Shayne Silvers’ Guest Post: Author of the Nate Temple Series

shayne-silvers_obsidian-sunI asked Shayne Silvers, author of the Nate Temple series, to talk to us about how he created his character. If Batman and Harry Dresden had a baby, it would be Nate. I recently discovered the series and have loved all three books.  Shayne also is generous to his readers with free books available. Go and visit here: 

There is a pulpy sarcastic humor, mystery, suspense, nerdy, fast-paced action, loving, emotionally conflicting element here, with a splash of philosophy. Which is similar to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, and many other successful authors.  Shayne says, “Jim Butcher has long since been a Titan in the fantasy world, and I would love to someday meet the man, but I’ll settle with standing in his shadow. My characters and stories seem to strongly resonate with his readers, which makes me deliriously happy, but anyone looking for a quick romp through a brave new world will get their kicks satisfied by peeping through the looking glass with Nate Temple’s Supernatural Thrillers.”

I agree. Recommend if you like stories penned by Patricia Briggs, Kevin Hearne, Faith Hunter, or Jim Butcher. Without further ado…Shayne Silvers.

SW Question: I would love it if you could do a post on how your character, who is a cross between Harry Dresden and Batman, is both an homage to those iconic characters, but also original and how you did that.

Nate Temple – Billionaire heir, playboy, in-the-closet-wizard, and all around good guy.

Typical stories take a character who is average, normal, or unnoticeable, and build him up to be a hero throughout a series of novels. He or she has big problems – they are poor, hate their job, are emotionally mangled in some way, etc., but they are also uniquely special. Special enough to save us all. This Hero’s Journey outline has worked for many thousands of years. It’s practically a Bible. A checklist of what works

Silly me, I thought I was special and could turn that checklist on its head.

So I went into my series with the thought: What if my protagonist ‘Had it all,’ so to speak? What if he was already rich, and powerful, and whatever else people see as ‘Flashy.’ A Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark type character.


What if I began stripping away those strengths? His money. His friends. His reputation. His magic. Little by little, remove his armor. Bring him from Great to something Less. Still powerful, but back down to earth. Take away everything he has relied upon his entire life and make him struggle to not only save his city, but to find out what is truly important to him. Make him psychoanalyze himself and learn what truly makes him tick. And how he can get back to the top, to be strong enough to protect his city again. A Fallen Angel storyline.

This adds another dimension to his personal struggle. He’s always remembering what he was. And hungering to get back there. But at what cost? He’s always been a good guy, wanting to protect innocent people and to hurt bad people. But now he’s got to figure out how to do it without all of his resources. And what he’s willing to sacrifice to claw his way back.

I thought it sounded interesting. And apparently many readers did too, which is pretty humbling to me.

Thanks for being on SlipperyWords, Shayne.  Here’s Shayne’s Amazon page. Go buy his stuff.

Let’s Extend the Fun: Excerpt From David B. Coe’s Children of Amarid

Wow! Hey kids, I got really lucky and was offered a chance to post an excerpt from David B. Coe’s Children of the Amarid to follow yesterday’s post. Enjoy!

Baden lay down beside the fire, and Jaryd did the same, not bothering this night to pull out his sleeping roll. The Owl-Master’s breathing soon slipped into a slow, even rhythm, but Jaryd lay awake for a long time. He thought about Amarid and Theron; about spirits and what it meant to be condemned to eternal unrest; and about the depths of emotion that could drive two friends to do such things to each other and to the Order they had created. Gradually the flames died out, leaving a bed of glowing coals that settled noisily. In the darkness, Jaryd could make out the bright stars overhead, and he picked out the constellations he knew: Duclea, weeping on her knees for her sons, and for her husband’s fury; Leora in her ceaseless dance; and Arick, lower in the sky and to the west, his fist poised to smite the land he had created for Tobyn and Lon.

When finally Jaryd drifted into a fitful, uneasy sleep, he dreamed of a mage. At first he thought he was seeing himself as he would be someday. But this mage carried a ceryll of deep red and a dark bird with strange, bright eyes. The mage moved toward him, extending a hand in which he carried a slender black object. He remained hooded, his face shrouded in shadow and unrecognizable. But as he drew near, Jaryd recognized the offered object as a black feather.  When Jaryd took it in his hand, the feather flared brightly and turned to gray ash.

