Wednesday Writers–Shadow in the Dark by Antony Barone Kolenc

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is award-winning author Antony Barone Kolenc. Antony will be sharing an excerpt from the first book in his inspirational historical fiction trilogy The Harwood Mysteries Trilogy,  Shadow in the Dark. He’ll also give us a peek into the history behind the series. Welcome, Antony!

My award-winning inspirational historical fiction series, The Harwood Mysteries, tells the ongoing story of Alexander (“Xan”), a peasant boy in twelfth-century England who—along with his friends, Lucy and Christina—must solve spooky mysteries and go on adventures even as historical events unfold around them. Shadow in the Dark (Book 1) was released in July 2020; The Haunted Cathedral (Book 2) was released in February 2021; and The Fire of Eden (Book 3) was released in July 2021. In this blog post, I give a behind-the-story glimpse at the history behind the novels.

Shadow in the Dark takes place at a fictional Benedictine monastery set in Yorkshire, England, in 1184 A.D. The novel begins as bandits attack Xan’s manor, and he winds up at Harwood Abbey being cared for by the “black monks”—named because of the black robes that the Benedictines wore. The novel explores the historical manorial/feudal system in place during this medieval period, which students learn about in their middle-grade social studies curriculum. Seen through the eyes of a boy who is a “serf”—essentially an indentured servant to the lord of the manor where his family lives—the reader gets an in-depth view of how aristocratic landlords met their obligations to King Henry II by having peasants work their land and pay for the right to live in the village by paying rents of crops and livestock. The book also provides extensive insight into the role of the monasteries and monks in preserving, not only the texts of the Sacred Scriptures, but also the great classic works of Western Civilization. Some of the few literate persons in the middle ages, monks spent their time praying seven times a day and copying these great works of literature.

In The Haunted Cathedral, the action moves to Lincoln, England, in 1185 A.D. The setting of the novel mostly involves the two great historical landmarks of Lincolnshire: Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral. The history of both structures is explored as Xan, Lucy, and Christina investigate whether the ghost of a little girl haunts the cathedral. In particular, the amazing true story of Lincoln Cathedral is revealed, along with the many tragedies and mysteries that occurred within the church through the ages. The climax of the book tracks a major historical event that takes place within Lincoln Cathedral itself during Holy Week in April 1185, with the main characters experiencing one of the most incredible events ever to take place in Lincoln (which reveals the solution to the ghost mystery, too!).

In The Fire of Eden, also set in 1185, Xan and Lucy spend much of the book at a smaller abbey that is suffering under the type of corruption that was too rampant in the Benedictine order at that time. Indeed, in the century leading up to the novel, there were major reforms going on in monastic life, with new orders and reformers attempting to weed out some of the corruption that had rotted away at the beauties of monastic life up to that time. In the process, readers are introduced to some of the history behind the First and Second Crusades, which took place in 1095 and 1147. The novels build upon the ongoing period of Christian influence in the Holy Land and are leading up to major events in the Third Crusade, already unfolding as the protagonists journey through their teenage years.

The series is both entertaining and educational, and has won seven book awards. I hope you enjoy it!

Shadow in the Dark, Book 1 of The Harwood Mysteries Trilogy

By Antony Barone Kolenc

A peasant boy who lost his memory during an attack by bandits must save a Benedictine abbey in medieval England by solving the mystery of a shadowy figure that walks the abbey’s grounds at night.

Excerpt: 

Xan cracked open the door. Brother Oscar was nowhere in sight, but snores spilled out from his nearby cell. He slid past the monk’s door and down the steps.

Outside, the mist was getting thicker. His breath rose like wispy fog in the faint moonlight. Even with his shoes on, his feet in the wet grass felt as if they’d been frozen in a block of ice.

This couldn’t possibly turn out well. If the Shadow were one of the monks, he might get in trouble, perhaps even a paddling. If the Shadow were an intruder, he might get attacked. And if it were the angel of death—still a possibility—he might lose his life. After all, two times the Shadow had been seen, and both times someone had died.

All right, God, this may have been a bad idea. Can You help me out of this?

His heart was beating almost loud enough for him to hear it. Yet, in the library beneath that painting, Brother Andrew had told him not to fear death.

“Get your senses about you,” he said aloud, forcing himself to move through the mist.

He took cover at the corner of the hedge—the last place he’d seen the Shadow. Even though the wind was cutting like icicles, sweat clung to the inside of his tunic.

Just then, a branch cracked. A figure moved from the other end of the hedge, but it was not creeping near the trail to Lord Godfrey’s estate. It was heading up the hill toward the abbey!

This was the closest he’d ever been to the shadowy figure but, in all this mist, he could barely make out more detail than from the window.

It was dressed in a robe of dark, woolen material, the same as the monks wore. Its cowl hung so low over its head that it was impossible to tell from this distance if there was even a face beneath the hood.

The angel of death in his nightmare had reached with bony, skeletal hands. This figure didn’t seem to have any hands at all, unless they were tucked inside its robe.

