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Thursday, August 31, 2023

Excerpts: Bloodalcohol by Michael Botur + giveaway

The award-winning author of acclaimed horror collection The Devil Took Her is back with ten fresh tales.

by Michael Botur
Genre: Horror Short Stories
The award-winning author of acclaimed horror collection The Devil Took Her is back with ten fresh tales.

– – A South Island road trip turns murderous as a dangerous drifter smells a secret in her co-dependent partner.
— Millionaire Kiwi conservationists learn too late how little Mother Earth cares for mankind.
— A Far North teen confronts the terrifying truth about why Mum separated from Dad years ago.
These stories address the challenges of life through the lens of horror: Struggling to bond with a savage stepchild, losing your son to a gang of ghostly boys, doing desperate things to get famous, battling bullies, surviving school, and getting good with God.
Bringing his award-winning narrative skill to the genre of horror, Botur delivers his most powerful stories yet. 

1. Bloodalcohol
A South Island road trip turns murderous as alcoholic drifter Tracey bullies her lover, the giant Adam, into killing for the ultimate drink – child blood – while Adam fights to keep a secret: his young son.

2. We Created a Country
Millionaire business owners Ross and Jennifer fall in love while trying to restore Northland to its pristine natural state through conservation and cleanups – but after borrowing billions to ban development from the Far North, the nature lovers learn what Mother Nature really thinks about mankind.

3. Weeks in the Woodshed
AJ was a young South Auckland teacher trying to provide for his wife and baby. Now, he’s had his privilege taken away, convicted of a crime while working at school – a crime he’s struggling to admit, a crime for which he’s been sentenced to complete Community Service in a remote countryside barn – and a crime which comes with unending punishment. 

4. Butterfly Tongue
Lonely Kaitaia 14-year-old Venus asks her separated parents for the same simple birthday present every year. Venus just wants her hardened biker mum Marija to talk to her Dad again – and for Dad, a smooth-talking reporter, to be more sensitive with the women he romances.

As Venus counts down towards 18 and the end of school, she tries to intervene against her dad devouring dates – and finally confronts the terrifying truth about why Mum left Dad in the first place.
5. The Beast Released
Lonely Whangarei computer technician Christopher takes the challenging 11-year-old son of a woman he’s trying to impress on a hiking expedition through Northland forest to visit an old plane crash site and bond with the boy. Christopher finds that deep in the forest, however, one of them has a dark side eager to emerge, and the other is trapped.
6. Lossboys
Busy Northland high school teacher Āwhina tries to stop her son Nick sneaking out at night to join a gang of suicidal schoolboys who have discovered the ultimate thrill: killing oneself and frolicking as a ‘Lossboy.’ However, once the Lossboys take everything from her – including her son – Āwhina starts standing up against her untouchable tormentors.
7. Starving
Twentysomething Auckland singer-songwriter Anna Shrupali is desperate to make it in the performing arts world and escape the K Road rat race. But when husband-and-wife patrons offer to make Anna and her twin brother rich and famous, the deal takes Anna far outside her comfort zone and turns her into something monstrous.
8. Influencer
13-year-old Christchurch vandals Richie and Sammy learn the limits of their friendship after they are influenced on weekend missions by the mysterious Jacob, who seems to never leave school. After Jacob takes a prank way too far, the boys part ways and Richard forgets what he did until years later Jacob reappears, reminding Richie if he doesn’t play, he’s going to pay.
9. Racing Hearts
We call it the Airing Cupboard: the chapel where I counsel former doctors suspended for breaking down on the job.

You see, I’m a screw-up just like them. I’m on probation from the hospital’s Review Board and I don’t know if I’ll ever be allowed to walk the wards as an anaesthesiologist again.

It’s because I raced too hard and I fell. Fell in love with a doctor as competitive as me. And we both fell in love with a deadly drug – until one of us fell in too deep.
10. Luke’s Lesson
Life is hard for Hamilton brothers Luke and Danny, whose father is a reformed addict trying to go straight. After Luke and Danny are inspired by a charismatic carnival pastor who gives them Bible comics warning of eternal damnation, Luke tries to improve his community’s favour with God by brutally cleansing the sins of everyone he can reach – beginning with his family.
**Releasing soon!**
Amazon-Author's Site

A South Island road trip turns murderous as alcoholic drifter Tracey bullies her lover, the giant Adam, into killing for the ultimate drink – child blood – while Adam fights to keep a secret: his young son.

Smiling apple postcard. Smiling apple-pickers.

‘If you dicks won’t let me party then FUCK THIS PLACE.’
The bony tornado biffed her wine bottle at the counsellor and knocked her folding chair over. Everyone in the hall went silent. ‘By the way, this party SUCKS.’
All that force packed into a tiny body in a skimpy singlet. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. A quarter of my size; completely in charge.
Her rage-out happened in the First Presbyterian, Main Street, Motueka, 30 minutes into one of the AA meetings Probation made us go to every week. We were sweaty and agitated, peeling and unpeeling our nametag-stickers, trying to not think about tangy beer and party ice. January, hottest month of the year, hottest end of the South Island. The sun was pressing on all sides and the room was punishing us for being desperate alcoholics. This chick was the only one with the guts to actually pull a bottle from her handbag– which is what’d got her told off by the counsellor.
‘WHO’S COMIN WITH ME FOR A ACTUAL PARTY?’ the angry little woman bellowed, kicking her way to the exit, pausing to sneer at the sticker on my chest reading Hi! My name is ___Big Adam___ and I’m an alcoholic.
She chucked her handbag on her shoulder, stormed out. Didn’t even get her attendance sheet signed. Leader of the resistance, for real.
She had one foot still inside the church hall when she spotted me, spoke at me, pretty much adopted my giant arse.
‘You’re coming, eh big boy. You don’t want these boring fucks slowing your shit down.’
I’m a fairly solid unit, six-six, 130 kilos, and I could’ve wrapped her in a bear hug, hauled her back in. Instead, I grabbed my keys and followed her out to the parking lot. Crazy little whitegirl was going to have a fast life. I wanted to protect her. Maybe have me an adventure too.
She fetched this black convertible from the parking lot, screeched to a stop one foot in front of me. I squeezed in, finding a place for my big python-arms, seatbelt battling to get across my belly. Wild Woman got me to hold the wheel while she gulped shots of Jim Beam from the bottle, me shaking my head, laughing ‘Jeeeez, man, if Probation finds out I skipped AA I’m in so much shit.’
‘So?’ she went, hooning through an orange light, ‘Stay ahead of the haters, Big Adam.’
We cruised past professional-looking wankers on the veranda of a swank restaurant, enjoying a single Golden Bay Chardonnay.
Up ahead, the Vicar of Liquor sign arose.
I’d never seen anyone use a trolley at a liquor store before, or seen anyone pack the car boot with 400 bucks worth of piss and drive back to Happy Apple Campground, rear axle sagging, slowing for speed bumps. I’d definitely never seen anybody hand out free bottles of Woodstock to a grateful mob like Santa.
But that was us. A year in hell with a woman whose nametag said Hi! My name is ____Tracey____ and I’m an alcoholic.
Shoulda slapped a second sticker on her.
And I’m about to soak your life in booze and blood.


