Tag Archives: Dark Fantasy

Blog Tour: The Southern Magicks by Ashton K. Rose

The Southern Magicks | Ashton K. Rose

The Southern Magicks #1

BANNER-BT---The-Southern-Magicks

Release Date: August 24th, 2022

Cover Artist: Fantasy & Coffee Design

Word Count: 80,000

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COVER - The Southern Magicks

Blurb

How do you prove your innocence when you don’t even remember whether you did it or not?

After a demon attack reveals Dexter’s secret – that his Gran taught him magic – the twenty-three-year-old librarian is forced to work for the local magical law enforcement agency in order to prove his loyalty, and hopefully save his grandmother from execution.

However, when someone tries to frame him for crimes he doesn’t remember committing, Dexter realizes he’ll have to start an investigation of his own. Joined by his beloved husband Eli, their best friend June, and his journalist cousin Kat, he desperately tries to prove his innocence…which is kind of difficult when gaps in his memory make him doubt everything he thinks he knows about himself.

The race against time begins. Can Dexter and his team uncover the criminals weaving the web of guilt around him before it’s too late, or is he going to lose everything and everyone he cares about?

Warnings: Assault, violent imagery, panic attack on page, police brutality

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Excerpt

Chapter 1, Scene 1:

I knew Nora Rowe had died in her home without anyone telling me.

I unlocked the door and my stomach dropped as I took in the sight of the small dim living room of her kit home, filled with books and old newspapers. The acrid smell of cigarettes and wood fire smoke filled my nose as I weaved my way through the stacks. Mismatched flatpack bookshelves that warped under the strain of thousands of books lined the walls. Her living room held no other furniture apart from an old TV and a worn leather armchair—the carpet covered by stained, threadbare rugs.

I flicked the first light switch I saw twice.

Why had I expected the power to work?

I walked over to the windows and pushed the dust-caked lace curtains aside.

My eyes watered as the sun poured into the room.

In the kitchen, the doors of the cupboards hung open. The only things left behind were a few cheap plastic items scattered across the scratched lino.

I stepped on a plastic cup on the floor. I wobbled on my feet for a few sick seconds before I grabbed the counter to steady myself. The sharp aluminium edge bit into the skin of my hand.

This place was a death trap!

She had over twenty library books I had to separate from the donations. My legs shook as I walked to the shelves closest to the door.

I ignored the erratic beating of my heart and the part of my brain telling me to run and pulled out my keys to flick the small key chain light on. I placed it between my teeth and examined the spines for library tags.

When the light hit the grimy glass of a small photo frame on the shelf, I saw something move behind me. I kept my eyes fixed on the glass and used my thumb to clear a spot of dust.

If it hadn’t moved, I could have ignored the human-shaped shadow reflected in the glass.

As a kid, I’d been hassled about seeing things and having an overactive imagination. When I was seven, Gran told me the truth. I shared her secret ability to see ghosts.

I turned to look at the woman who sat in the armchair.

This Nora was a couple of years older than the one who celebrated her birthday in the photo. Her gaze focused on the TV, which would have been new the year Queen Elizabeth was coronated.

I kept my gaze locked on her, blinking one eye at a time.

I slowed my breath and took a careful step backwards to the door. The back of my calf hit something that drove several points of pain into my skin.

The stack of books I knocked over sliced through my composure just as easily as it did the silence in the room,  the hard covers and spines slapping against each other as they hit the floor.

“What the fuck are you doing in my house?” Nora stood and turned to face me.

I knew I’d given the game away when I jumped out of my skin and almost dropped my keys.

I made a noise like a dying rat.

She knew I could hear her.

The first thing Gran had taught me was not to let a ghost realise you could sense them. It was dangerous—a trigger for the ire of a vengeful spirit.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Your son gave us the key.”

“Worthless piece of shit. Letting strangers into my house. He stole my grandma’s dinner set for drug money before my body was cold. I saw him put it in his car before he called someone to deal with the mess.”

“I’ll just be going now.”

“Actually, I’ll be going.”

I felt a sharp pain in my chest.

I tried to breathe, but my lungs refused to move.

I couldn’t breathe!

The edge of my vision went black as I gasped for air. I fell flat on my front. I was so focused on trying to breathe, I almost missed the presence pushing at the back of my mind. It started small, a hint of a suggestion. The temptation to give in grew. This was her body. I was nothing but a figment of her imagination. Dexter wasn’t real. Nothing more than a thought exercise to see what it’d be like to be a man her grandson’s age. With each second, it pressed harder, and the urge to give in grew.

