Thursday, October 26, 2017
Spirits in the Water Tour and Giveaway!
Spirits in the Water
Elements of Untethered Realms Book 4
Genre: Fantasy Anthology
Catherine Stine, Gwen Gardner, Jeff Chapman, M. Pax, Angela Brown, River Fairchild, Simon Kewin, Christine Rains, Meradeth Houston, M. Gerrick, Cherie Reich
A haunted journey on a riverboat, water sprites borne of pennies, preternatural creatures, ancient serpents, and the Lady of the Lake lurk in dark waters. Raging storms and magical rainbow fountains. Water is spectacularly beautiful but also treacherous.
Spirits in the Water is an anthology of eleven magical tales by Untethered Realms, masters of fantasy & sci-fi. Take a haunted journey on a riverboat, meet water sprites borne of pennies, preternatural creatures, ancient serpents, and the Lady of the Lake who lurks in dark waters. Experience raging storms and magical rainbow fountains. Water is spectacularly beautiful but also treacherous. This is the last in the Elements series. Get them all!
Gwen Gardner gives us Shake, Rattle and Row.
Harlow Grayson has the chance to rid herself of a pesky ghost but she must first brave a haunted riverboat and recover a family heirloom. What she finds might be more than she can handle.
“This isn’t natural,” I whispered to Crystal.
“Welcome to my world,” said Crystal, hovering at my side.
Crystal Ball—her real name—used to be my annoying coworker before she got murdered. Now she was an annoying ghost. I unwillingly inherited her agony column—Ask Crystal Ball, if you can believe it—a pseudo- psychic hocus-pocus bunch of baloney. But worst of all was that Crystal’s ghost came as a nasty side effect of the job. My fate was sealed when I’d picked up and used her favorite pen. Somehow the pen allowed me to see the ghostly realms she saw. I’d never seen another era, though, until now. What business could Crystal possibly have with the 1920s, and more importantly, why involve me?
But I had bigger problems.
“You could have warned me.” I spoke into my digital voice recorder so it didn’t look as if I were talking to myself. That and the press pass around my neck should cover any awkwardness that might arise while speaking to my spectral sidekick.
“I told you it was formal, didn’t I?” She eyed my gown and then perused the room as if looking for someone. “Besides, what do you have to complain about? I’m the one stuck throughout eternity in skin tight pants.” She squirmed and tried to pull out a wedgie to no avail.
Jeff Chapman offers The Water Wight.
When a drowned girl changes her mind about suicide, Merliss and her associates face a fearsome, preternatural creature.
A human form erupted from the river with the force of a geyser. Arms clothed in froth wrapped the eel fisher before his wits recovered enough to raise his own arms. At the center of his back, the creature's limbs crossed and flowed together into a single watery rope. A blue-green wave molded itself to the fisher's chest and neck. He overbalanced, falling toward the river under the water creature's clinging weight. Merliss questioned why the man did not scream for help, and then she understood. A liquid head had fastened over the eel fisher's mouth. Fluid tendrils stuck out across the crown of the creature's head, and a white orb glowed through a slit where Merliss expected an eye. Her cattish aversion to water swelled her horror. A wave crashing against a rock spread more than enough of its dirty wetness, but a sentient wave that wrapped its wetness round its victim seeded nightmares.
The man splashed the surface, spraying water onto the bank and halfway across the stream. As swiftly as a rock sinks, his body disappeared. Waves rushed in to fill the void and collided where the eel fisher sank. Merliss inched backward, curiosity fighting with the instinct for flight. She had seen many creatures during her time, but never one so much akin to water itself.
Wings thrashed overhead. The raven left his branch, cawing a warning to all who could hear, near and far. Merliss's heart pounded at her throat. Crowlluk smelled it too, she thought. Death exuded a scent as peculiar as magic.
The current swept the eddies downstream. If not for the discarded eel traps and the lingering scents, which had settled over the stream, escaping the moor wind whistling over the hollow, Merliss might have doubted the attack had taken place. The old man must know of this, she thought, and quickly, before someone else dies.
M. Pax presents The Wallows.
Evernee Weems wants to escape this world in the worst way. Her daughter needs everything, the rent is being raised, Evernee's job barely pays minimum wage, and she has little hope for better. Inside a puddle is a different reality. She jumps in, happy to trade her problems for a life in which worries don't exist. Or do they?
Evernee studied the shallow depths and sighed. “It’d be cool if it was another world and I could go there.”
The puddle shimmered, and for a scant second she saw the faintest image of a man’s face. She bent over and peered closer. Her eyes blinked back. Two songbirds landed on the opposite side, thirstily pecking at the water. With the drought, how did a puddle form?
Shrugging, Evernee hopped on her bike. She rode to the other side of town to pick up her daughter and parked the bike a block away in a thick hedge. Her phone beeped, the alarm warning she was going to be late picking up Poppy. She jogged down the sidewalk and around the corner. A frowning Mrs. Drow stood at the gate holding Poppy’s hand. She was a tank of a woman with a lot of gray among the badly dyed auburn strands.
“You’ve got a better deal than most, Miss Weems. You know what time I close.”
Because the state paid for Poppy’s daycare, Mrs. Drow believed Evernee had something she didn’t deserve. Maybe she didn’t deserve anything, but Poppy did.
“Sorry, Mrs. Drow. I was at work. You know, earning a living.” She reached for her daughter.
Poppy clutched onto a bunny constructed from old socks and baby clothes. Evernee had sewn it herself. Poppy tore away from Mrs. Drow and, in doing so, ripped the arm off her rabbit. “You late, Mama.” Throwing the bits of bunny on the sidewalk, she marched down the street as if she was about to turn seventeen instead of four.
Angela Brown gives us Extraordinary.
Puberty hits Angelique like a gut punch and brings about a change, forcing an unexpected revelation about her past. All seems well until a vicious storm tears through her Texas community, and Angelique learns there are worse things than a little change.
River Fairchild presents You Can't Go Home Again.
A young woman, filled with regret about the past, goes on a journey and discovers more than she bargained for.
“Don’t look so glum, dear.” Clara leaned in closer, invading Alex’s space, and gave her a wink. “You have your whole future to look forward to. Wait till you’re my age for that sort of nonsense.”
She settled back into her own seat, soft gray curls bouncing with the gentle sway of the train as it negotiated a bend in the tracks. “Always look ahead, child. As my mother used to say, you can’t go back home again.”
“What?” The phrase struck Alex as odd, even sinister. “What does that mean?”
Clara put her knitting needles down in her lap and stared out at nothing with a dreamy smile on her face. “Mum had a saying for everything. It means you can’t go back and change the past. She used to say that nothing good ever came of worrying about what was already done and gone so you should only look forward and not repeat your mistakes.”
Changing the past…
Alex closed her eyes, ignoring the beauty of the countryside as her throat constricted. She’d give anything to undo the mistake she’d made five years ago—the mistake that allowed her younger sister to die. To stay with her that day at the lake—like she was supposed to—instead of getting into an argument and stalking off. If Alex had stayed, maybe she could have talked Liz out of sledding across the frozen lake on an overloaded sled.
Simon Kewin offers us The Waters, Dividing the Land.
Hyrn the horned god of the woodlands is learning the meaning of fear. Death magic blights the land, threatening everyone and everything. To save what he can from spreading corruption, he turns to the ancient river serpents, but they've grown old and distant and may not hear his call at all.
Christine Rains gives us Frozen.
A necromancer is on the frozen moon of Saturn where the dead do scream.
I woke in a tomb. No, a cell. Or rather, what was more like a storage closet. A single light shone over my head and seemed to illuminate the throbbing pain engulfing my face.
Raising a hand, I gingerly inspected my nose. It was swollen, but I could breathe. Someone had tended to it and set it with a squirt of bio-gel. It was not something I expected from scavengers. But if they weren’t scavengers, who were they?
I sat slowly, fighting past the dizziness and smacking my dry mouth as I tried to wet it. How long had I been out? Hours? A day? Even more so, how long would it take for anyone to realize I had gone missing? The Planetary Marshals were scarce this far out in the solar system. They might not concern themselves with a missing necromancer. Not many folks would.
My helmet and a small bucket sat by my feet. Someone had fitted me into my space suit. Had we left the colony? Carrying me across Enceladus’ slippery surface to wherever they were hiding would be a lot of work. It meant they might have a hover vessel which would get them around on the surface much easier.
The door opened with a squeak, and my attacker stood in its place. His black hair was shorn short accentuating the shadows around his eyes. His face was like a storm that wouldn’t end, battered with age and angry.
“You better be worth the trouble, Silaluk. If you don’t cooperate, I have no qualms about tossing you off the ship.”
Ship? I gripped the material of suit as I reached out with my other senses. Nothing. Emptiness. People might claim to have haunted ships, but it was their space-addled minds making them see things. Spirits didn’t exist in vacuums. They needed earth to cling to and water to move through.
I squeezed my eyes shut. Not scavengers. Pirates.
“I see you understand your situation now.” The bastard sounded pleased with himself. “I’m Captain Schrader. Call me whatever you want, but do as I say, and you’ll live through this. In fact, you could earn enough to buy yourself a something bigger than a box to live in.”
“What do you want from me?” My voice wasn’t quite my own. Schrader’s friend had done quite the number on my nose. Or maybe it was my resignation.
“I need you to do two things for me.” Schrader held up one finger. “Find a map.” He flipped up a second digit. “And help me get the goods.”
Simple words, but I highly doubted it would be as easy as it sounded. If it were, he wouldn’t need me. “So why do you need me?”
Schrader’s smirk tightened his whole face. “Because only a dead man knows the whereabouts of the map.”
Meradeth Houston presents The Flood.
Sometimes a flooded kitchen isn't the unluckiest thing to happen to you.
Catherine Stine offers Maizy of Bellagio.
April still searches for her mother who vanished nineteen years ago from the fountain at Hotel Bellagio in Vegas. Can Maizy, a water sprite who works the fountain's pink colors, begin to help the three generations of eccentric women tortured by this tragedy?
The moment Maizy was born, something pulled her up from the water. She opened her eyes to a sparkling of violet bubbles in the distance. On impulse, she spread her transparent wings and began to beat them, shaking off filmy threads of afterbirth. Spreading them wider, she thumped them against a sort of golden wall. She determined that she was encased in gossamer filament, a hollow, winding string with dimension. For a second she was terrified, until, as she continued to rise, an unseen yet calming voice whispered, “It goes to your wishmaker!
“Yes, wishmaker. Follow the string wherever it goes.”
Maizy negotiated instinctually, correcting her trajectory every time her pointy wings tapped against one side or the other of the translucent tunnel. The pressure against her body increased when she burst from the water’s surface into the night sky, and she gasped for her first breaths.
Through the string’s walls she saw stars, the treetops, and many, many humans moving in all directions. How odd she knew the names of things—cars, people, streetlights, signs that flashed off then on, and the glittering fountains. Looking down and seeing her birthplace far below gave Maizy a pang of bewilderment. She forgot momentarily what her mission was. Faltering, she almost popped a hole in the gossamer thread, but quickly pivoted, correcting her course.
The thread swooped her down to a bright yellow car with a sign on its roof. The vehicle sped along, and though Maizy felt dizzy, she navigated down in a dramatic arc and flew inside the window.
Abruptly, the thread ended and spit her onto a mishmash of paper cutouts atop a nest of purple fur. No, hair it was, and Maizy sank into it face first. Wriggling up, she climbed onto one of the scalloped headdress cutouts and held on tightly.
The creature below chattered away. Its voice rattled Maizy’s wing-bones. With no notice, the gigantic human raised its oversize hand to adjust the headdress and nearly knocked Maizy off. Maizy clung on ferociously, and finally the human—a girl a thousand fold bigger than Maizy—lowered her ham-fisted paw.
Maizy could hear the rapid beat of the girl’s heart. Ping, ping, ping, ping. She followed the girl’s gaze from sight to sight as she stared out the window. Maizy strained to fathom what the girl’s wish was amidst her apparent mental agitation.
As Maizy foraged deeper, her own heart clenched. Or was it sympathetic pain with the girl—no, April? These names, these answers to questions floated in like airborne gifts. Maizy heard another whisper, but this time it wasn’t calm. There was a plaintive cry to it.
Elle, April called, Mom.
M. Gerrick gives us The One Who Would Wield the Sword.
Nikka is supposed to be nothing more than dragon bait so a real dragon hunter can do his job, but the Lady in the Lake has other plans for her.
Cherie Reich presents The Folding Point.
Aimee's fight against those who banned paper magics has begun.
She was heading toward her bedroom when a fluttering sound drew her attention toward her brother’s room. His window was cracked open, and a paper bird launched from the sill and flew toward her. Did her brother create the bird? As far as she knew, her dad had gathered up the last of the paper in the house and burned it after Mom’s arrest. She held out her palm.
The bird landed and fluffed its delicately folded feathers. Its beak opened, and it spat a crumbled ball of paper into her hand. Then it flew off and perched upon Xavier’s desk lamp.
What the holy folds was this about? She unfurled the ball of paper and smoothed out the wrinkles. Midnight at Cityside Park. The scrawl sent her brow furrowing.
“What are you doing in my room?” Xavier snatched her wrist as she closed her fingers around the piece of paper.
“I saw a paper bird flying around.” She jutted her chin toward the creature.
“Open your hand.” His gaze drew to her fist, and his fingers dug into her flesh. “Come on, Aimee. It’s for me.”
“What is it about?” She opened her hand, the paper in the center of her palm.
“Nothing important.” He snatched the note and released her. “Go to your room and do your homework.”
“I don’t have any,” she lied.
“Well, go read or something.” He shooed her off and stepped farther into his room. His hand rested upon the door. “Go on.”
She huffed and backed up.
He slammed the door and locked it.
What had him so rattled? She shook her head. Whatever it was, she would find out.
From USA Today, Amazon bestselling, and popular science fiction and fantasy authors comes Spirits in the Water, a supernatural anthology of eleven thrilling tales. Spirits in the Water is the fourth, long-awaited Elements story collection from the dynamic and inventive Untethered Realms group.
Elements of Untethered Realms series
Twisted Earths - October 2014
Mayhem in the Air - October 2015
Ghosts of Fire - October 2016
Spirits in the Water - October 2017
Untethered Realms is celebrating the release of Spirits in the Water, book 4 and the last in their Elements series! As part of this celebration, book 1, Twisted Earths goes FREE!
Angela Brown is a lover of Wild Cherry Pepsi and chocolate/chocolate covered deliciousness. Steampunk, fantasy, and paranormal to contemporary fill her growing library of books. Mother to a rambunctious darling girl aptly nicknamed Chipmunk, life stays busy. Angela’s favorite quote keeps her moving: “You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi. Find out more at publishness.blogspot.com.
Jeff Chapman writes software by day and speculative fiction when he should be sleeping. Many cups of dark hot chocolate power his nighttime imagination. His tales range from fantasy to horror, and they don’t all end badly. He lives with his wife, children, and cats in a house with more books than bookshelf space. Learn more at www.jeffchapmanbooks.com.
River Fairchild is somewhat odd, brandishes a dry sense of humor, and is owned by several cats. Lives in a fantasy world. A fabricator of magic. Makes stuff up and spins tales about it. Believes in Faerie crossings and never staying in one place for very long. Speculative Fiction wordsmith. The secret to her stories? Spread lies, blend in truths, add a pinch of snark and a dash of tears. Escape into her world. She left the porch light on so you can find your way down the rabbit hole.
Gwen Gardner writes clean, cozy and quirky mysteries and don’t be surprised if you meet a few ghosties along the way.
Since ghosts feature prominently in her books, she has a secret desire to meet one face to face—but will run screaming for the hills if she ever does. Gwen adores travel and experiencing the cultures and foods of different countries. She is always up for an adventure and anything involving chocolate, not necessarily in that order. For more about her books go to www.gwengardner.com.
M. Gerrick is the author of The War of Six Crowns and a variety of other stories (as Misha Gerrick). She was born and raised in South Africa, and currently lives on an apple farm with a small menagerie of animals. You can find her at www.youtube.com/channel/UCFRZK0eX_vgzbF7jM91N8DA.
Meradeth Houston likes to write about the real world, just with a big twist—maybe people can time travel or fly or aliens are real. It makes things a little more interesting. She is an anthropology professor by day, spending hours in a lab studying dead people’s DNA. Currently, she resides in Montana, where she wishes a beach were just a little closer. You can find more about her recent adventures here: meradethhouston.com.
Simon Kewin was born and raised on the misty Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea, but he now lives in the English countryside with his wife and their daughters. He is the author of over a hundred published short stories, and his works have appeared in Analog, Nature, Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, and many more. His cyberpunk novel The Genehunter and his Cloven Land fantasy trilogy were published not so long ago, and his clockpunky novel Engn is to be published by Curiosity Quills Press in 2018. Find him at simonkewin.co.uk.
M. Pax is author of the space opera adventure series, The Backworlds, and the urban fantasy series, The Rifters. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her. She blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide and enjoys exploring the quirky corners of Oregon with her husband. Find out more at mpaxauthor.com.
Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees, which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s playing games with friends or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She has one novel and several novellas and short stories published. Find out more at christinerains.net.
Cherie Reich owns more books than she can ever read and thinks up more ideas than she can ever write, but that doesn’t stop this bookworm from trying to complete her goals, even if it means curbing her TV addiction. A library assistant living in Virginia, she writes speculative fiction. Her books include the paranormal horror collection Once upon a Nightmare, the fantasy short story collection People of Foxwick and Their Neighbors, and the fantasy series The Fate Challenges. For more information about her books, visit smarturl.it/CReichWebsite.
Catherine Stine is a USA Today bestselling author, whose novels span the range from futuristic to supernatural to contemporary. She thinks of writing as painting with words and as conjuring magic from the ether. Catherine hails from Philadelphia and lives in NYC. Find out more at www.catherinestine.com.
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