Excerpt From “The Knowledge Holder” by Harry Margulies

TKHFrontsmallGreg Simon is an ordinary man, a salesman, a father, a widower, who just happens to discover that he is “the Knowledge Holder,” the one person who knows a great secret the rest of humanity does not know, and with it comes a unique ability to help others. Nothing is standing in his way – except for a team of FBI agents who specialize in national security issues. Greg’s new-found knowledge, if unleashed on the public, would give life a new meaning, and change the world forever.

Chapter 1

The appointment unfolded with tiresome predictability. My client, wearing a finely woven pastel sweater and coordinating pinkish blush of anticipation, sat with an unsettled, erect posture across from me. She had just purchased a new home. With it came the standard new home backyard, which was nothing but dirt.

“Have you had a pool before, Ms. Becker?” A more clever opening I’m sure had not been discovered.

“No, but I’ve always wanted one, and I promised myself this would be the house.” This was really good for me to hear, as I not only had to design the pool but sell it as well. With her comment she was in fact assuring me that I had already closed the sale and that I’d have to be some sort of blockhead to screw it up. In sales lingo, this is known as a laydown. Losing a laydown sale is like missing your mouth trying to take a sip of water. Since my shirt had been soaked more than once, I proceeded with my usual professional presentation and hoped for the best.

Such is the life of a swimming pool salesman, or Design Specialist, as my business card so eloquently misrepresents. My office is situated along a quiet hallway in a medium-sized Phoenix homebuilder’s design studio, pressed between a landscaper’s botanically embellished space, and a lighting specialist’s optimistically luminous showroom. When a contract is written for a new home, the buyers are asked if they have any interest in adding a pool. A yes answer gets them a two-hour riveting sit-down with me, Greg Simon, Design Specialist.

Sales started to crumble for my homebuilder about a year ago, and seemingly the next day you could shoot a cannon through my leather-bound appointment book and not hit a drop of ink. Other reps in my company would have proclaimed impending doom and glommed on to an extra account or a part-time gig hawking suds at Chase Field by now. But fortunately for me, I had strung together a number of good years during the boom—very good years—and was quite content watching my workload atrophy into a part-time job. I wasn’t flush with cash or anything, but my intermittently functioning, fertile shard of brain somehow prevented quintessential me from squandering my hard-earned riches. A few good appointments a month and my wallet and I were both rosy with contentment.

In any case, Ms. Becker and I were getting along pretty well, as was her pool design. That’s when things took a turn.

I thought I was just as boring as hell, since she was nodding off listening to me ramble on about the virtues of an in-floor cleaning system. It wasn’t until she actually fell off her chair that I realized maybe it wasn’t just me.

I rushed around my desk to where she had been sitting, hoping she had just slid off during a mini lapse of consciousness. Who could blame her, with my monotone and all? Maybe it was the immediate change of the shade of her skin to something in the pallid family, or maybe it was the way her eyes were wide open while actually not looking at anything that tipped me off. She was dead. This was not the sort of laydown I was hoping for.

To my credit, I didn’t even consider the loss of a sale as I dialed 911. I was, I guess, more scared than anything. I had never seen a dead person before. I was sure though. As a big fan of television crime dramas, I’d had as much exposure to dead bodies as most detectives or old-timey, half-baked coroners.

It seemed that I had just finished my conversation with the 911 operator when the paramedics arrived. This was a good thing, as I was a little more than weirded out by the corpse on the floor of my office. Just before the cavalry appeared, my head was jumping with thoughts of what I should be doing. Was it appropriate or necessary to be thinking of CPR? Not that I knew how to perform this on someone, but again, you watch enough television you should be able to attempt almost anything. Once, I made chicken piccata after watching some Food Network show. It wasn’t bad really and not as hard to make as I thought it would be.

It turns out, the paramedics did all these things for me, or I guess instead of me and for Ms. Becker. After all was said and done, I was right. She was gone. She was packed up and rolled away. I was left with maybe even a more creepy feeling than I’d had when she was still lying there on my office floor.


harry mHarry Margulies has written about romance, money, women, and other subjects he thoroughly enjoys but knows nothing about. The balance of his precious time is misspent as an internationally published cartoonist.

