Friday, 28 March 2014

Margie Church: Deep Enough to Bleed

A big welcome back to Margie Church.

Margie is a native Minnesotan who has a degree in television news writing and editing. While currently working in a nuclear power plant (no, she's not a Homer Simpson relation) she's also a professional editor and novelist. Margie has a number of pasttimes, but says her guilty pleasures include reading, listening to music (loves Italian opera and Bob Seger), and food (particularly fresh lobster, honey bourbon, and real vanilla ice cream . . . though not all together, I'm sure). When not writing or researching, Margie can be found at the opera, working on her bucket list (Alaska and the Outback are there), and trying to figure out a way to get onto the Letterman Show!

As you might tell, Margie has a great sense of humor, but she's as serious as it gets when it comes to her books. Today she celebrates the release of her latest book, Deep Enough to Bleed.

Deep Enough to Bleed is just about as serious as it gets too. Jolene is a young woman raised in an abusive household, along with her younger brother, Adam. The story opens in the middle of a scene of domestic violence which escalates into child abuse. I'll pull no punches. This story is serious and not for the faint of heart.

Moving forward, Jolene is now the sole guardian of her brother, who, thanks to his heroine addicted mother, has the emotional capacity of a nine year old. Adam is now sixteen. Struggling to find her way in the world, unable to trust, Jolene resorts to self-harm -- she's a cutter. But not just any cutter. She has a purpose, as her cuts form barb wire around her thighs.

Then she meets Brandon. He's kind to her, thoughtful, and seemingly understanding. But can she trust him? Most importantly, can she trust him with her deepest secrets . . . her upbringing, her sufferings, and even her cutting?

This is definitely a box of tissues story. But keep in mind, this is not just a story of a woman's life of abuse. It's also of her redemption. If you're looking for a book to tug at your heartstrings, if you want a gripping read, this is the one for you.

Before we get to the blurb and extract, Margie has graciously donated an article about this story. Please have a read. And when you're done, be sure to leave Margie a comment below. You'll go into the draw for a free copy of this book.
• • •

Conquering her past – Deep Enough to Bleed

I bet we can all think of people in our lives who overcame the worst of the worst. They are imperfect, yet their fire and thirst to survive inspire us. We also know people who succumbed to the hardness, the hurt that the world inflected on them. They became bitter and mean-spirited. They use their misfortune as an excuse to be sullen about life and pollute the happiness of those around them.

In Deep Enough to Bleed, Jolene has to choose between the positive or negative road to her future. Her life didn't start out great, but it certainly wasn't ghastly until her mother walked out on the family. She hated the man her father became. He tortured and beat her and her disabled brother. Her grandmother turned a blind eye to the real truth. To help her cope, Jolene became a cutter. The scars on her thighs are proof of her inner agony. Like many in her situation, she's managed to keep them and the reasons for her behavior secret.

Two things release that pain and put her on a healthier path. A bullet kills her father and ends the physical torture. The second is acceptance and love by two people who become her support system - her supervisor, Missy, and a man named Brendan Fen.

Jolene's choices are deliberate and her transformation to a healthier, more trusting perspective is measured. She makes mistakes but never loses sight of her goal. Her brother, Adam, remains a constant example to her about what never giving up means. Brendan proves that she's not a freak and certainly worthy of love.

Some of Deep Enough to Bleed may be difficult to read. Some readers may not think a parent can be so cruel or blind. During my research for the book, I spent time talking with physiologists, people who cut themselves, and young adults whose lives are anything but ideal. Some of their stories made my stomach turn and the tears flow. But when I looked in the eyes of these survivors, I saw Jolene and her brother. I saw that even though the scars were deep enough to make them bleed blood, sweat and tears, I also saw the victors. I wanted to tell their story of triumph.

I'm proud to introduce my newest novel, Deep Enough to Bleed, released today. It has taken me several years to bring it to market. I've gotten more rejections on this book than any other. It's been through oodles of revisions and three editors. I owe Tirgearr Publishing a huge debt of thanks for taking on this provocative book. We hope you enjoy it.

• • •
Orphaned on the brink of adulthood, Jolene must make decisions for herself and her younger, disabled brother, Adam. Decisions as painful as the blows they suffered at their father's hands. Cutting herself is the only thing making Jolene feel something besides misery and worthlessness.

Jolene has never dated, yet quickly recognizes Brendan is a great guy. She wants a serious and intimate relationship, but is scared to trust him with the truth. Will he think she's a freak if he learns of her secret compulsion? Will hearing about the horrible events from her past make him run?

"Are you happy now? You know how to beat kids. You loser. I hate you!"

Steve backhanded her.

Pain shot into her eye and radiated into her nose.

"Now I am." His voice was a growling pronouncement of doom. "Don't plan to come out of your rooms any time soon."

Her body a coil of pain, Jolene helped her hysterical brother the rest of the way upstairs.

When Steve Parks had said, "don't come out your rooms," he didn't mean until morning. He really meant until he said so. The first time he punished them this way, they were unprepared. Never again. She'd hidden supplies in their rooms to help them endure what was probably a weekend lockdown.

"You got five minutes to get up there, before I give you another taste of respect."

At the top of the stairs, Adam looked at her with the saddest expression. "I think I'm going to throw up, Jolene."

A fresh burst of tears flowed down her cheeks. "It's okay, I got ya." She nestled his face in the cleft of her shoulder, while he vomited on her chest.

Sobbing and shaking uncontrollably, he muttered, "Sorry, Jolene, I hurt so bad."

"I know. It's okay. I'm not mad at you. I love you so much, Adam. I'm going to get us out of here. I promise."

