Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Q&A and Spotlight from The Descendant by Ellie Hart

 1. First we want to hear all about THE DESCENDANT.

Like any girl next door, Caitlyn Grace Beale (Cat) has her day-to-day issues. Not many boys knock on her door, and one of most popular girls at school, Jenna Swanson, likes to make her high school life a nightmare. After a horrible event, Caitlyn’s gifts come to life. She learns that the Fairy Queen-Aine of Knockaine abducts other including her twin brother, in order to take her revenge and destroy the Guardians of Draco--the only warriors that will face and destroy the darkness with in. With the help of her best friend -Joseph O’ Hearn, Caitlyn discovers that there is only one who can bring the Fairy Queen back from the Spirit World, and only one that can stop the darkness that follows her.

2. What inspired this story? 
The boy next door and my almost first kiss. So I had an idea for a love story which turned into an adventure. 

3. Can you give us a bit of insight as to what you have in store for the next installment? 
The second book is Cat’s twin, Jason’s “Jay’s” story.  The story is about a strange girl who shows up in the Beale family’s boathouse. She’s not able to speak and is different from the girls Jay had met. She captures his heart, but their is something about her that’s mysterious.

4. Tell us three things about your character  Cat that are not in the book. 
Cat wanted to be friends with the popular crowd before she discovered she was different. She is a hopeless romantic. Her favorite flower is a daisy, mostly because Joe has been giving her the flower since she was in the hospital at a young age.

5. Do you have conversations with Cat? Does she and your other characters take charge when you are at the keyboard? 
lol… constantly. I go into my own little world and become part of the story.

6. About how many hours a day do you spend writing? 
I honestly don’t know… I always lose track of time and my daughter has to bring me back into reality.

7. You say you are a little geeky. Tell us three things that make you feel you are that way.  
I haven’t lost the tomboy inside of me. I still like wear baggy sweats and jeans. My hair is pulled up in a pony tail most of the time. I’m a kid at heart and play Wii sports or just dance for kids with my daughter or jump in a mud puddle with my son and play board games. And when I laugh hard a snort.

8. Tell us about juggling writing, being a mom and coping with day to day life. 
I  go with the flow. My kids have always come first before anything. Dealing with a daughter who’s and over achiever and a son who's autistic and working a full time job has its rewards. However it can be challenging too. I like to say I’m organized but I’m not. I find any time I can to write and I can actually escape the every day life.

9. So tell us what you are reading now and the next few books that are on your TBR list.  
A Winter’s Tale. After, I have Sherry Soule’s Immortal Eclipse. I’m always looking for something different to read.

10. If you could spend the afternoon with one of your all time favorite author, who would you pick and what would you want to talk about? 
It sounds like I’m older than the hills for saying this but I would spend the day Jane Austen. Comparing the differences between love stories and the impact she had on my life.
Thanks for visiting with us today and letting us get to know you. We know you will have great success with your debut book, THE DESCENDANT and look forward to future reads from you.


In spite of the blazing fire crackling, the air is cold and damp. Drops of water trickle somewhere and the smell of mildew hinders.
Jennifer Lynn opens her deep brown eyes and looks around to see the open night sky. Vines hang from the rock-like walls, liquid dripping from them. The floor glows like a flame. In the middle is some sort of object.
Her hands and legs won't budge. She lifts her head and turns to the right. Five teenagers' hands and feet are bound to the wall with rope like vines. Thorns penetrate through their bodies.
"NOOO! HELP!" She hollers, but no one hears her. "Please let this be a dream. Please..." Then she prays to God, hoping this isn't the end.
A hand gently brushes against her brunette hair. "Shh." The cream tone of her abductor's skin and the ice-cold touch, gives her unwelcome shivers. Too frail and too weak, the only defense she has is to jerk her head away from him.
Jennifer's heart pounds like it's coming out of her skin. Her abductor slits the palm of her hand, and lets the blood drip down into a circle. He licks the knife and devilishly smirks.
A woman appears with a sinister smile. "Show some dignity, my pupil." She orders him. Black locks neatly fall on her back and her eyes are the color of emeralds. Her lavender woven gown sways as she glides towards Jennifer. Entranced by the woman's pearly white skin that shimmers from the unseen flame, Jennifer's heartbeat slows down.
"No need to yell or scream, my dear. You should be honored that you're one of the chosen for my return," says the mystical woman.
"Who...who...are you?" Jennifer asks. Teardrops pour down her soft pink cheeks.
"I'm the Fairy Queen, Aine of Knockaine. My return will be the undoing to The Guardians of Draco." The woman clutches a knife with a curved blade between her fingers. "By doing so, I need the blood of the innocent."
"Please don't." Jennifer's lips tremble as she mumbles. "Please..."
"The pain will go away in time." Aine gently runs a cold finger through the young girl's tears before slitting her arm just above the wrist. The stream of dark burgundy fluid weeps from the wound to a small canal into the middle of the circle.
The vengeful Fairy Queen repeats this action with each teenager she encounters. One slit after another. She takes a piece of their energy and rejuvenates. Her spirit hand becomes flesh. Her satisfied eyes glow like the fire in the chamber.

