Celebrating New Year in Russia

From Stella May

When I was a child, December 31st was the happiest and most anticipated day of the year.

You see, in my old country, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. As a matter of fact, we didn’t even know what Christmas was. Instead, we celebrated New Year. How come? Well, I was born in the former USSR, the communist country, where Christmas as a religious holiday was banned since 1928. (I think they reinstated it in 1991, but I am not positive.)

But, back to my story. As sad as it may seem to you, our New Years were festive, and happy.

We decorated our flats with an abandon. A fresh pine tree was a must. I still remember how it smelled—fresh and green like hope. And, oh God, the decorations! Hand-made, or store bought, and the garlands… We had our own version of Santa Claus—Ded Moroz, who had his lovely granddaughter, Snegurochka.

Oh, the New Years of my childhood! It was pure joy, and expectation of something wonderful, and magic rolled into one.

The smell of tangerines permeated the air. Those little orange delights were an absolute necessary attribute of any New Year’s celebration–- even more than champagne.

My mom slaved in the kitchen for days to put the biggest and most scrumptious meal on the table. And the most favorite dish of all? Olivier Salad, of course. It was, and still is, a synonym of New Year.

Then, on the big day, we would put our best china and gather around the table for dinner. For children, it was the biggest thrill, because only on New Year’s Eve we were allowed to stay up all night, eat sweets, and watch TV until we dropped.

And only the children received presents. Mostly, it was sweets, fruit, books, and an occasional toy— nothing the modern children would consider a ‘present’, especially a Christmas present.

But we were waiting for those special presents all year and treasured them immensely.

To us, they were precious. They represented something special–New Year.

No one wrapped our presents simply because we didn’t have any wrapping paper. I remember my mom used cellophane and some ribbons to make our presents a little more festive.

I remember how she would hide these funny-looking bundles from us, and how happy she was when she’d manage to transfer them in the middle of the night under the tree, and then looked surprised when we find them in the morning.

But most of all, I remember the feeling of absolute and total happiness. Oh, what a joy it was, that magical New Year’s night! The exhilaration, anticipation, celebration! I remember everything so vividly like it was yesterday, and my heart breaks a little each and every time.

In my family we keep the tradition and celebrate New Year’s in a big way. Now I am slaving in the kitchen, using my mother’s recipes to put on a celebratory dinner. And every year, there are tangerines, champagne, and Olivier Salad. And presents? There will be plenty of presents for everyone— not only for children. And they will be wrapped in a pretty paper, and adorned with festive ribbons and bows.

Just in a little over a month, we will sit around the table, and raise our glasses to toast 2022, wishing for health and happiness, peace and prosperity.

May this coming year be kind to everybody. Stay safe and healthy, love each other, care for your loved ones, and always keep a positive attitude.

Happy New Year, or as we said in Russia, с Новым Годом!

Stella May is the penname for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance as well as time travel romance. She is the author of ‘Till Time Do Us Part, Book 1 in her Upon a Time series, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean with her husband. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and are all partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Author CD Hersh on discovering Charles Dickens’s Holiday Romance

from C.D. Hersh We found a free, fun, fanciful and fantastic book Holiday Romance by Charles Dickens

While surfing the Kindle bookstore for romance book freebies we came across a book by Charles Dickens entitled, Holiday Romance, which has been recently put into e-book format. Romance by Dickens? The title had our attention and we downloaded it.

We haven’t read much Dickens since high school where the obligatory Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield with its flowery language was enough to stifle any desire to read more. Oh, we enjoy A Christmas Carol and the many rewrites and adaptations, but, as a general rule, we have no burning desire to drown ourselves in Dickens’s classic works. That all changed with the reading of the opening line in the second paragraph of the book.

“Nettie Ashford is my bride. We were married in the right-hand closet in the corner of the dancing-school, where first we met, with a ring (a green one) from Wilkingwater’s toy shop. I owed for it out of my pocket money.”

