Thursday, January 30, 2020

Flash Fiction: A BOTTLE OF LOVE, a Paranormal Flash Fiction by Linda Mooney

Posted by: Linda Mooney
A Paranormal Flash Fiction

by Linda Mooney

            Marlowe sneezed twice, violently, before blowing her nose. Aggravated by the timing at which the flu had chosen to descend on her, she threw her wadded tissue at the wastebasket by the bed, missed, and huddled back beneath the covers.
            Like her mood and well-being, Mother Nature was matching her drip for drip after pulling down a wet cold front from Canada, and creating such a dismally overcast day that it triggered the street lamps, making them cast their mustard-colored lights over the city.
            “Of all the rotten luck to catch this cold,” she reflected. She popped a prescription capsule into her mouth, washing it down with cold coffee. “Ugh.” She grimaced, sticking out her tongue. “And wouldn’t you know I’d wake up with it full blown after suffering a week’s worth of sniffling and dribbling. And I didn’t bring any work home for the first time in a month. If I’d brought it home with me last night, at least I wouldn’t feel so guilty about calling in sick. I could be doing some work. Getting something done while I’m lying about.”
            A gentle tapping sounded at the front door, surprising her. Marlowe glanced at the clock on the nightstand to find it wasn’t quite nine a.m. Scrambling from the bed, she went to see who it was. A peek through the peephole revealed Liston standing on the other side. He was wearing his favorite bright red hoodie and loving grin, water droplets glittering on his hair and shoulders.
            Unlocking the door, she opened it to give him a stern look. “Get in here and dry off before you catch your death.”
            Grinning, he slipped inside the apartment and removed his hoodie, shaking the water from it before spreading it across the back of one of the kitchen chairs to dry.
            “You’re back already?”
            “Got in last night.”
            “Then why aren’t you at work?” she asked, trying to sound perturbed. In truth, she was happy to see him. It had been nearly a week since they’d last been together. Since then, he and the pack had gone on one of their many jaunts into the national forest to hunt. With the colder season upon them, it was imperative that they store up as much fresh meat as possible before the prey got too scarce.
            Liston studied her with a bemused yet concerned smile. “You’re sick. I see puffiness around your eyes. Your nose is raw and red. And I can feel waves of warmth emanating off of you. You have a fever.” He started to take a step toward her when she held up her hands to block him.
            “As much as I’m dying for you to hold me, I can’t take the chance of you catching what I’ve got. Or taking it back to your pack and giving it to them.”
            He chuckled gently and wrapped his strong arms around her despite her protests. “There’s no need to fear. My kind doesn’t catch colds or the flu. At least, not from humans. As for not being at work, I’ve missed you. I went by your office earlier today, but they said you weren’t available. So that’s why I’m here.”
            “Okay. That’s another one for the books I need to make note of you.” She pretended to write something on her palm. “Werewolves don’t catch colds. You could have called me to let me know you were coming by. I look a fright.” She indicated the sloppy t-shirt and sweatpants she was wearing.
            “Well, considering today’s occasion, I didn’t want to wait until tonight.”
            She buried her face against the warmth of his flannel shirt and let out a contented sigh. “I’m glad you did. You didn’t happen to bring some chicken soup with you, did you?”
            Liston laughed. The sound of it rumbling in his chest vibrated against her cheek. “Unfortunately, no, but I can fix you something to eat if you’re hungry.
            “Not really. I have some minestrone left over from yesterday I can reheat later.”
            “Then, come. Back to bed with you.” He led her into the bedroom and helped her slide under the covers, drawing the sheet and blankets up around her waist.
            As he tucked her in, Marlowe suddenly realized what he’d said. “Today’s occasion? What occa—oh, no! Oh, Liston! I can’t believe I forgot! Even after seeing all the stuff posted in the stores, and the commercials on TV.” Her face fell as tears welled up in her eyes, and she reached for another tissue.
            Once again, Liston pulled her into his embrace, this time adding a kiss to the top of her head. “It’s okay, honey.”
            “No, it’s not okay. I planned to do something special for just the two of us. I didn’t have a chance to get you a card!”
            “Shh. I didn’t expect anything, nor do I ever. Your love is a gift you give to me every day,” he murmured. “I wish I was able to return it tenfold.”
