Jackal

 

Jessica James Mystery, Book 4
Mystery
Date Published: September 30, 2018
Publisher: KAOS Press
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With only an old photograph to go on, spunky heroine Jessica James is sent on a mission by her dying mother to find a washed up magician called the Mesmerizer. Along the way, Jessica gets way more than she bargained for when she stumbles into a black market organ ring and learns secrets about her mother that will change her own life forever. The cast of characters she meets on her whirlwind search of Las Vegas will have you laughing out loud. With wit and grit, Jessica and her posse take on the dangerous and deadly seamy side of Vegas.
The latest from Award Winning Author, Kelly Oliver will keep you entertained from beginning to end.
Other Books in the Jessica James Mystery Series:
WOLF
A Jessica James Mystery, Book One
Publisher: KAOS Press
Published: June 2016
Voted #1 Women’s Mystery On Goodreads
 
Forward Magazine Award Best Mystery Finalist
 
IPPY Award Gold Medalist, Best Mystery/Thriller
What if the evil professor you fantasized about murdering actually wound up… dead?
Award winning author, Kelly Oliver serves up an irreverent murder mystery with flavors of hard-boiled mobster grit along with a fierce female lead readers will adore. Endearingly awkward, and downright hilarious, Jessica James is a brilliant philosopher who’s much more than curious—she’s fearless. Plus there’s Jesse’s ragtag posse—Amber, the tech-savvy hippie, Jack, a wise-cracking stoner, and Lolita, the seductive “poker Tsarina”—as the icing on the cake.
Smart, capable women shine in this cast. For anyone who has ever wanted to murder the Wolf in their life.
COYOTE
A Jessica James Mystery, Book Two
Publisher: KAOS Press
Published: August 2016
Silver Falchion Winner
Can a 21-year-old grad student crush Goliath? All eyes on Jessica James, resident badass…
Jessica James, scrappy cowgirl-turned-philosopher, returns home for summer break, only to take on one of the biggest oil companies in the country—and its connections to corruption, sex trafficking, and murder. A murder way too close to home…
She’s not home an hour when her cousin Mike hints that a series of freak accidents at the lumber mill where he works might not be what they seem. So when Mike is killed in the saw room the day after an argument with the mill’s new owners, the Knight brothers, Jessica knows it’s no accident.
Working at Glacier Park to earn just enough money for books and whiskey, Jessica meets the secretive Kimi RedFox, who’s on a mission to stop Knight Industries from fracking on Blackfeet land. Even more distressing, Kimi accuses the Knight brothers of operating a prostitution ring on the reservation. It doesn’t take long until Jessica is pulled into Kimi’s David versus Goliath battle with the Knight brothers. Ready to fight to save Kimi’s young sisters from human trafficking, and find out who killed Mike, Jessica isn’t as ready for the surprising discovery about the accident that killed her father eleven years ago.
Fans who like their female protagonists fierce and fearless will get a real kick out of this one from award winning author, Kelly Oliver.
FOX
A Jessica James Mystery, Book Three
Publisher: KAOS Press
Published: May 2017
GENES TO DIE FOR—AND SOMEONE DOES…
When Jessica James wakes up half naked behind a dumpster in downtown Chicago, she thinks at first the hot intern feeding her Fiery Mule Slammers slipped her a Mickey. But after a pattern of similar incidents around Northwestern Research Hospital, Jessica realizes she wasn’t raped, she was robbed. Robbed of something as valuable as life itself. Hunting for the predator drugging and dumping Ivy League co-eds, Jessica discovers secrets about her own identity that force her to rethink her past. The solution to the mystery lies in the cowgirl philosopher’s boot-cut genes.
The “dumpster girls” are all top of their class, attractive college girls, who are drugged and dropped unconscious behind dumpsters. The police are baffled. But the perp doesn’t stop there—one of his victims turns up dead. Armed with her quick wit and cowgirl grit, Jessica takes it on herself to solve the bewildering medical mystery and save herself and her friends… before they become the next grisly victims.
At Jesse’s beck and call is her longtime confidante Jack Grove, an easy-going stoner and brilliant third-year medical student in abnormal psychiatry, who has a secret crush on her. But while Jack is trying to understand the criminal mind, his classmate and rival, Max White, is trying to eliminate it through genetic engineering. Competing for Jessica’s attention, Jack and Max become the primary suspects. Meanwhile, Max has a secret of his own: he’s aiding a prominent Chicago woman in her fertility woes. And just for good measure, there’s a blackmailer afoot.
Grittier than its predecessors, and far more haunting, Kelly Oliver’s third page-turning Jessica James adventure blends a smartly-funny and delightfully complex murder mystery with a touch of medical thriller, in which Jessica and Jack battle biological crimes at the hands of a unique—and menacing—thief.
About the Author
Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, best-selling, author of The Jessica James Mystery Series, including WOLF, COYOTE, FOX, and JACKAL. Her debut novel, WOLF: A Jessica James Mystery, won the Independent Publisher’s Gold Medal for best Thriller/Mystery, was a finalist for the Forward Magazine award for best mystery, and was voted number one Women’s Mysteries on Goodreads. The second novel, COYOTE won a Silver Falchion Award for Best Mystery. And, the third, FOX was a finalist for both the Claymore Award and the Silver Falchion.
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Posthumous

