Spotlight on #Fantasy #Romance: A Guardian’s Hope by @ReneeWildes

Hi Everyone! Hiding out with the family in our San Francisco home, avoiding the smoke blanketing our city, I’m getting a lot of reading accomplished. Here’s a look at a fantasy romance series by fellow Champagne Books author Renee Wildes. I’ve added this one to my TBR and look forward to experiencing Renee’s take on the Sleeping Beauty story. More info and excerpt below. Happy reading! xo, Celia

A Guardian's Hope (Guardians of Light series, Book 2) by Renee Wildes Book Cover

 
Title: A Guardian’s Hope
Series/#: Guardians of Light series, Book 2
Author: Renee Wildes
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Champagne Books
Date of Publication: September 4, 2018
ASIN: B07GZY991J
Page Count: 275

An assassin nun. An elven paladin. A ruthless queen who will destroy all they hold dear.

As a child, invaders butchered Maleta’s parents and left her ravaged body for dead. Now, reborn as a finely-honed weapon for the Gray Goddess, Hedda, Maleta has shed the burden of emotions for one goal—regain her homeland for her brother.

Cianan ta Daneal’s mission to the fractured land of Shamar is twofold: to overthrow a despotic queen, and to save a life. For months, he’s been haunted by recurring visions of a beautiful swordswoman slaughtered by a skeleton army. He never expected to lay eyes on that woman and recognize her as his Lifemate—or that she’d turn and run like hell.

Uniting Shamar’s diverse peoples in revolt is easy compared to the delicate task of wooing a woman who flinches from his touch.

Slowly, Maleta dares to hope that her country, what’s left of her family, and her shattered heart are safe in Cianan’s steady hands. But when the cold blade of fate strikes true, can she trust his love is strong enough to pull her back from the Abyss?

Warning: This new twist on Sleeping Beauty contains an assassin nun who knows no fear. Okay, just one fear, but it’s a biggie. And an Elven paladin with the Devil’s own negotiating skills. To coax her heart out of hiding, he’s gonna need every one of them.

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A Guardian’s Hope Excerpt

Maleta sighed and speared a chunk of carrot. This place gave her the creeps. Too many hired killers with dark auras. She rolled her stiffening shoulder again.

The door banged open as three men entered with the wind.

“Heyla, Cary,” the tallest one called to the barkeep. “Any hot cider left?”

“Still whining ’bout the cold?” Cary poured three dippers of steaming cider into a tankard and slid it down the bar. “You ain’t even seen cold yet.”

The men in the room laughed, a sound of camaraderie, not mockery.

Maleta stared at the newcomer. His aura shone different from the others, his pure soul blinding gold in the surrounding Darkness. Why was a paladin in a place like this?

His head snapped around. She cursed her curiosity as his piercing cobalt gaze collided with hers. Something shifted in his appearance, a mask of the mind she couldn’t see past, as if her eyes saw one thing and her mind another. Meal or nay, now she’d the information she sought, she should move on.

Too late. He stalked toward her with the fluid swing of a lifelong horseman, tankard cradled in both hands as if warming them. The body of a sinner, on a saint. Her breath caught in her throat as he neared. There were few men who could look her in the eye. She’d reach this man’s chin. Maleta tensed as he stopped on the other side of the table. Unable to tear her gaze from the unwavering intensity of his, she trembled as his scent, like fresh-cut fir boughs with a warm hint of musk, surrounded her. Who was this man? Trouble, in more than the obvious. Why did he single her out?

“Heyla, Shield-Maiden,” he said in a voice as rich and smooth as rare drenieval whiskey. The underlying lethal heat in his voice could rob the unwary of their senses. “I have not seen you here afore.” He held out a hand. “My name is Cianan.”

She eyed that hand, unwilling to touch him, sensing ’twould give him too much knowledge, too much power. Long musician’s fingers with archer’s calluses. Even without their hands touching, the truth of his name pierced the shadows around her soul, the shadows of lies and pretext that were her new identity.

Maleta stared at him, helpless not to. Those eyes drew her in, promising things she couldn’t even comprehend. They weren’t the eyes of a saint. Too blue, too knowing. Long raven hair glinted blue-black in the firelight. Foreign accent, not one she recognized, with a lilt she couldn’t place. Charm she trusted not at all.

She focused on slowing her pounding heart, forced herself to breathe. “What you want?”

His lips quirked in a smile. “Many things, Lady, but I would begin with your name.”

“Why should I be giving that out?”

He just smiled, but his eyes studied her. Watchful. Probing. Aware. Too aware.

Time to end this. “My name and business are mine.” She stood.

He raised a hand. “Nay, finish eating. I shall go. But tell me your name first.”

“Sonja.”

Knowledge of the lie flashed in his eyes, and she curled her fists with impotent fury. Damn paladin. What game was this?

“I bid you a good evening, Sonja.” He dipped his head and returned to his friends at the bar.

So much for rooming overnight here. She downed the rest of her meal, gathered her pack, then fled the tavern. The cold air cleared her head. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d been forced to camp out in the open. She didn’t enjoy it, but she’d survive. She always did. Please, Hedda, don’t let him follow.

 

About the Author
Author Renee Wildes headshot
Renee Wildes grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Mercedes Lackey and is a huge Joseph Campbell fan, so the minute she discovered romance novels it became inevitable that she would combine it all and write fantasy romance. Renee is a history buff and research junkie, from ancient to medieval times, esp. the Dark Ages. As a Navy brat and a cop’s kid, she gravitated to protector/guardian heroes and heroines. She’s had horses her whole life, so became the only vet tech in a family of nurses. It all comes together in her Guardians of Light series – fantasy, action, romance, heroics, and lots of critters!

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Spotlight on #ScienceFiction: Siren’s Song by K. M. Tolan

Hello Dear Readers! Here’s a sci-fi treat for you, from fellow Champagne author, K. M. Tolan. I was K. M.’s editor for this fab story and let me tell you, it’s one heck of a fun sci-fi ride. More info and excerpt below. Happy reading! xo, Celia

Siren's Song by K M Tolan Book Cover

 
Title: Siren’s Song
Author: K. M. Tolan
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Champagne Books
Date of Publication: July 4, 2016
ISBN: 9781771552424
Page Count: 270
Award: Finalist, Science Fiction category, 2018 Epic Awards

He was of two minds about everything, and one of them wasn’t human.

Humans call the crystalline creatures Sirens. They can kill with a scream. Decapitate with a single slash of their cutting fins. The aliens are the most vicious life form Earth has ever encountered, and Scott has one trapped in his mind. Her name is Water, and her hatred for Scott’s species is only matched by her desire to be free of him.

Scott couldn’t agree more, but neither of them understand the cost of letting her out.
In order to save their sanity, Scott and Water have to save her people.

