Official Blog for the Animated Insights of Shannon Muir: Animation Pro and Author

An animation professional known for her desire to give forward to pros and fans alike, Shannon has expanded her reach to writing prose, and showcasing those authors as well. Read interviews and guest posts from INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS, plus Shannon's own content.

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Vernal Cover

INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: BLOG TOUR – Vernal

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Vernal by Randi Cooley Wilson

To be Released on June 30th, 2016

Genre: New Adult/Paranormal/Fantasy

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25901506-vernal

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vernal-randi-cooley-wilson/1123441022?ean=2940152864090

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Vernal-Royal-Protector-Academy-Novel-ebook/dp/B01C65MLGC

Serena has a bright future etched in stone.
Tristan has a dark past that haunts him.
Together, they have a love that can never be.

Sheltered, and unable to escape her bloodline, Serena St. Michael has spent the last two years training at the Royal Protector Academy. Struggling with a dark past, Tristan Gallagher’s current assignment is to protect a lifetime of secrets. One chance encounter will change everything. Serena must decide if she will follow her heart, forsaking all she’s ever known and risking a future worse than non-existence. Tristan will break every rule to save Serena, even if he can’t keep her. In their world of darkness, one love will ignite an ancient war. When pasts collide with the present, and secrets are revealed, will love be enough? Or will one lie destroy it all?

When you’ve hidden behind a mask for so long, would you reveal yourself for love? Vernal, the first novel in The Royal Protector Academy series is a dangerously exciting and darkly romantic tale that will take your breath away.

 

 

Interview with the Author:

What initially got you interested in writing?

I’d initially started writing in elementary school. I found it therapeutic in a strange way. Although when I was younger, I’d really just viewed it as something fun I like doing to escape the world for a while, similar to when you read a book. I like creating stories and characters and new worlds. It was fun.

 

How did you decide to make the move into being a published author?

After I had my daughter, I pulled together the storyline for the Revelation Series (my first book series) and a friend (who works in the publishing world) encouraged me to release it. Once I realized people didn’t hate it but wanted more, I was encouraged to continue writing and releasing my novels.

 

What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

Honestly, I want them to be able to escape day-to-day realities, even for a brief time. I hope my stories allow for that.

 

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

I love the creative process, when the story comes together and all the plot pieces fall into place.

 

What do you find most challenging about writing?

Writing – lol. It’s hard.

 

What advice would you give to people want to enter the field?

Write stories you want to read. The end. Don’t follow trends, or worry if they will sell. Just write stories you love and that will ensure you’re heart is in each word.

 

What ways can readers connect with you?

Readers can always get in touch with me via any of my social media outlets: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Randi’s Rebels, which I happen to frequent often.

 

Thanks so much for having me today!

About the Author:

Randi new

Randi Cooley Wilson is a “New Adult” Paranormal/Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author. A resident of Massachusetts, she makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets. For more information visit:http://randicooleywilson.com

 

The Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card. The giveaway runs from July 1st through July 22nd.

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Follow the Rest of the Tour Schedule Below!

July 1st

The Voluptuous Book Diva – Author Interview

Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books! – Review

July 2nd

LitBuzz – Review

Hannah Plus Books – Guest Post

July 3rd

Comet Babes Books – Review

Have Book Will Read – Review

July 4th

Ordinary Girlz Book Reviews – Review

For Love of Books4 – Promo Post

July 5th

Novels & Necklaces – Review

RoloPoloBookBlog – Promo Post

July 6th

The Book Beacon – Review

July 7th

Quite Bookish – Review

infinite House of Books – Interview

July 8th

Bookbangerr – Review

July 9th

Latte Nights Reviews – Review

July 10th

Around The World in Books – Guest Post

July 11th

The Perks of Being a Book Girl – Review

July 12th

the bookdragon – Guest Post

July 13th

Owl Always Be Reading – Review

A Leisure Moment – Review

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Promo Post

July 14th

Bibliophile Mystery – Promo Post

July 15th

Just One More Chapter – Promo Post

July 16th

Monique Latrece – Guest Post

July 17th

Honey there are never enough books – Interview

July 18th

Curling Up With A Good Book – Interview

July 19th

Mindjacked – Review

YaReads – Review

July 20th

books are love – Review

Secretly Adorkable Readers – Review

July 21st

Fiction Dreams – Promo Post

YaReads – Character Interview

 

 

INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: BLOG TOUR – Onyx Webb Book 2

DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS by Virtual Author Book Tours. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.

