Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dead Harvest Release Day!

It’s always darkest before the harvest. Each year, as summer fades to memory, and the sky begins to grow dark, and the leaves change color and fall, the faint, fetid scent of death--of slowly rotting things--begins to drift in, hanging on the chill air like a ghostly pall. Making us wonder, what this year’s harvest will produce. Well... the harvest is here. And it is dead. With these 50 dark tales and nearly 700 pages of terror, you will experience fear, depravity, love, and loss. And a kind of chill, that won’t soon leave your bones. DEAD HARVEST is a crop like no other! Enter the field and get lost... Edited by Mark Parker Includes stories from Tim Lebbon, Richard Chizmar, Ronald Malfi, Benjamin Kane Ethridge, Jeff Strand, James A. Moore, Tim Waggoner, Greg F. Gifune and many more...

I am thrilled to be included in this anthology with so many great authors. Fifty tales of terror. Fifty facets of glimmering fright to keep you reading late into the early hours of the morning. I hope you will enjoy the book and if you want to catch a short read from my story, check out my episode on the Liz McMullen show.

Check it out in paperback on Amazon. Release date coming soon for e-book.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fanciful Twist Halloween Party

Greetings guests and welcome to On the Broomstick. Here I showcase authors and review books of a decidedly witchy nature and have a great time doing so. Now...let the party begin...

Trick or treat and all things good to eat! This cabinet card is one of my favorite pieces by this wonderful Etsy shop. Harvest Moon Emporium.

Potion making at its finest...Winona Cookie casts a spell for all to see...

And this little witch is dancing the night away at Rhonda's Originals.

Now for some fun from my own office... the night away with capes of orange and green glitter heels...

Fly through skies of stars and leave a trail of hopes and wishes...

Cast spells and bring happiness...

Find magic in the mundane...

And make magic wherever you go...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

To Have and To Haunt

Melanie Fyre is a passionate teacher determined to raise funds for the town's school. What better way to do it than by expanding the local businesses? All she needs is land. Untouched for years thanks to a local superstition, the Crowe property is perfect. If Melanie can debunk the myth, she can get the use of those 600 beautiful acres. She just has to prove to the town that Leah's ghost is not haunting the mansion, even on Samhain night.

Burned to death and proclaimed a witch, Leah Crowe's soul has been cursed to an eternity of loneliness, all because she dared to love a woman. When the saucy Melanie arrives at her home to throw a costume party that mocks Leah's very existence, the bitter ghost resolves to renew the town's fear of her name. Will Leah's ghost ruin all of Melanie's plans?


Breathless Press


Releasing on October 31, 2014 this short Halloween flirt was a fun read about a Halloween party at a haunted  house and the long lost lovers that become reunited.

Melanie wants to raise funds for the town school so she picks a haunted house-prove suspicion wrong and she can use the land. Sounds perfect until Leah Crowe, resident ghost sounds in on the interloper. Angry at the people invading her home, she can't help but be curious over the sexy girl in a cat suit. Looking deeper, Leah sees something inside of Mel that reminds her of her lover who died, spurring her own death at the hands of an angry mob.

Can Leah let go of the past so she can finally be at rest? Is Mel her reincarnated lover? You'll have to read this spooky little tidbit to find out! I wonder if they have an extra invitation...this sounds like a party I wouldn't want to miss!


Hedge Witch Book of Days

Recipes, Spells, and Wisdom from the Hedgerow

Once upon a time the witch held a place of esteem in the village; her knowledge of local plants and wayside herbs were used to heal; her wisdom and empathy made her the village matchmaker and marriage counselor; and her ability to commune with nature and animals gave her a place of revelry and wisdom. She was the Hedgewitch.

Aimed at the busy witch, who is both breadmaker and breadwinner, this book revives the spirit of the Hedgewitch and teaches you how to make every day one full of wisdom, healing, and magic. For the practicing or would-be witch whose life is more jeans, chaos, and the never-ending question of what’s for dinner than it is black robes, cauldrons, and incantations, Mandy Mitchell has a recipe for you! 

“I want to demonstrate how daily chores can become magical rituals with the potential to enrich and transform your life—everything from the way we form relationships with our families and friends to cooking, cleaning, and healing.” —from the introduction 

Journey through the wheel of the year with one eye on the kettle and the other on the magical! 


This book spans the seasons and is rich with information on how to get the most from everyday. With correspondences and references to recipes and practical magic, this book is a boon for all those who practice a more traditional life. What seems mundane can often be a ritual. Every stitch in a sampler a spell...every ingredient in a weeknight dinner a way to say I love you...everything has meaning and Mandy Mitchell does a great job of showing you how to look at your world just a little bit differently. 


Why Hedgewitchery?