He had us with that line. We wanted to know more about the closet romance between this couple. The subsequent quick reading of book did not disappoint, not because it’s a romance in the fashion of the genre today.

The book is written from the viewpoint of four children, ages six and a half to nine and has four parts. The first part, The Trial of William Tinkley, is an adventure in which the children marry one another. The Magic Fishbone is a fairy tale where a Victorian era Cinderella gets her prince and the promise of thirty-five children, seventeen boys and eighteen girls. In Boldheart and the Latin Grammar Master the young seafaring pirate captain obtains permission to marry his love after proving his worth on the high seas. The fourth part, Mrs. Orange, is a domestic romance with role reversals of adults and children showcasing a frazzled child-mother who decides to place her brood of adult-children, whom she dotes on but for whom her husband doesn’t care much about, in boarding school.

While there is a romantic element in the childish love stories, the book is a romance mostly in the literary sense of romanticism—a literary style that revolts against the aristocratic social and political norms of the day. In spite of (or maybe because of the social commentary in the book) and the easy flow of the language, we found this to be a delightfully funny children’s book that made us laugh out loud.

Holiday Romance is unique for several reasons.

Originally written as a four-part series for Our Young Folks, An Illustrated Magazine for Boys and Girls, the book is Dickens’s only fictional work for children.

He is writing for children using their language and perspective.

Published in 1868, near the end of his life, it has also rarely been reprinted as a whole.

The use of fairy tales (which he opposed as a vehicle for promoting moral causes) is a primary literary vehicle for parts of the book.

So you ask, “What does Holiday Romance have to do with writing today?” It’s Dickens’s combination of realism and fantasy that strikes a chord with me. Dickens knew he was writing something off the wall when he penned Holiday Romance. In fact, he wrote to James Field in 1867 commenting about the implausibility of his work saying, “I hope the Americans will see the joke of Holiday Romance. The writing seems to me so like children’s that dull folks (on any side of any water) might rate it accordingly.” {http://users.unimi.it/dickens/essays/Craft/bacile.pdf}

For us, the humor and appeal of Holiday Romance lies in the fantastical element. We know children don’t get married in coat closets. Nor do they sail off on pirate ships, have fairy godmothers, or put their parents in boarding school. But those situations are fun, fanciful, and fantastic and that’s what makes this book work.

Likewise a paranormal story without the extraordinary elements of the supernatural would just be another story. Vampires, shape shifters, ghosts, things that go bump in the night are core to the genre. We all know these things don’t exist, but we are willing to suspend belief and enter into the writer’s world and let them take us for a ride. When a writer skillfully sets these elements in a realism that makes the reader want to look over her shoulder in a dark alley, load her conceal and carry gun with silver bullets, triple check the deadbolts, and keep the lights on after midnight, the author has turned those improbable essentials into something as close to reality as they will ever get. That thrill of finding the unexpected and abnormal is what lures most readers to paranormal. It’s also what makes most of us write it too.

Dickens may have had a social agenda when he wrote Holiday Romance, but we don’t care about that. We just thought it was a funny read. And how often can you say that about Dickens?

You can get a copy of this e-book on Amazon.

Here is a little about our paranormal series, The Turning Stone Chronicles. We hope you enjoy it. Three ancient Celtic families. A magical Bloodstone that enables the wearers to shape shift. A charge to use the stone’s power to benefit mankind, and a battle, that is going on even today, to control the world. Can the Secret Society of shape shifters called the Turning Stone Society heal itself and bring peace to our world? Find out in the series The Turning Stone Chronicles series. C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life. Stay connected with C.D. Hersh on their Website, Soul Mate Publishing, Facebook, Amazon Author Page, and Twitter.

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How to Make a Zombie – by Sharon Ledwith

HOW TO MAKE A ZOMBIE from Sharon Ledwith

Much has been written about the walking dead we’ve come to know as ‘zombies’. Immortalized in movies, television shows, books, comics, and music videos (remember Thriller?), zombies have become so much a part of our culture that people can’t get enough of these brain-eating horror icons. When researching for The Last Timekeepers and the Noble Slave, the third installment of my young adult time travel adventure series, I wanted to incorporate a Voodoo ceremony that included creating a zombie. Oh, where to start, I asked myself, as there was so much information out there to glean, and only a chapter to fit it in.

