Monday, May 16, 2022

Wild Creek Whispers by Cindy Keen Reynders #Mystery


Wild Creek Whispers
Reese Golden Mysteries 
Book One
Cindy Keen Reynders

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Camel Press
Date of Publication: April 12, 2022
ISBN: 9781942078524
Number of pages: 256
Word Count: 70,302

Tagline: A little girl is missing; stolen in the night. Reese Golden, Wyoming PI, will search far into the backcountry wilderness to find the truth.

Book Description: 

After being shot on duty, former Denver Police officer, Reese Golden, starts a private investigator firm in her hometown of Meadowlark Valley, Wyoming. Easier cases like skip tracing individuals and performing background checks pay Reese’s bills, and keep her from becoming too emotionally involved. 

Skylar Ellington calls Reese one day, pleading for Reese’s help in locating her 4-year old daughter Daisy. Law enforcement and any other PIs Skylar has hired haven’t located the child’s whereabouts.

Reese feels compelled to accept the case. The next day, she drives up to Wild Creek Ranch near Sage, Wyoming to meet her new client. 

Skylar’s brother Chance and her mother Leyla dislike Reese’s arrival. They fear Skylar is wasting her money by hiring another PI; that she’s setting herself up for more disappointment.

Reese wonders if Chance and Leyla have something to hide. Also, could Daisy’s absent father be the kidnapper? Local townspeople suspect Skylar of doing something with her child in order to resume her single, party girl lifestyle. 

As Reese investigates potential leads and talks with the locals, she realizes she’s being followed. It’s obvious she’s being targeted by someone who doesn’t want the truth about Daisy to be discovered. 

Despite attempts to keep her emotions in check, Reese becomes entangled in the case. Her attempts to remain focused on her goals are interrupted by several close calls where she is nearly killed, and her growing attraction to Chance. The handsome cowboy touches her heart, yet leaves her suspecting his motives.

Amazon

Excerpt:

“Miss Golden, my daughter was kidnapped in back in June, and it’s killing me not knowing what happened to her,” Skylar said. “The police, the FBI and everyone else haven’t come up with anything. And I’d do anything to find her.”

“I read about the case in the newspaper,” Reese said recalling the article in the Meadowlark Valley Chronicle. “I’m so sorry.”

 “Daisy’s only four,” Skylar said, her voice trembling. “She must be confused and upset. She’s all I can think about night and day. Pl-please help me. Don’t turn me down. Otherwise, I think…I think I’ll go insane.”

Reese closed her eyes as Skylar’s plea plucked at her heart strings. Right now, she didn’t feel confident enough to take on a case of this magnitude. Yet, how could she turn away such a desperate plea?

About the Author:

Born in Portland, Oregon, Cindy has lived all over the United States and spent five years in Misawa, Japan. She has visited Canada, the Philippines, Samoa, Hawaii, both the western and eastern Caribbean and New Zealand.

Currently, she lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where Cheyenne Frontier Days is held each year. CFD’s well-known rodeo is often referred to as the “Daddy of ‘em all.”

Over the years, she has won or placed in various writing contests. She has also written for and edited numerous newsletters. Her non-fiction magazine articles have been featured in “True West” and “Wild West.” She was a book critic for Storyteller Alley and is a freelance editor.

Although retired from Laramie County School District 1’s Community Relations office, she still contributes articles for the district’s Public Schools’ Chronicle, which has a circulation of approximately 46,000 readers.

In April of 2022, Camel Press released her seventh published novel, “Wild Creek Whispers,” which is the first book in the Reese Golden mystery series about a Wyoming private investigator. From baby alligators to glow worms, Cindy has seen a variety of life’s wonders.

Website: http://www.cindykeenreynders.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/littlewing1959

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/cindykeenreynders

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cindy.k.reynders




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Poetry Corner with M. B. Sträng #Poetry #PoetryCorner


Unfurling
by M.B. Strang

I am curled up 
In the dark

Cold comfort
Wintering

I sense 
The sun’s light
And I reach for it

Unfurling
Stretching 

The light 
Of lengthening days

Leaves form
One at a time

I blossom 
And face the sun

I grow
The Wheel Turns
And we begin again



Arrow’s Flight
Knights of the Pearl Order 
Book One
M. B. Sträng

Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: 02/17/2022 
ISBN-13: 979-8418478887 
ISBN-13: 9781005631352 
ASIN:B09SP9R1YX 
Number of pages: 277
Word Count: 99,600 
Cover Artist: M.B. Strang

Book Description:

An unknown menace moves through the polite society of Pearl’s Holding. If not caught in time, it will bring down not just the hallowed Knights of the Pearl Order, but also everyone who lives and works with them. The answer lies with a young woman of mysterious origins whose life has been touched by tragedy. To fulfill her potential, she must confront her past and discover a future more amazing than she’d ever imagined and find the inner strength to fly.

