Friday, March 27, 2015

A Review of Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks by Jeanne Kelley and Sarah Tenaglia

My Review

Excellent recipes and ideas for fun party drinks.

My absolute favorite- Vampire Brew! This non-alcholic fun punch is perfect for Halloween or any party that has a spoooky vibe. I hope to make it for my daughter's upcoming Sweet 16 which has a Nightmare before Christmas Theme. I think the punch would be a good fit.

I also love the Peppermint Stick Ice Cream Punch and the Mixed Berry Lemonade- perfect punches with no alcohol. The kids will adore them.

Now for the punches with punch- the alchohol ones, my favorite include the Aztec Chocolate (of course you can ditch the tequila for a winter treat the entire family will enjoy), the Boozy Eggnog, Irish Coffee, and Hubby's fave Tropicoloda Punch.

This book is going on my recipe shelf for keeps.


Punch Bowls and Pitcher Drinks

Stir up delicious fit-for-a-crowd cocktails.

Find inspiration in fresh fruit, smoky spices, and potent spirits, and mix a bowl or pitcher of punch for any occasion or season. Whether it's a drink served in champagne flutes at a holiday party or in Mason jars and paper cups in the backyard, you'll take cocktail hour to a whole new level with every one of these drinks:

• CLASSIC COCKTAILS, such as Pimm’s Punch

• SANGRIAS AND CHAMPAGNE-BASED PUNCHES, such as Meyer Lemon Drop Champagne Punch

• TROPICAL DRINKS, such as Kumquat-Tangerine Smash

• HEIGHT OF SUMMER, such as Watermelon-Tequila Punch

• FIRESIDE COCKTAILS, such as Aztec Chocolate Punch

• NONALCOHOLIC PUNCHES, such as Mixed Berry Lemonade

Available at Amazon


"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Guest Blog and $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway with Abigail Owen


Geek, And Proud!

I never wanted to admit it at the time, but growing up I was one of the geeks. I was definitely into geeky things. I played the flute in the marching band. Star Wars was my favorite movie (and yes I read all the books). I always had my nose in a book and a pen to paper. An introvert, I was uncomfortable at parties. And I was very much a goody-goody.

My geeky ways didn’t stop in high school. I believe one of my first college roommates even told me I was weird. Now…this girl had never seen Star Wars. I am part of the generation that grew up on those movies, so in my estimation she was the weird one. However, at the time her comment made me feel like the outsider.

Now, blah-blah-blah years later (no I’m not sharing how many), I’ve come to fly my geeky flag with pride. I don’t think any one thing has changed to get me to that point. Part of my pride is that I’m older and don’t give a flying pig what others think anymore. Part is that I’ve realized my enjoyment of something isn’t remotely dependent on someone else understanding that enjoyment. Part is finding that, as you get older, being a geek becomes a good thing and you find other geeks who share similar enjoyment. It’s like we all come out of hiding. Although that might be because my day job is with Intel and my night job is writing. Loads of geeks to be found in both those occupations!

So, for fun, here’s what I geek out about: Star Wars, reading romance, Game of Thrones, reading paranormal romance, The Walking Dead, spreadsheets, House of Cards, checklists/to do lists, The Black List, swing dancing, Supernatural, classic movies (I mean really classic – not 1990), Buffy & Angel, a well-organized space, Pacific Rim, anything involving superheroes, good documentation, writing books, discussing books & movies, reading about and studying history, high tea, Estes Park Colorado, anything Disney, birds of prey, dragons, shifters, vamps, fairies... I could keep going, but that that’s enough to give you a good idea.

See anything you have in common with me? Join me in owning your geekdom! I’d love to hear what you geek out about!



Andromeda’s Fall
Shadowcat Nation
Book 1
Abigail Owen

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Date of Publication: 12/10/14

ISBN: 978-1-62830-661-3
ASIN: B00PM6T2YW

Number of pages: 258
Word Count: 61,300

Cover Artist: Debbie Taylor

Book Description:

Andromeda Reynolds is being hunted. After witnessing her mother’s violent death at the hands of a pack of wolf shifters, Andie has devoted her life to protecting her community of cougar shifters from a similar fate. But now, a greater threat lies within her own dare, and she must run. If she stays, Kyle Carstairs will force their mating, seeking the added political power their union would provide.

Andie would rather chew off her own foot than end up with Kyle. Though, knowing him, she won’t live long either way. Andie’s only hope of survival is to mate Jaxon Keller, the Alpha of the Keller Dare with which she is seeking asylum. But before she can get to him, Andie must first go through A.J., one of the Alpha’s Protectors.

What Andie doesn’t realize is that A.J. has secrets of his own. All Andie knows is that the incredibly frustrating shifter insists on challenging her story, her skills, her trust… and her heart.


