The fifth installment in the Black Swan serial saga. READING IN ORDER STRONGLY RECOMMENDED. That’s why we have a try-before-you-buy-program. The first book in the saga, My Familiar Stranger, is PermaFREE everywhere.
THE NEWSLETTER: Z Team, a.k.a Zed Company, is transferred to Jefferson Unit, which is being temporarily retired as an active hunter facility and converted to a research / training institution. Sol takes his first vacation – ever – leaving Glen in charge with Storm supervising. Rosie is proving to be an extraordinary little girl and Deliverance is in BIG trouble with her mother.
THE SURPRISES: Storm is really not himself. Former members of B Team must reunite to preserve his image and reputation. No one could have prepared for the surprises Rosie delivers.
THE ADVENTURE: The Ralengclan send a second wave assassination team to Jefferson Unit at the worst possible time, when it’s been left defended by only Z Team, Glen, the Lady Laiken and the trainees.
~ Bewitching BT
Glendennon Catch caught the eye of the bartender who simply pointed toward a back corner. He couldn’t see what the man pointed to, but he nodded and began making his way toward the rear.
He wound through a few layers of standing people who were holding glass mugs and talking loudly to be heard over the music, until he could see a corner snug in the back. It was close to a window so there was enough light to see, even with the smoke, that the bartender had been right in surmising that he was looking for Z Team.
There they were – the farthest thing from inconspicuous. Glen couldn’t begin to guess how they had managed to be successful vampire slayers when everything about them drew attention and broadcasted vibes of this-is-your-last-chance-to-run. It was a message that floated around them like a diaphanous cloud of warning.
The four of them fit comfortably in a snug designed for eight. That was partly because of their sheer size and partly because they had a casual way of draping arms and legs so that they took up as much space as possible. It also communicated disdain for established notions of propriety. Glen knew instinctively that even the word “propriety” would make Black Swan’s infamous misfits laugh out loud.
One of them was wearing a sleeveless shirt that had once been a denim jacket. His left arm had been transformed into a tattooed sleeve by an intricately inked mural of muted colors. It was odd to see bare biceps when it was brittle-dick cold outside, but Glen supposed that if he’d made that much of an investment in ink he might want to show it off too.
Glen’s initial impression of the guy sitting next to Sleeve was that he should have the nickname, Dark, or Black. He wore black jeans, a black metal band shirt that was probably a collectable, and his spiky hair was so blue black it had to have been dyed that color. All that with eyes so pale he could almost get away with going undercover as a vamp. He wasn’t wearing eyeliner, but the contrast between his ice-color irises and those thick ebony lashes made his eyes pop in a dramatic way that probably drew interest from a lot of babes. The Black Knight. Glen smiled a little to himself. He enjoyed his own company and his own offbeat sense of humor.
The third wore a plain gray long sleeve tee that covered his upper body, but Glen could see black ink climbing out of the neck of the guy’s shirt, stopping just below his pronounced jaw line. Either tribal pattern or angel glyph. Hard to tell with just snake tails in view. He had a serious case of bed head going, probably by design, and one eyebrow that was raised and had been since he’d noticed Glen standing there watching them.
He said something to the others. Then the fourth, the one facing away with one long arm draped over the back of the snug, turned to look at Glen, revealing elfin ears. Those ears were outlined by light brown hair with titian streaks. Same curl as Sir Hawking. Had to be Torrent Finngarick.
They looked exactly the way Glen had expected them to look. Hard. Tough. And like they belonged together. He was thinking, So they’re Black Swan knights with a little bit of a nasty reputation. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like me. Right?
It was an inadequate internal pep talk, but he just wasn’t feeling it. He decided to go with Plan A, which was taking life straight ahead, one step at a time. Glen had a reputation of his own for being easy going, but he made an exception for passive aggressive nonsense. He didn’t like it, didn’t like people who habitually avoided the front door, and didn’t mind letting his irritation with bullshit bubble over.
Plan A meant walking straight up to them, stating his business, hoping for the best, but being prepared for the worst. That was the thought bouncing around in his mind as he observed their reactions to seeing him approach the table.
