....though I would dearly love to play court to you, I would hurt you more than any other.
It is 1752.
The year that will change the life of heiress Melissa De Vire. As she makes her first fumbling steps into society, she meets the handsome young cad Justin Lestrade and his world tears her perceptions apart. For Justin is more than he appears and his secrets and enemies are manifold. Drawn irresistibly to him, she finds herself sinking into a realm of feuds, magic and old curses and her life will never again be the same.
“I’m Justin Lestrade, I’m sure you’ve been told about me.” In his warm voice she could hear suppressed laughter and she smiled, answering his amusement with some of her own. Even so she wondered at his hidden laughter for she felt that it was not directed toward the conversation but at something she couldn’t quite understand.
“My brother did mention you,”
“Of course he would have done,” The amusement thrummed through his voice and she was sure that he was quite aware of her brother’s warnings. “And you would be Melissa De Vire? Yes I’ve heard quite a bit about you. You’re the toast of the room.” The laughter spilled from his voice and spread across his face, it made his features look less jaded, more human. There was something magnetic about his voice; it held a confidence beyond the norm for a man his age and a mildly derisive humour that she couldn’t fathom.
“Only because I’m a fresh face,” Melissa replied, a soft smile touching her lips. “I got the impression that I was a shiny new toy.” She took a sip of the sweet wine and relaxed a little more.
“Well that silk does suit you well,” Justin responded, the compliment falling easily from his lips. “Green is your colour,” He beckoned a waiter carrying a laden tray forward and removed a small glass of canary. Dismissing the servant with a wave, he turned his attention back to Melissa. “I daresay shiny new toy is the best description for you at this point. It’s your first night in society; people are supposed to be curious and intrigued.”
“Intrigued?” Melissa asked, her eyes shifting from his handsome face with required modesty.
“You are an unknown. And the unknown is always to be explored.” His eyes sparked as he regarded her and he smiled. Melissa felt her breath catch as he turned that devastating smile full on her. There were layers to his conversation, meanings that she knew were not for a lady or at the least were meant for someone more versed in the arts of seduction. Ordinarily such a conversation would leave her tongue tied and stammering, yet he put her at such ease that she felt confident in replying.
“Perhaps the unknown is best left a mystery.” She answered finally, her fingers sliding over the smooth glass in her hands as she stared at him.
“Perhaps,” He conceded, “but exploring a mystery is a wonderful venture.” He lifted the glass to his lips and delicately took a sip. Melissa followed the motion, drawn to his mouth and its sensual twist with an interest that could not be considered academic.
“What if the unknown wishes to remain unexplored?” It was a bold question and one she should not even be thinking of saying, yet his manner seemed to draw it from her. His rakish smile encouraged indiscretion and for once in her ordered existence she revelled in the opportunity to be free with her thoughts.
“Does the unknown have a choice? What if the explorer decides to find out all he can?” His voice was honey soft and seductive.
She met his eyes boldly. “Then perhaps the unknown will poison him unexpectedly.” Shock flickered through his gaze like summer lightning at her daring and for a second, their conversation stuttered to a halt. Melissa did not drop her gaze as a modest lady should and they both stared at each other. Melissa’s frank gaze meeting his startled one as the room gossiped and danced around them.
Justin laughed; a low chuckle that broke the unnatural silence and relaxed the tension surrounding them. “This explorer always treads carefully,” He conceded finally as the chuckles subsided. “And chooses the safe path,” He sipped the canary and sat back, regarding the girl before him with more interest than before. “What has your brother imparted about me?” His eyes laughed as he looked down at her. “All bad I daresay,”
When I was a child, I made up games and characters when my sister and I played with dolls. As I grew older, I would make up scenarios and scenes, fully intending to write them down but never finding the time. In my late teens, I discovered the world of role playing and settled into an avid ‘geeky’ life of D&D, comics, sci-fi and fantasy fiction. Years passed and I finally gave voice to the stories in my head. I write romance, fantasy, action and adventure. I love tales of steampunk and history, tales of magical powers and dark curses lurking in the shadows. Though The Black Lotus is not my first attempt at a novel, it is the first I have finished.
And some fun facts about me:
My favourite Disney film is Atlantis.
I’ve been a film extra and stood 5 feet away from Sam Rockwell.
Babylon 5 is my fave sci-fi show. I cried at the end of Toy Story 3.
When eighteen-year-old Judy Hudson discovers she’s a necromancer and sees firsthand the pain her powers can cause the dead, she wants to deny who she is. The zombie plague is long over. She wants to find a more normal life, a challenge when a beautiful, otherworldly man who claims to be her guardian saves her life.
