Monday, April 22, 2019

SCANDAL: A Devotional from J.T. Wallington

Title: Scandal
Author: J.T. Wallington 
Genre: Non-fiction, Devotional, Christian 
Release: Get it HERE


He committed premeditated murder and adultery, yet he was also the God-chosen King of Israel. 

In this 40-day devotional, J.T. Wallington explores what King David wrote about sin and repentance in Psalm 51 and how the words that he penned apply practically to your life today. 

From the Author 

Who doesn't love a good scandal?

Picture this, a king who seduces and sleeps with his best soldier's wife - and when she becomes pregnant because of this affair, the king has her husband murdered. This. Is. Savage. This. Is. Scandalous. This. Is. Life. 

We all have a past. We have all made mistakes. We all have a scandal. 
I don't know your scandal in your life, whether it is as profound as a sexual affair with a married woman, whether it is committing murder in a back alley, or whether it is gossip at the water cooler at work, we all are guilty of something. 

I'm J. T. Wallington - my friends call me Jamison. 

In my own scandal in life I discovered something, I need Jesus. This is the most cliche sounding sentence I have written - but it is true. I. Need. Jesus - and so do you. 

I come from a conservative Christian family, born in the Mid-West of the United States but have lived in many states and have visited several countries. I have degrees in Religion, Business and Nursing - but my passion is in writing and teaching.

I have also discovered that life is busy - and because of that, I have decided to write books that are short, to the point and deeply practical to your every day life. My "40 Days" series will allow you to spend time deep in the theology of the Biblical text but is also written in a way that allows you to understand and apply these Biblical concepts to your every day life. 

Join me in my latest book, Scandal - Psalm 51, as we discover how David's scandal of a sexual affair and premeditated murder allowed him to have a deeper relationship with God - learn with David how in our own scandals in life, we too can experience a deeper relationship with God and grow through our mistakes. 


J.T. Wallington has been a pastor and a teacher. Addressing those living in a busy world, he delivers startling insights in bite-sized pieces, presenting accurate theology that benefits everyday life. Coming to know a real God through real life and real mistakes, his one desire is to teach others about the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ. 

To participate in this program, visit HERE! We'd love to have you! 
(Limited space available)

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

EYESIGHT TO THE BLIND: A Journey From Darkness To Light, from Author Richard F. Holmes

Author: Richard F. Holmes 
Get it HERE!
This is an extraordinary book that tells the story of the author's journey from a place of darkness to one of light.  You will experience a roller coaster ride of extreme highs and lows as he takes your hand and leads you on a guided tour into the depths of depression, which he lived with for at least 28 years.  Whilst there you will feel his pain, you will be impressed by his brutal honesty and you will laugh… a lot!  You will then rise with him and ascend; out of the darkness and into the love.
This is not just another run-of-the-mill book on the paranormal; it is also an essential guide for daily living.  Author Richard F Holmes bares his soul as he gives the reader an insight into a medium's work and life on the road, and his between 200 and 300 out-of-body experiences and how he has experienced different realms of existence and interacted with discarnate souls.  Incredibly, he then explains how it all pales into insignificance as life starts to reveal its true meaning.
"As I take the reader through each stage of my journey from childhood to present day, I have tried to write from the perspective of the mind-set and understanding that I had at the time.  The idea is that the reader evolves with the writer through mutual experience. Although I have refrained from using bad language, the language I have used reflects who I am; after all, you can take the boy out of North London, but you can never take North London out of the boy".
The beauty of this book however, is the central message that the author conveys via his writing.  In life you do not have to be a victim.  Each and every one of us is powerful beyond our imagination.  It is only the thought that we are not that makes us victims.  Eyesight To The Blind is an exciting and powerful book that really needs to be read from cover to cover, it combines the paranormal with spirituality, but it is also a practical guide for daily living.

Excerpt from the Novel, Courtesy of Richard F. Holmes: 
A whole new world opened up for me.  I found very quickly that simply by “thinking” myself in a particular direction I would start travelling in that direction.  I also learned very quickly to be able to pass through solid objects.  Astral energy has a much finer vibration than matter; that's why we can't normally see it, but all energy appears solid in its own relevant plane of existence.

In the early days I always kept my eyes closed until I got to my destination, because I found that if I opened them en-route it put a dampener on things and I ended up straight back in my body.  Eventually, I was able to open my eyes during the outbound journey, enabling me to view the surroundings and my companion.  However, not all journeys have been smooth and I've only on very rare occasions had the same companion twice.  On one occasion I had a soul whom I nicknamed "Einstein", because he resembled that great man of science with his crazy, wild hair.  It was so uncomfortable for me that I got quite angry and demanded that I return immediately to my body.  I did go straight back in my body, but not before acquiring an astral bruise.  As incredible as it seems, that is exactly what happened.  Einstein was so clumsy, he actually bruised me, and I felt it within my being for a couple of days afterwards.  It remains the only time that this has ever happened to me.

