Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cover Reveal ~ Stone Legacy Series by Theresa DaLayne

I'm pleased to share the covers of this upcoming YA/NA paranormal romance series by Theresa DaLayne. Be sure to enter her contest at the bottom of this post.

Stone Legacy Series
Prequel
Theresa DaLayne

Genre: YA/NA paranormal romance.

Publisher:  Itza Publishing
Date of Publication:  July 20th, 2015
Number of pages:  62 pages
Word Count:  15,000 words
Cover Artist:  Nadica En VonT
and Elle J Rossi

Book Description:

Trapped between duty and desire, even a goddess is forced to choose.

When Ishel falls madly in love, the Mayan goddess is left with a choice. Fulfill her royal obligation and marry the god of war, or follow her heart and elope wit the deity who has true claim over her heart—Kinich, ruler of the sun.

Determined to have Ishel as his wife, the god of war will stop at nothing to ensure their betrothal. Left with no other choice, she flees the heavens. But there is more at stake than even a goddess can foresee. An unexpected surprise awaits...One destined to challenge her immortality.

Without the goddess to tend to mankind’s plants and flowers, the middle world will surely perish. And how will she live on to protect the single person who needs her most?

Available at Amazon

Stone Guardian

Stone Legacy Series
Book 1
Theresa DaLayne

Genre: Ya/NA paranormal romance

Publisher: Itza Publishing
Date of Publication: July 20th, 2015 
Number of pages:  300
Word Count:  81,000
Cover Artist:  Nadica En VonT
and Elle J Rossi

Book Description: 


Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of the dark entity that dreams, and not a brutal case of self-harm.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Maya descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision. Bond with an enchanted stone and save mankind from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

When a dark-eyed timebender takes interest in Zanya's mission, it's unclear if his intention is to help, or if he's on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for a man with a major secret and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.

Available at Amazon

Interlude

Stone Legacy Series
Book 2
Theresa DaLayne

Genre: YA/NA paranormal romance

Publisher: Itza Publishing
Date of Publication: August 20th, 2015
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 35,000
Cover Artist:  Nadica En VonT
and Elle J Rossi

Book Description:

She may have spent years in an asylum, but that didn’t make her crazy–just fearless.

Dropped in Moscow with her friends on an impossible mission against underworld forces, Tara is left to her feelings of overwhelming inadequacy. Her boyfriend is a healer, her best friend is “the Guardian,” and everyone else is a powerhouse of awesome strengths. The only thing she has been able to contribute are her memories, which has left her with nightmares of her time spent at the mercy of the evil Sarian–who everyone has gone to fight.

Alone with her emotions, Tara finds herself falling into a city of depravity and corruption. And amidst all this evil is a young man with an agenda of his own, who leads her down a road that will either prove she is a hero at heart, or drag her into a world she’s always feared.

He wants revenge, she wants redemption. And in an underground rings of missing girls and bloody sacrifices, only the fearless can survive…

About the Author:

A long time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and features articles to delve into the whimsical world of young adult paranormal romance.

Since then, Theresa has gotten married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and was repeatedly guilt tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having stepped foot on the soil of over a dozen countries, traveled to dozens of U.S. states—including an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. But wherever life brings her, she will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.


GIVEAWAY:

4, $5 gift cards for Amazon
*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Disciple Series is now complete! Interview with L. Blankenship about her new release, Disciple VI

Today, I'm so pleased to have L. Blankenship return and share with my readers about her new release, Disciple VI, the end to her fantastic Disciple Series.

If Kate, the crown prince, and the knight had not changed the path of the war, what might have happened to the kingdom?

If the three of them hadn't been there to play their parts, the kingdom would have suffered far worse and more quickly. The saints recognized the talents in each of them and arranged for them to meet each other precisely because they were all needed to help defend the kingdom – things got complicated from there, though.

What tasks will Kate be able to perform as an elect?

“Elect” is a far-ranging role. Kate is her saint's right hand, so in the case of going to war she's expected to do whatever is needed in support of the cause and the kingdom. She was trained as a healer, originally, but she's moved beyond that. Over the winter, the saints kept her busy training for battle – as a peasant girl, she never dreamed she'd need that.

