Tag Archives: GSP Halloween Promo

The Cursed….

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN from the GSP Halloween Promo. This is the last post for the Promo and we would like to thank you all for your support and participation. It has been a fun month and hope that you, the readers enjoyed it too! Today we welcome Lisa Farrell.

Lisa Farrell has been writing for as long as she can remember. Much of what she writes is speculative fiction, but she tries other things from time to time. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, and some of her stories are available in print and online – check out lisafarrell.blogspot.com for links. She lives in the UK with her husband, son and two black cats.

Her book that we are featuring on today’s post is The Cursed.

Magic cannot be used without consequences, that’s why you need a license to use it. But if your child was suffering because of the backlash of someone else’s spell, could you stand by and do nothing? Wouldn’t you want to save them, no matter what the cost?

This is a dark tale of magic, desperation and revenge.

Excerpt:

She pretended not to notice the women watching her as she approached the bier. She kept her head up and eyes forward as she passed them, her baby held carefully in the crook of her arm. Her offering was precious perfume for the chaotic god; she had to bring the best she could afford. It wasn’t her fault the other women could only spare a loaf of bread or a bunch of wild flowers. Their husbands toiled in the wheat fields because they hadn’t the skills to do anything else. Her man could both write and count, and so served the lord personally, up in the great house on the hill.
    That was where he was now, though the sun had almost set. The farmers were able to attend to the rites with their wives while she had to make their pledge alone. As the other women joined hands with their men and marched past her with their noses in the air, she turned to head for home. She cooed to her baby, who was waking up.
    It was a warm day, so she kept to the shade of the tall rickety houses along the street. The smell was worse in this season, as the sun released the vapours from the dung that had been walked into the cobbles of the road.
    She hated the town. Everywhere there was life, but of a very different sort to that around the country dwellings where the more fortunate lived. The sort she could have lived in, had her husband’s family not been cursed with ill fortune. It would be a long time before he could afford to house her on one of the hills above the town, where the air was clear and the ground not infested with maggots or disease.
    Her husband worked all day up on that hill, and she envied him for that. She had to return now to their poky little house, with nothing but a stone wall between her and the farmers’ families. At times she even envied the farmers themselves, who at least got to spend their days in the open fields beyond the town walls. They weren’t encased in stone all day.
    Her baby began to cry as she closed the gate behind her. He didn’t like the grate of metal as the latch dropped back into its place. Her garden was a mass of herbs and the scent greeted her. Everything she grew had a strong smell; it served to mask the stench of the town.
    She walked up the little stone path, jiggling the baby in an effort to quieten him.
    “It’s all right, my sweet one,” she said, “we’re home now.”
    She wished that she needn’t take him out when she paid homage, but she couldn’t keep a nanny for him, and it would look bad if she didn’t take something to the bier in the square at least once a day. Not with her husband doing so well in comparison with the other poor souls around, and with a young child to keep safe too.
    Her key was in the bottom of her pocket; she could feel it digging into her thigh. She held the baby close with one hand and fumbled for the key with the other. Her long skirt was too tight, she couldn’t get her fingers in without shifting position again. The baby was starting to thrash in her arms.
    “Stop it,” she snapped. “Give me a minute.”
    Her tone did nothing to soothe him, but when she pushed the heavy door open at last and stepped into the dark of the hall, the cool air quietened him. He whimpered softly as she moved to the living room, where she placed him on the rug before the empty grate.
    “There, that’s better,” she said, smiling as she knelt before him, hoping to have a smile in return. He just stared at her with his big blue eyes, but she tickled his round tummy and was rewarded with a giggle. He was getting bigger so quickly. It hadn’t been long ago she could leave him lying there as she worked and he’d be safe. Now if she turned her back for a moment he would crawl off somewhere more interesting.
    “Are you hungry?” she asked as he reached for her. “Already?”
She gathered him in her arms and sat in the chair by the fireplace to feed him. She had worked hard today, washing and baking. She hoped he’d sleep after his feed, and give her time to rest herself.

***

    She woke to his wailing and sighed. Her head hurt, as it generally did when her sleep was interrupted. Her husband rolled over to face her and mumbled something, but she hushed him. She would get up to quiet the baby and let him sleep.
    Her candle had burnt down while she slept. Moonlight highlighted the cracks in the shutters and allowed her to see her way to the cot by the shades of grey. The baby’s cries were angry and urgent, as though he was in pain. He was kicking his legs in the air as he shrieked, and his tiny fists were clenched. She reached in to lift him out, but before her fingers touched him she could feel the heat radiating from his body. She was afraid to touch him. She put a finger to his wrinkled forehead and yelped at the burning of his skin.
    “Mark!” she cried. “Get up! Something’s wrong.”
    She didn’t try to lift him for fear of dropping him, so stood uselessly looking down at his face. Her husband stumbled to her side and blinked down at the screaming child.
    “Maybe he just needs feeding?”
    “He’s too hot, Mark, feel him. I think . . . I think someone has brought the curse on us.”
    Mark put his hand to the baby’s forehead and the little hands latched onto his bare arm. The sickly smell of burnt hair began to fill the room but Mark didn’t move.
    “Fetch the doctor,” he said.
    She spared little thought for the shame of having to go herself, but hitched her nightdress up and ran barefoot through the street to the doctor’s house. A learned man who came at no small price, his house had a wall higher than her own. She clambered over the gate, for her hands shook too much to open it, and hammered on the door.
    She was shivering by the time he opened it to her, but couldn’t feel the cold. She could only blurt out that they needed him before she broke into sobs. He came with her at once, throwing a coat over his dressing gown.
They could hear the baby’s cries from halfway down the street, and she cried harder to think that his little throat must be raw with screaming.
    “He’s burning up,” Mark said as they entered the bedroom. “What’s wrong with him, Doctor?”
    He had detached his arm from the child and lit a candle. She could see red welts on his arm where he’d been gripped. The doctor hurried to see into the cot, and swore.
    “What is it?” she asked, and gasped as she peered over his shoulder. The child’s face was scarlet, and his eyes, open wider than she’d ever seen them, were bright yellow.
    “Oh, gods help us!” she said. “What’s happening to my baby?”
The doctor turned to her, his lips a tight line and his brow furrowed.
    “I can’t help you,” he said. “It’s the curse. Only magic can save him from magic.”
    “No!” she shook her head, and her husband caught her trembling hands before she could grab the doctor by the collar. “There are no magicians in this town! There must be something we can do.”
    “I’m sorry, Madam, but this is no natural sickness. Do you want me to inform the witch-finders?”
    “Yes!”
    “No,” Mark said. “That won’t help him. We must employ a magician to redirect this curse.”
    “Someone has cursed our child,” she growled at him, “and we can’t let that go unpunished. No one has a license in this town. They must be brought to justice!”
    “One man has a license,” Mark said. “Our lord. And I shall go to him at once.”
    “Be sure that you do,” the doctor said. “The child will burn out; he doesn’t have long.”
    “Wait!” she shrieked, breaking from Mark’s grip to follow the doctor from the room. “I beg you, Doctor. Send for the witch-finders.”
    “As you wish, Madam.”

Her book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/The-Cursed-ebook/dp/B00433U1EU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351668472&sr=8-1&keywords=the+cursed+lisa+farrell

Jason Spells It Out….

