Manhattan antiquities appraiser Annalisse Drury dreams of a quiet life on the family farm among the sheep she loves, when her best friend is murdered. The police assume robbery is the motive because her friend’s expensive bracelet is missing. But the 500-year-old artifact is rumored to carry an ancient curse, one that unleashes evil upon any who dare wear the jewelry created for the Persian royal family—and Annalisse believes her friend is the latest victim.
Weeks later, Annalisse sees a necklace matching the stolen bracelet at a gallery opening. Convinced the necklace is part of the deadly collection, Annalisse begs the gallery’s owner to destroy the piece, but her pleas are ignored—despite the unnatural death that occurs during the opening. With two victims linked to the jewelry, Annalisse is certain she must act.
Desperate to keep the gallery owner safe, Annalisse reluctantly enlists the owner’s son to help—even though she’s afraid he’ll break her heart. Wealthy and devastatingly handsome, with a string of bereft women in his wake, Greek playboy Alec Zavos dismisses Annalisse’s concerns—until his parents are ripped from the Zavos family yacht during their ocean voyage near Crete.
Annalisse and Alec race across two oceans to save his mother, feared dead or kidnapped. As time lapses, the killer switches mode and closes in on the man who’s meant for Annalisse with the lifestyle she wants most.
But when it’s her turn as the hunted, will she choose to save Alec and his mother, or sacrifice everything to save herself?
Hold on for a heart-thumping adventure through exotic lands in this fast moving, romantic suspense mystery by Marlene M Bell.
Marlene M Bell is an acclaimed artist and photographer as well as a writer. Her sheep landscapes grace the covers of publications such as, Sheep!, The Shepherd, Ranch & Rural Living and Sheep Industry News. Ewephoric, her mail order venture, began in 1985 out of a desire for realistic sheep stationery. A color catalog of non-fiction books and sheep-related gifts may be requested at www.marlenembell.com or www.texassheep.com.
Marlene and her husband, Gregg reside on a wooded ranch in East Texas with their 50 head of Horned Dorset sheep, a lovable Maremma guard dog named, Tia, and 3 spoiled cats who rule the household.
Title: ANIMAL GRAPH Author: M. Black Pub. Date: June 7, 2017 Publisher: M. Black Pages: 157 Formats: Paperback, eBook
NOW A SCRIPT FOR MOTION PICTURE 06/2017. SCRIPT REQUESTED TO REVIEW FOR FEATURE FILM DEAL BY TWO COMPANIES 07/2017.
ENTER A WORLD OF ANIMAL GRAPHS in this SciFi FANTASY DYSTOPIA that is also called a “YA AMAZON POST-APOCALYPTIC
never-before-seen-concept in a kind of HUNGER GAMES meets DR. Moreau!”
GET LOST WITH JIN IN A WORLD OF EXOTIC ANIMALS, LANDSCAPES, RIVERS, WARRING GROUPS, AND AN EVIL RULER. When prisoners are experimented on by the ruler of the Americas, after a nuclear war, their cells are grafted with cells and neural tissue from animals of the Amazon. Release to be hunted in the Amazon, to train soldier, Jin finds another Graph like herself named Adan and the two have to survive the Amazon if they are going to live.
Immerse yourself in the gorgeous and dangerous Amazon, find new creatures, learn about new exotic countries, travel the highlands, savannas, and plateaus in this breath-taking, page-turning book, ANIMAL GRAPH.
