Friday, October 22, 2021



Spotlight HTML Heavenly Desire by J.L. Sheppard - Exclusive Excerpt #PNR

Heavenly Desire
Elemental Sisters 
Book Three
J.L. Sheppard

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Jeanette L. Sheppard
Date of Publication: October 1st, 2021 2nd Edition
ISBN: 978-1732218154
Number of pages: 330
Word Count: 84,607
Cover Artist: Victoria Miller

Tagline: He’s fallen for the woman he’s entrusted to protect, a woman who could never be his…

Book Description:

Jade Ashley has a past she desperately wants to forget and a destiny she isn’t yet aware of. That changes when she meets Clyde, who saves her and inadvertently exposes her extraordinary abilities. She soon learns he’s her guardian angel sent to reunite her with her long lost sisters, who, like her, are part of a new breed of immortals prophesied to determine the outcome of the upcoming war.

Clyde battles the one thing that will lead to his fall from heaven—his newfound emotions, forbidden among his kind. Nonetheless, the Angel Lords promise to promote him to warrior when he completes his last assignment—to find Jade. But finding her, seeing her in the flesh, sparks a new emotion, an emotion too powerful to put into words. For the first time in two thousand years, he curses his existence, knowing she’ll never be his.

Book Trailer

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He bent toward her, wrapped one arm around her waist, the other around her back, buried his face in the crook of her neck, and inhaled. Exactly what he wanted, exactly what he needed. Holding her close, giving in to what he wanted, he forgot why he shouldn’t hold her, comfort her.

After a moment, she pressed her full lips against his cheek.
It was an innocent kiss. There was no passion behind it, but an unconscious, consuming need, one he’d never felt, swelled inside him—desire. Exciting, overwhelming, and terrifying, blocking logic and reason.

All he wanted then—a kiss, a real one. How would her lips feel against his?


And in concluding this, he realized he wanted her not only to be his, but he wanted her in the way a man longed for a woman.

To want what he did and feel what he felt was absurd, ridiculous, and confounding.

Carnal desires were for others, for all others except his breed, and yet he felt it so deeply it seared him.

The desire that gripped him didn’t release him, even after she unhooked her arms from around his neck and the warmth of her body melted away.

There he stood, immobile, battling the desire she’d ignited. He didn’t want to leave yet knew he had to before he did something he’d regret.

He willed his body to move. Finally, he placed one foot behind the other, stepped back, turned, and strode away, praying the yearning he had no right to feel for a woman who’d never be his would fade.

About the Author:

J.L. Sheppard was born and raised in South Florida where she still lives with her sons.

As a child, her greatest aspiration was to become a writer. She read often, kept a journal, and wrote countless poems. She attended Florida International University and graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors in Communications. During her senior year, she interned at NBC Miami, WTVJ. Following the internship, she was hired and worked in the News Department for three years.

It wasn’t until 2011 that she set her heart and mind into writing her first completed novel, Demon King’s Desire, which was first published in January 2013.







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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! And, no, I don’t mean Christmas. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday! I love the spooky shivers that accompany ghosts, graveyards, Jack-o’-lanterns, cobwebs, and haunted houses. As a young girl, I remember clearly how much I looked forward to dressing up in costumes too—and back then we had those horrible plastic masks that covered our entire faces, held on by elastic cord, with slits for eyes and mouth.

One year I recruited my younger sister’s assistance and made a DIY haunted house for my younger brothers. We transformed our bathroom into a terrifying experience (in my young mind anyway). Peeled grapes were “eyeballs” and cooked pasta “intestines.”

Once I had them thoroughly creeped out, my sister, hiding in the bathtub with a flashlight, all in black and with my pretty decent makeup job transforming her into a ghastly entity, lit the flashlight below her face and yelled, “Boo!” My brothers screamed and I got in big trouble. I considered it a huge success.  In middle school, I was allowed to host a party for friends and that remains one of my favorite Halloween memories. I dressed as a Southern belle, complete with a real hoopskirt (from goodness knows where!) and a fancy frock that would have made Scarlet O’Hara’s green eyes flash with envy. I swirled around the house serving witch’s brew and Halloween Jell-O cake (recipes below) while Halloween music played in the background.

