Ring in the New Year… with mutants (of course!)

Books fill my dreams and consume my waking thoughts. I long to be surrounded by piles of books–old and new, spines bursting through overuse, water-stained from reading in the bathtub, falling open to gorgeous illustrations, and Kindles challenging their electronic memories with thousands upon thousands of ebooks.

So, obviously, I begin the New Year with literary thoughts, including looking forward to the third installment of the Mutant series. And the good news is that the first in the series, LOVE, LATTES, AND MUTANTS, which also happens to be my favorite, is currently on sale for ninety-nine cents through Jan. 31! It’s a fun frolic, packed with high-school angst, a mutant heroine boasting super-hero abilities, and a delicious love interest. Read my review here.

Description

Finding love is hard, even when you aren’t a mutant.

Like most seventeen-year-olds, Piper Dunn wants to blend in with the crowd. Having a blowhole is a definite handicap. A product of a lab-engineered mother with dolphin DNA, Piper spends her school days hiding her brilliant ocean-colored eyes and sea siren voice behind baggy clothing and ugly glasses. When Tyler, the new boy in school, zeroes in on her, ignoring every other girl vying for his attention, no one, including Piper, understands why…

Then Piper is captured on one of her secret missions rescuing endangered sea creatures and ends up in the same test center where her mother was engineered. There she discovers she isn’t the only one of her kind. Joel is someone she doesn’t have to hide from, and she finds herself drawn to the dolph-boy who shares her secrets. Talking to him is almost as easy as escaping from the lab. Deciding which boy has captured her heart is another story…

Warning: Mutants, dolphins and hottie boys

About the author

Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast.

Links:

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Holiday Book Alert: Santa’s Sleigh-Train makes the perfect gift

Santa's SleighColor and creativity burst from the pages in the charmingly whimsical picture book, Santa’s Sleigh-Train, written by Dorinda Shelley with illustrations by Nora Hutton. Simply put, it’s the perfect holiday gift for both children and adults, transporting readers to a magical, wintry world through Nora’s enchanting artwork.

An author, as well as an artist, Nora has illustrated several books, including Sea Turtle’s Journey, which she also wrote. The lyrical text matches the playfulness of the illustrations, making it another excellent gift idea.

So I was thrilled when Nora agreed to stop by my blog to share her books, artwork, and answer a few questions…SeaTurtle-CoverWeb

Tell me a bit about your journey as an artist?

I began illustrating children’s books about fourteen years ago. The first books I illustrated were for retired dermatologist and writer Dorinda Shelley. Our collaboration led to a series of three books, each introducing a science topic, namely Helium. The inclusion of Dorinda’s farmette, where she and her husband raised their three children, provided a setting for the books. These people, animals, and their four-pillar house began my career as an illustrator.

Most writers and artists can name people and/or events from their childhood that have influenced their art… Does anything from that time period stand out for you?

HeliumEggAs a child my family traveled, and I was exposed to museums, different countries, and outdoor places. My father was a curator in museums and my mother was a librarian.

I began scribbling and doodling at an early age.  My father used to donate the cardboard from his new shirt purchases to my juvenile efforts at drawing.  My mother and father gave us fantastic coloring books replete with Kings and Queens. I can’t say I always stayed within the lines, but it gave me the opportunity to aim for something elite.

In school my first color sense came from a French class I had in kindergarten.  I remember sitting in an attic classroom at Ibstock Place in London.  I remember learning colors and the French words for each, via a colors-specific magic-marker dot placed adjacent to the word on a white board.

I also had a nice bookshelf full of books by different authors and illustrators who continue to inspire me: Beatrix Potter, Maurice Sendak, Tasha Tutor, and Eric Carle, and more.

turtle-sample-2
From Sea Turtle’s Journey

How about when you were older? Any junior high or high school teachers that were  memorable?

In junior high school I had an art teacher named Martin Nagy.  He ran a terrific art room with all kinds of things like a potters wheel, enameling and embossing equipment, and regular things like pencils, crayons, and ink to create with.  He even set us up with silkscreening and type-facing stuff.

