All posts by Phil Gabriel

Updated Blurb for Mages in Manhattan

I belong to a Facebook group that shares blurbs and asks advice. I’ve spent a lot of time working on other author’s blurbs and reading the feedback of the more accomplished blurb-meisters.

With the benefit of that practice, I looked over my old blurbs and found them wanting. For example, the original blurb for Mages in Manhattan was more of a synopsis than an enticement to buy the book.

So I have rewritten the blurb to emphasize the action and stakes for my heroes.

Here is my revised blurb. Let me know what you think in the comments.

 

***

Catching a magician is only half the battle

 

Trapping a free magician is like getting your very own genie. Youth, wealth, beauty, all can be yours if you succeed. However, failing to capture the magician means he owns you.

Magicians are powerful, too powerful to roam around unrestrained. For the safety of the magical community, they are routinely enslaved by witches’ covens or wizards’ councils.

If the “sponsored” magician is drained of his life and magic, that’s a small price to pay for continued security, right?

But rarely, a magician proves to be too stubborn, too tricky, and too powerful to tame. Scott Freeman is one of those free magicians. No one would risk trying to tame a magician like Scott.

Until he was injured in a battle with a Japanese spider-monster, a fight that wiped out most of his magical resources. Scott plans on laying low until he can recover from that closely fought battle. Laying low should be easy. He lives in Tokyo, Japan, far away from American covens and wizards. And he has money, lots of money, from his contracts.

But the Wolves of Wall Street have other ideas. They canceled Scott’s most lucrative contract and insisted on Scott coming back to Manhattan to renegotiate.

Of course, it’s a trap. But Scott is desperate, desperate enough take this risk. He also has two secret weapons; Kitty-Sue, his kitsune girlfriend, and Akiko, his ghost apprentice.

NOTE: This book contains magical battles, ravening werewolves, traitorous women, an easily offended magic sword, a shapeshifting ninja assassin kitsune, and lots of sex. If a two-person threesome shocks you, you might want to avoid this book.

 

***

 

 

 

The Haunted Onsen – Now Available

Hello guys! I’m so happy to tell you that my latest book The Haunted Onsen is now available on Amazon.

This book has a lot of action, a lot of new supernaturals, and a lot of heat.

I had a blast writing this book and filling it with action. Feedback from my editor on the first novel indicated I spent a bit too much time world-building, so this book conveys the backstory through dialog and actions.

I added a lot of new supernaturals, pulling from Japanese folklore, Thai tales, and western fantasy. Scott romances the dragon of Lake Ashi; dances with a Nang Tani tree spirit in Bangkok; fights a female Yaksha in Chiang Rai; and treks with Tar–Ooops! Can’t use that word. Ahem, jousts with the Jungle Lord.

Speaking of heat, of course, the magician manages to dally with some more supernaturals. It’s in his super-nature, after all. And Kitty-Sue can’t get jealous, can she? No, but she can turn the tables on Scott when she shape-shifts into a different form. You see, this other form has different appetites than Kitty-Sue.

So this time, to make the book more accessible, I have made both it and the first novel in the series, Mages In Manhattan, available to Kindle Unlimited users.  So take a look at the ‘Look Inside’ and see if this book titillates your taste for Tokyo. If you get the book, I urge you to leave a review.

As a bonus for my website visitors, here is one of my favorite scenes from the book.  Scott, Kitty-Sue, Princess, and Akiko are chasing clues to the ghost Samurai’s missing armor. The search leads them to Bangkok, where they receive a mysterious invitation, more of a command, to show up at this seedy Bangkok bar.

 

***

 

Four p.m. came and went with no appearance by our message sender. I was getting increasingly nervous. I fingered the pocket that held the letter from the man who had issued the invitation.

Seeing my nervousness, Kitty-Sue said, “Looks like our host is a no-show.”

“So, you’re suggesting we continue the mission without talking with this magician?” I said.

“Hell, no!” she said. “I think we should hunt him down and teach him a lesson. We can’t afford to have enemies on our backtrail.”