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Siren’s Song Excerpt

The mountain lion snarled, baring yellowed fangs. It should be running for the high country, not swishing its tail at him.

Swallowing back his growing dread, Scott eased two big knives from their holsters on his pant legs. “Get out while you can, kitty. I seriously don’t want to do this.”

Kitty didn’t understand the message. The animal’s shoulders bunched.

Fear rose in Scott’s throat. He edged closer to a red fir next to the cabin, knowing how nature intended these issues to resolve. Nature, however, didn’t figure on his particular madness. The source of his twisting guts had nothing to do with the cougar. It was already dead. He reached into a part of himself a legion of psychologists had failed to lock down. The imaginary fishbowl in his head. Scott shoved the lid back with a shudder. He saw her clearly, coiled up in a crystalline ball. He always saw her, thanks to those damn crystals stuck in his skull.

Water.

His personal demon stirred much like a snake rising from a lethargic torpor. Snakes didn’t sing, though. Nor did they look like a murderous sea angel rendered in crystal, fins rippling with bioluminescent menace.

Why do you wake me, thief? Her reply was a melodic vibration through his skull, serrated with venomous undertones.

“Something for you to kill.”

 

About the Author

K. M. Tolan is a science fiction and fantasy author with seven books published through Burst Books (Champagne Books SF/F imprint). His first two novels in the “Blade Dancer” series were both finalists in the EPIC E-book Awards for Science Fiction. “Blade Dancer” was accepted into the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M. “Rogue Dancer” received his publisher’s award for best novel of the year, as did his first fantasy “Tracks” (which also made the EPIC E-book finalist list). Mr. Tolan is a software engineer, a combat veteran, and lives near Austin, Texas.

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Spotlight on #UrbanFantasy: Mostly Innocent by @AuthorJMJinks

Hi Everyone! I’m pleased to present a new release by author J. M. Jinks. I was her editor for this fab story. If you like snarky, kickass heroines and heroes with big hearts and a whole lot of brawn, check it out. Happy reading! xo, Celia

New Release in Urban Fantasy: Mostly Innocent Book Tour Book Spotlight

Mostly Innocent Book Cover

Mostly Innocent
A Powers That Be Novel
Book One
J.M. Jinks

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Champagne Books

Date of Publication: 10/22/2018

ISBN: 978-1-947128-63-7

Word Count: 72K

If you can’t beat them, seduce them

Meet Layla James, your typical smart and snarky chick—except for the whole succubus thing. After nearly a millennium on Earth, Layla’s settled down in a boring life in Palm Springs, until a smoking-hot hunter comes to arrest her for murder. But Layla knows the rules—she’d never kill someone and incite the wrath of The Powers That Be.

Elijah Daines is a hunter, maintaining the balance of good and evil in the mortal realm, his power stronger than any hunter she’s ever encountered. Plus, he’s a seriously sexy distraction. Too bad he’s accused her of a crime she didn’t commit.

As the killer continues a murder spree that not only frames Layla but threatens to expose the existence of supernatural creatures to humans, Layla and Elijah team up to investigate. Hopefully, they can fight off their escalating attraction for each other long enough to exonerate her and stop the murder madness.

Amazon

Mostly Innocent Excerpt

He approached the counter. I, or maybe my succubus, decided on a whim I would not be intimidated by his power. I wasn’t sure where my sudden courage came from. He had to have felt my succubus signature. We weren’t a violent race when we controlled our urges. I’m Queen of Control over here. I’m sure he knows I won’t, hurt him. Right?

But why was he here? Something must have been wrong.

As I walked toward him, I got a better look. His dark hair was in slight disarray and his bright blue eyes scoured my face. He towered over me in every sense of the word.

He and Jolene should go back-to-back so I can get an accurate measure of his height.

I shook away my thoughts of him–it was obvious he came here on a mission. Greek god or not, he was still a hunter, and I–I was a product of evil, aka something he hunts.

“Succubus,” he growled. The one little word was filled with eons of unabashed hatred.

The word vibrated through me. All hopes of him wanting a new bathroom paint color vanished. No, this visit wasn’t going to be pleasant, not at all.

Perhaps I could seduce him. Hell, he could do me right on the floor of aisle nine next to the light fixtures, if it kept him from killing me. I bit my lip. But…hunters weren’t typically susceptible to succubi charms. A failed attempt of Aprhodisia could earn more problems.

I released a breath. Some buried deep natural instinct rolled through me again. With that feeling, I decided to stand my ground. I looked him in the eyes, stood up straighter, and replied, “Hunter?”

 

About the Author

J.M. Jinks was born and raised in Southern California. She lives with her husband, two dogs, and two cats in her hometown. J.M. has a Bachelor’s in French and a Master’s of Education. She is a teacher by day and a writer by night. J.M. and her husband welcomed a baby boy in May 2018.

J.M. has always had a love of reading that progressed into writing. Mostly Innocent is her first completed manuscript.

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#Halloween in #SanFrancisco: Celia’s Spooky Spots Picks

pumpkin Happy Halloween, Dear Readers!

On the 30th of every month, I’m a guest blogger on the Decadent Diva’s blog. This month, I posted my top five picks for creepy places to visit in San Francisco, and I’m sharing the list here today, too, for you! If you’re ever in San Francisco, consider adding these places to your must-visit list! (p.s. Last chance to enter the Halloween Spooktacular giveaway – details below!)

Spooky Spots in #San Francisco

My hometown is a beautiful combo of nature and architecture, has some of the nicest weather year round (including the awesome fog), excellent cuisine, abundant arts, and… for you lovers of the paranormal, there are a ton of spooky spots to explore, some of which make an appearance in my vampire series, The Tranquilli Bloodline.

Here are my top picks for chills and thrills in San Francisco…

  1. The Armory
    Located in the Mission District, this 200,000 square foot reproduction of a Moorish Castle was constructed in the early 1900s and used by the San Francisco National Guard. From 2006 until January 2018, it was owned by an adult entertainment company, and tours were available for all five floors of the historic building. My favorite floor by far is the wonderfully creepy basement: a vast, cavernous space with visible remnants of its days as an armory (indoor rifle range!). Water runs through wide cracks in the basement floor’s exposed concrete, adding to the spooky vibe.
  2. sf armory, photo credit - Hoodline dot com news, february 2018