            Don’t worry, no long drawn-out history lesson here. I am definitely more a student than a teacher. And goodness, my history teacher was sooo boring that he could send the whole class to sleep with one sentence, bless him! But I digress—never a good sign in an introduction! So to get back to our topic, why Hedgewitchery?
            “Hedgewitch” is a relatively new term. It refers to the old village folk who were revered in their communities as healers and keepers of wisdom. For women, they may have been midwives; for males, I think they were known as “pellars”—particularly in Cornwall. These “cunning folk” were an important part of the old com- munities and a certain mystery surrounded them. They were solitary practitioners. Their knowledge of herbal and medicinal laws was unrivaled, and in a time when there was no modern medicine they treated all types of ailments using the things around them. They knew the folklore behind the local plants and put together brews, spells, and medicines from the hedgerow and from their kitchens.
            The other important role these “cunning fok” played was as community counselors. They were often trusted to keep secrets and advise on different situations. This is where the term “Hedgewitch” comes from. Not only did these keepers of knowledge use food and plants to help and heal, they crossed the boundary, or “hedge,” that contained their community to converse with other realms. Through meditation and visualization they visited the fairies and spirits, and consulted with them or asked questions to help them resolve community problems. This can take some practice! But as communities dispersed and we lost touch with the wisdom of these “wise ones”—these keepers of local knowledge—they came to be reviled as evil witches and were treated appallingly. What threat did they pose? Purely a different point of view, great wisdom, and success!
In more recent times, our families and ancestors held some of this knowledge and used it in everyday life. Our grandparents and great-grandparents probably knew all the plants around them and their uses. They knew the hidden meanings in the food they ate and the things they used. To them, this was wisdom—passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. Not much of it was writ- ten down—after all, there was no need. Families and communities would never disappear, would they?
            But today, in our modern era, this is the biggest problem we have. Our communities and families have dispersed like sand in the wind. We don’t live together in groups anymore; families don’t stay together all in one place from cradle to grave. Communities rarely exist in the way they used to, particularly if you live in a large urban town or city. Today, even living in a pretty rural village can be very isolating. The modern age has reduced communication to words on a screen and all things Internet and mobile. Even the written word is in decline. When was the last time you sent or received a letter?
            Technology is a wonderful thing, but it sometimes comes with quite a high price. We are at risk of losing the bond that exists between us, and with it, all that precious old knowledge—knowledge that is no longer being handed down as it once was through teachings and folklore.
            This, I think, is where the modern Hedgewitch comes in. We are, in the main, solitary practitioners, but we do still have a community to serve—our friends and families. We have very little time for contact with the outside magical community, but we do now have, thanks to the Internet, a whole world of like-minded people with whom we can converse. So many people are now turning to new “online com- munities”; they are springing up everywhere.
            Most of our work, however, is still done from the comfort of our own homes and hearths, as solitary Hedgewitches of the modern age. Our role has, in a way, become vital in this world—to record and pass on our knowledge to the next generation and to close the gap a little on all the lost years. We can try to return to the old wisdom our grandparents knew and lived by, using simple household ideas that can enrich people’s lives. What we can do is to learn as much as possible, and to practice our magical ways and observe all the important times and tides that our ancestors did. We can strive to make life better for others and for ourselves by using the things around us, and also by having an understanding of the reasons behind using them.
            Time to make the world a more magical place again, don’t you think?

Why Cooking?

