What would October be without Halloween treats? Here are three, tried and true, really easy recipes. And, they are sooo good! The first incorporates America's favorite cookie. Yes, even ghosts love Oreos!
2 doz Oreo cookies
3-4 oz softened cream cheese
7 oz. white candy coating
1 1/4 tsp shortening
mini chocolate chips or M&Ms
Chop cookies in blender until coarse crumble stage. Add cream cheese, a little at a time.
Form mixture into 25-30 ghosts (shaped like candy kisses).
Melt chopped candy coating; add shortening. Coat each "ghost" by pouring coating over them with a spoon.
Add mini chocolate chips or M&M's for eyes.
(Same recipe can be used at Christmas for trees with green coating.)
Never Fail Popcorn Balls (Especially fun, since it allows you to get your hands all gooey!)
1 c sugar
1/3 c white syrup
1/3 c water
1/4 c butter or margarine
Boil the above until a soft ball forms if you drop a tiny amount in cold water. About 270 on your candy thermometer. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla. Pour mixture over 2 quarts of freshly popped corn. Butter hands and shape into balls. Makes about 12 medium-sized balls. (Now lick your fingers. Yum, good!)
If you want something even easier, the last one is a definite crowd pleaser, home or work. What's that? You say you're a minimalist? No problem. You can limit your Halloween mix to the first two ingredients. Perfecto!
Halloween Trail Mix
Mix the following in any proportions you like, although the candy corn and peanuts should be the basis of this sweet treat.
Candy corn - regular and chocolate
White yogurt covered raisins
Sunflower seed hearts
Mix and enjoy!
Any readers have special treats you're willing to share?
Greetings on another beautiful fall day!!
Our guest author this week is suspense/mystery writer and handwriting expert, Sheila Lowe. Nice to have you with us, Sheila. What may I get you to drink?
SHEILA: I am a tea drinker—preferably Yorkshire Gold, which is nice and strong (I am a Brit, after all), with heavy whipping cream (less carbs than milk) and 3 lumps of sugar.
Ally: Not a problem. My magic pot can make it just the way you want. While I pour our tea and coffee, please introduce yourself to readers.
The mother of a tattoo artist and a rock star, Sheila lives in Southern California with Lexie the Very Bad (sometimes Evil) Cat, where she writes the award-winning Forensic Handwriting series. Like her fictional character Claudia Rose, she’s a real-life forensic handwriting expert who testifies in court cases. Sheila writes "medium boiled," books (not cozies). She puts ordinary people into extraordinary circumstances and makes them squirm. She also writes non-fiction books about handwriting: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, and Handwriting Analyzer software.
Something unique that isn't in your bio: "As the mother of a murder/suicide victim I spent some time and energy with Women Against Gun Violence, educating parents of small children in inner city schools about gun safety." (Ally comment: Thank you for sharing your time with others.)
www.claudiaroseseries.com (fiction works)
Ally: Talk about the unusual career you share with your main character, Claudia Rose. How did you become interested in handwriting analysis? How did you learn the skill? How and when is it most often used?
SHEILA: I first learned about handwriting analysis in 1967 when my boyfriend’s mother analyzed my handwriting. Instantly intrigued by what she now knew about me, I spent the next ten years reading everything I could find on the subject. I took courses and eventually became certified as a graphologist, then in 1985, a court-qualified handwriting expert.
I work in two areas of handwriting. These days my practice mainly consists of handwriting authentication in cases of forgery. I also work with companies in the hiring process, preparing behavioral profiles based on handwriting; compatibility reports for couples, too, and self-help analysis for individuals. Claudia Rose’s practice mirrors mine (she’s not me, though!).
Ally: What is your writing strength? What part of the process do you find most difficult?
SHEILA: Strength: understanding the motivations for each character’s actions. My knowledge of psychology through handwriting has taught me a lot about what makes people behave the way they do.
Most difficult: plotting, figuring out the story---all the stuff that’s going to happen. Once I get it in my head, I outline—though don’t worry about sticking closely to the outline, it’s just a guide.
Ally: Do you have any tips for getting past or avoiding writer's block in all of its many forms, ie procrastination, writing oneself into a corner, running out of plot, etc.?
SHEILA: Oh, I have procrastination honed to a fine art, and it’s usually by spending way too much time on Facebook or surfing the web. But what I suggest for a block is to step away from the manuscript and don’t look at it for at least the rest of the day, maybe a week, then come back with fresh eyes. I may also use graphotherapy exercises (which Claudia Rose teaches a troubled teen in the second book in the series). These are “form drawings” done to music, which can help free the mind of blocks, balance the brain, and become better organized, among other things. On the other hand, an excellent point someone made in a talk I attended: if you’re working at a “regular job,” you can’t call your boss and say, “I’m blocked, I can’t work today.” You have to power through. Just write something, anything, even if it’s crap. The next day you might come back and delete it all, but maybe not. Maybe there will be a diamond hiding under the manure.
Ally: Do you have a current work in progress?
SHEILA: Book #6, OUTSIDE THE LINES, was just released in September, but I am already deep into the next one, UNHOLY WRIT. In UW, Claudia travels to Maine to collect some documents from the home of a professor who has been murdered. She doesn’t intend to get embroiled in the case, but when a new will shows up, the local police detective calls on her for help.
Ally: Try your hand at these short answer questions:
Ally: I've enjoyed talking with you and learning about handwriting analysis. Now, I'd love to take a look at your book.
- a. An oldie but goodie favorite song: Piano Man
- b. What kind of movies do you watch? Anything with a good story (not blow ‘em up, shoot ‘em up), preferably not too heavy.
- c. Favorite reality show: Dancing With the Stars
- d. Favorite book and author, living or dead? Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag. All of John Sandford’s books.
- e. A place you'd love to visit: Egypt.
