Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by the new site and take a look around.

Monday, December 31, 2012

We've Moved!

Beginning January 1, 2013 

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look! 
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012



Random Thoughts On Flying Elephants, Winged Horses, and Reindeer

I’ve always had a thing about flying. As a child I cheered for Dumbo, who proved he didn’t need anyone else’s approval or even a magic feather to soar. You see, Dumbo was a little different. His ears were too big. This made him an object of ridicule but he silenced his tormenters in the end by believing in himself, just the way he was. That’s a struggle I understand, gut level, and a path I’ve trod.

How I longed as a child to soar with Peter Pan to a land of strange and wonderful adventures where children didn’t have to grow up. Looking back as an adult with grown-up responsibilities, I sometimes wonder if Peter wasn’t on to something. There will always be a part of me that holds out for Neverland.

Oh, to ride Pegasus as he unfurled his wings across the sky! The haze of centuries gone by only added to the appeal of this bearer of thunder and lightning who had only to strike a hoof to the ground to create a spring from which ran poetry.

Perhaps with such influences on my younger self, it was inevitable I would become an epic fantasy novelist. It just naturally followed that winged horses would fly through the pages of DawnSinger, my debut novel and first in the Tales of Faeraven trilogy. In the world of Elderland wingabeasts run wild in the Maegrad Paesad, or Impenetrable Mountains. Only a very few have been captured to bond with the guardians who are privileged to ride them. It takes balance and skill to remain on one while in the air. Wingabeasts are well trained and will hold position even in great peril.

If winged horses are awesome, reindeer are even more so, for they fly without wings. My early fascination with reindeer should come as no surprise. How could I not admire these graceful creatures s they charged through the wintry night with jaunty bells jingling? At least in my imagination, and in Clement Clark Moore’s “T’was the Night Before Christmas” poem, reindeer circled the earth pulling a sleigh weighted by presents and a right jolly old elf. Each Christmas Eve, long after I should have been asleep, I laid in bed with ears straining for the tap of prancing hooves on the roof. The fact that I never heard them did not make the reindeer any less real. They were magical, you see, born of sugar-coated dreams and sprinkled with pixie dust. Just like Christmas.

In honor of Christmas, I’m giving away a free digital copy of DawnSinger (winner’s choice of ebook format). Leave a comment to this post to enter.

I have an additional giveaway going at my website worth over $50. Enter to win a free download of My Memories Scrapbooking Software Suite and an autographed copy of DawnSinger. Upon request, I will provide the winner a printable certificate for the software and novel for gift-giving purposes. Or keep the software to help you more easily save those Christmas memories. That way, you’ll have more time to curl up and read DawnSinger! Here’s the link to enter:

About the Author:
Janalyn Voigt's father instilled in her a love of literature at an early age by classic novels as bedtime stories. Janalyn soon began creating my own stories, and eventually wrote them down. When she was 12, a teacher noticed her storytelling ability. His encouragement helped Janalyn to later become a published novelist. Janalyn Voigt's unique blend of adventure, romance, suspense, and fantasy creates worlds of beauty and danger for readers. Beginning with DawnSinger, her epic fantasy series, Tales of Faeraven, carries the reader into a land only imagined in dreams. At her Creative Worlds blog, Janalyn offers detail from her research, travel journals, author journals, and updates about her books.

Thursday, December 20, 2012



Christmas in Germany and German magic: the mysterious Knecht Ruprecht

I'm half German and my childhood was filled with German fairy tales and legends. Fairies, goblins and elves populated my imagination since I was little, no wonder my first book is an urban fantasy about fairies!

Anyway, of all the magic creatures of German folklore, some are good and some really bad. The most evil I can think of is the Erlkoenig, the malicious Elven king described in Goethe’s poem of the same name, where a little boy is killed by the Erlkoenig, who then kidnapped his soul.

In Germany we practically invented Christmas: the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum, in German) is a German tradition and so is Santa Claus who was originally Saint Nicholaus. Connected to Saint Nicholaus is the very positive and Christmassy figure called “Knecht Ruprecht”, which translates as Farmhand Rupert or Servant Rupert, who is a companion of Saint Nicholas as described in the folklore of Germany. He first appears in written sources in the 17th century, as a figure in a Nuremberg Christmas procession.

Although very ugly, often represented like a black man holding a big brown sack, where the toys are kept, Knecht Ruprecht is just a little grumpy but overall good. He appears in homes on St. Nicholas day (December 6), and is a man with a long beard, wearing fur or covered in pea-straw. Knecht Ruprecht sometimes carries a long staff and a bag of ashes, and wears little bells on his clothes. Sometimes he is accompanied by fairies or men with blackened faces dressed as old women. No idea who these men are, nor know why they dress in drag, but that’s tradition, so I suppose we must accept it the way it is.

Knecht Ruprecht’s job is to ask children whether they can pray. If they can, they receive apples, nuts, and gingerbread. If they cannot, he beats the children with his bag of ashes. In other, more recent versions of the story, Knecht Ruprecht gives naughty children useless, ugly gifts such as lumps of coal, sticks, and stones, while well-behaving children receive sweets from Saint Nicholas.

The companions of Saint Nicholas are a group of closely related figures who accompany St. Nicholas in German-speaking Europe .These characters act as a foil to the benevolent Christmas gift-bringer, threatening to thrash or abduct disobedient children. But it’s just an empty threat since, as I said, they don’t look good but they are good inside. Jacob Grimm associated this character with the pre-Christian house spirit (kobold, elf) which could be benevolent or malicious, but whose mischievous side was emphasized after Christianization. In fact, according to my dad and all my oldest German relatives, Knecht Ruprecht is to be also connected to the figure of Rumpelstiltskin who is the antagonist of another German tale of the brother Grimm (and the ambiguous character we all love in the super-cool Once Upon a Time). Rumpel, like Ruprecht, used to be a naughty house kobold who did some chores, always in exchange for something precious, At a point, Saint Nicholaus hired Ruprecht, so that he stopped being so naughty, starting doing some good.

Ruprecht was also a common name for the Devil in Germany, and Grimm states that "Robin Goodfellow is the same home-sprite whom we in Germany call Knecht Ruprecht and exhibit to children at Christmas..."

In spite of this in the Salzburg area, in Austria, the Knecht Ruprecht character is not only St. Nicholas' assistant, but also his protector. Saint Nicholaus has a lot of enemies, the devil being on the top of the list, and Ruprecht, who is known to be very strong and able to do some magic, keeps a watchful eye on the benevolent saint during his journey.

In the Anglo-Saxon countries, where kobolds and elves are more or less the same thing, our Rubrecht and his crew have been replaced by a bunch of cute little elves dressed in green. And the holy Saint Nicholaus has become Father Christmas in England and Santa Claus in the US. Still, good old Rubrecht hasn’t been completely wiped out and got his little ‘revenge’: in fact, you might be surprised to know that, in Germany, Bart Simpson’s dog isn’t called ‘Santa’s little helper’, but Knecht Ruprecht!

