Tag Archives: Gypsy Shadow


1 Apr

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Rowan Shannigan.

Awareness by Meridian Mychaels

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?



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?”





The Journey Home..

13 Mar

A GSP release from Author of the Week: Joel Plue.

The Journey Home by Joel Plue and Lori Kelly-Bailey

After witnessing the slaughter of her village at the hands of the German Soldiers, little Anya must escape and journey alone across the frozen Russian tundra through a blizzard of epic proportion. Starving and slowly freezing to death, Anya will struggle to separate hallucination from reality. Each day presents a greater obstacle and another lesson learned in survival. She will be forever changed by her circumstance and the stranger that she will meet along the way



In the years prior to the German invasion of Russia, Sasha Zarkova, his wife Tatiana and their young daughter Anya were living happily in their tenement home in Moscow. In the summer months they would travel far from the city to stay with Anya’s grandparents at their cabin in the woods.

Deep in the forests surrounding Moscow, there lived a man named Nikolai Vitrovich and his young daughter Marilyn. Nikolai had lost his wife in a tragic accident some years prior and had become a bit of a recluse. Equipped with tremendous survival skills and a vast knowledge of the wilderness, Nikolai imparted these skills to his daughter, and the two lived quite simply and happily.

In June of 1941 without cause and in direct violation of the peace treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, the German forces began their assault on Russia. It did not take long for the Nazis to advance and conquer Moscow, slaughtering some six hundred, fifty thousand souls and forever changing the lives of the Vitrovich and Zarkova families.

                                                                   Chapter One
                                                            Footsteps in the Snow

All around Nikolai’s small cabin, the cold wind whistled long and low, eerily beckoning, or perhaps warning anyone foolish enough to venture outside. The blinding white snow had fallen heavily for days, coating the tall pines and creating an absence of color and variation in the landscape. It would be nearly impossible for anyone to navigate this terrain. Inside the cabin, Nikolai sat alone in his living room, upright in an old wooden chair. He stared blankly into the hearth where a once roaring fire had burned.

The few smoldering embers that remained barely illuminated his face, revealing a pensive expression and eyes filled with sadness. Nervously, he twisted the grey hair that had grown long around his temples. He questioned the decision he had made, and now contemplated the outcome of the perilous journey that lay before him. With trembling hands, Nikolai slowly raised a small cup to his lips and finished the remainder of his tea. His breath billowed visibly as it mingled with the cold air in the room.

Nikolai stood slowly and walked to the fireplace. He set his cup down and retrieved a photo of his young daughter, Marilyn. He recalled the day it was taken and the purple dress and blue hair ribbon she’d worn. Nikolai held the picture to his chest, then kissed the frame and said to himself with conviction, “I will never stop until I find you,” and with that vow, he placed the photo into his pocket.

Nikolai banked the coals to the back of the fireplace, covering the last few embers and creating a long thin trail of smoke. Night was fast approaching as he hurried to gather the items he needed for his journey. His favorite hunting knife, which he secured to his belt. A satchel, in which he placed one flat iron pan, a thin rope, a flint, some dried meat, and a fresh loaf of bread. Nikolai cinched his boots tightly, bundled himself with a large fur coat and placed a Russian hunter’s hat upon his head. He paused for a moment to take a mental inventory of the home he was about to leave, and then with an audible sigh he stepped out into the cold night air. Nikolai stood on the porch allowing his eyes to adjust to the odd juxtaposition of blinding white snow against a pitch black sky. He shuddered as he thought about the long and uncertain journey ahead of him. Nikolai took a deep breath and forged on away from the safety of his home, across the frozen meadow and into the deep woods leaving nothing behind but a trail of footprints in the snow.





The Golden Mushroom

6 Mar

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: John Paulits.

The Golden Mushroom by John Paulits

Soon-to-be fifth graders, Paul Drummond and Billy Sparks’ summer vacation at the beach with Lige Drummond, Paul’s grandfather, is interrupted when Lige’s best friend Jess Hubbard disappears, and the boys are off to find him in Shumbus, a strange land deep within the Earth.


