Blog Archives

VBT – CREATING PLACES

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Creating Places
by Randy Ellefson

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GENRE:   Non-fiction

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Creating a unique, immersive setting one place at a time.

CREATING PLACES (THE ART OF WORLD BUILDING, #2) is a detailed how-to guide on inventing the heart of every imaginary world – places. It includes chapters on inventing planets, moons, continents, mountains, forests, deserts, bodies of water, sovereign powers, settlements, and interesting locales. Extensive, culled research on each is provided to inform your world building decisions and understand the impact on craft, story, and audience. You’ll also learn how and when to create history and maps. Experts and beginners alike will benefit from the free templates that make building worlds easier, quicker, and more fun.

Learn the difference between types of monarchies, democracies, dictatorships and more for realistic variety and believable conflict. Understand how latitude, prevailing winds, and mountains affect climate, rainfall, and what types of forests and deserts will exist in each location. Consistently calculate how long it takes to travel by horse, wagon, sailing vessels, or even dragon over different terrain types and conditions.

CREATING PLACES is the second volume in THE ART OF WORLD BUILDING, the only multi-volume series of its kind. Three times the length, depth, and breadth of other guides, the series can help fantasy and science fiction creators determine how much to build and why, how to use world building in your work, and whether the effort to create places will reap rewards for you and your audience.

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Excerpt

The term “tidal locking” will make many of us think of tides, but these are unrelated phenomenon. Our moon is tidally locked to the Earth. The same side is always facing us because the moon rotates on its axis in the same number of days it takes to orbit us. This might seem coincidental and unique, but most significant moons in our solar system are tidally locked to their planet; those nearest experience this first. Tidal locking is an eventual result caused by gravity. Early in a moon’s orbiting, it might not be tidally locked, but ours may have become locked in as few as a hundred days (its proximity and size having much to do with this).  A moon that is not tidally locked may have recently formed or been captured by the planet. Either way, the stabilization process hasn’t completed.

As world builders, we have some leeway to claim a satellite is locked or not. Most people are unfamiliar with the concept and we should only mention it if locking has occurred, as readers will assume the opposite without being told. Note that a close, large moon like ours will almost certainly be locked; during the brief period when ours was not, it and the Earth were molten and devoid of life.

Normally, only the satellite is locked to the planet, but they can become mutually tidally locked, as happened with Pluto and its moon, Charon. This means that each of them only sees one side of the other. If we stood on our moon, we’d see all sides of Earth as it rotates, but from Earth, we see only one side of the moon because they are not mutually tidally locked. If they were, the moon would stay in the exact same spot in the sky. About half the planet would see it, while the other half wouldn’t even know it existed unless traveling to the far side of the world. This would eliminate most tides (see next section) except those caused by the sun.

 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

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Randy Ellefson has written fantasy fiction since his teens and is an avid world builder, having spent three decades creating Llurien, which has its own website. He has a Bachelor’s of Music in classical guitar but has always been more of a rocker, having released several albums and earned endorsements from music companies. He’s a professional software developer and runs a consulting firm in the Washington D.C. suburbs. He loves spending time with his son and daughter when not writing, making music, or playing golf.

Creating Places universal buy link: http://www.books2read.com/creatingplaces

The Art of World Building Podcast http://www.artofworldbuilding.com/podcast (launching a week before the tour)

The Art of World Building Website: http://www.ArtofWorldBuilding.com

Author Website: http://www.RandyEllefson.com

FREE eBook: http://fiction.randyellefson.com/freebook/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/randyellefson

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/RandyEllefsonAuthor

Google+: https://www.google.com/+RandyEllefson

NOTE: The book series has a new podcast where even more details are discussed. This podcast is free to listen! Follow along here: http://www.artofworldbuilding.com/podcast

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY

Randy Ellefson will be awarding an ultimate world builder’s package to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

http://www.artofworldbuilding.com/giveaways/ultimate-world-builders-giveaway/

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:

http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2017/10/blurb-blitz-creating-places-by-randy.html

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VBT – Penchant for Vengeance

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About the Book

Title: Penchant for Vengeance
Author: Robert Downs
Genre: Mystery

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Charlottesville, Virginia, Police Detective Luke McGinty has a closet filled with demons, along with a few skeletons; a steady job, but no steady partner or girlfriend; and is still married to his wife Sallie, even though she’s been dead for three years. Then his detective work takes a turn for the worse when a body is discovered at the downtown mall. One dead body isn’t enough, though, and another one turns up. When ties to a cold murder case in another county present themselves, Luke realizes that, if he doesn’t tread carefully, he could end up short more than just a few answers…

Author Bio

Robert Downs LCC

Robert Downs aspired to be a writer before he realized how difficult the writing process was. Fortunately, he’d already fallen in love with the craft, otherwise his stories might never have seen print. Originally from West Virginia, he has lived in Virginia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and now resides in California. When he’s not writing, Downs can be found reviewing, blogging, or smiling. To find out more about his latest projects, or to reach out to him on the Internet, visit the author’s website: www.RobertDowns.net. PENCHANT FOR VENGEANCE is his fifth novel.

Links

Author website http://www.RobertDowns.net

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RobertDownsBooks

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4821934.Robert_Downs

Giveaway

Giveaway for 2 paperbacks and 2 eBook copies of “Penchant for Vengeance” during the book tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Excerpts

Excerpt #1

Traffic was light—Charlottesville, Virginia, despite being a college town, had a curfew—the morning was dark, and a light mist filled the air, adding drops of water to my bright yellow 1974 Camaro. I took the back roads, rather than using US 250 to reach the downtown mall, with Regal Cinema located near the center, off Main Street. I reached the scene in less than ten minutes, including parking, without using a siren, or running a single red light. The body, however, wasn’t nearly as successful as I was.

“Can’t you guys pick a more reasonable hour?” I asked. “Crime should wait until at least nine o’clock.”

“Why don’t you get your butt out of bed like everyone else?” a cop said.

The man didn’t look familiar, nor did his crew cut, wide shoulders, and pressed uniform. His face lacked wrinkles, and his scowl provided more menace than a rabbit with a semi-automatic weapon.

“I did. I’m here, aren’t I?”

I’d flashed my shield to get in, and now I wanted to flash my nine-millimeter. The early hour meant a yawn preceded one hand wrapped around the thick neck of my competition. I preferred reasonable solutions since reasonableness was all I had left. “What do we know?” I asked.

“We know you don’t belong here,” Nelson Rivers said.

Like his name implied, he preferred headlocks to handshakes and shaved heads over full-haired ones. He and I had respectfully disagreed on multiple occasions, so often I couldn’t remember the last time we’d ever agreed on anything other than the day of the week. He had hands the size of pencil sharpeners, and he pushed more buttons than he allowed pushed in return. What he needed was a little less mouth and a lot more action.

I ignored his comment. Ignorance was a hard emotion to pin down, but it seemed to rear its ugly head quicker than the other ones. And crime scenes brought out a special kind of ignorance. I had a few emotions left in my system, despite the hour, and I wanted to save them for the victim, who appeared about my age.

Excerpt #2

The body was bent like a pretzel. Wounds that were possibly from a knife or a whip slathered the body from the neck to the pubic region, deep enough to resemble tattoos. Some were spaced closely enough to disfigure the top half of the body, rendering an exact age nearly impossible. A crime of passion entered the forefront of my mind, and it clung to the roof of my mouth. The victim probably knew his killer intimately, or was, at the very least, an acquaintance.

