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A Cumberland Christmas: Our Christmas Nook Anthology by Tracy A. Ball (Book Showcase)

Enjoy this collection of holiday super short stories: these easy, quick reads are meant to entertain, introduce you to some new authors and get you in the holiday spirit. The challenge has been set for authors…four holiday-related prompts have been provided and authors respond by filling this collection with super short stories (max 5,000 words). Mixed genres, mixed point-of-views, there’s something in this collection for everyone!

 

Which stories will you explore first?

1. It’s Christmas Eve and you’re stranded in the airport. Televisions displaying all the outgoing flights suddenly display “cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.” There’s no getting out of this town tonight, not with a blizzard on the way, and certainly not in time for Christmas with your family…

2. Wrapping presents has always been a favorite pastime, but this Christmas while wrapping, you look out the window and notice the good-looking postal worker’s gloves are holey and the soles on their boots are worn out. Suddenly, you’re filled with an urge to do something nice, but what? Gifting gloves would be too obvious since you noticed they were needed. Perhaps you should go out on a date together or make a special meal?

3. On December 1st, you pull into your garage for the evening and notice an oddly-shaped, wrapped present has been left for you. Upon further examination, the tag has your name on it, with a note not to open until Christmas…

4. Grandfather always told me this snow globe was magic. So, I finally decided to give it a shake and see for myself… 

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Blurb: 

Everyone wants to meet somebody famous. But, not him…

Summary: 

A blizzard shuts down a small airport in Cumberland, MD., but not before stranding mega-star Kyle Varian Montgomery and his over the top entourage.

To the rescue is Jazlyn, Cumberland resident who is decidedly not a fan. Together, they learn, there is more to the gift than the package it comes in.

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Snippet:

“The room you gave Varian is on the front. It’s not conducive to proper rest. Varian’s not accustomed to being awakened before noon. Morning activity; people going to work, cars and what have you; it’s a bad mix. The other rooms are smaller so that makes things a little difficult.” 

“Difficult how? Every bedroom has a bed. What else does he need?” She didn’t give him time to answer. “You people have more than a healthy amount of nerve. I don’t know if you are assuming I have the largest bedroom or if you were being nosey, but let me assure you, he’s not getting my room, and I’ll thank you to stay out of it.”

Ginald sat the empty cup down to refill it. “Jazzy, you don’t understand what it’s like to be him.”

Her hand went to her hip. “If Varian wants another room, give him yours. In this house, guests take what’s given to them and with appreciation. If you can’t do that, you might want to consider making alternate arrangements.”

“Appreciation. You’re the one without appreciation.” He imitated her hand-on-hip stance. “No one would dare deal with a star the way you’ve dealt with him. You want us to be different from who we are because we happen to be in your presence. It’s almost is if you think by helping us, you became God, and we need to beg and grovel for our just due. We expect to be treated the same way we are always treated. If you can’t do that, you might want to consider making alternate arrangements for us.” Ginald swept from the room. He ruined his dramatic exit by returning a second later to get his coffee.

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Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love…and takes naps.

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Death O Death Horror Collection Vol 2 by Ellie Douglas (Book Showcase)

Ten Horror Stories

Unimaginable monsters to take your breath away.
What you can’t see will horrify you.
You’ll be squirming in sheer terror.
Real and unseen-evil awaits. Watching. Lurking.
When you least expect, it will pounce and consume you!
Safety warnings: May induce a rise in blood pressure.
Don’t read alone.
Keep the lights on.

The question is: Are you brave enough?

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 ~ Anthology Content ~

Don’t Look Under The Bed
Bogeyman
Can You Imagine
Grounders
Infest
Junkyard
Point Of No Return
Siphon
Trick or Treat
Why Aren’t You Scared


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~ Excerpt from Don’t Look Under The Bed

When Sue tried to wriggle out of its grip, she could feel her hair being pulled from the roots. A surge of pain filled her skull and ran down her spine to the very bottom of her feet. Right at that moment she felt like she had been electrocuted. The creature yanked on a section of her hair so hard and fast, that she’d been left with a large bald patch and more searing hot liquid ran down her back. Sue let out a fox like scream before gritting her teeth in excruciating pain.

