Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Running From Demons by M.K. Theodoratus



RUNNING FROM DEMONS by M.K. Theodoratus, Paranormal Fantasy, 430 pp., $2.99 (Kindle)


Pillar Beccon travels across Andor to discover her mother’s mysterious past. But danger is never far away as a demon seeks to destroy her.

An orphaned null without a hint of magic, Pillar can’t remember ever belonging anywhere, especially not in the Freemage commune where she grew up. After she graduates from high school, she jumps at the chance to learn why her mother ran away from her family.

During an accidental encounter, Grylerrque, a surviving commander from The Demon Wars, recognizes what Pillar is and decides to feed the girl’s life force to her clutch. The demon sends her minions to capture the girl. Pillar escapes with a help of an unexpected allay, only to learn she was pulled out of the frying pan and thrown into the fire.

Link to book on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GVQM3VV
Link to book on B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/running-from-demons-m-k-theodoratus/1129405241




Pillar Beccon stood before the open doors of the Taddledon bus
station, steeling her nerves. She was alone with no one at her back,
not even her running buds from school. Though, now that "Te Tres
Amigas" had graduated, she'd have to get used to being alone again.
Pillar's jaw clenched as she braced herself against the coming stares.
The teen didn’t mind the double takes as she walked along a
street. They seldom pierced the walls she’d built around herself. Inside the Taddledon Station, she’d be the pale-skinned, weird-eared
weirdo caught in a sea of tan people sneaking glances at her angular,
mismatched face, wispy blond hair, and super tall height. People always gawked at her. She felt lucky when they didn’t drool when their
mouths hung open. Pillar begged the Powers for strength, not that
they ever helped nulls or mages.
Get a grip. At least they won’t tease you like the kids at school. They
don't know you're a nothing null. Pillar refused to admit she was neither human nor mage, fsh nor fowl. Besides, odds are the people waiting're only human and aren't aware.
The hair on the back of her neck prickled. When she scanned
the station, nothing around her felt threatening. You're over-reacting.
You're safe. Pillar sighed with relief. I didn’t let Delia down. I made the
test trip on my own. No glitches.

The teen had survived the day trip to the Taddledon museum
and gardens in spite of her foster mother's worries. Pillar didn't need
babysitting by the Freemage commune that had taken her in when
her mother died. Not that her mother was a born member. Mages
thought the mountain communes the only safe place for their young
since their teens made the perfect prey for demon-kind—if her yapping trainers weren't just blowing hot air. She stood taller, and her
shoulders relaxed.
Satisfaction flooded through her. I made it.
The bumblebee drone of the milling travelers bounced o the
high ceilings and washed over her. Here and there, children’s shrieks
drew scowls as they spiked above the noise. All seemed to ignore
the announcement that a bus had just arrived at the platforms. The
prickles grew sharper, and she paused.
After a glance around the lobby, Pillar guessed most were locals
returning to their surrounding small towns after shopping trips to
the big city. Te few roamers, marked by their grubby clothes and
backpacks, might be mages or might not be. Communes and towns
tended to throw out their misfits after they graduated from high
school if they didn't get admitted to colleges or tech schools.
A man near the outside door sat, slumped back on a bench and
eyes closed, with his hands resting on his ample belly. He opened one
eye and jerked. His gaze darted away from Pillar’s icy, challenging
stare, made all the colder by her pale blue eyes. A flush rushed over
his face as he ducked his head.
It’s not like I’m a total freak. All mages have long faces.
Pillar hunched her shoulders again but decided not to get pissed
o or feel sorry for herself. Both reactions were a waste of energy. Pillar ignored thousands of memories of being told nobody wanted a
null, not even the Kingscourt, unless the null was brilliant enough
to become a useful functionary. Nulls were kicked out of mage communes to fend for themselves in the slums of the cities.
RUNNING FROM DEMONS 3
Swallowing, Pillar reached out with her new, weak awareness to
a static-like buzz along her skin created by the people around her. For
her, the fluttering ambience of the station tickled rather than buzzed.
She shook her head and strode towards the end of the station's diner.
Her stomach growled its approval.
Thoughts of a toasted cheese sandwich made her mouth water.
Her always hungry stomach spurred her forward, but a jarring undercurrent sprang out from under the normal human buzz. The atmosphere of the station suddenly smelled o, like curdled milk.
Pausing again to size up the waiting travelers, Pillar chewed on
her lip. Everyone felt normally human to her. No one displayed any
obvious mage powers unless the hint of static was coming from the
security guard, a Kingscourt flunky, who would possess at least some
low-grade magic. The guarda stood alert, scanning the station with a
wary gaze.
As the waitress approached her, she chewed a wad of gum so
large her tongue appeared each time her jaw moved. Pillar lowered
her eyes at the unattractive sight, retreating into her shell rather
than feel the waitress’s turbulent emotions. But waitress's gaze rested
on Pillar’s long narrow face with its wider than normal mouth and
knife-like nose. A flash of pity crossed her roundish face. Pillar sat
straighter and smiled, revealing as many teeth as possible.
“Ham and cheese with extra cheese, please,” said Pillar.
“Cost you extra.”
Pillar almost rolled her eyes, but she had learned to contain her
reactions, much to her foster mother/mentor’s relief. “So add it to
my bill.” The waitress clomped towards the kitchen window of the
grill, writing on her pad.
Piercing shrieks echoed o the high ceilings. Pillar’s head jerked
around to see three kids running away from a taller boy, who
stomped after them like a bear. He growled, making them scream
louder. Their bright auras rose and fell with their screams.
 