Yet an object was at its side, so it must have had a hand of some sort to grasp with. Its body was blocking the object, but it appeared to be long and narrow, round and thin—a staff or reed of some kind, like the one he had seen on Brother Leo’s bed that day he’d first met the monk.

Xan’s paralyzed legs wouldn’t move to follow it. John was right: he must be a dotie fool to do this. What if this were that bandit, Rummy? The young boys might find his dead body crumpled in a heap on the meadow in the morning. Then they’d have nightmares for all their days.

Except if he went back without discovering the truth, they’d have nightmares anyway.

The hooded figure reached the top of the grassy hill—limping slightly, as though in pain—and headed into the granges.

There was no use debating anymore. Xan couldn’t go back to the dorm now without completing his mission. A crowd of young boys probably were pressed around the window slits, watching his every move. They were counting on him.

Want to read more of this seven-time-award-winning series? You can check them out on Amazon:

Shadow in the DarkThe Haunted Cathedral:    The Fire of Eden   

Or at https://www.theharwoodmysteries.com/

The Haunted Cathedral

An orphaned boy, forced to journey with the bandit who murdered his family, hopes to communicate with his dead parents by capturing the ghost of a little girl rumored to haunt a cathedral in medieval England.

The Fire of Eden

When a priceless ruby, known as Eden’s Fire, is stolen from a monk on the eve of his ordination, a peasant boy in medieval England races against time and a dark magician to catch the thief.

About the Author:

Antony Barone Kolenc (“Tony”) is the author of the youth historical fiction series, The Harwood Mysteries, which has won seven book awards. He is also the host of “The Shepherd’s Pie,” radio show and podcast, which focuses on issues that impact young people today. He is an author of fiction and non-fiction books and articles, and a columnist for Practical Homeschooling Magazine. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps after 21 years of military service. He currently teaches law and speaks at writing, legal, and homeschool events. Tony and his family live in Jacksonville, Florida, and are the proud parents of five children and three grandchildren.

Connect with Antony on his social media sites : Website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

 

Musings from a Writer’s Brain—Reality or Make-believe? by Amy R Anguish

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Reality or Make-believe?

My t-shirt reads, “Careful or I’ll put you in my novel.” It usually gets a laugh. I have a mug that says something similar. Maybe if I wrote suspense, it would be intimidating even. But I write romance.

Still, every now and then, I have to be careful to make sure my characters aren’t too much like someone I know in real life. After all, if I base one on someone I love and they feel I did it wrong, that could lead to awkward family dinners in the future. Right?

Needless to say, when I set out to write my latest novel, based on what “could have been” my life if I’d made different choices, I knew my character also needed to be a preacher’s daughter. I wanted her history to be a lot like mine. But what to do about her dad.

My dad is my biggest fan. He’s the one I can talk to for over an hour and never run out of things to say. Growing up, if I needed to vent or talk through something, his office was where I went. I’m a daddy’s girl through-and-through, probably why I don’t mind that my daughter is one, too. I get it.

But to make my preacher dad character in my book just like my dad wasn’t going to completely work. Because my character Adrian is estranged from God … and her dad. And her dad isn’t sure how to talk to her without making things worse.

My dad still has a full head of silvery-white hair. It’s gorgeous, honestly. And a beard and mustache—he’s had the mustache as long as I can remember. In my book, the dad is balding and clean-shaven. There’s a few things to differentiate the dads.

But then, some similarities snuck in even without my meaning them to. His office with a rather untidy desk full of papers and books, shelves loaded down with research volumes. His tendency to walk over to the small church building just down the block on a Saturday evening so he can adjust the temperature to be comfortable on Sunday morning. The way he rises super early on Sunday so he can study over his lesson again and make sure he remembers everything he wants to say. Those are all my dad.

Maybe it’s harder than I thought to keep my characters from having at least a few characteristics of people I love in real life. I’m sure the heroes all have a bit of my husband in them. Because how can I write someone to fall in love with without basing it on someone I love? And I know the heroines all have some of me. It would be impossible to not give them at least a little of my sense of humor or favorites things (like snickerdoodles and old movies).

Perhaps I worry too much about how much reality creeps into my books. Maybe instead, I should simply write what is put on my heart and let my readers guess about what is based on real life and what is simply made up.

Do you ever wonder how much an author includes from her own life in her stories?

Check out Amy’s newest release No Place Like Home

No Place Like Home

by Amy R Anguish

Can love secure Adrian’s wandering heart?

Roots are overrated, at least to someone like Adrian Stewart, preacher’s kid, who has never lived anywhere longer than six years. That’s why her job with MidUSLogIn is so perfect for her—lots of travel and staying nowhere long enough to have it feel like home. But when work takes her to Memphis, TN, closer to her family for the first time in years, and in the same small office as Grayson Roberts, she starts to question her job, her lack of home, and even her memories of her rocky past with the church.

