I Am (Sharing)

Hello people!

Do you know those mom moments, the ones where you discover secret things about your child by accident or sheer dumb luck? Sometimes, those shiny, new revelations scare you or make you nervous. Sometimes, they melt all your insides into a gooey mess. Those times, you want to share with the world how sweet or brave or kind (listen, you people who are tired of reading stories about kids on social media, just suck it up! You’re about to read another one.) your little man or lady is. Well, I here’s one of many, many moments I’ve had, and dammit, I’m sharing.

I Am by Rhys Vroman

I am crazy and energetic

I wonder who will win election year

I hear my dog barking

I see darkness

I want a Pikachu

I am crazy and energetic

I pretend to be a wizard

I feel happy to climb a tree

I touch a portal

I worry when the world will end

I cry when a dog or cat dies

I am crazy and energetic

I understand when my mom tells me to clean up

I say God is real

I dream about creepy things I don’t think of

I try to listen

I hope I don’t grow up fast

I am crazy and energetic

 

 

 

 

Gypsy Love Release Day!

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Gypsy Love EB2

Gypsy Love

Angela McPherson

Lynn Vroman

Publication Date: June 28, 2016

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Two centuries ago, Adrian vowed to seek revenge against the Gypsy woman who bound his spirit for eternity. Despite how far under the dirt Miryah Kotorara’s bones lay, he won’t stop tormenting the Kotorara bloodline. The person doesn’t matter, only the name.

Until her.

Dr. Mia Kotorara has spent the last ten years trying to forget her Gypsy heritage. Ostracized by her family and emotionally damaged, Mia throws herself into her work to fill the void. She forgets everything from her past—except for the man who solely exists in her dreams.

When reality and dreams collide, Adrian and Mia find something they never expected. Love.

Magic will bring them together, but it may not be enough to mend Mia’s broken heart and Adrian’s lust for revenge.

The Kotorara curse is never satisfied.

As the curse threatens everything they have overcome, Adrian and Mia must fight to save what matters most—each other.

Goodreads/Amazon

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Excerpt:

Their routine never changed. Smack the alarm clock for fifteen more minutes of grunting, snoring sleep. Grumble when the contraption bleeped its nauseating music again. Shower, wake the children in the next room, eat some sugary swill, and leave for a day of school or work. Day, after day, after day.

If I hadn’t already hated these rotting people, their boring lives would’ve put me over the edge.

Unfortunately, my life, or lack thereof, mirrored theirs. An apparition only had so much to do to fill the time. My routine never changed, either, not for over two hundred years. Yes, the families would turn into other families as generations progressed—I lost count of how many had passed—but they were all from the same insane bitch of an ancestor. I wasn’t too particular. All they required was the right name.

The little things kept my sanity. Push the clock out of reach. Adjust the water until it grew frigid or scalding, depending on my mood. If I were really on point, I dumped that slop they shoveled into their mouths every morning onto the floor for the mangy dog. So what if these specific Gypsies hadn’t cursed me. A curse, I might add, undeserved. Two hundred years built enough anger to spread vengeance without prejudice.

Pathetic, but those little things were all I had. Not much else to occupy my time, and as any good haunt would do, I followed the man, Luca, to the city after he dropped his children off at school–every day.

I wouldn’t have been a decent ghost if I hadn’t at least tried to heave him into oncoming traffic as he scurried to his custodian job. I’d been practicing that trick for years, coming so close a few times. Once I perfected it, the push would probably be at the back of the wanker’s grandson. Hell, great-grandson. Unlike them, I had eternity on my side. But one day, a few of the sodding Gypsies would decorate the windshield of a city bus.

Not today, though. Luca weaved around the crowd while I slinked through it, body after body. The beastly man tended to hurry, always late due to his nightly drinking binges, and I enjoyed tripping him up in his rush, a skill I had mastered. A millisecond of physical contact might not get anyone smacked with a speeding car, but stumbling in a hurry irritated even the most patient person, which Luca wasn’t.

“Christ!” He grabbed a lamppost in time to save his face from the pavement. “Knock your shit off. I ain’t got time for it today.”

To an outsider, the bloated man appeared as if he spoke to himself. But I knew better.

“Well, good thing for you I’ve plenty of time for us both,” I answered him. Even though he couldn’t hear me, we’d had plenty of conversations over the years, as I had with his father, and his father before him. I used to rage, scream until my voice grew hoarse. Not a blooming soul ever gave any indication they knew I existed. To answer now became habit, needing to speak to him as if I had a voice left in the world.

Unfortunately, I’d become as much a part of this heathen family as every other bastard whelped by the likes of a Gypsy bitch. My story became an heirloom, passed from generation to generation. The angry ghost of Miryah Kotorara’s curse. No one had the ability to see me, much less hear a damn word I had to say. Bad luck, a faulty alarm clock, a stumble on nothing, all of it blamed on something none of them really believed in. Me.

In truth, no one believed in me except for maybe Luca, probably the reason I chose him to annoy instead of his brother this generation. What good were all my efforts if the person I haunted thought me a fantasy? I was a curse to a god who didn’t exist for the rest of the family. My attempt to scare, kill, or maim them in some way ended up being part irritation, part fun story to repeat at dinner parties.

Even vapor had pride, and the Kotorara clan stomped on it any chance they had.

Luca straightened his jacket and mumbled curses as the crosswalk light blinked to proceed. Oh, to have the power to push his fat, greasy body into a lorry. I swiped at his back, my hand disappearing through his skin and blubber.

One day, you tosser.

As soon as we hit the curb, Luca stopped. If I were matter, I’d have rammed into his back. Instead, I whooshed through his body. Times like these, I was grateful for the lack of senses, not particularly fond of body odor, sweat, and soft man flesh.

“Well, come on, then. Move your bloody arse.”

Even if he could hear, I doubt he would have listened. Luca directed his attention to a sleek building in front of us, a scowl twisting his lips.

I followed his gaze, frustrated as if I were the one late for work. “What has your attention, fat man?” My eyes landed on a woman who focused on the building, her hair so dark it almost shined blue. Her slim shoulders stiffened before she turned—and saw me.

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Artificial by Jadah McCoy!

Curiosity Quills is excited to announce the release of Artificial (The Kepler Chronicles, 1), by debut author, Jadah McCoy. Artificial is a new adult Science Fiction.

Artificial

She struggles to feel human.

In 2256, the only remnants of civilization on Earth’s first colonized planet, Kepler, are the plant-covered buildings and the nocturnal, genetically spliced bug-people nesting within them: the Cull. During the day, Syl leaves her home in the sewers beneath Elite City to scavenge for food, but at night the Cull come looking for a meal of their own. Syl thought gene splicing died with the Android War a century ago. She thought the bugs could be exterminated, Elite city rebuilt, and the population replenished. She’s wrong.

Whoever engineered the Cull isn’t done playing God. Syl is abducted and tortured in horrific experiments which result in her own DNA being spliced, slowly turning her into one of the bugs. Now she must find a cure and stop the person responsible before every remaining man, woman, and child on Kepler is transformed into the abomination they fear.

He struggles not to.

For Bastion, being an android in the sex industry isn’t so bad. Clubbing beneath the streets of New Elite by day and seducing the rich by night isn’t an altogether undesirable occupation. But every day a new android cadaver appears in the slum gutters, and each caved in metal skull and heap of mangled wires whittles away at him.

Glitches—androids with empathy—are being murdered, their models discontinued and strung up as a warning. Show emotion, you die. Good thing Bastion can keep a secret, or he would be the next body lining the street.

He can almost live with hiding his emotions. That is, until a girl shows up in the slums—a human girl, who claims she was an experiment. And in New Elite, being a human is even worse than being a Glitch. Now Bastion must help the girl escape before he becomes victim to his too-human emotions, one way or another.

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About the Author

JadahMcCoy

[Website] [Facebook] [Twitter] [Goodreads]

Jadah currently lives in Nashville, TN and works as a legal coordinator. When not babysitting attorneys, she can be found juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki – it’s always a toss up when she fantasizes).

She grew up in rural Arkansas, yet can still write good and sometimes even wears shoes! She did date her first cousin for a while but they decided against marriage for the sake of the gene pool.

Her true loves are elephants, cursing, and sangria – in that order. If you find an elephant that curses like a sailor whilst drinking sangria, you’re dangerously close to becoming her next romantic victim – er, partner.

She cut her writing teeth on badly written, hormone-driven fanfiction (be glad that’s out of her system), and her one true dream is to have wildly erotic fanfiction with dubious grammar written about her own novels. Please make her dreams come true.

Dodging Trains by Sunniva Dee!

Dodging Trains
Sunniva Dee
Publication date: March 29th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

I was twelve when a stranger at a train station taught me the meaning of ugly. He forced himself on me and threatened to kill my family if I told.

I stayed silent and the ugliness grew.

Now, that word rolls in film clips through my mind. All I’ve done since my best friend, Keyon Arias, left town is cement how ugly I am. Ugly on the inside—deep down to my core. On the outside… I am a Vixen. I flash men a smile and make them moan out pleasure I control.

Not them. Never them.

After five years of being away, my beautiful boy has come back to town for his father’s masquerade ball. He’s different. Hard muscle supersedes the skin and bone of his once boyish frame. One thing hasn’t changed though: the murderous look in his eyes when he slaughters his opponents. In the ring, I see the bullied boy, all grown up, dominating in ways he couldn’t in high school.

He’s the mayor’s son. The rising MMA fighter. The beautiful one.

I’m not the Paislee Cain of before, not the sweet girl he once knew, the one who chased away his bullies. I’m the town slut. The dirty girl whose shame will never fade no matter how many men I use. He’d disown what I’ve become.

Because beautiful can never love ugly.

Goodreads / Amazon

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EXCERPT:

I’ve been on a one-track rail to landing Paislee in my bed since she got off the plane. Not that it’s been planned, but I convinced her that Pizza Pazza in Tampa is better than Mamma Lucia’s in Calceth. I told her about Simon during dinner, one thing led to another, and here I am unlocking the door to my duplex and letting her enter first.

She hasn’t commented on how we took my car from her hotel, how she’s basically dependent on me and my whims. But hey, I’m fucked too; it wasn’t my choice to have someone fill my head, and I didn’t ask that person to come to Florida.

We haven’t talked about tomorrow’s schedule, but I’m going to the rich dude’s house with her. He could be a total freak for all I know, so she’s not facing him alone.

“Oooh,” she whispers through a reverent puff of air like she’s never seen a cat before. Simon’s playing it up too, slinking around the corner with all the grace in the universe, stroking the doorjamb with a hip before he meanders over to us. “He’s soooo beautiful.”

“He’s just a regular old black street cat,” I say, but by the wink she shoots me, she doesn’t buy it. She read me back when too. “’Kay, fine: Simon’s awesome. Straight up the best pelt ever.”

“Pelt? You ass,” she giggles as she pets him from the top of his head and down the length of his body to his tail. Simon lifts it, happy. Any minute now, he’ll crank the volume on his purr-machine.

“Wow, he purrs loud.”

And there. For a cat, he’s being unexpectedly predictable.

“He loves the ladies,” I say, which makes her giggle more. I love to make her giggle. When she stands up again, I pull her in with one arm, fingers splayed across her spine. Firm breasts press against me, and I groan a little.

She puffs another laugh, all Simon’s fault. He’s gotten to the part of the agenda where he’s going to cramp my style. His purrs reach us from the floor, and he’s scissoring in and out between both of our legs.

“Never mind him. Look at me,” I whisper. Let my thumb and forefinger slide over her chin. The amusement recedes from her eyes when she sees that I mean business. I’m hardening. She yelps. Then she laughs out loud.

“Simon, quit it!” I say, exasperated, and bend to unhook his claws from the fabric over her knees. “I’m sorry. You see how it is now, right?
Simon’s the ass in this house. I should sell him to the highest bidder. Fifty cents flat will do. Come to think of it—I’ve got fifty cents in my pocket,” I say, kissing her down the corridor. “I could pay someone to take him. ‘Perfectly good cat with a year’s worth of free cat food.’”

Obviously, I’m digging my own grave here. There’s no hot lovemaking when your girl’s laughing so hard she’s about to pee herself.

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Author Bio:

Between studies, teaching, and advising, Sunniva has spent her entire adult life in a college environment. Most of her novels are new adult romance geared toward smart, passionate readers with a love for eclectic language and engaging their brain as well as their heart while reading.

Born in the Land of the Midnight Sun, the author spent her early twenties making the world her playground. Southern Europe: Spain, Italy, Greece–Argentina: Buenos Aires, in particular. The United States finally kept her interest, and after half a decade in Los Angeles, she now lounges in the beautiful city of Savannah.

Sometimes, Sunniva writes with a paranormal twist (Shattering Halos, Stargazer, and Cat Love). At other times, it’s contemporary (Pandora Wild Child, Leon’s Way, Adrenaline Crush, Walking Heartbreak, and Dodging Trains, coming in late March 2016).

This author is the happiest when her characters let their emotions run off with them, shaping her stories in ways she never foresaw. She loves bad-boys and good-boys run amok, and like in real life, her goal is to keep the reader on her toes until the end of each story.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Instagram / Tsu.co


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Gypsy Love Cover Reveal!

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Untold Press is excited to share the cover of Gypsy Love, a paranormal romance by Angela McPherson and Lynn Vroman, coming in 2016! Want to receive book releases, giveaways, and other exciting Untold Press news first? Sign up for our newsletter today! Also, be sure to visit our website to discover more Untold Press books. Now, on to the exciting reveal!

Gypsy Love EB2

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Two centuries ago, Adrian vowed to seek revenge against the Gypsy woman who bound his spirit for eternity. Despite how far under the dirt Miryah Kotorara’s bones lay, he won’t stop tormenting the Kotorara bloodline. The person doesn’t matter, only the name.

Until her.

Dr. Mia Kotorara has spent the last ten years trying to forget her Gypsy heritage. Ostracized by her family and emotionally damaged, Mia throws herself into her work to fill the void. She forgets everything from her past—except for the man who solely exists in her dreams.

When reality and dreams collide, Adrian and Mia find something they never expected. Love. Magic will bring them together, but it may not be enough to mend Mia’s broken heart and Adrian’s lust for revenge.

The Kotorara curse is never satisfied. As the curse threatens everything they have overcome, Adrian and Mia must fight to save what matters most—each other.

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About the Authors:

Angela

Angela McPherson

Born and currently residing in Midland, Texas, Angela shuffles three busy children (not including her husband) all over the place. She works in a busy pediatric doctor’s office as a nurse during the day, and writes at night. She is addicted to coffee–who isn’t? And firmly believes chocolate can fix all–especially chocolate ice cream. She laughs a lot, often at herself and is willing to try anything once (she thinks). When Angela isn’t rushing kids around, working or writing, she’s reading. Other than life experience, Angela turns to a wide variety of music to help spark her creative juices. She loves to dance and sing, though her kids often beg her not to.

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads

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Lynn Vroman

Born in Pennsylvania, Lynn spent most of her childhood, especially during math class, daydreaming. The main result that came from honing her imagination skills was brilliantly failing algebra. Today, she still spends an obscene amount of time in her head, only now she writes down all the cool stuff.

With a degree in English Literature, Lynn used college as an excuse to read for four years straight. She lives in the Pocono Mountains with her husband, raising the four most incredible human beings on the planet. She writes young adult novels, both fantasy and contemporary.

Website/Facebook/Twitter/Goodreads/Wattpad

Freshman Year Freaks!

Untold Press is proud to present Freshman Year Freaks, the third and FINAL book in The Clanless Series by J.A. Campbell. For more Untold Press books, visit our website at http://www.untoldpress.com. Learn all book related news first by signing up for our newsletter!

Freshman Year Freaks

The Clanless, Book 3
By

J. A. Campbell

Genres: YA Urban Fantasy
Published: March 1st, 2016
Untold Press http://www.untoldpress.com

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Blurb:

The final book in the Clanless Series!
For four grueling years I looked forward to my freshman year of college. It should have been the best time of my life. Unfortunately, I never made it through the first month. Learning how to be a vampire became infinitely more important. Parties and classes and hanging out with my friends got set aside so I could learn how to fight, how to use my powers, and how to survive.

If the school of hard knocks wasn’t bad enough, the school of life decided to test me, too. I leave town and Alexander, the one guy I can’t stand to be around–or without, gets taken by the Sidhe to pay for our supposed crimes. Now its up to me to rescue him and get his elven relatives to leave us alone. Sounds easy right? Try it while you’re being stalked by the vampire who might have made you and a werewolf with a major superiority complex. My friends and I have been through a lot together and there hasn’t been anything we couldn’t overcome. But Freshman year might be more than we can handle…

Being a vampire sucks.

Price:
eBook: 3.99
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The Clanless Series:
Senior Year Bites

(Book, 1)

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Summer Break Blues

(Book, 2)

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Click to enter the FRESHMAN YEAR FREAKS GIVEAWAY

About the Author

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J.A. Campbell
Julie has been many things over the last few years, from college student to bookstore clerk and an over the road trucker. She’s worked as a 911 dispatcher and in computer tech support, but through it all she’s been a writer and when she’s not out riding horses, she can usually be found sitting in front of her computer. She lives in Colorado with her three cats, her vampire-hunting dog Kira, her new horse and Traveler-in training, Triska, and her Irish Sailor.She is the author of many Vampire and Ghost-Hunting Dog stories and the young adult fantasy series Tales of the Travelers. She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Dog Writers of America Association and the editor for Steampunk Trails fiction magazine.

Follow J.A. Campbell at the follow social media sites:

[Website]
[Blog]
[Blog]
[Facebook]
[LinkedIn]
[Twitter]
[Goodreads]

Excerpt:

“Not quite.”

Taking a deep breath, I tried again.

“Better, but you still lose the illusion when you walk.”

I sighed and, brow wrinkled with concentration, tried harder.

“You are hopeless.” Yoshi grabbed my arm before I could dodge and pulled me out of the house into the muggy night. The sounds of the city assaulted my ears.

Tires squealed and sirens wailed in the distance. It wasn’t late enough for the city to have quieted from the daytime rush.

I growled a protest, but he ignored me. Knowing from experience that I wasn’t strong enough to get away from my mentor, I ran when he did, dodging pedestrians who wouldn’t even notice our passing. Yoshi dragged me deeper into the city and I slowed to a stop when he let me. We stood on the corner of two busy streets. Exhaust filled the air as cars idled, waiting for the light to change. Horns blared as people tried to hurry in the congestion. Pedestrians skirted around us without appearing to notice that we were there–Yoshi’s powers, not mine.

“Strip.”

“What?” I glanced around, certain someone would have heard my yelp. People surrounded us. It wasn’t like we were in the forests of my home.

“You heard me. You can hide, but your illusions, to use one of your quaint phrases, suck. You need to be able to do both. Strip.” He turned his back. “No one can see you.”

Yoshi was a fair teacher, though much older and more powerful than he looked. I’d learned not to argue with direct orders.

Reluctantly, I took off my clothes and handed them to Yoshi when he held out his hand. I crossed my arms over my chest and looked around, feeling self-conscious.
“Okay, now convince me you’re wearing clothes. You have ten minutes before I drop the illusion.”

I muttered impolite words under my breath. Yoshi could hear, but he’d ignore me unless I spoke normally.

“You’re wasting time.”

Mostly.

I concentrated on picturing the outfit I’d just taken off. I visualized the way it looked, remembered the way the cloth felt against my skin, and prayed fervently to whoever might be listening to one young vampire that I’d be able to fool even Yoshi.

“Ready?” He turned around before I could answer and smiled. “Much improved. Now walk home without getting arrested.” He vanished before I could finish my protest.

Once I was sure he had left, taking my clothes and his reliable illusions with him, I cussed. The nearest pedestrians glanced at me and quickly walked away. I swore again, more quietly, but at least they hadn’t noticed my lack of real clothing.

Taking a deep breath, I took a few steps and looked around. No one so much as glanced at me. Either they were all lost in their own little world and avoided noticing to retain their sanity, or my illusion worked fine. Or both.

Encouraged, brow still furrowed in concentration, I headed back at a walk.
I made it back to Yoshi’s corner house without attracting too much attention and without getting arrested. He met me outside the front door of his small townhouse.

“Good job. Now go around through the back, put some clothes on, and meet me in the living room.”

His order seemed a little strange, but I was grateful to be able to go get dressed, so I didn’t argue. My room was on the second floor. I jumped to the ledge and slid my window open before climbing in. Yoshi had thrown my clothes on the bed, but I pulled on a fresh outfit and headed for the living room, wondering what he had in store for me next.

I stopped just outside of the living room, surprised and a little grateful that Yoshi had sent me around back first. However, I wasn’t sure if I should be insulted that he didn’t trust my abilities yet. Walking the rest of the way in, I watched Steph and Gage as they sat nervously on the couch. Yoshi sat across from them, a small, hungry smile on his lips. He wouldn’t hurt them, but they didn’t know that.

Steph twisted her hands, betraying her nerves. Gage sat so still he practically quivered.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about seeing my friends. It felt good to see them, but I wasn’t ready to face them again. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be ready. It was much easier having left my old life behind, but they had to be here for a reason. I wondered where Alexander was. If anyone should have been able to find me, it would have been him.

Taking pity on my friends, I walked farther into the room, scuffing my feet so I wouldn’t startle them.

“Meg!” Steph jumped to her feet and practically tackled me in her enthusiasm to hug me.

I hugged her back. “Hi.”

“Meg, how are you?” Steph released me.

“I’m all right. What are you doing here?” I wanted to ask where Alexander was, but I refrained.

Steph glanced at Gage. “Well, it’s Alexander…” She hesitated. “He’s missing. Or dead.”

Energy Reborn Release!

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Untold Press is proud to release Energy Reborn, the fourth and FINAL book of Lynn Vroman’s Energy Series. To learn more about Untold Press and our books, visit us at http://www.untoldpress.com

A Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy Series

Energy Reborn


The Energy Series, book 4
By

Lynn Vroman

Energy Reborn

Final book of The Energy Series

After the trauma from their final battle with Exemplar, Tarek is certain Lena is better off without him. She deserves a life without the baggage he carries. She deserves someone…real. As he fights alongside Oren in Exemplar, one thought keeps him sane: He didn’t let Lena go. He gave her an out.

Lena has spent the last eight months trying to move forward. She can’t think about Tarek; she has to raise fifteen-year-old Peter, who suffers from the same ghosts as her love. All she wants is to make Peter happy. But then Peter runs away to fight in Exemplar—again. This time is different. This time, Peter doesn’t come back.

Desperate, Lena reaches out to the one person able to help her, the person who needs saved, too.

Tarek.

For Lena, the only answer to saving those she loves is to finish what they started—end the Synod’s reign over Exemplar for good. She’ll not let Tarek or Peter hide behind a war anymore, even if it kills her.

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*Enter to Win a $20.00 Amazon Gift Card*

The entire Energy Series in sequence below. Click on image to purchase!

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About The Author

LVroom

Lynn Vroman
Born in Pennsylvania, Lynn spent most of her childhood, especially during math class, daydreaming. The main result that came from honing her imagination skills was brilliantly failing algebra. Today, she still spends an obscene amount of time in her head, only now she writes down all the cool stuff.

With a degree in English Literature, Lynn used college as an excuse to read for four years straight. She lives in the Pocono Mountains with her husband, raising the four most incredible human beings on the planet. She writes young adult novels, both fantasy and contemporary.

Follow Lynn Vroman’s Social Media Venues

[Website] [Facebook] [Twitter]
[Goodreads] [Amazon Author Page] [Wattpad]

Energy Reborn Excerpt

Crying didn’t bother him anymore.

Muffled sobs used to feel like weevils burrowing into his brain. He had wanted the cries to disappear, find a way to silence them so he’d have peace while killing. He hated it, yet understood where the despair came from. He didn’t take the truth that well either.

This world, his world, was full of people who weren’t real people.

That revelation caused a collective shock to infiltrate every home, every secret corner. Memories of families were manufactured lies. Parents had never existed for most. Childhood thoughts were a farce before the age of six, the median age for bodies the Creation Lab produced before implanting energy pilfered from other worlds. Most would never be able to have children. They were all biobots, synthetic carriers for strong souls.

Tarek learned how to tune out the grief a while ago, and the truth. Issues he only dwelled on when alone–when killing didn’t save him from his mind.

He adjusted his scope.

Yes, he could ignore the crying now. A perfect shot had that power.

Tarek lay on his stomach. Rooftop debris–broken syringes and jagged edges of crushed alcohol containers–dug through his sweatshirt. Sweat dribbled off his forehead to sting his eyes.

He ignored his discomfort as easily as the crying and flipped off the safety. Lights, never-ending strobes, bounced off buildings. Staring too long at the changing colors coming from billboard holograms and storefronts threatened a headache, but he managed to keep the jackasses in his sights.

Synod authority harassed a group of men on the street, demanding signed pardons most wouldn’t have. The elders considered everyone a traitor.

They were right.

People in this sector were guilty of blowing up the capital building and crashing the satellite feeds. Heterodox citizens fought when Oren asked eight months ago, with a promise of truth. Truth, most had come to realize, wasn’t such a great prize. Ignorance really was a gift.

Tarek had warned Oren not to tell them, not to reveal the true nature of how most citizens came to be. No Exemplian he had ever met wanted to find out their whole existence was a lie. But Oren believed differently. The man’s belief cost them an army. Stupid to tell a mass of people who already dreaded life–beaten down by having too many lives–that what they struggled with wasn’t even real.

Get it together.

None of that mattered. What mattered was getting a clear shot between the eyes. His finger hovered over the trigger, the sniper rifle firm in his grip. Zander’s rifle. His aim wasn’t as precise as Zander’s, but he did all right. Tarek had adopted the gun seven months ago when the Guide decided to go back to Earth.

No, don’t go there.

He couldn’t handle that part of his life–the part who went to Earth with Zander.

Lena.

No.

He peered into the scope.

The second an authority Protector pulled out his gallium cuffs, about to cinch them around the wrists of a man begging on his knees, Tarek shot. Before the other Protector could pull out his weapon, Tarek took him out too.

The deaths didn’t create a frenzy, not even when two energy orbs released from the Protectors’ bodies and sailed to the sky, ultimately finding their way into the apartment building where Tarek hid. The would-be victims dragged the useless bodies into the shadows, to the garbage incinerators hidden there. Exemplians in this sector had their turmoil to deal with, and what was left of the Synod against them. They weren’t cowards, though.

They refused to fight outright since the initial attack on the Creation Lab. But no one had ever complained when a mysterious bullet punctured the skull of an authority Protector. His shots seemed to wake up some of the citizens from a stupor, bringing them to action for a few minutes to get rid of the bodies. Tarek would take that; it’d be enough.

He refused to move from his spot. Where there were two, there were ten more. He searched the crowd through his scope, sweat turning his hoodie to soggy cotton against his back. There, right below the blank screens, were three more Protectors picking through the crowd to inspect the source of the commotion.

They plowed through braver citizens willing to stand in their path, tasing them. People dropped to the dirty pavement, their bodies spasming from the high voltages.

Tarek remained steady.

Three…

Two…

One…

Pop! Pop! Pop!

The crowd swallowed up the bodies as the Protectors’ energies raced into the building. For once, the noise quieted. All that echoed up to his spot was the distant hum of the incinerators, gobbling up bone and blood and flesh. Tarek squinted into his scope, his even breathing rhythmic, relaxing. No other authority assholes rushed the crowd.

A minute passed by.

Fifteen more followed.

No more targets were willing to meet his bullets.

Shame.

Five dead authority Protectors wasn’t even a dent in the grand scheme of things.

Plus side, those he’d killed wouldn’t be coming back for another go at life.

Their little army made sure of it eight months ago.

Tarek gave one more cursory search of the crowd in case any Protectors stepped from the shadows to scout the rooftops.
Nothing.
As he lowered his gun, a familiar dark blond mop coming toward this building caught his eye. He looked through his scope one more time.

Sonofabitch.

Not again.

Groaning, so he wouldn’t give in and shoot the boy in the leg for being a pain in the ass, Tarek pushed to his feet and stalked to the rusted metal door. Eight flights of stairs separated him from the boy who refused to keep his scrawny butt on Earth, where it was safe.

Peter. Dumb boy.

Dumb, brave, anger-filled boy.

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