30 Oct

On the eve of Halloween, GSP Halloween Promo welcomes back Violetta Antcliff.

Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.

We are featuring her latest release, Jason Spells it Out, in time for Halloween. Congratulations Violetta and we wish you loads of sales.

Jason finds himself in troubles of the worst kind when he meets up again with the evil hobgoblin Shrug. How can he stop the Wizard’s book of magic from falling into Shrug’s hands? Magenta, a witch whose broomstick he’d once rescued, is under his spell, thinking she is in love with him. Jason knows without his help she’ll be fooled into telling him where the book of magic is. He has to act, and fast; can a love potion be the answer to his problems? Or will it just add to them?

Excerpt:
Jason was restless; he couldn’t get to sleep—something bad was going to happen and he sensed it. The house was not only quiet, it was unnaturally quiet; no sound of snoring coming from his sisters room or creaking of the cot, from the nursery where little Emily Louise slept.

Jason tossed back the duvet and glanced round the room—it was bathed in beams of moonlight that danced high on the walls and cast shadows in the dark recesses. He got out of bed, padded over to the window, opened it and looked out. At first he saw nothing unusual, nothing different; then from the corner of his eye he noticed a movement. The hairs on his arms quivered as if under attack from static electricity, his heart began to pound erratically and he felt weak at the knees. For a fraction of a second, Jason thought he was going to pass out, but when the wave of dizziness slowly passed, he knew he was going to be all right.

In a daze, he returned to his bed, clambered in and pulled the duvet over his head; he couldn’t believe what he had just caught a glimpse of and wanted to shut it out. He tried to convince himself he was really asleep and just having a bad dream, but he knew he wasn’t, knew the goose-pimples were real and the fearful apparition he’d seen wasn’t a figment of his imagination.

Nerves stretched to breaking point, Jason trembled uncontrollably; he could taste the fear and broke out in a cold sweat. Someone, or something, was in the house, in the bedroom—his bedroom—and he could hear it breathing.

“I know you’re only pretending to be asleep. Aren’t you pleased to see me?” Whoever it was cackled mischievously as if deriving pleasure from his plight.

Jason refused to open his eyes and plugged his ears with his fingers.

“I’ve not come on my own. I’ve brought somebody with me; I told him all about you and what you did.”

Jason screwed his eyes up even tighter and pushed his fingers deeper in his ears. Finally however, curiosity got the better of him and with eyes narrowed, he peered out from behind the duvet.

A woman stood at the foot of his bed, and if Jason hadn’t been so frightened he would have yelled for his dad to come and chase her away. He knew without being told she was a witch because she fit every description he’d ever read about them in books: hook nose, warts; red-rimmed eyes that stared without blinking and a mouth no more than a gash in a white face. Hair blacker than deepest midnight streamed out from beneath a conical shaped hat.

“What . . . what . . . what do you want?” His words came out in short gasps, he was so frightened.

“I told you when you retrieved my favourite broomstick from the clutches of that evil hobgoblin, I wouldn’t forget, didn’t I?” The witch perched herself on the foot of the bed and sat, arms folded, staring at him.

“Did you?” Jason inched away; he still vividly remembered everything about the broomstick and the ride he and Wayne had taken on it. Remembered how it had been whisked away soon as ever they’d landed, but he didn’t recall any witch saying anything; he hadn’t even seen one.

“I said what do you want with me?” Jason demanded bravely.

“It’s reward-time for services rendered for you and your friend . . . where is he, by the way?”

“You mean Wayne? He’s at home in bed where he should be.” Jason wasn’t feeling so frightened now; his nerves had settled, the goose-pimples had disappeared, and his hair was no longer standing on end. And although he felt more in control, he still kept his voice low as he didn’t want his dad to hear and come investigating.

“Shall we go and get him?”

“I said he’s in bed, and I expect fast asleep, as I should be. So you can bog off and don’t forget to close the window on your way out.”

The woman threw her head back and cackled so loud Jason leapt out of bed and rushed over to close the bedroom door. “Shut up, will you?” he mouthed. “Do you want to wake everybody up?”

“Nobody else can hear me but you,” she assured him. “And I am going nowhere without you, so you’d better get used to the idea and get dressed.”

The way the woman’s eyes narrowed, Jason could tell she meant it. He scrambled into his jeans, pulled a T-shirt over his head and pushed his feet into his trainers. “I thought you said you’d brought somebody with you,” he said.

“I have,” replied the witch, “my friend, Bertie Crowsbreath. He’s a warlock, and he’s outside looking after the broomsticks. I’ll call him.”

Eyes closed, head cocked to one side, she muttered something unintelligible under her breath. Less than a split second later there was a whooshing blast, and a broomstick with a man cloaked in black sitting astride it whizzed in through the open window and skidded clumsily to the carpeted floor. The newcomer got to his feet, shook himself, and stood looking around.

“Where have you left my broomstick?” the witch asked, finger wagging.

“Don’t worry, my dear.I’ve parked it on the roof next to the chimney stack. It’s quite safe. I can assure you.”

The man turned his attention to Jason. “And you must be the boy Magenta has told me sooo much about,” he said in a spray of spittle.

“Who’s Magenta?” Jason wondered if they’d gotten the wrong address, he didn’t know anybody called Magenta.

“That’s me,” simpered the witch with a flutter of eyelashes.

“Is it true you have a baby sister?” The warlock rubbed his hands together and licked his lips. “How old is she?” he asked in a lowered voice.

“Ten months. Why?” Jason wondered why the man was interested in his little sister.

“No special reason, dear boy. It’s just that children are so scrumptious at that tender age.”

Apart from his strange appearance, Jason didn’t like the man, didn’t trust him and wanted him to go and take the freaky witch with him. But he sensed they wouldn’t leave unless he went with them.

“I’m dressed,” he said, “but I can’t go anywhere until I’ve scribbled a note for my mum and dad.” Jason was playing for time, hoping to come up with some plausible excuse for not going with them.

He looked for something to write on; a school jotter he been doing his homework in was on the bedside table, so he picked it up and tore a page out. “This’ll do,” he murmured. “Now all I need is a pencil.”

“What for? You’ll be back long before you’re missed. Now stop wasting time and climb up on the broomstick behind Bertie.” Magenta’s mouth twitched at the corner, revealing crooked yellow teeth.

Jason shook his head. He wasn’t ready to go anywhere.

“Come on, stop dithering. Jump on the broomstick behind Bertie. You know there’s nothing to be afraid of, you’ve done it before, and I’ll be right behind you on mine.” The witch put two fingers in her mouth and gave a long, low mournful whistle. Fork lightning streaked across the sky and through the open window Jason caught sight of the second broomstick dipping and diving, countless coloured sparks trailing in its wake.

Seconds later the three of them, on broomsticks that seemed to have grown in size, were swooping and diving over gardens and rooftops as they headed toward Canal Cottages.
Her book is available here : http://www.amazon.com/Jason-Spells-Adventures-Foster-ebook/dp/B009WW8EXM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351614299&sr=8-1&keywords=jason+spells+it+out

The Sainthood Ghost….

