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LitCon 2021 Heroes and Heroines Blog Hop- Meet Sigurlina

Hello Lovelies,

Welcome back! Today I am participating in LitCon 2021 Heroes and Heroines blog hop. Let me tell you, we have some really fun stops on this tour.  I am honored to have one of the most entertaining character spotlights I have had on the blog in a while. Stephen B. Pearl has come by to introduce you to the heroine Sigurlina, he has done it in a DnD-level delightful fashion! But let me just get out of the way and let him introduce you!

 

This character sheet is taken from Dead Man’s Blade a gaming module for the Fate of the Norns Ragnarök RPG. Dead Man’s Blade is based on the first half of the novel, Horn of the Kraken, a Norse historical fantasy adventure by Stephen B. Pearl. Just a note, FOTNR uses Runes as its play medium instead of dice. Dead Man’s Blade was co-authored by Stephen B. Pearl and James Kerr

 

To buy Horn of the Kraken: https://www.drivethrufiction.com/product/151000/Horn-of-the-Kraken

For Fate of the Norns Products: https://www.fateofthenorns.com/WP/

Fate of the Norns Ragnarök RPG developed by Andrew Valkauskas

Thanks for reading,

 

 

Not gonna lie, I next-level adore Sigurlina, but believe me when I say there is so much more fun to be had! Check out the other amazing stops:

Stop 2 Meet Derek who sees dead people

Stop 3 Meet THYA, a prophesied saviour to her kinsmen

Stop 4 meet Othrun of A Drowned Kingdom

Stop 5, Meet Fury and Havoc of the Hunters Saga

 

And don’t miss out on all the other cool Fantasy events happening at Litcon 2021

What is your favorite event so far? Let us know in the comments below!

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Meet the Cheshire Cat from Joshua Pantalleresco’s Alice Zero

Cheshire Cat

Hello Lovelies,

Some of you may remember not that long ago we had Joshua on the blog to share about Cloud Diver. Well, he is back with an exciting new book and delightful new takes on classic characters. Come with us to meet The Cheshire Cat from Alice Zero.

Grin with me, won’t you? I have a question for you. Do you know who I am?

I’m the last hope.

It’s a cruel joke I know. When Alice opened up the box, all the darkness in the world shrouded Wonderland for all eternity until the mantle of the kingdom cracked and scattered across the multiverse. When all that darkness and madness and chaos left, only I remained.

When I saw this broken, shattered girl swallowed in the shadows, I smiled. I had found a new adventure to observe. A new rabbit to devour in the course of the journey.

Alice’s head is an empty space. Well, that’s not quite right. They shrouded her thoughts and mind in darkness. They want her to forget you see. Because as long as she doesn’t remember, more darkness and strife can infect all the worlds out there. I could do something to speed it along, but you see, much like my darling Alice, I too am curious.

What will happen next?

Because with me there is truly no hope. I’m not a hero. I’m more an observer. The mere sight of mayhem and pandemonium makes me stretch out my claws in contentment. I love disorder and disharmony and the universe is all those things. It is sick and confused and is looking for a cure to this madness.

Did the world know who I was?

I whisper here and there, telling Alice things, pushing her, poking her. She still doesn’t remember her name after all this time. I’m tempted to tell her. But would it make my game end all too soon? No. Better she discover that for herself. Because when she learns that she will find that there is more to her.

I almost didn’t believe that about her myself. At first I thought she was nothing more than my plaything. A piece of yarn to roll around with my claws. Or maybe even a mouse to bat around until it’s time to play. A juicy treat waiting for the right time and place to expire.

Then I saw that I wasn’t the only thing she was carrying inside her. The box had nestled itself in her soul. Every once in a while it opened and something comes from that nothing. It filled me with fear and wonder. I’ve not been afraid in such a long time. I thought I knew everything.

I wasn’t the last thing in the box. If I’m not the last hope, who am I?

And who indeed was my host whose head I occupied? Whoever she was, she was not a toy, but rather a puzzle. A game to watch play to its conclusion. No longer a game, but an answer I need to know.

Alice is the wild card of the whole story. She could save the world, or destroy it. If she ever figured out who she was.

Would she?

Perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps, I understand exactly who I am and what my purpose is. We all need purpose in this life do we not? My own confusion on the things I’ve seen. Perhaps my imagination? I get a front row seat, adding my own little bits of chaos to this fascinating tale.

My brand of mischief keeps the story on tilt. I’m not sure I’ll ever want it to end.  All stories get told at some point. But what I want more than anything is to make sure my mark is felt. My little bits of discord add their own disharmony to whatever symphony is being played. You can’t appreciate light without shadow.

I am the shadow. There has to be a reason I was in there too right? There always is a method to madness.

After all, I know who I am. Don’t I?

I’m your only hope.

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Character Spotlight: Chester the Zombie Mobster from Cloud Diver

Chester the Zombie Mobster

We here at VoidLife Live welcome a supporting character from Joshua Pantalleresco’s and Lance Buan’s series the Cloud Diver.  He is the personable, the cuddly, the one of a kind zombie mobster you will come to know and love…Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you…Chester!

Interviewer: Welcome to the interview Mr…umm…what’s your last name Chester?

Chester shrugs.: Brains.

Interviewer: You’re last name is brains?

Chester: Brains!

Interviewer: Brains? Is that all you can say?

Chester sighs : brains.

Interviewer: Well fu —

Technical Difficulties.  Please standby.

Interviewer: Let’s try this again. I’m with Chester, and his good friend um…

Adam: Just call me Adam.

Interviewer: Adam…

Adam: …it’s best we don’t know each other’s full names. Pleading the fifth and all that.

Interviewer: I see. Am I interviewing you?

Adam: No. No. Chester is more than capable of providing a compelling interview.

Chester nods : Brains!

Adam: Absolutely Chester.  You are the man for the job.

Interviewer: So…you can understand him?

Adam: Not word for word per se, but when you associate yourself with someone for a long time, you come to understand their subtle quirks. Chester and I, we’re like brothers.  We’ve been through thick and thin together.

Chester: BRAINS!

Adam: Chester, what did I say about speaking in spanish?

Chester: brains.

Interviewer: But he just said…

Adam: Do you understand him?

