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Thursday, April 2, 2020

Book Review: The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter Book 1) by K.S. Marsden + Giveaway

The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter Book 1)
by K.S. Marsden
January 3, 2013

Pages: 225
When a new witch threat rises, only Hunter Astley can stop them…

In the face of dark magic and evil witches, a secret witch-hunting society works tirelessly to keep them at bay. The Malleus Maleficarum Council have strict rules and practises for eradicating magic.

Due to their work, witches have been almost forgotten, relegated to myth; but the rumours are starting to emerge of a new power that will throw the world into chaos.

As the only 7th generation witch-hunter, Hunter Astley is the best the MMC has to offer. With the help of his colleagues, it’s a race to track down this new threat and stop them… in any way he can.

Hunter belongs to a secret society that hunts witches called the Malleus Maleficarum Council. The council’s goal is to eradicate all magic no matter the cost and due to their relentless work, the society has almost rid the world of all witches. When a rumor surfaces that a new power is emerging Hunter’s world is thrown into chaos as they try to figure who this powerful witch is and what she is capable of.


Part one of the Witch-Hunter trilogy. 
**Get it FREE! ** 
Add to Goodreads

The Shadow Rises is book one in the Witch-Hunter trilogy and lays the groundwork for a good series. Hunter is a 7th generation witch-hunter and he’s a little bit arrogant but cares deeply for his work and his friends. James is a 1st generation witch-hunter and works at Hunter’s side. He is mostly relegated to research which he excels at.

The council, as well as the hunters that work for them, are narrow-minded. They think that every witch is evil and has never taken the time to find out if it is actually true. It shows that people, no matter where they are or what they are, still fear the things they do not understand.

Getting 4 sheep





Denise B

Witch-Hunter Trilogy
The Shadow Rises ~ free to download
The Shadow Reigns
The Shadow Falls
Witch-Hunter Prequels
James: Witch-Hunter
Sophie: Witch-Hunter
Kristen: Witch-Hunter ~ coming 2020




About the Author:
Kelly Marsden grew up in Yorkshire, and there were two constants in her life - books and horses.

Graduating with an equine degree from Aberystwyth University, she has spent most of her life since trying to experience everything the horse world has to offer. She is currently settled into a Nutritionist role for a horse feed company in Doncaster, South Yorkshire.

Her first book, The Shadow Rises, was published in January 2013, and she now has several successful series under her belt. 


GIVEAWAY
$20 Amazon Giftcard 
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy 10th Birthday I Smell Sheep! + giveaway

Y'all...we've been smelling sheep for 10 years... *blinks* 🐑


When Katie started I Smell Sheep 10 years ago BS (before Sharon) 

Instagram debuted 🐑 Legalization of same-sex marriage
iPad debuted🐑 The Walking Dead TV show started
Bieber Hair was popular 🐑 Angry Birds game came out
“Billionaire” by Bruno Mars  My Space was popular
Despicable Me, Toy Story 3, Inception
Breaking Bad 🐑 "Tik Tok" Kesha
Lady Gaga wore her meat dress 🐑 Last episode of Lost aired
🐑 6.933 billion world population 🐑



April 2011 Sharon became a permanent part of I Smell Sheep 🐑

Here is the original logo vs the current logo
(created by original member Richard)
Richard also created some sheep mascots
Other sheep made for us

Kool-Aid and Moon pies are the official drink and food of I Smell Sheep


Baaart is a nickname, his official full name was created by members...
Dr. Baron Bixter von Baaathalmew III Jr.

We couldn't have done it without all the awesome people who wrote reviews for I Smell Sheep over the last 10 years, the authors who wrote guest posts, the publishers who sent books to read and giveaway...

Author/artist Adrienne Wilder created a cool movie poster!
Previous posters Adrienne created

Shout out to reviewer Bianca Greenwood for our birthday banner!

GIVEAWAY
1 winner: $20 amazon gift card (INT)
1 winner: box of books (US only)

(#of winners TBD): Woolzilla poster (INT)

(#of winners TBD): mystery swag bag (INT)


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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

National Celebration Days in April

It's time to do some April celebrating! Make sure to add the fun ones to your calendar. Of course, the most important celebration is I Smell Sheep's birthday!