He awoke to find Baden shaking him gently, the mage’s lean face somber in the silver light of dawn.

“A strange vision came to me last night,” Baden said. “I don’t know what it means, but I think we should be on our way.”

Jaryd tried to force himself awake. Baden offered him the last of the dried fruit and some water, both of which helped, and soon they had broken camp and started down the trail toward the town. They walked as quickly as the steep descent would allow. Baden, who seemed impatient to reach Taima, said little, and Jaryd spent much of his time on the trail reflecting on the story he had heard the night before. They stopped at midday by a small spring. They refilled their water skins, ate what was left of the dried meat, and continued down the mountain.

The acrid smell of charred wood and grain reached them a short while later, and from a small clearing near the base of the mountain, they caught their first glimpse of Taima. A haze of dark smoke hung over the town, and the blackened frames of several buildings stood like skeletons in the town center.

“Fist of the God!” Baden said, exhaling the words as if he’d taken a punch to the gut. “We’re too late.”

Children of Amarid by David B. Coe Re-Release!


CHILDREN OF AMARID is the first volume of the LonTobyn Chronicle, David B. Coe’s Crawford Award-winning debut series. This is the Author’s Edit of the original book.

For a millennium  the Children of Amarid have served the people of Tobyn-Ser. Drawing upon the Mage-Craft, which flows from the psychic bond they forge with their avian familiars, the Mages of the Order have fulfilled their oaths by healing the injured and ill, repelling invasions by the land’s enemies, and caring for the people in times of crisis. They are governed by laws handed down by Amarid, the first of their kind, who committed the Mage-Craft to the people’s protection. Only once in a thousand years has a mage defied those laws. Theron, a contemporary of Amarid, sought to use his powers to gain wealth and glory. For that he was punished, though not before he brought down a terrible curse on his fellow mages and all who would come after them.

Recently, dark rumors have spread across Tobyn-Ser. Children of Amarid have been seen destroying crops, vandalizing homes, massacring men, women, and children. Have the mages forsaken their oaths? Has Theron returned from beyond death to take his vengeance? Or does Tobyn-Ser face a new threat, one it is ill-prepared and ill-equipped to face?

With the land in turmoil and faith in the Mage-Craft badly shaken, it falls to Jaryd, a young mage with extraordinary potential, but little knowledge of the power he wields, to find and destroy Tobyn-Ser’s enemies before they destroy all he holds dear.

CHILDREN OF AMARID (The LonTobyn Chronicle, Book 1) | David B. Coe | Lore Seekers Press | $4.99 eBook/ $18.95 Paperback | 384 pages | June 22, 2016 | ISBN: 978-1622680498 | Goodreads link:

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About David B. Coe:

David B. Coe, who also writes as D.B. Jackson, is the award-winning author of nineteen novels and more than a dozen short stories.

Writing under his own name ( he has most recently completed a contemporary urban fantasy called the Case Files of Justis Fearsson, published by Baen Books. The first two books,SPELL BLIND and HIS FATHER’S EYES came out in 2015. The third volume, SHADOW’S BLADE, has recently been released.

Writing under the D.B. Jackson pen name (, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston that combines elements of urban fantasy, mystery, and historical fiction. All four books in the series, THIEFTAKER, THIEVES’ QUARRYA PLUNDER OF SOULS, and DEAD MAN’S REACH, are available from Tor Books.

David is the author of the LonTobyn Chronicle, his debut trilogy, which received the Crawford Fantasy Award as the best work by a new author in fantasy. He has also written the critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet and Blood of the Southlands trilogy, and the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, ROBIN HOOD, starring Russell Crowe. David’s books have been translated into a dozen languages.

He received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his Master’s and Ph.D. in U.S. history from Stanford University.  He co-founded and regularly contributes to the Magical Words group blog (, a site devoted to discussions of the craft and business of writing fantasy, and is co-author of How To Write Magical Words:  A Writer’s Companion.

Find David online at his website, on Twitter, on Facebook or sign up for his newsletter.

My Interview with Patricia Briggs!

image1-2I had the marvelous opportunity to speak with the incomparable Patricia Briggs while attending DragonCon.  This is me with her.  (I’m the short one!)

Note her T-shirt…”To protect against the nudge.”

You can listen to the whole interview below. Warning: Smack dab in the middle there is a break in the sound…just let it play on and it will pick back up. There are also some points where Patty fades out a bit in the second half.  (Blame her, she played with her microphone. ) Warning: This interview is full of SPOILERS.