Interviewer: Well, No, But…

Chester gestures at Adam with just a touch of confusion : Brains?

Adam: I know, you’re excited.  Remember, these people just don’t understand.

Chester sighs : Brains.

Interviewer: Okay then.  Um…Mr. Adam?

Adam: I like that!  Yes?

Interviewer: Should I direct my questions to Mr. Chester and you’ll translate then?

Chester shrugs: brains.

Adam: Absolutely. Amazingly astute Chester.

Chester smiles: Brains.

Interviewer: Okay then…um…Chester? Viewers want to know if you are a nice zombie.

Adam: A nice zombie?

Chester: Brains?

Adam: I am just as confused Chester.  Let the interviewer elaborate.

Interviewer: Well um…good sirs, it’s just that zombies very often in fiction are mindless, merciless killing machines. There isn’t usually much more to them than that.  Chester clearly has intelligence. But we want to know a little more about his personality.

Chester tilts head : Brrrrains?

Adam: No, Chester. They are being genuine. Hmm…I must admit, that this is a perplexing question to us.  We tend to be involved in some of the quieter work for our company.

Chester: Brains.

Adam: So things such as niceness are…quaint for us. But Chester is impressed you recognize his intelligence. He is so much more than an employee of our establishment.

Chester: BRRAAIIINSS!

Adam: What did I say about Spanish Chester?

Chester clears throat: Brraaaiinns!

Adam: Much better!

Interview: So not necessarily nice.  So what’s a day in a life of a zombie?

Chester: brains…

Adam: We can’t get into that.  We signed non disclosure agreements.

Interviewer: I see. Hobbies?

Chester: brrrains.

Adam: I didn’t know you did that.

Chester: Brains.

Adam: Well, you do learn something new every day.

Interviewer: What just happened?

Adam: As for myself, I am a full time dad at home.  I keep my little princess occupied.

Interviewer: You have a daughter?

Chester sigh: brains.

Adam: She’s the cutest little thing on the planet.  Not the greatest with pets, but overachieves at everything she does!  I’m so proud of her! Want to see a picture?

Chester: Brainnnnnnns.

Interviewer: I agree with Chester.  We need to move the interview along. I’m sure your daughter is nice…

Adam: My treasure.

Chester: …brains…

Interviewer: Chester is the subject here.  I have two more questions.  Are you um…dead?

Chester: Brains?

Interviewer: You know, zombies are usually…um…how do I delicately put this?  Dead?

Chester: Brains!

Adam: Why did you ask him that?

Interviewer: Isn’t he dead though?

Adam: No!

Chester: …brains…

Adam: There, there buddy.  I got your back on this. Does Chester look dead?

Interviewer: No…

Adam: Then why are you asking such stupid questions?!  Never mind.  This interview is over.  Chester?

Chester: Brainsss?

Adam: Let’s go.  We have our six o’clock appointment.

Chester salutes: Brains!

Both gentlemen leave the booth, leaving us dear viewers unsure of what just happened.  I guess we learned not to assume anything.  Zombies can be like any other person.  Some are nice, and some are not so nice. We need to converse and communicate before we label them all merciless, or undead.  Kindness is the key of moving forward in this world.

We at Voidlife thank Adam and Chester for their time. Maybe it’s best it ended here.  We still don’t know Chester’s hobbies. Or what that six o’clock appointment was, but at the very least, we hope you the viewer have been entertained.

Want to learn more about Chester, Adam, and Voidlife?

Take a peek inside the cyberpunk adventure Cloud Diver today

How’s this: Johnny Wheeler was perfectly happy being a diver in Void Life. One fateful day doing his job in cyberspace he ends up finding a secret floor in the tower, and finds a woman with a Gunblade walking towards an ancient storage system known as the cloud. Johnny follows her and gets a file that everyone from zombie mobsters to unicorns that farts rainbows are after. Johnny’s only escape from this adventure business is that girl with the Gunblade (who may or may not like him very much.)

Cloud Diver is available for pre-order for $2.99 through May 16th. Grab your copy today.

Until Next Time,

Keep Reading!

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Character Spotlight- Gail Carr Johnson of Kindred- Birthrite Series II

Character Spotlight- Gail Carr Johnson

Hello Lovelies, 

We have a real treat for you today. We get to meet Gail from Tiffany Apan’s Birthrite series. This series is Dark Fantasy/Historical/ Supernatural/Gothic Horror and Romance. 

Gotta Love Gail​​ 

Gail Carr (or Gail Carr Johnson as she has become in Kindred, The Birthrite, #2) ) was born in Plains, New York in the summer of 1913 as the daughter of Alan Carr and Janina Carr (nee, Calabrese). Her father is of German/Scottish descent, and her mother Persian/Italian. Gail also has two older brothers, Lorenzo and Rory.

Gail spent much of her childhood in the town of her birth, having grown up playing with her two best friends, Linda Parker and Dorothy Blake. Out of the three girls, Gail is the most outspoken. She is not one to shy away from discussing politics, subjects like women’s issues, and just simply stating her opinion, especially if it’s on a topic she feels strongly about. She is the polar opposite from the more soft and high maintenance Linda and while she does share more common ground with Dorothy when it comes to their interests and stances on certain topics, Gail’s personality opposes Dorothy’s more reserved one. Her favorite colors are red and merlot (much of her attire, makeup, and room décor reflects the more bold colors).

​​During her junior year of high school, Gail started going with one of her classmates, Reginald Johnson, a handsome young man who shares much of her interests and opinions. Because of this, the two are very compatible with one another.


In Descent (The Birthrite, #1), Gail and Reginald seem to be the glue holding the group together whileeverything around them falls apart. They remain a source of solidarity until the very end, though shortly after the events of Descent, Reginald notices a change within the girl he loves. While he understands the reasons behind her shift in personality, he worries for her and worries for the future of their relationship, though that doesn’t stop him from proposing marriage on Valentine’s Day of 1932 (this happens in Made in Heaven: A Birthrite Series Short).


In Kindred, Reginald and Gail try their best at settling into married life, even maintaining communication with Dorothy’s cousin, Cletus. But life experience and marriage can sometimes change things, and Gail continues to spiral into a state where she is not herself at all… Here is a taste from Kindred, so you can get to know Gail a bit better. 