In high school I had another good teacher named David Burkett.  He had us do wonderful projects where we learned how to think more, design more, and I enjoyed the art room which is now the Wolfe Gallery at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo, Ohio. I recently had my first exhibition there.

TorontoandNedWhat medium do you prefer to work with and why?

I mostly work in pencil and watercolor.  I enjoy pastels. both chalk and oil.  I always feel there is lots to explore and feel inspiration comes from many things.  I think children’s books are a wonderful medium for reasons that I continue to affirm in my work as a substitute teacher.

The variety of children’s wishes, wants, and needs–their ways of coping in a world where they are learning so many things–makes the possibility of communication through pages, enhanced by colorfully-illustrated pictures, an extraordinary thing to do for a living.

Outside of illustrating, what other areas of the art world have you explored?

I worked for a few years as an apprentice art conservator.  I worked with three men who taught me some things about materials, the handling, restoration and conservation of objects and sculptures.  One summer I went to Italy to work on a dig of Etruscan Art in Tuscany. A town nearby opened a museum which housed the work excavated from the dig.  I used to stroll in the beautiful fields spotted with poppies, big round hay mounds, bright green grass, ladies dressed in black, and men sitting at cafes drinking at sundown. I started a children’s book then and stuffed its unfinished pages away somewhere in my luggage. I was told by mentors that I was good with my hands.  I kept that thought in mind and then after some consultation with a few other people I decided to pick up my paints and pad and follow my pencil and brush into the world of children’s illustration and other art creations I make with my hands and heart.

HeliumTableDo you have any upcoming projects planned… illustrations or other artwork?

I hope to make a few books in the coming years.  I have ideas for children’s books, which I keep on a list in a notebook. I am engaged to be married in June, and my fiance Kevin Radwanski and I are taking a trip west with our camper and two dogs. Perhaps this will provide inspiration for a children’s book.

My friend and collaborator in the children’s book, The Lakeside Symphony Comes To Town, Amy Heritage, is a flautist.  She and I have performed a few readings.  She plays flute while we show images from the book and simultaneously I read the text.  I would like to do more of these readings.

When approaching an illustrating project, how do you begin? What’s your process? 

I look through books I take a lot of walks or go running, absorb nature and maybe something will come to me while I cook or begin sketching.  I have a good grasp of art history, and I like to go to galleries and museums.  

HeliumHeelsI begin to work as quickly as I can, juggling my first few ideas to create a dozen or so more.  If I am collaborating, I read the text, make notes, and then develop illustrations through the extrapolation of images that filter through my mind.

I might listen to music, make a palette and begin to fill my paper with what is satisfying to me and my watercolor dreams. I never forget the young audience who may later look upon my completed effort, as somehow they are always near.

Who needs a partridge in a pear tree when you’ve got Ten Zany Birds?

Forget about partridges in a pear tree, turtle doves, and French hens… What the holidays really need are Ten Zany Birds, the charming picture book by author and musician Sherry Ellis.

TenZanyBirdsSo I’m thrilled that Sherry stopped by for an interview to talk about her work–from inspiration and favorite books to superpowers and travel destinations.

And now here’s Sherry…

Tell me a little about the title–how did you come up with it? 

I knew the book would be a counting book about birds, so “Ten” and “Birds” were no-brainers. The question was what adjective should be used to describe the birds. I made a list – “silly,” “little,” “funny,”… and finally came up with “zany.” I like the word because it’s different and sounds fun. I realize it’s not a word most preschoolers are familiar with, but after discussing it with my critique group, I decided if kids didn’t know it, they could ask an adult and learn a new word. (Zany means funny, in a crazy or silly way.)

If you had to choose only one writer as a mentor, who would that be?

Diana Jenkins, author of Stepping Stones: The Comic Collection, Now You’re Cooking, and several other books, has literally been my mentor. She was part of my critique group when I lived in Ohio. She has this great ability to see plot holes and generate helpful ideas for polishing manuscripts. I have learned so much from her, and I am extremely grateful for what she has taught me.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I have always been an avid reader with a vivid imagination. My first stories were written when I was eight years old. I still have a few of those manuscripts. Writing was one of the ways I entertained myself.

