Monday, April 27, 2015

BOOK TOUR [Excerpt + Giveaway] The Healer by C.J. Anaya




The Healer
by C.J. Anaya 
Release Date:  07/11/15
272 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Hope Fairmont is a normal teenage girl. She attends public school, gets good grades, has a normal best friend…sort of normal…and works as a janitor at the local hospital. Unfortunately, that’s where the ruse ends. Oh, sure, she might be tidying up hospital rooms here and there, but Hope is also using a gift she hides from everyone in order to heal any patients who might need her, which, in her mind is everyone.

She and her father may have been able to keep her healing gift a secret for most of her life, but there are others out there who know who Hope really is and what her gift for healing is truly meant to accomplish. Hope’s life spirals out of control when two, handsome young men mysteriously appear, claiming they must protect her from a demon god determined to end her life before she can fulfill her destiny.



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Tie shook his head and then opened his mouth as if to say something, but all that came out was a wheezing noise and then an alarming amount of blood. I looked at the gaping hole in his chest and began to panic, feeling certain Tie should have repaired what he could, and Victor should have healed him by now.
"Victor, why isn't he healing himself?" I asked anxiously.
"He can't," he said.
Victor opened his eyes and sat back looking defeated.
"Then you do it," I cried out. My voice was beginning to shake, and I knew I was about two seconds away from becoming as unhinged as Angie.
"I can't do it. I can't heal him." He buried his face in his hands.
"Quit telling me what can't be done, and tell me what can!"
"Nothing can be done, okay?" The look he gave me was awful. A look of defeat. "There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do. The sword that stabbed him was forged in the land of the dead, and I only have so much power at my disposal. What little power I did have I used to heal you when we were at the hospital."
I swallowed down the lump of guilt forming in my throat and let out a trembling breath.
"Even if I hadn't healed you tonight, I still wouldn't be able to help him. You can't heal a stab wound made from that kind of sword," he whispered. "Tie is going to die."




About the Author
C. J. Anaya began writing short stories for family and friends when she was thirteen years old. This soon morphed into an extensive project every year during Christmas as a way to create a fun and inexpensive Christmas gift.

Her passion for reading and writing led her to following her own dreams of becoming a published author. She was born in Utah and raised everywhere else. She even lived a few years in Brazil, enjoying the people, the culture and learning the beautiful language of Portuguese; a language she is still fluent in to this day. As a result of her exposure to varying peoples and cultures, her interests became varied as well.

As a mother of four children she is now a singer and a songwriter, a baker and a cake decorator, a dancer and a choreographer, a girl with a degree in Criminal Justice and a first time published author of YA paranormal romance and fantasy. She is also married to the most deliciously, handsome looking Latino. As always, she has plenty to write about.

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BOOK BLITZ [Interview + Giveaway] Voices by R.E. Rowe (The Reincarnation Series, #1)


Voices by R.E. Rowe
(The Reincarnation Series, #1)

Publication date: February 27th 2015
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Synopsis:
In a small town in Arkansas, two lives that seemingly have nothing in common will converge and change each other forever.  A brilliant but tormented street artist and an ex-track star whose career was cut short by a heart condition.
Aimee DeLuca had a promising athletic career before her heart gave out during a high school track and field contest. Aimee struggles to find her way after spending time with a deceased grandmother during a near death experience. Reizo Rush is a street artist whose torment fuels his desire to add color to the gray walls of the city. But Reizo’s tagging and the two voices only he hears land him in perpetual trouble with both his teachers and the law.
During a chance encounter, the two quickly find out they have much more in common than love. When they stumble upon a century-old storm cellar hidden underground on Aimee’s uncle’s ranch, they unearth a cellar full of artifacts and a hundred-year-old Will. Once the news of the discovery leaks out, a drug-dealing teen and a mysterious soul named General are determined to bury the truth along with anyone who gets in their way.