Later in high school, my parents had moved, and our new house had a barn in the back. I made invitations and went all out with decorations in the barn, lining the walls with haystacks to sit on. Friends arrived and we primarily sat and chatted and ate snacks I’d put together while listening to music.

My dad crept across the backyard to the barn with his old chainsaw, blade removed, intent on truly scaring us by running through the darkened barn like something out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Sadly, the chainsaw never fired up, though perhaps this was for the best.

These days, I dress up and enjoy the evening but rarely even see Trick-or-Treaters. I miss the thrill of Halloweens gone by but channel my love of all things supernatural into my book series. Happy Halloween!!

Witch’s Brew Recipe

1 quart of lime sherbet
2-liter bottle of 7-Up, Sprite, or Ginger Ale
Optional: one can of pineapple juice + ¼ cup lime juice

Mix together the lime sherbet and soda of your choice just before serving. Watch the brew froth and foam! You can add juice to your liking and even add some dry ice chips if you really want to set a creepy mood.

Halloween Jell-O Cake Recipe

1 white cake mix
1 cup boiling water
1 pkg Jell-O gelatin (orange, grape, or both)
½ cup cold water
1 tub Cool Whip
Food coloring and sprinkles if desired

—Bake the cake as directed on the box. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Use a large fork to poke holes throughout the cooled cake.

—Add the boiling water to the gelatin. (My mom used both orange and grape to marble the colors but you can opt for only orange or whatever you prefer.) Stir until dissolved. Add the cold water and pour over the cake. Refrigerate for 3 hours.

—Use food coloring to tint Cool Whip if desired and then spread over cake. Refrigerate another hour and decorate with sprinkles as desired just before serving.

The Wantland Files
Book One
Lara Bernhardt

Genre: supernatural suspense
Publisher: Admission Press
Date of Publication: December 16, 2016
ISBN: 978-0998426105
Number of pages: 286
Word Count: 73,470
Cover Artist: BEAUTeBOOK

Tagline: She sees dead people. He doesn’t believe in ghosts.

Book Description: 

The X-Files meets Ghost Hunters when psychic Kimberly Wantland is forced to collaborate with skeptic Sterling Wakefield as she investigates a ghost terrorizing a young family in the season finale of her hit television series The Wantland Files.


The frigid blast hit her, not a tidal wave crashing over her, but an iceberg, solid and powerful. And furious.

The icy shock took her breath away. She gasped.

The entity dropped from above and sailed past, blowing her hair behind her.
Strong, warm hands grasped her arms, intent on steadying her. She shook free as Drew screamed.

“I told you to stay with the boy!” She crossed the room in three steps and knelt beside the toddler bed.

Drew no longer sat in the corner.

“Kimmy? What’s happening?” Michael called from the door.

“Just keep recording! She’s here. She’s powerful. Keep the cameras rolling.”

Danielle’s voice joined the fray. “What’s wrong? Drew! What’s happening?”

“Stay in your room,” she commanded as forcefully as she could with lungs chilled by the dark entity. “Stay with your baby!”

Her fingers trembled as she searched the bed. Every square inch of the miniature thing. Her chilled hands were not so numb that they would miss a toddler’s body. Where was he?

Frantic and scared, she lost control of her extrasensory perceptions. She stopped running her hands over the bed and held still. Clutching her crystal, she breathed deeply. Where was the entity? Where was the boy?

About the Author: 

Lara Bernhardt is a Pushcart-nominated writer, editor, and audiobook narrator. She is Editor-in-Chief of Balkan Press and also publishes a literary magazine, Conclave. Twice a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award for Best Fiction, she writes supernatural suspense and women’s fiction. 

You can follow her on all the socials @larawells1 on Twitter and @larabern10 on Facebook, BookBub, and Instagram. 

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Thursday, October 21, 2021



Hey, look who’ dropped in today for a little chat! None other than Madison Wentworth. Welcome, Madison!

SC: Tell me a little bit about your main character of this book.

