Tuesday, October 3, 2023



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Once Upon a Nightmare

A Wylder Tale

There had been a time when Resha had not hated her father, when her only concern had been checking her traps and learning knives from Grandfather. But that was before their village on the ridge of Mount Grimm had been attacked and destroyed by their enemies. After that, she’d learned a hunter’s claws must be longer and sharper. A hunter must always be prepared to fight as well as flee, Father said.

“Stay close, Resha,” her father hissed, drawing her attention to their bleak present. 

She glanced ahead to see a moonlit shadow of his harsh figure. He looked every bit the predator he intended to be, with a wicked glint to his eye and battle scars. Before his death, Vilhelm had adopted this same stance as their father. Each time he returned from a raid, her brother would boast of the scars that showed man’s superiority over beast. Now that Vilhelm and Grandfather were lost to them forever, Father saw to her training. And soon she too must live by the code of tooth and claw.

“The beasts rely on their fangs and hooks, but they forget we are smarter,” Grandfather had often said. He had been hunting with her father when the enemy had surrounded him, ripping his intestines out. She’d taken the news bravely in front of her village, as was expected of her, and cried in the shelter of fir trees later. Men never lived long this far in the mountains, so close to the mirror. 

“Resha!” Father called again, only now he had turned to glare at her. His rough hands tensed against the handle of his axe. “Get your head out of the fog, pup. Don’t forget we have a debt to repay. Sometimes I wonder if you are too soft to be a predator after all. How can you dawdle when we are so close we can taste their blood? Remember, you are a hunter, not a lamb.” 

She cringed against the force of his fury, even though it wasn’t entirely directed at her. Still, she felt the weight of his expectations as much as his underlying berserker hatred for the ones they hunted. 

Torch fire illuminated his features and reflected in his eyes when her mother came to stand between them. “Enough, Wolfsbane!” she hissed. 

His fierce gaze flickered from Resha to Mother’s cloaked frame. Though she could not see her mother’s expression, it must be equally fierce. Her father wilted beneath Mother’s silent strength. He bowed his head and, without further argument, turned back to continue the hunt. 

Only then did Mother turn to face her. Torchlight revealed the deep circles under her round golden eyes, the strain she had endured since the last attack on the village. But there was no sympathy in her gaze, only sorrow. “Stay close to me, pup,” she whispered and lifted a hand to cup Resha’s cheek.

Resha nodded, savoring the brief affection, and moved out of the cold shadows, into the halo surrounding Mother. She could always rely on her mother’s warmth. Her mother’s skin almost burned to the touch at times. Among a people who could stand the harshest of winters, Mother always seemed strongest. 

Resha tightened her grip on the leather wrapping of the bone knife her grandfather had made her two moons ago. Grandfather had been the first victim, a prelude to the evil that had come for them soon after. She remembered little of the way he’d looked before Father had dragged his corpse back to the village, or rather what was left of his corpse. When she closed her eyes at night it was that look of frozen terror in her grandfather’s eyes she saw. 

They had been on the run ever since the attack on Mount Grimm. An entire moon had passed since half the village had been murdered, including her brother Vilhelm. If any others survived they were hiding deep in the mountains. 

The beasts had always been a threat to them. But recent attacks alluded to a new hunger to wipe out the last true folk living in the Wylder Mountains. Some in the village had blamed Wolfsbane and his quest to avenge Grandfather’s death. Now those who might still have blamed her family were dead.

Now all that was left to them was this hunt, her first true hunt. Before this she had been little more than a trapper, practicing her knife on the small creatures she’d found in the woods near their village. Every time she’d ended a hare or tripe’s life, she’d felt nothing of the thrill the other children did. 

“Sometimes I wonder if you are too soft to be a predator after all.”

Truly, Father’s words resonated with her far more deeply than she wanted them to. A part of her was so much a child. She had never plunged her knife into the heart of a true beast. It was her greatest fear she would fail in a task Vilhelm would have fulfilled without flinching. Now the legacy of vengeance was left to her hands and the dagger Grandfather had made for her last moon day. 

Resha released a deep breath and watched it hover in the freezing air. The territory they hunted in was new, closer to the lost city than most of their kind had ever dared to trail. Her father said they were searching for signs of man and beast. Father crouched and inspected every curve of the path the tracks had made. It was difficult to see anything but shadow and snow. Yet she could almost feel the faintest traces of their prey’s footfalls. It was the smell and the warmth Wolfsbane was following now. 

Her attention was diverted by a bright splash of red along the roots of a nearby tree trunk. Her stomach clenched at the thought of the berries hanging from those thin branches. Mother had told her to forage whenever they came across nuts and rare plant life. Just because they were hunting didn’t mean she couldn’t savor a morsel. And she might even snatch enough to save for when they made camp. She glanced up, hopeful Wolfsbane would not notice.