Reason I was up Motueka-way was I was trying to give some space to Karla the ex and Wallace, my boy; well, I’d been ordered to give ‘em space, actually. Each day at the orchard that Jan I’d pluck around thirty apple trees, guide the fruit down, not chucking it too hard so the supe wouldn’t dock my pay. Get a sweat up during the day; come down feeling less fat, feeling appreciated when the bosses came round to collect our bins. Tracey started staying at the campground too and we’d all cool down each night after work with a smoke and a box of Canadian Clubs and there would be Crazey Trazey, shitfaced, dancing on tables, mis-hearing people, starting fights, retarded laugh. Life of the party. If we filled a hundred two-tonne bins per week together, everybody got paid pretty decent money. Paid more than being a Southland signwriter at any rate, plus it was less stress-y, like I could stand up among the shining leaves, toke, sip liquor, eat decent apples, rock out to tunes.
I’s spending the season in Mot figurin out how to get my train back on the tracks cause my baby mama and her Nan had got a protection order meaning I wasn’t allowed down south in Invercargill else I’d get in trouble. It was supposedly about my car crash on Christmas Eve, rollin’ the Holden while I was liquored up, injuring Karla, endangering our son and shit. Truth be told, her family had wanted me gone before the crash anyway, cause of my drinkin. Dead, if possible. After the crash Uncle Wiremu had pulled me into the hospital café and poured out my flask into a trash can and told me either I had to leave town or he was gonna get the Road Knights to kneecap me. Didn’t matter that I’d paid for a decent house, three-ply toilet paper, a heated towel rail, automatic door opener so Karla could cram the garage with Wally’s basketballs and skipping ropes and whatnot. Uncle Wiremu emailed me a bus ticket from his phone and told me to go before sundown and that was us. House given to Karla. Me, sent away to the naughty north end of the island with no one to love me.
Cept Tracey, that was.
This Tracey chick was a leader in the campground cause of two things, I found out: Rage and riches. As in, Tracey pays for everyone’s piss to buy influence and anyone that wasn’t on the Tracey Train got a growling, didn’t matter how staunch – team leaders, Noise Control, Samoan chiefs, prickly Mobsters, stabby skinheads. She mentioned a couple times, when we were on a sandbar in the middle of the booze-ocean, that after she’d partied her way through Happy Apple, she had a plan to go on the epic-est South Island road trip in history and I should totally come with. If I helped her out, I’d get free piss, parties, pills and someone to occasionally hug. Seemed like a sweet deal. Maybe I’d even walk away with a bit of coin to buy Wallace some decent prezzies. Maybe Karla would respect me again and drop the protection order.
The Tracey Tap, campground people called her – cause alcohol flowed from her and peeps were itching for a drink between paydays. The Tracey Tap had an account at Vicar of Liquor – thanks to this allowance from some old father who people said they’d seen visiting her, gripping her over in the woods or something – and twice a week she’d fetch a trunkload of Cody’s and Cruisers, Steiny, Stella, Smirnoff, giving her enough power to be loose with anyone, grabbing smokes out of Samoan chiefs’ mouths, aggravating the Israelis, cussing out the campground manager, taking the Indians’ chicken from their barbecue.
She gave more than she took, which was why she narrowly avoided getting smashed over. Trace would use Daddy’s Dollars to put on these Happy Apple parties and every cunt would come, big fuck-off rental sound system, people moshing in the swamp, bonfire, pig-on-a-spit, DOOFDOOFDOOF, backpackers and Islanders shaking their dreadlocks. Tracey made those broke-arse summer nights slide by, did she what.
End of Feb we had the party to end all parties. Peeps were celebrating filling our 500th bin of the season and we’d started on the piss and pills and pipes just after lunch so by dinner time most people were fairly sozzled, and when it actually got dark people started coma’ing out. Round 11 or so Tracey was dancing on the roof of this Mustang belonging to these Mongrel Mobsters who we mostly hadn’t had a problem with, two old blokes and a nineteen-ish grandson, winner of some amateur MMA/kickboxing title who wore his thick gold belt round the campground to psych people out. They told Trace to get the fuck off their ride and Tracey laughed right into their Ray-Bans, You softcocks don’t have the balls to smack a woman, hopping down and disappearing while the gangsters muttered about revenge and loaded a sawnoff with a red bandana wrapped round it and Kickboxer Boy pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted a one-out, telling me as I walked away that I was a pussy for letting my missus represent.
Epic night, that, lotta wild behaviour, but the fire had winked out by 4am and everyone was sleeping.
Everyone cept Tracey and me, that was.
I was taking a piss under the full moon when I looked up and there she was, in the tree. Legs wrapped around a bough. Perched. Plotting.
She glided down while I frantically zipped up my cock. Gave me a look that said I Want You Inside Me.
‘Hurry up,’ she went, tugging me towards her tent.
After she bit my neck and I came, we pulled our undies on and Trace became all business. Stuck a spear-tipped finger under my chin. Kaleidoscope eyes. Swirling gold.
‘Come. Get mama something to eat.’
My nervous balls floated up into my throat as I followed Trace through the moonlit blue campground, prowling between caravans, arriving at the Mustang.
Fuck. Tent of the Mongrel Mobs. All three of them packed in there like possums, wearing their sunglasses as they snored.
We could hear a weed whacker revving in one granddad’s throat. The other one, mumbling. Kickboxer Boy hugged his gold belt like a teddy bear. Their boots stuck out the end of the tent.
Tracey hefted a thick block into my arms. I was too woozy to make it out. A car engine?
‘Crush the cunt.’ Tracey had given me a 36-pack of beer bottles, so heavy I swooned a little.
‘OI. Crush his fuckin head or I’ll crush yours.’
The box had to weigh nearly 20 kilos. Pointy cardboard corners. Could pop a man’s eye out. I tried to peer through the tent-fabric at where the guys’ heads were. Saw the shape of a man’s face. One of the grandfathers. No helmet.
I gave Tracey a look that said I seriously don’t wanna do this.
She met me with golden swirling eyes. Lifted my arms for me.
Slammed the box on his watermelon-skull.
The tent jerked and shivered. Something oily oozed through the nylon, into the blue-black grass.
‘Move. I’ll show you how it’s done.’
Tracey hefted a cinderblock the Mongrels had used to hold down the lid of their ice chest. She dropped it on the head of a second man. Wet crunch, like a dropped tray of eggs.
Tracey moved around the front of the tent, next. Unzipped the opening. Kneeled on the shoulders of the youngster, Mister Kickboxer. Strangled him in his sleep while he pawed her with useless seal flippers, puke oozing out his nostrils.
Tracey emerged from the tent, panting.
‘Take their shit, c’mon.’
‘Wanna end up like him, Adam?’
I tried to swallow. Felt Tracey sticking sharpness into my throat. The campground silent as ice.
I took their wallets and money-rolls. Tracey stole their weed, their booze, tobacco. She toed their shotgun with a smirk, tipping it over like it was a useless hunk of scrap. We didn’t talk. We’d both ripped off people before.
Stamps. Stamps tucked in wallets. That was what I really cared about. I pulled those wallets inside-out. Managed to score three postage stamps. Three postcards home to my son. I wasn’t allowed to ring or visit, but there was no law against sending postcards.
I moved metres away, calling her name, desperate to disappear. But Trace had one last thing to do.
Kickboxer Boy wasn’t fully dead, just spasming, quivering. She straddled his chest like she was riding him.
Tracey leaned in. I watched, arms full of loot. Tracey was giving him mouth-to-mouth, it looked like.
Then she tossed her head back, lips toward the moon.
Tracey’d grown a black beard – no, she’d puked tar all down her throat, no –
She’d slurped out of the crushed kid’s jaw. She was chewing, like it was thick. Syrupy.
‘Tastes good when they’re little.’
She wobbled upright, licking her lips, waiting to see if I’d scream.
Right hand, fingertips dripping. Left hand, holding the golden belt.
We loaded her convertible, spun it around.
Hooned out the gate. Vanished.