Buried Zombie Rising Out Of Ground In Misty Cemetery

So do zombies exist? The people of Haiti certainly think so. Here they are considered to be more than spooky stories, but rather very real entities. Stories of zombies persist in Haiti right up to the modern day, with sightings of the poor, haggard creatures fairly common in many rural areas. In fact, cases are so prevalent that there have been wild estimates claiming that there are as many as up to one thousand new cases of zombies a year. Wow, that’s a lot of the undead roaming around a small island! Zombification is even a crime under the Haitian Penal Code (Article 246), in which it is considered to be on par with murder despite the fact that the zombified individual is technically still alive.

Bet you’re dying to know how to make a zombie? Read on…

The zombies of Haiti were said to be corpses that were reanimated through black magic by powerful Voodoo sorcerers or priests known as bokors, for manual labor on farms and sugarcane plantations. Zombies can allegedly be made from those who are still living if the bokor is powerful enough to wrest the victim’s soul from their body. The process of turning a living person into a zombie is said to follow certain steps. First, the bokor will place a hex on the target of the ritual, who will subsequently fall mysteriously ill and die soon after. The exact methods and concoctions used vary among the bokors, but many use a powerful neurotoxin derived from pufferfish. Some zombification processes use blood and hair from their victims in addition to using Voodoo dolls. Others involve a carefully prepared mixture called ‘coup de poudre’ (powder strike) made of mystical herbs, human remains, and animal parts. Administrating this mixture can also vary from ingestion, injection, or even a blow dart.

Once the family of the victim pronounces the victim dead, he or she is buried in the family tomb (usually above ground), where the responsible bokor will steal the body from its grave and set about reanimating it through dark sorcery. Next, the bokor performs an ancient Voodoo rite where he or she captures the victim’s ti bon ange (the part of the soul connected to an individual) within seven days following the death of corps cadaver, while it is still hovering over the corpse. This effects a split in the spiritual parts of the victim and produces two complementary types of zombies: the spirit zombie and the zombie of the flesh. The bokor then traps the spirit zombie in a small clay jar or container, and replaces it with the loa (Voodoo spirit) that the bokor controls. The container is hidden in a secret place and is wrapped in a piece of the victim’s clothing or some other personal possession.

After a day or two, the bokor then administers a hallucinogenic mixture called the ‘zombie cucumber,’ (made from the plant Datura stramonium) that revives the victim and is used to keep the zombie in a state of submissive confusion. In this brainwashed condition, the zombie cannot speak, has no memory, and no longer resembles its past human personality. Now easy to control, the zombie is completely under the control of the bokor who created them until the bokor dies. Once released from bondage, the zombies can finally return to their home village or place of burial, and die.

There seems reason to believe from work and research done in the past that there may possibly be a concrete, scientific basis for stories of zombies, so perhaps time will tell. For now, these mysterious creatures lurk along the fringes of Haitian villages and our imaginations. Whether drug addled slaves or corpses reanimated through dark sorcery, the enigma of real zombies beckons us. Perhaps one day we will bring them out into the light and have the answers we seek.

With that, I’ll leave you with this line in the song Thriller, by Michael Jackson: It’s close to midnight! Something evil’s lurking in the dark! Hopefully, it’s not a blood-thirsty corpse. Stay safe, my zombie-loving readers!

Here’s a glimpse at my latest time travel mystery.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders.

