Holiday Extravaganza Spotlight: Tail of a Feather + Giveaway

Tail of a Feather
The Spellwood Witches, #3
Melanie Snow

Genre:  Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Spirit Paw Press, LLC
Date of Publication:  10-6-20
ISBN: 978-1-7324375-8-6
Number of pages:  225
Word Count: 44644
Cover Artist: Molly Burton


A witchy sleuthhound. An enemy from the past. A threat to everything she loves…
Can Sarah stop the mayhem of Witchland before it is too late?


A mysterious portal. Eight crows with a message. A missing police chief.

Sarah Spellwood feels she maybe too late to save her beau, the handsome police chief Eli Strongheart, from disappearing from Witchland forever. But with the wisdom of eight crows, she and her collie sidekick, Addie, focus on their mysterious task ahead. Yet time is running out and the tension rises when they discover there is more to the mysterious portal than they expected.

As the clues fly, Sarah is shocked to learn that Madras Spellwood is trying to get back into Witchland to take over its beauty and magic. But Sarah and Addie are vowed defenders of the forest, and they will not let Madras succeed, or Eli get away.

Can Sarah save Eli and beat Madras at the same time?

Tail of a Feather is book three in the magical Spellwood Witches cozy mystery series. If you like paranormal puzzles, charming canine companions, and a bit of flirty romance, then you will love Melanie Snow’s crafty quest.

Buy Tail of a Feather and take flight into the magical world of Witchland today!

Winter Solstice Almond Butter and Gluten Free Cookies for Dogs

A Winter Solstice celebration is not complete without some magical and delicious treats for your canine familiar. This recipe is Addie’s favorite and Sarah in The Spellwood Witches series often bakes extra. This way during the solstice festivities, all the canine pals in her and Addie’s life have some treats as well.

When your feed your dog treats it is important to choose healthy and real ingredients. If you can get organic and fresh. I don’t recommend additives like artificial colors. If you would like these cookies to be festive, you can add some lightly browned rolled oats which adds a pleasant touch. Or using cookie cutters you can cut them into stars and bones, etc.

These cookies are fun to make. With prep and cooking, it will take about one hour and forty minutes. This recipe yields about two dozen cookies.

Ready to conjure up some Winter Solstice Almond Butter and Gluten Free Cookies for Your Canine familiar?

Here are the ingredients to get started.


2 ½  cups organic almond flour

2 large eggs

2 TBS of egg white

½ cup organic canned pumpkin

2 TBS unsalted almond butter
(crunchy or smooth)

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

@¾ cup of uncooked oatmeal (for decoration)


Step 1

Preheat oven to 350 degree F (175 degrees C)

Step 2

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, eggs, pumpkin, peanut butter, salt, and cinnamon (minus the oatmeal and egg white). You want to make the dough workable, but it should be on the dry side and stiff. If it is too dry, you can slowly add water. Then roll the dough until it is ½ inch thick. Use cookie cutters to express the magic of the Winter Solstice, such as pine cones, stars, and bones.

Step 3

Bake in your preheated oven until hard, which is about forty minutes.


If you want to add a healthy decoration to your cookies try this. About five to eight minutes before they done, open the oven and brush the cookies with egg whites. Then lightly sprinkle with uncooked oats and cinnamon. Watch them closely so they don’t burn.

There you have it. As you celebrate the Winter Solstice with your doggo familiars make sure you have some of these delicious Winter Solstice Almond Butter and Gluten Free Cookies for Dogs straight from the magical recipe book of The Spellwood Witches.



Chapter 1

            Sarah snuggled into her jacket and relished the slight sting of the cold on the tip of her nose. Autumn was washing Witchland in rich oranges, browns, and yellows, and little frost crystals coated the ground in the morning. The scent of pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice espresso treats wafted continuously out of Javacadabra, where Susie and Karen worked tirelessly to delight the taste buds of the town with the help of their familiar, a talking white cat named Zeva.

            Holding her tea latte between her palms to warm them, Sarah kept pace with Eli as they began the trek up the Mount Katribus trail. Sarah’s canine familiar, Addie,
padded along at her side. “I wonder why I love autumn so much.” Sarah sighed contentedly.

            “Because you’re a witch,” Eli teased, his gorgeous blue eyes twinkling as he smiled at her.

            He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, and she snuggled in close. Addie looked up at them, love in her soft brown eyes. “I must say your warmth for each other is keeping me warm,” Addie joked.

