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12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes

12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes

Death of the Body was recently featured on in this incredible list of 12 Suspenseful Reads with Religious Themes.

If you enjoy the Crossing Death series and are waiting for the final installment, Death of the Soul, take a quick look at this list of books, which seems specifically curated to hold you over while I continue writing!

Click through to the site on the image below for an excellent video summary, and to see the curated list of novels that delve into the struggle of good vs evil.



Letter to the Sellers

A lot of people have asked me to document some of what we went through while trying to purchase the gas-lamp house on 308 Engman Street in Clearwater, Florida. I actually wrote the sellers a letter prior to the appraisal coming in that explains (in short summation) what we went through. The final nail in the coffin was when the appraisal came in at 268,000 dollars: 62,000 dollars under our offer.

The sellers decided to wait for a cash offer that waives appraisal, which I kind-of understand. 62,000 dollars is a huge difference, but I also think it’s a bit crazy to think that someone would expect to make 62,000 dollars above market value. Emotion is one thing… but is anyone’s emotion going to cause them to pay such a high markup? Maybe! For the seller’s sake, I hope so. For the buyer’s sake, I hope not.

And for those of you wondering, yes, I do think the house is haunted ;). See this article.

Dear sellers of the house I want to buy,

Usually when I find myself this frustrated, I write. I’m sure it would be best for you to imagine me, as a dark fantasy author, coming home, changing into my dark monk robes and killing off the first character I come across in the book I’m writing (with a quill dipped in blood and the sentences scratched out on old parchment, of course). Not to ruin the fantasy, but I think I’ll write this letter instead… on my laptop… in my underwear.

I would imagine you’re as frustrated as we are, probably asking yourselves “What are those boys actually DOING that is taking so long?” So, I want to tell you (and as a warning, it’ll be long), because just in case we can’t make this deal happen, what we’ve been through will make it easier on your next buyer.

We drove by the house when it was first listed in June. I fell in love, of course, with the gas lamp. Mike and I stopped the car, got out, and asked a passing neighbor if we should buy “that house.”

The neighbor said, “I would!” so we came home and loaded up the MLS, cell phone in hand, ready to call our agent, convinced the house was meant to be ours ours. Sadly, the house was already under contract.

We kept looking. We saw a lot of houses (ask our poor agent). Eventually we gave up, deciding not to buy anything.

The house must have been in my favorites list, because in September I logged into my account and noticed the house back on the market. As you know, we saw the house on Labor Day weekend, and put in our offer, convinced the house was meant to be ours.

As you also know, things went pretty smoothly.  We got our loan approval very quickly, even moved up the closing date at the request of our lender, and celebrated by visiting the house and walking around the neighborhood. We met your children’s neighbor T, and another couple that lives on the opposite corner. We had a great conversation about the neighborhood, and were told stories about how the neighbors rescued a couple out kayaking during a storm. The woman they rescued brought them chocolate chip cookies as a thank you, but it turns out this particular neighbor’s favorite are peanut butter.

We ran into our first snag looking for insurance on the house. We wanted to make sure we got enough coverage not only for the main house, but to rebuild the garage and apartment just in case something happened there. Citizens would only insure the “out structure” for ten thousand dollars, which we didn’t think would rebuild the garage, let alone the apartment above it.

They also brought up some issues with the city zoning when we brought up renting the unit. As it turned out, the county had the lot correctly zoned for single family with an auxiliary dwelling unit, but the city didn’t. Eventually we found Southern Oak insurance company, and they agreed to insure the apartment fully and separately, for about the same premium.

But the zoning was still a problem. The city argued that no matter what the county said, they trumped the county, and the lot was simply not big enough to be zoned single family with an auxiliary living unit. They would not agree to give us a rental permit on the mother-in-law apartment (which, of course, would cause issues with the insurance if something were to happen with a non-family member living there).

After numerous failed calls, we visited the city. We worked with a great woman named M in the zoning department. Initially, she said there was nothing we could do, but did suggest we go to the county for building permits, because if we could find proof the unit was built as an apartment before the zoning laws were so strict, they could grant us a non-conforming exception.

Long story short, the county referred us to the courthouse, where we were able to dig up some pretty old sales contracts on the property, but nothing that was helpful, and no building permits for the apartment. As a side note, there is an open roofing permit that the title company must have missed on your closing. It’s still open, and is for the main house roof. The same contractor that signed off the apartment roof probably should have signed it off too. The city thinks it was a contractor oversight, but it will still need to be resolved.

When we returned to the city, M was busy. Her coworker asked if he could help us, but when he realized the scope of what we were trying to do, his tone quickly changed. “If someone starts the work, they should finish it too, otherwise I’ll be duplicating things she might have already done.”

We agreed, and told him we would wait for M, he was shocked. “Most people would tell me to do it anyway,” he said. We laughed, and said we really didn’t want him duplicating work either, because M was already familiar with our request.

When we walked back up front to the waiting area, he told the receptionist, “These have got to be the most polite guys I’ve ever met!”