What are some of the ways Kate has grown through the course of this series?

Kate started out good-hearted but uncertain and easily bossed around. The secret mission in Part I started the work of toughening her up and building her confidence, and her increasing responsibilities have kept upping the ante throughout the series. The stakes have risen as well. She's taken some hard knocks along the way, but she hasn't given up.

Which of those do you think Kate would be most proud of? Which elements of her growth are you, as the author, most pleased with in realizing her development?

Kate's too overwhelmed at this point to think in terms of being proud of her accomplishments. The impending war and having to face the cause of her heartbreak is dominating her life. Personally, I respect her determination and how tough she's become since the start of Part I. She was something of a lesson to me, in that.

How do you feel about ending the series? Happy, accomplished, relieved, sad, bittersweet?

Back when I finished writing Disciple, there were lots of mental high-fives and hugs with the characters...and then we all went home and collapsed into bed, so to speak. There was a good deal of relief that it was over. We all needed a break from each other!

What writing project will be next for you?

I've written a few novels/novellas in the meantime – it's actually been a couple years since I finished Disciple. My current WIP is an urban fantasy medical drama. When I finish that, I think it's time to start polishing the three hard sci fi stories that have been waiting very patiently for attention. Hopefully there will be announcements on my blog soon!


Blurb: 
War is coming. Kate Carpenter is only a peasant girl, but she’s determined to help defend the kingdom and its bound saints against the invading empire. Her healing magic earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the master healer; now she must prove herself ready to stand in the front lines and save lives.

She’s not ready for the attentions of a ne’er-do-well knight and the kingdom’s only prince, though. This is no time to be distracted by romance — the empire’s monstrous army will tear through anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical founts. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.

Disciple
the six-part gritty fantasy romance series is now complete!

Disciple Omnibus
collects all six books • save big!
Doorstop paperbacks at Amazon

Download Disciple, Part I for free!
Email me if you can’t get it for free: blankenship.louise at gmail


For More Information:
Visit the DISCIPLE series blog at http://discipleofthefount.blogspot.com.
*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Friday, April 10, 2015

D.E.A.R. = “Drop Everything And Read” #Amazon Sale of #Fantasy and #Science-Fiction Books/Ebooks April 10-12, 2015


To celebrate “Drop Everything And Read Day" (D.E.A.R.) the Fantasy and Science-Fiction Network (#FSFnet), of which I am a proud member, is having an excellent book/ebook sale April 10 – 12, 2015 on Amazon.

For a list of participating authors, free and discounted books and links to the sale on Amazon, go to FSFnet’s website page.

When and what is D.E.A.R.?
D.E.A.R. programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Ramona Quimby, Age 8 (pages 40-41). Inspired by letters from readers sharing their enthusiasm for the D.E.A.R. activities implemented in their schools, Mrs. Cleary decided to give the same experience to Ramona and her classmates. As D.E.A.R. has grown in popularity and scope, the program has expanded to span the entire month of April.

To spread the celebration, I'm offering Seeking a Scribe, the first of my Enchanted Bookstore Legends, at a sale price of 99¢ during April 10-12. 


Get involved with the adventure, magic, dragons, wizards, and romance!


Available on Amazon.


Seeking a Scribe: Enchanted Bookstore Legend One by Marsha A. Moore
Genre: epic fantasy romance




Description:

Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he’s a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume…or the story’s magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love. 

His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She’s torn—should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love? 

Opening the book’s cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own power…and time is running out.

Series Description:

The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.

*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Featured book release: Bound, a new adult/paranormal book by AM Hudson

Bound

Bound Series
Book One
AM Hudson

Genre: New Adult/Paranormal

Publisher: AM Hudson
Date of Publication: April 20th 2015
ASIN: B00U1UCN9U
Word Count: 112, 000
Cover Artist: AM Hudson

Book Description:

Elora can speak to the dead, but she has an affinity with the undead.