            We all have to eat. It’s a very simple fact of life—and one that most of us think about a lot and take quite seriously. Food is a source of fuel, but we use it in so many other ways as well. Comfort eating, entertaining and socializing, chicken soup for what ails you—the list goes on and on. But we shouldn’t just take food at face value. Most foods have a tradition and folklore associated with them, so it makes sense to use them to their full advantage.
            No one I know relishes the thought of slaving over a hot stove for hours, cooking up what amounts to an entire day’s pay, only for it to be gone in seconds or to be pushed around the plate. Ask any mother or father what weaning their precious baby off milk and onto “proper food” was like. Watch as that rosy glow disappears from their faces as they recall the battles at every mealtime. My granddaughter has this down to a fine art. She scans the plate of food in front of her with precision and brilliant speed. This is usually followed by the word “done,” as she picks up the plate and casually drops it over the side of the highchair! It is an inherited skill I think and proves to me the existence of karma, since her mother did exactly the same thing. It is soul-destroying, however—and not only because of all the expense and effort we went to to give the dear little thing a meal.
            We, as adults, have a built-in need to feed children; any children will do if our own can’t be found. This is why I think I could never leave my mother’s house as an adult without being pestered to eat and to take a “goodie bag” of food I neither asked for nor wanted tucked under my arm. I believe this comes with the parental territory—ummm, maybe it’s hormones?
            Cooking is pretty much as old as humanity. It’s the most basic form of alchemy we have—blending things and transforming them into something spectacular. Well, that’s the theory anyway! But in this modern time, we all set ourselves up for a fall before we begin. Food is not what it once was. You can never be entirely sure exactly what is in that beautiful ripe tomato in its pretty plastic tray. I do often wonder what happened to all the “ugly” food. You know what I mean—the misshapen carrots and the knobbly potatoes. It seems as if, in this day and age, we are destined to have an identical diet containing who knows what from who knows where, and as for when—well, who knows?
            Today, the food seasons have merged and blended into one long-running show with no end. Whatever ingredient your heart desires can be found lurking in a sterile grocery store aisle alongside things that have no earthly reason to be there, given that they have absolutely no chance of growing in your climate! Do we need them all? Well, it is wonderful to have such choice, but surely a strawberry in summer tastes sweeter than one in the winter?
The cook’s role, to me, comes down to using a few basic ingredients effectively: seasonal foods, local foods, affordable foods, and free foods. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t eat other foods—good grief, no! I am not that virtuous, believe me. Most of the time, I like to use seasonal produce—selfishly, because I know it’s at its best and therefore tastes amazing, requiring very little effort from me. I want my local foods to be as local as I can get—whether they come from the garden, from a friend’s garden, or from a local shop. Next, I go after regional items, then those from across the nation, and finally, imported fare. But “imported,” to me, just means longer in transit, and so less flavorful and more work for me.
            Price is a tricky issue too. Times are tough everywhere for all of us, so price will often come at the top of our list of priorities by necessity. Sometimes the money just won’t stretch; so, with the best of intentions, we have to make compromises. Let’s face it; we are not going to starve ourselves or our loved ones over a bit of food snobbery. Hot, tasty food at the right price is the order of the day, but it does require a bit more effort and a great deal of imagination.
            And finally, free foods! These are the very best, and they really should be at the top of everyone’s list. Find and forage for what you can; gather it, cook it, and serve it with the knowledge that you are doing something your ancestors did. Why have we forgotten this skill? I know you all think I am mad. “Did you not just write all about the realities of modern life in your introduction?” you say. “Do you not grasp that I don’t have a minute to breathe?” you say. “Forage?” you say. “What nonsense!” But I really am that busy too, and I know it does take some effort—but it is free! You can’t find usable free food in all months, I know. And fortunately, the season when it’s most scarce is the winter, so you don’t have to go trudging around in the freezing cold. But if you can get out, preferably with a small child to do the work, do try it!

The Magic of Hedgerow

            I hope all of this sounds very sensible and very doable, for now is the time for the magic to begin! All the ingredients we use in our cooking hold a magical element— an unseen energy that used to be known by all but that has now largely been forgot- ten. By understanding what that energy is and harnessing it, we can infuse magic into everything we create. For example, when you go to the shop for some shower gel, you stand in front of a vast array of what’s on offer—different bottles and labels and colors. How do you choose? Are you a label reader or a sniffer? Either way, you choose the one that suits your needs—fresh lemon, relaxing lavender, blends that tell you they revitalize you or warm you up or cool you down, or even make you super sexy! The herbs and spices in these gels are specifically selected by the manufacturers to do a job, and you buy that product to do that job for you. You already know that if you want a relaxing soak, you buy the lavender or chamomile, not zesty lemon or mint or pepper. We make so many choices about what works to enhance our day-to-day lives; we hold so much of this knowledge already. We just need to put some of it to work and use it magically.
            Try, if you can, to return to the days of our ancestors. Cook with fresh ingredients, with love and intent. Use your ingredients to help you in your life. You don’t have to be a slave to the stove—nor do you have to be a martyr. Even a simple cup of tea can be made magical if you make it with focus and wisdom. That’s why I call myself a Hedgewitch cook!
So welcome to the first book from the kitchen of a Hedgewitch cook. Here, we will ramble through the year together, considering as we go anecdotes, memories, folklore, recipes, spells, and rituals that relate to each month. In each chapter, I’ll give you tips for working everyday magic with the foods, materials, and natural treasures abundant in each month. And I’ll share some of my own experiences working with these energies as well.
            At the beginning of each chapter, I have given a list of foods that are seasonal to each month and a list of correspondences for each month that represent the magical side of the year. I have also included an appendix that gives a list of the magical properties of herbs, plants, and trees for you to use as a reference. These are just my take on things and are in no way intended as exclusive or exhaustive lists. They are given only to show you some possibilities and to make suggestions. As with all things magical, correspondences and properties are different for each person. Those given here are just the ones that I find work for me. They may be useful as a starting point for you, but I have no doubt that everyone will have his or her own ideas. So, my apologies if I’ve missed something important to you or something obvious. As I said, I do ramble!

Excerpts provided by Weiser Books.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Witches in Fiction: Crafting Blooming Howls

Crafting fiction for me is a work of the heart. In my story "Texas Twister" in the Of Dragons and Magic: Tales of Lost Worlds, a witch has to fall back into the love and care of her coven as she navigates the waters of her husband's betrayal. This story was based in a very large part on a tale told to me by a woman I met through my job at the bookstore and a group of wonderful ladies I spend time stitching with. We may not cast spells but our fingers weave some pretty impressive magic and you can always count on a fair bit of snark to make everything once again right in the world.

