it gave way to exhaustion and pushed him into a fitful slumber.
When he woke several hours later, he could still hear distant shrieking and buildings collapsing. Thankfully, it didn’t sound like it was any closer.
Rested and ready to see what treasures he’d found, Jared pulled out the explorer’s pack from his own. The mysterious electrical object discarded to one side, he opened the flap on the other pack.
“Whoa,” breathed Jared.

Praise:
A worthy series kickoff with riveting characters and a world that readers will want to explore.” – Kirkus
“Radioactive Evolution features an exciting world, a plot that keeps moving, and a fun twist on the typical GameLit phenomenon. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable romp in a Post-apocalyptic future. I’m already looking forward to seeing where Hummel goes from here!” – 5 Stars, LitRPG Reviews 

About the Author:
It all started when he read the works of two Russian authors, D. Rus and Vasiliy Mahenenka. After devouring every one of their books, Richard Hummel became obsessed with the LitRPG / Gamelit genre, which basically combines MMORPG with Science Fiction & Fantasy. He started joining a ton of groups, mailing lists, and Discord servers talking to readers, authors, and professionals in the industry. He’d continually bounce ideas around until one day he realized that he had more than enough ideas to create his own world and characters. Then he buckled down, picked up a copy of Scrivener and went to work and Radioactive Evolution was born.
Radioactive Evolution: A Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Adventure is the first book in his new Sci-Fi Fantasy series. It was released in November 2018 and since then, has become an Amazon Bestseller.
Radioactive Evolution tells the story of a young man in a post-apocalyptic America who bonds with a dragon.
The series is recommended for readers who enjoy general SFF, Dark Fantasy, Dark YA, Cyberpunk, Post-Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Survival Story and anyone that is a gamer that likes RPGs since he has a system in place that allows the main character and his dragon companion to “level” themselves up through abilities and enhancing their bodies and minds.
By day, Richard Hummel is a cyber security analyst and father of two beautiful girls and a little boy on the way! He is currently hard at work on the second book in his series, which is set to be released Spring 2019. Stay tuned for more in this epic dystopian adventure!
Readers can connect with Richard on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://www.hummelbooks.com/

‘Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows’ by J.M. Bergen

Published by Elandrian Press, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a new Middle Grade Fantasy by J.M. Bergen released in February 2019.

Synopsis:
Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real. 
Seven years have passed, and Thomas hasn’t forgotten. He hasn’t forgotten the blue of his dad’s eyes either, or the tickle of beard on his cheek as they hugged goodbye. Last moments with a parent are memorable, even if you don’t know that’s what you’re having at the time.
Now, with his 13th birthday rapidly approaching, Thomas’s search for magic is about to take a radical and unexpected turn. At an out-of-the-way shop filled with dusty leather books, a strange little man with gold-flecked eyes offers him an ancient text called The Book of Sorrows. The price is high and the rules are strict, but there’s no way Thomas can resist the chance to look inside.
With the mysterious book guiding the way, a strange new world is revealed – a world in which Thomas has a name and destiny far more extraordinary than he ever imagined. But time is short. Even as Thomas uncovers his secret family history, enemies emerge, threatening to end his rise to power and destroy everything he holds dear.
Through a fresh voice, genuine characters, and a unique storyline, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows is destined to appeal to fans of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and readers who enjoy books about magic and adventure.

Praise for Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows: 
“I am always so excited when I come across a book series that I KNOW my middle schoolers will LOVE!  I hit the jackpot when I had the opportunity to review the book, Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M. Bergen.  It is exactly the type of book my students are always interested in! … I already have a waiting list in my classroom of kids that want to check it out! … If your students love the likes of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, they are sure to be equally obsessed with The Book of Sorrows Series!”Lit with Lyns
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is a charming, chummy tale that will instantly draw in any reader who has secretly (or not so secretly) wished for a little more wonder in their world. Parallels will of course be drawn to the Harry Potter series—and rightfully so—but this book also shares much in common with Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.” – 5 Stars, Red City Review
“Middle graders will find Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows a compelling story… and an adventure tale that proves hard to put down.” – Midwest Book Review
“Reading this truly well-written novel was a lot of fun… It had plenty of exciting moments, funny parts, intriguing developments, and characters you just have to love… Harry Potter fans would love Thomas Wildus too. And while the story is aimed at younger readers, adults can also enjoy it.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kim Anisi for Readers’ Favorite
“An exciting story about family, friendship, magic, and good versus evil.”KidsBookshelf
“For fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, I would definitely recommend this book as a must-read…”Alliee Reads
“This is a wonderful fantasy tale well-told by the author. The character development is good, the friendships Thomas has are heart-warming and the magic is unpredictable.”Long and Short Reviews
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows is an enchanting foray into a fantasy world where stories can become realities, science and magic intersect, and crystals hold the power to destroy. If you’re looking for an enthralling and thought-provoking read, this is the book for you!”Middle Grade Minded
“This was a wickedly fun and richly imaginative middle-grade urban fantasy with a compelling plot and endearing characters… From the moment Thomas enters the bookstore I was hooked and couldn’t wait to find out the mysterious book’s secrets. This little gem of a story has magic, action, mystery, intrigue and rollicking adventure, and held my interest until the wild ending… there are more adventures yet to come so I can’t wait to delve into the next book.”Roger’s Reads
“This is a very fast-paced fantasy adventure tale that has great friendship representation, lots of magic and a thrilling adventure for young readers.”Noveltea Corner
“I highly recommend this book for 4th and 5th graders! My son Caleb, who is a 4th grader this year, finished the book in just 3 days! He could not put it down. We both enjoyed the deep plot twists and unexpected surprises throughout the story.” – The Butterfly Teacher
“In Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, J.M. Bergen has created a marvelous fantasy/sci-fi story for children and teens. With all the qualities a great book should have, the story holds your interest and offers a pleasing blend of legend and modern-day problems. Thomas must choose between good and evil… and accept the consequences of his actions. J.M. Bergen provides a wonderful tale that anyone can enjoy.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers’ Favorite
“Thomas Wildus and the Book of Sorrows by J.M Bergen is a stunning fantasy novel… The book was very descriptive and incredibly well written. The plot was intriguing and well thought through … This book will entertain readers of all ages. I would definitely recommend this book.” – 5 Stars, Reviewed by Kristen Van Kampen (Teen Reviewer) for Readers’ Favorite