Harry is the proud father of two little girls, Jessica and Jill, who somehow are old enough to have graduated college. He resides in the desert city of Scottsdale, Arizona, where it’s imperative to stay hydrated. He lives with Joann, his wife of thirty years, which is the real reason he drinks.

Click here to buy: The Knowledge Holder


RRBookThreemidsizeThe body of a local realtor is found beneath the wheels of an inflatable figure of a Santa on a motorcycle. The realtor took great delight in ferreting out secrets, and everyone in this upscale housing development is hiding something. Could she have discovered a secret someone would kill to protect? There will be suspects galore, including a psychic, a con man, a woman trying to set up an online call-girl service, and the philandering sheriff himself. Not only is the victim someone he had an affair with, but he will also have to contend with an ex-wife who has moved back in with him and a jilted lover, both with their own reasons for wanting the realtor dead.

A new chapter will be posted every Monday on the Rubicon Ranch blog. If you don’t want to miss further chapters, please go to the blog and click on “sign me up” on the right sidebar to get notifications of new chapters.

We hope you will enjoy seeing the story develop as we write it. Let the mystery begin! Whodunit? No one knows, not even the writers, and we won’t know until the very end!

Excerpt from Chapter 2 by by J J Dare

Moody turned to see where everyone was staring and saw a police photographer taking pictures of a figure under a giant Santa decoration. How fitting for this place, Moody thought. A typical Rubicon Ranch gift—death.

In the light of the camera flash, she recognized Nancy Garcetti. The real estate agent looked as cold as she had in life. Moody stared at the clever handiwork of a realtor assassin. Out in the open and trampled by the crowds, what evidence was left to uncover the killer? Since the police department had been inept at running the Morris fans out of Rubicon Ranch, how in the world would they solve this crime?

Moody smiled as she thought of Sheriff Bryan interviewing the plastic Santa. Of course, with his wife in town, the sheriff was being kept on a tight leash. One of the deputies would probably end up taking the Christmas decorations downtown for a talk. The bulbs and wreaths would have to come in, too, as material witnesses.

Moody sighed. Sinclairs didn’t have feelings like normal people. Moody knew this and her smile faded. No matter what she did, no matter what she had to do, no matter what candy coating she put on, she would never fit in with the rest of the world.

She’d visited Jake regularly and, though she detested her brother, he was all that was left. Only he knew what it was like to be a Sinclair. There was no one else she could talk to. Well, the groupies, but they were worshippers, not compatriots.

“Morris did it,” she heard someone whisper behind her.

“Yeah, he did. Looks like something he’d do,” another voice answered.

“Dead don’t stop Morris,” the first voice said with a laugh.

“All he’d need is an arm and hand. Is that one of the pieces still missing?”

Seriously, these people were complete and utter morons. Sinclairs were special, but not that special.

However, wouldn’t it be something if this murder could be pinned on Morris? Although he’d been identified, Morris had been an anomaly during his lifetime. What if he really could come back? His books suggested it was possible.


Click here to read more:
Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 2: Mary “Moody” Sinclair — by JJ Dare
Rubicon Ranch: Secrets ~ Chapter 1: Melanie Gray — by Pat Bertram

Excerpt from IMAGES OF BETRAYAL by Claire Collins

Abandoned by her family, Tysan works as a waitress in a cheap diner. One cold evening, a beguiling, rugged young man barges into her life. He possesses the remarkable ability to take photographs of events that have not yet happened. Ty narrowly avoids a harrowing death in a disastrous explosion, only to be drawn into a dizzying cascade of conflicts involving a new family that takes her in, Walker-her apparent savior, David-her new admirer and her own family. Kidnapping, betrayal, obsessive love and courageous lovers co-mingle in this romantic thriller.


His eyes darted to the envelope on the table. He took a drink of coffee, swallowing too hard. When he turned back to me, his eyes were haunted. He reached out, grasped the envelope, and pulled out another picture. As he handed it to me, his words registered.

“You’re supposed to keep yourself safe.”