An old man peered through the curtains which covered the front windows of his house. He saw no cars coming from either direction, so he went out on the porch, sat in his rocking chair, and lit his favorite pipe.

This old man, Jess Hubbard by name, lived in the town of Seaview. The Atlantic Ocean rolled up onto the beach less than a block from his house, and during the quiet hours of evening, he liked to sit and smoke and listen to the crash of the waves. To him it sounded like a weary giant breathing heavily and slowly. During pleasant weather, Jess liked nothing more than to take quiet walks along the shore.

A green car drove by and stopped a few houses away. Jess stopped rocking, took his pipe out of his mouth, and made a sour face when he saw two children tumble from the car, followed by their parents lugging suitcases. The summer season approached. Seaview, his town, would fill up with the kind of people now getting out of the green car. Families with noisy, annoying children. He had put up with it for years, but now something better had come along, and he wouldn’t have to put up with it much longer. He had pondered for a long time over what he planned to do and where he meant to go before he reached a decision—a firm, unshakeable decision.

He turned away from the newly arrived family, the screeching of the children ringing in his ears, and began to rock. He closed his eyes and pictured his bright and happy future out of Seaview. He smiled and felt quite pleased with himself.

                                                                     ~ * ~
Paul Drummond rejoiced as a long and boring year in fourth grade came to an end. Spelling tests, math tests, social studies tests, citywide tests. Tests, tests, tests! Nothing but tests. But no more now! His mother had recently gone back to work—his father had always worked—and so his parents planned to ship him off to his grandfather’s house for the summer in a beach town called Seaview. Paul invited along his best friend Billy Sparks. Billy didn’t have a father, only a mother who worked all day and who happily gave her permission, when Paul’s mother asked for it, to allow her son to spend the ten weeks of summer vacation with Paul at his grandfather’s house.

Suitcases already packed and in the car, Paul’s mother met them outside the schoolyard as soon as school let out for the summer, and they drove off to Seaview.

                                                                      ~ * ~
Lige Drummond, Paul’s grandfather, woke early as he always did and took his usual before-breakfast walk along the beach. After breakfast he went out to sit on his porch. Jess noticed him from across the street and decided to join him.

Both men had white hair, but Jess Hubbard had a lot more of it. He was a little taller and much heavier than his friend Lige. He often bragged to Lige about his sharp eyesight. Lige Drummond would adjust his spectacles and respond with his usual, “Good for you.” Both men smoked pipes. Jess liked to talk, and Lige Drummond didn’t mind listening. They got along well.

“Good morning, Jess,” said Grandfather Drummond.

“Morning,” replied Mr. Hubbard, stepping onto the porch. They sat in silence and smoked for a while.

“The town’s really filling up with summer coming, isn’t it?” remarked Grandfather Drummond.

Jess watched two cars drive by. “What? Oh, yes. Be too crowded for me soon. I like it best when summer’s over, and these people go home. Then the town is quiet and peaceful, the way it should be, with no one to bother us.”

“These people don’t bother me. Things get mighty lonesome and quiet here during the winter. Heh, heh. Look there.”

Half a dozen children crossed the street in front of Grandfather Drummond’s house. The smallest of the group, a girl about four years old, got tangled up in her baby blue, plastic inner tube and fell down, the tube ringing her neck as if someone had thrown it there hoping to win a prize. The other children laughed, and the little girl started to cry. The oldest of the group, a teenage girl, picked up the crying child and, carrying her in one arm and the inner tube in the other hand, continued across the street, the child’s cries slowly dying away.

Jess rolled his eyes, and the two men returned to their pipes.

“Lige,” said Jess, “ever think about going away? Far away. To a different place. No worries, no troubles.”

“Why would I do that? Don’t have many worries or troubles right here,” said Grandfather Drummond. “Seaview’s good enough for me.”

Jess’s pipe had gone out so he spent some time relighting it. The two men chatted for a while about the way Seaview used to be until Jess rose and said, “I’ve got a bunch of things to do, but I’ll see you again, I hope.”