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Oynx Webb Book 2

 

GUEST POST

Judging a Book by the Cover: Myth or Reality?

By Andrea Waltz

So as not to have you waiting in anticipation for the answer here, it is no myth. It is reality. Books get judged all the time based on the cover and we all know it – we all do it.

 

We made the painful decision to change the book cover of our paranormal suspense series, Onyx Webb right after publishing book three in our ten book series. I say painful, not just because of the expense, which was significant in dollars and time, but because we knew that the story deserved better.  Quite frankly, we deserved better because we didn’t love it! (And if we were honest, probably no one else loved it either – we never got one positive comment about it.)  But, we had designed the cover at the beginning of creating the story and so when it came time to publish, it was what we went with.

 

However, as we continued to write and plot books for Onyx Webb, it no longer felt like it belonged to our story. We wanted something white and stark and this cover was dark. The images on the front no longer seemed as meaningful and come into the series so late. And under no circumstances did we want a ghost woman walking through a cemetery. Or a great looking guy with a concerned look on his face, cute girl hanging on his shoulder, looking equally as intense.

 

People, things… nothing made sense for our cover until we found the skull and the graphic edging for the cover. Luckily, we were able to keep the Onyx Webb logo which we both love for the web inside the ‘O’ in Onyx. It’s both creepy and feminine at once.

 

Is the new cover perfect? Well, we get a lot of wonderful comments. That’s new. And we truly love it. And that matters to us more than anything.

NEW COVER

ONYX WEBB NEW COVER

ORIGINAL COVER

Onyx Webb Old Cover

 

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

OW-FentonWaltz-Full-LRG

Richard Fenton & Andrea Waltz are a married writing team. Most well known for their business fables, they’re professional speakers who teach audiences on how to overcome fear of failure and rejection.  The Onyx Webb Series is their first serious dive into fiction.

Richard and Andrea have been in love with creating stories together since they met almost twenty years ago and even spent some time in Hollywood writing screenplays, being represented by the producer of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Their favorite genres are suspense, thriller, crime and anything of a paranormal nature which is how Onyx Webb turned into a mash-up of all their favorites!

Website: www.OnyxWebb.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/OnyxWebbSeries
Twitter: www.Twitter.com/Onyxwebb
Pinterest: www.Pinterest.com/OnyxWebbSeries
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5835138.Andrea_Waltz

Buy Onyx Webb, Book Two by Andrea Waltz and Richard Fenton

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Barnes and Noble
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INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: BLOG TOUR – Scattered Seeds

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Scattered Seeds

Julie Doherty

 

Genre: Historical fiction, elements of romance

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Date of Publication: April 27, 2016

ISBN: 1-68291-050-4

ASIN: B01E056H1Q

Number of pages: 339

Word Count: 100,000

Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Book Description:

 

In 18th century Ireland, drought forces Edward and Henry McConnell to assume false names and escape to America with the one valuable thing they still own–their ancestor’s gold torc.

 

Edward must leave love behind. Henry finds it in the foul belly of The Charming Hannah, only to lose it when an elusive trader purchases his sweetheart’s indenture.

 

With nothing but their broken hearts, a lame ox, and a torc they cannot sell without invoking a centuries-old curse, they head for the backcountry, where all hope rests upon getting their seed in the ground. Under constant threat of Indian attack, they endure crushing toil and hardship. By summer, they have wheat for their reward, and unexpected news of Henry’s lost love. They emerge from the wilderness and follow her trail to Philadelphia, unaware her cruel new master awaits them there, his heart set on obtaining the priceless torc they protect.

