Author Spotlight – Toi Thomas

Introducing Toi Thomas

I’ve been at this for about 10 years. I’ve entertained paranormal fans with my Eternal Curse series, an angels, demons, and others tale with a Christian world view. I stretch minds and imaginations with my short story collection, Legend of the Boy…, featuring works of science fiction, paranormal, fantasy, romance, and suspense. Glorie Townson, my pen name, brings along a bit of romance and comedy in the first book of my Sayings Series, It’s Like the Full Moon. I’ve even delved into the world of educational children’s books to enlighten and entertain little minds. Something for the whole family, here.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

A self-proclaimed techie and foodie, I was born in Texas, but consider Virginia, USA to be home. I enjoy reading, cooking, painting, geek culture, collecting vinyl records, and spending time with my family. Currently working as a special education teacher’s assistant while blogging and writing full-time, I find comfort and peace of mind in chocolate, green tea, and naps. My husband and I have been married for twelve years and share our home with a tortoise named Betty and a Redbone Coonhound named Margie, who’s sure to inspire future publications.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

I’m currently working on two different sequels, but the one that’s pulling me the most is for my Eternal Curse Series. When I first wrote Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel it was a pivotal moment in my life. I had no idea I was writing a book. I just thought I was piecing together remnants of a reoccurring dream so it would finally go away.
As I developed the story, I realized that I didn’t want it to end. I’d grown attached to the gray man, who later became Giovanni. Giovanni was a sad and secluded character, and it was my job to fill his world with purpose, wonder, and even a few companions. What I created, still to this day, blows my mind. I don’t think it’s the greatest story ever conceived, but the fact that it came from me, humbles me.
Giovanni’s story makes me laugh and cry and wonder; what if? By the time I finished the first draft, I realized it was a book and had finally decided to share it with a small few for feedback while starting a blog to help me plan out the developmental details. It was amazing to see Giovanni’s tale of literal and emotional transformation evolve and develop into the story it is now.

Who is your intended readership?

Most of my work is written for adults, but is suitable for teens. I write adult fiction, mostly in the speculative genres, which is why I took on the pen name, Glorie Townson, when I decided to delve into romantic comedy.  Recently, I allowed my day job to influence my writing by developing four educational children’s books. For those, I saw no need to take on another pen name; it’s simply an extension, another part of my writing spectrum.  Most of my promotion is split between catering to adult readers of speculative fiction or readers of contemporary or romantic fiction. The children’s books tend to be bonuses discovered by satisfied moms or dads.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I look back in retrospect, it’s clear that I’ve always been a writer. I’ve found old notebooks filled with stories, drawings, bad poetry, character ideas, and more. For me, though, writing was never something I considered as a career. I’ve also loved technology since I was a kid and got my degree in computers, even interning for a short time with N.A.S.A Langley. When I begin to crave a creative outlet beyond my amateurish paintings and baking from scratch, I began to develop a love of reading and writing that I’d let slip away from me.
When a reoccurring dream began to haunt my days with figments of a story that made no sense, I began to write it down until I had something to base a whole book on. Once I completed that story, I knew writing was the one thing missing from my life. I’ve never stopped since. I may not always pursue publication, but I will always write.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

This question requires two answers, sort of. When I look back at the many stories I read in my youth, before school work tainted my love of reading, there were so many authors who made me feel like I could do anything. There was one, however, who brought out my creativity. What would now be considered fanfiction, as a kid, I paid homage to J.M.Barrie with by writing my own tales of Neverland with me as one of the many lost boys. That story, at the time, made we want to create new worlds and characters.
As an adult, I’m influence by everything around me; of course, that includes what I read. I try not to take what I’m reading too seriously, unless it’s nonfiction. I’ve rekindled my love of reading simply for pleasure and try not to let my writer’s mind get in the way. At the moment, I’d say my favorite authors are Stacey Rourke, Marissa Mayer, Deborah Harkness, Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Tricia Drammeh.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

For a young or aspiring writer, I’d say it’s important to know why you are writing.  I think the why is one of the most overlooked, yet powerful, struggles a writer faces. Are you writing for pleasure? Are you writing for therapy or understanding? Are you writing for publication, just to put something out there? Are you writing for money? Are you writing for fame? The why will determine the course of action you take in your writing life. It will decide if or how much research and effort will go into the development of your work. It will decide if or how much time and or money will be spent on promotion, and so much more.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

