Blog

Thanksgiving Author Spotlight: Kathleen Eagle

Thanksgiving Author Spotlight: Kathleen Eagle

Serving Up Holiday Cheer

by Kathleen Eagle

 

Isn’t it strange that when you’re a kid it takes forever for the holidays to roll around from one calendar to the next, but the older you get, the faster they roll? And the more holiday memories you collect, the more nostalgic you become. You’re driving down the road and you hear the first few notes of your father’s favorite Christmas song. You get all misty. The road better not be the interstate–or the turnpike where I grew up–because misty can turn to waterworks in a hurry, and windshield wipers don’t do anything for eyeballs. When you’re a child, it’s all about anticipation. For an adult, memories become part of the joy. We recreate the look and the sound and the scent of holiday magic the soft, glowing way we remember it and the way we hope it will be for our children and our children’s children.

Which is why we tell stories. We save up, and we shop. We clean, and we cook. We decorate, and we practice our songs and our plays. But without the stories, these traditions won’t be remembered. The storyteller’s gift is precious. During the holidays, it is memory.

THE SHARING SPOON is a collection of three novellas. They’re romantic, of course, and the characters are fictitious, but they’re built on some of my memories. “The Wolf and the Lamb” is a Western. I’ve loved Westerns since I was a child, and guess what: So has my cowboy. One of our theme songs could be “My Baby Loves the Western Movies.” (I guess I’m dating myself, but that’s okay. Memories are never out of date.)  In “The Twelfth Night” some of my Lakota husband’s childhood memories come into play. And in “The Sharing Spoon“–a contemporary Thanksgiving tale–memories of our move to Minnesota helped me create a fun and fanciful story using the American Indian magnet school that recruited my husband. True story: a family walked into the office, and the dad slapped the book that contained the original version of “The Sharing Spoon” on the counter. “Is this the school in this book?” he asked. The secretary carefully, cautiously explained that the story was fiction. “But the author’s husband is a teacher here,” she said. “Sign my kids up,” was the man’s response. The secretary herself told me this story, and she’s sticking to it. Sweet, huh?

I hope you’ll grab “The Sharing Spoon” while it’s on sale. I’ve heard from several readers who say that re-reading it has become an annual tradition for them. That, too. is as sweet as hot chocolate with a peppermint stirring stick. May your holidays taste even sweeter!

 

Make your Thanksgiving sweet! Pick up THE SHARING SPOON today!

Halloween Short from Howard Odentz

What_We_Kill-200x300x72
Snow
Dead (A Lot)

Picture Perfect Meadowfield – 1987

by Howard Odentz

Thirteen-year-old Garrett McCarthy pumps the pedals on his ten-speed bike as he glides through the darkened neighborhoods of bucolic Meadowfield, Massachusetts. He weaves in and out of the shadows cast by street lights, whistling a tune that’s been stuck in his head all day.
It happens to be a song by The Talking Heads released four years prior, but Garrett doesn’t know that. He just thinks it’s strangely appropriate.

His parents aren’t home. Most nights Garrett is left alone. His mother, Maggie, is overly involved in town politics. His father, Gene, works late far too often, or at least that’s what he tells his family.

Garrett’s absentee parents suit him just fine. Being alone gives him breathing room. It also gives him time to work on his hobby, the one that he has been perfecting for a while now but keeps to himself.

Garrett McCarthy likes to watch things burn.

He likes it better than television, and he even likes it better than perusing the collection of old Hustlers that his father keeps stored in plastic bins underneath the basement stairs, supposedly hidden within stacks of Life Magazines.

There’s something about the erratic dance of flames that stokes Garrett’s inner furnace and ignites his passion. Simply put, watching white, hot death devour everything in its path floats his boat.

Most of Garrett’s fires have been small thus far, causing no real damage other than to things that don’t matter. Certainly no one has been hurt in his flames. Still, he is acutely aware that when the heat and light engulf everything and he watches, compelled and engrossed, he is missing something crucial and desired.

He longs to hear what will happen when fire and flesh meet. He imagines there will be frantic squeals like those that permeate a slaughter house when the other pigs realize that they might be next. He wants to relish the sound of screams—the popping of flesh—the crackling of hair.