 Though Eli couldn’t hear her, he was starting to get to know the loyal collie mix well, and he asked her, “Where is your boyfriend, Kelvin, huh, girl?”

Addie barked happily when she heard the name Kelvin.
He’s in the woods, hunting rabbits,” she answered, which Sarah repeated to Eli so he could hear.

“Girls always love the bad boys. Or, in your case, the bad wolves,” Eli said.

“So Jenna did the rounds this morning? There’s no sign of Madras?” Sarah asked  as the trail they were walking on began to incline up the mountainside. Eli Strongheart was the police chief of Witchland, and Jenna Mora was his deputy.

“Not a sign,” Eli replied. “Tonight is my turn . . . I imagine these woods make you a bit nervous now, don’t they?”

Sarah shrugged. “Not at all, actually. I love the woods so much that I won’t let my wicked great-great-great-whatever-aunt ruin them for me. Besides, I feel so much more confident knowing that I defeated her. That she’s banished for good.”

Eli smiled. “We always try our best to keep these woods safe. Even the greatest demon witch of all time can’t defeat our team.”

“So . . . I was thinking. I invited my parents to my house for a little dinner in two days. Would you like to join us?” Sarah went on. She had felt slightly apprehensive about inviting Eli, since they were a new couple. The last thing she wanted to do was scare him off. But she knew in her heart that Eli was in it for the long haul, and that made it easier to come out and say things, even things that made her nervous.

“Of course,” Eli said, looking slightly taken aback. “Any weird quirks I should prepare for?”

“Um, definitely don’t talk politics with my dad.”
Sarah laughed. “It could get pretty heated. Also, let’s keep the magic talk to a minimum.”

“I thought you told them that you’re practicing witchcraft?” Eli said.

“I did. But it’s a touchy subject. You know that my father tried so hard to put distance between himself and the Spellwood legacy.” Sarah shrugged. “They’re accepting, but I just don’t want to make them super uncomfortable.”

“I think you should just be yourself,” Eli said gently. But then he added, “Although, I probably wouldn’t talk about witchcraft to my mom, either. She’s probably a far worse denier than your parents.”

“Well, my parents don’t deny it. They just don’t practice it. The last time was at my aunt Beth’s when we visited her, right before she passed away and I started seventh grade.” Sarah suddenly stopped in the middle of the trail. Addie, who was wandering slightly ahead, turned back and looked at her expectantly. “Let’s go visit Aunt Beth’s. I haven’t been able to bring myself to go since I moved here,” said Sarah.

“Your aunt Beth’s house? Well, sure,” Eli said, again taken aback. He laughed as they changed course and began to walk toward the small goat farm Beth Spellwood ran. “I love how spontaneous you are.”

“I haven’t seen her farm in so long, and I really miss that place. That was where I first discovered I had powers, and I was very close with my aunt.” As Sarah attempted to remember her way through the maze of trails to the farm she had not visited since she was twelve, she regaled Eli with tales of Aunt Beth, including Aunt Beth’s talking pet goat.

“So that was the original Addie,” Eli commented.

Hey! No one is like me,” Addie protested.

“That is true. You are one unique dog,” Sarah assured Addie, who blinked at her happily.

They finally broke through the tree line and came upon a fence, which was sagging with the weight of the ivy growing on it. It enclosed a generous pasture with a goat shed in the center of it. Now, in place of the milk goats Aunt Beth had raised, there were two cows chewing cud listlessly. Beyond that, stood the modest farmhouse where Aunt Beth had lived, and where she and Sarah’s father had grown up. Smoke curled from the chimney.

“So many memories.” Sarah exhaled, feeling both joy and sorrow at the sight of her long-gone childhood. “I hope the family living here is happy.”

“Too bad we can’t go inside,” Eli commented.

“I suppose we could always knock and ask.” Sarah shrugged. She glanced at Eli, and when he agreed, she led him around the fence to the front door of the house. “Ah, I forgot about this knocker,” she said, tracing the bronze gargoyle knocker with her fingertip after knocking. “I always thought it was so cool, but now I realize how out of place it was against this modest little house.”

A woman carrying a baby on her hip opened the door. The minute she saw Sarah, her face softened in recognition. “You must be the little girl in all of those photos we found in the attic,” she cried. “Beth Spellwood’s niece?”

“Yes,” Sarah said happily. “You found pictures?”