About the Author:
Louisa Klein is the author of Supernatural Freak, an action-packed, romantic urban fantasy set in contemporary London. She is 25, lives in the UK but was born in Germany and brought up by a German dad and an Italian and French mum, which made her a little confused at first. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and a postgraduate one in Marketing. She’s been working in publishing on and off since she was 17 and currently is a freelancer and an Urban Fantasy writer. At night she puts on a mask and fights British crime. She gets very little sleep.

When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she's very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She's more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it's much worse.

The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland's power. This means that not only queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.

She'd rather stick a pencil in her own eye, but to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of Robyn.

There, she discovers a secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland's enemies for good, a secret that puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.
Amazon link: Website: Facebook:



Happy holidays! In my urban fantasy setting, the Senyaza Series, many things we're not too certain about in real life do exist... but not quite in the form we expect. Things like angels, faeries, monsters... and Santa Claus. I'm very fond of Santa Claus, you see. I'm especially fond of Santa Claus stories that present him as much more than a jolly old toymaker. There's a movie out right now that presents him as a dual-sword-wielding guardian, which I love! I, however, have my own ideas.... Read on for a glimpse:

I dug this exchange out of the archives. It takes place before and after the events of Matchbox Girls. Leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a DRM-free digital copy of the novel!

Dear Uncle Nick,
The girls have been asking about you. There have been several incidents lately that make me really hope you won't be disappointing them come December.


Dear Z,
It's August. I get one night a year to do my magic. If they're hoping for a personal audience, you know where to find my associates.

P.S. Please don't call me Uncle Nick. It's far too close to Old Nick and I'm a reformed character. Further attempts to transparently exploit our relationship will get you on the naughty list.

P.P.S. I see you're already on the naughty list. Nice boys are more considerate of their friends. Better watch out...


Dear Sinterklauss,
I'm a little old to be on any naughty or nice lists. If the kids aren't satisfied come Christmas, they may do something dramatic. This isn't a threat, this is a concern. Last spring I had an egg-laying rabbit on my hands for a few days. Help me out here?


Dear Z,
One night a year. If I had more than that you can bet your knickers I'd concern myself with adults on the naughty list, especially if they committed offenses against children. But I made my choice and I'm sticking with it. Your kids look like sweet girls but no matter how many bunnies they enchant or how you wheedle for them, they're not getting special privileges.


Dear Father Christmas
A lot can change in a month. How about now? They'd probably be content with Christmas Eve Eve.


Dear Z,
What have you done?


Dear Saint
It wasn't me. It was them. I did say. Shall I plan on goose for dinner on December 23rd?


Dear Z,
Oh yes, I feel it. Suddenly I have much more than one day a year to work my magic... and so much to catch up on. The naughty list must be dealt with...
About the Author:
Chrysoula Tzavelas went to twelve schools in twelve years while growing up as an Air Force brat, and she never met a library she didn't like. She now lives near Seattle with some random adults, miscellaneous animals, and two handy small children. She likes combed wool, bread dough, and gardens. She's also a certified technology addict; it says so on her (trademark-redacted) music player.

Find Chrysoula online at

Marley Claviger is just trying to get her life together. Stumbling into an ancient conflict between celestial forces is going to make that a whole lot harder... When Marley wakes up to a phone call from a pair of terrified children, she doesn't expect to be pulled into a secret war.

She rescues them from an empty house and promises to find their missing uncle. She even manages to feed them dinner. But she barely feels competent to manage her own life, let alone care for small children with strange, ominous powers... And when a mysterious angelic figure shows up and tries to claim the girls, it all falls apart...

Plagued by visions of disaster, Marley has no idea what she's gotten herself into, but she knows one thing: magical or not, the kids need her.

Candlemark and Gleam Amazon Paperback Amazon Kindle

"Lovely worldbuilding and an unusual heroine surrounded by strong relationships and good intrigue kept me reading Matchbox Girls until well past my bedtime. Tzavelas has created a winning story universe and I'm impatient for the next book!"
- CE Murphy, author of Urban Shaman and The Queen's Bastard

Watch the book video:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



Tree Dressing at the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum

Many winter festivals have trees and the greenwood at their heart, and this idea forms the basis of the Weald and Downlands Open Air Museum's annual festival on the first Sunday in December (at the end of National Tree Week). First held in 1990 but based on much older traditions, the tree dressing marks the climax of a full day of additional activities at the museum. These included craft sessions to make garland headdresses, jam jar lanterns, and beeswax candles; bread-making in the Tudor kitchen; roasted chestnuts; mulled cider (or apple juice) and spiced biscuits; and acorn planting. Dances, songs and plays were performed in the village's Market Square by Rabble Folk Theatre and Mythago Morris. I particularly enjoyed the 'Tale of the Oak King and the Holly King' as performed by Rabble.

At 3.45 we all assembled in the Market Square with lanterns lit, and Rabble led us In procession past some of the Museum's other buildings, through the woods and back down the grassy slope to the twin aspen trees just up from the Market Square. All those with lanterns stepped forward to dress the trees' bare branches, then as the sun went down, singers from Rabble led a rendition of the traditional 'The Trees of the Greenwood'. As the day drew to a close we all linked hands to perform what may be the world's largest spiral dance around the trees.

Photos of the day can be found on my LJ in this post or at any of the sites I've linked to above.

The Museum will be open throughout the winter, and I'll be going back one day between Boxing Day and New Year's Day when all the Museum's houses will be decorated according to the festive traditions of their period. An ideal way to walk off the overindulgences of Christmas, although the Museum does provide very reasonably-priced and tasty food if you burn off too much energy.

One commenter on this post will win both a DRM-free digital copy of A Series of Ordinary Adventures and a photo-calendar illustrated with 13 of my photos of random places in the UK.


Born in Sheffield, England's Steel City, and raised in a village on the boundary of the White and Dark Peaks, Stevie Carroll was nourished by a diet of drama and science fiction from the BBC and ITV, and a diverse range of books, most notably Diane Wynne-Jones and The Women's Press, from the only library in the valley.

Now based in Hampshire, Stevie somehow manages to combine thoughts of science fiction, fantasy and historical mysteries with a day-job writing for the pharmaceuticals industry and far too many voluntary posts working with young people, with animals and in local politics. Stevie's short story, 'The Monitors', was longlisted by the 2010 Tiptree Awards jury, and Stevie's first solo collection A Series of Ordinary Adventures was published in May 2012 (also available from Amazon and, Bookdepository, and everywhere else good books are sold).

Stevie has an LJ for updates on writing and research trips, and really needs to get a website.



Christmas in Finland

Hyvää Joulua, everyone! That’s “Merry Christmas” in Finnish.

Though I’m from the States, my novel DARK HEIRLOOM takes place in Finland. So I decided to research how the Finnish celebrate the holidays and how their traditions differ from ours. While the basics are pretty similar, there are a handful of fun and interesting differences that I would like to try!

First of all, Christmas in Finland lasts a lot longer than it does here. Usually we celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. In Finland, the holiday season typically begins on the first Sunday in December, called the First Advent. Formal celebrations begin on December 13th for the Day of Saint Lucia and several other Saints are celebrated during the month, with Christmas officially ending 13 days after Christmas Day!