Interview with R.E. Rowe
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time? 
I love to read, listen to podcasts while working out on my treadmill, and read about the latest scientific discoveries. I'm basically a geek inventor at heart. I'll see a problem and work out how to solve it. An interesting part of inventing is that it requires world building. The inventor solves the problem by imagining the world with and without the invention. I apply some of these same techniques to my novels. I'd say the world building process is my favorite part of developing a story.

How do you discover the ebooks you read? 
I'm on the mailing list of a number of websites specializing in getting the word out about new ebooks. Sometimes I will do keyword searches on Amazon to search for a particular genre I'm interested in reading. Or I'll look at the top books in the book categories I'm interested in at that moment. I also use goodreads to learn about what my friends are reading. 

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? 
I do remember it. I was a freshman in high school. I wrote a short love story. I shared it with a few of my friends. They encouraged me to write more, but I became side-tracked with football and karate. Fiction took a back seat for a lot of years. Early on, I focused on non-fiction writing. Mainly science and technology papers and patent applications. I received my first patent when I was 20 years old for a tester device to test out circuit boards from avionics systems. US4472677. I told you I was a geek! 

What is your writing process? 
I'm part plotter and part panser. I used to love to start off with a concept without a plan. My writing took me all over the place. Sometimes it was super cool. Other times it was very frustrating. After writing a bunch of novels and tossing them in the recycle bin, I decided to start off with a short synopsis. That soon turned into a basic outline. Then I decided it was time to establish my cast, my plot, and setting before writing. Next, I blend all of that together into a story that I want to read. This is important since I will most likely spend months in that particular world with those characters. For example, in the Reincarnation Series, I start off with a tagger who hears voices and an ex-track star who experienced a near death experience. I defined the world and the challenges they'd face. I even detailed out the world: See Hack -or- Carmina's Notebook and Carmina's Diagrams. From that point, I let my imagination take over and write. Sometimes I adjust the outline if my characters insist. So I guess you could call me two parts plotter, one part panser. 

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you? 
I enjoyed Hardy Boys when I was young. Then Issac Asimov Robot series books. A little later, I read Larry Niven's Known Space books and fell in love with science fiction. After reading all of his books, I was hooked on reading. Eventually, my reading journey broadened to many different Genres. I soon found that I could enjoy any genre if the writing was good. I'd have to say that reading as much as you can is far better than any how-to class on writing. Reading the work of others, writing, and discovering one's voice is more fun than inventing! 

How do you approach cover design? 
There are a number of great cover designers out there I use depending on the type of cover I need. I recommend looking at covers of released books. Decide what style you like, then figure out what you want it to convey about your novel. Do some research to figure out who created it. Sometimes there will be credits given in the front matter of the book. For most of my covers, I use one particular cover designer I really like. (you can find her info in the front matter of some of my books). Other times I will use 99designs.com to run a contest for a new design. This is what I did for Carmina (book 4) in the Reincarnation series. See if you like it. You can find the cover reveal on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RickERowe?ref=aymt_homepage_panel 

What are your five favorite books, and why? 
That's not a fair question. My fav keeps changing as I read awesome work from authors. So let me answer that by sharing the titles of my most recent favorites. 1) The Coldest Girl in Cold Town - I never really liked vampire stories until this book. The writing is so awesome it drained all my blood (in a good way). 2) Shiver - I never really liked werewolf stories until this one. I was immediately sucked into a world that was both romantic and exciting. 3) The 5th Wave - cool sci-fi story. More specifically, I really enjoyed the journey of the book's protagonist, Cassie Sullivan. 4) The Universe According Verses Alex Woods - who wouldn't like a story about a kid who gets hit in the head by a meteor. 5) The Rithmatist - I found the world very different and super cool. 

What is your e-reading device of choice? 
I don't limit myself to one e-reading device. I use my iPhone, Kindle Fire, Kindle Voyage, iPad, and reading apps on my lap top. It just depends where I am and what I'm doing. It's a tool that allows me to read. So if I'm on the beach, it would be a Kindle Voyage. (small and easy to read in the sun) Reading at a coffee shop, it could be either the Fire or iPad. 

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing? 
I grew up in the SF Bay Area. I'd say I started to enjoy novels in my 20's after four years in the US Air Force. I loved to go to bookstores and hang out. I also took some teaching classes and discovered UC Berkeley and the surrounding area. It felt good to be a geek. Natural. Exciting. At that time, I read mostly technical books. But occasionally, I'd read science fiction novels. I suppose you might say, the more reading I did, the more I wanted to read. These days, I probably consume a novel per week. I used to update goodreads, but now I just use goodreads to discover other new books. Reading is just as important to writing to me. 

What's the story behind your latest book? 
I started the series off with two simple questions that have been explored over the ages. 1) Why do innocent people suffer? 2) If the afterlife is so awesome, why are we here? These simple questions sparked a ton of other questions. I started reading everything I could on the topic. I soon discovered hundreds of near death experiences and realized there was a common experience in most of them. I found professional studies on the topic of NDEs. I discovered the story I wanted to write and quickly realized it would span over a number of books. But most important to me, I wanted to write the series without focusing on any existing belief systems. After all, I was writing fiction. So, I spent time building the world using a variety of inspired ideas. An author friend of mine suggested I share the world. (Hack, Carmina's Diagrams and Carmina's Musings). I dreamed up a bunch of interesting characters and let them lose in my fictional world. Each book explores key aspects of the two main questions. For example, book 1 is all about innocence. Then book 2 takes off in a fun, fast paced paranormal thriller and doesn't look back. I promise all lingering questions will be answered in line with the fictional world. So I encourage readers to stick with it. There may be some questions that linger from book to book. But in the end those questions will be answered. It was so fun to write! Check out the book trailer to get the overall concept of the series. Maybe it will be a movie someday! hint hint




AUTHOR BIO:
When Rick isn't dreaming, you'll find him trying to discover why, figuring out how, uncovering ancient mysteries, writing a crazy fun middle-grade or young adult novel, inventing something seriously cool, or learning something new. He enjoys participating in science camps, writing conferences and talking to groups about creative topics such as the process of inventing, building worlds for science fiction and fantasy stories, and the importance of dreaming big.

Rick is a lifelong inventor and a named inventor on over one hundred patents. He has degrees in Avionics Systems Technology, Computer Science and an MBA from Florida Institute of Technology. His experience includes a wide range of engineering, technology development and management roles ranging from aerospace systems to gaming systems. He is a proud member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Delta Mu Delta Honor Society, and the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

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BLOG TOUR [Excerpt & Interview + Giveaway] Town from Hell (Dagger and Brimstone Book One) by T.W. Kirchner



Town from Hell
Dagger and Brimstone
Book One
by T.W. Kirchner

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal/Horror

Publisher: Short on Time Books

Date of Publication: April 19, 2015

ISBN: 1508982635
ASIN: B00V0R61H8

Number of pages: 274
Word Count: 76,636

Cover Artist: Tony Bryson

Book Description:

Seventeen-year-old Racer and his girlfriend Arloe want to be together despite resistance from her parents. In defiance of an upcoming separation, they run away for the summer, going totally off the grid to a remote town in the Nevada desert.

The teens think no one knows where they are—but they couldn’t be more wrong. Racer’s well-orchestrated plan for freedom turns into a nightmare from hell.

Lies, deception and betrayal blur his lines of reality, and he discovers everyone in town is hiding a terrifying secret, including Arloe.


Available at Amazon




The town appeared as a dot over the hill.  Five miles max.  Anticipation overtook my shaky nerves.  We passed several road signs that promoted ‘going green’ and ‘recycling.’  Another sign boasted Winthrop’s claim to fame: Home of the World Famous Green Links Heath Food line.
     An ancient gray truck with Nevada plates lumbered up the road.  We passed it on the left side like it was standing still.  The old dude driving the clunker stared at me through the open window, a cigarette clenched in his yellowed teeth.  Just as much smoke billowed from the cab as sputtered from the exhaust.  I wondered how the truck made it that far from town…or the old dude for that matter.  Neither he nor his truck modeled ‘going green’ with all the pollution they created.
     Any other time, I’d have ignored his stare, but it made me uneasy, more so after the gut-wrenching incident moments before.  I reassured myself it didn’t mean anything—no different than all the other stares I’d received though my seventeen years.
     I pulled off the highway into a run-down gas station on the edge of town, a half mile past the faded wooden ‘Welcome to Winthrop’ sign that likely would topple over in the next stiff breeze.  It didn’t surprise me when Arloe hopped off my bike and flew around the side of the mini-mart toward the ladies’ room.  She didn’t even wait to take off her helmet.  Her urgency made me laugh because I’d always kidded she had the bladder of an ant.  What amazed me was that she hadn’t asked to stop at all in three hours on the road.  For her sake, I hoped the bathroom didn’t require a key.
     The midday sun blazed hot, yet the intense heat didn’t seem to affect the flies swarming around the overflowing garbage can placed between the two retro pumps.  As I stood up, my butt peeled in layers from the leather seat.  My jeans and boxers fused to my legs from sweat.  I’d never traveled that long a distance on my bike before without stopping, and my aching legs paid the price.
     Even after I took off my sweltering black helmet and hung it on the handlebar of my once black, now gray-looking bike, the slight breeze didn’t give me any relief.  In fact, it was worse.  The breeze simulated a blow drier set on hot, pointed at my face.
     A few stray flies abandoned the trash and went on the attack, buzzing around my sweaty head and biting my arms.  I hoped the attraction didn’t indicate I smelled worse than the trash.  One black fly landed on my right bicep inside of my new dagger tattoo.  My hand nicked the annoying pest, but it had already bitten me and buzzed away.  The skin around the tattoo immediately tingled and itched.  Damn.  I ran my hand across my hair.  It was sticky and wet because I sweated faster than the air could dry it.
     As I staggered toward the door to pay for a fill-up, I tried to stretch the stiffness out of my legs while I pulled areas of my soaked jeans away from my skin.  Halfway across the parking lot, the heat from the asphalt felt like it had eaten through the soles of my boots.  It wouldn’t have surprised me if they melted like crayons into a waxy puddle.
     The desert excursion proved interesting at best, so far.  My dark blue jeans had lightened by two shades of dust, my white T-shirt had darkened by two shades of dust, and sandy grit crunched between my teeth even though the helmet’s face shield had been down the whole time.
     When I pulled open the glass door of the mini-mart, a rusted cowbell clanked across it.  The metal made an ear-splitting slap, and I expected the murky glass to shatter or at least crack, but it didn’t.  I slinked through the door thinking I’d attracted unwanted attention, but the place was almost empty.  The top of the attendant’s head showed behind the counter, but my presence went unacknowledged.  What did I expect in a town of fifty residents that boasted a twenty-foot rattlesnake fashioned from beer bottles as the main attraction?  I ducked into the first aisle.  The half-stocked shelves carried very few of the usual mini-mart snacks but a lot of the Green Links Health Food products.  A half-filled refrigerated section stretched across the back wall.
     I walked up the second aisle before approaching the faded, red counter, covered almost entirely by paper ads and signs.  The middle-aged attendant relaxed on a wooden barstool with her feet resting on a two-foot stack of magazines piled on the floor.  She slumped over to browse through a magazine spread out on her lap.  The tabletop, portable fan behind the counter blew her frizzy hair all around.  It made an annoying click each time its blades completed a rotation.
     The attendant ran her knobby pointer finger along the page while she read.  She must have reached the end of the article because she looked up and pushed her wire-framed, granny glasses down on the bridge of her pointy nose.  “Kin I helps ya?”
     This time, I stared.  Her dental work looked like she’d tried to stop a bowling ball with her face.  She lacked every other tooth, and the remaining few resembled gray and yellowish nubs.  She only needed a wart on her chin and a long black dress.  The broom already leaned up against the wall behind her.
     I placed a twenty on the counter.  “Yeah, I need a fill-up.”
     The attendant slid off the barstool and set the magazine down.  The legs on both her and the stool creaked and wiggled.  She tugged at the bottom of her black, oversized tee and pulled up her baggy jeans.  They hung pathetically off her emaciated frame and were frayed at the bottom where they dragged the floor.  She picked up the money, sniffled loudly, and wiped her nose on the back of her vein-popping hand.  “Which pump?”
     I gazed out the huge, front window.  The station only had two pumps, and my bike was the only vehicle around for at least a mile.  I bit my lip and choked back the smartass comment that popped into my mind.  “Pump two, please.”
     Witch Hazel pushed a gold button on the ancient cash register and the drawer barely slid open.  With the swiftness and grace of a baboon wearing a baseball glove, she placed my twenty in the drawer.  I tried to figure out how that register could possibly be connected to the pump when she enlightened me.  “Go on and pump.  Lemme know how much it comes to, and I’ll give ya your change back.”  She slammed the drawer closed.  She looked me up and down.  “You ain’t from around here, are you?”
     I wiped my forehead on the sleeve of my T-shirt, exchanging a layer of sweat for sand.  “No, how’d you guess?”
     She pointed from the cubic stud in my nose, to the gold ring through my eyebrow, and at the three tattoos on my right arm.
     I shrugged.
     She smacked her cracking lips and turned away, only to pick up the magazine and plop back on the creaky barstool.
    I’d already forgotten about the cowbell, and it smashed into the glass again when the door closed behind me.  As I headed over to my bike, Arloe came from around the corner, swinging her helmet back and forth by the chin strap.  She smiled like she’d won the lottery.
     I pushed the nozzle into the gas tank and flipped the lever, unable to hold back my grin.  “Feel better?”
     Arloe hung the bright purple helmet I’d given her on the bike’s handle and snuggled up against me.  She smelled sweet from the freshly-applied cherry lip gloss.  When she smiled, her eyes sparkled as much as her pink, shiny lips.  “Lots.”  Arloe ran her hands through my damp hair to spike it up and took a step back to admire her handiwork.  “But now I’m thirsty.  Can we get something to drink?”
      She had me so totally captivated that when the pump clicked off, I jerked.  Arloe smirked, but I pretended not to notice and replaced the nozzle.  “Sure.  Witch Hazel will hook us up inside.”
     She stared at me with her eyebrows lowered and shoved her hands in the back pockets of her acid-washed, body-hugging jeans.  “Who?”
     I shrugged.  “Never mind.  Bad joke.”
     She gently slapped my hand.  “Racer, stop.”
     Without realizing I’d done it, my stubby fingernails had scratched the area around my dagger tat to a bright red.  I shoved my hand in my pocket.
     While she examined my bicep, she grimaced.  Her smooth fingers glided along my skin, but her voice had lost its sexy edge.  “Racer Roane.  You should’ve gone back to the tattoo shop.  It’s been two weeks and you’re still messin’ with it.”  She leaned back and stared into my eyes.  “Maybe it’s infected…or the ink was bad.”
     The first two tattoos never bothered me like that one had, and it did concern me.  I just didn’t want Arloe to know it.  Besides, I couldn’t do anything about it now anyway.
     Arloe pulled her silky hair back into a ponytail and swatted at a fly that attacked her face.
     I shooed the fly away and pushed a few stray strands of hair from her eyes.  “Just think, you could be in Spain taking classes right now, but you gave up the opportunity for all this.”
     She surveyed the empty desert and turned back to me, holding my calloused hands in her delicate ones.  Her eyes showed determination and a spark of renewed energy.  “No, I gave it up for you.  For us.  We’ll see Spain one day.  Together.”


1. If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
That’s easy—the power to transport from place to place instantly.

2. Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
It’s always rewarding when anyone, especially a child, tells me how much they loved my book.

3. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell will scare and entertain you while piquing your curiosity.

4. Favorite food?
Dark chocolate.

5. What book are reading now?
Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter

6. What’s your favorite season/weather?
I love the spring. It’s great tennis and hiking weather and fun to plant flowers and vegetables in my garden.

7. What was your favorite children's book?
When I was young, I loved the Happy Hollisters series written by Jerry West.

8. Beach or Pool?
Beach for sure.  I love to build sandcastles, to hear the sound of the waves and the salt-air smell that’s by the ocean.

9. What is one book everyone should read?
That’s tough because not everyone has the same taste in books. Of course, I’d recommend Dagger & Brimstone: Town from Hell if you like supernatural stuff.

10. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have another book in the Pirates Off series almost completed—at least, the first draft, and book 2 for the Dagger & Brimstone series is in the development stage. One of these days, I hope to get my two picture books published.





About the Author:

T.W. Kirchner is the author of the Pirates Off middle grade series and The Troubled Souls of Goldie Rich young adult series. Besides writing, she loves tennis, yoga, painting and gardening.  She lives in Las Vegas with her husband, two children, and furry menagerie known as the Kirchner Zoo.


Twitter: @TinaInLV


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Sunday, April 26, 2015

BLOG TOUR [Excerpt + Giveaway] Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep



Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1)
by Jennifer Estep
Publisher: K-Teen
Release Date: April 28th 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal

Synopsis:

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power. 

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick. 

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .





I neared the edge of the roof and put on an extra burst of speed, preparing myself to leap onto the one of the next house over. Lucky for me, the brownstones in this part of town were grouped closely together, with flat, square roofs, many of which featured gardens or even aviaries. This particular roof boasted both, and the roses fluttered as I raced past them, a few petals swirling up into the humid air, while the doves mournfully coo-coo-cooed about how I’d disturbed their sleep.
It was only a short gap between the rooftops, maybe three feet, and I easily cleared it, my feet churning through the air before my sneakers scraped against solid stone again.
I staggered forward a few steps, my coat flapping around my legs. While I worked to regain my previous speed, I glanced over my shoulder. Even though it was after ten at night, and rain clouds cloaked the sky, I could see the three guards chasing me as clearly as if it were noon, thanks to my Talent for sight. They looked like normal humans, and I couldn’t tell if they were boring old mortals or more interesting magicks like me.
The guards didn’t seem to have any Talents, any obvious magic. Otherwise, lightning bolts, ice shards, or even balls of fire would have been streaking through the air after me. Part of me sort of wished that the guards were throwing magic at me. It would have made my escape easier.
Because I had another, rather unusual Talent of my own.
But it wasn’t meant to be, and the men jumped onto the roof behind me as I leaped onto the next one over—the last on this block.
I raced over to the far side of the roof. This brownstone butted up against a street, which meant that the next building over was several hundred feet away, much too far to me to jump. And since this was a private home, there wasn’t even a fire escape to climb down, just a rickety metal drainpipe loosely bolted onto the side of the brownstone.
But I already knew that from when I’d cased the neighborhood earlier this evening. In fact, it was the reason I’d run toward this building.
So I dipped my hands into my pockets, sorting through the items there—the necklace box, the other loot I’d swiped, my phone, several quarters, half of a dark chocolate candy bar that I’d been eating earlier while I was watching the accountant’s house. Finally, my fingers closed over two pieces of soft, supple metal, and I yanked out a pair of dull, silver, mesh gloves, which I pulled onto my hands.
The guards easily made the leap. Well, really, for them, it was more like a hop, given how long their legs were. I turned to face them. The guards grinned and slowed down when they realized that I’d run out of rooftops.
One of the guards stepped forward. His green eyes glittered like a tree troll’s in the semidarkness, and his black hair was cropped so close to his head that it looked like he was wearing a shadow for a skull cap.
“Give us the necklace, and we’ll let you live,” he growled. “Otherwise …”
He swung his sword in a vicious arc, right at my shoulder level.
“Off with my head?” I murmured. “How cliché.”
He shrugged.
My hand dropped to my waist and the sword that was belted there. I considered sliding the weapon free of its black leather scabbard, raising it into an attack position, and charging forward, but I decided not to. No way was I going to the extra trouble of fighting three guards, not for the pittance that Mo was paying me.
“Come on,” he rumbled. “I don’t like carving up little girls, but I’ve done it before.”
I didn’t think he was being overly insulting with the little girl crack, since he looked to be at least fifty.
So I sighed and slumped my shoulders, as though I were beaten. Then I reached into my coat pocket, drew out the black velvet box, and held it up where the leader could see it. His eyes weren’t as good as mine—few people’s were—but he recognized it.
“This necklace?”
He nodded, stepped forward, and held out his hand.
I grinned and tucked the box back into my pocket. “On second thought, I think I’ll hang onto it. Later, fellas.”
I hopped onto the ledge of the roof, took hold of the drainpipe, and stepped off into the night air.
The wet metal slid through my fingers like greased lightning. It would have laid the flesh of my palms open all the way to the bone, if I hadn’t been wearing my gloves. The wind whipped through my black hair, pulling pieces of it free from my ponytail, and I let out a small, happy laugh at the sheer, thrilling rush of plummeting toward the earth. At the last moment, I gripped the drainpipe much tighter, until the screech-screech-screech of metal rang in my ears. But the motion slowed my descent and even caused a bit of smoke to waft up from my gloves.
Five seconds later, my sneakers touched the sidewalk. I let go of the drainpipe, stepped back, and looked up.
The guards were hanging over the side of the roof, staring at me with gaping mouths. One of them lurched toward the drainpipe, as if to follow me, but in his rush, he ended up ripping the top part of the metal completely away from the side of the brownstone. The rest of the drainpipe broke away from the wall and clattered to the ground, causing a few rusty sparks to shoot through the air. Looked like he was a magick after all, one with a Talent for strength. Chagrined, that guard turned to face the leader and held out the length of pipe.
The leader slapped him upside the head with the hilt of his sword. The second guard dropped out of sight, probably knocked unconscious by the hard blow. Apparently, the leader had a Talent for strength as well. The third guard eyed the sidewalk, like he was thinking about leaping over the ledge, but the roof was more than sixty feet up from the pavement. There was no way he could survive that high of a fall, not unless he had some sort of healing Talent. Even then, it would be a big risk to take and not worth the pain of the broken bones. The guard knew it too and backed away from the ledge, which was exactly what I’d been counting on.
When he realized that they weren’t going to catch me, the leader screamed out his rage and brandished his sword in the air, but that was all he could do.
I gave him a mock salute, then slid my hands into my coat pockets and strolled down the sidewalk, whistling a soft, cheery tune.
Nothing that I hadn’t done before.

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Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.
Her Elemental Assassin series follows the life and times of Gin “the Spider” Blanco, a barbecue restaurant owner who also happens to be an assassin with magical control over the elements of Ice and Stone.
The Mythos Academy series focuses on Gwen Frost, a 17-year-old Gypsy girl who has the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. She studies at Mythos Academy, a school for the descendants of ancient warriors.
Her Bigtime paranormal romance books feature sexy superheroes, evil ubervillains, and smart, sassy gals looking for love.

Estep’s new Black Blade series is about 17-year-old thief Lila Merriweather, who has a Talent for sight, along with the ability to take magic others used against her to boost her own powers. She tries not to get involved with the Families who control much of the town, but ends up in the middle of a potential turf war.