National Psychic Week – Who knew?

It’s National Psychic Week!

That means that we have great books

*with a psychic twist*

on sale!

Don’t miss out! The sale ends August 5th!

*sale is for ebook only*


The Manicurist by Phyllis Schieber – $0.99

A magical novel of secrets revealed and a family in turmoil, searching together for new beginnings.

Tessa and Walter have, by all appearances, the perfect marriage. And they seem to be ideal parents for their somewhat rebellious teenage daughter, Regina. Without warning, however, their comfortable lives are thrown into turmoil when a disturbing customer comes into the salon where Tessa works as a manicurist.

Suddenly, Tessa’s world is turned upside down as revelations come to light about the mother she thought had abandoned her in childhood and the second sight that she so guardedly seeks to keep from others.

     


The Challenge by Susan Kearney – $0.99

Book 1 of The Rystani Warrior Series

Domination. Desire. Destiny.

He rules a future in which women are helpless, obedient, and always willing. She comes from a past in which a woman’s strength, brains, and courage are unquestioned. The challenge between them is timeless.

Secret Service agent Tessa Camen took a bullet meant for the president. She regains consciousness three hundred years in the future on a spaceship, naked in the arms of Kahn, a fierce warlord from the planet Rystan. He’s been expecting her. Tessa was whisked forward in time because her fighting abilities include a psychic talent like none other. Only she can defeat an enemy who threatens Earth. The fate of her home hangs in the balance. Once again, she’s called on to serve and protect her nation.

In Kahn’s world, women are meant to be ruled but also protected. He can seduce Tessa, but can he own her heart and mind? Can he put aside his beliefs about women to help her train for a brutal intergalactic test, The Challenge? If she loses, so does Earth.

Tessa and Kahn are caught in a war of wills set in a future where survival is a skill, power is an aphrodisiac, and love is a challenge that could destroy everything they cherish.

     


 

The Lightning Charmer by Kathryn Magendie – $1.99

He brought down the sky for her.

The spell was cast when they were children. That bond cannot be broken.

In the deep hollows and high ridges of the ancient Appalachian mountains, a legacy of stunning magic will change their lives forever.

Laura is caught between the modern and the mystical, struggling to lead a normal life in New York despite a powerful psychic connection to her childhood home in North Carolina—and to the mysterious stranger who calls her name. She’s a synesthete—someone who mentally “sees” and “tastes” splashes of color connected to people, emotions, and things. She’s struggled against the distracting ability all her life; now the effects have grown stronger. She returns home to the mountains, desperate to resolve the obsessive pull of their mysteries.

But life in her mountain community is far from peaceful. An arsonist has the town on edge, and she discovers Ayron, scarred and tormented, an irresistible recluse who rarely leaves the forest. As her childhood memories of him surface, the facade of her ordinary world begins to fade. The knots she’s tied around her heart and her beliefs start unraveling. Ayron has never forgotten her or the meaning of their astonishing bond. If his kind is to survive in modern times, he and Laura must face the consequences of falling in love.

     


 

Nothing But Trouble by Trish Jensen – $0.99

He’s gorgeous, rich, sexy, super nice, and head-over-heels for her. So what’s the problem?

Her psychic best friend predicts that Laura Tanner is due to meet a prince—the man of her dreams. Not a likely scenario for a hard-working bar owner who’s better at karate-chopping rowdy patrons than hobnobbing with the silver-spoon crowd. When Ivy League lawyer Brandon Prince (a prince!) strolls into her bar, Laura admits he’s hard to resist. Brandon quickly realizes that this lovely, funny, take-no-prisoners woman is the special someone he’s always wanted.

Brandon is an expert at wooing women, and even a tough cookie like Laura can’t help but fall under his spell. Before she knows what’s happening, he’s lured her on a romantic adventure filled with laughter and desire. Dazzled, she begins to believe that she really can have this prince of a man as her own.

One problem: Brandon’s powerful mother is used to women chasing his family fortune, and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep yet another money-grubbing female out of his life. If a man is everything you’ve ever wanted, how can he also be nothing but trouble?

     


 

Raging Spirits by Angel Smits – $0.99

Can she break the spell that haunts him?

Clarissa Elgin’s psychic powers have brought her trouble before. This time, her vision shows her a handsome man dying in her arms after being shot in a robbery. The stranger whispers the name Rachel as his killer. She also envisions an embezzlement scheme at a bank where she soon spots the man in real life. David Lorde, a bank vice president, is skeptical when she visits his office to warn him about the future.

Another vision shows her a lovers’ quarrel between David and Rachel—his wife. He suspected her of marrying him for his money and prestige. A shot rings out. Did he kill Rachel?

Clarissa can’t get David out of her mind. As she falls in love with him, she deduces that somehow his late wife’s spirit has cast a spell over him. But an even more sinister evil is behind Rachel’s power. . .

Clarissa must risk her life to save him.