“AN ACTIVE AND EXCITING STORY THAT WOULD BE ENJOYED BY YOUNG ADULTS AND MATURE READERS. M. BLACK PACKS IN A LOT OF INTERESTING CONCEPTS. FANS OF DYSTOPIAN FICTION LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES WILL ENJOY THIS VERY CREATIVE STORY.” -Netgalley
“WOW! WHAT A CONCEPT! I CAN SAY THAT THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK OF THIS KIND THAT I HAVE READ.” -Amazon Reader
“THIS WAS AN AWESOME STORY. IN THE APOCALYPTIC FUTURE THEY ARE EXPERIMENTING ON PRISONERS.” -Amazon Reader
“M.BLACK’S ANIMAL GRAPH IS MORE THAN A DYSTOPIAN TALE FROM THE CREATIVE GENIUS OF THIS AUTHOR’S MIND. IT RAISES THE QUESTION OF SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, OF LIVING IN HARMONY AND QUESTIONING WHAT IF THE ODDS ARE ARTIFICIALLY STACKED AGAINST THESE NEW CREATIONS.” -Netgalley
“ANIMAL GRAPH TAKES A FRESH AND INTRIGUING LOOK AT ANIMAL-HUMAN PAIRINGS” -Avid Amazon Reader
“THE CHARACTERS HAVE EXTRAORDINARY ABILITIES FROM THEIR ANIMAL GRAPHS, BUT THESE ALSO COME WITH WEAKNESSES. IT’S A REALLY GOOD BALANCE.” -Netgalley
“IT IS GOOD, VERY STRANGE ON ONE HAND YET THRILLING AND EDGE OF YOUR SEAT! I LOVE THE BEGINNING WHERE THE READER IS IN THE ACTION FROM THE START! I ALSO LOVE THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE GRAPHS.” -Reader Review
“THIS BOOK HAD ME HOOKED FROM THE BEGINNING.” Netgalley
“YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW AUTHORS WHOSE BOOKS LEAVE ME WANTING TO READ MORE OF YOUR BOOKS.” -Amazon Reader
“GOOD STORY! I DIDN’T WANT IT TO END!” Amazon Reader
“I HAD ANXIETY ATTACKS WITH JIN. IT REALLY BOTHERED ME THAT I HAD TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN TO DO NORMAL THINGS LIKE EAT. LOL.” -Amazon Reader
My feminine bottom slides down the wet, slippery cliff at the end of the path of foliage, dropping me forty meters into the abyss below where I thrash, arms flailing about me in a sure drown, water gulping down my tight throat in a struggle for air. My long, auburn hair is drenched to my side like a second skin. I barely know how to swim, but I have no other choice but to sink down where I won’t be seen. They’re on my trail and the choking gas has almost reached me.
Glancing skyward, under a thin layer of water, I see a cake of the pinkish fog choke the plants and moss above, that grows off the dark stones there—the only elegance out here. Water cascades into a beautiful waterfall toward me in a steady stream, and I hear the loud fog horn-like sound from my pursuers alerting everyone in the vicinity that I’m nearby.
They’ll need to find me before sundown or risk encountering the savage wildlife of the Amazon rainforest, like Radguars, a mutated form of the Jaguar which began to appear after the radiation hit. No one ever lives after facing one. They’ll tear a man to shreds.
I hear them coming, five of them—they always come in fives—their thick boots hitting the forest floor in a scratch-scratch as they approach the end of my path. I’m not even sure how I do this—hear them. The distance is more than thirty meters away and the rush of water interferes with my ears. I never would have been able to do this before they took me.
Taken in the middle of the night by Borran’s soldiers while asleep in my cell, a two-by-three-meter room in which I’d been locked for a year, since I was sixteen, after I’d stolen a loaf of bread from a village vendor. Too many of us end up behind bars for petty crimes, to ensure as a whole we comply with the laws. When they registered me for prison, they scanned the bar code on my upper arm, denoting my full name, region of residency, and any prior arrests. I didn’t have priors before, but now my bar code will always show I was in prison.
About the Author:
M.Black is Ami Blackwelder and writes for the brand ENTER TOMORROW. She is a Montessori teacher, helps the deaf and hard of hearing, is an avid Pescetarian, believer in animal rights and wildlife conservation, and a lover of books. she is the author of the never-before-seen-concept Animal Graph, and dubs herself the ‘Robot Girl’ since many of her stories revolve around robots and A.I. She has a Siamese cat names LOTUS from Thailand when she was an educator there and he show sup in all her robot books. She adopted a cat named Ash in the States who also shows up in all of her robot books. She loves reading on Kindle Unlimited and only buys paperback. She enjoys many vegetarian dishes like veggie lasagna and four bean chili. She also likes watching movies, gardening, the beach, and hanging out with friends. Of course most of the time you will find her at home, pounding away at her computer.
The She-Wolf of Kanta
by Marlena Frank
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Release Date: April 17th 2018
Legion Imprint of Radiant Crown Publishing
“A pair of yellow eyes caught the moonlight and locked onto hers.”
Mercy has always dreamed of becoming a werewolf trapper like her father. In Kanta, one must learn how to survive one way or another. A dark-skinned, blue-eyed young beauty, Mercy understands that she brings out the beast in monsters and men. When a routine werewolf delivery turns into a vicious assault from a pair of human traffickers, Mercy’s life changes forever. Somehow she must endure in a dangerous city where women and werewolves are hunted.