Grandfather Drummond chuckled. “I certainly hope you do, Jess.”

The two men parted.

Grandfather Drummond also had a number of things to do. His grandson and his grandson’s friend would arrive soon, and he looked forward to having them around. It had been a long, lonely winter, and he’d enjoy the company.

He finished grocery shopping by one-thirty—he remembered how young boys could eat—and returned to his porch to await the boys’ arrival. He lazily watched the cars drive by until the red Jeep carrying the boys pulled in front of his house. Paul and Billy piled out and ran shouting to him. After some hugs and how are yous, the boys carried their suitcases upstairs as Grandfather Drummond made lunch for his guests.

Their appetites would have shrunk considerably, though, if they’d seen the angry look on Jess Hubbard’s face as he stared at them from across the street through his front window. The mumbled word, “Traitor,” slipped from his lips. It won’t be long now, he told himself. Tonight is the night.





GSP Author of the Week: John Paulits

3 Mar

Congratulations to GSP Author of the Week: John Paulits.

John Paulits, Author of Philip and the Superstition Kid

John Paulits is a former teacher in New York City. He has published five other children’s novels, four about Philip and Emery, as well as two adult science fiction novels, HOBSON’S PLANET and BECKONING ETERNITY. His previous Gyspy Shadow book, PHILIP AND THE SUPERSTITION KID, was voted best children’s novel of 2010 in the Preditors and Editors readers poll.


Learn more about John here:

 Please watch this space for releases from the author.

Pit Stop…

30 Jan

Another release from Author of the Week Ben Larken.

Pit-Stop by Ben Larken

The last stop on the road to Hell…

Highway patrolman Scott Alders sits in a roadside diner along a desolate stretch of Arizona highway. He doesn’t remember how he arrived. Neither do the other patrons, although their waitress tells them a bus is coming. It will take them the rest of the way to a destination of unspeakable horrors. The group of strangers unite with a common goal—escape. Each of them feels the weight of their own dark secrets. But personal demons are no match for a crimson-eyed bus driver with a schedule to keep.

Larken’s first novel is still one of his most terrifying. Winner of the Epic Award for Best Horror, Pit-Stop now comes with a mini-sequel that spurs the story in a whole new direction. So sit back, have a cup of joe, and soak in the calming, deadly atmosphere of the Pit-Stop Grill—the last attraction on Route 66 you’ll ever want to visit.

“Pit Stop is a non-stop thrill ride. Right up there with King, Barker and Straub.”
               —John Parker, The Southern Horror Writers Association

“Good novels have a hook in the first few pages, but this premise of cheating the devil’s coachman is a fishing line with hooks all along to the last chapter.”

“I didn’t want to put the book down for fear of what might happen next.”
                                                               —Crystal’s Book Reviews


“Can I refill your coffee?”

The question plucked Officer Scott Alders from his haphazard state of meditation, but only slightly. He had been gazing at the spoon next to his thumb, enjoying the gleam of sunlight off its silver. The glare created a crescent of light on his knuckle. He looked up from the spoon and saw a waitress uniform—a pea green dress with a crisp white apron. He scanned her front, pausing at her gnarled white fingers with fire engine red nail polish. He halted again at the throat of her dress, at the way the top button was undone, giving view of a corded neck that he associated with an elderly person. The face was a mental climax. The bony chin. The white little hairs on her upper lip. The lips themselves, also doused in that fire engine red. Her dully arched eyebrows, plucked around the edges. Gray hair with staggering streaks of white. And then the forced smile, revealing teeth the color of old paper.

In another place and time, he would have glanced at the woman in polite acknowledgment and turned away. But at the moment her face fascinated him. It was a landscape of unexplored and somewhat rugged valleys, ridges, and wrinkles. He smiled, noting the way his mustache bristled. He liked that feeling, too. So he smiled harder.

“Can I ask your name?” Scott said, sounding airy and silly and nothing like the man he knew himself to be. It sounded like a pick-up line—one he had used before, no less. Fifteen years ago that had been, the party after graduating the academy. Where he met Stephanie. Geez.