Cleaning the house, as well as one’s self, before the holidays begin is a very important tradition in Finland. Christmas marks the end of the seasonal year for them and it’s important to start the New Year fresh with no negativity from last year! Bathing in a sauna or Finish steam house is practically a requirement. Some sources say the bath is done Christmas morning for a few hours before dinner is severed – other sources claim the cleansing begins a few days before and the Finish spend an entire day in the sauna, taking breaks every few hours and then re-cleansing.

Mass and a visit with dead relatives at a cemetery is an essential part of Christmas Eve. They also decorate a spruce tree on Christmas Eve much like we do, and gifts can be given then or on Christmas morning. However, gifts to children are typically given from the local town Santa Claus himself and a group of village elves! By the way, did you know Santa Clause lives in a castle in Lapland, Finland?

Christmas dinner is served between 5-7 o’clock and the menu traditionally includes Codfish, rutabaga casserole, oven-baked ham, and potatoes.

Sounds divine! I’ve always wanted to go to Finland. Maybe someday my vampires from DARK HEIRLOOM will take me. Please continue reading to find out how you can win a digital copy of DARK HEIRLOOM for yourself – or to give to a friend.

Hyvää Joulua!
J.D. Brown
Author of the Dark Heirloom series
Twitter @AuthorJDBrown

“You’re a vampire” is so not what Ema Marx wants to hear when she wakes from a two-day coma in a cryptic yet exquisite castle in northern Finland. Unfortunately, it explains a lot. Like why she’s able to see in the dark and walk through solid objects. What she doesn’t understand is why the other vampires expect her to have all the answers. It’s their fault she turned into one of them…right?

Jalmari’s hatred for his old-man intensifies when he’s ordered to bring that troublesome girl to their castle. He has a clan to run, there’s no time for babysitting newborn vampires no matter how they were converted to their culture. But when a two-thousand-year-old premonition threatens to take the crown and his life, Jalmari sees no other choice than to take out the catalyst. Ema Marx. Fortunately for Ema, she could also be the clan’s only savior.

The race to figure out her vampiric origins is on. And maybe she’ll get the hang of the blood-drinking gig along the way…

Available in paperback and ebook from: Barnes&Noble and Nook MuseItUp Publishing Inc.

COMING MAY 2013 – DARK LIAISON – Book Two. Being a Romani-Vampire with an ancestor who wants you dead isn’t normal. Neither is this sequel…

WIN a free e-book or .PDF copy of Dark Heirloom by leaving a comment below with your name and email address before January 1, 2013.

Up to three lucky commenters will win!!! Winners will be chosen at random from the comments below and announced on January 2nd. Good luck!

About the Author:
J.D. Brown writes Urban Fantasy for MuseItUp Publishing as well as a monthly “how-to” newsletter column for PDMI Freelance Publishing. She graduated from The International Academy of Design and Technology with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts and currently lives in Wisconsin with her two Pomeranians. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, J.D.’s writing is influenced by the multicultural urban society of her youth along with the many travels she was fortunate to experience.

J.D. loves paranormal characters - from vampires and werewolves, demons and angels, to witches and ghosts. She’s a self-proclaimed expert in vampire mythology and Greek mythology. Her writings are often a combination of history, magic, suspense and romance brought to life in a colorful metropolitan setting.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Holidays For Introverts And The Generally Cranky

Everyone knows at least one person who gets cranky about holidays. Chances are it's more than one. I think it's common enough that if it's not quite normal, at least it's widely tolerated. While I doubt everyone who doesn't like the holidays qualifies as an introvert, maybe a good number of such people are on that end of the spectrum.

In my case, I'll go with that. But this isn't a post about shopworn anti-holiday sentiments. As an often-introverted personality type, of course Christmas was never something I could get excited about. Too much noise, too many lights, too much of everything. However, in the last while I've found myself giving in to the sentimentality, as if the heel of Santa's fur-trimmed Hessian boot were at my throat, with a mere shift of the obese man's bodyweight the only thing standing between life and death.

This year especially, people seem to be tired of Christmas music in stores. Being that I've worked in such stores, I've basically experienced a lifetime of normal exposure to this hazardous radiation before the age of thirty. But then something happened.

A good friend of mine is a vocalist and just felt like singing at work over the holidays. And since apparently everyone else was cool with the idea, the two of us ended up performing. Before this, keep in mind that the only music I played on the guitar was a little bit of jazz and a lot of death metal. So I had to learn how the play some of the very songs that had been my torment for basically all of history. And get over the stage fright that had stopped me from getting anywhere with being in a band. I accomplished both of these and also learned that sometimes playing music that's so ubiquitous and part of tradition isn't as easy to do well as I'd assumed, in my arrogant prog-metal Ibanez RG-playing ignorance.

The challenge of it changed the game for me. But only initially. After a few performances, I stopped being so concerned about myself and paid a bit of attention to the "audience," which was, most of the time, perhaps two people. Even though these people had heard the same songs as muzak everywhere else, when they saw two kind-of-shy store employees inexplicably playing Christmas songs in a corner, some of them seemed to genuinely enjoy it, if only for a few seconds. The single encore request we got was even more thrilling.

That was last year. This year was when the epiphany really struck. When those songs came back on the radio, instead of hating them I couldn't help but feel sentimental about it. I missed playing those songs with my friend, and hearing them over and over for a month is all I really have of that now.

So I'm not sure if it's just that I'm the type of introvert who is difficult to get close enough to for such moments to happen, or if it's just that the holidays just don't make as much sense to me outside of playing music and so on. But a large part of my holiday crankiness seems to have been permanently cured just from that experience.

This means there's hope for all the others who become stressed over holidays. The kind of peace a lot of introverts need to feel sane still exists during the holidays, but you just have to dig to find it.

And hey, if you comment on this post, you could win a copy of my dieselpunk fantasy novel, Blightcross. It's like steampunk, only better and with more explosions. Check it out and make sure to enter!

About the Author:
C. A. Lang is a product of Nelson, British Columbia, and it shows. Growing up around Victorian architecture likely had something to do with his appreciation of steampunk, although we're not quite sure why he felt the need to ditch the steam engines and go all internal-combustion on the genre. He has settled in Kelowna, B.C., where sometimes he can be found abusing a gigantic jazz guitar in public, doing deadlifts, and running obscene distances.



Researching St. Nicholas Eve

When I was very small Christmas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, and St. Nick were all mixed up – but it didn’t matter.

Wikipedia says:

In Northern Germany, Sankt Nikolaus is usually celebrated on a small scale. Many children put a boot called Nikolaus-Stiefel outside the front door on the night of 5 December. St. Nicholas fills the boot with gifts and sweets overnight, and at the same time checks up on the children to see if they were good, polite and helpful the last year. If they were not, they will have a tree branch in their boots instead. Sometimes a Nikolaus impersonator also visits the children at school or in their homes and asks them if they have been good (sometimes ostensibly checking his golden book for their record), handing out presents on the basis of their behavior.

Here’s what I remember. When I was a young child, St. Nicholas Eve was the start of the Christmas season.

Everyone in the family hung stockings. The socks my brother and I wore were much too small, so my grandmother donated her long baggy cotton stockings.

