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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Halloween Spooktacular: Hidden Gypsy Magic by Tena Stetler + giveaway


Hidden Gypsy Magic (A Witch’s Journey Series Book Three)
by Tena Stetler
September 28, 2020
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-5092-3256-7
ASIN: B08FXBNLW5
Number of pages: 330
Word Count: 85,144
Cover Artist: Kristian Norris
The consequences of awakening hidden gypsy magic could forever alter life as they know it!

The Salem Wildlife Sanctuary is Gwen Taylor's life work. Her Irish Gypsy heritage provides a hidden talent she uses to help the creatures under her care. But even her magical skills can't help new rescues in dire need of veterinary care.

The opportunity of signing on as the vet for Gwen's sanctuary dropped into Brock Scutter's lap after he expanded his practice to include wildlife. The personal attraction he and Gwen experience is undeniable the more their professional and personal lives collide.

Touring the only "non-haunted" house in Salem they both feel a spark of magic. A trip to his family's cabin uncovers a heritage he didn't know existed. If they want a future together, it means facing the consequences of awakening hidden Gypsy magic and a race against the clock to correct past wrongs.


"This house may not have a history of magic, but I'd bet it's magical. You're going to put an offer in. Right?"

"As I said before, it may be completely out of my price range."

"I have a feeling the house has been waiting for you." Gwen flung her hand to her mouth, her face flushed, and her gaze swiveled to him. "I don't know what made me say that."

Looking thoughtful, he grinned. "Since the day I stumbled upon Pepper's secret — then discovered that you and I share the gift or curse of gypsy blood, things have been different—" Pausing, he shoved his hand in his jean's pocket and jingled the change in his pocket. "I've been different. It's as if knowing magic exists awakened something in me."

"Join the club. Years ago my best friend Pepper made a believer out of me. In fact, there were times I wished—never mind. Whether it was my outlook or as you said magic awakened. But to be fair, I've always had what I called a sixth sense with animals, attuned to their feelings, almost their thoughts, fears, that kind of thing. Pepper called it my talent. But as we became close, I noticed other abilities… you'll think I'm crazy."

"Try me." He moved closer to her and the front door banged open. Quickly he rushed to the top of the stairs.


Since I'm a big animal person, I’ve compiled a few tips on Keeping your Pets Safe on Halloween.

It's almost time for another spooktacular sequel in the annual Halloween tradition. A holiday beloved in countries around the world, appealing to people looking for fun and thrills-- But for their pets...not so much! Halloween festivities can be stressful, to say the least, and downright hazardous at times. A few tips to keep everyone safe and enjoying the holiday!

1. Treats - Chocolate is poisonous to cats, dogs, and parrots. The darker it is the more toxic it is. One ounce of dark chocolate can poison a 50-pound dog. Keep these treats out of your pets' reach. Make sure everyone in your household understands, especially children, how crucial it is that no human treats are given to pets.

2. Alarming sounds and sights - The constant doorbell, ringing, unfamiliar guest and little monsters running around is a recipe for disaster for your pets. They could try to escape or display unexpected aggression. Keep your pet sequestered in a section of the home where they can avoid this anxiety-causing activities. Provide food, favorite toys and check on them often.

3. Don't leave pets outside! Pets have been known to be abused or killed on Halloween night by cruel people. I owned a black cat for twenty-two years, he was the best cat ever. But we made sure to keep him inside several days before Halloween and several days after. Yep he was no pleased!

4. Never take your dog trick or treating for all of the above reasons. Dogs can easily be spooked by all the Halloween hubbub. If they run away or bite someone it will end your evening of fun.

5. Dangerous Decorations - Electrical cords and batteries used to operate the exciting Halloween decorations can be hazardous to your pets. Chewing on cords can cause electrocution, chewing on batteries can cause chemical burns, if swallowed can cause intestinal blockage. Artificial cobwebs look cool as heck, but they can also present a choking or entanglement hazard to curious pets. Nightmarish Pet Costumes - Most pets are happiest in the skin they were born in. LOL Yet pet owners will dress their fur, scaled, or feathered babies up for Halloween. Don't put your pet in a costume unless they are completely comfortable with it. I admit I dress up my dog and parrot for Halloween. I choose costumes they're comfortable in, do not hinder movement, sight, hearing or ability to breathe, bark, scream, or meow.

6. Eerie Glow Items - Glow necklaces and Glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween, but pets not so much. They can cause gastrointestinal distress and chewed fragments can pose a choking hazard.

7. One last thought - Opening the door repeatedly for trick-or-treaters creates the possibility of pets slipping outside. Collars and tags work if someone locates and collects your wayward pet. Make sure the information on the tags is up-to-date. Microchips offer permanent identification. Just make sure your information is correct with the company who supports your pet microchips.


About the Author:  
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Authors’ Secret’s
My Say What Blog
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Tena Stetler is a best-selling author of award-winning paranormal romance with an over-active imagination. She wrote her first vampire romance as a tween, to the chagrin of her mother and the delight of her friends. Colorado is home; shared with her husband, a brilliant Chow Chow, a spoiled parrot and a forty-five-year-old box turtle. When she’s not writing, her time is spent kayaking, camping, hiking, biking or just relaxing in the great Colorado outdoors.