 

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/bNzrVFnl9Ts

GUEST POST BY THE AUTHOR

Thank you for allowing me a little space on your blog today.
As a writer of historical fiction, I spend a fair amount of time each July 4th thinking about the stalwart forefathers who sacrificed everything for our independence.
Did you know there was another noteworthy July 4th, one rarely acknowledged? That July 4th happened in 1754, and it’s every bit as important as the one we celebrate today. Let me take you there, pictorially. We’ll have ourselves a little bloggy field trip.

First, you need to know something about the America of 1754. Much of this land was yet a vast wilderness. The British held territory from Philadelphia to the eastern Appalachians. The French and their native allies controlled the fur-rich regions to the west.

Poor conditions in Europe forced waves of desperate folks to the British colonies. Most had no choice but to seek a plot of their own in the backwoods, often past the official British boundary.

The French responded to the sudden influx of British settlers by planning a line of forts from Canada southward. The British could not tolerate this, as a fortified north-south border would not only halt migration, but also risk the French pushing them off the lands they’d already settled. They decided to build forts of their own.

In late May, young George Washington (I wonder if he still had his own teeth? Check ‘em out!) arrived for reconnoitering at a large natural clearing in present-day Fayette County, Pennsylvania. It was the perfect setting for a base camp. There was plenty of water and—ta da!—grass for his animals.
The French found out about the camp and sent Joseph Coulon de Villiers southeast from Fort Duquesne (now Pittsburgh) to tell Washington to pack his crap and get off their territory.
Determined to confront the French commander on his own terms, Washington marched all night with forty men to this spot, where he easily surrounded de Villiers and his men:
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It’s called Jumonville Glen now, and it’s as serene a place as I’ve ever been. It is hard to picture anything brutal happening here, but it did. Some idiot fired a musket (probably my ancestor), and all hell broke loose. Fifteen minutes later, George Washington declared victory and took the French commander prisoner. He intended to treat him with the courtesies due a captured military officer. However, the natives accompanying him adhered to no such rules. In fact, they saw the humane treatment of an enemy as weakness.
Without warning, the Mingo chief accompanying Washington grabbed a tomahawk and bashed in the French commander’s brains. Washington was no doubt mortified, not only because the murder broke all rules of known civility, but because he knew that when word of the incident reached Fort Duquesne, the Frenchman’s brother, a captain, would vow revenge.
He was not mistaken.

Washington and his men hastily constructed a fort, a circular stockade made of 7-foot-high upright logs. They covered it with bark and skins. Inside, a tiny hut housed ammunition and provisions.

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Washington called for reinforcements, and by July 1st, he had nearly 400 troops under his command, some of them listed HERE. It would not be enough to defeat the large force of French and Indians advancing on them. On July 2nd, Washington ordered his men to dig trenches. On the rainy morning of July 3rd, the French and their Indian allies arrived. A battle broke out. The rain turned torrential, and filled the trenches Washington’s bedraggled men had dug only the day before. Everything was drenched, including the gunpowder, which silenced Washington’s weapons.

The fight was over.

The French commander sent an officer under a white flag to negotiate surrender. He warned that if Washington did not yield the fort at once, he would unleash the Indians. Having witnessed native brutality firsthand, Washington agreed to the terms, which were given to him in writing. Had he been able to read French, he probably wouldn’t have signed the document, for it was essentially a confession to the “assassination” of the French officer, Joseph Coulon de Villiers at what is now Jumonville Glen.

On July 4, Washington and his troops abandoned Fort Necessity.
Should you wish to visit any of these sites in person, you can learn more here.

 

PURCHASE LINK

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julie Doherty expected to follow in her artist-father’s footsteps, but words, not oils, became her medium. Her novels have been called “romance with teeth” and “a sublime mix of history and suspense.”