  3. Alcatraz Island
    Also known as “The Rock,” Alcatraz sits in the San Francisco Bay, and is home to a large seabird population, the West Coast’s oldest functional lighthouse, and, of course, the infamous maximum, high-security prison, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. You can guess the spookiest part, right? They say ghost of ex-cons haunt the prison. Take a nighttime tour and let them shut you in one of the 9ft by 5ft cells…if you dare. ::shiver::
  4. Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach
    Once upon a time (1896), this bathhouse was the world’s largest, indoor swimming facility. Located near Ocean Beach and below Cliff House, Sutro Baths burned to the ground in 1966 (arson). Today, you can hike around the ruins then venture into the spookiest spot of all: the cave. For the best spine tingling experience, try it at night, when the fog swirls and the wind whips and wails, and the waves crash over the beach. Some say if you light a candle and leave it in the tunnel, a ghost will pick it up and fling it into the ocean…
  5. Stow Lake, Golden Gate Park
    Modeled after NYC’s Central Park, Golden Gate Park is a gorgeous expanse of greenery in San Francisco. Stow Lake (located west of the beautiful Japanese Tea Garden), is a great spot for picnics and a boat ride. If you venture there at night, beware of the lake’s resident ghost, the White Lady. Barefoot and dressed in a white dress, rumor has it she lost her baby in the lake then drowned herself (in the early 1900s). There’s also a statue near the lake of a woman and two small children. They say it moves when the White Lady is on the prowl.
  6. cemetery yard decorations

  7. Mission Dolores Cemetery
    What’s spookier than a cemetery? Mission Dolores Cemetery is the oldest burial ground in San Francisco and the resting place of city founders, criminals, and thousands of First Californians (the Ohlone). It’s also one of the locations in Hitchcock’s 1958 classic film, “Vertigo.” You’ll find the cemetery next to the oldest building in San Francisco, Mission Dolores. Tour both, but don’t be surprised if the hairs on your nape stand at attention as you wander through the cemetery gardens, among the ancient tombstones and silent sentinel statues. Spooky energy, even on a sunny day…


 

Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Giveaway

My Tranquilli Bloodline vampires and Black Hills Wolves are still on tour with Bewitching Book Tour’s multi-author Halloween event (through Halloween!). Enter the Bewitching Book Tours Halloween Spooktacular rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at e-gift cards and books!

That’s all for now, Dear Readers. Happy Halloween! xo, Celia

PHOTO CREDIT, ARMORY PHOTO:Hoodline News

Chat, Games, & #Giveaways: Haunted #Halloween #Facebook Party TODAY 10/24

Hi Everyone! It’s party time!

Wander over to Facebook TODAY to hang out with the authors of Bewitching Book Tours Haunted Halloween Spooktacular! Join us for games, prizes, Halloween fun, and lots of giveaways!

When: All day, Wednesday, October 24, 2018, starting at 12 p.m. EST

Chat with CELIA: I’ll be there at 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST) with my vampires, werewolves, and, of course, some prezzies to win.

Also appearing: Jena Baxter, Laura Bickle, London Clarke, Nancy Gideon, Chantel Simper, Tena Stetler, Carolyn Walker, Kirsten Weiss.

Host: The fabulous Roxanne Rhoads of Bewitching Book Tours, of course!

Hope to see you all there!

xo,
Celia

 

Spotlight on #ParanormalRomance: Light Untamed by @authorbonniegil

Hello Dear Readers! Today we welcome Bonnie Gill to the blog, with the latest installment in her paranormal romance series. Read two excerpts and enter her giveaway. Happy reading! xo, Celia

Light Untamed
L.A.M.P.S.
Legends and Myth Police Squad
Book 3 Three
Bonnie Gill

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: October 24, 2018
Word Count: 64,181
Cover Artist: Fiona Jayde

Holy fire-farting Hell Hounds.

Pet lover and animal activist Pepper Peterson has a secret. She inherited the caretaker position of the notorious Hell Hounds from her deceased aunt. Every year on Halloween she opens the gates to hell and sets them free to mark the souls of the damned. Only this year she lost the magic whistle to call them home and the massive black beasts run amok causing mischief in the town.

Ottar Jones holds the position of senior boss man at L.A.M.P.S. (Legends and Myths Police Squad) secret government agency. Ottar appalls Pepper. He’s the most barbaric man she’s ever met, but she can’t stop thinking about the sexy brute. When he finally chooses to show up to repair her dinosaur statue, it couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

Ottar’s calendar has been packed full of mythical beasts to capture. Upon return to Haber Cove for his friend River’s wedding he has to contend with the crazy but hot vegan’s dinosaur, but a surprise awaits him. Haber Cove is infested with flesh-eating, ankle-biting Jack-a-lopes, and a pack of large black Hell Hounds. Will all hell break loose when he finds who let the dogs out? Or will Pepper turn out to be the one woman who can tame the savage Aussie hunter?

Amazon

More books from the L.A.M.P.S. series: Where hunky secret agents find true love while hunting dangerous Cryptids…

Tempting The Light, Book One
On Sale for .99
until October 30, 2018

Pursuing the Light, Book Two

Light Untamed Excerpts

Excerpt 1:

Pepper needed to put as much distance between her and Ottar as possible. That kiss. Oh my gosh. He was a master. The possessive, wild kiss made her want to strip his clothes and take his exquisite body next to the stream. What the heck had gotten into her?
Did he really believe that crap about an attraction spell? Nonsense talking Aussie. There was no way she spelled him while she and Abby were trying to banish the evil jinn. Ottar must be one of those crazy conspiracy theory people, though, she’d never pegged him as paranoid.
She gunned the gas and took off down the overgrown path into the forest.
A gunshot sounded. Pain exploded in her upper arm. Glancing down at the blood on her sleeve, she looked up too late. A low branch smacked her across the chest. She flew off the four-wheeler and crashed onto the ground.
Her body throbbed. The coolness from the dirt chilled her spine. Breathe.
Ottar ran toward her, screaming, with his gun drawn.
The bastard shot her? First her dinosaur statue and now her. What next? He’d lost his sanity. She’d always suspected something wasn’t right with him. Now she had proof.
Her arm ached, and blood seeped through her sleeve. The pounding of her heart accelerated, each beat almost blending into the next.
Ottar closed in, but she wasn’t going to let him finish the job. Was the kiss so upsetting that he wanted to kill her?