Mysteriously, when M came back to help us, she’d found some microfilm with a 1985 survey that clearly shows the garage apartment labeled as an apartment. She said this was sufficient to grant us a non-conforming exception after the house sale completes.

This means that this unit can be a full legal rental, with some caveats. The entire lot is non-conforming, so I think it’s important for buyers to know that if 50% of either building gets destroyed, the structures will have to be brought into compliance (and in the case of the lot boundaries, this includes moving the house away from that back fence line).

Mike and I celebrated our victory by driving by the house and walking the neighborhood. We had more conversations with T, convinced the house was meant to be ours.

That had to be it! That had to be the final hurdle (and in our minds, the most difficult one). We never thought the appraisal would turn into a five-week holding pattern of nerves and ridiculousness. I think the worst part, for us, is that there’s no one we can call, no one we can hold accountable, and no office we can visit. We feel discouraged, out of control, and unable to assist.

Frankly, it seems probable that the field review will come back at a price below the offer. Our biggest fear is that there’s a full-price-cash-backup-offer with people who don’t care whether the appraisal comes back under or over value, while we’re stuck only able to pay what the lender will lend us. I certainly hope the number comes back fair and justifiable, so that it’s a quick and easy decision to move forward for everyone.

I know I can’t ask that you give the house to us no matter what (can I?). Regardless of what happens, I wanted to let you know how exciting and fulfilling it has been to learn all about the history of the house, and forge these relationships with your children’s neighbors, the city, and the realtors. I think had we been able to do the same with the appraisers this might have gone a little smoother ;), but what can you do?

I know you have relatives just up the street, so if this deal does work out and you find yourself in town, please stop by for a glass of wine (or two or three…). Hell, tell me your favorite cookie so I can have some of those for you too (the neighbors sure weren’t shy about it! Ha!).

And if it doesn’t work out, we’ll gladly turn over the information we have, including the 1985 survey, the city contacts, the old sales contracts, the insurance agent we worked through, the open permit number, and anything else I forgot to mention here. Hopefully that will shorten the wait time for your next go-around.

There’s only one thing I can’t help with (besides the stupid appraisal), and that’s the relationships with the neighbors. They’re on their own with that one, but feel free to give them the tip about the peanut butter cookies.

Thank you for everything you’ve done from your side,

~Rick and Mike


My Favorite Halloween Moments

Two True Terrific Memories

There are a two Halloween memories that really stick out in my mind as some of the happiest moments of my life. The first was when a group of my friends and I went down to The Haunted Forest, an outdoor haunted house attraction in American Fork, Utah. A friend of mine, Hilary, brought a date and was so terrified that she ran as fast as she could through the whole event. I think I only saw her for the first 20 or 30 seconds before she disappeared, pulling her poor dates’ arm off in the process.

After getting out of the attraction myself, we found her chatting with some of the other members of the group about how she missed some of the most entertaining parts of the haunted house. This made me very sad, because I knew that as scared as she was, she didn’t REALLY get the full experience.

Near the end of every haunted attraction in Utah, you can guarantee a guy with a chainsaw will be there to chase you out. Me and my friend approached this chainsaw man while he was waiting for the next victims to arrive, and explained that our poor friend Hilary really didn’t have much of a chance to experience being scared (she totally missed the awesome flame thrower and the creepy children!).

Surprisingly, the actor broke character. “I’m not allowed to go past those rocks,” he said, pointing to the boundary, about twenty feet away from where Hilary was standing.

“If we get her over there, can you help us out?” we asked.

The man agreed, so we rejoined the group waiting for some of the stragglers to get out, and engaged in conversation, ever so slightly inching the circle closer and closer toward the rocks.

It must have taken fifteen minutes or longer to get Hilary to where she was finally within the boundary. I thought after all that time the actor would have forgotten our request but as soon as Hilary stepped one foot inside the legal chain-saw-massacring zone, the actor charged up behind her, chainsaw in hand.


Now imagine not only feeling totally safe because you’ve already made it out alive, but hearing the chainsaw after some stranger screams your name!

“Hilary!” the actor growled, starting the chainsaw just behind her back.

I’ve never seen someone jump so high in my life. She soared over her date, and ran so fast that she plowed me over and scurried up and over my friend faster than a squirrel could scale a tree.

The actor high-fived me as everyone died of laughter.

To this day I remember watching how expertly this actor snuck up behind Hilary, with a quick but calculated gait. It had to be one of the most incredibly timed, perfectly executed shuffle, name calling, and chainsaw-starting events in the history of the world.

My apologizes to poor Hilary, but I still look back on that night with fond memories. And before Hilary blames me entirely, yes, her date was in on it.

My other favorite Halloween memory was a spur-of-the-moment Halloween night decision. I was in my early teens and had no plans (and the cutoff age for trick-or-treating in my house was 12). I decided to dress in my dad’s giant camouflage clothes, and stuff myself with newspaper. A ski mask, some sunglasses, and some black eyeliner to fill in where skin was still visible completed my costume. I tied the ends of the sleeves and legs off, and even put some newspaper hanging out of my eye socket. All of the lumps and bumps made it very hard to tell that there was an actual person inside the baggy clothes.


