#Heroika Skirmishers – Bruce Durham and His Character #Fantasy #Historicalfic #Meetanauthor

 

Author section

Name (Mandatory) Bruce Durham

Give us a brief synopsis of your story: The remnants of a Peacekeeping force flee before the relentless approach of a corrupted madman who is nuking the world into oblivion. A glimmer of hope for the future presents itself in the form of a mysterious priest, a fabled horn and a legendary sword.

Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about? I wanted to write about a slightly post-modern-day end of the world scenario, mix in some legend and myth and explore how modern-day soldiers would react to something completely out of the normal.

What is your usual genre? I’ve written across several genres, including historical, fantasy, Sf and horror.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? I’ll meticulously plot my story, then find some of the characters decide they have different ideas. It’s a bit of a struggle, but they usually win out.

If you could invite anyone from history or literature to dinner who would you choose and why? It would definitely be Robert E. Howard. His body of work was immense, encompassing fantasy, historical fiction, horror, poetry, westerns, boxing tales and pure adventure. Needless to say, his influence on me was immense. Just to pick his brain would be worth the steak dinner.

 

Character Section

Name (Mandatory) Grace Matthews

Tell us a bit about yourself. I am a Peacekeeper. My rank is First Lieutenant, 3rd  Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. I’m a career soldier, single, not that its anybody’s business. Not much else to say.

How do you come to be on this adventure? I was stationed in the Sinai with an aircraft control unit when all hell broke loose. From there it was a steady retreat across North Africa and into Spain. This wasn’t so much as an adventure as it was about survival.

Tell us a bit about the society in which you live. Right now? It’s a madhouse.

Are you brave? I don’t know. I know I have a duty to the well being of the people in my command. If that makes me brave, then so be it.

How do others see you? You’ll have to ask them. They haven’t deserted, so I must be doing something right.

Do you believe in a god? At this point I don’t know what to believe in.

What do you REALLY think of your author? I hope he rots for putting me in this situation. I just wanted a normal life, you know?

Do you have a moral code? Duty.

If you could have three wishes what would they be? To live. To love. To be in a sequel.

Do you think you make a difference in your world? Time will tell.

 

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Bruce Durham lives in Mississauga, Ontario. He has appeared in Paradox: The Magazine of Historical & Speculative Fiction, Lovecraft eZine, Flashing Swords, Return of the Sword, Rage of the Behemoth, Sha’Daa: Last call, Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, Poets in Hell and Heroika: Dragon Eaters, among others.

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

 

Heroika 2 1.2 FINAL JPG

 

Heroika Skirmishers Interviews – Travis Ludvigson and His Character

Author section

  • Name: Travis Ludvigson

 

  • Give us a brief synopsis of your story Nithing (an Old Norse term for a coward, an outcast or a man without honor), is a tale of betrayal and redemption set in the later part of what is known as the Viking Age. Grimolf is a warrior driven from his home, harried by those who would take his life and with it earn glory and riches. An opportunity to change his fate arrives and he must choose which path to follow.

 

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about? The Norse are a fascinating people made up of fighters, farmers, craftsman and seafarers. Their influence reached throughout much of the known world at the time, and can still be seen today. Additionally, they were a group of men and women who represented strength in the face of adversity and a fierce devotion to that which they loved.

 

  • How would you define a Skirmisher? A Skirmisher is a fighter who engages in smaller battles where hit and run tactics can be used. They can serve as scouts to collect intelligence, and can also serve as a small, quick reaction force that can be used to harry the enemy and keep them unbalanced. A Skirmisher is a fast, smart, efficient fighter who knows how to hit the enemy hard before they can properly react.

 

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy? Ensuring that there is accuracy in the depiction of time and place of the story. I always take the time to do good research of the terrain, animals, names of both people and places, historical events and other details to be as true to the history as I can. However, I am also writing fiction, so I take some liberties to change a few things to better fit the story. You just have to find a good balance so you don’t destroy the vision you have created for the reader.

 

  • What is your writing space like? It is a cold, dark cave located well below ground, wherein I am surrounded on all sides by books; the ether filled with the collective murmuring of millions of voices and stories. Directly to my left sit Huginn and Munin (Thought and Memory) to provide inspiration. A mirror hangs in front of me so that I can look into my own eyes and try to discern whether the thoughts that are coalescing within are worthy of the story. And there is typically a dog or cat lounging somewhere nearby, just waiting for the chance to divert my attention to them.

 

  • If you could invite anyone from history or literature to dinner who would you choose and why? Man, there are so many it is really hard to narrow this down. If I had to choose one person from history, I suppose it would have to be Marcus Aurelius. He was a warrior, a statesman and a philosopher and would be a great dinner companion. Then afterwards, maybe he would be agreeable to sparring and could give me some pointers on using the gladius.