            “You give me more than you realize,” she whispered. “I know it’s a constant battle every day to keep yourself and your pack from being detected. I know how difficult it can be sometimes to come into town and interact with us humans. Don’t ever think you don’t give me enough love, because you do. And much more.” She looked up into his unusual golden eyes. It was almost as if she could see into his soul. The soul of a being who could become either man or wolf. A soul who wasn’t accepted by either normal man or animal, but who lived on the edges of both worlds.
            He gave her a crooked smile. “Anyway, I wanted you to be able to carry with you everything I carry inside of me. The love, the nearness, the memories.” Getting to his feet, he left the bedroom. Past the doorway, Marlowe watched as he walked over to where his hoodie lay on the chair and extracted something from the front pocket. Bringing it back into the bedroom, he took her hand and laid the object on her palm.
            It was a small, hand-thrown pot made from the dark red clay that was prevalent in the mountains. Teardrop-shaped, with a narrow mouth, and sealed with a small clay cork, the word LOVE had been inscribed on the outside surface.
            “Rufus helped me make it,” he confessed. “He fired it in the kiln to be sure it didn’t shatter. Then I added the glaze.”
            “It’s beautiful. And made with your own hands.” Bringing it closer, she carefully removed the stopper and looked inside. “It’s empty,” she teased.
            Liston smiled. “No, it’s not.” Putting a finger to his lips, he then laid the fingertip to the top of the bottle. “In here I place my kisses. The chaste ones and the ones full of undeniable passion. The ones wet with tears, and those I send on the wind to you every day when we can’t be together.”
            Pressing the same finger to his temple, he again touched the bottle’s mouth. “In here I place my countless thoughts of you, my special memories of us together, and my dreams for us, both shared and unspoken.”
            Following that, he moved his hand to where it encompassed his heart before returning it once more to the lip of the bottle. “And in here I place my endless hopes, my soul, my heart, and my love forever. All that I am because of you, and all that I will be because of you, is in this bottle of love. In some small way, I hope it brings you comfort during those times we must be apart. I also hope it reminds you of us, of me, and what we share.”
            Replacing the cork, Liston placed it on the nightstand next to the bed. He reached for Marlowe’s hands and tenderly kissed both palms. “Someday soon we’ll be together, and be able to remain together for the rest of our lives. Just give me a little more time to work it out.”
            “Take all the time you need,” she told him. A yawn overtook her, making him chuckle.
            “I’m boring you.”
            “No, no. It’s the medication I took before you arrived.” Pressing her forehead to his, she rubbed noses with him. “Will you stay with me?” she softly begged. “At least for the rest of the day. As soon as I’m on my feet again, I promise we’ll celebrate. We’ll have the whole night to ourselves.”
            “I’ll be looking forward to it.” After plumping her pillow, he readjusted the covers. “I love you, Marlowe.” Bending over, he kissed her sweaty forehead, sealing his vow.
            “I love you, Liston. Thank you for the gift. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
            “Happy Valentine’s Day, my beloved,” he responded. Getting to his feet, he walked over to the bedroom door and paused, turning around to make sure she’d finally fallen asleep. Hearing her steady breathing, he began undressing, dropping his clothes over the chair containing his hoodie. Totally bare and free, he shifted into his lupine form, until a massive gray wolf with golden eyes stood where a human had been seconds before. That done, he jumped onto the bed and curled around the fragile woman who’d somehow magically managed to claim his heart.
            The last thing he was aware of as he also sank into slumber was the feel of her cuddling against him, her fingers threading through his thick pelt.
            Soon, Marlowe, soon. Our day will come soon, he silently promised her, and closed his eyes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Noir Fairy Tales, Book 1
(Based on "Beauty and the Beast")

Paranormal, Fantasy Romanceby Linda Mooney
Word Count: 40.1K
$0.00 KU / $3.99 e / $9.99 p
Available for a Limited Time on Kindle Unlimited

The 1940s. Life in Grimm City can be just as fabulous as it is dangerous. But it's not a place that can be found on any map. Welcome to a world of gun-toting, hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking fairies, elves, dwarfs, shifters, and witches, as well as human beings.
Welcome to Noir Fairy Tales.

