One of the great things about my publisher, Red Adept Publishing, is the strong sense of community they've created. We chat. We message. We talk to each other about our books and Star Wars. (LOTS of chats about Star Wars.)
It helps that RAP publishes incredibly strong genre fiction. There's a ton of cool stuff they put out, especially in the urban and modern fantasy world.
Their latest find is Stephanie Spangler, whose new book, Dark Designs, comes out today!
Stefanie Spangler’s Urban Fantasy Dark Designs
Magic calls out to other magic, and the Grant sisters are about to find out they’ve drawn the darkest kind to their doorstep.
Twins Ivy and Violet Grant are opposites. Ivy, a hot-tempered redhead, couldn’t wait to get off the farm and see the world. Violet, a quiet brunette, was content to stay home and help their grandmother with the family business. The one thing they have in common is their magic.
Charlie Logan’s sinister obsession with Ivy Grant has ruled his life. When he discovers a book of dark magic during a burglary, he decides to return to Oak Hill and use his newfound power to gain control over Ivy.
Ivy and Violet, with help from their grandmother, need to practice their magic to overcome the evil seeping into their lives. A battle is coming, and Ivy’s life is not the only one at stake.
Buy it now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07123MWW7
Slowly, Ivy became aware of another presence in the barn. Her eyes roamed away from the kitten cradled in her arms to the boots standing just beyond the stall door, next to her discarded sandals. Eyes wide, she sprang to her bare feet as fast as she could without trampling the kittens.
Charlie Logan was blocking the way out of the stall. The sunlight that slippedin through the gaps in the barn’s wooden planks cast his face in mottled stripes. She knew him because Grandpa Jack had always let his granddaughters roam the farm freely, and Charlie had spoken to her many times. Never alone, though. She stood awkwardly, her eyes darting around the dimly lit solitude of the barn.
“Nice kittens you got there.” He nodded cheerfully toward the kittens then smiled. His hand twitched as if he might reach out and touch her.
“Yeah,” she said quietly, looking back and forth between Charlie and the kittens. “None of them are sick or anything. Sometimes there are sick ones…” Ivy rambled nervously until her eyes settled on Charlie’s face, and then she stilled, wishing she could disappear.
Charlie moved in closer, trapping her in the corner of the stall. “They’ll all be good mousers, I bet.”
His tone was friendly, but Ivy’s guts tensed up. She desperately wanted to be away from the stall that had, without warning, become too dark and far too secluded. If she shouted, someone would likely hear her and come, but Charlie had always seemed nice enough. Maybe he did just want to talk about kittens, and she didn’t want him to get in trouble for not being busy at work.
When she made a move toward the door, his tall frame shifted. She jerked back, away from his body, pushing herself tighter into the corner of the stall. He was close enough that his scent of stale cigarette smoke and sweat forced its way into her nostrils and stomach. When he exhaled, his breath smelled of strong coffee. In slow motion, Charlie reached out and touched her hair just over her ear. Heart in her throat, she froze. Charlie Logan had not come to discuss anything good. He smiled at her affectionately as he stroked her hair.
Title: Dark Designs
Author: Stefanie Spangler
Genre: Urban Fantasy
About the Author
Stefanie Spangler has always loved books and reading, and one day, she decided to write a book of her own.
Stefanie lives in central Illinois with her husband and daughters. When she's not reading or writing, she’s usually editing someone else’s book. But she also enjoys gardening, knitting, and forcing others to read her favorite books.
I hope you'll check out her book! I'm going to!
It was one year ago today (or seven in Orson time) that Tail & Trouble was officially went on sale on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all other book selling websites.
It has been a fantastic year for this book. The story I started dreaming up while I was stuck in a traffic jam south of Myrtle Beach a few years ago finally was available to everyone. When I finished it, the good people at Red Adept Publishing took a chance on it, and I am so grateful.
The response to Tail & Trouble has been amazing, with dozens of five star reviews and thousands of copies sold. Last August, the book cracked the Amazon Top 100 - of all paid books - peaking at #88. So, for a brief shining moment I was up there with authors I admire, like Neil Gaiman and JK Rowling. It's still incredible to think about that, and I have all of the readers, reviewers and bloggers to thank for it.
So, as a thank you to all of you for making this book such a success, I'm giving you a birthday present. While I work to finish the sequel, The Winter of our Distemper - and I swear, it's almost done! - please enjoy this short story featuring Gabriel and Orson. It gives a hint as to the location of the next book, and it also celebrates one of my favorite dates that took place just a week ago., May the Fourth.
I hope you all enjoy it! It was fun to write and hopefully it will tide you over till the next book is done.
