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Thursday, October 18, 2018

New Release — NIGHT OF MAGIC by Stephanie Burkhart

Night of Magic…Samhain—Dark…Dangerous…Powerful…The year is 800 A.D. on the Emerald Isle, and Prince Jasper is determined to regain that which has been lost to him.

Five years past, Princess Aithne was taken from her father, Prince Jasper, by the forces of the Other World. On Samhain, the veil between the worlds is thin, and can be breeched more readily—especially if one walks amid the ceremonial bonfires.

When Princess Aithne disappears, her father vows every year to bring her back. He tempts many champions with a chest of gold, but only one man can succeed.

 This year, Finn is determined to lay claim to that treasure, but to do so, he must tempt Fate. Will he survive his journey to the Other World to bring the princess back? Will he dare follow his heart? Or will greed determine what lies in store for him on this NIGHT OF MAGIC?

EXCERPT

     "Darkness is coming."
     Finn Breifne sat on the bed polishing his sword. Glancing up at his friend, Kellis, he winked. "I know it is."
     Kellis walked to the window and drew back the drapes, gazing onto the open field. The sun dipped below the horizon casting deep orange, rust, and grey shadows over the land.
     Finn continued with his task. He was the finest fighter this side of the isle, and he wasn't prepared to shy away from the prince's challenge.
     Samhain marked the start of the darker half of the year. The people in this part of the country celebrated with a festival of the dead. Every night for a week there was drinking, whoring, and bonfires. Cows walked between roaring pyres of fire as part of a crazy cleansing ritual. The boundaries between this world and the dark, mystical world of spirits were considerably weaker on this eve, the high night of Samhain.
     Finn didn't believe in magic or gods. He was here for one thing – to collect the nobleman's daughter. Upon her safe return, the prince would give him a chest full of gold and silver. He'd grown up poor, and was sick of living from town to town scraping by as a sellsword. Now, he was going to do something for himself. Was he greedy? Some might think so, but Finn was tired of wandering and he wanted a better life. He wanted to find a wife, raise a family, and not worry about finding work to support them.
     Kellis turned away from the window. "The prince just arrived. They're goin’ to light the bonfire."
Finn stood. "Good." He sheathed his sword, forged out of the finest steel by one of the best blacksmiths in Dublin. He tightened the laces on his sheepskin boots and walked to the table before the mirror. Picking up his dagger, he tucked it into the holder on his belt.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Columbia, California’s Haunted Fallon House & Theater


Like many old towns that are not “ghost towns” because they are still in existence, Columbia State Park, a preserved California gold rush town in the western foothills of the Sierra-Nevada mountains has its share of ghosts. This post I am going to share a bit about the Fallon House and Fallon Theater


Remaining since the days of the California Gold Rush, the Fallon Hotel was built by an Irish stone cutter in 1859. Original owner, Owen Fallon expanded the hotel in 1863 by purchasing an adjoining building and later the Gunn Saloon. These three buildings became Fallon’s Hotel. Today, visions of the Gold Rush era are often seen in this historic building. Though smoking is not allowed, guests can often smell the odor, along with that of whiskey. A female apparition is often seen in Room 9, and in the theater lights seemingly turn on and off of their own accord and shadow images are often spotted.

Visitors and guests often comment on a strong odor of smoke in different parts of the hotel, although California does not allow smoking in any of its public buildings. Many feel it is reminder that during the course of its history, the building has burned down twice. Also, its owner, Mr. Fallon was known for smoking cigars. Guests also detect the smell of whiskey even though the saloon was replaced by an ice cream parlor long ago (a must-see place to stop by for a wonderful treat, by the way). During the remodeling, a phantom youth was often seen climbing through a back window. When the construction crew rushed inside, there never was anyone around.  They came to the conclusion it was a youthful spirit searching for a sweet treat.


Guests in Room #13 are often startled by a young woman wearing a Victorian gown who disappears as quickly as she appears. She moves from room to room. Also, a little boy has been seen in Room #3 and the second-floor hallway. He likes to play and takes other children’s toys and hides them. In Rooms #1 and #6, guests have seen shadowy apparitions. Strange noises and cold spots in the halls and guest rooms have lead visiting paranormal experts to conclude the building is definitely haunted.


