PROMO: All Or None

Promo

All or None - Aurora Lee Thornton

Aurora Lee Thornton has a new queer fantasy book out: “All or None.”

In a world where everyone has a soulmate, uniquely powerful mage Royiora and reluctant assassin Kalo collide in the worst of ways.

Royiora Daralkaen, the only mage alive able to use all five kinds of magic, has a near idyllic childhood in the country of Porescalia – before war breaks out with their antagonistic neighbors, Kloria.

Kalo Porla, a naturally magic-proof individual known as a Null, is trained to be as an assassin by the authoritarian empire known as the Domain.

When Kalo and his partner assassin are sent to kill a mage and his apprentice, it starts a journey neither man was prepared to begin.

Amazon | Universal Link | Goodreads


Excerpt

All or None

Is this our destination? Roy considered, but chose to wait to find out.

His assumption turned out to be correct, as Kalo sighed in relief when he saw it, leading the way right to the door and knocking.

A woman of Kalo’s race answered it, even with the same red skin and gray hair. She laughed and pulled his soulmate into a hug when she saw him, before pulling back and flicking his ear with something even Roy recognized as an admonishment.

The assassin replied something tiredly, walking past the woman with the slight limp he’d had for the past week or so.

Then she turned to the mage, and in perfect Porescalian said, “And you must be my brother’s soulmate. Hello, I’m Rela.”

Roy flinched in surprise, then cleared his throat and shook the proffered hand, “Yes, uh… I’m Royiora.”

“Do you shorten it?” Rela asked, ushering him inside, “I read most Porescalian men do.”

“Um, yes,” the Porescalian man replied, “I usually go by Roy.”

The horned woman nodded, half pushing him past high vaulted halls into another room, “You must be freezing – come on, let’s get you something warm to drink. I’m sure you have plenty of questions Kalo couldn’t answer.”

Roy didn’t get a word in until after Rela had taken the borrowed coat and replaced it with a surprisingly warm blanket, sitting him at a table in what appeared to be a study or classroom with the promised hot drink.

“There are warmth runes inside the stuffing,” someone said, and then a strange looking man with six arms and blue skin hung down from the ceiling. Unlike Rela and Kalo, he had purple glowing eyes, and held out one of his arms, “Hello, I’m Xia – Rela’s one of my soulmates, and this is our home.”

“Uh, hello,” the mage said, shaking as he looked up at the rest of the man’s insectoid body clinging to the ceiling, “I’m… Roy.”

“Nice to meet you, Roy,” Xia said, skittering over a bit to lower himself to the ground, “Rela and I took the trouble of learning your language some time ago, as our other two soulmates appear to be Porescalian as well.”

“And Kalo asked me to translate his soul writing when we were kids,” Rela said, sitting across from Roy, “He was so very excited to meet you, you know. Though, judging by the state of the two of you, I’m guessing it wasn’t under happy circumstances.”

“Not… exactly, no,” Roy said, feeling comfortably warm for the first time in a while. He took a sip of the drink – it was oddly nutty, but enjoyable nonetheless, “Uh… what… is Kalo?”

Rela snorted, “A bit of a pain in the ass, honestly.”

Xia laughed, and went over to the chalkboard in the room. He cleared it with a bit of arcane magic, and started drawing, “Kalo is what we call a ‘null’ – magic doesn’t affect him, and he can absorb it to fuel pseudo-magic abilities of a limited range.”

The strange insect man pulled back to reveal the celestial star, with words written underneath each point.

“Divine magic gives him self-regenerative abilities and invisibility,” Xia said, pointing to Radzmia’s crystal throne, then moved on to Pelzz’s obelisk, “Arcane provides mental acuity and teleportation,” onto Ruelop’s spring, “Physical resistance and enhanced senses,” Guulruf’s nine-pointed star, “Physical strength and shadow walking,” and finally, Forea’s whirlpool, “And physical speed and water breathing.”

“They identified him and our cousin when they were five,” Rela said, smiling, “We were all so excited – the government provided us stipends for their education and care. Us, a little provincial family of no repute.”

“So it’s an…” Roy struggled to keep up as the warmth and stillness worked on relaxing him to the point of drowsiness.

“That’s what they told us,” the woman snorted, taking a drink, ears flicking, “But when they were twelve, they went to the Institute.”

“Where they train them to be tools of the Trinity,” Xia sighed, coming back to the table.

“The… Trinity?” Roy asked.

“Our leaders, Frezians like Xia,” Rela supplied, then shook her head. She looked up at the mage, “Let me tell you about what happened to my brother.”

Kalo

Kalo was so glad to finally lay down on a pad and sleep without worrying about being attacked. Rela had said she’d talk to Royiora, explain things, and he trusted her to do so.

His sister and Hult might be the only people he trusted anymore.

The null didn’t know how much time had passed before there was a gentle touch on his shoulder, and his soulmate saying his name softly.

Kalo sighed, forcing himself to sit up and turn to look at the mage.

Royiora frowned at him, then his eyes lit up gold and he hesitantly reached up and laid a hand on the null’s cheek.

The assassin understood, but still hesitated himself before kissing his soulmate. It wasn’t like the time when he’d had to stop Royiora from killing them both by causing a cave in – it was slow, deceptively intimate.

He only took enough to heal his current injuries before pulling back.

The mage was still frowning at him. Royiora’s gaze fell – to the arm which used to have Kalo’s soul writing on it.

The assassin sighed, and unwrapped it. What did you go and tell him, Rela?

Kalo held the arm out, rough, burnt skin obviously clear of writing on display.

His soulmate reached out hesitantly, gentle fingertips brushing over the scarred skin. Then he took a sudden breath, hand jerking back as if he were the one burned.

Kalo looked up to see the other man crying. He shook his head, reaching out without thought to cup his soulmate’s face and brush away the tears with his thumbs, “No, don’t – don’t cry over me. I don’t deserve that.”

Royiora stared up at him, and something like resolve seemed to enter his eyes. He pushed up, barely hesitating before kissing Kalo himself.

At first, the null didn’t know how to react. This wasn’t an exchange, it wasn’t necessary. It couldn’t be affection – so what was it?

And then Royiora’s hand brushed over his burns again, and it clicked – sympathy.


Author Bio

Aurora Lee Thornton

Aurora is a nonbinary, asexual writer with a new goal in life: to write the queerest books possible. (And yes, xe means gay, but also weird is good too.)

Xe loves dragons and fantasy, and someday hopes to complete a (soft) science fiction novel as well. Currently, xe lives with xyr two cats.

Author Website: https://www.auroraleethornton.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/AuroraLeeThorntonBooks

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/Aurora_T_Books

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/auroraleethornton/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16358225.Aurora_Lee_Thornton

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Aurora-Lee-Thornton/e/B078QTVKQP?ref_=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

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PROMO: New Release! Brains and Brawn

Promo

Brains and Brawn - R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill has a new MM rock and roll book out: “Brains and Brawn.” And there’s a giveaway!