She didn't have time to change clothes. Jolene took an old towel out of his sock drawer. Cupping his chin, she kept her voice low while wiping his face. "Remember what to do. The clothes bag is under your mattress. Put all your dirty stuff in that bag and keep it closed tight to keep the smell inside."

Her father's threatening voice echoed in the hall. "You've got one minute before I come up there to give you some more. I was just getting started."

She glanced over her shoulder. "There are some granola bars in your sock drawer and two Tylenol. Take the medicine with the water I hid under your sweatshirts." She stared into his heartbroken face. "Don't forget, okay? Remember how we do this. I have to go." She kissed his forehead. "I love you. You're going to be okay."

Jolene hurried to her room, shutting the doors behind her.

A minute later, heavy thumps on the steps signaled his ascent. His knees and ankles crackled as he climbed.

She felt her face contort into a mask of hatred. She prayed he would die of a heart attack before reaching the landing. Avoiding all the squeaky spots on the wooden bedroom floor, Jolene went to her door and listened. If their father dared touch Adam, she'd take him on again. All she heard was heavy breathing and scraping while he fumbled with the skeleton key in the lock.

A board made a popping sound under his feet when he came to her room.

She wished she had the courage to open the door fast and shove him down the stairs. With any luck, he'd break his skull wide open.

Instead, she heard guttural, drunken noises and the click of the lock falling into place.

Sometimes she wondered what would happen if the house caught fire while they were locked upstairs.

brother, Adam. Decisions as painful as the blows they suffered at their father's hands. Cutting herself is the only thing making Jolene feel something besides misery and worthlessness.
• • •
Find Margie online --

Where to buy -- Kindle US, Kindle UK, Smashwords 

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw! 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

C Margery Kempe: Love on a Spoon

Welcome, welcome, C Margery Kempe, to Heart of Fiction.

C Margery is no stranger to HoF, as she's visited many times to promote her books, including the very popular Man City Series (Shai, Lizzie, and Martin) and The Swan Prince, the first in a magical tales collection.

Today C Margery brings with her a very tasty treat -- Love on a Spoon!

Love on a Spoon is a collection of erotic tales, the themes of which are luscious morsels of sensual goodness to satisfy any . . . taste ;-)

This is a fun and eclectic mix of stories which can be devoured in one sitting, or if you have excellent willpower (I don't), you can sample them one at a time . . . drawing out the zesty essence of each. This is a great collection which I highly recommend to anyone with a sweet tooth for sexy antics. If the title alone doesn't make you want to lap up a copy of this book, I don't know what will.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop C Margery a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of Love on a Spoon.

• • •
Need a little sexy bite between meals? All of C. Margery Kempe's spicy romantic short stories have been gathered together to give you a hearty meal that satisfies—and you won't even need dessert. Of course you'll still want it all . . .

Love on a Spoon
Park Larks
Sex Cymbals
Ranger Danger
Not Rocket Science
Baby Pink Lipstick Heels
Turning Cards
Twelve Drummers Drumming
Fore Play
Text Play
Tying Up Loose Ends

excerpt from Love on a Spoon

"I'm never dating again!" Jane wailed into the phone.

Gerald chuckled. "You don't mean that."

"I do," Jane insisted. "He said he thought there was too much commuting time in our relationship. Have you ever heard a more lame excuse? I'm going to drown my sorrows in chocolate. God, I don't even have a bottle of red wine!"

"I've got some cognac," Gerald said, inspiration suddenly hitting. "Come over. I'll get a fire going. You can rant and curse his name. It will be perfect."

"Oh, no, I look a mess: raccoon eyes, ladders in my tights, and I think my heel's getting loose."

Despite her light tone, he could tell Jane was feeling truly rotten. "You need to come out tonight. You need to be pampered. I insist. Besides—I have Nutella!"

Her laugh was genuine. "All right, you're on. Be there in half an hour."

Gerald closed the phone and smiled to himself. For once the timing was going to be right. Four years ago when they first met, he was with Sarah and she was with…hmmm? Was it Frank? Soon to be followed by Clark, Mark, and David, while he remained in the torturous on-again-off-again with Sarah. When he finally gave that up as a bad job six months ago, he found himself waiting while Jane juggled three different guys, none of whom was worth a damn as far as he was concerned.

But he waited, because Gerald finally realized that Jane was worth it.

Sure, she tended to think of him as a brotherly confidante, but maybe he could use that tonight to start changing her mind. As he laid the wood for the fire, Gerald could picture the hurricane of motion that was Jane blowing up on his steps and the way her bright eyes darted. He thought of her in that favorite soft grey sweater that clung to her breasts and enhanced her generous cleavage. How he would like to bury his face in it! No, no, not yet, he scolded himself. Don't overwhelm her.

Gerald got the brandy snifters down from the top shelf, setting them and the bottle down on the hearth to warm. He grabbed his grandmother's quilt off the bed and draped it over the easy chair. He was just putting the Nutella on the coffee table with a couple of spoons when the bell rang.

"Oh my god, I nearly hit a cat on the way over here," Jane announced as she rustled through the door, throwing her bag to the side and shucking off her coat. "I'm a disaster! Everything I touch!"

Gerald laughed and steered her into the easy chair, where she collapsed sighing dramatically. He couldn't help grinning at her utter surrender to dejection. "Oh, it can't be that bad, now."

"I might as well be a leper," Janet said waving away his comforting gesture. "Clearly there is no way I can attract any man and I'm a danger to everyone else on the planet. I must have a bulls-eye on the top of my head. See if I don't!"

"You just need to relax," Gerald said, stepping over to the iPod deck. "Schubert or Tori?"

"Oh, Schubert. I think Tori would just make me want to wail right now." Jane sighed and sank deeper into the chair. "Where's my ottoman! I need to put my feet up."