Beldon Chase and Aura Dagger, of Chase and Dagger Detective Agency, are hired by Estin Ragg, a troll whose brother, Durif, was discovered dead under the 82nd Street Bridge. The coroner calls it a suicide, but Estin swears it was murder. The cops seem to be sitting on their hands because he’s a troll, and everyone knows how much trolls are castigated and despised in the realm.

Aura and Beldon are partners. He’s an ex-cop who was framed for something he didn’t do and kicked off the force. Soon after hanging out the shingle of his detective agency, he found Aura homeless in the streets after the death of her father. Something about the young woman touched him deep inside, and he took her in and trained her how to be a gumshoe.

They’re in love with each other, but it’s Beldon who’s put the skids on their relationship from becoming anything more than professional. Mostly because he's a Static, a man-beast unable to convert completely into a man or an animal.

As Bel and Aura are digging through clues as to whether or not someone killed Durif Ragg, their relationship comes to a head. Aura wants a commitment from Beldon. He would do anything to give it to her, but his own insecurities are holding him back.

Things eventually reach a breaking point when they discover who is actually behind Ragg’s death, and why. Which culminates in Aura giving Beldon a choice—either they make this a permanent partnership in all ways, or she takes a hike, leaving him and the detective agency. 

Warning! Contains an ambush, foot chases, hoofprints, missing evidence, corruption, a slinky gold dress, and a perfect alignment that finally grants the wishes of the heart.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Finessing The Muse: Morning Pages

Posted by: PG Forte

As part of my on-going struggle to coax my muse out of hiding, I’ve decided to give morning pages another try. As you’re probably aware this is an exercise that was made popular by Julia Cameron the author of The Artists Way. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried this, and I don’t recall it being all that helpful the first time around. OTOH, I didn’t keep up with it for more than a few months because, eventually, my muse got fed up with hanging around in the morning, waiting while I filled three pages in a notebook with stream of consciousness nonsense, and began demanding I pay attention to her again.

Maybe I’ll get lucky and history will repeat itself. But in the meantime…

Julia Cameron wasn’t the first person to suggest the idea of writing first thing in the morning. A hundred or so years ago, when I was first thinking about writing as a career (not really a hundred, but MORNINGS! can make it feel that way) I read a book by an author whose name I can’t recall, and whose book I probably don’t have anymore, thanks to last summer’s move…about which I still shudder. But, whoever she was, she also believed that waking up in the morning and IMMEDIATELY writing down whatever was in your head was a great idea.

The biggest difference, IIRC, between her system and Cameron’s, is that her idea was to mine for the elusive gold buried in your subconscious, and that was supposedly easier to reach before you were properly awake.

Cameron doesn’t believe in gold. (Okay, I suppose she does given her OTHER book, A Vein of Gold, but that’s beside the point.) She thinks your brain is full of shit in the morning (as opposed to ALL DAY, which is how it feels at the moment) and she wants you to clear away the dross, so you can be creative. Her morning pages have strict rules…most of which I’ve forgotten, and although I’m currently reading her new book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, I think I’m going to have to invest in a new copy of The Artist’s Way—or perhaps, The Miracle of Morning Pages, yet another book about…yes, you’ve guessed it. Morning Pages—in order to refresh my memory.