 

Character Section

1)Name: Grimolf

2)Tell us a bit about yourself. I don’t really like to talk. I enjoy fighting and drinking. In fact, I believe I will pour another right now.

3)Are you brave? I don’t fear anything or anyone, but I don’t know if its bravery or not.

4) Do you believe in a god? There are many gods and goddesses: Odin, Tyr, Thor, Frey, Freya, Sif and the other Aesir and Vanir.

5)Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone? I did love someone deeply, but she betrayed me. And I hate the man who was my Jarl, that black-hearted coward is the one who took my whole life from me. One day I will introduce my axe to his head and settle the matter.

6) What do you REALLY think of your author? Well, he knows how to fight, and I can respect that.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Travis Ludvigson is an author of urban, historic and supernatural fiction. He served with honor in U.S. Air Force Intelligence, tested his fighting prowess in a Muay Thai championship in Asia and is fiercely proud of his Norse heritage. He loves reading, spending time with his feisty wife and brilliant son, and playing with their giant mastiff and tough little bulldog.

Author website/blog:

http://norseman73.wix.com/land-of-the-norseman

Twitter:

@TravisLudvigson

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/travisludvigsonauthor

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4272358.Travis_Ludvigson

Amazon page:

http://www.amazon.com/Travis-Ludvigson/e/B00BNASEIG/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1430185761&sr=8-1

Heroika 2 1.2 FINAL JPG

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

 

 

 

#Heroika: Skirmishers – Witness the Birth of Alchemical Warfare! Read “The Naked Daemon” by S.E. Lindberg

Images (from Wikipedia) 

  • Emerald Tablet
  • Apollonius of Tyana
  • Alexandria Library

Author section

  • Name: Seth (S.E.) Lindberg
  • How would you define a Skirmisher? Any soldier roaming ahead of the core army, usually shield-less and including heroic civilians caught behind enemy lines.
  • What is your usual genre? I focus on alchemy-inspired, dark fantasy. With Perseid Press, I write in the Heroes in Hell series with two characters: the shamed evolutionist Ernst Haeckel (who embellished his beautiful drawings with fictional data) and the smug archaeologist Howard Carter (known for finding/raiding King Tutankhamun’s tomb); their yarn has them exploring the Egyptian Duat afterlife (Pirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell, … and more to come). Check out related Library of Erana posts: Hell Week 2018 – A Day in the Life of Haeckel and Carter and Hell Week 2017 – An Interview with Ernst Haeckel. Separate from Perseid Press, I rely on Sword & Sorcery as a medium to contemplate life-death-art with my Dyscrasia Fiction series (dyscrasia literally means “a bad mixture of liquids”, an alchemical term).
  • Give us a brief synopsis of your Skirmisher story: The Naked Daemon pits the mystic Apollonius of Tyana (deceased ~100 CE) against zealots who destroy what remains of the Alexandria Library. In life, his principles had been aligned with those of the pacifist gymnosophists (a.k.a. naked philosophers); hundreds of years past his death, Apollonius finds himself reborn as a daemon empowered with Hermes’s Emerald Tablet. He observes the Roman oppression over pagan scholars and is challenged with an urgent need to defend knowledge.
    • Will Apollonius rationalize war by unleashing the power of alchemy to do harm?
    • Will he become an angel or demon? How will alchemy transform The Naked Demon?
  • How did alchemy inform your first Heroika tale? “Legacy of the Great Dragon” (Heroika 1: Dragon Eaters) features the Father of Alchemy Thoth (a.k.a. Hermes) entombing his singular source of magic, the Great Dragon. According to Greek and Egyptian myth, Hermes was able to see into the world of the dead and pass his learnings to the living. One of the earliest known hermetic scripts is the Divine Pymander of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus. Within that, a tale is told of Hermes being confronted with a vision of the otherworldly entity Pymander, who takes the shape of a “Great Dragon” to reveal divine secrets. “Legacy of the Great Dragon” fictionalizes this Hermetic Tradition, presenting the Great Dragon as the sun-eating Apep of Egyptian antiquity. Hermes’s learnings are passed to humanity via an Emerald Tablet. The actual Emerald Tablet (if it was indeed “real”) is arguable the most popular work of Hermeticism since its reveals the secret of transmuting any material’s base elements into something divine or valuable (gold). Many refer to the Tablet as being the philosopher’s stone, or the knowledge embodying it. In fact, the tablet no longer physically exists, but translations of it do. Sir Isaac Newton’s translation of the tablet’s inscription remains very popular, and undeniably cryptic.
    • Apollonius, it appears, not only recovered the Emerald Tablet, but he was entombed with it.
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser? 100% Plotter.
  • What keeps you up at night? Night terrors.
  • What inspires you? Exploring the seam between reality and fantasy. Nightmares.

