Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Author Mia Heintzelman

My favorite vacation spot is definitely Barbados. We went last year and it was a port on our cruise. Of course all of the islands in the Caribbean are beautiful, but one of the crew members told us about a beach most of the locals love, called Turtle Beach. The way they described it, I thought we were literally going to see turtles in clear water, but when we got there, I was speechless. Not only were there no turtles, but the water was indeed crystal clear with white sand. The sun seemed to be vacationing there too as it danced across the sky and kissed our skin. I can’t wait to go back there. Indeed, it will the inspiration for a new series I’m working on. Romantic doesn’t even cover it.


Mixed Match

Series and Book #:
Book #2 of The All Mixed Up Series

Author: Mia Heintzelman

Genre:  Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Levi Lynn Books

Date of Publication:  11/26/19

ISBN: ISBN 9780999049341 (trade pbk.) | ISBN 9780999049358 (ebook)

Word Count:  70,482


Sophia Kent used to be a badass knife-wielding chef. Nowadays, she’s lucky if she can remember to put on a bra. Between the move to Portland and unpacking boxes, she’s glad there’s only one name on the title. Unfortunately, at the door there’s a gorgeous messenger with a document claiming she’s not the rightful owner.

Dead-set on getting his grandmother’s house back, real estate investor Everett Monroe is determined to see the thief go down, even if he has to deliver the summons himself. Only, the beautiful mess at the door is charming, sexy—and nothing like the man whose family’s been feuding with Everett’s for generations.

He doesn’t know whether she’s a pawn or a player, and she doesn’t know he’s not just a messenger, so after a few “chance” meetings, when she enlists his help to find a location for her restaurant, he agrees. After all, in thirty days there’s going to be a hearing granting him ownership and she’ll be long gone. Except, somewhere between sunset mountain hikes, brilliantly lit musical bridges, and picturesque Japanese Gardens, a dangerous attraction weaves its way between the secrets and lies. Forced to confront the truth, Everett must ask himself what good a home is without the one you love to share it with.

Buy links:
Pre-order is going up on 10/17/19


Sophia Kent dug her fingers under the sides of the box, and for a split second this move to Portland didn't feel as daunting as she made it out to be.
But then she steadied her legs, squatted for leverage, and strained to heft the box, determined to pry it off the floor...and the dang thing wouldn't budge.
"Come. On." She heaved and struggled some more. Not even an inch. She gritted her teeth, wiggled her butt to resettle, and dug her heels into the thick, cloudy gray carpet, pulling up with all her might. Still didn’t budge.
"Ugh." She groaned, finally releasing her hold. She was about two seconds from pouting and stamping her feet. Let go and let God. She breathed. In and out. Again.
But it still frosted her cookies something awful. She could do this. She needed to do this. With both hands on her hips, she kicked the box with her sneaker-clad foot, stubbing her toe in the process. "Ow!!!. Sugar-Honey-Iced-Tea." 
"Oh come on, you can do better than that. Give me a good, pissed-off ‘fuck,’ or an angry-ass ‘dammit.’"
Sophia almost jumped out of her skin at the voice, but quickly recognized it and rolled her eyes instead. "Must you be so crass all the time?"
"And say it like you mean it, too. I don't want to hear anything about h-e-double hockey sticks, either."
Sophia finally turned to see her flawless, perky cousin Julie standing behind her.
Even for as labor-intensive an occasion as moving, Julie was fierce in fluorescent pink athleisure wear with her bale of glossy curls bound by an equally neon yellow bandana. A far cry from the high school volleyball shorts and dingy black T-shirt Sophia dug out of the box designated for donations because everything else was packed.
Behind Julie stood her shiny new Italian wet dream of a fiancé, Nico, who was biting back a grin. Apparently they'd been there just long enough to witness Sophia's little tantrum.
"Peachy. Just doggone peachy." Sophia plopped down on the gigantic box of books. "If y'all love me, don't say anything. Just...shut up." She waved them off.

Author bio:

Mia Heintzelman is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a Chicago native who always has a book in her purse, loves to pair sweet and spicy tea with fluffy socks, and can’t go wrong with polka dots and pearls. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and two children.