Chapter 1
The woman’s face flashes before my eyes. It’s like a blurred slideshow that keeps popping up. Long, thin, black hair hangs past her lanky shoulders. Her sinister smile resting on her thin pink lips. The shadow that surrounds the vibrant green of her eyes scares the crap out of me.
“Three of them have fallen, three more to go.” Her screechy voice enters my head.
“Caitlyn? Care to join us today?” Mr. Caulkin, my Honors English Literature teacher, snaps his fingers, pulling me out of my trance.
A few kids snicker. I glance around the classroom. Kids blow bubbles, some are sleeping to the point that they’re drooling— including my twin brother, Jason. Fighting back his grin, Mr. Caulkin scratches his beard and shoves his hands into his corduroy pants. “While you were daydreaming about spring break, the rest of the class and I were discussing Merlin. What is your take on him?”
“Besides the fact that he’s a dirty old man who didn’t have great power as people believed he did?” I kick off my flip-flops underneath my desk and curl my toes like I was back in ballet. The class snickers at my retort.
He clasps his hands behind his back and rocks on his heels. “Really, how so?”
“I mean Camelot wasn’t the utopia place they portray in the books. And Merlin wasn’t the great and powerful wizard that he claimed to be.” I fold my hands on the desk, weary of all the eyes now glued to me. “He was more of a gypsy. Who took advantage of the poor na├»ve people. Plus he had a thing for the lady of the lake, who ended up capturing him in a tree. So much for ‘his intuition’.”
“Good point. Even though you weren’t paying attention in class.” He sighs and waves me off like he’s an aristocrat. “At least you’ve been doing your homework.”
He continues his boring lecture in the time of the monarchy. He slams one of the literature books on the floor next to Jason’s desk. The loud bang wakes up half the class. Yep, our senior class at its best. A select few and I are the only juniors in my Honors English class.
The last bell rings before spring break. With a stretch and a rub of his dark blond hair, Jason jumps out of his seat and rushes out the door before Mr. Caulkin can snag him—most likely for either his tardiness or lack of interest in the class.
Every single student follows his lead. Some are pushed out of the way and one kid ended up with a nosebleed. Spring break on Cape Cod is a huge deal. Especially with the temps reaching close to the seventies. More parties mean more teenage boys being idiots diving off the Cove’s bridge, known as the boardwalk, to prove their manhood.
“Got to hand it to you, Kitty. Not many honor students can catch Caulkin off guard.” Joseph O’Hearn, who’s one of the senior boys, grabs his backpack and glances at me with his crystal blue eyes. “I’ll see you and Anna later.”
“Yeah, later.” In the midst of stuffing my backpack, someone taps me on the shoulder. Skittishly, I turn.
“Easy, it’s only me.” Anna, my best friend, giggles. She blows a red ringlet from her face.
“I think I’ve been watching too many horror movies with Jay.” I push up my black-rimmed glasses with my index finger. “I just imagined… never mind.”
“Well, imagine this, Daniel Christi’s party.” A devilish grin crosses her face.
My heart skips a beat. “Did you say?”
“I did.” Anna has a gleam in her brown eyes. “He also wanted to make sure you were going to be there.”
As soon as Anna utters those words, an uncontrollable smile reaches across my face. I walk through the classroom door and into the mist of water. Chaos erupts in the hallway as kids celebrate spring break. Paper planes fly everywhere. Anna and I duck the water gun fight in the middle of the hallway. Classic jockstraps verses band members. Jason of course is in the mix as well.
“Hey Duncan, let’s go,” Jason calls out to Reece, ducking from the band’s radar.
Reece Duncan-- a tall, lanky, dark skin band member with black hair and glasses-- runs towards us while throwing water balloons at his “enemies.”
Devilishly, Jason squirts my arm with his water gun for a reaction. It doesn’t faze me.
I’m in my own little world.
I start to shuffle toward the doors of the school. Jason, Anna, and Reece just stare at me like I’m from another planet.
“Are you guys coming?” I call over my shoulder.
They follow me to Greta, my baby blue 1987 Volkswagen rabbit convertible. Jason leaps into the back to impress a group of cheerleaders. Anna and I nod at each other and throw our bags on top of him.
“What?” He leans back in my car and catches some rays. “Come on, can’t a guy have some fun.”
“Why can’t you just take your own car?” I grunt.
“And miss out on giving you a hard time?” Jason stretches his hands on top of the seats. I so want to beat him at times…
Band groupies surround Reece. They giggle and push his bangs back, like he’s some sort of rock star. In return, He kisses the back of their hands making them feel special. Reece then hops in the back seat of the car.
“Show off.” Jason rests his hands on the back of his head. “We can go anytime, Cat.”
I start the engine. “Like I said Jay, you can always take your jeep.”
“Nah, don’t want to waste the miles.”
Driving through the small town of Anu is an experience in itself. On one side of the marina you have people who stay overnight. On the other side of the marina are gingerbread type houses with different color roofs. I mean very different: red, yellow, and blue… What were these people thinking? You could easily make a sandwich out of them because they’re scrunched so tightly together.
The center of our small town is full of cobblestone streets with quaint and sophisticated shops that scream tourism. Not to mention the amount of traffic lights there are for one street.
On any normal day I stomp on my brakes at every light. Just to see my brother fly forward and hit his nose on the back of my seat. But today’s different. I have my mind so set on Daniel Christi that my left hand jitters.
“What’s with you?” Jason asks.
“Nothing.” An incurable smile crosses my face.
“She found out Dan Christi’s interested.” Anna smirks. The green specks in her brown eyes twinkle.
“Don’t go there.” Reece grasps Jay’s arm.
“Do you mind?” Jason glances down at Reece’s hand. Reece then quickly releases it.
Jason’s honey brown eyes widen. “If Joe finds out, he’ll flip.”
“So,” I say. Please don’t tell me…
“So? I really don’t want to be on his bad side.” He nervously rubs the back of his neck.
Great. That’s all I need…
Unlike me, Jason is one of the most popular kids in school. He loves to surround himself with a harem of girls. My twin brother and I have always been close, but he can be very annoying when it comes to my somewhat wannabe love life—mostly because of Joseph.
“Okay, Joseph O’ Hearn isn’t the boss of me,” I snap and shift the lever down hard, making the car skip.
“Jay has a point,” Anna explains with a caring tone in her voice. “Now hear me out. I know my brother and I know you. And I know you shy away from guys unless you like them. And I know my brother gets over-protective to the point where you either don’t talk to each other or you guys make our lives miserable. And then you push the guy you like away.” She sighs. “Honestly, you and Joe have this connection that couples kill to have.”
Need to nip this in the bud…
“Can we just go and forget about this thing between Joe and me. I don’t think my stomach could handle it.” Heat rises up to my cheeks as I begin to flush.
The thought of Joseph and me together sends out the surge of electricity that I’m not comfortable with.
Anna’s brother, Joseph, is a year older than us. As handsome as he may be with his ginger hair and gorgeous blue eyes, not to mention his god-like physique, he has a habit of playing around with the underclassmen. He then dumps them when he gets bored. He even created “the boys club.” Their mission is to score with underclassmen girls and brag. Sad to say, Jason and Reece are part of his club.
Now that Jenna Swanson, AKA Mean Girl, has her claws into Joseph, he’s been a troll and follows her around like she’s his master.
Quickly, Reece changes the subject to plans for spring break. For about five minutes their conversation’s about parties, who’s dumping who, and beaches. I ignore them and continue to drive.
“Cat! Watch out,” Anna shouts.
A huge black bird crashes into the windshield. Quickly, I jerk the wheel and slam on the brakes. I control the steering wheel so the car won’t flip over. Thank God Garry taught me how to avoid huge accidents.
“Are you okay?” I ask in a shaky voice. My hands still white-knuckled on the wheel.
None of them say anything.
“Jay, are you alright?”
He looks at me with bulging eyes. “Yeah.”
“Reece?” I ask.
“Uh huh.” He clears his throat. “Kitty?”
“I’m fine,” I say.
Anna’s hand shudders against her jeans. “What the hell was that?”
“I don’t know,” I utter, staring at the windshield.
Curiosity strikes. I unbuckle my seatbelt and get out of the car. Surprisingly, there’s not even a scratch on the windshield. No damage at all.
Then a shadow underneath my car claws my ankles. Frantically, I move back and squat down. A bright green-eyed animal hisses at me. A frightened black cat lies just below the engine. It’s back slinking.
“Hey little one, I won’t hurt you.” I reach for it. The fur ball scratches my hand. “Ow.”
“Grrr.” Its eyes narrow.
“I was trying to help you.” I lightly run my finger over the scratch. “What are you staring at?”
Only a few feet from the car, I hear what sounds like fireworks crackling. My neck jerks skyward. An enormous pine tree crashes down towards us.
“Son of a -!” I leap onto my hood, barely escaping the tree. It slams to the ground with a huge thump.
The back of my head pounds: photographs from a newspaper pop up. Headlines blur.
A vivid color photograph of a blue sedan crushed like a soda can against a weeping willow tree appears. The image changes rapidly to blue and red lights flickering all over the road.
“Cat?” Jason rushes out of the car. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
I step over a few snapped branches and run my hand down the rough bark. “This seems so surreal. Like it happened before… but not the same dream I always have about a blue car.”
The whole trunk of the tree had ripped out of the ground, exposing the roots. The smell of fresh earth assaults my nose.
The black cat races up the tree and pauses. It gives me one last glance. It then dashes off.
“Or maybe those dreams were warning signs,” Jason suggests. “I think we need to get back into the car, now.”
“Be right with you,” I say, surveying the trunk again. It’s impossible. Why would a healthy tree like that just fall suddenly? Was the image I had in my head and this tree an actual warning?
I quickly get back into the car and take a couple of deep breaths to calm my nerves. “Okay, there’s no trace of that bird. The whole tree ripped out of ground and came crashing down. Somehow it missed us. So it’s either a miracle or…”
“Or we can just forget and have some teenage normalcy,” Jason blurts. “I’ve seen enough movies with a crow involved. Plus, that black cat just stared at us with his creepy green eyes. And you also said you had another vision. Three bad events that happened in a row is not a good thing. So let’s just get out of here while we can.”
“I ah, I agree with Jay,” Reece stutters. “We need to leave now.”

