Local Australian Show

Our Local Show
For the first time ever, Writers Exchange had a stall at our local show and it was fantastic!

Over 100 people took our business card and 80% of people who visited got to see an ebook reader for the first time!

We had a contest for someone to win a brand new ebook reader, too. We were raffling off the MiGear ebook reader which has backlighting rather than eink technology. That is what I use myself until I get a Kindle (which now operates Internationally and not just in America).

So next year I will hopefully have my own Kindle to display and a Kindle to give away as well.

Our book catalogue was available in print for people to flip through, but I had to break it up into sections as it was just too big. The file I used to make that is the basis for our new PAGE FLIPPING catalogue up at the site. I am still fiddling with it today to make it even better, so the final address for that will go up tonight – but there is a big link on the left hand side with a beautiful graphic made by out talented author and illustrator Robert Beers, who also did the books in our logo for us. Thank you Robert. And the great thing is he is as good a fantasy writer, as he is an artist, lucky fellow.

That is about all to report from the Show in Regional Australia….

New Fantasy/Science Fiction ebook release (June 2017)

A Ring Realms Novel: Shaladen Chronicles Book 2: Anvil of Sorrow

Author: Will Greenway

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction

ISBN: 978-1-925191-26-4

Word Count: 212, 200

When re-assembling time just isn’t good enough…

Saving the collapsing timeline cost Corim Vale his right arm and half of his soul, proving that the best of intentions can lead one to the abyss. In Corim’s case–literally.

For the Protectorate, things have gone wrong in a big way. Meridian’s attempt to destroy time has left Eternity’s chronology in a mess. Aarlen Frielos the most skilled time diver of the Shael Dal lies in a coma, along with Beia Targallae, and three other women. To restore them all Corim needs to do is retrieve Aarlen’s missing spiritual essence. Finding the lost soul is simple, it’s getting it back from the death goddess who has it that might offer a challenge…

As a newly appointed gamma class Protectorate enforcer, Corim Vale has a lot to learn. He must hit the chronology running as Eternity is besieged by marauding extra-universal aliens, Kriar insurgencies, and mad wizards who simply refuse to die. If that wasn’t enough to deal with, the mind patterns of an ancient magestrix are inexorably overwhelming his body…

PRICE: $3.99

  

RELEASE DATE: 22 June 2017

 

Free Short Story – Fantasy Humour by Leslie Roy Carter

Flour Power

(A Wild Sorceress Short Story)

by Leslie Roy Carter

 

Innocema hurried along the garden path to the Headmaster’s house, noting with displeasure the weeds that had sprung up between the rows of flowers she had so carefully groomed less than a week before. She worried that this might be the reason she had received a short-notice summons to appear before the Headmaster. The upperclassman who had delivered the note had taken great delight in making sure everyone in hearing range knew Innocema was being sent for.

Although the note hadn’t mentioned the cause for the summons, her mind was all too ready to supply reasons. She had barely passed the standards for progressing to the second year of Provisioner training. The rumors had spread throughout her class that she was advanced only because she was an officer in the First Royal Mounted Sorcerers. This rumor more than likely stemmed from the fact that, like many older Neophytes who had spent their early youth in the service of the King’s army–hers in the Border Guards–many of her class had not scored high enough to pass the Test. Officially, they should not even have been admitted for sorcerer training.

The resentment the upperclassmen directed at her class was never going to go away and, in her case, seemed to double when she was passed upward. For all her efforts to learn the techniques of Power storage, her spells remained pitifully weak. Her roommate had suggested on more than one occasion that Innocema was a better Illusionist than Provisioner in that her conjured bread looked better than it tasted, let alone providing any sustenance. If she had so much trouble with basic foods, how was she ever going to advance to turning water into wine?

Nearing the vine-covered cottage that Magess Trelana preferred over the old Headmaster’s stone edifice, Innocema hoped that the sense of welcome from the neat, white-boarded home tucked amid the green ivy and flowers of many colors was not just a façade. She had been in the previous Headmaster’s home only once, for a reception of first-year Neophytes, and it had made her think she was entering a prison, so intimidating was the huge stone structure. The Inhestia Training Lodge had started as a Mage Sorcerer’s castle several centuries before, when magic-users ruled the land. The old Headmaster Mage Kelristo had followed in the steps of his predecessors by using the Lord’s mansion as his residence. Tradition dies hard among sorcerers, as Innocema was learning daily.

She stopped before the wooden door, which had a curtained window in the top half, and glanced at her reflection in the glass. From long habit she checked that her white student’s robe hung straight from her shoulders with the collar properly buttoned all the way up. Female Neophytes were not allowed to show cleavage until their fourth year, which was normally about the time most girls had anything to show. Entry to the lodge usually happened at age thirteen, and when Inhestia had first started training magic-users, the course had lasted five years.

At nearly nineteen, Innocema was small for her age, barely five feet tall. A childhood as the oldest of five girls born to a sonless dirt farmer had toughened her body early. Of formal education, she had none because she had joined the Border Guards at fifteen with most of her village friends. Fully grown, she and her follow veterans stood out from her classmates by virtue of their age, a difference that only added to the resentment – at least from the female upperclassmen. The men didn’t seem to mind except when called to task by an instructor for not paying attention. The mantra at Inhestia was, “Control, control your thoughts. You cannot create a spell without control!”

Glancing down at her chest, she pulled up the sash running from her left collarbone between her breasts and across her right hip, ensuring that the bundled wheat symbol of a Provisioner student was positioned correctly at the shoulder. The sashes had a tendency to loop forward under the weight of attached insignia and fall off the shoulder. In her case, she had only one metal weight, a single starburst designating her as a second-year student. Her suggestion to the class mentor of adding a belt to hold the sash in place was dismissed as improper. A belt would only accentuate the curve of the waist – another distractor.

Flipping her short, blonde hair away from her neck, she set a slight smile in place and, finally convinced that her appearance was correct, she knocked on the door panel. The curtain behind the glass was pulled aside to reveal the face of another girl, about her own age. There was no answering smile or anything but a brief nod of recognition from the woman who opened the door. It was Alexia, the fourth-year student in charge of Innocema Provisioner group. Not one of her favorite people.

“The Headmistress is in her parlor. Follow me and show some respect for her. She is not an instructor you can charm with your smile and wit, nor is she anywhere near an equal. You may be an officer in the Sorcerer squadron attached to Inhestia, but you are not an employee. You are not a member of her staff. You are just a student, a poorly performing one at that.”

Innocema was tempted to snap a salute at the woman, which she knew would really irritate Alexia, who hated all things military. Alexia demanded respect for her position but had never done anything to earn it. Innocema decided to follow along quietly – she didn’t need another enemy in the room with her.

The Headmistress sat reading a lengthy scroll she held in her left hand, the right in the process of laying the previous scroll on top of the growing pile beside her on the tea table. She seemed so absorbed in the last scroll that she could not bring herself to put the one in her right hand down. Frowning, she looked back to her right and muttered “…that can’t be true!” That was when she noticed the two young women in front of her. “There are bandits attacking the refugees in our northern valley – where we just now settled them to be under our protection. This is unacceptable!”

Alexia made a moue to show the Magess her disapproval. “The very nerve of them. Where is the king’s army when you need them?”

Trelana waved away the comment and directed her gaze at Innocema, noticing the confusion on her face. “Which is why I sent for you, Neophyte Innocema.”

Drawing herself to attention, Innocema responded energetically, “The First Sorcerers await your orders, Ma’am. We can ride out and take care of the problem.”

“What?” It was Magess Trelana’s turn to look confused. “The bandits are the army’s problem. That is not why I sent for you two.”

“Ma’am, I am with the army.”

Alexia turned on Innocema and scolded her. “Nonsense, you are strictly a ceremonial concession to the idea of cooperation between our Council of Mages and King Phyrlatus. The Council long ago withdrew our support of the army. The war ended long ago. You are an unnecessary functionary.”

Innocema stared at Alexia in disbelief, then glanced at the Headmistress to see if she agreed. Magess Trelana was acting head of the Council and had approved the creation of the First. The old woman frowned at the two young women before her. One of them had been sheltered in the bosom of family and friends through the long conflict, and the other had fought in it. To Trelana the war was just yesterday; to Alexia it was “long ago”. The Headmistress cast a sympathetic glance in Innocema’s direction.

Alexia, clearly not noticing the lack of support, stupidly continued her scold. “Furthermore, our Sorcerer Guard, who have never been attached to the army in any form, have always protected us and all of the facilities run by the Council. They will ‘take care of the problem’, not you.”

Innocema’s rage nearly overmastered her. It was fortunate that she was not armed, but she fought the urge to put all that anger behind a fist and smash Alexia’s face in. Control, control, control… she recited to herself. “Just like they took care of the kidnapping of Magess Coleni’s baby, Novice Alexia?”