29 Oct

Today we welcome Lady Deidre to the GSP Halloween Promo. What she says about herself:
My passions include God, family, and writing. When I’m not playing with my grand-babies, I’m writing newspaper articles, short stories, or working on my trilogy in the hopes of being a novelist some day.
Her book that we are featuring today is The Sainthood Ghost.

When Bella inserts a horror flick into the DVD player, she soon discovers her apartment is being haunted by the sainthood ghost. Tossing the movie jacket into the corridor to rid herself of the problem, only leaves the hallway in danger. Jake, long time friend, comes up with an idea to get rid of the ghost forever.

Excerpt:

The Sainthood Ghost
     She sat huddled on her divan, engrossed in a movie, when the doorbell rang. A frightened Bella yelped, “Son-of-a-ratfink!” as she scrambled for the remote. She clicked off the TV before striding toward the door in her pink flannel pajamas calling, “Who is it?”
     “It’s Jake. Let me in, Bella,” he called, jiggling the doorknob impatiently.
     She swung the door wide, “You scared the crap out of me, dick,” she stated, although she was pleased to see him.
     “I just rang the doorbell,” he said, striding in the living room with a large pizza box. “Besides, you knew I was coming over.”
     “Well, to tell you the truth, just before the doorbell rang the flick I was watching jumped into the horror lane.”
     “That’s why people read the movie jackets, Bella,” he reminded her as he slid the pizza onto the coffee table. “What possessed you to start the movie without me anyway?”
     Bella started to explain when a loud crash exploded from the interior of her bedroom. They both craned their necks toward the intrusive noise and then stared at one another blankly.
     “We better go see,” she finally spoke. She hurried off to investigate with Jake hard on her heels. She examined her neon pink room for a moment before spotting the problem, “My picture fell.”
     “Hmm, that’s weird,” Jake commented casually as she hung the picture back on the wall. “Perhaps, you need a new pink wall hanger,” he smirked.
     “No,” Bella said, standing back to gaze at the photo of Christ. “It’s fine.”
     “It fell for a reason. My guess is the picture leaped to its death to get away from these obnoxious pink surroundings,” he jested.
     She rolled her eyes at him. “Very funny.”
     “Let’s face it, you couldn’t cram another pink object into your hovel if you tried. I’m starved, pinky,” Jake said, heading back to the living room to eat. He plopped down on the white divan in front of his pizza box. He noticed the movie jacket. “Is this what you were watching?” He held it up.
     “Yes,” Bella nodded as she eased down on the divan next to him. “A friend loaned me the movie. She said I would enjoy it because it was a Christian flick.”
     Jake laughed. “She lied. It’s about a gang of evil men called the Sainthoods who go on a killing spree.”
     Bella shivered. “Really, the men appeared handsome and good, but then suddenly this stabbing scene popped me in the eye from nowhere. Freaked me out,” she admitted.
     Jake smiled. “Apparently, you didn’t watch much of the movie because those so-called good men are the knife welders.”
     “That’s just creepy. I hope I don’t have nightmares.”
     Jake opened his pizza box to view the contents. “What’s interesting is that your picture sprang from the wall just after you started the movie,” he commented as he scooped out a large slice.
     “It’s frightening,” she said, leaning over the edge of her divan to peer at her bedroom doorway. The silhouette of a milky white ghostly figure stood watching her. She screamed at the top of her lungs and clutched her pajama collar tightly about her neck from fright.
     Jake dropped his slice of pizza in his lap. “What the . . .”
     “There was a ghost standing in the doorway!” a frightened Bella shouted.

Her book is avaible at this link:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Sainthood-Ghost-ebook/dp/B004UN6JNU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351527716&sr=8-1&keywords=the+sainthood+ghost

Entity’s Promise…….

26 Oct

It’s Friday! This means our ebook give away competition. Our last in the GSP Halloween Promo. Be sure to enter. As usual, further down is a question and the answer will be found in the excerpt below.
Thank you to Shiloh Darke for donating this weekend’s ebook.

Shiloh grew up in an average, mid-sized town in West Texas. As a child, she had a very hard time learning to read. Not only did it seem to her to be a waste of time; it was also hard for her to focus on the words. And let’s just admit it . . . it was so much more fun to daydream of romantic adventures. As a kid, she was full of them! In fact, she could often spin a better story from the pictures in her storybooks than the authors themselves did.
When she was twelve years old, still reading at a second grade level, her mother fought her illiteracy by giving Shiloh her very first Harlequin romance. It took her a month to read the story, but reading it did the trick and flipped the switch for her. By the end of her fifth grade year, she was reading at a seventh grade level and anxious for the next book she could get.
 Soon, Shiloh was reading any and every romantic book (translate that term as mostly romance novels) she could get her hands on. At the age of fifteen, she discovered Bram Stoker, whose work inspired the beginnings of her own written storytelling. She wanted to tell stories of love that surpassed time and broke through the barriers of life and death, but with touches of adventure and paranormal suspense as well.
 She began writing short stories and poetry, all haunting tales of love between mortal and immortal souls. At eighteen, she started mapping out her ideas for The Order of Eternals. The result of her meticulous plotting and planning is a staggering list of novels her readers can anticipate with gusto, two of which are currently available in eBook format.
 She lives with her own soul mate and her two children, along with their very own zoo (cats and dogs and elephants no wait! Scratch the elephants . . . but her daughter does have a python. Did we mention she also loves animals, in addition to reading and writing?). She enjoys reading everything from thrillers to mystery and paranormal romance to Gothic novels, as well as writing her own.
The book we are giving away is Entity’s Promise.

Two reporters, Rosalie and Kendra, have been sent by their magazine to investigate a reportedly haunted mansion near the border of Louisiana in the swamps of East Texas. They arrive skeptical, but excited, at the opportunity. Almost immediately, they realize there is more to the old place than meets the eye.

QUESTION: Outside which town is Kensington Cross located? Please send your answers to annehpetzer@gmail.com. The competition closes Sunday evening Central European time and winners notified Monday evening Central European time.

The two specters sat on the roof of the old house, watching the road. It was a lazy day with a gentle breeze blowing, and both souls enjoyed watching it rustle the leaves in the trees. The scene was relaxing.
    Connor turned to Gavin. “You are sure the ladies are comin’ today?”
    Without even glancing in the other ghost’s direction, Gavin nodded. “Ya, today is the day they should be arrivin’. I heard the old man make the reservation myself.”
    The other spirit looked back toward the road. “Do ya think it’ll be  them?”
    That brought Gavin’s head up. “I do no’ know if the other one is meant for you. But I heard the voice of the one who made the reservation. I felt her soul callin’ ta mine. She is meant for me.”
    Connor opened his mouth to ask yet another question, but stopped when Gavin held up his hand, then pointed toward the road. The women were coming.
 
