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Beth Caudill: A Writer’s Inspiration Begins at Home (Contest)
Wednesday, December 30th, 2020

UPDATE: The winner is…Colleen C!
*~*~*

Nearly twenty years ago, a white doe roamed the forests south of Raleigh, NC.  A true albino, the deer was a ghost bounding through the trees. She walked the miles around the protected lake, the pride and joy of the town in which she wandered.

But life is never safe. Humans paved roads, mowed down trees for houses, and children filled the air with their screams and squeals. One night the white deer tried to cross the road but never made it with her two babies.

This doe had been named the town mascot. As such it was a beloved member of the community. The town raised funds to stuff and eventually house the deer. Before a permanent home could be built, it was located in the local high school and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

In time, the deer returned to her natural habitat. But she still wasn’t safe. Vandals burned the structure and the deer’s body. Once again the town raised funds to repair the stuffed animal and eventually it found a home at the Nature Center in White Deer Park.

When my family bought our current house, we were told the tale of the White Deer. She became the inspiration for my Capricorn character in my final Zodiac Shifters story. There aren’t many myths surrounding red-tailed deer, but the White Stag is one of the most well-known.

Whether he is a part of the Fae’s Wild Hunt, the Guardian Protector of the forest, or a messenger of the Gods, the White Stag is very powerful. But what happens when humans cheat and use magic to hunt? Will the stag be able to outrun them, even injured? Find out in Sundered, the third and final story in my Willows Haven series.

Sundered

For years, reluctant earth witch Daphne Lowe has feared the strength of her powers. When she loses control, people are harmed. She already ruined Deputy Sheriff Stanford Morgan’s life once, when their relationship ignited his dormant magical powers and turned him into the legendary white stag. Getting involved with him again would just hurt him more. She has to ignore her feelings for him, and hope that someday he’ll stop loving her too.

Except the paranormal sanctuary of Willows Haven needs Daphne and Stanford together—she must anchor the town’s mythical willow trees, and he serves as guardian. Only then will the town’s supernatural residents be safe from the outside world. Trapped together by a snowstorm, Daphne and Stanford have a second chance at happiness if they can resolve their past issues.

When a dark witch invades the town, a final test of their commitment emerges. To succeed, they’ll have to truly trust in each other and embrace the power of their love.

Can a second chance at love survive vengeance from the past?

Book Landing Page: https://bethcaudill.net/books/zodiac-shifters-willows-haven/sundered/
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Q4GW2ZT
iBooks – https://books.apple.com/us/book/sundered/id1544021765
Barnes and Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sundered-beth-caudill/1138441189?ean=2940162910534
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/sundered-7
Google – https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Beth_Caudill_Sundered?id=f3ANEAAAQBAJ

A print version will be available in the new year.

Giveaway

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, leave a comment telling me your favorite character from Disney’s Bambi.

About the Author

Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, two sons and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who makes an excellent lap warmer. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. She loves fairy tales, fantastical creatures, and stuffed animals.

Author Website: http://BethCaudill.net/
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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00538IWEU
Bookbub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-caudill

Ara Geller: Russian Folktales, Invitation to Explore, and a New Anthology (Excerpt)
Monday, December 14th, 2020

A girl goes into the forest in search of a cannibal witch and comes out with a skull lantern full of magic coals.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

If you haven’t, don’t feel bad about it. Popular culture has been so thoroughly saturated with Disney-goggled fairytales, that anything outside the scope of televised fables naturally flies under the radar. Naomi Novik and Katherine Arden, among other fantasy writers, have been doing magnificent work bringing forth Slavic and Russian-influenced tales to the mainstream book market, but so much remains unexplored.

Especially within the realms of Romance and Erotica genres. Nobody likes a raunchy adaptation of Beauty and the Beast better than I do. But Little Red Riding Hood has been ridden by the Big Bad Wolf so many times, no wonder the poor dear can’t find her way to her Grandmother’s house.  I’m not saying these trusty, good old fairytales should be forsaken, gods forbid. But while Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel continue to fuel fine taboo tales, why not take a peek at another pantheon of fairytale characters?

