Category Archives: Book Blitz

Book Blitz and Author Interview: ‘Incandescence’ by Elena Leman

Title: Incandescence

Series: Shadowlight #1

Author: Elena Leman

Genre: Fantasy Romance

 

About the Book:

Orobella is a cosmic wanderer, living borrowed lives in borrowed bodies. Her mission on planet Instaar is the same as always—collecting Crystals of Emotions while having as much fun as her new physical form allows, no strings attached. But once she meets the hypnotically mysterious Sambor, both her body and soul yearn for more. She makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
 
In the world where creatures of death and darkness drive men mad, emotional detachment has been Sambor’s greatest life achievement. As the future leader of the Lasota tribe and a spiritual tattoo artist, he can’t afford the luxury of mental weakness. Yet his meticulously constructed equilibrium is shaken up when an alluring nymph promises to save his baby sister, in exchange for a sacred Lasota tattoo. He can’t say no. Even if that means his demons will get the best of him.
 
Filled with elemental magic, spirit animals, psychic terror, and a whole lot of steaminess, this romantic fantasy is more than a love story. It’s a journey through a soul.

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US / AU / CA

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Author Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you into writing?

I am a mystic, poet, traveler, teacher, and book author. With an MA degree in Russian and English Languages and a burning desire to travel the world, I left my native Poland in 2008. Since then I’ve lived in Turkey, Costa Rica, Colombia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, Brazil, and Portugal, working as an English teacher, a hostel manager, an assistant to the CEO of a personal development company, and… a bartender at Full Moon parties. Occasionally, I’ve got paid for cuddling cats. Currently, I’m living in Lisbon, Portugal.

I have been writing ever since I can remember—poetry, essays, and short stories. I’ve had several travel- and poetry-related blogs. When I lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I cracked my Spoken Word cherry by performing on stage. Soon, my international escapades resulted in a collection of fervently passionate poems and an equally ardent debut novel Happy Ever(ywhere) After. Enchanted by the fiery beauty of Spanish and Portuguese languages, I absorbed the South-American music, folklore, and spirituality with every cell of my body and mind. They filled my imagination with magic, adventure, and a bit of drama—all the essential ingredients for a page-turner, which I hope Incandescence is.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

For some inexplicable reason, I’m the most creative at night, especially between midnight and three or four AM. I’ve tried to train myself into writing during the day but it was a futile attempt. I would spend hours on one page, my thoughts scattered like dandelion fluff. I could only focus when the world around me fell asleep. There’s something mystical about the night. It’s as if the muses are determined to come down from their astral plane to talk to us mortals only when we truly listen, without getting distracted by our mundane worries and chores. They demand our absolute attention. It’s all or nothing for them. As for my favorite place… my bed, of course! 🙂

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I think my ideas mainly come from my romantic and metaphysical experiences. Any angst or pain I felt as a teen was easily resolved by pouring it onto paper. It hurt less when it was transformed into something tangible and beautiful. On top of that, I have a ridiculously vivid imagination and an intense spiritual life. I meditate, visualize, practice Reiki, read tarot cards, perform moon rituals, and look at the world through the prism of symbolism and magic. That helps a lot in building fantasy worlds. As for my novels, each of them has a very unique story.

Happy Ever(ywhere) After is essentially a semi-memoir, loosely based on my life in Turkey, Costa Rica, Colombia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand. It tells the story of a slightly lost twenty-something, trying to understand her role in the world.

With regard to Incandescence, my latest fantasy romance, it was born out of heartbreak I experienced two years ago. I lived in Brazil at the time and my entire world seemed to crumble into pieces. I moved back to Poland, to my parents’ house, and spent the entire winter in bed, miserable. The only thing that kept me sane was writing and, oh well, my mom’s pierogi. I wrote Incandescence in three months and when I finished it, it felt as if I were reborn. I woke up from my hibernation and left my cave with a manuscript in my hand. The time to share it with the world has finally come.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

I’m a semi-plotter, semi-pantser. I usually have an outline of my story ahead of time, like a skeleton to hang muscles on. But I give my characters a lot of freedom and sometimes they don’t want to do what I’ve planned for them. Instead, they take me in drastically different yet exciting directions. I only sigh and ask, “Are you sure you want to do this?” In truth, they know better than I do what’s going to happen in the story. They live in it. I only observe it and take notes.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

Happy Ever(ywhere) After is a literary read, steeped in magical realism and self-reflection. Incandescence, on the other hand, is so many things at a time—dark metaphysical fantasy romance with sci-fi elements and a whole lot of steaminess. When I was writing it, I didn’t try to fit it within any strict genre criteria or a secret success formula. I just wrote it out of love, out of pain, as a way to escape my own suffering. I hope it will transport my readers into a unique and magical world they’ve never seen before.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

What a wonderful question! I normally write a story as if I were watching a movie, observing the scenes play out on the screen of my mind and noting down what I see and feel. Funnily enough, I’ve always seen Incandescence as an anime movie. I was obsessed with Japanese animation as a kid and loved the unique deres (personality types) the characters represented. I was enamored with the trope of a bubbly, girly spark of deredere type constantly teasing in a playful way the dark, mysterious, and emotionally unavailable tsundere man. That’s exactly what Orobella and Sambor’s relationship dynamic looks like. Also, since Orobella is a green-skinned water nymph with a talking gecko as a sidekick, it’s easier to visualize them in an animated form. Not to mention all the astounding battle animals emerging from the warriors’ spirit tattoos! If Incandescence is ever turned into a live-action movie, it’ll require some serious CGI awesomeness.

7: Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?

I’ve been an avid reader all my life; equally passionate about fiction as about non-fiction reads. Some of my all-time favourites are the classics of literature by Victor Hugo, Emil Zola, Henryk Sienkiewicz, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Charles Dickens. I love how their novels transport you back in time. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov holds an eternal place in my occult-fixated, Slavic-folklore-infatuated, witchy heart.

From more modern reads, I love the metaphysical and visionary fiction by such mystics as Paulo Coelho, James Redfield, and Richard Bach. Funnily, I’ve never really read much fantasy or romance… before I started writing it! I do love the world that G.R.R. Martin created in the Song of Ice and Fire, mostly as a result of the crucial role women played in it. Haters gonna hate but I’m Team Daenerys forever.