INTERLUDEA CHILD’S NIGHTMARE

October 25, 1831
The boy stirred, still half asleep as faint whispers drifted close to where he lay. One of voice stood out among the rest, calling to him, drawing nearer until it was as loud as a clap of thunder. He awoke with a start, sitting up and staring into the inky black as the voices ceased. Taking in deep breaths, he felt the chill in the still quiet. When his eyes adjusted, he averted his gaze toward the floor. He knew what was downstairs and who was laid out in the parlor. Slowly, the boy climbed out of bed, his bare feet touching the cold wood floor. Shivering, he considered lighting a candle. At least it would add a little cheer. But he recalled his parents saying something about the current shortage on rather expensive wax. Thus, he braved the darkness.

​​ Drawing in a breath, he moved through the second floor of the house, feeling an outside force pulling him toward the stairs. He descended, continuing his steps until reaching the parlor. He approached the chaise on which his older brother was laid out. The boy’s vaporized breath was visible as he leaned over the young man’s corpse. As the child stared down at the dead twenty-one-year-old, the whispering started again. He turned around to see a shadow rise from the floor in a far corner of the room. The boy trembled as the dark mass increased in size.A rustling from behind broke his stare. Slowly, he turned to see his brother, rising to sit with eyes wide open. The boy was paralyzed with fright as the young man’s head slowly turned to face him. The corpse pointed to the corner in the room from where the shadow was rising. Then the boy’s brother’s jaw dropped, letting out a horrifying, choked scream…
…The little boy sat bolt upright up in bed, frantically looking about the cold dark room. Letting out a shaking breath, he willed himself to remain calm. His thoughts immediately went to his brother, who was now at seminary. Bewilderment filled him as he wondered of the reasons for having such a terrifying dream. As far as he knew, his brother was not at all ill and was doing well in training for the priesthood. He was about to graduate, among the best in his class.

The young one laid back down, but found it impossible to shake the remaining dread. For as long as the two were able to recall, he and his brother both experienced prophetic dreams. He hoped that this dream was merely symbolic of something other than the horror that it showed. Perhaps by joining the priesthood, his brother’s former self would symbolically “die” before being reborn once he was ordained.

As the child tried to focus on keeping this in mind, a noise from behind made him freeze. His breath grew rapid as he tried moving, only to find his limbs stiff. Something was creeping up on him in the dark.

The boy shut his eyes, praying for whatever it was to disappear. In the blackness of his tightly closed eyes, a landscape appeared before him, one engulfed in purple light. He also had a feeling of being pursued.Finally, the scene disappeared and his eyes opened. His body trembled as he looked around to see who (or what) was in the room with him.There was no one else.

CHAPTER 4

Pennsylvania Railroad Station inWilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
June 22, 1933
Thursday Evening
1
The clock on top of a large, stone pillar just outside of the railroad station stated the time as five ‘o’ clock as the next train was pulling in. The locomotive came to a slow, grinding halt, waking Cletus from sleep. His vision was hazy as he glanced out the window, seeing parts of the town called Wilkes-Barre. He closed the thick copy of Les Miserables in his lap before rising to collect his small suitcase.As the other passengers filed off, the young man’s attention was once again drawn toward the window. His eyes fell to a corner that was a short distance down from the train. He wrenched slightly, squinting when he saw a tall, dark figure that seemed to be staring at the train. (staring right at the window that Cletus’s seat was next to) Cletus’s blood froze as he could feel eyes boring into him.