The hotel and the Fallon Theater are the same building, so most guests don’t take much notice of the mustachioed gentlemen seen occasionally in the upstairs halls. They assume he is in costume and part of a play. The ghost of James Fallon has been seen roaming backstage and in the halls of his theater, usually wearing a top hat and a long coat surrounded by cigar smoke.

My one and only ghost story, Haunted by Love, is set across the Sierra-Nevada Mountains in Bridgeport, California. Known as the “White Lady,” she has been spotted many times in Room 16 of what was once the Leavitt House and is now the Bridgeport Inn. There is even a historical plaque bearing record of her. No one knows who she was, or any reason why she stays. However, I have my own theory, and it is included in my book.

To read the book description and find the purchase link for Haunted by Love, please CLICK HERE.



Sources:
Williams, Nancy K.; Haunted Hotels of the California Gold Country
http://fabulousfoods.com/articles/21946/true-ghost-stories-of-tuolumne-county-california

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Book review: Time Plains Drifter by Cheryl Pierson

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Blurb:

Trapped in Indian Territory in 1895 by a quirk of nature, high school teacher Jenni Dalton must find a way to get her seven students back to 2010. Handsome U.S. Marshal Rafe d'Angelico seems like the answer to her prayers: he is, after all, an Angel. In a race against time and evil, Rafe has one chance to save Jenni's life and her soul from the Dark One – but can their love survive? 4.5 Stars (Highest Rating) from Romantic Times Cheryl Pierson's fresh, well-crafted novel pits some unlikely heroes against evil incarnate. The characters are vibrant and tell a story of courage in difficult circumstances. An open thread invites a sequel. —Donna M. Brown Romantic Times

My Review:

Oh my goodness. What did I just read?!?! I wasn't prepared for what an amazingly twisted and intriguingly charming story Time Plains Drifter turned out to be! The combination of historical western and time travel, good vs evil, and adventure and romance had me captivated from the first page - which drops you right into the action and doesn't let up for a moment.

I don't recall reading a book that had this unique kind of world building in it - combining the supernatural with the natural and feeding you nuggets of truth for your soul along with emotional tidbits for your heart.

Rafe and Jenni blew me away with how powerful their connection to each other was, gifting the other with strength, acceptance, and love that they both so desperately craved. As much as this was Rafe and Jenni's story, it was also all about Cris and Rafe. Their brotherly love and devotion to each other, no matter the cost, hits you deep inside.

Throw in some surprising secondary characters in Beck, Cris, the kids - even Josiah - and the tangled webs continue to be weaved.

This book makes you think about how just one decision can ripple out and have untold consequences. How when it's all on the line, how much are you truly willing to risk to dream and protect and claim.

I'm hoping that someday we'll be able to see a sequel come out to tie up the couple of loose threads, but even without, the story of the d'Angelicos feels complete with enough foreshadowing to satisfy.

If you're looking for something to make you laugh, cry, cringe, cheer, swoon, and charm, you don't want to miss out on this deep and entertaining story. It's a perfect read whether you're young (older teen) or old, man or woman.

Purchase Link:
     




Thursday, October 11, 2018

New Release — A MURDER OF CROWS by Kristy McCaffrey (The Crow Series: Book 3)


Bounty hunter Kester “Kit” Boggs tracks and destroys the vilest of men, both from this world and the next. With a Scottish and Comanche lineage, his connection to the supernatural is tied directly to the crow. For too long, he’s been hunting El Viejo del Saco, a demon known as The Bag Man who feeds on the blood of children. A rumor leads Kit to the Mexican frontier, where he must find a man called Hamish Kerr. But with Hallowtide descending, Kit has lost his ability to hear spirits, and his only hope is a woman whose family is a sworn enemy to the Boggs’ clan.

Eliza McCulloch’s ancestors hail from Scotland, her clan carrying an ancient curse and a warning—a McCulloch may never bind herself to a Boggs. When Eliza learns that Hamish Kerr stole her family’s book of spells, the McCulloch Grimoire, nearly two decades ago, she sets out to reclaim it. Often called witch, she possesses a unique skill to open doorways to the Other Side. But when she finds herself beholden to a Boggs for protection, her abilities take an unexpected turn.

As Kit and Eliza unearth far more than a stolen book, they must work together if they are to survive. But with the past pushing into their future, can they resist the growing desire between them? Is it possible for a Boggs and a McCulloch to find lasting love together? Or will defeating the demon separate them forever?

