__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

ISSUE 52 | NOVEMBER 2020


*Made by request for eligible ads


note from the e d itor N

ovember has come quickly, this year has flown by. Unfortunately, the weather changes, the mood in my country, the upcoming elections and other stress factors have blown in some super headaches that are trying to be migraines. So the issue will be later than normal, but for transparency - I’m letting you know. It also slowed my reading to a crawl. The fiction world lost another author. Rachel Caine, author of over 50 books, lost her battle with cancer. Our hearts go out to her friends, families and readers. I remember reading her Morganville Vampire series, and it was a fun series that was original and hard to put down. The author interviews done in this magazine were done before November, and Jade Lee talks about meeting Rachel Caine. Here at Uncaged, we are saddened with the loss. With the pandemic still ongoing, I hope everyone will be able to find a way to still enjoy the holidays, in whatever way you celebrate. Uncaged Book Reviews readership is still up dramatically. New readers are finding the magazine and discovering new authors. Uncaged will continue to bring the best possible content as usual. We will be continuing with the “Buy 2, Get 1” promotion we’ve been running. It really does help from a marketing standpoint, to have an advertisment run three months in a row - to repeat in the readers mind. You don’t just see a commercial on TV one time and remember it, right? So we will continue to try and provide the best bang for your buck and get the most eyes we can on your work. Uncaged is supported through advertisements, but the prices will not increase in 2020.

You may now fill out a form on the Requested Reviews Page on the website for your book to be on list for a review. I cannot guarantee a review date for the book, but it will remain on the lists. The tables on the Review page will be revamped in the coming weeks. The rest of 2020 is full for Feature Authors but you can also fill out a form on the Reviews/Feature Info Page to request a Feature in 2021. Put in your top 3 choices and this is normally first come/first serve, but I do move around months to keep a good selection of genres in each issue. Soon I will also put up forms for Catch Up Features - these are for past feature authors that have a new book releasing, and we can do a shorter feature, and also a Short Story Submission form. Any author submitting an approved short story receives a full page ad in the same issue. The new forms for Catch Up and Short Story Submissions will be added very soon. Enjoy the November 2020 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews and stay safe and healthy!

X cyrene 4| uncagedbooks.com


contents featureauthors R. Scott Boyer 12 fantasy/metaphysical 28

P.G. Shriver young adult fantasy

Issue 52 | November 2020

FangFreakinTastic 102

Sarah King young adult fantasy

catchup McFionn 20 Tessa Tessa McFionn is back with her third book in The Rise of the Stria series and what will come next.

38

Suzy Vadori

86

48

Jade Lee

authors and their pets

64

Mary Lancaster

young adult fantasy

historical romance

58

Craig DiLouie

Craig returns with his new psychological thriller, The Children of Red Peak

Uncaged’s Feature Authors introduce you to their devoted writing buddies, and the devotion goes both ways.

historical romance

76

A.J. McCarthy

82

Jenna Greene

94

Jerry Harwood

mystery

dystopian

urban fiction

sneak peek Stewart 26 Blaine Hourglass Socioeconomics

promotion special

03 2020 Uncaged Special Promo 4 7 110 116 120

Note from the Editor Contributors|Partnerships Uncaged Reviews FangFreakinTastic Reviews Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews

Uncaged on Instagram

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

5


Contributors | Partnerships

Follow Uncaged on Facebook

Paranormal lover’s rejoice. Uncaged review contributors.

A blog for horror fans. Uncaged review contributors.

A little bit of everything. Uncaged review contributors.

If you’d like your banner here, please email me at UncagedBooks@gmail.com Issue 52 | November 2020 |

7


upcomingconventions Starting in October, Uncaged will start listing conventions for 2021 since so many have been cancelled or modified for 2020. Uncaged will watch for any cancelations or modifications for the 2021 season.

Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference April 10, 2021 Clark, NJ http://www.libertystatesfictionwriters.com/conference/

Coastal Magic Convention - VIRTUAL February 18-21, 2021 https://coastalmagicconvention.com/

Book Lovers Con April 8-11, 2021 Orlando, FL https://www.bookloverscon.com/

Interracial Romance Author’s Expo April 22 -24, 2021 Daytona Beach, FL https://www.irauthorsexpo.com/

8| uncagedbooks.com |

BookCon TBA, New York City, NY https://www.bookcon.com/Home/

Lori Foster’s Reader & Author Get Together (RAGT) June 2–5, 2021; West Chester, OH http://readerauthorgettogether.com/

​ oas & Tiaras Afternoon Tea B June 12, 2021; Allen, TX https://www.eventbrite.com/e/boas-tiaras-afternoontea-with-kristan-higgins-tickets-81400355655


feature authors

R. Scott Boyer

fantasy | young adult

P.G. Shriver

Suzy Vadori


r . S cott boyer

S

cott Boyer grew up in Santa Monica, CA and graduated from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley in 1996. In 2008, he became fascinated with the idea of blending young adult fantasy with new-age/spiritual fiction and spent the next six years crafting his first novel, Bobby Ether and the Academy, which won critical acclaim for blending Eastern spiritual philosophies with a fun, fast-paced adventure style.

Stay Connected

rscottboyer.com Uncaged welcomes R. Scott Boyer Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! You just released, Temple of Eternity, the second book in the Bobby Ethers series. Can you tell readers more about this series? My pleasure, thanks for having me! It’s a pleasure to write for your audience. I have been a member of the Uncaged Facebook group for several years and just started following you guys on social media. I absolutely love hearing about new books and appreciate the opportunity to be one of them :). The Bobby Ether series has three main themes. 12 | UncagedBooks.com


First, it’s full of fun, fast-paced young adult adventure. The closest comparisons are Percy Jackson and Harry Potter in terms of demographic and appeal. Also like those other series, Bobby Ether is for the big kid in all of us. Second, the series aims to blur the lines between contemporary fantasy and reality. Similar to spiritual fiction such as The Alchemist, Life of Pi, and The Celestine Prophecy, each of my stories involves paranormal phenomenon rather than pure magic. I describe an energy called “Anima,” which is Latin for “breath of life.” It is the universal life energy that connects all living things and allows for the phenomenon in the books, including communion with animals, clairvoyance, auras, Chi, spirits/ ghosts, heightened instinct/intuition, remote viewing, etc. Lastly, the series reimagines various ancient myths while simultaneously using history, legend, and location as central characters. While this last theme is not as evident in the first book, Temple of Eternity reimagines the Fountain of Youth and what it means to live forever. Book three delves into the Great Sphinx at Giza and the predecessors to Egyptian civilization (No spoilers!). Book four involves the Great Library of Alexandria and the era involving Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. Uncaged: How many books are you planning for this series? Can they be read as standalones? At this point, I anticipate that there will be seven books in the series, maybe more. Book three has been completed for quite a while. Taking place largely in Egypt, it dives into the past and explores several well-known legends. It also introduces us to the leader of the Core (the main antagonist group in the series) for the first time. As such, it sets the table for much more to come. Book four involves two storylines. One takes place in the past. The other is a modern-day adventure where we learn about the Core’s science experiments and get revelations about some of the key Issue 52 | November 2020 |

13


| FEATURE AUTHOR | antagonists in the series. Each of these adventures builds on the previous, but I’ve also worked hard to make them stand-alone stories, with a neutral starting point so that new readers can get on board at any point and not feel like they’ve missed half the ride. I also do my best to bring people up to speed at the start of each book so that having read them is helpful, but not strictly necessary. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I am still trying to wrap up book four. It’s been a long process with constant interruptions during the publication of books one and two. Bobby’s adventures in ancient Alexandria have been written. However,his friends, who are off in Odessa chasing the Core, have been at it for quite a while. I know where that story is headed, I just need to find time to finish it. In the meantime, I also have lots of ideas for other books and short stories. The project I want to work on the most, involves a group of kids who get involved at their local shelter. It’s sort of a Bobby Ether/Anima spin off, with the kids using metaphysical abilities to solve problems and help others. So far, I have about sixty pages written but I’ve set it aside to focus on Bobby and his friends. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Have you had to change any book promotion plans because of it? Actually, not much has changed for me. About three years ago, I bought a condo and started working from home. The goal was to eliminate office expenses and set my father up for semi-retirement. Now it seems like I was clairvoyant! When Covid-19 hit, I didn’t have to change a thing. I was even getting my groceries delivered already. One thing that did chang is that I now have access to a cabin in Lake Arrowhead (about two hour drive from my home in Los Angeles). That place is great! When14 | UncagedBooks.com

ever I need a change of pace, I just pack a bag, grab my dog, and off we go. :) Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Without a doubt, Stephen King. Truth is that I don’t particularly like horror, but Stephen King has written much more than just horror over the course of his career. Some of my all-time favorite movies are Stand By Me, Shawshank Redemption, and the Green Mile. I’ve also read his book On Writing, and listened to numerous podcasts/youtube videos. I love his dedication and commitment to the craft of writing. His love for storytelling and passion for literature (not just his own) is inspiring. What I love most is his commitment, passion, and discipline for the craft of writing. It’s not something he takes for granted or feels entitled to. He works hard and, as such, sets an example for his fellow writers on how to be a professional. I want that discipline and passion. Ideally, I can inspire a future generation of writers as well. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began?


Absolutely. Especially when I first started writing, my characters would go off on all sorts of side adventures that required heartbreaking discipline to delete. Characters also tend to give long speeches when I am first discovering their personalities. I call it “herding cats” when I have to wrangle all of the tangents and diatribes to keep the plot flowing. For example, there is a sixty-page section that got edited out of book one that involved Bobby and his friends running around in the archives below the Jade Academy. They end up in some old forgotten crypts and Jinx gets a really good scare. That scene was pure pleasure to write and delightfully fun. Unfortunately, it wasn’t central to the main story and thus ended up getting cut. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I occasionally watch TV or a movie, but the main thing I do to relax is take a walk with my dog and a good audio book. I know that probably sounds boring and cliché, especially for an author, but I grew up on books and still love to discover new stories. Absorbing another author’s narrative style and exploring their imagination is inspiring to me. Plus, I believe that a good writer reads (or listens) more than they write. Some of my top authors to listen to include Neil Gaiman, Andy Weir, Stephen Fry, and Patrick Rothfuss. They’re all amazing storytellers! Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I measure success in many ways. The main goal I have as an author is to be able to write full time. Not as easy as it sounds! On a deeper level, I want to both entertain and inspire people with my stories. If I make people feel something in a way that truly impacts their lives, then that, to me, is success. I also derive deep satisfaction each time a reader tells me they enjoyed one of my books. That may not be success on a grand scale, but it is still intensely gratifying and rewarding.

| R. SCOTT BOYER | Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I have fallen in love with audio books. I spend all day staring at a computer, so it’s great not to have to use my eyes. Plus, I can listen at times when I can’t actually read. I get in roughly an hour of listening every day taking my dog for his walks. Whenever I take a road trip, I get lost in whatever story I am listening to at the time. As we all know, the hours really fly by when you’re absorbed in a good book and there are few times I appreciate that more than when I’m driving. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? There are many great stories still to come in the series. Book one, Bobby Ether and the Jade Academy, lays the foundation with a traditional school of magic storyline. Book two, Temple of Eternity, sets the tone for the series and establishes the tone for the themes discussed in question #1. The rest of the series picks up these themes and runs with them, exploring ancient cultures, history, myths, and legends, all while blending in a unique mix of fantasy and spiritual fiction. More information is available on my website as well as on social media.

Enjoy an excerpt from Temple of Eternity Temple of Eternity R. Scott Boyer Fantasy/Metaphysical Deep in the rain forests of Guatemala, an ancient Mayan temple holds a mythical secret. The legendary Fountain of Youth lies within, but not all myths are fairy tales. The temple ruins have been seized by the Core, a sinister cult determined to Issue 52 | November 2020 |

15


| FEATURE AUTHOR | unlock the mysteries of immortality. When their captured friends are spotted near the temple, Bobby and his cousin Jinx must journey into the dark heart of the jungle to save them. Harnessing their extraordinary abilities, the boys will undertake an epic quest to fulfill a centuries-old prophecy. Cut off from their allies, Bobby and Jinx combat supernatural barriers, raging rivers, and deadly beasts. They’ll face savage natives, vengeful ghosts, and ruthless mercenaries who can conjure a person’s darkest fears. Past and present will collide, with the power of eternity on the line. Can Bobby fulfill the prophecy and lay the temple’s spirits to rest? If not, Bobby and his friends may become permanent inhabitants of the Temple of Eternity.

“We’re only cleared for non-lethal force. Absolutely no explosives or live fire. Can’t risk the noise.” The soldiers saluted as one. “Sir, yes sir.” “Radio silence. I will handle anyone who attempts to engage,” commanded Sandman. “Not a peep. I want a bow on this before they even know we’re here.” “Sir, yes sir.” Sandman nodded in approval and returned their salute. “Get some rest. We roll out at zero three hundred.” ***

From across the ravaged courtyard of the Jade Academy, the Core agent known as Sandman watched the weathered Navajo and his companions head for the mountain trail leading to theforest below. Sandman ducked into the shadows, remaining there until long after the travelers were gone. Then he turned and jogged back down the trail that led to the garden near the cliffs.

Their execution was flawless. In the stillness found only in the dead of night, Sandman and his men crept into the courtyard occupied by the sleeping refugees. The mountain had continued to rumble and shake throughout the night, causing many of the students to have trouble sleeping, especially on the cold hard ground. Sandman sensed those who were still awake as easily as he would a bonfire ablaze in the dark. With a wisp of anima, he sent each person into a slumber so deep that even being lifted and carried wouldn’t rouse them. The children were easy, their minds too poorly trained and undisciplined to shield themselves from his power. Some of the monks were tougher and required several attempts before they succumbed to his hypnotic suggestions.

Hidden back amid the rubble, the soldiers under his command stood at attention. “Are we moving out, sir?” asked one of his men.

One monk in particular kept resisting. Sandman picked his way through the mass of sleeping bodies until he located the monk in question.

Some of the soldiers rose, checking their weapons and equipment. “Mission review,” said Sandman. “Neutralize the monks if necessary. The students are not to be harmed.”

“You must be their leader,” said Sandman. The diminutive monk at his feet twitched, as if he were struggling to break free. He lookedlike an infant thrashing in a crib, restless with nightmares but unable to wake.

“Rules of engagement, sir?” asked another of his soldiers.

Sandman’s soldiers wove through the sleeping crowd. One by one, they picked up the children and carried them down the path to the garden.

Excerpt PROLOGUE

16 | UncagedBooks.com


| R. SCOTT BOYER | There, the ropes he and his men had used to scale the cliff were attached to each child to lower them down the mountain. The process was slow, taking every minute of darkness. Once the sun comes up, the biological imperative to wake will fight against my control, thought Sandman as he turned to the nearest soldier and signaled him to quicken the pace. They lowered the last student shortly before sunrise. Sandman stood in the remaining crowd of sleeping bodies, now nothing but bald, middle-aged men. The baby-faced leader stirred once again, thrashing from side to side. Sandman sent the tiny monk a deep hypnotic suggestion for at least the tenth time, causing the monk to roll over and resume his slumber in silence. No nightmares for you. At least, not yet, thought Sandman. But don’t worry, the nightmare will be real enough when you wake. With a final glance around the clearing, Sandman slipped from the circle and headed down the path to the garden. There, he strapped himself to the harness at the edge of the cliff and began his descent.

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

17


CATC H UP

Tessa McFionn returns to Uncaged to share Book Three in the Rise of the Stria series.


Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! On October 13th, you are releasing the third book in the Rise of the Stria series, A Divine’s Retribution. Can you tell readers more about this book and series? Thank you so much! It’s great to hang out with you and your readers again. I would be delighted to talk about my crazy world! So, The Rise of the Stria series is a Wizard of Oz meets Star Wars epic space opera/ sci-fi romance. It started in To Discover a Divine when our heroine, Evainne Wagner, steps out of the front door of her Boston brownstone and finds herself in the middle of an intergalactic prison break. Lucky for her, she’s rescued by a hunky rebel captain, Kahlym cal Jhuen. Throughout the first two books, they travel the Dantaran galaxy, trying to stay one step ahead of the evil Thrall Emperor who abducted her from Earth believing she is fated to birth for him a race of powerful entities known as Divines. But, she’s fallen hard for the rebel captain and fights at his side. When we last left our band of intrepid explorers, things were pretty dicey and in an attempt to protect Evainne, Kahlym sent her through space back to Earth. Well, needless to say, she’s not very happy about this. With the help of a new character (who will remain nameless for now – he he he), she is able to return to him, but her trust in their relationship is broken. Plus, the Thrall Emperor is getting desperate and his assassins continue to hound Evainne, Kahlym and their tight-knit crew. There are new characters, both good and bad, plus the favorites that everyone has come to love. In my mind, it was going to be the end of the series, but my characters had other plans. So, there will be many more stories from the Seventh Quadrant. Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed the way you are marketing your work? How has it changed your life in other ways? Ugh. The current plague. Well, for one thing, all my in-person events were canceled, as well as all other networking opportunities. So, needless to say, it’s been a quiet few months. I was hoping to get so much writing done when I first heard I was going to have a three-week Spring Break from my teaching job. You

know, time to myself to write and relax. However, once three weeks turned into thirteen weeks, I had a tough time getting inspired to write. But luckily, my characters were still excited to tell their stories. As to marketing, I’m still reaching out on social media, namely Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, plus trying my hand at ads on various platforms. It’s all just so surreal. Personally, I was putting all my skills in preparing for the zombie apocalypse. All these masks and social distancing? So was not on my radar at all. But all joking aside, I am hoping for some return to normalcy soon. As you may know, in my day job, I’m a teacher and well, trying to get middle and high school students engaged through a screen is not the easiest thing there is. The writers are doing pretty good; the dancers? Yeah, you try doing a time step on carpet. But they are such troopers and they still inspire me to be bring my A game each and every day. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Ooh, what to tell, what to tell. I actually have several new projects in the works. The fifth book in the Guardians series is moving along, where we move down to Louisiana way and watch as our hero, 15th century Spaniard Gabriel de la Vega must face not only the Rogue berserker Bryon Everleigh, but the oncoming hurricane to fight for both the mind and heart of his spiritmate Lyssa Cameron. Super excited to tell this tale! I’ve also got a stand-alone sci-fi that I’ve been tinkering on, plus a whole new series that I have out to an agent. Fingers crossed they like the light and humorous paranormal mystery I’ve created. And I have a short story that I’m looking to stretch into a full-length novel about a haunted lighthouse. So I have many, many more stories to share with the world.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

21


| CATCH UP |

Enjoy an excerpt from A Divine’s Retribution A Divine’s Retribution Tessa McFionn SciFi/Space Opera Standing in front of her brownstone in Boston was the last place Evainne Wagner thought she would ever find herself. Not after she and her soulbond match, Stria Captain Kahlym cal Jhuen, had faced the impossible odds in so many challenges together, the last of which including running from the latest snare of the Thrall Emperor. Determined to return to him, she recruits the aid of her mysterious mentor to return to the Seventh Quadrant and to the man who betrayed her trust.

T

essa McFionn has always had a love of all things unreal. Growing up reading Tolkien, Heinlein, and comic books, playing D&D, and watching Thundarr the Barbarian on Saturday mornings, she was immersed in worlds of magic. When her mother introduced her to Dune and An Interview with a Vampire, she was hooked on romance in speculative fiction, and after discovering Sherrilyn Kenyon, she realized love can share center stage in the story. With an award-winning paranormal romance and a new sci-fi romance series out in the world, she continues to encourage all to believe in magic.

tessamcfionn.com

Desperation and terror had forced Kahlym to send his love far away from the clutches of their approaching enemy. Lashing out in heartbreak and anger, Kahlym had never expected to see his Divine so soon, much less in the company of his long-lost brother. But it seemed fate and prophecy had other plans. To repair the rift between them, he must find the courage within him to trust in her as they scour the galaxy for strong allies and as the price on his head grows. However, the Thrall Emperor Gha’jahn M’Uubair is not willing to part with Evainne without a fight. Calling on his assassins and the remaining Divines still under his thumb, he vows to reclaim his missing prize, no matter the cost. Surrounded by the only family she knows, Evainne once again finds herself entangled in a web of legends and treachery, revealing new gifts and ancient hatreds. As dark forces threaten to tear her world apart, she must risk it all or lose any chance for the future. Excerpt From his safe vantage point outside of the cockpit, Kahlym watched the deep black surrounding Tiamat’s

22 | UncagedBooks.com


| TESSA MCFIONN | Revenge melt away as the bright silver sun of Ontaxa flared to life. Years had passed since he’d seen the black sand beaches and thick forests of his friends’ homeworld. Both his pilot and current co-pilot knew this land better than he did, and he knew his own presence was neither wanted nor needed at the moment. Hovering over the already agitated pair of Ontaxians would not be his best choice. Dhaerin had made his disdain quite clear about Kahlym’s earlier decision to return Evainne to her home, from the moment their ship slipped from Raedynese space. The fading yet still tender bruise on his cheek sat as a bold testament to how eloquently his pilot had made his point. Fists and insults had flown from both of them whenever they stood within arm’s reach of each other since then, their barbs sharp and deadly accurate. But his ship could not have been in better hands, so Kahlym left them to the task of reaching the landing dock while he clawed his way through the thick tension in the narrow confines of the cockpit, still hesitant to speak the necessary apology. “Captain?” He stalled his escape, stunned by the voice he’d avoided for the past few days. “Yes, R’uan?” He wanted to hate R’uan; wanted it desperately. He wanted to blame him for putting the original idea into his head, pointing his finger and screaming about it all being someone else’s fault. Upon reflection of his recent actions, that’s exactly what he’d been doing: cursing and blaming R’uan for his current plight. Yet he couldn’t hate the man for doing what he had been ordered to do. And by you, specifically, you ass. R’uan was his friend, and his friend deserved more than his silence. He turned around and clutched the door jamb for support, glimpsing only the shadowed reflection of sorrowful eyes, a thick, black-and-silver mane hiding the rest of R’uan’s face.

