Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday's Safe Word Shelf: Chained in Darkness by Nicholas Bella

Embraced: Chained in Darkness #1
I’ve been betrayed by someone I trusted. Because of him, I was captured by my loathed enemy: The vampires. Right now, the sun is still high in the sky, but I know when it sets, I’m as good as dead. They can’t wait to get their fangs into me. I guess some would say I have it coming. I did raise a lot of hell with my Resistance crew, and I was planning on raising a hell of a lot more at dawn before I was sold out by Jonah. The vampires, werewolves and dragons, have been trying to track me down for months and I’d always been two steps ahead of them.

*Laughs* I guess my number is up. I just hope they make it quick. You see, the vampires in my reality aren’t the romantic lot you read about in books. They don’t sparkle or hang out at high schools with their teenage girlfriends. Hell no, vampires are brutal, calculating, sadistic and bloodthirsty. As a matter of fact, all of the monsters are! That’s how they were able to take over the world so easily and change an entire civilization to suit their needs. Whatever happens, I know it’s not going to be pretty, so I’m preparing myself for the worst. May God help me.

***Warning: This novelette series contains hardcore sexual situations between men, not meant for sensitive eyes. I’m talking crude, lewd and full of attitude. This series will most likely either offend you or get ya revved up. This series isn’t going to be pulling any punches whatsoever, so you’ve been warned. Mature Adult Content meant for readers looking for something dark, taboo, sexy, and unapologetic in their paranormal erotica. This is NOT a romance. This novelette is approximately 13300 words.***

Punishment: Chained in Darkness #2
My worst nightmare has come true, I'm one of them now, a monster... the very thing I fought against. If that wasn't bad enough, I've been sired by one of the most powerful, sadistic and calculating vampire Lords in the city; Theoden. It's just the beginning of my new life, hell, I'm not even one night old as a vampire and already I wish they had decided to kill me instead of turn me. I guess this was my punishment for rebelling against them. They're clever that way. Theoden has promised to punish me for every offense I've made against him and I have no idea what's in store for me. I do know that it won't be pleasant. My night of pain and torment is just beginning.

Lessons: Chained in Darkness #3
My punishment at the hands of Theoden left me with wounds that scarred me to my core. That man has struck the fear of God into me and I don't know how to fight back. I don't know if I can. I feel like he's taking over who I was and making me into something he wants me to be. His slave and his disciple. I do know that I'm his property. His child, his blood runs through my veins and with it comes something so powerful that it consumes me in every way. He plans on teaching me what that means and I don't know who I'll be at the end of his lessons.

Submission: Chained in Darkness #4
I lay here, exhausted and more confused than when my night first started. I've just discovered something else about myself that I wish wasn't true. Not only do I have to feed on the blood of humans, I've also found out that I need the "essence of a man" as Theoden called it, in order to survive. If that isn't enough on my plate, I know Theoden wants to break me down even more. He won't be happy until he's taken every part of me that wants to fight him and crushed it under his foot. He wants me to submit to him and I only pray that I can resist his hold over me.

Control : Chained in Darkness #5
As I awaken to this new night, I have no idea what Theoden has planned for me. I know there are more lessons he wants to teach me… I just don’t know how painful… or how pleasurable they will be. I do know that I’ve given into Theoden in ways that I’d never thought I would. Not only that, but he’s made me feel… pleasure unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I want to resist him, I need to resist him, but I’m finding it nearly impossible to resist him. His hold over me is stronger than my will to fight him and with each passing day, I know that I’m losing this battle. On top of personal experiences, I’m discovering secrets the human world never knew. I’m beginning to understand why the humans lost the war and how insignificant my rebellion actually was. This realization has been the cruelest lesson of all.

Acceptance: Chained in Darkness #6
This book is the final episode of Season One.

It's a new night and that means more of Theoden's lessons, one of which I was still recuperating from. I was so out of control last night and if my current physical condition is any indicator, my brothers definitely had their way with me. As far as my relationship with Theoden goes, I can't help but feel drawn to him. I feel as though he’s accepting me as I'm accepting him in some morbid way. I don't know... maybe it's because I know I don't have any choices. There's no way out for me. I'm his and we both know it. Maybe there's still some fight left in me, some little nugget of Noel the man that hasn't been consumed by Noel the vampire. One can hope. I do know that this night feels different, like I’m coming to the last lap of a long, rigorous race. What is to become of me when this night comes to an end?

Command, House of Theoden, Season 2, Book #1
Coming February 2, 2015
ThΓ©oden: On the evening of branding my new son, Noel, my King has called a special meeting of his Court. I can't possibly guess what this meeting is about, as everything within his kingdom is running perfectly. I do know one thing, Ara loves to entertain and be entertained, so at least that's something to look forward to. What I'm not looking forward to is having to see Nolan, Lord of District Four. We really don't get along. Well, as for my children, when the Master is away, the boys will play. In fact, I insist on it. 

