Author Spotlight – Anthony Avina


Author Spotlight

anthonyIt’s time for another Author Spotlight! This week, the light shines on Anthony Avina. Anthony is the fusion of intense and visual-inducing horror, optimism and hopeful enthusiasm. As an indie author who has spent the last eight years creating unique and original stories that highlight the fact that both good and evil can reside in anyone or anything, the creative YA writer hopes to craft entertaining tales that take the reader into unimaginable worlds. With three successful series and a string of popular stand-alone novels and novellas, author Anthony Avina is a must watch indie author that is always working on the next great story to share with the world.

Anthony Avina’s latest novella, Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella, follows Francesca, an immortal teenage vampire who finds herself thrust into yet another dangerous mission from within the mysterious Nightmare Academy. This novella is a YA action/horror story with a splash of romance mixed in, and focuses on themes such as love, sexuality, what defines a monster and more.

This novella is the second in a prequel series to my hit adult series, Nightmare Wars, which is available on Amazon markets now. It is now available on Amazon Kindle formats, as well as Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo and more! Anthony Avina is currently in the process of editing his work in progress, the fourth novel in the acclaimed Nightmare Wars series, as well as the third novella in the Nightmare Academy series.

Excerpt from the Novella Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella

Freshman HuntPrelude: A Brush with Death

The faintest tinge of light began to creep over the cloudy skies above Raven. It was a brisk October morning, (Halloween to be exact), and the 50 year old woman stepped out of the diner where she worked as a chef with a smile on her face. She didn’t know why she was smiling. It had been a typical night, cooking hot and greasy meals for hungry travelers and truck drivers as they drove along the coast.

Robin “Raven” Barber lived in a small apartment in Ocean Park, CA, near her favorite place in the world, Santa Monica. She’d been working at Al’s 24-hour diner for four years, although she’d spent over twenty years working as a chef. She’d spent years cooking and serving all sorts of customers, and whenever she worked these late nights, she was used to dealing with the occasional asshole who claimed their food was overcooked or not cooked enough. This night was no different, and yet she was happy.

As she breathed in the cool morning air, she thought about the day ahead of her. Although she’d lived alone for the last six years in her small apartment near the beach, (with the exception of her two cats, Carrie and Harrison), she had two beautifully grown children who were set to visit her for her birthday today. Her son, Charles Barber, was a twenty-two year old photographer living in Los Angeles, while her daughter, Alicia Barber, was a 19 year old woman working as a waitress while working her way through school, studying to become a full-time makeup artist. It had been four weeks since she’d last seen her children, and as a working single mother, her favorite days had always revolved around seeing them.

As she walked to her car, the early morning sunshine catching in her purple tinged hair, she thought of her coming day and felt a smile tug on her lips again. Raven spent most of her time working, and the rest of her time dedicated to her love of the Wiccan culture. A practicing Wiccan herself, she loved the approach to magic that the Wiccan culture taught, viewing magic as a law of nature that is not yet understood by modern science. She hoped to one day see magic materialize before her eyes, proving to herself once and for all her beliefs were valid. She could deal with the occasional naysayer who called her “eccentric” for her beliefs, but she could not tolerate her own self-doubt, and so she pursued her beliefs with a passionate zeal.

As these thoughts rushed through her mind, a chill began to run down her spine, and she began to rub the intricate patterns of her tattoo on the base of her neck, which depicted the beautiful Moon Goddess draped across the moon’s surface, watching over the world. She did this without thinking, as this was usually a habit she had whenever something stressful or bad entered her life. She shook her head and continued towards her small blue Mini Cooper.

Suddenly, a howl rose through the early morning air. Raven tensed and scanned the parking lot, which was mostly empty except for the cars of the morning shift employees who had arrived a half hour earlier. She looked around, feeling as if she were being watched, and was shocked to see a pair of red eyes staring at her from some nearby bushes. Her breath caught in her throat, and her mind screamed for her to run, but her legs wouldn’t comply. She stared in amazement and horror at the piercing red eyes, but soon the growling began to emerge from the bushes, and she knew what was about to happen.