MW: Cherie seems like an ordinary person on the outside: She works at an eye clinic, shops at the local supermarket, and pretty much keeps to herself. But inside, she’s a soul vampire looking for her immortal beloved. She’s got an insatiable hunger to feed off someone, but not just anyone. He has to be THE ONE. But when she finds him, it turns out he’s dead. Even death can’t stop their connection, though, because it's timeless.

SC:  Well, there’s a twist of fate. Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

MW: I am glad you asked me that question. I have had a lifetime fascination with the paranormal, which served as part of my inspiration for Need.

As an adult, I have explored the paranormal through trips to haunted locations around the country. I had a really fun experience at the Goldfield High School in the tiny town of Goldfield, Nevada. It was a boom town that sprang up in the early 1900s when gold was discovered there in 1902. The population grew to 8,000 by 1905 and surged to 20,000 by the following year.

But the boom was short-lived. By 1909, the population was down to 10,000, and by the following year, it was half that. Now just a couple of hundred people live there, and it’s a virtual a ghost town filled with the empty buildings built during the boom.

Goldfield High School, which was built between 1906 and 1908, accommodated all age groups, as was typical for the time period. Many believe that spirits don’t always hang around the area where they died, but frequently return to a place they enjoyed in life.

With this thought in mind, a group of paranormal investigators led an expedition I attended with large group of people. We decided we might have our best chance of success trying to interact with the smaller children who might have been drawn back to the school.

We all went into one of the auditoriums and spread out in a large circle ringing the room, leaving four empty spaces along the way for children’s spirits to join us. We decided to do some EVPs (electronic voice phenomena) while playing old-fashioned children’s game.

EVP involves using a small handheld voice recorder and talking to the spirits, asking them a question and then giving them time to answer that question before moving on to the next. With any luck, on playback, you will hear an answer to your question.


We first counted off people around the room while skipping those empty spaces to leave room for children’s voices. So, we would count off “1, 2, 3, 4” and then leave a space open at “5” for a child to answer, then count off some more spaces before leaving another space for different child’s voice.

On playback, we heard children’s voices answer us with the correct numbers. Then we played Duck, Duck, Goose in a similar fashion. A person would go around the room and point at you if you were a duck so you could say “Duck” or touch you if you were a goose, at which point you said “Goose,” and it was now your turn.

Upon encountering an empty space, the person would point and wait a few seconds, hoping for a response before moving on. The first two times, we got the proper “Duck” response on playback. We decided to up the ante and make a spirit the goose by reaching out to touch the empty space that we were hoping was inhabited to see what would happen.

The current goose then held the recorder and walked around to each person, pausing to wait for a response. On playback, we clearly heard a child’s voice saying “Goose” when they were chosen, and then, as each person was encountered along the way, we heard a clear “Duck” call before a goose was finally chosen.

There was no call made for any of the people after that because a goose had been chosen.

This was one of my more fun experiences that proved to me there’s more to the afterlife than we might suspect, and it started me thinking more about the afterlife before I wrote Need. I wondered what might happen if the ghost wasn’t a child, but a lost lover, and if time travel might bring two souls back together again.

Or maybe I don’t have to wonder. Maybe it happened to me.

SC: Yes, children like to come through on EVP’s I have found. Thanks for sharing that.  What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

MW: Right now, I’m working on promoting NEED and hoping it strikes a chord with readers. What I write next will depend largely on the response to this book.

SC: We have enjoyed this chat, Madison. Please stop by anytime. Let’s take a look at your novel now. 

Madison Wentworth

Genre: Paranormal Erotic Romance
Publisher: Madison Crest
Date of Publication: Aug. 30, 2021
ISBN: 979-8468157046
Number of pages: 165
Word Count: 24,000
Cover Artist:

Tagline: Sometimes you crave what’s good for you. Sometimes he craves you too.

Book Description:

Cherie just met the love of her life, but there’s a catch: He’s dead.

It’s not every day you find true love on an adult website, but that’s the most normal thing about Cherie’s new boyfriend, Evan.

To start with, he isn’t actually new. They’re engaged, or so he says. But she has no memory of planning their wedding, or even meeting him, for that matter, because for her, it hasn’t happened yet.