Born of immortal blood, her curse not set to trigger until around her twenty-fifth year, she was sent away to remain unaware of and hidden from the world of magic. And from vampires. But after Elora befriends the cocky, self-loving Ric Mason, she discovers secrets about him and his distant link to her family that reshape her entire world.

A dark, sexy three-book series that will have you screaming for more...

Preorder at Amazon

Excerpt:

In my state of distraction, I hadn’t noticed how far into the prison we’d walked. I passed the other tour group on my way out, trying really hard not to advise a few people to check over their shoulders, and when I reached the yard, I stopped dead. A wide space of black grass, darkened by the absence of the orange lights and by the high cream wall, stared back at me, empty and oddly quiet. Usually, there were other groups lingering after their tours, but tonight … no one. Nothing. Not even flashes of torchlight showing the whereabouts of the rent-a-cops.
A cold shiver passed over me, pushing the summer heat away from the thick walls behind me.
I put my head down and brought my shoulders up, making myself as small as possible, casting my eyes to the glowing streetlight outside the prison gates. A hundred paces across the yard, that’s all that stood between me and freedom. A hundred paces through almost pitch darkness. A hundred paces past four ghosts that just made themselves visible to me, knowing I could see them.
They all looked up as I stepped out onto the grass, their eyes falling on the tight fist of fear in my chest. My heart raced as each step drew me closer, and I tried to remind myself that they had no physical power. They couldn't actually hurt me. I hoped.
Tales of horror, of the tortures and other atrocities that led these murderers to prison, filled my head as I walked between them. I could feel the hairs stick up on the back of my neck as another one came up behind me. I wasn’t sure who it was, but his energy felt dark and menacing. Every cell in my body screamed at me to turn around and just take one look. But if I did, or if I ran, they’d know I was afraid and they’d feed on that—they’d follow me, most likely outside the prison walls and to my car. If I let them think they had no power over me, they might let me be once I reached the gates.
My breath hitched and my stride shortened as I quickened my pace. I hugged my chest, holding tight to the keys, but as I my heart leaped forward, just six steps away from the gates, my hand went loose for no reason and the keys dropped to the ground. The clunk didn't register until I stepped outside the prison walls and as I spun around to look back at the shiny metal cluster—a few steps away into the pitch blackness I’d just walked through—the spirits closed in, standing shoulder to shoulder. No faces now. No form. Just wavering pulses of light. They hovered there just in front of the keys as if challenging me to cross the threshold back into the prison.

About the Author:


AM Hudson lives and works in Australia. She has four sons, a husband that plays in a band, and writing is her full-time job. In her spare time she reads books and spends too much time on Facebook.

Some of her works include: The Dark Secrets Series (complete), and Willa Wicked.



*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Time Stands Still in the Weird West ~guest post by Laura Bickle, author of Dark Alchemy #contest


I'm so happy to have Laura Bickle back on my blog to share her latest release--Dark Alchemy--with my readers. The apparently quiet old West town of Temperance sounds so creepy and fun...and probably is not as quiet as first appears. Find out more in her guest article and be sure to check out her contest at the end of this post. 



Time Stands Still in the Weird West
By Laura Bickle

Ever been to one of those places where time stands still, and it gives you the willies?

The town of Temperance is like that for geologist Petra Dee. She’s come here to escape her own personal demons and to search for her father, missing for ten years. She’s hoping to find peace and closure, but she must confront the supernatural weirdness that’s infested Temperance for more than a hundred years.

Built at the edge of Yellowstone National Park and ranch land, Temperance has changed little over the past century. Founded by an alchemist back in the Gold Rush days, Temperance flourished as long as rocks were transformed into gold. But the alchemist, Lascaris, perished in a suspicious fire, and the town’s economy tanked.

While the town withered, Lascaris left behind many half-finished alchemical experiments. Time stood still for the Hanged Men, the local undead. A product of Lascaris’s botched attempts to unlock the secret of eternal life, the Hanged Men are bound to the land, to the Alchemical Tree of Life that stands on a ruthless cattle baron’s land. The Hanged Men must return to the tree every night to decompose and regenerate, stuck in an incomplete alchemical process.