Finally snapping out of her shocked state, Raven turned and ran to her car, pulling out her car keys as fast as she could. She heard the sharp bark of an animal behind her, followed by the scurrying feet scuttling across the gravel parking lot. Just as she reached her car, a powerful mass of muscles smashed into her back, sending her flying into her car door and her keys flying from her hands. Sharp claws dug into her back, and she tried to scream in pain, but the breath had been knocked out of her. She was sure she was going to die, and so she said one last prayer of sorts to the Moon Goddess, asking for her protection for her children now that she would no longer be there.

Before she could finish her thoughts however, another powerful shock hit the animal attacking her, and she found herself free from its death grip. She rolled over onto her back, wincing at the bloody tears in her back, and looked in terror as she watched a beautiful teenage girl tearing into a shaggy black mass. The animal in the girl’s grasp yelped in pain, and then fell silent and unmoving in the young woman’s arms. The girl dropped the animal, which looked like a giant ball of black fur, to the gravel, and looked up at Raven.

The girl’s eyes were the loveliest shade of emerald green Raven had ever seen, and her beauty was evident, but Raven looked on in horror as she saw the girl wipe a smear of black blood from her mouth, spitting out large gobs of the blood onto the ground.

“Are you ok?” the girl asked, wiping her hands and face with a cloth that she pulled out of her jean pockets.

“What….what…” Raven stammered, staring up in horror at this strange woman.

“She’s in shock,” a voice spoke up behind Raven. She turned to see the strangest sight yet, a handsome young man with skin the color of the ocean and swirling lights surrounding him.

“I can tell. She was attacked by a hellhound. This is definitely the place it’s going to happen,” the girl remarked to the man. Raven thought she detected a hint of tension between the newcomers, but the pain was becoming overwhelming and delirium threatened to slide between the cracks in her mind. She walked over to Raven and in one swift motion picked Raven up off the ground, as if she weighed nothing. “Can you fix her up Jasper?”

“Sure can, Francesca. It’ll just take a second,” the man replied. Before Raven could speak, she felt a warm and pleasant tingling sensation run down her back, and soon she felt her back was whole again. “There you go my dear, you’re injuries should be healed, as will your amazing t-shirt. I felt a strong magic in you. Are you a Wiccan by any chance?”

“I’m…yes, I’m a Wiccan. I’ve…I’ve been searching for proof of magic for years, and you’ve given it to me. Thank…thank you both for saving me.”

“You are most welcome my dear, but we must take your memories of this event. This area is going to be a dangerous place to be for the next twenty-four hours, and we can’t have anyone remembering seeing us here,” the man, (Jasper was what the girl, Francesca, called him, Raven thought to herself), replied.

“Oh please, I can’t forget this. This is what I’ve searched for. You are the answer I’ve always sought.”

“I’m sorry my dear, but you can’t remember us. However, maybe we can leave you with a little token of magic,” Jasper replied. He waved his hand in front of Raven’s face, and her mind went blank. Francesca guided the woman into her car, sitting her in the driver’s seat and putting her keys in the ignition. When she came to, Raven would only remember falling asleep in her car, and nothing more. Jasper smiled as he left a little box inside the car with Raven. Then they shut the door, and walked back into the forest near the diner, off to their adventure.

Raven woke several minutes later, and laughed as she remembered falling asleep. She shook her head, smacked her cheeks to wake herself up, and then started the car. Before she left the parking lot however, she spotted a small box sitting on her dashboard. She picked it up, and saw a note, which simply read, “Never Stop Believing, J.” She shook her head in amazement, not sure who J was, but when she opened the box, she saw a small piece of paper inside. The paper seemed to have some sort of incantation written on it, and laughing to herself, she playfully spoke the words aloud.

“Ignitus Minimus!”

As she finished the incantation, a small light emerged from the box, and a miniature firework show played before Raven’s eyes. She stared in wonder as the spell played out, and she felt a tear of joy spilling down her cheek. From the woods, Francesca and Jasper watched the woman smile, and Francesca turned to Jasper with an equally big smile on her face.

“What?” Jasper asked.

“That was a wonderful thing you did for her,” Francesca remarked. She knew they had to seek shelter from the sun soon, but she wrapped her arms around Jasper and enjoyed this small moment with him. The tension between them vanished, and they found themselves lost in the moment.