The wounds stood out for me: a multitude of lacerations that made me unable to look away. When I scanned below the belt, I noticed the mutilated genitalia, rendering the man much less of one. I didn’t like the look of the scene, with the body splayed at an obscene angle, dropped right outside the glass front doors of Regal Cinema to render two of the doors nearly impassable. It resembled something. I just wasn’t sure what. I’d probably blocked it out of my mind, being that I frequented this particular cinema and watched more movies than I cared to admit.

I hoped it never came back, the thought I had blocked. It always did in the end. That was what hurt the most: Movies exacerbated the oddities of life.

Killers were usually born not made, but sometimes, it was the other way around.

The victim’s hands were positioned above his head, forming a triangle, as if he prayed in death to some higher power. Positioned that way by the killer, his hands rubbed up against each other, his head tilted slightly upward. The wounds to the victim’s hands told me he had put up a struggle, knowing that death was inevitable, yet he had wanted to live all the way to the end. But it wasn’t enough. It often never was.

The lack of blood told me the victim wasn’t killed here, and other than a nude body covered in wounds and dried blood, like strokes from a brush, with his hands pointed toward the sky, there were no other obvious signatures. His head was shaved with only a small area of stubble on his chin. His height and weight fell in the average region, his eyes were black, and his lips formed a permanent grimace. He had defensive wounds on both his wrists and the back of his hands, and his skin was as white as a first-floor apartment.

“Who’s the victim?” I asked.

“Victim’s name is unknown, until we run some tests,” the ME said. “Other than being male, and probably between thirty-five and forty years old, I’m out of guesses.”

Addie Ferguson, the ME, had a knack for guessing ages, along with her serious attention to detail. A short woman, with a few extra pounds she could never seem to get rid of, she preferred ankle-length skirts, black boots, and blue blouses.

“Have we got a time of death?”

Release Day Book Blast – Devil’s Gamble

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Devil’s Gamble- BOOK 2, Tarnished Billionaires Series
by Michele Arris

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GENRE: Contemporary Romance (steamy)

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BLURB

Sienna Keller saw how men used her mother, and from an early age she swore she’d never allow it to happen to her. So when she meets smooth-talking billionaire Gavin Crane, who uses his connections to help her art career, she resolves to keep things strictly professional—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Gavin might be the son of the head of the Kavanagh organized crime family, but he wants no part of that life. It’s important to him to prove to Sienna that he’s a good guy. But when she winds up in the hospital with a gunshot wound, he is driven to exact revenge. His father agrees to provide security to watch over her as well as find the man who shot her, but at a cost—Gavin must come back into the family business.

As Sienna begins to let her guard down around Gavin, seeing the kind, caring man he’s always wanted her to see, his secrets begin to pile up. Has she done the one thing she vowed never to do—trusted her heart to the wrong man?

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EXCERPT

“You have your room keycard?”

She pulled it from her black leather clutch purse. He took it from her, and with a quick swipe at the lock, opened, and stood just inside the room with his back braced flush against the door, giving her a wide area to pass without them making contact.

Just then her cell phone rang. She took it from her purse to view the display and quickly connected. “Hey. Hold on a moment.” Pressing the phone at her chest, she looked at Gavin, whose attention was laser focused on the phone in her hand. “I have to take this.”

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said with little inflection as he reached to his right and set the keycard on the entry table, then his steady stare held hers briefly. “Sleep well.” He stepped out. The door closed quietly behind him.

Sienna waited for the resounding clank of the door across the hall before she let go a breath, and her pulse managed to calm. Wow. She’d expected he’d ask to come inside. A small part of her, that perverse side of her, wanted him to, only so she could turn him away. Turning down his invitation wouldn’t have been just because she felt he was a player or a pain in the ass on occasion, it was something else, some kind of deeply embedded feeling that her mind fought against.

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AUTHOR Bio and Links

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Award winning author, Michele Arris, writes steamy contemporary romance.
Michele is always plotting out her characters’ next move. Even when she’s not seated in front of her laptop writing about strong-willed, professional heroines and the complex heroes who strive to have them, she’s plotting scenes in her head.

“I love to write story where my characters are guaranteed their Happily Ever After.”
In her spare time, Michele enjoys reading all types of romance genres. She loves paranormal romance as well as historical romances, enjoys watching period classics (Little Dorrit, The Buccaneers, and Persuasion to name a few), actually looks forward to working out, is a holistic enthusiast/vitamin junkie, and spending time with family and friends – simply enjoying life.

LINKS

WEBSITE: www.michelearris.com

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Michele-Arris-Author

TWITTER: @ArrisMichele

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2yGFpaA
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2fRe25X
iBooks: http://apple.co/2xBfv8a
BAM: http://bit.ly/2wWspeG
Google Play: http://bit.ly/2xKIM1Z
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2frfTxG

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RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY 

Michele will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

VBT – The Awakening: Part Two

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About the Book

Title: The Awakening: Part Two
Author: Michael Timmins
Genre: Fantasy

The world is awakening

The monsters of myths and fairytales walk among us.
While Clint, Shae, Kat and Blain awaken to their powers, the others have too. Realizing that they are not like everyone else, and that they aren’t alone.
Samuel, who was once known as Syndor, has managed to survive all these years preparing for Kestrel’s spell and her arrival.

Five of the original eight bloodlines have awoken, but what of the others? How will their awakening happen?

Sylvanis continues to grow at a rapid rate, much to the bafflement of her parents, but her body recognizes the need and responds. Now, she must make a desperate gamble to call out to her Lycans, knowing Kestrel will be able to find her if she does.

Blood has been spilled already, but the war has only just begun!

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Author Bio

Michael Timmins lives in Toledo, Ohio with his wife and two sons. His inspiration for writing came from his many years making modules to run for his D&D group. It has been a dream of his to one day get his work published, and now with ease of self-publishing he has made his dream come true.

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Links

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076DQWFH9/ Amazon link for “The Awakening: Part Two”
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076H9KQP9/ Amazon link for both books in series
http://www.michaeltimmins42.com/ website

http://www.facebook.com/lycanwarsaga Facebook page

https://twitter.com/mtimmins_author Twitter page

Giveaway

Giveaway for a free eBook of The Awakening: Part One, a signed copy of The Awakening: Part One, and the main prize: a signed copy of The Awakening: Part One and The Awakening: Part Two

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Excerpt

At first, he went crazy with it and bought candy, video games, and whatever he felt like. When Hank asked him how he was going to buy a car when he turned sixteen since he kept spending all his money, Sim went on a spending freeze. Apart from an occasional personal reward, he saved every coin. Now, he had enough money to buy the car he wanted, though it took him a whole year beyond his sixteenth birthday to do so.

Closing his eyes, he pictured the car in his head. He was visualizing opening the car door when a scream from up the stairs shattered the vision. Panicked, he rushed upstairs. Never in his entire life had he heard someone scream like that. It held so much pain he couldn’t imagine what it must feel like. Mounting the top of the stairs, he peered down the hall towards Hank’s room. It had to be Hank. There wasn’t anyone else here, but the scream was so… inhuman. He wasn’t sure it had been Hank.

Taking measured steps, he moved down the hall to the door to his dad’s room. It was open a crack, as it always was, and Sim paused outside to listen. Someone breathed roughly — like each breath being forced out of a tight chest, huffing and blowing. It was louder than it should have been and once again, heart pounding, he thought of his dad. Reaching for the handle so he could throw it open, the door was ripped from its hinges, like it was made of cardboard and not the solid oak it was, and tossed away into the room to crash further into the room with a loud crash! Something he had never seen before came through, it’s bulk blocking the doorway like the moon blocks the sun in an eclipse.