Her marriage to a Glasgow-born Irishman means frequent visits to the Celtic countries, where she studies the culture that liberally flavors her stories. When not writing, she enjoys cooking over an open fire at her cabin, gardening, and hiking the ridges and valleys of rural Pennsylvania, where she lives just a short distance from the farm carved out of the wilderness by her 18th century “Scotch-Irish” ancestors.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Central Pennsylvania Romance Writers, Perry County Council of the Arts, and Clan Donald USA.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/juliedohertywrites/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SquareSails

 

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/532434.Julie_Doherty

 

Web: http://juliedoherty.com/

 

Blog: http://juliedoherty.com/blog

 

GIVEAWAY (SPONSORED AND ADMINISTRATED BY BEWITCHING BOOK TOURS)

$30 Amazon gift card

5 free Kindle copies of SCATTERED SEEDS

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Dirty Deeds Cover

INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: COVER REVEAL – Dirty Deeds

DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS by Pump Up Your Book. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.

 

Inside the Book:



Title:
 Dirty Deeds
Author: AJ Neust
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: Ebook

An Eye for an Eye

As owner of Dirty Deeds, a tech-savvy company specializing in the age-old art of revenge, Eden Smith knows first-hand that secrecy is critical. But when a dead body washes up on the shores of Lake Michigan clutching her business card, Eden’s well-constructed world begins to fall apart. Apparently, she’s not the only one with a passion for payback, and staying alive to outsmart a killer has become her most important job of all.

A Game for a Game

Hardened homicide detective Kelly Riordan is convinced Eden Smith is hiding more than she’s willing to admit. Years on the force have taught him that nothing is what it seems, and that couldn’t be truer than when it comes to investigating the alluring owner of a revenge-for-hire business. But revealing her past could put everything Eden has worked for in jeopardy. And trusting a man like Riordan goes against the very instincts that have kept her alive this long.

 

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Meet the Author:

 

Multi-published award-winning author and editor, AJ Nuest, resides in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband, two beautiful children and a bevy of spoiled pets. Her four-part serial fantasy romance, The Golden Key Chronicles, was recently named the RONE Time Travel Romance of 2015 by Ind’Tale Magazine, and her contemporary romantic comedy, She’s Got Dibs won First Place in the Heartland Romance Author’s Show Me the Spark! Contest, 2013. She and the cat are currently vying for dictatorship. The cat is winning.

You can visit her website at http://ajnuest.com

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INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS FLASHBACK: BLOG TOUR – Can’t Forget

DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS by Bewitching Book Tours. No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.

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Can’t Forget
Solum Series
Book Two
Colleen S. Myers

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Publisher: Champagne Books

Date of Publication: June 6th, 2016

Number of pages: 253
Word Count: 82,000

Cover Artist: Elaine Smith

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BOOK DESCRIPTION

Is it better to be safe or loved?

Four months have passed since the E’mani destroyed the Earth and scooped up the remains. Elizabeth “Beta” Camden was one of those taken. With the help of their enemies, the Fost, she escapes and confronts her prior captors successfully. Though she knows she should remain vigilant toward the E’mani, she follows her heart instead and falls in love with Marin, the sexy Fost warrior..
She should have trusted her first instinct.

This time the E’mani don’t come in force–they slip in silently. And any hope Beta had of a peaceful life is lost. She leaves in the dead of night to find the E’mani stronghold and end them once and for all. But love is a tricky bitch. It takes a threat to Marin’s safety to make Beta realize, if she can’t forget her past, she won’t have a future.

Amazon/ KOBO Champagne Books / BN

Must Remember – Solum Series Book One On Sale for .99 June 1-July 1

Amazon  / BN / Kobo  /ARe / Champagne Books

CHARACTER INTERVIEW

Today we welcome Colleen Myers and her new character Beta as we discuss their new book. Hello Colleen, hello Beta. It’s lovely to see you.