Looks like they’re having fun.
The game continued until one of the kids tripped over a suitcase.
Angry words erupted from an older woman. She wore a hat, ringed
with flowers, as if she were someone important, but important people didn’t take buses. They owned their own cars. The kids ignored
her just as Pillar would have.
Scanning the area, Pillar tested her developing talent for reading
auras. The slow dance of dierent shimmering colors popping
through the light bluish-green glow of their life pulse fascinated her,
but she concentrated on possible threats. Everyone in the lobby felt
like nulls to Pillar. But her eavesdropping on the mage elders, talking
to her guardian, told her they worried about magical attacks from demon-kind. While no adult talked much about them, Pillar assumed
demons could camouflage themselves and hide behind shields.
Otherwise, they wouldn’t be so hard to find. She shuddered, not
wanting to think of demons possessing people. Doubt if any demons
would dare to hunt here, anyway.
The thought comforted Pillar, and she relaxed. The waitress arrived and picked a plate o her ladened arm to plunk it on the
counter with a sigh.
Pillar smiled as the waitress scooted around the counter to the
tables against the wall. “Thanks. It looks delicious.” The waitress bustled away without looking back, and Pillar shrugged.
Not wanting to dribble cheese on the new tee she’d bought in
the museum shop, Pillar leaned forward to take a bite of her toasted
ham and cheese sandwich. The gooey cheese oozed out the sides,
over her fingers. She licked them and her lips. The cost of adding
extra cheese was worth it, making a perfect ending to her first solo
venture into Taddledon. The ride home would be dull in comparison
to the carefree day she had enjoyed. At least her stomach wouldn't be
growling.
 
The PA system belched news of another arriving bus, adding to
the racket bouncing o the station walls. The garbled words made
no sense. Pillar ignored the announcement as she licked her fingers
clean. The tenor of the air shifted. The hair on her nape rose. Pillar
glanced back towards the benches in the lobby.
Taking another bite of her gooey sandwich, Pillar licked her lips
as she searched for the disturbance in the station’s energy. The power became so intense even Pillar’s weak talent felt the rising pulse. A
chill crawled across her shoulders and down her back. Pillar turned
around. Her eyes locked on a tangled-haired girl, clutching a backpack in her hands and using the wall by the platform doors to protect
her back. The girl's eyes grew wider as she scanned the station.
Pillar's frizzy hair stood at attention. A strange odor, the like of
which she'd never smelled in Osseran, wafted from the outside doors.
Her stomach churned, and Pillar dropped her no longer appetizing
sandwich.
What's going on? That girl just doesn't feel like a normal, but she
shouldn't make my stomach want to heave.