Series Pinterest Board:

Available at  The Wild Rose Press  

Amazon   BN   Apple   Kobo

Excerpt:

He glanced down at her. “You really are a tiny thing, aren’t you?”
Andie scowled. “Don’t let my size fool you. I can pack a wallop when I want to. Even with a broken arm.”
A.J. laughed. “I’m sure you can.”
Andie stared straight ahead, her mouth thinning. She hated being patronized. Men were so dense sometimes. They never took her seriously until she showed them exactly why they should.
Keeping her left arm protected, Andie suddenly dropped. One leg shot out and she spun low to the ground, sweeping A.J.’s feet out from under him. As he landed on his back, she was on top of him, her knee on his windpipe—not crushing, just sending a message.
Before she could gloat too much, though, she was flying through the air. Andie tucked into a back flip, landed on her feet, and then spun and launched herself backwards in a one-handed back handspring. A.J. had just gotten on his feet when her legs wrapped around his neck. She used her momentum to drop him back to the floor.
Andie rolled and ended up in a crouch close by. A.J. held up his hands in surrender. “All right, wildcat. You’ve proved yourself.”
Andie glared at him. “Don’t doubt me. And don’t insult my intelligence by pretending you just lost either,” she said in a severe voice, made harsher, perhaps, by the fact that she’d just realized exactly how incredible his blue eyes were. They were a vibrant color made even more interesting by the black ring that rimmed the irises. And she was more than irritated with herself for having noticed that at all.
He levered himself up off the floor. “Fair enough.”
The only thing that kept her from proving her point more—because she could tell he’d held back—was the small amount of respect she could see in his eyes. With a brusque nod, she followed him down the hall.


About the Author:

Award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance author, Abigail Owen was born in Greeley, Colorado, and raised in Austin, Texas. She now resides in Northern California with her husband and two adorable children who are the center of her universe.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. A fourth generation graduate of Texas A&M University, she attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it.

Website/Blog: http://abigailowen.com/



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Guest Blog The Creator’s Eye: Mover of Fate, Part I by R.N. Feldman




Thanks for having me at Fang-Tastic! 

Rather than yapp away about my book like on any other blog, let’s get weird― paranormally weird!  This is a paranormal book blog, is it not?  Not to say that my series, The Creator’s Eye, doesn’t have plenty of other-wordly stuff going on in it.  Chracaters include different alien beings who have evolved all kinds of strange abilities, such as the lighbringers who can have multiple bodies at the same time.  There are the Movers who can manipulate matter with the force of their will.  And all sorts of Folds, that bend time and space to create wondrous anomalies.  But today, I want to talk about real life paranormal activity― something that actually happened to me.

When I was a teenager, I had a ghost follow me around for about a year and a half.  I had gone to a summer camp on an isolated cove on Catalina Island.  The counselors there told us all sorts of ghost stories, but most of them sounding like trying to tell a scary campfire tale.  It was the handful of people who lived there year round who shared the good stuff―  the stories that were so specific that they actually sounded real.  The janitor told me he spent the winter months cleaning children’s handprints off the bathroom mirrors over and over again, even when there were no kids staying at the cove.  One of the cooks described the ghost of a Native American man who sometimes stood at his window.  The kayaking instructor told me about the ghost of a little girl that appeared in his bedroom and tugged at his toes.  Interestingly, I had a friend who became a counselor there many years later and stayed in the same room as that instructor.  They never met each other, but he told me the exact same story about the little girl.  This camp had a long history.  It was supposedly a native village, a military training ground, a boy’s school, and a dude ranch.  A lot can happen over such a time period.  Still, it all sounds absurd coming from someone else’s lips. 

One night, I was lying in my top bunk trying to fall asleep.  It was about 11:30 at night and everyone else in my dorm was asleep.  I just lay awake, frustrated, staring across the room.  All of a sudden, I had a creepy sensation that someone was standing inches in front of me, staring right into my eyes.  Unnerved, I rolled over to face the wall.  But then I heard someone grab a hold of the wooden ladder and climb up my bunk.  It creaked with each step, and then someone sat down on the side of my bed.  The mattress actually sank down under palpable weight.  I tried the best I could not to freak out.  I got up, hopped out of bed, trying to avoid touching the presence as best I could, and went to the bathroom.  I hung out in there for about twenty minutes until I convinced myself that I had imagined the whole thing, then went back to bed and fell asleep. 

Nothing happened to me again that summer, or the next one.  It was the Fall after that, a year and several months later, that I was lying in bed in my own home.  It was 11:30 at night.  I was unable to fall asleep again and staring out across my room, when suddenly, I felt someone standing at my door, watching me.  Creeped out again, I rolled over to face my wall and ignore it, but in an instant, the presence warped across the room and stood next to my bed.  I could feel it there, icy and cold, just staring at me.  Then it lay down on the bed beside me and tried to cozy up next to me.   Child protective services, anyone?  I shuddered, got up, wandered around the house for a while until I calmed down enough to go back to bed, and went to sleep.

The next morning over breakfast, I told my mom what happened.  I didn’t expect her to believe me, but she looked very concerned.  She had me speak to a friend of hers who was interested in all things psychic and other-wordly.  That friend told me that a ghost is someone who for some reason could not move on to the afterlife.  They had some fear, anger, or other issue that ties them to the material world.   She explained that I needed to treat the specter like an actual person who was invading my privacy and demand that it leave me alone, and once I did so, I needed to believe that it was gone.  It was my belief that allowed it to appear.  I found that odd, because I was pretty skeptical about ghosts until this point and was still somewhat doubtful even when one was sitting right next to me.