Gerald chuckled and pushed the ottoman over with his foot. Then he tutted, "Oh, no, this won't do. No tights! You can't relax in tights. Off, off, off!" He gestured impatiently and she hopped up to reach under her skirt and start the downward movement. Gerald felt himself flush with desire at the thought of her naked thighs and made excuses. "I'll go get you some nice warm socks." He padded down to his bedroom and rifled through the sock drawer for his best fluffy wool socks, smiling to himself in the mirror. Things were going well. He hoped they would continue to do so.

When he came back into the room, Jane already looked more relaxed. Gerald bent down and slipped a sock onto each foot, Jane obediently lifting each foot even as her eyes remained closed. Gerald felt a welcome charge of electricity as his hands slipped up her calves. Jane had great legs.

Gerald turned to pick up the cognac and pour it into the nicely warmed glasses. The pale liquor glowed in the firelight and he inhaled the aroma with pleasure.

"Here," he said, handing one of the snifters to Jane, who opened her eyes with a smile. "To better days."

• • •

C. Margery Kempe is a writer of erotic romance distinguished by its humour, intelligence, and fearless sensual pleasures. Her stories range from contemporary thrillers to medieval era fairy tales.

An English professor by day, she also writes on medieval literature, film, creative writing and New Media, as well as humor, drama, mainstream and genre fiction under her real name and non-explicit romance as Kit Marlowe.

She's a weekly blogger at Nights of Passion on Sundays.

Find C. Margery online at --

Lady Smut
The Pop Culture Divas
Tirgearr Publishing

Where to buy -- Kindle US, Kindle UK, Smashwords

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw! 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Jeff Gardiner: Treading on Dreams

It's my pleasure to welcome Jeff Gardiner to Heart of Fiction.

Author of such books as Myopia and Igboland (Crooked Cat Publishing), to name just two of the more than a dozen he's published, Jeff celebrates the release of his newest title, Treading on Dreams (Tirgearr Publishing).

Born in Nigeria to British parents, Jeff now calls England home, where he works as a teacher, book editor, and author. His literary tastes are eclectic, no doubt from his travels, and translates into some very colorful and mixed stories -- Myopia is a young adult story about bullying and contrasts against the 1967 Nigerian  setting of Igboland which contrasts against the contemporary love triangle of Treading on Dreams. One would think an author my be challenged with such a wide range in writing tastes, but Jeff relishes the challenge and succeeds quite well in whatever he puts his mind to.

Treading on Dreams is Donny's story. He's in love with his roommate, Selena, but Selena is in love with, and marrying, Melvin, and affluent professional. To make matters more complicated, their landlord, Jaz, also has a thing for Selena. Well, not just Selena. He loves sleeping with women. Lots of them. Selena is just a conquest, which unfortunately backfires on him and threatens Selena's future. As a hedonist, Jaz pulls the impressionable Donny into his shenanigans, which include the ritualistic three vices -- sex, drugs and rock and roll! It's not long before Donny finds himself getting in over his head. With Selena always in his sights, he has to try finding a way to make her fall in love with him. Even if it means causing a scene at her wedding.

From page one, readers will be pulled into Donny's story, and follow him down a deep hole of emotional despair and longing for a woman he loves but who loves another. He's young and impressionable. He knows what he wants, but going for it creates trouble he never expects, or simply overlooks. You'll sit up in your seat as if to cry out to Donny, "There's more fish in the sea," but we all know when we're stupid-in-love, there will never be anyone else but this one person we're fixated on. Which makes our hearts break even more for Donny's plight. We've all been Donny, and some of us have even been Selena or Melvin, which means we'll all understand the raw emotions of unrequited love. This is a great read!

Jeff was kind enough to sit down with us for a quick chat --

Welcome, Jeff, and congrats on the release of Treading on Dreams. And thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to have a chat with us.

You have such a busy schedule with teaching, editing, and writing. How do you schedule it all? What's your writing routine like?
I have a part-time job as a high school teacher on a Monday to Wednesday. On Thursdays I volunteer at a local Special Educational Needs college, which leaves me Friday and some of the weekend to write – plus school holidays. With two wonderful daughters, I also factor in time with the family, so it’s not always easy to find time, but I’m very determined and have good time-management skills. Once I’m working on a project I like to concentrate on that, although marketing and blogging are also essential on a regular basis. It’s important to be focused and to believe in what you’re writing.
Yes! "Believe in what you're writing." I like that. I think if you believe in your subject, it's easier to focus on it.

Do you feel that having the right surroundings helps inspire your writing? What's your writing space like?
I have a conservatory with a PC on a desk. I can look out onto our back garden with an ancient oak tree; home to squirrels, crows and many other birds. I saw some jays screeching in its branches the other day. Sometimes I write on a laptop, but recently I’ve taken to using paper and pen again. It’s a revelation. I found that ideas flowed and that I could write very quickly. Of course, it still needs to be typed up, but then I can type up listening to music.
I've heard some writers are going back to first-drafting on paper. Intriguing! Your back garden sounds wonderful.

Interesting that you say you can type up your hand-written work while listening to music. What do you enjoy listening to while working? And to that, when you're not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
I spend a lot of time with my family. My daughters are into dance and gymnastics and, like many parents, we’re a glorified taxi service for them. I love listening to rock music and attending gigs. I’m particularly partial to prog rock – classic bands like Yes and Pink Floyd, and contemporary bands like Porcupine Tree and Headspace. I also watch a lot of films. ‘Gravity’ and ‘Captain Phillips’ are two I’ve really enjoyed recently. I also love films from other cultures and even silent movies. Probably my favourite film ever is ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. Of course, I also read lots. My favourite authors presently are Graham Joyce, Haruki Murakami and the late great Iain Banks.
Wonderful! Another Floydian ;-) I love films too but haven't had the opportunity to see many in recent years. I'll take Gravity and Captain Phillips as a recommendation from you.

