Friday, March 27, 2015

Flash Fiction

Posted by: Shona Husk
My words for this challenge were:
widdershins, demonology, assuage, anathema, shenanigans, turpitude

Once I’d looked a few of them up this story practically wrote it’s self I mean demonology, widdershins and turpitude…what could possibly go wrong?

Angus in Finding your Demon is about to find out…

Finding your Demon

It wasn’t that he couldn’t summon a demon; it was just that he didn’t want to. Maybe if he didn’t put enough will into the spell the whole thing would fall apart. 

“Widdershins, three times,” The lecturer commanded.

All the college students of Demonology 101 started walking anti-clockwise around the circles they had carefully constructed out of salt and will. The cool evening air settled on Angus’s skin and he shivered.

Angus tried not to focus, but it was hard not to think about the demon on the other side. All the warning his teacher had mentioned echoed in his ears. Once the contact was made it would always be there. It would be your personal demon to summon at will. None of the rules had done anything to assuage Angus’s fears. 

After all if humans could summon demons across the void what was to stop demons from summoning humans across the void? No one ever talked about that.

Yet Angus had a sneaking suspicion about what happened to all the missing persons. Yep, they got summoned across to the demon world to participate in whatever shenanigans the demons ordered them too. 

He swallowed as he completed his third lap of the circle.

“Now call it to you. Feel the energy. There is a link between the worlds, a demon that wants to rush to your side.” The lecturer’s voice rung out echoing off the trees.

Angus wished that his parents hadn’t insisted on him going to warlock college. He really just wanted to be a normal nineteen year old guy. Not a warlock like his father. Not everyone could control magic. 

Or demons. 

The air in his circle shimmered.

Oh crap.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was supposed to fail and be kicked out of college.

Demons were popping into existence in the circles of the other students. Angus snapped his attention back to his circle. A tall man-ish creature with elegant horns and a tail stood there. Okay he’d summoned up a typical Lucifer. A garden variety demon, nothing too horrendous. While its chest was bare, the demon was wearing black pants and a rather ferocious looking machete. 

The demon was supposed to be anathema to him. It wasn’t. Intrigue and something else fluttered in Angus’s chest. Then he remembered that he was in class and he was supposed to be exerting control over his demon.

“I am your earthbound master,” Angus said, echoing several other students.

The demon laughed, dark and rich. “And I am your demonside master.”

No one else’s demon was disobeying they were all waiting for orders…

“That’s not the way this works. You’re supposed to offer me the use of your power, of find things for me.” Angus couldn’t think of anything else for the demon to do right now.

“Right, now everyone has their demon, let’s try a simple gathering of energy before we send them home.” The lecturer sounded pleased with his class.

Angus had a bad feeling about this as his demon was smiling and looking entirely too comfortable. His skin had changed from a reddish color to something darker and more unsettlingly human. For a demon he was rather attractive in a dangerous, pirate kind of way.

All Angus had to do was use the open channel and draw up some energy, then he could get rid of the demon that he hadn’t wanted to summon in the first place…of course they now always have a connection.

Angus closed his eyes and tried to feel the magic. His circle was weak because he hadn’t been paying attention. He heard his demon laugh. Magic swelled but it wasn’t Angus’s doing.

“I want to see what turpitude lies within your heart.” The demon shattered the circle grabbed Angus by the wrist and pulled him through the void.
~~~
Yes I am contemplating writing more about Angus and his demon :)
~~~
Latest release: The Darkling Lord

A darkling with a lust for power… Henry Saint shouldn’t exist. Every year on his birthday, he kills someone and takes their soul so that he may live another year. He is a darkling, not fairy… but not human either. Yet he is bound by the laws of both worlds. With a new King on the throne of Annwyn and the mortal world trying to rebuild after plagues killed so many, Henry seizes the opportunity to carve out a place of his own. He wants Detroit.

