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ISSUE 51 | OCTOBER 2020


*Made by request for eligible ads


note from the e d itor T

he autumn season has arrived according to the calendar, but the cooler weather that I love so much has not made an appearance in Wisconsin as of this writing. I love the crisp, cool weather along with bug reduction. We can all live with less mosquitoes and flies! Have you ever began a series and couldn’t put it down until you finished it? That happened to me this month for the first time in several years. The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy from Hailey Edwards had me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. I fell in love with the odd characters and from book 2 until book 6, I had to finish the series as you will see in the review section. There are three follow up novellas that I will finish up one day. Even though I read a lot of great series from different authors, this one was an exception that I had to finish.

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.

As the pandemic rages on with no signs of stopping, I am still keeping as safe as possible. I’ve kept my 87 yr old mother sequestered in the house since March and keeping her doctor appointments via video. On top of the pandemic, fires are raging out west and one of our Feature Authors this month, Kit Morgan, was evacuated from her home and still trying to send materials to me for her feature. I hope these fires are contained soon for all those involved.

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 the first week of October.

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

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.

Enjoy the October 2020 issue of Uncaged Book Reviews and stay safe and healthy!

X cyrene 4| uncagedbooks.com


contents featureauthors Rachael Tamayo 12 psychological thriller 22

Dwayne Clayden

30

Tara Sue Me

crime thriller

contemporary romance

36

Cat Rambo

46

Cyndi Faria

58

Robert Herold

66

Kit Morgan

74

Hildie McQueen

84

Bruce J. Berger

Issue 51 | October 2020

FangFreakinTastic 90

young adult fantasy

catchup Cordelia 16 CiCi The writing duo returns to talk about the newest book in the Brides of Little Creede series.

authors and their pets

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scifi

paranormal romance

Mia Ellas

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

promotion special

03 2020 Uncaged Special Promo

horror

western historical romance

ancient historical romance

historical fiction

4 7 98 106 110

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

Uncaged on Instagram

Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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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 51 | October 2020 |

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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/

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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

thriller | crime | contemporary romance

Rachael Tamayo

Dwayne Clayden

Tara Sue Me


rachael tamayo

R

achael Tamayo is a former 911 emergency operator and police dispatcher. After twelve years in those dark depths, she’s gained a unique insight into mental illness, human behavior, and the general darkness of humanity that she likes to weave into her books. A formerly exclusive romance author tried her hand at thrillers in her award-winning novel, Crazy Love, and loved it so much that she decided not to turn back. Born and raised in Texas, Rachael lives in the Houston area with her husband of almost seventeen years, and their two children.

Stay Connected

rachaeltamayowrites.com

Uncaged welcomes Rachael Tamayo Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! The latest releases are from your series A Deadly Sins Novel series and the latest is Carnal Knowledge. Can you tell readers more about this series? Thank you very much for having me! Frankly, I’m in love with the idea for this series and I can’t wait for you to see what is next. The series will be seven books long, and each will be a stand-alone thriller telling a story about one of the seven deadly sins. Break My Bones is wrath, Carnal Knowledge is 12 | UncagedBooks.com


Lust. Next will be Greed (sometime next year). I just started writing book four, and each book gets more and more twisted. I can’t wait for the readers to get their hands on them. Uncaged: You used to be a 911 operator and police dispatcher. Is this what inspired you to write psychological thrillers and suspense? This is true. I was a 911-police-fire-ems dispatcher for twelve years before I left law enforcement. I grew up wanting to be an officer, but as I became an adult, I realized that dispatch was a better fit for me. I suppose having my life swallowed by the darkness that is 911 dispatch made me brave enough to try what I knew I wanted all along. After all those years I developed an insight into the human mind and chaos that I don’t think many have, thanks to all the 911. Also, thrillers are my favorite, especially psychological thrillers and those with twists, so as I started taking my writing seriously, I knew that my ultimate goal was to become a full-fledged thriller author. I was timid about it at first, knowing that crafting these anxiety inducing plots is not for the weak of heart, so I had to wait until I was brave enough to try it. My first thriller being the awardwinning novel, Crazy Love. After writing that book I had my taste of the dark side and there was no way I could ever go back! Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I’m in the ending phases of writing book three: Mine- A tale of Greed. Book three in the Deadly Sins novels. It’s got so many twists that I’m having to do extra edits on it!! I’m also writing a novella with the amazing Cynthia Austin, scheduled to come out monthly in InDTale Magazine starting in spring of 2021. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Somewhat yes. We spend more time at home, I can’t take my kids to the park or to Jumping World Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | (a local trampoline park), and my son just started school again finally. I think the stress of the pandemic and not knowing that might come next has had its effects on everyone.

dance parties with my three-year-old, playing Mario Kart with my son, and watching movies. I also listen to Audiobooks every chance I get. I’m currently listening to the new Hunger Games book by Suzanne Collins.

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why?

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you?

Ted Dekker is my number one favorite. His Circle Series is so brilliant, I’d love to talk to him. Stephen King, cause- I mean come on- and Jane Austin. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began?

I think real success is when the readers reach out and tell you how much they love your books, even if you aren’t on a best seller list. We do this because we have a passion and sharing that passion with the world is so exposing that when someone reaches out that connected with a book it makes it all worth it.

I would say yes. But I hate to go into detail, that would be telling.

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

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

I am guilty of falling head over heals for audio books. I’m currently reading the new Hunger Games book by Suzanne Collins, and I think next I will venture into

I enjoy karaoke at home with my husband, having

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the Twilight series, since I’ve never read it before and I need to see what the hype is all about. I usually read thrillers, but I love a good long series. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Reach out to me and tell me how you connected with my books, what you want to see next, and tell me what you think. I love hearing from readers.

Enjoy an excerpt from Carnal Knowledge Carnal Knowledge Rachael Tamayo Psychological Thriller What do you do when you know you’re on a serial killer’s hit list? Six women are dead, and Wren Addison is the next victim on the SMS Killer’s list—or so she’s been told after waking in a pool of blood with no memory of the events that have transpired. Newly separated and struggling to start her life over after her husband’s infidelity, Wren tries to remember what happened to her, but nothing is adding up as more horrors unfold around her.  With her life on a timer and the murderer taunting her, she realizes there is nothing typical about this serial killer.   Wren is pushed to the edge as she dances between knowing she’s likely to die and fighting to be the first to survive.  As the truth starts to emerge, she rises to the challenge and decides not to go down without a fight.   Someone is going to die, and she’s determined it won’t be her. Excerpt

| RACHAEL TAMAYO | The tears blur my vision, but I can still see the red stain on the floor muddled by the water that drips from my eyes. I drag my hand under my nose, looking at the spatter around me. Standing, I look at the sheets, more red. The blankets are ripped, the sheets half off the bed. Bedside lamp is on the floor, my phone screen is shattered. Not knowing what else to do, I gather the linens from the bed and walk them down the hall, stuffing them into my front-loading washing machine before starting the load. I gather the Clorox bleach spray and a wad of paper towels to clean the wood laminate floor. It takes a while, but now it looks normal again. The blood is gone. Normal except for the bare mattress and the bleach smell. By this time, I’m almost brave enough to look down. My tears are gone, my vision is clear. I have been terrified to look, scared that I am the source of blood. A wound that I can’t face, or maybe can’t feel somewhere that might have caused this mess. I look down at my body, naked, spattered. I see no cuts, no anything that would suggest blood loss of this magnitude. My head hurts now, so much that I can’t concentrate enough to be afraid, or think on what the last thing I remember is, or how I got here, who I might have brought home with me. The answers to the questions that the police would ask, if I were to go to them, which I won’t. Blood, it’s drying on my thighs. I didn’t go to bed naked. I don’t even remember going to bed or coming home. But that is where I woke up, waking up when you didn’t even know you went to sleep, or passed out, or whatever the hell this is. I gingerly touch the back of my head, feeling the growing lump there. My blonde hair feels matted, tangled. Source of the headache. The blood is mine... I think. At least the pain I have tells me that at least some of it is probably mine. Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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CATC H UP

The writing duo, Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko, collectively known as CiCi Cordelia, come back to Uncaged to talk about their latest book in the Brides of Little Creede series.


Uncaged: Welcome back to Uncaged! You are releasing the 4th book of the Brides of Little Creede in September, The Runaway Wife. Can you tell readers more about this book and the series?

rary romance, Made for Each Other, and Cheryl is working on the fourth book in her award-winning Hero series, but doesn’t have a name yet. Busy. Busy . . .

Hi, Cyrene. Thank you for having us back to discuss the Brides of Little Creede Series. We’ve had so much fun writing these characters, and our readers seem to agree. To date, the Brides of Little Creede Series has garnered eight writing awards, including a runner up in the Uncaged Raven Awards.

Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle?

The Runaway Wife, Book Four introduces a new hero to CiCi’s devoted readers, Sam Singleton. A fun little tidbit . . . CiCi’s hero on the book cover is Michael Wayne Foster, model and actor, known for his role in The Walking Dead TV Series, and he’s currently shooting a movie in Hollywood. How cool is that? We had the pleasure of meeting Michael a few years ago at a writers’ conference. A very nice man with a huge sense of humor, it’s great having him represent CiCi’s hero. Sam is a former riverboat gambler and hired-gun, turned security expert for the town’s new, flamboyant Gambling Galleria, owned by none other than Knight Gleason, the redheaded, brash Southern-Irish riverboat entrepreneur readers first met in The Innocent Wife (Book Three). Sam’s got his hands full, policing poker tourneys, thwarting cheating gamblers, uncovering unsavory criminal activity, rescuing pantry thieves . . . Well, one pantry thief by the name of Izzy McDougall, who has a very good reason to be rooting through the Galleria’s kitchen pantry in the first place. Izzy’s the perfect foil for the strong, rough-around-the-edges and fiercely loyal Sam. Uncaged: What are you working on now that you can tell us about? Under CiCi, we’re working on Book Five in the Brides of Little Creede Series, The High Society Wife. Our outline is mostly completed and Chapter 1 is almost done. We’re also working on a Romantic Suspense Thriller that we hope to have out by late next year. Char is putting the finishing touches on her contempo-

Like most folks, we are both sheltering at home as much as possible. No conferences this year, and we aren’t able to get together for a writing retreat. But we continue to talk daily, either on the phone or Facebook messenger. We plan to set up Zoom meetings in the future for busier brainstorming days. Uncaged: Are there any promotional events for 2020 that are on hold for now because of the pandemic? All of them, actually. The most disappointing one was this year’s RONE award, where CiCi is a finalist for both The Innocent Wife, Book Three in the Brides of Little Creede Series, and Healing Emily’s Heart, a contemporary novella. Last year’s conference was canceled due to some reshuffling with the organization, and the winners were announced via video. Since CiCi’s book The Substitute Wife (Book One of the Brides of Little Creede) won in last year’s historical fiction category, and we weren’t able to attend to receive our award, we were so looking forward to this year’s event and walking down that red carpet all dressed to the nines. Alas, it was not meant to be . . . Who knows, maybe the third time will be the charm with The Runaway Wife! CiCi Cordelia is the pen name for the writing team of award-winning authors Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko. Published authors in their own right, they share a love for well-written Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| CATCH UP | stories infused with their favorite romantic genres: paranormal, suspense, and erotica.

ccromance.com Enjoy an excerpt from The Runaway Wife The Runaway Wife CiCi Cordelia Western Historical SAM . . . Samuel “Sam” Singleton has set aside his unsavory past, as a riverboat gambler and sometimes hired gun, to take on employment as security for Knight Gleason’s Gambling Galleria in Little Creede. Sam and Knight go back a ways, and Sam figures he owes Knight for some valuable mentorship. Then he meets a stowaway thief in the Galleria kitchen, and it changes the direction of his life. IZZY . . . Isadora “Izzy” McDougall is on the run from a dangerous family situation. On the road for days, hungry and exhausted, she takes shelter in a desperate bid to find food. Instead, Sam finds her. SAFER, TOGETHER . . . Sam’s never been the nurturing type, but Izzy’s sweetness and innocent bravery touches his heart. He finds himself willing to protect her from her scheming family at any cost, even if it means tying himself down with a wife. BONUS CONTENT: CHRISTMAS IN SILVER COUNTRY 18 | UncagedBooks.com

(Robert and Maggie’s Story) Robert Blackwood comes to Magnolia Sanders’ rescue when she’s lost in a snowstorm. Taking shelter in an abandoned cabin, he fights his rising desire for the innocent beauty, while trying to keep them alive. Excerpt Searching for the pie server, a thump and a muffled oath brought Sam up short. He spun toward the sound, coming from the cavernous pantry where most of the dry goods and supplies were stored. Silently he advanced across the large room, drawing his gun as a precaution. He wouldn’t put it past some drunken sot to stagger in from one of the gaming rooms, searching for money, thinking any Galleria staff would be dumb enough to keep a safe in here. The pantry door stood open an inch. The whisper of rustling and more muttering hovered in the air. Tensing, he readied for possible danger. Thumbing the latch, he brought up his gun arm and yanked, hard. A mound of tattered clothes and dark curls tumbled out of the opening, landing on the floor at his feet. What the—? Sam bent and caught a thin, flailing arm, jerking the thief upright. From the cracked, scuffed boots to the downcast head of tangled, choppy hair, this was no gambler desperate for extra coin, only a young boy starving for something to eat. Narrow-shouldered, dressed in torn trousers and a shirt studded with burdock stickers, the kid could probably cram an entire cherry pie into his gullet and his britches would still slide down his backside. Tamping down any feelings of sympathy, he marched the now-struggling pantry poacher across the kitchen and shoved him into the nearest chair. The boy tried to bolt, so Sam gripped one bony shoulder. “Stay put and tell me who you are.” A dirt-encrusted face raised to his. “Let me go!” He frowned, taking a more focused look at the boy.


| CICI CORDELIA | Full lips. High cheekbones underneath the crud. Long lashes framed remarkable blue-gray eyes. Delicate ears were visible from between the shorn locks.

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:

“You’re a girl.” She squirmed in her seat and made to escape. Sam’s grip tightened, holding her in place. “You’re not going anywhere, missy.” He hooked another chair on the toe of his boot and dragged it over to block her in, trapping her against the wall until she had no choice except to remain still. “Start talking.” Her grimy fist pounded the table surface. “You’ve no right to keep me here.” Sam didn’t have time for this foolishness. “Your name. Now.” She strained against his hold on her shoulder and spat out, “Izzy.” Her mouth firmed. “Now, let go.” “Last name.” He gave her a brief shake. “I’m fast losing patience, and our jail doesn’t have any niceties for females.” At the mention of jail, what color remained in those high cheekbones leeched out. “Don’t lock me up! I only wanted a place to rest and maybe something to eat.” Dejection came off her in waves. “My name is Izzy McDougall. Please don’t stick me behind bars.” He eased up on his grip, cupping her shoulder with more care to examine her, looking for lies and finding nothing more than a scared girl. If she was more than eighteen or nineteen, he’d eat his hat for supper. Judging by what he now determined were bruises underneath all that dirt and grime, he realized someone had mistreated her. Anger tightened his jaw. Where her ragged shirt gapped, a man’s fingerprints marred her slender neck. Doubtful a woman would have such a large grip. A growl rumbled in his throat. The urge to track down whoever’d hurt her—and beat the hell out of ‘em— rose swiftly inside him.

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D

d wayne clay d en

wayne’s vast experience in emergency services spans over 40 years, and includes work as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair. He is a popular speaker at conferences and to writing groups presenting on realistic police, medical and paramedic procedures.

nearly twenty-five years ago. Riley Briggs is a Drug Enforcement Agent investigating the trafficking of Opioids in and around Great Falls. Briggs and Eaglechild know each other from their childhood, but haven’t seen each other in at least fifteen years. Initially they don’t talk much about work, but when they realize they are working on the same problem—Opioids—they join forces. But they soon realize they are up against an organization that will do anything to keep the drugs flowing. It is a fast-paced thriller.

The co-author of four paramedic textbooks, he has spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.

The second in the series, Speargrass-Casino, is in development with a launch planned for fall 2021.

He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Crime Writers of Canada and the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society.

If you like the Longmire novels by Craig Johnson, or the Longmire TV program, you’ll love Speargrass-Opioid.

Stay Connected

dwayneclayden.com Uncaged welcomes Dwayne Clayden Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! The first book of a new series, Speargrass-Opioid was released in August. Can you tell readers more about this new series and this book? Speargrass is a fictional First Nation in Montana, close to Great Falls. Montana is experiencing an Opioid crisis. Franklyn Eaglechild is a former rodeo champ who is nearly crippled from rodeo injuries. He takes the job as Sheriff of the Speargrass Nation and finds many things have changed since he was on the reservation,

Uncaged: Another series from you, the Brad Coulter Thriller series has three books available now, are you continuing that series? Can you tell readers more about this series also? Brad Coulter is a four-year vet of the Calgary Police Service. The novels are set in the mid 70s and 80s and all based on actual crimes that I spun into a fiction novels. Coulter is aggressive and cocky. While that works most of the time, it also lands him in hot water, not only with the criminals, but also with police management. It seems bad stuff just follows him. Crisis Point (#1) When his partner is killed during an armed robbery, Brad Coulter is left grappling with the loss along with a sudden burst of criminal activity in his quiet city. His new partner is a bitter veteran who challenges Coulter as he lands a spot on the newly developed Tactical Support Unit. Between a violent shootout with a lone gunman high Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | on glue, and a confrontation with a deadbeat father and abusive husband, Coulter and the TSU become experienced in managing extreme cases. But nothing can prepare them for the real crisis point that will forever change the face of a city and the cops that patrol its streets. OutlawMC (#2) As an explosive war between rival motorcycle gangs takes hold of the city, Sergeant Brad Coulter and his partner struggle to maintain law and order. The war spins out of control in the streets. At stake is domination of the city’s profitable drug and prostitution trade. No one is safe—not children, not judges, and definitely not cops. Coulter is about to find that out the hard way. The violence is destroying the city, but the solution to stopping the war may bring an even greater threat. With everything to lose, Coulter and his team take the fight to the streets and face devastating consequences. Wolfman is Back (#3) When Jeter Wolfe escapes maximum security prison, he embarks on an elaborate revenge fantasy against everyone who put him behind bars. Detective Brad Coulter discovers the Wolfman’s primary target: Crown Prosecutor Jenny Blighe. But when Wolfe’s plans are interrupted, this predator can’t contain his violence for long, and the city soon sees the shocking results. Coulter and his taskforce track the former enforcer of the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Gang with everything they have as he stalks his prey, but how do you hunt a hunter? As Coulter closes in on Wolfe, everything he loves is on the line. To date, there are two more novels in the Coulter series. 13 Days of Terror (Coulter #4) will be launched on November 14, 2020. Goddess of Justice (Coulter #5) will launch in early 24 | UncagedBooks.com


| DWAYNE CLAYDEN | March 2021. I have plot ideas for the next two in the series. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? My current work in progress, The Laughing Dog, is based on a short story I wrote in 2015, Hell Hath No Fury. The protagonist, Bryce Pedley is a private investigator in 2020, but he thinks he is Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe. He dresses in a three-piece suit, has a shoulder holster with an old Smith and Wesson 38 revolver, and wears a Fedora. He uses slang from the 40s like dame and gat. After a rare book comes up for auction, Pedley is hired to track the collection of Samuel Cohen’s great-grandfather. His rare books were taken by the Nazi’s early in the Second World War, but were never found. It seems like a safe task. But soon Pedley realizes that others, with family ties to the former leaders of the Third Reich, are interested. Not in the books, but how the books ended up in Albany, New York. Their belief is that many other items of value were shipped out of Bavaria at the end of the war— paintings, art treasures and gold. They are desperate to find where these items were sent at the end of the war so they can reclaim them to finance the resurrection of the Reich. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Have any events you planned on attending this year been cancelled? The Corona virus hasn’t changed my lifestyle much. I was writing full-time before the crisis and was already self-isolating and writing everyday, so that continued throughout the pandemic. I have complete three novels so far this year. Many of the markets and fairs that I attend and promote my novels have been cancelled. So, that Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | has presented a challenge getting new novels out to loyal fans and getting the novels to new readers. During the summer I attended a few Farmer’s Markets, but this month many fall fairs and markets have been cancelled. As well, I launched Speargrass-Opioid in August and was unable to have a launch party. So, the launch has become a very slow, month long event. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Joseph Wambaugh was a pioneer in changing the police procedural from ‘everybody is happy, and crime isn’t really that bad,’ to showing the dark side of policing. He was an early influence on me. I work very hard to provide realism in my novels. I also like the style of Robert B Parker and his Jesse Stone series. The manner in which my books flow is a tribute to his writing. I can’t leave out Michael Connelly. His Bosch series is outstanding and I don’t know how he has kept it going for more than 20 years! Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? In Crisis Point, I had a character that I’d penciled in for a long police career, be in every novel in the series, and potentially be a spin off series. He did something stupid and died in the first quarter of the novel. I’m still not sure why he did that! In Wolfman is Back, I had the ending planned out in my mind and sat down to type. What I finished, it was a completely different ending, and I cried writing most of it. Brad Coulter and Maggie, his fiancée, had other ideas, I wrote where they took me and the ending became very powerful. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? 26 | UncagedBooks.com