The bond is there, though. She can feel it. As a vampire of the soul, she can taste it, and she needs to taste more of it. It’s a bond so strong that it awakened his spirit in order to find her. Now, she must save him in order to free him from death... so she can have all of him. She needs that.

Need isn’t a word she uses lightly. She’s never truly needed anyone before. But she’s discovering she needs him now, even as their time together appears fated to be cut tragically short. And he needs her, too, more than she knows.

Yet their mutual craving is only just awakening. Can they find a way to cheat the fates and find a future together?

Time alone will tell.


How are you supposed to feel when you find out the man you’ve fallen in love with, who you’ve never even met in person, reveals that the two of you were once engaged, and that you were—inadvertently or not—the cause of his death?

I try to plan for every contingency, but even super-prepared Cher hadn’t seen that one coming.

“Does that mean the whole thing has to happen all over again the same way?” I asked.

“I don’t know.”

“Does it mean we’ll get to meet, after all? Or do I meet another version of you instead?”

“I don’t know.”

This was exasperating. The odd thing was, I found it almost impossible to be mad at him. It wasn’t his fault, anyway. He had no idea how to get out of the place where he was, wherever or whenever that might be, or what would happen if he did. I had no idea how to get him out, either, but I did know I had to find a way—and without him getting run over by a car again. I’d strap him to the bed if I had to.

“If we were engaged before, does that mean we still are?” I asked.

“I think so, unless you want to break it off. Do you?”

“No, I like being your fiancée.”

“Good. Because I like it, too.”

I still didn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else about Evan, or telling Layla anything more about him, because now it was even weirder than before. So, the only person I was left with as counselor was my inner voice.

I need to get him back here again. I need to see him.

Need. It was a word I’d hardly ever used before, and certainly not in connection with myself. But I seemed to be using it more and more with Even.

How do you think you’re going to do that if he’s dead?

It was a good question.

I could call my ghost-hunter friends.

You don’t need to hunt him. You already know where he is: In that smartphone screen of yours! You drew him to you through the internet. Now you just need to bring him the rest of the way.


By being yourself. He hungers for you and can’t resist you. He will come.

Could it possibly be as simple as that? It couldn’t be. I remembered the voice had asked me once before who I was, and I’d answered that I was just me. But I was only that person when I was alone. Otherwise, I was always pretending—except when I was with Evan. I could be myself with him, too. So maybe it really was as simple as that, after all. It had to be, because I couldn’t think of anything else. But how could I be my true self, my vampire self, when the world was watching?

You can’t. You need to go someplace.

It didn’t help that I was having this conversation with myself at work.

“Cher, can you come over here for a sec?” Joy motioned toward me. “This customer needs his frames adjusted.”


Fortunately for the eye clinic, and for my own job security, I was great at multitasking. I was able to keep brainstorming about how to get some privacy even while I was adjusting Mr. Thompson’s new glasses to fit him perfectly without pinching the bridge of his nose or pulling down too much behind the ear.

“Thank you,” he said. “You’re very good at that.”

I laughed easily. “I should be. I’ve been doing this long enough. But you’re very good at being a patient patient, and that makes all the difference.”

He nodded slightly and... was he blushing? So often, I found that the smallest kind word or gesture was appreciated beyond what I’d expected. People didn’t treat each other with kindness enough anymore. It had become rare enough that, when it happened, it was unexpected.

And they were grateful. It was sad that common courtesy had fallen so far out of style.

But being nice to people was how I’d been raised; it was part of who I was.

Vampires are known for their courtesy. They only enter where they’re invited.

That was it!

I had to be myself—my vampire self—to draw Evan back to the land of the living, but I had to invite him, too. That was the one thing I’d been missing. He might be dead, but he was also a vampire, and if I invited him, he would have no choice but to accept.

About the Author:

Madison Wentworth grew up on syndicated reruns of Dark Shadows and The Twilight Zone, coming of age not far from the Malibu surf. A job as a reporter for a small-town newspaper meant digging through police reports, gossip, rumor, and innuendo. And that led to more work as a writer, and a move east and northward to the opposite coast, a venue far more conducive to night-owl vampires and their felines.

An interest in cinema — and outings to see movies such as Ghost and The Sixth Sense — reignited a fascination with the paranormal, and stirred an interest in blending the mystical with the sensual.

