STATION FOSAAN by Dee Garretson #CoverReveal #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books

Today Dee Garretson and Month9Books are
revealing the cover and first chapter for STATION FOSAAN, which releases February
14, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers
to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:
I’ve been a major science
fiction fan ever since I discovered A WRINKLE IN TIME. When I moved on to
watching STAR TREK every day after school, that hooked me. Spock was my first
crush. I don’t know what that says about me. Maybe it was his pointy ears,
because I’m very taken with the pointy eared elves in LORD OF THE RINGS too. It
wasn’t just Spock though. I loved all the strange new worlds. I was devastated
the day my father told me that even once I grew up, there would be no
Enterprise spaceships and I couldn’t be Lieutenant Uhura. I still remember how
I wanted that communication earpiece, the miniskirt and the boots.
 
So you might say STATION
FOSAAN is in response to that disappointment. I created my own science fiction
world, which has been influenced not only by STAR TREK, but by STAR WARS and
DUNE as well. And while it is a space adventure, it’s also a story of two
people who find each other only to discover their lives may have to follow
different paths. The essence of a story is always the characters. I love to
create ones I’d want to know in real life. And like in real life, these
characters face powerful forces who try to emphasize the differences between
peoples rather than finding common ground. It’s a test to see what they choose.
One of my favorite parts from the book is something that is also my personal
motto: “We have to take chances. I have to take a chance. It’s time to go
beyond the known.”
On to the reveal! 

 

Title: STATION
FOSAAN
Author: Dee Garretson
Pub. Date: February 14, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads
|
Amazon | B&N | TBD
Scientists and their families stationed
on the remote planet of Fosaan were promised a tropical vacation-like
experience. But Fosaan, devastated from an apocalyptic event nearly
three-hundred years ago, is full of lethal predators and dangerous terrain.
Earthers are forbidden to go beyond the
safety zone of their settlement and must not engage the remaining reclusive
Fosaanians, native to the planet. Sixteen-year-old Quinn Neen is about to do
both of those things.
During an unsanctioned exploration of
the planet, Quinn discovers a beautiful Fosaanian girl named Mira stealing food
from his family’s living unit. But before he can convince her to show him
around, scientists are taken captive, leaving Quinn and the other young
Earthers at the mercy of space raiders.
Quinn must go from renegade to leader
and convince Mira to become an ally in a fight against an enemy whose very
existence threatens their lives and the future of Earthers stuck on Fosaan and
at home.

 

STATION FOSAAN is THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
meets STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN. 

Excerpt

Chapter 1When a civilization comes close to extinction, what emerges out of the ashes? On Fosaan, music did not, and art has turned to survival craft. Perhaps if I record what I know, some in the future will understand us better. The coming of the Earthers may be the end of us, and I do not want our memories to fade to ash. I may be giving myself too lofty a title, but for now I shall sign my musings,

Erimik, historian of the Clan

A flash in Fosaan’s sky distracted me from my work for a moment. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought a large ship just entered the atmosphere, but none were scheduled to land.

The flex wall rustled behind me. “Piper?” I said, not looking up from the display slip. One more minute and I would have the depiction of the snake-like creature completed, right down to the exact interlocking star pattern on the skin and the red speckling on the forelegs. Duplicating the vivid greenish yellow color would be trickier, but I had imaged it so there’d be a reference when I got down to mixing colors.

It was pure luck I had found a dead one on the walkway to study. I didn’t know what happened to the other deceased animals on Fosaan, but if the shrieks and howls that came from shore were any hint, I could guess. I’d just have to make sure I got rid of the thing before Piper got home. My younger sister hated seeing anything dead.

“Piper?” I turned around, but no one was in the unit. The rustling sound had moved into the kitchen.

Magellan squawked and flapped her wings from the window ledge, “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!”

Since the parrot said the same thing at every sound she didn’t recognize, I wasn’t too worried. “Mags, relax. It’s probably just an olon.” I got up and grabbed the stick I always used to shoo away the tiny nuisances. If I let one in, a whole flock of them would follow, perching on every available surface, chittering and staring as if expecting me to put on a show for them. Me, Quinn Neen, whose talents, such as they were, did not include entertaining anyone or anything. It was even worse when they brought in their latest catches from the sea, treating the floating living units like their own picnic area, dropping bones all over the floor.

Now that Mags felt like she had done her guard job, she lost interest. Balancing on one leg, she examined a talon on the other. “Beautiful toe,” she declared.

“Yes, you’ve told me before,” I said, knowing I’d never be able to convince the parrot a talon was not the same thing as a toe. I wasn’t sure she grasped the concept of “beautiful,” but she applied it more frequently to herself than anyone else. Leaving the bird to her talon inspection, I pushed aside the divider to get into the kitchen. No olons. No more rustling noise either, just the faint splash of the waves rocking the walkways that connected the individual living quarters. A gust of wind brought in the briny scent of the water, sharper smelling than the oceans of Earth. It overpowered the pine scent I had set on the room control, which I liked to use as a reminder of the pine forest reserve my grandmother managed on Earth. Another gust rattled the beads Piper had attached to her favorite house droid, but there were no other sounds. Maybe an olon had come and gone.

I turned to go back when a flash of white caught my eye. Startled, I dropped the stick and then tripped over it. A girl, a Fosaanian girl, stood clutching a wafer loaf to her chest, a cloud of long shimmery white hair quivering. In fact, all of her was shivering. She was soaked, water dripping off her. I could see her wet footprints all over the kitchen. Her silvery eyes held mine and I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I wasn’t usually so speechless around girls with incredible eyes, but I’d never encountered one I didn’t know in my own quarters.

“What are you doing?” I finally managed to croak, even though it was obvious she was taking the loaf, or more accurately, stealing the loaf. Fosaanians never came out onto the Earthers’ floating compound.

“I’m sorry,” the girl said, putting the loaf back on counter and edging to the door.

“No, wait!” I didn’t mean to shout, but my words came out too loud. The girl froze like I had issued an order, though I could tell she was ready to bolt. “It’s okay,” I said. “I mean, if you’re hungry, take it.” Picking the loaf up, I held it out to her, hoping it would convince her to stay for a little while. She would be the first Fosaanian I had talked to, if I could get her to talk. The small population of Fosaanians, the descendants of the few who had survived the planetary apocalypse, kept away from all of us Earthers, except for the ones who worked at the supply depot or who delivered the iridium sulfide. None of those could be called the least bit friendly.

She didn’t take the loaf, but she didn’t run either. Instead, she stood there looking around the room, clearly curious.

“I have an even better idea,” I said, trying to come up with one. “How about I fix us both something to eat? I’m hungry too.” The girl was too thin, but then all the Fosaanians I had seen were skinny. I assumed it was a Fosaanian physical trait that went along with their long fingers and thin necks, but now it occurred to me that if she was here to steal food maybe they weren’t getting enough to eat.

“The food, it is not for me,” the girl said. “My little sister, she had an accident and some of her teeth were damaged. It’s easier for her to eat soft food….” Her voice trailed off, and she clutched her hands together.

“You can take it. We have plenty. I’ll find some other stuff too.” I grabbed a carryall and opened the storage cabinet, looking for soft food. “Why doesn’t your sister just get replacement teeth?”

Her eyes widened. “You can replace teeth?”

“Sure, people do it all the time.” I had two replacements already, from running into a low bulkhead when I was trying to get some exercise during the long dull journey to Fosaan from Earth.

“How much do teeth cost?”

“I don’t know.” I found some milk bars and added them to the carryall. “Not much, probably.” I’d never even thought about it.

“If it costs as much as wafer bread, then it would be too much.” She sounded angry.

“Maybe not. I have a friend up on the space station in charge of inventory,” I told her. “I can ask him if they have some extra teeth. They probably do.”

Her eyes narrowed and she took a step back. “What would I have to do for them?”

“Nothing,” I said. I was struck by how suspicious she sounded. “My friend, Gregor, he isn’t too strict about things. Giving you some teeth for your sister isn’t going to break the budget of the station.” I knew Gregor would actually be pleased to do something that was outside the rules. He took so much pleasure in breaking military protocol, I sometimes wondered why he had signed up for more service after the mandatory enlistment was up.

An olon flew in and perched on a stool, folding its wings into small pleats and settling down like it intended to stay. I recognized it from its abnormal markings. Most olons had a bright green streak under each eye, but this one was missing the streak on the left. It was also the one who seemed to have an uncanny knack for knowing when food was out. “You’re not getting any of this,” I said to it. “Don’t be lazy. Go find your own food.” It hooted at me.

At the noise, Mags hopped into the room and then flew up and landed on the counter, flapping her wings and screeching, “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert! Dog! Dog!” She hated the olons and “dog” was her word for anything she hated.

The olon just gazed at the parrot, not moving. “Easy, Mags,” I said, “It’s ‘olon’. ‘Olon.’”

“Dog!” Mags flapped her wings threateningly. “Man the weapons!” My father had taught Mags the weapons line, and he and I thought it hilarious, though my mother wasn’t crazy about the parrot threatening any guest the bird didn’t like. When the olon didn’t move, Mags added in some incoming missile sound effects to indicate she was extremely displeased.

“Calm down, Mags.” The olon didn’t appear perturbed at all by the parrot. It sidled to the edge of the stool, its attention totally focused on the wafer loaf.

“Your creature talks? You communicate with them?” the girl asked, her amazing eyes widening.

It took me a moment to answer; I was so caught up in looking at her. “Uh, no, I sort of communicate with Mags, but I just talk to the olons. They don’t understand me. It’s a habit when I’m by myself.” Now she would think I was strange. I’d only started talking to myself once we’d arrived. There were fifteen other younger Earthers onplanet and an assortment of scientists who came and went to the orbiting space station for their shifts, but we often got tired of each other. I spent most of the time working on my own projects.

The girl eyed the olon. “I’ve never seen one without two markings on the face,” she said. “I did see one once with double markings, but never just one.”

“I’d like to see one like that.” I was intrigued that she had noticed. Most people didn’t pay much attention to them. When I had first observed the marking and pointed it out to my friend Lainie, she had pretended to be interested, but the way she smiled made it clear she was just humoring me.

The olon hooted once more and then flew back out the window, like it had given up on the possibility of a handout.

“All clear!” Mags announced, using another of the military phrases my father favored. She began to preen herself. “Beautiful feathers.”

“Quinn!” Piper shouted from the walkway. The bells my little sister wore in her hair jangled crazily as she ran into the room. “Quinn, guess what? The shuttle landed but nobody was on it. Not mom, not anybody. Nobody knows why.” Piper skidded to a stop, noticing the girl. “Why is a Fosaanian here?” she demanded, her eyes wide.

“Um…She was out swimming,” I said, not wanting to explain the conversation about the bread. There were never simple explanations for Piper. Everything always led to another why. “I invited her in,” I added.

“Hello,” Piper said, moving closer to the girl and sniffing the air. “You don’t smell. My friend Lia says Fosaanians smell.”

“That’s rude, Piper. I’m sorry,” I said to the girl. I had heard the same rumor, that Fosaanians smelled like the sulfur permeating the atmosphere.

“I said she DIDN’T smell.” Piper glared at me. “It would be rude if I said she DID. What’s your name?”

“My name is Mira,” The girl answered almost in a whisper.

Piper reached out and patted Mira on the arm as if she was some shy creature. “Mira is a pretty name. Mine’s Piper. How old are you? I’m seven. Why do you have that funny mark on your face?”

The girl jerked back like the question shocked her. I didn’t understand her reaction, and after she didn’t respond, I said to Piper, “It’s a tattoo.” I didn’t think much about it because the small three-sided red mark on her check matched the ones on the two Fosaanians who worked at the station.

Mira’s lack of response didn’t stop Piper. “Why do all the Fosaanians have white hair? It makes everyone look old.” Piper moved closer like she was going to touch Mira’s hair.

“Piper!” Time to distract my sister before she did anything embarrassing. “What about the shuttle?” I asked.

“It landed without anybody on it, and nobody at the supply depot can talk to the space station. Is it true Fosaanian babies are born with black hair and then it turns white?”

Piper’s jumps in topics were hard to follow, and it took Mira some time to answer. “We all have white hair all along,” the girl said.

“That’s strange.” I was puzzled, not about the hair, but about the shuttle. There were always communication problems between the depot and the station because of the weird atmospheric components on Fosaan, and because of the frequent volcanic ash that spewed into the air from a nearby island, but I couldn’t think of a reason why the shuttle wouldn’t have anyone on it. “Maybe everyone decided to stay for a double shift. Mom said they were having problems with the newest version of the MIdroids.”

Piper shrugged. “Mick didn’t say anything.”

“What’s Mick doing about it?” I asked. Mick ran the depot, with the help of a few Fosaanians and some ancient droids he refused to replace. He was good with supplies and machines and droids, not so good with other people.

“He sent the second shift up. They’re supposed to report back.” Piper twisted her finger through her own hair, and the bells jingled softly. I knew the hair-twisting meant Piper was nervous.

“I’m sure they will,” I said to reassure her. I was about to go back to talking to Mira when I realized there was something odd about Piper’s last statement. “How are they going to report back if the link isn’t working?”

“I don’t know. Do all Fosaanians have such curly hair? I wish I did.”

“Piper, stop with the questions. You’re being nosy. Why don’t you see if you can get Mom on the comm here?” I suggested.

“Okay.” Piper darted out of the kitchen, and too late, I remembered what I had left on the work table.

Piper’s shriek came a second later. “Quinn! Disgusting! It’s dead! Get it away!”

“Sorry, Piper,” I said. The Fosaanian girl was edging for the door again. “Wait, don’t go yet. Maybe you could help me with something. It’s in here.” I didn’t want to let her go so I gestured towards the other room and walked out of the kitchen hoping she would follow me. She did, stopping in the doorway. I heard a sharp intake of breath.

When I turned around, the girl was staring wide-eyed around the room. “How is this possible?” she said, reaching out her hand to touch one of the holographic pine trees.

“Oh, I forgot,” I pointed at the scene setter on the table. “I had the scene set to be a pine forest. I really miss one I used to go to on Earth, so I like to set that surrounding when I work.”

“I didn’t know such things existed,” Mira said, kneeling down to touch the stream that ran around the chairs. I turned the sound up so the faint murmur of water came from it. The girl’s hand went into it and touched the floor. “This is amazing! It looks so real. I smell something strange too.”

“I’ve got it set to pine forest scent. I can switch it to something else if you like, flowers, or a camp fire. Do you want to see it snow?” I changed the scene to snowfall and immediately drifts appeared, covering most of the furniture. Holographic snowflakes fell from the ceiling, which had changed to the gray of a winter sky.

Mira lifted her hands out and smiled. “It’s cold! I have heard of snow, but I didn’t know it was cold.”

“Excuse me,” Piper said, standing by the work table with her hands on her hips, her face screwed up in disgust. “Does anyone besides me care that there is a dead thing here?”