The Devil Took Her
by Michael Botur
Genre: Horror Short Stories
Melanie’s increasingly disturbing journal entries have to be delusional ravings—if they’re not, there’s something terrible out there, snatching runaways in the night and spiriting them off to somewhere unspeakable.

In his debut collection of horror stories, The Devil Took Her, short fiction writer Michael Botur, recognized in his native New Zealand as “one of the most original story writers of his generation,” offers twelve terrifying and bizarre tales that take us to the dark extremes of human imagination.

A woman trapped in a coal cellar discovers that in order to live, part of her needs to die. A teen prankster’s vicious joke against her tutor brings revenge served cold. Cutting class turns terrifying for two high school introverts. A powerful-yet-paranoid publisher turns a young man’s magazine internship into a nightmare. And more . . .

Praise for Michael Botur and The Devil Took Her

"Prolific, dope-as-tits writer Michael Botur is back, with a new collection. His writing in these twelve stories is pure, no-holds-barred revelry in the weird and genuinely scary. Each story is highly imaginative and, most importantly, fun to read.” —Jeremy Roberts,

“Michael Botur’s work grabs you by the throat and won’t let you go. His stories throb with what feel like real people, real conversations, real moments of pain and hope, misunderstanding and reconciliation, remorse and surprise.” —Maggie Trapp, New Zealand Listener

“Botur is a superb practitioner with the ability to bring to life these terrifying moments… It’s a little like a car crash, you don’t want to look – but you just can’t help yourself.” —Chris Reed, NZ Book Lovers

“Gritty, unsettling, and utterly intoxicating.”—Steffanie Holmes, USA Today bestselling and award-winning author

"Aside from the incredible inventiveness of its plot, Botur’s writing sings at times with fluency and vivacity. —Jenny Purchase, Kete NZ Books

“Botur is considered one of the most original story writers of his generation in New Zealand." —Patricia Prime, Takahē 86

The Day I Skipped School
by Michael Botur
Mr English’s gate opens smooth as a fridge door, closes cleanly. His yard is all paving stones and bird baths and sculptures of white cherubs. A fountain, a pond, lily pads, a pergola with roses, a hammock… .

Tsuru has a cute backpack of that puffy panda/cat beast Totoro. Just past the gate she kneels, opens it, pulls out a pack of smokes, a stolen-looking bottle of brandy, some men’s razor blades.

I spot a trio of comics in there. Bio-Meat. Ichi The Killer. Uzumaki, the one about the deadly spiral. Unless Tsuru’s gone and shoplifted in my bedroom, I think this crazy bitch has got the same taste as me.

“We fill, yes?”

“What, fill your backpack with Mr. English’s shit? Like, rip him off?”

Tsuru is nodding and about to blurt something when I spot Mr. English and stick a finger against her lips. Sssh. Time to roll the old rich fuck.

He’s waiting at the top of the stone stairs. Must’ve seen us out in the alley looking directionless. He’s stirring his coffee and finishing a conversation on his Bluetooth headset. Black lizard eyes under squares of uniformly-caramel skin like he’s had skin grafts or plastic surgery. The hair on top of his cooked pink head is squelched down with some kind of sticky wax, though it springs out of his chest in fuzzy curls.

Sure, I’m concerned about getting tongue-raped and manipulated, but we have to be off the street so Truancy Services doesn’t tackle us. Being in a rich guy’s house with shag carpet and a dark-wood spiral staircase with a library and a drinks cabinet is relatively okay, I guess.

He presses the device in his ear, says “Girls, top of the morning to ya,” as if it’s totally not unusual for teenagers to appear in his front yard. He waves us in, walking behind presumably so he can get an eyeful of our asses. He locks and bolts the ranchslider behind us. We sit on his hard leather couch while he puts Pop-Tarts in the toaster for us. He mixes us a drink each in a martini glass. I’m bunched up against Tsuru, sitting so close that the barcode-scars on our thighs press together. I glance sidelong at her, sitting upright and anxious. Tsuru’s lips are nervous, puckered pin-points. They need to be kissed, I think, weirdly.

Mr. English is away talking smack, roaming the parlour and kitchen, mentioning five or six times that we’re welcome to help ourselves to the champagne he’s put in the ice bucket on the coffee table.

The ice cubes in his glass clink as he paints with his hands.

“. . .Aaaand that’s when I realized the wisest thing to do is acquire tranche number three, considering the all-time nadir in volatility, you’d be an imbecile not to, know what I mean?” he says, settling into an armchair with his third drink, folding one knee over the other, adjusting his dressing gown over his fat thighs. “We all remember what happened to prices in oh-eight, obviously. But enough about my passion.” A smile leaks across his face. His eyes crease until they’re black lines. “Tell me, Ladies: tell me what gets you off.”