The photo I held was taken in the restaurant. I was standing behind the front counter, the picture taken from across the room. A man sat in front of me, only the back of his head visible in the picture. He was covered in soot and ashes. Pieces of his clothing were burned away and blackened. My skin was blistered and the remnants of my hair were singed. My uniform had burned to my body, sticking to me as I stood there, coffee pot in hand. The ceiling of the restaurant was behind me, or at least part of it. Grey, cloudy skies formed a backdrop where some of the ceiling and the wall to the kitchen used to be. The pieces of the restaurant in the picture were burnt; smoke still rising from the embers surrounding me.

The picture was dated two days from today.I dropped the picture like the paper itself was on fire. I didn’t want to touch it. In the photo, I stood there with a coffee pot in my hand, while everything around me and my clothes were in utter destruction. Walker snatched the picture from the table, dropping it back into the envelope.

“I’m sorry,” he said, taking my hand in his again. “Short of kidnapping you that day, I didn’t know any other way to tell you about this.”


Claire Collins resides in North Carolina and writes across many genres. She loves reading when she gets the time around her family and her work schedule. She currently has two novels available through Second Wind Publishing and is working on her third, Seeds of September. 


Click here to buy: Images of Betrayal

Excerpt From “She Had to Know” by Coco Ihle

After the deaths of her adopted parents, Arran discovers her long lost sister’s name and, despite a terrifying premonitory dream, embarks on a quest to find Sheena. After reuniting in Scotland, the sisters search for the reason their birth father and his housekeeper mysteriously died and why Sheena’s life is being threatened. Led to a cryptic rhyme rumored to map the way to an ancient hidden treasure buried deep in the bowels of Wraithmoor Castle, the sisters follow the clues. A murderer follows the sisters. Will the secret passages lead them to discovery and triumph, or death and eternal entombment?


Hours of compiling, arranging, rearranging and packing had left Sheena’s body fatigued, but her brain wouldn’t rest. She kept thinking about her father’s unknown cause of death. Something distracting would help, perhaps a book to read. Several were on the nightstand, and she looked through them. The Magus, by John Fowles, she’d already read. The next was Barbarians at the Gate, by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar. No, not in the mood. The third book was most curious. The aged volume of The Nature Library on Birds, by Neltje Blanchan, seemed especially heavy for such a small size. Sheena was immediately intrigued. The front cover had an illustration of a bluebird family: male, female and chick. How odd. This hardly seemed the kind of book her father would read.

The shock came when she opened the front cover. Inserted in a precisely cutout hole in the pages was a gun. Carefully, she extracted the weapon by the wooden grip and held it in the palm of her hand under the bedside lamp to get a better look. “MADE BERETTA USA CORP” was etched on one side of the blue-black metal barrel. The .22-caliber semi-automatic, just like the one she had learned to shoot a few years ago, was loaded.

As she was carefully returning the gun to the hiding place, she noticed a folded piece of yellowed paper tucked in the bottom of the hole. Laying the gun on the bed, she reached in to retrieve it and noticed the edges of the folds were weak and brittle. As she was carefully unfolding them, she felt a firm lump between her finger and thumb. A cracked piece of cellophane tape was stuck to one side of the paper, and under that, a key. A safe-deposit key. Stamped into the flat surface, were the initials, “CMB.” Chase Manhattan Bank on Madison Avenue, a few blocks away, was the bank on her father’s monthly statements. Why wasn’t this key in Father’s study with his other papers?

Turning the book over, she discovered another surprise. Inside this cover was another cut out section containing a small leather notebook, underneath which, a thick piece of cardboard separated the two compartments. She opened the notebook to the first page. In the upper right corner was written, “Oct./Nov.” Centered below was “This Book Belongs To: J.W.B.,” her father’s initials.

She plumped up two pillows and leaned back against the headboard, excited by this new discovery which appeared to be a journal. The entries were sporadically dated, and the writing, in her father’s hand, was scribbled and barely legible, as though written in a hurry. He had used initials rather than full names throughout. She read aloud the last entry dated the week before he died:

“Have the feeling I’m being followed. Yesterday, a car almost hit me outside the hotel. Driver didn’t stop, too dark to see license plate. Wonder if it has something to do with running into P.S. last week? Never liked that greedy snake.”

Sheena’s intake of breath was followed by an icy chill shivering through her body. With pounding heart she looked across the room at the photograph of her parents, singling out her father’s image and said, “What in the world happened to you? Did you die naturally? Or were you murdered?”


