Winter Solstice Blog Hop Invitation

Beginning 12/6/13, the authors at Pagan Writers Press are putting together a holiday blog hop and we want YOU to join us! If you are an author or a book blogger, sign to to join us for the fun. Here are the guidelines:


Your blog post can be about winter holidays, winter memories, the season of winter. What is your favorite memory of winter? Does the season inspire you to write? You can write about the solstice, about any winter holidays, about the snow or the season, about your characters experiences of the season, flash fiction or an excerpt dealing with winter or the holidays.

Blog Hop Rules:
  • You must write about the theme
  • Giveaway a prize on your blog
  • Include the Linky so that viewers can hop to other blogs
  • Include info about your book/buy links at the end of the blog post
Authors/bloggers are responsible for giving away their own prizes. You can use comments, rafflecopter,, or something else.

To sign up, just fill out the linky located here and make sure your post is live on 12/6/13.


Giveaway - Thunderstruck


Taranis, God of Thunder, watched from the shadows as the mortal woman inched toward the bank of the stream. Her hips seemed to sway in time to the song of the larks overhead. She was beautiful, ravishing. Her long black hair swept down her back in waves so long they almost hid her heart-shaped posterior from view. Once she was submerged in the crystal waters, she floated on her back, her eyes closed in peaceful relaxation. Her pink nipples peeked out from the water, teasing him with their sweet perfection. He longed to see the full portrait of her naked body, but her flawless curves were hidden beneath the gently lapping waves. He knew it was improper to watch the maiden bathe. Had any other man attempted a similar offense, they would have tasted his lightning. However, it was not with lust but with love that Taranis drank in her ravenous beauty. She was his cherished Calista, though he’d known her by other names, as her soul returned to earth in each incarnation. In every life, he yearned for her, always seeing a beauty in her soul that rivaled even the flawless flesh of her youthful mortal shell.

Though he was one of the immortals, Taranis had always felt a kinship with the fragile humans. His brethren ridiculed his decision to walk among them openly. The mortals themselves often feared him and the powers he could not always hold at bay. Yet Taranis could not stay away from the people. He longed to be one of them—to share their simple joys and even their sorrows. Most of all, he yearned to know the fulfillment of love. He would have cast aside his ability to rock the earth and endure any amount of human suffering in exchange for one fleeting moment in the arms of the woman he’d loved for millennia. It was a heart he had, as of yet, failed to capture—and capture it he must if his desire to be human were ever to be approved. The other gods agreed to grant his wish for mortality only when a human woman heard him speak his words of love and returned that affection of her own free will. It was an ultimatum that would have been simple for any of his heavenly brothers, but for Taranis it was a deadly game. He detested the other gods all the more for their heartlessness and childish folly.

Most would think it would be no challenge for a god to sway a mortal’s heart. It was true Taranis had a handsome face and a stunning physique that made village women and nobility alike swoon long before he ever opened his mouth. It was when he finally moved his lips that their illusions were shattered. After all, he was the God of Thunder and had a voice that matched his title.

Taranis sighed while he watched Calista slip from the water. Even then he didn’t get a clear view because she was hidden behind the brambles as she replaced her petticoats and girdles. For centuries he had waited for this one woman to return to him, for no other was her equal. He would not choose lightly when his mortal partner would be his soul mate for all time, connecting again in each life when they were reborn. He knew there was only one soul whose fire matched his own, and though he was certain she had been reborn many times, only twice had he found her. In her first incarnation she was an Amazon, and in the next she chose the role of a virgin priestess—both times she was lured away by his sister goddesses to prevent their joining. He’d still attempted to win her love, but he had failed the challenge laid out by the other gods and was forced to remain immortal. This time Taranis truly believed things would be different.

Calista always had a warrior spirit, but she’d grown stronger in her most recent incarnation. She ran with the boys and bested them at swordplay, but showed no interest in their advances. She had refused the hand of more than one lovesick admirer, claiming to choose her freedom over the docile life of wife and mother. He adored her feisty, fighting spirit. However, Taranis believed there was more to her adamant rejections than even she was aware of. Deep in his soul, he knew Calista was still searching for her true mate. Taranis was certain this time he would not fail. She was waiting for him, and once they were together, he would never begrudge her the freedom she craved. He wanted only to share in it. He simply couldn’t believe such a spirited woman would wind up like the others. This time Taranis was certain Calista would be able to bear the weight of his love.

Taranis waited until Calista was fully clothed, though he knew she was not overly concerned with modesty. Perhaps it was more his own nerves that held him back, but he knew he could not wait forever to reveal himself. Just as she bent down to pluck a wildflower, he stepped into the clearing. He did not bother to hide his true self. To her mortal eyes his skin shone with the golden aura of the gods, but beneath that, he hoped she saw the gentleness in his emerald eyes.

“Bless me heart!” Though there was not a glimmer of fear in her dark eyes, Calista fell to her knees, as awed by his magnificent beauty as he was by hers. “Is it Cernunnos himself come to take me? Or Dagda? Tell me your will, my lord. I will do what I can to honor you. I am not afraid.”

“I am Taranis, God of Thunder,” he announced.


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Giveaway: Call Me Havoc


My name is James Peter Markham III, but my friends call me Havoc. They say that chaos follows me around like I’m some sort of magnet. They don’t know the half of it. Chaos birthed me and raised me. You see, I’m the son of Eris; the semi-divine son of the Goddess of Chaos herself and an insurance adjuster, namely one James Peter Markham, Jr. This is the story of how they met, and how I came to be.

For my story to make sense, we need to go back to 1959, California, and my granddad, James P. Markham, Sr., aka Jimmy the Jokester. Grandpa Jimmy had two big loves in his life, one was my grandma Louise, and the other was bowling. In 1959, the only one of those loves he was pursuing was bowling.

Every Friday night, after a long day of giving their professors headaches, Grandpa Jimmy and his buds Kerry and Greg, would go to the Bowl-a-Rama on Friendly Hills Lane to knock down a few pins, sip some coffee, and discuss the nature of the universe. As luck would have it, on the one Friday my granddad was sick, Eris came and visited Kerry and Greg, sprinkled them with fairy dust, and revealed to them the Truth. Kerry and Greg were reborn as popes and disciples of Eris, and very quickly had roped Jimmy into it as well. Soon meetings of the Legion of Dynamic Discord were alternately being hosted at the bowling alley and at my granddad’s dorm room at USC. Time passed and the three friends got called in different directions. Kerry got activated as a marine, Greg graduated from college and went to be part of the early work in computers, and Granddad went north to La Honda and became friends with Ken Kesey.

It was in LaHonda that Jimmy the Jokester met Louise Slugman, daughter of the doughty Horace M. Slugman and his demure and diminutive wife Mildred. Great-grandpa Horace disapproved of my grandpa immediately, which virtually assured that his daughter would fall in love with him. Those two free spirits ran off and joined Ken for part of his famous bus trip across America, taking acid, experimenting with free-love, and having a great time. At some point, my grandparents are rather fuzzy on when, they stopped at a Justice of the Peace in some little podunk and got married. As a result of this fuzziness, my grandparents have had the long-standing tradition of celebrating their anniversary whenever it suits them. They got off the bus before its eventual arrival in New York City, having found a commune of like-minded souls just outside Bloomington, Indiana where they could settle down, relax, smoke weed, and Grandpa could go to grad school.

