Steel Time Excerpt


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I had the very great privilege of reading Steel Time by J.L. Gribble in the beta stages, and I am so excited to share this excerpt with all of you! In a world with vampires, warrior-mages, weredragons, and sarcastic violin players, time travel seems like the obvious next step.


Steel Time Jacket.inddYou’re never too young or too old to experience a paradigm shift.

Toria Connor is 25 when tripping over an artifact in the ruins of Nacostina thrusts her a century into the past, before the city is destroyed during the Last War. Now, she finds herself alone. Adrift in a time where she must hide everything important to her, from her mercenary career to her true magical ability.

Victory is over eight centuries old when she follows her adopted daughter. She has seen empires rise and fall, but never anything like this. She must survive alone in a city inhospitable to vampires, dodging friends and foes from her past alike.

Both of them know the clock is ticking down to the moment when the city is wiped off the map. Now, they’re in a race against time. To find each other. To escape the past. And to save the future.

Currently Available From

Barnes & Noble
Direct from publisher
Carpe Librum (the author’s local indie bookseller)
Or support your own local independent bookstore by requesting a copy today!


It is possible to read Steel Time as a stand-alone book, but don’t miss out on Toria and Victory’s previous adventures!

Book 1: Steel Victory
Book 2: Steel Magic
Book 2: Steel Blood


The drive began in silence, but Toria didn’t miss the glances Liam made, as if he wanted to say something but didn’t know how. As if he’d had a better idea of how to handle her when she was an intriguing artifact to be studied, but now that she blended into his normal surroundings, he was more inclined to treat her like a boring human woman.

Well, that wouldn’t do. Toria might be in over her head, but she was never, ever boring. “Thank you for the delicious lunch today. And for orchestrating the appointment with Granny Tia. I’m not sure how I would have handled this on my own.”

“Lunch was my treat. You’re very welcome.” Liam maneuvered the large vehicle around a slower car. “So, you’re a governess?”

Ah, the next round of interrogation. “Something like that.”

“Is that something you were interested in continuing?”

Toria twisted herself to face him. Behind them, Hugh stared out the window as if the passing scenery was the most interesting thing in the world. “It’s an option I’d considered. I’m trained in a variety of things, so there has to be something I’m qualified to do here.”

“I hope you’re aware that it’s not necessary.” This time, Liam gripped the steering wheel with both hands, and tension strained his shoulders under his tailored sport coat.

“What the hell else am I supposed to do with my time?”

Liam flinched at her language, but didn’t respond until after he’d shifted gears and pulled into Hugh’s quieter neighborhood. “First of all, it might be a good idea to give you some lessons on the particulars of the future. You have some history to catch up on, and it might help you blend in better.”

“I see.” Toria tilted her head forward, as if eyeing him over the rims of the sunglasses she’d left behind in the future. “Teach me how to be a proper lady, is that it?” When the length of Liam’s silence made it obvious he had no immediate response, she gave an unladylike snort just to see him flinch again. “Okay, fine. Civilization lessons it is. When do we start?”

Liam slid the car to a smooth halt before Hugh’s house. “Will it suit you if we meet for lunch again tomorrow?” His fingers tapped the gear stick, and he avoided her gaze.

“I’m sure I’ll manage to fit it into my busy schedule.” Without waiting for a response, Toria exited the car and stormed toward Hugh’s front door. The door was locked, of course, so she threw herself into a rocking chair while Hugh exchanged his farewells.

Instead of unlocking the door, Hugh set the package of Toria’s clothing in front of it and settled into the other rocker. He lifted one arm in a wave, and Liam pulled away from the curb. When the car disappeared around the block, Hugh turned to Toria. “Gonna tell me what that was about?”

She tucked one foot under herself and pushed the rocker with the toes of her other. “I can’t imagine that Liam expects me to fritter away the rest of my life as a woman of leisure, even after he trains me to be a proper woman by Nacostina’s standards.”

Hugh matched her pace with his own rocking chair, lacing his fingers together across his stomach. “You have to remember that nothing like this ever happened during my time at the museum, and I started a good decade before Liam moved here from Europa, along with the head curator. But I know the annual budget includes funds for such incidents. I bet the compounded interest is…extensive, at this point. So, yes, you could be a woman of leisure for quite a while.”

The streetlights flickered on one by one, and down the street, an unseen mother called her children for dinner. “That doesn’t sit well with me.”

“And that right there is another reason I like you.”