As for the romance genre, the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is what makes my heart sing… and dance… and shatter into pieces. I’ve never read about a love as epic as the one of Claire and Jamie.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Ugh, it’s very boring but what I’m reading at the moment are mainly books about self-publishing, book marketing, and, on a more interesting note, crafting a story. I also beta-read for some truly talented authors, which gives me a lot of joy. Recently, I got into Audible, which is amazing as it allows me to “read” while I’m jogging, cooking, or putting on makeup. I’m listening to Becoming by Michele Obama, which I found absolutely fascinating! I have two novels demanding my immediate attention, waving at me from the shelves of my Kindle library: Children of Blood and Bone and Kingdom of Souls. Their vibe is quite similar to Incandescence and I can’t wait to sink my hungry eyes into their mystical beauty.

9: What is your favourite book and why?

It is impossible to choose only one, but I guess, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is still the book that has left the biggest mark on me. I read it as a teen, when metaphysical concepts were still a novelty to me, so it unraveled a whole new and mysterious world before my eyes. I love reading stories of quests where the protagonists overcome internal and external difficulties, find love and life purpose, and go through a major transformation.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

Read and write. Expose yourself to as many different genres and stories as possible. Don’t judge yourself too harshly on your first draft. It usually sucks. Write even if you don’t know what to write. The ideas will come whenever you get into the flow. Truly, write as if no one were watching. Because no one is 🙂

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

Instagram, for sure. I really don’t understand how Twitter works. I have an account there, just for the sake of it, but I don’t use it at all. I’ve had Facebook for about thirteen years now but I use it mostly to connect with my friends from around the world. I honestly can’t be bothered to have an author’s page on Facebook, not at the moment at least.

Definitely, Instagram is the network that gives me the most creative joy. I love all the cute things you can do with stories and how you can easily connect with bookstagrammers and follow gorgeous bookish accounts. I love Instagram. Follow me there if you want to stay updated on my writing and some occasional private shots of my life in Portugal and all the sangria I drink.

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1 – Orobella

 

Being born starts with dying. You may be lying among rocks or drifting in the ocean, seaweed in your hair. You already know you exist. You open your eyes, if you have them, and look at the sky. It’s always so different—red like mashed strawberries with cream. Violet, resembling a planet’s silk sheet. Or turquoise, foamy dreams gliding across its joyous plain. Like here.

But my favorite moment is to see myself. The first thing that comes into sight is some sort of tentacles, paws, or fins. This time, I had hands. They were green.

“Welcome to Instaar, Collector,” a translucent critter spoke to me from a stone among bulrushes. “I am Smoku, your guide.”

I had many guides before—indestructible creatures with ancient wisdom from all over the Universe. Sometimes they took the form of a light being, an electric current, or a musical note. Other times—of a gigantic winged feline shaped by stars. Yet never had I had one that looked like a baby lizard.

I stood out of the water and walked towards the river bank. Two legs. Mmm, I had missed those.

“Clothes and accessories, as per the latest fashion. It’ll make it easier to blend in,” said Smoku while pointing with his scaled head at the bundle under a tree. I opened it.

“A map, a pouch, some local coin,” Smoku named the items as I was taking them out of the bag. “They use the money system here.”

When I got to a knife on a thigh strap, a little gasp escaped my mouth. “What about this tool of bloodshed?” Even in dread, my voice sounded sweet and joyful like the song of a bird.

“It might make itself useful, Collector. This planet is not as peaceful as Samoriah. That’s where your last mission was, wasn’t it?”

I sighed a longing, “Yes.” My eyes closed at the remembrance of the loving whispers and blissful collective chant of Samoriah’s bloom.

“Collecting crystals may be easier if you keep your new form in one piece,” said Smoku. “A little dagger under your skirt will do the trick.”

My eyebrow lifted in amusement. Not only was my new guide a very handsome reptile but also a real smooth talker. How did he even gather all these supplies? The knife on its own was triple his size.

I attached the strap to my thigh. Murderous or not, I had to admit, the weapon looked good against my new form’s emerald skin. “Oh, well. I’ll wear it,” I decided. “Just to blend in.”

Having brushed the duckweed off my body, I put on the rest of the attire—a turtleneck crop top, seamless panties, and a double slit maxi skirt, all in white. I slipped my feet into lace-up sandals and wrapped the long straps around my calves. I nodded with satisfaction. Shoes were the true reason why I loved having legs.

“You will need those, too.” Smoku waved his tail at two silver cuff bracelets.

I looked at my wrists marked with deep cuts. “Suicide?”

Smoku nodded. “It seems like.”

I hid the scars under the cuffs without asking further questions. That was the first rule of every collector—not to inquire into the form’s past experiences. The body was empty and available for use, that was all I needed to concern myself with. The less I knew about its life, or death for that matter, the better.

I tied the pouch filled with coin to the thigh strap and unfolded the map. It showed an archipelago of islands and its name scribed in the antiquarian font—The Middle Isles. Smoku stepped on one of them with his tiny foot.

“We’re here, on the Common Land. It belongs to no one and everyone. No wars or violence can be performed here. Theoretically.” He pointed to the big port city on the eastmost peninsula of the island. “That’s Amber Fields, thirty kilometers from here.”

“Is that where the inhabitants are?” The chrysalis in my chest itched for an exchange. It longed to know what wonders this turquoise planet held.

Smoku chuckled softly, amused by my excitement. “Yes. Diving through shouldn’t be a problem. Your new form allows hydroportation.” 

Huh, that was precisely what I loved about the planets covered with liquid matter. With the right body, you could just dip in at point A and dip out at point B. It saved a lot of walking. However, I didn’t want to get my new skirt wet.

“I will walk,” I announced. “Please join me.” I outstretched my hand to Smoku, who scurried up my arm and made himself comfortable on my shoulder. 

We took the forest path, among the merry twitter of flying creatures. “What can you tell me about this curious place, Smoku?” I asked, brushing away the slim branches, heavy with blossoms. The flowers giggled at my touch.

