3.21.2017

Premonitions: Supernatural or Science? #paranormal

A premonition is a strong feeling something is about to happen. They're mostly associated with bad events. Perhaps because impressions of tragedy are stronger than impressions of wonderful.

The premonitions I most clearly recall are those associated with bad events. Way back when I lived in Northern Virginia, I stopped at a corner market after work to pick up a few things. There was this man standing there. When he looked at me, I had the most unshakable feeling of awful. I mean, I felt horror in my bones. Later that evening, my car was stolen.

When I moved into a new apartment in NYC, I had a nasty dream about a dark shadow trying to get inside. I couldn't run down the hall to shut the door fast enough. Needless to say, they were the worst landlords ever.

Are they premonitions, or am I picking up on information my brain doesn't know how to fully process? So it comes across as a terrible vibe, a really terrible vibe?

I've also had good ones. Usually if I dream I did well on a test, I did very well on a test.

Premonitions are actually quite common. There may be a scientific explanation for them. They may be bred into our genes. Being able to react quickly to information that isn't easily quantifiable would have helped our ancestors survive. It can help us survive, if we listen.

I believe in my case, I was picking up on signals and information I wasn't fully conscious of at the time. What do you believe? Is it scientific or is it something more?

Premonition came into my life recently when misreading a road sign. Oddly, it was while visiting the real Oregon town that inspires Settler, the town featured in my series, The Rifters. I thought the sign said, Premonition Center. It did not. I can't remember what it really said, but I took the sign literally as a sign for the next book.

It was such a funny occurrence in a place associated with my series, I knew I had to use it. It's 'a sign' after all.

The main street in Fossil, Oregon. I use it almost exactly as the main street in Settler. Just past the stop sign on the left-hand side is the library. At the end of the street is the high school and the fossil beds. Sight of the infamous volcanic killer bee attack.


Have you ever had a premonition? What about?




3.14.2017

Ceylon, Elle & April - 3 generations of women & the water sprite who helped them

For our last Elements anthology, Sprits in the Water I spin a three-generational tale of strong women and the sprite who helps them. Ceylon was a dancer who followed the Grateful Dead. Her daughter, Elle performed in water ballets, and her daughter April, not a dancer herself, now follows Britney Spears from concert to concert because she's obsessed with Britney's dancers. There's a problem... Back in the mid nineties, Elle made a wish at the Hotel Bellagio fountain in Vegas, and was never seen again. Hope you enjoy the little excerpt!
The new anthology cover!



The fountain at Bellagio in Vegas









Maizy of Bellagio (Or Little Helper) 
excerpt by Catherine Stine 

Maizy was born in Vegas from a wishing penny someone tossed in the musical fountain at Bellagio. Most of the color sprites were born of pennies, though some were attracted there from afar by the fantastic reports. Rumor had it the fountain sprites at Bellagio enjoyed gourmet eats, lively company and splendid karma if they were lucky enough to connect with the human who flung the coin and grant the wish. The magic strings that connected the sprites to the owners of the coins were gauzy and ethereal, and the sprites needed to navigate skillfully up the center of the strings in order to make contact. This part was tricky because the newborn sprites needed to test their veined wings. Often the sharp nubs of their wing-joints broke the strings, which melted away, leaving the sprite lost in flight.

Before the sprites born of the pennies were able to work in the fountains, they had to prove they could beat their wings at 180 beats per second, and produce colors as they did. Many couldn’t whip their wings that fast, or only emit a flickering gray shade. Others fainted from the effort.

In the dead of night, when the humans finally straggled to the elevators after a long night of debauchery, the sprites would minnow up from the water and flit into the lounges, bars and cavernous dining halls. There, they would fill their bellies on exotic flowers from Bellagio’s stunning gardens, and slurp spilled wines from the long mahogany bar tables—velvety reds from the south of France, virgin blush from Sonoma’s most rarified vineyards.

The humans assumed the fountains’ colorful patterns coordinated to the music were the result of high-tech digital processors. That’s what the Bellagio brochures boasted.
But the color sprites knew better. The water show depended on their ability to gather seamlessly in arcs and circles, pulsate their wings at high velocity while dancing just under the water’s surface.
Maizy’s special color was pink. Her spot in the fountain alternated between the pink and yellow wielding sprites. The colors appeared to rotate, but it was only because the sprites themselves fluttered back and forth between two bands.
But she learned this all later. After she met her wish-maker, April.
***
April Tulle, a pretty twenty-one year-old human, sat in front of her bedroom’s faux Rococo vanity in the Bellagio and glued the last paper flower onto her floral halo. She’d made it herself, paper dahlia by paper daisy, leaves as pert as the first bursts of spring, tiny berries on winding vines, and a sprinkling of paper butterflies—a teal one here, a polka-dot one there. She applied a creamy lipstick to match the crown’s baby’s breath, and a lavender eye shadow to play off the forget-me-nots.

April sighed at the thought of not forgetting. As excited as she was to see Britney’s newest show live, she was committed to remembering her mother, Elle. Staying here at Bellagio unearthed upsetting emotions. It wasn’t that April herself had stayed here before. She hadn’t.