Ellie Hart lives with her family at Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her passion for writing came to life when her son was diagnosed with Autism. Her first Novel The Descendant brought part of her past to a whole new experience. She’s working on her second Novel The Call of the Siren.

Contact me..Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Blog ~ 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Before the Storm by Claire Ashgrove--Blog Tour

She held no faith in magic.  Now, fate is calling her…

Halle Rhoads has a terrifying gift--she can kill with the fury of the storm.  
She should have known that kind of power wouldn't go unnoticed. Thrust into a world full of dark magic with a handsome stranger who claims he can teach her, she struggles to master her abilities and stumbles onto a dangerous truth. She's a windwalker, the chosen vessel of the ancient dragons who once ruled the world. Many will stop at nothing to possess the power in her blood, should they discover her secret.  With necromancers hunting her and Halle's closest allies guarding secrets, mastering her magic becomes a matter of necessity.    
But accepting her destiny is altogether different.  For doing so means she must sacrifice everything.  

Designing Evil

Good morning, readers! Thanks for letting me drop in today and talk about Before the Storm, my new Urban Fantasy release.

One of the crucial things in any fantasy is the dark threat, the villain, the tangible (or sometimes intangible) evil. It’s the reason we have a journey for the main character(s), nine times out of ten, and it gives us lots of spine-tingling conflict. But there’s something far more than just stating there’s a threat that gives us that wonderful tension.