I once wrote a short story about a gray cat who stalked me and my sister around the little town in Texas, where we lived at the time. Everyone thought it was a good and creepy story I wrote for the Halloween season, but in reality, it was a true story. Yes, there were some exaggerations, but it really happened.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I’m a geekgirl. I collect comic books and action figures (guess that makes me a bit of a collector too). I also collect vinyl records. I love the cinema and taking pictures of my family and my dog, Margie. I like to bake and cook, from scratch when I can, but it’s not required. I’ve been struggling to find the right balance between my faith and all my other interests, and since I’m still seeking, I feel like I’m on the right path (I don’t feel lost and I haven’t given up).

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I have a ridiculously long list of WIPs at the moment. Because of this, I’m taking a year off from attending major live events and am scaling back on my blogging. Aside from the sequels in the works for the Eternal Curse Series and my Saying Series, I have a new fantasy I hope to release soon. It’s set in a world were magic is tied to the land and should be used, but is being suppressed. A garden hidden in a library and an unknowing young mage are about to change this world forever.

Eternal Curse: Giovanni’s Angel


“You have plenty of time to change your mind. You have not yet seen the monster I can be.”
Giovanni has been waiting his whole life to meet someone like Mira, someone from the outside world who might be able to help him. He wonders if there really is help for him as he continues to hold tightly onto dark secrets and even darker memories. Giovanni wants to be hopeful and he wants to accept Mira’s help, but first he has to look himself in the mirror and face what he truly is- and that is a reality no one is quite ready to accept.
Searching for new purpose and meaning in her life, Mira meets Giovanni online and an exciting and, in some ways, scary friendship is developed. Mira decides one day to meet Giovanni in person, at his secluded country home, in order to aid him on his journey of self-discovery. What these two are able to discover will not only test their strength and will, but it will stretch the limits of their minds and catapult them into a world where earth, Heaven, and Hell collide.
Giovanni’s Angel is the story of a man who may just be the answer to a spiritual war swiftly heading his way- but for now, he just wants to be a man.

Buy Now: Paperback, E-Book

Author Pages:

Amazon

Where to find Toi Thomas:

Website & Blog (The ToiBox of Words), Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook

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Book Spotlight – “Mating Two Dragons” by Ariel Marie

Book Blurb

Dragons must bond with their fated mates or risk the Dragon Curse…

The talons of the Dragon Curse are upon three dragon shifters who have scoured the Earth’s surface in search of their fated mates. Each dragon longs to find the other two-thirds of their heart. Only in a triad will a dragon shifter feel complete.

Serni, Raven, and Colton are desperate to find their mates because they know without a mate, their dragons will succumb to the Dragon Curse. It becomes a race against time for them to find each other.

Fate steps in at the Mating Ball, an event where shifters can come to seek out their mates. After centuries of failed searches, it looks like the dragons may have a chance after all. But will they find each other and complete their triad before the Dragon Curse claims them?

WARNING: This book contains material for mature readers (18+ and older) only. This book contains steamy MFF, bisexual ménage paranormal romance.

 

Buy Your Copy Now! E-Book

From the Author

Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

Where To Find Ariel Marie

Twitter, Facebook, E-mail, Instagram, Website, Newsletter

Author Spotlight – Renee Scattergood

Introducing Renee Scattergood

Renee Scattergood, author of the dark fantasy serial, Shadow Stalker, lives in Australia with her husband and daughter. She loves reading, watching movies with her family, and doing crafts and science experiments with her daughter.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I live in Australia with my husband and daughter. I’m originally from the US, but I met my husband online and came out here for a visit. We were married three months later and I’ve never looked back.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Currently, I’m finish up my Shadow Stalker serial. It’s about a girl who is destined to enslave her world, but she is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen. Of course, sometimes there are some things we can’t control. Really it’s her struggle to create her own destiny. Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6) is available free in most online retailers for those interested in checking it out.

Who is your intended readership?