Forget.

It would be easy to give in and never have another worry again. All the pain and pressure of life could vanish if I relaxed and let her take control.

No!

I shivered as I tried to move my arms to push myself onto my hands and knees. I focused on the door. It was only a short crawl. I had to do it. For a second, my vision went entirely black.

No!

I gathered all the strength I had and screamed. The remaining air expelled from my lungs. I took a sharp breath. I moved my stiff arms and pushed myself onto my hands and knees.

I was Dexter; I was real, and this was my body. Nothing would take that away from me.

I closed my eyes and pushed back the ghost. I wrapped a mental net around the invasive presence in my mind and forced it back through the hole where it had entered. A hole it had dug in a part of my mind I didn’t even know existed.

One arm forwards, one leg forwards, and breathe.

Move. Breathe. Move. Breathe.

I made it to the threshold and pulled the door open. I slid headfirst down the concrete stairs to lie on my back.

The pressure in my mind slowly vanished as I fell.

I opened my eyes.

Pale blue sky, almost cloudless

My eyes watered from the bright light.

The perfect day was oblivious to my plight. The mid-autumn day was hardly different from late summer. I could’ve laid there for hours, but the hot concrete felt like it was melting the skin off my back where my shirt had ridden up. I rolled onto the dead grass beside the cracked front path.

Sweat ran into my eyes as I sat up. I squeezed my eyes shut to clear my vision.

I could still feel the cold air wafting from the open door. I had to shut it. Mrs Gregory was looking for any excuse to fire me. I stood and walked to the threshold.

All I had to do was grab the handle, pull it closed, remove my hand from the handle and step back.

One quick movement.

I could do it.

As I stared, my eyes adjusted to the dim. She stood just inside, her hard eyes focused on me.

She smiled.

I stepped forwards and grabbed the door handle. Her hand shot out towards my arm.

Her pale, icy fingers clamped around my left wrist. I tightened the grip of my right hand around the door handle. I tucked my chin to my chest and threw myself backwards down the stairs, using the weight of my body to swing the door closed. My shirt ripped as I fell backwards; the sleeve stayed in her hand as my arm slipped free.

The air expelled from my lungs as I hit the ground.

I lay on my back and my lungs refused to work. Fixed to the spot in terror, I gasped for air as my body refused to perform. A function that was usually thoughtless had become my only thought, the pinpoint the world had narrowed to.

There was a dizzy relief as I breathed again, and after a few minutes I slowly stood.

Blood ran down my exposed arm, the only part of my body that had hit the thin concrete path.

Ghosts could touch me! Physically hurt me!

I closed my eyes and concentrated on my breathing, forcing back the panic attack that bubbled in the back of my mind. I knew about the possession, but the touch? Why hadn’t Gran told me? I needed to call Gran, but I knew she couldn’t help me. She hadn’t talked to me about magic since her accident when I was seventeen.

I suspected the accident was magic-related, but she’d kept silent about it.

She’d looked at me sceptically any time I’d mentioned magic afterwards, as though I spoke of childish whimsy and needed to grow up.

So I had.

I’d left Dunn and become a librarian, a nice stable job for a responsible young man who liked books.

A normal young man who had resigned himself to a life of pretending he couldn’t see the dead.

I’d somehow ended up with nowhere else to turn and ended up back in this town.

Now Gran was in America with Aunt Myrtle, so it was hard to get help.

I drove back to the library to pretend I’d been out for my lunch break.

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About The Author

AUTHOR PIC - The Southern Magicks - Ashton K. Rose

Ashton K. Rose (They/Them) is a Queer author who writes Australian paranormal, urban fantasy and mystery fiction filled with LGBTQIA+ characters.

Ashton currently lives in sunny Queensland able to enjoy the best of the Australian bush and beach. Ashton spent their first fourteen years being raised on a remote farm shaped around the remains of an old mining town. Surrounded by the skeletons of past lives and their matching ghost stories, Ashton developed a love for fantasy, horror, and dark fairy tales from a young age.

Carrying a love of ghost stories into adulthood Ashton started writing novels about magic, vampires and ghosts. Ashton decided to set The Southern Magicks in a world heavily inspired by the backdrop of the Australia bush/beach and the speculative fiction Ashton has consumed over a lifetime.