When I saw this question, I thought, easy. But in reality, I’m almost a 24/7 writer. When I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing or working through a plot problem, or creating a chapter in my head. This shouldn’t be a hard question to answer, but it was. I like working in the yard, so I spent time this year at our cabin doing yard cleanup that was overdue. Cutting down old trees and shrubs, replanting a dead lawn and raking truck loads of pine needles. In the fall I usually volunteer and coach high school football. But this year football was cancelled. I have a beautiful Golden Retriever, Boone. She is seven and likes to do errands with me and we spend time each day outside playing fetch, or just laying in the sun. Valerie and I will watch TV in the evening. Usually a police drama of some kind. We particularly like British crime (Broadchurch) and yes, police procedurals so I can mock the tactics they use. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? This morning I received an email from a reader. “Just finished Speargrass-Opioid and couldn’t wait to tell you I LOVED IT!” That made my morning and I wanted to get writing immediately. Success is that readers enjoyed the adventure and want more. The challenge is writing novels fast enough! Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer physical books, but now its about 50/50 with paperback and ebooks. I just finished the John Corey series written by Nelson DeMille and I loved all the novels and especially the wit and sarcasm of John Corey.


This past week an author was recommended to me, Peter James. I immediately downloaded his first novel and was hooked from the first page. I can foresee a few months of binge reading. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

| DWAYNE CLAYDEN | hope of putting an end to the destruction. Excerpt Franklyn Eaglechild slumped on the examination table, legs over the edge, and stared at the row of X-rays.

I have some very encouraging and loyal fans. Right from the first novel, Crisis Point they were enthusiastically waiting for the next novel. If they catch me on social media they message and tell me to get writing.

“Remind me, how many previous fractures?” the doctor asked.

I hope they know that their encouragement is what keeps me writing and pushes me to keep deadlines!

“All from rodeo?”

Enjoy an excerpt from Speargrass Opioid Speargrass Opioid Dwayne Clayden Crime Thriller Rodeo champion Franklyn Eaglechild finds his life upended when his bull-riding injuries force him into a new line of work as the Tribal Sheriff in Speargrass, Montana. His damaged health leaves him with a pill-popping problem and a dim future of lost dreams. While coping with his personal defeats, Franklyn quickly discovers not everyone is thrilled to have a new Sheriff in town looking into their business—especially not the drug dealers. Franklyn makes enemies in high places when he refuses to play by the Tribal Chief’s rules. Friends are scarce. Lucky for Franklyn, he has at least one friend he can rely on—his adopted brother and DEA Special Agent Riley Briggs in Great Falls. As an opioid crisis spirals out of control in and around Great Falls and Speargrass, Franklyn and Riley realize they need to join forces if there is any

“About fifty.”

“No, some from hockey.” The doctor sighed. “The body wasn’t meant to take this abuse. I’m amazed you’re still walking.” “About that … the pain pills aren’t doing a lot. I need something stronger.” The doctor turned and sighed. “Look, Franklyn, OxyContin is all I can prescribe. I shouldn’t be doing that anymore.” “What’s the option?” “You gotta stop rodeo. Your next argument with a two-thousand-pound bull could be your last. Any subsequent fractures might not heal. Besides, you can hardly move. How would you dodge a bull?” “Don’t ride bulls anymore.” Franklyn smirked. “Just steer wrestling.” “Oh great, so you jump off a speeding horse to wrestle five hundred pounds of steer to the ground.” The doctor shook his head. “What could possibly go wrong with that?” “Come on, doc, it’s all I know.” “Why do you sell yourself short? A month ago, you said you were applying for a job. What hapIssue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | pened with that?” “It’s back on the rez.” The doctor leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. “What’s wrong with that?”

“You’ll be able to hold it, but I can’t guarantee you’ll be able to pull the trigger too many times. And you might not be accurate.” “About the pain?”

Franklyn shrugged. “I haven’t been on the rez for twenty-five years.”

“I’ll give you a two-month prescription for Oxy. But you must stop rodeo and take care of your body. Maybe try yoga.”

“But it’s home. You got folks there?”

“Are you insane?”

“Nobody close. My parents died a long time ago. Grandparents, too. Don’t know if I’d recognize anyone.”

“Hey, pro athletes swear by it. Try it.” The doctor grinned. “Lots of women go to yoga.”

The doctor pushed off the wall and stepped over to Franklyn. “As I told you a month ago, rodeo is in your past. If you jump off another horse, it could cripple you for life.”

Franklyn’s head jerked up. “Lots of women?” “Lots.”

“No options?” The doctor rolled his eyes. “What about the job?” “Speargrass Tribe advertised for an arena manager.” Franklyn grinned. “But they offered me the job of sheriff. “Are you kidding me?” “Nope.” “You got any experience?” “Some,” Franklyn said. “I worked the Montana Highway Patrol. Primarily winter months after rodeo season.” “That’s better than continuing rodeo and being crippled.” “I didn’t think I’d get the job.” Franklyn held out his shaking right hand. “Will I be able to hold a gun?” 28 | UncagedBooks.com

DON’T MISS THESE TITLES:


E

ven though she graduated with a degree in science, Tara knew she’d never be happy doing anything other than writing. Specifically, writing love stories. She started with a racy BDSM story and found she was not quite prepared for the unforeseen impact it would have. Nonetheless, she continued and The Submissive Series novels would go on to be both New York Times and USA Today Bestsellers. One of those, THE MASTER, was a 2017 RITA finalist for Best Erotic Romance. Over one million copies of her books have been sold worldwide.

Stay Connected

tarasueme.com

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tara sue me Uncaged Welcomes Tara Sue Me Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, Madame President, will release on October 6. Can you tell readers more about this book? Thank you so much for having me! Yes, I’m so excited about Madame President, and I can’t wait to introduce Anna and Navin to everyone. Anna is the first female POTUS and Navin is one of the nation’s top news journalist. What they’ve never told anyone is that they have history together. The executives where Navin works are less than thrilled when they discover this history, and they end up sending him to DC where he’ll be on her Press Pool. It’s a political romance, but a very unpolitical, political romance! Uncaged: You also have a long running series, The


Submissive Series that has a holiday novella releasing later this year. Can you tell us more about that series? As you can probably tell by the title, The Submissive Series is very different from Madame President. It’s an erotic BDSM romance series. At its center are Abby and Nathaniel, but in most of the books, they’re only minor characters with the main story being the standalone story of one of the other couples in their group.

Also, I don’t know how likely it is, I’d love to write in Anna and Navin’s world again! Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle?

Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about?

I’m a massive introvert anyway, so most of my dayto-day is relatively unchanged - stay at home and write. Of course, now Mr Sue Me and our two teens (one high school senior and one college junior) are also in the house with me. It makes it a lot more noisy, but I like having eyes on everyone.

I’m working on wrapping up a few series. First up is the third and final title in my Wall Street Royals Series. Unfortunately, the characters aren’t being very forthcoming, which usually means I’ve got something wrong, so I need to find and fix whatever that is.

The biggest change has been no travel. We are HUGE lovers of travel and summers are usually filled with numerous trips. Because of the pandemic and personal health issues, we haven’t been anywhere. We love to explore new places as a family,

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | and I think it’s so important travel with your kids, no matter how old they are. They need to get out and see that this world is so vast and diverse, and it’s much more personal when they experience it for themselves as opposed to reading about it or seeing in on television. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? I’d love to sit down with Mark Twain. Whenever I have to do a quote search, I always run across a quote or two from Twain. They’re so funny and full of truth at the same time, I can’t even imagine what it’d be like to have a conversation with him. Here are a few of my favorite Mark Twain quotes:

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- “When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.” - “Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.” - “Optimist: day dreamer more elegantly spelled.” Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? I’m not sure I’ve written a book where at least one of them didn’t. Years ago, it’d bother me, and I’d argue with them, “That’s not in the plot. Stop it right now,” or maybe, “You’re messing up my outline.” Eventually, they got what they wanted though, and I learned to just go with it. Now when it happens, I nod and say, “Okay.


I’m sure I’ll understand why later.” And I always do. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I love to cook! In December of last year, I went gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free, and this made things interesting since my family doesn’t follow the same diet, though Youngest is vegan. But I have perfected gluten, diary, and refined sugar free pizza dough and chocolate chip cookie recipes. More recently, I’ve picked up an old hobby of mine - cross stitch. I’m working on a holiday piece, but it might not be finished until December 2021! Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? If my book can pull the reader out of their world, and into mine, that’s success. If, for just a moment, I can make them forget and tune out the negativity so prevalent today, then I’ve done my job. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? eBooks! I joke with my kids (who both prefer physical books) that they’ll have to pry my kindle from my cold dead hands. Right now I’m reading The Heir Affair. I read the first book in the series earlier this year, but hadn’t had a chance to pick up the sequel. Recently, however, it was a kindle daily deal on sale for $3.99. How could I not one-click? Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you for allowing me to have the best job ever. It’s no small thing to love your job, and I’m grateful for every day I’m able to sit in front of my laptop and create happily ever afters.

| TARA SUE ME | better at Facebook, so that’s probably the best place to find me.

Enjoy an excerpt from Madame President Madame President Tara Sue Me Contemporary Romance Releases Oct. 6 For Independent Anna Fitzpatrick, being President of the United States means she’s finally in a place to make a difference. Known for her intellect and charm, she never appears anything other than calm. After getting dumped by the man she’d been living with once he learned of her presidential bid, Anna vows to remain single throughout her term. It’s an easy task, after all, no man has ever made her feel the way her law school classmate did years ago. Or at least the way he made her feel until he walked away without so much as a goodbye. Navin Hazar is content being one of the nation’s top news anchors. It may not be the plan he had for his life, but plans don’t always go as anticipated. Like his plan for no one to find out he knows Anna personally or did know her, once upon a time. For over ten years, they’ve been able to ignore each other, but her election to the highest office changes everything. And when Navin inadvertently lands on Anna’s Press Pool, they realize the only thing more aggravating than politics is love. Excerpt

I totally suck at Twitter and Instagram. I’m marginally Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Her Election Night Franklin Institute Philadelphia, Pennsylvania The first time someone interviews me, they always compliment me on my calmness. I’m always genuine in my thanks, as I consider this to be a positive trait of mine. In fact, I believe never letting your guard down, never letting anyone see you sweat, and never letting anyone see the real you— is a necessity for public service. No matter which mask I wear, and I always wear one, the masked me is always calm. The Student Anna. The Congresswoman Anna. That Crazy Woman Who Thinks She Can Be President Anna. And, hopefully in the next few minutes, the newly minted President Elect Anna. My campaign staff and I are watching returns in a small private office of the Franklin Institute in my home state of Pennsylvania. Below us, five hundred of my supporters and more staff wait in the ballroom for me to make an appearance. There should be enough data to support calling California, which would put me over the line for needed electoral numbers. Yet GBNC has held off for some reason. I’m about to call and ask what the hold up is when the television goes completely red, white, and blue while “Breaking News” flashes across the screen. My main advisor and dear family friend, David Herdsman, comes to stand at my side. “This is it,” he whispers. The room goes silent as Navin Hazar’s face comes on the screen and my stomach clenches the way it always does when I see him. He pauses and gives a little smile. It’s the smile of someone who knows they have the information everyone else is holding their breath to hear, and for a second he relishes that fact. “GBNC is officially calling California for Anna Fitzpatrick,” he says, and a low buzz of excitement builds in the air. I remain still, wanting to 34 | UncagedBooks.com

hear what’s next. “Which means, we are also projecting Independent, Anna Fitzpatrick, will become the next President of the United States, making her the first female to hold that position.” The room around me explodes as Navin Hazar and his co-host, Gabe Day, move to fill the top half of the television screen as the bottom flashes to the scene downstairs. I don’t catch anything else as I’m swept into the hugs and tears of the people who have fought so valiantly and tirelessly for me over the last few years. A champagne glass is pushed into my hand. I reach inside the jacket of the business suit I’m wearing and my fingers brush my speech. I don’t need the paper since I’ve practiced the thing in my head at least three hundred thousand times, and it’ll be on the teleprompter, but it’s comforting to touch. “I love that color on you,” my best friend, Jaya, says, coming up and giving me a hug. “Thanks.” I have on a fuchsia skirt suit tonight because I didn’t want to wear either red or blue. A bold choice, but if you have the potential to be the first female President of the United States, bold is the only way to go. “Are you going downstairs?” she asks. I shake my head. “I’ll go down in a few minutes,” I tell her as David approaches us. He knows what I’m waiting for. Tom Merriweather, the Democratic nominee, called and conceded ninety minutes ago, but Vice President Roberts has been holding out. I’d like to wait for his call, but I’m not going to give him long. Jaya catches sight of David and rolls her eyes. “If you’re waiting for Roberts, you’ll have to wait until morning. At his age, I’m sure he’s asleep by now.” But David’s big smile tells a different story. “President Elect Fitzpatrick,” he says to the thrill of the surrounding crowd. “I have Vice President Roberts on the phone for you.”


feature authors

scifi | paranormal romance | horror

Cat Rambo

Cyndi Faria

Robert Herold


cat rambo “the most entertaining game I’ve ever played“, “the most creative, emotionally involved mud on the Net” and “a place of astonishing beauty and detail“. They continue to do some game writing as well as technology journalism and book reviews. A longtime volunteer with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), Cat served as its Vice President from 2014-2015 and its President for two terms, from 2015-2019 and continues to volunteer with the organization. For more about Cat, as well as links to their fiction, see http://www. kittywumpus.net

S t ay C onnec t ed

J

ohn Barth described Cat Rambo’s writings as “works of urban mythopoeia” — their stories take place in a universe where chickens aid the lovelorn, Death is just another face on the train, and Bigfoot gives interviews to the media on a daily basis. They have worked as a programmer-writer for Microsoft and a Tarot card reader, professions which, they claim, both involve a certain combination of technical knowledge and willingness to go with the flow. In 2005 they attended the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop. Although no longer actively involved with the game, Cat is one of the minds behind Armageddon MUD, the oldest roleplay-intensive MUD (an interactive text-based game) on the Internet, which has been described as “like no other mud I have played before“, 36 | UncagedBooks.com

kittywumpus.net Welcome to Cat Rambo Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! You write primarily in Science Fiction and Fantasy genres. Your next release, is scheduled for Fall, 2020 called Exiles of Tabat. Can you tell readers more about this book? Is this part of a series? It is indeed part of a fantasy series, and is the third of a quartet. The fourth, Gods of Tabat, should be appearing in late 2021 from Wordfire Press. It involves a world where the intelligent magical beasts – unicorns, minotaurs, griffons and all the rest – that have been enslaved are asserting their rights in Tabat, a city torn by political


upheaval. In the first book, a boy from the country with a secret connection to those beasts comes to Tabat and is hired by gladiator Bella Kanto, a notorious, influential, and above all charismatic figure, only to be drawn into the forces working against her. Exiles is the story of Bella’s journey after being sent away from the city. Uncaged: You also write a lot of short stories on Patreon. Can Patreon help Indie authors or authors just wanting to get their feet wet with writing? I do! I started my Patreon partially because I write so many short stories, but I’d already built a small following through stories published elsewhere before I came to Patreon. I think it’s possible to build a platform on there, but it will be slow going requiring consistent effort – and there may be better ways to do that, such as publishing stories in magazine markets, which is actually where the majority of my stories go. Right now I’m trying out a serial novella, a pulp fiction piece called “Baby Driver” on Patreon, partially to see what it’s like to have to commit to two installments each month (yikes those deadlines come up fast), but I do plan to publish it in its entirety at some month and have a publisher lined up for that. I enjoy putting it on on Patreon at this quick clip, because it encourages me to write fast and just have fun with it. It’s based on the old Doc Savage novels, which were not particularly known for their polish, so that seems appropriate!

changed your lifestyle? I have my spouse here, since he’s working from home, but my workday isn’t too different (although I go for a walk instead of the gym). I miss traveling though! I had three exciting trips lined up for 2020 that didn’t take place (Japan, New Zealand, and Australia) and I’m sad to have missed those. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? So many! Geoffrey Chaucer because I’d like to hear him tell jokes. Virginia Woolf, because I’d like to tell her jokes and make her smile before we got into deep philosophical conversation. Octavia Butler, because I knew her only briefly and would have loved to have known her better. Willa Cather, because I would like to hear stories of her life. Kit Reed, because I only recently discovered her stories

Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I’m always juggling a bunch of projects! But the one I’m super stoked and up to my elbows in right now is DEVIL’S GUN, the sequel to my space opera novel that is coming out next summer from Tor Macmillan. I’ve got the project envisioned as a ten book series and it’s fun to be rolling along through it, playing with bioships and former mercenaries turned chef, along with the corpse of a gigantic space moth, a celestial prophet, and an angry hive mind. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | and would like to talk to her about all of them. R.A. Lafferty in order to talk about myth and storytelling and the deep rotes of narrative. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? I actually meant to kill a character off and had their death, which was absolutely heartrending and full of drama, all planned out, when they talked me into turning them into something instead. (Is that mysterious enough? If you read Beasts of Tabat, it should be obvious at the end.) Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I love to garden, and am a Maryland certified master gardener! Right now I’ve got some bonsai and orchids growing inside that I’ve cultivated this year. Another hobby of sorts is trying out different recipes. I’m making all of my household appliances justify their existence currently, and anything I haven’t used by the end of the year is getting cleared away. One that’s been unexpectedly suc-

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cessful is a sous vide cooker; another is the hot air popcorn popper that I actually use to roast coffee beans. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? For me, it’s people reading my work and letting me know it was meaningful for them. Every once in a while I’ll get someone who tells me that a story or book got them through a particularly hard time, or that they saw themselves in a story, and I love that. I have a short story, Magnificent Pigs, that often gets referenced and earlier this year, LeVar Burton read it on his podcast, which just made me explode with joy, to think how many people were hearing it – plus read by him! Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I read all the time, and I like physical books, but also read a great deal on my iPad. Right now I’m enjoying David Gerrold’s HELLA, which is terrific fun. Other recent reads are Kim Unger’s enjoyable NUCLEATION and (R) EVOLUTION by PJ Manney.


Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Hello fans! Thank you for enjoying my work! You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube and other social media as @catrambo or sign up for my newsletter via my website, catrambo.com If you’re interested in writing F&SF, please check out the classes I run through the Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, (academy.catrambo.com), which feature instructors like Ann Leckie, Seanan McGuire, Fran Wilde, and other amazing authors.

Enjoy an excerpt from And the Last Trump Shall Sound And the Last Trump Shall Sound Harry Turtledove, James Morrow, Cat Rambo SciFi Anthology From New York Times bestselling author, Harry Turtledove, critically-acclaimed novelist, James Morrow, and Nebula Award winner, Cat Rambo, comes a masterful anthology of three sensational novellas depicting a dark fictional future of the United States. And the Last Trump Shall Sound is a prophetic warning about where we, as a nation, may be headed. Mike Pence is President of the United States after years of divisive, dogmatic control by Donald Trump. The country is in turmoil as the Republicans have strengthened their stronghold on Congress, increasing their dominance. And with the support of the Supreme Court, more conservative than ever, State governments become more marginalized by the authoritarian rule of the Federal government. There are those who cannot abide by what they view as a betrayal of the nation’s founding principles. Once united communities break down and the unthinkable suddenly becomes the only possible solution: the end

| CAT RAMBO | of the Union. The authors’ depiction of a country that is both unfamiliar and yet unnervingly all too realistic, make you realize the frightening possible consequences of our increased polarization—a dire warning to all of us of where we may be headed unless we can learn to come together again. Excerpt The Greyhound bus smelled like pickles and the ghost of vomit and it had a human driver rather than one of the more expensive machine units. Ernst pushed his way towards the back and put his backpack and the ukulele’s case on the luggage rack, then settled in next to the clouded window overlooking the Seattle bus lot. A teen sat on the sidewalk, playing a homemade didgeridoo made of PVC pipe, hat in front of their feet, cheeks pulsing as the instrument droned. Hazy sunlight filtered through the glass, uncomfortably warm. Ernst watched as the bus filled up with other travelers to Spokane. Most seemed like fellow Pacificans, but there were a few tourists on their way back, laden with suitcases. It was illegal to bring most things back from Pacifica, but Geidon had told him there was a standard bribe system in place. “Won’t save you if your name’s on a government list, of course,” he’d said. “But there’s a lot of Americans. They can’t afford to watch them all. That’s why they have that LoyalEye app. You see someone taking an image of you, they’re probably putting you up on that. They score points if someone gets fined or arrested, and points buy them tickets in the national lottery. I installed it on that burner phone I gave you, but you won’t be able to report them. It’s just so you can get the notifications if someone’s posting about you.” “This seat taken?” Geidon looked up to see a thin man wearing a sailor’s cap. His face was grizzled Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | with salt and pepper beard and sagged like an old sack. “All yours,” Geidon said. The man nodded, slung his rucksack into the rack beside Geidon’s gear, and sat down. He pulled out earbuds and a phone and began playing TapTapBoom on it The bus coughed out black smoke and started out of the lot, headed to America. The trouble didn’t hit till three quarters up the way to the mountain top pass when the black smoke thickened and the bus itself began to emit a high-pitched whine that managed to reach inside one’s eardrums and pluck away any chances of dozing. The patient driver managed to coax the bus all the way to the top, but at the rest stop there, announced that they’d be getting out. “Passengers who purchased travel insurance should stand on that side of the lot,” he said, pointing. It took a while to unload the bus and sort the luggage, but finally they all stood in their various groups. Ernst and his seat mate were both in the uninsured group. When the new bus arrived, there was a ragged cheer mixed with unease at the crowd realized that the new bus was significantly smaller. The passengers who had purchased insurance were loaded into the bus along with their luggage. Their bus driver stood in the bus’s doorway, addressing the group still standing by the bus. Ernst had presumed he’d tell them a second bus was on its way, but instead the man said, “Well, you’re on your own folks. If you can get down the mountain, there’s another bus station there. Your ticket will be discounted 50% for the inconvenience. Good luck!” The bus door closed after him before the stupefied crowd could respond. “Can they do that?” a woman said plaintively. 40 | UncagedBooks.com

“Really, can they?” “That’s why they’re the cheapest option,” someone else told her.

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:


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RACHAEL TAMAYO & Sadie & Nala

Meet Sadie and Nala, Author Rachael Tamayo’s two rescue pups. Adopted as puppies from an animal shelter, these mutts are sisters, littermates, and haven’t left each other since birth! They will be one year old in October.

TARA SUE ME & Pierre In 2018, we lost our twelve-year-old French Bulldog, known on my Facebook page as Pierre. We rescued Pierre and his sister, FiFi, in 2009. Fifi passed in late 2017, but I never had the same bond with her. Pierre was 100% beta male, going along with anything his sister wanted. He was an old soul, and followed me all around the house. I was already working from home and he was my almost constant companion. I still miss him. 42 | UncagedBooks.com

DWAYNE CLAYDEN & Boone

Boone is a seven-year-old Golden Retriever. She believes she is the boss of the house and expects to get her way by staring with a sad puppy look. She usually wins. She loves to lay on her back either on the old couch or outside in the grass. It looks like she is suntanning her very white belly. She is a beautiful red color and is the most loving, gentle dog I’ve had.

CAT RAMBO & Taco Cat

This is Taco Cat, who is both palindromic and cute. She was featured in my short story, “Tortoiseshell Cats Are Not Refundable,” which appeared on Clarkesworld Magazine - http:// clarkesworldmagazine.com/rambo_02_14/ Follow my Twitter stream for frequent videos of her going “mert” indignantly when I poke her.


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.

CYNDI FARIA & Mr. Henry

rescue dogs. He was just the worst. So I buckled down with a routine, training, hand and word commands. And you know what, he needed structure. He needed to feel safe. He needed to learn how to communicate. We crate and potty trained him very quickly. We knew he was super intelligent. We also knew he was an alpha. My hubs just had to be the bigger one.

Meet Mr. Henry! He’s a shitzu and a rescue. He came to us as a monster, and I mean biting and nasty. I wanted to send him back so many times until the reality of his survival hit me. He was so aggressive, I knew he’d be euthanized. I actually begged my husband to be the alpha over him, which meant he’d probably earn a few scars. I just couldn’t do it anymore, even though I’d had many

We set rules of acceptable behavior with treats. There were repercussions to aggression. Basically, crate time (maybe five minutes). Then we’d let him out and make up. At night, I made sure we had special one-on-one time together. He would actually come and get into my arms and kiss my face. He just needed to feel loved. Henry became my blessing. When tragedy struck our family, he became my comfort dog. The rest is history. I’ve had Henry for almost 2 years. I may have rescued him, but he rescued me too! Here he is ready to celebrate my favorite season and hand out treats! Issue 51 | October 2020 | 43


ROBERT HEROLD & Jangles

Jangles, my chihuahua, fancies himself as master of the universe. He is also a real taskmaster as my editor. He insists everything is a “ruff” draft. Jangles watches tv and barks at any animal, any animated figure, and Donald Trump (sorry, Mr. President!). He also barks at violence (he has a good heart). Needless to say, it’s hard to watch a movie or television show when he’s awake.

KIT MORGAN & Polu I myself don’t have any pets. However, as my sister and her son live with me, and they have pets, that makes up for it. There is Connor the dog, got the cat, and Polu the parakeet. Polu likes to sit on my shoulder while I write.

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HILDIE MCQUEEN & Lola

I have three little dogs, all are mixed breeds. However, I have to tell y’all about Lola, the Chiweenie. She is chubby, has an attitude and lives her best life every single day. I can definitely take lessons from this little princess on the how to not let things let me down. No matter what, she always makes me smile!


T

CYNDI FARIA

wo-time USA Today Bestselling Author Cyndi Faria writes steamy-paranormal, suspenseful romance and also sexy contemporary romance. Her stories are known for their twist-turns you’ll never see coming and happily-ever-after endings romance readers crave. On and off her sexy romance pages, this California country girl isn’t afraid to dirty her hands caring for rescued fur babies. When Cyndi isn’t spending time with her fictional characters, plotting with fellow authors, or planning her next writing event, she’s enjoying her family beachside, walking her furry family members, and gathering ideas for her next novel. And connecting with fans!

Stay Co n n e c te d

cyndifaria.com Uncaged welcomes Cyndi Faria Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! In your Faeted Vampire series, in the next few months you have a couple books coming out in the series. Can you tell readers more about this series? I’m so excited to be here and to share my Faeted Vampire series. If you noticed the word play, this story includes both Fae and Vampires who are destined to find each other. The existence of 46 | UncagedBooks.com


Vampires and Fae are kept secret by a classified sect of government called the Preternatural Defense Unit. Many readers may already know that word on the street is Vampires and Fae are mortal enemies. In my world, the two factions have a longstanding treaty, which they’re always plotting to scoot around, and there is also a twist reveal I hope readers will love! The first book in the series, Vampire by Blood, is an enemies-to-lovers, second-chance, first-love, and so much more romance, which is near and dear to my heart. <3 The entire series follows the couple, ex-Marine turned Master Vampire Riley Sweetwater and small-town cosmetologist turned Queen of Faery Tricia McIntyre. The five star series has been quoted as: “(A) fantastic read. Fans of Sookie Stackhouse will love it.” ~Reviewer. This is exactly the kind of review I was hoping for when I wrote about a college aged woman coming into her powers and an ex-marine who’s going through a transition of his own. *Wink, wink* spoiler: He’s a born vampire and not made. I’ve been a fan of multiple vampire series for decades, and I’ve always wanted to write my own. There were several series written by other authors that I adored, but one in particular left me disappointed by the ending. I thought, I can give readers the happily ever after they deserve. I’m a die-hard romantic at heart. So, the Faeted Vampire series was born. This five book and counting series will give readers all they expect from vampire-fae romance, including steamy scenes, blood, magic, angst, and a whole lot of coming-of-age badassery! Go Tricia and Riley! Plus, spin-off novellas where side characters get their HEA too! Uncaged: Another series you write, Meet Me at Midnight Romance series, are retellings of modern Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | fairy tales. Can you tell readers more about that series? Can I just start out by saying I’m Cyndi. My first book was, of course, Cinderella. Maybe my dream of having a prince come and rescue me after falling in love with my goodness led me to writing and loving the romance genre, as well as the idea to write in the twisted fairy tale retellings genre. I love a dark, brooding alpha hero and a sassy but sweet heroine. So Meet Me at Midnight was born. To date, I have five books in the Meet Me at Midnight Romance series. From steamy (dark) contemporary romance—think bikers and the mafia—to reverse harems (one woman and multiple men), to a paranormal outlaw who’s set on claiming his reincarnated wife. These books are sure to please and the reviews have been awesome! “Highly entertaining fairy tale retelling that is filled with heart racing action, emotionally thrilling twists, and exciting passion. Was a(n) edge of your seat, hard to put down exciting journey from beginning to end.” ~Reviewer Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? This is a great question. My next two years are completely filled up, story-wise. Right now, I’m working on releasing two more books in my Faeted Vampire world. I like to release novellas in between my full-length novels. So, first up will be the release of Vampire Uncaged, part of the Hexes and Handcuffs Anthology and free on Amazon, followed by Vampire Unchained, which is the expanded version as compared to the partial story as part of Jailbreak, a paranormal prison escape collection. Vampire Unchained follows Garibaldi and Arianna Ward. This is another enemies-to-lovers, secondchance romance. I spot a theme! Early reviews are in, and I couldn’t be more pleased. 48 | UncagedBooks.com

“I’ve only read Cyndi Faria’s Vampire Unchained story…and I want more! It’s amazing. Intriguing, exciting and it gripped me until the end!” ~Reviewer Following the December 15th release of Vampire Uncaged and Vampire Unchained, January 12th brings the third novel in my Faeted Vampire series, with Vampire by Birth. Tricia’s pregnant with the first of its kind, but rumor has it neither will survive the birth. Will Tricia save her family before they’re struck down by dark magic? I can’t wait to find out what happens and if readers want more. I hope they do! I have three main books planned and several more spin-offs! Uncaged: You live in California, are you safe from the fires and has the smoke reached where you live? First, I feel so awful to those who lost their lives, were injured, and lost their homes to the terrible fires throughout the US this past month. I’m located near Sacramento, which is directly affected by the horrible air quality that those fires caused. Here in the valley, we experienced air quality in the unhealthy range for more than two weeks. Ash fell from the skies and we were forced to remain inside. The brown skies turned the sun orange and made the weather feel like fall, but the white above was smoke and not clouds. Ash raining down from the sky blanketed my car only after one week. We’re breathing this and feeling congested and sick. It’s just something we have to bear. Staying inside is a must. Luckily, it looks like the fires are either extinguished or managed now.


| CYNDI FARIA |

“So, maybe, success to me, in the perfect world, would be financial stability, perhaps to see myself traditionally published, and to have my books sold in the big box stores Dream big, right?!”

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? I tend to be fairly introverted, so I’m perfectly happy staying inside. However, shopping for food is the only outings I do at this time. I use gloves and wear a mask. I’ve even set up a sanitation station near my front door for family members to grab and go. At first, the items were outrageously expensive. We suffered through the toilet paper shortage. I even ordered bamboo TP for four times the going rate just to have supplies on hand. In a different way, unlike the majority of people, I lost my dad on March 12th, just three days before our state closed. What did this mean? No funeral. No gathering of family and friends. No hugs when they’re so desperately needed. Due to the virus and so many deaths, my dad’s cremation took weeks longer than usual. These are unchartered times. Meanwhile, my mom, who has dementia, was locked in a memory care facility. We weren’t able to see her for months. We’ve recently moved her to in-home care, so now we can visit with precautions. How I cope. I think being flexible helps. I did contract the virus from staying with my dad in the ER prior to his death. The ER in early March was filled with people on ventilators. I was lucky. Although the virus symptoms lasted twenty-nine days, the lung issues were fairly mild and lasted only five days. I used my inhaler, scored Zicam, and treated the exhaustion with sleep and the achiness with acetaminophen. Another family member, slept for two weeks and visited the doctor on three different occasions. There were few testing facilities at the time, so we were never tested, but we all came through okay. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Hands down, the authors I’d love to sit down with would be Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, and Sandra Brown, author of over seventy romantic suspense novels. Together, Paranormal Romantic Suspense is my go50 | UncagedBooks.com

to genre, and I’ve learned a lot from these two authors for different reasons. From Stephanie Meyers’ YA Twilight series, I segued to Laurell’s erotic paranormal horror/suspense. Laurell’s book grew from a coming-of-age series to something that’s so much more than when it started. I love the relationships Laurell has developed between her characters. I’d love to chat with her about the polyamorous world she’s created, and the possible return of a few favorite characters. Sandra writes romantic suspense and most of her endings are full of all the yummy feels that make me cry happy tears when the couples get together after the torment and angst she puts them through. I do wish she’d expand just a bit on some of her books’ endings as I’m often guessing at whether the couple actually got together or not. I’d definitely beg her to clarify a few endings if we sat down over tea. Lol. With Sandra, I love her intricate plots and twists. She’s the master of twist-turns and the type of villains we love to hate. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Yes. OMG, so much yes! Characters have minds of their own. Like my recent release, Owned by the Mob. Kit is the son of a mobster who avoids his mafia upbringing by touring with his band. He’s basically a tortured hero, but compassionate and sensitive. He rejects taking over the family business from his dying father and despises how his father has treated him and others. He doesn’t want to become his father. However, when Kit reacts to the villain (not his father) in a typical mafia way, I think that thrill of revenge surprises him, and through him, me. He owns his weapon. He fires. He does what he has to do to protect his family. He has no regrets as he becomes who he’s supposed to be. I didn’t intend for him to like his dominance as a mafia prince as much as he does, but it made for a great ending!   Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Well, writing is my passion, my happy place. I spend hours at my computer creating and getting lost in my


| CYNDI FARIA | You know, I’ve asked myself this question so many times. I’ve hit the USA Today Bestselling charts twice. I’ve written over 20 books, and there are more on the way. One of my short fiction and flash fiction pieces has been published in a magazine. I’ve been a chapter president for RWA (Romance Writers of America). I’ve blogged, toured, and met wonderful readers. All of these are successes I treasure. But I don’t feel like I’m successful yet Honestly, my goal is to make a living off my writing, and, after retiring to write full time this past June, I’m working toward that goal of getting my stories into the hands of more readers to make this possible. So, maybe, success to me, in the perfect world, would be financial stability, perhaps to see myself traditionally published, and to have my books sold in the big box stores Dream big, right?! Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now?

worlds. However, when I’m not writing, I hang with my fur babies, all who are rescues. Each night, I carve out three hours where we play outside and then hang together on the couch. It doesn’t matter what television series I’m currently binging, it’s family time and cuddle time that gets me nice and relaxed. The second thing is beach time with my hubs and my shitzu Mr. Henry. I love our monthly trips to Bodega Bay, California. He’s my nap buddy for sure. He loves the beach and napping in the sun! It’s the calm that soothes our souls. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you?

I’m always reading digital books, and I’m a collector of my favorite authors’ print books, but I don’t sit and enjoy a book like I once did. I find that audio is my go-to during the day, like when I’m driving in the car. I love a good audio book. I’ve even had two of my books made into audio. I hope to have all of them ready for fans by 2022! Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? Thank you so much for having me and reading this article! If you’re a fan of steamy-paranormal, suspenseful romance and steamy contemporary romance filled with twist-turns you’ll never see coming and happily-ever-after endings romance readers crave, please follow me! Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR |

Enjoy an excerpt from Knight and Day Vampire by Blood Cyndi Faria Paranormal Romance Necromancy isn’t pretty and Vampires aren’t exactly dead.