My dad was born in 1965 in Bloomington at the Indiana University Hospital. Grandma Louise had wanted a home birth, but Granddad panicked when she started taking a while in pushing him out, and popped her in their VW Minibus and scooted her to the hospital with her screaming abuse at him all the way. Dad was actually born without medical incident, much to Grandpa’s relief and Grandma’s disgust. However, he was born with that sprinkling of fairy dust on him that seems to be a family birthright. Even the nurses at the hospital noticed, and couldn’t stop making a fuss over him and his cuteness.

One would think that my dad’s birth would be the end of their happy Hippy ways, but that would be incorrect. Grandma popped Dad into a baby sling and carried him along wherever their treks took them. During their Midwestern sojourn, Pope Redorix the Elder and Grand Priestess Lola Falola Granola founded little enclaves of Discordianism in towns small and large from Minnesota to Ohio and everywhere in-between. Growing up, my dad was regularly in attendance at meetings of the Midwest branches of the Legion of Dynamic Discord, keeping an eye on the adults and learning the secrets of the universe from various practitioners of mind-bending reality. Every so often Grandpa’s buds Kerry and Greg would show up for a visit and Eris would make an appearance to see her favorite boys, which is how she and dad met.

Dad still remembers it quite fondly. It was the summer of 1975, and the house was full of people. Greg and Kerry had brought their families along with several buddies from out west for the July fourth weekend. Long after the monkeys were all supposed to be in bed, my dad snuck down the stairs just far enough to hear the adults talking. The air was redolent with cannabis and the usual discussions about life, the universe, and how to solve the world’s problems with fun and Erisian pranksterism were flying about. The Bobs and Hunter were expounding on ways to enlighten humanity through chemical intervention while Kerry was insisting that all they needed was a moment of late-night clarity for Eris to come along and fuck with the collective consciousness when my dad felt a tap on his shoulder. Nearly jumping out his skin, he turned to see a beautiful girl whom he did not recall meeting at dinner.

She put a finger to her lips to silence him, then leaned in close and whispered, “I love those guys, but they’re too serious in their silliness.”

It was then that he noticed the faint shimmer of divine Presence about her and nearly fainted. Eris kissed him on the nose and led him back to bed and admonished him to stay in bed this time. After a squeeze of his hand and a promise to check up on him every so often, Eris was gone, and my dad was a goner. Ten years old he was, and hopelessly in love—with a Goddess no less.


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Giveaway - Cawing Crows & Baying Hounds


Sometime after the Vespers bells rang in St. Michaels, we all collected in Brackenbyre Inn for supper. I had given our evening meal no thought, though I knew we were not returning to the Heppeshaw Stone Circle for another day and a half. The merchants and witches from all the villages around Shap stayed to enjoy each other’s company once the spring rites were finished. I was embarrassed to say I had been too caught up in the ritual, in being selected May Queen for the next sabbat, and falling in love with Callum. I made no plans for where I would sleep or eat. In fact, between my father, Margot, and the men of Fawsetwood, we were all well cared for.

Uncle Beneger drove the second wagon with Andrew. Arlie led the other horses to Corels Lofts in Shap and stabled them behind Brackenbyre. There they found a cobbie yard, hay, and water. The barns and sheds opened in the back to a field outside the farmstead walls. A stout gate opened from the street through an arch into the cobbie yard. The gate was barred to secure the things belonging to the guests in the house. It is where Margot’s wagon sat, though she was to sleep in the house.

Instead the Fawsetwood men would sleep in the wagon. Margot and I, the knights, Evan and Alain with their sweethearts would sleep in the house, as would my father the baron. Freya and Glenna planned to stay with their husbands in the yard, but by choice. If they wished to, they could sleep on the public room benches. Of course, Helwaise and Elena lived on the farm. Brackenbyre was their guest house rented out to travelers that added to the income from the croft holding.

At supper, all were present including Robin from Ravensworth and Alain’s mother. It was a merry gathering, with Alain and Evan playing a recorder and strings to tunes the company could sing. Arlie drummed as he had at Fawsetwood, and though there was no room to dance, we tapped our feet and clapped our hands as we sang. Now and again, we stopped to eat fragrant meat pies, mashed turnips, and roast mutton seasoned with leaks and mustard greens supplied by the farm. Evan poured his apricot beer freely for all to sample. He said it was the last half keg, but I knew he’d left half a keg behind at Heppeshaw. He made me laugh, the rogue. As desserts made of sweetened oat cakes dotted with nuts in the honey glaze and an egg and milk pudding with a bit of Margot’s precious nutmeg ground atop made the rounds, my beloved Callum stood to gain everyone’s attention.

He looked like the Sun God himself, blond hair flowing over his shoulders, tall and handsome as I pleased. He made my heart race. Finally, he had to shout over many voices and the clattering of trenchers to make us all settle down and hear what he had to say. Something so important that everyone at once should hear the news. I sniggered secretly, hoping it would please Alain and his parents there in the midst. If not, it would be a shock they would not have an answer for. I caught my father’s eye. He leaned back to watch with that characteristic wry grin we shared. Alain caught us and knew at once we were up to mischief. Callum spoke in Cumbric for the common folk to understand.

“I bring greetin’s from Sir William de Lancaster, me liege lord. He returned ta Tibbay this mornin’, which seems more than a week ago ta me, but before he went he informed me our former squire be now Sir Edmond o’ Wales. He be a good man an’ I wish him well.”

“Hear! Hear!” someone shouted and all raised their cups and drank to the health of Sir Edmond, whoever he was. He was known and recommended of Callum, which was enough for them.


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Giveaway - Promote Pacifically You

Help us to promote Christie A.C. Gucker's latest release, "Pacifically You," on Twitter and receive an opportunity to win a signed copy of the print book!!

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Call for Submissions - 12 Days of Solstice

PWP would like to acquire 12 novellas with Christmas/Winter/Holiday themes to be released in eBook format on the 12 days leading up to the Winter Solstice (December 21, 2013), one per day.

All genres of fiction welcome, but no BDSM please.

Word count must be 10 to 30k.

All submissions must be received on or before October 1, 2013.
Celebrate the 12 days of Solstice with Pagan Writers Press.

Please use our submissions manager to submit your stories for consideration!


Giveaway - Pacifically You


I threw my bags on deck and jumped up. Although the ship was big, sleeping quarters would be tight with only one main cabin. I headed down to make sure I claimed my bunk. Jason lived on the PY, so his was the largest bed. That left four small bunks, and I wanted to grab the top one. I guess I liked it on top. I made myself giggle again.

Once I marked my territory with my things, I rushed back up to the deck to watch them load my shiny new toy and make sure all the baitfish and chum I had ordered were in check.

“Please tell me that’s not our food for this trip?” the geeky weatherman whispered under his breath as he watched Tad and Jason load all my bait.

“Don’t worry. Tad can make anything taste great, right, Tad?” I chided.

“Lizzy, if he leaves before we set sail, this expedition isn’t happening. Remember who’s funding you. No, Doc Logan, this is for Lizzy’s beasties. They’ll come from miles around for a taste of what she has to offer.” Jason and Tad exchanged smiles and continued their task.