Noel: I've just received my official brand, the insignia of the House of ThΓ©oden. Along with the brand comes a load of responsibilities I am to adhere to. Apparently, my new life involves being an enforcer. I'm to be trained by Marco, my eldest and most sadistic brother. I'm not looking forward to that, not one bit. At least tonight, I'll get a reprieve. For tonight, we celebrate as only the House of ThΓ©oden can. 

***Warning: This serial contains strong adult content not meant for sensitive eyes. The novelettes in this serial will be filled with dark, twisted, raunchy and steamy scenes between powerful, sexy men that will either offend you or get ya revved up. This series will not be pulling any punches, and it won’t apologize for hurting your feelings, either. You’ll find no fluff and ruffles here. The vampires are not misunderstood, hopeless romantics looking for love. The werewolves are not cute and cuddly and the dragons aren’t the ones from your childhood. This is NOT a romance. There are approximately 19,000 words in this novelette.***

Author Bio:
About me? Hmmm, I'm just a person with a wild imagination and a love for words who was sitting around the house one day and said, "Why hasn't anyone written a book like this before?". As with every storyteller, I wanted to share mine with the world. I like my erotica dark, gritty, sexy... and even a little raunchy. I'm not afraid to go there and I hope you aren't afraid to go there with me. When I'm not writing, I love watching movies and TV shows, clubbing, biking, and hanging out with family and friends. I love life.









Brought to you by:

Sanctuary by Pauline Creeden

TITLE –  Sanctuary
SERIES –  Sanctuary
AUTHOR –  Pauline Creeden
GENRE –  YA Thriller/Science Fiction
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 268 pages
PUBLISHER – AltWit Press
COVER ARTIST – Najla Qamber
First Place Winner of 2014 Gold Award Readers Favorite YA Horror
First Place Winner of 2013 Dante Rosetti Award in YA Fiction

What if the Biblical End Times unfolded in a way no one told you about and the rapture didn't happen before the tribulation began...

"Makes you afraid of the end times again." - D. M. Dutcher for Sword Cross Rocket

"Sanctuary crosses boundaries and borders and incorporates elements of all kinds of action and intrigue, from thriller-like adventure to a post-apocalyptic tale of life after aliens invade. Thus it will delight readers seeking something truly different, while disappointing those who anticipated a shallow, one-dimensional subject and story line." - Midwest Book Review
Left Behind for the Hunger Games generation

In a heart-racing thriller described as Falling Skies meet The Walking Dead, Jennie struggles to find a safe place for what’s left of her family. But it seems as though there is no place sacred, no place secure. First the aliens attacked the sun, making it dimmer, weaker, and half what it used to be. Then they attacked the water supply, killing one-third of Earth’s population with a bitter contaminate. And when they unleash a new terror on humankind, the victims will wish for death, but will not find it…

When the world shatters to pieces around her, will Jennie find the strength she needs to keep going?