Over the next few weeks, her suggestion that the ghost was someone who could not “move on” seemed to be on the mark.  The spirit appeared to me the same way every time.  I would be lying in bed, it would appear at the door, warp across the room, sit down in bed and try to get close to me.  I would say to it in my head to “Go away!  You’re invading my space!” (I was very polite, considering the situation), but every week or two it would reappear and become more real.  I got the sense that it was a very sad person who was seeking comfort, or some sort of human contact. 

Finally, I actually saw her.  She appeared as a woman in her early thirties with long, straight, black hair.  She looked Native American, but wore a long, pale cotton night gown.  She was transparent, glowing a greenish blue, and sat on the edge of my bed looking downcast. 

I wasn’t scared at this point, just annoyed.  I was tired of being kept awake at night.  Up until this point, every time she had appeared I mentally exclaimed for her to go away, but this time I said aloud, firmly, “Leave me alone!  You need to move on!  It’s not okay for you to be here!”  I waited a moment, expecting her to look at me, but she didn’t move her head at all.  Still sitting down, still staring at her lap with a downcast expression, she floated off my bed and slowly rose through my ceiling. 

After that I knew she was gone for good.

Many ghost stories still sound ludicrous to me, but I can also tell when people sound sincere and they believe in what they experienced.  I believe that many things are possible even if science does not yet have easy ways to explain them.  A lot of sci-fi ideas have predated actual scientific developments, and it is this realm of possibility that helps to keep me energized as a writer and a reader.  The Creator’s Eye was a great place for me to explore the edges of my imagination, where metaphysics bleeds over into quantum physics, evolution can take many strange and alien paths, and mental abilities can be taken to wondrous extremes.


-R.N. Feldman
The Creator’s Eye: Mover of Fate, Part I
The Creator’s Eye
Book I
R.N. Feldman

Genre: Science Fiction/ Fantasy

Date of Publication: November 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-1501083617
ASIN: B00O705KD6

Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 58,401

Cover Artist: R.N. Feldman and Caroline Miller

Book Description:

On a hidden archipelago, people known as Movers manipulate matter with their minds while strange Folds in space transform the landscape into wondrous and often deadly anomalies. 

When a young Mover named Michael Edwards discovers that he is descended from a long line of beings who can not only Move matter, but actually Create it, he finds himself at the center of a cosmic struggle for power. 

Manipulated by friends, family, and an ominous prophecy, he allies himself with a host of strange creatures and characters as he fights to become Mover of his own destiny.


Add it to your Goodreads Shelf

Available at Amazon


CHAPTER I DISCOVERY DAY

Michael took a deep breath as he watched another seizure wrack his mother’s body. It was a small one, but he dutifully laid her on the floor just in case it became violent. He stood nearby as she twisted and shivered. He had to remind himself not to interfere— to let the attack run its course. The seizures always caught him by surprise, but the procedure to deal with them had become almost banal— lay her on the floor, make sure she didn’t hit her head, then wait until it was  over.
After a few moments, she lay still and stared vacantly at the ceiling. Michael helped her sit up. He wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her to a chair at the dining table. Her wiry brown hair tickled his ear. It was the same color and curliness as his, but no amount of combing seemed to keep it in place anymore. He could barely recognize his own face in her sallow cheeks and sunken eyes. He looked more like his father anyway, with his golden skin, green eyes, and broad shoulders. His mother, meanwhile, had grown thin and frail, but when he lifted her up, her limp body felt as heavy as a sack of wet dough.
“Are you okay?” Michael asked as he arranged her in her chair. Her dull, dark eyes stared ahead blankly.
“Mom, do you want to eat?” he asked, although he didn’t actually expect a reply. It had been years since she had articulated a full sentence, but he didn’t like treating her like a vegetable. Once in a while she was lucid enough to grunt a response, but this time, she did not even move.
“I’m going to make dinner now,” Michael told her, tentatively leaving her, hoping she would not fall or have another seizure the moment he turned  away.
He went to the kitchen sink where he had only just finished washing   the vegetables when he had been interrupted by her collapse. He sliced the sweet, white ghost carrots— a summertime favorite of his town— into big chunks and put them in a pot with the other vegetables. He covered them with stock and turned up the heat on the stove. The pilot clicked a few times, but there was no whoosh of flames springing to life. Michael grumbled at the malfunctioning burner as he set the pot aside and lifted the  enameled stove lid. The firebox was out. The small carton of rocks that usually glowed red with potential heat were instead an ashen grey.
Michael had boiled some water for tea that morning, so he knew that they should be working. Usually when they died, they went out slowly, becoming weaker over the course of a few days, but these had just inexplicably lost their oomph. He wondered if he had accidentally spilled something on them. Regardless, he would have to light them, but he didn’t hunt for matches. Instead, he took it as a chance to practice his  Moving.
He set the kitchen timer for five minutes, rolled up his sleeves and pointed his finger at the small cluster of stones. He stared at them, or actually focused his eyes on an imaginary point beyond them. He would make them catch fire. According to the books his uncle Sefu gave him, he should not hope, need, want, or pray for the fire to manifest. He had to imagine it was already there. Anything less merely affirmed his lack of will. It was a small nuance, but made all the difference.