Chase’s Adam’s apple moved with a large gulp. He side-eyed me with a peculiar look on his face, so I shot him a devilish grin and winked at him. His Adam’s apple saluted me again.

When all our goodies were on board, Jason and Tad set sail. I sat on the bow enjoying the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. I took deep breaths of the salt air and let it cleanse my soul. This is where I felt most at home and at peace, on the open ocean doing what I loved best.

I glanced over at the geek who was a beautiful shade of green and slightly doubled over. Great. He was seasick. I knew I had to help him get it under control or this trip wasn’t going to be a bit of fun.

“You okay, Doc? Look at the horizon or something that isn’t moving. Just stare at something that takes your mind off the movement. You’ll be fine, I promise. Do you get seasick often? Maybe this wasn’t the best idea for you, if being on a boat isn’t your thing.”

“I’ll be fine. Really. This always happens. It’s been awhile, so my head just needs to get used to it. Get my sea legs, so to speak. Or sea head? No, no that sounds all wrong.” He shook his head and I saw his eyes settle on my chest, and his complexion went from green to a lovely shade of red.

“Okay, if my buoys make it better, by all means, have at ‘em.”

He cleared his throat and raised his eyes to mine and stared at me through his round glasses.

“I’m so sorry. They were the first things I saw that weren’t moving. It worked. I’m feeling better now. Thank you.” And his face turned a much deeper hue of red.

“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of face time with them since we’re in such close quarters,” I said as I jumped down and put them right back in his line of view. I patted his cheek placatingly and headed over to Jason for some hang time.


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Giveaway - Fire Driven


Terrwyn lay on the flat of her back looking up at the glowing full moon that had risen high in the night sky. Her breath rasped in and out in foggy bursts as the icy salt water lapped at her boot covered feet. She knew she needed to move and make her way inland to build a fire. But she couldn’t.

Not yet, she thought. Just let me lie here a moment longer.

She had spent more than two days rowing and drifting in the waters between her homeland and where she lay now. Her eyes were gritty and her lids heavy from lack of sleep. Her stomach felt hollow from having to ration the little food she carried and the drinking water she had brought had been washed into the sea the first day. Terrwyn sucked the insides of her cheeks in an attempt to generate enough saliva to help ease the dryness of her throat. The chill wetness of her journey hung about her so tightly, that it was hard to move. She flexed her fingers and dug into the cold sand under her palms as she forced her breathing to slow and her thoughts to steady.

Ireland, she thought wistfully, letting the wet grains squish through her fingers. Ireland... the land across the water, and the home of Brighid.

She smiled as she thought of the Goddess. The image of the auburn-haired deity gave her a spark of energy, and she pushed herself into a sitting position. Squinting to see into the moon splashed waves, Terrwyn watched as her small boat drifted back out into the currents.

I won’t be needing it anyway, she thought without regret.

There was no way that she would be going back home. With the help of the moon, stars, and currents, she had made it across the water to Ireland. Terrwyn had arrived in the place to which her father had vehemently refused to send her. He had bellowed and turned red when Terrwyn first told him about the dreams. He refused to believe the Brighid of old was speaking to her, calling her to come and be one of the Guardians of her Flame. He swore the Goddess no longer existed and her Flame now belonged to a Christian Saint. He insisted Terrwyn was being selfish and lying in order to avoid what was planned for her… shirking her duties and responsibilities as a daughter of his house. With the approach of her twentieth birthday, she was to be married to whoever would take her. After all, it wasn’t right for a girl her age to be unmarried. A good Welsh woman should have had at least two children running about her ankles by her twentieth birthday.

“Who’ll be marrying old Master Bowen now, father?” She laughed into the moonlit filled sky. “Not I… not this girl!”


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Giveaway - Heart of the Storm


It was good to be home despite the storm, because the last two weeks had been a bitch!

I’d been working for Ross/Young Oil Corporation as their Chief Marine Geologist for the last two years. What started off as a match made in heaven sadly deteriorated into a bickering, quarrelsome nightmare as the months went by. But hey, that was my job.

The oil rig circuit of the North Sea offers one of the harshest settings in the world. And the working environment for the more than one hundred souls usually found aboard the combined drilling and production platforms, presents some of the most perpetually hazardous conditions you’ll ever find.

Drawing extremely flammable fluids and gases out of the earth is perilous enough under the best of circumstances. But when you deliberately set light to it and begin a process of separating the highly poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas away from the extracted petroleum, well, you’re asking for trouble. Especially when you insist on conducting those procedures during storms that produce hurricane force winds with waves in excess of two hundred feet!

Talk about work involving a high pucker factor.

But it’s a multi-trillion dollar industry. The proportionally few number of deaths each year are always considered worth the risk of keeping that precious black gold flowing. And the risk was becoming ever more present. For as each year passed, companies drilled ever deeper into the earth to find what they craved.

As a workaholic, I’d operated out of the Geiger Four rig, one hundred and ten miles northeast of the Shetland Isles. She was a brand new design when it came to combined platforms. Capable of reaching over twenty thousand feet down into late Jurassic strata, she was the deepest working seaborne rig in existence.

Simply put, my job involved assessing the stability of local plate tectonics, and the impact drilling procedures would have on the existing local biosphere. I also had to calculate what to do to avoid obvious dangers. I would then make recommendations as to the best way operations could be conducted to reduce hazards, and minimize the harm inflicted on local flora and fauna.

I was one of the most highly, qualified experts in my field. My views and standards ensured I was always a royal pain in the ass.

But I’d never apologize for that. To me, the environment and safety were of paramount importance, and short cuts were a vulgarity never to be practiced in my presence.

It was a major factor as to why Ross/Young and I had fallen out.

The latest platform was cutting too deeply, too quickly.

Although the strata in that area had been relatively stable for millions of years and had formed a sizeable sedimentary crust, you still had to be careful piercing pockets of highly pressurized gas and oil. Especially one the size of the Geiger Four!

During my initial survey, I had assessed she would be capable of producing in excess of one hundred thousand barrels of oil daily, for the next twenty-five to thirty years. A colossal amount!

But she was deep. The highest pockets lay at nearly eighteen thousand feet. Too deep for my liking, with too much pressure potential to be safe. And much too risky when you considered the tenuous foothold nature had managed to gain in such an extreme environment.


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Giveaway - Stealing Polina


You wouldn’t think it from looking at me—a glimpse of a thousand dollar business suit, a whiff of French cologne, and a flash of a platinum credit card—but honestly, sometimes my life is hell. I deal with idiots on a daily basis—those thickheaded simpletons of the underbelly who don’t truly appreciate the care that goes into crafting a beautiful Cuban cigar—and it taxes and wears me down.

Some days I think, I’ll quit. I could easily sell my share of the family business for a couple billion dollars and move far, far away. I could easily damn myself, turn myself into the authorities for conducting shady deals for fifteen plus years. I do have a conscience somewhere deep down, although my brothers joke that I sold that a long time ago. I could right the wrongs of all my past deals, take the wealth away from the mob and bestow it back to the people, where it technically belongs—like some kind of urban Robin Hood.

I could do all of these things, if I cared to. Yet at the end of the day when I’m unwinding in my monstrous office with a glass of brandy and tying up the strings of a particularly satisfying business deal, I realize I don’t want to. Why should I stop getting what I want? Why should I stop luxuriating in the fact that I am a chosen one, a god of the skyscrapers? Yes, the path to success may be hell, but I know I’ll always get what I want in the end.

