My Weekend in Charm City, or a Tale of Two Hats


That’s the sound I make when I wrap up an exhausting weekend. And this weekend was bone-wearying fun!

I joined Curiosity Quills authors at the Baltimore Book Festival held this year (for the first time) at the Inner Harbor. Locals will recognize the Inner Harbor as “the place” to be if you’re visiting Baltimore. The weather: sunny, summery, light breezes, sunlight glittering off the water like liquid awesome. The event: tons of books everywhere you looks. Look. Looked. Shut up, I’m tired.


…mostly from taking endless selfies.

On Friday I shared the tent with Ryan Hill, author of the metaphysical comedy The Book of Bart and the upcoming zombie novel Dead New World. Saturday we were joined by Elsie Elmore, Matthew Graybosch, and CQ power-hitters Michael Shean and Krystal Wade. Together we FIGHT CRIME! Oh wait… actually we sold books.

Avengers Assemble... your swag. Seriously. Neat and tidy, people!

Avengers Assemble… your swag. Seriously. Neat and tidy, people!

One of the takeaways from the weekend was how receptive the public was to a “local” novel. Specifically, a novel set in Baltimore. When I mentioned it, people lit up and grabbed a book to read the back copy. Baltimore is a “home town” in a big way for its residents. They are fiercely loyal… to their teams, their cuisine, their neighborhoods, their culture. It was certainly gratifying to have them extend some of that loyalty to me as a local author. Cheers, hon!

Now let's grab some crab cakes and a Natty Boh!

Now let’s grab some crab cakes and a Natty Boh!

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks since the launch of The Curse Merchant! As most of the Fistful regulars know, I’ve been posting plenty of promotion for the book via blog tours and my giveaway. The machine continues its tireless march, my friends… but my writing beckons. Starting this week, I am re-doubling my efforts to finish Yea Though I Walk and press ever onward. Having a book in print and in the hands of readers has only served to galvanize my resolve. I must produce more… and thus I shall!

The second book of the Dark Choir series is in the hands of the publisher already… we should expect to see it available for sale some time next year. I’ll keep you posted as schedules materialize. I’ll be announcing something soon regarding “Bait & Witch”, the prequel short story for the Dark Choir series. Ooo… teasers!

In the meantime… if you’ve read The Curse Merchant, please consider posting a review on Amazon or your point of purchase. Reviews are the best way for the next reader to catch interest. Actually… reviews are the second-best. The best way to hook more fans is word of mouth. Spread the word, loyal readers! And I thank you!

Fall into Fantasy, Week 6: The Ragnarök Prophesies by Ayden K. Morgan

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 6: The
Ragnarök Prophesies

Book One: Fade
Book Two: Fall

What do you do when you realize nothing in your life is what you’ve believed it to be?

When Arionna Jacobs loses her mother in a tragic accident, her world is turned upside down. She’s forced to leave her old life behind and move in with her father. Dace Matthews, a teaching assistant at her new college, is torn in two, unable to communicate with the feral wolf caged inside him.

When they meet, everything they thought they knew about life unravels. Dace has intimate access to Arionna’s mind, and something deep within her fights to rise to the surface. They don’t understand what’s happening to them or why, and they’re running out of time to sort out the strange occurrences around them.

Their meeting sets an ancient Norse prophesy of destruction in motion, and what destiny has in store for them is bigger than either could have ever imagined. Unless they learn to trust themselves and one another, they may never resolve the mystery surrounding who they are to one another, and what that means for the world.

FADE is available from Curiosity Quills Press at Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo.

How do you save someone who doesn’t want to be saved?

Those called to stand guard against the end are broken, and Sköll and Hati run free. Now Arionna Jacobs and Dace Matthews face a threat unlike any before. Ragnarök is coming and they aren’t strong enough to stop it.

Arionna thought she understood sacrifice, but she never counted on her destiny tearing Dace apart. Ever since she nearly died, he has been consumed with guilt. Now it threatens to turn him into the monster he always feared.

It’s up to Arionna to stop him before it’s too late, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Dace is hurtling toward self destruction. This time, Arionna isn’t sure she can save him from himself. Can she convince him to let the past go, or is her true destiny to sacrifice her heart in exchange for the lives of the people she loves?

You can read the official prologue to FALL here.

FALL – The Ragnarök Prophesies: Book Two is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can add it to your TBR list on Goodreads here.


A.K. Morgen lives in Little Rock with her husband, three dogs and two cats. She has a graduate degree in Criminal Justice and Law, and plans to save the world someday. When she’s not working or writing, she spends her time teaching her niece and nephews how to cause mischief. You can also find her dancing in the grocery store, building a spork army, and fundraising for nonprofits close to her heart.

You can learn more about Ayden at or by following her on Twitter, Goodreads, or Facebook.

Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

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Fall into Fantasy, Week 5: The Curse Merchant by J.P. Sloan

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 5: The Dark Choir Series
Book One: The Curse Merchant
By J.P. Sloan

Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian’s disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn’t be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian’s captivating ex-lover. After two years’ absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen’s affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation… with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

Buy it from: Amazon
& Noble
Add it Goodreads
J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author, primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed. 

A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.

In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a National-ranked beer judge.
Find J.P. Online:
J.P. Sloan’s Fistful of Fiction  Facebook  Twitter  Tumblr

Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?

  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

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The “Instant Karma” Dark Choir Giveaway

Happy Friday, loyal readers!

It’s been a flurry of activity over here at the Fistful. Monday was the official re-launch day for The Curse Merchant, and a bevy of reviews, excerpts and guest posts have been swarming my brain. In case you missed them all, here’s a quick run down of the goods!

Excerpts from The Curse Merchant:

Meet Carmen, Dorian’s firecracker of an ex-lover at

Find out what Dorian is so afraid of in his own hex-crafting space at

Meet Reed Malosi, a soul-monger’s enforcer and a mountain of man at Njkinny’s World of Books.

Dorian has his first run-in with The Syrian in an excerpt posted at Julie Whiteley’s The Book Review.

As Dorian slips deeper into the intrigue, he finds the Presidium is watching… excerpt at Manic Readers.

Guest Posts by yours truly:

See how the cities of Baltimore and New Orleans have affected my writing style at Mallory Heart Reviews.

I pull back the curtain and show how I crafted Dorian’s voicing at Sister Sinister Speaks. (Bonus: she’s added a glowing 5 star review of The Curse Merchant!)

Elsie Elmore engages in a whip-crack interview with yours truly at

And I set aside my typical flippancy and get a little real in my letter to my teenage self at Deer Teen Me.

I was interviewed by Emma Adams, one of my top five favorite Brits, at From the Writer’s Nest.

In this interview by another of my top five favorite Brits, Katie Young, I discuss a strange day in Moscow.

Reviews of The Curse Merchant:

5 stars and an enthusiastic review from Chelsea Jack at To Each Their Own Reviews.

Jola at Wonderful World of Books wishes the second book was out already.

Author Vicki Keire extols the deepness of setting in the city of Baltimore with her 5 star review.

4 Bites from Carol at I’m a Voracious Reader.

Kisa Whipkey calls The Curse Merchant “everything a great urban fantasy should be” in her 4 star review.

(I’ll be updating this list as new items materialize over the coming week)

~ ~ ~

Alright, now for something fun!

I want to reward you, the Fistful Reader, with a week-long contest! One of the core aspects of Dorian Lake’s magic is the manner by which he powers his hexes and charms to the client’s karma. This is his safety-valve, keeping him from lapsing into the soul-corrupting effects of Netherwork.

So, what about karma? Have you ever seen “instant karma” in action? Ever have a moment when someone cheeses the nose of the Cosmos, just to have the Cosmos decide to exact its justice on the spot? It’s the stuff of schadenfreude theater, as we all love a good moment of comeuppance.

So, lay it on me!

In the comments below, share an anecdote of instant karma. It must be something you’ve seen in real life (we’re all on the honor system here, kiddos… and the Cosmos is watching!) Give us your best. Someone who cut you off in traffic, just to get pulled over by the cops… a mean-spirited woman in the checkout counter has her grocery bag split in the parking lot..

Spin your yarns of instant karma all week. On Friday, September 26th, I’ll be choosing TWO WINNERS via random raffle from the comments section. One winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card, the other will win a signed paperback of The Curse Merchant!

Spread the word, my good friends, and keep checking this space for more updates and tales of karma!

Cover Reveal – ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW by Jordan Elizabeth

I’ve been given an opportunity to participate in a cover reveal this morning… a new YA Fantasy novel coming out late October. So away we go!


How far into the hollow would you go?


After losing her parents in a terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria escapes New York City to Arnn—a farming town with more legends than residents, and a history of witchcraft and secrets best left buried.

 Everyone in Arnn knows the story of Witchwood Hollow: if you venture into the whispering forest, the witch will trap your soul among the shadowed trees. In the lure of that perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope when she should be afraid, and a past of missing children and broken promises.  To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness. How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?”

ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW is Jordan Elizabeth’s first novel. This young adult fantasy will be published through Curiosity Quills Press on October 29, 2014.

Jordan Elizabeth, formally Jordan Elizabeth Mierek, can’t get enough of the woods, be it splashing through a stream, sitting beneath an ancient oak, or following a path up a hill. Some of those adventures have led to abandoned foundations. Exploring the rocks and crumbling bricks sparked Jordan to imagine who might have lived there before, and that train of thought carried her to a wicked legend and an enchanted hollow. You can contact Jordan via her website,

Author PhotoYou don’t have to wait for October 29th to explore Witchwood Hollow. Jordan Elizabeth is offering up a free eArc. To enter for your chance to win a copy of ESCAPE FROM WITCHWOOD HOLLOW, you will need to share the cover. This can be on your blog, Facebook, Twitter… Each time you share the cover image, log it into Rafflecoper to record it. It will give you more chances to win. The drawing for the winner will be held on October 20th.

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The Curse Merchant has been Released upon the World

Gentle readers, I want to thank you for bearing with me these few years at the Fistful. This week marks the beginning of a new era… The Curse Merchant is back! Its re-release under the aegis of Curiosity Quills Publishing is in full swing. The Kindle and Nook eBook editions are live, and now for the very first time we have paperback editions available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. If you haven’t already, trot on over and check them out… and if you grab a copy, consider leaving a review at your purchase site.

Last night was my very first book signing! We held the book launch event at Barley & Hops Grill and Microbrewery in Frederick, MD. The staff there were helpful and immensely patient. I think we might have spiced up their Monday night a tidge.

The author, seen here in his natural habitat, displays his eye spots to appear larger to the predator...

The author, seen here in his natural habitat, displays his eye spots to appear larger to the predator…

I have a blog tour running right now, and will have a special giveaway event here on the Fistful later this week, so keep your eyes peeled!

Now, to take a break from the release week whirlwind and do a little questionnairing. (is that a word?)

I was tagged in a Blog Hop by YA Fantasy author Jori Mierek, and… someone else… I honestly lost track and I apologize. Nevertheless, the anonymous tagger tapped my shoulder last Tuesday to participate in a little blog hop, wherein I answer a few questions. So away we go!

For the blog-hop, each person is asked a series of questions. Below are the questions and my answers.
Q: What am I working on?

A: I’m about 78K words into a western/horror novel with the working title “Yea Though I Walk.” It’s basically Cowboys vs Vampires vs Wendigo, with quite a bit of existential torsion thrown into the mix. Once that’s wrapped up, I’ll be starting in on the third book of the Dark Choir series, “The Curse Mandate.”

Q: Why do I write what I do?

A: I try my best to write the stories I’d want to read, which is important because it helps keep the self-doubt at bay. Sometimes. On occasion. I’m a big fan of spec fic, and really enjoy a story that either wiggles my brain a new way, or drops me into a new universe and bowls me over with its vastness.

Q:How does my writing process work?

A: This is a question I’ve answered in stages on The Fistful… but the short version is:

- head incubation (getting the idea, hashing it out, having mock dialogue in the car when I’m alone)

- pre-writing (drawing up an outline, making my scene and character worksheets)

- first draft

- first pass for major plot elements and the truly rough patches

- second draft to alpha-reader

- second pass from her notes

- third draft to beta-readers

- third pass from their notes

- put a bow on it and submit to acquisitions

There you go! The whole process takes about a year, plus or minus.

I’m tasked to tag other writers in order to keep the “hop” going. So, eenie meenie miney…

Katie Young, author of the newly released The Other Lamb.


Michael Shean, because he wants people to goad him into making more frequent blog posts in between writing the final book in his cyberpunk Wonderland Cycle.

Fall into Fantasy, Week #4: Marsha A. Moore’s Enchanted Bookstore Legends

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends
Book One: Seeking a Scribe
Book Two: Heritage Avenged
Book Three: Lost Volumes
Book Four: Staurolite
Book Five: Quintessence
By Marsha A. Moore

Seeking a Scribe: Enchanted Bookstore Legend One by Marsha A. Moore

Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he’s a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume…or the story’s magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love.

His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She’s torn—should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love?

Opening the book’s cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own power…and time is running out.
Series Description:
The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 
When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
Purchase Links:

Marsha A. Moore loves to write fantasy and fantasy romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales. 

The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is a registered yoga teacher. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!
 Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don’t forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

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Excerpt from Seeking a Scribe:

Chapter One: Licorice Memories
The smell of anise
greeted Lyra as she opened the door to Drake’s bookstore. It took her back to
happy childhood memories. Licorice-shoe-string-rewards for following her
parents’ requests to stay on the dock while they secured the family’s pleasure
boat to its trailer. The aroma brought a fleeting remembrance of times long
gone, a treasure now that her folks had recently passed. At ease with the
familiar scent, she settled into browsing through rows of antique bookcases.
The shop owner
stuck his head around a set of shelves. “Do you like tea?”
“Yes, I do.”
Before she could finish speaking, he disappeared. “Is that the wonderful
smell?” she called out.
clinked in the back room. Receiving no answer, Lyra followed the noises,
scanning collections as she walked. This bookshop appeared established, but
surely she would have remembered it from her last visit to the Lake Huron
village five years ago. Books were her passion, especially fantasy. She paused
in front of that section and studied its titles.
The owner appeared,
holding a pewter tray with a teapot, two cups, sugar jar, spoons, and napkins,
which he laid on the corner of an old library table. She watched him carefully
pour the tea and hand her a cup. He was about her age, mid thirties or a bit
older, and handsome. His medium brown hair, peppered with gray at the temples, grazed
his shoulders in wavy layers, and his beard was trimmed into a neat goatee. He
wore long shorts, a knit golf shirt, and sandals—typical casual attire for this
island resort community.
She set down her
bag from the drugstore and accepted his offer with a smile. “Thanks. My name’s
Lyra.” She blew across the hot surface of the tea to cool it and then inhaled
the anise-scented steam. She closed her eyes to fully enjoy the memory. “Ah!”
“Afternoons of
boating and licorice with your parents? Right?” he asked.
Her mouth dropped
open. How did he know that?

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