The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

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Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian’s disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian’s captivating ex-lover. After two years’ absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen’s affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation… with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

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About The Author:
I am a storyteller, eager to transport the reader to strange yet familiar worlds. My writing is dark, fantastical, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, and other times hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. I write science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, and several shades in between.

I am a husband and a father, living in the “wine country” of central Maryland. I’m surrounded by grapevines and cows. During the day I commute to Baltimore, and somehow manage to escape each afternoon with only minor scrapes and bruises. I am also a homebrewer and a certified beer judge. My avocations dovetail nicely!

See J.P. Sloan’s Website.

Review: Small Town Monsters by Craig Nybo

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Mayhem explodes when monsters mix with guns, rednecks and beer. Craig Nybo’s second novel, Small Town Monsters, visits the town of DePalma Beach, Montana, a peaceful lake community with a five-star rating in any tour travel guide. Monster hunter isn’t in the job description when Kurt McCammus, a Los Angeles homicide detective, leaves the big city and all its violence behind to take a job as chief of police in DePalma Beach. He falls in love with the clean air and peaceful community. That is until a local rancher finds 50 head of sheep mutilated on his spread. The people of DePalma Beach turn to superstitions, believing that monsters have caused the mutilations. Chupacabras, bigfoot, aliens, werewolves, and wendigos all make the suspect list. Kurt must get to the bottom of the mutilations while keeping the good ol’ boys of DePalma Beach from hitting the woods all liquored up for a monster hunt. The pressure escalates when bodies begin to stack up. As Kurt investigates the murders, even his sense of reason wavers. Could it be true that DePalma Beach is crawling with monsters?

Review: I always love a good werewolf story, and this one is great! As the small towns of America are disappearing, this book captures a slice of Americana. The werewolves are anything but typical, generating a horror story that I couldn’t put down. Five Stars!

The author, Craig Nybo, is one of the most talented, fun and nice people I’ve met. He’s one of the Space Balrogs, and he beat me in the last game of Choose Your Own Apocalypse by only a narrow margin. I highly recommend this book.

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Escape From Witchwood Hollow by Jordan Elizabeth

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How far into the hollow would you go?

After losing her parents in a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria escapes New York City to Arnn—a farming town with more legends than residents, and a history of witchcraft and secrets best left buried.

Everyone in Arnn knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope when she should be afraid, and a past of missing children and broken promises. To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness. How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?

ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW is Jordan Elizabeth’s first novel. This young adult fantasy will be published through Curiosity Quills Press on October 29, 2014.

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Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, can’t get enough of the woods, be it splashing through a stream, sitting beneath an ancient oak, or following a path up a hill. Some of those adventures have led to abandoned foundations. Exploring the rocks and crumbling bricks sparked Jordan to imagine who might have lived there before, and that train of thought carried her to a wicked legend and an enchanted hollow. You can contact Jordan via her website.

You don’t have to wait for October 29th to explore Witchwood Hollow. Jordan Elizabeth is offering up a free eArc. To enter for your chance to win a copy of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, you will need to share the cover. This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper to record it. It will give you more chances to win. The drawing for the winner will be held on October 20th.

The Best Art

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Some time ago I lamented what seemed to be The Disappearance of Imagination. Since that time I’ve talked to many people about it and read a few things on the subject, like this blog post. I realized in a conversation with my friend, R. A. Baxter, which happens to me a lot, that I have a new and more positive spin on humanity’s creative prospects for the future.

I know people who have gotten “stuck” in the past. Whether they find a decade of music they listen to exclusively or prefer classic movies, they believe the best of something is behind us. However, I’ve come to the opposite conclusion. The best art is in front of us.

The music now isn’t 100% awesome, true. But some of it is. And not all the music back when was wonderful. There have been some great movies in the past, but the best movies are yet to be made. The special effects will evolve. The writing will keep improving. The technology will make more and more immersive and amazing screenplays.

Another example is classical music. The orchestrated soundtracks now being produced are stunning. They are the best orchestra music ever made.