Incredibly, on some occasions it got so boring that I questioned the relevance of the experience.  On one such occasion I learned that all I needed to do was think myself back into my body, and I would be back in the blink of an eye.  There has only been one time when I seemed to be stuck and contemplated the thought that I might possibly have "died". I ended up outside what looked like a very small version of one of those open-planned newsagents that you get in airports.  There was no soul anywhere to be seen except me.  I seem to remember looking to try to fathom out what was going on in the "astral news".  All I could see was blank placards and I remember thinking that I was wasting my time.  I "thought" myself back into my body but nothing happened!  I did it a few more times and still nothing happened.  Eventually, I started to make a very slow journey back to my body; it seemed to take an age but I got there in the end.

In the early days things were shown to me that indicated that these experiences can be used to show you scenes from previous lives.  In my case I was shown things that I understand to be from my two previous lives; but I have no way of proving this.
I don't know why these events happened the way they did, and I also don't know why I always had a companion and how our destination was decided.  It was also several years before I wondered what the point of it all was.  But later I will give an insight into the greater understanding of astral travel that I have these days.  I will also mention here that in my own personal experience, when I am out of my body I have no concept of the physical life.  What I do have though, is a knowing sense of having unfinished business here in my physical form and an understanding that my body is somehow being held in suspended animation until I return to it.  

This is how I was able to rationalize that I may in fact have "died", on the occasion when it took a while to return.  After having several of these experiences I decided that I would keep a record.  This I did, but for reasons that I still do not know, I randomly decided one day that I didn't need to keep such records and destroyed my journal.
All Buy Links: 

Buy a paperback in Amazon US  

Buy a paperback in Amazon UK
Buy a kindle copy in Amazon US
Buy a kindle copy in Amazon UK

About the Author 

A Londoner by birth, Richard now lives in the South West of England. He has written 13 books in the spiritual/self-help genre and also produced eight CDs; five of meditation and three of mantra chanting. However, he has removed most of his prior work from circulation as he feels that it no longer represents who he is today. As well as being a writer, Richard works in a hospice. He is also an artist when he gets the inspiration, and he worked as a medium for 17 years, giving public demonstrations of mediumship.
Since the so-called “shift” at the end of 2012, Richard has had what he describes as, “a series of eureka moments”, where life has started to reveal its true meaning. As a result, he saw the futility of continuing his work as a medium and finally gave it up early in 2018 in order to concentrate on his day job.
Richard’s influences are, Ramana Maharshi, Neale Donald Walsch, Eckhart Tolle, Paramahansa Yogananda, Osho and Rupert Spira.

To participate in this program, visit HERE! We'd love to have you! 
(Limited space available)

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


What's up, readers? Spring has sprung. I know this because my eyes are watering, my nose is itching, and I'm stocking up on Kleenex. Usually Spring is one of my favorite parts of life. I love the color and warmth after winter, the slow prologue into a blistering hot summer here in the Central Valley of California. What I hate are the allergies. This year seems to be particularly irritating to my poor nose for some reason, and I have regrettably had to keep my windows closed despite the beautiful weather! 

Since giving birth in late January, I've been slowly getting into some semblance of a routine with my baby, just in time for me to enjoy the last two weeks of my official maternity leave before staring a second job (yes, I'm still running Writing Belle Publishing and this magazine - I will never give up writing!). I've finally been able to get back into the swing of reading, so I thought I would share the literary picks that are sitting on my shelf currently or twirling around on my Kindle carousal. Some I am in the process of reading, but most are what I'm going to be reading next! 

Wool, by Hugh Howey 
If you follow me in Instagram, you know I've been talking about this one a lot. It follows the story of a woman named Jules, who lives in a society built within a silo, deep beneath the earth. A post-apocalyptic novel of corruption, adventure, and deceit, you'll love this book from beginning to end. I am in love with it - and even more in love with the fact that our heroine, Jules, is a mechanic who can hold her own with the toughest. She's a tougher-than-usual protagonist, and that makes her special. 

Stillhouse Lake, by Rachel Caine
This one. I am itching to get into it. It's the first in a series of novels from Rachel Caine. In this first installment, Gina Royal discovers - quite unfortunately - that her husband is actually a serial killer. Talk about a major buzz kill. I snagged this USA Today and Amazon Charts Bestselling book on Kindle for just 2.99. 

Cole & Sav: Our Surprising Love Story, by Cole and Savannah LaBrant 
Okay, you may or may not know who this is, but I get a big kick out of watching this family vlog their life on YouTube. They're Christians, and they make videos that are safe for the whole family to watch - clean, decent, and cute as can be. You should go check out their channel if you haven't: The LaBrant Family. They have over 8 million subscribers! I'm excited to read this book about how they met and fell in love (I'm a sucker for a cute romance). I've especially been enjoying their videos lately, since they recently had a baby (Posie, who is about 3 months old), and I can relate!

Naked in Death, (Death #1), by J.D. Robb 
This is the first in a series of about 456 books (just kidding, there are FORTY-NINE), starting with the adventures of homicide detective Eve Dallas in the futuristic world of 2058. There's corruption, adventure, intrigue, romance - you name it. If this one hooks me, I'm stuck with reading the following 48 novels, because I just can't stop myself from devouring a good series. (I have a problem: send help immediately.) 

You Belong To Me, by Mark Tilbury 
Have I mentioned that I like books about crime investigations? No? Perhaps you have figured it out by now. *wink* This novel follows the story about the disappearance of two girls, and how one man, Danny, could change their fates. 