APRIL
I Smell Sheep Birthday
Frog Month 
Global Astronomy Month 
National Poetry Month

April 1
April Fool's Day
Atheist Day
International Fun at Work Day
International Tatting Day
National Walking Day
Sorry Charlie Day 
Paraprofessional Appreciation Day
Reading is Funny Day
Poetry and the Creative Mind Day

April 2
Children's Book Day
National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day
Reconciliation Day
Hans Christian Anderson’s birthday
Photo credit:

April 3
Don't Go to Work Unless it's Fun Day - we know your decision
National Walk to Work Day - first Friday of month
Tweed Day
World Party Day

April 4
Hug a Newsman Day
Walk Around Things Day
School Librarian Day
Tell a Lie Day
World Rat Day
Tangible Karma Day
Maya Angelou’s birthday

April 5
5-11: Bat Appreciation Week
Go for Broke Day
National Dandelion Day
First Contact Day (Star Trek related. April 5, 2063 = date made first contact with the Vulcans.) 
Read A Road Map Day 
Qingming Festival (Chinese Tomb-Sweeping Day) 
Zak Bagans’ Birthday 

April 6
California Poppy Day 
National Tartan Day
New Beer's Eve
Plan Your Epitaph Day
Sorry Charlie Day
Teflon Day

April 7
Caramel Popcorn Day
International Beaver Day
National Beer Day
No Housework Day
World Health Day
April 8
All is Ours Day
Draw a Picture of a Bird Day
Passover begins at sundown - date varies
Zoo Lover's Day
Buddha’s Birthday 
Kane Hodder’s Birthday 


April 9
Name Yourself Day
Winston Churchill Day
Cherish an Antique Day 
Unicorn Day
April 10
Golfer's Day 
Good Friday - date varies
National Siblings Day

April 11
Eight Track Tape Day - do you remember those?
Barbershop Quartet Day
National Submarine Day

April 12
Big Wind Day - this day blows me away!
Easter Sunday - date varies
Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day
National Licorice Day
Russian Cosmonaut Day
Walk on Yor Wild Side Day
Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.) Day
Beverly Cleary’s birthday

April 13
Dyngus Day always the Monday after Easter
International Plant Appreciation Day
National Peach Cobbler Day
Scrabble Day

April 14
Ex-Spouse Day
International Moment of Laughter Day
Look up at the Sky Day
National Dolphin Day
National Pecan Day
Palm Sunday - date varies
Reach as High as You Can Day
Noah Webster published American Dictionary of the 
English Language

April 15
Income Taxes Due (most years, it's on the 15th)
Rubber Eraser Day
That Sucks Day
Titanic Remembrance Day
World Art Day
April 16
Mushroom Day
National Bean Counter Day
National Eggs Benedict Day
National High Five Day third Thursday
National Librarian Day
National Stress Awareness Day
Save the Elephant Day
Celebrate Teen Literature Day

April 17
Bat Appreciation Day
Blah, Blah, Blah Day
International Haiku Poetry Day
National Cheeseball Day 
Pet Owners Independence Day
Herbalist Day
photo credit
April 18
Husband Appreciation Day
International Juggler's Day
World Circus Day
Newspaper Columnists Day

April 19
19-25 – National Library Week 
National Garlic Day
 Nick Groff’s Birthday

April 20
Chinese Language Day
Look-Alike Day
Patriot's Day
Volunteer Recognition Day

April 21
Kindergarten Day
National Library Workers Day

April 22
Administrative Professionals Day
Earth Day (U.S.)
Girl Scout Leader Day
National Jelly Bean Day
National Bookmobile Day

April 23
Lover's Day
National Zucchini Bread Day
Ramadan - begins at sundown
Take a Chance Day
Take Your Daughter to Work
World Laboratory Day
Movie Theatre Day 
Take Action for Libraries Day
William Shakespeare’s birthday
photo credit
World Book and Copyright Day
English Language Day

April 24
24-26 National Dream Hotline 
Arbor Day -last Friday of month
Pig in a Blanket Day
St. Mark’s Eve (aka Spying on Future Ghosts) 

April 25
East Meets West Day
National DNA Day
photo credit
World Penguin Day 
Save The Frogs Day
Independent Bookstore Day

April 26
Hug an Australian Day
National Pretzel Day
Richter Scale Day
Alien Day 
Hans Holzer’s Deathiversary 

April 27
Babe Ruth Day
Morse Code Day
National Prime Rib Day
Tell a Story Day

April 28
International Astronomy Day
Great Poetry Reading Day
Kiss Your Mate Day
National Superhero Day