 

Middle Grade
Date Published: June 2018
Publisher: Flying Solo Press
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Friendship, perseverance, and the power of belief shine in this novel about a girl trying to stay connected to her late mother.
While living in Paris, Ellie Kerr’s mom penned a series of children’s stories, yet sadly died before they could be published.
Once Ellie and her father return to the US, the twelve-year-old decides to finish what her mother could not. When Ellie is mysteriously blocked by a password on her mother’s computer, she becomes determined to find the truth — even though four failed attempts will destroy the computer’s data, including her mom’s stories!
Ellie’s father thinks that the code is unbreakable, but Ellie believes that her mother might have left a posthumous message in the new password. With the help of friends, Ellie tries to crack the code, publish the books, and ultimately honor her mother.
Praise for Posthumous:
“A deeply moving story that belongs on any juvenile bookshelf.” -Foreword Reviews
 
 
“A reminder that inclusiveness and kindness can always defeat fear.” -Kirkus Reviews
 
 
“Warmly suited to a middle-grade audience, with relatable and vulnerable first-person narration, authentic dialogue, and apt descriptions.” -BookLife Prize
About the Author
Paul Aertker (ETT Kerr)  is a children’s book writer, teacher, and a frequent speaker at elementary and middle schools.
He began his teaching career in West Africa with the Peace Corps where he helped establish the town’s first public library.
His first series, Crime Travelers, consistently ranks in the top spot on multiple Amazon categories.
His newest book, Posthumous, is available in 2018.
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Rachel’s Search

 

A Satilla County Novel
Historical Fiction
Date Published: July 2018
Publisher: Outskirts Press
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What does the second coming of the Klan portend for Satilla County? Is it one more sign evil is winning? Setting out to find answers, a northern-born young journalist experiences life in the deep South, the struggle to survive for whites and blacks. Her search turns personal and horrific when her best friend disappears.
Boston born journalist Rachel Mellon sees the second coming of the Klan in 1915 as more fuel on a fire already burning out of control, not only in Satilla County but around the world. To her, the new South appears to be as bad as the old, or worse.  Challenged by her editor, she goes out to experience life for herself out there in the pine woods. She finds poor whites and even poorer blacks struggling to survive against great odds.  She finds suffering and hatred but also hope and love.  When best friend Eve disappears, Rachel’s search turns personal and horrific.
About the Author
Oscar Patton is the author of the Satilla County series of novels. He says, “I use history, memory, and imagination to create regional stories with universal, timeless themes.  As William Faulkner put it, I write about the ‘human heart in conflict with itself.'”
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Witch Dance

 

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Historical Thriller
Date Published: 9/15/18
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Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.
When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.
The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.
With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two-thousand-year-old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?

Review

I absolutely love this cover. It is beautiful!
This is beyond just a Thriller.
Lori Crane has brought to life very multi-dimensional characters and given them a purpose. The world she has created is so vivid and really helps the reader feel like they are there with the characters.

A strong and fast paced plot will keep you invested the entire way through. This was one of those reads that really made me feel a deeper connection than I was expecting.