This takes us back full circle about your routine. I can see how full your schedule is, but can also see how you find a way to make time for everything you want to do. Awsome stuff!

Thanks for chatting with us.

But before we get to the blurb and excerpt for Treading on Dreams, be sure to leave a comment or question with your contact email address for your entry to be put in the hat for a free copy of this book.

• • •

Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny ... until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.

The marriage service seemed to go on forever.

Long, monotonous choruses accompanied the strumming of two guitar chords. The prayers began with ‘Lord I just wanna…’ followed by the obligatory praying for the bride and groom with laying-on-of-hands. When the bearded elder pressed his hand on Selena’s bosom, it occurred to Donny it was an excuse to touch the bride.

Then the photographs seemed to take days to complete, while the guests, ensconced at a nearby posh hotel, starved to death with only small glasses of Schlöer to stop them from dehydrating.

The dreaded speeches followed.

‘Thank you, so much, everyone, for sharing our special day,’ said Melvin, the groom.

Donny couldn’t help staring at Selena. She looked stunning in the simple ivory dress. It showed her magnificent figure in all its glory, unspoiled yet by the swell of pregnancy. Her hair curled in ringlets at the side of her face, falling from her veil and framing her lovely cheeks. Donny continued his gaze as her hand caressed her lips. The desperate urge to touch her became an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and loss.

The people at his table laughed at Selena’s father’s comments.

‘Does anyone remember that time my new son-in-law nearly burnt my house down last year when he lit the barbeque?’ Everyone laughed politely. ‘But anyway, we’re here to celebrate the love this couple clearly feel for each other. I can see how much they are in love from the joy in their eyes.’

Donny swallowed bile.

Then Melvin stood up to speak. ‘God has blessed me today by letting me marry the most wonderful woman in the world. With Jesus beside us, we aren’t so much a couple as a threesome.

A few guests sniggered.

Donny looked around with narrowed eyes. Scowling, he wrung the tablecloth as if it was wet.

The best man took his turn. ‘As a doctor, Melvin saves lives every day; as a Christian he works tirelessly for charity. He also finds time to help lead our church, preaching and ministering to the sick and infirm…’

Why did nobody mentioned Selena’s baby? As if it wasn’t why they were there today. Did they not know or were they ignoring it? He wanted them to know Melvin wasn’t the great shining example they assumed, but a total hypocrite—shagging his girlfriend whilst preaching morality. Could no one else see the hypocrisy?

Once the speeches were over, the servers poured more wine while the happy couple mingled. Donny sat back and listened to the clamour of myriad conversations. Voices buzzed around him until the hubbub became a grating irritant. Every sound intensified behind his eyes, which he momentarily closed.
‘Melvin truly is a holy man of God.’


y make such a perfect couple—so young and in love.’

As Donny sat listening to the inane conversations around him, they began to reverberate in his head and squeeze his temples like a pincer. Something uncomfortable stirred, churning his insides.

eeling quite depressed and then I remembered Melvin prophesied about Jesus healing the sick and that afternoon I made an amazing recovery.’

He didn’t know how much more he could take. The cacophony of voices became a crashing wave of atonal sound. Every sound was a spike hammering through his brain.

‘…Isn’t Melvin just the best…?’

‘…I’ve never seen a couple so in love…’

‘…and they’ll have such beautiful children…’

ith a roar, Donny stood, his chair crashing to the floor. He grabbed the table with all his strength and knocked it on its side. The dishes hit to the floor, shattering. He had their attention.

‘Fatuous bullshit! You’re talking absolute, fucking bullshit. Can’t you see what’s going on? Melvin ‘goody-two-shoes’ got her pregnant, and you still think he’s wonderful. Selena doesn’t love him, but she’s too scared to say.’

His sister, Hazel, tried to stop him. He pushed her away. ‘I can’t bloody stand it any longer. I’m in love with you, Selena.’

People sat, speechless.

Some other guests got up, moving quickly towards him.

‘You can’t marry him…what’ll happen to me?’ He stopped, breaking down completely and slowly melted into an indistinct blob on the floor. ‘Who the fuck am I kidding? Why would she ever love me?’

n, his father, and a few other men grabbed Donny. They carried him like a rolled up carpet. He kicked and struggled to no avail as they took him from the room.

‘Leave me alone, you bastards!’

Where the hell were they taking him?

His head ached. He was getting hotter and hotter while the world outside burst into flames. Finally, he tipped into a burning abyss.

• • •

Jeff Gardiner was born in Nigeria to British parents and has lived in many places in England, including Bedford, London and West Sussex. Now living in a house full of girls (including the cat), he is an author, editor and part-time teacher. With a number of books to his name - fiction and non-fiction - he has also had many stories and articles published, and even been translated into German. When he's not writing or enjoying family life, Jeff listens to rock music; goes to the cinema, and concerts; sometimes indulges in amateur dramatics, and enjoys reading the writings of Graham Joyce, Haruki Murakami, and Ian McEwan.

Find Jeff online --

Jeff Gardiner
Tirgearr Publishing

• • •

Don't forget -- Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Treading on Dreams today to one lucky commenter. Leave Jeff a message or ask him a question and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

David Toft: Worlds End

Please help us welcome David Toft back to Heart of Fiction.

David is originally from West Yorkshire in England, but now calls Dublin home, where he lives with his lovely wife. He's a prolific writer -- see his Butterfly Series, for example -- who takes his craft seriously and voraciously.