     


In addition to our amazing sale, we asked our intern, Cody, to write a post for National Psychic Week! He did not disappoint…

Psychic powers have long fascinated me. I am on the fence about whether I think people can actually have psychic abilities. I want to believe they can, but I’ll need a piece of hard proof in front of me before I will completely go out on that limb. That being said, psychics have indisputably had a hand in solving various murders and missing persons cases over the years. They continue to be able to tell us things about people who have passed away that seemingly they should not know if their powers were fake. Cases upon cases of psychic occurrences have been documented, but without being able to actually enter the mind of the psychic, no one has been able to explain or completely validate whether or not psychics are real.

Perhaps the most interesting psychic of all time was Nostradamus. He wrote over a thousand quatrains (a four line block) about events he believed would happen in the future. The poetic nature of his prophesies makes it difficult to pinpoint specific events. However, looking at his writings in hindsight, there are countless events that he might have predicted. One of his most famous predictions was about the coming of Hitler. He wrote:

“From the depths of the West of Europe,
A young child will be born of poor people,
He who by his tongue will seduce a great troop;
His fame will increase towards the realm of the East.

           Beasts ferocious with hunger will cross the rivers,
           The greater part of the battlefield will be against Hister.
           Into a cage of iron will the great one be drawn,
           When the child of Germany observes nothing.”

 

Many people have interpreted, and with good reason, this to be a direct reference to Hitler. He only missed calling out Hitler specifically by one letter. Also, the two quatrains almost perfectly describe Hitler’s upbringing as well as the political landscape during WWII concerning the Allied and Axis forces.

Nostradamus’s predictions don’t stop there. He also predicted the Great Fire of London in 1666 and possibly the terror attacks of 9/11 in New York City. He spoke of the terror attacks by referring to the “great new city” where the “sky will burn at 45 degrees.”  Most scholars believe that Nostradamus’s “45 degrees” is in reference to the city’s location, near the 45 degree line of latitude.            

All of that being said, I think we need to take Nostradamus’s prophecies with a grain of salt. The vast majority of his writings are very imprecise and can seemingly only be understood after an event has happened. However, I still believe there is some validity to the psychic argument. Nostradamus, while vague, clearly had a grasp on something a little bit deeper than a basic understanding of the universe. Whether that means he was a genius at deception or a true psychic, only time and more research will tell, but the possibility of a person having a psychic connection to their surroundings continues to fascinate millions of people. I cannot discount the fact that there are people who can discern information in ways that most cannot explain. This phenomenon will remain capable of captivating us for many generations to come.

 

Check out more of Nostradamus’s predictions:

http://read.bi/2w7z6M2

You can also get your own copy of Nostradamus’s Prophecies here:

 http://amzn.to/2f9zcyC


Happy Reading!

 

 

Author Spotlight: Arlene Kay

Arlene Kay
Mantrap
Swann Dive
Swann Songs

CURTAINS CLOSED

by Arlene Kay

 

When is the right time for an author to end a series? As readers we never want to see the last of beloved characters who have almost become family members. As authors we know that it is preferable to end our series at its peak rather than see our fictional friends decline to a mere shadow of themselves. I think of series I have loved that simply went on too long and became derivative shells of their formerly vibrant selves. (No names, please).

I faced this dilemma with two of my series, (the Grace Quinn/Patrick Fong mysteries), and the Boston Uncommons saga from Bellebridge books. With the former, the story line played out after six books. Ending the tales of Eja and Deming was more challenging. Many readers have since told me that four books were NOT enough to satisfy them. Although I have since moved on, I am considering a Christmas novella featuring the Swanns. Think of Boston, blizzards, and bodies—with a baby or two thrown in. How seasonal can one get?

Ultimately although the outcome rests with a number of players, one factor supersedes them all:  the viability of plot and characters. Authors owe their best effort to both readers and their literary creations.

 

GILT TRIP (Book #3 of the Boston Uncommons Series) is on special for $1.99 from July 15-31 on all e-platforms.  

 

And don’t forget to grab the rest of the Boston Uncommons Mysteries as well!

                                                          

 

Stone Cold Bastards Giveaway

Stone Cold Bastards Giveaway
Stone Cold Bastards
Jake_Bible.jpg
The big day is only two weeks away!
Celebrate with a giveaway!
Jake Bible’s newest title, Stone Cold Bastards, will be officially released on 2/24!
That gives you two weeks to win an exclusive Stone Cold Bastards T-Shirt!
In order to enter, pre-order Stone Cold Bastards here, then send proof of your purchase to nikiflowers@bellebooks.com.
The contest is open to anyone who has already pre-ordered and anyone else who pre-orders by 11:59 PM on 2/23 (Print or ebook versions).
Two winners will be chosen and notified of their status on Monday, 2/27. Contest is only open to US residents.
Good luck!

