Wednesday, May 27, 2020


What fun today! We have author Angel Leigh McCoy in the house to talk about her new book. Welcome Angel!

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

ALM: Viviane Rose is just a regular gal who loves her mother and grandfather, and who would do anything for them. She works a hard and sweaty job, managing the laundry team in a private long-term-care facility for the mentally ill—known as Vince Malum Residential Living Center.

Viviane is a natural caretaker and always puts others’ needs before her own. She took the job at the Center because her mother is a patient there. What’s more, she met her fiancé at the facility. He’s a patient too, suffering from amnesia and delusions.
Mental illness has been part of Viviane’s life since she was thirteen when she herself started hearing voices. She has regular therapy sessions at the facility with her psychiatrist and takes medication.

It requires a strong spine to get through the day, but Viviane always manages to keep a positive attitude. That is, until one of her hallucinations starts killing the people around her. At that point, she has to get serious.

SC: Sounds like Viviane is taking on a lot.  Do you believe in the paranormal and if so, do you have an experience you can share?

ALM: I believe in magick, and I believe we all have it in us. I also believe there’s so much more to our universe than we know. I’ve felt cold spots and the instinctual rising of the hair on the back of my neck. I’ve sensed someone watching me and looked up to catch them. I’ve had people call me just at the moment I was thinking about them. And I’ve heard the voices on EVP recordings. Who can explain any of it? I certainly can’t. But we don’t need to explain it. As authors and readers, our job is simply to entertain the question. What if?

SC:  What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

ALM: I’m completely focused right now on completing the third novel in the Wyrdwood Welcome trilogy, called Hexing the Moon. Viviane’s story stretches across the three books (and maybe more later), and my plan is to have the 3rd book out in June.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to meet your followers! I am greatly appreciative.

SC: Thanks for dropping in. Come back anytime!

Stalking the Moon
Wyrdwood Welcome
Book One
Angel Leigh McCoy

Genre: Supernatural Suspense
Publisher: Wily Writers

Date of Publication: April 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1950427055


Number of pages: 290
Word Count: 88,868
Cover Artist:

Tagline:  A New Mythology for the 21st Century

Book Description:

Normal life is complicated enough. Add magick to the mix, and suddenly all hell breaks loose!

Viviane doesn't have time for voices in her head or monsters in her bed! Her family relies on her. She's in charge of a mentally ill mother, a sneaky grandfather, and a sexy (but delusional) fiancé. And yet, the whispers in her mind are barging into Reality—with claws and teeth and murderous intent.

When her fiancé goes missing, she'll do anything to find him. If that means magical, mythical creatures hunt her down, then so be it. This could be the end of her life as she's known it, but well… Consequences be damned.