Social Media

Website: https://www.geekaflame.com/

Author Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100086363208232

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Geek_Aflame

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/geek_aflame/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21982765.Ashton_K_Rose

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/ashtonkrose

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Giveaway

Ashton is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour: Blood Moon by Catherine Lundoff

Blood Moon | Catherine Lundoff

A Wolves of Wolf Point Novel

banner 2 - Blood Moon

Publisher: Queen of Swords Press

Length: 84,000 words

Cover Artist: T.M. Roy

Release Date: March 15th, 2021

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/b/mBoX2M

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56585868-blood-moon

COVER - Blood Moon

Blurb

The Wolf’s Point werewolf pack, born from the magic that calls small groups of middle-aged women to embrace their inner and outer wolves, has been protecting the town for generations.

Now Becca Thornton and the Pack have their hands (and paws) full of all the trouble they can handle. Plus a bit extra. Pack member Erin Adams just found a dead body in the trunk of her car and confessed to murder. But no one’s sure who the victim is and Erin can’t remember what happened. Did Erin fall off the wagon and murder a former foe? She doesn’t trust herself and Becca’s beginning to have her doubts.

If that wasn’t enough, Becca’s ex-husband sold their old house and their new neighbors are clearly up to something. Can the Pack solve the mystery and clear Erin’s name before the next full moon? Or do the town’s new residents have other plans?

Excerpt

Wolf’s Point: a town in a mountain valley where some women of a certain age go through more than a few physical metamorphoses. The local werewolves are the traditional defenders of the valley, their transformations shaped by the valley’s magic. Time: the present, variously defined.

A few months ago, Becca Thornton, divorced and newly turned fifty, found herself changing more than she could have ever imagined when she joined the Pack. With her help, the werewolves survived their greatest threat to their existence when one of their former members returned to wreak vengeance on those she thought had destroyed her life.

She offered them a choice between a dangerous cure and certain death. Becca was part of that victory but it cost her a home and other things that she cherished from her past.

But now the werewolf hunters were gone, expelled from the valley by forces magical and mundane, so everyone’s life could go back to normal. Whatever that was.

Erin Adams looked out at the mountains and tried not to think about what was in the trunk of her car. At least the mountains around Wolf’s Point were still as beautiful as ever. She wondered if she’d ever get the chance to run through them again, feel the wind in her fur, the ground flying by under her paws. The Pack at her side.

That thought was enough to make her look back at her car. Erin rubbed her aching forehead with one hand and closed her eyes. This was, without question, the worst thing she’d ever done. Even if she couldn’t remember doing it.

But maybe there was still time to call Shelly and get her help to figure a way out of this mess that she’d blundered into. That was what Pack Alphas did, or so Shelly kept reminding her. But that might make Shelly an accessory if they got caught. Or rather, when she got caught. Erin closed her eyes for an instant; lying was never a thing she’d been good at or wanted to get good at. Anyone she called would almost certainly go down with her.

That thought weighed her down like a rock. The Pack couldn’t afford to be without its Alpha so soon after they got her back, not to mention what it would do to Pete and the kids. There was no way that she could drag Shelly into this.

Her thoughts turned to Becca, waded through a jumbled mess of emotions and came back with a single realization: they’d suspect her first. Becca was her friend, her housemate. Her…something they still hadn’t defined, but which felt more like girlfriend every day.  Her stomach did a slow, leisurely flip when she thought about that and she almost smiled. But this wasn’t the time to think about Becca. She couldn’t afford to be distracted, to be vulnerable. Not now.

Maybe there was another solution, a way to hide what had happened. But then what? She’d still know and she’d have to carry the burden of what she’d done, alone. And she knew where that road led. Falling off the wagon to cope with her guilt wasn’t an option, either.

Besides, if she ditched the body out here and it was found, the regular wolves would certainly get blamed for it. The new governor was already pushing for a wolf hunting season and that would put things right over the edge. She didn’t want that on her conscience either; the wild wolves were kin as much as they were cover for the Pack and important for the local ecology.

Erin ran her fingers through her short-cropped brown hair, wondering if there was anyone else she could turn to. But she couldn’t think of any other Pack member who’d be able to do anything about this situation, not more than she could do herself, anyway. It certainly wasn’t the sort of thing that her AA sponsor had signed up for, or any of her friends, for that matter. So she was on her own. There was nothing for it but to lie in the bed she’d made for herself.

