Archive for the ‘excerpt’ Category



Fantasy 

Date Published: July 2016

Shazmpt has been prepared his whole life to complete the prophecy; however until recently, he was unaware of his true identity as a powerful war wizard.
Hidden on an island in a time realm not his own, he must now search for ancient relics in order to stop the growing evil in the world. All he wanted was to hunt in his beloved forest, but is thrown into a world of sea serpents, dungeons, enchanted castles, miniature men, and air buffs.
Driven by duty and hindered by self-doubt, he is sent on a quest to unite the magical realms once more. He must learn to harness his good and evil powers, but will he survive the shadow…?

 

 
A little about me, first I want to tell you a story, about a young girl who thought she was dumb. Yes, in the first, second, and third grades this little girl, was in the ‘Resource’ program or ‘Chapter 8’ as I have also heard it called. Even though she was then put in the regular class, she knew all too well by then she was not a smart child. All the way through high school this girl struggled. She graduated with a glorious 2.9. Yes, it was heart breaking for those little numbers to reflect the great struggle and all the efforts she had put forth.
She went on to start beauty school, figuring she wasn’t college material. Suddenly, she learned that she wasn’t dumb after all. She was what is called a kinesthetic learner or ‘hands on’ learner. She LOVED it. She went on to do very well, for many years. Until, life got complicated. She had five children, a husband, and a disabled mother who now required constant care. While contemplating how to earn a little bit of extra income, now that doing hair wasn’t an option, a thought came to her, ‘Write a book’ it said.
She replied by looking around and with her finger pointing at herself, she said, “Who me? I graduated high school with a 2.9 remember?”
The little thought came again, “Yes, you. Write a book.”
It so happened, that she had been telling her children nighttime stories for some time, so she did. It took five years to learn from the internet, a few writing classes, some great blogs, a lot of practice, one very good editor and the awesome support of her family. But she did it, and now I bring The Realms of Edenocht Series to you! Yes, that little girl was me, but no longer.

 

 

Contact Information

Website: www.dsjohnsonbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.johnson.12532

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/44211843-d-s-johnson

 

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01I0J0T62

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/realms-of-edenocht-ds-johnson/1124089808?ean=9781535107464


EXCERPT

Bright white flashes burst from their fingertips. A deafening crack snapped as hues of electric blue shot across the rotunda, breaking the once impeccable crystal stone like a twig. Half crouched and slightly leaned back, he stretched out his hand and slipped under the downward slash of a long blade already dripping. Once clear, he leapt into the air, flipping over concourses of the sky blue robes of the Commission intertwined with the red battle robes of the Velsharoon.

Gavin Rhill’s treacherous needs exempted him from feeling, his conscience was now void. Eyes bloodshot with fury, he sank into the depths of his insanity. The popping cracks of the fire and ice elements against each other reverberated across the slick floor, tousling him about and jarring him from his thoughts. Dust plumes erupted from pockets of crumbling walls. He gripped his shaking head as he pleaded to be released from his harrowing prison. But it was too late. He belonged to the Shadow now.

The hairs on the back of his neck stood out straight, plunging a rippling effect that crawled up and down his skin. An electrifying bolt of unyielding energy surged past his ear, missing only by centimeters. He flipped his long black hair from his flat gray eyes that sunk deep in the pallid hollow of his face. The pungent odor of singed hair and flesh stifled his nose, wreaking havoc on his focus. Anger and hate surged from his bosom.

Sweat dripped onto his sliver thin black eyebrows and down his face, landing at the corner of his mouth. He glowered through the madness and zeroed in on the door at the end of the mysterious hall. He searched for an acceptable route to his destination. Quickly he seized his opportunity and flung himself into the air. He rolled over an oncoming deluge of potent magic, a second before the heat burst his blood red cloak into flames.

As he fell toward the floor, he slipped his arms out of his battle robe and twisted away from the engulfing barrage. He rolled through the fall and jumped to his feet, shutting the roaring shrieks from his ears. All he could hear now was the pounding of his heart as he flipped over a spear that would have pierced it. He thrust his hands out and released his newly acquired powers. Rock fragments pierced through the air like speeding razors, striking several of the newly arrived armored men. Cursed with an unrelenting pain, it paralyzed them from the inside. He dug his toes into the floor. Boosted his feet with a blast of air and whizzed past so quickly, the soldiers spun in their boots.

“Gavin stop!” Castos yelled.

The leader of Queen Ambrosia’s United Forces stood erect.

“You can’t stop me.” Gavin said in a drawn out syrupy voice. The thought welled up inside his chest like a smoldering flame. He could taste it, smell it, and see his destiny. “I have destroyed your beautiful Srinna Vossa.” he said, hissing through a cynical smile.

A flash of anger darted from Castos as he slammed his long gold entwined staff on the ground.

“We will rebuild it you can’t stop goodness. How many people have to die?”

“You’re worse off than I thought.” Gavin said, throwing his head back and laughing a humorless vicious sound.

Castos crossed the staff in front of his broad carved expression. He then lifted his palm, facing up and conjured the elements he controlled.

“Time to put an end to this senseless bloodshed.” Castos said.

He lifted his staff up high and pulled the element of fire from the particles of the universe. With a sweeping motion, he purged the ravaged energy and sent it directly at Gavin. Gavin sucked in his belly, pulled in his arms and legs and transformed into an invisible shriek of air. He rushed over Castos and fed the inferno with life breathing oxygen. The air pulled the fire back toward Castos unleashing it onto its master. The fire didn’t care what it consumed. Only that it feasted on life’s sustenance. Absolute horror hit a split second before Castos was annihilated by his own power.