Gabriel is the oldest of the Hanged Men. He’s always in the company of his raven familiars, his spies on the world, while he masquerades as a ranch hand. Time has been kinder to Gabriel than the others. Later generations of the Hanged Men retained less and less of their humanity and memory as the power of the tree waned. For over a century, they’ll do anything in their power to preserve the tree, even kill for it.


When Petra unearths a golden compass, dating back to Lascaris’s era, she is forced to suspend her skepticism of the town’s origins. The pretty artifact has the power to locate magic, and it’s fueled by blood. The compass leads her to the door of the Hanged Men and places her in the crosshairs of the local drug lord, himself an heir to Lascaris’sold magic. When twisted and calcinated bodies turn up that Petra can’t explain scientifically, she’ll have to rely on her wits to escape the town that time forgot, or die trying. 
  

Dark Alchemy
Laura Bickle

On-sale: 3/24  

ISBN: 9780062389862

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.

Book Description:

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up - desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain - her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Available at  

Amazon    BN   


About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has 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 HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.


Tour Giveaway:

1 copy of  Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle
*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's release day for Witch's Moonstone Locket: A Coon Hollow Coven Tale, a #PNR by Marsha A. Moore



The day has finally come for me to share this new series! I've been writing this one in my mind for several years. It's set in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington, where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The book is rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel.
Genre: New adult Paranormal romance
Description:
Twenty-three-year-old Jancie Sadler was out of the room when her mother died, and her heart still longs for their lost goodbye. Aching to ease her sorrow, Aunt Starla gives Jancie a diary that changes her entire life. In entries from the 1930s, her great grandmother revealed how she coped with her own painful loss by seeking out a witch from nearby Coon Hollow Coven. The witch wore the griever’s moonstone locket, which allowed whoever could unlock its enchantment to talk with the dead. 
Determined to find that locket, Jancie goes to the coven’s annual carnival held in her small southern Indiana town of Bentbone. This opposes her father’s strict rule: stay away from witches. But she’s an adult now and can make her own decisions. She meets Rowe McCoy, the kind and handsome witch who wears the moonstone. He agrees to let her try to open the locket, but they’re opposed by High Priestess Adara and her jealous desire to possess him. Desperate for closure with her mother, Jancie persists and cannot turn away from a perilous path filled with magic, romance, and danger.  

Here's the Goodreads link for you to add the book to your TBR list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24807853-witch-s-moonstone-locket

For special book contests and news about my upcoming releases, sign up for my newsletter using this link: http://bit.ly/MarshaAMooreNewsletter

Excerpt:
from Chapter One: Great Aunt Starla’s Cornbread


Warm rain mixed with Jancie’s tears, and she rose to stand beside her mother’s grave. She bent at the waist and her fingers followed the arc of her mother’s name—Faye Sadler—in the headstone. From numerous visits, she knew the unyielding shape well. The word goodbye stuck in her throat. She’d said it aloud many times since her mother died six months ago, only to have the cemetery’s vast silence swallow her farewells. Rain beaded on the polished granite. Her hand, bearing her mother’s silver ring, slid down the stone and fell to her side.

If only she could’ve said goodbye to her mother before she died. After years of caring for her mom while she suffered with cancer, Jancie had missed the final parting moment while getting a quick bite of dinner. The pain still cut like a knife in her gut.

On foot, she retraced the too-familiar path toward her work at the Federal Bank. Although she’d landed a job as manager at the largest of the three banks in the small town of Bentbone, the position was a dead end. Within the first six months, she’d mastered all the necessary skills. Now, after a year, only the paycheck kept her there.

Jancie turned onto Maple Street. As usual, wind swept up the corridor, between old shade trees protecting houses, and met her at the top of the tall hill. September rain pelted her face and battled the Indian summer noontime temperatures. She zipped the rain parka to keep her dress dry, pulled on the strings of the hood, and corralled strands of ginger-colored hair that whipped into her eyes. She gazed farther into the valley, where the view spanned almost a mile out to the edge of town. Usually, farmers moved tractors across the road or boys raced skateboards and bikes down Maple Street’s long slope.