Thank you, Patty and Mike, for letting me invade your hotel room and do this interview. This was a highlight of my con.


Today is my birthday and I’m acknowledging it by sharing this part of my story. 

I sit in the bathroom, lips numb and fingers tingling. I can’t breathe and while I know I’m not dying, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know, just know, that something bad is going to happen. What it is, I can’t vocalize. I wait for it to  reveal itself. My chest is so tight I cling to the front of my shirt as if my fingers could pry the iron bars encasing it apart. My mind is buzzing like it is full of bees, my thoughts are warped and slow as if I am under water.

That is a panic attack. It feels awful.

I used to work at a nonprofit organization devoted to helping people with mental health problems. Screening for Mental Health invented National Depression Screening Day. I helped launch the National Alcohol Disorders Screening Program and the National Eating Disorders Screening Program. I championed youth suicide prevention and even testified in front of a Senate Subcommittee about our program, the SOS Suicide Prevention Program. I handled questions from multiple Senators including (and this is not a political post) the then Senator Clinton. We got an appropriation passed and distributed hundreds of videos and collateral materials to schools across the country. I attended the private White House signing of the bill and shook the President’s hand (Bush, 43) when he thanked me for my contribution. I stood in the Roosevelt Room and knew I had done something good.

So why wasn’t I seeking help? Because anxiety is sneaky and even when you know the facts it is hard to see the sun.  But I did it. I talked to my primary care doctor, got started on a treatment plan, added yoga to my self-care routine, and focused on healthy eating and a regular sleep schedule. I got better and have been better since.

I’ve spoken to innumerable people who suffered with various forms of mental health issues. What I learned is  that many high-achieving people deal with these problems. No one is safe. It can be a part of your family history or the result of a traumatic event. It can develop slowly so you don’t realize it is happening until you are at the bottom of a tunnel and can’t see the top. The moral? Get help. Talk about it openly. You’ll be surprised how many people will share their stories with you.

About the campaign:

#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.

Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Home for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I would also add Screening for Mental Health at

Jennifer Estep’s New Gin Blanco book–Unraveled, Excerpt and Giveaway

UNRAVELED – excerpt #13
I cursed. Even though I wanted to rush inside the mansion, I forced myself to slow down and approach the patio doors with caution, just in case she might be lying in wait to try to kill me too. I also grabbed hold of even more of my Stone power, hardening my skin as much as possible on the off chance that she decided to blast me with elemental magic and bullets. As a final touch, I reached out with my magic, listening to all the emotional vibrations that had sunk into the stone walls of the mansion.
Harsh, shocked mutters rippled through back to me, from the shots the woman had just fired. Alongside that was a high, whiny chorus of worry, fear, and paranoia. But there were no sly whispers or dark murmurs of evil intent that would have signaled that she was hiding in the office, ready to put a bullet in my head the second I stepped inside. Whoever the woman was, she was long gone.
Still, I was careful as I eased into the office, my knife still in my hand, my other hand up and lightly glowing with Ice magic, ready to blast whoever might challenge me.
But only one person was in the office: the man I’d been watching.
Jonah McAllister, my old nemesis lay sprawled across the floor.
There’s a tour-wide giveaway you can share! Jennifer is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card, and the publisher has offered up 5 print copies of UNRAVELED AND one FULL SET of the Elemental Assassin series! Open to US and Canada residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What could go wrong when you’re trying to unravel a decades-old conspiracy?
As the current queen of the Ashland underworld, you would think that I, Gin Blanco, would know all about some secret society controlling things from behind the scenes. I might be the Spider, the city’s most fearsome assassin, but all my Ice and Stone elemental magic hasn’t done me a lick of good in learning more about “the Circle”. Despite my continued investigations, the trail’s gone as cold as the coming winter.
So when Finnegan Lane, my foster brother, gets word of a surprising inheritance, we figure why not skip town for someplace less dangerous for a few days? That place: Bullet Pointe, a fancy hotel resort complex plus Old West theme park that Finn now owns lock, stock, and barrel. At first, all the struttin’ cowboys and sassy saloon girls are just hokey fun. But add in some shady coincidences and Circle assassins lurking all around, and vacationing becomes wilder—and deadlier—than any of us expected.
Good thing this assassin brought plenty of knives to the gunfight…
UNRAVELED (Elemental Assassin #15) | Jennifer Estep | Pocket Books | $7.99 | 400 pages | August 30, 2016 | ISBN: 978-1501142215 | Goodreads link:
Purchase links
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About Jennifer Estep:
Jennifer Estep is a New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.


Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Unwanted, e-novella #14.5 in the series, is available now. Unraveled, book #15, will be released on Aug. 30.


Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.


For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit or follow Jennifer on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter.

So, This Happened!

2016 Anthology Contest Winners Announced!   Recently updated !

From Possibilities Publishing House: (I’m JD Blackrose)
We are thrilled to announce the roster of authors who will make up our second annual anthology, Besties, Bromances & Soulmates: Stories About Pivotal Relationships. We received many interesting and engaging submissions with a variety of approaches to the theme. Unfortunately, we were not able to accept them all and so we sought to create a collection of high-quality writing that represented a range of views on this theme.Besties, Bromances & Soulmates will be on sale by early November 2016.

besties-coverFINALJ.D. Blackrose works in corporate communications and lives with her husband, three children, and an enormous orange cat. She’s fearful that so-called normal people will discover exactly how often she thinks about wicked fairies, nasty wizards, homicidal elevators, treacherous forests, and the odd murder, even when she is supposed to be having coffee with a friend or cheering her daughter on during a soccer game. As a survival tactic, she has mastered the art of looking interested.

Herta B. Feely’s novel, Saving Phoebe Murrow, will be released in print and e-book form in September 2016 in the U.S. by Upper Hand Press and in October in the U.K. by Twenty7 Books. She has been awarded the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, an Artist Fellowship in Literature from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the American Independent Writers’ award for best personal essay in 2010. She is also a reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books and owner of Chrysalis Editorial, which serves writers in a variety of capacities—from evaluating manuscripts to ghostwriting to working as a writing coach.

Dakota James is originally from Texas and now lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. His short stories have been published in Pilcrow & Dagger, Scarborough Fair Magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, and Headland. James is also the personal assistant and devoted errand-boy to playwright and novelist Theresa Rebeck.

Troy D. Kurz is a writer of horror, dark fantasy, and weird fiction tales. He lives in the Fredericksburg, Va., area and is at work on many other stories with the help of his girlfriend and personal editor Shannon Christopher.

Joani Peacock is an Episcopal priest and associate for “Liturgy & Hilarity” at Emmanuel on High in Alexandria, Va. She is also a blogger, storyteller, and mental health evangelist @Unorthodox & Unhinged and @Sex & The Single Vicar. In addition, she is a cheerleader for and veteran of the Story District stage, bibliomaniac volunteer at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C., born and bred, half-marathoner and avid pedestrian, friend to many and mother of three.

Jim Ryan is from Avon, N.Y.—home to countless stars, cows, and old pickups. When he isn’t writing or working, he enjoys fishing, playing games, and making or listening to music. He is a graduate of SUNY Geneseo’s creative writing program, where he helped found and later contributed to the literary journal Gandy Dancer. His stories “How to Walk in the Dark” and “Window Seat” can be found there.

Buy the 2015 Anthology Trick or Treat!: A Collection of Spooky Stories.

Learn more about the anthology contest.

Official announcement here:


More Library Punk! The Invisible Library Series by Genvieve Cogman

invisible-library_frame-675x1024There are so many things to like and say about Genvieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series, which continues with the release of the second book, The Masked City.

Regular readers will remember that I wrote a blog post about Librarypunk as a new subgenre. You can read that post here.  At the time, I had just read Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and wrote about Jim Hines’ Magic Ex Libris series.  (And Jim, if you are reading, I would die for a Smudge of my own.  Can you reach into a book and get one for me? Please?)

Now I’ve read the first two books in this new series and I think it is safe to say that Librarypunk is not an emerging subgenre anymore. It has fully arrived.

Our heroine, the scrappy and intelligent Irene, is a Librarian who can use Language (notice the caps) to shape the world around her. Her job is to go to different alternate universes, often very similar to oMasked City biggerurs, to retrieve books for the Library. The Library hoards the books-(they may object to my language) ahem–collect books that are unique, have some potential to add new words to the Language and which can anchor a world to the Library, creating stability. I said hoards above because while the Library is presented as an institution for the greater good, it is clear to the reader that the Library’s aims may be darker, murkier, or simply way-laid by a few who have selfish aims. Irene is going to reveal that to us, I am sure, by book 3.