Coco, a product of foster care and adoption, spent over fifty years searching for her sister, whom she found in 1994. Thus the idea for SHE HAD TO KNOW was born. She discovered Scottish roots and plays harp and bagpipes, along with piano and cello. The Florida Writer’s Association published a short story of hers in 2009 in their first anthology. Coco is a member of MWA; SinC; FWA; The Alma Society, which aids in family searches; the DorothyL Digest and the Scottish St. Andrew’s Society.

Click here to buy: She Had to Know

Excerpt from “Cat Moves” by Karen E. Rigley

When Sharly Johnson finds her cousin, best-selling author Trina Golden, murdered and a kiss and tell autobiography manuscript missing, Sharly plunges into danger, betrayal and deception as she and Ripper the Cat unravel layers of the mystery.


The storm blew into Moon Bay, billowing with thunderous violet-black clouds to smother the night sky and anger the waves. Surf crashed and pounded the shore in deafening roars. Wind churned ocean scents up from the deep to saturate cold blasts of sand and sea.

The girl shivered in her brief sundress, wishing she’d dressed for warmth instead of sex appeal. Flaxen hair flying, she picked her way down to a beach swallowed by heavy darkness. Shells and driftwood crunched underfoot as her sandals squished along the shoreline. Blowing sand stung her eyes.

When Megan reached the edge of the water, she found it difficult to see the huge rock outcrop she knew loomed there.

“Did you bring the note?” came a voice from the darkness.

“Right here.” Opening her fist, she revealed a crumpled square of paper. “Hey, you aren’t Trevor! Who are you?” Confused, she tried to distinguish shapes in the darkness. “Who’s there?”

A biting gust of wind fired sand grains at her bare limbs. The damp cotton of her dress whipped against her body and she hugged herself for warmth. She could just barely make out the rock outcrop, a craggy silhouette in the inky darkness.

“Who’s there?” she repeated. As she waited for an answer, human shape separated from the rock.


Karen E. Rigley is an internationally published writer/poet/designer who’s won numerous awards for her work. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America and Red River Writers.. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications including: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Love Stories, Science Fiction Review, Grit, ComputerEdge, Andre Norton’s Tales of the Witch World 3, CATFANTASTIC Edited by Andre Norton & Martin H. Greenberg, CATFANTASTIC II and CATFANTASTIC III, Underwired Magazine, On the SingleSide, Magic, The Magic Within, Romance Writers Report, MysteryTime, Today’s Woman, Strange Wonderland, Warrior WiseWoman 2, etc. Her novel, That Carrington Magic was a launch books for Soul Mate Publishing and the sequel Wild West Cupid was released December 2012. A number of her other books are available through Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nookbooks. Also she’s co-editing The Spirit of Poe anthology which is a fundraiser for the House of Poe museum in Baltimore.

Click here for an interview with: Karen E. Rigley, Author of Cat Moves





Excerpt From “Red Magic” by Juliet Waldron

Red-headed Caterina von Velsen, a tomboy and superb horsewoman, detests her older sister’s husband-to-be. Christoph von Hagen is handsome and brave, but he is also a Casanova, a man with a reputation that stretches from his mountain manor all the way to Vienna. When Caterina’s older sister dies in a riding accident only a week before the wedding, she is forced to take her place. Now Caterina belongs to the very man she believes to be “a cold-hearted rake.”

Set in 18th Century Germany, RED MAGIC tells the story of a young woman’s transition from rebellious girl to adored–and adoring–wife.


“Ha! See her coming out of the pines over there?” Christoph von Hagen, his hazel eyes narrowing, lifted a muscular arm to point. “Just as I thought. She went through the rocky thicket south of von Beilers’s woods. Now she’s angling this way, the crafty vixen.”

The red Arabian mare with the taffy colored tail had begun a wild gallop across the pasture. The breakneck daring left no doubt that a superbly confident rider was astride.

It was a game, a game played by young aristocrats, a wild and dangerous game of “Fox and Hounds.” Several “Foxes,” given a head start, must reach the safety of a goal, riding across rough country, while the “hounds,” rode after them in hot pursuit.

The well‑to‑do players wagered among themselves on every possible outcome, but the prize for any fox who escaped was largest, particularly because it so rarely happened. Today escape was to be rewarded with a spirited yearling colt.