“Hunt him down,” I said. “How could we do that?”

“From the scent on that letter,” she said, “I could track him down.”

“Then, where is he?” I asked.

“His scent is all over this bar,” she said. “He must be a regular.”

All this talk about hunting and tracking brought back a memory. Taking out the envelope, I examined the handwriting. Who did I know that wrote in eighteenth-century script? “I’m beginning to think the note was from a colleague of mine,” I said, putting the envelope away.

“Colleague? Another knight?” guessed Akiko. Kitty-Sue’s eyes brightened at the question. Her attraction to royals was a sore point. I didn’t know if she was truly excited about royals, or if it was an act to tease me, but any mention of the royal family piqued her interest.

“A bit higher up than a knight,” I muttered.

“Really!” said Akiko.

“How much higher?” asked Kitty-Sue. There was even a thrum of interest from Princess. Was my entire team turning into royal groupies?

“He’s a viscount—” I was interrupted as Euterpe weighed in and the sound system changed songs to the old Gene Chandler classic, “Duke of Earl.” The dancers looked confused at this change in the playlist.

“So, what do you call your friend?” asked Akiko.

“He’s not a friend,” I said. “As a matter of fact, he’s promised to kill me on sight.”

Kitty-Sue looked at me through narrowed eyes. “What did you do to piss him off?” As if I had to be the problem.

“I saved his wife’s life after a mugging,” I said. The old song finished and a new oldie started, the theme song to an old cartoon about George of the Jungle. The bartender was pushing buttons on the sound system frantically.

“Why does he hate you for that?” asked Akiko.

“Remember how intimate healing is? How I had to touch Monica in Las Vegas to cure her? How much she enjoyed the process?” Akiko nodded and Kitty-Sue’s face soured. I continued, “In those days, my control wasn’t as good. I needed to get even closer to work.”

“By closer, you mean…” asked Kitty-Sue.

“It was the only way I knew how to do the spells,” I said. Taking a large gulp from my drink, I continued, “He’s never forgiven me. But I couldn’t let her die, as long as it was within my power to save her.”

She called your name in her dreams for months,” whispered the voice of the most dangerous man I had ever met. The cold chill of a steel blade touched my throat. I froze in place, then raised my hands slowly, fingers spread to show I wasn’t about to cast a spell. A subsonic thrum came from my magic sword disguised as an umbrella, and my palm tingled; I knew that Princess could flash to my hand in an instant. I also knew that my assailant didn’t need more than an instant to decapitate me. At the upward pressure of his blade, I slowly got to my feet.

He was so close I could see his profile out of the corner of my eye.

I glared at Kitty-Sue, my hyper-vigilant bodyguard, who had somehow missed the killer creeping up on our table. She mouthed a silent, “Sorry,” before turning her attention to my assailant. Blades of crystal were suddenly in her hands, and she said in a calm voice, “If you hurt my boss, you’ll never make it to the door.”

I noticed he kept me between him and Kitty-Sue, one predator acknowledging the danger posed by another. Even with my better-than-human hearing, I could detect no sounds from him. When stalking, he was as quiet as Akiko.

The tension was broken by Akiko. She slurped the last of her iced coffee, then waved a hand in the air like a student in class. As my attacker’s eyes flicked to her, she said, “I’m glad you can see me. So, what’s a viscount? Should I call you duke or earl?”

I finally heard him as he took a deep breath. “Neither. The correct form of address is ‘lord.’” The pressure of the knife blade eased a tiny amount.

“Lord what?” asked Akiko, leaning forward in interest.

“Lord Greys—” he started, then corrected himself. “Lord John. John Clayton.” His proper British accent had faded over the years; only the slightest trace remained.

“Well, Lord John,” said Akiko, “would you mind removing that knife from my teacher’s throat? I still have lots of lessons to do.” Tiny wisps of lightning gathered around her form, and her hair started to rise as she gathered power.

I like to think it was the sight of my allies—the inhuman kitsune killer; the ghost mage of unknowable power; the strangely thrumming Princess—that stayed his hand. But John had never let fear dissuade him.