It’s no secret that slaves have always been treated terribly. They had their freedom and autonomy stripped away from them, they had no power or rights, and they certainly had no one to protect them. If you were considered a disruptive or unruly slave, then the consequences were far worse.
When I was younger, I found a book describing how terribly slaves were treated in the Caribbean islands. It had a graphic illustration of what was done to slaves who had attempted to revolt but failed. Now I know the term of that punishment was punitive limb amputation, but at the time I was simply horrified by it. I didn’t keep track of where the image came from, the location of the drawing, or even what book it showed up in, but it stuck with me for years.
Occasionally I would search for more information on that illustration, wondering if maybe I dreamed it up. All I could find was information on the fact that punitive limb amputation existed during that time, but no more than that. I could find nothing about how it was used as a punishment for disruptive slaves or how they were then forced into physical labor groups, probably until death.
When I started writing The She-Wolf of Kanta, the illustration once again was clear in my mind, and I knew I wanted to integrate it somehow within the story. If werewolves were used as this slave labor instead of people; on the surface it may seem more acceptable, but werewolves were also once humans, right? Isn’t it easier to persecute people who we claim are animals, monsters, or somehow beneath us?
Punitive limb amputation is no longer happening in the Caribbean, but it is happening in the world today. Considering that human trafficking is still a major concern in the United States (and especially in my home city of Atlanta, GA), it’s important to bring this dangerous kind of thinking to light.
About the Author
A writer of both fantasy and horror, Marlena’s work is in a smattering of anthologies. Her stories lean toward weird horror, creature horror, and YA fantasy. She typically thinks up strange tales while sipping sweet tea at her Georgia home, listening to podcasts on her hour-long commute, or while reading a good book with her three cats.
The Phantom of New York, volume 1 – Peter and the Crown
by A.L. Janney
Genre: MG/YA Adventure
Release Date: December 2017
‘This is a story about vigilantes and magic.
About prophecy and hope.
About a boy and his hotel.
When twelve-year-old Peter Constantine wakes up in the Crown Hotel with a new identity, life is over as he knows it. But perhaps that’s not such a bad thing…
A dangerous man Peter only knows as “The Client” is after his family, so they’ve relocated to New York City. With help from unlikely friends living at the glamorous hotel, including the ghost on the tenth floor, Peter’s new life begins. Soon, however, he learns of a plot to destroy his new home, a plot only the Phantom can foil.
Peter and the Crown is the first book in the Phantom of New York series, an adventure for readers aged ten and up. If you like smart, funny characters and “can’t put it down” escapades, then you’ll love Alan Janney’s Phantom of New York series.’
Chapter Two – The Brown-Haired Baker Girl
On the morning of his fourth day at the Crown, Peter realized with a shock that someone was banging on his bedroom wall. From the other side.
Manos was working on Mr. Banks’s stove, and Jovanna had left for the Laundry, and Peter was lying in bed feeling sorry for himself when the soft banging began. Peter placed his ear against the wall.
A voice on the other side said, “Boy? Boy! Are you still sad?”
Peter jumped to his feet, standing on top of the bed. Unless this hotel was magical, walls didn’t talk. It had to be someone in another room. He pressed his face flat again to listen.
“Are you ever gonna come out? What’s so great about your room?” the voice asked.
Could this person be talking to Peter? It certainly seemed so because Peter was a boy and Peter had decided to never leave his room again. But who—
There was a sharp WHACK on the wall.
“Boy! Answer me!”
Peter gave the wall a soft tap with his knuckles and held his breath.
Winner of the 2016 National Indie Excellence Award!
You work hard.
I write adventures.
Let me entertain you.
My favorite adventurers: Ender, Frodo and Sam, Rand, Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, Katniss, Spenser, Peter and Alicia and Amy (from The Passage), Jack Ryan, Dirk Pitt, and many others, including my two sons and my super hot wife.
by Kristin Ping
(Guardian of Monsters #1)
Publication date: May 15th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Paranormal
Ethan Sutcliff seems like a normal seventeen-year-old—at least that’s what he’s trying to portray. In a secret society run by the Supernaturals, Ethan is what witches call a Bender. Benders are Witches’ Guardians, who are able to control a witches’ ability, bend it, or move it away from harming humans. In Ethan’s case, he is able to bend the Earth element. But at the age of fifteen, he lost all connection to it, and the reasons behind it could only mean one of two things: His Wielder is either dead, or hiding out somewhere.
