Toi Reads “We Are Jardin” #wip #sample #fantasy

For anyone interested, I’m updating the free short story that comes with my email list sign-up. I’m offering a story that’s only been offered previously in an sci-fi anthology; you can have Clepher’s Heart free when you join my email list.

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The Conduit by @Rourkewrites Tour by @Storytime4Ever #Review #thetoiboxofwords

The Conduit Tour BannerTitle: The Conduit
Author: Stacey Rourke
Pages: 212 on Amazon Kindle
Price: Perma Free
Genre: YA / Paranormal

Available Now

Amazon | Nook ibooks Kobo | Smash

BLURB: Gryphon Series Book 1

All 18-year-old Celeste Garrett wants is The Conduit Coverto head off to college and make those fun, yet ill-advised, choices college kids are known for. And maybe to spend some time with the hot cameraman she just met. Instead, because of a pact her ancestors made in the 17th century with a mythical creature, she has to save the world.

While normal kids are slamming energy drinks and cramming for exams, Celeste will get her adrenaline rush fighting a fire breathing dragon. She wants to meet friends in the quad to exchange lecture notes, but first she must exchange blows with a shapeshifting demon on the rooftop. Life isn’t always fair for a superhero, but at least she doesn’t have to do it alone. With her brother and sister as sidekicks, they alternate between saving lives and getting on each others’ nerves. Together the trio encounters unspeakable odds, mystical forces and comes face-to-face with an image that will haunt them forever—their grandmother in a leopard print bikini.

“Okay, little side note here. If a psychopathic killer asks if you want to see a trick, say no. That’s the smart thing to do. I, on the other hand, responded, ‘Bring it’.”

EXCERPT

The gas station door chimed and Gabe came out. His arms overflowed with chips, beef jerky, and a two liter of pop.
I gaped at him in slack-jawed astonishment. “What are you doing?”
“What?” he asked. “It’s a long drive, so I got snacks.”
“We’re not going on a road trip to an amusement park! We’re facing the forces of darkness, remember?”
“Yeah, so? I’m hungry,” he shrugged. “It’s like before my games, there’s no point in getting my game face on until I get there. In the meantime—road trip!”
“I bet Robin never made Batman stop for chips,” I muttered under my breath as I returned the nozzle to its resting place on the pump. I turned back toward the truck and saw a spiky blonde head bop around the side of the building. “Kendall! You’re supposed to be halfway to Memphis by now!”
She threw her hands up. “I’m going; I’m going! I just had to stop to pee. It’s a long flight.”
I squeezed the bridge of my nose between my fingers and shook my head. We had to be the lousiest warriors ever.
Gabe rolled down my driver’s side window and leaned out. “What are you waiting on? We goin’ or what?”
Batman had it easy. He was an only child.

My rating:5 of 5 stars

The Conduit (Gryphon, #1)As dysfunctional families go, the Garrets are actually doing pretty well considering the Garret kids, now teenagers and young adults, have been displaced from their home and are now living with their retro grandmother, as their mother stays behind to pick up the pieces after the death of her husband and their father. Even with that consideration, Celeste is a pretty good big sister, Kendal is almost the perfect little sister who just happens to be beautiful, and Gabe could be a lot worse, seeing as he’s the middle child and the only boy. But then one day the evil Barnabus decides to exact a century’s old revenge and the Garret kids receive an inheritance they’d rather leave to the dogs. With superpowers, shape shifting, and young adult hormonal disillusionment, The Conduit is a fascinating, thrilling, and at times, hilarious read.

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this book, but I’d heard good things about it. I knew it was a YA fantasy series, but that was about it. I also knew I loved the artwork of the Gryphon on the cover of the book, but sadly, that cover has been discontinued…at least I like the new cover and the series’ covers match now.

From beginning to end, The Conduit was an exciting read. Even when the author had to slow down to explain something, the characters are so neurotic that the explanations come off as action packed. The only time the action slowed down was when the sarcastic humor of the author spilled out through her characters offering abundant laughter. There were a few touching moments in the story, but they were so perfectly paced that the flow of the story was a constant wave moving forward towards the end. Not that this book was terribly long, but it also wasn’t that short. I enjoyed reading this book so much, I finished it much quicker that I had expected.