 

Excerpt 2:
Pepper Peterson stabbed the damp soil with a screwdriver, then placed the tampon stick into the hole. “I need more ammunition,” she called out to her bestie in the dark.
Abby brought over an unopened box of womanly necessities. “I’m not opening it. Nah uh. How come you’re so dead set on doing this?”
Pepper peeled away the plastic wrapper. Her friend refused to open tampon boxes ever since an evil Genie popped out of one and cursed her to become the Jersey Devil every time she got her period. They broke the spell, but she didn’t blame Abby for having the phobia.
“Because Keith stood me up for Charlotte. Look, you can see them watching television.” She pointed to the six-inch crack in the curtains covering the big picture window of the small blue home. Two people sat on the couch, their heads close. “I have to teach him there are consequences for being a rat bastard.”
Keith had broken their date, saying he’d be out of town for work. Liar. She planted another tampon in the ground. Perfect for mushrooming, the old fashion tampons perched on a stick applicator instead of the plastic push kind, standing tall with the string flapping in the evening breeze.
A slight October chill nipped at the back of her exposed neck, causing her to shiver. “The cotton will absorb the night’s dew and expand, causing it to mushroom. That’s why this technique was named Mushrooming. In the morning, he’ll see our message spelled out in the yard.” She couldn’t wait. “Hey, does River still have those surveillance cameras?”
She’d love to see Keith’s face when he saw the full-bloomed tampons.
“They’re at the police station. Maybe we could break in and get one?”
Her bestie never shied away from Pepper’s escapades, even though she was set to marry the Sherriff in a couple weeks.
Abby and River had a great relationship. Maybe someday she’d find someone who would love her unconditionally like her friend did.
Fat chance.
Most men bailed on her after they met her large herd of rescued pups. She could only imagine what they’d do if they found out about her family’s secret.
“Car,” Abby called out.
They darted next door into the empty field and ducked down behind the three-foot tall weeds. When the tail lights of the vehicle faded into the night, they strolled toward Keith’s lawn.
“Come on, we’re almost done,” Pepper said.
“Where on earth did you find these old things?” Abby asked.
“My aunt had purchased a buttload, and I have another full carton in the attic. She must have found a great deal, or maybe they fell off a truck. Who knows.” A total packrat, her Aunt had enough cases of toilet paper stashed in the house to last her years. Her heart still ached even though her Aunt died years ago.
“I can’t let Keith get away with standing me up. Or other guys will think it’s okay to bail on me for another woman. It only takes one time of slacking and they get reprogramed. Men are like dogs, you can’t give them an inch. They need constant discipline.” She’d learned her lesson early on with her dog rescue.
“I hate to say this,” Abby said, “but you have a reputation for dumping your men after the second or third date. Don’t you think he beat you to the breakup?” She handed Pepper another tampon.
I have a reputation? News to her. Okay, maybe she did tend to break things off after a few dates. Big deal. If she got the yuckies for them, she wasn’t going to waste her time or theirs. She could tell if it wasn’t a good fit after a few dates. “I don’t think it’s fair to string them along. Besides, he didn’t break up with me. He postponed our date and lied.”
Abby hummed as she placed the tampons into the ground. They’d both dressed in black from head to toe for the mission. After sticking the last tampon in the yard they stepped back to admire their artwork. LOSER was spelled out across his lawn, the letters perfectly executed so there’d be no mistaking the message.
Grinning, Pepper snapped a few photos with her phone as headlights flared in the distance.
“Car,” Abby called out again.
They darted to the vacant lot and ducked down behind the brush. The car slowed as it passed by Keith’s house. A street light in front of his property made the tampons glow in the dark like a scarlet letter.
“Umm, Pepper,” Abby said in a shaky voice.
“I’m right here.” She crept over to her friend in the damp weeds.
“I think we have to call River.”
Oh no. “What in heaven’s name for?” Could her friend be chickening out? River would totally make them remove all the tampons.
Abby pointed to her left. “There’s a dead body. I almost touched it.” She danced around, flinging her hands about. “Ewww.”
A large man lay face down on the ground. Bending over, Pepper grabbed his wrist. No pulse. His skin cold to the touch. Her heart pumped faster and almost jumped to her throat. Ick. Now she’d touched a dead person. Dropping his arm, she wiped her hands on her pants. Cooties!
“Who is it?” Abby took a step away.
“Heck if I know.” He wore tan pants and a dark shirt, but she couldn’t see his face. His legs were sprawled and bent at odd angles. She breathed in the clean pine scent of the night’s crisp air. At least he didn’t smell dead.

About the Author

Bonnie Gill grew up in the suburbs right outside Chicago. As a child she loved making up ghost stories at night to scare her sisters and friends.

She writes Paranormal Romance with a twist of humor. When she isn’t writing you can find her on a haunted tour, volunteering at pet rescues, or digging around in her fairy garden waiting for fairies to show.

She lives in Northern Illinois with her three rescue dogs and her ever patient boyfriend who laughs at all her goofy jokes.

She loves to hear from her readers.

Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Amazon Author page | Bookbub

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#Halloween Spooktacular Spotlight on #fantasy: GS Denning’s Warlock Holmes Series

Hi Everyone! Another author participing in the Bewitching Halloween Spooktacular event, G. S. Denning, is here today with his fun series and, of course, the event’s fab giveaway. Enjoy! xo, Celia

Warlock Holmes – A Study in Brimstone
Warlock Holmes
Book One
G.S. Denning

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: May 17, 2016
ASIN: B014BQVKUC

Sherlock Holmes is a genius … Warlock Holmes is something else …

Sherlock Holmes is an unparalleled genius. Warlock Holmes is an idiot. A font of arcane power, certainly. But he’s brilliantly dim.

Frankly, he couldn’t deduce his way out of a paper bag. The only thing he has really got going for him are the might of a thousand demons and his stalwart companion.

Thankfully, Dr. Watson is always there to aid him through the treacherous shoals of Victorian propriety… and save him from a gruesome death every now and again.

Amazon

Warlock Holmes – The Hell-Hound of the Baskervilles
Warlock Holmes
Book Two
G.S. Denning

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
ASIN: B01KRUN0IQ

Sherlock Holmes is a genius … Warlock Holmes is something else …

The game’s afoot once more as Holmes and Watson face off against Moriarty’s gang, the Pinkertons, flesh-eating horses, a parliament of imps, boredom, Surrey, a disappointing butler demon, a succubus, a wicked lord, an overly-Canadian lord, a tricycle-fight to the death and the dreaded Pumpcrow. Oh, and a hell hound, one assumes.

Amazon

Warlock Holmes – My Grave Ritual
Warlock Holmes
Book Three
G.S. Denning

Publisher: Titan Books
Publication Date: May 15, 2018
ASIN: B075WCS6WZ

Sherlock Holmes is a genius … Warlock Holmes is something else …

As they blunder towards doom, Warlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson find themselves inconvenienced by a variety of eldritch beings. Christmas brings a goose that doesn’t let being cooked slow it down; they meet an electricity demon, discover why being a redhead is even tricker than one might imagine, and Holmes attempts an Irish accent. And, naturally, Moriarty is hanging around… in some form or other.

Amazon

About the Author

G.S. Denning furiously studied reading and math until he could play Dungeons and Dragons. His love of DandD expanded to a passion for all things in the sci-fi and fantasy realm, particularly when spliced with comedy – Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Monty Python, Red Dwarf, Black Adder, Whose Line is it Anyway, Dr. Who, and the holiest of holies: The Princess Bride.

He learned his story-telling skills on the improv stage as a member of Orlando Theatersports, Seattle Theatersports, Jet City Improv, and as a Disney Performer at Epcot. G.S. also worked for Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast.

