Sara Daniel Romance Author

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Boxing Day @CarolABrowne explains this #British #holiday

Guest Post by Carol Browne

What is this thing we Brits call Boxing Day that takes place every year on December 26th? Does the stress of the festive season require a violent catharsis? Do people engage in fisticuffs in the street? Is there anarchy in the UK?

No, it’s a civilised affair dating back around 800 years, when the church alms boxes were opened and the money within was distributed to the poor. This tradition of being charitable is reflected in the Christmas Carol Good King Wenceslas, which concerns a Medieval king who takes food to a poor family on Boxing Day (also known as St Stephen’s Day. Traditionally, servants had a day off from tugging their forelocks, and were allowed to celebrate Christmas at home with their families and friends.

In the not-too-distant past, tradesmen and merchants would receive a Christmas box from their customers. This was like a tip to thank them for their work throughout the year. This custom has largely died out but I recall when I was a child, my mother setting aside money or small gifts for Christmas boxes that would be given to people like the milkman and the postman. We had so many things delivered in those days and I seldom saw the people responsible so that, thanks to my child’s imagination, they became an assortment of surreal characters that still make me chuckle to this day: The Potato Man, the Paper Boy, the Fish Man, and the Coal Man, for example!

Although Boxing Day is a public holiday in the UK (and other countries with a connection to it, like Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) many people prefer the frenzy of the Boxing Day sales to chilling out with friends and family. It is also an important day for sport, especially horse racing and football. Many people go for a long walk, perhaps to burn off some of that food they have overindulged in. It was traditional for the upper classes to go fox-hunting too, but, thankfully, this barbaric practice has been outlawed now.

After the excesses of Christmas Day, why not try a simple vegetable broth for your Boxing Day lunch? A steaming mug of this with a chunk of crusty bread is both warming and nourishing and just the ticket on a chilly winter’s day. The following recipe is vegan but if you’re a meat-eater, you can add some of that leftover turkey if you still haven’t had your fill of it!

Vegetable Broth
Photo by KEKO64
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 large carrots, diced
1 swede (rutabaga), diced
1 large potato, cut into large chunks
1 leek, chopped
2 pints vegetable stock
vegetable oil or vegan margarine

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pan and add the chopped onion and minced garlic. Sweat them together until soft.

Add the carrots, leek, and rutabaga. Sweat these with the onion/garlic mix, ensuring they are mixed well.

Stir in the potatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down as low as possible and place lid on pan. Simmer and stir occasionally until vegetables are tender.

How about a glimpse into the life of a strong woman while your soup is simmering?

In 2012 when young Polish immigrant Agnieszka visits fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home for the first time, she thinks it a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and a death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka be able to keep her promise to tell her story, and, in this harrowing memoir of survival, what is the message for us today?

Buy Links
Dilliebooks - Amazon UK - Amazon US

Carol Browne regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honors degree in English Language and Literature. Carol writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover.

Carol lives in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky.Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet @EMMAJLANE #flowers

Guest Post by Emma Lane

Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.

Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don't worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun.

Now here's a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet.

Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it?

Amazon - Wild Rose Publishing

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Creamy Cucumber Salad #recipe and a #NewRelease from @ChrisPavesic

Guest Post by Chris Pavesic

This creamy cucumber salad is a family favorite. “Fresh” is the key word for this recipe.
I love using vegetables and herbs I grow in my own garden, but you can also find flavorful produce at a local farm stand or farmer’s market.

  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or key lime juice)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mint
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber
  • 2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion

  • Blender or food processor
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large bowls
  • Large Colander 
  • Paper towels
  • Spoon
  • Knife

1.  In order to get excess water out of the cucumbers put sliced cucumbers in a colander with a large pinch of salt.  Put the colander in the sink and let the cucumbers sit for 20 minutes, then gently pat dry with a paper towel.
2.  Combine plain yogurt, dill, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, mint, Dijon mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper in the blender.  
3.  Combine the drained cucumbers and sliced red onions together in a bowl.
4.  Drizzle yogurt mixture over cucumbers and red onions toss to coat.  