I am the youngest of three well-off brothers, spoiled from birth. Upon my father’s passing my brothers, Zach and Patrick, and I were bequeathed the entirety of his company. Cronus Industries—what a gift to behold! Cronus, which has been in my family for generations, has now expanded to owning the majority of the city. And its bounds seem to be limitless!

Being the oldest and favorite, Zach was given the largest share of my father’s legacy. Honestly, the whole “bigwig executive” routine works for him. Zach has the office with the best view. Zach has the penthouse. He’s married to Hera, an absolute stunner, and he’s fooling around with multiple gorgeous women. He plays the part well, with his blond hair, tan skin, and a megawatt-caliber smile of a two-bit game show host. He’s lightning quick with a witty comeback, and reporters love him. Zach physically represents the company, assuring that Cronus Industries is always presented in a positive light.

When Patrick took over his division of Cronus Industries, I was almost certain he had gotten the short straw in the deal. However, as the world plummeted blindly into a new millennium—the Y2K bug had scared the daylights out of the poor plebian masses—everyone seemed to grasp onto the idea of uniting in camaraderie, and the international division of our father’s company began to show promise. Under Patrick’s watchful gaze from his yacht, Neptune—he rarely conducts business from his office on land—our father’s dream has become a reality. One family can truly begin to “run” the world and its oceans.


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Giveaway - From Dusk 'Til Dawn


The late afternoon sun slanted through the high windows of the silent Thraya, setting motes of dust aglow like tiny stars as they floated through the air and settled on the silken and velvet cushions and draperies. The single occupant of the enormous room ignored the finery around him. He shook his dark hair back off his shoulders, focusing on the book settled on his folded legs. He read in silence, the quiet broken only by an occasional faintly musical jingle. The source of the sound was the reader himself, as he shifted to turn pages, moving one hand forward and tucking the other behind his back with the ease of long practice. His movements made the jeweled chains that bound his wrists sparkle in the sunlight, casting blood-red shadows across the pages as he returned his palms to his thighs, fingertips just resting on the edges of the large tome.

From somewhere overhead, a deep gong sounded. The reader looked up, his expression one of mild surprise. He took hold of the volume in both hands as he unfolded his legs and stood, his long silken loincloth fluttering down around his knees as he moved. He set the book down and turned away from the couch in time to see the heavy doors swing open, revealing an armored woman and a man carrying a tray.

“Lyander, I’m sorry I’m so late,” the man called as the guard pulled the door closed behind him. He moved toward a table, revealing a pronounced limp as he walked. He set the tray down on the table and started setting up the meal. “I hope you’re not too hungry?”

“Starved,” Lyander answered, smiling and coming over to the table. “I was starting to think I’d mislaid my days again and it was a fast day. Delan, what is happening out there? I could hear shouting from the garden when I went out to feed the birds, but nothing was clear and I don’t like to stay out there for very long.”

“Ah, never you mind it, Holiness.” Delan turned and leaned against the table. “It’s nothing. Some upstart warlady, the Holy Mother says.”

“A warlady marching against the Temple?” Lyander gasped. “Is she insane? Eldest Sister will take her apart!”

“So the Holy Mother says. So the Warrior grant. Eat now, while it’s still hot. Then perhaps we’ll see to other things...” Delan smiled, reaching out to brush his fingers over Lyander’s cheek. “There’s time before the sunset meditations.”


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Cover Reveals - Heart of the Storm and Fire Driven

Ishtar Press, the romance imprint of Pagan Writers Press, is very pleased to release the second two of seven covers for titles in the "For the Love of the Gods" novella series.

Heart of the Storm

Andrew P. Weston
Love has eluded James Foster for many years. But that’s not surprising, for his work as a marine geologist regularly takes him around the world. A highly principled man, he is passionate for the truth and for the environment, but such endeavors leave little time for a private life.

After blowing the whistle on his former employer’s outrageous work practices, which would have endangered the staff and the ecosystem they were operating in, James finds himself without a job and with his reputation in tatters. Forced into isolation, he is hounded by his former employer and the press.

His passion for what is right draws the attention of a mysterious woman. Someone—it appears—with her own agenda!

Will she help him survive the coming storm or ensure he goes under?

Fire Driven

Tracy Palmer

“Terrwyn... Terrwyn? Come to me, my love. You must come now!”

When the Goddess Brighid calls upon her favorite mortal, who is Terrwyn to not obey? Leaving behind everything she has ever known, she travels from her homeland to the Emerald Isle of Eire, where the Tuatha de Danan and the newly arrived Christian religion fight for dominance.

Terrwyn’s feelings and beliefs, which are deemed wrong and considered evil by the invading authorities, take her on a quest for understanding and true love. In the face of discrimination, condemnation, and violence, can she hold tight to her faith long enough to prove her loyalty to Brighid?

Both titles will release from Ishtar Press on Friday, August 23rd.


Cover Reveals - From Dusk 'Til Dawn and Stealing Polina

Ishtar Press, the romance imprint of Pagan Writers Press, is very pleased to release the first two of seven covers for titles in the "For the Love of the Gods" novella series.

From Dusk 'Til Dawn

Elizabeth Schechter

When Delan stumbled into the Temple, he wasn't expecting to be welcomed as a Temple servant. He wasn't expecting his only duty to be to serve Lyander, cloistered son of the High Priestess. He wasn't expecting to fall in love.

And he wasn't expecting that he was going to have to choose: love, or saving the world.

Stealing Polina

Danielle Villano

H is a businessman who will go to any lengths to get what he wants—no matter the consequence. When Polina, a new company intern, captures his attention, H will do whatever it takes to claim her as his own. Will the dazzling big city become the perfect backdrop for seduction, or will Polina fight against her boss’s dark desires?

Revisit the classic myth of Hades and Persephone, with a contemporary spin, in Stealing Polina.

Both titles will release from Ishtar Press on Friday, August 16th.


Excerpt - Pacifically You by Christie A.C. Gucker

We pulled into the marina and I directed the driver towards the slip where Jason's boat was. I could see Tad up on deck working the headstay. He turned, saw me, immediately called for Jason, and came running in my direction.

"Lizzy! Oh shit, babe! You look amazing," he stated as he picked me up off the ground and whirled me around.

"This is going to be some hell of a trip," came from behind me in Jason's smooth, calm voice.

"Jason! Tad! Can you believe this is happening?" We formed a tight huddle and jumped into a three-way chest bump.

"Lizzy wins," Tad mused.

"Lizzy always wins. She has the biggest chest!" Jason affirmed as he affectionately messed up my hair.

"Enough. Let’s get my gear on board. Did she arrive yet?" I questioned, waiting impatiently for a reply. I watched as Tad and Jason looked back and forth between each other, trying to hold back their smiles. "Come on! Tell me, is she here yet?"

"She just got to the main area of the marina. They're bringing her back as we speak," Jason finally told me.

I actually squealed like a little girl and hugged Jason, which prompted Tad to get in on the action. We were interrupted by throat clearing. We all turned and looked at the gawky man standing in front of us.

He was wearing nice, pleated khaki pants and a windbreaker. He donned a baseball cap with a strange symbol on it, and huge nerd glasses peered out from underneath the brim.

