Beyond the Wastes of Khulakorum, a storm is rising . . .
The Shaper of Ages is gone, and along with her, the Breaker — yet gods are not the only threat to the peace of the living.
Aldis Tennech, the once-great general of the armies of Gal’dorok, finds himself in exile. His only hope of reclaiming glory lies in the hands of a self-proclaimed emperor, and the unearthly powers that put him there. Meanwhile, improbable alliances are forged in the north as unexpected enemies rear their heads and threaten ruin-with a single thread in common, connecting them all.
In the sequel to his award-winning novel Gift of the Shaper, D. L. Jennings once again brings to life an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Ancient powers lying dormant must be called upon, bringing strength to those who need it and conquest to those who seek it; battles will rage and cities will fall, but only the most desperate or reckless would seek . . .
. . . to awaken the three.
Gift of the Shaper by D. L. Jennings (Highglade #1) Genre: Fantasy Add to Goodreads
For thousands of years, the Breaker of the Dawn has been locked away in the ethereal plane of the Otherworld. Now, a young blacksmith’s apprentice finds himself trapped in a war between the noble Athrani, a subset of humanity gifted with the ability to transmute matter, and the malevolent and powerful Khyth, who seek to free the ancient god from his prison.
When his father, Olson, is kidnapped, Thornton Woods and his childhood friend, Miera, must leave their small village of Highglade to find him. On their way, they are joined by Ynara and Kethras, cat-like humanoids called Kienari, who use their skills as hunter/trackers to follow Olson’s trail. When it comes to light that one among them possesses the key to the Breaker’s release, Thornton and his friends must defy the might of the Khyth as armies on both sides collide in pursuit of the ultimate prize.
Gift of the Shaper chronicles the epic struggle between the existing forces of good and evil, with both sides vying for control of the key that unlocks the Otherworld. The very powers of creation and destruction hang in the balance, and only a heroic effort by Thornton and Miera, backed by the power of the Athrani, can possibly stop the Khyth from unleashing ruin — and the Breaker — upon their world.
Once again, D. L. Jennings, who won the “Beverly Hills Award for Fantasy” in 2018, brings life to an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, AWAKEN THE THREE is a riveting page-turner, and a must-read for fantasy readers who want to escape to a different world, time and place ruled by other-worldly beings. It’s the perfect book to escape from the anxious times of our COVID-19 reality.
D. L. Jennings is a fourteen-year active-duty veteran of the United States Air Force, serving under the Air Force Special Operations Command. In 2005, he earned his associate degree after graduating at the top of his Korean class at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and earning the Korean Consul General’s award for excellence. He is a graduate of Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor of science degree in security management in 2008. He finished writing his debut novel, GIFT OF THE SHAPER, which won the Beverly Hills Book Award in 2018 for Fantasy, while serving on his ninth combat tour. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several countries in Africa. When he is not reading or writing epic fantasy, he enjoys traveling, listening to ‘90s punk, and watching Ohio State football. Jennings lives in South Florida
Taylor has room for exactly two things in her life: improving her performance as a college basketball player and maintaining the grades she needs to stay on the team and someday play in the WNBA. But when she meets the beautiful and confident Melony, Taylor’s whole way of life is called into question. RAINBOW is a coming-of-age queer love story with a Love Jones kind of vibe. It’s the first of many queer black novellas by the author Verde Arzu.
Giveaway: Signed Copy of Rainbow (Everyone) Enter Here
Verde Arzu is a passionate, middle school special education teacher. She graduated from Fisk University, a historically black college and university (HBCU) located in Nashville, TN. There she earned a B.A in History.
Her love for teaching pushed her to go on to graduate school where she earned a Master of Science in Special Education from National University. Verde is not only a teacher but an advocate working to ensure equity for students of color, especially those with learning disabilities.
Verde is excitedly working toward completing a post-baccalaureate certificate in writing from UC Berkeley Extension. Upon completion of the program, she plans to continue to publish novellas, short love stories, centered on realistic lesbian and queer relationships.
Verde recalls writing her first piece of fiction as a kid on the front stoop of her two-flat home on the south side of Chicago. She traces her passion for writing stories about African American queer characters from her desire to see more characters’ voices she can relate to.