Billy “Brains” Brennan has achieved rock stardom in not just one, but two chart-topping bands, but events from his past have him convinced he’s living on borrowed time. Brains and his brothers-in-Hush are ready to take the last cross-country Warped Tour by storm…until the actions of two drunk dudes with bad attitudes set off a chain of events that leave him incapacitated…and face-to-face with a handsome stranger who inexplicably feels like home—and not the home Brains fled at sixteen.

Chief Petty Officer Paul McNally has spent his 25-year career as a Navy Corpsman responding to emergencies and caring for wounded soldiers. When fate has him in the right place to provide aid to a fallen rock star, it sends his life spiraling on a trajectory he never planned for. Instead of concentrating on his impending retirement and a second career, he’s now playing nursemaid to a fascinating younger man…and falling in love—a fact he can’t seem to figure out how to explain to his adult son.

A health scare, band drama, and pain from both of their pasts threatens to end Brains and Paul’s fledgling relationship. Fate brought them together. It will take trust, honesty, and hope to keep them together.

Amazon | Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

R.L. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47143/?


Excerpt

Brains and Brawn meme

Paul’s head whipped around when he heard the first scream. He watched in horror as the tent Bowie had just been standing in front of—Hush’s tent—collapsed and a crowd of people fell.

Without hesitation, he ran for the tent. Then he spotted Bowie standing over some big guy.

“You okay?” he yelled to him.

Bowie nodded, his big blue eyes wide as he looked back at the disaster.

Security began barricading the area around the tent and moving the screaming fans away from the scene. Adults attempted to pull the kids out of harm’s way.

That’s when Paul saw the tabletop on the ground and a pair of black-clad legs sticking out from underneath.

Oh God.

Guys in bright yellow security shirts lifted and pulled the rest of the tent out of the way. Paul rushed toward the broken table and sank to his knees next to Brains.

“Can you hear me? Are you with me?”

Brains locked gazes with him, and Paul felt pain in his right hand. He looked down to see Brains squeezing the life out of it.

“Please don’t leave….”

Medical staff approached in blue cargo pants and polos and swarmed the members of the band and their staff, several of whom were on the ground. Two women approached Brains with medical kits, and Paul started to move back, but Brains’s grip grew tighter.

“Please don’t leave me!” Brains said again, more insistently. He was panting, his face losing color, and Paul feared he was going into shock. He glanced at the table on his legs and at the staff who were preparing to lift it off him.

Paul worried perhaps the worst had occurred, but the fact that Brains was still squeezing the shit out of his hand was a good sign.

Brains coughed as he brought his other hand up to grasp Paul’s. “Please!” His appeals were growing in urgency.

Paul leaned a little closer to his face and pressed his free hand to Brains’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, okay? But they’re going to lift the table now. You ready? Try not to move.”

Brains nodded—another good sign—but Paul pressed a hand to his shoulder. “Stay still.”

The staff guys counted to three, and then they lifted the table.

Brains let out a guttural shout, and tears streamed down his face as he winced in agony.

Paul breathed a sigh of relief to not see any blood or rips in Brains’s pants. He half expected to see a bone shard sticking out. But they weren’t out of the woods.

“Brains, listen to me, okay?”

“Billy.”

Paul frowned. “Billy?”

“My name is Billy. Please—”

“I’m not leaving you, but these medics here are going to look you over, and they’re probably going to poke and prod you a bit.” He nodded to the young women in Rock Medicine shirts who stood by, hesitating to approach. Paul heard sirens in the distance, which meant better-trained professionals were on their way, but Brains—Billy—needed to be assessed immediately.

“Sir, we need you to move—”

“He’s not going anywhere!” Brains shouted at them.

Paul addressed the one with the first-aid kit. “My name is Paul McNally. I’m a Navy corpsman, and I’m trained in triage and emergency medical treatment.” And I’m not leaving his side.

The young women looked to each other and then crouched down next to Billy. One of them placed a hand on Billy’s arm.

“I’m going to touch you, okay?”

“He’s staying with me, you got it? He’s staying.” Billy’s chin quivered as he spoke to the medics. The two women looked at each other with eyes wide.

Paul was losing circulation in his hand, but he wouldn’t have left Billy if the entire venue burst into flames. The way he was reacting… Paul had been through countless emergencies and could recognize when there was a psychological issue at work that needed attention.

He looked around for Bowie and saw him with Dimples, watching from a distance. Relieved that he hadn’t been hurt and seemed to be doing okay, Paul turned his full attention on Billy.

One of the women took Brains’s vitals, and the other ran her hands over his body, checking for injuries. She barely spoke to Brains, and Paul was perturbed at the way they were assessing him.

“Billy, can you wiggle your toes for me?” Paul asked.

Brains nodded, and then Paul looked at his Vans-clad feet. Thankfully, he saw movement on both.

Paul smiled down at Brains. “You’re doing great. You know what today is?”

“A fucked-up day? I had a bad feeling this morning….”

“Seems like it was warranted.”

Brains’s deep blue eyes fixed on Paul, and his breathing seemed to slow for just a moment. Paul hoped that meant he would maybe be able to relax—

“Sir, I’m going to need to put a collar on you.”

Brains flinched when the medic touched him. “I’m fine, just let me up—”

Paul placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, and it was enough to keep Brains from trying to sit up. “Billy? It’s important that you lie still and let them put a collar on you. With this sort of accident, they need to keep your spine aligned to avoid any further injury, okay?”

Brains began to pant and tugged Paul’s hand as though he wanted to try to pull up, but when he tried to move his legs, only the right one moved, and he screamed in pain.

“Look at me,” Paul said, getting closer to his face. He needed to distract him, to make Brains focus on him. “Brains, they need to take you to the hospital—”

“No. No, no, no, please,” he whispered. “I can’t go, please, Paul, please—”

“I’m not going to leave you. I won’t let them hurt you, okay? They need to take you in for X-rays to make sure nothing’s broken.”

Brains’s voice sounded like that of a frightened child. Something was seriously wrong. He pulled on their joined hands again, and the medic placed a hand on Brains’s chest to keep him from moving.

“Sir? You may have a spinal injury, so we have to place you on this backboard with a collar to protect you. If you won’t cooperate, we’re going to have to sedate you.”

“Can you give us a minute?” Paul asked the medics, irritation clear in his voice.

“We need to get him to the ambulance,” the medic closest to him said, and then was distracted by the band’s manager. She gave the medic Brains’s information and shot a worried look Paul’s direction. His full name was Billy Brennan.

Paul ground his teeth together and took a breath to calm himself. “I understand. Will you give me a moment to speak to Mr. Brennan? I’d like to avoid the use of sedatives.”

She nodded, and they stood and backed away a few feet to confer.

Paul squeezed Brains’s hand and placed the other on his forehead.

“Hey, man. The sedatives are a drag. This will all go better if you let them collar you and get you on the backboard. Hopefully everything is fine. The fact that you’re moving your toes and strangling my fingers leads me to think your spine is just fine, but it’s procedure. I swear I’m staying with you.”

Billy swallowed hard, his eyes wild. “I know I’m acting crazy. There’s a reason, I just… please.”