Today, David is celebrating the release of the second book in The Kyklos Trilogy -- Worlds End, published by Tirgearr Publishing.

In book one, The Cycles Turn, we're introduced to an unlikely hero, Augustus Braithwaite, a boys' school headmaster. The discovery of a crucified cat in the chapel of his school plunges headmaster Augustus Braithwaite into a battle against forces, and worlds, he previously didn’t know existed. Augustus acquires an ally in Sharna, a young woman he rescued from execution in her own world, and they return to his school to confront the power head on. Only one of their enemies, teacher Edward Braine, horribly disfigured but still maliciously strong, survives. Together they track him across Ireland to a final confrontation on the island of Inishbofin.

In Worlds End, Augustus is thrown back into the fray. It's nineteen years after the cycle turned, and now it's changing again. His son is missing, and a brutal path of serial killings is stretching across Ireland. Augustus feels the pull back to Ireland . . . back to Inishbofin.

Wow-wow! If The Cycles Turn was edge of your seat reading, Worlds End will have you out of your seat and ready to join Augustus on his trek across Ireland to save the world. Sometimes, the most unlikely characters are the best heroes, and David proves that Augustus has what it takes. David has penned a believable character, even if the plot is fantastical. He makes us wonder if other realms exist, and if they do, what could be in them. And do we really want to know. In this case, when they cross dimensional lines, even the humblest of men, and women, must step up to the challenge. This is a great read, with something in it for horror readers, as well as dark fantasy and paranormal.

Readers -- David loves to getting to know his readers, AND is giving away a free digital copy of this book to one lucky winner today, so just leave a comment or question with your contact email address for your entry to be put in the hat.

• • •
It is nineteen years since Augustus and Sharna’s victory over Edward Braine’s coven on Inishbofin. Across England the renewal cycles of other covens should be under way, but Augustus and Sharna have not been summoned to thwart their expansion.
  Alrik, their nineteen-year-old son, is missing again.

A brutal serial killer leaves a gruesome trail of mutilated girls across Ireland.

Could the three be linked? Could Edward Braine still be alive? In striving to answer these questions, Augustus is tempted back to Ireland and into the most desperate struggle of his life.
Augustus tossed his book onto the floor beside his chair and let out a long sigh. He couldn’t concentrate. He never could when Alrik was missing. Sitting with her feet pulled up beneath her on the chair opposite his, Sharna appeared to be engrossed in whatever she’d loaded onto her Kindle, but Augustus was aware that her eyes flicked constantly in his direction. She was worried about him. He was worried about her. They were both worried about Alrik. 

The sight of her reading brought back memories of happier times. The written word had been unknown in the world from which he’d rescued her. Her initial dependence on him even for things as simple as reading a menu had perhaps made him love her even more. He’d taught her to read. The lessons had drawn them together. Happier times indeed. Pre-Alrik times. Where the hell was he this time? He glanced down at his hand. His fingers had clenched into a tight fist. More and more often his concern for Alrik turned to anger, then hatred, for the son who had turned their dreams of a family life into a living hell.

Where had they gone wrong? They’d asked that question so many times over the years that they no longer verbalised it. He couldn’t put it down to the hormonal chaos of adolescence. Alrik’s tantrums and inexplicable bursts of anger had started even before he could walk. They’d tried everything, read every childcare book they could find, trawled the internet for advice, nothing had made an ounce of difference.

Pet therapy—Augustus snorted. Something small and vulnerable to have to care for, something for which to be responsible, Alrik had been six years old. They’d bought him a golden Labrador puppy. He had disembowelled it on the kitchen floor. ‘To see how it works’, he told Augustus, when his father walked in on the scene of bloody carnage. More oft-visited memories formed an orderly queue in Augustus’s mind. He felt as if he were standing and looking back over the line of patiently waiting torment. He unclenched his fingers and pushed himself up from his chair.

Sharna glanced up from her reading and smiled.

He tried to smile back, but his lips only twitched. He walked around the back of her chair, ignoring the hand that reached toward him for contact.

His laptop lay open on a small desk against the back wall of the room. He brushed his finger over its touchpad and the screen flashed out of hibernation. An image of Dun Mor, the iron-age promontory fort on Inishbofin and scene of their last encounter with the Power, stood formidable and green against a bright blue sky. Centre-screen, the white square of the message box stood empty. The cursor in its top left-hand corner blinked mockingly.

Augustus clicked on ‘check for new messages’ more out of frustration than in the hope that anything would appear. The Cycles must be turning as they always turned. Covens across the world must still be regenerating. He couldn’t believe that their victory over Edward Braine had been the end of it, so why was he not needed? Why had he been chosen and then not used, not in almost twenty years?
 • • •
Born in Bradford England, David Toft gained a degree in Education before going on to work in London and Warwickshire. He now lives in South County Dublin, Ireland with his wife, Mary.

David has been writing adult fantasy and paranormal fiction for over twenty years.

Find David online at --

Tirgearr Publishing

• • •

Don't forget -- Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of Worlds End today to one lucky commenter. Leave David a message or ask him a question and be automatically entered into the random drawing.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Betsy Bennett: Her Puzzle

A great big welcome back to Betsy Bennett. Today, she's celebrating the release of her newest title, Her Puzzle.

Betsy was with us previously with The Frog Kiss and Santa Takes a Wife. She's quite an eclectic author, writing a number of subgenres. However, all of her work is based in romance, which means readers will be guaranteed a wonderful story of a couple's coming together.

Her Puzzle crosses subgenres to include paranormal aspects, fantasy aspects, as well as a contemporary setting. But this makes the story all the more intriguing.