“Misfit stone warriors against the demon apocalypse—a bloody good story!”
—Gail Z. Martin, author of Shadow and Flame
Only a rag-tag team of gargoyles stands between humanity and extinction.
Hell has released its ravening horde of demons, leaving most of humanity a puke-spewing, head-spinning mess of possession.
Humanity’s last hope? A team of misfit gargoyles—including a cigar chomping, hard-ass grotesque—come alive and ready for battle during the End of Days. They guard the last cathedral-turned-sanctuary atop a bald knoll in the North Carolina mountains.
Gargoyle protection grudgingly extends to any human who can make it inside the sanctuary, but the power of the stonecutter blood magic, which protects the sanctuary, may not be enough when a rogue grotesque and his badly-wounded ward arrive.
All the hounds of hell are on their heels. The last sanctuary is about to fall.


Jake Bible, Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist and author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, has entertained thousands with his horror and sci/fi tales. He reaches audiences of all ages with his uncanny ability to write a wide range of characters and genres. Other series by Jake Bible: the bestselling Salvage Merc One, the Apex Trilogy, the Mega series, and the Reign of Four series. Jake lives in the wonderfully weird Asheville, North Carolina.  Connect with Jake on Facebook, Twitter, and his website: jakebible.com



All Aboard!

All Aboard!
vedam-new-2016
climb-on-board-vedam
a-perfect-curse-200x300x72

vedam-new-2016Regency Sea Travel 101

Shereen Vedam

Hang on, there’s stormy weather ahead! And a bit of a history lesson.

The “Regency” era covers the period 1811 to 1820, when Prince George IV became Regent of England because his father, King George III, due to a malady, was declared incapable of performing the necessary royal functions.

During most of the Regency period and before, passengers who wished to travel by sea had to make do with paying for the privilege of boarding a vessel that primarily carried cargo and mail. It was only in 1818 that the Black Ball Line was founded to provide a regular service for passengers aboard its packet ships from the United States to England.

climb-on-board-vedam

“I shall go the way our brave Sailors do, so take care of my petticoates, Captain and chair the Bishop!” Is not She a Spunky one…or the Princess and the Bishop

Before then, the best way to travel from England to Europe or elsewhere was on board a merchant vessel. As an island, England needed to conduct trade to and from India, China, West Indies, Canada and elsewhere, bringing in raw goods like rice, rum and precious spices, and carting away manufactured textiles, pottery and metallic goods. Therefore, lots of merchant vessels plied their trade between Britain and many of its colonies.

These sea voyages came to a crashing halt once the Peninsula War between England and France began. You see Napoléon Bonaparte had placed his brothers as kings of neighboring countries in order to create puppet states and dominate Europe. The moment he tried that ploy with Spain and Portugal, it instigated a widespread populace uprising against French occupation. And thus began the Peninsula War.

This war lasted from 1808 to 1814, and during that time, travel by the general public to Europe was hindered by Britain imposing a series of decrees (Orders in Council) in 1807. These decrees restricted the movement of merchant vessels seeking to trade with European countries.

Side note: these trade restrictions imposed by Britain was partly responsible for the American War of 1812.

Moving on. After Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated in April of 1814, the Peninsula War ended, and trading vessels once again sought ways to make money through sea travel to Europe. Despite the war ending, however, travel by sea remained perilous and uncomfortable. Cabins were cramped, food was terrible and the cost exorbitant.

Nowadays, we can simply board an engine powered cruise ship or ferry knowing that if trouble arose, there would be lifeboats and marine evacuation chutes to take us to safety. We can be fairly confident the crew will be well-trained to combat emergency situations because regulations require that vessel crew regularly practice evacuation drills. We also know that when we are served a meal, the quality is covered by food safety laws.

During Regency times, however, travel by sea wasn’t so safe, well catered or easy. For a woman, simply getting on board was an impediment. Take a quick read of the excerpt below and see how my heroine reacts to having to climb up a slippery ladder in order to board a tall ship.

————————–

EXCERPT from A Perfect Curse

As their skiff neared the Magdalena, sailors greeted them with shouts and cheers. Nevara was dismayed to see that she would be required to climb aboard by way of a long slippery rope ladder.

 

a-perfect-curse-200x300x72Lord Terrance strapped his dog to his chest with a rope he had brought for that purpose and scaled upward as if he did this sort of thing every day. His lordship’s valet, Ellison, a meticulously groomed slender man, stood ready to assist the others. Lady Terrance confidently tied her skirts higher, exposing her ankles but allowing her to climb the ladder and follow her husband.

Once his employers were out of earshot, Ellison began to mutter about the dire consequences of this accursed voyage. He bent to offer Nevara a hand up. On closer inspection, the valet’s proud manner did not match his red-rimmed eyes or his unsteady footing. She wondered if his swaying movement had more to do with the smell of spirits on his breath than the rocking of the skiff. He was more likely to tip her overboard than help her ascend the ladder. Behind her, the other servant, Lady Terrance’s maid, Mendal, a gaunt woman in her late forties, crossed herself and murmured a psalm.

Nevara hitched up her skirts as she had seen Lady Terrance do and grabbed onto the rope ladder. She then made her careful way up. Her skirts still proved a nuisance as they caught beneath her feet at the back. Taking one hand off the rope ladder to free herself, she swayed dangerously to the side.

