Spotlight & Excerpt: Strange Things Await + Giveaway

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Strange Things Await
Virtus Academy, #1
by Jamila A. Stone
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, LGBTQ
Publisher: Black Glory Publishing House
Date of Publication: April 2019
ISBN: 978-1-7339717-6-8
ASIN: B07QN8W9YH
Number of pages: 288
Word Count: 98,270
Cover Artist: Michael Corvin

Book Description:

At Virtus Academy a boarding school for the supernatural, the students are not your average High Schoolers. They might go through some of the same social problems, these students are powerful and many dangerous. From vampires, witches, werewolves, and werecats these youngsters must learn how to navigate classes and other species who might on the outside of campus be a natural enemy.

Virtus Academy’s walls are going to be shaken up this year as they never have before. Not only do the walls have to contend with two young Sophomore witches (Natalie King and Alexandra Aurelius) who despise each other so much so they constantly wage war against the infrastructure, there’s a monster on the loose killing students.

Will these two witches who once were best friends rekindle that friendship in time to help each other through all that’s about to hit them this year? Or will they fail to unite even after a mutual friend of theirs get captured by the same monster killing students?

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Excerpt:

The night had felt better and it came from that one kiss she had shared with the dashingly handsome vampire who fought hard for her. For Nat, it capped off the beautiful night even with Hamilton humiliated and leaving with promises of getting her, she couldn’t help but feel somewhat proud of herself.

Doing her bid to avoid more drama from the other kids, she had chosen the alternate route leading to her dorm room, cutting through the almost worn off pathway just behind the rave house, heading north with the dorm house not yet in sight. It was going to be within her reach as long as she continued on her path for another ten minutes.

It was at that moment everything slowly began to feel odd. The air changed, followed by an uneasy feeling growing down her spine in form of tingling sensation which she had come to trust to mean that trouble was heading her way. It was something her mother had always asked her to watch out for; the sixth sense embedded into witches right from their time of birth.

“What now?” a rather embattled and worried Nat asked herself. She wished she had taken the normal quick route.

“Is anyone there?” Nat asked turning to her left, nothing. She clung unto her purse tightly.

The air grew colder, and fog soon began to fill her surrounding oddly.

She began to quicken her steps and managed her breathing so her hearing could remain focused and sharp enough to pick up any odd sounds. The sounds came in plenty; from leaves being rustled aggressively, to twigs being stepped on and snapped. Yet, Nat choose not to look back; she couldn’t deal with the thought of having a bunch of vampires hunting her down on Hamilton’s behest.

“Russel!” she called out softly, wondering if she should have taken his advice and allowed him to walk her to her dorm before heading to his.

All she could do was to keep her unsteady breathing pattern steady as possible, while her feet walked as fast as they could carry her.

Yet, the dorm room seemed further away the more she attempted to get closer. In fact, for the past five minutes, she had managed to walk on the same spot without realizing it until she stepped on a large trunk of wood which had almost tripped her and then she first realized she was being tailed by someone.

“Witches!” Nat sounded in fear and mumbled underneath her warm breath.

Her lungs stung and her eyes burned as the fog slowly began to clear and grant her vision of her surroundings.

“One…” Nat counted the incoming figure from her left before looking around. “No… two… three… four!”

“I don’t know what you want but I’m not going down easily!” she declared with her fists raised barely keeping them up. School grounds were supposed to be safe.

One to her left cackled in a dark laughter, while the others simply closed in without giving off any sound asides the crunching sound from the snapping twigs and dried grasses beneath their feet.

“This should be fun,” one of them mumbled.

Another cut right in, “She seemed to have a lot of spark in her earlier.”

Nat’s mind raced wildly with thoughts and her entire body grew numb as the four finally came to full view. She stared at them one at a time and felt her inside walls collapse as she struggled to figure out what exactly it was that she was dealing with.

“What are… what are you?” she stuttered, noticing the same faces staring right back at her.

The four figures were impossible to tell apart and they donned nothing different as regards to their clothes nor their faces. She had never come across such an anomaly in her life and it threatened to topple her to the ground just by the eeriness of things.

Boxing her in, one stepped closer and smiled right into her face. “What’s the matter little witch? You never seen perfect shape shifting before?”

Nat had never come across their kind before. She had indeed heard of them, but they never showed themselves out in the open a lot.