ARRIVAL
 
    Kensington Cross stood in glorious splendor against the backdrop of the swamp. Located outside of the town of Jefferson, near the edge of the Louisiana border, it stood proud amongst the pines of the forest. The two women pulled into the small but empty parking lot with expressions of open-mouthed awe at the sight before them. It reminded them of an old Southern plantation mansion, even though it was surrounded on all four sides with forest.
    Sharing a happy look and a giggle of excitement, they grabbed their luggage and headed in to the old home to check in and get started. As excited as they were, this trip was not for fun. It was research. Kensington Cross was supposed to be one of the most haunted places in Texas. The story would fit into the Texas history magazine perfectly for the next issue.
Rosalie had brought her trusty camera with the night vision on it in hopes of catching something on film, while Kendra was looking forward to finding the motivation to write one of the best stories she could come up with while they were here. Of course, she was also hoping to  indulge her whim to begin her first novel. They were here for a week; longer if they found anything.
    After they checked in, the elderly innkeeper led the two women through the deserted inn, speaking animatedly about the history of the place. “Kensington Cross was built in the early eighteenth century. Originally, it was owned by an ancestor of mine. He built it for his betrothed as a wedding gift. During the civil war, it was a refuge to many a soldier, as well as slaves who needed aid.” He gave the women a hesitant glance. “Of course, neither one knew about the other. They had to be very careful back then. It wouldn’t have served to have our home taken from us for playing both sides. Soldiers were housed here. Runaway slaves were given sanctuary in the basement.”
    He sighed and ran his fingers through his silver hair before changing the subject. “My family redesigned it when I was just a child to serve as a bed and breakfast before the second World War.”
    Kendra found herself fascinated with his story. Unable to stop herself, she asked, “Did anyone in your family keep any records?” She hesitated before adding, “A journal, perhaps?”
    He watched her closely for a few moments before giving her a wink. “If we had such things, I can assure you, we would only be sharing them with the most trustworthy individuals . . .” he raised an eyebrow and pressed a finger to his lips before adding, “If one or two such journals made their way into your possession, I’m sure I would have no idea how.”
    Rosalie smirked, biting her lip. “I’m sure we would be very discreet with anything we found.”
    “Our home has had its share of ups and downs over the years. There were a few times when we  were afraid we would lose it.” As he led them up the spiraling staircase, he gestured around at the paintings that spanned the generations more than two centuries of. “However, as you can see, we have stood the test of time.”
    The two women, Rosalie, and Kendra, both followed his gestures with their eyes. “I can see the place has been kept up beautifully.” Rosalie offered with a friendly smile.
    The gentleman inclined his head in gracious acceptance of her praise, taking in her dancing green eyes and long auburn hair. “Of course, the establishment is almost an empty shell during this part of the year,” he explained with a smile. “You ladies will have the whole place to yourselves. Aside from us, that is.” He sighed after a moment, adding under his breath, “And the ghosts.”
    “Ghosts?” Kendra repeated in question. “How many? Do you know?”
     The kindly elder just answered, “Oh, we have many ghosts here. If they be wanting you to know of their existence . . . you can bet, they’ll be dropping in to say hello.” His eyes sparkled as he offered the brunette a mischievous smile.
    Kendra and Rosalie exchanged a look but held their silence as the innkeeper handed them each a key. This is your floor. Your rooms are right across the hall from each other.” He pointed to the room between them, “This bathroom is shared between you. If you lock this outer door, it can be accessed from your rooms and you won’t have to worry about strangers surprising you.”
    Thanking him, Rosalie and Kendra shared a smile. When Rosalie turned and went into her room, Kendra looked down the hall, feeling a strange sense of being watched. Brushing the feeling off, she opened the door and entered into her room as well.   

The Blood that Flows….

25 Oct

Today we welcome Stephanie Van Orman to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Stephanie Van Orman often writes under the online alias Sapphirefly. Stephanie has written ten online novels since 2001. You may remember her from such online novels as ‘Vampire Kiss’, ‘Mark of the Dragon’, ‘Rose Red: Model 85001’, and ‘Whenever You Want’. ‘The Blood that Flows’ is her sixteenth completed project.

We are featuring The Blood that Flows in this post.

I just wanted to root through Marshall’s files. That was my only reason for getting a job in a Private Investigator’s office. If I didn’t figure out what was happening to my sister soon . . . No. That was a lie. I knew what was happening to London. She was looking for a human and when she found one that suited her tastes, she was going to drink the poor sucker’s blood. If things went bad, he’d drink hers and then I’d have another mess to clean up. The last mess was her previous boyfriend. Yeah, I killed him, but you should have seen what he was about to do to her. I’m lucky that hasn’t come back to bite me, because vampire revenge is uglier than sin.
Excerpt:

Chapter One
Not Just a Bubblegum Girl

“A vampire goes through four phases in its development. One of you two must be able to tell me about them,” Detective Marshall said gruffly. He looked from Dudley to me, like he was expecting one of us to raise our hand.

Neither one of us moved. Why should we? This wasn’t bloody school. We were sitting on mismatched chairs in his cramped office, which smelled of tobacco and old French fries. A pile of paper appeared on the verge of sliding onto the floor from the top of Marshall’s filing cabinet, and I suspected a wad of gum ground into the carpet was stuck to my shoe.

Marshall just enjoyed talking like this. A former police chief in some distant city before he’d resigned and moved here to lay down the law about vampires—which would have worked, except the Chief of Police here was a closet blood sucker. With Marshall’s passion for slaying vampires, it was impossible for him to keep a job working with police who sympathized with the undead. So, about ten years before he’d started working as a detective for the masses of humans who hadn’t quite gotten the memo. This was a vampire city.

Me? Yeah, I got the memo. I got it when I was fifteen. Did I know the different phases a vampire went through? Well, I knew some of them, but remained unclear on what happened after a certain point. One thing I knew for sure—vampires were not invincible. As for the rest, I’d come here hunting for the gory details of their lifespan, since things in my life had taken a distinct turn for the worst. I couldn’t let Marshall know that. He wouldn’t trust me if he thought I was a newbie, so I returned his gaze patiently and acted bored, but willing to let him play teacher all day.

I didn’t know Dudley’s story. He looked like he was in his late twenties with dark eyebrows and a rough five o’clock shadow. His expression read like a tombstone. The message was simple—dead men don’t talk, and neither do I. Too bad really, since he looked like a movie star from black and white film noir.

Marshall waited for several long moments before he grunted, “Get out. You’re both worthless.”

Unfortunately, both Dudley and I were in Marshall’s office for a job interview. Dudley was applying to be Marshall’s partner; I, to be his receptionist. Dudley was a private detective already. And me—as I said before, my aspirations were fewer. I just wanted to root around Marshall’s files and get as much information on vamps as I could before I got canned.

I cleared my throat, directed my gaze pointedly at Dudley and said, “Sorry, I rather hoped this would be a private interview.”

“I don’t have time for private interviews,” Marshall said crossly.

I ground my teeth together. I didn’t want to have to do this, but it was better to act like a fool than to let a vampire hunter masquerading as a private detective in on my true stance. Dumb girl routine number four coming right up. “I’m not interested in vamps,” I said, twirling a lock of my hair. I wouldn’t be able to use that routine after I turned twenty-four, so I had to get good use out of it while I could. “I’d rather answer your phone, sort your messages and keep your files straight than get involved with crap that could kill me. I thought you just stalked married women who strayed from the path.”

Marshall gave me a weird look, and then opened a jar on his desk and offered me a piece of round pink bubblegum. Probably the same stuff that had been stomped into the carpet.

I shook my head and said, “No thanks. I’m trying to cut back.”

He smiled. He liked me. No problem. I was in.