When I purchased the Conduit, I thought I was just testing out this new author and had no intention of reading further, but halfway through this one, I bought the sequel and can’t wait the get the next one after that. I’m not an avid reader of YA fantasy and tend to toe the line when it comes to liking it, but this book is great.

Younger children may not get some of the references, but if this were a movie I’d give it a PG-13 rating; it’s good for the whole family, dad may not be interested…at first.

View all my reviews

AUTHOR BIO

Stacey Rourke Author PhotoRONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012 Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 Readers’ Favorite Silver Medal Winner for Crane 2015

Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head.

Find Stacey: Website Fan Club Facebook 

Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Shadows Collide by @ReadDanLevinson Virtual Book Tour Excerpt by @RABTBookTours #sci-fi

Title: Shadows Collide
Series: The PSIONIC Earth Book 2
Author: Dan Levinson
Genre: Sci-fi, Fantasy
Date Published: September 15, 201

Blurb
The Orion Psi Corps is in shambles, the dead still being counted. And though Orion’s retaliation has begun, Calchis isn’t finished yet.

New Axom City—that’s where Nyne Allen has taken refuge in the wake of his desertion from Orion. Soon it will become a battlefield, as familiar faces from both sides barrel toward a collision that will forever alter the course of history.

Meanwhile, in the Far East, Aaron Waverly learns the truth behind the red-robed man, and discovers a destiny that might one day spell the end of the world itself.

Excerpt
The air was on fire.

As the blaze embraced her, she raised her hands, shielded her eyes; the billows of flame engulfed her as she screamed her defiance. The world blinked shut, like an eye closing, and when it opened once more, she saw faces, murmuring alarm. She tried to tell them they should leave her be, let her die in peace, her body still ablaze as if subsumed in the inferno. Yet before she could speak, wings of darkness enveloped her, carried her into oblivion.

When she surfaced again, she saw glaring lights.

She lay upon a gurney, moving swiftly through florescent-lit halls, the acrid stench of burned hair like a halo around her. Again, faces peered at her, their voices a low babble, distorted, as if through a tunnel. When a sudden movement jarred her, she howled, her vocal cords raw, like pulverized meat. Even the air rushing by tormented her.

What had happened?

She glanced about, eyes rolling, unable to move her head. A sign loomed above: Burn Ward. Another jolt shook her, and an animal sound escaped her throat as she lapsed again into unconsciousness.

She awoke in a white, sterile room, and for a moment thought she was somewhere familiar. But the hospital room was only an echo of a place she couldn’t quite recall, the memory slipping from her like sand through a sieve. She shifted in her bed, gasped, and only then looked down at her arms and hands, covered in bandages, the rest of her hidden beneath a thin, tan wool blanket. She could feel where those bandages compressed her flesh, chafed her raw throat, her belly, breasts, legs, and feet.

To her left, she saw a morphine drip, but could not reach it, the effort of moving her arm more than she could bear. She tried to cry for help, but now her voice came only in croaks and whimpers. She was trapped in her scorched body, no one to help her, while machines and monitors mocked her with ceaseless beeping.

A male nurse walked by the room, peered through the door’s glass pane, and she met his eyes, silently begging him for aid. He ran off, and for those next interminable minutes, each second seemed to her a test of will simply to exist. An inner voice told her to be strong, that she could make it through this, and she clung to it, the vague notion that she could endure all that she had. Mentally, she counted, One, two, three, four, five, those numbers like a life raft, though she did not know why.

At last, the doctor arrived—an austere, dark-haired man in a white coat, his eyes gauging her behind silver-framed glasses. She could read the pity on his face. “My name is Dr. Shipley,” he said. “You’ve been involved in a very bad accident. I don’t mean to alarm you, but you’ve suffered third degree burns over sixty percent of your body. Do you understand?”

She tried to nod while her mind processed. An accident? Of course. How else could she have ended up like this?

“How’s the pain?” Shipley asked. “I can increase the painkillers if you—”

“Hurts,” she rasped, her voice like sandpaper.