“But,” the speaker went on, a wry smile on his handsome face, “no one will ever catch that whirlwind of hers on the flats.”

Christoph von Hagen and his cousin Max had ridden fast, intent upon getting ahead of the hunt and setting an ambush for the last uncaught ‘fox’ at a steep hill just before the goal. Sitting easily on a powerful bay, Christoph was an Austrian nobleman in his middle twenties. He was tall, erect, and, under the fine tailoring of his elegant clothes, muscular. His dark, curly hair was captured in a black queue ribbon, and his large eyes flashed with intelligence and humor.

Along with an exceptional body, men and women alike agreed that von Hagen was good looking. Men described his face as “open” or “forthright.” The praise of the women was a good deal warmer, tending towards the classical. “Like some pagan god” was the phrase most frequently whispered behind fluttering fans.

Von Hagen’s companion shaded his eyes with his hand, trying to get a better look at the horse blazing across the flower dotted green below. His more ordinary blonde good looks were diminished by proximity to the dark giant.

“Hers? A female? Riding like that?” Fox and Hounds was considered too dangerous for the gentler sex. And wasn’t this fox astride? Astride and wearing trousers?

“The Devil,” the smaller man abruptly exclaimed. He’d answered his own question. “It’s Caterina von Velsen and her red Moroccan.”

“And you know how well that rascal rides.” Christoph said with a broad grin. “Besides, there’s not a horse around that can catch that mare of hers over the flat, not even my Brandy.” One strong hand gave his mount’s glossy, sweating neck a pat.

“We’ve got to get her, Max. Right now.”

As if he understood the urgency, the bay stallion reared. In the next instant horse and rider were plunging down the hill, showering earth and green grass behind.

“Christoph,” called his companion, hurriedly spurring after. “The dike! You can’t go that way!”

If von Hagen heard, he paid no attention. The big bay, black mane and tail flying, continued on course straight towards a lethal looking heap of broken stone. It would have to be taken in one leap, for landing atop it, would certainly break the horse’s legs.   No one had risked his mount across von Beiler’s dike in a generation. Max could hardly believe Christoph would. Cousin von Hagen’s horse was a rare Prussian, bred in the stables of the warrior Elector Frederick, and worth a small fortune.

As he came parallel to the dike, Max reined in to watch the impossible. First came the gathering of the powerful burnished hindquarters of the Prussian, then the breathtaking leap as the bay tucked up his high black stockings and rose skyward.

Max gave a whoop as giant horse and rider flew over the murderous pile with all the elan of a bird of prey. The clean landing on the other side led at once to a resumption of the same regular hoof beat thunder, a relentless charge. Giving another sportsman’s cheer, Max kicked and used his whip, beginning a hasty circumnavigation of the dike.

As he rode forward, he could see the hurtling fox‑-‑Caterina von Velsen‑-‑speeding on a parallel course. Her mare was fully extended, never more than one foot on the ground. The girl’s hat, which she’d worn to hide her hair, had blown off and now her thick braid writhed like a red snake behind her.

More riders, a troop, boomed over the hill. Throwing a glance over her shoulder, Caterina knew that of two foxes, she must be the only one left.

There was a momentary flash of triumph. The yearling would be hers, and how proud Papa would be!

On the other side of the willow banked river she could see the beginnings of the manicured grounds attached to the von Beiler’s Schloss. Anticipating the bridge‑‑the goal, the ground on the other side‑‑Caterina’s gaze swung ahead. That was when she saw a rider coming towards her from an impossible direction, the other side of the insurmountable stone dike.

Gottesblut!” Cursing was unladylike, but it was precisely what she felt. She had at once recognized the big Prussian bay and his equally imposing rider.

Christoph! The only one with the horse, the skill and the guts to try it…

Both horses thundered towards the bridge. For a moment it looked as if they would meet head on. Caterina reined her red mare hard. An impossibly sharp turn later, horse and rider plunged off the high bank, landing with a huge splash in the river.

It was deep here, perhaps deeper than Caterina expected, for it had been awhile since she’d been hunting around von Beiler’s. Her mount came up swimming. Swollen by a recent rain, the water was rushing, carrying them swiftly downstream beneath the bridge.