Character Section

1) Name: Apollonius of Tyana

2) Tell us a bit about yourself. Many claim you to be a miracle worker, rivalling your contemporary Jesus: “No need to compare one man, or woman, to any other. Misunderstood powers, used for good or ill, flow through we hierophants. In this respect, I am merely a conduit. A magos.”

3) Do you believe in a god, or gods? “Of course. I minister people on their behalf.”

4) How do you come to be on this adventure? “In my primary life, I spent decades searching, and reassembling, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. Atop the sacred slab, in the Serapeum of Alexandria, I passed away. Then I rose, not as a ghost, but as a tangible body.”

5) You pause. Why? “Romans were ransacking the last vestige of the Alexandria Library. Their distaste for humanity revived me. Our conflict did not end peacefully.”

6) You look at your hands. How do you view yourself? “As a bloody daemon, for certain.”

7) Angel or devil? “In my life, I was angelic. Judgement awaits for what came next.”

8) How do others see you? “Most see me with their eyes. A living, naked philosopher. Like other, wise gymnosophists. My disciple Damos sees me through his heart. He is overly loyal. Indeed, he was buried and reanimated with me.”

9) Where are your possessions? “I possess nothing. Therefore, I have the possessions of all other men.”

10) Do you have a moral code? “Spread hope and enlightenment. Slay no living thing. Eat no flesh. Be free from envy, malice, and hatred. Be powerful without inspiring fear.”

11) If you could wish for anything, what would it be? “To abide by my own moral code without fail. The sacred powers, prima materia of Hermes’ Emerald Tablet, can be corrupted, however.”

12) Do you think you make a difference in your world? “Once I did. But then time passed. Now to protect some people, I am tempted to hurt others. Gods work in mysterious ways, through flesh.”

13) What do you fear? “By defending what is righteous, I introduced a new evil to the world.”

14) Which is what?  “Alchemical warfare.”

15) What do you REALLY think of your author? “S.E.? He should be less terrified of me when I visit. When I stand beside his bed, enflamed in chartreuse astral-fire, looming over his sleeping form, I mean only to convey messages. He need not swat my effigy away. He needs to chill. Not all ghosts come to haunt.”

16) What do you want to tell him? “The secrets of alchemy are wordless, conveyed best through dreams. Tonight, when light fades, and dreams wash over your vision. Peer beside your bed. See me, and I will answer you. Pray you do not see another.”

 

AUTHOR BIO

S.E. Lindberg resides near Cincinnati, Ohio working as a microscopist, employing scientific and artistic skills to understand the manufacturing of products analogous to medieval paints. Over two decades of practicing chemistry, combined with a passion for the Sword & Sorcery genre, spurs him to write graphic adventure fictionalizing the alchemical humors (primarily under the banner “Dyscrasia Fiction”).  With Perseid Press, he writes weird tales infused with history and alchemy (Heroika: Dragon EatersHeroika II: SkirmishersPirates in Hell, Lovers in Hell). S.E. Lindberg is a Managing Editor at BlackGate.com, reviewer of authors on the topic: Beauty in Weird Fiction, and co-moderates a Goodreads group focused on Sword & Sorcery.

S E Lindberg Author-site / Amazon Author Page / S E Lindberg on Goodreads / Dyscrasia Fiction on YouTube / Twitter Handle@SethLindberg

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

#Heroika: Skirmishers – Interviews – Sean Poage and His Characters #Meetanauthor

Name (Mandatory) Sean Poage

Give us a brief synopsis of your story – A Handful of Salt

At the dawn of the fourth century, BC, Cyrus the Younger hired an army of ten thousand Greek mercenaries to challenge his brother for the throne of the Persian Empire. His Greeks were victorious, but he was slain and the Greeks were stranded deep inside the Persian Empire without supplies. Their only way home was to fight their way north through the mountains of eastern Turkey to the Black Sea, as described through the eyes of one of their leaders, Xenophon.

It is considered one of the greatest feats of military history and has often been recounted and reimagined, but never through the eyes of their adversaries, the Persians, or the ancestral tribes of eastern Turkey. One event, in particular, is haunting and tragic. Today we struggle to understand the mind-set of ancient cultures, often making the mistake of seeing their world through the filter of our own values. This story is an attempt to understand a heroic perspective alien to our own.

  • Why did you choose that time period/group of people to write about?

I love ancient history and the Anabasis is fascinating, but there is not much left to say about it from the Greek side of the story. However, no one has done a piece from the point of view of the Anatolian tribes that the Greeks encountered as they struggled to get home. Why did these tribes continually attack the Greeks? Why did one village commit mass suicide when the Greeks came too close?

  • What research did you do for the story?

I always do a lot of research for my stories. The Anabasis, of course, is the primary text. I also had to determine the most likely route, which is still in dispute. Then I had determine the most likely location for the events of my story, determine the tribe that lived there, what they called themselves, how they related to their neighbours, to the Persians and so on. I love this stuff.