Gray is intrigued by Adrian from the moment he sees her, and he’s determined to get to the bottom of why this girl who loves old movies and hums when she works won’t go to church with him. As they grow closer, he wants more, too, but how can he convince her to stay in Memphis when she doesn’t believe in home—or God? Can he use his own broken past to break through hers?

You can find No Place Like Home at Amazon

About the Author:

Amy R Anguish

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Follow her at http://abitofanguish.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor

 Or https://twitter.com/amy_r_anguish

Learn more about her books at https://www.pinterest.com/msguish/my-books/ And check out the YouTube channel she does with two other authors, Once Upon a Page (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiu-jq-KE-VMIjbtmGLbJA

Wednesday Writers—When Love Trusts by Judythe Morgan

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest is Judythe Morgan who is sharing an excerpt from her book When Love Trusts, Book 4 in the Fitzpatrick Family Series. Welcome, Judythe!

Last minute shopping like me? Readers on your list might like When Love Trusts. Josh and Mara are characters with grit and determination facing their real-life challenges with faith and conviction.

It’s book 4 in The Fitzpatrick Family Series: Eight Preacher Kids Each with a Sweet Love Story of their own. A heartwarming story of love, redemption, and second chances and perfect gift or personal read in this season when we celebrate the birth of our redemption.

PS: Each story in the series is a standalone novel with family members making cameo appearances in all.

PSS: Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

When Love Trusts

By Judythe Morgan

Growing up together in a small Texas town, Josh Fitzpatrick and Mara Burke always had each other’s backs, right up until Mara dated—then dumped—his best friend. A relationship built on love and trust… until it wasn’t.

Now, an Army sniper home on medical leave, Josh’s wounds go deeper than the shrapnel dug from his thigh. Nightmares torment him. No one knows he’s responsible for a senseless tragedy and the death of his fellow soldiers. While his body recovers, he wrestles with guilt and waits for news of possible disciplinary action.

Mara’s a single mom and administrator at a home for boys, still hiding the terrible secret that created the ten-year chasm between them.

When the boy’s home needs volunteers after a fire, Josh steps in. The sparks from their youth soon ignite a new passion, but will sharing their secrets be enough to overcome the pain and hurt that lies between them?

EXCERPT:

Nick, Sara’s groom, gave Josh the thumbs up. “Loved the victory sign. Now you have to put both those garters on Mara’s leg.”

Josh frowned. “You’re joking.”

“Wedding tradition,” the twins said in unison.

Ethan grasped his shoulder. “Don’t even attempt to protest. Believe me, Nick and I have objected more than once about something and failed.”

Nick winked. “Oh, and there will be pictures.”

The girls nodded with impish smiles. Sammy chuckled. “Get ready, bro. Faith’s bringing Mara this way.”

Josh’s skin prickled. He rubbed his forehead. Too many people, too much noise, and way too much of Mara Burke. The pain and his memories made for an unsettling knot in his gut.

Mara stopped in front of him. The expression on her face said she was no more thrilled than he was. His cheeks screamed from the forced smile. “Looks like we’re the winners today.”

~~

Mara accepted his extended hand. “I’m not sure winner is the correct word, but I know your sisters too well. Whether we want to or not, we’re doing this.”

Her years working at VA hospitals had fine-tuned her observation skills. Vets rarely shared what they felt. Body cues told more than words anyway. Josh’s temple veins pulsed a punishing beat and the way he kept rubbing his forehead announced he fought an oncoming migraine. She could only hope it wasn’t the start of a full-blown PTSD attack.

She slid into the wingback chair, raised her skirt to her knee, and then lifted her leg high.

Josh balanced against the chair’s arm and slid first one garter and then the other up her calf. The touch of his fingers sent funny little tingles up her leg.

 “Hold that pose.” The photographer fiddled with his camera, aiming this way and that, clicking away. “One more just in case. This time with the brides and grooms.” 

Mara watched Josh’s lips press together. His face flushed. He needed to sit and take the pressure off his wounded leg. Stubborn man, he was too embarrassed to say so.

“How about if I stand, this time?” she asked the photographer.

At the approving nod, she rose beside Josh, slid her arm around his waist, and raised her skirt to display the garters.

Josh’s ramrod-straight body vibrated as he cupped her to his shoulder, steadying himself.

“Too formal, stiff looking,” Becca complained. “Why doesn’t Josh sit with Mara on his lap?”

The look Josh shot his sister should have flattened her. Mara couldn’t argue with his aim.

“Sounds like a great idea to me,” the photographer agreed.

“Me, too.” Sarah moved behind the chair and patted the back.

“Come on, guys. Let’s get this over. I want to get to my honeymoon sometime today.” Ethan’s voice carried a touch of frustration.

Nodding, Nick guided Josh into the chair gingerly. Josh looked like he’d just been handed a death sentence.

Mara perched cautiously on his good leg, crossed hers, then raised the hem of her skirt to display the two blue garters. The feel of his muscular thigh beneath her hips brought an awareness she didn’t want. She braced her hand on the chair arm to take her weight off his leg.