There are damsels, there is distress, and sometimes they are coupled, but often in unexpected ways that make you raise your brow, thoroughly intrigued. (I’m looking at you, Marya Morevna! Who has the most powerful warlock in Russian folklore locked up and chained in one of their rooms? And why? I have so many questions!)

There are Bird-Princes, and Grey Wolves, and Baba Yagas, and clever, tough heroines that deserve a chance to shine.

I hope I’m doing my (small) part in the short story, “Vasilisa and the Tale of Tales,” published in the collaborative project Perfect Potions: An Anthology.

Interested in a sneak peek of “Vasilia and the Tale of Tales”? I’ve got you covered:

Suddenly, Lisa felt a chill run down her spine. Leaves rustled above their heads and she slapped a hand over John’s mouth to keep him quiet. But she could feel him tense as well, his body preparing for a fight, his heartbeat receding into a quiet drum. It’s been three years, but she was still attuned to the slightest shift of his body.

She tried not to think about his body.

The air was full of a new smell – feral fur, sweat, the scent of death, and endings. Softly, a rumble rolled through the treetops. Thunder, Lisa thought at first, but something was off. It was alive.

A purr.

And the sound of chafing chains.

“Carrion-eater,” John hissed.

“Skoromokh,” she whispered, her eyes trying to pierce the dark foliage above her.

She had never met one in person. Supposedly, one — or many — have visited her mother when Lisa and her sister were born. But mother never spoke of that.

All Lisa knew was common knowledge — they took many shapes, had sharp teeth and a silver tongue, and an uncanny tendency to appear when tales were about to start or end. They fed off tributes offered by hopeful or fearful parents, or, if no tribute was offered, on the dead bodies left in the wake of the Tale. They were the Order of Skoromokh, the Tale-tellers, the Witnesses. They took no sides but carried the Tales to the end.

The air hummed with static electricity, raising the small hairs on the back of her neck on end.

“I prefer Scholar Cat,” said a dark voice.

The voice was followed by the appearance of two rows of sharp glistening teeth stretched into an impossibly wide grin. Then, out of the darkness slowly emerged an enormous striped body of a feline. It sprawled along a branch high up in the tree, a golden chain looping from its neck all the way around the tree trunk.

“What are you doing here?” John asked.

The Cat smiled unpleasantly but said nothing.

Lisa felt her heart tighten in her chest. There were no tributes to feed it here. But soon, there will be dead bodies aplenty. “Our tale is coming to an end,” she said softly.

The Cat’s smile widened further, and she grew nauseated. She looked at John, finding him watching her, his face pale but his eyes steady. He tore his eyes from hers and looked up at the creature.

“It’s not over yet,” he stated.

The Cat cackled, standing up and stretching sluggishly, its body rippling with grace. Finally, with a flick of its tail, it slipped along the branch further into the darkness.

Lisa swallowed hard, apprehension creeping into her heart. She tried to shove it down, looking at John in hopes of reclaiming the anger that’s been driving her for the past years. Instead, she saw something dark in his own eyes, familiar and unnerving. She looked away, squeezing her eyes shut. Not now.

“Was this what we were supposed to find? The Carrion-eater?”

She shook her head, looking down at the stalling app on the screen. “I don’t know.” She looked up at the tree, but there was no trace of the sinister feline. His chains, however, were still in place, spiraled around the trunk and from hanging from the higher branches. Lisa frowned.

“Yeah,” John murmured. “Weird.” He took a step forward, as if he would go around the enormous tree, to follow the Skoromokh.

Lisa instinctively jerked on the chain, pulling him back. “Where do you think you’re going?”

He stumbled for the umpteenth time and then righted himself. When he turned to her, it was obvious he had had enough. She saw him plant his feet apart, and when he pulled on the chain, she realized she’d made a mistake. She tried to pull back, to keep her footing, but he was stronger than her, and no magic chains undid that. He pulled her slowly, methodically, watching her.

Something dark coiled in the pit of her stomach, dissolving into a burst of butterflies. She was already too close, but he gave one final yank on the chain and caught her deftly, pressing her body to his with an arm around her waist. His blue eyes were midnight black, full of promises made, full of purpose, and the intoxicating nightshade of desire.

When he spoke, his voice was rough and low and reached out into the dormant nooks of her heart with practiced ease. “Where can I run from you, Lisa?”