Each time the beast pulled and ripped sections of her hair out, she felt like she was the ocean floor being repeatedly pounded by an anchor. The weight she felt pushing her into the floor made her feel as though her ribs were going to be crushed at any moment.

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K.Z., Amazon Customer, 5⭐: Death O Death is definitely not a collection of bed time stories.
Ellie Douglas new anthology can scare the socks off the tin man! You’re not in Kansas any more, Toto! Leave the lights on.
Every story reaches just a little farther into the terrifying world of madness and gore, each tale unique and graphically written to send a new shiver down the spine with every turn of the page.
Any fan of bloody horror stories will love this new collection!

 

Mark, Amazon Customer, 5⭐: This is not simply another collection of horror stories. There is nothing simple about them AT ALL! Ellie’s imagination is unparalleled as she weaves shock upon shock, like an overcharged Electroshock Therapy treatment. Each story doubles the voltage and is liable to cause massive brain seizures!!
Be scared. Be VERY scared.
Five ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars for the Mistress of Murder & Mayhem.

 

Andrea, Goodreads Contributor, 4⭐: An impeccable anthology!

I don’t call Ellie Douglas ‘Horror Queen’ for no reason. She is a phenomenal writer. Anthologies might be tricky. There’s always one or another story that you might prefer that weren’t in the book. That’s not the case here. The author presents us ten impeccable short stories that will scare you to death.


In the description of the book, Douglas tells us what to expect. And she defies us – “Are you brave enough?” Believe me when I tell you, and I’m entitled to tell you because I’ve read horror a lot, you must be really brave. From the first story on you can already see that she’s right to warn us. And I dare you not be scratching your head reading ‘Infested’.


For me, what makes Douglas’ stories so good is the fact that she can turn ordinary facts into something so frightening and/or create stories which have already been told so many times into something totally new making us surprised and, of course, terrified.
I loved all ten stories, but, of course, I have my favorites: ‘Junkyard’, ‘Can You Imagine’, and ‘Point Of No Return’. All three of them leave us in ‘tense mode’ and it’s hard to see what is coming. Brilliant!


There is something really cool in this book – ‘Trick Or Treat’ and ‘Junkyard’ were starred by two real life people. And don’t think the author went easy with the characters because of it, because she didn’t.


I’ve already read a few books by this author and will certainly read all of Ellie Douglas’ books. As I said, I don’t call her ‘Horror Queen’ for no reason.

 

Read more Goodreads’ reviews here –> Goodreads Link  <—

 

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Born and raised in New Zealand, a mother and wife who donates what spare time she has into volunteer work with Autistic children.

Ellie Douglas is addicted to horror, everything about it she loves. She enjoys creating strong characters that rise to the top from ordinary lives.

Her love affair with horror has seen her produce three award winning horror books. With many more on the way.

Ellie is creative in all aspects with several adult coloring books and an online casino slot game under her belt. She is constantly striving to do more.

Ellie also makes professional book covers for authors and she makes websites, banners, and logos too.

Ellie’s ultimate aim is to give back, paying it forward and to constantly better herself. To give the audience amazing entertaining stories that she herself would read.

She would love to scare you…

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Witchling: An Anthology of Zoraida Grey Short Stories by Sorchia Dubois (Author Showcase)

Follow Zoraida’s magical journey with three short stories about her life as a small town fortune teller in the Midwest–Plus a tale about Castle Logan and how it got its dark reputation.

This collection makes a great introduction to the Magical World of Zoraida Grey. If you enjoy these stories, take a look at Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones in which Zoraida leaves her hometown and winds up in a haunted, witch-infested Scottish castle–Book 1 in the Zoraida Grey Trilogy.

Stories in the collection:

“Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”

“Zoraida Grey and the Twisted Sisters”

“Zoraida Grey and the Surly Spirit”

“The Witch and the Spaniard”

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Excerpt from “Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”

 

Why it works or how it works is a mystery to me. My spirit-self is somehow separate but not separate, the same but not the same. A glowing filament of ether connects it to me. It sees and hears and smells but it can’t do anything. Nobody else knows about it but me. And Granny. One time I sent my spirit-self to stand right beside her while she was cooking beets—just to see if she would notice. She jumped a little but then she smiled in a sad way. Then she hugged me real tight, leaving beet stains on my t-shirt. She never talked about it, but I got the feeling she knew somebody else who had a spirit-self long ago and thinking about it mad her sad.