Where did your love of books come from? And what were some of your favorite books when you were a child?

My mom always read to me when I was little. That’s where it started. We didn’t have computers and video games when I was growing up, so I read books to keep myself busy.

I enjoyed the Nancy Drew mysteries. I couldn’t get enough of them! One of my first favorite books was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. The imagination of the author captivated me.

What did you enjoy most about writing Ten Zany Birds?

Coming up with things that would distract the birds and make them leave the party, was the most fun. I imagined what the illustrations would look like as I came up with the various scenarios. Illustrator, Charu Jain, did a great job bringing it all to life.

What are some of your interests outside of writing?

I am a professional musician, so I enjoy playing the violin, viola, and piano. Outside of that, I like exploring the great outdoors – hiking, SCUBA diving – and seeing new places.

And now for a few goofy questions…

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be?

A peacock. Not because they’re pretty – female peacocks aren’t – but because they get to roam around wherever they want, and aren’t stuck in an enclosure. Being stuck in one place would drive me crazy!

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

It’s on my bucket list. I hope to get there in about five years. I’d like to dive the Great Barrier Reef, attend a concert at the Sydney Opera House, and hold a koala bear (because they’re cute!).

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to teleport anywhere at will. I’d be able to see and do so much more if I could!

~~~~~

And that’s a superpower I think everyone can relate to… Continue reading for more information about Ten Zany Birds and Sherry Ellis.

Synopsis

Ten zany birds have a party in a tree, singing and dancing. Five have stripes, three have spots, and one has purple polka dots. They’re all having fun, but one by one, they become distracted.

One is frightened by a loud plane. One gets hungry. One wants to race and another needs a bath. Only one stays to sing in the tree, but who will it be?

Ten Zany Birds is a fun, beautifully illustrated picture book. As parents and teachers read, children are introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills. Whenever a bird leaves, the number of striped, spotted, and polka-dotted birds changes, teaching the application of simple classification rules.

Whimsical and entertaining, Sherry Ellis’s tale of ten silly, distractible little birds is an excellent choice for both pre-reader storybook time and early readers.

SherryEllisAbout the author

As an author, Sherry has written children’s books as well as articles for parenting publications.  Her book, That Mama is a Grouch, was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards and as a finalist in the Parenting/General category of the 2011 International Book Awards.  Other awards include first place in the Parenting category of the 2011 Pinnacle Book Awards, the silver award in the 2013 Mom’s Choice Awards, and first place in the Family Matters category of the 2015 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.

ThatMamaisaGrouchSherry is also a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She has appeared as a soloist in Germany, and was a semi-finalist in the 2004 International Viola Competition held in Paris, France.  She is actively involved in the American String Teacher’ s Association, and has served terms as Secretary and Vice President of the Ohio String Teacher’s Association.  Sherry is the principal violist of the Georgia Philharmonic.

Additionally, Sherry is a lifetime member of Cambridge Who’s Who and was honored as a 2010 VIP of the year.  In 2012, she was honored as a Woman of the Year by the American Biographical Institute for her contributions in the field of music education. Sherry was the recipient of the 2013 Top Professional of the Year award given by Worldwide Who’s Who and has been recognized as a Top 100 Professional by the International Biographical ThatBabyWokeMeUpInstitute.

Find Sherry on the web

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On Publishing: Tips from bestselling author Ellen Hopkins

traffick-9781442482876_hrBestselling author Ellen Hopkins joins me today, as she  travels through the webosphere on a blog tour, to offer helpful tips to writers while they navigate the road to publication.

Here’s Ellen…

  • First, please remember that the road to publication is rarely short. Often it takes years to start publishing well. Submission and rejection are both part of the process. Accept rejection and learn from it. Perseverance is crucial, and belief in yourself and your writing.