“Well, yes, we did, and we have them. We tried to send them to family, but we couldn’t find an address. Come on in!” The woman stepped aside and ushered Sarah and Eli into the house. “Oh, hello,” she greeted Addie, also welcoming her inside.

“Puppy!” several kids cried as they flocked around the dog. Addie rolled on the floor and showed her belly happily as the kids scratched it.

“My kids love dogs, as you can see.” The woman laughed. “I’m Meg, by the way.” She set the baby down and shook Eli’s and Sarah’s hands as they introduced themselves. Then she excused herself to retrieve the pictures. “You can take a look around, if you want,” she called over her shoulder.

Sarah stepped into the kitchen. “The cauldron is gone.” She sighed, noticing the open fireplace with its hanging cauldron was now replaced with an oven. The fridge was also new and covered in kids’ art, with none of the strange recipes and spells that AuntmBeth kept on it.

Eli placed a comforting hand on her elbow. “You can’t expect it to be the same.”

“I know. It’s just so different.” Sarah sighed, breathing in the smell of the macaroni bubbling on the stove for lunch. “Well, actually, it seems like a happy home, and I’m just glad these people love it.”

Meg reappeared with the photos. “Here you go!”

Sarah smiled as she sifted through them. “That was my goat!” she cried, showing Eli the photo of the black-and-white goat hanging his head over her shoulder.

“You were cute,” Eli said. “So many freckles.” Teasingly, he touched her cheek, pretending to count the freckles she still had.

“She sure was,” Meg said, nodding her head in agreement. Then she added in an undertone, “Do you want to go upstairs? I have to ask you about some things about this house . . .”

Sarah and Eli followed Meg up the narrow staircase to a landing. Meg paused in front of a door. “Um, I hate to mention this, but . . . I know the reputation of Lativia Spellwood.”

Sarah smiled and nodded. “That is my ancestor, and the founder of Witchland.” Then she narrowed her eyes knowingly. “Let me guess, weird things happen around this house?”

“Yes, well, Neil and I don’t—well, we didn’t believe in that stuff. Not at all. But after moving here . . .” Meg bit her lip, looking nervously from Sarah to Eli.

“We don’t think you’re crazy, don’t worry,” Sarah assured her. “Weird things happen in Witchland, and especially in this house. It did house three generations of witches.” She and Eli exchanged knowing glances and then laughed, sharing memories of the many magical misadventures they had been on together in their efforts to protect Witchland from both Madras and greedy developers.

“Oh, good. I wasn’t sure where you stood with all of that.” Meg laughed nervously and gathered her hair into a ponytail. “Well, you see, we took the master bedroom here and . . .” She opened the door and pointed within.

Sarah stepped into her aunt’s old bedroom. As if she were a child again, she could remember the four-post bed that took up most of the space, and the rolltop desk where Aunt Beth sat to pay her bills and write letters. Though the décor was different, the atmosphere of the room still felt like Aunt Beth: calm, sweet, earthy, loving. Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes.

“We keep cutting them back.” Meg led them to the window, where several flowers emerged from the wooden frame, vibrant and colorful. They were growing without soil and without water. “We’re not really sure how they keep growing.”

Sarah touched one of the blue flowers gently. “My aunt Beth loved her flowers, her garden, her goats. She was part of nature—so it seemed.” She turned to Meg. “These are enchanted flowers that she grew because she thought they were pretty. The only way to remove them would be to break the enchantment.”

“Oh.” Meg looked worried. “I have no idea how to do that.”

“I can bring some friends of mine by who can do that. If you don’t mind, can I have them?” Sarah imagined planting them in her own room and always having a piece of Aunt Beth near her.

“Of course! I would hate to kill them, but it’s just, well . . .” Meg shrugged haplessly. “Not our choice of décor. I hope that doesn’t offend you.”

“I get it.” Sarah nodded. “It is your home now.”

“Um, there’s one other thing.” Meg led them into the bathroom next and pointed to the blue tiles over the clawfoot bathtub, where Sarah had spent many afternoons pretending she was a mermaid in a frothy ocean of soap bubbles, with an army of rubber duckies to do her bidding.

Sarah smiled softly as she ran her fingers along the porcelain of the tub, entranced by her memories. Eli watched her, vicariously enjoying her reminiscing through the expressions on her face.