A Northern California gal, M. K. Theodoratus has been intrigued by fantasy since she discovered comic books and the land of Oz. Some of her early favorites were A. Merritt, Andre Norton, Catherine L. Moore, and Fritz Lieber. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. Now she enjoys reading Lee Child, Patricia Briggs, Sharyn McCrumb, Neil Gaiman, and Carol O’Connell among others.

When she’s not disappearing into other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own alternative worlds — that of Andor where demons prey and that of the Far Isle Half-Elven where she explores the social and political implications of genetic drift on a hybrid elf/human people. Magic and mayhem are her favorite topics.

She now lives in Colorado with her old man and two lap cats.

Website Address:  http://www.mktheodoratus.com
Twitter Address: https://twitter.com/kaytheod
Facebook Address: https://www.facebook.com/M-K-Theodoratus-Fantasy-Writer-235376633158175/





Monday, March 18, 2019

Today's Guest Author: A.L. Bryant, Author of Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter



BLESSED: THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER by A.L. Bryant, Supernatural/Christian/Thriller/Horror, 279 pp.


On New Year’s Eve 2021 the staff at St. Ann’s Hospital witness a medical miracle when a semi-conscious woman walks into the emergency room. The Jane Doe has been stabbed multiple times and as the staff struggle to keep the woman alive in the end all they can do is stand back and watch as their mysterious patient revives herself.

Glory wakes up in St. Ann’s Hospital gravely injured from an attack she cannot remember. However, her memory loss is no ordinary amnesia and she is no ordinary patient. Much to the shock of the hospital staff Glory heals at three times the rate of an average person. Soon the administration hears of her unique case and waste no time convincing the recovering Glory to be a part of an experiment to discover the origins of her power.

Once outside the comforting walls of the hospital it becomes apparent that healing is just a small portion of Glory’s capabilities. Abilities that to Glory’s distress are becoming increasingly unstable. Deciding that the hospital’s experiments are in vain, Glory embarks on her own Journey to discover the source of her power, unaware that she is a major pawn in a war between two secret organizations.
The two syndicates continue to clash in their fight for control and their battles result in several casualties. The crimes of their warfare surface and draw the attention of Dennis Wilson, a NYPD Detective known for solving his cases in the first forty-eight hours. Dennis follows the trail of bodies out of curiosity. But when his curiosity causes the deaths of his loved ones Detective Dennis becomes obsessed with the case.

In his overzealous attempts to find the murderer Dennis becomes the syndicates’ next target. Now the Detective must run for his life and the only person capable of saving him is the very person he suspects.

Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is a hybrid of government espionage and supernatural Thriller. This novel is intended for audiences 18+ that seek an edgier outlook on Christian fiction. Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter is the first installment of the Blessed trilogy.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon





With a slight hesitation, Glory examined the entrance. Using the corner of her jacket she tested the knob, not overly surprised when the door opened easily. Behind her, she could still hear the muffled sounds of the girl’s sobs. Glory stepped one foot through the door and paused. She turned sideways and looked back out into the yard. With one foot inside the house and one still on the porch, she stared at the girl, whose eyes were as wide as her own. The side of her body that remained outside of the house felt light; she could feel the breeze whip her clothing. She raised her hand and, as expected, it lifted easily. Glory looked down at her other arm, the one in the corridor of the house. Sweat drizzled down her brow as she struggled to lift it.
            Making sure to keep her voice light, Glory nodded in the direction of the gate. “Go home, I’ll get Mitch and he’ll call you afterwards.” She waited until the girl nodded reluctantly and disappeared.
Feeling a strong urge to leave, Glory turned as quickly as she could and closed the door behind her. Instant darkness. She pulled out the cell phone Dr. Stephens had helped her purchase shortly after she left the hospital, and turned its flashlight on. She had not paid the bill in a long time, so she had no service, but Glory still kept it charged. The corridor was short, maybe two or three large steps long. A staircase, which dominated the space in the narrow corridor, stood against the left wall. Glory shined the light up the steps trying to determine where they led, but the light’s range was too short.
Examining the staircase carefully to make sure it could hold her weight, Glory began ascending. The house had its own gravity; every step felt like moving through quicksand. By the time she made it to the top, she was winded. She leaned against the wall, shining her light around the area while she rested. She stood in another corridor, much larger than the first one. A solid wall lined one side; several doors, some of them mere centimeters apart, lined the other. She pushed herself away from the wall and walked to the first door, covered her hand with her jacket, turned the knob, and pushed the door. It gave way only slightly before it refused to open any farther. She tried pulling the door, but it could only be opened inward. She pushed one more time, shining a light through the narrow opening to see if she could locate the blockage—silently hoping it wasn’t the boy—but nothing met the light. Frustrated, she moved on to the next door, only to encounter the same problem.
By the sixth one, Glory started to wonder if any of them were meant to open. With each door, she put more strength and effort into her shoulders and arms, desperately trying to force her way through. By the twelfth, she was exhausted. She took a deep breath and shoved her shoulder against it. The door swung open, Glory stumbled two feet, and fell through the hole behind it. She fell through one story of the house into an open room and into the much bigger hole in that room’s floor. She fell through another story and into another room with another hole. She hit hard rock and slid until she landed on her back. Her head hit the floor and her eyes instantly clouded from the impact.
Glory’s breath and sight came back simultaneously. Slowly, she sat up with a grunt as she brought her right hand to her ribs. Not only had her pack survived the fall, but she had managed to hold on to her phone. Standing up, still favoring her left side, Glory began dusting herself off. Her hands shook and she took a deep breath to dispel the effects of the adrenaline still rushing through her body. Turning on the light so she could look around, Glory shifted her feet. Taking a small step forward, she tripped on something, but managed sustain her balance with a small hop to dislodge whatever had caught her foot.
Glory turned the light downward to look at the ground and saw a piece of cloth clinging to her boot. Ruffles—the cloth was filthy, covered in dust and grime, but the ruffles still maintained their shape. Forgetting herself, Glory reached out and ran her fingertips over the cloth, smoothing the dirt away so she could see the color. Her fingertips grew warm and her eyes widened as she realized what she had done. Too late, she snatched her hand away.
“This is so exciting!” A young woman in a blue ball gown tightened her grip on her friend’s arm, her gloved fingers long and delicate. Looking a little less interested, her friend, a tall, thin brunette, pried the girl’s hands from her arm, but her friend only returned them with slightly less bruising force.
“Yes, well, if my father knew I was here, it would be the end of me.”
“That’s what these are for, silly.” The young woman flipped her blonde hair behind her shoulders and tapped her masquerade mask with her folded fan.
“I shouldn’t have let you talk me into this. I have a bad feeling.”
“You are thinking far too much. Now tell me how beautiful I look and then let’s go get some refreshments.”
The brunette stood back and pretended to consider her friend. “You look positively stunning as always, Annabelle. Your dress is lovely; I could never pull off so many ruffles.”
Annabelle waved the last statement away. “Nonsense, Sarah, I’m sure you would look just as lovely in ruffles. I don’t know why you insist on wearing such drab garments.” She looked her friend up and down, a frown on her face as she examined the dark green dress that covered Sarah, from its unfashionably high neckline down to the slightly pointed toes of her boots.
Sarah grimaced. “My father does not agree with today’s fashions. He thinks exposing shoulders, wrists, and cleavage is unseemly.” Trying to distract her friend from her dress, she made a show of looking around. “This is an extremely odd house, isn’t it? Why would he build a staircase directly at the entrance?”
“For that matter, why build a staircase that only goes to the top floor when there are four flights in between?”
“We’ve been here less than an hour and I’m already confused. So many corridors and staircases.”
“And how many rooms are there, anyway? There are doors everywhere you look.” The girls spoke frantically now, their intertwined arms squeezing together as they became more excited.
Annabelle turned to her friend. “Let’s explore the house more.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. “I don’t know. We haven’t even greeted the host yet. It would be bad manners.”
Annabelle shrugged. “It was bad manners for him not to show himself so he could be greeted.”
Keeping an eye on the group they had been standing with, Annabelle pulled Sarah toward the door, only to stop mid-stride as their path was cut off by a large figure in an expensive dinner jacket and a full porcelain mask.