April 29
Greenery Day
National Shrimp Scampi Day
National Zipper Day
Alfred Hitchcock’s Deathiversary 
Bats Day
photo credit

April 30
Hairstyle Appreciation Day
National Honesty Day
National Mahjong Day
photo credit
Half Way to Halloween 
Hexennacht (Witches’ Night) 
Walpurgis Night (also a sort of Witches’ Night)

Excerpt: Providence by Max Barry + giveaway

Providence
by Max Barry
March 31, 2020
320 pages
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
The video changed everything. Before that, we could believe that we were safe. Special. Chosen. We thought the universe was a twinkling ocean of opportunity, waiting to be explored. Afterward, we knew better.

Seven years after the world watched aliens slaughter a team of research scientists in deep space, Providence Five launches. It is an enormous and deadly warship, built to protect humanity from its greatest ever threat. On board is a crew of just four: Jackson, the combat veteran captain; Gilly, a hardware maintenance engineer; Talia, the morale officer; and Anders, the weapons expert. As they navigate space in search of hives of aliens, now called salamanders, they are tasked with monitoring the ship and reporting the war’s progress to a mesmerized global audience by way of social media. Halfway into their mission, the crew confronts the unthinkable: their communications are cut and the ship becomes decreasingly trustworthy and effective. As the ship fails them, the crew begins to realize the full of extent of their role, and to survive, they must win a fight that is suddenly and terrifyingly real. Though set in the indeterminate future, PROVIDENCE crackles with contemporary relevance with its themes of social media, propaganda, AI, zero-casualty warfare, and public perceptions of war, all served up with Barry’s trademark intelligence and wit.



PRAISE FOR PROVIDENCE:
“I could not put Providence down until I’d finished it in one thrilling sitting. This is science fiction at its best—a ship so believably alive and characters so determined, flawed, and compelling that you’ll forget you’re not also part of the crew.”
—Peng Shepherd, author of The Book of M

“An astonishing novel! Providence is Philip K. Dick and William Gibson fueled by pure adrenaline (with a bit of Spielberg and Ridley Scott thrown in). The brilliant, unstoppable imagination of Max Barry glows on every page of this action-filled yet emotionally resonant, tale. It will keep you riveted from first page till last. I read in one sitting and I guarantee you’ll do the same.”
—Jeffery Deaver, New York Times bestselling author

“Providence is an absolute treat. Pulls the trick of being both irrepressibly old-school sci-fi and creepingly relevant to the data-driven future.”
—Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will Be Invincible

1
[Gilly]
The Launch
Before he could go before a global audience of two billion, they wanted to fix his eyebrows. He sat before a light-ringed mirror, on a chair that went up and down at the whim of a woman with silver lips, and tried to keep still.
"The left is fine," she said. "The right concerns me."

He'd been in the chair for two hours. There had been a makeup person, a hairdresser, a stylist, and now this second makeup person. His face felt like a plaster model, ready to crack and fall to pieces if he smiled.

"Smile," she said. It did not crack. "Can I get some three-base paste for Gilligan?"

"Gilly," he said reflexively. He didn't like Gilligan.

"I'm so nervous, I could barf," said the person to his left. "That blueberry yogurt is definitely starting to feel like a mistake."

Three others were in chairs alongside him; the speaker was Talia Beanfield, the Life Officer. Gilly glanced at her but she was recording herself on her phone. He was supposed to be recording clips, too. Service wanted to stitch them together into a behind-the-scenes feed of the launch ceremony.

She caught his eye and smiled. For most of the last half hour, Beanfield had been immersed in towels and clips. She looked good now, though. Her hair was artful and honey brown and glimmered as she moved. "Did you try the yogurt, Gilly?"

"No."

"Smart," she said to her phone. "This is why Gilly's Intel and I'm Life."

"I'm sorry," said the makeup woman. "I need to get in there." She stood between them and resumed her attack on Gilly's face.

"Stop giving the makeup people a hard time, Gilly," Beanfield said. "You and your unruly eyebrows."

"Eyebrow," said the woman. "It's only the right."

"A deviant," said Beanfield.

"Len's here," called a woman by the door. "Last looks, please!"

Gilly took the opportunity to check out the others. Jackson, the captain, was reclining with a white bib tucked around her neck, eyes closed, possibly asleep. She hadn't recorded any clips, either, as far as Gilly had noticed. Between her and Beanfield was Anders, the Weapons Officer. He had a shock of dark hair and light stubble and was probably the most handsome man Gilly had ever met. On the occasions Gilly hadn't been able to avoid seeing his own press, he was always struck by how out of place he looked, like a fan who'd won a contest to meet celebrities. Jackson, the war hero; Anders, the tortured dreamboat; Beanfield, the effortlessly charming social butterfly . . . and Gilly, a permanently startled-looking AI guy who couldn't find a good place to put his hands.

The door opened. A man in fatigues entered and clapped his hands. This was Len, their handler from Service: thirtyish and upbeat, carrying a little extra weight. "It's time. How's everybody feeling?"

"Like a painted whore," said Anders.

"That's perfect," said Len. "We're good to move, then, yes?"

"Yes," said Jackson, awake after all. She peeled off her bib and was at the door before the rest of them had managed to extract themselves from their makeup thrones. The silver-lipped woman stepped back and, for the first time in a while, looked into Gilly's eyes instead of around them.

"Good luck out there," she said.

The vanÕs windows were heavily tinted. But as they crossed the tarmac, Gilly caught sight of the shuttle gantry: a towering metal lattice that would launch them into the upper atmosphere. From there, they would rendezvous with the ship, which had recently finished its two-year construction in high orbit. They would then perform a monthlong burn, followed by a hard skip to join four other Providence-class battleships that were fighting an alien race farther away than anyone could imagine. Before any of that, though, was the part he was anxious about.

"Here's the rundown," said Len. "Your families will be seated to the right of the stage, all together. Feel free to give them a wave, blow them a kiss, whatever you like. You can do that at any point. But especially at the end, as you're leaving for the shuttle."

"I did my good-byes this morning," Gilly said.
There was a half second while Len tried to figure out whether he was joking. "Well, this is the one people see. So, you know, give them a wave."

"Yep, okay," he said.

"Like you mean it," said Len. "Like you're about to embark on a harrowing four-year mission to save the world and you might not see them again. You know what I mean?"

"Yes," Gilly said.

Len eyed him another moment, then turned to Anders. "Paul, there will be two empty seats beside your uncle."

Those would be for Anders's brothers, who had been lost in an earlier engagement of the war. There was a third brother who'd taken his own life, Gilly knew, as well as a father who had drunk himself to death. The only member of Anders's family to attend the launch was an uncle, who, when they'd been allowed to mingle this morning, had repeatedly squeezed Gilly's shoulder and entreated him to invest in his mattress store.

"The governor will deliver the opening address," said Len. "Six minutes. For this part, you just need to stand still and look attentive. We then have a two-minute spiritual but strictly nondenominational blessing, during which you may look down or skyward. Alternate between the two as your heart tells you. But please do not, repeat, not, make eye contact with families, wave at anyone, or give off the impression of being bored or distracted." He eyed Gilly. "Understood?"

"Got it."

"There are times when your bumbling obliviousness to protocol is seen as endearing," Len said. "I just want to make it clear: This would not be one of those times."

"I've got it," he said.

"I believe in you," Len said, and looked at Gilly a moment longer, which, Gilly felt, undermined the message. "After this, we get into the politicians and corporates." He rattled off a few names, only some of which Gilly recognized. He'd spent the last year being trained by Service but was still technically a civilian: an employee of Surplex, the company that had built the ship. Of the crew of four, he was the only one who didn't have a military background. He was also the youngest, at twenty-six, beating out Beanfield by six months.

"At one point, the admiral will refer to your husband," Len said to Jackson, who was gazing out the window at the gantry. She'd put on dark sunglasses, which made Gilly wonder how much she could see. The van's weak interior light carved lines into her face. Jackson had a decade over any of them, coming up on forty. "He may ask him to stand up, or may just call attention to him. Neither of you need to do anything. I just want you to know there will be this moment of acknowledgment."

"That's fine," said Jackson.

"Then the admiral will face you and say something like 'So are you up to the job?' And you'll say . . ." He pointed at Gilly.

"Well, our job is pretty simple," Gilly said. "When the ship detects salamanders, we attend station. Beanfield goes to Life, Anders to Weapons, Jackson to Command. I attend Intel, back where you can feel the engines. Then we pound everything in a thousand-mile radius into bite-size pieces."

"Rousing," Len said. "If, however, we want to sound a more upbeat note . . ."

Beanfield said, "We're going to spend every day working to repay the faith that nine billion people across two hundred countries have placed in us. If we're not up to it, we're sure going to try."

"Better. Maybe lose the part about two hundred countries."

"I always say that. Shouldn't I be inclusive?"

"As a rule, yes," said Len. "However, some of our international allies are yet to fully discharge their funding commitments for Providence Five, or, just between us, to begin discharging them at all, and the negotiations are ongoing. I'd like to steer clear of that whole area."

"Also there aren't two hundred countries," Gilly said. "I think it's one ninety-six."

Beanfield looked at him.

"I guess you were approximating," Gilly said.

"Also a fair point," said Len. "Let's not accidentally grant statehood to any unrecognized nations. Every flag on that stage has been carefully positioned so we can get an angle of the four of you with the Stars and Stripes behind and the ship visible above."

"Visible?" Gilly said. It was a popular idea that you could see the ships being built from Earth. But they were the tiniest of dots, little pinpricks distinguishable only at night.

"Sure," said Len, "after a few filters and adjustments."

"Oh," he said.

"And that's it," said Len. "Then it's a direct walk to the shuttle gantry and you don't have to worry about any of this bullshit anymore."

"There's always more bullshit," Anders said.

"That's true," Len said, "but this is the worst of it. Any questions?"

The van slowed and turned down a path marked by glowing orange cones. There was a rising white noise, which Gilly hoped was from the shuttle's engines but probably wasn't. Earlier today, during the family meet-and-greet, when tiny frilly nieces and nephews in dark suits were running around the legs of politicians and generals, one of his cousins had asked, Do you know how many people they say will be there? and Gilly had a rough idea, because the send-off crowds had been huge for every Providence launch, but before he could insist that he didn't want to know, the cousin had said, SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND. Gilly couldn't stop thinking about that. He might be able to pretend the broadcast audience didn't exist, but he was going to have trouble ignoring that many faces.

"Hey," Beanfield said, kicking his shin. "You'll be fine." She was smiling, and it did make him feel better, not just the smile, but the reminder that Beanfield made crew because she had preternatural people skills, to the point where she occasionally seemed to read his mind. They were all here because they were among the best in their fields. They'd been chosen by a sophisticated and demanding software-guided selection process. His presence wasn't an accident. He was where he was supposed to be.

The van stopped. The doors were pulled open. He stepped out into a light wind and a high sky and hundreds of people scurrying about in black caps and headsets. Between huge trucks were stacked crates and heavy equipment. A short distance away rose the back of the stage, fifty feet high and twice as long in either direction. Even so, he could see the crowd spilling around its edges, an indistinct mass like a single creature. The noise was like the rolling of an ocean.

"Flight crew have arrived at stage rear," said a woman in a black cap.

"How many people?" asked Beanfield.

"Latest estimate is eighty-five thousand," said Len. "We've had to open up the overflow areas."

"Oh, God," Gilly said.

"Don't sweat it. There'll be so many lights in your face, you won't be able to see a thing."

A drone buzzed over Len's shoulder and hung there, watching. Beanfield gave it a thumbs-up. Gilly turned away and peered skyward, trying to approximate the ship's location.

"Can you see it?" Beanfield said.

He shook his head. "Too bright."

"But it's there." She smiled.

The crowd gave a roar. Something must be happening onstage. A moment later, he heard a booming voice, echoing weirdly because all the speakers were facing the other way.

"All right," said Len. "This is where I leave you." He eyed them.

"Don't make it sappy," Anders said.

"I want you to know, you're the best troop of performing monkeys I've ever had," Len said. "In all seriousness, I've been nothing but impressed with the way you've carried yourselves through pre-launch. I know you didn't sign up for the media circus. It makes me very happy that we've reached the point where you can finally start doing your real jobs. I know you'll make every one of us you're leaving behind very proud."

"Don't make me cry," said Beanfield. "This makeup took hours."

"Jackson," said the woman in the cap, pointing where she wanted her to stand. "Then Beanfield. Anders. Gilligan."

"Gilly," he said. The announcer said something at the same time and the crowd roared and he didn't know if she heard him.

Len straightened into a salute. They returned it, even Gilly, who had never quite gotten the hang of it. The woman began to lead them toward the stage steps. When Gilly glanced back, Len was still holding the salute.

