Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Authors Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds and Janet Schrader-Post

The Young Adult Writer’s Journey
Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds and Janet Schrader-Post

Genre: Nonfiction Reference

Publisher: Tell-Tale Publishing Group

Date of Publication: November 23, 3018

ISBN:  978-1-944056-98-8

Number of pages: 232
Word Count: 60,000

Tagline: An Encyclopedia for YA Writers

Book Description:

Finally, an all-inclusive book on young adult fiction must-do, don’t do and how-to. If you want to write a young adult novel, you need to read this book first. Coauthored by an award-winning YA author and an acquisitions editor, both experts on kids and what they like to read, this encyclopedia contains all you need to start or improve a career as a YA fiction author.

From an examination of the market, genre and its sub-genres, to mechanics and the business, everything is at your fingertips. This amazing writer’s resource is written in a relaxed and interesting style, with plenty of contemporary references and examples for clear understanding and easier application.



"The Young Adult Writer's Journey is a 'Must Have' at your fingertip reference for anyone who writes (or wants to write) for or about kids. Engaging text with topical and thought-provoking insights leading from idea to submission . . . and beyond to populate a story with believable characters young readers can relate to."—Nancy Gideon, Award-Winning author of the By Moonlight series

“The trouble with “how to” books on creativity is that they usurp creativity. Not so with this very insightful guide for YA writing. If it doesn’t become a standard or even a classic among reference books, it will be an oversight. Janet Schrader-Post and Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds have all the marinated smarts and credentialed experience to pull this off, and they do! No dictated wisdom from on high here, no grafted creativity, THE YOUNG ADULT WRITER’S JOURNEY is accessible, motivational and a clear map that leaves plenty of room to discover for anyone wanting to explore their creative side.”-Thomas Sullivan, Pulitzer-nominated author of THE PHASES OF HARRY MOON


When you talk about world-building, many writers think you’re talking about fantasy lands like Narnia, Westeros, Panam or Middle Earth. For most teens, school is their world. What kind of home life they have is their world and these worlds need to be just as complicated as Narnia. Well-developed teen worlds like Hogwarts, North Shore High School, home of the Mean Girls, Rydell High School of Grease, and Panem of Hunger Games are so well-developed they seem real, and you remember them as though they were a place you visited.

To create a real world for teens in our times, you really need to know them: what they do every day, what they like, what motivates them, the environment in high schools and many other details. Home life for kids is very different from twenty or even ten years ago. It takes two incomes now to support a growing family or to succeed, so both parents most likely work. This leaves kids as young as nine or ten at home alone for long periods of time (or even younger, unfortunately). The enemy of these parents is the school holiday, and it seem like there’s more than ever. These parents have no idea what to do with their children. Many can’t afford childcare, so the kids are home alone. It’s a thing you must think about when writing for them.

Children come from all levels of society. Poor kids will view the world through different eyes than kids who have well-off parents. Kids living with a single parent might have a different view of the world as well as different social structures. The kids with single parents or working parents might have to go hungry on weekends, on school holidays and especially during the summer. It’s hard to think about, but true. There are teenagers out there who eat breakfast and lunch at school and their families provide dinner. Sometimes all they get is their school meals some days. When school is out, they scavenge and fend for themselves or they don’t eat.

About the Authors:

Elizabeth Fortin-Hinds knows kids well. She spent decades teaching teens and adults to write and improve their reading skills. As a literacy expert and certified coach, she helped both teachers from elementary to secondary and preservice graduate students learn to improve reading and writing instruction. She has taught at both the secondary and graduate level, everything from rhetoric, essays, and thesis statements, to poetry, short stories, and how to write a novel. She has learned to use both sides of her brain simultaneously, but enjoys the creative side the most, learning to play piano, draw and paint, and find time for her own writing since retiring from her “day” jobs. 

A “true believer” in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, mythic structures, she uses that lens when considering manuscripts for Tell-Tale Publishing Group, a company she founded with some friends from her critique group a decade ago.