A Gabriel & Orson Short Story
By Victor Catano
“Are they really as good as all that, Gabriel?” Sheila stretched out in the passenger seat of the convertible. Her shirt rode up a little and I got a glimpse of her navel. This of course got me thinking about the other things under her shirt, which made me ignore the car in front of us. It took a shriek from Sheila to get me to slam on the brakes.
Down boy. Or do I have to get the hose? I could hear Orson judging me from the back seat.
“Sorry.” I felt sheepish, but not that guilty. Sheila was the girl of my dreams. That fact that she was also a powerful witch with a chatty bulldog familiar was icing on the cake. A lot of icing. “I never had them. My friend swears by them, though.”
Sheila stared at me. “You mean we’re going to break about nine different international laws, and you never even tried them?
We inched forward in line at the Canadian border crossing. We were in Maine, on the US side, in a town called Calais. Pronounced like the foot bunion and not like the town in France.
I shrugged. “They’re chocolate covered almonds. They’re going to be good. Hey, we were up here anyway. What, are you all opposed to chocolate now?”
“No, I am opposed to crossing a border without a passport. And with a dog with no vet records.”
What? I’m good! Orson chuffed as he vigorously scratched his ear.
Sheila reached into the back seat and scratched him under his jaw. “Yes you are, my little cuddle bug, But they don’t want my word for it.”
“I’m hurt. I thought I was your little cuddle bug.”
Don’t be jealous. I’m a catch.
I grinned and turned to Sheila. “Well, consider it a birthday present for me.”
We had inched up to be next in line. We were at a stop sign, waiting to be summoned to the customs booth ahead of us. “And they will take your word for it. Just let me do the talking. You take care of the other stuff.”
Sheila pursed her lips. “I’m not entirely comfortable doing this. I don’t want to use this like a party trick.”
“Hey, it’s my birthday! You said I could do anything I wanted!”
Yeah, you said anything.
“Thank you, Orson.”
No matter how stupid.
I sighed. “Just give me this. It’s just something I need to do.”
The car ahead of us rolled away from the guard post. I accelerated gently and coasted into the stall.
The customs agent was a dour looking fellow. Short hair, bored eyes, young, but already starting a beer belly. He held out his hand. “Passports, please.”
I leaned my arm on the rolled down window and gave a little flick of my hand. “You don’t need to see our identification.”
The agent glared at me. “I most certainly do. And unless you want to get pulled aside for a special screening, you’d better hand them over. Now,”
I spun around to look at Sheila. “What’s going on?”
“What? You said to let you do the talking,”
“You promised. This is really important to me.”
Sheila smiled. “All right, I’m sorry. Try it again.”
I turned back to the guard. HIs mood had not improved. “Well? Pass them over before I call my supervisor.”
I waved my hand again. “You don’t need to see our identification.”
His brow furrowed and he started to say something rude, but then his face went slack and calm. “We don’t need to see your identification.”
I was cheering in my head, but I tried to keep myself as cool and collected as I could. I waved my fingers again. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”
He stared at the car. “These aren’t the droids we’re looking for.”
I couldn’t keep the smile from my face. I put the car in park and tapped my feet excitedly. “W-we can go about our business!”
“You can go about your business,” the guard repeated.
I giggled as I said the last line. “Move along!”
The guard gave us a bored wave. “Move along. Move along.”
We did. I did my best to feather the gas and not slam down on it. We rolled away into the town of Saint Stephens.
I was so excited I was beaming. My hands were shaking so much, I pulled into a nearby Tim Horton’s parking lot. I parked badly, across two spots, and leapt out of the car.
“THAT WAS AWESOME!”
Sheila and Orson glanced at each other and then stared at me as I danced around.
“That was so cool! It was just like the movie!”
Sheila gave me a half smile but looked more than a little concerned. “Sweetie, I know you love that movie and all, but why was it so important to do that?”
Yeah. Most of you nerds just want to fight with light sabers.
I paused my victory celebration to catch my breath. “It’s… It’s complicated.” I took a breath. “You know how I grew up, right?” Sheila nodded. “Dad was a drunk who beat on anything that upset him and Mom tried her best, but after a while she could only do so much. I wished so hard that he would just stop or go away.” I leaned against the hood of the car. “But this… When I saw it on TV when I was five, it just meant everything to me. That someone could just think something and it would happen, it was like my dream.”
I brushed away a tear from my eye as I looked down the street. “You know, all my friends wanted to me Han. Not me. Luke was always my guy.”
Sheila but her head on my shoulder and Orson laid down at my feet. I hadn’t heard them get out of the car. “Oh honey…” Sheila hugged me close to her.
I closed my eyes and leaned my head on hers. “Thank you. I know it was stupid, but it was all I ever wanted to do when I was a kid.”
“I’m glad I could help you. I’m sorry I teased you back there, I didn’t get how important that was to you.”