Author website and social media links:


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Author Connor Coyne

Urbantasm Book One
The Dying CityConnor Coyne
Genre: YA, Magical Realism, New Adult, Teen Noir, Lit Fic

Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: September 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0989920230
ASIN: 0989920232

Number of pages: 450 pages
Word Count: 85,000

Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin,
Forge22 Design

Book Description:

Urbantasm is a magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan.

Thirteen-year-old John Bridge’s plans include hooking up with an eighth-grade girl and becoming one of the most popular kids at Radcliffe Junior High, but when he steals a pair of strange blue sunglasses from a homeless person, it drops him into the middle of a gang war overwhelming the once-great Rust Belt town of Akawe.

John doesn’t understand why the sunglasses are such a big deal, but everything, it seems, is on the table. Perhaps he accidentally offended the Chalks, a white supremacist gang trying to expand across the city. Maybe the feud involves his friend Selby, whose father died under mysterious circumstances. It could even have something to do with O-Sugar, a homegrown drug with the seeming ability to distort space. On the night before school began, a group of teenagers took O-Sugar and leapt to their deaths from an abandoned hospital.

John struggles to untangle these mysteries while adjusting to his new school, even as his parents confront looming unemployment and as his city fractures and burns.

 “A novel of wonder and horror.”— William Shunn, author of The Accidental Terrorist

Amazon     Barnes and Noble

Excerpt Book 1

Chapter 1
I have to become the Antichrist.
I realized this one night when I was standing on an overpass looking down through a chain-link fence onto the expressway below. Blue neon light shined off icy puddles. The gutters were flush with slush. Empty houses, ragged wrecks, hung out on tiny lots to my left and right. Beneath me, the cars that this city had built were leaving it – some of them forever. Across from me, on a rusted trestle, a freight train slowly passed, bringing in the parts for more cars.
As the train moved on through, I thought about Drake and about how God had fucked him over. How he’d fucked us all over. Then I thought about the house with Jesus graffitied on its side. Orange skin, blue eyes, green thorns. A welter of wounds. I clenched my jaw and my teeth squeaked together. Across from me, the train wheels squealed.
If I wanted to save my friends, I would have to murder God.