Today, on the deserted acreage just east of Bentbone, people moving in and out through a gate of the tall wooden fence breathed life into the rundown carnival. Surprised, Jancie crossed the street for a better view. She’d lost track of life around her since Mom passed. The coming Labor Day weekend in Bentbone meant the valley coven’s yearly carnival. She and her girlfriends always looked forward to the cute guys, fair food, and amazing magical rides and decorations, even if her father didn’t approve of witches or magic. The residents of the sleepy town awoke to welcome a host of tourists wanting to see the spectacle created by the witches of Coon Hollow Coven.

Somehow, Jancie had forgotten the big event this year. Last year, she didn’t go since Mom was so sick and couldn’t be left. Jancie sighed and turned onto the main street toward the bank. She’d lost so much since her mother passed. Really, since the diagnosis of cancer.

At that time, four years ago, Jancie withdrew as a sophomore from Hanover College, a select, private school in southern Indiana near the Kentucky border—too far away. Instead, she returned to stay with her mother and commuted to Indiana University. Balancing hours with the home health care nurse, Jancie had few choices of career paths. Not that it mattered, since her remarried father expected her to find a job in Bentbone and continue taking care of her mother. Despite the sacrifices, Jancie loved her mother, who’d always managed money for a few special things for Jancie—a new bike, birthday parties, prom dresses—even though their income was tight. Mom had paid for her tuition and listened to every new and exciting college experience.

Jancie smiled at the memory of Mom’s twinkling brown eyes, that mirrored her own, when she asked about what happened during the day’s classes: if Jancie liked the professor; if she’d made new friends.

When she rounded the last corner, she returned to her work day. At the bleak, limestone bank building, reality hit. Jancie pulled against the heavy glass door, and a gust swept her inside. She peeled off the drenched jacket and hung it on the coat rack of her small, plain office.

Through the afternoon’s doldrums, punctuated by only a handful of customers, her mind wandered to the carnival. She’d gone dozens of times before and loved it. But since Mom passed, nothing seemed fun anymore, like she couldn’t connect with herself and had forgotten how to have a good time. She organized a stack of notes, anything to put the concern out of her mind.

***
After work, Jancie drove her old blue Camry the five miles to the other end of town where she lived in her mother’s white frame house, the home where she grew up, now hers. Glad to own her own place, unlike her friends who rented, she’d made a few easy changes. In the living room, a new brown leather couch with a matching chair and ottoman. She replaced the bedroom furniture with a new oak suite for herself in what used to be her mother’s room. With pay saved from the bank, Jancie could remodel or build on, but she didn’t know what she wanted yet. Her great aunt Starla had told her to just wait and hold onto her money; she’d know soon enough.

Pouring rain soaked the hem of her dress as she darted between the garage shed and back stoop of the small ranch house.

Glad she’d chosen to get her run in this morning before work, she changed into cozy sweats, pulled the long part of her tapered hair into a ponytail, and headed for the kitchen.

Her phone alerted her of a text, and she read the message from her friend Rachelle, always the social director of their group: R we going to the carnival?

Jancie typed a response. I guess. R Lizbeth and Willow going?

Yep whole gang. What day?

Don’t know yet. Get back to u. Jancie worried she’d spoil their fun. Even though they’d all been her best friends since high school and would understand her moodiness, she didn’t want to ruin one of the best times of the year for them. Since Mom passed, they’d taken her out to movies and shopping in Bloomington, but this was different. Could it ever match up to the fun of all the times before? “I don’t know if I’m up to that,” she said into open door of the old Kenmore refrigerator while rummaging for leftovers of fried chicken and corn.

The meal satisfied and made her thankful she’d learned how to cook during those years with Mom. Not enough dishes to bother with the dishwasher, one of the modern upgrades to the original kitchen, Jancie washed the dishes by hand and then called Starla. When she answered, Jancie asked, “Can I come over tonight? There’s something I’m needing your opinion on.”