She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and selected a contact. “Hi. It’s Erin. I’ve done something…I need…can you come up to Spruce Point? Yes, it’s important. I want you to see it before Sheriff Henderson does.”

She clicked the phone off and glanced toward the road. Nothing to do now but wait.

BANNER - Blood Moon

About the Series

Welcome to the town of Wolf’s Point, where menopause can kick off with a few additional changes, like bonus lycanthropy.

Join Pack members Becca Thornton, Erin Adams, and their friends as they fend off werewolf hunters and sundry folks of ill intent while preserving the town for the coming generations. And contend with coming out at midlife, recovery, transitioning, falling in love, making friends and building community.

About The Author

AUTHOR PIC - Blood Moon - Catherine Lundoff

Catherine Lundoff is an award-winning writer, editor and publisher based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her short stories and articles have appeared in numerous venues from Fireside Magazine to Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives.

Her books include the Wolves of Wolf’s Point series: Silver Moon and Blood Moon, Unfinished Business: Tales of the Dark Fantastic, Out of This World: Queer Speculative Fiction Stories, A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories, Crave and Night’s Kiss.

She is also the editor of the anthologies Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space) and Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories and co-editor (with JoSelle Vanderhooft) of Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic.

In addition, she writes erotica and erotic romance as Emily L. Byrne, including the novel Medusa’s Touch and the short story collections Desire and Knife’s Edge.

She is also the publisher at Queen of Swords Press, a genre fiction publisher specializing in fiction from out of this world and she teaches writing and editing workshops at the Rambo Academy, Broad Universe and other venues.

Social Media

Website: https://www.catherinelundoff.net

Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Clundoff/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/clundoff

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/670244.Catherine_Lundoff

Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/catherine-lundoff/

Giveaway

Catherine is giving away a $20 Queen of Swords Press gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour: Striking Balance by Jeanne G’Fellers

Striking Balance | Jeanne G’Fellers

Appalachian Elementals #3

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Publisher: Mountain Gap Books

Release Date: July 21st, 2020

Buy Links:

Mountain Gap Books | Amazon US Kindle | Amazon US Paperback

iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

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Blurb

Benjamin Schnell is the possessor of secrets he wishes he could bury beneath the rich Nolichucky river flat dirt he farms alongside his dear friend, Conall. But secrets lead to lies, lead to more secrets, and all eventually come home to roost in a bed of distrust, even on the 1779 Appalachian frontier.

After Ben is injured, he realizes there are odd things happening around him that others cannot see. Corner shadows take human shapes, lightning bugs dance in broad daylight, and the farm’s strange owner, Master Gow, returns with an offer Conall cannot refuse if Ben is to live. But making a deal with Master Gow will take them deep into the mountains to where a haunted king reigns and Fire balances Water in a delicate natural friendship.

Ben must learn self-acceptance and trust if he and Conall are going to survive because there can be no secrets in the mountains, only truth.

Another rich tale from the Appalachian Elementals world focusing on complex families containing rich LGBTQIA+ characters.

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Excerpt

I open my eyes to whitewashed walls and sunlight streaming through large open windows covered by gauzy curtains. This is a quiet space reminiscent of my youth. The window is wide to the afternoon air, my pillow is soft, my bed comfortable with sweetgrass, and I rest beneath the lightest of patchworks. And my shirt ‘tis cotton. Heaven. Yes, I am certain I have reached the hereafter. Perhaps I can see Mutti again and—

“Get back here ye’ fool!” I turn my head in time to see Alexandria pause before a window. Her face is flushed, and her hands are in fists at her sides. “Get back here wit’ mah pie!”

“Come get it, you flightless baggage!”

My thoughts of Heaven erode when Alexandria launches into a long line of Scots-Gaelic curses of the likes I have not heard since I left the mine. This is not the Alexandria I know and respect, not the voice of a proper lady at all. She hisses as she threatens to cut off his twiddle-diddles with her kitchen knife, cook them in the pottage, and feed them back to him.

“Return Lexy’s hard work, boy.” This is Master Gow’s voice, but ‘tis also not, higher in tone but equally powerful, and I wonder if he has a sister. “And the crust best not be broke!”

“But… ow!” I am unable to see what occurs next, but a man crosses in front of the window with a pie in his hands and something or someone I cannot see is dragging him. “Ow! King Dane, please! I am sorry, Lexy, real sorry!”

King? This woman who I suspect is related to Master Gow is named King Dane? Whatever… My cough returns, deep and fluidic, but ‘tis clearly not to be my death so I look for something to spit into.