I loved the choice of the name Irene from the first because I guessed, rightly, that it was chosen as an homage to Irene Adler from Sherlock Holmes. Irene in this world plays with master sleuth Vale, who I honestly would love to have a meal with.

But the thing that has happened here that makes Librarypunk a Thing, is the evolution of the main character. Irene is not just a lover of books, or one of a chosen few that can use books as a portal to somewhere. No…she is a superhero! She’s Jason Bourne crossed with Wonder Woman. She is a super spy, trained in the art of coming and going without being seen, speaks at least 5 languages in addition to the Language, and she fights like a bad-ass. You gotta love her. And smart! This woman is clever folks, as you would expect given her namesake.

It took me a bit to get into these, I will admit. The beginning of the first book had a lot to do and I didn’t feel like the series picked up its pace until further into the book when Irene is on the way to travel to the alternate where the story occurs. So be patient with it, but dive in, give it a try. And if you have girls that love to read, give the books to them too. It’s good for them to see book-worm super women.

Faith Hunter’s Blood of the Earth, Q&A Giveaway and Excerpt!

I have a huge treat! An excerpt from Faith Hunter’s new book Blood of the Earth PLUS a Q&A I was lucky enough to conduct with Faith herself.  5 Stars to a new heroine who is unique and quirky but tough as nails.

I also LOVED seeing Ricky-Bo in such a different way. It made me like him more. It is good to see him fleshed out as a character. 

Giveaway info below. There is a lot here so take your time and enjoy. 

I can give away ONE copy of the book to someone who comments on this post and shares the link on Facebook! Comment and tell me where you shared below.

faith hunter

Can we assume that Nell’s universe will expand, much as Jane’s has, and as her universe expands so do her abilities?

F~ Jane’s life began the series circumscribed by her amnesia, her uncertainty of what a skinwalker was, and her upbringing for 6 years in a children’s home. Her universe had no place but to expand. Nell, on the other hand, is circumscribed by an upbringing that restricts her view of the world and how it works, but far more so by what she believes she is going to be allowed to do or be. She was brought up with one single life “choice” which was wife and mother, and that from age twelve. Her freedoms, once she is liberated from the church, fall into the option category. She now has choices, but does she believe in herself enough to imperil them? So her universe has possibility to expand, but which ones will she risk?

It is very nice to see Ricky-Bo from another perspective. What were you thinking about Rick when you brought him into this series? What did you want us to see or learn?

F~ Despite the fact that he is a man-whore, I always wanted Rick to continue, because his choices and life in general have had very negative results. I wanted Rick to see what his “playa lifestyle” cost him. I wanted him to be useful to society, but to suffer. And then to grow. By the endo of CURSE ON THE LAND, he reeeeally suffers. Just sayin’. I am hoping he comes to a higher appreciation of what he’s lost and makes an effort to change. And if he doesn’t, then he gets what he deserves.

Will Jane and Nell meet again?

F~ I’d like to see that happen. I haven’t planned out the last book of the Nell trilogy, so it’s possible, but not written yet.

I love Nell’s little sister, Mud. Will we see more of her in future books?

F~ I LOVE MUD! I want to see a short where Mud and Angie Baby go to magic-users summer camp! Can you imagine the hijinks?

EXCERPT:  Off the Grid

By Faith Hunter

This story takes place just before Broken Soul. In it, you’ll meet Nell, who will be getting her own series! The first book, BLOOD OF THE EARTH will be published in August 2016.

Excerpt Part 8/2 SHORT Slippery Words

Beast reached up and grabbed a root, swinging me out over the cliff. “Holy crap,” I grunted. The ground was way, way down there. I let her have us. Jumping down cliffs was a Puma concolor thing. The steeper and more impossible, the better. I was just glad my chicken and dumplings had digested. I didn’t want to lose that delicious meal when I landed, broke my legs, and threw up all over the place. But Beast wasn’t planning on any of that.

A tiny rock stuck out about twenty-five feet down. She pushed off with my free hand, accelerating the momentum of our swing, and let go of the root. I/we landed with the left toes of my boot on the rock and pushed off. The rock gave way, tumbling straight down to the vamp who had baited Eli. He caught the rock just as I/we landed in a crouch at his feet, perfectly balanced on my/our toes and fingertips.