"There's one more step than you expect at the top," Len said. "Don't trip."

When it was over and he was strapped into a force-absorbing harness, his knees pointed skyward, blood draining toward the back of his head, he watched a wedge of blue sky turn black through thick polymer glass. The shuttle shook like an old carnival ride and roared like a waterfall but all of that was normal. It was actually comforting. He knew what to expect here.

"Look at Gilly," said Beanfield, her voice crackling through his earpiece. "He's more relaxed than he was onstage."

Anders laughed.

Jackson said, "Clearing the K‡rm‡n line. We're officially in space."

"This is the closest you'll be to home for four years," Gilly said. "And now this is. Now this is."

"This'll be a boring mission if you do that the whole time," said Anders. "How much longer to the ship?"

Gilly knew, but Jackson answered. "Three minutes until we reach synchronous orbit. Ten until we can pull alongside."

"Look," Beanfield said. "Stars."

"There have been stars for a while," Gilly said.

"But so many." She was right: The glass was full of them. It wasn't like home, where you gazed up at a sky scattered with a few bright pinpricks. Here was a city of endless lights. "And they don't twinkle."

"No atmosphere."

"Deceleration burn," Jackson said. "Brace yourselves."

The shuttle clunked and whined. An invisible hand curled around Gilly's body and pulled him forward. The harness creaked.

"Shit," said Anders suddenly.

"What?" said Jackson.

"I think I left my phone back there," he said. They laughed.

They established synchronous orbit ahead of the ship, so it was coming up behind them, drawing closer in a way they couldnÕt see. The shuttle had no artificial gravity; they would have to remain strapped in until they docked. Jackson called out distances until at last something white began to slide across the polymer glass, which Gilly recognized as a section of the ship dedicated to Materials Fabrication. Then came more, section after section, some stenciled with flags, some with designations. He knew the shipÕs design intimately but hadnÕt seen it firsthand since early in its construction, and felt surprise at its size. It was one thing to know it was three miles long and a touch over one million tons, another to see it.

Excerpted from Providence by Max Barry. Copyright © 2020 by Max Barry. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

About the Author:
website-FB-twitter
Max Barry is the author of six novels, including Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He is also the developer of the online nation simulation game NationStates. Prior to his writing career, Barry worked at the tech giant HP. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. To learn more, visit maxbarry.com or follow @MaxBarry on Twitter.


GIVEAWAY
The publisher is giving away a print copy of Providence (US only)

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Monday, March 30, 2020

Excerpt: Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus by Jonathan Fortin

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus
by Jonathan Fortin
March 27, 2020
343 pages
Publisher: Crystal Lake Publishing
England, 1876. Twenty-year-old Maraina Blackwood has always struggled to adhere to the restrictive standards of Victorian society, denying the courage and desire that burn within her soul. But after a terrifying supernatural encounter, Maraina's instincts compel her to action.

Maraina soon discovers a plot to unleash a new world—one of demonic aristocrats, bloody rituals, and nightmarish monsters. Putting her upbringing aside, Maraina vows to fight the dark forces assuming control of England. But as her world transforms, Maraina finds that she too must transform...and what she becomes will bring out all that she once buried.

Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus is the first chapter in an epic dark fantasy saga, proudly represented by Crystal Lake Publishing—Tales from the Darkest Depths. 



Excerpt from LILITU: THE MEMOIRS OF A SUCCUBUS
That night, I awoke to the sound of leathery wings. At first, I panicked, assuming that my room had been infested with bats. Then I noticed that my bedroom door had disappeared. So had the walls and the windows. There was only the bed, and the floor, and darkness.

I saw movement in the shadows beyond my bed. Something shifted around me, always in the corner of my eye, darting away whenever I turned to look. Slowly, I turned my head. For just a moment, I glimpsed a strong-jawed face, its eyes piercing into me with such intensity that I could not tell if it was out of rage or desire.

I awoke with a jolt. I was back in my room, in my bed—safe. But I did not feel relieved.

When I fell back asleep, the dream did not return.

I didn’t give the dream a great deal of thought the morning after. Unusually vivid though it had been, I had no reason to presume it had been anything other than my imagination. I’d had a strange experience with a creature on the road; it only made sense that I would have nightmares after.

So I went about my day as usual: reading, listening to Gladys gossip, and eating with my family.