I don’t remember really big gifts. Everything had to fit in the stocking. But there was always an orange in the toe (which made the stocking really long and funny looking) and some candy. Maybe there were small toys. I think the excitement was more important than the gifts. Gifts and surprises weren’t ordinary. And little things meant more. (And Christmas meant big presents.)To awake to find a bulging stocking was pure magic.

It fits the Northern German tradition. Stockings instead of boots. And St Nicholas as the beginning of the annual “be good or Santa will bring you coal” time of year. Behavior was very important. I also remember threats that bad children could get a switch (ah the old tree branch).

I’m not sure when we stopped hanging St. Nicholas stockings, but we never hung stockings on Christmas Eve and I always wondered why anyone would do that. Sadly, I think in my family the St. Nicholas traditions disappeared because they didn’t fit the melting pot American Santa Claus images.

* The perverted story “Six to Eight Black Men” by David Sedaris in Holidays on Ice provides politically incorrect outrageous holiday laughs at the expense of Saint Nicholas in the Netherlands. Read the story online - originally published in Esquire or listen to Sedaris read it at Carnegie Hall on YouTube

A more delightful version of St. Nicholas Eve is celebrated by the dog-shifter librarians of Shipsfeather, Ohio in my fantasy The Shapeshifters’ Library Book One: Released.

Read the “Wassail Excerpt” and the “St. Nicholas Excerpt” posts on my blog Wordshaping – posted December 4 & 5 to celebrate with them.

Leave a comment to win a copy of Relaxing the Writer, the book and companion relaxation CD. Perfect for all writers and readers who may be feeling a little stressed.

About the Author:Amber Polo has had a lifelong love affair with libraries and dogs. A fascination with lost ancient libraries and curiosity about why werewolves outnumbered dog-shifters in literature inspired her new urban fantasy series filled with librarian dog-shifters.

The Shapeshifters' Library: Released is the first volume. Retrieved (Book 2) will be out December, 2012. Her previous novels include the award-winning Flying Free, an Arizona airpark romance with a high-flying Alaskan Malamute, and a Sedona paranormal romance Romancing Rebecca.

To help writers and stressed readers reduce stress, her book Relaxing the Writer: Guidebook to the Writers’ High offers suggestions and simple exercises. Using her calming voice she’s recorded relaxation CDs that help almost anyone relax. After working in more than six libraries and living with five Old English Sheepdogs (at one time) she happily calls a small town in Arizona home.

Website Goodreads Amazon Barnes and Noble

Monday, December 17, 2012

Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Amy Lignor


A Truly Wealthy Christmas
Amy Lignor

Everyone speaks about money; it is the main reason why people get divorced, hate their jobs, or are desperate to find jobs (even if they’ll hate them once they have them). People dream about having ‘it’ - that financial cushion that will always and forever allow them to have what they want and never have to worry about anything ever again. And the one time money is most desired, is when the holiday season comes along. Yes, Christmas centers on the enjoyment of family - having time with your loved ones while decorating the house with pretty, sparkling ornaments and lights. Christmas is not there to worry about what gifts to purchase, or how to find a way to give a gift to someone you love who so desperately wants it.

Once upon a time, I forgot the main reason for Christmas. I was exhausted by a job that wasn’t even close to my ‘life’s dream,’ and living in an apartment that was beyond desolate no matter how you decorated it. The whole thought of, “I’m well off because I have a roof over my head and food in my daughter’s stomach,” never even entered my mind.

That specific Christmas I wanted to give my best friend and absolute joy of my life a present she’d always wanted. I can’t even remember what it was now, but back then her little girl eyes lit up when she saw it on T.V., and I know she wanted one of her very own. The saddest part, however, was the fact that not only could I not purchase the gift, I didn’t even have money for a tree. That made me sad. My whole life I had grown up in a family that had no money, but every year we had a beautiful tree in the center of the room that my sister and I decorated while Mom, Dad and the grandparents sat around drinking coffee, laughing and enjoying the fact that we were all together. That tree marked a tradition for us. I even remember the time when Dad went out and got one so large that he had to cut the top off in order to get it to fit in the living room. But he did it, and the angel shone on top just like every year before (even though she was a little bit crooked).

Unlike me, my daughter was enjoying the season. Her friends at school were making cards and getting all excited about Santa getting suited up for his annual adventure. My daughter asked me one night why I was so ‘silent;’ she knew I was thinking about something and wanted to know what was bothering me. I told her about the tree…about the fact that we wouldn’t have one. But that beautiful face didn’t fall, it smiled brightly before racing over to the corner to grab her box of art supplies. Green construction paper appeared, the tape dispenser started rolling, and the small hand with the plastic scissors flew faster than any designer on Project Runway.

We laughed, we sang carols and I watched that little girl continue our tradition. We cut out ornaments, colored lights, and put the huge creation up on the wall. It even rivaled Dad’s enormous find. This was the Christmas when it all came back - when all the worry about money and gifts went straight out the window. This was the moment I remembered that it’s all about family, love, friendship and my daughter’s huge heart that now, at twenty-years-old, is still filled with joy.

I had no need for an angel on top of that tree because I had one with me, and every single day I have been blessed to watch her grow up. As Christmas comes closer I already know that no tree will be as amazingly beautiful as that one was, but my ‘adult’ child is even more beautiful. And seeing that we’re still together, sharing each other’s lives, makes us the wealthiest people on the entire planet!

Whether it’s your child, your Labrador, your best friend, your family, or the person you see in the mirror every morning - enjoy this holiday season and feel extremely blessed that they’re still with you!

Leave a comment for a chance to win a download of Until Next Time.

Happy Holidays!

About the Author:
Amy Lignor began her career at Grey House Publishing in northwest Connecticut where she was the Editor-in-Chief of numerous educational and business directories.

Now she is a published author of several works of fiction. The Billy the Kid historical The Heart of a Legend; the thriller, Mind Made; and the adventure novel, Tallent & Lowery 13.

She is also the owner of The Write Companion, a company that offers help and support to writers through a full range of editorial services from proofreading and copyediting to ghostwriting and research. As the daughter of a research librarian, she is also an active book reviewer.

Currently, she lives with her daughter, mother and a rambunctious German Shepherd named Reuben, in the beautiful state of New Mexico.

Find Amy online at

Amy Lignor's Facebook:
Amy Lignor's Twitter:!/HelloWritersAmy
Amy Lignor's Website:
Amy Lignor's Blog:

How does a girl choose between the one who steals her heart and the one who owns her soul?

Matt and Emily were created for a specific job. Raised and trained as the ultimate angel/warrior team, they are sent down to save, defend, judge and forgive, depending on the 'life' they've been assigned. What they don't realize is that the power of human emotions, such as love, anger, passion and fear can take over even the best of souls, causing them to make mistakes and follow paths that lead to confusion and heartache.

When the reason for their training is finally revealed, the angel/warrior team find themselves thrust into a world they know nothing about. Matt takes over the life of Daniel, a young man with a great deal of baggage. Emily becomes Liz, a girl living in a remote village who relies on nothing more than her own strength to survive. A violent storm erupts one night, and framed in the window of Liz's establishment is a frightening face. Let in by the soul of a Good Samaritan, the two visitors bring with them a past full of secrets that could literally change an angel's path and a warrior's plans.