Alexia’s mouth dropped open, but no words came out. The kidnapping had shocked the entire training lodge, who mourned the loss of so many of their Guard who had failed to prevent the baby’s disappearance.

The Headmistress stood and stepped between the two students. Because she was taller than either, separating them was easy. Turning slightly to Innocema, she said softly, “You know that the Guard failed because of betrayal from within their own ranks. The bravery shown by the First in the recovery of the baby has been recognized by the Council. The problem I am trying to solve now is simpler and requires cooperation between the Guard and all of us here at Inhestia. Now we all need to step back and take a deep breath. Close your eyes and think, control.”

Both students did as they were told. Trelana returned to her seat and waited until both young faces were calm and watching her. “Now, let us start again, please. There is a group of refugees who have been driven off their farms by bandits. The refugees were given permission to settle on Council land until the army could win back control of the refugees’ farms. The process will take a while, and the likelihood of the refugees being returned to their land with any means of support from the crops they planted is slim indeed. That is why the bandits drove them off.”

The two women nodded at Trelana. Innocema, because she was raised on a farm, understood what the Headmistress was defining for them. Alexia nodded because she had heard the problem before and wanted to let her Headmistress know she was being cooperative.

“So the Council suggested our training lodge take on the project of sending our Provisioner Neophytes to the refugee camp and assist in supplying them with food and clothing to tide them over. This would be excellent training for our second-year students because they have advanced far enough in their training syllabi to be able to help. We will send along the Provisioner Sorcerer instructors who taught them their lessons and provide logistic support of a couple of sources. This is going to require more Power than the student sources can generate and we must be careful in our supervision.”

The two women continued to nod. They were taught from day one at Inhestia that all sorcerers drew the energy needed to power their spells from precious stones known as sources.

“Because all of the second-year students will be going, which stand currently at a class strength of twenty…” Alexia frowned at Innocema, as if she would not have included her in that number. Trelana feigned not noticing and continued, “…we will send a contingent of Sorcerer Guard to escort the second years to and from, for the students’ protection, and of course to prevent a valuable source from falling into non-sorcerer hands. After all, the last war was fought over such a thing.”

Innocema nodded. She hadn’t even known what a source was while she was a Border Guard, but she remembered quite a fuss was made about sources and who controlled the mines they were dug from.

“Therefore, I am sending Alexia, our upper-class lead for the second-year students, to be in charge. It is her senior class project and will be good leadership training for her.” Trelana gave Alexia a reassuring smile, but her eyes warned the upperclassman not to foul up the opportunity, what with her recent display of arrogance.

Alexia gave a small bow of acknowledgement.

“And you, Neophyte Innocema, will assist her with your extensive knowledge of moving people and equipment from point A to point B with maximum efficiency. This operation is not unlike a military movement of forces. You’ll take your orders from Neophyte Alexia, who I’m sure will leave the minor details for getting the job done to you and not interfere with the minutiae of the small tasks. Am I clear on this?”

Innocema stiffened her back and replied, “Yes, Ma’am.”

Trelana clearly hesitated to say “dismissed”. Innocema suspected the Headmistress feared that Alexia would not understand the order or leave the room with any assurance of what her task was. Instead, Trelana stood and gave the senior girl a hug and a smile, wishing her good luck in her endeavor, and gently pushed her toward the door. Turning to Innocema, she offered her hand and a grim smile. “Follow her orders, but don’t do anything stupid.”

The young woman answered her smile with one equally grim.  “I hear and obey, Magess.”

#

Three wagons conveyed the group, two filled with laughing students and one with sacks of grain. The oversized platoon of the Sorcerer Guard rode behind, trailing leisurely. There were scouts out ahead of the wagons, and the Guard looked relaxed, but their eyes stayed alert to their surroundings. This might seem a stroll in the woods, but they knew the convoy offered an opportunity too good for an enemy to overlook. Their orders were to prevent anyone from capturing the sorcerers or, more importantly, the source they carried in the lead wagon. The Guard leader glanced nervously from side to side. She would have felt more comfortable with the presence of a couple of Aggressors, student or not. Fireballs and lightning bolts from a sorcerer level Aggressor would go a long way to frighten off bandits and make her job a lot easier.

One of her detached scouts came around a bend in the road and signaled they had found the refugee camp. The experienced captain gave the order for the rest of the guard to deploy to make a sweep for the ambush she would have set if she were the bandit chief. She sent her aide to tell Alexia in the lead wagon to get her people in hand and to keep alert. They should be behaving more like magic-users doing serious work than giggling children.

The Neophyte Provisioner riding separately on a cavalry mount moved to intercept the aide and took the message from him. She closed with the lead wagon and transmitted the orders after first speaking with the fourth-year student. The gaiety died down quickly under the glare of the woman giving the orders, and the students gave her their attention.

#

“The Guard did a marvelous job driving the bandits away, don’t you think so?” Alexia asked Innocema, who sat on her horse and watched their escort chase after the fleeing raiders. Innocema phrased her reply in a neutral tone. “The ambush was poorly executed by the bandits, who did not seem to put up much of a fight after their initial volley of arrows. I am worried that this might be an attempt to draw the Guard into a better prepared trap.”

“Nonsense. The bandits were clearly overmatched and running for their lives. Now, gather your classmates, and we can get this provisioning project started. The first thing we need to do is to create journey bread in quantity enough to tide over…how many refugees are there? Magess Trelana said something about over fifty people. That means two loaves a day for a week-then there are the children, who can get by on a loaf a day. Next…”

Alexia rushed off to consult one of the instructors about the advisability of switching to hardtack as their next course of action. Innocema could only shake her head in disbelief. The security of the sorcerers and refugees was hardly guaranteed, and her leader was thinking of anything but their safety.

Innocema rounded up the students who had been standing around the wagons watching the skirmish unfold. They had not bothered to arm themselves with their personal weapons, even though all students were required to go armed and spent an afternoon each week in self-defense training. She wondered if these kids would even have tried to defend themselves if the bandits broke through the Guard. The refugees had not, fleeing the safety of their camp and scattering in the forest beyond. She had seen this reaction so often during the war. People were conditioned to flee from things they feared.

Using her command voice, which sounded surprisingly loud coming from such a small frame, she forced their attention back to their purpose for being here – to feed people. Their interest in the project now revived, they started to ask numerous questions about how it was going to be done. None of which she had the answers for. In the army the Provisioners worked with the quartermasters to supplement what the cooks needed to feed the troops; the Provisioners did not actually cook the food.

“But we already have what it takes to make bread: flour, water, and salt,” Colastia, the outstanding student in her year, said, “I don’t cook, I conjure.” She materialized a delicate pastry that plopped into her open hand. Taking a bite out of it, Colastia smiled to the watching crowd. “That is how it is done.”

A hand took the delicacy from Colastia. Alexia nibbled it and said, “Too sweet and needs more salt. From the release of Power we all just felt when you cast that spell, I’d say you could repeat that effort maybe a dozen more times before you’d be drained of Power. Then after you have meditated for at least eight hours using your student source, you could make a dozen more.”

Looking around at the astonished faces of the assembled students, she tossed the half-eaten bun to the ground. “Congratulations, Colastia, you have shown us that you are capable of keeping yourself and one refugee from starvation – not going to save many people that way, are we?” Shaking her head, she continued, “No, we are not. Nor are we going to waste our time mixing the flour and kneading the dough, waiting for hours to let the bread rise, punching it down and repeating the process. We are sorcerers, users of Power. We use magic wisely, efficiently, bypassing time and process with transformation.”

“Transformation?” Colastia asked.

“Anyone can conjure wine…” After looking around at the other students, Alexia turned her eyes on Innocema. “…well, almost all of us. It is more efficient and uses less Power to turn water into wine. Let me show you how. Now, pay attention, we don’t have time for repetition.”

Despite Alexia’s smart remark about her failure to produce wine, Innocema grudgingly had to admit that Alexia’s process for making bread without conjuring proved both effective and efficient. The team began to produce an impressive number of loaves without exhausting their supply of Power. Innocema organized her classmates into two teams of nine, one team transforming the raw ingredients into loaves and wrapping the loaves for distribution while the second team meditated before the main source. This procedure was also new to them all because that source was large compared to the one each student carried around his or her neck. Because it was easy to overload their storage capacity, they were closely supervised by the Sorcerer level instructors.

By the end of the day, all the students dropped into an exhausted sleep. Innocema had not participated much in the actual production. She had kept too busy ensuring everyone took proper care of themselves by drinking water and remembering to eat. She was getting more nervous as the day worn on because the Guard had not returned from their chase. The handful that remained behind did not seem too worried about their fellow guardsmen’s absence. The sergeant-in-charge pointedly reminded her that she might be an officer in the army, but she had no authority over them at all.

Innocema left the sergeant and took a short ride around the perimeter of the refugee camp. She was about to ride after the main body when a messenger came trotting along the path. The female Guard did not stop when Innocema hailed her, instead hurrying to the sergeant. She was delivering her message as Innocema joined them.