The waitress glanced down at her chest, her pupils lowering in the most intriguingly annoyed way. He followed her gaze and saw a nametag on her apron strap. HOLLY, the plastic tag proclaimed.

“Would you like a refill or not?” she asked, after he stared at the nametag for too long.

He perked up again and nodded, not comprehending the question. No—to anything—simply wasn’t in his vocabulary. Scott beamed as she lifted a coffee pot and poured black liquid into his cup. The smell, he thought, what a luscious smell. The trickling invigorated him even more than the spoon or Holly’s face. When it was over—all too soon, he felt—he looked up again, like a dog at its master. She smiled curtly and turned away.


She slumped as she heard his voice, as if expecting this. When she glanced back, her eyes almost screamed, What, you idiot? Scott wasn’t offended by it. Offended wasn’t in the vocabulary today either.

“What, hun?”

He tried to remember his question, finding it hard amid the realization she had called him hun. But he sensed her growing impatience, so he struggled to reach his thought.

“How did I get here?”

She turned a little more, looking at him with weary eyes. She smacked her lips loudly.

“You wandered in, hun—just like the rest of them.”

“But I . . . I feel like I just woke from a dream.”

She snorted. “Yeah, that happens sometimes. Not often, but sometimes. Usually they stare at their coffee and never make a peep.” She looked at him pointedly. “I like those customers.”

“But—I . . .”

“Just keep staring at that spoon,” she said, already turning away. “Everything’ll feel better.” With that she continued down the row of booths, stopping three tables away to refill somebody else’s coffee. Scott watched her, his mind swirling with follow-up questions. Wandered in from where? How long have I been here? Why did your parents name you Holly? The questions dissipated as his gaze opened to the rest of the diner. It was a vaguely retro joint with cream-colored chrome-rimmed tabletops, checkered tile floors, and hanging Sputnik lamps. The place emitted a warm Norman Rockwell vibe with its basic streamlined architecture. A line of maroon leather booths adjoined a wall full of panoramic windows, while the center of the diner showcased a grand stainless steel bar flanked by metallic stools. He immersed himself in every detail, remembering a dozen classic movies where good guys sat in diners like this and sipped their cups of joe. The whole scene filled his heart with the best of Americana. How had he spent his whole life in places like this and not taken more notice?

Stephanie, no doubt, would say the same thing.

Scott scanned his table, with the standard formation of ketchup bottle, napkin dispenser, and salt and pepper shakers against the wall. He looked out the window next to him and saw a neon sign next to the highway. “The Pit-Stop Grill” blinked dully in the midday glare, its zigzag font designed to point directly at the diner. Beyond the sign was a brilliant reddish-white landscape. Arizona desert, the Painted Desert. Rugged hills gave way to sudden flatness, making everything look like a huge toasted tortilla. Only the gleaming gray of I-40 and the dark silhouettes of two old-fashioned gas pumps broke up the monotony. And cloud shadows. Scott couldn’t see the clouds, but their shadows slid across the desert floor like sharks beneath the surface of the water. Something about the view sent a chill into him, which he thought odd since it looked hot outside.

He turned and continued analyzing this fascinating-for-no-reason diner. There were other customers. Of course, there were. This was a great place to be. He scanned the faces, all as detailed and unique as his new best friend Holly. He counted eight, and they varied in just about every way. White, black, fat, thin, bald, hairy, male, female, young, and old—they all stared at their tables with the same pleasant dispositions.

According to Holly, they all wandered in. Scott smiled again. He was in the middle of something special. Here were all these strangers pulled into a group for this brief moment. Souls drawn together by the need to eat, the need to refuel, and whether they realized it or not, the need to feel other souls in their midst. How he wished Michael was here. Scott had never felt as wise and at one with himself as he did right now, and it seemed a shame not to pass it on to his son.

You can’t, a tiny voice in the back of his mind whispered. Michael’s not talking to you. And you’re not talking to him either.

