Shay is scientific experiment #318. Science may have created her, but she refuses to allow it to blind her to the difference between right and wrong…
Synthetic Hominid Assumed Youth (S.H.A.Y.) is eighteen years old, which means she has completed Phase One: Developmental. Shay no longer requires the assistance of her Optional Human Parent, Darla, who has guided her in the process of discovering her morality. Shay loves her easy, charming life aboard the marine research facility and doesn’t want it to change.
Phase Two: Experimental. All S.H.A.Y. ages 18-20 will experience loss…
Darla shouldn’t have to die because of an experiment. The thought of losing the only parent she’s ever known is too much. Determined to make sure the scientists at the facility don’t get their way, Shay entraps Darla in a transport device to escape across the Miami Border. There, on the mainland, law enforcement will keep her human parent safe.
Escape Mission: Failed…
E.R.I.C. – BOOK #2
Reprogram of E.R.I.C. initiated. Download complete in 3…2…1…
The sweet, charming Eric that Shay knew is officially gone. He’s been reprogrammed by Dr. Cole and the other scientists aboard the marine research facility that developed Shay. Now, instead of assisting Shay in her grand scheme to save her Optional Human Parent, Darla, from certain death, Eric has been reprogrammed to kill them both. That intimate moment on the beach they shared…lost forever.
Mission complete: Suspect (S.H.A.Y.) captured…
With Eric’s help, Dr. Cole finds Shay and takes her back to the research facility where she will remain until she can be linked to her robotic host and terminated. Shay is placed into the care of a new program called N.I.C. that will analyze her data and keep her safe. Except, if the N.I.C. discovers Shay has already linked, he will initiate her termination immediately, ending any chance Shay has of saving Darla.
Shay and her Optional Human Parent Darla escape Dr. Cole and make it across the Miami border from the Marine Research Facility, but their safety comes at a hefty price. Shay thought hitting Eric in the head would save him from being reset, but there was too much blood. She has no idea if he survived or what will happen to N.I.C. without her there.
Capture of S.H.A.Y. initiated. Hybrid hunter released…
If a highly skilled hybrid hunter tracking her through the streets of Miami isn’t enough to worry about, Shay’s corporate sponsor Endre wants something from her too. Threats are in motion to terminate N.I.C. and pull the plug on Shay’s A.M.I.E., essentially killing them both. Shay has no choice but to make a deal with Endre to create inventions for him to sell to potential financial sponsors. But when he ups the stakes and wants Shay to help create a weapon of war, she refuses. She’ll just have to find another way to save N.I.C. and find Eric.
Shay’s death is certain. There is nowhere else to run…
On sale for $.99 or free with Kindle Unlimited
S.H.A.Y. argues with the E.R.I.C.
“Well then, I’m not going to get in the water.” I bent over, snatching my clothes. He helped me, handing me my shirt. I snatched it from him. “I’ll just wait up here for you to get back.”
He laughed, poking me in the stomach. “Look, creampuff, I’m not going in without you.”
“Oh yes you will, or I’ll—”
“You’ll what? Talk to yourself some more?”
I narrowed my eyes at him, stumbling as I tugged my pants on.
“You’re the one who needs my help, remember?”
“You make me sick.” My shirt slipped down over my head and I struggled with the buttons.
He smiled. “Take your clothes off.”
“Don’t tell me what to do.”
Amie groaned. She stood beside me, rolling her eyes. “You’re just creating more and more sexual tension with the E.R.I.C. Soon, you’ll forget all about your Darla and I’ll have no human mother for S.H.A.Y. 319.”
“I won’t!” I unzipped my pants again. “I’ll do whatever it takes to save them both.”
Eric backed away. “Whoa, there, I was just teasing you.”
“I’m not talking to you.”
He rolled his eyes. “Right, I forgot, you have others here with you.”
“I’m not doing this for you, you’re the enemy. I’m trying to save my, my—”
“You’re trying to save your ‘what’ exactly?”
“It doesn’t concern you. Just follow me into the water. That way, we can get started.”
“Are you hitting on me?” His eyes widened. “I enjoy a little banter and all, but—”
I shoved him. “Like I’d ever flirt with you.”
About the Author:
Voted “New and Noteworthy” by USA Book News, Christina Leigh Pritchard was born and raised in South Florida where she’s penned over fifty stories.