Disconcerting sensations crept out from his core and the figure seemed to go unnoticed by those passing it by on the sidewalk.The young man attempted to place the figure’s identity, fearing that perhaps this was Gavril, but his efforts were blocked by another vision of Plains. He had a sudden sensation of floating through the town. A blurred halo framed his vision of the Colonial and Victorian homes lining the street. We could easily drive out there…Such thoughts were seeping into every corner of his mind, beckoning, placing him into a more deeply lulled and hypnotized state…“Are you all right?”Like a splash of ice water, awareness hit him. The question that shook him from his trance was spoken by a rather pleasing voice. Cletus averted his gaze from the window to find a rather attractive young lady gazing at him. Her eyes reflected concern…and slight flirtatiousness. The remaining sunlight filtering in through the windows gave her light brown hair a lovely sheen, and her deep blue eyes were set off by the blouse she wore.Cletus inhaled. “Yeah…yeah I’m fine. Just a little tired from traveling. Thanks.” He motioned for her to go on ahead of him. When she did, he took another glance out the window, jolting slightly upon seeing that the figure was gone. After taking a second to collect himself, he started down the aisle after her.Upon reaching the door, the girl faced him again. “Can I ask where you’re coming from?”His heart pounded. “Dayton, Ohio.””Oh, do you have family out here?””Uh, yeah. Friends, actually. And a distant cousin.””You’re visiting.”He nodded.Rather awkward silence passed between the two as they stepped onto the stone walkway. As new passengers boarded the train, he tried ignoring her sideways glances at him.”My name is Christina,” she offered. “I’m actually from Delaware, but I’m moving because of a new job. I was recently hired as a hospital receptionist. I’m not too terribly thrilled about leaving my family behind, but I suppose we should all be grateful for any employment these days.””Yeah, definitely.””I do have to stay in town overnight,” she continued (obviously not willing to allow them to go their separate ways), “and then I board a train to New York. Plains, to be exact.”Cletus flinched upon hearing the town’s name. A vision of the old Blake house on Muholland materialized before him, causing him to pause once more.”Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked, again returning him to the present.”Oh, yeah…yeah. Just a bit of lag…”She smiled. “Well, I ‘m famished. Train food isn’t exactly what I would call appetizing. Or suitable for human consumption.”He allowed her a slight grin. “You’re right about that.”Her sapphire eyes reflected a sort of coyness. “I was planning on getting something to eat. I hear there are a few good diners in these parts.”Cletus’s stomach flipped as he regarded this young woman called Christina. While his ability to read people was not as strong as Dorothy’s, he could easily see that this girl had hopes in him offering to come with her.His blood raced as he knew that if his buddies, Patrick, Rob, and Grant, were here, they would be urging him to accept her invitation, calling him crazy if he didn’t. And if one thought on it, there was no reason for him not to. This young woman was attractive and seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. I could invite her along with Reg, Gail, and I…or at least get the number to where she’s staying… But as it had been with other girls that briefly entered his life, he knew nothing would ever happen with Christina. Because Christina was not her.(It’s a blessing and a curse)Finally, Cletus cleared his throat. “Well, good luck with everything. I’m sure you’ll do well. My friends are waiting for me here so I gotta run and I have to make sure I phone my girlfriend before it gets too late. But it was nice meeting you, Christina.”He turned away, never looking back as he felt her crestfallen gaze. He also tried shaking away the foolish feeling he had over the excuse of phoning a girlfriend that did not exist.Sure enough, not too far away, Reginald and Gail waited for him. Relief filled Cletus as he smiled and waved to his friends.Reginald grinned. “We were starting to wonder if you backed out.”Cletus quickened his pace as he approached the couple and shook hands with Reginald. “Sorry. I dozed off on the train and it took me a little while to wake up.””Yeah, well we actually did see you get off but didn’t want to interrupt.” Reginald winked. “Looked like you were making a new friend.”Cletus’s eyes shifted nervously toward no place in particular. “Oh…that was nothing much. Just small talk.” He anticipated telling them of the Gypsy girl at some point during this trip.”Well in that case,” Gail said, “I can see even more family resemblance between you and Dorothy. I think you broke the poor girl’s heart. How was the train ride?” She gave her girlfriend’s cousin a brief hug.”Long,” Cletus replied. He parted from Gail and the three started toward the Johnsons’ car. “Nothing but cows and fields as far as the eye could see.”Reginald laughed. “How exciting. No wonder you fell asleep.”“Yeah, not even Victor Hugo could keep me awake,” Cletus said grinning.“That’s pretty bad,” Gail said.Upon arriving at the car, Reginald opened the trunk for Cletus to set his suitcase and book in before going to get the passenger door for his wife.As Cletus settled into the back seat, and Reginald and Gail in the front, a brief moment of melancholy crept among the three. It was especially evident when Reginald glanced back at Cletus through the rearview mirror. There was something in the other young man’s eyes, and that same energy radiated from Gail.In an instant, the moment was broken and Reginald started the car, pulling out of the station parking area and onto the road. The silence between the three was broken when the young man in the drivers’ seat asked, “How’s life in Ohio?””Well, as I said in my last letter, I’m still working a lot,” Cletus replied. “Trying to help mom and dad with expenses and such, along with saving up for my own car and place.”Reginald sighed. “I completely understand. It took me a good year to save up for the vehicle I have now. By the way, we tried making the couch as comfortable as possible. You’re absolutely sure you don’t want our room? It’s still up for grabs.””Oh, I’m positive. Thank you, though,” Cletus replied. “The couch will be fine.””Well, if you change your mind, let us know. As of this moment, we can only afford a one-bedroom apartment. Hopefully that will change, but with the economy being the way it is, we can only play it by ear.””It gets especially interesting when our families come to visit,” Gail added. “Someone always ends up on the floor.””Yeah, and that someone is me,” Reginald said dryly. “Of course we allow anyone visiting use of our bedroom. Gail gets the couch and I’m on the luxuriously comfortable floor.””My man is a tough sheik,” Gail said, leaning in to kiss her husband’s cheek.”And this tough sheik’s back is always screaming at him the next morning,” Reginald quipped.Gail’s dark eyes regarded Reginald, as if to say, and you know I always take care of that later.Cletus watched the couple as images of the young Romany woman from his dreams entered. He thought of Christina back at the station, feeling guilt over dismissing her in such a way. He also nearly laughed out loud over telling her of a girlfriend that didn’t exist (at least not in the physical realm…). But leading her on wouldn’t be right either. Somehow, some way soon, he and this Romani girl were supposed to meet. Just how, he was unsure, but eventually it would happen.Cletus’s thoughts were interrupted when Gail turned around in her seat.  “There are a couple more sights we’d like to show you while you’re here,” she said. “Also, we still attend Mass on Sundays if you would like to join us.”Cletus raised his eyebrows. “We? You mean you’re taking the plunge and joining the fold, Reg?”Reginald shrugged. “I’m considering it. Staying in touch with Father Louis has been a huge help, if you know what I mean.”Cletus did know.In that moment, he saw Plains once again in his mind’s eye. Visions of the library with the painted portrait of its founder, James Livingston, life-like and staring back at him. The scene shifted, and Cletus was shown his cousin’s old, now vacant home before being taken to Gregory the Great Church. He could see Father Louis seated inside his chamber, reading over what appeared to be documents of great importance. Within seconds, the vision dissipated into the air and he could see Gail looking back at him, her brown eyes inquisitive.Cletus nodded as if to reassure her that all was well. Of course, the three knew better, and Cletus found the wistful expression in her eyes rather disconcerting. She seemed to force it away, allowing her old brazen self to return.”On the way to Tahatan’s,” she said, “we pass though Elmhurst. There is a beautiful set of Gothic buildings inhabited by an order of monks. Maybe we can stop and have a look tomorrow.”Cletus nodded. “I’d like that.””I do think the architecture would be of great interest to you,” Reginald added. “But in the meantime, who wants to grab a bite to eat?””I wouldn’t mind,” Gail replied.”Me neither, “Cletus said. “I could definitely go for a burger.”Reginald grinned. “It’s settled then.”Within a few minutes, the car pulled up beside Mildred’s Diner where they had eaten during Cletus’s last visit.During their time inside the restaurant, the group discussed college, jobs, and other aspects of their lives not related to the events experienced two Novembers ago. All three chose to avoid what needed discussed in favor of a few sweet moments of normalcy.Normalcy that they knew would not last.