To lawyer, Tina Aaron, men were a puzzle. When she meets the intriguing Brodrick LoMaren, he's a puzzle she can't figure out. He says he's infinitely wealthy, yet common, every day things like tipping and having a Coke are foreign to him. The more he confuses her, the more she wants to figure him out.

Brick, as Brodrick is called, is a dedicated soldier in his world, honor-bound to protect the Empire.After a bloody uprising and his father, the Emperor, is assassinated, Brick finds himself exiled to Earth. Falling in love with Tina was the last thing he expected. When his exile is lifted and he returns home, he thought he'd forget the enchanting Tina. When he can't, he brings her to the Empire to show her his world. But when he's accused of murder, is her love for him strong enough?

Her Puzzle full of adventure and romance. Characters are well-fleshed, and if one suspends traditional reality while reading, the story is quite plausible. Tina is an engaging heroine and quite likeable. Brick is an honorable hero who tries to find balance in his life which includes serving the Empire and having the love he deserves. This is a fabulous read and highly recommended.

Readers -- Betsy would love to get to know her readers, AND she's giving away a free digital copy of The Frog Kiss to one lucky winner today, so just leave her a comment or question with your contact email address for your entry to be put in the hat.

• • •

He was a puzzle and none of the pieces fit together
Lawyer Tina Aaron considered men as puzzles. She liked to have all the pieces neatly in place. But Brodrick LoMaren’s puzzle made no sense. He is reputed to be extremely wealthy but he doesn’t know how to tip New York City cab drivers. He never had pizza or Coke. And he could disappear into thin air after kissing her senseless. 

Earth was not his homeland
Brick had no intention of falling in love with a human. He wanted to take the Vow and become a soldier, to dedicate his life to the defense of the Empire. Then after a bloody uprising where his father the Emperor was assassinated, he found himself exiled to Earth. 

Brick learns to find beauty in New York, but his heart finds completeness in Tina’s love. 

He promises her one night as Cinderella
After his exile is lifted, Brick still believes he can return to his homeland and forget her, but he finds that impossible. So he invites Tina to the Empire, to show her how different they are. There, a unihorn mare kneels to her, offering Tina honor and a wish. Dressed in a ball gown, with a necklace of priceless rubies around her throat, more of the pieces of the puzzle start to make sense. She is starting to understand Brodrick and the love she feels for him. 

He is accused of murder
Brick is found guilty of the gruesome murder of the emperor and hundreds of the Empire’s citizens. Tina is given the opportunity to forget him and go back to her life, knowing that it will mean his death. Then Brick and Tina realize life is not worth living if they are not together. But what remains to be seen, is her love for this prince enough to save his life, even when she suspects he will still choose his homeland over her?

Monsters surrounded him. He couldn't see them, but he could hear them, sharpening their claws in the dark, secret places just beyond the limits of his vision. His nose twitched with the pungent odor of decay. Their stench reminded him of his own land when he had dabbled in things better left alone. He should leave. This wasn’t his country. It wasn’t his fight. But Brodrick knew he would seek them out. He curled his fingers around the hilt of the broadsword and found the familiar weight reassuring. He could deal with monsters.

Though he’d never been here before, Brodrick LoMaren moved silently through the night, seeking the shadows, where, since he didn't know the terrain, he felt more comfortable. He had been raised without fear, not because he lived a quiet, cloistered existence, but because he knew his abilities, his strengths and his heritage. He had been trained to embrace the courage of warriors.

The cold wind carried a bite. Instinctively he straightened the fall of his cape, clearing his broadsword before he continued, cursing under his breath his brother's odd habits and odder rendezvous points.

The fact that his brother was not present to meet him came as no surprise. Bruce LoMaren was not overly concerned with responsibility. Brodrick decided to give him another hour to finish whatever devilment he was up to and finally make a command appearance. If he hadn't located his brother when the time limit expired, Brick would call it a night, start the search again in the morning. After all, it could just as easily be him their father was after. It wasn't likely he'd need to come back. Eventually Bruce would appear, unrepentant and tardy, dragging unbelievable excuses—or with no explanation at all. Bruce would give their father the chance to vent some steam, rage for a few hours, and then he would be off again, creating another incident which might create complications which no one on this planet could possibly understand. Bruce had plucked Brick out of half a dozen such incidents. With the exception of their father, no one else kept score.

Although it was deep into the night, it was fairly obvious nothing slept. Sounds layered the darkness, from the creaking, chirping, buzzing of nocturnal insects to rushing traffic and the muffled roar of engines overhead. Laughter, sharp and shrill erupted to his left, unintelligible words shouted in anger from so many locations he couldn't identify them all, and behind him, in the deeper reaches of the dark, retching. Brick listened, finding in none of them the ripple of his brother's careless swagger. Bruce had never practiced subtlety in anything.

A new noise, one he recognized, exploded, bringing him to battle readiness causing adrenaline to surge through his system. Screams. The monsters had made the first move after all.

The screams sharpened, cutting, bloodcurdling, and informative. A woman alone. Not exactly alone, for she was being attacked. Fixing the location in his brain, he ran, no longer in need of stealth. The screams would hide his approach. For the moment, surprise was on his side.

His hand found comfort in the familiar grasp of the broadsword, and he knew of all the things he’d been called in his life, coward was never one of them. From the gyrating shadows he heard the start of a scream. It ended painfully, unnaturally, with a muffled cry.

The glaring, artificial brightness of the city diffused by vegetation, the lack of a moon made the light practically non-existent, but Brick could see all he needed to. A short but heavily muscled man, pants wadded down around his ankles, knife blade in his hand, prepared to do grievous harm to the woman struggling under him. Brick saw her legs twist in a futile effort to escape. A second man with an ugly leer and saliva running down his chin held her hands while the first fondled her breasts through torn material of her clothing. Brick couldn’t discount the possibility this man was armed as well, and although a knife was no match for his broadsword, Bruce had described other weapons, more frightening and powerful things, against which he wouldn't stand a chance.