She’s recently signed with Limitless Publishing for her ALMOST Series, takes on contract work, and continues writing her books.
Her style is any genre, as long as it’s character driven where both hero and villain are not clearly defined. Pritchard says that she wants “…her characters to linger in a reader’s mind, rather than be easily forgotten”. She loves to create new worlds and prefers to venture outside the box. With a short attention span, she writes stories that move quickly, absorb their reader into her world, and usually receives comments that the story was too short.
Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links and/or sponsored content. Click here to read more.
The MIND Series Book 1
After Dina Ranger loses telepathic contact with her twin brother, Duncan, she breaks into his apartment and stumbles onto a special government unit responsible for monitoring the psychic population. She’s offered a job where she can use her psionic gifts to help people.
Stranded on earth over a hundred years ago, Liam of Shria is searching for a metal needed to repair his ship when he finds Dina inside an alien escape pod and narrowly saves her after she trips the alarm.
As the mystery and their relationship deepens, Liam helps Dina learn the truth behind her abilities while uncovering a plot to rebuild an ancient weapon, exposing dangerous secrets about the alien presence on earth that may change the future forever.
Free on Amazon
“I had a feeling I’d see you again,” the voice called.
Dina looked around the wooded area, feeling confused for a moment. It seemed familiar. Across the marsh, Liam was leaning against a tree, casually dressed, hair slightly less shaggy than it had been last time, hands shoved in his skinny jeans. A light mist lingered over the grass, a taste of salt in the air. How did she get here?
“Didn’t think it would be this soon,” he replied with a shrug.
The Gut surrounded her. She didn’t remember coming here, yet she was in the Bay Hook. Solid ground beneath her feet and the stench she breathed in, all real. “Why, uh . . . did you come back?”
“The real question is why did you call me here?”
“What are you talking about? You were already here, and I didn’t call. I don’t even have your number.”
“Want it?” he asked, smirking, then shook his head. “No, wait . . . oh. Uninhibited speech, foggy backdrop, extra flirty. I get it.”
“We’re dreaming. You’re asleep right?”
“No,” she spat, spreading her arms, twisting in place. She pulled a cattail-punk out of the ground and shook it at him. “We’re in the Hook, hello, don’t you see the trees? Can’t you smell the marsh?”
“You must have been thinking about me, which is normal, frankly, given the circumstances. But how the hell are you keeping me here?”
“I’m not doing anything.”
“Dina, did both your parents have psionic abilities?”
“Only my father, why?”
“Curious,” he said, moving toward her, gray eyes sweeping up and down. “What about his parents, either of them?”
“Why does everyone keep saying that?” Dina threw her hands up in the air and walked away. “Who cares if I am or not? There’s some dude out there burning up people, and I don’t have time to tramp around the swamp with E.T.”
“What did you say?”
“Nothing. Doesn’t matter. I’m outta here.”
“Wait, Dina,” he said, catching up and surpassing her. He grabbed both her arms to stop her. “You really are dreaming.”
Everything around her was too real to be a dream. She felt the pressure of his fingers, even the sinking feeling of her feet on the soft ground. “So this isn’t the Gut, it’s a dream? Right, and you’re sharing it with me, sure.”
“You’re amazing!” He laughed boyishly. “Even after all you’ve seen, you’re still questioning everything.”
“Then prove it to me. Call me, here’s my number,” she said, mentally sending the digits to his head.
Liam smiled at her. A sweet, sincere smile that made her smile back before shrugging.
Her eyes popped open. The ceiling of her bedroom stared back. “Oh, what the hell?”
Dina sat up, brow furrowed. She reached toward the nightstand for her phone. Was it going to ring? It had felt as if she had been there, standing in the grass with Liam. She shut her eyes, trying to bring the images back, but they were already fading.
Had she just shared a dream with Liam?
Youtube Book Trailer:
About the Author:
Jenn’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.
She often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.
Jenn Nixon is a member of Liberty States Fiction Writers.
Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links and/or sponsored content. Click here to read more.
Death and Destiny Trilogy Book 2
Publisher: Kuumba Publishing
In a world of mystery and magic, sometimes old bonds must be broken before new ones can be formed. Who knew that finding one’s soul mate would test bonds and unleash beasts?