Chapter 2
This is mostly my story, but I’m gonna start out by telling you about what happened to Drake. Just so you know – just so you can see right off the bat – what a bastard God could be and why a lot of us had it out for him.
In the summer of 1993, Drake had just turned sixteen.
He was going to be a junior, and his horror-show-of-a-life finally seemed to be turning a corner. He’d been living with his dad and sister in the trailer park when his mom finally moved out of her little house in the Lestrade neighborhood. She’d given it to Drake’s dad. She knew damn well that he wasn’t going to pay any rent, but she didn’t care as long as he kept the kids. Now Drake would have empty houses next door instead of empty trailers. He, his sister, and his dad had filled a couple dozen Hefty sacks with all their stuff and dropped them in the trunk of their scraped-up Benedict.
One trailer over, Sapphire watched, leaning back against the bent wall, her narrow eyes shaded behind her too-big sunglasses. She was a white girl, also sixteenish, with hair so light it glowed like tallow dripping from one of my mother’s candles. Blue eyes too, quiet laughter, nervous all the time, but silently thrilled to be growing up as fast as she could.
“I ever gonna see you now?” she asked.
“See me at school,” Drake said. “Summer’s done next week.”
“Suck a dick,” she said and laughed.
“Come over to my new place tonight. Come over, what, nine? Bring DeeDee. I’ll get Jamo and TK. Drinks from my dad. We’ll bust up that hospital like we said. I got gold now, you know. Crazy gold.”
And he did. Drake wasn’t a Chalk – fuck those racist fucks – but they were a North Side gang wanting to sell some coke and E out on the East Side, and Drake was their man. Okay, their middleman. EZ set the whole thing up. Drake hated the Chalks but he liked the money and he also liked EZ. How could you not like EZ, talking the way he did? Dude had magnetism.
Even before Drake had unpacked all his shit at the new place, even before the sun had dipped behind the swampy trees shadowing the creek, EZ pulled up in his moon blue Starr Slipstream. A sweet make and model for a blue-collar beater. Rust patches shaped like Martian mountains silhouetted against a dusty sky. EZ called Drake over to the window.
“You straight over here, D?” EZ said. “This all new to you?”
“Naw,” said Drake. “I got all the fiends back on Ash and I’ll get some here too. See my moms lived here years. Lestrade Hood. I know it. Every street. Every liquor store. Every squat the kids go to fuck.”
“What about you?” EZ asked. “You gettin’ some, D?”
“Not now, you know,” Drake said.
“But you got plans on that.”
“I don’t...”
“You better stitch it up then. If boys don’t fuck they die.” EZ grinned without parting his pink lips. Crows feet in the cracks of his mellow yellow eyes. He was white-ish, but he had some black in him, too. It always struck Drake as funny when black kids joined up with the Chalks.
Now EZ leaned out of the car, looking forward, turning to look back, taking in the whole street with its tidy ranches and its burnt-out wrecks. “Le Strayed,” he said, the tip of his tongue probing his teeth like he was rolling a Werther’s.
How old is he anyway? Drake wondered. Older than Drake. Younger than Drake’s dad. It was hard to tell.
            “You know,” EZ said. “Jesus was a fool to crawl up on that cross. God made the devil. Devil is God’s tool. Hammer in his hand. And the devil offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the Earth, and don’t you think that was part of Yahweh’s plan too? What you think woulda happened if Jesus had just said ‘yes?’  I bet we wouldn’t be slumming in Akawe.”
Akawe is the name of this city.
A poor city. A beat-up city. A car-making city an hour’s drive from Detroit, but then the cars it made left, along with the money, along with the people. Akawe.
“I don’t know,” said Drake. “I ain’t religious.”
EZ laughed. “No, you ain’t,” he said. “Here. I got something new for you to test for me. Make some night special. Full of secrets.”
He beckoned.  Drake leaned in through the open window. In EZ’s palm, a sandwich bag with five white pills.
“What’s that?” asked Drake.
“A new thing,” EZ said. “Chalks call it O-Sugar. Kinda like E. Kinda not. Try it out. Give it some time. Don’t go to sleep. Gonna see the world through God’s eyes. Feel like Jesus would if he’d said yes to his good friend the devil.”
After EZ signed off, Drake helped his dad and his sister unpack until the sun went down and his friends came over. They all sat on the front porch, passed a 40, smoked up, and put the pills of O-Sugar on their tongues and swallowed. They talked about music and cars and love and sex.
About big old TK who had built a Frankenstein sedan from the soldered guts of four different cars.
About DeeDee, sad-in-her-heart that this boy Shawn would never see a woman in her like she saw a man in him. “He’s on varsity, you know,” she said.