“Dhaer is taking the ship to the closest and strongest transport hub.” The normally deep and resonant voice was nothing more than a whispered hush of air, and Kahlym cringed at the damage his projected rage had wrought. After his much-needed talk with his brother, Kahlym now discovered he had much more work to do, with the first bridge to be rebuilt standing before him. Swallowing hard and choking on his pride, Kahlym sighed and placed a hand on R’uan’s shoulder. “Thank you, my friend.” “Friend,” Dhaerin scoffed, muttering under his breath. “That’s rich, coming from you.” Kahlym scowled, a spiteful retort poised on the tip of his tongue. He could let them fall, then curl back into his hole. But they were more than his crewmates; they had all fought and bled, laughed and cried with, and for, each other for far too long. “Just spit it out already,” Kahlym growled. “I screwed up. Is that what you want to hear?” Dhaerin swiveled the suspended grav chair to face him, his orange-and-brown eyes cold, and they held him fast. “It’s a damned good start.” He folded his burly arms across his chest, his angered gaze launching daggers across the narrow space. Kahlym felt like a child standing in front of his father after some imagined slight, and the triggered memory set his teeth on edge. The urge to lash out was dangerously tempting. His pilot, sensing a misstep, relaxed his guarded posture, his stare sliding away. “She’s one of us, Kahl. She didn’t deserve—” “You know as well as I do exactly what would’ve happened to her,” he yelled. “She would’ve been handed over to the emperor, after my father was done with her, and she would’ve been forced to birth the next generation of Divines for him.” He glared at his friend, daring him to object. “You know it, I know it, and she deserved a whole hell of a lot more than that. That’s why Ishtanti placed her in all our paths; we were chosen to protect her, Issue 52 | November 2020 |

23


| CATCH UP | and that’s exactly what I did.” But rage gave way to hollow laughter, and Kahlym shook his head as he released the tight hold on his emotions. “Dhaer, do you think this has been fun for me? I see her face in every shadow and hear her voice even in the silence. I keep expecting her to come around a corner, taking Yhan’tu to task about wearing the regal robes.” And I haven’t slept in my own cabin. That little gem, he kept to himself. After a moment, Kahlym found his voice as well as his courage. “I … I trust your brother to be able to bring her back to us. To all of us. I have to.” He shifted his apologetic stare to R’uan, whose snowflake obsidian eyes sat haunted. “I never should’ve taken my anger out on you, and I hope you can forgive me someday.” Kahlym dipped his chin and moved toward the open hatch. “Kahlym?” R’uan again froze Kahlym in his tracks, although this time, his tone’s familiar confidence had returned. Kahlym looked over his shoulder at his copilot, grateful to see a hint of a smile on his friend’s face. “We’ll get her back, kherdes-xahn, if it’s the last act in this life.” “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that,” Kahlym answered, with a weak grin of his own. “Our miracle is what we seek, and I can’t afford to lose another brother.” “I just want her back so you’ll stop being so much of an asshole,” Dhaerin added, his playful tone returning, before he spun around to maneuver the ship into its final approach pattern. “I thought you were bad before she showed up. Now?” He tsked, shook his head, and chuckled as he followed the glowing beacons pointing them toward the open landing bay. “Come to find out, you only needed to get laid.”

24 | UncagedBooks.com


Blaine Stewart

Hourglass Socioeconomics Hourglass Socioeconomics Blaine Stewart

Hourglass Socioeconomics Principles and Fundamentals outlines the structural framework of a feasible and a thought-out social economic distribution system. Because an entity or nation’s success and continued progress relies on it’s economic input-to-output system, author Blaine Stewart presents a way that facilitates both social and economic growth while minimizing the effects of negative external influence. Economic growth without social sustainability is malignant similar to growth from radiation exposure. The circulation rate of accumulated resources and reciprocal expenditures of a nation characterizes strength and sustainability. A reliable cyclical process allows for movement and distribution of collected resources to and from the citizen population through a funnel of control to maintain continuity and prevent catastrophe or absolution. A simple “trickle point” is insufficient to describe socioeconomics when a fluid dynamic state takes everything into account to pull our system toward the central goal of equilibrium. If our funnel control point is flawed in reason and logic then our system itself will be flawed like a small drop of poison or an undetected super bacteria in a fresh stream sending the system spiraling into collapse unable to turn the hourglass.

sneakpeek A: Knowing that what you wrote has purposeful affect. Q: What book changed your life? A: Not a book. I would suppose 1% of people that answer this question with a book are telling the truth and the other 99% never had anything change their lives. This book is the result of what changed my life. Q: How would you describe your style of writing to someone that has never read your work? A: Technical and scientific without belief to gage understanding. Meaning, math is not something you can’t not believe in. It is only something meant to understand more and more with no end in sight. I rarely contemplate writing a fantastical novel with an ending. Q: What are some of your writing/publishing goals for this year? A: Writing the next word and the next and the next… then looking up to see what time it is. Q: Do you feel that writing is an ingrained process or just something that flows naturally for you? A: Both writing and reading are ingrained just like brewing and consuming a pot of coffee. It takes just the initial effort to learn how and maybe fail once and make a bad pot. But, once you get the grounds right, the amount of water correct and you wait a bit for it to all mix… the first sip wakes you up as something sweet and then yes, everything flows.. that could just be the caffeine though. Q: Can you share your next creative project(s)? If yes, can you give a few details?

What’s the hardest thing about being an author?

A: There are too many swirling in my brain but… continue with my app? If time persists.. Finish volume two? If time persists… build something else in my current line of work in a problem I see? If time persists…

Finding time to actually write and the lingering hope that your writing changes what you are writing about.

Q: Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Q: What is the best thing about being an author?

A: Don’t just read and not apply.

26 | UncagedBooks.com


p. g . shriver Eternity, Time of Dreams and The Lost Prince. She has also published eleven children’s books in the Texas Festivals Series, the Stinker Books Series, the Zoo Me In Series, and the Runt and Arnold Series. She has a few romance novels started as well. Shriver has developed a daily writing habit and sometimes writes based on which character she “feels” most like that day.

B

orn in California, and raised in Minnesota and Texas, P.G. Shriver spent her early years writing poetry and winning poetry contests, while escaping the drama in her own childhood by reading great books for children. Ever since her earliest days, she loved storytelling. The first time she saw her writing published in the local newspaper, at the age of seven, she made the decision to become a published storyteller. Shriver sought her education at the University of Texas, where she studied English, literature, and Education. During the entire process of earning her BA and M.Ed, she never stopped writing and trying to get published. Many of her stories develop from nature. P.G. graduated college and began her career in education, another great world that offered real experiences to humor and delight through children’s books. She watched children interact, bringing to surface her own experiences as a child offering yet more events to include in her writing. P.G.’s first novel, Moon Thief was published in 2010, followed by Paradise Rising, Delaying 28 | UncagedBooks.com

Stay Connected

pgshriver.com Uncaged welcomes P.G. Shriver Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest release, called The Lost Prince is the third book in your YA Fantasy series, The Gifted Ones. Can you tell readers more about this series? Thank you for the interview opportunity. The idea behind this series is a bittersweet tale. Back in 2000, my mother, sister, and myself-- all avid readers-- discussed this idea centering around twelve teenagers with unusual gifts. After losing my sister and oldest niece in 2004, I committed to the completion of the first book, Paradise Rising in 2010. Then, while working on the rough draft of the second book, Time of Dreams, my mother passed in 2011 which halted all writing for several years. Then one morning I woke up and told myself to finish the second and third books for those who were instrumental in the development of the idea. Initially, this trilogy delved into a Christian fantasy plot, then later took a turn into science fiction.


Uncaged: How many books are you planning for this series? What are you working on now that you can tell us about? The Lost Prince is the final book in this trilogy; however, a fan suggested I take the series into the graphic novel genre. I’ve toyed with that idea for a while now. Graphic novels is a new genre for me, but it has peaked my interest since I am an author/ illustrator. Uncaged: You’ve written mostly in the young adult and children’s genres. What motivates you to write in these genres? That’s a good question. Perhaps my life as a reader influenced my decision to write in this area. Growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father sent me to the library often in search of mental relief. As an adult, the most important driving factor of my writing is to leave young readers with hope, laughter, and dreams of a life they may not have. When I read at schools, I find it most rewarding to see the smiles on the faces of the children, or hear the questions from the young adults. I’ve mentored several young adults in their own writing careers as well, which is also very rewarding. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Have you had to change any book promotion plans because of it? Oh, the pandemic… During this difficult time, I have not been able to visit schools, which is a large part of

my promotional work and inspiration. I’ve also scheduled readings at stores. In spite of following the CDC guidelines, I’m currently ill with coronavirus for the second time in a year-- I had it in January 2020. It’s not fun, not your typical head cold, and I wouldn’t want to pass it on to anyone else. With that in mind, my writing career and promotional opportunities have taken a large hit as every author in the world struggles to jump online to reach their readers. Where the overall online book sales have increased, for authors such as myself, sales have decreased. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Don’t laugh… Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe and Dean Koontz. I fell in love with Hemingway’s style of writing when I started college. I found it easy to connect with him as a human being. Poe was twisted, and I would have many questions for him. I’ve always wondered what type of person he was to come up with the characters and ideas for his works. Koontz is my favorite modern day author. I love his characters, most of his stories, and the fact that he loves golden retrievers. Being a dog person myself, I feel connected to Dean Koontz, especially his character Odd Thomas. To me, he’s also the master of descriptive writing. I think we would have the potential to become good friends. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Absolutely! My characters have a mind of their own. I don’t tell my stories; my characters tell their Issue 52 | November 2020 |

29


| FEATURE AUTHOR | stories. Quite frequently, I think I know where my characters are taking the story, only to watch them take an unexpected turn. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Relax? What’s that? Just kidding. I love to sew, so when my writing becomes too much for me to focus on, I retire to the sewing machine. I also love spending time with my family. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success as an author would mean making a living from my writing. Walking through a public place like a mall or a park where people are relaxing with a good book and seeing my book in their hands would be the picture of success for me. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Although I love technology and all the new gadgets invented each year, I still prefer holding an actual book in my hands. I love to hear the sound of the page turning, feel the paper between my fingers, and the placement of a bookmark in the fold. Nothing beats an actual book. As far as reading right now, I have a book recommendation that I am following up on, the Red Rising series. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I want to tell fans that I appreciate them; I appreciate the fact that each of them selected my trilogy to read over the multitude of book choices out there. Without readers and followers, writers like me wouldn’t have a purpose. When I am on social media, which isn’t often these days, I’m usually on Facebook/AuthorPGShriver. I have various other social media platforms on my phone, but I don’t use them as often. 30 | UncagedBooks.com

Enjoy an excerpt from The Lost Prince The Lost Prince P.G. Shriver Young Adult Fantasy A missing mother. An unusual clue. Two superhuman teens against the clock of death… Paradise, Texas. Fourteen-year-old Carmen isn’t sure what happened to her mother; one day she’s helping cook dinner, but the next day, her mother’s missing and Carmen’s fleeing for her life. Burdened with anger that interferes with her unusual power, she takes to the streets with the only clue her mother left behind. But when she encounters a stranger picking through her belongings, she finds herself in a life or death situation. Seventeen-year-old Simon survived a tragedy he doesn’t remember; he doesn’t know how or why he’s on the streets. So when his physical needs overtake him, he’ll do anything to satisfy them, including scavenging a homeless den. And when he discovers a drawing on the cardboard ceiling, it sparks a memory that compels him to help the owner. But with danger lurking in every alleyway and one clue to lead the way, they may not succeed… Can Carmen and Simon discover how their mutual clue connects them before her mother’s life is taken? Excerpt Crouched deep in the closet corner, black spandex clad knees shook with anticipation beneath his calloused hands. He couldn’t believe he was hiding in a closet dressed in his Comic Con costume. If one of his friends


| P.G. SHRIVER | saw him dressed this way now... he shook his head at the thought. Only she could talk him into wearing this costume on a normal day. Of course, she was the only one who knew the truth about him. She thought he was a real superhero. Hmpf! What did she know? She was only seven years old. He could hear her soft footsteps approaching. He’d grown to love her so much this past six months. She was so innocent, so delicate, so happy— and in need of a big brother to protect her from the woes of this world. She’d become the little sister he never had the chance to know. Being her big brother made him feel strong, responsible, loved— in control. Nothing in his life had allowed him those feelings before his new foster parents brought him here. As he squatted there, waiting for his sister to pull the door open, listening to her last few approaching steps, her high-pitched scream startled him from his hiding place. He burst from the closet, panic hidden beneath his masked face. No! No! Not now! His body shook with rage; his jaw muscles swelled as his teeth clenched. Every step became the longest sprint of his life, yet his stride seemed to slow down. Her scream muffled, grew distant, silenced. Noooooooooo! The word flourished deeply within and then rose in crescendo. He wasn’t going to make it. Not this time. By the time he made it to the other room, she would be dead, just like all of the other times. He couldn’t save her. His sense of control was false. He couldn’t stop her death. She thought he was a superhero. The door creaked under his forceful push on the brass knob. She lay there, on the floor of her room, motionless, breathless, colorless. Flames licked the walls, circled the room, and concealed her from his view. From the center of the flames, he heard it, the laugh-

ter, the taunting, the voice of the faceless man. Tears blurred the roaring flames as he relented to his grief. He couldn’t fight it any longer. He wanted to give up. When he finally consigned himself to the thought, another voice called to him, the voice of a girl, “Unite, Gifted Ones!” He peered through the watery flames for her face, for some hope, and there she was across from him in the hot spiraling whirlwind.

The constant drumming grew louder as Jamie woke from the nightmare, the Juniper tree he curled beneath little protection from the heavy drops bouncing and splashing into the already muddy ground. A puddle formed beneath his left side. Water trickled into his right ear through the needled branches above, a tiny waterfall winding its way over his auricle into the ear canal. He could feel the cool December rain building, seeping through the black spandex covering his body. The cape served well to protect him from the cold wind, but did nothing to keep the water away from his skin. What Jamie wouldn’t give for his own clothes and a rain slicker— better yet, a room with a warm bed. Jamie’s conspicuous costume drew too much attention when wandering the crowded streets, especially in small towns like this. He cringed at his foolish decision to flee his home without clothes and supplies. On the plus side, the raindrops masked the hot tears trailing over the bridge of his nose. Some hero! Whenever the recurring nightmare brought him to the ledge of lunacy, a face loomed before him, her face. That sincere, hopeful look was the only image that refocused his thoughts. Thinking about her, he rolled out from under the evergreen and sat upright, allowing the hard rain to wash dirt, leaves and wet needles from his costume. Issue 52 | November 2020 |

31


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Through the curtains of rushing water dripping down either side of his forward bent face, lightning flashed, followed by a roll of thunder so near him the ground vibrated his crossed ankles. He squinted into the pouring rain and silently wished the seeking arms of lightning would find him, strike him, end this nightmare, but he knew that wasn’t possible. He could never escape the endlessness of his lonely world, his life. He’d tried. In spite of the raindrops racing over his cheeks, he wiped at his hot tears. They had left him in charge of her. They had trusted him with her life. Worse, he had trusted them... both of them… his foster parents who said they loved him, wanted to adopt him. Ha! He closed his eyes to the images of the last time he’d seen the only other people he’d loved since his own family. Never again would he trust anyone, love anyone. Long strands of soft, brown hair framed a floating face full of hope. The wavering image pushed through his depression, grief, anger, warning him of his self-pity. “Don’t give up, Jamie!” Her voice fell softly into his thoughts through the heavy drops. It was like she was there, right next to him, speaking directly to him. “You are a hero.” Her translucent image smiled, a bittersweet lift at the corners of her mouth, the pain and loneliness in her eyes so familiar to him. He scoffed, a harsh, ironic chuckle escaping his throat as he scanned the Comic Con costume he donned. “Who are you?” Jamie begged of the brown-haired girl before sobs disarmed his sanity. He gritted his teeth against the drenching rain, then he released a thunderous scream. When Jamie lowered his eyes from the gray, branch parted sky, he noticed a hooded figure in the distance dodging from one tree to another. Jamie squinted through sheets of rain as the figure moved closer, hiding and running. The rain gear looked like the ones he’d seen cops wear in the movies, but it was much shorter. Curling himself into a ball, 32 | UncagedBooks.com

he rolled beneath the Juniper, drew his cape around his body and tugged down a lower limb for camouflage.

“Shut up! Are you trying to get us killed?” Neka whispered harshly into the darkness. “You and that incessant whistling! Sheez!” “I can’t help it. I’m bored. How much longer do we have to wait here? I’m starving, too.” “Ugh! You’re not the only one who’s hungry! Just be quiet.” She mouthed, turning an ear toward the barn door, listening intently for the gruff voice, trying to discern the muffled conversation through cracks in the old wood. Steps. Mumbles. Deep voices. A clearly stated fact, “I know I saw them over here, but there’s no way into this old barn, as far as I can see. Boarded up all the way around.” A young man’s voice, probably not much older than her. He sounded so nice. And cute… She wondered what he looked like. Her back pressed against the stall wall, she closed her eyes imagining his face. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a normal life? Date someone? Someone with a voice like that? She wondered, the face she created hovering in the darkness behind closed lids. Her life had never been normal, but then, considering all she’d seen since her parents’ disappearance, maybe normal wasn’t such a great thing. Slowly she opened her eyes as if the one behind the muted steps on the other side of the wall might catch sight of her slight movement; her muscles stiffened as his shadow passed over a sunlit crack in the wood next to her. An eye, the sliver of an eye. “Too dark to see anything in there. I tell ya’, there’s no way in. Been around it three times.” “A’ight. Let’s call it in and get outta here. He ain’t gonna be happy.” Who? Who’s not going to be happy? The man who tore apart my family, maybe? Two car doors, a quiet engine, and tires crunching on


| P.G. SHRIVER | gravel eased the tension in her muscles. “Is it safe now?” The boy next to her whispered. There were days when his ignorance and arrogance made her want to punch him. “Shh!” She peered angrily in his direction. She’d learned the silence seeming to wrap her in safety was the furthest from safe. Staying low, she crawled to a crack in the wall facing the gravel drive. She couldn’t see the car, but something felt off. Intuition screamed from within, telling her to stay put, someone lurked beyond the wall, waiting for the two of them to slip up. Was it intuition, or paranoia? Following her intuition brought mistakes along the way and those mistakes cost her everything. One had cost her her parents. Her eyes stung with unshed tears as she returned to her spot through musty, dirty, dried hay— each swish surrounding her with the scent of old horse manure. Doubts filled her. As annoying as the boy next to her was, she didn’t want anything to happen to him. He was all that was left of her past, of her life. She had to hold on to her brother, keep him safe. She closed her eyes, inhaled the horse smell, and reached a calming, protective hand toward his knee but felt only dirt. Swearing out a sigh, she searched the darkness for his silhouette before rising to follow him. “Stop!” She raced toward the worn wooden wall of the barn and reached for his arm, but the connection brought an electrically charged pain to her hand, up her forearm, her shoulder, her neck, her brain, then nothing... darkness… her body ripped into tiny pieces, atoms of charged energy exploding into the atmosphere. When she opened her eyes, she stood outside the barn facing wild, overgrown woods. Pressing her back against the barn wall, she shifted her eyes cautiously before breaking the stillness with motion. What if that boy on the outside could still be lurking? Hmm! Might not be a bad thing. Wishful thinking! Nothing happened. The view over her left shoulder revealed nothing but cracks in the old barn wall, a rusting tin roof, empty bird nests in the eves, yet she shivered from head to toe.

Her extremities tingled with the anticipation of being caught. She hated when Nashota became uncontrollable! Her parents should have switched their names, but he was born after she was. No matter, to her the name Neka—meaning “wild goose”—fit his personality better! Ugh! She slipped along the barn wall, side stepped to the corner, and peeked around it. Nothing. Hopeful, anxious lungs deflated like an unknotted balloon. If only she had been correct. If only the one with that voice had remained behind. She would like to see his face. Scanning her torn shirt, worn jeans, and tattered, fringed boots, she combed her fingers through the long dark snarls of waist-length hair and shrugged away the discouraged feeling. She would not want to meet a boy looking like she crawled straight out of a dumpster anyway. Still she wondered about his face, his personality, that one kind eye peering through the crack, the deep sapphire shielded by darkness that blocked daylight. Absently, she stepped away from the barn, her brother yards ahead, whistling like he didn’t have a care in the world. Idiot! He had no fear of anything! Dry grass crackled beneath her feet as she followed the whistling bird toward the woods. Absently her fingertips continued the grooming of her long dark hair and she let her guard down. Snap! The noise followed her; she froze, every muscle ready to run like a startled deer. “Stop right there... Don’t take another step... Turn around.” It was him— the voice from beyond the wall, the eye peeking through the crack, harshly whispered words like a wild breeze blowing into her ears. Joyful mischief filled her; a slight smile touched her lips as she turned coyly. She would see his face.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

33


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “What are you doing?” Carmen fisted her hands and pressed them to her hips. The force of her motions swung long, dark corn rows over her left shoulder. Anger deepened her delicate, caramel complexion as she prepared to fight for her belongings. “I said, what are you doing?” Her voice intimidated the thief into glancing over his shoulder. She was tiny for having such a dominant voice… and beautiful beneath the anger. Too bad she’s so young, he thought as he pivoted, empty turnedup palms facing her. “I was looking for something to eat, okay? I haven’t eaten in two days. There’s nothing out there… nobody’s willing to help me.” Her dark eyes squinted and scanned. Was he telling the truth, or was he just another homeless thief looking for valuables to sell for drugs or alcohol? He didn’t look homeless. His clothes were too new to the streets. No matter, this bag wasn’t her real bag. This bag was a decoy to catch the thief who stole her mother’s teardrop pendant— worth more sentimentally than monetarily as they would learn when they went to pawn it. “Please, I’m really dizzy. I need food, water. Do you know where I can find some?” he pleaded. Carmen almost felt sorry for him, but she’d lived on the streets long enough that her nerves steeled her emotions. Nobody would take her belongings, again. Everything in her bag was all she had left of her parents, her family, her home. As she eyed the young man before her, his knees buckled beneath him and he crumbled to a heap in the dirty alley. “Hey! Hey, are you messin’ with me? You better not be fakin’ it!” No answer. No movement. Carmen tentatively moved toward him. She pushed his shoulder with her worn boot. “Hey, 34 | UncagedBooks.com

you okay?” No response. He must have been telling the truth. She felt his neck for a pulse, found one. Lifting his hair, she rested her palm on his forehead. She lightly pinched the skin on his arm and counted to three. Definitely dehydrated. Compassion overpowered her own self-preservation code; she would have to share her food before it was too late for him. In spite of the horror in her world, Carmen wanted to believe that everyone still had a good side she could coax out, but dark, muddy green filled the world. Yet, when she first glimpsed this guy, she’d seen gray, splotches of dark gray. Even so, she knew she couldn’t trust the colors anymore. Gripping the young man at his armpits, she began dragging him toward her temporary home. He wasn’t light for his size, but she had strength beyond her size. Once inside the mass of pallets, crates, and cardboard, she shrugged loose the bag on her back, unzipped it, and removed a can of chicken broth. It was her last can, one of the many items she’d taken the night she left. “It’s all I got, but it will be the best thing for him.” She told herself, propping his head on a mildew scented, worm eaten blanket. Using the church key on her mother’s keyring, she punched two holes in the can, one larger, one smaller. She caressed the old house key between thumb and forefinger, forcing the brief thought of loss from her mind. She lifted his head with one hand and slacked his jaw with the other, then poured a bit of cold, fatty broth into his mouth— not enough to drown him, but enough to stimulate his taste buds, hopefully wake him from his faint. A yellow blob of fat escaped the corner of his mouth, traveled down his chin. His mouth closed; his tongue and throat worked together to bring the liquid downward. His eyes flickered, opened, stared warily at the cardboard above him.


| P.G. SHRIVER | “Where am I?” His unfocused eyes found her pretty, deep, dark gaze shrouded by long curling lashes, the smooth caramel face of a young girl, the can of chicken broth. “Thank you!” He managed a weak smile, his lids falling closed, again.