This is a hard one to answer. I guess dark speculative fiction is the best way to describe it since it has a mix: a dark fantasy with elements of science fiction and thriller. It’s been described as having futuristic technology in a primitive world. There are also some themes (such as torture), which may be uncomfortable for some readers. It’s recommended for mature young adult readers and up.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have always loved telling stories, but it never occurred to me to be a writer until I was in my mid-twenties. I was in college and my English instructor suggested I get some of my work published. Before that, I had always done badly in English, so writing wasn’t something I would have ever considered.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

I’m inspired by various people for different reasons. Terry Goodkind inspires me by getting me into a creative mood. J.K. Rowling inspired me with the way she maintained control of her work and didn’t sell out simply for a shot at glory. And there are many indie authors who inspire me every single day to keep doing what I’m doing.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Something I was told, and it’s turned out to be the best advice I’ve ever gotten, is to keep writing. If you finish your first book and it doesn’t sell well, keep writing. If your second doesn’t sell well, keep writing. And don’t keep yourself in a shell either. We live in an age where authors don’t have to be hermits. The internet gives us a limitless platform for connecting with our readers (and potential readers). So get yourself out there and let people see who you are as a person as well as an author!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

I really haven’t had much time for hobbies. I used to love doing crafts, but arthritis keeps me from that now, and I have an autistic daughter as well who keeps me busy. I love watching movies and reading though.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

Well, I am starting work on a new serial. It’s basically the shadow stalkers’ origin story. And I’m working on my first novel series as well. It’s called A God’s Deception. I’m still working out the details of the story still, but I think the title tells a lot. 🙂

Shadow Stalker Part 1 (Episodes 1 – 6)


Auren learns she is destined to enslave the people of her world, and Drevin, emperor of the Galvadi Empire is determined to end her life before it happens. Her foster father, Kado, has sworn to protect her and trains her as a shadow stalker. But her training is cut short, when their people are overrun by the Galvadi Empire. Now she has to find a way to help her people without succumbing to the prophecy.

Buy Now: E-Book

Author Pages:

Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords

Where to find Renee Scattergood:

Website (Renee Writes), Twitter, Pinterest, Blog (Renee Writes), Facebook

Event Spotlight – 4th Annual Brain To Books CyCon

Introduction To The Brain To Books CyberConvention

CyCon is a virtual version of the San Diego Comic Con, but our theme is books. We organize a number of events, celebrating every genre, reader, and undiscovered author out there, and we host dozens of events all crammed into three days. To experience CyCon is a lot like attending a State Fair, only CyCon is 100% online. There is simply so much to do that it’s impossible to do it all in one day and there is something for everyone.

For three days, Brain to Books shines the spotlight on authors not seen in bookstores as a means to welcome in the new season of book releases. Working to increase reader awareness to these hidden treasures, authors, publishers, and retailers are coming together world wide for the largest book event designed just for you, the book lover!

We’re giving away books, presenting readers with never-seen-before content, and featuring the world’s largest collection of undiscovered talent available today. We have blog hops, panels, discussions, contests, games, prizes, story time, book readings, sales, and exclusive content only available for these three days.

This is content you won’t find anywhere else!

#B2BCyCon spans the world, is free to attend, and boasts everything a live book convention has without the expense of travel, food, and lodging, making this the fastest growing convention available today.

What is the B2BCyCon?

The Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo—or B2BCyCon for short—is an online event modeled in the likeness of a State Fair and a comic book convention.

Authors have virtual tables or “booths” just like at a real fair where readers can go and browse the selection.

But unlike other events, the B2BCyCon is not just an event on Goodreads. It not just an event on Facebook. The Convention is a single three-day event stretched across all the internet world wide. We are on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, more than three dozen websites, and http://www.b2bcycon.com. We are on blab, Google Hangouts, podcasts, the radio…

We are in Greece, Japan, Australia, Bristol, New York, California, Alaska, Hawaii, South Africa, Jamaica, Israel, and India!

If you found us through Goodreads, you found only a small branch of the Convention.

If you found us through word of mouth, you only saw a sliver. With 160 in our first year, we quickly grew to 800 in our second year. Our third year projected an attendance of more than 2,000.

We are the event for book lovers.

Some Highlights From The 2017 Event

The first Brain To Books Anthology was released:

Brain to Books presented its first anthology, “Book Dreams (Volume #1). Here we present a collection of short stories and poems featured in the 2017 Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo.

Authors included Ani H. Manjikian, Adam Dreece, W.J. Howard, Toi Thomas, Timothy Bateson, Laura McHale Holl…

A ton of events happened across multiple genres:

Take a look at the list of genres we covered, and then click through to see everything that happened in each genre. There are just too many things to list in a short blog post…

And Here’s Your Invitation To Participate in 2018

Brain to Books is inviting readers from across the globe to join us again, for the 2018 Brain to Books Cyber Convention and Book Expo.