He covered her hand with his. “It’s okay.”

Embarrassed, she nodded, still feeling the pressure of his hand on hers.

“Everyone smile. Josh. Mara. Look happy.” The photographer raised his camera. “Good one. Done.”

Mara hopped off Josh’s knee as though she’d been sitting on a bee. Even so, a lingering buzz worked its way through her body.

He stared for several uncomfortable seconds, an odd expression on his face. He’d been as affected as she had.

“That will probably be the best picture of the lot.” Faith broke the trance. “Now it’s birdseed time.”

“Think I’ll pass.” Josh pushed from the chair, leaned on his cane. “What about you, you going to throw bird food?”

Mara crinkled her nose and gave a shiver. “No, absolutely not. Birdseed gets in places it doesn’t belong.” She lifted her hem pointed to the garters. “Thanks for the souvenirs. If you change your mind about helping at the boys’ home, give me a call.”

He frowned.

“Think about it. You’re a preacher’s kid who became an Army Ranger. That’s hero stuff. The boys will love your stories.” One boy in particular.

Blackness coated his eyes. “I don’t think so.”

She’d seen that darkness in combat weary vets before. It spoke volumes.

You can find When Love Trusts at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Judythe Morgan was an Army brat then Army wife. She’s traveled a lot of this world. She’s been a teacher, an antiques dealer, former mayor’s wife, and sometimes-church pianist. Her diverse experiences have made her life exciting, her main characters vivid, and her stories authentic and award-winning.

Sign up for her free newsletter at www.judythemorgan.com to keep up with her latest news and subscriber-only sneak peaks. Besides fiction, she writes a weekly blog at www.judythewriter.com 

Friend her on Facebook and Goodreads

Follow her on Twitter

Wednesday Writers–Defending David by Barbara M. Britton

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today’s guest author is Barbara M. Britton showcasing her newest book, Defending David, now available for preorder. Barbara will be telling us a bit about the book’s background and she has an sneak peek excerpt of the book. Welcome, Barbara!

King David’s Forgotten Friend

King David is a popular Bible figure. Most Christians know the story about how he slayed a giant named Goliath with only a sling and a few smooth stones. People remember David dancing in the streets with the Ark to the disgust of his wife or falling into sin with Bathsheba. David had family troubles, too—sexual assault and murder were committed by his sons.

Later in his life, King David wasn’t a brash military commander slaying tens of thousands. What type of king was he? One in which his son Absalom believed would forfeit the throne or be killed trying to save it. Absalom rebelled against his father without fear of failure.

But David was still a man after God’s own heart. God did not abandon David. God sent the unlikeliest of friends to David’s doorstep the day before Absalom’s rebellion. Who was this friend? A Philistine giant from Gath—the same place where Goliath was from. This giant Philistine aligned with King David. Did I mention this Philistine arrived with six-hundred Philistine warriors? Most Christians do not know about this faithful friend to King David.

His name is Ittai the Gittite.

Here is what Ittai says to David outside the city walls:

“As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.” II Samuel 15:21

Ittai and his warriors go with King David. They follow David when he flees Jerusalem to spare his own life and the lives of his wives and children. Later in Scripture, King David awards Ittai for his faithfulness. (Sorry, no spoilers).

Ittai has been overlooked in Scripture for too long. Recently, I read a book on David’s life and Ittai wasn’t even mentioned. Fear not, Ittai gets his day in the sun on February 25, 2022.

Bringing little-known Bible characters to light is my author tagline and in February the spotlight will be on Ittai the Gittite in “Defending David.”

My theme verse for “Defending David” is Proverbs 18:24:

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Ittai was a friend who stuck closer than a brother to King David.

Remember in this Christmas season that we have the best friend and Savior in Jesus Christ.

Defending David

by Barbara M. Britton

When a quiet journey to Jerusalem turns tragic, newly orphaned Rimona must flee a kinsman set on selling her as a slave. Racing into the rocky hills outside of Hebron, Rimona is rescued by a rugged Philistine commander journeying to Jerusalem with six-hundred warriors. Can Rimona trust this giant foreigner, or will she be betrayed once again?

Exiled commander, Ittai the Gittite, is seeking refuge in the City of David. Protecting a frantic Hebrew woman is not in his leadership plan. Though having a nobleman’s niece in his caravan might prove useful for finding shelter in a foreign land.

As Rimona and Ittai journey to Jerusalem, an attraction grows between the two orphans looking for a new home. The unlikely pair arrives in Jerusalem on the eve of a revolt against King David. Will the chaos separate them forever, or can a bold woman and a Philistine exile defend an aging king who has slain tens of thousands, but cannot control a rebellious son?

You can pre-order Defending David in eBook or print on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books. Your library can order it, too.

Excerpt, when Ittai and Rimona meet:

Crouching near a tower of rocks and a spindly sapling, Ittai unsheathed his blade. He breathed in cool air untainted with kicked-up camel dust. His eyes overcame the darkness to rest on a form breeching the top of the hill.