Outside the Lines (Forensic Handwriting Series)by Sheila Lowe
What should have been a routine afternoon on the witness stand for Forensic Handwriting Expert Claudia Rose turns into a shocking assault that leaves her bruised and bloodied. Following on the heels of a series of other traumatic events, the attack sends Claudia to the brink of a breakdown.
Her fiancé, L.A.P.D. Homicide Detective Joel Jovanic, learns of the attack while leading a homicide investigation into a mailbox bomb. An innocent housekeeper in the tony Venice neighborhood is dead and the homeowner is the CEO of a major pesticide-producing corporation that has been targeted in the past. When a notebook found in a geocache near the crime scene leads to the protest group People for Safe Food, Jovanic needs Claudia to identify the handwriting of a suspected eco-terrorist.
Though she may have recovered physically from the assault, weeks later Claudia’s fears continue to plague her. Desperate to get away, she accepts an invitation to lecture in the UK, but her trip turns into a nightmare when she runs afoul of both the FBI and New Scotland Yard. Jovanic’s homicide case has followed her to London where she finds herself unexpectedly allied with the chief suspect.Buy link:
Thank you for spending time with us. Come back soon!
WELCOME TO THE APOCALYPSE - D L RICHARDSON
Hello! My sci-fi novel "Welcome To The Apocalypse" has been approved for a 30 day campaign with Kindle Scout, an imprint of Amazon. I'm hoping you can help me WIN.
How the campaign works is similar to So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol or X-Factor. Readers get to vote on a book in the program. Votes count towards publication. Yes, we writers have finally got ourselves a "So You Think You Can Write" competition. Can you imagine what that would look like on TV? A whole bunch of people sitting at computers.
Anyway, why should you vote? If the book is published through Kindle Scout, every reader who nominated it gets a free ebook of "Welcome To The Apocalypse", an advanced copy prior to publication. They get to say they helped get a book published. Plus, you can enter the Giveaway to win $50 cash prize.
Kill or be killed just got real in this game.
It's launch day of a game that'll entertain cosplayers and doomsday preppers. Kelly, Jack, and Reis enter simulation pods to survive a virtual apocalypse, yet instead of "game over" they enter a new game. Then another. Each new day brings a new battle. Surviving the games is easy, it's "kill or be killed". But fatigue and cyber sickness are setting in and the pods are designed for three days. With no communication to or from the operators, they can only hope they're rescued before it's too late.
Excerpt available to read on the Kindle Scout page. https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2IU3N48DQL1QJ
VOTE NOW (started Sep 28 and ends Oct 28.)
You must have an Amazon account to vote.
Readers can win cash simply by voting. Bonus points for sharing your nomination.
About the Author:
Debbie Richardson is a writer of speculative fiction. Her favorite authors influence her to write: Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Anne Rice. She wanted to be a musician first but decided writing had better hours. She wants to be as prolific as her favorite authors and she loves meeting readers and sharing her writing tips with other authors. When she's not writing she's reading, killing weeds in the garden, walking the dog, or apologizing to her piano and guitar for neglecting them. You can read about her other books on her website www.dlrichardson.com
Wish me luck!
Best to all,
D L Richardson
Series: A Maggie York Paranormal Mystery, #2
Genre: Romantic Paranormal Mystery
Too many ghosts is never a good thing...
Twenty-four hours ago New Orleans Homicide Detective Maggie York walked out on her boyfriend/cop partner Josh Brandt. He'd nearly been killed while protecting her, and Maggie wonders if dating him is just too painful.
She wants to "cool" their relationship, but a complicated murder case throws them together more than usual. With too many suspects, more ghosts than bodies, and lots of really creepy things—venomous snakes, Satanic curses, not to mention the witches—Maggie and Josh try to make sense of it all and to resist finding consolation in each other's arms.
Then Josh's ex-fiancée, a curvy blonde, arrives from Boston, making a touchy situation...impossible.
With contradictory case evidence, escalating violence, and complicated feelings for each other, Josh and Maggie set everything else aside to unmask a cold-blooded killer before the bodies pile up.
Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/cxgb07Wzn7w
Official blurb and excerpt here: http://www.allyshields.com/7/post/2016/10/sneak-peek-ghost-witching-by-ally-shields.html
Etopia Press: http://www.etopiapress.com/ghost-witching/
Good Morning, Booklovers!
At a time when everyone in the US is talking or at least hearing about politics at every turn, we're going to take up the subject too.
No, no. Don't run away... We promise not to mention the H word or T word. Instead, we're talking about author Nicole Evelina's journey to our political past in her historical fiction novel, Madame Presidentess!
Welcome, Nicole! What may I get you to drink?
NICOLE: I can’t drink anything with caffeine, so I go for decaf tea. My favorites are Twinnings English Breakfast and Fortnum & Mason’s Royal Blend – both with crème and sugar.
Ally: No problem. While I'm fixing our drinks, please introduce yourself.
Nicole Evelina is a multi-award-winning historical fiction and romantic comedy writer. Her most recent novel, Madame Presidentess, a historical novel about Victoria Woodhull, America's first female Presidential candidate, was the first place winner in the Women’s US History category of the 2015 Chaucer Awards for Historical Fiction.
As an armchair historian, Nicole researches her books extensively, consulting with biographers, historical societies and traveling to locations when possible. For example, she traveled to England twice to research the Guinevere’s Tale trilogy, where she consulted with internationally acclaimed author and historian Geoffrey Ashe, as well as Arthurian/Glastonbury expert Jaime George, the man who helped Marion Zimmer Bradley research The Mists of Avalon.
Nicole is a member of and book reviewer for The Historical Novel Society.
Something unique that isn't in your regular bio: "I’m a person of strange fascinations. I LOVE makeup. MAC is my preferred brand and I own around 40 shades of eye shadow and about two dozen eyeliners (seriously.) I think I’d be a makeup artist if I wasn’t a writer and PR practitioner (or a historian, which is my other wannabe vocation). I also love sparkling wine and am becoming a bit of a connoisseur – that will play into a future novel. I also wish I was British. I love their accents, history, culture, television, sense of humor – they do everything better."