Benefits of an online expo include:

  • No travelling
  • No costs to readers
  • The chance to discover some amazing indie authors, and books that you won’t be able to put down

Mark Your Calendars For:

April 6th-8th 2018

And Join In One Of The Most Exciting Online Events Ever!

Black Cats On All Hallows Eve by Suzanna J. Linton

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about Christmas. I’m referring to Halloween! I adore everything about this holiday, from the costumes to the food, from the horror movies to the crunch of brown leaves under the feet of trick-or-treating children.

In late September, while driving to a friend’s home, I passed a house already decked out with grinning pumpkins: fake, real, large wooden cutouts, and hanging signs. It reminded me of the other common theme in Halloween decorations—black cats.

In the States, black cats are often associated with darkness, evil, and witchcraft. In fact, so deeply ingrained is this stereotype that many people believe black cats adopted in October will be used for ritual sacrifice or abuse.

Shelters like the Kentucky Humane Society are inundated annually with well-meaning animal lovers begging the shelter not to adopt out these coal-colored felines for their own good. In reality, there is no statistical evidence to support this urban legend. Also, black cats take longer to be adopted. Humane societies often use the Halloween season to push any such cats they may have.

Black Cats as Disguise

Black cats didn’t receive suspicion until the Middle Ages, when people came to believe they were witch’s familiars. In 14th century France, a group of witches were accused of worshiping Satan in the form of a large, black cat. Two hundred years later, people believed witches changed themselves into black cats.

In one English folktale, a man and his son, while walking home one evening, saw a large black cat. The son feared it was a witch’s familiar and threw a rock at it. The stone struck the cat in the left leg. The cat screeched and ran under the stoop of a house belonging to a woman long thought to be a witch. The next day, the pair met the old woman at market. She limped on her left leg, confirming to the local villagers that she was, in fact, a witch.

This shape-shifting ability carried over to the New World. During the Salem Witch Trials, everyone believed in the superstition and it no doubt played a part in the proceedings. The belief traveled from puritanical New England to the South, where people spread folktales about both witches and demons disguising themselves as black cats. A funny but spooky folktale called “Wait Until Emmet Comes” is one such example.

Superstitions Today

In modern England and Scotland, black cats are good omens. Finding a strange black cat on your front porch indicates coming prosperity. In the midlands of England, a black cat is considered a good wedding gift to a new bride! On the coast of Yorkshire, the wives of fishermen believe that by keeping a black cat, their husbands will come home safely. A black cat walking toward you is a sign of good fortune while a cat walking away means fortune will leave you.

In the United States, it’s still considered unlucky for your path to be crossed by a black cat and there remains an association of black cats and witchcraft.

Your Pet and Halloween

Because I’m an animal lover, I feel like I should slip in a “public service announcement” regarding pets and Halloween. As cited above, there is no data to indicate black cats are more likely to be killed, mutilated, or abused over this holiday. However, that doesn’t mean owners of both cats and dogs shouldn’t be vigilant.

When trick-or-treaters come to the door and you’re busy giving away Snickers bars, it would be easy for a pet to slip out. Always be sure to keep your pet secured so that Mr. Fluffy doesn’t bolt for freedom.

Also, chocolate is toxic to dogs, so make sure Bruno doesn’t get too interested in the goody bowl. In fact, be sure that your pet doesn’t become interested in any of the candy or Halloween decorations. Your vet should be able to give you a list of foods and items that are a danger to your four-legged companion.

Have a happy Halloween! And if you see a black cat, wish for luck.

Introducing Suzanna J. Linton

Suzanna J. Linton is fantasy and urban fantasy writer. She grew up in the swamps of South Carolina, where she learned the love of books at her mother’s knee. From an early age, she enjoyed scribbling in anything and telling stories about her imaginary friends. Now grown up, Suzanna continues to love scribbling and telling stories. She lives in Florence with her husband and their pets. Her first novel, “Clara” was published in 2013. Learn more about her and her books at her website.

Where to find A.L. Mabry:

Website (Suzanna J Linton), Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Blog (Suzanna J Linton), Facebook

Storytime: “Shade’s Shadow” by Assaph Mehr

I should not have been out that night.