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:

“Yeah, just don’t get any ideas. You’re not stayin’. This is my dive. Took me a long time to put these crates together, find enough plastic to keep the rain out.” Her eyes warmly scanned the interior, then coldly returned to his face. She offered more broth. He forced open his eyes and drank it slowly. Elbows bent to push his torso upward as he scooted to lean into the exterior wall of the building serving as one side or her shelter; he took the can from her as he straightened against the brick wall. “Hey, I can’t argue. It’s a great place for a pretty, little girl to hide from the masses of bad people out there!” He joked weakly. “Don’t you be gettin’ any ideas! And I ain’t little. I’m fourteen!” She argued. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, fourteen. I’m,” he frowned, confusion filling him, “lost.” Leaning into the brick wall behind him, he stuck his right hand out to her. She refused it. “Just drink your broth— slowly— then get out.” She sat back, watching his every move. “Yes, ma’am!” He saluted. Tipping the can to his lips, he tilted his head back... and fumbled the half empty can when his eyes viewed the makeshift ceiling. The map, or flowchart, or whatever she would name it, reflected a memory, and there was little need to study it. “Who are you?” He lowered the rescued can to his leg, but his eyes never left the ceiling. “N-O-Y-B! And stop lookin’ at my stuff!” She raised her hands to block his view. “N-O… oh, your business, yeah, okay— no, you don’t understand.” Rolling onto his left hip, he dug a finger and thumb into his back pocket to remove a folded, heavily worn paper. After setting the can of broth aside, he pulled the delicate corners apart with care. Holding the paper corners gently, he crossed his forearms flipping the drawing toward her. Issue 52 | November 2020 |

35


S

su z y va d ori

uzy is a Book Coach, Editor, Public Speaker and the Calgary Bestselling Author of The Fountain Series (The Fountain, The West Woods, Wall of Wishes). This fantastical Young Adult Series has received two Aurora Nominations for Best Young Adult Novel. She is represented by Naomi Davis of Bookends Literary Agency. Suzy lives in Calgary, Canada with her husband and three children and is an involved member in the writing community. She is a Program Manager for Calgary’s When Words Collide (WWC), teaches writing at Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society, and is a touring member of the Young Alberta Book Society. Suzy is also the founder of WriteIt! creative writing programs in schools. Her book coaching business grew from writers coming to her for writing tips, editing, marketing advice and motivational support on their projects. She works with writers at all stages, in Children’s (Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult), Adult Fantasy/Sci Fi and Nonfiction Business Books. Suzy is pursuing her Advanced Book Coach Certification from Jennie Nash’s Author Accelerator. Suzy speaks to youth and adult audiences across Western Canada about how literacy can unlock doors and help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be.

Stay Connected

suzyvadori.com 38 | UncagedBooks.com


Uncaged Welcomes Suzy Vadori Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest book, Wall of Wishes released in June. This is the third book in The Fountain series. Can you tell readers more about this series? The Fountain Series is about sixteen-year-old Ava, who discovers a mysterious fountain in the woods near her boarding school in New England. Fueled by anger at Courtney, who is in her way at every turn, she throws a coin into the fountain and wishes Courtney had never existed. When she returns to school, Courtney is gone. And everything about Ava’s life has changed, even her own family. She has to find out about the magic of the school and the history of her family to try to make it right. The three books in the series center around the wishes students make on the fountain and dealing with the consequences of getting what they want. It’s got mystery and romance, and is lots of fun. Uncaged: How many books are you planning on for this series? Wall of Wishes is the last book in the series. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I have two YA projects that I hopefully will have news about soon! Uncaged: You are also a Book Coach. Can you explain what that means and what you do? A Book Coach is like having a personal trainer for your writing life. I help writers get the book that’s exploding in their minds onto the page by providing project management, manuscript editing, and emotional support on their journey. I meet writers where they’re at, whether they’re new Issue 52 | November 2020 |

39


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

40 | UncagedBooks.com


to writing or a pro. I’ve been fortunate to have a community of writers who’ve helped me on my journey. There’s nothing I love more than sharing what I’ve learned and helping writers make their dreams into reality. Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed your life? How have you changed the marketing of your books this year? Going into 2020, I was booked solid with speaking at conferences, schools and events. When the pandemic hit, these plans disappeared overnight. This year, I’ve been able to take on more Book Coaching and Editing work, shortening the waiting list I usually have! It’s been a blessing in disguise, because I love working with writers on their books.

| SUZY VADORI | looking forward to hitting the road together again someday soon! Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I always knew I would write a book one day. But I never thought writing could be a job. I am wildly thankful that I’ve been able to turn my love of writing into a fulfilling career. I’d say that is success.

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Meeting Gordon Korman is on my bucket list. Hearing that he wrote his first books as a teenager inspired me when I was in grade school. I wrote lots of half books in those years, but didn’t finish my first full length novel until I was on maternity leave with my third child many years later. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began?

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now?

Yes! Especially Ms. Krick in The Fountain Series. She’s the quirky English teacher who’s as old as time. I had no idea she was going to perform a skating routine for her students when I outlined Wall of Wishes. It kind of came out of nowhere, but it fit her off-the-wall personality, so I let her do it.

All of the above! Between client manuscripts, books on writing craft and books I read for fun, I read on average 3 books per week. Sometimes more. This week I read three unpublished manuscripts – one Middle Grade Fantasy, one Adult Urban Fantasy, and one Nonfiction Business Book.

Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?

Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

I have three kids and my hubby and I spend lots of time with them traveling to and from rinks for hockey and ringette. I also love swimming, and being by water. We’re a family who loves to travel, so this year with the pandemic keeping us home has been different. We’re

I want to say THANK YOU to readers everywhere! No matter what you love to read, writers appreciate you! You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Issue 52 | November 2020 |

41


| FEATURE AUTHOR | Twitter, or subscribe to my Inspired Writing Newsletter to get regular tips on writing and writing life here https://wordpress.us16.list-manage.com/subs cribe?u=913afe445448244349c3977f5&id=e360 1a1080

Enjoy an excerpt from Wall of Wishes Wall of Wishes Suzy Vadori Young Adult Fantasy Save the fountain or risk being erased. Hidden deep in the woods is a fountain that has granted St. Augustus students’ wishes for nearly a century, including the wish responsible for Ava’s very existence. When she learns that the woods will soon be destroyed to make way for a new road, Ava must do whatever it takes to save the fountain, or risk her own life being erased. New girl Courtney knows more about the school’s magic than she’s letting on and has something to gain from the fountain’s destruction. Joining forces with Courtney seems the only way to stop the road, but Ava and Coutney share a thorny past. Trusting her is impossible, but if she doesn’t, Ava could disappear forever. Excerpt CHAPTER ONE Ava I dragged my hand along the cold stone of the St. Augustus hallway. The walls held secrets. Secrets I’d unleashed with my own sel ishness. I’d made a careless wish that I’d carry with me forever. My 42 | UncagedBooks.com

hand shook as it trailed behind me. I wish that St. Augustus had never heard of Courtney or her family. The wish I’d made in the fall was never far from my thoughts. It colored every day I was here and I wanted to be free of it. My stomach churned. The feeling had followed me home at Christmas break. Or, at least to the home in my new reality. The main building’s hallways creeped in circles. I’d taken the long way to meet up with Ethan, who’d told me all about his great New Year’s ski trip over text. I sighed. One day soon my guilt would stop gnawing at me from the inside out. Wouldn’t it? Who would I be if I’d never found the fountain? The question haunted me. I wouldn’t be the captain of the swim team. I might not even be dating Ethan and that I really couldn’t imagine. He’d been my rock through all of this. It had been four months since my wish and although every day I wondered what alternate reality might have played out, I’d stopped hoping I could undo it. It had been too long. I was stuck. The din of the foyer buzzed in my ears. Kids were laughing and hugging their New Year’s greetings in slow motion around me. Dull winter light spilled in through the tall lead-lined windows, casting shadows on the ornate ceiling frescos. I’d rehearsed this moment on the plane ride, although I couldn’t keep the inevitable from happening. I closed my eyes. As much as I wanted to see Ethan, Courtney might be here, in the foyer. I knew she’d been accepted to St. Augustus this semester. She was coming back. An agreeable Courtney. One whose dad hadn’t come here for school and hadn’t helped my dad graduate. A Courtney I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. One I might be friends with, if circumstances were different. Despite the fountain’s power, I hadn’t kept Courtney away forever. She’d come anyway, a year and a half later than she should have, yet she’d come. I shuddered to think what this place might do to her. What it had done to her before. Would she become the Courtney I’d once known, in another life, whose green eyes were lecked with ice? My gut writhed as I searched for Ethan’s dark shock of hair in the foyer. He’d said I’d erased history, which he didn’t think was a big deal. But it was. My ists clenched at my sides. I was trapped in a loop I couldn’t break out of. “Ava!”


| SUZY VADORI | And then Courtney was there, weaving her way through the crowd of students. The sight of her red waves of hair pushed the breath from my lungs. I wasn’t ready. I might never be ready. Every nightmare I’d had over the break bundled themselves into a smiling, unassuming Courtney. I sti led the urge to turn and run. It wouldn’t help anyway. Besides, this Courtney didn’t deserve that. Her curls bounced on her shoulders as she closed the distance between us. My lungs were on ire. I might never take another normal breath again. “We can get out of here, if you want?” Ethan’s voice was at my shoulder. His hand on the small of my back was a lifeline. I wanted to take it. Alarms went off in my head, clanging their imaginary bells against my eardrums. My feet stayed rooted to the slate loor. I couldn’t speak. Ethan slipped his arm around my waist, giving me strength. Courtney smiled so wide her back teeth were visible, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. A montage of time-travel movies lashed through my mind, almost overwhelming my neural networks. My path was about to collide with Courtney’s. There might be ireworks. Explosions. That was the irst rule of mixing alternate timelines, wasn’t it? It was all wrong and she had no idea. Telling her was out of the question. She’d never understand. My knees wobbled. Ethan’s grip around my waist tightened. “You met her before, at the swim meet, remember?” Ethan reminded me, in a low voice, as he spun me toward him. “The fountain’s granted dozens of wishes going back almost a hundred years and the world hasn’t imploded yet. Nothing bad is going to happen.” I studied his gleaming white running shoes. I didn’t need to look at his face to know his mouth turned up in a half-laugh. He found the humor in every situation. I loved that about him. “I’m Courtney. We met at the swim meet last fall.” I turned to face a bright-faced Courtney, who had her hand out to shake mine. She was introducing herself. I wanted to scream. When I didn’t move to take her hand, she dropped hers. Her smile fell with it. “Say something,” Ethan whispered in my ear. He gave me a gentle nudge in the back, prodding me forward. Goose lesh crawled up my spine. Etiquette dictated that I should shake her hand, but my arms were pinned to my sides. Courtney’s forehead creased in a frown. I shrugged

away from Ethan’s protective shadow, steeling my legs. What was the worst that could happen if I ran out of here right now, effectively ending our interaction? “Have I interrupted something?” asked Courtney, looking between Ethan and me. “Not at all,” Ethan said. He took Courtney’s hand and shook it, using an exaggerated pumping motion. “You look very familiar,” he said in an affected accent, featuring some sort of southern twang. I nudged him in the ribs. What was he doing? He’d met her in her own yard. He’d gone looking for her in Boston after I’d wished her away. Was he going to pretend that was a coincidence? An accent was a thinner disguise than Superman’s Clark Kent glasses. “Oh?” Courtney blinked at him without recognition. I narrowed my eyes. Ethan was a tough guy to forget, but maybe my lens was colored. “Coach Laurel told me to ind Ava. That’s you, right?” Courtney smiled at me less brightly than she had before. “I just transferred from Boston. I swim. I mean, I swam there and I’d like to swim here.” I was frozen to the spot, watching her sputter. “I get that the team was chosen in the fall, so I’d be happy as an alternate for the rest of the season. Coach said it would be up to the captain if I got to swim in meets. You’re the captain, right?” Her upper lip twitched as she spoke. Everything about this interaction was weird. A shiver ran through me. This was a chance to start again, with the slate wiped clean. I should jump at the chance. I stared at her face, her skin pale and lawless, with an orderly splash of ginger freckles dotting her nose. Even her strawberry colored eyelashes were unassuming. She waited for my answer, her nose crinkled. She was going to think there was something wrong with me if I kept staring at her. Maybe there was something wrong with me. I reached for the heat of Ethan’s hand, steadying myself. What was I supposed to say? Of course, you can have your spot back, Courtney. It’s actually rightfully yours. You were supposed to be team captain too, before I wished you away. So, you can have that Issue 52 | November 2020 |

43


| FEATURE AUTHOR | back too. No harm done. Can you ever forgive me? Instead of saying any of those things, I let out an odd squeaking grunt, which sent Courtney’s eyebrows up into her hairline. “If you let me swim, I’ll earn it, I promise. I don’t expect special treatment.” Her green eyes shifted from me to Ethan, then back again. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. How was I going to see her every day? Shame roiled in my stomach. Shame for what I’d done. She could never ind out. “I hear your dad’s a state senator,” Ethan piped up. My eyes widened at his left ield comment. Was he as thrown as I was, for once? Courtney said she didn’t want special treatment. Did she think I cared about who her dad was? What I had on my mind was much bigger than that. Ethan’s lippant tone did nothing to calm the storm that swirled inside me, threatening to blow. Was he buying me time? I dropped his hand. “He is. I’m sorry, have we met?” Courtney folded her arms. “I think you and I spoke once, when I was visiting Boston,” Ethan said, grinning like he’d just delivered the punchline to a joke. I swatted him in the leg. I wanted to get out of the foyer, but if I left who knew what he would say, how much he’d give away. “Did we meet on the street, in front of my house?” Her face brightened. “You didn’t say you went to St. Augustus. I would remember that.” “Yes, well - you never asked.” Ethan’s smile washed over me without easing me the way it usually did. “And you never called me,” she chided. Bile spiraled up the back of my throat. I imagined puking all over her crisp St. Augustus hoodie. She’d probably bought it at the school store that day. I hadn’t asked what Ethan and Courtney had talked about when he’d met her in Boston. But she’d given Ethan her number and had waited for him to call. She lashed a warm smile his way. A hot lush lared into my cheeks. My hand shot out to take his, more irmly this time. “I’ll talk to Coach Laurel,” I said, my voice tight. “We have to go.” “Bye!” Ethan waved to her as I tugged him away. I didn’t wait to see Courtney’s face. “What was that about?” Ethan asked once we were 44 | UncagedBooks.com

safely out of the foyer. I continued to pull at his hand, leading him to the breakfast bar in the cafeteria. Temper ran through my blood. Food might help me think. I let go of him to slice a multi-grain bagel, running a jagged knife back and forth as the bread ripped apart in my hands. Ethan stood behind me with his backpack slung over his shoulder. Spilled cereal crunched under my feet as I moved to the toaster and dropped my quarry in. “I was only having a little fun,” Ethan said. “I wasn’t really going to call her, you know that, right?” “It’s not like we were dating then.” I singed the tips of my ingers pulling the bagel from the toaster before the halves had popped. I stuck the wounded ingers in my mouth to cool them. “Are we dating now?” Ethan’s question stopped me in my tracks. I pulled my ingers clear of my lips, wiping them on a napkin. Ethan and I had spent every minute we could together after we’d found the wall of wishes. After we’d shared a kiss, under the trees. My core tingled at the memory. I’d had a boyfriend back home and I’d put the brakes on things with Ethan until I could sort things out. It only seemed fair. We’d hung out as friends. But I’d looked after things at home over Christmas break. Things with Lucas hadn’t been right for a while. Ethan was the one I wanted to be with. I thought it was what he wanted too. Around us, there were shouts of reunion everywhere, scraping across my eardrums. The irst time Ethan and I had seen each other since we’d been back at St. Augustus was in the foyer, with Courtney. “I ended things with Lucas.” My hands hadn’t stopped shaking since leaving the foyer. I told Ethan I was going to do it. I thought it was obvious that I had, even though I hadn’t told him it was done. The conversation I’d had with Lucas was still raw, grating against something inside me. He’d tried to convince me to give our relationship more time, to work on it with him. I’d almost caved. But he couldn’t know what my time at St. Augustus had been like. What I’d been through with Ethan at my side. There was no going back. I wasn’t the same person I’d been before. My shared history with Lucas hadn’t been enough to carry me through the darkest moments I’d ever experienced. The trust we’d built through our years as friends had crumbled like a house of cards once we’d


| SUZY VADORI | been apart. Once I’d encountered the fountain. “I’m sorry. I’m sure it was hard,” Ethan said. “And I don’t want to rush anything.” My heart raced. Had Ethan changed his mind? “Don’t you want us to date?” I asked. “Yes, of course,” he said in a rush, taking my shaking plate from me. “Okay, then.” Was it as simple as that? I wasn’t in a hurry to ramp things up between us. They were good the way they were. Really good. I didn’t have much more to give. There was a lot on my mind. I followed Ethan down the aisle between the long tables in the cafeteria to our regular spot. He pulled out a chair for me and I eased myself into it. “Look Ava, Courtney’s supposed to be here. She’s going to swim, just like before your wish. We can’t reverse it all, although at least some of it will return to normal. We can return to normal.” We could go on with our lives. It’s what he wanted. What I wanted too. But it wasn’t that simple. Everything. That’s what the wish had changed. Absolutely everything. My dad had been an engineer before my wish. Now he ran a construction crew and lived with my Aunt Mia and Uncle Chuck instead of the home I’d grown up in. I sighed. We were stuck in a loop that replayed itself. It stretched all the way back to our parents. “Do you ever think about my dad’s wish?” I asked. “If he hadn’t made my mom fall in love with him, maybe she would have married your dad.” “Then the two of us wouldn’t exist.” Ethan’s words were uneven. “We wouldn’t be here right now, having this conversation. But we do exist and we’re here, starting the New Year together. Everything is as it should be.” Frustration bubbled through his words. His lips were pulled into a serious line that was out of character for him. I wasn’t trying to be dif icult. I was just sharing the bleakness running through my mind. “Save the West Woods!” A screeching voice rattled through the cafeteria, turning heads. “What’s the old bat want now?” Ethan muttered. A wild-eyed Ms. Krick loomed over our table, waving a handful of pale blue sheets of paper. Her gray bun was pulled so tight her cheeks were taut. She pushed a bundle of them into my hands. SAVE THE WEST WOODS was printed in black across the top of irst page. I lipped through the stack. They were all

the same. “We need every voice,” Ms. Krick said. She wore a drab tweed skirt suit, her wrinkled white blouse tucked in at the waist. She was like a student, dressed up as Ms. Krick for Halloween with her every quirk exaggerated. “Happy New Year, Ms. Krick.” Ethan slipped into conversation with our least favorite teacher, who had been at St. Augustus so long our parents had her as a teacher. “Why do we need to save the West Woods?” Krick was known for her maniacal focus on the school’s history. Speci ically, she was obsessed with the woods, though we were fairly certain she’d never found the fountain. “They’re putting in a highway and destroying it all.” Ms. Krick’s voice rose, as she whistled through her nose. “A road?” My voice was quiet. A road was going through the woods? The blood drained from my face. The fountain was there. “Don’t the woods belong to the school?” Ethan asked, reaching for one of the lyers in my hands. “Headmistress Valentine has overstepped her bounds this time.” A ravine full of wrinkles appeared on Ms. Krick’s forehead. “She’s gone and sold the land. It’s not her right to allow the interstate extension on the school’s property.” Her cheeks trembled with agitation. “They can’t,” I whispered, letting the lyers I held drop. They luttered across the table in a fan. “I shouldn’t need to tell the two of you how important the woods are to the school.” Ms. Krick leaned over us so closely that I could see threads of white cat hair on the lapels of her blazer. Ethan’s dark eyes narrowed as he read over the lyer. “If the woods are destroyed,” Ms. Krick said, spitting her words as she leaned in. I cringed as her spray hit my face. “All will be undone.”

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

45


feature authors

Jade Lee

historical romance

Mary Lancaster


ja d e lee of the Best, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and Fresh Fiction’s Steamiest Read, Jade/Kathy has published more than 60 romance novels and says she’s just getting started. In her free time (what’s that?) her hobbies include racquetball, rollerblading, and tv/movie watching with her husband. She’s a big fan of the Big Bang Theory (even though it’s over) and her favorite movie is The Avengers because she loves everything created by Joss Whedon. When travel starts again, she’d love to share all things geek with you in person at any of her many appearances at reader events. She’s usually found at the loudest table in the coffee shop or next to the dessert bar.

S t ay C onnec t ed

A

USA Today Bestseller, Jade Lee has been scripting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ball gowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. And as a Taurus, she lives to pit a headstrong woman against a tortured hero just to watch them butt heads on the way to true love. Flesh wounds are rare, but the healing and laughter are real. Jade’s wild, adventurous half writes paranormal and contemporary romances under the pseudonym Kathy Lyons. A lover of all things fantastical, Kathy spent much of her childhood in Narnia, Middle Earth, Amber, and Earthsea, just to name a few. Both Jade and Kathy have a gift for creating lively worlds, witty dialogue, and hot, sexy humor. Winner of several industry awards including the Prism—Best 48 | UncagedBooks.com

jadeleeauthor.com Welcome to Jade Lee Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! You are releasing a new book called Lord Lucifer in the Lords of the Masquerade series on November 19th. Can you tell readers more about this book? The idea began as a spin-off from Into the Lyon’s Den, my February 2020 book that launched the Lyon’s Den series. The hero from that book had three vastly different sisters, and I wanted to write their stories. Then I had this brilliant idea…or so I thought. I wanted to


spin three stories out from a single masquerade party. The heroes are dressed up as Lord Lucifer, Lord Satyr, and Lord Ares, and they each fall for one of the three sisters. That was the plan. You know what happens to the best laid plans, right? Lord Lucifer was the most exciting book to begin with. When the eldest sister Diana was seventeen, her mother forced her to marry a man three times her age. Now, twelve years later, he convinces her to go have some fun at a masquerade. While she’s gone, he’s poisoned and dies. Shock! Gasp! Of course, the murderer implicates Diana, and Lord Lucifer must step in to save her. Very exciting, right? Especially since the more I started writing Lucas (who plays Lord Lucifer), the more interesting he became. You see, everyone thinks he died at Waterloo. He’s been hiding for his own reason, but he gives all that up to protect Diana. He reveals his true identity much to the shock of his parents and younger brother who was set to inherit in Lucas’s place. That’s a whole lot of stuff for one party. A murder, a secret identity exposed, an almost arrest of the wrong person! It made for a great masquerade but suddenly there was no more room in the timeline for the other stories. New goal! Now I’m writing three successive parties, one a Season, until all three sisters have a happily ever after. In Lord Lucifer, Diana and Lucas go through some adventures before they find their solution. They go all the way to Ireland, in fact, but the journey is worth it. Not because they find the villain. This is not a mystery. They know who the bad guy is. This is more like the movie The Bodyguard. (Anyone remember that film?) Lucas protects Diana but because he’s with her all the time, they get closer and closer until their love is undeniable. Oh, and there is one other secret in the book. It’s not a big secret because it’s in the opening chapter, but it is significant. Diana and Lucas knew each other before Diana’s marriage. I included the opening chapter as an excerpt to share with Uncaged readers today. Enjoy!