Perhaps it was the genuine regret that he had heard in my voice about the incident with his wife.

The blade’s pressure eased, and he said, “Of course. I would hate to interfere with a lady’s education.”

 

***

Lord, I love writing these books! I hope you will enjoy reading them. For more of The Haunted Onsen, get it here.

So far, I have published two 100K novels in the Tokyo Supernatural universe, as well as four short stories. And I still have dozens of stories to tell. I have the third book plotted out, as well as a few rough draft chapters. That book will probably be ready in February.

 

The Haunted Onsen – Progress Report

I have just sent the final draft of “The Haunted Onsen” to my editor. She will be working her editorial witchcraft on my manuscript, turning it from a jumble of words, paragraphs, and chapters that only make a modicum of sense, into a smoothly written tome.

Editorial witchcraft? Maybe I should treat witches better in my next book, don’t want to PO my editor.

The book clocked in at about 99,000 words. To be honest, at 50,000 words, I despaired of reaching 70,000 words. Then I ended up cutting scenes to keep it around 100,000. I tried some new techniques, such as writing with an eye to keeping the action flowing.

And there’s lots of action. Everything from a decidedly unconventional encounter with a beautiful female dragon, to an encounter with the deadliest hunter the world has ever known, to the final fight between Scott and the Samurai ghost that haunts the Hakone Onsen.

Our intrepid team of supernatural heroes travel to exotic locales; including the Hakone area of Japan, Bangkok (where Scott dances with a tree spirit), to the home of a Fae prince in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I think my fans will really enjoy this story. Look for it soon on Amazon.

Update On The Next Exciting Book In The Tokyo Supernatural Series

On the one hand, I am very far behind on my latest Tokyo Supernatural book. On the other hand, I am very happy with my progress so far.

The reason I’m behind? Well, I had about 45,000 words written when I decided to revamp the novel. The first book taught me a lot about storytelling. I have a bad habit of packing too much worldbuilding into my books. Doesn’t everyone want to know my theory of multi-spectral magic? As it turns out; no. I also had a Yakuza subplot that expanded too far and led away from the action.

The reason I’m happy? The newly revamped plotline reads much better to me. I’m at about 40,000 words, and the book is much better. I’m looking to have the novel completed by mid-June, with a publication date soon after that.

Don’t worry, even after the cuts, there are still lots of the things my fans crave; magic, mayhem, cute kitsune ninja assassins, a sexy ghost that longs to be touched, an insane Samurai Ghost that longs to kill, a different school of magic, a trip to Thailand and the amazing mythical creatures that live there, a certain copyrighted Jungle Lord (He’s immortal, and a magician. I bet ERB never told you that), and his Lady, Jane.

And just to keep it interesting; there’s a lake on a volcanic piece of land in Japan, called Lake Ashi. The nine-headed dragon of Lake Ashi was a man-eater who was tamed centuries ago by a famous priest. Well, the dragon has a granddaughter who took over the family business. She’s a man-eater, but of a more modern sort. When she meets Scott, decked out in his dragon blood tattoos and with a bag made from the skin of a dragon, sparks fly. And of course, we have Princess, the magical sword.

If you can’t tell from the above, I am having a hell of a time writing this. I can’t wait to get to the end and see what happens. OK, I’m lying, I know what’s going to happen. If you want to find out, sign up for my newsletter so you can be informed when the book goes on sale at Amazon.

Below is a teaser from the first chapter –

***
The arrow released by the ghost Samurai bowman hissed as it passed my left ear. I took a deep breath and slowed down time. The next arrow came towards my chest and would have pierced my heart if I had not side-stepped and turned. The third arrow floated toward my head. I reached up to grab the shaft, anxious to show my contempt for his weapon. I was surprised when the arrow sent a high-voltage shock through my hand and down my left side, before fading away. Shit, I’m supposed to be immune to shocks.

Now my left arm hung limply from my shoulder. Obviously, his arrows had something extra going for them. Keeping the speed increase, I decided that retreating was in order.