A native Chicagoan, she currently resides in Northern California with her beautiful wife and two furry, four-legged children, Bob and Marley. She enjoys reading books written by African Americans—with her favorite genre being romance. She is a die heart Chicago sports fan. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, basketball, biking, binge-watching her favorite TV shows, and of course, cuddling up with a good book!
The book, which begins in January 2020, follows in a long tradition of British satire, as the British prime minister, Winston Spragg, first learns about a new virus that seems to be centred in a city in China that nobody has heard of.
The book populates Downing Street and Whitehall with an inept prime minister presiding over a dysfunctional government as it deals with an existential threat that rapidly becomes a national crisis.
It remains true to the timeline of Covid-19 and the government’s response to it, including its failure to lock down sooner, secure adequate supplies of protective equipment or protect the care sector.
Like satires before it, the book uses humour to paint an uncomfortable picture of a government in crisis, and seemingly as concerned about justifying itself as working to suppress the virus.
As the book progresses, with a mounting death toll, I hope the book strikes a changing balance as both a month-by-month narrative about the virus and a comedy to mirror unfolding events.
As the country emerges into a new normal, the country will inevitably want to know why, per head of population, we have suffered worse than any other European country. Being Alert! provides the perfect outlet, not just to ask very real questions of government but to use humour as a satirical and healing tool.
Comings and Goings
In late February, according to a Sunday Times report, at a private event, the Prime Minister’s chief advisor outlined the government’s strategy at the time and which was summarised by someone present as ‘herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.’
In early March, the Prime Minister told the nation that, while the virus was likely to become a more significant problem, ‘this country is very, very well prepared. However, the final sentence of his message didn’t appear on his official Twitter page: “I wish to stress that, at the moment, it is very important that people consider that they should, as far as possible, go about business as usual.’
By and large, Derek Goings was both universally loathed and feared. It was assumed that he either had access to supernatural forces or was, in fact, one of the Undead. Even the Archbishop of Westminster would cross himself when the two met, which was rarely – at the archbishop’s request. Partly, he was loathed because of his role as the PM’s chief advisor, with almost permanent access to the Prime Minister’s ear. Partly, it was also because the PM usually did what his advisor told him to do, and that this was somehow undemocratic. Partly, too, it was because he smelled of sulphur. Nobody could therefore understand how he was married, shared a marital bed and had fathered a child. However, the sceptics pointed out, only his marriage was a matter of record. Whether he slept with his wife, and who the father of his child was, were grey areas best not explored.
Derek, his critics often complained, although never to his face or to his few friends, had somehow appeared from nowhere. One minute, nobody had ever heard of him; the next minute, his name, and the smell of the underworld, was everywhere. Derek’s great achievement, agreed on by friends and foes, was to have leaped successfully onto the political stage without ever having done anything useful. Okay, he had once helped a relative run a nightclub in the north of England, and never mind that it had been voted the second-worst in Europe. (The worst subsequently burned down, accidentally or on purpose, handing the crown to Derek’s relative). Okay, he had also tried to start an airline in either Prague or Moscow (nobody was entirely sure which) but that hadn’t got off the ground, either literally or metaphorically.
Having therefore done nothing of note, he then appeared as if in a puff of black and menacing smoke on the Westminster stage, immediately making enemies of virtually everyone. However, having enemies only seemed to increase his powers because, say what you might about him, he did get things done. In a Whitehall dominated by men in grey suits, and all either from Oxbridge or interbred, the proper way to get things done had always been the old-fashioned way. After all, the British way was the traditional way; decisions were made over Pimm’s at Wimbledon; gin and tonics at Twickenham, and whatever was available at Henley. Decisions were rarely made in Whitehall, where they were supposed to be made. Derek, of course, thought otherwise, facing up to the grey suits in either jeans or tracksuit, with a mission to bring the British Civil Service at least into the 20th century. Perhaps, even for him, the 21st century was too big a task, at least for now. This wrecking-ball of a man, with his glittering career in night-time entertainment and air travel, therefore brought him into endless conflict with the mandarins who were supposed to be running the country.