Paul smiled at him. “You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve got a wounded Marine pulling his pistol and pointing it at your face while you try to remove a sliver from his other hand.”

Brains’s eyes bugged out. “A sliver?”

Paul shrugged. “It was a four-inch piece of shrapnel, but I’d still call it a sliver.” He winked, and Brains barked out a laugh. Good, keep that smile. “You going to let them collar you and take you for a little ride?”

Brains’s smile faded. “Just please stay with me. Can you? Will you?”

If Paul hadn’t already been 100 percent in on this mission, he was now.


Author Bio

R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after.

Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush and RONE finalist for Typhoon Toby, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.

She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other writing and mentoring projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause.

You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005746815103

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828914.R_L_Merrill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/r-l-merrill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R-L-Merrill/e/B00PI6Q1LI

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PROMO: Cover Reveal! The Apex Mage

Promo, Writing

Hey, check it out! I have another cover reveal post today. And this one’s got something unusual going for it: it’s mine! Can you imagine that? I finished something!

Unfortunately, I haven’t actually finished the blurb, so all I’ve got for you is the cover. Go figure, a cover image for a cover reveal post…

The Apex Mage is coming soon to an ebook retailer (e-tailer?) near you! Better get a copy, or I’ll sick Talisha (the mage on the cover) on you. 😉

PROMO: Cover Reveal! Brains and Brawn

Promo

Brains and Brawn - R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill has a new MM rock and roll book coming out, and we have the cover reveal: “Brains and Brawn.” And there’s a giveaway!@

Billy “Brains” Brennan has achieved rock stardom in not just one, but two chart-topping bands, but events from his past have him convinced he’s living on borrowed time. Brains and his brothers-in-Hush are ready to take the last cross-country Warped Tour by storm…until the actions of two drunk dudes with bad attitudes set off a chain of events that leave him incapacitated…and face-to-face with a handsome stranger who inexplicably feels like home—and not the home Brains fled at sixteen.

Chief Petty Officer Paul McNally has spent his 25-year career as a Navy Corpsman responding to emergencies and caring for wounded soldiers. When fate has him in the right place to provide aid to a fallen rock star, it sends his life spiraling on a trajectory he never planned for. Instead of concentrating on his impending retirement and a second career, he’s now playing nursemaid to a fascinating younger man…and falling in love—a fact he can’t seem to figure out how to explain to his adult son.

A health scare, band drama, and pain from both of their pasts threatens to end Brains and Paul’s fledgling relationship. Fate brought them together. It will take trust, honesty, and hope to keep them together.

Amazon | Universal Buy Link


Giveaway

R.L. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveawayhttps://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47142/?


Excerpt

Brains and Brawn meme

Paul’s head whipped around when he heard the first scream. He watched in horror as the tent Bowie had just been standing in front of—Hush’s tent—collapsed and a crowd of people fell.

Without hesitation, he ran for the tent. Then he spotted Bowie standing over some big guy.

“You okay?” he yelled to him.

Bowie nodded, his big blue eyes wide as he looked back at the disaster.

Security began barricading the area around the tent and moving the screaming fans away from the scene. Adults attempted to pull the kids out of harm’s way.

That’s when Paul saw the tabletop on the ground and a pair of black-clad legs sticking out from underneath.

Oh God.

Guys in bright yellow security shirts lifted and pulled the rest of the tent out of the way. Paul rushed toward the broken table and sank to his knees next to Brains.

“Can you hear me? Are you with me?”

Brains locked gazes with him, and Paul felt pain in his right hand. He looked down to see Brains squeezing the life out of it.

“Please don’t leave….”

Medical staff approached in blue cargo pants and polos and swarmed the members of the band and their staff, several of whom were on the ground. Two women approached Brains with medical kits, and Paul started to move back, but Brains’s grip grew tighter.

“Please don’t leave me!” Brains said again, more insistently. He was panting, his face losing color, and Paul feared he was going into shock. He glanced at the table on his legs and at the staff who were preparing to lift it off him.

Paul worried perhaps the worst had occurred, but the fact that Brains was still squeezing the shit out of his hand was a good sign.

Brains coughed as he brought his other hand up to grasp Paul’s. “Please!” His appeals were growing in urgency.

Paul leaned a little closer to his face and pressed his free hand to Brains’s cheek. “I’m not going anywhere, okay? But they’re going to lift the table now. You ready? Try not to move.”

Brains nodded—another good sign—but Paul pressed a hand to his shoulder. “Stay still.”

The staff guys counted to three, and then they lifted the table.

Brains let out a guttural shout, and tears streamed down his face as he winced in agony.

Paul breathed a sigh of relief to not see any blood or rips in Brains’s pants. He half expected to see a bone shard sticking out. But they weren’t out of the woods.

“Brains, listen to me, okay?”

“Billy.”

Paul frowned. “Billy?”

“My name is Billy. Please—”

“I’m not leaving you, but these medics here are going to look you over, and they’re probably going to poke and prod you a bit.” He nodded to the young women in Rock Medicine shirts who stood by, hesitating to approach. Paul heard sirens in the distance, which meant better-trained professionals were on their way, but Brains—Billy—needed to be assessed immediately.

“Sir, we need you to move—”

“He’s not going anywhere!” Brains shouted at them.

Paul addressed the one with the first-aid kit. “My name is Paul McNally. I’m a Navy corpsman, and I’m trained in triage and emergency medical treatment.” And I’m not leaving his side.

The young women looked to each other and then crouched down next to Billy. One of them placed a hand on Billy’s arm.

“I’m going to touch you, okay?”

“He’s staying with me, you got it? He’s staying.” Billy’s chin quivered as he spoke to the medics. The two women looked at each other with eyes wide.

Paul was losing circulation in his hand, but he wouldn’t have left Billy if the entire venue burst into flames. The way he was reacting… Paul had been through countless emergencies and could recognize when there was a psychological issue at work that needed attention.

He looked around for Bowie and saw him with Dimples, watching from a distance. Relieved that he hadn’t been hurt and seemed to be doing okay, Paul turned his full attention on Billy.

One of the women took Brains’s vitals, and the other ran her hands over his body, checking for injuries. She barely spoke to Brains, and Paul was perturbed at the way they were assessing him.

“Billy, can you wiggle your toes for me?” Paul asked.

Brains nodded, and then Paul looked at his Vans-clad feet. Thankfully, he saw movement on both.

Paul smiled down at Brains. “You’re doing great. You know what today is?”

“A fucked-up day? I had a bad feeling this morning….”

“Seems like it was warranted.”

Brains’s deep blue eyes fixed on Paul, and his breathing seemed to slow for just a moment. Paul hoped that meant he would maybe be able to relax—

“Sir, I’m going to need to put a collar on you.”

Brains flinched when the medic touched him. “I’m fine, just let me up—”

Paul placed a gentle hand on his shoulder, and it was enough to keep Brains from trying to sit up. “Billy? It’s important that you lie still and let them put a collar on you. With this sort of accident, they need to keep your spine aligned to avoid any further injury, okay?”

Brains began to pant and tugged Paul’s hand as though he wanted to try to pull up, but when he tried to move his legs, only the right one moved, and he screamed in pain.