Mami Wata and Oya are now free from their watery prison and ready to wage a battle five hundred years in the making. Special Agent Assefa Berber and Dr. Sanura Williams are the prophesized Cat and Fire Witch of Legend. To save the world from Mami Wata, a water goddess with a bloody thirst for power and an insatiable appetite for death and destruction, they must defeat her beasts and the Water Witch of Legend.
Assefa and Sanura are fully in love but possess only a partial mate bond. While Sanura has merged their auras, bonding Assefa’s cat spirit to her, she has yet to accept his claiming bite. Their incomplete mate bond and their new relationship are tested when Mami Wata sets her malevolent eyes on them, manipulating beasts, sacrificing humans, and creating heartache. Can their bond survive, or will they drown under the vicious tide of godly might?
Free on Amazon 7/19 and 7/20
With focused golden eyes, alert gray ears, and keen black snout, the Mngwa took in his surroundings.
The prickly grass under his large, wide paws.
The heat of the midday sun beating down on his thick black-and-gray fur.
The scent of mullah bamyah—garlic, tomato juice, minced beef, okra, salt, and pepper.
The four snarling big cats stalking him.
Scanning each strong, lithe, and ferocious cat, the Mngwa cataloged their stance, their position, and the distance between each other and from the Mngwa. They flanked him, a large cat to his front, rear, and sides. If the Mngwa could smile, he would have. Foolishly, they thought their numbers a strategic advantage that would fell the undefeated Mngwa of myth and legend. Instead of a smile, he snarled, a baring of elongated teeth.
The four cats attacked, their bestial response to his bait.
Four sets of paws struck the ground, claws digging into grass and dirt, brawny legs propelling them forward. Razor-sharp teeth bared, husky growls cut through the muggy June air, and feline eyes glowed with a premature win.
The leopard reached the Mngwa first, snapping and going for the bigger cat’s neck. Not wasting time with the youngest of the four attackers, the Mngwa sidestepped the snarling, snapping leopard. To only pivot, turn, and ram the side of the too-slow feline with the Mngwa’s massive head. Away from the Mngwa the leopard flew, sailing through the air and crashing to the ground several feet away.
The three other cats spared no pitying glance to the downed leopard, who lay on his side, breathing labored and ragged. A sure sign of broken ribs.
More growls and snapping, each cat trying for a different part of the Mngwa’s massive body. The Mngwa was having none of it, so he went on the offensive. Leaping over the biggest threat, the Bengal tiger, the Mngwa landed nimbly, then ran straight at the cheetah. Taking the speckled feline by surprise, the Mngwa powered over the cat, knocking him down before hauling him up by his scrawny neck and shaking. The cheetah’s fragile neck was held firm between the Mngwa’s curved saber-shaped teeth.
When the Mngwa no longer felt resistance, he opened his deadly jaws and allowed the cheetah to fall from his brutal clutch and slip, nearly unconscious, to the waiting grass.
The lion and tiger claimed simultaneous strikes on the Mngwa. A swipe across his hindquarters and a bite to his side. The lion latched onto the Mngwa, his lethal teeth working to find purchase in the cat of legend’s winter dense fur and even thicker hide.
Like the predator he was, the Bengal tiger charged while the Mngwa grappled with the formidable lion. A mix of yellow-and-orange with wide dark-brown stripes, the 510-pound tiger landed on top of the Mngwa. His weight hefty, his claws long, sharp, and dangerous. The maw that threatened his nape even deadlier.
The lion kept up his offensive, kept clawing, kept sinking his teeth in deeper and deeper.
The Mngwa roared, reared back on his hind legs, forcing the tiger off him and to the hard ground. With a side dive, the Mngwa dropped the entirety of his 695 pounds onto the 380-pound lion. His long, dark mane shot up and out with the force of the attack.
The downed lion snapped and snarled but didn’t get up. No, with the Mngwa looming over him, golden eyes marble hard, paw raised, claws out and within striking range of the lion’s throat, the feline had only two choices.
One would see him dead, while the other …
The lion lowered his eyes, and then his head.
Pleased, the Mngwa shifted his gaze to the tiger, his other senses having tracked the big cat the entire time.
He knew it would come down to this—the Mngwa versus the Bengal tiger. It always did.