Tsuru’s eyebrows are so high up, I’m worried they’re going to burst out the top of her head. She’s been given a glass of stinky schnapps, but she doesn’t know where to put it. “I am liking . . . swimming in the ocean?” she goes. “When this is warm water, is warming?”

“My daughter, Annika, she was swimming at Summer Bay four years ago and she—” Bent over, he’s melting, warbling, warping, like water is falling through his body. Pinching his nose, bottom lips shiny with moisture . . . Jesus. The dude’s crying! And rolling forwards out of his chair, knees on the floor like he’s praying to Allah! What the fuck? I’ve only taken one bite of my Pop-Tart and already the day’s an abortion.

I was hoping to get propositioned, kind of, or robbed, but here me and Tsuru are, side-stepping African statuettes and Javanese idols to get to an old caveman hunched over in a half-somersault to rub his back and cheer him up. Tsuru is murmuring soothing things to the creep. We share a gaze, then our heads turn mutually to the wine rack.

Tsuru unzips her backpack. I begin filling it.

After a minute, the drunk, hairy, dressing-gowned wreck looks up from his puddle of tears on the carpet, startled, shocked, seizes Tsuru’s wrist as she tries to step over him and grab the champagne. “Take me to my room. Down those stairs. Please. You have to.”

He snatches both our forearms. We have no choice but to park our bags of loot and help him up. The guy is shorter than me and his pale-yellow throat bulges like a fat frog. He says, “The Burgundy,” turns and grabs a bottle of wine and a corkscrew and has a final glug of blood-dark stinky alcohol before we let him descend the few steps to his sunken bedroom.

Bronze wood panels. Thick carpet. Mirrors above the bed. Low ceiling, like we’re on a yacht.

The sheets we peel off his California superking waterbed are rich black silk. We urge him into the sloshing bed, and he hands his Burgundy and corkscrew to Tsuru. She studies the objects she’s been handed. She looks like she’s never used a corkscrew before. Its point is so sharp that it twists into a needle then disappears.

“Cheers for having us over, I guess.” I ask Tsuru a question with my eyes, like Why are we still here, this guy’s a drunken loser, what are you hoping for?

“Tsu. It’s first period. We’ve got to cruise. Right?”

Dumped on the bed, Mr. English is lying on his back, smiling, teeth sticking out over his lip like an alligator. He doesn’t look upset any more. His eyes gleam in their wet pink patches.

I shouldn’t be standing this close to his bed.

He snatches my wrist, crushing my white shirtsleeve.

“Nurse,” he says, yanking. “You have to look after me.”

I splat into his bed and the covers close on top of me, and even though he’s shorter, Mr. English is twice as heavy as me, squishing me as he rolls on top, licking and nibbling and sucking my throat, pushing my hands against the headboard.

In the mirror on the ceiling, I watch the sheets slide off his furry black back as his legs push my knee-high socks out to the sides, starfish-wide, his arms mirroring mine, keeping my hands pressed away from his eyes so I don’t claw him. I don’t scratch or scream or bite. My brain’s still half in the alleyway, stunned. Still thinking I can control what’s going to happen in my day.

Mr. English pulls his lips off me, leans back, shrugging out of his dressing gown, tugging at the elastic band of his boxer shorts, revealing a stripe of veiny blubber as he begins to yank his undies over one leg. There is a pen in his neck, suddenly, a silver pen I’ve never noticed, or it’s grown there just now, a pen or a torch or a crank, something with a black plastic handle, sticking to his froggy throat-sac with black paint, no, dark-purple blackcurrant juice that spasms, squirting across the room. Blood, dark as ink. Dripping down the cupboard doors thick and slow as barbecue sauce.

Mr. English falls backward off me and kicks, fingering whatever’s stuck in his neck. His crusty toes bash my chin and I bite my tongue. I roll out of bed, clutching my school uniform against me like armour, too breathless to scream. Tsuru reaches to pull the corkscrew out of the man’s neck. I slap her hand away, shove her towards the exit. We pause, turn, watch him struggle. Mr. English’s legs push away from wherever he thinks the corkscrew is. He kicks himself off the bed, lands heavily on the corkscrew side. He speckles the carpet with a dozen dark puddles as he tries to stand, one hand on the flap of his dressing gown, modest. He gropes his neck but can’t grasp the slippery corkscrew handle between his stained fingers. The corkscrew is deep, almost inside him. Buried.

“Ambulis,” he croaks. Bending, folding, sitting on his butt in a pool of oil spreading so thickly there are little ripples and rapids in the blood. His eyes attempt to meet ours, but they’re flicking in two separate directions.

“You fill bag.”

While I’ve been frozen, Tsuru has gone up to the kitchen, brought down wine carriers and canvas shopping bags, as well as her fluffy Totoro backpack.

She dumps the sacks at my feet.

“HEY. Filling bag, NOW.”

Mr. English gurgles, tries to crawl towards us through the red sticky swamp, hairy bum in the air as if he’s pretending to be a worm.

“Ev-e-rything,” she orders me.

“Is he—is he dead? He—he—he—can’t be— ”


I scurry up to the kitchen. We open another liquor cabinet. I stuff two sacks with Bacardi, Jim Beam, VSOP, Courvoisier. I toss in a silver cheese knife, a mortar and pestle, steak knives, a candlestick, postage stamps, a restaurant voucher, a meat thermometer, think think think, girl, what’s gonna make you rich? What do you need, what will you regret not taking? Thinking, grabbing, shit, um, this china plate, yeah, fuck, dropped it, pour out the parking coins from the fruit bowl, yeah, a metronome, okay, weird, car keys, a crystal ashtray, a letter opener, a butter dish, fuck—

I’m so busy stacking bags of loot by the ranch slider, preparing to escape into the alleyway, that I realize I haven’t seen my friend in minutes.

I freeze. Cold shiver. Fuck was that noise? A hand cracking walnuts? No. Somebody ripping a fish in half? No. Water balloons smacking on concrete? Wet, tearing, dripping, juicy. Splatty-crunch.

I tiptoe down the three carpeted stairs to Mr. English’s sunken bedroom. I peer around the corner. I see a pelican, yellow beak thick as half a kayak, too large for the room, hunched under the ceiling, pulling off chunks of red-stained robe and gulping them down. An enormous seabird, giraffe-sized, crammed in a tiny space, bumping its head, beak like two surfboards, eyes black frisbees. Its wings are white curtains stained grey, bunched, quivering. Its rear end spans meters, reaches into the en suite bathroom. Tail feathers big as paddles.