  • How would you define a Skirmisher?

A skirmisher is typically a lightly armed soldier who relies on speed and manoeuvrability to be effective in battle, rather than heavy armour and weapons. While the goal of heavy infantry is to come to close battle with the enemy and slog it out, skirmishers try to outmanoeuvre the enemy, hit and run, break up enemy formations, wear down the heavy soldiers and win in the long game.

  • What are the challenges in writing historical fiction/fantasy?

For me, it is getting each detail right. I can’t bear to bend history to my story. If I include it, it must be factual, or at least plausible to history.

  • What is your usual genre?

Historical fiction, so far, though I intend to do more in fantasy and scifi, eventually.

  • How do you define a hero?

To me, a hero is someone who freely and knowingly risks his or her own welfare for the benefit of another, without thought to any reward.

  • What did you want to be when you grew up?

Originally an astronaut. I was certain I would be NASA’s first kid in space. Apparently, they didn’t have my correct address. I wanted to write stories from my teens, but not much came of it. Now I am finally indulging that dream.

Character Section

1) Name Gocha

2) Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a seasoned warrior, husband and farmer. My wife and I have shared a difficult life, full of sorrows as well as blessings. Our circumstances in life have fallen low, but we have a fine heifer, two asses, some sheep and goats. But no children, anymore.

3) How do you come to be on this adventure?

Invaders from a distant land threaten our homes, so I must do my duty to protect them, and try to impart my experience on our young warriors.

4) Tell us a bit about the society in which you live

We are an ancient people, attuned to the rugged mountains of our ancestors. We sing, dance, tend our farms and pastures and raise our children to respect the ancient ways. We have no towns larger than a few dwellings, but impenetrable strongholds on the mountainsides. We wage no wars on those who leave us be, but we fight unto death against any who threaten us. The Taochi Never Submit is our creed, and never have we been conquered.

5) Are you brave?

What is bravery? Is it the thoughtless lack of fear? I have known dreadful fear, but have never shrunk from my duty.

6) How do others see you?

I do not care.

7) Do you believe in a god?

Of course. They have little to do with us mortals, but our ancestors are with us, always. They watch over us, judge us, and if we are worthy, will welcome us to their company when this life ends.

8) Do you love anyone? Do you hate anyone?

I love my wife, Bedisa. She is wise, kind, and stronger in spirit than anyone I have ever known. I love my loyal friend, Temur. I love my daughter, who I may not name since she has become a handmaiden to the Wife of the Dead. Or perhaps the Wife, herself. I love my three sons, who have already joined our ancestors. I hate no one.

AUTHOR BIO (short)

Sean Poage, has had an exciting and varied life, as a laborer, soldier, police officer, investigator, computer geek and author. Travelling the world to see history up close is his passion.

These days he works in the tech world, writes when he can, and spends the rest of the time with his family, which usually means chores and home improvement projects, with occasional time for a motorcycle ride, scuba dive, or a hike in the beautiful Maine outdoors.

 

 

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far-flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

Featured

New Release – Heroika Skirmishers

Heroika: Skirmishers

Conflict is a constant. When force on force is inevitable only the intrepid need come forth. Summon the Skirmishers to their eternal purpose, to face a foe who must be opposed at all cost. Gird yourself and join the brotherhood of ‘do or die.’ HEROIKA: SKIRMISHERS is an anthology of desperate struggles in far-flung time-scapes, the age-old smell of battle and death. SKIRMISHERS –Tales for the bold among you!

https://www.amazon.com/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Heroika-Skirmishers-Janet-Morris-ebook/dp/B085N7XZLZ/

HABIRU by Michael H. Hanson.

A HANDFUL OF SALT by Sean Poage.

THE NAKED DAEMON by S.E. Lindberg.

SOULS OF A LION by Tom Barczak.

NITHING by Travis Ludvigson.

IN THE SEASON OF RUST by Charles Gramlich.

BLACK QUILL by Cas Peace.

OLD GOLD by A.L. Butcher

A LION IN KAMERUN By Ken Kiser

THE PATROL by William Hiles.

LA PORTE EN ARRIERE by Beth W. Patterson.

DURENDAL by Bruce Durham..

Heroika 2 1.2 FINAL JPG

There will be interviews with the characters and authors to follow.

Shake Off the Winter Doldrums Book Fest

Are you suffering from the winter doldrums? I’ve discovered the cure at N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Shake Off Winter Doldrums Book Festival. 33 books featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Shake Off Winter Doldrums Graphic 1

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Direct Link:

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775050

Open internationally

Runs March 1 – 31

Drawing will be held on April 1.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book,  Here Be Elves, will be featured on 28th March. Wait until you read my cure for winter doldrums. You won’t want to miss it.

