Monday, December 22, 2014

~ DESTINY CALLING ~ Better Pick Up! ~

Blurb ~ 

Hope Doesn’t Know If The Man She Can Touch Is A Dream Come True, Or A Nightmare Just Beginning.

Hope only wants to find out if her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with her touch makes her the devil's spawn, or his exterminator. But when the woman who raised her is murdered by something not human, she loses the only family she knew and discovers one she might wish she hadn’t.

Drawn back to the hometown she vowed never to return to, her ability is seen as an asset to everyone but Hope, and she doesn't know who to trust. Her family wants her to help them overcome an enemy oppressing the human population, while the man of her dreams is courting her for the Underworld.

Time is running out, and Hope’s choice may be made for her, as she discovers she’s a pawn in a bigger game played by a merciless ruler who doesn't lose.

You can buy DESTINY CALLING at:

Amazon Kindle Amazon Paperback The Wild Rose Press

Excerpt ~ 

I strained to release my arm from Griffith’s vise-like grip while scanning the surrounding trees, trying to determine which was less of a threat, the beast of a man holding me or those who might be waiting for me in the woods.

“You will come inside, now.” Griffith spoke slowly and deliberately as if I were a small child.

I batted at the hand Griffith placed on my head. “I’m not a puppy, quit petting me.”

“I will protect you.” Griffith’s warm breath caressed my ear. “If for no other reason, to find out what I’m giving up and why she wants you so badly.”

I inhaled his masculine scent, like musky earth. It washed over my face, and the tension in my jaw released. I stopped struggling. “Are you the devil?” My tongue was thick and heavy so the words came out slurred.

“Not even close.” His words soothed and comforted, like having a weighted blanket cocoon me. Each movement was an effort. It wasn’t the same as the thing in the woods. This was more like the feeling after a long massage or bubble bath.

“It’s not safe.” Griffith wrapped his arms around me, and I rested against his broad chest.

“It’s not safe.” I nodded. My muscles relaxed and my eyelids grew heavy.

“It’s cold. We’re going inside.” Griffith kept his arm supporting me as he steered me toward the house.

“We’re going inside.” I parroted and walked up the steps, leaning heavily on him.

Out of the corner of my eye, something was cautiously moving at the edge of the woods. Branches snapped as whatever was observing us crept closer.


Growing up with four siblings had Maureen familiar with escaping into a good book, or the recesses of her mind. She realized later in life everyone didn’t have characters telling stories in their heads, or weren’t envisioning magic and mayhem within the everyday. This, and long walks in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania spawned a love of writing.

Since her desire to become a Solid Gold Dancer was thwarted when the show was discontinued, Maureen opted to pursue other paths. Attempting to conquer new endeavors proved fruitful with her first novella, while other attempts, such as challenging a fear of heights with parasailing, were unsuccessful.

Therefore she’s chased other interests, though none-the-less-daring, but closer to the ground, such as belly-dancing, becoming a self-proclaimed tequila connoisseur, fulfilling her role as biker babe to her alpha hubby and surviving motherhood to twins (so far).

Penning stories boasting laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world.

You can find Maureen here: 








Destiny Calling
The Enchantlings
Volume 1
by Maureen L. Bonatch

A Paranormal Romance from 

The Wild Rose Press

Available on December 22, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

~ When All Else Fails, Consult the BOOK OF LOVE! ~

In the spotlight today I have author Constance Bretes and her BOOK OF LOVE!

Blurb ~ 

A librarian, a mechanic, and a psychotic ex. What could go wrong?

When her marriage came to a devastating end, Janice Meyers moved to Montana to try to escape her past and get a fresh start. She's sworn off men, but she didn't anticipate meeting Chris.

After the death of his wife, Chris Jamisen focused all his time and energy on running his auto repair shop and raising his children. He's not looking for love, and when he first meets Janice, the town's new librarian, he never imagines they might embark on a relationship. Sure, he'll admit he finds the smart, sexy blonde attractive, but the frustrating woman expects miracles from him. Her vehicle is practically beyond repair, but she insists he has to keep it running.

As Chris gets to know Janice, he begins to develop feelings for her, but he's reluctant to pursue a relationship. He's Native American, and he worries about the complications of a biracial relationship. He's experienced prejudice first hand, so he knows how difficult it can be.