Tonight, my spirit-self is uneasy. The odor of carrion mixes with the musk of stagnate water. My spirit chases the glowing wisp of scent past the scummy pool, gliding across the choked stream, over the ends of worms and half-chewed bones in the ooze, into the dense brush surrounding heaped stones to a dark opening.

A raccoon’s den, perhaps. Or the abandoned home of any of a hundred animals who live in the lush woodlands. I move closer, peeking into the gloomy cave. Spirit journeys are absolutely silent, but something inside the cave stirs at my approach. It’s too late to run.

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Award-winning author Sorchia Dubois lives in the piney forest of the Missouri Ozarks with seven cats, two fish, one dog, and one husband.

A proud member of the Scottish Ross clan, Sorchia incorporates all things Celtic (especially Scottish) into her works. She can often be found at Scottish festivals watching kilted men toss large objects for no apparent reason.

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Death’s Desire: Siren’s Lullaby Anthology by Tracy A. Ball (Book Review)

Enchanted Anthologies presents Siren’s Lullaby, an intertwined novel told by six authors. 

‘The madness of the eyes is the lure of the abyss.’

Three women are left stranded on a small Island near Sicily, Italy, to starve, but they won’t give up easily. Joining together to fight to survive, they make a deal with a demon of the sea. 

The only catch is they must lure ships to the rocks using their voices and sink the ships along with the men aboard. 

Three pirates–brothers–who haven’t agreed on much since their mother died get back together for a long journey. They long to rid themselves of the curse placed on them by a sea witch. 

An insatiable hunger felt by the seductress sirens and the deadly pirates will join them together in more ways than they could ever have thought. 

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I didn’t know where the others were, but Tristian, Rauel and I were taken to a pen. It wasn’t large or particularly comfortable but a small cave with bars that appeared to have been salvaged from some-long forgotten ship. I imagined lots of things from long-forgotten ships were hoarded in these caves.

Tristian and Rauel belonged to my vanguard. Deadly fighters and trustworthy men. That was, if you considered men who plunder to be trustworthy. I knew enough about them to anticipate what was coming. Tristian was claustrophobic. He hesitated at the cave’s entrance and turned on the siren. 

I drew my sword and turned on him. “We all must die sooner or later. Your choice.”

Rauel went into the cave without a backward glance. He had called me unpredictable on more than one occasion.

“Baldassare, I can’t go in there,” Tristian said.

“You can, and you will.” I nudged him with my sword tip.

It was low, almost inaudible. I felt it before I heard it, snaking its way around my heart. My sword arm went limp. Tristian didn’t notice. He, too, was captured by the siren’s magic. Rauel came forward, enchanted, called by this temptress. The bitch. I didn’t understand what she was doing, but I didn’t want her to stop.

All too soon, she did stop. I was sure we looked as stupid as we felt. 

“Get in the pen.” Her words were cold, but her eyes were black magic. My member stiffened, not for the first time since I’d seen her.

She noticed. 

“There are seven deadly sins,” she said. “I can sing and make you guilty of all of them.” She locked the cage behind us. 

“Wait,” Rauel called before she moved away. He didn’t have anything to say. He just didn’t want her to leave.

She paused.

“Who built this?” He touched the bars.

While he talked, I committed her to memory. I wanted a detailed image when I pampered my erection. 

“You are not the first men to make landfall.” She spoke as if he was impertinent for asking. 

Tristian knelt, pressing his face against the bars, taking deep breaths. “There are other men here?”

“Not any longer.” She thought a minute, then said to me, “Perhaps, you’ll be next.”

“Then I best get busy.” I nodded my head once in the direction of my crotch.

Her exquisite bottom lip dropped open. It quivered like she had something naughty to say. She came very close to me, reached out to touch me…only she didn’t. Damn. I wanted her to touch me. Her fingers were a wisp away from cupping my groin. Oh, please… 

“I can sing all seven sins.” This time, she did not look back.

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(review request of “Death’s Desire” submitted by the author, Tracy A. Ball,  for an honest critique) 

“Death’s Desire” conveyed beautifully the enticing power of a siren’s call, the magnitude of their power, and the lure of their body.

As we know from mythology, sirens are irresistible and bloodthirsty beings. Tracy capitalized nicely on illustrating their seductiveness and their insatiable hunger to feed on victims that cross their path. She also allowed readers to witness their capacity for the emotion – love.

Twist and turns, love and death, “Death’s Desire” could’ve went on to a full-length novel. As “Death’s Desire” came to a close, I came to realize I didn’t want Baldassare and the sirens’ story to end.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

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Novelist, Reviewer, Content Editor, Blogger, T-shirt Wearer, and Professional Snacker; Tracy A. Ball is a native Baltimorean and a veteran West Virginian whose family is blended from three cultures. She has opened her home to foster children, drug addicts, AIDS victims and anyone who needed an assist. She knows people who have committed murder and people who have dined with the Pope.

Which is why she writes sweet stories about tough love…and takes naps.

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Multi-Author Showcase: Christmas Revels (Anthologies)

Four Regency Christmas novellas, from Kate Parker, Hannah Meredith, Louisa Cornell, and Anna D. Allen.

“A Light in Winter or The Wicked Will” – Debt-ridden Connor Grayson inherits his uncle’s title and ruined estate. But in order to receive his uncle’s money, the new Viscount Roxbury must marry an ancient crone—a fate he considers…until he meets her companion. 

“The Lord of Misrule” – Everyone expects the Earl of Morrell to propose to Alice Caruthers during the Christmas holidays. Finally! But when the earl’s best friend arrives as the lucky First Foot on New Year’s Eve, Alice’s world turns upside-down. 

“God Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen” – Newlywed Eugenia, Lady Hunter, wants to impress her aristocratic in-laws with her first Christmas house party — but blackmail, dead bodies, and being snowed in with a killer are not part of her plan. 

“A Perfectly Dreadful Christmas” – Three not-so-wise gentlemen, a pregnant stranger, several tumbling footmen, and an unexpected snowstorm will turn Elizabeth’s Perfectly Ordinary Christmas into a disaster…or a Christmas miracle with the man she loves.

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Let the Revels begin—again! Four new stories with four distinctive voices: 

“The Vicar’s Christmas” – Margaret Trent never needs anything or anyone, but when two London solicitors show up on her doorstep, she needs a hero. Enter Henry Ogden, mild-mannered village vicar. Hardly the stuff of heroes . . . until adversity brings out unexpected talents. 

“A Christmas Equation” – A chance meeting between a reluctant viscount and a self-effacing companion revives memories of their shared past—a time when they were very different people. With secrets to keep, Sarah Clendenin wishes Benjamin Radcliff gone . . . but he’s making calculations of his own. 

“Crimson Snow” – A trail of blood drops leads Jane Merrywether to a wounded stranger—the only person standing in the way of her wicked guardian becoming an earl. John Rexford, long-thought dead, has returned to claim his inheritance and his promised bride . . . if he can survive a murderous Christmas. 

“A Perfectly Unregimented Christmas” – After years at war, Viscount Pennyworth returns to his ancestral home to find some peace and quiet and to avoid the holiday he loathes. But four naughty boys, a bonnet-wearing goat, a one-eyed cat, a family secret, and one Annabelle Winters, governess, make this a Christmas he’ll never forget. 

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When days turn dark, Christmas brightens the way… Come Revel with us again!

“Magdalena’s Christmas Rake” – Thomas Eddington comes home for a family Christmas to discover his mother in a matchmaking mood. Worse, she has invited his childhood nemesis, “Mad Maddie” Winslow, to act as chaperone to the eligible debutantes. For her part, Magdalena Winslow hopes to go unnoticed. She certainly wants nothing to do with a London rake, and she’s not afraid to let him know it. 

“Christmas Promise” – When skaters at a Christmas house party find a dead man beneath the ice, the squeamish local magistrate relies on Eve Franklin to help with the investigation. Complications arrive with Lord Adam Downing, who is searching for the dead man – and stolen jewels – on orders from the Prince of Wales. Eve must now convince the aristocrat to view her as an equal—but he sees her as so much more. 