She’s not alone. A handful of Knights, a hearthmage, and their magickal companions all test their physical and magickal limits to make things right before it’s too late. Otherwise, dark forces will overtake the Knights for good.


Excerpt:

Beads of sweat rolled into my eyes, and I used the back of my wrist to wipe my forehead as I continued to cut flesh from the lamb’s carcass. The task became difficult as my knife had dulled over the years, and there was no way to sharpen the blade. Scraping it over a rock seemed to make it worse, not better. Taking the animals thumped guilt into my heart, but I didn’t think that the people in the valley would miss them much and I was tired of eating fish. Only once had one of them ventured anywhere near my cave, but he never came close enough to find the bough-covered entrance. I hid, just like my mother said to do. The man soon left, but I’d stayed hidden for hours.

Rumbling filled my belly, and I sliced at the flesh with greater determination. Figuring out how to make fire had come naturally. As for the rest of it—what my parents could do, but I had not yet learned—well, Mama and Papa were not here to teach me. And besides, Mama said to keep it hidden. Some, especially the Brethren, would kill us for what we were.

“Mama said to hide.” I spoke out loud to myself. It had been a long time since I’d heard another voice, but at least I could hear my own. My cave was too far from the valley to hear the people there. The few times I ventured close to the hamlet, I heard their language was not my own native tongue. Suspecting I had lost some words, I spoke more often now, and practised all the languages I knew in order to not forget more, and so my throat wouldn’t lose the ability to speak. I talked to Mama and Papa, wishing they were here. I visited Mama out there in the woods. Just bones now. I had taken the arrow out of her ribs, broke off the shaft, and wore the arrowhead on a cord woven with her hair. It was my way of taking my mother with me, keeping her close.

Heat flushed my forehead. That had been happening more often lately. Despite the warmth in my brow, I shivered. Waves of dizziness washed over me. I finished with the lamb and cleaned the knife on a bit of parchment, one of several scraps I found floating down from the sky one day. A piece had drifted across my face, and I glanced up to see what appeared to be a book flying by. The dropped parchment was no less strange: ornate script scribbled all over in green ink. I had grown tired of trying to decipher the bizarre symbols, many of which different than any of the languages I had learned to read, and found other uses for the parchment pieces.

And now I used another sheet as a mop for my sweating head.

Sitting back on my heels, I clutched the arrowhead in my fist. Once more the events of that long-ago day forced themselves into my mind. That terrible day when a man appeared on the ridge. The sun behind cast him in silhouette, and we could not see his face. He wore the dull robes of the Brethren. They billowed, though there was no breeze. His limbs writhed and twisted and cloth rent as wings thrust out, the man’s body distorting until it resolved into a white wyrm, like a dragon but certainly not a dragon. A foul stench emanated from the beast, and I started to gag.

I saw my father struggling. I knew what he was trying to do, but he could not do it. I knew why my mother could not do it right now but why couldn’t my father? Before they had a chance to ready weapons, the wyrm flapped its leathery wings and issued a bone-jarring shriek. Lightning spewing from its terrible maw, past its narrow, gleaming teeth. That creature took flight, swooped down, snatched up my father in its talons, and carried him away.

“Teban!” My mother screamed my father’s name over and over that the word may reach his ears and give him hope. She fell to her knees, wracked with cries of anguish. Clasping me tightly, she held me for what seemed like a long time, both of us sobbing violently. At last, she gained control of her breath and said, “Quosa, I must go after him. I will get your father back. You must hide.” She stood, and shaking her head, she said, “It must be because of the signatures. That’s why he couldn’t—” Her words broke off as we saw another one of the Brethren approach. She screamed, “Hide!” as the man loosed the arrow that lodged in the middle of her chest.


About the Author:

M.B. Sträng has been happily married to Timothy for over 33 years and they are the proud parents of a Biologist who has earned a Master’s degree. M.B. recently worked at a domestic violence shelter, but now writes full time. She has black belts in two martial arts and occasionally teaches self-defence classes. She enjoys writing (of course), painting, drawing, sewing, and embroidery. At the age of 53, M. B. learned that she is autistic, and suddenly her whole life made sense. She fences with messers, longswords, sabres, and arming swords and bucklers fairly regularly at the Ann Arbor Sword Club, and is a Knight-Magister in the Order of Paladins. Arrow’s Flight is her first novel.









