Schisms
The Scribe Cycle #2
by James Wolanyk
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Pub Date: 7/10/2018

Three long years have passed since Anna, First of Tomas, survived the purge
in Malijad after being forced to use her scribe sigils to create an
army of immortals. Safely ensconced in the shelter of the Nest, a
sanctuary woven by one of her young allies, Anna spends her days
tutoring the gifted yet traumatized scribe, Ramyi—and coming to
terms with her growing attachment to an expatriate soldier in her
company.
Away from her refuge, war drums continue to beat. Thwarted in her efforts
to locate the elusive tracker and bring him to justice, Anna turns to
the state of Nahora and its network of spies for help. But Nahoran
assistance comes with a price: Anna must agree to weaponize her magic
for the all-out military confrontation to come.
Dispatched to the front lines with Ramyi in tow, Anna will find her new
alliances put to the test, her old tormentors lying in wait, and the
fate of a city placed in her hands. To protect the innocent, she must
be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. For even in this season of
retribution, the gift of healing may be the most powerful weapon of
all.
Scribes
The Scribe Cycle #1
Pawns in an endless war, scribes are feared and worshipped, valued and
exploited, prized and hunted. But there is only one whose powers can
determine the fate of the world . . .
Born into the ruins of Rzolka’s brutal civil unrest, Anna has never
known peace. Here, in her remote village—a wasteland smoldering in
the shadows of outlying foreign armies—being imbued with the magic
of the scribes has made her future all the more uncertain.
Through intricate carvings of the flesh, scribes can grant temporary
invulnerability against enemies to those seeking protection. In an
embattled world where child scribes are sold and traded to corrupt
leaders, Anna is invaluable. Her scars never fade. The immunity she
grants lasts forever.
Taken to a desert metropolis, Anna is promised a life of reverence, wealth,
and fame—in exchange for her gifts. She believes she is helping to
restore her homeland, creating gods and kings for an immortal
army—until she witnesses the hordes slaughtering without reproach,
sacking cities, and threatening everything she holds dear. Now, with
the help of an enigmatic assassin, Anna must reclaim the power of her
scars—before she becomes the unwitting architect of an apocalyptic war.

EXCERPT

The lodge’s main hall was quiet and hazy with a pall of pipe smoke. Most of those lying on the earthen floor were Hazani, their tunics and wraps hanging from the rafters to dry the day’s sweat. A pair of Huuri, gleaming translucently in candlelight, lay huddled together near the door with their packs clutched to their chests. But the stillness was deeper than an absence of guests; the lodge’s ornate silk carpets and silver kettle sets were gone, likely converted to a few stalks or iron bars by a crafty peddler.

Déjà vu crept over Anna, thick and threatening.

Yatrin and Baqir headed for the latrine dugout behind a partition, while Khara slumped down beside the door. The woman fished a cylinder of aspen and a blade from her pack, whittling with rhythmic scrapes, eyeing Ramyi as she wandered aimlessly between cushions and hookahs. When Anna was certain of everybody’s routines, she jogged up the spiral stairwell in darkness.

The muffled cries of babes leaked through locked doors on the second and third levels, but the fourth was silent. Anna wondered if that was conspicuous, or if it might lure unwanted attention from those who searched for that kind of thing, but she trusted in Tensic’s judgment: Many of the veterans in Anna’s company, living or dead, had arranged things through him. Sharp minds and tight lips were rare things in the north.

Anna crossed the corridor and its patches of moonlight, halting at the sixth door. She gave a soft tap with her knuckles and waited.

Silence.

She recalled her infiltrator’s instructions, the exact exchange of one knock for one cough. If she hadn’t been so headstrong, she might’ve fetched Yatrin. But she was. With heartbeats trickling through her core, Anna reached into the folds of her shawl, unlatched a shortened ruj from the clasp on a ceramic-plated vest, and cradled it against her hip. It was the length of her forearm, strangely cumbersome despite her having trained with it nearly as long as it had existed as a prototype among Hazani cartels. Two stubby barrels housed in a cedar frame, a fully-wound cog on its side, payload sacs of iron shavings waiting beside spring plungers. Most of her fighters had taken to calling it by northern

name: yuzel, thorn. Crude, inaccurate, unpredictable—but that had become the nature of this war.

Anna pressed her back to the wall and took hold of the door handle.