It appeared bearish, like they do when they rear up on their hind legs, but something was different. Its shoulders were located differently, as if the front legs were more like arms. To further this appearance, where the paws should be, there were elongated, beefy fingers, ending in wicked looking dagger-like claws. Its back legs appeared more capable of allowing the beast to use only its hind legs to walk. Examining its legs, he noticed something more shocking. Shredded strands of blue and white cloth dangled down from the creature’s waist, like streamers, hung from a blue waistband stretched to its limit. Sim recognized it because it belonged to his father. It was his favorite sweatpants he frequently wore to sleep in. Noticing all this in seconds, the creature’s right claw smashed into him. Slamming into the wall, it was the last thing he remembered.

Standing deep within the alley was some sort of humanoid — it stood at least twice her height, somewhere over three meters tall, and broad of frame. Its body seemed to shift from green to black, but was made of large scales from head to toe. Its legs were lighter color on the inside as was the abdomen, chest and under its neck. Its neck swept out into a long snout filled with teeth, gleaming as the flash’s light struck them. Red colored eyes sat on either side of its head.

She had no problem realizing this was the creature everyone thought was the killer croc, because that was what it was like; a crocodile, standing on two legs. Another reason she figured this was the killer which had Sydney in a panic was the fact it was in the process of eating its latest victim. Its powerful arms held two halves of a body whose midsection was all but missing. Realizing now what those sounds she had heard were, she resisted the urge to puke. Blood, gore and ichor dripped from the gaping mouth of the creature as it froze from chewing. The flashes of light momentarily blinding it.

Sylvia realized her predicament and stopped shooting pictures. The alley went dark. Light circles swam across her vision as the sudden darkness left her temporarily blinded. Sylvia froze for a moment, not sure if what she had seen was real. She took several steps back from the alley’s mouth.

It emerged from the darkness in front of her. As if from nothingness, the snout appeared first, followed by its massive body, like a demon stepping from a portal from hell. Its eyes locked on her and she could only watch in fascination as its inner eyelids closed over the eyes, retreating under the outer eyelids. It was then Sylvia knew she was going to die. Hopefully, the pictures in her camera would show the world what was hiding in the city. This monster was like nothing she had ever seen before, or heard of.

Like a slow-motion action scene from a movie, she watched as the creature’s right hand reached backwards, before slowly coming forward in a terrible arc towards her head. As the arm slashed in front of her she heard, detachedly, four hollow booms, and she caught flashes from her peripheral. The creature about to end her life rocked back as bullets ripped into its flesh. Sylvia saw two bullets bury themselves into its chest, one in the arm and the other in the abdomen.

Blood sprayed her, warm droplets of red rain, as the creature whipped around. Sylvia felt terrible pain. Flipping over, her head struck the pavement as its tail whipped around, catching her legs and knocking them out from underneath her. Head throbbing in pain, she watched from the pavement. The thing escaped with lightning speed down the alleyway. More shots were fired as one cop ran to the entrance of the alley firing into the dark alley in hopes of striking the beast. The other cop knelt in front of her. Holding on to consciousness long enough, she heard the cop call for an ambulance.

Book Blast – LOTTIE LOVES

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About the Author

Samie Sands

Samie Sands is the author of the AM13 Outbreak series; Lockdown, Forgotten, and Extinct. She has also had stories featured in best-selling anthologies.

Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Lottie Loves.

For more information, exclusive competitions, and free content, please connect with Samie via social media:

Newsletter: eepurl.com/bRjtkf

Website: samiesands.com

Facebook: @SamieSandsLockdown

Twitter: @SamieSands

Goodreads: @SamieSands

Instagram: @SamieSands

Wattpad: @SamieSands

About the Book

Title: LOTTIE LOVES
Author: Samie Sands
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Pages: 210
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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“Will you marry me?”

Four words I’ve waited my whole life to hear. Four words which I was sure would change my life forever, and it did. Just not in the way I thought it would.

Finding out that my extremely gorgeous rock star boyfriend was about to propose, had the complete opposite effect I thought it would. Rather than catapult me into a future I’ve always wanted, it plunged me all the way back to a past I tried to forget.

Now I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t help but wonder what could have been, how our lives would have ended up if he didn’t leave me behind a shattered mess.

All these memories of the past are dangerous. It’s bringing my past back to ruin my future. And worst of all, it’s taking me right back to him, my childhood sweetheart, my first love…my biggest regret.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon

Book Excerpt:

“Will you marry me?”

It was the words that I’d wanted to hear my entire life. Didn’t every girl fantasise over the perfect man going to buy the perfect ring and getting down on one knee in the most romantic way possible, before telling them that they loved them so much, they wanted to spend the rest of their life with them?

I knew that I certainly had.

Me and my best friend Cici used to talk about it all the time. We used to plan our dresses, the music, the flowers—every part of the ceremony down to the very last detail. Of course, the man didn’t really matter. We were young enough and naive enough to believe that we would magically meet the perfect man without even trying.

And I really thought that I had. I really, truly believed that my dream had come true.

Me and Danny had begun our love story in a very typical fashion—our eyes had met across a bar, where we’d had long, lingering eye contact, sparking all kinds of emotions within me. The only difference between my story, and that of every other rom-com ever, was that Danny was a genuine up-and-coming rock star, playing on a fairly big stage, and I was a fan who already felt a lot of love for this man. I’d been admiring him from afar ever since I first heard their album a year or so before.

I certainly hadn’t expected it to ever go any further than that moment, so when he came and joined me at the bar later on for a drink, despite being mobbed by other members of the audience, I felt like my entire life had been leading me up to that moment. I felt like everything that I’d experienced was all drawing me closer to Danny, the love of my life. Here was a gorgeous man who was destined to be famous, and who could have any girl in the world hanging off of his arm, talking to me, asking me questions, and actually showing me interest.

It seemed like a dream—one that I was terrified to wake up from.

As he flicked his messy auburn hair from his warm, chocolaty eyes and he gave me that smile that had already melted the hearts of the nation, I thought for a dreaded, wonderful second that he was going to kiss me in front of all of those people. But after a few beats of pure terror, he didn’t. Instead he handed me his phone number, and he asked if I would like to go on a date with him.

Me—boring old Charlotte (Lottie) Jones—on a date with Danny Boreom, bassist of the (now very) famous band Jax. It didn’t seem real.

Yet, it was real, and it did happen.

It was the start of my real life.

After a night out on the town where he well and truly wined and dined me, he walked me home to my tiny flat which must have looked ridiculous compared to the mansion that I now know he lived in with the rest of the band at the time, and he finally kissed me. As his lips met mine, I felt myself flying on top of the world—he was an amazing kisser, and there seemed to be an endless chemistry between us. One that I never wanted to end.

Breathless and turned on by the power of his mouth, I invited him inside. Although he coolly and calmly turned me down, it was still the best night of my entire life, made even better by a phone call the next day to say that he only didn’t come inside with me because he wanted to be something real. He didn’t want our love to end at a one-night stand, he actually wanted us to develop and for him to become my boyfriend.

Fast forward three and a half years and we were blissfully living together, grazing by every day happily and easily. Although he was away for a lot of the year touring, it didn’t seem to bother us. We were so strong and so solid with what we had, that nothing would get in our way.