Gardening with the Belly Witch Diane Riis #InTheGarden #WitchinTheGarden



Hi there. Thanks so much for hosting me and offering one of my favorite topics to write about – gardening! I have a micro flower farm on Long Island,where my grandparents farmed a hundred years ago, selling veg and raising chickens.

Earth-based magic

I practice an earth-based spirituality, so putting my hands in the soil is healing and the source of great ideas. When I am struggling with something I get my hands dirty and ask Mother Earth for help. The calm is instantaneous, kneeling on the ground restores balance – and ideas or solutions come flowing in. Try it!

A Dirty Little Garden A-Ha

I want to write about my biggest gardening “aha,”which actually only came this year as I started to learn about permaculture. I want to spread the word on this because it’s something that most of us overlook: DIRT.

Well, not dirt so much as soil. Did you know the earth is actually losing soil every year? It’s hard to believe; where does it go? It runs off, erodes, is polluted, paved over and more. But soil is key to a garden (and a planet!)

Make dirt

When I first heard this I got serious about composting and I told everyone who would listen to do the same in order to make soil.

I still haven’t found the perfect counter-top compost container so I would love suggestions! You can send them to my farm website: www.yourvintageblooms.com. And thanks in advance!

Keep your compost close…

Composting issimple (a list of compostables is at the end of this post.) I use a vintage enamel pot which at least goes with my décor. I shouldn’t say this butget fruit flies in the summer and overflow in the winter. That’s because whatever season, it can be a drag to hike out to the field where the compost piles and bins are.After a long day writing, then working with writers, then gardening… I’m tired! So, word to the wise, keep yours close to the house so emptying it is not a hassle and you’ll keep doing it!

So, compost everyone!

You’ll save the planet (a little.) I used to think my mother was old fashioned and crazy for doing it. She was into “eco-action” before it was cool. None of the families around here did it. We were “weird” because we were an organic farm…a kid’s perspective on something I am so thankful for today.

Oy, back to my big aha:

As I tried to decide where to put my flowers, herbs and veg this year I realized was focusing on the wrong thing: the plant. We have to look at the whole system, starting with the SOIL.(At first I typo’d “soul” which sort of fits. The soil is the soul of the garden.)

My soil is depleted (probably yours is too unless you amend it a lot with humus, compost and mulch,) so what was I supposed to do? Dump fertilizer full of nitrogen? Bring in a ton of fresh soil from somewhere which could have all sorts of herbicides in it?

Permaculture is organic, so, no.

Did you know there’s no way to test for herbicides (but you can send a soil sample to your local Cooperative Extension and they’ll test it for you, but they won’t normally test for herbicides -- so ask.) AND even organic compost and bagged soil can be contaminated. The herbicides can come through the manure if the livestock has eaten corn, wheat, or anything that’s been treated.

This was cool: I taught the local Agway guy that! He’d never heard about herbicides in organic fertilizers, manures, mulch or potting soil. Now he knows.

What’s a witchy farmer to do?

I was really stressed.How to improve the soil if I can’t bring something in? I looked at the weedy mess of my soil. Thin, depleted, hardly a place to plant my precious little baby seedlings.

Then, at the height of my frustration: I was reading my permaculture sources and I discovered the answer.

I cried when it all came together…

Mother Nature has the solution and it’s built right in. It’s the weeds! The problem arrives with a solution! (Which looks like another problem, but isn’t.)

Nature knows what the soil needs. It restores the soil by growing weeds. In soil that is really lacking the weeds will be out of control. That’s because big medicine is needed. So, the solution to a depleted, weedy garden is this: don’t pull the weeds out. Trim them and leave the clippings to fertilize the earth. (Get them clipped before they go to seed though…)Plus, the roots will break up the soil, which aerates it and lets it retain more water too. Magic!

It all fits

It’ll take a while to enrich your garden naturally and organically but it’s a worthy investment. Over time you’ll have a rich soil with few weeds and healthy plants. In the meantime, compost for your own garden so you can keep things clean and safe for your plants and seeds.

Here’s a list of what to compost:

Table scraps that don’t contain oils or meat/chicken

Egg shells

Whatever you trim off produce, such as pineapple skin or orange peel

Coffee grounds

Tea bags

Expired cut flowers

Anything from your vegetable drawer that passed its prime, etc. soft broccoli you don’t want to eat

Shrimp shells

Corn cobs

Peanut shells

And outside, add these to your compost pile

Raked leaves

Cut grass (untreated)

Should you use garden clippings or the dead plants from your garden? Some say no, in order to prevent introducing pathogens or fungus into next year’s garden.

I used to say newspaper but now so many pages have color ink so I don’t recommend this anymore.

I hope this inspires you to literally save the earth!