Daughter of a Colonel, Janet lived the military life until she got out of high school. She lived in Hawaii and worked as a polo groom for fifteen years, then moved to Florida where she became a reporter. For ten years she covered kids in high school and middle school. Kids as athletes, kids doing amazing things no matter how hard their circumstances. It impressed her, and it awed her. “How wonderful teens are. They have spirit and courage in the face of the roughest time of their lives. High school is a war zone. Between dodging bullies, school work and after school activities, teens nowadays have a lot on their plate. I wrote stories about them and I photographed them. My goal was to see every kid in their local newspaper before they graduated.”

Janet love kids and horses, and she paints and writes. Now she lives in the swampland of Florida with too many dogs and her fifteen-year-old granddaughter. She started to write young adult fiction with the help of her son, Gabe Thompson, who teaches middle school. Together they have written a number of award-winning YA novels in both science fiction and fantasy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 10, 2018

Author Sam Poling

The Oldenrai Archives
Book Two
Sam Poling

Genre: Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Date of Publication: 10/31/18

ISBN: 9780463828861

Number of pages: 180
Word Count: ~74,500

Cover Artist: Cora Graphics

Tagline: Integrate your shadow

Book Description:

After imposing a controversial quarantine, Adelstadt Mayoress Mirabel Fairfax finds herself in the crosshairs with vengeful highwaymen. When they target her family and the vital shipments her village desperately needs, she turns to witchcraft to restore order herself. But something is wrong: her magic becomes unreliable, and monstrous images torment her mind's eye.

When gruesome murders terrorize Adelstadt, she suspects the highwaymen have turned to the occult, allying with a demonic entity. A Goetia. The hallucinations become all-too-real, and Mirabel must rely on her cunning, wrath, and what few friends she has left if she hopes to rescue her valley, her beloved, and her mind.

Felix Fairfax does the best he can as the husband of a controversial mayoress witch, but his life is once again turned into a fight for survival when he’s kidnapped by the highwaymen. They force him to help investigate his wife’s hidden lair, where they become trapped with creatures of unspeakable horror. Whatever Mirabel had locked away hunts indiscriminately—it hunts him—and if it gets out, plagues and highwaymen won’t be Adelstadt’s problems any longer.