Uncaged: What will be the connecting theme between books in this series? Well, it was supposed to be one masquerade party that had three lords falling in love. Instead, it’s a masquerade every year and the three sisters who find love at the masquerade. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Lord Satyr is in editing. It releases March 2021. So now it’s time to start on Lord Ares (release June 2021). I’m really excited about this one because the heroine has a unique past. She’s a by-blow who has been raised with her father’s family. Trust me when I say her backstory is amazing. Uncaged: You have a very intriguing idea on your website called Chapters – Interactive Stories. Can you explain better what this is and how it came about? Do you remember the old choose-your-own-adventure stories? The company behind Chapters took my books and adapted them to be interactive. The main story is the same as are the characters, but each story has some interesting branches that are fun to play. They’ve done a great job. In fact, in my spare time, I often read my own books just to see the fun things they’ve done with them. And—guess what— the newest book is coming out now! As Rich as a Rogue releases Oct 26 on the Chapters app. If you’d like to see how it works, download the Chapters app onto your mobile phone or tablet. I’ll be there as one of their historical authors. Trust me, all their stories are fun to play. And if you sign up for my newsletter (www.JadeLeeAuthor.com) then you’ll see that I often have contests that tie in with the Chapters books. (And all my other books too!) Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed your life? How have you changed the marketing of your books this year? I used to travel at least once a month to a conferIssue 52 | November 2020 |

49


| FEATURE AUTHOR | ence or event. I love getting together with fans…in person! Well, obviously that’s not happening during lockdown, and as much as I love virtual conferences, they just aren’t the same. I can’t wait to get back out there and share coffee (or something stronger) with people at events. Nothing beats hanging out face to face. On the upside, I’ve gotten a lot of writing done, and I had more time for the biggest change in my life. Are you ready? I’m a grandmother! Little Ellie is my first grandbaby and here’s a picture of her. She’s 3 months old, and I think she’s as perfect as can be. Honestly, I never thought I’d be one of those grandmothers with pictures in her pocketbook. I never carried pictures of my own kids, but here I am showing everyone my sweet grandbaby.

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I have been very fortunate to know Rachel Caine. I’ve been to several conferences with her, but neither of us had much time to sit and chat. During the lockdown, I read her Great Library Series from start to finish. It’s fantastic! This is my Harry Potter 50 | UncagedBooks.com


| JADE LEE | because, honestly, I think it’s ten times better. The characters are older, but it’s the same concept. A group of young adults get trained to be something akin to wizards. The have great adventures as they take down a big evil. The first book is titled Ink and Bone. If you haven’t read the series, you definitely need to. Now back to your question. I would love, love, love to sit with Rachel and talk to her about her writing. It took fifteen years for her to write this series, and I am so grateful she stuck with it. As soon as this lockdown is over, I want to go see her. Unfortunately, she’s very ill, so I’ll have to just shout it from the rooftops here. She’s a fabulous writer. All of her series are great, but this one is my favorite. Plus, she’s a FANTASTIC person! I also love getting together with my friend and fellow historical romance writer Mary Wine any time I get the chance, because we do fun things like this. We were putting on a demonstration during the Historical Romance Retreat. We have fun. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? You mean besides taking over an entire masquerade just for Diana’s story? Forget her sisters? Yes, always! My characters are forever doing something unintended, unusual, and completely unplanned. They’re feisty like that. And there have been several characters that I fight with. The pair in As Rich as a Rogue refused to go to bed with each other until the timing was right. I had a plan for them, and they simply refused. Eventually we worked it out, and of course they knew what they were doing. It takes real skill to know when to impose order on unruly characters and when to let them have their heads. Diana and Lucas, for example, decided to go to Ireland in the middle of their story. What? I hadn’t had that planned at all, and yet there they went. Very strange, but it worked out brilliantly. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Issue 52 | November 2020 |

51


| FEATURE AUTHOR | I play a lot of racquetball, or I did before the pandemic. I look at a lot of pictures of Ellie now. And then there’s the usual—I read, I eat, I play bridge with my husband and kids online. Yup, we’re a real card-playing family. Sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? But I love my life. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success is telling the stories I want to tell. So far—thanks to self-publishing—I’m able to do that. Between my different publishers, I’ve released over 60 books!

light. And I honor that brilliance as beautiful. (I know that was cheesy, but I really believe that). As for where they can find me, the best way is though my website at www.jadeleeauthor.com. Plus, I’m all over social media, but I share most of my news in my Jade Lee’s Jewels Facebook Group and in my newsletter. For information about when I have new books coming out or sales on existing novels, follow me on BookBub.

Enjoy an excerpt from Lord Lucifer

Success is also having the time and money to do the things I want to do outside of my career. I felt it was important to be a poll worker this year. I am a very healthy person and therefore at lower risk of developing a bad Covid infection. I took the classes and spent much of the last month as a poll worker covering early voting and then election day. I even bought a necklace that says VOTE and wore it every day.

Lord Lucifer Jade Lee Historical Victorian Releases Nov. 19 Three titled gentlemen throw a masquerade party at Vauxhall for their own secret purposes. Three ladies attended for fun but find something far greater in the shadows of the pleasure garden.

Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer any device that will feed me the stories I want to read, hear, or touch. I always have an ebook, audiobook, and a physical book going at the same time. Right now, I just finished Cindy Dees’ Beyond the Limit in audio, I’m reading Heather Graham’s Long, Lean, and Lethal in ebook, and I’m reading The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim in hardcover. All three are great books! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would like to tell my fans that you are the light of the world. You are! You light up my life, and you light up your corner of the world. I hope and pray that you choose a bright, beautiful light, but even if you feel like a tiny flickering candle, you are still 52 | UncagedBooks.com

Welcome to the fabulous new series Lords of the Masquerade by USA Today Bestselling Author Jade Lee. LORD LUCIFER Twelve years ago, Lucas failed to protect the love of his life from being forced into an arranged marriage. The day she wed another man, he left England to join the fight against Napoleon. Now he’s back with scars on his body and soul. He’s happy hidden from the peerage as he helps his men reintegrate back into society. Then he discovers the woman he still loves is in terrible danger. LADY DIANA Diana is not the same obedient girl who wed a man


| JADE LEE | three times her age. She’s grown up and found a strength she didn’t have before. Now the one man she can’t forget is back and talking about things that can’t be true. Then her husband is murdered, the estate is in jeopardy, and every finger points at her. ALL OR NOTHING No one will help her except Lucas who defies constables, thieves, and his own family to save her. But when she begs him to do more than stand guard, he decides on a dangerous ploy. He risks everything to save more than her life. He dances with the devil to win her heart. Excerpt Seventeen years ago Chapter 1 The ivy was slick, and it pulled too easily away from the crumbling house, but Lucas Crosse, future earl of Wolvesmead, was determined to scale the wall to reach his damsel in distress. In his mind, he was climbing a tower to rescue his princess. It wasn’t far from the truth and Lucas managed to reach Lady Diana’s window without falling to his doom. But once there, he was dismayed to discover that his princess wasn’t alone. She was trapped by the evil witch of her mother and her two sisters as they brushed her hair, soothed her nerves, and generally promised her that all would be well. That was his job, he thought, and he was impatient to get to it. Especially before he lost his grip and fell eighteen feet onto the shrubbery below. He was busy imaging the results of getting impaled by those hard branches when Diana reached her limit. With a harsh voice, she sent everyone away, including her mother. They scurried out like the betraying rats they were, and finally Diana was alone. Lucas tapped the window to get Diana’s attention, but she had dropped her head into her hands and wouldn’t look up.

He tapped again, forcefully enough to make it a knock. That did the trick. His lady love lifted her head to glare out at the drizzly night. Thank God because he was getting chilled. She even stood to approach the window. Excellent! He leaned his face in close so that she would see him. He made sure to smile though it probably looked more like a grimace given the situation. Then she saw him. She recoiled in horror. Her face went pale, she stumbled backwards, and her hands went to her mouth as she squeaked in alarm. Not the reaction he expected, but what could he do to change it? He tried to slick the wet from his face. “Diana, it’s me! Lucas!” Her brows narrowed and she peered forward. Then with gratifying speed, she hauled open the window. “What are you doing?” she gasped. “You’re wet!” “I know,” he huffed. “Step back so I can climb in.” Stepping back wasn’t going to be helpful. The windows throughout London were too small for this type of maneuver. Especially when he was larger than the average burglar. But he managed to wriggle himself inside though he fell on his face in an ungainly heap. “What are you doing here?” Diana asked as she passed him a towel. Practical. That was one of the things he loved about her. “Thanks,” he said as he wiped off his face. “Why aren’t you in school?” He straightened up. “Why are you marrying someone three times your age?” She sighed and slumped over to sit on her bed. “You wouldn’t understand.” She was a delicate woman with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a body just starting to ripen. He thought of her as a pixie or a sprite—some tiny, magical creature who had bewitched him while he wasn’t watching. He’d only met her a few months past when he’d summered with his friend next to her home. They’d shared tea and gone riding. They’d taken walks by the stream and discussed canals. Issue 52 | November 2020 |

53


| FEATURE AUTHOR | And he’d left in August expecting to dance with her in the coming season, to flirt with her during musical evenings, and maybe steal a kiss or three. He’d made plans for just that happenstance and spent many hours daydreaming exactly where and how he would kiss her. Until her father died six weeks ago and suddenly, in the depths of a cold November, he’d learned she was to be wed on the morrow. It made no sense, and he wanted to tell her that. But looking at her now, he saw that she already knew the illogic of it all. She looked as miserable as he felt, and his soul fired up with the desire to be her knight in shining armor. He dropped to his knees before her and clasped her hands. “You mustn’t do this. How can I help you escape?”

“I don’t.” “We’ll hire one for you.” “How? It’s the middle of the night.” He frowned. “We’ll borrow one. I have friends.” “And do you have money for lodging? It’s November. We can’t just sleep out in the fields.” He tightened his grip on her hands. She was ruining the moment with her questions. Didn’t she see that? It was like being examined by an Oxford don. “We’ll figure it out along the way.” “And what about my family? How will they survive if I disappear?”

She shook her head. “There is no escape. With Papa gone, Mama needs a man to manage things.” “So let her marry—”

“Your mother will have to find her own solution. It’s what mothers are supposed to do. They shouldn’t sacrifice their daughters to—”

“He doesn’t want her. He wants me.”

“If there isn’t an influx of money, then my brother will have to leave school. Elliott is just a boy. And who will take care of my sisters?” “Your mother—”

The level of misery in her voice destroyed him. “Don’t do it,” he whispered. “They’re horrible people. His children are awful. And they’re older than you!” “I know!” she said, her eyes welling up with misery. “They’ve already said terrible things to me.” He looked into her blue eyes and felt his heart swell. “Marry me. Tonight. We’ll run to Scotland together.” He watched her mouth part in surprise and saw hope spark in her eyes. But even as he waited with held breath, he watched her expression tighten. “How will we get there?” “What?” “To Scotland? How will we get there?” He shrugged. “I have a horse—” 54 | UncagedBooks.com

“Picked this solution.” Diana shook her head. “I can’t abandon them.” Loyal. He couldn’t fault her for that, and frankly, he was ashamed of himself for not thinking of that sooner. “I have some money,” he began. “Enough to keep Elliott in school?” He winced. It wasn’t enough to keep the two of them in food beyond a month. “My parents will help us.” Diana stared at him, her eyes sheening with tears as she clutched his fingers. “And my family? Will they help them as well?” Doubtful. His parents hated anything they labeled “untoward.” Marrying Diana before he turned twenty would definitely qualify. It would be hard enough


| JADE LEE | to get them to accept the marriage. They certainly wouldn’t aid her family, especially since it included her by-blow half-sister. Lilah changed Diana’s family from “untoward” to “regrettable,” and his mother would never touch anything that was so unseemly. “How much money?” he asked. She frowned. “What do you mean?” “How much money do you think it would take to free you from this marriage, to support your family, and keep Elliott in school?” “I don’t know. Five thousand pounds per year? Something like that.” He shuddered. Even at half that amount, he couldn’t do it. He hadn’t inherited, his allowance from his father was barely a thousand. He wanted to promise that he could manage her family’s estate, but he knew nothing of farming. In fact, he’d gone out of his way to not learn about sheep, crops, and whatnot. It just wasn’t in his nature. “What if I brought you three thousand tomorrow morning? Would you run away with me then? It would be enough, yes? We’d figure out the rest. Would you do it?” She swallowed, obviously torn. “It won’t be easy,” he pressed, “but we could do it together. We’re in love, Diana. Anything is possible with love.” He believed that. Indeed, the feeling burned hot inside him, but her eyes widened in shocked surprise. “What?” she whispered. At least that was the word he read off her lips. “We’re in love,” he stressed. “Aren’t we? Don’t you love me?” “You love me?” she echoed without answering his question. “I…”

She was in doubt, but he knew exactly how to change that. He surged upwards and captured her mouth with his. He teased her cold lips and slipped between them with his tongue. And while she gasped in maidenly surprise, he plundered her mouth. He thrust inside and tasted every part of her. “Diana,” he whispered. She clutched his shoulders in response, then drew him closer. It was the most natural thing to press her backwards, to move over her so that he could lay her back upon her bed. He hadn’t meant to be so ardent. He’d merely intended to kiss her doubts away. But lust surged inside him, love and desire were a potent combination. At least they were for him. Especially since she whispered his name with every kiss and her hands roamed across his shoulders and back. But while he began to nuzzle down her throat to her breasts, she gripped him hard and held him away. “Lucas. Lucas!” “Yes?” He lifted his head, feeling her quick breaths as they merged with his own. He saw the pulse in her throat and meant to nibble it while need throbbed in his loins. “Yes.” Excellent! He pressed a quick kiss to her throat and his fingers began to tug at the fabric of her nightrail. “Lucas, stop!” He lifted his head. “What?” “Do you have three thousand pounds? Right now? Do you have it?” She was talking about money? Right now when her scent muddied his thoughts and she was already on fire in her bed? “Do you?” Issue 52 | November 2020 |

55


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “Not just now. I have a little more than a thousand.” He’d been saving up to buy a horse. “But I can turn that into three thousand easily. I’m a good gambler, and so many people are bad at it.” She stiffened beneath him. “Gambling? You want me to risk my family on gambling?” “It’s true! How do you think I got a thousand?” He could see that she didn’t believe him and no wonder. What did she know of the kind of money men threw around simply because they could? “I can,” he insisted. He straightened up off her though it physically hurt to do so. “Let me prove it.” “How?” “I’ll come back in the morning with three thousand pounds. I swear it.” He could do it. It might be tight, but he knew of a few hells where the play was steep. “Wait for me,” he pressed. Then he paused. “And if I show you the money, will you run away with me? Will you refuse to marry him?” He touched her cheek. “Will you be mine?” “Yes,” she said, the word barely audible. Then she straightened up and slammed her mouth to his. It was all he needed. He plundered her mouth. And when she gripped his shoulders, he tore himself away. There was too much to do to spend it here. There would be plenty of time for this after the night’s gambling was done. So he went to the window, frowning as he tried to figure out how to wriggle himself back outside without tumbling to his death. “Don’t be an idiot,” she huffed. “I’ll take you down the back stairs.” They tiptoed like giggly children down the back stairs. And when they finally reached the doorway, he hauled her close for one last kiss. Her mouth was hot, her body pliant, and he held her so tight, he lifted her off the ground. “You have bewitched me,” he whispered as he let her go. “Don’t fail,” she responded. “Please, God, don’t fail.” “I won’t.” He didn’t. He spent the night in four different gaming hells. He played upon his wet-behind-the-ears looks. He pretended to be drunk when he wasn’t. 56 | UncagedBooks.com

And when the players got wise, he slipped out and ran to the next one. And once, he even stole money from a drunkard who had passed out near him. It was for a good cause, he rationalized, as he became a thief. It was for love and for Diana’s family. And when he got the last pound note clutched into his hands, he ran from the hell while his victim screamed, “You better run, boy, but it won’t help. I’ll find you tomorrow and then we’ll see.” He felt the threat settle low in his spine as his feet pounded away. It held real danger and he knew he could never return to the hells he’d been in tonight. A man could make a lot of money in one night. He had proven that. But it had required him to be ruthless in a way that he despised. He’d taken money from friends, acquaintances, and wet-behind-the-ears idiots. It left him feeling filthy and ashamed, but he’d gotten what he wanted. Three thousand pounds. Wonderful, except he would never be able to do that again. The gamblers were on to him. The monied people and the thieves. He needed to get out of London immediately, which would be fine except how would he support Diana and her family in the future? How would he cover the other two thousand pounds they needed to survive? This year and then the next and the next? He didn’t know. And he sure as hell couldn’t marry her until he had an answer. Cold logic in the morning had replaced last night’s romantic passion. He didn’t go to her bedroom that morning. He didn’t drop on his knees and shower her with pound notes as he’d envisioned throughout the night. And he certainly didn’t stop her from dully speaking her vows to her new husband, though he stood at the back of the church and tried not to weep in despair. Instead, he used the money to buy a commission and entered the military that very day. That should have been the end of it. That should have put paid to any relationship between him and Diana. Until the morning, twelve years later, when her brother Elliott walked into his bedroom and said, “I need your help. Diana’s in trouble.”


R. SCOTT BOYER & Patch

P.G. SHRIVER & Reba

I love it! My rescue mutt, Patch, is the best writing companion an author could ask for. He is constantly by my side to keep me company and yet quiet and patient when I am writing (except when it’s mealtime). He knows when it’s time for a break and is the best distraction I could ever ask for. He likes to take road trips to Rancho Mirage and Arrowhead, and is great in the car.

How do you choose? We live on a quarter horse ranch, and we’ve had numerous pets. Several years ago, we rescued this beautiful girl, our Reba, in a small- time, local animal shelter. It cost $15 to adopt her. We also had a large mixed breed dog named Domino. I’ll never forget the day we brought Reba home. We penned her briefly outside, near the other dogs and the house so she could get used to her new home. Reba was the perfect, fluffy, girl and remained quiet throughout the day. She showed interest in playing with Domino, though he had no desire to play with her. In the early evening, a coyote howled somewhere in the distance, and Reba barked. It wasn’t just any bark; it was the biggest, lowest, most threatening bark I’ve ever heard come out of a dog. It surprised us, coming from her. It was the bark of a much larger dog. It was also the bark that made Domino take notice. I called it the “Dang, Baby!” bark because it fit Domino’s reaction. We still tease him about Reba’s initial communication. From that point on, those two were besties, and even at their respective ages of 9 and 12, they still play together as much as two old dogs can. This is my favorite picture of Reba. She wouldn’t stay in the truck with Domino when we drove out through the pasture to check the fence. At one stop, she jumped out and moved alongside us at a safe distance.

I am also planning on getting a puppy very soon. Hopefully I am just days away from adopting a shepherd/huskie mix from a friend. The goal is to get Patch a playmate and for me to have another companion for years to come.

58 | UncagedBooks.com


A U T H O RS A N D T H E I R P E TS Pets and companions come in many shapes and sizes. From furry to feathered to hairy and scaley - there is a place for all of them. Authors have a special relationship with their pets - whether they remind them to get up and take a break or they inspire their writing. Meet the critters that share their love and devotion to Uncaged Feature Authors.

JADE LEE & Cinnamon I have a fat, happy cat named Cinnamon. (My kids call her Cinnabun because when she curls up, she resembles that very chunky delicious treat.) She loves sitting on my lap. (She looks good on those colorful leggings, doesn’t she?) But she gets annoyed by all the typing. She’ll put her chin on my wrist and try to stop me from working. My job, according to her, is to scratch right behind her ears where she loves it. And I’ll confess, she usually wins for a while, but eventually, I’ll have to work. She’ll curl up on the bed in a huff until I’m done. Or until dinnertime. Then she’s a spry kitten as she leaps into the kitchen.

MARY LANCASTER & Toby

This is Toby the jug (JackRussell-pug cross). We’ve had him since he was nine weeks old when we gave him to my daughter as a birthday present. He’s six now and owns all of us! He’s a mad, bouncing thing (I based Spring in The Deserted Heart on him!), as eccentric as the rest of the family, but the best natured dog in the world. He loves us, other people, other dogs, food, walks and particular stones – not necessarily in that order.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

59


A.J. MCCARTHY & Kelso and Bosco

Kelso is a nine-year-old Pugzu, which is a mix of a Pug and a Shih Tzu. He stays very close to me, lying on the floor or couch nearby, no matter where I am. His snoring accompanies me while I’m working or writing. Because of the pandemic, he missed his appointments at the groomers, and he resembles a floor mop now, so I’ll share some photos from his days as a handsome boy. I also have a new grandpuppy, Bosco. He’s a Cane Corso mastiff, and at only four months, it’s clear he will soon be bigger and stronger than his adopted grandmother.

This photo shows my son Alex hugging Dumbledore, his best friend. Alex feeds him every day and gives him plenty of love, and Dumbledore is a good sport about all of it. A Siamese cross, he is incredibly affectionate with my children while proving his mettle as a hunter and warrior by chasing his favorite toy mousie and the odd moth.

JERRY HARWOOD & Noah

CRAIG DILOUIE & Dumbledore

This is Noah. He is my best bud. He is 13 years old, has crooked legs, barks whenever he is unhappy, and spends his day sleeping. Beyond that, he is my sidekick from the moment I walk into my house until I leave. He has a bed beside my writing area and in the kitchen. He has his own section of the couch.

60 | UncagedBooks.com


mary lancaster

M

ary Lancaster lives in Scotland with her husband, three mostly grown-up kids and a small, crazy dog.

Her first literary love was historical fiction, a genre which she relishes mixing up with romance and adventure in her own writing. Several of her novels feature actual historical characters as diverse as Hungarian revolutionaries, medieval English outlaws, and a family of eternally rebellious royal Scots. To say nothing of Vlad the Impaler. Her most recent books are light fun Regency romances written for Dragonblade Publishing: The Imperial Season series set at the Congress of Vienna; and the popular Blackhaven Brides series, which is set in a fashionable English spa town frequented by the great and the bad of Regency society.