From murder to redemption, this angel/warrior team must find a way to keep the faith they have in each other in a world that's ripping them apart.



The Depressing, Suicidal Days of Winter—Really?

The days grow dim and nights stretch long. Ads inundate the airwaves with buy, buy, buy, home-for-the-holidays, and expectations of family gatherings. No one escapes the bombardment of images and the 483,231 versions of “I’ll be Home for Christmas.”

No one.

With the constant barrage of images and expectations of gluttony and greed, the various news media chime in with story upon story detailing the dire effects of the season, how depression and suicide rates increase around the holidays. The assumption makes sense, after all. War (someone’s always fighting, especially in the Middle East), the pressure to spend more than a person can afford, pending family gatherings wrought with tension and conflict, dimwitted pundits condemning this or that group’s seasonal celebrations or word choice for good wishes—yes, winter is definitely ripe for depression, and depression for some readily leads to suicide.

As the season of insanity (Need proof? Go shopping on Black Friday.), of hopelessness and desperation, winter becomes the perfect setting for dark fantasy and horror stories. Stephen King and Stanley Kubrick certainly made good use of the season in the novel and movie versions of The Shining. Scores of other authors have also made winter the optimal setting for spotlighting the soul’s darkest corners. But do our assumptions about the season’s dark side pan out under scrutiny?

The holiday season in my youth was an opportune time for my parents to act out. They weren’t fond of each other, and holiday visits to each set of relatives provided them with excellent opportunities to explode into battles in their ongoing war.

Hallelujah, Christmas!

Then came the year my mother took me grocery shopping late Christmas Eve afternoon. When we arrived home, my father was waiting on the front steps with the story of how, while taking a bath, he’d heard someone sneak into the house. Through the crack in the doorway to the living room, he said he’d seen Santa quickly unload a few toys from his bag and flee. Later that night, I overheard my parents talking low in the living room about the true delivery of those toys and more serious matters. Their voices were strangely calm as they agreed on terms. On Christmas day, they separated. It lasted for a couple of weeks before they decided to give things another try. A few Christmases later, they separated for good to everyone’s delight.

Melancholy tinged winter holidays followed, and I bought into the logical myth of increased depression and suicide. Perhaps you have, too. But statistics bust the myth to pieces. In fact, the U.S. suicide rate decreases during the holiday season, only to rise in spring as weather brightens and days lengthen. Psychologists speculate the winter decrease may result from increased interaction with family and friends who provide support that’s lacking the rest of the year. When moods bump up in spring and everyone returns to the daily greed and grump, folks subject to depression may feel worse because they don’t experience the same “normal” boost others enjoy.

That’s all fine and good, but where do the facts leave dark fantasy and horror writers? Would Jack Nicholson’s body in The Shining’s maze be as effective if the story were set in spring or summer?

Take away those winter myths in which we indulge ourselves, and what’s left?

Cold, dark days.

And that’s just depressing.

EVERYONE WINS! In honor of winter and its myriad of celebrations—from St. Nicholas Day, Bodhi Day, Solstice, Soyal, and Yalda, to Modraniht, Saturnalia, Pancha Ganapati, Dies Natils Solis Invicti, Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, Kwanza, New Year’s, and more—everyone’s a winner. Send an email mentioning this blog to to receive a free eBook in return (please specify preferred format; default format will be PDF). As an immediate “thanks” for reading the blog, please download a new CD of magical winter music, produced by Steven Hewitt, known in the music world as Out Of Orion (Ox3), featuring acoustic guitar and Native American flute performances by C.S. Fuqua. The album can be heard and/or downloaded free at The physical CD, with two bonus tracks, can be purchased at for $6.99 plus shipping. Makes a great gift for the season! May you have you a wonderful winter and the happiest of holidays.

About the Author:
C.S. Fuqua’s latest book is Rise Up, his second collection of award-winning short stories, published by Mundania Press, available in print and eBook formats at Mundania Press.. His work appears widely in publications as diverse as Bull Spec, Slipstream, Pearl, The Year's Best Horror Stories, Christian Science Monitor, and many others. His published books include Big Daddy's Gadgets, Trust Walk short fiction collection, Notes to My Becca, Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie, If I Were (children’s poems), and Divorced Dads, among others. His short fiction and poetry collections have earned several “Year’s Best” honors. He is a musician and craftsman of Native American flutes which are sold through WindPoem flutes at For more information, please visit his website at

Monday, November 26, 2012

GUEST BLOG and Giveaway: Ron Hartman


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ron will be awarding signed cover flats for each tour stop and a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Please click on the tour banner above to see the other stops on the tour.

Where do Ideas Come From?

The Prophecy Chronicles: Prophecy Foretold was a labor of love for many years. For most of that time I didn’t even know what the story was going to be about, let alone the title or the main character. Like most of my story ideas, it started with a single kernel that took root in the fertile crannies of my mind, coming back to me whenever I let my mind wander. It all started when I was sixteen or seventeen, driving home in a snowstorm from a night job at a grocery store.

My family lived in rural Iowa, several miles off pavement on a gravel road. To get to that gravel road I traveled first from a wide paved highway (the “new” highway, even though it’d been there longer than I’ve been alive) to a narrow stretch of concrete with raised curbs and nonexistent shoulders (yep, you guessed it, the “old” highway), then finally to the meandering gravel path. Shortly after turning onto the old highway there was a series of s-curves. Alongside the road midway through these deceptively dangerous curves was a small field with a pond on the far side.

I was driving home in the snowstorm and as I came around the s-curves I saw the opening sequence in Prophecy Foretold, plain as day. I could see my car sliding across the road, crashing through a fence and rolling onto the frozen surface of that pond…only to have the ice break and send me into the depths. I remember shivering and thinking what a horrible way to go that would be! Fortunately I didn’t lose control, but that kernel took root and came to me often over the years.

Now fast forward a couple of years to when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a lit course that involved some creative writing assignments, one of which involved choosing one of a dozen images and writing a short mystery about it. I can’t remember any of the pictures except the one I chose. It was a black-and-white drawing showing a boy from behind. He sat on what looked like a flatbed train car riding rails along a raised causeway, water lapping along both sides of the pier. The car had a mast rising from the middle of it, a sail carrying it along the rails. Again, plain as day, I saw what that picture was meant to be: the ending of Prophecy Foretold. I knew the surroundings weren’t water, but rather a sea of acid, and the boy (but not a boy, a man) fled a desperate situation, the hopes of his people riding with him.

Just like the car wreck, this idea stuck with me, putting down seeds and flourishing in the darkness of my mind. It wasn’t until nearly fifteen years later that I finally realized those two ideas were kernels for the same story, that they would bookend my first novel. Where do ideas come from? I don’t really know, but for me they usually sneak up when I least expect it, blinding me with their clarity and branding themselves onto my mind. They are the vivid images that won’t leave, that come back to fill the silences at the end of the day. Sometimes they coalesce into a great story, and if you’re very lucky, into a series. Happy reading, and good luck with any surprising ideas that may sneak up on you and refuse to fade!

About the Author:
Ron Hartman has had a life-long passion for the written word and is an avid reader. The Prophecy Chronicles are his first written works. Ron graduated from the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy in 2000 and lives in Ottumwa, Iowa with his wife and three children. Buy the books at;; Amazon.