2

It was close to midnight when Reginald and Gail retreated to their bedroom, once more offering their guest accommodations better than the couch. As before, Cletus politely declined and proceeded to make himself comfortable.This isn’t so bad, he thought, settling back and gazing toward the ceiling, recounting the evening’s events.It was a little after seven ‘o’ clock when the three left the diner and arrived at the Johnsons’ apartment. They stayed in the sitting area for about four hours more, conversing into the night, touching briefly on what would be discussed at Tahatan’s, though underlying dread over delving back into the devastating events was ever present. Now alone in the dark, Cletus decided to not dwell on such things for at least that time. This included the mysterious figure from the railroad station (which he also refrained from telling his two friends…at least for now, he told himself).His eyes started adjusting and looked out to the moon hanging in the sky. He could hear noises on the street below and was reminded of how different this area was from his rural life in Ohio.His mind started wandering and his eyes grew heavy. Suddenly he was drifting over a large field where two little boys, one with dark hair and the other fair, played. He had seen these two children several times in recent years after falling into sleep. The boys were running around with a ball and oblivious to the hooded figure standing at the edge of a distant forest. Beside the cloaked individual was a young man dressed in the nineteenth century attire of a peasant or slave.As Cletus drew closer, he could see the young man’s dark complexion and wavy black hair that reached the collar of his shirt. He felt a certain kinship, and – after getting close enough to see his features – knew who he was.Nicolae… Cletus could place some physical resemblance between the Romany slave and Dorothy’s friend Jimmy.When he turned back toward the two little boys, they vanished before his eyes and the scene shifted from day into night. The field around him disappeared and Cletus found himself on a dark, deserted road. Up ahead was a sign. He ran toward it, the balmy wind blowing back his clothes and hair. His steps slowed as he felt the cold, rough pavement beneath his feet. The moon illuminated the street sign, seeming to specifically cast its glow for the young man to read the letters etched into the wood:Hunters HighwayAbove that sign, two connected arrows pointed in directions opposing one another. The top one read Stone Creek and the bottom, Pinewoods. Both towns where 25 miles from where he stood.He gasped at the familiarity of the town names and felt a draw toward the latter. But when his eyes snapped open, he was back on the couch in the apartment.He turned back over to face the window, and his insides jolted upon seeing a face appear just outside the glass pane. He sat up, only to have the shape vanish.Cletus tried forming a rational explanation for what he saw, but it was a futile attempt. Chills enveloped his body as he glanced about the dark room. Faint whispers seeped in through the walls. Frozen to where he sat, he tried making out what was being said, but the words proved inaudible.As his body gained mobility, he considered heading to Reginald and Gail’s bedroom, but couldn’t move quickly enough, as though he were fighting his way through quicksand.Eventually, the whispers faded out and the air was overtaken by the distant sounds of a piano playing a familiar piece by the composer DeBussy.The song to the moon…To his relief, Cletus’s movement became more fluid and he was able to rise from the couch. He flinched when his foot touched an icy wood floor.His eyes darted about and breath hitched when he saw the property of the Fleming Orphanage surrounding him. The summer breeze turned into a crisp, autumn chill as the song flowed with the wind that carried it. Leaves fell from their branches, blanketing the ground, seeming to undulate with the notes being played.He was compelled toward the woods, feeling Dorothy’s presence and the grave danger she was in by being here. Confused and disoriented, he looked around, calling out to her, but she was nowhere in sight.His voice was getting lost in the wind stirring up as it carried DeBussy’s song. The woods and empty buildings of the former orphanage took on menacing shapes, as if they were alive and mocking him. Every fiber of his being wrenched when he heard a distant howling from somewhere in the woods. His breath grew rapid as his lungs took in the icy air. The song to the moon faded and the sound of someone humming another familiar tune took over. All the Pretty Little Horses…Cletus tried moving in the direction of the hill, knowing that it would take him away from the property, but the wind increased in strength and invisible arms seemed to hold him back. He heard the howling again, only this time, it was much closer, sounding unlike any animal he knew of. A foul stench started crawling out from the buildings as the windows radiated a deep red glow.(Like blood…)The glow pulsed, spreading throughout the property as the stench of death and decomposition engulfed him. His body stiffened upon hearing a bloodthirsty growl closing in behind him.He tried to run, but his feet were planted to the earth. He could sense it inching closer, crunching over the cold, drying leaves. The creature’s rancid breath assaulted his nostrils before it let out a deafening roar. Then the creature pounced, pummeling the young man forward…


3
Friday morning
June 24


…Cletus was jarred awake, relieved to find himself back in Reginald and Gail’s sitting area as early dawn filtered in through the window. He sat up, glancing about his surroundings and seeing that he was on the floor with the blanket tangled around him. His temples throbbed as he looked back toward the couch. Rising to stand, he untangled the blanket.As he started toward the couch, he caught a glimpse at his feet, stopping short upon seeing traces of dirt caking his skin.Blood raced in his ears as he tried coming up with an explanation for why this would be. Maybe Gail isn’t a very good housekeeper… But a look around the small apartment suggested otherwise.Cletus sat down, leaning back on the couch and running a hand through the dark strands of his hair. He attempted to decipher his dream, trying to hang onto the details, but most of it was fading from memory.Frustrated, he folded up the blanket and placed it neatly over the pillow resting against the arm of the couch. Then with a final glance at the morning sunrise, he forced himself toward the washroom.