“Look at me,” Paul said, getting closer to his face. He needed to distract him, to make Brains focus on him. “Brains, they need to take you to the hospital—”

“No. No, no, no, please,” he whispered. “I can’t go, please, Paul, please—”

“I’m not going to leave you. I won’t let them hurt you, okay? They need to take you in for X-rays to make sure nothing’s broken.”

Brains’s voice sounded like that of a frightened child. Something was seriously wrong. He pulled on their joined hands again, and the medic placed a hand on Brains’s chest to keep him from moving.

“Sir? You may have a spinal injury, so we have to place you on this backboard with a collar to protect you. If you won’t cooperate, we’re going to have to sedate you.”

“Can you give us a minute?” Paul asked the medics, irritation clear in his voice.

“We need to get him to the ambulance,” the medic closest to him said, and then was distracted by the band’s manager. She gave the medic Brains’s information and shot a worried look Paul’s direction. His full name was Billy Brennan.

Paul ground his teeth together and took a breath to calm himself. “I understand. Will you give me a moment to speak to Mr. Brennan? I’d like to avoid the use of sedatives.”

She nodded, and they stood and backed away a few feet to confer.

Paul squeezed Brains’s hand and placed the other on his forehead.

“Hey, man. The sedatives are a drag. This will all go better if you let them collar you and get you on the backboard. Hopefully everything is fine. The fact that you’re moving your toes and strangling my fingers leads me to think your spine is just fine, but it’s procedure. I swear I’m staying with you.”

Billy swallowed hard, his eyes wild. “I know I’m acting crazy. There’s a reason, I just… please.”

Paul smiled at him. “You haven’t seen crazy until you’ve got a wounded Marine pulling his pistol and pointing it at your face while you try to remove a sliver from his other hand.”

Brains’s eyes bugged out. “A sliver?”

Paul shrugged. “It was a four-inch piece of shrapnel, but I’d still call it a sliver.” He winked, and Brains barked out a laugh. Good, keep that smile. “You going to let them collar you and take you for a little ride?”

Brains’s smile faded. “Just please stay with me. Can you? Will you?”

If Paul hadn’t already been 100 percent in on this mission, he was now.


Author Bio

R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after.

Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush and RONE finalist for Typhoon Toby, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.

She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other writing and mentoring projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause.

You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005746815103

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828914.R_L_Merrill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/r-l-merrill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R-L-Merrill/e/B00PI6Q1LI

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PROMO: Cover Reveal! Summer of Hush

Promo

Summer of Hush - R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill has a hot new MM Rock ‘n Roll romance out, and we have the cover reveal: “Summer of Hush.” Plus there’s a giveaway!

Hush is back… and it’s about to get loud. After two years grieving the death of his best friend, Silas Franklin is back on the road with his metalcore band, Hush. With a new member, a brilliant new album, and a headlining spot on the last cross-country Warped Tour, life couldn’t be better—unless Silas could meet the intriguing music blogger known only as the Guru.

Silas has followed his blog for years and feels the Guru might be the only person who “gets” him. For years Krishnan Guruvayoor has reported on the metal scene as an anonymous blogger, and he’s just landed an internship on the Warped Tour as well as a potential position with a well-respected music magazine.

His best friend arranges for him to meet singer Silas Franklin—but only as Krish the Intern. Their chemistry is instant, and Krish is thrilled to get to know the man behind the music. The rock star and blogger quickly go from meet-cute to cuddle session, but secrets, overprotective bandmates, meddling media, and a terrible accident all conspire against them.

Can their romance survive the summer of Hush?

This is a rerelease.

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Excerpt

Summer of Hush meme - R.L. Merrill

Krish’s finger hovered over the Play button.

What if it’s not enough?

Krish sat in his bedroom. His last final was this morning, meaning he’d unceremoniously finished college. He came straight home from school to start his new adventure. But before the insanity started, he had something very important to listen to—an album he’d been waiting two whole years to hear. The band was Hush. The album, Sunrise, was their fifth studio album since their founding in 2008.

It would break his heart to give a negative review to his favorite band. His alter ego, the Guru, was known for his brutally honest metal reviews. He had a million subscribers on his YouTube channel, where he posted weekly animated shows, five hundred thousand Twitter users who followed his musical and political rants, and his blog posts were often mentioned on such popular sites as Metal Hammer, Loudwire, and even HuffPost. He owed his readers an accurate review, even if he was conflicted.

What if losing their guitarist meant the end of Hush? He’d loved them since his brother introduced him to music—specifically metalcore—and though he loved them best, he tried to be impartial to all of the bands he reviewed, from live performances and new albums to whatever he felt the need to riff on.

And then there were his posts about social issues, namely mental health and the LGBTQ community. Those tended to get really personal, and after Gavin West committed suicide, his love of music and his personal life intersected. The blog he wrote about Gavin’s death was his most viewed ever and the one he almost didn’t post.

“Krish, darling, did you want anything to eat? You didn’t have lunch, sweetheart. I am worried about you.”

Krish’s mom stuck her head in his room and found him in the same position—earbuds in, finger over the button, and holding his breath.

“Is it the new album from Hush?”

Krish nodded.

“How is it?”

“I’m afraid to play it.”

His mom patted him on the shoulder. She knew how devastated he had been by the death of one of his favorite musicians nearly two years prior. She’d cried alongside him, just as she had a year before that when they lost his brother.

“Whatever they’ve done, it will be beautiful. They’re talented boys.”

Krish smiled up at his mom. How he managed to land the coolest Indian mom on the planet was a mystery he’d yet to solve. She indulged his every passion, from music to politics to books and his guilty pleasure, video games. Her own childhood had not been so free, so she was determined her boys would be able to do whatever they wanted with their lives. For Vivaan, that meant joining the Marines after college. For Krish, it meant a career in music journalism, and now that he’d finished his degrees, he was anxious to get started.

“Have you finished packing?” she asked him.

Krish swallowed hard. Warped Tour. The other benefit of his blog was that he’d caught the attention of Alt-Scene magazine. Their assistant to the editor in chief had arranged for Krish to join the tour. He’d remain anonymous and only the tour office manager would know who he was and why he was there. To everyone else he was just her intern. He’d post his blog as usual but also work on a piece for the magazine. If the magazine liked how he covered the tour, there was a full-time position waiting for him at the end of it.

“Mostly. Jake’s not picking me up until Friday morning. That means I have one more day to stress over what I can and can’t fit into the one duffel bag I’m allowed to bring on the bus.”

She smiled at him and tugged on his shaggy curls. “A whole summer on a bus. I hope you made room for air freshener and hand sanitizer.”

“There will be women on the bus. I’m sure between them they’ll have something that smells nice.”

“It’s been wonderful having you home,” she said, her voice softer. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too, but it’s only two months,” he answered. Krish had moved home when they received the devastating news about his brother, and he’d commuted to UC San Diego for the remainder of his time there, needing to be near his parents as they all worked through their grief. Now that he’d graduated, it was time to start the next chapter in his life, and he’d been given the opportunity of a lifetime.