The characters, plot, and pacing were all spot on and really helped to elevate the novel. A superb not only historical read, but thriller as well.
About the Author

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BESTSELLING AND AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR LORI CRANE IS A WRITER OF HISTORICAL FICTION AND THE OCCASIONAL THRILLER. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.
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Thelema

 

YA Fantasy
Date Published:  March 2018
Publisher: Thelemic Arts
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What if you were born into a world where the gods once walked among men and women? Where you wake up every morning to find a mystical pendant around your neck and know, as everyone knows, that the gods had granted you this awesome gift, to house your will, allowing you to perform incredible feats. But what if that blessing was also a curse in that it tethered your soul to the world; and if you removed it, you would forfeit the will to live? What if your pendant was merely the missing half to someone else’s pendant? Someone whom you’ve never met, and may never meet, for the gods were selfish and cruel in keeping you apart? Everytime you gaze down at your pendant, you feel the promise of great joy and despair simultaneously as every fiber of your being is drawn to your other half – your twin flame.
If only you could summon the will of a god yourself, perhaps you’d be united.
What if this same world was inhabited by legions of monsters known as juristic persons – living, breathing corporations with wills and minds of their own? What if such creatures had rights and powers that far exceeded those of humans?
Into such a world were born Dean Maynard and Jane Stewart – Justices of the Peace who use the Thelemic arts, along with their martial prowess and knowledge of the Law, to bring about order and justice in the land of Severa. When a routine trial by jury gets turned into a trial by combat, however, the balance of power between mankind and its creations shifts, leading some to question whether the course of history will be forever changed, and humanity’s future suddenly becomes uncertain.
As everyone tries to find peace and purpose in their lives, dark and sinister forces begin to emerge from the shadows thrusting the Department of Justice into a battle for the soul of Severa and the lives of its citizenry.
Journey now into that world in this fantastical tale of love, action, intrigue, and will.
Excerpt
Where could he be? Justice Jane Stewart adjusted her dorky black glasses
on her gentle face and brushed her bangs from her eyes as she reviewed
the file in her hand for a third time.
The seventeenth day of the month of the Lamb, near Samuel Forest, just
outside Fiber City, Belier. Sixth step of Rael. She looked around to see the sordid
remains of the heavily deforested region that had once been Samuel Forest. The
location was right. The presence of the adverse parties, as well as the jury,
confirmed it.
She looked at her watch. It was already half a step passed midday.
He’s late. Could he have gotten lost?
In high-profile cases such as this, a Justice of the Peace would sometimes
request the trial be held at the scene of the crime in order to help the jury
understand certain key factors about the case. Jane specifically chose this
location in order that they might see the devastation the defense’s actions had
wrought to the trees, the animals, and the land itself. She hoped they’d be moved
to side with her against the adverse party.
However, none of her careful tactics would work unless the judge arrived
soon to administer the proceedings.
And I can’t do it without you, Dean.
The advocates for the defense began whispering amongst themselves.
“Is everything set?” asked the one.
“Yes,” said the other, “It’s been arranged, just as we planned. All we have
to do is wait for the trial to finish before we make our move.”
“That may not be necessary,” said the first, in a sinister insinuation, “At
this rate, there might not even be a trial. The other judge isn’t even here yet.”
“It’s not like they need two Justices to try a case, right?”
“No, but that was the agreement and it’s at our discretion whether we
exercise our rights or not. We both know our clients are guilty as hell, so we’d
be fools not to press any advantage we can.”
“In that case, let’s hope he never shows. Then we won’t even have to get
our hands dirty. We can just stand on our right to a speedy trial, motion for
dismissal, and since he’s not here, we would enter into default judgment and
estoppel. If that happens, the Department of Justice won’t be able to try this case
again because of the provision against double jeopardy.”
“That would certainly be an embarrassment for one of Severa’s top
prosecutors.”
“Just think how disappointed she’ll be to see all her hard work wasted
because her partner couldn’t be bothered to show up on time.”
The two shady lawyers cackled and snickered amongst themselves.
“We’ll give him a few more minutes before we move to dismiss,” said the