The giant bird twists its head to pull a chunk of flesh inside it. It has Mr. English’s arm in its beak. A webbed grey foot like a rubbery stingray is clawing, holding Mr. English’s body while it pulls him apart, beginning with his left arm. His free hand is trying to hold on to a bedsheet. He’s looking at me with drowning eyes. The pelican-thing makes the choking, sucking sound of a blocked vacuum cleaner then gulps the arm into its mouth, sucking up the black silk sheet like a napkin, and Mr. English’s head disappears. His shoulder blades are folded and squashed as he trickles headfirst down its sticky throat. After his shoulders, it swallows his back and belly, his hairy butt, his butter thighs. I watch the shape of his body stretch the gullet of the bird.

Lastly, the cord of his dressing gown whispers, flaps, as if asking us to fetch help, then the slippers fall from his toes as he disappears.

The bird chokes, pulls, swallows, and when it has finished swallowing, it turns to me. Its eyes are my equal. It knows who I am.

Big Bird. Big Bird from Sesame Street. Big Bird with black eyes. Big Bird with a mouth of stiff plastic. That’s what its beak looks like as it talks.

“Now you’ve seen.”

The giant bird’s cheeks flex. As it swallows, its eyes blink, huge and slow. Eyelids of skin from elsewhere. From a dimension of sea-bottom beasts asleep in the deep.

My scream tears the air in two.

The bird stomps, revolves, grunts. Its head smacks the lampshade. How—-how—how did it even get in? Pelican, yes? No? Heron. Stork. Swamp-bird. Eater of snakes and tadpoles and—sad—sadlonelydesperatedeserve—

“Susan. Promise you’ll keep me secret.”

“I pr—pr—promise.”

I back up the stairs, leave my bag of kitchen loot. I rattle the ranch slider ’til I’m screaming and throttling and praying and the ranch slider handle breaks and I sprint down Mr. English’s garden stairs, slipping on expensive white stones, gasping as I bump over a gnome and it shatters and I leave my heart throbbing behind me.

Tsuru appears from somewhere, dropping a computer monitor in the goldfish pond, her fingers tense like claws as she catches up and grasps my shoulder, sacks of loot rattling at her side.

My school bag, heavy with rattling metal and stone.

We sprint to my house, shower together, put our clothes in the washing machine, set the cycle for 8 hours and hide under my bed. We cry and bite our knuckles, weep into my mum’s belly, watch my dad thump the wall and turn away, wait for detectives who never come, watch the news for reports of Mr. English missing, read his obituary in my dad’s Property Investors Federation newsletter, slowly return to school. I have a skeleton of steel, now. A hardness in me.

I sit beside Tsuru every class and let her lean on my shoulder and whisper and when Ms. Bowker tells us to get a room, I tell her to go fuck herself, challenge her to a one-out. The same week, I push Connie into a pile of desks, hold a sharp pencil against Francine’s eye, crush Hannah’s scalp in front of 50 girls in the hall and scream in her terrified face, “I ain’t afraid of nothing no more, specially not you, you bully-bitch-cunt-FUCK,” laugh and pash, sip vodka from our drink bottles in the toilets, accept a bundle of correspondence school papers, battle my exams lying on my bedroom floor sipping alcohol and popping Prozac and bleaching my hair and listening to Baroque music and studying, sending secret forbidden texts to my BFF, and I realize, opening my university results one morning two years later, wondering how the fuck I got an A+ for accounting in the first place when I resent keeping records and remembering things, I realize I’ve drifted down a river of time far from where I used to be, and my counselor has taught me how to ground myself, how to stop letting people rock me off my perch, and I realize it’s safe now; no more cognitive distortions, no more hallucinations, no more waking up at 4am whimpering. There is no monster chasing me, and there probably never was.

I can stop running.

About the Author:
Michael Botur, born 1984, is a writer originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, who now lives in Whangarei with his wife and two kids.

Botur is author of four short story collections and published the novel 'Moneyland' in 2017.

Botur holds a Masters in Creative Writing from AUT University and a Graduate Diploma in Journalism Studies from Massey University, as well as degrees in arts and literacy.

Botur makes a living from writing as a columnist, corporate communications writer, blogger, advertising writer and journalist.

Botur has published creative writing in international literary journals Newfound (US), Weaponizer (UK), The Red Line (UK), Swamp (Aus) and most NZ literary journals including Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, 4th Floor, JAAM and Tākahe.

He has been making money from creative writing since the age of 21 and was in 2017 proud to be included in the University of Otago collection 'Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 political poems'.

Botur has published journalism in most major NZ newspapers including New Zealand Herald, Herald on Sunday, Sunday Star-Times, as well as many magazines.

Botur has a long history of volunteering, including working with Maori and Pasifika literacy, Youthline, ESOL refugee tutoring, and assisting stroke patients, and in Whangarei is involved in improv theatresports and performance poetry.

Botur’s books 'Moneyland,' 'LowLife,' 'Spitshine', 'Mean' and 'Hot Bible’ all available on

In 2021 Botur was the first Kiwi winner of the Australasian Horror Writers Association Short Story Award for 'Test of Death.'

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Interview: Paranormal Women's Fiction Author: Lori Handeland + giveaway

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Lord of Scoundrels-Loretta Chase
One for the Money-Janet Evanovich
Heaven, Texas-Susan Elizabeth Philips
Guilty Pleasures-Laurel K Hamilton
Deal Breaker-Harlan Coben
To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee
Jane Eyre-Charlotte Bronte
The Best Man-Kristan Higgins
The Shadow of the Lynx-Victoria Holt
The Promise of Jenny Jones-Maggie Osborne

How long have you been writing?
40 years.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
The main characters are usually there when I start but not completely. Others just walk on in. Surprise!

What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I do a lot of reading and Googling on settings and occupations. Then I start writing and do more specific research as I go.

Do you see writing as a career?
Yes. It has been my only career.

What do you think about the current publishing market?
Different from how it was when I started, that’s for sure.

Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read quite a bit and the only thing I don’t read much of (except for research) is non-fiction.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
Complete silence otherwise I get distracted.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One book at a time.

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose?
Harry Potter!

Pen or type writer or computer?
I brainstorm with pen and yellow legal pads. I write on the computer, though I did start my first book on a typewriter.

A day in the life of the author?
I’m up very early so I can hit my elliptical, then I walk the dog and make coffee. Next it’s dealing with my social media and any emails I put aside from the day before.

I try to start writing by 9 am. Once upon a time I would write from the minute my sons got on the bus until they came home, but these days I’m lucky to get in 3 hours before I need to deal with promotion details for any sales I have running or books I am releasing.

Then there’s life . . .
As the only child of an elderly mother, there is a lot to handle. And I must admit that my 3 grandchildren are dazzling and I am frequently dazzled beyond the point of anything else

Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Keep writing. The only way to fail is to quit.