Happy Gardening,

Diane Riis, The Belly Witch


Midnight Pages 
Mystical Inspiration and Writing Prompts for Writers, Insomniacs, and Night Owls 
Diane Riis 

Genre: Nonfiction, Self Help, Writing, Journal, Workbook 
Publisher: Earth and Soul Publishing
Date of Publication: Feb 2, 2022
ISBN: 9798985131000
Number of pages: 370
Word Count: 25,000

Cover Artist: Book Designer: Andrea Schmidt, a-schmidt.com

Tagline: The night has something to tell you.

Book Description: 

Midnight Pages is a workbook of magical prompts and creative writing exercises. It is also the antidote for anyone who has ever tried (and failed) to get up early to write morning pages. 

Embrace your nature! Whether you do your best work at night or you’re going through a bout of insomnia, you will deepen your writing practice and learn to listen to the voices of the night. 

Amazon


WRITING PROMPT From Midnight Pages:

Close your eyes. What do you hear, smell, taste? What do you sense at an energetic or intuitive level? Spend some real time. Find at least twenty-five things. When it gets hard to add to the list is when it gets interesting…”

Excerpt:

VIGILANTIA

Vigilantia: lying awake, sleepless, vigilance. The silence and stillness of midnight might feel suffocating, dense, and thick—heavy with foreboding. It might have you lying in bed, heart pounding, afraid of the dark.


Under the cloak of night, your hearing is heightened. Sounds startle you awake as you drowse. Your mind can ramp up: haunting memories, recriminations, regrets, and stuck thoughts keep you from your rest. Some “insights come up as well and sensations: the surge of adrenaline, pricklings on your neck. You might feel the weight of the dark bearing down on you or you notice movement in the shadows. Maybe you have the sense you’re being watched. Something lurks in the dark that’s imperceptible during the day. You might feel like you are not alone, and that subtle presence over your shoulder seems familiar. You wonder if it’s been there before, maybe even always. During the day, with music blaring and people talking, you just don’t perceive it. Ask what message all this has in store for you. Don’t reject what you hear. Don’t dismiss. Allow.

Night belongs to the spirits. –Proverb

About the Author:

Diane Riis is author of five books and owner of Earth and Soul Coaching and Publishing which works with Indie authors, writers and magical practitioners who want more joy in their lives. She is a metaphysical minister and witch offering spiritual direction (which is a process of reflecting on your journey and learning to observe how you participate in your personal spiritual framework.) She offers writing coaching and classes as well as High Vibe, Soul Deep writing workshops and retreats for women who understand the power of the collective. Rev. Dr. Diane owns and operates a remnant flower farm on Long Island, NY all the while raising dogs, cats, chickens and a boy.





 





Monday, May 9, 2022

How to Create Your Own Writer's Garden with Connor Coyne #InTheGarden #Gardening #WritersGarden



As a devout writer and a passionate gardener (you can swap those adjectives if you like), one of the great delights of the year is to bring these two loves together.

Writers and gardens have a long and storied history of hanging out together. More than 2,000 years ago, Cicero, the preeminent rhetorician of the Late Roman Republic famously wrote: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  More than 200 years ago, acerbic French philosopher Voltaire (controversially) concluded his raucous novel Candide with the words: “Let us cultivate our garden.”  More recently, poet May Sarton wrote that “gardening is an instrument of grace.”

However, writers need not love gardening and gardens in the abstract. Anyone willing to spend some time with their own “bit of earth” has the opportunity to create their own garden, whether they’re working with a Gothic mansion on the Yorkshire moors or a cramped, shared apartment in Chicago.



Here’s how it works:

1.   Choose Your Space

Gardens can work in a variety of spaces, from rolling meadows to splintery balconies. When thinking of a garden in general, you need to think above essential qualities, the most important being soil, light, and water. Your average backyard will take care of these three needs, so long as you choose and care for your plants suitably. It isn’t that much more difficult, however, to make other spaces work.  Many annuals and perennials need hours of sunlight each day, but it is just as easy to find choices happy with dappled light or even heavy shade.  If you don’t have a yard to dig in, some everyday terra-cotta pots and basins and potting soil can meet your needs.  To be sure, every choice requires consideration and accommodation.  Even shade-loving plants want some light, and potted plants will eventually outgrow their containers.  The point is that if you can claim a bit of space for yourself, you can make a garden.