Derek’s meteoric rise through the government’s advisory ranks was extraordinary; so too the growth of his reputation as someone who could end a political career with the merest nod of his head. He was, it was agreed, either Machiavellian or Svengalian – generally the former, because few civil servants or politicians had ever read a 19th century novel, and therefore didn’t quite know who Svengali was.
Kevin Kock was, of course, all too aware of the PM’s advisor, having been in numerous meetings with him and having seen how even the most confident minister could be brought to his or, sometimes, her knees with a cursory glance. It was therefore with alarm bordering on panic that he received the news from his Permanent Secretary that Derek Goings was on his way round for a ‘bit of a chin-wag.’
“But I’m busy,” he’d squeaked to Sir Roger.
“No, you’re not. I manage your diary, Minister.”
The Health Secretary could have said that he had a completely separate diary in which he, as Health Secretary, kept his Top Secret meetings; or that he was ill; or could have chosen from any one of the many excuses that he’d used over the years, mostly to cover up his blood and germ phobias. Now, of course, thanks to his Permanent Secretary, his alien life-form phobia because, in his mind, Covid-19 was now sentient and possibly intelligent – like a jellyfish, but with a more deadly sting. He then spent some minutes spraying his office with air freshener and disinfectant, and covering his desk with large piles of files. He even undid the top button of his shirt to demonstrate his dedication to the British people except, of course, Derek Goings.
His arrival was signalled, not by a deferential knock on his office door or a bleep from his internal phone, but by the smell of decay. The Health Secretary closed his eyes for just a moment and took several deep breaths only to find, when he opened his eyes again, that the PM’s advisor was already standing on the other side of his desk.
“Derek, good gracious! How nice to see you!” The Health Secretary automatically stuck out a hand, before realising that Derek Goings still had both hands in the pockets of his jeans. Only the Prime Minister was still shaking everyone’s hand, particularly on hospital visits.
The PM’s advisor sat in the chair opposite and sniffed the air. “Very wise,” he remarked. “As Health Secretary, it’s good to see that you’re setting an example.”
“You can’t be too careful, Minister, because you never know who might be harbouring infection. Sterilising your office is possibly or probably a good thing.” The advisor’s eyes, hidden behind dark glasses, were black discs. His soft voice carried with it both menace and good hygienic advice.
“Am I to assume that you’re here for a reason?” the Health Secretary asked, hoping to sound business-like and brusque, having rehearsed this opening line as he sprayed the room. “Because I am, as I’m sure you are, rather busy.”
“No, you’re not, Health Secretary. I looked at your diary.”
“Sir Roger had no right….”
“I have every right, Minister.”
Before Kevin could think of a suitably outraged reply, there was a soft knock on the door and Sir Roger himself appeared, carrying a notebook. Without asking, he took the other available seat next to Derek and neatly crossed his legs.
“I am here, Minister, to determine whether this country is prepared.” The PM’s advisor’s voice was barely a whisper. “After all, we are now beginning to see the first Covid-19 fatalities on British soil.”
“I did know that, Derek.”
“We will certainly see more fatalities, Minister, which brings me neatly to the reason why I am here. I merely wish to determine if you have made adequate preparations. Particularly the provision of personal protective equipment.”
This was a question that the Health Secretary, even panic-stricken, had foreseen. “Of course, Derek. We have, for example, a reserve of over one billion items of PPE. One billion, Derek.” The Health Secretary smiled brightly at his nemesis on the other side of the desk, using the advisor’s first name twice in the space of a few seconds, a useful trick that he’d learned on some management course he’d attended. Sir Roger picked imaginary spots of dust from his immaculate trousers and looked out the window.
“Yet, I am led to believe, Minister, that this figure includes things like cleaning products, waste bags, detergents and paper towels,” said the advisor, still in his stage whisper.
“Does it?” replied Kevin. “I mean, yes it does. At least, possibly it does. But a billion is still rather a lot of stuff, I’m sure you would agree.”
“Not necessarily,” said the advisor. “For example, your inventory lists 547 million protective gloves.”