4

Cold water rained from the shower head, fully waking him from remaining remnants of his troubled slumber. Trying to maintain a sense of calm, Cletus hurried to finish showering, shut off the water, and started drying off. After wrapping the towel around his waist, he stepped over the tub rim and started to dress.While buttoning his shirt, he heard someone exit Reginald and Gail’s bedroom. Intent on allowing the other two access to the washroom as soon as possible, he glanced in the mirror once more to check his appearance. A rather unnatural glint in the glass caused him to take a step backward. In an instant, the small flash disappeared.His heart pounded as he glanced around, trying to identify a possible light source. Chills rose on his arms upon the reminder of the room being windowless.In a flash, the Fleming Orphanage appeared before him, an image accompanied by a sensation of floating. He found himself moving passed the main building toward another on the property until going through a front entrance. He passed by what looked to be a large dining area before being taken up four sets of dark staircases. Finally, he reached the fourth floor, and continued down the corridor. When he came to a stop, he was in front of a room with a certain set of numbers nailed into the door.410…The sound of knocking wrenched him, and the interior of the orphanage disappeared.”Cletus?” Reginald’s voice spoke from the other side of the washroom door.”Yeah…” Cletus whirled around, struggling to keep his voice steady.”Everything all right in there?””Yeah…yeah, I’m on my way out.”Drawing in a breath and steadying himself, Cletus opened the door to see the other young man standing in the small hallway, wearing a robe over his pajamas.“Sorry,” Cletus stammered.The left corner of Reginald’s mouth quirked. “It’s fine. I just didn’t want to barge in. No need to make this visit awkward.”Gail emerged from the bedroom, wearing a red satin robe and holding a towel. “Did you guys want me to start coffee before I hop in the shower?” she asked.Reginald kissed his wife’s cheek. “I’ll do that. You go ahead and get yourself ready.”Her dark eyes held her husband’s light ones for a moment. Cletus could see the love that the two had for one another and while he tried to not stare, he couldn’t help noticing something that seemed to be brewing below the surface.Cletus looked away.”Thank you, my love,” Gail said, a hint of humor in her voice. She smiled at her friend’s cousin, moving passed him and retreating to the washroom.Once she was inside, Reginald motioned for Cletus to follow him to the small kitchen. The former started making coffee, filling the apartment with the liquid’s aroma.Noticing that conflicted look once again in the light-haired man’s eyes, Cletus blurted out, “Something eatin’ you?”Reginald’s eyes widened, blinking rapidly before his features relaxed.”I’m sorry,” Cletus stammered. “I shouldn’t have said anything.”Reginald held up a hand. “No, no, it’s fine.””Well…can I ask what’s wrong?”Reginald drew in a breath. “Actually, I probably should talk about it. I haven’t discussed it with anyone and it is eating me up. I haven’t even brought it up to Gail.” He paused. “Actually…that’s not entirely true…we have discussed…””What?”Reginald paused, regarding the other young man for a moment before replying, “Having a baby.””Oh…”Reginald dropped his voice. “I want us to.”Both young men were silent upon hearing the shower shut off.”Really?” Cletus’s voice was just above a whisper. “Well that’s wonderful.” Reginald sighed and smiled slightly. The two young men remained silent as the washroom door opened. Gail’s footsteps hurried toward the bedroom and the door shut.After being certain that she was out of earshot, Cletus asked, “What’s the problem?”Reginald shifted, reflecting a sort of guilt. “Gail wants to wait a couple of years and I understand her reasons. She wants us to be in a better place financially. So far, we’ve been careful and always take necessary precautions to avoid…” He paused, the inner conflict increasing by the second. “She also wants more time using her aviators license…which, I admit, worries me.””I thought you were happy for her.””Oh I am, don’t get me wrong. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have concerns. I mean, one small mishap and…” He swallowed, his eyes moving downward as his anguish over what could go wrong in a plane visibly heightened.As Cletus watched the other young man, an image of the Romany girl flashed through every part of his being before fading into one of Jimmy and Linda. Jimmy was still heavily scarred from his time in Hell but continuing to make progress in his long recovery. He was seated beside Linda, just outside of a large, elegant, though rustic, building. Her head rested on his shoulder and his arms embraced her as the couple watched a small, dark-haired little girl toddling around in front of them.As the image left, Cletus studied Reginald once more and said, “I’m sure you two will work something out.”Reginald sighed. “I know. Compromise, right? It comes with being married. Besides, if this is the most conflict she and I have had so far, I guess things are pretty good.”Cletus started to respond but stopped when he heard the bedroom door open. Seconds later, Gail entered the kitchen, dressed and made up.She sauntered up behind her husband and playfully smacked his behind. “Your turn, sweetheart.”Reginald’s troubled expression quickly transformed into a loving smile. “Thanks, baby.” After one more sip of his coffee, he gave her temple a kiss. “When I’m done we can go to Mildred’s and grab a bite. I know it ain’t Chuck’s but it’s close enough.”Gail reached for the empty cup Reginald had left for her on the counter and poured some coffee. “Hey I’m fine with not having to cook today.” She took a sip and grinned. “No offense, Cletus.”Cletus chuckled. “None taken. I like diner food once in a while.””Well, I won’t be long,” Reginald said, and headed to the washroom, but not without regarding his wife once more.Gail’s long lashes blinked rapidly over her dark eyes as she caught her husband’s gaze. Once again, the mood seemed to take on a melancholy shift.Cletus watched the couple for another moment. As the washroom door shut behind Reginald, he turned to face the coffee pot, trying to push back the unexplained dread churning within.

Hope you enjoyed this sneak peek. Do you want to learn more about The Birthrite Series? Visit Tiffany’s website.

Take a peek inside Descent, and Sacred Atonement (book 1.5 in the Atonement Series) from Amazon today. 

Tiffany Apan is a singer/songwriter/actress/author of dark romantic fantasy fiction and award winning producer/writer. Learn more about all she has to offer at www.tiffanyapan.com

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Malpherities from Konn Lavery’s Mental Damnation

Malpherities from Konn Lavery's Mental Damnation

I have a delightful Halloween treat for you! Remember when we had Konn Lavery over for an interview? Well he is back to introduce us to one of his more delicious characters. With that, I will let him introduce you to:

Malpherities, the ghostly companion of Krista

​​ Malpherities is a ghoul who crosses between the real world and in Krista’s dreams, in the realm known as Dreadweave Pass. He accompanies her throughout the novel Dream: Part 2 of Mental Damnation, informing her about the do’s and don’ts of the realm-crossing ‘gift’ as he refers to. He shrouds himself in mystery and leaves bitter remarks with everyone she encounters. He proves himself to be more of a nuisance than helpful. Despite his busyness of informing Krista of the horrors of Dreadweave Pass, today we are lucky enough to peg him down to share more about his personality, past and why he is so vague to Krista.

Malpherities, thanks for taking the time to talk with us, care to tell us a bit about yourself?

You caught me with a moment to spare, so let’s chat a bit before I have to return to Krista and her dilemmas at the High Barracks. I am a ghoul, a creature that is born from Death’s Vortex. I am able to enter and leave the afterlife as I please. I have explored many worlds in many realms throughout my lifetime.

Death’s Vortex? That sounds dangerous, what is it?

*chuckles* every mortal says a variation of that. It is an endless spiral of souls moving ever closer to the bliss of the universe.

That’s rather vague… can you tell us more?

​​ That is what it is, it is not my fault you cannot conceptualize it for what it is. What else can I say? Unless you experience the spiral, you do not truly know it for what it is.