  • Start with smaller publications. Literary magazines are a great place to send poetry and short stories. Don’t expect payment here. You are building a writer’s bio, and that is priceless. Try writing articles. Even if you want to write fiction, you’ll learn to research and to finish projects under deadlines.
  • Join writers groups, especially critique groups, where you’ll have other eyes on your work. Often as writers we’re too close to our words to see when a story takes a wrong turn or that a character is flat.
  • Take classes at a local college or adult learning program. Spelling, grammar, etc. most definitely do count. An editor at a big publishing house will not look twice at a manuscript with glaring errors.
  • If you’re truly interested in writing for a living, DO NOT self-publish. While there are a few renowned exceptions to this rule, the fact is most big publishers will not pick up a self-published book and go on to publish it. Not only that, but self-publishing signals impatience on the writer’s part, something a big publisher won’t deal with. An exception to this is if your book has a definite niche within the marketplace, one you can fill on your own. For instance, a textbook for your own classroom. Marketing is the biggest issue with self-published books. And most bookstores won’t carry them.
  • Once a book length manuscript is ready to go, go to writers’ conferences where you can meet editors and agents face to face to discuss your work. Often, they will critique manuscripts at conferences, and this is the best possible feedback, not to mention a great connection. Much better than submitting to the “slushpile” (just mailing it off and waiting to see what happens, along with those thousands of other manuscripts in the slushpile). And today many publishers don’t accept over-the-transom submissions.

Check out Ellen’s most recent work

The sequel to Tricks, her latest book follows five teenage victims of sex trafficking — from all walks of life and gender orientations — as they try to extricate themselves from their current situations and find a new way of life.

In her bestselling novel, Tricks, Ellen Hopkins introduced us to five memorable characters tackling these enormous questions: Eden, the preacher’s daughter who turns tricks in Vegas and is helped into a child prostitution rescue; Seth, the gay farm boy disowned by his father who finds himself without money or resources other than his own body; Whitney, the privileged kid coaxed into the life by a pimp and whose dreams are ruined in a heroin haze; Ginger, who runs away from home with her girlfriend and is arrested for soliciting an undercover cop; and Cody, whose gambling habit forces him into the life, but who is shot and left for dead.

And now, in Traffick, these five are faced with the toughest question of all: Is there a way out? How these five teenagers face the aftermath of their decisions and experiences is the soul of this story that exposes the dark, ferocious underbelly of the child trafficking trade. Heart wrenching and hopeful, Traffick takes us on five separate but intertwined journeys through the painful challenges of recovery, rehabilitation, and renewal to forgiveness and love. All the way home.

Goodreads | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon | Powell’s |BAM |S&S

About the author

authorPhoto-e1315801199400Ellen Hopkins is a poet, freelance writer, and the award-winning author of twenty nonfiction titles and five NY Times Bestselling novels-in-verse. She has published hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from aviation to child abuse to winegrowing.

Ellen mentors other writers through her position as a regional adviser for the Nevada chapter of the Society of ChildrenÕs Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

She is a regular speaker at schools; book festivals and writers conferences across the US, and now throughout the world.

Find her on the Web

Goodreads | Website | Twitter |Facebook | Pinterest | Tumblr

IMG_1297 (2) tour bannerContinue on Ellen’s tour

November 13thHeather Harlen – Top 5 or 10 List

November 13thAlec John Belle – Review

November 13thConfessions of a Kid-lit Lover – Review

November 13thMelissa Martin’s Reading List – Review / Interview

November 13thThe Phantom Paragrapher – Review

November 13thTeen Librarian Toolbox – Review / Interview

November 13thMiranda’s Book Blog – Guest Post

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When Monsters Became Real: Guest post from author Mae Clair

After reading two of Mae Clair‘s novels, I can honestly say that she’s quickly becoming my go-to author for romantic suspense (read my reviews here and here) with her touches of lyricism and ability to intertwine the perfect blend of the mysterious and paranormal into her writing. So I’m very happy to have her guest posting today…

Here’s Mae:

Myth And Magic-highresThe Spooky House