Her website is http://nicoleevelina.com/
She can be reached online at:
Ally: What inspired you to write Madame Presidentess? Was this year's national election part of the decision or just a happy coincidence? NICOLE: It was an accident that I found out about Victoria Woodhull. I learned about her by seeing a picture of her with an alluring caption on Pinterest, of all places. The caption said, “Known by her detractors as ‘Mrs. Satan,’ Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in 1838, married at age fifteen to an alcoholic and womanizer. She became the first woman to establish a brokerage firm on Wall Street and played an active role in the woman's suffrage movement. She became the first woman to run for President of the United States in 1872. Her name is largely lost in history. Few recognize her name and accomplishments.” I immediately had to know more and began my research. I mean, any woman called “Mrs. Satan” is someone I have to get to know!
Once I started researching her, I keenly was aware that we had an election coming up in two years that could well give us our first ever female candidate on a major party ticket, if not our first female President. That is why I chose to independently publish the book – because traditional publishing houses were too slow to be able to get it out before the election.
Ally: Is this story fact or fiction? What kind of research did you do?
NICOLE: Some of both. It’s as close to historical as I could make it without this being creative non-fiction. I’d say it’s about 70% accurate. I made up some secondary characters and one of Victoria’s affairs is fictional (but it was inspired by a rumored affair). Of course, as with all historical fiction, most of the dialog and details are made up, but all of her speeches, courtroom testimony, articles and even a few lines of dialog are taken from historical evidence. We even have descriptions of her home in Murray Hill and her brokerage office. Thanks to the biographers, we also have records of actual words from Cornelius Vanderbilt, Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, Catharine Beecher and Susan B. Anthony, all of which were used in the novel where possible. The authors notes at the end of the book go into great detail on what is accurate and what is not and why.
My main references were newspaper articles from the time and biographies of Victoria, starting with the fanciful one she commissioned from Theodore Tilton during her lifetime and Emanie Sachs’ scathing account published just after Victoria’s death, through more recent works such as Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism and the
Scandalous Victoria Woodhull by the recently deceased biographer Barbara Goldsmith, Notorious Victoria by Mary Gabriel and The Woman Who Ran for President by Lois Beachey Underhill.
I also read quite a few books on women’s lives in mid-to-late-19th century America, as well as the on suffrage movement and electoral politics at the time (voting was very different and not nearly as anonymous then as it is now).
For those who are interested in my sources, I have a complete reference list on my website here: https://nicoleevelina.com/the-books/madame-presidentess/research/ . Ally: If you could take the real Victoria Woodhull to lunch, what would you ask her? NICOLE: I love this question! I would want to dish with her about the ins and outs of the suffrage movement and what her crazy family was really like. Specifically, I’d want to how she put up with her parents and siblings, find out if she ever really did blackmail anyone as was claimed, why she had a falling out with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and what it was like being an outspoken woman in her time. Where did she get her amazing strength and courage? As a historical fiction writer, the best I can do is guess; this would give me the opportunity to get the real answers. Ally: What's the next writing project on your agenda? NICOLE: It really depends on which character starts talking first. I really need to concentrate on writing Mistress of Legend, the third and final book in my Guinevere trilogy. This book will cover the end of Guinevere’s life, including the fall of Camelot and what happens after. In my version, she certainly doesn’t live out her days in a convent!
I’ve also got a sequel and a novel planned to my romantic comedy Been Searching for You. That book was supposed to be a standalone, but due to fan demand, I’ve extended it into a series that could be anywhere from 3-5 books, each telling the story of a different couple you meet in the other books. The novella was a surprise that just came to me after a real-life event and I think it will be a lot of fun!
I also need to begin research for a WWII-era historical novel about a Catholic nun who helped hide Jews and aided the resistance in France. She was a victim of the concentration camps and should be on the path to sainthood, but few people outside of her native country know her name. As far as I can tell, there is only one book written about her in the world.
Ally: Let's try a few short answer questions:
- a. Will you vote in the 2016 election? HELL YES!!! Women like Victoria fought for my right to vote for nearly 100 years. I’m certainly going to demonstrate it!
- b. Favorite media site: Social or actual news? Social is either Pinterest or Instagram. News is CNN or BCC.
- c. What are you currently reading? What am I not reading is a better question. Because it’s getting close to Halloween, I’m breaking out the scary books: In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware, The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman, and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I’ve been wanting to read forever, but was too chicken to try. Also reading a lot of marketing books.
- d. Favorite TV show: Orphan Black
- e. Manicure or pedicure? Manicure. I’ve never had a pedicure! (Ally note: You don't know what you're missing!)
Ally: Thanks so much for visiting today. I enjoyed hearing about your book and a bit of little-known history. Let's take a look at the novel before you go...
Forty-eight years before women were granted the right to vote, one woman dared to run for President of the United States, yet her name has been virtually written out of the history books. Rising from the shame of an abusive childhood, Victoria Woodhull, the daughter of a con-man and a religious zealot, vows to follow her destiny, one the spirits say will lead her out of poverty to “become ruler of her people.”
But the road to glory is far from easy. A nightmarish marriage teaches Victoria that women are stronger and deserve far more credit than society gives. Eschewing the conventions of her day, she strikes out on her own to improve herself and the lot of American women.
Over the next several years, she sets into motion plans that shatter the old boys club of Wall Street and defile even the sanctity of the halls of Congress. But it’s not just her ambition that threatens men of wealth and privilege; when she announces her candidacy for President in the 1872 election, they realize she may well usurp the power they’ve so long fought to protect.