Excerpt:
…Thomas froze, this time blinking furiously. When he could see again, he found himself staring at a shop on the other side of the street. A sign hung above a wooden door with slightly faded red paint. The lettering was too small to read, but there were splotches of purple around the edges. It was the only purple Thomas could see anywhere. He looked both ways and jogged across the street.
The sign came into focus. H&A Booksellers, Purveyors of Fine Books and Rare Manuscripts. The words were painted in chipped gold leaf, with tiny purple flowers nestled in the arcs and whorls of the lettering. Thomas stared at the sign, his eyes following the path of the thin green vine that wound through the gold letters.
Was it possible that a bookstore in this area had escaped his attention? Not a chance. Not one that was listed on the Internet anyway. But the shop was here, every bit as real as the humming man a moment earlier. Thomas felt an uneasy excitement in his chest. Cars zipped past on Main, but this street was practically deserted. He looked at the red door, at the plastic placard dangling from the nail in the center. Open.
He contemplated his next move. The options were simple. Forget what had just happened and turn around in time to catch his bus home or go inside and risk being laughed at for the hundredth time.
He reached out and pressed on the old-fashioned handle, forcing himself not to think about the disappearing man or the prospect of pending humiliation. The door swung open. The wide wooden counter and oversized green cash register looked as ancient as the faded lighting and worn carpet. The place was bigger than he would have expected, though, with shelves running far beyond the point where they logically should have ended.
The size was just the first curious thing about the shop. Everything else was different, too. There were no racks of shiny best-sellers, no big display cases promoting glossy fiction. Instead, cloth and leather-bound volumes were stacked and piled and crammed together in an endless sprawl of dusty texts. Every shelf was chock full of unrecognizable old books. The place was a goldmine. Jackpot!
Thomas looked at the placard at the end of the nearest row. The inscription stamped in tarnished bronze was faded but legible. Alch. Hist. 1127 1490. He reached for the nearest book, a tall, narrow volume wrapped in faded red leather, wondering what the inscription meant.
“Ahem.”
The forced cough originated behind Thomas’s left shoulder. He turned, startled, and found himself eye to eye with a man who had thin graying hair, a sharp nose, and hazel eyes flecked with specks of gold. The man stood with his hands behind his back and wore a yellowed apron with the words In Liber Veritas stenciled on the front.
“May I help you, young man?” The shopkeeper was only a few inches taller than Thomas himself.
“I, uh, I hope so.” Thomas looked around the shop, his eyes wide with wonder. “This place is amazing.”
“Thank you,” said the little man, inclining his head in a slight bow. “Is there something in particular you are hoping to find?”
The wonder receded, replaced by a wrenching anxiety that knotted his gut and made his palms turn clammy. He could hear the scornful responses of the others he’d asked. Are you messing with me, kid? What, are you some kind of idiot? There’s no such thing as magic, dummy. Go on, get out of here.
He pushed the voices out of his head. “I’m looking for books about magic. Magic books, really.”
“Back of the shop and to the left.” The man pointed a finger past Thomas to an even more dimly lit part of the building. “We have a wonderful selection of collectibles in the fantasy genre and more than a few New Age texts as well. I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking.”
Fantasy and New Age? Really? Thomas’s shoulders slumped. He took a half-hearted step toward the back of the shop and paused, the knot in his gut tightening. As much as he hated getting laughed at, the idea of digging through piles of worthless books was as unexciting as the prospect of scrolling through another online ‘magic’ forum. If ever there was a place that might have what he really wanted, this was it. He sucked in a deep breath and turned around.
The man looked at Thomas with one eyebrow raised. “Yes?”
“I, uh, I’m not really looking for those kinds of books,” he managed. “I was hoping for something different. Something more unusual.”
“What do you mean by unusual?” the man asked. “Be specific, please.”
This was it. The part where he got laughed out of the building. Thomas looked at his feet, wondering if he should even bother. He considered turning around, but the words on the man’s yellowing apron caught his eye. In Liber Veritas. Veritas meant truth, right? He looked up, his eyes locking onto those of the little man. “Unusual as in magical. Not fiction or fantasy or New Age. Magic. Real magic.”
“Real magic? What makes you think there’s any such thing?”
Thomas’s body tensed, preparing for a swift retreat from the store. His dad’s last words flashed into his mind, the final fragment before everything changed. “Magic is real, Thomas. No matter what happens, always remember that magic is real.”
He sucked in a deep breath and forced himself to stand still. The air rushed out in a whoosh. “I-I just do.”
“But why?” The man’s expression was curious, focused, his eyes boring into Thomas like a drill. “And even if there were such a thing, what would it have to do with you?”
“Never mind. Just forget about it.” Thomas spun toward the exit, his cheeks flushed and heart racing. Halfway to the door, he paused. The man wasn’t laughing. He was asking questions. That, at least, was different. Thomas turned around. The man’s unwavering eyes reflected the overhead lights, glinting with fragments of gold.
“It’s, uh, it’s something someone told me a long time ago,” said Thomas. “Someone I trusted.”
The man tilted his head, his expression almost curious. “Somebody told you magic is real, and you believed them?”
Blue eyes stared at Thomas out of a distant memory, sincere and earnest. He felt the roughness of his dad’s calloused hand on his cheek, the tickle of soft beard as he pulled Thomas close and kissed his forehead for the last time. “Magic is real, Thomas.” Magic is real.
Thomas drew himself up to full size and met the man’s stare directly. “Yes. I did. I do.”
“And now you want a magic book, but not the make-believe kind?”
Thomas nodded. The shopkeeper’s eyes were ageless, his stare unsettling. Thomas stood tall, refusing to break the connection even though his insides had turned to jelly.
“What is your name, young seeker of magic?” The hint of a smile crinkled the subtle features of the man’s face.
“Thomas,” he answered. “Thomas Wildus.”
The smile lines smoothed, and the man’s face took on a serious expression. “You’re late.”