“Good evening, ladies.”
Annabelle released Sarah’s arm and took a step closer, resting her hand coquettishly on her bosom. “Good evening.” She let the greeting hang in the air. When the man merely nodded, Annabelle tried again.
“I do not recognize you, and since I know everyone in this town except the owner of this fine home, you must be…”
“The owner? That is correct.”
Barely masking her annoyance, Annabelle turned to her companion. “This is…”
The man held up his hand, effectively cutting off the introduction.
“If I wished to know the identity of my guests, then I would not have made this a masquerade ball.”
Flustered by her mistake, Annabelle released a breathy chuckle. “My apologies, I don’t know what I was thinking. We must keep the mystery up.”
The man turned his head to the side as he considered the two ladies. “Do you like mysteries?”
Eager to impress, Annabelle stepped forward. “Yes, I do!”
The man turned to look at Sarah, who hovered in the background, not at all certain she wanted to join in the conversation.
“And what about horrors?”
Taken aback, Annabelle frowned. “I beg your pardon?”
“Do you like to be frightened?”
Not sure where this was leading, Annabelle glanced at her friend. “I suppose being frightened every once in a while can be thrilling.”
The man nodded slowly as if contemplating her answer. “Do you believe in the supernatural?”
Annabelle laughed. “Do you mean ghosts and goblins? I think it’s nonsense.” She waved a delicate hand. “Stories to scare children.”
“And what of demons?”
Annabelle paused, the smile wiped from her face. “The church tells us that they exist, so I believe in them.”
The man leaned back on his heels and shoved his hands into his pockets. “So do I. I have always been curious, and judging by the turnout of this gathering, I’m not the only curious one.”
While he surveyed his guests, Sarah inched forward and grabbed her friend’s arm.
“Come, Annabelle.” Annabelle ignored her, staring at the man as if mesmerized. Sarah pulled sharply on her arm. “You said you wanted to explore the house.” This time Annabelle looked at her and nodded, allowing Sarah to lead her around the man and toward the door.
“Do you ever wonder what it would be like to be possessed?” Both girls turned to look back at the man as he spoke. “All the power of the demons and none of the rigid rules of the angels.”
Sarah trembled. “At the expense of our souls and sanity? No, thank you. You can keep your so-called demonic power.” She pulled Annabelle forward and escorted her through the door. Before she could close it behind them, she looked up to see the man looking directly into her eyes for the first time.
“There is only one way to leave this house, and it isn’t the way by which you entered. I doubt you could find the exit even if you stayed here a hundred years.” He turned and headed toward his other guests. “I wish you the best of luck.”
Sarah closed the door. “What an unpleasant man.”
Annabelle shrugged, walking along the corridor, sliding her hand along the wall. “I think he’s fascinating.”
“I think we should leave, Annabelle.”
Annabelle swung around. “I’m not leaving until I’ve explored this house.” When Sarah didn’t make a move to follow, Annabelle turned her mouth down, opened her eyes wide, and lifted her pupils, creating the perfect pout. “Just this one corridor and then I promise we will leave post haste.”
Sarah studied her friend and then nodded. “Just this one corridor and then we’re leaving.”
Annabelle smiled and skipped toward her friend, linking their arms once more.
Trying to take her mind off the eerie darkness of the corridor, Sarah changed the subject. “I wonder what he meant when he said that judging from the turnout, there were a lot of people curious about demons.”
“Oh!” Annabelle swatted the question away. “He was just referring to his invitations.”
Sarah looked over her shoulder. Had she heard something? “What about his invitations?”
“In his invitation, he appealed to those of us who were interested in a thrilling evening. Something about satisfying curiosity about demons in—and these are his words—the demons’ playground.”
“What?” Sarah stopped walking. She stared in Annabelle’s direction, but could barely see her in the dim lighting.
Misinterpreting, Annabelle shrugged. “I know… Who would name their house that?”
Sarah grabbed Annabelle’s shoulders. “Who cares about the name—why did you come? Why are we here?”
Annabelle tried to pry Sarah’s bruising grip from her shoulders. “Calm yourself, Sarah. It’s like taking a ghost tour, there is no need to be—”
Sarah covered Annabelle’s mouth with her hand. “What is that?” The question was rhetorical; the noise was piercing and distinct.
“W-why is everyone screaming?” Annabelle, who had taken Sarah’s hand from her mouth, stared back toward the ballroom. Sarah grabbed her friend and made a move back toward the sound—but more importantly toward the path she hoped would lead to the exit. The girls had only gotten a few feet when the corridor erupted in chaos.
Terrified men and women spilled from the room, tripping over each other in their panic and trampling the people in their way. They didn’t run back the way they came. Instead, they ran toward the two girls, their bodies pressing forward trying to propel themselves farther away from the ballroom. Everything happened so fast that it took Sarah a couple of seconds to react. In that short period of time, the mass of people was almost upon them. Sarah swung around and pushed the startled Annabelle farther into the corridor.
“Get into one of the rooms!” Annabelle grabbed the closest doorknob. She leaned her weight against it. Sarah came to help.
“It won’t open!” Annabelle cried.
“It’s locked?”
“Not locked—just won’t open!”
“Try the next one. Hurry!” Giving up on that door, Sarah followed Annabelle to the next one. She looked over her shoulder to find the crowd less than ten feet from them. Directly behind her friend, she cried out in relief as Annabelle opened the door. But her world came crashing down as she watched her friend disappear in that same second.
Glory sat up sharply. A full minute passed before she stopped gasping and coughing. She had made some progress in controlling the duration of her illusions. Standing, she dusted herself off and picked up her cellphone. From what she could tell, she was underground in a place that resembled a dungeon carved from the rock that the mansion had been built on. It was large and dark. There was no place for light to shine through, so even during the daytime, the room would still be pitch black.