Then, there was skinny Jamo with his horn-rimmed glasses. He kept farting. He said he liked the kids’ urinals best because that way his dick didn’t brush the puck.
Drake didn’t talk much, though. He kept looking at Sapphire – her eyes, her face, her perfect nose – and he felt her laughter run his spine like blue notes down a keyboard. She was a song he hoped he might play some day, but not in a crude way. He hoped he was a conversation she might have.
The kids’ hearts started to glow in their chests with a slow, soft burn. That was the beer talking. They walked down the driveway to DeeDee’s Aubrey.
They left Lestrade and crossed the expressway into Anderson Park – brick houses, neat lawns, where the mayor and the college presidents lived – but even these exalted ones couldn’t keep St. Christopher’s Hospital open in crumbling Akawe. The hospital towered in the midst of the neighborhood, full of empty-dark windows and stern staring statues.
DeeDee parked on a side street of prim Cape Cods and the kids walked the last half block to the hospital complex. Above them, the moon waxed, and the whole sky – the everything – seemed to unfurl and offer itself to Drake, limpid and tender. Is that the O-Sugar? Or just the weed? Drake swelled into the wide space of that raw and thrilling moment.
TK led them across the cracked parking lot to the loading dock.
They hauled up the service gate, slipped inside, and descended into the fluorescent-lit basement. There were seven buildings in St. Christopher’s, but underground tunnels connected them all. After hitting a few dead-ends, the kids found their way to the central building. The six-story main building with a floor plan shaped like a giant cross. As they climbed, floor by floor, moment by moment, the shadows around them expanded with opportunities, with regrets redressed, and the future converging upon their pasts. Infinities of little universes hid in the dark corners of that empty space, clear of matter but clouded with tension, ready to emerge.
By the time they reached the roof, they all felt dizzy and disoriented. Before, their yearning spirits had stretched into each new second, each new room. But now that the potential for movement threatened actual motion – now that acceleration accelerated – they put their hands in their pockets and tried to slow down. The speed of everything was getting weird on them.
“Babies, I gotta sit down!” said Jamo.
They all sat.
“I feel like, like sad and sore,” said Sapphire and she plucked at her hair.
“Hold my hand, Saph,” said DeeDee, and they all held hands.
Far off, the sound of a train rang out and, at that moment, the city lights opened wide like eyes, and the stars glowed and exploded, and heat spilled like syrup from above. Dust and clouds, spinning and shining with lightning and friction. Planetoids and asteroids whirling  with volcanoes down jets of solar steam. As the train whistle sang, its sound was compressed, compacted, tonally shifted upwards, higher, with panic. As the pitch got higher and higher, Drake felt better and better, and it terrified him. He climbed on top of himself – palms pushing down on his head – to hold his soaring heart in place, but the shadows everywhere slid up  convex hypotenuses from the streets below. They weighed down invisible tightropes that connected to the tallest buildings Downtown. Everything kept turning bluer and bluer. Turning to blue and purple.
The shadows swung their arms. They were the remnants of that abandoned place, humanoid, with blue coins replacing their eyes. They had flown away when their owners checked out and went home or died at the hospital. Now, they returned, suctioned in, pulled back toward the points of departure.
But as the shadows converged and became more humanlike, Drake’s friends had been reduced to matter and residuals. TK and DeeDee and Jamo and Sapphire had all lost their eyes and their ability to speak. Their faces had become smooth planes of flesh and, finally, pure fields of electricity. Small blobs, data balls, started to grow and divide. Oxygen bloomed. The kids floated – impossible! – but happening, and as they did the lights got brighter and brighter, heightened and compressed, flattened and overheated.
“Sapphire...” Drake tried to say, and he leaned toward her, straining to see her features again. He wondered what had happened to him and his friends. What was happening around them. On every side. He imagined their height, sixty feet up. The death it represented.
Then, as if in response, space itself pressed in and Drake felt himself stretched out over the edge of the building. He fell. He was falling. Yellow-blue parking lot lines dropped away behind him and approached. They got small. The last thing he saw before he hit were black streaks of grypanian spirals, dotting away and multiplying.
The sky was a dome, but the parking lot was deep.