Describe your writing style.
Fast paced plot and true to life characters dealing with astounding situations.

What makes a good story?
Great characterization, structure and pacing.

What are you currently reading?
Elin Hilderbrand’s THE FIVE-STAR WEEKEND.

What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
I’m a pantser all the way. I’ve tried to outline and find I get bored with the story, which means I don’t continue with it.

Sometimes I will write the first chapter or two, then sketch an overview of the turning points and the ending, though all that is subject to change along the way.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Editing the beginning over and over, which means never reaching “the end.” Push through. The number of people who start a book, then don’t finish a book is epic. Anything can be fixed but a blank page.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start self-publishing the instant you hear about it.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
There is always the temptation to create men the way you want men to be. And, to an extent, this is what writing romance is about. However they need to be realistic too. It’s a balancing act.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I used to be able to write a 90,000+ word book in 3-4 months. Now it would take me 9-12 months. It is what it is.

Do you believe in writer’s block?
I do, I do, I do believe in writer’s block. The only way I’ve found to cure it, and sometimes only for a little while, is to push through the book I’m working on, don’t look back. Eyes on the prize of “the end.”

Then edit, edit, edit.

Werewolf Queen wasn't on her middle aged bingo card...

In the Midnight Hour (A Midnight Madness Nightcreature Novel Book 3)
by Lori Handeland
Genre: Paranormal Women's Fiction
Just when I thought it was safe to go home…

I’ve been running too long. I’d gotten sloppy. Sloppy gets you captured. But it turns out, the very one I thought I had to hide from, saved me.

I just want to live peacefully. But happy family, er, pack reunions don’t seem to be in my future. When my secret is used against me, I’m forced to run again. This time, help comes from the most unexpected source, the greatest werewolf hunter of all time, Edward Mandenauer.

To get what we both want—the end of the sadistic, yet sexy, werewolf Zane—Edward and I join forces. But Zane isn’t working alone. Nor is he who or what he says he is. He’s much, much more…

All I want is the life I believed I’d lost, but at this rate, I’ll end up captured, imprisoned, enslaved . . . or dead.

From the voice of New York Times bestselling author Lori Handeland, the final installment in the Midnight Madness trilogy takes you deep into her Nightcreature world, complete with the humor, depth of characterization and fast-paced plot lines the author is known for while showcasing her incredible range.


When the phone rings in the middle of the night, everything changes.

Mother always said: Nothing good happens after midnight. I’d found in my forty-one years on this earth, in that at least, Mom had been right.

I sat up so fast I jiggled the mattress. I froze, my gaze shifting to, then away from the empty side of the bed. I still hadn’t gotten used to Patrick not being there. Would I ever?

The shrill slice of sound continued to cut through the oh so silent night. I only had one ringtone left on my allowed calls after that indelible hour of midnight, and this was it. My heart rate increased from WTF? to OMG!


“Sorry, Mrs. Sullivan. It’s Cammy.”

I searched my memory for the identity of Cammy, feeling slow, stupid despite the far too rapid rate of my heart.

Spring, same time two years ago, my OB had diagnosed the reason for my newly sluggish brain and sudden ability to fry eggs atop my head as premature menopause.

Look at it this way, you won’t have to worry about getting pregnant for very much longer.

Not that I had for decades. However, having my body betray me like that—basically saying I was old, when I never really got to be young—had stung. It still did.

Cammy’s tentative voice brought me back to the right now. “I’m Jenna’s roommate.”

My skin prickled with heat and a fine sheen of sweat started up at my hairline. “What’s wrong?”

“Jenna hasn’t been here since Tuesday.”

Here being the University of Wisconsin. I’d been so proud when Jenna had decided to go to UW like me. Or like the me I could have been, would have been if not for her.

“Tuesday,” I repeated. “But it’s . . .”

Come on, brain, don’t fail me now!

Thursday! I thought at the same time Cammy said, “Thursday.”

For an instant, I was near ecstatic to have concluded something at the same speed as a millennial. Then I did the math, never my strong suit even before all the brain-fart BS. “That’s two days, and you’re just calling me now?”

“Sometimes she pulls an all-nighter. Stays at the library or goes to a study group. But she lets me know. I didn’t really worry until I called her phone, and it was . . .”

My skin did that prickle again. Jenna’s phone was in Cammy’s hand, obviously, since she was talking to me on it. That I hadn’t asked why earlier put another notch in my losin’ it belt.

“Her phone was in her backpack,” Cammy continued. “In her room, along with her laptop and her books.”

Cammy paused, waiting for me to fill in the blanks. Jenna probably wouldn’t be studying without her backpack, and the notes and books and computer within. But even if she’d grabbed a few things and left the rest, she never would have left her cell phone. I didn’t think it had been out of her sight—more accurately, out of her hand—since I’d handed it to her when she was ten.

“In Lunar Lake, anywhere can be reached from anywhere in a handful of minutes,” Patrick had argued. “Even if she falls off her bike and breaks her leg, someone’s gonna be at her side quicker than she can make a call. She’s safer than safe, like every other kid in town. What are you worried about?”

When I lifted my eyebrows, he’d blinked, said, “Oh,” and that had been the last Patrick had said about that. He knew why I was the way I was better than anyone. It was one of the reasons I’d married him.

I’d devoted my life to raising Jenna. She was everything. The only thing. When she’d gone to college, I’d been proud but also terrified. This exact scenario—a midnight phone call, a missing child—played through my mind far too often. Sadly, what I should do about it had never played through as well.

“Hello?” Cammy’s worried voice broke into my thoughts. She probably thought I’d fainted. Or stroked out. I was tempted.

But all Jenna had was me now, and all I had was her. If that meant facing my greatest fear again, I’d face it. What choice did I have?

She was my baby.

Blame It On Midnight (A Midnight Madness Nightcreature Novel Book 2)

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight (A Midnight Madness Nightcreature Novel Book 1)


Get the first Nightcreature novel, Blue Moon for FREE!!

Get it on Amazon

About the Author
Lori Handeland is a five-time nominee and two-time winner of the prestigious RITA™ Award from Romance Writers of America, as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over sixty novels spanning the genres of paranormal romance, urban fantasy, contemporary romance, historical romance, historical fantasy and women’s fiction. Her novel Just Once received a coveted, starred review from Library Journal and was optioned as a feature film by Catalyst Global Media.

Lori set her sight on being an author at the age of ten. She remembers sitting at a typewriter before she knew how to type, pecking out a story about a family who went into space. As an only child her summers were spent with that typewriter, television, and, above all, books. As a young adult, she got sidetracked by the need to make a living. She worked as a waitress and later enrolled in college to become a teacher.