About the Author:
J.M.’s debut fantasy/magic series originally started as a bedtime story for his oldest son. The story turned into a saga, and one book turned into five. The first book in the series, Thomas Wildus and The Book of Sorrows, is scheduled for release in February 2019. The second, Thomas Wildus and The Wizard of Sumeria, will be published in early 2020.
When J.M. isn’t working on the Thomas Wildus books, you can find him playing with his kids, napping, or dreaming up new adventures. If you ever meet him and can’t think of anything to talk about, you might ask about Herman the Shark, the Kai and Eli stories, or why Riddle-Master by Patricia McKillip is his all-time favorite book. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll have questions and stories of your own (if you do, he’ll think that’s far more interesting).
To learn more, visit www.jmbergen.com.

Chroma Crossing Chronicles: Blood Moon by S. Yurvati

Blood Moon, by S. Yurvati, is the first book in the Chroma Crossing Chronicles series. Genres: Fantasy / Romance / Women’s Fiction / Recommended for readers ages 18+

Praise for Blood Moon:
“Blood Moon is the perfect example of fantasy writing at its best… a multifaceted read which keeps reads involved, intrigued, and happily challenged by a myriad of subplots and characters. Blood Moon is anything but formula writing, and the very things that makes its nature elusive is the strength that sets it apart from most fantasy, romance, or other genre productions…. Suffice it to say that readers of fantasy, romance, intrigue, and women’s fiction will find much to like in the complex Blood Moon. It excels in many surprising twists and turns as Candy and Thorne face their flaws, weaknesses, dreams, and a danger that ventures into paranormal realms.” – Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Synopsis:
Hunky pheromone-laden-man meets pretty accident-prone female—it should have been a love story with a happily ever after ending. However, when the bored deities choose Candy and Thorne for an amusing game, the gods and goddesses put forth sets of circumstances that can tear the couple apart and wound them deep within their souls.
With her father’s sudden demise, Candy finds she’s inherited funds and a house in beautiful historic Savannah. Not only can she now afford to go to the Savannah College of Art and Design, her future as an artist looks promising. But unfortunately, her step-mom and her disturbing son Todd reside in the main house.
When Candy gets her first commission for a life-sized portrait of a beautiful woman from a rather unsettling man, she soon questions what had seemed coincidental. Candy is a modest female who has always found solace in her artwork, whereas her widowed step-mom, Cherry Ann, considers physical pleasure and money as her measures of worth. As Candy pursues her art, Cherry Ann pursues a new lover. Cherry Ann finds her new risqué sex life to be addictive and doesn’t recognize the danger of the man she’s invited into her life.
After surviving a couple of ‘accidents’, Candy realizes someone apparently wishes her harm. When she’s chased (by the one thing she fears most) Candy accidentally, or so it seems, crosses into a new dimension. She finds herself in an unknown wilderness with a curious terrain that is void of color. The landscape looks like an old sepia photograph, hardly the Savannah spring day she’d left behind.  As Candy stumbles through the wild terrain, an intriguing hunter comes upon her. His presence makes her girlie parts beg to become ill behaved, and before she knows it, her hormones are arguing with her strict moral compass.

About the Author:
S. Yurvati has always loved reading and writing. She began putting her thoughts and imaginings on paper during her childhood and continued through college years. She began writing Blood Moon back in her college days, but after graduating from CSUN with a Master’s Degree, she had to work on earning a living and had to put her writing on hold… After three decades of working in the medical world, her husband convinced her to retire and take the time to write. That led to the beginning of Chroma Crossing Chronicles and her first book: Blood Moon. The series includes: Blood Moon (Part 1 and Part 2), followed by Book 3 Dragon Tear, and Book 4 Infinity Link. S. Yurvati is currently working on the fifth and final installment of the Chroma Crossing Chronicles series.
S. Yurvati lives in Texas with the love-of-her-life husband. They have been happily married for going on 44 years. Readers can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to https://syurvatiauthor.com/ 