When Tricia McIntyre learns she’s a fae princess who’s being hunted by an ancient vampire, she turns to her best friend Sergeant Riley Sweetwater. Problem is, he’s buried in the town cemetery, and she hates him for dying on her. Until she uncovers his secret. Ex-Marine Riley Sweetwater was never meant to cross paths with Tricia after he went dark. Especially since he’s experiencing some kind of immortal transition of his own. But they do, and she’s hunting the same vamp responsible for killing his squad. Forced together, Tricia’s trying not to kill Riley with her uncontrolled Fae powers, while he’s struggling not to drink her dry. As they must battle their love-hate-lust relationship, they search for the one who holds the secrets to saving humankind before a dark supernatural destroys them all. Excerpt Chapter 1 Tricia “Tricia…can you hear me?” Ella’s unexpected voice blasts between my ears and races circles in my mind. I grip the funeral podium, denting the wood with my nails. Heart 52 | UncagedBooks.com

racing, I twist, and my sandals grind the grass into a spiral pattern as I search for her—or some version of her form—among the headstones. I’m thinking I’m losing it as the eulogy cards go flying from my fingertips, but then I feel her inside my mind, getting cozy. I do the one thing I shouldn’t with a hundred eyes pasted on me, waiting for me to speak, I whisper, “What are you doing, and where are you?” “Over here.” In the afternoon sun, shadows jet out from the monuments and the scattering of trees in full July bloom. I expect to find some other sign of her, but the air doesn’t breathe, nor do shadows flit about as the hummingbirds, nor does the air quiver with ethereal images. “I don’t see you. What’s happening?” Even in my mind, my words rush out, desperate for answers. “I-I wasn’t sure if I should tell you I’m a witch. I wasn’t sure if I’d come back. I’m not sure how long I’ll be here before I cross the veil.” The panic in her voice hardens. I’ve always envied Ella’s strength. She’s dealt with change in ways I’ve never grasped. Adopting me ranks at the top of the list. Trying my best not to freak, I’m as statuesque as one of the gravestones. I try to wrap my churning thoughts around the biggest surprise of my twenty-five years. Murmurs from the awaiting crowd grow louder, as I come to terms with the facts: Ella is reaching out to me from beyond the grave, and I’m talking to a dead woman. Stacey Miller, my best friend and boss, must note the panic forcing my eyes wide open. She’s five-five, wears a size eight in both pants and shoes. She’s pretty, with golden skin and a peach blush to her cheeks and lips. Her hair is mocha, slick as a chocolate fountain. She punches upright from her seat, glides toward me, and skirts the casket to join me at the podium. She runs a gentle hand over my back. “It’s okay. I’m here for you. We all are.” Only how can she truly be here for me when she’s human? Humans can’t hear or speak to the dead. Hu-


| CYNDI FARIA | mans don’t have skin or eyes that change colors, as if I’m a human mood ring for gosh sake. Humans don’t expel bursts of energy from their hands strong enough to topple a two-story veranda, which is a story for another time. So what does that make me? Of course, I know the answer before I finish the thought. I guess I’ve always known, even though Ella’s never spoken the words, pretending she’s mute to the mystical explanation of my origin. But we both accept the truth now: I’m fae. “Yes. But not just any Faery. You’re special. One of a kind. Now that I’m gone, the ward I’ve placed on the town is broken. I can no longer protect you.” Ella rattles off specifics so matter-of-factly, she might as well have added I’m a cosmetologist and have my California driver’s license. Labels don’t matter, when there’s nothing but hair gel holding them up. “Whom are you protecting me from?” Ella’s presence inside my mind feels as if she’s a loose hair, tickling a spot inside my brain that hovers above my right ear. “I-I don’t know. Someone like the man who tried to break into our house last year…” I spread my legs, adjusting my balance as the memory flashes in my mind, rattling me. I glance down at my feet, but the ground beneath where I’m standing is shimmering back at me in opalescent hues, matching my painted toenails.

caused, his resulting death, and damaged veranda. “You suspect more like him will come for me?” “I do. I wanted to tell you for so long that you hold the key to the future of Faery. I hope you can forgive me. Without children of my own, I didn’t want you to know you’re being hunted. I wanted you to have a normal life. But I’m a selfish woman. I couldn’t risk you leaving me when I wasn’t ready to let you go.” I battle angry tears that heap onto my lashes, feeling betrayed and hurt in so many ways because I’m ill-prepared, fearful to the point I think my kneecaps might jellify, while my ever-growing powers remain uncontrolled. I admit it’s not every day a person is handed an epic serving of responsibility. I mean, it’s not like I’m charged with caretaking a goldfish, but more akin to duplicating Mount Rushmore without a chisel and hammer. “How could you keep this from me?” Stacey nudges my shoulder, prodding me to begin the eulogy I’d insisted on presenting. Sure wish I’d listened to her advice before I’d heard Ella’s ghost. I’d be plunked down in the front seats of the ceremony, instead of using Stacey as a crutch to keep me from going down. I flash her a weak smile. She links her arm with mine, hauling me up a bit, and blinking her stoic brown eyes at me. “You got this, sweetie.”

Uh oh. Hope the pastor doesn’t see what I’m seeing or this funeral could turn into an exorcism. I drop my head, studying the mist. I can’t be sure because I’ve never seen the grass morph into a cloud, as if at any moment some kind of eye of the storm will open and swallow me whole, but some new power, new magic shoots static straight up from the ground into my legs.

She doesn’t know it, but she’s my role model in the toughness department, which makes sense, since her father’s the town sheriff. Good thing she can’t hear all the dead people clamoring for my attention. But at the same time, I wish more than anything to bond with someone who’s different, non-human, like me.

Clenching the podium keeps me standing, but I suspect I wouldn’t be the only person to collapse at a funeral. I recall the first time my powers woke me, shook me, terrified me, and saved me from a killer. The man who tried to break in led to the disaster I’d

I lean closer to her and roll back the glove of numbness, pressing onward. As soon as I do though, I choke up and my eyes leak. I force my mouth to open, trusting that I have to portray strength, even if I’m feeling boneless. “Momma, you gave me everything. You sacrificed for me. Raising me Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | couldn’t have been easy for you, and now you’re gone. It’s too soon. I need you here beside me.”

put my needs ahead of her own…and I thank you all for being here.”

“You’re stronger than you know. Believe in yourself. I promise I’ll be here with you, until you find your way…”

“Tell them…at the unexpected turnout.” Ella’s request comes out garbled, as if she’s talking underwater.

I capture a threatening sob, praying for that inner strength that hardened inside me that day my fae powers first appeared so shockingly sudden. Seems like decades ago, when it was only last year. I force myself to continue. “After my grandmother gave me up, Ella succeeded in presenting me to all of you. I was so shy and different. She made me feel like I belonged, like anything I pictured would come true.” I’m such a fool. I’m the girl who was too quiet, too pale, too hidden behind the fan of scarlet hair and the ears—my pointed ears. Oh, how the opinionated citizens of Diamond Springs struggled to accept me. Whispers from the town gossiper garnish my attention, which is plain ol’ rude. Yes, Ella even stood up to Doris Walker, the grocery clerk who prided herself in spreading gossip like day-old donuts. She asked too many questions, handed out unwanted diagnoses, and designed her beliefs around suspicion. Doris believed I was a Faery, I’d once overheard. She’s measuring me up from the third-row aisle seat, as if I’m one of those crossword puzzles she’s always working on. I’m thinking Doris’s accuracy should have clued me in long ago. I look like, sound like, and walk like a mythical creature or, in my case, a fae, so if the shoe fits… I’m feeling desperate to prove her wrong, but I know better. I flutter the notecards, even though I don’t really need them. “Ella was a quiet woman, self-sufficient in every way. She respected differences and kept her opinions to herself.” Doris slaps her lips closed, and I press on, somewhat satisfied as the corner of my mouth lifts. “Ella 54 | UncagedBooks.com

“What?” “Tell the audience I’m thrilled at the turnout. Truly touched.” Oh. “Ella’s thrilled…I mean, Ella would have been thrilled to see the outpouring of your love today.” Pastor Ripley strides up front, handing me a look that’s filled with a bit of raw relief as I step down. He directs the people to open their hymnals. I creep around Ella’s grave and peer into the lonely hole, catching sight of the casket as it hovers above the concrete tomb. I battle a shaky breath, telling myself to be strong. Nope, still not feeling it. “I have faith in you, but stay hidden until I find a protector, if I can….” Tangled roots emerge from the red clay, stitching the ground as the magic fades from beneath my feet. My knees are unstable as much as my teary eyes, but I refuse to give in to the unknown, the fear, and the pressure from the strange hum of voices that flows beneath Ella’s presence inside my head. I scan the audience, skipping my gaze from face to face. Attending are the town regulars and a few people I don’t recognize. How am I going to move forward with my life when I’m forced to watch my back day and night? How do I survive who’s hunting me when I have no idea who or what that could be? Sheriff Miller, Stacey’s father, is in uniform that matches the medium brown of his hair. He’s due for a trim next Friday, and I consider if I should clue him in, but quickly decide against asking for his help. He spears me with a brief glance, his brown eyes as keen as he is smart. He’s chatting in a civilized manner with


| CYNDI FARIA | a dark-haired man who’s taller than the six foot tall sheriff by a half foot. The stocky stranger is sporting a black suit and sunglasses, and beside him is a younger man who seems out of place. I feel the same. When the larger man shakes the sheriff’s hand, I don’t take him as a threat of any sort. Standing in the shade near the ice bucket and the bobbing water bottles, another man I don’t recognize takes a sip from his bottle. He’s Ella’s age. Ella had a life before me. She lived in Whisper Cove, a Pacific coastal town not far from here. Before that, she originated from the Deep South. She even passed on some of her Southern dialect to me, I’m told. But I don’t think syntax is gonna save my life, so I have to find someone who can teach me how. My head once again crowds with ghostly voices—tenors, sopranos, and even the faint sound of children. A stabbing pain throbs in my head, as if my mind’s locked inside a ringing liberty bell cast from open mouths. I massage my temples, but doing so doesn’t ease the pain of loss. There must be hundreds buried here, far more than the number of headstones placed since the original dwellers settled the gold rush town in 1848. I sense fear in the dead, too, but of what? Strangely, I can’t hear Stacey’s thoughts, her father’s, Pastor Ripley’s, or Doris’s. Nor can I hear the voice of the soldier buried beside Ella. “Riley…” I whisper. “Where are you?” I hate him for breaking his promise to return to me, but I miss him so much my heart aches and the ground beneath me blurs. Ella makes her presence known, that tickle finding purchase inside my head once again. “I wish you would have shared more of what you know with me. I’m not fragile. I could have understood, given a chance.” “I’m a selfish woman,” she reiterates, and her words are heavy with regret. Does my grandmother Catherine harbor regret? It’s something I’ve wondered about. Why did she give me

up after my mother, Diana, died? Why couldn’t she have taught me how to be a Fae? “So now what?” “I got you, honey.” Stacey darts her worried gaze toward me. I gulp, realizing I’ve spoken out loud. The look in her downturned eyes reveals pity. Pity I don’t want, but I give her arm a pat, deciding there’s a whole lot more involved in paying your respects—maybe a bit of forgiveness on both sides, since Stacey shared her concerns over Ella’s protectiveness over me, on occasion. Ella and I have always been the town’s outcasts, the people who moved to the hill and kept to ourselves, even though I’ve shampooed and styled half the town—part psychologist, part pastor if you ask me—washing away their sins every four weeks and watching the stained suds swirl down the drain, like one of those baptismal fonts after Sunday service. But I’m ready to come out—not in a sexual way, but to be seen or to uncover what this threat is outside the town’s boundaries. Ella’s spells bought me time, I realize, but now that time is over. So much has changed, but not my long-buried feelings of abandonment, which bubble to the surface. My father disappeared. My birth mother died. My grandmother gave me away. My first love never got a second chance at life or with me. Nor did Riley’s mother—God rest her soul—who’s buried beside her only son. Now Ella is gone. I slide my foot toward the silver coffin, considering my next move. Could I open the lid, crawl beside the corpse of the woman who raised me, who loved me with all her heart? Could I join her in death? Her and Riley? “No, baby girl. I don’t want that for you. Neither would Riley. I want you to live. I’m positive he would agree.” I cover my gasp, and Stacey pulls me into her Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | arms, squeezing me so tight I can barely draw a breath. I want to tell her so badly what’s happening to me, to my body, but I can’t. She’s human and doesn’t know anything about the issues I’m facing. Plus, she’s raising two kids without a husband and running the salon. She’s too busy and too in demand. I can’t put her in danger if evil lurks. It’s my burden now to learn who and what I am to be. “Perhaps my grandmother’s still alive. She was like me in many ways….”

heat of my power builds inside me. As if I’m made of latex, my energy tests my skin’s elasticity. Maybe standing on sacred ground wakens my magic, drawing out my sixth sense, but I don’t think that’s it when fear awakens my powers, too. Suddenly, my body’s tingling, scalp to toenails, as panic threatens. “Ella, my skin’s growing hot and taking on that neon green glow. Can you imagine what the Baptists will think, having the daughter of the one their choir singers explode on sacred ground?”

“Stay away from her,” Ella rasps her caution. “She’s isn’t like you. She’s jaded, angry, and full of resentment toward you. When I’d met her, I knew I had to do everything in my power to adopt you. So I promised her I’d hide your identity from you until the day I died.”

A gust circles me, and Ella’s floral scent fills my lungs. “Something is coming….”

“Which you have…” No matter good intentions, secrets hurt. But Ella’s concern congeals, mixing into a vat of unanswered questions I’m stirring. What made my grandmother dislike me? Why hasn’t she reached out to me? I’m just a cosmetologist who works at Sparkles Salon, helping others to conceal this or that. The irony isn’t lost on me. We’re all masking something, whether we admit that to ourselves or not. So what is my grandmother hiding? Determination finds me, propels me to find my balance. “Tell me how to find Catherine. She had to have known the reason behind making you promise to keep me hidden and why others want to harm me.” The ceremony patrons shuffle restless feet, flitter dog-eared pages of frayed hymnals, and continue with their singing. They’re oblivious to my ability, as much as the squawking crow overhead belching off-key notes. “She abandoned you before. What makes you think she’ll take you back?” Ella’s words sting with truth, and the quickening 56 | UncagedBooks.com

I roll my palms in front of my face, catching sight of the mottled, iridescent neon green patches that gather at the surface. “Shit. I’m glowing. You know what comes next.”

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he supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved-in. (Well, not literally!)

Uncaged welcomes Robert Herold

As a child, fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.) I have pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to me. You could say that I was haunted. Finally, following the siren’s call, I wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea I had as a teenager

Eidola means phantoms or apparitions, so it describes the nature of this 19th Century team of ghost hunters who investigate all things that go bump in the night— or worse! Imagine Stephen King, Caleb Carr, and Sherlock Holmes thrown in a blender and whipped up to a bloody froth.

Ultimately, I hope my book gives you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible! (Book two involves a werewolf and is titled, Moonlight Becomes You. It will be out later this year and I’m busy writing the third installment of the series. The Eidola Project has won several awards—see my social media links.) BTW: Eidola is pronounced “eye-do-la” and it’s a Greek word for ghosts, phantoms, and apparitions 58 | UncagedBooks.com

Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Can you tell readers more about your novel The Eidola Project?

Uncaged: What inspired you to write in the supernatural and paranormal genres? I’ve always loved these genres. It may have been because they were forbidden fruit as a child when my mom refused to let me watch creature features on latenight TV. I wore her down and she relented. At that point, I couldn’t get enough of the supernatural, reading and watching whatever I could. I even wanted to be a werewolf! (See my bio for more on this.) As an adult, I began novel writing a few years ago and for inspiration harkened back to a short story I wrote for my one of my junior high English classes. The teacher loved it and had me read it to the class. All you teachers out there: Know you are planting seeds that may grow and bear fruit long after your classes!


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| FEATURE AUTHOR | Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? The sequel to the Eidola Project is due out in a few months. The group travels to Petersburg, Virginia, to investigate a series of murders among the Black community—rumored to be caused by a werewolf. It’s titled Moonlight Becomes You. The manuscript has already won two first place awards (including Best Novel by a new writer) by the Southeastern Writers Association. I am also nearing completion of writing book #3. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? I used this opportunity to retire from teaching history after a 36-year career and I’m devoting myself full-time to writing.

Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Shakespeare, David Liss, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Caleb Carr, Bernard Cornwell, Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Dean Koontz, Richard Matheson, & Paul Tremblay—we would need a big table! They are/were all masters of their craft and I admire them greatly. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Yes. I can’t tell you about these incidents because I don’t want to spoil elements of the books. If you create well-rounded characters, they make demands on you and, as a writer, one must comply. 60 | UncagedBooks.com


| ROBERT HEROLD | Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I love books in all their forms. I am currently enjoying reading Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I hope my books give you the creeps—and I mean that in the best way possible!

Enjoy an excerpt from The Eidola Project The Eidola Project Robert Herold Paranormal/Horror

Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? I enjoy taking walks with my chihuahua, Jangles (AKA, Master of the Universe—he wanted you to know that). I also enjoy spending time with my wife (who beats me mercilessly at cribbage), reading, watching quality movies and tv shows, and listening to music. In addition, I enjoy collecting books and records, and playing the saxophone and the flute. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? I’d like to be widely read, as I believe I have something to offer the supernatural horror canon.

It’s 1885 and a drunk and ragefilled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife. The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness. Will any of them survive? Excerpt Sarah retrieved the lamp and twisted the peg. The outhouse door swung open on its own, and she gasped. Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | “Momma?” Sarah asked as she held out her lantern. No. A ruined version of Molly stood in the doorway. Before her disappearance, people often commented on the sixteen-year-old’s beauty, but in the last twenty-eight days birds pecked out her pretty blue eyes, and maggots now swam in the sockets. Molly’s head hung to the left at an odd angle. Her skin looked mottled with patches of gray, blue, and black. A beetle crawled out of Molly’s half-opened mouth and darted back in. Sarah’s heart leaped to her throat, and she jumped back. She lost her footing, fell onto the outhouse seat, and dropped the lantern to the floor. She bent to retrieve it; thankful the glass globe did not break. Sarah looked up and saw an empty doorway. Impossible, she told herself. Must’ve dozed off, had a nightmare, and woke up when I dropped the lamp. Her heart still pounded in her chest, and Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself. Holding the lamp before her once more, she crept out…

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feature authors

historical romance | historical fiction

Kit Morgan

Hildie McQueen

Bruce J. Berger


A

kit morgan

consistent Top 100 lists bestseller, Kit Morgan, aka Geralyn Beauchamp, has been writing for fun all of her life. When writing as Geralyn Beauchamp, her books are epic, adventurous, romantic fantasy at its best. When writing as Kit Morgan they are whimsical, fun, inspirational sweet stories that depict a strong sense of family and community. ‘His Prairie Princess’ is the first of the Prairie Brides books and the first in the series of a long line of stories about Clear Creek, Oregon. One of the whackiest little towns in the old west! Get to know the townsfolk in Clear Creek and come sit a spell! If you like Kit Morgan’s books then you might also like the Time Master Book series written under Geralyn Beauchamp and can be found on her website.