Shipley adjusted the morphine. “Your esophagus is damaged, from inhaling superheated air. I’ll ask a couple more questions, but keep your answers to one or two words. After that, no talking. Okay?”

She nodded again as the painkillers entered her system, making her woozy.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

She opened her mouth to reply, then closed it, the answer elusive. The pain had so consumed her that, until now, she hadn’t realized the details of her life were whispers and shadows lurking in unseen corners of her mind. She couldn’t remember her name, nor the accident, nor anything else. She choked back a sob, the force of it stabbing at her injured body.

“You don’t know?” Shipley asked.

Feebly, she shook her head.

“Well,” Shipley said, “given the trauma you’ve been through, it’s not unheard of. Unfortunately, when you were found, you had no identification, and your hands are too badly burned for us to take fingerprints. But don’t worry. When you’ve had the chance to recover, I’m sure it’ll come back to you.” He offered her a reassuring smile.

She knew he was trying to comfort her, and so restrained the urge to tell him to go f— himself. Don’t worry too much? What kind of advice was that?

“Is the pain still bad?” he asked her. He fiddled with the drip again, and the room grew hazy, indistinct, before she could manage a word.

When she opened her eyes, the room was dark, all shapes indistinct save the colors on the monitor feeds. Burning, throbbing blanketed her. She rolled her head to the side, saw that the window shade lay slightly open, revealing the lights of an unfamiliar city—the greens and reds of traffic signals, the whites of far-off windows, the myriad colors of illuminated billboards. She had no idea where she was.

Despairing, she wept, and as the grief shuddered through her, it ignited her body anew, though she could do nothing to stem her tears. “Why?” she murmured. What sin had she committed that she was being punished so? “Why did this happen?” She didn’t care that she was not supposed to speak, for hearing her own voice reassured her; it was an anchor, even if it was a whisper.

And that was what she had become, she realized. A shadow of her former self.

A whisper.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author
Dan Levinson is a NY-based writer of speculative fiction. Trained as an actor at NYU’s Tisch School of Arts, he also writes for the stage and screen. He grew up immersing himself in fantastical worlds, and now creates them. In addition to the Psionic Earth series, he is also the author of the upcoming YA fantasy novel The Ace of Kings, first book of The Conjurer’s Cycle.

Contact

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Youthful Frights vs Adult Fears #WEPFF Challenge No. 2 featuring Dolls & Eternal Curse Series #amwriting #amreading #movie

Well, I’d like to start off by saying, Happy Birthday to Me! That’s right. I’m the big 3 5 today and not ashamed one bit. Reaching 35 years of age unscathed, non-committed, non-incarcerated, and non-impoverished is something to be happy and proud about. I am blessed to have lived another year, simply put.

Now let’s talk about childhood fears…

When I was a kid (and let’s be honest, even now sometimes) I collected stuffed animals and toys. I wasn’t much into dolls, but where my sister had Barbie I had G.I. Joe. I did, however, love teddy bears. One year for my sister’s birthday, my parents decided she could have a sleepover and pick out three movies to watch, and one could be something none G or PG as long as they approved it first. I still to this day don’t know how she got this movie passed them, but I think it had something to do with the title.

Now at that time, I was nine years old (turning 10 in four months) and my sister was turning 12. She picked this movie thinking it would be corny and not really scary. Ha. I was the only one out of her bunch of friends to actually finish watching it, which I still regret to this day. I wasn’t even supposed to be at the party, not that I wasn’t invited, but I wasn’t interested in all the girly stuff that happened before the movie watching began. In a rare instance of kindness, back then (she’s lovely now), my sister gathered me from my room to watch the movies because she knew how much I enjoyed films; even at that age I knew more trivia than all the adults around me.

So, what all this boils down to is that after watching the movie, I realized that I needed to find a place to sleep. My room was out of the question. Every toy and doll in that freakish scary movie was in my bedroom along with dozens more. I’m pretty sure I remember waking up in the bathroom tub to the sound of my mom yelling, “What did you do to your sister?”

I’ve watched this movie since and it’s not nearly as scary, but still very creepy … Who makes these movies!