The big cats circled, taking each other’s measure. They searched for an opening, an opportunity to attack with the least probability of an effective and bruising counterattack. The combatants knew each other well—style of combat, defensive and offensive tactics.
Speed, size, and agility were on the Mngwa’s side. Yet, the toxin from an animal no longer than an inch, the golden poison frog could kill a dozen men. Its tiny size and bright colors deceiving. Not, at a length of 120 inches and 43 inches of shoulder height, with a tail just as long, there was anything small about the Bengal tiger baring his gleaming white teeth at the Mngwa.
The Mngwa underestimated no one—no matter the outward appearance of the enemy. Even the cat of legend, if incautious, could taste the bitter tang of defeat. So he watched and waited and plotted the tiger’s downfall.
The tiger charged, all muscle and menace. His long, powerful legs ate up the distance between them, determined copper eyes all for the Mngwa.
The cat of legend braced himself, choosing to face the big cat head-on. He wanted this fight, the primal challenge that only a great beast like the Bengal tiger could give him. A glorious battle of fangs, fur, and claws that would push, force, and compel the Mngwa to prove his worth, his manhood, his undisputed dominance as the predator of predators.
The ground shook – the Mngwa and tiger locked in a feral clench.
Strong. The tiger was so strong. But not strong enough.
The Mngwa opened his mouth wide and clamped down on fur and flesh. The neck of his opponent was thick with rigid muscles and delicate veins. The pulse of the tiger’s life a strong, fast throbbing beat in the Mngwa’s deadly mouth.
The tiger whimpered his pain. Neither loud nor long. But enough, enough for the Mngwa’s ears to detect the effect of his attack. Yet the tiger fought on, as the Mngwa knew he would. As the Mngwa wanted him to, the tiger too stubborn, courageous, and fierce to submit so easily.
No, there was much fight left in the Bengal tiger.
He swiped at the Mngwa, vicious claws finding vulnerable underbelly and drawing blood. It hurt, but not enough for the bigger cat to release his vice grip. The Mngwa sank his teeth deeper into the side of the tiger’s neck, tasting blood and prideful were-cat magic.
Her gardenia scent slammed into his senses seconds before the Mngwa and the tiger were surrounded by a ring of raging fire. Breaking his hold on the smaller cat, the Mngwa turned to see an angry fire witch barreling toward them—green eyes cold, red-gold hair and long striped sundress blowing in a wind that came out of nowhere. Her deadly focus was all for the Bengal tiger who, unlike when he fought the Mngwa, trembled with fear.
And fire witch magic crackled in the blistering summer air.
Dammit, he had to do something and fast. Retreating as far as he could go within the cage of fire, the Mngwa propelled himself forward, accelerating when he approached the heated barrier and jumped. With ease, he cleared the four-foot high ring of fire and landed, with an oompf, on top of a glaring Sanura.
“I can’t believe you just—”
He licked her. From the front ring bodice of her green-and-orange striped dress, up her toned shoulders and around the tie neck, and into thick hair covering an ear, the Mngwa tasted his witch.
“Get off me, you big furball. I can’t breathe.”
Satisfied and comfortable, the Mngwa nuzzled his witch’s face, neck, and her heaving breasts, unfazed by Sanura’s angry protestations. The only part of him that pinned the witch down was his massive head and part of his chest. But, the Mngwa supposed, even that much weight could be heavy on a woman who, while five-feet-ten-inches tall, weighed no more than 140 pounds. With a teasing snort that had a lock of her wavy hair flying upward and out of her eye, the Mngwa decided it best to give the fire breathing witch some relief.
With a single thought from Assefa—I’ll take care of our witch, my friend, go to sleep—the cat gave way to the man. A transformative effect where fur and hide succumbed to hair and skin, paws and claws shrank to hands and legs, and golden eyes, muzzle, and fangs retreated, waning under Assefa’s command.
“Is that better?” Assefa smiled down at his hot-tempered girlfriend, right before settling the whole of him on top of the whole of her.
Very nice. Sanura made for the best mattress—plush, lush and with the right amount of firmness.
“You’re naked.” A huffed complaint that did nothing to encourage Assefa to move off her.
“Of course. My Mngwa doesn’t like clothing.” He shifted on top of her, letting Sanura feel just how naked he was. “He thinks pants are too binding. What do you think?”