A.L. Bryant was born and raised in St. Petersburg FL. She became interested in writing at an early age; an interest that depending on the circumstance brought punishment (detention for passing out the latest installment of her novella during class) and praise (being chosen for a youth writers conference at the Poynter Institute.)  A.L. Bryant gets her inspiration from both her mother and her Great Grandmother. Her mother recently published an inspirational children’s book under a pseudonym and her great grandmother is South Carolina’s first published African-American female author and playwright.

Until recently writing had simply been a pastime for A.L. Bryant who although she attended several writing courses, graduated with a B.A. in International Business. It was shortly after her second job as a Financial Office Manager at a Goodwill correctional facility that she realized she loved writing more than anything else. It would still be some years before she would convert the short story she wrote in college into a novel.

Besides writing, A.L. Bryant loves traveling the world. God has blessed her with the opportunity to visit a total of seven countries. She has studied abroad in Seoul and has traveled throughout Kenya; two locations she researched for her Blessed series. Her dream is to visit every country in the world.
Her latest book is the supernatural Christian thriller horror novel, Blessed: The Prodigal Daughter.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/ALBryantHSW
Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100029069148653


As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  Can you tell us what your book is about?

I wanted to play around with the notion of a spiritual being (or someone more in tune with spirituality) living in a natural world. A world that only acknowledges the natural. What struggles would someone like that face? How would they cope? COULD they cope when, according to the world they live in, their very existence is a lie?

Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Glory is a Stoic character with a lot of layers beneath her deliberate nature. Her character starts out a bit dry. As the reader you get to see her slowly unravel as things happen to and around her that she doesn't fully understand.