“So, a more accurate figure would be 273.5 million pairs of gloves, or am I missing something?”
“Pairs of gloves?”
“Your inventory lists each glove separately.”
The Health Secretary looked wildly at his Permanent Secretary, who merely shrugged. “I did send you the inventory last year, Minister. Which you approved,” he added with a smile.
“Well, you know what they say, Derek.”
“No, I don’t know what they say, Minister.”
“That there are only three kinds of people in the world. Those who can count, and those who can’t.” The Health Secretary gave a small laugh, which wasn’t echoed from across the table.
“I hardly think that this is a time for levity, Minister.” The smell of sulphur had risen several notches, and a green vapour seemed to be filling the room. “I also just hope the media don’t get hold of the story. I dread to think what Panorama would make of it.”
“I’m sure they won’t, Derek.”
“However, if things deteriorate, PPE will get eaten up pretty quickly,” said the advisor, whose eyes had never left Kevin’s face, or maybe they had because, behind dark glasses, he could be looking anywhere.
“We are, of course, setting up new procurement channels to ensure against any and every contingency, aren’t we, Sir Roger?”
His Permanent Secretary shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Of course, Minister,” and then actually wrote something in his notebook.
“Very well, then I will assume that you have the needs of the health service and its gallant staff fully covered. But what about the care sector?”
“What about the care sector?” asked the Health Secretary.
The advisor was quiet for a moment. “Well, you are the person responsible for it.”
“What!” Kevin almost pushed himself upright.
“You are, as I assume you must realise, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.”
Sir Roger cleared his throat. “I did send you a memo, Minister.”
Giveaway: Win a digital copy of Being Alert in format of choice! Giveaway will be open from today until August 24th.
I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in central Scotland. And that’s about it.
I’m so pleased to reveal the new cover for the latest Botanic Hill Detectives Mystery book, Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph. Coming this fall!
Eucalyptus Street: Green Curse by Sherrill Joseph (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #2) Expected Publication: Fall 2020 Genre: MG Mystery/ Middle Grade – 9 to 12 (For fans of Nancy Drew type mysteries)
In 1945, Isabela de Cordoba’s great-grandfather, the famous silent movie actor Lorenzo de Cordoba, mysteriously hid a legendary, multimillion-dollar emerald somewhere on the family’s sprawling Eucalyptus Street estate. Seventy years later, the gem remains concealed. Nicknamed the “Green Curse,” the emerald is blamed for the Southern California familia’s numerous, untimely deaths.
On her twenty-first birthday, Isabela receives a secret letter with a cryptic poem. These documents from the long-deceased Lorenzo invite her to hunt for the gemstone. But first, she must decipher the poem’s eight stanzas for clues.
To assist, Isabela hires her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the four Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, and their best friends, Moki Kalani and Rani Kumar. Eerie footsteps inside the mansion, unexplained occurrences in the adjacent cemetery, and the mysterious tenant in the backyard casita challenge them. But they ingeniously make progress on the poem’s meaning with startling discoveries. Sliding wall panels, a secret room, and hidden passages reveal much. The detectives aren’t the only ones looking for the emerald. The perilous race for the de Cordoba treasure is on!
“GREEN CURSE is a spooky mystery that starts during a lightning storm in a big empty mansion. The tension ratchets up continuously as the story goes, alluding to ghosts, vampires, tombstones, graves, and a scary old woman that could be a witch. There’s a mystery within the mystery, a broad range of diverse characters, and interesting lore about gemstones of antiquity. My 12-year-old son and I recommend this page-turner that we just had to finish in one day!”-–BEN GARTNER, author of The Eye of Ra series
“This book was shocking, fun, and clever. I was at the edge of my seat the whole time. One of the best books I have ever read!”–LIAM M., age 11, Macungie, PA
Other Books in the Series:
Nutmeg Street: Egyptian Secrets by Sherrill Joseph (A Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries #1) Publication Date: February 1st, 2020 Genre: MG/ Middle Grade/ Mystery (Ages 9 – 12)
World-famous Egyptologist Dr. Winston Thornsley died suddenly two months ago in disgrace. His widow, Ida Thornsley, remains convinced her husband was falsely accused of stealing an ancient burial urn he discovered in Egypt last summer, but local and federal law enforcement officers are stumped.