She poked through the fur wrappings keeping her palms and wrists warm, making quick work of the winter berries. Meanwhile, she kept her eye on the glow of torchlight up ahead and slipped the rest into the satchel attached to her belt. The juice stained her fingers a faint purplish hue and she licked them, hoping to hide the evidence. Her eyes shut involuntarily as she drank in the sweet taste. 

A hand grasped her wrist roughly and pulled so she was forced to face Wolfsbane’s grizzled visage. 

“Foolish pup!” he growled. “This land is cursed and you are a fool to touch it. Do you wish to fall asleep forever in these woods?” With every word he squeezed her wrist tighter, drawing tears from her eyes. 

“Wolfsbane!” her mother interrupted, gripping his arm. “You will not harm our last remaining child. She is hungry and we have not stopped for three days. Leave her be.”

They stood together against the torch, the light illuminating the sickly rage in Father’s eyes and the fear in Mother’s. Resha tried not to give into that same fear. Father would only see it as a weakness. He was too deep into the hunt and too addled by grief to know better.

So she lifted her chin and willed her tears to stop. To say anything would only spark his fury again. Instead she kept her eyes locked with his. Mother’s fingers crept higher, resting over both her wrist and her father’s tense grip. His anger faded, and for a moment, Resha saw the love her father had for her. He opened his mouth to speak and hope bloomed in her chest.

That was the moment a chorus of howls rose together like a nightmare in the woods around them. The cries began ahead of them, further up the valley. Often she had heard them in the distance as a small child within their cottage. Never had she heard them so close and so far away from all she knew. 

Her breath came in short, violent gasps as her heart pounded in her ears. These were the beasts who had stolen everything from them, the ones they had been hunting ever since. 

For the first time, Resha felt the stirring of the hunt in her blood.

“At last they have picked up our scent,” Wolfsbane growled. He rounded with the fluid movement of a master hunter. He bent his knees slightly as he pulled a second curved blade from its sheath to mirror the double-bladed axe he held with his other hand. 

Resha wiped the remains of her tears away before they could freeze and reached for her mother’s hand. More howls rose into the night and this time seemed to come from every direction. Sounds in the forest often echoed loudly within the forest’s walls, making their location difficult to track with human ears.

“We cannot meet them head-on, my love,” Mother pleaded. 

“Listen to the fear in their cries, Nephthys.”

“Wolfsbane, please,” she urged. 

Some of the madness softened as he looked at her. Another howl sounded nearby, closer this time. His brow lowered and darkened. “Move!” Father demanded as he pivoted and took them down a different path. 

Resha clung to her mother’s comforting warmth and the torchlight in her free hand. Together they stumbled over thick snow drifts and tree roots. Renewed energy filled her, giving power to her steps. A mysterious inner power filled her limbs and made her run like the wind. Mother picked up her pace to match her, though they were nowhere close to meeting Father’s retreating back. Their breaths came in quick, short pants at first. And then a strange calm fell over her and the snow and limbs were no longer obstacles. In this moment she became a part of the forest and avoided pitfalls and roots with ease. She felt free as the howling winds and the birds of prey that trailed them. 

The wolves were closer now, their cries coming from the thicket her family had just fled. It wouldn’t be long before they were forced to confront them. Fear joined her fleeting joy but she forced it back down. 

Grandfather’s rough voice came to her mind. “A hunter must own and relish in fear, to give speed and focus in the fight.”

Father stopped half a league ahead to wait for them. His head swiveled to gather as much of their surroundings as he could. She knew he was seeing more than the forest. Already he was making plans for their attack, trying to guess where the enemy would come from. He turned to face them as soon as they approached the edge of the small clearing. It was almost more painful for her to stop running than it had been to begin. 

Her mother spoke through strangled breaths. “Shall we bait them here, then?”

Wolfsbane nodded as if her words were no more than a distraction, his focus entirely on the forest around them. Resha kept hold of her mother’s arm, amazed the torch she held was still lit and burning steadfast. Father answered, “You will remain here with the pup.” 

Mother nodded. “The fire will hold them off long enough.” 

Wolfsbane looked down at them and his gaze fixed where Resha’s fingers gripped her mother’s arm. She flinched when he approached. 

He pushed his way between them with his burly frame and forced her to stand in the cold with him. He flipped the long, silver dagger so its worn handle faced her. “Take your claw, pup,” he growled. 

Resha gasped, choked on her words as he took her hand and forced it to grip the dagger. This was called White Fang, a blade almost as legendary as the hunter who owned it. It had been long told in the village that as a youth, Wolfsbane had destroyed an entire pack on his own, thus earning his name. 

“Use this and avenge your brother’s death,” he said. 

Before Resha could spit out a reply, her father rushed away from them. He disappeared into night’s shade where not even the moonlight could penetrate.

The howls drew closer. In the forest, it was difficult to tell how far the enemy might be. At times a threat loomed closer than anticipated, or so she had heard. 

“Keep an eye out for shadows, little love,” Mother whispered. Their eyes met across the small gap Wolfsbane had made betwixt them. 

