Sneak Peek at Scarred (Book 2 Elm Stone Saga by Shayla Morgansen)


The landing was perfectly timed and executed. Jackson and his eight men each stepped out of the wormholes they had used to travel here, to this quiet street in Italy, and Jackson sealed off their exit points with magic. Normally he wouldn’t have bothered but tonight’s raid was Lisandro’s brainchild and this cautiousness was a direct request of his. And what Lisandro requested was what came to be, inevitably, so here Jackson was, carrying out Lisandro’s carefully laid-out plans.

The men he’d been assigned were brutes; scum and low-lives the upstanding villain Lisandro preferred not to associate himself with, but who were too strong and efficient to simply not have on board. Jackson was glad to have them. This team was his, and they were so starkly different from the team he’d been part of when he was a councillor for the White Elm. This team respected him and what he had to offer. This team got stuff done, without spending weeks or months in talks, deliberating the ethical, socio-political and whatever other ramifications of action. This team was a force to be reckoned with, and best of all, this team listened to Jackson.

The White Elm had never done much of that. If they had, he might not now be a fugitive and outcast from their ranks, and he might not now be on his way to attack the home of one of the council’s newest members.

‘Suit up,’ Jackson hissed at them, jerking his head at the furthest of his men to gesture him closer. Cloaking spells were most effective over a small area, so the closer the nine stayed together the more powerful the spell would be. As the most powerful sorcerer present – and they knew it, he thought smugly – Jackson was the one to cast the cloak over them. An invisible blanket of magic settled over the group. For them, wearing the cloak spell was almost unnoticed. They couldn’t feel it; it didn’t affect their vision, their hearing or their extended magical senses; it didn’t slow their motions or impede them in any way. However, for anyone outside of the cloak, such as a nosy neighbour peeking out their window into the street, where moments ago there stood a bunch of strange men, there was now nothing to be seen except empty air. For any sorcerer nearby, accustomed to being able to sense the presence of approaching living things, where moments ago there was the distinct sense of life, of energy, of emotion, of intention and thought, there was now only void. The cloak redirected the senses around those hidden beneath it, and that was exactly the cover Jackson and his team required.

The target was not a large or stately home, but it was the address the informant had provided, and inside the small, tidy cottage near the top of the street Jackson could feel several powerful magical presences. The one he was most interested in, he couldn’t feel, but that did not mean she wasn’t there. He grinned at the thought. He didn’t like for anyone to be better at things than he was, but there was no denying that Emmanuelle Saint Clair of the White Elm was the best at wards and cloaking spells.

The nine drew knives as they approached the home as a group. Knives for sorcerers were more than tools for cutting the physical; pointed and precise, often they could be more useful than wands for directing magic. Jackson paused ahead of the group and extended a hand slowly. Invisible, almost undetectable, a delicate web of protective energy lay over this house. To pass through it would trigger a mental alert in the mind of the spell’s creator. The people inside were strong and of unknown competence – the less warning they received of Jackson’s arrival, the better.

Beneath Jackson’s hand, a silvery strand of energy, as thin and indistinct as a spider’s web, quivered into visibility: a very basic ward. Blade glowing with his own power and intent, Jackson drew his knife across the strand. It resisted destruction, as all things do, but soon gave. The knife went through, severing it cleanly. The taut line of magic snapped and pinged apart with a spark of pale light, but the remainder of the net remained intact. The group waited in tense silence – would the inhabitants notice? How in-tune was the young councillor to her spells? – but there was no energetic shift inside the house to denote an increase in activity or anxiety.

‘Keep outside this radius,’ Jackson instructed his team in a low voice. He pointed his knife at the perimeter of the spell’s reach – at his will, dozens of the same silvery strands lit up faintly, stretching up into a dome over the cottage’s roof. ‘No rushing. No mistakes. Anyone who screws this up is staying behind to answer to the council when their real warriors show up.’