Urbantasm Book Two
The Empty Room
Connor Coyne

Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: September 2019      


Number of pages:
Word Count: 175,000      
Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin, Forge22 Design

Book Description:  

Urbantasm: The Empty Room is the second book in the magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan.

John Bridge is only two months into junior high and his previously boring life has already been turned upside-down. His best friend has gone missing, his father has been laid-off from the factory, and John keeps looking over his shoulder for a mysterious adversary: a man with a knife and some perfect blue sunglasses.

As if all this wasn’t bad enough, John must now confront his complicated feelings for a classmate who has helped him out of one scrape after another, although he knows little about who she is and what she wants. What does it mean to want somebody? How can you want them if you don’t understand them? Does anybody understand anyone, ever? These are hard questions made harder in the struggling city of Akawe, where the factories are closing, the schools are closing, the schools are crumbling, and even the streetlights can’t be kept on all night.

John and his friends are only thirteen, but they are fighting for their lives and futures. Will they save Akawe, will they escape, or are they doomed? They might find their answers in an empty room… in a city with ten thousand abandoned houses, there will be plenty to choose from.

Excerpt Book 2

In the perfect past, in the flushest years at Ellis Island, as overladen ships waked the gray waves and passed into New York Harbor, small groups of Greeks clustered at the prows  and pointed at the broad banks of twinkling lights in the distance.
“Είναι ότι η New York?” they'd ask a deckhand or
whoever happened to be standing nearby. “Ya,” he'd reply. “That's Coney Island.”
“Coney Island,” the emigrants repeated in awe, leaning out over the churning ocean to get a better look at their new home. It was sparkling bright, shimmering, these ethereal, auroral sparks in the morning twilight, murmured invitations from the Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, to taste the delights of  the Boardwalk, of Luna Park, Steeplechase, Dreamland, and rapture on off of the Parachute Drop. The lights preceded the long queues, the dirty work, the discrimination against these Orthodox Christians with their swinging censers and their woolly bearded priests. In the hard years to come, the emigrants always held that first vision of Coney Island in their memories, because it was their first, unsullied glimpse of the Americas, and it had seemed to confirm the promise of a better life here. That's why, days, or weeks, or years later, having saved up scraps from their factory jobs, or having snuck small fortunes overseas, sewn into their threadbare jackets,  when they opened hot dog stands in the industrial cities of Southeast Michigan, they called them “Coney Islands.”
That's the story I was told growing up. Like so many of our New World origin stories, it's pretty much bullshit. The immigrants called their wieners “coney islands” because they bought them at Coney Island, and the local Chamber of Commerce banned the words “hot dog” because they figured the stupid immigrants might think their wieners were made from actual dogs.
But when the supposedly stupid immigrants arrived in Michigan and started selling their own coney islands in the nineteen teens, they decided to improve their product. Thus began a long process of prayer and experimentation, roots plucked from tiny backyard gardens, cattle slaughtered at the altar, with providential navigation toward the  apotheosis  of the hot dog.
The core of this creation was the wiener itself, and from 1914 these were produced under arcane secrecy by the Richard Goerlich Bavarian Encased Meats Company, later known simply as “Goerlich's.” Perhaps as a nod to the melting pot that threw the German Lutherans in with the Balkanites, a Goerlich was made out of many animals. A puree of pork and beef with secret spices all pressed together in a lambskin casing, tied off and smoked over a hardwood grill. The pork content meant  that these Viennas could be grilled for longer than other  wieners without burning and shrinking. The spices were sweet and sour: traces of mustard, sugar, vinegar, and salt. When you bit into a Goerlich, you felt the skin snap before your  teeth  sank into its soft inner flesh.
A Goerlich alone, however, was not enough to make the superior coney.  To turn a Goerlich into a coney, you had to   top it with coney sauce, mustard, and onions, on a fresh bun,  on a hot plate with a hot cup of coffee on the side. To do it  right, everything must be fresh. Even the mustard, the simplest ingredient, must taste as sharp as a paring knife and shine as bright as the sun. The Balkanites didn't just chop their onions into large, trapezoidal chunks. Onions were precision-cubed by calloused hands at half the speed of sound before being swept into oak barrels and sealed and chilled and called into use. Akawe Ashkenazi bakeries supplied the buns, which the Balkanites steamed before setting them onto waxed paper gracing elliptical china plates. The thick plates kept your food from burning your fingers. The thick cups kept your coffee from cooling off.
I haven't described the sauce. I've saved the best for last. Finely ground beef heart and beef kidney, mixed with beef suet and more ground up Goerlich's, browned minced onions, and sanguined spices. Which spices? Cumin and chili powder and something else. Something magical. Nobody knows what but the coney chefs, and if they told then they would not be gods.
The truth is, they may not have realized at first the specialness of what they had created. These Greeks, these Macedonians, these Albanians, these Rumanians had arrived in factory burgs to take up jobs in the factories and to serve the factory workers. The immigrants hemmed trousers, cobbled clogs, thatched nobs. They sold their coneys on the  side,  to earn a little extra, but soon they noticed that  the  coneys brought in more ducats than their other trades.
This was filling food; as heavy as it was delicious. The X Automobilians, whether sweating in the foundries, grinding through midnight shifts at the metal center, or straining over dies and tools in bright light for hours, could fill up in five minutes with a coney and coffee. The perfect food for an assembly line town, as demonstrated by the ordering  shorthand that sprang into life like a new language: “One up” meant a coney with everything; a milestone of verbal economy and the inverse relationship of calories to syllables. So coney stands became Coney Island Restaurants. They  bloomed fruitful and fecund, increased in number. Multiplied across the earth and increased upon it.
By the mid-twenties some three-dozen Coney Islands in Akawe served up tens of thousands of coneys a day built by hundreds of restaurant employees. Balkan assembly line workers bent over their stations for hours: one man grilled the Goerlich's, another steered it to its bun and plate, where the next station assembled the dressing, nothing written down, everything achieved with hands and voice, as demanding of speed and rigor as riveting.
I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that there were so many Coney Islands that they were served over the river; two restaurants opened on the midst of the East Street Bridge and stayed there for decades. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the Coney Islands were open 24-7-365. Once, during a flood, a Coney had to hire a security guard to watch the door because the owners had lost the keys years earlier.
The Coney Islands thrived along the factory zones. They pulsed along the Akawe's main arteries. They anchored each neighborhood and kept their street corners noisy  all  night long, from the wail of the evening whistle to the chiming of the church bells.
When the factories started to wither, the Coney Islands did too.