ECGAfront-png

I find dreams to be nerve-wracking sometimes. When it’s a good dream you don’t want to wake up from it and when it’s a bad dream that’s all you want to do. I don’t throw around the word hate a lot, but I hate it when I’m having a bad dream and I can’t wake up from it, even though I know it’s not real. I can’t stand that sense of helplessness, of not being able to do anything about my situation. It’s like being mugged or trapped. That’s my adult fear and I used that idea to write the following passage. Not sure if I quite captured the sense of desperation I wanted.

Looking for general feedback here. Even though this piece has been published, the beauty of self-publishing is that I can update my work anytime I choose. 😉

~

     He looked down toward the ground and saw an attractive young woman carrying a large pail into a barn. Her skin was freckled and pale, and she had rosy cheeks. Her hair was long and straight, and it was black like the night. She seemed so familiar to him, but he didn’t know her. Giovanni watched as the young woman filled feeding troughs with water to be cleaned. As she reached for a scrubbing brush, Giovanni could see that someone or something was following her. He sensed that trouble was on the way. He tried to call out to her, but she could not hear him. His voice made no sound. Giovanni left the tree and swooped down to the ground to achieve a closer look.

     There he saw a creeping perpetrator bouncing from beam to beam in the rafters of the barn. Drool slipped from the monster’s mouth while it hovered over the unknowing young woman. Giovanni tried to fly up to see this fiendish stalker, but he couldn’t lift his feet off the ground, and his wings would not flap. Giovanni knew something bad would happen, he could feel it in his heart, but it seemed he could do nothing to stop it. He did not understand. Why was this happening? How could he appear to be so powerful, be so angelic, and not be able to help someone in need?

     Giovanni refused to give up his pursuit. He pushed his body forward and moved from door to door, and window to window, trying to get in to warn and protect the young woman. Looking through a window, Giovanni finally saw the villain’s full horror. He established a clear vision of the attacker as it leaped down from the ceiling toward the woman. It was the most hideous monster he’d ever seen, much worse than his own reflection.

     A twisted and mangled troll with charcoal for skin on a hairless body stalked about. It had empty holes carved out of its skull where eyes once were. There were two large dull spikes protruding from its hunched back, where it looked as though wings had been violently ripped from its body. Its hands were made of jagged bones held together with rotting ligaments, and its feet crackled as it moved along the floor.

     In the troll’s hands were two long golden rods that whipped back and forth almost like lassos. Each rod was attached to the end of a large iron spike that punched through the shoulders of a young man’s dying body. The rods held up the young man’s body as though he were a puppet being pulled by strings. To the young woman, however, the troll simply appeared as a shadowy figure lingering around the painfully disturbed and ailing young man moving toward her.

     The troll maneuvered the young man’s body around the girl for attack, delivering blow after blow.  The monster had taken over this young man’s body; it was using him as a weapon to attack this poor girl for what seemed to be the sheer enjoyment of it. It laughed a loud cackle as it threw the girl down to the ground, tearing her raggedy dress. Giovanni could see the girl’s anguish and could hear her screams. Throbbing empathetic pain consumed him in every place the girl was struck, but Giovanni could do nothing to stop it.

     Giovanni began to cry out, weeping and sobbing. He tried to look away and he tried to get away, but he couldn’t. That’s when it began to happen. He became consumed with anger and hatred. Giovanni’s body grew hot and began to sizzle. Smoke and steam began to rise up from his body as his wondrous glow began to fade and he became shrouded in darkness. Everything around him began to catch fire as he began morphing into anger. The smell of burning wood and flesh assaulted his tortured senses and Giovanni knew he was changing.

Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel 4th Ed. Copyright © 2015 Toinette Thomas

Since it’s my birthday and it’s the season of spooky, the EC: Giovanni’s Angel ebook will be on sale for 99₵ the next few days. Check it out if interested and be sure to visit other stops on this challenge hop.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

More More Time by @dseaburn Excerpt & #Giveaway by @RABTBookTours #fiction #time

Maxwell Ruth, a cantankerous, old high school history teacher falls down his basement stairs and soon thereafter starts hearing “The Words” over and over again— endingtimeendingtimeendingtime. His life is changed forever.

