Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Available Now: Call of the Morrigu by Christy Nicholas

Christy Nicholas


(99c/99p through 23 July)
Life isn't easy in 1798 Ireland. Rebellions are rising across the countryside, and the English can be cruel overlords. However, this brutality hasn’t reached the country estate of Strokestown.

Theodosia Latimer and her grandfather Reginald are on a mission to discover the past. They're determined to excavate some ancient mounds on the Strokestown estate. But when they discover an imprisoned goddess straight out of Ireland’s rich mythological history, they're both amazed and frightened.

Tasked with integrating this primeval warrior woman into polite society, they develop both respect and fear for the powerful goddess. Will they be able to tame her lust for violence in the upcoming rebellion? Or will they fall victim to it?

• • •

October 31, 1796
Rathcrogan, County Roscommon, Ireland

Finn the Tinker walked along the path on the black night while thick clouds obscured the sickle moon. He stumbled as the velvet blanket of gloom hid rocks and branches upon the ground along the unfamiliar path. Wind howled through the crags and cliffs and he hurried his steps, wiping blown leaves from his face. He shouldn’t be caught outside this night.

For All Hallow’s Eve, or Samhain, was a time of magic and Fae, a night of hauntings and fear. But he had no choice now.

No glow from starlight helped him. Finn had just finished a fruitless mission to the Big House to peddle his wares that evening and he wanted to return to his wife and children in Tulsk.

The wailing wind increased as he approached Oweynagat, the Cave of the Cats. He avoided the place this time of the year, but he was in a hurry to make it to high ground before the storm struck. Legends told of strange creatures coming from the mouth of the cave, magical creatures of the Otherworld. Finn’s own grandmother had told him the tales. Cats, ravens, sometimes bats swarmed from the cave and chased a hapless traveler. Stories told of people, found mad or wounded.

A traveler such as himself.

The wind halted. He looked around, suspicious of the silence.

Red eyes blinked at him from the darkness.

Finn backed away from the glowing crimson points near the cave. The wind howled again, and the creatures fluttered and screeched.

They were getting closer.

An amorphous shape formed in the darkness and he froze. The wings touched his face and arms. With a soundless cry, he dropped his packs and ran back the way he had come.

Over rock walls and burns he ran in fear. With no light to aid his headlong flight over the treacherous path, he fell. He ripped his pants and skinned his knee, but he paid these minor annoyances little heed before he stumbled to his feet again. The terrified tinker didn’t dare glance back at the daemons that chased him, but made the sign of the cross as he pelted across the fields.

Several lights twinkled in the distance. That must be the Big House, Strokestown. If he could just reach that haven…

As he splashed through the muddy river, his worn boots slid into the muck at the bottom and became mired. Finn jerked his feet out and tried to scramble up the far bank, but got stuck again. The wind died once more.

A terrified glance over his shoulder confirmed that the red glowing eyes were hovering, waiting for...what?

A scream ripped through the night, shattering the silence. The wind picked up again as the cry died in a strangled gurgle.

The next morning, they found Finn’s body by the river. His kin barely recognized his face. Thousands of tiny cuts had bled out into the sticky earth.

• • •

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she's a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were. She loves to draw and to create things. She says it's more of an obsession than a hobby. She likes looking up into the sky and seeing a beautiful sunset, or seeing a fragrant blossom or a dramatic seaside. She takes a picture or creates a piece of jewelry as her way of sharing this serenity, this joy, this beauty with others. Sometimes this sharing requires explanation – and thus she writes. Combine this love of beauty with a bit of financial sense and you get an art business. She does local art and craft shows, as well as sending her art to various science fiction conventions throughout the country and abroad.

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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Available Now: The Body at Ballytierney by Noreen Wainwright

Ballytierney Mysteries, #1
Noreen Wainwright


(99c/99p through 9 July)
When Simon Crowe’s body is discovered at Ballytierney, old secrets threaten to destroy the lives of the townspeople. Inspector Ben Cronin is coasting towards retirement, so the last thing he needs is a case that threatens to expose the town's dark underbelly.