Alright, moving on, you mentioned you have explored many worlds and realms in your life, how have you been able to do this?

Unlike mere mortals, I have mastered the ability known as “realm-crossing”. Something that you can train your mind to do with enough practice. Chances are you have heard of meditation, it is very similar to this but you are able to project yourself into another existence with the raw ability of your will. Some mortals referred to this ability as astral projection. For me, it is a way of life, not merely a projection or something you experience in your sleep.

That is an amazing feat to accomplish, did it take you a long time to be able to do this?

I’ve lived many lives with many different beings, this has been thanks to mastering the ability of realm-crossing where I can visit those that cannot be reached through the physical world, bound by distance. I have spent countless decades mastering this ability and have perfected it. Anywhere I wish to go, I can. Anyone I want to see, I will. I suppose I learned this ability while descending into the endless spiral that is Death’s Vortex. I had nothing else to do, so why not meditate on realm-crossing?

On the note of realm crossing, why have you taken such an interest in Krista?

The reptilian girl? She happens to hold the same gift, one that she denies, as do the humans in the High Barracks of Zingalg. I am simply here to guide her through the gift of realm crossing, she can cross into the afterlife by will once she knows how. Currently she does not appreciate her gift of crossing into the realm known as Dreadweave Pass. This isn’t something anyone can do, she should be embracing her ability to see what lies beyond death. That is why I have taken interest in her.

Don’t you think that realm-crossing be rather frightening to a girl?

Yes, it would be traumatizing for anyone who is not familiar with the process. That is why I am here to help guide her. Did I not explain this to you? She will deal with her emotions as she needs to and I will guide her to being self-aware of her realm-crossing abilities.
SLXLM

​​

 

Self-Aware? She doesn’t know she can cross realms?

I have told her she has this ability but she has not fully grasped this ability. This is a lot of back story that requires too much time for me to share with the likes of you. I’ll make it brief. Krista obtained her realm-crossing gift from a mark of a gatekeeper. Gatekeepers mark the innocent to cross realms and be brought to their master, the Weaver. He claims he needs the blood of the innocent for a ritual that will break the prison that restrains him. This would kill Krista in the process, hence why here I am trying to help her understand the seriousness of her situation.

So you care about Krista’s wellbeing, why? Do you two have a past together?

No, we do not. I’ve been along for far longer than you and have seen the agendas at play in the afterlife with the Heavenly Kingdoms and Hell. Krista is being sucked into something she doesn’t understand, her realm-crossing gift is merely scraping the surface of what she has to deal with. I am merely dealing with the collateral damage of the Weaver and the gods’ ill foresight of their choices.

Gods’ ill foresight, the Weaver’s damage, wait what?

Look, our chat has been a relief from my current affairs with Krista but I must go now. I can sense her wakening from her sleep and I must confront her before she gets herself involved with too many of the unnecessary affairs of the High Barracks of Zingalg. Goodbye.


It would seem that is all we have to share with you today from Malpherities. If you want to find out more from the ghoul or to learn of Krista’s gift, visit the Mental Damnation website .

Or take a peek inside the first book Reality or the second book Dream , both available in ebook and paperback from Amazon.

Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Character Spotlight: A Vintage Camera

A vintage camera

Hello Lovelies, 

I have an exciting character spotlight for you, courtesy of horror author Stephanie Ayers, as part of the tour for her new dark stories collection, The 13: Tales of Illusory, just in time for Halloween. Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Character: A vintage camera

Tale: No Returns

Background: Possession, once lived with an Indian shaman.

Best Trait: looks good in white

Special Talent: Capturing souls

Do you have any regrets?

Just one. I wish I’d changed my film before I took those last 30 souls. It’s awfully crowded in there.

What is your worst fear?

As long as I have film, I’m indestructible. To take my film means death–to me and to the souls I possess.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

My favorite thing ever is when the soul I collect is a creative one. I can exist on several planes at once.

when an artist or writer takes that final, fatal step.

What is your least favorite thing about what you do?

I really, really hate it when they resist. I mean, don’t get me wrong- there’s nothing as exciting as claiming a soul not ready to let go, but when they are really stubborn? You aren’t going to win, you know? Just let go already.

You travel a lot. Is there one place you call home or one certain hot spot you like to linger in?

I’m a camera. I practically live in that box. I’d like to be worn around a neck again, displayed with pride. Find someplace quiet. These souls, they never stop screaming.

Would ever consider a career change?

What would I do? Collect dust on a shelf?

Oops, there’s my ride. Could you do me a favor? Could you scratch my back?

No, harder. You really gotta get in there.

Snap. Scream. Snicker.

They fall for it every time.
Love what you saw here? This is just 1 of 13 awesome tales in the compilation. Want to learn more? Take a peek inside.

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Meet Jon Braddon of thriller/ horror Snatch Girl by L.J. Kane

Meet Jon Braddon of thriller/ horror Snatch Girl

Hello Lovelies,


We’ve had a ton of fun meeting L.J. Kane and her cast of characters from Snatch Girl. We Met Ellie, and Darren. Today we get to meet Jon Braddon, the brutal and sadistic villain of the kidnap thriller/horror ‘Snatch Girl’ Let’s Welcome L.J. to tell us about this creepy character.
So, the post I didn’t want to write. A post about the savage villain of Snatch Girl, Jon Braddon, the guy who makes your skin crawl. If you’re going to be kidnapped, pray that it’s not by him…

​​ Jon Braddon is a deviant, a serial killer in the making, at the very start of his killing career. A man devoid of love and feelings, other than his own depraved desires. It took a lot out of me when writing Braddon’s scenes in Snatch Girl. I had to delve into his thoughts to understand why a man could be so brutal, savage, and so cold. It was hard putting Ellie into his lair, as I kept wanting her to be OK, to run and escape, but the story had to evolve in its own way, at its own pace, so Ellie had to suffer. And did I feel guilty!

Braddon is a man of a failed military career. Heavily built, muscular, with camouflage combats, military boots, and a psychopathic stare, a man who’s background is as dark as his soul. He’s a drug addict, so far gone that his persona is skewed to the point of deranged, and Ellie’s desperation turns to horror when she’s snatched from his lair by Darren Broderick, Braddon’s own getaway driver, and Braddon hunts them down. Even Darren doesn’t know what’s about to happen. Braddon’s obsession with knives, guns, and traps sets Ellie and Darren up for a terrifying ride, a man on the fringe of society hunting his own accomplice and the kidnap victim, with slaughter on his mind.