But as Judy tries to set right the harm she inflicted on the spirit she raised, new zombies attack–zombies raised from among the long-time dead. Someone else just like her is out there, and he’s not trying to set anything right.
Now, to save her own life and protect the innocent inhabitants of the nearby town who’ve become her friends, Judy must figure out who’s raising the dead and why. She must also learn to control the darkness inside her–a seductive darkness that promises her power beyond her wildest dreams.
Meagan Greystone, a new necromancer who grew up orphaned and homeless, has finally discovered a community where she belongs. But as she settles in at Ravenswood Manor, her ancestral home, a strange voice in her head unravels her newfound peace.
The source of the unsettling communication is Quintus, Meagan’s distant ancestor, known for his brutality and incredible power. When she attempts to enlist her father’s help by raising him from the dead, it’s Quintus who regains a foothold in the land of the living. Now reborn, he vows to obliterate everything Meagan treasures unless she joins him in his quest for power.
Meagan must overcome the heartbreak of unimaginable betrayal and fight in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation. Will she find the strength she needs to defeat the power of darkness and save the people and home she has grown to cherish?
He’d brought me here to kill me. What other reason could Father Andrew have for driving me to such a remote spot?
He dragged me toward a circular stone monolith. It stood close to the cliff edge, like an oversized dirty white doughnut that dominated the otherwise flat landscape. Waves crashed in the distance, and salt coated my lips.
I tried to pull my arm free, but he gripped my wrist even harder. There were no buildings in sight, not even a copse of trees to shelter in. Even if I could escape his grip, where would I run? I’d freeze to death before I could find help.
The stone seemed to watch me.
My heart froze and then pounded. Blood rushed around my body. I knew this place. I breathed in its faintly familiar smell, and my ears tingled to the thunder of the sea. I was too far to measure it, but I knew the stone stood twice as tall as I did with a round hole at hand height.
How could that be? I’d never been here before.
The stone called to me, teased me with sweet laughter. For a fleeting moment, I smelled flowers and saw children dancing. Was it trying to communicate with me? Telling me to trust it?
Father Andrew seemed oblivious to its power. At its base, he pushed me to my knees and droned out another prayer. I lowered my head and folded my hands but didn’t say the words.
“Father.” I coughed and cleared my throat. “What’s happening?”
He stopped his muttering. “I should have put you back years ago.”
A heavy weight pushed against my chest, the same weight I felt in the chicken shed. “What do you mean?”
He pressed his palm on the top of my head. “I found you here. It is best, for the sake of us all, that I bring you back.”
“But you said someone left me in a box—”
He squeezed my scalp. “You were left in a box, but here. I found you here.”
My leg muscles tightened, ready to carry me away, but my intuition told me to wait. I gulped deep breaths to calm the pulsing in my veins. He licked his finger, traced a cross on my forehead, and then trudged back to where Moppet waited in front of the wagon.
Father Andrew grabbed the blanket, strode back, and hung it around my shoulders. Tears tracked down his cheeks. He didn’t wipe them away. This time when he got back to the wagon, he climbed in and set Moppet to a fast walk. They grew smaller and smaller in the distance and disappeared.
He hadn’t killed me. He’d abandoned me here, where he found me. Was he giving me a chance to live, or did he expect me to die here? Delicate crystals of snow drifted to the ground in this surreal landscape. A pale gray sky hung so low a sudden urge to jump up and touch it filled my head.
I climbed to my feet and slumped against the monolith. Something clunked against the weathered stone. I pulled the forgotten watch from my pocket and traced my fingertips over the initials. BG—was this watch, these initials even connected with me?
Whiteness stretched out in all directions like a crisply ironed sheet. Snowflakes fell in my hair and eyelashes. The coldness of each one stung as it landed on my face.
At least the weathered stone blocked the wind. Where could I find shelter? Where could I go? Not back to St. Stephen’s that was for sure. Never back there.
Hunger gnawed at my stomach. Fatigue dragged my eyelids down. My legs gave way, and I fluttered into semi-consciousness.
Hot breath brushed against my neck, and strong hands lifted me from the snow. Warmth encircled me as if someone had wrapped me in a downy quilt, but it was a fleeting sensation before darkness surrounded me.
Kim Cleary is the award-winning author of Path Unchosen, the first title in the Daughter of Ravenswood series, which earned a bronze IPPY award in 2015. She grew up in Birmingham, United Kingdom, studied medieval history and psychology at Adelaide University in Southern Australia, and has worked all over Australia and in London.
Forced to leave a successful career in marketing after multiple sclerosis damaged her hands and prevented her from typing, Cleary learned how to write using voice software.