It was perfect, still a dream come true and that intense chemistry hadn’t burned down one bit.

Which made it even weirder that my reaction to Cici telling me that Baz—another member of the band—had just told her that he’d been engagement ring shopping with Danny, wasn’t one of pure joy.

“What…what do you mean?” I asked, my heart racing frantically in my chest. I could tell that my voice was breathless and kind of terrified, but my mind was spinning too fast for me to be able to do anything about it.

“Aren’t you happy?” She giggled, “I thought that you’d be over the moon to finally be Mrs. Boreom.”

“No, no, I am,” I half lied. The idea had always been at the edge of my thoughts. I knew that Danny was the one for me, and despite all the car crash relationships around us, we’d even managed to survive the fallout of him becoming mega famous. It helped that I had no interest in the spotlight and that I did everything I could to avoid it, but even despite all of that, I felt like it proved that we could go the distance, and be together forever. So why wasn’t I excited for us to take the next step? “It’s just a bit of a shock, that’s all.”

But that was normal, right? Everyone freaked out at first when they learned that they were going to become someone’s wife…didn’t they?

Of course, I already knew that wasn’t true. I’d already been proposed to once in my life before, and that time, I didn’t hesitate one bit. Panic didn’t even come into the equation, I was happy, over the moon at the thought of becoming his wife. This was nothing like that had been. I felt completely different.

For the first time in a very long time, I allowed myself to think about Joe again, and almost the second that I allowed that vault to open in my mind, I felt myself fall into a tailspin. As his face filled my brain once more, it was almost as if the last five years hadn’t happened at all, and that I was still his proud girlfriend, waiting to be his wife.

As the wound reopened, I could barely hear what Cici was saying to me. I felt like I was gaping, exposed, and extremely vulnerable all over again, and I did what I’d always done when I was younger, when things got too difficult for me. I started to talk to Joe in my mind.

Where are you now?

What became of you?

What happened to your life?

It was so strange to have gone from the closest people in the world, to absolutely nothing, and I struggled to imagine that he’d changed one bit. Of course I had, my life was completely different, but I couldn’t think of Joe without viewing him as the other half of me. The boy that I’d adored, and the one that I never thought would leave my side.

“I…I’ve got to go,” I finally announced to my friend. “I’ll speak to you later, okay?” And then I hung up the phone, without even waiting for her to answer. I knew that I was being rude, acting more than a little strange, but I needed some time. I needed to be alone with my thoughts to try and process all of this.

So quite how I found myself sitting at my computer with my fingers running along the keys, I wasn’t quite sure.

Don’t press anything, I willed myself. As soon as you do, everything will change.

Since we had gone our separate ways, I hadn’t contacted Joe once, and with the uprising of social media I hadn’t looked him up either. I just couldn’t face it. He was like an imaginary fantasy in my mind now, and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to ruin that with reality. What if he was married now? Or into drugs or something? His life could have gone in any direction, and I wasn’t sure that I really wanted to find out which one.

Plus, my life really was amazing now. Why would I want to even consider risking that? I had a gorgeous, passionate man who actually wanted to be with me forever, even though he was about ten leagues above me, I had a teaching job that I loved, and friends that would do anything for me. That was a hell of a lot more than most people had!

In the end I forced myself to stand up and to move away from the computer screen before it lured me in. I couldn’t do it; I just wasn’t willing to take that step into the unknown. It terrified me far too much. But as I wandered aimlessly from room to room, I realised that I couldn’t just do nothing either. I needed to calm this beast within me, which meant delving into my past whether I liked it or not.

I stood at the bottom of the attic ladder, wondering what awaited me up there. When me and Danny decided to buy a place together—well, he put the most money in of course, but we still classed it as ‘ours’—I shoved everything related to my old life away, not wanting to even consider it. But it was always a comfort, knowing that it was there, knowing that I could access it at any moment if I really wanted to.

And I could feel myself finally taking that step.

I creaked up the ladder, feeling my heart thump and my palms sweat with nerves. This was a mistake, I knew it was, but at the same time I couldn’t stop.

There would be no way for me to get married without taking this step anyway. Right now, things were comfortable, but if I was ever going to have a future with Danny, I needed to consult my past first. At least, that was my excuse and I was sticking to it.

Danny knew about Joe anyway. Well, he’d been told some of it, the very basics, so I supposed that I was probably going to have to confess all before we finally took the plunge. With that thought in mind, I tore open the first box I stumbled across, and I ended up looking at the few photographs that I had of me and Joe when we were very young, when we very first met…

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VBT – THE SPECTER OF THE INDIAN

The Specter of the Indian banner

 

Title:
THE SPECTER OF THE INDIAN: RACE, GENDER, AND GHOSTS IN AMERICAN SEANCES, 1848 – 1898
Author: Kathryn A. Troy
Publisher: SUNY Press
Pages: 200
Genre: Historical Nonfiction

The Specter of the Indian unveils the centrality of Native American spirit guides during the emergent years of American Spiritualism. By pulling together cultural and political history; the studies of religion, race, and gender; and the ghostly, Kathryn Troy offers a
new layer of understanding to the prevalence of mystically styled Indians in
American visual and popular culture. The connections between Spiritualist print
and contemporary Indian policy provide fresh insight into the racial dimensions
of social reform among nineteenth-century Spiritualists.
Troy draws fascinating parallels between the contested belief of Indians as fading from the world, claims of returned
apparitions, and the social impetus to provide American Indians with a means of
existence in white
America. Rather than vanishing from national sight and memory, Indians and their ghosts are shown to be ever present. This book transports the readers into dimly lit parlor rooms and darkened cabinets and lavishes them with detailed séance accounts in the words of those who witnessed them. Scrutinizing the otherworldly whisperings heard therein highlights the voices of mediums and those they sought to channel, allowing the author to dig deep into Spiritualist belief and practice. The influential presence of Indian ghosts is made clear and undeniable. 

