Saturday, January 25, 2020

Guest Author: Tom Williams

A post about magic from a fellow writer, Tom Williams. 
PS - do check out his novella, Dark Magic - it's amazing.

I'm delighted to be a guest here on Jennifer's blog.

I "met" Jennifer (we’ve never actually met in real life, such as the way of the Internet age) when I reviewed her book, The Road to Alexander, the first in her Time for Alexander series. It’s a brilliant series with heroes and gods and miracles – and a fair bit of history too. It's the miracles I'm interested in right now, though. Some in the book are unexplained – perhaps they are "real" miracles. Others, though, are very clearly tricks designed by priests to fool worshippers into believing that their gods are real and able to do wonderful things in the presence of their believers.

It's not just back in the mists of time that we see ‘miracles’ to reassure the faithful. In Naples the clotted blood of St Januarius liquifies three times a year and on special occasions like visits from the Pope. Maybe it really is a miracle, but ceremonies like this, with their miraculous elements, may well, in some cases, involve human agency.

While the earliest conjuring tricks may have been related to religious ritual, people were using ‘magic’ as a form of entertainment as early as 2600 BC when the magician Dedi was summoned to the court of King Cheops to perform tricks like decapitating fowls and returning them to life. The Cups and Balls trick – a sort of variant on find the lady but with the ball hidden under one of three cups – was well established by the time of the Romans and is described in accounts by Seneca. 

Sophisticated Romans may have distinguished between "real” magic and conjuring tricks for entertainment, but there was always a dangerous confusion and during the Middle Ages conjurors might find themselves taken up as witches. The links between conjuring tricks and the Dark Arts have always been close. While many magicians are happy to entertain children’s parties with a cut and restored rope or a rabbit discovered in a hat, the number of illusions involving cutting women in half, impaling them on swords or beheading them on guillotines speaks to the darker undertones that we still see behind the magician’s art. This is reflected in fictional representations of stage magicians which suggest that they are drawing on supernatural forces – for example in the film The Prestige based on the novel by Christopher Priest.

Even today, magicians like Derren Brown present themselves as vaguely sinister figures with TV shows in which they manipulate members of the public into committing bank robberies or even murder.

I know a few professional magicians, who would never even consider making a pact with the Devil. But the all-too-permeable boundary between stage magic and Black Magic is a gift to the writer of fiction and it is at the core of Dark Magic, my first book that isn’t a historical novel. It’s short and it’s funny (Jennifer described it as “Clever and darkly fun”). And you will never look at a magic show in quite the same way again.

Tom Williams used to write books for business. Now he writes novels set in the 19th century that are generally described as fiction but which are often more honest than the business books. The stories have given him the excuse to travel to Argentina, Egypt and Borneo and call it research. 
Tom’s blogs appear regularly on his website, where you can also find details of all his books. You can follow him on Twitter as @TomCW99 or Facebook ( 

Dark Magic

Three things you need to know. 
1/ It's funny 
2/ It's short 
3/ It costs just £1.99 on Kindle 

Why aren't you reading it already?
Further reading
If you want an introduction to the history of stage magic you might try Magic and Illusion by Michael Symes (2004)

Click here to buy Dark Magic and check out Tom's website!

Monday, January 20, 2020

A Crown in Time

In my last series, which started with The Road to Alexander, I wrote about a modern woman kidnapped by Alexander the Great and forced to spend the rest of her life in ancient times. The series ended, and instead of resting on my laurels and taking up something more rewarding like hang-gliding off cliffs or deep sea exploration, I started a new book. This time I was heading to the Crusades, and since I love time slip books, my heroine was sent back on a mission to set time back on track after a serious mistake put the future in jeopardy.
I finished the book and started another one (I am a glutton for punishment – I can hardly find time to cook dinner so where was I finding time to write? Answer – lots of take-out pizzas.)  My publisher thought it was a good idea to tie the books together, so although it’s not a new series per se, there is a connecting element which is the Tempus University Time Travel Program – a handy place to have if you want to go back in time.
A Crown in Time is a standalone novel that starts the series which includes three standalone books so far.  The series is called The Tempus U Time Travel series, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it!

A Crown in Time: She must rewrite history, or be erased from Time forever… (The Tempus U Time Travel series)
Since it was perfected in 2900, time travel has been reserved for an elite, highly trained few. However, on certain occasions, a Corrector is needed to rectify a mistake in the past.
Do your job well, and you’ll go down in history. Fail, and you will be erased from Time . . .
In the far future, a convicted criminal is given a chance at redemption. The Corrector Program at Tempus University is sending Isobel back in time, to the year 1270, to rewrite history.
Her mission? To save the crown of France.
If she follows the Corrector’s Handbook everything should run smoothly. But soon, Isobel finds herself accompanying a hot-headed young noble on his way to fight the infidel in Tunis: a battle Isobel knows is fated to be lost.
Isobel must fulfil her duty, knowing she can never return to her time, knowing one wrong move can doom the future, or doom her to be burned as a witch . . .
Publisher: Headline Accent (16 Jan. 2020)
ISBN-13: 978-1786157768

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Heroes in Love by David C. Dawson

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David C. Dawson will be awarding $10 Boroughs Bucks to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


Can love last a lifetime? Billy Walsh and Daniel Richards never intended to be matchmakers. After all, they're only at the start of their own love story. When Billy uncovers a failed love affair, he learns it lasted more than fifty years until it fell apart. He and Daniel see their own fledgling relationship through the lens of the now estranged couple, and they vow to reunite the elderly lovers. But as they set about their task, the pressure of modern life threatens to tear them apart.

Read an Excerpt

Billy was nearly an hour late when he finally rushed down Fulham Road and into the entrance of the Royal Marsden hospital where he ran into a black haired, brown-eyed vision of masculinity. Literally ran into. Publicly crashed into a stunning man wearing a white fitted t-shirt, a linen suit, tan loafers, and stood tall like a catwalk model. Too late Billy skidded to a halt, and into the arms of the handsome stranger.

“I’m so sorry,” Billy blurted out.

The vision of masculinity reached forward and grabbed his shoulders to stop him from falling.

“No problem.” The man looked directly at Billy and held on to his shoulders for a moment or so longer than was probably necessary.

Billy wanted to crawl away and hide in a corner. He had never considered himself a cool guy. The roles he played in soap operas as a sensitive-looking young man with an apologetic, hesitant manner were in truth no more than an extension of his own personality. He was uncomfortable in large social gatherings, and preferred his own company.

But this man with wavy black hair, deep brown eyes, and strong arms was someone he would dearly like to spend more time with. Billy struggled to find a witty phrase, a bright piece of banter to rescue the moment.


Sure? Billy shook his head at the crassness of his response. The man smiled, dropped his arms, and strode off.


About the Author: David C Dawson writes contemporary thrillers featuring gay men in love. He’s an award winning author, journalist and documentary maker. His debut novel won Bronze for Best Mystery and Suspense in the FAPA awards, and he has published two books since.

David lives in London with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.

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David C. Dawson will be awarding $10 Boroughs Bucks to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Thursday, January 2, 2020

Dragon Mist by David Burnett

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. David will be awarding a dragon pendant similar to the one worn by Christine Drachen in Dragon Mist (US only) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

As the third daughter of a third daughter, dragon-shifter Christine Drachen must mate with a human.

Not all human males are genetically compatible with dragon shifters, and suitable matches are rare in old Charleston. Christine, though, has identified James to be an appropriate match. Even humans who acknowledge the possibility of dragons cannot believe that one can be both a dragon and a human, shifting between the two. As a result, Christine must attract James without fully revealing her true, shifting nature until he has committed to mate.

James gradually discovers what Christine is. She shows him the gold dragon she always wears around her neck. He notices the prints, statues, and tapestries of dragons that decorate her family’s home. Strange noises emanate from behind the Drachens’ house during a party, and James believes he actually sees a dragon, one wearing a necklace like Christine’s. Christine’s last name, Drachen, means “dragon,” and, while she jokes her entire family is composed of the creatures, James begins to suspect there is more to what she says than a simple attempt at humor.

Finally, though, he sees her shift.

To protect their species from persecution, dragon-shifters silence any human who sees one of them shift, and the most practical method is generally death. The rule is absolute. But Christine has fallen in love with James. How can she protect her family without killing the boy she loves?

Dragon Mist is a story of boy-meets-girl, with a few non-human characters, high stakes, a bit of magic, a little humor, and an abundance of romance.

Read an Excerpt

As Bing struggles for release, I inspect him like an insect under a microscope. Then I growl and I bare my teeth.

“Help me. Help me. Oh God, help me.”

I had never noticed Bing to be particularly religious, but his prayer sounds more sincere than most of those I’d heard intoned in church.

Truly, nothing other than God can save him now because, at this point, my human self has lost control.

Five claws project from each of my hands, two sets of five blades, each as sharp as a diamond saw, able to cut through any substance. I raise my right hand and pause as my eyes make a final pass down his body. Bing’s shriek surely frightens ghosts in the nearby cemetery.

God elects not to intervene, and my right hand sweeps across Bing’s legs, both the right and left splintering as my claw passes through each in turn. My hand falls like a guillotine, twice, and his arms snap off. Finally, not certain he is dead, and not wanting him to linger, I strike the side of his neck, each claw passing through in turn. His body falls to the ground, covering his other parts, and I drop his head on top.

I feel as if I am still standing far out in the Bay, watching as someone else cuts Bing into pieces. His limbs fall to earth, blood covers them and pools on the ground.

I feel as if I’m viewing a horror movie, the type of motion picture that draws teenagers by the score. They stream into the theater and watch monsters, human or otherwise, murder and mayhem, blood and gore. The girls scream and hide their eyes, burying their heads in their boyfriends’ arms, but they peek so they miss none of the action, comforted by the knowledge it is all make-believe.

But Bing’s death is not make-believe, and I find myself a foot away, gazing down at him, my hand covered in his blood.

My head swivels as I check for witnesses. As Bing had died, screams had ricocheted across the park. But no one has appeared. They must lie behind trees and crouch behind shrubs.

What kind of people are these? No one ventured out when I screamed for help. No one rushed to save Bing when he cried in terror. I ought to scour the area and dispatch all of them.

I search, but I find no one…


A single man stands at the payphone under the streetlight at the edge of the park. I take a step in his direction and his squeal breaks the silence. He gestures wildly, pointing toward me, as if the person to whom he speaks can follow his visual directions. He no doubt has called the police, and I must weigh the danger of having my presence reported and the attack described by a group of acid-heads against the time it will take for a search-and-destroy mission and the possibility I will be seen by a surviving, credible witness.

My eyes narrow, I’ll take them all, starting with the one I see. I can cover the distance in five seconds, I think as I take two quick steps.

Then, human rationality reasserts itself.

I need to protect myself, and I opt to allow the witnesses to live, confident their reports will be written off as drug-induced hallucinations.

About the Author:
I live near Charleston, South Carolina, where I walk the beaches, eat fresh seafood, and photograph the ocean, the birds, and the beautiful sunsets. Seven of my nine novels have been set in Charleston, but Dragon Mist is the first to explore the lives of the non-human residents of the “holy city.”

Find more of my work on my website!
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