When Janice's ex-husband shows up seeking revenge, things could reach a horrible end. Will Chris save Janice in time? And will he and Janice be able to set aside their painful pasts and give their relationship a chance?

Content Warning: contains some sexual content

Excerpt ~

Janice had butterflies in her stomach as five o'clock came and Chris arrived at the library.

"Hi, Chris," Janice said.

"Hello. What's this all about?" he asked pensively.

"I wanted to take you downstairs to the basement and show you something," she said.

They walked down the stairs, Chris following Janice. When she turned on the light a rat slithered across the floor, and she let out a shriek. Chris looked around the room.

"We have all these books here," Janice said. She lifted one of the old books and opened it to the pages and within where some were eaten away. "The vermin and bugs have been attacking these, and in some cases, the books have disintegrated. See here? This is a book about Colstrip back in the 1800s and we can't even open the book to read it because it has totally disintegrated inside. Some of these books are real gems. This is one of a first edition, Samuel Clemens, do you know of him?"


"His pen name is Mark Twain. He wrote Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer."

"Oh," Chris replied.

"Look at his book. It's totally destroyed, and it would have been worth a lot of money now, if it had survived."

Janice went over to the ladder and stepped up on it to show Chris the books on the top shelf. The ladder gave way, and she came crashing down. Chris caught her before she fell to the floor.

"Are you okay?" he asked, concern in his tone.

"Um, yeah, I think so." She put her feet on the floor and turned, facing Chris, her breasts against his chest. His arms were around her waist, holding her tightly. His breath mingled with hers, and he was looking down at her lips.

Oh, she wanted him to kiss her. Please, please kiss me. The sweet, intoxicating musk of his body overwhelmed her. He bent slightly toward her, and his lips touched hers softly. She kissed him back, lingering, savoring every moment. She felt the kiss all the way through her body as she put her arms around him. A loud rustling noise broke their kiss with a start.

Chris looked around and saw that there were rats in the corner rattling paper. He turned back to her. "Are we finished here?"

"Yes, I think we are." Janice hoped she had convinced him that there was work to be done in the basement.

When they went upstairs, he turned around and asked her huskily, "What was the purpose of our little meeting, Janice?"

Janice thought about how she should answer the question then said, "I submitted the request to the mayor's office for several things, and I heard that you would probably be the one person that would oppose spending any money for the project I'm suggesting, so I wanted to show you the benefit of my proposal and the problems we are faced with currently."

Chris had a gentle smile on his face as he looked at her. "Good persuasion, Janice. Does that include the kiss too?"

Janice looked down at her feet, embarrassed. "No, the kiss was not part of the persuasion. At least, not on my part."

Author Bio ~

Constance Bretes is an author of contemporary romance and suspense. Her romance books are often set in different parts of the country, but her favorite site is Montana. She's married to her best friend and resides in Michigan with him and a houseful of cats. When she's not at her regular 8-to-5 job, she can be found writing, researching, and spending time with her husband.

You can find Connie at:

You can buy BOOK OF LOVE at:

Constance Bretes, Author

Delayed Justice
Can two former lovers set aside their differences and work together to bring a criminal to justice?

The Last Dig
Bones, Bodies and Love Rekindled 

Love Songs Separated by fame, reunited through music

Book of Love
A librarian, a mechanic, and a psychotic ex. What could go wrong?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Feline Up For Some Literature?

First of all, many thanks to M.J. Schiller for the opportunity to guest on this wonderful blog today.

Negative Reviews With a Difference

Mrs B and I have been indie authors and bloggers since 2011 and in that time we have seen a lot in the book world. The unwanted negative reviews are something that all authors have to face at some stage and it’s never easy when you get your first one. Some authors have gone to the lengths of challenging bad feedback, but most accept it and move on with their next project. Personally, I’ve always valued constructive criticism, even more so than the highest praise. I don’t believe a writer can ever stop improving and who better than readers to highlight the areas where they feel you could strengthen your skills.