Hugh seemed content to enjoy the warm evening air while Toria brooded. How much to tell him? Even though he agreed with her side of this odd moral dilemma, some context would not go amiss. But how much could she explain about her past in the context of the history she was creating for herself? What could she say without compromising the secret she must protect?

She could begin small, then gauge the rest from Hugh’s reactions. “I’ve never been a woman of leisure, though you could say I come from an upperclass background.” A quick glance to Hugh, who dipped his chin once in encouragement. “I have a college degree. More than one, if you consider I graduated in multiple specialties. I’m also a master-level mage, a status I obtained before college. And I have master-level status in the Mercenary Guild.” She held her breath. If he asked for details, her cover might fall apart. Her life story was colorful enough even without throwing in the warrior-mage thing. Or the adopted-by-a-vampire thing.

Hugh’s expression was more thoughtful than confused. “That does explain the muscles.”

His response startled a laugh out of Toria. “Like I said, the sword’s not just for show.”

“Can I ask why you won’t share all of this with Liam?”

“I don’t know.” Some of the tension bled out of her skin at Hugh’s calm responses. “I guess I don’t think he could handle it? He has such strong expectations and ideas about what he thinks is right.”

“Sounds like an elf to me.” Hugh shrugged one shoulder.

Toria curled her lips in a smirk. “Sounds like a man to me.”


Gribble photo color

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats.

Find her online at:




Villain: The Voices of Shattered

Villain 10 DigitalI usually highlight fiction—romantic fiction—on my blog, but today I’m sharing a book which is entirely, heart-breakingly, true.

Last fall, my friend and fellow author A.E. Hayes published her autobiography, Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac. In Shattered, Hayes takes readers through the fragments of her life, painstakingly pieced together from journals, hospital records, accounts of friends and family, and a few actual memories retained after a traumatic brain injury wiped out most of her past.

Most of those retained memories, she would come to learn, were not her own. Instead, they belonged to alters: alternate personalities her mind created to deal with the psychological and emotional traumas of her childhood. But while Shattered grapples with the existence of the alters and their effect on Hayes’s life, her next book gives them voice.

Villain: The Voices of Shattered is a series of nonfiction essays, written primarily by alter personalities. In the book, Hayes and the alters tell stories that were not included in Shattered—stories that pose a question: what is good, and what is evil?

Villain will make you question your notion of heroism and villainy, and leave you wondering: who is the villain of this story—and my own?


Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Here’s a brief excerpt from the introduction.

Five days before my twenty-first birthday, I was drunk. I was so drunk that I ignored both the speed limit and the fact that, up ahead, there was a train barreling down a set of tracks that I was seconds away from crossing.

“Stop!” a voice commanded. I didn’t know who she was at the time, but I heard her. I stopped.

The train missed me by a foot, and the force of its momentum made my little green Dodge Neon sway. I was on a boat, seasick from rocking, but mostly seasick from having downed a half-dozen small whisky bottles I kept in the glove compartment.

A man who had stopped behind me approached and tapped on my window. Shaking, sick, and wanting to forget about the train that was still passing in front of us, I attempted to ignore the stranger, but he would have none of it. He kept tapping until I rolled down the window.

“Can I help you?” I asked.

“Can I help you?” he said. “You were almost hit by that train! You didn’t see the flashing lights? Hey, you don’t look well. Would you like me to call someone?”

The only person this stranger could have called at the time was my abusive boyfriend, Alexander. I was on my way to visit him and I wanted to be properly drunk before I arrived. That way, when he forced me to cut myself or punched me for talking too loudly, the impact wouldn’t feel as severe. And he was going to do those things. Drunk or not, it didn’t matter. Alexander was always a man of action. And I, his possession, was desperately trying to drink myself into an early grave.

“No,” I finally said. “I’ll be OK. Thank you.”

The train passed and my car stopped shaking. The man, still staring at me, shook his head, mumbled something under his breath, and walked back to his car. I looked with clouded vision through my rear-view mirror and watched him pick up a cell phone.

Shit, I thought. He’s going to call the cops, report my license plate, and have me arrested. I slammed my foot down on the gas pedal and took off, twisting and weaving my way through the Pennsylvania back roads that would eventually lead me to a large highway.

The drive from my college to Alexander’s house was only two hours long. I was used to driving to him. After all, he never came to me.