one, “Just so we can say we were gracious and thereby avoid drawing any
suspicion to ourselves.”
Jane’s slender calloused hands began to shake with anxiety.
Come on, Dean. Where are you?
She gripped the curved hilt of the two-handed hunting saber at her side in
an effort to calm her nerves. Her heart pounded. She closed her doe brown eyes
and took a deep breath. Judge or no judge, she could not stand idly by any longer.
It was still possible to stall for time by going over preliminaries.
“I guess we’ll get started,” Jane declared, the tinge of an Ionian accent still
lingered in her voice from her days in finishing school as a child abroad.
She turned to her clerk and said, “Hanji, summon Adaiah.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Hanji replied.
The young black-haired clerk grabbed the pendant around his neck with
his left hand and drew his quillon dagger from its sheath with his right. He held
the blade out in front of him with the tip pointed down, like an ice pick. This
position would allow him to draw energy out from the weapon and, in this case,
summon Adaiah.
“Arcesso!” he shouted.
Sparks of electricity and light surrounded his short, frail body as a surge
of unseen energy traveled from the dagger, up his right arm, through his stomach,
down his left arm, into his Thelema, through his heart, along his spine, and out
the top of his head, before finally discharging into the sky.
The energy body’s meridian path, through which one’s chi flowed.
A creature the size of the blade emerged from the disc at the hilt and floated
in midair just above it. She looked like a short, slender black bear with white
tufts of fur on her elbows, knees, paws, and ears. She had a long, thin prehensile
tail that ended in a white ball of fluff, as well as a pair of velvet-covered wings.
Her name was Adaiah and she was a Notary. Every Justice had one by operation
of law, though it usually fell to the Justice’s clerk to manage them.
The Notary’s sole job was to take in everything that transpired around
them and retain it with perfect memory for later use. The testimony of a Notary
was held as self-evident, legally treated as indisputable fact; and for this reason,
they made excellent record keepers.
“Adaiah,” Jane commanded, “Begin recording.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Adaiah replied in a high-pitched, squeaky voice. Her eyes
flashed white and a pale blue glow enveloped her. From that point onward, she
would remember everything that happened to Jane and Hanji until she exited the
trance.
Hanji returned his knife to its sheath. Beyond being the indenture that
bound Adaiah’s soul to the world, it could still serve as a weapon like any other.
“Clerk, call the roll,” Jane ordered.
“Yes, ma’am,” said Hanji. He cleared his throat and turned to the restless
crowd that had gathered in the clear-cut forest to watch the trial. “Are the
advocates for Bunyan Logging and Blue Ox Shipping here?”
“Here.” They said.
“Kindly step forward and present your indentures.”
They did as they were instructed. A man in a dark suit emerged from the
crowd and held up a small statue carved to look like a beaver wielding an axe
and wearing a flannel shirt with overalls and large boots. A lawyerly woman
also emerged from the crowd and held up a similar totem that looked like a
Minotaur with a ring piercing its nose and a yoke around its neck. These were
the indentures of the juristic persons of their respective companies.
Hanji squatted down in front of them. This time, he gripped his Thelema
with his right hand and placed his left hand on the ground in front of them.
“Infero!” he shouted.
The same light as before surrounded him. A surge of energy traveled from
the ground, up his legs, along his spine, through his heart, into his Thelema, along
his right arm, through his stomach, down his left arm, out his hand, and back into
the ground before discharging. A pair of glowing red seals, about the size of
Hanji’s hand, appeared. Each seal consisted of two squares offset by forty-five
degrees so as to form an eight-pointed star and inscribed in a circle, with a smaller
circle inscribed inside both of them. Centered within each of the triangles formed
by the overlapping squares was an elegant sigil depicting one of the eight
heavenly bodies.
Having completed the seals, Hanji withdrew his hand and stood up.
“Please place your indentures into the summoning circles,” he said.
The two advocates set their totems on the ground within the seals and then
stepped back. Hanji stretched out his arm towards them.
“Ligo!” he shouted.
The seals began to glow more intensely as a wall of light rose up to
surround the statues, binding them in place.
“All set,” said Hanji.
“Good,” Jane declared.
Such formal protocols as these aren’t strictly necessary, but they at least
help me buy time.
Jane grabbed her Thelema pendant with her right hand and held out her
left hand towards the two indentures. For anyone who was right-handed, this
position would have allowed them to emit energy from their left hand; but