Her books tell tales of magical kick-ass women and mystical alpha males that dare to love them. Travel, adventure and a bit of mystery flourish in her books along with a few companion animals to round out the tales

Spooktacular Giveaway
$10 Amazon Gift Card

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Halloween Spooktacular: Weep, Woman, Weep by Maria DeBlassie + giveaway

Weep, Woman, Weep (A Gothic Fairytale about Ancestral Hauntings)
by Maria DeBlassie
August 25, 2021
Genre: Gothic Fairytale, Occult, Supernatural
ISBN:978-0-578-97464-4
ASIN:B09CV9P9SH
Number of pages:150 pages
Word Count: 37,935
Cover Artist: Rachel Ross
Nothing makes a woman brave except getting on with the business of daily life.

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

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

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

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

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

CW: assault, domestic violence, racism, colorism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Witch's Brew Cocktail

It’s been a while since I’ve concocted a cocktail recipe, and even longer since I’ve come up with one for Halloween. I love a good cocktail because they’ve always struck me as one of the most basic kind of potions. Think about it: a good cocktail can give us liquid courage, exorcise a hard work week, or even act as a temporary love spell. And as will all potions and spells, the medicine is in the dosage. Too much and it’s poison, too little and your Friday night is perhaps a little less adventurous (wink wink).

It bears repeating that I like to avoid syrupy or excessively sugary ingredients and stick to clean tastes modeled after the classics when it comes to cocktail making. I do this because most novelty cocktail—a la Halloween drinks—are sugar bombs. Not my idea of a good time or a tasty drink. Although I call these Halloween-inspired concoctions, I have been known to drink them throughout the year, especially the green fairy, a tasty absinthe-kissed cocktail perfect for ending the workweek and stirring up some writing inspiration for the weekend.

Lately, come Saturday night, I’ve been experimenting with this new drink: Witch’s Brew. It was inspired by my garden and all the herbs I cultivate there: rosemary, lavender, sage…all delicious, all medicinal, all typically associated with healers and witches because of their various magical and healing properties. I started wondering how I could fold those flavors into a tasty magical brew.

I used gin as the base because of herbaceousness and went for a bold choice of mixer: chartreuse. It’s what gives this drink the verdant green color we typically associate with potions. It’s also an ancient healing tincture made from over 130 herbs. It tastes fresh, like mint and fennel, with the other herbs as a strong supporting cast. Yum! I paired this refreshing taste with lime because I love a good gimlet and its variants.

The real kicker to this is what I do with the gin. I infuse it with green apples—who doesn’t think of witches without thinking of forbidden fruit?—along with rosemary and a few juniper berries to make the graciousness of the gin really pop. Also because I love rosemary, the natural protector of the herb world. Juniper berries are also fast becoming a kitchen witch staple in my home. Did you know juniper both protects good energy and repels the negative? If that’s not magical, I don’t know what is! Add a dash of bay leaf bitters, for the leaf’s powers of divination.

As with all spells (and drinks), feel free to play with the recipe. Chartreuse might be a bit pricy for some (though a little goes a long way so it will last a while!), try swapping it out with rosemary or ginger simple syrup or apple schnapps (or both!)—it will change the flavor, but will no doubt be equally festive, if with more sugar. The infused gin makes about two cups of yum—plenty to experiment with or to whip up a magical batch of this brew.

All good spells require a little time, a little love, and quality ingredients. While this cocktail is a touch more labor-intensive than my others in that you first need a week to infuse the gin, it’s worth it. Plus, while you wait, you can prepare the right kind of energy you want to infuse into this brew. Do you need a little more magic in your life? A little more mischief? A dash of hope or a heading dose of healing? Whatever you need, let it brew until you’re ready to infuse it into a batch of this tasty elixir.

Ingredients:

For infused gin:
2 cups gin
1 Granny Smith apple
2-4 juniper berries (depending on how strong you want the juniper flavor to be)
1 large spring of rosemary

For cocktail:
2 oz apple and herb-infused gin
2 dashes bay leaf bitters
.75 oz chartreuse
.5 to .75 oz freshly squeezed lime juice (depending on how tart you like it)

In infuse gin, slice green apple and place in clean mason jar. Squeeze juniper berries so they crack a little—this will help the alcohol absorb their flavor more—and place in jar. Pour gin over ingredients and let sit for a week, shaking when you remember to. A day or two before you want to enjoy your cocktail, throw in a sprig of rosemary that has been slightly bruised, again, to help the alcohol better absorb its flavor. I wait a little on the rosemary because the fresh stuff takes less time to be extracted in alcohol and letting it sit too long in the gin muddies the flavor. To use, pour gin through strainer into a clean mason jar.

For cocktail, mix gin, chartreuse, lime juice, and dash of bitters in a shaker. Add ice and shake until container is frosty. Serves one—so double or triple the batch and invite your coven over. Pair with a chilly autumn night, a full moon, and a handful of spells. Cauldron optional.