The result is NEED, the author’s debut novella.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021



Halloween Flash Fiction by Megan Speece 

Charles Benson lived alone in a stately old manor on the outskirts of town. Alone was how he preferred to be. He’d spent time living with roommates in college, and he’d shared hotel rooms and cramped bus spaces with his fellow musicians of a traveling orchestra.

As far as Charles was concerned, he’d paid his dues, and now he deserved the quiet and solitude of this old place. He made his way to the ballroom, yes, a ballroom. It was part of what had attracted Charles to the property.

The house was a bit run down, it had sat empty for nearly a decade before he’d come along with his life’s savings. He was still working on replacing fixtures, repairing cracked walls, and painting peeling crown molding.

All of that was worth the ballroom, with its beautiful wooden floors, ornate rococo inspired trim, and many floor to ceiling windows that filled the room with natural light. The room was dark as he walked into it, stars winking in at him from the grounds outside. He hit the light switch, and took in the majesty of the blue and gold paint, the floors now gleaming after a clean and wax.

His gaze landed on the black lacquered grand piano in the center of the room. When he’d toured the house, this had been the image in his mind. His beautiful piano at home in the center of a room as grand as it. The acoustics in this room were made for live music, and he hummed happily to himself as the fingers of one hand slid along the top of the piano in a loving caress.

He set a small tumbler containing his whiskey, neat, on a coaster atop the piano as he took his place on the bench. He drew in a deep breath through his nose and closed his eyes, his fingers settling gently on the keys. And then Charles Benson began to play.

He lost himself to the music and the way it filled the large space and bounced back at him, each note the gentle caress of a lover as it passed him by on its way to a silent death. He sat like that, eyes closed, playing a complicated classical piece for ten minutes.

He opened his eyes as the last note wavered, clinging to the air, begging to stay in existence. He let out a small sigh, content and ready to retire for the evening, but as he reached for his glass, someone clapped.

Tranquil Heights
Book One
Megan Speece

Genre: Paranormal Suspense
Publisher: Megan Speece
Date of Publication: 10/15/2021
ISBN: 978-1-7374715-0-9
Number of pages: 228
Word Count: 42,767
Cover Artist: Megan Speece

Book Description: 

Katie Edgecomb is questioning everything she thought she knew. 

She thought the family curse was fake, just a scary story her mom told her to keep her from misbehaving. The first-born daughters in each of the last three generations lost their lives on their twenty-fifth birthdays, a series of tragic accidents sending shock waves of grief through multiple generations. 

It isn't until Katie is faced with the real-time impacts of the curse that she starts to believe it may be more than a story and she sets out to discover the origins of the family's fabled curse. Her only clue lies in an exclusive girls' preparatory academy in Washington that was once an asylum. There, she must face heart-break, ugly truths, and events so terrifying that they threaten to sever her very ties to reality. 

She has no choice.

Katie is pregnant, and she won't let her child become another life claimed by the curse.

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About the Author:

Megan is a thriller author, horror buff, and dog person. She is currently writing books and helping authors navigate self publishing. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and two dogs, and can be found spending her weekends at the beach, exploring everything Washington has to offer, or settling in with a good horror movie.

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Severed Finger Sugar Cookies


2 ¾ c. flour; 
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 x. softened butter
1 ½ c. sugar
1 egg
1tsp vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Line cookie sheets with cooking parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

In medium bowl, cream butter with sugar and add egg and vanilla.  

Then, add flour and baking powder and baking soda.  
Using fork or spatula, until well mixed and texture of breadcrumbs. 

Squeeze handful of dough crumbs together tightly to form small log or "finger." 

Score top of log with butter knife to shape the knuckle, then press 1 slivered almond at one end to make the fingernail. Repeat to use up dough. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Bake 15 minutes. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Eliza: The Awakening
Book One
Eileen Sheehan

Genre: Paranormal Shifter Series
Publisher: Earth Wise Books
Date of Publication: 8/31/2021
ASIN: B09956JTJ1
Number of pages: 178
Word Count: 26,380

Tagline: "The Awakening" begins the saga of a female shifter named, Eliza.