 

“Thanks for having us.” Colleen smiles and nudges Beta, who nods.

 

Beta, why don’t you tell us a little bit about your life before the E’mani came?

 

Beta sits forward. “I had a normal life. I’d just started college and well, it was fun. I don’t know what more to say.”

 

Colleen and Beta, what can you tell your readers about this new novel?

 

Colleen looks at Beta before answering. “Well it is about an apocalyptic event on Earth started by aliens called the E’mani to harvest humans. Beta is one of those humans.” Beta glances at the floor and crosses her arms.

 

I hear there is a love interest. Beta, will you tell us about him from your point of view?

 

Beta smiles. “Yes, Marin. He is wonderful, a bit controlling, but he lets me be me.”

 

Now Colleen, spill the details. We want the goods on Beta and Marin. Berin, or Mata. Do you like those couple names Beta?

 

“Whatsa MATA with MATA.”

 

Now, I know you can’t say too much, but we have to know. Is this the last of the E’mani, or will we see them again?

 

“You will be seeing a lot of the E’mani”

 

Well, thanks guys for joining us today! 

EXCERPT
Chapter One

The snowball hit the back of my head dead-on. Bam.
I stumbled forward from the force of the blow. The flakes created a halo of white powder around my head in the cool, crisp air then settled all over my face and neck.
What the…oh no he didn’t. A growl rose in my throat. I turned to confront my foe. I creased my eyebrows and I glared at him, mean-like.
With a smug expression on his face, Marin stared back, tossing another snowball between his hands.
“Elizabeth, you appeared distracted. I wanted to help.” His voice was smooth, deep like aged rum, and echoed in the unique way of his people, the Fost, almost like he was being dubbed. The sound got me every time causing me to shiver, or maybe it was the snow dripping down my back.
“That was helping?” My ass.
“Yes, you were about to walk into a tree,” he said dryly, dropping his ammunition.
I whipped around. Sure enough, a tree loomed in front of me. Dark-gray bark, feathery fronds interspersed with lethal spikes, blue moss climbing its trunk. Yep, that was a tree. Well for here anyway, not like on Earth.
I glanced back at Marin, who stood so trustingly under the boughs of another nearby tree laden with snow. A smile tugged at the corner of my mouth. See, I could help too. He looked hot, literally and figuratively.
“Okay, thanks.”
With a thought, my power twisted deep inside, and I sent out a burst of air through the branches. They shuddered in response and unloaded their cold, wet contents on Marin’s head with nary a sound.
The snow dusted his brows, his cheeks, and obscured the single streak of dark green that coursed down the left side of his mahogany hair and framed his face. A single flake melted on his lips.
Our gazes met and held. His light brown eyes had a slit pupil that dilated then contracted as he focused on me. I used to find it…disconcerting, but it was just him, along with his long limbs, sharp features, and elaborate tattoos called jatua. All small differences but strange enough to have unsettled me in the past. Now it was so damn unfair how sexy I found him, alien race and all.
Marin raised an eyebrow and licked at his bottom lip, watching me watch him. My gaze followed the path of his tongue.
Heat spread through me as I imagined myself tasting those lips. I tucked a strand of red hair behind my ear. My breath slipped out in a sigh.
He smiled wide. “Lands, I love how you look at me.”
“Stop.” I blushed, twirling back and starting down the path we’d been walking before he ambushed me.
“How much farther?” I asked when he caught up and bumped into my side.
“We are close,” Marin replied. He was so busy shaking the snow out of his hair, he didn’t see my smile.
“Are we there yet?”
“No.”
Ha, so literal. “Are we there yet?”
His hands stopped and his brow crinkled. He looked so confused I had to laugh. Then I tripped flat on my face in my clunky snowshoes and it was Marin’s turn to snicker. He picked me up and settled me against him, my face tucked into his shoulder.
“You all right there?” His words whispered past my ear.
“I’m fine.” My voice came out a lot breathier than I intended. Damn it.
The corner of his lips curled up. He traced the side of my face. Tingles trailed along my skin. I put my fingers over his and stood on tiptoe in invitation. Marin obliged and brushed his mouth along mine. Our lips clung for the briefest of seconds before he shoved snow down the back of my coat.