“Why sure, Jancie. C’mon over,” the eighty-five-year-old replied with her usual warm drawl. “Are you wantin’ dinner? I made me some soup beans with a big hambone just butchered from Bob’s hog. My neighbor Ellie came over and had some. She said they were the best she’s eaten.”

Jancie glanced at the soggy rain parka and opted for an umbrella instead. “No, I just ate. Be right over.” Keys and purse in hand, she hung up and darted for the shed.

Five minutes later, she turned onto the drive of the eldercare apartments and parked under the steel awning where Starla gave her a whole arm wave from her picture window. Jancie made her way to number twelve on the first floor.

The door opened, and Starla engulfed Jancie in a bear hug, pulling her into the pillow of a large, sagging bosom. Starla smelled of her signature scent—rosewater and liniment.

Jancie had loved her great aunt’s hugs as long as she could remember. Stress and worry melted away, and she hugged back. Her arm grazed Starla’s white curls along the collar of her blue knit top embroidered with white stars—her great aunt’s favorite emblem.

“It’s so good to see you. Come sit a spell, while I get us some iced tea.” Starla pulled away and gestured to the microsuede couch decorated with three crocheted afghans in a rainbow of colors. “I thought we were done with this hot weather, but not quite yet. That rain today’s been a gully washer but didn’t cool things off much.” The large-boned woman scuffed her pink-house-slippered feet toward the kitchen. “Would you rather have pound cake from the IGA or homemade cornbread?”

Jancie laughed and followed her into the kitchen. She wouldn’t get through the visit without eating. “You’re just fishin’ for a compliment. You know your homemade cornbread is better.”

Starla arranged plates with thick slices of warm cornbread and big pats of butter on top, while Jancie transferred the refreshments to the aluminum dinette table.

“With your hair pulled back like that, you’re a dead ringer for your Ma. So pretty with that same sweetheart-shaped face.” Starla folded herself onto a chair beside Jancie. “You look to be getting on well…considering what all you’ve been through.”

“I’m doing okay,” Jancie said through a mouthful of the moist cornbread. She washed it down with a swallow of brisk tea that tasted fresh-brewed. “But sometimes, lots of times, I feel lost, like I can’t move on.” She ran a hand across her forehead. “I didn’t get to say goodbye. I spent time with her through all those years, and it shouldn’t matter, but it does every time I visit her grave and most every night in my dreams.”

“Oh, honey. I know it hurts.” Starla smoothed Jancie’s ponytail down the middle of her back and spoke with a voice so slow and warm, it felt like a handmade quilt wrapping around her.  “You spent all that time and gave so much. Just like when I cared for my husband some twenty years back. I know. I never got the chance to tell Harry goodbye either. Time will heal all hurts.”

Jancie looked down at the marbleized tabletop to hide her teary eyes. “I don’t think I’m ever going to heal, Aunt Starla. I don’t know if I can ever move on.”

“There is one thing you can try. I’d have done it, if I’d have known before decades softened my aching heart. Way back, I was desperate like you.”

Jancie looked into Starla’s blue-gray eyes, set deep inside wrinkled lids.

Her aunt leaned closer. “Not many know about this,” she whispered as if someone outside the apartment door might hear. “There’s an old story about how a member of the Coon Hollow Coven, one who’s recently lost a loved one, is made the teller of the moonstone tale.”

Jancie rolled her eyes. “That’s just a silly story, one of lots that Mom and Dad told to scare me when I was little, so I’d stay away from the coven. When the moonstone locket opens at the end of the tale, you’ll get your wish but also be cursed.”

“Oh no.” Starla shook her head and pushed away from the table. “Let me get Aunt Maggie’s old diary. I got this in a box of old family things when Cousin Dorothy passed.” She lumbered to her spare bedroom and returned with a worn, black-leather volume only a little larger than her wide palm. Once seated, she thumbed through the yellowed pages. “Here.” She pointed a finger and placed the book between them.
*~*~*
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy and fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous, epic fantasy romance. Or enjoy a magical realism tale of a haunted yoga studio with SHADOWS OF SERENITY. For a FREE ebook sample of her writing, read her historic fantasy short story, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.