Book Description: 

Eliza is a simple and uncomplicated young woman.  She enjoys the outdoors, is good with animals, and, like most young women her age, loves to party and have fun.  When she meets a sexy man with an alluring Southern drawl, she has no idea that he is involved in a world that she is yet to know, but is her legacy.  Like it or not.

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It felt like someone was swinging a hammer against the inside of Eliza’s skull.  The early morning dew caused a damp muskiness on the earth that blended with the mold and dust that burrowed beneath the thick layer of leaves where she lay her aching burden; assaulting her nose and adding to her misery.  Her chocolate colored eyes felt pinned shut, but her hearing was abnormally acute.  By the sounds around her, she sensed her surroundings were familiar ones.  If she was correct, she was near the small cave that was nestled in a knoll that began the acres of woods at the far end of her family’s farm.  It was a place that she’d discovered at a young age and had frequented whenever she required alone time.  Her surroundings weren’t the greater mystery.  How she got there was.

As her faculties returned to normal, she sat up and realized that how she got there wasn’t the biggest mystery after all.  It was superseded by the fact that she hadn’t a stitch of clothing on.

None of this made sense. How did she get there and what happened to her clothes?

Straining her mind, she reached into the fog for a replay of the night before.  She’d gone with her best friend, Reba, to a newly opened dance club. The place was packed, and dance partners were plentiful.  The exertion from dancing combined with the excessive body heat made the air feel so stifling as to be practically unbearable.  She remembered stepping outside for a bit of fresh air.  Did Reba join her?  She struggled to remember, but the visions in her head showed very little.

Squeezing her eyes shut almost to the point that it hurt, she forced her mind to function.  She needed to remember the chain of events that led to her waking up naked in a field at the edge of the woods.  Had she gone home from the club and sleepwalked?  Or had something sinister occurred?  She just didn’t know.

About the Author:

Eileen Sheehan primarily writes hot, steamy romances (mostly New Adult) with a sexy male and strong female. A few are steamier than others (see their description). The majority of her novels are paranormal, but some are just plain novels about people in love (contemporary or historical with the author name of Ailene Frances). ALL of her stories have a bit of naughtiness, some excitement, a few thrills, and maybe a touch of mystery mixed in with sometimes naughty, sometimes sweet lovin'. She strives to write a novel length that will allow the busy woman to be able to sit down in an evening or two and be taken on a romantic journey without having a week go by before she gets to the end of the story.

An incurable romantic, she has a love affair with at least one of her characters... one book at a time. She hopes the same thing happens to you.

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The Ghosts We Carry and How to Banish Them

Have you ever noticed how in haunted house stories or an occult detective tale, there’s always an object that keeps a spirit anchored to a place?  It could be a keepsake from when the ghost was a living being or a terrible artifact use to summon darker entities.  Sometimes it’s a whole room or house, the energy of the people who have lived in it soaking into the very walls.  Other times it’s the memory of a horrific incident that has bled into the earth.

In order to banish the ghost, of course, we have to destroy the object—set it on fire, break it, or, to be less dramatic, let it go or move on from it. 

Move out of the haunted house.  

Contain the dark occult artifact that can’t be destroyed so that no one will find it (until the inevitable sequel, of course….this is dramatic fiction after all!). 

These stories remind us, in one way or another, that the things we carry with us absorb the energy of our experiences.  And that, sometimes, the only way we can move forward is to let those objects go.  Otherwise, we keep that old energy—sometimes toxic energy—around and get stuck, finding ourselves in a time loop of the same draining experiences that first tainted the objects in question.

The Ghosts We Carry 

Take, for instance, the story of The Sad Birthday Dress.  It goes like this:  There once was a woman who wanted to feel beautiful.  All day long she was asked to be nothing but a talking head.  But this woman knew she had a heart and hips and a juicy center.  So she bought herself a dress to remind herself that she could be a whole person and not just a shriveled head sitting in someone’s cabinet of curiosities.  And what a dress it was!  It was stunning, with finely spun organic lilac cotton and loud bouncy yellow and white polka dots that told her that she was allowed to have color in her life—that she was allowed to be of color, no need to pass as another kind of pale specter.   The skirt was flouncy and feminine and begged to be flipped up for illicit romance or at least a lively dance.