Sandal slaps. Wheezing. One fool had made it to the crest. Hamuran would cut off the others.

Nearer and nearer the climber came. Ittai swallowed. The sour taste of bile pulled his jaw tight.

Lord, give me victory.

The man stumbled over a rock and whimpered.

Ittai lunged.

He grabbed the stranger and pulled the thin frame taut to his chest. His knife rested against the flesh of the prowler’s neck.

“Stay silent, or I will send your head thumping to the dirt.”

His captive turned to stone. Trembling stone.

A swell of breast rose and fell beneath Ittai’s arm. No stench of sweat or body odor offended his nose. This quivering climber smelled of scented soap even after a trek up a hill. An abundance of soft curls tickled his chin.

He’d caught a woman.

About the Author:

Barbara M. Britton writes romantic adventures for teens and adults. She is multi-published in Biblical Fiction with Pelican Book Group and also writes Historical Fiction. Barbara is a Carol Award Finalist in the short novel category. She holds a nutrition degree from Baylor University but enjoys dipping healthy strawberries in chocolate.

You can find out more about Barbara’s books on her website, www.barbarambritton.com, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or BookBub.

Wednesday Writers–An interview with Lady Fallon from Susan Hanniford Crowley’s YA Fantasy Lady Fallon’s Dragons

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers! Today’s guest author is Susan Hanniford Crowley with an interview with Lady Aleasya Fallon, the heroine of her into Young Adult sweet contemporary fantasy romance, Lady Fallon’s Dragons. Susan has also included an excerpt from the book, so keep reading to the end. Welcome, Susan and Lady Fallon!

Interviewer: Thank you for allowing this interview, Lady Fallon.

Lady Fallon: You’re welcome and please, just ask the questions in your heart.

Interviewer: When did you first learn about dragons?

Lady Fallon: I always dreamt of dragons. My parents gave me toy dragons, and when I was older I collected dragon statues.

Interviewer: When I was a child, I would look up and see dragons in the clouds. Everyone said it was just my imagination. Was it?

Lady Fallon: You were likely seeing dragons. Imagination allows us to be open to a bigger world.

Interviewer: How did you become Lady Fallon?

Lady Fallon: I was found by a dragon, actually Trulo, who is sitting on my shoulder. (Trulo whistles a little tune and then settles down again.) I inherited my title and Skye Over Castle from my uncle Lord James Fallon.

Interviewer: What happened to Lord Fallon?

Lady Fallon: He was murdered.

Interviewer (flustered): Oh, my. (Trulo flies over and licks the interviewer on the cheek then goes back to Lady Fallon’s shoulder.)

Lady Fallon: Perhaps we can continue talking about dragons?

Interviewer: Yes, yes, of course. Did he just kiss me?

Lady Fallon: He did. Trulo’s a sensitive soul. He must like you. He doesn’t kiss everyone.

Interviewer (smiles): Thank you, Trulo. What kind of dragon is he?

Lady Fallon: Trulo is a Lyra dragon. The Lyras are currently the smallest known dragon in the world. They enjoy singing, whistling, dancing and before you ask, yes, they do breathe fire.

Interviewer: Are there many Lyras?

Lady Fallon: No, they are an endangered species. Skye Over Castle and lands are designated as an animal sanctuary. We are not open to the public. I sometimes grant special visits, but that is rare as our main focus is to keep these wonderful creatures alive.

Interviewer: Are there other kinds of dragons at Skye Over?

Lady Fallon: We are also the home for the Imperial Dragons, which are the largest known species of dragon in the world. When in flight, they are often mistaken for clouds.

Interviewer: All these dragons must keep you busy.

Lady Fallon (laughs): You have no idea.

Interviewer: I would be remiss if I didn’t ask about a certain Mr. Hampshire. Can you tell us about him?

(Trulo jumps up and squawks a burst of flame. The sprinklers rain on them as the alarm blares.)

Lady Fallon: I will, of course, pay for the damages. Sadly, Trulo and I are needed elsewhere now. Thank you.

Interviewer: That was Lady Fallon of Skye Over with one of her dragons, and she’s only eighteen.

A wondrous tale of contemporary dragons and a young woman fighting for her life!

Eighteen-year-old Aleasya gazed briefly at each person in this exclusive area of the plane. Carefully she put her carry-on in the overhead before taking refuge in her personal suite near the window.

Tears poured down her face in endless silent rivers. Not able to stand it another minute, Aleasya sat up and took her tablet out of her tote. She searched for New York City news. It wasn’t the first story but it was there, the footage of the car being pulled out of the water. The car door was pried open. For the briefest of seconds, she saw her father’s hand with the ring showing the Fallon crest.

They were supposed to meet for dinner. When the time came and went, she called. Every time the phone went to voicemail. It didn’t make sense, her father always picked up on her calls no matter how busy.

Now she knew he would never call her back. In her head, she heard his voice. “Run, Sya Bear, run.” She sobbed, shaking so much that it hurt.