While you are enjoying this fresh salad, please take a moment to enjoy a glimpse into my new novel, Starter Zone, Book One of the Revelation Chronicles.

Starter Zone
The Revelation Chronicles, Book 1
Chris Pavesic

Print Length: 219 pages
Publication Date: September 25, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian, LitRPG

Follow the tour to read reviews guest posts, exclusive excerpts, and spotlight posts:

About the Book:

When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail.  Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

Read an Excerpt:

I would like to offer you a glimpse into Starter Zone, the first book of my new
YA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles.


was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the
earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic
equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and
smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload
human consciousness.
Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system
that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The
hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single
drop of water.
water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted,
eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire.
All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and
integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed,
utopia achieved.
obscenely rich were the hydrologist’s first clients, many taken near the end of
their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes
to spur people’s interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered
to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private
companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew
to thousands, and then to millions. There were landmark court cases arguing
whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the
inscription—whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives
or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life
ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued
inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.
was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in
the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East
were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the
civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and
Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of
course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private
companies ran the uploading programs. Many of the aquariums ruptured in the
strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water
cycle of the planet.


the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into
darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my
window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like
thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.
try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and
zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going
out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even
the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer
evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.
check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first
weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were
still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at
thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house,
helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the
weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but
bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in
the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.
of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make
the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is
relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right
leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.
little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight
and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I
help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so
that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I
don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep
shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares
me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I
force myself to stay calm.
check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby
pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped
her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile
back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you
make it.”  Over the last few years, I’ve
been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.
to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one
last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the
last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is
swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.
nods. “Ready, Cami.”
we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till
you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep
going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the
center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”
nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her,
because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each
other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all
we have to keep us going.
River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is
relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances
of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow
the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and
less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings
outside of the city. We might even be able to find a place to stay before
crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain
everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows
between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other
humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and
moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have
cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned
in every lane.
and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story
building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck
drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in
the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I
spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.
one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go
around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though
the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of
honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each
fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting
a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee
filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our
drinking water. 
I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might
believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that
out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at
least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought.
My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the
nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.
     The daytime usually belongs to
looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of
color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs
wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out
from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who
encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of
other factions trying to increase their terrain.
tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving
their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These
bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days,
indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have
moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.
one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies
like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again
and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.
were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like
we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only
last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other
reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and
no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.
streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince.
It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad
weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain.
Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they
are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter
before the rain poses any danger.

fact I’m betting our lives on it.

Purchase Links:


Barnes and Noble

Meet the Author:

Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and
loves Kona coffee and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing
projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on
an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends. She
blogs on and Tweets @chrispavesic 

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Groom for Mama—A Sweet Romantic Comedy by Catherine Castle @AuthorCCastle

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets A Groom for Mama

 Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.