EXCERPT
     She moved to the window and held the book up to the moonlight that offered slightly better illumination. The words were in Scottish Gaelic. Thanks to her mother and aunts, Eliza was well-versed in the language of her ancestors.

     A ‘nighean mar a mathair.
     Such mother, such daughter.
     Or, as Aunt Rose liked to say, Like mother, like daughter. It was an oft used phrase of Eliza’s upbringing.
     Exiting through the window, she clutched the book to her bosom and swiftly ran down an alleyway beside the building. Abruptly she halted, fear surging through her.
     A shadow shifted.
     She stood unmoving. Eliza couldn’t take her eyes from the form that slowly appeared.
     She blinked, not believing what she saw.
     A three-headed dog. And a large one at that, with its trio of fangs bared.
     Taking a step back, she prepared to flee but bumped into something. A man? It was the last thing she remembered.

Don’t miss all the books in The Crow Series:

Book 1: The Crow and the Coyote
Book 2: The Crow and the Bear
Book 3: A Murder of Crows


            

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

For Love of a Brystile Witch by Kaye Spencer – October #blogabookscene #westernromance #PrairieRosePubs #paranormalromance


Blog-a-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePubs.

Since October’s blog-a-book-scene theme is Autumn/Halloween, I’ll share a witchy excerpt from my novelette For Love of a Brystile Witch.


Blurb

Mercy Pontiere is the last ‘daughter’ in a long line of heredity witches. Two hundred years ago, Reid Corvane’s ancestor condemned the “Brystile witch” to hang. On the gallows, she placed a curse of short life and great suffering on the men of the Corvane line.

As the years passed, unintended consequences developed that impacted both families.
If Mercy overcomes two centuries of generational hatred to find love and forgiveness for Reid, and if he returns her love, the curse will be broken. Mercy thinks time is her ally; Reid’s time is running out.

Love must find them by midnight All Hallows’ Eve, or the Brystile witch will claim the life of another Corvane man. Reid has thirty-one days and counting…

Excerpt

A throng of onlookers filled the area around the hanging site. Even when standing on tiptoes behind the crowd, all Mercy could see was the gallows platform and upper steps, which wasn’t at all interesting to her. She wanted to see Reid Leighton, not watch him die.

The local citizens knew Mercy well enough to overlook the eccentricities of the Harmony Spring women, so when she hiked her calico skirts above her knees, shinnied up a tree near the scaffold, and perched herself at the juncture of trunk and horizontal branch, few even noticed.
“Here he comes!”

The crowd hushed. As if the on-lookers were a many-headed, gigantic bird, they craned their necks to see over the people in front of them. Mercy had a close up, clear view from her perch. With arms tied behind his back, and flanked on either side by the valley’s two deputies, Reid Leighton approached the scaffold stairs with dignity and bearing. For a man whose solace had come from a whiskey bottle, his strides were remarkably steady. When he paused at the base of the plank stairs and gazed up at the gallows platform, she wished she knew his thoughts. What drove him to commit suicide by legal hanging? Was he sorry? Did he have dark secrets in his past? Had he known love and happiness? Did he leave a family behind? Would a woman mourn his passing?

Reid needed no urging to mount the steps and, in spite of herself, Mercy kept watching. He ascended with an easy gait, the ball of each polished boot touching lightly upon the next plank. Once on the platform, he turned toward the crowd, head bowed and hat brim throwing a shadow over his features. Sheriff Samuel Dunne and Axel Moser, the valley’s minister of twenty some years stood on either side of the condemned man, and the deputies took watchful positions behind them and off the trap door.

When Orlie Eidler drove up with the hearse, Mercy’s gaze wandered to the glass windows and the coffin that awaited the man’s body. A shiver crawled up her back, and her hand flew to the ribbon necklace tied to the small tatted bag that held her agate stone charm as she whispered hasty words of protection against the sudden chill. “By earth and stone, by flesh and bone, by moon and sun, ill luck undone.”

The sheriff’s voice rose above the crowd’s murmurings. “If you have any last words, speak them now.”