Shake Off Winter Doldrums Book Festival IG 1

Bookmark this festival and tell your friends:

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/bookpromos/categories/shake-off-winter-doldrums

Book Series Mini Starter Event 13-17th Jan

Check out some of the authors and their series in the event below.

Event Link

Rafflecopter Direct Link

Enter to win a book bundle of all 35 books featured in the Book Series Starter Event.

Open Internationally.

Runs January 13 – 17, 2020.

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92db775046

Book Series Starter Event Graphic.png

Schedule (All times are North America East Coast Time or EST) –

Monday 1/13

Livia Quinn (Calloways)

Brenda Whiteside

Judith Sterling (Ravenwood)

Petie McCarty (Cinderella)

Julie Rowe (Viable)

Claire Marti

Jami Gray (Hunted)

Jessica James

Tuesday 1/14

Marie Tuhart

Kimberly Dean

Anna Lores

Meredith Bond

Wednesday 1/15

Livia Quinn (Destiny)

Tena Stetler

Vivienne Brereton

Julie Rowe (Deadly)

Helen C. Johannes

Jami Gray (Shadows)

Kerry Blaisdell

P.J. MacLayne

Thursday 1/16

Laura Strickland

Willa Blair

Judith Sterling (Cauldron)

Petie McCarty (Angel)

Mary Morgan

Alina K. Field

Gini Rifkin

Ilona Fridl

Friday 1/17

A.L. Butcher

Peggy Jaeger

McKenna Grey

Jennifer Wilck

Debra Elizabeth

Tammy L. Bailey

Susan Payne

 

 

 

 

Chameleon – Blog Tour – Paranormal

Chameleon
by Zoe Kalo
Genre: YA Paranormal Psychological Suspense
FIVE GIRLS. AN ISOLATED CONVENT. A SUPERNATURAL PRESENCE. A DARK SECRET.
SHORTLISTED for the 2017 Dante Rossetti Awards for Young Adult Fiction!
I can’t believe it has come to this. The way things have blown out of proportion. I only wanted to contact my dead father. Ask his forgiveness.
Seven months.
Seven months isn’t that long, is it?
I’ll go through the motions, no need to make friends that I’ll never see again. When you get close to people, you end up getting hurt.
Puerto Rico, 1973
17-year-old Paloma only wanted to hold a séance to contact her dead father. She never thought she would be kicked out of school and end up in an isolated convent. Now, all she wants is to be left alone. But slowly, she develops a bond with a group of girls: kind-hearted Maria, insolent Silvy, pathological liar Adelita, and their charismatic leader Rubia.
At night, the waterfall’s dark music haunts her dreams of drowning…
When Paloma holds another séance, she accidentally awakens an entity that has been dormant for years. The body count begins. Someone doesn’t want the secret out…
Are the ghost and Paloma’s suspicions real—or only part of her growing paranoia and delusions?
If you love the vibes in “The Orphanage,” “The Craft” and “Pretty Little Liars,” you’ll enjoy this mess-with-your-head, YA supernatural/psychological thriller!
A certified bookworm, Zoe Kalo has always been obsessed with books and reading. Reading led to writing—compulsively. No surprise that at 16, she wrote her first novel, which her classmates read and passed around secretly. The pleasure of writing and sharing her fantasy worlds has stayed with her, so now she wants to pass her stories to you with no secrecy—but with lots of mystery…
She’s had the good fortune of living on 3 continents, learning 4 languages, and experiencing a multicultural life. She holds a BA in Creative Writing and an MA in Comparative Literature. She lives in Belgium with her husband and two evil cats.
$25 cash paypal
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

 

Excerpt 1:

I cannot clearly say how I had entered

the wood; I was so full of sleep just at

the point where I abandoned the true path.

–Dante Alighieri, Inferno 1. 11-12

 

Chapter 1

 

Puerto Rico, 1973

 

Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss embraced us from both sides, but not enough to shield us from the prison that would be my home for the next seven months. The high stone walls and neo-Gothic bell tower loomed over us as my stepfather drove his Mercedes through the spiked iron gates and into the sloping, curving driveway.

A spider of dread crawled up my back. Prison indeed.

I couldn’t believe it had come to this. The way things had blown out of proportion. I’d only wanted to contact my dead father. Ask his forgiveness.

My mother reached for my hand from the front seat without turning around to look at me. I stared at her perfectly polished red nails and the glittery square cut emerald on her ring finger. Her fingers flicked, silently pleading for my attention, but I was frozen inside. Her hand retreated.

I stared at the convent, my eyes studying the dark arched windows, the worn, age-blackened stones. The place looked haunted. Perfect for my state of mind. What was my mother thinking?

Something moved behind one of the windows. A face. For an instant my pulse raced at the sheer paleness of it, at the two dark holes that made up its eyes.

“What are you looking at?” Sara, my six-year-old half sister, asked.

I pointed. “A girl.”