Stay Co n n e c te d

authorkitmorgan.com Uncaged welcomes Kit Morgan Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your latest release, Hearts of the Northwest is part of a series called, Regional Romance Series. Can you tell readers more about this series and this book? The Regional Romance Series is the brain-child of the wonderful Kari Trumbo. She knew that each author was very familiar with the region they chose 66 | UncagedBooks.com


to write about as we live in those same areas. I live in Oregon and decided that Oregon City, the end of the Oregon Trail would be a fun backdrop to my story. My book deals with two families. The Kirby’s who live in Oregon city, and the Remington’s who are from El Paso Texas. When Mr. Remington, the father of three grown children, decides to marry off his daughter to a neighboring rancher son, she flies the coop. She’d rather marry a stranger than the boorish man her father arranged a marriage with. Furious, Mr. Remington sends his two sons after her and orders them to bring her back or else. But after meeting the Kirby’s, the three Remington’s worlds are turned upside down. Uncaged: You’ve released quite a few books in 2020. Can you tell readers more about the Romancing the Weavers series also? Romancing the Weavers deals with Bella Weaver’s siblings to start. Many readers have been asking me for the Cucinotta children’s stories and so this is it. What makes this series fun is that I brought my editor, Ray Anselmo, on board to help me write these. If anyone knows my characters as well as I do, it’s Ray and he’s an excellent writer. We plan on continuing the series with the second-generation Weavers next year. But first up are the Cucinotta’s stories. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? Other than writing about the Cucinottas in Romancing the Weavers, I have a collection of stories I’m putting together which will be titled, The Tales of Tom Turner. I’ll also be working on the fourth book in my Matchmaker’s in Time Series written under Kit Morgan and my other pen name Geralyn Beauchamp. Geralyn rights time travel/ action adventure romance. What a lot of people don’t realize is that Kit Morgan (affectionately known as Kitty) is a character from Geralyn’s Time Master series. How my fictional-self wound up with 98 books and Geralyn (the flesh and blood me) wound up with only four I’ll never know! Okay, seven books for Geralyn if you count the Matchmakers in Time Series written Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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with Kit. Or would that be me and myself? Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? To tell you the truth, not much. I live out in a log cabin in the woods with a mile-long driveway. I don’t go many places so the only thing that has changed is knowing I can’t go many places. Unfortunately, I’m also living in the midst of the wild fires happening right now. I’ve been evacuated for over two weeks so far, and have had to go out to the house and water it down, make a defensive perimeter, and everything else you have to do to try to save your house from burning down. I have a new respect for pioneers who had to haul water up from a creek. Which is what my sister and nephew and

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I had to do because the power was out. We had to soak the ground around the house somehow and it was a backbreaking job. Hopefully with the rains coming this week they’ll get the fire better contained in will go from a evacuation level III down to it too soon. Needless to say this is done nothing for my writing time which has been cut considerably. But I’ll get it back on track very soon. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? Jane Austen. Who doesn’t want to pick Jane’s brain? And even though I’ve met Diana Gabaldon several times, I never really got a chance to speak with her a lot. She’d be fun to talk to in depth.


| KIT MORGAN | bination of Gunsmoke meets Green Acres. Lots of fun! Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I like them all. I tend to like physical books when reading outside, e-books when I’m reading in bed at night, and we all love audiobooks while camping! Lately I’ve been reading women’s fiction as I’ve always thought it would be fun to dabble in that next. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you?

Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? Most definitely. In fact, they do it in every book. I’m a pantser so my characters are always surprising me. Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working?

I write a little differently than other authors. As I got my start in science fiction/ time travel, which are written in an omniscient third person point of view, I tend to write my Kit Morgan books the same way. People say it’s like watching a movie or television show and puts you right in the center of things which is what that point of view is meant to do. It’s what makes the books fun and is also often used when writing comedy. You can follow me on Facebook, Amazon, BookBub, and Good Reads. I also have a special group in Facebook called Kit’s Corner that you can join.

Enjoy an excerpt from Hearts of the Northwest

I love to walk in the woods. We have a great swimming hole where I live. It’s fun to go creek walking too. I also love to camp and of course sit in the shade somewhere and read!

Hearts of the Northwest Kit Morgan Western Historical Romance

Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you?

“She’s run off, boys! Go get her!”

Giving joy, happiness and entertainment to as many people as possible. I read for the same reasons. I want to be entertained, I want a feel-good story that makes me laugh and feel happy. And so I want to give that to my own readers with my books. On that note many describe my books ( the westerns at any rate) as a com-

Those were Colt and Wolf Remington’s father’s last words concerning their sister Liana. But after finding out he’d arranged a marriage for her to Elmer Pruitt, was it any wonder Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | she ran off? But now they had to find her, and that might not be so easy … Liana Remington’s father decided she should become a bride. Problem was, he didn’t inform her of his plans. So rather than marry the biggest bore in Texas, she would rather become a mailorder bride and marry a stranger. After all, it was the only way to find a glimmer of happiness for herself. But could she find it with a man who had his two beautiful sisters living with him? Had she just left the frying pan and landed in the fire? Would the life she left in Texas repeat itself in the soggy Northwest? Worse, when her brothers show up, will she ever have a chance at love with the handsome Dr. Martin Kirby? Colton Remington took his father’s request seriously. But he could also understand why Liana left. Still, running off to who-knows-where was dangerous and foolhardy. What if she was accosted, kidnapped or worse? She didn’t know the ways of the world. He did. The war had taught him more than enough. But with the help of his brother, they’d find her and if anything, bring her back to live with them. Unfortunately, when they caught up to her, Liana wasn’t the one in danger, he was! Pearl Kirby would be the death of him. Who knew a pair of soft brown eyes could be so threatening? Wolf Remington didn’t like being dragged off to help find his sister. If she wanted to escape their father, let her. Didn’t she deserve some happiness? But Colt didn’t see it that way and, as Wolf was an expert tracker and had a sense for finding people, they soon found themselves in Oregon City, Oregon. However Liana wasn’t in as much danger as his brother thought. In fact, she looked to be getting along fine with her doctor beau. But if Colt had his way, they’d be taking her back to Texas. That is unless Wolf and the doc’s younger sister, Ruby, made it look like they were getting along just fine too. Problem was, the little spitfire irritated him to no end! How was he ever going 70 | UncagedBooks.com

to keep up the ruse? Excerpt By Sunday the word around town was that Dr. Kirby’s wedding would be held in not one, but two weeks. “I’m going to die,” Liana lamented as she got ready for her first church service. “I’m going to have to jump from a moving train to get out of this. Or take to a life of robbery and murder.” She figured the first person she’d have to do away with was the Pinkerton sent after her. That is, if there was even a remote chance of escaping him. She heard Pinkertons could be quite tenacious. “What’s the matter?” Ruby asked when she showed up at Mrs. Brown’s to fetch her. “It’s nothing. I just have a lot on my mind.” Indeed, she’d either have to talk to Martin and tell him why she was really here and hope he didn’t think she was using him. Or, she could pray like the dickens that she’d be married before anyone showed up to keep her from getting married in the first place. Unless of course she was marrying Elmer Pruitt. They walked to the house in silence. Ruby was too busy making lists in her head, trying to figure out if there was anything more they needed for the dress. She was out of white thread and needed some ivory too. With Mrs. Brody taking care of the veil, that was one less worry. She also informed Liana that she’d have to think of anything else she might want or need. Liana couldn’t come up with a thing. Sigh. She should be enjoying this. Any other mail-order bride would. She could have a real wedding, a dress made by her future sister in-laws. She could enjoy the generosity of the three matrons she had tea with and also look forward to meeting Martin’s other relatives. Instead it was like her world was coming to an end. Why? Fear, plain and simple. She hadn’t always been a coward, but she’d never been in this sort of situation before. She was beginning to like Martin a lot. She didn’t want to jeopardize what she was building with him, or his sisters for


| KIT MORGAN | that matter. Liana sighed. She should just come clean and tell him everything. Fine! I’ll speak to him after church. What else can I do? She gave Ruby a side-long glance, as if she could read her thoughts. But no, Ruby seemed oblivious, her mind on what was needed for the wedding. When they drew closer to the house, Liana smiled and engaged in polite conversation with Martin and his sisters. She’d try to pull him aside after lunch and tell him why she became a mail-order bride. If he was upset and didn’t believe she still wanted to marry, then so be it, but at least she could say she’d been honest. Liana didn’t know why she was so fearful of telling him. If he didn’t want to marry her anymore, so what? She had a little money and was sure she could find a job someplace. Maybe Mrs. Brown would work with her and let her stay at the boardinghouse until …

sitting around her, she was greeted with smiles, well wishes, and offers of help with the wedding. And, to top it off, Rev. Franklin’s sermon was on loving thy neighbor. Something she’d like to do after she was married. If she got married, that is. As soon as the service was over, she cast a worried glance at the church doors. She wished she could calm down, but at this point was wound so tight, she didn’t wonder if she’d faint if startled. “You look pale,” Pearl commented as they left the pew.

“I was thinking again about our trip to Astoria,” Martin said as they entered the church. “By the way, I want to speak with Rev. Franklin after service.”

Her sister smiled. “Of course, we do. You don’t have to fret about a thing. Except maybe getting stuck by a pin when we have you try on your dress.”

She nodded. “Good idea.” He studied her a moment. “Are you all right?” “Well, to tell you the truth, there’s something I’d like to talk to you about.” “Can it wait until after church?” “Of course. No rush,” she said with a smile. She took a deep breath to steal herself. Maybe being in church was a good thing. Pa never went and she and her brothers only so often. They lived too far out to make a habit of it every Sunday. Liana thought of Colton and Wolf. Were they as furious with her as Pa had to be by now? Probably. If she married Elmer, their two ranches would almost be like one. Her brothers would have Pa’s ranch once he passed on, and she would have the Pruitt’s should something happen to Mr. Pruitt and his son. Pa had thought this through. Too bad he never informed her of his plan. The service was enjoyable. She hadn’t sung hymns in a long time. When it came time to say “hello” to those

“Oh, um, wedding jitters,” she said. “Goodness, you needn’t worry so. Ruby and I have everything under control. Isn’t that right, Ruby?”

Pearl giggled. “True.” She looked Liana over. “Really, you don’t look good.” Liana shrugged. “It’s all the excitement.” They just didn’t realize how much. Martin took her by the hand. “Ah, there’s Rev. Franklin. We’ll get in line and speak with him.” Liana noticed folks filing out of the church, each shaking the good reverend’s hand. He was a wiry man with white hair and a calm demeanor. At least someone was calm. She certainly wasn’t. Good grief, her hands were shaking! “Rev. Franklin,” Martin greeted happily when they reached him. “A good sermon, as always.” “Thank you, Dr. Kirby, I’m glad you liked it.” He looked at Liana. “And this must be your mail-order bride. It’s lovely to meet you at last, my dear.” Liana smiled. “You too, Reverend.” “And how did you like our little service?” “Oh, fine,” she said as her belly twisted into a knot. Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | “We’re glad you could join us.” He looked down the line of parishioners. “Well, I suppose you want to discuss the wedding? I have some time this week.” “Certainly, we understand you’re busy,” Martin said. “But we do need to work out some details.” “Of course, glad to help. Now if you don’t mind?” “Not at all,” Martin said. He smiled at the reverend, then Liana. “We’ll make a list of things when we get home.” He pulled her along and they began the walk home. They’d almost reached the house when she finally asked, “Do we really need to make a list?” “For Rev. Franklin you mean?” “Yes.” “Well, there are things we haven’t thought out yet. Do you want to decorate the church, for instance?” She couldn’t help it. She rolled her eyes. “What’s the matter?” “I’m sorry. It’s just that a simple wedding has turned into so much more.” “What’s wrong with that? I thought you’d be pleased.” He stopped and turned to her. “Are you?” Her shoulders slumped. “Martin, about what I have to tell you ...” By now Pearl and Ruby had caught up. Ruby took one look at them and frowned. “What did we miss?” “Nothing,” Liana said. “No, it’s not,” he said. Pearl frowned. “Is it nothing or something?” “Let’s discuss this when we get home,” Martin 72 | UncagedBooks.com

suggested and started off again. Good, this gave her more time to think. For one, should she tell him in private or let them all have it at once? Two, should she do it before lunch, or after? Hmm … “Liana!” Martin came to an abrupt stop. “Who is that sitting on my porch steps?” he asked. Liana sighed. “Before lunch and all at once it is, then.” “What?” Martin said. He glanced at the two men on the porch and back. “Liana? Who are those men?” She blinked a few times. She’d been so wrapped up in what to tell him, she had to take a quick look around to see what was going on. Her eyes became riveted on the men on the porch. “Liana?” Martin prompted. “They seem to know you. Who are they?” She gulped. “My brothers.”

DON’T MISS THIS TITLE:


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hil d ie mc q ueen

E

nticing. Engaging. Romance.

USA Today Bestselling Author Hildie McQueen writes Medieval Scottish Romance and American Historical Romance. If you like stories with a mixture of drama and humor, you will love Hildie’s storytelling. Strong heroes meet their match and fall in love every time! Hildie resides in eastern Georgia with her superhero husband Kurt and three little dogs.

Stay Connected

hildiemcqueen.com Uncaged welcomes Hildie McQueen Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! It’s been quite awhile since we chatted. You have a new book coming out October 8, A Flawed Scotsman which is part of a series called Clan Ross. Can you tell readers more about this book and the series? Hi! Thank you for having me back. So much happens in A Flawed Scotsman that I have no doubts readers will be engaged in the story. I love this hero, Rauri Ross because he is different than the other men in this series. Rauri walks the line between alpha and beta. He is a strong warrior, but vulnerable because he was

abandoned as a child. Let’s talk about the heroine, she is a total badass. Her archery skills are better than the male archers, because she has eagle-eyed accuracy. So, when the clan is attacked, this girl is shoulder to shoulder with the men flinging those arrows. Esme Fraser is probably my favorite heroine in the series, not just because she is a fighter, but because she’s so brave. Uncaged: You’ve been a regular participant in conventions and in-person events in the past. What have you had to do differently this year with all the cancellations? I miss traveling and seeing readers so much. Social media and virtual events have been my salvation during the quarantine. Even if it’s online, it’s still awesome to chat with my friends and readers. One thing that has been fun is hubby and I doing a Facebook live. Once we tried Scottish drinks and the second time we tried Scottish baked goods. I think the next one we’re doing candy. It’s a lot of fun and the readers have great commentary going while they watch. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I am writing Book 5 in the Clan Ross series, A Fearless Rebel. I am about 75% done with the story. This one will be a bit different because most of the story takes place at the Clan Fraser keep. The hero is brother to the heroine in book 4. Characters from the other books do show up and one of them has moved to live there. Hmmm, could he be the next hero? Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle? Not sure where to start on this question. This year has been eye-opening. It’s has changed my life in that four of my family have died from complications of Covid-19. Coming face-to-face with mortality and how something invisible can kill me affects Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR |

“In the last month or so, I have finally found ways to cope. I’ve given myself permission to slow down.”

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| EDWARD WILLETT |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | creativity. Many of my writer friends, like me, had a hard time focusing on creating story when the world around us was changing constantly. In the last month or so, I have finally found ways to cope. I’ve given myself permission to slow down. In the mornings I make time for devotional/meditation and clear my mind. Although I keep abreast of current events, I do my best to not watch the news until the evening. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? When I was about 16, I wrote a letter to Bertrice Small. I was over the moon when she wrote me back. I was so excited to finally meet her at a convention, but she fell ill and subsequentially passed away. I wish I would have had the chance to tell her how she affected my life. I want to spend an entire afternoon with Kathryn LeVeque, Tanya Crosby and Julie Johnstone! Imagine the three of us over food and fizzy drinks! How fun that would be! Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? This happens all the time. One of my favorite ones was in A Flawed Scotsman. Rauri became a sleuth and found out more about his parentage than I expected. There’s a scene between Rauri and an interloper in his cottage. That entire storyline was all unplanned. I sat back and went. “Okay, go on Rauri, what next?” Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? Don’t laugh, but I think I’m on my 4th cycle of the seven seasons of the Great British Baking Show. I can’t stop watching. I love the positivity, the bright cinematography and the happy music. It makes me smile. My husband laughs at me because I can never remember who wins what. 78 | UncagedBooks.com

Also, I color on my iPad, that’s great fun as well. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? When readers look forward to your next book with anticipation. There is no greater success than that. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now? I prefer physical books, followed by audiobooks. The reason is that after staring at a computer all day, I want to rest my eyes from the glare. Currently I’m reading, I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg


Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? I am very active on Facebook and Instagram. I would love it if you follow me on BookBub as well. That would be amazing!

| HILDIE MCQUEEN |

Enjoy an excerpt from A Flawed Scotsman

A Flawed Scotsman Hildie McQueen Ancient World Releases Oct. 8 Ruari Ross, cousin to the laird, ponders a marriage arrangement that would ally Clan Ross with Clan Fraser. After a lonely youth, Ruari wants the companionship of a wife without the complication of a love match. When he stumbles upon an injured woman in the forest, he not only saves her life, but changes the course of his entire future. Strong-willed daughter of Laird Fraser, Esme has avoided all her parents’ matchmaking attempts. Above all else, she wishes to avoid marrying a Ross. During a jaunt in the forest, she is mortally wounded and left for dead. When she awakens, she realizes her courageous rescuer is not only a Ross, but the man who would be her husband. As Esme recovers beneath Ruari’s watchful eye, an unexpected love blossoms, and Ruari soon discovers his betrothed is not only a fiery beauty, but the best archer he’s ever seen. But when a massive enemy army attacks, Clan Fraser faces hopeless odds. With the shadow of war looming, will these reluctant hearts find love, or will a brutal attack end it all? Excerpt #1 Tired of rolling from one side to the other, Esme sat up in bed. It was dark, much too late not to be sleeping. Her mind kept returning to Catriona’s comment. Was she indeed to marry a stranger? What did she know about Ruari other than speakIssue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | ing to him but a few times? Her chest tightened. There was so much at stake and she had little choice. There were others making sacrifices much greater than her. Even Ruari, who was leaving his home to come and live there. What of the fifty men all coming to Fraser lands, they were leaving all they knew. Families would be displaced. All because of one overbearing and cruel man. In that moment, she hated the Mackenzie and hoped to never have to see his face again. Sliding to the edge of the bed, she sat with her legs hanging over the edge and allowed her mind to wander. “What would it be like to marry Ruari Ross? Although he seemed an even tempered and fair man, only time would tell. His chamber was only two doors down. The thought came to her and before she could ponder overmuch, Esme crept to the door and out into the corridor. A guard slept at the end of the hall, wrapped in a tartan, he snored loudly. Esme smiled wondering how many people would walk past before he woke. Her clan was not going to survive an attack. For the most part Frasers were easy-going people of peace. She tip-toed away from where the guard was to the guest chamber and pushed the slightly ajar door open. Moonlight shined in through the window landing on Ruari who slept soundly. With one arm up over his head and under the pillow, the other was across his midsection. She gazed at him from the doorway unable to keep from scanning his unclothed chest. 80 | UncagedBooks.com

He was formidable. Even while asleep, he exuded raw masculinity. Emboldened by his light snore, she moved closer. As crazy as it was to be in his bedchamber, she could not turn away. Slowly she reached to touch his shoulder. Quick as lightening, Esme was yanked forward and flipped flat onto her back, Ruari’s body crushed hers and he held a dagger at her throat. A whimper escaped despite her inability to breathe. Surprisingly, she was not in a lot of pain, but he was much too heavy, and her breathing was constricted by his weight on her chest. He blinked several times before rolling off of her but kept the dagger at her throat. “What the hell are ye doing here?” Esme swallowed while he groaned and moved the dagger away. “I w-wanted to talk.” Before she could see anything, he pulled the bedding up to his waist. The look he gave her was a mixture of disbelief and curiosity. “Now?” She remained silent as he shoved the dagger back under the pillow and yawned loudly. When he gave her a questioning look, Esme shrugged. “I suppose it could have waited until morning, but ye see. I cannot sleep and I thought it would be a perfect time to speak without interruptions.” She gave him what was hopefully a friendly smile. Ruari shook his head and raked his right hand through tussled hair. “I suppose ye are right. What do ye wish to speak about?” Caught by surprise at his patience, she scrambled to sit and lean back on the headboard. Her injuries


| HILDIE MCQUEEN | smarted, and she grimaced.

battle.