Pre-Order Sale Only .99 Until October 31 

Amazon     Amazon UK     Smashwords     Apple     Kobo     BN

Mirabel’s boots clicked down a stone, spiral stairway, blowing past the half-melted candles lining the steps. The candles provided the only light, at times leaving her to fumble for footing on the disrepair of the steps. The descent into darkness went on longer than she’d ever recalled experiencing before. What a time for metaphysical nonsense. An echo of raspy, hollow screams chased her, reverberating within the stairwell, challenging her to keep up speed.
She stumbled off the final steps, at last on the ground floor, and clawed her wild, deep red hair from her face. Archaic, religious candle racks illuminated the chamber. Nothing had changed down here. At least, not yet.
She sped past rows of dilapidated tables and pews, reached a laboratory-style workbench, and threw her arms against a stack of journals, scattering the research. Upon snaring a specific handful of pages, she sprinted for the tower entrance.
A bony tusk punched through a nearby wall, knocking candles from their altar. They struck silver offering plates on the floor, crashing like cymbals. Mirabel leaped back, one hand clutching her research against her body, the other gripping the handle of her rapier.
Black, viscous slime poured from the hole around the horn, crept over the altar, and dripped onto the floor. Small, misshapen hands sprouted from the goop like blooming black-fingered flowers, grasping at the stone tiles. A reek like sweet, rotting fruit flooded the air.
She closed her gaping mouth, turned away, and continued running down the hall. Her burned-orange cape fluttered and whipped, a nuisance, rescinding its value.
The entire tower quaked, followed by more disembodied shrieking. A spiny, gray tentacle as thick as a branch smashed through the wall ahead in a deafening boom, lashing and twisting like an eel out of water. She drew her rapier and severed the tip with the sharpened, distal edge of her weapon. The piece of otherworldly flesh fell away, but several more tentacles punched through imperfections in the surrounding walls, blocking her path. Each unique arm contorted at varied rates, some more aggressive than others.
Still holding her sword, she extended her arm and channeled magic through it with a rush of heat. Upon releasing her focus, the heat fled her body and flames burst in front of her, engulfing the tentacles and transforming them into crackling ash.
Vertigo crashed over her in waves as penalty for her sudden, great expenditure of soul energy. With inhuman moans drifting on the air, she shook off her fatigue and proceeded to the iron double doors ahead, ramming her shoulder against them. They opened a crack, blasting her face with freezing air from outside.
She pushed against the door, and it ground open, scraping through a layer of fresh snow. She slipped her thin frame through, dropped her research and rapier, and shoved the door closed.
She spun and straightened her posture. “Under no circumstances is anyone to approach the tower.”
Two guardsmen clad in vermillion red, double-breasted uniforms stood at the base of the tower steps, shoulders dusted with snow. They possessed several weapons: muskets with bayonets, sabers, and crossbow pistols. All useless.
“Aye,” said the leading guard. “We thought we heard some rumbling from our post. Another quake?”
She knelt, sheathing her rapier and collecting her papers. And then she saw the ooze. Not much, but strands of it slithered under the door. She backed away and marched down the steps.
“Excuse me, Mayoress?”
She stopped between the guards and faced the shift lead. “Evacuate. It’s a simple concept. Do it now.”
“Evacuate what? Ironsnow?”
“Yes, the entire hamlet. Get everyone to Adelstadt at once.” She looked past him at dozens of wood-framed homes at the base of the tower’s hill, billowing smoke from their chimneys. “No one goes near the tower. Get everyone out now.”
The other guard spoke. “But why? Minor quakes happen all the time. My family lives here.”
The three marched down the hill. Mirabel said nothing.
“Miasma. I’ve discovered the tower is the source of plague-infested miasma. Likely the cause of other outbreaks around Adelstadt. Deadly strains. None can reside here any longer. I’m sorry.”
“Tordin’s mercy,” said the guard. “I’ll have my family pack right away.”
“Nay. Full evacuation. Immediately. Have the citizens take only what they can carry on their way out.”
“It’s that urgent?”
“I am the Mayoress and a syndicate-certified disease specialist. You think I give this order lightly?”
“Of course not, Mayoress Fairfax,” said the lead guard. “We’ll get everyone out within the hour.”
“Faster if you are able. Much faster.”

About the Author:

Sam Poling has been writing fantasy and science fiction for the thrill of it his entire life, from short stories to screenplays. His love for each of the subgenres led to dedication to writing genre-skirting fiction with all the elements that make up the human condition. He holds a strong enthusiasm for medical studies and currently works as a medical assistant in a large clinic while taking classing for nursing. He also serves on a health and safety committee, including disaster preparedness and infection control. His interest in epidemiology and medical science tends to spill over into his writing endeavors.

Find Sam Online:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Aletta Thorne

The Ghost of Her Ex
Aletta Thorne

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Romance, Ghost Stories

Publisher: Evernight Publishing

Date of Publication: October 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-77339-829-7

Number of pages: 193
Word Count: 56,000

Cover Artist: Jay Aheer

Tagline:  What happens when the ghost of your ex just can’t leave you alone?

Book Description:

Just because she’s sixty-three, cynical, and a church musician, Emily Rauch is hardly done with life—or love. 

Now that she’s traded in her old barn of a place for a tiny house in the hills, Emily’s ready for a new start. 

Throw in one enormous pipe organ, two ghosts, a pot dealer named Santa Claus, the reappearance of Emily’s bad-boy college squeeze, and a blizzard...what could possibly go wrong?