“Okay, so girlie here is too smart to get involved with vamps. What about you, Boy?”

Dudley shook his head coolly and recited in a disinterested tone, “A vampire goes through four cycles. First, they are a human who has been tagged by a vampire to be their mate. If the human is unwilling, it will die.”

“And if the human is willing?”

“Then they will end up sharing massive quantities of their own blood with the vampire as well as drinking the vampire’s blood. A human won’t make the transformation into a vampire unless they consume at least ten liters of vampire blood over a two-month period. During this time, both parties experience a drug-like euphoria where they believe that they can’t possibly live without the other. Even ancient vampires can fall into this hole. Many of them can’t bear to kill their lover, even though they know what will inevitably happen next. Once this first phase is complete, the human is a new vampire and even if it is unreasonable, both the new vampire and the old one are filled with suspicion and anger toward each other. The old vampire liked the human and is disgusted by them once they change, so much so that they will murder them if they have the chance. The new one thinks the old one is jealous of their newfound power and beauty. I’m sure there are plenty of different emotions experienced, but in the end—one of them will kill the other. I’ve never heard of a case where one of them didn’t die. Then there’s the third phase, where the vampire who survived is basically not a nuisance to anybody. They don’t kill in the third phase.”

All of this, I knew. It was beyond this that I hit unfamiliar territory. What happened in the fourth phase?

Dudley looked indifferent, but he continued. “In the final stage, they want to mate, but vampires don’t exactly mate. They either make a new vampire out of a human and die, or they repeat the process of falling in love over and over again without giving up their legacy. That path turns them into killing machines and causes no end of trouble. I’m sure you’ve seen it.”

Marshall shook his head carefully. Then he looked at me and said, “Be careful who you date.”

The book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Blood-That-Flows-ebook/dp/B005R3T5NS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351178512&sr=8-1&keywords=the+blood+that+flows

Awareness….

24 Oct

Today we welcome Rowan Shannigan to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Rowan Shannigan has always harbored a deep fascination for the paranormal. She believes in Ghosts! She believes Angels watch over us. She knows Demons stalk us and she really wishes Elves were around to be yummy and heroic when we need them for inspiration!

Rowan lives in Texas with her son and her very own Soul Mate. Her house is filled to the brim with love and laughter, not to mention a few ghosts here and there. Oh, and more than just a few cats! You can’t forget the cats!

Awareness is Rowan’s first Young Adult novel, with two more books planned out for this, the Awakening Awareness series. She also writes Romance for adults under the pen name of Shiloh Darke.

The book that we are featuring today is Awareness.

Waking in the hospital after a car accident nearly claims her life is a serious jolt to Rebecca, a sixteen-year-old with a promising future. Learning she had been there for over a week is pretty nerve-wracking as well. But that isn’t what really bothers her. No, what is really bothering her is her newfound ability to see shadows no one else around her can see, and to hear voices no one else can hear. Then, the ghost of a little boy materializes in the middle of her room, walks right up to her and starts talking. TO HER! In front of her mother, no less.

Now she has to re-learn everything she once believed to be true about the world she lives in, and what is real in that world is becoming a pretty daunting task to face. Because ghosts she can see and hear are not the only ones popping out of the woodwork; let’s just say . . . Elves and Angels, demons and Faeries, oh my! And would someone please just answer this one question: What’s a girl supposed to do for a good night’s sleep?

Excerpt:

One—Voices

Voices . . . the first thing I remembered hearing when I woke up in the hospital that morning. I was confused and disoriented. My mother sat perched near me with a worried expression on her face, but all I could do was take everything in.

I was lying in a bed with tubes connected to me. Shadows danced along the pristine walls, but had no apparent point of origin. Who did the shadows belong to?

Voices; hundreds of voices whispered all around me, but I saw no physical body for any of them. My heart sped up as I looked around, trying to make sense of it all. Surely I was going crazy. I had no other explanation for it, though.

My inner musings were interrupted when the doctor entered and greeted me with a smile. “Well, look at you! All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.”

I glanced from the doctor to my mother and back again. “What’s going on?” I asked in a voice that was hoarse from disuse. “Why am I here?”

Mother leaned forward and took my hand. “Baby, you were in a car accident. You’ve been unconscious for six days.” Tears welled in her eyes. “I’ve been so worried.”

Swallowing the lump that had formed in my throat, I whispered. “Is everyone else okay?”

Squeezing my hand, Mom nodded. “You were the only one who had to be admitted. Everyone else went home that first day.”

“Thank God,” I responded, closing my eyes. When I opened them, a woman was standing just to the left of my mother, looking down at me with a curious expression.

Then, just as fast as she had appeared, she vanished. I blinked and reached up to rub my eyes, trying to clear them of the days of crusty sleep that had built up in the corners. Surely I was seeing things. How bad were my injuries? Did I have a concussion?

“So, what’s wrong with me? When do I get to go home?” I asked quietly.

The doctor smiled. “Well, I’m keeping you for a little longer, just to make sure your head injury is truly on the mend. But I think we can probably let you go home in time for the weekend.”

When he spoke, a shadow raced past him, drawing my attention as it stopped just as abruptly and turned toward me. As I watched, it moved closer and a face took shape.

The boy looked me over intently before offering me a lopsided grin. “Don’t tell him you see me, or they’ll transfer you to the State Hospital, just as sure as I’m floating around.”

He glanced over toward my mom and the doctor, adding, “They’re watching. You need to tell them your head’s hurting and ask them to turn down the lights.” Glancing back at me, he clicked his tongue. “Trust me. Do it now!”

Without even thinking, I turned and covered my eyes with my hands. “I’m sorry. The lights hurt my eyes. Can we turn them off?”

The doctor nodded. “Of course; you have a couple of hours until lunch. Why don’t you try to get some more sleep?” Turning to my mother, he smiled. “She seems to be in the clear now. I’ll be back to check on her later.”

She offered him tears of gratitude, and I watched, feeling pretty overwhelmed. I wondered silently how close I had actually been to dying.

“Oh, you were close,” the boy said. “They’ve been in and out of here for days.”

I looked back at the boy, who had now materialized completely to stand beside me. He couldn’t have been any older than twelve, but he seemed very with it. Glancing over, I saw my mother was standing at the door, talking to the doctor still, so I could respond without worry of being overheard.

Looking back at the boy, I asked quietly, “They? Who are they?”

He looked from me to my mother, then back at me. “Okay, two rules. One: you don’t talk to me. I can hear your thoughts. You don’t want just anyone seeing you talking to things they can’t see. They’ll think you’re crazy.” He smiled. “And second: don’t ask questions you aren’t prepared to hear the answers for.”

He chuckled. “I’ll come back tonight after your mom goes home. It’ll be easier for you to understand me and not freak her out by talking to imaginary friends she probably can’t believe in.” He smiled and reached to touch my arm, but stopped, holding his hand just inches from my skin.

Fascinated, I watched as the hair on my arm directly below his hand stood straight up. A chill ran through me, making me shiver. I could feel him. But I knew he had no physical body.

He stepped back. “Just don’t freak out at what you see today. The things you see here in the daylight won’t hurt you. I’ll explain when I come back tonight.”

With those few wise words, he vanished, exactly like the woman who’d been standing beside Mom earlier had. To say I was shaken would have been an understatement. This went beyond anything I’d ever imagined possible.