Master Blacke: Tales of the Great Wood

On the heels of his five-book fantasy series, The Chronicles of Dorro, author Pete Prown brings us a new tale that returns readers to the magical world of Thimble Down—but with a twist!
In Master Blacke, we journey to the other side of the Great Wood and meet exciting new characters from the village of Wattle’s Way. Among the players in this saga are Rue and Doily, as well as a strange and deadly kestrel named Jesper Stormcloud, who becomes their friend. There’s also the wise schoolmaster, Master Blacke, and the wicked, but beautiful Minerva Silvercoat and her equally blackhearted accomplice, Mr. Slinks.
The story unfolds with the arrival of Rue, a shy girl lost in the Great Wood. Master Blacke settles Rue into the home of Mrs. Locke, a cold shopkeeper, and her mean-spirited daughter, Meera. There’s something else, too—Doily overhears villagers talking about The Vine, something which will change the way the village is run and who’s in charge. The mystery deepens as townsfolk begin to disappear one by one. Even Master Blacke is baffled by these dark, ominous events.
There’s danger in the heart of the Great Wood. After centuries of peace and tranquility, there’s a plot by the bigger creatures — who call themselves The Vine — to seize power and take control of the meek.
Soon, the fast-paced saga begins, as Rue, Doily, and Jesper find themselves battling for their very lives and fighting back with the help of their tutor, Master Blacke. But will it be enough to defeat The Vine and its forces of evil?
Welcome to the Great Wood, friends ….
Master Blacke: Tales of the Great Wood takes readers on an epic fantasy adventure. Young readers, aged 9 to 13 – as well as not-so young ones—will have trouble putting it down. It is available for sale on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