A self-described chocoholic, Cleary loves writing, gardening, cooking, playing with her dogs, and spending time with friends. She lives with her husband and two dogs, an adorable cocker spaniel and a mischievous moodle, in Melbourne, Australia.
A girl with a past she tries to forget, and a future she can’t even imagine.
Leonie Woodville wants to live an unremarkable life. She wants routine, she wants repetition, she wants predictability. So when she explodes in a blaze of light one morning on the way to her college, it’s enough to put a real crimp in her day.
And things only get weirder…
Leonie learns from her father that she is last of the Pulsar, a phenomenally powerful member of a magical species called the Chosen. It will be her sole duty to protect the Imperium, a governing hierarchy, from all enemies, and to exceed the reputation of the Pulsar before her. So – no pressure there, then.
Leonie is swept away from her rigorous normality and taken to a world of magic. There, she is forced into a ceremony to join her soul to a guardian, Korren, who is both incredibly handsome and intensely troubled, a relationship for which ‘it’s complicated’ just really doesn’t cut it.
But Leonie is soon to learn that this ancient world is no paradise. With violent dissidents intent to overthrow the Imperium, and dark entities with their own agenda, she and Korren find themselves caught in a war where they will have to overcome their differences if they are to survive.
Giselle Simlett was born in England. She has studied Creative Writing at both Gloucestershire University and the Open University. She has a diploma in Creative Writing, Language and Literature and will soon complete her BA Hons Open Degree.
She does not as yet have a degree in the power and responsible use of magic, but she does have a young son, which amounts to the same thing.
She currently lives in Australia with her husband and son.
Seventeen-year-old Hope Nicholas is done running. Apollo’s curse has ruled her entire life, limiting her choices and robbing her of the things that matter most. But she refuses to live in fear any longer. In fact, she’s ready to do whatever it takes to break the god’s power over her existence.
When the goddess Artemis instructs Hope to impersonate a demigod and infiltrate a conservatory to get access to the Olympian library, she doesn’t hesitate. As she sees it, there’s nothing left to lose.
But once inside, Hope discovers the only way to get what she needs is to work with her sworn enemies. As the lines between demigod and monster are crossed again and again, Hope has to dig deep for the courage to accept her fate or fight for the freedom to save herself.
Demigods and Monsters is the second book in the Sphinx series.
(click on image for Goodreads link):
Raye Wagner grew up in Seattle, the second of eight children, and learned to escape chaos through the pages of fiction. As a youth, she read the likes of David Eddings, Leon Uris, and Jane Austen. Inspired by a fictional character, Raye pursued a career in nursing, thinking to help the world one patient at a time.
One summer afternoon, when her then young children were playing in the pool, a plot dropped into her head, and she started writing.
She enjoys baking, puzzles, Tae Kwon Do, and the sound of waves lapping at the sand. She lives with her husband and three children in Middle Tennessee.
Origin of the Sphinx, a novella detailing the story leading up to the creation of the mythological creature, is her first publication. It is the beginning of the Sphinx series.
Curse of the Sphinx, the first book in the series, is completed, and set to be released in August 2015.
Toby Sedgwick is terrified by his daughter’s increasingly reckless behavior and takes a tough love approach, enrolling Ava in Mount Hope, a wilderness behavioral camp for troubled teens. Ava quickly realizes that the camp is little more than a prison, warehousing and abusing kids for their parents’ money. And after spending a disturbing weekend completing the parent portion of treatment, Toby knows it too.
As Ava desperately searches for a way out of Mount Hope, she is faced with resurfacing memories of a family tragedy. She can no longer suppress the pain of what happened to her mother and sister eight years earlier in Thailand. As father and daughter fight to get back to each other, the truth may irrevocably tear them apart.
What inspired you to write your most recent novel, Girl Sent Away? Did you set out to write a book that dealt with adolescent mental health?
Like my other novels, Girl Sent Away is inspired by my work with families. I’m a counselor and I’ve worked with parents who’ve considered this tough love approach. Adolescent boot camps have been in and out of the news for years—and the reality of these places is controversial, with physical abuse, accidents, deaths, and little proof that these expensive, militaristic programs actually help. In my experience, the techniques aimed at coercing teens into submission actually make underlying mental health issues worse, not better.
Was it a difficult topic to tackle/write about?
We have a crisis in our mental health system and I feel compelled to contribute to the conversation any way I can. To me, the novel is an incomparable vehicle for exploring our emotional lives and raising social consciousness. Compelling stories have the ability to draw us in. They challenge our present attitudes, often shifting our perspectives. When I was writing Girl Sent Away, in deliberate ways I found myself imagining a story that might offer tangible emotional benefits to teens. A novel that when discussed, might foster deeper connections between us, richer communication, and ultimately a greater understanding of the preciousness of our mental health.