Amazon Buy Link

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

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New Release – Garden of the Spirits of the Pots by Linda Lee Greene

GOTSOTP FINAL FINAL FRONT COVER Version Five cover - CopyLinda Lee Greene is delighted to announce the release of her new book, a novella titled GARDEN OF THE SPIRITS OF THE POTS, A Spiritual Odyssey. It is a story in which ex-pat American bachelor Nicholas Plato, following the violent death of Tobias, his twin brother, roommate, and business partner, is on his own for the first time in his life. But that is the least of the challenges Nicholas encounters in his adopted home of Sydney, Australia and the area’s forbidding but alluring outback. One fateful day, Nicholas gets lost in the outback and happens on a pintsized hut on a lonely plot littered with hundreds of clay pots of every size and description. Driven by a deathly thirst, he stops. A strange little brown man materializes out of nowhere and introduces himself merely as ‘Potter,’ and welcomes Nicholas to his ‘Garden of the Spirits of the Pots.’ Although Nicholas has never laid eyes on Potter, the man seems to have expected Nicholas at his bizarre habitation and displays knowledge about him that nobody has any right to possess. Just who is this mysterious Aboriginal potter?

Although they are as mismatched as two persons can be, a strangely inevitable friendship takes hold between them. It is a relationship that can only be directed by an unseen hand bent on setting Nicholas on a mystifying voyage of self-discovery and Potter on revelations of universal certainties.

A blend of inspirational fiction, romance, and allegory, this is a tale of Nicholas’ journey into parts unknown, both within his adopted home and himself, a spiritual odyssey that in the end leads him to his true purpose for living.©

The book is available in eBook and/or paperback. Just click the following blue link and it will take you straight to the page on Amazon USA on which you can purchase it. https://tinyurl.com/dw6zbhbv.

Amazon UK:  https://tinyurl.com/3as4585j

#SydneyAustralia, #AustraliaFiction, #OutbackAdventure, #SpiritualOdyssey, #InspirationalFiction, #Romance, #GardenoftheSpiritsofthePots, #LindaLeeGreene

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Co-Authors C D Hersh on Why You Must Pick up the Pace

C.D. Hersh is here to talk about pacing and its importance to a better story. They offer six ways to keep a train from rolling through your scenes.

We’re not talking about stories about locomotives or the walking back and forth you do when waiting for someone. Pacing in writing is determined by the length of the scenes, how fast the action moves, and how quickly the reader is provided with information.

Have you seen the movie “The Descendants” starring Nick Clooney? If you like panoramic views of Hawaii and lots of close-ups of Clooney, then hunt it up on your favorite streaming service. If, however, you prefer a faster paced story, this movie is not the one for you.

When we belonged to a drama group our director was always talking about pacing. She hated pauses that were longer than it took for a ping pong ball to drop from a coffee table. In “The Descendants” you could have driven trains through some of the pauses in the scenes. Can you say sloooooow?

Try as we might, we couldn’t figure out why so many sluggish scenes were needed. Some of the unnecessary scenes included close ups of an angst-ridden Clooney staring out into space, for way too long; pedantic scenes of him buried behind piles of paper at his office desk; more than one silent, plodding hospital scene with Clooney and his family, while the camera panned the room; long camera shots of Hawaii you could have fit four commercials into; and a closing movie scene where the characters spent minutes staring wordlessly at the television. The only thing in the last scene that made a point was the quilt they all snuggled under. Come on, already. Pick up the pace. Even sad stories need to move along at a clip that keeps the viewer, or reader, engaged.

Pacing is such an important part of any story. Too slow and you lose the reader’s attention. Too fast and you leave them wondering what just happened. Here are a six tips to help you keep your story’s pacing moving along.

  • Use more dialogue for faster pacing. We’re not talking about dull “How’s the weather” conversation, unless the story’s about a tornado. Make every word count and tell the reader something new.
  • Don’t repeat information. There’s no need to beat the reader over the head with information. Telling them once that Aunt Millie is dying is sufficient. They’ll remember it. They’re smart.</li
  • Use action instead of tags in dialogue. You’ll not only speed up the pace, but you’ll show the reader what’s happening.
  • Keep two or more characters on the scene. Think Tom Hanks in Castaway, versus The Transformers.
  • Use narrative or description sparingly. Nothing stops a story like a side trip down memory lane or descriptions of setting and characters. Drop that kind of information into the story in short bites. The reader will still get it.
  • Create tension in the scene. Donald Maas says every scene should have tension, even every page. If you don’t have tension there’s no reason for your reader to turn the page.
Check your work in progress. Are your scenes tight and exciting, or can you drive a train or a semi-truck through them? Scenes don’t have to be action packed, just tension packed. Keep those ping pong balls bouncing around to stir up the pace.