“Careful,” Lord Terrance called from the top. “Keep both hands on the ladder, Miss Wood.”

Easier said than done. Her tight grip kept slipping on the slimy rope ladder. She hiked her skirts again until both her feet could find purchase on the steps. Still on the skiff, Mendal was reciting a gloomy biblical verse in rhythm to Nevara’s every slippery step.

At the top, Lord Terrance pulled her over the railing with a strong heave and a stout, “Well done, Miss Wood.” His mischievous grin and a glance down to his servants suggested he understood her misgivings. His beautiful wife, too, seemed to be hiding a smile.

Nevara was not amused. She had to share a cabin with Mendal during the upcoming voyage. She hoped the lady’s maid would desist from this worrisome praying. She had enough concerns to accompany her all the way to Cadiz.

 

Pick up A PERFECT CURSE for just $0.99! Only through the end of September!

Goodbye to 2015

Goodbye to 2015
Judith Arnold
new-year-reading

Judith ArnoldGoodbye to 2015

by Judith Arnold

 

Last year—2015—began for me, rather unpleasantly, with major surgery. I remember talking to my surgeon about whether scheduling the surgery for January 2nd was such a hot idea. “Will you be hung over?” I asked. He assured me he wouldn’t be. I certainly wouldn’t be. My husband and I weren’t exactly in a celebratory mood that New Year’s Eve.

 

But as I look back on the year just ended, I realize that despite its start, 2015 wasn’t a bad year at all. The surgery went well. My husband and some potent drugs got me through the first few post-op days, and then I started to reclaim my life.

 

I’m an exercise freak. I jog. I work out with weights. I do crunches and stretches. One year ago, I suddenly found myself unable to do any of those things. And yet, step by step, crunch by crunch, I got stronger. A week after the surgery, I could walk all the way to the corner and back. Another few weeks and I was able to walk a mile. I was able to carry the groceries from the trunk of my car to the kitchen without assistance, and lug the laundry baskets up and down the stairs. My clothing once again fit. My scars faded.

 

Now, one year later, I’m me again!

 

So in fact, 2015 was a terrific year. I got knocked down, and I picked myself back up again. That’s my definition of wonderful.

 

Still, when it comes to last year, I’m ready to say “goodbye to all that.” A new year means a new beginning. New walks and jogs, new adventures, new books to write, new readers to entertain. I hope this new year will be wonderful for all of us.

new-year-reading

Say GOODBYE TO ALL THAT with Judith Arnold – only $1.99 through January 15th! 

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Ariana Cover Finalist

The Cipher
Last Bigfoot in Dixie
Prince of Magic
The Quick and the Undead
Phi Beta Bimbo
Lord of the Storm
Murder on Edisto
The Nightingale Bones

 

Check out the Bell Bridge Books and ImaJinn Books covers that are finalist in the EPIC’s Ariana eBook Cover Art Competition this year! 

The Cipher - 200x300x72

The Cipher by Diana Pharaoh Francis (Book 1 of The Crosspointe Novels)

Lucy Trenton’s ability to sense majick is one of her most dangerous secrets. But only one.

A blackmailer knows the other.

Suddenly, Lucy is caught in a treasonous plot to destroy the crown, and she’s trapped in the tentacles of a desperate, destructive majick. Her only hope is ship captain Marten Thorpe, who—by every account—cannot be trusted. With time running out, Lucy must find a way to win a dangerous game or lose everything she holds dear.

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Last Bigfoot in Dixie by Wally Avett

Killer bear, Appalachian psycho, Yankee gold . . .

He’s on the trail of something big . . .

Deep in the Great Smokies, a huge black bear kills a child at a campground, and a hunt begins in a quiet mountain community where such threats are rare. Wade, an outdoorsman and backwoods columnist, is quickly deputized to find and slay the massive beast terrorizing tourists and locals alike.

While on the trail, he is wounded by a pot-grower’s booby trap and stalked by Junior, an authentic Appalachian psychopath. Two fellow deputies are gunned down, and rumors of buried Civil War gold surface. Wade gets unexpected assistance from a wannabe writer whose gifts prove helpful even after mushroom trances and spiritual quests—enhanced by a Minnesota Vikings horn-helmet.

The discovery of a mysterious doll ties into grisly murders from the past, and Wade meets a tough, old Marine with a puzzling treasure map. All the while, the looming threat of Junior’s lethal lunacy stalks Wade and his colorful allies.

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Prince of Magic by Anne Stuart

Caught dancing barefoot in the moonlit woods, dressed only in her shift, Elizabeth Penshurst is considered by decent folk to be notorious and disgraced. Sent by her father, a reverend, to serve penance with a cousin in Hernewood, Lizzie sets her thoughts on becoming the perfectly demure and reserved young woman any suitor would want.

But evil haunts the woods of Hernewood Abbey. As the Druid festival of Beltane approaches, a sinister cult seeks a virgin sacrifice. Their intended victim: Lizzie. Her only defender—and the man likely to relieve her of her dangerous maidenhood—is the mysterious Gabriel, the Dark Man, a fellow outcast and scholar of Druidism. The forest calls to them both.