I’ve always been a small, skinny guy, so by the time I was done I looked more like those leaf-garbage-bag scarecrow-type things you sometimes see on people’s porches in the fall.

I then took a bowl from the kitchen and filled it with candy, and taped on a sign that said “Please just take one.”

I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it wasn’t an original or novel idea, but the execution was thrilling. I sat on the porch, slumped in a chair. I had people come up and kick me, pinch me, and otherwise try to prove I was alive. Afterward, some of them decided to be safe and take just one piece of candy anyway. Those people never saw me move.

I remember two guys in particular, who debated whether or not I was real. They pushed my leg back and forth a few times (which I let swing gently, just like it would if there were just a broom stick in the pant leg). They decided not to risk it.

I’m afraid a poor innocent lady, who I couldn’t even see coming up the sidewalk, got the worst of it. The guy in front of her decided to take more than one piece of candy. I grabbed his hand so quickly that even he was startled and yelled, “The sign says just ONE.”

The woman dropped her bag of candy, grabbed her child, and ran down the street screaming bloody murder. She never did come back.

The next year my little sister played the stuffed guy on the porch while I yelled at people from on the roof. My entire family still looks back on those years with fondness.

What are some of your favorite Halloween memories?! Tell me about them in the comments below.




About The Harvesting Series


It’s all fun and games until someone ends up undead!

When mankind fell, Layla and the residents of Hamletville fought to survive. They managed to keep the undead at bay only to be seduced by an ancient fiend: vampires. The survivors soon found themselves running for their lives. But where could they turn in a world turned to shadow?

Cricket was perfectly happy working the carnival, but the flu that swept the globe took the last of what she knew and loved. Cricket and Vella, and Cricket’s loveable mutt Puck, found safety with another group of survivors…but not for long. No one can hide when death seeks them?

How will they survive? Continue the saga in The Shadow Aspect


The Shadow Aspect Novel Description:

When Layla took the final step through the labyrinth, she thought she was saving the ones she loved.

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Layla and the other survivors now find themselves caught in a war for our world, the unwitting victims of a grudge seething for eons. Surviving the zombie apocalypse has become the least of their worries as they come up against vampires, shapeshifters, and fae. When she uncovers an unspeakable horror, whom can Layla trust? The carnie girl? The doctor searching for a cure? The tarot reader? The stranger with alluring gold eyes? Or the man she loves?

The wrong choice could doom them all.

When the world burns, mankind’s shadow side rises. Do we deserve to survive?

Continue this award-winning zombie/dark fantasy genre mash-up series in Book 2, The Shadow Aspect.


Chapter 1 Sneak Peek:

I don’t like roller coasters. One summer, Ian convinced me to join Jaime and some girlfriend of his at the time on a road trip to “the best coaster park in the world.” It was one of those days that lives on in memory as a collage of color, laughter, and sketchy detail. What I do remember is that Ian wasted nearly twenty dollars trying to win me an over-sized teddy bear. He never won it. I also remember Jaime and his girlfriend making out in the backseat the entire ride home. We could hear the wet sounds of their kisses over the Nazareth tunes Ian had cranking on the radio.

The old wooden coasters weren’t as bad. They rattled you hard, but you never felt like you were out of control. Ian, however, coerced me into riding a sleek, modern coaster that pulled 3Gs. Of course, he didn’t tell me that before I got on the ride. I remember opening my eyes and seeing my feet and the sky all at once. The next moment, I was staring face down at the ground while my stomach lunged toward my throat. When we got off, my hands and legs shook. Ian teased me. Jaime wandered off only to return with a five-dollar bottle of Sprite for me. I’d hated feeling like I’d momentarily allowed someone else to dictate if I lived or died.

When I took the final step into the labyrinth, I felt that same massive tug, a throttling feeling like I was out of control, and an enormous heave forward. A kaleidoscope of color thundered past my eyes and a booming sound rattled in my ears. But somewhere in the middle of all that color and light, things stopped for a brief moment, and I found myself standing in a misty forest. The trees there, pink dogwoods, were in full bloom. As I inhaled, the blossoms got larger. As I exhaled, the blossoms got smaller. It was if the whole world was expanding and contracting on the command of my breath.

“Layla?” a woman’s voice called.

I paused and looked around. Thick, white vapor had enveloped nearly everything.

“Layla?” she called again. This time, I saw a tall figure moving toward me. I recognized Peryn.

“Peryn? Here! I’m here.”

The mists around us began to clear. I saw Peryn clearly. The look on her face startled me. She looked horrified. “Oh, Layla,” she called, trying to reach for me, wading through the mists as if they were pushing heavily against her, “you must not trust—” she began, but her words were drowned out by screams.

