Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Exclusive Excerpt: Strange Omens by Jim Stein

“You have to slow down.” Piper produced her notebook and scowled at my grimace. “I’m serious. We already know how badly healing with Fire saps your strength. You borrow from your future health, like taking out a loan to repair damage. Pete tells me you almost froze to death yesterday. Using magic doesn’t just make you a little tired like we first thought. Even Pina agrees there’s no free ride.”
“Speaking of the munchkin, we needed her. Off gallivanting again?” Pina could have called in those bugs without giving it a second thought. Funny how she always disappeared when there was work to do.
“What spell makes him cranky?” Pete asked…the bastard.
“Hard to say.” Piper flipped through her precious pages, as if seriously considering the question. “I haven’t fully mapped out Spirit and Earth yet. There only seem to be three core spells for each element, but variations do occur…”
Psychoanalyzing me? Just wonderful. I’d had enough of that as a kid. My childhood traumas were bad, but now I was getting on with life. I already had two sets of parents and didn’t need this pair weighing in.
I must have nodded off because Piper and Pete had moved their discussion to the kitchen. I blinked at the cookie brushing the tip of my nose. Ralph perched on the sofa back, holding out the disc of goodness. The scent of chocolate, sugar, and vanilla made my mouth water. The little guy loved his sweets, and his gesture had me clearing my throat like Dad.
“Thanks, buddy.”
Ralph gave a sad little smile, but brightened when I snapped the cookie in two and handed half back. We munched contentedly, the prattling of my sister and best friend not nearly as annoying with a mouthful of bliss.
“Hello?” Dad called from the foyer—my real everyday human dad, not the often absent Koko.
“Living room.”
The front door creaked open and hard-soled shoes crossed the tile entry. Dad wore his usual slacks and a powder-blue dress shirt, but his tie was pulled open. It was unusual to see him with a hair out of place, let alone the mussed up mop squatting over his haggard face. His smile accentuated the circles under his eyes, eyes that went wide as his finger flew up to point at me and…
Oh crap! I glanced back at Ralph, panic rising in my chest. The imp pried a big hunk of chocolate out of his cookie, tail slapping happily against the leather. “Uh, I can explain!”
“Talk fast, son.” Dad’s lips compressed, his accusatory finger wagging in negation. “Cookies before dinner? Mom has a big pot of chili simmering. Piper promised you would all bring your appetites.”
“Oh.” I risked a glance back at the imp. Dad just couldn’t see him. “No problem. If she says we’ll be hungry then we will.”
“Hey, Dad!” Piper strode in from the kitchen.
Pete followed close and choked on his own cookie when he saw Ralph.
“Mom says the chili will be ready in an hour.” Dad handed her two yellow sheets of paper. “I pulled some strings and got your leave of absence approved. Land Rover will be ready tomorrow. The new tank holds close to a hundred gallons, but fill it every chance you get. Your mother is worried enough about you two, but at least you shouldn’t run out of gas.”
“Thanks, Daddy. You’re the best.” Piper kissed him on the cheek, which brought a fond glimmer to his tired eyes.
“See you kids at dinner. I have to get out of this monkey suit.” Dad spun on his heel and headed toward the front door.
“Wait! Everybody slow down.” I had to have heard wrong. “Time off? Hitting the road? What’s going on?”
Piper had the good grace to look embarrassed as she twisted a strand of red hair around her index finger. “You know I’ve always wanted to travel.”
“Sure, but—”
“Mom is worried sick about you being alone on the road.” She studied her nails.
“I know, so—”
“So, it’s the perfect solution. Plus my SUV is way more comfortable, and there’s room for Max too!”
I turned pleading eyes on my father. He looked from me to my sister, comprehension dawning as his eyebrows climbed up his forehead.
“So…dinner at six.” He gave a little cough into the tense silence, took three more steps, and paused. “Almost forgot. Mom wants you down at the hospital for C-12 testing before you two leave on Monday. It’ll only take a few minutes.”

I stared after him, dumbfounded. I was so close to escaping, to following Quinn and the band. But now I’d be saddled with my sister—and my dog?

Strange Omens
Legends Walk
Book Two
Jim Stein

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Jagged Sky Books

Date of Publication: 1/11/19

Digital ISBN: 978-1-7335629-0-4
Print ISBN:    978-1-7335629-1-1
ASIN: B07M72B1W2

Number of pages: 331
Word Count: 105,200

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Tagline: Who wins when gods interfere?

Book Description:

Recent months in New Philadelphia have been pleasantly monster-free, allowing Edan Johnson to focus on launching the band’s new album. Music brought hope, something the world’s dwindling population desperately needed. But when a mysterious promotion company sends the A-Chords on tour and the audience splits into opposing factions, it’s clear that gods and dark forces are once again meddling.

Ed’s command of music and magic grows strong, but an arrogant goddess decrees he must not interfere. Even his own sister scolds him for casting spells. But Ed connects with the band’s free-spirited groupies and vows to keep them safe from the more sinister patrons flocking to “The Company’s” backstage events.

More hangs in the balance than the simple corruption of a few fans. These happy, bright people could be the salvation of the human race, yet are being drawn in like sheep. Someone or something stalks the tour, and evil lurks in the heart of Old Milwaukee.
Magic, monsters, and kindred spirits keep Ed and his friends scrambling to discover what’s going on behind the scenes, but an improbable friendship just might be the key to their survival.

About the Author:

Jim Stein’s hunger for stories transporting the reader to extraordinary realms began under one meager bulb, a towel stuffed beneath his door to avoid parental censure. He huddled with Tolkien, Asimov, and all the greats and unknowns plucked from the drugstore shelves to spin tales of the imagination.

After writing short stories in school, two degrees in computer science, and several decades as a Naval officer, Jim has returned to his first passion. He writes speculative fiction advocating the underdog and embracing protagonists with strong moral fiber, often overlaid with supernatural elements and a few dark twists. Jim lives in northwestern Pennsylvania with his wife, Claudia, and his muse, Marley the Great Dane.

Website/newsletter sign-up:   https://jimsteinbooks.com/
Blog: on website  https://jimsteinbooks.com/blog/

Amazon author site: http://amazon.com/author/steinjim  

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Marisela Zuniga said...

This sounds great!

Daniel M said...

looks interesting