I shrieked, dancing backward. Cold, cold, cold.
Marin bolted down the path, much more sure in his steps than I.
The jerk. He was lucky he got out of range, or I would have gotten payback.
I fiddled with my jacket to get the rest of the snow out, shuddering at the feeling of wet fabric sticking to my back.
God, I hated winter. The first snow, I marveled like everyone else. Oh, so pretty. The world sparkled underneath the coating of white. Then the freeze set in, the biting wind, the forced isolation. And did I mention the cold? Give me spring or summer any day.
We were traveling to the mines outside the city of Groos. The miners had reached a type of rock they’d never seen before. It was dense and coarse. They couldn’t blast through it, and their efforts were destabilizing the tunnels. They tried to dig around it, but so far they’d had no luck. Nobody knew how thick the vein was or how far it reached. They wanted me to try magical means to remove it. Fat lot of good that would do.
When I caught up to Marin, I gave him the evil eye.
Marin grinned. “What?”
I flipped him the bird.
He grabbed my middle finger, “What does that mean? You do it all the time.”
“Nothing.”
His brows wrinkled again. “Woman.”
“Man. And don’t talk to me. You put snow down my back.”
Marin laughed. “Sorry.”
“My ass, you are not the least bit sorry.”
“Wait, what does your bottom have to do with this?”
I blinked. Ha, I forgot sometimes that certain expressions didn’t translate. “Nothing.”
He growled and kissed my knuckle before dropping my hand. “I hate when you say that.”
“I know, thus, why I do it.” I grinned and stepped ahead of him with a wiggle in my step.
He swatted me on the ass as I passed. While I acted angry outside, inside I loved when he played. He only ever did it when no one could see him. He was Clan Chief after all, even though he was only five years older than me at twenty-five. The position left him little time for fun and his own sense of responsibility precluded it.
A few minutes later and we reached our destination. A box canyon opened up in front of us, filled with barren trees and snow. At the far end of the canyon, a cave entrance loomed, braced by wood. A single railroad track led out of the opening to the left and a snow-laden press stood to the side, up against the high stone walls.
Con waited outside the entrance, his red and green Mohawk vivid against the backdrop of white. His stout form and kind face emphasized his resemblance to a Santa, A badass one. No fluffy red suit for him.
Marin inclined his head, straight to business. “Show us this rock.”
With a flourish, Con gestured ahead, and we entered the mines with cautious steps. Just past the entrance, the light from the two suns outside faded and darkness fell. I slowed and Marin’s hand brushed my lower back.
“Let your eyes adjust for a moment,” Con muttered from behind us.
As I stood there, the walls started to glow. Streaks of aqua phosphorescence lit the pathway ahead.
“What is this?” I asked in wonder, moving in a circle.
“Theris, a weed. It grows in the caves. When you break its shell, it glows.” Con held out a small stick almost like an aloe branch that he snapped before our eyes, and a thin, clear liquid trickled out. “The glow lasts almost a week. We carry some on us at all times. Come, follow me.”
Con led the way down the cramped passageway. Gravel and ice crunched underfoot. The smell of dust filled the stale air. My breath steamed. Damn it. I shivered and rubbed my arms through the jacket. Marin ran his hand down my spine.
It took about five minutes of hiking to reach the antechamber. When we got there, Con stared at me with a hopeful expression.
“Okay, you want me to, you know.” I made woo-woo gestures at the wall.
“Yes,” Con replied.
Four months ago, I’d escaped from an E’mani spaceship and ended up here on Solum. The Fost, Marin’s people and the sworn enemies of the E’mani, took me in and hid me from their foes, but the E’mani didn’t give up easily. In one of their attempts to draw me out of hiding, they set bombs at these mines. Several people had been trapped inside. I’d used my magic to move the rock—how I got magic, I still don’t know—and created a new entrance. Now they wanted me to do it again. No pressure, right?