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

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

Find out more about Maria and conjuring everyday magic at https://mariadeblassie.com/

Tweet:
A compelling gothic fairytale by bruja and award-winning writer Maria DeBlassie.
Weep, Woman, Weep: A Gothic Fairytale about Ancestral Hauntings
by Maria DeBlassie https://amzn.to/3DwPBnh #Bruja #Hauntings #LaLlorona #OwnVoices #Gothic #Fairytale #Folklore

Spooktacular Giveaway
1 ebook copy of Weep, Woman, Weep: A Gothic Fairytale about Ancestral Hauntings by Maria DeBlassie

a Rafflecopter giveaway
>

Book Review: The Assassin’s Legacy (Minte and Magic Adventure, #2) by D. Lieber

The Assassin’s Legacy (Minte and Magic Adventure, #2) 
CAN BE STANDALONE
by D. Lieber
October 12, 2021
Genre: Modern Steampunk/ Urban Fantasy
He hasn’t been Aleksandr Sergeyevich Volonov, legendary monster-hunting assassin for ten years. Now, he is only Sasha, charming deckhand on a merchant airship so recently destroyed by pirates.

All he wants is to find another job and keep moving. But that simple plan is thwarted when his sister sends an assassin to murder him. His only choice is to return to Saint Petersburg and renounce his claim to his family’s title.

Trapped by his late father’s machinations, Sasha finds himself surrounded by death threats, engaged to a brutal villainess, shadowed by his cheeky assassin, and forced to lead the organization bent on eliminating all supernatural creatures from the Russian Empire.

As he struggles to keep hold on the man he is, Sasha must face who he used to be in this modern steampunk fantasy adventure full of folklore, banter, and artifice.

“Wonderful characters and gorgeous settings!…With secrets and just the right amount of sizzle, Lieber’s latest steampunk fantasy has something for everyone.”

—M.K. Wiseman, author of Sherlock Holmes & the Ripper of Whitechapel

“The Assassin’s Legacy…incorporated adventure, action, magic, and elements of romance to make a gripping novel. I held my breath for the most part. Betrayal, the ambitious nature of humans, family politics, and the quest for power were on full display.”
Readers’ Favorite®

I love all things steampunk but this book barely had any steampunk elements to it--unless you count the airship that the heroine travels on for a while. Aside from that, I barely connected with any of the characters and the fact that Ember seemed to want to sleep with every male character was weird too. When we meet the male lead, he's scrawny and comes off more as a kid Ember takes under her wing than anything else. So, when she falls for him, it made for more weirdness. Other things struck me as odd too. For instance, Ember's dad was the king and didn't have any issues with human-fae intermingling. Yet his second wife actively persecutes and exiles whole swathes of his people and he doesn't find out? I mean, how?

In short, this book wasn't a good fit for me.

Reviewer: Midu Reads
Most of my go-to series are 3 starrers
*No rating - wasn't my genre/dnf'd so rating it would be unfair
1 sheep - won't be picking up another book in a series again
2 sheep - average read with overused tropes and cliches. Will give the author another try/only continuing because of OCD, so must finish a series
2.5 sheep - liked the book but was put off because it was overly long/illtreatment of a character the author had me invest in and so on.
3 sheep - enjoyed the book but have reservations because I expected to be wowed and wasn't
4 sheep - was unputdownable
5 sheep - formed an emotional connection, will read the heck outta this series

About the Author:
website-Goodreads-Bookbub
Lieber has a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Haunted Halloween Spooktacular: A Demon's Embrace by Celia Breslin + giveaway


A Demon's Embrace (Cupid Dating Agency Book Four)
by Celia Breslin
December 2020
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Celia Breslin
ISBN: 9781393692881
ASIN: B08Q8JRLWN
Number of pages: 124
Word Count: 30K
Cover Artist: Brantwijn Serrah
She believes him the enemy. He's determined to prove her wrong.

Former relic-hunter and soldier for Hell, Stryker spends his days of redemption running a holiday store in a cheery little town in the California wine country. He’s not complaining. The gig puts him across the street from his one and only heart’s desire—a blue-eyed angel with a clever brain, a hot bod, and the wickedest right hook this side of Heaven. Too bad his delectable Angel Cake won’t give him the time of day.

Warrior-class angel and restaurateur, Zara keeps busy designing interesting foods and beverages for the eateries and gym she owns with her celestial teammates. She certainly has zero time or interest in the annoyingly sexy, darkly bronzed demon who drove her bonkers for eons while working for the other side.

But then a freak storm complete with hell beasties rampages their hometown, and God and the cupids order the pair to team up to investigate. Frustrating news for Zara. Fantastic for Stryker. His new mission? Show his feisty angel their partnership is meant to extend far beyond this one job for Heaven...


Happy Halloween Month, Everyone! For Halloween every year, I like to share my favorite spooky story from my family’s arsenal of tales about the Fae. In this one, my Irish grandmother recounts her personal encounter with a Banshee when she was a teenager. Enjoy!

Bumped by the Banshee
by Celia Breslin
… I lived in a large two-story house with my parents, younger sister, and grandmother. It was a cold, winter evening, nothing special or out of the ordinary. My family dined together, then my sister and I cleaned up while our parents and grandmother drank tea. We joined them at the dining table to do our homework, but my grandmother said she was tired and went upstairs to bed. My parents followed shortly after that, but my father paused on the landing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I heard the Banshee wail.”

We stared at each other in silence, all of us reaching the same conclusion moments later. We hurried to my grandmother’s room.