“Instaar is rather underdeveloped, compared to the planets you’ve visited before. The Middle Isles are believed to be the center of the world.”

“Funny. They’d be amazed if they saw the real planetary core.” I jumped over a tree root. “What about the Instaarii? How are they?”

“First of all, they don’t see themselves as the Instaarii. They’re all divided.”

“Typical,” I snorted. “So they have those… What do they call them? Nations?”

“Tribes,” Smoku clarified. “The most powerful ones in this region are the Lasota and their allies, the Mazuuria, occasionally in the state of war with the fierce Dargiin. The Baykush are mostly neutral.”

I rolled my eyes. “Ugh, war. And what do they do when they don’t kill each other?”

Train to kill each other.” Yet another chuckle vibrated through the lizard’s throat. “And when they get tired of that, they sail, fish, hunt, dance—”

My fervent new heart fluttered. “Dance?”

“Yes. That’s how they worship their gods.”

I touched my chest. “Splendid. That sounds like the perfect way to exchange a whole lot of crystals.”

“Indeed, Collector.”

“Orobella,” I corrected. “Actually, call me Oro, if you please. Have there been other Crystellians on a mission here?”

Smoku hesitated for a moment. “Yes, Oro.”

I clapped. “Collectors?”

“Mainly. But no one is collecting at the moment.”

“Oh…” My enthusiasm dimmed. Then I felt my mouth curling to the side and that immediately made me feel better. “I love this facial expression. Feels so sassy.” Exploring a new form was always fun. You never knew what features it came with. It would be nice if this one could fly. But a side pout was perfectly satisfying.

The path led up and down, unraveling an orchestra of colors and sounds with every step. The flying creatures zigged and zagged above my head, impishly diving into the air just to soar up before colliding with a tree. Or my face. A pink bird poked my forearm as if wanting to say, Hey, look how pretty I am.

“There seems to be so much joy on this planet,” I exclaimed. “Does it even need more?”

“It truly does. The Instaarii are not like these little beings. They are… complex,” said Smoku while stretching his weightless body across my shoulder. “Besides, Oniria is a special kind of forest. It has a mind of its own and loves to interact with its guests.”

“Ms. Oniria must be a sweetheart,” I concluded, my hand dancing with the pink bird in the air.

“No, it’s you who is a sweetheart,” said Smoku. “The more time you spend in Oniria, the more it adjusts itself to your mood.”

“How helpful.” I let the mischievous bird fly away. “You’re not sure why you’re salty, you wander into the forest for an hour and walk out all enlightened. Problem solved.”

“That’s not how the Instaarii see it. That’s why no one wants to live here. They’re scared of the forest.”

“So silly.”

Instaar was a young planet, its people still in development. My kind, the Crystellians, arrived here hundreds of thousands of years ago. We implanted crystals in a few of the most developed species but the experiment worked with only one. The second implementation happened six thousand Instaarii years ago. Now came the time of harvest. I hoped we had given the inhabitants just enough time to grow some magnificent minerals. That was what I came for. Well, and also for a bit of fun.

We’d just walked through a dense and very giggly thicket when I noticed the most unusual silky mandala among the branches. There were two creatures in it.

“What is this mystical being?” I asked.

Smoku licked his eye. “That’s a butterfly.”

“Well, I know this one, obviously. It’s all over the Universe. What’s the other one? Haven’t seen it before.”

“Oh, that’s a spider.”

I squatted and observed in silence how the extraordinary eight-legged animal wrapped its prey in silk and slowly sucked the life out of it. 

“So sad,” I whispered.

“I thought Crystellians don’t get emotional over death,” Smoku remarked.

“Being emotional is the goal of our existence,” I said, never taking my eyes off the spiderweb. “But I feel sorry for the spider. It must be tragic to have to kill something so pure and gorgeous in order to survive.”

I felt Smoku’s googly glance on me. I met it with a question, “Right?”

“Well, I don’t know. It’s pretty, indeed, but a spider must eat.” He flicked his tongue. “And so does a lizard.”

I laughed and rose to my feet. “I enjoy your pragmatic approach, my dear friend. I think we shall be a lovely team. Unless, by accident, you eat me.”

“I will do my best to avoid such an accident.” He sighed with regret. “Once my kind used to eat sharks and crocodiles. Those were the days!”

“Mmm, tell me all about it.”

Soon the trail merged with a dirt road. We walked until the day star moved from the East to the West, and the sky burned in all shades of red. As the treetops bathed in the deliciousness of twilight, a sucking sensation made its way to my abdomen. 

“I think I’m hungry,” I announced.

“We all are,” said Smoku, before licking himself all over his face. “Your form needs to be fed at least once per day. There should be a tavern right… there.”

A wooden inn stood on the side of the road, loud music and laughter coming from the open windows. “Uh-huh. That looks like my kind of place.” I strode towards the gate. 

A few horses idled about in front of the building, plucking the grass. I approached one of them and put my face to its forehead. The memories of endless steppes and wind in my mane crossed my mind. And then… ropes, gates, and darkness. “I’m so sorry, my friend,” I whispered in its ear. “I wish you happiness.”

Smoku called my attention. “Oro, before you enter, a word of advice. Different tribes communicate among each other in a lingua franca called the Language of the Birds, offered to the Instaariii by the Great Spirit.”

“All right. I speak it, don’t I?” Actually, I spoke all tongues. A language was just a code carrying vibrations. Or rather hiding them.

“Everyone is a brother or a sister,” Smoku continued his crash course on the Instaarii etiquette. “The customary greeting is, I see you.”

“Lovely. Can we enter now?” I walked towards the entrance of the tavern. The wild rhythm hit my ears and poured down my veins.

“There’s usually a hand greeting to it too,” said Smoku. “I wish I were able to present it properly.”

“Awww…” I caressed his chin. “Don’t worry, my sweet Smoku. I will watch and learn. It’s not the first time.” I placed my two hands on the heavy door, but the stubborn lizard on my shoulder stopped me by nibbling my ear.

I was on the verge of losing my patience. “Yes?”

“One more thing, Oro. They won’t see me. If anything happens, I won’t be able to help, you know that?”