“The Christmas Rose” – Lord and Lady Trenton have an exemplary society marriage—an amicable partnership. Simon dedicates himself to his Parliamentary responsibilities and estate concerns. Emma devotes herself to their children and her charitable endeavors. But when the stress of the coming Christmas season fractures their facade of marital harmony, they discover what they both really need and want. Each other. 

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The Revels Continue…

“The Sergeant’s Christmas Bride” – Sergeant Jacob Burrows just wants a place to bed down for the night. He never expects to be confronted by a lady with a gun. Elizabeth FitzWalter intends to drive the stranger off her land, until she realizes he meets her most pressing need.

“Home for Christmas” – When Charity Fletcher receives a mysterious bequest—a house by the sea—she hopes to rebuild her life. Lord Gilbert Narron leases a seaside house to hide from his memories of war. Charity’s refuge is Gil’s bolt-hole… but what both are seeking is a home for their hearts. 

“A Memorable Christmas Season” –The last thing Lady Roekirk expects at her Christmas party is a dead traitor in her parlor… or the Crown’s Spymaster helping her hide the body. Thirty years earlier, she’d been forced to wed another and Lord Keyminster became a spy. After this long, does their love stand a chance?

“A Perfectly Unforgettable Christmas” – Every day, Lucien Rollinsby endures a memory of Christmas Eve. Not even his lovely new neighbor can make him forget that horrible night five years ago. Caroline McAlasdair remembers that Christmas Eve, too. But if Lucien recalls her presence there, it will destroy their only chance at happiness forever.

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Christmas with the Regency Lords and Ladies is Always Unexpected—So Let the Revels Begin.

“Mr. Hunt’s Christmas Caller” – After his anticipated betrothal falls apart, Matthias Hunt wants nothing to do with Christmas festivities. Yet, when quiet, demure Constance Blackwell unexpectedly gives him a piece of her mind, he wonders why he never considered her. Delivering gifts for her aunt, Constance dreads facing Mr. Hunt in the wake of her hasty words. After years of secretly loving her neighbor, she can hardly expect a Christmas miracle… until the weather changes.

“The Christmas Gamble” – In exchange for her guardian’s gambling debts, Lizzie Hancock is pledged to marry the Earl of Stonebrook, a man she’s never met. When she arrives for the Christmas wedding, the bridegroom is missing, the servants are secretive, and a prodigal brother has returned. Could Lizzie gain everything she desires—if she’s willing to gamble on love?

“The Gnome and the Christmas Star” – The Earl of Marle has an uncanny ability to judge political candidates, but he’s a failure in matters of the heart. After years spent caring for her late husband, the Dowager Viscountess Lyndon fiercely clings to her new independence. An unlikely meeting offers them both a second chance at happiness, but a Christmas miracle is needed to claim it. 

“A Perfectly Ridiculous Christmas” – Valerian, Viscount Keynsham will do anything to ensure his best friend’s marriage to a wealthy heiress, including claim the man’s three young Creole daughters as his own. Lady Catherine Chastleton needs a manageable husband to claim her inheritance. As the children try to keep their stories straight, Christmas will be anything but manageable.

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Hannah Meredith is, above all, a storyteller. She’s long been fascinated by the dreams that haunt the human heart and has an abiding interest in English history. This combination led her to write historical romance. She hopes you enjoy her tales. You can visit Hannah online at www.hannahmeredith.com.

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Anna D. Allen is an award-winning writer noted for her eclectic style in the genres of speculative fiction and Regency Romance. She is also a scholar specializing in the people and lost communities around Cane Creek, Calhoun County, Alabama, in the mid-19th Century. Her fiction is available from Smashwords, ibooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon. (Original cover art by Adam Tetzlaff)

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Kate Parker began reading Agatha Christie mysteries and the Nancy Drew books while her classmates were reading Dick and Jane. She particularly likes historical mysteries and the feeling of time travel a good historical book can give the reader. Combined with her love of late Victorian to World War II architecture and fashions, she found an outlet for the stories and characters that fill her head by writing The Victorian Bookshop Mysteries and The Deadly series, as well as taking part in the Christmas Revels anthologies.

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 For a long time, reading fairytales was enough for me. Then I had to write them, because there are stories in my head that simply must be told. 

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