A howl cut through the brief silence and they turned in unison to face it. Resha listened to the crunch of her mother’s boots and tried to push her senses farther into the forest, where Father waited. He would try to cut around the pack’s path, rip apart their flank. But she wished he had remained to keep them safe. She jerked when her ears picked up the heavy huffs and puffs of beastly breath and peered past the white tree at her side. 

“Resha,” Mother hissed.  

Resha was frozen, tied to the sound of whatever awaited in the forest. She had never seen the creatures alive, only their pelts once the hunters returned from defending the border. And it was rare indeed for a hunter to return with more than one pelt. Father had once brought back thirteen. 

She screamed when something grabbed her cloak. She slashed with her knife as she was pulled back around. Mother stopped the blade with the wooden handle of her torch. A sob escaped Resha’s lips, only it sounded much smaller and younger than she wanted to be then. 

“It is all right, love.” Mother’s golden eyes sharpened, looking past her shoulder. “Climb this tree now. You’ll be safe there when the monsters come.”

Resha opened her mouth to protest. Father had told her to avenge her brother’s death. He would expect to find blood on her blade once they were finished with this pack. 

“No arguments,” Mother said, “you are too young for bloodshed, my little runt. Let me worry about your father.” 

With swift strength, she stuck the hilt of her torch into the snow and knelt to weave her fingers before Resha’s boot. 

The climb was hard when Resha’s hands already felt numb and frost had taken to the smoothed-over bark. Resha used White Fang to claw her way up the trunk until she found a wide branch to sit upon. She wrapped herself around it, pressing her cheek to the frozen limb, seeking to share the hibernating tree’s hidden warmth. 

Mother wasted no time in picking up her torch and removing a second from the pack against her back. With two lit beacons of flame at her fingertips, her mother seemed even stronger and more frightening. Light pushed the darkness farther at bay. Mother wove patterns in the air with each torch. 

A yelp followed by a wounded cry came from the nearby forest. Other cries of pain followed in quick succession, victims of her father’s axe. She recognized the crunch of bone and flesh, heard Wolfsbane’s grunts and strangled cries. He never remained in the same place, ever circling the tiny clearing she and Mother waited in. Resha felt a brief, wild hope that maybe he would do it again, destroy the pack alone before the monsters could appear. 

So she wasn’t prepared for one of the creatures to break from the forest and pounce onto the frozen earth in front of them. Its snout faced the tip of Mother’s torches. It was nearly double the size of the pelts she had seen from dumb wolves of lesser forests. This beast’s head nearly met her mother’s shoulders from all fours. Its black hair stood up on end as it snarled before the flames. A cloud of steam rose from its open jaws. 

Her mother was not awestruck or afraid, however, as she brought the other torch through the air to smack against the beast’s side. It fell back with a yelp while sparks singed its fur and its glowing eyes rolled. One of Mother’s secrets was the tar she used to light her flames. Now it coated the wolf’s coat and the fire had jumped from torch to creature. 

Another beast replaced its fallen brother. Mother met its snarl with a high-pitched cry and crossed the torches between them. The gray wolf darted around and clamped its jaws over the wood of the torch. Mother quickly brought the other overhead to bathe its back with living fire. The smell of burning flesh was almost unbearable.

Resha cried silently, because she knew then Father had been right. This was her fight as well, her rite of passage. She was failing him and she was too afraid to do anything about it. 

The second wolf clawed at the sparks singing its fur. A third appeared with a fourth at its side and this time they attacked in unison. Mother screamed as one ran into the torches’ path while the other darted low to snap at her legs. She fell and the beasts rushed her. The first black wolf staggered to its feet, smoke still rising from its burnt back, but determined to join in the feast. 

Resha didn’t recognize her own scream until she landed to the ground with a painful jab to her ankles. With Grandfather’s knife in one hand and White Fang in the other, she rushed the creatures. She barely rose over their massive heads, but did not hesitate to jump onto the back of the third wolf and plunge Father’s blade into its back. 

It took more force than she was prepared for to dig the blade into its flesh. So she followed the first feeble attempt with another, far more vicious. 

The next moments happened in a senseless blur. Vaguely she heard her mother scream and the crunch of bone, followed by Wolfsbane’s bellowing cry. She stabbed at the creature that had tried to kill Mother until they both lay prostrate in the snow. She struggled to free her leg from the weight of the dead creature and crawled over to her mother’s crumpled form. 

Tar trickled from Mother’s torches out onto the snow, lighting it with an unnatural glow, catching fire to the wolf Resha had killed. She hovered over her mother with White Fang in hand and slashed when another wolf dared approach. Their eyes met as it fell, and the snarl died from its beastly lips. 

Wolfsbane fought what remained of the rest of the pack at the edge of the tree line in a dance of shadow and moonlight. 

“Watch the shadows,” Mother had said.

Red pooled from her mother’s open belly and Resha screamed again. 

