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

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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Review of “Death’s Desire: Siren’s Lullaby Anthology” – Tracy A. Ball

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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Author Showcase – Jana Richards (Home Fires) (The Girl Most Likely)

Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

 

“I made such a mess of things,” she whispered. “I’m sorry for all the fuss I caused
everyone.”

Erik took a step toward her. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let you go alone in the dark.”

“You didn’t know I would stupidly walk out onto thin ice.” She shook her head. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be useful. I can’t stand feeling so bloody useless.”

“You’re not useless. You’re an amazing woman. Anders is a fool for letting you go.”

She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you.”

He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist, clinging to him. He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.

“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”

“I know I’m being stupid. Tears don’t solve anything,” she said against his chest. “But I was so cold, and so scared. I thought I was going to die.”

He tightened his hold and kissed her hair.

“Don’t think about it any more. You’re safe now.”

He heard her sigh, felt her relax against him.

“Yes. I’m safe.”

She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted, and Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing shallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.

 

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Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he’s eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

 

He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”

He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”

“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”

“Thanks Finn.”

“For what?”

“For believing in me.”

“Are you going to be okay now?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?

“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”

“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”

Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.

If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

 

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – Tracy A. Ball (Left on Marriottsville: Our Secret Nook Anthology)

Authors join together to support anti-bullying efforts with their words. Each has chosen one of three prompts and created a short story for your enjoyment.

1. You’re alone in your home and you keep hearing someone call out your name. What do you do?

2. Walking through an art gallery you come across a painting of yourself as a child, but it was painted more than 100 years ago.
How is this possible?

3. Driving on a dark, deserted road, your car breaks down, there is no cell service. A guy stops and offers you a ride. Do you take it? 

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Annalise is as brave as they come. That is until she gets stranded on a back road in an area that is ripe with culture-clash. Dennis is there to offer assistance if she can get a grip on her assumptions. Robbie’s arrival makes the challenge harder. Opposite of Dennis in every way, he calls to mind, a different set of judgments.

Accepting help from either man is a risk that will undoubtably offend the other— the only possible witness if things go wrong.

 

~~ Excerpt ~~

 

Headlights. A car came towards her. Help…or…uhh…not help… The vehicle rounded the curve, slowed as it passed her and kept going. 

“Wow.” She added ‘rude’ to her previous list of snobbish things to think about people who lived on Marriottsville Road.

Now, she really had to pee. “Oh god. This is terrible.” She rocked back and forth. Remembering her bladder put it into overdrive. Her options: none.

She opened the door an inch and listened. Nothing scurried, nothing charged. She opened it all the way and waited, just to be sure. Then, still clutching her phone she sprinted to the passenger side. When nothing jumped out at her, she held the phone in her teeth, yanked down her jeans and panties and tried to make the pee happen as fast as possible.

Relieving herself helped. She was outside the car and nothing happened. Now, she could put her overactive imagination to bed and think. She checked her cell. Still dead. 

The rustle of leaves and the snap of a twig made her hop on the hood, then the roof, petrified. A fox, a possum, a rabbit…something she wanted no part of crossed the road. 

That’s where she was when the second set of headlights landed on her. The car came from behind, slowing to a crawl when her hazards came into view. She hovered on her hood like a wide-eyed animal as the driver stopped alongside her, studied her a moment and drifted ahead. It was a man. Of course, it was. Smart people a.k.a. women, don’t drive on Marriottsville Road after dark. He pulled his car off the road and parked.

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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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