“Well, baby girl, it looks like you’ll be going home soon,” Mom said as she moved back to take the seat beside my bed. “That’s wonderful.”

I turned to smile at her. “Yeah,” I answered. “That’s good.” And it was. I just wasn’t sure this other thing was good. But how could I tell her about that? I mean, I was seeing ghosts. Wasn’t I? How was that even possible?

Or maybe I had just hit my head so hard this was all still a hallucination and I only thought I was awake! Yeah. That sounded like the better option. It was a heck of a lot easier to believe than the version of ghosts, disembodied voices, and shadows dancing all over the walls. I mean, move over, space cadet . . . Psycho in ward three!

Okay, so ghosts were real. All right, I could buy that. I mean, it was actually pretty cool . . . on a really weird, spooky, don’t-tell-anyone kind of way. But they didn’t need to talk to me. I mean, no way was I going to continue seeing them. I could refuse. Couldn’t I?

I was soon to learn just how impossible it would be to ignore the spirits that float around us every single day of our lives. I was also about to learn the plans I had been making for my life were no longer an option.

Two—Ghosts and Angels

Later that night, my mother kissed me goodbye and promised to be back early in the morning. I had to clasp my hands together to keep from grabbing her and begging her not to leave me. I didn’t want to be alone. But I was too old to act like a baby.

It was just all too crazy. I wasn’t prepared to handle it with people all around me during the daylight. How the hell was I supposed to handle it at night with no one—no one alive, that is—here?

Biting my tongue, I waved goodbye as she walked out the door. Then, I counted. One-one-thousand, two-one thousand, three . . . nothing. Maybe I had only been hallucinating. Nope, I had quit counting too soon.

“Hi there! Miss me?” His voice almost made me jump completely out of the bed.

Gasping, I turned to look at the boy I had seen earlier, now perched precariously at the foot of the mattress. “Don’t do that!” I growled. “You scared my heart half out of my chest!”

He tilted his head, considering my words and looking at the vicinity around my heart. “Still looks like it’s beating in place to me.”

I fought the urge to throw my pillow at him. Instead, I tried the calm, I-don’t-believe-in-you approach. “You are figment of my imagination. I am going to sleep now and you . . .” I grumbled, pointing at him, “. . . are going to go invade someone else’s nightmares.”

He actually looked insulted. “Hey!” he pointed back, “I’m here to give you a quick lesson. You had better be nice, because I’m not going to help you at all if you’re gonna act like that!”

I groaned, shaking my head. “You are not real! I hit my head and I am just hallucinating!” I pointed, wagging my finger at him. “I don’t need a lesson. I need to get some sleep so tomorrow they’ll decide they can let me go home.” I rolled my eyes. “You’re younger than me anyway. What could you possibly teach me?
Her book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Awareness-Rowan-Shannigan/dp/1619500450/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1351096943&sr=8-3-fkmr0&keywords=awareness+rowan+shinnagan

Eternal Moon….

23 Oct

Today we welcome Shiloh Darke to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Shiloh grew up in an average, mid-sized town in West Texas. As a child, she had a very hard time learning to read. Not only did it seem to her to be a waste of time; it was also hard for her to focus on the words. And let’s just admit it . . . it was so much more fun to daydream of romantic adventures. As a kid, she was full of them! In fact, she could often spin a better story from the pictures in her storybooks than the authors themselves did.
    When she was twelve years old, still reading at a second grade level, her mother fought her illiteracy by giving Shiloh her very first Harlequin romance. It took her a month to read the story, but reading it did the trick and flipped the switch for her. By the end of her fifth grade year, she was reading at a seventh grade level and anxious for the next book she could get.
    Soon, Shiloh was reading any and every romantic book (translate that term as mostly romance novels) she could get her hands on. At the age of fifteen, she discovered Bram Stoker, whose work inspired the beginnings of her own written storytelling. She wanted to tell stories of love that surpassed time and broke through the barriers of life and death, but with touches of adventure and paranormal suspense as well.
    She began writing short stories and poetry, all haunting tales of love between mortal and immortal souls. At eighteen, she started mapping out her ideas for The Order of Eternals. The result of her meticulous plotting and planning is a staggering list of novels her readers can anticipate with gusto, two of which are currently available in eBook format.
    She lives with her own soul mate and her two children, along with their very own zoo (cats and dogs and elephants no wait! Scratch the elephants . . . but her daughter does have a python. Did we mention she also loves animals, in addition to reading and writing?). She enjoys reading everything from thrillers to mystery and paranormal romance to Gothic novels, as well as writing her own.

Her book that we are highlighting is Eternal Moon.

Darmetheus has been alive for a very long time. A Werewolf Eternal, he’s seen it all. Or so he thinks. But when he takes what he thinks is going to be a vacation from the daily hassle of fighting EVIL, he winds up in the fight of his life.

Lilith is a sassy, beautiful brunette with a secret talent. A talent that makes her a walking target. She’s more than eye candy to these immortal villains and they’re willing to kill in order to possess her.
But this enemy is no stranger to him and he is torn. The rebel in him wants to just walk away and leave Lilith to her fate. The hero in him won’t let him. Or is that his heart? 