because Jane was left-handed, the flow of chi through her meridians was
reversed, and so it would yield the opposite effect. Thus, she used it to draw
energy out of them the way Hanji had summoned Adaiah.
“All rise!” she commanded.
Her petite warrior body lit up in a bright aura much like Hanji’s did, only
more intensely. The seals around the statuettes erupted in a flash of electricity
and light. Two towering creatures slowly emerged from the indentures. Each
measured about eight to nine meters tall. Their appearance conformed to the
likenesses of their totems – an axe-wielding beaver and a burly, blue Minotaur.
These were the juristic persons of Bunyan Logging and Blue Ox Shipping in their
living, breathing forms.
They were also the principle defendants in this case.
Jane released her pendant, letting it fall against her chest.
Now we just need to wait for Dean to show up.
As if on cue, the rumbling of an engine crescendoed like rolling thunder
as Justice Dean Maynard came riding over the hill on his motorcycle. He parked
the vehicle under a tree away from the action and walked towards the group
without any sense of urgency at all. He marched with the confident poise of a
medieval knight having just dismounted from his trusted steed. His hooded black
cloak and the bastard sword hanging from his side only served to reinforce the
image. He wore his weapon with pride, like a badge of honor, for indeed a
Justice’s sword was a badge of their authority.
A modern rendition of the classic priestly robes, the uniform of a Justice
of the Peace consisted of a simple, yet elegant frock jacket and matching pants,
both black with elaborate gold trim around the edges. The jacket was designed
so that it could be worn over a judge’s regular shirt or blouse and provided a thin
layer of padded protection. A Justice’s duties to give chase and to engage in
combat were also taken into consideration, with most choosing to wear leather
boots of some kind as opposed to dress shoes.
Slight variations in the overall attire existed between male and female, and
also between members of the same sex, depending on season, climate, and the
need for mobility, with some parts being cut longer or shorter than others, but all
falling under the same general style. The idea, in the minds of the outfit’s
designers, was that anyone could look upon a Justice of the Peace and recognize
them instantly as such. This was not merely decorative, but practical as well in
that a Justice served as a symbol of authority among the people out in the real
world.
The uniform also came with a cloak, which had a variety of subtle features,
such as earbuds, a visor, and an inflatable pillow all sewn into the hood for long-
distance trips.
A Justice’s cloak was usually black with gold trim as well, though in more
recent times, some latitude was given to tailor its interior to the judge’s personal
preference and to help distinguish them from one another. The interior of Dean’s
cloak was a cobalt blue that matched his deep-set eyes, while Justice Stewart’s
was a deep red-violet that paired well with her long, chestnut brown hair.
Jane felt relieved to see Justice Maynard finally arrive. Her opponents
were less than thrilled.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Dean nonchalantly, “I’m afraid my clerk was
nowhere to be found this morning. We’ll just have to start without him.”
“We’ve already started, Your Honor,” Jane said curtly.
Dean sulked in disappointed. “Aw, man, really? Well, in that case …”
He grabbed his Thelema with his right hand and knelt down on the ground,
touching the earth with his left hand.
“Saepio!” he shouted.
His body lit up even more intensely than Jane’s had. A thin wall of blue
light stretched out from behind him and carved a path in an enormous arc around
him. It continued outward, encircling Jane, Hanji, the jury, the juristic persons,
their agents, and the other officers and onlookers who were present for the trial, before eventually closing in on itself. All told, it formed a giant hemispherical dome, some fifty meters in diameter around them, isolating the group from the outside world. This was Dean’s Chambers. Its purpose was to prevent interference with the trial and all Justices were given discretion on when they could invoke such a power. Once erected, however, no one and nothing could enter or leave the area without the consent of its creator.
Dean slowly stood back up and released
About the Author
Marushia Dark is a mysterious figure whose real identity is unknown.  Only to a select trusted few are privileged enough to be invited to know their secret.  Marushia can often be found on social media, writing from the shadows of a blog called “The Darkness Files.”  Marushia self-identifies as your favorite dark transhumanist and has created a number of campaigns to help bring human beings together in an otherwise divided world.  As for why they choose to remain anonymous, you can learn more at: http://www.darknessfiles.com/
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Gap-Toothed Girl