A spy without a soul… Darah was Felan’s spy before he became King of Annwyn. Now he has one last mission for her. He wants her to join the darkling’s Court and discover what Henry’s endgame is. No one trusts the Banished when they gather in great numbers. As Darah gets drawn into Henry’s world she realizes he can give her the one thing she could never find in Annwyn—love. But is love worth betraying her King?
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Crikey! Flash Fiction

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
So Veronica Scott challenged me to use the following words in a short story: crikey, chaos, defenestrate, copacetic, dog, and, obstreperous. She should have known that giving "crikey" to an Aussie would only mean one thing ... yowie! We were allowed to drop one word, so I resisted the temptation (and so did Charon) to defenestrate the hero. Enjoy :)

"Crikey!"

The chaos? Well, Cerberus was the sort of dog who caused chaos wherever he went. Thunderclap, the ogre toothfairy, crying in the corner, yeah, that was unexpected. But I’m an Aussie yowie. I can cope with anything.

I headed straight for Charon’s collection of romance novels—the only things unaffected by the chaos, shelved from floor to ceiling behind his desk. Of course they were copacetic. Charon is so bloody particular about everything. Shame about his desk being upside down. The computer lay in shards beneath it.

Thunderclap whimpered. “Charon’s gonna kill me. He said to keep Cerberus on a lead.”

The mutt shook its three heads, drool flying everywhere, then collapsed at the ogre toothfairy’s stony feet. A tongue licked a lichen-decorated nail.

I shrugged. “No sympathy from me, mate. Ya know Cerberus is bloody obstreperous.”

Ah, gotcha! Charon had tried to hide the Here Be Magic authors’ books on his top shelf. I leapt up, snaffled them, and landed silently on the broken desk.

A large hand settled with equal silence on my shoulder. A very large hand, calloused from handling the oars. Charon.

Thunderclap and Cerberus bolted for the door. It slammed shut behind them. Treacherous bastards!

Alone with Charon, my arms full of purloined books.

Crikey!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Confrontation: A Warder Universe March Melange Flash Fiction Scene

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti

“You—you—you poikilothermic snollygoster!”

He had to admit, it was the most unusual epithet a mortal had ever hurled at him—and at any other time, in any other place, he might even have found the thick Southern drawl that delivered it endearing. The mortal herself was the very opposite of intimidating. She was small of stature and primly clad, with most of her figure swathed beneath the folds of a work apron. A nurse’s cap crowned her dark curls, but could not quite contain them; one or two escaped from beneath it, and along with the dusting of freckles across her cheeks, gave her an entirely earthy, prosaic air. But anger flashed in the brown eyes behind her spectacles, and with a stony bravery most mortals couldn’t bring to bear against him, she held a pistol aimed straight at his heart.

“My dear Miss Hathaway,” he said blandly, holding out his hands to either side, “you wound me to the quick.”

“Not as much as I’m gonna wound you if you raise even the slightest scrap o’ magic. You told me you were a doctor.”

“Healer,” he corrected, only to swallow hard as she drew back the trigger of her gun. Cold iron. She wouldn’t have to strike a fatal hit at this range. Even if she got in a glancing shot, the iron in the bullet would cause him worlds of pain.

“You told me you were human.”

Which was, of course, the entire question.

He’d been ready to have his fun when all his instincts, with near omnipotent precision, had led him to her. Warder’s blood, but not yet committed to the city—and a young and untried mortal like her should have been an easy and delectable morsel. But that had been before he’d tracked her to the hospital where she spent her nights. Before he’d seen the stricken children that were her charges, each one of them fighting against the cancers that threatened to devour them from within.

In four hundred years of life, Merekir had seen much. Yet he wasn’t sure what frightened him more, now—the death in the flesh and bones and blood of the mortal children, or the blaze of determined compassion in Lillian Hathaway’s eyes as she made war upon that death.

Did she know how radiant she was, like the evening star in the gloaming of oncoming night?

Did she know how fierce she looked even now?

Merekir blew out a breath of resignation. It was the height of folly to reveal his true nature to a woman of the Warder lineage, but she’d already fathomed it. More importantly, he found that he couldn’t abide how she glared at him. It was the same glare she turned upon the signs of sickness she fought in her charges. To be equated with cancer in her eyes—as if he were alien, anathema, foul—made something painful constrict within his heart of hearts.

And so he dropped his glamour, letting her see his true face.

“I’m not human, Miss Hathaway,” he said. “But I am a healer. And I want to help.”