Alex Burgendorf has been living in her aunt’s locket for the past sixteen years with her mother—a Fire Wielder, and her father—a Water Wielder. For sixteen years, her parents vowed to protect her, and they have, as she is the last Earth wielding witch. However, time is running out. Alex must find her Bender, or the fate of the Supernaturals might be at stake.
Before Sentinels it was just earth Wielders. That was how powerful they were and Ethan was the lucky boy that was going to be part of that. He was going to become the next earth Wielder’s protector in every way possible.
Tears formed in Ethan’s eyes, but he refused to let them roll down his cheek. He tried so hard to live up to his element, to be strong and special.
Sad that the boy didn’t know how strong or special he already was. Maybe it was my fault as a father, as a parent.
I wanted to tell Natalie that she should stop making him feel so terrible. He was just exploring. But what good would that do? We would just end up fighting again. I was so tired of our fights. Shoulders slumped, I turned to go inside. That was when I heard the roar of engines.
The hair on my arms and neck stood straight. Adrenaline poured into my blood like jet fuel and my heartbeat skyrocketed as I turned to see Natalie running toward me across the yard, jerking little Ethan along by the hand.
“Get rid of them. Now.” She shouldered past me into the house.
No one had seen what Ethan had done, right? No, it wasn’t possible. Was it?
Three black Jeeps and a silver one careened into the driveway, spitting gravel behind their shiny black tires. I leaped off the steps but then composed myself. With great effort, I slowed to a sedate walk. I had to try to make this farmhouse seem like any other sleepy home on this continent—even though it was far from it.
Who are these people? What are they doing here?
They weren’t Necrocretors. Necrocretors didn’t use Jeeps or SUVs to make their entrances. Whoever they were, they were driving fast. Too fast.
As they pulled closer, the sun glinted off the tinted windows and blinded me. Then when they turned an angle, I saw it. It was the outline of a barrel.
I dove for the willow. Bullets shredded bark above my head. Splinters and sawdust flew everywhere.
My back was firmly against the tree, safe from the bullets, or so I hoped. Thank goodness he grew a fully mature tree, I marveled. Otherwise I’d be dead.
I recited words that hadn’t touched my tongue in years. I carried them in my skin on my tattoo, across my chest, close to my heart. A phrase scribbled in Latin that I’ve learned at a very young age: Estque vel me vel.
Its meaning was simple: It is either them or me.
If someone had to die, it wasn’t going to be me.
I took out the Zippo in my back pocket, closed my eyes, and used my diaphragmatic breathing exercises to calm my heart.
More gunshots sizzled overhead. Bits of the porch railing and the willow bar exploded. The air filled with the scent of sulfur and singed wood.
Kristin resides in South Africa with her husband, two beautiful girls and two bulldogs that tries to eat her house.
She has been writing for the past eight years and her first debut novel, Hinder: A Bender’s novel will be published 2018 by Fire Quill Publishing.When she isn’t writing, she is spending her time with her family, or trying to teach her two bulldogs to not eat her house. You can find more about Kristin at www.authorkristinping.com
Readers fell in love with Anne Tinning, a maid in 19th century London, and Lord Grey, the master of a haunted manor. THE ROSE MASTER sequel continues their journey in another hauntingly beautiful tale.
Blurb coming soon.
The Rose Master
The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it.
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.
“In this Gothic fantasy, Cano evokes both Beauty and the Beast and Jane Eyre while creating something new and strange. Cano does a beautiful job of setting mood and atmosphere, and her characters dance around one another with relentless industry and brooding allure, fighting their inevitable attraction. This is a strong, satisfying effort.” ~Publishers Weekly on THE ROSE MASTER
About the Author
Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best Of the Web.
Rage of the Dragon King (The Chronicles of Fallhollow #2)
by J. Keller Ford
Publication Date: October 24, 2017
David and Charlotte paid their dues. They traveled to another realm, battled the Dragon King, recovered the all important magic key to the mage tunnels, and found the heir to the throne of Hirth, as promised. Now it’s time to go home. There’s just one problem: the powerful crystals needed to activate the tunnels have been stolen…and David’s parents have mysteriously disappeared along with them. Guess who’s not going home to Havendale anytime soon.