How has your experience as a counselor influenced your writing?
Over the years in my role as family and school counselor I’ve heard so many stories like the ones in Girl Sent Away. And I’ve been inspired by the brave teenagers—and their families—who’ve changed the course of their lives because they were willing to talk about their struggles, to understand and regulate emotion in the face of unprecedented societal pressure.
You mention the importance of helping adolescents develop coping skills. Can you give examples?
Building relationships—learning where we end and others begin—is forever a work-in-progress. Having emotional protection skills is no guarantee that every feeling experience or relationship will be positive—nor should we expect that—but not having them ensures that life will be complicated and relationships enmeshed and unhealthy.
When emotional boundaries are well-developed, it makes it possible for us to separate our own thoughts and feelings from those of others. We are more able to take responsibility for our feelings, regulate our responses to those feelings and the behavior of others, and express our wants and needs thoughtfully and respectfully.
Why do you think teens are hesitant to talk about mental health?
Understandably teenagers may not want to talk about how they’re feeling or ask for help because they feel ashamed or scared. They worry others may judge them or treat them negatively based on their mental health diagnosis. In some cases that’s been their experience. They may have trouble admitting life is hard. They worry they’ll be perceived as weak or lazy because of their difficulties fitting in at school or maintaining relationships. The media doesn’t help here. As a society we’re quick to ridicule celebrities or label people unlike us pejoratively. We have a lot of work to do to normalize wide ranges of feeling states, lending a hand to those who experience tough times.
What do you think it is going to take before society confronts these issues?
I think as a society we are starting to confront these issues. We talk more openly now about anxiety and depression, substance use and abuse. We have less stigma around seeking professional counseling and family support. That’s not to say we don’t have a long way to go, but strides are being made to raise awareness about prevention and treatment. I have to be hopeful we’ll get there.
Lynne Griffin is the author of the family-focused novels Girl Sent Away, Sea Escape, and Life Without Summer, as well as the nonfiction titles, Let’s Talk About It: Adolescent Mental Health and Negotiation Generation—Take Back Your Parental Authority Without Punishment. Lynne is a registered nurse and family counselor who teaches family studies at Wheelock College, and is the Social-Emotional Learning Specialist at an independent school in Boston. She teaches fiction writing at GrubStreet, an independent writing center in Boston and facilitates their program for soon-to-be published authors called Launch Lab.
Critics have noted that Lynne’s work is all heart—with “carefully crafted characters that ring heartbreakingly true” (Publisher’s Weekly, STARRED REVIEW, Life Without Summer), and that as a writer, Lynne tells her stories “with literary grace and a keen sense of human nature” (Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen), with the ability to “pluck the heartstrings” (Entertainment Weekly’s MUST READ LIST, Sea Escape)
“Girl Sent Away is a sensitive, compulsively readable novel about the enduring devotion of a father and daughter, and the frightening, shadowy world of troubled teens.”—William Landay, author of Defending Jacob
With its young heroine and sensitive examination of adolescents in crisis, Girl Sent Away would do well to find a teen audience. –Kirkus Reviews
A harrowing tale of family and adolescence–of the things parents do to keep their children whole and the terrible mistakes they make along the way. —Ivy Pochoda, author of Visitation Street
The Bourne Identity meets Under the Never Sky in this intergalactic tale of love and deception from debut novelist Beck Nicholas.
Asher is a Lifer, a slave aboard the spaceship Pelican. A member of the lowest rung of society, she must serve the ship’s Officials and Astronauts as punishment for her grandparents' crimes back on Earth. The one thing that made life bearable was her illicit relationship with Samuai, a Fishie boy, but he died alongside her brother in a freak training accident.
Still grieving for the loss of her loved ones, Asher is summoned to the upper levels to wait on Lady, the head Official’s wife and Samuai’s mother. It is the perfect opportunity to gather intel for the Lifer’s brewing rebellion. There’s just one problem—the last girl who went to the upper levels never came back.
On the other side of the universe, an alien attack has left Earth in shambles and a group called The Company has taken control. Blank wakes up in a pond completely naked and with no memory, not even his real name. So when a hot girl named Megs invites him to a black-market gaming warehouse where winning means information, he doesn’t think twice about playing.
But sometimes the past is better left buried. As Asher and Blank’s worlds collide, the truth comes out—everyone has been lied to...
I always wanted to write. I’ve worked as a lab assistant, a pizza delivery driver and a high school teacher but I always pursued my first dream of creating stories. Now, I live with my family near Adelaide, halfway between the city and the sea, and am lucky to spend my days (and nights) writing young adult fiction.