* * *

And, an addendum from the author:

Victory is mine! I used all of my words, though it took a bit to figure out how to use poikilothermic and snollygoster. Those two words together gave me a bit of an idea about the character Lillian Hathaway, as well as the probable time frame in which this fragment is set. Given that snollygoster is an archaic word, this scene is probably somewhere in the 1800s, or early 1900s at the very latest. And Lillian is very bookish and very dedicated to her profession. I’d call her a bluestocking, except that I’m pretty sure I can’t quite throw that term at a young woman from the South.

Merekir is the barest sketch of a character idea here, although I know he’s Unseelie, and a healer, and rather more principled than the average Unseelie mage. He’s probably a very rare bird in the Unseelie Court—if not outright rogue. Luciriel would not, after all, be very pleased to have a healer outside her control. HA. I may need to do something further with this concept. But if I do, Internets, you can say you saw it here in this post first!

And oh yes: the rest of my words were fun, alien, omnipresent, and gloaming. Also, poikilothermic means “cold-blooded”, and a snollygoster is someone who’s deceptive. I figured these would be the sorts of words that the extremely bookish Lillian would actually use as insults.

Hope you liked my scene!

* * *

Angela writes the urban fantasy series The Free Court of Seattle under the name Angela Korra’ti. Book 2 of that series, Bone Walker, is available now! As Angela Highland, she writes the Rebels of Adalonia fantasy trilogy for Carina Press. Book 3 of the trilogy, Victory of the Hawk, releases on April 6th. Come say hi to Angela at angelahighland.com, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Jewel of the City Flash Fiction

Posted by: Veronica Scott
The miasma of fear hung over the city. No matter where one went, there was a great murmuration from the crowds gathered in the squares, the inns and at the temple.
                The elders took the podium time and again to pontificate and predict. “Our army will prevail,” they said. “We’ll defeat the invaders before they ever reach the outer wall.”
                “How?” said the crowds, not content with platitudes and empty assurances, now that doom was upon them. “How how how how…???”
                The enemy had greater force of arms. The enemy had mighty war engines. The enemy’s king was said to be immortal and if not, certainly he’d survived many a wound that should have killed him, many an assassination attempt, even those powered by black magic. Or so it was said.
                The city’s ruler took council with the elders and the priests. “What are we going to do?” he said. “Do we even know what he wants from us?”
                The most senior counselor, an elderly woman, said, “He’s transmitted a single demand, your majesty, over and over. He desires the jewel of the city and will depart from our gates, leaving us unmolested and indeed, declared his allies for all time, if we but render him the jewel.”
                The king pulled at his hair and slammed his fist on the table. “What jewel? We have no single stone that the entire city worships. Does he want my crown, is that it? The statue of our god in the primary temple perhaps? That’s made of jade most rare.”
                “We can survive a siege for months,” ventured another counselor. “Perhaps he’ll give up and go away.”
                “Not likely.” The king paced to the window overlooking the city walls. “And we know he shattered the walls of other cities with his rams and catapults and fire that consumes all in its path.”
                The elderly woman drew him to the window opposite, the one overlooking the king’s private garden, where a woman sat writing in a journal while all around her maids painted and sewed and made music. “There,” she said, “That is the jewel of the city.”
                “My daughter? You think he wants my daughter?” The king laughed. “We’re not living in a fairy tale. Why should a conqueror of men be satisfied with my daughter? I grant you she’s lovely and talented, of royal blood, but he can get any number of women from more powerful realms, if he seeks an alliance.”
                “Yet it is her the man seeks.” The priestess of their deity spoke up now. “The omens are clear.”
                The king’s shoulders slumped. “I will speak with her alone. See if she’s willing to take this risk.”
                Two days later the city flew white pennants of truce from all the ramparts. The invading king’s army sat patiently on the plains beyond. The king and five of his knights rode to the fore and sat on their majestic horses, waiting.
                A portion of the gate creaked open, just wide enough to allow one person to exit.
                The princess, ethereal in her beauty, dressed in royal blues and brilliant greens, walked calmly away from the city of her birth and stood between the walls and the army.
                Slowly the king’s horse paced forward, urged into motion by no visible signal. The king circled the princess , neither of them uttering a word as he made his leisurely turn. The horse stood still and the king extended a hand to the woman, who walked forward and put her slender fingers over his. A soldier came forward and assisted her to the saddle, where she sat at ease in front of the king.
                The king rode through his army, followed by his knights. Trumpets sounded a triumphant call, and the soldiers turned as one and began to march away, dragging their engines of war with them.