Cycles of training coalesced in her stilled lungs, in the hare-twitch muscles of her wrists, inviting peace in the face of unease. Clarity gave form to violence, after all. In a single breath she shoved the door inward, dropped to one knee, swept her yuzel’s dual barrels across the room.

The mirrorman’s body was sprawled out in a wash of candlelight and ceramic fragments, flesh glimmering with slick red. Stale air and sweat wafted out to meet her.

Shes’tir.” Her curse was a whisper, a surge of hot blood.

Anna stood, keeping the yuzel aimed at the shadows around the corpse. Piece by piece, the room revealed the scope of their work, starting with blood-spattered mud-and-straw walls. A dented copper kettle, an overturned table, a tapestry shredded by errant blade slashes. Then she saw it, gleaming

like a spiderweb or silk strand: a trip wire was suspended across the doorway, just above ankle-level, set with enough precision to rival some of Malijad’s best killers.

But subtlety had never been the way of southerners.

After edging to the left and right, examining the chamber’s hidden corners for assailants she suspected were long gone, Anna stepped over the trip wire and approached the body carefully.

His face was distorted, bulging out and cracked inward with oozing welts, both eyes swollen shut. A garrote’s deep purple traces ringed his neck. With some difficulty, Anna discerned that he’d also been a southerner, not a local conscript or hired hand from Hazan; he’d had naturally pale skin, now darkened by years beneath a withering sun. A mercenary. But his role—passing information through a mirror’s glints—had made him their best chance for information on the tracker’s whereabouts.

Their only chance, after three years of frayed leads and compromised operations.

Anna bent down and turned the man’s head from side to side, noting its coldness, its turgid and leathery texture as a result of beatings. His lips were dark, and—

Ink.

A dark, narrow stripe of ink ended at the crest of his lower lip, originating somewhere far deeper in his mouth. The application had been hasty, forceful even. Using her middle finger, Anna peeled the mirrorman’s lip forward. A triangular pattern had been needled into the soft tissue, still inflamed

with networks of red capillaries but recognizable all the same: It was an old Nahoran system, more a product of surveyors than soldiers, aiming to meld coordinates with time.

Here, now, her only chance.

Anna reattached her yuzel to its hook, slipped her pack off, fished out a brass scroll tube and charcoal stick. With a moment of silence to listen, to observe the empty doorway and the night market’s routine din, she copied the symbol onto the blank scroll. She then furled the parchment

and slipped it back into its tube.

Its weight was eerie in her pack, crushing with importance she understood both intensely yet not at all.

She hurried out of the chamber and toward the stairwell, but before she’d cleared the corridor she glanced outside, where she noticed a dark yellow cloth waving atop a post near the paddock. It hadn’t been there when they arrived. Her breath seized in the back of her mouth and—

A door squealed on its hinges.

Anna pivoted around, yuzel unclasped and drawn in both hands, eyes focused to the slender ruj barrel emerging from the seventh doorway. A dark hand followed, swathed in leather strips far too thick for northern fighters. She slid to the left and squeezed the trigger.

It was a hollow whisper in the corridor, perhaps a handful of sand pelting mud, a rattle down her wrists. Iron shavings collided as the magnetic coils accelerated them, sparking in brilliant whites and blues and oranges. The wall behind the shooter exploded in a burst of dust and dried grass, sending

metal shards ricocheting and skittering across the floor. A scream ceased in a single gust, as bone and cloth and flesh scattered just as quickly.

The shooter staggered forward in the haze, howling as he stared at the stump of his wrist.

Anna fired again.

When the dark cloud vanished, the shooter’s upper half was strewn down the corridor and dripping from the ceiling.

She spun away, sensing the tremors in her hands and the hard knot in her throat, and started down the stairwell. Three years of violence hadn’t made killing any more pleasurable, nor even easier, but decidedly more common. In fact, time had only made her more aware of how warriors were shaped: The nausea and terror remained, but everything was so perfunctory, done as habitually as breathing or chewing. Not that she had the luxury of being revolted by that fact. As she descended she  unscrewed the weapon’s empty shaving pouches and replaced them with fresh bulbs.