"Excuse me. I don't mean to break up your little love fest, but I'm trying to locate a Dr. Lizbeth Drake? Oh, or the vessel Pacifically You. Can any of you help me locate one if not both of those two things?"

We all just kind of stood there gaping at him. I heard Tad stifle a giggle before he answered him.

"Well, one of those two things is right behind you," he answered while finally letting go of his chuckle. The strange man turned to look at Jason's boat.

"The other is right here," Jason chimed in, pushing me forward right into the geek. Apparently I was chest-bumping him, too. The man cleared his throat again, while fixing his glasses, which had gone askew during our bump.

"You're Dr. Drake?"

"Were you expecting something different?" I expressed, giving him a huge goofy grin. He promptly held his hand out to me.

"I'm Dr. Chase Logan."

Please join us as we prepare for the release of this amazing story at the Release Party for Pacifically You!


Giveaway - Hyde by Laura DeLuca

Rebecca Hope has looked death in the face twice and lived to tell her tale.

She and the love of her life, Justyn Patko, land a summer internship at a local dinner theater, performing the musical Hyde. While they are excited about their first paid acting gig, they soon find themselves surrounded by more experienced cast mates, jealous of their success. As if the tension isn’t bad enough, they soon discover that the business might be a front for something much more sinister.

When Justyn is accused of a crime that she knows he would never commit, Rebecca must decide if she wants to follow her head or her heart. While trying to prove his innocence, she makes a shocking discovery of her own.

Everyone has something to conceal in the grand finale of the Dark Musicals Trilogy. Rebecca has to look beyond the façade to discover the true Hyde or face her final curtain call.

In honor of the release of this title, which is the last book in the Dark Musicals Trilogy, we are giving away eBook copies of Laura DeLuca's "Hyde."

If you don't want to wait to see if you win your copy of "Hyde," you can snag an early release copy here. It will only be available at the price of $2.99 until Monday, July 29th.

Want all of the titles in print? Check out our Dark Musicals Trilogy Giveaway!

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Excerpt - Hyde by Laura DeLuca

When they reached the last aria, Justyn pulled her into his arms with an almost desperate longing. The required embrace between Emma and Dr. Jekyll took very little acting for the real-life lovers. In fact, the kiss might have gone on a tad longer than necessary. Rebecca found herself swooning in Justyn’s arms just as much as she had the very first time their lips had met. There was a fire between them time couldn’t quench. That passion spilled over into the music, and it was a force every person watching from the sidelines could feel.

Rebecca was actually sorry the duet ended, despite the fact that she knew they would be singing it again every day for the next three months. She had another brief scene where her father, played by Robert, tries to talk Emma out of marrying Dr. Jekyll. Then Rebecca had a break backstage while Tom led Justyn to a house of ill repute to try to take his mind off his work for the night. On her way to join the background prostitutes who would dance with Victoria, Carmen made sure to stop by and give Rebecca a congratulatory pat on her back.

“I almost forgot how amazing you two are together!” Carmen exclaimed, shuffling out from behind the curtain. “That was awesome! Really! Total eargasm!”

Rebecca laughed. “Thanks, Carmen!”

Carmen winked as she raced past her to take her place on the stage. Her friend did an amazing job of coordinating the simple dance moves given the short notice she’d received. The performers looked provocative and sexy despite the limited space they had to work with. But it was Victoria who stole the show with her amazing voice. The notes of her song resonated off the high ceiling of the theater and her body slithered seductively along the floor. Rebecca had to remind herself not to be jealous when she got to the scene where Lucy kisses Dr. Jekyll, despite the fact she knew it wasn’t real. Victoria was so beautiful and sensual. Rebecca could see how it would be hard for most men to resist her, but as graceful and elegant as she was when she sang, she still portrayed the tough street girl to perfection, and Rebecca had the feeling it was a role she was familiar with.

Rebecca really enjoyed watching the rest of the show come to life for the first time. Everyone was very professional. They all had their lines down pat, and there were no serious blunders, despite it being their first group rehearsal. They ran through the entire show twice before Fernando finally allowed them to call it a night. It was almost one in the morning, and Rebecca was completely exhausted. She couldn’t wait to head home and get some sleep. She dreaded having to wake up for the breakfast shift at seven in the morning. It was definitely going to be a long summer, but hopefully a rewarding one.

“Not bad for the first practice, huh?” Tom asked.

Justyn was still a little grim. “Despite the fact that not everyone wants us here. Did you see the way Steve was glaring at us?”

“You noticed too?” Rebecca asked.

“You two should get used to that,” Carmen advised. “When you’re good, people are always going to be jealous. Don’t let that has-been get you down.”

“Wise words, babe,” Tom agreed. “Seriously, dude, screw him. You guys were awesome. You deserve the leads.”

Justyn tried to shrug it off but still looked annoyed. However, he relaxed a little when Rebecca smiled and looped arms with him on the way to the car. They had almost reached the parking lot when she realized she’d left her handbag behind. Carmen and Justyn both rolled their eyes at her when she told them.

“Seriously, Becca?” Carmen teased. “I don’t know how you manage to memorize your lines when you never remember anything.”

Coming to your favorite book retailer on July 26, 2013.
Join the Hyde Release Party to learn how you can win this title and others.

Excerpt - Psy-V by LM David

It was minutes shy of midnight, but Adams wasn’t certain of that fact. Adjusting his tie, the NSA agent walked briskly past a security check point pacing a man wearing a black suit and mirror shined shoes. His destination? A chat with the CEO of Bio-Genetics Labs—his enigmatic employers. Adams theorized the subject had to be one of two things, both connecting him to this god-forsaken company but the spit and polished escort had given no details, just requested Adams come with him. Since then, the fetch man had not utter a single word.

At the end of a long hall, his escort held up a hand to stop Adams. He rapped twice on a mahogany door before opening it without waiting for the requisite acknowledgement, and then stepped aside. Offering the man a disconcerted look, Adams entered alone.

The room was spacious, furniture typical for a CEO with expensive taste. What stood out most were framed certificates and gold-framed placards covering the majority of wall space. It was enough to impress the NSA agent.

Adams turned his attention to a small gentleman seated behind an oak wood desk. The man was average looking, clean shaven, and except for his strawberry-blond hair pulled back in a ponytail, you’d never give him a second glance. While he spoke on a white cordless phone, he lifted a hand and gestured for Adams to approach. As he did, the agent turned his attention to an individual standing behind the desk. He stood six-foot-one easily. He wore a dark, tailor made suit that made him look like a GQ model. His brownish red hair had a stylish cut, brushing his shoulders. At the moment, the man stood in front of a large, white mini-blind covered window, staring out at the night.

Was he the other CEO of the Project? The partner Adams had yet to meet?

Finishing his call, Lucas Albright, the architect behind Bio-Genetics Labs, gave the agent an easy smile as he rose from his chair.

“Albright,” Adams offered.

“Adams—thanks for coming.” The two shook hands.

“Your tour guide didn’t offer a ‘no’ option.”

“I apologize for that …” his words trailed.

“There’s no need for that.” The agent downplayed the situation. “Can I ask before we begin if this is a sit down happy moment, or are you going to crap shoot an otherwise enjoyable evening?”

The man at the window grunted, looking at the agent without saying a word.