Those who support her laud “Notorious Victoria” as a gifted spiritualist medium and healer, a talented financial mind, a fresh voice in the suffrage movement, and the radical idealist needed to move the nation forward. But those who dislike her see a dangerous force who is too willing to speak out when women are expected to be quiet. Ultimately, “Mrs. Satan’s” radical views on women’s rights, equality of the sexes, free love and the role of politics in private affairs collide with her tumultuous personal life to endanger all she has built and change how she is viewed by future generations.
This is the story of one woman who was ahead of her time – a woman who would make waves even in the 21st century – but who dared to speak out and challenge the conventions of post-Civil War America, setting a precedent that is still followed by female politicians today.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/madame-presidentess-nicole-evelina/1123724822?ean=2940156766956
Thanks for stopping by! Come back soon...
by Abbey MacMunn
Genre: Paranormal romance, adult fiction
Blurb: When inquisitive antique dealer Cami Wilson learns she’s the revered offspring of an immortal mother and a mortal father, it’s not just her hybrid status that has her all flustered. The title comes with her very own super-sexy guardian.
Jaded immortal Joseph Carlisle has only one thing on his mind; his sworn duty to protect the hybrid from those who wish her harm. Anything else would be complicated. That is until they meet.
Chemistry sizzles between them but there’s a problem—the hybrid’s curse. Cami’s touch, skin to skin, proves near fatal to her and all immortals, Joseph included.
But the fated lovers discover her curse is the least of their concerns when a friend’s deadly betrayal threatens to tear them apart forever.
He might have just saved her life, but pinned to the freezing concrete by some wannabe hero was not her idea of fun. Cami Wilson shoved the unyielding wall of his chest, fighting not only him but the rising panic. ‘Get the hell off me!’
The guy remained on top of her, using his large frame to protect her from the chunks of smouldering metal hurtling to the ground around her. Icy air met with fiery heat and smoke infused the atmosphere like the fifth of November, but there were no sparkling fireworks to admire, only the flaming inferno, which seconds earlier had been her car.
Maybe if she hadn’t been so intrigued by the antique brooch she held in her hand or distracted by the weird, periodic buzzing emitting from it, she might have seen him coming at her in full, rugby tackle mode.
He lifted a little, easing the crushing pressure on her ribs, but remained inches from her face. Glacier-blue eyes met hers, captivating and intense. ‘Are you hurt?’
His gravelly voice did something tingly to her insides. She went to speak, but no words came. Nothing came to mind. Not the explosion. Not the contents of her shopping trolley strewn all over Morrisons’ car park. Not the fact she could have been killed. Somehow, none of it registered.
She gawped back at him like a doe-eyed teenager, taking in the angular sweep of a jawline peppered with dark stubble, and well-defined lips that parted invitingly as he drew in his breath.
His gaze lingered on her mouth in a breath-taking moment right out of one of those soppy rom-coms she liked to watch.
Forget burning cars and curious brooches… hel-lo, future husband.
Somewhere to her left, an engine revved loudly, and he turned his head towards the sound. Overlong, tousled hair tickled her cheek, and she got a faint whiff of citrus shampoo.
A second later, his attention returned to her. His grave expression burned with an urgency that brought her down from the clouds. ‘Dammit! I asked if you were hurt.’
In a move so swift it wasn’t humanly possible, he leapt to his feet and hauled her up beside him. The brooch slipped from her gloved hand and landed on the ground.
The man cursed under his breath and stooped to retrieve it. With an exasperated look, he waved it in front of her as though she were a baby dropping her dummy for the hundredth time. ‘You need to take more care of this. Don’t you know how important it is?’
Sudden indignation flared. Cami snatched the jewel from his grasp and slipped it back into her coat pocket. Okay, the guy rocked the sexy, just-rolled-out-of-bed look, but his patronising attitude set her teeth on edge. What right did he have to tell her what to do? And what on Earth did he know about a weird, vibrating brooch she’d been given by her adoptive mother, the only clue she had to her past?
About the Author: Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal, fantasy and sci fi romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK with her husband and their four children. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies. Contact links: Tirgearr Publishing
Coming October 21, 2016!
(A Maggie York Paranormal Mystery #2)
Seeing ghosts should make solving homicides easy, right? Not even close.
When detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt catch a new murder investigation involving occult rituals, ghosts, and venomous snakes, it seems like a case that could only happen in New Orleans. Not only does the victim's ghost demand Maggie's attention, but three apparitions begin appearing to her…sending the detectives on a search for more bodies. They soon discover the ghostly trio has links to the Witching Hour Society, an organization of self-declared witches with far more going on behind the scenes. Meanwhile, a neighbor believes the victim killed his family with a curse, and the media eagerly sensationalizes the entire story.
Making things worse, Maggie and Josh have hit a rough spot in their personal relationship. The tension between them is already high when Josh's ex-fiancée arrives in town…and wants him back.
Soon the violence is escalating, the ghosts grow more aggressive, and the deeper Maggie and Josh dig, the stranger things get. Welcome to murder New Orleans’ style.
Book Trailer link: https://youtu.be/cxgb07Wzn7w EXCERPT (opening scene):
Maggie sat cross-legged in the witches' circle, listening to the night sounds of the Louisiana swamp giving way to a hazy dawn. The sluggish air failed to stir the moss-hung cypress trees, and humidity clung to her skin. It would be another scorcher.
Her candle flickered, and she turned it to allow more of the wax to trickle down the side. How had her life evolved to include this? A year ago the hard-nosed cop in her would have scoffed at the idea covens actually existed. Now she was part of one. Not that she'd bought the whole occult package, but her denials rang hollow in the face of collaborating with a ghost to track down a killer. Nor could she explain away the knowledge her distant relatives, Dalia and Selena, gleaned from the Beyond.
Dalia's hard stare brought Maggie's attention back to the circle of thirteen. Spooky how the quiet, unpretentious woman knew things…like Maggie's wandering thoughts. She raised her candle in unison with the others as Selena spoke the words approaching the end of the blessing ceremony.