They held out longer than the factory jobs but, one by one, the great restaurants closed their doors. Midnight Oil Coney Island, Akawe Old Fashioned Coney Island, Delicious Coneys, Joe's Original Coney Island, and most of the others dried up through the 80s. By 1993, there were less than a dozen left.

About the Author:

Connor Coyne is a writer living and working in Flint, Michigan.        

His first novel, Hungry Rats, has been hailed by Heartland prize-winner Jeffery Renard Allen as “an emotional and aesthetic tour de force.”

His second novel, Shattering Glass, has been praised by Gordon Young, author of Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City as “a hypnotic tale that is at once universal and otherworldly.”

Connor’s novel Urbantasm, Book One: The Dying City is winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2019 Young New Adult Award.  Hugo- and Nebula-nominee William Shunn has praised Urbantasm as “a novel of wonder and horror.”

Connor’s essay “Bathtime” was included in the Picador anthology Voices from the Rust Belt. His work has been published in Vox.comBelt MagazineSanta Clara Review, and elsewhere.

Connor is on the planning committee for the Flint Festival of Writers and in 2013 he represented Flint’s 7th Ward as its artist-in-residence for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Our Town grant. In 2007, he earned his Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the New School.

Connor lives in Flint’s College Cultural Neighborhood (aka the East Village), less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Author Veronica Gventsadze

The Harvest of Her Life’s Summer

Veronica Gventsadze

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Wild Thorn Publishing

Date of Publication: August 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948223-08-9

Number of pages: 444
Word Count: 123000

Cover Artist: Glendon Haddix (Streetlight Graphics)

Tagline: “A bittersweet tale from Russia, with love.”         

Book Description:

Alexandra Baumann, a Russian immigrant in Canada, learns a painful secret her mother has kept for thirty years. Shortly before the family emigrated from the Soviet Union, Alexandra's father generated groundbreaking research that should have secured him fame and fortune but was appropriated by his boss. Alexandra’s single-minded drive to write Papa’s story threatens her prospects of romance and her relationship with Grace, her oldest friend. Now, Alexandra must bring down her guard if she wants happiness and the truth about what brought her family to the New World.