She followed my line of vision. “Where?”

“There. High up. In the window.”

She dipped her head so she could have a better look. “I don’t see anything.”

            I felt a shiver, but not from the cold. It’s white. It’s watching us.

Then the car moved too close to the building, and the face vanished from view.

“Is this your new school, Paloma?” Sara asked.

I nodded. Sara was the child, female version of my stepfather. Her bottomless dark eyes, framed by velvety lashes, stared at me with misery. “I don’t like it,” she whispered, grabbing my hand.

“It’ll be okay,” I whispered back, and gave her hand a little squeeze.

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“Well, here we are,” Domenico said in his strong Castilian accent, stopping the car in front of the entrance. He climbed out and opened the door for my mother. Then he proceeded to take out my suitcases from the trunk.

My mother was silent. She stepped out like a wooden mannequin, her eyes shimmery with unshed tears.

I climbed out, followed by Sara, the gravel crunching under our shoes. The early morning air was cool and a blanket of mist still lingered—not surprising, since the convent was on the outskirts of El Yunque, the island’s rain forest. More Spanish moss hung from the oak trees and rippled in the breeze like long, shivering memories. I could smell the dew on the leaves and the rich perfume of moist earth, redolent of open graves.

I glanced at the ominous clouds. “Beautiful morning.”

An ongoing distant hum resonated all around us. One, two beats passed, before it struck me: Waterfall.

Something within me shut down—or exploded, I couldn’t be sure.

I shut my eyes for a second, wiping out memories of chilled water searing my lungs.

I repeated the eighth multiplication table in my head.

“After you,” Domenico said, interrupting my thoughts.

I wanted to loathe him. Tried to, anyway. I could see what my mother saw in him: a powerfully charismatic, handsome man with the infinite skill to make people do his bidding. My mother, with her small delicate features and petite frame, looked invisible beside him. A mere spectre. But that was just a façade. I knew better.

The big oak door opened and a nun clad in black habit and a wimple came down the steps to greet us.

Sara wrapped her arms around my waist. Her gesture both comforted me and heightened my anxiety. Nuns in habit made me think of great black birds.

“Bienvenidos,” the nun said. Like my stepfather, she also had a Castilian accent. “I’m Madre Estela and I’m second in charge to Madre Superiora. You must be Señor and Señora de Aznar.”

They exchanged small talk. Madre Estela sounded polite enough, but she didn’t offer to shake hands with my parents, which I found strange. Maybe nuns weren’t allowed to shake hands. I wouldn’t be surprised. I noticed the wedding band on her ring finger. Married to God. Absurd.

“You must be Paloma,” she said tonelessly.

“Yes,” I said. Wasn’t it obvious? I didn’t know what else to say.

The cross on her chest caught my attention. It had a crucified Christ on it and I noticed the thorns cutting Christ’s forehead, the little drops of blood glistening on His fragile body.

“Welcome to our school, Paloma.” Her critical gaze scrutinized my makeup, my tight jeans. “I’ve heard much about you.”

I didn’t miss the hint of cold disapproval in her voice. I wasn’t sure how much my parents had complained about my behavior, but considering I had been kicked out—well, actually, kindly asked to leave—my previous school in the middle of October, it couldn’t be good.

“Are you ready to resume your senior year of high school?” Stress on resume.

“I can’t wait,” I said. There was no point in being nice—or pretending to be. That just wasn’t me. I felt miserable and couldn’t hide it. Besides, I could tell from our short exchange that she’d made up her mind not to like me long before meeting me, and I had the sinking feeling that no matter what I said or did, her opinion wouldn’t change. I had already been stamped in her Inquisition book, tagged a criminal.

Madre Estela’s stony eyes moved to Sara. My little sister’s arms clutched my waist even tighter. From the nun’s expression, I could tell she was wondering if I had infected Sara with whatever plague ailed me. She dismissed us and turned back to my mother and stepfather. “Madre Superiora is expecting you in her office.  Let’s not keep her waiting, shall we not? Don’t concern yourselves with the suitcases. Someone will come for them shortly.”

They thanked her and followed her up the steps.

“I don’t want to go in,” Sara said.

“It’ll be okay,” I said. I glanced at the window. I wanted to see the pale face again. But there was nothing.

A drop of rain hit my cheek and I wiped it off. Then I held Sara’s hand and together we walked up the steps and through the arched doorway.

I felt my throat closing up.

            Seven months.

Seven months wasn’t that long, was it? Besides, Thanksgiving break was just around the corner. Six weeks, to be exact. I had already marked my calendar. I couldn’t wait. I would go through the motions, no need to make friends that I’d never see again. When you get close to people, you end up getting hurt.

 

Excerpt 2 (from Chapter 9):

Madre Estela remained standing by the door. “Get a bucket and fill it with water.”