In contrast to Dalia's petite form, Selena was larger than life, literally and figuratively. The priestess raised her arms, her long, ashen hair braid falling over her shoulder, the white muumuu fluttering in the morning air like a giant bird about to ascend. Her voice matched her size, echoing around the clearing, bringing Maggie and the other participants to their feet.
Although Maggie wasn't positive the white witch rite actually did anything, attendance at coven ceremonies had been one of Selena's requirements for teaching her how to assert greater control over the ghostly apparitions who were bound to make more appearances in Maggie's future. The old woman had been particularly insistent tonight, piquing Maggie's curiosity. And a little apprehension. Had Selena had another of her visions, possibly foretelling trouble in the near future? When asked, her cousin had given a typically cryptic answer. "Good and evil are always in motion."
Which told her nothing new. Maggie sighed, darting a glance at the focused women around her. No matter. The future wouldn't be changed by worrying. Besides, she had no real objection to being here and supporting the coven's hopes of healing one member's gravely ill four-year-old niece, for a laid-off worker to find a new job, and a universal plea for greater wisdom. They could all use a dose of that.
While calling upon the Goddess to bless and protect them, Selena made a three-sixty turn, her gown billowing as she included every participant. Maggie suddenly stiffened and peered behind her cousin. Had something dark and wispy swooped past? No, of course not. The lifting dawn mist had fired her overactive imagination.
Yet her heart beat a bit faster, and she joined in the final lines of the closing chant with more gravity than usual.
"In calm or stormy days to come, light our pathways safely home.
Gracious Goddess, grant our plea. So mote it be."
Maggie was tempted to add an "Amen" for good measure.
As they blew out their candles, her cell phone buzzed. She checked the screen. Police dispatch. Her real world snapped back into place. While they'd been surrounded by the hope inherent in these pre-dawn gatherings, someone else had committed the most grievous assault upon society…the murder of one of its citizens.
Today we welcome back author Kimbra Kasch with a spotlight on her YA fantasy romance,
Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking.
For those who don't remember or haven't read Kim's April visit to the blog with Demon's Ink,
click here for that interview.
Theirs was a romance that threatened two kingdoms. An attraction more powerful than any sword, stronger than any warrior and more magical than all the powers of Merlin: MORGAINE LE FAY AND THE VIKING. Everyone has heard of King Arthur and his magical sword, Excalibur, but there’s another legendary hero who received a magical sword from the Norse Goddess known as The Lady of the Lake. Meet Holger Danske and his sword “Cortana”.
The Vikings, led by Holger Danske, invaded England. Yet somehow, even as enemies, Holger and King Arthur’s half-sister, Morgaine Le Fay, shared a forbidden love. MORGAINE LE FAY AND THE VIKING is the secret Denmark never shared...until now. Travel across oceans, continents and countries to discover the story of legendary Viking hero, Holger Danske, and his magical romance with King Arthur’s half-sister in Morgaine Le Fay and the Viking This is the story of two warriors who never thought they’d find love, especially on the battlefield, yet standing poised against each other Morgaine and Holger face an attraction more powerful than any sword, stronger than any warrior and more magical than all the powers of Merlin.
Publisher: Midnight Frost/Crimson Frost Formats available: mobi, epub, pdf
Morgaine’s head was held high, her back straight, with her chin jutted forward, as she rode like a warrior into battle. Covered in shiny mail, she sat upon her lively white steed, much like a nobleman, but no one could be mistaken. One glance and anyone could see simply by looking at her, this was a fine lady, with skin as smooth as silk and clear as a summer day, her russet curls plaited and twined around her head, forming a crown of braids befitting a high-born princess.
Raising her hand to shield her eyes from the harsh morning light, she turned toward the mountains, searching for a sign. Something. Anything.
Nothing was there. Still she sat, waiting.
It was after sunset when the shadows finally shifted across the horizon. That’s when she noticed the dark silhouettes of men. Not peasants. These were broad-backed warriors on horseback, sitting outlined against the blood-red moon. They were moving closer, nearer to battle.
Arthur did not want his sister on the front lines. “You should be in the background working your magic,” he insisted, hoping she would heed his pleas.
She threw her head up in defiance and gave a little snort. “Never,” she insisted.
His voice took on an authoritative tone. “I am the King,” he reminded her with a frown etched over his face. She turned to grin at him, “Did you think I could forget?”
With a heavy sigh, he went on, “It is not as a King that I am asking, but as your brother. I cannot bear the thought of you being hurt for me. I want you in the background, not on the forefront of battle.”
She shook her head, and then reached across the gap between them. She ran her palm over his cheek. “Do not waste your worry. You know, death holds no fear for me.”
“Perhaps,” he nodded. “But there are worse things than death. Please sister, if only for my sake, move to the back and do not separate yourself from us—I beg of you.” He tried to convince her not to ride forward from the front lines, but she wouldn’t listen.
“Do not even think of it,” she said, with that familiar look of determination in her eyes and the stubborn tone Arthur had become so acquainted with. Pulling back on her reins, she danced her horse around him. “I am a symbol for the men to look upon. I must move about for all to see.”
And no matter how much he wanted to deny it, they both knew she was right. Sitting out in front of the knights, she made an unforgettable impression.
“But you can inspire from anywhere, it need not be the frontline,” he insisted
She shook her head, disregarding his warning as she rode ahead to act as the King’s guard over her brother. Sitting proud and tall, she fully intended to protect him from the onslaught that was about to begin. Arthur was transfixed. She was more beautiful than ever. An angel blanketed in shadows but edged in starlight, no man on the battlefield would ever forget her face.
She felt the fire burning inside her belly. The cry of war rising up into her heart, she wanted nothing more than to ride.
As the men moved nearer, she raised her hand, stopping Arthur’s men—holding them back, “Wait for my signal,” she called out, “Steady!” Finally reaching up over her head, she dropped her sword across her body as the moonlight glistened on the shiny steel, blinding the men riding toward them into battle.