She tried to plead, tried to beg, but the drooling man made free use of her lips. In a glance too quick for conscious acknowledgement, Brick noticed bruises on her face, an eye already darkening, a lip split and bloodied.

"Don't fight me," the man with the knife said in an acidic alien accent that held as much promise of violence as the weapon itself. Brick knew the type. It didn't really matter to the monster if he finished his wicked deed with her alive or dead. Either way, Brick was well aware if he did not intervene the woman had little time to live.

Brick scanned the area and saw no other assailants. Two to one. Discounting far superior weapons which might or might not exist, the odds were in his favor. He crossed the last few feet in a flash and lashed out with a booted foot, catching the man at the woman's breast with the full force of his anger. The stranger toppled and stayed still. Then Brick lifted the sword from its sheath, the blade making the song of prelude as it slipped from its housing to arc in the darkness, and while the man with the knife was otherwise intent on his assault Brick rested it, almost casually, against his neck.

"Drop your weapon or you die." He spoke with the quiet assurance the military had drummed into him over countless training sessions and several times as many hours in real warfare. Brick ran the blade almost idly against the rapist's carotid artery, knowing he would get the hint without much difficulty. A thin, shallow slice opened on his neck, bleeding freely.

"Do you understand?" The point of the weapon would be impossible to misinterpret.

The would-be rapist looked up at him with eyes suddenly wild. He tightened his grip on the knife, and rolled quickly to his feet. At any time during the maneuver Brick could have killed him with frightening ease. There would have been no challenge. There still was no challenge. A hand-held knife, even with a nine inch blade, was no match for a three-foot broadsword wielded by a trained warrior.

The woman, freed from her captors, took full advantage of the opportunity presented her and ran as if her life depended on it, screaming bloody murder, which, Brick decided, she had a perfect right to do.

"Drop your weapon. I have no desire to kill you." He held the sword straight, aiming for the heart. His hands were steady, his elbows locked, his knees loose, ready to move should the man present more of a challenge than he anticipated. Brick looked into the rapist's eyes, determining exactly how stupid the man wanted to be about all this.

The rapist debated his options, then taking a hint from the woman, started to run. He didn't even get one clean step before the tip of Brick’s weapon sliced the back of his right leg open, a lateral cut behind his knee. He went down hard, the knife flying.

"Drop it, hit the ground." The new command came from directly behind Brick, and he turned to see two uniformed patrolmen with guns. He'd never seen a gun before, but had no doubt he now faced what Bruce had described often enough.

Following shouted instructions, he was soon on his knees, hands behind his head, then on his stomach, gun muzzle against his neck, his hands roughly chained behind him, while the two men called for back-up and an ambulance. 

"Will you look at the size of that sword," the one policeman said to the other. "Looks like Sir Lancelot’s in town."

"Yeah, that's all we need in this town, another frigging weirdo."

Silently Brick growled, and knew his father wasn’t going to be pleased with this latest development.

• • •

Betsy J. Bennett lives in Michigan with her husband, two adult daughters, three obnoxious cats and an English bulldog. She has five grandchildren. She collects dragons, creche's and Santas. She has always believed in Christmas and in Santa, and although she has yet to meet the real Santa, she has hope that with the publication of this book he'll seek her out. She is currently at work on her next novel.

Find Betsy online --


Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Troy Lambert: Stray Ally

It's our pleasure to introduce another new-to-Tirgearr Publishing author, Troy Lambert.

Troy isn't a debut author. He's actually had a great run with his successful series, the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series: Redemption, Temptation, and the soon to be released finale to the series, which has yet to be announced (you heard it here first ;-) ). Troy has also published a collection of short stories in Broken Bones, as well as contributed short stories to Stanarium, Dragonthology, and the wildly successful Happily Ever Afterlife, proceeds of which go to charity.

Busy, busy man! But that's not all. Troy is also a researcher, editor, and public speaker. No matter how busy he is with work, he always has time for his family, sports, and anything else that looks like it might be fun. Can we say 'big kid'?

Today, Troy celebrates his latest release, Stray Ally. This is the story of a man called Todd Clarke who, after a car accident, finds himself in a strange and terrifying situation. Accused of murder and pursued by a military commander with ties to terrorism, Todd finds himself partnering with a stray dog he calls Sparky. Sparky is no ordinary dog, though. Together, they must find out what the Commander is up to. Can Todd and Sparky discover the Commander's plan and stop him in time? Well, you'll have to read this fascinating story for yourself to find out!

Stray Ally is a nonstop page-turner of a read. Troy's voice resonates on every page and his words pull you into the story and keep you there until the last page. What starts off as a common accident, quickly escalates into a fight-for-your-life situation. Todd's character is well-developed, and as far fetched as it may seem, Sparky comes alive on the page and a true protagonist. While this story is purely of Troy's creation, one can't help but find a similar storytelling style to the master, Dean Koontz, who often uses intelligent canine's as secondary protagonists. I, for one, would love to see either a sequel to Stray Ally, or another story with similar canine characters.

As I said, Troy is a very busy man, but he's also on the lookout for fun. Some of that fun included having a quick chat with us. So before we get to the excerpt for this story, let's visit with Troy.

Welcome to Heart of Fiction, Troy, and congrats on the release of Stray Ally. It's certainly not like anything you've written before. And thanks for taking time out of your ski schedule . . . I mean work schedule to have a chat with us.

You're so busy with various projects. How do you make time for writing? What is your daily writing routine like?
I start early, usually about 5 a.m. I write early, and then do other writerly things, including editing and research throughout the day. I often write again at the end of the day and lately have been doing writing sprints with word count challenges in an effort to complete projects faster and stay more focused and accountable.

