Tag Archives: A. M. Manay

Welcome to the Showcase Tour! – A. M. Manay @ammanay

Mirror, Mirror by A. M. Manay

“Mirror, Mirror” by A.M. Manay

Set in the world of The Hexborn Chronicles

 

Shiloh stood in her teacher’s doorway, pulling anxiously on the end of a pink braid that had snuck out of her hood. Brother Edmun was in high dudgeon, ranting about insults and ingrates. A wooden crate sat upon the table, straw peeking through the slats. She could feel magic pouring out of it like waves of heat; it wasn’t dark magic, but it didn’t feel like good magic, either.

“Master?” she ventured. “Would you like me to make your breakfast?” She didn’t bother to ask about the box. He’d tell her if he wanted her to know – and, in his own good time, not before.

Edmun looked at her as though she’d appeared out of thin air. He waved her off. “Don’t bother, poppet. I couldn’t eat.”

Shiloh’s eyes strayed to the crate, but she said nothing.

“Go finish your essay from yesterday,” Edmun barked.

Taking her seat at her little desk with her back to the table, Shiloh could hear Brother Edmun unpacking the mysterious arrival. It was all she could do to resist the urge to peek when she heard the sound of a hammer. Under his breath, Edmun muttered a constant patter of unintelligible complaints. At last, she heard him pull out a chair and collapse into it. Carefully scanning the page once more for any mistakes, she stood to present her work to her master.

He looked down at the offering in her little hand, her words marching neatly across the page. Pen in one hand and her paper in the other, the glower slowly disappeared from his face as he read, leaving behind a hint of satisfaction. At last, he nodded, resting his unused pen. Shiloh exhaled in relief.

“Well done. A princess at the Academy could not have done better at twice your age.”

“Thank you, master!” Her smile lit up her eyes, which then strayed over Edmun’s shoulder to a mirror with gilded leaves and lacquered flowers hanging on the wall. The ornate frame looked out of place in the rustic mountain cabin.

“Don’t look in it more than you can help it,” Edmun ordered, calling attention back to her teacher’s face.

“Yes, master,” she replied. “May I know why not?”

Edmun hesitated.

“I can feel that it’s magic, master,” Shiloh continued.

He snorted. “I’m sure you can.” She waited for more, but knowing well enough not to press him.

Edmun heaved a sigh. “A man can give you a gift out of love, to please you. Or, he can send it as an insult, to remind you of errors and to caution you against repeating them. This mirror is the latter.”

“What does it do?” she asked.

“That is none of your concern,” he replied. “And that is all I will tell you. Go get a wand from the cabinet.”

Excitement sheathed Shiloh’s face. “We’re using wands today?”

Edmun glanced down at her from beneath his eyebrows. “Is there another reason I’d ask you to get one? Now, do it quickly, before I think better of it.”

 

***

 

The following evening, Shiloh picked up a clean rag and set about the dusting. Edmun was busy in the temple, preparing for the upcoming Feast of the Father. As soon as she was done in the house, she was to join him there. As usual, the red cabinet took most of her attention. The many books, wands, and magical curiosities inside had to be carefully wiped and returned to their accustomed positions. It was tedious work, but she was pleased that Edmun trusted her with the task.

Her work on the cabinet finally completed, she turned to dust the mirror and gasped. The silver surface had turned to black. A face appeared, and not her own. Shiloh took a step backward.

A man cocked his head to the side, a slow smile spreading across his face. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but Shiloh did not wait to hear the words. She ran, her head scarf flying behind her all the way to the temple doors. She threw them open.

“What?” Edmun demanded, looking up from the altar.

“The mirror,” she panted. “It turned black, and then there was a man…”

Edmun crossed the floor and took her by the shoulders. “What did he see? What did you say?”

“Nothing! I ran as soon as I saw him. I was only finishing up the dusting. Who was he?”

Edmun ran a hand over his mouth and chin and took a deep breath. “The most dangerous man in the kingdom. Silas Hatch.”

“The Hatchet?” Shiloh shivered. “The king’s spymaster? Why would he appear in your mirror?”

“Who do you think sent it? Hatch likely meant to speak with me, to threaten me. The king hates and fears me for reasons you well know.” His brows drew inward. “He gave you a right scare, didn’t he, poppet?”

Shiloh nodded. Edmun knelt to look her in the eye. “Now, if I were a kind man, I’d tell you that you need not fear him. But I’m not, so I’ll tell you the truth. You should be terrified of him. If you ever give him reason to believe you are disloyal to the crown, he will slit your throat with his own hands.”

“Why would I ever be disloyal to the crown?”

Edmun placed a hand on her head. “Good girl. Now, put that man out of your mind and help me ready the temple for tomorrow.”

Shiloh nodded, yet the ice of fear in her stomach remained; as did the look of worry on her beloved teacher’s face.

 

***

 

Shiloh sat on her bed in the loft above her father’s smithy. Upon her blanket lay an array of charms she’d just made for protection against all manner of hexes or ill-wishing.