Her hypercritical eyes sliced through my self-worth as I grabbed one of the metal buckets, lifted it into the sink, and turned on the faucet. I watched, transfixed, as the water gushed like a torrent spurting from an open artery. The cold spray raised goosebumps on my arms.

Madre Estela snapped her fingers. “Move.”

As I hauled the bucket to the door, some of the water slushed over the edge and splattered to the floor.

“Add the detergent,” she said stiffly, irritated by my clumsiness.

I chose a green bottle, twisted the cap, and poured. The acrid pine smell stung my nostrils.

“Get a sponge and a brush from there. Get going. We don’t have all evening—unless you want to work in the dark.”

I gritted my teeth, but pretended not to be bothered. I suspected that the one thing that this nun couldn’t stand was indifference.

Outside, it was almost dusk. In spite of the intense screeching of the coquíes, the drum of the waterfall hit my ears. It was louder now than the last time I’d been here. How was that possible?

I felt a drop of rain. Great.

Madre Estela put one hand out, palm up. “My, my. What’s this?” She looked chagrined, and I suddenly realized why. If it rained, I would have to go inside, ruining her plans. “What are you standing there for? Start scrubbing.”

I was tempted to throw the bucket of greenish water at her face. Instead, I prayed for rain as I walked across the rose garden. Once at the gate, I glanced back at her.

“You’ll work until I come for you, understood?” she said, hands on hips in her usual stance. She pointed to one of the second-floor windows. “I’ll be watching from there.”

And that was it. She was gone.

For a moment I just stood there. If only my friends could see me now. They would never believe it.

I opened the gate and walked into the graveyard. The statue of Gabriel greeted me, its face fiercer in the dusk. The temperature must have been in the low seventies. I was glad I had my cardigan.

Suddenly, the garden lamp post lit up. I turned, startled. I wasn’t sure if it had automatically switched on or if someone, maybe Madre Estela, had done it from indoors. I glanced up at the second-floor window, expecting to find her face. I had the chilling sensation of being watched. There was nothing. The windows glowed with yellow light, a multitude of feral eyes keeping guard.

However, behind one of the ground-floor windows on the right, a figure appeared. Tall, blurred. Madre Superiora? I was sure that was her office. Yet, something about the shape of the head and the shoulders made me think of…Rubia. What was she doing in Madre Superiora’s office?

Just as abruptly as it’d appeared, the figure vanished from view.

The incident left me strangely unsettled.

Focus.

I splashed some of the water on one of the tombstones and got to work. The sound of hard bristles against stone blocked the hum of the waterfall. Almost.

Go away, damn it. 

As I crouched to work on a second tombstone, doing my best not to get wet in the process, something shifted at the edge of my vision. I jumped to my feet, my heart thudding. Gabriel. Its wings had rippled with movement.

Dear God…what’s happening to me?

I rubbed my forehead and grimaced, my fingers shaking.

I felt another drop of rain. If it was going to rain, why didn’t it? The sky was playing with me, too. Mocking me.

I cursed the clouds and started scrubbing again.

I had another sensation of being watched and this time, yes, it was Madre Estela behind the window. I pretended I hadn’t seen her and tried to keep focused on the task at hand.  The water had turned blackish with grime.

I don’t know how long I scrubbed. I lost track of time. But it was dark. My back and shoulders were sore and my hands stung from the harsh detergent.

Madre Estela was long gone from the window.

Half panting, I sat down on the edge of the tombstone and tossed the brush aside in disgust. I looked at the statue again, but it was motionless. I turned to the windows again, my eyes slowly moving from one to the other.

From one to the other.

Expecting to see the face. Wanting to see it.

Nothing.

Yet, that weird sensation of being watched, again.

My gaze shifted to the woods, to the exact place where the cemetery ended and the forest started. There was a path there. Narrow, obscured by the trees. For a long moment I sat, mesmerized. Then I stood up and began to approach it. The breeze picked up as I got closer, carrying with it the cool, slightly pungent smell of the waterfall.

I stopped at the very edge, the darkness enveloping me, the dampness seeping through my clothes.

The wind sighed, rustling the leaves and fluttering my hair.

Icy breath, on the back of my neck.

I’m in here… a voice whispered from the shadows.

I spun around in terror.

Then I hit something hard.

 

Excerpt 3 (from Chapter 11):

 

The foliage swallowed me. Sodden leaves gave under my shoes. Twisted limbs and giant ferns reached out to scratch my arms, my legs.

“Adelita!” I called, hastening my pace.

Flash of white ahead.

“Adelita!” No response. “Damn it. It’s getting freaking dark!”

Voices? I halted, panting.

Then broke into a run again. The mist, carried by the waterfall, clung to my lashes, my cheeks, my lips. I tasted its bitterness on my tongue.

Giggling.

“I’m here!” Adelita called.