Excerpt from STALKING THE MOON by Angel Leigh McCoy

The staff entrance was on the women’s wing, near the employee parking lot. Out of habit, I entered there. Nurses, orderlies, and doctors all greeted me as I made my way to Richard’s office.
Richard was seated at his desk. "Hey, Vivi. Come on in." He rebuttoned the collar of his white, custom-fitted dress shirt.
"Howdy." I shut the door behind me and went to the leather couch. It was overstuffed with a high back and deep seat. I felt small on it, but that was part of Richard’s evil plot. Plus, it would have been impossible to fall off it while under hypnosis. It cradled me.
"What part of my psyche are we going to poke today?"
Richard folded his arms on the desk, a pen flapping in one hand as he looked me over. "I want to revisit your early days," he said. "I’ve been going through the transcripts of our sessions, compiling them, and there are a couple things I’d like to revisit."
"Let’s get to it then."
The first time I met Richard, back in the early days, he was finishing his last year as a graduate student in the Psychology Department at the University of Illinois. He was in Peoria doing an internship at the counseling center, and Abram had dragged me there to get my head fixed—at the junior high principal’s request.
Back then, Richard had a long ponytail and was every teenage girl’s dream of the older college boy. I was only thirteen, and he was taller than me, though that changed when I had my growth spurt a few years later.
Thirteen-year-old Me had gone into his office with a chip on my shoulder, hating Abram, hating my illness, and hating Dr. Richard Reuter before I’d even met him.
He'd appeared in the waiting room and asked, "Viviane? Right? Would you come with me?"
"I don’t got a choice."
Abram hissed, "Hey," at me, and said "Be nice."
"Yeah, sure."
I walked into the office and went straight to a chair, flopped there, and crossed my arms on my chest. The first thing I noticed that interested me was the plate of cookies on the coffee table. They were chocolate chip and appeared homemade. I pretended not to see them. I didn’t want him to think I was going to stay all that long, and besides, my stomach didn’t feel too good.
Richard sat in the chair opposite me and watched me for a full minute. Finally, he asked, "How old are you?"
"Fifteen." It was a bold-faced lie.
"I know you’re lying."
I asked, "How old are you?"
"Are you gay?" I said with vehemence, calculating his possible reactions.
He didn’t even flinch. "Viviane, do you know why your grandfather brought you here?"
"Because he’s a sociopath afraid of being noticed. I draw attention to him, and he wants me to stop."
He smiled at that, and for the first time, but not the last, I thought how handsome he was.
In that first session, he didn't hypnotize me, though later, it became a regular part of our therapy sessions. Richard felt it was the best way to track down the source of my hallucinations. He would take me back to the time before my first hallucination, and we'd go over the events of a day or two in each session, gradually working forward through my memories. It was my own personal reality-TV show.
One time, I had what can only be described as a past-life memory, or maybe a dream. Both Richard and I waved it off as an aberration, though I never forgot it. The dream had been wonderful, about a place with emerald hills, crystal streams, and a palace that felt like home. Whenever I thought about it, I could still imagine the smell of honeysuckle on the breeze.
Twenty years later, I was thirty-three, and our regressions were catching up to the conscious flow of time. In the hypnosis sessions, he recorded my soul in bits and pieces, saved forever as audio recordings, transcribed to digital documents, and printed out on paper. He kept the files in his cabinets.
I’d often wondered what would happen when we finally caught up to the present moment. Maybe I’d die. Maybe he’d die. Maybe the entire world would end as the Ouroboros swallowed its own tail.
"All right." Richard got up from his desk. "I’m ready, if you are." He sat in the chair opposite me and leaned forward to turn on the metronome.
I said, "Take me to a happy day."
"You know the drill. Close your eyes, relax, and remember."
Not every tick and tock of the metronome sounded the same. The differences were subtle, but they were there if I listened for them. It was a song without rhyme or reason.
It started small and distant: tick.
The cuckoo clock on the wall at Abram’s house had to be wound. I loved pulling the chains that raised the heavy, metal pinecones. Tock. It had been my job, every morning, when I was a kid. My body rocked to the beat: tick tock. Time ebbed, and space flowed. My spine relaxed. Tick. Gravity released me. Tock. The metronome sang its song in my belly. Tick tock. I was energy, and I radiated.
"We’re going to continue our journey back in time," Richard said. The waves of his voice rippled through me, and the present faded into the background.
I followed the metronome down into a trance. We had a signal. I raised a finger to indicate that I was ready to begin.
"Go back," Richard suggested, "to the moment when you first met Simon, when you were thirteen."
The scene formed around me, inside me, throughout me.
"Describe it to me."
I’m home, and I’m taking a shower. There’s blood running down my leg. It’s swirling in the water and spinning down the drain. I know what it is. Lettie’s had hers since last year, and she took me to buy the stuff I’d need. I’m really glad I didn’t have to do that with my grandpa.
Lettie and me, we read the little instruction book that came in the box and made fun of the pictures. She warned me how it would be, the cramps and mess, but it’s worse when it’s actually happening. It’s scary and weird. I keep thinking that my blood is supposed to stay in my body.
So, I’m standing there in the shower, watching my blood drain away, and I’m trying not to cry, wondering if I’m going to die, and that’s when I hear a man. He sounds like James Bond. "You’re probably not going to die."
I scream and cover my private parts with my hands, but no one’s there.
The voice says, "What I mean is, you are going to be just fine." But nobody’s there. I’m freaking out. I jump out of the shower and run through the house. I’m screaming.
The voice is following me. "Oh, lass, it’s okay."
I streak into the kitchen, and my grandpa is there, trying to calm me down.
I’m crying, naked and wet, shaking all over, blood staining my leg, and Grandpa thinks I’m upset because of my period, but that isn’t it. It’s the man talking to me right next to my ear, when there’s nobody there.
He says his name is Simon.
The metronome sang. Tick. Tock.