Their irresistible attraction, both mystical and bawdy, may be the only force more powerful than the cult’s dark purpose.

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The Quick and the Undead by Kimberly Raye (Tombstone, Texas: Book 1)

Welcome to Tombstone, Texas, where anything is possible, even your wildest fantasy. Once a haven to outlaws, Tombstone is now a tourist town that gives travelers a taste of the old West. What visitors don’t realize, however, is that the super-hot cowboys, gunslingers, and lawmen walking the streets aren’t actors—they’re originals. These ancient vampires claimed Tombstone two centuries ago.

So step right up, folks, and book your trip today! The outlaws of Tombstone will be waiting . . .

Travel blogger Riley Davenport loves her job, travelling to the most exotic places in the world. Even better, it keeps her one step ahead of her stalking ex. The last thing she wants in her life is a strong alpha male. But that’s exactly what she gets when she comes face-to-face with Sheriff Boone Jarrett, a hero right out of her most erotic fantasies.

Boone isn’t just the law in Tombstone, Texas. He’s also an ancient vampire and the target of a crazed killer. He certainly doesn’t have time for romance. But a temporary fling? Now that he can handle.

Unfortunately, their first night together ends in disaster when Riley witnesses a murder. And to protect her, Boone forces her into hiding. Only her “captivity” ends up becoming the realization of her wildest, most carnal fantasies. Still, Riley’s not going to fall for him, at least that’s what she tells herself.

But as she gets to know him—the man and the vampire—she starts to wonder if she can hold out . . .

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Phi Beta Bimbo by Trish Jensen 

Big blond wig. Do-me shoes. A bra that could serve as a floatation device. She’s about to take her genius IQ for a walk on the bimbo side.

Someone’s pilfering company secrets at Just Peachy, a giant cosmetics firm owned by hunky Steve Smith. When he decides to do some undercover security in disguise as “Stephanie” Smith, his sister Leah, a sociologist working on her doctorate, grabs her own undercover opportunity to prove her theory that nerds stand no chance in the world. She interviews for a low-level security job first as “Leah the super-nerd” then as “Candi Devereaux,” a stereotypical out-to-there bimbo. To her shock, security specialist Mark Colson hires both of her.

Mark isn’t fooled—Leah/Candi are obviously the same woman, a suspicious character, and quite likely the corporate thief. He’ll stay very close to her.

As for Leah, the highly unsettling and extremely irresistible Mr. Colson begins to rattle all her assumptions about what a man wants from a woman. It’s about honesty . . . unfortunately.

In the meantime, “Stephanie” has met his match in corporate rival Kate Bloom, who is determined to best the smart new woman in the company. And yet, Kate feels flustered by Stephanie’s strangely masculine appeal . . . .

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Lord of the Storm by Justine Davis (Book 1 of The Coalition Rebellion Novels)

Her every wish is his command. He lives only to serve her desires.

A warrior. A sex slave from a conquered world.

What will he do to her if she sets him free?

Shaylah Graymist, ace fighter pilot for a brutal intergalactic Coalition, is given a slave as a reward for heroism in battle. The incredibly virile slave named Wolf wears a collar which controls him completely, allowing her to make him do anything she wants. Yet Shaylah has an old-fashioned belief in love and refuses to take advantage of him. A tense friendship grows between her and Wolf, along with deep desires he refuses to admit. The Coalition destroyed his people. He won’t betray their memory.

When Shaylah returns to battle, Wolf rebels and is sold to a prison colony. She frees him, and together they journey to his home planet. As she learns more about Wolf, she begins to question her loyalty to the Coalition, and the passions between them burn out of control.

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Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark (Book 1 of The Edisto Island Mysteries)

A big city detective. A lowcountry murder.

Peace, safety, a place to grieve and heal. After her husband is murdered by the Russian mob, Boston detective Callie Jean Morgan comes home to her family’s cottage in South Carolina. There, she can keep their teenage son, Jeb, away from further threats.

But the day they arrive in Edisto Beach, Callie finds her childhood mentor and elderly neighbor murdered. Taunted by the killer, who repeatedly violates her home and threatens others in the community, Callie finds her new sanctuary has become her old nightmare. Despite warnings from the town’s handsome police chief, Callie plunges back into detective work, pursuing a sinister stranger who may have ties to her past. He’s turning a quiet paradise into a paranoid patch of sand where nobody’s safe. She’ll do whatever it takes to stop him.

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The Nightingale Bones by Ariel Swan 

Someone has been waiting a long time for Alice Towne to arrive in Hawthorne.

Two hundred years, in fact.

Trying to accept her mother’s belief that the women of the Towne family are blessed, not cursed, with supernatural abilities, twenty-seven-year old Alice leaves a disapproving Boston husband to housesit for the summer in tiny Hawthorne, a historic village famous in the 1800s for its peppermint farms and the large, herbal-essence distilleries that flourished around the Massachusetts township.