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2), by Sarah J. Maas
Disclaimer: I didn't like the first novel, despite the fact that the series is wildly popular. I thought the protagonist was overly emotional and incredibly naive for someone who is supposed to be a hardcore killing machine, but I digress. I'm going to try the second installment in the series and see if I can get into it. I like my assassin heroines to be tough as nails - not sure if I'm going to be satisfied with this story or not. We shall see! 

Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn 
Reporter Camilla has just returned from a stint at a mental hospital, and now she's supposed to cover a story about two missing, preteen girls. If this is anything like Gone Girl, Flynn has a way of writing psychological thrillers that make you 1) grip the edge of your seat and 2) throw up a little in your mouth, due to the outrageous graphic sexual violence. I don't mean that as an insult, it's just a fact. Flynn pulled no punches in Gone Girl, and I expect this book to be the same. I have a feeling I will be sucked in nevertheless. Flynn is a master of suspense, despite the craziness. 

Poison Study, by Maria B. Snyder
Yelena is about to be executed, but at the last moment, is granted a miraculous reprieve: she can be the official taste tester for the king. Hey, she might end up being poisoned but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to survive. This book was published in 2005, and I was actually surprised to stumble across it (and realize that I hadn't discovered it before!).

The Missing Years, by Lexie Elliot 
THIS BOOK. It's currently on pre-order and my expectations are high! This novel follow the story of a woman named Ailsa, who just to happens to inherit a beautiful yet insanely creepy Scottish manor. I mean, like one does. She has a feeling that something strange is going on - as if the house itself is watching her. Is it? What's going on? I can't wait for this one to come out, especially since I'm particularly fond of books set in Scotland. 

Stone Mothers, by Erin Kelly
Not releasing until April 23rd. From the same author of the bestselling He Said/She Said. Here's the official synopsis from GoodReads: 
You can't keep the secret.
You can't tell the truth.
You can't escape the past...

Marianne was seventeen when she fled her home in Nusstead – leaving behind her family, her boyfriend, Jesse, and the body they buried. Now, thirty years later, forced to return to in order to help care for her sick mother, she can feel the past closing around her. And Jesse, who never forgave her for leaving in the first place, is finally threatening to expose the truth.

My Non-Fiction Pick of the Month:
It's Not Supposed to be This Way, by Lysa TerKeurst 
If you know me personally, you'll know that Lysa is my favorite non-fiction Christian author and speaker. She's real. I love that. She doesn't preach a watered down, feel-good prosperity gospel. She preaches about the real pain of life, and how we can trust God to give us the strength to endure life's very real trials and tribulations, and how we can find joy nevertheless. Add to her life experiences the fact that she's an excellent writer, Lysa brings a unique voice and perspective to Christian non-fiction that I haven't seen in anyone else. I highly recommend this book. She talks about finding strength in God when life completely shatters you. Go pick it up - totally worth the read. 

So, this is just the cream of the crop from what's on my shelf. My literal book shelf (and drawer, and closet, and box, and second drawer) is actually stuffed full of dozens more. Do you have any recommendations for me to try this spring and upcoming summer season? Shoot me a message over Instagram or email me here! 

Thanks for stopping by and remember: all of the books here are featured for fun, to further than creative intent of the original author, and to encourage readers to go and buy the writer's work. I don't get any money out of promoting these. I simply enjoy sharing these books with you in hopes that you will all go out and buy them, because they are amazing! 

You can get all of these books on Amazon. 

Happy reading!

Monday, March 25, 2019

OUT OF THE SHADOW: A Psychological Thriller Series from J.K. Winn + Other Titles

Two women. One goal. 
To uncover the truth no matter the cost.


A survivor of rape and her husband's murder, all Becca Rosen wants to do is move on with her life, but how can she when she's being stalked by a psychopath with an attitude---and an agenda. The police are no help because they're convinced, with her history of mental illness, Becca has faked the rape to get away with her husband's murder. On top of that, Becca has begun to have flashbacks of childhood abuse, possibly at the hands of the rapist. Not knowing where to turn, and feeling like she might go crazy again, Becca hires Psychologist, Sarah Abrams, to help her unearth who's behind the crimes of the past...and the present.  

Three men come into Becca's life around the same time. While each of these men has his charms, Becca can't be certain whether any one of them is the perpetrator. Or could it be someone else? Together Becca and Sarah start on a course of hypnotherapy to discover abuser's identity. Will their work reveal the real killer before it's too late, or will Becca fall prey once again to this demented criminal?

Get it HERE and in the Apple Store!
The Second Book in the Shadow Series: 

The Second Book in The Shadow Series 
J.K. Winn 


When Ellie Ross’ best friend dies mysteriously during a wild night spent drinking and partying, Ellie suddenly becomes the center of attention. But not in the way she could have imagined, or ever wanted. The police write off Jessica’s death as an accident, but Ellie’s memories of that fateful night come back to her in flashes, alerting her to the fact Jessica was murdered. The murderer—whoever he is—will stop at nothing to prevent Ellie from exposing the truth.

Now, to protect herself from this faceless menace, Ellie must learn his identity. She hires Psychologist Sarah Abrams to help her recover her memories. Will she identify the killer in time to save herself, or will she become his next victim? Night of the Shadow will keep you on the edge of your seat as Ellie tries to outwit death until the final, surprising twist.