I knew. That was the first rule of every guide—not to get involved. They provided the words of wisdom and local knowledge, but if things got physical, a collector was on their own. Nothing I wasn’t used to.

Smoku continued, “Some male representatives of this planet might be rather—”

I stuck my finger into his mouth. “I said, it’s not the first time. I’m protected, Smoku. Don’t forget who I am.”

He made a coughing sound and jerked his head away. “I remember, Collector,” he said, only slightly offended. “I hope you shall never forget it either.”

I just winked at him and threw open the door. The room was hot and loud, filled with diverse forms, male and female, big and small, of various colors—creamy, pink, beige, brown… Not even one of them was green.

“There goes blending in,” I whispered through my teeth to the invisible gecko on my shoulder.

“I would give a shrug but I simply can’t,” he answered.

I walked to the bar, followed by astonished looks. A group of women by the entrance started whispering in each other’s ears. A lanky dancer crashed into his companion’s monumental belly, spilling sunny-colored liquid over his beard. One of the drummers let his stick fall off his hand. He immediately got slapped on his scalp by an elderly musician. I smirked. I loved the attention, each and every time. 

I sat on a bar stool and watched the band perform, as casually as a solo green girl could. I took a minute, or maybe even less than that, before a peachy-skinned, wheat-haired “lumberjack” stood up from his seat and came to the bar.

“I see you, sister,” he said, his voice pure velvet.

I smiled flirtatiously. “I see you too… big brother.”

He choked on his beverage but quickly regained his composure. “Let my presence be a blessing.”

“It already is,” I coaxed.

He stroked his braided beard with relish. “I’ve seen people from the furthest corners of the world coming to Koliada, but I’ve never seen an exotic beauty such as yourself. Did you fall from the sky?”

“How did you know?” I bit my lip seductively. I had no idea what he was talking about but decided to play along. “It’s my first time to… Koliada.”

The charming giant took another sip from his mug. “I know it is. I would’ve noticed you before. The nights of the Winter Solstice Festival are dark and obscure, but some wonders can’t escape a man’s eye.”

“Aww, you’re just saying that because I’m green.” I playfully tapped him on the naked shoulder. It was time to read him.

A stream of images flew through my head—a clash of swords, ships on fire, dismembered bodies, a goblet of wine falling to the ground, an old man dying in agony, and then just drunken amok. “Hmm… What a pity.” I looked into his beautiful azure eyes with compassion before sliding off the stool. “I wish you happiness.”

“Wait,” he shouted after me. “Where are you going, beauty? Let’s have a drink.”

“Stop drinking,” I called out through the crowd. “Snail ale lowers your vibrations.”

“Lowers my what?” I heard him say. I didn’t stay to offer an explanation. 

“Ugh, all over the Universe, developing creatures find the most inventive ways to kill their souls. That makes my work so much more difficult,” I complained under my breath.

“You’d better get used to it, Oro. The Instaarii don’t like to face grief. They prefer to drown their sorrows in snail ale or skycherry wine,” Smoku said. He lazily climbed to the top of my head and scanned the room. He was tiny, and I was shorter than anyone else on the dancefloor, but soon his scouting mission paid off. 

“The musicians aren’t drinking,” he announced with pride in his voice. “They must stay sober for the spirits of music entering their bodies.”

“Smoku, you’re the best wingman ever,” I exclaimed. 

“At your service. Thousands of years of ancient wisdom shall not be wasted.”

I slid among the hot, wet bodies all the way to the stage. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Every crystalkind on every planet I’d ever visited looked for a way to travel astrally. The profound longing for an unknown source of their existence pushed them to create the masterpieces of galactic art. So far, music had been my favorite.

I let the rhythm sway my shoulders and hips in a spellbinding trance. I felt a forest growing in my head—little bells on the wind among the leaves, raindrops on the surface of the lake, thunderstorms and rattlesnakes… And something… Like a heartbeat of the jungle… A drum! Yes, it was a drum! 

Its hypnotic sound entered my mind, lifted my soul… My legs stomped back and forth in a pattern I didn’t realize I knew. My hands shaped sacred geometry in the air. My lips sang a song I’d never heard before, yet I’d known it from the beginning of time. My body was a vehicle and I was a passenger. I opened my eyes to see who was the captain on that flight.

He was looking at me, his big hazel eyes full of conspicuous desire. He was tapping the heart of the drum with his palms. Huh, so he had lost that stick for good? I smiled at him and saw his aura explode like a supernova. He wanted me more than anything in his life. Let’s do it, I thought.

And so he played for me and I danced for him, the flaps of my skirt swirling around my body, swaying against my naked thighs. The louder he played, the faster I spun. The stronger he tapped, the harder I stomped. Breathless and lightheaded, I felt the growing heat in my chest. The ball of light trapped under my crop top started to pulsate. It was happening. The chrysalis opened.

I looked up through my half-lidded eyes. A whirlpool of golden energy emanated from my chest, a yellow-white crystal spinning in its center—my core stone, the vibrational essence of my soul, my JOY. 

An energy vortex opened in the drummer’s chest as well. A dazzling turquoise stone, mottled with light green specs, left his chrysalis and pirouetted across the stage towards mine.

Tears came to my eyes as the two streams of luminescence tangled into a passionate knot, swirling with the speed of light, shooting into the sky. The turquoise gem floated into my chrysalis, while the sunny one merged with the boy’s chest. An orgasmic rapture poured over my brain as I felt the power of the green stone reaching every cell of my body. What was that sweet, gentle energy that filled the mind with music and the heart with tickles? It took a moment before I recognized one of my most beloved crystals in the whole Universe—DREAMINESS. 

I shook in unworldly pleasure—surely, an intriguing view for a bystander. Yet, my physical reaction was the only observable part of the process. No one could see the crystals or our little exchange, not even the drummer himself. It could only be visible to the eye of a Crystellian.

As the petals of my chrysalis furled, satisfied with its trophy, I faltered to the side, bumping against another dancer.

“We’d better go, Oro,” Smoku urged. “You should get a room here tonight. The first exchange is always exhausting. And you haven’t eaten yet.”