                Note from Veronica: So I used all six of my assigned words: ethereal, pontificate, majestic, murmuration, miasma and triumphant. 

I have in mind that the dreaded king and the princess had met as children somewhere, maybe before the king became who he is today…yet he never forgot the beautiful girl he’d loved. And this was his way of getting her back. And as for her, she’d dreamt of him ever since the day they were separated…because I do know this is a Happily Ever After ending for them.

Copyright Veronica Scott 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Release

It’s all or nothing, and to the victor go the dirty sweet spoils.
Best Revenge, Book 3

As if buried in their respective DNA, Riley Hewitt and Anson Black have been rivals since grade school. Always trying to one-up the other…until Anson left town right after graduation.
Fast forward a few years. Just as Riley is thinking of expanding her profitable baking business, who should plant his new restaurant right next door but smug, annoying—and, unfortunately, drop-dead-sexy—Anson. Spurred by a large bottle of wine and her two best friends, Riley sets out to get revenge.

Of all the women Anson has known, no one has stirred him—or made him work harder—than Riley. Moving in right under her nose, he’ll be a constant thorn in her side. After all, he’s smart, sexy and successful. What’s not to love?

Much to her chagrin, Riley finds more than her competitive edge coming back to life. So is her libido. But if she lets her heart fall into Anson’s win column, she could lose in more ways than one. And this time around, second place just isn’t going to cut it. 
 
Product WarningsA smug man needing his comeuppance duels with a baking queen who stirs his passion like nobody’s business. No cupcakes were injured in the making of this romance, but the same can’t be said for the knitting needles.

 To Buy

  ***


Still time to get in on a raffle for an ebook copy (Epub or Mobi) of Shawna Reppert's award-winning urban fantasy Ravensblood!   

Raffle is over at the Howling Turtle site!



In a life of impossible choices when sometimes death magic is the lesser of the evils, can a dark mage save the world and his own soul?
Corwyn Ravenscroft. Raven. The last heir of an ancient family of dark mages, he holds the secret to recreating the Ravensblood, a legendary magical artifact of immense power.
Cassandra Greensdowne is a Guardian. Magical law enforcement for the elected council— and Raven’s former apprentice and lover. She is trying to live down her past. And then her past comes to the door, asking for her help.
As a youth, Raven wanted to be a Guardian but was rejected because of his ancestry. In his pride and his anger, he had turned to William, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time. William wants a return to the old ways, where the most powerful mage was ruler absolute. But William would not be a True King from the fairy tales. He would reign in blood and terror and darkest magic.
Raven discovers that he does have a conscience. It’s rather inconvenient.
He becomes a spy for the council that William wants to overthrow, with Cassandra as his contact.
Cass and Raven have a plan to trap William outside his warded sanctuary. But William is one step ahead of the game, with Raven’s life, his soul, and the Ravensblood all in danger.

Ravensblood won a Gold Medal in the 2014 Global E Book Awards. The author's first novel, The Stolen Luck, won a Silver Medal in the Global E-Book Awards and a 2014 Eppie Award.

***

 

March Melange Flash Fiction Week at Here Be Magic! This week some of our authors will be offering flash fiction short stories in this space, based on words submitted to us by you, the Readers, earlier this year. See what our imaginative authors have done with the melange of words they each received!

Veronica Scott leads off tomorrow with her story "Jewel of the City."


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Let’s hear it for the boys

Posted by: PG Forte
My book The Oak King released this week. It’s a fantasy ménage set in nineteenth century Ireland between a very independent-minded—and very human--widow named Aine and the two tree spirits who have fallen in love with her. And with each other.  