“First of all. What do ye expect from me once we are married. Am I to submit to yer every whim?” “Whim?” He remained on his back, but now both arms under his head. She couldn’t help but wonder if he was completely nude.

Although there was no doubt they knew to be outnumbered, there was bravery in fighting to keep one’s home and defend what rightfully belongs to the people of the clan. The fighters were almost even in number now proving the amazing shots the archers were. The Mackenzie would not have an easy time conquering Clan Fraser.

“Aye. Husbands can make a woman’s life miserable.” “Esme,” he started and stopped. “What is really bothering ye?” She sighed. “I do not know ye. We are to marry and spend our lives together. What if ye do not care for me.” She hesitated. “I know it is not a high price to pay, not compared to keeping my clan safe.” He rolled to his side, the bedding slipping from his waist to his unclothed hip. The man’s body was distracting her from why she was there. Esme curled the hand closest to him to keep from reaching out to touch him. Excerpt #2

Until the other warriors, who rode at full speed, arrived, the Frasers stood a chance to win. Ruari looked to his men. “When the reinforcements arrive, return out the same way we came, return to Ross lands immediately, ensure the archers do the same.” He climbed down from the wall and upon hitting the ground, once again, he drew out his sword. Slicing a path through to the front entrance of the keep, he had but one goal in mind. Not to let Esme die. He had to save her from what was sure to be a slaughter.

A new group of Mackenzie warriors entered the gates, they grouped together using their shields as a barrier. He exchanged looks with the guards on the wall. “We wait until those arrive and try to hold them off as long as possible. I do not expect ye to fight to the death. We must just try to keep them at bay until the rest of Clan Fraser arrives.”

He raced through the great room, his heart thundering in his chest and raced up the stairs to the top of the keep.

With hard expressions that would make most men’s blood run cold the warriors nodded. His clan had been at war for a long time, these men were not strangers to conflict.

“Esme!” He called out spotting her as she loosed an arrow.

Below, Fraser guards fought valiantly against their enemy. Thankfully the rumor about Mackenzie leaning too heavily on numbers seemed to be true as the Fraser warriors were much better at hand-to-hand

Once atop the keep, arrows whizzed by and several men lay on the floor with arrows impaled on their bodies. No one was dead. Not yet.

Her hair flew around her head like flames as she concentrated on the scene below. Her gaze did not waiver to him when he came to her side holding up a discarded shield in front of them. “We must go, more come.” Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | “They will fall too then.” She loosed another arrow and it hit her target, the man falling with it impaled in his neck. “Ye should go with him,” her father neared and Ruari noted he’d broken an arrow off that had hit him in the upper left arm. The man had continued to fight despite it, which didn’t surprise Ruari. A true laird fought alongside his men to the death. The three of them rushed to the other side of the building to see the huge army headed their way. “Why would he do this?” Esme exclaimed. “If he kills us all what will he gain?” Ruari took her arm and led her away from the edge. “We must go. I did not bring my men here to die.” She smiled up at him, her brown eyes full of tenderness when meeting his. “I agree, ye and yer men should go. This is not yer fight.” It would be useless to try to convince her to leave with him. It was obvious she would die alongside her father. Ruari cupped her jaw. “Ye are extraordinary.” Esme shrugged. “What I am is determined to take down as many of those bastards as I can. Please move aside, I do not have time to watch ye leave.” Although her words were said with impatience, her eyes became shiny with tears. Of course, he would not leave, Esme was the woman meant for him and if fate decided they’d die together then so be it. Ruari grabbed a bow and arrow from one of the downed men and stood next to her. Although a good marksman, he preferred hand-to-hand fight82 | UncagedBooks.com

ing. However, it was best to do what he could from up there and not waste more time. Without knowing the local people and who was the enemy, Ruari had to pay extra attention before shooting, which meant he was a lot slower than the other archers. It was a short while later that battle cries sounded. “Buaidh no Bàs!” At first, he wasn’t sure of what he heard. Then again, the arrivals cried out, “Victory or death! “Do not attack those who arrive,” Ruari called out and hurried back to the opposite side just in time to see the red banner with three lions upon it. His heart squeezed at the sight of his cousins, Tristan and Kieran leading hundreds of Ross warriors at full speed.

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bruce J . berger

B

ruce J. Berger of Silver Spring, Maryland is one of the many retirees who has embarked on a second career later in life. “When I was young, I imagined a career as a writer,” says Berger. That didn’t exactly happen right away. Berger ended up pursuing a career in law instead. As he was getting close to retirement, Berger decided the time had finally come to pursue his writing passion full time. He enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at American University in Washington, DC, from which he graduated in 2018. Berger currently serves as an Adjunct Professional Lecturer at American University, where he teaches an Introduction to College Writing and Creative Writing Across the Genres. Bruce Berger is also a poet. His poem “In The Last Room With My Father” won the 2018 Montgomery Magazine prize for poetry.

Stay Connected

brucejberger.wordpress.com

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Uncaged welcomes Bruce J. Berger Uncaged: Welcome to Uncaged! Your newest book, The Flight of the Veil will release in October. Can you tell readers more about this book? In The Flight of the Veil, siblings separated by the Holocaust rediscover each other after almost five decades and give each other new reasons to live. Nicky Covo is a Holocaust survivor from Salonika, Greece. In early 1990, Nicky – now a psychiatrist in Brooklyn – receives a letter from Abbess Fevronia, the head of a women’s monastery in his native country. Although Nicky has long believed that the rest of his family died at Auschwitz, he learns that Theodora, a mysteri-


ously silent nun who’s lived at the monastery since 1944, may be his sister. Ultimately, Nicky learns that both his and his sister’s lives were saved by the Theotokos – the Mother of God. But lurking in the background is Phrike, the Greek goddess of horror, who narrates part of the story. Uncaged: It says on Amazon that this is your debut novel, but you’ve written short stories and poetry. What inspired you to jump into writing this book? Many of the characters, including Nicky Covo and his deceased wife Adel, were introduced in a series of short stories, starting with “Nate and Adel and Other Stories,” which are still available on Amazon, by the way. Ever since I wrote the story of Nicky leaving his family, in “To Hide in Athens,” I always had in the back of my mind a story in which he reunites with his sister, Kal. So this novel is just a logical continuation of what I had started years before. Uncaged: What are you working on next that you can tell us about? I am rewriting my second novel, The Music Stalker, also about Nicky Covo and his family. This is the story primarily about Nicky and Adel’s daughter Kayla, a piano prodigy, and her short, meteoric career. Kayla appears in a couple of critical chapters in The Flight of the Veil, which takes place years after her performing career had ended. Uncaged: How has the coronavirus pandemic changed your lifestyle?

I now teach on-line at American University instead of on-campus. The good side of this is that I save the commuting time, and I can always use the extra minutes promoting The Flight of the Veil on my social media. Uncaged: Past or present, which authors would you love to sit and have lunch with and why? The answer to that questions changes day by day, if not minute by minute. Right now, I’d say Euripides, because I love the pathos of Trojan Women and would like to hear him talk about this play. I’d also love to meet John Fowles, because I love so many of his novels. Finally, I’d love to meet D.M. Thomas and talk to him about The White Hotel, which is the novel that in some ways tries to do with the Holocaust what I try to do in The Flight of the Veil. Uncaged: Have any of your characters ever done something that you didn’t intend when you began? All the time. That’s unavoidable, if you want your characters to be alive. Indeed, it’s most desirable. Why write at all if not to be surprised? Uncaged: What are some things you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing or working? In pre-Covid days, and hopefully after Covid, I played and will play senior baseball. Please make note: baseball, not softball, an entirely different game. Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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Also, I read and play the piano. Lately, I’ve been trying to play some of the easier Beethoven sonatas. Probably my interest in writing a novel about a piano prodigy such as Kayla Covo stems from my own experiences starting piano at age four. I still have my first piano book. Uncaged: What does success as an author look like to you? If success occurs, it will be defined as many readers being moved by The Flight of the Veil and writing to me to discuss it. Uncaged: Do you prefer ebooks, audiobooks or physical books? Are you reading anything now?

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I prefer physical books, but do read e-books. I’m always reading something. Right now, I’m reading Midnight at Chernobyl on my phone and a collection of short stories by Robin Black in a physical book. Her collection is called If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This. Uncaged: What would you like to say to fans, and where can they follow you? If you’re a fan, you must have read The Flight of the Veil or some of my short stories or poems or my book Return to Sender: 224 Unanswered Letters to the White House, so write to me about all or any of that, and direct your email to theflightoftheveil@aol.com.


Enjoy an excerpt from The Flight of the Veil The Flight of the Veil Bruce J. Berger Historical Fiction Releases Soon Nicky Covo is a Holocaust survivor. In 1990, Nicky - a Brooklyn psychiatrist - receives a letter from Abbess Fevronia, the head of a women’s monastery in Greece. Although Nicky believes the rest of his family died at Auschwitz, he learns that Theodora, a mysteriously silent nun who’s lived at the monastery since 1944, may be his baby sister, Kal. With his old friend and new love, Helen, Nicky returns to Greece - to harrowing memories of his fighting with the partisans and to a reunion with his beloved sister. The Flight of the Veil explores the intersections of guilt and memory, faith and tragedy, fate and miracle. Excerpt Nicky has entered a small room; one window filters in the faint glimmer of dawn. He sees a young German springing from behind a desk. Nicky cannot fathom why the German is there alone and knows only that the enemy has killed his comrade and is about to kill him. That’s why the German – only two meters away – brandishes a grenade, has pulled its pin, has let go of its safety lever. It seems that the German has a clownish smile, that he must be crazy, that the war has gotten to him. Like Nicky, tired of killing, yet not too tired to kill two more. Maybe he just wants to die a hero to his lost cause. The German must sense that the Third Reich is dy-

| BRUCE J. BERGER |

ing and that there’ll be nothing left for him if he returned to his homeland. All three possibilities – trap, crazed man, suicidal martyr – cross Nicky’s mind in an instant. Then a flash of deep red, the color of sunset in the moments before dark, but the flash doesn’t come from the grenade. It sweeps into the room from the wall with the window, from the window itself, and envelopes the German. The grenade goes off in his hand a tiny fraction of a second later, but the explosion doesn’t deafen Nicky, as he would’ve expected. The explosion is muffled almost to inaudibility, like summer thunder heard from miles away. Shrapnel shreds the German’s face, but nothing hits Nicky except a puff of warm air. The German has been caught in a whirlwind, but the grenade’s metal shards leave Nicky unscathed, as if he’d been protected by an impervious blanket. The red flash, which has flooded the room in a ghastly, near-blinding light, swirls for a second and disappears as suddenly as it came. He imagines for an instant the scent of cinnamon. Nicky stares with disbelief at the dead German soldier, a crumpled body without a head, a gaping hole where his neck had been, his ravished uniform barely holding his body together. He looks down to see that his own legs are still attached to his body; he studies his hands to assure himself that he still has arms. His rational mind tells him he must be mortally wounded, bleeding out, but the physical parts of his body are intact. The German has destroyed himself alone. Nicky runs outside, yelling in the triumph of being alive.

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fang-FREAKIN-tastic reviews

feature author

Mia Ellas


mia ellas Tell us a bit about Reaper Revealed It is about a young girl who sees a soul leaving a body and soon learns she is a Reaper. Billy is invited to an Academy for her kind, where she realizes she is the youngest student and completely out of her element. She has to learn her way around and soon discovers that her family has a lot of history and she isn’t very well liked for very good reason.

U

rban fantasy and paranormal romance author Mia Ellas was always accused of living in her own world so she decided to put it to paper. She loves things that go bump in the night so she decided to share her love with her readers. She resides in Florida with her husband and girls. When she isn’t writing she’s enjoying the beach, taking cardio kickboxing, or practicing martial arts.

Stay Co n n e c te d

miaellas.com

You write with another author. How did that come about? I met Laura Perez, my co-writer, several years ago at my book convention. She was giving a workshop on writing fight scenes. I write Urban Fantasy so it was useful. We became friends and I admire her writing. One day I approached her with an idea for a book and she said yes, now it will be an eight book series with some off-shoot stories as well. Have you always wanted to become an author? If you’d asked my sixth-grade teacher, she would have said yes. We’d have an assignment for a two-page story and mine was thirty pages. I wanted to be a chef and own a restaurant, but I had a family, so there was a change of plans and I followed my passion. I’ve been writing for eight years, I recently took books down to rebrand, but they will be up again soon. What are you working on next?

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Laura and I are working on Reaper Rejected, the second book in our Reaper Trials series, which comes out in November. I’ll have my Mixed Martial Arts Shifter book, Locked in Magic - The Unleashed Book 0, out within the next few weeks. It will be free when you sign up for my newsletter. It is a prequel to Grappling


| ANGIE MARTIN |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | for Magic which will hopefully be out before the end of the year. What does the writing process look like for you? First came the world building. Laura and I had several calls to flesh out the world and characters. That took a lot of time. Then we sat down and decided the general story arc for each book in the eight book series then we broke it down from there. We plot everything out but a few things sneak in as we write. Laura surprised me with a couple of added characters, but they worked beautifully within the story and Wimbo has become one of my favorites. What do you do when you aren’t writing? Well number one, I’m a reader. I always have a book or two going. I also run a book convention in its either year, Orlando Reads Books http://orlandoreadsbooks.com We had to postpone this year but we’re ready to go for next year. I also love traveling, going to the beach, and cooking. Thank you Ungaged Reviews for having me today.

Enjoy an excerpt from: Reaper Revealed Reaper Revealed LE Perez & Mia Ellas YA Fantasy Surrounded by death, one young woman must learn to wield it or succumb to it. There was a time, not long ago, when I heard the word reaper and thought of skeletal beasts shrouded in hooded cloaks who tormented people with their soul-sucking sickles. 92 | UncagedBooks.com

Now, they are the mean girls I pass in the halls at L’Academie L’Mort, and the insanely hot guy with perfect hair I’m told I will be working with. Oh, and after graduation, it turns out I’ll be one, too. Confused? Join the club. The line forms behind me. I was living the normal life of a sixteen year old just days ago. I loved martial arts and playing my cello. Then, I found myself ripped from everything I knew and summoned to a University in a parallel paranormal universe. How am I adjusting? My only friend is a squirrel, and something is out to get me. Not what you would call a stellar start. I’m meant to train and ready myself for the Reaper Trials. But as whoever—or whatever—is hunting me closes in, I begin to fear I’m the one that won’t make it out of Death Academy alive Excerpt The fist came at me in slow motion, my mind and body already calculating the counter. We had drilled this so much in class it surprised me when she actually threw it. Slipping out of the way, I answered back with a hook punch that caught my sparring partner unaware. “Oof!” “Easy Billy.” Master Jun materialized out of nowhere and checked on my Meg who was now doubled over on the mat. “Sorry sir.” I bit my lip as he helped her up. “Sorry Meg.” “No worries,” she coughed, “nice counter.” She stood up on shaky legs and put her hands up again. At sixteen, I had been doing Tae Kwon Do for over four years. I loved fighting drills. Like, I really loved them. Sparring and training with weapons always gave me a sense of control I didn’t have anywhere else, so I brought my hands up and got ready again. It didn’t matter, this time, Meg caught me with a side kick as I came in to tag her again. “Uhn!” Sliding back, I kept bouncing and moving around as I tried to catch my breath. This was the best matchup in some time. We gave each other some space,


| MIA ELLAS | feinting and moving off the line. It wasn’t long before I found my opening and moved in. “Wilhelmina Vellum that’s enough!” Cringing at the sound of my full name, I extended a hand to Meg who was doubled up on the floor, again. “Yes sir!” I said breathlessly. “You good Meg? I didn’t mean to hit that hard.” All she could do was nod at me as I helped her up. “I think you two are done. Bow, touch gloves and finish up with some pushups.” Master Jun tried to sound stern, but his chuckle gave him away. We were his best fighters and he loved it when one of us actually tagged the other. “Yes sir.” We echoed, setting off some serious giggles between us. Fifteen minutes and a bottle of water later we had both taken off our sparring gear and were packing up. “Hey, you need a ride?” Meg asked as she fought to get her gear in her bag. “No, walking home tonight. Have to stay in shape, remember?” “You sure?” “Def. We have a tournament coming up. ‘Endurance is key!’ Isn’t that what Master Jun always says?” Meg burst out laughing. “He most certainly does. Next week then?” “Next week.” Meg was great, she was the only person in the Dojang I could spar with who didn’t get mad at me when we fought. Most of the other students my age thought I hit a bit too hard, but wasn’t that the point of sparring? Of fighting? I sighed. It wasn’t in me to go half speed. By the time I finished gathering my things and headed out, the sun was gone. A rumble of thunder made me look up as I walked down the street. There was no way I was going to make it home before it started

raining. But I was going to try so I started jogging down the street. I made it to the corner when the skies opened up and forced me into an alcove. “Dammit.” I knew I should call my mom, but I hated to bother her especially since I’d already told her I would walk home. Still, when my phone rang, I knew who it was. “Hey mom. No... I’m still pretty far. Yeah...okay. No, the school is closed, I’m at the corner where the bank is. Okay I’ll wait. Thanks mom.” It would take her at least twenty minutes to get here and there was no place to sit. The street was quiet and empty. All I heard was the patter of rain and the rumble of thunder overhead. A flash of lightning here and there lit the street up and I regretted not taking Meg up on her offer for a ride. I tossed my bag on the ground and sat on it. Might as well get comfortable. After playing on my phone for ten minutes, movement across the street caught my eye. I got up slowly. What I thought were large bags of garbage were actually a homeless person wrapped in those bags. The old man started cursing and kicking at the bags as they filled with water. When a pickup drove by and splashed him, he lost it. Screaming obscenities at the truck and God and anyone else who would listen. Unfortunately, I was the only other person around. I must have made a noise because he suddenly looked dead at me. “Oh damn.” I didn’t realize I had said anything out loud until he answered back. “What are ya looking at?” He screamed. It was best not to answer him, and I tried to break eye contact. Acting like I didn’t see him only made it worse, a point I realized the moment he headed toward me. “I’ll teach you to laugh at me. All you kids are the sa-” The SUV came out of nowhere. Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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| FEATURE AUTHOR | The old man hardly made a sound as it struck him. Sending him up and over the hood of the car. The driver slammed on his brakes, the SUV skidded, and the old man landed by the passenger side door. The sickening thud as the car hit him had stopped me. The sound of bones and flesh meeting the pavement mixed with the screeching of the SUV as it tried to stop, almost made me throw up. Almost.