Scott’s gaze reverted to the spoon with the magic sparkle. He didn’t like that voice’s tone. It was too critical, and it brought a moment of uncertainty to his serenity. At the same moment tires screeched outside, sounding very close. He turned to the window, but the highway was empty. There weren’t any cars or pickups or big rigs. He didn’t even see his police cruiser, which was unusual and caused him to frown. One thing a highway patrolman never forgot was where he parked his cruiser. You never knew when an emergency call would come in. But Scott had forgotten where he parked it. In fact, he wasn’t sure he remembered driving it here.

Maybe you didn’t, that same voice said, louder than last time. Maybe this isn’t the type of place you can drive to. That means you got here another way.

“I wandered,” he said aloud, though not loud enough for anyone else to hear. “Like Holly said. I wandered in like everyone else.”

Must’ve been a hot walk. As Scott’s gaze dropped from the window he noticed he was wearing his uniform and felt a surge of relief when he saw everything was there. His badge, his belt, his nightstick and his pistol were all where they were supposed to be. But not your radio, the voice pestered. You left it in the car apparently—the car you lost.

Scott grunted and shook his head, getting rid of that prissy little voice, getting rid of the uncertainty that came on the heels of everything it said. He probed the room for something to bring back that magic feeling again. It didn’t take long. Holly dumped another batch of ice into the soda dispenser and the crinkling sound washed over him like a symphony. He smiled, took a deep breath, and told himself he was fine. Everything was fine. Everything was beautiful, as Ray Stevens liked to sing.

Scott’s lazily drifting vision landed on something—eyes staring at him. His spine straightened. The eyes were cold and black and belonged to a young man sitting on a barstool. Or a young body, he thought. The eyes looked older. The man had dark hair, a pointy nose and striking eyes that refused to veer away. How come he doesn’t blink? Scott’s mind chuckled in response. Now that you mention it, Scott, how come you don’t blink? The young man’s eyes narrowed, scrutinizing him harder.

Then he rose from his barstool and started toward Scott.

Fear tickled his gut as the young man approached. Maybe it was an after-effect of that critical inner voice, but something about this twenty-something seemed wrong. It wasn’t his clothes. They entranced Scott as much as everything else. The well-worn Adidas tennis shoes, blue jeans, a black T-shirt with the words Just do it laid out in white, and a red flannel button-up shirt with the arms ripped off. The young man frowned in a way that didn’t match the rest of the Pit-Stoppers’ satisfied smirks. Scott wondered if the young man was holding back a scream. His hands were shoved in the pockets of his blue jeans, and the pockets vibrated as if he had a couple cell phones in each one. Or his hands are shaking. That’s why he’s hiding them in his pockets, Scott reasoned. He can’t keep the tremble out of his hands.

The young man stopped when he reached the table’s edge. They studied each other, Scott looking at the young man in befuddled curiosity and the young man staring into his eyes, searching for something that didn’t seem to be there, which made the young man frown harder.

“You don’t remember, do you?” the young man asked, his voice scratchy and low, like someone coming out of a hangover.

Another tickle of fear ran through him, like fingers over piano keys. Scott swallowed, making his throat click, and knew without a doubt that he was about to have the most important conversation of his life.

“No,” Scott said, and the young man nodded, because that was the answer he had expected







Author of the Week: Ben Larken

27 Jan

Congratulations to GSP Author of the Week: Ben Larken

Ben Patrick Eden, Author of A Beggar in Capernaum

Ben Larken resides near Fort Worth, the city in which he was born and currently works as a police dispatcher. He is the winner of three Epic eBook Awards for Best Horror.

WEBSITE: www.larkenbooks.yolasite.com

Watch this space for releases from Ben.

The Dragon Within..

16 Jan

Another GSP release from Author of the Week: Jeanne Guzman. Jeanne has kindly offered a FREE SET OF HER BOOKS to one lucky winner. To enter for this draw please leave a comment below on this blog and the following blog post tomorrow. 

The Dragon Within by Jeanne Guzman

Angelica Crossley is trapped in a never-ending nightmare where she’s forced to relive two very important moments in her life: her parents’ deaths and her own kidnapping. Angelica’s only hope to rejoin the real world is Preston of the Anshar Dragons.