Designing evil – be that in the form of an intangible power that’s guiding others’ actions, or an actual serial killer on the hunt for innocent victims – is a process of adding layers. In most fantasy why the threat is prevalent isn’t disclosed until closer to the end of the journey. It’s something the main character must discover, and the reader usually discovers right along with the character. This lack of knowing often adds tension and a sense of foreboding.

At the same time, an author can’t just randomly off characters and not tie those deaths into the motivation of the rising dark threat. Doing so is simply writing out a character, not adding depth to the plot. Which means that for each “dark action” the resulting events, dialogue exchanges, or internal narratives have to allude to something more sinister than stumbling across a decapitated caravan driver.

Another layer comes with a global feel to the rising darkness: IE: The dastardly event isn’t just a random act of crime. A quick and easy way to do this is to have interacting characters reference similar events globally, or the main character is already aware of a similar instance elsewhere. Such as his sister stumbled onto a decapitated caravan driver three cities to the south, and there were rumors the north road wasn’t safe for travel as caravan drivers were losing their heads regularly.

At the root of it all though, the dark power, the waiting evil needs to be tangible and have solid motivations. A story will fall flat if the stereotypical villain lets out a maniacal laugh and says, “I just wanted to see what it felt like to kill a man.” Characters can be born evil, can be evil inhuman beings, and can even be controlled by something more evil than themselves. But even then, their actions need to be grounded well to avoid a Charlie Chaplin bad guy.

The rising evil in Before the Storm was
 great fun to write. After all, there’s nothing quite as vile as an archlich who has a whole army of undead at his beck and call. Things can really get dicey for a heroine who’s magic is somehow blocked. I hope you’ll check it out! Now’s a great time as it’s available at the introductory price of only .99 cents.

Meanwhile, leave a comment and let me know what sells you on villains or evil threats. As part of Before the Storm’s release celebration, I’m sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon Gift Certificate, randomly chosen from commenters throughout the tour. And I have several opportunities over the next two weeks to win free copies and more gift certificates. To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the 

Rustling in the trees lifted the fine hairs on the back of my neck. I told myself not to listen, that it was probably a deer or some other woodland creature. Probably seeking the same creek I was looking for.
The sounds grew louder. My pulse jumped several beats. Now I could see branches moving with the lumbering footsteps. Footsteps that were too clunky to belong to a graceful deer. Too heavy to belong to a smaller animal like a squirrel.
Please, please don’t let it be one of those things.
Chills broke over my skin, and my heart felt like it might pound right through my ribs. Instinct demanded I run. And yet, I forced myself to move at an even pace, knowing that bolting ahead blindly would only accomplish getting me further lost.
Damn that Kale. If he hadn’t shown up tonight, I wouldn’t be in this dark, creepy place, stumbling around like a drunk in a carnival house.
Scanning the overhead trees again, I muttered beneath my breath. Where in the hell were the radio tower lights? I had to find them, before whatever was following found me.
A brittle, high-pitched screech broke over the snap and crackle of twigs and dried leaves.
Before my brain logically connected the chilling call with an owl, I was already running hell-bent for leather in the opposite direction, back to where I’d left Kale behind. “Kale! Wait!”
He stepped out from behind a tree, right into my path. I dug my heels in to keep from jamming my nose into his chest. But momentum shoved me forward, denying me any small shred of dignity.
Kale caught me by both elbows, bringing me to a stop even as he drew me closer into his body. Enticing spice, blended with something distinctly outdoorsy filled my nose. His body heat warmed my cheek.
Oh wow. How had I failed to notice he smelled so good? I could fall into him…
None of that, Halle. I jerked upright with a slight cough.
But upright wasn’t far enough. The top of my head fell level with his chin, and as I lifted my eyes, his gaze connected with mine. For the span of one prolonged heartbeat, I looked up at a man who outclassed every male I had ever met. He was bigger than me. Stronger in physical strength, magical ability, and maybe even his will. Nothing I had done all night had intimidated him. Yet there was a softness in his expression, a tenderness I couldn’t quite define that seemed both out of place and wholly natural all at once.
Until a slow smirk took up residence on his gorgeous mouth.

Author Bio:

Building on a background of fantasy game design, a fascination with history, and a lifetime love of books, award-winning author Claire Ashgrove brings to life action-filled, passionate journeys of the heart. Her paranormal series, The Curse of the Templars, marries the history of the Knights Templar with the chilling aspirations of the most unholy--a must-read for speculative fiction fans. She also writes as the National Bestselling Author Tori St. Claire and historical romance author Sophia Garrett.
In her non-writing time, she’s runs Finish The Story, a full-scale editing house co-founded with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. She lives in Missouri and enjoys cooking, studying ancient civilizations, and spending downtime with her two sons and too-many horses, cats, and dogs.

As part of Before the Storm’s release celebration, Claire’s sponsoring a giveaway of a $15.00 Amazon or Barnes and Noble Gift Certificate. All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below. In addition, she have several other opportunities over the next two weeks to win more prizes. To see complete tour dates, and the other release-week events, check out the

(please be patient it takes the rafflecopter a minute to load)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, April 25, 2014

LORE: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold Book Blitz & Giveaway

Lore: Tales of Myth and Legend Retold
Release Date: 03/2014

Summary from Goodreads:
A collection of six folklore retellings that will twist your mind and claim your heart.

SHIMMER: A heartbroken boy rescues a mermaid... but is it too late to save her?

BETWEEN: This is about a girl, a genie, and a ton of bad decisions.

SUNSET MOON: Eloise doesn't believe in Native American magic--until the dreamcatcher spiders spin her down an unknown path.

THE MAKER: An incapacitated young man bent on revenge builds a creature to do it for him.

A BEAUTIFUL MOURNING: The story of a Maya goddess torn between duty and love, and the ultimate sacrifice she must make to achieve true happiness.

THE BARRICADES: When a human girl risks everything to save the life of an Eternal prince, will their feelings for each other change the world they know, or tear it apart?

Buy links: Amazon   B&N   Kobo   iTunes   Goodreads   

Author Bios:

Brinda Berry: 
Brinda Berry lives in the southern US with her family and two spunky cairn terriers. She's terribly fond of chocolate, coffee, and books that take her away from reality.  She doesn't mind being called a geek or “crazy dog lady”. When she's not working the day job or writing a novel, she's guilty of surfing the internet for no good 
Find Brinda at .

Karen Y. Bynum: 
Dragons, unicorns, genies…oh my! NA/YA author, coffee-lover, olive-hater, tea-drinker, music-listener. Random becomes me. Easily distrac— Blog

Laura Diamond: 
Laura Diamond is a board certified psychiatrist and multi-published author of all things young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror. When she’s not writing, she is working at the hospital, blogging at Author Laura Diamond--Lucid Dreamer, and renovating her 225+ year old fixer-upper mansion.

Jayne A. Knolls: 
Jayne A. Knolls lives and works in New York City.  The Maker is her first published work of New Adult Fiction. Jayne can reached at
Theresa DaLayne: 
My name is Theresa DaLayne and I’m a new adult author with Bloomsbury Spark, an amazing digital imprint of Bloomsbury publishing. Website

Cate Dean: 
Hi there - thanks for checking in. My name is Cate Dean, and I write romantic suspense and paranormal, with some action packed YA paranormal and fantasy thrown in. I love to write, and I have been doing it most of my life. I've made up stories in my head for as long as I can remember, and I am thrilled to be able to write them down and share them with you. If you want to be the first to know when the next book is released, or be in on some fun, exclusive contests and giveaways, join my list here: You can learn more about me and my books at my website:

(One excerpt from each novella)
Shimmer by Brinda Berry: 
Draven Manning watched the naked female wade into the inky waters of the Gulf of Mexico. 
Silent as a hermit crab, he sat on the sand hidden by tall sea oats and studied her petite body, long hair thickly draped to the waist. She held a backpack, an odd addition to her nakedness, which she dropped on the sand. He could have loudly cleared his throat or walked back up to the house. But he didn’t. 
Not that he was a total creeper. She’d appeared from nowhere like some magical mist formed in a female shape. The wind lifted strands of her hair away from her body increasing the otherworldly feel of the scene. 
He continued to watch and acknowledged that wishing he could see better or had binoculars did fall into creeper territory. His friends always talked about what a nice guy he was. Maybe he didn’t want to be a nice guy. 
Being the nice guy had landed him here in this tiny Gulf Coast town with his dad for the summer. He had no choice, because he couldn’t stand to look at the people he’d trusted. They had betrayed him, and he’d pretended it was no big deal. He lowered his forehead to his bent knees and pulled air into his lungs. A deep exhale steadied the shaking. He was eighteen, not eight. It was time to man up. Move on with life. Forget what had happened and quit feeling sorry for himself. 
For a week, he’d strolled the beach by himself. In the daylight hours, families cluttered the sand so he waited for nightfall. He always returned to this spot on the sand to sit and think. He could’ve sat on the deck with the same view, but that’s where his dad always sat and smoked cigars. 
His dad would already be in bed at this hour. 
The girl swam farther and farther out to sea. Her moonlight swim went beyond his seeing range. She was far enough out that he couldn’t tell if a glint on the water might be her head or a fish or a buoy. She had to be an excellent swimmer. 
Clouds moved across the moon to dim his view of her even more. A gust of wind blew sand into his face. He jumped from his spot and ran, his bare feet pounding on the packed sand. He saw the crashing wave deliver her body to shoreline and teasingly pull her back. Why hadn’t he noticed that she was in trouble? 
He stomped into the chilly ocean. “Shit.” His jeans sucked up the water and clung to his legs. “Shit, shit, shit.” Waves pushed against his thighs, whipping him off balance until he braced himself for the tide.
She floated face down with her hair billowing out in thin tentacles. He grabbed her upper arms, flipped her body, and pulled her to shore. Her lower body dragged in the sand, so he picked her up. She probably didn’t weigh much, but her limp body sagged as he carried her like a sleeping child. 
Out from the tide’s reach, he placed her on the sand and pressed two fingers against her neck. Not dead. Not dead. Not dead. But not breathing, either. He couldn’t remember the steps. His heart slapped against his chest like paper caught in moving bicycle spokes. People learned CPR just in case. He never expected to actually need it. He squeezed his eyes shut, heard Coach Vorlosky’s calm instructions, visualized each step, and began chest compressions. 
One push, two, three, four…one push a second how many times? Maybe thirty. He’d barely passed the test and wished he’d paid more attention. “You better not die. I’ve had a shitty week. Come on, come on.” Her head lolled to the side. He grabbed her chin, tilted her head back, pinched her nose, covered her mouth with his and blew. 
He hovered above her mouth to see if she breathed. Strands of long, dark hair draped over her face. He brushed the hair out of the way and started again. On his fifth round of administering CPR, he glanced around for help, which wouldn’t happen at 2:00 a.m. on a deserted strip of beach in the middle of nowhere. 
Her loud gasp, sounding like the reverse of a balloon losing air, startled him. 
She turned her head to the side and coughed out water. “What…” She coughed again.”…do you think you’re doing?” 
He barely heard her. The girl must be out of her mind, which would explain why she thought a night swim by herself was a good idea. “Saving you.” 
“I didn’t need your help,” she muttered. 
He scooted back on the sand several inches—his heart starting to slam again—and rubbed his face. Sand coated his hand and clung to his eyelashes. “Not the way I see it.” His voice sounded strangled and loud. 
She sat up and pulled her knees to her chest. Anger flashed in her eyes. “What’s your deal?” 
“You weren’t breathing.” He wiped dripping water from his forehead with the back of his hand. “I was scared that you’d…never mind that thought. You’re alive.” 
“Um hmm. Sure am. Back here on the shore whether I like it or not.” She was all hair and limbs with her arms wrapped around her knees. 