I turned toward the shouting to see figures moving toward me. It was strange. It was like I was seeing people walking around inside smoke. I was near them, but they remained hidden in shadow. Thin places. I was in one of the thin places that Grandma Petrovich had always spoken of. I could see my world, but I was not present in it. My world was like a shadow layer over the other world, the world of the spirit, where I now resided. I squinted hard. I thought I could see trees…and I could see Jaime’s silhouette. There were others around him—Summer, Ethel, Will. Their voices sounded muffled. Dark shadows ambled toward them.

“Layla,” Peryn called, her voice barely audible.

I turned to see fog engulf Peryn. She was gone. In her place, the mists began to clear. I could smell the forest. The scents of pine and the decay of earth assailed my nose. I felt that same pull again, and I was thrust forward, pitching out of the thin place with a heave. Dumped unceremoniously back into my world, I found myself lying facedown on the leaf-covered ground. The deep, loamy smell of soil filled my nose. It was dark. My head was spinning, but one thing was certain, I could hear screams.



About the author:

Melanie Karsak is the author of the Amazon best-selling steampunk series The Airship Racing Chronicles (Chasing the Star Garden and Chasing the Green Fairy) and the award-winning horror/dark fantasy Harvesting Series. She grew up in rural northwestern Pennsylvania and earned a Master’s degree in English from Gannon University. A steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and zombie whisperer, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

Connect with Melanie online:







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CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

Forty-nine. I was on a long layover at Reagan National in August 2013 when an inspiration hit me. Writing wasn’t on my radar at all until that moment, but it was so vivid I had to write it down immediately; it’s still with me, and I’m still working on it. Prior to that, my only actual fiction writing was my involvement in an APA, or amateur press association, for about a year in the early 90s, primarily because a friend was also involved. Sinobrody 0.9.8 is my first published work.

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

I have no idea. I discovered this wonderful edifice called a “library” about the time I was 6, and spent my summers there; I think I was the youngest person to ever request an interlibrary loan there. It was unusual for a small rural library in 1969 to have a section for speculative fiction, and I think I read just about everything that had a rocket ship or atom symbol on the spine. The first book I can clearly recall is The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin; I was the first person to check it out when a copy arrived in the summer of 1970.

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

The Left Hand of Darkness. Le Guin‘s narrative powers were at their peak, and the exploration of a truly gender-neutral society was heady stuff for a 7-year-old boy. But realizing the implications of Estraven entering kemmer with Genly, the only other person around, was my first “whoa moment” from reading SF.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

I can’t say there is one for me. I sometimes joke about the Muses collectively deciding, “Him. That’s the guy,” and showing up uninvited to whisper, cajole, declaim, and dictate to me while raiding my stockpile of Cheetos.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

Write it down. Just do it. Digital docs, typewritten, handwritten notebooks, cuneiform tablets…if you don’t discipline yourself to Just Write It, regardless of the format or whether you’d rather just vegetate on the couch, you’ll never get to where writing is the seemingly-natural action so many writers exhibit. And that’s when the magic *really* starts to happen. You want to get there, trust me, you do, so Just Write It.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

Waiting for feedback. Urgh. A zillion what-ifs chasing each other—your hopes, your expectations, and your fears—around. Developing a small, reliable group of Beta readers is something every writer should do, they’ll tell you what’s not quite right before you share it with the world at large.

7. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

Sinobrody himself. Getting into his head to figure out *why* he was doing what he was doing was a remarkable experience. He has a history that is barely touched on in the story, but it informs everything about him.

8. On what projects are you currently working?

That inspiration at the airport has taken on a life of its own, becoming a series of seven novels and a growing number of shorter works, in an alternate history setting. There are stories to be told over a 10,000 year span, from the Neolithic to a few hundred years in the future. I hope to have the first novel, Niall’s Vale, in publishable shape by the end of 2015. I also have something in mind for the second volume of Twice Upon A Time.

Read Tracy’s story, Sinobrody 0.9.8, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

TRACY ARTHUR SOLDAN is a recent transplant from the Pacific Northwest to Roswell, GA. He works for a large multinational you’ve never heard of because its industry is neither sexy nor controversial. He discovered science fiction and fantasy almost as soon as he learned how to read. He was introduced to roleplaying games (RPGs) with Blue Book D&D, and has been active in Live-Action Roleplaying (LARPing) for nearly 20 years. He wonders why the Muses waited until he was 49 before deciding to start inflicting him with stories to write. He lives alone, with no pets. Not even a goldfish.

..Connect with the Author..




CONTRARY to the title of this anthology, working with such a talented cast of writers is an opportunity that usually comes once in a lifetime. From best-selling to greenhorn, independent or traditionally-published, the authors in this anthology span all ranges in addition to spanning the globe—from England to Australia and all over the United States. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know each and every one of them, and they have become a part of my extended family. I’ve even caught a glimpse of a secret side of them that only another writer…editor…is privy to witness through their words.

Through this series of posts, I plan on introducing you to my new family through a mini-interview of each. You may not get a chance to see their secret side, but you’ll get a sneak-peek into their minds, their passions and inspirations, and what made them the writers they are today.

..The Mini Interview..

1. At what age did you start writing?

As soon as I could—6 or 7?