“Are you kidding? That was great!” I spun her around and kissed her. She hugged me tight. We stayed like that until Orson started to whine.
You done yet? I thought we came for some chocolate dipped almonds.
“What do you care?” I said. “Dogs can’t have chocolate.”
Orson stared at me, his eyes wide with shock. What do you mean? When did this happen?
We made our way to the old Ganong factory for a tour. Not long after that, we sat in the Galaxie eating our chocolate.
Sheila licked her fingers, “I have to hand it to your friend. The hand dipped almonds are exceptional.”
“Darn right they are.” I crunched down on another one.
I heard a doleful whine behind me. I wouldn’t know.
Sheila ignored him and snuggled up to me. “So, any other birthday wishes?”
I grinned. “I have a couple ideas.”
“I’m not wearing my hair in side buns.”
“How about the metal bikini?”
“We can talk about it.”
Hi, I’m Victor Catano, author of Tail & Trouble and I’m your host for this stop in the Hunt. Welcome, all newcomers! Please have a look around!
When it is too late to say sorry
‘We were happy once? Weren’t we?’
Diablo asked herself this question every day. But nothing ever changed. It always came back the same… a burning anger, so bright that it matched his strutting brilliance and that of course, only made her angrier. God, the almighty, sanctified divinity and his constant holier than thou lectures. Her husband was a pompous fool, whose faults were even greater than the obedience he demanded from everyone around him. Including her, and this perfect creature would not be outdone by anyone.
She smiled despite this, cruel and calculating for she had to admit there was great satisfaction in upsetting him. A single finger raised and from the shadows came a man, not nearly as perfect as she, but darkly handsome none-the-less.
“Baal, General of my armies, my devoted and faithful servant. I have a small task for you. Not the most pleasant, I admit, but then you never shirk your duties, do you my pet.” She ran a well-manicured fingernail down the side of his face. Her voice purred in satisfaction at the man before her, admiring the leanness and hunger that emanated from him.
Baal looked at her, his black eyes never changing, never blinking. “Mistress, on your word I would take out my own eyes just to remain in favor” and he touched her finger with his. How she hungered for more and he excelled in giving her all she desired.
“Go upon the Earth, my Baal, move amongst my husband’s followers and remove their souls from his care. Possess the hollow shells of man he created, do with them, as you will. A score or more to create a diversion, linger long enough, so that I may enter his room without notice. You should keep him busy my pet. Feed on the souls and the dissent you cause within in his founding churches and know, that it will please me greatly. After all, it wouldn’t do, not to turn the other cheek.” She lavished the General by allowing the pitiless smirk to touch her eyes and her face twisted into a glorious mask of savageness.
It is suffice to say that I was hooked. The pleasure from writing a tale from beginning to end in, let’s say in a dozen or more pages was a refreshing break from the arduous work load of writing five books back to back. So, it is with the greatest of pleasures that I share with you this stand-alone book, ‘A Dark Compendium’, a collection of twelve short stories to entice and delight, each uniquely different in what they offer you, the reader.
To showcase this work of art, I will up the ante and give you another excerpt wet your whistle, but what to choose? In the end I picked a story that came second in an Inkitt competition. It is a fun story and one that I know you will love.
War of the Words
Prose was a pretty thing with dark hair and brown eyes, whose smile lit the world around her. This day found her hard at work. Sheets of paper lay scattered on the desk and floor, screwed up balls of the unwanted stuff littered the room, and the quills that she so loved to write with - her most treasured of possessions - were spread out before her in loving array. Feathers and inkpots, scrolls, and the ability to create infinite worlds belonged to this dedicated writer. Prose was proud of every word.
“I have finished! I have finally made my mark.” Prose leapt out of her chair. “It is done at last, my very first story. It’s a pearler and once it’s published, I know it will go straight to number one.” She hammered on the wall with her fist and the scraping of a chair on the other-side followed, then, came a knock on her door.
“Come in, come in Ink and hurry up.” Prose shouted, well aware that every writer in her building would be frowning at the interruption. Every time a writer placed the last dot on the end of a tale, indicating that the manuscript was ready for other eyes, there was a celebrated shout: disrupting the usual quiet that enveloped her building.
Ink was a close friend, more of a brother than her true blood sibling, who had left them all years ago. Sketch had chosen to become a painter and as such, had to live in the Virtuoso, the Art Capital of their world. Although she was pleased, Prose missed the freckle -faced lad with permanent smudges on his face and hands.
Ink stood grinning. He was younger than she by a year, with flaming red hair and a nose that was a little too big for his round face. It was a pleasant face, with a ready smile and hungry eyes. He was her best and dearest friend.
“I’ve finished it, Ink.” A smile lit her face with elation. “It’s called, ‘Tripping over Poppies’.”