Between by Karen Y. Bynum: 
God, what had Lucy done? She rubbed the butterfly charm at her throat. She should never have ignored Natasha’s calls. If Lucy had just sucked it up and broken up with her, Natasha wouldn’t have shown up at Gaston. And Lucy wouldn’t have belittled her in front of the Royals. Her stomach churned, and she clutched the charm. Natasha’s grandmother had given it to her, and she hadn’t ever taken it off—until the day she gave it to Lucy. She swallowed her own shame and ripped the chain from her neck. She couldn’t look at it anymore. Couldn’t stand to feel its guilt weighing her down. 
“I wish I could just forget you!” She threw the necklace into the abyss of the closet. Holding herself, she wept with her head pressed back against the wall. Slow, gasping tears quickly turned into sobs so gut-wrenching they made her teeth hurt. 
“You can’t wish to forget.” 
She froze mid-sniff. The blood must have drained from her face because her tears scorched as they rolled down her icy cheeks. A shadow moved in her peripheral vision. 
Slowly, she lifted her head. Gasping, she pressed her hands to the floor, ready to jump up and haul ass. But in car-wreck fashion, she couldn’t look away. Fire floated in front of her. Her heart pounded painfully against her ribs. Was the house burning down? Surely not. The flames didn’t seem to be spreading. Instead, they drew down, drew together until they had a distinctly human shape. And eyes. Oh, God, the eyes. They glowed a frightening green, dark and bright at the same time. 
This was just like every horror movie Lucy had ever seen. Her time had come. Either this thing would drag her to Hell or she’d be acting out The Exorcist any second. She wiped away a streak of tears. 
Forcing herself to stand, to acknowledge what she’d done, she said, “This is about Natasha. Isn’t it?” 
The figure didn’t move forward. It just lowered its arms, smaller flames sparking away from the movement. Why didn’t the closet catch fire? 
“I’m here,” it said, “to grant you three wishes.”

Sunset Moon by Laura Diamond: 
Eloise doesn’t bother sneaking in. Her mom’s probably passed out from drunk anyway. 
She pads to her room, flicks on the light, drags the duffle from her bed and lets it slam to the floor. The next nine months of her life are in there, reduced to a few bits of clothing. She kicks off her shoes and wanders to her desk, gaze locked on the photo of Micah and her. Her vision blurs with fresh tears. This was their last night together, and he’s being such an ass. He should be thanking her for what she is doing. So should Jimmy. 
She picks up the frame and removes the picture, then carries it to the bathroom. The sour odor of beer clings to her like a heavy reminder of her fight with Micah. She tucks the photo into the wooden mirror frame on the medicine cabinet and turns on the tub faucet.
While the tub fills, she peels off her damp shirt and throws it in the hamper. She tugs off her jeans, then her underwear. Naked, she shivers, though the house is warm, stuffy even, from the mid-summer night’s air. 
Her tremors aren’t from being cold. They are from a vacuous emptiness that hollows out her insides, turns her heart to ice, and chips away at her soul with each ragged breath. 
She grips the sink with both hands and steadies herself. The gush of water echoes in her ears, sloshes in her skull, and drowns her mind. Her head pounds from the surge of blood coursing through her brain with the rapid beating of her heart. The row of bulbs blazing above the medicine cabinet stabs her in the eyes, coring out her orbits. 
It’s too much. She needs something to take the edge off. 