“Mmm,” I moaned. “This form… Such ecstasy… So powerful…” I walked with difficulty, my legs heavy, blind spots before my eyes. The music stopped, and I heard a tumult of female shouting coming from the stage. I turned around for the last time to look at the young man who’d shared with me his DREAMINESS. He was having a seizure.

Cold sweat dripped down my forehead. “Smoku… Smoku, we have to help him,” I gasped before hitting the floor.

The rest was darkness.

About the Author:

Elena Leman is a traveler, poet, English teacher, and the author of Happy Ever(ywhere) After and Shadowlight series. Her twelve years of expat life in Turkey, Costa Rica, Colombia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Italy, Brazil, and Portugal filled her imagination with magic, adventure, and a bit of drama–all the essential ingredients for a pageturner. Currently, she’s living in Lisbon, Portugal. When she’s not writing, you can catch her kicking the guts out of a punching bag, finding her zen in meditation, swaying her hips to kizomba beats, or… traveling some more.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.elenaleman.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorelenaleman1

Twitter: @ElenaLemanBooks

Instagram: www.instagram.com/authorelenaleman

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/18680844.Elena_Leman

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dN1wcI

 

 

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Book Blitz: ‘Maggots’ Rush’ by Ana Rotea

 

Title: Maggots’ Rush

A Gross & Hopeful Story

Author: Ana Rotea

Genre: Children’s Horror

 

About the Book:

A boy has ailurophobia and relies on a compulsive ritual to ease his fear of cats. A girl has germaphobia and usually blames the seagulls for her compulsive hand washing. But Herbert and Hortense’s story doesn’t go too deep into their obsessions, compulsions, and fears. Going deep is the maggots’ specialty! The nasty, greedy, fat crawlers seem ready to pierce through the flesh of an entire house and its inhabitants. How much will the maggots eventually gobble up? What are those maggots anyway? The readers will discover (or decide) in the end.

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“One cannot breathe its bad air and remain untroubled. Perched on a hill, the old two-story building called the Improper House dominates the outskirts by its position and the power of its odor. Its kitchens boil unreliable fluids, while the house itself is cooked under the summer sun’s flame, releasing in the vicinity a specific smell. A stench.

On the outside, rain does little to clean this house; trees don’t grow around it to offer their cooling shade. On the inside, odors are blocked forever in tangled hallways and have long penetrated the walls. Windows are bad at their job of freshening the air inside the house. Not even through the impressive entrance door does clean air creep in, just as not a drop of happiness ever did.”

 

About the Author:

Ana Rotea is a Romanian writer for children. She has always been in love with fiction; for her, literature has become a way of discovering and improving life.

Her last books look into the darker side of life and follow imaginary characters into depression, OCD, physical and psychological trauma. In Ana’s stories, hope sparkles from the depths of the narrative, and efforts are made to offer not a happy, but a bittersweet end to the readers.

Ana shares her life with her husband, son, and cat in a small city from the Black Sea coast. She reads to all three of them, whether they like it or not.

 

Social Media Links:

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15301677.Ana_Rotea

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DetectiviiAerieni

Instagram: www.instagram.com/anarotea

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Book Blitz: ‘Nether Light’ by Shaun Paul Stevens

 

Title: Nether Light

Author: Shaun Paul Stevens

Publisher: Pitt Norton Publishing

Genre: Dark/ Epic Fantasy

 

About the Book:

Take a journey through a world punished by a dark, imprisoned magic. A world where children are given poison. A world where your talent is decided by the state.

A world where reality is breaking down.

When refugee Guyen washes up in the land of his enemy, he knows he will fight, but soon finds himself falling down a well of wonder and improbability.

Can he survive a system designed to oppress him? Can he tame his anger to unleash his potential? Can he see his enemy for what they truly are?

Nether Light is a gritty, heart-wrenching tale of high magic and high stakes, loves lost and friendships gained, set in an oil-lit, 18th century world far, far away.

And it’s full to the gills with epic fantasy, plotting, scheming, and racy, jaw-dropping, immersive adventure. What more could you ask for? Grab a copy now.

 

For fans of Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Neil Gaiman, Mark Lawrence, V.E. Schwab, Ed McDonald, Brian McClellan.

Please note: This book contains mature themes.

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

A Lust for Life

In a clearing, in a wood, stood a cottage more hovel than home. Outside, under the gaze of two tethered horses, a lizard crept along in the shade of a sea of purple lilies quite tall enough to hide a crouching man. The scents were of sweet herbs and nectar, jasmine and elderflower recently opened. The day was hot.

Inside the cottage, a blonde woman, Livia, tended to newborn twins laid out on the parlour table. One slept, his tiny fist covering his mouth as if stifling a yawn. The other kicked inside his blanket. A ruddy-faced midwife hovered over them, a vial of blue liquid, a quill syringe and a knife in hand. She noticed Livia’s wet cheek. “Don’t fret,” she said. “Soon be done.”

Two men in brown robes looked on. The Chief Overseer perched on a stool, half-bald, greying beard tapered to a point. He drank a mug of black tea. The Junior Overseer, a much younger man, lingered next to the open window, a hand on his shortsword, his expression tense. “He’s coming,” he said.

The Chief Overseer sank his brew and stood.

The door opened. The boys’ father appeared, sweat dripping down his forehead. Matted black hair hung over one half of his face, obscuring an eye. He stared poison at the unwelcome visitors.

The Chief Overseer regarded him, unmoved. “Do forgive the intrusion, paysan. Olvar, is it not?”

“Yes,” Olvar said.

“Please, take a seat.”

“I’d rather stand.”

“We insist,” the Junior Overseer hissed. He nodded at the rocking chair beside the hearth.

Olvar exchanged a look with his wife, raising his palms. “As you wish, sir.” He pulled the door closed and took the seat, breathing heavily.

“Do you know who I am?” the Chief Overseer asked.

“You are Scalth Pukht,” Olvar said. Everyone in these parts knew Pukht by reputation. A zealot of the highest order, one of the honoured amongst the Brothers of Nor.

“And know you my area of expertise, paysan?”

“You oversee the Binding, sir.”

“Yes. Good.” Pukht smiled, the effect cheerless. “Do you mind if I smoke?”

“I do not, sir.”