2. Which book introduced you to Speculative Fiction?

John Christopher‘s Tripod series. I was stunned to realize people could think about exciting stuff like that. I wanted more…

3. Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?

The Crown of Stars by Kate Elliott. Not only does it depict a greatly realistic, detailed early Middle Ages, it has a kickass heroine, a wide scope, mythic creatures, love, wars, magic…
I can keep rereading it, it’s too complex to keep in your head so there’s never any boredom.

4. Which author and/or book inspired you to start writing?

Jack Vance. I just loved his ironic details and grotesque imagination. I wanted to be just like him…all my teenage work is one big Vance pastiche.

5. What would you say is the most important lesson all writers should learn?

You have to find a way to show yourself through your words.

6. Of the entire publishing process, which would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?

The waiting. Months, sometimes even years, to get an answer from a publisher or a magazine.

7. From where did the inspiration for your submission arise?

The Yde Girl was an actual bog corpse found in my country.

8. If applicable, did you have a favorite character (to write) from your story? If so, what sets them apart from the others?

My protagonist, because she tries so hard to fit in and to be loyal, and she has to make a choice to leave her family.

9. On what projects are you currently working?

A near-future, optimistic sf novel/series of shorts. I took up the challenge to write utopian instead of dystopian for a change….

Read Bo’s story, Bog Trade, in your very own copy of Twice Upon A Time today!

..About the Author..

Bo is a freelance writer who lives and works in the ancient Dutch city of Utrecht, close to Amsterdam. When she isn’t writing, you can find her madly designing knitwear, painting, or reading anything and everything from Kate Elliott to Iain M. Banks or Jared Diamond.
Her fiction has appeared in Penumbra, Electric Spec and quite a few anthologies. Her sf novel, The Wan, will be published in 2015 by Pink Narcissus Press.

..Connect with the Author..


Prophecy Breakers, Book #2

The Prophecy of Six, Cover Reveal!

I'm excited to host the Cover Reveal of Prophecy of the Six, Book Two of the Prophecy Breakers series by Sheena Boekweg, Melanie Crouse, and Sabrina West. The cover was designed by Darren Boekweg of Boekweg Books Publishing and Cover Design.

About Prophecy of the Six

We didn't know how much we had to gain by being infected with magic. We found a purpose, we found a destiny, and we found each other.

But California isn’t the new start we were promised. Dr. Child may be gone, but now we must face a military school, dangerous secrets, and a prophecy that has half the country wanting us dead. When the line between enemies and allies blurs, Sam, Juliette, Ana and I need to choose between love and sanity, between magic and survival.

Paradise has a cost. When the authorities are suddenly giving you whatever you want, they’re going to demand everything in return. And that’s a price not all of us are strong enough to pay.
Freedom feels like safety, but it’s not. There are no walls here. No place they won’t be coming for us.

No place we won’t destroy.

About Alchemy

Book 1 in the Prophecy Breakers series
We didn’t know how much we had to lose until we were infected with magic. Sam was in love, Juliette was the main caretaker for her siblings, and Ana and her dad planned the best parties in New York. But we lost it all when we were shipped to Chebeague, an exclusive school for newly infected mages.  
Everyone knows about the mages, those who survive the infection and end up with magical abilities. We’ve seen the power of magic, the high-paying jobs, and the world fame. But we never saw the cost. We didn’t know we’d be forced to give up everything: sanity, family, even the right to talk on the phone. 
We didn’t know mage was just another word for prisoner.
In 2014, Alchemy was named on of the top 50 self-published books worth reading. On December 8,9, and 10th you can buy it for free here. For a limited time, Funny Tragic, Crazy Magic and Hidden Magic are also available for free.

About the Authors

Sheena Boekweg, Melanie Crouse, and Sabrina West met online, (which isn't as weird as it used to be) and blog together Their first collaborative project, Alchemy (Prophecy Breakers #1), was voted one of the top fifty self published novels worth reading by Indie Authorland.

Sheena Boekweg is the author of Funny Tragic Crazy Magic, and The Waxling (forthcoming). She is a mom of three from Utah and is prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse.

As a mom of four, Melanie Crouse thinks that parenthood is exactly like a zombie apocalypse. Melanie Crouse is the author of excuse notes, thank you cards, and the novel Hidden Magic.

Sabrina West is a writer and wildlife biologist living in San Diego, California. Her short fiction has appeared in markets such as Cover of Darkness; Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine; and Kayelle Press’s Night Terrors Anthology.

We love hearing from our readers, so drop us a line at [email protected], on facebook, twitter, or Internet stalking Benedict Cumberbatch.

Add it on Goodreads 

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Facade of Shadows is FREE August 12-13, 2014 to celebrate being re-released for 60 days.

Amazon has a limited number of free days that it provides to Amazon exclusive works, and August 12-13 will be two of these days.

Pick it up for FREE before this offer dies.



Jade put a ping on my phone today. There’s a new job. It shouldn’t be that hard. It’s on South Street, near the river where the tent cities pop up in the summer.