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The Vanished Return
In her 1885 book Life
and Labor in the Spirit World
, Mary Shelhamer, the sitting medium for the
primary Spiritualist journal the Banner
of Light,
recounted her visit to the ghostly realm. “Beyond [a] rolling
river,” she wrote, “there is a deeply-wooded country. Here you are up high
among the mountains; this is the red man’s home […] it is a refuge for the
poor, hunted and despised Indian, who, fleeing from mortal chains, finds
therein rest and peace.”[1]
Her description of Indians as figures in flight, as members of a dying race,
was by the late nineteenth century a common one. For many white Americans,
Indians were, for the most part, already a thing of the past. They appeared
constantly in popular culture as figures of legend and literature, but real
Indians were primarily perceived as living relics—faint reminders of a vanished
people. But to nineteenth-century Spiritualists, Indians had never completely
gone; the ghosts of Indian dead walked among them. The proclaimed presence of
Indian spirits in American séances challenged the dominant discourse of Indians
as vanished, and had a profound impact not only on the Spiritualist movement,
but also on some of the most important debates of the day—those on race,
gender, civilization and the development of an American national character.
            This book
explores the spectral appearances of Indians in late nineteenth-century
American séances in relation to those national debates, and analyzes the
importance of such apparitions on several levels—racial, gendered, religious
and political. It demonstrates the overwhelming pervasiveness of this sorely
understudied phenomenon as a central social element of the Spiritualist
movement. The project establishes how the witnessing of Indian spirits affected
American minds and the reception of federal Indian policy by influencing
concepts of racial difference and socio-political hierarchy.
            The heart
of my analysis examines the racial elements unique to the spiritual
manifestations of Indians, as well as how American Spiritualists utilized the
Indian spirits they claimed to encounter as sources of political empowerment—as
agents of peace between whites and Indians, as models of sexual difference, and
as guides to spiritual progression for both races. Spiritualists understood
Indian ghosts to appear in séances with a mission to fulfill: to help ensure
the inner illumination of Spiritualists, to support white attempts at social
reform, and to serve as sources of strength to the female mediums they
possessed. They acted as mediators between the material and spiritual realms,
providing essential information about the condition and means of progression
through the several spiritual spheres, and communicating the temperament and
will of the supreme deity commonly referred to as the Great Spirit. Through
Indian spirit appearances, Spiritualists were apprised of the Great Spirit’s
attitude regarding social and political issues, such as the actions to be taken
regarding Indian nations, political equality for women, or the correct position
on congressional policies. The presence, strength, and support of Indian ghosts
were recognized as contributing to the efforts and accomplishments of
Spiritualists to create a “heaven on earth” that reflected the enlightened
position of spirits.
            These
spirits did not manifest predominantly as nostalgic symbols of a vanishing
race. They appeared frequently in the 1860s to 1880s, when the United
States was almost constantly at war with
Indian nations, when debates about what to do with Indians raged, and when the
future of the North American West was anything but certain. They did not simply
appear as Indians who were better off dead in the Happy Hunting Ground,
assuaging white guilt about conquests and an imagined vanishing, as has been
suggested by many historians—such as Alan Trachtenberg in his writing of
fictionalized Indians, Jared Farmer in his discussion of legends representing
Indians as ghostly and most pointedly Molly McGarry in her chapter on Indian
spirits.[2]
Indian spirits were also not categorized on the whole as being from the distant
past and thus safely nonthreatening.[3]
            Spiritualists
saw Indian ghosts as awakening public outrage and inciting political opposition
against the wars waged by the United States
on Indians, causing Spiritualists to question government objectives in the
West. Spiritualist publications vehemently denounced the Sand Creek Massacre of
1864, George Custer’s invasion of the Black Hills and
the duplicity and corruption of American Indian policy, as exemplified in the
Ponca Affair of the 1870s and multiple reports on dismal reservation
conditions. Spiritualists recognized the support of Indian ghosts for peace
policies and political equality, and the efforts of Spiritualists to restore
what they felt their country, allegedly superior in religion and civilization,
had lost—its sense of honor. They were not simply utilized as servants of the
mediums who conjured them; they were praised as guides and instructors, helping
to ensure the nation’s spiritual future. When Spiritualists closely followed
the development of the Indian Peace Commission in 1867, the rise and decline of
Ulysses S. Grant’s Peace Policy, the success of “civilized” tribes like the
Cherokee, the Carlisle and Hampton Institutes and the implementation of the
Dawes Severalty Act in 1887, they believed they were both heeding ghostly
warnings and working to rebuild the pride of their nation. These major events
in American/Indian relations are linked in this project to the intensity of
Indian spectral appearances and their centrality to the Spiritualist movement’s
contemporary development, serving as the basis for the powerful trop of the
“Indian spirit guide,” which persists today.
            A deeper
analysis than those by previous scholars of the manifestations themselves
reveals the complex and sometimes conflicting nature of such phenomena.
Scrutiny of the methods, acknowledgements, and purposes of Indian
manifestations opens wide a door to a much richer understanding of how the
intellectual and professional classes that comprised the foundation of
Spiritualist Movement constantly redefined and integrated the concept of “Indian”
into a society structured by racial and sexual difference. The notion of
Indianness that emerged from Spiritualist séances advocated a politically
non-racial society, whereby Indians could and should become American citizens,
and incorporated gender models that undermined contemporary definitions of
manliness as positively linked to violence.
            In using
such terms as “Indian spirits,” I refer to manifestations witnessed by
Spiritualists in which they claimed to see Indians, including cases of
specifically named Indians, as well as those “Indianness” derived solely from
Spiritualist identification. The ways in which Indian celebrities were
authenticated and nameless “Indians” were recognized both reflected how
“Indianness” as a scientific racial category was understood and constructed in
the Spiritualist arena and, I posit, were reflective of broader American
cultural attitudes. The actual presence of Indian spirits at nineteenth-century
séances is neither accepted nor denied in this book. It is only relevant that
Spiritualists accepted their experiences as truth. To assert at the onset that
all Spiritualists were knowing frauds is risky and counterproductive. Such
evaluations invite statements like those of Lisa Lenker, who in her research
connected her discussion of Spiritualism with Manifest Destiny rhetoric as
supporting the ethnic cleansing of the American continent. Lenker asserted that
all Indian ghosts were simply and happily dead (not undead, as the term “ghost”
suggests).[4]
The ghosts of Indians will often be described throughout this book from the
perspective of the Spiritualists themselves—as distinct historical actors. To
believers, these specters spoke, made claims and issued warnings. Writing about
their alleged activity in such a way allows this book to delve into the
responses and reactions of Spiritualists who believed these apparitions to be
intelligent, active agencies. This approach to describing spectral activity is
offset by the simultaneous focus on specific individuals deeply involved with
Indian apparitions, including the mediums Jennie Lord, Mary Shelhamer, Fannie
Conant, and Cora Tappan.
            Placing
Spiritualist manifestations at the center of this project, essentially shifting
the focus onto non-entities, is a somewhat unorthodox approach to the study of
history, and has not been the practice employed by other scholars of
Spiritualism. Yet doing so allows the incorporation of a body of literature on
ghostliness and hauntings that is central to this project. Such scholarship has
to this point been absent from Spiritualist studies, strangely so given that
the movement, at its core, was about communicating with the dead. Rather than
referring to these manifestations only as spirits from the celestial realm or
as the products of an American imagination, I abstain from judgment on their
existence. By using the labels that Spiritualists themselves did—ghosts of the
dead returned to life—I employ a lexicon of definitions that are critical to
understanding the full significance of Spiritualist encounters with such
phenomena. “Ghosts” are undead—uncanny, temporal disruptions that appear in
specific ways at specific times to deliver a message. Communication by such
entities conveys information about an obscured past occurrence. To the witness
of such phenomena, the presence of the ghost is made clear through a distinct
sensory experience, its disruption of logical time remedied only by listening
to what the ghost wants and providing it with satisfaction. It is with these
terms in mind, originating predominantly in fictive, psychological and
paranormal studies, that I look upon séance activities of nineteenth-century America.
In his work on literary hauntings of America
during the first half of the century (the period of federally sanctioned Indian
removal), Renee Bergland rightly suggested that representations of Indian
ghosts simultaneously established and questioned an intangible American
nationality, as well as racial and sexual classifications.[5] Examining how the
Indian spirits of séances contributed to changing definitions of race and
gender is the main thrust of this project.
            Organized
by theme rather than time, the chapters included in this book cover the nature
of Spiritualist hauntings marked as specifically Indian, and the questioning
and redefinition of masculinity, femininity, and morality as linked to national
progress that took place within séance circles beginning in the 1850s and
continuing throughout the 1880s. This timeframe will be repeated in each
chapter as different aspects of Indian hauntings are visited. A majority of
works on Spiritualism have chosen to narrow their scope to the earlier,
formative years of the movement. Studies about the Fox Sisters or Andrew
Jackson Davis, for example, emphasize the Spiritualism of the 1850s as
definitive of the entire movement. Bret Carroll highlighted the 1850s as an
emergent period, as did Howard Kerr.[6] Such an approach is
not appropriate here. The frequency with which Indian manifestations were
recorded was fairly comparable from the 1850s through the 1880s, peaking during
the 1860s and 1870s. The decline that Burton Brown said occurred in the 1870s
is not borne out by the increased frequency of Indian apparitions.[7]
The seemingly consistent presence of Indian ghosts at séances serves in part to
bolster my argument that Indian ghosts were a defining characteristic of
Spiritualist practice from its inception, and makes discussion of the movement
through the course of the century imperative to my efforts. Both Indian policy
and Spiritualism evolved in the twentieth century, and continue to do so, but
analysis of such changes is beyond the scope of this book. My intention is to
demonstrate how spiritual tropes of Indianness developed on the crest of
Spiritualism in tandem with dramatic change in Indian visibility in the public
eye.
            My focus on
recorded instances of Indian specters also determines to a large degree the
emphasis on certain sources at the expense of others. While myriad articles,
pamphlets, treatises and monographs by Spiritualists provide this project with
a contextual foundation for their beliefs, as well as Indian manifestations,
the recording of Indian ghosts emerged predominantly in certain forms of
Spiritualist print—namely, their periodicals. Newspapers played a critical role
in the development and dispersion of representations of Indians that saturated
nineteenth-century American culture and continue to do so.[8]
The majority of writing on such phenomena appeared in the Religio-Philosophical Journal and Banner of Light; these sources are therefore dominant forces in
this project. My use of Banner of Light
in this book works somewhat as a centralizing force in a movement which had
none, and provides a modicum of order to the cacophony of Spiritualist voices. Banner of Light takes on an added
significance in my research because of its extensive coverage of Indian
affairs. The development of the Indian Peace Commission, the Modoc War, the
Ponca Affair, and the violation of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie were all
covered and editorialized in the weekly journal, receiving consistent attention
in a periodical ostensibly dedicated to matters of the spirit. The amount of
space accorded to such news should not continue to be overlooked in the
analysis of Spiritualist print. The longevity of the Banner of Light, enjoying an approximately fifty-year run, speaks
once again to the pervasiveness within Spiritualism of this very specific
racial phenomena.[9]
            Geographically
speaking, this project views Spiritualism as a national movement in a broad sense,
with loci of activity in New York
and Boston. As the sites of some of
the first violent contests with Indian nations, the northeastern states have a
well-developed “penchant for hauntedness,” as Judith Richardson claimed,
“alongside a more enduring popular interest in ghosts and the supernatural.”[10]
Local variations of Spiritualism did not seem to have a significant impact on
Indian spectrality, and so has been omitted from this project. The one
exception to that is the Spiritual culture of New Orleans.
The connection between this city’s history and the spirit of Black Hawk will be
discussed in Chapter Two.  Likewise,
while there are many significant connections to be made with contemporary
Spiritualist movements across the globe, this project’s focus is on American
Indian ghosts within American Spiritualism, and the resulting effect on
American society. This intention, juxtaposed with the virtual absence of
similar phenomena in Europe, justifies the exclusion of
such a discussion in this work. The references to Britain’s
literary gothic tradition are brief, and useful only in demonstrating
Spiritualism’s place among the gothic tradition of the western world. European
Spiritualism is beyond the scope of this book. Additionally, this project is
not about Indian spirituality in its own right, as there were no significant
efforts on the part of Spiritualists to understand or incorporate Indian
religions into their own belief system. Their interest in native spirituality
extended to generalized ideas about animism and a natural Romanticism, which
will be addressed in Chapter Four.
            The
remainder of this introduction will serve several functions. It provides a
background on aspects of Spiritualist theology that are essential to
understanding the arguments made in this project, a discussion of Spiritualism
and Indian hauntings in context with changes in federal Indian policy, a brief
summary of the key goals and themes of each chapter, and a few words about the
bodies of scholarship most directly engaged and built upon in this book.


            [1]Mary
Theresa Shelhamer, Life and Labor in the
Spirit World: Being a Description of Localities, Employments, Surroundings, and
Conditions in the Spheres by Members of the Spirit-Band of Miss M.T. Shelhamer,
Medium of the Banner of Light Public Free Circle
(Boston: Colby & Rich,
1885), 85-86.
            [2]Alan
Trachtenberg, Shades of Hiawatha: Staging
Indians, Making Americans 1880-1930
(
New York: Hill & Wang, 2004), 19; Jared
Farmer, On
Zion’s
Mount: Mormons, Indians and the American Landscape
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2008), 312;
Molly McGarry, Ghosts of Futures Past:
Spiritualism and the Cultural Politics of Nineteenth-Century America
(
Berkeley: California University Press, 2008), 73.
            [3]McGarry,
72; Robert Berkhofer, The White Man’s
Indian: Images of the American Indian from Columbus to the Present
(New
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978), 90.
            [4]Lisa
Lenker, “Haunted Culture and Surrogate Space: A New Historicist Account of
Nineteenth-Century American Spiritualism” (PhD diss., Stanford University,
1998), 30.
           [5]Renee
L. Bergland, The National Uncanny: Indian
Ghosts and American Subjects
(
Hanover: Dartmouth, 2000), 7.
            [6]Bret
Carroll, “Unfree Spirits: Spiritualism and Religious Authority in Antebellum
America” (PhD diss., Cornell University, 1991),
25. Howard Kerr, Mediums, Spirit Rappers
and Roaring Radicals: Spiritualism in American Literature, 1850-1900
(
Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1973).
            [7]Burton Gates Brown Jr., “Spiritualism in
Nineteenth-Century
America” (PhD diss., Boston University Graduate
School, 1973).
[8]John Coward, The Newspaper Indian: Native American Identity in the Press, 1820-90
(Chicago: Illinois University Press, 1999), 11.
            [9]The Banner of Light is regarded as the most
widespread of Spiritualist periodicals. According to Sally Morita, by 1860 the
periodical had a circulation of approximately 25,000. Ann Taves, Fits, Trances and Visions: Experiencing
Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James
(Princeton:
Princeton University Press, 1999), 184; Sally Jean Morita, “Modern Spiritualism
and Reform in
America” (PhD diss., University of Oregon,
1995), 78.
[10] Judith Richardson, Possessions: The History and Uses of Haunting in the Hudson
Valley
(Cambridge and London: Harvard University Press 2005), 39.

 

Kathryn Troy is giving away 2 sets
of spiritual postcards and 2 Ouija design tote bags!

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  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • Four winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter
  • This giveaway ends midnight September 29.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on September 30.
  • Winners have 48 hours to reply.
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Kathryn Troy has two Master’s Degrees in History from Stony Brook University.
She contributed to the anthology The Spiritualist Movement published by Prager in August 2013, and teaches at Farmingdale State College and Suffolk County Community College.
In her spare time she pours all she knows about the ghostly and supernatural
into her fiction writing.

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Pre-order Blitz – ONE SUMMER NIGHT

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About the Author

Caridad Pineiro

Caridad Pineiro is a transplanted Long Island girl who has fallen in love with pork roll and the Jersey Shore, but still can’t get the hang of tomato pies. When Caridad isn’t taking long strolls along the boardwalk to maintain her sanity and burn off that pork roll, she’s also a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author with over a million books sold worldwide. Caridad is passionate about writing and helping others explore and develop their skills as writers. She is a founding member of the Liberty States Fiction Writers and has presented workshops at the RT Book Club Convention, Romance Writers of America National Conference as well as various writing organizations throughout the country.

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About the Book

One Summer Night

Title: ONE SUMMER NIGHT
Author: Caridad Pineiro
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BOOK BLURB

An offer that’s impossible to accept . . .

Maggie Sinclair has tried everything to save her family’s business, including mortgaging their beloved beach house on the Jersey Shore. But now, she’s out of options.

The Sinclair and Pierce families have been neighbors and enemies for almost thirty years. That hasn’t stopped Owen Pierce from crushing on Maggie, and he’s determined to invest in her success. Now he has to convince her that he’s more than just trouble with a capital T…

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Book Excerpt

Tracy Parker was in love with being in love.

That worried her best friend and maid of honor Maggie Sinclair more than she cared to admit.

In the middle of the temporary dance floor, Tracy waltzed with her new husband in a satin-and-lace designer gown, gleaming with seed pearls and twinkling sequins. But the sparkle dimmed in comparison to the dreamy glow in Tracy’s eyes.

The sounds of wedding music competed with the gentle rustle of seagrasses in the dunes and the crash of the waves down on the beach. The fragrance from centerpiece flowers and bouquets battled with the kiss of fresh sea air.

Connie and Emma, Tracy’s two other best friends and members of the bridal party, were standing beside Maggie on the edge of the dance floor that had been set up on the great lawn of Maggie’s family’s beachfront mansion on the Jersey Shore. Huddled together, Maggie and her friends watched the happy couple do a final whirl.

“She’s got it so bad,” Maggie said, eyeing Connie and Emma with concern past the rim of her rapidly disappearing glass of champagne.

“Do you think that this time he really is The One?” Connie asked.

“Doubt it,” Emma replied without hesitation.

As the DJ requested that other couples join the happy newlyweds, Maggie and her friends returned to the bridal party dais set out on the patio. Grabbing another glass of champagne, Maggie craned her neck around the gigantic centerpiece piled with an almost obscene mound of white roses, ice-blue hydrangea, lisianthus, sheer tulle, and twinkling fairy lights and examined the assorted guests mingling around the great lawn and down by the boardwalk leading to the beach.

She recognized Tracy’s family from their various meetings over the years, as well as some of Tracy’s sorority sisters, like Toni Van Houten, who in the six years since graduation had managed to pop out a trio of boys who now circled her like sharks around a swimmer. Although the wedding invite had indicated No Children, Toni had done as she pleased. Since Tracy had not wanted a scene at her dream beachfront wedding, Emma, who was doing double duty as the wedding planner for the event, had scrambled to find space for the children at the dinner tables.

“Is that Toni ‘I’ll never ruin my body with babies’ Toni?” Connie asked, a perplexed look on her features.  At Maggie’s nod, Connie’s eyes widened in surprise, and she said, “She looks…happy.”

A cynical laugh erupted from Emma. “She looks crazed.”

Maggie couldn’t argue with either of their assessments. But as put-upon as their old acquaintance seemed, the indulgent smile she gave her youngest child was positively radiant.

Maggie skipped her gaze across the gathering to take note of all the other married folk. It was easy enough to pick them out from her vantage point on the dais where she and her friends sat on display like days’ old cakes in the bakery. They were the last three unmarried women in an extended circle of business and college acquaintances.

“How many times do you suppose we’ve been bridesmaids now?” Maggie wondered aloud. She finished off her glass and motioned for the waiter to bring another.

“Jointly or severally?” asked Connie, ever the lawyer.

“Way too many,” replied Emma, who, for a wedding planner, was the most ardent disbeliever in the possibility of happily ever afters.

Maggie hadn’t given marriage a first thought, much less a second, in a very long time. She’d had too many things going on in her life. Not that there hadn’t been a few memorable moments, most of which revolved around the absolutely worst man for her: Owen Pierce.

But for years now, she’d been dealing with her family’s business and its money problems, which had spilled over into her personal finances. As she gazed at the beauty of the manicured grounds and then back toward her family’s summer home, it occurred to her that this might be the last time she hosted a celebration like this here. She had mortgaged the property that she had inherited to funnel money into the family’s struggling retail store division.

Unfortunately, thanks to her father’s stubborn refusal to make changes to help the business, she spent way too much time at work, which left little time for romance. Not to mention that none of her casual dates had piqued her interest in that direction. Looking down from her perch, however, and seeing the happiness on so many faces suddenly had her reconsidering the merits of married life.

“Always a bridesmaid and never a bride,” she muttered, surprising herself with the hint of wistfulness in her tone.

“That’s because the three of us are all too busy working to search for Prince Charming,” Connie said, her defense as swift and impassioned as if she were arguing a case in court.

“Who even believes in that fairy-tale crap?” Emma’s gaze grew distracted, and she rose from her chair. “Excuse me for a moment. Carlo needs to see me about something.”

Emma rushed off to the side of the dance floor, where her caterer extraordinaire, Carlo Teixeira, raked a hand through his thick brown hair in clear frustration. He wore a pristine white chef’s jacket and pants that enhanced his dark good looks.

Emma laid a hand on Carlo’s forearm and leaned close to speak to him, apparently trying to resolve a problem.

“She doesn’t believe in fairy tales, but her Prince Charming is standing right in front of her,” Connie said with a sad shake of her head.

Maggie took another sip of her champagne and viewed the interaction between Carlo and Emma. Definitely major sparkage going on, she thought.

“You’re totally right,” she said with an assertive nod.

Connie smiled like the proverbial cat, her exotic green-gold eyes gleaming with mischief. “That’s why you hired me to represent your company as soon as I finished law school. Nothing gets past me.”

“Really? So what else do you think you’ve seen tonight?”

Raising her glass, her friend gestured toward the right of the mansion’s great lawn where some of the fraternity brothers from their alma mater had gathered. One of the men slowly turned to sneak a peek at them.

“Owen has been watching you all night long,” Connie said with a shrewd smile.

“Totally impossible, and you of all people should know it. Owen Pierce has absolutely no interest in me.”

She set her glass on the table to hide the nervous tremble of her hand as her gaze connected with his for the briefest of moments. Even that fleeting link was enough to raise her core temperature a few degrees. But what woman wouldn’t respond like that?

In his designer tuxedo, Owen was the epitome of male perfection—raven-black hair, a sexy gleam in his charcoal-gray eyes, broad shoulders, and not an ounce of fat on him, which made her recall seeing him in much, much less on a hot summer night on Sea Kiss Beach. She had been staying in the quaint seaside town on the Jersey Shore with her grandmother that summer, much as she had all her life. As they also had for so many years, the Pierce boys had been residing next door for the entire season.

The two beachfront mansions had been built side by side decades earlier, before the start of the Pierce and Sinclair rift. The cost of waterfront real estate had escalated so drastically since their construction that neither family was willing to sell their beloved home to put some distance between the warring clans.

Well, make that the warring fathers, because as far as Maggie was concerned, she had no beef with Owen. They had played together down on the beach as kids. She couldn’t count the many sand castles they’d built or the time they’d spent out in the surf.

But after her mother had died, things had changed, and the carefree spirit of those halcyon days had disappeared. The Pierce boys had stopped coming down to the Shore for the next few years, and combined with the loss of her mom, it had created an emptiness inside her that hadn’t really gone away.