James Wolanyk is the author of the Scribe Cycle and a teacher from
Boston. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of
Massachusetts, where his writing has appeared in its quarterly
publication and The Electric Pulp. After studying fiction, he pursued
educational work in the Czech Republic, Taiwan, and Latvia. Outside
of writing, he enjoys history, philosophy, and boxing. His
post-apocalyptic novel, Grid, was released in 2015. He currently
resides in Riga, Latvia as an English teacher.
Follow the tour HERE
for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!
Advertisements

The Former Assassin

by Nikki Stern

on Tour August 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

Susan Foster wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead.

After decades as Victor Kemp’s off-the books killer, Suzanne finally quits. Not until five years later does Kemp discover how thoroughly she’s deceived him. Determined to punish her, he tracks her to Wales to watch her die. Instead, he walks into a trap.

Believing themselves safe at last, Suzanne and her family relocate to London, where she hopes to find the peace that has eluded her for so long. Her son is engaged to a nobleman’s daughter; her husband has a good job with British Intelligence. Yet she still struggles with restless dreams and the premonition that her nemesis has survived.

He has: Kemp, though severely injured, is rebuilding his empire and plotting revenge. He’s prepared to risk everything to end the former assassin. He may not be the only one.

Suzanne has no choice: to protect those she loves, she will be forced to kill again. Assassins, it seems, can never retire.

“An explosive page-turner which owes its momentum to it two well-drawn opponents and a conflict that goes beyond good-vs.-evil.” ~IndieReader, Four Star review

“Later turns in the smashing final act come at a searing pace.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“Keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion.” ~D. Donovan Midwest Book Review

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Ruthenia Press
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780999548721
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Today is not a good day to die.

No day is, not really. We humans are hard-wired to survive. By most standards, though, this morning is exceptional. The weather is balmy, even for May. The fierce winds that often pound the Welsh coastline have remained offshore. Purple heather blankets the emerald cliffs that encircle Bristol Bay. Small breakers gently lap the shoreline and wash the sand clean of debris. The water sparkles in the sunlight. Shades of azure and aquamarine yield to cyan and lapis further out. In the distance, the sea meets a cerulean sky just where the earth curves. No slate clouds gather at the horizon. All is calm.

Nothing suggested that today I would find myself on a bench in one of the most breathtaking spots in the world with a gun to my head, held by a predator who speaks just two words: “Don’t move.”

***

Excerpt from The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern. Copyright © 2018 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki is the author of two works of non-fiction: HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer finalist for books that provoke, inspire and redirect thought, and BECAUSE I SAY SO: MORAL AUTHORITY’S DANGEROUS APPEAL, as well as dozens of short stories. She is co-author on the Cafe Noir interactive murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Nikki’s suspense novel, THE FORMER ASSASSIN has garnered strong reviews, including a four-star rating from Indie Reader. She’s working on a mystery/sci-fi series starring an unorthodox crime fighter named Samantha Tate. When she’s not writing about strong complex women, Nikki is working with several non-profits, taking Pilates classes, and attending to the needs of her dog, Molly.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

 

 

ENTER GIVEAWAY:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

CLICK HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Book Details:

Book Title: Boy on the Beach by R.D. Maddux
Category: Adult Fiction; 304 pages
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Publisher: Ezekiel 12 Publications
Release date: March 11, 2017
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (There are implied sex scenes but no graphic descriptions of lovemaking. There is one scene with some violence.)

Book Description:

Andrew Foster, a real estate developer in San Diego, is a man suddenly haunted by his past. Memories, like specters from his former life of sex, drugs and rock and roll have come crashing into his current world of business in this sunny coastal city. The ominous, repeated appearance of a black SUV at the beach where he meets his sister each week, has triggered fears that it’s payback time for a bad choice he made years ago.

To add to his frustrations, his hopes of a big breakthrough in the San Diego real estate market haven’t come to pass. He’s starting to wonder if his visions of success will ever come true when an investor offers to finance his dream project. Soon things start to fall into place for Andrew in business, life, and even love. He starts dating the beautiful and business-savvy Nicole but even with her at his side he can’t seem to shake the ghosts of his past. As the relationship with Nicole deepens, Andrew opens up to her about the many loves and adventures that have taken him from the crazy days of living in Big Sur and Joshua Tree to business success in San Diego. Her wise insights help him face the character flaws that have caused him to fail in his past relationships.

Rounding out his social life is his once-a-week task of assisting his sister with her nanny job watching a young boy named Chandler. They build sand castles on the beach and enjoy the beauty of nature together. But the now ominous weekly appearance of a strange car at the beach has awakened Andrew’s fears. Is the boy in danger? Or worse, has an enemy from Andrew’s past come seeking revenge and now Chandler’s caught in the middle?