“But… but…” she stuttered.

“News flash!” another replied. “We aren’t as hidden as many would believe.”

Feeling the one to her left shove her hard to the ground, the four slowly transformed into girls of the same liking before turning into elderly men as they morphed their skin and facial features impressively, before finally settling to their initial look. It sickened her stomach and she was about to feel even more nauseated as they drew closer.

“We won’t hurt you,” one promised.

“We just want some sugar,” another joked.

Nat struggled to fight them off with punches, but they succeeded in pinning her down regardless. With her hands pinned on either side by two of the shape shifters, one stood watch and the fourth slowly began slipping his pants down, Nat forced her hands free and ripped her nails into the fourth’s face, causing him to shriek in pain as he struggled with his already fallen pants.

“You bitch!” he cried, yanked at his belt and began to wrap it around his knuckle.

Yet, she wasn’t done and upon sighting a large branch in the nearby bush, she waved her hand at it and watched it levitate but not convincing enough in the air, while her captors laughed and made a mock of her. Feeling her anger fueled, she swung hard with every intent possible within her bones and the branch struck one of them in the face immediately.

It would be the act that got them even more enraged, and most notably, the one she had struck.

Nat watched his fast swinging hand reach her face, and suddenly knock her into a barely conscious state. He still wasn’t done. He came swinging hard for the second time, but his fist didn’t connect as something seemed to hold him back against his will. A glowing light, burning brightly in the distance approached and seemed to startle the shape shifters who turned their attention to the person.

“Leave the girl alone!” a feminine voice warned.

“This isn’t any of your business bi…” one of the shape shifters had barely spoken when he started to clutch his throat with both hands.

Nat watches her assaulter choke and her savior approach in a steady walk, Nat managed to make out fuzzy images from her somewhat swollen eye from where she had been punched. They weren’t having a good time with whoever had come to her rescue. The girl bore what appeared to be fire in both hands, before ramming it hard into one which caused the others to slowly crumble to the ground in agony.

“Show your real self you coward!” the girl demanded.

The four bodies slowly began to merge into one, while the single figure coughed and slowly got to his feet with a rather enraged look on his face.

“Who do you think you are?” he asked.

Lunging forward and hammering down Nat’s savior, Nat could only attempt to crawl towards the fight to try and assist but it proved more difficult than she had imagined it would. Her spine felt stiff and her joints were unresponsive. Her rescuer seemed to be in trouble as the huge framed attacker now in his true form reached for a rock to his right and threatened to hammer it down on the girl he had pinned to the ground.

“Watch out!” Nat felt herself scream and try to warn the other girl.

Thankfully, the girl had managed to draw out a silver knife from within her boot, rammed it hard into the shape shifters’ chest which sent it squabbling backwards in a painful roar. It struggled to hold the knife as he felt it burn his hands as he continued to growl then began to burn violently from the magical knife jammed into his heart.

Nat felt her heart threaten to give way. Sweat rolled down her face immediately as she came to the realization that someone had just killed for her. Her hands trembled while her weakened frame struggled to get back into a sitting position but found it to be almost impossible. The blow to her head not only left her with impaired vision but some way left her struggling for balance.

“You shouldn’t try to overly exert yourself,” the feminine voice said before laying her hand to rest on Nat’s forehead. The voice is familiar.

Nat could hear the girl mumble words she recognized to be mild healing spells. Warmth quickly spread through her face and around the wound, causing it to close back up.

“You’re good as new,” she said, gently backing away while she held her hand out for Nat to grab hold of.

Nat opened her eyes and looked up at her savior, Alexandra, who slowly began stepping away.

“Alexandra!” another girl in a low-cut top came rushing through. “Oh my god, what happened?”

“Alexandra? Why the hell would she come to save me, she hates me,” Nat thought with a soft gasp.

Alex motioned for her friend to remain where she was, before leading Nat out from the dark woods and turning around upon getting to a more lightened clearing leading towards the dorm. Nat motioned to speak with her, but Alex obviously wasn’t interested in having a conversation. It was typical of Alex after all and after all those years, she still seemed to have a chip on her shoulder.

Nat felt rather happy to have been saved by her, though somewhat sad by the situation of things between her and the girl she used to call her best friend.