It was because Elle had been found in the mid-nineties when Bellagio first opened, floating in the fountain. Or more accurately, her floral headpiece. Her body was missing and the mystery never solved. So, if April was being completely honest, she didn’t actually remember her mother. April had only been a year and a half when her mother disappeared and April was shuttled back to Arizona to live with her granny, Ceylon.

Sure, April recalled sensations—Elle’s gentle hands stroking her head, the glide of a baby spoon around her mouth to clean away food puree. And she remembered her mother’s perfume, because every time April smelled Muguet des Bois her chest filled with a welter of sad-happy emotions.
April honored her mother by making her own flowered halos, and wearing them at every concert. She was obsessed with expert choreography like the ones in Britney Spears’ troupe. OMG, the oiled men in loincloths, the women slinking around like lionesses. April wasn’t a dancer herself, she was into writing dark song lyrics, but she so admired them. She came from a dancing dynasty.

Her granny, Ceylon had been secretly hired by the Grateful Dead in the seventies to pirouette and freeform in the front of the stage. A Rolling Stone cover was tacked to Ceylon’s tree bark wall: of her dancing braless, her diaphanous paisley gown billowing in the wind. She boasted that her lithe movements and white-blonde hair captivated as many people as Garcia’s guitar extravaganzas.
“Sure, there were drugs,” Ceylon explained, “distributed with fanfare. Little helpers,” she called them, and showed April the beaded purse she’d kept them in, hung from her unbleached hemp belt.

In the mid-nineties, April’s mom, Elle had met the members of Starfish, a synchronized swimming ensemble at one of Ceylon’s garden parties. Elle swore she’d found her true calling, and soon after she toured the country with them. The swimmers formed swirling pinwheels, water cartwheels and stood on their heads as they held their breaths, scissoring their legs to the roar of the crowds.

Gazing into the vanity mirror, April blinked away tears as she shaped the color on her lips. Where had her mother’s body gone all those years ago? Against her will, she asked this question every single day. Had it gotten stuck in a large drainpipe? Decomposed in the bowels of the Vegas sewers? Or had a gambling necrophiliac stolen it? Too much lurid speculation was bad for April’s mental health. She snapped her lipstick case shut and shrugged off the horror.

To be continued in the forthcoming anthology!


3.10.2017

Book Review: Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain #amreading

Blurb:
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…

When Zorka Circus performs, its big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, there are fewer children in the European towns it leaves behind.

Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the international performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. Nevertheless, he's determined to find the culprit and stop them before anyone else dies and the only place he can call home is ripped apart by the murders.

Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravediggers and ghoulish bloodwalkers. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict rules, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.

When more bodies turn up, the killer's trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable.

My Review:
Bloodwalker is an amazing read. The story takes us inside a circus, where a mix of fierce loyalty, suspicion, and petty jealousy simmers among the performers. Another thread takes us inside the bloodwalker clan, whose practices and beliefs seem as antiquated as they are bizarre. Cain prefaces each chapter with an excerpt from The Bloodwalker's Book, a manual on handling the dead, a ghoulish touch.

Rurik and Sylvie are exceptionally likable characters and both are committed to integrity. They are also flawed. Rurik suffers from hideous physical scars incurred from lightening strikes and brings to mind a very noble version of Frankenstein's monster. Sylvie is cursed with bad luck. Whatever she strives to accomplish seems to go awry. Working separately, the pair arrive at the truth behind the murdered children and a string of bloodwalker deaths. A large cast of characters—each with their own selfish motives—stand in the way of Rurik and Sylvie.

I had an inkling of what was going on long before the conclusion, but Cain hides the overwhelming extent of the horror until the climax, which is both thrilling and dreadfully intense. This is a novel that pays off in spades (grave-digging reference intended). If you want characters you will gladly cheer for and suffer with and you don't mind a bit of ghoulish horror, read Bloodwalker.

3.07.2017

Spirits in the Water flows onto the scene!

This year, the final Elements of Untethered Realms anthology will be released in October. These collections of fantastic speculative fiction center on elemental themes. The UR authors can interpret that any way they choose, and we get an amazing variety of stories from it.

Behold! The cover for Spirits in the Water!


And the stories in the collection are just as incredible.

If you haven't read any of the Elements of UR books yet, check them out. Each marvelous bunch of tales is only 99 cents!


2.28.2017

Huzzizzle of the Realms - February 2017 UR News


Jeff Chapman

Supernatural mayhem in the Weird West


An enchanted blade. An evil old man. An ancient spirit behind a mask. The Weird West just gets weirder.

Orville and Jimmy are a pair of hucksters, struggling to scrape together enough coin for a square meal. While Orville angles for the big score, Jimmy hopes to make an honest buck for a day's work. When an old man calling himself Marzby asks for help with a supernatural pest, Orville smells opportunity. Jimmy smells danger.