“The Captain says it looks like the bandits joined up with another group and took off into the hills. She believes they were a scouting party originally sent to reconnoiter the refugees and did not expect our arrival. The Captain was going to send out scouts herself to see if those bandits would merge with a larger force and return to attack.”

“What are the Captain’s orders to us?” the sergeant asked, cutting off Innocema as she started to ask the same question.

“She wants me to pass her respects to Neophyte Alexia, requesting that she hurry with her project and be prepared to move tomorrow morning, with the refugees, back towards Inhestia.”

“Best do it now, Sergeant,” Innocema said, trying to make her remark sound like a suggestion and not an order.

“I’ll let Neophyte Alexia make that decision, Ma’am. But I’m sure she will follow the direction of Sorcerer Martiles, who is the senior sorcerer present.”

“The Guard is tasked with our protection, Sergeant. I’m sure the Captain will remind you of that if a sorcerer comes to harm. It is up to you to make that decision. You know magic-users have little common sense when they get wrapped up in their magic. They will want to finish what they started because they don’t realize the danger.”

The sergeant waved the messenger on and reached out a hand to grab Innocema’s bridle. “The Captain sent her respects to Alexia, not you. You heard the order. Convince your own people if you feel so strongly about it. Now leave us alone and go play soldier somewhere else.”

#

At dawn, with professional detachment, Innocema watched the bandits ride past the refugee camp without breaking formation and engage the few sentries the Guard had stationed around the sorcerer wagons. As the attack began, the refugees, aroused by the noise of the fight, did manage to man the barriers they had erected earlier. Their actions would not have made much difference in the outcome of the combat, as the bandits showed no interest in the refugees at all. They were after the sorcerers.

The Guard sentries had not been taken by surprise but were outnumbered. The bandits rode in with a platoon-size force, the Guard reduced that by ten or so. They fought bravely enough. Their Captain could not fault the sergeant’s effort, but it was not sufficient. All that stood between the bandits and their goal were twenty teenage kids, two middle-aged sorcerers, and one Lieutenant in the First Royal Mounted Sorcerers.

A rider passed through the ranks of the bandits and slowly rode toward the sorcerers’ wagons. A grizzled veteran from the last war, he showed his age but sat straight in his saddle. A shock of recognition crossed Innocema’s mind. She recognized the man.

“I would have a word with your leader, Neophyte.”

Innocema replied, “Sorcerer Martiles suggests you take your men and leave the area immediately. He has been informed that a squadron of the King’s cavalry is on its way, and our detachment of the Sorcerer’s Guard is between you and your route of retreat. Any delay in your departure is not advised.”

Looking past the young woman before him, the bandit leader smiled. “I knew ‘Spuds’ Martiles when he was just a Novice. Tell him to turn over all the sources in his possession, and I will let all of you Inhestia youngsters go. Oh, and we’ll take all the bread you have worked so hard to prepare.”

Innocema was sure she knew this man. “If you knew Sorcerer Martiles, you would know he is not to be trifled with.”

The leader turned to stare at Innocema. “Look, young lady, stop the idle threats. I can tell by your robe that you are a second-year Provisioner student, as are all your friends gathered around the wagons. I know Spuds is a sorcerer Provisioner. There is nothing you people can do that will harm me or my men. You have no Aggressors or those blasted Illusionists in that crowd.”

“Sir, I make no idle threats.”

“That tale of the cavalry just over the hill is not a credible threat.”

Innocema glowered back. “If you know so much about sorcerers, you would know we communicate with sources. Help is on the way, Commander Naldestus!”

Glancing down at her horse’s saddlery, Naldestus frowned. “Ah, now I see why you know my name. You’re one of the kids we met in battle last year.”

“And we fought you to a draw, as I recall.”

“Yes, the baby incident. We deliberately let you go. You weren’t worth the trouble of pursuing.” The Commander leaned forward. “I will not be fooled by another female magic-user ever again. Get back to Spuds and tell him I will be attacking in ten minutes if I don’t see a flag of surrender from him. I will kill you all this time.”

Innocema turned her horse away and trotted back to the wagons with their embarked cargoes of students. She rode over to the wagon where Sorcerer Martiles stood waiting. He calmly received her message. After a brief conversation, he spoke to Alexia, who was standing next to him. She bowed in response. She addressed her class in a high voice that could be clearly heard by enemy and friend alike. “Neophyte Innocema has been given permission to take over this class and instruct your efforts. Remember what I taught you last night. You must control your Power, but don’t let it get away from you. Sorcerer Martiles will assist as necessary. Innocema, take charge.”

Innocema drew her saber to salute Alexia, who returned the salute with a little half-wave. Facing the bandits, Innocema laid the sword across the pommel of her horse and awaited the attack.

Naldestus sighed and signaled his men. “They have made their choice. We will attack on foot, single line abreast. Form up.”

Innocema watched the line form and noted their commander remained mounted in the center of the line…the best place to direct the action. She glanced to either side, where Colastia and her fellow students crouched behind the wall of their wagons. With a roar the line charged, the bandits quickly closing the gap.

Innocema called out, “On my command, at twenty-five feet. Volley fire. Commence fire.”

#

Trelana stood at the head of the commons and watched as the two wagons rolled through the gate at Inhestia, proceeded by their escort of Sorcerer Guard. There were not as many as had ridden out a week ago, their ranks sadly depleted by the losses inflicted by the bandits. Their commander split her column and lined the field as the wagons trundled forward. The assembled student body waited silently, flanking the commons on all sides. The faculty grouped behind their Headmistress, everyone straining to see into wagons.

A lone rider following the last wagon trotted forward and presented herself to Trelana. Innocema saluted and reported in a loud, clear voice, “Mission accomplished, Ma’am.”

The students sitting in the wagon stood up and waved to the crowd, who erupted into cheers at the sight.

Trelana waited as Innocema dismounted and stepped to embrace her. “How did you defeat the bandits, Innocema? You were outmanned, using civilians who were unexperienced in combat.”

The young Lieutenant offered her a slight smile. “We gave the enemy the battle they weren’t expecting. It was a fight our class was well trained for and ready to wage. A good old-fashioned food fight. We used Colastia’s sticky buns spelled to harden on contact, and plastering them into immobility. You could say we stuck it to the enemy and they were ours.”

About the Author

Born into a Navy family in Washington, D.C., Leslie Roy Carter lived all over the United States, as well as in Argentia, Newfoundland, while growing up. After receiving a B.S. in Physics from the College of William and Mary, he was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. While serving as a naval officer, he earned an M.S.E.E. from the Naval Postgraduate School. His career as a surface line officer took him to many ports such as Pearl Harbor, Long Beach, San Diego, and Charleston, culminating in command of the Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigate, U.S.S. Reid. He then switched to the acquisitions specialty, eventually becoming a major program manager before his retirement in 2002 with the rank of Captain.

In retirement, he turned his attention to writing as well as his volunteer service in the Maryland Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

You can keep track of all Leslie’s books on his author page at Writers Exchange E-Publishing:

http://www.writers-exchange.com/Leslie-Roy-Carter.html

Also by this author, and set in the same “universe” (All available from Amazon, B&N, etc in ebook with print available by the end of June 2017!):

   

 

Blood Bred Series by JennaKay Francis – Vampires…

Blood Bred Series Book 1: Gift of Blood (ebook and print)

Author: JennaKay Francis

ISBN: 192097282X (978-1-920972-82-0)

GENRE: Fantasy: Vampire

Jaeger needs blood. Half Vector, half human, newly coming of age, he is now drawn to human blood for the first time in his already long life.

Rhiannon, a witch, has a problem with her blood–she produces too much iron to safely live. She decides on a partnership with the Vectors, but before she can approach them, she is attacked and left for dead beneath a pier. Jaeger finds her, unconscious and bleeding.

Fighting against the lure of her blood, he helps her instead. His actions set them both on a course of pain, hunger, terror and love. But can he save her from himself?

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

Blood Bred Series Book 2: From the Heart (ebook and print)

Author: JennaKay Francis

GENRE:  Fantasy (Vampire)

ISBN: 192097296X (978-1-920972-96-7)

Baris had everything…a wife he worshipped, a child he adored, a life of comfort and security. But it changes suddenly and dramatically, with no explanation. Anika, his wife, shuns him and orders him to leave her side. His child claims that his mama is not really his mama. And Dierdre, a devastatingly beautiful young woman slides into Baris’ life, seduction on her mind.

When Baris attempts to take his wife to the Lair to be healed, she flees, leaving him alone with his child and Dierdre. To add to his agony, the child is bitten by a poisonous snake and Baris takes him to the Lair to save his life. Once reunited with Dierdre, the pair set off in search of Anika. But as the days turn to weeks with no sign of his wife, Baris must accept that possibility that she does not wish to be found.

As his life grows increasingly entangled with Dierdre, he makes the mistake of feeding on a young man who is addicted to a powerful drug called Hack. Baris is soon addicted as well, and now must struggle to reclaim everything that he once held dear. Or die.