The exception might be painting. It’s possible the best painters are all behind us now… partly because so much of art has moved to the digital realm. The verdict is still out on that one. :P

Books, my art of choice, have definitely improved. As much as I love Tolkien’s works, they are too slow for today’s readers. Some people may say we have a shorter attention span. No doubt. The real reason, though, is because we as a society have grown. We stand on the shoulders of giants like Tolkien and improve on what they’ve done. So we get high fantasy, deep world building, and fast paced. Win-win!

I admit, I was once tempted to make a thorough study of classical Russian literature. Now, however, I realize the game has moved ahead. The Olympic records will continue to be broken. Likewise, the books and other art evolve. We can easily absorb the long advances of the past. It’s part of being human. What took decades or centuries to grow to maturity is the starting point for today’s artists. Any horror writer who can’t at least match Stephen King, has got to up their game. Because the bar keeps raising.

This can be frustrating. As I wrote many novels before the ones I published, I often felt discouraged, trying to rise to the ridiculously high standards of professional art in this modern age. I sympathized with punk rock’s DIY attitude and rejection of higher skill sets in favor of the raw power of a strong voice. It was probably just me trying to make myself feel better.

I still don’t think I’ve gained the heights I need to. What I have is a perspective. This journey of a lifetime is so much more exciting, because I have such elevated shoulders to stand on. The mountains are higher, but so are the vistas.

The best books are yet to be written!

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends

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The Enchanted Bookstore Legends
Book One: Seeking a Scribe
Book Two: Heritage Avenged
Book Three: Lost Volumes
Book Four: Staurolite
Book Five: Quintessence

By Marsha A. Moore

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her.

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.

Look it up on Goodreads.

Get book one on Amazon.

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The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is a registered yoga teacher. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!

Don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter and win great prizes!

The Actuator 1.5: Borderlands Anthology

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The latest Actuator book is finally out! The first anthology I’ve edited… I’m extremely happy with how it turned out. 15 authors writing in the Actuator world, and all over the world, make an amazing addition to the series. My own story, Cult of the Actuation, continues the main story line with Dragon Star on a solo mission. My story art is below.

The contributing authors have been awesome! One of them, Wilbert Stanton, made the book trailer for the anthology. Another, Mara Valdarran, posted a summary of every story along with author bios and interior art if you want to get a really great overview of the book. Or you can check it out on Goodreads.

Whether you’re a fan of the Actuator after reading book 1, or just a fan of incredible short fiction, this book is for you!

Also, don’t forget to join the Facebook Release Party this Saturday. Lots of prizes including CD’s, autographed paperbacks, and gift certificates.

Also, I updated The Actuator Borderlands Role-playing game manual.

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Playing for Keeps by Elsie Elmore

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The Undead

When an undead woman with serious de-comp issues stalks sixteen-year-old Lyla Grimm, her hope of rescuing her rock-bottom reputation takes a back seat. Survival definitely trumps the in-crowd.

Her corpse-following scare reeks of a major prank and coincides with the arrival of Eric. He’s the hot new guitarist in her brother’s band. But Eric’s arrival isn’t by chance. He’s a Grim Reaper dispatched to find out why Death’s clients aren’t staying down.

As Eric realizes that Lyla can wake the dead, he jockeys for control of her gift. His uncanny way of appearing when she needs him most earns her reluctant admiration. But the closer he gets to Lyla, the less sure he is of his plan. The dead are easier to deal with than living emotions.

Gossip explodes, the Grimm family implodes, and desperation sets in. Death wants the gift and a soul. Lyla and Eric face hard choices with hidden consequences. Sometimes life’s choices aren’t really choices at all.

Or buy your copy here: Amazon Barnes & Noble

Elsie Elmore

Elsie Elmore lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

With a science education degree, she never imagined she would someday write stories that challenge the laws of nature. She loves the color red, has an appreciation for chocolate and coffee that borders on obsession, and wishes fall temperatures would linger year round.

Elsie is a member of several writing organizations: RWA, SCBWI, and WSW. The Undead : Playing for Keeps is her debut novel. Find her on the web: on twitter at @ElsieWriter, her blog at elsieelmore.com.