Stay Co n n e c te d

marylancaster.com Uncaged welcomes Mary Lancaster Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! You are releasing the third book in the Season of Scandal series, Married to the Rogue on November 10th. Can you tell readers more about this book and the series? Thank you so much for having me back :) Yes, I’d 64 | UncagedBooks.com


love to tell you more about Season of Scandal! The premise is that when the Princess of Wales finally leaves London to travel abroad in 1814, four of her ladies in waiting are tricked into spending the night in her residence while an orgy rages. In the morning, they discover the princess hadn’t been present, and that the world knows they were there unchaperoned – ruin for an unmarried girl! Each young lady finds a different way to deal with the difficulty, with the help of a hero who believes in her. In Married to the Rogue, that hero is a rebellious young politician who wants possession of his fortune and a house that will help his ambitions, personal and otherwise. Marriage to our heroine Deborah seems to solve both their problems, especially when they agree not to interfere with each other’s love lives. Obviously, they don’t expect to fall in love with each other :). And of course, the villain of the series, Lord Barden, is just waiting for his moment to strike! Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Well, I’ve just been editing a novella, written jointly with the fabulous Violetta Rand – it’s the first of a fun new Regency series. And I have another collective project with the wonderful Blue Stocking Belles, which should release in the spring – a collection of novellas revolving around Storm & Shelter at an isolated inn. I’ve also begun work on a new Victorian mystery romance series called Crime and Punishment, which I’m really looking forward to! Uncaged: I know that you live in Scotland, how has the pandemic changed your lifestyle? Has Scotland shut down a lot of events like other parts of the world also? I suppose it’s had less effect on me than on some. We were pretty much locked down for three or four months. Everything was cancelled – musical events, Issue 52 | November 2020 |

65


| FEATURE AUTHOR | sport, even the Edinburgh Festival of the Arts. On a personal note, we missed out on our annual holiday abroad with the family :). But at least my husband could work from home, and obviously so could I, so we didn’t lose any income, and so far we have all stayed healthy. The virus is on the rise again – as it seems to be everywhere as soon as you relax any restrictions at all! – so we have partial lockdown again and can’t visit anyone in their house. I know I’ve been lucky so far, but my heart does go out to all the people who’re suffering with illness or economic hardship. Weird, weird times! Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Firstly, all the authors I know virtually but have

66 | UncagedBooks.com

never actually met – which is certainly possible! Writing can be a lonely profession, so it’s great to meet up with fellow spirits who understand :). Secondly, I suppose those from the past who’ve made the biggest impression on me – Dorothy Dunnett, Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Daphne du Maurier. I’d love to see if they talked as they wrote, but either way, I’d be hanging on their words! Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Goodness, yes, all the time! They’re always misbehaving, get romantic at the wrong times or refuse to do so when I want them to. Even minor characters go off at complete tangents sometimes and try to become more important or more sympathetic than that I meant.


| MARY LANCASTER |

It can make life difficult, but it’s one of the things I love about writing! Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I like walking the dog, catching up with friends (when I can!), spending time with family. I love reading whenever I find a moment, particularly when we go on holiday and I can spend days just reading in the sun without a care in the world :). I also like getting addicted to tv series and binge watching them. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Getting messages and emails from readers – knowing people have read and liked my books is the biggest thrill. On a practical level, after writing for so many years with all the ups and downs the profession entails, it’s good to be able to pay some bills too! Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I love physical books, old ones, beautiful ones, tatty ones. I have a house full of them because I can never throw out those I enjoy. I still mourn those that got lost or lent and never returned :). On the other hand, ebooks are so convenient, especially when travelling and when reading at night with the light off so as not to disturb my husband! I haven’t yet got hugely into audiobooks, but I think it’s probably a great way to get the housework done! Yes, I’m always reading something. At the moment it’s Robert Galbraith’s “Silkworm” – on my Kindle. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I’d like to say a big HELLO and thank them for reading my books. Without them, there would be no meaning to the job I love. :)

Enjoy an excerpt from Married to the Rogue

Married to the Rogue Mary Lancaster Historical Victorian Releases Nov. 10 Free to follow her heart… just not to her husband! Deborah needs a husband to protect her from the scandal breaking over her head; Christopher Halland, a radical and ambitious member of parliament, needs a wife to get at his fortune and Gosmere Hall. It is the perfect marriage of convenience. Or is it? She should have been warned off by the fury in his eyes on their first encounter when he almost rode over her. And by the whispered rumors of his women and loose living. Instead, she thrives as the lady of Gosmere Hall and her calm soothes her volatile husband throughout quarrels with his grandfather, and even when his black-sheep cousin, accused of murder, turns up wounded in the cellar. However, falling in love was not part of their agreement – at least not with each other - and they have to overcome many misunderstandings before happiness is within their reach. Only then, her scandal rears its ugly head once more, and the arrival of the reptilian Lord Barden threatens to ruin everything, and even take Deborah’s life. Excerpt Chapter One Deborah stepped down from the chaise with a Issue 52 | November 2020 |

67


| FEATURE AUTHOR | flood of relief. The village of Coggleton had never been so welcome a sight. She paid the post boy with almost the last of her money and walked up the path to the house her mother insisted on calling a cottage. The front door flew open before she reached it, and her siblings spilled out, seeming to drag their mother along in their midst, like a whirlwind collecting debris. “Oh, my goodness, Deb, what is amiss?” her mother demanded. “Why are you home so soon? Please tell me Her Highness did not dismiss you!” “Of course not,” Deborah said hurriedly, hugging her sisters and brothers. “At least, not exactly. Shall we go inside?” Absorbing Deborah and her bag, the whirlwind swept indoors, and Deborah soon found herself sitting in the parlor, divested of cloak and hat while her family clustered about her in expectation. Her mother and Lucy, her younger sister nearest in age at nineteen summers, stood together by the mantelpiece, radiating an excitement that told her there was more news. She hoped it was better than hers. “We just had a letter from your grandmother this morning,” her mother exclaimed. “Saying you had been called to the princess. We assumed you were going abroad with her as you hoped.” “She went without me,” Deborah said, gazing at her hands and speaking in a low, deliberately calm voice. “The summons was a mistake. Three other ladies and I, all young and unmarried, arrived around the same time to find, as we thought, that the princess was entertaining guests. She wasn’t. No one had invited them, but there they were. We discovered in the morning that Her Highness had left the day before and that we had spent the night unchaperoned in the house.” She swallowed and raised her eyes to her mother’s shocked face. “While a party of…questionable taste raged below us.” “Oh, Deborah!” Lucy wailed. “Hush, hush.” Her mother waved this aside, staring hard at Deborah. “You were part of this? In the midst of such a…” “No, of course not. We hid in our own sitting room 68 | UncagedBooks.com

next to the princess’s chambers.” Her mother frowned. “What was the point of that when she wasn’t there? Why did you not simply leave again? Go back to your grandmother?” “We thought she was in her bedchamber,” Deborah said flatly. “Not at her own party?” her brother Giles exclaimed. “Sounds a bit shabby to me.” “We thought she was saying private farewells to a friend—friends—before leaving the country,” Deborah said diplomatically, though judging by her mother’s expression of outrage, she understood perfectly. “But obviously, we were wrong, for she had already left London.” “Oh, why did I let you take such a place with that woman?” her mother wailed. “Because it provided a little prestige and money enough to keep the house for a little longer,” Deborah said tiredly. “But I doubt there will be any more money now.” “Still, it is not so bad,” Lucy said encouragingly. “After all, we shouldn’t need the money now, and surely no one saw you there, Deb, if you were shut up away from everyone else?” Deborah glanced from her to her mother. “I don’t know. We might have been seen making occasional forays to look for the princess or someone else with authority to throw out the guests. It’s probable the guests were in no state to recognize us that night, though someone might have seen us leave in the morning.” Her mother and Lucy stared at her in horror. The younger children, clearly not understanding what the fuss was about, began to lose interest and squabble over some plan for the afternoon. “You mean you are ruined,” Lucy said in horror. “Oh, Deborah, how could you have let this happen now?” “I don’t seem to have had much to do with it,” Deborah replied wearily. “But all is not yet lost. Lady Juliet and Lady Meg were also there, and it’s possible their families will be able to quash any rumors that might arise.” “Well, let us hope so, Deb!” Lucy exclaimed. “For otherwise, you will have destroyed everything!” Deborah met her sister’s turbulent gaze. “Hardly eve-


| MARY LANCASTER | rything. What in particular do you mean?” “We have every reason to hope,” her mother answered, “that Lucy is about to receive an offer from Sir Edmund Letchworth.” Deborah’s eyes widened. “But that would be wonderful! Providing you like him, Lucy?” “There will be no point in my liking him if he hears about you,” Lucy muttered. “His family would never permit it then.” “Nonsense, if he is more than one-and-twenty, he may judge for himself in such matters,” Deborah said firmly. “You need only explain the truth to him, and if he is worthy of you, he will not allow it to make any difference.” “You don’t really live much in the real world, do you, Deb?” Lucy flounced to the door, although the drama of her exit was spoiled by the arrival of Bertha, the maid, with a tea tray. Lucy was obliged to step aside before continuing on her way. The tea was duly poured and the scones snatched by Deborah’s starving siblings, who were all trying to tell her their news at once. It was some time before she could ask her mother, “How serious is this matter of Lucy’s imminent engagement?” “Almost secure,” her mother replied ruefully. “The Letchworths arrived at Coggleton House last month, for the first time in several years, apparently. Certainly, they have not been in residence since we came to the area. They held a ball for all the neighboring gentlefolk. Needless to say, Sir Edmund was captivated by our Lucy and has called on us several times since. She has been riding with him and his sister, and we have been to dinner at the house. We were the only guests! Apart from Mr. Halland, who was visiting his grandfather—the Earl of Hawfield, you know—at Gosmere Hall.” Bewildered by this aside, Deborah drew her parent back to the matter in hand. “Are his affections engaged, do you think? Are Lucy’s?” “Well, who would not want to be Lady Letchworth? He is a most agreeable and unassuming young man, most attentive and polite, and I do believe his interest is quite fixed on Lucy. So you do see why this trouble of yours has come at precisely the wrong moment? We truly don’t want to scare him away.”

“If he can be so scared away, he isn’t worth having,” Deborah said staunchly. “Tell that to your sister,” her mother retorted. “In fact, repeat it to yourself next quarter day when the rent is due. For there will be no more money from your position, and there is precious little left in the coffers. To be frank, Deb, this is not merely a matter of love, it is a necessity.” Stricken, Deborah gazed helplessly at her mother. She had known things would be tight, but she hadn’t appreciated just how close to the precipice they stood. One way or another, it seemed, ruin awaited them all. *** Having been shut up in stuffy coaches for almost a day and a half, Deborah resolved to go for a walk with her younger siblings that afternoon. “But you can’t!” Lucy exclaimed. “I was going to walk this afternoon!” Deborah blinked. “I wasn’t excluding you.” “She’s planning to run into Sir Edmund,” their sister Lizzie giggled. “Then it’s as well I will be there to chaperone you,” Deborah said. “But he can’t meet you, Deb,” Lucy stated. “You know that!” Deborah stared at her, absorbing the inevitable guilt. “Then I shall walk in the other direction. Do you want to take the children, or shall I?” “Oh, both of you are being silly,” their mother declared. “We shall all go together. We must never appear ashamed of Deborah, or it will merely confirm the rumor. Besides, no one will know anything about this scandal. Probably.” “The Letchworths don’t even know her name,” Lucy said grimly. “And I would rather keep it that way.” “Give her another name,” Giles suggested. “Miss Tumblebumpkin.” “Miss Raspberry!” Lizzie, the youngest, cried. “Miss Lunkhead,” Stephen contributed. “It might fit,” Deborah said tartly, “but I refuse that one in public.” “Miss Kneesandtoes,” Giles said. “Miss Honeycake!” Issue 52 | November 2020 |

69


| FEATURE AUTHOR | “Miss Horseandhounds!” They were still coming up with increasingly bizarre names, most of which made Deborah laugh and even cracked a smile in Lucy’s anxious face as they left the house and walked through the village. Lucy clearly had a preferred direction and set off along the path that led, eventually, to Coggleton House. “What is he like?” Deborah asked her, hoping to heal some of the rift between them. “Is he very handsome and clever?” “Not really,” Lucy replied. “But he is quite…serious. A most moral and upright gentleman.” “Well, that is good,” Deborah said, trying to summon enthusiasm for this description of her sister’s favored suitor. “Not in the present circumstances,” Lucy said grimly and walked faster. Deborah, sighing, made no effort to catch up. Instead, she asked the children what they thought of Sir Edmund. “Apart from mooning over Lucy, he’s not so bad,” Giles said. “He always acknowledges us, which every adult doesn’t always trouble to.” “And he plays spillikins quite well,” Lizzie offered. “Then, he has been to the cottage?” Deborah asked in surprise. “Several times. Usually with his sister, but once by himself,” replied Stephen, the most observant and practical of her siblings. “That was when he played spillikins,” Lizzie agreed. “Look, do you think that is him, now?” Giles grinned. “Just happening to be on the path at this time.” A few yards ahead, just past where the path to Coggleton House crossed with the road to Gosmere, Lucy had stopped to see to the laces of her boot—or was pretending to do so. Beyond her, a man came striding alone along the path. Deborah, curious to meet the gentleman on whom all their fortunes now depended, walked quicker before she remembered she was persona non grata. Unsure what to do, she lingered at the cross70 | UncagedBooks.com

roads, observing as the man hurried closer, sweeping off his hat. He bowed, smiling, politely greeting their mother first. “Mrs. Shelby, what a pleasant surprise. It is a lovely day for a walk, is it not? How do you do, Miss Shelby? Might I be of assistance?” From his smile, from the glow in his eyes when he gazed upon Lucy, Deborah guessed the young man was indeed smitten. Which was a relief. And Lucy was definitely flirting as she smiled up at him. “Oh, no, thank you, sir. I just needed to retie the lace.” What Deborah couldn’t decide was whether her sister’s blush was from genuine feeling. Either way, she was glad to see the young man speak to the children, too. Even Lizzie, who’d remained with Deborah, stepped closer. At the same time, the thunder of galloping hooves penetrated Deborah’s distracted observation. The noise rushed on her so quickly that for an instant, she couldn’t even judge its direction. Then she seized Lizzie and flattened them both against the hedge. She uttered an inarticulate cry of warning to those ahead, just as a horse and rider exploded from the Gosmere road, clearly meaning to jump the hedge at exactly where Deborah and Lizzie stood. Deborah stumbled, trying to push Lizzie further away. The rider wrenched his horse’s head around and pulled up so sharply that the animal reared, whinnying wildly as it pawed the air. The hooves were still terrifyingly close to her, especially if the rider had lost control of the horse, which could lash out in any direction. Somehow the rider clung on. Deborah could even hear his voice murmuring soothing words that actually seemed to work, for when the horse’s front hooves finally hit the ground, it merely danced a little and snorted rather than kicking, bolting or rearing up again. The rider’s face was at complete odds with his gentle voice. Deborah had never seen anyone so utterly furious. His mouth was a thin, hard line, his wild eyes stormy beneath black, scowling brows. Those rage-filled eyes fixed on Deborah, seeming to pin her to the hedge. She wondered wildly what she had done wrong.


| MARY LANCASTER | “Are you hurt?” he asked curtly. Apparently, his rage was not directed at her. Dumbly, Deborah shook her head. “My apologies,” he threw at her, “for riding like a maniac.” Only then did he turn his attention to those only a few yards further along the road. They were staring open-mouthed, as though not quite sure what had just happened. “Good God, Halland, what has got you into such a state?” asked Sir Edmund. The angry stranger barked out a laugh. “Oh, just the usual. I’m sorry to startle you all and grateful I don’t seem to have done further damage.” Holding his still skittish horse in an iron grip with one hand, he removed his hat with the other. “Mrs. Shelby, Miss Shelby.” He turned his head, looking once more toward Deborah, clearly expecting an introduction. The storm still raging in his intense blue eyes was barely controlled. It should have been frightening, and her heart did skitter in response, but mostly, she was conscious of curiosity. “Oh, she is just the governess,” Lucy said gaily. Deborah blinked, answering his bow with a smile so faint and hesitant it might have been worthy of the most downtrodden governess ever employed. “Miss Tumblebumpkin,” Giles said irrepressibly. “Raspberry,” Lizzie insisted. The stranger’s gaze flickered to the children, his scowl fading into something that might have been amusement. “Christopher Halland,” he said, “at your service…ma’am.” “Dismount and walk with us,” Sir Edmund invited. “The poor beast looks as if he could do with the rest.” “But sadly, I could not,” Mr. Halland said shortly. The frown was back. “I am unfit for company and must wish you a pleasant stroll without me. Good day.” With that, he clapped his hat back on his head and maneuvered the horse past everyone on the path. Almost immediately, the horse broke into a canter, then jumped the hedge into the field beyond, and galloped off into the distance. “What a strange, abrupt young man,” Deborah’s mother observed. “He seemed much more pleasant when we dined at Coggleton House last week.”

“Ah, well, I suspect his hopes have been dashed,” Sir Edmund excused. “Gosmere Hall is his, you know, held in trust for him, along with a small fortune, by his grandfather.” “Lord Hawfield?” Lucy asked, perhaps to show Deborah the noble circles to which the family now aspired. “Yes. They’re always at loggerheads over something, and Halland has been chafing for years to have the trust relaxed.” “Why?” Deborah’s mother asked. “He does not live there, does he? No one has since we arrived in Coggleton three years ago.” “Oh, he has plans for the place,” Sir Edmund said vaguely. “He arranged for his lordship to meet him at Gosmere to explain them, hoping to extract his inheritance early, but clearly the old gentleman has not bitten. May I escort you ladies wherever you are going?” “Oh, we were just walking,” Lucy said. “I think we’ve come far enough,” their mother said. “But walk with us, by all means, Sir Edmund. Perhaps you could join us for tea?” Sir Edmund glanced at his fob timepiece. “Sadly, I have an appointment.” He wrinkled his nose. “Dull estate business, you understand, but has to be done. However, I shall be glad if I may walk back to the village with you.” Deborah had plenty of opportunities to observe Sir Edmund and Lucy during the walk home. Without neglecting their mother and with frequent remarks cast at one or another of the children, he still found plenty of opportunities to stroll with Lucy, a little distance in front of the main party. They appeared to enjoy these more private conversations, and by the time they bade him goodbye, Deborah began to feel much more hopeful. “Only, why on earth did you tell him I’m the governess?” she demanded of Lucy as they sat down in the parlor once more. “Oh, I don’t know,” Lucy said carelessly. “It just slipped out.” “Well, you had better tell him the truth, or it will create a very odd impression of you,” their mother said severely, although she had hardly disputed Issue 52 | November 2020 |

71


| FEATURE AUTHOR | the claim at the time. “It will create an odder impression if I change the story now,” Lucy retorted. “Besides, Deb will be gone again soon to another position, will she not? He need not see her again for ages, and when he does, he will not remember her, for no one notices the governess.” “It could take me weeks to find a suitable position,” Deborah pointed out when she could speak. “And I am hardly unknown in the neighborhood. The entire village knows we do not employ a governess. Apart from Miss Figgis now and again.” “Besides,” their mother said crossly, “one of the points of your marrying Sir Edmund, Lucy, is that she need not take any more positions.” “You will have to tell him the truth,” Deborah urged. “Otherwise, the silly lie will come back and bite you.” “I would not have to lie if you were not ruined!” Lucy snapped. Deborah fell back against the cushions as though she had been struck. Lucy’s gaze fell. “I shouldn’t have said it, but how can I possibly take it back again now?” Deborah swallowed. “Make a joke of it. The children clearly did. You were only going along with their nonsense and never expected him to take you seriously.” Lucy raised her gaze once more and gave a twisted smile. “You’re a better liar than I am, Deb. You should be able to come up with something equally good to justify your scandal.” “If there is any scandal,” their mother said firmly. “I am still hopeful nothing will come of it. The papers will be too full of the princess going abroad to even mention her ladies.” Deborah hoped so, too, though somehow, she didn’t believe it would be quite that simple.

72 | UncagedBooks.com

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:


feature authors

mystery | dystopian | urban fiction

A.J. McCarthy

Jenna Greene

Jerry Harwood


A.J. mccarthy Uncaged welcomes A.J. McCarthy Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book will release on November 12, called By the Book, a mystery/crime novel set in Canada. Can you tell readers more about this book? Thank you for inviting me for this interview. It’s a true honor. By the Book is set in Ottawa, Ontario, and it’s about a writer whose serial-killer novel is being used by a reallife serial killer as a guide for his own evil agenda. The author feels the weight of guilt and responsibility as each murder is discovered and tries to become engaged in the investigation, much to the frustration and concern of the police officers involved.

A

.J. McCarthy grew up with books by Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, and many other masters of mystery and suspense. She has worked in finance, raised two daughters and a couple of furry creatures, and lived her life in a small town north of Quebec City, Canada. She’s an award-winning author with four published suspense mysteries to her credit, another one to be released in June 2021, and plans to have many more to come. A.J. is a member of International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Canada.

Stay Co n n e c te d

ajackmccarthy.com 76 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged: What inspires you to write in the thriller/ suspense genre? What kind of research do you have to do? I’ve always loved thriller/suspense/mystery novels. Although, I read many different genres, they stand out as my favorites. Perhaps it’s because I love solving math problems and doing puzzles, so trying to solve a mystery is a natural extension of that passion. When I first began to write, there was never any question of writing in another genre. As for research, it would depend on the story. For By the Book, although I’ve visited Ottawa many times and have many friends in the area, I’ve never lived there, so I needed to brush up on the location or timing of a few things. I also contacted the Ottawa Police Service with some questions. In my writing, I often need to gain knowledge about certain jobs or professions, and I usually research them on the internet. At times, I also need to become knowl-


Issue 52 | November 2020 |

77


edgeable about different types of crimes, weapons, or methods of murder. I hate to think what would happen if someone monitored my search engines. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I have another novel scheduled to be released by Black Rose Writing in June 2021, so I’m working on completing the pre-beta-reader draft. Faux Friends is a spin-off of Cold Betrayal, my second novel with BRW, and it’s again set in Quebec City with some travel to Montreal. Chantal Pouliot, the police officer who was a secondary character in Cold Betrayal, moves front and center in this novel when she’s assigned to a white-collar crime case that takes a bad turn. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Have you had to change any book promotion plans because of it? The pandemic has had a big impact on my lifestyle, as it has for so many people. At this time, we are in a very-restrictive partial lockdown in Quebec, but I’m fortunate to be able to work from home, and I count my blessings every day that, so far, none of our family members or friends have contracted the disease. On the plus side, the total lack of a social life has increased the amount of time I have to write, and I’m taking full advantage of it. As far as book promotion, the release of By the Book will have to be celebrated exclusively online, since it will be impossible to hold my usual in-person book launch event and after-party. However, if that’s the biggest sacrifice I have to make as a result of this pandemic, I will do it willingly. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? That’s a tough question. There are so many au78 | UncagedBooks.com

thors that I admire. I could easily rent a large hall and I wouldn’t be able to fit them all in. For past authors, I would have to pick Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sidney Sheldon, and Mary Higgins Clark. Contemporary authors would include David Baldacci, Harlen Coben, James Grippando, Lisa Jackson, Heather Graham; the list is endless. There are so many who would have interesting stories to tell, from the big names to the relatively unknown. Everyone has lived a different journey that’s worth hearing, and I would love to learn from all of them. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Yes, often. I’m a pantser (writing by the seat of my pants), and as I’m writing, characters regularly go off on a tangent that I hadn’t intended or thought of. Most of the time, I give them free rein. I’ve found they’re


usually much smarter than I am. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? There isn’t a lot of time that I’m not either working or writing, but we’re fortunate enough to live in a lovely, quiet corner of a rural town north of Quebec City. I like to walk and enjoy the scenery. I also like to spend time with my daughter and 15-month-old granddaughter, Mia. It would be a stretch to define that as relaxing, but it’s certainly fun, exciting, and distracting. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Many measure success in dollars or quantity of books sold, but few realize the amount of hours and effort that goes into writing a novel. If an author writes with the sole goal of becoming a bestseller and independently wealthy, they should choose another field. I write because I love the process and the challenge. If I was unable to sell a single copy, I would still continue to write. In other words, I consider an author successful if they derive personal satisfaction and happiness from the task and they continue to write no matter the outcome. It’s hard work, and they deserve recognition for it. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I love to feel a physical book in my hands. However, most of the novels I’ve been reading lately are in ebook form for various reasons. When I want to treat myself, I pick up a paperback, and it feels like a guilty pleasure. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of novels by fellow Black Rose Writing authors, and I’m enjoying it immensely. My TBR pile is huge, not only because I want to encourage BRW writers, but I’m also exploring several other authors I haven’t read before. This is a new trend for me. I used to always stick to the tried and true stable of authors, and now I’ve discovered a whole new world of books and writers.

| A.J. MCCARTHY | Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I would love to thank each and every one of you who have encouraged me, written reviews, and recommended my books to others. I hope that my work has given you at least a fraction of the pleasure I had writing it.

