Thursday, November 1, 2018

ANNALISE'S QUEST by Blair Drake


 
 
I'm always a little sad, okay a lot sad, to see October end. Maybe this will cheer me up.

 
Annalise's Quest
Finding Magic
Book Ten
Blair Drake

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Magic Quest Books

Number of pages: 225
Word Count: 78,750

Cover Artist: Jennifer Zemanek/Seedlings LLC

Tagline: What would you do to find your magic?

Book Description:

Angry at being forced to attend Gray Cliff Academy, Annalise has struggled to fit in. She sneaks onto the roof to skip a class but gets caught up in a magical event she’s not entitled to attend. Tossed into the ‘between’ for those that have done wrong, she soon realizes she’s not alone…

Only the longer she’s stuck there, the harder it is to find a way out… but for every wrong deed there’s a right one… if she can figure it out in time…





Excerpt:
It seemed like the wind just wouldn’t stop. It flew and twisted around Annalise as if it could lift her off her feet. Considering she didn’t know what she was standing on, she wouldn’t put it past the strength of the darkness to have already done just that. She found nobody here, and the loneliness was getting to her. She wanted the storm to die down so she could assess where the hell she ended up, but it wasn’t showing that kind of appeasement.
Just when she figured she would never get out of this, the wind eased back, and a hand landed on her shoulder. She shrieked and spun around...and stared. A young man’s face stared back at her. But, even as she watched, it splintered and disintegrated into nothingness, the wind sweeping through it.
She outstretched both hands, waving them about as if to touch him. “Hello? Where are you? Don’t leave me. Please don’t leave me.”
But the image was gone. She touched her shoulder where the hand had been, wondering if she was going nuts in this weird isolation chamber. Had she felt a hand on her shoulder, or was it just her imagination?
“Can you come back?” she cried out. “Please don’t leave me alone here.”
“I’m here,” came the man’s whispery voice.
The wind was so loud in her ears, it was hard to hear the voice. She tilted her head sideways, seeing if she could glimpse the man again, but there was no face in the darkness. She spun to look all the way around but still found nothing. She crouched again, realizing the noise was slightly less down below. Squatting like she was, she called out again, “Can you hear me?”
“Yes. I can hear you.” came the same voice, only stronger.
“Who are you? Where are we?”
“I’m Trace,” he whispered. “I was lost here a long time ago.”
And Annalise’s heart skipped a beat. “What you mean by lost?”
“I was caught up in the darkness—just me here all this time. I couldn’t get out. I was on some quest, but I couldn’t reach the end in time,” he said in frustration. “And, when I was about to succeed and cross back to the school, I dropped my talisman, and my time ran out. The darkness snagged me up, and here I’ve been ever since.”
And Annalise’s jaw dropped. “Quest? Time running out? What are you talking about?”
She could almost hear the puzzled silence around her. But of course there was no silence with the winds raging on. Yet it’s almost like she had a weird 3-D perception of this person’s voice, as if it were inside her mind and not outside.
“That’s because you’re new here. You will figure it out.” That odd silence came again as Trace said, “But why are you here? If you don’t know about the quests, that means you didn’t fail yours. So how did you come to be here?”
Annalise held her hands out, palm up. “I have no idea. A group of students were on the roof, and this strange wind came around, like a storm. I ran over to Melissa. And it’s like I was caught up in the energy and sucked in. I heard Headmistress Hettie calling for me. I saw her hand reaching, but I just couldn’t grab it. It was already too late. Next thing I knew, I was here in this darkness.”
“Oh, no,” the man said slowly. “Maybe you weren’t supposed to come.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Every person in that group was headed for a challenge—a quest. They don’t know ahead of time. They don’t know what the challenges are until they arrive at their unique experience, and none of us really understand what we’re supposed to do except to somehow get home.” He coughed slightly. “At least that’s what happened to me. I almost made it back to the school but was dumped here.”