Get it HERE or in the Apple Store!
Also keep an eye out for J.K. Winn's other published titles: 

Get it HERE!

Get it HERE!

Get it HERE!

Also included in this week's feature: an exclusive excerpt from J.K. Winn's newest release: HOLD BACK THE WIND. 

Get it HERE.
La Jolla, California 1998

Without a medical miracle, Orlando Asala would die. 
Dr. Vickie Marsh palpated the five-year-old’s stomach, distended to the size of a watermelon and hard as a rock. Sure signs of end stage kidney disease.
At her touch, Orlando winced and a single tear trickled from his large dark brown eyes and travelled down his cheek. Vickie reached up to pat his straight black hair. “Sorry Sweetie.” Since he didn’t understand a word of English, her reassurance was more for her own sake then for his. 
Even in pain, Orlando didn’t utter a sound.
Not normally a risk taker, Vickie had rarely stepped outside the dotted line, or questioned authority. But, every once in a while, life requires more of you than you're prepared to give. It asks you to stretch and grow in ways you never thought possible. And at those moments you can either bow under in defeat, or take a leap into the unknown.
Vickie knew what she had to do. She gently draped the cover over Orlando. “I’ll be back.” With a CT Scan extracted from his chart, she took the stairs two at a time to the first floor administrator’s office. Vickie had lost two patients unexpectedly in the last couple of months and she wasn’t about to lose one who could be saved without putting up a fight.
Heart pounding, palms sweating, she stationed herself by Bart Standly’s desk and placed the CT Scan under his nose. “I'm wondering if you could help me understand your policy concerning the Asala kid. Since he's in kidney failure, why can't I dialyze him?”
Bart frowned. “You know as well as I do we’re only supposed to offer emergency treatment to illegals.”
“I know you won't treat his cancer, which is probably Wilm's tumor in both kidneys,” she pointed at the scan, “but after what happened in the Ramirez case, I'm having difficulty making sense of why you won't let us at least dialyze him. If we had only kept the Ramirez child here, he might be alive today. I hope you won't do the same thing with Orlando.”
Bart brushed off her argument with a hand. “This is a private hospital, Vickie. We don’t have the resources to treat everyone who waltzes through our doors. He can go to a public facility for further treatment­—”
“That’s what you said about Jose Ramirez. How can you transfer out anyone in Orlando’s condition? It’s... it’s unconscionable.”
“There’s no proof we could save him even if we intervened.“
“But there is evidence if we don’t he’ll die.”
“Look, I have enough to deal with right now without anything else on my plate. You know as well as I do the state is sending someone over to look into the number of unexplained deaths on our pediatric floor. I’m under enormous pressure.” Bart looked strained. He fingered a metal paperweight, nervously tapping it against the polished wooden desktop. “Beside the legalities of treating this child, how do you think we’d be paid? We aren’t a county hospital. We can’t afford to treat patients for free. Be rational.”
Still shaky, she had to think fast or her position wouldn't stand a chance. ”How would it look with all these pediatric deaths if we abandon a sick kid? I don’t care if he’s from Guatemala or Timbuktu. It won’t help the hospital’s image.”
Although Bart raised a hand in protest, his voice became pious. Reasonable. “I’m just as concerned a doctor as you. I’d like to treat this child, but it’s futile. Any drastic measures would be questionable...and irrationally expensive.“
To calm her smoldering frustration, Vickie stared past him through the picture window at the brilliant blue San Diego sky. An ancient queen palm swayed in the ocean breeze. Bright scarlet bougainvillea encircled its trunk and clung to it with the same desperate determination driving her.
She pointed to the picture of a beaming tow-headed boy on the wall by the window. “Orlando Asala is only five, about the same age as little Bart. How would you feel if this happened to him? I know you’d have the hospital cranked into high gear to handle the problem.”
He looked away and gave a shrug of indifference.
“You’re head of this hospital, you make the final decision. If Children’s or Scripps caught wind of this, what do you think they’d do?“
At the mention of his competition, he squirmed. “But I’d have to justify it to the Board and you know where they stand on these matters.”
She saw fear of bad local PR was more likely to change his mind than humanitarian, or even personal, considerations. She pressed her advantage. “You can tell the Board what you want; this kid needs treatment now. I’ve looked at his levels and he probably has nephroblastoma tumors. There's no time to delay.”
But time did stop while he considered. Bart stared at the scan with flat black eyes surrounded by puffy bags. He ran a hand through his combed-over gray hair and then pinched his sagging jowls.
Finally, he sighed. “All right. You win this round.”
“You're wrong, Bart, I haven’t won anything until I find a way to save Orlando’s life. The dialysis is only a stop-gap measure. It isn't a cure.”
A buzz filled the room and Bart silenced it by pressing a button on his phone. “Yes?”
The voice of his secretary bellowed back, “Steve Maple’s here from Med Machines.”
“Tell him I’ll be right out.” Bart glanced up as though surprised to find her still there. “I have to go. This is an important meeting.”
She had squeezed out all the concessions he would deliver for now. After a terse goodbye, she left the office. Halfway down the hall she ran smack into oncologist Cynthia Reynolds. Cynthia looked as harried as Vickie felt.
“Sorry,” Cynthia mumbled, then stared at Vickie. “Are you okay. You don’t look well...”
“I just had a meeting with Bart about one of my patients, Orlando Asala—you know, the five-year-old from Colombia.”
Cynthia flexed her brow. “And what was the gist of this meeting?”
“Money, of course. Bart doesn’t want to keep treating Orlando indefinitely without the hope of being paid. I can understand his position as Hospital Director, but I can’t understand tossing this child away like yesterday's breakfast. I don’t know what to do.”
She started to move past Cynthia, when she heard her mumble under her breath, “There’s one possibility—­”
Vickie spun around. “What's that?”
“I recall a similar case a couple of years back. There was someone who could help...” She shook her head of wavy dark brown hair. Deep lines etched grooves around her bloodshot, sleep deprived eyes. “Silly of me to even mention anything. He’s long gone... she muttered. “It’s such a long shot, you might as well not bother."
Not bother. Any hope was no bother at all. She blocked Cynthia’s path. “Who is it?”
A tech walked past and gave Cynthia a nod. She smiled at the tech before glancing back at Vickie. “And?”
Cynthia looked confused. “What were we talking about?”
“You mentioned someone who might be able to help Orlando.”
“That’s right. I probably shouldn’t have mentioned him because he left the hospital under less than the best of circumstances a few years back. I hear he’s working for a private research lab and teaching paraglider classes—”
“Who are you talking about?”
Cynthia shrugged. “I don’t believe he wants anything to do with this hospital anymore. So forget I mentioned him.”
“Him who?”
“I wish I hadn’t said anything. We're friends—I'd hate to piss him off. I warn you, if you approach him, don’t expect any assistance from me, and do expect a lot of resistance from him.”
“Just tell me his name and I'll take it from there.”
Cynthia sighed. “I know you, Vickie. You’ll never rest until I give you an answer, even if it’s a big mistake. Please don’t tell him I sent you. I'm not sure how he'll react.”
Her reluctance piqued Vickie's curiosity all the more. “Why?”
“To say he's not fond of Bart or Seaside Hospital is a serious understatement. I’ll leave it at that.” Cynthia offered her a shallow smile.
“His name is Zackery Scott.”