*~*~*

Don’t forget to get your copy of Perfect Potions: An Anthology, available on Kindle and in paperback.

Together with 14 other writers, we explore potions in all their glory, and I dive headfirst into the world of Russian folktales. The anthology may not be erotic, but it’s chock full of romance of the finest kind, guaranteed to make your heart flutter. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet your new favorite author among the line-up?

Come follow me. I’m a hoot!

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Ane Ryan Walker: Thanksgiving — So much to be thankful for and so many things that can and will go wrong. Count on it. (Recipe)
Sunday, November 24th, 2019

Psst! My apologies to Ane! I’m posting this a day late. My mother went into the hospital on Friday, so we’re a bit upside down at Devlin house! Enjoy the post!

*~*~*

I am fully aware The Holiday is not quite here, but this year will be the first time I’ve had the opportunity to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family in about five years. When I retired, my husband and I opted to travel the country, living fulltime in our RV, clearing our bucket list and volunteering in State parks. That five-year trip was an exceptional adventure. Now, as I get ready to move back into a “Brick and Stick” house and wait for the delivery of my personal belongings from storage, I’m recalling the incredible number of disasters—both imagined and real that happened over the fifty odd years when I was in charge of the kitchen, menu, turkey, etc.

So, what I’d like to do is share a few ground rules guidelines that might help you get through the holiday with less stress and, hopefully, a little more peace on earth.

Again, and this bears repeating: What can go wrong usually will.

Typically, it takes about five days to thaw a 24 lb. turkey. I found out the hard way, that this feat can be accomplished in about two to three hours. It requires a large, clean cooler. Place the cooler in a bathtub. Fill it with lukewarm water, immerse the frozen turkey and spin until the water cools. Dump the cold water and begin the process again. Repeat until the turkey thaws.

You’re wondering how I know this. One year, when newly a nurse and far from my hometown, several of the single nurses decided to have a “friends” holiday. Since our employer provided each of us a turkey, as a group, we donated the excess birds to a local church for their holiday food drive. We also opted to split the Thanksgiving “on call” hours into eight-hour shifts. At eight AM on Thanksgiving Day, the nurse relieving me from call handed me a frozen turkey. That’s right. 24 lbs. to be cooked by 4 PM.

My friends and I survived with a few adjustments and had a terrific holiday. But I learned a few things that day which have served me well over the years. These are not really rules for holidays but think of them as guidelines. Please use what you can and ignore the rest.

When you have a galley kitchen in a tiny apartment, people don’t usually invade your space. Unless they really want to help you cook. Make a plan and stick to it. Check back with the people who agree to help with the cooking to make sure you stay on the same page.

This Frozen Turkey event exacerbated the control freak in me. I never approached a large gathering or a family holiday in the same frivolous way as I did on that single girlfriends Thanksgiving.

Rules Guidelines for Holiday Survival

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Plan ahead.
  3. Clean out the fridge before the big day. This will assure the storage containers are clean and available.
  4. Make a list of things you can cook ahead that will not suffer in reheating. Desserts, rolls, snacks, are an excellent choice.
  5. Assign side dishes, dessert, etc. to relatives who want to help. This only works with reliable people who will stick to your plan.
  6. Remember your company will probably show up early, to assure them a good parking spot.
  7. Be prepared for people who want to help in the kitchen on the day. Leave chores you can trust them with and set up for them. I usually set the table but don’t add napkins, silver, serving spoons to the table. I assemble these things on a tray. Assign the chore, relieve the stress on the kitchen and appreciate the help.
  8. When you assign side dishes to relatives, be specific about what you can cook. You cannot cook your turkey when friends and relatives show up expecting you to manage the cooking or reheating for 120 side dishes at different temps while you are cooking turkey. Remember, 1 oven, 1 microwave, 1 toaster oven, is usually all that’s available. In a pinch, you can empty the dishwasher, turn on the drying cycle and load the reheated food into the top rack while you manage shifting other sides around for reheating. Rolls do okay but keep an eye out for food drying out. Short term use.
  9. Make sure you have extra foil and plastic wrap on hand as well as containers you don’t need to have returned. I buy a pack of easily forgotten containers at the Dollar Store, along with a multipack of shower caps. The shower caps are great for covering pies, cookies, and individual plates. I think you get twenty for $1.
  10. Remember, the oven is only so big. In an apartment you might not be able to fit a giant bird in there. Two birds are better than one. Double the dark meat. Two wishbones, need I say more? You can cook the smaller birds back to back. When you carve and serve the first, slip the other precooked turkey into the oven while your guests are enjoying the first bird.
  11. If you’re also having a houseful of company, make sure you plan for a good breakfast. I usually do an egg, sausage, and bread casserole assembled the night before, cooked first thing in the morning and served with fruit, coffee, and sweet breads. This breakfast is hearty enough to keep the family satisfied till dinner is ready midafternoon. It holds up well for stragglers, too.