Excerpt:
”  No. I don’t think they’re targeting me,”  she lied. ”  I just think that these guys are taking girls that are psychically talented.”  She shrugged before continuing, ”  I can easily hide my gift. It isn’t very noticeable. I just wouldn’t want to lead anyone to you if there were any of them watching me. You know?”  Penny scoffed on the other end. ”  I don’t do my talent openly!”
    Lilith chuckled softly at that, ”  Yeah, but you don’t not do it in the privacy of your own home, either.”  she sighed. ”  I’m just not willing to take the risk, okay?”
    Penny groaned. ”  Okay, all right. But listen, you have to promise me that you will get your ass out here if matters get worse. Okay? There is safety in numbers. Got it?”
    Just as Lilith opened her mouth to answer, she saw a wolf run into the safety of her yard. That wasn’t not possible! Surely one of those damn things hadn’t found a way through the magical barrier she’d worked so hard to put into place.
    Flipping the light switch in the kitchen off, she stood in the darkness weighing her options. A clearing throat on the other end of the phone line reminded her that her friend was still there.
    ”  Penny, I promise, okay? Now let me let you go before we run up the phone bill so much we can’t talk again this month! I love you, bye!”  As she hung up the phone, she watched the wolf shift into human form before her eyes. When he made for the front door of her cottage, she cursed, running into the hall. Grabbing her shotgun, she prepared herself for whatever was about to take place.
 ****
    Soon he reached what he’d been seeking, an old abandoned cottage. Enough human scents lingered around the old house that maybe it would throw that thing off of his trail. Glancing around, he looked for some sign of the beast. When he found he was indeed alone, he let go of his hold on the wolf’s form and became a man.
    Moving quickly, he stepped into the cottage he’d known would be here, thankful he’d not forgotten the way. When he closed the door, he heard a shocked intake of breath. He pivoted toward the sound and found a dark-haired woman with startling blue eyes and a rifle aimed at his head. ”  So, tell me,”  she spoke slowly. ”  Did a thief steal your clothes, or did you shed them to become one of those things outside?”
    Darmetheus faced her with wide eyes. Raising his hands in a gesture of surrender, he spoke softly. ”  You are safe, okay? I am not one of those things.”
    The girl gave an exasperated laugh with a roll of her eyes. ”  Yeah . . . and I’m Santa Claus’ cousin.”
    Darmetheus couldn’t stop himself. ”  Merry Christmas,”  he said in a low voice. His eyes never left hers. He could take the gun from her in mere seconds, but that would only alarm her more. So instead, he stood stock still and tried to reason with her. ”  Come on, think about it. I was riding my bike through town. Those things jumped me and I ran.”
    The girl stepped out of the shadows and closer to him, giving him a better view of her stunning looks. She was short. No more than five-foot, two with long black hair and eyes that looked like a clear sky in winter. ”  Really? Then where are your clothes?”
    He would have been completely mesmerized by her looks if he hadn’t found himself staring down the barrel of her shotgun. Yeah, idiot! Lie your way out of that one! Darmetheus winced at the thought. “I took them off. A piece here, a piece there, trying to scatter my scent.”
    Indecision seemed to cloud her crystal blue eyes for a moment before she lowered the gun slightly. ”  You swear to me, you aren’t one of those things?”
    He nodded. ”  Yes. I swear. I was just passing through. I would have gone a different way if I’d known there were rabid dogs out and about.”
    Shivering at the thought, she whispered, ”  Those things aren’t dogs. They aren’t even wolves.” Lowering her shotgun, she moved to the closet and pulled out a large t-shirt, and a pair of sweats. ”  This might fit you, I guess.”
    He caught the clothes she tossed at him and looked at the bright pink t-shirt with disdain. ”  Do you have anything a little less . . . feminine?”
    Snickering, she rolled her eyes for the second time since they’d met. ”  Not that would fit you, I don’t.”  She said, looking his masculine frame over. ”  You’re huge!”  She sat the gun down in the corner and moved to lock the door. ”  I’m Lilith. My father bought this cottage when I was little. I moved in when all the crazy things started happening in town.”
    Darmetheus quirked an eyebrow at her. ”  But, why wouldn’t you just stay in town? Isn’t it safer there?”  Lilith shook her head. ”  No. Those things aren’t intimidated by locked doors, or silver . . . or much of anything else, for that matter. They’ll come right into your home and steal you from your bed. The only people that don’t seem to be too bothered are the ones who don’t live in town.”
    He frowned. ”  Well, that’s weird.”    

This book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Eternal-Moon-Shiloh-Darke/dp/0982325169/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351004570&sr=8-1&keywords=eternal+moon+shiloh+darke

Texas Vampire Mini-Massacre….

22 Oct

Today we welcome Laney Stryker to the GSP Halloween Promo.

Laney Stryker is a pen name used by author Julie Kimbrell. Julie lives in Arkansas with her husband and two children. She loves to read but writing is her passion. Over the past two years, Julie’s been honored by having numerous titles both YA and Adult Romances published by various e-publishers.

Her book that we are featuring for today is Texas Vampire Mini-Massacre.

Cheyenne McAlister is a cancer survivor by day and vampire slayer by night (in her dreams). When she answers a peculiar employment ad in the paper, Cheyenne finds more than she bargained for. Not only is the ad a trap, but she meets Garrett Sims, who’s also checking on the ad. She finds herself intrigued by the boy, but ends up disappointed after a miscommunication. Can Cheyenne get past what she learned about Garrett? Will the two join forces and kick some Vampire butt?

Excerpt:

Though 8:30 a.m. doesn’t seem early to most people, it is for me. Normally, I sleep until noon, but yesterday Mom put the kibosh on that. “Cheyenne, it’s time you got up off your ass and stopped feeling sorry for yourself. You will get a job or else.”

That’s what she said to me. So, of course I wanted to make her happy, and I set my alarm for 8:00 a.m. With the newspaper in my hands and a steaming cup of coffee in front of me, I got busy. Unfortunately, the classifieds caught my eye first, so that’s where I started.

First thing, I found an announcement about Vampires that piqued my interest, but had to flip the paper over quickly at the sound of Mom’s voice. I scoured for the employment section, and found big circles already drawn around certain ads. Mom already scoped it out, which I should’ve expected.

“Cheyenne!” Mom’s voice rudely interrupted my thoughts. “Did you find the paper I left on the table for you?” Her footsteps clip-clopped down the hardwood stairs. “There were a ton of good jobs in there today. I’ve circled the ones I thought you might like.” She appeared in the kitchen and was hovering over me within seconds.

I’d already found the one that interested me in the Announcements, but I went along just to please her. “I’m reading through them all first, then I’ll make a few phone calls.” The unenthused tone must’ve given my mood away.

“Honey, I know you’d rather stay in the house and be a hermit forever, but it’s time you moved on. The cancer is gone, and you’re fine. Your beautiful hair’s finally grown out again, and you look vibrant and ready to take on the world.”

“Thanks.” I didn’t want to get into another discussion about my ridiculously low self-esteem and lack of interaction with people my age.

She kissed my cheek. “Gotta get to the hospital. I’ll see you tonight.”

“Bye.”

I waited until the door slammed and her car started before flipping over the paper and staring at that the big bold letters.

WE WANT YOU!
VAMPIRES ARE TAKING OVER THE TOWN
IF YOU WANT TO LIVE, JOIN US NOW!
INTERVIEWS MONDAY AT MIDNIGHT
WILL HEAVILY COMPENSATE VOLUNTEERS
No phone calls please
666 Dreary Lane

After reading the words over and over until I had them memorized, I contemplated exactly what the ad meant. Did someone have a vampire problem and need a hand getting rid of them? Maybe it meant the complete opposite, which would’ve been a good way for a vamp to lure some unsuspecting soul into his world then suck the life right out of them. I assumed the latter since the interview was at midnight.

I drained the coffee cup, then folded the page into fourths and tucked it in the front pocket of my baggy camouflage utility pants. Quickly, I brushed the dark, wavy hair that finally hit my shoulders after a full year of occasional trims, and pulled the auburn locks into a bun on top of my head. Running downstairs, I remembered my old but loyal car had no gas, just like my bank account had no money.

Book is available at: http://www.amazon.com/Texas-Vampire-Mini-Massacre-ebook/dp/B004UH1LE8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350927946&sr=8-1&keywords=texas+vampire+mini+massacre

The Haunted Spring….

10 Oct

Today we welcome Anthony Diesso on our GSP Halloween Promo.

About Anthony. “I currently live in Northern California with my wife and two children (they’re growing so fast – my kids, I mean: my wife is maintaining her usual size, and I’ve leveled off, too). The Haunted Spring not only reflects my interest in ghosts (which are constantly hiding my car keys), but also in the experiences of an NICU ward, in which my wife and I spent three months after the birth of our first child.”

His new release The Haunted Spring is our featured book for this post.

ay Bennett, a comfortably maladjusted man in his early 20’s, finds Anna LaMonica knocking on his apartment door, looking for someone else. Seeing more of each other, however, they quickly fall in love. After overcoming an extended separation, as well as hostile family and friends, they marry and begin a new life together.