One thing that indie authors will not have to face are the reviews of one individual, someone I know personally but wish I didn’t. He has four legs, a tail, a desire for world domination and if he takes a disliking to a book he isn’t afraid to let anyone know about it. This far from humble critic goes by the name of Charlie and was the fourth cat myself and Mrs B adopted. It was a choice made by both of us, one of us eagerly, the other under duress, but both of us have come to regret it.

Charlie has made many plans for world domination but none came to fruition until tales of his genius (according to him) made their way into Man vs Cat, which first appeared in 2012. In that book I tried to warn everyone of just how dangerous Charlie is but no one believed me. I was either laughed at or given the names of a selection of therapists that might be able to help with my issues. I’d like to say I had the last laugh but the truth is I have wept knowing I was right.

Putting his military operations on hold, Charlie went ahead and wrote his first book. He channelled his hatred of literature, excluding Animal Farm, into a collection of book reviews. 25 popular works have spent time in Charlie’s company and wished they’d had a weekend in a hotel with Norman Bates instead. Charlie named this absurd collection - The Bleaklisted Books. Charlie, of course, means “blacklisted” but he likes to do things his way.

The Bleaklisted Books are negative reviews with a difference. In each entry Charlie takes a work of literature, spoils the plot by summarising it and then explains why he feels the need to bleaklist it. Now, you may be thinking this sounds like any other badly written review but you would be wrong. Not content with dismissing a great book, Charlie feels the need to offer up an alternative plot and it’s here that The Bleaklisted Books showcases just what a load of nonsense it really is. If you dare to pick up Charlie’s work then I will warn you that no novel is sacred in this demented feline’s mind, not in this collection and not in the next selection - More Bleaklisted Books - due next year.

As with Man vs Cat, I am trying to warn people to not be taken in by Charlie’s ramblings but already readers are embracing his perspective and looking at me as if I am strange. All that is left for me to say is, if you’ve ever had a bad review then take a few moments to read one of Charlie’s alternative takes on a great work of literature. I guarantee you’ll be grateful that your book didn’t find its way onto Charlie’s bleaklist.

Blurb ~

My mini-irons,

I urge you to embrace the goose-spell of Animal Farm and you will find sanctuary when our difficult war is over. I will add, of course, that given that conquering the world means a long, long, long, long, long war, I will permit you to read another book every now and again.

Just remember which books are bleak-listed; e.g. Barry Potterer, 100 Years of Silly Tudor, Prude and Perjury, The Hungary Olympic Games, The Chronicles of Nerdia and Of Mike and Ben.

In the meantime, here is a list of books I have vetted and will reconsider for approval if the appro… apprap… proper changes are made. Read this manyule carefully mini-irons.

Your Cat-tain

Charlie Brown 

Excerpt ~

What happens?

Some spy is told to carry out an assignment in East Germany to uncover a double agent but he falls for someone prior to this and love ultimately messes the operation up.

Reason for bleaklisting?

Proper spies don’t fall in love. Wimps they are!

What should have happened?

Eric is sent on an exclusive mission into East Germany to assassinate a double agent. Before setting off he is approached by an air stewardess named Fiz who fancies him but he turns her down. She does warn him that it’s cold in East Germany and gives him some cough syrup.

Suspicious of the bottle labelled poison with a skull on it, Eric tosses the syrup and completes his mission. When he returns home to England he has a runny nose and is coughing a lot. Fiz realises he has seen through the poison expertly disguised as cough syrup and she runs away. She is shot and killed by a traffic warden who believes her car is parked on double yellow lines. Eric ends the novel by nipping to the pharmacy for some genuine cough syrup.

Special instruction

Make available at MI5, MI6, CIA, B&Q and M&S and rename The Spy Who Came Home with a Cold.

* * *

Mr B compares the stories

Dear me, Charlie, I thought you’d like John le Carré’s 1963 Cold War Novel. The Spy Who Came in From the Cold does deal with Communist East Germany where Alec Leamas is sent, under the pretence that he is defecting, and with the intention of locating Mundt, suspected of being a double agent. Alec has a romance with Liz which ultimately throws a spanner in the works. There isn’t anything about cough syrup thankfully and as with Charlie’s other efforts, this one is likely to disappear into the ether. My apologies to Mr le Carré for this despicable alternative to his story.