Meg turned on the shower. Gradually, words began to form across the tiles as the steam started to bloom from the water. Sarah squinted and realized that it was a spell for making the room smell like roses. Just as soon as she read the spell in her mind, the bathroom flooded with the flowery scent. “Aunt Beth’s scent,” Sarah murmured. “I always just thought it was a perfume.”

It’s strong, like Margaret and Hua’s greenhouse,” Addie complained, backing away toward the door.

“Any way you can break this enchantment? We love this scent, but . . .” Meg again looked hapless.

Sarah acquiesced and said a quick spell to erase the enchantment.

Spell be gone,

You have grown wan.

You have done well,

But it’s no time to

Instantly, the words began to unfurl and stretch until they made a popping sound like bubbles and ran down the walls in streams of black ink. Then the ink grew clear and disappeared. The rose scent began to gently fade. If only I could capture that scent in a bottle, Sarah thought. I have to enchant my bathroom to do that so that I can always smell Aunt Beth’s rose scent.

“I’m so sorry, and thank you so much,” Meg said
profusely as she showed them out. She handed Sarah the pictures in a bundle.

“Thank you for letting us inside and these pictures. I’ll definitely treasure them. I’ll come back with my friends, Margaret and Hua, later. They will transplant the flowers for you and remove the enchantment,” Sarah promised.

As she, Eli, and Addie walked back into town, Sarah sighed. “It’s so hard to let go of the past and watch things change. I sure miss my aunt Beth.”

“Can you visit her, you know, in that ghostly clearing?” Eli inquired. He was referring to the place where ghosts communed with Lativia Spellwood’s ghost on the top of Mount Katribus.

“She moved on to the other side,” Sarah said sadly. Then she interlaced her fingers with Eli’s and cuddled against his muscular shoulder. “I miss her, but I know she’s in a good place. And I’m very happy with how my life is now. I can only embrace the present.”

Eli kissed the top of her head, and Sarah felt happy. “I think Aunt Beth would have adored you,” she told Eli. 



About the Author:

Melanie Snow is the pen name for Wendy Van de Poll, a bestselling author, pet loss grief coach, and animal medium. She is the author of The Spellwood Witches, a paranormal cozy mystery series.
Her books weave together positive magic, snarky forest faeries, and insightful animals with fun and eclectic humor. True life adventures and intuition are woven into her stories laced with unbridled imagination. She has been followed by wild wolves in minus sixty degrees, hissed at by a mama bobcat, and played ball with a wild owl—among other animal encounters.
Find out more about her work at:




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Spotlight, Excerpt & Special Feature: Crows Curse Series

Morrigan’s Blood Crow’s Curse Laura Bickle

Morrigan’s Blood
Crow’s Curse, #1
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Out Sept. 25, 2020
Number of pages: 188
Word Count: 57000

Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?

Morrigan's Bite Crow's Curse Laura Bickle

Morrigan’s Bite
Crow’s Curse, #2
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Out October 23, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing


Becoming a vampire was the worst thing to ever happen to Garnet Conners. But does she have to become a monster, too?

Garnet had a beautiful life…and it was stolen from her when she was turned into a vampire against her will. Once a successful trauma surgeon with good friends, she now finds herself hiding out in the basement of a coven house governed by hostile witches. Struggling with her vampiric urges, she despairs of ever returning to her former life.

Garnet’s discovered that she’s an incarnation of the legendary Morrigan. She dreams in blood, of the Morrigan’s other bloodthirsty incarnations over the centuries. Garnet’s dreams reveal her previous existence as Erzebet Bathory, and Garnet fears becoming that monster once again.

With the help of the witches, she attempts to learn to use her magical powers to control her vampiric nature…an experiment that ends in disaster. When her sister and friend go missing, Garnet knows she’s being hunted by vampires who will stop at nothing to bring her back into their fold.

Merrel, the vampire who turned her, offers her a bargain. He will return the abducted women, but Garnet must agree to spend three nights with him, training as a vampire. Garnet reluctantly accepts, but she fears giving in to her vampire nature and becoming the killer of the previous lifetime she’s reliving in her dreams.

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Morrigan's Bond Crow's Curse Laura Bickle

Morrigan’s Bond
Crow’s Curse, #3
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy
Out November 19, 2020
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC


To end the war between vampires and witches, Garnet must battle the queen of the vampires, a woman who the Morrigan narrowly escaped in the skies of World War II.