The little bottles of liquor were gone, and I knew I couldn’t score more until later that evening. Alexander was abusive, but he didn’t mind providing for me. He enjoyed showing off the fact that he was wealthy and able to procure whatever he wanted at any hour or at the location of his choosing, and what harm would a dozen or so small bottles of whisky do to his pain-in-the-ass girlfriend? I was an asset to him because of my age—twenty to his almost twenty-eight years—but other than being arm candy and a person to buy alcohol for, I meant nothing.

I didn’t want to believe that, but I knew it to be true. I kept driving, weaving in and out of the lanes, until I hit the highway. I increased my speed from sixty miles per hour to eighty and hoped no one would catch me.

Running away was my favorite thing to do. I’d run away from home, from people who wanted to help me, from colleges, from events I loved, simply because I found it easier to run toward the destructive things. Hit me, beat me, rape me, intoxicate me, whatever would come to be—that was always easier. I was the mistress of running.

“You will die this way, you dumb bitch,” I heard the voice say to me.

“I’m just drunk,” I said to myself, shouting over the radio.

“You’re just an idiot,” she said. “You’re gonna get into a wreck and we’re going straight to hell.”

I picked up my pack of cigarettes from the passenger’s seat, lit a smoke, and enjoyed the sound of the crackling paper upon the first inhalation. It was soothing, like flipping the pages of a book I’d been yearning to read.

Going straight to hell?

Crazy brain, I thought. Don’t you know better?

I cannot go where I already exist.

© 2018 A.E. Hayes

What’s Next for The Love at the Edge of Seventeen Authors?

A YA Romance Anthology
From Stars and Stone Books

It’s never easy to go through the fraught transition into adulthood, but the teens in this anthology have more to deal with than most: super powers, magic, illness, prejudice against sexual orientation and gender identity, and even death. Fortunately, they all find love at the edge of seventeen.

Featuring: M.T. DeSantis, A.E. Hayes, Serena Jayne, Cara McKinnon, Mary Rogers, and Kylie Weisenborn.


Kindle | iBooks | Nook | Kobo | Google Play

We asked our authors to tell us what’s coming next for them. And as a bonus question, we also asked them to tell us three things on their desk right now.

M.T. DeSantis, “Be Null, My Heart”

What’s next? I’ll have a story in Stars and Stone’s summer adult paranormal romance anthology. That one involves a fae dance under a violet sky. Otherwise, revising novels and pitching agents.

Three things:

  • Easy Button “That was easy” – This very button sat on the desk of my high school astronomy teacher. I didn’t particularly like him, but I loved smacking the easy button as I walked by. So, at the end of the year, he gave it to me. (Yes, I just hit it now.)
  • My shiny new desktop computer – This may not seem like a big thing, but it’s the very first refurbished machine I’ve ever bought. Also, through a clever combination of gift cards and price drops, I got it for $40. I can hear your jealousy from here.
  • My “Fucitol” stress “ball – Pronounce the “c” with a “k” sound. Got it? Good. A friend in college gave me this for my birthday. It’s shaped like a giant Tylenol, and it remains my favorite stress “ball” ever.

A.E. Hayes, “Her First Fever”

Oh, wow. Well, my second nonfiction work, which is a collection of essays, will be released May 15. The book is called Villain, and while it tells some very personal stories, it also explores the nature of good and evil, right and wrong, and other preconceived notions. It looks at why we, as humans, are quick to jump to conclusions in many situations when it comes to mental illness, tragedy, and the ever-changing world around us. I’ll also be finishing the final draft of a short paranormal horror story for an upcoming anthology titled The Eynes Anthology. If you’re a fan of graphic novels and the supernatural, this one will be for you! On top of those projects, I’ll be attending a writing/book signing in late June, selling my house, preparing to renew my vows with my husband of ten years, raising my amazing six-year-old son, and finishing my legal studies. Fingers crossed for a quieter year in 2019!

Three things:

Since I’m packing up my house to get ready to sell it, my desk is a wasteland of law books, contracts for my upcoming vow renewal, and other documents I don’t want to accidentally store somewhere! So, my desk is my living room couch with my laptop on my lap, at least for now. But I’m a fan of keeping things that have significance to me. Near me, I have a family photo from Christmas 2017, a law book from the end of World War I (an original first edition with lovely, thin, old paper), and the new invitations for my very geeky vow renewal. All of these items mean something and are true to the person I am, so when I look over to my end table and see them, I can’t help but smile

Close-up portrait of a female student holding book in front of her face in the library

Serena Jayne, “Dead Man’s Party”

I’m working on a paranormal romance for an upcoming Stars and Stone anthology as well as a contemporary romance novel.