Maggie Cahill, a priest’s housekeeper, is at a crossroads in her personal life when she receives a letter out of the blue from someone in her distant past. Her peace of mind and her livelihood are at risk as she seeks the truth of what happened to Simon Crowe, and why someone knows secrets she thought she'd buried long ago.

By the end of the investigation, will both Maggie’s and Cronin’s lives will be changed forever? And will Ballytierney ever be the same?

• • •

In the kitchen, she smoked a Gold Flake and drank a cup of tea. About a half-a-hour they’d be finished the main course, what with the chatter and the sipping of the wine—the best claret from the wine merchant in Cork.

Sometimes, living in a small town made you really happy. There was such a feeling of security in it. It wasn’t big-headed, but she knew she was well-respected and generally well-liked, and the two didn’t always go together. But, there were times when Ballytierney would make you want to run away. Want to go as far as you could get, from the nosiness and the narrowness and the hardened ignorance you saw sometimes the kind where the person was so ignorant they didn’t even have the least inkling of it, and they were accepted or at least tolerated too, in the town.

Maggie would think then of London or Dublin or any of those big anonymous places, where there could even be a solace in the loneliness. If you put one of the ignoramuses of Ballytierney, or any other small rural town in there, well you had to wonder if they would even survive a week.

The telephone rang, its urgent sound making her start, stub out her cigarette and stand up, all so quickly, that she felt dizzy for a second, and had to slow herself down.

Duty was duty, though, and it was hers to answer the telephone unless one of the priests picked it up first, in which case, she would be expected to fade back into the scenery. Well, none of them would pick it up now. They were all occupied in the dining room.

Maggie’s heart took uncomfortable leaps around her chest when she heard the gasping and crying tones on the other end of the phone. It wasn’t the first time someone had rang the parish house, in dire straits, not by a long chalk, but maybe it was because her own nerves were all on edge tonight, that Maggie actually sat down on the hall chair.

She needed to take a grip of herself. This wasn’t going to get them anywhere.

“What is it, my dear?” She made her voice calm, concerned, flattened the worry out of it.”

“He’s dead, laid there…dreadful, dreadful…oh, God.”

The voice rose, and you could hear the hysteria just about to take over.

“Can you tell me who you are?” Keep it simple. That was the best.

“Mary, Mary…oh, I’m sorry…I’m in such a state, oh, oh,”

There was silence and tension tugged at Maggie’s throat. She was gripping the telephone receiver so tight that it was making her hand go into a cramp. She made her fingers loosen.

“Mary who?”

There came a loud sigh.

“I’m sorry. I’m better now. It’s Crowe. Mrs. Crowe.”

They lived in that big place, Inishowen House, and the woman was rarely seen out around the town. He was a bit of a mystery, rarely seen and reportedly in bad health. Young Father Tom went out and visited him.

“Father Lally came out earlier didn’t he, anointed your husband, I think?”

It was taking a bit of a chance; overstepping the mark even but she needed to calm the woman and remind her that her husband’s death wasn’t a surprise. Or was that being harsh? It was well known that death, even when expected, came as an awful shock.

“No, you don’t understand Miss Cahill. My husband didn’t die of natural causes. Not at all…” The ragged sobbing started again. What on earth did the woman mean? Not die of natural causes? Wasn’t she just suffering some sort of shock, surely? The best thing might be to get one of the priests. The canon definitely wouldn’t thank her for this, but she was out of her depth. Maybe Father Timothy or even young Father Tom…

“You don’t understand, Miss Cahill. He’s been hit. On the head, blood everywhere. Someone came in here, with an iron bar and beat a dying man to death.

• • •

Noreen is Irish and now lives in the Staffordshire Moorlands with her husband, a dairy farmer. She works part-time as a mentor at Staffordshire University and the rest of her time is spent writing. Many of her articles and short stories have been published and she has co-written a non-fiction book.

She loves crime fiction, particularly that of the “golden age” and that is what she wants to recreate with Edith Horton’s world.

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