Beverly’s pale face broke out in a smile. “Jack!” She took the flowers from him and buried her nose in them. “They smell wonderful.” She waved him inside, hugging him as he passed by her.
He leaned over and kissed her on the cheek and then glanced around the foyer.
“She’s not here right now.”
“I’m just making sure the coast is clear.” He followed Beverly into the kitchen, the click of her shoes against the hardwood floor leading the way. The house slippers had disappeared with Allison’s arrival, and Beverly had started dressing up more. He was glad to see that. He eased his tall frame into the bar chair in front of the peninsula and set the fruit basket on the counter. “I’m planning to stay as far away from Allison as possible.”
“Is that so?” Beverly’s voice held a hint of sarcasm. “You’ve been over here a lot more since she arrived.”
“Son-in-law prospects, remember?”
As she retrieved a vase from the cabinet, he busied himself untying the string around the flowers, ducking his very hot, and most likely, red face from her view. She hit closer to the mark than he cared to admit.
“How are you feeling?”
“Okay, for now. Allison’s not doing well, though. The doctor visit hit her hard. She’s determined to save me, in spite of the odds.” Beverly took the flowers from him and dropped them into the vase. “Have you got some men for me?”
He swept the fallen flower leaves off of the counter into the waste can beside the bar. Then he concentrated on flicking imaginary pollen off the granite into his hand.
“I’ve been thinking, Beverly, are you sure you want to go through with this? Wouldn’t you rather spend what time you have left with Allison just being together? This bridegroom business has to be a bone of contention. I hate to see you two in disharmony.”
“Jack Somerset. Are you trying to get out of a deal with me? Because if you are—”
“Of course not. It’s just that—”
“—you don’t want to see her with someone else?”
His head snapped up. “I’ve had her once already and found her to be a contrary woman.”
Beverly grinned. “Me-thinks thou dost protest too much.”
No answer to that. Until their breakup they hadn’t ever argued. Back then, even when they didn’t see eye to eye, they could talk. He took a set of folded papers from his hip pocket and slapped them onto the counter. “Here’s the first set of men.”
“This one looks okay,” Beverly said as she scanned them, “but let’s scrap the rest.”
He checked her selection. “I think we should let Allison decide. After all, she’s the one who’ll be saddled with the guy.”
Beverly cocked her head and studied him. “What an odd way to put it. She’s supposed to fall in love with the man and live happily ever after, you know.”
Supposed to being the operative words.”

Catherine Castle – Romance for the Ages
About Catherine Castle:
Award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, published in 2013 from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins, including:
2014 Beverly Hills Book Award Winner for Inspirational Romance
2014 RONE WINNER for Inspirational romance
2014 EPIC finalist for Action/adventure romance
2014 Carolyn Readers Choice Award finalist
Her newest book, a sweet romantic comedy entitled A Groom for Mama, releases September 2017 from Soul Mate Publishing

Speaking credits:
Writing and poetry workshops for elementary and middle school students, local writers groups, participated in the Writer's Digest World's largest Writing Workshop, Midwest Writers Conference 2015

Catherine’s Amazon author page:
Twitter:    @AuthorCCastle

Group blogs where you can find Catherine:
SMP authors blog site:

Book Links:
A Groom for Mama: 

The Nun and the Narc: Amazon  4
Barnes and Noble:

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#NewRelease Book Tour Bewitching Hannah by @Leigh_Goff #YALit @saphs_books

a witch is the last thing she wants…

Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing

Publish Date: September 17, 2017

Genre(s): YA, Fantasy, Romance

Follow the tour to read reviews, exclusive excerpts, guest posts, and book spotlights:

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

Read an Excerpt:

Lightning flashed, followed by a rumble of thunder, jolting me alert. A tempest churned over the Chesapeake Bay and was rolling toward town. I stared at the clouds, ready to calculate how much time we had before the rain hit. Another bright flash of white-hot lightning forked across the purplish-black sky. One, two…twenty.


The storm was at least four miles away. I pressed a hand over my chest, feeling the thumping slow.

I glanced at Aunt J, who was no longer bopping her head to the bad music. Instead, she blinked over and over, and rubbed her eyes with one hand.

“If you’re tired, I can drive.” Who needed a license when I’d already mastered a moped along with the Green Briar golf carts?

Her slender fingers searched for me as if I were a ghost she could only hear. She grasped my arm tightly.

“Hannah?” Panic drenched her voice.

My eyes widened. “What’s wrong?”

“I can’t see. I mean, I see something, but it’s not the road. What’s wrong with me?”

I peered out the windshield. A distant telephone pole grew bigger as her foot stuck to the accelerator.

A frightening swell of adrenaline flooded my veins, sending my heart into a frenzy. “Stop!” I yelled, but she was frozen with fright. I grabbed the steering wheel and threw my leg over to jam on the brake pedal.