Because though Jackson liked to sneer at the mere mention of his former brotherhood, the fact remained that their collective and individual might was both impressive and formidable. The White Elm allowed onto their council only the best and brightest thirteen of the world’s sorcerers: Seers who knew too much of the future, Displacers who could teleport through space on a whim, Healers who could mend most any wound, Crafters who could twist and manipulate the very essence of magic, Telepaths who could hear the thoughts of those around them, scriers (too busy being stubborn and self-righteous to allocate themselves a capital letter) who could see what was happening anywhere in the world… It was probable that right now, the White Elm’s duo of scriers, Qasim and Renatus, were becoming aware of this very event, and it was only a matter of time before they arrived.

Jackson would prefer not to cross paths with either of them, if possible. He’d woven wards into his cloaking spell that would postpone the moment when these events were brought to the scriers’ attention, but Fate, unfortunately, worked for scriers, not for Crafters like Jackson. Sooner rather than later that ward would break and the countdown to confrontation with the White Elm would begin.

Jackson wanted to be gone, with the prizes he was sent for, by that time.

The team moved slowly but efficiently around the cottage, stepping carefully over rows of vegetables in the garden and low fences separating properties. Each strand was cut with care, but as more came away, the quicker the process became. The remaining strands glowed much more brightly, forced to carry more power than when other parts of the net had been in place to share the load of protecting the house, and became much easier to spot and sever.

Jackson’s men gathered at the front of the house around the final strand. Its light was so bright it made Jackson squint. Nico, a stocky Austrian wanted by the mortal law in several European nations for violent assaults in bars and nightclubs, carved his silver-bright blade back and forth across the strand of magic while the others held their breath in apprehension and excitement.

‘Only one to go and they haven’t even noticed?’ Saul breathed, eyes manic. Jackson looked at him sidelong and said nothing. Bad eggs occurred in all types, both magical and mortal. Saul had come into Lisandro’s employ – and subsequently shifted into Jackson’s taskforce almost immediately – when his human trafficking enterprise had been uncovered and dismantled by Interpol, and the White Elm had rejected his pleas for sanctuary. The government of the magical world took a similar stance on human rights as did the governments of mortal society, and had attempted to apprehend Saul, with the intention of either providing him, gift-wrapped and powerless, to the police, or of imprisoning him themselves in their prison in Valero. With nowhere left to turn, Saul had sought out Lisandro, a former authority within the White Elm and a political revolutionary, and taken refuge among the ranks of Magnus Moira, Lisandro’s new but quickly growing movement against the White Elm council’s leadership.

Jackson really didn’t care what Saul or the others had done before they came to work under him, but Lisandro had made his opinions on Saul’s history very clear to Jackson. ‘If it happens that you lose one, or need to leave one behind,’ he’d said, ‘don’t stress too much if it’s him.’

A spell is a near-living thing, almost sentient – it wants to endure. As Nico drew his knife carefully across the strand of magic defending the cottage, the spell shuddered and grew brighter, strengthening its now-weak point of attack.

‘Why is it taking so long?’ someone hissed, bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement. Jackson irritably caught him across the chest with one of his gloved hands, stilling his annoying motion.

‘If they haven’t noticed yet, rushing will only tip them off,’ he whispered back. He looked back at the trembling strand of magic, felt the rise in energy all around him as the spell prepared to break and his men prepared to take the house. ‘Look alive, boys.’

A bright spark signalled the end of the ward; the spell gave under the pressure of Nico’s knife and power, and the nine grinned. There was nothing more to be said. They rushed at the cottage. Nico traded his knife for the wand in his coat pocket, and blasted the door open.

They had a weapon to steal and a war to ignite.

Published in: on February 21, 2015 at 2:14 am  Comments (2)  

Interview time

Check out one of our writer’s latest interviews! Check her out at Feature Friday with Sabrina R G Raven

Published in: on August 1, 2014 at 11:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Indie Writers: Make MS Word Work for You Instead of Against You

Some great tips!

QA Productions

A Quick Primer for Fiction Writers in using Microsoft Word in the Digital Age

It always saddens me a little when a writer sends me an overly formatted Word doc to turn into an ebook or print-on-demand. It’s not that I have to clean it up–I can strip and flip the messiest files in less than an hour. What bugs me is how much thought and effort the writer wasted on utterly useless manuscript styling.

Example of a Word doc that has been overstyled. Example of a Word doc that has been overstyled.

The majority of writers I work with use Word. The vast majority have no idea how to use Word for their own benefit. I understand. I was a fiction writer for over two decades and even though I have been using computers and a variety of word processing programs since the late ’80s, it wasn’t until I started learning book production that I figured out how…

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Published in: on May 19, 2014 at 8:49 pm  Leave a Comment  


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Published in: on April 30, 2014 at 2:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Sneak peek at Chosen by Shayla Morgansen

The late autumn night was crisp and cool. A brisk wind sliced through the dying trees in the garden, relieving them of their burden of dead brown leaves. The darkness in the marbled courtyard was broken only by the soft, haunting candlelight glowing in the large ring of lanterns. Thirteen white-robed adult figures stood in a circle within this enchanted ring.

Tonight, in this Connecticut home’s courtyard, the government of the magical world, the White Elm Council, had been called to an emergency meeting by their leader, an old, white-haired man whom they, along with the rest of their world, called Lord Gawain. He stood as part of the circle, and wore a royal purple sash over his white robes, as did the middle-aged black woman to his right, and beyond her was a tall, attractive man wearing an emerald green sash.

‘Blessed be,’ Lord Gawain began in his commanding voice. The twelve sorcerers responded, and a murmur of Blessed be resonated around the courtyard and into the surrounding gardens. ‘Firstly, our thanks to Susannah, who has provided us tonight with her beautiful yard as a venue for this last-minute conference.’

‘Never a problem, Lord Gawain,’ a 40-something American sorceress replied with a smile. Her wavy brown hair was clipped back from her fresh, pleasant face and her manicured hands, although obviously freezing, were ungloved and open, relaxed at her sides.

‘As a sign of honesty and purity, all members of White Elm traditionally keep their faces and hands uncovered,’ Lord Gawain said, beginning the meeting. Two of the twelve pairs of candle-bright eyes dropped from Lord Gawain’s face and two pairs of hands quickly appeared from underneath robes, and he knew, but he continued as if he hadn’t noticed. ‘This is one of many traditions we as a government have upheld for hundreds of years to ensure peace within the White Elm body.’

The council was silent. Lord Gawain continued.

‘I apologise for the surprise meeting, but, as always in history, the White Elm has dutifully responded to their leader’s call, knowing that I would only break the cycle for a great emergency. I am grateful for your faith. Your loyalty to your leaders, your adherence to the council’s ancient code and your purity of spirit prove to the world your worthiness of ruling the magical people. Few other councils would gather so quickly at their leader’s bidding.’

A couple of sorcerers smiled at their leader’s sentiment.

‘So, when you felt my call, where were you, Lady Miranda?’ Lord Gawain asked his co-leader, the 55-year-old black sorceress to his right.

‘Finishing my shift at the hospital,’ she answered smoothly, her British accent sharp.


The attractive man on Lady Miranda’s right blinked through his long, loose black hair at his Lord’s word.

‘With a woman,’ he answered simply, in his New York accent. No one asked for details. 

‘Qasim?’ Lord Gawain asked of the next man in the circle, the imposing Saudi.

‘Reading to my children,’ Qasim answered.

The White Elm immediately continued answering in the order Lord Gawain had been questioning – highest ranked to lowest – and most answered with honesty. However, the massive African American Jackson cast his vision down for a tiny instant and blinked a few times too many.

‘Asleep,’ he said. Lord Gawain felt the flicker of nervousness in the air, which accompanies a lie, and knew otherwise, but kept quiet. He needed to be sure of the others.

The stick-thin Russian woman next in the circle glanced oddly at Jackson, having felt the same flicker, before speaking.

‘Meditating,’ she murmured honestly.

‘Asleep.’ Tian still looked tired.

‘Reading the paper,’ Peter said, too quickly.

He is the second puppet, Lord Gawain thought. Who is their master?

Emmanuelle, a beautiful French sorceress, admitted to being on a date. She blushed a little, but she wasn’t lying. The youngest, the handsome and mysterious Renatus, spoke last. 

‘I was scrying,’ he said. His violet eyes flickered to Lord Gawain.

A few other members of White Elm shared subtle ominous looks. They didn’t trust Renatus. But Lord Gawain understood the very young man’s meaning. After all, it was on Renatus’s advice that he had called this council.

Peter and Jackson are traitors, Master, Renatus had said hours earlier, confirming Lord Gawain’s already strong suspicions. Lady Miranda agreed. Now they only had to find the third traitor, the leader. But whoever it was had covered his or her lies so well that even Lord Gawain, Lady Miranda and Renatus couldn’t work out who it was.

Lord Gawain had known for some time that a rival force was forming elsewhere. Rumours of black magic beyond that which the White Elm could imagine; whispers of a powerful leader no one could actually name. Similar little tales popped up every now and then, and usually died down, but these murmurings were persistent and becoming louder. Most disturbing was the realisation that this apparent rival group (if it existed) was said to be led by a member of White Elm.

‘Three of you are lying,’ Lord Gawain said after a minute of absolute silence. Two sparks of nervousness flickered briefly in the circle. Who is the third


Chosen by Shayla Morgansen will be available from 2nd May, 2014. Join us on facebook for more information.

Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Author Intro – Shayla Morgansen

Name: Shayla MorgansenImage

Age: Old enough

Books published: nothing yet!

Books coming soon: Chosen: Book One of ‘The Elm Stone Saga’

Top three authors: JK Rowling, Dan Brown, CS Lewis

Favourite Colour: Pink

Favourite animal: Cats

Favourite quote: “But no one may know the shape of the tale in which they move. And, perhaps, we do not truly know what sort of beast it is, either. Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.” -Catherynne M. Valente

Top three movies: The Matrix, Star Wars, The Lion King

Favourite reading genre: Fantasy and Sci-fi

Favourite Tv show: Dexter, Supernatural

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be: Obi-Wan Kenobi – the purest and noblest of Jedi

Describe yourself in 30 words or less: Eccentric, abstract and always lost inside my own head, I typically write urban fantasy and science fiction. I sigh when I see errors in printed works like signs and advertisements.

Do you have a burning question for Shayla? Reply here or visit us at facebook or twitter @ouroborusbooks

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Author Intro – Ella Hazelwood

Name: Ella HazelwoodImage

Age: 30

Books published: Everdark Realms: The Darkening

Books coming soon: Everdark Realms: The Awakening

Top three authors: Terry Pratchett, Robert Rankin, Derek Landy

Favourite Colour: blue

Favourite animal: Dragons and Phoenixes

Favourite quote: “People need stories more than bread itself, they tell us how to live, and why.” – The Arabian Nights

Top three movies: Labyrinth, The Craft, Tin Man

Favourite reading genre: Intelligent humour

Favourite Tv show: QI

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be: Surprisingly Regina from Once Upon A Time – I get the strong girls who don’t take crap

Describe yourself in 30 words or less: Writer, Actor, Director, Artist, Bibliophile, Dreamer,  Mythology-Nerd, History-Buff, Imagineer

Do you have a burning question for Ella? Reply here or visit us at facebook or twitter @ouroborusbooks

Author Intro – M A Clarke

Name: Melissa Lord aka M. A. ClarkeImage

Age: 30+

Books published: The Riders’ War – Battle For Today

Books coming soon: The Riders’ War Part 2 – Battle For Tomorrow

Top three authors: Patricia Briggs, Christopher Pike, Anne MacCaffrey

Favourite Colour: red

Favourite animal: dragon

Favourite quote: ‘But why’s the rum gone?’

Top three movies: Sound of Music, While You Were Sleeping, Classic Star Wars Trilogy

Favourite reading genre: fantasy

Favourite Tv show: Doctor Who

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be: there’s a lot to be said for Molly Weasley. She doesn’t live her life in mortal peril (unless you count Fred and George), but deep down she’s as strong and courageous as any hero.

Describe yourself in 30 words or less: an emotionally irregular geek girl, with a consuming crush on a Timelord who has somehow managed to produce a book and a family

Do you have a burning question for Mel? Reply here or visit us at facebook or twitter @ouroborusbooks

Author Intro – Mitchell Tierney

So we thought it was time you got to know us writers. This week we start with our most prolific blogger Mitchell.

ImageName: Mitchell Tierney

Age: 34

Books published: Everdark Realms Book I

Books coming soon: Everdark Realms Book II, Book III. Heather Cassidy and the Magnificent Mr Harlow, The Devil Lives Beyond the Wall.

Top three authors: Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Joseph Delaney equal for third place)

Favourite colour: red

Favourite animal: Cats or Three Toed Sloths

Favourite quote: ‘We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.’ Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Top three movies (or movie series): Fight Club, Shawshank Redemption and Star Wars

Favourite reading genre: Weird fiction, non-fiction,fantasy

Favourite TV show: Sons of Anarchy, Amazing Race, Breaking Bad

If you could be any fictional character who would it be: Tyler Durden

Describe yourself in 30 words or less: Addicted to writing. Motivation to succeed in the publishing world. Driven to become a better writer. Always learning and setting myself goals. I have a red beard and glasses.

Do you have a burning question for Mitchell? Reply here or visit us at facebook or twitter @ouroborusbooks

Published in: on January 18, 2014 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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Turtles Fight With Honour

People complain about violence in show kids watch. I mean, I can see their point, filling impressionable young minds with the worst of human society. Yet there are shows of undeniable violence that show humanity’s best as well.

Image I’ve been thinking a lot lately about something a friend of mine said. She said that she reads fantasy, and while most people tune out after the word ‘fantasy’ she reads further and has taken from it a code of honour that she lives in her daily life. I grew up watching reruns of the old Batman TV series, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Astro Boy, Star Wars and many more. The ones I’ve listed are all, arguably, violent. Batman, with its biff, bop and zowie, Ninja Turtles kicked butt on a daily basis while Astro had machine guns in his butt, not to mention the guns and swords in Star Wars. Really, what could my mother have been thinking, letting me watch these things?

As a mother myself these days, I come up with a couple of answers of my own. The first is simple. You can’t shield your kids forever. Cotton wool does not protect your kids for long. Eventually, they or the world will rip the cotton wool away and they will be completely exposed to all the nasties the world has to offer. All we can do is teach our kids well, and hope that when they do come face to face with the world, that we have taught them enough. For me, a part of that is exposing kids to what the world is really like, in small doses. Just as you would teach a child to get used to all the household jobs they will need to care for as grownups by teaching them to clean their room. So, on TV, they see that not everyone is nice, and when I go to explain that they need to be careful talking to people they don’t know, they can understand why.

The second reason goes back to what my friend was saying, about shaping your life from ideals set forth in books or shows. She wasn’t referring to violence either. She is not a violent person. All of the shows I mention are violent, but they are primarily hero stories. Yes, the heroes fight, but it is rarely for themselves. They fight to protect those who need protecting – helping those who don’t have their abilities, or their gifts. THAT is the part of these stories that sticks with me, long after the days of play-fighting with my brother in the kitchen. And this is all the more important, because life ISN’T really like that. People don’t always live their lives with honour, look out for one another and try to make their little corner of the world better.

Image While the morning cartoons are playing this morning, I found something I personally thought more disturbing than Ninja Turtles, Ben 10, Young Justice or any of it. What I saw was an ad for a Barbie ‘Glamping’ Trailer… Quick definition for those not in the know ‘glamping’ is ‘glamour camping’ – basically camping with all of the luxuries of home and none of the actual camping bit. I’m not a camper. My idea of roughing it IS a serviced apartment, with a dishwasher and a dryer. All the same, if you’re going to go camping, luxury seems a bit… against the point. That said, why did I find that disturbing? Because I wondered what message that was sending to our kids? That you need stuff to be happy? Following that thought on, Barbie is a worse example to our kids, than a Turtle that was the anthropomorphised through an industrial accident. I’ve already drawn the line at Bratz dolls, because I don’t want my kids to be ‘brats’. Children/teenagers with attitude: It won’t do me or them any favours.

I try, in my small ways, to make the world a better place. I try to teach my kids to be good people. I try to be kind and understanding to those who need it. I spare change to charities, when I can and I nearly always buy a badge for the ANZAC/Remembrance day appeals. I try to recycle. It’s not a lot, but I have my own problems too. I’m not perfect. I try not to expect perfection in others. But most of all, I write about worlds where there are people – some like us, some not so much – who in all different ways, try to make the world better. I continue the tradition of setting ideals in print for others to take on, to try and live by and to pass on. I write, with honour.

~M A Clarke