Aleasya gave the dragon prayer ring on her right forefinger a spin. I need help. Danger is closing in on me.

EXCERPT

Alice took her over to a table where a dark blue cloth covered a birdcage. “This,” she said, “is a Lyra.”

With a sweep of her hand, she pulled off the cover revealing what seemed at first glance to be a small blue and gold bird.

Aleasya looked again. With her heart caught in her throat, she couldn’t breathe only gasp. She couldn’t believe her eyes, and couldn’t take her eyes off it. How could it be true? How could she believe? Looking right at the creature, how dare she not?

“Are you all right, my dear?” Alice asked.

Aleasya nodded and gave her ring a spin. The ring hummed. Remembering her father made her feel grounded.

“You’re wearing a dragon prayer ring!”

“Yes, it was a gift from my father. He got it on a trip to Tibet. It has two parts; the outer part spins.” Returning to the subject at hand, she asked,

“Is it really a dragon?”

“It is,” Alice answered. “Hush, it’s waking. You want to be polite now. After all, you’re just meeting.” The little animal stirred and stretched out its wings. These weren’t feathered golden wings but smooth and stretched like a bat. Tiny bright blue scales covered the body and head. Gold talons gripped the bars of the birdcage, and two golden eyes now fixed on her. The small creature hopped over to the closest bar. When Aleasya stepped closer for a better look, the dragon tilted its head.

The beauty and wonder of what only could be a dragon transfixed her. Here was the creature of her dreams. Everything she knew to be real said this couldn’t be happening. But her heart knew better, and Aleasya fell completely in love with this perfectly wonderful being. She couldn’t stop trembling with excitement.

The dragon trembled too.

“The Lyra is the smallest known dragon in the world,” Alice continued. “They are nearly extinct in the wild, found in only a few remote locations. The Lyra is famous for its song, which is said to give the listener pure ecstasy. This Lyra has not sung since arriving in my store. The legends say that when a bond is made between the Lyra and its human companion, the Lyra will love that person with great devotion all of its natural life. Although small, it is fierce in protecting its companion. The Lyra loves its human so much, that if it is rejected, it will die from a broken heart.”

A tiny but long forked tongue flicked through the cage bars and licked Aleasya’s hand. It was exactly like her dreams. Her gaze locked with the dragon’s, and something deep inside clicked. But she was afraid.

BUY LINKS

Lady Fallon’s Dragons are available at:
Amazon (Kindle and Paperback)
Nook
Kobo
Smashwords
Scribd
BAM (Paperback available through their online store)

About the Author:

Susan Hanniford Crowley has just expanded her work into Young Adult contemporary fantasy romance with Lady Fallon’s Dragons. This sweet romance is filled with adventure, action, intrigue, and lot of dragons. Coming soon: Her first Young Adult vampire adventure sweet romance – EverWarm.
Susan is a member of SFWA and RWA and specializes in vampires and rare supernaturals.
Her steamy paranormal adventure romance books include: When Love Survives, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, A Vampire for Christmas, Vampire in the Basement, Vampire King of New York, Vampire Princess of New York, and The Vampire with a Blanket of Stars. Her steamy steampunk romance is Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room. Her steamy mythology romance is Poseidon’s Catch.
When she’s not writing, she is an Associate Editor for Space and Time Magazine, which publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror.
Susan is married, has children, and grandchildren in addition to two cats. For hobbies, she collects seashells and dragons.
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Tasty Tuesdays–Say Cheese—CheeseCake! from Sharon Ledwith

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from Sharon Ledwith

Talk about a dessert that delivers, this divine cheesecake takes…well, takes the cake! Whether you’re hosting the party or on board to bring something tasty, this dressed up treat will make heads turn, and mouths water. Perfect for holiday gatherings or celebrations, with a total prep and bake time of 5 hours and 30 minutes (includes refrigeration), this cheesecake easily serves a crowd of sixteen of your closest cohorts.

Toblerone Caramel Cheesecake
1¼ cups Oreo Baking Crumbs
¼ cup butter, melted
3 packages (250 g/8.82 ounces each) brick cream cheese, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 eggs
⅓ cup caramel ice cream topping
1 bar (100 g/3.52 ounces) Toblerone Swiss Milk Chocolate, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Mix crumbs and butter in a small bowl. Press mixture onto bottom of 9-inch springform pan.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust.

Bake 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Run knife around rim of pan to loosen cake. Cool cake before removing rim. Refrigerate 4 hours.

Spread caramel topping over cheesecake just before serving. Garnish with chopped chocolate. Enjoy!

While you’re waiting for the cheesecake to set in the fridge, take some well-deserved ‘me time’ along with a peek at my latest time travel release.

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

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–The Thing About Pen Names by Sharon Ledwith

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From Sharon Ledwith

Who are you? No, I really want to know. For months I’ve been hanging with a great group of authors. Many of those authors have pen names—a.k.a. PSEUDONYMS. I still don’t know one particular author’s name that I’ve come to know well and count on for support and help. I find pen names funny. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the concept of a “secret identity.” The authors want to keep their private lives private. Their pen name is their business name. Yet, on Facebook, there’s a real photo of them next to their fake name. I find that hilarious—like unmasking Batman or taking off Clark Kent’s glasses.