It was too late. Absolute silence fell over us in the grim second before we plowed into the pole. My lower body slammed into the dashboard while the seatbelt squeezed hard against my ribs. Metal groaned. White bubbles deployed. Glass shattered with a scream. Or maybe the scream was mine. The car groaned to a halt with a hiss and clank.

Stillness settled over us. My head was reeling as I checked myself for injuries. Bursts of pain sparked from my chest and leg.

“Hannah?” Aunt J’s quivering voice reached out.

I pried my eyes open. She had escaped her seatbelt. Her lips and hands were trembling, but I saw no blood or broken skin. Inwardly, I sighed with relief.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

I sucked in a shallow breath. “Me? Fine,” I managed, not wanting to stress her out, but I struggled to breathe and my left leg was wedged under the intruding dashboard.

She reached over, wiping her hands across my cheeks and forehead, dusting away crumbs of glass. She touched her trembling fingers to the seatbelt release and pressed on it, over and over. “Come on, dammit. Let go.”

I pushed her hand away, restraining a whimper. “It’s okay. Go get help.”

She nodded and with a hard push, shoved her door open. “I’ll be right back.”

A heavy silence fell over the car’s interior until a hiss sounded from the engine. Within seconds, the smell of burning oil seeped in through the vents.

One toxic breath went deeper than I meant it to. “Ow!” I coughed and writhed beneath the unyielding seatbelt like a five-year-old having a tantrum. Panic swept over me as I struggled for freedom.

Stress vibrated deep in my gut. Self-soothe, self-soothe, I reminded myself. The air grew thicker with burning oil and a starburst of pain wracked my body. I was going to die. Unless…

No. How could I even think it? There had to be another way because what if I couldn’t send it back? What if it took me to the same terrible place it had taken them?

I peered out the windows, searching. There was no one. I turned my focus on the glove box. Maybe Aunt J kept a knife in there or a pair of floral scissors. I pushed the button hard, again and again. Jammed. My heart raced.

A burst of smoke puffed into the car’s interior. I coughed and closed my eyes. The pressure on my leg intensified and the sickening fumes filled me with dread. Eff it. I balled my hands into fists.

I recalled the spell I’d overheard my dad utter once. I recited it in my head before casting, making sure I had it right. “By the power of fire, I do summon and churn, and call thee forth to blaze and burn.”

I stopped breathing, trying to sense any changes. I felt no different. And then it filled my core like a warm sphere of energy. Quickly, the power expanded into a blazing inferno. My back arched, pressing me harder into the seatbelt as my internal fire surged. Every cell jolted awake. My heart pounded out of control as I imagined channeling the smoldering energy. Suddenly, my hands tingled with intense power. I swallowed hard and aimed my fingers at the strap. The fiery threads trickled out in a wiggly pattern until I steadied my hand. The seatbelt burned orange, then cooled to black before separating.

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Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥

Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Exclusive Excerpt from Spellhaven #newrelease @MirrorWorldPub @saphs_books

The Unseen Spirits must be entertained, so that the city may prosper......

About the Book:

In the summer of 1914, Jane Fairchild, a young English musician, is kidnapped by magic and sent to Spellhaven, an island city ruled by magicians. Here, peace and prosperity are maintained with the assistance of Unseen Spirits bound to the service of the Lords Magician. The Spirits must be kept in good humour by the performance of all kinds of shows, dance, drama and music. Jane is one of many people kidnapped from the outside world and forced to contribute to these entertainments for a set period of service.

Only Jane is having none of it. She will not perform for her kidnapper, Lucian Palafox, but agrees to undertake an apprenticeship with another magician impresario, provided she is taught magic in return. Jane's forays into magic lead her deeper within the mysteries of Spellhaven, her rivalry with Lucian escalates and the quarrels between them grow strong enough to shake the city to its foundations.

Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Release Date:  August 17, 2017
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

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Read an Exclusive Excerpt!

The lady sat on a terrace, in a corner bordered by pots of lavender and rosemary. She was alone, with a chessboard by her side.