“Nephthys!” Wolfsbane cried out as he burst through the tree line. 

A massive, black-furred wolf used Resha’s distraction to attack. Her blade went into its side as they fell into the pooling blood behind Mother and against a nearby torch. It rolled with them so a crescent of fire haloed them. 

The black wolf clamped its teeth into her neck until her screams died and no sound escaped. The beginning acceptance of defeat pushed its way into her conscience. It was so tempting to give in. She had taken the life of the one that had taken her mother’s. She had avenged her brother’s death. She was a hunter now. But Mother would never know and Wolfsbane would hunt alone. Their kind, the last men of the Wylder Mountains, would fade into the snow like the majik of the lost city. 

Rage filled her limbs and though she could no longer scream, she snarled as she pulled White Fang from the beast’s side. She changed angles as she plunged it again, piercing the creature’s heart. Its jaw released her throat and it yelped as she rolled on top of it. Resha stabbed and slashed until she could no longer see past her tears and blood. 

Wolfsbane ended the last two monsters and at last his gaze fell to them. Resha watched as he stumbled to his knees before her mother. A bitter cry left his lips as he lifted Nephthys from the snow. His wails took the place of the wolves’ howls then. 

Resha knew deep down that she would never speak again. So many things she had thought and felt but never spoken aloud before out of fear. Now she could never tell Mother she loved her. She could never tell Wolfsbane that she wanted to be the kind of daughter a hunter could be proud of. 

Often she had longed to scream and make him understand that she would never be what he wanted her to be. She was… no, she had been a gentle soul, Mother’s little runt. She was too young to spill blood, Mother had said.

Now she couldn’t look away. There was too much blood, too much pain. She felt the life spill from her neck and grabbed a fistful of snow to staunch the flow. As it seeped past her fingertips, she thought the words she would never speak.

I will make them pay. One by one, until they have suffered as much as us, I will destroy them, Mother. All.

Craving Beauty
Wylder Tales 
Volume 1
Jennifer Silverwood

Genre: YA Fairy Tale Fantasy
Publisher: SilverWoodSketches
Date of Publication: July 14, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-0881-3626-3
Number of pages: 222
Word Count: 60,808
Cover Artist: Qamber Designs

Tagline: A hungry beast waits to devour her soul…

Book Description:

Nineteen-year-old Vynasha's life is no fairy tale. The fire that killed her sisters was her fault, and the magick that saved her nephew cannot heal their scars. They shouldn't have survived, and the villagers either fear or loathe them. Until a mysterious stranger saves her, giving Vynasha the key to finding the only family they have left.

With nothing to lose, Vynasha dares the journey into the forbidden Wylderland. Through dangers untold, she makes her way to the forgotten city, but more than ghosts linger in the castle. A wicked curse shadows the land, shadows whisper that the one to break their curse has come, and a beastly prince makes a bargain Vynasha cannot refuse:

Become the beast's bride or become a monster herself.

A dark tale of enchantment and woe, perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson and Holly Black, Craving Beauty is the first installment of the epic Wylder Tales Series!

Amazon     BN    Kobo    Books2Read

About the Author:

Jennifer Silverwood has been involved in the publishing world since 2012 and is passionate about supporting the writing community however she can. After studying traditional art at university, she began helping Qamber Designs bring authors’ books to life. In real life, she’s a mom of two, a passionate reader, and an occasional artist. Jennifer is the author of three series—Borderlands, Wylder Tales, and the Heaven’s Edge Novellas—and the stand-alone romance titles Stay and She Walks in Moonlight.

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Celia’s Banshee Tale

Celia’s Bewitching Halloween Tale

For those of you in the blogosphere who already know me, you may have seen this spooky tale I love to share every Halloween, and I hope you enjoy revisiting it. For the newbies in the crowd, hello and welcome to this classic story from my family’s trove of Fae lore!

I grew up listening to my Irish grandmother’s stories about the Fae, including her encounter with a Banshee in her family’s cellar when she was a teenager. Of her many stories, this is my favorite…

Bumped by the Banshee
by Celia Breslin 

I lived in a large two-story house with my parents, younger sister, and grandmother. It was a cold, winter evening, nothing special or out of the ordinary. My family dined together, then my sister and I cleaned up while our parents and grandmother drank tea.

We joined them at the dining table to do our homework, but my grandmother said she was tired and went upstairs to bed. My parents followed shortly after that, but my father paused on the landing.

“Maeve, it’s going to be a cold night. Fetch us some coal, please.”

I abandoned my homework, grabbed the empty coal bucket from the kitchen, and went down into the cellar. I filled my bucket and returned to the stairs. I had one foot on the first step when the temperature in the cellar, already cold, dropped dramatically. Chills ran down my back. Behind me, someone moaned.

But how could that be? I was alone...

Terror rooted me to the spot. The keening grew louder. I dropped my bucket and covered my ears. A cold wind bumped against my back. I stumbled forward as the shrieking wind rushed over me and up the stairs.