By the time the Pierce brothers returned  years later, the feud had gotten worse, and Owen and Jonathan had been instructed to stay away. But an ill-timed and half-drunk kiss with Owen on a moonlit summer night had proved that staying away was impossible. It had also helped the emptiness recede for a bit. Since then, fate had seemed to toss them together time and time again in both their business and personal lives, keeping alive her fascination with him. She felt not quite so alone when he was around, not that she should get used to that.

Owen Pierce had left her once before when she’d needed his friendship the most: right after her mother’s death. His on-again, off-again presence in her life proved that she couldn’t count on him.

Owen stood next to his younger brother, Jonathan, who couldn’t be more different. While Owen was clean-cut and corporate, Jonathan had the scruffy hipster look going on. It was appealing in its own way, but not to her.

“Trust me, Maggie. Your families might be at war, but Owen would clearly love to sleep with the enemy,” Connie said.

She blew out a frustrated sigh. “More reason to avoid him. You know I’m not the kind to sleep around.”

Emma returned, color riding high on her cheeks, but not in a good way.

“Something wrong?” Maggie asked.

Emma kneeled between the two of them and whispered, “It seems the groom had a bit too much to drink and Tracy caught him being hands-on with an old flame.”

“Not Amy? Tracy always lost it if she spotted him with Amy,” Maggie whispered.

“Definitely Amy. Now Tracy is refusing to come out and cut the cake. I have to say, this takes the cake, literally. Married a few hours, and already there’s trouble.”

“Ever the hopeful romantic, Em,” she kidded.

“If you think you can do better, why don’t the two of you come help me talk Tracy off the ledge?”

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VBT – Krait’s Redemption

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About the Book
Title: Krait’s Redemption
Author: T.L. Shreffler
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: September 12, 2017

5. Krait's Redemption COVER_small
With winter solstice fast approaching, Sora and her companions are running out of time. She must stop The Shade from awakening the Dark God, yet a powerful force has overtaken her Cat’s-Eye necklace, rendering the stone almost useless. To use the stone, Sora must learn to trust her instincts and embrace her own inner strength. She joins forces with unexpected allies, Lord Gracen Seabourne among them, to protect the City of Crowns. As the city dissolves into chaos, she finds herself barreling toward an epic battle that will decide the fate of mankind.

At risk to his own life, Crash returns to the Hive seeking aid against Cerastes. However, the events that led him into exile have not been forgotten. Will the Hive offer him redemption, or will they demand he pay the ultimate price for his transgressions?

Join Sora and Crash in their epic battle to save the City of Crowns!

Author Bio

tlshreffler
T. L. Shreffler is a noblewoman living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.

Website – http://www.catseyechronicles.com
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/catseyeauthor
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Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+TLShreffler
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/catseyeauthor/
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/catseyeauthor
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5138153
Amazon Author Page Link – https://www.amazon.com/T.-L.-Shreffler/e/B00AGIYQR4/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Pre-order available now!
AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/Kraits-Redemption-Cats-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B073NQCDGY
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KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sora-s-quest-the-cat-s-eye-chronicles-1
ITUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/kraits-redemption/id1264145659?mt=11

Giveaway

Win 1 signed copy of Krait’s Redemption, 1 Cat’s Eye Necklace or 1 free eBook copy of the book during our giveaway!
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EXCERPT

Prologue

Crash watched the bonfires in the distance.
Each day, more devotees swelled the Shade’s ranks. Shadow portals transported them from cities, from fields and mountains—from anywhere—to this forsaken desert. Nameless warriors pooled beneath a red plateau that towered in the twilight, blocking the moon.
An army of the lost, Crash thought. Their burning pyres beckoned to him like lighthouses on a foreign shore. But he had left those fires behind, walking miles into the flat desert to sit among the sand.
The Shade’s encampment might be in the Desert of Ester, but he wasn’t sure. His sense of certainty had fled long ago. He wondered at this unprecedented gathering. He wondered at the royal city’s evacuation, so close to winter solstice night.
He watched the fires glint against the darkness. He watched, and sat, and pondered. At first, Cerastes’ army had puzzled him. He didn’t know why a Grandmaster, typically a solitary figure concerned with martial discipline and meditation, would want to gather so many numbers. But now, as Crash became more firmly entrenched in the Shade’s activities, he knew what they were about. He had thought Cerastes meant to wage war against the human kingdom, but he was wrong.
Cerastes wanted the Hive.
Crash had realized the Grandmaster’s ambition when the assassin Cobra had issued his last dying words. It had all become suddenly, perfectly clear. Stop him. Cobra’s death had returned the arrow to Crash’s compass, and perhaps for the first time, he knew true north. He knew what he had to do.
He stood and walked away from the crimson fires on the horizon, behind an outcropping of rocks. There, he emptied a bag onto the ground. Ingredients for his spell, including a sheaf of yellowed parchment and fresh salamander ink, fell to the sand. He wrote the spell, then built a small fire out of venomgrass and willow bark. He drew symbols in the sand, and the flames turned indigo blue. Then he burned the paper with its written message. A wandering wind brushed the top of the dunes, carrying wafts of sand and smoke up to the stars.
He doused the fire when he was finished. Then, his black hood pulled low over his face, he sat on his heels to wait.
Redemption. A returning, a renewal. Would the Hive help him now, or would they hold him to his trespasses? Someone must answer, he thought. Someone must answer his call, his message burned on the wind, and someone must answer for his Grandmaster’s mistakes.
He thought back to Sora and the rest of his companions in the City of Crowns, and he felt ashamed. Under the influence of Cerastes’ power, he had wavered. His demon had sensed his Grandmaster’s dark aura, had sensed a home, and for a while, he had lost himself. But Sora’s touch—more than that, her words, her spirit—had brought him back.
He couldn’t fight Cerastes alone. He couldn’t trust his darker half to resist the Shade’s pull, because he, too, was a discarded outcast of the Hive. His Grandmaster’s demonic presence was irresistible, drawing close all those scattered savants with nowhere to belong. Crash had felt his own will tremble. Even now, he couldn’t quite steady his hands. He couldn’t show Sora his weakness. More importantly, he couldn’t show it to his own kind.
Someone had to do the right thing. The right thing, he thought ironically. Someone had to warn the Hive. Anyone who can read the Wind can read this message, he thought. He only hoped Cerastes was too distracted to see it.
Hours passed as he waited. The silence of the desert stretched, as spacious and echoing as a tomb. The stars and moon circled overhead, trailing across the heavens. He found the constellation of Kaelyn the Wanderer and asked, begrudgingly, for luck. Then his eyes picked out other celestial formations known to his race. He recounted their stories in his head: Sibilant, the assassin so stealthy and quiet, she could walk between this realm and the world of ghosts; Dartmouth, who replaced his teeth with knives; Marrow, so cunning he outsmarted the gods and stole the Dark God’s weapons in eons past. Crash found it ironic that, despite all that had transpired, a story could still lend him courage. And each star was a story, a light in the dark, a dream in the abyss.
The wind picked up without warning. A whirl of sand twisted up from the ground, building, growing. Then a figure stepped from the dust.
Crash stood up. He didn’t know what to expect.
The sand settled. A woman dressed in black stood before him. She was insidiously tall. Her hair fell in plaited rows down her back. He noted the chakrams at her belt: circular blades that could remove a man’s head with a single powerful throw. Her eyes glowed the shocking green of aloe.
Memory stirred, and he recognized her. He searched for her name. It came to him.
“Grandmaster Natrix,” he bowed.
“Viper,” she returned, and waited for him to straighten. “I have listened long for word of my brother. Tell me, what has Cerastes done?”

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