This autumn season, who are you grateful for in your life?

For me, is is the friendship of a group of ladies that has stood by me through the years. My writing, which has taken off in a big way this year with my first novella Asylum and the lovely folks at Witty Bard Publishing for giving life to my little witchy story. I hope you'll check it out, but in the meanwhile, please enjoy an excerpt:

Buy link: Amazon

"Texas Twister"
by Dana Wright

“What’s the matter, Maggie? Are you alright, honey?” Belinda sat up in her chair scrutinizing
Joanne and Rose paused mid stitch and joined in the stare down.
“I…” Magdalay tried to gather her thoughts but they dissolved into tears.
“Rose, get her some water. Belinda, get her a piece of that chocolate.” Joanne was up and reaching
for her pink amethyst and shoving it into her hand.
“Here. You hold that and let it sink in.” Joanne took the water from Rose and handed her the
Magdalay sniffled. “Thanks.” She unwrapped the bright red wrapper and smiled at the saying
inside, quickly popping the morsel into her mouth.
“Alright little miss. You spill it good and now.” Joanne’s eyes bored into her as she returned to her
seat. Rose took a place on the couch next to Magdalay and Belinda followed suit.
Magdalay held her breath and moment, a little unsure of where to start.
“It’s not hard, honey. Just spill it. Nothing is so awful that it can’t be mended.” Rose patted her
hand, the very image of a kind and doting grandmother.
A burst of laughter bubbled out of Magdalay that sounded more like a sob. “You scare me when
you say that.”
“Us. Scare you?” Rose chortled. “Silly girl.”
“What did you do to Brenda?” Magdalay eyed the three of them suspiciously. She had missed the
meeting before when she had to work at the store unexpectedly. Life as an independent bookstore
owner often had its ups and downs.“Well, you realize, honey. She deserved it. Not the first time she’s been caught poaching.” Rose dug
into her craft bag and pulled out another small needlework project that looked suspiciously like a

“What is that?” Magdalay pointed.
“Well, this is my new weight management doll.” Rose held it up for all to see. “You bind its mouth
shut with electrical tape and do an incantation on it every day. In turn, it takes all of your cravings and
absorbs them. It gets fat and you don’t. Ingenious, right?”
“Oh, what a great idea!” Belinda beamed. “You could sell those on-line.”
“Yes. I probably could.” Rose glowed.
“Ladies, aren’t we forgetting something.” Joanne gave Magdalay a pointed stare.
“Oh! Maggie. That was naughty. You were supposed to be telling us what was the matter.” Belinda
set down her crocheting and waggled her finger.
“No. I really want to know. See, I may need your help with something.” Magdalay twisted her
fingers in her lap. When Mom died, she had to take on more than just becoming the owner of the
Brambled Broomstick. Her dearest friends became Magdalay’s as well. Over the years, she had come to rely upon her secret circle in more ways than one. They could run a needle and boy could they handle themselves in times of crisis.
“Well, we simply put binding on her honey.” Rose looked down at her work, not meeting her eyes.
“Right.” And one day wings would pop out of her back and she would sprout a halo. Not.
Joanne sighed. “No. Not really. We cursed Brenda Maxwell with all the energy I had to muster, is
what we did. She made a fool out of me at church one too many times. In fact, she was such in pain in the butt that’s where the hex hit, if you want the honest truth.”
“Oh Joanne.” Magdalay was horrified.
“No. Don’t you dare give me that look. She’s done it to three other ladies in the fundraiser group
just this year. She’s a home wreaking hussy that needed to be stopped.” Joanne sat up straight and met her gaze head on. “I dare any of you to say different. Rose here made the poppet, Belinda gathered the ingredients, and the three of us manifested it.”
“You could have told me.” Magdalay sat back, stunned.
“What would you have done? Told us not to do it? Because it would backlash on us?” Joanne shook
her head. “I don’t think so. She was after Fred.”
“You should have let her have him.” Belinda looked up from trying to unsuccessfully read her
crochet pattern and shot Joanne a filthy expression.