“With all the horror coming our way tonight, I think we both needed that as much as she did. The smallest glimmer of hope can turn the worst of tides,” Jasper replied. She smiled, and hoped he was right. The things that they would have to face that night would be horrible indeed, and all they had going for them was hope. She only hoped that hope would be enough.

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Author Spotlight – Maria Riegger


Author Spotlight

Welcome back to another Author Spotlight. This week, I’d like to introduce you to Maria Riegger.

mariaMaria is based in the Washington, DC area. She is a banking/corporate attorney by day (but please don’t hold that against her), and a fiction author by night.

Maria is a Gemini whose head has always been in the clouds. From a young age, her mother scolded her for not paying attention; when she was bored, she would make up stories in her head. She has been writing since she was about thirteen years old. A lover of languages, she speaks French, Spanish, and Catalan.

She has been caught air-guitaring in public. She loves to laugh, and is the “go-to” person if a friend needs someone to laugh at his lame jokes. In true Gemini fashion, she indulges both her logical personality as an attorney as well as her creative fiction-writing personality. She loved law school and even misses it, which led her friends to conclude that she is certifiable.

A native of the Washington, DC area, she is a political junkie who has respect for all views and who admires the political involvement of Americans. She loves nothing more than a solid political discussion where all views are represented.

An irreverent Gen X’er, she writes gritty contemporary romance, with plenty of sarcasm.

Law School Heretic series

miscalculatedMiscalculated Risks

What would you do if you met someone who defied all of your stereotypes?

Outspoken and abrasive, law student Isabel enjoys arguing with just about everyone, including her friends. It’s 2010, and her strained relationship with her mother, less-than-stellar job prospects and frustrations with the conformist political culture of Washington, DC have left her resentful and unfulfilled. Only her sisters and a few good friends are able to keep her semi-grounded. When she meets a new fellow student who dares to challenge her, she is intrigued but skeptical. While Isabel is risk-averse where her feelings are concerned, she is also becoming increasingly curious. She’s afraid to get close, because being vulnerable always lead to being hurt, doesn’t it?

Let’s take a peek inside

Then suddenly a soft voice cut through all the chatter.

“Hey, Isabel.”

I whipped my head up, looking over my open laptop.

It was Tarek.

Jesus. I hadn’t even heard him approach.

I decided to take in the entire sight of him. Since he had addressed me directly, I finally had an excuse to take a good look at him. I decided afterward that it was kind of a mistake.

He was wearing a black T-shirt with dark jeans. His T-shirt hugged his chest, which, like his entire body, was lean and muscular. His short beard and goatee were neatly trimmed. He was certainly dark enough to be what Lara and Eric called “my type,” although I usually went for Latin men. I guessed his age to be about 28, but his eyes held an experience that made him seem more mature.

He wasn’t super-tall. I guessed that he was between 5 feet, 9 inches and 5 feet 10 inches. I
was 5’6” so I more or less did a quick comparison. His curly black hair hung in carefully
groomed, tight tiny ringlets around his face and almost down to his shoulders. He was incredibly sexy. He probably had to spend a lot of time on his hair, moussing it up, and that if he let it go it would probably be frizzy. His curls reminded me of Lara and her unruly hair, although her ringlets were more tousled and larger, and always framed her beautiful face perfectly. She was forever straightening it, but I kept telling her it looked gorgeous in ringlets, like Tarek’s curls did now. I felt myself softening a little at the thought of my sister, but I steeled my reserve and plastered a semi-scowl on my face. My scowl and general surly attitude were my defense mechanisms. After enough unpleasantness, people generally left me alone. I liked it that way.

Eric, Josh, and Dinesh were somehow building up a tolerance for it. It was starting to piss me off.

Lately, everything was pissing me off.

I had to admit, however, that I was intrigued as well as annoyed. Few people had the nerve to come and talk to me like this, with no warning.

I decided not to say anything at first. I just stared and raised my eyebrows.

He waited a good three to four seconds before he spoke. The left corner of my mouth started to go up into a smirk. Invariably, there were only two reasons a guy like this, a semi-stranger no less, would deign to talk to me. If he was going to miss class and wanted to get my notes, he was shit outta luck. And if he wanted a booty call, well, I wasn’t quite sure yet how I would handle that. Little did I know, he wasn’t going to ask me either of those things.