I slowed my pace. Toward the end of the path, fibrous vines hung from branches like a curtain of snakes. I pushed them aside and staggered forward. Slowly, I looked up.

Against the blackening sky, the monster roared, cradled by twisted, stunted trunks and wisps of fog, looming over me in all its brutal magnificence. Its crystalline waters gushed ferociously, cascading into a murky, swirling pool that spiraled into a descending rock-studded stream gurgling with white iridescent foam.

A cloud of spray enveloped me, cold and impersonal like the wings of some giant bat. Had it not been for one of the vines, I would have fallen to my knees.

Cold water, sucking me down, searing my throat, my eyes. Can’t see, can’t breathe; his hands grab me; blackness, like tar, steals its way down my lungs, spreading its web and filling every corner, every crevice; utter agony before oblivion settles—  

The sight of Adelita, standing at the edge of the pool, shook me out of my trance. She was very still, her skirt puffing from the thundering falls.

“Step back!” I shouted.

Slowly, Adelita lifted her arm and pointed to the center of the waterfall. “She’s in there.”

“Who?” When she didn’t answer, I answered for her. “The ghost? Your invisible friend?”

Adelita lowered her arm. She seemed to have fallen into one of her sudden spells.

“Is that who you were speaking to?” I said urgently.

She was silent.

“Adelita,” I coaxed. She was about ten yards from me. I took one step toward her, my toes curling. “Please… step back.”

“She wants to speak to us,” Adelita said, moving closer to the edge.

“What’s wrong with you? Stop!”

She turned her head to look at me. When she smiled, her teeth looked unnaturally white, as if the iridescence of the foamy water reflected on them.

I edged a little closer and extended my hand. “Please.” I clenched my teeth. “I can’t come any closer,” I said, stressing each word. I squeezed my eyes shut, willing reality to go away, willing it all to be a nightmare. But when I opened my eyes, Adelita’s toes stood just over the edge. For an instant, as if suspended, she seemed to sway, before she opened her wings like an angel about to take flight.

“No!” I sprang forward and seized her arm. She twisted, lost her balance and clutched at my gold chain—“No!”—The gold snapped. I grabbed her shirt and jerked her toward me. We staggered in a drunken embrace before stumbling to the ground. My hand groped wildly around my neck, but my pendant, the most precious object I possessed, was gone. I searched for it on my hands and knees, my flesh sinking into the cold, wet earth.

Then I stood and stared hard at her.

Smudged with dirt, she sagged against a moss-covered boulder. “It’s in there,” she said, her gaze lowered, pointing to the water.

“How do you know?”

“I saw it fall,” she said.

A jolt of nausea hit me and I held my stomach. “That can’t be.”

I stared at the swirling pool and thought I saw it twinkling in the depths. I squeezed my eyes shut—for an eternity, it seemed—before I spun and grabbed Adelita and shook her violently. “You’re lying! That’s what you do. You lie.” I kept shaking her. I wanted to hurt her, hurt her. That was the only way to ease my pain.

She started whimpering, in a manner not unlike my sister Sara. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she kept saying.

I shoved her away and reeled backwards. I felt breathless, delirious.

I glanced one more time at the swirling pool, before I grasped her muddy hand and we headed back. She didn’t resist, an obedient, repentant little child.

By the time we got back to the graveyard, it was already dark. The lamp post cast an iridescent glow on the white roses and tombstones.

To my dismay, Madre Estela had just stepped out of the garden gate and was marching in our direction. With the light behind her, her face was a black mask. But her chin was high and her stride purposeful.

As if out of habit, she went for Adelita first. “What are you doing here? You haven’t done any of your chores.”

I stepped forward and shielded Adelita with my arm. “This isn’t her fault,” I said quickly. “I told her to come and help me.”

She bared her teeth. “Help do what?” she said, her eyes sweeping over our dirt-covered hair and clothes.

“We heard voices coming from there,” I said, gesturing. “We thought one of the girls had gotten lost, so we decided to take a look.”

This made her pause, but only for an instant—before her hand came down, hard and brutal. I staggered backwards, more from shock than pain. No one had ever slapped me before. I touched my burning cheek and just stared at her.

“Voices here, voices there,” she said, disgusted, as if she couldn’t stand to hear more of it. “There are no voices, do you understand? No voices,” she repeated, as if she were trying to convince herself of the fact. “You should know better than listen to Adelita’s lies.”

Adelita didn’t even flinch when Madre Estela twisted her ear. I thought she was going to wrench it off her head right in front of my eyes.

“Pick up the things and go change immediately, both of you,” she ordered, “before you catch pneumonia.”

Before we went inside, I glanced back at Madre Estela. The vegetation rose up behind her, dark and menacing. Her eyes seemed strangely unfocused. She was clutching her wooden cross and murmuring a prayer. A gust of wind rattled the branches.

 

 

 

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