About the Author:

Angel Leigh McCoy wears author, game designer, and audiobook narrator hats—sometimes simultaneously. She is the creative force behind the Wyrdwood series of novels and the Dire Multiverse audio drama. She was a senior writer on the award-winning video games CONTROL and GUILD WARS 2. Her work on the White Wolf World of Darkness series included books for Mage, Vampire, Changeling, and several others. She was also the first female game designer on the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS team at Wizards of the Coast. These days, she works from home and is intent on building her own epic worlds, including Wyrdwood and the Dire Multiverse. Her cats approve.


1 3-month membership (or 3 credits if you’re already a member). Entitles you to partake of the Audible Originals titles offered free each month to members. (all-told, a $45 value) If you’ve ever wanted to try audiobooks, this is the time.

5 - Wyrdwood Welcome Swag Bags

Each swag bag includes:

-Free ebook copy of JUMPING THE MOON, Wyrdwood Welcome Book #2, due for release on May 15, 2020.
-A “Proud to be Wyrd” pin
-A Wyrdwood magnet
-Invitation to the private and exclusive Wyrdwood Facebook group
-Treats from the “Wyrdwood Candiporium”

-A surprise toy!

Friday, May 22, 2020


The Power of Your Past and the True Calling of Your Soul!
Angelika Schulze

Genre: Self-Help

Publisher: Angelika Schulze
Date of Publication: 03.05.2020
Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 24.725

Cover Artist: Angelika Schulze

Tagline: Become aware of your full potential

Book Description:

Yes, You Can Overcome The Demons Of The Past And Lead A Fulfilled, Happy Life - This Book Will Show You How!

Take a deep breath and think about your past. What are the first things that come to mind?

Fear? Abuse? Pain? Failure? Trauma?

You might hear your mother threatening to abandon you if you're not good enough.

You might sense your father's anger or see the face of the person who bullied you at school. You might have even more terrifying flashbacks.

But do you know that these traumatic experiences aren't just painful memories?
They continue to shape your life even now.

They make you blind to life-transforming opportunities.

They undermine your relationships with the people you love most. They limit your creative potential and smother your intuition.

Are you doomed now?


You don't have to be a victim if you don't want to.

You can break free from the demons of your past and live the life you've always wanted.

This life-changing book by Angelika Schulze will show you how to do it.

Each chapter will take you on a journey into the very depths of your mind. You will face your fears and self-limiting beliefs - and this time, you won't let them control you!

This book will empower you to:

•         See your past as your source of strength, not pain
•         Stop sabotaging your own success
•         Open your heart to love yourself and others
•         Recognize and develop your unique potential
•         Cultivate and train your intuition
•         Lead an authentic and fulfilling life
•         Achieve your goals - whatever they are

Each chapter comes with visualizations, practical exercises and mantras - personal transformation has never been so practical and simple!

Are you ready to take your first step towards freedom?

Start on your path to liberate your inner self!

How often do we get stuck in past situations in which we were hurt? Perhaps we feel exploited, disregarded, neglected, or powerless, which makes us think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that we don’t have power over our own lives and that other people decide our whole lives.
Most of the time, it is precisely these situations where we can discover our strength that is needed to make progress. In this lesson, I will show you how you can leave unconscious victimhood behind and find the strength to take control of your life.

What Does It Mean to Be a Victim?

Victim awareness is when you are currently blaming yourself or someone else for a situation from your past. This can happen subconsciously.
It means that you hand over the responsibility of creating your best life to a past situation or another person - without taking responsibility for yourself.
This is what mainly prevents you from really moving forward in your life.
Because currently, you are giving someone else or a situation power over you.
In the same breath, you also give away your own strength because you are so focused on allocating the blame you are experiencing.
However, you need strength for yourself, and you need the power to live your life to the fullest. It's like someone or a situation is keeping you from doing this - but only because you have handed the power over to them.
There is a wonderful saying that pretty much sums up how we should feel about our past:  "You can forgive, but you don't have to forget."

Why Should You Forgive Someone Who Hurt You?

All of us have experienced things that have hurt us. Every single person has caused hurt and experienced it.
Whether they are women or men or were abused when they were children, they have gone through many different kinds of abuse.
And yet, they hand over this power to their abusers. Even years later, they still haven’t processed what happened and need to find someone to blame.
I’m not just talking about people that have experienced abuse, which is the extreme end of the spectrum.
Many people have been hurt by other things, or they regret what they did in the past.
You’ll forgive this person, not to do them a favor, but to help yourself, find peace and improve your health and emotional wellbeing.
Your forgiveness is for you, and only you!
Know and recognize that this is an important first step. It is all about your happiness. Don’t let anyone take that away. Your emotional wellbeing is the highest form of wealth you can have. When you forgive someone, you do it so you, yourself, can move forward. If you don’t, you allow that person to take away the joy of your present moment. This is why forgiving someone is the first step to leave victimhood behind and take back your strength. This strength will help you find bliss and happiness.

About the Author:

Angelika Schulze is a personal development coach currently based in Sweden. She specializes in teaching self-worth, self-love and holistic self-care.

Angelika grew up in an abusive, dysfunctional family, and experienced several traumatizing events that severely undermined her feeling of self-worth. However, she managed to overcome the victim mentality, restore her self-worth and transform trauma into triumph. Now, she helps others do the same.

She also seeks to empower moms and dads whose traumatic childhoods make parenting a challenge. By overcoming and transforming their own painful childhood experiences, her clients can finally break the intergenerational cycle of toxic parenting and raise happy, self- confident, self-motivated children.

Some of Angelika's favorite techniques include meditation, visualization, chakra healing, and mindful self-exploration. By combining these techniques into well-rounded self-healing programs, she has already helped countless people reconnect with their true selves, rebuild their self-worth, break free from limiting beliefs and transform their lives.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


It’s a long weekend here in Canada, albeit a rather strange one. What a strange start to the summer in this strange new world. Lucky for us, we have author Stephanie Hansen visiting us virtually today. Welcome, Stephanie!

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

SH: From the main character:

“Name's Austria. I'm skipping college visits to work at a haunted house. My mother's thrilled. You can often find me in a local coffee shop playing chess with Josh. Unless we're on the run. Lately it seems I'm constantly haunted, but it's nothing from my job. When I'm not in danger physically, my heart's on the line as I'm inexplicably drawn to Josh, no matter how unwise that may be.”

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

SH: Yes. When I was in ICU being admitted due to a fatal disease, I experienced something. The hospital staff didn’t allow my family in the room with me when I received a spinal tap. Though I was not entirely coherent, I vividly remember someone holding my hand. After being released weeks later, I returned to give thanks to the staff. No one on the staff was holding my hand.

SC: Interesting! Thanks for sharing that with us.  What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

SH: I’m finalizing STRANDED COIL and PARALLELED BOND, books 2 & 3 of the ALTERED HELIX series.

I’m editing REPLACED PARTS and finishing OMITTED PIECES, a duology signed with Fire & Ice YA books.

Then I have two novellas and one screenplay that I’m adapting to novels.

SC: Well then! We’d better let you get back at it. We’ll just sneak a peek at your new book while you’re not looking! 

Altered Helix
Altered Helix Series
Book One
Stephanie Hansen

Genre: YA science fantasy - Novella
Publisher: Hypothesis Books
Date of Publication: 5/19/20
Number of pages: 176
Word Count: 35,000
Cover Artist: inkE Cover Design

Tagline: Some dangers come barreling at you like a freight train. Others slide right under your nose without being noticed.

Book Description:

I didn’t want to take the traditional path. First, I wasn’t ready for college. Second, I was going to live with my best friend, Tiff, and work at the Haunted House. Third, did I mention the hot guy Josh that works there too?

The most exciting thing about Austria’s new job, at a local haunted house, was the fact that the toughest looking people screamed the loudest. But when she meets the boy without a home, Josh, Austria's life takes intriguing and eventful turns. Up until now, Josh has managed to hang with his Street crowd, but they’re in danger, and so is Austria, the girl Josh recently fell for. The group finds themselves joining forces with previously considered enemies who also now find themselves in danger.

Deeply compassionate and full of twists, Altered Helix captures the struggle of polarized people that must work together for the greater good.