     When Jennie reached the back door, she saw them. Four large dog-like creatures with pinched faces like bulldogs and lion-like manes. They snarled, and one of them leapt at the window on the top half of the door when it saw her. Jennie jumped back and fell hard on the cold tile floor. The bottle of painkiller bounced across the kitchen tiles. The creature slammed against the window a second time, cracking it. She blinked hard. Her heart sunk, and the hairs on her arms stood on end. A horrendous gargling howl rent the air, causing a shiver down her spine. She held her breath and waited for the creature to slam into the door again.
     “What on earth?” she whispered to herself.
     When the third attempt never came, she scrambled toward the door. Blinking hard, she used the door knob to help herself stand. Out the cracked window, her mother was still out of sight, but the last of the dogs headed across the field behind her backyard.
     “MOM?” Jennie called out.
     The rumbling faded, and the vibrations in her chest receded with the dogs. She pulled open the door and rushed onto their back deck. “Mom, where are you?”
     When she reached the banister, she looked over the side. Her mom lay sprawled with one hand on the lattice. Blood gushed from Mom’s leg and her opposite arm. Jennie’s ears rang and flooded with every beat of her heart.
     Jennie didn’t know how she got to the second floor of her house, but she found herself shaking her sleeping father. How had he slept through the rumbling? “Outside, it’s Mom…”
     Her father leapt from the bed. Mickey, her little brother, lay asleep and undisturbed. Dad ran down the stairs and outside in his flannel pajama bottoms and white t-shirt. He scooped Mom up to his chest and carried her inside. Blood stained his shirt in crimson.
     “Jennie, call 911!”  Her father had said it at least three times before it finally registered in her brain.
     She pulled the cell phone from her pocket, but it refused to connect. With a groan, she grabbed the cordless from the wall receiver, glad her heart stopped pounding in her head so she could hear.
     “All operators are busy at this time,” a mechanical voice deadpanned, “Please stay on the line, and the next available operator will take your call.”
     “They have me on hold, Dad. Should I hang up and try again?” She held the phone in both hands away from her face.
     “No, just stay on the line.” Her father lifted the shredded jeans from Mom’s leg. “It looks like a shark bite. What on earth happened?”
     Jennie took in the damage through tear-filled eyes. A huge chunk was taken from her mother’s calf, exposing the fibrous tendons that covered the bone in her leg. A bloodstain grew on the beige couch. Was she going to die? Panic rose up.
     “What happened, Jennie?”
     “I...I...They looked like lions, or dogs, or something. The rumbling shook the whole house…I tried to go outside to get Mom, but—” A sob blocked her throat.
     Her father grabbed a throw pillow and held it against the leg. Mom’s exposed forearm laid across her chest in much the same condition as her calf.
     “Grab me the duct tape.”
     Jennie suddenly remembered the phone, put it back to her ear, and headed to the hall closet. She reached for the shelf above the jackets and grabbed the junk basket next to the toolbox.
     “Please stay on the line. An operator will be with you shortly.”
     She shoved the phone in the crook of her neck and fished through the box.  Half the contents dropped around her feet. Who cares? When her fingers wrapped around the silver duct tape, a short-lived relief sent prickles down her arms. But the urgency gripped her chest in less than a heart beat, and she threw the junk basket on the ground with the rest of the items.
     “Hurry, Jennie!” her father called from the living room. “And turn on the TV. Maybe they’ll have something about what’s going on.”
     She handed her father the tape and turned toward the TV. The mechanical voice on the phone came through again, followed by more easy listening.
     When she clicked on the TV, the shouting and wailing began before the picture warmed up on the screen. A sideways picture of New York City broke through, with the shaky voice of the newscaster voicing over.
     “What we are watching now – I can’t believe it – is live footage of Times Square,” the newscaster’s voice paused for a deep breath. “We’ve lost our man on the scene and his camera man to what appears to be some kind of new alien creature. Just a short half-hour ago, the doors to the ship that hovered above Central Park opened and these dog-like creatures flooded out.”
     Jennie couldn’t pull her eyes from the screen. She straightened and dropped the phone on the hardwood. The battery popped out and skidded across the floor.

Author Bio:
Pauline Creeden is an award-winning author, horse trainer, and overall book ninja. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been a #1 Bestseller in Christian Fantasy and been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine. Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Gold Award for First Place YA Horror Novel.


Brought to you by:

The One Thing by Briana Gaitan

Title:  The One Thing
Series: Hollywood Timelines Book Two
Author:  Briana Gaitan
Genre:   Contemporary Romance
Release Day:  January 16th 2015

***Warning: Intended for ages 18 and up***
When everything falls apart, he's the one thing that holds me together.

Ginger Teague may seem like your typical Hollywood actress with the famous boyfriend, designer clothes, money, and hit TV show, but constantly being in the public eye has its downside.

People seem more interested in her chaotic relationship with her on again/ off again boyfriend than her acting career,and Ginger isn't dealing with her new found fame in a way she always envisioned. She masks her unhappiness with too many parties and an unhealthy habit of binge drinking. As much as she wants love, men find her as a pretty amusement, not the type of girl you take home to mom and dad.

When she meets Caspian Norwood, they quickly begin a regimen of flirty emails.

He's a struggling musician that doesn't quite fit her idea of the perfect boyfriend.

He's older, mysterious, cultured, knows exactly what to say and do in all the right situations, and Ginger can't help falling for him. But the world is against them, pushing them apart, and it's beginning to feel as if they're only meant to be friends.

The One Thing is a standalone novel and book two in the Hollywood Timelines series. You met Ginger in The Last Thing, now hear her love story.