That’s why tonight Garrett is on a mission. He wants to burn something big.

Last month’s torching of the attendant’s shack by the entrance to the town dump at the end of Miller Road was less than fulfilling.  So was the incineration of Father McQueen’s old Cadillac.

Garrett found the Father’s car in front of the park entrance to Prince Richard’s Maze. Everyone knows why middle-aged men skulk in the Maze at night but no one ever broaches the subject. Garrett lit up the Cadillac while the father was getting busy elsewhere, but the gas tank didn’t blow.

That’s why tonight Garrett McCarthy is after something much, much bigger. There’s a demon coiling inside his belly, demanding to be fed, and Garrett is acutely aware it can no longer survive on meager half-meals. He now must offer it a banquet of heat because that’s the only thing that will sate its ever growing appetite.

As Garrett meanders through the dark streets, riding his bike with no hands and a pack full of fixings on his back, he decides that his initial target, Journey’s End Senior Care, is too big and too well built for arson. Besides, he’s almost positive that there are sprinklers inside that will be activated the moment any smoke is detected.

His mind wanders to a new target—a disheveled old bungalow in a bleak corner of town, two streets in from the Connecticut border. A hundred years ago, the ramshackle eyesore belonged to a woman named Ma Irish who delivered babies and sold pickled eggs from her living room.

An unseemly family lives there now. They display rusted-out cars on cinder blocks in the front yard, and keep more than one pit bull chained in the back. People talk about how such a family doesn’t belong in a community like Meadowfield. Garrett has no opinion about that. However, he does think Ma Irish’s house is a bit of a town fixture. Removing that piece of local history may leave a hole better served un-dug.

Ultimately, Garrett decides on a different target. It is one he has been thinking about for a while now. Folks in Meadowfield will be sad to see it burn because, for some reason that Garrett can’t fathom, most people find fire tragic.

Still, they won’t be too sad.

He leans forward as he pedals, grabbing his handle bars and steering his bicycle this way and that before finally turning onto Sycamore Avenue. There is an old two-story colonial at the dead end, tucked up against the woods, with a handicapped ramp that zig-zags up to the porch.

A very small sign in front read ‘Happy Valley Group Home’ which sounds way cheerier than what lives inside.

The Happy Valley Group Home houses six developmentally delayed teenagers and two full-time staff. Garrett doesn’t know any of them by name, but he has seen the sad, little group at Cinema X before. Some are in wheel chairs and others stand quietly by the ticket taker with their hands on each other’s shoulders so they won’t get lost. After all, there is an ocean of ways one can disappear between the concession stand and the bathrooms.

Meadowfield will mourn the loss of the Happy Valley Group Home, but not really, and when the old colonial and those inside are nothing more than blackened ash, some will even breathe a sigh of relief that ‘those kind of people’ are no longer part of the fabric of town.

Although Garrett McCarthy doesn’t exactly agree with such a harsh sentiment, in some perverted way, he thinks dispatching the building and those inside is somehow performing a kindness. At least that’s what he keeps telling himself as he glides down Sycamore, ever wary that no one is outside in the darkness to see him

At the end of Sycamore, just past the Happy Valley Group Home, Garrett gets off of his bicycle and pushes it twenty feet into the woods.

There, he pulls his back pack off of his shoulder, unzips it and pulls out everything he will need to feed his glitch, even though he doesn’t think of pyromania as a glitch at all.

He thinks of it as magic.

After he gathers together a glass jar full of gasoline, newspaper, and wooden matches that he favors over a lighter, he pushes through the thick foliage until he is standing right inside the tree line. There, he studies the house from the shadows, poking and prodding at it with his deranged mind, seeking the perfect spot to set a fire.

His inner demon offers up a multitude of solutions.

‘Underneath the porch’, it whispers.

No.

‘The back of the carport,’ it prods.

No.

‘The basement.’

Yes.

Garrett’s eyes follow the side of the house to the backyard. There he spies a cobblestone patio with patches of weeds growing through the crisscrossed pattern between the stones, and a metal hatchway.

The patio’s disheveled nature gives Garrett’s inner demon fuel to urge him on.

‘The Happy Valley Group Home is so untidy,’ the demon says. ‘Cleanse it.’