About the Author 

J K Winn has many stories to share. After years of working in the "real" world, including a job teaching college, working with the Indian Health Service, performing evaluations for the New Mexican courts, and even a stint on a hospital dialysis unit, she decided to reinvent herself in mid-life and pursue her love of story. 

She has six published novels, a play produced by the Actor's Alliance Festival in San Diego, poetry anthologized in, For the Love of Writing, by the San Diego Writer's Workshop and a play, Gotcha!, selected for a reading at the Village Arts Theater in Carlsbad, California, May 2012. 

She presently lives by the beach in San Diego County, California. Visit her at her blog

To participate in this program, visit HERE! We'd love to have you! 
(Limited space available)

Monday, March 18, 2019

ABOVE THE STORM: Coming-Of-Age Fantasy Adventure from Author JMD Reid

Title: Above the Storm 
Genre: Fantasy 
Author: JMD Reid
Buy It Now on Amazon! 

To save the world, Ary must die!

Ary, a young man scarred by his past, is thrust into the dangers of the 
military. But he carries a deadly secret: the dark goddess's touch 
stains his soul.

Her taint threatens to destroy all he loves.

He must hide the truth from the other marines and the woman he loves. 
Can Ary survive the dangers of service and the zealous assassin plotting 
his death?

Are you ready for the action, danger, romance, and betrayal exploding 
across the skies Above the Storm!?
Special Excerpt, Courtesy of JMD Reid