Dana Wright has always had a fascination with things that go bump in the night. She is often found playing at local bookstores, trying not to maim herself with crochet hooks or knitting needles, watching monster movies with her husband and furry kids or blogging about books. More commonly, she is chained to her computers, writing like a woman possessed. She is currently working on several children's stories, young adult fiction, romantic suspense, short stories and is trying her hand at poetry. She is a contributing author to Ghost Sniffer’s CYOA, Siren’s Call E-zine in their “Women in Horror” issue in February 2013 and "Revenge" in October 2013, a contributing author to Potatoes!, Fossil Lake, Of Dragons and Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds, Undead in Pictures, Potnia, Shadows and Light, Dark Corners, Wonderstruck, Shifters: A Charity Anthology, Dead Harvest, Monster Diaries (upcoming), Holiday Horrors and the Roms, Bombs and Zoms Anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media. She is the author of Asylum due out in October 2014.   Dana has also reviewed music for specializing in New Age and alternative music and has been a contributing writer to Eternal Haunted Summer, Nightmare Illustrated, Massacre Magazine, Metaphor Magazine, The Were Traveler October 2013 edition: The Little Magazine of Magnificent Monsters, the December 2013 issue The Day the Zombies Ruled the Earth. She currently reviews music at New Age Music Reviews and Write a Music Review.

Follow Dana’s reviews:
Twitter: @danawrite
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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saving Grace Devine: A Visit with Catherine Cavendish

The White Lady of Stow Lake

In my new novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.
From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls and young women, who are apparently bound to the shores of the lake where they died. They all appear to be searching for something, or someone -in dire need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.
And not all of them are benign.
One such wraith seems to constitute a deadly reason why I, for one, would think twice before venturing on a walk around Stow Lake in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Her appearances have been frequent and well documented.

Golden Gate Park is landscaped on similar lines to New York’s Central Park. It hosts a museum, Japanese Tea Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, Sprekels Park and, of course, Stow Lake. It also houses a number of ghosts – and even an allegedly moving statue. But more of that later. We’re concerned now with “a thin, tall figure in white.” So said Arthur Pigeon, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6th 1908. Police had pulled him over for speeding and he told the newspaper that it had blocked his way as he drove out of the park, “…it seemed to shine. It had long, fair hair and was barefooted. I did not notice the face. I was too frightened and anxious to get away from the place.”
Of course, the temptation is to say the man was merely trying to avoid getting a speeding ticket. And if his had been the only report, then that could well have been the case. But it wasn’t. Over the hundred plus years since that Chronicle article, many other people have reported seeing precisely the same apparition.
So who is this mysterious ‘white lady’ of Stow Lake?
There are, as always, a number of theories. One of the more compelling is that in the late 1800s, a young woman was out, walking her baby in its pram around the lake. She became tired and sat down on a bench. Presently another lady came to join her and the two struck up a conversation. So engrossed was the young mother that she failed to notice the pram rolling away. Suddenly she realized it had gone. There was no sign of either the pram or the baby. Panic stricken, she searched high and low, asking everyone, “Have you seen my baby?” No one had. For the rest of that day, and into the night, she searched.
Finally, she realized the baby and the pram must have fallen into the lake. She jumped in and was never seen alive again.
Witnesses who report seeing her speak of a woman in a dirty white dress, sometimes soaking wet and, contrary to Arthur Pigeon’s assertion that she had fair hair, the other reports consistently state she has long, dark hair. Sometimes she is also seen on Strawberry Hill – adjacent to the lake. Her face wears an anxious expression and she has been known to approach people walking around the lake at night. She asks, “Have you seen my baby?”

As for the statue I mentioned earlier, this is called ‘Pioneer Woman and Children’. It has a reputation for moving around – and even changing shape. These phenomena always occur at night and seem directly linked to the white lady. Sometimes the statue’s face changes. Other times, it has no legs or head. Motorists have reported electrical issues. Different cars driving near the statue or lake at the same time have stalled simultaneously.
Finally, if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough, try going down to Stow Lake at night and say, “White lady, white lady, I have your baby” three times. It is said she will then manifest herself before you and ask you, “Have you seen my baby?” If you say, “yes”, she will haunt you ever after. But, if you say, “no”, she’ll kill you.
Now there’s no documented evidence of the white lady committing murder. But are you prepared to put her to the test?

Here’s a flavour of Saving Grace Devine:

Can the living help the dead…and at what cost?           
When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.
But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

Now, here’s an excerpt:

My footsteps echoed as I trod the creaky polished floorboards in the empty room. I couldn’t overcome the feeling of being watched. For the second time since I had arrived on Arnsay, goosebumps rose along my arms and the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Don’t be ridiculous, I told myself, your imagination’s got the better of you again.
I shook my head and made for the nearest glass cabinet. Above it, a portrait of the museum’s benefactor—Jonas Devine—gazed out at the world. I studied his face for a minute. His dark hair, flecked with gray, receded at the temples. He had a kind expression, clear brown eyes and a neatly trimmed moustache in the style of the late Victorians. My attention returned to his eyes. The artist had captured an ethereal, faraway look in them as if his subject could see something beyond what had been in the room. He was dressed in a dark suit of the period and one hand rested on his thigh, while the other held a book. I peered closer but couldn’t see any title. Maybe it was a small Bible or perhaps a novel by his favorite writer.
I switched my gaze down to the contents of the cabinet. A pair of wire-rimmed spectacles, gloves, a pen and inkstand, all personal items from the man’s study. I moved on and came across an information board nailed to the wall. It seemed Jonas Devine had bought the house when he brought his new bride Margarita—a former music hall artist—to settle on this remote island. This had followed some unspecified need of hers to leave Edinburgh, where she worked, and where she first met Jonas. A photograph showed a dark-eyed woman dressed in Spanish style, complete with mantilla and fan. I could imagine her dancing Flamenco, flashing brown legs as she laughed and flirted with every man she saw.
Another photo showed a slightly older Margarita with a little boy of around two—her son, Adrian. Her eyes no longer flashed and the Latin flamboyance had given way to a demure dress, well suited to a young Victorian mother. But I read defiance in her expression. I bet she could be a handful, I thought.
I read on. Margarita had died soon after giving birth to her second son, Robert, leaving Jonas with two young boys. In 1897, he had acquired a governess—Agnes Morrison—a widow with a young daughter. They were married soon after. There was one photograph of her, with Jonas’s two sons, but no sign of her daughter. I did learn one thing about her though. Her name was Grace and she took Jonas’s surname on her mother’s marriage. Grace Devine.
An icy breeze chilled me, and I hugged myself. I had the strongest feeling of someone standing right by my shoulder, but I had heard no one come up the stairs. I braced myself, took a deep breath and whirled around, relieved to see I was still alone. But then another sound drifted towards me. A sigh. Again I told myself to stop imagining things and carried on wandering around the rooms.
Jonas Devine had certainly been an avid collector. Stamps, coins, butterflies, all cataloged in meticulous detail and laid out for inspection. I supposed there wasn’t much else to do if you were independently wealthy and lived on a remote Scottish island in the late nineteenth century.
One room was devoted to his collection of stuffed birds and animals, all presented in glass cases, in an approximation of their real habitat. Goodness alone knew where he had displayed all these things when he was alive. I found them hideous and macabre, but then I’ve never been a fan of taxidermy.
Below each case was a chest of shallow drawers. I opened one and found a collection of cameos. Much more my taste, and he had some lovely ones too. Some were carved onto coral, others onto tortoiseshell, some on ebony and some ivory. Some were the traditional profile, but most were far more intricate, and I pulled out drawer after drawer of them, all laid out under glass. The collection must have numbered hundreds, maybe thousands, and as for their value…
In the second chest, one drawer stuck halfway and wouldn’t budge, and I could tell something was wedged inside.
I reached in and poked around until I found the culprit. A material that felt like canvas was firmly stuck there. I pushed at it but it wouldn’t shift, so I wiggled it around and tried to grab hold of it. Eventually it gave and I pulled out something that looked like a rolled up painting.
I unrolled it and revealed a strange picture. The bizarre subject was painted in blue-green hues, and represented either a lake or the sea, from underwater. In the foreground a girl floated. Her eyes were closed and I guessed she was around fourteen or fifteen years old. She was dressed in a white gown, decorated with a pattern of tiny flowers. Her feet were shod in black Victorian, buttoned-up boots and the gown billowed up from her ankles, exposing white stockings. Her hands floated next to her and her light brown hair flowed loose around her. With a pang, I realized the artist hadn’t depicted a living subject. This girl had drowned.
It could almost have been a photograph, and I had the strongest urge to touch the girl and stroke her hair, but my fingers found the unmistakable texture of oil paint.
The goosebumps arose for the third time but I ignored them, riveted by the loving attention to detail in the artist’s tragic subject. Who would paint such a picture? I searched around for a signature but couldn’t find one.
I don’t know how long I stared. The painting troubled, repelled and fascinated me all in one go. Finally, I decided to take it down to Duncan. He could find a more suitable home for it. Then, as I started to roll it up, the girl’s eyes opened. 

You can find Saving Grace Devine in all usual ebook formats here:


and in paperback here:

About the author
Catherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is now available in all digital formats and the print anthology will be published in October. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories.Her novel, Saving Grace Devine, has just been published by Samhain Publishing.
She lives with a longsuffering husband in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

You can connect with Cat here:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Cairns of Sainctuarie

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Hawk will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Cairns of Sanctuarie: Volume I - The Bleikovat Event

Among the close-kin clans of western rural Malfesian Murians, farming and gelf ranches are long held traditions. Times are good…full barns, fat gelf calves and large families thrive among the sprawling grain fields and hamlets and the river from which they derive their name—the Feldon. Word comes with the trade caravans that times are not so good in the regions far to the east of the Feldon River: tumultuous changes stir among the remote province of Bleikovia. Old timer Feldovats shrug it off as one more squabble between clans over boundaries or water rights…too distant to affect the Feldovats.