 

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Contemporary Fiction
Date Published: August 2018
Publisher: Pearl Button Press
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“Tournament night in a sweltering Las Vegas stadium, and the girl with the gap-toothed smile stood bleeding in her ballet slippers.”
Thus begins Gap-Toothed Girl, the story of Dusty May, a Lakota orphan with an iron will, who runs away from the horrific circumstances of her foster home and her foster father — a man of beast-like brilliance and power — to pursue her dream of lightness and ballet, even as her foster father unleashes an army to bring her down.
Part literary fiction, part thriller, part dance story, Gap-Toothed Girl is at its core a tale of human joy and freedom of will — a “relentlessly paced novel” combining “the surreal imagery of Nabokov with the psychological complexity of Dostoevsky” (Fort Collins Forum) to investigate the depths of the human psyche and the indomitable will to succeed, ultimately plumbing the very nature of human happiness and the human soul.


Excerpt
 
Chapter 1
Tournament night in a sweltering Las Vegas stadium, and the girl with the gap-toothed smile stood bleeding in her ballet slippers. The sodium lights of the arena lay upcast on the low-hanging sky above. An electrical charge hummed through the air: a crackling undercurrent that came neither from the lights nor from the distant heat lightning, but from the galvanized excitement of the crowd.
Before her, some twenty feet away and elevated four feet off the ground, there stretched a long green balance beam, atop which, at the southernmost end, stood eight empty whiskey bottles. The bottles were perfectly upright and in single file. A small springboard crouched in front.
High above her floated a long banner which said, in  shimmering red letters:
A CONTEST OF MOTION
She closed her eyes and inhaled. The air was dry. She stood alone upon the stage. She was dusky-limbed, Lakota. She held her breath a moment and then she released it.
When she opened her eyes, her gaze settled on the objects before her: the springboard, the balance beam, the whiskey bottles. The heat hung heavy. A rill of sweat slid between her breasts. She didn’t see the tiny camera-flash explosions igniting everywhere around her from within the darkness of the stadium. She forgot that there were thousands of eyes fixed upon her. She forgot also the pain in her toes and was unaware of the bleed-through and the blood leaking like ink across the entire top part of her slipper.
Offstage in the shadows, a lanky youth in a baseball cap gave a thumbs-up, but it wasn’t directed toward her.
A man with a microphone emerged on stage. He was thin and well-dressed and darkly complexioned.
A hush came over the crowd. The man held the microphone to his mouth. His voice came booming through the speakers with great clarity.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, “ladies and gentleman. May I have your attention, please. Thank you. We are finally at the end of the night, and — my Lord — what a night it’s been. What a competition.”
The crowd erupted.
“We have seen — excuse me, please — we have seen tonight some of the very best dancers in the world, and I’m sure you know this is not an exaggeration. We have only one more to go. Did we save the best for last? Need I remind you that there’s fifty thousand dollars at stake here?”
He paused.
“Now,” he said, “now, then. Do you see this young woman up on the stage with me? I’m told she’s about to do something that only one other person in human history is known to have done, and that was Ms. Bianca Passarge, of Hamburg, Germany, in 1958 — except Ms. Passarge, I am told, was not mounting a balance beam when she did her routine. Can this little girl — all 115 pounds of her — I say, can she do it? Can she steal the money from these big city boys and girls, the Bronx break dancers and West Coast B-Boys and all the others who have astounded us here tonight with their strength and agility and their grace of motion? Folks, we are about to find out.”
The crowd erupted again. The MC turned and looked at the girl on stage behind him.
He winked.
He lowered the microphone and said in an unamplified voice that sounded peculiar to her:
“Are you ready?”
He smiled kindly.
She nodded.
He gave her the A-OK sign with his fingers and nodded back. Then her lips broke open in return, disclosing, very slightly, her endearing gap-toothed smile.
He brought the microphone back to his mouth and turned again to the audience.
“Here we go!” he said.
The crowd went dead-silent in anticipation.
“Okay, okay!” she thought. All ten of her fingers wiggled unconsciously and in unison.
Abruptly, then, the lights above her darkened while simultaneously the lights behind her brightened, and then the music began: fast-paced and throbbing and happy.
She bolted forward.
She sprinted toward the balance beam and with astonishing speed executed a back handspring onto the springboard, vaulting into a full fluid backflip on one foot upon the beam — which in the very same motion turned into another back handspring, and then another, all to within inches of the bottles at the far end of the beam. This entire process took no more than five seconds. Here she paused for a fraction and then performed a half turn. From there she leapt lightly onto the first upright whiskey bottle, which wobbled only slightly under her weight. She placed her other toe catlike upon the next whiskey bottle, and then she raised herself en point to great heights….