Enjoy an excerpt from By the Book By the Book A.J. McCarthy Hard-Boiled Mystery Releases Nov. 12 A clue is left at a murder scene: a page from a paperback novel. The title of the book is Murder by the Dozen, and local author, T.L. McGinnis, cannot provide any leads. Detectives Josh Riddell and Clint Weller of the Ottawa Police Service are worried about what lies ahead. It soon becomes evident their worst fears have been realized, and a serial killer is using the novel as a guide. It’s impossible to foresee and safeguard all the potential victims, and time is running out. But who is the killer’s real target? Excerpt Chapter 1: The figure glided to the bed on soft-soled feet. The face of the intended victim was at ease, lashes dark against her pale cheeks. The curve of her lips suggested a pleasant dream. Jennifer Danvers slept the sleep of the dead, the intruder thought. The pun provoked a smile; a hand stifled a chuckle. Jennifer’s face was familiar, chosen with great Issue 52 | November 2020 |

79


| FEATURE AUTHOR | care, and it inspired a sense of excitement; the adventure had begun at last. It had taken months of planning and hour upon hour of research. A few hiccups were expected along the way, but the killer didn’t question the likelihood of accomplishing the goal. Despite a sense of elation, the hands were steady as the person leaned over the bed and wrapped latex-covered fingers around Jennifer’s throat. Her lovely blue eyes opened, startled, and her hands grabbed her assailant’s wrists as she struggled to free herself, to no avail. Training and preparation were on the killer’s side. “You should be honored.” The words were spoken with a smile, even as the fingers increased their pressure, and terror-filled eyes pleaded for mercy. “You’re perfect. The most perfect I’ve found. We’ll go down together in history.” It was over within minutes, too quick for the killer’s satisfaction, and the young woman’s body slumped, lifeless, on the bed. The act completed, the murderer took a few moments to relish the sight of her: the slack mouth, the bulbous eyes staring back, as if in wonder. Exhilaration flowed through the killer’s veins. So powerful, so clever, so much in control. A laugh escaped, a brief staccato burst. “No one will ever suspect me. They never do. I’m invisible.” The words were addressed to the body on the bed, as if expecting a response. “I may not come across as being special, but I can do whatever I want to, and I’ll prove it. You’ve been an enormous help. Thank you.” The corpse received a bright grin as a reward. “Oh, I can’t forget. I have a few things to take care of, haven’t I?” From a pocket, a pair of tweezers were removed. Unzipping a bag pinned to the front of the person’s white coveralls, a small, red plastic heart 80 | UncagedBooks.com

was extracted. Jennifer’s mouth was opened, and the heart was lodged against her tonsils. Thin lips curved into a smile of admiration before closing the victim’s mouth and blocking the heart from view. Next, the tweezers were used to pull a crisp piece of paper from the bag. The killer squatted, placed it beneath the bed, and pushed it under as far as possible, taking care not to bend or tear it. “There. Once upon a time.”

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:


jenna greene Uncaged welcomes Jenna Greene Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest release, Reborn was released in January 2019 and according to your website, you are working on the sequel. Can you tell us more about this book? Reborn is really a message about unfair prejudices and how someone can grow and change and do more than what they thought possible. In the first book, the main character (Lexil) is thrust into situations based on necessity. She flees a life of slavery and launches into dangerous terrain in order to save a young girl from a horrible fate. In the sequel, Lexil makes decisions based on principles and has to decide what she is willing to do in order to make changes to the world around her.

J

enna Greene is a middle school teacher, dance enthusiast, dragonboat coach, and semi-professional napper. She lives with her husband, Scott, and daughter, Olivia, in Alberta, Canada.

Stay Connected

jennagreene.ca

Uncaged: Do you have a release date yet for the sequel? How many books are you planning for this series? There is no release date yet, as the ‘joy’ of 2020 has stalled some processes. I can tell you, though, that there will be three books in the series. Uncaged: You also have a series out called the Imagine series. Is this series complete? Can you tell us more about it? The Imagine series is nearly complete. Three out of the four planned books are published. This is a high-fantasy series with magic and elves and adventure. Kat and Becky are swept from Earth to a new realm called Oren, where they are told they are part of the magical heritage there and have a role to play in saving people from the reign of an evil lord. Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed your life? How have you changed the marketing of your books

82 | UncagedBooks.com


this year?

a nap?)

The pandemic has changed my life in so many ways. Though my circle of friends is relatively small, I am involved in many clubs, committees, and activities. A lot of that was paused. So… more time for writing! Because I’m a teacher, mother, and coach, it has always been tricky to do in-person marketing and book events, so I’ve always relied on online marketing. I think that has benefitted me. Extra down-time has allowed me to finesse skills and strategies that were already in place.

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? Success is feeling that I have written something different and good. Something that has a place in the genre. Something that has an impact on a reader, ei-

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Jane Austen. And we’d have tea! Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? I’m pretty sure all of them have. It’s a running joke – they never behave. The story does what it wants most of the time, and so do the characters. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I dance (Jive or Broadway are my favorite styles), I paddle/ coach dragonboat, and I nap. (Who doesn’t love Issue 52 | November 2020 |

83


| FEATURE AUTHOR | ther emotionally or intellectually. It’s not book sales or awards, but simple the fact that I accomplished something. Writing isn’t easy, and can be avoided in so many ways. Writing takes dedication and perseverance and a value placed on its importance. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I like physical books but I do have a few ebooks on my phone. Right now I’m reading “Defending Jacob” by William Landay. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? “Hi fans!” (Blushes). “Thanks.”

Enjoy an excerpt from Reborn Reborn Jenna Greene Dystopian Those who bear marks on their skin are doomed to a life of slavery. Lexil has seven.

Excerpt (Chapter 12) She eased her arms forward and pressed her palms into the dirt. As soon as she lifted her back, she emitted a sound that was half-scream and half-gasp. It took a long time before she rose to her knees, and even then her body was shaking. Fresh tears rolling down her cheeks, she lifted her trembling chin and gazed at the fading stars What did I do to deserve this punishment? Nothing. They’d found an excuse. She was a slave, destined to be used and abused at the whim of others, all because she’d lived a previous life. Or so they said. Finn didn’t believe it, though it was a bit unclear whether he didn’t think doing so merited servitude. For her own part, Lexil wondered how great her former life had been. Had she been rich? Happy? Had it been such that she now deserved this fate to balance the scales. Wobbly legs struggled to support her as she rose to a standing position using the fence for balance. Lacking food, her stomach expelled bile. Wiping it from her chin, she drew in slow breaths and blinked moisture from her eyes.

Sold into servitude, Lexil must deal with brutal punishments, back-breaking labor, and the loss of every freedom. When a young child she has befriended faces a horrible fate, Lexil must intervene to protect her, no matter what the risk.

Then she saw them. The glowing orbs that stalked her each time she was alone in the dark. Like beacons, they cut through the blackness around her. Though her breathing stalled, her heartbeat remained steady. Holding still, as much for prudence as a necessity, she stared back at the shining eyes.

With the help of a boy named Finn, the trio flee into the Wastelands. There, they must evade those who hunt them while trying to survive a barren landscape. Lexil must face challenges she’s never imagined existed, all while learning what it means to truly be reborn.

A paw edged forward, just reaching the sphere of her vision, large and tinged with silver, but mostly dark. The other foot appeared a second later, accompanied by a low growl.

84 | UncagedBooks.com

“Lexil!”


| JENNA GREENE | She jerked and instinctively shut her eyes. By the time she recovered, the creature was gone. As if it stole her energy with its departure, her knees buckled, and she slumped forward. Arms slid around her. “I’ve gotcha, girlie.” Miller’s voice. Why was he here? Fear and relief collided. From her core to her exterior, she shook. The beating, the creature… all too much. As she was lifted, her lids slipped closed again, and her mind faded into blankness.

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:

Issue 52 |November 2020 |

85


C ATC H UP 86 | UncagedBooks.com

“chilling story of cult abuse… Horror readers will be hooked.” ~Publisher’s Weekly


Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! Your new book, The Children of Red Peak releases on November 17th. Can you tell readers more about this book? The Children of Red Peak is a psychological and supernatural horror novel about the fall of an apocalyptic cult and the survivors who many years later struggle to cope with their happy then horrific childhood in the group.

ful Crash Dive and Armor WW2 military historical adventure series. Both take place on aircraft carriers, one set in WW2 in the Pacific and the other in the near future. I’m also mapping out a dark fantasy series.

When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they reunite to confront their past and the entity that appeared on the last night. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice. With appeal to fans of horror like IT and Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House, the novel probes the dark side of the human search for meaning. Thematically, it explores memory, belonging, faith, and our relationship with the divine. Published by the Redhook imprint of Hachette Book Group, The Children of Red Peak (ISBN 0316428132) will be available trade paperback and eBook formats, and will be available in online and physical bookstores. Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed the way you are marketing your work? I’ve been lucky to work from home for the past 20 years, so aside from spending a month in a fog of low-grade anxiety after lockdown started earlier in the year, I haven’t seen much change in how I work. As for marketing, that hasn’t really changed much either. The biggest change is being unable to do live readings and host a book launch party, all of which must take place online. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

C

raig DiLouie is an American-Canadian writer of speculative fiction. His works have been nominated for major literary awards, translated into multiple languages, and optioned for screen adaptation. He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. Learn more about Craig and The Children of Red Peak at:

www.CraigDiLouie.com

Right now, I’m working on several series I intend to publish in 2021, which will follow up to my successIssue 52 | November 2020 |

87


| CATCH UP |

Enjoy an excerpt from The Children of Red Peak The Children of Red Peak Craig DiLouie Psychological Thriller/Horror David Young, Deacon Price, and Beth Harris live with a dark secret. As children, they survived a religious group’s horrific last days at the isolated mountain Red Peak. Years later, the trauma of what they experienced never feels far behind. When a fellow survivor commits suicide, they finally reunite and share their stories. Long-repressed memories surface, defying understanding and belief. Why did their families go down such a dark road? What really happened on that final night? The answers lie buried at Red Peak. But truth has a price, and escaping a second time may demand the ultimate sacrifice. Excerpt After living under an open sky as a member of the Family, Beth’s world had shrunk to plain boxes coated in institutional green paint, her day similarly parceled into activities monitored by psychiatric nurses. As for the Family, five still remained on the Earth, the only part of her new life that didn’t give her painful vertigo. The rest had ascended a month earlier. Left behind, Beth gazed through the wire mesh covering the rec room’s windows into sunshine, wondering why the world was still here. A world that had become colorless since the Spirit abandoned her. At night, she dreamed of red fire until her screams woke her.

88 | UncagedBooks.com

During the day, she still cried, and once she started, she couldn’t stop. Dr. Klein had a stocky build and salt-and-pepper beard and wore a stodgy tweed suit. Even after numerous sessions, she didn’t trust him. He wasn’t a believer, which made him a sinner. Worse, he was Jewish and had rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Beth often said she’d pray for him, intending it to sound cutting, but he only said, Thank you. When she said he was bound for Hell, he shrugged as if to say, That’s fine for you to believe, but not for me. When she told him about the apocalypse, he gestured toward the barred window. Outside the lion’s den, the Earth was still turning. Gripping the little cross she wore around her neck for strength, Beth had declared that he could never understand her because he wasn’t one of the chosen. He’d replied that was less important than her understanding the horrible things that had happened to her so she could process them. What happened to Mom and Daddy. No, Beth couldn’t process that, not yet, maybe not ever. Arguing with Dr. Klein was far more interesting. The psychiatrist fascinated her. He appeared immune to her beliefs, which made him an odd mix of monster and superhero. Statements that used to elicit amens and gasps in the Family succeeded only in producing one of his frustrating shrugs. She was Jacob, wrestling with the angel. He was always in control, sitting relaxed in his leather chair, his body language open and nonthreatening. She envied his self-control. One day, he showed up to their session with a book, which he thumbed to a bookmarked page and read aloud: The lightning and thunder They go and they come: But the stars and the stillness


| CRAIG DILOUIE | Are always at home.

What then?

Beth sat on the old couch facing him across the coffee table with its white box of generic tissues.

The words coalesced into a feeling that stirred her in a deep place. She imagined her mother flying through the Temple, a bizarre and unsettling image.

“What’s that mean?” she asked. “What do you think it means?” “God abides,” she answered without thinking. The psychiatrist removed his glasses and cleaned them with one of the tissues. “That’s a fair interpretation. How would you interpret it in regards to your life?”

She turned away and said, “It means whoever wrote that is a sinner.” “Now I think you’re deflecting,” Dr. Klein said. “What does that mean?”

“How would you?”

“You don’t want to feel certain things, so you redirect everything to the beliefs you were raised with or to our psychiatrist-patient relationship.”

She enjoyed turning his questions back on him.

“How did you figure that?” she said.

“I might interpret the poem to mean that big events, sometimes bad events, happen to us, but we can take comfort in remembering the calming things that remain. If I were in a storm, I might gain some peace in that.”

“Because I’m trained to understand how people think.”

Beth found this intriguing, producing a brief tug of war between playing this new game or sticking with the old. “Read me another one,” she said. He returned the reading glasses to their perch and thumbed through the book. “George MacDonald wrote that last poem. It’s called ‘A Baby-Sermon.’ Here’s one by Stephen Crane you might find meaningful.” He read: If I should cast off this tattered coat, And go free into the mighty sky; If I should find nothing there But a vast blue, Echoless, ignorant—

“So you can change their beliefs.” “No,” he said. “Well, yes, in some cases—for example, if you intend to use your beliefs to harm yourself or others. Otherwise, I’m interested solely in your well-being. At Red Peak, you suffered a period of prolonged, extreme trauma that ended with events so tragic I can’t imagine them.” “They happened for a reason.” Her voice too loud. “You need more than your beliefs. Because what happened wasn’t normal, but very, very horrible. I was trained on how people think so I can help you understand your trauma and live with it.” Beth wiped her eyes with her palms. “They were good people.” “Okay.” He caught her expression and added, “I believe you, Beth.” Issue 52 | November 2020 |

89


| CATCH UP | “What they did makes me sad and angry. My mom…”

cope with feelings of trauma, grief, and being left behind. What form of therapy would you recommend?”

“Yes…” He waited. “Yes?”

This was an interesting game.

“They’re in Heaven, and you’re a liar. You’re fake. You’re not even a real person.” She glared at the psychiatrist. Then she shuddered as she always did before losing control. A bottomless pit of despair awaited. The Spirit had abandoned her. She and her friends had betrayed the Family and let God down. They should have died too.

For the first time in months, her chaotic mind coalesced toward a sense of control, however fleeting.

Mom, what are you doing with that knife?

He sighed. “No, Beth.”

Dr. Klein studied her. “Are you all right, Beth?”

She said, “I’d tell her to cut out her heart.”

She hugged her ribs and sighed, sorry she’d yelled at him. “Why did you read me poems today?” “It’s a form of therapy designed to stimulate growth and healing. The whole idea is to get people to identify with ideas and feelings in poems as a tool of self-learning for those whose thoughts and feelings are chaotic.” Watching her closely, Dr. Klein continued. “The poem hits the brain’s artistic and emotional right side, producing an instant trigger for feelings and memories—even traumatic events—which can be viewed safely through the poem’s objective filter.” She was barely listening. “Tell me what else you do. How you fix people.” “What do you want to know? I’m thinking we might play a game.” “What kind of game?” “Let’s pretend you are Dr. Beth. I come to you for advice about a patient raised in a religious group that committed mass suicide, which she witnessed. Before that, she saw everyone she loved subjected to systematic torture. And now she is struggling to 90 | UncagedBooks.com

“I’d tell her God still loves her,” she said. “That’s good. What else?” “I’d tell her to rid herself of the source of all her sin.”

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:


J erry harwoo d Uncaged welcomes Jerry Harwood Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest book, Twelve Hours on the Block released on October 1st. Can you tell readers more about this book?

J

erry Harwood was born in Ooltewah, TN. His mother was an elementary school teacher and he spent his afternoons reading books in her classroom or the nearby library. He currently is a writer, which makes sense based on the fact you are reading this here. He has experimented with other occupations: camp director, program director at a counseling center, college professor and middle school teacher. Jerry has backpacked Europe, taught in a Ukrainian University, worked in Rwanda after the genocide, is a first responder, sort-of remodeled a VW Thing, and has a love for Cherry Coke Zero that is only surpassed by his love for his wife, six children, and grandson.

Stay Connected

jerryharwood.com 94 | UncagedBooks.com

I am a Middle School teacher and every year I teach different creation stories from the ancient world. My favorite is the Aztec story where the primary goddess is accused by her children for sleeping around when she becomes pregnant from a swallowed hummingbird feather. The feather turns into a full-grown warrior god and kills his siblings. It is a fun story and middle school boys love it. I am also a big fan of prison shows and movies whether it be Prison Break or The Great Escape. Twelve Hours is the story of two inmates trying to survive the night in a prison where some of the ancient Aztec gods are also inmates. Uncaged: You’ve been a part of several collaborations. Can you tell us how those came about? I began writing a few years ago after a life of “I’d like to do that someday.” I began because I was invited by someone to join a writer’s group in my local area. The group put together an annual (almost annual?) anthology. The stories have a wide variety since they represent all the different genres of the group members. As I be-


gan writing, I found another group, The Corner Scribblers. This group puts out a themed flash fiction each quarter that members can submit entries for. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Thanks for this question! I have three books in draft. A new adult, dystopian with some really fun characters. It has a trans-male as the lead character and I think a fun premise. The dystopian America has been impacted by a prior event. The event has gifted women with subtle superpowers (think more Black Widow or Hawkeye than Hulk or Captain Marvel) but the men have actually moved to a more primi-

tive state. I also have another Middle Grade book, this time a contemporary fantasy (think Wizards of Waverly Place or Sabrina, The Teenage Witch). I also have a young adult book in its first draft that merges time travel with Norse Mythology (Think American Gods melded with Joe Dies in the End). Uncaged: How has the pandemic changed your life? How have you changed the marketing of your books this year? My first book went to press in March, 2020. So, I have yet to market outside the pandemic. I have a great relationship with Creative Edge marketing. That connection has afforded me several podcasts, interviews,

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

95


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

guest spots on shows, written press releases, and other opportunities. I have also submitted my work more locally as my area of the world has opened back up. In fact, I was just nominated by my county school system as the book of the week! Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? William Faulkner would be my first choice. His work was the first I remember as a kid wanting to read outside the classroom. The other for the same reason is Stephen King.

96 | UncagedBooks.com

Maybe I could do lunch with both of them together? And maybe we could invite Bernard Cornwell? That might be really fun. There are so many others I admire and could easily make the list. Perhaps some that get less press would be Fritz Leiber, Mark Tufo, Larry Brown (since you opened the door to the deceased), Earnest Gaines, or GK Chesterton. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? In my Dystopian work I have a character named Leonard. He has an intellectual disability, but


| JERRY HARWOOD |

he always sees things much more clearly than everyone else in the scene. He is always running reveals I plan for later because he just says whatever is on his mind. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I am a volunteer fireman and enjoy that aspect of my life. I also love spending time with my kids and grandson. We just finished a vacation in a mountain chalet. When we came home, my three youngest and I built a “haunted tunnel” (kid friendly, of course) for our front lawn trick-or-treaters. I’ve been known to ride motorcycles or go to the movies with my amazing bride as well. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I think that is an excellent question. The one presented is always to be the best-seller who can quite their day job. I won’t turn that down, but it really isn’t my primary goal. For me it has opened up a great network of friends and fans. It is a great hobby for me in a stage of life where I can no longer go on five day camping trips, haul firehose up a hill, or similar activities. And it is always a great feeling to create something and give it life, like a story. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? Physical books. I can read a physical book in a few days. The same ebook will take me weeks. I watch my kids read on their laptops. It just

wasn’t how I was trained. I like a physical book. Not only that, but one I can dog-ear, mark-up, and highlight. Currently, I just finished Hello Universe by Kelly. A good read. I am reading some selected Lovecraft stories, getting ready for the Corner Scribbler’s anthology dedicated to his work. I am also finishing Michael Sullivan’s Age of Empyre. I love his stories. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Jerryharwood.com or email me at jerryharwoodbooksatgmail.com And thank you! Whether you bought my Middle Grade book, Jam Sessions, my horror book, Twelve Hours on the Block, or my historical fiction in Crazy Buffet, I thank you for taking time to read this scribbler’s work.

Enjoy an excerpt from Twelve Hours on the Block Twelve Hours on the Block Jerry Harwood Urban Fiction Eli hoped to do his time and get back to living life outside prison. However, that hope faded when he watched a prisoner rip a guard’s heart out and toss the body over the railing onto a funeral pyre of Issue 52 | November 2020 |

97


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

burning mattresses. The landscape of the prison begins to change as more and more strange characters strive for dominance in the anarchy that follows. Eli and his new friend, Tay, must navigate the chaos as the gods of the Aztec creation story emerge over the next twelve hours on the block. Excerpt 8:00 pm Eli had been in for less than seven hours when the flaming mattress was tossed over the second-floor balcony. Eli arrived earlier that day with two other inmates. One, set in an adjacent cell had been all the talk. Eli had seen him during entry as the men changed to their issued uniforms. Eli had considered the large hummingbird tattoo with the wings flowing across the man’s back and down his arms to be sissy and effeminate. Eli had been set in cell 38. The other two new inmates, including the one with the tattoo, were adjacent in cell 37. The guards paraded by Eli’s cell often that initial afternoon. But his cellmate assured him their slow gate pass cell 38 was really to see the man everyone knew as Hummingbird one cell over. Not seeing the attraction, Eli settled in his cot for his first night of sleep in Sunnydale Penitentiary. Hummingbird had managed to wedge his door open during the final night check. Eli recalled the sound of the first alarm, notifying guards that not all cell doors were closing. There was a general uproar in the fifty-cell facility, twenty upstairs and thirty 98 | UncagedBooks.com

downstairs. Downstairs, affectionately called the courtyard, opened the entry doors as guards began yelling for inmates to stay in their cells. The guards on the second floor began rattling their batons along the cell walls as they walked the line to see who had jammed a door. It was then that Eli saw the mattress engulfed in flames fly out of Hummingbird’s cell. An announcement was made over the intercom instructing all inmates to remain in their cells. A beep followed by cell doors reopening and attempting to close. Eli heard the footsteps outside as a guard approached. The guard’s baton raked the side of cell number 38. In cell 37, the Hummingbird exited. “Get back in your cell,” came the guard’s voice. Eli jumped down from his top bunk. He remained away from the cell door to avoid giving any intention of leaving. He wanted no part of this altercation, but he also didn’t want to miss out on his opportunity for a front row seat to an altercation. “I said get back in your cell.” The guard said to Hummingbird. The guard pulled out a Taser gun. Eli could not see Hummingbird directly with the guard stepping between Eli and the other inmate. The guard stepped toward Hummingbird. There was a loud crack and the hum of an electric current. Then the guard’s body went limp. Hummingbird held the limp body aloft and moved toward the balcony guardrail. He was


| JERRY HARWOOD |

shirtless and the hummingbird tattoo stretched from shoulder blade to shoulder blade. It was all black ink with a little grey shading. On his leftt arm was an arm length tattoo of a flaming sword. Eli could not remember seeing that tattoo previously. The sword looked as if it had serrated teeth and had some poorly done yellow tinting along the blade. The Hummingbird had all the appearances of Chattanooga’s citizen of the year. The Hummingbird, dropped the guard on the floor and stepped out of sight of Eli into cell 37. Eli next saw another prison mattress cast down to the courtyard in flames. Eli backed up into his own cell a bit, seeing how easily Hummingbird cast the heavy mattress over his head. Burnt fibers descended to the man’s bare skin. He did not flinch. “Return to your cells.” Came a voice over the intercom. Eli heard the note of fear and desperation in the intercom voice. A body, Eli assumed it was Hummingbird’s cellmate, was lifted as easily as the mattress by Hummingbird. Eli could not tell if the man was alive, but supposed it would not matter. Hummingbird tossed him over the guardrail presumably on top of the two burning mattresses. There was a raucous yell by other inmates that echoed through the prison. Eli heard footsteps on the metal catwalk outside the cells. Many prisoners were exiting their cells to see what was happening. Eli remained behind his bars even as he peered out the open cell doors. Hummingbird’s debut at Sunnydale Penitentiary was not yet finished.

Hummingbird pulled the fallen, disheveled guard up to his feet. The guard was regaining consciousness and protested with weak kicks and a scream. Hummingbird reached behind the guard and released the buckle on the protective vest. The vest dropped. Then Hummingbird pushed the guard into the railing of the balcony. The arm with the flaming sword grabbed the guard’s shirt and ripped it down the middle. The guard’s overweight belly bounced as it was exposed. “Put him down now and return to your cell,” came a voice just outside of Eli’s visual range. “I said, put Joey down and return to your cell.” Eli heard other voices. Some were the taunts of prisoners, others additional staff that had entered to regain order. The intercom continued to advise all prisoners to return to their cells and remain on their bunks. Eli knew the next moment happened in seconds. However, in Eli’s mind it replayed in slow motion and in high definition. Effortlessly, Hummingbird lifted the overweight guard off his feet, using the balcony rail to shoulder some of the burden. The guard’s feet jerked to find purchase on the metal walkway as Hummingbird held him aloft with his right hand. Eli could have sworn the guard looked at Eli, pleading with his eyes. Hummingbird’s back was to cell 38 and Eli saw the wings of the hummingbird tattoo were lifted as if in flight as Hummingbird’s muscles tensed. Hummingbird’s left Issue 52 | November 2020 |

99


| FEATURE AUTHOR |

arm extended, holding the guard up by his shirt collar. The left arm with the flaming sword tattoo raised a cupped hand. Hummingbird’s hand caught fire. Eli stepped onto the walkway, temporarily forgetting his intention to stay in his cell. This was some Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom type stuff. Hummingbird’s left arm descended and his now flaming hand penetrated the guard’s chest. The flaming hand seemed to extinguish itself and a steam arose from where Hummingbird’s arm now intersected with the guard’s chest. Hummingbird continued to push his arm into the guard’s chest cavity. Small flames flickered along the left arm where the sword tattoo began to take on a red hue. Hummingbird’s wrist extended into the guard so that the sword’s point was no longer visible. The tattoo on Hummingbird’s back filled with a bright crimson red as if the blood from the guard was moving to Hummingbird’s back and completing the design. The guard continued to look at Eli, his eyes begging for mercy. Eli felt a baton to his own back. Someone behind him yelled at him to return to his cell. Eli stepped back into the cell. Hummingbird’s hand pulled away from the guard’s chest. He dropped the guard’s body to the floor and raised a beating heart high in the air. The guard who had hit Eli dropped his baton, turned, and ran. 100 | UncagedBooks.com

A few prisoners entered into Eli’s scope of vision after leaving their own cells. They picked up the guard’s corpse, and threw it over the railing. Eli would learn later that inmates on the bottom floor were rapidly adding their mattresses to the fire. The cellmate and now the heartless guard were roasting on a makeshift pyre. Hummingbird laughed and raised the heart as high as he could. It was still beating as Eli heard the most terrifying words he could have ever imagined. “All personnel please evacuate the floor. All personnel evacuate the floor.”

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:


fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

Sarah King


S

sarah king

arah King is the author of the YA Dark Fantasy novel Of Ash & Shadow. Sarah wrote her first book at fourteen and quickly decided it would never again see the light of day. Six (never-to-be-seen-again) books later, she wrote the first incarnation of Of Ash & Shadow during her final residency at Seton Hill University‘s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. A Connecticut native, Sarah currently lives in Tampa, Florida with her very understanding, listens-to-her-rave-about-the-stupidity-of-writinga-golden-sword-into-her-book, boyfriend and two (lovingly spastic) dogs. Dogs who she honestly talks about more than her writing.

Stay Co n n e c te d

sarahkingauthor.org What was the most fun part of writing this book? The fight scenes, the banter between Wyn and Keir, and this is gonna sound silly but trying to make the most logical, smart choices for my characters. Obviously, being a writer I am also a reader. And oftentimes I read stories and part of my brain is sitting there going - this will never work - or - that’s an illogical way to get out of that situation - or that was too easy - and that bothers me a great deal. So I always try to make sure the situations that Wyn and Keir get themselves into aren’t easy to get out of; the way out of them means getting hurt 102 | UncagedBooks.com


| SARAH KING | or having to make the hard decision or not relying on convenience. They say kill your darlings, while I may not actually murder them, I am not going to make winning easy, in any way. Like I said earlier, I like to keep things on the realistic side, even though I write Fantasy and the rules are slightly different. Fight scenes are some of my favorite things to write as well. I really like to lean into them instead of shying away. I also enjoy showing sword fights instead of magical fights, though there are those as well in the story. It was fun to research them and also to learn what different weapons could do and not do. I try to show various types of weapons in the book - falchions, long swords, short swords, daggers, whips, etc - instead of just relying on everyone having a long sword, which actually isn’t good for every type of fighting. Not to mention, choosing the type of weapon each character preferred. Wyn likes to fight with daggers, which is a terrible choice when you really consider it. They’re up-close weapons, not made to go against massive swords, which means she’s always putting herself at risk using them. But, that’s her character. She has little regard for her own safety and I tried to reflect that in her choice of weapon. And of course, banter. It’s my favorite to write. I’m a sarcastic person with my friends and family, and so getting to write two very sarcastic, kind of a-hole characters was fun. I could put every caustic response into the story and bounce them back and forth between the characters, which helped add some levity to what turned out to be a dark story. Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author? For those who don’t know me, as a child I hated writing and reading. It wasn’t necessarily the act of writing, it was the fact that, as a student, I was forced to write papers that were boring and pointless. On the rare occasions I got to write fiction in lieu of papers, I excelled. I found my way back to reading thanks to my mother, who wanted to foster my love of books. She picked up Harry Potter Issue 52 | November 2020 |

103


| FEATURE AUTHOR | and the Sorcerer’s Stone at one of our book fairs (I believe) when I was about nine, and started reading to me every night. I found out later, she often stayed up after I fell asleep to finish the books herself. Harry Potter led to A Wrinkle In Time, which in turn led to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. From there, there was no stopping me. Years later, the night before my first day of Freshman year, I had a dream and awoke with the urge to write the dream down. The story was absolutely terrible, I had no clue what I was doing, and unfortunately, it became the main reason I did not do well in class - choosing to write instead of listening to my teachers. I’m sure my mother would not have been happy to hear that back then, now she’ll probably just chuckle. Though she did give me a thorough kick in the butt my sophomore year as my grades slipped, making it clear, if I didn’t get my grades up I’d never get into college. Depending on the circumstances, I have the silly need to prove people wrong. So, I became an A and B student, went to college and then ended up in graduate school to boot. During that time I wrote six or seven novels before I started Wyn’s story. That was four years ago. Four years of writing, rewriting, and endlessly editing this book, until a fellow author told me it was time to get my butt out of the editor’s chair and publish the darn thing - so here I am. 104 | UncagedBooks.com

Do you have some rituals or habits while writing? Oh, I have a terrible habit haha, I make faces while I write. When I get super deep into a scene, to the point where the outside world is completely out of my mind, I end up making the faces I assume my character is making at that moment. Which is terrible when I’m writing anywhere I can be seen, because I probably look like a deranged madwoman. Rituals - no, there isn’t anyone thing I MUST do to write. I taught myself to read/write from a young age in noisy places so I can pretty much drown out the world no matter where I am when writing. Sometimes I’ll play music if there is a song that particularly inspires me during that chapter. In the End by Black Veil Brides, was pretty much the anthem for Wyn’s story, though I listened to their whole catalog of music while writing book one. Another habit, which is probably something most writers do, is daydreaming what’s happening in the next scene. If I can’t write at that moment, I’m usually daydreaming about what Wyn is saying, or Keir, or what they’re doing. One habit I try not to do is daydream about chapters in the future cause I’m a linear writer. If I jump around from chapter to chapter, I tend to have timeline issues and inconsistencies. What attracted you to this genre? Did Wyn influence the genre or did the genre influence Wyn? I love fantasy in general but the more I edited and rewrote the story, the darker it got. Sometimes I think I’m such a happy person that I’ve gotta make my stories super dark to balance things haha but the more I told Wyn’s tale, the more I realized that it’s a dark story that deserves to be told in the grittiest manner. So I leaned


into the darkness and it really suited me and what I wanted to get across. So, I’d say that Wyn actually influenced the genre as a character more than the genre influenced how I portrayed her character. In my head, I always saw her like Negasonic from Deadpool, but she ended up evolving from just this very b****y character to someone who was really hurting and I wanted her story to be one of a bada** warrior to a bada** warrior who learned how to soften and forgive. I think true strength isn’t just about being strong or independent but being able to accept and express all of the things we feel in a healthy manner, which means accepting the light and dark about ourselves Without giving away spoilers what scene or character was your favorite to write? In, I believe, Chapter Eight there is a scene with Fireflies and it was absolutely one of my favorite scenes to write. Up until this point Wyn’s character hadn’t been tested or broken at all and to go on this journey which would be a literal stripping down of everything that she is and knows and then a rebuild of the woman she is meant to be, I needed to have a catalyst scene where something small became the straw that broke the camels back. For Wyn, it was this firefly scene. It was the moment where she literally just breaks down and I tried to really make it raw and emotional for not just her but the reader as well because I want the reader to feel her emotions with her. I’ve been building up her backstory to this moment to give this scene weight when the most innocuous little thing is that last straw. It was so much fun to write and from that moment onward there was no going back, there was no stopping that runaway train that was barreling toward her destiny.

Enjoy an excerpt from: Of Ash and Shadow

| SARAH KING | Of Ash & Shadow Sarah King YA Fantasy The Fae stole everything from Wyn. Her home. Her family. Her soul. Now they want Her help. A murderer for hire, but this mission – kill the Shadow Queen, the boogeyman of the realm – is a suicide mission. At best! If she doesn’t say yes, they’ll steal more of the small family she’s piecemealed together since dragging her ass out of Faerie three years ago. Guided by a vaguely familiar dark elf, Wyn must traverse the Shadow Court, a barren wasteland with toxic air populated by nightmarish creatures. Faerie warps everything it touches. And helping them? Means giving them the last part of herself. Her humanity. Excerpt Wyn braced her elbows on her knees. Dug her stubby nails into the sides of her jaw. How did she process this information? Sympathy? Understanding...nah. She shook her head. Snark it was. “Not so warm and fuzzy, is she?” Tick, tick, tick…tock. Prince Orin laughed. Though, it was humorless. The sound grated against her eardrum. Like the sound of a mudslide sloshing down a mountainside or of boulders crashing like thunder against each other as they toppled downhill. Or, like the shattering of hope, as a pane of glass Issue 52 | November 2020 |

105


| FEATURE AUTHOR | might from the neighbor kid’s poorly aimed fastball. After five long minutes of fetid silence, weighed down by the magnitude of his statement, the crack of his laughter through the echo-chamber made Wyn jump. Broke her from the loop she’d been in, thinking on how this entire shit storm was his fault. “Was she human?” she asked, leaning her cheek on the palm of her hand so she could stare at him sideways. Watch for his reactions as much as listen. Prince Orin’s eyes closed, and his lips sank like the Titanic—quick and hard. “I thought so.” “What does that mean?” Wyn’s gaze narrowed. Orin opened his eyes, turned his head to meet her gaze square on. “Do you know what a Changeling is?” “Intimately,” she said, word clipped by the knot in her throat at the mention of this particular fae species. Wyn was a scholar on the Changelings. Knew them as well as she knew the arches, whorls, and loops of every soldier’s thumbprint. Body identification wasn’t always easy, often fingerprints were lost, but they didn’t exactly have dental records on hand within the small army she called family. She’d called a changeling family once. Offspring of fae, deemed too sickly to survive within Faerie, they were exchanged for a human child, to be raised on Earth—where their faerie powers, what little they had of them, would be dampened by the lack of magic. Faerie warps the human child left to grow within its borders, unprotected, until it is no longer human, but fae. A transfer of power in the fae’s eyes. Little issue for them, giving up a child to steal a perfectly healthy one in return. A balancing act with a deadly cost when the barrier disintegrated. Melisandre looked human, acted human, thought 106 | UncagedBooks.com

herself human. Little of her fae heritage apart from enhanced physical beauty would have remained as evidence. Wyn’s chest tightened. A car jack pressing her ribcage into her lungs inch by inch. Salty tears burned the rims of her eyelids. She bit down hard on her tongue to halt the emotional close call. Changeling children were the first to be unmasked when the barrier broke. Changeling children were the first to feel the magic bleed into the human realm. Changeling children were the first fae to go on killing sprees as the power drove them to insanity. “Please, Wyn, d-don’t do this.” Wyn stared down in frozen horror at the wide, iceblue eyes of her best friend whose face wore Dylan’s blood like war paint. “You’re fae…?” Wyn blinked and she was on her feet, storming the length of the room and back. Her fingers curled into fists and back again, each lap of the room doing little to dissuade her mind from throwing the first punch. Bile was the mountain climber ascending her throat, digging his pick axe into the tender flesh with each inch upward. Fast stepping it to the window, she threw it open and shoved her head outside into the cool breeze. She tried to count the hours since her last meal. Six? Eight? Twelve? It was long enough she couldn’t remember. Still, her stomach heaved and deposited a steaming waterfall of bile to the flowerbeds below. Her mouth burned, and the world spun before her eyes, winking in and out like a light with a faulty bulb. Resting her forehead against the windowsill, she wrenched the back of her forearm across her mouth dragging away spittle and bile. Memories exploded inside her mind. Of her best friend’s mouth open in a silent scream, bloodied hands raised in shaky defense. Of her first kill and the sulfuric smoke that brought her to a similar position, puking her guts out in front


of two corpses. One of which she’d created with a fire poker. Her ledger transcended a little black-bound notebook. It was a one terabyte hard drive, squeezed for every kilobyte of space. Cyrus preached forgiveness of self, and forgetfulness of the lives lost. Most took those words of wisdom to heart. She took them as a challenge. To never forget. Too many people were being forgotten. Someone needed to remember the long dead. Dead and lost and to her never forgotten. Each kill, each memory, was penance paid for Dylan. Wyn took one last, long draw of fresh air and returned to sit beside Orin. “I plunged a fire poker through a changeling’s icy heart.” “Your brother’s murderer?” She nodded. Couldn’t meet his gaze. Swallowed hard around the lump of rotting memories in her throat. “Melisandre was a changeling,” he said. “There was... no way to know…”

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

107


R E V I E W S

R E V I E W S 11 0

uNCAGED BOOKS uNCAGEDBOOKS.COM

11 6

FANG FREAKIN TASTIC fangfreakintasticreviews.com

120

AMY’S BOOKSHELF

writeramyshannon.wixsite.com/bookshelfreviewS


Uncaged Reviews A Highlander to Have and to Hold Tammy Andresen Scottish Historical

She’s desperate for help… Rose Morningstar has sunk as deep as any woman could without selling her body and her soul. After the death of her father, she’s been tossed out of her home and barely surviving with her sisters in a cheap Dockland’s inn. When a sea captain finally agrees to transport them to Scotland, she doesn’t know quite how to thank him. Never mind, he’s irritated by her very presence. She’s determined to let him know just how much she appreciates his help,

Uncaged Review: We begin the story with Rose and her two sisters, Lily and Daisy, staying at a seedy hotel, having secured a passage by ship to Scotland, to their Aunt’s home. After their father died, and a horrible cousin far removed, took over the inheritance, he tossed them out to fend for themselves. With the help of her friend Fiona, they hurry to leave England behind. What they weren’t prepared for was the Captain of the ship, Colin, who has his own past heartaches to attend with. As they both contend with their pasts and their growing attraction, Colin isn’t sure he’s what is best for Rose. But don’t underestimate Rose. This is a fun story, and I love the spunk and determination of Rose and the sisters are fun characters and I look forward to reading their stories in this series. Reviewed by Cyrene

110 | UncagedBooks.com

A Scot to Keep Tammy Andresen Scottish Historical She’s sworn never to marry…

Lady Lily Morningstar has learned the hard way that men often let a woman down. She’ll make her own future, thank you very much. She’s trained to be a midwife, a career that will allow her to provide for herself. Except for when Lily is travelling on the road late one night after attending a patient, she is attacked by thieves. When a lone man rescues her, she begins to question the validity of her plan to brave life alone.

Uncaged Review: Lily is practicing as a healer – never wanting to be in the position that she can’t take care of herself in the future because of what happened to her and her sisters. When she’s walking home from aiding a birth, she’s attacked on the dark road, and Ewan, a Laird to the adjoining land, rescues her and suffers and injury. Colin arrives and gets him back home where Lily continues to oversee his recovery. This is a nice shorter read, and falls in line with the series nicely. Lily is determined not to marry, and Ewan is smitten with her. This book was a tad too short, and the HEA comes a bit too fast, but it’s still an easy read that was endearing. Reviewed by Cyrene


A Laird to Remember Tammy Andresen Scottish Historical She’s picked the perfect husband… Lady Daisy Morningstar knows exactly who she wants, Lord Price. The problem? A burly laird goes out of his way to ruin her reunion with Price. She should hate the Scot. He’s strong and willful and forever inserting himself in her business. But he’s also… well frankly he’s simply… unforgettable. He’s trying to prove himself…

Uncaged Review: Out of this series, I think this was my favorite. This story brings us to Daisy, the youngest and the spitfire of the group. Lord Price is coming to Scotland, and Daisy is positive he is the one for her after one meeting several years ago. But a Laird also coming over to do business with Colin seems to be getting in the way. First his horse knocks her into the mud and bruises her shoulder, and now she can’t get him off her mind. This shorter story has a lot going for it, two people need to get past what happened to them long ago, and move on and learn to trust, and to see that some people aren’t who they appear. This was a sweet story that I actually had wished was longer. Reviewed by Cyrene

Fall of the Lyon Chasity Bowman Historical Victorian Faced with the devastating and impending loss of her stepfather and the all too real threat of unscrupulous relatives who would have her inheritance at any cost, Miss Margaret Upshaw flees to London. Her stepfather has tasked her to make her way to the Lyon’s Den to seek the assistance of Mrs. Bessie Dove-Lyon, the most scandalous matchmaker in all of London. Her matches aren’t made in the ballrooms of Mayfair, but over the faro tables and a notorious betting book in the gaming hell she rules with an iron fist in a velvet glove. Uncaged Review: This is the first book I’ve read from this author, and it definitely won’t be my last. The book is part of a connected world of the Lyon’s Den, and the matchmaker Mrs. Bessie Dove-Lyon, who is a notorious matchmaker from a gaming hell in London – and is the connection to all the books in the series from different authors. In this book, describing words can be danger, deceit, suspense, villians, loyalty and love. When Meg is pushed to marry Leo, a Viscount who needs a wealthy match, by her ailing stepfather, Meg travels to the gaming hell to meet with the matchmaker. This book has horrible villians – and as the mystery unravels, and they are exposed – all will come crashing down in a hurry. The characters were easy to connect with and worth cheering on. This is a standalone book in this series with a HEA and a nice epilogue to wrap it up. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

111


Uncaged Reviews Jinn’s Dominion Shannon Mayer Urban Fantasy There was nothing that could have prepared me for Dragon’s Ground. And I thought that nothing could be worse than what I faced there. Just my black cat bad luck, the world is set to prove me wrong. South lies the Jinn’s Dominion and within it the members of my Pride who need my help. The further south we go, the more danger comes not only from outside our group but from within. Uncaged Review: The action and the plot is ramping up for Zam and her group. As they begin to make their way to Jinn’s Dominion, Marsum takes over Maks mind, and he seems lost to Zamira, but his few moments of clarity prove that Maks is still there, and she will need to break free without him. We find out more about both Zamira and Maks, and their pasts – some of it a bit surprising, some I sorta guessed, but still huge revelations. And Zamira needs to rescue her pack from Marsum, and she will add to her pack as she goes and receives aid from unexpected places… This book is nonstop and there is some heartbreaking moments that I hope will resolve in future books – a highly recommended series. Reviewed by Cyrene

Shadow City Anna Mocikat SciFi/Dystopian Los Angeles is an apocalyptic wasteland. Without orientation, Colton stumbles through the vast, deserted city. Uncaged Review: Most of the time when I read a dystopian future novel, we have a good idea what happened to the Earth to become that way, whether it be human fault, a virus, a meteor, aliens, etc. There always seems to be a “plausible” explanation that turns the world into a “Walking Dead” or “Mad Max” scenario. The world that is created here is a little more vague, which is one of the negatives for me. Although the world is crafted in detail, the events leading to it (The Glitch) wants us to suspend belief and try to wrap our heads around a rift in a parallel dimension or world. Out of this rift, comes the Dark Ones and monsters of human hungry proportions. Set in the city of Los Angeles, the only thing protecting what’s left of humanity in this city is in the Zone, protected by the Force. Vampires in this book are protectors of humans, since the extinction of humans would be the end of their long lives. Many characters are multi-faceted and will be interesting to see who they are in upcoming books. Vincent – is definitely not human and taken over a body for a mission. Eurydice is a rogue vampire who is an enforcer for the Dark Ones and is taken with Vincent – and who gets prominent attention on the cover of the book, although at this point, she is no hero. Colton, who has no memory of who or what he is, is also an interesting mystery along with Bombshell, a female Robocop of sorts. This book is dark, and well described, and borderlines on horror. But it’s well worth the read if you are looking for a dystopian book that is not all about zombies, although those seem to make their way into this series as well, just a bit different than most. Reviewed by Cyrene

112 | UncagedBooks.com


Chosen Adam Dark & Matthew Thrush Urban Fantasy

A haunting past. A book of secrets. A demon looking for revenge. Eleven years ago, Ben Robinson burned down a house with a demon inside, only to watch his best friend die in the fire. Now he’s haunted by nightmares of his dead friend warning him of impending doom.

Uncaged Review: This story was pretty good, after you get past the 50% mark. It started a tad slow for me, it had one good action sequence in the beginning, and then sorta stalled out, although I won’t get to critical as it’s the first in a series – so we are getting to know the world. The three main characters, or maybe I should say four, but that would give too much away, Ben, Pete and April sort of fall into this demon hunting thing. When Ben and Pete were kids, they witnessed 4 of their friends murdered in a haunted house, barely escaping. For years, doctors thought Ben was crazy, hearing voices, having realistic nightmares. Finally learning to cover it up, he got out from under doctors and made it to college. But then the voices start again…Ben and April attend a frat party that has a demon possessing a guy’s body, and lights the house on fire – with Ben doing his best to the voice in his head trying to help – by getting the drunk kids out. When he tells Pete he’s hearing voices again and having dreams that their friend Ian is still alive, they decide they need to go back to that house.

Midnight Temptation Shari Nichols Paranormal Romance

When tarot card reader Gillian Howe hosts a supernatural speed dating event, she’s hopeful to discover her chance at love. Making the perfect match is her passion. Too bad she can’t find one for herself.

Uncaged Review: The featured characters in the 2nd book of the series, we met in book one. Alex and Willow are engaged, and we do see them pop up in this book, but they do not take any major roles in this book. This time, Gillian hosts a supernatural speed dating event with her cousin Brooke, and an event partner in Kurt Lawrence, a vampire with many high connections. When invited up to the penthouse afterward for an exclusive party – they find a human trafficking ring and Brooke is kidnapped. Garrett, a vampire on the police force has to keep Gillian safe, since she’s been targeted. And that’s not going to be easy, since Garrett and Gillian have had their issues in the past. This is a good book, with plenty of action, danger and romance. If you take the supernatural out of this, is plays out like a good episode of Law and Order. Heat level is higher. I think my only issue with it is toward the end with Garrett, but it’s not a huge deal. Looking forward to the next book. Reviewed by Cyrene

There is some good action once it gets moving, and some good dialog with enough humor to break up the horror of the demons and to keep it interesting. I think it’s a good start to a series and a good introduction to this world and characters. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

113


Uncaged Reviews Psi-Wars Various Scifi/Horror Anthology From Atlantis to the Third Reich and beyond, these thirteen original cerebral tales of science fiction and horror explore the evils that abound when humanity wields extraordinary minds as weapons, whether to wage war or prevent it. Steeped in psychic savagery, telekinetic combat, and extrasensory espionage, PSI-WARS imagines corrupt governments and daring operatives, gods and soldiers and hackers and spies. The authors don’t flinch when they peer around the darkest, most violent corners of the human psyche. Will you? Uncaged Review: This anthology was an unexpected read for me. I’ve read a lot of scifi in my reading life, but I’ve never been huge on anthologies, but this is a good one. This bases around wars, and the psychic abilities, some steeped into true historical times. From the first story of Simon helping the Nazis to beat the Americans in WWII with his voice, and the horror of not being able to stop. A standout for me is THE VISIONS OF PERRY GODWIN by Dean Wyant – where Perry has visions of people’s deaths, but it becomes a very useful talent during the WWII. There is not a bad story in the bunch of these 13 short stories. I had picked it up planning on reading a couple of the stories at a time, and ended up finishing the whole book. A well done anthology that is a worthy read. Reviewed by Cyrene

114 | UncagedBooks.com

Woke Peggy Jaeger Contemporary Romance Waking up each day is a gift…. On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Uncaged Review: When it comes to contemporary romance, it normally takes something pretty special for me to go all in. But this author has a way of accomplishing that and this story is suspenseful, honest and enchanting, all in one. Taken as a modern day Sleeping Beauty, this book hit most of the spots for me. A charming story that I could easily put back on my to-be-read-again shelf. We meet Aurora on the night of her 21st birthday, a rich socialite that is continually in the society pages and in the rag newspapers about her party life, until her party is upended with her being drugged and sent into a 10 year coma. The book then picks up 15 years later, when Aurora has worked hard to get her life back after 10 years in a coma. Slowly the pieces of her life, and the night she almost died comes together, and the author does it an unhurried and organic way that will keep you up late reading. There is one typo that repeats quite often, about retired detective Nick Ramon, which spells his last name “Roman” a few times, but it’s easy to discard. Along with a nice mystery, there is a wonderful love story and also a story of loyal friends. Easily recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene


War Hammer Shayne Silvers Urban Fantasy

Torn by Vengeance Sally Brandle Romantic Suspense

Two old dudes want to kill me. Oh, and one of them is my ancestor… And after centuries of practice, they’re pretty good at the whole murder thing. But at least they want to kill each other just as badly. Now, I’ve taken down a Greek Goddess, worn a Horseman’s Mask, and I ride a homicidal unicorn who hates rainbows with a passion. Some might say sending two senior citizens to a permanent retirement home should be a breeze.

Corrin Patten is solidly on a path to make partner in a prestigious Seattle law firm when an ominous threat from her past turns deadly. She can handle circumstances necessitating a temporary move to the backwater town of Emma Springs, but its charming physician is another matter, as she’s issued a permanent moratorium on men.

It ain’t.

Uncaged Review: I love how this author takes us to Emma Springs. The way this town and area are described makes me feel like I’ve actually been there and the author is bringing up memories – that is truly a gift. This is the 2nd book in this series, and it’s a solid suspense. Corrin is staying in Emma Springs after she receives threats on her life in Seattle as a lawyer, at least until the threat is over. But she didn’t count on meeting Kyle, a country doctor. This sort of reminded me of the movie Doc Hollywood in reverse, where Michael J. Fox’s character was stranded in a small town and worked as the town doctor for a short time. But even though Corrin is hiding, the danger finds her anyway.

Uncaged Review: The stage is set to return to the Land of Fae, to save Ashley and Pan. But to go back there, is risky, many people are wanting Nate’s head. But many new secrets are revealed that are shocking and even more questions are haunting both Nate and the reader. Some of the characters will come into their own in this one. This book is action packed and not as heavy as the last book, it continues to progress and stay fresh and exciting. I really hope Nate gets some down time soon, he needs to sleep for about a week straight. I like that Callie came back briefly, which is (hopefully) setting the base for a relationship with Nate in the future. She’s a thousand times better choice for Nate than Indie was. This series also has a couple of different spin-offs now, and it’s a universe that keeps on giving. Reviewed by Cyrene

This is a nice suspenseful and clean romance that brews nicely and it’s nice to watch the attraction grow between the two with the twists along the way. These are books that I may go back and reread all in a row, and even though they are one series – you can easily read them as standalones. Reviewed by Cyrene

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

115


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Haunting Charlie Wendy Wang Psychic Thriller/Occult All Charlie Payne wants is to lead a normal life and to be a good mom. But Charlie’s not exactly normal. She’s from a long line of witches and she can see the dead. Susan Tate has inherited a beautiful old southern mansion on the coast. Unfortunately, the property came with a million necessary repairs. And ghosts. When Charlie meets Susan, the woman is desperate for help. Taking on a spirit who doesn’t want to see the light can be dangerous but ignoring it? Ignoring the dead can get you killed. Haunting Charlie is the first in a spine-tingling new Supernatural Suspense that will have you clinging to the edge of your seat. If you like stories with psychics, ghosts and witches, then you will love the Witches of Palmetto Point Series by Wendy Wang!

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Holy goddess, I have found an awesomely fun new series in The Witches of Palmetto Point. From the first few pages until the last, I couldn’t put it down. I was fully wrapped up in this story. So much so that I read the entire thing in one day. I got nothing else done. My family was not impressed. I love this family. This is the kind of family I wish I had. As someone who grew up in the south (North Carolina), I grew up around other families like this. Their family is everything to them, as are southern manners. I love that the cousins are all so close and accepting but protective of one another. I know this family doesn’t exist to some. To those who have never seen a family like this first hand, I can understand why it wouldn’t be

116 | UncagedBooks.com

realistic to them, but I can promise you they do exist. Only without the magic. Or at least as far as I know without the magic lol. Generally speaking, ghost stories are among my favorite types of stories. I’m really picky about my witch books, but this one is exactly what I like. There are some darker aspects to this story, but don’t let that scare you away. Most legends are rooted in some level of truth so, unfortunately, there are truly people on this earth both in the past and the present. This really is a great book and I look forward to the rest of the series. It’s nice and long too, so I’ll have plenty to keep me occupied. The Witches of Palmetto Point is interesting and exciting while keeping the southern roots of the characters realistic.


The Cobalt Warrior F.L. Journey Occult Horror Theo Cerberus is a Warrior. Until recently, his life consisted of feeding Diego, his Bull Mastiff and canine companion and playing video games. He also happens to be one of three handpicked by Hades himself to protect the Gate to the Underworld. Usually his job is boring. Check Reapers in and out, and make sure no souls get rowdy. If it wasn’t for also helping Hades around his vineyard in Hood River Oregon, Theo would have it pretty easy. However, that was all about to change when a Reaper arrived at the gate unexpectedly, and memories that should have stayed buried began to surface. Memories of the love of his life walking out the door without a second glance. Panterra is a Reaper. She’s finally allowed to gather souls again. However, the first job she is given happens to be gathering a soul she loved and left centuries ago. Is her love for Theo stronger than the promise of freedom? More lies in the balance than just Panterra’s heart and Theo’s soul. The fate of the Underworld is beginning to shift, and fulfilling her task may prove the tipping point.

Having Cerberus represented as 3 brothers with dogs was a unique way to do it. I thought it was a creative approach that gave everything a bit more humanity I guess you could say. Each brother is unique in his own right as well as their animal companions. The inclusion of other mythical beings added an extra level of fantasy without the fantasy aspect being too much fantasy for my taste. I’m not big on traditional fantasy, so it’s easy to become too much for me. Overall, this was a good read. It kept my interest, and there were surprises around every corner. The characters were easy to like or hate and the underlying mystery of what was going on wasn’t easily figured out early, which is appreciated.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: What a great start to a new series. I’ve only recently started reading many books about reapers and the underworld, but this one definitely grabbed my attention because it feels different from the others I’ve read. I loved the incorporation of Cerberus, the three headed hound that guards the gates to Hell. It moves along at a pretty good pace, though I will say I didn’t love the first chapter. I understand why it was there, it just wasn’t my favorite. It took me a little bit to get to why it was relevant, but once I realized why, I understood why it was necessary.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

117


Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Shadowland Thorne & Cross Ghost Fiction/Short IT’S NOT A POLTERGEIST . . . IT’S A POLTERGHOST! Things are hopping at Ravencrest Manor. . . Things that shouldn’t be able to hop. Like eggs. And mops. A helmet flies off a suit of armor. In the wake of the exorcism, governess Belinda Moorland has been concentrating on her lessons, determined to end the Manning Curse, but now she and Grant must figure out who the practical-joking spirit is that’s plaguing the manor and what it wants before things escalate and people are hurt. Meanwhile, in the Raven Woods, an elemental force has awakened from a long sleep … and those who live in Ravencrest Manor are in grave peril. THE WANDERER . . . Hearing a twig break behind him, Riley turned. There was nothing there. There never was. Once in the glen, you never heard birdsong, and no creature - no deer, no rabbit or coyote, ever came to drink here. They knew it was death. The black water of Naiad Pond shivered, but there was no breeze. Riley stiffened, scented the air. The smell of dark water filled his senses until he felt as if he were drowning. Another windless ripple. Riley ran.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Just when I started to go into withdrawal from hearing about the going’s on at Ravencrest, The Shadowlands comes out. I have become so invested in this series that I feel like I know the characters personally. There-

118 | UncagedBooks.com

fore, I feel like I should be able to tell Belinda to get it together. This is a great start to this part of the saga. The polterghost is just enough to be entertaining, but being that it’s at Ravencrest, I can’t help but wonder when it will get dark. The new character, Ryan, is likeable and interesting and I can’t wait to hear more about him. The Wanderer makes me really nervous because nothing good can come of it and Cordelia has been surprisingly quiet. I don’t trust that woman one bit. As usual, Grant provides the comfort of a loved uncle who just happens to kind of know everything. This series has kept my attention all throughout the books. They are always entertaining and full of surprises. Polterghost has a lighthearted feel to it, but there is definitely something sinister bubbling under the surface. I can’t wait to see what will happen next.


Red Eye Season 3, Episode 1 Riley & Constant Dystopian/Horror

A new location brings new terror as Rose and Sam find themselves at the mercy of Barrett’s crew, the Sins. Now separated from both Sam and Nolan, Rose is a caged animal, terrified but determined to find the people she cares about the most. But how much can one person take? More than ever, Rose would give anything to be sat in a boring office back in England right now. Sam’s secret is never safe; that’s a reality she’s learning to live with. Barrett has protected her up until now, yet surrounded by his so-called family, she wonders how long it will be before he turns on her…

With each episode of this series, we get deeper and deeper into the apocalypse. Society is breaking down and around every corner is a new horror. These 2 authors do an amazing job of bringing out the very dregs of society to be survivors in the zombie apocalypse. Isn’t that just the way though? Just when you think people can’t get any worse, Riley and Constant bring out a new beastie of one kind or another. Not all monsters are zombies. I really can’t get enough of this series. The action, the excitement, the gore. All of it. Each episode gives me another thrill I wasn’t expecting and I look forward to how these authors will make me cringe each time. I do wish the episodes were longer, but that’s just me being greedy. It’s like having to wait a week for the next episode of your favorite show to come on to find out what will happen next. I’m convinced these authors are sadists. But I love every minute.

Sam longs for the days when her biggest problems were a failed relationship, too many carbs, and a sprained ankle. Life has never been easy, not before the zombies and certainly not after. But even with the dead rising, it is the living that cause the most problems. It’s the humans that elicit the most fear, that make the apocalypse bloodier, that kill anyone necessary to survive. Between humans, zombies, and the desire for brains, the world’s getting darker by the hour. And the two unlikely friends need one another more than ever. That doomed red-eye flight seems a lifetime ago…

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Red Eye season 3 epi-

sode 1 picks up right where season 1 ended. Rose is being held by Nathan in the Sins’ dirty little world, Sam is protected by the watchful eye of Barrett and Nolan is nowhere to be found. Or is he?

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

119


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews A Dose of Deadly Intentions Lucia N. Davis Ghost Fiction Sara Eriksson is back in San Francisco to end the lease on her old apartment. This should be straightforward, but the moment she arrives, she is confronted with painful memories she’d rather not deal with. Her boyfriend David can’t be there to support her, and the handsome stranger she keeps running into isn’t helping either. Amy’s Review: Magnificently suspenseful Davis pens a remarkable story in A Dose of Deadly Intentions. I have read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed it, especially the book that came before this one. The characters were realistic and had many layers of depth and humanity. This author brings the stories to life. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. This author is not just a writer but a great storyteller. Secrets of the past, haunting of memories, and trying to put the past where it belongs. Sara is a strong character, but I like how she is also vulnerable, especially when it comes to learning the truth. If you love a great suspenseful and mysterious story, this book should be next on your list. This story was intriguing and kept the reader guessing.

120 | UncagedBooks.com

Two Murders Too Many Bluette Matthey Suspense Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster. Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth. Amy’s Review: Magnificently suspenseful Matthey pens a intriguing story in Two Murders Too Many. Hmm, small town and unexpected murders! A definite lure for any reader who, 1 is familiar with Matthey’s work, and 2, loves a good suspenseful, thrilling story. Matthey is a remarkable story teller, and this story shows that. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. Love this story. It’s the kind of story that you read every single word so you don’t miss a thing. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. I have fast become a big fan of Matthey.


Hinterland L.M. Brown Family Fiction

Mango Bay Serena Fairfax Contemporary Romance

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was while pregnant.

Jazz clubs, yacht clubs, aunty bars and a Bollywood beauty shadowed by her pet panther. This is glamorous Bombay in the late 1950s.

Amy’s Review: Magnificent read, indeed! Brown pens a powerful and dramatic story in Hinterland. I am already a big fan of Brown’s work, and this story is just a wonderfully, dramatic page-turner. The characters, such as little Kate, and Nicholas meld perfectly in this story. It’s full of drama, and both heartfulling and heart breaking intensity. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. I’ve read Brown’s work, as I am a fan, but I believe (at least right now) this is by far my favorite. The characters are on their own life’s journey, surrounded by unanswered questions. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. “There were moments throughout the day when she would feel her mother’s presence like a ghost. Afternoons, when Nicholas rose and reluctantly walked out of her room, she’d watch her father’s back and imagine her mother in the room, her bright eyes lingering, not on the departing figure, but on Kate and she’d feel a weight of sadness too big for a little girl.” It’s a intriguing story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.

Amy’s Review: Wonderfully grand read!

Fairfax pens a remarkable story in Mango Bay. It’s been a while since I’ve read Fairfax’s work, and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do it again. The characters were interesting and very intriguing. This author brings the story to life. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. It is a mix of different genres, but if you’re a romantic who also loves intrigue and learning about a new culture, this is the book for you. For one, so the reader can understand easily, she places a glossary of terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. There are so many levels to this story, its culture clashes, the romance, historical (1950’s), and then, of course, the lives of Audrey and Nat, trying to keep each other, and bring the cultures together to get their happily ever after. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. This story was intriguing and kept the reader guessing. It is also one of those inspiring stories, and the reader learns about the different cultures and the rituals. Fairfax writes, “Audrey stole a glance at her parents, the atmosphere in the sitting room having reached the right cool, disengaged temperature that she judged to deliver the news of her wedding. ... There was a pause then Margaret sent her a bleak look. ‘You didn’t tell us you were courting. And now you say you’re married? To an Indian? To a Jew?’ She shook her head. ‘It’s unthinkable ...” And that’s just the start.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

121


Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Benevolent Lords of Sometimes Island Scott Semegran Suspense The summer of 1986. Central Texas. William and his friends should be having a blast. Instead, they are hounded by the Thousand Oaks Gang and their merciless leader, Bloody Billy. William found Billy’s backpack. And because of what it contains, Billy desperately wants it back, and he’ll do anything to get it. Amy’s Review: Captivating story! Semegran pens a magnificent story in The Benevolent Lords of Sometimes Island. I have read work from this author before, and I really enjoyed it, but I think thus far, this is my favorite of his stories. The characters were intriguing and it’s a wonder to imagine having to survive danger, with the goal of going against the gangs in the 80’s. Filled with thrills and chills, this story brings William and also Bloody Billy (not the same person), to life. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. Love this story.

122 | UncagedBooks.com

The Divine Devils R. Weir Organized Crime Thriller The call going out to former US Marshal, Hunter Divine. An erstwhile lover who broke Paige’s heart. A man whose current existence is leaping from job to job and bed to bed. Hunter taking the case hoping for salvation in his futile life Amy’s Review: Weir has done it again! Weir pens a remarkable story in The Divine Devils. It’s different than his usual Jarvis Mann stories, but Weir is still a magnificent story “shower.” I have been a fan since I first read one of his books, and anything he writes, I will read. I like how there is the play on words with Hunter Divine’s name, and how he is a hunter on the side of divinity, while being on the trail of this remarkably evil antagonist. It’s thrilling, and has a lot of chills, as it also has that touch of devilish touches. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story as always and I definitely enjoyed it. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. The author’s technique of intense characters and great plotlines is a gift. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters.


Those Left Behind Melina Druga Historical Fiction

Forgotten Stars Elena Botts Poetry

Change isn’t always for the best. Just ask the Stewards.

Poetry collection. No links or description available.

1914. The Steward family is eagerly preparing for the event that will forever bind them to the Bartlettes: the wedding of Hettie and Geoffrey. Little do the families know that the winds of war brewing in Europe soon will rip them apart. Amy’s Review: Magnificent story Druga pens a wonderfully historical story in Those Left Behind, as part of her WWI series. I read the one that came before it, and though I liked that one, I absolutely loved this one. The characters, the Stewards, continue in this story from the one before. This author brings the many stories within the to life. It’s 1914, and the lives of the Steward family and the Bartlettes are coming together, but with the war lingering around their lives, there is great tension. It’s a story of survival as well as family, and how to overcome obstacles, and deal with what life throws at you. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. This author is not just a writer but a great storyteller. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages.

Amy’s Review: Simply elegant This collection of poetry by Botts is a remarkable work of words. Forgotten Stars is one of those books of emotions and prose that paint across the page. I enjoyed reading this collection, and entering the mind of this prolific poetess. Such a wonderful read. My favorite was “And the lights go out in the middle of the night,” which starts with “don’t. everyone is. i think gone even without a word. i live in a ghost town wandering through memory for rainy eternity. a dream that girl led for a briefest spell but all is done now, one drenching anonymous day and spirits reclaim it all.” I liked this so much, I read many of the poems twice.

Issue 52 | November 2020 |

123


Do you have a short story that you’d like published in Uncaged? Uncaged is now accepting short stories - in return, Uncaged will provide ONE FULL PAGE to promote up to 3 books from the author, OR a free Sneak Peek promotion!

Guidelines: • Must be PG/PG-13 rated per Issuu’s Terms of Use • Must be approved • Free promotion will be scheduled for the same month as the short story • Submit the story or any questions to UncagedBooks@gmail.com

Submit your story today!

Profile for Cyrene

Uncaged Book Reviews