In this story we learn about the lives, loves, and losses of Max, Hargrove and Gwen Stinson, Beth and Bob Hazelwood, and Constance Young. They are lively, funny, at times; a little bit lost or wounded, yet resilient and hopeful.  They are wrestling with life’s most challenging issues, including, abuse, loss, infidelity, aging, secrecy and what gives life meaning. And, like all of us, they would like more, more time to find the answers to life’s most important questions. The clock, though, is always ticking and time is always short.

Excerpt

In the days after Maxwell Ruth fell down his basement stairs, he begins to hear something alarming. He decides to tell his best friend, Hargrove Stinson, even though Hargrove has gone through a similar problem when his wife, Gwen, started hearing things after their daughter, Sally, died.

“But something’s wrong.” Max grimaced, his eyes wide.

“Something’s wrong? What are you talking about?”

“Not long after I fell, I started hearing things.”

“What things?” Hargrove thought of Gwen. “Did you hear that?” she’d often say, fear in her eyes. His heart skipped a beat.

“I don’t know. It’s hard to explain. I don’t want you to think I’m…”

“What are you hearing, Max?” Hargrove’s words were more clipped than he had intended.

“It’s like, these words.”

“Someone talking?”

“No, nothing like that. It’s just this repetitive…” Max’s voice trailed off.

“A repetitive what?”

“You’ve been through enough of this…”

“Look, Max, tell me what’s going on.” Hargrove’s eyes didn’t move.

Max looked out the window again.

“Words. I’m hearing words. Woke me up after I got home from the hospital. Words slung together over and over again.” Max shrugged, his jaw went slack. “They go away. They come back. I don’t know what the hell it is.”

“Words, it sounds like words?”

Hargrove’s back stiffened. The hair on his neck prickled. “Listen. I hear her,” Gwen would say. “It’s Sally, I’m sure of it. She needs me.” He scrutinized Max’s face, looking for the terror, for the cold panic so familiar to Hargrove, but it wasn’t there.

“What did your doctor say? Did you tell him you’re hearing voices?”

“Jesus Christ, I’m not hearing voices!” Max threw the marker on the floor and walked to the window again. He wiped his face with his hand. Hargrove went to him and reached for his shoulder but then withdrew his hand.

“Okay, okay, you’re not hearing voices. You’re hearing words.”

“Yes, I’m hearing words.” Max turned around to face his friend.

“What words?”

“One word is ‘ending’ and the other word is ‘time.’” Max shrugged his shoulders.

“Time ending?” said Hargrove, his voice a monotone.

“When I hear it, it’s ‘ending time.’ And they run together like they’re a single word playing on a continuous loop: endingtimeendingtimeendingtime.” Max frowned and nodded his head to one side as he said this.

“That’s it?” Max shook his head. The corner of Hargrove’s mouth twitched slightly. “What did the doctor say?”

“Well,” said Max, looking at the floor. “I didn’t exactly tell him.”

“Jesus, Max.”

“Look, that’s all I need. A doctor thinking I’ve gone off the deep end.” Max paused. “I don’t need a friend thinking I’ve gone off the deep end either.”

“Of course not.” Hargrove cleared his throat. Max put his hand on his briefcase as if he were about to leave. “But, Jesus, Max, you should have told your doctor about this. I mean, maybe something can be done. Maybe if you had a CT or an MRI, they could find the cause. It has to be something.”

“Had those. Nothing’s wrong.”

Hargrove was quiet.

“You think I’m crazy, don’t you?” said Max.

Hargrove studied Max’s face, his full cheeks and wide eyes seeming almost childlike.

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Savant Books and Publications

About the Author

David B. Seaburn served a rural country parish, worked in community mental health, was an assistant professor of psychiatry and family medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center for twenty years, and also directed a free public school-based family counseling center before his retirement in 2010. He has written five novels: More More Time (2015), Chimney Bluffs (2012), Charlie No Face (2011—Finalist in General Fiction, National Indie Excellence Awards), Pumpkin Hill (2007), and Darkness is as Light (2005). He and his wife live near Rochester, NY. They have two adult daughters and two wonderful granddaughters.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter: @dseaburn | Blog

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords