Special First Look in A REAPER MADE: Rhys

We’re approximately 2 weeks away from release day for A REAPER MADE. I’m suddenly remembering that this is a real book, that real people will hopefully read and enjoy. Maybe my nerves are a little tight. Maybe I’m stress eating. Maybe just read this new little excerpt and let me know your thoughts…! 😀

Some context: This is part of Chapter 4. Grace, her mentor Tully, and best friend (and witch) Tessa visit a supernatural bar named Luther’s in order to meet one of Tully’s contacts. Luther’s is the big introduction to how this fictional supernatural world works. Grace’s mentor has had suspicions about souls being taken, so he’s called someone who can help. This is the introduction of Rhys, a Shapeshifter ally I had fun getting to know. Writing characters is such a unique process, their very beings coming to and sort of bossing you around with what they’ll do. Rhys is one of those characters. Hope you enjoy!

CHAPTER 4

Luther’s was dark and smoky, the shadows shifting as their owners got comfortable. Music played in the background while murmurs of conversation floated between the tables. Supernatural beings (supes) knew they were safe here; no dark magic or demons were allowed. Anyone else, however, was welcome to spend their money here, including the two vampires at the bar, a suspiciously hairy guy to the far right, and several others who appeared human but I knew would be anything but.

Inside Luther’s everyone got along, no matter how many of us went bump in the night. Tully said it was actually humans with their fairy tales and bedtime stories that made people think supes couldn’t get along. Like that old vampire versus werewolf stigma – provided they stuck to their own territories and didn’t attack each other, they had no beef. They were happy to ignore each other, while other supes got along just fine. We all knew that demons were the ones to fear.

A voice snapped me out of my people-watching. “Didn’t think you’d actually come, Tully.”

“Why is that?” Tully asked the tall shadow in front of us.

The voice became clearer as its owner stepped in front of us. “Reapers don’t spend a lot of time in bars.”

I looked up to see him standing at our table, a handsome man that had plenty of eyes following him to our table. The brown bomber jacket and navy henley shirt couldn’t hide his broad shoulders and chest. His dark hair fell in a neat sweep, trimmed on the sides and just tousled enough to be fashionable. Dark eyes flashed beneath his brows as he scanned the room over his shoulder. I was surprised at his good looks; most shifters chose not to stand out in crowds, instead choosing average and forgettable appearances. This guy would catch attention standing next to movie stars.

“Rhys,” Tully greeted him. “Have a seat.”

Rhys had already caught the waitress, a cold beer bottle in his left hand. He slid into the booth next to my mentor. He gave me a nod, but his eyes lingered on Tessa. “Hi there.”

She bobbed her head in greeting, more interested in the why than the who. “Hey.”

Rhys looked at Tully, motioning to Tessa. “How come you didn’t tell me about her?”

“I did,” Tully said, his reply short, “she is the witch.”

“Usually when they’re her age, they’re covered in warts,” Rhys said.

Tessa’s brown eyes narrowed over her drink. “Keep your comments to yourself and your tongue will stay in that shifty mouth.”

I bit my lip to keep from laughing, used to Tessa’s aggressive stance to strange men, supernatural or otherwise. Tessa had been around long enough not to trust just anyone, especially someone who could change their appearance at will. Rhys grinned at her, taking no offense at her statement. Talk about a heartthrob; his straight white teeth would’ve dazzled me had I been a living teenager.

“Thank you for meeting me here,” Tully said, bringing us back to the topic at hand. “If you don’t mind, I would like to dive right into why I needed to speak with you.”

“By all means,” Rhys said, his face becoming businesslike. “Did you bring what we discussed?”

Tully gave him a sharp nod, passed a blank yellow envelope to the shifter. I hadn’t even raised an eyebrow before Rhys slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. I didn’t miss Tessa’s nudge to my leg as we both wondered what the hell was in that envelope. It wasn’t like Tully to make sketchy deals; doubt began to build in my chest. Tully didn’t see my worried expression.

“What did you find out?” Tully asked, his voice so low we had to lean in to hear him.

Rhys shifted so that his back was to the outside of the booth to prevent outside listeners. His eyes flicked to us and back to Tully.

“It’s what you suspected,” he said. “Souls aren’t passing over. Half the state’s been deposed of Reapers and no one’s got a clue as to where they went.”

A gasp escaped me; I hadn’t known what to expect but that certainly hadn’t been it. Tully shot me an annoyed look before turning back to Rhys. Tully looked, for lack of a better word, puzzled. I’d never seen his face so curious or lost.

“Are you certain? I have noticed there are more living than not as of late,” he said. “Souls are not crossing over the way they should.”

“Couldn’t that be an overpopulation problem?” I asked, my eyes going back and forth on the men. “You know, make more Reapers and solve the problem?”

Rhys shook his head. “My girl ‘H’ is a solid resource. Says there’s been rumblings of a magical entity, something outside of the usual stuff. Could be someone’s harnessing power.”

“Like who?” Tessa butted in.

“Dunno.” Rhys shrugged. His eyes twinkled as he smirked at her. “Maybe witches.”

She scoffed at the dig. “Or a greedy shifter.”

Rhys almost smiled at her return, clearly enjoying the dynamic. Tully stuck his hand in the middle of the table to get between them.

“Now, now,” Tully said, “if we had to guess, I would insist on the obvious choice of a demon.”

A shadow seemed to come over our table, our expressions sour at the mere word. No one liked demons. Both the witch and shifter paused long enough to consider the Reaper’s statement. When the silence continued, Tully nodded to his confidante.

“Thank you for your help, Rhys,” Tully said.

Rhys drained his beer bottle and nodded, slipping out of the booth. “If you need anything else, you know where to find me. Ladies, here’s my number if you need anything. Anything at all.”

He dropped a piece of paper across the table and gave us a nod. He snuck in a wink to Tessa, who rolled her eyes. I looked down at the table to prevent Tully seeing my grin. Rhys made his way to the exit, slipping out the door without another glance.

The Haunting Season by Michelle Muto

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Be careful what you let in… The Haunting Season
Siler House has stood silent beneath Savannah’s moss-draped oaks for decades. Notoriously haunted, it has remained empty until college-bound Jess Perry and three of her peers gather to take part in a month-long study on the paranormal. Jess, who talks to ghosts, quickly bonds with her fellow test subjects. One is a girl possessed. Another just wants to forget. The third is a guy who really knows how to turn up the August heat, not to mention Jess’s heart rate…when he’s not resurrecting the dead. The study soon turns into something far more sinister when they discover that Siler House and the dark forces within are determined to keep them forever. In order to escape, Jess and the others will have to open themselves up to the true horror of Siler House and channel the very evil that has welcomed them all.

EXCERPT:

It was only when the crickets and frogs stopped that Jess awoke. She blinked, trying to adjust her eyes to the dark. She turned back over, expecting Allison to be either still sitting up, or asleep. But her bed was empty and Allison stood in front of the dresser, hands at her sides, staring at the mirror. Alarmed, Jess sat upright.

“It’s happening again,” Allison said.

“Huh?”

“The spirits. They’re back. I can see them.”

Jess rubbed her eyes as a spark of uncertainty and a moment’s worth of fear rustled somewhere deep inside her. “They’re there, in the mirror?”

“Yes.”

Jess got out of bed and tentatively stood next to Allison. She looked at the mirror, then behind her. Nothing. Uncertainty gave way to disappointment. The mirror cast back only the shadowy figures of Allison and herself, their faces made pale by the moonlight streaming into the room. They were alone, as far as Jess could tell.

Damn it! Why couldn’t she see the ghosts? Were they here? Disappointment gave way to a pang of envy.

“You don’t seem as upset as you were before,” Jess said. “If they’re back, aren’t you afraid they’ll take over? Possess you?” She wasn’t making fun of Allison. Something horrible had happened to her, and she was probably more sensitive to the supernatural than Jess was.

“Yes, I’m afraid,” Allison replied calmly.

The way Allison spoke seemed at odds with her words. The hairs on Jess’s arms tingled, but not because of any ghosts she couldn’t see. Right now, the only thing creepy in the room was Allison. The girl had been possessed, after all.

Allison turned her head to look at Jess, her expression unreadable in the shadows, even this close up. “He collects souls.”

Jess peered harder into the mirror, trying not to show Allison she was indeed afraid. “He? Who are you talking about?”

“He’s looking at you. I can’t make out what he’s saying. But see?” she pointed to the mirror. “He wrote his name.”

Fear and a healthy dose of agitation rose inside Jess. Fear, because someone staring at them from inside a mirror was downright scary. Agitated, because she couldn’t see anything, and Allison’s continual freak-outs were wearing on her. After a long day getting here, she was exhausted and just wanted to sleep.

“Allison, I don’t see anything! He? Who are you talking about?”

“Riley,” Allison whispered.

“Riley? Who’s Riley?”

Allison stood just as still as she had upon Jess’s wakening. “He lives here. With the others.”

“Others?” Jess stepped closer to the mirror, leaning against the dresser to get a better look. Her breath fogged it enough to reveal a single name, written backward: Riley.

Author Bio: 

MichelleMutoAuthorPicMichelle has always loved storytelling. When she was a child, her favorite stories were of monsters and things that lurked in the dark. Telling stories often frightened her classmates and got her into a lot of trouble with her teachers. They had no sense of humor.

As an adult, Michelle traded her love of writing for the corporate life where she was an IT professional. Today, she’s doing what she loves best – writing and storytelling.

Michelle grew up in Chicago, but currently lives in NE Georgia with her husband and their two dogs. She loves scary books, funny movies, sports cars, chocolate, dogs, and changes of season.

Links:
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Mailing list

Where to Buy:

Amazon US Kindle: http://amzn.to/17GZtd1
Amazon UK Kindle: http://amzn.to/1ctUVn1
Amazon US Paperback: http://amzn.to/12qa33l
Amazon UK Paperback: http://amzn.to/128a6gV

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/268309

Author Interview:

How did you come up with the idea for your book?
During a trip to Savannah, I visited the Sorrel-Weed house, which is reported to be Savannah’s most haunted house.
What is different about this book compared to others you’ve written?

For starters, The Haunting Season is New Adult. Secondly, the main characters are not supernatural beings.

Most unique or unusual research you’ve ever done for The Haunting Season?

Besides visiting the Sorrel-Weed house? Asking a former mortician about embalming methods in the early to mid 1900’s and how embalming and burial procedures have changed and why. It’s both fascinating and a bit gruesome.

What is the hardest part about writing?

Keeping my butt in the chair for as many hours as I need to per day. Resisting the urge to jump on the internet when I’m having difficulty with a scene.

If you could meet any author who is no longer living, who would it be?

Tough call. Edgar Allan Poe, probably. But I’d also like to meet Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock.

Can you tell us a little about your next project?

It’s a adult dark fantasy novel with action, castles, and gargoyles.  It’ll be out early this summer.

If you could do one thing over again in regards to writing, what would it be?

Write faster.

Vanilla or chocolate?

Chocolate.

Food you like the most? The least?

I tend to like Italian food the most. I can’t stand brussel sprouts or peas.

Favorite television show?

Supernatural

What weapon would you choose in the zombie apocalypse?

Harry Potter’s wand or maybe Dean Winchester. He’d be a formidable weapon against zombies, right? <grin>

What scares you?

Humanity. The way people treat others, animals, or the environment.

Tour Coordinator: Fae Books Tours
For information please view the website and use the Contact page to get in touch with Sarah Fae of Fae Books.

Michelle Muto: Don’t Fear the Reaper (Excerpt)

Guys, today I’m showcasing Michelle Muto! She’s been on the blog a few times with her previous works and she’s sharing out a special excerpt of her release, Don’t Fear the Reaper. Read the synopsis and excerpt – then go buy your copy with the links below! (Due to subject matter, this book is recommended for mature teens or older.)

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Synopsis:
Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace. But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.

When the demon offers Keely her ultimate temptation–revenge on her sister’s killer–she must determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, the reaper and demon have been keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true–that her every decision changes how, and with whom, she spends eternity.

Chapter One:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for they are with me.

I repeated my version of the psalm as I watched the ribbon of blood drift from my wrist. I’d hoped it would be a distraction—something to stop me from wondering what my sister’s dying thoughts had been. Exhaling slowly, I let the emptiness consume me.

Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.

Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven…

I told myself Jordan was gone, never coming back, but her memories continued to haunt me. I had no idea if there even was an afterlife. If God existed, I was convinced he had given up on me. Not once did I sense he’d heard a single one of my prayers. I wasn’t asking for the world—I only wanted to know if my sister was safe and at peace. What was so hard about that?

She should still be here. It wasn’t fair.

I’d been the difficult one—much more than Jordan. For a while, I’d even gotten into drugs. Mom and Dad had worried I’d get Jordan into drugs, too. But I wouldn’t. Not ever. Besides, that part of my life had been over long before Jordan’s death. A small gargoyle tattoo on my left shoulder was all that remained of my previous lifestyle.

Mom and Dad started treating me differently after Jordan’s funeral two months ago. She and I were twins, so I understood how hard it was for them to look at me and not see her. Sometimes, they wouldn’t look at me at all. Mom went to the psychiatrist, but no one asked if I needed to talk to someone about what happened. No one asked if I needed sleeping pills or antidepressants. Yeah, sure. Don’t give the former addict pills of any sort.

Not one person saw the all-consuming suffering that gnawed at my soul. Why couldn’t anyone see? Jordan had been more than my sister—she’d been my Samson, my strength. I would have done anything for her, and yet, I’d failed her. I wasn’t the one who’d killed her, but I might as well have been. How could I ever live with that? My heart had a stillness to it since her death.

I shall fear no evil.

I couldn’t very well recite the first part of Psalm 23 because it said I shall not want, and I did want. I wanted to go back in time. I wanted my sister back. Clearly, goodness and mercy were never going to be part of my life ever again. In my mind, I saw myself walking through the iron gates of hell with demons cackling gleefully all around.

I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?

Before I’d gotten down to cutting my wrist (I managed to only cut one), I’d taken a few swigs of Dad’s tequila—the good kind he kept in the basement freezer. I’d used another swig or two to chase down the remainder of Mom’s sleeping pills in the event I failed to hit an artery or vein. Then I’d set the bottle on the ledge of the tub in case I needed further liquid encouragement. Instead of using a knife or a razor, I attached a cutting blade to my Dad’s Dremel. The Dremel was faster, I reasoned. More efficient.

It would have been easier to OD, I suppose. But I felt closer to my sister this way, to suffer as she’d suffered.

I recited the line from Psalms 23 again. It had become my personal mantra.

The words resonated in my parents’ oversized bathroom. I’d chosen theirs because the Jacuzzi tub was larger than the tub in the hall bathroom. Jordan and I used to take bubble baths together in this same tub when we were little.

Innocence felt like a lifetime ago. I searched the bathroom for bubble bath but came up short. Soap might have made the laceration hurt more so it was probably just as well. Besides, the crimson streaming from my wrist like watercolor on silk was oddly mesmerizing.

The loneliness inside proved unrelenting, and the line from the psalms made me feel better. I prayed for the agony inside me to stop. I argued with God. Pleaded. But after all was said and done, I just wanted the darkness to call me home.

I tried not to think of who would find my body or who’d read the note I’d left. I blamed myself not only for failing Jordan, but for failing my parents, too.

My lifeline to this existence continued to bleed out into the warm water. Killing myself had been harder than I’d imagined. I hadn’t anticipated the searing fire racing through my veins. I reached for the tequila with my good arm but couldn’t quite manage. Tears welled in my eyes.

Part of me foolishly felt Jordan was here. The other part feared she wasn’t.

Give me a sign, Sis. Just one.

I imagined seeing my parents at my funeral—their gaunt faces, red-eyed and sleepless. How could I do this to them? Wasn’t the devastation of losing one child enough?

No. Stop. A voice in my head screamed. Don’t do this. Don’t. Please…

I shifted my body, attempted to get my uncooperative legs under me. I could see the phone on my parents’ nightstand. I could make it that far. Had to. The voice was right. I didn’t want to do this. I felt disorientated, dizzy. Darkness crept along the edges of my vision. Focusing became difficult. A sweeping shadow of black caught my attention. Someone stood in the bathroom—not my sister. A man. Had I managed to call 911? I couldn’t remember getting out of the tub. And why’d I get back in? Did I use a towel?

Mom is going to be pissed when she sees the blood I’ve tracked all over the bedroom carpet.

“I’m sorry,” I told the man in black.

“It’s okay, Keely. Don’t be afraid.” Not my father’s voice. It was softer, with a hint of sorrow. Distant. Fleeting. Later, I’d feel embarrassed about this, but for now I was safe from the nothing I’d almost become. My teeth clattered from the chill. My eyelids fluttered in time with my breaths. The tub water had turned the color of port wine. The ribbons, the pretty, red watercolor ribbons were gone.

Dull gray clouded my sight.

A voice whispered to me, and my consciousness floated to the surface again.

“—okay, Keely.”

Cold. So cold.

“I’m right here.”

There was no fear in me as the man bent forward, his face inches from mine. He was my father’s age, and yet strangely older. His eyes were so…blue, almost iridescent. The irises were rimmed in a fine line of black, and the creases etched at the corners reminded me of sunbeams as he gave me a weak smile. The oddly. Dressed. Paramedic. A warm hand reached into the water and cradled mine. My fingers clutched his. I sighed, feeling myself floating, drifting. Light—high and intense exploded before me. No! Too much. Too much! I shuddered and labored to catch my breath, but it wouldn’t come.

Finally, the comfort of darkness rose to greet me.

Links:

Amazon US
Amazon UK
B&N
iTunes
Smashwords

Where to Find Michelle:

Michelle’s blog
Michelle on Twitter
Michelle on Facebook

Author Interview (Writers): Michelle Muto

And we’re back! Today’s author interview is again with the amazing Michelle Muto, author of The Book of Lost Souls and Don’t Fear the Reaper. To read the review of Book of Lost Souls, please read here. And pretty soon I’ll have a review up for Don’t Fear the Reaper, too! In the meantime, let’s ask Michelle her advice for indie publishing and other fun information!

What was your process for your book from creation to publication? How long did this take?

I loosely outlined the story, then built character profiles for the main group before sitting down to write the first draft. Several revisions followed since The Book of Lost Souls was under consideration from a NY agency for a well over a year. But, in the end, another writer decided to write a story about a teen witch and that ended that. The Book of Lost Souls was trunked for months before I decided to go indie, so from the first draft to publication was well over two years.

Would you recommend self-publishing to aspiring indie authors?

I think it’s a personal choice. I’m not pro one and against the other. I do think that all authors should carefully weigh their options. And never sign away their rights, should they decide to go the traditional route. Get a intellectual property lawyer to look over any contracts.

How the hell do you balance everything? Family, friends, everyday activities, work, AND writing?

Not well, if you ask my husband. Sleepless nights? Tumbleweeds the size of rabbits in the house from time to time? Lots of dinners just thrown together, that’s for sure.

I have three series rambling around in my head (Ivy, Reaper, a new/old one one), plus one stand-alone novel. It’s pretty crazy right now.

Tell us how the book cover came into existence—was it a hands on process, did you know the initial look you wanted, etc?

I was new to indie land and had no idea what I really wanted. A book, something mysterious – but everything else? No clue. I spent days looking through photos and artwork before stumbling across the current cover picture. Lucky for me, I also discovered my cover designer, Sam Torode, who helped with the final product.

What do you think every writer should know?

That you are never the writer that you will be tomorrow. Practice, practice, practice. Always look to improve your craft.

What are the next big plans for you in regards to your writing?

Finish the book at hand, revise an older manuscript, and stay busy with Ivy’s next novel – oh, and Reaper’s new book, too.

Michelle, thanks again for being a part of this and helping out with such great answers! You can buy her books “The Book of Lost Souls” and “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on Amazon and be sure to give her a review and let everyone know what you think!