I looked up and growled at the vamp. He took a quick step back, dropping the rock. I/we hacked in challenge. He stabilized his balance and nodded slightly at me/us, one of the regal nods that old vamps, especially old royalty who had been turned, used to acknowledge one another, or sometimes gave to someone they thought their equal. I had a feeling that someday this vamp and I might tussle and I’d hurt him. Just enough to let him know he shouldn’t have dissed the Enforcer of the MOC of New Orleans. Not even if he was a prince of vamps. Maybe he’d bleed a bit. But for now we had a vamp to rescue. And a bunch of kids too.

I gave him a regal nod back and pressed the button on my mic, a signal that would be relayed to Alex, who, unbeknownst to the vamps, would be calling the local LEOs (currently at a standoff on the blockaded road) in on an emergency raid, up through the secret entrance at the Philemon family farm. No way was I rescuing a suckhead and leaving women and children in the hands of cultists who would consider marrying off a twelve-year-old girl. And who had a “punishment house” for disobedient women and girls. No way.

Electric lights lit the compound grounds. The buildings were all painted a blinding white that threw back the security lights and created darker shadows. Path borders were neatly marked with rounded river rocks. The smells of many people and many dogs were strong on the night air. I oriented myself and waited. Four of our vamps had orders to neutralize the dogs and guards on the grounds, and then take down the armed guards keeping out the LEOs. There would be no killed humans to give the LEOs reason to charge vamps with a crime; instead the orders were to deliver a heavy-handed thump on the head to make the humans and canines woozy and then more zip strips to keep both dogs and humans out of the way. A little duct tape to keep them quiet, if needed. But no DBs—dead bodies. None.

The vamps, like my Beast, could spot the dogs by smell alone. More important, we could smell the humans. And vamp blood. It hung thick on the air. The vampires vamped-out and slid into the shadows.

I heard thumps and a growl close by, mostly hidden by raucous music from a building on the far side of the compound. It sounded like a bluegrass bland, with banjos and guitars and drums. Playing a rollicking . . . hymn. “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” men’s voices rolling into the night along with the scent of sweat and testosterone. They were in the church, and they smelled and sounded as though they were celebrating. Maybe they were. They had the state of Tennessee’s finest stymied at the front gate.

Following our plan, Chessy and another human and the vampire prince tore off, chasing the smell of Heyda’s blood. A third human followed, covering them from the rear with a nasty-looking fully automatic weapon that bore a strong resemblance to an M4A1 carbine, a semiautomatic rifle that fired a 5.56-millimeter NATO round. U.S. military issue. It would chew up anything it hit. Instant hamburger. I so didn’t want it to be used. If a human died on this raid, Leo and Ming would do all they could to protect the vamps, but the humans could possibly be hung out to dry—which meant that I might spend a long time in jail.

Once the guards were taken care of, Eli took the humans and vamps with the most recent military, boots-on-the-ground experience, and divided them into two groups. Eli’s group vanished into the shadows of the ammo building while the other group stood guard. When exploding ammo was no longer a threat, Eli would make sure there was no footage of tonight’s raid for the cops to find. Eli was good.

The rest of us—those with little or no military experience—headed for the nursery. The door was locked from the inside, but the two vamps with me took the door down. It wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t as loud as I might have expected either. Vamp reflexes were so fast that when they busted in the door, they caught it before it hit the wall behind. Between that and the loud music, no one heard us except an older woman who was reading the Bible by the light of a flashlight just inside the door. She looked up with her mouth in an O of surprise. The vamp nearest grabbed the human up by the scruff of the neck and set her down gently beside me. While I secured the human and shoved a sock into her mouth to keep her quiet, the vamp disabled an alarm button under the desk by the most simple and efficient method. She broke it with her fist. I liked her style.

Together, we checked on the children, hoping they were all safe and asleep and that there were no more adults who might give a warning. Unfortunately two of the children had been beaten recently. Their scents told us they were bruised and had cried themselves to sleep. The scents also told us who had done the beating—the nurse. Her knuckles still showed the damage. The vamp who had disabled the alarm made sure that she didn’t get a chance to wash her hands and maybe rinse away trace evidence. She knocked the nurse out with a swift and well-delivered left jab. “Nice,” I said.

“Yeah. Bet she’d be tasty.”

“I bet she would,” I said mildly.