Amazon     BN     Kobo      Apple

Alexandra put on a denim jacket and headed for the little mall with a sign for sushi. She placed her order for sashimi, miso soup, and a dragon roll, and sat listening to lulling music and the burbling of water in a tank that housed large decorative carps. Back at home she decided she was too hungry to assemble the dining table. She arranged her lunch on the countertop and pulled up a barstool, sitting sidesaddle like a lady on horseback. Look, Mama. See how gracefully I’m perched on this stool. And a fat lot of good it’s doing me. You really think men care for these things?
            After lunch she worked as fast as she could, populating the condo with her trinkets, her hexes against desolation.
            Alexandra heard beeping and opened her eyes to a strange room that contained nothing but a bed. She was lying on it, but instead of bedding there was a sleeping bag in which she was cocooned. Her mind shuffled the information with puzzled haste and produced the answer. This was her own bedroom. She’d tired herself out and had taken a nap, and now she’d woken up for the first time in her new home. That was fine, she told herself. She’d bought the place, and it was hers to fall asleep in.
            Alexandra realized what had woken her up: the salvo of optimistic little beeps proclaiming the end of the drying cycle. She’d washed a load of laundry and had put it in the dryer before taking her nap. The idea was to make sure the appliances were working properly first thing after moving in. She got up and went to unload the dryer before the clothes cooled into a crumpled heap. She folded them on the bathroom counter, which was still empty except for a toothbrush, mug, and a vial of liquid foundation. The mug was from the Vancouver Aquarium, with a green tree frog perched on the handle, a tribute to her love of frogs and toads. It was a gift from a friend in Thunder Bay, given long before she suspected she would see Vancouver one day. At the time, her mental image of Vancouver Island was a green lawn the size of a golf course, an invigorating swim’s distance from the mainland. She didn’t realize until much later that the island was the size of one or two European countries, reachable only by passage on a ferry or by air travel.
            The bottle of Christian Dior liquid foundation wasn’t cheap, but was well worth the price. She’d purchased her first vial back in Toronto and had wondered where she’d be when it ran out. It lasted two years and took her to the West Coast and to her first job out of pharmacy college. This was her second vial, now half-finished. She used it much more often now that she needed to look professional. She had long hair the color of ripe wheat, gray eyes behind glasses that were supposed to be trendy but made her look like a schoolgirl, and the wide potato nose of her peasant ancestors. She liked her nose for defying Mama’s aristocratic pretensions.
Stretching, she looked around at her new bathroom. Such a waste. The claw-foot tub was clearly the focal point of the room, but Alexandra had never liked taking baths, greatly preferring showers. Taking a bath was just soaking in bits of your own dead skin. Disgusting. It seemed inappropriate to maintain such intimate contact with what used to be you. But people did it all the time and thought nothing of it, glamorous people like movie stars, so maybe Alexandra could learn, too.
 It occurred to Alexandra that she was now the same age as her mother was when they first came to Canada. Mama was then a new immigrant with a gainfully employed husband, a ten-year-old daughter who would grow up in this new land, and a degree in Russian history that gave her precious few prospects for a job. By now they’d all acquired Canadian citizenship, but Mama’s soul would remain Russian. Alexandra was single, with no boyfriend let alone a husband, no great urge to get married at all, but with a pragmatic degree in a pragmatic profession that assured her a good living. Her life was streamlined to the point of minimalism, and—she wanted to believe—free from her ancestors’ hang ups that brought happiness to no one.
            She finished folding the laundry as the sun came out and promised quiet evening light. The North Vancouver condo had a miniature yard that had looked like a park in the realtor’s photos. Alexandra knew well that such photos conjure up distance and depth, and didn’t begrudge the yard its actual petiteness. With this acquisition she was now a complete adult, with a mortgage to prove it. She unfolded a deck chair under the boughs of a cedar, leaving the screen door open for Tassy. Maybe Mama was right, and the cat really would appreciate a chance to walk about. But when Tassy in her obligate curiosity crossed the threshold, she was frightened by the sky, by the absence of a ceiling to this new room she’d entered, and she bolted back inside. It’s too late for her, Alexandra thought with relief and a tinge of guilt. The yard didn’t belong to Alexandra, it was strata lot, but that made little difference. The air, redolent with the sweet perfume of the cedars, was hers to enjoy, and the brilliance of young grass in late May was the same in this little yard as on the lawns of overpriced mansions in West Vancouver.  

About the Author:

Veronica Gventsadze worked as a conference interpreter and a university professor of philosophy before training for her current profession of veterinarian. Her fiction is inspired by lessons learned from nature as well as a childhood of shuttling between Soviet Russia and the free world.

Author Jeri Westerson

The Darkest Gateway
Booke of the Hidden
Book Four
Jeri Westerson

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publisher: JABberwocky Literary

Date of Publication: October 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-625674-25-8
ASIN: 978-1-625674-23-4

Number of pages: 301
Word Count: 90,181

Cover Artist: Mayhem Cover Creations

Tagline: “Whoever said country life was dull didn’t know Moody Bog.”