I backed up to the edge of the clearing as he tracked my movement with his nocked arrow. Damn, he was fast enough to track me even at my highest speed. Goddamn ghosts and their refusal to follow the laws of physics.

Upon reaching the edge of the clearing, but still inside the Onsen’s wards, I quickly ducked behind a large cedar tree, hoping to catch my breath and wake up my dormant arm. A few deep breaths, inhaling the aroma of cedar, helped immensely. I saw the spiny needles of cedar leaves hang in the air, knocked from the tree by my passage. Letting go of time, the world sped up around me, and the cedar needles dropped to the ground. As I started to feel pins-and-needles in my arm, I heard the voice of my ghost apprentice, “Scott-Sensei, those arrows will go through the trees.”

Crap. I dropped quickly to the ground. Three ectoplasmic arrows flew through the tree in a vertical line. Head, heart, and balls would have been hit if not for the warning from Akiko. Laying on the ground, breathing deeply, I found myself nose-to-nose with a red-haired fox. The fox stared at me with her slit eyes, seeming to enjoy my discomfort. On her white chest fur was a heart-shaped patch of red fur. Around her neck was a small black leather collar, embedded with jewels.

“Go find your own hiding place,” I whispered to the fox while scrambling backward on hands and knees. The fox scampered away, wagging her two tails.

Akiko wisely stayed invisible as I scrambled, still hampered by a weak arm, putting more distance between me and the bowman. After another dozen arrows had been sent my way, I muttered, “When is this asshole going to run out of arrows?”

“Scott-Sensei, he has an inexhaustible supply of arrows,” said Akiko.

I could back beyond the Onsen’s wards, preventing the Samurai from attacking, but that wouldn’t help complete the mission. I did have a ward against ghosts that should also stop the fusillade of arrows, but it would require some preparation. At least he wasn’t coming into the forest after me, giving me time to recover and prepare for the next phase.

My mind flashed back to the call that had started this misadventure.

***
I also have a new cover designed. Take a look below.

Mages in Manhattan – Now Available!

Hello guys! I’m so happy to tell you that my latest book Mages in Manhattan is now available on Amazon. As a bonus, why don’t we all enjoy reading the first chapter.

Chapter One

Prey of the Pack

The car slammed to a stop, bouncing my bound form against the divider. The driver had careened through the streets with abandon, securely strapped in himself, taking pleasure in the thumps and moans of his cargo. The bastards had even gone to the trouble of disconnecting the emergency interior handle that would have let me open the trunk from the inside. Even though I was bound, they were taking no chances.

We finally came to an abrupt stop, which slammed my abused head against the divider one last time. The trunk was popped open, and cool forest air rushed in. The full moon was almost painfully bright to my dark-accustomed eyes, and I squinted as several inhumanly strong hands grabbed my arms and pulled me from the trunk.

The car’s stereo suddenly came to life, playing Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version of “Bad Moon Rising.” My captors turned abruptly but maintained their grip. “Never mind,” said the red-haired were. “That crap happens all the time around these types.”

I was dumped in the center of a circle of jeering werewolves, who were still in their human forms but showing the rabid anger of their kind. Even with my hands bound behind me, I managed to tuck my head in, roll over my shoulder, and come to my feet. Landing on my back would have marked me as helpless prey and brought out their pack instincts.

I ended up facing the pack’s alpha, Frost. He smiled at me like a parent proud of a toddler’s first steps.

Now that my feet were on the earth, I could feel the slightest trickle of magical energy flow up through the soles of my bare feet. The magic was met with an immediate sharp increase in the temperature of the shackles holding my arms behind my back. The scent of burning flesh wafted through the air.

His smile was huge, exposing his canines as he inhaled the aroma. “Please don’t use your magic,” he said. “We prefer our meat rare.”

Ignoring the pain in my wrists and forearms, I smiled back through gritted teeth. “I will wear your ears on my belt as a trophy.”

Frost roared with laughter. “A last, great act of defiance! I love magicians!”