Eric Hamden, squire extraordinaire, survived the poisonous knick of a shadowmorth’s blade, rescued the king of Hirth from the bowels of the dragon’s lair, and confronted a heartbreaking betrayal that nearly got him killed. Still reeling from the news, Eric sets his sights on a daring rescue only to wind up in a prison of his own with David and Charlotte at his side. But rescues come in strange ways, and before they know it, the three end up in David’s hometown of Havendale…and Eric gets a quick schooling in Modern Life 101. He’d rather fight a dragon.
With secrets, lies and betrayals meeting them at every turn, David, Charlotte and Eric soon discover that Havendale isn’t the sanctuary they’d hoped for. Even their best-laid plans can’t prepare them for the danger that stalks them. This time, no amount of magic or prayers can save them. War has been declared, and in the final battle, someone must make the ultimate sacrifice. Let the battle begin.
J. (Jenny) Keller Ford is a scribbler of speculative fiction and YA tales. As an Army brat, she traveled the world and wandered the halls of some of Germany’s most extraordinary castles in hopes of finding snarky dragons, chivalrous knights, and wondrous magic to permeate her imagination. What she found remains etched in her topsy-turvy mind and oozes out in sweeping tales of courage, sacrifice, honor and everlasting love.
When not torturing her keyboard or trying to silence the voices in her head, Jenny spends time collecting seashells, bowling, screaming on roller coasters and traveling. She is a mom to four magnificent and noble offspring and currently lives in paradise on the west coast of Florida with a menagerie of royal pets, and her own quirky knight who was brave enough to marry her.
Published works include The Passing of Millie Hudson, a paranormal short story that can be found in READING GLASSES. IN THE SHADOW OF THE DRAGON KING is her debut novel and the first installment in the Chronicles of Fallhollow Trilogy. Book 2 in the series is slated for Fall 2016.
by Elizabeth Foster
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery
Release Date: October 2017
This was her last chance. Her hand twisted high in the air.
When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the impulsive reaction of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother – so why can’t she?
But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.
After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all…
‘If any of you can show just cause as to why these two should not be lawfully wed, speak now, or forever hold your peace.’
Fifteen-year-old Esme was seated in the front row, only a bouquet’s throw away from her father and his bride at the altar. The events of the last few months flashed before her, and the years before them. This was her last chance.
Her hand twisted high in the air. ‘I object.’
Somebody tittered behind her, but covered it quickly with a cough. Whispers and murmurs spread from pew to pew. The groom swung around toward his daughter, the colour draining from his face, before his bride steered him back to the altar. The vicar merely sighed, ignored Esme’s objection, and carried on with the ceremony.
Esme lowered her hand and shrank back in her seat, her cheeks burning as if she’d just been slapped. The rest of the service passed in a blur: the vicar inviting the bride and groom to exchange vows; his pronouncement of them as man and wife; the church organ, wheezing out a hymn as the newlyweds signed the wedding register.
All Esme heard was static.
‘I’m sorry, Mum,’ she whispered, as the organ breathed its final note.
“I found the story very unique […] this book overtook my expectations […] A beautiful, fantastical mystery. I would love to read multiple books following this one.” – Tamsyn, 15
“I was enchanted by the world, awed by the creatures and as motivated as Esme to find out what happened to her mother.” – Angie, 14
Esme’s Wish is a captivating, excellently-written novel. Author Elizabeth Foster did a great job of keeping me reading as I followed Esme’s journey to investigate the disappearance of her mother, a brilliant painter. […] This colorful, well-constructed tale is as much detective story as fantasy and deftly blends both elements into a page-turning plot that hooks the reader in. I was fascinated by the creative water world of Aeolia, described in Elizabeth Foster’s limpid, seductive prose. –Sarah Scheele for Readers’ Favorite 5 STARS
About the Author
Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee. Esme’s Wish is her debut novel.
Check out this awesome book entitled Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson. Be sure to check out an excerpt and author links as well!
LOVE AND LONGING IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LONDON
When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.
There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which isinfinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.
But this is London, colourful and crazy, and withactor Sebat her side,there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.
When the time comes totake the stage,will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?
A coming-of-age novelabout family and first love,in the city of hopes and dreams.
The Tube from Turnham Green is quiet, until we reach Earl’s Court, where it starts filling up. By the time we get to Victoria I’m in a scrum spilling out onto the platform. I find the Victoria Line platform and shoe-horn myself into a carriage; Seb would be proud of my elbow action.
At Oxford Circus I’m carried by a sea of shoppers up the escalators, across the foyer and up some steps to the street level. I’ve managed to come out the right exit, opposite the flagship Topshop. The massive store calls to me. Now that’s where to buy a dress for the tribute. Simple and trendy. I dread to think what Thisbe’s wardrobe department contact is going to make me. Something showbiz, I guess: long and loud and sparkly. Ugh.
But I don’t want to offend Thisbe, who’s called in a favour, apparently, to get me a dress sewn so quickly. So, with a sigh, I turn my back on Topshop and trudge down Argyll Street. When I see the Palladium, like a classical temple with massive columns,my mood lifts. At least I’m getting to visit one of London’s most historic theatres, where anyone who’s anyone has performed over the years, from Elvis Presley to Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald, Elton to Adele – even The Muppets have taken to this stage. I wonder: will I get to stand on the stage?
Nope, is the answer. I don’t even see the auditorium. A security guard shows me from the foyer down into the underbelly of the theatre, to a small, windowless room made even smaller by its many contents: two dressmaker’s dummies, a hanging rail of costumes, shelves of fabric and haberdashery, and a desk for the sewing machine. I barely have time to make a mental comparison of this room and the wardrobe department at the Royal Opera House – in a big room overlooking the Piazza and flooded with light – before a girl springs out from behind one of the dummies and hugs me.
Thankfully, it’s brief. She steps back and beams. I smile back automatically, and in a second I take her in: round, rosy face, electric-blue eyes, dark wavy hair. She’s a little older than me, maybe twenty, and wearing stylish jeans and a really unusual shirt covered with little embroidered seahorses.
“You’re Cara Cavendish?” I say, daring to hope that maybe my dress won’t end up being horrendously glitzy after all.
“The one and only,” she says cheerfully. “And you’re Ava-who-needs-a-dress. Thisbe explained. Sit, sit…” She pulls out a little stool from under the desk and I perch on it.
Cara walks around me in a circle, eying me up and down. “Easy-peasy,” she declares. “Dancers’ forms are so simple to dress.”
“Oh,” I say. “I’m not a dancer.”
She completes her circuit and leans on the desk, looking curiously at me. “But you’re Beatrice Duvall’s daughter,” she says.
The name gives me a jolt, but I manage to reply evenly: “That doesn’t make me a dancer.”
“’Course not,” says Cara. “I mean, my mum was an architect, and look at me! But I heard you were training to be a dancer like your mother. With the Royal Ballet.”
“I was. I… stopped.”
“Oh. Why was that then?”
I frown at Cara. She smiles back at me.
“Did Thisbe put you up to this?” I ask.
“Up to what?”
“All the questions.”
“Oh, no. That’s just me. My brother’s always telling me I’m blunt, because I don’t go in for all that evasive British crap – ignoring the elephant in the room. Better to lay it all out there and say, ‘My mum’s dead, and it sucks.’ You know?”
“Not really,” I reply honestly. I’ve never said those words in my life.
Cara nods like I’ve said something profound. Then, to my relief, she claps her hands and says, “Let’s talk dresses.”
After a quick-fire round of questions designed to establish my style, Cara hands me a scrapbook in which she’s pasted cuttings, photos and drawings of formal dresses, and she talks me through cuts, lengths, necks, sleeves and fabrics. Somewhere around the midi dress page I begin to come undone.
“What is it?” she says.
“Nothing,” I say.
“Something,” she says. “You look like you’re about to have a panic attack. Is it claustrophobia? This room is a little dinky.”
“It’s not that. It’s…”
She waits expectantly. I gesture to the scrapbook.
“It’s just all a bit real, suddenly, looking at these dresses. I mean, I’ve got to wear one and stand on a stage at the Royal Opera House in front of people. Lots of people.”
“Ah,” she says. “Yeah, I’d be a wreck doing that. But you’ve performed on stage before, right?”
“Sure. Plenty of times. But this isn’t a performance. I have to be myself. I mean…”
“You mean you have to be your mother’s daughter. And your mother was the legendary Beatrice Duvall.”
Startled, I nod. She gets it. I don’t even know this girl, but she gets it.
“So,” Cara says, plucking the scrapbook off my lap and leafing through the pages, “what you need, besides the strength to get on that stage, is a really kick-ass dress. A dress that makes you feel tall and powerful and goddam beautiful, like nothing can touch you while you’re wearing it. Ah-ha. Here. This one. What do you think?”
The dress illustration jumps right off the page. It’s bold, it’s simple, it’s glamorous, it shouts “designer”: a strapless bodice with criss-crossing satin ribbons and a flowing skirt with chiffon overskirt ending just on the knee.
A kaleidoscope of ideas… Memories of performing on stage. The years I lived in Kensington, London. The many shows I’ve seen in the West End. A backstage tour of the Royal Opera House. The public reaction to Princess Diana’s death. My own experience of losing my mother.
What draws you to this genre?
Young adult: the time of life that most signifies discovery and sensation and freedom. Dreaming big; confronting reality. Being trendy; being quirky and out of step. Messing up gloriously; succeeding epically. First crush, first kiss, first love. Making memories that will last a lifetime.
Why do you write?
Because writing makes the blood sing in my veins; it makes me feel alive; it defines me. Because I’m a bibliophile, and the only thing better than having a book in my hand is having my own book in my hand. Because I want to entertain, inspire – and leave a legacy for my children.
About the Author:
Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did. Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte writes the kind of books she loves to read: romances. She lives in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children, and when she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a home library for her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.
Chosen by R.S. Broadhead (The Urban Legends Series) Publication date: October 24th 2017 Genres: New Adult, Supernatural, Thriller
Black eyes. No emotion. No sympathy. Only emptiness.
Piper McAdams’s life was normal. Career? Check. Boyfriend? Check. Friends? Check. One unsettling run in with a homeless man turns everything from normal to terrifying. She begins seeing…things.
Things she can’t seem to explain or make any sense.
As if things aren’t already getting out of hand, Piper receives news that the only family member she has is dead. She thinks maybe a trip across the country to her hometown will get her away from all the strange events happening.
After a late night accident, Piper isn’t in her hometown burying her loved one. She’s in a town called Hell. All she wants to do is leave, but the people seem to be holding her there for some reason.
A reason she feels threatens her life. Around every corner things become darker and scarier.
The room was silent, which meant a busted air conditioner. I dropped back into the pillow with a grunt, wiping sweat off my forehead.
The people of this town should seriously think about closing this place. It’s shit. At least they needed to make sure everything was maintained on a regular basis.
I closed my eyes trying to remember the dream I’d been having. My heart skipped a beat when an image of Taylor played before me. My stomach fluttered at the mere feeling the dream had given me. I sighed, rolled over, and desperately tried to find my way back to him. Something bumped against the far wall. I jerked up, searching the room.
The sound must have come from the room next to me. But Jensen had said no one else was staying here. I leaned against the headboard, waiting for it to repeat. After a few minutes of silence, I slipped out of the bed and went to the window. My hand tightened over the hem of the curtain. I barely moved it to the side and peered out across the empty parking lot. The fabric fell back into place as I dropped my hand.
I was still tired. My scolding eyes and inability to fully comprehend what I was hearing told me that — not to mention still being freaked out from today. I was imagining things. I stared at the wall; a tiny bit of light splashed against it from outside. I walked across the matted carpet, dirt sticking to my bare feet. I stopped, putting my ear against it. My heart beat rapidly. I didn’t want to hear anything, but I would toss and turn all night wondering. I held my breath and focused.
I jumped back as a phone rang from the next room. What the…? They’d told me the phones weren’t working. The ringing stopped, and I heard a deep sound. A voice. I swallowed, once again pressing my ear to the wall.
“She was asleep last time I checked.” Silence.
“I know how important this is. I’m not going to let her out of my sight.” Silence. “Okay, okay. I’ll check again. I’m telling you I just looked.”
I sunk back against the corner next to the door. A tiny piece of wallpaper shifted up a few feet from where I stood, directly in front of the bed. Tears rolled out of my eyes as I clamped a hand over my mouth to keep from whimpering. I didn’t wait for whoever it was to answer the person on the phone. I ripped the door open and tore down the sidewalk in the direction of the office.
About the Author
R. S. Broadhead lives in Jackson, Alabama with her husband of ten years, their two little girls, and a pug named Wednesday Love the Duchess, or Winnie for short. She has a bachelor’s in psychology and a master’s in business administration. She loves to snowboard, travel (Australia is her favorite place so far), and dance (not professionally, just whenever she feels like it). When she was sixteen-years-old, her and her friends would take pictures and make up funny stories about them. Fourteen years later, UNVEILED was born. UNVEILED, her first novel, is the first book in a four book series.