Garrett’s eyes sparkle. Fire always rises, so starting a blaze in the basement might be the perfect way to create a tower of flames so tall that it can be seen from as far away as Skinner Mountain. He smiles, because someday he knows that he will also burn The Summit House on top of Skinner to the ground, hopefully while there is an event going on inside, like a wedding or a sweet sixteen party.

Thoughts of puffy dresses combusting makes his tongue wet. Garrett licks his lips and a slick of saliva drips down his chin.

‘Do it now,’ hisses his demon from deep inside his belly. ‘Feed me. Feed me. Feed me.’

Garrett crouches down low and quickly runs to the side of the house. There is a window there with a partially pulled shade. Slowly, with his fingers splayed and his heart pounding, he stands until just the top of his head and his eyes are over the windowsill.

Inside, some of the residents of the Happy Valley Group Home are watching children’s puppets on television, however, they seem as though they aren’t watching the dancing screen at all.

A boy with milky eyes, confined to a wheel chair, is playing air piano with weirdly jointed fingers that look better suited to a skeleton.

Another has his eyes half-lidded and his chin on his chest.

A third boy looks all wrong, like he’s been drawn by a third grader with poor anatomical skills. His head is misshapen and lopsided.

The three of them sitting there, dull and dim-witted, make Garrett a little angry.

They all look so off that he’s not even sure that they will scream when the flames begin shooting through the wooden floor. The residents of the Happy Valley Group Home might just stare at the fire with their vacant manatee eyes and not do anything, even when the deadly flower finally reaches them—searing their skin—making it bubble and burn.

‘Oh, they’ll feel it,’ whispers his inner demon. ‘They’ll feel it but good.’

A pleasant chill runs up Garrett’s back as he agrees with the monster inside. A fire will surely coax the residents of the Happy Valley Group Home out of their stupor.

That’s what fire does.

Without hesitating, he sprints to the back of the house and across the weed-filled patio to the metal hatchway.

Garrett holds his breath as he reaches for the handle, praying that it isn’t locked. Thankfully, his prayers are answered. He pulls open one side and gingerly descends the wooden stair case while holding the hatch open, then quietly lowers it back into place so no one will know that he’s there.

The basement is dark, but Garrett McCarthy is used to the dark. He stands still for several minutes, waiting for his eyes to adjust. He knows they eventually will.

Once they do, he sees shadows of boxes, storage containers, several wheelchairs and a workbench. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a chubby, unscented votive he has taken from his mother’s holiday closet. Then he strikes a wooden match and lights the candle. Immediately, the rest of the basement turns color and he can see. There’s a washing machine and a dryer against the far wall. There’s also an extra refrigerator and a freezer chest. Scanning the room, he sees separate cage-cubbies like in the nether regions of an apartment building, each with a name on it and a padlock. They appear to be filled with suitcases and trunks.

Garrett rightly guesses that these are the storage areas for each of the residents. It’s where parents have dumped the belongings of their family embarrassments, relieved that their burdens are someone else’s problem now and they can finally forget.

Garrett McCarthy smiles to himself. Once he has cremated the Happy Valley Group Home, the people of Meadowfield, Massachusetts, will forget, too. He knows he’s right to have chosen here. It’s an easy target. He can’t wait until he is back in the woods, watching the flames reach higher and higher until the whole place is blazing in glorious death.

Garrett walks across the room and puts the candle down on top of the freezer chest. Then he quickly surveys the rest of the basement to find exactly the right spot to start his work. Above him he hears the television blaring away and maybe the creak of a wheel chair slowly rocking back and forth.

He smiles again as he unscrews his jar of gasoline and splashes the floor with the acrid liquid. When he’s through, he bunches up wads of newspaper and wets them with what’s left in the jar, stuffing clumps between cardboard boxes and other things that look like they will burn easily.

Finally, with his heart pounding in his chest out of sheer anticipation, he strikes a match and drops it to the floor.

Immediately fire erupts and races across the cellar, hitting wet newspaper as it goes. Each damp pile bursts into life in front of Garrett’s gleeful eyes. Scant seconds after the fire begins, an alarm pierces through the basement so loudly that Garrett hears someone scream up above and footsteps running through the house.

‘Excellent,’ hisses his demon. ‘More.’

Garrett, however, is transfixed. He can’t help but watch his newborn masterpiece devour everything in its path, regardless of the alarm and regardless of the movement over his head. His inner demon devours each image alongside him as fire ignites wood and debris. Little beads of sweat start to pop out on his forehead.

Garrett pays no heed to anything but the flames and the delicious screams of Happy Valley panic in the rooms above.

Soon, very soon, the heat starts becoming too much for Garrett and he knows he has to leave. Reluctantly, he backs away from the flames and returns to the hatchway stairs, the alarm blaring, and the good residents up above panicking.

Unfortunately, the hatchway door is locked. He doesn’t know how and he doesn’t know why.

If he were older and smarter he would have studied up on safety precautions for residential facilities such as the one he is now burning. In doing so, he would have learned that all doorways and windows in places like the Happy Valley Group Home automatically lock from the inside to keep the residents from wandering away, or that the trained staff makes sure that everyone is out of the house and on the front lawn in less than a minute after an alarm is set off.

Unfortunately still, the path to the basement stairs leading to the first floor is now blocked with flames, and Garrett can’t exit that way either.

He can’t exit at all.

So while the residents of the Happy Valley Group Home watch their colonial go up in flames, one still nodding and another playing air piano, no one hears the screams of a fourteen-year-old boy locked in the basement, his skin crackling and splitting and his clothing melting onto his body.

No one that is, save for the hungry creature that Garrett McCarthy carries around in his gut.

‘Delicious,’ it wails. ‘Scrumptious. Give me more…more…mo…’


Read more of Howard Odentz’s work today!


Bloody Bloody Apple is on sale for $0.99 until October 31st!

Author Spotlight: Lora Lee

Author Spotlight: Lora Lee
New Pic Nov 2014
Bringing in the Thieves

Reflections From My Front Porch

by Lora Lee

Hey there, y’all! Come on up and sit a spell on my front porch. It’s a lovely Fall afternoon, so relax in that rocker over there and let’s visit.

Did you know there’s a Clergy Appreciation Day? You didn’t? Neither did I. I even checked my calendar. Nothing. Zip. Nada. However, I trust the Bell Bridge marketing department when they tell me there is such a day. After all, they’re pretty smart about that sort of thing.

Now, if any of y’all have read Bringing in the Thieves, my cozy mystery in the Joyful Noise Mysteries, you know that the main character is a preacher’s daughter. Yep, Frankie Lou is a PK and her halo is in dire need of polishing. Seems she didn’t appreciate her clergyman father during her rebellious teen years. Hmmm. I wouldn’t know anything about that.

What’s that you ask? Oh, of course, I’m a PK. Always have been, but I’m not at all like Frankie Lou, bless her heart. After all, I’m a lot older and I know better. Life when I was growing up was different for a PK. Frankie Lou’s modern day problems were . . . well, you can read all about her in the book. I’ll give you a brief inside look into my own childhood days and you can draw your own conclusions.

There was one period during WWII when daddy was a Captain and chaplain in the US ARMY that I remember well. That was a worrisome time ‘cause my big brother was in the US NAVY somewhere out in the Pacific during that time, too. Momma shed a lot of tears while both of them were gone.

The time came when Momma and I were able to move where Daddy was stationed. That meant attending a new school where I didn’t know a soul. Can’t say I liked fourth grade that year.

Daddy was so handsome in his uniform. I felt pretty special when we ate in the mess hall with the other officers. But one Thanksgiving, Daddy wanted us to eat dinner with the enlisted men. Momma agreed so that’s what we did. Daddy loved those young men like his own son and did his best to prepare them for what they might be facing if they were sent overseas. I’m pretty sure those men appreciated the clergy because the chapel was always filled every Sunday.

I only had eleven years to appreciate my clergyman father. I didn’t even appreciate God the day Daddy died, but through the years, Momma kept me on the straight and narrow with her unconditional love. My appreciation of the clergy has grown as I’ve matured. And believe it or not, God never gave up on me, either.

Thanks for visiting on the front porch with me today. Y’all come back, ya’ hear.

Lora Lee

 

Pick up Bringing in the Thieves, the first in the Joyful Noise Mysteries, today for only $1.99!

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: Howard Odentz

Author Spotlight: Howard Odentz

LOOK!!! A Highland Coo!!!


I just came home from a 10-day tour of Scotland. The whole country is beautifully bleak, with rolling hills in the lowlands and towering mountains in the highlands. By a very thin margin, the national asset is arguably the sheep or the highland cow (pronounced coo). The people are friendly. The shops are literally  bursting with tartan, and everywhere you look the ground is covered with heather, which our kilt-clad guide, Ian, described as a ‘disappointing brown’ this time of year.

It’s cold there, which the New Englander in me loves. The history is filled with blood, which the horror writer in me adores.

Still, I have a beef with Scotland, and it’s a big beef, roughly the same size as a shaggy highland coo.

My beef is Nessie.

I’ve literally spent my whole life dreaming of the day that I would stand on the dark shores of Loch Ness and look off in the distance, camera at the ready, to see Nessie rise from the depths in all her prehistoric splendor, just so I could get a selfie with her monstrous, slimy self.

The thing is . . . the locals don’t actually believe that Nessie exists.

Wait, what?

Oh sure, there are little stuffed Nessies at all the gift shops, and salt and pepper shakers shaped like a head and a hump. What’s more, there’s even a place called Nessieland on the outskirts of Inverness, with all the seriousness of the It’s a Small World attraction at Disney. Just the for record, the Disney attraction is far creepier and you all know what I think about creepy kids (See Little Killers A to Z among my recent releases).

Our portly guide on our Loch Ness boat ride giggled when he pointed out the tiny trailer across the loch where the resident crazy has lived for the last twenty-five years, scanning the waters daily for signs of the monster. He practically admitted that most locals cross the street when they spy him because he also believes in Bigfoot, aliens, and the fact that the majority of folks in the US government are really giant lizards intent on taking over the world.

Great. Just great. Go ahead and shatter my entire world view.

I suppose that witches, ghosts, vampires, and intelligent politicians are all fantasies, too?

I’m crushed, Scotland. I guess there’s nothing left for me to do but throw away all my old beliefs and maybe switch to writing romance novels. That, or shore up the walls inside my head and hold fast to the inarguable fact that Nessie is really down there in the depths somewhere waiting for that one person who will get that perfect shot of her.

I can be that person. Why not? I’m booking a trip back to Scotland soon and I’m going to rent a tiny, stucco bungalow near that equally tiny trailer across the Loch. Maybe the man who lives there will give me pointers on where to stalk the waters with my camera ready.

After all, someone has to win the Lottery. Why not me?

 

Pick up Little Killers A-Z today for just $0.99! This deal will only last until the 15th!

Bad things come in small packages . . .

EPIC Award finalist Howard Odentz has penned twenty-six disturbingly fascinating horror stories about the youngest predators among us.

From Andy and Boris to Yuri and Zina, this eclectic anthology is filled, A to Z, with psychopaths, monsters, and murderers!

So turn on the lights and huddle under your blankets because murder isn’t just for grown-ups anymore. Come meet our gallery of little killers.

After all, they’re dying to meet you!

 

 

About Howard Odentz:

Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work.

Author Spotlight: A Note from Anthony Francis

Author Spotlight: A Note from Anthony Francis
Liquid Fire

Keeping it Real


Good news! Dakota Frost, Book 3, LIQUID FIRE, is on sale right now on Kindle—but if that’s not enough to tempt you, I wanted to let you know that there’s more to Dakota Frost than magic tattoos, teenage weretigers, political vampires, battling wizards, and the hatching of dragons!

The Dakota Frost series isn’t just an urban fantasy: it’s also a slice of real life. From the very beginning, I wanted to create the feeling of a real world, not the experience of reading a stage play in prose. That’s why I created the series as a “period piece” set in Atlanta in 2006—the last time I lived in Atlanta for any extended period.

When I create each new book, I dig into the history and locations, trying to set the story in real places I’ve been and to flesh out the story around real events. In FROST MOON, I used Atlanta’s counterculture mecca, Little Five Points, as a backdrop for the action, and the upcoming midterm elections as texture for my political heroine.