Childeric said, ‘Lady Imblen, this child, who speaks no Latin, bears a mark of Lucian. She says she does not believe in magic.’

Jane said, slowly and distinctly, ‘I am a subject of the British Empire. I demand to be sent home.’

The lady seemed very old, though upright and sturdy. Her white hair was coiled under a jewelled cap and the clasps on her jacket were enamelled in blue and white. She looked at Childeric, not at Jane and said, ‘What is her calling?’

‘She is a musician, seemingly. She has instruments in that bag.’

Before Jane could protest further, her glance was held by Lady Imblen’s dark, heavy-lidded gaze. Jane found herself wondering how long the woman had been sitting there. She might have been immersed in contemplation for weeks or years, hardly to be interrupted by small troubles.

Lady Imblen said, ‘Play a tune for me.’

Jane was out of practice and she could still feel the bruises from her journey, but maybe once they heard her music, they would listen to her words.

She took out the easiest of her instruments to play, a penny whistle she sometimes used for teaching. She began with Three Blind Mice, slowly at first, and then at a brisker tempo. A small breeze curled round her and strengthened the salty sparkle in the air. Out of the breeze grew a shape which flickered in and out of her sight, as though of some immense beast made of air and fire. She thought of the invisible lion she had imagined when she arrived in the city and at once she caught brief, fiery glimpses of a lion’s paw, the hunch of a maned shoulder, the glint of an eye. They moved round her, vanishing as soon as seen. If the lion was there, it must be dancing to her music and she grew afraid to stop. She muddled her notes and tried to change tunes, but that was worse. She could feel the creature’s impatience, so she went back to the Mice and steadied the tempo, but she wondered how long she could keep going.

A voice joined in, somehow unwinding the tune. The outline of the lion flared up, black and burning, and then disappeared. Childeric put his hand over Jane’s.

‘You may stop now.’

‘What was that?’ She could hardly speak. ‘What did you do?’

Lady Imblen said, ‘That was your doing, not ours. It seems Lucian has made a good choice this time.’

‘What do you mean?’

Childeric said, ‘The air in this city is crammed with spirits. It is our task to keep this Unseen Audience entertained, so that the city may prosper. Maybe you had beginner’s luck just now, but maybe you will have a greater contribution to offer us than I would have guessed.’

‘No,’ Jane said. She went to crouch beside Lady Imblen. ‘My lady, I don’t understand. I never wished to come here. I never gave Mr. Hunter any promises: I barely spoke to him. He had no right to send me here.’

‘You may make your complaint to him when he returns.’ The lady did not even sound interested. ‘He won’t be long. You would do well to learn some Latin while you wait.’

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Meet the Author:

Sandra Unerman lives in London in the UK. When she retired from a career as a Government lawyer, she undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Middlesex University, specialising in SF and fantasy, and graduated in 2013. Since then, she has had a number of short stories published. In 2016, these included stories in Three Drops from a Cauldron, the Midwinter issue and Aurora Wolf, the September issue, both available online. She writes reviews and articles for the British Science Fiction Association and the British Fantasy Society. She is a member of London Clockhouse writers and other writing groups. Her interests include history, folklore and medieval literature.

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

#CoverReveal for Bewitching Hannah by @Leigh_Goff @saphs_books @MirrorWorldPub

Being a witch is the last thing she wants…

Bewitching Hannah
Leigh Goff

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing
Publish Date:  September 17, 2017
Genre(s):  YA, Fantasy, Romance

About Bewitching Hannah:

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a troubled legacy of magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful Chesapeake witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W, a Calvert descendant who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead. Engaged in a deadly game without knowing who her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

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Writing Enchanting Ever-Afters ♥

Leigh Goff grew up in Maryland where she resides today. Her writing is inspired by an eclectic childhood, a vivid imagination, and compelling historical events. After taking several writing courses in college and attending professional writing workshops after she graduated from the University of Maryland, she joined the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. 

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