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I think you need to worry more about that big damn tiger you were fighting rather than your Mngwa in boxers.”
Youtube Book Trailer:
About the Author:
N. D. Jones lives in Maryland with her husband and two children. She is the founder of Kuumba Publishing, an art, audiobook, eBook, and paperback company. Kuumba Publishing is a forum for creativity, with a special commitment to promoting and encouraging creative works of authors and artists of African descent.
A desire to see more novels with positive, sexy, and three-dimensional African American characters as soul mates, friends, and lovers, inspired the author to take on the challenge of penning such romantic reads. She is the author of two paranormal romance series: Winged Warriors and Death and Destiny. N.D. likes to read historical and paranormal romance novels, as well as comics and manga.
I have three series. The first is Winged Warriors, a novella series with angels and demons. I’ve written two book in that series: Fire, Fury, Faith and Heat, Hunt, Hope. My second series is Death and Destiny trilogy. It’s a paranormal romance series with witches and were-cat shifters. Of Fear and Faith is the first book in the D&D series and Of Beasts and Bonds is the second book. The third and final book in the series, Of Deception and Divinity will be released in October. Forever Yours is my first science fiction/fantasy romance series. It’s a sweet, clean romance with Bound Souls, released earlier this year, as the first book in the series.
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release?
I’m currently working on Of Deception and Divinity. It’s the third and final book in my Death and Destiny paranormal romance trilogy. The book will be released on October 11th of this year. I haven’t yet revealed the cover. That will happen next month. But I can share the blurb with your readers.
The arrival of a new enemy. The start of a greater battle. A destiny to be defended.
A mighty war, waged every 500 years, has returned to the realm of mortals. And with it, the Day of Serpents arrives to wreak havoc upon the world.
Assefa and Sanura struggle to complete their mate bond, as they also continue their fight in this preternatural war of fire versus water. Unseen enemies, surprise magic attacks, and betrayal lurk at every turn for the couple, and revelations about their powers and past come to light.
As Assefa and Sanura fight to seal their bond and love, destiny and divinity may have already sealed their fate.
So far, what has been your favorite scene to write?
This is a great and difficult question because I have so many scenes I adore, and for very different reasons. Some are sweet and tender, others passionate and sexy, and still others intense and violent. And it’s all about the context, the build up to the scene and the emotion and characters involved.
So, one of my favorite scene is from Bound Souls, a story about lost and found love. Lela, the heroine, has lost her beloved husband of over twenty years. She has great difficulty coming to terms with his death and moving on with her life. I wrote a funeral scene with Lela, her son, Xavier, and her sister-in-law, Sage. I’ve never written a funeral scene before and the act of doing so was cathartic and reflective. I’ll share a portion of the scene.
With care, Xavier lifted the chest and placed it in front of Lela. She stared at it for a long time, he nor Sage venturing to interrupt. Her hand began to tremble before she removed it from his. A twinge of hurtful rejection flashed through him before he quickly doused it. This was something she had to do on her own—a life battle that even a loving son couldn’t protect her from.
With sullen movements, Lela removed first her engagement ring, then her wedding ring. Xavier gulped down his surprise. He wondered what his mother’s sacrifice would be, but this, he never conceived. Hell, he’d never seen her without those twin gold-and-diamond bands. And there they were, in her shivering hands, awaiting their fate.
Suddenly, her perfect posture failed Lela. She slumped over the chest, hands on either side, head low with ivory locks covering her weeping face. Xavier made to comfort her, but a terse shake of the head from Sage stilled his movement, reminding him that this was his mother’s battle to wage and win. So Xavier did nothing, hating to see how much Zion’s death still ripped through his mother. Her tears could have been his own, so deeply did he feel his mother’s grief.
But when she finally spoke, Lela’s soft words broke through her body-wracking sobs. “May Mother Cosmos guide and protect you, ushering you home and into her bosom.” She allowed one ring to slide from her hand and into the chest. But she wasn’t yet done. There was a second part of the prayer to recite, giving voice to the dead and a message to the living. “Do not weep for me, my dear ones, for I am in a safe place, a happy place, a place where life begins and life ends. Do not look back on my existence with shed tears but forward and into the sunshine that was my time with you, my dear ones. Be not sad for me. Be not sad for yourself. Be not filled with pain and grief but with anticipation and joy that we will see each other again, reunited in soul, connected forever in heart.”