“The first two months of the rest of your life. This is an exciting time for you.”

He heard the tears behind her voice. He couldn’t look at her or he’d be lost.

“I wish he were here,” Krish said quietly. His brother should be having his own adventures while cheering on his little Guru. But Krish was on his own now, and it was time to think about not only starting a career and leaving the nest, but standing on his own without his biggest supporter.

“I’ll come down in a second.” Krish hugged her waist and exhaled a shaky breath.

“I’ll heat up some dinner.”

“Is there any of that tandoori chicken left?” he called to her.

“I’ll heat some up for you. Don’t get lost up here. Just push Play.”

She totally understood him. “Thanks, Mom.”


Author Bio

R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill brings you stories of Hope, Love, and Rock ‘n’ Roll featuring quirky and relatable characters. Whether she’s writing about contemporary issues that affect us all or diving deep into the paranormal and supernatural to give readers a shiver, she loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after.

Winner of the Kathryn Hayes “When Sparks Fly” Best Contemporary award for Hurricane Reese, Foreword INDIES finalist for Summer of Hush and RONE finalist for Typhoon Toby, Ro spends every spare moment improving her writing craft and striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after.

She writes diverse and inclusive romance, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and works on various other writing and mentoring projects that tickle her fancy or benefit a worthy cause.

You can find her connecting with readers on social media, educating America’s youth, raising two brilliant teenagers, trying desperately to get that back piece finished in the tattoo chair, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock ‘n’ Romance.

Author Website: https://www.rlmerrillauthor.com

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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/R-L-Merrill/e/B00PI6Q1LI/

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PROMO: Hearts Ablaze

Promo

A.D. Ellis has a new contemporary MM romance out: “Hearts Ablaze.”

Chase Steele and Xander Copperfield are down on their luck, as similar as they are different, and ready for a love they didn’t even realize they’d been waiting on their whole lives.

With two gorgeous “tough guys” discovering and exploring their true selves, Hearts Ablaze is a steamy, slow-burn, friends-to-lovers, opposites attract, bisexual awakening romance.

*This is the first book in the Forged in the City series.*

Amazon | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

About the Series:

Love will find you whether you’re ready for it or not. Join the men of the Forged in the City series as they navigate the twists and turns of falling in love when it’s least expected. This series contains steamy, M/M age-gap, opposites-attract, friends-to-lovers romance tropes.

Series Link


Giveaway

A.D. is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

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Excerpt

Hearts Ablaze Meme

As I quietly opened the door, I was overcome with nervous anticipation. Sage and Bode were nice, they invited me to stay, there was no reason to feel like I was intruding or needed to sneak around.

Yet, I found myself just outside of the kitchen eavesdropping on Sage and Bode. I hadn’t meant to slink in the shadows and listen to their conversation, I just wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to be and their words caught my attention. Before I knew what was happening, I was spying like a damn spying spier.

“Think about it. It’s like fate. Remember when you didn’t want me to move in here? You did everything you could to convince the guys to pick someone else. But you ended up with me and it turned out to be fabulous.” Sage’s words were low and persuasive. “Ginny finds her long-lost nephew, he discovers his aunt and a sister he never knew, and it looked very much like he and Xan are totally hitting it off.”

“Babe, he’s a complete stranger.” Bode’s words were gruff.

“Ginny had his records checked. You checked his records—even had Mark check them which I’m still not okay with. We could run a complete check for employment.” Sage paused and I heard the soft noises of a gentle kiss.

Bode groaned.

I was a total perv hiding in the shadows and getting turned on knowing Sage and Bode were kissing.

“We need an employee. We have an extra room.” Sage was laying it on thick. “We could help bring two siblings together and maybe even strike a love connection.”

Bode began to speak, but I missed what he said because I nearly shit myself as Rosie gripped my hand and basically screamed, “Whatcha doin? Why you hidin?”

Sage and Bode stuck their heads out of the kitchen and I prayed to melt into a puddle right there. Rosie shrugged when she realized it wasn’t a game and went back to playing with Oliver.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to listen in.” My words poured from me like the pathetic excuse they were. “Really, I came for coffee, heard Sage and didn’t want to interrupt. By the time I realized you were talking about me, it was too late and I was frozen.” I ran a hand over my face, my cheeks on fire. “Shit, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Sage assured and waved a dismissive hand in the air. “Coffee?”

Since I wasn’t lucky enough to die on the spot, I nodded and entered the kitchen. “Yes, please.”

“Well, what would you think?” Bode leaned against the counter.

“About?” I stammered.

Sage beamed at Bode. It was clear Sage had won. Something told me Sage often won when it came to winning over Bode.

“Sage is right. We do need an employee at The Lizard. We lost quite a few people to college graduation or busy school schedules.” Bode shrugged. “We planned on inviting you to be around as much as possible to build a relationship with Rosie. If you’d be willing to have a complete background check, the position and room are yours.”

I stared at him for years. Decades even.

“What’s wrong with him? Did I break him?” Bode scowled and spoke out of the corner of his mouth to Sage.

Sage chuckled and moved closer to me. He pushed my jaw up. “Close your mouth, sweetie.” He stepped between me and Bode. “Chase, would you like a job at The Salty Lizard? It’s not glamorous or exciting.” He frowned. “Actually, it can be kinda exciting sometimes. And it’s always fun. Great people.” He dipped his head to catch my eyes. “Chase? Job? You want it?”

I nodded and tried to work my sandpapery thick tongue. “Yes, yes, of course, I want it.” I tried to breathe, but my lungs seemed to be faltering.

“We have a room here. You’d pay rent, but it’s a decent price. We’d set some ground rules. You’d have to be okay living with kids.” Sage spoke slowly as if trying to explain quantum physics to me. “Would you like the room?”

“I, um, I just can’t. I mean, yes, of course I’d want the room, but I can’t ask you guys to give me a job, give me a room, and let me hang with my sister. It’s too much.” I moved to the right and leaned against the sink.

“Want to talk about the rent and salary? Make a decision from there?” Sage patted my arm.

I nodded mutely.

Sage went to check on the kids and set them up with crayons and coloring books along with Kidz Bop on a tablet.


Author Bio

A.D. Ellis is an Indiana girl, born and raised. She spends much of her time in central Indiana as an instructional coach/teacher in the inner city of Indianapolis, being a mom to two amazing school-aged children, and wondering how she and her husband of almost two decades have managed to not drive each other insane. A lot of her time is also devoted to phone call avoidance and her hatred of cooking.

She loves chocolate, wine with friends, pizza, crocheting and naps along with reading and writing romance. These loves don’t leave much time for housework, much to the chagrin of her husband. Who would pick cleaning the house over a nap or a good book? She uses any extra time to increase her fluency in sarcasm.

Author Website: https://www.adellisauthor.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/adellisauthor

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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A.D.-Ellis/e/B00K0YJ8CW

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PROMO: Warrior’s Way

Promo

Warrior's Way - M.J. Calabrese

M.J. Calabrese has a new Gay/Bi mystery thriller out: “Warrior’s Way.” And there’s a giveaway!