An accident made him a savior. Now Daniel Marten struggles to find himself and a way home while the armies of Naphthali battle to control him.

These are dark days for Naphthali. The king has been murdered, the land invaded by the Imperial Army. It will absorb Naphthali into an Empire that stretches across all of Enialé at any cost. The ravaged people cling to an ancient promise, an assurance that a Prophesied savior will come to set them free…Daniel Martin is trapped in a life that hasn’t gone as expected. His pharmacy is struggling and he is losing all hope of making a difference in his patients’ lives. His family is the one shining light in his disenchanted life, but he is torn from them when an accident draws him to Naphthali. The people need him but Daniel is driven by his need to return to the family he loves. Is he the Prophesied One? Only time will tell as both the Empire and the Resistance battle for Daniel while the fate of Naphthali hangs in the balance…

Wednesday, November 7, 2012



Long and Short Reviews welcomes Paul Xavier Jones, whose latest book Ameca J and the Legacy of Menindus was released by Storyteller Publishing in October. The second book of the series will be coming out in December.

I asked Paul to tell us about his family.

"My wife is Mandy, and we’ve been married 23 years. We both knew each other in school, and if you’d asked us both then would we ever believe we’d be married to each other, we would both probably have answered that we were the least likely partners we could think of. My oldest daughter is Ameca (16), and the youngest is Fraya(12). The Ameca J series is obviously based around their physical and mental traits, and when I wrote them originally, for them to learn how to get along with each other! That never worked…"

He's currently working on a sequel to his sci fi thriller, Boundary Limit, which is called No Boundaries, and next year he will be writing the fifth book in the Ameca J series, which is as yet untitled. He's also working on a short story for a friend called "Tales from Talgarth," which is aimed at younger readers.

"What inspired you to start writing?" I asked.

"I started writing after a colleague came into my office and showed off his new book. When I saw it and read it, I thought to myself, there’s no reason I couldn’t write a book. My first book was dedicated to my late Grandfather, who raised me. I previously wasn’t very good at finishing big projects, but I knew if it was dedicated to him, then I would feel so guilty if I didn’t finish it that it would drive me to do it." This was in 2003 and his first book was published in 2007. He's written seven books since then, but with the publication of the Ameca J series by Storyteller Publishing, he told me that he considers himself "'more' of a writer."

In his opinion, the plot is important—it has to be believable and the author has to emphasize plot points so the reader remembers them and makes logical links.

"I also think it’s fairly important to use senses based descriptions to make the book came alive," he told me. "That means not only showing the readers what the characters see, but what they smell, touch, taste and hear."

The hardest part of writing for Paul is fitting it into his day job.

"I run two businesses which are service based and depend on my personal time, so trying to get writing in as well is really tricky. It usually involves throwing my laptop open on a train or in a café before I start work," he explained.

When he's not working or writing, he loves watching his local regional rugby team, the Ospreys, and their neighbours the Scarlets, as long as they’re not playing against each other. He llikes to read when he has the time, but apart from that, his weekends are generally spent being a taxi service for his kids.

"Do you hear from your readers much?" I asked. "What do they say?"

"I get comments mainly by Facebook, asking me when the next in a particular series is going to be written and released, or in the case of some of my fans, nagging about when it may be released, which incidentally is a fantastic feeling for a writer to have."

About the Author:
Paul Xavier Jones is a Welsh writer living in the Swansea Valley with his wife and two daughters. Xavier is his pen name, based on an old nickname.

Paul is and always has been an avid sci fi and fantasy fan, graduating from Marvel and DC comic book superheroes to the realms of Middle Earth and Cimmeria. Authors who have influenced Paul’s thinking and writing are Stephen King, Dean Koontz, J R Tolkien, Robert E Howard, Edgar Rice Boroughs, Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler and more recently, Andy McNab.

His own work is Epic Fantasy (the Ameca J Series) and Science Fiction Thrillers (Boundary Limit).

Linked In:
Reviews on Goodreads:

Teenage life seems vastly unfair to fourteen year old Ameca—or Ameca J, as she prefers to be called—always being pressured by her Dad to watch out for her stupid and annoying ten year old sister, Fraya. But when the girls are mysteriously transported by The Spirit to a dangerously different world populated by medieval Men, noble Elves, magnificent Dragons, and savage creatures, Ameca’s whole perspective has to change—and change quickly if they are to escape the clutches of an evil entity known as the Scelestus, who wants them for the magical powers they did not even know they possessed.

Their stressed out and overworked father, Paul is summoned by The Spirit to join his daughters in the mythical land of Mythrania, where he learns that they are “the One, the Flame, and the Flower.” They are the heirs to the legendary High Magi, Menindus, who foretold of their coming to save this world and their own…But this is no fairytale; the dark entity known as the Scelestus has a plan to harness the power of the universe and to completely dominate all life…Can Ameca and her family stop the Scelestus, and prevent a catastrophe that would see the enslavement of countless worlds, as well as the destruction of their own…?

Part II of the Ameca J Chronicles

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: J. Gabriel Gates


Leave a comment to win a print copy of Blood Zero Sky.
J. Gabriel Gates: Fall Guy

You’ve got to love fall. Rustling leaves, crisp air, apple cider, Halloween, and the prospect of holing up inside in front of a fire while the world outside descends into the stillness of winter. To me, this is the most evocative of seasons, a time of emotional changes and transitions. Even long after an adult has left their school days behind, we are still filled with residual seasonal feelings: mourning at the end of summer, excitement over the start of a new school year.

I didn’t always get to experience the change of seasons. Before I moved back to my home state of Michigan, I spent three years living in Florida, followed by nine years in Hollywood. I was pretty sick of the cold weather by the time I moved out of state at eighteen years of age, but I soon grew to miss the changes in season. There was something especially strange about living in Southern California, where a seemingly endless precession of warm, sunny days was enough to make me forget that weather existed at all. I remember having phone conversations with my father in Michigan where he would say to me, “wow, we got a lot of snow last night,” and I’d think to myself: wait. It’s winter? In the eerie, unchanging, seasonless world of Los Angeles, time became a meaningless blur. Days bled into months and months into years, without anything at all to mark their passing. It was disorienting, and ultimately a little scary.

Perhaps that experience was one of the reasons I made the cycle of seasons an important thematic element in my new YA fantasy series of martial arts, magic and star-crossed love, The Tracks. Book 1, Dark Territory, takes place in the autumn, at the beginning of the school year. The Magician, the trilogy’s mysterious pseudo-villain, makes an appearance by coalescing out of a swarm of blowing red leaves. Book 2, Ghost Crown, features a dramatic cooling of the hot love story between the saga’s star-crossed couple, and the Magician sports a robe of icy, pale blue as he appears out of a swirling blizzard. Book 3, Shadow Train, isn’t out yet—in fact, I just finished writing it—but its pages feature a mighty effort by the story’s characters to reverse the bleak losses endured in book 2. Reunification and renewal are major themes in this book and in it, as you may have guessed, the Magician appears in a robe of tender green. Coincidentally, book 3 will be coming out in the spring, too. The book’s seasonal color themes are also reflected in the books’ covers, a request of mine that the publisher was kind enough to grant.