Can we blame his upbringing? His school life? Genetics? What turns a person into a psychopath – or are they born that way? Personally, I don’t want to delve much into his past, it was painful to bring him to life, and equally painful dragging poor Ellie through nightmare situation after situation but, surprisingly, the most horrible scenes were the easiest to write, they just flowed!

Can I write another psychological nightmare novel? Yeah, no worries!

L.J. Kane is the author of Snatch Girl, the shocking kidnap thriller/horror published in April 2017. Want to grab your copy? It’s available on Amazon. Want to learn more about L.J.’s writing? Visit her Website Want to get regular samples of what L.J? Follow her Blog 


Until next time, 

Keep Reading!

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Biker Babes of Outlaw

Character Spotlight Biker Babes of Outlaw

Hello Lovelies,

I am excited to introduct you tosome really amazing women today.

Lawless Justice. Book three of the hit MC series OUTLAW

Time for the boys to ride bitch!

Cass has just gotten out of an abusive relationship. Fed up with people walking all over her, she decides that her life has to change. Enter the Kittnz.
Now she can kick ass without remorse, get paid and serve the public at the same time.
She wished it was that easy.

These Kittnz have claws. Six empowering women that own the night.
Voted top ten of female authors of biker fiction.

“This book takes the typical tough guy biker gang, turns it into females, straps some leather and fishnets on it and goes to work kicking ass.”“If your sitting in a bar in London, and six beautiful women enter wearing black leather jackets, with a logo of a cat’s paw on the back, sit down, shut up, and behave. If you don’t, they will either hook you up, or knock you out. The Kittnz have arrived! Karina has put together a book that will keep you reading until you finish. Her story begins with the introduction of a young women into the Kittnz motorcycle club, then it gets exciting. Her characters are believable, the story flows, and the ending isn’t what you might expect. This is a great book!”

Let me introduce you to the Kittnz MC

Free on KU

“This is such a great continuation of a theme and stories. Karina Kantas has completely raised the bar on her own work. A fast pace story with strong female characters that drive the point home. You do not mess with some women. A thriller to say the least as I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next.
I would definitely recommend this work to anyone looking for a good MC thriller to read.”

“Damn Good. Karina Kantas did a wonderful job on writing this book. The ending has a twist you will never expect. I loved this book. I can’t wait to read more of this authors books.”

“Not the normal kind of book I read but Really Good. The Characters are great and keep moving with a story like you’ve not read before. Not your regular type story and not your regular ending.” Hear it from the author’s mouth.https://youtu.be/vZYfgUuImKY

“Kick ass chicks on bikes was enough to get my interest. Great writing and a good plot kept me reading. There’s nothing like empowered women ruling the night! Great story.”

 “Nothing I like better than some kick ass women and put them in leather and riding bikes awesome. Great characters and action, for me it was a quick read. Sometimes justice isn’t always served but you have the Kittnz to help with that. I liked imagining myself as one of them serving up justice and living a secret life. the ending wasn’t what I expected but it was great.”

Follow author Karina Kantas blog to read more reviews about all the OUTLAW series.

Are you intrigued? Then take a peek inside.

Who is your favorite kittnz? Let us know in the comments below.

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Meet the crew from Harmless by Katherine Dell

Meet the Crew from Harmless by Katherine Dell

Hello lovelies, 
So I came across this really cool author this weekend, and I couldn’t wait to share her book with everyone because I totally added it to my TBR! 

Harmless

Be careful what you wish for.
After moving from Vancouver to isolated Hazelton, BC, high school senior Rachel Barnes hopes she’ll finally find closure and a sense of direction after tragedy has torn her family apart. When she and her friends discover the old spirit box her grandmother gave her, they see it as a chance to wish their troubles away. But the Great Spirits—deer, crow, bear, and the mythical wendigo—give away nothing for free. 
So instead of worrying about fitting in and finding a boyfriend, Rachel finds herself in a race to control the malevolent spirit who’s taken up residence in Mason Allen, who she fears and craves in equal measure. What began as a harmless game forces Rachel to confront her past—and offers her a future she never imagined.
Step into a reality that is not as it seems in Book 1 of the Harmless series.
Ya’ll know I’ve got a thing for all things Native American, right? Plus, WENDIGOS! Yes, you read that right. I was definitely intrigued! Then I saw these awesome one-liners: 

That mug, so compelling, and who doesn’t love tea, right? 

I literally spewed my coffee when I read this. It’s so true, when you look at the ancient mythos. A writer who did their homework always has a special place in my heart. And we all know I love the snarky guys. I think I totally get why Rachel has a thing for Mason…

  Ah, so the chill factor is definitely there. We all know I can only do so much romance. I need more. This promises to have it. 

 But for those who like the romantic bits, there will be some, and this feeling is one I can relate to. 

 And that touch of mystery! 

 What is happening here? See! My interest is totally piqued! Bam, on my TBR! 


How about you?

Are you interested in learning more about Harmless? Well, here it is on Goodreads. But for those interested in getting a free sample, the author has the first bit on Instafreebie. Trade your email for the sample! 
Until next time, 
Keep Reading!

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Character Spotlights from Enchantments by Claire Plaisted

Character Spotlights Enchantments

Hello Lovelies, 
I am so excited today! Claire Plasted is releasing Enchantments on the 29th and today we have some AWESOME characters to meet! She’s sharing most of the cast. Ready? 
Let’s start with the first one who caught my eye: 

 I mean, besides that gorgeous hair, I do so love a warrior! And up next: 

 Those eyes, am I right? They just pull you right in! 

 Who doesn’t love a confident heroine who seems unflappable? And with a name like Briar, I am sold!
But there’s more: 

It’s like a sassy Pumba! 

 Yep, surfer dudes, this book seems to have it all in spades. 
One final sneak peak: 

 Could this be the villain of the piece? I can’t wait to find out! 
You can pre-order Enchantments for only 99 cents. Take a peek inside!

Until next time, 
Keep Reading!