“…You are a woman of … appetites, Em. You like to eat and drink and…”
“…and fuck.” Emily shocked herself by saying that. Dropping an f-bomb when you were just randomly turning the air blue was one thing. But this was no fuckity-fuck-fuck. This meant actually doing the deed…
But she hadn’t shocked Al. “Indeed. And fuck.” He nodded, his lips tight. “I left you in the lurch.”
Emily sighed. “Yup. Yup. Guess you did. But we talked that stuff to death two decades ago. Shit, Al! It’s just … just … I don’t know what it is. Alexa, play Widor organ music.”
“I don’t know any songs by Widor,” said Alexa.
“Alexa, argh!” Emily made neck-choking gestures toward the black cylinder on her counter.
“Bee-boop,” said Alexa. Her illuminated blue ring danced and turned itself off.
“I know our lovely and talented daughter meant well with that thing,” said Al. “But The Echo sucks at classical music unless you get lucky. Works better just to ask for radio stations.”
“You’re too good at that. Do you haunt many Echo owners?”
“Just Gordon.” Al laughed ruefully. “That young fella of his bought an Alexa for him. Alexa, play WQXR.”
“Playing WQXR.” Alexa provided them with the middle of Respighi’s “Ancient Airs and Dances.”
“Not bad,” said Emily. “No static. It barely comes in up here on the FM. And they’re a public station now, so no more pre-need funeral ads, I guess. God, funerals!”
“Yeah. That. I gather you had a spectacularly bad day…”
“Do you get special ghost email about that or something? Ghost Facebook?”
Al’s laugh, again, was rueful. “Hard to explain. It doesn’t work like that. I never really thought of you as a femme fatale, Em.”
“I wasn’t the one who fatale-ed him! I honestly didn’t intend to have anything else to do with him! Or not much else, anyway. Look, I was being a sex-positive, independent woman caring for her own needs. He went home to his girlfriend, tried for a little more of the old slap and tickle … and crumped.”
“And now you’re playing his funeral. And he came to the organ loft today to bother you.”
Emily began to laugh, too—a bit too hard. There was nothing else left to do. “Oh, fuckity fuck!”
Then there were tears in her eyes again. She laughed until she ran out of air. “I never even unblocked him on my phone. I never even friended him on … Facebook! It was supposed to be a nothing. A one-off. A…”
“I sort of remember Brad. He was at the reception when you played in Brooklyn, right? Was he a good organist?”
Emily wiped her eyes. “He was terrific. But loud and flashy—at least when we were kids. A show-off. I don’t think I’ve actually listened to him play since before I met you. He loved boat races as much as he loved music. Not to mention chasing women. I used to regard that as a challenge when I was in school: break the womanizing horn-dog’s heart and win the Battle of the Sexes. Ah, Al, we’re so nuts when we’re young.”
Al took Emily’s hands. “‘Nuts’ is harsh. I think we’re young when we’re young. You know?”
“I do know.”
“Em, I’ll tell you this… Brad’s going to be … around. Womanizer or no, he probably liked you a lot more than you thought. I get that. Plus, he doesn’t know he’s dead, right?”
“He seems a bit unclear about that. He’s got to know I’m practicing for his funeral. You never seemed unsure about being…”
“Being dead. I had lots of warning. I was sick for a long time.”
Emily nodded. “That sucked. You sure didn’t deserve it.”
Al pecked her cheek with his usual hurried and dry kiss. “No one deserves it. Your friend clearly has unfinished business,” he said. And then he disappeared.

About the Author:

Aletta Thorne believes in ghosts.  When she’s not making up ghost stories for grownups, she is a choral singer, a poet, and a DJ.  But she’s happiest in front of a glowing screen, giving voice to whatever it was that got her two cats all riled up at three AM.  Her house is quite seriously haunted—even scared the ghost investigator who came to check it out!   After all, she lives just across the Hudson River from Sleepy Hollow. Aletta Thorne is also the author of The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Author Pat Esden

Chloe’s Five Winter Solstice Wishes

Chloe Winslow is the main character in HIS DARK MAGIC, Northern Circle Coven book 1. Though she grew up in an influential family of witches, she has recently struck out on her own and joined the infamous Northern Circle coven. This is the first Winter Solstice that she’ll be spending with them instead of her family. The holiday season always been one of her favorite times of the year. She loves the smell of Yule trees and hot mulled cider, and the music from all the different celebrations. Most of all she loves lighting the solstice bonfire and calling the sun back from the land of shadows. However, since this is her first time celebrating away from her family and their traditions, she has five special wishes that she hopes comes true. 