The second consideration in choosing a space has to do with making your garden a “writers garden.”  You want a place with an intimate feel to it. An air of privacy and mystery, where your thoughts and imaginations can run wild, untrampled by the bustle and distraction of the world without. I think a great writers garden is a secret garden, not hidden away by lock and key, but begging for an introduction before would-be visitors get to know it.  In my sunny backyard, I claimed the narrow alley behind my garage and the neighbor’s fence for this purpose. When we moved here, this was used to pile unwanted brush and scrap out-of-sight, but after cleaning it up, planting some cool and friendly ferns and hostas, and hiding the entrance behind a blooming hibiscus, it feels delightfully solitary. So, look for places you might take-for-granted: an unwanted corner, an underused closet, a weedy grove, or any other tucked-away small space that is ignored because it might seem more trouble than its worth.

2.  Plant Your Garden

Do your homework before you buy seeds or hit the nursery. Some plants are a lot of work and others take care of themselves.  Some might even take too good care of themselves, running rampant over their neighbors (I’m looking at you creeping Jenny!).  Make sure not only that the plants you choose are suitable for the space you have chosen, but that you are ready to provide them with the care they need.

Remember, your writers garden is a place to defeat distraction and stimulate your imagination.  It should be the kind of place that makes you set down your phone so you can daydream.  Don’t be afraid to indulge your senses for this goal.  Zinnias and marigolds are hardy classics that pack a visual punch. Plants with vibrant foliage, like coleus and caladium won’t survive winters in a northern climate, but they are affordable enough to treat as annuals. Sometimes, people overlook the power of scent in favor of color, but nothing is as stirring and poignant as the mid-spring kiss of hyacinth breath, or pungent lilacs, or the murky autumnal scent of a climbing Don Juan rosebush.  Lavenders are a treasure because they continue to smell wonderful all season long, even after the flowers have died.

On the subject of season, people also overlook their garden’s potential by only planting for the growing season.  In Michigan, there are four seasons, and they each offer different delights.  Try to plan at least one or two garden features that you can enjoy during each phase of the year.  Bright red holly berries add a splash of life to winter drear.  Plucky pansies and crocuses shrug off early spring frost.  The captivating symphony of shading and falling leaves in the autumn should never be ignored!

And finally, remember that your writers garden is a space; it doesn’t need to be limited to plants.  A birdbath, a statue, a rusted bike, windchimes, and other features can stir your memories and press their impressions upon your writers garden.

3.  Make Time for your Garden 

This may be the hardest step of all, and it is certainly one which gardeners of all ages and experience struggle mightily.  Maintaining your garden will almost certainly take more time and effort that you expect.  Between this and the other obligations and responsibilities of our busy 21st century lives, you may find that all of your garden time is spent… gardening!

To be sure, there are delights and invigoration and moments of surprise and piece that come upon you when you’re raking leaves, pulling weeds, or watering thirsty plants.  But what will make your writers garden a writers garden is the presence of writing.  Don’t forget to visit sometimes not with a watering can or pruning shears, but with a notebook and pen.  You’ve put so much effort into making this a lovely, stimulating, and creatively nurturing place. Make sure you set aside some time so it can work its magic upon you!


Urbantasm:The Spring Storm
Urbantasm
Book Four
Connor Coyne

Genre: Magical Realism,Teen Noir
Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-956722-02-4
Number of pages: 474
Word Count: 158,000
Cover Artist: Sam Perkins-Harbin

Tagline: Eventually, everything comes to an end. Even endings.

Book Description:

Urbantasm: The Spring Storm is the fourth and final book in the magical teen noir serial novel inspired by the author’s experiences growing up in and around Flint, Michigan.

The stage has been set. The chessboard awaits. Against a background of love and friendship, of hard-won grades and groundbreaking plays, John and his friends are ready to claim their lives, their futures, and their city. They have identified their adversary: a mysterious man who calls himself “God” and manipulates the Chalks street gang through the influence of his children. John has also unlocked the secret of O-Sugar, an otherwordly drug with the ability to distort space. But God wields a powerful influence throughout the city of Akawe, and nobody seems to understand his true motives or intentions.

As the ice and frost of a long and unrelenting winter finally crack under cold, torrential rains, frozen things begin to stir again. The brutal murder of one of John’s friends and the abrupt disappearance of another signals that the moment of action has arrived. Who will survive this dying city, and how will the experience change the survivors?  Akawe has been unstable for decades. A bit of lift and heat and moisture is all it needs to build a spring storm.



Excerpt:

I borrowed a flashlight from Charles before I left rehearsal that night. I half-expected to hear some winos as I passed under the viaduct, but all was empty. I directed the flashlight beam away from the looming silos and made my way across the wet stepping stones with aching care. When I got to the other side, I saw Bill standing beside my tent, staring at me, his forehead hatchet rent.
That was when everything I had kept at a distance collapsed beneath its collected weight, and I knelt and vomited and cried. We will never be free, we will never be free, we will never be free of this, it will never go away. Then the food was gone, and I was dry heaving. I swallowed and slowly gathered my breath and looked up again.

Bill hadn’t moved. He still stared at me, the wound in his head like a third eye that didn’t watch me but looked instead at the silos hidden behind the concealing trees.

“Since you’re just staring at me, you won’t mind if I get something to drink,” I said.

I rummaged in the tent and got the water. I swirled it in my mouth and spat out the bile. Then I drank. Then I ate a Pop-Tart. Then I ate another. Then I reached into my backpack and took out some fishing line and silverware from the home ec room. Ignoring Bill, I tied the fishing line around the trunk of the willow tree and drew it in a broad loop around the clearing, wrapping it around trees as I went. When I had returned to the willow tree, I tied the line off and began hanging the silverware, in twos and threes, every meter or so. It probably took me an hour.
I plucked at the fishing line. The silverware clattered and banged.

“Now I can hear like a pigeon,” I said.

Bill started to walk away. He went a dozen paces up the trail, then looked back at me.

“What is it?” I said. “Why are you here? Why don’t you just go away? You’re an urbantasm. You can’t see me. You can’t hear me. What the fuck do you want?”

He watched and waited.

“You aren’t even there,” I said, but I picked up the flashlight and followed him along the path.

Bill led me slowly. In the utter dark – the sky was cloudy above the hundreds of branches – I had to step carefully over the cracked roots and desiccated vines. I followed Bill back to the main path, and he led me southward. We scrambled up and down a couple of hills, and I could hear the churning of the water far beneath me. I caught up with Bill at the edge of the stream. He was standing near a lightly submerged concrete pillar, which seemed to provide passage to the other side.

“What is it?” I asked.

Bill stepped onto the pillar, his footsteps not disturbing the water, and crossed to the opposite side.

I followed, my feet clumsily kicking up waves. At one point, I slipped, and my whole left leg went into the water. I almost fell off the pillar completely, but I held the flashlight overhead and hauled myself back up. I finally made it to the opposite side, dripping and freezing, and saw Bill moving away from the stream onto the bank.
Is this where she is? I wondered. Did she come back in the woods here and die, and I’m about to find her body, and then he’ll vanish, and I’ll be left alone with what’s left of Selby? Is that what happens now?

There were no paths here, and the growth was younger and denser than where I had made camp. Branches and nettles scratched my face, and the flashlight beam flew wildly. I finally emerged into a massive grassy clearing, where Bill stood waiting. He pointed. I followed his gesture.

We stood at the back of a broad lawn, looking up at a great, hulking, shuttered building made of brick and stone. It was only three stories high but close to a hundred feet tall, and the vast wings of the structure stretched off to the right and left. For a moment, I wondered how such a colossal building had gone unnoticed in the middle of the forest. Then I recognized it as the mental asylum. We’d come out of the Happy Hunting Grounds on its westward side and stood behind the massive complex. I could hear the quiet hum of traffic along South Street.

“Is Selby in there?” I asked.
Bill’s mouth moved.

“No,” he said, and there was a slight delay between his speaking and the sound that followed.

“So you can talk too. And I can hear you. And you can hear me.”
Bill stared at me.

“I’m not going in there,” I said. “No way.”

I returned the way I had come. Bill didn’t follow me. When I got back inside my tent, a blue glow rose around me.

“Is that you, Aunt Ellie?”

“Yes, my love,” came my aunt’s voice.

“Why is Bill following me? What does he want?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Why am I able to hear you now? I thought you were just images pulled back to me because of the O-Sugar. How are you able to talk? Is it a flashback? Are you just illusions? Or are you real ghosts?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Whatever you are, please protect me from nightmares again. Because the days are nightmares right now. I can’t do this if both days and nights are nightmares.”

“Yes, my love.”

I undressed and crawled into the sleeping bag. The blue glow wavered, and I knew Ellie was taking a seat outside. I closed my eyes and wondered if Bill was going to follow me for the rest of my life. I wondered if Selby died, if her urbantasm would appear to me as well. Would I give up my search at that moment? I thought about May. I wanted her. The warmth of her arms. She could protect me, but now it was up to me to protect the others. I started to say a rosary to myself. I thought it might help me calm down. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have the beads, as long as I say the prayer. I knew the number and order of the Our Fathers and Hail Marys, but I’d forgotten what came before and after. Was it the Nicene Creed at the beginning or another saying? And what were the right ruminations? The scourging and the crown, yes, but what else? When Pilate washed his hands? No, that’s not right. None of us can just wash our hands. I said prayers until the sleep finally closed in around me.


About the Author:

Connor Coyne is a writer living and working in Flint, Michigan.

He’s published several novels and a short story collection, and his short work has been featured in Vox.com, Belt Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife, two daughters, and an adopted rabbit in Flint’s College Cultural Neighborhood (aka the East Village), less than a mile from the house where he grew up.

Learn more about Connor’s writing at: 

Author Website: http://ConnorCoyne.com 

Series Website: http://urbantasm.com


Author website: http://connorcoyne.com

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Friday, May 6, 2022

Author Interview with Suzanne M. Sabol #UrbanFantasy #AuthorInterview


Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

Infinite Azure is the 9th installment of The Blushing Death Series, following Dahlia Sabin through her trials to becoming the paranormal power she’s destined to become.
The supernatural world has come out to humanity with a bang!  

All the precious planning Patrick and Dean have worked toward and all the connections they have developed are worthless. When the Master Vampire of North America decides to remind humanity of their place on the food chain, the city and its people will pay the price. The battle for the North American vampire colonies has begun in earnest and only a single vampire can be at the top.  

Dahlia is waging a battle on a different front. Baba Yaga is making moves in Faerie to regain her power in both the human world and Faerie, creating chaos and leaving carnage in her wake. Faced with new crises and old enemies, Dahlia will need to balance her responsibilities to her people and her city with the creatures in the Outer Realm. But Baba Yaga has used the darkest magic to tie The Blushing Death to her and the ramifications could be deadly. Can Dahlia build an army to defeat Baba Yaga? Can she overcome her own fears to become the power she needs to be? 

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

I do have a few themes coursing throughout my books. The first, is self-awareness and acceptance. I think it’s incredibly important to know who you are and not only accept yourself, but love yourself. Struggling with self-acceptance is universal and we all struggle with that. 
Another theme I like to carry-forward and revisit, is that the world isn’t black and white with a lot of gray. There are no villains or heroes, that we all have the capacity to be both. I like to make people consider if in the same situation could they do the same? 

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I LOVE Disney World, in an unnatural way for a 43-year-old woman. The rides are crap but the immersion into a fantasy world is something that I adore. I love the planning that goes into each trip because I’m very much a type A person. Also, I could spend all day in the gift shops. Although, to be fair, I love a gift shop no matter what it’s for. And finally, I collect a pair of ears each time I go, and I may have included my daughter in my crazy. And now we each have Mickey ears for each day we were in a park.
     

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

Unfortunately, I have a full-time job which keeps me occupied throughout the week. When I’m not spending my evenings and weekends with my family or writing, I love to fall into a book and disappear for a few hours into a really good story. Left to my own devices though, I could sit and read all day.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

There are a couple of things I’d like to tackle. First, I’d love to write a noir. I love those classic movies and books from the 30’s and 40’s that play with morality, light and shadow, and have the hard-edged central character. I’ve incorporated some of those same themes in my own books through the lens of Urban Fantasy, but I’d like to go full-on through the noir murder mystery and see where it leads me.

Second, my seven-year-old daughter, asked me to write her a story with dragons in it. I thought to myself, “sure-a middle grade shouldn’t be that hard. I can churn out 30K-50K words in no time.” What I discovered after writing the first chapter was that everything I write turns inexplicably dark, AND that I do not have the correct voice to write middle grade. I did promise her the story, so we’ll see how that goes. I might have to have my husband edit it prior to letting her see it. I don’t want to traumatize her or my husband.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

My favorites are always my villains. I love the freedom they give me to push boundaries and cross lines of expectations. I put way more effort and time into my villains than I do my heroes/heroines. Not only do villains have to have the same motivation, goal, and conflict build-out that the hero/heroine does but each move they make has to have some significance/impact to the plot and hero. They are both more complicated but also more fun.
If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This book is the 9th in The Blushing Death series. The next, 10th and final book will bring Dahlia Sabin’s arc, as well as the arc for all the other characters and plot to a close. 
The only thing I can share is that I hope to bring this series to a satisfying ending for everyone, even Dahlia’s nemesis and over arching villain of the piece. I cannot guarantee that everyone will make it to the end either. 


What book are you reading now?

I am obsessed with C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr mystery series. I started reading these books last summer, and the only reason I’m not already through all 16, soon to be 17, already is because I’ve been sliding other books in-between to make sure that I didn’t burn through them. They are so good and I can’t recommend them enough to anyone who love murder mysteries.


Infinite Azure
The Blushing Death Series
Book Nine
Suzanne M. Sabol

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: May 4, 2022
ISBN: 978-1-64716-282-5
ASIN: B09V85WYYR
Number of pages: 379
Word Count: 114K

Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Tagline: Fighting enemies on all fronts, The Blushing Death must convince humanity that vampires and werewolves aren’t the monsters they’ve always feared. But destroying her enemies and protecting her people may be harder than she realizes with all of humanity watching and their secret out in the open.