Garnet Conners, incarnation of the legendary Morrigan, has pieced her life back together. After being turned into a vampire against her will, she’s quit her career as a surgeon and taken a job on the night shift at the city morgue. To her dismay, victims of vampires are piling up at the morgue…including the body of the vampire who turned her, Merrel.

Merrel’s faked his own death to set into motion a plot to wrest control of Riverpointe’s vampires from their queen, Varya. If Garnet helps him, he promises to move the vampires away from Riverpointe entirely, leaving Garnet and her lover, the warlock Sorin, in peace.

But Garnet’s haunted by dreams of her prior incarnations as Alix, one of the pilots of the fabled Night Witches in World War II. Alix fought Varya during the war… and was nearly destroyed by her. Varya held a magical artifact hostage, the magical sword Durendal, which she still uses to control the Asra hive of vampires.

When the vampires burn down the witches’ coven house, Garnet and her allies must locate the vampires’ stronghold. She, Merrel, and the surviving witches must rip Durendal away from Varya…or the city and all its supernatural inhabitants will be devoured in flames.

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Holiday Extravaganza Excerpt

Excerpt Book One:

“What have you got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.
I backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.
One of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”
“Well, that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the unholy mess on the middle of my table.
This. I’m supposed to fix this.
A man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his scraped-up arms.
My nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage go? Did he get a CT?”
A nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images. I squinted at them, muttering dark oaths.
“Radiologist says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”
I stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”
“Will do.”
I gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was moving, there was a chance for him
I frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes, nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.
My eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a laceration at his throat.
I gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take a few extra stitches.
I stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin, I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this party started…
…when the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.
I yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual hell?”
The OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.
But he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist, whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.
I held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you comfortable and—”
The guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.
I swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR 6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.
I straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him, and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone in the OR.
The patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself, that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved surgery after that.
“No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”
“I don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”
“No,” he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can protect Emily.”
He turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.
“No, wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.
He rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.
I rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like a bug under a shoe.
Curt had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”
“He jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell, barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”
I burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.
“Stand aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown weren’t warning enough.
But he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.
“That man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man, figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal person would.
. But he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.
“You can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent.
My eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the remaining way to ground level.
I rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.
“What the actual hell—”
The patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.
That’s impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took two steps toward him…
…and a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated their long shadows on the pavement.
I breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him back to my OR.
But…my brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on him as he turned, screaming.
“Stop!” I shouted.
Heads turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.
The man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of this.”
“Don’t tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the fracas.
The shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.
I yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my dropped French fries.
Overhead, the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one could see.
Or at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway, headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad above.
As my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all were gone.
Ambulance lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.
“Where’d the guy go?” a security guard asked me.
A moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my face. I batted at it, grimacing.
“I don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”
The moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.
With bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights, voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth, stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and light.


Holiday Extravaganza Feature

the deer with its fire horns standing on rocks in winter landscape, digital art style, illustration painting

By Laura Bickle

The white stag
Hunted through years and centuries
Evades its pursuers, kings and huntsmen alike.
He has a more important mission.
He hunts too, you see
For the sun in winter.

He follows the sun south,
Moving through forests blanketed by snow
Past trees stripped of leaves.
He searches out that cold orb in the sky,
Chasing it
Until it kisses the horizon on the solstice.

He captures it in his mighty antlers.
And carries that glowing source of light and life
Past the darkness and snows
Into the new year
Into the warmth and possibilities of the future.

Sunset in the wood in winter period

Winter Solstice
By Laura Bickle

The Oak King rules in sunshine
Over the lush green of spring and summer’s heat
Leaves and grasses whisper his name
While young birds chatter in trees
And frogs murmur deep in rivers, surrounded
By cicadia song.
The Oak King rules in a cacophony of sound,
The seething, shimmering swirl of life.

The Holly King stalks him
As the chirps of crickets fade
Growing stronger as the leaves fall from the trees
And the days grow short.
The Oak King, his power dwindling, walks among bare trees.
His birds are silent, the frogs hibernating.
Life has gone to slumber
Blanketed by the cold glitter of frost.

The Holly King strikes the Oak King down.
The Oak King exhales his last steaming breath
As snow muffles the world.
This is the Holly King’s realm,
Stars shining down on a field of snow.

But on the Winter Solstice
The Oak King awakens.
His power is dim, quiet.
But he grows in strength
As the sun moves north in the sky.
In the coming months, he will hunt down the Oak King.
And summer will rule once again.