The vamp studied her face, and I had to wonder if the human nurse would get a visit one night from a vampire vigilante. Satisfied that the kids were bruised but okay, and that the older woman was the only guard, I left the nursery in the care of our humans and took my two vamps to raid the punishment house. The men were still singing, and anger had begun to heat my blood.

The punishment house was a small, nondescript building of white siding, post-and-beam construction, with thick walls. No windows. It looked like a nicely kept storage building. But I could smell the pain and fear inside it. So could the vamps. The female vamp who had busted the alarm had attached herself to me, and she took down this door the same way she had the nursery door—a swift kick—though this door took three kicks, and they weren’t quiet. When the door splintered open, we were met with the business end of a shotgun. Which my personal vamp took away in a move that was faster than I could follow in the shadows. It was a single, fluid move of kick, grab the barrel, whip up the gunstock to hit the guard in the jaw, and catch both guard and gun before they hit the floor. It was pretty. It was the last pretty thing I saw in the punishment house. There were four beds in a single room, a bathroom running along the back wall. No privacy curtains. Two women were shackled on the beds, and by the time I found light, they were crying and whimpering.

The vamp looked at them and cursed under her breath. Still moving fast, she broke the wrist cuffs with her bare hands and gathered the women up in the sheets and blankets from the beds. Drawing on her vamp strength, she pulled them close to her on the edge of one bed, murmuring endearments as she gave off a vamp compulsion, the energies cold and icy on my skin. I almost told her to stop, until I realized she was exuding calm, a gentle relaxing vibe that encouraged the women to accept help. I had never seen vamp compulsion powers being used for something good, not like this, and my respect for the vamp went up another notch. She needed a nickname, something better than “the female vamp with a great left fist.”

I stood to the side, weapon ready, watching the darkness outside and the vamp inside, until the women prisoners were sleepy and content, their heads lolling on the vamp’s shoulders. Gently she laid them down and stood, looking up at me, her hands patting the women into deeper sleep. Softly she said, “I recognize them. This is why Heyda let herself be taken. These are her grandchildren, Berta and Wilhelmina. Berta is in her twenties. Willie is in her forties. They’ve been . . . abused.”

I knew what she meant. I had known by the smells from the moment the door had slammed open and all the scents hit my nose. They had been beaten by several people while secured to the beds and unable to defend themselves. They had then been taught a different kind of lesson by a man. I didn’t realize the extent of my own anger—mine and Beast’s—until I spoke to the two vamps under my command. My voice was a deeper register than my normal human voice. “I smell the stink of sexual predators who hide behind religion. What say we find the man in charge?”

“His blood will be yummy,” the woman said. And she vamped-out. Fast.

“Not to kill,” I amended, to the vamp, who I’d nicknamed Yummy. “But let’s scare the bejesus outta him.”

“He won’t have any Jesus in him,” Yummy said around her fangs, “but scared blood is the best kind.”

For once I didn’t disagree.

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Set in the same world as the New York Times bestselling Jane Yellowrock novels, an all-new series starring Nell Ingram, who wields powers as old as the earth.
When Nell Ingram met skinwalker Jane Yellowrock, she was almost alone in the world, exiled by both choice and fear from the cult she was raised in, defending herself with the magic she drew from her deep connection to the forest that surrounds her. Now, Jane has referred Nell to PsyLED, a Homeland Security agency policing paranormals, and agent Rick LaFleur has shown up at Nell’s doorstep. His appearance forces her out of her isolated life into an investigation that leads to the vampire Blood Master of Nashville. Nell has a team-—and a mission. But to find the Master’s kidnapped vassal, Nell and the PsyLED team will be forced to go deep into the heart of the very cult Nell fears, infiltrating the cult and a humans-only terrorist group before time runs out…
About Faith Hunter:
Faith Hunter, fantasy writer, was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. She writes three Urban Fantasy series: the Skinwalker series, featuring Jane Yellowrock, a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires. The Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. And the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. (There is a role playing game based on the series, ROGUE MAGE.)
Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she writes action-adventure, mysteries, and thrillers. As Faith and Gwen, she has 30+ books in print in 29 countries.
Hunter writes full-time, tries to keep house, and is a workaholic with a passion for travel, jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and writing. She and her husband love to RV, traveling with their rescued Pomeranians to whitewater rivers all over the Southeast.
Find Faith online at her website, her blog, on TwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.