Amazon      Books2Read
As I walk through the hallway to the living room, it’s disturbingly silent.  I don’t hear my mother’s fingers brilliantly strumming piano keys. The Silver Clouds Chasing the Moon by Lang Lang, music sheets are strewn chaotically about the room. I close my eyes and focus on my mother’s energy. A vision of her on the bench in the garden under the pergola comes to mind.

I leap the stepping-stones, skipping every other. Blue hydrangeas and orange daffodils blur by me. As I approach, I notice the yellow roses are in full blossom, their smell fresh as the tide rolling in. My mother’s holding a picture in her hands. When she looks up, I see tear streaks on her cheeks. I sit down and put an arm around her. She’s holding the last photo we took as a family. My eyes zero in on a male, mirror image of myself, my father. I was fourteen then; now I’m seventeen and graduated early. I wish he could’ve been there to see it. Mother should be holding a photo of my graduation day with all of us in it, smiling.

I squeeze her shoulder as my throat constricts in pain. Without looking up, I can feel my mother’s eyes turn to me. I close my eyes and place my wrists on my knees. I begin playing the piece thrown from the stand in our living room by heart, moving my fingers to the rhythm and placing them where the notes should be. She squeezes my shoulder in return.

Walking to the house, she stops and points at the tire swing, offering an aching smile. I hold her hand as the visualization takes me. My father’s pushing me at the age of four, and I feel like I’m on one of the roller coasters we drive by on Route 435. One of the old ones with only a handlebar for safety, no seatbelts. At the top, my stomach floats up, and the view down becomes daunting. The velocity forces me to squeal. I can still picture his smile seeing me enjoy the ride. In the excitement, I let go to raise my hands in glee. I still remember the way his face turned from elation to horror. He moved faster than I could imagine and caught me before I met my imminent doom.

About the Author:

Stephanie Hansen's short story, Break Time, and poetry has been featured in Mind’s Eye literary magazine. The Kansas Writers Association published her short story, Existing Forces, appointing her as a noted author. She has held a deep passion for writing since early childhood, but a brush with death caused her to allow it to grow. She's part of an SCBWI critique group in Lawrence, KS and two local book clubs. She attends many writers’ conferences including the New York Pitch, Penned Con, New Letters, All Write Now, Show Me Writers Master Class, BEA, and Nebraska Writers Guild conference as well as Book Fairs and Comic-Cons. She’s a member of the deaf and hard of hearing community.

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Friday, May 15, 2020


Lee Roland has taken over the page today with a special blog. Thanks Lee! Here we go:

Huntress Rising is an urban fantasy story of mankind living on the cusp of a new world. War and disease, a country in ruins, and near extinction level populations, how do humans start over? What challenges do they face, other than their own destructive nature? Certainly, no one anticipated the catastrophe of coming under an attack by creatures from ancient times. 
Humans had made several great leaps into the future throughout the ages. The basic Neolithic nomads went from wandering to gathering together in villages to grow and harvest crops. That, along with the domestication of animals, brought safety and predictability. Eventually, as populations increased, they required wooden or rock walls because those folks over the hill were greedy. Priests, kings, and wars pushed civilizations to even higher levels.  Another major advance began with the mechanical age to build fine, modern civilizations.  Until bombs and disease brought it crashing down.
Huntress Rising is the story of a time after the crash, a grim age with a limited population and salvaged tools to pursue a new life. One thing humans hadn’t expected was the arrival of creatures they had only heard of in myths and stories. Vampires and werewolves had lived in secret for thousands of years. With humans weakened by war, they thought their time to rule had come. But humans, perverse creatures that they are, managed to rise to the challenge. After all, any race that could destroy 99% of its own members could certainly beat down a few beasts and blood suckers. 
Once again humans found themselves gathering in villages with walls. The battle raged across the wilderness of a vast unpopulated country. Who were they, these new warrior’s for mankind? The protagonist of Huntress Rising, Maat Ferris is one. Most of her family was killed by werewolves. She’s a thief, self-proclaimed liar, and a pure terror in a fight. She says of herself…
Maat Athena Ferris, werewolf hunter extraordinaire. I was born during my mother’s Goddess period according to the aunt who raised me. Maat is a simpler version of Ma’at, the ancient Egyptian goddess of justice and order. Mom also stuck me with Athena, the mythical Greek warrior goddess. I’m no goddess, but this Maat demands justice for our dead and maimed. I stand for the victims and survivors of the obscene beasts ravaging the land.
Of course, every protagonist must have a challenger to create a balance—and a romance. An odd romance since they’re both passionate people engaging in a ferocious battle of wills. They try to kill each other when they meet. That’s a pretty significant challenge to overcome. Right? Maat says of Xavier…

Another man stood by the table. Dark hair, golden amber skin, that one wore jeans and a leather jacket. No uniform, but he had the tight, broad-shouldered look of a professional soldier. A big man, maybe six-five, he carried solid bone and muscle on every inch. I drew a sharp breath and tightened my grip on the Aries when he turned toward my hiding place. A savage red scar ran from jaw line to ear on one side. The mark of a devastating injury, it stopped shy of a generous, sensual mouth.

Huntress Rising’s country is fragmented. You have most larger population centers in ruins and most power settled in two places. Seattle in the far west and New Washington built in Virginia when the old one became unhabitable. Only the distance has kept them from all-out war—so far.
In the east is Aaron Gannett, president and dictator of the United States.  According to Maat…
He was as popular as stomach ulcers and butt boils.
President Gannett has become controlled by a vampire. Ruelle San Nicolás and old acquaintance of Maat’s. She says of him…
Long golden hair cascaded down his back in soft curls. His tall, slender body had the muscular grace of a man in the prime of his life. He was a beauty all right, and as deadly as any viper that ever slithered across the earth.

In Seattle, a large collection of humans, vampires, and werewolves are trying to live in peace and form a new government. No one knows much about them except they have powerful radio broadcasts proclaiming the city the new Capitol of the US.
The grand prize in Huntress Rising is a securely sealed vault in New Mexico that holds the last five functioning nuclear missiles in the world. The vampire and his sycophant president are  desperate to get their hands on them. If he destroys Seattle and New Washington, he can rule the world with three nukes to spare in the unlikely case any other countries challenge him.
Maat Ferris, Colonel Xavier and others have found and stolen necessary equipment to open the missile vault and destroy everything.  They somehow must get it to New Mexico It’s a race across the barren country with the vampire and his sycophant president in pursuit. It’s also the need to unite strong alpha personalities who are desperately subverting their urge to do battle—or fall in love.

Huntress Rising

Angel of Death

Book One

Lee Roland

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Date of Publication: December 9, 2019
ISBN 978-1-5092-2887-4
ISBN 978-1-5092-2888-1
Number of pages:  378
Word Count: 99, 281
Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Tagline: The Angel of Death is no angel, but a world in ruins needs her guns more than wings.

Book Description:

In a post-apocalypse world besieged by monsters, Colonel Xavier, a military man with a deadly temper, deliberately challenges Maat Ferris, a fierce, werewolf hunter. When Xavier meets Maat, he can't decide whether to shoot her or kiss her. There is no uncertainty in her. She promptly stabs him. His hot then cold attitude makes her crazy, and his tendency to protect her is even worse.

Unfortunately, the combative pair must join forces on a treacherous journey, across the bleak, barren country. Pursued by a dictator president and the vampire who holds him in thrall, they carry precious cargo that will give democracy seeking rebels a chance to remain free.

Maat and Xavier, true to their aggressive, passionate natures, must also battle their way through a most unusual courtship. Can their love grow amidst the destruction and rebuilding of a society under siege? Or will they kill each other first?

Amazon      BN      Books a Million


Chapter One
May 18, 2085 A.D
Avalon Agricultural Commune
Appalachian Mountains

Christopher worked his way down toward paradise. His tongue flicked in my navel and his fingers had already reached the gate. The lantern’s golden light played across our warm, flushed skin. I twisted my own fingers in his thick red hair, urging him on to the heart of gratification. He stopped, raised his head, and stared at me.
“What?” I didn’t expect him to answer. Christopher never spoke. One of the other members here at the AG Commune told me he could speak but wouldn’t because he was a Prime Oracle. His prophecies always came true—and he hated it.
To my dismay, Christopher rose from the bed, grabbed his robe, and drew it over his head. A frantic knock sounded at the door. The knock came again, this time accompanied by the voice of Julia, our leader Anolia’s young assistant.
“Maat? Maat, are you there?”
I glanced at Christopher, but his face remained impassive. The dark night terrified Julia. What was she doing at my door?
“Maat? Maat, please.”
Each word came with a higher and more desperate note. Christopher gave me one of his sweet smiles. Yes, I knew I had to answer.
“I’m coming, Julia.” I rose, grabbed my own robe, tossed it on, and went to the door. Julia jammed herself inside before it completely opened. She stood gasping, eyes wide, and pale hands clenched tight around her lantern handle. She shivered, even though summer had almost arrived, and it wasn’t cold outside.
“What is it, Julia?” I touched her arm. She jerked.
She closed her eyes and whispered a broken version of the serenity prayer. She didn’t seem any calmer when she finished. “Anolia wants you in the chapel dining room right now.” Julia blurted out the sentence like a single, multisyllable word.
“Why?” Anolia often sent Julia on errands, but she wasn’t cruel. What caused her to send the girl into the darkness she so feared? Julia shook her head, unable to continue. She glanced over her shoulder toward the door. “I have to go.”
I wouldn’t get anything else from her.
“Tell Anolia I’ll be there soon.”
Julia nodded. I opened the door and watched her lantern sway as she hurried up the path and over the hill. After I closed the door, I turned to Christopher.
“Something’s wrong. I better go see what she wants.”
Christopher seized my shoulders with hands made strong by his work at the forge. His fingers squeezed in a savage grip, and his striking face twisted in anguish.
“Take your guns, Maat. Take your guns.”
He spoke with a gravity that stunned me. He gave me a sweet kiss, and he too hurried out into the night. Seconds passed while I recovered from the shock of hearing him speak for the first time in over a year. Then I took his advice. I dragged my old suitcase from under the bed and threw it open.
The scent of gun oil and saddle soap filled the room. All my weapons lay there as they had for the past two years while I’d lived in peace here at the commune. Regularly cleaned, they patiently waited for the once familiar killing urge to strike their mistress again. I pulled on well-worn, black denim pants and a knit shirt, both softened with age. The supple boots that allowed me to tread softly across most terrain still fit comfortably.
I’m tall, lean, and have a moderately androgynous face. I’m not beautiful. Beauty is a blessing for women who need it to survive in this dangerous post-war, post disease world. I’ve never envied them, those lovely things with their smiles and sparkling eyes. All I needed was a gun, a blade, and a little luck. I may even run out of luck, but I kept my blade sharp, and my well-oiled guns didn’t age. The bullets retained their devastating punch.
I pinned my mass of unruly and not so lovely brown curls at the nape of my neck and wedged a small sheathed knife into the knot. The .44 Magnum Rudra, loaded with high impact silvers, the only ammunition I used, went into the unwieldy and uncomfortable holster at the small of my back. A more accessible shoulder holster carried a .45 caliber Aries under my left arm. I strapped a leather knife sheath to my left forearm, so I could grab the hilt with my right hand. I’d seen sheaths that buckled to the thigh, but I preferred my legs free, so I could run better. Knowing when to run had saved me more than once.

I pinned my mass of unruly and not so lovely brown curls at the nape of my neck and wedged a small sheathed knife into the knot. The .44 Magnum Rudra, loaded with high impact silvers, the only ammunition I used, went into the unwieldy and uncomfortable holster at the small of my back. A more accessible shoulder holster carried a .45 caliber Aries under my left arm. I strapped a leather knife sheath to my left forearm, so I could grab the hilt with my right hand. I’d seen sheaths that buckled to the thigh, but I preferred my legs free, so I could run better. Knowing when to run had saved me more than once. 

About the Author:

After twenty years in public service, Lee Roland retired to become a full-time paranormal romance and urban fantasy writer. Her first three published novels, the Earth Witches, series tells the stories of strong men and women who battle the evil hiding under the surface of the modern world.  Lee hasn't always been a writer, but has always been a daydreamer, constantly making up stories and noted for rewriting her school day into happy endings when telling her mother.  Winner of numerous literary contests and a Golden Heart nominee, she currently lives and writes with her beloved dogs and cats in North Central Florida.