But that night, the dream returned...and this time, it went further. After the familiar sound of fluttering wings, a lump formed in the sheets next to me. I felt paralyzed, unable to move, though I was not entirely sure I wanted to. I felt a tickle of pressure against the small of my back, as if something had brushed against it. I reached into the space behind me, searching for whatever might be there, until a hand clasped around mine. I felt the softest kiss against the back of my neck, and shivered in pleasure. At the same time, I was frightened by the delightful sensations. Was it sinful to enjoy this? Was this the same pleasure Amelia had succumbed to?

Blushing in shame, I pulled away—and then awoke as abruptly as before, breathing so hard I thought I was choking.

My dreams didn’t often repeat themselves, and this one was unusually disconcerting. Yet, for reasons I was too ashamed to admit, I found myself hoping the dream would return. I’d always hungered for affection—yearned to be held, kissed, and utterly loved, like the beautiful princesses I’d read about in stories. To briefly taste that pleasure, only to have it torn away, was more torturous than I could have imagined.

I felt like I’d been granted a drop of water after centuries of thirst—just enough to make me want more.

The dream returned on the third night as well. Just as before, the presence floated around me like a spectre, tentatively reaching out to touch me. This time, I let it.

I let those ghostly hands trace the curve of my hip, somehow beneath my nightgown, even though it had not been pulled up. I let them caress their way up to my breasts. I let them run through my hair, pulling it aside to reveal my neck.

The sensation was wonderful, but I still did not know whether I should allow myself to enjoy it. If a man I was not married to touched me this way in reality, it would be sinful. But did I have any reason to fear sin, if it only happened in a dream?

The presence returned the following night. And the night after that. And the night after that. Before long it had been over a week, and not a single night passed where I did not feel its touch. And each night, it explored further, touching more and more of my body.

I could no longer tell myself that it was a mere dream. Part of me knew that I was foolish to let it in, but another part was desperate to return to its arms each night. In truth, I feared these dreams would prove to be the closest thing I would ever have to a man’s affections, and I did not want them to stop. Strange and terrible things were happening in England, and in the waking world I had no one to turn to for support. But when I slept, the nightmares were there to comfort me. Their wrongness made them feel right. Their darkness made them a lantern for my lonely nights.

The dreams became all I thought about that month. Father continued to remind us about the upcoming concerto, Mother continued to brood, and Gladys avoided me whenever possible, but I scarcely noticed these things. All that mattered was returning to sleep.

I began leaving dinner early, so that I could go to bed sooner. Each night, as soon as there was a lull in my family’s discussion, I let out a feeble cough and asked if I could be excused.

“Again?” Mother asked one night.

“I’m afraid so,” I said. “I feel terribly ill.”

“But you seemed to be feeling so much better this morning. And the doctor found nothing wrong with you.”

“Perhaps this disease only occurs at night,” I said, keeping my voice soft so I would sound frail.

“I have never heard of such a thing in my life,” said Mother. “Have you, Benjamin?”

Father shook his head. “You’ve been leaving dinner early for weeks now, Maraina. How long do you think this will last?”

“I don’t know, Papa,” I said. “I only know that I require sleep. I apologize for distressing you.”

Trying to look as exhausted as I could, I went to my room, and changed into my nightgown without the help of a servant. Then I crawled into bed and waited impatiently for the fluttering sound.

I never moaned aloud, though sometimes my body yearned to do so. My back would arch, my muscles would tense, and my teeth would clench. I would ache for a release I did not yet understand. It was strange, how the slightest, subtlest touch could yield such a reaction.

The presence hadn’t broken my virtue, and I told myself that this made it acceptable. But each night, it went further, giving me more shameful pleasure than the night before. And I knew that someday, if I let it, it would corrupt me.

The most disturbing thing of all was, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to stop that from happening.

About the Author:
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Jonathan Fortin is an author and voice actor located in the San Francisco Bay Area.

He the author of Lilitu: The Memoirs of a Succubus, Requiem In Frost, and Nightmarescape. A lifelong lover of spooky Gothic stories, Jonathan was named the "Next Great Horror Writer" in 2017 by HorrorAddicts.net. He attended the Clarion Writing Program in 2012, one year after graduating summa cum laude from San Francisco State University's Creative Writing program.

For his voice-over work, Jonathan has studied at VoiceTrax in Sausalito.