Stepping through the Flames of Prophesy, Preston enters Angelica’s nightmare to rescue her from her torment. In the process, he discovers the true reason for her forced slumber. He was meant to bear witness to the evil responsible for her captivity: a dragon from his past . . . a dragon he thought long dead . . . his father.

As Angelica recovers, Preston leaves her side, thinking the only way to give her peace of mind is to hunt down his father and send him into the flames.

Through doubts and mistrust, Angelica and Preston must mend the breach between them, solidify their bond, and learn to embrace the Dragon Within.


 Chapter 1

Preston of the Anshar Dragons leaned against the doorjamb to his office, his complexion pale in the dim light of the moon. They were preparing for battle, that meant no lights. It was just as well. Angelica was exhausted from the six hour drive from her childhood home in Whispering Hills, just south of the Red River, to Austin and the home she and her sister made for themselves.

“We should be safe enough here. The Hunters have been called in and your grandfather’s sent a group of Guards to help just in case Goron shows up.” Preston pushed away and reached for the doorknob. “Try and get some sleep. I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“You need the rest too, Preston.” Angelica didn’t want him to leave. She’d nearly lost him a week before, and now that she’d learned that they were destined to be mated, she didn’t want to be separated from him again.

“I’ll get some sleep when Johnny comes to relieve me. Tuck the kid in and close your eyes for a while. There’s no telling how long this peace will last. Take advantage of the quiet.” He closed the door between them. The barrier more than the two inches of pressboard. Preston was closing himself off as well.

After everything they’d shared—everything she’d learned of her past—and he still didn’t want her, preferring to stand outside the door rather than lay beside her. Angelica turned her back on the obvious rejection and stared blindly out of the row of windows that took up one wall of the office. The night sky formed a backdrop to the lights of downtown Austin; the laughter coming from the street a discordant soundtrack to the drama unfolding with every passing minute. Angelica closed her eyes and tried to see the dragon separated from her by a single wall. She needed to be near him, to feel the safety of his arms wrapped around her, but the distance he’d placed between them was too great.

Frustrated, Angelica collapsed on the couch in Preston’s office, wishing it was him lying beside her instead of the Waarheid child.

No, that wasn’t fair. Genevieve wasn’t responsible for the issues between Angelica and her mate. That lay on her own head. Why had she been so hard on him when he’d first revealed his true form?

“Do you think they’ll find him?” Genevieve climbed into Angelica’s lap and laid her head over Angelica’s heart.
The him was Genevieve’s brother, Baltizar. He’d gone missing and Angelica’s sister Kimball and her husband had gone to search for him. “Don’t worry about your brother, Vievie. Kimball will find him.” Angelica had to believe that. Baltizar was basically the only family Genevieve had left. Her father was dead, her mother lay in the hospital in the Mawlan underground, and her grandfather was out to kill everyone.

Baltizar better be alive. He’d gone off in search of his grandfather, Goron, two days ago and hadn’t reported in. The elder dragon was the very same who’d murdered Angelica’s parents over eighteen years before and she wouldn’t put it past the dragon to kill his own grandson.

“Let’s try and get some sleep. I’m sure that by the time we wake up, your brother will back and all this worrying will have been for nothing.” Angelica stretched out on the couch, her arms tightening protectively around the child left in her care. She wouldn’t have thought it possible, but her eyes closed and she was quickly running through her dreams.

As it had been with all her nightmares, the beginning appeared as a beautiful day beside the pond behind her family home. The sun reflected off the water that gently lapped along the shoreline. The sound soothing, calling her to step away from her cares and lie down in the tall, soft grass.

Angelica watched as a raven took flight, its wings lifting it higher as it neared the tree line separating the pond from the playground. It was a sign to follow, but Angelica was reluctant, knowing what she would find on the other side. Still, she moved forward, her body floating easily across the well traveled path leading to the schoolhouse she and her sister attended so long ago.