About the Author:

Jamila A Stone lives in Washington, D.C with her two dogs. Jamila is driven to tell stories without censorship and for the continued creativity in the world of literature. As an African American woman, she understands the lack of opportunity persons of color have to let their artistic creativity be seen on equal platforms, so she created her own publishing company called Black Glory Publishing House. She thinks not just of herself but of the current and future of literature namely increasing the diversity and inclusion within the literary community.

Website / Twitter / Facebook

 

 

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Captured in Paint + Giveaway

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Captured in Paint

by Ann M. Miller

Word Count: 63,815
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 234
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, FANTASY, ROMANCE, YOUNG ADULT, YOUNGER READERS

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Paintings can stir emotions, but for Julia, emotions bring paintings to life…literally.

Ice Princess.

That’s what the kids at St Peter’s High call seventeen-year-old Julia Parsons, the girl who doesn’t show emotion. But that all changes when Julia loses the protection of her late mother’s charmed necklace, and the emotions that have been locked deep inside her are unleashed. Now, after years of priding herself on being calm, cool and collected, Julia is forced to accept two life-altering revelations—she can feel just as deeply as any other teen and her emotions can make paintings come alive.

As Julia struggles to control her ability, she discovers that her boyfriend, Nick, is trapped inside a mural that she herself created. She enters the wintry world to save him before it’s painted over but quickly realises that a mysterious force is keeping Nick tethered to the work of art.

Unless Julia can learn how to harness the power of her new and unfamiliar emotions, they won’t make it out of the painting alive.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of underage characters drinking and using strong language, as well as a brief reference to smoking.

Excerpt

Luke Mercer’s eyes latched onto mine as he strode into history class. I looked down quickly, but I could still feel his gaze. It wasn’t like the sympathetic and curious looks my other classmates gave me. At least they had the decency to seem embarrassed when I caught them glancing my way. Luke had been watching me with cool disdain, his blue eyes never wavering.

He paused as he passed by my desk. I kept my eyes on my notebook, willing him to sit down.

“Please take your seat, Luke,” Ms. Davis said.

He uttered a low, sarcastic laugh and slid into a desk in the next row over.

Luke had transferred from Westdale Collegiate to St. Peter’s High for grade twelve, but it was mid-September and he’d only started attending classes two days earlier. People were saying it was because he’d just gotten out of juvie.

I hunched over my notebook, intent on ignoring him. As I doodled with my right hand, the fingers of my left automatically lifted to touch the silver chain that always hung around my neck. My fingertips only grazed bare skin.

Letting out a sharp gasp, I fumbled with my collar, but I still couldn’t feel the chain. I dropped my pen and frantically ran both hands over the front of my shirt, hoping my locket had just fallen off and got snagged in the material. It hadn’t.

I bent over and searched my backpack. It wasn’t there, either.

Somewhere between home and school, I’d lost the locket. How could I not have noticed? It was one of the few things I had left that tied me to my mother, and now it was gone—maybe forever, just like her. As the thought crossed my mind, my chest tightened in a way it never had before, squeezing until I felt like I was going to explode. A lump rose in my throat, and I was struck by the overwhelming urge to cry.

I never cried. I’d always been good at keeping my emotions in check. Even in the days and weeks following the fire, I hadn’t shed a tear. It was like this wall of numbness surrounded me, keeping me from really feeling.

Now, with the discovery of the missing locket, that wall had come crashing down.

With my heart thumping wildly against my ribcage, I barely noticed when Principal Tobin came on the PA. For a couple of minutes, his voice sounded far away as he read through a list of announcements. But then his tone changed, taking on a sombre note that made me sit up a little straighter. “And now I have a very important piece of news to cap off today’s announcements. As you all know, we lost one of our students this past summer. Nicholas Allen was a bright, motivated young man who was honoured with a Young Humanitarian Award for his fundraising campaign for victims of the Alberta floods. He also…”

No! I screamed in my head. Don’t talk about him.

But, of course, Mr. Tobin couldn’t hear my silent plea. He kept talking about my dead boyfriend, listing his achievements like a proud father.

Suddenly I couldn’t breathe. Something was lodged in my windpipe, cutting off all my air.