I love it down there with the smell of the ocean. It reminds me of home. I love being down there with the water and the overpasses I lived in when I first ran away from home and came to this city to find Rain.

It would almost feel like home to me except she is still missing.

I need to find her, protect her from what’s coming.

Even if what’s coming is me.





Rebecca Ethington has blended the line between reality and fiction with her groundbreaking project – Of River and Raynn.
Follow the characters online and watch the story unfold with live
action video and journals entries that take the characters off the page
and make it real. #RiverandRaynn

Follow River and Raynn on their journey! RaShelle Workman



Author Rebecca Ethington is giving away an Of River and Raynn Prize Pack, which includes an advanced copy of the book, t-shirt, and an all expense meet & greet paid trip with the cast. 
How awesome? All you have to do is join the fun!
This giveaway is open international. Yes, we said international. :0)
Must be 18 or older. 
Make sure to check back all summer long for new ways to enter and win! 

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BLOG TOUR – MARCH 6-27, 2014

BLOG TOUR – MARCH 6-27, 2014

The Death of the Body Blog Tour, hosted by The Bearded Scribe, will run from March 6th – March 27th, 2014. Here is the tour schedule. As you can see, the blogs are participating more than once, so make sure you show them some love and visit them often!

Book Blast (6th-13th):

The Bearded Scribe– (6th)
Cu’s E-Book Giveaways– (6th)
Marcy Rachel Designs– (7th)
Victoria Brinius– (12th)

Book Spotlight/Read & Review (14th-20th):

The Bearded Scribe– (14th)

Author Spotlight (21st-27th):

Victoria Brinius– (21st)
The Bearded Scribe– (23rd)
Marcy Rachel Designs– (24th)


Dr. Seuss and I share a birthday. Growing up, that was uber cool (it was the 90s, so “uber” was still an awesome word, thank you very much). Every year in elementary school, I would head off for the day, knowing full well that we would start the morning with one of my favorite movies: “The Lorax” (the original… I still haven’t seen the remake).

Any WHY would we watch my favorite movie? Well, obviously because it was my birthday!

Why else would everyone take a day off from normal school work and celebrate by watching awesome cartoons all day long?

In second grade, one of the teachers did something pretty fun: she got a gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and some Nilla wafers. Each child received a scoop of ice cream, and a Nilla wafer was pressed into the center. When put together correctly, the concoction looked just green eggs (with the Nilla wafer playing the part of the yoke)!

I thought this was pretty awesome, but my favorite ice cream was chocolate, not mint chocolate chip, and my favorite Dr. Seuss cartoon was “The Lorax,” not “Green Eggs and Ham.”

So I raised my hand. “Aren’t we going to watch The Lorax?”

“No,” the teacher responded. “I’m pretty sure the school played that one last year.”

“Yes,” I responded, “but it’s my favorite.”

The teacher looked at me, dumbfounded, so I continued, “And it is MY birthday…”

I raised quite a stink. Needless to say, I got pulled out of the movie time classroom and got talked to about how the whole school was celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday, not mine, and how I would have time in my class to celebrate my birthday but that the movie was not for me.

When I was finally allowed back to my seat, my green egg had melted and the Nilla wafer was soggy.

I blamed Dr. Seuss for many years. So the effect he had on me as a child was different than most. He taught me one of my first lessons in frustration and misunderstanding. There is a little dark spot in my soul thanks to him.

So what can I say, I owe the man.

Happy birthday, Dr. Seuss. Maybe I need to find that old Lorax movie and watch it while chowing down on green mint chocolate chip ice cream and Nilla wafers.


Blog Tour Hosted By Snarky Bloggers

February 6-13, 2014

Join one of the largest tours I’ve ever seen set up for a book. The Death of the Body blog tour February 6th through February 13th schedule is listed below. There are guest posts, reviews, spotlights, interviews, teasers, exclusive short stories and a HUGE giveaway! Follow along each day.



A Death of the Body advertisement was banned by a Utah local news station January 10, 2014 with the following response:

“Our organization is responsible for the editorial content within the advertising we allow. It is our prerogative to not accept advertising from products or services that are critical of any religion. It appears from the reviews on Amazon, that your novel challenges the validity of many organized religions, and that is a message that does not align with our brand. We feel like you are better served by buying display media through Google Display Network or other networks that are less sensitive to editorial conflicts like this. I apologize for the inconvenience.”

While I (Rick) disagree with the assessment, I find the controversy interesting.

One reviewer has said, “Another thing that I think some people might not like about this book is how it rips on religion as a whole,” while another one rebutted: “As some other reviewers have mentioned there are quite a few religious undertones to this story. It is apparent that the author has done some research of several religions and their beliefs and practices. As someone who has studied and explored various world religions I enjoyed this part of the story.”

But my absolute favorite comment on the subject came from Janett, who blogs over at The Pleasure of Reading Today. She hits the nail on the head when she said, “This book makes a lot of reference to religion and although I understand this is a delicate subject for certain people, we have to look at the big picture. This is a character looking for his place in the world he lives in, searching for his purpose and constantly asking himself questions that us humans, as characters in our own stories looking for our reason to live, are also wondering about.”