“Dr. Edward Parks, my partner.” Lucas gestured to the man behind him before lowering himself into his chair. Scowling, Parks turned his eyes back to the window. “He handles research and development.”

Adams gave the man a silent look. He knew little about Parks other than the man had an excellent reputation in the scientific community. With the frosty reception he’d given Adams, the agent wasn’t sure it was an auspicious honor to finally be introduced to the man.

“Please, sit,” Lucas offered. The agent sat in a dark-brown leather chair that faced the desk. “Edward—you want to handle this?”

The self-absorbed man seemed not to pay attention to Lucas or his entreaty. Finally, Edward regarded Adams with a flat stare, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets. His expression reflected an internal struggle as if he were trying to formulate his thoughts.

“The Project,” Edward began in a reserved voice, “hit a … snag.”

Adams looked to Lucas for explanation. When none issued, he looked back at Parks. “Snag?”

“The test subjects,” he cleared his throat, “… escaped.”


Giveaway - Demon by Laura DeLuca

When Justyn and Rebecca set off for the New York School of Performing Arts, they think their dreams are about to come true. To their dismay, they aren’t in high school anymore, and the competition is steep. Rebecca must compete against accomplished singers for a role in the production of Demon Barber, including a stunning Gothic diva with her sights set on Justyn.

It doesn't help that things keep disappearing from their apartment or that Rebecca's father refuses to accept that Justyn is an essential part of her life. Yet, all this seems minimal in comparison to the serial rapist terrorizing the campus.

Consumed by fear and obsessed with revenge, Rebecca and Justyn start living the story of Sweeney Todd—both on and off the stage.

In honor of the release of the last book in the Dark Musicals Trilogy (Hyde) at the end of the month, we are giving away eBook copies of Laura DeLuca's "Demon."

If you don't want to wait to see if you win your copy of "Demon," you can snag a copy here.

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Giveaway - Dark Musicals Trilogy by Laura DeLuca


The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.

Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.


When Justyn and Rebecca set off for the New York School of Performing Arts, they think their dreams are about to come true. To their dismay, they aren’t in high school anymore, and the competition is steep. Rebecca must compete against accomplished singers for a role in the production of Demon Barber, including a stunning Gothic diva with her sights set on Justyn.

It doesn't help that things keep disappearing from their apartment or that Rebecca's father refuses to accept that Justyn is an essential part of her life. Yet, all this seems minimal in comparison to the serial rapist terrorizing the campus.

Consumed by fear and obsessed with revenge, Rebecca and Justyn start living the story of Sweeney Todd—both on and off the stage.


Rebecca Hope has looked death in the face twice and lived to tell her tale.

She and the love of her life, Justyn Patko, land a summer internship at a local dinner theater, performing the musical Hyde. While they are excited about their first paid acting gig, they soon find themselves surrounded by more experienced cast mates, jealous of their success. As if the tension isn’t bad enough, they soon discover that the business might be a front for something much more sinister.

When Justyn is accused of a crime that she knows he would never commit, Rebecca must decide if she wants to follow her head or her heart. While trying to prove his innocence, she makes a shocking discovery of her own.

Everyone has something to conceal in the grand finale of the Dark Musicals Trilogy. Rebecca has to look beyond the façade to discover the true Hyde or face her final curtain call.


In honor of the release of the last book in the Dark Musicals Trilogy (Hyde) at the end of the month, we are doing a grand prize giveaway that includes a signed print copy of each title in the entire Dark Musicals series.

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Free on Amazon - Jessica by Laura DeLuca


Wilbur was used to going to his college formals alone. He thought the Halloween Ball would be no different. He’s amazed when a beautiful girl in a Victorian costume displays an interest in him and even more amazed to find himself alone with her on one of the campus nature trails.

What Wilbur doesn’t realize is that another woman has her eye on him too. The White Lady returns every Halloween to take revenge on the men of the campus for her brutal murder. She has chosen Wilbur as her next victim.


As he scanned the room, Wilbur’s eyes fell upon a young girl dressed in a beautiful nineteenth century gown. She was standing alone on the other side of the refreshment table, tapping her foot to the beat of the music. He couldn’t help but admire the detail of her elaborate costume. She wore a long white dress, trimmed with soft blue lace, and topped off with a high ruffled collar. The bell sleeves came down to her elbows, and while the gown was certainly the modest garb of the old world, it still managed to accentuate her perfect curves. Even her hair was done in the style of the times, with the masses of russet curls piled on top on her head in a loose bun and just a few perfect ringlets dangling down on the side. The costume looked so natural on her; she could have stepped right out of a Victorian painting.

Wilbur was so enchanted by her unique beauty that he couldn’t stop staring. Eventually, she turned in his direction, as though she felt him watching her. When their eyes caught, he blushed furiously and instantly lowered his gaze. He expected her to sneer and turn away in disgust, like every other girl who had ever caught him gawking at them. But instead, she smiled and started to glide toward him. Her creamy white skin seemed almost transparent in the glow of the spinning strobe lights, but as she approached, her features became more distinguished. Wilbur could make out a sweet, heart shaped face, a small button nose, and the greenest emerald eyes he had ever seen.

“Hello.” She practically had to yell to be heard over the blaring music. “My name’s Jessica. What’s yours?”

Wilbur felt his knees start to buckle, and his mouth fell open in unrepressed shock. He actually turned his head to see if there was someone standing behind him because he was certain that she couldn’t be talking to him. As he turned, his glasses slipped down his nose, and when he tried to push them black in place, he accidentally slapped himself in the forehead. His cheeks burned, and he waited for the beautiful woman to laugh and walk away. He was amazed when she didn’t.

“You’re cute.” She giggled and placed a perfectly manicured hand on his shoulder. “So, are you going to answer my question? Or don’t you have name?”

 “Wil…Wil…Wilbur,” he finally managed to stutter. He turned an even brighter shade of red when he felt something harden between his legs, and wondered if the protrusion was obvious to Jessica.

“Well, Wil…Wil…Wilbur,” she teased. “Would you like to dance with a lonely co-ed who couldn’t get a date?”

Get your FREE copy today!


Free on Amazon - Blood-Moon by Andrew P. Weston


Once every few hundred years, the Blood-Moon rises on an unsuspecting world. When it does—the very stuff of myth and legend comes to life.

He was sixth generation military, his path laid before him by his family. To secure his spot in the elite British Special Forces he found himself up against one of the harshest environments known to man. It is here that he will face an ancient horror.

What do you think might happen when nightmare becomes reality?


Well this was just great!

Here I was, having successfully completed the mountain and jungle phase for selection into the British Special Forces, and instead of being able to relax and celebrate I was well and truly screwed! I couldn’t believe how quickly things had turned upside down.

I’d been in the Royal Marines for five years, having joined straight from college. I was sixth generation military and even though I’d had to work hard to graduate from the Officer Training Academy, my career had been mapped out for me by my parents from the moment I was born. No time for a normal life, friends, or hobbies. And certainly no time for romance–that would only get in the way of my career. I had been groomed to serve and the military was where I belonged.

It was quickly discovered that I had an aptitude for diving, combat, and navigation. That together with my incredible stamina, meant I’d been recommended for the Special Forces Directorate eighteen months ago by my Commanding Officer.

I’d trained harder than anyone else over that time to ensure I was ready for this, my chance at joining the elite of the elite, as it was something no one else in my family had yet to achieve. Of course, they expected me to pass–even if it killed me!