     I lean back against a brick wall to catch my breath and regain my composure. I slide down against the brick until my I can lean my face into my knees and take a few deep breaths.
     “What’s a pretty young thing like you doing wandering the streets all alone?” a voice says from beside me. Looking up, I blink against the bright sun to try and find the source. I stand up.
     “Over here.”
     I follow the sound of the voice and spin around to see a lanky guy, a little older than me, sitting on the stoop of an old brick auditorium. My eyes graze his shaggy, dirty blond hair that falls in his eyes and his strong, square jaw. When he smiles, there’s a cute dimple in his left cheek. His eyes are kind, clear blue engulfed with dark lashes. My eyes move downward against his lean chest and tight skinny jeans. As if on instinct, I flashed him a flirty grin. Man, this guy is beautiful…in a grungy skateboarder kinda way. 
     “Just taking a leisurely stroll,” I comment. I examine the cigarette in his hand and wrinkle my nose a bit. He notices my displeasure and smashes the butt under his old converse. Converse? No, no, no. I talk myself down. He takes a swig of water from a plastic bottle and sets it down on the ground. This guy isn’t cute, he’s shabby. He’s an emo. He’s—and I’m—he isn’t my style at all. Oh, gross. How could I have stooped so low as to even for the briefest moment consider him attractive? I tend to go for more classic, metro-sexual men. Armani suits, expensive cars, slicked back hair and Rolex watches. That’s what turns me on; not smokers with tattoos. Though from what I can see of his, they look quite impressive. A flash of something large on his right bicep, but I can’t make it out. Not wanting to get caught staring, I look up at the bright sky instead. The urge to walk away consumes me, but I need another moment to catch my breath and rest my aching feet. He stands up and walks closer, making my heart pound against my chest. Oh, shit. I stare straight ahead at his old gray tee shirt and black jeans that hug his body. He stops right in front of me and rests an arm on the wall behind me to support himself.
     “You look really lost. Need some help?” 
God, that sexy voice. Heat begins to pool between my legs. No, this isn’t a safe position. He’s a stranger! I straighten up and look into his face, that beautiful face. Focus, Ginger!
     “I’m not lost. Would you kindly back off?” I snap. 
     Men don’t randomly offer to help women. They always have ulterior motives. They always expect something in return. He backs up with his hands out in front of him in surrender. His face is sincere, honest. Like I even know what that looks like.
     “Hey, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m only trying to offer you some local hospitality.” 
     I sigh in exasperation and pull my phone out to check the time.
     “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m late to an audition, like it even matters now. I won’t get the job anyway, and your little distraction.” I dangle my fingers in the air at him. “It isn’t helping either.”
     “Their loss.” He shrugs while giving me a wide smirk that makes my body tingle. 
     He has perfectly straight white teeth. It’s amazing. It’s the kind of teeth that only dentist’s kids have. I lean in to get a closer look at his mouth. Stop that! Just look at him. He will use you and throw you away with a broken heart. He isn’t a safe choice. My word, how does he keep them so white with all the smoking? Stop it, Ginger!
     “Are you okay?”
     I realize I’m scowling at him, and staring at his teeth like a gawking monkey. I’m tempted to smile, but refuse to. Attraction or no attraction, I’m not about to let him know how affected I am by his presence.
     “I’m fine, thanks for asking. You can go back to…whatever it is you were doing.” I wave my hand as if he’s a minion out to do my bidding.
     He laughs, but doesn’t take the hint. “I’m just taking a smoke break between sets. We’re doing a sound check for a show tonight. Hey, you should come check us out.” He motions toward the building beside us, an ancient looking place. Great, he’s a musician. They’re even worse than actors. I raise an uninterested slim brow at him, but don’t say a word.
     “Doesn’t like music, duly noted.” He laughs again. It’s so intoxicating. He articulates all of his syllables, but I can’t pinpoint the accent. His voice isn’t suave or deep, he definitely sings with a wide range, kind of like Ben Gibbard. That’s right; I like music. In fact, I love music and Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favorite bands. I just don’t like the reputation that precedes musicians. I open my mouth to protest, but stop. I don’t need to explain myself to this guy.
     “Thanks for the neighborly concern.” I roll my eyes and wait for him to go back inside, but instead we both anxiously stand there daring the other to walk away first. With a crooked grin plastered upon his devilishly handsome face, he digs into his back pocket to pull out another cigarette. He lights up, but blows the smoke away from me. My nostrils flare, and I have to keep from kneeing him in the balls. How dare he trap me in a corner while he puffs on those death sticks. Such a disgusting habit, if you ask me. After a minute, I give up, push myself off from the wall, and turn my back to him.
     “Have a good one!” he calls out from behind me. “Fuck you,” I mumble to myself as I strut away. I throw my purse over my shoulder and curse myself when a smile appears on my lips. He is an interesting character. It’s not every day I get to meet someone who isn’t a stuck up social climber. 
     My feet scream in agony with each step, but I refuse to turn around. Well, that is until I make it about two blocks down the road. Only then do I allow myself to stop and peek over my shoulder. He’s still standing in the same spot on the sidewalk. His eyes are locked on me, I think. From far away, his hair appears darker, making him seem more mysterious. When he raises his hand to wave, I quickly turn around. My pale skin heats in excitement. I haven’t been this worked up over a man in a long time, not since I first began dating Barrett. I should feel bad for getting so turned on by another guy when I just broke up with my fiancΓ©, but I’m not. Barrett screwed it up. Ergo, I don’t care.
     The crosswalk flashes green for me to go, but before I step across the street, I take one last look behind me. Disappointment fills me as I gaze at the empty sidewalk. He must have gone inside. Nashville is a big city, and I’m only visiting for a few more days before I return to LA. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever see him again. 

Someday You will be Loved by Death Cab for Cutie 
Circles by States
Hope You Stay Gone by States
Such Great Heights by The Postal Service
Girls Like You by The Naked and Famous
Punchline by The Cinema
Please by Staind
Oblivion by Bastille 
Reverse by Somekindawonderful
Now The One You Once Loved Is Leaving by Lydia
Stay Awake by Lydia
Once Upon Another Time by Sarah Bareilles
Bright lights and Cityscapes by Sarah Bareilles

A Lack of Color by Death Cab for Cutie
Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional
Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie
Holidays by Lydia
Knee Deep by Lydia
The Man Who Can’t be Moved by The Script
Ghost by The Cinema
Call it in the Air by The Cinema
Brothers on a Hotel Bed by Death Cab for Cutie
Brighter Lights by States

1. Ginger’s name came from a bratz doll that my daughter was playing with I was writing.
2. Caspian’s character is hugely influenced by a crush of mine, but I won’t tell you who.
3. The very first scene I wrote was the meeting between Ginger and Caspian in Nashville, and it was inspired by my own lost adventure in Music City.
4. The Norwood brothers are all named after characters in different C.S Lewis novels. Caspian, Peter, Edmund, and Tirian.
5. Ginger cracks me up sometimes, and she reminds me of Gretchen Wieners from Mean Girls.

1. I have three kids, a cat named Starbuck, and a Royal Python named Bert “Voldemort” Reynolds.
2. My mom and I were pregnant twice together.
3. I also write for It’s pretty fun because I can write about anything I want that’s not book related, plus go to awesome comic conventions and call it work. 
4. I’m a  typical southern gal, but have also lived in California. 
5. My son and I wrote a children’s book together. He created the story, and I was the first line editor. It was a major bonding experience.

1. There was never supposed to be a series, but as I wrote, the characters came to life and begged for more.
2. Just about all the characters are named after real friends, family, and acquaintances. 
3. I did a lot of research for the books. Including watching  celebrity reality TV, obsessing over tabloids, and Internet stalking. Kinda fun, but consuming.
4. The Last Thing is meant to be more of a fairytale romance, while The One Thing is meant to be more realistic.
5. I’m not sure if I will write anymore full-length books in the series, but have plans for short stories and novella. Up next will be Aly and Booker’s story.

Author Bio:
Briana Gaitan grew up in the South, but calls herself a geek at heart. She is a blogger,author,and fangirl who loves Star Wars, Star Trek, and Jewelry (bet you never thought you'd hear those three things in a sentence together) For fun, she loves watching any show on the SyFy channel, relaxing with her family, reading, and listening to indie music (sometimes all at the same time). Briana loves to write stories where there are no limits to the imagination. She is also the co-author of the fantasy Ethereal Underground series.


The One Thing

The Last Thing



The Queen's Gift by TR Allardice

Title: The Queen’s Gift
Author: T.R. Allardice 
Publication date: December 15th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Fifteen-year-old, late-bloomer Jean Elliott dreams of becoming a Genie like her mom. When her family relocates to Tokyo, Jean is forced to use sleight-of-hand tricks to fool everyone at school into believing that she’s a normal Preternatural or risk expulsion. When her power finally appears, it comes in the form of the Queen’s Gift–an unspeakable magic that strips power from all Preternaturals and heralds the arrival of the new queen.

After an absence of two hundred years, not everyone wants the monarchy to return and they’re willing to go to great lengths to keep the status quo. When buried secrets rip Jean’s family apart, she has a choice to make: Walk away and hope for the best or embrace the power that’s known to lead to madness in order to save her family.

Jean’s greatest dream has turned into her biggest nightmare and no matter how hard she tries, there’ll be no wishing the Queen’s Gift away.

     Everything I know about Tokyo can be found on page two hundred and fifty-seven of the Preternatural’s Travel Guide to Japan. It consists of three paragraphs—a whopping one hundred and fifty words—and in no way prepares anyone for the crushing size of the city or the cultural whiplash.
     Despite the upheaval that a move from Chicago to the other side of the world created, my first day at Tokyo International Preternatural School wasn’t much different from any other school day.
     I was late.
     To add to my humiliation, Mom personally dropped me off outside the administration office.
     “Jean, I know you don’t want to be here.” My mom, Queen of the Understatement, Ruler of the Obvious.
     There was no good way to respond, so I kept my mouth shut. When I’d begged my parents to let me attend a Preternatural school, Tokyo wasn’t what I had in mind. I thought we’d stay in Chicago. Near my friends. Near my old school. In case things didn’t work out.
     She brushed my long hair back to get it out of my face. “Do you have everything you need?”
     Mom didn’t mean lunch money or school supplies. She was referring to my magical contraband. The items I use to trick Preters into believing that I am just like them. I’m not. Not yet anyway. It’s my hope that being around other Preters will jumpstart my powers. Until then, I’d have to fake it.
     When pressed, Mom says I’m a late-bloomer. I had my doubts...but I was ready. I’m always ready. It was one of the stipulations for attending this school. To prove it, I patted the hidden compartments sewn into my shirtsleeves. “Good to go.”
     “That’s my girl.” She gave me a peck on the cheek, then rushed off to her classroom.
     Did I forget to mention that my mom’s a teacher here?
     I know. Lucky me.
     Mom glanced back, when she reached the elevators, and said, “Make a wish,” then snapped her fingers and disappeared. A plume of glitter-like substance appeared in the air where she’d stood, then quickly dissolved.
     Make a wish. Same principle as ‘break a leg’. Three simple words that when combined seemed harmless enough. Most people associated them with birthdays or falling stars. Happy moments. Special moments. Magical moments.
     Not me.
     I hate those three little words. All they do is remind me of just how common I am. No offense to humans. They’re born as Commons. They don’t know any differently. I do. And I’m reminded every night when I sit down for dinner with my Preternatural family just how much being common sucks.
     My backpack slipped. I shifted it higher onto my shoulder and glared at the heavy wooden doors that stood between the admin office and me, wishing I could snap my fingers and disappear, too.
     The red dragon handles on the doors were warm to the touch, as if the dragons recently breathed fire. Maybe they had. Or maybe the school cast a truth charm on the doors. Wouldn’t be the first school office that used one. Wouldn’t be the last. Not that it mattered. The spell wouldn’t work on me. One of the few perks of being powerless.
     The doors were intimidating, but not half as much as the administrative office itself. Located on the fiftieth floor of a high-rise, the office had floor-to-ceiling windows that framed Tokyo and made it look as if the city floated amongst the clouds.
     “Elliott-san, we’ve been expecting you,” a woman said as I stepped into the room. Small, with delicate features, her dainty bones seemed at odds with the inch-thick glasses perched on her tiny nose. The lenses magnified her eyes until they looked three times their normal size.
     “Not Elliott-chan?” Chan was often used to address young girls, or so I’d read.
     Her lips curved into a smile. “Are you a child?”
     “No,” I said.
     “My name is Ieto-san.” She gave me a bow.
     Mom told me on the flight that bowing was another way to say hello and show respect, but I didn’t understand how deep or shallow I was supposed to bow. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable. I gave Ieto a quick nod.
     Her nose crinkled and she sneezed.
     With a flourish of my hand, I produced a tissue and handed it to her. It looked like it appeared out of thin air, but actually it had come from my shirtsleeve.
     “Doumo arigatou,” she said.
     “You’re welcome.”
     “Sorry, but your transcripts have been delayed.” I expected this. “Should be finished with temporary schedule in moment.” Ieto’s imperfect English trumped my knowledge of the Japanese language.
     Transcript mix-ups came anytime you magically doctored school records. Mom hadn’t finished working on them yet. Of course this school didn’t know that, and I wasn’t about to volunteer the information. The last thing my family wanted was for anyone to know I’d transferred in from a Common school. Preters didn’t go to Common schools—ever.
     It was too dangerous…for the Commons. Preters didn’t have total control of their powers until they reached adulthood. I hadn’t attended a Preter school since the fifth grade, not since the…incident.
     That was also the year that Mom and Dad finally acknowledged that the powers—my powers—they’d been insisting were simply slow to develop were in fact totally nonexistent. Coincidence? I think not.
     Ieto stared at me, her nose twitching, as she waited to see if I had any questions. I didn't. As the perpetual new kid, I never had any questions. Her nose twitched again and she blinked several times.      I wondered if she was a mole Shifter, but that question was impolite to ask in any country.
     After an uncomfortable silence, she pointed to an empty chair. “Your Gakusei escort should be here soon.”
     Obviously nobody trusted me to get to class on my own today. I parked myself in the chair.
     The language may have changed, but despite the fact that this was my first Preter school in five years, it would be like all the others. I'd do my homework. Keep my head down. Kill time until we moved. It wouldn’t be long. Never was. I’d learned a long time ago not to get too comfortable. It only made moving harder.
     This was what you wanted, so suck it up.
     I opened my backpack and pulled out a notebook. The orange binder had the names of my two best friends from Chicago carved into its battered face. Three other sets of names had already been crossed out, marking the other cities that we’d lived in over the past couple of years. I ran my thumb over the newest names and swallowed the bitter taste of homesickness that welled in my mouth.
     Ieto went back to typing, my presence already a footnote in her memory. The rhythmic clack, clack, clack poked holes in the silence.
     My phone flashed the time. Least it was good for something here in Japan. I’d missed most of first period, but it hardly mattered. Today was orientation. I wouldn’t be attending any real classes until tomorrow, so I put in my ear-buds and cranked the music.
     A girl walked into the office and stopped in front of me. Before I could put my notebook down, she plucked an ear-bud out of my left ear and said, “Cell phones aren’t allowed in school. Neither are mp3 players or headphones of any kind. You must be Jean Elliott.”
     Yay, my student escort had arrived.
     My gaze locked onto a pair of greenish-purple knees the size of giant doorknobs that poked out from beneath a pleated black uniform skirt. The boney joints undulated beneath her skin as she shifted her weight.
     I’d worn my favorite pair of low-rider blue jeans and an over-sized gray Chicago sweatshirt. No one had said anything about having to wear a uniform. Mom conveniently forgot to mention it. This school just kept getting better and better.
     The girl cleared her throat. “You are Jean Elliott, the spell-casting, wish-granting Sensei’s daughter, right?”
     Sensei was Japanese for teacher. Why couldn’t she just say that?
     “That’s me.” My gaze rose and rose until it latched onto a Ghoul’s beaming face.
     I shrieked and pushed off with my feet. My shoulders slammed against the back of the chair, knocking it into the wall. It clanged so loud that Ieto jumped. The move didn’t put me out of reach of the Ghoul, but at least I had a chance of escaping if she attacked. I tried not to stare, but I’d never been this close to a Ghoul. Like ever!
     You would’ve stared, too.
     All Ghouls are big. This girl was no exception. At six feet and counting, her shoulders were wide enough to shame an American football player in full uniform. Her earth brown hair hung in two fat braids next to her ears. Dark blue-framed glasses bisected her flared nose. Her smile revealed a mouth full of razor sharp teeth encased in shiny silver braces.
     “You look like her.” She sniffed. “You smell a little like her, too. But I guess all Genies carry that flowery jasmine scent.”
     Did I forget to mention that my mom is a Genie? And not just any Genie, she’s one of the best wish-granters and spell-casters in the world.
     As I watched, the Ghoul pushed her eyeglass frames up with a thick finger and smiled wider. Visions of being swallowed whole flashed through my mind. I’m not very big. I had no doubt she could unhinge her jaw and polish me off in three or four bites without breaking a sweat.
     “My name is Karen Kim. Most people call me Kim-gakusei or Kim-san, but you can call me Karen.” The Ghoul stuck out her hand.
     I stared at the meaty catcher’s mitt with fingers and thought about the story of a poor shark that had, had the misfortune of attacking a Ghoul off the coast of Australia. By the time the thrashing finished and the blood cleared, all that was left of the Great White was a lone fin bobbing on the surface of the water.
     Was it safe to shake her hand? Ghouls weren’t known to eat other Preters, but they would if they were hungry enough and I wasn’t exactly what you’d call a normal Preternatural.
     As if on cue, Karen’s stomach growled...and growled...and growled.
     “Please don’t eat me.” Had I just said that aloud? My eyes closed and I groaned.
     Karen laughed.
     Not the reaction I expected.
     “Relax,” she said. “I’m not going to eat you.” She tapped the fashion magazine under her arm. “I can’t go around eating random Preters. Not if I want to be a supermodel.”
     It took me a moment to tear my gaze away from her stomach. Did she say model? I blinked. Was that supposed to be some kind of joke? I gave her a small smile and continued to stare. No way would      I comment on Karen’s declaration. Let somebody else break it to her that there weren’t any size eighteen Korean Ghoul supermodels. And if there were, they’d never graced the cover of Magical Vague or any other fashion magazine. Ghouls only came in two sizes, big and gigantic.
     Before anyone thinks I’m being harsh, they should know that at five foot two I won’t be a model any time soon either.
     Karen's brow furrowed. “Am I your first Ghoul?”
     I grunted noncommittally. It was either that or lie. Did Ghouls attack if you insulted them? Didn't know. Didn't want to find out. I looked to Ieto for help, but she steadfastly ignored my silent pleas. What kind of sadistic school was this?
     Karen snorted. “You look like you're going to be sick.”
     "Sorry." Nice Ghoul. Easy Ghoul. Stay calm. I pulled the other ear-bud out slowly and shoved the phone into my book bag. I’d heard that sudden movements might accidentally trigger an attack response.
     She shrugged. “I’m used to it." Karen’s gaze dropped away and her cheeks turned Granny Smith apple green, a Ghoul’s version of a blush. "Most people aren’t so honest about their feelings. I think we’re going to get along just fine.” She glanced over at Ieto, probably to see if she’d noticed, but the woman was immersed in her work. Karen cleared her throat and got back to business. “The school has assigned me to be your student guide for at least a week. I’ll show you where everything is, help you find your classes, and introduce you to some people. If you—”
     A bewitched radio roared to life on Ieto’s desk, interrupting Karen’s spiel. The broadcast started out in Japanese, then automatically switched to whatever language the listener spoke.
     “The Common news reported another sighting of the white monster. This brings the total number of sightings to seven. It was spotted last night near the electronics’ district of Akihabara. This is the latest in a rash of strange creature sightings from around the world. An emergency meeting of the Assembly has been called. Steps are being taken to detain the creature. A reward has been offered for any information on its current whereabouts. No further details are available at this time.” The broadcast ended abruptly.
     I rolled my eyes. “Some Common probably caught sight of a were-lion, were-dragon or were-something in mid-change.” Surprising, sure. Shocking, maybe, but hardly what you’d call news in the Preter world. “Must be a slow news week.”
     “No.” Karen shook her head, making her braids flop. “It’s not a Preter. That’s already been confirmed. And it’s not the same creature showing up all over the world. The descriptions vary from location to location.”
     Contrary to what she thought, I still believed the creature was a Preter having a good laugh at everyone’s expense. “If it’s not a Preter, then what is it?”
     “Nobody knows.” Karen’s dark brown eyes glowed with excitement. “That’s why a bunch of us are going monster hunting tonight. Want to come with?” All that was missing from the question was I dare you.
     I’ve been the new kid more times than I could count. I have had several self-appointed “friends”. Some even became real friends. Most resented the job and took pleasure in hazing me every chance they got. The question was, what type was Karen?
     “Sure, I’ll go.” I didn’t have a clue what I’d agreed to, since technically we were the monsters. No doubt tonight would turn out to be a pointless snipe hunt and I’d be the one left holding the butterfly net.
     “Great!” Karen flashed a frightening smile. “We could really use someone with your powers.”
     “Yeah.” I laughed nervously. “My powers are fierce.” They were so fierce they hadn’t bothered to show up yet. Was it too late to bow out? If Karen’s grin was any indication, then I already had my answer. I sighed. Some girls dream of having big boobs. I dream of being a Genie. Until that day happens...
     Sucks to be me.

How did you come up with the idea for The Queen’s Gift?
I actually came up with the idea after a trip to Tokyo, Japan. I felt so out of my depth there, yet utterly fascinated by the culture. I wondered what would happen if you sent a teenager there and she had to deal with school plus the cultural divide. Throw in some magic—or lack thereof, and you have a lot of potential conflict.

How many books will be in the series?
Right now, I have two more books planned, but honestly, it depends on what it takes to tell the story. I’d always planned for it to be a trilogy, but I knew there could possibly be four books in the series.

Are you working on any other books?
Yes, I’m currently working on two more young adult books that will be the start of two more series. They have boy lead characters and contain an ensemble cast much like The Queen’s Gift. One is set in Scotland and the other is in New York.

How do you pick the settings?
I tend to go with places I’ve been to so that I have a real feel for the location. Most of the time, I’m traveling someplace and suddenly a story idea comes to me. That’s what happened when I was in London last year. The story that came to me there is currently stewing in my subconscious.

Who are your favorite Young Adult authors?
There are so many great young adult authors out there. It’s going to be hard to name them all. Off the top of my head (and I know I’ll be forgetting some), my favorites are: Melissa Marr, J.A. Templeton, Holly Black, Tawny Stokes, Neil Gaiman, Rachel Caine, Richelle Mead, Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Maggie Stiefvater, Rachel Vincent, and Jennifer Armentrout.

Which Winchester brother would you pick?
Dean, but I do love Sam’s dimples. LOL!

If you could be any character, who would you be?
Probably Superman, but I am tempted by Iron Man and Spiderman.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I try to spend time with real people, though it doesn’t always work. Characters can be very demanding. ;)

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?
I’d probably go back to school and finish my degree. Not sure what kind of job I could get with a mythology degree though.

Last question. If you could have lunch with any writer, who would it be?
That’s easy. J.K. Rowling. Hands down. Thank you for having me.

Author Bio:
T.R. Allardice writes young adult, new adult, and humorous horror stories. Most of what she writes incorporates several genres. The content won't always be 'safe'. What's the fun in that? She is a member of the Horror Writer's Association, Novelist Inc. and the Author's Guild. She has thirty-one books published under another pen name.


Brought to you by: