Poison and Honey: Buy Today!

PURCHASE TODAY!*

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Keep your head down. Try not to get cursed. And whatever you do, stay away from the sly, handsome prince.

Ever since an unearthly monster abducted her sister, Leigh Morgan has known about magic. It’s why she’s in Otherworld now, posing as a servant in its dark, decadent palace. She’s gathering intelligence and working with a small band of allies to bring down the Others and free their human captives. Her mission depends on blending in, so the last thing she wants is to attract the attention of a cunning prince.

Dredarion Rath wants one thing: to disgrace his older brother and prove himself the worthier heir to the throne. And out of all the servants in the palace, he chooses Leigh to help him. Just her luck.

Now Leigh has to keep her work a secret from a bewitching man who sees right through her–and who’s not nearly as cold and inhuman as he seems. She can’t screw this up, or the humans forced into servitude will never go home. But juggling two conspiracies at once, it’s only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down, and the man she’s falling for has her executed for her betrayal…

Poison and Honey is an urban fantasy novella with a strong romantic subplot, perfect for fans of determined heroines, palace intrigue, and the fae. Download it today and venture into Otherworld—if you dare.

 

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Good for people who enjoy: strong female leads; tall, dark and handsome male lead; intense modern magic battle scenes; passionate but slow burn romance

Review: The Otherworld pulls in the reader as quickly and efficiently as it captures humans in the story.  If the strange but magnificent descriptions of the strange Others somehow does not pull you in, the witty but glacial lead, Leigh Moran, will.  An ex-convict with no other purpose in life than to avenge her kidnapped sister, Leigh finds her perfectly laid out plans ruined when she captures the interest of the second-born prince to the Otherworld kingdom of Dwencanti, Dredarion Rath.  Their pull to one another is somewhere between magnetic and explosive, or rather inevitable and deadly.  Knowing her growing affections could never end well due to her mission to free all human slaves and destroy the portals between the worlds, Leigh’s struggles only get worse when Dredarion requests her as his new handmaiden.  The forbidden romance makes you want to buy “Team Leighdarion” shirts, with you screaming at the cheering for the characters to get together, but also terrified of the pain both characters will feel when the truth of Leigh’s loyalties come to light.

To me, minor characters help create needed depth to stories, and the author does not disappoint.  There is Garrett Cohen, a tattoo-covered gay sniper and Leigh’s closest friend.  Zoe, a Black teenager with the innocence about her that manages to pull out Leigh’s protectiveness with her innocence.  And of course Rabsumorai Rath, better known as Prince Rab, the heir to Dwencanti throne and a happy, playful prince as his brother’s polar opposite.

Poison and Honey is a fantastic urban fantasy novella with diverse and dynamic characters that brings you into a beautifully lethally crafted world filled that leave you desperate to read more.

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*Please note that the link provided is an Amazon Associate link that will give J.E. Brand sales commission without taking away any profit from the author.

The Witch’s March: History Fact #6

Heinrich Himmler served Hitler as Nazi SS chief during World War II.  He was fascinated with the idea of occultic, dark magic.  Since the end of the war, his leading the Nazis towards these beliefs made for numerous books, films, and television shows.  The Witch’s March is no different… Urban legends still swirl around Himmler and his beliefs, and many of these stories and theories border on fantasy.  Despite Himmler being the most famous fanatic, there is actually a great deal of evidence that Hitler and his inner circle were very interested in mysticism and dark magic.

Himmler reportedly believed that the occult was the key to Aryan supremacy. As he grew in power and prominence within the German high command, his obsession with the mystic and arcane only increased more and more. He became fascinated by ancient history, but twisted it to fit his own needs and cause.

Not only was he interested in lost civilizations and distant ancestors – some of whom he tried to contact through seances – but he even started seeing his SS officers as a form of holy knights, similar to the Templar and Teutonic orders.

He was not alone in this, of course. Himmler was only one of many Nazi’s who collected books relating to matters of the occult. However, it is generally recognized that Himmler was particularly influenced by this movement. His beliefs influenced the way that he ran the SS and possibly are the reason for their extreme brutality during the war.

A 13,000-volume library – collected by Himmler – was found in a depot of the National Library of Czech Republic near Prague. The depot had not been accessed since the 1950’s.

Bjørn Helge, Norwegian Masonic researcher, told Verdens Gang (a Norwegian newspaper) that some of the books were seized from the Norwegian Order of Freemasons in Oslo during Nazi occupation of the country. Himmler had many occult books taken from countries occupied by the Germans.

Himmler founded the H Sonderkommando in 1935. The ‘H’ stood for ‘Hexe’ which is the German word for ‘witch.’ Their mission was to collect as much information as possible on sorcery, the occult and the supernatural.

In The Witch’s March series, we follow the brutality of Himmler through one of his (fictional) knights, Ehrhart König.  He sees the power of blood magic from our protagonist, and like any good villain, decides he wants it for himself.  For that very reason, though, blood magic isn’t what it’s often made out to be.  It’s a weapon that can be used by both sides – good and evil.  Magic is all about perception…

The Witch’s March: A Trilogy

“The more blood that is spilled, the more powerful she becomes… and there is plenty to spare in the middle of a war.”
 
Harriet Lange is daughter to one of the most powerful wizards in the world. His traditionally chauvinistic values forced her to secretly Bind to Blood magic and teach herself everything she knows, but the rarity of her forbidden powers make her that much more formidable on the battlefield.
 
Edwin Wright is loyal to a rivaling coven. He is the best pilot the British have to offer and a master of the elements. Thrown into leading a mismatched crew, he must find a way for their team to defy all odds and save enchanted prisoners of war before the enemy’s experiments weaponize their magic.
 
Albert Thys is an axe-wielding dwarf with a mind for explosives. His trust is hard to earn, but fierce once won. Having lost his family to a German air strike, he is boiling with the need for revenge. With dragons and airplanes both dominating the skies, his flair for bomb engineering proves more valuable than gold.
 
Rada Medved is a Russian Night Witch, and one of Germany’s greatest threats from the east. Having lived all of her life in the skies, she’s more than ready for her chance at combat.  Fighting skepticism and sexual harassment on the ground, she breathes in freedom and vengeance in the night skies when she takes down the Nazis one plane at a time.
War is inevitable. Death is coming. The only question is: will you hide, or will you fight?

The Witch’s March: Sneak Peek

Prologue: Afternoon Visitors

23 August 1914

 

The only sounds in Mons were of gunfire and death.  Hattie had done what she was supposed to and continued healing injured soldiers at her post until the nurses had been ordered to retreat with the injured soldiers.  Since she was woken up at dawn to news German soldiers had reached the city, though, there had been only one thought echoing around in her skull: Joey was out there, and he could die while she sat in the background.  Now free from her obligations to the wounded, Hattie was more determined than ever to do her part at the front-line and save her brother.  She walked with relaxed shoulders and purposeful strides, trying to keep her face down and away from possibly prying eyes.  With the backline’s attention already torn between defending against the Germans and evacuating the city’s remaining residents, the soldiers’ attentions naturally glazed over the nurse, even as she walked towards the danger.

The blood of the dead flowed through her, fueling her magic despite the grief it struck.  She let the familiar warmth settle inside her as her eyes scanned face after face for Joey. Surviving commanders shouted orders of retreat from the closest salient.  They definitely wouldn’t direct her further into the battle.  She ignored them and walked on.

“You there – nurse.”  Of course, people were bound to question a five-ten woman in the middle of a war zone eventually.  She turned to a white-mustached British officer with a large nose and tired eyes.  “How did you get this far into the city?  You need to evacuate now.”

“I’m not in the military, nor am I one of the queen’s subjects, so I’m afraid you don’t get to tell me to leave,” Hattie said.  She shifted her pocketknife out of her sleeve and reached it underneath her low bun to the never fully healed scar there, slicing into the thick skin.  The magic bled out of her like a boiling kettle, furnished by the climbing number of hundreds of corpses around her.  It was nearly overkill to do a simple distraction skill.

The officer walked towards his men to continue shouting orders as if he had never seen her at all, and she continued forward on her search.  She knew Joey was there; she could feel him.  With her spell, he would walk right past her if she didn’t stop him.

Now at the front line, with only stacks of sandbags protecting them from the Germans, she found it harder to hide her desperation.  Where was her brother?

The gunfire was ringing, forcing her to put her hands over her ears as she looked around.  The power flowing from the blood in her small cut was dizzying.  When she spun around to turn down another street, she nearly sobbed in relief when she saw him.  He was leaning against one of the shorter stacks of bags, gun in hand as he peaked around the line.

“Joey!” she shouted, hurrying towards him.  His chocolate brown hair was buzzed short to his scalp, his mustache surrounded by growing scruff.  Bags drooped deep under his red-rimmed eyes, and his uniform was wrinkled and stained with sweat.  At her touch, her distraction spell’s power over him broke, and he jumped at seeing her so close, barrel aimed in between her eyes.  She didn’t blink.  “Joey, we have to hold them off.”

“Hat– what the f– what are you doing here?  How are you even in Belgium?” he asked, his grip immediately tight around her bicep.  “You– never mind.  You have to get out of here now!”

“Don’t be an idiot, Joey.  Artillery clearly isn’t enough to hold off the Germans, but we can do it together with our magic.”

“You’re the one being an idiot.  Get the hell out of here!” he said, pushing her back away from the sandbags.  “It’s not safe–”

Hattie didn’t distinguish the shots from the constant barrage of gunfire, but three bullets suddenly struck through her brother’s back all the same.  His eyes widened as three circles of blood formed, and he didn’t look away as he swayed.  An animalistic scream erupted from her throat as she hurried to catch him.  No, she just found him – they were supposed to be safe together.

He looked down at where the bullets had come out through his chest, the blood seeping through his uniform as the men around her suddenly noticed the pair.  She pressed her hand into the wound, the red warm against her palm as she began to whisper her healing spell.

Men started shouting and trying to pull her off of him.  She wouldn’t let them. She couldn’t.  Her spell wasn’t finished.

Joey coughed in a way that shattered her heart as a soldier pulled them both further behind cover.  Her brother looked up at her as men surrounded him, his mouth twitching into a smile before he completely collapsed.

His smile stayed frozen in place as the men lowered him to the ground.  Their attention only stayed on him for another brief moment before one of them pronounced him dead.

Hattie fell to her knees as the world was torn from beneath her.  Other soldiers grabbed her by the arms and began to drag her away, but she shook them off with a scream.  She tried to crawl towards him, but they wouldn’t let her.  Everything spun around her, except him.  As she looked at his body lying there perfectly still, she knew she was too late.

The chaos around her echoed back into words – men shouting orders of retreat.  Two men held either of her arms as they finally pulled her back, her eyes locked helplessly on her brother’s corpse.  Hattie growled before elbowing one of her captors in the gut, making him drop her.  Using all her weight, she swung to punch the other right in the nose.  It crunched beneath her fist, his blood pouring out to add fuel to her already raging fire.  She pried his hand from her arm before spinning around and bounding back to her brother.

His blood was her blood, and it spiraled through her like a shot of heroin.  She nearly glowed with magic trying to burst through her skin, and it mixed with her anger until her entire body boiled with rage.

Hattie ripped open his shirt, smearing his blood onto her fingers before tracing it on her forehead in a triangle.  Heaven.  Hell.  Earth.

Her kin’s blood rippled through her like a tidal wave, and she rose in a fury as the new power washed over her.  Hattie ignored the shouting from the frightened men and walked out from behind the safety of their walls.

Before any Germans could realize what was happening, she released her power like a machine gun.  It shot across the streets in a stinging gust, followed by silence as the temperature plummeted to freezing.

A single shot fired, and Hattie grunted as a bullet struck her in the shoulder.  She stumbled but refused to fall, her blood singeing her skin red as it soaked into her shirt.

Her hand cradled the wound as she stayed firmly rooted in place, her spell a whisper in the Germans’ ears.  Her voice came from everywhere, ringing around them like a hissing snake – but the spell wasn’t meant for them.

Jannada illali.  Caadabta aargudasho.  Dulkha buundo.

A mist crept from the shadows, and in its haze stood the ghosts of men answering the call to follow the witch’s march.

Instead of guns, these ghosts held bows.  Their pointed helmets faded in and out, the red crosses on their tunics sliding away like melting paint.  Hattie didn’t know which century they were from, and she didn’t care.  Her only concern was if they were as bloodthirsty as the day they’d died.

Her chanting grew louder, bouncing around the city’s walls as she beckoned the undead forward.  She called to them, and they responded by raising their bows.

Arrows shot through the streets like bullets, Hattie taking a fresh breath as she heard the thuds of German bodies falling to the ground.  She had never killed a man before, but she had no regret or hesitation.  One of those men killed her brother, and since she couldn’t be sure which one, she’d have to kill them all.

Hattie opened her mouth to shout the order, but it was as if the ghost soldiers could hear her thoughts.  They attacked her brother’s killers for her mercilessly, gliding through the streets as hundreds of arrows clouded the skies.  More and more of her enemies fell, and she bathed in the power of their blood.

“Look, it’s angels!  God is on our side!” she heard a Brit shout.  No, it wasn’t Him this time, but she didn’t mind giving Him the credit.

A bullet tore into her stomach, and she let out an unexpected yelp of pain.  Hattie pressed against the wound as the blood drenched her uniform in warm, crimson stains, both giving and taking her strength all at once.  She looked around as her soldiers persisted, an endless wave of arrows flying towards the enemy line, but the Germans were still advancing.  It looked as though even angels couldn’t stop the Devil when they were already in Hell.

Another bullet buried into her leg, and she fell to the ground.  Her archers continued their assault but crowded in front of her, forming a visible barrier for her even if the bullets would just fly through them.  She had done her part, at least for now.  Hattie crawled back towards the British line as her archers continued their assault.

It was clear that Hattie couldn’t win this battle, but she’d be damned if she lost the Great War.  A fellow Ally ran towards her, shouting nonsensical insults as he put her arm around him for support.  Her mind screamed that she wasn’t done yet – there was still more revenge to be reaped – but her body had completely given up.  Her legs sagged, and the Ally soldier held most of her weight as he dragged her into retreat.  She looked back one last time at her brother’s body as the soldier pulled her away towards safety.

No, she wasn’t done yet.  Not by far.

~*~

            The battle had taken nearly the entire day, but as the sun began its descent in the sky, at long last the Germans could finally claim victory.  They were to move west soon, but no soldier would miss the opportunity to scavenge the dead for supplies.  Fresh boots, ammunition, and sometimes even hidden snacks were too valuable.

Victory or no, the men were all still unnerved from what had happened.  They argued over what they had seen.  Some imagined they were angels, while others said they must’ve been demons.  A few lunatics even claimed that a witch had resurrected them from the dead.

Generaloberst König, this one’s alive!” a German cadet shouted.

The colonel general turned to the proclamation of a survivor, making the cadet’s face pale, for half of his superior’s face was burned so deeply he could see the actual muscles tick within his jaw.  The story was that König’s latest encounter with an Element Focuser, and he let the false rumor spread.  It was better than the truth.

Colonel General König walked over to his shouting subordinate and looked down at the mostly dead, muttering Ally soldier.  It looked as though the bullets had just missed his heart; one a few centimeters to the left, and they would be dealing with another corpse instead of a potential prisoner.

An American, and by his smell, also a wizard.  The colonel general smiled.  How long had he waited for this chance?  “Get this man a doctor.  I need him alive.

Re-Publishing Your Novel by Kristen Brand

Personally, as an Indie author, I’ve always been curious about the process of re-publishing a novel.  I enjoy the creative freedom of self-publishing way too much to ever go for traditional publishing the first round, but what if a publishing company finds my finished work and wants to add it to their shelves?  Well, that very thing happened to Kristen Brand, author of The White Knight & Black Valentine Series.  She was able to re-sell her Steampunk novels, The Ghost Machine and Clockmaker, to Silver Empire publishing, and since she’s my sister, I took advantage and decided her to ask some questions that I’m sure we’re all wondering.

  1. Was your process overall positive or negative?

It’s still in the early days, but everything’s very positive so far! To give a little background, my first experience with this publisher was when I submitted my short story, The Strange Stairs at the Aldebourne Estate, to their Secret Stairs anthology.

The anthology is a collection of stories about the urban legend of mysterious staircases leading to nowhere found in the middle of the woods. I thought the idea was fascinating, and it inspired me to write a short story starring Ella Rosenfeld, the spirit medium protagonist of my steampunk novel, The Ghost Machine. The story was accepted, and Secret Stairs went on to be a smash success and bestseller in the horror genre.

Later, the publisher reached out to me about republishing some or all of my self-published novels. I wasn’t ready to part with all my novels, since I didn’t want all my eggs in one basket, so to speak, and I do like the independence of being a self-published author. But it seemed like a perfect fit for my two steampunk novels, since the publisher had already published a short story from that world and has a catalog of other steampunk books.

2. Did you make any revisions to the text before re-publishing?

Nope! There were no changes to the actual content of the book, only the packaging.

3. Talk about your new cover.

I think it does a great job getting across that this is a steampunk novel with an eerie atmosphere. The dark, decrepit hallway is perfectly creepy and straight out of Auttenberg Asylum from the story. Plus, I love the gear design behind the title.

While part of me wants the girl on the cover to exactly match every single minute detail of how I described the character and her wardrobe on the pages, the purpose of a book cover is to sell books, and this cover is doing just that—and doing it stylishly!

4. How involved were you in any changes made?

Since the changes were all on the book formatting and publishing side rather than editorial, I wasn’t involved much. Which frees me up to write more, so no complaints here.

5. How did the marketing and promotion differ from the first go-around?

It was much better planned, ha! Like a lot of authors, I kind of stumble around in the dark when it comes to marketing. I spent a lot of time contacting book bloggers after I first published The Ghost Machine, only to have a small fraction respond.

My publisher ran a successful Kickstarter to fund the book’s relaunch, getting publicity before it was even out. They grew my followers on Bookbub and put out advanced review copies on Booksrpout. I’ve definitely learned a lot from watching their process.

When I first published the book on my own, I didn’t really try to market it until after it was released. Now, I realize how important it is to plan ahead and put things in motion months in advance. I’m definitely going to put these lessons into practice for my future releases.