Book Description:      

With the arrival of Samhain, the supernatural Booke of the Hidden is set to release a barrage of deadly creatures onto the hapless village of Moody Bog, Maine.

Tea proprietor Kylie Strange knows the showdown is coming and wants to end the Booke for good. But the only way to accomplish this is a journey to the Netherworld and get the help of the only being powerful enough to destroy the Booke: Satan himself. And, though the brooding and elusive demon Erasmus Dark has captured Kylie’s heart against her better judgment, she ignores his repeated warnings that the mission guarantees her doom.

Series Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/vI5d1tFsBYM


I moved to the very edge of the road and waited.
The sound grew louder. It couldn’t be anything except hoofbeats. They clopped, not in a gallop but in a leisurely canter. And soon, there was the Dullahan coming around the curve. His head looked even greener and slimier under his arm than it had before, if that were possible.
His weirdly roving eyes spotted me easily. He kicked his red-eyed horse’s sides and hurried toward us. All the while, he swung that spine whip. With each revolution around his headless neck, the weapon grew longer and longer.
I kept the spear close to my side. I didn’t want that whip to catch it the way it had gotten the crossbow the last time.
He was almost upon me when he shrieked, “Kylie Strange!”
“That doesn’t work on me, you idiot!” I yelled.
The face frowned under his arm. It cast its googly eyes toward Erasmus and opened his mouth to yell his name.
“He’s a demon, remember? We’ve been through this before. Boy, you sure have a short memory. Must be because your brain is decaying faster than the rest of you. Looks like a bad case of melting Roquefort you got there.”
His dead face either grimaced or it really was melting. “Then I don’t need to say your name,” he said in a high screechy voice.
He spun the whip. Before I could get out of the way, it came at me and wrapped around my body, trapping my arms at my sides. I barely got out a yell before I was yanked off my feet.
The horse started galloping and I was flung out behind it almost parallel to the road. I couldn’t bring the spear up. I was whipping around in the air and getting a little seasick, but it was better than being dragged behind on the asphalt. There wouldn’t have been much left of me after that.
The bones of the spine whip were digging sharply into my skin. I tried wriggling free. If Headless decided to fling me off a cliff, there wasn’t much I could do about it. I knew Erasmus must be around somewhere, but this was up to me to figure out…if I could.
The Dullahan galloped around a sharp curve and I was thrown and dragged through the limbs of pine trees shouldering the road.
“Dammit!” I yelled, spitting out pine needles. “I am so going to kill you!”
He lifted his head up with his other arm. It swiveled and glared at me. “Not if I kill you first, Mistress Strange.”
“No need to be so formal,” I grunted, struggling. I slammed into some holly bushes and OW!

The face cackled and turned away, tucked back under his arm again. Then I looked up and saw what he was cackling about. The next curve of the road didn’t have any nice prickly holly bushes or spikey pine boughs. It was just granite all the way up the rock face. “Shit!”

About the Author:

Los Angeles native JERI WESTERSON is the author of twelve Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, a series nominated for thirteen national awards from the “Agatha” to the “Shamus”. Her fifth novel BLOOD LANCE was named one of the Ten Hot Crime Novels for Colder Days by Kirkus Reviews, and her sixth, SHADOW OF THE ALCHEMIST, was named Best of 2013 by Suspense Magazine. For BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, her urban fantasy series, Publishers Weekly said, “Readers sad about the ending of Charlaine Harris’s MIDNIGHT, TEXAS trilogy will find some consolation in Moody Bog.” The fourth and final in the series, THE DARKEST GATEWAY, releases October 2, 2019. Jeri also writes the humorous SKYLER FOXE LGBT MYSTERIES under the pen name Haley Walsh. Jeri’s short stories were included in several mystery anthologies, including Shaken: Stories for Japan (for the 2011 Earthquake Relief Fund). Jeri was also featured on two local NPR shows, “My Awesome Empire” and KVCR-Arts. She has served two terms as president of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, twice president of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and as vice president and California Crime Writers Conference co-chair for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. See more about Jeri at JeriWesterson.com, BOOKEoftheHIDDEN.com, and SkylerFoxeMysteries.wixsite.com/novels.

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