But how could that be? The cellar had no windows...

Above me, the cellar door slammed shut. The sound broke me from my stupor. I screamed and ran up the stairs and out of the cellar, through the kitchen and dining room, and up the stairs to my room. My parents and sister found me under my bed, shaking like a puppy lost in a snowstorm.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” They asked me, while pulling me from my hiding place.

“I heard the Banshee wail.”

We stared at each other in silence, all of us reaching the same conclusion moments later.

We hurried to my grandmother’s room.

She was dead.

Copyright 2023, Celia Breslin. All rights reserved.

Melanie’s Awakening
Heartland Fae
Book Two
Celia Breslin

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Celia Breslin
Date of Publication: April 2023
ISBN: 9798223505884
Number of pages: 124
Word Count: 30K
Cover Artist: Brantwijn Serrah

Tagline: They’re lovers from different worlds…and a Dark Fae is determined to keep them apart.

Book Description: 

When Melanie Blackstone is offered her bestie’s home in Illinois for the summer, she jumps at the chance. She has a jerky ex to forget and a fantasy-horror screenplay to finish for her agent back in California. But writing time is soon sidelined by strange lights dancing in the air and an even stranger dark figure lurking in the yard.

As a favor, Fae warrior Dealan agrees to look in on the female staying in his friends’ home. However, he didn’t expect her to be able to See him. Few humans possess the Sight, yet this one does. Even more surprising—the friendly and inquisitive woman seems to like him and want his company. A first for the solitary assassin.

But Dealan isn’t the only Fae fascinated by Melanie. A Dark Fae sets his sights on her as well…

Amazon US        Amazon CA      Amazon UK

Angus&Robertson     Apple      BN

Kobo      Scribd      Smashwords     Vivlio

Dealan scowled, cursing under his breath as he strode toward the house. The female must be daft. Her ruckus could wake the dead, and that was the last thing he wanted to deal with at the moment. This living, breathing human was a sufficient problem without adding temperamental ghosts to the mix.

Near the back porch, his keen Fae hearing picked up the rattling of doors, the clicking of window locks, and the scraping of curtains tugged along metal rods. Room by room illumination ceased. Darkness wouldn’t protect her from his kind, however, should they wish her ill. He harrumphed. Which they didn’t.

At the foot of the deck stairs he paused, reminding himself why he’d agreed to watch over this skittish lass in the first place. His best friend Angus was a right pushy bastard, and sadly, Dealan had never been able to refuse his friend’s damn requests. Factor in kindhearted Eva O’Reilly, his chum’s mate and longtime friend of the flower fairies, and it was nigh impossible to deny either of them any little thing.

Or, one noisy, possibly unhinged, woman-sized being named Melanie Blackstone.

“She’s a funny one, isn’t she, Warrior?” Rosina’s airy voice chimed from behind him.

Giggling ensued when he merely grunted in reply, then the leader of the flower fairies appeared before him in a swirl of pink sparkles. “Let’s go inside to see what else she does.”

“I’ll enter,” he corrected her. “Alone.”

“Aw, you’re no fun,” Rosina pouted, crossing her slender arms and cocking a hip.

“And always much too serious,” Valeria and Poppy tittered in unison, fluttering past his head to join their leader. Their wings whirred, showering sparks over his form, their magic brightening the evening gloom with pulsating pink and orange light. The pleasing sight did little to improve his mood.

“She saw us, Warrior, did you see?” Poppy squeaked.

Valeria’s head bobbled quick. “And took our picture, too.” She struck a pose and preened.

“Aye, I noticed, Little Ones.” The human seemed to see him, too, right before she shrieked like a Banshee then fell on her arse inside the sunporch. Strange, since they were cloaked in their natural invisibility and usually needed to lower the mantle to reveal themselves to those who couldn’t See. And according to Eva, her friend didn’t possess the Sight. Although, Eva had mentioned her friend wrote fantastical stories, and creative minds were typically open minds, so—

Valeria and Poppy darted to the door.

“Stay out here,” he commanded, as they peered into the solarium.

“Ohhhh, she left pizza,” Valeria squealed. “Let’s cover it in sugar and eat it.”

“And put honey in the wine! Drink it down,” added Poppy.

Rosina laughed. “Good plan.”

Dealan grimaced at the notion. “Negative. You are to remain outside.”

“Boooooooo,” they sang in unison, all three glaring his way.

A shrill scream erupted from the house. Shite. Dealan summoned his sword out of habit and leaped forward, landing before the fairies and waving them away from the screened back door. 

About the Author:

Celia lives in California with her family. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for werewolves, vampires, angels, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find Celia exercising, reading a good book, hanging with her family, or indulging her addiction to fantasy TV shows and movies.