Gavin sailed through the air with exhilarated weightlessness. His thunderous laughter rattled the windows until they shattered, sending glass shards careening to the ground. Gavin Rhill soared down the long corridors, disarming enchantments along the paths. When he reached the door, he hovered momentarily, then unraveled through the misty tendrils of the air element. He transformed back into his human form, his skinny almost mal-nourished figure reemerged.

The towering solid wood door was intricately carved with ancient symbols and runes. His long, thin fingers manipulated the old puzzle that had taken him over a year to figure out. With the last knot pushed, the door opened with a gasp. A small puff of wind bathed his face with the odor of musky dust. An aroma he quite enjoyed. He heaved the heavy obstacle open and slipped inside. He waved his hand across the smooth orderly lines on the inside of the door. Several clicks and a few slides of unseen latches echoed against the hollow roundness of the room as it sealed shut.

Gavin’s eerie piercing eye darted around the room. His bones ached from its cold darkness. His shadow ran across the isles and his heart jumped, a lump formed in his throat. Relieved it was only his shadow, he searched the room. A large majestic desk sat at the far side of the circular room. Heavy weaved curtains framed tall windows. He found a slight beauty in the carved vaults. Every wall was covered top to bottom with shelves of scrolls. Books were so jammed pack that they overflowed.

“You must not fail.” the Shadow’s voice echoed in his mind. The horrifying image of the shadow sent shivers down his spine.

He picked up the first parchment on top of the desk, read the heading and tossed it on the floor. He picked up another, then another. His intrigue half stopped him. He would love to spend hours, or even better, days, picking apart the exploits of this ancient knowledge. What I could learn from all of these, he thought. But he knew he only had but a few moments until the Council would know where he was. He put his thoughts aside and hastily rummaged through the scrolls and parchments that sat barren and lonely.

“Where is it?” he snarled.

He ravaged the last few particles of writings as the persistent gnawing in his navel grew. With one fowl sweep of his arms, he sent the rest flying to the floor. He slammed his fits on the table, his knuckles pure white. A bead of sweat dripped from his drooped head and splashed onto the marble surface. He stared into the backs of his eye lids and tried to think of where, the Binding of the Crypt spell would be hidden.

Then it came to him. How could I have forgotten the search spell? He thought. He closed his eyes and focused. A dusting of rusty orange sparkles danced into existence and floated around the room. His heart skipped a beat as the magic was sucked into a book, then shoved back out. Over and over, the magic came up empty. His emotions couldn’t take any more. His fear of failure and what the Shadow would do to him threw him into a rage. His tantrum sent books, scrolls and reading implements flying around the room.

Loud booms and cracks echoed against the outer walls. Shrieks of agony crested the horizon. Gavin Rhill knew he was the cause of men and women’s deaths, but he didn’t care. The war outside was only a ruse to get into the protected room anyway. Though it did serve another purpose, if he could destroy the Dodjen, he would gain power over the Wyvern’s. Then he could release the underworld creatures the Shadow controlled. He knew the magic of the united efforts could stop the Shadow. If he could gain control of the bond already forged, he would be unstoppable.

*********************************************

“Queen Ambrosia, what do you want us to do?” Aarin asked.

“We wait until the Commission gets here.”

Queen Ambrosia’s soul was hollow as she gazed down from her sixty-level skyscraper. Her beloved Srinna Vossa was under attack and she knew her time was limited. The peaks of the circling spires that surrounded the main building barely passed her flat. The three moons reflected brilliant strings of haze and illuminated the night. Srinna Vossa was a group of islands that floated on the Teorran Belt, raw magic that sprung into the sky like a fountain.

“Our magic defenses are about to give way. If the Velsharoon get in, it will be all over.” Aarin said, his expression pained and wounded.

“They will have to hold. We can’t let them get into the city.”

“Do you not care? Your people will die, all of them. The Velsharoon have the comet at their disposal. Never in history has anything been able to break our defenses.”

Queen Ambrosia turned on her heel and shot him a penetrating glare. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying.

“Do not proceed to lecture me on caring for my people. I will lay down my life for them. I will take the scrolls of the most importance with me to my death. How dare you accuse me?”

Her small slender frame shook with fury, her knuckles clenched white at her sides. The pressures she held as Queen of the most powerful city on Edenocht nearly overcame her.

Aarin stood at attention. His face shadowed from a lack of sleep. “I’m sorr-”

“You are not permitted to speak.”

She threw her hand across her body in a downward strike. Her cheeks burned dark pink. Her long, pale blue robe blew slightly in the wind that came in from the open balcony. Queen Ambrosia paced the floor. Her soft slipper shoes kicked her gown into a rhythmic billowing pattern.

“How dare he.” she said barely audible, her breath almost steaming.

The tightness in Aarin’s chest seized his every whit and his knees weakened. The sweat crested his shoulder length brown hair. He feared he was about to be sent to his death for questioning her. A brisk wind flashed through the room. A flicker of light cast a shadow as a forest green wyvern landed on the balcony. The rider dismounted and tossed the reins over its neck. The wyvern pulled in her massive wings tightly to her side and pawed the smooth surface. The rider pulled off the black leather riding gloves and slipped them under his belt. His chain armor under his obsidian body armor clinked as he moved quickly toward the queen. His square and handsome face framed his deep green eyes. Tears escaped as she nearly ran into his arms.

“Jerim, what are we going to do?” she asked.

She buried her tear stained cheeks into the crease of his shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her tigh.