There’s one in every neighborhood. When I was a kid, the spooky house was two doors down, part of the urban tree-lined street where my family made their home. A brooding three-story structure of gray stone with a sprawling covered front porch, white columns, and side bump-outs, it oozed mystery. The adults might have been oblivious, but all the neighborhood kids knew it was haunted.

My friends and I were convinced a coven of witches met there, and that if you ventured too close to the sides where the shadows were thickest, you’d be sucked up into a coffin tucked under the eaves. No one would ever know, because an evil twin, capable of fooling everyone, would take your place.

The house also had a ghost who lived on the second floor. We knew this because the south facing room had a trio of beautiful stained glass windows and that was the perfect place for a ghost to languish.  Our phantom was female. She was a melancholy soul who’d been separated from her true love and imprisoned by the witches because they were jealous. She spent her time listening to an old-fashioned music box, weeping for her lost love, and looking romantically tragic in a flowing white dress.

Yes, it was silly, but those images stayed with me for a long time, particularly the woman in the flowing white gown. In Myth and Magic it isn’t a house that is rumored to be haunted, but an isolated lodge frequented by corporate employees. When one of them sees a ghostly apparition “in a flowing white gown,” it’s the start of a sequence of bizarre events that have guests checking out before they can check in. Enter my hero, Caith Breckwood, a private investigator, who has a turbulent history with the lodge’s manager, Veronica Kent. It certainly doesn’t help that Caith’s family owns the lodge, or that he’s been estranged from them for years due to a tragedy that occurred in the past.

I you like myth, mystery, and romance, I hope you’ll give Myth and Magic a looksee.

It’s presently on sale for just $.99 through 11/14 and is set during Halloween—perfect for this time of year

I’d also love to know if there were any “spooky houses” in your neighborhood—past or present!

Blurb

AS CHILDREN THEY PLAYED GAMES OF MYTH AND MAGIC…

Veronica Kent fell in love with Caith Breckwood when they were children. As a teenager, she was certain he was the man she was destined to marry. But a traumatic event from Caith’s past led him to fear a future together. He left Veronica, hoping to save her from a terrible fate. Twelve years later, Caith, now a P.I., is hired to investigate bizarre incidents at the secluded retreat Veronica manages. Returning to his hometown, Caith is forced to face his nightmares—and his feelings for the woman he’s always loved.

THEN ONE DAY THE MONSTERS BECAME REAL.

After the callous way Caith broke her heart, Veronica isn’t thrilled to see him again. But strange occurrences have taken a dangerous toll on business at Stone Willow Lodge. Forced to work together, Veronica discovers it isn’t ghostly apparitions that frighten her, but her passion for a man she has never forgotten. Or forgiven. Can two people with a tarnished past unearth a magical future?

Buy Myth and Magic… Just $.99 through 11/4/2015

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Mae ClairAbout the author

Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website

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Kensington Books Author Page

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Buying ghosts on ebay: Author Sandra Cox makes anything possible

800by433It’s been a September of new-book postings by authors whose specialties range from paranormal romance to horror to YA. And next up is my prolific author-friend Sandra Cox, who makes everything possible in her writing from mutant teenagers with dolphin DNA (read my reviews here and here) to buying ghosts on ebay, as in her new novel, Ghosts for Sale, from eKensington.

Blurb

Caitlin King can’t believe that her shopaholic cousin actually bought two ghosts off of eBay. But she can’t ignore the truth when she starts seeing sexy Liam O’Reilly, who’s been dead for over a hundred years. He’s a fascinating specter, and the more time Caitlin spends with him, the closer they become—sending them both spiraling into a star-crossed tailspin. No matter how desperately they long for each other, there’s just no future with a guy who’s already stopped breathing.

Buy

EKensington ~ Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Kobo ~Apple ~ Google

About the author

Sandra2Multi-published author Sandra Cox writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal and Historical Romance, and Metaphysical Nonfiction. She lives in sunny North Carolina with her husband, a brood of critters and an occasional foster cat. Although shopping is high on the list, her greatest pleasure is sitting on her screened in porch, listening to the birds, sipping coffee and enjoying a good book. She’s a vegetarian and a Muay Thai enthusiast. Find Sandra on the web : Website ~ Blog ~ Twitter ~ Facebook .