“It’s okay, Piper.” I said. “It can’t hurt you. I meant to get rid of it before you got home.” I switched the snowfall back to the forest. The falling flakes were too distracting most of the time.

Piper stomped her foot. “Why do you have to drag stuff inside to depict it? Why can’t you just image things like normal people?”

“There’s no challenge to imaging it. Anybody can do that. Depicting objects sharpens a person’s power of observation.” I’d heard one of the tests to get into the reconnaissance corps training program measured how well the applicant could observe tiny details. “Besides, I needed to scan its measurements so I could record them.” We’d had this argument many times and I didn’t get why Piper couldn’t understand. It wasn’t like I kept the specimens around forever, though sometimes to tease her I pretended I’d accidentally lost one in her room. She fell for it every time.

The Fosaanian girl got up and walked over to the table, stepping around a moss-covered boulder that wasn’t really there. She looked down at the creature. “You didn’t kill this, did you?” she asked.

If I had been the type to lie, I would have told her I caught it barehanded as it ran past me. I was a terrible at lying though. “No, it was already dead when I found it.” I switched the room back to normal.

“I thought so. Most beings don’t survive getting close to an anguist.”

“I didn’t know,” I said, somewhat pleased I had managed to study something so lethal. “It’s called an anguist?”

“I don’t care what it’s called!” Piper wailed. “Just get it away!”

Since I was done with it anyway, and it was already starting to smell in the heat, I reached over to pick it up, intending to drop it out the window into the water.

“Wait!” The Fosaanian girl said. “How did you get it in here? Did you touch it?” She sounded horrified.

My hand froze. “Uh, yeah, I picked it up and brought it in. Why?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know the answer.

“How did you pick it up?”

I pictured how I had found the creature. “I picked it up behind the forelegs. Why?”

“They exude poison when they’re threatened, particularly from their tails.” Mira’s face showed the same alarm that her voice held. “It’s so lethal, it paralyzes you almost immediately.”

I couldn’t remember exactly where I had touched it. I’d moved it around a lot as I was measuring it. Was my hand feeling a little numb? I flexed my fingers. They still worked. “I feel fine. I guess I didn’t touch the poison part.” Good to know I hadn’t managed to paralyze myself. It had been idiotic of me not to think of that possibility. I knew there were dangerous life forms on Fosaan, and the Earthers were forbidden to go anywhere except the depot and the beach, but I hadn’t even imagined a small dead creature could hurt me.

“You shouldn’t just pick up what you find,” Mira said, putting her hands on hips just like Piper did. “There are many deadly animals and plants on Fosaan.”

At first I didn’t hear what she said. The amazing color of her eyes distracted me again. I had thought all Fosaanians had dull gray eyes.

“Quinn, didn’t you hear her? Deadly animals are a BAD thing,” Piper said.

“Um… I heard. Do you know how to identify them?” I asked the girl. She had just given me an idea.

“Of course I know,” she said, as if I were slightly dense. “I wouldn’t be alive if I didn’t.”

I tried to pick my words carefully so I could get her to go along with my idea. “Could you show me which ones are dangerous? I really want to know, because I’m making a guide.” Her expression grew more puzzled and I realized she didn’t understand, so I kept talking. “The life forms that survived the Apocalypse haven’t been completely logged, I mean logged by our people. If you helped me, I could make a real guide. We could work on it together. I’ve got some great recording equipment my friend on the space station lent me and I’ve made this capture device to get some of the smaller flying creatures, so I can observe them and then release them. I’ll show it to you…that is…if you want to see it….” Her face was expressionless, and I realized she might think it was all too boring.

Finally she said, “No…I don’t think my uncle would allow me to help you…I don’t know.”

Since it wasn’t a flat-out no, I persisted, “It wouldn’t take much time.”

“It’s not a good idea,” she said, sounding certain.

I slumped back against the table. At this rate, I’d never get the guide done before the deadline to submit my application to the reconnaissance corps. Without something unique like a guide to add to my application, I didn’t stand much of a chance of acceptance. My examination scores fell right in the middle of average. And if I didn’t get in, my grandfather would make sure I was assigned to one of the officer academies. I knew that would only lead to a spectacular failure. I’d make an even worse officer than my father.

Piper’s voice caught my attention. “Quinn, I thought we were going to talk to Mom.”

“You can speak to someone on the space station from your own home?” Mira drew close to the comm unit and put out her hand like she wanted to touch it.

“Yes, everyone has one of these,” I said.

“Haven’t you seen the ones inside the depot?” Piper asked.

“Fosaanians aren’t allowed inside unless they work there,” Mira said.

I hadn’t realized that. I just assumed the Fosaanians preferred to keep to themselves. “Why not? It’s nothing special.”

“It’s a rule. Are these hard to work?” Mira’s hand still hovered over the touchpad. “My uncle and my cousin operate the one at the depot, and they say you can get information from everywhere in the galaxy, and pictures of other places. My cousin told me he’s seen images of other planets, and they have giant buildings on them.” She said it like she didn’t really believe it.

“Sure, tall buildings are everywhere.” I wasn’t interested in ordinary buildings, but if she was and it got her to stay, I’d show her as many as she wanted. “We’ll look at some once I talk to my mother.”

I was about to speak the code to call up the Comm Center at the station when a voice said, “Incoming message. Secure channel. Turing Seven. Response.”

“That’s Grandfather!” Piper squealed.

I restrained myself from groaning. My grandfather was the last person in the galaxy I wanted to speak to. “Not good timing,” I said, turning to Mira. “I’m sorry, but it would be good if you go in the kitchen while we’re talking to my grandfather. I don’t want to have to explain to him what you’re doing here.”

She didn’t question me, which surprised me, though at the same time I was happy I didn’t have to go into more detail. My grandfather did not like to be kept waiting. I spoke the response. “Turing Five.”

My grandfather’s attaché appeared on the slip, a woman who Piper called Lieutenant Bark because every word the woman spoke came out short and abrupt. “Hold a moment for Admiral Neen,” the woman said.

It didn’t take a moment. Almost instantly the grim, lined face of my grandfather filled the display. I knew everyone remarked on how much I looked like the man, down to the dark brown eyes that were nearly black, the sharp lines of our faces, and the set of our jaws, but I hoped I never grew to look so rigid. In a dress uniform, the dark green sheen of it rippling in the sterile light of his office, the man would have projected authority even if you didn’t know he was head of the Konsilan.

“Good day, Quinn.”

“Good day, Sir.” I instinctively sat up straighter. I’d learned long ago not to slouch in view of my grandfather.

“Hi Grandpa!” Piper pushed in besides me on the chair.

“Hello, Miss Piper.” A smile appeared on the stone face, something rarely seen. “How’s my girl?”

“Good! When are you coming to visit?”

I hoped he’d say “Never.” The last argument between my father and grandfather had been so terrible, I couldn’t imagine them meeting again.

“I’m not sure.” The admiral turned and said something to the attaché and then turned back. “I’m sorry, Piper, but I don’t have much time and I need to talk to your brother.”

“Okay,” she said, sliding off the chair. I heard her move to the kitchen and begin chattering again to Mira. “That’s a pretty necklace! Can you show me how to make one like it?” I didn’t hear Mira’s reply and I tried to block out their voices so my grandfather wouldn’t comment on my lack of focus, an almost criminal offense to him.

The frown had reappeared on his face. “Quinn, I understand you haven’t yet submitted your application for any of the officer academies. The deadline is coming up.”

“I know, Sir. I…uh…wanted to speak with you about that.” I felt sweat running down my back and wondered why the room had suddenly gotten so hot. I tried to think of how I had practiced my speech to my grandfather, but instead all I could see in my head was the sweep of wall in the man’s office that contained image after image of Neen ancestors in all their military glory.

My grandfather raised an eyebrow. “Go ahead.”

I reminded myself that it was my future at stake, not my grandfather’s. “I…” Before I could say anything else, the slip went blank. “That’s weird,” I said.

“What’s weird?” Piper came back in the room.

“We lost contact with Grandfather.”

I spoke the code to call up the Comm Center. The display flickered, then the familiar logo of the station came up, the words Advanced Artificial Intelligence Research Center emblazoned across a rotating triple torus. I waited for the next slip. Someone on first or second shift communications should appear.

Instead, a voice said, “Due to technical difficulties, AAIRC is not available at this time.” The slip went clear.

 

Dee Garretson writes for many different
age groups, from chapter books to middle grade to young adult to adult fiction.
She lives in Ohio with her family, and in true writer fashion, has cat
companions who oversee her daily word count. When she’s not writing, she loves
to travel, watch old movies, and attempt various kinds of drawing, painting and
other artistic pursuits.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

SOULMATED by Shaila Patel #CoverReveal #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books

Today Shaila Patel and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SOULMATED, which releases January 24, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
 
A quick note from the author:
 
When people find out that I’ve written a book, invariably the first question is, “Where did you get the idea for the story?” If I had a quick and easy answer like, “I checked www.BookIdeas.com,” my phone calls with the family would be so much shorter! Anyway, the truth is a bit more complicated—much like my family’s recipe for the perfect cup of chai.
 
After years of writing literary short stories, I thought I’d try my hand at a paranormal romance. Perfectly normal leap of logic, right? (I have Twilight to thank for that!) For whatever reason, I’d been thinking of how emotionally perceptive my mom was and that if there were such a thing as an EQ test (where the E stands for emotional intelligence), my mom would score through the roof. She just always had this uncanny ability to read my feelings. I’d never seen a story about empaths—people who could read emotions like psychics could read thoughts—but the idea grabbed on and wouldn’t let go. And that, my friends, was the beginning. Soulmated is finally ready to be released, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I had fun writing it!

On to the reveal! 

Title: SOULMATED (Joining of Souls #1)
Author: Shaila Patel
Pub. Date: January 24, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD
Two souls. One Fate.
Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.
Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.
When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.
Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?
Excerpt

CHAPTER 1 – LIAMThey’re calling this a test?

Not even a ping grazed my mind as the five Elders tried to slip past my mental blocks and into my emotions. A sheen of sweat over William’s lip proved he wasn’t faring as well. Of all the cousins now come of age, William and I were the last to be sitting before the Elders. I’d have felt guilty for his not doing so well had he ever shown an interest in leading the family. But, we all knew he’d rather have his head in a library. Now his heart was with his wife Colleen. He at least seemed to have a choice about his fate.

I sighed. Not so for me.

“Are we boring you, Prince Liam?”

I snapped my eyes up to Elder Adebayo. He wore his trademark bow tie with a traditional fila atop his head. In the fraction of a second it took me to untangle the meaning from his heavy Nigerian accent, I’d blanked my expression and sat upright. The Elders sat along one side of an antique conference table, facing William and myself. The manor staff had rearranged the study to hold both the testing and signing-over ceremonies. Gone were the leather club chairs and stained glass lamps normally dotting the large space, giving it the air of a posh library. Now it seemed more an election-night headquarters, like the sort you saw on the telly, with bright lights and a gathering of family strewn about, waiting for the results. A photographer hung out in one corner, camera in hand. Not far from him stood a team of solicitors guarding rolling briefcases that were no doubt stuffed with legal documents for the victor to sign.

My throat-clearing echoed in the now silent room, and my cheeks warmed. “No, sir, not at all. Although, uh … I’d like to know when it is you’ll begin with me.” I pasted on an oh-so-innocent smirk and watched William shake his head and smother a grin. I shrugged at him, hoping to lighten the mood.

Four of the Elders cocked an eyebrow—all except for Elder Claire Brennan, our lone Irish representative. She leaned ever so slightly forward from where she sat at the center of the group.

So much for having a bit of craic.

The familiar knocking on my brain—like the distant sound of drums—told me someone had got past my first line of defenses with their probe. The rest of my mental blocks held up though. The corner of Brennan’s lip stretched upward. Toying with me, was she? I leaned back with a matching smile and loosened my tie. Mum and I were the only ones in the family who’d mastered the skill of probing and manipulation. A handy skill that, especially when the burden of the entire clan’s financial success might well be resting on my shoulders.

As if sensing the end of the ritual, Mum whispered to the house staff and pointed toward the main doors, directing them to begin preparations, most likely. She turned and nearly ran into a Mediterranean-looking man with a grotesque mole on his left cheek. He wasn’t a relation or a solicitor, so I assumed he was a council minister. Their stances were stiff, and despite being too far for me to hear, I sensed Mum’s replies seemed short and clipped. He moved around her, and on his way out, his eyes met mine. He lifted his lips in a smirk.

Arse.

My attention darted to Mum. She was smoothing out the front of her dress, and her shoulders heaved a time or two before she turned back to face the room. I mentally sent her my curiosity, but she ignored me with a smile. She did at least send me her love before she weaved herself into the crowd.

Within a few minutes, Elder Brennan squared her shoulders and opened the portfolio in front of her. The rest of the Elders relaxed back in their seats and passed her folded slips of paper.

Jaysus Christ. Thank you. This bleedin’ muck-up was about done.

After tallying the results, she stood with the help of a finely carved cane. Rumors about her age had always been entertaining—the last one I’d heard was that Claire Brennan was well over 140 years old. Apparently, documents as to her history had disappeared. Her regal manner and piercing blue eyes—the sort that’d make a gutless gobshite piss his pants—set her apart from the rest of the Elders. She now set those sights on me.

“Prince Liam, please stand. It is our unanimous decision that the Royal Empath House of O’Connor will now be led by you, Prince Liam Joseph O’Connor-Whelan, on this day, the

sixth of June, in the year 2015.” Flashes from the camera punctuated every other word, and spots began to form in front of my eyes. “You have proven your worth to lead your clan by exhibiting the strength of your empath skills to the satisfaction of the presiding group and by extension, the Council of Ministers.”

Brennan rattled on about allegiances and legal mandates, all of which bore down on me like the weight of history, dry and inescapable, yet … a bit liberating. Now we could stop our search and stay in Ireland—better of two evils and all that. I could make that happen now.

An explosion of clapping hands, and thumps on my back from a relieved-looking William, forced me to plaster a smile on my face.

Mum hurried over with open arms. “Darling! We’re so happy for you.” Da and my older brother Ciarán, a non-empath, followed, both decked out in a suit and tie. After her hug and kiss and Da’s pat on my back, they congratulated William on his effort and made room for the Elders to come around with their well-wishing. Ciarán smirked and punched my shoulder. The strobe-light effect of the flashes had me squinting.

Elder Santiago from Spain shook my hand. He sported a thick mustache and proudly wore his Catalonian flag pin on his lapel. He’d been wooing our clan for support in Catalonia’s bid for secession from Spain. Ciarán had thought it a good cause to be getting behind—especially if we beat another royal clan from doing so first. We had several holdings in Barcelona, after all. Now that it was my call to be making, a hasty decision didn’t seem wise. Santiago always had the look about him of a tapas dish drowning in olive oil.

He sidled closer. “Your strength is most impressive. And at the age of eighteen too. It is not hard to believe you will be the next soulmated empath, in truth. Some have doubts though, eh?”

He wants to discuss this now?

Da pointed to his own temple, stabbing at an unruly black curl. “No need for doubts. If I’ve seen it, it’s as good as true.”

I resisted rolling my eyes. Admitting I had my own doubts about Da’s visions wouldn’t be wise. “Time will tell, yeah?” No point kissing Elder arse.

The other Elders came one by one, congratulating me and posing for photos. Brennan was last. The crowd dispersed enough to give us a bubble of privacy. She tipped her head back and studied my face.

Without being able to read her blocked emotions, her body language was all I had to go on. A smile like before tugged at her lips.

I leaned in. “So were you toying with me earlier?” My bold question would either be living up to the liberties given to the heads of the four remaining Irish royal houses, or it’d be taken as the yipping of a whelp learning to growl. I hoped for the former and straightened up just in case.

“The test need only be as strong as the weakest candidate.” She curved her gloved hand around the crook of my elbow and turned me to face the patio. “Come now. Walk me outside.”

Leading an Elder outside for a private conversation wasn’t as nerve-racking as I’d thought. With her hand resting on my arm, she exuded an unexpected grandmotherly warmth. The stone patio ran the length of the building on this side of our manor home. It overlooked the meadows of our property—now mine—and with the cloudless days we’d had of late, the scent of heated earth surrounded us. I inhaled deeply. Definitely better here than returning to the States.

The few who lingered outside turned and meandered back to the study once they spotted us. Elder Brennan patted my arm, then released it, flattening her palms upon the balustrade, her ever-present white gloves in sharp contrast to the weathered stone.

Her gaze floated over the view. “It seems you are to have a very interesting future ahead of you.”

“Possibly.”

Her features relaxed with another one of her enigmatic smiles. “When will you be returning to America?”

“I’m thinking to stay here,” I said.

A disapproving frown appeared, and she tapped a sole finger on the stone.

How the hell was this any of her bloody business? I forced my expression to remain neutral and unclenched the hands I’d not realized I’d fisted. If only Da had kept his mouth shut over the years.

“Choices are a funny thing, Prince Liam. We often treat them as black and white, but rarely are they.”

I pocketed my hands. What was I meant to say? Yes, Zen Master Brennan.

A breeze picked up and coaxed a few strands of her silver hair across her cheek. She tilted her face into the wind and closed her eyes. “You should return to your search.” She turned and pinned me with a stare.

“What? Why? Are you trying to boot me from Ireland? Away from the estate? Is something happening you’re hiding from me?”

She held up her hand. “The demesne will be in capable hands. Go now. Enjoy your celebration. Congratulations and happy eighteenth birthday.” With a nod, she summoned two of her gendarmes, who came to her side and escorted her down the patio.

Mum must have been watching because she rushed outside. “What did she want?” Her concerned gaze scanned my face as if to get a read on my emotions, but as usual, I had them blocked.

I rolled my shoulders and took a breath. “She wants us to go back to the States.”

Her mouth opened and closed.

I knew that look. “Just say it, Mum.”

“Your father had another vision during the night.”

I snorted. “Where now? Alaska?”

“Liam, you used to believe—”

“Do you think we’ll be seeing some actual igloos? We could even go to the North Pole and watch the ice cap melt—”

“What harm could one more year—?”

“Have you tried whale blubber, Mum? I hear it’s a right treat.”

An elderly couple came out onto the patio. With a huff, Mum crossed her arms and broadcast her emotions as clearly as any mother’s scowl would convey. Waves of her irritation registered in my mind like seaweed washing in and wrapping around my toes. I moved a few steps away and leaned over the balustrade, resting my forearms on the sunbaked stone. A good fifty yards out, a hare popped up to scan its surroundings and then chased a second one into the shrubbery.

After a few moments, Mum joined me. “We know this isn’t easy, Liam, but we’re doing it for you. We’ve sacrificed so much. Please understand.”

I ground my back teeth and straightened. So much for making it happen my way. “Fine. One more year.”

I stormed back into the study so the signing could begin, passing by several girls in long glittering dresses, tittering behind their fingers. No doubt my pain-in-the-arse brother had arranged for them to be here.

If the Elders knew about our search, so did the rest of the empath community. Speculation would be flowing like whiskey tonight, but it didn’t change the fact we’d not be finding our target in Ireland.

Want to read more? Shaila has chapter 2 on her website

 

As an unabashed lover of all things
happily-ever- after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and
fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next.
Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of
stories with epilogues. A member of the Romance Writers of America, she’s a
pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night.
She enjoys traveling, craft beer, and teas, and loves reading books—especially
in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red
light or connecting with other readers online at: www.shailapatelauthor.com
 
Find Shaila:

 

Giveaway Details:

 

3 winners will receive an eGalley of
SOULMATED. International.

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Month9Books Halloween Spooktacular #Giveaway #BookBlast @Month9Books #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books




Hello and Happy Halloween Everyone! We here at Month9Books
love Halloween so we decided to share some of our favorite Halloween or scary books
and not just feature them but give them away!
 
The Undertakers Series by Ty Drago! We love Zombies and we
know you will too!
 



 
 
Two And Twenty Dark Tales & Very Superstitious these 2
anthologies are perfect to scare you on Halloween!
 


 
 
Into The Dark & Into The Light by Caroline Patti body
swapping can be freaky as heck!
 
 
 
 
 
Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show and Mc’Graves
Hotel by Steve Bryant full of ghosts and creatures perfect for the middle grade
crowd!
 


 
 
 
The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman. A historical fantasy set
in an insane asylum is the ultimate read on Halloween!
 
 
 
Hair in All The Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley for all the
werewolf lovers in your life 🙂
 
 
 
Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson what is more scary that being
inside a creature’s lair? Hearing the story from his POV for sure!
 
 
 
Giveaway Details:
1 Winner will receive a Middle Grade Pack with all the
Undertakers Books, Lucas Mackenzie and the London Midnight Ghost Show and
Mc’Graves Hotel, & Hair in All The Wrong Places, US Only.
 
1 Winner will receive a YA pack with Two And Twenty Dark
Tales & Very Superstitious, Into The Dark & Into The Light, The Requiem
Red, & Minotaur, US Only.
3 Winners will receive an eBook pack of all the books
featured, International.





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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Happy Birthday Day Month9books #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books

 

Welcome to Month9Books Turns 4 Birthday Bash! We’re thrilled
to share this celebration with you!
Here’s a quick note from Georgia McBride, owner of
Month9Books!
“Month9Books is turning 4 this year, and I could not be
happier. We are living proof that if you have a dream to write, create and
inspire, you should follow that dream and let nothing keep you from realizing
it. Thank you to all the readers, writers, agents, partners and friends who
have made this possible. We write for you.
–Georgia McBride, Publisher and Owner of Month9Books”
Thanks so much for 4 awesome years! We look forward to
celebrating #5 with you in 2017! We have something for everyone from every
genre from Sci-Fi to Fantasy to Paranormal and Horror! As a thank you, we’re
giving away some well-loved books from 2015 and 2016. All paperback and
hardcover winners must reside in the United States. International readers may
receive only eBooks if they win.
Here’s a look at all of the books we have published through
the years!
Two and Twenty Dark Tales: Dark Retellings of Mother Goose
Rhymes
Very Superstitious: Myths, Legends and Tales of Superstition
Praefatio (Praefatio, #1) by Georgia McBride
THE Undertakers: Secret of The Corpse Eater by Ty Drago
Fledgling (Dragonrider Chronicles #1) by Nicole Conway
Avian (Dragonrider Chronicles #2) by Nicole Conway
Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton
The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl by Leigh
Statham
Summer of The Oak Moon by Laura Templeton
The Undertakers: Last Siege of Haven by Ty Drago
The Artisans by Julie Reece
Into The Dark by Caroline Patti
Serpentine by Cindy Pon
Minotaur by Phillip Simpson
Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins
Ashes In The Sky (Fire in the Woods #2) By Jennifer M. Eaton
The Undertakers 5: End of the World by Ty Drago
The Requiem Red by Brynn Chapman
Emerge by Tobie Easton
There Once were Stars by Melanie McFarlane
The Paladins (The Artisans #2) by Julie Reece
Argos by Phillip W. Simpson
Traitor (Dragonrider Chronicles #3) by Nicole Conway
Rise by Jennifer Anne Davis
In The Shadow Of The Dragon King by J. Keller Ford
Hair In All The Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley
Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley
Into The Light (Into The Dark #2) by Caroline Patti
un/Fair by Steven Harper
Operation Tenley by Jennifer Gooch Hummer
The Perilous Journey Of The Much Too Spontaneous Girl (The
Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl #2) by Leigh Statham
Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon
Clanless (Nameless #2 ) by Jennifer Jenkins
The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief by Charles Day
In The Beginning Anthology
Immortal (Dragonrider Chronicles #4)  by Nicole Conway
Giveaway Details:
A total of 13 winners
will receive….
(1) Hardcover of SERPENTINE by Cindy Pon, US Only.
(1) Paperback of EMERGE by Tobie Easton, US ONLY.
(1) Hardcover of POPPY MAYBERRY: THE MONDAY by Jennie K.
Brown, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of THE DRAGONRIDERS CHRONICLES by Nicole
Conway, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of HAIR IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES by Andrew
Buckley, POLARIS by Beth Bowland, and ARTIFACTS by Pete Catalano, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of THE UNDERTAKERS SECRET OF THE CORPSE
EATER & THE UNDERTAKERS LAST SIEGE OF HAVEN, US Only.
(1) Paperback set of TWO AND TWENTY DARK TALES, THE REQUIEM
RED by Brynn Chapman, FIRE IN THE WOODS by Jennifer M. Eaton, & RISE by
Jennifer Anne Davis, US Only.
(3) Paperbacks of MINOTAUR by Phillip W. Simpson, US Only.
(3) International winners will receive a 5 eBooks of their
choice from books listed above.

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m9b-bday-4I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

Sacrifice by Cindy Pon #ReleaseDay @chapterxchapter, @CindyPon @Month9Books

Release Day Celebration: Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon with Giveaway

sacrificerdc

 

Welcome to the Release Day Celebration for

Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

 

Happy Book Birthday, Cindy!

 

SacrificeCover

 

Sacrifice, the sequel to Serpentine, plunges Skybright into the terrifying underworld where demons are bred and whisks her up to the magnificent Mountain of Heavenly Peace where the gods dwell.

Stone is stripped of his immortal status and told to close hell’s breach, which mysteriously remains open, threatening mortals.

Zhen Ni, Skybright’s former mistress and friend, has been wed to the strange and brutish Master Bei, and finds herself trapped in an opulent but empty manor. When she discovers half-eaten corpses beneath the estate, she realizes that Master Bei is not all that he seems.

As Skybright works to free Zhen Ni with the aid of Kai Sen and Stone, they begin to understand that what is at risk is more far-reaching then they could ever have fathomed.

add to goodreads

Sacrifice (Serpentine #2) by Cindy Pon
Publication Date: September 27, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

 

excerpt

Stone pulled her into his arms then. Surprised, she resisted, before submitting to his embrace. He had never overstepped boundaries since taking her captive, and she knew when he did touch her on rare occasion, it was for a reason. His armor made no noise when he moved, and when she pressed both hands to his chest, she felt a tunic beneath her fingers. Soft and worn.

The immortal was truly never as he appeared.

“You will see,” Stone said as he tightened his arms around Skybright’s waist, clasping her close like a lover.

It was unexpected, both thrilling and terrifying; his usual warmth felt uncomfortably hot against her skin.

Then Stone leaped off the cliff edge.

A strangled scream tore from Skybright’s throat, but the sudden rush of air snatched it away in an instant, and she couldn’t draw enough breath to even gasp as they plummeted toward the lake far below.

 

OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

 

Serpentine-Cover

 

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

add to goodreads

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Chapters | Indiebound | Kobo | TBD | Google Play | iTunes

 

About-the-Author2

cindyponauthorcolor2

 

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. Her most recent novel, Serpentine (Month9Books, 2015), is a Junior Library Guild Selection and received starred reviews from School Library Journal and VOYA. The sequel, Sacrifice, releases this September. WANT, a near-future thriller set in Taipei, will be published by Simon Pulse in summer 2017. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Learn more about her books and art at http://cindypon.com.

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Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

 

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 I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl

THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF By Charles Day #CoverReveal #FridayReveals #Month9Squad #Month9Books

Today Charles Day and Month9Books are
revealing the cover and first chapter for the Bram Stoker Award Winning
THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF, which releases October
18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers
to receive a eGalley!!

On to the reveal! 

A quick note from the author:
As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time itself, its intent not born of goodness. Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching up the town’s pumpkins and why. Unfortunately, as with all great detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . . The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief. Nick fears the legend as he embarks on the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high price.
 
When I fist saw the cover, I was blown away at just how cool and creepy it was. I mean, it’s almost identical to the vision I had of the evil legendary character who shows up and a new town every year for Halloween. As an artist myself, I really dig all the colors and inks. Kudos and congrats to the artist. You rock, buddy. 

 

Title: THE
LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF
Author: Charles Day
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N
|
TBD
|
Goodreads
As the townsfolk sleep, something creeps
into the neighborhood. Hidden in shadows, its presence is as old as time
itself, its intent not born of goodness.
Nick, a teenager who fancies himself a
detective, wakes to find his carved masterpiece missing. Now a mystery is
afoot, and Nick has his first assignment, to find out who or what is snatching
up the town’s pumpkins and why.
Unfortunately, as with all great
detectives, obstacles stand in Nick’s way—the neighborhood bully and his
cronies, and the strange old lady and her dog who share the run-down house at
the end of Nick’s block. As Nick investigates, an urban legend unravels . . . .
The Legend of The Pumpkin Thief.
Nick fears the legend as he embarks on
the most dangerous adventure of his young life. Collecting clues, getting ever
closer to the true nature of evil, he learns that curiosity comes with a high
price.

 

“Charles
Day’s The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief should be every Halloween-crazy kid’s
favorite book–and a lot of us adults will love this wonderful tale as well.
Part mystery, part fantasy, and part perfect Halloween scary story, it all adds
up to 100% sheer delight. Bravo to intrepid young detective Nick, that
black-suited Pumpkin Thief, and Charles Day for putting them together in this
sweet-‘n’-spooky novella.”
~Lisa Morton,
four-time Bram Stoker Award winner and author of The Halloween Encyclopedia.

 

Excerpt

Chapter OneNick sniffed the cold air that had started to settle in and around Chesterville, New York, his quaint, upstate hometown located in the Catskill Mountains. Halloween was one day away, a Friday this year. Nick looked forward to the holiday, one of his favorites, next to Christmas, of course. However, today he had something he enjoyed even better: a great mystery.

Nick flipped through the final pages of yet another mystery novel that fed his mind with exciting characters and great plots. As he sat in bed with his new favorite book held in his sweaty palms, the earth could have exploded into smithereens, his house pulled from its foundation by a tornado—it didn’t matter what catastrophe might occur at this moment; Nick found himself fully immersed in the final chapter with his favorite characters.

He loved stories about missing people, crazed or degenerate criminals intent on doing their victims harm, or a detective two clues away from capturing his suspects.

Although he was only twelve, Nick had already completed a good number of mystery novels in his short life. He kept his own personal collection in a large cardboard box on a shelf in his closet, safe above wooden hangers holding football jerseys, dyed T-shirts, and ripped blue jeans, and he was about to add this latest mystery to his library. Just a few pages to go and he would know what these characters were up to … until he heard a voice from downstairs.

“Nicky, time for dinner! I’m not going to call you again,” his mother yelled up the stairs, apparently for the second time. Yes, nothing interrupted his concentration when he neared the end of a good mystery book—except his mom, with her threatening voice.

Nick’s mother was not unlike other mothers in the neighborhood. He had some friends whose moms were the same when it came to gathering their families for dinner, but tonight was not the night. He wanted to finish the final pages before stepping back into reality.

“I’ll be down in a minute, Ma!” Nick screamed back, but his eyes still focused on the book. Sure, he knew he’d be in trouble if he didn’t heed her call. Dad would eventually come upstairs and yell at him for not showing up at the table on time. So he bookmarked the page, took a quick peek at himself in the mirror on his way out of his room, admired the short blond hair, blue eyes, and thin physique—still looking good, guy—then quickly ran downstairs to join his family.

As Nick walked into the dining room, he saw Samantha, his younger sister, still ten but going on sixteen, already seated at the table with a generous portion of meat and potatoes
falling over the edge of her plate. Her dark hair, pulled up into pigtails, bobbed as she inhaled the aromas. And, coming out from the kitchen with freshly baked dinner rolls, was Mom.

“Sit down, Nicky,” Mom said, passing him by while the smell from those warm rolls filled his nostrils and made his mouth water.

As Nick suspected, Mom, adorned in a silk blouse, yellow skirt, and high heels, was dressed as if she’d just stepped out of one of those beauty magazines scattered about the house. However, he focused on those dinner rolls she’d placed on the table. He had to have one. As he went to grab a roll, Samantha’s annoying voice short-circuited his growing appetite to savor the warm goodness.

“Glad you could make it, snot-face,” she said, smiling at Nick.

There she was, in all her glory, his pigtailed brat of a sister.

Nick’s appetite suddenly disappeared. He stared at Samantha, who continued to smile, and wondered how … how he could make his sister’s life miserable at that very moment.

“That’s it, sis. Fill up on all that food you got there on your plate so you can keep getting nice and fat, because—”

“Ma!” Samantha yelled.

“Knock it off, Nicholas. Leave your sister alone and let her eat,” Mom said.

Of course, Samantha screaming was always his fault. Whether or not his sister was wrong didn’t matter; it seemed that he’d be the guilty one. In fact, Nick knew that even if she stood on the dinner table and kicked the plates full of food to the floor, with his parents witnessing the whole event, he’d still be the guilty one, accused of making her do it.

“Yeah, okay … I know it’s my fault. Even though she called me snot-face, I’m the one who’s guilty.” Nick gestured, using his hands to show his frustration. “Whatever.”

Nick watched his father come in while he argued.

“I don’t care much who’s at fault; what I want is for everyone to stifle it and eat your food … understood?” He sat down at the head of the table.

“Ma, have a seat and join us.” He looked to his left. “Nick and Samantha, not another word out of you two, or you’re both grounded.”

That’s what Nick wanted to hear—fairness. His dad was harsh when it came to disciplinary things, but he also was fair. Nick could reason with him on occasion, and he liked that.

“Oh, by the way,” his father said, looking confused, “I was coming in from the rain and noticed the jack-o’-lantern on the steps out front is missing. Anybody know where it went?”

He knew his dad wanted an answer from him, by the stare he sent deep into Nick’s eyes. The Stare of Death!

Nick felt singled out again. Sure, Dad, blame it on me. Score another win for Sam.

Nick heard the drops of water as they exploded on the roof. Loud tapping sounded against the windows from the windswept rain. Halloween is tomorrow. Maybe one of the local punks in the neighborhood took it to use as a flying projectile. I don’t know.

Nick figured that since eggs were hard to come by on Halloween, especially for kids his age, it had to be a teenager who’d stolen their pumpkin to toss around instead. That would make a nice mess on some unsuspecting neighbor’s driveway.

Then it hit him. Here was his chance to find out who may have taken the carved-out pumpkin and, just maybe, assist in the apprehension of the punk. After eating most of his dinner, Nick excused himself from the table and ran up to his room to gather a few items.

He shut his door, surprised his parents didn’t question his early departure from their nightly dinner ritual. Not even an evil eye glanced his way from his mom. That had certainly made him feel better. No need to get on Mom’s bad side.

There was another good reason to venture out and start his investigation: to be far away from his sister.

She was trouble.

Besides, there was a mystery to solve, the case of the missing pumpkin, and he figured he’d start by checking to see if any of his neighbors were missing their pumpkins.

The new mystery reminded him of the stories he’d heard among his classmates: the urban legend of the Pumpkin Thief. He’d cut out an article about this legend from the school’s newsletter a few years ago, when he’d first heard the story, intrigued by the creepiness of it all.

Nick wanted to read the article again. He went to his desk and rummaged through his stack of papers until he located the piece of tattered print, written by some kid, a Jeffery Beamer, in the Journalism Club. He’d certainly done his research on the urban legend. Nick re-read the whole thing while standing.

“Legend of the Pumpkin Thief, by Jeffery Beamer.

“One thing that truly amazes me is urban legends. I’ve heard a few good ones over the years, some from watching TV, others from Googling urban legends. So when some of my older friends in school shared with me the Pumpkin Thief legend, I just had to do a little bit of research. And this is what I found.

” Legend has it that around Halloween, this evil creature, the Pumpkin Thief—a tall, green-bean-thin figure in a black suit and large, orange tie, with a massive orange pumpkin for a head and carved-out eyes, nose, and jagged mouth—would sneak into a town of his choosing and snatch up the pumpkins at night. He’d collect as many as he could hold, then he’d carry them away to a secret location.

“Why did he snatch up all the pumpkins? Well, my dear readers, folklore said it had to do with him trying to stop the townsfolk from using them to ward off evil spirits. You see, without the pumpkins to protect their homes, they were prey to all the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that float around on Halloween, having fun on the one night when they get to celebrate all things horror. They run amok and frighten trick-or-treaters. It’s their night, and the Pumpkin Thief does what he can to allow them to have fun on this special night.

“Now, although the urban legend has been discredited, I was able to retrieve some stories from people who said they have evidence that he is indeed real.

“It appears that a few local towns had confirmed that this Pumpkin Thief visited them. They had their pumpkins stolen, and on Halloween night, weird things happened to a few of the townsfolk. Some said they saw ghosts peering into their homes through the windows. One person claimed that floating chased about his bedroom Another said his doorbell kept ringing, but no one was there. I even found a few photos from a nearby town that showed strange, large, orb-type lights floating above their homes on Halloween night.

Of course, experts discredited these allegations. It seems no one had concrete evidence of a Pumpkin Thief caught red-handed grabbing pumpkins; nonetheless, the legend continues. Which town will be next?

Nick stopped reading. He had enough to go on. One missing pumpkin certainly did not qualify as a visit from the Pumpkin Thief. But it was kind of cool, getting all worked up the night before the holiday, a special holiday devoted to celebrating evil and dead things. And the article intrigued him. Maybe I should look into this some more, find out who else might have been visited by this legend since Jeffery wrote the article. I need to track down this kid. I’m sure he’s got more to tell.

He replaced the article on the pile of papers and went to pack his jacket pockets with all the detective tools he’d need for tonight: a flashlight, cell phone, and a small pair of binoculars. Those were all he had, so far. He’d ordered some other items out of one of his detective comic books, but they hadn’t shipped yet. He loved all the detective gadgetry!

He knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. He wanted to be a detective with the police department. He wasn’t sure how to get there, but between his parents, teachers, and those guidance counselors they had in the big high school he’d be eventually attending, he’d find his way. Once he had the title of detective, and access to all that high-tech gadgetry he’d seen on his favorite TV shows, he’d be happier than an ant in a picnic basket.

And now that his family’s pumpkin had gone missing, most likely stolen, he’d been given the perfect opportunity for an early taste of detective work. Just the thought of it excited him as he began preparations for tonight’s quick investigation.

Nick sat on his bed for a moment longer, still imagining how, one day, he’d succeed at what he wanted to do. Detective work. The girl. The cars. The life.

Nick had to stop thinking so much about the future and instead concentrate on solving the mystery afoot. He already had an idea about who may have put their grubby hands on his pumpkin. Lou, the bully of his neighborhood! He stood and walked out of his room, closing the door behind him, then to the top of the stairs. But when he approached the top step, he saw his evil little sibling with the pigtails at the bottom, looking straight up at him.

Samantha put both hands on her hips and smiled. “Where are you going? I’m telling.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me, Sam. What is your problem? You’re ten, but sometimes you act like a spoiled baby. Do you really hate me that much?”

Nick hoped a little guilt would soften his sister up, and possibly keep her from saying anything to their parents. She seemed to have a relentless desire to make his life a living mess.

For real.

“You’re playing stupid detective again, right?” She smiled, her arms folded. “Well, you’re going to need me if you want to solve a mystery because I know how to be a real detective.” She continued to smile while blocking Nick’s exit.

He knew her motive. She wanted to follow her big brother through a night of detective work, a complete gathering of clues, and hopefully witness a crime get solved through the quick actions of her detective brother.

He also figured she’d tell all her friends that her older brother could solve any crime that dared to enter her neighborhood. He could see it in her eyes. “Yeah, sure. Get your coat and let’s go. It’s getting dark out.”

Nick wasn’t the least bit happy about having to drag Samantha along, but he didn’t want her telling her friends and their parents any lies about his motives. Besides, she might be able to help keep an eye on things.

***

Nick and Samantha left the house together, first telling his parents he was taking his sister across the street to his friend’s house. He knew they would’ve noticed Samantha missing, with her always under their feet.

As they crossed the street, Nick took out his flashlight. He directed its yellow beam to his neighbors’ stoops and porches in search of pumpkins. He pointed the light at each home, every porch that may have displayed a pumpkin, as he walked farther down his street, Samantha by his side.

He was having trouble getting a clear view. Although the rain had stopped, a misty fog had taken over, reflecting the beam of his flashlight back into his eyes. That made it difficult for him to check for pumpkins, even with some porch lights on. But as far as he could tell, none of the houses had any pumpkins on their porches, either. That bothered him.

Eventually he made it to the last house on the left, the home of Mrs. Needlewhitter, an eighty-seven-year-old widow who hated children. Nick knew she was a mean old lady, and he usually did his best to steer clear of her. Tonight was different. He needed to check her porch, just like he’d checked the others.

Nick slowly approached the gate, then jumped back in sheer fright, pulling his sister to the ground with him. Baxter, the old lady’s German Shepherd, slammed up against the fence, barking, snarling, and showing off his white canines.

Samantha cried and screamed, “I want to go home!”

Her loud voice made the dog bark even more.

“Come on, sis, let’s go. He can’t hurt you. He’s behind the fence,” Nick said, lifting her up off the wet grass that left a fresh, green stain on the knees of her white pants. He shined his flashlight on Mrs. Needlewhitter’s porch, noticing a few smashed pumpkins by her bottom stoop.

Could that be it? Had he found the culprit? An eighty-seven-year-old, half-crippled, almost blind, gray-haired … pumpkin thief?

Baxter stood on his hind legs, his massive front paws hanging over the top of the gate, snarling and barking at Nick as he came closer for a better look. He shined his flashlight in Baxter’s eyes, turning them red as blood, reminding him of a movie he’d seen last week on the Chiller Channel about this dog gone bad, evil incarnate, determined to do harm to those who’d messed with him while he was still a pup.

Nick shook this thought from his head and, instead, focused his attention on the front porch.

The porch light turned on.

“What’s going on out there, Baxter boy? You see trespassers, is that it?” Mrs. Needlewhitter yelled through the screen door. “Get ’em, boy. Rip ’em to shreds. Dirty rat punks.”

Nick couldn’t understand why she said what she did, but he wasn’t waiting around to find out what would happen next. He grabbed hold of his sister and ran across the street, not looking back as they sprinted home. He still heard the old lady’s dog, barking in the distance.

When they reached their house, Nick walked his sister up the front porch steps, and then opened the door. He gave his tearful sister a nudge inside. “Go, and don’t say a word to Mom or Dad, you hear?”

She didn’t look back or reply as she walked indoors.

He quickly shut the door, then sat down on his front steps to think of what he needed to do next. He’d found a few broken and smashed pumpkins, and Mrs. Needlewhitter might just be the pumpkin culprit, but why?

How?

How could she manage to sneak around and grab all those pumpkins? Or could this be the work of Lou, the bully? Or worse. Has the Pumpkin Thief chosen this town for this Halloween? My town? Now Nick had even more reason to find this Jeffery Beamer.

In the interim, Nick knew he had to gather some evidence, so he thought up a plan, a great plan on how he’d get closer to those pumpkins scattered about Mrs. Needlewhitter’s yard. This was going to be his first real detective work, and he knew deep inside that he was so ready to accomplish the task.

 

 

Charles Day is the Horror Writer
Association’s Mentor Program Chairperson, Co­-Chair for the NY/LI Chapter, and
a member of the HWA Library committee. He is also a member of the New England
Horror Writers Association, the American Library Association, and the Young
Adult Library Services Association.
He is also the Bram Stoker Award®
nominated author of the YA novel, THE LEGEND OF THE PUMPKIN THIEF. He’s also
published his first adult novel DEEP WITHIN and the first book in his
Adventures of Kyle McGerrt trilogy, a YA western heroic fantasy, THE HUNT FOR
THE GHOULISH BARTENDER, and his first co­authored novel with Mark Taylor,
REDEMPTION
His forthcoming publications and
projects in development for 2014 include a comic book series
based on the ADVENTURES OF KYLE McGERRT
trilogy, his first middle­ grade series, THE
UNDERDWELLERS, and his third YA novel,
IMMORTAL FAMILY.
On the publishing business side of
things, Charles is the owner of Day Media and Publishing in New York, which
houses the successful imprints, Evil Jester Press, Evil Jester Comics, and
Hidden Thoughts Press (mental wellness collections,)
He’s also an artist and illustrator, who
is passionate about creating the many characters he’s brought to life in his
published, or soon to be published works. You can find out more about his
upcoming writing projects, check out his illustrations and art, or find out
what he’s cooking up next with that evil dude­in­the­box, the evil Jester, by
visiting his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/charles.day.92

 

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I love this quote, Diana
“I’m wondering what to read next.” — Matilda, Roald Dahl