She was dead.

(Copyright 2021, Celia Breslin. All rights reserved.)


About the Author
Website-FB-Twitter
Blog-Goodreads 
Pinterest-Instagram
NewsletterCelia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for werewolves, vampires, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find Celia exercising, reading a good book, hanging with her family, or indulging her addiction to fantasy TV shows and movies.

Tweet:
Angel Cake believes him the enemy. Stryker will prove her wrong. A Demon’s Embrace https://celiabreslin.com/works/cupid-dating-agency-series / #amreading #PNR #UF #ParanormalRomance #AngelRomance #FantasyRomance #SexyStories #TBR #ReadingList

Spooktacular Tour Giveaway
$20 Amazon US e-gift card

Monday, October 11, 2021

WIP It Real Good: Fantasy Author Merrie Destefano + 3 giveaways

First, thank you very much for inviting me to write a guest post today! I really appreciate it! Your readers might not remember, but you guys at I Smell Sheep have been incredibly kind to me, right from the beginning of my career when you featured my book Afterlife.

Sharon: I remember you! You have beautiful writing! I adored Afterlife. Katie reviewed it HERE. And I reviewed Feast HERE

Also, I want to mention that I have two giveaways for your blog readers! First, for anyone who comments on this post, I’ll give them a free novella, A Place Of Dreams. This is a prequel to my newest release, A Place Of Magic. And second, I’ll give away a $20 Amazon gift card to one of the commenters on this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Now about my next book…

I’m currently working on an epic fantasy titled Raven Heart. I’m hoping to release it sometime in 2022. The story takes place after a Mage War, when humans lose a battle to the magical creatures of the realm. Now dark magic is everywhere and all creatures bow to a merciless Goblin King. Briar, a fifteen-year-old girl, sets off on a quest to find her older sister, who disappeared. Briar’s only companion on the journey is Kieran, a strong, handsome boy that she hates.

Excerpt from Raven Heart
By Merrie Destefano
The sun moved through the trees, as if it needed to watch me, it changed shadows and light, it burned on my back as if urging me to hurry, hurry, quick—

I stood before the mirror, using my father’s sword to cut my hair, long black locks falling in swirls at my feet. The blade proved its worth, still sharp enough to slice skin, for I accidentally cut myself twice and now drops of blood merrily kissed the floor. If I’d been trained by a Druid—which was impossible, since I was a girl and we were too poor for me to become anyone’s apprentice—I might have been able to read the signs written at my feet.

I decided that I didn’t care.

Signs were not going to determine my destiny.

They would merely guide my feet and lead me to Willow. I’d save her and together we’d run far away, to a place where magic couldn’t find us.

Far from the Raven King.

And our family.

The last chunk of black hair fell to its rightful place, on the ground.

Now my hair was short, a fringe brushing my brow. I could pass as a boy.

A tall, slender boy. With a warrior’s sword and a stony heart.

I wondered about my mouth though. That bee-stung swollen bottom lip. Not many boys had a mouth like this. Perhaps I could wear my collar turned up, like my brothers did when they worked in the fields, to keep dirt out of their mouth and nose—

That was when I sensed a presence. A shadow stood in the doorway, someone staring in at me. I’d forgotten to close and latch the front door.

Could he take me this easily?

With me leaving a door open.

Could the Raven King cross the threshold uninvited and steal me away?

by Merrie Destefano
October 12, 2021
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy
Publisher: Ruby Slipper Press
ASIN: B09FNSVKZJ
Number of pages:320
Word Count: 73,000
Cover Artist: Elona Bezooshko,
Psycat Digital Ink & Motion
Halloween is the wrong time to visit Ticonderoga Falls.
Dangerous monsters hunt in the nearby woods.

The Prey...

Maddie MacFaddin.
For her, the nearby forest holds many memories, some joyous, some forgotten. But she has no recollection of Ash, the dark, magnificent creature who saved her life as a child, or that his kind preys upon humanity.

The Monster...

Ash, a Darkling fae.
Trapped in Ticonderoga Falls for a century, he’s required to host a Hunt once a year. Then, hungry, shapeshifting faeries will descend upon the villagers and harvest their dreams.

The Hunt...

There are rules about harvesting humans; the poor creatures are so delicate. If you take too much, they’ll die. Without dreams, they perish. And perish they do—now and then—despite Ash's efforts to keep them safe. Then he realizes Maddie is the prey his unwanted guests are after. But, try as he might, this time he’s not strong enough to protect her. The entire village is in danger.

Soon the Hunt will begin. And no one will be safe.

She knew there were things that lived in the dark, things that could never be fully understood. Things that wanted to lure you away from everything safe. Just like in the story of Hansel and Gretel, you could be surrounded by a dangerous wildwood, while a bear trap with rusty hinges waited for you to step off the safe and narrow path.
Excerpt:
He nodded, head lowered. Then he lifted his gaze until he was staring into her eyes. One hand rested on her shoulder. “I won’t tell anyone your secret, Elspeth. You’re safe with me.”