Three things:

Twisted Mango Diet Coke, star stickers, and my day planner. I’ve been giving myself a star in my day planner for every day I write as a motivation tool. The Twisted Mango Diet Coke is pretty darned good, but Margie Lawson hooked me on Diet Coke mixed with pineapple juice, which is my new favorite beverage.

Cara McKinnon, “Three Jagged Pieces”

I am currently finishing the fourth novel in my Fay of Skye series, Secret Magic. After that, I’m putting together a series proposal for a romance publisher (*fingers crossed*). And of course I have stories in the two upcoming Stars and Stone Books anthologies, Born to Love Wild (coming July 2018) and For Love the Bell Tolls (coming October 2018).

Three things:

  • I have a fidget cube that I play with when I’m trying to work out plot snarls. I originally ordered one for my son, but I like having one, too.
  • Under my monitor are a bunch of pins from various places (Seton Hill, where I got my MFA; Shepherd U, where I taught English; NaNoWriMo, which I do every November, etc.).
  • On my credenza is a Pop! figure of General Organa from The Last Jedi. Carrie Fisher is one of my heroes, and I love that she lived to become a general and not just a princess in need of rescue.

Spring 18 Book Promo 2

Mary Rogers, “The Crayon Thief”

I’m writing my second book, the first book in the Balsam Island trilogy, Finding Home. I can’t wait to tell the story of Rita Sanders, a city girl who only wants the pace and the peace of life on Balsam Island, and Declan Pierce, an Islander who can’t wait to get off to the city. It’s set in the Pacific Northwest, between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. There’s the local Native American culture, which has been so rewarding to research, and the island culture, with Canadian and American characters, but the one character is a – shall we say – citizen of the world, Mrs. Clausse. (It’s Clow-say, but you know how people like to pronounce that!). I have other anthologies I’d like to be in, time will tell.

Three things:

Right now I’m on the front porch. I have my ever-present cup of tea (on the tea warmer!), a vase of the roses I grow in my front yard, and chapstick. I have had an addiction to chap stick since I was a kid, but the flavours are so much better now (I’m lookin’ at you, mango!). I’m not sure Tessa is a tea gal, but Susan is. Randy, well, whatever he is, I’m all for it! Cindy is a coffee gal. I’m pretty sure Susan loves the best lipsticks, but Cindy, Tessa, and Randy will be chapstick-friendly. As for roses, I assume Randy would buy them, Tessa would be shocked to get them, Cindy would probably buy her own, and Susan would be showered with them!

Kylie Weisenborn, “Now I Am”

I am finishing my debut YA fantasy and romance novel, Just Breathe, in the next few months, and will hopefully start querying agents early next year. I also hope to submit another short story or two in the next few months.

Three things:

I don’t really have anything interesting on my desk since I rarely use it for writing. It’s more of a clutter collector.

Spring 18 Book Promo 3


Guest Post by A.E. Hayes


Good morning, everyone!

My name is A.E. Hayes, and today, I’ll be taking over Cara’s blog.

If you’re a fan of Cara’s work (and as a friend and fan, I can tell you that you should pick up everything she writes, as she writes with such eloquence and creativity), then you may have seen my name floating about, as we’ve been writers in two anthologies together: Crazy Little Spring Called Love and Love Across the Universe. And if you haven’t seen my name before, that’s fine as well. I’m not typically a romance writer (my typical genres are memoir, essay, science fiction, and literary fiction), and with the exception of anthologies, I have not yet dabbled in the world of writing a full romance novel.

Then why in the world would I be taking over this blog? What do I know?

I know that I’m going to shamelessly promote myself, because today, my memoir Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac is being released by Terra Publishing, which is an imprint of Stars and Stones Publishing. And if you know Cara’s work, then you know Stars and Stone. Terra is the non-fic/memoir imprint, and I am the flagship author.

Shattered 3D Book

Shattered is the fifth full-length book I’ve written, but it was by far the most challenging. The title doesn’t lie: I am an amnesiac. Due to a fall and multiple seizures in August 2010, I have a traumatic brain injury and retrograde amnesia. I remember very little that occurred before my 28th birthday. I can’t recall my wedding, the birth of my brother, or college. I don’t even really know who I was during those events.