EXCERPT from CHAPTER 1:
Almost Supper
“Drat!”
Rue stubbed her toed and screeched in pain—she was lost and knew it. The small, brownish pocket-mouse hadn’t seen her parents for weeks, and left their comfy mouse-hole in the Great Wood to search for them, even though her mother said her shouldn’t ever do so. They’d never been gone this long before.
Young and naïve might Rue be, but not entirely foolish. As the afternoon grew long and began throwing shadows, she flitted from leaf cover to tussock, remaining exposed in the open as little as possible. She dug up a few mouthfuls of nuts, roots, and berries as she explored—Rue had never been alone in the forest before, but on the whole, rather enjoyed it.
“I could survive out here, I know it,” boasted the mouse. “I’m Rue the Brave and all shall tremble before me!”
She laughed out loud, but tripped over something hard while crossing a mossy pad.
Whump.
“Ouch, that hurt! Who left a big log on the forest floor for nice mice pups to fall upon?”
Rue was perturbed and didn’t mind who knew it. Then she sneezed.
Ach-choo!
And she sneezed again. Ach-choo!
Curiously, she became aware of something moving in the periphery and all her hairs stood on end. It didn’t feel right.
“Dear me, I’m sorry, young lady—how rude of me to leave my tail lying about.”
“Who are you? I can’t see you,” snipped Rue, transfixed by the deep, mellifluous voice.
She heard something sniffing over yonder, under the fronds of an ostrich fern swaying gently in the breeze.
“Mmmmm, delicious! I mean, it’s delicious to meet you. I don’t think you’ve been this way before. We don’t get many field mice here in the deep wood. The occasional vole, but not one of your distinguished species.”
“I’m just a pocket-mouse. Nothing special about that.”
The disembodied voice replied, “I beg to differ. You see, voles are tough and wily, and moles too earthy. And rats—well, I shan’t even deign to make a comparison. Ooooh, but a tender young mouse. Now that’s enough to make up for my abbreviated nap. The pocket-mouse is something I’ve always heard about, but never enjoyed … its company before.”
Rue was suspicious. “You don’t know me, sir. And perhaps you shan’t!”
“On the contrary, my superior sense of smell tells me much. Why, you dine on dandelion petals and thyme leaves, morning dew, and nuts of all types. But I think walnuts are your favorite, correct?”
“That’s true, Mr. Voice-Without-a-Face. I do love walnuts and nuts of all sorts. How did you know?”
“My nose tells me everything, friend. I can even sense the sun-baked warmth of your fur, as well as the rich loamy soil of your mouse-hole. Say, you don’t live near a stand of rye grass, do you? What is that strange scent—summer barley?”
“That’s remarkable, sir! You must be a great detective? Or a magician!”
Rue was suddenly fascinated. “That must be how you can speak without possessing a body.”
“Oh, I have a body and a face and a mouth and a snout. Would you like to see me? I am quite grand, I really am.”
Ach-choo!
Rue sneezed and became wary again. Something in her veins and blood told her Beware!, but she couldn’t put a finger on it. She’d never really been afraid before, as her parents were always nearby and calmed her when a thunderstorm struck and the rain pelted about the door to their mouse-house.
What is that strange tingling in my paws and legs? thought the mouse girl. My senses are trying to warn me of something, but I don’t what it is.
Suddenly, Rue knew exactly what the tingling was, just as the ferns began to shiver and move. Something was moving in those fronds, inching closer by the second, and it meant her harm.
Then Rue saw it—a black snout pushing through a few fronds. The snout grew longer and impossibly longer, until a face peered out. A sharp face with reddish fur, two pointy ears, and a pair of glowing orange eyes. And its mouth was smiling, but not a friendly smile. It was more of a leer, displaying quite a rack of dazzling teeth. The pocket-mouse knew she was in trouble, as this was surely a red fox seeking its supper.
“I demand to know your intentions, sir,” barked Rue, though quivering and trying to put on a brave face. “I don’t know your name, but I know your heart. You mean to eat me.”
“You are an astute young lady—quite intelligent! My name is Mr. Slinks, though I’m not such a bad fellow,” said the red fox with his usual grace and savoir-faire. He kept talking.
“My job in this part of the Great Wood is to bring balance and order. When something is out of place, I fix it. If Genevieve Possum has too many babes one spring, I help her return her litter to a reasonable number. And should the robin or wren population explode for unknown reasons, just call on Mr. Slinks to scale a nice low tree, find the nest, and bring the number back to earth —quite literally! Logically then, should a tasty mouse get lost and wander into my dell, as a concerned citizen I feel I should do my part to rectify the issue—quickly and with the utmost skill.
There’s no need for endless suffering, I always say. Fast ‘n’ precise, that’s my motto.”
“I may be a pup, Mr. Slinks, but I don’t want to be eaten today. I like seeing the sunshine every morning and I like my walnuts. And I don’t like … you!”
At that, Rue shot from her moss pad like a rocket, so fast that even a deadly predator like Mr. Slinks was taken aback. He figured the lass would make a fine nuncheon and be perfectly civilized about it. Perhaps even lie down and expose her neck in a cordial way, in order to make the fox’s job easier. But no, this brat wanted to put Slinks to the test.
And this is what happened.
Rue had been pent up in her mouse-hole for so long that all her bound-up energy exploded at that very moment. Even she was amazed at how fast she could run, especially when there was a Fox giving chase.“
Catch me if you can, Big Nose!” laughed the girl as she shot under a thicket of rambling roses and in and out tufts of grass.
It would have been a wonderful game if the mouse didn’t hear a Snap! and feel the wind-gust as a pair of jaws narrowly missed her tail.
This spurred Rue on faster, but she knew she couldn’t run forever and that about twenty of her steps equaled only two of Mr. Slinks’. Mathematically, the fox would catch up to her in about five seconds. Fortunately for Rue, fate was on her side, as a new commotion exploded to her left.
“Weeee-haaaaaa! Out of my way, Slinker. Stinker is on the move!”
For a second, Rue couldn’t make out what was happening, but then saw flashes of white and black just off the way. She also knew it wasn’t good news for her rival, as Slinks shouted out a most unfortunate expletive—one we shan’t repeat here in the name of proper decency—and followed it up with various snarls, grunts, and barks.
The race bounded down a sharp slope, with Rue in the lead, Mr. Slinks in hot pursuit, and an unknown personage running interference. The pocket-mouse reached the bottom of the dell and found a rapidly running creek in her way. She leapt onto a flat rock in the water, and then another and another, her toes getting quite wet in the process.
On her tail, Mr. Slinks shouted, “You know this is quite inevitable, mouse. I will have my satisfaction in the end, even with Mrs. Posey being a busy-body.”
Turning his head, he hooted to his right, “I shall deal with you later, Posey. You’re not as invincible as you think—nor are your babes!”
It was at this precise moment that Rue made a grand leap for the far bank, but slipped and missed her mark by a foot. Instead, she landed in a bit of muddy muck and lay immobile on the creek’s bank. She rolled over and, just Mr. Slinks had hoped, exposed her soft belly and throat dangerously.
“A-ha! The day is mine,” gloated Slinks as he bounded across the creek for the final kill. But t’was not to be. For as our friend Rue lay prostrate in the mud, a shadow crept over her, blotting out the light and burying her in dark fur.
“One step closer, Slinksy, and I shall give you such a spray that your prey will know you’re coming two weeks ahead of time. That will give your stomach something to think about, eh?”
“Back off, Posey. I want to eat now, nor was I jesting earlier. Skunk babies are just as tasty as mice and slower off the mark than their mums. They’re sweet and don’t stink yet—I might have a few for a snack.”
Mrs. Posey growled in return and extended her claws.
“Go near my babes and I shall write a note to my cousin Pelarch and, well, even you don’t want that. Pel could rip you into pieces before you even rose to your feet.”
“Is your cousin a precious little bunny rabbit?”
“If you consider high-mountain wolverines to be little bunnies, then yes!” cackled the skunkess in return.
“Curse you, Posey! Always ruining my sport. I just wanted to have a bit of a go at the tender thing,” sneered Slinks.
“No harm was intended. You know me better.”
“Oh I know you, Slinks. Your idea of fun usually ends up with torn throats and gasping final breaths. But I shall let it pass this time.”
Mrs. Posey relaxed her posture over Rue and let a little light and air penetrate. As she moved off, the mouse-ling saw a beautiful black-and-white skunk taking shape, while Mr. Slinks glowered at them both from a rock in the middle of the creek. She took a few steps away from Rue as matters calmed, but was distracted by the Caw! of a fish-crow in a nearby sourwood tree.
That’s all it took for Mr. Slinks to make his move. Bounding the final steps between himself and young Rue in half a heartbeat, the red fox suddenly had the young pocket-mouse cradled in his jaws, even before Mrs. Posey had a chance to turn around.
“How dare you, Slinks! I thought you were going to be a good boy today,” snarled the angry skunk, once again dropping to combat posture.
Mumbling with the creature in his mouth, Mr. Slinks replied, “I’m th-orry, Mrs. Po-thee. But e’en I muss eat!”
“Then I can’t be held responsible for my actions, you rotten Fox!”
At that, Mrs. P. spun on a tuppence and, from a gland within her hind quarters, hit Mr. Slinks with a massive blast of skunk stink. With skunk juice stinging his eyes and fouling his nose and mouth, Mr. Slinks had no choice but to drop the equally befouled Rue in the creek and run screaming into the woods.
“Oh, you horrible woman—now I shall never eat again! I am the saddest and smelliest fellow in all the Great Wood!”
And it was true, Mrs. Posey had doused the fox so completely that he wasn’t able to find any tasty prey beyond beetles and worms for the next few weeks and, along the way, lost a full three pounds.
Yet as he slunk off into the underbrush, Mr. Slinks muttered something under his breath. It sounded something like this: “You think you’re so clever, Skunk. But wait until the Vine becomes law in the Great Wood. Then you’ll learn to serve your betters in silence. And that foolish pocket-mouse will be in my belly.”
With that, the black-hearted fox disappeared into the forest.
Poor Rue, meanwhile, was not only drenched in skunk stink, but was also being borne down the creek with great force. Neither could she swim, thus was gasping for air in between desperate strokes in the bubbling, frothy water.
Fortunately, Mrs. P. was on the scene in a flash and, before she knew it, Rue was gently hoisted into the air within the front teeth of her new protector and carried back to the very soft, spongy moss pad from whence her very troubles had begun.
Exhausted, wet, confused and thoroughly skunked from head to toe, Rue began to cry, yet soon drifted off to the lands of sleep and quiet. Over her, Mrs. Posey stood guard, humming a tune to herself. In that time, she knit her a blanket of sweet-smelling lavender and clover petals, which drew out the stench and coaxed sweet dreams within the girl’s heart. As the hours passed, the forest calmed more and more until this recent episode was all but a distant memory.
From somewhere above them in the Great Wood, a grey thrush hooted the “all clear” signal and life resumed as usual.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Pete Prown is a noted American writer of Young Adult fantasy books. His debut fantasy series The Chronicles of Dorro (Thimble Down, Devils & Demons, The Lost Ones, Death of a Dwarf, and Goblin War) has received rave reviews. THIMBLE DOWN, the first book in the “Chronicles of Dorro” series, tells the tale of a Halfling bookmaster named Mr. Dorro and the dark mysteries he becomes entangled with, along with young companions Wyll Underfoot and Cheeryup Tunbridge. Fans of the Dorro series can’t get enough of the classic-fantasy action and adventure, as they explore the magical world of Thimble Down and its surroundings.
Readers can connect with Pete on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. To learn more, go to http://www.peteprown.com/

Snow City by G. A. Kathryns

Snow City, by G. A. Kathryns, is a dreamlike journey into the life of a woman who has given up on a dystopian reality and fabricated her idea of a perfect dream world. And then one day she wakes up in that fantasy world…

SYNOPSIS
Her name is Echo Japonica, and she lives in Snow City. But she was not always Echo, and she did not always live in Snow City. Somewhere else, she was someone else, and it was to Snow City that she fled in order to escape a place and a self that had at last become intolerable.
For Snow City is a dream — Echo’s dream — of a better place, an idealized place, a place of both anonymity and fulfillment. It is, for Echo, a haven of peace, a refuge, a sanctuary.
But Snow City remains, nonetheless, a dream, and dreams, being such fragile things, can so easily shade into nightmare…

PROLOGUE
Sometimes one has to dream very hard to keep oneself sane. And that is what I did, hiding from the world — from the terror and the bombings and the deliberately engineered famines and droughts, from the withering shreds of civility and the surging outbursts of impersonal violence — groping blindly through my shadowy, nightmare-haunted fantasies until I came upon Snow City, my dream, my creation. And it was perfect: all bright and full of color, surrounded by pristine mountains, watered by a clear river, touched with the magic of kind people and the pure air I had always longed to breathe, unsullied by the filth and despair of my physical existence.
And as the days wore on and the horror and atrocity about me increased, I turned again and again to my fantasy world, seeking shelter, seeking respite, living secretly, within my heart, an alternate, fabricated life in my little bastion of sanity and perfection.
Until one morning, I awakened to discover that what had been the real world had turned into a kind of faded delirium, and that I — somehow graced with an impossible rebirth and a new identity — was now living in Snow City.
In it.