I knew better, or at least I should have.

There are three unlucky nights in the year. Three nights where the stone slabs over the mundus cerialis stood open. An ancient tradition, whose reasons were forgotten but its ritual strictly adhered to, dictated that the stone doors to this hemispherical pit located in a declivity near the temple of Ceres be opened on three nights — even though they represented the gates to the underworld.

A night with the doors to Dis wide open.

A night with — according to custom — the shades of the dead free to roam about.

A biting November wind was chilling me to the bones. I was limping home from a rather nasty assignment, involving some of society’s undesirables, an orphan, an enchanted signet ring, and several pig carcasses. I wasn’t planning for it to go that way or for that long, but it did — and now I had to make my way home across the deserted city. The cruelest master would not risk slaves out on this night. Even stray dogs slunk away to their hiding holes, and the sliver of moon hid behind grey clouds.

I made my way home as quickly as I could in my battered condition.

I took shortcuts.

I made a wrong turn.

I faced a blank wall at the end of an alley, and had to turn back. At the opening of the alley, silhouetted against the sky, was a half-translucent grey shape. It advanced upon me, and I retreated the few steps I could. It advanced further, closer, closer.

I started to mutter prayers to all the numina I could think of, promising offerings if I lived to see the morning.

It stopped three paces away from me.

It raised its grey arm.

It reached with its grey hand to its grey mouth, and pulled out the coin that tradition dictated should be used to pay the ferryman to Dis.

“Payment,” it croaked, and reached out its hand with the coin towards me.

I stared at it, dumbstruck. The night was clear of clouds, and the stars twinkled above us. I could make out the shape of the shade. It was that of a woman, young, well dressed, high class — or at least wrapped in a rich woman’s funeral shroud.

I found my voice at last. “To guide you back to the mundus?”

“No,” it croaked again. “Revenge.”

***

By noon, I had almost convinced myself it was a dream. Almost – because the coin was sitting on my table, the profile of a long dead consul showing his disdain at my vacillations.

I went over in my mind about the details. I tried to avoid exactly how it felt when the shade of the woman — Licinia — had imparted this information, and concentrated on the facts.

The time was about fifty years ago, well before I was born. Licinia was just married to a senator’s son, part of her father’s political alliances. According to her, marriage was a short, brutal, hell. It ended when her husband strangled her one night, during what would have been referred to as rape were they not married.

She wanted me to bring him to justice.

A fifty year old case, with nothing but the say so of a dead woman’s shade.

And to complicate things, I knew the man.

Not personally, no. But I knew of him.

Just like everyone else in Egretia, I knew him.

He was a famed rhone, former consul, and current censor. Doesn’t get more famous than that.

After fifty years, there was no way I could find evidence to tie him to her murder.

Neither could I bring him to court for it, because as paterfamilias he was within his rights to treat her as he liked. Even kill her.

Which apparently he did.

But that coin, and that voice, and the memory of those haunting, luminous eyes in the grey face…

***

I had two options. I could try to bring him to formal justice — on Licinia’s behalf or any other charges that might get him exiled or executed — or I could exact a more direct revenge. Public humiliation in the courts would have been ideal, but I doubted my chances of successfully bearing suit against him.

I decided to get his measure first. ‘Start with the slaves; always start with the slaves’ was the advice I got from an old mentor. I found his domus, situated high up on the slopes of Vergu, and lurked about. There was plenty of traffic coming in and going out of the house. The hour was early afternoon. Slaves and freedmen were finishing up their errands and returning, messengers were going back and forth, and even some respectable citizens and minor dignitaries — no doubts clients of the master — were still coming and going.

I was munching on a squid-on-a-stick bought from a nearby stall, considering whom should I approach first, when I saw a muscular man come out of a side gate, pushing ahead a wheelbarrow containing some old sheets. He was accompanied by a slender girl, a slave as well by her short tunic. They never spoke, never looked up, just trudged along, slinking on the side of the street.

I have no idea why, but I felt a chill as they passed me. I was drawn to follow them, and I did. We walked down the mountain, the slaves leading in silence, and me following behind. They reached the Porta Alta, the gate in the city walls on the road that leads up Vergu. A short distance later they took a small track that branched left and led down the hills and towards the Fulvius river. It has fallen into disuse over the years, the majority of human traffic going through the city streets. They quickened their pace, and though the path was broken their steps were lighter. I had the impression they were glad to be away from other humans.