About Donna ~ 

Donna is a longtime book lover and sometime book reviewer and has devoured books from an early age. She writes short (or long) stories as and when inspiration hits and is married to fantasy author David M. Brown (Fezariu’s Epiphany, A World Apart). She was also co-contributor to David’s book, Man vs Cat, a humorous look at life with six rambunctious rescue cats.

Donna has lived in many different areas of the UK over the last 30-something years but has remained in Yorkshire for the past decade. She ardently disputes the misnomer that ‘It’s grim up north’. You can find Donna on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Goodreads, or visit her and her husband’s shared blog: B-Lines and Felines.

About David ~

David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Hons in History and English, David’s dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu’s Epiphany and A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month travelling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

You can find Donna at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Pinterest | YouTube | Tumblr |Instagram | LinkedIn | Amazon

You can find David at:


Buy Links: Amazon

Friday, December 12, 2014

~ It All Happened ONCE UPON A WEDDING! ~

Blurb ~ 

Cassie Anderson, bridesmaid extraordinaire, is tired of attending her friend’s weddings either solo, or with her best friend, Thad. Finding a real date is simply too much work. Especially when she sees an old acquaintance from high school, Dan, at her friend Shelley’s wedding.

After the spark shared between them, Dan has become the object of her affection. Too bad he has a nasty habit of having a date on his arm at every turn. Stealing another woman’s date is against the rules, but if she could just catch him alone…well, that would be fair game!

Unfortunately, timing is everything, and she and Dan seem to have the worst. Always the bridesmaid, walking away with nothing more than a dreadful dress, Cassie is committed to changing her luck and getting her man!

Excerpt ~ 

“Cassie. Cassie, did you see who’s here?” Shelley tugged at her skirt, trying to get her attention directed toward the back of the church.

“What’s the matter with you?” she asked Shelley and then turned to face the back of the church. “Ohh, now I see what you mean.”

“And yet, you ignored me,” Thad said from the other side.

She just blew him off with a wave. He would get over it in two seconds or less anyway.

There he stood, looking as dapper as a GQ cover. His suit was a very nice shade of blue, with a white shirt and what appeared to be a pinstripe tie. By the time Shelley had gotten her attention, he had already selected a pew and scooted by people for a seat. The most important thing Cassie noticed was his lack of a date.

Who doesn’t take their fiancée to a wedding?
This could be a good sign. Of course, she would have to do some more investigating before she determined whether he had a single status at this point, or remained affianced. It then dawned on her that she, herself, had brought a date to the wedding. She took her eyes off Dan long enough to glance over at Thad, currently very busy staring at the legs of the woman next to him.

Boy, can I pick ‘em. Even my pretend boyfriends are losers.

“Thad, do you think you could be a little more discrete about your appreciation for our neighbor there?” she asked through gritted teeth, trying to keep her disdain to a low roar.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry Cassie. But did you see her calves? I swear, it’s just a professional thing,” he said this with the gigolo grin, his specialty, one that hardly ever worked on Cassie. Hardly ever.

“If this is where you tell me how you’re a critic and you were just admiring her legs in a professional manner, don’t bother,” Cassie uttered in her most stern, yet quiet, voice. “You critique the arts, Thad, her legs are not performing.”

“I could argue that point, but seeing how your face is scrunching up at me, I won’t. You’re right, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.”

Thad did his best to appear remorseful and even went so far as to kiss her forehead and squeeze her hand. She did not squeeze back.

To Cassie’s way of thinking, the fact that he had been holding her hand the whole time, including while checking out the lady’s legs next to them, made it a little worse. What could she say, though, considering she had been waiting and hoping for the appearance of another man?

She turned her head and caught Dan glancing in her direction. His mouth immediately curved up into a smile and he waved in Cassie’s direction. Cassie returned the smile and raised her left hand to reciprocate the wave, realizing she’d brought Thad’s hand along with her. Making it obvious that she had brought a date to the wedding, she immediately dropped Thad’s hand. Too late. She knew Dan had seen already.

mn it!