This book has been a long time in the planning and has been through more re-writes than any other book I’ve ever written. At one point, it was a novella. At another, I thought I was going to have to turn it into a trilogy—never mind the fact that the last book I tried to turn into a trilogy morphed into a series that I hope to be able to wrap up in seven books. Thanks to my wonderful editor and a couple of equally wonderful beta readers, I managed to wrangle the story into something more manageable.

I love Aine. She’s a woman who knows her mind and isn’t afraid to change it. She’s also not afraid to go out and get what she wants, even when it runs counter to everything she used to think she wanted. She’s also probably the only woman who could ever have handled not just Fionn and Kieran, but all the angsty, complicated baggage the two of them brought along with them.

 I do love angsty, complicated heroes.  It’s a weakness. And, I have to confess, when it comes to Fionn and Kieran…I’d have a hard time choosing a favorite as well. They belong together, although they fight it for a good part of the story.  And they both belong with Aine. And when they finally all come together…well, I’m sure you can guess what happens then.

Anyway, here’s the blurb and a short excerpt, because sharing is caring--as I'm sure Aine would agree--and I love sharing excerpts.

Twice each year, Aine Murphy ventures into the woods to hold ceremonies to honor the Oak King and the Holly King, never dreaming these Lords of the Forest could be anything more than myth. When the legends spring to life in front of her, how can she help but fall for the sexy demi-gods she's loved all her life?

From midwinter to midsummer, Fionn O'Dair rules the Greenworld as the Oak King--a role he feels is beyond his abilities, and one that dooms him to a loveless future, forever craving the one man he can never allow himself to have. How can he resist what Aine offers--the sweet devotion that soothes his aching soul, and the slim chance to live a "normal" life as her husband, if only for half a year?

Holly King Kieran Mac Cuilenn never desired a human lover--until now. Seeing Fionn and Aine together fills him with longing for the love he threw away and awakens feelings he thought he'd buried with the last Oak King. Is there enough magic in the solstice to correct the mistakes he made years ago? Or is he doomed to be forever left out in the cold?

*****

December 1895
At the time of the winter solstice

From his vantage point, beside the farmyard gate, Kieran surveyed the seemingly peaceful scene spread out before him. The night was still with nary a breeze to stir in even the topmost branches of the nearby trees. High above his head, thin white clouds stretched misty ribbons across the sky, blotting out great swaths of stars and wrapping the half-dark moon in a gauzy embrace. Kieran studied the orb’s shadowed form for several moments, the better to divine her wishes. Fionn might claim to serve the sun alone, but Kieran, Ruler of the Waning Year and creature of the ’Tween, knew better. There was naught on this earth could escape the Night Queen’s influence.

In a little over a week, when the moon rose full, it would be for the thirteenth time this year. A rare and unusual occurrence, it signaled a time of transition and change, a time when one might reasonably hope to alter one’s path. A hot swell of anticipation arose within him as he thought of it, the moon of opportunity and rebirth. The opportunity to change—wasn’t that exactly what he needed, what they all needed?

Tonight. Why should it not be tonight?

The sentinels of the forest were used to biding their time. A delay of several decades before a goal could materialize or a dream come to fruition meant little to one such as he. That didn’t mean he didn’t suffer through the waiting, however. It didn’t mean he couldn’t yearn, or covet, or long for what he could not have, what he might never have, or what he might have foolishly thrown away.

Tonight. Please let it be tonight.

On the surface, the cozy farmhouse nestled in its tidy yard looked much as it had the previous year, snug, warm, and inviting, but as Kieran well knew, looks were oftentimes deceiving.

Last year, even despite the pleasant setting, the sight of this place had sparked only fear and uncertainty within him. Tonight, the small stone building, with its whitewashed walls and slate-tiled roof, with candles burning in the windows and a lazy curl of smoke eddying from the chimney, marked the seat of all his hopes and dreams, as well as the crux of his restless discontent. Within its four walls resided everything he longed for and ached to possess.

It was that which kept him standing out here in the cold, which made him hesitate, afraid to enter or even to make his presence known to those inside. Fear. Anticipation. Hope. Uncertainty. Excitement. Desire. Love. Regret.

If his dreams were ever to be realized, it would have to happen sometime. It might be now, or a hundred years from now. Kieran would much prefer it be now, of course, but even a hundred years was better than the third possibility—that his dreams should die aborning and never be realized at all.