5. Chloe’s looking forward to celebrating Solstice Night in the company of the entire Northern Circle, but she’s hoping at some point during December to spend a  quiet evening sipping some of the coven’s wine and watching Love Actually. She absolutely loves the movie and the holidays wouldn’t be the same without see it at least once.

4. She’s also hoping that her new friends don’t mind if she plays Little Mix’s Love Me Like You (Christmas Mix) a bit obsessively. It’s not a traditional holiday song, but it makes her smile and feel like dancing. Besides, this year, she really feels like the luckiest girl as far as guys go.

3. Gift giving isn’t technically a part of the Winter Solstice tradition. However, her family always exchanged presents: homemade treats, cozy sweaters, special candles with herbs and flowers imbedded in the wax . . . She’s planning on getting Devlin a new shirt from L.L. Bean and a big snuggly toy for his Golden Retriever. She’s crossing her fingers that he’s been listening to her hints about how much she adores watermelon tourmaline and would love a new charm for her bracelet.

2. As far as holiday food goes, Chloe plans on making her family’s hot cider recipe and almond moon cookies. But there’s something else she’d like to enjoy on the morning after Solstice Night. The first night she spent with Devlin, she discovered that he makes an amazing cheesy bacon frittata. Not only did the frittata taste great, watching him cook it was pretty tasty as well. 

1. Top on her list—and this is actually a wish she knows will come true—she’s dying to check out all the local holiday events and see how other people in her new community celebrate the Winter Solstice.

You can see all Chloe’s wishes here, as well as Winter Solstice crafts and celebration ideas.

If you’d like to learn more about the Winter Solstice in general here’s an interesting VPR broadcast.

His Dark Magic
Northern Circle Coven
Book One
Pat Esden

Genre: Contemporary fantasy 

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Date of Publication: December 11, 2018

ISBN: 9781516106301
ASIN:  B0796C83RM

Number of pages: 325
Word Count: 90k

Cover Artist: Kensington Books

Tagline: Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

Book Description:

Its power is legendary. It can fulfill every impossible magical desire. But for one young witch seeking redemption, the Northern Circle coven will challenge her skills—and her heart—beyond measure.

One tragic impulsive mistake made Chloe Winslow an outcast to her influential magic family. As a medical student, she wants to combine science with sorcery to heal those she hurt and right her wrongs. But brilliant, charismatic Devlin Marsh re-routes her plans with a once-in-eternity offer: membership in the exclusive Northern Circle, a mysterious Vermont coven known for pushing the limits.

Enthralled by Devlin and their mesmerizing mutual attraction, Chloe makes a dangerous sacrifice to help the Circle’s high priestess awaken Merlin himself—and learn his timeless cures. But a foreshadowing soon causes Chloe to doubt the Circle's real motives, as well as Devlin’s . . .

Now Merlin's demonic shade is loose in the human world, while Chloe and Devlin's uneasy alliance will pit them against ancient enemies, malevolent illusions, and shattering betrayal. And with the fate of two realms in the balance, Chloe must risk her untried power against a force she can't defeat—and a passion that could destroy her. 