I’m a bit of a workaholic, so I have been told that my routine is a bit out of the ordinary, but between writing, editing and research added to other miscellaneous projects, I work about 60- 70 hours a week.
Wow! That's close to 12 hours a day. That's what I call dedication! Would you describe your writing space?
My writing space is one of the technological wonders of the world. Dual screens, powerful computers, tablets, and two printers (one inkjet, one Laser) all decorate the office. An old fashioned white board and a gas fireplace add atmosphere. Of course I also have a zen garden, a paper wall calendar, and old fashioned files. I’ve just added my first real piece of modern art, a print of ‘The Boy’ by Esau Kessler, but I have yet to have it framed. The mantle is decorated with small framed prints of my book covers, and some Big Lebowski references.

Of course the dogs hog the space in front of the firelplace, and if I leave papers on the floor, my lab will choose to lay on top of them, rendering them useless. Part of the cost of sharing space with a Stray Ally.
Ah! Do we see some inspiration for Stray Ally before the hearth? Dual screens are certainly enviable. Makes for some great multitasking, eh?

What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
I’m a skier, cyclist, hiker, and general outdoorsman. I love history, and retracing the steps of the early pioneers of the west, visiting mine sites and other historic sites are high on my list.

I plant to do more of that fun type stuff this year. As I said, I’m a workaholic, but I’m in recovery. I’d go to meetings, but who has time for that, am I right?

What was that first step again? Never mind. Nice chatting with you. I think I’ll get back to work.
Work eh? With ski season upon you? (envisioning Troy on a bobsled with a laptop mounted to the front)

Thanks for chatting with us, Troy, and best of luck with Stray Ally.

Before we get to an excerpt, be sure to drop Troy a note in the comments below **with your email address** to enter the draw for a copy of Stray Ally.

• • •

A strange accident on the freeway, accusations of murder, and an encounter in the Idaho wilderness all
propel Todd Clarke into a new friendship with a dog named Sparky. But Sparky is no ordinary dog, and there is more going on than Clarke could have imagined.

A military commander he investigated for Aryan activity and links to domestic terrorism is after him, and he’s not sure why until another chance encounter provides the answer.

With Sparky and the help of his canine friends, will he be able to figure out the Colonel’s plan and stop him in time? All Clarke knows for sure is none of it would be possible without the help of his Stray Ally.

The skateboard collided with my windshield, and I braked with both feet, screeching forward. The body hit the glass next, spider-webbing it as the skater’s helmet-clad head struck the glass in the center of my vision. The rear view mirror separated from the window and hit the center of the seat with a thud as the car skidded to a stop.

Marsha is gonna be pissed, came the unbidden thought. We just replaced this windshield.

Where did he come from? Creedence still blared from the stereo speakers and I turned the ignition key to the rear. Silence descended, broken a moment later by distant sirens.

I lifted my hand and felt wetness on my forehead, cut by—something. Glass? Must have been.

I opened the door, dazed. Under the helmet, a young face offered a blank stare. Nothing but blackness in the eyes: no color. Not good.

“You okay, kid?” I felt stupid asking. Stupider for expecting a response. “What were you doing on the freeway?”

I heard distant voices. Looked up. Kids, on the overpass above. Did he fall?

They pointed. One slugged the other one. A scuffle brokeout and they ran. All of them.

The sirens came closer. Another car pulled up, tires squealing as it stopped, rocking on its springs.

“What happened? Is everyone okay?” the driver asked.

Struck dumb, I just pointed. The skateboard rested half on the roof, half on the shattered windshield. The skater lay below it, unmoving, his left foot against the hood ornament, the Mercedes star cocked sideways.

“Is he..?”

He didn’t finish, but rushed over, feeling for a pulse, checking for breath. All things I should have done, but couldn’t.

He shook his head, glanced over at me. “What was he doing here?”

I shrugged.

“Did you see him?”

Head wag, substituted for speech.

“Are you okay?”

Another head wag. I couldn’t articulate what was wrong.

You’re bleeding.”

I managed a nod, and then my legs gave out. I dropped to the pavement and grimaced as my tailbone impacted the hard surface. I heard a whimper. It must have been me, because the other driver rushed over.

I stared ahead, seeing and not seeing the scene.

The sirens got closer, red and blue light illuminated Marsha’s car, the body, the skateboard, the chrome of her wheels, even making the brake lights appear to flash.

Help arrived, even though the boy was clearly beyond help. So was I, but no one knew it yet.

• • •

Troy began his writing life at a very young age, penning the as yet unpublished George and the Giant Castle at age six. He grew up in Southern Idaho, and after many adventures including a short stint in the US Army and a diverse education, Troy returned to Idaho, and currently resides in Boise.

Troy works as a freelance writer, researcher, and editor. He writes historical site characterization reports for those performing remediation on former resource extraction sites, software instruction and help guides, and edits the research of others as well. His true passion is writing dark, psychological thrillers. His work includes Broken Bones, a collection of his short stories, Redemption the first in the Samuel Elijah Johnson Series, Temptation the sequel to Redemption, along with the horror Satanarium, co-authored with Poppet, a brilliant author from South Africa and published by Wild Wolf Publishing. He has stories in several anthologies including the partially for charity Happily Ever Afterlife published by Untold Press.

Troy lives with his wife of twelve years, two of his five children and two very talented dogs. He is a skier, cyclist, hiker, fisherman, hunter, and a terrible beginning golfer.

Find Troy Online --

Where to buy -- Kindle US, Kindle UK, Smashwords

Don't forget to leave a comment with your email address for the draw!