PRICE: $3.99

 

Blood Bred Series Book 3: New Beginnings (ebook and print)

Author: JennaKay Francis

GENRE:  Fantasy: Vampire

ISBN: 9781921314353

Word Count: 76, 782

A powerful Vector roams the dark alleys and streets searching for his next victim. But he is not interested in those with normal blood, only those in whose veins runs blood thick with hack. And if Adan can’t find someone who has just ingested the potent drug, he will use his powers to coerce them to do so before he feeds.

For Darius, the Vector Sovereign, Adan has become a problem. A problem he needs to fix.

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

 

Bitter Tree, Thriller by Frank Altobelli

Bitter Tree (ebook and print)

Author: Frank Altobelli

GENRE:  Thriller

ISBN: 9781921636004

Eleanor could not have known the effect the handsome, idealistic archeologist, Rene, would have on her. She gave him her heart, but did not easily give up her secrets. She knew the mystery hidden under the desert sands; one of the Bible’s most intriguing stories was not the miracle that would bring clean safe water to the world’s thirsty poor as Rene believed. She knew it was instead, a weapon that could humble the world’s industrial powers and they would kill to keep it hidden.

Trapped between the longings of her heart and the danger she has unleashed, Eleanor finds herself on the run and separated from the man she loves. She must do the impossible, overcome her mentor and former CIA boss, Steve Clarkson as well as the men plotting to destroy the strategic oil reserve, poisoning the US economy’s lifeblood.  To Steve she is a traitor who joined his nation’s enemies. To the terrorists she is the one person who can stop them.

PRICE: $3.99

 

A Vince Torelli Novel (Series) by John Schembra

A Vince Torelli Novel Book 1: MP – A Novel of Vietnam

AUTHOR: John Schembra

ISBN:  1920741186 (978-1-920741-18-1)

GENRE: Vietnam War

June 1967 As Vincent Torelli stepped off the plane at Bien Hoa Air Base, South Vietnam, he was almost overwhelmed by the stench in the hot, humid air.  He still had a hard time realizing he was in Vietnam.  Drafted into the armed forces five months earlier, he ended up becoming a Military Policeman, assigned to the 557th MP Co. at Long Binh Post just outside Binh Hoa City.

His year tour of duty in Vietnam changes him from a somewhat naïve young man to a battle hardened veteran.  Through unlucky chance, Vince becomes involved in the ferocious ’68 Tet offensive, barely surviving the night.  He sees and experiences things he could never have imagined before Vietnam.

This is Vince’s story, of how he survived that year in Vietnam, how he coped with the hell he faced, of the friendships he formed, and of the sorrow of lives lost.

PRICE:  $3.99

 

 

A Vince Torelli Novel Book 2: Retribution

Author: John Schembra

ISBN: 1920972854 (978-1-920972-85-1)

GENRE:  Mystery (Serial Killer)

There’s a vigilante killer loose in San Francisco, and when the justice system fails, he doles out his own brand of justice.

Homicide Inspector Vince Torelli has handled some of the city’s worst murders, but this case has him baffled.  It seems no matter what he does, the killer manages to stay one step ahead of him, anticipating his every move. Hell, the false clues and trail the killer leaves keeps Vince chasing shadows as the body count rises.

Will he discover the killer’s identity?  And will he survive long enough to bring him to justice?

PRICE: $3.99

 

A Vince Torelli Novel Book 3: Diplomatic Immunity

Author: John Schembra

GENRE:  Mystery/Thriller

ISBN: 978-1-921636-79-0

Word Count: 59, 440

There are sixty-six Consulates and Embassies in San Francisco, and a very talented, deadly sniper is targeting the Consul Generals, seemingly at random.

Homicide inspector Vince Torelli has a reputation for solving the toughest cases in the City, but this one is unlike anything else he has faced.  The killings make no sense, lack motive, and appear to be unrelated but Vince knows there has to be a link between them. He struggles to find the connection and identify the suspect, but as he gets closer to the answer, he becomes a target himself.  This can end only one of two ways, either by him solving the case, or by becoming a victim himself.

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

 

A Safe and Welcome Nest Romance Ebook

A Safe and Welcome Nest

AUTHOR: Judith B. Glad

ISBN: 187696295X (978-1-876962-95-1)

GENRE: Romance

Page Count: 67,557

Sometimes there’s a reason why a guy acts like a jerk, but that doesn’t mean a determined woman can’t teach him better manners…

It’s not just because Delilah’s lonely that she puts up with Jake’s crustiness. His son brings laughter and love to her empty nest. But her love for a little boy isn’t enough to build the rest of her life on. Even if Jake were interested.

PRICE:  $3.99

 

 

New Romance ebook release (June 2017)

Writers Exchange is thrilled to announce our latest novel by the prolific and talented, Karen Wiesner…

Incognito Series, Book 5: Under the Spell

Author: Karen Wiesner

Genre: Romance: Contemporary Intrigue/Espionage

ISBN: 978-1-925191-22-6

Word Count: 56, 375

Alex Lynch has spent a lifetime working hard toward the goal of owning the Triple Aces Ranch in Fever, Texas. His dream has finally come true when Gina Calhoun–a girl he’d loved all his life, despite her penchant for looking for trouble and his penchant for bailing her out–drops back into his life, seemingly out of nowhere.

Network Communications and Systems Analyst Justine Fielding, the former Gina Calhoun, is all grown up, more beautiful than ever…and even more restless.

Little does Alex know that the woman he’s falling under the spell of all over again is there on a mission to uncover and stop the dangerous men who killed her father–Alex being her chief suspect. This time, Gina may be the only one who can bail him out of the trouble about to come down on him.

PRICE: $5.99

 

Dead Certain by Dan Donoghue (Murder Mystery/Thriller)

Dead by the Sea

Author: Dan Donoghue

ISBN:  1920972579 (978-1-920972-57-8)

GENRE: Murder Mystery

Jim Groggan was bored. He was so bored that when a brutal murder occurred on the beach where he was staying, he took too great an interest in it. He even volunteered to drive a police officer down along the beach to interview Hippies in a seaside camp. There he met a girl, and unwisely went to her aid. Then events spun out of control and he was mixed up in turmoil of drugs, guns, and murder. Suddenly, boredom seemed a very desirable state indeed as he and the girl became the target of ruthless gangsters, while the police seemed more interested in using them as bait than in protecting them.

When a police officer told Jim not to shoot as it was becoming a massacre, he wasn’t fooling, and he knew only the half of it.

“I enjoyed this well-written, exciting adventure. Try it. It is worth your time. I award it five out of five stars.” ~ Dee Lloyd, author

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

A Muse of Fire by Sean O’Brien (Science Fiction ebook)

A Muse of Fire

AUTHOR: Sean O’Brien

ISBN: 1876962658 (978-1-876962-65-4)

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION

Page Count: 87, 401

Tyr Yllen could not be educated–at least, not by the ultramodern techniques Earth teachers used. But when Horace Mann, Earth educator, arrived at the Terran base on the conquered planet of the Mnemosyneans, Tyr allowed himself to feel hope.

He could not begin to imagine where Mann would lead him…

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

A Heartstopper Horror: Felicity’s Curse by Robin Helene Vogel (Young Adult Horror/Thriller)

A Heartstopper Horror: Felicity’s Curse

AUTHOR: Robin Helene Vogel

ISBN: 1876962739 (978-1-876962-73-9)

GENRE: YOUNG ADULT HORROR

12-year-old twins Frankie and Tracy Considine are excited to be moving to Leams, Massachusetts to live in their grandmother’s beautiful old house. Typical brother and sister, they’re always fighting, pummeling each other and playing tricks. With their mutual thirteenth birthday looming near, Tracy and Frankie have much to look forward to–or so they believe.

When their beloved dog, Muffin, disappears, they begin to wonder if this was the right move after all. Tracy’s friend, Carol, is distant, odd–but she did just turn 13, so perhaps that’s all it is. Tracy hears strange sounds coming from the woods, but everyone insists it’s her imagination, and Frankie teases her mercilessly about it. Bizarre events begin to occur: Girlfriends turn up with frightening tattoos; a young boy abruptly disappears; a fortuneteller warns her that those she most trusts are not to be trusted. Tracy rationalizes away all her doubts, eagerly looking forward to her 13th birthday party.

Frankie learns about Leams’ unusual, horrifying history and realizes his sister’s life is in danger. He must save her–and himself–from what is destined to happen. Will Tracy and Frankie escape their fate, or will they be the next victims of the town’s tragic curse?

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

A Heart Stopper Horror: Brad Simpson and the Ghostly Field (Midgrade: MILD Horror/Supernatural)

Brad Simpson and the Ghostly Field: A Heartstopper Horror

Author: Robin Helene Vogel

ISBN: 1876962755 (978-1-876962-75-3)

GENRE: Mid-grade Reader

Talented eleven-year-old actor, Brad Simpson, has just finished making movies with some of the most famous actors in the world, but he’s more than ready to settle down with a steady role on “The Pioneers”, an exciting new TV show.  He and his young castmates are having a great time together.  Brad even gets the chance to play baseball, his favorite game, against the cast of another show.