“And now,” the principal continued, “Nicholas’ parents are collaborating with the Red Cross to set up a scholarship fund in his memory. If you would like more information, you can contact…”

I’d known about the scholarship because Mrs. Allen had called to tell me about it before school had started. But I had not been expecting to hear about it over the PA today. Hadn’t been expecting Nick’s name to be boomed out across the school just as I was trying to keep it together in the wake of losing my locket. Talk about a double whammy.

I needed the wall again, needed to build it back up and use it as a buffer against the flood of emotions. But the pieces of that wall lay at my feet, and I didn’t know how to put them back together.

I couldn’t ignore the images of Nick that popped into my head—tall, lean, handsome Nick with the crooked smile and caramel-brown eyes that could send butterflies skittering through my stomach, even after two years of dating. But I would never see that smile again. He was gone, just like my mother. Just like the locket.

Stop it, I commanded myself, desperate to put an end to the chain of despondent thoughts. You can beat this.

My mother had taught me some techniques to use if my emotions started to run rampant—simple things like taking slow, deep breaths, counting to ten or recalling a happy memory…affirmations. I’d never had to use any of them…until now.

I took a series of deep breaths and hoped that I would find my equilibrium.

But the deep sadness and regret only grew, pouring over me in waves as Nick’s face floated in my mind’s eye.

My face grew warm. The walls of the classroom were closing in on me. I desperately wished I was somewhere else, somewhere I could be alone, where I could breathe in lungfuls of fresh air.

An image of a field of poppies began to take shape in my mind. I didn’t have time to wonder where it had come from because a wave of dizziness struck me.

Black spots flitted across my vision, and the classroom began to spin.

I closed my eyes.

“Are you all right, Julia?”

The concerned voice of my history teacher reached me through the dizziness. When I opened my eyes, the spinning sensation stopped as suddenly as it had begun. My racing heart started to slow as I fixed my eyes on Ms. Davis. I took another deep breath, and this time I was able to push back the grief that had nearly consumed me.

“I’m fine, Ms. Davis,” I said. My voice was loud and clear, but my hands were shaking. I wasn’t sure what was worse—the fact that the layer of numbness had been peeled back, exposing my emotions…or feeling like I was going to faint. What was wrong with me today?

The eyes of my classmates burned into the back of my head. Whispers swirled around me. They were gossiping about the fire, of course, wanting to know more, wondering how I was.

They could wonder all they wanted, though. I wasn’t talking about it.

“Quiet, please,” Ms. Davis said.

She waited for the whispers to die down then cleared her throat. “Today we’re going to start by talking about the St. Peter’s Mining Disaster of 1938. Does anyone know what happened?”

“It was a methane gas explosion, right?” Tina Myers answered. “It killed most of the miners.”

“That’s right. And what was the significance of the disaster?”

“Uh, a lot of people died?” piped up Ron Freeman, the school’s track-and-field star. He was swift on the track but not so much in the classroom.

Laughter rang through the room. Ms. Davis sighed. “Other than that, Mr. Freeman. What was the significance of the event in terms of a historical context?”

Emily Saunders shot her hand up.

“Yes, Emily.”

“It meant the end of the iron ore industry in St. Peter’s.”

“Exactly. After that—”

“Actually,” Scott Reese cut in, “I think the real significance is that the survivors went nuts.”

There was a collective groan from the class.

“Come on, you guys. You all know the stories. They saw some pretty crazy things as they ran out of the mine.”

Emily tossed her red hair. “They were probably delusional.”

Ron scratched his head thoughtfully. “They were all delusional? I don’t know, Em. I kinda think the stories might be true.”

“Yeah,” Scott said with a smirk. “Stories about miners disappearing in a cloud of dust—and not because of the explosion.”

“Stories about someone using freaky magic down in the mines!” someone else chimed in.

Ms. Davis held up a hand. “All right, that’s enough. Let’s stick with the facts, please.”

I listened to the exchange without participating. It wasn’t like I didn’t have anything to say about the mining disaster. After all, my own grandfather—who’d died before I was born—had survived the explosion. And according to Mom, he’d always insisted the rumours about unexplained phenomena were just that—rumours. I could have contributed this information, but the last thing I wanted to do was prolong a debate about death and tragedy. I was dealing with enough of that in my own life.

Still feeling a bit unsteady, I shifted in my seat. As I did so, my elbow struck my pen and knocked it to the floor.