Then he leaned closer, his scent overwhelming, his thoughts like the wind through the leaves, a wild rushing, his skin like the embrace of the forest. His lips touched hers and she could hear his heart beating. She slid her arms around his waist, leaning into the kiss, suddenly wanting more. She wanted to cast an enchantment, to lead him into sleep, to harvest his dreams. Wanted to walk into a dream with him, to see the hidden world on the other side of his eyelids. Wanted to know everything about him.

The kiss had only just begun and already she wanted another.

His arms were around her then, and the winter chill disappeared. In its place, fire crackled through her limbs, from her fingertips to her feet.

She could see it then, the world inside him. Tender and gentle as a spring morning, the shadows of night lingering at the edge of the wood, a handful of stars scattered across a pale sky.

She never knew that humans could be filled with so much magic.


It was her first Hunt and she had chosen her prey wisely.

About the Author:

Bookbub-Audiobooks
 Multiple-award-winning author Merrie Destefano writes lyrical tales of magic, mystery, and hope. Her traditional books have been published by HarperCollins, Entangled Teen, and Walter Foster, while her indie imprint is Ruby Slippers Press. Her novels have won awards in both the science fiction and fantasy categories.

She worked for Focus on the Family, The Word For Today, Engaged Media, and PJS Publications, and her magazine experience includes editor of Victorian Homes magazine, Zombies magazine, Haunted: Mysteries And Legends magazine, American Farmhouse Style magazine, Vintage Gardens magazine and founding editor of Cottages and Bungalows magazine. Her co-authored art books include How To Draw Vampires, How To Draw Zombies, and How to Draw Grimm’s Dark Fairy Tales. Her edited books include The Man God Uses by Chuck Smith, Oil Pastel Step-By-Step by Nathan Rohlander, and The Art of Drawing Fantasy Characters by Jacob Glaser.

Born in the Midwest, Merrie now lives in Southern California, where she runs on caffeine, and shares her home with rescue dogs and cats. And although she dearly loves science fiction, in her heart of hearts, she still doesn’t believe airplanes should be able to fly.

Tweet:
Dangerous fae live in the woods and their hunger can’t be denied. But Maddie has an unquenchable hunger of her own. https://amzn.to/39kW8DZ
#MerrieDestefano #NewRelease #APlaceOfMagic

TWO I SMELL SHEEP EXCLUSIVE GIVEAWAYS!
I have two giveaways for your blog readers! 
First, for anyone who comments on this post, I’ll give them a free novella, A Place Of Dreams. This is a prequel to my newest release, A Place Of Magic. 
And second, I’ll give away a $20 Amazon gift card to one of the commenters on this post. Thanks for stopping by!

Tour Giveaway
1 Signed print copy of A Place Of Magic
1 Custom tote bag
1 Amazon gift card for $25

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Sunday, October 10, 2021

Excerpt: The Queen’s Keeper J.L. Vampa + giveaway

"Prey, you should have been ready."

Welcome to the highly anticipated tour for dark fairytale, The Queen's Keeper by J.L. Vampa!
Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to enter an incredible giveaway!

The Queen’s Keeper
J.L. Vampa
October 12th, 2021

Genre: Dark Fairy Tale/ Fantasy
What if I told you that everything you knew about your life was a lie and that you’re being hunted?
What if I told you that you were prey?
This is the reality for Luvenia Rousseau. Amidst the struggle to survive in a famished, war-torn country and the fight against the phantoms of her past, her family is brutally ripped apart by a tyrant queen’s venomous army. Just when all hope seems lost, she stumbles upon an enchanted realm while the queen hunts for the one who got away.

A page-turning debut novel among the likes of Hunger Games, Snow White, and Throne of Glass, this dark fairy tale adaptation will have you on the edge of your seat.


Excerpt
The Queen of Aureland strode into her castle’s training hall like an ancient warrior comprised of bone crushing strength and the breathless wonder of snow-capped mountain air. Rarely did she wear riding pants and a tunic—for she believed one’s attire should reflect one’s character and she was a leader of others into excellence and virtue—but today her leading required a different sort of approach and a gown would not do. Granted, her tunic glistened with fine jewels—there was no need to look like a peasant. Her protégé thought she’d seen fierce opponents in her training, but she hadn’t seen Nuria. The queen’s most guarded secret may be of an entirely different nature, but her hundred years of honed battle skills came in at a close second.

“Hello, Luvenia,” she said to get the girl’s attention, her voice silken. “No need to look so shocked, darling. I will be conducting your training this fine morning. Darius needed to sleep. Though achieving his agreement on that fact was a battle in and of itself.” She rolled her eyes and smoothed her bejeweled tunic, then clapped both hands together. “Right, then, let us get to it. You are weakest in hand-to-hand combat, yes?” Veni nodded mutely, feeling as though she were about to discover the queen’s beauty and gentle spirit had merely been the adorned scabbard sheathing a powerful blade. “Very well.” The queen eyed the girl. “I will not hold back. Your training will not be complete until you are capable of disarming and defeating me. That will not happen today. There is no need for unrealistic expectations. Though you, my dear, will beat me one day. Recognize your potential without masking it in obscured reality.”