 

About the Author

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Ray A. Harvey, novelist, essayist, published poet, athlete, and editor, son of Firman Charles Harvey (RIP) and his wife Cecilia, youngest of thirteen half brothers and half sisters, was born and raised in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. He’s worked as a short-order cook, copyeditor, construction laborer, crab fisherman, janitor, pedi-cab driver, bartender, and more. He’s also written and ghostwritten a number of published books, poems, and essays, but no matter where he’s gone or what he’s done to earn a living, literature and learning have always existed at the core of his life.
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Dagger’s Destiny

 

Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 2
Historical Fantasy
Publisher: Apollo Raven Publisher
Release Date: September 26, 2018
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A Celtic warrior princess accused of treason for aiding her enemy lover must win back her father’s love and trust
In the rich and vibrant tale, Author Linnea Tanner continues the story of Catrin and Marcellus that began with the awarding-winning novel APOLLO’S RAVEN in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings Series. Book 2: DAGGER’S DESTINY sweeps you into an epic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia.
War looms over 24 AD Britannia where rival tribal rulers fight each other for power and the Romans threaten to invade to settle their political differences. King Amren accuses his daughter, Catrin, of treason for aiding the Roman enemy and her lover, Marcellus. The ultimate punishment is death unless she can redeem herself. She must prove loyalty to her father by forsaking Marcellus and defending their kingdom—even to the death. Forged into a warrior, she must overcome tribulations and make the right decisions on her quest to break the curse that foretells her banished half-brother and the Roman Empire will destroy their kingdom.
Yet, when Catrin again reunites with Marcellus, she is torn between her love for him and duty to King Amren. She must ultimately face her greatest challenger who could destroy her life, freedom, and humanity.
Will Catrin finally break the ancient prophecy that looms over her kingdom? Will she abandon her forbidden love for Marcellus to win back her father’s trust and love? Can King Amren balance his brutality to maintain power with the love he feels for Catrin?
 