I kept a respectable distance as we walked, though they seemed to care little. When we reached the flat grounds closer to the river, I was not surprised they were not interested in any of the small gardens, minor estates, and occasional trade post that lay outside the sacred perimeter of the city. They kept going, avoiding people, heading to the river. We reached the Pons Mors, an old wooden bridge, with a foreboding name to match its history. They crossed it and started to trek up the hill toward the sacred hill of Libitina, where the records of the dead and the graves of the poor were.

They made their way to the lye pits, where unclaimed corpses are discarded. I took out a writing wax tablet I keep to take notes, quickened my steps, and got to them just as they stopped next to an open pit.

“Excuse me!” I said and put my hand out. The girl recoiled as if I struck her, while the man pushing the cart froze completely.

I softened my tone. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I just need to ask you a few questions.”

“Please, domine — my dominus instructed us to be quick about our task,” she answered without lifting her eyes.

“That’s alright, I just need a name and cause of death for our records,” I waved the wax tablet.

“She was called Victoria,” said the girl.

“Grand name for a slave.”

“Our dominus likes to name us after the gods.”

“And the cause of death?” I asked and flipped over the rags covering the body in the wheelbarrow.

And immediately wished I hadn’t. A short, curvy girl. Long, brown hair framing a face out of which brown eyes stared out unblinking, never to see again. The slave girl didn’t answer my question, but the scars were obvious. The poor girls has been whipped over the years, certainly, but that was not what finally killed her. On her fair skin I saw the same scars as I’ve seen before at military sieges, though these looked deliberate. She was slowly and repeatedly scalded by hot oil, the red burn scars snaking around her young body as someone flung the oil at her time after time. Her legs from the knees down looked like they have been boiled in the oil. I could not imagine the workings of a twisted mind that would do such a thing to a defenceless girl, though I would guess he was getting off by savagely attacking symbols for gods.

“And who shall I write as brought her here?” I asked after I covered the body back with the rags.

“He calls me Concordia. He said I am next,” she said without lifting her eyes, or showing any emotion.

***

It was almost a month later, when I had everything in place. On the start of the last nundinus of December, on the day and night we celebrate the mythic woman Acca Larentia for having nursed the three brothers who founded our city. This winter celebration is on the side of the ending year, and thus most offerings are for the dead.

I made her my own offering in advance, all as prescribed. I asked her a favour, to speak on my behalf with Dea Tacita, the mute one, goddess of the dead, for they share the same festival day. This matter concerned the Dea Tacita, for it was the shades of the dead girls that were denied their eternal rest, but I was not so rash as to apply directly to the mute one.

I had to organise things carefully. I had to coincide any ceremony I would carry out with general festivals, so as to hide behind the noise of public magia and escape notice of the Collegium Incantatorum. Understand, the times where everyone sacrifices for the gods, even when the magia is not properly directed and the public ceremonies are bordering more on superstition than on real incantation, still provide me enough background noise to mask any dark deeds.

On the celebration of the Larentalia the censor was invited to be present at the rites carried out just outside our walls, on the wide ledge where funerals are held. This was one of the progression of special events marking the end of the year. A necessary ceremony, to propitiate the numina, and ensure that a new year will start after the intercalaris, that countless period over the winter between December and the beginning of the new year on the first new moon of the spring solstice.

I was standing to the side of the sparse crowd of citizens, further up the slope and away from the city. The censor, resplendent in his white toga with wide purple stripes, the brass buckles on his crimson shoes flaring with the last rays of sunlight, was standing at the centre of the row of dignitaries as befitting his position, with a look of boredom and disdain that betrayed true feelings.

When the rites were over, I uttered a small incantation and spoke his name softly. The wind sighed, and carried it to his ears alone. He turned his head. Behind me, two girls — one dressed as Diana and the other as Fortuna — disappeared quickly behind a bend in the road. He stared at me for a moment, shook his head, and turned.

I signalled the girls, and spoke the incantation again. As he turned, the girls looked up, laughed, and ducked back behind the rock. I walked towards him, slowly, keeping my eyes locked on his, letting the crowd wend their way down the hill and leave us alone. He stayed, mesmerised, looking at me and the tantalising visions of girls in goddesses costumes peeking behind me, and dismissed his retinue with a wave. The men around us hurried down, before full darkness set in.