“Help me please! I didn’t see him.”

“Hey! Sir…”

I dropped my bag and stepped onto the street. That’s when the worm thing pointed its maw right at me. I stopped cold. I was right, it had no eyes. But it seemed to sense its surroundings and I could tell it sensed me. The driver still didn’t seem to notice it. The rain actually looked like it was passing through the worm. “Come on, please, he’s still alive!” I forced myself to move, as I kept an eye on the worm. Dropping down in the rain next to him, I saw the old man up close. He shouldn’t be alive. Now that I could see the worm up close it seemed to be focused on the old man. It was weird though. When I moved it responded and then refocused on the old man. “Oh my God! He’s not breathing.” The driver screamed into his phone and dropped it on the pavement. I scrambled back on the wet street as the old man gurgled his last. The worm stopped, right above him. It was about ten feet up, mouth pointed toward the old man. Waiting. Several things happened next. The old man got up without a scratch on him and the worm moved toward him. I opened my mouth to yell out a warning, but a sudden movement, and a shimmer of light caught my attention. And there he was. A guy dressed in all black wearing bright white converse hi-tops. He didn’t look much older than me. He had a scruffy smolder factor that was hard to describe. Could’ve been the all black garb and dark good looks. He reached for the old man and we locked eyes. I know he saw me because he started to say something when the giant worm lunged at him. He pulled the old man by the hand and they disappeared. The screech the worm made had me covering my ears as it circled one more time and blinked out of sight. My pants were soaked as I sat in the rain wondering what the hell I had just seen. The driver of the SUV seemed oblivious to it all. It didn’t take a genius to know I had seen something I probably shouldn’t have. The old man’s broken bloody body was still lying on the ground. It took me a moment or two to realize I needed to get the hell away from there. I ran back to my bag, snatched it up and headed down the street in the direction I knew my mom would be coming.

The SUV driver turned and frantically waved me over.

“What the hell...what the hell… what the hell…” I was still talking to myself when my mother pulled up.

For a second, everything was still. The only sound? The steady rain. It hadn’t eased at all. It didn’t care there was a broken old man lying in the street, probably dying. I wanted to do something, say something. But I was frozen. Before I knew it, the man driving the SUV jumped out and ran toward the broken old man. The scene was fascinating. Fascinating? After the initial revulsion I felt about the accident I witnessed, I realized what I was looking at didn’t bother me too much. What the heck is wrong with me? That’s when I saw it. A brilliant bright light behind the SUV grew brighter. I thought it was an ambulance but there was no sound, only a growing light and what came out of it scared the hell out of me. The dark worm thing was streaked with yellow and white and its mouth...I remember reading the book version of Return of the Jedi and one sentence always stood out, “a gaping maw”. That’s what I was looking at. In place of a mouth there was a gaping maw. It was circling around the old man, opening and closing its mouth. I couldn’t see any eyes. As it circled, I looked down at the SUV driver talking frantically on his cell and trying to check on the old man. I still hadn’t moved. I watched as the worm kept circling. Suspended in the air by I don’t know what. It was beyond strange. What was stranger still was that the SUV driver didn’t see it. Not at all.

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Uncaged Reviews Death & Desire Deborah Wilde Urban Fantasy

Angel of Death. Black market magic. When you’re Ashira Cohen, smart is the new kickass. When Ash is hired to solve her first murder, it seems like a perfectly normal, open-and-shut case of family feuds and bad blood. Until Ash discovers an evil magical artifact and her lead suspect is of the winged, white-robed, celestial variety. As if that weren’t bad enough, if she can’t find the perpetrator quickly, fourteen vials of lethal, ghostly magic will be sold to the highest bidder.

Uncaged Review: Ash is coming to terms with her Jezebel magic, and to being the Private Investigator she’s always dreamed of. When she gets a hold of a magical artifact during a case, it’s siren song is hard to resist. On top of all of that, her deal with the Queen of Hedon to get the vials of smudge back is becoming more and more twisted. This book has this story coming along nicely, and the romance between Ash and Levi continues to slowly climb in intensity. This author is known for her snarky bad-ass characters and Ashira is no shrinking violet, but the author doesn’t make the character over the top and hard to like, Ash is definitely a character that grabs hold of the reader. Along with the mish mash of a supporting cast, this series is one to cozy up to and be ready for a fun ride. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Shadows & Surrender Deborah Wilde Urban Fantasy Ash wanted a career filled with challenging mysteries.

She should have specified she didn’t mean her family. When a murder scene reveals a connection to Ash’s father who abandoned her when she was thirteen, she’s stunned. He may be the key to stopping Chariot from achieving immortality. The catch? He could be hiding anywhere in the world.

Uncaged Review: The third book in this series is definitely ramping up the storyline with some twists and turns that I did not expect. I think this is the best book in the series so far, but for the ending. I won’t give anything away, but the ending was uncool, and out of character. The world is coming into more clarity and the characters in this series are more and more defined in who they are. Levi and Ash are navigating their relationship while still finding their way professionally. This series should not be read as standalones as the reader wouldn’t get the full series arc and would probably be a bit lost. I would recommend starting at the beginning. If this book’s ending had been better, it would have been my favorite of the series so far. The action is non-stop and the snark and witty remarks is a lot of fun. Reviewed by Cyrene


Kiss of Fury Deborah Cooke Fantasy Romance

Ice Mermaid M.C. Frank YA Fantasy Fairytale

One act of passion can save the world…

“Darius.” It came out choking from his chapped lips, and his head jerked as he tried to look up into her face. “What now?” “‘S my name. Darius. Thank

Scientist Alexandra Madison was on the verge of unveiling an invention that would change the world. Then her partner was murdered, their lab was burned, and their prototype was destroyed. While Alex is in the hospital recovering from burns suffered in the fire, recurring dragonhaunted nightmares threaten to land her in the psychiatric ward, but she knows she has to escape to her lab to rebuild the Green Machine.

Uncaged Review: I decided to give the 2nd book in the series a try, and I did like it better than the first one. One of the things I do like about this series is the dragons along with their descriptions and the fact that they are in dragon form often, unlike other shifter books where the shifters are human 90% of the time. I also think the battles are well described and exciting. This book brings us the 2nd prophecy of Warrior and Wizard. Donovan is taken aback that his firestorm begins when he gets close to Alex, a human he needs to protect because of her huge contribution to the Earth and mankind, of a car that runs on salt water and is prophesized as the Wizard in the Pyr prophecy. I really enjoyed Donovan more than Alex, especially at first. I honestly can’t believe that Alex even survived the first part of the book, she should have been taken out by stupidity. All in all, the book was better than the first, but since I’ve read this book, the series has been pulled from KU, and for me personally, that probably ended my reading, they aren’t strong enough in the first two books of the series to keep going. Reviewed by Cyrene

you.” Of all the humans drowning around her, she had to be stuck with the one who bothered to mind his manners as he was dying. She bit back a laugh. Uncaged Review: A short story centered around one life that survives the sinking of the Titanic, and the mermaid that saves his life. Lorelei is an emotionless mermaid, that is driven to save one man, Darius – when he struggles trying to save her. Lorelei goes against the rules of her Kingdom, and saves Darius. This is a short story, so I can’t give much away, but there is plenty of good messages within this story. There are some grammatical errors, but easy enough to overlook. This book does not give you much detail of the world in which Lorelei comes from, just teasers. This is short and sweet, but not very riveting. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Uncaged Reviews Graveyard Rose Ginny Clyde YA/Paranormal

To Kill a Fae Jamie A. Waters Urban Fantasy

Stay out of the woods at nightAn easy rule for the people of Maldorfina, but not for seventeen-year-old Lenara Gerrickson. In fact, she’s been sneaking out on dark New Moon nights on her own secret missions. Handpicked by the beautiful vampiress, Annabelle, Lena carries on her family legacy to protect the people from the scourge of the nulan- the mindless undead creatures that plague the land.

The darkness holds more than just secrets... Marked for death, Sabine escaped from her home more than ten years ago. But the Wild Hunt will never give up. It should have been easy to stay hidden. All Sabine had to do was keep her head down, avoid telling anyone about her past, and above all else -- not let her glamour drop.

Uncaged Review: The first book in this series is more of an introduction to the characters and this world. Set as a historical, it’s a cleverly written world that is very original, but does lack depth that longer novels have. Lenara is a strong lead character and is a Guardian – an elite group of warriors that get rid of threats, especially of the paranormal type. On a mission gone bad, Lenara is rescued by a mysterious hunter, who cares for her wounds and heals her, but reveals little of himself. I have my own ideas of who he is, and even though we don’t meet the royal vampires in this book, I’m looking forward to the next book and to peel back more layers of this world. Reviewed by Cyrene

Uncaged Review: The first book in this series is one of those books that starts strong, and continues to get better as you read. Several secrets are revealed as you read – a few I guessed, a couple I didn’t. Sabine has been living in Akros for over 10 years, hiding from the people that want to destroy her, her own family. With two demons, a witch, a pixie, a beastmaster and a dragon shifter as her allies, she will need them all and their special abilities to get out alive.

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Sabine is a character that is powerful, but cares about the few people she’s let into her inner sanctum. There are many facets to this book, the brewing romance between her and Malek, the bonds between herself and the demons and Balkin, between herself and the witch and pixie and even the orphans and children. The action sequences are flashy and the main arc within this series has my interest. Looking forward to book two. Reviewed by Cyrene


By Blood and Magic Jamie A. Waters Urban Fantasy

A priceless treasure is hidden within the ocean’s depths... Sabine barely managed to escape from Akros with her life. But the ocean isn’t safe for someone whose power stems from the forests. When their ship is attacked on the high seas and one of Sabine’s companions is taken hostage, only an agreement forged by blood and magic may save her friend’s life.

Uncaged Review: In the second book in this series, Sabine and Malek are going after another of the artifacts needed to seal the portal between worlds and keep the dragons in their own world to prevent war. This time, their ship is attacked by Merfolk, and some of their crew is taken hostage. Only with Sabine’s negotiating a deal, can they save their people, including Esme and Levin. But they will need to find a Merfolk that went to land and was kidnapped – and bring her back alive to get their people back, and they don’t have long to do it. This series is so multi-faceted. As soon as you discover and get through one layer, another develops. This book is even more riveting than the first book in the series. Blossom, the resident Pixie is a hoot, and of the demons, I really like Bane – even though I didn’t care much for Dax in the first book. The relationship between Malek and Sabine continues to develop and we see more and more of Sabine’s past and her powers. This series is a fun set that is easily recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

It Came From the Multiplex Various Horror Anthology

Welcome to tonight’s feature presentation, brought to you by an unholy alliance of our spellcasters at Hex Publishers and movie-mages at the Colorado Festival of Horror. Please be advised that all emergency exits have been locked for this special nostalgia-curdled premiere of death. From crinkling celluloid to ferocious flesh—from the silver screen to your hammering heart—behold as a swarm of werewolves, serial killers, Satanists, Elder Gods, aliens, ghosts, and unclassifiable monsters are loosed upon your auditorium.

Uncaged Review: Pop up the corn, and kick back with this fun anthology that takes a swing (and maybe inspired?) at the campy 80’s horror movies. This selection of short stories all center around the movies, and even though I’m not a big fan of horror books, these were a lot of fun and creepy! A couple standouts are the first two stories, Alien Parasites from Outer Space and the 2nd story Return of the Alien Parasites from Outer Space which just continues the first story. An outdoor movie theater centered in a meteor crater, what could go wrong? And the very talented Kevin J. Anderson came in with Special Makeup. There was a couple that I wasn’t feeling, Negative Creep wasn’t really scary, just kind of gross, but Helluloid was a good haunt. So if you are a fan of the old midnight movies from the 80’s like Creature Features or Shock Theater with the low budget horror films we all stayed up late at night watching, then you will enjoy this set as it brings back that same feeling, and even if you weren’t a part of that strange time, if you like the campy horror flicks, you’ll enjoy this selection of stories. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Uncaged Reviews Song of Wishrock Harbor Krista Walsh Fantasy Gabriel Mulligan is a hardnosed P.I. with a smirk on his face and ice in his veins. Or at least that’s what he tells himself. Until a crimson-eyed woman walks into his life with a killer case and challenges everything he believes to be true.

Uncaged Review: The second book of this series focuses on Gabriel, half fae and half gorgon. Each book in the series focuses on one of the members that escaped a magical room together. They don’t come back as a whole per say, except for a couple, but as this series progresses they may come together at the end, it seems that way anyhow. Being part gorgon (yes, the Medusa type) has kept Gabriel as a loner most of his life, having to wear sunglasses all the time to keep from turning people to stone. I would have thought he could have gotten an eye patch – would have made more sense, since it was only one eye that was the problem. Working as pretty broke P.I., a fire elemental comes in to hire him to find out how her husband was murdered, since the police are getting anywhere. This is a pretty good book, although it slowed down too much in places, but it did stay interesting enough. I enjoyed this book, but I honestly think I liked book one better. The author does a good job twisting the story just enough that you have to rethink who you think the “bad guy” is from your original guesses. Reviewed by Cyrene

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How to Claim an Undead Soul Hailey Edwards New Adult Fantasy Life was simpler for Grier when she was flat broke and a social pariah. Now she’s carrying the baggage that goes along with the title of Dame Woolworth, and shouldering that weight is giving her a serious crick in the neck. Her work as a Haint is the one thing that makes her feel normal, but even that’s more paranormal than usual.

Uncaged Review: The second book in the series picks up not too long after the first one ends, and this one improved on the last book by leaps. The world building is better, but still needs tightening up. As for the characters, we learn more about Linus, and Amelie and Boaz, but I still really don’t care that much about either one of them. I’m not enthused about a romance between Boaz and Grier, they completely lack chemistry, but now Linus….here’s hoping. We get to learn more about Linus and a bit more background on Grier, but there are some twists in this one that may surprise you. The story arc tied up well, and the main series arc continues on. Grier keeps adding more characters to her group, and this time Oscar joins her, and another favorite of mine is now Cletus. Reviewed by Cyrene


How to Break an Undead Heart Hailey Edwards New Adult Fantasy Grier finally has the one thing she’s always wanted: Boaz Pritchard. Too bad her dream boyfriend is keeping her up nights, just not in a sweaty or fun way. Boaz has dialed down the Southern charm and stopped returning her calls. His job forces him to keep secrets, but his radio silence is cranking up her suspicions. He’s a shameless flirt, but he’s her shameless flirt…right?

Uncaged Review: After the first book in this series, I thought it had a lot of potential, so I was going to continue on with the series and see where it went. I’m not sure if that was a good decision or bad, depends on your outlook, but I am so ensnared in this series, that I am going to have to finish it before I get any peace. The third book is full of betrayal, secrets, and danger. We learn more about Grier and Linus, and the vampires have really upped their ante about kidnapping Grier. When Linus and Grier go to Atlanta, Grier is excited to see the university she hoped to one day attend, but of course nothing goes as planned in her life. There are a few new characters, and some of my favorites were back. Grier and Linus’ lives will be on the line more than once, and I’m hoping that Grier will come out stronger from the betrayals and secrets this book reveals. Hang on tight, this series is a fast paced addiction. Reviewed by Cyrene

How to Dance an Undead Waltz Hailey Edwards New Adult Fantasy Grier is nursing a broken heart after Boaz announced his engagement to another woman, but life goes on. Or it would if vampire assassins would stop taking pot shots at her every time she leaves Woolworth House. Seriously, who sends archers to deliver murdergrams these days? To protect herself, Grier must pull out all the stops, even if it means revealing her darkest secret. All eyes are on her, and—for the first time—she begins to understand why Linus wears so many masks. But the target isn’t Grier, and when the archers single him out, it feels like one of their arrows might have struck what remains of her heart.

Uncaged Review: This series is just so addicting, it’s hard to put it down. We can unpack this edition here first with the title. Grier is going to host her first Society Ball, and it will be in the Grand Dame’s ballroom. From the invitations, to inviting the master vampire without a name, to inviting family that could be enemies, every single detail has a reason. The author leaves nothing amiss. We find out more secrets, some that are make or break moments for Grier and Linus, and we see Grier coming into her own and begin to free and heal her broken heart. The growth in Grier is very visible, and the relationship between Linus and Grier really begins to develop. Boaz who? This series has plenty of action, suspense, danger and romance. The loyalty of the team surrounding Grier is finally settling in, and we finally get into that dang basement. There were a few “Oh wow, really?” moments along with a couple of “Oh damn” moments too. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Uncaged Reviews How to Live an Undead Lie Hailey Edwards Urban Fantasy When a fledgling vampire arrives at Woolworth House searching for his maker, Grier is forced to relive her time in Atramentous. Most of those years are as dark and empty in her memory as she was in her cell. She can’t remember her progeny, or the night she resuscitated him, but she can protect him from the Society. As long as she’s willing to barter with her grandfather to do it. Uncaged Review: Wow, the lies and deceit that comes out in this addition to the series is intense, and who would have thought in the grand scheme of everything that the Grand Dame would come out of this on top? And really, it’s great Grier has actually chosen her family, because the family she was born into really are horrible. Except Woolly. And Linus. And Keets. There is some coming to terms with her relationship with Boaz and Amelie, and Boaz wins back a couple brownie points for me in this book, but he’s not completely out of the dog house. The relationship of Grier and Linus moves up a notch and the author is able to weave in healthy amounts of romance into the danger, action and angst of the book, without tearing apart her main characters – something I’ve seen too many times. She makes them stronger, together. Huh, go figure. More twists and turns and the suspense and action keep this a page turner, and I’m losing sleep this week. Reviewed by Cyrene

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How to Wake an Undead City Hailey Edwards Urban Fantasy Savannah has fallen to the vampires, and it’s up to Grier to take out their leader, Gaspard Lacroix, and restore peace. Lacroix might be more powerful and immune to her magic, but she’s got a plan. Too bad it’s got holes big enough for a new threat to waltz through while the city is on her knees. Now Grier must risk her very soul if she hopes to slay her enemies and prevent her world from going up in flames. But salvation comes at a steep price, and she’s not the only one who will pay. The cost just might break her, and the man who owns her heart. Uncaged Review: The main arc of this series finally comes together with this addition, and many holes and mysteries are filled in, and some may have been guessed, and some definitely not. With Savannah on fire, and the vampires taking over, to restore peace, Grier, Linus and their group will need to take out Lacroix, an ancient vampire and Grier’s grandfather. But he is immune to Grier’s magic from a charm he wears. So they all come up with a dangerous plan. Most of the things are wrapped up nicely in this final book in the series. The friendship with Lethe and Hood, how Grier and Linus are going to work their romance when Linus is still tied to Atlanta, the culmination of the friendship journey that Grier has with Amelie and Boaz comes full circle. The author does a great job satisfying most of the plot – but there were a few loose ends (minor) that will be tied up in the novellas that have been released. I am happy with the ending, and look forward to the novellas for more with Linus and Grier. This is an addicting series and well worth the time. Reviewed by Cyrene


Blood Born Rayanne Haines Paranormal Romance The week before Olivia Dawson died, everything changed. Her little publishing house that could started pumping out best-sellers. A mysterious uncle passed away, leaving her a penthouse loft looking over Central Park. And her experimental cancer treatments finally seemed to be working. Who could’ve known that after her death life would literally suck.