“Like a test? Like a worst-nightmare exam run by the school?” She didn’t get it how they could do that. “They shouldn’t be allowed to do shit like this. Surely there was a law against it?”
“The thing about Gray Cliffs Academy is, a lot of the students have special abilities. They don’t know about them before the quest. They are forced to dredge up these abilities from their own heritage to overcome their challenges.” The voice rolled through the fog in a weird echo.
“So, you’re saying you came back with a special ability but didn’t make it home in time? And because you failed, you ended up here?” Annalise asked, in shock. “I wasn’t even sent on a quest. I’m just here—wait. Do you mean we’re not on the roof of the school anymore? This isn’t just a weird fog or storm happening?” Her voice rose. “If we’re not at the school, then where are we? Dumped here?” she asked, her voice darkening. “What the hell does that mean? Where is here?”
“I don’t know where here is,” he said, his voice heavy. “This gray world is all I’ve seen since I arrived. There have been tiny slices of the normal world on the odd occasions when I managed to make contact. But other than that…this is my life. That you’re here now could mean you weren’t supposed to be part of the group that left.”
Annalise cried out in surprise, overlaid with horror.
The voice paused a bit. “I don’t know for sure. But I must admit I’m absolutely delighted to have you with me. I’ve been so lonely.”
“How long have you been here?” Annalise asked slowly. “I don’t remember ever hearing about you.”
Trace gave a half sob. “Since the last quest cycle I think. So maybe a full year. In a way that seems like yesterday, and yet, in another way, it seems like forever.”
Annalise shook her head in horror. “A whole year caught in this darkness? What did you eat? What did you drink?”
Trace said, “I didn’t do either. It’s like I’m caught in between dimensions. There’s no food, but I’m not hungry. There’s nothing to drink, but I’m not thirsty. Thankfully, sleeping works here as I spend the majority of my time doing that. It’s almost like I’m in a comatose state most of the time, only waking up because of some disturbance. And there have been a lot of disturbances lately. So I knew something was happening. Then I caught sight of Melissa...at least I think it was her. It was hard to see. I do know what she looks like though,” he said, his voice changing, softening. “She was a year younger than me, a year behind. That’s when I considered a whole year might have passed, and a new quest cycle started—her quest cycle. If only I returned in time,” he said. “But my talisman slipped out of my hand as I approached the roof. I was that close. I could see Hettie and the headmaster standing there, waiting for me, expecting me to make it, smiles on their faces …”
He gulped, his voice shaking as he continued. “I also saw their faces as the horror filled their gazes when they realized I wouldn’t make it.” Trace shuddered, the movement obvious in his voice as he said, “And I knew something really bad would happen.”
“All that said, no way am I staying here for a whole year,” Annalise said. “I don’t even belong here at all. I wasn’t part of the group. I wasn’t supposed to be on the roof. I used to go up there when I needed some space. So that’s why I was up there at that time. When I saw the darkness, I lunged for the headmistress but was caught up in this mess. Hettie must have recognized I shouldn’t be there because she tried to pull me out of it.”
“That’s possible. You probably weren’t scheduled to do your quest for another year.”
“Or it’s possible I don’t have any abilities, like you all have, and wasn’t meant to come at all,” she said in disgust. “Wouldn’t it be so typical of my world I get involved in a group of the chosen, and yet I’m not one of them?” But instead of stressed or teary-eyed, she just got angry. “Why the hell is this happening to me? I didn’t even want to go to the damn school in the first place.”