I reached out and touched the wall. The dark surface crumbled under my fingertips. All throughout the flaky stone, a silver metal streaked. Not dust or ore. This was metal, hard and thick. No wonder they couldn’t get through it.
With a deep breath, I closed my eyes. The power sprang eagerly to my summons. Heat spread outward from my core and my palm tingled where it touched the rock. The chill from being deep in the cave during winter faded.. A pulse vibrated in the air around me, pulling me deeper. I concentrated on that sound, letting it center me. My heartbeat synchronized to the sensation.
One. My skin grew tight. I let my breath rush out in a slow exhale.
Two. The stone warmed underneath my fingertips.
Three. The ground shook in response to the power rushing to my call. I kept my hands square on the wall.
Four. My hair stood on end, strength rushing through me, filling me until the force of the earth beneath my hand made me feel stretched like taffy. My mind screamed from the pressure and I squeezed my eyes shut. I needed to hold it as long as I could. My body shuddered until every pore sweat and my body strained from the contact, pushed to its limits and beyond. And then I shoved all the power out with my mind into the rock.
Please move. Please.
A beat.
Nothing happened.
“Anything, Beta?” Con asked right next to my ear.
I jumped.
“Nope,” I squeaked out, trying to bring my pulse under control, oddly empty.
“Keep trying,” Marin said and touched the rock to my left. Con did the same on my other side. We all focused this time, but unlike the time we freed the miners, there was no movement. The metal seemed inert. Its light gray color contrasted starkly with the dark-brown stone.
My shoulders slumped. “Nothing. I’m sorry.”
“And this means we cannot mine the ferok, doesn’t it?” Marin asked, rubbing his forehead.
“Correct, it covers the veins,” Con said.
My fists clenched. The Fost had found another metal–ferok. It was pliable and could be imbued with magic. With it, they could shatter the technological defenses of the E’mani. That was a good thing, but the metal kept us from it. And we had so little of the ferok to begin with. This was not happy news.
“Land’s sake, why can it never be easy?” Marin echoed my thoughts.
Marin slapped Con on the back. “We will search the library for more information. You continue to try to mine this rock. See what you can do.”
Con nodded in agreement as Marin gathered me up and we trudged out of the caves. Silence reigned for the next half hour.
“Stop worrying,” Marin said.
“I’m not worrying.”
“I can practically hear the thoughts racing through your head.”
“I am not worrying.” I enunciated slowly, my steps deliberate
“Yes, you are.”
“Well, fine, I can’t help it. I can’t stop thinking about the E’mani. Without the ferok, we only have our magic and we need more. And there’s this feeling of dread,” I splayed my hand across my chest, “right here, and it’s getting stronger. The E’mani are out there. I know it. I’m not sure why they haven’t attacked us yet, but they will. We need a weapon.”
The E’mani wouldn’t have forgotten about me or the Fost. I didn’t hold out hope that they’d forgotten about the men they’d lost in their attempts to recapture me either.
“The land protects us,” Marin replied.
A snort escaped me. “Magic vs. machine. That didn’t work out so well for you guys the last time.”
Marin tossed me a chiding look. “We survived, did we not? That is what matters. And we have lived as we are meant.”
God, his words made my teeth itch. “You can’t think the E’mani aren’t planning retaliation. They are not a forgiving race.”
I’d know having been their prisoner and all. And the more I thought about the E’mani, the more hatred stirred inside me. I loathed those pale freaks. They’d destroyed my world, in their never-ending quest to “make things better.” Then they brought me here. I didn’t remember much of my time with them, not yet. But I recalled enough to despise them. They were not kind masters.
White eyes stared at me through amber glass, E’mani eyes.
“Hello, Elizabeth,” Xade crooned. Light flashed off the razor sharp edge of the scalpel in his hands. “Time for more samples.”
Marin’s words snapped me out of my memories with a jolt. “We all know the E’mani are coming. But the winter has been harsh, more so than usual. And before they came after you, it had been ages since the last time we saw them. They left this world long ago to recoup their losses after the war. They left even while we were still fighting and maintain only a small presence out in Industry.”