Giveaway

49894

 

When Demons threaten Regency London, only a Lady can stop them

Deception Banner 851 x 315
Click here to see the other stops on the tour.

My autumn to-read list begins with a deception… that is, the  adventures of the demon hunters, first introduced in A.S. Fenichel‘s Ascension (read my review here) and continued in her fast-paced follow-up, Deception, from Kensington/Lyrical.

I’ll get right to it with a synopsis and excerpt that will have you hooked, just as I was (and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for four ebook copies of Deception)…

Synopsis

Lillian Dellacourt is beautiful, refined and absolutely lethal. She’s also the most feared and merciless demon hunter in The Company. She’s come a long way from the penniless seamstress’s daughter sold to the highest bidder, and it wasn’t by trusting a man, let alone an exiled Marquis with more on his mind than slaying the hellspawn . . .

For Dorian Lambert, Marquis de Montalembert, being sent to keep track of Lillian is no mean task. He’s wanted the fiery vixen since he first heard of her five years ago. But wooing the lady while fighting the demon uprising is no easy feat, especially when the lady’s tongue is as sharp as the Japanese sai blades she favors for eviscerating the spawn of hell.

These two will have to learn to trust each other fast, because the demon master is back, and he’s planning to turn Edinburgh into a living hell…

Buy

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Excerpt

Chapter 1

Gripping the chair arms to keep herself seated, Lillian fought an urge to leave and never set foot inside Castle Brendaligh again.

It had been a demoralizing battle and they had lost, but they had lived. They had done all they could, but still the demon master had ascended into man’s world.

“You failed and we are all likely to die because of it. I hold every person at this table responsible for the state of England. You have ruined us.” Lord Clayton’s voice grated on Lillian’s nerves.

Accounts of the battle were clear. Nearly everyone in the room had risked their lives trying to disrupt the ascension, not to mention keep the earl’s daughter, Belinda, from becoming a demon sacrifice. Making such a show of ferocious reprimands insulted their brave and selfless efforts. If not for the fact that he was her best friend’s father, she might have indulged her desire to pull a sai blade from her boot and slice his throat.

As if Lord Clayton, the Earl of Shafton, needed to attract more attention, he waved his hands. “You had one mission, to keep the master from entering our world. All you had to do was kill one demon, but you failed. You should all be shot for treason. Treason!”

His bright red face gave her hope his heart might fail and save her the trouble of killing him.

Other hunters at the table murmured, but no one spoke out.

“Everyone in this room is to blame. You had the perfect opportunity to end this mess. Now the master is free of his realm and living in ours. It’s only a matter of time before he is strong enough to destroy everything we hold dear. When your families are killed mercilessly, will you sit here so unrepentant about failing in your duty?”

“Father, really.” Belinda Thurston rolled her eyes.

Lillian missed Reece’s steadying presence. Reece might have even been able to stop his lordship’s tirade with a few quick-witted remarks. Her partner had nearly died, and now lay upstairs recovering from demon poisoning.

“Don’t you roll your eyes at me, Belinda. You are equally to blame. You were with the master for days and made no attempt to destroy him.”

Gabriel, Belinda’s husband, bristled. It was of course a ridiculous statement. The Earl of Tullering was not used to public abuse of his family. “Just a minute, my lord. You are out of order. Belinda was in no position to defeat the demon master. The information she gathered will be very helpful in our eventual victory.”

Shafton pointed a fat finger. “I do not want to hear about information that will take years to decipher. You, Tullering, are by far the most culpable. You and that woman”—he pointed at Lillian—“made a conscious choice not to destroy the master.”

Lillian reached toward her boot and let the hard steel of her sai blade handle bring her comfort. One second and Shafton’s head could be rolling down the long table and land in Drake Cullum’s lap.

Besides Shafton, Drake and his assistant, Dorian Lambert, were the only ones present who had not been at the battle. Their leader, Drake, had attended to assign new orders to the hunters.

Shafton said, “You could have destroyed the beast as it rose and was weakened. I know you had the opportunity, but you chose to save yourself. It was selfish and stupid.”