Chapter One

The Skyland of Vesche, 391 VF (Vaarck’s Founding) (1952 SR)
On the eastern side of Vesche, a ruined watchtower rose above the grassy hill, its slope terminating at the abrupt edge of the skyland. Any who had the misfortune of falling off the skyland would tumble past its coral-covered sides before plummeting into the boil of the Storm Below. Once, the tower thrust tall, but now its gray stones crumbled, its mortar decayed by time and the elements. It stood no higher than its second floor, its bones hidden in the tall grass. Instead of hard-bitten men from the long-dead Kingdom of Vesche-Arxo watching the Storm, it hosted the play of boisterous children.
“You cannot have her, Ary,” Vel shouted.
“I’ll save you, Chaylene!” Ary’s brown face twisted with excitement. He charged up the crumbling steps, a stick raised high in both hands, and bellowed a wordless war cry. Vel awaited him at the top, his stick held low, ready.
Their weapons cracked together.
“You can beat him, Ary!” cheered Chaylene as the ten-year-old boys traded overhand blows, filling the air with wooden cracks and exuberant yells. The smile on her coal-black face spurred Ary. Unlike the boys, who possessed the brown skin of pure Vionese, Chaylene had Vaarckthian blood. She’d inherited her ma’s black skin and gray eyes, though her dead father had gifted her with long tresses of blonde. “Beat the dread pirate and save me!”
“You can’t have her. She’s mine.” Vel’s skinny face attempted menace, the expression ruined by stray locks of his light-brown hair falling across his red eyes.
“No Agerzak pirate can defeat a marine.” Ary countered with his stick and pressed his attack, the sun warm on his back through his faded-blue cotton shirt.
Today was the first day the weathermaster had allowed clear skies in a week, and Ary, tired of being cooped up, thought his time better spent outside than stuck in school. As always, he’d had to convince Vel to skip school, too. Ary had ignored his friend’s feeble protests and dragged him along. Chaylene, unlike Vel, could not be stopped. Since her pa died in the war while she still grew in the womb, her ma didn’t care about much, and Chaylene took full advantage of it.
Ary knew he’d be in trouble with his parents for skipping school. His ma—blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun, sleeves of her dress rolled up for cooking—would wait at the porch for his return, hands on hips, a fierce glare in her eyes. “Always making me worry about the trouble you get into,” she would say, or, “Your pa and I gonna worry right through the skyland and fall to our deaths, Briaris Jayne.” Ary knew he faced a whupping when she used his full name. And she’d be real angry if she learned he was with Chaylene. Last time, she’d spanked him, yelling, “Running around with that hussy’s daughter! I won’t stand for it, Briaris Jayne!”
Ary didn’t know what “hussy” meant. He’d asked his pa, but he’d just grunted and muttered something about waiting ‘til Ary was older. Chaylene’s ma worked as a washerwoman for the soldiers at the nearby Watch. Ary couldn’t figure why his ma would hate her for that. The sailors needed their clothes laundered.
Today, the boys and Chaylene played Pirates and Marines, Ary’s favorite game. He wanted nothing more than to enlist as a marine and fight for the Autonomy of Les-Vion. Every chance he could, he’d sneak down to the Jolly Farmer, the only tavern in the village of Isfe, to listen to the veterans tell war stories to the sailors and marines stationed at Aldeyn Watch. The old veterans drank in the attention, and the beer, the sailors supplied. Ary felt his ma’s lecture and his pa’s strapping worth it to sit on the rush-covered floor, reeking of stale beer and vomit, and listen.
Ol’ Thay would tell stories of the Neta Skywars between the Autonomy and their old masters, the Vaarckthian Empire. His craggy voice spoke of the desperate battle fought above the Neta Skyrift where corvettes and frigates traded ballista fire and sheets of crossbow bolts. Ships so badly damaged, the skyrift sucked them down into the Storm Below, never to be heard of again.
Other times, Jondheth Pegleg would talk about the Zzuk Aggression War. He’d boast of fighting the massive Gezitziz of Zzuk and show off the iron dagger, the rare metal worth a small fortune, he’d looted from a Zzuki chieftain. “The lizard-men make their armor not out of the hides of ostriches or hogs,” he’d whisper, forcing you to lean in, “but out of the hides of other Gezitziz they killed. And their swords are carved from the thigh bones of their fallen foes.”
A chill always passed through the young boy as he pictured Gezitziz warriors wearing bloody, scaly hides and wielding gleaming, fresh-carved swords.
“One Zzuki,” Jondheth would continue, more heat growing in his voice, “could best any Vionese in single combat. But that was their weakness. They always fought alone, whereas us marines were trained to fight together so we could overwhelm them.”
Ary couldn’t wait to enlist at seventeen.
“Relent, you mangy sow,” Ary snarled.
Vel stumbled back from his quick rain of blows. In Ary’s mind, he pictured Vel as a white-skinned Agerzak pirate, dressed in stinking furs and wielding the legendary metal greatswords the barbarians favored.
“Agerzak pirates never yield!” Vel boasted, recovering and counterattacking.
Weapons met, locked together for a heartbeat, then Ary’s stick slid down Vel’s and struck his friend’s exposed fingers. With a yelp of pain, Vel dropped his weapon. Ary, quick to take advantage, swung for his friend’s exposed neck.
“Yield!” Ary stopped his weapon a fingerswidth from Vel’s neck. Eyes brimming with tears, he nodded. Ary whooped in joy as Vel sucked his finger.
Chaylene rushed down the stairs from the ruined landing, passing Vel, and threw her slim arms around Ary’s neck. “My hero,” she said in a breathless gush, then kissed him on the cheek, leaving behind the burning impression of her lips.
Ary touched where she’d kissed him, dazed worse than taking a punch to the face.
Vel scowled, still nursing his hurt finger. “You look like a poleaxed ostrich.”