“Come on, Star,” she urged, grasping the mare’s flowing mane. The bank was lower on the goal side; the water was shallower. It would be easy to get up. She could still win.

As horse and rider swept beneath the bridge, there was a drum roll of hooves above and then an overwhelming deluge. Caterina was still blind and gasping when a man’s big hand came out of the water and seized her braid.

“Got you! Got you, Fraulein Fox.”

“Ow! Let me go! You cheat!”

Furious, struggling with him in the water, she let go of the horse and began to lash at him with her riding crop.

“Hey! Foxes don’t carry those,” he cried, wrenching it out of her hand. “And I didn’t cheat. Brandy jumped the dike fair and square.” Firmly putting one big hand on the top of Caterina’s red head, he dunked her.

In the meantime, the mare had continued her push to the bank. When Cat came up again, choking and sputtering, the first thing she saw was Star scrambling out, her flaxen tail a darkened, dripping tatter.

Christoph, so tall, soon found the bottom as well. With an arm around his coughing quarry, he breasted the water. In another few minutes, he dumped Cat unceremoniously onto the bank.

“Bully! You didn’t have to drown me.”

Grinning, von Hagen threw his considerable length onto the grass beside her. He was equally sodden, but his expression was one of complacent satisfaction.

“You hit me with your crop, so I defended myself. Don’t be a poor sport, Caterina. You were a clever fox, absolutely the best I’ve ever chased.”

“Why did you have to come back from Vienna? And what are you going to do now that you’re here‑‑tell Wili more lies and then let her down again?”

“Scratch, scratch, fierce Cousin Cat.” Christoph pinched her nose. “You know your sweet sister always forgives me. Some day you’ll fall in love yourself and then you’ll be some fellow’s pretty toy too, Stork Legs…”


Available from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Red-Magic-ebook/dp/B00774BXDA/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1329195754&sr=1-1

Excerpt From “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

Book Synopsis: Do you know what horrors lie beyond these pages? Costa Calabrese has just uncovered the truth about his past. Some truths should never be revealed. When you learn you’re the son of the worlds foremost and feared hunter of demons, life’s rules inevitably change. Now Costa has been chosen to walk in his famed father’s footsteps and take up the role his bloodline demands of him…whether he wants to or not. He is a killer of killers, laying waste to the scourge of evil that threatens the existence of mankind. He is the chosen one. He is the Demon Hunter.


As the mighty hunter of demons, Costa Calabrese has known wealth, fame, the fear of men and true love. Now one brush with The Destroyer is threatening the life he treasures. Costa’s entire world is being exposed as nothing but a lie. Costa’s greatest and final battle is at hand as he battles the darkest demons of all…the ones in his head.

A thousand possibilities ran through my mind. I tried to persuade myself that he was right. Talisa would come back and everything would be as it was before. Deep in my heart I knew the truth. And then I saw it, the marking on the wall just as in my visions. It read: “I am sent here by the chosen one. So shall it be written. So shall it be done. Child of light, be it daughter or son, is to be destroyed.” She was gone just like that. Vanished without a trace or an explanation. The only thing that made any sense to me were the visions. Something dark and sinister had invaded our home and swept Talisa off into the night. How could I have let this happen? I speak all the time of not having regret and now I had to live with another. I would never, ever forgive myself for leaving her that day. I had tried to make peace within myself, saying it would only be for a little while and then I’d return to her and we’d live out our lives together until we were old and gray. But suddenly my perfect world had been turned upside down and I’d somehow lost the love of my life. I fell to my knees, shattered with despair. Paralay tried to comfort me to no avail. Nothing he could say would make me feel any better. The only person I wanted to talk to was the one person I couldn’t find. My breath caught in my chest and I started to shudder. I couldn’t speak. Pain hollowed out my insides like a searing hot knife and I felt as though my heart might literally shatter. I couldn’t catch my breath and when I did I only managed to utter one word. “Destroyer.”


Find out more about Cynthia Vespia and Demon Hunter:Saga at her website: http://www.CynthiaVespia.com, on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cynthia.vespia, and at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Click here for an interview with: Costa Calabrese from “Demon Hunter: Saga” by Cynthia Vespia

Click here for an interview with: Cynthia Vespia, author of “Demon Hunter: Saga”