Sailing through the initial one month pre-selection phase–where they had bested all fifty candidates mercilessly in an effort to test our stamina and mental fortitude. They had ensured the chaff was quickly cut away so the remaining twenty-seven of us could be properly scrutinized for our strengths and weaknesses.

We battled constantly over the next four months to ensure we deserved our place on the course. Four months of relentless mental pressure and stress, where our resolve was tested to the limit under all sorts of conditions. Ensuring they maintained the demands on us, they’d forced us to cover hundreds of miles on foot through all sorts of terrain and environments, carrying outrageous amounts of kit. We’d endured it all, surviving a selection process that had decimated some of the finest soldiers in the world. Then, three short weeks ago at the beginning of October, the remaining twelve of us had arrived here, in Pasto, Bolivia, a brand new training venue in an entirely different world.

The final phase of selection is always conducted in mountainous jungle areas, as they are known to be among some of the harshest environments in existence—a place where human beings don’t belong. Not that you would believe that from the air. Our descent had revealed endless miles of high canopied trees–looking like fields of broccoli from a distance–splintered by rugged canyons and rivers. You would be forgiven for thinking of phrases like; tranquil and idyllic, as your first view of the endless forests would make you feel just that, thereby lulling you into a false sense of security. Because even now, after all this effort, we could still fail or be back-coursed by an ecosystem that could chew you up whole and spit you out in pieces.

Today is the last day to get your FREE copy!


Excerpt - The Dance of the Mystai by Tinnekke Bebout

We love Goddess; we long for Her, but in a culture where violence against women is far too common, where many of us have seen from a young age images of angry men hurting women and children, many of us have internalized that though Mother is strong and loves us fiercely She, like many women, cannot protect the children from an angry, vengeful Father. This is why the first real step on a Goddess Path must be embarking on an internal paradigm shift. Nature abhors a vacuum, and if a paradigm is rejected but not replaced with another, that rejected one will remain in a vestigial form under the surface, waiting to come back full force when we are going through times of pain or trauma.

The rest of the stuff you do as a Goddess Path follower is all very good and useful, but it needs to be integrated into the paradigm shift. We must allow ourselves to be aware of the strength of females, of women. We must trust Goddess as much as we love Her. We must leave behind the feeling that we will only be loved if we behave in the accepted manner and embrace the unconditional acceptance and love that Mama that Goddess offers freely. It sounds simple, but it can be the hardest thing you ever do. Just imagine staring boldly, not trembling, not doubtful, into the face of whatever physical manifestation you want to give the FatherGod paradigm, and saying with a calm, even, confident voice, “You have no power over me.” Now imagine doing it not just once, not just that initial time that caused you to leave the FatherGod paradigm and its known environs to go looking for who-knew-what at the time, but to do it all the time for the rest of your life.

That is the beginning of true Goddess Path, for that is the start of claiming yourself as a Daughter of Goddess. It’s something you’ll do every waking minute as you—consciously at first and later more automatically—put aside the choices you would have made in the old paradigm and embrace the sometimes radically different choices that are yours as a Daughter of Goddess. Don’t worry, however, for you are not alone, nor will you ever be as you make these bold statements, these bold choices for there are women out there with you every day who have made the choices and faced the fears and they are your Sisters in Goddess. They are there with a ready hand and a listening ear and many, many cups of hot chocolate to sustain you as you start this journey and toddle with your first baby steps on this new path as a Daughter of Goddess. And as you gain in strength and wisdom, they will also lean on you as another Sister when they know doubt and fear.

This Sisterhood is to me the biggest and the best gift that Goddess gives Her daughters as they make their way home. For this is also part of the paradigm shift; there may be women who teach you, who write books that you learn from, whose words you may drink in like water on a hot day, but these women are not gurus looking for a hold over you or who expect your deference. These women will not be part of some spiritual hierarchy over you and have the power to say that you belong as a Daughter or not. No one can say that. Goddess loves all Her daughters and we are all equal in Her eyes, and that is how we must treat one another as we interact with each other.

From now on, you are free of the spiritual power over reality and are part of a community of spiritual equals where the only power is the power that comes from within. Don’t put on a pedestal your sisters who have been on the Path longer and are there to offer a helping hand or a wise word or expect to sit and learn at their feet. They don’t want the pedestal, and you are just as capable of a new insight as any of your sisters. Give up your submissive place in the FatherGod spiritual hierarchy and embrace yourself as a capable woman and listen for the voice of Goddess in yourself. It is time to dig deep and learn new ways of thinking so you can get rid of that submissive garbage and be strong in who you are.

We will journey to the Mother together. You will be challenged and you will be required to think for yourself and question and seek answers. Just as a Mother first helps her children get their feet under them as they learn to walk, then as they are stronger lets them run and play and discover their own strengths and weaknesses, so our Mother, the one we have been calling to all this time, will expect us, Her Daughters, to run and play in our freedom and explore our new world and create this new paradigm for ourselves.

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Excerpt - Love Request by Tara Chevrestt

Tammy returned and handed Ciara a steaming mug before she sat down once again. “I see you have been drinking a lot of wine.” Her tone was accusing. She must have seen the empty bottles in the kitchen. “That’s not going to solve your problems, you know.” She blew on her coffee while eyeing Ciara over the rim.

Ciara set her own mug on the coffee table and ran a hand through her short, rumpled bed head. “I know. It does help numb things for a while though.” She offered a sheepish grin.

“There, now. There’s that smile I haven’t seen in two weeks.” Tammy winked.
“Now if you just shower and put some makeup on, we can discuss going back to work. You need to start somewhere.”

“I have vacation time saved.” Ciara waved her suggestion off.

“Bullshit,” Tammy declared. “You may have vacation time saved, but I’ll be damned if I’ll stand by and let you use it to wallow in self-pity.”

Ciara choked on a sip of coffee. “Damn, Tammy! Why don’t you tell me how you really feel?”

“Girl, this is what friends are for.” Tammy sighed and began on one of her favorite topics. “You need a man.”

“Oh, now I need a maid and a man.” Ciara rolled her eyes heavenward.

“You could get a two-in-one deal if you’re real lucky.”

Ciara snorted. “Tammy, where the hell am I going to meet a man? I don’t even have any friends outside of work, and they’re all married or Mormon. I’m not religiously inclined and let’s not forget I’m deaf. That doesn’t normally go over well with the fellows. They usually get tired of repeating themselves.”

Tammy looked thoughtful for a moment and took another sip of coffee. Her gray gaze scanned the room as though searching for ideas. It lit on Ciara’s laptop, lying forgotten on the coffee table, dangerously close to Ciara’s coffee mug. “How about an online dating service?”

Ciara shook her head. “Again, location, location. I’d have to give up coffee, alcohol, and cursing to hook up with anyone nearby. And those are kind of scary. I know one lady who had a guy claim he loved her and wanted to visit her, but fed her some story about his paycheck being late and he needed money—”

“Oh, forget that then,” Tammy interrupted. “But don’t look for someone nearby. Look internationally. Darling, you’re a very attractive woman. There is hope. Look outside the box.” Tammy punctuated her words by miming a box with her hands.