But that book doesn’t come out until spring. This fall, I’ve donned my new clothes, gathered up my pens, and gone forth like a giddy kid, excited at the start of a new school year. Except instead of hitting the books, I’m signing them— doing a book tour around the Midwest to promote my new dystopian sci-fi epic, Blood Zero Sky. The cycle of seasons may be unending, but some things never change. About the Author: J. Gabriel Gates is the author of the teen fantasy series The Tracks (Book 1: Dark Territory, Book 2:Ghost Crown), horror novel The Sleepwalkers and most recently, the epic sci-fi adventure Blood Zero Sky. For more information on him and his work, please visit his website:

You can also “like” him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter at @JGabrielGates.

Are you a writer? J. Gabriel Gates is now accepting a limited number of aspiring authors for mentorship sessions. For more information, click here:

Halloween Blogfest Matthew D. Ryan


A Woman Scorned

Alia felt a knife twist in her heart as her thoughts returned to that bitter, cruel moment. “I don’t love you anymore,” Svenson had said. “I’ve met someone else. We’re done.” He’d been firm and forceful. She knew him well enough to know she wouldn’t be able to change his mind. So, she had accepted the news with as much grace as she could and walked away, alone and into the night. Let him have his secret liaison with his new lover. Let him…

But she hurt. Badly.

And, truthfully, she wasn’t willing to let him go. At least, not without exacting retribution.

The moon hung high in the sky. A full moon. On Halloween. One of the most powerful combinations possible. She stood naked in the clearing, her breasts glistening in the moonlight, the steel knife glittering in her hand. Beside her in the cage, the wolf cub yipped in fear. She glanced at it, seeing only a flurry of moving shadows, then bent and opened the hatch. She reached inside and expertly grabbed the small creature by the scruff of his neck. Something he deserves, she thought before plunging the knife into the yelping wolf cub’s throat. The pup writhed spasmodically, then grew still. She touched her fingers to its wounded throat, painted three arcane symbols across her chest, then touched her fingertips to her tongue. Next, she began to dance, moving about the clearing in a liquid series of motions of swaying hips and gesturing arms. She began to chant:

“Neljiru, Lord of the Lake of Geziron, in the blackest pit of hell.
Master of a thousand forms, and the dark seas that swell.
Come to me, oh, Dark One, and deliver my wish to fate,
Curse the faithless heart with blood of the wolf irate.”

Finally, she took the lock of hair, his hair, a gift he’d given her many weeks ago, and lifting it up, scattered it on the wind. The many golden follicles flittered away from her, riding the wind currents into the unknown reaches of the night.

A shadow formed at her feet. A growing, cloud of dark mist that writhed and undulated like a tortured, living thing. The mist grew upward in the shape of a large black pillar. It sprouted wings, a head, arms and jagged teeth. Piercing red eyes burst forth. “Mistress,” the thing of evil said, “I’ve come to offer service, but you must offer payment.”

Smiling, she bowed her head. “Anything you require, my Lord and Master.”


Svenson gently stroked his fingers across the smooth, soft skin of Mia’s face. She looked up at him, eyes sparkling and full of light, her blond hair faintly glittering beneath the stars. He bent down and kissed her; she melted into his embrace. He felt his passion grow; his arms enfolded her. Then…

A far off keening pierced the night air. He looked up, and Mia shrank into him, looking frightened. “What was that?” she asked.

“Nothing,” he said. “A wild dog, maybe.” Then, the pain started. The full moon burst from the clouds and a great spasm shook his body. He staggered backward, agony lancing through his bones. Mia took a step toward him, then stopped, a look of horror on her face.

It felt as if his very bones were expanding; as if his flesh and sinew were a great muscled hand and his skin a much too small glove bursting in its efforts to contain him. He dropped to his knees, clutching his chest. His fingernails thickened; his teeth grew long. Tufts of fur sprouted across his body, and the last pieces of his sanity frittered away.

Then, all was a nightmare of slashing claws and shredding flesh.


Leave a comment for a chance to win a set of metal miniatures: A Classic Vampire Wars collection of two counts and slayers.

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, can be found on the Internet at:

Author’s Smashwords Page:
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Author’s Twitter Handle: @MatthewDRyan1
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He is the author of the dark fantasy novel, Drasmyr, available for free at:

Author’s Book Page:
Amazon: Drasmyr
Barnes and Noble: Drasmyr

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Blogfest Selah Janel


I feel like there’s a part of my soul that doesn’t wake up until October. Ever since I was a kid, this was the month that sparked my imagination even as far away as July. This was the month that I anticipated, waited for impatiently, and meticulously planned for. This was the month my parents knew that I would fall off the cliff into full-fledge crazy mutant mode. Why? Because this was the month that held the best holiday in the whole entire universe: Halloween.

As a kid, I used to delve through the Halloween decorations like some little girls dove into their Barbie dream houses. My mother, God bless her, even bought me plush ornaments I could play with like little dolls and Halloween-themed felt boards. I lived for the community parties, the fall foods, the cool weather on walks home from school, and spotting all the neighbors’ decorations. This was also the glorious decade of the eighties, so Halloween specials were on All. Month. Long. A full, glorious month of sitcoms doing Halloween stuff, cartoons airing their spooky specials, and regular networks playing B movies. I struggled to outdo myself costume-wise every year, until my mother finally drew the line when I wanted to be a baby witch riding piggyback on a mama witch, and I had to figure it out for myself (I did, but I also half fell apart the entire evening). Costumes were an excuse for me to explore new and original ideas, whether it was the Invisible Man, different variations of witches, Gizmo from Gremlins, Darth Vader, and an elf sitting on a mushroom (I know, looking back I pity my mother, too).

It just isn’t the same these days. The store aisles aren’t as jam-packed, people aren’t encouraged to theme their lifestyles out to the gills with spooky accessories, and some neighborhoods don’t even trick or treat on the actual day of Halloween. Back in my day, we went out at night. And I just want to point out that I am still alive. There was something magical about wandering around the neighborhoods (I always had a parent with me), getting lost even though you knew where you were because things look different on Halloween night. It’s part of the safe spookiness, the magic of just not knowing what’s going to happen next. I can’t help but think that kids today have lost some of that, and not just with all of the new restrictions and limitations. I was lucky to have parents that encouraged me to be crazy imaginative. We told stories about what might be lurking around corners as we trick or treated, we made giant ghosts to hang from our trees and life-sized scarecrows to sit on our porches to protect our pumpkins. We didn’t just buy a sign to hang on the door or our costume in a bag – that was sacrilege! We even had a couple of long-time family friends who gave us (gasp) candy apples and cookies that weren’t store-bought. And we ate them!