He produced a tabac tin and began to pack his pipe. “I have a busy schedule, paysan, and many grave responsibilities. Yet I find myself in the middle of nowhere, two hours ride from Novgora. And I am not a well man.”

Olvar grunted. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

Pukht raised an eyebrow. “Yet, here I am.” He produced a taper and motioned towards the hearth, on which bubbled a cauldron of broth. “Do you mind?”

“My house is your house, sir.”

Pukht nodded approvingly and walked over, bending down to touch the taper to the flame. The tallow caught in a fizz of yellow fire, and he lit the pipe, inhaling a lungful of smoke. He shook out the flame and looked down at the twins. “How old are they?”

“Three months.”

“Bonnie lads. You must be proud.”

“We are.” Something in Pukht’s tone made Olvar’s skin crawl, like a bully noting how delicious an apple looked, right before they snatched it away. “They have not been well,” Olvar added, “otherwise I would have brought them to you.”

“And yet you have not. And now my day is wasted and my back is wrecked.” Pukht scanned the cottage. “My duties, paysan, are many. Not only must I enforce the Binding, but also identify those families who would subvert it, those whose cases stand out, those who do not fit the pattern.” His eyes rested on Livia, clearly a foreigner. “You are an uncommon union, are you not?”

“I do not believe so, sir,” Olvar said.

Pukht turned back to the table. “One might hardly guess these two are born of the same mother.”

“I have the scars to prove they are, sir,” Livia said.

Pukht met her eyes. “I shall have to take your word for that.” He took another lungful of smoke. “By rights, of course, I should arrest you both for harbouring Unbound.”

“We are but a few weeks late,” Olvar said carefully.

“Sadly, weeks turn to months, paysan, which turn to years. And before you know it, your bonnie lads are crazed madmen savaging good folk in their beds.” Olvar caught the midwife’s eye. She stared back, judging. “Do you know what they call me?” Pukht asked. Olvar hesitated. Pukht tapped his pipe. “Please, I shall not take offence.”

“They call you the Rat Catcher, Chief Overseer.”

“Indeed. Ridiculous, is it not? Such crassness belies the nature of our foe. Rats are instinctual, they strive merely to survive, whereas the Unbound and their sympathisers are cunning, some would say wicked. One cannot say that of vermin.”

Olvar shifted uncomfortably. “Indeed not, sir.”

“No, whereas a family of rats cares only to feather its nest, those families which take up my time hide their nests from view. Which sort are you, I wonder? Unorganised, neglectful, honest creatures trying to survive, or something more dangerous?”

“We are but a normal family, sir. I fear that on this occasion, your time is wasted.”

“Ah, but it is mine to waste, paysan. As I said, patterns are what interest me. And yours…” He took another puff. “A foreign wife, a garden full of strange plants, a secluded cottage in the woods—why, some would say they were grounds on which to suspect witchery.”

“I can assure you, Chief Overseer, we are a very traditional, very usual family.”

“Is that so?” Sunbeams danced in the cloud of white hazelnut smoke. Pukht regarded Olvar sombrely. “I am a merciful man, paysan, I will not condemn a child to die and I do not send those who consort with the Unbound to the rope unless I have to, but if there is one thing I cannot abide, it is the unnecessary harm which those who would refuse the Binding bring upon us all.”

There was no reasoning with this man, no point telling him it was a likely death sentence if either child received the injection. But Olvar was not a man of violence, this could all still be settled peaceably.

“Sir, we are but honest folk who only wish the best for our boys. But they should be at their strongest to do well with the Binding. Just another week, then once I’m sure they are over their sickness, I shall bring them to Kal Tenkha myself.”

“A week will make no difference, paysan. We shall do it now, then I can close your case.” Pukht signalled the midwife. Olvar’s lip twitched, knuckles turning white on the armrests.

The midwife offered Livia a flat smile. “They’ll feel but a scratch. Hundreds I have done, and yet not lost one.” She uncorked the vial, pouring the blue contents into a small bladder. The Binding agent, the concoction.

Olvar and Livia exchanged a desperate look. One of the twins had a crop of black hair. The midwife took his tiny thigh in hand, pressing down, looking for a vein. The boy screamed, a terrible sound of the kind only a bairn can make. Pukht’s face wrinkled with disgust.

The midwife frowned at Livia. “Please control your child, girl. It is a delicate procedure.”

Livia placed a hand on the table. “You said it would be but a scratch.” She masked her anger well, assisted by her poor command of the local dialect and a delicate manner.

“Just shut it up,” Pukht snapped.

Olvar jumped up. The Junior Overseer pulled his sword. Olvar raised a placating hand. “Let me, I have a way with him.” The man nodded slowly, so Olvar picked the boy up. Bouncing him in his arms, he went to the window, taking down the green glass bottle which sat on the sill. The Junior Overseer regarded him suspiciously. “He likes this,” Olvar said. He held the bottle in front of the boy who quietened, mesmerised, reaching out to touch the magical substance. Olvar laid him back down on the table and stepped away.

Something flashed through the window. The Junior Overseer grunted, hands going to his neck. An arrow shaft protruded from it. He buckled. Pukht went for his sword. Olvar dived for the cauldron. Boiling broth sprayed the zealot’s face. Pukht roared, lashing out half-blinded, catching Olvar in the gut. Olvar cried out, the pan crashing to the floor. Pukht raised his blade.

“No!” screeched the midwife.

Pukht took a sharp breath, eyes wide. His sword clattered to the floor and he stumbled into Olvar, holding onto him like a sagging boxer. Olvar pushed back, and both men slumped, landing beside each other on the quarry tiles. Livia stood over them, the midwife’s knife in hand, the blade dripping claret where she’d stabbed Pukht in the back. He lay wheezing, choking, blood filling his lungs. A few seconds later, his eyes rolled back. He went limp.

Livia gasped, letting the knife fall to join sword, pan, and pooling broth. “Oh gods, Olvar, you’re hurt.”

“Don’t worry, woman, it’s just a scratch.”

Livia whirled round, scooping up her boys as the door burst open. A squat-faced man appeared there, crossbow slung over his shoulder. He stalked up to the injured Junior Overseer, still emitting rasping, gurgling breaths, and buried his knife in the base of his skull. The breaths stopped. He went to Olvar, rolling the dead Pukht over with his boot. “You all right?”