Lillian could kill him and no one would be able to stop her. Of course, there were  always consequences when dealing with men in power. She’d lose her home within The Company. Yet another arrogant earl would not take her from her rightful place. She was in control. It was nothing like her youth and the titled man who’d ruined her life.

Belinda said, “They saved my life, Father.”

“It was the wrong choice, Belinda. You might have cost us our one chance to stop this.” Shafton narrowed his eyes on Lillian.

Lillian said, “I can imagine your pleasure if we had allowed your only child to become the master’s sacrifice. Perhaps we should have stood by and watched until the master, with his full power rose, from the depths of hell and destroyed us all. As it is, Reece Foxjohn is still recovering from battle and the rest of us might have been sucked into the demon’s realm. But by all means, my lord, go on and tell us how you know we willfully failed on our mission. I do not recall your life being in danger that day at Fatum Manor. You were safely tucked away in your castle while the rest of us faced death or worse.”

“You are out of order, Dellacourt.” Shafton said her name as if it were a curse.

Lillian wasn’t sure when she had stood up, but clutching the leather wrapped steel, she rounded the table toward the earl. “If you have something you want to say about my abilities, my lord, I suggest you do so. I will be happy to display them for you, and we can evaluate them together.”

“Miss Dellacourt.” A warning came from the other end of the table.

“You were not there. You cannot know if we could have destroyed the master. As far as I’m concerned, we made the only choice possible under the circumstances. Maybe if your intelligence had supplied us with the location of the gateway before the master had grown so powerful, we might have been able to seal him in.”

“How dare you imply that I failed in some way? You who completely disregard orders  at will.”

She had only ever hated one man the way she despised Shafton, and he too was an earl. At least that one was dead. Steeling her nerves, she slid the sai blade through the pocket cut in her skirt. “You speak of orders that were selfish and almost succeeded in getting your own family killed.”

“You have no right to question me or my motives.” To his credit, he faced her and stared her in the eye.

“I have every right when you point your fat finger at me.”

“Who do you think you are? I know where you come from Lillian Dellacourt. I know what you are.”

Drake Cullum pounded the table. “Shafton, that will do.” The demon hunters’ leader stood rigid, narrow-eyed. He was formidable when he was calm, but enraging him was never a good idea. He was furious now.

Had she gone too far? The idea she might have overstepped her bounds with Cullum was enough to make her relax the grip on her blade. Lillian turned and stormed from the dining room.

Shafton yelled something about not having dismissed her from the meeting.

Once in the hallway, she pulled her second blade and turned to go back in and finish what she’d started. It would be nothing to remove his pompous head from his shoulders.

Cullum stood in the doorway. He smiled at her and closed the door, baring her reentry.

Had she ever seen him smile before? No instance came to mind. She stomped toward the front entrance. She’d leave the damn castle, get her carriage, and ride like the devil back to London. Yet the one person in the world she could really talk to was a resident of Brendaligh. Holding her full skirts with both hands, she sprinted up the curved grand staircase.

About the Author

A.S.A.S. Fenichel gave up a successful career in New York City to follow her husband to Texas and pursue her lifelong dream of being a professional writer. She’s never looked back.

A.S. adores writing stories filled with love, passion, desire, magic and maybe a little mayhem tossed in for good measure. Books have always been her perfect escape and she still relishes diving into one and staying up all night to finish a good story.

Multi-published in historical, paranormal, erotic and contemporary romance, A.S. is the author of The Demon Hunters series, the Psychic Mates series, and more. With several books currently contracted to multiple publishers, A.S. will be brining you her brand of edgy romance for years to come.

Originally from New York, she grew up in New Jersey, and now lives in the East Texas with her real life hero, her wonderful husband. When not reading or writing she enjoys cooking, travel, history, and puttering in her garden. Her babies are both rescues and include a demanding dog and a temperamental cat both of which bring constant joy and laughter.

Find her on the web

Web Site- http://asfenichel.net/

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