Here’s a scene from book four, The Mercenary and the Shifters of our series, The Turning Stone Chronicles, to give you an idea of fast pace.

My home is perfectly safe. It’s my business I’m concerned about.”

Fiona crossed her arms over her chest, her body language closing off to further suggestions. Mike followed her motions. As he did, he spotted a red dot on her chest. The dot wiggled.

“Get down!” Mike shouted as he dove for Fiona.

They hit the floor as the pottery on the raised fireplace hearth exploded, sending shards across the room. Mike shoved Fiona behind the nearest chair then scrambled across the rug to the blown-out window. Removing his gun from his back-of-the-waist holster, he peered over the windowsill. Seeing no one in the driveway, he swiveled around to check on Fiona. The red laser point danced around the room, searching for a target.

Mike followed the trajectory of the beam. The shot came from across the street in something high. He remembered seeing a tree house in the yard across the road from the mansion.

“Who lives across from you?” he asked.

“No one right now. The house is for sale.”

“I didn’t see a ‘For Sale’ sign.”

“We’re in an exclusive neighborhood. The HOA forbids sale signs.” Another shot rang out.

Mike whirled around in time to see Fiona’s head sticking out from behind the chair. The image of her head reflected in the fireplace mirror. “He’s using the mirror to target us. Do these curtains close?”

“Yes. The cord’s on the other side of the window.”

“I’m going to crawl under the window and close them. He’ll probably see my reflection in the mirror and start shooting, so stay hidden. As soon as the curtains close, crawl to the window as fast as you can and follow the wall to the entryway. Then get the hell out of the front of the house. Got it?”

“Got it.” Fiona’s voice quavered up the scale.

“You okay?”

“Scared, but okay.”

As Mike crawled along the floor, a volley of shots rang out. The remainder of the pottery displayed on the hearth shattered. When he reached the other side of the window, he yanked the drapery cord. The curtains billowed closed.

“Now, Fiona!” he shouted.

As she belly crawled across the floor, Mike held his breath. Bullets sprayed the room, punching through the heavy draperies, the shots veering from floor to ceiling.

Don’t ricochet! he commanded.

Fiona reached the cover of the exterior wall, and he let his breath out in a whoosh.

“Hurry!”

When she came within arm’s reach, he grabbed her hand and yanked her the rest of the way across the room and into the entry.

“Do you have a panic room?”

She nodded, her eyes filled with fear. “In the basement, behind the trophy wall.”

“Get in it, and don’t come out until I tell you to.”

“Where are you going?”

“To get the SOB who’s trying to kill you.”

Now when your heart rate slows down how about checking out our books? C.D. Hersh–Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Plus their paranormal series titled The Turning Stone Chronicles. They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life. Stay connected with C.D. Hersh on social media:

Website

Soul Mate Publishing

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Twitter

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Cover Reveal – ‘Til Time Do Us Part by Stella May

COVER REVEAL for Stella May’s latest Time Travel Romance. This engrossing novel has wonderful moments of humour and honest soul-searching. This book contains a house flipper who talks to her projects, a beloved grandmother, a case of mistaken identity, and a slow-burn romance. Look for its release on Amazon and all major vendors September 27, 2021.

The twist of a key answers many questions…but could also break her heart.

BLURB: Nika Morris’s sixth sense has helped build a successful business, lovingly restoring and reselling historic homes on Florida’s Amelia Island. But there’s one forlorn, neglected relic that’s pulled at her from the moment she saw it. The century-old Coleman house.

Quite unexpectedly, the house is handed to her on a silver platter—along with a mysterious letter, postmarked 1909, yet addressed personally to Nika. Its cryptic message: Find the key. You know where it is. Hurry, for goodness sake!

The message triggers an irresistible drive to find that key. When she does, one twist in an old grandfather clock throws her back in time, straight into the arms of deliciously, devilishly handsome Elijah Coleman.

Swept up in a journey of a lifetime, Nika finds herself falling in love with Eli—and with the family and friends that inhabit a time not even her vivid imagination could have conjured. But in one desperate moment of homesickness, she makes a decision that will not only alter the course of more than one life, but break her heart.

Stella May is the pen name for Marina Sardarova who has a fascinating history you should read on her website.

Stella writes fantasy romance and time travel and is the author of the family saga/trilogy Once & Forever, and the stand-alone book Rhapsody in Dreams. Love and family are two cornerstones of her stories and life. Stella’s books are available in e-book and paperback through all major vendors.

When not writing, Stella enjoys classical music, reading, and long walks along the ocean.

She lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Leo of 25 years and their son George. They are her two best friends and all are partners in their family business.

Follow Stella on her website and blog Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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Cover Reveal for The Last Timekeepers Book III by Sharon Ledwith

COVER REVEAL
for Sharon Ledwith’s newest Time Travel Fantasy in The Last Timekeepers series. This exciting book, that is for people of all ages, releases September 17, 2021 from Mirror World Publishing!

Here’s a little teaser to pique your interest.

True freedom happens only when you choose to be free.

Eleven-year-old Drake Bailey is an analytical thinker and the genius of the Timekeeper crew. However, no logic or mathematical acumen can change the color of his skin, or prepare him for this third Timekeeper mission in antebellum Georgia. To survive, Drake must learn to play the role of a plantation slave and when confronted with the brutality, hatred, and racism of the deep south, he’ll have to strategically keep one move ahead of his sadistic captors to ensure his lineage continues.

In a dark world of Voodoo, zombies, and ritualistic sacrifice, the Timekeepers must ensure a royal bloodline survives. Can Drake remove both literal and figurative chains to save both himself and a devout slave girl from a terrible fate? If he can’t summon the necessary courage, humanity could stand to lose one of its greatest leaders.

EXCERPT

Suddenly, a radiant white light beamed from the archway like a lighthouse beacon. Drake hooded his eyes. Amanda grimaced, cradled her stomach, and fell to her knees. Perspiration beaded across her forehead while she fumbled for the Timekeepers’ log in her purse. Amanda pulled a thin, pencil-like writing instrument Lilith called a crystal chalkis out of the log’s spine, and opened the log. Her left hand jumped across the page, scrawling at an incredible rate. Amanda’s breathing became labored. She tossed the crystal chalkis and Timekeepers’ log aside, and lurched to vomit across the lawn.

“What the—” Jordan crouched to steady her. “Amanda? Are…are you okay?”

Treena heaved. “Oh, I don’t do pity puke well.”

“Neither do I,” Ravi said, puffing his cheeks. “I can’t unsee or unhear that.”

A sharp whoosh—like the sound of a spaceship’s door opening on a science fiction television show—made Drake glance into the archway. Lilith appeared with her arms open wide, and a slight halo around her slim body. The shimmering, dark blue sleeveless dress she wore billowed as if a great force rolled in behind her.

“Greetings, Time…” Her sea blue eyes widened. “Amanda, let what you feel pass. They are old emotions embedded into the vibration of your new mission.”

“Embedded emotions?” Drake asked. “Is that like those haunted imprints we experienced in our last Timekeeper mission?”

Melody grabbed the garden hose and rushed over to Amanda. “John, please turn on the tap.”

“Hang in there, Amanda, the cool water will make you feel better,” the Prof said.

Lilith clasped her hands together, and nodded, making the numerous quartz crystals holding up her blond hair quiver. “Yes, Drake, but worse. These haunted imprints go deeper.”