For those who haven’t had a chance to see the Death of the Body release announcement and press release, I also address these issues. You can find press release here.

What’s your opinion? Vote:
online poll by Opinion Stage


As you know, Rebecca Ethington is a very good friend of mine (I almost sacrificed her on Elephant Rock in high school. All you super-fans, you’re welcome that I didn’t). Anyway… She has a big announcement that I’m posting for her! Yay!

Author Rebecca Ethington has some big news to share about her Imdalind series! Check out the video below where Rebecca Ethington shares a special message. 🙂

About Soul of Flame...

Book Four in the Imdalind Series, expected release December 2013

The Time for the final battle has come.

Edmund's armies have surrounded the Rioseco Abbey, trapping the few survivors inside. The sight that Ilyan was given a thousand years ago is about to come to pass.

If only Joclyn was able to fight.

Joclyn is tormented by the hallucinations that Cail’s mind has left her with, her magic an uncontrollable torrent that even Ilyan cannot control. Her moments of lucidity are broken by fears of dripping pipes and bleeding walls, and a desire to kill Ryland that she is having trouble trying to ignore.

The sight has shown her power, shown her success, but it has also shown her death – The end of her life something she is not quite willing to give up on yet.

Even past her death, the sight has shown her love, and that love may be the only key to her sanity, to her strength, and to Edmund's death.

That love may stand in her way, and a single choice may tip the scales and secure their future, or destroy their fate.

Release Date: February 17th 2014


"“You deserve to die!”

The tanned skin of his face slowly faded to white before the red of his lips painted blue. He clawed at his neck as an invisible force squeezed the life out of him. I only smiled as I watched him fight it, knowing it was pointless, knowing I wouldn’t let him get away.

Other books in the series...

 Kiss of Fire Available on AmazonBN
Eyes of Ember Available on AmazonBN
Scorched Treachery Available AmazonBN



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Rebecca Ethington is a story teller and author from Salt Lake City, Utah. She has been telling stories since she was small. First, with writing crude scripts, and then in stage with years of theatrical performances. Rebecca’s first stint into the world of literary writing, The Imdalind Series, was released in October 2012 and since its release each book has been found in several top 100 lists on Amazon. Rebecca is a mother to two, and wife to her best friend of 14 years. Her days are spent writing, running, and enjoying life with her crazy family.



The most frequently asked question I get is what sparked my interest in the supernatural, or why I choose to write the darker side of fiction. Usually I answer with a chuckle, and say something like “Well, it’s all thanks to the ghosts that lived in my basement.”

Here is a full accounting of one particular night when I was eight. To the best of my knowledge, this story is entirely true.

They Exist


The digital clock radio on the shelf wouldn’t stop flashing the number twelve in big red numbers. I had already set it three times to no avail. This time I finally unplugged it and went back to my chess game. My little eight year old mind didn’t find it odd that the clock continued to flash even without power. It seemed normal. After all I did have that prickly feeling on the back of my neck.

I had had this feeling before and hoped that if I just pretended like it wasn’t there, nothing bad would happen.

I was startled enough to drop the chess piece I was moving when the clock radio clicked on and started blaring an incomprehensible rock song. I got to the clock as quickly as possible and flipped off the radio switch, returning the room to silence.

It’s unplugged, the thought came to my mind.

Don’t thing about it, I argued with myself. Thinking about it always makes it worse.

I turned back to my chess game, but my companion player was nowhere to be seen. An unnerving feeling came over me as I realized I couldn’t remember who I was playing with.

“Are you ready to die?” a domineering mans voice suddenly spilled over the radio speaker. The prickling at the back of my neck moved down my spine and settled in the pit of my stomach.

It isn’t real. The clocks unplugged, I reminded myself, although my mind was already coming up with logical reasons why the clock continued flashing at me.

Sometimes these clocks have a 9-volt battery for backup! I remembered.

I pulled the clock off the shelf and flipped it over, staring into the empty battery compartment. I stole a glance down at the plug, still feet away from the socket.

The mans voice returned, sickeningly sweet, streaming menacingly over the speaker, “Someone is here for you.”

The pit in my stomach exploded into a fury of fear. I felt my skin turn icy. My eyes grew large as I stared at the large red numbers blinking twelve. My head screamed for me to run but me feet felt heavy took a while to respond. I dropped the clock, and ran out of the room, turning back to make sure I wasn’t being followed, only to notice the clock situated perfectly back on the shelf.

I tried the front door but it wouldn’t open even though the locks were visually turned to the unlocked position. I fumbled with the door for a few moments before feeling such a sense of urgency and dread that begged me to keep moving. Staying in one place for too long was dangerous. When I turned away from the door, I caught sight of the basement entryway, the doorway wide, the stairway well lit. Visions of the new compound bow my father had given me flashed in my mind: I had it in my room… my room in the basement.

The thought of the weapon filled me with exuberance, which sat juxtaposed with my fear. I dashed down the staircase in a moment of courage, turning sharply to the left as I reached the bottom step, not daring to look towards any of the other rooms—they all looked dark.

I could see the bow now, leaning against the wall next to my dresser, right where I had left it. It was just a few steps down a small hallway to my open door, and only a few more steps to where the bow would give me a chance against my unknown antagonist. I was through the hallway now, and had taken two steps into the bedroom when I froze.

It’s a trap, my mind echoed forcefully. He led you here.

I had no idea who “he” was, but I did know I didn’t want to find out.

Don’t think like that. It is always worse when you think like that, I told myself, angry that my mind had started spinning scenarios that might very well materialize at any moment.

But I felt a thought creeping up from the darkest recesses of my mind, and as hard as I tried to block it out I knew it was too late: He’s behind you.

I knew it was true. The hair on my neck bristled as I felt a pair of eyes on my back. I could hear the soft rasp of his breathing. His entire presence was so physical that it overpowered my senses and emotions. I began to cry, feeling hot tears roll down my tender cheeks. The bow was there, with a gleaming arrow just next to it, but I knew I wouldn’t have time to load it. Why was he waiting behind me? What could he possibly want from me?

Maybe he isn’t really there. Maybe nothing is there.

My heart thudded in my chest as a sob escaped my lips. A soft ray of hope pierced my mind, and I turned to look.

I didn’t see anything, because the next scene moved so fast. I was engulfed in blackness, my hope shattered as a cloaked figure overpowered me. I felt a sharp pain, and looked down to see a silver blade sticking out of my stomach. I was so overcome with shock and surprise that I couldn’t even inhale to gasp.

Then I was watching myself. I saw my body sink slowly to the floor. I could see a dark man leaning over me. I felt as if I were floating, watching the scene from above. I could see the man’s face now, a smile of pride stretched his lips. I wondered how murdering an eight year old could give a grown man pleasure. I wondered if the police would ever catch him. Somehow, it made me feel more peaceful thinking that they would.

Ah, peace. I was surprised that I felt peace, but comfort overwhelmed me as the scene below grew dark.

It took a while for me to realize why it was dark: my eyelids were closed.

I opened my eyes to find myself in my room, the soft glow of a night-light in our downstairs hallway cast just enough light to illuminate the familiar surroundings. I was in bed. It was all a dream.

I wondered what time it was, and turned my eight-year-old face to the clock radio on my dresser. I had a sudden feeling that I was sinking as I watched its numbers slowly flashing twelve. The tingling feeling on the back of my neck returned, but immediately moved to the pit of my stomach.

Dear God, I half prayed, half exclaimed, please tell me I woke up.

As if on cue I watched a tall dark figure hesitate momentarily in my doorway then stroll silently to the foot of my bed. I couldn’t make out any features because it appeared as only a silhouette in the dim light.

I did the only thing I could think of to do. I drew in a quick breath, and started to scream.

I was surprised to realize I survived the long few moments it took for my mother to reach my bedside. “There’s someone here, there’s someone here,” was all I could repeat, her frightened eyes turning soft as I recounted the story of my nightmare and the events that followed.

“You were still asleep,” she told me, holding me, and she almost had me convinced.

My two sisters, wakened by the screaming, were also standing in my room. My little five-year-old sister’s eyes brimmed with tears.

“Mom,” she said, “when I got out of bed, I saw a man running from Rick’s room.”

I remember my mom searching the house that night with my dads loaded pistol tucked behind her back while the three of us were huddled together in my sister’s room. I wasn’t about to stay in my own room.


The next morning we sat down as a family and discussed the “other” family that shared our home: a father, a mother, and a little boy. Each one of us had seen or heard a member of the family, but thought we were imagining things. It wasn’t until we gathered together to discuss our experiences as a family that we started to connect the dots.

“For a long time I though you had gotten out of bed and were running up and down the hall laughing,” my mother recounted.

“And my friend and I saw a woman in your bedroom mirror, mom,” my little sister added, the story recalling a memory from when she and her friend had run up the stairs with fear in her eyes, telling of a woman in a flowing white dress.

“I thought it was dad coming home late at night and walking around the basement,” my older sister said, “but the man I saw never made a sound.”

“So you can imagine a father, with a son of his own,” my mother turned to address me. “I’m sure he felt the need to come into your room to comfort you after your nightmare.”


Eight years these experiences had occurred in our home, each of us thinking we had seen nothing more than a shadow mixed with a flicker of imagination. Eight years we remained silent, my mother getting out of bed to chase a child she thought was me only to find me fast asleep in bed. Eight years this family had shared our house, and we refused to acknowledge them.

A few weeks later my mom woke to the sound of a child laughing in the hallway. She sat up, and clenched the blanket around her.

“If you can hear me,” she said, “you really scared my son. I realize you must have work to do, and you are welcome to stay as long as you need, but please, finish your work and move on.”

Perhaps all they wanted was to be remembered, because two weeks later, they had gone.