Acceptable Misconduct

misconductAll’s fair in love and law school. Or is it? 

Antagonistic Washington DC law student Isabel must face her unsettled past and navigate the final weeks of the semester while figuring out fellow student Tarek’s feelings for her before he slips away. Isabel’s rational mind and her emotions are at odds, but will she have the guts to see where this leads in spite of an uncertain future?


Book 3 coming soon (Title to be determined)

Other books by Maria:

Thunder Struck

thunderWhat do you get when you cross an East Coast Catholic Republican with a West Coast hipster atheist Democrat?

Monica, a Republican congressional candidate, who had a past affair with her Democratic opponent, Brian, must now deal with the fallout from a public scandal while navigating a razor-thin election and resolving her recurring emotional attachment to her opponent.

As oversized egos and the desire to win an election at all costs threaten the bond slowly forming between these two political opponents, they end up discovering that they may have more in common than they originally thought.

ScorpioYour Scorpio Child: A Guide for Parents

Scorpio is the most misunderstood of all the signs in the zodiac. Much has been written about Scorpio men and women. However, the Scorpio child remains somewhat elusive, mostly because Scorpio children do not usually say what is on their mind. Successfully raising a Scorpio child involves mindful parenting, including being conscious of your child’s feelings, and tuning out from distractions and tuning in to the child. I hope that you find the information in this book useful.

All of Maria’s books are available at

Connect with Maria through her Amazon author pageFacebook, Twitter, or through her website

She has published a Self-Publishing Primer, which she’s giving away for free to new mailing list subscribers. You can click here to get it for free.


Author Spotlight – Colin Ward


Author Spotlight

This week, the spotlight shines on Colin Ward.

colinColin has been writing for about twenty years, producing plays and musicals, especially as part of being a Drama teacher in a previous life. He released his debut novel, To Die For in August 2017 – a crime fiction, serial killer thriller – and has been getting fantastic reviews. Now he has three more titles: Ripples – a collection of poetry, Stench of Death – a short story, and No Smoke – a play. It was after getting into authors such as Simon Kernick and Mark Billingham, and always loving TV crime dramas that have shaped Colin’s main genre. Almost all of his writing centers around building up to the plot twists, taking readers on a journey. He’s also not afraid to tackle the harder subjects.

His forthcoming projects include a novel adaptation of No Smoke and a collection of 100 war poems to mark the anniversary year. As a committed self-publisher, Colin writes, formats and designs his books, offering support to fellow authors needing help with their projects.

Let’s take a look at his books


stenchA missing man. The disappearance of a prostitute. A suspicious connection.

When DS Greg Randle is called upon to track down a sex worker as a personal favour, he and DS Martin Shaw stumble across a link with another of their cases.

Has someone’s life come to a violent end? Without a body to prove it, the two detectives must work quickly to establish the facts before more victims suffer the same fate. “Stench of Death” is a short crime fiction thriller, with a pacey story that bears Colin Ward’s trademark plot twists.

MULCH (Bonus short story)

The chase is on to catch the killer who plunged a knife into her partner’s chest. Following the shadowy figure deep into the murky depths of an abandoned building, how far the furious red mist take her?

Available now at Amazon




DI Mike Stone investigates an unusual murder. It quickly becomes clear that the killer has only revealed the first brutal chapter.

The case takes on a disturbing speed as Stone finds his professional and personal worlds colliding, exposing a painful past, and threatening his future.

Who is this case really about? How far must Stone go to uncover the truth? And at what cost?

(A signed paperback to available to UK buyers direct from the Author at

To Die For is available for purchase at Amazon

The ebook is currently HALF PRICE at £1.99 (paperback £9.49)

RIPPLES – a collection of poetry

ripplesRipples is an exploration of the effect and influence we have on each other–sometimes to build, at other times to break–as we share the world around us. Freedom and fate are woven together like the interplay between waves of our greatest oceans.

“History counts for nothing if it betrays a future, even with the beauty and miracle of life.”

This collection brings together poems written in a range of styles and forms, including free verse, haiku, and a number of experimental rhythmic and rhyming structures.