Granted, my parents were very protective of my sibling and myself. We were never put in any danger – they would have never let us do anything particularly stupid or unsafe. Yet we were given permission to get lost in the holiday the way some people get lost in Christmas. We were allowed to go crazy wondering ‘what if’ about ghosts and goblins and witches and monsters. And you know what? I’m really thankful. It’s true that I didn’t discover horror and outright scary stuff until I was older, but I owe a lot of my writer instincts to the fact that I was given permission to imagine. I was allowed to make goofy costumes out of whatever was lying around the house, I was allowed to stick up hand-drawn pictures on the windows because in my mind they turned the place into a haunted house. I was encouraged to go nuts with festive accessories. I was enabled to tell stories with all the decorations as we put them up and I was fed spooky tales on audio tapes played in the dark. I was allowed to make magic and for that I’m forever grateful.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a PDF of Mooner.


About the Author:
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.

She has four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including the historical vampire story 'Mooner', the contemporary short ‘The Other Man,’ and her first novel, the rock n’ roll urban fantasy In the Red. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology Bedtime Stories for Girls. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.

Catch up with Selah and all her ongoing projects at the following places:

Blog –
Fandom Scene Column –
Facebook Author Page –
Facebook Book Page –
Goodreads -
Amazon Author Page -
Twitter –

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: Ally Shields


Samhain: Is it only for Witches?

Samhain has been popularized in movies, books and pop culture as synonymous with Halloween. In reality it is an ancient Celtic ritual, still celebrated with solemnity by various pagan, neo-pagan, witch or wiccan groups.

The original Gaelic holiday (Oct. 31 - Nov. 1) was held at the end of the harvest and was first documented in 10th century Ireland. It soon became entwined with All Saints Day and the two are frequently incorporated as a celebration of the harvest and the dead.

It developed some interesting traditions with early celebrants walking and driving their cattle between two bonfires as a ritual cleansing. The bones of animals who provided food for the family were thrown into the fires. At the harvest meal, an empty place at the table was set for dead friends or family.

As the belief grew that Samhain represented a time of unusual supernatural power and a thinning of the veil between this world and the Otherworld, many celebrants added costumes and masks. This concealment, often imitating ghostly or terrifying creatures, was an attempt to deceive and ward off any wandering spirits.

In my urban fantasy, fire witch cop Ari Calin celebrates Samhain with her coven. They share a celebratory harvest meal and a ritual of renewal with traditional harvest foods and several bottles of wine! Since they are Otherworlders, no costumes are needed!

Do you know of any unique ways of celebrating the harvest time? Please share them with us.

FREE HALLOWEEN GOODIE! Anyone who leaves a comment to this post will automatically be entered in a Nov. 3 drawing for a free ebook copy of Awakening the Fire, an urban fantasy with witches, vampires and werewolves—and even a romantic line!

About the Author: Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest along the Mississippi River that is the setting for her urban fantasy series. Educated as a teacher and a lawyer, she led a varied career, including several years as a Juvenile Court Officer. She still lives near the Mississippi River with her miniature pinscher Ranger.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Blogfest: David M. Brown



The Writing Pilgrim left the outer peaks of the Wisdoms Mountains and descended into Beruvia. Once a land devastated by war, Beruvia was now a peaceful republic, the perfect place for the Writing Pilgrim to continue his search. He had been charged with finding a storyline for his master – author David M Brown, he of bad taste in football teams and a penchant for pizza.

Night was beginning to fall when the Writing Pilgrim noticed a myriad of beacons in the distance. It was the town of Lightcliffe. As the Writing Pilgrim drew closer he was halted by the sight of a glowing and malevolent face hanging from the main gates. The face had sharp teeth and contorted eyes, a raging fire seemed to burn within and the Writing Pilgrim was convinced he had happened upon a demon.

His thoughts were interrupted by a small group that appeared from the shadows. They each had a monstrous face, some of skulls, ghouls, goblins and dragons. The Writing Pilgrim felt his heart stop, he was so afraid. The battalion of creatures, most likely the minions of the fiery demon, were almost upon him.

‘Trick or treat?’ they said, holding their hands out expectantly.

‘Trick or what?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

‘Treat.’ One of the goblins reached for its face and lifted it effortlessly. What the Writing Pilgrim perceived as a face being ripped off turned out to be a mask. The rest of the group did the same. They were not monsters but children – humans, elves, dwarves, elamorgias and tolderes. The Writing Pilgrim could only smile at this display of Elenchera’s modern emphasis on equality and assimilation amongst its races.

‘Why were you wearing those masks?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

‘We’re trick or treating,’ one of the elves replied. ‘It’s Halloween. Didn’t you realise?’

‘Halloween? What’s that?’

‘It happens once a year on October 31,’ a girl said, rolling her eyes and clutching an axe. The Writing Pilgrim was relieved to see it bend.

‘I’m not familiar with this Halloween.’

The children all gasped and began whispering amongst themselves, some giggling others incredulous at the naivety of this stranger.

‘You should go into town,’ a toldere said. ‘It’s the LASR Halloween Blogfest. It’s being held in the mayor’s gardens this year.’

‘I can find out more about this Halloween event there can I?’ the Writing Pilgrim asked.

The children sighed and nodded.

‘Do you really know nothing about Halloween?’ an elamorgia asked. ‘Have you not seen one of those before?’ He pointed to the demon on the town gate.

‘Isn’t that a demon?’

The children all laughed.

‘It’s a jack-o’-lantern, silly,’ a girl said. ‘Every house in town has one. It’s just a pumpkin really but they carve them to look scary.’

The Writing Pilgrim was appalled that he had mistook a pumpkin for a demon.

The children were all beginning to shuffle their feet. Some had put their masks back on while others were shaking small bags and buckets insistently.

‘I should go to the Blogfeast,’ the Writing Pilgrim said. ‘I feel quite hungry.’

‘FEST!’ the children bellowed in unison.

‘Yes, that. Thank you for your help.’

‘You can’t go yet,’ a dwarf said. ‘Trick or treat, remember?’

‘Which means?’

‘It means give us sweets and candy or we play a trick on you,’ an elamorgia said.

‘I don’t have anything to give you,’ the Writing Pilgrim replied. ‘I don’t suppose you want a piece of my mind?’

‘Why did you come here?’ a girl asked.

‘I was trying to find ideas for an author I work with.’

‘Does he write books?’ an elf asked.

‘Yes,’ the Writing Pilgrim replied. ‘Here’s one. It’s called A World Apart.’

‘Is it any good?’ a boy asked.

‘I wouldn’t go that far, why?’

‘That can be your treat,’ a toldere said, taking the book from him. ‘There’s a big turnout expected for the Halloween Blogfest this year. One lucky commenter will win a copy of this book so thank you, stranger.’

The Writing Pilgrim watched the children run away into the heart of Lightcliffe. He waited until their giggles were distant before heading for the Blogfest to learn about Halloween.

Leave a comment to win a copy of A World Apart. About the Author: David Brown could be considered a fantasy fanatic, especially since he has spent the last 10 years developing a 47,000-year history for his fictional world of Elenchera. When converting his obsession into literary form, David commits himself to a rigorous writing and editing process before his work can meet his approval. Combined with the critical eye of his wife and a BA Hons in History and English, David's dedication leads him to his goal of inspiring readers through heartfelt stories and characters.

Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu's Epiphany and A World Apart, and the in-progress Ansel's Remorse and The Stars Beneath the Parapets combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten. David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month travelling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.

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Fezariu’s Epiphany – –
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A World Apart – – Smashwords -