Finally, after realizing that humanity had not used the pun Warlock Holmes yet, he sat down to begin his first novel series: a dark-comic retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic Sherlock Holmes stories. G.S. Lives in Las Vegas with The Best Wife and The Best Children.

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#Halloween #Recipe + #Gothic #Thriller: The Meadows by @LondonClarke2

Hello Dear Readers! The Bewitching Halloween Fun continues with author London Clarke’s Gothic Thriller, The Meadows, plus a recipe for a Halloween treat. Enjoy! xo, Celia

Recipe for Chocolate Swamp Pie

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups flour
  • ¾ cup Crisco
  • dash of salt
  • 1 egg and 4-5 tablespoons of ice
    water

  • 1 teaspoon of vinegar

Mix salt and shortening in with flour. Mix together with spoon. Beat up egg with fork and add to mixture. Scoop tablespoons of water into the mixture. Add tsp of vinegar. Mixture will be
stiff. Chill for 2-3 hours. Cover with saran wrap until ready to mash into a
pie pan.

Pie Filling

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 and 1/2 squares of baking chocolate

Melt butter and chocolate. Beat eggs, add sugar, beat well. Add cream and vanilla. Mix well. Add melted mixture and mix all ingredients together. Pour into unbaked crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.

The Meadows
Legacy of Darkness
Book One
London Clarke
Genre: Gothic suspense; supernatural thriller
Publisher: Carfax Abbey Publishing

Date of Publication: October 2018
ISBN: 9781386765233
Cover Artist: Stephen Lee Designs

Bed, breakfast, and blood.

A decades-old murder. A strange, blood-thirsty cult. And a house full of spirits.

It was supposed to be a new beginning, a fresh start in the Shenandoah Valley, where Scarlett’s memories weren’t riddled with drug addiction and rehab. But after purchasing an abandoned house with a checkered past in the hopes of transforming it into a luxury bed and breakfast, strange things start to happen. Disturbing voices and noises interrupt her new life. Strangers appear to her, bearing cryptic warnings. A tunnel is discovered underneath the house—one historically used for a local cult’s rituals. After several of Scarlett’s guests are hospitalized after visiting the underground, she finds herself targeted by violent spirits.

Driven to the edge of despair, Scarlett vows to fight back—but she has no idea what she’s really battling. And her nightmare is just beginning…

The Meadows is a gripping supernatural thriller in which the monsters may be vampires, demons, or flesh and blood. It is a nightmare that will make you believe it could easily happen to you.

Amazon | Books2Read

Excerpt
Chapter One

October 2019

Asphodel House,
The Meadows

I affixed the camera onto my laptop and held the computer at arm’s length until I could see myself.

There I was. In all my post-rehab glory.

I hadn’t colored my hair since I’d first come out of Orange Star Center six months ago. The blonde highlights had faded, tipping the ends to about halfway up my brown tresses. It looked a little trendy. A little.

Mainly, I looked tired. I hadn’t slept much since the move. Different time zones did all kinds of weird things to me. It was only an hour’s difference between Nashville and here, but it was enough to throw me off.

I smeared on some tinted lip balm and finger-combed my hair, pushing it up into a bun. Straight, heavy bangs hung to the bridge of my nose and over my eyebrows, covering the line knitting together my forehead and my eyebrows. I hated that line. It hadn’t been there seven months ago when I was still feeling no pain most of the time.

I clicked record and settled into the chair, making sure I was square in the shot of the camera.

“Hello, world.”

The first words sounded like pennies at the bottom of an empty piggy bank. Hollow, tinny, awkward. That was a dumb way to begin. But I was live, so couldn’t stop now. I cleared my throat, forced a smile. “Scarlett, here. I know it’s been ages since we’ve talked…”

I shifted my eyes, trying to remember when I’d last film a video blog. “A year, maybe? And just for a change, I’m not coming to you from the Country Music Capital of the World. Nashville and I have parted ways for a time, and I’m broadcasting from my new home in Virginia. You’re catching me on my second day here.”

I hadn’t planned this first live broadcast out very well. How much should I say? Mentally, I scrambled to come up with the rest of my spiel. Little thumbs-up and heart signs were already flashing across the screen.

Glancing behind me, I motioned to the room. “So… this is my new home. Currently under renovation, but it will soon be open for business. Yes, it’s a huge departure from songwriting, but don’t worry … I’ll still be doing plenty of that.”

I lifted the laptop and held it so that it flashed onto the grand piano in the corner of what had once been the front parlor—now, my living room. Then I repositioned it on the table. “My newest adventure is this wonderful old antebellum mansion I’m restoring. Within a few weeks, it’ll be open for guests as a bed and breakfast. I’ll keep you up to date and let you know when you can book a room. I hope to meet a few you in person right here in Virginia. I promise there will be all sorts of grand entertainment. Music, food, maybe a few costumes—it’ll be Halloween, after all—all taking place ri’cheer.” I played up a Nashville accent as I gestured over my shoulder. “In the meantime, I thought I’d play a crowd favorite on this magnificent instrument I’ve just
purchased.”

Again, I shifted the laptop so that the baby grand was in view, and then I padded across the newly polished marble floor and settled in front of the keyboard. My fingers found the keys—like old friends—and the sounds of a perfectly tuned piano reverberated against the ceiling.

I turned back to the camera. “This room has great acoustics.” Then I launched into one of my biggest hits, “People Like You.”

Songwriting was my comfort zone. Well-known stars made my songs into hits; occasionally I performed in a club. But this was the easiest place for me to play and sing to an audience—from the safety of my living room, on camera.

I’d just started to sing the opening to the song when something flashed in my peripheral vision.

I stopped, stared at the entryway to the living room. Had someone just walked by? I listened. Nothing. Glancing up at the screen again, the little thumbs and hearts still floated over the screen. Then a laughing emoji. Several laughing emojis.

Clearing my throat, I started to play the introduction to the song again. “Sorry, folks. I thought someone was … at the door.” I smiled at the camera. “Guess I’m not used to my new home yet.”

I closed my eyes and launched into the melancholy melody of the song. This time I sang it all the way through.

Allowing the ending chord to linger, ripple through me, the bass note vibrating my fingers on the keys, I opened my eyes again. “Thanks for joining me tonight, guys. I’ll be back in a few days with another update on my newest venture. In the meantime, love the one you’re with, remember that you’ve got a friend, and peace, love, and understanding to all.”

It was a corny catch-phrase built on three classic songs, and I still cringed sometimes when I said it, but it had worked for me. Some of the fans told me they really liked it.

I shut off the recording and then hit the arrow in the window to play back the live recording. This was a good way to see what I needed to change for next time—namely, the lighting. Geez, the house looked so dark. I swiveled my head left and then right. Was it actually that dark in here? Three lamps spilled light into the corners, and from where I was sitting the room looked pretty well illuminated. But on the video, it seemed like dark clouds muddied their spotlight effect. Weird.

