He would have been a challenge…#SnippetSunday #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

If only pumpkin spice could solve pandemics, we’d be golden right now. But at least the weather pleasant, temps are cooler, the morning starts later, coffee is still just as tasty. And your TBR pile might be getting smaller. Or perhaps not. My personal experience is that I cross two off the list and add three more.

Today, as promised, we will meet the third member of the central trio of Quest of the Dreamwalker, the first book in my Corthan Legacy series. To do that, we need to skip ahead a little bit.

In this snippet, Falin meets Cara and Khoury for the first time. Cara and her companions have been captured by the Huntresses of Foresthaven, a druid enclave deep in the Tanglewoods where men are forbidden. Any man found trespassing will pay the ultimate price.

When Falin burst upon the scouts and their captives, she was surprised to find the Outsiders still standing and unbloodied. Even more surprising was the small pale wisp of a girl standing between Rebeka’s sword and one man’s throat. The girl was shaking in fear, but her defiance had certainly cost Rebeka some respect. Falin smiled at her rival’s embarrassment, knowing her own presence there only fanned the flames of the chief scout’s anger.

“It was an error. All is well in hand,” Rebeka pronounced in an imperious manner. “We don’t need you, little sister.”

The “little” irritated Falin almost as much as Rebeka’s manner, but she would nurse the offense in silence as she always did until the next time they crossed blades in the sparring ring.

Falin sheathed her weapon and relaxed. “As you say, Rebeka,” she replied, purposely forgoing Rebeka’s new title. She placed her hand over her heart and executed a cursory bow that barely met the requirements of protocol.

Ignoring the slights, Rebeka turned her attention back to the Outsiders which gave Falin a chance to study them. She was curious, having seen so few. Most travelers knew to avoid their woods, and she had only participated in a handful of Cullings herself. but when Falin caught the gaze of the white-haired girl, it was like a knife to her bones.

The girl was slight and weak, her fear palpable. Falin felt a surprising tug of pity, something she’d never been prone to. Startled by the encounter, she steeled herself.

Ever a Huntress, she told herself. There is no place for weakness here, hers or mine.

Of the men, the one who’d asked to see the Elders was older, his once-auburn beard braids now grizzled with gray. His carriage reminded her of Sorchia. There was also a younger red-haired warrior. Brawny and muscular, he had a well-worn bow slung across his back. And then there was the last man, the one the girl was trying to protect. Falin caught his eye for a mere moment but would never forget the intensity of blue that peered out from beneath his dark brows. Battle-scarred and muscular, he stood with confidence and a leader’s dispassion. His strength made Falin smile. He would have been a challenge. Too bad he’d be culled like the rest.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this moment from Quest of the Dreamwalker which is available as an ebook, on KindleUnlimited, on Audible, and as a paperback. Be sure to also check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook Group for more authors and their stories.

See you next week! Have fun and be good!

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You’ll end up regretting it… #SnippetSunday #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

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The days are getting shorter! It’s dark when I wake for my day job now. Of course, they will change the clocks on me again soon but I suppose that’s okay. The days are getting shorter for Cara too. But not in the seasonal sense.

Last week I shared a snippet from Cara’s first real confrontation with the sorcerer she calls Father. I’m not sure if it’s breaking any rules, but I’d like to give you more of the story starting there. I hope you enjoy it!

“Mason Khoury?” she feigned ignorance, her mind scrambling for a way out.

“Yes,” her father sneered. “The last thing in that little thief’s mind was you saying that name.”

Cara couldn’t breathe. This was impossible. “But how?”

“The ritual. You didn’t suspect?””

She shook her head, speechless with shock.

“There are no secrets in my Keep. Whether you tell me now or during the ritual, eventually I will find this Mason Khoury.” His finger traced the track of a wayward tear down her cheek, and his hand came to rest threateningly on her throat. “You know Carter was not a very nice man. He killed his wife, among others.”

Was that who her father was now? Reith Carter, wife murderer. She wondered about all the men he had feasted on How many had been like Archer andhow many like Reith? “I honestly don’t remember saying anything to him.”

Father stared in surprise. Then his face contorted with rage. “How dare you.”

Cara tried not to flinch.

“Have it your way. In two days, I will drain this Northerner while you watch. And believe me, I will make him suffer. Then, it will be your turn and I will discover the truth.”

He stood up and went to the door, but paused to turn and look at her. “Do not become attached to creatures whose only purpose is to serve me, girl. You’ll end up regretting it.”

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Thank you for coming by today. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Quest of the Dreamwalker. Next week, we will meet the third member of our triad, the defiant huntress. Look forward to seeing you then. Enjoy the weather and stay safe, everyone!

Also if you didn’t get here via Facebook, be sure to check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook group for other writers and their works. You’ll find some real gems there!

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Not a warm, fuzzy kind of father… #SnippetSunday #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

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It seems that autumn is finally at the door, although I know one can never be totally sure. Weather is chaos after all. Still this is my favorite time of year! (And, no, it’s not because I’m fond of pumpkin spice – I actually don’t like it in my coffee.) But still a brisk cool morning after a slightly longer night just feels exhilarating.

Last week I started sharing snippets from Quest of the Dreamwalker. We met the captain, Mason Khoury, now let’s meet our heroine. Cara is a meek young woman who, at the start of the novel, doesn’t even have a name. Her father merely calls her Daughter. As you will see, he’s not really a warm fuzzy kind of father.

“When she opened her eyes, Father stood before her. Reith Carter’s death had restored the old man’s power. His face was fleshed out, his hands smooth, his height restored. And there was a dangerous gleam in his eye.

“What mischief have you done, girl?”

She shrank back in the chair, the book sliding from her lap as he leaned down with a cruel smile. She didn’t need her gift to tell her Father was not himself. Sometimes the ritual did this. He would become another man for a time, often a violent one. And at such times, she feared him with good reason.

“What have I done?” she protested, stalling for time as her heart pounded like the wings of a bird against the cage of her ribs.

“Do you deny consorting with prisoners?”

She knew the question was a trap. Neither a confession nor a simple lie would placate him, and she froze.

“Well? Answer me.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“You can do better than that. C’mon, lie to me,” he hissed. With a flick of his finger a whip of flame lashed her arm, raising a blistered welt and making her cry out in shock.

“In the dining room, I heard a voice,” she whispered, hoping to placate him with truth. “I was curious. You saw me. But I left when you told me to.” Tears dripped from her lashes. His nearness was suffocating.

“That wasn’t hard,” he said, drawing back. “Was it?”

She shook her head slightly, not trusting his sudden ease.

“It was the red-haired one, wasn’t it?” he said as if refreshing his memory, though she doubted he needed to. “A strong man, indeed. I’ll enjoy killing him.” Then her father gripped the arms of the chair, trapping her in her seat. “But I think you’ve neglected a part of the story.” Little angry curls of smoke rose from the fabric beneath his hands to dance between them.

“There’s nothing more to tell,” she said weakly.

He slapped her cheek and gripped her chin with hot fingers, forcing her to meet his glare. His breath was foul.

“No?” he asked. “Then who is Mason Khoury?”

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Thank you for coming by today. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Quest of the Dreamwalker. Next week, we will meet the third member of our triad, the defiant huntress. Look forward to seeing you then. Enjoy the weather and stay safe, everyone!

Also if you didn’t get here via Facebook, be sure to check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook group for other writers and their works. You’ll find some real gems there!

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#SnippetSunday A win is a win… isn’t it? #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

Happy September! It’s back-to-school time for many of your families. My last student started her third year online at home with hopes that we can return to a more normal college experience for Spring Semester.

Here in New Jersey, this weekend also marks the end of the “official” beach season. I hope all of you who are taking a vacation now remember to keep safe and healthy. But at the same time enjoy the sun, the rain, the friends and probably booze and barbeque.

With the change of seasons, I thought I’d start sharing Quest of the Dreamwalker, my debut novel that was out originally in 2016. I am working hard on the sequel which has quite a bit of work to do on it before it will be ready for you all, but rest assured it is 80% written and definitely the next thing I publish.

I feel it’s always good to start near the beginning. This snippet comes from Chapter 2 where we meet Mason Khoury, Captain of Swords. He and his crew have just finished a mission but victory isn’t what it used to be for the captain.


“A bulky Northerner with tawny eyes and auburn hair dropped heavily into the only other chair. Grinning, he slammed three brews down on the table, sloshing the ale across the stained wood, the stacked coins and Khoury’s arms.

“Damned sloppy drunk.” The captain scowled, shaking the ale from his hand.

The Northerner’s name was Reid Tarhill, but he insisted everyone call him Archer. In a profession rife with haunted pasts and best-forgotten deeds, it was common enough for a man to choose a new name. Khoury knew that better than most.

“Better sloppy than morbid,” Archer said, fixing the captain with a pointed stare. “Cheer up you old sourpuss.”

Violet stifled a chuckle, and the captain’s scowl deepened.

Archer ignored Khoury’s displeasure, sliding one mug to the captain and the other to Violet. “Anyone looking at you would think we got drubbed good and proper,” he said. “But we got paid, didn’t we?”

“That we did.” Khoury eyed the gold glinting dully on the table.

Blood money, he thought. Nothing but blood money.

His ghosts would be ashamed.

Thank you for coming today. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Quest of the Dreamwalker.

For those of you who prefer to listen to your stories (as I do), Quest of the Dreamwalker is also out on audiobook. There is a sample of Chapter 1 for your listening pleasure here, on my YouTube Channel where I also have some playlists of music I use when writing. In case you’re curious.

Be sure to check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook site for other writers and their works.

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#ThursThreads “Time’s up, Cadet!” #timetravel #flashfiction

I found myself not working my second job this Thursday. Such a delight. Even better was that it gave me a chance to join Siobhan Muir’s #ThursThreads flash fiction party on her blog. Life is good!

The door clicked shut as we entered the pale-walled room. My “outfit” waited on a lonely table. Slowly, thoughtfully I deposited my mum’s pearl earrings and Charles’s gold band next to it with an ache in my chest.

“Guess this is it.” I choked on those emotions I never imagined I would feel right now. I’d been so sure of my calling.

“Oh, ma girl,” Dad said, laying a trembling arthritic hand on my cheek, his brogue thickened by the emotion of the brief ceremony. “Ye’ve really done it. Ye’re a Traveler, true as Mary.”

“But is that good or bad?” I whispered, throat tight and eyes blurring, trying not to regret my choice.

“It’s good,” he said with forced cheer. “What yer doin’. The things ye’ll fix.”

I shrugged. The Paradox Bureau was new after all, the science of time-skeins still sketchy. I might be risking my life to find I made history worse.

“We’ll see,” I said, sounding so much like Mum I wanted to cry.

“You’ll look great in this though,” he said, touching the neatly folded sequined dress they’d issued me.

I attempted a smile but ended up somewhere between skeptical and sad. 

“Not really my style, though,” I murmured as I took it behind the tiny dressing screen, shucked my Cadet’s uniform and donned the flapper dress and silk hose.

When I returned his grey eyes were mistier than a foggy mountain heath as he said. “A brave heart never goes out of style, lass.”

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#SnippetSunday An impending quarantine and we know what that’s like…. don’t we? #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

I’m so sorry I missed you all last week. The hurricane sweeping up the East Coast had me without power or internet throughout the weekend. But we are back up and running now. And boy is it nice to have HOT showers and COLD milk. I hope all of you have escaped the majority of 2020’s darts but we have a few months to go and the news just mentioned a fire tornado. My goodness, things are crazy!

Well, what better way to evade that stress than by reading a good book? Let’s get a snippet from Tales of the Archer. Unfortunately, it seems Reid is having a 2020 summer as well. In this scene, the trading party Reid narrowly avoided joining returns early with bad news. Some of them including Reid’s brothers have taken ill and it looks bad for Bear Clan. How will he keep Maura safe now?

“They took sick early on, but we didn’t head back until we’d sold the hides.”

Tarhill’s face was uncharacteristically soft as he helped Connor get Maclan to sit up. Bradan and Maura helped the others. Of the three, Mac was obviously the sickest.

“Let me see him,” Ingrid said as she examined Maclan, feeling his neck with knowing gnarled hands, peering into his bloodshot eyes, and listening to his chest. She turned his palms up and then shook her head muttering to herself. “Where did you say you were?”

“We’d gone east; got to Dunballe. They took sick that first night. Saved coin on the horses and hawked the skins for a day or two.” Tarhill shot a disgruntled glare at the Seal men.

Connor swayed, bumping into Reid.

“You okay?” Reid whispered.

Connor offered a weak smile. “I am feeling a bit off, if you must know.” Then, Connor crumpled to the ground.

Ingrid and Tarhill both turned as Reid hefted his brother up and sat him next to Maclan. Ingrid checked Connor as she had Maclan and stood back with an unhappy look.

“Take them home,” she said. “Get them in bed straight away. Have Brigga come fetch a tonic in the kitchen.” She wiped her hands on her skirts. “No one is to see them, understand? No one but me.”

Reid helped Connor, and Tarhill carried his eldest up the path to home. The welcoming villagers fell back in hushed dismay at their approach.

Behind him, Ingrid’s grim words to Bradan sent a chill up Reid’s back. “It’s the Trembling,” she said. “Shutter the village.”

Thank you for coming today. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Bear Clan and be sure to check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook site for other wonderful writers and their great books.

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#SnippetSunday Do it… for all of us. #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

Happy August! The summer is just racing away! I hope you and yours have been blessed with good health, most importantly. But some fun too. If you can’t get out, this is an awesome time to make headway in your #TBR pile. I know I’ve been doing that just to feel like I’m not stuck at home.

So here is another teaser from Tales of the Archer just for you. Archer’s father wants to drag Reid away from Maura on a trip south to sell hides, but his mother is pushing for him to stay. What Reid doesn’t understand is why.

“We’re only taking the small ones today and skinning the rest.” Maclan released the carcass, dragging it clear, while Reid moved to reset the trap.

Mac grabbed his arm. “No, pack it up.”

“Tarhill will…”

“Be in Cortland with me.”

“Okay, what’s going on?” Reid demanded as he pried up the long pegs that held the trap.

“Not sure what you mean.” Maclan slid the skin from the muscle, turned it fur side out and fastened it to the sledge. Then he took the trap from Reid and lashed it to the sledge as well.

“I’m not that stupid. None of you want me to go south.”

Mac eyed him sternly. “Are you saying you want to go?”

“No, but—”

“Then leave it at that.” Mac grabbed the leather strap of the sled and strode off through the brush.

Reid hurried to catch up. “Is this about that rogue?”

“It’s about much more than just a bear,” Mac said wearily. He eyed his younger brother thoughtfully, then said, “My advice? Court Maura and win her if you can. For all of us.” Maclan started back up the slope.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Reid grabbed Mac’s arm.

“You don’t… need to know,” Mac said obviously uncomfortable with the conversation.

“But I deserve to,” Reid snapped.

Maclan stopped and looked skyward with a long-suffering sigh. “I can’t say you’re wrong about that.”

Thank you for coming today. I hope you enjoyed this little piece of Bear Clan and be sure to check out the Snippet Sunday Facebook site for other writers and their works.

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#SnippetSunday Two hunters, one prize. #Sundayblog #freeread #fantasy

Thank you for coming back, avid adventurers. It’s my birthday weekend, so there is cake and drink for everyone. Don’t forget your party favor, a little snippet from Tales of the Archer just for you. In this teaser, Archer has some competition in his bid to woo the chieftain’s daughter.

A hand’s depth of soft needles swallowed their footsteps. Loam and pine tingled in Reid’s nose. He glanced back at Maura and was greeted with an eager smile. It was odd to see her in leggings for a change, a knife at her belt. She impressed him with how easily she kept up, the two of them agile and quick as children through the brush. He pointed to the top of the rise and she nodded.

They crept to the ridge and down below five deer grazed contentedly. Reid unslung his bow and sighted a medium-sized animal. He breathed slowly, releasing the soft breath through parted lips, sure of his aim.

Then the sharp crack of a branch sent the herd bounding away.

“Damn!” Reid cursed under his breath and whirled to find Gilland standing sheepishly behind them.

“Sorry,” the other boy said. Then, “Hello, Maura.” Gilland’s smile was almost sly.

Reid glanced at her, wondering if she’d planned the meeting…

Too bad for Reid. Missing out on some private time with Maura. You’ll have to read (or listen to) it to find out what happens next.

Again, don’t forget to check out the other talented folks in the Facebook Snippet Sunday group for teasers from their writing treasures.

Tales of the Archer is a companion novel I wrote delving into the history of one of Quest of the Dreamwalker’s main characters: Archer. It is out on #Audible, narrated by the multifaceted Zachary Johnson.

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