Newsletter:  http://eepurl.com/bxqwRL 

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STAKED: A VAMPIRE'S TALE, Angel of Death Series Book One (Kim Catanzarite)

Staked: A Vampire’s Tale
Angel of Death Series
Book One
Kim Catanzarite

Genre: Fantasy-Supernatural-Speculative
Publisher: Forster Publishing
Date of Publication: Oct. 3, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-7359522-6-0 
Number of pages: 207
Word Count: 57,000

Cover Artist: Damonza

Tagline: Can an angel also be a monster? 

Book Description: 

Gregorie Babin has existed in a gently lulling darkness for so long he’s not even sure he’s human anymore. Surrounded by four walls, without light or space in which to move, he has become what he envisions as a mollusk inside a shell. Is he alive or dead, or perhaps in some kind of purgatory or Hell? The answer lies in a past he no longer remembers. It is only when random forces break him out of this perpetual darkness that he can begin to know the devastating truth—and what it means for his future.

Written with the author’s signature talent for “psychological conflict . . . and emotional tension” (The Book Commentary), this is a speculative journey of a young man’s desperate desire to get back home to the ones he loves. Prepare to be captivated by a tale that tests the boundaries of your imagination and leaves you questioning the darkness that lies within us all.


He smelled something.  

Offensive and yet desirable.

The terrible hunger returned, roiling through the whole of him like the brawny ocean crests that had thrust him onto the beach. The hunger demanded he move. He floundered on his side for a moment before righting himself and beginning a frantic, disjointed crawl: one foot dragging behind him, an elbow giving out. Every hinge in his body resisted, and the movement required complete concentration. All the while this unignorable “wanting” spun through him like a bear desperate to hunt and devour.

The scent grew potent as he neared the wood.

His ceaseless craving forced him to scrabble across a path of wooden planks that bridged over the dunes. A spigot at the top of this footbridge awaited, causing him to hesitate. Was it thirst that propelled him? Perhaps dehydration had driven him to near madness?

Since he was on all fours, he reached the fausset easily. Why it would be built out here and so near the ground, he didn’t know. The handle twisted after a brief struggle that hurt the bones of his palm. He set his open mouth below it and let the water flow, glugging and choking as he filled his body with liquid. Still, he experienced no satisfaction.

The wind changed direction and that same scent tempted him. He scuttled from the path and entered into the dark of the wood, mindless of the ground’s debris, the stabbing sticks and thorns penetrating the skin on his hands and knees. Moving forward like a dog led by its sniffing nose, he charged through, searching for the source of the strange, beguiling stench.

The hunt led him to a small horse—or no, not un cheval—stubby horns grew from the animal’s graceful head. A deer, lying on its side, its legs twisted beneath and blood coming from its—he pounced, the animal shuddering as his hands connected with its warm trunk and his mouth attached to its supple neck. His teeth penetrated the hide, though not without effort, and then a warm, metallic taste filled his mouth and that was all that mattered.

He fell back in ecstasy as his stomach softened and veins thrummed, his heart quivering with new life. He’d never consumed anything so soothing, so satisfying. His limbs warmed, the nourishment spreading, and his insides filled to bursting.

He rested on the ground beside the animal while it relaxed into its last breath.

Go with grace, he said in his mind.

About the Author 

Kim Catanzarite grew up in northern New Jersey reading Anne Rice novels and watching The Lost Boys. She tapped into her creative writing obsession while attending Skidmore College and has never looked back. Kim is the award-winning author of the Jovian Universe sci-fi series. She is a freelance writer and editor for publishers and independent authors, and she teaches for Writer’s Digest University. Her Self-Publishing 101 blog discusses the ins and outs of indie life as well as all things writing craft. Kim lives on the East Coast with her husband and daughter.

For more information, visit www.AuthorKimCatanzarite.com


Tuesday, September 26, 2023



Today, Beck Erixson joins us for our quick interview. Welcome, Beck. 

Supernatural Central Short and Quick Interview

Just a Fika by Beck Erixson

1. Tell me a little bit about your main character in this book.

Ingrid Ekstrom, a woman in her early thirties, is a bit disconnected from life in general. Her mother and much of her family passed away when she was young, before she could build her own core memories. She's got this thing about not wanting to get too close to people because, well, in her world, everyone seems to die early.

Ingrid's on a journey to discover more about herself, and it's all about wanting to connect with those folks she never really got to know while they were alive. Ingrid is a genealogist by trade, so she helps people dig into their past to help them learn about themselves. She's searching for connections in the world to family, and finds other unexpected connections when she moves to Aegir Haven.

2. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

Yes! I absolutely do. Like the main character in Just a Fika, I've experienced my fair share of losses from a young age. My dad passed away before I was two. His mom and several other family members also left us super early. When I moved to Red Bank, the place where they all lived near or grew up in, something changed. I didn't feel as alone or jittery as I used to when I wandered around or went out, especially at night. It's like this strange warmth washes over me, and I can't quite put my finger on it. Sure, it's not like items are floating or I’m seeing ghosts, but these comforting tingles are unlike anything I've experienced anywhere else I've lived.