And I didn’t look too bad on camera. A little tired, maybe, with some dark pits under my eyes, but I’d just have to put on a more makeup next time. I reached the part of the video where I’d stopped playing. My expression changed dramatically. My whole face drooped, suspended, as my gaze was drawn to something in the foyer.

My recovery had been pretty good. Playing through the song a second time with my eyes closed had kept me focused on the moment and the emotion in the music. But there was something in the background—something materializing behind me as I crooned away. It began as a darkening of the screen—as though the lights faded out and the darkness of the scene swelled to fill the space.

I leaned closer to the screen and squinted. Were those eyes? A face? It looked like a woman, leaning over my shoulder as I played and sang. Her features obscured by a great shadow, the whites of her eyes drawing closer to the screen, she peered into the camera.

Gasping, I shot up from the piano stool so quickly it toppled. Then I turned in a 360-degree circle, scanning the walls and corners of the room for the figure in the video. A joke. It had to be. My mind rushed with the possibilities. It was close to Halloween, so maybe the social media site had placed some kind of special effect on videos. Maybe I just didn’t know about it.

My heart drummed, pounding against the inside of my chest until my sternum hurt. I cut my eyes back and forth. No one was in the room with me. I was alone.

 

About the Author:

Obsessed with vampires and haunted houses from a young age, London grew up reading gothic tales featuring romantic and tragic heroes. Wuthering Heights and Dracula are her favorite novels, and although now happily married, she readily confesses that she is a recovering runaway, who once moved to England in search of a man who was the perfect amalgamation of Dracula, Hamlet, Heathcliff, and Mr. Rochester. London holds a B.A. in Music and M.F.A in Creative Writing. She’s had an eclectic array of jobs including receptionist, legal secretary, literary assistant, high school English teacher, and freelance editor.

London lives in a Washington, DC suburb with her husband and three greyhounds. She’s happiest when she’s writing novels, reading books, or binge watching her favorite programs like The Vampire Diaries or Being Human.

www.londonclarke.com
https://www.facebook.com/LondonClarkeAuthor/https://twitter.com/londonclarke2
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17868681.London_Clarke
https://www.pinterest.com/londonclarkeauthor/

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Spooktacular Spotlight on #mystery: Fey by @KirstenWeiss

Hello, Dear Readers!
It’s time for more Halloween fun brought to you by the Bewitching Spooktacular event. Today, author Kristen Weiss is here with her cozy mystery. Enjoy an excerpt and be sure to enter the event’s rafflecopter giveaway!
xoxo, Celia

Title: Fey
Series: The Witches of Doyle
Number: Book 5
Author: Kirsten Weiss
Genre: cozy witch mystery
Publisher: Misterio Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-944767-34-1
ASIN: B07GBHMJZZ
Number of pages: 192
Word Count: 61,000
Cover Artist: Dar Albert

This witch will do anything for a normal life with the man she loves. But when you’re on fairy patrol, normal is relative.

Book Description:
This witch will do anything for a normal life with the man she loves. But when you’re on fairy patrol, normal is relative.

Witch Jayce Bonheim has packed away her candles, crystals and cauldrons. With her boyfriend recovering from a hex, she’s determined to build a sane and magic-free life for them both.

But when a horde of troublemaking gnomes invades the small town of Doyle, it’s up to Jayce and her magical sisters to send them packing.

After the gnomes lead Jayce to a murdered employee from her own café, she’s plunged into an investigation that lands her in the sheriff’s crosshairs. And Jayce must catch a killer before the sheriff’s brewing witch hunt nets a very real witch.

Fey is book 5 in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels. Buy Fey and start reading this quirky witch mystery today!

Spells included at the back of the book.

Book Trailer | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks | Nook

Wherein Jayce Battles a Phooka
Halloween Flash Fiction from the Witches of Doyle
By Kirsten Weiss