So it has ever been, the war of sound and silence.

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About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Queen’s Ascension + Giveaway

Queen’s Ascension
Blood Prophecy, #3
Barb Jones
Genre: Paranormal
Publisher: World Castle
Date of Publication: August 17, 2020
ISBN: 9781953271013 / 9781953271020
Number of pages: 236 pages
Word Count: 86107 words
Cover Artist: Steven J. Catizone

Bloodshed. Heartbreak. Revelation.

When the darkness was compelling and the heart knew no bounds, was there really a right choice? With Michael’s life hanging in the balance, Amber had a choice: save her star-fated love or keep on the crusade to unite the magical community.

For Amber, her fate was sealed even before her birth and it was her destiny to fight the great battle ahead of her. But, when it came to her heart — her friends, her great love — Amber’s torn. Not only was she the Queen, but she was a human in every sense of the word. She was vulnerable. And so the very people — Chloe and Michael — that gave her strength, quickly became her weakness. It wasn’t her fault she loved too much, was it?

Nevertheless, the Tall Dark Man had set a plan in motion that could threaten the very existence of the Blood Prophecy. Would he gather his dark forces and succeed in destroying Amber once and for all? Or, would she assemble her powerful friends and save the world?

Amazon  /  BN



Whether you look forward to the
presents, the cookies, the food, the music, there is one part of Christmas that
also stands out.  Yes – THE CHRISTMAS
MOVIES!  No Christmas season would be
complete without the movies.  I’m not
really talking about the Hallmark Christmas Movies, but the movies that can be
seen with the whole family, all ages, for a night of laughter and fun.  I mean, who doesn’t like Buddy the Elf, for

Take for example, a family with
teens (that’s me!).  It is hard nowadays
to pull them away for baking cookies, decorating the tree, all those holiday
memories that they participated in when they were smaller.  That time has been replaced with technology,
video games, social media, you name it.
Let’s be honest here.  Not many
teens nowadays want to bake cookies but they will be the first in line to take
a cookie fresh out of the oven.

But one thing I can count on in
spending time with my teens during Christmas is watching Christmas Movies.  Not all, but certain ones.  Buddy the Elf, for example, brings forth a
sense of humor, comedy antics and his high level of energy that will engage the
teens as well as the rest of the family.
I put Buddy the Elf on at least once a Christmas season and my teens
will curl up on the couch, with iPhones in their hand, but mostly they are
watching and laughing.  I even had my
oldest text her friends about the funny scenes and soon, one after another, asked
to come over to watch it with us.  To me,
it’s not about keeping the same traditions as your child grows, but to find
ones that still warm them up to the holidays.
The other movie that is a hit is Nightmare Before Christmas!  With these two, we have always had so much
fun keeping the Christmas spirit alive!

I will still bake the cookies,
decorate the house, even if I do it by myself or with my mother.   But the one tradition I can keep in my heart
as my teens continue to grow up is a Christmas Movie.  The key is to find that one movie or two that
they will laugh at, they will love, and no matter how much time is spent on the
movie, you are together with them and at the end of the day, that’s all that
matters.  I know this year will be
different.  Not a lot of people can
gather in one place, but there are creative ways to go about this.  I already told my daughter to set up a watch
party for her friends when we turn on Buddy the Elf!  I will even deliver Christmas cookies to her
friends so the only thing they are missing is being in the same room with

In fact, I am enclosing a
chocolate bark recipe to make that teens will love!


Ghirardelli’s Dark or Milk
Chocolate (4 oz at least)

Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate (4
oz at least)

*Miscellaneous toppings of your
choice (I use broken candy cane pieces, sprinkles, etc.)


1.       Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.       Melt Dark or Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate.    I prefer to melt in a pot compared to the
microwave.  Use a double boiler if you
have one.  You want it to be smooth and
creamy, fully melted.

3.       Pour the dark/milk chocolate over the parchment paper. 

4.       Drizzle the white chocolate over the chocolate. 

5.       Using a toothpick, swirl the white chocolate into the
dark/milk chocolate.

6.       Decorate the top as you desire.

7.       Place in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.  Longer is sometimes necessary.

8.       Once hardened, break into pieces.

*Serve this with a tasty chex mix
snack on the side!  The combination of
flavors will be a hit – My teens take a bite of bark then a handful of chex


Seattle, Present Day

With the
betterment of both Michael and Rae, Malakai was glad that they were well and
fine; nevertheless, he needed some time to decompress. All the magical
commotions that had occurred were too overwhelming for him. He needed some sort
of release.