“I’m here now, the commission is dispatching troops, and the Rangers are here. I’ve stationed six battalions at each corner of the island and more on the smaller islands. Medrith and I will take you and Serin to safety.”

“No, I must stay here.” she said swallowing the lump still in her throat.

“But Ambrosia.” Jerim objected.

He pulled back from her and rested his warm hands on her bare shoulders. The cool of her skin felt good under the heat of his.

“No, you must take Serin to the Wyvern realm where she will be safe.” The queen wiped her eyes with a handkerchief. “You must promise me you will take care of her. Promise.” she demanded.

The depth of a mother’s love was nothing to be trifled with. Realization overcame his mind and his worst fear was now coming true. He was going to lose her forever. All he could do was nod.

“I will.” he whispered.

“Good, then I will send for the inner circle to secure the scrolls.” Queen Ambrosia said firmly. “Aarin, send for the mages.”

“Yes, your highness.” he said.

“Oh and Aarin,” The hairs on the back of his neck stood as the chills ran down his spine. “I’m sorry for losing my temper.”

Aarin nodded and then left the room quickly. She bit her lip to keep it from quivering and wrung her hands within each other.

“Your adviser? You gave him the ‘What For’?” Jerim asked with a smirk. She nodded, her glassy eyes wondered around the room uncomfortably. “Now tell me what happened?”

He moved to the long meeting table. He pulled out a soft velvet tall-back chair and motioned for her to sit. She sat down eloquently resting her intertwined fingers in her lap. She began to explain that the day had started out quiet and non-eventful. But by mid-morning the alarms had sounded. Gavin Rhill’s air ships had surrounded the horizon of their floating sanctuary. The Velsharoon began an attack on the magical barriers around the city.

“Wait, you said they arrived mid-morning, and the shield dropped fifty percent power by early afternoon? Why did you wait so long to notify me?” he asked.

Her eyes widened as the realization stabbed at her heart.

“I thought the mages could handle it.” she said embarrassed.

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

“Go on.” he said.

He sat back in his chair with his arms crossed. His brows scrunched together in the middle of his face in full thought as she recited the rest of the events.

“They haven’t broken through yet and now that you’re here everything will be fine.” Queen Ambrosia said and returned to the open arched doorway of the balcony.

The soft flowing pale blue drapes danced in the night breeze.

“I must tend to the ranks. I will return soon.”

Jerim scooted his chair out and placed it back under the table.

Ambrosia grabbed his hand.

“Be careful, you made a promise to me.” She said softly.

Her eyes locked onto his and held his gaze for a moment.

“I will my love.” he said.

He pulled his gloves out of his belt and slipped them on his hands. The wyvern lowered her body to the ground. He grabbed the reins as Ambrosia flicked her fingers sending a tuft of air to boost him up. He swung his leg over the great beasts back and gripped the reins. Wyverns, once they had melded to a rider, could understand their feelings, emotions and thoughts. The deep green colors of the Forest Wyvern glinted in the glows of the night. She stretched out her wings and shoved off with her thick hind legs. Soaring through the sky, they met the captain of the Air Wyverns on the southern edge of the island.

“How is the Queen?” Eliot asked.

“Holding up.” Jerim said. He searched the night sky. “Where we at?”

Jerim rested one hand over the other on the horn of his saddle. The chinking of metal straps and belts the wyverns wore, clashed against the night breeze.

“Sixty air ships with at least a thousand men each. The scouts have just returned and there are three more fleets making good time from the north. There are four more fleets coming from the south.” Eliot said, shifting his metal helmet.

“Let’s take this battle away from the city. Send your fleet south and Oscar’s north.” Jerim said.

“Sir, when are the Earth Wyverns coming?” Eliot asked.

“I’m not sure they are.”

“Why not?”

“Torn bridges I guess, now let’s go.” Jerim said.

Elliot swooped toward his command and waved. Hundreds of crystal white Wyvern’s leapt into the sky. The sheer size of these magnificent creatures was breathtaking. Even more so as their scales reflected and shimmered in the twinkling of the lights. Medrith leapt into the sky and swooped in the opposite direction. She flew over the islands lush green jungle. Homes and buildings lived in and under the protection of the jungle floor, along with the glorious white stone of the city walls. Evenly spaced spires stood around the edges of the island. Each one was several hundred feet tall and held a large crystal. These crystals harnessed the magic that held up the cities force fields.

“Take down these air ships.” Jerim said as he hovered over the leader of the dark blue Water Wyverns.

“Yes Sir.” Greston grunted.

A sea of blue took to the sky, dividing into groups and swarmed the airships. They pulled the elements of water and began flooding the ships. Plumes of steam filled the night sky as the Velsharoon blocked with counter spells, sending fire to evaporate the water. The water wyverns however were stronger and one by one the ships began to sink. There were so many however, that when one ship fell, another took its place. Jerim flew back toward the city center making his way to the Fire Wyverns. The deep red and charcoal black Wyverns waited near the city’s main port. Medrith’s sharp claws gripped the tree tops as she landed.

“What are your orders?” Ada asked.

Long copper red hair flowed off the back of her head. Her oval face delicately pointed was garnished with a dusting of ginger freckles on her high cheeks.

“Keep your forces here on Srinna Vossa.”

Ada nodded then shot into the sky. Her platoon had more experience in battle and riding, but found it hard to keep up with her ferocity. She had more to prove than just being able to lead her people. Gavin Rhill murdered her father trying to find the scroll and she was just plain pissed.