Mrs. Thornsley, desperate for answers, calls in her thirteen-year-old neighbors, the Botanic Hill Detectives—twins Lanny and Lexi Wyatt, Moki Kalani, and Rani Kumar. Their exciting mission? To find the urn and its real thief, bring the criminal to justice, and exonerate Dr. Thornsley so his spotless reputation can be restored.
A roomful of venomous snakes, the poisoned Egyptian pond, and Dragon Pit Man are just a few of the tests awaiting the four tech-savvy teenagers. As the detectives begin to unravel the sinister plot, the mystery takes a dangerous turn. Answers are at their fingertips—if they can only convince their parents to let them solve the case.
Sherrill Joseph will be forever inspired by her beautiful students in the San Diego public schools where she taught for thirty-five years before retiring and becoming a published author.
She has peopled and themed the Botanic Hill Detectives Mysteries with children and adult characters of various abilities, races, cultures, and interests. Sherrill strongly believes that children need to find not only themselves in books but others from different races and social situations if all are to become tolerant, anti-racist world citizens.
In addition, the author created her detectives—patterned after her own fifth-grade students and twelve-year-old twin cousins—to be mature, smart, polite role models that will appeal to parents, teachers, but especially to kids who seek to realize their greatest potential with courage and self-respect.
Sherrill is a lexical-gustatory synesthete and native San Diegan where she lives in a 1928 Spanish-style house in a historic neighborhood with her poodle-bichon mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Other loves include her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter. She can’t leave out dark chocolate, popcorn, old movies, purple, and daisies. Having never lived in a two-story house, she is naturally fascinated by staircases. Sherrill is a member of SCBWI and the Authors Guild and promises many more adventures with the squad to come.
The Dead Inns paranormal investigations team is back in action with an all-new television show, Haunted Ends. With the help of their new ghostly member, Sam, the show’s popularity has grown far beyond San Francisco. Rocky, the show’s paranormal psychic, along with Sam, agrees to investigate the murder of a young college girl, Lilly Rosenberg. While doing so, the two are reunited with old friends as well as meeting new interesting ones… bodies optional. Their spooky adventure leads the crew of Haunted Ends into peril, fighting for their lives in the middle of the Mojave desert against the ghost of a long-dead serial killer, Irving Keegan.
Rocky lifted his eyes from his straining fingers. The sun hovered above the horizon, casting a golden glow over his pale skin. A fat speckled pigeon landed on the weather-worn bricks onto which his cramping fingers desperately held. Inches above him stood an open window, taunting him with a sheer white curtain that blew like a billowing cloud in the cool San Francisco breeze. The curtain reached down and tickled the tips of his spiky bleached-white hair. He knew if he reached out to grab the curtain, the rod would snap under his weight and he would plunge six stories, straight into oncoming traffic, causing quite a red splat on the asphalt below.
He glanced between his dangling legs to the busy street filled with spectators and anxious commuters. His eyes widened to the size of spotlights as all breath left his lungs. His fingers shifted, grasping tighter to the crimson brick wall. Why did he look down? He knew better. Yet, it wasn’t every day a person found themselves dangling vicariously outside a six-story window.
The headlights of passing cars and the flashing red lights of several emergency vehicles below resembled a swarm of fireflies. He hated fireflies. They reminded him of a time when he was eleven and had been forced to go to summer camp. The boys in his tent group held him down and forced him to eat fireflies to see if his stomach would glow. The fireflies didn’t stay with him long enough to find out.
“What the hell, Rocky?” Rose called from the open window.
Rocky jumped, his foot losing his hold for only a moment. He regained his footing, breathing out a gasping sigh. “Geez, Rose!” Rocky turned his attention to the window. “Hey, a little warning next time.”
“There’s going to be a next time? You’re anticipating doing this… whatever this is you’re doing again,” she said as she hung her head out the window.
“Gawd, I hope not,” he grumbled.