The other ring dropped, and so did Lela Grace. Cradling herself in a ball, she cried and cried and cried. Unable to see his mother like that without offering comfort, Xavier laid down beside his mother. Wrapping his arms around her, he murmured the only thing he could think of to soothe her. “Ab’ba gave you thirty years, all that he had to give. If possible, he would’ve given you more… us more. It’s all right to cry, A’bra. I got you. I will always have you.”
Do you have any extras you’d like to share, like a teaser about an upcoming new release, a summary of a deleted scene, or a teaser about a surprising plot twist or character?
As I mentioned, I’m finalizing Of Deception and Divinity. I’m willing to share a little teaser from that book—a sweet scene between Sanura and Assefa, the hero and heroine of the Death and Destiny trilogy.
The kisses began at his ear, soft, little nibbles to his lobe, then his cheek and jaw, traveling down to his neck and the high collar of his gray dress shirt. Circling back up, Sanura continued, finding the left side of Assefa’s face and gifting it with the same sweet attention as the right. By the time she reached his mouth, his hands had dropped to her hips, fingers digging in and pulling her even closer, breath hot, heart thudding and lips parting for her sublime tongue.
Sanura kissed him. Slanted those perfect, plump lips of hers and took, with the same enthusiasm as her welcome back hug. Hands moved to her bottom, pulling her into him. Hips grinding into her, all thoughts of the public nature of their reunion kiss was forgotten with the intoxicating moans coming from his witch.
For the first time since meeting Sanura, Assefa was grateful the woman didn’t wear one of her dresses, showing off, to exquisite effect, her long sexy legs. If she did, if he’d been able to feel the silky-softness of her legs rubbing against his as they kissed, his greedy hands would’ve relished taking full advantage, exploring terrain they knew so well.
By slow, regretful degrees, Assefa pulled out of the kiss, remembering they’d shared their first in this very spot, about four months ago. Their eyes met, and Assefa knew Sanura recalled the same memory.
Her hands came to his cheeks, cupping his face, voice tender and sincere when she spoke. “Back then, you were so much of what I wanted and everything I was afraid to have.”
Damn, how did she do that? How did Sanura remove his heart from his chest, hold it in her hands and he still breathed, still lived? Because surely the woman would be the emotional death of him, so deftly did she manage her were-cat—effortless and without artifice. Sanura simply spoke from the heart, fighting for them the way she’d promised on her birthday.
What about television shows? Movies?
When I was a kid, I watched television all the time. Now, there may be one or two shows I try to remember to catch. Netflix is great for a person like me, so I tend to watch shows like Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Colony. I love movies and shows with elements of the supernatural, as well as just good action, especially if the action involves a kickass heroine. The Underworld series, particularly the first two movies, were awesome. And, of course, come on, Wonder Woman. Then there’s Black Panther coming out next year. Yes, I can’t wait for that movie. So, from my list, I pretty much write in the genre I tend to watch and enjoy on the big and small screens.
Disclosure: This website contains affiliate links and/or sponsored content. Click here to read more.
From financial loss to the termination of a 30 year marriage and a betrayal of friendship. This grandmother is propelled across the Atlantic Ocean in search of some meaning to this second stage of her life. She providentially encounters a French woman who becomes a mentor and enrolls at the University of Nice. Soon along with her classmates, all younger than her children, she forms a mini United Nations. Her new beginning was more than she had hoped for until a letter from home threatens to disrupt her journey. After moving from Nice to Paris, a call to the Franco American services opens up a world she never dreamt of, all while a chance encounter with an American business man leads her into uncharted waters.
I Found My Tomorrow in Paris is a story of betrayal, friendship and the discovery of self.
Free on Kindle Unlimited
“While October brought the beginning of school, it also heralded a change in the weather. The sun softens earlier. Sometimes it completely disappears under low-hanging overcast skies that grow more and more somber, until darkness envelops the city. An eerie mist slithers up then, from the river to the streetlamps, and casts reddish haloes over the boulevards. It’s another world after dark…. Weekly mornings, on the other hand, run on the predictable rhythm of ritual.