In two shakes of a lamb's tail, Marzby imprisons Orville and only Jimmy can save him from a gruesome death. The price for Orville's life? Jimmy must retrieve an enchanted knife from inside Skull Hill and put it in Marzby's hands in three days time. With the blade in reach, Jimmy runs head on into more trouble: a shapeshifting opossum, a larger than average coyote and an ancient spirit determined to keep the blade where it is. Maybe the evil Marzby shouldn't have the blade, but without it, how is Jimmy going to rescue Orville?

The Black Blade is a weird western novel in Jeff Chapman's Huckster Tales series, mixing horror, fantasy, and comedy in an Old West setting. Climb up in the wagon and follow Orville and Jimmy as they once again plunge over their heads into supernatural trouble.

Store Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA

* * * * *
Christine Rains

Weaving Inuit myths with the modern day world.


Always read the fine print when making a bargain with a sea hag.

Lost to the clutches of her grief of losing her mentor, Saskia Dorn welcomes the opportunity to take down a warehouse of drug dealers. When their leader makes a break for it, Saskia and her ex-boyfriend, Sedge, chase the criminal shifter into the sea off the coast of northwestern Alaska. Not only do they lose their quarry, but a vicious sea hag snatches Sedge.

Saskia can’t take another loss and attempts to bargain for Sedge’s life and the salmon totem the witch has trapped in her cave. The sea hag wants only one thing: her long lost love. Who is dead. And living under the freaking ocean with the Salmon People. Find the Salmon People and return with the witch’s love before Sedge’s life is forfeit. Simple, right? Yet she can’t leave the Salmon People’s land without finding herself first.



* * * * *
Catherine Stine 
(writing this suspense novel as Kitsy Clare)


For these last weeks of February my publisher, Inkspell is offering the first ever sale of my romantic suspense, Private Internship. It's not strictly spec fiction, BUT… Sienna and Caz do a spooky Tarot reading on Halloween in an abandoned factory during New York’s Hurricane Sandy blackout… so it counts as psychological horror! Also, Sienna discovers a dreadful secret in her boss’s locked storeroom.

“What could be the worst secret you’d never want exposed? Find out what Caz is hiding that Sienna's trying to find. I was like WOW!!!” 
-Undercover Reviews
On a dark, stormy Halloween night sculptor, Caz and his intern, artist Sienna are trapped in the old sugar factory where he resides and works. Candles are lit. To keep occupied Sienna pulls out the Tarot cards and what do they reveal? Who is Casper Mason? What secrets is he concealing? Has he found the person who will emotionally break him?” -Reader review
Marked down to $0.99 from $2.99 it’s on sale only thru March 2:


M. Pax

Two great giveaways for you!



Over 10 fantasy books, your for the taking. DOWNLOAD FREE BOOKS



Over 45 Urban Fantasy books in this giveaway plus a Kindle Fire! ENTER


Gwen Gardner

A new blog header depicting my fictional town of Sabrina Shores, England, is motivating me to move forward on the next Indigo Eady Cozy Mystery, A Scandal in Boohemia.

Here's a sneak peek:

It's all about adulting when Indigo Eady purchases a new flat then has to figure out how to pay for it. Luckily she lands a temporary job at the local theatre as assistant stage manager. There's only one catch: she has to stop the gangster ghost from haunting her boss. No problem—except for the murderer running loose.










2.21.2017

Weather Inspiration


Speculative fiction takes a lot of inspiration from what-ifs. What if aliens landed in the middle of the Super Bowl? What if a giant serpent really lived in the ocean? What if robots rose up against the human race?

Those what-ifs stretch the imagination, but there are every day things that spark ideas and generate new worlds. One of those things is the weather. That ever-changing, difficult to predict, mighty force. What makes it more ominous is that there is little we can do about it.

We've had no snow this winter where I live. It's been so warm, previous records have been broken on a weekly basis. What if this continues? Or accelerates? We now have rattlesnakes in the area and brown recluse spiders. People have died from bites. If the warming trend continues, we'll have even more poisonous critters moving up.

With the bouncing temperatures not being too cold or summer hot, it's the perfect environment for viruses. So many folks have been sick and hospitalized recently. What if a virus gains strength in these temperatures? What if it mutates?

I have friends in the southern hemisphere experiencing a brutally hot summer. Crops have dried up, and there's been several power outages. What if the temperature continues to rise? How hot will it have to be before people won't go outside anymore? How will we adapt then?

Some days I dream about winters like I had when I was a child. So much wonderful snow. I've never experienced a storm that kept us inside longer than a day, but the cold can be just as vicious as the heat. What if we were thrown into another ice age? What would our lives be like then?

What are some of your favorites stories that played off the what-ifs from the weather?

2.14.2017

Happy Valentine's Day

On February 14th we celebrate a day of Love. Cupids Arrow~Chocolate~Candy~Flowers~Cards.

I was wondering how this celebration came into existence. It used to be called St. Valentine's Day, and somewhere along the way, St. was removed. 

This is taken from Wiki:

THE LEGEND OF ST. VALENTINE 
The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

But, there's more. It's also thought Christians marked the day of St. Valentine's death on Feb. 14th to Christianize a pagan ritual called Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on Feb. 15th. 

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?