Lori lives in Southern Wisconsin with her husband of over thirty-five years. In between writing and reading, she enjoys long walks with their rescue mutt, Arnold, and visits from her two grown sons, awesome daughter-in-law and perfectly adorable grandchildren.

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Monday, August 28, 2023

YA Fantasy/Sci-fi Excerpt: Guardians by T.J. Baer

by T.J. Baer
July 18, 2023
Genre: Young Adult, Scifi/Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publisher: NineStar Press
ISBN: 978-1648906787
Number of pages: 210
Word Count: 56,000 words
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo
Can two girls who hate each other save the world?

Seventeen-year-old Alisha Howard is having a rough day. She’s had to rescue her headstrong little brother from getting eaten by a monster from another dimension, her mom has put her on dish duty as punishment for bringing her sword to the table (again), and her lifelong enemy, snarky rich girl Belladonna, is starting to look like both a real human being and someone Alisha would like to kiss. To make matters worse, it looks like the world is about to end.

Alisha is a Guardian, a sworn protector of life on Earth, but is she up to the task of saving the world?

Excerpt Guardians by T.J. Baer © 2023
Chapter One
My brother Jake lay unconscious on the cave floor, his favorite denim jacket torn in three places and his cell phone a cracked mess of plastic on the ground. If we actually survived this, he was going to be pissed.

“All right, look,” I said, giving the giant snarling insect monster my serious face. “I know I don’t look like much, but you should know I am fully capable of kicking your big buggy butt straight back to where it came from, not only for hurting my brother, but for whatever unholy reign of terror you’ve got planned here.”

The monster was nine feet tall, jet-black, and scaly, with hundreds of spindly legs, like a centipede on steroids. Savage mandibles gleamed in the light from the cave mouth, and I tightened my grip on my sword hilt. And because times of stress often led me to incredible feats of word vomit, I kept talking.

“I mean, let’s face it: guys like you don’t generally show up in our world without some kind of nasty plan for world domination, so I think it’s pretty safe to say you’re up to no good. So are you gonna go peacefully, or do I have to start shoving my boot up random orifices until we find the one that hurts the most?”

The centipede monster reared back, its legs fanning out, its mandibles opening—

And then it tilted its scaly head to the side as if regarding me in puzzlement. “You speak great volumes but say very little,” it said in a thin, whistling voice.

Which, okay, was fair. I’d always had a tendency to babble, particularly when I was in imminent danger of being devoured by the Godzilla of centipedes. Generally, the centipede didn’t take the time to inform me of it though.

“I do not wish any harm upon you,” it continued, deviating even further from the Evil Monster Intent on Taking Over the Earth speech. “Nor any human. I came here only wishing to be left alone, but your companion—” It swung its head toward Jake. “—attempted to steal one of my children, at which point I was forced to defend them. I have not seriously harmed him, only caused him to lose consciousness to neutralize him as a threat.”

“He tried to steal one of your kids?” That didn’t sound like Jake.

The centipede-thing tilted its head toward the other end of the cave, where I could just make out the glittering of a number of round, pearly, head-sized spheres. Eggs? They looked like the kind of pretty, decorative objects people would pay a lot of money for, bringing them much more firmly into the realm of things Jake would totally try to steal.

I sighed and slid my sword into its sheath. The magic triggered the instant I did, and sword and sheath shrank to being a decorative golden clasp on my belt. “I apologize for my companion’s rash actions,” I said, bowing my head slightly like we were supposed to do in these situations. “If you’d allow me to remove him from here, I swear to you that he’ll never come near you or your children again.”

The centipede bowed its head too, its pincers snapping and clicking together in a way that I tried not to be too creeped out by. “That would be acceptable. I thank you, Guardian.”
I blinked. “How’d you know I’m a Guardian?”

“Well, for one thing, the sword.”


“But even had you come unarmed, I would have known. You wear your status like a cloak. It seeps from every ounce of your being, every word and action. Though you look a frail female thing, there is power in you.”

“Frail female thing,” I said in a flat voice and decided not to be offended. If the worst thing a giant centipede monster had to throw at me was sexism, I could probably count myself lucky.

“Yeah, well, guess I’d better get Jake—err, my companion—out of your hair before he wakes up and starts trying to make off with your kids again.”
I started forward, hoping the centipede monster would move out of the way, but it stayed where it was, its black eyes glittering in the dimness.

“You have shown me respect and kindness, and so I shall do something for you in return. My species have a unique ability that appears only between laying our eggs and the birth of our children.”

“Oh, yeah? What kind of ability?”

“The ability to glimpse the future. It allows us to provide extra protection to our young when they are unable to protect themselves, for instance if a young human is attempting to steal one of them.”

“For instance,” I said dryly.

“Something lurks on the horizon, Guardian. An age of darkness and danger is coming to you and those like you.”

I frowned. “To the Guardians, you mean?”

“To all beings of your world.”

“What kind of danger?”

Its legs rippled, and it dropped down onto them and made its undulating way over to the row of eggs. Its last word hissed through the cave, seeming to echo louder and louder in my ears:


I suddenly felt very, very tired. “Again?”

About the Author:
T.J. Baer is a queer, trans author of novels and short fiction. Born in Western Pennsylvania, he currently resides in his adopted hometown of Chicago with two cats and a well-stocked cupboard of tea. Some of his titles include Following Grandpa Jess, Guardians, Dreamers, and The Boy Who Was Kissed, and his short fiction has been featured in the Harpur Palate Literary Journal and Flash Fiction Magazine. When not writing, T.J. can be found either discussing queer media on his YouTube channel or failing to escape from murderous ghosts on Twitch.

YA Thriller: Between the Dark Spaces by Melissa Groeling

Welcome to the tour for Between the Dark Spaces by Melissa Groeling. Read on for more details!
by Melissa Groeling
Genre: YA Thriller, crime
How deep do those dark places go? Sixteen-year-old Aris Black likes to think she knows about dark places. Every day, she watches her father struggle to hang on to his sobriety. She works long hours after school to help pay their bills so they don’t end up out on the street. She knows one wrong move and they could lose everything. When she meets Chapman Woolfe, she knows she’s not the only one fighting to stay in the light. Chapman is a boy surrounded by monsters that wear masks of the people he thought he knew. Together, Aris and Chapman discover the world these monsters created and its origin is a lot closer to home than they realize. Can these two teenagers find their way out before the darkness swallows them whole? 
CW: Drug & alcohol abuse, and family violence.