Amazon      BN      iTunes      Kobo      Google Play

Chapter 1
Earth. Air. Fire. Water.
—Inscribed into a white candle

Chloe padded barefoot across her apartment to the altar on her windowsill. She struck a match and lit a candle. Its light shimmered over a row of crystals and washed into the darkness beyond the open window.
“Spirits of air,” she intoned, holding out her hands. “Guardians of thought and intent, grant me your presence today. Spirits of fire, guardians of will and passion...”
A gust of wind sent autumn leaves whirling through the darkness and rustling against the window’s screen. She stopped chanting and cupped her hands around the candle, shielding it from the breeze. She shivered. There was a sense of foreboding in the air, a whisper and a chill that a witch like her could not ignore. Someone else with powers was close by. And they were thinking about her—at least that’s what her intuition murmured.
She glanced out the window. There was no one in the tiny parking lot, one story below. The windows in the house next door stood dark and silent. She caught a whiff of bacon and hash browns, but the smell was faint and not unexpected. It was almost five-thirty, breakfast time for the couple upstairs.
Quiet as could be, she tiptoed past her bed and a stack of textbooks to the studio apartment’s front door. She opened it a crack and glanced out. The hall light was on, its brightness fanning across the hallway between her and the main staircase. But the doors to the other two apartments on her floor were shut, everything dead silent.
Remembering her candle, Chloe swiveled back. “Out,” she whispered, flicking her fingers to send a burst of energy at its flame.
The flame obeyed, only a thread of its rosemary-scented smoke trailing behind her as she opened the door all the way and crept down the hallway, the hairs on the back of her neck prickling.
When she reached the top of the staircase, everything was still quiet. But after a moment, a faint thump-thump echoed up from the foyer below.
 Thump-bang. Bang. Chloe froze, her breath knotting in the back of her throat. It was as if someone had leaned into the front door, hard shouldering it to see if it would give way.

She waited, listening for the noise to happen again. One long second passed, then another. She gritted her teeth and took a cautious step downward.
Her ear caught the swish and clink of something being slid through the mail slot, followed by a hum of magic.
Not daring to breathe, Chloe snuck down the stairs far enough that she could see the foyer and the front entrance. A narrow envelope lay just inside the door, as white as moonlight against the worn floorboards.
She glanced at the window set into the front door. No one was looking in or lurking in the shadows on the porch, so she sprinted down the rest of the stairs and snatched the envelope. Even before she read who it was for, her intuition screamed that it was addressed to her:
Chloe Winslow
The ink was black. The handwriting neat and controlled. Perfectly centered. But it wasn’t an envelope. It was handmade, paper folded and held shut by a disk of gold sealing wax stamped with an N surrounded by a circle.
She nudged the seal with her index finger. Energy crackled off of it, snaking up her arm. She gasped. Powerful magic. She was certain of it, though if any of the other tenants had found the letter and touched the seal, they wouldn’t have felt a thing.
Adrenaline pumped into her veins. A month ago, she’d moved out of her parents’ house in Connecticut to take prerequisite courses at the University of Vermont before applying for medical school. In all those weeks, she hadn’t encountered any other true witches or magic. No way in hell was she going to let someone drop off a thing like this and then escape before she could meet them.
She shoved the letter into the waistband of her yoga pants, unlocked the front door, and charged out onto the porch. Her gaze flashed to the left. Parked cars lined the dark street. But no one was getting into or out of any of them.
The swish of someone striding through fallen leaves came from the opposite direction. She wheeled and caught a glimpse of him. Definitely a guy, striding down the sidewalk through a glimmer of streetlight. Broad shoulders filled out his dark quilted jacket. Khaki chinos. Lean. Athletic. Confident.
Chloe’s long legs took the porch stairs in a single leap. She sprinted down the sidewalk after him, leaves scattering beneath her bare feet.
The guy jogged between two parked cars and crossed the street.
“Wait!” she shouted.
He slowed and glanced back. That was all the time Chloe needed. She willed her legs to go faster and in a dozen strides caught up to him and snagged his sleeve.
His eyes met hers. He looked to be maybe twenty-four or -five. His dark- brown hair curled at the nape of his neck. Deep, brown eyes. Muscular. Classy. Gorgeous. His magic purred in the air around him.
She gulped a breath and toughened her voice. “You owe me an explanation.”
His gaze traveled over her slowly, from her bobbed honey-blond hair, past her makeup-free face and stretched out T-shirt, down to her stormy- blue painted toenails, then back up to her eyes. Dimples formed as his lips twitched into a roguish smirk.
“Not afraid of confrontation, are you?” he said.
His voice was warm and deep, liquid danger spiked with an undercurrent of confident innuendo. It sent an excited shiver up her arms. Still she glared at him. “First of all, I suspect you dropped off that letter at this time of morning because you knew I’d be awake and sense you. That means you’ve been spying on me.”
“Is that so?” He shifted closer, his magic sweeping her skin.
Her legs weakened. Desire thrummed low in her belly. Dear Goddess, this hadn’t been one of her brighter moves. Maybe she could snuff out a candle with a flick of her fingers, but with seemingly no effort his magic had aroused every inch of her. Clearly, he was extraordinarily gifted—and not just with working spells.
She let go of his sleeve, retreated a step, and found herself trapped against a cedar hedge.
He cocked his head. “Why don’t you open the letter if you’re so curious?”
Her fingers obeyed, sliding it from her waistband—
She stopped. What the heck was she doing? She’d felt the magic crackle off the seal. If she broke it, there was no telling what kind of spell might be activated.
Chloe pulled herself up to her full height and looked him square in the eyes, which wasn’t that hard to do. He was probably five-foot-ten, but she was only a couple of inches shorter even in bare feet. “I’ve got a better idea. How about if you tell me what it says?”
He frowned as if the idea didn’t appeal to him, then surprisingly he stepped back and shrugged. “All right, if you insist. It’s an invitation from the Northern Circle coven. Have you heard of us?”
“Umm—no.” Her pulse quickened, renewed wariness pumping into her blood. Her parents had mentioned a few older hereditary witches who lived in this area, but never this group.
“It’s to a party. A meet and greet. A chance to see if you might be interested in joining us and if we think you’re a good fit.” He rubbed a hand down the sleeve of his jacket as if deciding whether he should say more. Finally, he went on, “We’re dedicated to finding ways to access ancient knowledge. Through out-of-body travel, retrocognition...” He studied her face carefully, as if watching for her reaction.
She pressed her lips together, refusing to give him one—though what he’d said totally enticed her.
Amusement twinkled in his eyes for a second, then he continued. “We believe there are cures to modern diseases and conditions that have been lost to time. The wisdom and magic of Imhotep, Hippocrates, even Merlin.” He smiled, slyly. “You are interested in medicine, right?”
Her wariness evaporated and that thrum jumped to life again deep inside her. But this time it had nothing to do with sex. Magic. Medicine. Secrets lost to time. None of the classes she was taking or anything she’d come across at the university were even remotely as exciting as this.
She folded her arms across her chest. “Of course you’d know I’m interested in that. You’ve been keeping tabs on me.”
“I—we haven’t been spying on you. You don’t always use protection spells. We picked up on your energy. That’s one of the ways we find new potential members.” He stopped, his jaw tensing as if he were holding something back.
She pinned him with a steady look. “And?”
He grimaced. “All right, we have contacts in administration. We may have checked your college records as well: graduated from a community college, taking additional prerequisites before applying for medical school. Top-ten test scores. Not a great apartment. But somehow you scored it last minute.”
Now he sounded like her father, using his connections to screen potential employees. She thrust the letter out. “If this is all so innocent, then why don’t you open it? Or does the seal bother you?”
He laughed, tugged the letter from her fingers, and broke the sealing wax. The welcoming scent of sage and lavender perfumed the air, and a trail of green firefly-like sparks twinkled upward, swirling around before vanishing off toward the brightening eastern horizon.
“Better now?” he said, handing the open letter back to her.
She skimmed it, nibbling her bottom lip. Even in the dim street-light, she could see he’d told the truth. It was an engraved invitation signed: Athena Marsh, high priestess, Northern Circle.
“You can take a city bus—or text Athena if you want a ride. She’ll probably ask me to pick you up, but she’s the one doing the organizing. This is her pet project,” he continued. “You won’t be the only newbie. No one will force you into anything.”
His voice settled sugar-sweet in her ear. Medicine. Magic. A chance to gain the knowledge from ancient physicians, scholars, and sorcerers. Perhaps even pick the wizard Merlin’s brain. How could she say no?

About the Author:

PAT ESDEN is an antique-dealing florist by trade. She’s also a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Her new adult paranormal novel, A HOLD ON ME (book #1 in the Dark Heart series) is available from Kensington Books. BEYOND YOUR TOUCH (book #2 Dark Heart series) will be released August 30th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway