Book Tour: A Conventicle of Magpies by LMR Clarke @lmrclarkeauthor @RRBookTours1 @castrumpress #RRBookTours #AConventicleofMagpies #Bloodskills

We are thrilled to share this amazing new book! A Conventicle of Magpies is the first book in the Bloodskills duology, and today we have an exclusive excerpt for you and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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A Conventicle of Magpies

Publication Date: January 6th, 2021

Genre: Gaslamp Fantasy/ Adventure/ Steampunk

Rook is a thief, and entirely unapologetic about it as she’s determined to do anything to ensure her mother and siblings survive the squalid and dangerous streets of Stamchester.

Rook slips in and out of the homes of the ruling elite of Stamchester, the Avanish,like a shadow taking what she needs without regret.

Why should she? Had the Avanish not stolen her own people, the Saouiasei, from their own homes years before and transported them across the ocean to Stamchester to work as virtual slaves?

And, now the Avanish had no more use for Rook and her people, where they not determined to dispose of them?

The Avanish had already laid waste to a swathe of Saouiasei homes, a region which had become known as ‘The Scar’, in an attempt to drive them out?

However, Rook was not the only person hiding in the shadows. A  far more dangerous figure was haunting the filthy streets of Stamchester striking fear into Avanish and Saouiasei alike; Billy Drainer, a serial killer who not only murdered his victims but drained them of every ounce of their precious, life giving blood.

For within blood was a highly sought after commodity, the ability to enhance a person’s natural abilities through the art of Bloodskill. To be faster and stronger than a normal person was something those with money were willing to pay handsomely for.

‘A Conventicle of Magpies’ is a fast-paced gaslamp fantasy adventure set in a Victorian-inspired world. Perfect for fans of Charlie N. Holmberg’s Spellbreaker and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

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Excerpt

Safe and sound in the Magpie’s Nest, Rook divested herself of her corseted dress and heels and returned to the comfort of a shirt and trousers. The young woman fell into an armchair, threw her booted feet onto the battered coffee table, and plucked up a newspaper. Even though she’d been out all day, she hadn’t seen the latest in the Stamchester Review. As she scanned the page, Rook shook her head, and a lock of black hair fell over her face.

YET ANOTHER BLOODLESS CORPSE

At two o’clock this morning, a police constable came upon the scene of yet another gruesome murder. The body, which has not yet been identified, was found on the southbank end of the Buxridge Bridge. Like the other five bodies found in similar circumstances over the last few months, the corpse appeared to be drained of every last ounce of blood. Suspicion for this killing falls once more on the elusive fiend known only as Billy Drainer, although Inspector Kip Kerstammen declined to comment on this observation.

Rook licked her thumb and flicked to the next page. Inches and inches of news stretched through the broadsheet, as always full of sensationalism and very little fact. Only two parties enjoyed Stamchester’s string of murders: so-called Billy Drainer himself, whoever he was, and the newspapers. Both made significant gains from the events. News was always a profitable commodity in Stamchester, but blood was more valuable than gold. Those corpses weren’t bloodless for no reason.

A cough came from the doorway. Rook glanced up from the grim columns. A slim figure stood in the doorway, a tiny girl at the end of her teenage years. Pigeon stood in the low doorframe that led to the main Nest bar and jerked her head. The action sent her mass of dark curls tumbling to one side.

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

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I’m LMR Clarke, though you can call me Rain, and I’m a writer from Northern Ireland. I’m thirty-something, a parent, and a teacher. I love books and I also draw.

I’m an enby (non-binary) and am still finding my way! My stories are all about identity and acceptance, and trying to find your place in the world.

 LMR ClarkeTwitter | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

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Book Tour Schedule

February 1st

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

Books Rambling and Tea (Review) https://booksramblingsandtea.com/

Debjani’s Thoughts (Review) https://debjanisthoughts.wordpress.com/

Phantom of the Library (Review) https://phantomofthelibrary.com/

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The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

February 2nd

Gwendalyn’s Books (Review) https://gwendalynbooks.blog/

I Smell Sheep (Review) http://www.ismellsheep.com/

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

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February 3rd

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

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@_ebl_inc_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/_ebl_inc_/

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February 4th

Book Review Crew (Review) https://bookreviewcrew.blogspot.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Sophril Reads (Review) http://sophrilreads.wordpress.com

@dreaminginpages (Review) https://www.instagram.com/dreaminginpages/

February 5th

@ypsylynn (Spotlight w/ Review to Follow) https://www.instagram.com/jypsylynn/

Bonnie Reads & Writes (Review) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com

The Invisible Moth (Review) https://daleydowning.wordpress.com

@love2dazzle (Review) https://www.instagram.com/love2dazzle/

Michelle Meng’s Book Blog 4 (Review) http://michellemengsbookblog4.simplesite.com/

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Blog Tour: One Flew Through the Dragon Heart by C.S. Johnson

I’m pleased to share this new book with you all today! One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson. Today I  have an exclusive excerpt for you to read, and a chance to win a paperback copy of the book!

One Flew Through the Dragon HeartFavanFlowBook1Cover03.jpg

Publication Date:December 21st, 2018

Genre: Steampunk/ Fantasy

A Chinese Legend. A British Secret. Star-Crossed Lovers with Incompatible Magic.

Brixton Flew works as a professor of wielder instruction at Rembrandt Academy, hoping to erase the regrets of his youth along with the resulting debt. But when he comes face to face with his biggest regret—the woman who broke his heart, Adelaide Favan—Brixton soon realizes his troubles have only begun.

Unable to control her magic, Adelaide knew leaving Brixton was the only way to protect him when they were younger. Now she discovers he is the key to recovering the Dragon Eyes, a legendary treasure connected to her magic and her family’s disgraced legacy—and she knows the risk is great, to both his life and her heart.

With others seeking the power of the Dragon Eyes, Brixton and Adelaide must outwit their foes and face down their families to save London from an ancient legend that sleeps beneath the magic portal in their city.

But the renewed passion growing between them may prove to be the greater peril …

One Flew Through the Dragon Heart is the first book in a new steampunk series by C.S. Johnson, blending together history, romance, mecha-dragons and magic against the glittering backdrop of 1880’s Victorian London.

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Excerpt

FavanFlowBook1Cover03

“Brixton.”

His sixteen-year-old self was scurrying past the materials room when he heard his name spoken with a soft, foreign lilt. The sound broke through him like a magic spell, disrupting his intellectual musings and forcing him into an uncomfortable position.

He was in a hurry; his professor would be upset if he was late for class. As a star pupil, Brixton knew he had a certain reputation to live up to, and he had learned well not to call any negative attention to himself.

But at the sound of Adelaide Favan calling for him, he felt helpless—helplessly nervous and helplessly intrigued. It was almost as if some part of him had been waiting for her to call, and he had been more than ready to answer.

Out of guilt, if nothing else.

He nearly lost his grip on the stack of books he carried as he stumbled to a stop and glanced back at the doorway to the materials room. He could see a slim shadow at the back, where her dark skirts whipped around as she moved between stations, pulling out supplies and looking for spare coils, cogs, or anything else she decided she needed.

He did not have the faintest notion why she would be calling him. Adelaide never seemed to talk to anyone unless it was out of necessity.

“Are you coming in or not?” Adelaide straightened, looking up at him from behind a thick pair of black-rimmed goggles, the kind that magnified her eyes behind the protective glass.

Brixton felt a quick twinge of regret. She always wore them when she was working on something. He had a sinking feeling he was going to be late for class—but he stepped into the room regardless.

“I’m surprised,” she said as he tentatively approached her.

“Why? You were the one who called me.”

“Is that what I need to do to get your attention?” Adelaide put her hands on her hips as she stepped back from the table, where a box full of wires and screws and other various building materials winked up at him.

Brixton felt his face turn red. “If you’re talking about earlier, I—”

“I don’t want to talk about earlier,” Adelaide said. “You know who my father is. Do you think your friends are the first people to make fun of me because of my family?”

“They’re not my friends. Not exactly.” Brixton sighed. “They’re just people we go to school with. You don’t have to be friends with them. You just have to get along with them until we graduate.”

“Is that your plan?”

He shifted his feet as the clocks chimed loudly, the pleasant ringing turning sour in his ears. He was officially late for class. Brixton glanced back at the door.

Adelaide did not pay attention to the clock. She saw to her work, fiddling with one of the gearshifts. Brixton noticed she was also still wearing her workshop gloves. Along with her goggles, they were a semi-permanent part of her wardrobe. They were thick and black, going up past her elbows. The school issued them as part of the engineering department; Brixton hated wearing them, since the synthetic material of the gloves interfered with his ability to use magic. Adelaide was the only one who consistently wore them.

“It’s mostly my plan,” he said, finally answering her.

“Seems like a silly plan, especially for the next four years.”

“Earlier, when those girls were picking on you, I didn’t say anything—”

“I said I didn’t want to talk about earlier. People have made comments about me all my life. Getting accepted into Rembrandt two years earlier than everyone else is merely another unearned privilege in their eyes.”

Her voice was calm, but Brixton saw that her fingers, even buried in her large gloves, shook ever so slightly.

“I don’t presume—”

“But you do.” Adelaide pushed up her goggles onto her forehead again, brushing back her long black hair.

Brixton hated how he stared at her. Up close, her eyes were cloudy gray, speckled over with a silver lining. He noticed they were slanted, ever so slightly; along with her flattened nose and full lips, there were plenty of hints at her Chinese heritage. He had heard the whispers of her family, especially her father, the famous Captain Favan who led Her Royal Majesty’s Airship Force.

That was one of the main reasons he had tried to befriend her before. Brixton had approached her when she was first introduced to their class, eager to talk about her father’s legacy and how it was his dream to be in the Airship Force one day, too. Adelaide had ignored him then, brushing off his introduction.

Remembering that, he frowned. She has some nerve, admonishing me for poor manners.

He cleared his throat to give himself a moment to recover. “You should know you’re presuming that I’m presuming something. I don’t know you well enough to presume anything.”

For the first time, Adelaide softened her expression. Brixton briefly wondered if he had hurt her feelings, or if it was possible he had successfully pointed out her double standards.

She tugged the goggles down over her eyes a moment later, returning to the project before her. She said nothing as she picked up a suturing iron and began to burn a twisted bunch of wires together.

For a long moment, Brixton watched her. Despite her gloves, her movements were very precise—so precise that they almost seemed awkward.

Just like the rest of her, he thought with a small smile.

Adelaide was fourteen years old, two years younger than everyone else at Rembrandt. She had transferred into the school during the middle of their second semester, and ever since their failed first meeting, Brixton kept his distance from her, even if he continued to watch her out of the corner of his eye. He knew the others in his class teased her for her youth, her connections, and her ancestry.

He could sympathize with her some in that regard, given he received plenty of his own mockery. He was only at Rembrandt because of his scholarship. Most of the students were from the aristocracy, and the idea of rich merchants or lower-class workers—such as his parents—sending their children to Rembrandt was nothing short of scandalous.

He easily dismissed those who badgered him; he was here for an education, and nothing more.

But as Brixton gazed down at Adelaide, he suddenly wondered if she was able to do the same.

She was such a small thing. She was not only two years his junior, but she was also at least a foot shorter. The Rembrandt Academy uniform nearly swallowed up her body. He could see her vest was pinned in the back, and her long skirt was clearly hemmed. Brixton had a feeling she liked to wear the goggles on her forehead if for no other reason than they lent her another two inches in height.

“Why did you call me?” Brixton asked, daring himself to speak again.

Adelaide bit her lip, and Brixton found himself staring again.

Finally, she sighed. “I need you.”

His breath caught and his body went still. He was only able to move after she added, “I need your help.”

The words came out with a ripe bitterness in each syllable, and Brixton almost laughed at her discomfort. It was clear she never asked for help if she could avoid it.

He cleared this throat again, swallowing the last of his laughter, and nodded. “Tell me what it is.”

“I need help assembling this,” Adelaide said, pointing to the neat array of metal scraps and parts before her.

“What is it?”

“A dragon heart.”

“Beg pardon?” Brixton dropped his books, missing the table and causing them to clatter to the floor. He was certain he had misheard her as he bent to pick them up, but he was even more surprised when she laughed.

Her eyes were pushed back into slits behind her goggles, giving her a wizened, animated look as her smile widened. Brixton stared at her as he picked up his books and stacked them neatly beside hers.

“I’m only kidding,” Adelaide said, before she arched her brow. “Or maybe I’m not. Either way, I need your help with this part.”

She opened the top panel and pointed to a small knot of wires lined with alloy and copper. “This is an energy loop I’ve been working on. It’s a special type of power source. The Board wants to develop more efficient batteries, especially since the Edison Project has shown promise. Now they want to see what the wielders can do to improve it.”

“I talked with Professor Ohm about this,” Brixton said. “He wanted to find a way to generate perpetual energy. He thought electricity could possibly be infused with magic.”

“I know. I overheard your conversation after class a few days ago.”

“You did?” Brixton took the suturing iron out of her hand.

“He was dismissive of the idea as an alternative life source, but he was interested in seeing if you could figure out how to make his own theories work.”

He bit down on his cheek. He knew which conversation Adelaide was referring to, and it was one where Professor Ohm spent several minutes admonishing him for his eclectic reading tastes.

“What?” Adelaide asked.

“It’s rude to eavesdrop.”

She jutted her chin forward. “It’s also rude to ignore people who need help.”

“I don’t know if you’re saying that to make me feel bad about before, or if it’s just to make sure I stay here and help you,” Brixton muttered. “Do you care to tell me which?”

“I have an extra pair of gloves if you need them,” Adelaide offered.

He rolled his eyes as she sidestepped his question. “I don’t use them if I can help it.” He called up the power that resided inside of him. He could feel it flowing from his heart down to his fingertips, filling his palm. “I like working with my hands better. It’s easier to conjure up my talent. That’s my magic, as you might have known already. I can build things. Anything, really.”

“Well, no wonder you’re so good at this.” Adelaide pouted as Brixton undid her work. “You’re using magic.”

“And you don’t? Why are you in school to be an engineering wielder if you’re not using magic?”

“I like working with machinery,” Adelaide said. “I’m here because Rembrandt produces the best engineers in London. The fact that it’s a magical school does nothing for me.”

“Do you even have magic at all? I thought that was a requirement for coming here.”

“It is.” Adelaide went silent, and for the first time, Brixton saw her blush. With the small patch of red on her cheeks, he could just make out a light trail of freckles across her nose.

“Ouch.” He flinched as the suturing iron slipped across his fingers.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing. You don’t have to worry about my talent right now. All you need to know is that it’s not helping me fix this.” She crossed her arms and looked away.

“Right.” Brixton turned back to the item in front of him.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

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C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

CS Johnson | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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Feb. 25th

Reads & Reels (Excerpt) http://readsandreels.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

Love Books Group (Interview) https://lovebooksgroup.com/

Feb. 26th

The Bookworm Drinketh (Review) http://thebookwormdrinketh.wordpress.com/

Valerie’s Musings (Review) http://valeriesmusings76.wordpress.com

The Cozy Pages (Excerpt) http://thecozypages.wordpress.com/

Feb. 27th

Reading Nook (Excerpt) http://readingnook84.wordpress.com

Sammie Reads Books (Review) https://sammiereadsbook.wordpress.com

The Genre Minx Book Reviews (Review) http://www.thegenreminx.com/

Feb. 28th

Where Dragons Reside (Review) https://kernerangelina.live/

Feb. 29th

The Eclectic Review (Review)  https://eclecticreview.com/

 

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Blog Tour: A World of Intemperance by Ichabod Temperance (Vol. 2 in The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance) Excerpt & Giveaway! @IckyTemperance

Welcome to the Adventures of Ichabod Temperance!

A World of Intemperance (Vol. 2 in The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance)AWOI Cover.jpg

Publication Date: October 27th, 2015

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure/ Steampunk

It is New Year’s Eve, 1875. In this humorously told Steampunk tale, adventure-prone Ichabod Temperance and his lovely sweetheart, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, once again find themselves swept up into a whirlwind of misadventure and international catastrophe. The entire world totters on the brink of war, as various nations develop arsenals of dreadful power. It seems as though every nation on Earth lusts for Empire. A sinister plot boils to change the course of human history. Along with a remarkable cast of characters, including sapient animals and clockwork men, our heroes find themselves plunged into unimaginable peril!

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Excerpt

steampunk watch graphic

“I say, we can build a protective wall with our baggage to protect against the blustery gales, eh hem?”

“Good, Persephone, now we can improvise a tent from these blankets.”

“My parasol will be the tent pole, oui!”

“Good, DeeDee. I will slide the carriage bolt out of this rifle and we’ll use the barrel for ventilation. I will allow one candle to be lit.”

“I say, good show!  These are absolutely delightful diggs for the night, wouldn’t you agree, Mademoiselle Gauzot, eh hem?”

“Oh, oui my Persephone, our accommodations are most charming, to be sure! The Mademoiselle GoldenBear is the saviour of our little party. Hurrah and bravo Miss Abigail!”

I feel myself blushing!

“Thank you, DeeDee. Everyone brings their own unique strengths to the table; I am happy to share mine.”

“Oh, you bring many skills, Abigail, oui! You have the uncanny navigational prowess, that guides us unerring to our objectives! You are one with the woods and share a sacred bond with the animals that populate them. You command fantastique magical powers to defeat our enemies that rise from Nature Herself! Not to mention the strong punch, too, I think! The formidable, Mademoiselle Abigail GoldenBear! Vous êtes magnifique!”

“Oh, and let’s not forget the ever dependable and competent Mademoiselle Persephone, too! What are these mysterious blasts of red energies! Sacre bleu! This is an extraordinary power you display, Mademoiselle, oui!”

“I say, let me not keep my fellow adventure-mates in suspense another moment. I inherited a power through my family bloodline, a power that lay dormant until I intruded upon a laboratory experiment my father was conducting. I was bathed in a strange beam, which not only brought this dormant power to life, but increased its intensity greatly. I do not know its exact nature, but it feels similar to the scarlet glow of power that Miss Goldenbear wields. Through recent, Eastern Martial training, I have learned to harness this power and use it as my own. I also suspect a small amount of influence from the passing of the Revelatory Comet on my intellectual capacities. That is all the explanation I can offer. Quite frankly, I am most eager to learn the nature of your extraordinary abilities, Mademoiselle Gauzot. You display superhuman acrobatic and climbing skills as displayed on the icy cliff, and then moved at a pace almost faster than the eye could follow as you dispatched many Saurian Soldiers in the valley of Bar’Bazaul. Despite your slim stature, you are far stronger than you appear. I confess I’m most perplexed. Would you be so kind as to enlighten us, Mademoiselle, eh hem?”

“Oh, you are too generous I am sure. You ladies are far more interesting than Mademoiselle DeeDee I think, oui!”

“No, Deedee, I’m with Persephone on this. You have been more than just a little obtuse with the goods on your background. I insist upon a proper explanation.”

“C’est la vie? If Mademoiselle Abigail says I must, then I must, I think.”

Gauzot busies herself with the placement of her skirts, and the primping of her hair. After a quick moment to quickly gather her thoughts, DeeDee continues.

“Oh, I am happy to confess that I am the product of the finest finishing schools on two continents, oui!”

Gauzot excitedly warms into her obvious fabrication.

“Zee training in zee etiquettes, zee culinary and zee musical arts were but a start! Oh, oui! Riding zee horse and zee athletics of zee badminton. Oh, my, this has honed your DeeDee into quite zee athlete I think, oui!”

“Finishing school, eh? I think there’s something fishy in Kuetinpeenk Bay.”

“I say, thank you, ever so much Mademoiselle. My cares are assuaged. Your reassurances wash away any doubts I may have harboured, dear, dear, Mademoiselle Gauzot.”

~batt, batt, batt~

“Dearest, Persephone.”

~winky-dink~

“I say, there is just one more item that I would be, oh, so, grateful for another candid reply, if I may, though?”

“But of course, my child, I am zee open book, n’est ce pas?”

“Quite so. Your unfortunate allergy to sunlight. Have you suffered from this malady for some length of time?”

“Oh, Oui. I am afraid that the condition came upon me as a young woman, and I have languished in its grip ever since.”

“I see, yes, quite. Thank you ever so much, Mademoiselle.”

“Oh, but of course, my sweet Persephone.”

“Oh, I say, forgive me, but there is just one other little point I should like to clear up if possible?”

“Of course, Persephone, I am your most obedient servant. Please, my lovely girl, ask me anything that could be causing the concern in your pretty little head?”

“Why did you slay Colonel Ketchouppe, by exsanguination, on the Winniedepuh Express?”

“Duh-what!”

My two companions of this extremely tiny shelter never blink. Nose to nose, they both look calmly into each other’s eyes. Each femme calmly measures her opponent’s pupils and the depths within.

“Please calm yourself, Mademoiselle GoldenBear.”

Gauzot speaks to me without breaking the eyelock on Plumtartt.

“Persephone forgets that we had the delightful little Belgian detective clear up our little mystery, no?”

“No, Mademoiselle. He merely proclaimed the despicable Colonel as being unworthy of continued existence, an opinion agreed upon by all at the time. The murderer, though, was never discovered.”

“Oh! Zee mystery! To think back on it now seems so thrilling, no? But I tell you, somehow, I never let it bother me much, too!”

“Quite.”

“Oui.

“Rather.”

“This tiny tent is too confined for any physical outburst in this little stare-down, test of wills. You two shut it down or I will.”

“Your DeeDee is at ease, Mademoiselle Abigail.”

“I say, I’m as cool as an arctic eve.”

“To tell the truth, Persephone, I think DeeDee saved Colonel Ketchouppe’s life. I was about to break his neck right there in the club car when DeeDee suggested we all retire for the evening.”

“Abigail!”

“Just speaking the truth, Persephone. That man represented so much of what is hateful in this world. In fact, I recall being a little disappointed that someone else got to murder the disagreeable gentleman before I got the chance.”

“Miss GoldenBear! My word!”

“Well, maybe I did allow myself to grow over-fond of the dog. When he called him an ugly mutt, that was the last straw, for me. If I had a lead pipe handy, I would have done him right then and there, in the club car.”

“Abigail!”

“There, I have been truthful and forthcoming. As a show of respect, I would appreciate everyone present not withholding from one’s team-mates.”

“Okay, okay, I may have had some small part in the extinguishing of that smoldering lump of sulfur, but that was then and this is now. Do we have any biscuits?”

“Yeah, DeeDee, we’ve got biscuits, but not until we clear this business to its entirety.”

“Very well, ~sigh~ I killed him.”

“Why, Mademoiselle?”

“I was hungry.”

About the Author

ickyandkitka.jpg

Standing over five feet, seven inches and weighing in at better than one hundred and thirty pounds, Ichabod Temperance is ‘The Alfalfa Male.’ After lengthy music, karate, and pro-wrestling careers, Ichabod’s involvement with movie stuntwork has led him to write these whimsical, steam-driven adventures. Mr. Temperance and his lovely muse, Miss Persephone Plumtartt, live in Irondale, Alabama, USA, along with their furry pack family.

Ichabod Temperance | Amazon | Goodreads

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Print Copy of any volume in The Adventures of Ichabod Temperance Series! Click the link below to enter!

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Feb. 4th

Reads & Reels (Promo) http://readsandreels.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) https://jessicarachow.wordpress.com/

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Feb. 5th

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Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com 

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