Author Bio ~

Kelly Rae is mom to an amazing young man. Everything else is just a way to keep busy between laughs with her son, or a way to pay for his sports equipment and growing feet. When she was twelve years old, she hit the big leagues by winning a Young Authors Award (okay, okay, it was only within her school district. Shh.) Although she has been unable to duplicate this success in her adult writing, she is giving it her best shot. Kelly, her son, and their chocolate lab, live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy the sun when it shines and the snow when it falls. When they aren’t dancing in the rain or singing at the top of their lungs in the car, they are planning their dream vacations…which they might even get to take some day.

You can find Kelly at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

You can buy ONCE UPON A WEDDING at:

Buy Links: Amazon

Monday, December 8, 2014

Enter GATEWAYS ~ To Better Fiction!

Good morning! Today I'm delighted to have Brian Gottheil joining us with his new release GATEWAYS! Brian is taking over the airwaves for the day so here he is--->

One hundred years ago, Europe saw the outbreak of one of the most horrific wars in history. World War I was a senseless waste of human life. When the dust finally cleared, 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians were dead for no reason beyond nationalism and colonial ambition. It’s staggering, mind-numbing, to believe that we ever descended to it.

That senseless horror has always fascinated me about the Great War. How were human beings were able to kill so many for so little reason?

But it isn’t quite that simple. As much as wars horrify me, and World War I more than most, I have never been a pacifist. Perhaps as the descendant of Holocaust survivors who were rescued by soldiers, I couldn’t be a pacifist. I had to believe that there were righteous wars. I had to believe that soldiers could be heroes.

That tension, between the horror of war and the idea that it might sometimes be necessary, was the driving motivation behind my alternate-world novel, Gateways.

Gateways is told from the point of view of a pacifist politician trying to end a gruesome, World War I-style conflict. On one level it’s an anti-war story. Neither Deugan nor Brealand, the fictional countries who are the main combatants, are the “bad guys” in the novel. The true antagonist is the war itself, and all of the forces on both sides that conspire to keep people fighting.

It’s a different perspective and a different kind of story from most alternate-world and fantasy novels, and to me, World War I is the quintessential war in which to tell it.

Yet Gateways is more than anti-war, because it’s that tension between the bad and the necessary sides of war that Gateways explores. Despite the enormous costs of war, peace too has a price. So throughout the novel our hero’s idealism is tested, and we see just how much she is prepared to sacrifice for the cause of peace.

There is a lot more that goes on in the novel, too. Like Europe before the real World War I, the world of Gateways is a political quagmire with various nation-states and nationalist movements vying for advantage. My personal favorite scenes in Gateways are actually the negotiations, not the battles. Diplomacy and mediation are key aspects of the novel, but it also features a mystery, some internal plots and counter-plots ... and, of course, magic.

Which, like war and peace, is more ambiguous than it first seems. The magic has its own mind and its own moral compass. It does some awful things, it exacts too high a price for those who seek to use it, but sometimes it might also be necessary. There is a tension there, for which the characters – including, perhaps, the magic itself – might have to make sacrifices.

Which brings us back to the tension that I always feel when I think about war. I still haven’t figured out the answers and I probably never will. War will often be horrifying, and sacrifices will often be heroic. Maybe those go hand in hand, and there doesn’t need to be a tension after all. All I can say is that I prefer peace to be celebrated, but war to be commemorated. As we are doing now, all across the world, on the centennial of the start of World War I. We should remember the war, mourn it, and, if at all possible, learn from it.

Blurb ~

For months, the Continent has been mired in a devastating war: artillery barrages lasting days, the death rattle of machine guns, toxic chemical gas, futile charges across no-man’s-land toward enemy trenches. Caryn Hallom, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Deugan and the first woman to have achieved such a powerful position in the fledgling democracy, is horrified that she failed to prevent the war from breaking out on her watch.

When Caryn finds herself trapped together with Michael Ravencliffe, a member of the royal family of Deugan’s main enemy in the war, she seizes on the opportunity to try to negotiate an end to the fighting. Little does she know that a new faction is about to enter the conflict, armed with a frightening magical weapon … or that it will be led by the one person on the Continent who knows the truth about Caryn’s past.

Gateways has been described as a fantasy novel that reads like historical fiction. Set in an alternate world that resembles Europe during the First World War, the novel combines geopolitics with plots, counterplots and magic, and ultimately asks the question: how far are we prepared to go for peace?

Excerpt ~

It was an old memory, the kind that lies
concealed in the corners of the mind until it emerges in times of tension. A dirt floor, a boy, and a night sky filled with so many stars that it almost seemed white.

The stars were a surprise she’d prepared for Brenner. The boy had been moody ever since she met him, but his malaise was darker now. He had set himself apart from Jayla and the professor, brooding, barely speaking. But as she led him out from the room where he slept and as the stars came into view overhead, his harsh expression melted and he hugged her with more warmth than she’d thought possible.

Now they were lying side by side on the ground, staring up at the stars and talking about dogs. “How can you not like dogs?” Jayla demanded. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Hey, I have nothing against them,” Brenner said. “They’re cute and all. But you never really know what they’re going to do.”

“Well, yeah, they’re alive,” Jayla said. “They’ve got brains. Sometimes they’ll surprise you. But dogs are awfully predictable. He sees a smaller animal, he’ll chase it. He smells food, he’ll come running.” She grinned. “My little brother was like that.”

“But you could reason with your little brother,” Brenner said.

“Not when it came to food. Or chasing smaller animals. Besides, you can train a dog.”

“Sure,” Brenner said, “and that’s why I’m okay with them. At least you can figure them out and use that. Seems a bit manipulative, that’s all.”

Jayla grinned again. “Brenner Halloway! Is the strong, silent specimen who has sulked sullenly the past six span so seduced by this splendid starry sky that he’s sorry about manipulating a canine?”

He laughed, a deep belly laugh that echoed off the stone walls. Then his voice turned serious. “How do you do that? I haven’t laughed since we got in here. And you just say a bunch of words that start with the same letter and it’s like none of it ever happened.”

Jayla glanced over at him. He was lying on his side, looking back at her. His brow was furrowed. He was a handsome boy, moody as he was. He was thin without being skinny, tall without being overpowering. His brown hair was still combed over neatly, a curious attention to fashion considering the circumstances. Lacking any shaving supplies, he had grown a fierce brown beard that nearly hid the faint discolouration on the right side of his chin and neck. And while he hardly looked an athlete, there was some definition in his arms as he propped himself up from the ground.

“How I do it?” Jayla repeated. She shrugged. “I really don’t know what to say.”

“Not a problem I ever thought you’d have,” Brenner teased.

“Look, I’m scared and angry too,” Jayla said. “I’m just trying to make the best of it. We might still get out of here. The Guard might still come.”

“Oh, open your eyes,” Brenner snapped. “The Guard isn’t coming. Nobody’s coming, they’re the ones who —”

“Oh, open your eyes,” Jayla interrupted him, “and look at those stars.”

The night sky was gorgeous. Jayla had grown up in Villasud, the city known throughout Wassia as the Light of the South. Its nickname had never been more fitting. Since wide-scale electric lighting was introduced to Villasud a few years before Jayla’s birth, its commercial and industrial centres were constantly lit, hiding most of the night’s stars. Jayla’s father, who had made his fortune purchasing and managing many of Villasud’s factories, called it “progress.”

“I wish I could take you to the manor,” Brenner said. “Show you some real stars.”

“Hey!” Jayla shouted, pointing at the sky. “These ones are real.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do you think I created an entire sky?” Jayla said. “If I was that good, we’d be out of here by now.” She looked around the cavern. At one end of the room, she could still see the green rocks and the dust that had collapsed there, trapping them inside when the avalanche had hit. There were several small holes in the barricade, allowing in the air that kept them alive, but they lacked any tools with which to expand the holes and escape. Throughout the rest of the cave, the walls were not green but orange, strange, rough and glowing. They jutted up from the hard dirt floor, but instead of curving around to form a ceiling, their tops appeared suspended in the air, like the ancient walls of the Raolin Temple ruins in Villasud or the famous arches of the Old Empire, waiting to collapse.

“What did you do, then?” Brenner asked.

“I spoke to the rocks,” Jayla said. “The ceiling, I mean. It wouldn’t move aside to let us out. But I got it to hide itself. To turn invisible. So we could see the sky through it.” She glared at him. “The real sky.”

Brenner sat up and looked at her. He frowned and rubbed his new beard. “You spoke to the ceiling?”

“Not with words.” It was so hard to explain. As a child, Jayla had always been good with people. She’d had to be, to survive at home. Her father was a gruff man whose pride and joy was his business. He was rarely away from his desk, and when he was, its stresses still consumed him. Jayla’s mother came from an old but heavily indebted family that had sacrificed much in the way of pride to arrange her marriage to an industrialist. She often felt torn between her new family and her old one, and felt lonely and isolated in the city. Two tired, ragged people who belonged apart had been thrown together, and their arguments were fierce. Jayla had learned from an early age to mediate, to make peace — and that meant she had learned to understand them.

Jayla was concentrating on the orange rocks and on the power that coursed through her, trying to reach out to both at the same time, when suddenly she felt the air shimmer and a wave of warmth rushed through her body, starting at her feet and shooting past her ankles and up through her legs, her centre, her chest. She saw a vision then, a jagged grey boulder jolted with a flash of lightning. She raised a hand to steady herself, but faster than a blink, the warmth was gone and the image faded.

“Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to be a rock in a place like this?” she asked Brenner.

“Rocks don’t feel anything.”

“I know. It’s just a thought.” She had thought for several minutes about the vision. Something cold and lifeless suddenly seeing a surge of power rush through it. Unpleasant. Jarring. Then she imagined the feeling continuing, non-stop, like spending hours at that carnival game that tested how long you could stand an electric shock pulsing in your hands.

And the power responded. Flash — a huge mass, breaking apart, its pieces melting — and flash, the vision gone. Jayla focused on physical changes, on no longer being the shape you once were. This was one Jayla really could understand. After a month and a half in this Well, her own body was no longer the sixteen-year-old one she remembered.

“I’ve used the magic,” Brenner said. He said it grudgingly, as though the very word were shameful. “Or the power or the energy or whatever we’re supposed to call it to make it sound less childish. There’s no rhyme or reason to when it works. Sometimes you just think about something, and boom. Other times it happens when you don’t think about it. Once I was desperate for water, and I bent my whole mind to finding some, and I felt it stir in me and I heard raindrops. My entire room was raining and I stuck my tongue out and drank it straight out of the air. But I tried the exact same thing two days later and nothing happened.”

“Well, this one worked because I somehow understood the rocks,” Jayla said. “Don’t ask me how. Just like your rainstorm, it probably won’t work again two days from now. All I know is that I tried to understand them, and the power kept giving me clues, and after awhile it felt like I was talking to the rocks themselves — and I knew I could turn them off, fade them out. Without knowing how I knew it.”

Brenner grimaced. “I don’t like this.”

“Neither do I,” Jayla admitted.

“I do like your sky, though,” Brenner added. He smiled. “Thanks.”

She remembered watching him as he left that day. She’d pulled the moody, brooding Brenner out of his shell, briefly. She’d felt the incredible warmth of his hug and the strange tingling that swept through her stomach. She’d felt something else, a sense of partnership or friendship, as they watched the stars together from the dirt floor of the cavern. But then she’d felt a very different Brenner, a cold one, aloof and untrusting as he withdrew from the room.

Jayla reached out to the Well’s power, but not with much hope that she would ever truly understand him.

Author Bio ~

I’ve been writing as a hobby since, at the age of four, I penned an epic about my then-favourite sport, the charmingly mis-spelled “baceball.” I’m more of a basketball fan these days, but I have kept up my love for writing throughout.

I live in Toronto, Canada, or as we Torontonians like to call it, “the centre of the universe.” I’m just joking about that … mostly. I’m writing a novel at the moment in which the main character hates Toronto, so that’s been a bit of a challenge. At one point she describes it as a “frenetic smogscape.” To each her own, I suppose.

In my day job, I work as a labour and employment lawyer with Bernardi Human Resource Law (visit us at I practice labour and employment law, which I think is fascinating and covers everything from union certifications to human rights issues, employment contracts to severance packages, and court and tribunal work to harassment investigations.

Outside of work, while I’m less enamoured than I once was with “baceball,” I’ve replaced it with a hobby and passion that I find even more creative, exciting, and easy to spell: swing dancing.

You can find Brian at:

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You can buy GATEWAYS at:

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