The western clans learn too late, however, it is no local squabble. Outnumbered and unprepared, Feldovats resist a hoard bent on plunder and conquest. Days of battle along the Feldon River stain the riverbanks in green Murian blood. In the finals days of exhausted fighting, Judikar Klarvko Celo, leader of the Clan Klarvkon and the Feldovats, is fatally stabbed with the slow-acting sevon poison. The Judikar’s consort, Etikaa Klarvkaa, becomes Regentkaa, and with Celovat Field Commander Korvo Celo serving as her advisor, she leads the demoralized Feldovat survivors on a gruesome ill-prepared winter trek through high mountain passes of ice and blizzard snow in an attempt to elude the Green Dragon forces of the Bleikovats.

Etkaa’s only son, Klarvko Celo II, helps spirit Feldovat young across a remote mountain exodus to the west toward Eedov Province. The battered, starving Feldovats reach the Malfesian coast at Eedov City only to be confronted with their implacable enemy determined to destroy the remaining Klarvkon rabble. Taking passage on crowded lumbering Maalonovion freighters, Feldovats and Malfesian refugees set sail. On arrival in Maalon City they are welcomed among their Maalon hosts, and settle into a new life.

But famine and a pandemic pestilence stir old hates and nurse former ambitions. The enraged Overseers of Bleikovia move against the Klarvkons, this time bringing bloodshed to Maalonovia. The exiles from the Feldon must fight once again, but starvation and plague across the Planete Myr make it a different war from the battles along the Feldon…a na’ä blikovat…the Bleikovvat Phenomenon…an event with unexpected consequences and outcomes none could have foreseen.

Before the vendetta killing is exhausted, the Regentkaa Klarvkaa and her son are swept onto the Maalon throne, setting the Klarvkon Dynasty and the Murians toward an intergalactic golden age, and a star-flung destiny the once-agrarian Feldovats could never have envisaged.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Etkaa pulled back a canvas siding of the shelter. Distant dawnlit skies to the west glowed with billows of dull red already sweeping through the far provinces. She swallowed a sour distaste, knowing her part in the doing of this. There were no protests. Their last illusions going up in smoke…taking more than hope in the going. No longer could these exhausted bloodied fighters hold any hope to throw the Bleikovats back across the river…or return their lives to the ways they had been. The pale Murian skin of stunned faces washed red by the flames in the west saw the sprawl of war consuming everything. The dazed faces of the fighters said more than words.

One grizzled warrior’s anguish stabbed out, "...our crops burned, gelfs slaughtered…do those orders you hold show how we are to feed what families we may have left? Better we stayed on our farms.” Honest feelings spoke from a pained heart confronting the unimaginable.

Etkaa said, “We will share what food we have. Better that than crumbs from a Bleikovat table.”

From another Feldovat warrior, “Better we return to our hamlets and fields while we can.”

Etkaa said, “Those who would return may find much worse than ashes.”

“Yes…ashes…” the Feldovat shouted. “Burned by your orders. Not Klarvko’s.”

Etkaa fought the wash of sadness. Left her with nothing to say. Much of what the warrior said was true. A harried Korvo said, "There is another troubling matter. With nothing to relieve their pain, the severely wounded and those poisoned cannot be moved into the mountains."

"I do not care what is written in the orders,” someone shouted. “I will not leave clan kin to the Bleikovats.”

About the Author:
Welsh and Scottish Hawk MacKinney grew up in northwest Arkansas, and wrote for his school newspaper. Hawk served over twenty years as a Special Staff Corps Officer with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, a Naval Academy Blue and Gold Recruiting Officer, a Navy Recruiting Command Liaison Officer, and Commanding Officer of units attached to the U.S. Marine Corps bases at Parris Island, South Carolina and Twentynine Palms, California. Along with his postgraduate degrees, he studied English and Russian history and foreign languages. As a faculty member in major medical and veterinarian universities, he authored professional articles and taught postgraduate courses in the United States and Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem. In addition to his sci-fi series, The Cairns of Sainctuarie, Hawk MacKinney has authored the Craige Ingram Mystery Series and Moccasin Trace, a historical romance nominated for the prestigious Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction and the Writers Notes Book Award.
Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Sage Words Publishing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ascension of the Whyte Blog Tour

Sara Carson did not believe in life after death, Heaven, Hell or even reincarnation. However, what she didn't know was that some of us are special. For some of us, death is just the beginning of our next great adventure. Sara Carson was one of those special people, and her most incredible journey did not begin, until the day she died.
A magical début novel that will leave you breathless.


Information about the book;
Author: Karen Wrighton
Title: Ascension of the Whyte (The Afterland Chronicles #1)
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Self-Published
Format: E-book
Pages: 326
Published: 9th June 2014


Author Information
Karen Wrighton was born in a small town in the English county of Staffordshire and
began writing prolifically and drawing from a young age. Karen trained as a Psychologist
and Teacher before finally finding the time to pursue her love of writing, firstly by
creating a successful Psychology blog and now by writing her first novel.