Pen names intrigue me, so I did a little digging, and came up with these tidbits compliments of the Daily Writing Tips blog:

Authors throughout the centuries have used pen names. You’ve probably heard of the following authors:

  • George Orwell (real name Eric Arthur Blair)
  • George Eliot (real name Mary Ann Evans)
  • Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)

Authors use pen names for a wide variety of reasons. These include:

  • To remain anonymous (especially if producing a politically or religiously sensitive work)

This is perhaps less common today, but sometimes occurs if a very personal or sexually explicit work is written.

  • To change or conceal gender

In the 18th century, many female authors used male pen names in order to be taken seriously. George Eliot is the most famous example, though the Bronte sisters all wrote under pen names too.

This trend still continues in some genres today: for example, female fantasy or science fiction authors will often use a gender-neutral name (Robin Hobb) or use their initials (J.K. Rowling) as the genre has traditionally attracted more male readers and authors. A similar effect can be seen when male authors adopt a female pen name to write a chick lit or romance novel.

  • To write across multiple genres

Lewis Carroll also wrote mathematical textbooks under his real name (Charles Dodgson), so adopted a pen name for his children’s novels. Authors today who write in multiple genres will sometimes use a different name for each one, to avoid confusing readers.

  • To recover from poor sales or reputation

If an author’s real name has attracted criticism, it may be worth considering changing to a pen name. Sometimes, the first few novels by a new author don’t sell well in bookshops, leading publishers to reject future submissions. Therefore, changing to a pen name is often recommended in these circumstances.

So there you have it. If you are trying to build up a reputation in multiple genres, using a pen name (or several pen names) is probably a good idea. Even if your real name (or current pen name) has been slammed or attracted heavy criticism, switching to a new name could be a good way to go. However, adopting a pen name means building up your reputation again from scratch—a lot of work, but it may be well worth the time and effort to do so.

A final thought: if you’re using a pen name in an attempt to remain anonymous, be aware that people are often curious when they suspect a secret—you may well be “discovered” under that mask you worked so hard to create. In some cases, this can lead to great publicity, but if your publisher or fans suspects you of trying to conceal a less-than-stellar past, it may backfire.

To be you, or not to be you? What’s your choice? I’ve decided to stick with my real name.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series.

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected…

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads–Texas Heirloom Ornament Christmas Anthology

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Welcome to Wednesday Writers Christmas Reads!

Today’s feature, Texas Heirloom Ornament, is a Christmas anthology from authors Jessica White, Sara-Meg Seese and Paula Peckham that spans the early 1900s to early 21st century. You won’t want to miss this one. Welcome, ladies!

Enjoy three generations of Texas women finding love at Christmas.



In Small Things Liberty by Jessica White


A parking spot. An almost kiss. An ornament.
1923—The only thing war widow Hattie Freemont wants for Christmas is liberty for all. As president of the Fort Worth Women’s Club, she’s determined to see them exercise their new right to vote and oust the current representative. But his assistant keeps showing up at the most inconvenient times, challenging her convictions even though she has the statistics to back them up. First, Mr. Fancy Car tries to steal her parking spot, then her heart. Will he choose love and fight for freedom alongside her? And can she trust in true love twice in a lifetime?

In Large Things Unity by Sara-Meg Seese

A tree. An electric kiss. A radio proposal.
1972—Single mom Tricia Little inherited Grandma Hattie’s knack for numbers, but not her knack for love. With money tight and Christmas around the corner, she’s determined to prove to her boss and her next-door neighbor she can take care of herself and her daughter on her own. Radio DJ Mr. Wright can’t help but admire the hard-working woman and her spunky kid on the other side of the fence. When he offers to help them light up their Christmas with a tree, she pushes back. Can they work together to make the holidays brighter? Can he convince Ms. Independent that he’s Mr. Right?

In All Things Charity by Paula Peckham

A bell. A whirlwind kiss. A storm.
2015—High school teacher Alexis Baxter loves Christmas and her family traditions, like the handmade ornament passed down through five generations. But the final bell before the holiday break doesn’t release her from coaching duties. When the handsome basketball coach confesses he’s spending Christmas alone, she invites him to join her family for a fun-filled night. Joyful bells turn to warning sirens when his biggest regret walks into the party, casting a dark cloud over their budding romance. Is their love strong enough to withstand the truth? And can love truly cover a multitude of sins?

Want to read more? You can find Texas Heirloom Ornament on Amazon

Tasty Tuesdays– Cheese Ball Pumpkin from HL Carpenter

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From HL Carpenter

Pumpkin is such a beautiful fruit that should get more than just one month of notoriety. So smile, say cheese, and make your own yummy, and adorable, pumpkin-shaped appetizer for any holiday get-together. Here’s a great recipe just in time for Thanksgiving.