I twisted in my seat to retrieve it, but the girl who sat in the desk behind me had already scooped it up. She handed it to me with a sympathetic smile. I murmured my thanks and was about to turn around.

That’s when I noticed Luke watching me from the next row, three desks down. His ice-blue eyes locked onto mine again. Hi, Julia, he mouthed.

I frowned at him. He smiled, but his eyes remained cool. I faced forward, anger bubbling in my chest as I focused on my notebook again. Soon the page in front of me was covered with the same line, written over and over in small, neat letters.

Stay in control.

The bell rang, signalling the end of class. I stood, stuffed my notebook in my backpack and hurried from the classroom. In the hallway, I pushed through a throng of students, anxious to get to my locker.

“Jules!” My best friend, Roxy Butler, hurried up and threw her arms around me.

“Hey, Rox.” As she gave me a squeeze, some of my tension fell away.

“A bunch of us are going to Tony’s for lunch. Please say you’ll come with.”

I shook my head, slinging my backpack over my shoulder. “I can’t. I’ve got some stuff to do.”

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About the Author

Ann M. Miller

Ann Miller writes young adult novels about first loves, family secrets, and magic. She grew up in Nova Scotia, Canada, where the local bookmobile fed her diet of Nancy Drew mysteries, Sweet Valley High books, and Stephen King horror. After graduating from the University of King’s College, she moved to Newfoundland, an island that makes up for its unforgiving climate with beautiful coastlines and majestic icebergs.

When she’s not reading or writing, Ann can be found spending time with her husband and son, or binge watching Netflix while curled up with the two four-legged members of her family.

Captured in Paint is her first novel, and she has several more in the works. Take a look at Ann’s website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous Goody Bag and a $5.00 First For Romance Gift Code!

Ann M. Miller’s Captured in Paint

ANN M. MILLER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GOODIE BAG AND A $5.00 FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CODE! Notice: This competition ends on 20th January 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Spotlight: Glimpsed + Giveaway

Glimpsed Book Cover

Glimpsed

by GF Miller
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy
Publishing Date: January 5, 2021

Perfect for fans of Geekerella and Jenn Bennett, this charming, sparkly rom-com follows a wish-granting teen forced to question if she’s really doing good—and if she has the power to make her own dreams come true.

Charity is a fairy godmother. She doesn’t wear a poofy dress or go around waving a wand, but she does make sure the deepest desires of the student population at Jack London High School come true. And she knows what they want even better than they do because she can glimpse their perfect futures.

But when Charity fulfills a glimpse that gets Vibha crowned homecoming queen, it ends in disaster. Suddenly, every wish Charity has ever granted is called into question. Has she really been helping people? Where do these glimpses come from, anyway? What if she’s not getting the whole picture?

Making this existential crisis way worse is Noah—the adorkable and (in Charity’s opinion) diabolical ex of one of her past clients—who blames her for sabotaging his prom plans and claims her interventions are doing more harm than good. He demands that she stop granting wishes and help him get his girl back. At first, Charity has no choice but to play along. But soon, Noah becomes an unexpected ally in getting to the bottom of the glimpses. Before long, Charity dares to call him her friend…and even starts to wish he were something more. But can the fairy godmother ever get the happily ever after?

Book Links:
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GF Miller author pic.About the Author:

G.F. Miller can write 80,000-word novels, but ask her to sit down and write 250 true and meaningful words about herself and she is likely to have an existential crisis. Who am I, really? She ponders. What do I want to be known for? Does anyone even read the back flap or visit author websites?

But eventually she will pull herself together and tell you that…She married her college sweetheart and is mom to three littles who routinely make her heart burst and her head explode (it’s a messy business, love). There are puppies big and small residing at her house (you’ll be seeing a lot of them if you follow her on Instagram). She’s been to a dozen countries, but not nearly as many as she would like. She loves learning all the things. She cries at all the wrong times. She makes faces at herself in the mirror. She believes in the Oxford comma. And she’s always here for a dance party.

While the stories she has brewing in her soul vary wildly from one another, there are three things they will always have in common: love, snappy dialogue, and happy endings.

Author Links:
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Giveaway (US/CAN Only):
One person will win a finished copy of Glimpsed. This giveaway starts on January 5th and ends on January 12th.

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