And I’m including a real southern recipe for Corn Pudding just in case you can’t take one more year of looking at the green bean casserole.

Corn Pudding Recipe

¼ cup of all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
3 cups fresh or frozen corn, drained, and divided
3 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
¼ cup unsalted butter melted
1 ½ Tbs. scallions chopped, optional

Grease and flour an 8×8 baking dish or casserole dish of the same size. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, salt, and pepper, set aside. Pulse one cup of corn in a food processor until smooth. Set aside. Whisk eggs in a large bowl, then stir in flour and milk until combined. Whisk in melted butter and corn puree, add scallions and the rest of the corn. Stir to combine well. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and bake in preheated oven until puffed and lightly browned. Takes about 40 minutes. Sprinkle the top with chopped scallions if desired. Enjoy. FYI, this dish is delicious served hot or just warm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Ane Ryan Walker is an author and adventurer who believes in Angels, Demons, Witches and Magic. She recently settled in Alabama, after traveling the country with her husband and living fulltime in her RV. Ane is a member of Romance Writers of America©, Greater Houston RWA, and Women’s Fiction Chapter of RWA.

Born and raised in the great northeast, she writes a fictional series Survivors of Salem, about the witches who survived the Salem Witch Trials. She is also currently working on books about fulltime RVing.

In addition to Return to Angels Cove, look for the second book in the Survivors of Salem, The Covenant.

HARVEST MOON is here! (New Release)
Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

I have a new release! WARNING: This one’s not for the faint of heart. However, if you’re ready for a very spicy ménage that involves some beasty-demon sex, this one’s for you! Hope you enjoy it! And remember, if you do read it, reviews are always appreciated!

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon

In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.

Five witches…Too many demons to count…

Radha’s sister witches become concerned when her health begins to fail. Her sleep is never restful, but they are unable to pinpoint what is wrong.
Khan, a jinn who’s been tasked to serve as her guardian, has watched her restless sleep and believes he knows the answer. Her dreams may be haunted by a demon set on draining her of power. As much as Khan loathes the idea, he seeks an old enemy, a vanir, whose magic should allow him to enter Radha’s nightmares to slay the Mare, an enemy bent on taking advantage of Radha’s vulnerability to make her his own.

Until the vanir arrives, Khan and the satyr who is her other guardian must keep her safe—even from their own lustful natures.

Get your copy now!
FREE to KU subscribers!

Next Tuesday… (Excerpt)
Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

Whoa, this was supposed to post yesterday, but something happened as I tried to include the cover. Or rather, nothing happened. No internet connection. Which, when you live rurally and have the same company providing your TV, telephone, and Internet, means you have no connection with the outside world. So, I thought I just needed to reboot the system—something I have to do every other day. I sought out the box unplugged, replugged, then waited half an hour… Nothing. Huh. Just to check whether anyone else was in the same boat (and not at all because I wanted a cup of joe with my dd after all my frustrations), I headed to her place across the street. She had no connection either and had been WTFing for an hour, too.

When her cop hubby came home, we found out that every business and residence in the area using that same service was out as well. A construction crew had severed their fiber optic cable. And that’s technology for you. You’re dead without a backup solution. I did however get to bed super early because I was bored out of my mind.