From day one, however, Brad senses something seriously amiss on the set of “Pioneers”–terrifying visions, threatening ghosts, an accident that nearly costs the entire cast their lives.  The director is forced to shut down filming while the kids recuperate, and it begins to look as if the show isn’t even going to make it to the small screen–unless Brad and his scared but determined “Pioneers” castmates team up to play a game of baseball against the Los Angeles Pioneers, a ghostly, doomed baseball team made up of failed actors from the late 19th century.  They need an ingenious solution–and Brad is confident he can satisfy both teams and keep their show in production.

Will Brad and his castmates solve the mystery of the ghostly field and successfully banish the ghosts from their set?

PRICE: $2.99

 

 

A Cry of Shadows by Max Overton (Mystery: Paranormal)

A Cry of Shadows

Author: Max Overton

GENRE: Mystery: Paranormal

ISBN: ebook: 978-1-922233-30-1

Print: 978-1-922233-31-8

Word Count: 128, 903

Australian Professor Ian Delaney is single-minded in his determination to prove his theory that one can discover the moment that the life force leaves the body. After succumbing to the temptation to kill a girl under scientifically controlled conditions, he takes an offer of work in St Louis, hoping to leave the undiscovered crime behind him.

In America, Wayne Richardson seeks revenge by killing his ex-girlfriend, believing it will give him the upper hand, a means to seize control following their breakup. Wayne quickly discovers that he enjoys killing and begins to seek out young women who resemble his dead ex-girlfriend.

Ian and Wayne meet, and when Ian recognizes the symptoms of violent delusion he employs Wayne to help him further his research. Despite the police closing in, the two killers manage to evade identification as the death toll rises.

John Barnes, the detective in charge of the case, is frantic, willing to try anything to catch his killer. With time running out, he looks desperately for answers. Will John get them before it’s too late?

PRICE: $3.99

 

 

New Vampire Romance ebook Release (May 2017)

Writers Exchange is thrilled to announce our first vampire romance by Margaret L. Carter, co-author of the Wild Sorceress Fantasy Series…

Crimson Dreams

Author: Margaret L. Carter

Genre: Fantasy Romance (Vampire)

ISBN: 978-1-925191-19-6

Word Count: 68, 752

The summer when Heather was eighteen, her dream beast’s nightly visits warded off loneliness and swept her away in flights of ecstasy. Now, returning to the mountains to sell her dead parents’ vacation cabin, she finds her “beast” again. But he turns out to be more than a dream. She meets Devin in the flesh, apparently not a day older. His first human lover, centuries in the past, died horribly because of her devotion to him. Does he dare to expose another mortal woman to that risk?

PRICE: $3.99

 

RELEASE DATE:  26 May 2017

A Beth-Hill Novel: Wild Hunt Series by Jennifer St. Clair

A Beth-Hill Novel: Wild Hunt Series, Book 1: Heart’s Desire

Author: Jennifer St. Clair

GENRE:  Fantasy

ISBN: 9781921314964

Word Count: 142, 583

The Wild Hunt roamed the forest outside of Beth-Hill until the Council bound them for a hundred years–a lifetime, to a human, but only a passing thought to one such as Gabriel. But a century has put its mark even on the Master of the Wild Hunt, and as the Council’s binding draws to a close, old enemies reappear to ensure that the Wild Hunt is bound again, to a Master–or Mistress–much worse than the Council could ever become.

 

A Beth-Hill Novel: Wild Hunt Series, Book 2: Fire and Water

Author: Jennifer St. Clair

GENRE:  Fantasy

ISBN: 9781921636219

Word Count: 95, 831

Erialas Morgan brought his mother back to life with a spell that shouldn’t exist, but he acted out of desperation and love.

There are others who wish to use that same spell for their own gain–and to destroy the Wild Hunt once and for all. Caught in the middle of a war between the Morgan clan of vampires and their human kin, Erialas turns to the Hunt for help. But even Gabriel cannot stop the tide of death and destruction once it turns.

 

A Beth-Hill Novel: Wild Hunt Series, Book 3: The Lost

Author: Jennifer St. Clair

GENRE:  Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1-922233-09-7

Word Count: 109, 105

Almost sixty years ago, Darkbrook opened its doors to students of *different * natures, sending out letters of invitation to the elves, the dragons, and…the vampires. The three who responded banded together despite their differences, and vanished only weeks later, along with an entire class of students and their teacher.

Someone summoned a demon to Darkbrook and trapped that demon in a body the shape of a human boy. That demon is still in Darkbrook after sixty years, and all he wants to do is go home.

The Wild Hunt has healed, and grown closer together, keeping the forest safe and secure for those who live there. Malachi has adapted to Josiah’s spell, but when the demon boy disrupts this newfound calm, the Hunt–and those they protect–are thrust into a struggle that should have ended almost sixty years ago–when a vampire, an elf, and a dragon–among others–vanished into the Mists.

 

 

New Release: Ancient Egyptian ebook by Best Selling Author, Max Overton

Writers Exchange is thrilled to announce Max Overton’s latest Ancient Egyptian novel…

Strong is the Ma’at of Re, Book 1: The King

Author: Max Overton

Genre: Historical: Ancient Egypt

ISBN: 978-1-925191-21-9

Word Count: 131, 143

If there was one thing that filled Ramesses III with pride, it was that he was descended from Ramesses the Great. Elevated to the throne following a coup led by his father Setnakhte during the troubled days of Queen Tausret, Ramesses III set about creating an Egypt that reflected the glory days of Ramesses the Great. He took on his predecessor’s throne name, he named his sons after the sons of Ramesses, he pushed them toward similar duties, and he thirsted after conquests like that of his hero grandfather.

Ramesses III assumed the throne name of Usermaatre, translated as ‘Strong is the Ma’at of Re’ and endeavoured to live up to it. He fought foreign foes, as had Ramesses the Great; he built temples throughout the Two Lands, as had Ramesses the Great, and he looked forward to a long, illustrious life on the throne of Egypt, as had Ramesses the Great.

But it was not to be. Ramesses III faced troubles at home; troubles that threatened the stability of Egypt and his own throne. The struggles for power between his wives, his sons, and even the priests of Amun, together with a treasury drained of its wealth; all forced Ramesses III to question his success.

PRICE: $4.99

 

 

RELEASE DATE:  25 May 2017

Free Short Story: “Rules of War” by Fran Jacobs

Rules of War
By Fran Jacobs

The creature in the cage wasn’t moving. It sat still and silent in the centre of its prison watching Arathy approach, impassively and unconcerned, with its dull violet eyes. When Arathy’s father, Kyther, had returned from patrol duty and unloaded the cage from the cart, the creature had been shouting in its own language and rattling the bars that surrounded it, but it had quietened down when Kyther had threatened it with an iron rod, and it hadn’t moved since. Even so Arathy still felt nervous as he crept towards the cage. His heart was pounding, his breathing was ragged and his palms were slick with sweat, but he knew that was as much to do with the fear of his father coming back out of the farm house and catching him avoiding his chores, than because of the nervous anticipation he felt at finally being able to see one of the fey.
They had been at war with the faerie race since his great grandfather’s time, but Arathy had never actually seen one. He’d heard stories about them, though, ever since he was a child, how they stole mortal children and enslaved them, made women and animals infertile, spoiled crops, soured milk and sank ships, but he had always thought that he would have to wait until he was eighteen, and joined his father and older brother, Rodir, on patrol, before he would catch a glimpse of one. He’d never dreamed that his father would actually capture a faerie, so he had no intention of wasting this opportunity, even if he would face a thrashing if he were caught.
Inside the wooden cage, cringing away from the iron disks that Kyther had hung to the outside of the bars, was a female faerie. She was a slender, androgynous creature, but her breasts, small and delicately formed, clearly defined her sex. She was probably as tall as Arathy, but in the small space of the cage, with her long limbs curled up around her, it was hard to tell. She seemed to be wearing nothing more than a sheer piece of gossamer as a dress. It was like a spider’s web draped around her, cut low at the back where her wings would have been, only they were gone now and all that remained were two stubs, surrounded by red, torn skin, and dried blood. Kyther had chopped the wings off to make sure that she couldn’t fly away, before cauterizing the wound and wrapping the wings in cloth. He would take them both to market, to sell separately, and could expect to make a small fortune, as faeries were always popular, especially women and children. Male faeries were less desirable, they were considered to be more dangerous, but Arathy wasn’t sure about that. The look in this faerie woman’s cat-slit eyes was one of pure murder.
But she looked scared, too.
“Can I get you anything?” Arathy asked her softly, not sure that she could even understand him. “To eat or drink?” There was a pause and then the faerie woman shook her head, milky-white hair flying about her face. “Are you in pain?” There was another pause and then an uncomfortable nod. “I-I’ll get you something, some water from the well, try and clean you up. Just hold still.” Another nod and Arathy turned and hurried away, heading towards the well.
Arathy worked quickly to fill the bucket with icy cold water and then stumbled back to the cage as fast as he could across the uneven ground, spilling a little of the water as he went. When he reached the cage he gave the faerie a nervous smile, one he hoped would comfort her, before heading around the back of it to squat in the dirt behind her. He soaked the hem of his cloak in the cold well water and carefully reached through the bars to dab it against the faerie’s pale skin.
The faerie girl cried out at his touch and flinched away.
“I’m sorry,” Arathy whispered. “I really am–”
“No,” the girl said, in a soft, lilting voice that showed that she could not only understand him, but speak his language. “Please, continue.”
Arathy hesitated but the girl squared off her shoulders and shoved a fist into her mouth to mask any cry that she might make, leaving Arathy no choice but to take a deep, slow breath and raise the damp cloak corner again to dab at her back.
He did his best to clean away the dried blood and soothe the sore flesh without hurting her, but every now and then the faerie would hiss in pain, or flinch away from his touch. Arathy didn’t blame her. Her once glimmering wings were gone and nothing remained but the stubs and sore and cauterized flesh. It had to hurt, but there was nothing that Arathy could do to except be as careful as he could.
And then his mother was calling him in for breakfast.