Then there was this one night when I was chilling in my living room. From upstairs, it sounded like someone was demanding attention using our antique rocking chair in the master bedroom, going all out with the rocking. I was freaked out because I was home alone, but I decided to start talking out loud, and miraculously, the rocking stopped. That warm, comforting feeling returned. The house was built back in the 1920s, and the town itself has been around way longer, so maybe it was just a family member saying "hello" in their own unique way.

I think I tend to write about the paranormal a lot in little ways. My writing tends to lean towards the idea that the paranormal is just a part of everyday life. Take, for instance, my flash piece called "Tractor Heist," which got published by Many Nice Donkeys. It's all about playing with the notion of belief and interactions with people who might or might not be leaving us signs. The fun part is, I wrote the whole piece about 50 feet away from where my dad's ashes were spread. The piece is probably one of my strongest flash pieces and was picked up to be published quickly. Then there's this short fiction piece I've got coming out in an upcoming anthology by Running Wild, called "The Memory Bench." In that one, I tried to capture that same feeling I get when I'm strolling around Red Bank, but it's darker than "Just a Fika." It's got this subtle winter vibe and an eerie sense of calm throughout the story.

3. What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

I do! I wrote the initial draft of “Just a Fika” back in 2020 and it’s gone through round after round of revisions. I have a book 2 outlined with an initial chapter started that takes place in the same world but with different characters. The second standalone book is tentatively called “Mys Cove” which is essentially a part of town known as Freya’s playground. I’m excited to introduce Saga and bring back a number of characters in different ways from Just a Fika.

I recently started to publish my contemporary series, Love is Awkward. Book one, “Feeling Ballsy”, came out in August and book two “Feeling Fiery” should be out late fall early winter. Book two is written and is going to copy edits soon. There will at some point be a book three which is an active WIP but has no title.

The biggest string through my writing I’ve noticed is the fact I tend to write about people finding their happiness. I want everyone to have their HEA be it with a found family or a partner in life. In general, this is a good way to describe what I want for all the people in my life, happiness and comfort in their day to day world.

Just a Fika: Coffee, Connection, and a Matchmaking Ghost Grandmother
Beck Erixson

Genre: Speculative Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction with Romance
Publisher: Aegir Haven, LLC 
Date of Publication: October 3, 2023
ISBN: 979-8-9875998-0-8 (paperback)
ISBN” 979-8-9875998-2-2 (ebook)
Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Melody Jeffries

Tagline: Family. They’re always meddling in your love life… Even after they’re dead.

Book Description:

Brooklynite-and genealogist-Ingrid Ekstrom accepts a surprise request from her typically estranged family: to become the live-in caretaker of their shared historic house in the sleepy Jersey Shore town of Aegir Haven. A fun-loving cousin is quick to introduce Ingrid to the local handyman and bluegrass musician. As he fixes up the place, Ingrid digs into the house's past and learns about the family she barely knows. 

And then Mormor-her long-dead grandmother-shows up, acting as though not being in the spirit realm is perfectly normal.  

Ingrid's always yearned for stronger family connections, and it's nice having Mormor around. Mormor tries to set her up with a young real estate attorney who's closer to her more thunderous, god-like personal standards than the musician with keen senses Ingrid is falling for. As lore and legends mingle with real life, she's torn. Mormor's fantastical family sagas can't actually be true, right?


“Show yourself, you meddling woman,” I say, probably too stern for a granddaughter. She did this to herself.

“Oh, relax. You had fun, didn’t you?” Mormor’s voice projects from the living room.

“You had no business showing up tonight. My social life is mine.” I kick off my shoes in the entry and cut across to the warmth of the lit fireplace. She’s kept herself busy.

“Oh, sit down,” she scolds me from the purple wingback chair, like the child she believes I still am.

Hard to say no to your grandmother, even if you don’t really know her. For civility’s sake, I take my place in the leather chair on the other side of the fireplace, garnering an unobstructed view of her. The heat and flames of the fireplace illuminate the bridge etched into the back of the black stone, only visible when the temperature hits high enough. She’s been waiting.

“Did you have fun?” The chair creaks as she adjusts her legs. “You two were adorable together.”

“So you said at the restaurant. Directly to him.” The energy it takes to argue isn’t worth the effort right now. Opting for a tone of juvenile annoyance takes less energy. “Can you please stay out of my personal life? Can this be something we agree to?”

“Absolutely not. You’ll blow it. Look at your track record. You need me.” She waves off my request. “Besides, it was one date, and of course that boy ended up there too.”
Ah, so she didn’t send him. Sweet. “Thatboy?“ I ask.

“Yes, the one with the instrument and the curls in his hair. The one who’s been fixing things here.” Mormorisn’t holding back niceties.

“Kurt?” I grin. “What do you have against Kurt?” Reveling in this is wrong, but so right.

“You need someone with their feet on the ground. Someone like Yale.” She sits high like a queen in her court.