A strange twist of events threatens to destroy Andrew’s dreams, but as he searches for answers, a sudden revelation offers hope of a future he never imagined.

To follow the tour and read reviews, please visit R.D. Maddux’s page on iRead Book Tours.

 

Buy the Book:
 
Watch the book trailer:

Guest Post

Tell us about the settings for your novel.

I’m a native Californian. My family on my mom’s side goes back to the late 1840’s. In my college years I spend time in both Big Sur, Joshua Tree and Mount Shasta. Having spent time there, I believe I’ve been able to bring a sense of realism to those locations.  The same holds true for San Diego. I’ve lived in San Diego for over 30 years and have hung out in a lot of the locations. Being a California native for several decades I’ve had my finger on the culture and can bring my first-hand view point into the setting.

Tell us about the characters in your novel.

Interesting enough, although my book is a work of fiction, I spent a few years in my youth hanging out in the hippie culture and ran into a lot of people like the ones in my story. There was a dark side to the whole “Love” scene. “Free Love” wasn’t always so free and a lot of people got hurt and still carry the scars from some of the wild living back then.

Recreational drug use in your novel.

Back in my youth I had spent a few years immersed in the hippie culture and experimented with pot and LSD. I think the encounters that the characters in the novel have are realistic and some of the “nightmares” the protagonist experiences harken back to some of the “wild-oats that a lot of people have sowed in their youth. Now that pot is legal in California and there’s a growing interest in psycho active drugs many more people are experimenting with drugs. The whole Rave culture is a clear by-product of the generation of experimentation that went before it. I think people will relate to the arc of the characters and where our culture is today based on what the youth culture of 30-40 years ago were into.

A dark direction with no redemption?

That’s true, but I’m a great believer in the possibility of hope and the promise of a good future. With that in mind, I hope the reader will stick with me to the end. There are a lot of surprises on the way, but I think they’ll be pleased with the ending. Most of us have made choices we regret and sometimes they come back later to bite us. The protagonist in Boy On The Beach faces such a dilemma. But in this story, there’s the possibility of redemption at the end. None of us have a guarantee of a “happy” ending but we can always work and hope for the best. I believe the reader will find that even though there are some serious dark places in this story, in the end, both the journey and the ending will be worth the time invested in this mystery.

Working on my novel in Big Sur.

While I was working on my novel my wife and I spent a few days in Big Sur, California. One of the settings for my novel is along its beautiful coast. I’d spent a summer there years ago and it was fascinating to come back to that idyllic place again. In my opinion it’s one of the most stunning locations on the planet. Even though it’s accessible through Highway One, it’s also quite isolated in a way. Last year a major rock slide shut down the highway for some time so there was only access from one end. As a result, you had one of California’s major tourist attractions isolated in some ways from your casual traveler. To me it’s still such a “primitive” area and not that far removed from an era when sightseers could only visit it after an arduous journey. When we were there recently, we spent a couple of days in the modest but nice lodgings that dot the coastal cliffs. It’s a true natural treasure that I hope everyone gets to visit at least once in their lifetime.


 

 

Meet the Author:

 

R.D. Maddux has story telling in his blood. Since he was young he’s always loved a good tale. He’s been writing seriously since he was in high school and college. His novels range from Mystery and Intrigue to Sci-fi/fantasy. With Boy On The Beach he’s set the story in modern America, to be exact, on the West Coast of California. He’s a native of the golden state and has been a resident of San Diego since 1987. Before that he grew up in northern California and lived in the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area with sojourns in some of the beautiful parts of our state.Living in California for over 60 years he couldn’t help but watch the way things have changed in our culture and the impact this coast makes on the rest of America and the world. So even though Boy On The Beach is fiction, like most serious novels, it is not without a context and comment on issues we all face in our changing world. It takes place in real locations that are very familiar to him and its characters, which are fictional, no doubt have their counterparts in the real world. Boy On The Beach is a story of intrigue, suspense, revenge, love and redemption with flashbacks to the era when sex, drugs and rock and roll set our culture on it’s inevitable journey to our present day. This idea has been rattling around in his heart and mind for a decade and it’s finally coming to the page.Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Instagram

Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Aug 25, 2018

CLICK HERE for the Rafflecopter giveaway