Other Books in the Curse of Clansmen and Kings series:
Apollo’s Raven
Curse of Clansmen and Kings, Book 1
Publisher: Apollo Raven Publisher
Published: April 2017
A Celtic warrior princess is torn between her forbidden love for the enemy and duty to her people.
AWARD-WINNING APOLLO’S RAVEN sweeps you into an epic Celtic tale of forbidden love, mythological adventure, and political intrigue in Ancient Rome and Britannia. In 24 AD British kings hand-picked by Rome to rule are fighting each other for power. King Amren’s former queen, a powerful Druid, has cast a curse that Blood Wolf and the Raven will rise and destroy him. The king’s daughter, Catrin, learns to her dismay that she is the Raven and her banished half-brother is Blood Wolf. Trained as a warrior, Catrin must find a way to break the curse, but she is torn between her forbidden love for her father’s enemy, Marcellus, and loyalty to her people. She must summon the magic of the Ancient Druids to alter the dark prophecy that threatens the fates of everyone in her kingdom.
Will Catrin overcome and eradicate the ancient curse. Will she be able to embrace her forbidden love for Marcellus? Will she cease the war between Blood Wolf and King Amren and save her kingdom?
Excerpt
Treason
July, 24 AD, Southeast Britannia
The image of her father being wounded at the prisoner exchange haunted Princess Catrin as she entered the cave’s dank womb where warriors had secretly carried the casualties. Under the illumination of a flaming torch, she found several men hovering over the king’s motionless body. She feared the decision to use the dark forces of the Ancient Druids to alter the future could doom her father and people.
Catrin trembled as she knelt by her father and studied his bloodsmeared face. A chill of foreboding sliced down her spine. Just that morning, she had made love with Marcellus on what could be her father’s deathbed.
She placed the palm of her hand on his forehead. His skin was cold and clammy, but he was still alive.
Feeling the bloody streaks on his tunic, she pulled her fingers away and turned to Cynwrig, the king’s most-trusted guard. “Help me remove the tunic. I need to stop the bleeding!”
Cynwrig supported the king as Catrin cut the fabric from his chest. The ghastly crisscross cuts and deep abdominal gash made her cringe. A stench like rotten eggs assaulted her nostrils.
King Amren fidgeted. “Fetch my Druidess.”
“No!” Catrin snapped. “Agrona is a traitor. We can’t risk letting anyone
know we’ve rescued and are tending you. There are herbs near the wall that will help reduce the swelling.”
Catrin clasped her father’s icy hands and noticed his sunken, bloodshot eyes. She looked to Cynwrig. “Heat a knife so I can seal his wounds. I also need water from the river.”
“Do what my daughter says,” rasped Amren.
Cynwrig pointed to the cave’s opening. “I’ll start a fire over there and get someone to fetch the water.”
While Cynwrig prepared the fire, Catrin rummaged through several pouches, searching for the proper herbs. After a warrior returned with a bucket of water, she soaked several strips of willow bark in the container, then crushed dried blackberry, borage, and sage stems in a ceramic mortar.
She finally added vinegar to the powder and stirred the contents with her finger into a green paste.
She looked at Cynwrig. “Is the knife ready?”
Cynwrig pulled the glowing red blade from the flames. “It looks hot enough.”
“Then bring it to me.”
Catrin took the knife from Cynwrig, who then restrained the king’s arms. She pressed the searing blade on the wounds, methodically moving downward. The king writhed in agony, his eyes as wild as a wounded animal’s as he fought Cynwrig’s restraint. Concentrating on her task, Catrin swallowed the bile in her mouth and handed the dagger to Cynwrig to reheat the blade. Light-headed and in a cold sweat, she leaned into the hard wall to brace herself, then applied the paste dressing over her father’s reddened wounds. Even with her gentle touch, his muscles flinched. Observing the anguish on his face, she placed a blanket under his head and gave him chamomile and poppy in water to ease his pain.
She continued the treatment by placing bark strips on the dressing until the king’s grip around her wrist stopped her.
“We need to speak about Marcellus,” Amren said with a growl from deep within his throat.
Catrin winced, apprehensive her father knew about her relationship with the Roman hostage placed under her charge. She warily studied the king as he closed his eyes and breathed deeply. He waved Trystan, his second- in-command, over and whispered to him. With a nod, Trystan ordered everyone away.
The hairs on Catrin’s neck prickled. The only reason her father would order warriors away would be to reprimand her. She wilted under the king’s burning glare as he began questioning. “Trystan told me when we were imprisoned together that Cynwrig found you unconscious in Marcellus’s arms. I want to know what happened between the two of you.”
Catrin hesitated, fearing her revelation would anger her father and cause his condition to deteriorate. “You should rest now. We can discuss this later.”
“No. Tell me now!” Amren snapped.
Catrin could feel the king’s eyes probing her like a sharp-edged scalpel for the truth. She bit her lower lip to stop it from quivering. “When I was stricken with the falling sickness, Marcellus came to my aid.”
“Trystan said the Roman was found naked with you, and Agrona accused him of bewitching you with an amulet!”
“Marcellus had just finished bathing,” Catrin answered, suddenly feeling queasy.
Amren cocked an eyebrow. “Bathing?”
“Yes.”
“And that is all that happened?”
Catrin froze under her father’s cold stare.
“Answer me!”
“You can’t trust what Agrona says,” Catrin replied.
“And why is that?”
“She is a druidic spirit from your past.”
 
About the Author
Since childhood, award-winning author, Linnea Tanner, has passionately read about ancient civilizations and mythology that held women in higher esteem, particularly the enigmatic Celts reputed to be warriors and druids. She has extensively researched and traveled to sites described in the Curse of Clansmen and King series. A native of Colorado, Linnea attended the University of Colorado and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. She lives in Windsor with her husband and has two children and six grandchildren.
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