Michael focused his thoughts like a beam of sunlight, pushing all foggy doubt out of his mind that what he was doing was impossible. His mind wandered occasionally, but he kept bringing it back to its goal, to the reality that he required— that there was already fire in the firebox. His concentration reached a frenzied tension and his vision  blurred.
Unable to hold his thoughts anymore, Michael relaxed his stare. His vision re-focused and to his satisfied surprise, a small spray of sparks issued from his fingertip. It surrounded and warmed the firestones. Without stopping his Moving, he checked the kitchen timer. Two minutes had elapsed. It was not a personal record, but Michael acknowledged that there was at least merit in consistency.
The dull stones crackled, catching fire on their own. Michael ceased his Moving, lowered the stove top, and replaced the soup on the revived flame. While waiting for it to boil, he chopped garlic and parsley. Even though his mother was about as responsive as the firebox was a moment ago, he did his best to make her meals taste good. He hoped that a well-cared for meal was somehow healing or imperceptibly uplifting to her  spirit.
Michael added some herbs and salt, and when the vegetables had softened, he turned off the flame and crushed the whole concoction with a sturdy slotted spoon. It was kind of a shame to mash it up, but lengthy chewing was beyond his mother’s  ability.
“Here you go,” he said, serving her a bowl. “Eat it while it’s  hot.”
At first it seemed she hadn’t heard, but a ghost of awareness flitted across   her face. She dipped a spoon into the beige puree and after a slow moment, dragged it to her lips. Michael watched her mechanically eat for a while. He listened to the clumsy clink of the metal spoon against her teeth and the sloppy glug of her throat. Once he was sure that she was underway, he got up to wash the dishes and perhaps find a moment to pour himself a bowl. But before he took a step, he heard the rustling of packs at the front door. His father was home.
Michael hurriedly opened the door for him. His father was still rifling through his pocket for his keys. “Ah, thanks!” his dad, Simon, smiled through crow’s feet and a thick salt and pepper beard.
Michael took his father’s bags.
His dad stepped into their living room, shutting the door behind him. “So?” he asked as he peeled off his coat and slung it over the sofa. “Is your mom  okay?”
Michael described her recent seizure and added with measured assurance, “I think she’s fine now.”
“Was that the only one?” his dad asked, but did not sound particularly concerned. “No, she had a series of them a couple hours after you left. She’s been  mostly
absent since then. I had to stay around the house the past couple of days keeping an eye on her.”
His dad nodded aloofly and patted his belly, which along with a slope to his shoulders, had grown more pronounced since his wife took ill. He strode over to the stove and ladled himself a bowl of soup. “Is this all there is?” he asked  disappointedly.
“Um,” Michael began, a little frustrated by his father’s dissatisfaction, “I think there’s some phoenix in the ice box from last night,” he  suggested.
Phoenixes were a fiery-colored, long-plumed fowl commonly raised in the region, but lacked any of the powers of resurrection borne by their mythological  namesake.
Michael’s father wrinkled his nose at the prospect of cold bird and glumly muttered, “I’ll stick with the soup.”



Michael tried not to make a face and instead asked how his trip  was. “Interesting,” Simon began as he took a seat at the far side of the table away  from
his wife. “This was an exciting one.”
Michael’s father worked as an assessor for the government’s environmental insurance agency. Arimbol, the island chain on which they lived, was full of unexplained natural phenomena colloquially called folds. They were places where nature and physics would bend. Most folds were so subtle that unless you were paying close attention you could pass through them without notice, but others were beautiful, miraculous  places.
Michael had heard of some where water flowed uphill, optics went awry, or wind burst from the ground with the force of a hurricane. There were also folds that were quite dangerous, that could make you sick, crazy, or even kill you. Most folds were relatively small though, only affecting an area the size of his living room, while the largest engulfed the entire Arimbolean archipelago.
Michael had never had the chance to travel, so loved to hear stories whenever his dad returned from one of his many trips. He had seen more of Arimbol than anyone else in their village, so knew a great deal about its flora and fauna, most of which existed nowhere else on Earth. Some were widespread across the islands and were even farmed. Besides the phoenix and summer ghost carrots, their town of New Canaan was particularly famous for the blue wine squeezed from coastal cobalt grapes grown on the surrounding hillsides. East of Canaan, towards Alexandria, was miles of black  wheat.
While the hills around Canaan were called the Blue Mountains, that area was sometimes referred to as the Burnt Plains.
Some plants and animals were less widespread. They were so specifically adapted that they might inhabit a single pool of water. His father had told him about the white thorn fish that clung to the slippery rocks of a single stream north of Urgench, or the roaks, the giant birds that nested on the tallest peaks of the Morningstar Buttes. Michael’s father told him that they were so large that they could easily carry off hesats—  the shaggy, one-horned buffalos that grazed on the southern  grasslands.
Michael was anxious for his father’s story. He sat down with him, keeping an eye on his mother to make sure she was still eating. “So what did you see?” he  urged.
“Well, a few days ago, a farmer in Skarra claimed that a long chasm had  opened in the ground and green fire just shot out of it, destroying a huge swath of his crops. But when I arrived, the fields were burned, but there was no sign of a fold. For all I knew the farmer had lit the fields on fire himself while burning leaves. But upon closer inspection, there was a series of cracks running down the center of his land. It looked like the ground had unzipped like a pair of trousers.” He gave a sharp snort then slurped back a spoonful of the thick stew. “Hmm, needs salt,” he said, reaching for the shaker across the table before going on. “I told the farmer, ‘Look, I can fill a report out, but there’s nothing indicating that a fold did this. For all I know, you just got drunk and did something foolish.’”
“The guy looked offended and exclaimed, ‘It’s happened more than once! Just stick around tonight and you’ll see!’” Michael’s father sighed. “I didn’t particularly want to stay there any longer than I had to, but he seemed sure of his tale. Plus, in my job, I’ve seen stranger things than fire shooting out of the ground, so I agreed to spend the evening there. He and his wife were hospitable and offered me dinner, but I couldn’t take it, of course. Regulations, you know. I fortunately had the sandwich you packed for  me.”