Veni’s mind spun. She’s going to run me into the ground, physically and mentally. “Use your words, dear. Are you prepared or not?” Veni smirked and sighed a breathy laugh. “Ready as I’ll ever be, I suppose.” Nuria’s beauty turned lethal as she lunged for the wide-eyed girl. Before Veni could even get her hands up to defend herself, the queen nicked her chin with her bare knuckles, enough to stun her. In an instant, she had Veni’s own arm twisted behind her and forced her to her knees. The queen released her captive and Veni stood as her vision swam a bit from the blow to her chin. Nuria wiped the blood from her split knuckle on her pants. “My Hordemen go easy on you and spar with you.” She shook her head. “You have had enough of that. Sparring is unrealistic and you have grown used to how it works.” The queen put a finger to her temple. “Your mind is quick, dear heart, but wits alone will not win a battle. A sparring session, perhaps, but not a battle. Darius has taught you well how to predict your opponent’s next move, this is wise. However, most of the people you come across in a fight will not be calculated. They will be ruthless. There is a fine line between noble ferocity and ruthless ferocity. The truth of it is you will need to dance on the edge of that line in order to get your sister back. We will help you stay on the noble side, but you must embrace the ferocity. You can spar and train all day long, learning all the perfect maneuvers and defenses, but until you can take a true blow and get back up, you are not learning what you will need to succeed in bringing Ester home. Do you understand?

” Veni’s jaw stung, and her heart pounded, but she knew Nuria was right. It was time to cease pretending that she was learning to fight and to truly take hold of it. “Yes,” she told the queen. “Again. Let’s go.” Fast as lightning, Nuria came at her with no mercy over and over. The girl’s blood was splattered on the queen’s sparkling tunic and Nuria’s knuckles continued to bleed. Veni forgot everything she’d learned in routine sparring sessions and had little success discerning Nuria’s next move. That is, for the first half of their session. Once she’d taken several hits and tasted self-preservation as well as a sense of wildness, her training came back to her in a new way. She ended up on her back or rear or face countless times, but it would only take one hit. Luvenia had to hit that beautiful queen one time and she would be satisfied for the day.

“Are you certain you would like to continue? Your eye is beginning to swell.” Nuria watched her protégé struggle to stand, yet again. “I’m sure,” she said through gritted teeth. “Again.” Her eye was indeed swelling shut and her mouth was thick with blood and saliva, but she was going to hit that perfect face. Just once.

About the Author

Website-Instagram-TwitterJ.L. was born and raised in the great state of Texas. After attending college in Oklahoma, J.L. became a bookkeeper and office manager. She swiftly discovered she was to be a Keeper of Books and a Manager of Fantastical Worlds, instead. Thus began the unfolding of her literary journey,

J.L. now lives with her husband and two children, penning her next masterpiece for you to enjoy, while running her own bookish shop, Wicked Whimsy Boutique.

Twitter Tags: 
@VampaJl @RRBookTours1 #RRBookTours #Books #FantasyBooks

Giveaway:
A paperback edition of the prequel to The Queen's Keeper, Gypsy Secrets, AND a $50 gift card (US) to spend at Wicked Whimsy! (US/ Canada only)
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Book Tour Organized By:

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Fall Into Fantasy: 2021 Edition: Mixed Fantasy Anthology + giveaway

Fall Into Fantasy: 2021 Edition
Genre: Mixed Fantasy Anthology
September 21, 2021
with stories by
Shane Porteous, Barend Nieuwstraten III, Alex Minns, Andrew P. McGregor, Joanne Blondin,

James Pyles, Anstice Brown, J.C. Pillard, Linda M. Crate, Matthew McKiernan,

Jabe Stafford, Clarissa Gosling, R.A. Clarke, R.A. Meenan, Marsheila Rockwell

Fall Into Fantasy returns with 15 tales spanning the breadth of fantasy. From captive dragons to a magical war, Demons and circus performers, fairies and ghosts, dwarves and genies, even a typical day in the life of an earthworm. Don’t miss a single entertaining, exciting tale.

Presenting:
Shane Porteous “Gathering Genocide”
Barend Nieuwstraten III “Hearthshare”
Alex Minns “The Concealed Witness”
Andrew P. McGregor “Demon Dave: Dinner Time”
Joanne Blondin “Astounding Performances”
James Pyles “Theo Klaggorn, Private Detective”
Anstice Brown “Beneath The Roots”
J. C. Pillard “Three Drops In The Snow”
Linda M. Crate “Flight Of The Fae”
Matthew McKiernan “The Each-Uisge”
Jabe Stafford “Dead Next Door”
Clarissa Gosling “The Genie Of The Ring”
R. A. Clarke “The Brightening”
R. A. Meenan “Some Things Remain”
Marsheila Rockwell “Play It Again, Sem”

Can't get enough Fantasy? Check out the other Fall Into Fantasy sets!

Fall Into Fantasy: 2020 Edition

Fall Into Fantasy: 2019 Edition

Fall Into Fantasy: 2018 Edition

Fall Into Fantasy: 2017 Edition
Goodreads-Amazon

Giveaway
$10 Amazon card – 1 winner!
ebook copy of Fall Into Fantasy: 2021 Edition – 2 winners!
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, October 8, 2021

YA Urban Fantasy Author LM Preston: Dreaming Big (and how I do it) + giveaway

Dreaming big is something we do most when we are children. Yet, when we hit the teenaged years, our dreams have gotten so beat up that we start to ‘Dream Safe’ or not at all.