Rose crossed her arms over her chest, the sleeves of her gray suit pulling slightly at the elbows. “So, I have to ask, how’s it hangin’?” she asked as she leaned further out the window. Rocky replied with a drop-dead glare. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
“Just once, I…” Rocky started, realizing only after a few words how hard it was to speak while hanging off a ledge, “…wish you’d learn.”
Elizabeth grew up in Redlands, California as an only child. The lack of siblings, cousins, or even kids in her neighborhood to play with sparked her imagination to life. She spent most days entertaining herself with elaborate stories, even doing so when her attention should have been elsewhere—like on her schoolwork.
As a teen, Elizabeth dove headfirst into the geeky culture of Star Trek and other science fiction and fantasy novels. She became so consumed that she spent all her free time and allowance on new books—eagerly anticipating their arrival. When she felt hindered by her limited allowance and the inevitable waiting period between new releases, it dawned on Elizabeth to revisit the creation of her own stories. This is where she was truly born as an author, pouring her imagination into multiple genres.
In 2009, Elizabeth graduated from California State University Fullerton with a bachelor’s degree in Communications, emphasizing Entertainment Studies. She has taken numerous writing classes to hone her craft—everything from script writing to copywriting, story writing and more.
Elizabeth has been happily married to her supportive husband since 2001. He greatly encourages her in her writing endeavors and accompanies her on trips to haunted locations—her favorite pastime. She currently lives with her husband in Corona, California.
Michael A. McLellan has a new book out in the world! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a fantastic giveaway — A $20 Amazon gift card, and a copy of Return Addresses!
Psst, bloggers and book reviewers! There is also going to be a blog tour June 10th to the 26th, if you’re interested! Visit R&R Book Toursfor more info!
Return Addresses by Michael A. McLellan Publication Date: April 13, 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction Publisher: Mountain Press
“This ain’t your world. You don’t have any friends out here. Not real ones. No one out here cares about nothin’ but where their next drink or fix is comin’ from. That, or they were born too messed up in the head to even understand what friendship is. Remember that. You can’t trust anybody. You can’t rely on no one but yourself.”
Fourteen-year-old Sean Pennington never thought he’d find himself riding on an open train car in the middle of the night. He never thought he’d find himself alone. He never thought he’d be running for his life.
In the spring of 2015 Sean Pennington’s world of comfort and privilege is shattered and he becomes a ward of the state. Thrust into a broken foster care system, he discovers the harsh realities of orphanhood. Lonely, confused, and tormented by his peers, he runs away, intending to locate his only living relative; a grandfather he’s never met, who his only connection with is a return address on a crumpled envelope. Enter Andrea, a modern day hobo Sean meets at a California homeless encampment. Andrea travels the country by rail, stowing away on shipping container cars with other transients calling themselves traveling kids. Though battling her own demons, road-savvy Andrea promises to help Sean on his quest, but can she protect him from the unpredictable and often violent world she lives in?
He saw the tents and the plastic tarp lean-tos too late. He was already underneath the highway overpass. The waning daylight barely penetrated the area, and the makeshift shelters were tucked back away from the road, in the shadows. If he’d seen them, he would have stopped and backtracked to the frontage road he’d passed a few hundred yards back. Breathing heavily, he slowed to a walk and kept his eyes forward.
“Hey, dude, what are you running for?” Came a voice from his left.
He turned toward the voice. Two men were walking toward him from the group of haphazardly placed shelters about twenty feet from the sidewalk. Gauging that he was less than halfway through, he turned around and started back the way he’d come. The men picked up their pace to a jog and cut him off. They stood on the sidewalk in his path. Sean stopped short of them and they casually walked forward, closing the distance. He was more afraid than he’d ever been in his life. His legs were shaking and he felt sick to his stomach. One of the men was old and had long, matted gray hair that hung to his chest in clumps. His clothes were tattered and filthy. The other was younger, maybe thirty. He was wearing a red hoodie and gray sweat pants that were so dirty they’d turned black in places. He had the hood up and masses of brown dreadlocks spilled out of the sides. The smell of the two men reminded Sean of spoiled food and urine.
“What are you running for, kid?” the older man repeated.
Sean took a step back. “I…I must have gone the wrong way.”