My jaw set. “Good. Industry is where I need to go. I need to find one of their labs.”
Marin sighed. “We have talked about this, Elizabeth. First, you have no idea where to find a lab. And second, you have no idea what you need to do if you did find it.”
“I remember some of what they taught me. And being in the labs, where they kept me, will help me remember even more. I scared them, Marin. Me. When I confronted them—”
“It might not have been you. It might have been all the lightning you were throwing around, or the blade Zanth wielded,” he argued.
I grit my teeth until my jaw hurt. Damn him. Why wasn’t he listening? Tears blurred the path in front of me.
“It was me; I could tell. I know something that can hurt them, I can feel it. The E’mani were frightened enough of me that they came in force to capture or kill me and it has to do with the labs. I know there is something I’m meant to do, and soon. If not, something bad is going to happen.” Chills shivered down my spine. I heard the faint echo of screams—men’s and women’s—from long ago. They had a plan for us, just like they had for Earth. How could I stop it? “Marin?”
“Yes.”
“If I asked you to, would you leave with me, today, and travel to Industry?”
Marin blinked. “Today? No, we need to plan these things, you know that, Elizabeth. To go now would be stupid.”
I stomped forward on the trail. “Of course it would be. How silly of me. You’re right.”
“Elizabeth, please.” Marin caught up and put his arm around my shoulder. “We will go to Industry soon. I promise.”
“Yeah, yeah, you keep saying that.” I let my head fall against his shoulder. Arguing with Marin never seemed to end how I wanted it to. No use being pissy about it now. And he was right, which was even worse. To go during winter would be foolish, but still…
A few minutes passed. The snow crackled beneath our feet. It was cold enough, I’d long since lost feeling in my toes.
The entrance to the city of Groos came into view. There was a large chiseled gate built into the natural arch that fronted the valley. They built the gatehouse into the valley walls itself and tunneled above the gate, giving the guards a clear sight line of anyone approaching.
Bas-relief scenes covered the arch’s surface blending with the rock face. One scene depicted a Fost couple embracing in a corner their arms wrapped around one another. In the other corner was a Coreck, a catlike creature that stood on two legs, with a long tongue. Yet another showed a battle. Men fought with swords and spaceships flew overhead. The pictures were so vivid, they seemed to flow across the rock, lifelike and real. My fingers itched to touch the stone. Every time I saw it, I was struck by how natural it appeared. It fit.
Unlike me.
About the Author:

Colleen Myers was raised in a large family in the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where she grew up on Harlequin teen romances and stories from her mother’s work as a paramedic. She was her high school salutatorian and attended Allegheny College on the Presidential Scholarship.

After college, Colleen spent a year in service in the Americorp giving back to the community at a local Pittsburgh Women Infants and Children Clinic (WICC) before attending Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine on a military scholarship.

Upon completing medical school, Colleen attended residency at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland during 9/11. She earned three meritous service awards from the military along with outstanding unit awards. After serving seven yearsof active duty, she promptly landed a position at the VA to provide fellow veterans with optimum medical care. Still an avid fan of romances into adulthood, her love of the genre inspired her to hone her craft as a writer, focusing on contemporary romance and science fiction. Her background in medicine and the military provide an inspiring layer of creative realism to her stories and characters.

Her first book, Must Remember, the first of the Solum series, is being published by Champagne Press. The sequel, Can’t Forget is the recipient of the 2015 RWA New England Readers Award.

Colleen currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her son, and spends her spare time writing novels.

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