Morgaine let out a laugh that echoed over the field as she galloped forward, and then immediately she swung her mare away from the men. Standing out alone and off to the side, she was a vision…
Suddenly time stood still. She was frozen, as a warrior on their frontline came into view. His arm raised up over his head, sword in hand, he led the charge against her, against Arthur, and against all the people of Camelot. He was a brute of a man and her attention was riveted.
There was no turning away; he was all she saw, all she noticed. Opening his mouth, he let out a roar as he rode straight toward her, this man with the golden mane.
The moonlight shimmered down on him. His browned skin glistened and his hair gleamed like an autumn jewel beneath the starlight. Suddenly she was reminded of hot summer days and amber pebbles washed up on the white sandy shores. Fascinated, she was spellbound by his glowing skin beneath the fading evening sun.
She was mesmerized.
Shaking her head to clear the fog inside her mind, she readied herself for his blow. Raising her shield, she steeled herself.
He was a giant among men, with ten times the form of any god she could imagine.
Was it possible? Was this an illusion? Could he be real?
His sapphire eyes found hers, locking on her lilac orbs, and a blinding heat struck her like a bolt of lightning. She could not turn away. His sword raised high in the air, his shield barely covering his broad chest, she stared at his form. A rush of fire raced through her, as she sat still watching this man ride with such a majestic carriage.
Giddy and out of breath, her heart beat faster than she could ever recall.
What was happening here? What magic was this? She wondered at her own body, feeling dizzy as a young maiden at her first games. Someone must have cast a spell. She turned her head, searching for the Viking sorcerer performing this magic.
There was none.
She had never had this reaction to any man. No. Morgaine had never had this reaction to anyone.
Her breath caught in her chest, and she could barely breathe. The air was trapped inside her throat, choking her. She had to cough to force the air back into her lungs.
This man could not be human. He was either a devil or a demon, she was sure of it and yet he had signaled his men into the battle before he veered off to the side, riding straight toward the sorceress with the flaming locks. His mouth was open as he let out a warrior chant she had never heard before.
Another spell, she told herself, an incantation—perhaps the same one he cast upon the knights and warriors.
She turned to her side, to see how her men were holding up under this magic.
It could not be.
His words had no effect on them. They were not under his spell. Their swords were unsheathed, raised, and ready to do battle. The knight beside her let out a thunderous cry, spurring his horse faster, as they rode past her into the throng of bare-chested men with the horns upon their heads.
Her steed moved forward, but she did nothing more than hold on to the reins as her mare carried her into the field of battle and straight toward the magic man. She was unprepared, mesmerized, and out of control…
Opposite each other they rode, one toward the other. She saw him motion to his men to continue riding forward as he veered further off to the side…to make his way straight toward her.
In a matter of moments, he was upon her. Sweeping up beside her like the blast of a storm, he stole her breath away. His thickly muscled arm snaked out away from his body, striking before she could do a thing or even before she realized what had happened. But there was no pain. It was not with a thrust of his sword that he struck, it was only his arm. Quickly twisting, he shifted his weight to make room for her. His powerful arm wrapped around her waist, grabbing her with the strength of the ocean’s tide, he pulled her toward him.
Morgaine sat motionless as a statue in the garden; she offered no resistance. Instead, she simply slid sideways from her horse onto his. It happened in one swift motion.
Pressing his palm flat against her belly, he held her in place, tightly nestled in front of him. She felt the warmth of his breath on her neck, caressing her face. Her hands fell limp to her side, accidently brushing against the hot flesh of his thigh. His skin burned beneath her fingertips.
The heat rose from her hands to her chest, and a small gasp escaped her lips as she let her hands rest upon his thickly muscled leg. He chuckled low in his throat and she knew he understood the effect he was having on her senses.
Pressing his firm rippled chest into her back, she felt something she had never felt before…lust.
She could do nothing to resist him. Leaning back, she drank in the strong, musky scent of him and felt her head spin. He held her steady and still.
Another mesmerizing potion, she thought, his spicy scent must be the mixture of a wizard’s tonic, worn to hypnotize his enemies.
Unable to fight the strength of his powerful magic, she succumbed. His tantalizing aroma made her want nothing more than to be with him, alone.
About the Author:
Hi everyone! I'm a romance writer who grew up in a family with 9 kids and only 1 t.v. so I spent my days reading and, later, writing. I love books. . .maybe because I never got to pick t.v. shows we watched. But I’d run home after school to catch the last fifteen minutes of Dark Shadows...
I still love to run...or at my age, maybe I should say wogging (a cross between walking and jogging). Here in Portland, I love Halloween themed runs - where people don costumes and run. It's a lot of fun...and I know those two words don't always go together: fun...and...run. But it is.
And, with all those Halloween themed runs, I guess Dark Shadows had more of an influence than some people might think. Even today my favorite author is Stephen King. My all-time favorite book is Salem's Lot.
Favorite romance novels are The Hunger Games...okay, I know, it's a survival book but it's really all about romance. Then there were the series: Twilight, Fifty Shades, and more but I also love paranormal, Horror and even light books like Dewey the Small Town Library Cat... Mainly, I just love to read. . . and write.
I've just had my first novel published and am looking to share it with the world. It's a story I was inspired to write after visiting Hamlet's Castle and seeing an enormous Viking statue down in the tunnels next to the dungeons.
Sorry to be so long-winded but did I say I love to write? ...and talk and...knit, and sew, and bake... I could go on but I'll close by saying, I hope you’ll stop in on my site and I can tell you I have a couple other stories you should check out: How about a story about a Demonic Tattoo artist in Portland, Oregon: Demon’s Ink? Or, how about a love story? Of course we all know love is risky, but in The Cats of Cullaby Creek it’s dangerous….