About the Author
Melissa Groeling didn’t know she had an accent until she moved from New Jersey to Philadelphia. She thought everyone spoke the same way, called things by the same name…that is, until she got into her first debate with a Pennsylvanian over a “sub” or a “hoagie.” This soon led to other debates: jimmies versus sprinkles. Pork roll versus Taylor ham. It all became quite the struggle, a fight not to conform. Boldly trekking onwards, she knew she preferred a sub, sprinkles on her ice cream and Taylor ham for breakfast. So she kept at it, much like her writing. Drop her line sometime. She’ll happily talk to you about tea (oh yes, she’s a tea drinker off-set only by those fancy-shmancy mochas from Starbucks), the New York Giants (a die-hard fan), chocolate (the dark kind, thanks), and cupcake recipes, because really, without icing, the world is just a muffin.
Book Tour Schedule 
August 28th  
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August 31st  
September 1st 
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Friday, August 25, 2023

5 Sheep Book Reveiw: Haunted Inns and Hotels of Virginia by Susan Schwartz + giveaway

Virginia's long history and many beauties attract millions of visitors each year; however, some never leave.

Haunted Inns and Hotels of Virginia

by Susan Schwartz
August 21, 2023
Genre: Paranormal, Ghost Stories, Travel
Virginia's long history and many beauties attract millions of visitors each year--and some never leave.

With some of the oldest inns in the country, Virginia has a multitude of options for travelers to sleep among the spirits. The historic Cavalier Hotel is haunted by the ghost of Adolph Coors, the beer magnate. Market Square Tavern is one of the original buildings in Williamsburg, and has some of the oldest haunts--including, possibly, Thomas Jefferson. The spirit of Mary Hooker still watches over her beloved home at King George's Bell Grove Plantation. The family of the former owner of Natural Bridge Hotel are said to still walk the halls of historic building--after he killed them.

Plan a ghostly journey along Virginia's byways with author and paranormal expert Susan Schwartz.

Besides having some of the oldest inns in the country, there are also bed and breakfasts and hotels in Virginia. Plus, many have a bonus—they’re haunted! They covered the Cavalier Hotel, which began in the 20s, and where many well-known people have stayed there then, in modern times, all that has developed into many spirits. Many others included the Natural Bridge Hotel, Market Square Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, Bell Grove Plantation B&B in King George, Edgewood Plantation B&B (I can attest to this place’s haunts-I investigated there twice), Linden Row Inn in Richmond, Mary Washington Inn and Spa, and so many more. If you enjoy ghost stories as an armchair investigator or want to find places to stay and experience some chills for yourself, this book will give it to you.

Fall is coming, and Halloween not far behind, with Christmas and winter waiting in the wings, this is a good time of the year to dig into some true ghost tales, maybe even find a place for you to stay the next time you are in any part of Virginia. Just be sure to read with the light on…

I gave Haunted Inns and Hotels of Virginia 5 haunted sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela Kinney

Starting in Virginia Beach, Adolph Coors still checks on weddings at the Cavalier Hotel to make sure they are using his beverages. Down the street from one of the B&Bs, there is a building with a tombstone step. One mother decided to linger after death to watch over her daughter’s B&B. Fort Monroe is filled with many tales of spooky happenings, involving Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, and Edgar Allan Poe. Colonial Williamsburg ghosts like to turn on faucets, knock clothes off hangers, and strip the sheets off the beds. A deceased owner is still giving decorating advice in Mineral. There is a little boy named Jacob at Belle Grove Plantation who loves to play with balls and hide spoons from the owners. Hessian soldiers still go through their paces in Charlottesville. An orb was spotted on a staircase in Nelson. A called off wedding left one bride to die of heartbreak. Beautiful violin music is heard at the The Martha Washington Inn. Take a trip with me across Virginia and maybe discover an extra guest you didn’t realize was present.

About the Author:

I have been an avid writer for around 25+ years doing everything from writing freelance articles to editing manuscripts for other authors. I also love to write horror stories that have a twist at the end.

My alter ego is an Operating Room Nurse/Nurse Educator who loves creating tales from the interesting and weird things I have seen. I am a member of the Horror Writers Association and the Virginia Writers Club where I have served as President of the Richmond Chapter and 1st Vice-President of the state organization. I have two novels in the works, a paranormal romance and a medical thriller. My non-fiction book, Haunted Charlottesville, was released in May 2019. Another paranormal book, Haunted Inns and Hotels in Virginia, will be released August 2023.

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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Book Review: Total Eclipse of the Moon (The Crown’s Wolves, #3) by Zoe Forward + giveaway

Total Eclipse of the Moon (The Crown’s Wolves, #3)

by Zoe Forward
August 21st 2023
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
If he doesn’t break the curse tying him and his brothers to the Crown of England as paranormal terrorist hunters, they’ll be forced to execute him.

An accidental demon possession erodes Shane Lanzo’s sanity. Sometimes he’s in control. Sometimes not. His only hope is the witch who cast the curse, which is a problem. The last two times he approached her, the feisty enchantress somehow tamed the demon inside him, but rendered him useless against his desire for her.

Madeline Edney sucks at being a witch. Her casting the curse on the lycan brothers was a fluke, and it destroyed her life. She’s been hunted by the Crown ever since to make sure she doesn’t try to undo the curse. She never expected Shane to find her so easily. He’s a temptation that promises zinger chemistry, her absolute weakness. One taste was gratifying. Two was foolish. Three has become an addiction. Lifting the curse requires she forfeit her life, but if the hunters kill her, it leaves Shane at the mercy of the Crown. Either way she dies.

Shane has a choice: freedom for his family, risking Madeline in the process or a chance at happiness with the witch who fated his brothers as prisoners for eternity.

Zoe Forward has done it again! What a book! So much drama, so much banter, so much action. What a fun ride. From start to finish, this one hits all the spots.

I've really enjoyed the works from this author to date. Some people just have a knack for writing an entertaining story, and this author is one of those. The characters she creates are both enduring and so believable I find myself dreaming about them at night. Very tangible. Zoe makes me want to jump right into her world and swim away.

What a steamy couple! Shane and Madeline are two dynamic people. They play off each other, sometimes in darker ways, adding to the overall arc of this action-adventure. I loved it, can't wait to read more in the series!

Getting 5 Stars


About the Author:
Zoe Forward might admit to you she's almost prepared for the zombie apocalypse before the fact she writes award-winning contemporary and paranormal romances. She's a board-certified veterinarian. You can ask her about your pet's problem, but be warned she's into integrative medicine so her answer might involve treatments you've never heard of. Her novels have won numerous awards including the Prism, Readers' Choice Heart of Excellence, Golden Quill, Carolyn Readers Choice Award, and the Booksellers' Best Award.
You can find her residing in the South with the love of her life, a menagerie of four-legged beasts and two wild kids.
Zoe loves to hear from her readers!
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