By the time I reached him, we were alone.

“I’ve heard you’re in the market for some slave girls. Particularly ones that know how to dress up and act like goddesses,” I said.

He stared at me for a moment, licked his lips, and said, “I’m not sure I know what you mean.”

“I have a young woman to sell. Well read, cultured, pretty. Her father was forced to sell the family into slavery to repay a gambling debt. Can recite Andronicus and Terentius. Likes to dress up as Diana the Huntress. Give her a bow, and she’ll look just like a temple statue.”

My sources and hunches were right, for I could see him waver. “I have her right here for you. You can check her out, sample her… recitation skills. It won’t take a moment.”

He followed me. We went just around the bend. “Just in here,” I pointed at a shallow recess. He just wasn’t expecting me to hit him on the side of the head with a leather pouch full of sand as I turned to show him the way.

I caught him as he collapsed.

I tied him down, with special leather tongs that have been inscribed with sigils marked by teeth.

I laid him neatly in the recess.

In the centre of a circle drawn in blood and bones.

We waited for the moon to rise.

He woke up.

He threatened.

He pleaded.

Threatened again.

Cried.

The waning moon finally sailed past the peak of Vergu to light our little hollow on the western side.

I chanted the necessary prayer. I made the right sacrifices. I gave it direction and focus, beyond mere superstition, yet without the callous hubris of an incantator channeling the magia.

I stood back.

We didn’t have to wait long. Deeper shadows amidst the scree shifted, morphed, advanced. With halting movements, in bursts that seemed always to be at the periphery of my vision, shadowy figures drew closer.

Until finally they resolved themselves into human shapes, rising from the rocks to stand around us. Against their grey skin I could make out the luminous yellow eyes, the webbed hands, the sharpened teeth.

They looked at me unblinkingly. I spoke the last words of the prayer, promising the Dea Tacita that which was hers, and backed away.

Their eyes shifted from me to the gibbering censor in the centre of the circle.

And descended upon him.

Beyond the circle of writhing bodies, I saw the grey shape of Licinia, looking emotionless at her killer being killed.

I took out the coin from the fold of my toga, looked again at the face of a long dead consul. I balanced it on thumb and forefinger, and flicked it above the circle and over the grey lemures at Licinia.

She caught it deftly, placed it in her mouth, and began to fade away.

I could almost hear a faint ‘thank you’ over the sounds of ripping flesh and crunching bones.

I turned away, and made my way down the mountain, back into our city and its lights, towards the nearest cup of wine, hoping that Licinia would now find peace across the river Styx.

From the Author

Assaph has been a bibliophile since he learnt to read at the age of five, and a Romanophile ever since he first got his hands on Asterix, way back in elementary school. This exacerbated when his parents took him on a trip to Rome and Italy – he whinged horribly when they dragged him to “yet another church with baby angels on the ceiling”, yet was happy to skip all day around ancient ruins and museums for Etruscan art.

He has since been feeding his addiction for books with stories of mystery and fantasy of all kinds. A few years ago he randomly picked a copy of a Lindsay Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco novel in a used book fair, and fell in love with Rome all over again, this time from the view-point of a cynical adult. His main influences in writing are Steven Saylor, Lindsey Davis, Barry Hughart and Boris Akunin.

Assaph now lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife Julia, four kids and two cats. By day he is a software product manager, bridging the gap between developers and users, and by night he’s writing – he seems to do his best writing after midnight.

Where To Find Assaph Mehr

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Blog, Website

What happens when a monkey/human hybrid and wolf-shifter meet?

I had the distinct pleasure of spending an afternoon online with the amazing Kayla Matt, creator of the Hell Bent Series. Well… More accurately, Richard Parsons got to spend an afternoon with Travis Malone.

An Afternoon With A Wolf-Shifter and A Monkey/Human Hybrid

Richard Parsons is my wolf-shifter from the Shadows Over Seattle stories. Travis Malone is a human/monkey hybrid from Kayla’s Hell Bent stories. What happens when Travis comes looking for Richard?

Go read the interview, it was a lot of fun, then check out the rest of Kayla’s blog and learn about the Hell Bent series.

An Artist’s Vision…

I also love seeing Kayla’s interpretation of Richard (see the artwork below), it’s actually very cool seeing how someone else sees a character that has lived in my head for years.