For me, growing up in the inner city with teenaged parents, I was counted out before I even started. In order to persevere, I had to have a spirit for survival in order to catapult me to the person I am today. Most people, who meet me would never grasp the struggles I had growing up. Truly, I didn’t grasp them because I always saw the glass as half full, yet it could get empty if I didn’t hustle to make something happen.

Dreaming big, is taking your dreams, and mapping them into reality then talking yourself out of moments of depression to push through no matter what. No matter how many times people tell you that you can’t, you smile then say ‘I will’ and make up another roadway to your success. I write this into my characters, they don’t give up, even when they stumble.

Here are my steps for Dreaming Big:

KNOW THY SELF
Dreaming big starts with taking time to get to know the person you are turning into, and the person you want to become.

I loved myself at an early age, and knew myself relatively well. Part of the reason why was because I imagined myself as what I wanted to be. I would create versions of myself in my mind’s eye when I was a kid. I believed that I would be a warrior that killed dragons while I rode in on my unicorn. I even wrote little stories about my imaginary adventures.

When I look closely at my created worlds when I was young, I realized that I created a place in my imagination where I could win. In that world, I never took ‘no’ for an answer. In that world I had revealed a lot about myself.

DREAM, YOU CAN DO IT…DREAM OF WHAT YOU WANT TO BE
First of all, you have to DREAM it in order to ACHIEVE it. That was a motto I learned at a summer camp, and it stuck.

As I got older, and started to listen to the many people in my life that told me that I couldn’t do this or that, I staggered in my dreaming. I started to dream small careful and easily attainable dreams. I didn’t allow myself to wish for something beyond what I could see.

Don’t ever do that! You don’t want anyone else to have control over your dreams or aspirations. You own them, and you can make them happen.

PLAN IT! RE-PLAN IT!
All dreams can come true. However, you want to think about how you can do it. You have to have a plan A, B and C. If none of those work, figure out another way.

REJECTION WON’T STOP YOU!
Never let a ‘NO!’ stop you. Turn that ‘no’ into your own ‘YES!’

Brush it off and move onto plan B. If plan b, c, d, e, f is not working then you need to take a step back and re-evaluate if you are ready to pursue the next plan.

As a writer, our first draft is not complete. I have had to revise, edit, and rewrite my books up to ten times. In the end, it was a better, cleaner, shined up piece of work.

After I received over fifty rejections on one manuscript, revised and edited my work, then I finally reached my Big Dream.

BE WILLING TO REDIRECT
Sometimes you set forth on a dream and find that you are no longer willing to pay the price for that dream.

Redirect – Take what you have learned from that dream and build your next dream.

Unlike most writers, I never dreamed of becoming a writer. I just wrote because I loved it. Some friends told me that I mentioned to them that I wanted to become a writer, but I truly didn’t remember that dream. My original dream was to be a CFO (Chief Financial Officer). I know that’s not exciting, but I really wanted to do that. Okay, to be honest my first dream was to be a teacher, and then it was CFO.

Well like most people, I had unrealized talents. I went to college and become a Financial Analyst. I hated it. I worked as a Financial Analyst for one year, and then I went back to school for my Masters in Information Technology. I loved working in the Information Technology field, and took to it like a fish in water. My recreational writing came to a standstill and I started writing technical documentation and designing large computer systems.

After sixteen years in IT, I decided to apply for a job teaching at the University. I loved teaching. It allowed me to create all of these really cool science fiction type devices for my students to design.

While working as an Engineer, I ran across a published author who I revealed that I wanted to write a book but I didn’t have the time. He encouraged me to write a page a day. After our conversation, I put that thought away and did not start writing. Later that same year, my husband suggested that I should write a book, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.

I’ve had many Big Dreams, and some of them I have reached, others I have not. The pleasure of pursuing those dreams, and the lessons I’ve learned in doing so has given me a fulfilled life. I don’t ever have to look back over my life and say “I wish I would have tried to do that.”

You only ever get one life, so don’t be afraid to Dream Big and pursue your dream.

My character, Rei, in Rebel of Fire is a dreamer. Jump into hers by reading Rebel of Fire, by LM Preston Rebel of Fire (The Vigilant Book 3)

by LM Preston
October 8, 2021
Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Phenomenal One Press
Who knew that taking a job at a High School Newspaper would weave Rei into an underground news operation? She’d stupidly sacrificed her family and was blackmailed into becoming a member of a Vigilant operation to save the unsuspecting human population in what most thought was Newport, RI. Rei was no longer living in ignorance, but knowledge came with a price. Love wasn’t an emotion she could give into when the ransom of her family’s life was at stake. Asher was sent to help her, but she felt he was sent to ensure she paid the debt owed in order to save her family. Rei didn’t relish being held hostage by Megan and her puppets or being thrust into interfering with a war instigated by magical beings, and their fight to control humanity. Rei had no idea how she could create a diversion that would save her, destroy an unimaginable evil, and teach her to love – again. Read other books in the Vigilant series: Insatiable Darkness, Caged Fire, Unbreakable Darkness, Scepter of Fire, Break the Darkness.