*

The barn where Kyther moved the faerie, to keep her out of his way, was draughty and cold and hung all over with tatty cobwebs that fluttered in the breeze, but at least it was private. He’d moved her there later that first day, and, since then, he hadn’t shown her any interest at all! Instead he’d left her care to Arathy and Rodir, after setting down his stringent rules: they were not to spend any time with her, other than to push her food through the small slot in the cage and to empty her chamber-pot; they were not to talk to her; they were not to look her in the eye, and they were not to touch her. Faeries were evil creatures, Kyther had said, and could cast a spell on a man just by looking at them, so they had to be very careful.
But in the days that followed Arathy couldn’t see anything about the faerie that seemed evil, in fact, she seemed rather vulnerable and sad. And, even though he knew that he should heed his father’s warnings and avoid her, he couldn’t help himself. She was an exotic creature, strange and mysterious, with her violet eyes, white hair and feline features, and he couldn’t keep away. He was captivated.
He tried to win her affection by taking her gifts: his mother’s healing salve, for the wounds on her back; a blanket, to keep her warm at night; a comb and a mirror, so that she could make herself look pretty; and food, that he stole from the larder and supper table so that she wouldn’t have to eat the table scraps that his mother set aside for her. And the faerie girl certainly seemed to appreciate his care and attention. After only a few days of coaxing she’d told him her name, Ash’ia, and had started to smile when he entered the barn. Soon after that she’d started to ask him how his day had been, and that had quickly led to a proper conversation and now, only a week later, Ash’ia had taken to telling him stories about her home and talked to him as if he was an old friend.
Arathy loved to hear her stories about her life back in the Faerie Realm. Although she avoided telling him anything that was personal about herself, she was full of tales of her brothers and sisters, one of whom was a scout in the Queen’s Army, a warrior, which Arathy found incredible. A woman fighting alongside the men! But, judging from Ash’ia’s stories, things were very different in the Faerie Realm. Women could rule, they could fight, they didn’t have to get married and have children, they were equal to the men and worked alongside them. Ash’ia had actually been horrified at the idea that, in the Mortal Realm, a woman was expected to stay home and raise children and she couldn’t understand why any woman would accept just this for herself. And it was these differences, and the stories that she told, that intrigued Arathy more than anything else and lured him back time and again to see her.

 

“It’s good to see you this evening, Arathy,” Ash’ia said, as Arathy slid into the barn. “I grow bored alone in here. It’s nice to have someone to talk to.”
“I brought your supper,” Arathy said, digging out the food that he had stolen earlier in the evening from his breech pocket. Ash’ia took it with a bright smile, her soft hand gently touching his as he passed them through the slot.
“Thank you.” She took a bite of the apple. “How…how much longer will it be until I’m taken to market, to be sold?” Her voice shook a little as she spoke but that wasn’t surprising. She had to be terrified of what was to come. Arathy knew that he would be, too, in the same situation.
“We’re taking you next week,” he said quietly.
“Oh.” Ash’ia’s mouth twisted. “Oh.”
“Will you be all right?”
“Would you?” she countered. “If you were locked away in a small cage, with no room to stand up, would you be all right? I can’t stretch my arms or legs, they’re so cramped that they’re a mass of pain.” Her violet eyes welled up with tears. “It hurts so much, that I’m actually looking forward to being taken to market! Can you imagine, I’m looking forward to being paraded around in front of gaping mortals, listening to their catcalls, being bid on as if I were a fine cow, just so that I can get out of this damn cage!”
Arathy swallowed. “I-I wish that I could let you out…”
“I know,” Ash’ia said, with a forced smile. “It’s all right. I do understand. I’m an exotic creature, a pet, I’m worth a lot of coin, you can’t take the risk that I might escape if you were to let me out for a bit.”
Arathy flinched as he shook his head. “No,” he said. “It’s not that. I can’t let you out. My father has the key for the lock and he keeps it with him all the time, I don’t see any way that I could steal it from him to be able to let you out for a little while. I’m sorry.”
“Oh.” Ash’ia’s gave him another weak smile. “It’s all right. I…I will be free of this cage soon enough and you have made it very comfortable for me. Thank you.”
Arathy laughed nervously. “My father would tan my hide if he saw half of this! I wasn’t even supposed to talk to you! He said you would put a spell on me!”
“No,” Ash’ia said sadly. “No spell. If I could use magic in such a way I wouldn’t be here now, away from my family, from my friends.”
Arathy blinked. “Yes,” he said. “Yes, I suppose that’s true.” He bowed his head, reaching through the bars of the cage to touch Ash’ia’s slim fingers gently. Her touch was warm, her fingers calloused beneath his. “You…you don’t blame me for this, do you?” he whispered. “I-I couldn’t bear it if you blamed me for all of this.”
“Why would I blame you?” the faerie asked. “You’re just a child, it isn’t your fault. Our people are at war, this is how your people fight, they kill our men, imprison and sell off the women and the children. It is one of your rules of war and I knew what might happen to me when I came to your world, I knew the risks. This is no one’s fault but my own.”
“I’m not a–” Arathy began, but he stopped before telling Ash’ia that he was fifteen, almost a man, and not a child. It wasn’t her fault that she hadn’t realised that, after all, she was a faerie, from a strange realm, she couldn’t understand how things were in the mortal realm and he didn’t want to make her feel bad by correcting her. “Oh,” was all he said instead, then there was a long pause as he tried to think of something else he could say, but in the end he just shrugged. “Will…will you tell me another story? About your home,” he added quickly.
Ash’ia smiled fondly at him as she shook her head. “It’s getting late, Arathy, your father will wonder where you are and I would like to eat my meal in peace. I will tell you another story tomorrow.”
“Can I get you anything? Do you need me to tend your bruises… or…or…”
“The stubs? No. No they’re fine, your mother’s healing salve did a good job, I would thank her for it, if she did anything more than spit at me.” Ash’ia yawned, a clear sign of Arathy’s dismissal. “Good night, Arathy.”
“Good night Ash’ia,” Arathy whispered, getting to his feet. With a heavy heart he left the barn, closing the door on the faerie firmly behind him.