The rest of the pack laughed along with him, the laughs turning into howls. He continued, “Now to make this fair—”

“You’re going to cut off the shackles?” I interrupted.

With a casual movement, he slapped the side of my head, leaving a set of bleeding claw marks and a ringing in my ears.

“Not that fair, Scott,” he said. “We will give you a thirty-minute head start before we begin the hunt. That’ll give the new cubs time to change.” As if to show he didn’t need extra time, he transformed into his half-human, half-wolf hybrid form, the form only senior weres could take. As he shifted, his tailored suit tore across the shoulders, and he casually used his claws to finish ripping off the constraining garment. Behind his back, several of the new pack members shivered in excitement as their snouts extended and fangs sprouted. The full transformation would take a while for them.

“Thirty minutes,” I said. “When does the clock start?”

“From the moment we pulled you from the trunk…,” he said to my retreating back as I headed towards the tree line, his laughter following me.

Damn, five minutes wasted while they played with their prey. I started an internal countdown as I darted under the trees. The moonlight cut off abruptly, and the brambles and bushes formed an almost impenetrable barrier. Without magic, I was down to my purely physical resources: I was strong, but not as strong as a wolf; fast, but not as fast as a wolf; smart, but not smart enough to have avoided getting captured. The damned cuffs holding my hands behind my back made running almost impossible, my slower-than-a-wolf pace made even slower by my balance problems.

I had excellent night vision, but the forest was dense with undergrowth. Even being able to see every step wasn’t much help. Still, I ran as quickly as possible, hoping to put enough space between me and the pack to give me time to work on the magic-negating cuffs. As I ran, my invisible satchel bounced against my side with each step. If only I could access the contents of the satchel, the fight would be fair. But even if my hands were in front, making the satchel accessible, opening it required magic. I cursed myself for having locked my most potent weapons away.

The brambles were shredding my feet, leaving a blood trail for the pack to follow. Not that my passage through the forest was unnoticeable; I was leaving a trail a blind man could follow. After five minutes by my internal clock, I was gasping for air and slowed down, only to hear the howls of the pack as they started to follow. Damn werewolves. I always knew they were untrustworthy. I controlled my breathing and increased my pace.

I needed a clear space to face the pack; letting them harry me from the underbrush, nipping at my hamstrings, was a quick route to the other side. Finally, I came across a small clearing. A huge tree had fallen recently, its trunk near the roots almost seven feet high. Due to the shade of the giant tree, the undergrowth in the clearing was minimal, and it hadn’t had time to grow back. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing.

I braced my back against the trunk and struggled to control my breathing. My fingers fumbled at the manacles, feeling for a keyhole or release. I used to be pretty good at that, in a previous life, but my lock-picking skills had withered thanks to my increasing dependence on magic. As I strained at the manacles, Frost entered the clearing, followed by his pack. He took a few moments to change his mouth to an almost-human configuration to speak. “Are you ready for the hunt to end, Scott?”

A sense of calm came over me as I stepped forward to face him in the center of the clearing. Between one step and the next, my mind flashed back to the happier days of just a few weeks before, and to the path that had led to this moment.


I hope you enjoyed it guys! For more of Mages in Manhattan, get it here.

Mages in Manhattan – Final Edits

Dear Readers,

I hope you enjoyed the Kitsune Christmas story I published last week and are looking forward to reading the latest Tokyo Supernatural book, “Mages in Manhattan.”

The book is done and my beta reader loved it. I thought it would be a bit long at 110,000 words, but she said it wrapped up several plot threads and was a great read.

To provide my readers with a better experience, I have sent the manuscript out for a round of editing. My editor has promised to have the corrected manuscript back by the end of January. My plan is to publish in February.

Long term, I have two more novels in the Tokyo Supernatural universe plotted out and partially written, which should allow me to publish a new installment every 90 days. I plan on plotting out another installment to give a total of four published books in 2017.

I predict that 2017 will be the year that Tokyo Supernatural takes off. We’re going to have a great time!