In the sequel, BLOOD ROCK, I had to create a wholly unreal place—the backwoods Georgia town of Blood Rock, based on that giant granite boulder, Stone Mountain. I drove out to Stone Mountain, Georgia, hiked through the park, navigated through nearby neighborhoods, and filled it with my experiences of small town life.

But for the third book, LIQUID FIRE, I wanted to do more. I had since moved to the Bay Area, and discovered “restaurants for vampires” like the dark red curtained Asia de Cuba in San Francisco and the quirky Nola restaurant in Palo Alto and all its nearby alleyways. I walked the streets and took extensive pictures for the Battle of Union Square, incorporating real features like the giant heart statue at its corner.

One of my favorite sequences is a diversion with magical alchemist Professor Narayan Devenger and the ensuing battle outside the Stanford Bookstore. A very real and creepy building with a medieval looking tower helped set the direction for the book; a fountain outside the bookstore became a setting for great action.

For the climax, however, I wanted something more, and I already had something special in mind: Maui. I had visited Maui for work and had spent an afternoon climbing through its mountains and forests, which impressed me far more than its beaches, which I hardly visited. And a volcano sparks the imagination. So for the climax of LIQUID FIRE … well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

So if you want to catch up with magical tattooist Dakota Frost, her weretiger daughter Cinnamon Frost, or just want to experience the nooks and crannies of Atlanta, the Bay Area and Maui as seen through the eyes of an urban fantasist, check out LIQUID FIRE!

-Anthony

 

Pick up the rest of Anthony Francis’s titles from Bell Bridge Books!

The Skindancer Series: Books One and Two

Jeremiah Willstone: Book One

Author Spotlight: Shereen Vedam

Author Spotlight: Shereen Vedam
A Devilish Slumber
Sleeping Beauty (Devilish Slumber) ad

Sleeping Beauty in Regency London?


A Devilish Slumber is Book 1 of The Rue Alliance series. Each of these three fairytale-inspired Regency romances have a paranormal twist.

What inspired the first book? It is a given that I love fairy tales, but I have always been particularly fascinated by Sleeping Beauty.

What woman isn’t touched by the romantic concept of a kiss from her true love bringing her back to life? And to have it happen in Jane Austen’s Regency London was a story I couldn’t resist telling.

The trick with re-making a classic love story, however, is to instill a fresh perspective on an age-old tale. So, in A Devilish Slumber, I aimed for a unique take on what first startles awake this beauty, and what perils she will face once she is completely present in her sinister new world.

As for the resident villain, Maleficent, she goes by a different name. But then, evil often wears many different faces. And it certainly does in this shape shifter book, in which people can, literally, magically, change how they appear.

The hero in A Devilish Slumber is a spy and so has a fine hand at the art of lying himself. But Sir Phillip Jones’s most difficult task won’t be simply winning the heroine’s heart, which will prove difficult enough. No, he must also uncover who she really is, in this switched identity story that will keep him on his toes to the very last page.

Excerpt from A Devilish Slumber

“You do not trust me.”

The hurt in her eyes struck him like a blow, and he desperately sought his fast-retreating rage. “Have you given me reason to trust you, Rose? You would not confide in me about that note.”

“Oh, that note again!”

“You made an assignation. You could have been killed.”

“Why should I confide in you? It has been two years, eleven months and ten days since you abandoned me.” She clamped her mouth shut as if afraid she had said too much.

Indeed she had. As swiftly as his fury had crowded in, now joy took possession of his soul. She had counted the days he had been away. That knowledge offered so many delicious prizes, but her swollen eyes and flushed cheeks drew his gaze and concern claimed victory.

She had been crying.

He walked closer and caressed her hot cheek. “I have missed you, too.”

She slapped his hands away. “I did not lie about my affections, sir. Not everyone uses people and then discards them. That set of behavior is entirely yours.”

He tipped her face up, wanting to kiss her, to tell her that he loved her, and had never stopped. “Rose . . .”

Her lips thinned, suggesting any well-thought-out words would fall on deaf ears.

She had closed herself off to his explanations and excuses. Yet, that counting of days suggested his betrayal of her trust had not completely destroyed her love. As did her earlier jealousy of Miss Warwick. So, what he had not had the wherewithal to do three years ago on their parting, tonight he showed no hesitation.

He drew her to him. Her startled green eyes grew wide and her mouth opened, no doubt to argue with him. He stole that breath in a kiss. To his shock, at his gentlest persuasion, she invited him closer. Her lips tasted of syrup and parted like a cloud until his impromptu kiss became wildly intimate plunder.

He tugged her tighter, his hands exploring the luscious woman she had become. At their every touch point, his skin electrified while his pulse hammered in delight and sent his emotions spinning.

Her eyes shut tight, Rose moaned in approval and shuddered within his hold.

The soft knock might as well have been the thunder of Thor’s hammer.

Rose whirled away, presenting her exquisite back while she readjusted her gown that looked half undone with ribbons hanging loose. Had he done that?

About Shereen Vedam

Once upon a time, Shereen Vedam read fantasy and romance novels to entertain herself. Now she writes heartwarming tales braided with threads of magic and love and mystery elements woven in for good measure. She’s a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily-ever-after endings. If her stories whisk you away to a different realm for a few hours, then Shereen will have achieved one of her life goals.

 

Pick up the rest of Shereen Vedam’s titles from ImaJinn Books!

The Rue Alliance – Books Two and Three

A Beastly Scandal

 

Author Spotlight: Diana Pharaoh Francis

Whisper of Shadows is the third book in my Diamond City Magic series. If you haven’t had a chance to look at them, they can be summed as:

In a world of diamonds, drugs, magical mafias, one woman must come out of the shadows, risking her life and even her soul, in order to protect her family and the man she loves.

Riley is the woman in the above description. She’s lived her whole live under the radar. She’s got a magical talent that is highly sought after by the mafia, the government, and anybody who’s every needed to find someone. She lives hand to mouth, taking small jobs and pretending to be a hack, while secretly using her talent to find kidnapped children.

Price is a cop. His brother runs one of the local mafias and Price does jobs for him sometimes. That connection alone makes believe he’s as corrupt as every other cop on the take–which is most of them. Riley’s been anonymously reporting the found children to him as in fact, he’s the least corrupt cop she’s every encountered.

She makes of point of trying not to let him notice her, but finds herself working with him, despite her best judgement. Their relationship is rocky. She’s been taught not to trust anybody, but especially cops and people associated with the magical mob. She frustrates Price because he knows she’s keeping secrets and he’s sure they could get her killed, and he desperately needs her help. He’s put between a rock and a hard place when he promises to protect Riley, and then his mafia king-pin brother demands that Price turn Riley over to him.

What I like about their relationship is that it’s based on a real appreciation and liking for one another. Price is alpha, but he’s not so alpha that he doesn’t realize he has to keep his autocratic tendencies under control if he wants to keep Riley in his life. She’s got a lot issues in her past that are coming back to haunt her–her mother’s murder and her father’s disappearance ten years later. She close to her step-mother and siblings, as well as a few friends, but she’s also a loner with a tendency to hold everybody at arm’s length.

In writing about these two didn’t want a lot of fights about stupid or predictable things. A lot of their difficulties have to do with how each of them work through their own troubled feelings. They both have to watch each other walk into danger (or run, as the case may be). They both have to make sacrifices and compromises to be together. They also have to figure out how to communicate with each other. Both have a habit of secrecy that that’s hard to overcome.

I like writing about Price and Riley. I like seeing their relationship grow and deepen. I like that their problems are natural and that a simple conversation doesn’t solve them. They take work and hard choices.

If you get a chance to pick up the Diamond City books about Riley and Price, I hope you enjoy and feel free to visit my website and drop me a line and tell me what you think: www.dianapfrancis.com  I’d love to hear from you.
 

About the Author:

Diana Pharaoh Francis is the acclaimed author of a dozen novels of fantasy and urban fantasy. Her books have been nominated for the Mary Roberts Rinehart Award and RT’s Best Urban Fantasy.Whisper of Shadows is the third book in her exciting new urban fantasy series–The Diamond City Magic Novels.

Author Spotlight: Lina Gardiner

Author Spotlight: Lina Gardiner
Grave New Day

Writing a series about vampires can be a challenge, especially since the goal of any writer is to be fresh and come up with a new twist on a subject that’s been written about for centuries.  That’s exactly what I was thinking when I came up with the idea that my heroine, Jess Vandermire, would be a vampire cop in New York City and she’d hunt her own kind.  Jess’s baby brother, in his seventies, would be a Catholic priest and he’d partially save her soul, giving her the tiniest advantage over the darker vampires who had no control over their blood thirst.  How’s that for angst? Added to that, Jess can no longer practice her faith. That’s how the Jess Vandermire series started and has evolved over seven books, three of which I wrote last year. (Coming soon to ImaJinn Books!).

I’m pleased to tell Jess’s fans that there is a revelation and twist in each of the next three books that might surprise . . . AND WILL DEFINITELY SHOCK . . .  followers of the series. 🙂 Of course, the love of Jess’s “life”, John Brittain, plays an integral part of what happens in the new books, as well.

All this to say, there will be surprises coming in the series.  Big surprises!  Hope to hear from you.

 

Grave New Day is on sale now through March 15th for just $0.99! Don’t miss this great deal!

Lina Gardiner

www.linagardiner.com

About the Author:

Lina Gardiner, award-winning author of the Jess Vandermire Vampire Hunter Series, has writing in her blood.

 

Lina’s first book was published in 2007.  At every point along the way—before 2007 and since—she enjoys the daily routines of being an author: from conceiving an idea to writing and revising, from networking with other authors to attending workshops and learning sessions and, of course, holding that bright and shiny, newly published book in her hands—always the best experience ever.

Being a writer is a dream come true for Lina, but the friendships she’s forged with fellow authors and readers are the main perks.  Those friendships make that solitary job a richer and more rewarding experience.

Lina belongs to several writers’ groups and has served as a board member and in several chapter positions.

On the home front, Lina Lives in New Brunswick, Canada, a hot spot for legendary ghosts, tall tales and odd happenings, which probably add to her love of a good mystery. The spooky stories her grandfather told his grandchildren in the “parlor” when their grandmother wasn’t paying attention also sparked the wonders of imagination and a love of storytelling.

Author Spotlight: Jake Bible

Author Spotlight: Jake Bible

I write fast.

My career is built on being able to crank out a novel a month. Yes, you read that correctly, a novel a month.

Is this a good thing? Well, it sure helps pay the bills.

Are the novels any good? My fans and readers seem to like them and the reviews tend to back that enthusiasm up.

Can they be better? Ah. There’s the rub. Can they be better…

The quick answer: yes.

The long answer: of course, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the timeframe in which I write those novels.

You see, even if I was given a year to complete a novel, I’d probably still write it in four weeks. That’s my style, that’s my groove.

That’s where the editor comes in.

When I finished Stone Cold Bastards and turned it in, I thought I was done. The other publisher I work with would have put the manuscript through some rigorous proofreading for typos and grammar and all that jazz, but they would have trusted that the story itself was solid and off it would go to the printer and to the ebook formatting elves. Nothing wrong with that. I write tight, so I’m comfortable with a quick turnaround.

Except every manuscript can be improved upon and SCB was certainly one of those manuscripts. I know, I know, how can you improve on a novel about a ragtag team of misfit gargoyles tasked with protecting the last of humanity from the demon-possessed hordes that have taken over the world? I know, right? That’s perfection in a nutshell.

But SCB needed tweaks. The characters needed better motivation. They needed to care. They needed to want to survive and/or help others survive. They had distinct personalities, yes, but so what? That’s where the editor steps in and helps turn a good novel into a great novel.

I fixed those characters. I made them care about others and about themselves. And in doing so, I made the reader care about them too. I wouldn’t have seen that flaw if it wasn’t for that extra editing. I would have moved on to the next novel and forgotten all about SCB. But the skill and experience of Bell Bridge Books, forced me to take another look at the manuscript. And another. And another. Until it was just right. Until it was the novel it was supposed to be, not just the novel I turned in.

In these days of self-publishing and the race to get novels to market, I think many writers forget the value of a good editor. For me, I never knew the value until I experienced it. Now I’m spoiled.

Yes, I’ll still write fast. I won’t deviate from my novel a month pace because that’s the writer I am. But it makes things easier, it takes a little bit of the load off my shoulders, knowing that the novel I produce at the end of that month can still be made better and I don’t have to go about that task alone.

All thanks to the editor.

 

About the Author:

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