She settles into a beautiful old home with a tragic reputation. There are said to be sightings and sounds from the spirit of a young woman who hanged herself after all her children died there of illnesses in the 1900s.

But soon, Alice experiences firsthand encounters that convince her the spirit is not who people think. The truth is shocking, steeped in the town’s distillery history and its legends of a local wizard and witchcraft. As she falls in love with a local farmer whose family legacy is as tangled in the magick and the mystery as her own, Alice’s fear becomes not whether the past can be resolved . . . but whether it’s waiting to claim new victims.

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THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS
Eve Gaddy
Just One Night

THANKSGIVING TRADITIONS

BY EVE GADDY

 

One of my favorite traditions has to do with food.  Well, food and family. I usually make a big traditional southern-Texas Thanksgiving dinner.  (We also make the same meal at Christmas.  What can I say?  We like it.) I started making the dinner myself years ago when my family lived in Salt Lake City and couldn’t make it home to Texas.

 

The menu: Smoked Turkey, Cornbread Sage Dressing, Giblet Gravy, Potatoes (cooking method varies), Southern style Green Beans, Parkerhouse dinner rolls, Bing Cherry Jello salad, Cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray), pies (store bought, different varieties)

 

Over the years the menu has changed some, mostly to make life easier for me.  For instance, instead of cooking the turkey myself, which I did for a long time, we order a smoked turkey from Greenberg’s Turkeys in Tyler, Texas.  (If you’ve never had one you’re missing out.  They were named one of Oprah’s favorite things.) Talk about saving time and being much less trouble!  Not to mention, they’re really good. I also used to make a home-made apple pie but now we get them from the store.  The potatoes change.  In the past I made some form of really tasty, fattening potatoes but since I’m chronically dieting I now make my own version of mashed potatoes with skim milk and low-fat margarine.

 

All the homemade recipes came from my late mother-in-law.  She was a wonderful cook and taught me how to cook many things.  I could never have made Thanksgiving dinner without her instruction and encouragement.  I still miss being able to call and ask her questions about the process.  My gravy will never hold a candle to hers.

 

The centerpiece of the meal is the cornbread dressing.  First, I make two pans of buttermilk cornbread from scratch several days ahead.  You have to dry out the cornbread for days.  Don’t ask me why.  I do it because that’s the way my mother-in-law did it.  One reason I make two pans is because while drying out the cornbread seems to mysteriously disappear.

 

Putting all the ingredients of the dressing together prior to cooking is the fun, family part.  You see, you can’t make it without tasting to make sure there’s enough sage in it.  Although I have a general idea of how much sage to add, it’s not exact.  I, like my mother-in-law, grandmother, and mother, am the type of cook who says add a dash or pinch or a good bit, until it tastes right, or cook it until it looks done.  So we all gather around with spoons and taste and comment.  (Before you add raw eggs, of course.) Once we’re all satisfied that we have the perfect combination of salt, pepper and sage we transfer it to pans and bake it.

 

Yum.  All this writing about food has made me hungry!  Can’t wait until Thanksgiving.

Eve’s Cornbread Dressing

 

1 pan buttermilk cornbread, dried out for a couple of days

1 Cup Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing

2 Cups chopped onion

2 Cups chopped celery

3 raw eggs, beaten, added in last, after tasting

Rubbed sage, 5-6 T or to taste

Salt and Pepper to taste

Broth (from turkey if you roast it) or strong home-made chicken broth, broth from cooking giblets, canned chicken broth–always use low sodium.  I found out the hard way the regular is too salty.  I use a mix of the three, about 4 cups total.  To taste.  You want it pretty soupy but don’t forget you’ll be adding the eggs.  Finally, if it doesn’t taste quite rich enough, add some melted butter or margarine.

 

Put in pans, don’t pack down.  I use two pans, because I don’t like it really thick.  Bake at 325-350 for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

 

Home-made Buttermilk Cornbread

 

1/2 Cup flour

1 1/2 Cup Cornmeal

1 1/2 Cup buttermilk

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1/4 Cup liquid corn oil or vegetable oil

 

Mix together.  Pour into sprayed pan and bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes.

An Excerpt from Deborah Smith’s 2013 Novel, SHEPHERD’S MOON

Coming this winter: a sprawling story of romance, mystery and danger. An isolated North Carolina community is haunted by the massacre of ten prominent families in 1930. Were they vicious bootleggers or the victims of one man’s vengeful greed? A brilliant textile engineer and a disgraced ex-NFL football player must pick up the pieces of a dramatic legacy and defend it against a new generation of revenge.

Excerpt

Caillin Anna MacBride and Sean Liam Gallagher
Eire County, North Carolina
February 1930
The terrible fate about to befall my family and the others of Eire County was woven from a skein of pride as fragile as the mountain skies but as strong as steel chain. For nearly two centuries the ten founding families of our Appalachian paradise had worked, died, loved and lost, celebrated and mourned and, most of all, prospered. Eire County Scots-Irish fought and died as heroes in the Revolutionary War. They built a town, a community, and a proud way of life based on sheep and whiskey.
They were dirt poor when they walked off a ship in Philadelphia in 1735, bringing with them little besides their Presbyterian stubbornness and their heirloom skills from the old country: herding, weaving, needlework, and the making of fine liquor. They journeyed south, into the Southern highlands. They fell in love with the mountains of the colony that would become North Carolina. They established a county and named it Eire, for Ireland.
By the mid-eighteen hundreds Eire County was known for two things: the Little Finn River Whiskey Distillery and fine woven goods from our imported Irish sheep. The distillery sold our libations all over the Southern states. The bottles were beautiful, made of amber glass and stoppered with hand-carved corks. The labels were gloriously ornate, and the names poetic: Old Irish, Ram’s Head, Proud Chief.
Our women supervised vast herds of sheep, ran two wool mills to prepare the fleeces, and imported Peruvian cotton and Asian silk. They employed a network of mountain women who knitted, crocheted and wove Eire County fiber into everything from linens and lace to rugs to socks.
We carried on ancient celtic traditions through their woven patterns—the symbols handed down for generations. Birds, deer, sheep, celtic circles, celtic crosses; each family had its motif. Among our next-door neighbors, the Gallaghers, the heirloom symbol was a bound sheaf of grains; the ribbon around them swirled into itself, unbroken and eternal.
Among my family, the MacBrides, the favorite symbol was the dair, the oak, grand and sheltering, a stylized tree whose pattern took enormous skill to create. Oaks were not just sentimental choices; in the life of a whiskey clan the handmade oak barrels, usually charred just-so on the inside, meant the difference between harsh grain alcohol and bourbon whiskey. The oaks’ charred essence seeped into the new-born liquor and transformed it. A smooth drink needs two years in the oak, our elders said.
We drank from the soul of the oaks. Yes, we timbered them, and harvested their bountiful acorns to feed our sheep and pigs, but we also planted groves of new trees.
In the valley of the Little Finn, where the cold, sweet water flowed across our front pastures like a moat, broad fields of corn grew higher than a man’s head every summer. The corn was milled into flour and grits, but also for stewing as sour mash. On the banks of that pretty mountain river, the Little Finn Distillery spired a handsome bell tower into the sky; it was a grand brick-and-stone structure. When the mash was cooking in the big copper pot stills, a delicious roasted-corn aroma sifted through the valley along with the river’s silver mists.
But now the distillery was empty and shuttered. Our stand against Prohibition had edged us toward a horrifying label as lawbreakers. We hid our handsome stills in the sheep barns and the deep creek hollows. We found lucrative markets for our liquor in the gangsters’ speakeasys—many of them owned by our kin, since we often sent our young men and women to the cities for college, and they often came home with husbands and wives as well as degrees. We partnered with the Spanish mob in Florida to export our whiskey and import their rum. We married into it to seal the deal. My aunt, Maureen MacBride, was now Maureen Esperanza, married to Emil Esperanza, a kingpin of bootlegging in Tampa.
We prospered mightily. Under the houses of the ten founding families of Eire County were buried enough gold coins to run a small country. My grandfather had a personal showpiece collection begun by his great-grandfather in the seventeen hundreds. Even in nineteen thirty there were rare coins in it worth a small fortune each.
Prohibition did not ruin us. In fact, it turned us from modestly rich to very rich. We concluded that doing business with corrupt men was an act of civic rebellion, and would bear no permanent consequences, and that the smooth liquor of ambition was a righteous balm for righteous people. We continued to make liquor, and to weave wool, as if nothing would change.
We forgot that wool does not weep for injustices and bourbon does not mourn for lost souls.

AN INDECENT AMOUNT OF FUN

AN INDECENT AMOUNT OF FUN
jane-singer
JeanOkra
JeanOkra
JeanConanFest
JeanREHhome
JeanConanFest
JeanFarleyFire
JeanWASP

AN INDECENT AMOUNT OF FUN…

BY JEAN BRASHEAR

 

Eudora Welty meets Sue Monk Kidd and they lunch with Fannie Flagg“…yes, indeedy, folks, a reviewer with serious college-professor-level expertise in Southern lit actually wrote those words about The Goddess of Fried Okra—totally swoon-worthy sentiments, and don’t you think I didn’t see nice little dots swirling before my eyes just before my body hit the fainting couch. 😉

 

Given that this book is truly The Book of My Heart, being on the receiving end of such a review was (still is!) just Too. Much. Fun.

 

But then, the writing of this book was an adventure all in itself. After having been under continuous deadlines for several years, I carved out three weeks to just let myself play with a story, simply to see if I could remember what it was like to write for the sheer joy of writing, with no thought to commercial appeal or my career or anything but just…you got it: Fun. I ditched my computer and sat on my deck in the cool morning shade with a glass of murderously strong Mexican iced coffee at my side, no idea at all what I’d write, and just let the words come.

 

Next thing I knew, here arrived this woman who had lost her job, her boyfriend and her place to live, all in the same day…and what does she do? She throws everything she owns (which ain’t much, I’m tellin’ you) into her beat-up car and sets off to find the sister who raised her.