Detective Wilson is a cynical NYPD cop that's very good at his job but, by his own admittance, that has more to do with his obsessive nature than anything else. He can be a little rough around the edges but he actually has a good heart.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

To not be afraid of following your dream of being a professional writer. Don’t waste time wondering if you should do it.

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

Normally I would say my weirdest quirk is switching methods (keyboard to pen and paper and vice versa) to become inspired but my loved ones brought to my attention that my most interesting quirk is how much of my writing time is spent pacing.

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

I would like to hear more from my readers.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

In college a colleague told me I need to work on telling vs. showing. It was the best advice I have received and I try hard to always keep that in the forefront when writing.

What has been your best accomplishment?

Getting my novel published.

Do you Google yourself?

Ironically not until I saw this question. It’s scary how much google knows.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

None that I want to publish.

Fun question – if you were princess or prince, what’s one thing you would do to make your kingdom a better place?

I want to say that every citizen gets their own personal griffin for transportation and companionship but I think we should start small . . . perhaps a livable wage?

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

It just brings me immense joy to know that people read and enjoy my novel.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

In the Spotlight: Josephine Baker's Last Dance by Sherry Jones


JOSEPHINE BAKER'S LAST DANCE by Sherry Jones, Biography/Historical, 304 pp., $11.00 (paperback) $11.99 (Kindle)

Title: JOSEPHINE BAKER’S LAST DANCE
Author: Sherry Jones
Publisher: Gallery Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Biography/Historical

From the author of The Jewel of Medina, a moving and insightful novel based on the life of legendary performer and activist Josephine Baker, perfect for fans of The Paris Wife and Hidden Figures.

Discover the fascinating and singular life story of Josephine Baker—actress, singer, dancer, Civil Rights activist, member of the French Resistance during WWII, and a woman dedicated to erasing prejudice and creating a more equitable world—in Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

In this illuminating biographical novel, Sherry Jones brings to life Josephine’s early years in servitude and poverty in America, her rise to fame as a showgirl in her famous banana skirt, her activism against discrimination, and her many loves and losses. From 1920s Paris to 1960s Washington, to her final, triumphant performance, one of the most extraordinary lives of the twentieth century comes to stunning life on the page.

With intimate prose and comprehensive research, Sherry Jones brings this remarkable and compelling public figure into focus for the first time in a joyous celebration of a life lived in technicolor, a powerful woman who continues to inspire today.

Purchase Josephine Baker’s Last Dance in paperback,  ebook,  and  audiobook  formats on  Simon and Schuster’s website (available on Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  BooksAMillion,  Indiebound,  Kobo,  and  other sites). Learn more about Sherry’s books  at  www.authorsherryjones.com