Each near-dawn the alarm clock gets me up and about my morning ministrations: a thank-you meditation, a shower, maybe some yogurt and a banana, then off into the pre-dawn darkness for a short walk along the Champs Élysées. After two blocks, I venture down into the truly dark bowels of Paris for the metro, in which several passengers and I sit trance-like until our underground destination. From there we disembark and scurry through dimly lit tunnels past vendors hawking their wares and, eventually, resurface into the still-dark Parisian mist—like rodents venturing out from our holes. My destination? Boulevard St. Michel.
I follow along the bank of the Seine.
The Seine… It reeks of centuries of use, lost lives, and eons of waste. The muddy, unforgiving flow advances along its course, an innocent receptor of untold atrocities. What forbidden secrets it must hold. The river begs forgiveness for its part in receiving spoils of hundreds of decades of abuse. Yet its mindless, soothing surge forgives all and accepts its destiny—a landmark of truth.
From across this flowing dark mass the bells of Notre Dame toll out the hour. One… Two… Three… Eight reverberating bongs. I stop to gaze at its illuminated Gothic towers and listen. I feel heaven’s angels all around me in what feels like timeless, unnatural peace. This spiritual something stays with me for two blocks more. It lingers as I step inside the building of education and clump three flights to my classroom. It lingers, until I fix the ear-phones to my head and hear the first drone of “Maintenant étudients. Répétez.” The exchange of realities is instant, and repetition is my world for the next several hours…”
About the Author:
“Born in a Nebraska Farmhouse I was a member of the greatest generation living the American dream. At midlife it all evaporated. I was left with decisions to be made that seemed unsurmountable. While my escape to France does not define my life it had a profound effect on me. All my thoughts—in fact my life— was laid bare to be painfully examined and redefined. With perseverance and faith I came to understand and accept what I had become and discover a new me with its incumbent peace. Upon my arrival home, to San Francisco, I felt like a flower which has opened up to absorb all that life has to offer.
Beyond the shores of my reality, where for three decades I faithfully performed my role as wife and mother, another realm awaited me. A realm of ancient history and personal discovery, of architectural grandeur and intellectual broadening. In the 1950s, my life was simple and grew only to a shelved status culturally determined for girls who married right out of high school. This cup consigned to me kept filled without much ado really; never overflowing, it merely teased at the lip. But life that centered round home and hearth contented me, satisfied as I was deemed to be with what I’d now describe as a homogenized expectation for women in that period of American life. It wasn’t until my divorce and a trip to South America that I was awakened to the possibilities of more. South America had captivated me with its beauty, its exotic bouquets of people and sounds, colors and scents. Returning home then, the grass felt more alive between my bare toes, just as it had in the days of my youth. For several years more I clung to ‘safe’ and ‘dependable,’ until it all evaporated like a dream at first light. Yet my overturned world did not leave me without options; oddly, it presented me with a persuasive opportunity. A journey, as it would turn out, that would be my true coming of age, my second flowering.”
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Dying is optional.
Living is forbidden.
The year is 2111, and scientists have discovered how to cheat death by extracting memories, thoughts, and personality traits from the dying, methodically implanting them into artificial bodies. At the time, it seemed too good to be true, never having to lose anyone to illness or time, and maybe it was.
Rejected as being nothing more than imposters of the living, the dead are shunned by society. Their families, friends, and neighbors, having grown to fear them, erected walls around their cities to keep them out. Over time, those cities were replaced with colonies overseen by governors to keep order.
At seventeen, Zaila Lockhart has only known isolation. Isolation from the world that extends both outside and inside her colony. As the daughter of the unpopular governor, she is the target of resentment, especially now that resources are becoming more scarce, since all trade between the colonies has been interrupted by a group marauders. Starvation seems imminent, and a war between the living and the dead over much-needed provisions looms on the horizon.
In search of food and other supplies, Zaila takes it upon herself to secretly venture outside her colony’s walls. Joined by Pax Muldoon, her only friend, the pair are ambushed by a group of scavengers. Identified as being the governor’s daughter, Zaila is brought back to the scavengers’ base in a city occupied by both the dead and their living sympathizers.
Zaila thought she knew everything there was to know about her captors, that the history being taught in the colonies was rooted in fact. But some lessons are better learned outside the classroom, where the living have grown to fear life, and the dead are the only ones truly living.
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Down the hall, the sound of doors opening and closing sent chills down my spine. Pax wrapped his arm around my trembling body and held me close to him, partly to comfort me and partly for his own comfort. “Get your knife ready,” he whispered.