“What do you know about him?” I’m not arguing. Who knows how long she’s been popping in and out of my life?

“I know what I need to.” She lengthens her neck. “Why even bother with him?”

“Ah, so you know nothing.” Makes two of us, really. Other than being kind, talented, and someone to joke around with, he’s a mystery. A mystery who’s comfortable to be around, but sometimes makes butterflies flutter in my chest. Yale makes me awkward and nervous. Ugh,I’m overanalyzing again. Inside me there’s a constant nag when I’m around Yale that he’s not a good idea. Not that Kurt’s a good idea.

“Let’s clarify something. I’m not going back until I know you are okay.” Mormor stares off at the fire. A gentle breeze whistles through the windows and flutters the edges of her hair.

“Is this a promise or a threat?” Please stay, for at least a while longer. I like getting to know her when she’s not meddling. Half the reason I agreed to move out here was to learn more about my family.

I suppose I should thank her. Dinner ended when the menu she was holding too close to the wall sconce caught fire and we had to run outside. Serves her right for spying and not paying attention. There’s nothing quite like the smell of melting plastic to inflict headaches and end a date quickly.

He was kind enough to walk me home after I made the first turn in the wrong direction. I’d have made it eventually. His gentlemanly self was fantastic. It was the long periods of not talking and staring at the candle that made me want to bolt.

“You know I love you.” I open my arms for a hug.

She turns non-corporeal and laughs as my arms slice through her.

Mormor! “What are the rules here? When are you—you? And when are you a ghost?” I stamp my voice like a toddler mid-tantrum, adding extra emphasis at the beginning of each sentence.

“You were going to squeeze me too hard.” She’s right. “When I’m tired, I fade a bit. I don’t like where I go when I fade.”

A tiny over-the-top squeeze to make her feel as uncomfortable as I felt with Yale is deserved, tight enough so she knows I’m squeezing love and the want of a direct connection with her.

“Where you go?” Legitimate question.

“I have to go somewhere? What? You think I’m like a fading light?”

I shrug. “Sorry, I don’t have experience with—ghosts?”

“We’ve been over this.” She rolls her eyes. “The rules are murky.” She pulls at the low braid on the back of her head.

“Oh, is that all?” This woman is off her rocker.

“It’s complicated.” She crosses her arms and huffs. “Haven’t you bothered doing your research?”

“This isn’t something I can research.” Hello, librarian, I keep seeing my dead grandmother. Do you have any books on this?

My jaw drops—this was an intentional diversion. “You’re trying to get sympathy and distract me from the fact you interrupted in the most inappropriate way on a date.”

She wrinkles her nose. “Caught me. You still need to think about dating a proper choice. I’m holding my ground on this.”

“Proper?” Again, with that word. “I don’t need to date anyone. I’m here to watch the house.”

She comes over and envelopes me in a too-hard hug.

I wheeze. “Besides it wasn’t a date, it was two people going to dinner.”

The unsuccessful wiggle of my arms proves Mormor’s ghost form is stronger than she lets on.

“Dating doesn’t mean a relationship.” I peck her cheek. “Having dinner once or twice is getting to know someone.”

She releases her arms and slinks back in her chair. “Don’t end up alone, Ingrid.” A tremble crosses her tone.

“I’ve got you. How can I be alone?”

“You know very well what I mean. You’ve squandered your twenties, and now—”

“I got an education and lived life.” There it is. Clear disappointment I’ve caused her in my life choices. “I traveled and dated. Not everyone finds themselves in their early twenties.”

“Will you consider dating while you are here? He’s really a nice boy.”

“I’m here to maintain the house. Not to date.” I’m over dating.

“Being here doesn’t mean you can’t date.”

I shake my head. She’s relentless.

Mormor waves her hand in front of the fire, and the flames dance higher. “Yale is…” She wags her eyebrows. “Kurt is…” A hovered eye roll punctuates the end of her sentence.

“A friend.” Sort of—he’s working here because Svea paid him.

Mormor grumbles something inaudible from my seat. “I have a list of projects for you. Promise me you’ll stay till you finish some?” She pulls her arm back to the chair and rests her hands on her lap.

“I’m a fill-in. The only person available with no ties to kids or an office.” Story of my life. The living family members call when they remember my existence. Supposedly they love me, but…eh, baggage to think about another day, right? “Promise me you won’t mess up Kurt’s projects on the house?” He works hard regardless of her impression of him.

“As long as he sticks to the house as a project and not you.” She wags her finger and heaves a sigh.

A halfhearted nod is the only option to end this conversation. “Tea?”

I’m not a project.

About the Author: 

Beck Erixson writes about the beautifully awkward world of navigating the journey to true happiness through friendships, love, and family—be it blood, found, or chosen. Her stories enhance the importance of positive interconnection, even when we feel lonely. She lives on the Jersey Shore, and can often be found either writing by the river, or in it in some way. Her short stories have appeared in Many Nice Donkeys, and Full Mood Mag.

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