You can find them here: https://www.amazon.com/Kim-Kasch/e/B00ZOAUKMO
Visit me at www.kimbrakasch.com
Blog: www.kimkasch.blogspot.comTwitter: https://twitter.com/kimkasch
Excerpt (the beginning of the book):
I tried to focus on the books in front of me. I tried to be interested in the latest novel from Minerva Press, but there were so many people walking by on the street just outside Hatchard’s Bookshop window, I just couldn’t concentrate.
Maybe if I looked at the non-fiction. My sister, Rose, had told me there was a new book out by Christian Thomsen, the Dutch archeologist. It sounded interesting. Of course, our father would have already bought a copy, but that just meant I wouldn’t even get a peek at it until he had finished with it. Father hated when a book he was reading disappeared before he had read it from cover to cover.
I turned to look for the book, but out of the corner of my eye, I spied the most handsome man outside the window
Without a thought, I slipped between two other patrons, escaping the notice of my maid, Sally, and darted out the door of the bookshop—straight into the chest of Mr. Handsome. Completely unintentional, I assure you! Oh, but he smelled good! I just loved the smell of men—that combination of leather, something slightly spicy, and man. I took a deep breath.
“Oh! I am so sorry!” I exclaimed. “I am much too clumsy, not watching where I’m going. I do beg your pardon.” I lowered my eyes demurely while glancing up at him through my eyelashes. A niggling thought teased the back of my mind. My father was going to kill me. I’d been told so many times in the past three years that I shouldn’t introduce myself to men as I used to when we lived in Greece. I just couldn’t help myself. Men were so fascinating!
“Not at all, Miss,” the gentleman said with a slight bow. “Entirely my fault, I’m sure.”
I cocked my head and looked up at his lovely green eyes and tousled blond curls, ignoring the people squeezing past on the busy pathway. “Are you new in town? Oh, no, wait, I’m certain I saw you at Lady Sambourne’s soiree the other night,” I said, lying outright. I hadn’t been to Lady Sambourne’s. I hadn’t been anywhere. I wouldn’t be presented to society for another six months. I had only turned eighteen a month ago, but I looked older than I truly was and took advantage of the fact.
“Er, no,” the gentleman admitted, gently guiding me closer to the side of the building so that I wouldn’t get knocked against. He was clearly a thoughtful, kind gentleman. I liked him already. “I only arrived a few days ago. Just a quick visit to the city before I return to University in a few weeks, you know.”
“Oh, yes, of course. I’m Aglaia Grace.” I held out my hand.
Mr. Handsome looked at it for a moment. “I beg your pardon?”
“Aglaia Grace. That’s my name, although I am simply called Laia by my family. Aglaia, as I’m sure you know, is one of the graces from ancient Greek mythology. My father’s an archeologist with a sense of humor.” I smiled, inviting him to laugh at my funny name. Happily, he did with a lovely, deep little chuckle.
I couldn’t blame him for being confused at first. Proper young ladies did not introduce themselves to gentlemen. My older sister Rose had added her voice to our father’s, trying to break me of this horrid habit, especially since she’d gotten married and become “respectable.” But there was no one else around who could make the introduction, and I did so want to meet him. Surely, no one would find out. He would be leaving town again very soon, he’d just told me as much.
“Oh!” He looked down at the hand I was still holding out to him. He pulled himself together and took it, a smile slowly growing on his face as he bowed. “Reginald Swithin, Viscount Yardley, at your service.”
Viscount Yardley. Why did that name sound vaguely familiar? I searched my memory but came up with nothing. “I’m so happy to—”
“Yardley, there you are,” an older woman said, coming out of the bookshop behind me. Uh oh!
“Sorry, Mother, I have just been introduced to this charming young lady,” Lord Yardley answered.
The tall woman looked about, clearly searching for the person who had presented me to him.
“Er... Well, actually I introduced myself,” I admitted sheepishly. At least I was honest, if not properly behaved.
“Oh, yes. That wasn’t clear from what I said, was it?” Yardley laughed.
The woman’s eyebrows rose in surprise. Her chin lifted as she took advantage of her height to stare down her nose at me. Before she could utter a word, however, Sally popped out of the bookshop, squeezing around Viscount Yardley’s mother, who was still blocking the doorway. “Miss Grace! There you are,” Sally said. She stopped abruptly upon seeing that I was engaged in conversation. “We, um, we really should be going, Miss. Your father will be wondering where you are,” she stammered, looking from Lord Yardley to his mother and back again.
“Yes. Thank you, Sally.” I gave a quick curtsy to Yardley and his mother, and then preceded Sally down the street.
Never had I wished for my father’s carriage so much as I did just then. It would have looked so much better if I’d had it that day.
It wasn’t so much that I wanted to impress Lord Yardley, although that would have been nice. But honestly, the way his mother had looked down her nose at me made my hackles rise. Just who did she think she was?
* * * * *
Excerpt Two (1580 words)
I awoke with a start. Where was I?
The pale glow of the moon reflected off pink walls. Ah, right, Marshfield.
I was about to close my eyes once more, when I heard what must have woken me up in the first place. A creaking sound and then the slam of a door. Moans were followed by the sound of someone sobbing.
I sat up, listening carefully. Was that Sally? I threw back the cover, ready to go to my maid. The poor girl had not been happy when we’d arrived, but she’d seemed better after dinner thanks to the kindness of the Barkers. But no, wait. I stopped, listening again.
The cries weren’t coming from Sally’s room. And they were too low in pitch. Yes, they were definitely being made by a man.
But where were these cries coming from, and from whom?
Mr. Barker was the only man in the house, but I didn’t think this sounded like his voice.
The sounds seemed to be, at one moment, coming from above, and then shift and sound as if they were coming from the room next door. The one Mrs. Barker had said was the master’s chamber. But there could be no one there; there was no master aside from my own father, and he, I knew, was safe and sound in London.
I got up. Grateful for the moonlight, I managed to find and light my bedside candle. Donning my robe, I crept to the connecting door. Putting my ear to the door, I listened closely.
Alternate moans and sobs mixed with wails of pure despair. Gooseflesh covered my arms.
Very slowly, I turned the handle. The door wasn’t locked.
It opened inward. Hesitantly, I stepped into a room bigger than my own, dominated by a large four-poster bed. Dark red curtains were drawn around the bed. I hesitated before approaching it, especially as another cry seemed to come from either within or just above it, if that were possible.
Taking a deep but quiet breath in, I tiptoed toward the bed. My hand hesitated at the curtain’s edge. Slowly I grasped hold of the heavy fabric and began to inch it open, trying to peer inside.
“NO!” the man’s voice yelled from behind.
I jumped with a scream and very nearly dropped my candle as I spun around.
Holding the meager light out before me, I searched the room for the source of the voice. But there was no one there.
Still the moans continued, broken by the occasional sob.
I turned back to the bed and this time moved more quickly at opening the curtain, although, I have to admit I was not quite so fearless as to just throw it open.
I peered through, but the bed was empty just as it should have been. What was exceedingly odd, however, was that the coverlet had been neatly folded back, as if waiting for its owner to climb in at any moment. The pillows were fluffed and ready, but there was no one there.
I must have stood there for a full minute, staring into the empty bed and wondering where the cries were coming from, when I noticed that the sound was moving off. It was as if the person making them was walking away from the room—without the sound of a footfall.
Never in my life had I the urge to wander abroad in the middle of the night. In fact, my two sisters teased me mercilessly at how deep a sleeper I was. But these moans and groans were so odd that I found myself following the sounds with an ever-growing curiosity.
As I slipped nearly silently along the passageway back toward the main stair, I was tempted to laugh at myself for my midnight walk. It almost seemed like a game or a trick one of my sisters would play on me.
That made me pause. Could it be Rose or Thalia playing a trick… no. That didn’t make sense. I was here because I had been too bold and outgoing. My sisters wouldn’t tease me in this way when I was being punished, would they?
Could it be possible that it was some sort of test on my father’s part? Testing to see if I would be so bold as to follow the sounds or simply cower in my bed as any other right-minded female would?
I came very close to turning around and returning straight away to my room, but a loud thump and more wails kept me moving forward. No. My father was punishing me, not testing me. And besides, how would he have even asked anyone to play such a trick on me? He wouldn’t and he couldn’t have.
I continued on, slipping down the stairs on silent, bare feet. I paused as I neared the entry hall. The sounds seemed to have disappeared. Could they have gone a different way?
I turned around, went back up, and then stood in indecision looking down the hallway toward my room. The sound hadn’t gone that way. It had most certainly gone toward the other wing of the house—but how?
In the glow of my candle shone two pale brass handholds set into the wall of the alcove to my left.
Doors! The “wall” was in fact two pocket doors, which slid to either side. I verified this by opening one, with quite a bit of difficulty. It seemed as if these doors hadn’t been opened for some time, they were so stiff. But I managed to slide one open just enough to slip through.
I walked into a gallery. It was the hall that connected the two wings of the house.
A very impressive-looking man of armor stood at the entrance. For possibly thirty feet, there was portrait after portrait lining either wall, interspersed with upholstered benches along the window side, and occasional busts on pedestals on the other.
Slowly I made my way down the hall, raising my candle up so that I could look at the portraits. Some were of families looking kindly down at me, others were of intimidating gentlemen in old-fashioned clothing, staring down as if accusing me of invading their privacy. Occasionally, there was a severe-looking woman peering down her nose at me, very much like the Duchess of Bromfield. Just the thought of that woman made me shiver with fright.
A fresh bout of groans and a growling shout reminded me why I was there. I turned from a previous Lady Bolingbrook to peer down the length of gallery. It was nearly pitch black, as all of the curtains along the outside wall were closed, so I held my candle aloft and slowly made my way toward the sounds.
Glancing left and right, I passed by many generations of Lords and Ladies Bolingbrook depicted in both oil and an occasional plaster bust.
About two thirds of the way down the room, a particularly loud shout made me stop in my tracks. To my left, a man stared at me from yet another painting. His deep green eyes seemed to take me in, in a way that if he had been flesh and blood, I would have said was rather rude. I felt bared before him; he looked so deeply into my soul. His painted eyes seemed to see all that I kept secret, things I shared with no one, not even my sisters… not even with myself.
“LEAVE! NOW!” The words seemed to come from all around me. They reverberated down the hall and back again.
This time when I jumped, I did drop my candle.
Luckily, it extinguished itself quickly. Or perhaps that was unlucky, because I was now left in the pitch black of the gallery. Not a speck of light came from anywhere. I couldn’t even see where my candle had fallen, let alone anything else.
“Who are you?” I called out into the dark. “Where are you?”
“LEAVE NOW!” the voice said again, getting louder as it reached the end of the command.
I didn’t wait for him to tell me a third time. I turned in what I thought was the right direction and sped directly into the wall.
“Ow.” I stepped back, certain I would be seeing stars if I could see anything at all.
I took a deep breath trying to get my bearings.
“GET OUT!” the voice screamed.
“I can’t find my way,” I cried, trying to hold on to the tears that pricked at my eyes. I was trembling so fiercely, my teeth were nearly chattering. My heart thumped within my chest, and a cold sweat pebbled on my skin.
The voice, while fascinating as it had led me to this god-awful gallery of portraits, had become increasingly threatening the closer I got. Now I was more than willing to do as he said—if only I could find my way.
A crack of light appeared to my right as the door at the end of the gallery silently slid open, just a touch. I didn’t know how that had happened, or possibly who had done it. I didn’t care. I wasn’t about to stop to investigate the sounds of heavy breathing, almost a growl. Like a tickle in my ear, I could almost hear him draw breath to begin yelling again. My legs suddenly found the strength to propel me to the end of the gallery and out the door.