Just before she entered the stage door, a drop of rain hit her on the head. No, that was not a bad omen, only a reminder to do her best, to shine like the star she was, or would be. Wilsie came running up—Mr. Sissle was there, but Mr. Blake had yet to arrive. “You’ll knock ’em dead, Tumpy. Just do your dancing and forget the rest.” Josephine didn’t need to be told that. She was ready.
She flexed and stretched her arms as she walked with Wilsie across the stage, past the musicians gathering, trumpets and saxophones and drums and a clarinet, down into the auditorium, where a slender man spoke to a white-haired man at his side. He turned his head very slightly and looked her up and down from the corners of his shrewd, hard eyes. His mouth pursed.
“How old are you?” he’d said before Wilsie had even introduced them. The stage door opened, and a very dark-skinned man with a bald head hurried in, talking about “the damned rain,” scampering down the steps, striding up the aisle, shaking water from his clothes.
“Eubie Blake,” he said, smiling, holding out his hand to her.
“This is Tumpy, Mr. Blake, the one I told you about,” Wilsie said. “She’s here to audition for Clara’s spot in the chorus.”
The man with Mr. Sissle—the stage manager—motioned to her and she followed him up the stage steps. Did she know the songs? Could she dance to “I’m Just Wild about Harry”? Josephine wanted to jump for joy. She pretended to watch as Wilsie showed her the steps, which she already knew as if she’d made them up herself. Josephine stripped down to her dingy leotard, tossed her clothes on a chair, then ran and leaped to the center of the stage. This was it. She bent over to grasp her ankles, stretching her legs, then stood and pulled her arms over her head.
“Ready?” Mr. Sissle barked. The music started, and she began the dance, so simple she could have done it in her sleep. Practicing in the Standard, she’d gotten bored with it and had made up her own steps, throwing in a little Black Bottom, wiggling her ass and kicking her legs twice as high as they wanted to go, taken by the music, played by it, the instruments’ instrument, flapping her hands, step and kick and spin and spin and squat and jump and down in a split, up and jump and kick and spin—oops, the steps, she didn’t need no damn steps, she had better ones—and kick and jump and wiggle and spin. She looked out into the auditorium—a big mistake: Mr. Blake’s mouth was open and Mr. Sissle’s eyes had narrowed to slits. Don’t be nervous, just dance. Only the music remained now, her feet and the stage.
When she’d finished, panting, and pulled on her dress and shoes, Wilsie came running over, her eyes shining. “You made their heads spin, you better believe it,” she whispered, but when they went down into the aisle Josephine heard Mr. Sissle muttering.
“Too young, too dark, too ugly,” he said. The world stopped turning, then, the sun frozen in its arc, every clock still, every breath caught in every throat. Mr. Blake turned to her, smiling as if everything were normal, and congratulated her on “a remarkable dance.”
“I can see that you are well qualified for our chorus, Tumpy,” he said, and on his lips, the name sounded like a little child’s.
“You have real talent, and spark, besides. How did you learn to do that at such a young age? You are—how old?”
“Fifteen,” she said.
Mr. Sissle snorted, and cut Wilsie a look. “Wasting my time,” he said. Mr. Blake looked at her as if she’d just wandered in from the orphanage.
“I’m very sorry, there’s been a mix-up,” he said. “You must be sixteen to dance professionally in New York State.”
“I’ll be sixteen in June,” Josephine said. Her voice sounded plaintive and faraway.
“We need someone now.” Mr. Sissle folded his arms as if she were underage on purpose. Mr. Blake led her toward the stage door, an apologetic Wilsie saying she hadn’t known. Mr. Sissle followed, talking to Mr. Blake about adding some steps to “I’m Just Wild about Harry,” saying they should put in some kicks, that he’d been thinking about it for a while. Uh-huh.
“Come and see us in New York after your birthday, doll,” Mr. Blake said. “You never know when we might have an opening.” He opened the door and let the rain pour in before shutting it again. He looked at Josephine’s thin, optimistic dress. Where was her umbrella? She hung her head. He stepped over to retrieve a black umbrella propped against the wall and handed it to her. She took it without even knowing, her thoughts colliding like too many birds in a cage. She would have to stay in Philadelphia, she had failed—too young, too dark, too ugly—she should have lied about her age, what had gotten into her? Showing off, that was what.
And now Mr. Sissle disliked her, and she would never get into their show; it didn’t matter how many times she went back. As she stepped out into the rain with that big umbrella in her hands unopened and felt the rain pour down her face; she was glad, for now they would think it was water instead of tears, but when she looked back, Wilsie was crying, too, in the open doorway.
Seeing the men watching from a window, she stopped. They wouldn’t forget her; she’d make them remember. She walked slowly, her silk dress dripping, while Mr. Sissle gesticulated with excitement as he stole her ideas—authentic Negro dancing were the last words she’d heard—and Mr. Blake looking as if he wanted to run out there, scoop her up, and carry her back inside.
( Continued… )
© 2018 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Sherry Jones. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the author’s written permission. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only.








Author and journalist Sherry Jones is best known for her international bestseller The Jewel of Medina. She is also the author of The Sword of MedinaFour SistersAll QueensThe Sharp Hook of Love, and the novella White Heart.  Sherry lives in Spokane, WA, where, like Josephine Baker, she enjoys dancing, singing, eating, advocating for equality, and drinking champagne.

Her latest novel is Josephine Baker’s Last Dance.

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