Trace gave a shocked gasp. “What do you mean? Why didn’t you want to come to the school? It’s the best school ever.”


About the Author:

Blair Drake believes in magic, especially the magic of stories with fantasy, adventures, romance, action, and surprises. She has loved writing and living in the stories of the Finding Magic series and is so excited to share the quests of the Gray Cliffs Academy students with her readers.

When she’s not writing about magic, she’s reading about it. Her influences are Cassandra Claire, Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, Garth Nix, and many more.

In the mortal plane, following the lure of magic has drawn Blair into strange and wonderful adventures from Australia to New York City, with many stops in between. She currently lives near Denver. Her very favorite spot is a red loveseat in her office, frequently shared with two cats, an outnumbered Dalmation, and occasionally her bewitched husband.

She might have gone to a school similar to Gray Cliffs Academy and would love to go through a magic portal. In the meantime, she’s creating her own in more books of magic.







Monday, October 15, 2018

ENCHANTING YULETILE: A MULTI-AUTHOR ANTHOLOGY




From Children of the Moon
By Jena Baxter

Moonlight shines within my soul
Musical notes splash color
Violin, piano, from worlds of old
Stirs new life with blossoming wonder
Seabirds call in the distant sky
Warm breath of forgotten lovers
My heart stands with awe and wonder
Lost in a web of finest silk
Notes spiral through twilight endless

In a fine-spun web of enchantment.




Enchanting Yuletide: A Multi-Author Anthology
Jena Baxter, Raven Williams, Ellie Lieberman, Barb Lieberman, Guy Donovan, CK Brewer

Genre: Holiday / Fantasy

Publisher: Pipe and Thimble

Date of Publication: November 15th, 2017

ASIN: B076LLT6JD

Number of pages: 184

Word Count:

Cover Artist: Raven Williams

Tagline: Tis the Season for Magic

Book Description:

Six stories of the holiday season, guaranteed to put you in a festive mood. So, grab your hot chocolate and snuggle up to experience the season as you've never done before. After all, tis the Season for Magic!






About the Author Raven Williams


A prolific writer, Raven began her career in 2010 with a blog and non-fiction, then moving to fiction in 2014, when she began Elven-Jumper, the first book in the Realm.

Jumper Chronicles. She now has 30 books to her name, spanning the Realm Jumper Chronicles, Raven’s Twisted Classics, and the Demon Stones Saga, as well as her non-fiction, with more planned.

When Raven is not writing, she is creating art in the form of abstract paintings, fractal designs, and jewelry pieces that tie into her stories. She is also a caregiver for a disabled family member and two cats. She physically resides in the Northwest Florida Panhandle, but spends most of her time mentally in her Mystic Realms.

Will you join her?

Sign-up for Raven’s Newsletter here: https://mysticrealmscurioshop.com/newsletter-sign-up


Raven’s Mystic Realms FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/mysticrealmscurioshop/







About the Author Jena Baxter

A prolific writer, Jena Baxter creates characters with depth and stories filled with action, emotion, and a little bit of romance. She loves building fantastical worlds and cultures.

Living in Northern California with her husband, Jena enjoys soapmaking, her pets, and writer's conferences. She also reads for a screenwriting contest on an annual basis.







Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jena-Baxter/e/B00M4YF352



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Halloween Flash Fiction with SD SIMPER (The Sting of Victory)