“You’re crazy.” Ciara laughed for the first time in two weeks. Having her friend and coworker here was perking her up considerably. It was nice to know someone cared. As she’d expected, the family had not stuck around long once her mother was put in the ground. They hadn’t been there when her mom was sick, why would they keep in contact now? No, she wasn’t expecting any phone calls, cards, or even invitations to family reunions anytime soon.

Tammy stood and began marching around the living room, picking up discarded papers, wineglasses, and crumpled tissues. “The Internet is an amazing thing,” she chattered as she worked, turning her head in Ciara’s direction when she did so. “You know I’ve said a zillion times, you must get on Facebook. For such a young, hip person, you sure are out of touch with technology.” She pointed the rim of a wineglass in Ciara’s direction. “It would be a good start and you wouldn’t even have to read lips on there.”

“That stuff is stupid,” Ciara scoffed. “And who would I friend on Facebook? The same people I see now!” she answered her own question.

“Anybody you want to. You could even look up old lovers.” Tammy gestured grandly, cringing as a tissue flew out of her hand and across the room.

Ciara thought about that for a moment. “I don’t even remember most of their names,” she shook her head sadly. “I wouldn’t call them lovers, but one-nighters.”

Tammy left the room to discard her findings and came back, grabbing the laptop as she plopped down on the arm of Ciara’s chair. “You’ve never been in love?” she asked as she opened the laptop. “That’s seriously sad.”

Ciara shrugged. “In school, I was the deaf kid. The boys preferred to make fun of me, not date me. And the ones who weren’t making fun of me were afraid to date me cause they would be made fun of too.” She rolled her eyes. “Then there was college and you know how that is.” She shot her friend a knowing look. They giggled together, both remembering the frat boys and beer kegs. “And then Mom got sick,” Ciara finished.

Tammy began typing on the laptop and her demeanor turned serious. “Well, first we are going to get you hooked up to the outside world.” She held up one finger. “Then we are going to clean this place up.” She held up a second finger before finishing with a flourish. “Then you’re getting on with your life.”

Ciara shook her head in disbelief as she watched Tammy open a page on the Internet. “Facebook, though? Do I have to?” she whined.

“Yes, you do.” Tammy stated firmly. “It’s the first step toward getting you a social life. Now, go get dressed and dolled up, ‘cause we’re going to take a profile picture.” She coaxed Ciara of the chair with her free arm and shoved her toward the bedroom. “Wear something sexy!” she hollered.

“Next thing you know, you’ll have me doing that chirping thing,” Ciara grumbled over her shoulder.

“Chirping? You mean Twitter?” Tammy laughed and choked.

“Whatever! Chirp this!” Tammy ducked just in time as Ciara threw a pillow at her head.

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Giveaway - Phantom by Laura DeLuca

The “Phantom” was a musical phenomenon that Rebecca had always found enchanting. She had no idea that her life was about to mirror the play that was her obsession. When her high school drama club chooses “Phantom” as their annual production, Rebecca finds herself in the middle of an unlikely love triangle and the target of a sadistic stalker who uses the lines from the play as their calling card.

Rebecca lands the lead role of Christine, the opera diva, and like her character, she is torn between her two co-stars—Tom the surfer and basketball star who plays the lovable hero, and Justyn, the strangely appealing Goth who is more than realistic in the role of the tortured artist.

Almost immediately after casting, strange things start to happen both on and off the stage. Curtains fall. Mirrors are shattered. People are hurt in true phantom style. They all seem like accidents until Rebecca receives notes and phone calls that hint at something more sinister. Is Justyn bringing to life the twisted character of the phantom? Or in real life are the roles of the hero and the villain reversed? Rebecca doesn’t know who to trust, but she knows she’s running out of time as she gets closer and closer to opening night. Only when the mask is stripped away, will the twenty first century phantom finally be revealed.

In honor of the release of the last book in the Dark Musicals Trilogy (Hyde) at the end of the month, we are giving away eBook copies of Laura DeLuca's "Phantom."

If you don't want to wait to see if you win your copy of "Phantom," you can snag a copy here.

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Excerpt - Phantom by Laura DeLuca

“Lord . . . Justyn?”

It sounded more like a question than an audition call. Miss King looked slightly baffled as she scanned her paperwork and read the last name on her list of male candidates. Once she was certain she had read the name correctly, she called it out once more with a little more confidence. When she received no immediate response, she seemed ready to dismiss the whole thing as a joke. But then a strange black clad figure seemed to materialize in the corner of the stage, and with practiced grace, he moved towards the center of the platform and the waiting microphone.

“That’s Justyn Patko.” Carmen informed Rebecca matter-of-factly. Luckily her best friend was the queen of gossip. “He just moved here this year. From Vegas, I think. He’s in my Calculus class.”

“He’s a little creepy if you ask me,” Debbie whispered.

Creepy he might have been to some, with his black clothes trimmed with silver chains, black hair, and black fingernails. He was obviously Gothic to the core, a fashion statement Rebecca had always thought was secretly a cry for attention. But for Justyn, there seemed no other possibility. She couldn’t imagine the darkly mysterious figure dressed in earth tones or preppy, button-down shirts. They would have clashed with his dark eyes and pale skin. She had seen him in the hallway a few times, but they didn’t share any classes, so Rebecca had never really taken the time to study him before. Despite his odd style, there was something strangely appealing about Justyn. In his own way, he was just as handsome as Tom.

The orchestra tuned for its virtuoso, and Justyn stood ready. But no one else was ready for the magical performance he began. Beside her, Carmen was rambling on about something mundane. Rebecca elbowed her to silence so she could listen to the perfectly thrilling tenor. As she listened to the song unfold, the world around her started to slip away. Gone was the high school auditorium. Gone were the rowdy teenagers. The Gothic stranger on the stage had become the embodiment of Erik, and Rebecca watched him in all his dark glory, belting out his tormented love through the words of his song. And she was as breathless with wonder as Christine herself must have been when the masked stranger serenaded her in the candlelit labyrinth of the opera house. In that moment, Justyn wasn’t just portraying the phantom. Justyn was the phantom.

“Let the music touch your soul.
Let the darkness make you whole.
Do not fear what is unknown.
Your true path has now been shown.
Listen to the words I sing.
Embrace the peace that night will bring.”

As he continued to sing in his deep but somehow angelic voice, Rebecca found that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. With every line, her heart began to beat faster. She truly felt the arms of night wrapping her in a warm embrace. She could almost feel the hands of the phantom glide along her body as the words poured forth. The music caressed her. It possessed her—mind, body, and soul. Each word left her longing, yearning for more.

She was gawking so obviously, it was hardly surprising when Justyn felt her eyes on him and steadily met her gaze. She realized her mouth was hanging open in stunned awe, and she quickly snapped it shut. His lips moved into just a small hint of a smile. He never took his eyes off her while he sang the final verse, making her cheeks flush to the point that she felt almost feverish. It wasn’t embarrassment but excitement, arousal even, which was sending her mind spinning in so many directions.

 When the song was over, and Rebecca had recovered just a hint of her composure, she couldn’t help but burst into a healthy round of applause. A few scattered people joined in, including Debbie and Carmen after she nudged them in the ribs. But only Miss King seemed to truly appreciate the brilliance of his talent as much as Rebecca did.

“That was amazing, Justyn!” The teacher gushed.

Lord Justyn.” He corrected as he stepped down from the stage.