“Shut up,” Ary said, furrowing his eyebrows. He glanced at Chaylene, a large smile on her lips, childish joy transforming into a woman’s delight.
“Why do we always have to play this game?” demanded Vel. “You always win and save Chaylene. And when you’re the pirate, you still win. S’not fair.”
“You’re just jealous that she kissed me.” Ary’s grin spread wide. He felt a true hero. “With your pig’s face, who could blame her?”
“Brelyn says I have a handsome face!”
Ary shrugged. Most girls giggled and whispered about Vel’s handsome features, but Ary couldn’t resist his teasing. “Well, she is cross-eyed. Probably can’t tell a handsome face from an ugly one.”
“Don’t listen to Ary,” Chaylene told, patting Vel’s head. “Your face isn’t all ugly. Only half.”
“Thanks, Chaylene,” Vel muttered. “You’re a big help.”
Her grin broadened. “That’s me. Always helpful. So, is it my turn to be the marine?”
“You can’t be the marine,” Ary protested. “Who’ll play the damsel?”
Chaylene gave both boys a considering look, pursing her thin lips. “How about you, Ary? Since you’re more handsome than Vel.”
Vel nodded quickly. “Makes sense to me. Ary would make a great damsel.”
“You just want me to be the damsel so you’ll win.” Ary rubbed his hand through his short tangle of blond hair. “Besides, I’m a guy. I can’t be the damsel.”
Chaylene fixed her gray eyes on Ary, lips pouting. “Please? You two always make me play the damsel, and it’s booooring.”
Suspicion grew in Ary’s mind. “Is that why you kissed me?”
Her pout turned to a mischievous grin that somehow promised more kisses to come. His heart quickened while his cheek burned anew. “Okay.” He sighed and handed her his stick. “I’ll do it.”
Chaylene retreated down the stairs, holding her stick in one hand and lifting the skirt of her faded-brown dress with the other. Ary caught a flash of her black stocking, and discovered his face could flush even more. He backed up against the half-crumbled wall and muttered, “Oh, please save me.”
Chaylene glared at him. “Try not to be so excited.”
Ary cleared his throat and, in the girliest voice he could muster, squeaked, “Please save me!”
Vel laughed so hard he almost dropped his stick.
“Shut it,” Ary muttered.
Chaylene gave out a throaty yell, a fairly impressive war cry, and rushed up the stairs. She made it halfway before stumbling on her skirts. She caught herself on the crumbling wall then continued at a slower pace. She attacked, Vel parrying with ease.
“You’ll have to try harder,” laughed Vel. “Or I’ll keep the damsel.”
“Yes, please try harder. I’d rather die than be his.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll save you, Ary.” Chaylene giggled. A lock of her blonde hair fell free of her red hairband, gleaming almost white against her black neck. Lately, Ary found it fascinating to stare at Chaylene, noticing subtle changes in her figure. Interesting changes.
She gave another loud cry, her expression fierce as she dueled Vel, fueled by her hot, Vaarckthian blood. Everyone in Isfe said that about Chaylene’s ma. Is that what makes her ma a hussy? Ary set his thoughts to once again pondering what a—
A drumbeat sounded from the nearby Aldeyn Watch, a deep, thudding boom. Schools of field guppies, their scales flashing green, scurried into the open sky. To protect Vesche from the Stormriders, the Autonomy had built their own watchtower on a nearby hill. Clustered around that tower’s base were the barracks for the sailors and marines stationed at the Watch. Beyond, a dock jutted out from the skyland where the Intrepid, a corvette, moored.
Ary threw his gaze out to the eastern sky to spot what caused the alarm’s sounding. One beat meant an approaching ship.
A second beat thudded through the air.
“Pirates?” Ary whispered. Agerzak pirates never raided this far west.
A third beat.
A fourth beat.
A fifth beat.
Each one was louder than the last. A frantic cadence picked up as the drummer pounded faster and faster until it became an unrelenting, staccato rhythm. The day’s warmth vanished. Only one warning beat the drum so much.
“Stormriders,” Ary gasped, forming the sun by joining his thumb and little finger, warding evil.
“Th-that can’t be.” Vel swallowed as his brown cheeks paled. “Stormriders never attack Vesche.”
More drums picked up the beat in the distance, passing the alarm to the farmers and the village of Isfe.
“What do we do?” Vel gasped.
“The Xogrlys’ farm?” Chaylene said, her voice tight, squeaking. “It’s closest.”
“Should we . . . Should we tell the weathermaster?” Vel stared at Ary, beseeching. “I mean, it’s a storm. Maybe Master Xorlen can disrupt it.”
Ary swallowed, his heart pounding its own alarm. He struggled to think against the clammy fear squeezing his guts. Chaylene gasped as she stared east. A bulge arose in the swirling clouds of the Storm. The Cyclone. A hand took his; it was small, clammy.
“It’s not a natural storm,” Ary said, pushing against the chill clutching his flesh. “The Weathertower’s useless against it. The Intrepid will protect us. Has to protect us.”
His gaze snapped to the Watch. There, sailors scrambled to the Intrepid. They swarmed the naval vessel, casting off lines and readying ballistae. Red-coated marines, bone swords at their waists, lined the ship’s railings and aimed their thunderbusses. The sight of them rushing to defend the skyland heartened Ary, buttressing him against fear’s winds.
“This is the perfect place to watch!” Excitement surged through Ary. The Intrepid would sally forth and save the day, a story come to life.
Vel gaped at Ary like he had been kicked in the head by an ostrich. “We need to run!” Vel seized Ary’s arm. “Come on!”
He shook Vel’s hand off him. “This is my chance to see a battle.”
Chaylene, her eyes liquid, said, “Please, Briaris, we need to go. It’s not safe. It’s a Cyclone.”
Ary stared into her beseeching face, tears brimming around dark lashes. Fear and excitement warred in his stomach. But this was his chance to see the Autonomy Navy in action, to watch the marines fight the Stormriders. He couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
Ary let go of her hand. “I’m staying.”
“Are you stupid?” Vel asked.