Friends since childhood, Albuquerque detective Eagle Woodard and criminal profiler Adam Coulter are dragged into a serial killer case. Gay couples are being murdered and tortured and the FBI needs their help to capture the sadistic murderer.

Deciding to implement a plan to trap the killer, Adam and Eagle go undercover as an involved gay couple. Or is it really pretend?

Faced with their toughest challenge yet, they must find the active serial killer before he strikes again. With the powers that be not cooperating and the killer proving to be elusive, will Eagle and Adam be able to stop the murderer while navigating their changing relationship?

Please Note: This is the first book in an ongoing story arc. Although the case is solved, the relationship ends on a cliffhanger. Contains graphic violence and scenes of torture.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | QueeRomance Ink


Giveaway

M.J. is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

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Excerpt

Warriors Way Meme

The cool wind attacked Eagle Woodard’s body as he fell head over heels. He tumbled, body tightly tucked as he cleared the modified Cessna, momentarily catching sight of the blue, cloudless horizon before stretching out to embrace the air. Below him, the rust toned surrealist canvas of desert and mountains began to take shape as he allowed himself to freefall through the biting tempest. The winds transformed his tanned face, warping it into a mad, Joker-esque grin.

The former Army Ranger set his plan into motion.  Pulling his muscular arms tightly against his torso, the angle of his descent began to change. ‘I feel the need, the need for speed.’ If the wind hadn’t been so brutal, he would’ve laughed. How many times had they used those iconic words in training? At 38, it felt like a lifetime ago.

Eagle tilted his head down. He pressed his legs together with toes pointed toward the heavens, becoming a human bullet streaking through the atmosphere. He could feel the friction heating his head and shoulders. His dark, goggle covered eyes flickered to the left, quickly gauging his altitude in relation to the horizon. One…, two…, three seconds passed.

Eagle reveled in the multitude of sensations inundating his body. The angry roar of the wind deafened him. The white noise of the rushing air blotted out all sound except for the popping of the black, nylon jumpsuit. The wind strained the cloth protecting him almost to its limit. The powerful, talon-like turbulence threatened to shred his clothes, leaving him bare and unprotected from the tempest. The bee sting lash of his long, raven ponytail as it whipped against his neck and face revitalized and reddened his brown skin.

Four…, five…, six…, seven…, eight.’  With an eerie calm, Woodard counted the seconds. As he drew closer and closer to terra firma, his confidence in his abilities never wavered. Here he was master. Here he was the great bird of his people’s folklore. He was the embodiment of Atsáh, the Eagle, swooping with deadly accuracy toward his prey on the ground.

The Albuquerque homicide Detective didn’t need to see his altimeter. He knew he only had a few more moments of precious freedom. Reluctantly, his right hand moved reflexively to the left side of his chest. Gripping the cold metal ring, he tugged.

A grunt of air was forced from his lungs. The nylon straps crisscrossing his body suddenly tightened, drawing him up. Eagle grimaced as pain seared up his back. The sudden opening of his parachute at this rate of speed aggravated more than one old injury. Gravity, the purveyor of his discomfort, pressed his chin to his chest for an instant before the strain of rapid deceleration eased.

With skill born of countless jumps, Eagle maneuvered the billowing canopy toward his destination. Calculating the high desert cross winds, he made a last-minute correction which allowed him to plant his right foot firmly onto the center of the large, white cross target. As his left foot touched down, he leaned back, encouraging his chute to take the rest of the breeze until it collapsed and fell impotent to the sand. Instantly, the tall man began to gather the yards of thin ripstop nylon and cord into his arms, beating down any last show of resistance from the exuberant ram-air parachute.

Turning, Eagle reached up and pulled his goggles from his face just as his cell phone rang. Pulling it from his zippered pocket, he grimaced at the sight of the familiar number.

“I thought I was supposed to have a day off, Captain.”

“You do, but I’ve got an FBI agent here that needs to talk with you. Says you knew his brother. Here, talk to him.”

“Detective Woodard, my name is Kessler. Rick Kessler. I think you served with my brother, Dean, in the Army.”

The voice and the name triggered unpleasant memories of a time he had tried to bury. He couldn’t tell if it was his Spanish or Navajo side sending a warning chill up his spine. Suddenly, Eagle realized the man on the other end of the line was waiting.

“Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I remember Dean. He died in Afghanistan, didn’t he? Sorry.”

What Woodard remembered was what a closeted bastard the guy had been and how he’d used the knowledge of Eagle’s own closeted sexuality against him. Threatening to report him and risking dishonorable discharge at best…, or death if members of their team found out. He didn’t mourn Dean Kessler’s passing when he got word that some insurgents finished him. “Captain said you were with the FBI?”

“Yes. Detective Woodard, I’ve heard a lot about you and Dr. Coulter. I was very impressed when you apprehended Martin Devoreaux. I read the case report. You and Dr. Coulter are quite the team. The good doctor’s a legend at the bureau. His book on  Ritual Behaviorism Among Serial Killers is mandatory reading now at the academy.”

“Oh, Adam would love to hear that.” Eagle rolled his eyes. The last thing Adam Coulter needed was something to bolster his ego.

“If it’s alright, I really need to talk with both of you about a case I’m working. I think you might be able to help me.”

“Today?”

“No. I’m still putting some final touches on a plan I’ve got in motion. How about tomorrow morning at your home? I want to keep this as low key as possible. Strictly, on a need to know basis, so I’d prefer it if your Captain and I met with you and Coulter privately.”

Eagle unzipped his jumpsuit from chin to navel. “What time?”

“0900?”

“Sure. Tell Cap to bring the creamer.”

Pocketing his phone, Eagle gathered his parachute from the ground and slowly made his way to his truck. Stowing the chute away, he unzipped his jumpsuit the rest of the way. Dragging it down off his shoulders, he revealed a tan-colored work shirt and jeans. He pushed the loose-fitting black nylon from around his narrow waist. Wrestling the last couple of inches of fabric over his shoes, Eagle jerked the material free and tossed it behind the driver’s seat completing his impromptu striptease. He looked up toward the sun before glancing at his watch.

“Yeah…, I know, I’m late.” He said to no one, but the wind.


Author Bio

Warriors Way author logo - M.J. Calabrese

My mother now regrets her fateful words she offered the day I came home from our small town library in Palm Springs, California (yes, I’m a Cali girl) complaining that there were no more books to read. “Then why don’t you write some.”

My father never saw his old Remington portable until I entered college and they gifted me an IBM Selectric. By then I had produced at least two dozen unpublishable novels which make me cringe when I read them today.

I found inspiration in innumerable odd jobs (from migrant work as a Date palm pollinator to the person who cleans the washing machines at the launderette to professional Dominatrix) for stories. After a stint in Rehab for Alcohol and Heroin abuse (so when I write those scenes, I know what I’m talking about), I cleaned up and have stayed that way for 29 years. (Me and Sir Elton, LOL). My gypsy lifestyle gave me a unique perspective on the different people who inhabited the Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California, and New Mexico areas where I have lived.