*

Ash’ia was quiet as she carefully dabbed healing salve onto the large, fresh burn on her arm. It was starting to blister and it looked extremely painful. Arathy wouldn’t have believed it was caused by iron touching the faerie’s skin, if he hadn’t seen it for himself.
When he’d come into the barn that afternoon, following his chores, he had walked in on his brother threatening Ash’ia with an iron bar and mocking her with tales of what would happen to her when she’d been sold. Arathy had been furious, when he had seen his brother threatening his faerie, and told him to stop and threatened to fetch their father. But the older boy had just laughed and Arathy had lost his temper and struck him, the first time in his life that he had laid a finger against his bigger, stronger brother. It had taken Rodir by surprise, but, once he had recovered from the initial shock of it, he had struck Arathy back and the two had fought until the commotion had brought Kyther running.
When he could breathe easily again, Arathy had explained what had happened and the burn marks on Ash’ia’s skin, from where the iron had touched her, had been enough proof to convince Kyther that Arathy was telling the truth. He’d beaten Rodir for what he had done, called him all sorts of names, angry that Rodir had damaged his prize, then forbidden him from entering the barn again, leaving the faerie girl solely in Arathy’s hands, much to Arathy’s secret delight. But the look of pain in Ash’ia’s eyes, as he had returned to hand her the healing salve, had quashed that. He’d wanted to be the only one to take care of Ash’ia, but not at this cost. He didn’t like to see her hurt.
“Are you all right?” Arathy asked Ash’ia in a quiet voice. The faerie girl nodded her head, but the tears shinning in her eyes betrayed her. “I’m sorry about that…about Rodir…”
“No,” the girl said, “you saved me from him.”
“He wouldn’t have killed you! Just…just…”
“Tortured me?” Ash’ia shrugged. “I’m glad that you came in when you did. I’m glad that it was you who saved me.” She lifted her eyes. “Was…was it true what your brother said?” she asked in a quiet voice. “Am I to become a whore?”
“I…I don’t know,” Arathy whispered. “I have heard that there are brothels in the cities now, where a man can buy a faerie woman to bed…but Rodir was just saying that to be cruel. I’m sure it won’t happen to you. I’m sure that you will be well taken care of–”
Ash’ia’s face became very pale and pinched. “As well taken care of,” she said slowly, “as I have been here? Locked in a cage in a draughty barn, threatened with iron, mocked and called a…a monster?” Arathy swallowed back a tight lump that had formed in his throat and he slowly shrugged. Ash’ia’s jaw set. “You have been kind to me,” she said in a flat voice. “But I’m not foolish enough to think that I will always be so well looked after. I’m to be sold into slavery. If I’m lucky, I will be put on display like a prized animal, if I’m not, I will be raped day and night while men pay another man for that privilege! This is the life that awaits me and I don’t see why I should lie to myself and pretend it will be otherwise.” She tilted her head to regard Arathy with flat eyes. “But you can pretend it’s otherwise, Arathy, if it will make it easier for you to spend my blood money. You can pretend I’m well, with kind masters. You can pretend that I don’t miss my family and my friends, or my freedom, if it makes it easier for you and your family to enjoy your new farm tools or new clothes, or whatever else your father and mother purchase with coin for my life! You can pretend what you wish, Arathy, but do not hate me if I don’t do the same!”
“I-I could never hate you!” Arathy gasped. “And please, please, don’t talk like this. Ash’ia, please! You said that you don’t blame me for this, that this isn’t my fault!”
“I don’t blame you, Arathy,” Ash’ia said, in a flat, empty tone of voice. “I blame no one for my fate but myself.” She turned her back, presenting the still fresh scars from where her wings used to be. “Please, leave me. I want to be alone.”
“Ash’ia!” Arathy whispered, a protest, as a tight lump seized his chest. “Please, I’m sorry, but none of this is my fault! Ash’ia, you said yourself that it is a rule of war! It’s what we do! I-it’s not my fault…” But the girl’s back was a hard line and when she refused to even acknowledge him, Arathy had no choice but to leave.

*

Arathy could hear the sound of Ash’ia sobbing as he lay in his narrow bed and tried to sleep. He tried to ignore it, tried to pretend that he couldn’t hear it, but it was impossible. In the past week, since Rodir had attacked her with the iron bar, she hadn’t said more than two words to Arathy. She’d been detached, aloof. Arathy had tried to coax her out of it, tried to make her laugh, or even smile, but she’d barely acknowledged him until, that afternoon when, he had told her the news, that the following morning she was to be taken to market.
Then she had started to cry and she hadn’t stopped. Even now, in the dark stillness of the night, Arathy could hear her crying. He didn’t blame her for it, not for one moment, it had to be terrifying, to not know what awaited you, to be so helpless, to have no control over your own life. And, although Arathy felt sorry for her, for what she would face in the morning, he was relieved too. He was glad that she would soon be gone and he wouldn’t have to look at her or live with the guilt that came with having her trapped in the cage in the barn, because that guilt was incredible. Even though her eyes were violet and her hair was white, even though she had scarred and bloody stumps where wings had once fluttered in the breeze, she was little different to Arathy. She had a family, just as he did, and friends, and hopes, and fears. He found it impossible to see her as a monster, the way his parents did, he didn’t even see her as an exotic pet anymore. No, now she was just a sad, tragic figure and the sound of her crying tore at his heart.
Arathy rolled over, pulling a pillow over his head to try and mask the sound of weeping, only it seemed to be inside his head, echoing through his mind, heavy gasps, whimpers of pain, of misery. It was a never ending flood of tears and, in his mind’s eye, he could see Ash’ia, her pale face red from crying, her violet eyes watering, her slim body shaking. He couldn’t get the image, or the sound, out of his head, it was as though it was trapped there, like a captivating song, and nothing he could do seemed to shift it.
When it finally grew too much for him to bear, Arathy knew that there was only one thing left that he could do. He had to go and see her.
Arathy fumbled to strike his tinderbox, so he could light his lantern and see things more clearly, and then he reached for his clothes. He dressed quickly, his heart racing and his mouth dry, and crept out of his bedroom. He had to walk carefully, avoiding the creaking floorboards, as he made his way through the house, so as not to alert his parents. His heart was thundering inside his chest the whole time, like an insistent drum, and the only thing that drowned it out was the sound of the faerie girl crying.
“I want to go home!” the girl gasped, as soon as she saw Arathy. Her face was red, just as he had imagined it, her nose running; she looked a state, miserable and small. “I miss my sister and my mother!”
“I’m sorry,” Arathy said, setting down the lantern, before sinking to his knees beside the cage. He pushed his fingers carefully through the bars to try and touch her, hoping that would bring her comfort. “I-I really am. I-I wish things were different, I-I wish…”
“They will never find me, Arathy! My family. I sat here and I hoped and I prayed to the gods that they would find me, that somehow they would rescue me, but they haven’t come! They have left me here and tomorrow I will be gone and they will never find me!” She buried her face in her hands and her body shook with sobs that were so violent the iron disks on the cage rattled, clanging together.
With a heavy heart, Arathy got to his feet. There was nothing he could say, nothing he could do. He couldn’t help her. He turned to go, but as he was leaving he caught sight of his father’s tool rack and the glint of metal from Kyther’s work knife. Arathy had it in his hand, and was cutting the ropes that tied the iron disks to the cage, before he even knew it.
“What…what are you doing?” Ash’ia whispered.
“Setting you free.”
“Won’t you get in trouble?”
Arathy hesitated and then he shrugged. “Probably,” he said. “If my father finds out, but I’ll lie to him, tell him I don’t know what happened to you and maybe he’ll think it was someone from the village who released you. Someone who was jealous of the money he would have made from you. Even if he does discover it was me there isn’t a lot he can do. He can beat me, I suppose, but he has done that before. He may decide that I can’t be trusted and try to stop me going on patrol, or something. But I doubt he can actually do that. It is the law, after all, that all men of eighteen take their turn on patrol, to protect us all from the ‘evil’ fey.” He gave Ash’ia a quick smile as the last disk fell away and he turned his attention towards the lock.
“You will join the patrol when you come of age?” Ash’ia asked, sounding strangely calm.
“Yes,” Arathy said. “Of course.”
“And you will kill any faerie that you come across?”
Arathy hesitated before nodding slowly. “It’s war,” he said. “They’re the enemy.”
“Yes,” Ash’ia agreed. “It’s war. But you will not kill me?”
“No!” Arathy said, surprised that she’d even asked. “You’re a friend! I can’t kill you!” The lock broke and Arathy opened the cage and cleared away the iron disks so that she had a safe path to walk along. Then he stood back to watch as she climbed out of the cage and stretched her whole body, the way that a cat would after a nap.
“Thank you for giving me my life back,” she said, and her slim arms slid around him as she hugged him tight. “Thank you so much. Thank you for saving me.” She smelt of dirt and grime, her hair was lank against his face, and Arathy could feel the pounding of her heart, beneath her breasts that were pressed close against him. Her body was slim and all too real, all too warm, in his arms. She was all too real.
A sudden blast of pain shot through his back, making him cry out and pull free of Ash’ia’s grip. Blinking back the sudden flurry of tears that had filled his eyes, Arathy twisted his arm up behind him, seeking out the source of the burning pain.
And his fingers closed around the hilt of Kyther’s work knife, buried in his back.
Arathy gasped, with surprise and pain, and collapsed to his knees with a bone jarring jolt. His mouth was full of blood, it was thick and salty, and when he coughed, dark red droplets sprayed onto the ground. “Why?” he asked. It was all he could think of to say. Tears burned in his eyes and his vision was cloudy as he struggled to stare up at the faerie woman he had considered a friend, the faerie woman who had just taken his knife from his hands and plunged it into his back.
Ash’ia only shrugged. Her violet eyes were suddenly dry and they were clearer and calmer than Arathy could remember them being before. They weren’t the eyes of Ash’ia, the frightened faerie in the cage, now, no, these eyes were cold and calm and they regarded him impassively as he collapsed onto his side, gasping like a fish out of water. “It was nothing personal, Arathy,” she said. “In a few years you would have joined the patrol with your father and killed any of my kind that you came across. I have just saved a few lives by taking yours.” She stepped over his fallen body as she headed towards the barn door. “It’s a rule of war, Arathy, to never leave a live enemy behind you. That’s all it is, a rule of war.”