A terrible ache spiked through Drake’s stomach. He picked up the opened Timekeepers’ log, swallowed hard, and read aloud, “April 8th, 1855—Fields of blood bathe the deep south’s soil as a race of people continue to toil. Broken in body, but not in soul, they wait for a King to make them all whole.

Drake stuffed the crystal chalkis into the spine of the Timekeepers’ log. He imagined wearing the standard issue red uniform of a crewman in his favorite space show. The crewman who always gets killed by the end of the episode. Was this a call of duty or a suicide mission? Drake’s belly burned. Now he wanted to puke too.

Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

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Cover Reveal – The Castle by Anne Montgomery

Cover Reveal for Anne Montgomery’s newest Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense from TouchPoint Press releasing September 13, 2021!

Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—a six-hundred-year-old pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.

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REVIEW COPIES OF THE CASTLE AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST Contact: Chelsea Pieper, Publicity Manager, Media Liaison

Review/interview requests: media@touchpointpress.com

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Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces. When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar. Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Learning Welsh Again

From Carol Browne

Recently, I made a serious attempt at tackling a life-long goal. I have always wanted to learn Welsh and now that I am semi-retired, I have the time and the inclination to take on new projects. I already have a good grounding in French and a smattering of German but Welsh has been what you might call the Holy Grail for me when wanting to learn another language. There are a number of reasons for this. As a Brit, I believe we in the UK should value and preserve all our languages. It is a shame they aren’t taught in schools. The UK comprises four nations so why should English alone be the national tongue? Welsh is a British language and the Britons were here first!

Apart from the historical and cultural reasons for learning another language, it has been shown to help with cognitive function and to ward off dementia. It opens up neural pathways in the brain and is especially good for the mental development of children. Other languages can stretch our minds with their varied uses of syntax and imagery; it is a different way of looking at the world.

I have another reason for learning Welsh, however. This one will ask many of the people reading this blog to suspend disbelief. I did have another attempt at learning Welsh a long time ago. I was about eight years old and had inherited a bookcase with its contents from my great uncle. In it was a Teach Yourself Welsh book. So I tried. I desperately wanted to learn Welsh because being Welsh was an obsession of mine. Coincidentally, all my family holidays were spent in Wales as we weren’t too far from the Welsh border. Trust me, once you cross that border you feel different. There is something a bit magical about Wales. Druids, castles, dragons, yes! But the whole ethos of that country feels otherworldly. The beaches are gorgeous too and there are stunning waterfalls and lush woodland that seem to be a natural haunt for the faerie folk.

My attempt at learning Welsh on my own at such a young age was a failure. I could write the words but had no idea how to say them. No Internet then. There were no evening classes and no college courses in Welsh, even had I been old enough to attend. I was forced to abandon the attempt. But my obsession with Wales persisted. I didn’t just want to speak Welsh; I wanted to be Welsh. Being English instead actually caused me considerable depression. Bonkers! Why would a child have such outlandish thoughts!

Fast forward twenty years to a morning bus ride on my way to work. I remember it clearly. I was gazing sadly out of the window, thinking that if anyone were to ask me what my biggest regret in life was, I would have to say, “Not being Welsh”. Only one thought cheered me up. That evening there was something to look forward to. A neighbour and I had booked readings with a local clairvoyant medium. Although we both had an interest in spiritual and esoteric matters, we had not been to a medium before and it was a bit of a giggle; but I was not prepared for what I was to hear.

When my turn to sit with the medium came, she told me about my present life and quite a few things that would happen in my future (I dismissed them at the time but they all came to pass!). She said that I could ask her some questions before I left. Something prompted me to say, “Can you see people’s past lives?” “Oh, yes,” she said. “I can see some of yours. In your most recent past life you were Welsh.” Yep, I almost fell off the chair! How could she know I was obsessed with being Welsh? Nobody knew that! She went on to tell me I was a woman with a smallholding in Maesteg, South Wales, and I loved animals but didn’t like human society so lived like a recluse. She said, unfortunately, I had brought that vibration with me to this lifetime (I have. My bad, but it wasn’t a conscious decision!). I died of cancer in about 1874. “One day, you will go back to Maesteg and recognise where you used to live,” she went on.

So far, I haven’t made it to Maesteg, but you never know.

The funny thing is, as soon as she told me I had been Welsh, my obsession with being Welsh evaporated along with the sadness. Something lifted and I was content with my Englishness from that point on. Fortunately, my love for Wales and the language did not go away. Now, thanks to Duolingo, I am learning Welsh and I know how to pronounce it this time, so I have more chance of success. For all those years before that clairvoyant released me from my past-life enchantment, I endured an inexplicable longing for a place with which I felt a profound but irrational bond. It was nostalgia for a home that no longer existed and a sense of deep sorrow and regret to have lost it. I experienced something for which there is no word in English.

But there is a word that encapsulates all of those feelings. The word is hiraeth. It’s Welsh, of course!

Here’s a brief intro to my latest book. I hope you enjoy it.

An elf laments a passing era, But truth and beauty will survive, For they live on in stories and verses, And in our imaginations thrive.

Nature, nostalgia, mystery and magic, In twisty tales and poems that rhyme, Are here, with myth and fantasy blended, To capture another place and time.

BUY LINKS

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Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower. Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow. Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand. She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug. But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words. She hopes to live happily ever after.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Author Alicia Joseph’s Plant-Powered Plan

By Alicia Joseph

Day One of a Plant-Based Diet

Today is the first day of eating nothing but plant-based food for thirty days. I’ve been a vegetarian for about eight years, and then turned to veganism not too long ago. So, although I eat a lot of fruit and veggies, I am sure that I indulged way too much in my favorite vegan junk food. I’m looking straight at you Beyond Meat! Though I had always tried to balance the number of processed foods I ate with more healthy foods, I no doubt overdid it with the delicious brands of everything vegan – ice cream, pizzas, burgers, sausages, corndogs, chicken nuggets…I think you get the idea.

In 2006, I was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular disorder that leads to weakness of the skeletal muscles. The first seven years were pretty hard, but the last eight years have been quite bearable without any serious flareups, until recently. I believe food is the medicine that keeps our bodies in optimal health. I hope the negative effects I feel from my disease will motivate me to stay on course and eat strictly 1 plant-based diet. I didn’t weigh myself before I started. This change is more about feeling better than losing weight, but yeah, I’m hoping for that too.

I have a pre-planned list of recipes I jotted down from a plant-based cookbook written by Dr. John McDougall, The McDougall Quick and Easy Cookbook, that should cover me for a couple of weeks. My fridge is stocked with all the healthy deliciousness of natural and unprocessed foods. The key is staying organized and having a meal plan. Today’s meal was a simple carrot, celery, kale, and noodle soup followed by black bean sloppy joes over roasted potatoes.   One day down. Twenty-nine to go. Easy peasy.

Here is a glimpse into one of my books. I hope you enjoy it.

“When a train runs over a penny, the penny changes form, but it can still be a penny if I want it to be. Or, I can make it be something else.” Lyssa and her best friend Abbey discover a hideout near the train tracks and spend the summer before sixth grade hanging out and finding freedom from issues at home. Their childhood innocence shatters when the hideout becomes the scene of a tragic death. As they’re about to graduate from high school, Abbey’s family life spirals out of control while Lyssa is feeling guilty for deceiving Abbey about her sexuality. After another tragic loss, Lyssa finds out that a penny on the track is sometimes a huge price to pay for the truth.

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Alicia Joseph grew up in Westchester, Illinois. She has many works-in-progress that she hopes to finish soon. Life permitting. When she is not writing, Alicia enjoys volunteering with animals, rooting for her favorite sports teams, and playing “awesome aunt” to her nine nieces and nephews. Learn more about Alicia Joseph on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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