For the longest time, Reid didn’t move. The quiet in the street became quieter. A baby cried; a woman shushed it. The autumn breeze ceased blowing. Mercy held her breath, entranced by the scene playing out before her. When he lifted his chin, she sucked in a little gasp of pity. His eyes—such sadness—maybe it was regret. Whatever his pain, it was deeper than the prospect of leaving this life in a few minutes. Did he deserve to die like this? Alone? With no one here to mourn his passing? Certainly, she didn’t know, but she blinked away tears for him nonetheless.

His deep voice resonated through the silent streets. “I hold the world, but as the world…a stage where every man must play a part. And mine is a sad one.”

A gasp of sorrow at his utter hopelessness left Mercy’s lips and, as if he’d heard, he caught her gaze with his, holding it in a way that made her feel he was memorizing her face as the last tender sight he’d take with him to the grave.

Sheriff Dunne waited a few seconds for the man to say more. When nothing came, he addressed the crowd. “As the duly appointed legal authority in Dulcet Valley, I hereby declare this hanging to proceed this first day of October 1892. The condemned will hang by the neck until dead, and his body will be interred in the local cemetery with a gravestone bearing his name, birth, and death dates. As per his signed and witnessed last requests, his epitaph will read, Teach me to feel another’s woe. Reverend Moser will settle his debts and notify next of kin.”

Those words—

She knew the poem and went on in her head with the next lines…to hide the fault I see / that mercy I to others show / that mercy show to me. It was strange that the word mercy, her given name, would show up in duplicate at this moment. Two of any one thing meant balance, partnership or opposites, either way it meant a pairing of something. Since coincidences didn’t exist in her world, Fate was at work here. She swept a hurried glance around the area, searching for other signs she’d overlooked.

“Let it be known the Honorable Judge J. A. Swanson has authorized me to accept a plea of innocent and commute the death sentence.” He leveled a hard gaze on the condemned man. “Reid Leighton Corvane, this is your last chance to save your own life.”

What? A Corvane? Here?”

The words burst forth, loud and unbidden. Jolted, stunned to her bones, Mercy grabbed a better hold on the branch to keep her seat. So her months of conjuring had proven fruitful after all.



Available on Amazon.com
Kindle | KindleUnlimited

Until next time,

Kaye Spencer








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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Release: A Murder of Crows by Kristy McCaffrey - October #blogabookscene @prairierosepubs

By Kristy McCaffrey

Blog-A-Book-Scene is a monthly themed blogging endeavor from a group of authors who love to share excerpts from their stories. Find us on Twitter with the hashtag #blogabookscene and #PrairieRosePubs.

October's theme is Autumn and all things spooky. It's my favorite time of year! This excerpt is from my upcoming BRAND NEW release, A Murder of Crows. This is Book 3 in The Crow Series, a collection of spine-chilling stories set during Hallowtide in the Old West. I hope you enjoy Kester and Eliza's supernatural adventure into a place called The Hallow, while trying to deny their growing attraction to one another.


Bounty hunter Kester “Kit” Boggs, along with his brothers, tracks and destroys the vilest of men, both from this world and the next. With a Scottish and Comanche lineage, his connection to the supernatural is tied directly to the crow. For too long, he’s been hunting El Viejo del Saco, a demon known as The Bag Man who feeds on the blood of children. A rumor leads Kit to the Mexican frontier, where he must find a man called Hamish Kerr. But with Hallowtide descending, Kit has lost his ability to hear spirits, and his only hope is a woman whose family is a sworn enemy to the Boggs’ clan.

Eliza McCulloch’s ancestors hail from Scotland, her clan carrying an ancient curse and a warning—a McCulloch may never bind herself to a Boggs. When Eliza learns that Hamish Kerr stole her family’s book of spells, the McCulloch Grimoire, nearly two decades ago, she sets out to reclaim it. Often called witch, she possesses a unique skill to open doorways to the other side. But when she finds herself beholden to a Boggs for protection, her abilities take an unexpected turn.

As Kit and Eliza unearth far more than a stolen book, they must work together if they are to survive. But with the past pushing into their future, can they resist the growing desire between them? Is it possible for a Boggs and a McCulloch to find lasting love? Or will defeating the demon separate them forever?

Available this Thursday (October 11) at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.


Excerpt from A Murder of Crows

“There are more of you?” Eliza asked.

Kester gave a nod. “But I’m currently alone.”

“Would you help me, Mister Crow?”

“Like I said, you can call me Kit. Why are you looking for Kerr?”

“Unfinished business.”