Michael nodded, glad his cooking had been of some use.
“I waited there until midnight, but nothing happened, so I got up to leave. The farmer begged me to stay just a little bit longer, but I was tired from the trip and   wanted  to go back to the inn. Just as we stepped out onto his front porch, I noticed a green glow coming from the field. We stood there watching as the ground began to hiss and jets of green fire streamed from the earth. It followed the jagged slit I had seen earlier, but it cracked wider. The crops around it caught fire, and the line jutted quickly across the field. It ran straight for their house.”
“What did you do?” Michael asked, leaning in.
“We were dumbfounded at first. I mean, we just sat there with our jaws hanging open like a thirsty hesat. It was probably only a couple of seconds, but the fire moved quickly. I got my wits about me and yelled at the farmer and his wife to get inside and go out the back.”
Folds rarely appeared in places people had inhabited for a long time. Usually his father was called in to examine some place that people had wandered into while traveling. It was his job to categorize and map them, and to file claims for people if they were injured or lost property, but this was unusual that he had to rescue people  himself.
“I ran out into the field and the damn farmer followed me. There was an irrigation ditch running nearby. I quickly Moved the ground with blasts of energy until I carved a trench running to the fissure. The water flowed through it and made the flames die  down a little, but the ground was still cracking and burning and running for the house. So, the farmer and I built up a huge mound of dirt to bury the rift.”
“For a moment, it seemed like we stopped it, but then it just shot straight through the mound. A few seconds later, the farmer’s entire house was gone— just burned to ashes. The fold finally stopped just short of the tree line at the end of their  property.”
“Was his family okay?”
“No one got hurt, but it’s a hell of a mess for the agency. We don't know if  the land will be safe to live on, or even their neighbor's land for that matter. I’m going to have to go back with a crew and run a bunch of tests on it. For now, the farmer and his neighbors are staying with friends, but we're going to have to find somewhere permanent for them. It’s going to cost the crown a lot of money.”
“What a mess!” Michael added.
“But we'll solve it,” His dad said confidently as he got up to drop his bowl into the sink. “I’ll probably have to go back there next week. Are you okay with watching your mom again so soon?”
“Sure,” said Michael, his willingness buoyed by his father’s heroism. “But I was wondering if you could do me a favor tonight? My friends have been back from college for the past few days and I haven't had a chance to see them, plus tonight are the Discovery Day fireworks.”
Michael’s father sighed and rubbed his temples. Michael could feel the refusal coming on.
“It’s been a long couple of days, son. I could really use a night to  relax…”
“But I haven’t seen them in almost a year!” Michael implored. It had been a while since he had used such an insistent tone with his father, but his friends were back for summer from the Moving Academy in Alexandria and he was dying to catch up with them.


His dad grimaced, “Alright, just come back in time to help me get your mom upstairs.”
Michael was elated. He thanked his father and set about finishing his chores so he could hurry to see them.



About the Author:

Mover of Fate is the first novel in The Creator’s Eye series by author and artist R.N. Feldman.  Feldman lives and works in Los Angeles, CA where he teaches at Otis College of Art and Design and spends as much time hiking through the local mountains as he can.  Art, metaphysics, useless scientific trivia, and extensive backpacking treks throughout the world have all been major influences in his work. 

Follow him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thecreatorseye

You can also see his latest paintings on www.RoniFeldmanFineArt.com   



Twitter: @RNFeldman





Guest Blog and Giveaway: Shadowed Horizons by Shyla Wolff





character traits - Kyley

Hi. My name is Shyla. I’m the author of Shadowed Horizons and Shadowed Origins in the Anath series. After many years as a nurse, and a prior life in military police, I’ve accumulated much information from different aspects of the topic that became part of my series.

 Through life’s experiences, a recurring situation has plagued my thoughts and sometimes defeated my best efforts to help. Though there are those that would choose to ignore this sometimes self-perpetuating problem, child abuse in not only fairly common but at times, difficult to manage.

Kyley, one of my characters in the Anath series, is a survivor. One thing that helped her is the fact that even though she was a lifelong prisoner up until her escape, her abuse didn’t begin until puberty. Therefore, she had an opportunity to form her baseline personality/character in a less harsh environment than what her teenage years turned out to be.

In our society however, this is not generally the case. 45% of abused children are under the age of five.

Sometimes, all it takes for a child to see and gain insight is one person, someone who is kind, compassionate, caring. This role model may only be in their life for only a short time, but long enough to make a lasting impression.

In my Anath series, daily tutors kept a running dialogue with Kyley about what was normal. Even though she questioned the validity of their lives, she was at least exposed to the idea of what life could be. Through desperation, inspiration, and a twist of fate, she found not only her freedom, but someone to teach her about normal life.

In the Anath series, fiction follows fact. Kyley’s introduction into her new life was tremendously aided by three shepherds. Today, many counselors use animal-assisted therapy to address issues such as grieving and loss, improve expression of feelings, reduce anxiety, improve ability to trust and much more.

In the medical field (as in many others), we are required by law to report suspected child maltreatment. This cannot be emphasized enough. I repeat, suspected abuse, not confirmed abuse.

In the throw-away world we now occupy, I still believe it’s possible to perpetuate humanity’s better qualities. If this sometimes means spotlighting the filth in order to excise and eliminate, so be it.

The next time you’re in a shopping mall, grocery store or your child’s classroom, look around. There’s a child in need of help. He/she won’t ask for it. They will even deny and lie about their bruises. It’s what they’ve been programmed to do. Don’t wait and try to investigate. Most people are not equipped to do so. Report it, anonymously, online, whatever. That’s better than letting a child suffer. Step up, be the adult, help them.

One in ten children will suffer some type of abuse. One in sixteen will suffer sexual abuse. In a society that supposedly treasures their children, I find this reprehensible. Even though most victims aren’t fatalities – their maltreatment has long-reaching affects.

 Not only do we need to better protect our youth, we need to help the survivors break the cycle. Some learn to do so without help. I’m no expert but am ever thankful for their courage and insight. Surely they must have a guardian angel on their shoulder.

Statistics verify that families with substantiated child abuse and who also own pets show that animals were abused in 88 percent of these homes. (DeViney, Dickert, & Lockwood, 1983). Another study showed that in women seeking shelter, 71 percent had pets that their partner threatened, hurt or killed. 32 percent of these mothers reported that their children had hurt or killed their pets (Ascione, 1998). There are as many signals and signs of abuse as there are types.

Today, in many communities, human services, animal services and law enforcement agencies are sharing resources and working together to address this issue.

Animal assisted therapy groups serve in an incredible variety of venues and circumstances including but not limited to hospitals, nursing homes, mental and physical therapy, schools, disaster areas, even some states’ attorney’s offices where children’s depositions are recorded.

Many studies substantiate the beneficial emotional and physical effects of therapy dogs. Few will deny this. However, we must first identify those in need, then see them connected with those that can help.

There is so much information out there on these topics and a lot of agencies volunteering to help. I could write all day and not scratch the surface. However, I think the point is made—help those in need.




Shadowed Horizons
Anath 
Book 1
Shyla Wolff

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Extasy Books
Date of Publication: 12-15-14

ISBN: 978-1-4874-0162-7
ASIN:  B00RC7QOIQ

Number of pages: 275
Word Count: 72,000

Cover Artist: Latrisha Waters

Book Description:

Love should never be a choice between family and the man who’s claimed your heart.  

A warrior’s life is the only one Kiera’s known since her psychic brethren adopted her from the streets as a child. Though she possesses equal preternatural ability and fighting skills, they will always see her as their youngest and in need of protection.

According to their leader’s psychic vision, her twofold destiny includes saving a computer prodigy’s life and a mate who pulls her from death’s clutches. Carlin, an electronics genius, develops software/hardware which could destroy any government. Without malicious intent, he seeks to prove possibilities beyond his current reality. Bored with the aspects of his social life, he yearns for a family.

When Kiera saves Carlin from the clutches of a psychic terrorist who stalks him for his program and skills, neither is prepared for the immediate connection formed. From the first skirmish, both their lives are caught up in a maelstrom of danger and desire. Kiera struggles to keep Carlin and his work from the terrorist who wants to destroy the U.S. while resisting the extraordinary attraction between them.

Can Carlin convince her they were meant for each other and survive her warrior brethren? 

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Available at Amazon



Excerpt:
Carlin strode beside his bodyguard through the dimly lit parking garage fidgeting with his keys. “Adam, this does not make it to my top five favorite places to visit.”
A rat skittered across the floor in the shadows, and he imagined it turning a gimlet-eyed stare on its intruders. Filth, gas, and pizza from a nearby restaurant thickened the air, reminiscent of the alley apartment he occupied during college. Small pools of dingy light challenged macabre shadows for dominance—and lost. Clashing of the bleak rays and murky silhouettes added an ominous, prophetic feeling he couldn’t shake. Water stains mingled with the shadows to create fleeting two dimensional monsters. Carlin was not a fan of Rorschach. Crap, I haven’t been spooked like this in years.
Adam shrugged. “Sir, as your bodyguard, I admit this isn’t my idea of a secure location either, but it is the closest enclosed parking available to meet with your client. The open street leaves you too vulnerable. As much as you cherish your privacy, I’m surprised you agreed to help at all.”
“He’s a college buddy, needed help with a simple, high-tech security task. Seems twenty-first century technology left him in the dust.”
“Next time, why don’t you at least suggest meeting during the daytime?” Adam’s narrowed eyes and tilted head as if listening to a far-off sound—usually spelled trouble.
“Next time, remind me a proctologist’s exam would be more enjoyable, okay?” Sweat beaded his forehead despite the cool December breeze drifting over the graffiti-covered knee wall.
“Yeah, I’m feeling it too. Let’s get the hell out of here.”
Carlin’s skidding on a badly patched piece of concrete prompted his bodyguard to scan the area around them. Dirt and crumbles skittered, their audio report echoed off the walls.
"Watch your step, sir, we don’t need to broadcast our location." Adam murmured as he reached out to steady him.
“You know…” Carlin muttered, “Folks generally think of me as a good analytical and concrete thinker. Perhaps whatever higher power gifted me with intuitive abilities for logistics and computers decided on a mental tariff—common sense.”
"My sixth sense says trouble’s GPS has already locked on. Stay close.”
The gentle slide of Adam’s gun from its shoulder rig compelled Carlin to suck in the cool night air, searing his lungs.
“Sir, instincts are the best survival tool we have. They’re rarely wrong. Better safe than sorry.”
Sharp chirps split the silence, Carlin’s cell threw his heart rate into overdrive. Hair on his nape prickled as he fumbled in his pocket. With an all-thumbs equivalent, he extracted the nuisance and hit ignore.
Massive pillars supported the five-story concrete structure. Rounding one to his left, his foot stalled mid-step when Adam snatched him sideways. The colossal thug he almost plowed into blended into the shadows.
“Jesus!" The man personified hulkish features with abject malice in his gaze. The split-second observation brought Carlin a rush of adrenaline. "You're huge!" Brown hair pulled back in a ponytail swept his shoulder giving the look of a mob enforcer. A bulge of pitted, tanned skin separated a straight line of bushy eyebrows. Dark eyes appeared to hold a terrible knowledge and gave his hard stare a cold calculating look.
The brute’s gaze raked Carlin's body head to toe. Chipped yellow teeth appeared as his thin lips pulled back in a wide grin. "Time to meet your maker, prodigy." He mimicked Carlin's sidestep in a lightning-fast move and knocked Adam's gun from his right hand. Its ricocheting underneath a nearby Toyota produced multiple tin-like clinks.
Time seemed to fracture. Adam's left arm shoved Carlin to the side. His assailant took wily advantage in that flash of time. He watched his bodyguard go down hard from his attacker's leg sweep.
One blink and a dagger appeared in the thug's hand. Its arc and swift speed toward his belly made it little more than a glimmer in the weak light. His neurons couldn't fire fast enough to follow its passage. Two feet stood between Carlin and a trip to his maker, complements of this walking nightmare.
   
About the Author:

Life teaches us many lessons. One of the most important ones Shyla’s learned is to take the time to enjoy family and friends. Our circumstances change on a daily basis. However small the differences may seem, they add up over time. Through a lifetime of various trials and tribulations, she’s discovered the enjoyment of sharing her stories with those that would relish participating in the journey of extraordinary people through their everyday lives.






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When Cultures Clash: Why I love Writing Historical Fiction - Guest Blog and Giveaway with Jena Baxter





My name is Jena Baxter and my newest novel, The Carriage,  is set in Victorian, London. My first novel, Reflections, began in the Regency Era. I had already written a couple of fantasy in motion stories, but while doing research on Hans Christian Anderson’s Little Matchgirl, I found some interesting things to ponder.

Burial customs were pretty out there. The dying person takes their last breath and the first thing the servant or family does is stop the clock. Then they covered the mirrors and windows so the deceased couldn’t get trapped in them on their way out, and then placed a black wreath on the door so the world would know they were mourning.

I have a vivid imagination so all I could see was some poor soul banging on the back of the mirror yelling, ‘Let me out. I took a wrong turn. This isn’t funny Uncle.’ I know its poor humor but my brain works that way. Don’t even get me started on the hired mourners following the funeral procession to the graveyard. My mind went wild with that one.

I love humor and my favorite emotion is laughter in sadness. Check out the end of Steel Magnolias if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. Sally Field does an awesome job in that movie. Be sure and get out a box of tissues first, but I’m digressing. After letting my mind go wild with the spirit stuck in the mirror, Reflections was born, and while it does have its humorous moments, the setting is very different.

Fast forward to my newest novel, The Carriage. I was planning a trip we never took to New York, and thinking about taking a carriage ride through Central Park. While I don’t know much about the carriages, they have been there an incredibly long time. I saw a historical photo and that was all it took for my mind to flip to the Victorian Era. I was supposed to be working on a YA/NA contemporary romance based in New York.

Alexis came into existence, and I made her face the unfriendly truths of the era. You should see her face when a servant calls Ezra, the Master. Are you laughing yet? Well, she gives him a run for his money because Alexis won’t be calling any man, Master. Ezra is a shipyard owner and a man on the cutting edge of the age. He doesn’t understand Alexis, but she brings laughter and joy to his dark, broken heart.

I’ve often said, I love cultures whether it’s a bygone era, or something I create myself, which is something you’ll see in my next story. But using modern women, and a young man as well in Reflections, shows the contrast by allowing us to see what the culture was like a little closer.

Alexis found she couldn’t battle the era she was trapped in, she had to conform to it because it wasn’t going to conform to her. Brayden in Reflections found the same, even though he never lived in any age but his own.


Culture is steeped in our DNA, and while we can change opinions and emotions over time, it will always be a part of who we are.


The Carriage
Jena Baxter

Genre: YA, Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Jena Baxter Books

Date of Publication: February 16th, 15

ISBN: 978-0-9911677-2-2
ASIN: B00TOQNODQ

Number of pages: 214
Word Count: 52,313

Cover Artist: Consuelo Parra
Model: Amber Ornelas

Book Description:

A teenage girl enters a carriage in Central Park and disembarks in Victorian, England.

Cursed by her sister Brooke, Alexis Powell arrives in the Victorian Era where she meets Ezra, who was recently murdered by an assassin his brother Amos hired. Now a supernatural creature, Ezra sees into Alexis’ mind with a touch and Intrigued by her memories, offers his help only to be rebuffed for his kindness. Alexis runs away, but Ezra is unable to shake off what he saw. He follows her through the streets of London.

Vulnerable after the death of his Father, his brother’s harassment, and Alexis’ many rejections, Ezra decides to stop following her.  Alexis is unable to find work or food. Facing starvation, she steals a tomato and Ezra finds her facing the local magistrate and an angry mob. He pays for her freedom.

Finally accepting the help Ezra offers, Alexis moves into the manor he shares with his brother. Romance blossoms but the bond between Ezra and Amos is worse than Alexis’ relationship with Brooke.

While Ezra and Alexis search for a way to send her home, Amos looks for a way to kill them.


Available at Amazon

Excerpt:
Somehow I was certain I was no longer in New York. The streets were cobblestone, and the buildings wood and brick. A lot of them were broken down, old and shabby. The alleys were filthy and smelled like shit. Exhausted, I looked for a place to hide but didn’t know where to go. When I couldn’t move another muscle, I hid behind a wooden staircase with my back against the wall and fought not to jump at every sound.
 I hadn’t meant to fall asleep, and didn’t know how long I’d slept, but it looked close to mid-morning when I opened my eyes and looked around.
The women walking by were wearing long, full dresses, and big feathered hats. The men’s pants were more form fitting, not the jeans they usually wear. Some of the children running around were barefoot and downright filthy, looking as if they had been rolling in mud or playing with charcoal. I cringed when I saw a boy carrying a rat by the tail. Everything was straight out of a Dickens novel. I wouldn’t have been surprised to see little Dorrit, or Ebenezer Scrooge waltz by any minute now. I rubbed my nose with the palm of my hand. What the hell was I going to do?
 This obviously wasn’t real, so I must have fallen in with a role playing community of some sort. My mother and father used to play dungeons and dragons. Maybe this was the same thing, but in the extreme.
Something slammed into my back. I screamed and turned at the sound of a woman yelling at me. The broom in her hand whooshed down again, just missing my face.
“Whoa. Hey, stop!”
What was wrong with these people? I couldn’t understand a word she said, so I ran. She chased me, swinging the broom until I left the alley.

I stopped to catch my breath, smoothed my clothes, and approached a woman in a long brown dress with a white bonnet and black boots. She stared at me like I was some sort of freak. Uh ... she was the freak, not me. Maybe the men would be friendlier, but not one of them would stop. Then I saw the man that crashed into me yesterday across the road. He looked a little different, wearing a brown suit, and an odd piece of material similar to a scarf around his neck, with a top hat. He was actually still attractive in the weird clothes. Dodging carts and vendors, I made a bee-line for him. At least he wouldn’t chase me with a broom.

About the Author:

Jena Baxter has always loved history and time travel. She liked to read, and often wrote poetry as a stress inhibitor while growing up. But like other writers, she dreamed of writing a novel. So she enrolled at the UCLA Writer's Extension, to gain the confidence and skill to move forward.

Today Jena has a YA Fantasy novel, as well as a YA Paranormal Romance novel online and in print.







http://www.amazon.com/Jena-Baxter/e/B00M4YF352

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