“Maybe.” He shrugged. “Get Chaylene to safety.”
“Thunder-deaf idiot!” Vel grabbed Chaylene’s hand and yanked her to the stairs.
“You have to come with us. Please, Ary.”
Ary wrenched his gaze from Chaylene to the Intrepid. The wooden-hulled ship soared into the sky towards the rising Cyclone. A banner with a golden pegasus upon a field of red and blue flew from the top of the Intrepid’s mainmast. He couldn’t wait to defend his country, to be a Stormwall of the Autonomy.
A low howl filled the air. Ary gripped broken stone with excitement. The Cyclone charged forward, a black boar full of rage and anger. The two ballistae on the ship’s bow fired. Clay shots tumbled through the air and detonated. Fiery flashes illuminated the Stormriders within the maelstrom.
Ary whooped in excitement, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
The Cyclone snarled closer and closer. More explosions lit the maelstrom’s interior with angry fire. A vicious thrill surged through Ary. Every explosion killed more of the evil Stormriders, hungry clouds ripping apart flesh. They rode on ethereal beasts formed of dark storm clouds and possessed manes of lightning and eyes of crackling white. Flashing lightning reflected off breastplates and glinted off metal swords. Other Stormriders wielded small, curved bows, arrows sailing unhindered through the winds at the Intrepid. Marines and sailors ducked.
The Cyclone’s front loomed across the entire horizon. The Intrepid plowed into the swirling winds, surrounded by a bubble of calm projected by the ship’s windwarden, holding back the hungry clouds. Streaks of black and gray swept around the vessel, pressing in on it, a fragile shell in the grip of a vast, dark hand.
The Intrepid’s marines fired their thunderbusses. Lightning arced from their weapons. Thunder cracked. Sparks threw Stormriders sizzling from their mounts. Scout sharpshooters in the corvette’s rigging sent pressure bullets punching through metal armor while the sailors unleashed volleys of crossbow bolts. Arrows raked the Intrepid, their points burying into the white-cedar hull. Others struck home in the bodies of the sailors. A marine fell forward over the railing and tumbled through the Cyclone’s fierce winds.
Stormriders surrounded the Intrepid like sharks circling prey. Horror swallowed Ary’s excitement as he witnessed men dying. A Stormrider blown apart by a ballista shot, pieces of ragged meat flying across the sky then whipped away by the howling wind. A sailor’s head sent flying by a Stormrider’s flashing sword as he vaulted onto the ship’s deck. More Stormriders charged the Intrepid, warring through the explosions and volleys of lightning and crossbow bolts to board the ship.
The Cyclone hit the skyland and slammed into Ary’s tower.
The winds threw him off his feet. The ruined tower creaked and shook beneath him. He pulled himself upright, struggling to stand. His raised hand warded his face against the wind’s sting, eyes burning. Lightning struck the grass on the hillside, the black smoke whipped away by howling gusts. With a loud groan, a nearby chestnut tree snapped and crashed to the ground.
The swirling, black clouds half-cloaked the Intrepid. Lightning flashed on deck, the brilliant arcs reflecting upon metal armor and blades. The marines fought the demons on the deck. A Stormrider’s metal blade flashed and cut two down before a third grabbed a hold of his metal armor. Lightning exploded from the marine’s hands. The Stormrider fell limp to the deck. A second Stormrider cut his way through a group of sailors towards the bow where a windwarden worked. The windwarden drew his bone sabre and raised the blade to parry the Stormrider’s overhand blow. The metal sword sheared through bone and buried into the windwarden’s chest.
Ary cried out in horror as the Intrepid lurched to the right. A loud, splintering crack preceded the foremast snapping, falling across the starboard side of the ship, crushing a ballista before tumbling off into the Cyclone. Sailors and scout snipers, still tangled in the rigging, plummeted to their deaths. The Intrepid floundered. The remaining windwarden strained to keep the winds from sweeping away the corvette.
Ary’s stomach sank. If the Intrepid failed to reach the Cyclone’s Eye, nothing would stop the maelstrom from sweeping across Vesche. Everyone Ary knew would be killed: his ma and pa, his little brother Jhevon, his sisters Srias and Gretla, Vel and his family, and Chaylene and her ma. The Cyclone would sweep them all off into the Storm Below.
Just like the great Skyland of Swuopii and the Dawn Empire a thousand years ago.
But the Intrepid sailed on, fighting through winds and riders towards the glowing heart of the Cyclone—the Eye. Ary spotted it brightening the black clouds to gray. “Guide and protect the Intrepid,” Ary prayed, looking up to the Goddess Above. The clouds hid her fiery orb, but Ary knew she looked down upon them. “Let your feathery rays penetrate the Cyclone and shelter the Intrepid from the minions of your dark sister.”
Never had he prayed so hard, so desperately.
“Please, Riasruo!” he screamed into the winds, voice lost to the howling.
Ary’s skin tingled, the hairs on his body standing up. The Goddess answered his prayers. Her power coursed through him. He smiled. It would be all right. The Intrepid would win through to the Eye.
A lightning bolt hurtled down from the Cyclone. The air exploded white-hot around him.

About the Author 

J.M.D. Reid has been a long-time fan of Fantasy ever since he read The 
Hobbit way back in the fourth grade. His head has always been filled 
with fantastical tales, and he is eager to share the worlds dwelling in 
his dreams with you.

Reid is long-time resident of the Pacific Northwest in and around the 
City of Tacoma. The rainy, gloomy atmosphere of Western Washington, 
combined with the natural beauty of the evergreen forests and the 
looming Mount Rainier, provides the perfect climate to brew creative 
worlds and exciting stories!

When he's not writing, Reid enjoys playing video games, playing D&D and 
listening to amazing music.


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