“Well, you didn’t have to answer so honestly,” I grumped. My sister Karin could be bossy.
A farmer wandered the pumpkin patch beneath a full, harvest moon, his curses floating on the warm, night air. He prodded a smashed rind with his boot.
Jaw clenched, I scanned the ruined field and jammed my phone into the apron of my French maid outfit. Hey, when you’re a real witch, there’s no point to dressing as something supernatural. Besides, Halloween night was supposed to be time for sexy fun with my boyfriend, Brayden, not for playing monster-cop.
My chest tightened. Brayden and I were solid. Totally. But I’d sort of missed our last two dates due to unforeseen magical circumstances, and Halloween was a special time for us. I couldn’t let him down again.
I plastered on a smile and waved to the farmer. “Did any pumpkins survive?”
“Damned kids!”
In other words, no.
My phone vibrated again. Ignoring the text, I knelt beside a tiny pumpkin the vandal had overlooked. I picked it up, brushed off the soil. Since I was an earth witch, plants liked me. I closed my eyes and focused on the pumpkin. Was there magic here?
“You! You! Stop!”
My head jerked up.
The farmer raced toward a scarecrow by the side of the dirt road. The scarecrow lifted its arms and smashed a pumpkin to the ground.
“Damn it.” It was magic. I leapt to my feet and sprinted toward the scarecrow. Was this a new trick? The local fairies animating scarecrows?
A shadow swept through the darkness in a clatter of hooves. Bells tinkling, a wagon flashed between us.
I skidded to a halt, teetering inches from the moving hayride, loaded with giggling kids and beaming parents and jingling harnesses.
The pumpkin split in my hand, and I jumped. My hair lifted at the nape of my neck. What the hell?
The hayride passed.
A shimmer of light flitted behind the scarecrow and vanished into the nearby woods.
I cocked my head and shivered. What was that? Dropping the pumpkin’s remains, I hurried forward.
The scarecrow slumped and dropped the pumpkin in her hands. And it was a her, a real her in a scarecrow outfit, and not, as I’d thought, a scarecrow come to life.
“What? Where am I?” She glared at me. “What did you do?”
“Nothing!” Typical. I always got blamed.
The farmer roared forward, arms swinging. The scarecrow sprinted away, which seemed like smart thinking.
I checked my phone and texted my sister.
Seriously. Crappiest pep talk ever. And where was I supposed to get iron?
The hayride clattered to a halt. Its driver helped the riders out and handed each a horseshoe.
Iron. I jogged to the wagon.
“Hey,” I said, chest heaving.
The driver smiled at my costume. “Hay is for horses.”
Yay. A comedian. “Can I have a horseshoe?”
“Did you buy a ticket?”
“Please, it’s super important.” That I make my date. Okay, and that I de-possess innocent Doyle-ites. Oh yeah, and send the stupid fairy back to wherever it came from.
“No ticket, no ride, no lucky horseshoe.”
“Fine,” I snapped and rummaged in my frilly apron for some bills. “How much—wait, are they real horseshoes? Iron horseshoes?”
“Sure.”
I handed over the money and got my shoe. “Perfect.” I raced into the oak forest.
The light dodged through a vineyard, between rows of twisted vines, and vanished behind a rise.
I jogged over the hill into another pumpkin patch.
A middle-aged woman in a plaid shirt, jeans, and vest hurled a pumpkin to the ground.
Aghast, I gaped at the wreckage. At least a quarter of the field was already destroyed, rinds and seeds and orange strings tangled on the ground.
“Catch!” I pitched the horseshoe at the woman.
She plucked it from the air and tossed it over her shoulder. The woman kicked a pumpkin.
Okay then. No on the iron. Or that guy had lied about the horseshoe.
My phone chimed, a gentle cascade of notes, and my insides fluttered. I didn’t need to check the screen. Brayden was the only person I knew who called instead of texting. He was old-fashioned that way. It was super cute.
The pumpkin in the woman’s raised hands exploded, raining down on her head. Her mouth opened, and the orb flew from her throat.
She stumbled and rubbed her forehead. “What…? My pumpkins! Who smashed my pumpkins?”
Keeping an eye on the wavering light, I answered the phone. “Hey there,” I said, trying for a low purr. But it’s hard to be sexy surrounded by smashed squash.
“Jayce.” Brayden’s voice rumbled. “Am I in the wrong spot?”
My belly heated, turning liquid. “Sorry. My bad. I’m on my way.”
He laughed softly. “I’ll wait. See you at Antoine’s.” He hung up.
The fairy light bobbed up a forest trail, along a stream.
I looked down the hill, where my F-150 was parked, and bit the inside of my cheek. If I ditched my fairy quest, I could be at Antoine’s in ten minutes.
The light vanished around a bend.
I swore and charged up the inky trail. But the blasted light kept ahead of me.
The trail changed, ribboning past cottages and a miniature red waterwheel.
I jogged up the stone steps from the creek to Main Street.
Across the road, a deflating bouncy castle marked the entrance to a pumpkin patch. Old Mrs. Biddlecreek raised her cane and brought it down on a pumpkin.
Frustrated, I glanced at my phone. It was nearly midnight. I was sweaty. My maid’s outfit was a wreck. Antoine’s, a small town bar, would be closing soon. I was so screwed.
How had I gotten stuck with fairy-removal duty? I didn’t know what I was doing. Iron was a bust. And I’d no idea why the fairy had left its first two hosts. Not because of me, that was for sure.
My phone pinged, and my muscles tensed. I really needed to choose a text tone that was more relaxing, like my chimes…
Chimes.
The first time the fairy had left, horses had trotted past, bells jingling. And the second time, Brayden had called, and my chime tones had rung.
Mrs. Biddlecreek whacked another pumpkin.
If I was going to get rid of the fairy for good, I needed bigger bells.
I scanned through cat videos, political screeds… “Ha!” I turned up the volume and thrust my phone toward the old lady. Winchester Cathedral’s bells bonged from my phone’s speaker.
The old woman clapped her hands to her ears. A ball of light flew from Mrs. Biddlecreek’s mouth. The light quivered, pulsing, then shrunk to nothing, popping out of our world’s existence.
The pumpkin patch exploded, pelting me with an orange mess.
“Augh!” I ducked, too late.
Mrs. Biddlecreek blinked and shook a pumpkin rind off her cane.
“Jayce?” Brayden, dressed like Zorro, strode down the sidewalk. Even beneath the black mask, I’d know his broad shoulders and confident stride anywhere.
Frantically, I brushed slimy orange from my maid’s outfit. “Brayden! You came looking for me?”
“Whoa.” He plucked a string of seeds from my hair, and his emerald eyes sparkled. “What happened?”
“It was sort of… uh… a magical problem.”
His handsome face creased. “Why didn’t you tell me? I was worried.”
I motioned toward the pumpkin patch. “I didn’t want to ruin your Halloween with… this.”
“Ruin?” He pulled me close, getting pumpkin on his silky white shirt. “All I want is to be part of your magic.” He kissed me, sending a shockwave through my body.
“Is that all?” I whispered.
He peeled another string of orange goo from my shoulder. “And get you into the shower.”
*****
Read about Jayce and her magical sister in The Witches of Doyle cozy mystery novels. Book 5, Fey, arrives on October 28th, just in time for Halloween!

 

About the Author

Kirsten Weiss has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking red wine. The latter gives her heartburn, but she drinks it anyway.

Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes genre-blending cozy mystery, supernatural and steampunk suspense, mixing her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of fun and enchantment.

If you like funny cozy mysteries, check out her Pie Town, Paranormal Museum and Wits’ End books. If you’re looking for some magic with your mystery, give the Witches of Doyle, Riga Hayworth and Rocky Bridges books a try. And if you like steampunk, the Sensibility Grey series might be for you.

Kirsten sends out original short stories of mystery and magic to her mailing list. If you’d like to get them delivered straight to your inbox, make sure to sign up for her newsletter at kirstenweiss.com

Feel free to follow her on Twitter @KirstenWeiss or Bookbub, get in touch on Facebook, post a picture of this book to Instagram and tag her @kirstenweissauthor, or send her an email. She’ll answer you personally…which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Spooktacular #Halloween #Craft + #YAFantasy: Flesh by @Laura_Bickle

Hello Dear Readers! Laura Bickle is here today with some fun, DIY Halloween Luminaries plus a look at her YA Fantasy/Horror story, Flesh. Be sure to enter the Bewitching Spooktacular giveaway, too! xo, Celia

Flesh
Laura Bickle
YA Horror/Paranormal/Fantasy
Book Description:

The dead are easy to talk to. Live people, not so much.

Charlie Sulliven thinks she knows all the secrets of the dead. Raised in a funeral home, she’s the reluctant “Ghoul Girl,” her reputation tied to a disastrous Halloween party. But navigating her life as a high school sophomore is an anxiety-inducing puzzle to her. She haunts the funeral home with her parents, emo older brother, Garth, their pistol-packing Gramma, and the glass-eyeball-devouring dachshund, Lothar.

Chewed human bodies are appearing in her parents’ morgue…and disappearing in the middle of the night. The bodies seem tied to a local legend, Catfish Bob, who has resurfaced in the muddy Milburn river near Charlie’s small town. When one of Charlie’s classmates, Amanda, awakens in the cooler as a flesh-eating ghoul, Charlie must protect her newfound friend and step up to unravel the mystery…and try to avoid becoming lunch meat for the dead.