Ink sighed. “I wish I could finish something,” and his eyes took on that faraway look when inspiration took a hold, dreamy and out of focus. “I can’t finish a damn thing. I just keep getting these random thoughts and then, I can’t help but start writing. There are reams of the stuff lying about.”
Prose smiled, as indulgently as any sister he might have had and stepped forward to hug him. “I’ve finished my book Ink.”
He grinned back. “And you’re so lucky.”
She dragged him over to the table. “Look.”
“What are you going to do now?” He was genuinely earnest.
“Why, silly,” and she gave him a playful push. “I’m going to the Publishers.”
“You are?” There was a note of awe in the question.
“Of course. Why shouldn’t I?”
“Oh, I could think of a million reasons.”
“Name one.” Prose crossed her arms beneath her breasts.
Ink walked to the window. “Rejection.” He whispered the word, so low, that she only just caught the implication. “You know Prose, if you get a rejection letter, the shame will be there for everyone to see. They don’t care. Those men in their 3 tight suits and pinched expressions make a hell of a fuss when they come a callin’.” Ink rounded off the last word to emphasize the distaste he felt.
Anger dusted a rosy hue into her cheeks. “I won’t accept that! Not at all! Just because a book gets rejected by the Publisher doesn’t mean that it isn’t any good.”
Ink nodded. “I know that, but without them, your book stays hidden from the world. No one will read it and then, it is as if your words never existed.”
“Oh Ink, really! What a load of rubbish, of course they exist. I haven’t spent long gruelling hours, agonizing over what phrase goes where and which word makes more sense, to have it said my book doesn’t exist because of a rejection. God! I’ve had enough.” Prose had worked herself into a veritable fit. “I’ll take it to the streets if I get a rejection letter.”
Ink’s mouth dropped open. “Who speaks like that?”
“I do and make no mistake about it. I mean every word.” And Prose humphed her way back to the table. “There’s an envelope around here somewhere. I will post it tonight and show them a thing or two.
Authors Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HK6BWVI
A Dark Compendium
Amazon US - http://tinyurl.com/lcyckkg
Amazon AU –http://tinyurl.com/qdyma5c
Smashwords - https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/500141
Google Play - http://bit.ly/2ate0yg http://ilovebookz.com/?s=A+Dark+Compendium
Australian Author Ellen Mae Franklin websites: http://authorellenmaefranklin.weebly.com/ http://authorellenmaefranklin.com/
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/authorellenmaefranklin/
Youtube Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0QPryonxzI
Rebel Mouse - https://www.rebelmouse.com/carolbondauthor/
Did you find the number? If you did, then click Ellen Mae Franklin’s link – https://www.facebook.com/TheUnseenPromise/to continue Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt.
Happy Sunday everyone!
This week, I'm participating in the Virtual Fantasy Con - a SF & F convention done online. All the fun of meeting people and arguing about fantasy with none of the travel or crowds.
I am going to be hosting a booth on Wednesday (Urban Fantasy day!
https://www.facebook.com/events/179836215756673/) but there is fun stuff all week long, starting TODAY, so stop by and check it out.
ALSO! There is a blog scavenger hunt, with prizes! I am participating in it, so welcome to those who land on this page! Look around! Buy something!
More info on the hunt here! http://vfcscavengerhunt.weebly.com/
It promises to be a fun time with a ton of cool and interesting indie writers. Hopefully, you'll find a new writer or series to obsess over.
Last week, we had a sale on Tail & Trouble! Thanks to the THOUSANDS of people who purchased it! You made my little book a bestseller on Amazon!
We peaked at #87 overall on Amazon, #13 in urban fantasy. We hit #1 on the urban fantasy charts in Canada, eh? We were a bestseller on the Kobo platform, Barnes & Noble, and I am super thankful.
Now as of this writing, Tail & Trouble is available ONLY on the Kindle format. This is because it is now available on Kindle Unlimited. If you are a member of KU, you can read all the books you want for a monthly fee.
Thanks again for your support! And if you like the book, please make sure to review it on Amazon or Goodreads!
Happy to announce that dates have been set for my virtual book tour! The fabulous Sage's Blog Tours are handling all the details.
So what is a virtual book tour? Well, it's like a regular book tour. I'll be interviewed by a number of websites and book bloggers and I'll get a lot of reviews posted on blogs that cover fantasy and SF writing. And I don't have to deal with traveling. Or driving. Or airports.
If you would like to be a part of the tour, let me know in the comments! There are still open dates for you if you have a book blog or review site.
Hope to see you there!
So a little while ago my publisher, Lynn McNamee, had a neat idea. Since adult coloring books are a huge seller these days, she thought it would be cool to create some color-your-own versions of the covers of Red Adept books. Maybe for a giveaway, maybe as website content.