Eri awoke when the candle at her window blew out. The light in her bedroom shifted, the warm glow replaced by translucent, silver wisps of moonlight.
Her bed creaked when Eri sat up, the wood groaning from age and use. All the world was silent beyond, and when Eri stood up and gazed out her window, she saw faint flickering lights shining from other homes in her village, offering the same respects.
She always kept her matches close at hand – as she ignited one, she recited a whispered chant to the Goddess: “The light shall burn away all your fears.”
There were terrors in the night, rumors of a monster decimating villages after dark. The Endless Night, they called it, but Eri did not fear, the comforting light of the candle illuminating her bedroom like an embrace from her beloved Goddess. Soft hues of orange cast deep shadows across the furniture. Eri gazed out across the sleepy elven village, the home she loved, but then a shadow blotted out the moon.
It passed, but not before Eri saw the eerie silhouette cast across the celestial light.
The candle, she realized, had been a warning.
She ran to her sister’s room. The girl slept peacefully, despite the first hints of screaming from beyond.
Eri gathered her courage and shook her sister awake. “Lirita, awaken. We have no time.”
Her sister blinked and rubbed her sleepy eyes, her precious pointed years just visible as they poked from the blankets. “Eri-”
“Put on your robe – we must go!”
Lirita obeyed, and thank the Goddess for that. Eri herself ran to throw on her shoes and grab a satchel of food – one set aside for this very purpose. When she looked back to the bedroom, Lirita approached. “Eri, is it-?”
Eri nodded as she stole the girl into her arms, the tiny thing barely half her height. Eri had raised Lirita for six months now, after their parents’ death, and she had vowed to do whatever it took to give her little sister a home – even if it meant abandoning it now.
Outside, the cold air bit her skin. Winter would soon be here, but that precluded they survived until then. Eri saw a great shadow moving in the distance, illuminated by the full moon – elongated limbs, far too thin. Flashing in the backdrop of darkness, Eri saw glowing eyes in the brightest blue, icy enough to freeze her blood
Screaming erupted from beyond. Eri heard shattering stone and wood. She ran away, to the great river beyond.
Lirita clung to Eri’s neck. “Where are we going?”
“As far as we can.” Already, her breath began to burn, the added weight of her sister more than she expected. They would escape, but so many others would fall. “Lirita, I want you to scream as loud as you can. We need to wake everyone up.”
The child obeyed, her shrill voice cutting through the false peace. Though deafened by the noise, Eri continued running, her boots stirring up dust beneath them. Through winding streets – their village was dense and older than most – Eri ran, knowing the path by heart, and watched as curious faces peeked beyond their windows. She realized she wasn’t alone, after a point – other feet echoed behind, the lucky few evacuating before the monster could come.
When the houses grew sparse and the road suddenly ended, they face a great river, wider across than the road. It rushed, dangerously so, but it brought the hope of escape. The Goddess would deliver them, and Eri offered a silent prayer of thanks. She glanced back and saw a small crowd running towards them, some carrying children, some with supplies.
The monster stepped out of the trees beyond, emerging from the shadows cast by the moon.
Eri saw it clearly now – its elongated limbs sickly and pale, impossibly thin, yet it balanced on all fours, great claws at the front. Its jaw hung slack as though broken, revealing rows of fangs and a maw of infinite darkness – as endless as its cursed name. Intelligent eyes, glowing brighter than the moon, surveyed the crowd, and Eri swore it smiled.
Here is stood, The Endless Night. It leapt across the river, and Eri screamed.
Prepared for death, Eri clutched her sister tight, then gasped when great claws flung her aside. The monster raked through the crowd of people, but though it tore through them like paper, Eri and her sister yet lived – thrown instead of gored.
With a pained yelp, they smacked against the wall of a building. Though bruised, Eri lived. She glanced at Lirita; the girl sobbed, but she remained unscathed.
Blood dripped from a gash across Eri’s crown, droplets of blood steadily staining her blouse. She ran back into the village, screams and her sister’s own sobs echoing through her head. From behind, she heard the monster’s booming voice, deep and yet shrill, two dissonant tones coming to speak words that grated against Eri’s ears. It recited a language not meant for this world – the dialect of the demons from beyond.
From the shadows emerged hazy figures, and Eri watched as one grabbed an unfortunate soul and pulled him back. They both disappeared into the darkness, his screams ceasing at once.
All around, more shadowed figures emerged. Eri had heard stories of demons seeking hosts, that to be stolen was to be eaten or possessed or worse, but they could not manifest alone. The monster summoned more of its kin, for what purpose Eri could not say.
Eri heard the monster laugh – a horrid, guttural, gleeful sound – and somehow it frightened her more than the demons or the monster itself.
Stragglers were stolen, those who ran with Eri. She saw fire ahead and wondered if it would save her. Goddess, burn away my fears, she prayed. Let Lirita see the sun again.
Fire blazed in the city square – started by the villagers themselves. A great pyre burned, and armed guards stood around it, some swinging at the shadowed figures. The shadows dissipated when struck, and if the flicking light touched them, they vanished with a whispered scream. “Stand in the light!” she heard a guard cry. Another bonfire erupted, fire quickly eating through the dried tinder. “The Endless Night is weak in the light. We need only survive until dawn!”
Or so they said, Eri knew.
From the great shadows cast by the fire, the monster emerged beyond the town square. It stood taller than the buildings, and when it balanced on two legs and bellowed a roar, Eri tucked Lirita to her chest and covered her fragile ears. Eri’s own pointed ears rang and lingered in pain.
Fire cast grotesque shadows across The Endless Night, highlighting its gaunt, unnatural face. Guards rushed as it approached the square, prepared with their swords and shields. With unnatural speed, the monster swept them aside. It grabbed the last and slowly tore him in half, visibly reveling in the man’s screams. Eri heard that perverse laugh as it dangled the halves before the crowd and threw them into the fire.
Eri ducked, then screamed when fire caught her skirt. Burning wood scattered across the earth as Eri dropped Lirita and rolled on the ground.
Its laughter sickened Eri to her core. On the ground, she beat the fire licking at her skirt while The Endless Night continued its rampage. Lirita joined her, the tiny girl braver than Eri had ever felt.
Eri would not die in flame today. Bells rang through the cursed night, deafening even amidst the cacophony of screams and demonic words. The cathedral stood as a beacon of hope, the great bell warning the village of its eminent demise.
Some drawing in Eri’s soul bid her to rise. Perhaps the Goddess would deliver her yet. Eri grabbed Lirita and a burning slab of wood – fire for protection – and ran for the cathedral doors.
It rose in white stone, the richest of all the buildings in town. She banged on the great wooden doors, appalled to find it was locked. With a prayer of apology, she ran instead to the side, and with her makeshift torch swung and shattered the stained-glass window. Rainbows hues scattered across the cathedral floor, reflecting the fire in opalescent shades.
With as much care as she could muster with one arm, Eri helped Lirita inside. The girl made it in without a scratch on her skin, but Eri was much less fortunate – as she fell inside, glass caught her leg, ripping a deep gash across her thigh.
Eri gasped and landed sprawled on the floor, driving the shattered shards deeper into her flesh. The torch licked at the stone floor as her own blood pooled around her. Within, the tentative peace was as fragile as the glass Eri had ruined. She withheld a scream, her pain steadily rising, and with how the blood spurted, she feared she could not walk for long.
Adrenaline spurred her forward, as well as screams from beyond. She grabbed her torch, illuminating the great church, and limped toward the altar.
A statue of the great Goddess smiled down at them, her eyes filled with the kindness of a mother gazing upon her child. Before her was a stone altar draped in fabric, and a chance breeze from the broken window rustled the fabric, revealing a hollow opening – one small enough for a child. “Lirita-”
She gasped as she stumbled and fell, slipping in her own spraying blood. The stone floor caught her, and the glass embedded in her leg cut fresh wounds within.
Tears welled in her eyes as Lirita tugged on her hand. “Hide underneath,” Eri said. “No matter what you hear, do not come out.”
Lirita shook her head and knelt beside her, uncaring of the blood staining her nightgown. “What about you?”
“The Goddess brought me this far. My life is hers.” Small arms wrapped around her head. With the last of her strength, she brought her own arm up to embrace her sister. “I love you. What you can do for me is live.”
“I love you, Eri.”
The enormous doors shattered, the monster’s claw sweeping clean through. Lirita’s touch disappeared, and Eri saw the fabric shift around the altar as The Endless Night approached.
It gazed around the cathedral with its horrid, glowing eyes, its gaping mouth pulling into a vicious, broken smile. Its stared landed on Eri, and she moved to stand on her feet – but collapsed.
Her head swam from blood loss. Despite the instinct to flee, she scooted herself away from the altar, toward the monster, unable to help the sob that tore from her throat.
She stared into the abyss, at the face of this monster from hell, and it stared back. “Goddess, deliver me,” she whispered, and it must have heard, for its cruel laughter met her ears.
It swiped out an enormous claw and ripped the statue of the Goddess from its pedestal. Eri drew a breath, tearing her gaze away from the monster and to the Goddess’ countenance—
The monster threw the statue down. Eri’s death was swift and clean.

* * *

In the aftermath of hell, the endless night did end. Dawn broke across the horizon, casting light onto the ruins of the once thriving village. Every inch of land lay covered in debris and carnage, and already the scent of death and stagnant blood began to rise.
But with the sun rose survivors, the lucky few who escaped the demons and The Endless Night. They gathered their own and formed a caravan, desperate to leave before nightfall – by nightfall, the dead would rise.

Lirita emerged with the living, the only child among the small throng. She did as she promised – she lived.



The Sting of Victory
Fallen Gods
Book One
S D Simper

Genre: Adult Dark Romantic Fantasy (LGBT)

Publisher: Endless Night Publications

Date of Publication:  September 14th 2018

ISBN: 978-1-7324611-1-6

Number of pages: 400
Word Count:  102K

Cover Artist: Jade Mere

Tagline: The cost of love is always high.

Book Description:

“When faced with monstrosity, become the greater monster. The sting of victory will fade with time.”

When Flowridia, a witch granted power by an unknown demon, deceives an alluring foreign diplomat, she is promoted to a position of power to conceal her falsehood. Thrust into a world of politics and murderous ambition, she has her gentle heart and her Familiar to guide her – as well as a drunk Celestial with a penchant for illusion.

Meanwhile, Lady Ayla Darkleaf, Grand Diplomat of Nox’Kartha, smiles with predatory charm and wields her blades with a dancer’s grace. Flowridia falls into a toxic love affair, one she knows will end in heartbreak. But as Ayla’s legacy as a vampiric creature unfolds, Flowridia begins to see the broken woman behind the monster.

When a foreign emperor dies at the hands of a mysterious interloper, one who seeks to collect the greatest sources of power in the realms, Flowridia’s kingdom is charged to stop him. But Flowridia’s devotion becomes torn between duty to her own and the woman whose claws grip her heart.

In the ensuing clash of Gods, Flowridia must choose her loyalties with care – the fate of kingdoms rest in her hands.








About the Author:


S D Simper has lived in both the hottest place on earth and the coldest, spans the employment spectrum from theater teacher to professional editor, and plays more instruments than can be counted on one hand. She and her wife share a home with their two cats and innumerable bookshelves.







Guest Blog : A WITCH'S JOURNEY by TENA STETLER



Speaking of Hauntings!

Did you know, most present day Halloween traditions are traceable to the ancient Celtic day of the dead? Halloween consists of mysterious customs, but each has a history, or at least a story behind it.

Take wearing costumes, and roaming from door to door demanding treats. This behavior can be traced to the Celtic period and the first few centuries of the Christian era, when it was thought that the souls of the dead were out and about, along with fairies, witches, and demons. Offerings of food and drink were left out to placate them. As the centuries wore on, people began dressing like these creatures, performing antics in exchange for food and drink. This is where the practice of trick-or-treating began. To this day, vampires, witches, ghosts, and skeletons are among the favorite costumes.

Our Halloween also retains activities from the original harvest holiday of Samhain, such as bobbing for apples and carving vegetables, (pumpkins) as well as the fruits, nuts, and spices for cider associated with the day. Although at my house, hot chocolate is pretty popular, since Halloween almost guarantees the first snow of the year.

Looking for a fun Halloween Read? A Witch's Journey is chocked full of meddling ghosts, shapeshifters, sexy witch, a ruggedly-handsome Navy SEAL. An exciting story of redemption, wildlife rescue and Halloween festivals. 

What more could you ask for? I love Halloween, don’t you?




A Witch’s Journey
A Witch’s Journey Series
Book One
Tena Stetler         

Genre: Paranormal Romance                        
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: 6/15/2016

ISBN: 978-1-5092-0820-3
ASIN: B01F0LRJ7U

Number of pages: 344
Word Count: 88,890

Cover Artist: Kristian Norris

Tagline: Former Navy Seal helps a powerful witch, achieve her life-long dream of a wild life rescue, but can they save the McKay magic and their love?

Book Description:

Pepper McKay comes from a long line of powerful witches. Unfortunately, magic brings her nothing but trouble. She learned the love of wildlife rescue and rehab from her Aunt Ashling. After graduating from college, Pepper works for Salem Wildlife Sanctuary and lives from paycheck to paycheck until she inherits the McKay property in Lobster Cove. With the family land and resources, she dares to dream of starting her own wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.

Lathen Quartz, a former Navy SEAL turned handyman maintains the enchanted McKay property for the McKay estate. But someone is trying to steal the McKay magic. Lathen offers to help Pepper achieve her life-long dream of building a wildlife center. During the long hours spent together on the project, their mutual attraction can’t be denied. But each harbors a deep, dark secret. Will they overcome their demons and give love a chance?

Amazon       Amazon UK       Amazon AU

Amazon CA       Audible       Amazon Audio


The Wild Rose Press      Kobo      BN        iTunes



About the Author:



Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award winning paranormal romance novels. She has an over-active imagination, which led to writing her first vampire romance as a tween to the chagrin of her mother and delight of her friends.



With the Rocky Mountains outside her window, she sits at her computer surrounded by a wide array of paranormal creatures, with a Navy SEAL or two mixed in telling their tales. Her books tell stories of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Travel, a bit of mystery, and adventure flourish in her books.














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