Amazon |
BN | Kobo | iBooks

EXCERPT

“Amanda, I…Oh.”
I don’t know what else to say. My brain just shuts down.
She is wearing the sheet, wound around her like a toga. It trails behind her bare feet, sort of like a painting about Greek goddesses I’ve seen in art books. She’s leaning over another body stored in the cooler unit on a cart. Her back is to me, and I can only see her pale skin and her burgundy-black hair shuddering.
“Amanda.”
She turns at the sound of my voice, seeming only to hear me for the first time. Her face is covered in dark blood. In her hand, she’s holding a big chunk of purple flesh. Her eyes are half-closed. The autopsy incision on the elderly body below her has been ripped open, and I’m pretty sure that what she’s holding is a lung.
“So hungry…” she murmurs.
I retreat until my back presses against the cold door. A whimper escapes my lips, and I drop the laundry basket with a sharp crack of plastic on the tile floor. This has to be a dream. A screwed-up anxiety dream that I’ll wake up from any moment now…
Amanda’s black eyes snap open. She stares at the chunk of flesh in her hand. “I…Agh…What’s going on?”
Lothar waddles over to her and begins to beg. Bile rises in my throat. “That’s Mrs. Canner,” I manage to answer. “She’s seventy-two and died of surgery complications for varicose veins. Deep vein thrombosis, I think. I don’t remember.” I’m babbling, trying to keep the bile down.
Amanda drops the lung with a wet splat. Lothar scrambles to it and begins scarfing it down. Her hands are trembling. She presses them to her temples. “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.”
I nudge the laundry basket closer to her with my foot. “I brought you some clothes. And, um. Food. You should get dressed.”
I think I should be afraid. I think I really ought to be. But Amanda seems genuinely confused. She reaches for the clothes I’ve brought her. To be polite, I know that I should really look away. But I can’t move. I am not turning my back on her. My heart pounds, and I struggle to take deep, uneven breaths.
Amanda unwinds the sheet and slips into my clothes. Though I avert my eyes, I see that her shoulder and side are still torn open. But my mother hasn’t begun the autopsy yet, so there is no Y-incision across her chest and abdomen.
“Do you remember what happened to you?” I manage to ask. I congratulate myself for having a rational thought. Woot.
Her voice is halting, and her brow wrinkles as she struggles to button my jeans. “I remember…something was chasing me. Jesus, it hurt…” Her hand comes up to her neck, and she seems to remember, fingering the edges of the wound. “Am I in a hospital?” she asks again.
I suck in a breath. “No. You’re at my house.” It’s not a lie. Not really.
She scans the room, as if registering the sight of the cadavers. “You’re the girl whose parents run the funeral home. The Ghoul Girl.”
“It’s gonna be okay,” I tell her.
“Why am I here?” Her breath makes ghosts in the cold air.
“The Sheriff found you, alongside the road.” That’s true also, even if not the whole truth. “I think we should get you upstairs, so you can talk to my parents…”
She shakes her head, and her dark hair slaps across her face. “No. I…Oh my god. I’m here because…somebody thought I was dead?”
I swallow hard. “Yeah.”
Her hands press to the wound on her side. “But I’m not dead!”
“I…uh…I think we need to get you to the hospital.” I tentatively reach toward her, to grasp her arm and guide her upstairs, toward the light of the much more civilized parlor and rational discussion. This is so far over my head, and I need my parents to handle it.
She shakes her head. “No. No. No.”
I hold her elbow gently, trying to keep her calm until I can get her upstairs to my parents. Her skin radiates cold through the sweatshirt, and I can see that the edges of her neck wound are dry, not seeping so much as a hint of blood. “Come with me.” I open the door and gently lead her into the lab, as if I’m herding a frightened cat. She gazes at the stainless-steel equipment. “I was here. I remember being here.”
“Come upstairs,” I urge, struggling to keep my composure. I use all the empathy that I’ve learned, dealing with grieving family members, trying to understand the shock and lead her away from the Body Shop.
She squints up at the buzzing light. “You were here, weren’t you? You and that woman. Looking at me.”
“My mother,” I say. I’m thinking crap crap crap. I’ve heard of cases of people whose vitals have dropped far beyond detection, who have awoken in hospital morgues. This has never happened to us. Not ever. Oh shit. The other body. Maybe it the same thing…
“The woman with that knife…” Her fingers go to her sternum, where my mother’s scalpel had rested. All of a sudden, Amanda becomes rooted in place, as immovable as a mountain.
“No one’s going to hurt you,” I promise. “Let me make you some coffee.”
She shakes her head, and I feel her trembling. Her eyes slide to the back door.
She slips from my grip. Before I can stop her, she rushes to the back door. She slams it open with a sound like a gunshot and plunges into the darkness.

 

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

More information about Laura’s work can be found at:
www.laurabickle.com
https://twitter.com/Laura_Bickle
https://www.facebook.com/Author.Laura.Bickle
https://goo.gl/TNgIjL

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Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and I love making decorations for this time of year. I looked around at the materials I had rolling around my craft room and raided the displays at the dollar store to come up with some Halloween luminaries to perch in my windows.


For this project, I used:
Two wide-mouth jars
A plastic witch
A plastic ghost
Black sand
Glue gun and glue sticks
Plastic spider rings
Ribbon
Two LED light strings – I used pumpkins and bats

I already had the jars, glue, spiders, and ribbon, but found the LED lights, sand, witch, and ghost at my local dollar store. So I’ve invested about five bucks in this project. I won’t too feel bad if it doesn’t turn out!

First thing I did was stuff the witch in a jar and the ghost in jars. I had originally intended to use mason jars, but I didn’t have any with mouths wide enough to squeeze the plastic sculptures through. So I used some plastic jars I had handy. I settled the witch and ghost in their new homes, then poured some black sand around their feet to simulate ground. You could also use glitter or black salt or fine pebbles.

Then I put some batteries in my lights and tested them out. I think that I could use fairy lights for this step, too, but I liked the bats and pumpkins.

I arranged the light strings in the jars. I used a pencil to push them around so that they showed most clearly from the front. I made sure that the tail of the light string, with the battery pack, extended outside of the jars. I wanted to be able to turn my luminaries on and off and change batteries without digging the whole string out of the jar, though you could leave it in the jar, too.

 

Here’s what they looked like:

Then, I screwed on the lids. Since my lids were plastic, they didn’t damage the thin wire. I made sure that the wire fed out the back side of the jar. If I needed more room, I would have cut out part of the lid or put the pack behind the figure inside the jar, but this seemed to work fine with these materials.

I cut two lengths of ribbon and fished out a couple of spider rings from the bag of spiders. I cut the ring part off the spiders so that they would lie flat.

I made a bow with each ribbon and glued one to the top of each jar. In the center of the bow, I glued a spider.

And I was done! Here’s what my finished luminaries look like.

I can’t wait to put these in my window on Halloween!

 

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