“I’ll live,” Olvar winced, gritting his teeth against the pain.

The midwife backed up against the wall, muttering prayers. She looked like she might be sick at any moment. “They must be bound,” she stammered.

Olvar snarled. “You know not of what you talk, woman.”

She looked between them, eyes wild. “How can you be so cruel?”

Livia rounded on her, both babes now crying in her arms. “You are mistaken,” she sobbed. “To Bind them would mean their deaths.”

The midwife could manage only a horrified stare. “Your mind is weary by rose and blossom, girl. What have you done?”

Olvar turned his face to the light, pulling back his hair to reveal a shrivelled eye as dead as a rock. “See this, midwife? How many of my brothers do you think survived the Binding?”

She stared, revolted. “I would not know, sir.”

“None, that’s how many. Concoction does not take well with my blood.”

She grimaced at the red pool spreading out around the Chief Overseer. “And yet you lived? Was your disfigurement not a price worth paying?”

Olvar groaned, holding his side. “My sons will do better than live, hag. Leave my house. There be no welcome here for sympathisers.” He paused. “Unless you would have the same welcome as your brothers?”

She shrank back. Livia shot Olvar a warning look and turned to the midwife. “Let us pay you for your time.”

The midwife’s eyes flicked between the two dead men. “I should just go.”

“Nonsense,” Olvar grunted. “It must have been a three-hour walk for you.”

She nodded uncertainly. “About that, sir.”

“In that case, you deserve recompense for your trouble.”

Livia went to a shelf, withdrawing a silver coin from a pot next to some dried herbs. “Here.” She pressed it into the woman’s hand.

The midwife pocketed it, her face distracted, and quickly gathered her potions up, avoiding looking at the deceased overseers. She fastened her bag and made to leave.

Olvar grabbed her ankle, rooting her to the floor. “If anyone should hear about this, I shall know where to locate that loose tongue of yours to cut it out.”

The midwife paled, her colour not returning all the while she hurried away down the dirt track and out of sight past the old oak tree.

About the Author:

Born in London in 1972, Shaun spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham where he graduated with a degree in English and Media.

Shaun lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, where he splits his time between fiction, geekdom, and garlic bread.

Find out more at shaunpaulstevens.com

Social Media Links:

Website: www.shaunpaulstevens.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/spstevenswriter

Twitter: @spstevenswriter

Instagram: www.instagram.com/spstevenswriter

Email: contact@shaunpaulstevens.com

 

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Book Blitz: ‘Chase – The Boy Who Hid’ by Z Jeffries

Title: Chase – The Boy Who Hid

Author: Z Jeffries

Genre: YA Sci-Fi

 

About the Book:

Don’t hide from your feelings. Hide from the killer robot hunting you.

“A fun, fast-paced sci-fi novel.” -Carol Beth Anderson, author of The Sun-Blessed Trilogy and The Magic Eaters Series

I always knew I’d inherited my grandad’s mind for science and technology, but when he goes missing, I get his spot in a top-secret government game of hide and seek. The military camouflage challenge, DARPA’s game where shapeshifters, mechs, and telepaths hide from a robot seeker, is also where Grandad vanished.

To find out what happened, I’ll play along- gain the team’s trust, master the tech, and avoid catching feelings for the team navigator. If I can do all that, then maybe I can survive the dangerous game. But if it comes down to winning or finding Grandad, I’ll ditch the game and betray my team in a millisecond. Even if it means I go missing, too.

Book One in the Hide & Seek Series, the action-packed coming-of-age stories of STEM-minded queer kids getting their hands on the tech of the future.

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

There was one place in the garage I was totally safe from everyone. If I pushed out Dad’s big rolling tool chest, he couldn’t see me seated behind it, and I could work in peace. Or in this case, avoid a funeral in peace.

“Chase, you can’t hide from this!”

Dad could yell all day, I wasn’t budging. We all knew that casket was empty, even if I was the only one with enough brains to realize Grandad was still alive. Besides, Mom said I didn’t have to go. I just had to wait for her to tell him that.

So by the light of my smartphone, I adjusted the magnets on the old floatboard for the millionth time, trying to get it running again before Grandad showed back up. He’d be impressed, it was just his style– a flashy improvement on an overhyped vehicle like the Hoverboard. I just had to get these magnetic panels to align perfectly, and then there it was — silence from the living room. Never a good sign. That meant they were talking quietly, which meant Mom was talking. I tightened the bolts holding the magnets on the salvaged skateboard deck.

As I gently placed the board to float above the base, magnets repelling in perfect balance, Dad bellowed again, “We’ll be home late, and that homework better be done. And we’re signing you up for indoor soccer this week, young man. No excuses.”

“We love you, and we’re here if you want to talk.” Mom added before of course saying,

“Lock the doors behind us, please.”

“And don’t spend all night fiddling with your electronic crap! Do something productive.”

The door slammed, the magnet slipped again, and I kicked the deck across my room.

“Fudgeknuckles,” I automatically muttered. The swear-word substitute suddenly felt hollow. It was a Grandad-ism, one of lots of alternatives to cussing, often shouted at prototypes failing their test runs. And my room was full of those prototypes, heck the whole house was. Everywhere I looked was something that reminded me of him, everything was some memory staring at me like it was making fun. Everything but that dang shipping container abandoned in the driveway.

Someone had to find him.

This house, this tiny, nothing-town where I was stuck were the only places I knew he wasn’t. I just felt so helpless. Nobody would listen to me. Of course he wasn’t killed in a testpiloting accident, he wasn’t a pilot. Why would the engineer be inside the jet he engineered? It made no sense. And didn’t they always have test footage? Why wasn’t there any test footage? And why couldn’t they find a body? And even if he was in the jet and it had crashed– no, I wouldn’t think about that.

CLANG!

Throwing rocks at a shipping container didn’t fix anything , but it sure felt good.

CLANG!

My pocket vibrated. Another text to see if I was okay. I considered throwing my phone, but the prospect of asking Dad for a new one changed my mind.

I chucked another rock instead.

CLANG!