 

Except, well, her sister’s, um…dead. But Eudora “Pea” O’Brien had consulted her sister’s psychic and was on the trail of the new body her sister now inhabited. Wherever that might be.

 

I’m sure we’d all make the same choice.

 

Along the way, Pea stops to read various roadside historical markers, looking for the hand of Fate to lead her (Here’s a Girl Power marker about WWII female pilots) and picks up an odd band of companions—a starving kitten, a pregnant Goth teenager and a sexy con man trying to go straight. They encounter a gun shop owner named Glory (shop name: Guns ‘N’ Glory—natch) who is obsessed with warrior goddesses and is a big fan of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian. Glory is fond of wearing pearls with her combat boots and is a master of swordplay, something Pea decides she desperately needs to learn as she seeks to find her own strengths and make her way in the world.

 

When her car breaks down, Pea also meets the ultimate grandmother, a café owner named Lorena who is Glory’s polar opposite and who teaches Pea the art of perfect fried okra, something any Southerner would agree is both a necessity and manna from heaven.

 

So okay…this probably sounds like one weird book, huh? And how on earth did Conan the Barbarian ever come into play in my brain?

 

Beats me.;) Seriously, he’s not exactly my natural cup of tea, but let’s just say that on a road trip,  my husband and I encountered the legacy of Robert E. Howard (who was one weird and possibly seriously disturbed dude) on the back roads of Texas in connection with—yep, the Conan the Barbarian Festival (here’s the sign we encountered) which appears in the book. Ditto the Robert E. Howard homeplace, which we visited.

 

 

 

 

Sadly, there is no swordplay contest…but there should be.;) Maybe they’d let me organize the next festival?

 

 

 

 

 

Ditto, a road trip fleshed out Glory’s gun shop—in a portable building, of all things. Here’s a photo of me at Farley’s Firearms.

 

At the end of the three weeks I had to get back to work on my paying gig. I continued to write this book off and on over the next couple of years when I could take breaks from my deadlines. I wish I could say the whole process was a Ton O’Fun…but that didn’t happen until I finally ignored my agent’s urgings and the opinions in New York about how to make this woman seem logical (not her strong suit, but we Southerners are proud of our eccentric relatives) and took my book to the place I always felt would be its best home: the wonderful and amazing Belle Books.

 

The day my personal idol author, Deborah Smith, told me she loved it and wanted to buy it…well, pull out the smelling salts, is all I can say. Working with her and Debra Dixon (who created this FABULOUS cover!) in the early days of the Bell Bridge Books imprint? Folks, that much fun oughta be illegal.

 

That the book has gotten so many wonderful reviews and letters from readers since it was first published, and that readers keep asking for a sequel (tell me I’m not intimidated by THAT prospect!)…yep, definitely Too. Much. Fun.

 

A thoroughly indecent amount of fun. For which I am now and forever grateful. Vive les Belles!

 

 

The Goddess of Fried Okra by Jean Brashear is today’s Amazon Kindle Daily Deal for only $1.99!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT MATTERS

WHAT MATTERS

WHAT MATTERS

by Trish Jensen

There isn’t a week that goes by when I’m not asked to give a workshop, do a book signing, send someone in Armenia  a book, write a blog, whatever.

I’m shy, (seriously!)  so I turn down most workshops, no way I’m doing a book  signing, as no one will show up, can’t afford the book to Armenia, but I can write a blog and talk about what matters.

For a few months my mother has been bugging me to come chat with her book club. The problem was, no one was interested in buying my books, they wanted me to donate them, or wanted them from a library. Well, that posed a problem, as I didn’t have enough books to donate to at least twenty women , and I couldn’t afford to buy them all books, either. It was also kind of irritating that they expected me to do those things when I really wasn’t doing cartwheels at the thought of going to this chat in the first place.

But, you know, it was my MOTHER. And she wanted me to do this so much. So we compromised. I gave her about 8 or so books, all different, and then we set a time, a few months in the future, so they’d all have time to read and pass on books. So they didn’t all read the same books, but at least they all read one of my books.

One other glitch. The woman who runs the book club is very, VERY religious. Trust me, I have nothing against that, as my critique partner is, also, and she writes some of the sexiest books on the shelves. But this woman wasn’t sure she wanted a :::gasp::: writer who has love scenes visiting.

My mother, ever the bulldog, loaned her my LEAST sexiest book, and she said okay, even though it was very racy. Brace yourself, lady. You haven’t seen anything yet. And I don’t even WRITE sexy, in my opinion. I write sexual tension between two people who so do NOT want to be attracted to each other.

But the day came, and I had to face all of these women and discuss WHY I write what I write, and what I love about this job.

I’m guessing it went really well. My mother said she was “busting her buttons” with pride. And I found out later that night that my dad stood outside listening. And he was proud, too.

I received a lot of feedback from those who attended, and who want me to come back, and that’s all well and good, and I’m glad.

But making my parents proud? THAT’S what mattered.