And my memoir tells that story. Through weeks of poring over old journal entries, police reports, stories from friends and family members, and hospital records, I could piece together my life in a way that tells the story of my journey from amnesia to – well, to be fair, amnesia, because it will never go away. But all good stories, from romance to memoir, have a twist. As it turns out, I have a condition far more damning than just amnesia. So what could have caused me to shatter so completely besides the day I forgot my life? There’s only one way to find out (and since the obvious answer is to buy the book, I’ll provide the links to do so at the end of this post).

As a person who primarily writes fiction, I have to say that writing a completely factual story about a life I barely know was intense. It was complicated and messy, and not just because it was my story, but because I couldn’t deviate from the truth. I wasn’t going to follow the trend of memoirists and essayists who claim that their stories are true, only to have their readers learn later that everything they put into print was a concoction of lies. There’s a long history of this, and I didn’t want to be part of it. And that meant that, besides making sure I had a top-notch publisher and editor, I had to read through every single word I committed to the page at least a dozen times. If one word seemed too intense or falsified, I immediately deleted and replaced it. I didn’t want to be that writer. I wanted my voice to shine through as a memoirist, and not as a storyteller.

Shattered Laptop

However, it can’t be denied that Shattered, while one hundred percent true (names and identifiers aside, as those had to be changed for legal purposes), still makes me a storyteller. But there is a drastic difference.

When I write fiction, I let characters guide me. I may create them, and I may give them a rough playground upon which to interact, but eventually, they take over. Their lives are in my fingertips: I simply follow their leads. But with memoir? I couldn’t do that. There was no rough playground as a clean slate. There were no fictional characters. I couldn’t make, for instance, an ex-husband severely physically abusive just to further the story – whereas I could easily do that in a fictional setting. Wherever the truth ended, I had to stop.

And that’s difficult as hell.

Not that my life is an easy one – it’s not. To be fair, it’s not so bad now, but those first 30 or so years were not pretty. When salvation came, it came in odd bursts. There are nights when I still wonder how I’m alive. There are other nights when I wonder if I have the right to be alive. And then, there are nights when I stare at the stars, hum to myself, and think, “Well, I’m here. I can breathe. I have a nice home, a great husband, a wonderful son, fantastic friends, and a career I love. Come what may – I’m freaking happy.”

Shattered FB Header.jpg

Shattered isn’t meant to be a fun, happy-ending, light-hearted read. I couldn’t tell the truth if I had written it that way. It is dark and gritty. It contains sex – sometimes consensual, sometimes not. It contains depictions of psych wards and self-destruction. It contains drugs, alcohol, moods, and madness.

But it’s real. It’s authentic. And I let go of fiction – of the life I wish I could have had – in order to speak to fact. I tell the life I have lived in the hopes that one day, a single person will read this memoir and say, “I understand. This has helped me.”

If one person can say those words, then I will have succeeded. Fact and fiction won’t matter, because the fact is that we’re all human. We all screw up, and we’re all loveable, anyhow. And that’s not a lie. I’ve heard thousands of stories from thousands of people in my 35 years on this planet, and all of them are intense and personal on myriad levels. Some talk about murder. Some talk about incest. Some talk about a normal childhood with perhaps a wayward theft from a candy store. But all of the storytellers? They are telling their truths. They are keepers of the most important parts of humanity. And when they share those parts with me, I am whole.

Embrace your flaws. Love what you love. And love yourself. It’s taken me three decades (and a bit more) to say those words, but there they are. Love yourself.

How? It’s innately within you. Love is more than just pretty prose on the page. It’s not just the fiction you tell yourself at night. It’s right there. Grab it. Take what is rightfully yours.

But if you need help getting there, my inbox is open, and my memoir is ready for reading.

Thanks for letting me share.

With love and gratitude,

A.E. Hayes

Shattered Full Jacket

Links to buy Shattered: Memoirs of an Amnesiac (now available!):

Barnes & Noble:

Google Play:

Cover Reveal: Shattered

Shattered with coffee 02Coming 9/12/17
from Terra Publishing
Memoirs of an Amnesiac
by A.E. Hayes

“You’ve been captive far too long,” she whispered. “So I’m releasing you.”

The universe was bathed in white light, and as I touched the azure and ruby stars dancing above my head, the crack within me split and fractured into madness.

I felt the shatter. But I was powerless to stop it.”

Shattered features a mixture of nonfiction and creative nonfiction stories about Hayes’ real-life experiences with a traumatic brain injury that caused retrograde amnesia, as well as the events prior to and following the event. However–is the internal shatter she experienced really due to the amnesia, or due to something else? That is what Shattered aims to reveal.