The look upon the mirror man’s face had chilled her to the bone—something about the smile. It had been predatory. Proprietary. Wary. It had given her the distinct impression that the man’s interest lay not only in her master but in herself, as well. I will not leave my teacher unprotected.

She pinned one charm on the linen beneath her tunic. The others she gathered into an old handkerchief. She tied it tight and placed the bundle in her pocket along with a jar of paste.

She knew Edmun would already be in the temple performing his ablutions for the feast day. She let herself into his house and crossed warily to the mirror. She exhaled with relief to find it clad in its ordinary silver.

Carefully, she lifted the mirror off its nail and turned it face down upon the table. She held the pot of glue in the crook of her elbow and pried it open, then affixed seven charms to the back of the Hatchet’s “gift” to her master, one for each of the Lords of Heaven. She returned the mirror to its proper place and hurried to the temple before Edmun could scold her for tardiness.

 

***

 

At dusk, Edmun sat his tired bones into his favorite chair and looked balefully at the mirror. Given the visitation to Shiloh the night before, Edmun expected to see Silas Hatch’s face, yet as the pink light of sunset faded, the man did not appear.

“Perhaps tomorrow,” Edmun murmured. “I had hoped to get it over with.” He looked up at the mirror and realized that it was just slightly askew. Standing, he removed it from the wall. Turning it over, he found Shiloh’s handiwork.

Edmun smiled and shook his head. “My sweet, clever poppet. Too clever by half.” Sighing, he plucked the charms from the backing and set the mirror on the table, leaning against a water pitcher. Silas appeared in moments.

“Master Edmun, I feared you had forgotten the terms of our arrangement. There was to be no meddling with the mirror.”

Edmun swallowed heavily. “It was a momentary lapse,” he lied. “I thought better of it.”

Silas grinned. “You don’t have lapses. It was the girl, wasn’t it?”

Edmun said nothing.

Silas laughed. “It was. Ha! And what is she, only eight years old?”

Still, Edmun said nothing.

“She must love you as much as I did,” Hatch mused.

“What do you want?”

“Are you really teaching her mirror magic this young?” Hatch asked, brow raised.

Edmun closed his eyes and sighed. “Of course not. Evidently, I didn’t teach you your own well enough, as she defeated you with a handful of charms and some paste.”

The young man’s ears flushed. “Well, then,” he managed, “I shall have to redouble my efforts.”

“You do that. And Silas?”

“Yes?”

Edmun leaned in. “The next time you frighten that girl, it had best be after I’m cold in the ground.”

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Paranormal Fantasy Author A. M. Manay Offers Her Take On Vampires

Hello, dear readers! It is my pleasure to introduce to you indie author A. M. Manay. She writes vampire novels meant to be the anti-Twilight stories. So have a read and discover the new voice of the vampires! Take it away, Ms. Manay…

 

In the world of vampire fiction, there are several names that loom large.  There’s Dracula.  There’s Anne Rice.  There’s Sookie Stackhouse.  And, of course, there’s Twilight.

In writing She Dies at the End, one of my goals was for it to be the anti-Twilight.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I read all the Twilight books.  They are page turners.  There’s no denying that they’re fun.  But there are some things about them that really bother me.

First, I shall complain about the romance.  Edward emotionally abuses Bella.  He’s incredibly controlling, and her worship of him is disturbing.  Her total nervous breakdown after he leaves her paints a terrible picture to young girls of what it means love someone and of how you process your feelings after it goes bad.  This is one reason that November goes through a failed romance in She Dies at the End, Book 1 of my series.  I wanted to show that a girl can be sad about a first love gone wrong but still stand up for herself and move on.  I also wanted to acknowledge the fundamental creep factor of an ancient vampire going after a teenage girl.  The power dynamics of that are really unacceptable, no matter how much you try to gloss it over by saying that he’s a virgin or that she’s his one true love.  The romances in my book are portrayed as sketchy because they are, in fact, sketchy.

Another thing that irritates me about Twilight is the lack of diversity in the main cast.  You do have Native American werewolves, but otherwise, it’s white people as far as the eye can see.  The only Black dude has a handful of pages and then dies.  Why are all the Cullens white?  There is no reason for that.  They’re pretending to be a family formed by adoption, after all.  Representation matters.  When the default race for every character is white, that sends a strong, negative message to people of color, especially young people.  I deliberately create my characters to reflect the diversity of the world around me, here in the San Francisco Bay Area.  I think that makes my books more interesting and sends a positive message to all readers, not just readers of color.

Finally, there’s the total lack of any consequences for bad decisions.  In the Twilight series, Bella knows that if she becomes a vampire, she is likely to kill someone.  Her vampire friends tell her this over and over again.  Some of the Cullens even take bets on how high the body count will be.  And yet, Bella wants to become one anyway, so she can be with Edward forever and never get old.  And instead of having to face the consequences of what is fundamentally a selfish decision, she’s conveniently such a special vampire snowflake that she can resist her urge for human blood with no mistakes.  I find that to be an unsatisfying cop-out, one I try to avoid in She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2).