Maybe he’d already had his chance and lost it. Maybe what he longed for now would never be his again. In truth, he didn’t know what to expect. That, at least, was the same as last year.

He’d sped here last winter on the full moon’s bright wings and his own breathless terror, his whole mind focused on a single goal—that of saving Fionn’s life. When he’d arrived at the farmhouse, it was just in time to hear Aine’s threat to cut down his grove—and out of nothing more than spite! It had seemed to Kieran then that his fears had all been justified.

Now, he could laugh about it. A smile creased his face as he remembered it. How fierce and fiery she’d appeared. Despite the danger she’d represented, she’d been radiant with her red-gold hair catching the fire’s light and her blue eyes gleaming like sapphires over her flushed cheeks. Even smudged with flour and seething with rage, she’d been a sight to render him almost speechless.

She’d seemed even more magnificent in her anger and wounded pride than she had on that previous midsummer morning. She’d looked like a goddess or a proud young queen as she’d stared Fionn down. Her hands had been fisted on her hips. Her chest had heaved with every angry breath. But queens and goddesses are ofttimes cruel, as Kieran was well aware. And, in that moment, nothing about the situation had struck him as even remotely humorous.


Available in digital format at Loose Id, Amazon, All Romance eBooks, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble

Friday, March 20, 2015

Crafting the perfect 'hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude'

Posted by: Angela Campbell
I had to take a hiatus from writing after the release of my last book "Spirited Away" for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons were because I was so exhausted, too dang busy at the day job, and (hangs head in shame) I had lost my writing mojo.

It happens occasionally to all writers, I think. The idea of picking up where I’d left off on my next manuscript — or any new story — struck me with a combination of writer’s block and dread, which was a sure sign I needed to take a break.

It’s interesting what can trigger creativity again. I mainly used my writing hiatus to do more reading (or listening, considering my reading these days comes courtesy of audiobooks) and movie watching, mostly thanks to Netflix. Nothing makes me want to write more than experiencing a good story, and I’ve been lucky to have found some good ones in both book and movie form lately.

A little younger than I see him, but meet Connor.
For the past couple of months, I’ve actually been itching to get back to my unfinished manuscript. For anyone who has read my psychic detectives series, yes, this is Connor’s book. Almost every review “Spirited Away” has received has mentioned the “hunky demon slayer/ghost talker dude” who those readers are anxious to learn more about. Talk about pressure.

For those who haven't read my series, Connor Manning shows up in "Something Wicked," the second book in my psychic detectives series. More than a little mysterious, the leather-clad stranger hints that he's part of a secret society of psychics and it's obvious he has far more knowledge of the paranormal and supernatural than that book's heroine, who is a renowned psychic medium. Then Connor again shows up in "Spirited Away" when that book's main character, Spider, finds herself knee-deep in the middle of a paranormal mystery. Again, Connor saves the day without quite revealing who he really is. Plus, he wants something from the team of psychics I've already portrayed.

Connor is one of my favorite characters to write, and it feels good to be giving him his own story.  Yes, I'm a huge fan of "Supernatural," so Connor might bear a slight resemblance to what I imagine another long-lost Winchester brother would be like, although I have to be careful because I don't want to make him too much like either Sam or Dean. I want Connor to be as unique as I can make him given there are hundreds, maybe thousands of hunky demon slayer dudes in paranormal romance fiction, plus I want him to be awesome. So I'm taking my time with his story. I'm also exploring the secret society hinted at in the other books, which makes me all giddy and feel kind of powerful right now. Or, I might just be losing my mind, which is completely possible.

I have no idea if readers will like Connor's story; the book also isn't contracted, so I have no idea if my editor will want to publish the story, but I hope to finish it by the end of, oh, April, maybe? Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I sure am having fun Googling images of hot, young men to match the image of Connor that's in my head. So far, these are my favorites! Slap some tats on the guy, and he pretty much nails it. Feel free to share who your favorite hunky demon slayer dude is in the comments. Pictures of hot dudes are also welcome. ;-)

***
Angela Campbell is the author of the psychic detectives series. Learn more about her and her books at www.AngelaCampbellOnline.com.
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