A.E. Hayes is a published author who has been writing since she was about four years old. She has been featured under various pseudonyms (Manda L. Earp, Mandi Hayes, Amanda Earp, and as a ghostwriter) in myriad anthologies, poetry collections, music magazines, and newspapers. She is currently finishing her 6th novel, On Common Ground, as well as working on a collection of supernatural stories for an anthology titled “The Eynes Anthology.”

She studied English and Writing at Hood College, where she earned her B.A., and later studied Fiction Writing at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. A.E. resides in Maryland with her husband and son, and when she isn’t writing or singing (or doing both at the same time), she spends her time drinking far too much coffee, logging miles by pacing around the living room floor in order to make her Fitbit happy, studying the violin, teaching children the joys of music theory, pretending to be a Cylon, talking about Battlestar Galactica when people don’t know what a Cylon actually is, and plotting ideas for several new projects (which usually happens during her living room pacing time).

You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website, where she is likely to be ranting about something on a daily basis.

Side note from Cara–this is my 75th post on this blog! I feel like I should do something fun to celebrate, but if my calculations are correct, I should hit 100 right about the time that book 4 releases, so I’ll save the big celebration for then.

Character Interviews from Crazy Little Spring Called Love

Crazy Little Spring Called Love

After interrogating our Crazy Little Spring Called Love authors about their writing habits and stories, we asked them to turn the spotlight on their characters. The responses are sometimes straightforward, and sometimes silly, but always entertaining!

For more interviews and information about the blog tour, check out the blog tour landing page on


Subjects: Rena, Duke, and Nate from Elsa Carruther’s story Welded

Spring 17 Interior Image EC F.1Question: Do you have any special skills? Describe one.

RENA: I can weave spells into my welds.

DUKE: I take photos that reveal the past.

NATE: I am good at tracking people down.

Question: What is the one thing you want most? Why do you want it, and what would you do if you got it?

RENA: I want to be safe.

DUKE: I want to be a good person.

NATE: I want to find meaning and happiness.

Question: Be honest. How do you feel about Love?

RENA: I don’t think I need it.

DUKE: I want to fall in love and start a family, but I’ll never admit it out loud.

NATE: I think I’ve already found it; I just have to convince them.


Subjects: Pennora and Edward from Sheri Queen’s The Girl with a Broken WingSheri

Question: Do you have any special skills? Describe one.

PENNORA: I used to have the ability to help bring about spring blooms and new growth. That was before my accident and when I could fly. Now, I’m just the Matchmaker’s lame assistant sent off to find a human whose name ended up on her list. But after seeing this guy in person, well, I can say that even being a lowly assistant has its perks.

EDWARD: I never thought I had any special talent. I’m pretty much obsessed with making clockwork creatures, particularly ones with wings. I’ve had this thing about wings ever since I saw a fairy when I was a kid. Then Pennora entered my life, and I see things differently. Maybe I do have a special talent. Maybe I can help her, if she’ll let me.

Question: What is the one thing you want most? Why do you want it, and what would you do if you got it?

PENNORA: I just want to be me again. You know–normal. If I could have my wing back the way it was, I could be a harbinger of Spring again, and be certain of my place on the Matchmaker’s list. But look at me, that’s not going to happen.

EDWARD: I have to have Rowan wood to get out of a debt my father owed before he died. Once I have that I would be free to do anything I wanted.

Question: Be honest. How do you feel about Love?

PENNORA: Love doesn’t happen for crippled fairies. Old magic is fortified when strong bonds are made between mates. My chances of that happening are pretty slim. And if Edward’s name is accepted on the Matchmaker’s list, how would someone like me get matched with him? I don’t even know if my name is still on the list. Love sucks.

EDWARD: I’m a recluse. My world is my clockwork. Love? I’m not looking for it to happen.


Subjects: Leora and Reed from Cara McKinnon’s story Love at Dawn

CaraQuestion: Do you have any special skills? Describe one.

LEORA: I’m not sure if a thorough understanding of fluid dynamics is a special skill, but that’s all I’ve got. I’m also a competent healer, and I’d like to be able to train more in that discipline–if a certain someone wasn’t in my way.

REED: I’m a surgeon, but while that’s a necessary skill and I’m good at it, I’m not sure I would call it “special.” My special skill seems to be annoying Leora, but I have no idea why.

Question: What is the one thing you want most? Why do you want it, and what would you do if you got it?

LEORA: To be a healer. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, since I was little and helped out in my father’s surgery. It makes me feel necessary and truly a part of my community to help heal the sick and injured. And something about the human body just makes sense to me. I can tell what needs to be done to fix it when it’s broken. If I got to be a healer, some empty part of me would be filled. But it’s never going to happen, because *someone* picked the job before I could. I’ll never forgive him for that.

REED: Leora. Not that she’s a thing. I should say that I want to be with Leora, because I’ve been in love with her for years. But she hates me, and I don’t know why, so I can’t even imagine what it would be like if we actually got together.

Question: Be honest. How do you feel about Love?

LEORA: Love is a beautiful thing. Our society is built on the foundation of our patron god and goddess’s love for each other, and we’re taught that all living things are worthy of respect and care. But if you mean romantic love–so far, I haven’t really experienced it. I’ve had a crush on one guy forever, but he has never looked at me that way. So I don’t know what to think about it.

REED: It’s a nuisance to love someone and know that your presence riles her up. But on the other hand, she doesn’t go out of her way to avoid me, so maybe she likes our daily shouting match. I’ll admit it gets my blood heated up to see her snarling and her eyes sparking. One of these days I’m going to kiss her just to see what happens. If I could have Leora in my life and in my bed, I might just change my opinion about love.

Want to find out more about these couples?
Get your copy of Crazy Little Spring Called Love now!

Crazy Little Spring Called Love Blog Tour!

Crazy Little Spring Called Love

The authors of the stories in Crazy Little Spring Called Love–of which I am one!–sat down to answer some questions for their readers. For links to the full list of interview questions, teasers, and more, visit the blog tour page.

Question 3: Spring

What do you like best about spring? What do you hate?

Traci Douglass


No negatives for me.

Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons. I love Spring because everything is fresh and growing and it’s a new beginning, a time to break free of the bonds of winter and forge a new path.

It’s full of possibility and potential.

Sheri Queen


I love the warmer weather that comes with Spring, so I can sit outside by my decorative fountains to read and write.

But I hate having to weed and mulch, and the heavy pollens are brutal.

M.T. DeSantis


Spring is probably my favorite season. Things are green, and flowers are blooming. There’s a freshness to the air that makes the world feel alive. The thing I dislike most about spring is the fact that where I live now gets about a week of it. I miss weeks on end of spring so much. Now, I get something sort of resembling winter for a while, a week or two of spring, and then sweltering summer.

Cara McKinnon


I suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and so winter is a tough time for me. It’s cold, and dark, and gloomy. But then things start to come back to life and there is color and light and warmth. Unfortunately there is also tree pollen and lots of rain, but nothing in life is perfect!

L.J. Longo


Confession, I hate Spring. I know, very hipster of me. I have allergies and I walk everywhere all year long. Then suddenly, right around my birthday, I’ve got to start sharing the street with both pollen and pedestrians!

Oh wait, Ghost Tours start again in the Spring. So that’s my favorite part of Spring.

Mary Rogers

As a northeasterner, I love lilacs, and miss them terribly. Gardenias fill that void here in California. I love the way it seems like spring just happens. From seemingly unending gray skies, snow melt, browned leaves you didn’t get to raking, to crocus, daffodils and pastels everywhere. I love the way it just hits your senses in every way, the look, the smell, the sight, the tastes (strawberries!) and the sounds (birds everywhere!). Here in California where we never get winter, and fall and spring are suspiciously like summer, it happens in a more clandestine way, but if you keep your senses open, you’ll see the wonders all again.

Elsa Carruthers

I love the flowers, all of the green that seems to appear overnight. It is breathtaking! I hate the pollen and the fact that I never know what to wear. 🙂

Cover Reveal: The Pieces of Us by Jennifer Loring

An extra-special weekend edition of the blog, with a reveal of the GORGEOUS cover for the final book in Jennifer Loring’s amazing Firebird trilogy, The Pieces of Us!