Medrith released the branches and the tree tops flicked back and forth. Before Jerim could make it more than a hundred yards, a deafening crack scorched the night sky, leaving a scar of brilliant birthstone light. Shattered crystals tumble to the ground, breaking the barrier into the city. A flood of red robed Velsharoon rushed the main port. Medrith stopped dead in her tracks, rolled her head, flipped upside down and barreled back toward the open gate. When Jerim reached the north side of the island, he saw Ada’s forces engaged with the oncoming attackers.

Shrieks of agony cried out as massive blasts of fire billowed from the guts of the fire wyverns. The sky lit up as though it were noonday as everything nearby melted and withered. Another deafening crack reverberated across the sky as another crystal shattered. Small bursts of icy white lighting strikes tangled with bursts of bright blood red, sprinkled the horizon. Jerim tried to deny the pulsing knot growing in his stomach. A small ball of flaming gas appeared to grow a little bigger.

“The comet of Sariandi, the Goddess of Destruction,” Medrith said.

“I guess it’s true then.”

“The Commission is here on the east shores.” Medrith said.

Medrith stretched out her long neck. Jerim laid closely to her as she beat her wings toward the east shore. When they reached the shore they descended like a falling stone. Medrith pulled up at the last second and set down without even a thud. Jerim dismounted and ran through the sand and waited as the enormous air ships slipped up onto the fading sand. Half lowered planks plunged into the soft moist grit upon reaching the shore. Trendell, the leader of the armed forces from Akraven scaled the long plank.

“Jerim, what are the damages?”

“We have lost two of the towers.” Jerim said. He gripped the short stalky brute of a man tightly at the forearm. “We need to evacuate the city and secure the inner buildings.”

The clanking and banging of swords, spears and armor overpowered the distant sounds of agony. Hordes of men in rows of fours rushed from the ship’s cargo bays. The shores filled with men standing at attention awaiting orders.

“Yes Sir.” Trendell said.

He banged his hand against his chest. Turned, leading with his head, and briskly reached the front line. The Commission was divided into ranks of archers, spear and swords men and elemental mages. Trendell shouted out the orders. With an enormous shout, the Commission broke up, each group making their way to their destinations.

“Jerim, we saw a battle already in action. Why are we just now evacuating the city? Shouldn’t we have done that sooner?”

“I know you’re a by-the-book kind of guy, but this one is nothing the books have ever talked about.”

“What do you mean by that?” Trendell asked.

“The Sariandi Comet is upon us.”

Trendell’s head lowered.

“Well then we fight to the death.”

“With honor, brother.” Jerim said proudly.

“With honor.” Trendell repeated as he gripped Jerim’s forearm.

Trendell joined his men in the barrage of oncoming Velsharoon. Ada moved to the sky as the Commission took over the land battle. She turned her attention to the oncoming airships and joined her second battalion. A group of Velsharoon yelped as large vines wrapped around their bodies and swallowed them into the ground. Jerim had commanded the foliage around the inner buildings to devour the Velsharoon. The suns first rays broke through dancing on the heavy smoke that filled the sky. Bursts of flames erupted here and there around the island as rain and wind storms chased fiery lighting strikes.

Sections of brilliant white stone walls on the outer perimeter now sat in rubble. Storms of arrows went buzzing and fizzing through the sky. Metal boots slogged through the slippery sludge of fallen comrades. Swords swooshed and clanked as they met other swords. The further the comet came the stronger the Velsharoon became, making it harder for the Commission. Chaos and confusion surged through the city. A sea of red cloaks engulfed every road and alleyway, throwing magic and swinging swords at everything that moved. The white stone was now stained red and smeared with black shadows of what used to be men.

“Fall back and send a squad to the city center. Set up blockades.” Trendell called.

Through the clouds that hung over the island, Trendell saw the comet barreling toward them with a shield of fiery damnation. His heart sank into his stomach and a tightening in his chest nearly took the breath from him. He swooped his sword upward and blocked a dart of lightening aimed directly at his chest.

*****************************************

“There’s more than one person that can use the power of the comet.” Queen Ambrosia said through gritted teeth.

Her eyes drooped heavily, sagging under the pressure of no sleep.

“What are you going to do?” Aarin asked.

“Sink the island and destroy Srinna Vossa.”

She walked sternly toward her deep oak desk. Aarin’s stomach lurched inside him as the words hit his mind.

“How? Why?!”

“With this,” she pulled out a long parchment that was rolled tightly. “the Incantation of Undin,” she said, fingering the edge.

“And how will sinking the island stop Gavin Rhill?”

“I will take every last person with it, so that he will never be able to find the Binding of the Crypt spell.” she said dropping one end.

“You’re going to kill all of your people?”

“Would you rather be tortured by Gavin Rhill and the Shadow?”

“No, I guess not.”

“Then make your peace now because as soon as the comet is at the highest point in the sky everything will be over.”

Her stomach lurched too as she felt the despair of not being able to raise her child and see her grow into a woman. To never be with Jerim again and her wonderful council and all of her loved ones, it was almost too much for her to bear.

“What shall I tell the armies?” he asked.

“That its time, and send Jerim.”

Aarin bowed. His once childlike eyes glazed over. Queen Ambrosia studied the scroll once more. She sat it on the desk and walked to the edge of the balcony. One hand on the cold stone, the other gripped her blue sapphire stone necklace. She wore a gold and teal blue robe and her delicately woven crown. The anguished cries of her people now sat on numb ears. A small pink hand gripped the lower half of her robes. With the innocence of young age a small girl, gazed up.

“Mommy, what’s happening?” Serin asked.

“Oh, my dear little one.” The Queen picked up her baby girl. She buried her little girl’s teary face into her shoulder. “Shhh shhhh shhh,” Queen Ambrosia whispered.

Jerim walked briskly up behind her, his clashing and clanking hidden under booms and crashes from the distance.

“Ambrosia, My Queen, you sent for me?”

His heart skipped a beat and he swallowed hard shoving the bile back into his stomach when he saw the little princess in her arms.

“It’s time.” she whispered.

She could hardly see his bruised face through the heavy shield of her own tears.

“Is there another way?” he asked.

“There is no other way.”

“Alright.” he said.

He slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her into his embrace. Her long blonde hair tickled his skin. His hand rested on the side of her face. He leaned in, slowly and thoughtfully, he kissed her. She returned his kiss. Just like the one and only time they had been together.

“I love you. I always have.” Jerim said.

“I love you too, I have to tell you something.” She looked at Serin, then back to Jerim, “Serin is yours, not Mikal’s.” Jerim pulled back and smiled his intoxicating smile. “You’re not mad?” she asked, “I’m sorry I never told you.”

“Nor should you have.”

“Mommy, I’m scared.” The tiny voice came as she played nervously with her mother’s hair.

Queen Ambrosia studied her daughter’s face one last time and said to her gently, “You go with your father.”

“Where?”

“Into the sky with the flyers, ok?” she gave her the last kiss she would ever give her.

“But when will I see you again?”

The queen gave Serin to Jerim and he wrapped her in her blanket.

“Go… take her to the wyverns and get her out of here.”

He bowed and leaped off the stone carved terrace onto Medrith’s back. The Queen sent a furling burst of air under the wyvern throwing them into the sky above. Medrith pulled in her wings and shot through the sky like an arrow. To fight a war was one thing but to give up one’s own flesh and blood is another. When the queen could no longer see them, she threw up her arms. Using the islands powers that came from the center of the Teorran Belt, she shouted at the top of her lungs the incantation, drawing the power of the comet into her being.

*****************************************

Gavin’s calculated plan turned to a frenzy of rash thoughts and feelings. Everywhere he searched he couldn’t find the scroll. Even with his search spell, it had continued to elude him. He pulled and shoved every book and piece of parchment out of his way. He hurled a massive spell around the room. Glittering strands of text danced and swayed around him and one by one disappeared. The words he longed for were not found. The only words present were those left by the Grand cleric.

Gavin Rhill,

You will never have this scroll as I have destroyed it once and for all.

If you continue your quest you will be met with certain death. FOREVER!

Did you think that you were the only one that could use the comets power?

Grand Cleric Massue

Gavin was shocked out of his delirium with the sudden shift and sensation of falling. He ran to the window, the clouds of dust and smoke began to rise. He slammed his fists on the stone wall.

“She’s… sinking… the… city,” he yelled.

He threw out his arms and sucked himself into the air. The sudden force blew out all of the light in the room as he vanished. Gavin whipped a wind storm that careened through the city, wiping out everything in its path. Debris floated upward as the ground fell out from under it. The comet’s power helped Queen Ambrosia stand perfectly still while chanting. Even as the island fell, she was as firm as she had at first. The last words she uttered were that only a blood heir could enter the secrets of the forgotten city.

The Teorran fountain fell into the center of the ground below, allowing the islands to plummet into a new existence. Enormous rock walls encompassed the fallen earth covering everything under hundreds of feet of ground. It left only a few of the spires that were still intact standing, as a reminder of what the glorious city once was.

Psychological Thriller

Date Published: October 28, 2016

Publisher: Harvard Square Editions

Grey and his co-workers find themselves in dangerous situations every day at work. Their social services jobs require them to confront irate parents who are on drugs or who are mentally unbalanced. Grey is a long-time social worker, one who is not afraid to snatch newborn babies from glazed-eyed mothers or grab abused children out of classrooms, to place them in foster care. But something happens to Grey, something he cannot put into words as he struggles to cope.

When a new co-worker enters the department, she secretly strategizes ways to force Grey out of his job. He senses her ploy and his stress intensifies. He grows increasingly head-strong and defiant, but he fails to stop her from delivering the final crush in an unexpected, malevolent manner.

To challenge his co-worker, Grey must find his inner truth and his co-worker’s “Achilles Heel” in order to rise up to conquer her.   One of them must be transformed or destroyed.

Shelby Londyn-Heath has been a world-traveler, crossing the Sahara Desert on the back of a salt truck, working on banana plantations in Spain, an oil company in New York, and on coffee farms in Hawaii. She has jumped freight trains across the United States, and she was the proud owner of a beachfront bamboo hut on the Canary Islands. She has worked as a counselor, social worker, and teacher.


 Contact Information

Website: http://www.shelbylondynheath.wordpess.com 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/people/Shelby-Londyn-Heath/100009661997468

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shelbyfiction

Blog: http://www.shelbylondynheath.wordpress.com/blog

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30657831-the-twilight-tsunami

Purchase Links

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J3VLVCW

EXCERPT:


       CHAPTER ONE:       

The Hospital

GREY STOOD QUIETLY next to the hospital bed. “Mrs. Jaspers, your baby has tested positive for cocaine.” Grey knew from experience that talking in a low voice helped hold back the negative emotions of a child’s removal, before anger and defiance from parents swept around him like a dangerous tempest. Mrs. Jaspers, a nineteen-year-old woman recently out of high school, glared at Grey. Her eyes grew larger in her upturned face, framed by tangled, matted purple hair. She wore an apologetic nose ring that swept to one side of her flared nostril and vibrated with each panicked inhalation she drew in.

“I repeat, Mrs. Jaspers, your baby has tested positive. I am from the Department of Social Services. I am here to take your baby to a safe environment.”

Mrs. Jaspers bolted upright in her bed. She grabbed onto Grey with a gritty desperation to stop him from removing her baby. “My baby ain’t on cocaine. How dare you say my baby is on drugs? I didn’t give no drugs to my baby. You cannot take my baby girl. We are waiting for her daddy to come see her. We are going to name her today. I need my baby to stay with me, because like I just told you, we’re waiting for her daddy to come see her.”

The daddy, a twenty-one-year-old unemployed construction worker who married her when she tested positive for pregnancy, prowled the streets looking for cocaine after a three-day drinking binge.  Grey unclasped the mother’s hands and moved towards the door.

Mrs. Jaspers jumped up, pulling out her intravenous tube, causing blood to spurt out of her arm. She howled loudly. Grey called in a police officer who waited tentatively in the corridor. The police officer’s presence did not deter the fiery mother from running around her hospital room in frantic leaps. The sickening odor of fresh blood permeated the room. Her hospital gown flew open, displaying the naked form of a young woman new to adulthood. Her tattoos, splayed across her torso, looked like colorful orbs of paint, embroidered flesh.

Literary / Satire

Date Published: October 2016

Publisher: JAM Publishing

Ruth Askew, a minor celebrity, is spouting some highly incompetent philosophy about the end of virtue. Con Manos, a journalist, is attempting to uncover a political scandal or two. Add some undistinguished members of City Council, an easy listening radio station, a disorganized charity, a prestigious Philadelphia newspaper, and any number of lawyers and other professional criminals. In Worthy Of This Great City the compelling stories of two stubborn individualists intertwine in a brisk, scathing satire that invites you to question everything you think you think about today’s most discussed issues: populism and elitism, the possibility of truth, the reach of profound stupidity, and the limits of personal responsibility in these post-truth, morally uncertain times. 

Author Bio

If you know my website and Twitter addresses (asmikemiller.com and asmikemiller, respectively), you must realize Mike Miller is only an author name. It’s not a matter of privacy or secrecy; anybody can find me with minimal effort. It’s about keeping things separate. My writing is about what appears on the page. It’s not about my personal politics or religion or history.
Worthy Of This Great City is a B-game book. I’m ambiguous about this, being interested in money like most people, but I don’t want to compete with a slick professional cover or smooth editing so I’ve stuck to a sort of reasonable, human middle ground. I value those things for what they are, of course, but I see them as artifacts, part of a system of publishing that fought like hell for a week’s worth of shelf space, that fought to catch the eye, not the mind or heart.
As my character Con Manos says: “It’s a revolution, isn’t it?” I say: Why fight on the side of the enemy? Why imitate and thus perpetuate a business model that stifles originality? Just to show you can? Unless, of course, you’re fighting to attract the eye, not the mind or heart.
I’ve played a joke with this novel – my first, incidentally. Played with the idea of narration and who can be speaking after all. It’s all very literary.

 

Contact Information

Website: asmikemiller.com

Twitter: @asmikemiller

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16051629.Mike_Miller

 

Purchase Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/WORTHY-THIS-GREAT-CITY-Miller-ebook/dp/B01M9BV645/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484346529&sr=1-1&keywords=worthy+of+this+great+city

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Earlier that day, I lay in the shade with only my bare toes exposed to the vicious sun, part of a modest audience similarly disposed beneath the modest fringe of trees surrounding the field. Light fell down through the foliage, thick victorious beams that described powerful angles in their descent inside the usual breathtaking green cathedral. Around me the grass was withered and compressed into a flattened mat over ground still saturated from the previous night’s thunderstorms; everything smelled of baking wet earth, sunscreen, and greasy event food. I don’t remember any intrusive insects or even visible birds except for a couple of extremely distant hawks, dull specks in the otherwise empty sky.

Another respectable scattering of spectators occupied the baking field, most sprawled directly in front of the small Camp Stage, true fans eagerly upright despite the merciless heat. So just as expected, one of those perfectly innocent afternoons you buy with the ticket, monotonous while deeply nourishing, readily absorbed through the whole skin like childhood summers.

didn’t know about the witches yet, but they were out in force. Yeah, it’s a silly description but I don’t know how else to capture the awful effect of those damn women. So they were witches who’d been summoned by a highly demanding assembly of affluent suburbanites, people accustomed to commanding natural forces. And while arguably these were all benevolent females who only meant well, with witches you never know how it’s going to turn out.

Every August for more than a decade I’ve headed out to Schwenksville for this dependable throwback party. And not precisely to enjoy the music, because although it commands my absolute respect I find it too intense for everyday entertainment. It’s a kind of church music, an unashamed church of humanity: pure sound, plaintive and honest, twanging and rambunctious, dulcimer gentle. Fitting, then, for this late-summer pagan rite in honor of righteousness, and I immerse myself in it to perform a spiritual cleansing of sorts, processing across the fields from one rustic venue to another, affirming a succession of bluegrass pickers and ballad wailers and theatrical tellers of old tales. And it’s a mildly uncomfortable ritual in another sense, but that’s because of the mostly undamaged people, the one’s who wholeheartedly enjoy everything and applaud too often.

As with anything religious, there are incredibly subversive undercurrents longing to manifest, easy to exploit by those portending witches. Two of them performed that day, one with such tragic skill and clarity it unintentionally aroused huge amounts of self-loathing and subsequently resentment, at least in me. The second inspired a joy vigorous enough to move the plot. And the third exerted an indirect but equally damning influence courtesy of her own celebrity, her mere idea inciting a shaming nostalgia. In fact it was dangerously stupid to speak her name aloud. All three arrived wearing absolute certainty.

This current festival setting, the Old Pool Farm, is perfectly suited to the occasion. There are wide fields to accommodate the generous crowds, a nicely crisp and sparkly creek, and the requisite gates and groves, all at a situation remote enough to evoke a wholly separate culture despite easy proximity to the city. Although that’s not difficult, because even today you only have to poke your nose outside the nearer suburbs to spot a rusty silo on some decrepit farm with another of those filthy black-and-white, diarrhea-spewing dairy cows leaning against a sagging wire fence, its pelvis practically poking through its muddy hide. Peeling paint and hay bales directly across the road from another mushrooming pretentious development, a slum of dull, identical cheapjack townhouses. So despite the fervent country claptrap the festival is essentially a metropolitan scene, drawing a sophisticated crowd, and therefore in one sense condescending, an insult.

Murmurs of anticipation brought me up on my elbows to discover Hannah Lynch already onstage, a typically modest entrance. I sat up and paid attention, catching sight of her inside an amiable circle of probable musicians, a glimpse of her face and one thin shoulder between competent-looking backs in cowboy or cotton work shirts, all of them endlessly conversing there in surprisingly gentle voices.

Until finally they broke apart and here she came gliding towards the front of the tiny platform, moving within a reputation so illustrious it made her physical presence unlikely and you had to struggle for it. A tiny bird of a woman, an elderly, fragile sparrow with fine gray hair and hazel eyes and translucent skin, nodding to us and smiling nicely with small unremarkable teeth while seating herself on a wooden folding chair. She was dressed like good people, like a decent Christian farmwife in a faded print skirt and cotton blouse of mixed pastels, pink and beige and blue. Only with dangling silver jewelry to be noticed, since after all she was a major star.

With this one unshakable article of faith: that her famously quavering soprano was entirely unrelated to her own ordinary self, more of an imposition or a trust, an undeserved gift from God that in no way merited personal praise. So she has stated. And accordingly she exuded genuine empathy with all of us waiting out there for her, straining forward to better capture the spirit and stamina investing each word. A curve of laughter lit her face, and there was grief there too, but nothing to diminish that serene spirit.

Beside me Crystal, blatantly artificial trendoid in that audience of cosmopolitan pseudo-naturals, for once had the good sense to keep her mouth shut. Crystal, please note, was present only because she suspected this event mattered to me and meant to chain herself to it in my memory. She was an unashamed criminal, and really sweet, and I admired her.

Lynch sat there looking at us and hugging her guitar, once giving it a surreptitious pat like a favorite pet before launching into one of those unexpectedly piercing old songs, a rather shocking rush of raw bitterness and despair – nothing silvered there – railing rather than mourning yet cleanly tragic because without any confusion of entitlement or excuse, in fact totally untainted by melodrama, an expression of rightful fury to upend your sensibilities and make you cringe inside your pampered, complacent soul.

And onward, commanding that summer hour with a repertoire of futile longing, black misery, true love, unalloyed injustice, and journeying away as only the truly dispossessed can journey. How inadequate we were by comparison, what undeserved good fortune to be sitting there vicariously sharing the infinite human endurance of those former generations, thus beatified now. Sharing a deep pride in our good taste and our faultless fundamental values.

And that’s how this festival always goes for me: a fusion of rapture and fleeting realization, of purging and rebirth I suppose. We avid celebrants being served by true vicars, unassuming conduits of grace because essentially craftspeople evincing the unquestioning self-respect of their kind, therefore automatically accepting us as equals and worthy of their respect, refusing to cater. That’s how Lynch and her ilk deliver their deadly blows, how they incite our reckless, self-destructive impulses.

Because the problem is, nothing is enough and never can be, not in any case. And in addition to that, this particular event carries an impossible burden of triumphant civil rights baggage. A weight of expectation, purest gold and just as heavy, presses down on those fields like an approaching storm, flattening the trees, placing an unbearable strain on our moral muscles, making even the most authentic and engaged participant stagger for reasons most often never identified.

You see there’s no battle here anymore, a situation as frustrating as it is pathetic. I mean, what’s so pitiable as striving mightily to wage a war already won, or achieve a moral victory already popularly embraced? Like you’re on some lone and dangerous crusade instead of enjoying a mere reenactment, an amusement park ride. As if any real social hazard or physical extremity ever threatened most of these initiates. As if they could face the real front line today. Come to that, what in the world ever sprang from this placid piece of Pennsylvania countryside anyway, or even its nearby metropolis, so far from the bloody front lines of decades past? What justifies this hallowed ambience? Everyone knows the real struggle was over in another state, in the deep South or New York or California, all that televised passion and pain. Yet here’s a similar legacy, an undeserved renown.

Seriously, you have to consider this heritage of the sixties, that era of righteousness and innocence and victory, you have to ponder the connection to the contemporary lives and events I’m describing here. Resurrect that intoxicating scent of possibility. Realize how strong it is, what it can do. Watch any old news film and it’s literally like viewing creatures from another planet, those young people are so alien, their gestures and expressions so certain and strident, an entire new world in their angry, accusatory eyes. What can any of that mean in this age of spent possibility?

So today the Folk Fest is largely a masturbatory farce of self-congratulation, courtesy of this pushy, upscale audience basking in its accustomed sunshine, displaying that forceful amiability that means money, smiling too brightly over bare freckled shoulders. Uniformly pale people displaying their ease on this bucolic faux battlefield, all aggressively self-aware. And meanwhile a barely perceptible, slightly demented energy flutters along at grass level, an intrepid narcissism bent on having a significant experience and more than a little desperate to measure up to itself.

I’m as progressive as anyone, I secretly gloat over my superiority, so for me all this underlying energy eventually manifests as low-grade irritation, and the fact that bad temper is implicitly verboten at this event only makes it that much worse. And then here comes Lynch to further emphasize everyone’s obvious unworthiness and what can you do but silently seethe with frustrated moral ambition. This is the one Folk Fest constant I always dismiss until it’s too late and I’m climbing aboard one of the yellow school buses that shuttle people in from the parking fields, listening to all the boisterous but balanced chatter. Probably a deliberate amnesia, because as I say, for me it’s a religious event.

So by later that Saturday afternoon I was largely disgusted with myself and as you can imagine, wonderful company. Once again stretched out on my back but this time my whole body obstinately exposed to the brutal heat, and while I had a bucket hat shielding my face I’d raised my knees to better facilitate the burn penetrating my jeans. I reached my left hand out past the edge of Crystal’s spongy blue blanket, feeling for the heart of the earth deep underneath the dispirited vegetation, Edna Millay style.

There we greeted the second witch, and for an interlude of spontaneous revelry the whole phony carnival dissolved, wiping away our precious fictions to reveal the one face behind the infinitely varied masks. Rather commonplace moments to underline the supertext, a brief but blessed release from introspective angst, an intoxicated dance that anyway began wholeheartedly but inevitably dwindled into posturing before ultimately discarding us back into isolated, shattered pieces of humanity scattered over a sunlit field.

We were in front of the main stage, the Martin Guitar Stage, a venue that backs into some tame leftover woods. The smaller Tank Stage was to my right, with behind it a private area for performers, and to my left the equally small Craft Stage. Further left was all the familiar festival retail, folkie variety, striped tents selling hippie throwback goods like handcrafted ceramics, carved wooden bowls, tie-dye skirts, hand-strung glass beads, and bad art. In between the main and Craft Stages a tiny dirt path paralleled a shallow creek of sparkling mica and soft mud; both disappeared into the dim coolness of the Dulcimer Grove, a rather precious habitat of jugglers and magicians and others of that Renaissance Faire ilk, a determinedly magical place more or less reserved to scantily clad or frankly naked children, their cheeks painted with stars and moons in indigo and crimson. Either they’re truly mesmerized by these archaic amusements or they’re convinced they should be by the adults and the daycare atmosphere, because they all sit there expending fierce concentration on colored sand and sparkly fairy dust, their little pink tongues extended in effort. I mean, all the world is fake, even the kids. Around them circles a protective hillside of slender trees roped together by string hammocks in bright primary colors, a haphazard effect of beggars’ rags pegged out to dry.

If you follow that same path straight on you come out on field with more dry grass, more distant trees, and another vacant horizon. On the right is the Camp Stage, site of Lynch’s morning concert; on the left an unremarkable gate gives onto the campers’ settlement, one of those ephemeral constructions of funky tent-and-RV fantasies, castles and pyramids and suburban estates complete with lawn furniture and barbeques and anything else you need for rustic comfort. The affable professional performers come here after the regular shows to sit and drink and play their music well into the summer nights, just for these special stalwarts. Notice how everyone’s personal effects are carefully positioned to define private family spaces but without absolutely excluding the requisite hobnobbing community, because that would repudiate the spirit of the thing.

And anywhere you care to look there are all these exceptionally pleasant people, a seasonal confluence of the enlightened: middle-aged, nattily-bearded men with thick hairy ankles showing beneath those long gauzy skirts; visibly well-educated younger couples falling all over each other in reassuring mutual recognition; friendly teens aglow with their own laudable social spirit or familiarity with meaningful music or both; and grimy toddlers in T-shirts and shimmering plastic haloes with their baby curls shining and their fingers to their mouths and their tiny feet covered with dirt. Skimpy tank tops and glittery backpacks, idiosyncratic witches cones and sombreros and straw cowboy hats covered in button collections, pale muscled calves and freckled backs red with sun and damp with perspiration.

All these regulation types navigate cordially across the fields, buying and eating and exercising their approval, until later in the afternoon when the heat is truly intolerable and it’s a matter of claiming a place for the folding chairs and coolers and settling in for the afternoon concert. When for a couple of hours all these enervated devotees create for themselves an enormous patchwork quilt of blankets and tarps, an American prayer rug rolled out beneath the glare.

I among them, hiding under my hat, squinting up from under the brim, intending not so much to watch the performances as to absorb them from a neutral distance. Meanwhile I was relishing the sense of Crystal beside me, resentful at having to endure all this legitimate music.

When here came a second celebrated woman into this extraordinary and disorganized day, an ineffably cosmopolitan presence in a white silk shirt that billowed out over notably slim hips and tight black jeans tucked into cowboy boots. The costume only emphasized the unmistakable sophistication in the sharp angle of her jaw and the sleek black bob swinging at her shoulder. That taut body edged itself onto the stage and into our attention, anticipation suffusing her narrow face, her whole person radiating the intrinsically cool self-content of a magician about to pull off the big illusion and astonish us all.

Lifting fiddle and bow, lowering them to call a comment offstage, bringing them back up to her pointed chin experimentally while a guitarist, drummer, and another violinist fooled with getting into position, and around me an expectant rustle shook off the afternoon lethargy, and once again I sat up and wiped the sweat and sunscreen from my forehead.

She leaned forward a fraction to acknowledge us.

“Hello all you very special people.” Now decisively raising her instrument. “Three jigs.”