My severely mixed feelings about Twilight have certainly informed my writing, and they serve as an example of how helpful it can be to read within your genre.  It helps you to see the elements you love as well as those that are more problematic.  I will likely never have the level of success achieved by Stephanie Meyer, but I’m proud of the story I’ve created.  I think my series is enjoyable, intelligent, interesting, and socially conscious, partly because I read Twilight with a critical eye.  I hope you’ll agree.

Read more about my vampires, fairies, and werewolves in She Dies at the End, She Lights Up the Dark, and She Sees in Her Sleep, all available this weekend for only $0.99 each!

Book blurb for She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2)

A frightening vision stalks November, even in her grave . . . and things go severely sideways just as soon as she claws her way out of it. 


Continuing the story begun in the well-received paranormal romp She Dies at the End, She Lights Up the Dark finds November Snow struggling to adjust to her new life as a vampire with none of the support she’d expected. Her nemesis Luka has plotted to isolate November and scatter her allies as he executes his plan to bring human society under his control. Her loneliness leads her to become emotionally entangled with a charming but likely untrustworthy fellow vampire.
 

 

When danger flares, November discovers that her psychic gift has expanded in a powerful and perilous fashion. Coerced into close company with her enemy, she fights to master her power and to uncover the secrets that may help her to save both her friends and the human world from being crushed under Luka’s boot. November is determined to stop Luka as his plan builds toward an unknown and deadly climax, but she may find that lighting up the dark comes with a high price to pay. 

This books contains violence, some sexual content, and occasional profanity.

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Short Excerpt from Chapter 1 of She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2)

She knew only one thing after she clawed her way out of the ground:  she had to eat.  Two sheep and a billy goat gave their lives for November’s first meal of her new one.  She required no persuasion or instruction, falling upon them instinctively when she’d emerged from the earth, filthy and ravenous.  She tore into them, a gleeful savage.  

When she was full and they were empty, she knelt next to them, stunned, reaching up a tentative finger to touch the fangs protruding from her bloodstained mouth.  The animals had tasted of grass and sunshine and milk.  For a few moments, she had lived their bucolic lives, now over.  She felt warm, fuzzy with pleasure.  Her head spun.  

November wasn’t quite sure where she was, or even who she was, but then it all came back in a rush.

As she walks among her friends, a sniper’s bullet finds her belly.  She falls to the dirt as she takes the death meant for another.  Ilyn carries her inside, eyes burning.  She lies in front of a fireplace, her life bleeding away, but there is no pain on her face.  Her friends surround her.  She agrees to live to fight another day.  He takes her blood and gives her his own.  Now there is fear and struggle and rejection, but it is too late, far too late.  They watch her die  They watch her die because of them.

November returned to the present, the ground solid beneath her knees once again.

I died.  I’m a vampire.

For a moment, she wasn’t certain if she would laugh or weep.  The amazed cackle that escaped between her fingers settled that question.  It was only after the glow of feeding had faded that she noticed the pandemonium that had erupted around her.

They were looking for something.  Zinnia was on the ground.  She looked completely undone.  And Ilyn . . . Ilyn looked terrible.  It took November a long, confused moment to realize that what they were looking for . . . was her. 

She looked down at her own body, and it was perfectly visible and solid to her.  

“Zinnia?  Ilyn?”  

She tried to touch her maker, reaching out a hand to toward his arm.  Her blood-stained fingers passed right through him.

“It’s no use, kitten.  They cannot hear you.”  

November closed her eyes, willing that familiar voice to disappear, praying she’d imagined it.  When she got up the nerve to turn around, rage filled her, and she tackled Luka to the ground, fangs bared, screaming like a madwoman, “What have you done?”

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In addition to her work as an indie author of paranormal fantasy, A.M. Manay is a former inner-city chemistry teacher, a singer, a yoga enthusiast, a Clerk of Session in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and a mother through domestic open adoption.  She has a passion for increasing diversity in popular culture and for strong heroines who stand up for themselves, make their own decisions, and don’t depend on romance as their reason for being.

Be the first to know about the release of the upcoming sequel as well as bonus material about your favorite characters by

Checking out her website: www.ammanay.net

Signing up for the fan email list: November’s News

Following the author on Facebook: facebook.com/ammanaywrites

Following the author on Twitter: @ammanay

Following the author on Instagram: instagram.com/a.m.manay

Following her Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/ammanay

Author Links for A.M. Manay

She Dies at the End: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0112S00KI

She Sees in Her Sleep: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B019EG1NWE

She Lights Up the Dark: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01BQGGBMW

Website: www.ammanay.net

Fan email list: November’s News

Facebook: facebook.com/ammanaywrites

Twitter: @ammanay

Instagram: instagram.com/a.m.manay

Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/ammanay

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