But Anna’s sudden death during childbirth leaves Jay to watch over their infant, born premature and requiring an extensive hospital stay. Grief-stricken, helpless, and alone, he is tormented by apparitions of his lost wife, recalling their love and ruined hopes. These apparitions, at times horrifying, at others pathetic, yet others darkly alluring, threaten to crack loose his grip on reality. Attempting to overcome such frightening occurrences, he struggles to piece together his life, to pull some sanity and hope out of the world around him, and to become a good father to his newborn son.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Knock, knock, knock.

From inside, in comfortable shadows, I just stared at my apartment door.

Knock, knock.

And jogged out of a late afternoon stupor, I put a mailed catalogue aside, hastily aligned a bowl of mushed bran-flakes upon the armrest, and stood up from the sofa. Its springs creaked abruptly with relief as I called out, “Who is it?”

There was a woman’s muffled voice. “I’m very sorry. I was looking for apartment seventeen.”

Pausing a moment without considering anything, I then turned the latch, pulled the knob, and found her waiting. She had auburn hair, which as she backed up from the opening door, was glazed with sudden sunlight, and her eyes, a soft, rich hazel, chilled me instantly. We waited for me to say something, ‘til, helping things along, she stepped forward under the eaves again and into the shadows before me. She wore a dark skirt and a smoky-colored blouse, and her lips curved slightly with embarrassment. I wondered if she could see the bowl of cereal from the door; I also wondered if it was about to tip. And almost looking back, I hastily put it out of my mind, trying to think of nothing as I waited politely.

“The numbers go from sixteen to eighteen,” she said in a more intimate voice, slightly tilting her head to one side, keeping her hands behind her back.

I grinned, nodded like a bobble-head, my own hands gesturing with theatrical intensity, my lips grown a bit stiff. “Yes, it’s on the way, other side of the building. Sharon McClean. I don’t know why they numbered it the way they did. Here, let me show you.”

“Oh, I’d appreciate that. Thank you very much.”
The day narrowed my eyes, along with a surface spangle on the swimming pool; and a reflected light cast wobbly shapes across the walk. I wasn’t much interested in any of that, but it was an excuse to avert my glance, and I fixed eyes on it while speaking, noticing peripherally her slow, legato steps. “So you’re a friend of Sharon’s?”

“Yes, we knew each other in Arizona before she moved out here.”

“Mmm. Where in Arizona?”

“From Flagstaff. I’ve come down for a couple of weeks.”

The walk began to warm my brain up. “Ah, I’ve been there once. A college, mountain town, with lots of forests, all shadowed green and pine. It smelled nice.”

“Some parts better than others, yes. Why were you there?”

“I was looking for my dog.”

“Really? What was it doing in Flagstaff?”

“I don’t know. He could have gone anywhere, so I decided to try Flagstaff. I crossed it off the list.”

She laughed with a pleasant familiarity, and I met her glance, if only briefly.

“Well, here it is.”

A woman waved from the window of apartment 17, a faded shape behind the sun-glare off of tinted glass. Having grabbed our attention, she disappeared into the dark behind the reflected white. Latches worked, the screen-door creaked, and before that nasty slam they make, she had gotten in several sentences.

“Finally! Anna, I thought you were lost. Are you all right? How was the traffic, was it bad? How was the drive?” Smack! “Did you get lost?”

“Yes, no, good, no.” The woman laughed while embracing her friend.

“I was ready to drive out to look for you myself. California has wonderful freeways, but like everything else here, there’s too much to choose from.”

“No, I followed your instructions. They were good. Your neighbor was nice enough to show me to your apartment.”

Sharon was a pleasant enough woman of about 24, rather short, and blonde, with black-rimmed glasses. Like a lapdog, she seemed to have a full-sized nervous system pressed into a smaller frame, and if you didn’t know her, you would think she was looking for someone to report some sort of disaster to. I moved into the complex after her, and she showed me where the mail drop was, the laundry room, the rear parking lot, the pool, all the things the apartment manager shows you in that first grand tour. We were amiable enough, but hardly close, and she probably couldn’t consider me a friend when I was already a neighbor.

But with her visitor, she seemed to view me in a fresh light, or at least to present me in a role I wasn’t expecting: “Jay, that’s nice of you. You’re the protector of travelers, like St. Christopher in cargo pants. I don’t think I even told you she was coming. Anna, this is Jay Bennett. Jay, this Anna LaMonica.”

We smiled awkwardly, as if we had just laid eyes on each other, and whatever corner table nuance our former looks and words conveyed was now entirely lost within a banquet hall exaggeration.

“Jay, would you help Anna with her bags?”

Her friend grinned, shrugged her shoulders. “I only have one bag in the trunk and it’s on wheels, with a handle.”

“Fine. While Jay is helping you to get it out of the trunk, I’ll set out the glasses.”
We nodded to each other, and I walked a step ahead of her, guiding her toward the parking lot.

Returning from the car, the two of us entered the small front yard space, and sat at a round glass table with impressions on it, like fingerprints, that made the two sets of knees and shins and shoes seem as if under ice. Sharon emerged from the apartment with a bottle, and seeing only part of the label, I noticed, in curling, vine-like script, the name of some sort of leaf. She poured the rosé into each of the scarlet-tinted glasses, then sat and watched. I pinched the stem, lifted it, declared, “Well, salute.”

“Salute,” murmured Anna.

“May the road rise up and smack you in the face,” Sharon piped in. “That’s an old drinking toast. At least that’s what my father said.”

I tasted the wine. It was light and sweet, with a slight carbonation that pestered my tongue. It was refreshingly cold for a late, summer afternoon, and would have been just the thing for an alcoholic’s tea-party.

“Anna, I’m glad you’re here. And Jay—thank you for helping with the bags.”

“No, not at all. Thank you.” I lifted my glass again and nodded.

The walk lamps clicked on, producing frail, golden auras. The dusky mood and, of course, the wine, stirred shadowy but pleasant thoughts in me, at least: a number of peculiar and buried recollections, like odors not inhaled for many years. When the conversation drifted toward our childhoods, I mused, “Oh, the things that I believed when I was small: that coins shook in the sunlit trees, and boughs were crooked spider legs. I’d peek out from the window and see those dangling things, and plead with Ma to sweep them from the tree. She’d take a broom, go outside, then come back in to say that everything was fine.”

I stopped talking, conscious that I might be drifting in my conversion, amusing only to myself. I glanced at Anna tenuously: her face was lowered in reflection, its expression cast upward from the table toward me, a lit veil of fixed eyes and slightly parted lips. She traced her finger in the moist imprint left by the base of the wine-glass, and spoke almost in a whisper, “My parents had a small statue of the Virgin, and at night, by the dim candlelight, she would move her eyes or change expression. I told my parents, and they smiled and said it was a miraculous sign.”

“At least they didn’t have to take a broom to it,” Sharon laughed.

“Have you outgrown it?” I asked Anna, after smiling at Sharon’s quip. Given the opportunity, I lingered over her delicate, oval face, her supple, curved lips, her brightly dark and almond eyes; her look turned upward from her finger, gliding as if on ice, to me.

“Mostly,” she replied. “Have you?”

Anthony’s book is available at:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunted-Spring-ebook/dp/B009FDY9C8/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1348931074&sr=8-6&keywords=diesso

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