Get your copy at Amazon

No Smoke – a play

Detective Sergeant Ellen Cross is forced to revisit a child abuse investigation which failed to result in a conviction years ago. Is the same suspect on the hunt again?

As another local boy appears to become his new prey, the connections to the previous case begin to point towards some darker secrets lurking in the shadows.

Investigating the case off-duty, and against all advice, DS Cross must avoid triggering vigilante action from the boy’s emotionally fragile father as she tries to find justice for a family torn apart by tragedy.

No Smoke is a play about truth, perceptions, and lies amidst an uncomfortable relationship between the law, the media and society.

no smoke

Brave, brave theatre; strong writing; this is theatre at its most challenging; this is what theatre is all about.”-Geoff Thompson, BAFTA Award winner

Available at Amazon

For more information, visit Colin’s website or connect with him on Facebook or Twitter at @colinwardwriter or @inasmanywords


Author Spotlight – Jerold Last


Author Spotlight

Hello! Welcome back to Author Spotlight. Today’s spotlight is on Jerold Last.

jeroldJerold is a Professor at the University of California’s Medical School at Davis, near Sacramento in Northern California. Jerry, a two-time winner of The Indie Book of the Day Award, writes “tweener” mystery books (tough mystery stories that follow the cozy conventions of no graphic sex and no cussing), all published as e-books on Amazon Kindle, with six also published as paperback versions, that are fast moving and entertain the reader. Several of the Roger and Suzanne mysteries introduce the readers to South America, a region where Jerry has lived and worked that is a long way from home for most English speakers. He and his wife Elaine lived previously in Salta, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Jerry selects the most interesting locations he found for Roger and Suzanne to visit while solving miscellaneous murders. Montevideo, Salta, Machu Picchu, Cuba, the Galapagos Islands, and Iguazu Falls are also characters in these books, and the novels portray these places as vivid and real. Jerry and Elaine breed prize-winning German shorthaired pointer dogs; Elaine also provides technical advice for Jerry’s dog-related novels like The Deadly Dog Show, Hunter Down, Abra Cadaver and Roger and the Cancelled Czech, as well as editing for all of the books.

The three most recently published Roger and Suzanne mystery novels are:

rogerRoger and the Cancelled Czech:  Roger flies to Europe to investigate several murders.  Was the assailant who pummeled a man to death just outside a synagogue in Prague’s Old City human, or was he a Golem lurking in the area? Who is The Cobra, a shadowy character with major connections to the worlds of espionage and art theft?  In the meantime, Suzanne has her hands full taking care of a new baby and beginning to train her dog Romeo for agility competitions. Like all of the Roger and Suzanne series on Amazon Kindle, this is a tough, sometimes violent, but clean (no cussing, no sexual promiscuity) mystery that can be enjoyed either as a series entry or a standalone novel.  Free from KU.



Paperback version:


AbraAbra Cadaver:  Proving you can bury a body but you can’t hide it, German shorthaired pointer Juliet solves a complicated murder case in the popular mystery series featuring P.I. Roger Bowman and his scientist wife Suzanne. The setting is a winery in a small town in Northern California’s Central Valley. Why did the client’s husband, a California winery owner, disappear just a couple of days after his wedding?  The answer launches another suspenseful case that will entertain mystery fans, dog lovers, and wine aficionados alike.  As in all the Roger and Suzanne novels the language is clean, the sex is offstage, and the books can be read in any order so readers can begin the series with this novel, which is available either as an e-book or in a paperback version. Free from KU/KOLL.






rumRum, Cigars, and Corpses:  After more than half a century, U.S. citizens can once again visit Cuba.  What’s it like? Rum, Cigars, and Corpses, available from Amazon Kindle in both paperback and e-book formats, has the answer. This suspenseful mystery was inspired when the author and his wife recently took the same tour Roger and Suzanne join in the novel, so the setting is up to date and authentic. With a group full of suspicious tourists, the Cuban Intelligence Services, and a sprinkling of other spies and dangerous characters waiting for Roger and Suzanne in Havana, there’s no shortage of suspects in this whodunit thriller. Can be read as a series entry or a fully standalone novel.

Free from Kindle Unlimited



Paperback version:

Connect with Jerold through Twitter or Facebook