 Karen's début novel 'Ascension of the Whyte' is a magical epic fantasy novel for young
adults and is to be the first book of the 'The Afterland Chronicles' series.
Karen's style is strongly influenced by the books she loves to read, such as Lord of
the Rings and Harry Potter. This is evidenced by the magical quality that pervades her

Karen has two daughters and lives in Norfolk, England with her husband John.

To find out more about Karen and her book, or follow her on social networks click on the
links below.

Author Links

 Why I Write
Karen Wrighton

I have pretty much always written, ever since the day I learned to do curly tails on my letters and penned my first ‘What I did in the summer holidays’ essay in year three. Ever since then I have loved creating something out of nothing.
My childhood was pretty awful really, and Psychologists will tell you that miserable childhoods produce people with fantasy prone personalities. I know this because I am also a Psychologist.
We fantasy prone types have learned to escape our earthly lives (which pretty much sucked), by disappearing into the world of our imagination, our very own fantasy world where we were no longer helpless or afraid, but instead were strong and powerful beings with superhuman magical powers and where we could make everything beautiful and right.

Because of that I have always found writing to be cathartic for me. It makes me feel good.  My characters are as real to me as my faithful dog, and like my dog they stay with me loyally and unconditionally doing my bidding. They are the friends that I constantly carry with me and because of them I am never lonely, even when I am on my own.

My dog Jinks
I have always told stories, sometimes making things up to entertain my children. I was quite creative with my stories of the tooth fairy.  I even used to write tiny letters to my children and convince them that the tooth fairy had written to them personally because they were so good!
I have a great many half completed manuscripts, short stories and even rhyming picture books filling up the hard drive of my computer. The problem with me though is that I am a perfectionist and my own worst critic. I look at my work and think it is really bad and that no one will read it, so I archive it.  Then sometimes I go back to it and re-read it months or even years later and realise that it is actually quite good, sometimes I can’t believe that I actually wrote it at all and often think to myself with a real sense of surprise, ‘that really is quite good!’
This time though with Ascension of the Whyte the writing became an obsession. The characters and story came to me as a gift of the imagination on my drive to work one day and I just could not stop the story evolving in my head. I have never been so excited or driven when writing as I have been with this book, and I fell in love with the characters and their evolving quest almost from page one.
The book has been a pleasure to write and I am looking forward so much to writing the next chapter in the series that, to be honest I really just want to get on with it, but I know that I have to do some publicity work or I will be one of only a few who will share in the story of Rose and her three magical friends, and that would be a great shame, because it is a great story.

I wish I’d have had the courage to pursue my writing years ago, because it brings me great joy. I am not the first to have compared producing a novel with producing a child and the analogy is a good one.  During the gestation of the story you are not sure how it will really turn out, whether it will even come to term, whether it will be beautiful, witty or clever, but you know that however it turns out you will love it, because it is part of you.
Each time I sit down at my laptop my characters greet me, I ask them questions “What are you going to do now?” “Where are you going to go?” “How are you feeling?” and they answer me.  My characters write the story for me, a lot of the time I just feel rather privileged that they let me look through the window of their world.  It’s like having your own Game of Thrones epic playing in your head whenever you want to watch it.  I love it.
Writing is not all easy though, sometimes the window fogs up a bit and you just can’t see what is going on.  I have heard it called writers block, but I now recognise it as my cue to take a break from all the action and do something else for a while. Then usually when I am in the middle of cooking, or driving to work, there they’ll be again showing me where to go next.
Is there anything about writing that I don’t like? Well, I suppose when I am on about the fourth draft I can get pretty bored, and sometimes confused changing things one way and then back again, but even then I can get flashes of inspiration that will turn a paragraph into one that makes me smile every time I read it.  It was not until the final seventh draft of the book that I perfected Rose’s speech to the Twocasts, I just was not happy with it until then. The final drafting process is exhausting, like labour and birth, and just as after labour and birth you may vow NEVER AGAIN, you soon forget the pain and seeing the joy your new arrival brings you rapidly decide that perhaps another one wouldn’t be such a bad idea...


9th August

10th August

11th August

12th August

13th August

14th August

15th August

16th August

Link to tour schedule;
(will be posted on 8th august)


There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour.
The prizes include;

- Author signed paperback copy of Ascension of the Whyte
- Themed metal bookmarks
- Postcards with graphics of the book cover and a colour map of the Afterlands
(signed by author if requested)
- Original hand-made Adder stone pendant like the one described in the book.

Here is the link to the URL for the rafflecopter;

Excerpt 1

"Rose's response was swift, a perfectly executed block action accompanied by a clear
command. The effect was instantaneous and dramatic, a blinding white energy stream
flowed from her potens ring, transforming instantly into a rapidly moving wall of light which knocked Ash off his feet, lifted him up and carried him at great speed across the Arena.

Goldin's hand shook as he retrieved his staff. He had never seen a novice perform a blocking
spell with that much power."