THE PIECES OF US by Jennifer Loring
The Firebird Trilogy #3
New Adult Sports Romance
Limitless Publishing, LLC
COVER DESIGNER: Wicked by Design
Aleksandr Volynsky thinks he’s experienced the worst life can throw at him, until the most devastating loss leaves him questioning everything…
One year later, Alex and his daughter, Anya, are still picking up the pieces. In the process, he realizes how far apart their mutual grief has driven them and how lonely he has become—especially when the Buffalo Gladiators’ beautiful anthemist, Hannah Kent, finally introduces herself.
Anya Volynsky is a high-school senior with plans—her father’s plans—to become the first woman on a professional hockey team’s starting roster…
But Anya is toying with the idea of staying in Buffalo and caring for her father rather than accept a scholarship to play hockey at Boston College. Her decision becomes even more difficult when she meets her school’s new athletic trainer, Lucas Donovan. Their experience with similar losses draws them together, and soon their friendship blossoms into a forbidden love that neither of them expected.
With lives torn apart by sorrow, Alex and Anya try to restore their bond, but it’s not that easy…
Alex’s attraction to Hannah keeps growing stronger, and he needs to decide if he’s ready to overcome his pain—but also if he’s willing to do it without Anya’s approval. Anya, on the other hand, is headed for trouble, and while Alex tries to do the right thing in order to protect her, all he manages to do is push her further away.
Can Alex and Anya find the courage to pick up the broken pieces of their lives, or will the heartache of the past ruin their chances at finding happiness again?
Jennifer Loring’s short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies. DarkFuse published her novella Conduits in 2014, and her debut novel, Those of My Kind, was published by Omnium Gatherum in May 2015. Jenn is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Horror Writers Association and holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives in Philadelphia, PA, with her husband, a turtle, and two basset hounds.



Guest Post: No One on Earth

Jennifer has been very prolific lately! But her work is amazing, so I don’t mind sharing the news with all of you!
No One on Earth
A male/male Sci-Fi romance novella
By Jennifer Loring
Erukkass’ people, a species of interdimensional aliens, have been observing Earth and interacting with humans for so many centuries that some Native American tribes believe their ancestors originated from the stars. After his lover passed away in what appears to be a medical accident, Erukkass accepts a scientific mission… but not for the reasons his government expects. He has located his beloved on another timeline, in another universe—ours—and he will not leave without him.


Jon, a psychic since childhood, has never felt at home in the world, even less so after his lover died on Winter Solstice a year ago. Since his abilities failed him when he needed them most, he turns to alcohol and rejects his family’s assertion that he is a Star Child—an alien/human hybrid. When Jon’s sister suggests he should look into the legend of Handsome Fellow, Jon decides that if he cannot find happiness himself, he will bring it to others.


Jon returns home from work one evening to find a gift of his own—a strange young man waiting for him. Erukkass unveils one stunning revelation after another, including the truth behind his lover’s death and the nature of time itself. Can he and Jon forge a future together, or will two timelines that have always intersected, no matter when or where, finally be forced to diverge?

buy link:

About the Author
An image posted by the author.
Jennifer Loring’s short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines, webzines, and anthologies, including Crystal Lake Publishing’s Tales from the Lake vol. 1. She is also the author of a novella, Conduits (DarkFuse, 2014), and three novels, Those of My Kind (Omnium Gatherum, 2015), Firebird (Limitless Publishing, 2015), and What’s Left of Me (The Firebird Trilogy #2) (Limitless Publishing, 2016). Jennifer lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds.


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Guest Post: Prison Made of Mirrors


Prison Made of Mirrors

By Jennifer Loring

Genre: Dark Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Release Date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Strange Fictions Press (

Aithne is a warrior kidnapped from her homeland during a Viking invasion and forced to marry her captor. Shortly before the raid that claims his life, she becomes pregnant with a child whom she believes cursed. Spurred by the dark sorcery she learns from relics her late husband’s mother left behind—including a magic mirror—Aithne descends into a madness that threatens not only her child’s life but also the lives of everyone around her.

Exiled by her mother, Brenna is taken in by a clan of dwarves who treat her like their own. They soon learn that no one is immune to Aithne’s lunacy—not even the prince to whom Brenna was once betrothed. Brenna must face and conquer death itself if she is to save the land that rightfully belongs to her, and to break her mother’s terrible spell on the man she loves.



About the author:


Jennifer Loring has been, among other things, a DJ, an insurance claims assistant, and an editor. Her short fiction has been published widely both online and in print; she has worked with Crystal Lake Publishing, DarkFuse, and Crowded Quarantine, among many others. Longer work most notably includes the contemporary/sports romance series The Firebird Trilogy and the critically acclaimed novella Conduits. She lives in Philadelphia, PA with her husband, their turtle, and two basset hounds. Visit her at or on Facebook.

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