Chapter 1
Rei smelled blood. The metallic taste was in her mouth, enveloping her senses. Sirens blared, but the throbbing in her head hurt so bad she didn’t have the will to wake up fully. She had to open her eyes. The accident. Her last thought before being suffocated by the chilled waters beneath the bridge where they’d crashed was that her sister, EmVee was thrown from the van. Her brother hit his head. Dexter was drowning. Her mom and her twin brother, Reece… what happened to them? It was her fault. She had to save them, get them away from here. She struggled and jerked, feeling like she was fighting to get out of the suffocating waters of the lake.

“Ah!” She fought the pain that coursed through her entire body and pushed herself up. Rei’s trembling hands braced her on the hard cot in what appeared to be the inside of an ambulance. Rei willed her body to move.

She tried to open her eyes. One was bandaged closed, but the other was slightly crusted but opened. Rei’s vision cleared. She raised a hand to the gauze covering her head. Everything on her hurt, but suddenly, an energy she couldn’t explain rushed through her in waves, dulling the pain, giving her focus.

“They are on us!” a gruff curse came from a medic near the light from a window. The ambulance sharply whipped from side to side.

Rei slid off the hard bed, and her knees buckled when she hit the floor. “God! Ah.”

She willed herself to stand and pushed her back up against the wall, wincing at the burn in her side and on her head.

The crouching medic held on to a looped strap in the corner of the ambulance van. The medic pointed a gun through the broken glass window of the back-double doors. Several pops sounded, and the doors flew open. Someone was shooting at them? At an ambulance? Why? Rei crawled backward, grimacing at the pain.

“I can’t die today.” Rei searched for a weapon, anything she could use. The bed slammed to the opposite side of the ambulance then surged at her. Rei dropped to the floor, barely in time to keep her head attached to her neck.

The medic yelled a name, maybe the driver’s – Rei didn’t know. The medic fired at what sounded like a motorcycle gang outside. She could hear the revved-up engines in succession.

A huge explosion from a building or something shook the vehicle. It caught the wind from the blast and reeled forward. Rei’s petite form was jerked against the small cabinet of supplies then fell backward, striking her throbbing head against the metal back wall of the ambulance. The motorcycle riders didn’t relent though.

The medic shot several rounds from the gun he thrust forward. The back door flung open then closed then open again. The shots didn’t stop them. The dark smoke from the motorcycles kicked up. They swerved from one side to another behind the speeding ambulance as if setting up for another attack. A blue, glowing whip snapped through the opened door and wrapped around the medic. He fought against the weapon around his neck and braced himself by a foot against the wall within the cab of the ambulance. His fingers wrestled with it as it tightened.

Rei could have sworn his hands turned to claws as he tried to rip the glowing blue whip’s tail from his neck. The medic roared. His teeth even appeared to grow into sharp points that protruded from his mouth. Rei gulped back the putrid taste of vomit as she held tightly to a small hook in the middle of the wall. She must be hallucinating.

“Grrrr.” The medic released an inhuman sound before the whip yanked him out of the cab of the ambulance.

She had to be dreaming. Rei felt nauseous. This couldn’t be real – could it? What kind of medicine did they put her on? Rei shook her head. She felt clammy, sweaty. She had to get out of the ambulance.

She blinked through her blurry vision while searching for a weapon. She crouched lower, wondering how she would get out of this alive.

Rei glanced at where the medic had fallen before he was snatched from the vehicle. His gun would work. There it was in the corner. She scrambled on her hands and knees to the tossed handgun. She remembered her father’s summer hunting trips and wished she’d paid attention when he told her how to shoot a stupid gun. Rei fumbled with the weapon, vaguely remembering how to fire it. She couldn’t make out what was behind the smoke from the ambulance.

Then two of the bikers appeared within the sway of the smoke they kicked up. One of them, in a black leather suit and helmet that covered his head, gave a hand signal to another. Rei squinted her eye and swore the bike resembled her twin brother Reece’s motorcycle. It had to have been stolen or a replica. Rei didn’t care. She wasn’t going with anyone without a fight. She pulled the trigger, bracing for the kickback of the weapon and – nothing. All of the bullets were gone.

The ambulance rocked to the left and up into the air. “No!” Rei was thrown against the door frame. The bed slammed the wall then rolled toward her. She kicked it away. It launched out of the door. The impact of the ambulance hitting something hard bounced it down and then up. She went flying, mid-air, and fell on the side of the breathing machine. She fell forward. Every bone and muscle on her body throbbed. Smoke and dust from the collision curled around the high blood-red moon Rei focused on trying to fight the throbbing of her head. A motorcycle guy climbed up into the cab of the ambulance.

Rei’s vision grew hazy. She fought to stay coherent, but the ache drumming into the back of her head traveled to her eyes. Rei tried to stand, but gravity sucked her down.

Someone caught her.

“I think she’s okay.”

Rei stumbled into the abyss of darkness once more.

About the Author:
Website-FB-Twitter
Blog-Goodreads
Pinterest-Instagram
L.M. Preston, a native of Washington, DC. An avid reader, she loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She is an author, an engineer, a professor, a mother and a wife. Her passion for writing and helping others to see their potential through her stories and encouragement has been her life’s greatest adventures.She loves to write while on the porch watching her kids play or when she is traveling, which is another passion that encouraged her writing.

Giveaway
eBook copy of the first book in the series