Cheese Ball Pumpkin

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese
4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar or pepper jack cheese
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. prepared mustard
½ tsp. onion powder
Paprika
The stem of a green bell pepper

Place all of the cheese in a large bowl and let soften to room temperature.

When cheese is soft, add Worcestershire and mustard. Blend with electric mixer or food processor on low speed. Scrape bowl and beat blended mixture on medium speed 1 or 2 minutes more until well mixed (do not over-beat).

Turn the mix onto plastic wrap. Pull the wrap up and secure with a twist tie. Shape the wrapped mixture into a ball. Score the pumpkin “ribs” onto the cheese ball with your fingertip or a flat knife.

With the plastic in place, set the cheese ball in a bowl and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle with paprika and add a bell pepper stem to top.

Keep refrigerated until the crowd arrives, then serve with assorted crackers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Once upon a time there was a mother/daughter author duo named Helen and Lorri, who wrote as HL Carpenter. The Carpenters worked from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, was unreal but not untrue. Then one day Lorri left her studio to explore the land of What-if, and like others who have lost a loved one the magical place lost much of its magic. But thanks to family, plus an amazing group of wordsmiths named Authors Moving Forward (AMF), the magic is slowly returning.

Helen Carpenter loves liking and sharing blog posts from other authors. She lives in Florida with her husband of many years and appreciates everyday, especially those without hurricanes.

Stay connected on her blog and Facebook .

Musings from a Writer’s Brain–Thanksgiving Memories from Emma Lane

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THANKSGIVING MEMORIES

from Emma Lane

Thanksgiving is family, food, and thankfulness. It’s when you have this homing urge to join your people over a huge roasted turkey. When you were ten you punched your cousin in the nose for some remark he made. When you were eighteen, you were bored and wishing to be somewhere else, but mom made you stay. When you were twenty-eight, you were setting up the children’s table. And so it goes right down to Grandpa who at 90 announced he didn’t need to watch his cholesterol any more and reached for the butter dish. (I loved it when he did that.)

Our turkey is carved in the kitchen, makes it easier for serving. But when the grandchildren were young, they always expected that rooster to make an appearance at Thanksgiving. It’s a tradition as such. They are grown-ups now, but they still search the china cabinet for the collection of salt ‘n pepper shakers, each person has his/her favorite set. Our dining room table is custom made wide at the bottom to seat two people comfortably. As a result, I have no matching pad. Straw oversized placemats do an admirable job of protecting the wood surface from the heated dishes. I use a table cloth, but still enjoy the colorful cloth placemats to echo the vibrant Fall colors. With the addition of fruit cups, water glasses, and matching candles, the table arrangement is complete, waiting only for the train of hot dishes and the blessing before the feast is begun.

Turkey for everyone! White for the kids and dark meat for my hubby and me. They have always been convenient preferences. We reserve baked ham for Christmas dinner. Lima beans (butter beans) for my son, green bean casserole for my daughter. Each person has a favorite. I love yellow squash while my hubby adores sweet potato soufflé. My daughter makes all the pies, usually pumpkin and apple. The grands like the fruit cups that are sometimes surrounded by red Jell-O and sometimes by whipped cream. Dressing?? We make a raison (Crasins substitute) and walnut type topped by a couple of baked chicken parts. The recipe changes almost every time. There is a fresh veggie plate with tomatoes, celery, carrots, and sliced zucchini for nibbling. Other dishes may be added each year.

Once I had an idea to bake a mid-sized (huge) Hubbard squash and stuff it with a mixture of squash, onion with a touch of maple syrup topped with scrambled southern style sausage. It was so tasty, but a bear to get to the table. I dropped it from the menu. What memories does your family love each Thanksgiving get together?

Happy Thankful Day to you and yours from my home to yours.

Emma

How about a glimpse into my new Cozy Mystery, MURDER AT THE LOOKOUT while you digest your feast?

When is it not fun to be a blond?

What happens when a blond beauty hits town like a tornado stirring up memories and causing turmoil? Detective Kevin Fowler and his wife, the former Beverly Hampton, owner of the local newspaper, are settling into blissful married life. Although Beverly is sanguine over the demand on Kevin’s time by the good people of Hubbard, she is more than dubious when his duties include the escort of a drop-dead gorgeous female from his past.

There is some concern over the persistent vandalism of residential mailboxes, but an infamous arsonist has decided peaceful but dull Hubbard would make a great place from which to operate. He brazenly locates down the block from the detective and his wife.

What bait and tackle shop in the village has a dual purpose? Kevin ponders why two goons have invaded town shooting at and attempting to kidnap and murder three women. A state patrolman, aptly nick named Rooster, teases Fowler at the riotous scene of a traffic accident where the press, not the police, wins the day.

Another mystery and adventure with a satisfying ending unfolds in peaceful Hubbard, New York, small-town Americana, where Detective Kevin Fowler keeps an ever-vigilant watch.

AMAZON BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.