“There’s a bucket of sawdust at your bedside, Benjamin.” Master Gow’s sister speaks from just outside the window. “I’ll be there shortly to talk with you.” Her voice turns away. “Go cut two days of wood for the main kitchen,” she tells the man who is still apologizing to Alexandria.

“But I got hides to scrape and…”

“Do it! Then scrape them hides.”

“Ow! Yes, King Dane.”

I crawl deep beneath my quilt when their voices fade. Where am I? At this point, I have no clue, but I believe I am alive. The table beside my bed is laden with bottles, jars, a fleam and cup, but there is also a mug so I sit up, examining the contents, water, before I drink.

I startle when the door to the apartment swings open. “Ah brought ye soup an’ tea.” Ceardach deposits a tray onto my lap. There’s also buttered bread on the tray, along with bacon, eggs, and a bowl of beans.

“Thank ye, but I need to…”

“Of course.” Ceardach pulls the tray away. “Th’ pot’s under th’ bed.”

I hesitate, but my need is too great so I swallow my pride, thankful when he moves to stand in the doorway with his back to me.

“Ye need tae drink more.” Ceardach returns to my side when I am abed and pushes the pot under the bed after he examines the contents. “An’ ye best get over bein’ bashful right quick. Someone will use it against ye.” He drops the tray onto my lap, “Eat.” pulls his pipe and pouch and begins filling the bowl, watching as I take up my spoon. The food has most certainly been made under Alexandria’s watch. I can tell by the seasonings, and… I am nearing famished.

“Slow an’ steady. Let one bite settle afore th’ next.” Ceardach lights his pipe so quickly I see nothing but a flash. The outside din continually grows while I eat, but Ceardach pays it no heed. I hear hammers striking anvils, a proliferation of swearing, wood being split and stacked, the sounds of a wider community. The smells coming through the door would be enough to turn my stomach if I was not so hungry. Baking bread, multiple privies, wood, ash, dirt, burning wood, herbs, and… I smell iron and sulfur, but none of it quells my appetite to the point I cease eating.

“Am I in a town?” I shovel more into my mouth.

“Of sorts. Ye will grow accustomed tae it all.” Ceardach blows out a billow of white smoke that rings his head then drifts away. “Yer cough an’ congestion will fade in time.”

I nod and bite into my bread. My appetite must be part of my recovery, a drive for nourishment so I might heal quickly. There is another bed I have ignored until now, unmade, with blankets folded neatly at the foot. “Where am I?”

“In the kingdom.” He points to my water. “Drink.”

“But…”

“Drink first.”

I am obedient, but he tells me to empty the mug before he will speak further. “Good, now—” Ceardach raises his head. “Ah, here’s yer answer.”

I attempt to sort through all I see, but ‘tis difficult. Is this Master Gow or—

“Stop gawkin’. ‘Twill get you slapped ‘round here.”

“If not hit or cut,” adds Ceardach. “Sit, Dane. Ah will step out but stay close.”

“Aye, Ceardach, thank you.”

I see a woman’s face, a man’s work cap atop her head. “You’re still under my protection. That hasn’t changed, but the rest…” She wears trousers and a calf-length smith’s apron over a man’s red check work shirt with rolled sleeves. “You’re starin’ even longer than Conall did.” She pulls a tobacco twist from her apron pocket and bites off a piece. “Are you as tongue-tied too?”

“I…” This woman bears the same tattows as Master Gow. “No, sir, I mean, miss, I mean…”

“You’ll address me as King Dane ‘til I tell you elsewise.” My spit bucket slides across the floor to her feet. “How will you address me?”

“I…”

“Say it, Benjamin.” She spits into the bucket. “‘Tis important you know my station ‘round here.”

“Yes, King Dane.” But this is a woman. How does she warrant the title of king?

“And you never disobey your king, right, Benjamin?”

“Yes… King Dane?”

“Smart man. ‘Tis why I chose you, but I made Conall in the process, an excellent deal I am pleased we could accommodate.” King Dane seems amused by my gaping mouth. “Calm yourself. I hear your heart poundin’ from here.”

About The Author

AUTHOR PIC - Striking Balance - Jeanne GFellers

Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.

Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.

Author Website: https://jeannegfellersauthor.com/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Jeannegfellersauthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jlgfellers

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorjeannegfellers/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/entity/author/B01N0YWCT7?

Giveaway

Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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