“Why would you get into bed with a Boggs?” He immediately regretted his choice of words, not only from the withering look Eliza cast upon him, but also because bedding her was a desire that had taken residence in his head, and he doubted it would leave anytime soon.

A Boggs is never to touch a McCulloch.

Kit set his jaw. It was definitely Granny in his ear. Hell of a time for her suddenly to confide in him. He bristled at the smug authority in her tone, transporting him back to his boyhood when Granny’s exasperation with him inevitably led to a rant.

“Kester, your stubbornness will lead you into trouble. I’m trying to help you. It’s my duty to teach you. Heed my warning, grandson.”

“I’m not offering you my body, Crow,” Eliza said, an edge to her words.

“What are you offering?”

“You’re a hunter of the night. I’ll pay you to help me track down Hamish Kerr.”

Leaning back in the chair, Kit stretched out his legs and crossed them at the ankle. He almost laughed. This whole thing was going south, and fast. As much as he’d like to help the pretty McCulloch, she had no business going anywhere near Hamish.

“I’m afraid I’ve got my own agenda,” he answered. “You should let this go, and you should leave town as soon as possible.”

Eliza arched an eyebrow. “Let me get this straight. You tell me I’m incapable of handling this myself, but when I ask for your help, you say no.” She shook her head, her look dismissive. “Then I will leave.” She stood.

He immediately came to his feet, blocking her path to the door. “No.”

“You don’t want to bed me, and you don’t want to help me. I think we’re done here.”

How wrong she was on the first count, but he didn’t voice it aloud.

“Get out of my way,” she demanded. “I’ll find Kerr on my own.”

It would seem he wasn’t about to be free of the McCulloch siren after all. And despite the danger, a traitorous part of him was glad for it.

Kit brought his hand to her dark hair and lifted the strands spilling over her shoulder. The awareness between them was palpable. It pleased him that she didn’t pull away.

“Fine.” He watched her, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “I’ll help you.”

“A McCulloch cannot bind herself to a Boggs,” she whispered, then raised her gaze, renewed once again with a flash of hard determination. “I offered to pay you, not to pleasure you.”

He didn’t bother to hide his grin, which soon turned into a full-on laugh.

Copyright  2018 K. McCaffrey LLC



Don't miss all the spooky and romantic tales in the series.

Book 1: The Crow and the Coyote (Jack’s story)
Book 2: The Crow and the Bear (Callum’s story)
Book 3: A Murder of Crows (Kit’s story)


Connect with Kristy



Monday, October 8, 2018

Pass the Ketchup, Please



With a need to eat more wisely as I age, I spend a lot of time in the grocery store reading labels. While I have eliminated some foods from my shopping list that used to be standards, one staple I still insist on having is ketchup. However, when I realized how much sugar and salt go into my favorite condiment, I wondered if I could make it at home. And because I love history—and the history of the American west in particular--the next thought was ‘where was ketchup created’ and did they have it in the old west?

The origins of ketchup are thought to be in a Chinese pickled fish sauce or brine made in the late 1600s. The British brought the table sauce back from their explorations of Malay states—present day Malaysia and Singapore—and by 1740 it was a staple in their cuisine. The Malay word for the sauce was kÄ•chap, which evolved into “ketchup” and became “catchup” and “catsup” in America.

Original versions of “ketchup” were made from lots of different savory items. One very popular one in America was mushrooms. Check out the picture of “Mushroom Ketchup.”  The 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines catchup as “a table sauce made from mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, etc.”

Tomatoes weren’t used in making the sauce until the early 1800s. A recipe published in 1801 seems
to be the first making what you and I would recognize as ketchup—although I doubt it would taste the same. Cooks didn’t begin adding sugar to the mixture until later in the century.

Most families made their own ketchup. In 1837, a man named Jonas Yerks is credited with making tomato ketchup a national food by producing and distributing his product across the U.S. It wasn’t long before other companies joined the rush, including H.J. Heinz, who launched their brand of ketchup in 1869.

Early versions were thin and watery, more like the fish sauce than the thick tomato product we’re accustomed to, but had less vinegar than the modern recipe. In fact, I doubt we’d recognize the jar of ketchup served by a Harvey Girl in a Harvey House Restaurant in the 1880s as the same product Americans have come to love--but it’s fun to know it was there.

Tracy

Check out the six novels that make up "Under a Western Sky" today!