It was the perfect birthday dress.  So she did what any woman who wanted to feel alive did—she wore it out and ate cake and drank champagne and danced until the weight of the pale city bore down on her and her loud pretty dress didn’t make her feel pretty anymore.  Just sad.  Unspeakably so.  Because, she realized, this dress didn’t make her feel pretty.  It only reminded her that she lived in a place that didn’t want her to be a flesh and blood woman.  A city that was uncomfortable with her long wild hair and her rounded hips and the way the bodice of her dress clung to her breasts.   She knew shame in that dress.  And a sadness that welled up inside her until it became heartbreak.  That heartbreak spread from her body and into the dress as surely as the bubbly drink had spread through her body only moments before.

The woman learned a hard lesson that night:  A dress couldn’t fix a city that treated her like a brown stain on a white shirt.  And cake couldn’t disguise the fact that there was no sweetness for her there. Only loneliness and a bone-deep cold.  The solution was to leave in search of warmer hands and beating hearts.

Eventually, the dress came off.  But the heartbreak stayed.  And every time the woman tried to wear her I Am Beautiful Dress, she inevitably took it off and rehung in her closet, until one day she stopped trying to wear it all together.  It moved to the back of her closet, limp and half-forgotten, like a mediocre date or half-baked wish.  It was no longer her I Am Beautiful Dress.  It was stained with the experience of that night, which is how it became The Sad Birthday Dress.

Years later, when the woman had figured how to be a breathing, living woman and not someone else’s curiosity, she pulled the dress from her closet and her heart broke all over again.  She knew there was no reclaiming the original power of the beautiful bouncy fabric.  Of cake and champagne and moonlight.  In the dress, she saw the pain of her past welling up inside of her.  Its presence was like a ghost reminding her of all the broken things she could never fix. Of the hopeless realization that the thing she wanted—thought she wanted—wasn’t for her and, in fact, had never existed at all. She had been chasing phantoms and, in the process, almost become one herself.

So she packed it up and gave it away in the hopes that it might become what it was meant to be—that I Am Beautiful Dress—for someone else who was ready to pay the price to reclaim that joy in the way she hadn’t been when she had first purchased it.  The weight of that terrible time lifted from her shoulders and the energy in her home felt lighter. 

Now the woman has a closet full of I Am Beautiful Dresses.  They are loud.  And they sparkle.  And they have hems ready to be tossed above the knee for dancing and more dancing and things that would make you blush for me to write.   And they all radiate joy.  All because she let go of the thing that was holding her back.  All because she chose to feel the pain of the past and let it go.  All because she chose to be a loud woman with a beating heart in a sun-kissed land and not a phantom shade. 

Banishing Ghosts

Lovely little story, isn’t it?  And it’s all true.  I once had an I Am Beautiful Dress that became The Sad Birthday Dress.  And when I gave it away, I was giving myself permission to be more than that sad story.  I could learn from my past and create space for joy in my present.  The truth is, we all have a proverbial Sad Birthday Dress or something that was once a profound piece of armor in our lives that became stained by experience.  Other times, we change—becoming someone that certain objects no longer feel attached to, can no longer nourish.  And in order to keep growing, transforming, evolving, we must let them go.  If we don’t, what once was beautiful or nourishing becomes toxic.  The spirit that won’t move on becomes the ghost that terrorizes the living.

Having recently completed a massive house cleansing—saying goodbye to old ghosts and old selves—I found myself thinking about one of my pieces from Everyday Enchantments, “Letting Go of Past Lives, “ about the things you hold on to even when you are ready to let go of the person you used to be.  It can be scary to let go of the past because, as stagnant as it can make us, it’s also familiar and comforting. That’s why we hold on to so much unnecessary stuff. It keeps us feeling safe—but it also keeps us stuck.  In the end, it’s better to let go and know that you are creating space for new, positive vibes to enter your life (but not necessarily more stuff!).

The first part of banishing ghosts or old selves?  Let go of the objects they are attached to.  Say goodbye to things that don’t bring you joy or that you haven’t used in over a year.   Be conscious of the energy you want in your home and life.  Then be ruthless about protecting it—get rid of anything that doesn’t contribute to your overall sense of well-being.  Ghosts hide behind sentiment and guilt to keep you trapped under their spell.  Low-level spirits are a lot like low-level people: They want you to feel as trapped and miserable as they are, so they’ll do anything to stay in your life.  Best to see them for what they are and move on.

The second part of ghostbusting?  Let go of the troubling energy you’ve been holding onto psychically.  That last one will take a little more time, but letting go of the object that keeps constellating that energy will go a long way to dispersing its psychic impact.  Give yourself permission to heal and move on from sad or seemingly unfinished histories. 

The rest will follow.

This post originally appeared on Enchantment Learning and Living, home of professor, writer, and bruja Maria DeBlassie, where true magic is in the everyday!

Weep, Woman, Weep
A Gothic Fairytale about Ancestral Hauntings 
Maria DeBlassie

Genre: Gothic Fairytale, Occult, Supernatural
Publisher: Kitchen Witch Press
Date of Publication: August 25, 2021
Number of pages:150 pages
Word Count: 37,935
Cover Artist: Rachel Ross

Tagline: Nothing makes a woman brave except getting on with the business of daily life.

Book Description:

A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.

The women of Sueño, New Mexico don't know how to live a life without sorrows.

That's La Llorona's doing.  She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there's not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check.  That's what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.  

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone.  She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself.  But she survived. Only she didn't come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won't be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening.  What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman's journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism


One time, I was feeling mighty fine and thought I’d try something different. I saw this ad in a magazine where a woman was in an obscenely large bathtub and covered up to the neck in bubbles. This was in a room with a marble floor, and there were candles everywhere, and she had her hair up all nice and a face mask on. Well, I got to thinking a nice long soak after a hard day’s work would be nice.

This was a few months after my run-in with Sherry, and I was trying hard to let myself enjoy things more. It occurred to me after seeing her that her fatal flaw was not believing that her future was right in front of her. Or maybe she was too afraid to take it with both hands. I began to wonder if we didn’t hold back and do half the work for La Llorona with all that we ran from life.

So I bought some bubble bath and made more beeswax candles and set about having myself a spa night. I mean, my bathroom was nowhere near as nice as the one in the picture. My tub was only long enough for me to sit upright and was right next to the toilet, but I made do.

It was lovely. I mean, divine! I could see why fancy women liked this. I put on the radio, and the music was soft and sweet, like the candlelight against the fading day. I was so relaxed, that I was about to fall asleep in that tub.

That was when I felt cold hands grip the soles of my feet and pull me under.
I should have seen it coming. Why willingly linger in a body of water? But I didn’t, and that was how I found myself drowning in bubbles and thrashing around in my tub. It’s also how I learned that evil woman could find me anywhere—and I mean anywhere—so I could never let my guard down.

Her grip was strong. Seemed like the harder I fought, the stronger she got. I was flailing about, my arms searching for anything and everything to hold on to, when I knocked one of those beeswax candles into the tub. To this day, I have no idea why that scared her, but it did. She recoiled something quick at the hiss of the flame when the wax hit water.

I didn’t waste a second—I hoisted myself out of the tub and collapsed on the bathroom floor, choking and sputtering and sopping wet. Took me forever to clean up the mess and cough up all those flower-scented bubbles. My feet were cold and sore for days, with claw marks where her bony fingers hooked into my skin.

Whoever said bubble baths were relaxing was a big fat liar.


About the Author:

Maria DeBlassie, Ph.D. is a native New Mexican mestiza blogger, award-winning writer, and award-winning educator living in the Land of Enchantment. Her first book, Everyday Enchantments: Musings on Ordinary Magic and Daily Conjurings (Moon Books 2018), and her ongoing blog, Enchantment Learning and Living are about everyday magic, ordinary gothic, and the life of a kitchen witch. When she is not practicing her own brand of brujeria, she's reading, teaching, and writing about bodice rippers and things that go bump in the night. She is forever looking for magic in her life and somehow always finding more than she thought was there.

Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at





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