He enjoyed the
brisk jog in the park, as he cut through the sharp wind of the cold night. But
this did nothing to lift his spirits. He was happy that Amber’s smile finally
met her eyes. That was all he’d ever wanted for her: happiness, that’s it.
There was nothing more he could ask for—she was his priority. Yet, in the back
of his mind, as in his heart, he couldn’t help but believe the ancient legend
that he’d heard so long ago was the certifiable truth, as it was written in
Eschmun’s scroll.

…her fate is
tied to the true alpha of the wolves. A blood drinker will stand formidable,
but it is the nature of the child to call upon the true alpha and bring him to
the queen’s inner heart.

Could this be
the truth? he often wondered as he traveled the world collecting artifacts and
evidence supporting this notion. Yes, he’d crafted a reliquary, quite
accidentally, and people assumed it was to keep the magic insulated, away from
the humans. But that wasn’t the case, at least not for him.  He so wanted to believe, just from the sheer
fact that it was said in the scroll. But Malakai was a man of logic, driven by
cold hard data. Although wanting to romanticize that his destiny was tied with
Amber’s, he needed confirmation. He wanted validation for the strong emotions
he was feeling. 


Zaraquel, Seattle,
Present Day

Walking the
cemetery grounds as she so often did without the knowledge of her parents,
Zaraquel wandered at a leisurely pace. She whipped out her phone and checked
the time, which read midnight. Her brow quirked in confusion, as she had expected
Loquiel some time ago. With her long hair styled in two braids and her bright
red coat to keep her warm, she sat down on a bench.

She was elated
that her best friend, other than the one that was currently running late, was
alive and breathing. Rae had given Zaraquel a terrible fright, for she had
never known the death of someone close to her heart. She shook, not from the
cold, but from remembering the tragic vision she had of Rae’s demise.

A throaty growl
awoke her from her thoughts. She heard the fast footfalls of someone,
something, running toward her, and she put her fight training to use. Zaraquel
spun around, so much so that her wings unfurled. But that did not deter the
undead man from attacking her. His decaying flesh was a sight she instantly
wished she could unsee, but she had to fulfill her duty and protect the people,
which meant ridding the world of this monster.

She punched him
in the stomach as her father had taught her, but that did nothing to stop him
from throwing his fists at her. She dodged his poor attempts at aiming for her
and grabbed his arm, twisting him around so he fell to his knees. Her weight on
his back caused the corpse to fall to the ground. It growled in anger, shaking
its head savagely, as if it couldn’t wait to get back to its feet. Zaraquel,
however, had plans of her own. She stood briefly to step on his neck to keep
him from moving, and whispered a spell she’d learned from a book.

obtruncato intestinisque extractis.”

She heard the
cracking of his bones, the stretching of his skin; with a pop! his head flew
off, gore spattering in every direction. His body went limp, as it was before
he had risen from the ground.

Zaraquel sighed
in frustration as she walked off, disappointed from another unnecessary and unjustified
kill. She continued to walk the grounds and felt a rush of warm wind, the kind
she felt every time Loquiel was near. She turned and there he was, right behind

About the Author:
Barb Jones was born in Hawaii, a place rich with culture and storytellers. As a little girl, scary tales about vampires, werewolves, angels, demons, and witches were her favorite kind — much to her mother’s dismay. Her love for the supernatural never went away, even after moving to Seattle, far from Hawaii’s majestic beaches with unusual colors. Despite the unmatched beauty in Hawaii, Seattle stole Barb’s heart and it’s here where her stories took on a new form, in a book of her own: The Adventures of Little Arthur and Merlin the Magnificent. 

Then, the idea for The Blood Prophecy came while she was sleeping. In a dream, Barb saw a unique storyline involving all the races and an epic battle of good versus evil. It was a modern-day plot with a three-thousand-year-old prophecy, The Blood Prophecy. Barb finished the first book in 2014, The Queen’s Destiny. Two years later, she released The Queen’s Enemy, and the third book in the series, The Queen’s Ascension, arrives on August 17, 2020. 

She is not only a paranormal thriller author but an IT professional and mother of two fantastic children.  Today, she resides in Florida but is still a Seattle girl at heart.

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