After 3 very bad marriages to men, I finally figured out what was wrong and fell in love with a woman when I lived in Portland, OR 23 years ago. We’ve been married since 2008 (yes it was legal in California at that time). We now live in Asheville, NC and love the people in this liberal and accepting corner of the mountains of North Carolina.

Author Website: https://www.mjcalabrese.com

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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/M-J-Calabrese/e/B082VDNB6T/

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PROMO: Pirates of Romance

Promo

Pirates of Romance
Asta Idonea
7 April 2020
10,500 words
MM/Contemporary/Short Story
Cover Art & Formatting by Alina Popescu


Xander joins his local am-dram group in order to make friends. He certainly doesn’t expect to fall for the group’s playboy star.

Graeme is confident and easygoing. He believes in fun without commitment. However, all that changes when Xander gets under his skin.

Universal Buy Link: https://books2read.com/piratesofromance

Audio Excerpt: https://soundcloud.com/nickijmarkus/pirates-of-romance-by-asta-idonea-audio-excerpt

YouTube Excerpt: https://youtu.be/7AKfp-9sU38

PROMO: The Qinali Virus

Promo

The Qinali VirusValerie J. Mikles has a new queer sci fi book out: “The Qinali Virus.”

Rage. Poverty. Disease.

They’re gone. Every last one.

The cost was great. The population has been devastated. But for the survivors, utopia has arrived.

Then the suspicious death of a young person forces Amber to question her world like she never has before. The Contentedness Council is after her, determined to protect their perfect society. Now Amber must unbury her city’s repressed past, expose the crimes that led to their utopia, and find a way to stop the Council from killing the world… again.

Join astral-projecting asexual Amber and her telepathic sister as they fight to save the human race from extermination!

Get It on Amazon


Excerpt

The Qinali Virus MemeJenise gasped. “Don’t do it.”

“Don’t call for help?” Amber asked, setting the tablet aside. “This is an astral injury. Maybe someone back home can help you.”

“No, please,” Jenise whimpered.

Amber felt her body vibrating and heard a ringing in her ears. The world became hazy and she saw her physical body collapsed on the ground. She hadn’t moved, and when she reached to the side, her hands passed through everything. This was how her book had described the astral plane.

“I did it! I’m here,” she squealed. Then she saw Jenise lying on the ground. A needle-like splinter pierced Jenise’s brain, and her aura seemed to ooze from the wound.

“Oh, this… this is bad…” Amber stammered, gathering the oozing essence back toward Jenise. Her hand went right through the glowing ooze and Jenise’s body. “How can I help you if I can’t touch you? What did the book say?”

“She’s coming for me,” Jenise murmured. Her physical form twitched, the red welts spreading as the needle dug deeper into her brain. Amber tried to clamp Jenise’s chin, but Jenise’s body passed through hers, so she grabbed the needle, and suddenly Jenise went still. She saw the needle because Jenise had described the needle. It was a manifestation of an injury; not a physical injury.

“I can manipulate a manifestation,” Amber murmured. Moving gingerly, Amber extracted the needle from her sister’s brain, and Jenise started to scream.

“Do you want me to stop?” Amber asked. Jenise kept screaming, oblivious to the question.

Gritting her teeth, Amber removed more of the needle, and her sister’s essence gushed from the wound. Amber blew gently on the oozing liquid and it seemed to dissolve into her sister’s skin. Once the needle was out, she molded her hands around her sister’s head, trying to close the wound. Her hands kept passing through Jenise’s skull, making her twitch. Amber didn’t like astral surgery, and she hoped she was helping.

“They’re coming,” Jenise murmured, her hands flailing, passing through Amber’s astral body. She felt her form vibrate and a ringing sound filled her ears.

“No. No, I’m not finished!” Amber cried, feeling an anchor pulling her back to her physical form. She curled into a fetal position, fighting to get back to the astral plane.

Jenise rolled onto her side and spooned behind Amber. “We have to run,” she rasped. “Someone’s coming.”

“Who? Is it Parey? Someone from the Council?” Amber asked. Amber heard the truck now, its wheels crushing the dirt and gravel as it came down the road from Highmere.

“I can’t tell,” Jenise rasped. “Don’t give up, Amber. Don’t go back.”

Amber sensed Jenise’s urgency, but when she saw the truck, she felt relieved. Running meant more isolation and uncertainty. What if Jenise wasn’t really better? Going back to Highmere made sense.

“Let’s go home,” Amber said. “You were scared, Jenise. We were scared. We can say… I don’t know. They’ll give us counseling and then we can go back to our lives.”

“I don’t want to go to brainwashing therapy,” Jenise said.

“Stop calling it that,” Amber explained.

“You don’t even know, do you?” Jenise said. “You don’t remember how you were before Cenn died. What “therapy” did to you.”

“It helped,” Amber insisted, looking hopefully at the truck ambling toward them. “I was a mess. I needed to be able to talk to someone without dumping it on all of you.”

“But you stopped feeling,” Jenise argued. “Not just the grief; you stopped feeling joy. You used to make twittering noises when you read books. You used to get so excited about things that Cenn had to sit you down so you wouldn’t pass out.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ll be calm,” Amber said, fighting for a reason to trust her people. “They want the tablet with Chenna’s research. That’s all this is. A misunderstanding.”

“I was almost misunderstood to death!” Jenise cried, kicking at Amber, and rolling out of reach.

“Jenise, unless you can move, we can’t outrun them,” Amber said. “I am not leaving without you. I—oh, no.”

The stress of the argument made her dizzy and she dropped to her knees. A moment later, she was standing by the road, watching the truck roll by. Her voice caught in her throat, but she didn’t need to call out. The husky man in the passenger seat saw her and hollered, and the truck screeched to a stop. She recognized him from the Council—Tobin Wauld.

“I know we’re not supposed to be here. We’re scared. Can you take us home?” she asked. The weight of fear lifted for a moment, but then Wauld hoisted himself out the window, and drew a long-barreled weapon.

“Well, well, Discontent Delouise. This was too easy,” he smirked.

Amber’s lips quivered and her legs froze. She’d never seen a weapon like that in Highmere, but she’d seen them in that zombie movie. Run, you idiot, her brain shouted. She’d muttered it at the characters in the movies often enough.

He shot Amber with an orange-tipped weapon as he stalked past. She felt the sting of the puncture and a thin stream of liquid dripping into her astral form.

“Tobin, you shot her!” his companion cried.

“We came with tranqs for a reason. We don’t have time to argue with discontents,” Wauld said.

Amber still couldn’t believe a councilperson had shot her. Pretending to faint, she turned and dropped, rolling down the embankment. The moment the truck was out of sight, she willed herself back to her physical body.

“How’d it go?” Jenise asked.

“They shot me,” Amber said. Her whole body was trembling from adrenaline and she could feel the spread of the tranquilizer dart pushing against it.

“Misunderstanding?” Jenise taunted.

“Oh, no. Very clear,” Amber said, blinking away the spots in her vision. She had never experienced violence in Highmere, and she didn’t even know her people had dart guns. The feelings of shock and betrayal hit her in waves, as did a profound sense of loss. This wasn’t a short camping trip that ended with a meek return home anymore.