Uncaged Review: Book 4 of the Guardian series gives us the story of Rhys and Olivia. Olivia is prophesized to be the Queen of the Vampires, by being a Vessel and born as half human, half vampire – and Rhys is the one who is protecting her. Owning a publishing company with her sister, Olivia has cancer and is trying her hardest to get her affairs in order for her younger sister, and little does she know, the trial that she’s in really has her being infused with synthetic blood and Rhys blood. It won’t cure the cancer, but it will help her stay alive a bit longer in her human life and mask her from other vampires. But all doesn’t go well, and she attacked by rogue vampires and left to die. Rhys gets to her and takes her home to watch over her while she turns to full vampire upon her human death. This is a fantastic addition to this series and we see a few of the characters from the past return, and honestly, it took me awhile to really like Olivia. I thought she was overly brash, but when she finally came to accept who and what she was, she became the strong leader she was meant to be. Betrayal, romance and some very fun dialog keeps this a true page turner. I had actually been a bit sad when this book ended, as I love this series. Keep writing Ms. Haines. Reviewed by Cyrene

Destiny of a Warrior Mary Morgan Fantasy Romance As leader of the Fenian Warriors, Aidan Kerrigan’s accolades are many and his loyalty to the Fae unwavering. When an unexpected mission sends him to the human world and a chance encounter with Rose MacLaren, he’s tempted for the first time in his existence to discard duty and claim what is forbidden.

Uncaged Review: It’s been a while since I’ve read about the Fenian Warriors and it was nice to return to their world. The author gives us Aidan and Rose’s story, and to do it, she takes us back in time when Aidan was still leader of the warriors. Aidan’s story is as intense as the man himself, and his love story is one for the ages. Aidan’s story could easily be read before the others – as things that happen in this book affect the other warriors, so even though it’s the 4th book in the series, it could easily be the first. Rose MacLaren is a strong, smart and beautiful heroine, well matched to Aidan. The author writes an intricate world, full of detail and you feel like you are standing in the Fae realm as she pulls you into this story along with her characters. It’s hard to forget these warriors, and if you haven’t read any of this series, then I really believe you are missing out. Highly recommended. Reviewed by Cyrene

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Discovery Jennifer Collins YA Paranormal Syney Andrews has secrets—she just doesn’t know she has them. She spent the last eighteen years in the human realm with her adoptive parents unaware of her real powers and role in Altera Realm. Altera Realm has been at war for well over a century and is connected to the Human Realm by a portal and no human knows it exists.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I am seriously in love with this series. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’ve fallen in love with the Altera Realm and its inhabitants. Obviously, some of them are assholes, which is true for any world, but overall I think the world Collins has built is unique and engaging in a way that I haven’t seen before. She has built a world full of beings so unique from each other in not only their personalities, but their abilities as well. I keep forgetting that this is a made up world. The characters are so human, yet we know they are not. They love and hate just as humans do. They are just a little bit different. They look like we do, but they have things they can do that we can’t. I was a little bit intimidated when I first opened this book. It’s a pretty heavy book and has a smaller font than I’m used to. It’s a long one. But once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. I just wanted to know what was going to happen next! This book made me feel a variety of emotions, and I really never expected to feel so many different emotions during this book. I enjoyed the stories of each character. I think

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Collins does a great job of giving the reader enough information about the characters at just the right time. She doesn’t tell you everything at once but allows you to learn about them as you would anyone else, a piece at a time. It gives a quality of mystery to each of them, while seeing them as real people with flaws at the same time. I do wish there was more about what was going on with Noelle and what her big secret is, but that is more about me being impatient than anything. The relationship between Hunter and Syney made me so mad! There is a ton of animosity between the races and a definite division of classes and race in this book. I wasn’t mad that they were together, I was mad about the way it was going. Gabe the Vampire is a character that drove me crazy! He was snarky and annoying at times, but you could tell he had Syney’s best interests at heart. I wanted to know so much more about him than we are told in the first book, but never fear, we do find out more about him in the second book. As I said before, I love this book. It was easy to follow and definitely kept my attention. It got me wrapped up in the story of this whole other world and its people. It reminded me that sometimes you can make changes in your life with little things, and sometimes, just because things have been a certain way for a long time, doesn’t mean they can’t change. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a nice, meaty story with engaging characters, romantic angst, betrayal and drama. If you aren’t really into paranormal but don’t mind it in small doses, this is good for you. It has a little bit of everything. The four races are Magic Users, Lycins, Shifters, and Vampires. The paranormal elements aren’t really in your face the way they are in some books.


The Mysterious Madam Morpho Delilah S. Dawson Fantasy Romance Taking place after Wicked As They Come, this original eBook features a mysterious lady and a reclusive mechanical genius who find love and danger in a traveling circus. An elusive woman arrives at Criminy’s doorstep with a steamer trunk, begging for a position in the caravan to perform her unique new act. She opens her trunk to reveal a menagerie of brilliantly colored butterflies. The woman, who calls herself Madam Morpho, is on the run from a dark past in London, where she was forced to leave her equipment behind and abscond with only her tiny performers.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: I loved this story. Normally, I am not a fan of short stories. I always feel like either I’m missing something or that there is so much more to tell. I did not feel that way this time. I never knew I could become so excited to read about a fictional world until now. It starts out with Madam Morpho on the steps to Criminy’s trailer requesting (pleading) for a job. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she is forced to leave London, and finds herself in need of a place to stay (hide). She carries with her a butterfly circus. The reader is lead to believe that Butterflies are now extinct. In order for her to perform her act, she must gain assistance in the construction of her circus from the Mysterious Mr. Murdoch, a reclusive artificer. This story follows Imogen (Morpho) through the building and subsequent performance of her butterfly circus.

Imogen is very clearly hiding a very big secret. She tells the tale of her life in the city to be one that truly sucks. The women of Sang are certainly underappreciated, but Imogen’s story is even worse than under appreciation. You feel so sorry for her, and at the same time, you are so happy that she was able to escape the horrible life she had led up until that point. You want her to have her happy ending. The fact that she can be as strong willed as she is is amazing to me because I would have just curled up into a ball and cried if I had to go through what she did. She is a very strong woman indeed. As her story and what she is hiding unfolds, I found myself anxious to find out the truth. I honestly thought her secret was going to be worse than it was, but it was still a pretty serious problem. I enjoyed the progress of her relationship with Murdoch, but I did want to kick him at one point for being an asshat. This story could have easily turned into a story more about him, but Ms. Dawson does a good job of keeping us focused on the main character. Delilah S. Dawson does such a great job in building the world of Sang. I often have trouble picturing certain environments in books I read, but I have found that I have no such problem here. I can picture every detail of the circus, from the clockwork animals, to the bludbadgers (who knew a group was called a cete or clan?) to the beautiful costumes designed by Master Antonin Scabrous. Her descriptions of the world around are beautiful even though they are sometimes filled with darkness.

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Fang-Freakin-Tastic Reviews Sleep Think Die S.P. Oldham Dystopian Picture this: you’re sitting in a bar minding your own business, having a quiet drink or two, when trouble steps in off the street. A shambling wreck stumbles over the threshold, bloodied clothes torn, muttering incoherently. Just another idiot who doesn’t know when enough is too much. You raise your glass, take another slug. It’s okay, security can handle it. But then over by the juke box a woman screams, a man swears loudly. You look up to see the barman drop the pint he’s pouring and back off, pale and shivering. Maybe you should turn around and take a closer look…

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Sleep, Think, Die felt like a different zombie book than I usually read. I can’t quite put my finger on what it was that was different, but it definitely had a different feel to it. In some ways, it felt a little darker, I would say. I can’t actually think of anything bad to say about this book as it kept my attention, provided realistic levels of gore, had unique elements, and plenty of action. Pretty much everything I need it a good zombie book aside from humor. In some zombie books, the reader is given just a small sense of hope while reading. Like maybe things will work out for these characters. But in Sleep, Think, Die, I don’t think I had that feeling. One of the very first things that happens is that you see some of the zombies evolving. And we all know zombies that evolve is never a good thing. It makes them better hunters, and that’s the last thing you want when you are their prey. The idea of zombies

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who can think is pretty terrifying if you ask me. This book has tons of action. Which, if you think about it, makes sense. I doubt there would be much downtime during the zombie apocalypse. I enjoyed the level of gore as well. Some authors either go way overboard to making it seem like they’re just trying to gross you out or don’t do enough. Neither of those seems realistic if this story were actually non-fiction, so I think the author did a good job of finding that realistic balance while not overdoing it. For a good portion of the book, the reader is left wondering what is up with the group of people the main character has joined up with. I couldn’t quite figure out if they were good or bad. I thought the name situation was a good idea. I liked that I wasn’t able to figure it out because that gave me something else to think about as I was reading. Another thing I liked was that at some point, we find out what kick started this whole mess. Very few zombie books give that info, and while I can appreciate keeping the reader guessing, after a while it starts to feel like the author just didn’t know or hadn’t come up with something that would work which felt unique enough. Overall, I really liked this book and look forward to reading the next in the series. I’m really interested in seeing what else this author has to offer.


The Monsters in Your Neighborhood Jesse Petersen Humorous Fiction

As one of Frankenstein’s Creatures, Natalie Gray knows that unique parts sometimes make up a great whole. Still, leading a diverse support group for monsters—now including Cthulhu!—isn’t an easy task. Especially not since the internet arrived. New York City embraces the different and the bizarre. Still, even for such a fun-loving city, the supernatural and monstrous might be a bit too much. It’s been six months since the members of “Club Monstrosity” overcame the most recent spate of anti-monster violence and they’ve reestablished their routine of meeting in a church basement once a week to (ugh!) talk about their feelings. Still, they also know a war against them is brewing.

Fang-Freakin-Tastic Review: Monsters in Your

Neighborhood is the 2nd book in Jesse Petersen’s Club Monstrosity series. It follows the lives of several “monsters” from literary history as they find ways to function in daily modern life and avoid bringing unwanted attention to themselves. When I requested this book from Netgalley, I didn’t realize it was the second in the series. That being said, at no point did I feel like I had to go back and read the first book in order to understand what was going on. There are enough clues throughout the book to keep you from getting lost.

support group for other monsters which includes her boyfriend the werewolf, a vampire, a swamp lizard, a couple of mummies, and now a Cthulhu. They live in New York City and are all just trying to get by and live their lives. When an unknown monster shows up on an internet video, ripping apart an innocent human, things start to get dangerous. Between trying to find the rogue monster, and trying to avoid the Van Helsings, these monsters are doing anything but staying safe and sound inside their homes. They are joined by Igor, who has become a flamboyant, interior designloving character who offers a whole different kind of humor to the situation. Natalie is a very strong character. She is just trying to be a normal girl, scars, and all. She wants a normal life with a normal boyfriend and wants to prove to herself more than anyone else, I think, that she is not a monster. She is a very take-charge kind of character and I really liked that she was able to keep her cool throughout all of the craziness. There were actually 2 very strong female leads in this book, which is refreshing because you don’t see that all of the time. I think just about anyone can enjoy this book. It is pretty much straight paranormal, not really much romance other than this person is with that person kind of thing. It’s a cute book, and I’m pretty sure I will go back and read the first in the series even though I think I know, at least to some degree, what happened at the end.

I liked this book. It was easy to read and to follow. It was a quick read for me and I picked it out because I really liked Petersen’s other series, Living with the Dead. The first book of the Living with the Dead series is Married With Zombies. That series is really cool. Petersen’s writing is full of clever one-liners and awful, but entertaining situations. Natalie is the daughter of Dr. Frankenstein. She runs a

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews Where Bodies Lie D.K. Greene Psychological Thriller Peter Wilson is exactly who he wants to be. He has the career of his dreams, a beautiful woman at his side, and a lifetime of opportunity ahead of him. More than twenty years ago, Oliver “The Godless Killer” Roberts was found guilty of a killing spree that spanned decades. Their worlds collide when Inspector Douglas arrives on Peter’s doorstep with a message... Amy’s Review: Undeniably Thrilling! Greene pens an absolutely thrilling story in Where Bodies Lie. I have read amazing work from this author before, and I really enjoyed it. A serial killer, missing bodies, and one headstrong detective. I loved, just loved the thrills and even chills in this story. First, Greene has a way with story-showing, yes, story showing. This puts the reader right in the middle of the action, and suspense. This story takes your hand and just pulls you in until the end. No, there isn’t any escape for the reader! It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. This story is filled with intrigue and chills, and raw, dramatic characters. 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. The title drew me in, but the story made me stay. A definite page-turner, which makes you hang on every word!

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Barking Mad Ted Tayler Noir Crime Mark Malone’s BMW had tinted windows, a lowered suspension, and a loud car stereo. He drove it at speed along the Beckhampton straight late at night back in 2015. That wasn’t unusual. It was hard to resist speeding on that stretch of road. Hundreds of drivers got caught speeding there every year in the old days. Several died in high-speed accidents. Amy’s Review: The title just drew me in! Tayler pens another magnificent read in Barking Mad, as part of his Freeman Files series. I like Gus, there is just something about the way he is that is interesting. He works well with his team, and each of their cases are very interesting. I was definitely intrigued by this story. This story was filled with ups and downs, and the team faces a lot of questions while trying to figure out the death of Mark Malone. 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. An enjoyable journey. 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.


Childhood on Fire Talisha Hunter Survival Biography “The author’s head-on collisions with gritty life circumstances will captivate you and have you sitting on the edge of your seat, rooting and cheering for our heroine as she takes you on a spiritual journey that begins in childhood, wends its way through her troubling adolescence, and finally offers you a close-up look at her spiritually mature and dedicated adult existence.social outcast? Amy’s Review: Grand memoir Hunter pens a grand memoir in Childhood on Fire: My Journey from the Hell of Baltimore to High Water. This is the first book of this author’s that I’ve read. The title draws the reader in, and the story, a true story of the author’s childhood, keeps the reader connected to the story. The story is heart filling and heartbreaking, but the narrator shows how she endured what obstacles came into her path, and how to overcome them. The story starts out with “She wants nothing more than to give love and to be loved unconditionally.” Life can be inspiring, even with failures as well as successes, and this story is a good read to understand that other’s life isn’t easy, so it is relatable, and gives the reader something to strive for.

The Gifts of Life Oliver Smuhar Children’s Folk Tales A multi-award winning debut akin to The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Deltora Quest, creating a modern fantasy adventure fuelled by survival with a new twist on extraordinary powers. What are The Gifts of Life? Inside this book hides a magical world that is celebrating something special! It’s that time of year where every major city gathers for another Ascension Day. But this year it’s different. Amy’s Review: Fantastical story Smuhar pens a grand story in The Gifts of Life. I haven’t read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this story. The characters were well-developed and very likable. The author’s writing style fits this story. There is a great chemistry between the characters, and a depth that makes them realistic and flawed. I’d say it’s a unique story, that is not just fantasy and for the young adult, but also for the young at heart. There is a magical tone to it, yet there is also inspiration and faith and beliefs of the characters. This story was definitely an enjoyable journey. This author’s characters develop and interacts well with the other characters. Smuhar writes, “So, what is the meaning of life? Well, in other words, what do you think it was?”

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Amy’s Bookshelf Reviews The Drop Jacy Morris Horror Suspense How many hearts can a song touch? How many ears can it reach? How many people can it kill? When popular boy band Whoa-Town releases their latest album, no one thinks anything of it. They certainly don’t think that the world will be changed forever. Amy’s Review: Magnificent Read! Morris pens a unique story in Drop. I haven’t read anything from this author before, and I really enjoyed this story. The characters were realistic and very entertaining. This author brings the story to life. An amazing story about the apocalypse, and yet, it was caused by something unexpected, a boy band. It’s an intense and creative story that grabs the reader from the beginnings. Morris writes well with multidimensional characters. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). A very well-written story, and I enjoyed it. Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. A definite attention grabber. The thrills and intrigue is written clearly and the characterizations are engrossing. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.

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The De-Coding of Jo Lali A. Love YA Fantasy Ever since the fatal night her mother was taken hostage by a homicidal maniac, sixteenyear-old Jo has been plagued by debilitating nightmares. As she tries to unravel her bleak reality while attending Forest Hill Academy, a preppy coed private school, Jo and her friends discover a mysterious gateway into a Black Hole. Amy’s Review: Magnificently Magical

Love pens a captivating story in The De-Coding of Jo: Hall of Ignorance. I have read other work from this author before, and I really enjoyed it, and this one is no different. It’s a wonderful mashup of spirituality mixed with fantasy and magic. Lali writes this story well, showing it rather than telling it. It’s a page-turner that brings Jo alive, and each character is perfectly flawed and very impactful. There is beauty in the way this story was written, and it was definitely unforgettable. The story is more than just a young adult story, it could and should be read by those young at heart as well. It’s not only inspiring, but relatable to the reader. The story brings in the believable, even if almost impossible. Lali writes, “This ancestry curse was spiritual bondage handed down from one generation to the next, fully exposing its ugly teeth of cruelty and abuse.” And that’s just the beginning. This book deserves a second read! (and maybe more). Magnificent story, kept this reader turning the pages. The title drew me in, but the story made me stay. 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. Lali paints a canvas with words, and lures in the reader, who will not be disappointed.


Love and Fear on the Santiago Path Gonçalo J. Nunes Dias Crime Thriller A book that will take your breath away A young man decides to do the Santiago Path alone. There he meets Valeria, a young Brazilian who, after a bad break-up, is eager to start a new life. The two meet each other, walk together and end up falling in love.

Amy’s Review: Surprising and unpredictable Dias pens a grand story in Love and Fear on the Santiago Path. I have read this author’s work before, and I really enjoyed them. The characters were unique and very interesting. The story lives up to its description, where it will give surprises to the reader. I liked this book, and could relate to the characters, which had different levels, making them believable. It’s a strong story, and some parts are spiritual and inspirational. The journey in this story is not just about the destination, but the path taken. It is always a joy to read this author’s stories. It’s a great story to follow and try to figure out what will happen next.

Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Cthulhu James G. Boswell Horror In this tale of mystery and cosmic horror, Sherlock Holmes finds himself kidnapped by his archrival, the evil crime lord, Professor James Moriarty. Seduced by promises of limitless power whispered into his ear in the dead of night, Moriarty intends to sacrifice Holmes and awaken Cthulhu, a malevolent entity of immeasurable power. Amy’s Review: Another great Holmes story Boswell pens a grand story in Sherlock Holmes and the Curse of Cthulhu. I have read work from this author before, and I really enjoyed it. Boswell brings the Holmes story to an all new level, and even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would be proud. I think this is the best one yet, and I was totally engrossed in the story, and chemistry between nemeses, Holmes and Moriarty. The curse lingers, and brings an almost majestical and kinship quality to the story. Infinite power and loyalty, as well as betrayal bring this story and the characters to life. 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 Boswell.

Issue 51 | October 2020 |

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