When he was standing over them, he looked around the table and said, “I’m Glendennon Catch.” Then he zeroed in on Torn. “Sorry for your loss, Sir Finngarick.” He said “sir” quietly enough so that only they heard him, but they got the message. It was as good as a secret handshake. “The office sent me with a message from the HR department.”
They left him standing there for a minute without saying anything or changing expression. It was a thinly disguised intimidation strategy to get him to reveal nervousness, timidity, or some other weakness that would register as a flaw in their eyes. That sort of thing didn’t work on somebody who had inherited the dominant werewolf gene. He could stand there all day without flinching or looking away.
Finally, the big guy with the glyphs crawling up his neck grinned, showing dimples which seemed entirely out of place against the persona he’d so carefully crafted. “So go ahead and deliver your memo, Sweet Cheeks. We’re waiting.”
The other three chuckled softly without taking their eyes off of him. Glen laughed openly and good-naturedly, but let the sound trail off ending in a low level growl, incongruent with the smile on his face. The growl wasn’t loud enough to draw attention from the wake-goers, but it was definitely heard by Z Team. They all sat up a little straighter and took another look at the kid. He had their interest, but that was worlds away from respect.
Looking at Glyphs, he said, “My briefing didn’t mention that any of you are hard of hearing. If you want to call me by a name, it’s Glen.”
Finngarick’s blue eyes twinkled in a way that brought Ram to mind while the other two laughed at Glyphs being put down by a kid who was years away from growing into his big frame.
“Long way to deliver a message. Would you no’ have a pint with us then? Glen.” He reached out with a long leg, put the toe of his scuffed boot through the leg brace of an unoccupied chair, pulled it up to the snug, and made a gesture of invitation. “You’ll find we’re no’ much on formality. Call me Torn.”
Glen nodded then looked at the others. Torn pointed at the guy with the sleeves and said, “This is Gunnar. That’s Raif.” He raised his chin in the direction of ‘black knight’. “The fella with the questionable personality is Bob.”
“Gunnar. Raif, Torn, And Bob. No way.”
Finngarick’s eyes twinkled with that special elvish sparkle. “Aye. Make no mistake. Name’s Bob.”
Glen shook his head. “Let’s rename him.”
Finngarick looked at Bob and then back at Glen. “What we have here gentlemen is a cool, gloomy Irish day with no place to go and no’ a thin’ to do, but have another pint. So I say we’ll play that game. What would you call the man if it was up to you, young emissary?” Glen shrugged. “Come now. No ideas?”
“Well, yeah, I sort of named him in my head on the walk across the bar.”
“Pub,” Torn corrected.
“Yes. Pub. Sorry.”
Bob raised both brows. “I, for one, cannot wait to hear what you named me in your head on your walk across the… pub.”
Glen looked at him with speculation trying to decide whether or not to tell the truth. “Glyphs.”
While Bob studied Glen, his three teammates studied Bob in turn, like they were trying it on for size. Bob lowered his eyebrows and rolled his big shoulders in approval.
Finally Torn nodded as if to say he’d reached a conclusion. “Right you are. Now that you point it out, I can see he’s no’ a Bob. Glyphs suits him fine. Congratulations, trainee. You just named yourself a knight.”
Torn Finngarick called for a Guinness Extra Stout to be served to Glen, who wasn’t used to alcohol at all and certainly wasn’t ready for Irish black beer. He took a manly mouthful, thinking he had arrived, and promptly spewed it all over Torn in a spectacular demonstration of human fountain power. The other three members of Z Team laughed so hard they had to wipe tears.
“That was almost as funny as the night that Chokarzi stripper puked half a gallon of half-digested Cuervo in your face in the middle of a lap dance.”
Glen borrowed a wet bar towel and offered it to Finngarick with a blush. “I’d offer to clean you up, but your file says you prefer to get personal with women.”
Torn took the towel without a word, but with a glint of amusement in his eyes. When he was as clean as was possible without a shower and fresh clothes, he handed the towel to Glen. “Go get yourself somethin’ else. Drinks are on me. Milk maybe?” he teased.
When Glen returned with a mug of root beer, no one asked him what was in the glass. Torn simply motioned to the chair. Glen sat.
“You’re needed at Jefferson Unit. You’re to accompany me to Fort Dixon after the funeral. Your things are being gathered and moved as we speak.”
As Glen looked from one to another, he saw no discernible reaction. They were a cool bunch. He’d give them that.
Glyphs shrugged. “New York’s no worse than any other place. Maybe better than some.”
Finngarick looked at Glen like he was a lab specimen on a microscopic slide. “Would you be happenin’ to know why we’re needed so urgently?”
Glen thought about it for a minute and decided there was no reason to withhold the truth. “Yes.”
A ghost of a smile seemed to cross Finngarick’s handsome elven face. “And would you be sharin’ with us then?”
Torn glanced at his teammates as if the four could communicate telepathically. “See. The thin’ is, we’re accustomed to hearin’ The Order needs to sweep us further under the rug. No’ brin’ us into the light. We would no’ be the least surprised if you came to say we’re bein’ transferred to Antarctica. But this? Naturally we’re curious, you understand.”
“Of course I understand. But I’m not at liberty to say.”
Torn nodded thoughtfully. “Well, then. Might you be at liberty to say why you were sent to escort us?”
It took Glen less than a second to process whether it might be problematic to divulge that information. “The Jefferson Unit sovereign is retiring. I’m being given a try-out for his job. He sent me to get you.” Z Team stared at Glen as if they were waiting for the punch line. Finally, he said, “No. Really.”
Gunnar cleared his throat. “So. You’re saying that, at some point, we might be calling you boss?”
Glen responded with a shit-eating grin so big, it begged for comeuppance. Gunnar swept his gaze around the snug before it came to light on Glen with a chilling mix of challenge, mischief and amusement.
Torn leaned forward. “Seems we have limited time for the application of a right proper hazin’ then. Glen.”
Four sets of eyes darted to the movement in Glen’s throat when he swallowed.
If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
What would you say inspired you to write it?
The saga is based on the idea of multiple realities existing within the same physical space, but unknown to each other because of variants in vibration. This is an idea that is becoming more science and less science fiction all the time. The premise of the saga is that there are multiple versions of ourselves existing simultaneously in these other dimensions that are similar but not identical to our own, alternate, not parallel.
I was toying with the idea of being psychically connected to these other versions of ourselves in dreams. I have dreams in which I find myself in an unknown environment, interacting with people I have never seen, yet the dream has the distinct quality of feeling real. I began to wonder if I’m experiencing a glimpse of the lives of some of the other versions of me.
What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist?
The search for the ideal fantasy man. In my books struggle and conflict is usually more internal than external.
Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it?
KNOCK ON WOOD, no.
Your all time favorite book?
Memnoch the Devil, Anne Rice
What made you pick that one above all others?
She tread at theological and philosophical depths seldom seen in fiction.
What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project?
Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way?
Not at all.
Was there ever a time, during your work for the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind?
No. KNOCK ON WOOD, writing comes fairly easy once I find time to put the bum in a chair.
What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing?
Illustrations for Seasons of the Witch, family business, band management and, since I’m Indie, endless marketing chores.
How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect?
I’m so glad you asked that question. In the beginning the old timers told me to never comment on a review, as in Amazon. When I began seeing outright lies and misinformation passed off as reviews, my hackles rose and I refused to believe that the best course of action was to say nothing. Example. I recently heard another author talk about a review that said, “It would have been okay except that the badger was killed off in Chapter 2.” The author said there was no badger, that he’d never written about badgers and never planned to write about badgers. It’s unbelievably hard not to comment on a review like that and say, “There was no badger. Are you sure you read THIS book?”
In the end I found out that it’s a stacked deck. There is a troll patrol that goes around looking for responses to negative reviews so that they can pile on in unbelievably scary and personal ways. I finally understood what the more experienced authors had been telling me – that it’s not worth the time or energy. And you can’t win.
So I went through and deleted every comment I’d ever posted. You would think that would be the end of it, but it just fanned the flames and made the trolls feel more relevant. Then they started commenting on good reviews about what a horrible person I am, how I abuse and attack my readers, etc. etc.
The moral of the story is this. Welcome negativity. Any degree of success always brings out the haters. It just means you’ve arrived.
Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series?
Yes. The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga about a young woman who was forced into an experimental device that carried her, against her will, to another dimension similar, but not identical, to her own. She adopts, and is adopted by, a new familial network employed directly or indirectly by an ancient secret society of vampire hunters and paranormal investigators. Her new family includes modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, demons, angels, witches and psychics.
Gathering Storm is the fifth installment in The Order of the Black Swan serial saga. Because it’s part of an ongoing story (that doesn’t mean cliffhangers – hate them), reading in order is highly recommended. Among other things, it deals with questions of destiny. Do you believe in it? Do you think it’s predetermined?
What’s up next is Book #6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms, will release on December 8th and is THE one many of the Black Swan readers have been begging for. The fae and elves of Loti Dimension have been at war for two thousand years even though the current environment is more “cold” war. The Lady Laiken, as an outsider, has undertaken a search for answers as to what started it all. The saga returns to pure romance as we follow the quest of fated lovers, progeny of the two royal houses, for a happy ever after.
What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series?
Black Swan has at least four more books. After that I may be interested in writing a rock romance. Since I was still playing in a Classic Rock band until recently, I have some inside experience.
What made you decide to go the self-pub way?
I owned a small publishing company so it was painless to branch out to include my own fiction.
What would you say was the toughest part?
The toughest part was all the marketing chores. I now have two assistants who handle most of that for me, so it’s getting easier.
Did you hire professionals for editing, cover design, formatting?
Those were skills I had already acquired during the years that I was growing my New Age publishing house. I do all that myself.
How long did the production part take, from the moment you began working on the manuscript to self-pub to when you hit ‘Publish’?
Where is your work being distributed? Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo, Sony. How did you decide which one(s) to go with?
Amazon is a no brainer. It’s 80% of everybody’s sales, followed by B&N, then Apple.
If you could turn back in time and do things differently, would you? What would you change?
I wouldn’t change anything about my fiction career, but I would punch every woman who has ever come on to my husband right in front of me if I had it to do over.
If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for?
If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you?
Name your favorite fruit.
Coffee or tea?
How about fav time of 24 hours?
Were you a boyscout/girlscout? Girlscout.
This is the first time I ever thought about attempting to get into boyscouts. Wish I had.
Favorite food for breakfast?
Bagels, ham, cream cheese. Have it once every two years.
Latest book you’ve bought and read?
Sweet Dreams, Kristen Ashley
Do you collect things, like stamps, or key chains, or shoes?
Favorite color, you know you want to tell us!
Drama or comedy?
Have a fav quote or personal motto?
Yes. It’s my email signature. “It’s better to burn out, than fade away.” – Def Leppard, “Rock of Ages”, Pyromania
Cats or dogs?
Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing?
About the Author & Links:
I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of scifi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.
My first book, My Familiar Stranger, was nominated for Best Paranormal Romance of 2012 by the Reviewers’ Choice and Readers’ Choice Awards. Each of my books has remained on the Amazon best seller list in category every day since release. All four also earned the Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK award and have remained on the Amazon Best Sellers list every day since release.
My work has been compared to J R Ward, Karen Marie Moning, Sherrilyn Kenyon, and Lara Adrian. For example:
“I do see shades of Lara Adrian’s Breed books and shades of J R Wards Black Dagger books, but this story is unique enough that it stands out all on its own and can stand up along side those other books and I think given time will elbow them out of the way with the rich story telling and deep emotional core that makes you want to know more.” – Kerry, Musings of a Bookworm
The Order of the Black Swan is a series that is also a serial saga. Each book is an episodic installment in an ongoing story. Join me for the adventure.
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