The Maker by Jayne A. Knolls: 
Cassandra Francesca Levinsky had been mine, more or less, since the second semester of freshman year. Addiction was probably a better term for it than a romance—I couldn’t get enough of her—nor she of me. Everyone knew us as Brettandra—I know, like Brangelina—that’s how legendary we were—Brett and Cassandra, the best looking couple on campus.In the end, I only drank so much to deal with the sight of her throwing herself at every other guy in the room—and to obliterate the green haze of jealous rage that overtook me when others wanted a piece of her. But if I were forced to admit it, I kind of got off on that, too. Like I said, we couldn’t get enough of each other.I’m not sure exactly when those long weeks of getting the cold shoulder first started. My memory’s not what it used to be. And I don’t have much of a recollection of what happened after we left the party. Maybe I blacked out. The next thing I remember is waking up in a hospital bed, my skull on fire. I learned later that Cassandra walked away from the wreck without a scratch on her. She left me for dead, my skull cracked open like an egg.The guy we hit never walked again. Yeah, I felt kind of bad about that, but I’m not in such great shape either.They found me in the driver’s seat, the engine’s firewall inches from the tree we plowed into. The wrecked BMW was registered to me—so as far as anyone knew at the scene, Cassandra was never even in it. The medical report stated that if she’d called for help right away, instead placing an anonymous call after she was long gone, the bleeding might not have been so extensive.                            That I might have made a good recovery.But, if that were the case, then this story would never have been written. 
A Beautiful Mourning by Theresa DaLayne: 
I could not help but smile at the newly budded flowers scattered over the hills of the middleworld. My bare feet sank into the cool grass. It sprang between my toes, reminding me of the many walks my mother and I took together when I was a child. 
It had been many years since she last strolled beside me. Many years since her soul left her body and joined the breeze of the heavens. 
I paused beside a tree and lay my hand upon its bark. 
I missed my mother’s laughter. Her sparkling green eyes and her sweet voice. No longer a child, I ached for her guidance and advice in the matters of life, and especially love. 
A hummingbird buzzed past me and broke my gloomy thoughts. I turned and watched it hover over blooms and feast on the bounty of the nectar. I extended my hand. The tiny bird startled. 
“I intend you no harm,” I said softly. It was not only for the mortals, but for the creatures of this realm that I tended to the greenery on which they depended to survive. I loved them, and wished them nothing but prosperity and joy. 
Yet their happiness was a constant reminder of my sorrow, and some days, my heart did not have the will to carry on. 
The rhythm of the bird’s rapidly pumping wings soothed my disparity and brought a smile to my lips. I lowered my hand and the creature vanished from sight. 
It was then I noticed the large cat weaving between the trees. I smiled and stepped toward the jaguar. “Balam. How nice to see you. It’s been far too long.” 
The middleworld deity slinked toward me. One large paw lazily moved in front of the other until he was close enough to touch.
 His fur was like silk under my fingers. 
“What special occasion brings you?” 
Balam did not answer, which was typical for him. Even when in his human form, the middleworld god had never spoken a word. Instead he simply butted his head against my leg and rubbed his body along me. His tail brushed across my belly as he continued past me and headed to the forest. 
I spun just in time to see Balam vanish into the foliage. There was no use in calling him back. He would wander in the forests and jungles until he decided to return. When that would be, I couldn’t say. 
I turned back toward tending to the flowers. Spring in the mortals’ realm was my fondest season. It was, after all, the beginning of seasons in which I spent the most time with Kinich. 
I pulled my hair to one side and wove it into a braid over my shoulder. My touch prompted tiny purple flowers to blossom in my hair. They were Kinich’s favorite color to see paired beside my skin.
 My father knew not of our romance, though it could not be deemed a surprise. I was the tender of flowers and trees for the mortals, and Kinich… 
I paused beside a struggling rose bush as the sun warmed my shoulders. My smile widened, and the grass, which I had raised from seedlings, flourished into thick, green blades. 
A beam of light focused on the bush beside me. The branches bloomed with wild rosebuds. 
I stooped beside the flowers and touched their silken petals. They were so lovely. 
The sound of light footsteps caught my attention. The warmth of the sun intensified on my back. I took one last moment to admire the blooms before I stood and turned to see Kinich standing behind me—golden hair, and eyes that beamed with shades of orange and yellow. 
He smiled. 
My heart jumped. 
His gaze wandered to the rose bush. “Your flowers no longer struggle for life.” 
I arched my brow and strode toward him. “And you believe you are responsible for giving them life?” 
“Perhaps.” He reached out and twisted my braid around his fingers. “Without my light and warmth your flowers would not bloom.” He allowed my braid to slip out of his gentle grasp.
 I tiptoed around him. “And without my touch, the light which you provide would have nothing to nurture.” I walked past him and gave him my back. 
“Then I suppose we need each other.” His hands rested on my hips and then rounded my waist. Kinich pulled my back against his chest. My eyes fluttered shut. 
His lips grazed the curve of my neck, his breath hot against my skin. “I have no shame in admitting I need you.” He pressed a kiss on my shoulder.

The Barricades by Cate Dean: 
Daniel Reed fought for his life. 
But he knew, even as he ducked the blow meant for his face, that the three boys who dragged him out here wouldn’t stop until he lay bleeding at their feet. 
He decided to make it as difficult as possible. 
“Is that the best you can do, Mandore?” Tomas Hurdy, the obvious instigator, taunted the tall boy who had just taken the swing at Daniel. “My baby sister can throw a better punch.” 
I bet she can. Daniel stumbled backward over ground left ridged by the terra machines.
Hurdy probably came out of the womb punching. 
Hurdy barreled toward Daniel, all two hundred plus pounds of him. Daniel waited until the last possible moment and leaped sideways. Hurdy roared past him, tripped on a rock hard ridge and slammed face first into the dirt. 
Daniel spun around, knowing that retaliation would be swift, and probably fatal—and ran smack into his third tormentor. Trevor Harp—someone he thought was his friend.
Before he could escape Trevor grabbed his right arm and wrenched it up behind his back. The pain nearly doubled him. 
“Good job, Trev.” Hurdy dusted off his shirt as he stood. “Now hold him still.”
Through a blur of pain Daniel saw the long, curved knife appear in Hurdy’s right hand. Panic lent him strength and he struggled to free himself. Trevor tightened his grip, caught Daniel’s left wrist, leaving him completely defenseless. 
Hurdy buried the knife in Daniel’s left arm, just below the elbow. He screamed, agony exploding through him. The knife was iron—and would keep him from healing the wound himself. 
“Shut him up!” Hurdy hissed. Trevor obeyed and let go of Daniel’s right arm, reaching up to cover his mouth. The returning blood flow was a small pain compared to the fire raging down his left arm. Hurdy followed with the blade, opening his forearm to the wrist. 
“That’s a good start.” 
Daniel screamed again when Hurdy yanked out the knife. Blood poured down his hand, pooled on the hard packed dirt. What was left of his strength ran out with the blood and he collapsed against Trevor. 
“I think that’s enough,” Trevor said, his voice quiet. He let go of Daniel’s mangled arm and caught him around the waist, holding him upright. “We were not told to kill him, Tom.” 
“Well, I guess the rabble got carried away. Walk now, Trev, if you don’t have the stomach. I’m going to cut on him a while, make up some for what his dad took from mine.” 
Daniel swallowed, heart pounding. Hurdy Senior had stolen from Father, lied about it, and been punished severely. Now he was about to pay for the rash decision to make the older Hurdy an example. 
Mandore moved in, clenching and unclenching his fists. “Tom, I don’t think—” 
Hurdy turned on him. “You losing your nerve too?” Daniel knew he wasn’t meant to survive this—not with Hurdy using iron on him, and throwing around names. Names Daniel recognized. “Wouldn’t you do the same if you had the chance? Self-righteous bastard had no call—” 
“She did not authorize this,” Trevor said. 
“Just shut your mouth!” Hurdy raised the bloody knife, the point inches from Trevor’s face. Trevor flinched, but he didn’t pull away. “You hear me, Trev—I’m in charge. She put me in charge—” 
“Why?” Daniel’s raw whisper cut through the tirade. 
Hurdy smiled, and instead of using the knife again, he flipped the pendant Daniel wore out of the way and dug the sharp edge of his garnet signet ring into the left side of Daniel’s chest. 
Daniel tried to jerk away. One hand fisted in his hair, halted his retreat. 
“Since you’ll be dead,” Hurdy tightened his grip, “you don’t need to know.”

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Still, At Your Door: A Fictional Memoir by Emma Eden Ramos

Ten Things You Didn’t Know about 
Emma Eden Ramos

1. She started out studying to be a forensic psychologist.
2. She has an unusual fascination with Finland.
3. She is of Polish, Mexican and German descent.
4. Her favorite city is Dublin.
5. She loves old movies, especially those starring Bette Davis.
6. She is terrified of mannequins.
7. She thinks she can sing but, unfortunately, no one else agrees.
8. She volunteers at a bird hospital.
9. She has never driven a car.
10. She can do the moonwalk.

Still at Your Door: A Fictional Memoir 
by Emma Eden Ramos

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Publisher: Writers AMuse Me Publishing

Published: February 22nd, 2014

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

YA — Sabrina “Bri” Gibbons has only a few short minutes to pack her things and help her sisters pack theirs before running with their mother to the bus that will whisk them away from Butler, Pennsylvania, an abusive relationship, and a secret that none of them wish to acknowledge. She was not prepared, though, for her mother to drop them on the streets of New York with the promise that she would be right back. Haunted by the sight of her mother running back to the cab, Bri, with Missy and Grace in tow, settles in with their grandparents. Thoughts of her present and her future collide with memories of her past, her dead father, and her mother’s bizarre episodes. She watches her sisters struggle with school and acceptance, all the while knowing the lack of any sense of security will make it impossible for them to carry on as ‘normal’ children. She finally lets her guard down enough to allow someone else in and sees a faint glimmer that her dreams might be attainable. Disaster strikes again, this time targeting her sister. Is it possible for Bri to find that balance between her dreams and her family’s realities?

About the Author: 

Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. Her middle grade novella, The Realm of the Lost, was recently published by MuseItUp Publishing. Her short stories have appeared in Stories for Children Magazine, The Storyteller Tymes, BlazeVOX Journal, and other journals. Ramos’ novelette, Where the Children Play, is included in Resilience: Stories, Poems, Essays, Words for LGBT Teens, edited by Eric Nguyen. Three Women: A Poetic Triptych and Selected Poems (Heavy Hands Ink, 2011), Ramos’ first poetry chapbook, was shortlisted for the 2011 Independent Literary Award in Poetry. Emma studies psychology at Marymount Manhattan College. When she isn’t writing or studying, Emma can usually be found drinking green tea and reading on her kindle.

They are broken into sections. You may use what you would like.
I hold tight to my memories of the solid years. Each one is a crystal vase filled to the brim with brightly colored petals. Summer, ‘99: Missy is five, I’m six. We’re vacationing at Virginia Beach with Mom and Dad. Mom wears a black one-piece, a white sun hat and no sunscreen. Her lanky, bronzed legs shimmer under the fiery rays, but it’s all well and good. “Gypsy skin,” she explains, lathering up my little sister. “You and I have it.” She winks at me. “Missy here’s more like Daddy.” In front of us, Dad talks to a blonde boy with a surfboard. He turns to us and beckons. I jump to my feet, eager to hit the waves. “Sabrina.” Mom presses her leathery palms against my cheeks. “Bri-bear.” She kisses my nose. “Go on.” I grab Missy’s hand and we scamper toward the giant salt pond, ready for Dad to scoop us up and wade us through.
Another summer, many years later, Missy and I come across what looks like a secret stash of sea glass. We collect the emerald green fragments just as a mother-sized wave unfurls to scoop them back up. The edges have been smoothed over, calmed. I slide my index finger across one side of the largest piece. Missy stands next to me, peering out toward the horizon. I turn to her, the glass held tightly in my fist. Before I can begin, she says, “Water life is easier.”
“Huh?” I stare down at the rushing waves. A thick clump of seaweed tickles my ankle.
Missy seizes a shard from her stash and flings it. The water swallows the glass whole. There’s no resistance on either side. “It wasn’t ready.” She shakes her head.
“What does that mean?” I ask. “How is water life easier?”
“I don’t know. I guess… you go in jagged. You’re jagged when you go in but smooth when you come out.”
Trying to understand, I scrutinize my sister’s profile. I recognize our mother in her pronounced cheekbones, her long black lashes.
“But not us.” Missy speaks to the open water. I just happen to be standing by. “We come in soft, without edges. Those come later.”
“You mean we get jagged with age?”
“Yes.” Missy’s eyes grow big. She cocks her head to one side, then turns to meet my gaze. “That’s what happens to us.”

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