“The wrong way? Ha! You got that right. This is the wrongest way you could go.” The man turned and glanced in the direction Sean had came from. “You got anyone with you?”
Michael’s love of books began with Beverly Cleary’s The Mouse and the Motorcycle when he was seven-years-old. Later influenced by the works of John Steinbeck, Harper Lee, Stephen King, James Baldwin, and Cormac McCarthy, Michael developed his style of storytelling. A self-proclaimed blue-collar writer, he draws on his experiences and observations to bring relevant and compelling topics to life.
Michael lives in Northern California and when he’s not writing, he can usually be found wandering around the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges.
His body of work includes the 2014 novel After and Again, the 2015 novel American Flowers, and the 2017 novel, In the Shadow of the Hanging Tree, as well as various shorts and essays.
Giveaway: 1st prize is a $20 Amazon gift card and a digital copy of Return Addresses. 2nd prize is a digital copy of the book! The giveaway will run from today to May 21st! Click the link below to enter!
Welcome to the blog tour celebrating the spine-tingling new novel by Dylan J. Morgan, Highland Cove! Read on for a chilling excerpt, book details and a chance to win a digital copy!
Highland Cove by Dylan J. Morgan Publication Date: March 23rd, 2020 Genre: Horror/ Paranormal/ Ghost Story
Highland Cove Sanatorium sits abandoned on a desolate island one mile off the Scottish mainland. It’s a dark, foreboding place, filled with nightmares. Even darker are the asylum’s secrets: a history of disease and mental illness, macabre experiments and murder.
The tales of ghostly appearances are said to be more fact than fiction, but no one has ever documented the phenomenon. Codie Jackson aims to change all that. Arriving from London with his small independent film crew, they plan to make a documentary that will forever change their lives.
But when one of the crew disappears, things begin to spiral out of control. A storm closes in to ravage the island, and in the darkness Highland Cove’s true horrors are revealed. Now lost within the institution’s labyrinthine corridors, Codie and his team realize that their nightmare is only just beginning.
She hesitated, and then stepped to the partially opened door. Raising her hand, she brushed fingers over dried paint peeling from the timber. Leaning further forward she stared through the opening at a floor coated with dirt and the remains of a building crumbling on its foundations.
A door slammed shut in the building’s depths.
Wind whistled through the gap with the murmur of a whispered voice.
With a gasp Kristen stepped away, gaze fixed on the door, expecting it to widen at any moment.
A hand pressed into the small of her back and she flinched again, spinning from the touch. Liam stepped onto the porch, pushing his phone into his pants pocket. He looked at her, his smile settling her nerves somewhat.
“Are you okay?”
Clearing her throat and shrugging her rucksack higher on her shoulders, she nodded, gave a nervous chuckle. “I’m fine. I guess this place is kind of spooky.”
“It’s the final resting place of thousands of tortured souls. It’s spooky as hell.”
Liam gave her a subtle wink, but if he was teasing her she didn’t need it right now. The rhythm of her heart had yet to settle, hairs rigid on the back of her neck. Liam stepped to the entryway, his hand almost at the door.
“Be careful, Liam.”
“What is it?”
She hesitated, swallowed hard. “I thought I heard something from inside, that’s all. A bang, like a door closing.”
“Really?” Liam said, and raised his eyebrows. “They know we’re here, then.”
His smile widened, and he pushed through the door into the asylum.
Now living and working in Norway, Dylan J. Morgan was born in New Zealand and raised in the United Kingdom. He writes during those rare quiet moments amid a hectic family life: after dark, with limited sustenance, and when his creative essence is plagued the most by tormented visions.
He is the multi-genre author of ten books, all available exclussively to Amazon. Focusing on Horror, Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia, and sometimes a hint of Science-Fiction, his books cater for those readers who enjoy a dark, terrifying journey into worlds where a happy ending is seldom seen.
When not writing, and when not reading, he can be found roaming the realm of the Witcher 3, or witnessing satisfying deaths on Game of Thrones, or even listening to some of the loudest heavy metal in his iTunes’ library.
If you’re searching for that light at the end of the tunnel then stop looking—you won’t find it here.