About the Author

Fran Jacobs lives in the UK and graduated from the University of Nottingham with a Masters degree in Ancient History in 2001. She now lives in Swansea where she runs an online gothic website, Megaera’s Realm. Fran mostly writes fantasy, with a penchant for the darker side of it, and her stories have been published in a variety of magazines including Forgotten Worlds, Nanobison, Chaos Theory: Tales Askew, Neo-opsis, Alien Skin, Dred, Art and Prose and a Tangled Script of Intangible Soul Engravings.

You can read more about her past achievements and future projects on her website:

http://www.franjacobs.com

You can also keep track of her books on her author page:

Books by Fran…

Ellenessia’s Curse Series

Book 1: The Shadow Seer

For generations prophets have foreseen the birth of the Shadow Seer, the oracle of dark visions and fallen kingdoms. But by the time of Sorron, King of Carnia, their warnings have mostly been forgotten and his name is known only to a handful of scholars.

When Sorron’s grandson, Prince Candale, falls deathly ill, the Seer’s legends are brought to light once again by his saviour, a witch named Mayrila. She believes that Candale is the fulfilment of those long forgotten prophecies.  She believes that he is the Shadow Seer…

 

 

Book 2: The Seer’s Tower

Prince Candale has discovered the truth about himself at last.  He is the Shadow Seer, foretold prophet of dark visions and fallen kingdoms.  The witch Mayrilla tried to teach him control, but now she lies dead, struck down by Candale’s own hand, and the ever-watching shadow has begun to talk.

It wants him to go the kingdom of Idryan, to the Seer’s Tower, and tells him that what he will learn there will change everything. It promises rewards, if he obeys, but punishment if he does not.

But is it the voice of the demon, Ellenessia, that talks to him, a voice to be obeyed, or just the beginnings of Candale’s prophecised descent into madness?

 

 

 

New Fantasy Anthology (3 short stories) ebook Release (May 2017)

Writers Exchange is happy to announce our latest book from Courtney Lynn Mroch, backstories for our existing book, Beneath the Morvan Moon

The Clock, the Cloak and the Needles: The Stories of the Enchanted Items from Beneath the Morvan Moon

Author: Courtney Lynn Mroch

Genre: Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1-925191-17-2

Word Count: 12, 696

In Beneath the Morvan Moon, a cloak made of wolf’s clothing factors heavily into the plot. The cloak possesses the power to transform a man into beast. The cloak’s story, as well as that of a clock and a pair of knitting needles, are enchanted items with stories of their own. Stories finally shared together in one collection.

PRICE: $1.99

 

RELEASE DATE:  9 May 2017

New American Civil War Historical ebook release!

Writers Exchange is thrilled to announce our latest book by Dr Herb Marlow…

Winchester Battles Series, Book 1: Winchester Doctor

Author: Herb Marlow

Genre: Historical: American Civil War

ISBN: 978-1-925191-16-5

Word Count: 34, 137

Jonas Slaton, M.D. is a local Winchester, VA doctor when the Civil War begins. Because of its proximity to Washington D.C., and its many productive farms, the Shenandoah Valley is of vital importance to both North and South, and it will be fought over many times during the conflict.

The story opens in May 1862. At that time the Union Army under General Banks is occupying Winchester, but Stonewall Jackson’s Valley Army is still intact, and expected to attempt to retake the town.

Preparing for the first Battle of Winchester, Dr Slaton invites a number of people to stay in the safety of his house for the duration, including the newly met storekeeper’s sister, Elaine, whose spell he instantly fell under…

Many medical and surgical techniques from the time period are described in the book. All historical characters and places are accurate, and the history of the battles is well-researched and clearly explained.

PRICE: $2.99

 

RELEASE DATE:  8 May 2017

Faxinor Fantasy ebook Series by Michelle Levigne

Faxinor Chronicles Book 1: Heir of Faxinor

Author: Michelle Levigne

Genre: Fantasy/Fantasy Romance

ISBN: 978-1-925191-16-5

Word Count: 81,372

When Andrixine falls ill and spends the winter recovering at Snowy Mount, a community of holy folk, scholars and healers, she never dreams it will be the first step of an adventure that will change her life. But her illness came from a murder attempt, and the same enemy tries to kill her traveling party on the way home.

When she seeks a weapon to rescue her mother, she is chosen by the mystical Spirit Sword to lead in the defense of her country, Reshor, against its ancient enemy. First, she must rescue her mother and uproot treachery from within her own castle and family. The friends she gathers along the way become her closest allies and supporters–and she is surprised when friendship with a young warrior turns into something more.

PRICE: $2.99

 

Faxinor Chronicles Book 2: Lorien

Author: Michelle Levigne

Genre: Fantasy/Fantasy Romance

ISBN: 978-1-925191-20-2

Word Count: 82, 062

Lorien vows to do whatever it takes to serve Reshor and protect her pregnant sister, Andrixine, the Sword Bearer. Even if it means making a loveless political marriage. She learns that the game of politics and courtly manners is a harsher duty than swordplay and battle. Then Ambassador Lord Arand of Eretia comes to Reshor to make politically astute marriages to protect his kingdom against Sendorland. He has been ordered to win Lorien for his queen’s grandson.

Arand and Lorien discover they have much in common and their resolve to put duty ahead of their own dreams soon becomes a torment. Arand has a gift for healing and music, but has denied both for the sake of following family tradition and serving the throne as an ambassador.

When enemies inside Reshor conspire with Sendorland to steal first Lorien’s brothers and then Andrixine’s newborn sons, Lorien and Arand find themselves in the middle of danger, but exactly the right place to avert total disaster. They wonder if all their sacrifices mean anything when they are both so miserable. Doesn’t Yomnian want his servants to be happy?

PRICE: $2.99

 

Faxinor Chronicles, Book 3: Traitors

Author: Michelle Levigne

Genre: Fantasy Romance

ISBN: 978-1-925191-26-4

Word Count: 74, 077

Lord Edrix Faxinor regretted his brilliant diplomatic insight the moment he realized it landed him in the role of ambassador to Sendorland, the hereditary enemy of his country, Reshor. Still aching from the death of his betrothed, he set sail in the hopes of bringing peace between the two warring nations.

Arriena of Traxslan was the lowest of the low–a poor relation, living on the charity of her domineering, cruel cousin, Lord Mordon Traxslan. She had dreams of being a scholar, despite the “sin” of being born a woman, with supposedly limited intelligence.

Then her cousin offered Arriena a chance to have some choice in her future–but it could cost her life. Because she resembled Faxinor’s dead betrothed, she was ordered to enchant and ensnare him, to give Sendorland power over him, and force him to betray Reshor.

Arriena had grown up unable to trust anyone. Could she trust Edrix with the truth, and possibly her heart? To save Arriena, could Edrix risk becoming a traitor?

PRICE: $2.99

 

Faxinor Chronicles, Book 4: Sword of Faxinor

Author: Michelle Levigne

Genre: Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1-925191-15-8

Word Count: 97, 074

 

PRICE: $2.99

The Faxinor family prepares to travel to Eretia for the birth of Lorien and Arand’s first child. Their sea voyage is an adventure as they learn about sailing and legends of the seafarers. More than just pirates and enemy nations hide over the horizon and beyond the next wave.

Then a legend rises from the deep waters and before he knows it, Derek is overboard and then stranded on another ship, separated from his family.

Captain Silas of the Sea Storm is willing to reunite Derek with his family, but legends and visions and the laws of the seafarers interfere.

Prophecy and visions guide the crew of the Sea Storm, and what starts out as an accident might just be the hand of Yomnian as Derek has a chance to recover the ancestral Faxinor sword, as well as help his new friends and allies. He is reminded of the visions of his grandfather, who saw all the Faxinor children spreading light throughout the world.

 

New Fantasy ebook release (May 2017)

Writers Exchange is thrilled to announce the latest book in Michelle Levigne’s awesome fantasy series…

Faxinor Chronicles, Book 4: Sword of Faxinor

Author: Michelle Levigne

Genre: Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1-925191-15-8

Word Count: 97, 074

The Faxinor family prepares to travel to Eretia for the birth of Lorien and Arand’s first child. Their sea voyage is an adventure as they learn about sailing and legends of the seafarers. More than just pirates and enemy nations hide over the horizon and beyond the next wave.

Then a legend rises from the deep waters and before he knows it, Derek is overboard and then stranded on another ship, separated from his family.

Captain Silas of the Sea Storm is willing to reunite Derek with his family, but legends and visions and the laws of the seafarers interfere.

Prophecy and visions guide the crew of the Sea Storm, and what starts out as an accident might just be the hand of Yomnian as Derek has a chance to recover the ancestral Faxinor sword, as well as help his new friends and allies. He is reminded of the visions of his grandfather, who saw all the Faxinor children spreading light throughout the world.

PRICE: $2.99