Author Bio

The Qinali Virus - Valerie J MiklesValerie loves dancing, writing, astronomy, sci-fi, and grapes. She’s agender, aromantic, and asexual, and even though her labels describe many things she is not, her motto in life is “I can be everything I want, just not all at the same time.”

Although she has yet to get paid to eat grapes, she was delighted to learn that people would pay her to study black holes, and spent much of her twenties as a black hole hunter. She was rewarded with an astronomy PhD, which promptly inspired her to move to L.A. to be a screenwriter. How she ended up working on weather satellites for NOAA, we may never know.

Her passion for story-telling extends back to before she could write, and in fall 2017, she achieved a life dream and published her first book, “The Disappeared.” Valerie currently has six books published in her New Dawn series You can learn more about Valerie’s books on her website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

An asexual activist, Valerie has written and produced a series of comedic short films featuring asexual characters. You can watch her films online at: http://www.aces-sitcom.com. Her third book ‘Trade Circle’ features an asexual protagonist, and interestingly, she created this character before she even knew there was a word to describe it. She is super-excited about the release of the Qinali Virus, featuring an asexual, aromantic astronomer (and a weather satellite for good measure).

Author Website: http://www.valeriejmikles.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/vjmikles

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/valeriebean

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PROMO: Belega

Promo

Belega - Dianne HartsockDianne Hartsock has a new MM fantasy romance book out, The Karthagans Book One: “Belega.”

The Karthagans have regained their ancient powers of manipulating nature, but at the price of madness. In their lust for control they’ve destroyed their island and most of their race. They come now to Belega where one of them, Camron, seeks domination over the known world.

The Mage has come from the northern continent of Sennia to bring peace, but finding his strength no match for the coming struggle, he passes his abilities on to Natan, who only desires a simple life. Now only Natan has the ability to stop Camron, but the personal cost is more than he imagines.

It is only with the combined strength of his friends, his Karthagan lover, Kavi, and his deep desire to bring peace to the earth, that he finds the courage to overcome Camron and restore balance to the world. The power of the mind is immense.

In this world, mankind has learned to gather the energies of creation to use at their whim. But absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Publisher | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN

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Dianne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Belega meme - Dianne Hartsock“I have you.”

Natan rose into a low crouch from the scrub brush, careful not to scrape his cloak against the foliage, and searched his memory for the trick Kavi had taught him. Oh, yes. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing all worries. His expectations. Letting go. The clip of the horse’s hooves echoed in his mind and he concentrated on that, the smell of the horse, the feel of its hide, the oats on its breath. He became aware of a vague fear in the animal’s mind.

But then the tenuous connection broke without time to try again as the soldier leading the roan brought him to a stop, his gaze sweeping the path ahead, alert. Gathering his scattered wits as best he could, Natan lunged to his feet and dove for the soldier’s legs. They went down hard, Natan gasping at the whoosh of air against his cheek as the horse reared, hooves barely missing him. Knowing he was no match for the soldier physically, he scrambled to jab a knee into the man’s back, then drew his thin knife and pressed it against the pulse at his throat and felt him stiffen.

“Hold very still,” he warned. The soldier didn’t move as the keen blade inadvertently nicked his skin. Recalling Kavi’s imprisonment, Natan gritted his teeth and swung his arm back, then brought the hilt of the knife down sharply on his vulnerable skull. The man went limp with a grunt. Natan climbed to his feet, cursing under his breath as the horse disappeared up the trail. He rolled the man over so his face wouldn’t be in the dirt, making sure he could breathe without difficulty.

Frowning at the thick trees crowding them, he left his captive a moment to scout the vicinity, at last coming upon a small clearing off the trail. It took some effort to drag the unconscious soldier to the spot, and a relief to roll the heavy body down the last few feet. He retrieved leather strips from his pack and bound the man’s hands and feet to a small sapling, and examined the soldier’s head once again. Although the purplish welt had swollen, the bleeding had stopped.

Natan watched the soldier a moment, and shook his head in disgust when he didn’t waken. “Hit him too hard,” he muttered, angry with himself. He built a small fire as the air grew chilly, and sat with his back to a tree while he waited for the soldier to regain consciousness. Darkness descended on the forest and he chewed his lips in growing anxiety. Bryon had gone to Nagal to petition the Mage to help them recover Kavi. Had he reached the city yet? If so, Natan would need to be at the Lake of Glass to meet with them in a few short days. A lifetime, while Kavi remained captive.

He sharpened his knife on a whetstone to pass the time while the soldier remained unconscious. The stars came out and an ache crept into his chest as he thought of Kavi and how they used to lie awake and watch for falling stars. Natan would make them tea in a little pot over the fire, and they’d wrap in warm blankets and talk quietly while the sky wheeled overhead. Sometimes they made love, Kavi’s warm sleek body pliant as Natan searched out new ways to draw those sweet breathy moans from his lips.

And then it had all ended. Natan closed his eyes at the jab of pain in his heart. The Nagal soldiers had come to their camp and dragged Kavi away, laughing when Natan struggled, and methodically beat him senseless. That had been two weeks ago, and every attempt he’d made to find his lover had failed. The last time he’d been threatened with imprisonment himself.

He would do Kavi no good behind iron bars, he reminded himself again.

Natan opened his eyes to find the captive staring at him from where he’d slumped against the tree. Natan went over and helped him to a sitting position.

“What’s your name?” he asked with ice in his voice. The man continued to stare at him, insolent. Natan looked him over carefully. “Let me guess. You’re dressed as a Nagal soldier, though you’re obviously not one. Maybe a deserter? Maybe a Barkuit spy?” He watched the soldier’s face as he named the rival country, then leaned closer to whisper, “What of Kavi?”

“That trash?” the man asked in surprise, and yelped when Natan lunged at him, knife slipping into his hand.  “Say that again and I’ll slit your throat. Now, what

is your name?”

“Captain Syros Reed.”

Natan sat back on his heels, fury hot in his chest.

“Speak.”

“I could tell you where they mean to bury him,” Syros drawled, holding Natan’s gaze, and smiled slightly at his sharply indrawn breath. “He was alive the last time I saw him, but I heard they mean to bury him soon. If you hurry, he may still be breathing. I don’t know.”

“And you didn’t help him?” With a sudden enraged cry Natan drove his knife into the sapling inches from Syros’s face. “He’d better be alive, for your sake.”

He left his water skin for Syros, should the man succeed in freeing himself, then gave the soldier no more thought as he snatched up his pack and settled into the long run ahead, determined to be at the Lake of Glass on time.


Author Bio

Dianne HartsockDianne grew up in one of the older homes in the middle of Los Angeles, a place of hardwood floors and secret closets and back staircases. A house where ghosts lurk in the basement and the faces in the paintings watch you walk up the front stairs. Rooms where you keep the closet doors closed tight at night. It’s where her love of the mysterious and wonderful came from. Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind.

She now lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. Dianne says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee in her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Author Website: http://diannehartsock.wordpress.com/

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Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dianne-Hartsock/e/B005106SYQ/

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