And I’m rambling again. It’s 6AM, and I just checked connection. It’s back! So, I had to vent before I hit PUBLISH! 🙂

This book’s coming next Tuesday! I wrote it when I was sick as a dog, which somehow translates to “I wrote nothing but sex.” If you love a paranormal where a satyr (horse-man) and a jinn take a witch for a mate, you know this one is full of kink and a naughty ménage.

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon

In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.

Five witches…Too many demons to count…

Radha’s sister witches become concerned when her health begins to fail. Her sleep is never restful, but they are unable to pinpoint what is wrong.

Khan, a jinn who’s been tasked to serve as her guardian, has watched her restless sleep and believes he knows the answer. Her dreams may be haunted by a demon set on draining her of power. As much as Khan loathes the idea, he seeks an old enemy, a vanir, whose magic should allow him to enter Radha’s nightmares to slay the Mare, an enemy bent on taking advantage of Radha’s vulnerability to make her his own.

Until the vanir arrives, Khan and the satyr who is her other guardian must keep her safe—even from their own lustful natures.

Pre-order now!
FREE to KU subscribers!

Excerpt

The door opened behind her, and she turned with a smile. Only it wasn’t Ali.

Nikon gave her a wink. “Don’t look so disappointed.”

“I’m not dis—”

He cut her off with a quick rise of his brows.

Radha rolled her eyes. “I’m feeling a little restless.”

“If you like, we can walk into the village. We need to restock the refrigerator. We need more meat.”

“I thought horses were herbivores,” she teased, knowing his love of beef.

“Only half horse, here.”

Radha gave a glance in the mirror, decided the long work apron she wore over her wrap-around sari skirt would have to do, and grabbed a large tote as she headed toward the door.

Nikon held it open but stared down at her feet.

“What?” she said, staring at her toes. “I’m earthing.”

“As much as you witches like to be barefoot, it’s a wonder you don’t all have calluses as thick as hooves. Or how you don’t find every pebble in your path. And it’s October.”

She slipped past him and skipped down the porch stairs to the grass, chuckling softly. “October in the bayou isn’t that cold. Besides, the Goddess protects us. Without shoes, our feet connect more directly with her. It gives us a recharge.”

His long legs brought him quickly to her side. “Have you ever actually talked to her? Or seen her?”

“I’ve heard her. Not as clearly as I hear your voice, but like an echo inside my head. And I feel her when I stand in the moonlight.”

She gave him a curious sideways glance. Nikon really was a handsome man. Bright glints of red and gold shone in his brown hair. His hazel eyes were more green than brown. With a rugged body and square chin, he looked the part of a guardian. Her guardian. Why hadn’t she experienced more of an attraction for him? Her life would be a lot less complicated with someone like him rather than her tricky jinn. “Do you plan to stay here in Bonne Nuit, long-term?” she asked.

He shrugged. “I like working for Vindlér Construction. Ethan’s a fair boss, and he encourages his employees to move up. I hope to run my own crew someday.”

So, he had ambition. “Where are you from, originally?”

He grinned. “Kentucky,” he said. “I was raised on a farm. Not some little operation. Our horse clan owned a huge tract of land, a grant from some governor when Kentucky was being settled, so we were free to be ourselves, hidden away.”

“Why did you leave?”

He grimaced and glanced up at the sunlight peeking through the tree branches. Many trees were already losing their leaves. “Wasn’t by choice. The council demanded more tribute. More than we could sustain. So, we disbanded quickly, before they had a chance to claim a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the land. Every family took its cut and fled. My father moved us to Oklahoma. When Katrina hit, I was looking for work and saw that Vindlér was hiring more people to expand their operations during the cleanup. That’s how I got here,” he said, flashing her a toothy smile.

“Did you know Ethan was Other?”

He shook his head and smiled. “Not until he shook my hand and gave me a quick flash of his troll eyes.”

She nodded. “A human would have thought it was a trick of the light.”

“Ethan had a knack for finding those of us who were living outside of council control, even when we were doing our best to blend in.”

A sudden cool wind sifted through the trees, and Radha was glad of the three-quarter sleeved shirt she wore beneath the apron. The wind blew again, a little harder this time, and she felt something drift across her arm, like a fingertip, only she was standing away from Nikon.

Nikon frowned and lifted his nose, scenting the air. “Something’s wrong.”

“I feel it, too,” she said, her teeth beginning to chatter.

“Hope you can ride,” he muttered then tore off his shirt, kicked away his boots, and dragged down his jeans. Before she had a chance to think about the fact he wore no underwear, he shook his body and transformed.

She’d forgotten how large he was in his satyr’s skin. He reached out a hand, and she let him swing her up onto his long horse’s back. Then she scooted toward his torso and slipped her arms around him, holding tight.

Nikon made a sound like a loud whinny and charged down the darkening path toward Bonne Nuit.

They skirted the village, keeping to the trees so the humans wouldn’t see them. Unfortunately, they didn’t count on passing Gus Hearn, the local ferryman, who sat high in his deer stand in the woods.

When they were hidden again by brush, they heard cussing and a crash behind them, and then more cussing as he shouted to himself, or into a phone.

“They’ll think he drank a little too much of Ole Winnie’s hooch,” Nikon muttered, sounding not a bit out of breath although he galloped like a racehorse.

They passed the trail leading to the bed & breakfast, and Radha didn’t say a word, knowing he was likely heading straight for Vindlér, where there would be less chance a human might see them. She held on, her knees gripping his sides, her arms tucked under his, and her palms clutching his chest.

“I don’t feel it anymore,” she shouted. When the fear dissipated, another emotion rose, bringing with it some very confusing sensations—like the way her breasts tingled as they rocked against his back, and how the coarse hair on his horse’s body abraded her inner thighs.

“I don’t feel it anymore, either,” he said. “But I’m not taking the risk. I promised I’d protect you.”

His pace didn’t slow until they entered the clearing. To the left was the large oak, the witches’ sacred tree. To the right stood the building that was still partially under construction because they kept expanding.

Before they came to a halt in front of the steps leading into the building, men flowed from the sides of the building and through the front door.

Ali and Ethan raced toward them, Ali extending his arms to catch her when she unwound her arms from the satyr’s torso and dropped.

“Was there trouble?” Ethan barked out.

“We were walking to town,” Nikon said, his chest billowing. “The air grew suddenly cold, and both of us felt a presence.”

Ali hugged Radha against his chest. “You did right bringing her here.”

“Were you seen?” Ethan asked.

Nikon grimaced. “By Gus Hearn at his deer stand.”

“Then I think we’re safe,” Ethan drawled, aware of the ferryman’s penchant for booze. “Hit the locker room and get changed.”

Radha glanced to the side to see Nikon shake. A millisecond later, he stood nude in his human flesh and walked up the steps—after giving her a wink, because he’d caught her staring at him.

Ali tucked a finger under her chin, raising her face. “Did you enjoy your ride?” he asked, his dark eyes narrowing.

What’s coming next week! (Puzzle)
Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Busy Bee, here! You know, when I was in first grade, the summer reading program at the air base’s library was called the Busy Bees… Don’t know why that popped into my head. I was very competitive and read a ton of books. Think my favorite was about a Siamese cat named Ping…

Anyways, here’s a puzzle. It’s a huge hint about what’s coming your way next week! Love shapeshifters, witches, and things that go bump in the night? Yeah, this is a sexy one, y’all!

New Release! See what happens when witches join a battle of wits with a voodoo loa…
Friday, August 30th, 2019

If you’re a recent convert to my books, you might not know I write genres other than romantic suspense. One of my favorites to write is paranormal.

Today, I have a re-release of a book I wrote for Ellora’s Cave back in the day. I’ve done some revising, naturally. It’s a f/f romance, so it might not be your cup of tea. However, it is magickal, creepy, sexy—and set in New Orleans and in a voodoo purgatory. If you’re still not convinced you want to give it a try, it’s FREE for KU subscribers!

Plus, I have a new pre-order up! It’s the next story in the Beaux Rêve Coven series, which features my five witches living on a Louisiana bayou with so many demon beaus they’re tripping over them! Check it out below!

Enjoy the long weekend! ~DD

Mambo’s Door

Mambo's Door

A f/f paranormal novelette…

Ingrid Kassel is a fledgling witch, uncertain and not in complete control of her powers, especially after drinking a double-shot of vampire blood. Charged with retrieving an object buried with a daughter of the Voodoo Queen–she angers the spirit guarding the tomb and finds herself entering a shadowy limbo, where she meets beautiful Marie, living in fear of a demon who also desires the black magic candle infused with the powerful mambo’s blood.

In desperation, Marie tricks Ingrid, capturing her and seducing her to charge the candle for her own bid for freedom.

Get your copy here!

Excerpt from Mambo’s Door

A drunk on the sidewalk bumped past Ingrid Kassel.

Instinctively, she turned her head and issued a hiss, baring teeth. Not that she had fangs to back up the warning, but her temper simmered at a slow, angry boil, and her reactions weren’t entirely her own. A single taste of blood had ignited a hunger for more, it seemed, and the loss of control pissed her off.

If this was what it felt like to be a vampire, it was a damn good thing she was a witch.

Ever since Magda, the coven’s priestess, had given her Elena Csintalan’s blood to drink to lend her strength for her quest, Ingrid had fought to retain a sense of self.

The moment the viscous fluid had slid down her throat the ground had swayed, shifting under her feet. Magda had urged her to drink more, her vivid eyes glinting with excitement.

With a dizzy shake of her head, Ingrid’s sight had changed—shadowy corners resolving into stark relief. Her sense of smell had refined so that, now, she could still detect the sour odor of cheap whiskey emanating from the skin of the drunk even though he’d shuffled around the corner. A feeling of invulnerability, of superhero strength, burned through her blood, hardening her muscles. She felt ready to test her newfound but temporary powers on the first person who looked at her crosswise.

And that just wasn’t her. Or if it was, she’d been really good at being a quiet, dutiful girl for so long that she’d convinced herself she wasn’t a grumpy badass.
Ingrid checked her watch and cursed. She was late. She’d stopped by her one-room apartment to dress in a long-sleeved black tee, dark jeans, and running shoes. She’d clipped her golden-brown hair into a messy bun and stuck a black ball cap on her head to cover it.

All so she could blend into the darkness. As if she were dressing up for a second-story job. Like Tom Cruise ready to zip down a wire.

Then she’d decided to pick up some supplies. The trip to the convenience store had taken longer than it should have because every drunk in the city had been in line to buy hooch for the night.

A nervous energy pushed her faster. She had to retrieve the relic, charge it, and then return to her coven before the magickal energy from the relic dissipated, because, then, the spell wouldn’t work. Why she in particular had been chosen for this task was a mystery, but there was a lot she didn’t understand about the murky underworld she’d entered a year ago.

Most of the time, she simply banked her irritation with things she didn’t comprehend and saved her questions, reminding herself that she was still a fledgling witch and the others expected her to learn the craft in measured layers.

However, even without the vampire booster shot she’d drunk, she wasn’t a patient person. Even though Magda and the other women who mentored her constantly hovered when she played with magick, she’d practiced in secret, honing her skills. They didn’t have a clue what she could do.

Which made the fact Magda had assigned her this mission even more mystifying.

“Bring me the mambo’s candle,” Magda had said, hands cupping Ingrid’s face so that their gazes locked for a long, terrifying moment.

Staring into Magda’s dark eyes, Ingrid had relived the moment when the Blood Countess had swept into The Absinthe House and whisked away four women—three vampires and Cassia, her coven sister.

Then more pictures clicked through her mind like an old-fashioned movie reel, of more of her sisters chained inside a dark, dungeon-like room with their eyes glowing, faces lax, while the Hell Bitch, Elizabeth Bathory, painted her skin with the blood of another victim. Of Bourbon Street in chaos while Bathory’s army of vampires tore through the district on a bloody rampage.

Why Magda had decided to show her those visions was another mystery she might never fathom. However, it had impressed upon her the importance of her task. The fate of the city rested on her shoulders.

Ingrid shook off the chill that crept down her spine. St. Louis Cemetery Number One loomed just ahead. Time to get serious.

She slung the plastic grocery bag over one shoulder and ran along the whitewashed, brick wall to the iron gate, which she scurried up hand-over-hand before swinging over the top of the iron rail at the entrance to the graveyard.

Power still surging through her veins, she nearly laughed when she landed. She crouched and gave a quick glance behind her to see if anyone had noticed, but those walking along Basin Street this late at night hadn’t seen the blur of her figure running beside the wall, much less her creepy, spider-like feat.

Her heart thrummed strong inside her chest. Her body felt powerful, her breaths came steadily, even though she’d had to rush. For the first time, she envied vampires.

Until she smacked her lips and once again tasted the metallic flavor of the blood she’d choked down.

Dumping out the contents of the bag, she raked through it until she found the box of colored chalk. She opened the package, discarding all but the purple piece, then knelt on the sidewalk and drew a crude purple heart with curlicues extending from the bottom point, a triangle beneath it, and bars across the top, middle and bottom that ended in crosses. Then she tossed away the chalk, closed her eyes, envisioning her goal, and prayed to the loa of the cemetery.

“Ma’man Brigit, goddess of this cemetery, please guide me to Marie Laveau’s crypt.”

She opened her eyes, stuffed the things she still needed into the bag, and lunged to her feet, running straight ahead, not waiting for an answer because she was well acquainted with this particular divinity. Ma’man Brigit admired confidence in a woman. Even more, her pride would be stroked that she’d been asked, rather than her husband, Baron Samedi, loa of the dead. And Ma’man didn’t like humans fumbling around her realm. Something Ingrid had learned in her secret studies of Voodoo, or Vodou, as practitioners called it.

Moonlight filtered down, striking the long rows of pale, above-ground crypts, illuminating their whitewashed and marble exteriors, some more than others.

“Thank you, Goddess,” Ingrid whispered as she dashed toward the brightest row. She turned, and one mottled, stucco crypt sat awash in moonlight, tall candles huddled against its base, coins sparkling on the ground, glittery Mardi Gras beads draped on sharp edges—all left by worshipers seeking advice or a special wish.

X marks marred the three-panel marble front of the crypt, a groundskeeper’s bane for sure, but she was about to add more. She knelt and dumped her sack atop the Glapion family marker—the supposed resting place of Marie Laveau and her daughters—picked up a candle scented with dragon’s blood, lit it and placed it in front of the door. Then she selected a red marker and drew three X’s on the crypt.

“Beautiful Madame Laveau, please open your door. I seek a talisman, one you entrusted to your daughter, Marie. Please grant my wish.”

She waited. Nothing happened. Sighing, she tried to think of something more “witchy”—and didn’t everything sound more magickal in Latin?

Lanua aperta!

Again, she paused. Then, irritated because nothing was happening, she leaned over the jumbled mess of coins, beads and candles and shoved at one of the stone panels. “Dammit, I asked nicely.”

A throaty chuckle sounded behind her. Ingrid scrambled around, still on her knees, to behold the full-bodied figure of a woman dressed in long robes, her shape nearly transparent but glowing, shimmering at the edges like the aurora borealis.

“Your curse ensures the mambo’s privacy, gal.”

Ingrid felt the voice rather than heard it, as though it emanated from inside her head instead of from the wispy lips of the apparition.

“Ma’man Brigit?” Ingrid asked. Although the loa had answered prayers before, this was the first time she’d seen her.

The woman nodded then drew closer, bending so her face was inches from Ingrid’s. “Hmmm… The night creature’s blood is mo’ hindrance here than help, I think, li’l witch. It makes you proud.”

Ingrid swallowed an instinctive bitchy vampire retort, then offered, “I need your help, Ma’man.”

“So direct. So rude.” The loa tsked. “This be my realm you entered, my help you be seekin’. What you bring fo’ me?”

New on Pre-order!

Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon
Beaux Rêve Coven, Book 4
Coming October 22nd!

In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.

Five witches… Too many demons to count…

Radha’s sister witches become concerned when her health begins to fail. Her sleep is never restful, but they are unable to pinpoint what is wrong. Khan, a jinn who’s been tasked to serve as her guardian, has watched her restless sleep and believes he knows the answer. Her dreams are haunted by a Mare set on draining life from the witch who imbues the fabrics she weaves with magick.

As much as ancient jinn Khan loathes the idea, he seeks an old enemy, a Vanir, whose magic allows him to enter Radha’s nightmares to slay the Mare, an enemy bent on taking advantage Radha’s vulnerability to make her his own.

Pre-order your copy here!