Like a scene out of Little House On The Prairie, the single room building stood alone with its wooden doors wide open. The one room structure housed the twenty-plus children comfortably, each with their own miniature desk and chair. It was a happy place, filled with laughter and learning, but there were some lessons Angelica wished she’d never learned.

A copper bell perched to one side of the door, ready to ring in the start of another day. Little did Angelica know at the time, that this particular day would be her last time to hear the metallic clanging.

The Skua-Sparrow who called the town of Whispering Hills home, had done their best to give the façade a cheery appearance, planting flowers, trees, and bushes along its sides. Brilliant sunlight kissed the petals of the roses climbing the front of the schoolhouse, their warm perfume exploded in the air, sickening in their sweetness.

Angelica followed the movement of a lone honey bee as it skipped from one bud to the other, collecting pollen, then buzzed along on its never-ending journey through life. A child squealed, terrified by the miniature winged creature that happened to pass by, then laughter filled the air as other children teased.

The setting was too beautiful to be a nightmare, and yet that’s exactly what it was.

She watched, absorbed, and waited. Angelica was dreaming; knew the images surrounding her were memories. Dragons, not the creatures from legend, but human in form save for the wings on their backs, the ridged spines on their backs, their cat-like eyes, and their ability to breathe fire. Skua-Sparrows, not the carefree birds that could adapt to any situation, but a cross-breed of human and dragon cultivated eons ago, stronger than humans, yet not as strong as the dragons. It was the Skua-Sparrow’s job to tend the land and livestock above ground while the dragons lived safely below. It was also their job to mask the existence of the Mawlan, the collective of dragon races that lived underground in cities all over the world.

Her memory had been erased eighteen years before, but with the re-introduction of the Mawlan world into her life, Angelica could now remember her teachings from so long ago. Teachings of what her purpose in life would be and those whom she was meant to protect. The Mawlan collective.

Angelica was neither dragon nor Skua-Sparrow, and yet she was both. Her mother was a dragon. The blood of the Anshar ran through Angelica’s veins, as did the blood of her father, a Skua-Sparrow.

She remembered her mother telling the story of how she’d met and fallen in love with the head of the Langhier Skua-Sparrows. When her father, Valwood, had traveled from their homeland in Southern Chile, Ivelise had begged to go with him. Their plan was to stay only a few months while her father, the leader of the Anshar clan, conversed with the council of elders. Ivelise had insisted that she collaborate with the head of the Skua-Sparrow, to learn his technique for raising superior cattle. Their personalities clashed at first. They fought from their very first meeting. Not because Ivelise didn’t agree with Thomas’ way of managing the land, but because he’d stolen her heart. Thomas had fought as well, to prove to Ivelise they belonged together. It was a union doomed from the beginning, but neither cared once they gave into their love for each other.

It was that love that created Angelica and her sister. They were known as Transcendents. Born from the union of two worlds. Her parents love had broken the rules set forth by the Waarheid. They believed in keeping the dragon blood pure, and that any offspring produced by such a union were considered abominations. It was a rule the Mawlan collective had abolished when petitioned by the Anshar, who claimed the mixing of blood only made for a stronger union. The Waarheid, however, refused to abide by the ruling, and it was for that reason Angelica’s parents were killed.

Actually, they’d been killed because Angelica’s mother believed in protecting the innocent. And in protecting the innocent, Ivelise had ended the life of a Voltura. The Voltura had been the wife of the Waarheid chieftain. Goron had avenged his wife, a life for a life, but hadn’t been satisfied. For years Angelica and Kimball were hidden, kept safe from Goron and those who served him. He’d wanted their lives as well and wouldn’t stop until they too were ash.

With a tear for what was lost, Angelica stepped to the edge of her nightmare, knowing where the day would end, but like the automatic response one has when driving past a car wreck, she couldn’t turn away.

She saw herself as a child pacing the outer perimeter of the playground. Her child-self paid attention not to her sister Kimball who’d been gearing up for the fight of her life, but the Langhier Hunters and Anshar Guards who milled around the schoolyard. Something was off. Angelica felt the tension in the air, knew her child-self had felt it as well. Even at the age of eight and three quarters, she’d recognized something was seriously wrong.