“One step ahead of you.” The knife rested in my unsteady hand, ready for the action I’d hoped it would never have to see.
We held our breath when the footsteps left the neighboring room and approached ours. Through a small gap between the closet door and the door frame, a small grey glow appeared in the room, followed by footsteps that were suddenly rendered mute by the carpeted floor. More frightened than I could ever remember, I closed my eyes, willing the being to go away. But instead of heeding my prayer, the sound of boots on carpet continued to pulsate in my eardrums, narrowly beating out the sound of my own heartbeat.
And then the steps came closer, the glow more evident until it stopped. Too terrified to move, we remained still, even when the closet door began to open.
About the Author:
Sara “Furlong” Burr was born and raised in Michigan and currently still lives there with her husband, two daughters, a high-strung Lab, and three judgmental cats. When she’s not writing, Sara enjoys reading, camping, spending time with her family, and attempting to paint while consuming more amaretto sours than she cares to admit.
Thanks for doing an interview! Could you tell our readers a little bit about your writing journey? You’re very welcome. My journey started about eight years ago. I’d had this idea for a dystopian trilogy involving superheroes in my head for several years and finally decided to begin writing it down, just to get the story out of my mind. In 2012, I decided to publish it (Enigma Black) on Amazon and was ecstatic when it was selected as a Kindle Book Review 2013 semi-finalist in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category. I subsequently published the other two novels in the trilogy (Vendetta Nation and Redemption) in 2013 and 2014, respectfully. In 2016, I published The Living and The Dead, another dystopian novel, which will most likely turn into a series of its own.
How many books do you currently have published? I have four others books aside from The Living and The Dead, including a sci-fi/dystopian trilogy (Engima Black, Vendetta Nation, and Redemption) and a short story (A Second Chance) in the paranormal genre.
What has been your favorite book to write so far? Why? I would say Enigma Black, solely because it was my first book.
Are you currently working on a book? Will this be your next release? Yes, I’m parting ways with the dystopian genre for a bit and am in the middle of a contemporary romance entitled When Time Stands Still. I’m currently 50k words into it and hope to release it sometime late 2017 or early 2018.
What do you enjoy most about writing? I’m not great at expressing myself verbally and find that writing is the best way for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I also like the idea of being able to right wrongs and create worlds and situations in which readers can both relate and be entertained.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it? All the time. I think my writer’s block is more the product of self-doubt and striving for perfection than lack of content. I begin to doubt my abilities and over think things, which inevitably leads to frustration. To counteract this, I remind myself that the first draft is never perfect and to just write. I find that this invariably steers the ship in the right direction.
Have you ever had one of your characters take a twist you weren’t expecting and surprise you? Of course, I think that happens more often than not for writers. In particular, there is a character from the Enigma Black trilogy who I grew more attached to than any of the other characters (excluding the main character). In fact, I grew so attached to him that I thought about completely changing the ending I’d always planned for the trilogy as the original ending broke my heart.
Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Why? Zaila Lockhart from The Living and The Dead and Celaine Stevens from Enigma Black. Both are strong, independent women who stand up for what they believe in, even if it goes against the grain.
So far, what has been your favorite scene to write? Probably the ending scenes in Redemption, as they signified the end of a long and rewarding road for me.
What lessons have you learned since becoming a writer? Do you have any tips for new writers? I’ve learned that there’s always room for growth and improvement, and that I need to quit being so hard on myself. My tip to any future or new writers is to follow your dreams. Don’t get bogged down by the negative reviews (as they happen to everyone). Learn from your mistakes and keep pushing yourself.
If you were to recommend your books to a stranger, which book would you advise them to start with? Why? It depends. Since my books are essentially all in the same genre, I would probably recommend that if the reader is looking more for a young adult book that they start with The Living and The Dead, and if they want a more mature read, they should go for Enigma Black.
Now it’s time to get to know you! What are some of your favorite books and television shows? Movies? I like to read the same genre I write, dystopian novels with a hint of romance. As far as movies and television, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, Outlander, Orange is the New Black, and consider myself a bit of a Star Wars nerd.
If you had to sum up your life as a writer in ten words, what would you say? Insightful, frustrating at times, but always rewarding in the end.
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