All the adults who pretended to care so much, the counselors, the teachers (pretty much anybody who didn’t cost my parents any money), were constantly checking in, telling me it was okay to be angry or sad. But I didn’t want to talk about feelings, or cry, or go to some stupid funeral with an empty casket.

CLANG!

I wanted Grandad back. To help him repair sprinklers, rebuild computers, and work on his car.

CLANG!

Or just talk, ask him about countries he’s been to, or about new technologies. Or literally anything .

CLANG!

And if I couldn’t have that, I wanted to throw rocks at the big red crate blocking our gravel driveway.

With a grunt, I heaved another.

PING!

The high-pitched noise, different from a clang, about made me jump. I’d hit the corrugated metal alright, but instead of ricocheting off the broad side of the shipping container, the rock “pinged” off a corrugated metal rectangle of a door.

A door that wasn’t there before.

I froze. My eyes darted to the neighbor’s houses before remembering they were all at the service, too.

We didn’t know where the shipping container had come from, didn’t know who owned it. Mom and Dad had been arguing about the danged thing ever since it showed up a couple months back. Heck, I could be in trouble just for activating whatever doohickee made the door appear. Maybe I broke it. Fudgeknuckles. I imagined Dad in his recliner getting a bill and calling me to stand in front of him and explain. He’d have to pay for it. I’d have to work it off.

BOOM!

Just then I jumped at the sound resonating from within the shipping container—an impact echoed by a deep, low rumble. I couldn’t suppress my curiosity. Driveway gravel crunched under my old Sketchers as I approached slowly.

The outline of the door was lit from behind like there was an orange light on inside. Taking a deep breath, I reached out to touch the red metal. The door opened by itself to release a flood of warmth and light and the source of the rumble. A cube the size of a smart car was suspended in the air within the crate, with plugs, wires, and cables coming off it like hair on its head.

The cube had fine gridlines on it like it was covered in tiles or made up of smaller cubes. Each tile was about four inches by four inches, matte black and shimmering with a rainbow spectrum. Black, white, and clear hoses, and multi-colored wires were all hooked to the cube, which was impossibly hovering in the middle of the shipping container.

Along the walls were built-in desk terminals with screens, gauges, and panels of lights, everything powered down. Brand names boasting computing power were stenciled onto computer towers; there were microprocessors not available for public purchase, custom technology from Powers, Limited I’d only read about on wired.com. Everything looked like it cost a million bucks.

The equipment seemed so important, I felt in trouble just being there. But, I’d probably never get a chance to see tech like this again, so I figured if I was going to get in trouble just for being there, why not have a look around? In for a nickel, in for a dime.

I whispered, “Sweet Molasses,” to myself. I’d learned long ago not to cuss; Grandad said not to give anyone a reason to think I was stupid.

The box’s interior came to life. Lights flickered on, the computers booted up, and the floating cube quieted, now bobbing in the air, held up, I guessed, by the hoses and wires. Then I heard a voice that stopped me in my tracks and caught my breath in my throat.

“Hey there, kiddo.”

That voice. He was alive! My heart about leapt up my throat.

I spun around, calling out, “Grandad?”

But he wasn’t there, not really. His familiar wrinkled, pale face filled each of the monitors, his smile topped by his silvery push-broom of a mustache. Even though he wasn’t there next to me, I smiled and blinked back hot tears.

“From one inventor to another, Chase, I’d like to show you something. This is the Throne.”

At that word, the cube’s wires, cables, and tubes cast off, spitting hisses of steam and showers of sparks. The device, floating in the air, rotated as Grandad continued talking from the monitors.

“Cutting edge technology. This device runs on science still hypothetical. It’s built on theories of theories. My theories. This is my legacy for you, Chase. The Throne is your inheritance.”

About the Author:

Z Jeffries can’t wait for you to read his debut YA novel. A son of an English teacher, one of his earliest memories was after a day at kindergarten, sitting in the back of his mom’s classroom and listening to her describe Dr. Jekyll reeling from the violence of Mr. Hyde. Under various names, he’s written, produced, and directed theatre in Chicago and along the east coast, as well as published several adult short stories. His interests include space travel, cheese, and whether cheese will be allowed during space travel. He lives in American suburbia with his wife, daughter, dog, and garden. Visit ZJeffries.com just for the heck of it.

Social Media Links:

Website: www.zjeffries.com

Twitter: @zacharyjeffries

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Book Blitz: ‘All Junkies Float’ by Clarke Wainikka

 

Title: All Junkies Float

Author: Clarke Wainikka

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Sub-Genre: Mystery

 

About the Book:

We’re all junkies, aren’t we?

It’s tough to balance an addiction to Xanax when you’re a psychologist at a rehabilitation centre. It’s especially tough when your patients are killing themselves. When Joseph Mackay is found dead in his bathtub, Annette Baker is thrust into the middle of the unraveling mysteries of Medicine River Rehab Centre. So Annette does what any recovering heroin addict would do in a stressful situation, pop back a few Xanax to deal with the anxiety and a few more when she discovers that Joseph is one of three suicides at the centre in the last three years.

Annette must face the conflict of protecting her job or protecting her patients, all while dealing with a small-town journalist desperate for a story, a boss who would do anything to preserve her reputation, and a persistent detective sorting out the mysterious suicides one by one. Not to mention her addiction to prescription pills and the animosity from her troubled past that she must confront in order to sort out the puzzling, sobering secrecy at Medicine River.

 

From the author of THE RESEMBLANCE, “Clarke Wainikka… truly has a way with words and subverts your expectations, chapter after chapter”

“You will not be able to put this book down.”

 

Add to Goodreads

 

Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

 

Excerpts:

 

 

About the Author:

Winnipeg-based author Clarke Wainikka is the creator of compelling dark fiction thrillers and mysteries such as The Resemblance and All Junkies Float, as well as numerous short stories. Her captivating writing style and ability to build tension was fortified through many years of teaching English and assisting ESL students with writing challenges. Her passion for developing complex characters recovering from personal traumas was deepened further by her bachelor’s degree in Psychology that was received in 2016

Living with her husband and dog, her voracious writing habits are only matched by her reader’s needs to keep turning from one page to the next.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @clarkewainikka

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