She remembered seeing the Hunters before, walking through the Whispering Hill compound, but never all thirteen at once. The Anshar Guards patrolled the area, but never side by side with the Hunters. Her uncle Magnus had been the leader of the Langhier Hunters, had in fact spent many nights visiting in her home. But no, Magnus wasn’t her uncle after all, only a demented dragon who’d turned on her family in the end.

Knowing what was about to happen, Angelica moved closer to her child-self, as if she could protect who she’d been from seeing the past unfold. Her two entities meshed, and Angelica was once again the little girl.

Her chest constricted with the presence of so many dragons. She wasn’t afraid of the Guards and Hunters themselves, only what their increased numbers represented. Danger was near, and Angelica tried to ignore the flutter of fear in her stomach. She concentrated on her sister—on the competition about to occur. On Kimball’s ascension taking place later that evening.

Today was Kimball’s birthday, she was no longer a child. Up until the age of ten, male or female, dragon or Skua-Sparrow, children were known as hatchlings. On the night of their tenth birthday, they ascended to what those in the dragon community called a fledgling. The dragons developed the ability to produce flames, the Skua-Sparrows developed their strength, both began training for their futures. Kimball was ready to begin her life as a protector. Following in their father’s footsteps had been Kimball’s dream for as long as she could remember, a dream shared by Angelica.

The ceremony where a child becomes a young adult had always been a joyous occasion, something everyone looked forward to. The entire compound would attend. There would be laughter, games of skill, music, and then Kimball’s hair would be cut to her shoulders, and she’d be presented with the cuirass of the trainee—a child no longer.

Angelica had helped her mother hand-embroider the turquoise Skua-Sparrow emblem on the front of Kimball’s cuirass. The wings stretched from the body of the sparrow to rest on each shoulder, continued on the straps that criss-crossed down the back, then wrapped around the waist to connect with the tail of the bird. Angelica couldn’t wait to see her sister’s face when she tried it on, and couldn’t wait for the day she too would receive her first cuirass.

Still, she couldn’t rid herself of the feeling of being watched.

She scanned the perimeter of the playground, past the single room schoolhouse, and into the trees separating Whispering Hills from the outside world. It was there. Evil. Lurking in the surrounding woods. The elders watched, not the playground, nor the schoolhouse, but the sky and the surrounding woods. Each held identical expressions of alertness on their faces.

Dmitri of the Langhier had positioned himself close to the schoolhouse door. His light blue eyes glowed as he seemed to focus completely on Kimball. He was tall for only being sixteen, an inch or two more than the Anshar Guard by his side.

Preston of the Anshar. Now there was a dragon that made Angelica’s heart pound in fear. He was always watching her, his golden eyes burned a warning every time she looked his way. Yes, she feared him, but she also felt safe whenever he was near.

Even as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the Langhier, watching with identical smirks on their faces, she still felt safe—a little annoyed they looked down their noses at Kimball’s display of skill—but safe.

Preston and Dmitri thought only in terms of war, but it took real skill to do what Kimball was about to do. Angelica glared once more at the bored look on Preston’s face, stepped from the shadows, head held high, and ignored the dragon while she approached her sister.

“Concentrate, Kimball. Concentrate.” Angelica reached up and began massaging the muscles in her sister’s shoulders. “The elders are watching. Win this one, and you’ll prove your worth to the clan.”

“I’m well aware they watch. They’re always watching, Angel. I’m not afraid of them,” Kimball announced without taking her eyes off her opponent. “Step back, Angelica. It’s time to show these people who owns this playground.”

Angelica glanced over her shoulder to see the smirk still resting on Preston’s face. She didn’t like the way Dmitri looked at Kimball, as if she were beneath him. She didn’t like the way his eyes stayed on her sister as if he were waiting for her to fail. She didn’t like the way he elbowed Preston, drawing his attention from the test of skill to focus on Angelica once again.