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 3
In as much of a mental blank as I can muster, I prepare myself and my guitar for the evening’s performance. All is as it always is, as it always has been throughout my time in Snow City. Inspect. Tune. Warm up. Practice. I note fret wear on the wound strings, but though there are new strings to be had, now is not the time to change them, for new strings will take a day or two to stretch out and hold their pitch, and I cannot be constantly retuning in the middle of a piece.
String replacement will be a task for a day off, then, and yes, Mr. Anthony is probably right: perhaps extra-hard tension will bring arthritis on a year or two early. But the yellow card Savarez allows the Kohno to sing brilliantly, and at any rate I intend to let old age take care of itself. At present, I am thirty-five, and I have other things on my mind. Music. Making a living. Existing in my idealized perfection.
Realizing that my idealized perfection contains blemishes of which I was not previously aware.
Practice. And more practice. My fingers flow into the intricacies of Dowland and Bach, and when, just before my Spartan dinner, I take a minute to check my e-mail, my fingers tap keys in half-conscious chordal patterns and bass lines as I respond to a missive from an uncle — Seymour — who is a minister at a small church in an equally small town in Montana. An uncle I have never met and to whom I cannot possibly be related because I simply did not exist in Snow City earlier than three months ago.
Or did I? Was there, perhaps, another Echo Japonica, one who lived happily and productively in this world — preexistent, not dreamed — before my consciousness somehow usurped her identity? Such thoughts and attendant qualms come to me upon occasion, reinforced, to be sure, by external evidence: income tax records dating back the requisite number of years, a driver’s license renewed fourteen months ago, pay stubs dating back to my (or someone else’s) first days at the Blue Rose along with a framed (first tip!) dollar bill I have no memory of receiving…letters, bills, documents of every sort that testify mutely to a life lived in Snow City for much longer than I can recollect.
Whose life have I stolen?
As I tap away, politely declining yet another invitation to spend a week or two in the guesthouse at Uncle Seymour’s ranch — relax, take it easy, surely city life must wear on one after a while, so come smell the wildflowers and perhaps do a little horseback riding — I look up from the computer and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror on the far wall. Big blue eyes. Blonde braid. I did not look even remotely like this…before. But…but who did? And where is she now?
My performance that night is adequate. I am a professional: I will have it no other way. But though Luigi and Mr. O’Dally obviously notice that I am withdrawn and cool, my thoughts shadowed, they do not press me for reasons. Nor do I lift my eyes from my strings as I play: even during the easiest and most trivial of my pieces, my head is bent over the neck of my instrument far more than necessary…for fear that I will espy that gray-clad figure sitting at a back table.
Only once in the course of the evening do I edge toward personal interaction, for after my second set, my curiosity and worry about my hypothetical predecessor at last get the better of me, and while allowing myself a cup of tea at the counter during my break, I turn to Luigi, who is wiping up the remains of a latte left by a clumsy customer.
“Luigi…I find I have a curious question that I am impelled to ask you.”
He brightens: a break in the clouds over this gloomy musician’s head? “I’m at your service, Auntie Echo.”
“Did I…” I do not know where to start. “Was I…that is to say… was there anything…” I falter, unable to find the words. How does one ask something so seemingly idiotic?
Luigi considers me. He is young and intelligent and frequently flippant. But there is a place for flippancy, even in Snow City. “Just spit it out, Auntie.”
With difficulty, I swallow the last of my tea. “I have been playing guitar at this coffee shop for years now, have I not?”
“Yes.” The Mediterranean lilt. “Of course you have.”
I press on despite my fears. “Did I by any chance start to act somewhat strange about…about three months ago? Somewhat different than before? Somewhat…one might say…weird?”
Luigi finishes mopping the latte, rinses the cloth abstractedly, and puts it aside. For a good minute, he looks serious, even thoughtful. Then: “It’s a little hard to say, Auntie Echo. You’ve always acted a little weird.”
I sigh. Of just such stuff are quandaries made. But I nonetheless thank him…and spend the last part of my break hiding in the back office.

WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“Fanciful and dark, a post-modern mythological allegorical story that plays with all the layers of a Bach piece. Engaging and poetic, well-written and witty, meaningful…”
“A story that sets your mind to ponder the underlying meanings behind the scenes. Well written and has a great flow. I read it a few months ago and still have thoughts on the story and where it took me.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
G.A. Kathryns grew up on the West Coast and later on moved to the drier and higher realms of the high plains. She currently makes her home in the Denver metro area where she shares the company of a spouse and two small dogs.
Along with SNOW CITY, she has written a Southern Gothic themed title, THE BORDERS OF LIFE (soon to be reissued in a revised, corrected, and updated version), several pedagogical works devoted to playing the harp, a number of short stories, and a collection of dark fiction.
To learn more, go to http://www.gakathryns.com/home.html

Eye of the Storm by Frank Cavallo

Eye of the Storm book coverEye of the Storm is a new Dark Fantasy / Sword & Sorcery novel by Frank Cavallo. It is recommended for fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Karl Edward Wagner and Robert E. Howard.
“It’s a story about two people from Earth trapped in a parallel world that is sort of a “Land of the Lost” where, for reasons that become apparent during the course of the story, people and creatures from every era of Earth’s history have been snatched up and similarly stranded–some for so long that they no longer recall that their ancestors came from anywhere else,” says Frank. “In the course of trying to find a way back home, they encounter a kingdom of living Neanderthals, who are not cavemen but civilized humans with a culture similar to ancient Mongols or Scythians. They also find a city populated by Etruscans, the ancient pre-Roman rulers of Italy, who have discovered a way to manipulate the currents of dark energy in that parallel world to accomplish things that look like magic.”

 

Synopsis:
On a research mission in one of the most remote regions of the world, former Navy SEAL Eric Slade and Dr. Anna Fayne are caught in a mysterious storm. Catapulted through a rift in space-time, they are marooned on a lost world.
Struggling to survive and desperate to find a way home, they must confront the dangers of this savage land—a dark wizard and his army of undead—a warrior queen and her horde of fierce Neanderthals that stands against him—and a legendary treasure with the power to open the gateway between worlds, or to destroy them all: the Eye of the Storm.

 

Praise:
“Eye of the Storm is a terrific fantasy from Frank Cavallo… He is very imaginative and it shows in his writing, which is descriptive and well defined.” – 5 Stars, Readers’ Favorite
“This was a whole lot of pulp, sci-fi, adventure fun.” – Bob Milne, Beauty in Ruins

 

Excerpt:
The halls were dusty and cold as they headed into the heart of the citadel, climbing towards the Keep by Azreth’s vague directions. Spider-webs hung like curtains along the walls. Every corridor and passage was choked with the detritus of war. A hiss seethed from somewhere in the shadows.
At the crest of a winding staircase, they found a gallery-like corridor that opened under a vaulted ceiling. Despite having stalked the ruins for hours, their torches were no lower, and they cast a reddish light upon the whole of the grand hall. The walls were plastered from floor to ceiling, in brilliant shades of violet, green and gold. Unfamiliar characters were set in relief across both sides.
They continued on, hoping to glean some direction from the strange decorations. With a few of the glyphs there were images of figures. Men and beasts, elegant in detail but difficult to see in the torch-light, cavorting as if frozen in time. Some frolicked in festival, while others looked to be at war, painted blood dripping from their swords.
Each wall had several such murals, of men and women in long white robes and gold sashes. The designs were intricate and beautiful and savage.
At the far end of the hall, looming over the entrance of an inner hold, a stone carving larger than a man’s height peered down at them. It was no human face. The features of the carving were a caricature of humanity, still as sharp as from the sculptor’s hand; like everything else uncannily preserved from the ravages of time.
Horns like a bull’s grew from the temples. Jowls like a hound’s hung open, with rows of teeth flanked by twin fangs.
“We’re getting close,” Azreth said. “I remember this. The bust of Wrael. This is the passage into his throne chamber.”
They all studied it for a moment, but had little time to consider. A rumbling grew up, as if the walls were coming to life. The stone began to vibrate, and the floor shifted beneath them. It was no quake. The thunder was organic, the growling of a carnivore.
“You remember this too?” Slade asked.
“The beast king’s guardian,” Azreth whispered. “The basilisk.”
Spawned from the darkness, something slinked out from beneath the statue. Though at first as black as the shadow itself, it moved of its own accord. Only its crimson eyes were visible. Threya gripped her sword. The thing shrieked. Slade pulled Azreth behind him. Kerr ducked with him, even as he drew a dagger from his cloak.
A lizard-beast leaped into the firelight. It drooled from a snout like a wolf’s, but its body was lean and scaly. The monster slashed at Slade. The force of its thrust knocked him to the floor, a gash torn in his arm.
Threya’s sword whistled through the air, slicing into the basilisk’s haunches before it could strike again. Her second slash tore open its back. The beast flicked its spiked tail, climbing halfway up the wall in a momentary retreat. It eyed Threya with a burning scarlet glower.
It leaped next toward her, throwing itself upon the warrior-queen. Again, the force of its landing was too much, and she collapsed under it, leaving the beast perched on top of her. Its powerful legs pinned her arms to the floor, holding down her sword. It reared its jaws over her, spilling hot, fetid breath in her face.
Back on his feet, Slade jumped from behind and Kerr from the other side. Both plunged their blades through the creature’s torso. Slade clamped his arms around the beast’s throat as it howled, until it squealed with a weakened yelp as the leper’s dagger choked the life out of it. Azreth neared, poking at the carcass with his staff.
“We’re very close now,” the mystic said.

 

Author Frank Cavallo About the Author:
Horror and dark fantasy author Frank Cavallo’s work has appeared in magazines such as Another Realm, Ray Gun Revival, Every Day Fiction, Lost Souls and the Warhammer e-zine Hammer and Bolter.
His latest novel, Eye of the Storm, was released in August 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.
“In Eye of the Storm, I try to bring back some of the elements that I like from old time pulp fiction,” says Frank. “It is a throwback to old school adventure stories, combining the pacing and the feel of those classic tales with some newer elements that are not all that common to typical fantasy fiction.”
Frank’s previously published works include The Lucifer Messiah, The Hand of Osiris, and the Gotrek & Felix novella Into the Valley of Death. He is currently working on a new novel, The Rites of Azathoth, with Necro Publications, due out in February 2017.
Frank was born and raised in New Jersey. He graduated from Boston University with a degree in Communications in 1994 and he earned a JD from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 2001. He currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio, where he has been a criminal defense attorney for fifteen years.
Readers can connect with Frank on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
To learn more, go to FrankCavallo.com
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Frank Cavallo, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.

 

Christopher Mannino’s Epic Fantasy Novel ‘School of Deaths’ is Now Available in Audiobook

School of Deaths Book CoverJanuary 26, 2016 (Greenbelt, MD) – Author Christopher Mannino announced today that School of Deaths, the first installment of his Young Adult trilogy, is now available for purchase in audio format from the popular audiobook site, Audible. Sword of Deaths, the second book in the trilogy, is expected to be released in audio format next month. The books are narrated by acclaimed audiobook narrator Joel Froomkin.
“I’m really pleased with how well The Scythe Wielder’s Secret series has been doing,” says Maninno, “I know a lot of people are interested in audiobooks for long trips or even their daily commute, but the selection can be on the skimpy side. I’m happy I can contribute School of Deaths as a fresh option.”
School of Deaths has been ranked as an Amazon bestseller in Epic Fantasy, and reviewers have compared the series to Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson.
Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death? 
Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail.
As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn’t an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she’s been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.
“If you like Harry Potter, you’ll love this!” – Sasha Alsberg, A Book Utopia
“Not just a book for young adults, but an imaginative read for everyone who likes something a little bit different. 5 Stars!”Reader’s Favorite
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet. He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, MD. In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance and production drama groups. Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University. His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life. To learn more, go to ChristopherMannino.com
For further information, to request a review copy, or to set up an interview or appearance by Christopher Mannino, please contact Kelsey McBride at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com or 805.807.9027.
###