Book Description: 

The supernatural world has come out to humanity with a bang!  

All the precious planning Patrick and Dean have worked toward and all the connections they have developed are worthless. When the Master Vampire of North America decides to remind humanity of their place on the food chain, the city and its people will pay the price. The battle for the North American vampire colonies has begun in earnest and only a single vampire can be at the top.  

Dahlia is waging a battle on a different front. Baba Yaga is making moves in Faerie to regain her power in both the human world and Faerie, creating chaos and leaving carnage in her wake. Faced with new crises and old enemies, Dahlia will need to balance her responsibilities to her people and her city with the creatures in the Outer Realm. 

But Baba Yaga has used the darkest magic to tie The Blushing Death to her and the ramifications could be deadly. Can Dahlia build an army to defeat Baba Yaga? Can she overcome her own fears to become the power she needs to be? 


Excerpt:

“It’s fucking cold out here,” I hissed through chattering teeth. No matter how much I willed my jaw to remain motionless, it didn’t listen and the rattling inside my head was driving me insane.

The fire flickered in the pitch-darkness of the Outer Realm, casting an eerie glow across the snow. Beyond the miniscule light of the fire, as large as we dared make it here so we didn’t attract other and more dangerous beings, inky blackness stretched on forever. The oppressive nature of the dark night and the fact that I knew it could literally stretch out for eternity, was some cruel realization that I was infinitesimal in an expansive place with creatures that would eat me for the hell of it.

Shaking off my descent into bat-shit-crazy, I considered the first time I’d been here and each subsequent journey back. Each time I crossed the veil into the Outer Realm, it got just a bit colder, the air bitter and chilled. This time there was a light dusting of snow on the ground with flurries brushing against my exposed skin. I’d dressed for cold, knowing full well how the wind had burned through my clothes the last time. But this was worse. The wind was piercing and sharp as it howled through the trees and my layers.

Beyond the minimal warmth and light of the fire lurked beasties and creatures of every shape and size, and the focus of their eyes on me was a weight I felt in my gut, a tight clench of fear that made me queasy, alert, and on edge. I fought the urge to run, knowing that I couldn’t outrun any of them. I could fight but I would lose. The Outer Ream was a place where strength was valued, and weakness was devoured. Maybe they were just curious. Maybe they were hungry. I had no choice but to wait and hope they remained in the dark beyond the light of our fire.

“Make the fire warmer,” Adrik snorted, landing on my shoulder and rubbing his hands together, holding them out before the inadequate flames. The four-inch-high pixie stood close to my neck, soaking up my body heat. He knew I could use my magic to increase the heat of the fire, and I’d considered it, but I didn’t want to give too much away too soon. Bargaining with the fae was a delicate balance of knowledge and cunning. Negotiating from a position of strength was better but I wouldn’t lay all my cards on the table just yet.

“I don’t want to burn my eyebrows off,” I said, smirking at the pixie. He rolled his small silver eyes at my obvious lie. “When are they going to get here?” I asked, wanting desperately to be home and warm in my bed. The longer I stayed in the Outer Realm, the bigger the likelihood that someone would notice either on this side or my side of the veil that I was not where I was supposed to be.

Adrik and I had been making small trips to the Outer Realm for weeks without letting anyone know. I was pushing my luck before either Patrick or Dean noticed and gave me hell, at the very least a lecture. After the mountain where I’d killed Rokap but lost Milagra and Konstantin, Dean and Patrick had been different. More protective. More confining. More everything. Dean especially. If they knew what I was doing, Dean would lose his shit. Right now, this was better. He didn’t worry and I didn’t have to deal with his anger. I was being a coward but right now, I was willing to be a coward to keep them safe just a bit longer.

“The representative should be here momentarily,” Adrik responded.

“You’d think I’d figure out how to dress properly to be here, but it always seems colder than the last time,” I said, unable to keep my teeth from chattering. The fleece lining wasn’t enough.

“It is not your imagination,” Adrik answered, his voice rough through the already guttural accent. His English was much better, but I could still hear the centuries of Russian in the shape of his words.

About the Author:

Suzanne M Sabol is the author of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has two Bachelor of Arts degrees with majors in Criminology, International Studies, Russian, and Political Science. She has a Master’s degree from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs. She is married with one child and lives in Columbus Ohio.

The Blushing Death Series and the Blood and Bone Legacy are published through Soul Mate Publishing. Editor, Debby Gilbert, can be contacted through their website at www.soulmatepublishing.com.







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