But for now: the Morning Pages Rules as I understand and remember them, include: Write by hand, for three pages, no stopping, stream of consciousness (which I could do all day, btw, even without a fully-functioning muse…if I had the time and nothing else to do…and who has that?). You don’t record your dreams, you don’t jot down story ideas, you don’t make lists of things you want to do later in the day, you don’t make lists about ANYTHING, really…

No lists? Right. And here I am making a list of rules, which goes to show you how well I follow instruction. But it’s HARD not to make lists, because I LOVE lists…no. Love’s not the right word. I can’t think of the right word, but that’s another rule, I suppose, no stopping to look up the right word.

Speaking of right words and how they’re occasionally elusive (interesting word, elusive. I always have to pause and remember which one I want elusive, illusive, allusive…definitely elusive right now but it’s always jarring when someone uses the wrong one. There are a few words like that. Hoard/horde, etc. and I do tend to forget some of them and write the wrong one and feel like an uneducated idiot who can’t even master one language, never mind more than one…do I really want to go on with this train of thought? No, not really).

So, as I started to say, I’ve noticed that the right words are occasionally not as easy to locate as they used to be, and having experienced age-related dementia with several relatives now, I worried. My niece was REALLY worried about my sister, which isn’t fair because her memory has always been shit. But we both feel better now, ever since I shared with her an article I recently read that claimed the main two differences between younger people who can’t immediately recall a word and older people, is that the younger people don’t immediately assume they’re losing their minds. Also, the file cabinets of their memories…does anyone even use file cabinets anymore? Aren’t they like take out menus, rolodexes,  and CDs? WHATEVER.

Younger people have memory files that aren’t as extensive. There are less files to wade through to find that word. A lot less, in some cases. So we’re content in the belief that my brain, and my sister’s brain, aren’t failing. They’re just scaling mountains of accumulated knowledge. I like that. I’m not sure I believe it, but it’s such a pretty lie.

But…back to my non-list of morning page related struggles. There are a lot of things I have to do in the morning, and lying in bed scribbling in a notebook isn’t one of them. There are dogs to let out, and frequently a toddler to entertain--and feed, which definitely requires me to get out of bed—and on Wednesdays, when he’s with us, said toddler must be made ready for when the garbage truck arrives (which is in the morning, because of course it is).

Standing at the front door, watching the garbage truck move slowly up and down the street, waving to the driver, imitating the beep-beep-beep whenever it’s backing up, is one of THE HIGHLIGHTS of this child’s life right now. He loves all trucks, but garbage trucks most of all. We don’t know why.

He also loves cooking and cleaning. The former I understand, the latter—not so much. Also, pretend “cleaning”? Not the greatest thing. It tends to leave more of a mess rather than less, so…

Coffee! Coffee is an issue in the morning.  It is, therefore, an issue that my morning pages tend to be rather full of. The nameless author from a thousand years ago suggested placing a thermos of coffee beside your bed at night so that you wouldn’t have to get up and make coffee and miss out on the mining. I don’t do that, although I have in the past, because the coffee is never hot enough and then I’m mad, and all I can think about is COFFEE.

I can’t recall if Julia allows you to get up and make coffee before you begin, but I do it anyway, for the most part. And I let out the dogs. And I feed the child, if he’s here, and I think about how nice it would be to sit outside on my terrace with my coffee cup and my notebook…but not this morning, because our next door neighbors are having their house tented, so all my terrace furniture (and my potted plants, and the child’s pool toys, etc.) are stacked on the far side of the terrace because the crew who’s tenting the house needs to be in the yard…which the dogs are going to love. Not. Sigh.

Let’s move on…

Another problem I’ve noticed is that I’m out of practice writing by hand. Because, other than lists…and birthday cards…and addresses…and quick notes to my husband, or my daughter…lists. It always comes back to lists with me. I could list all the things I make lists of, but…another time.

OTHER THAN LISTS, I don’t really write by hand much anymore.  And, as a result, three pages can make my hand hurt. I  think it’s because I’m trying to write too fast. I’ve gotten used to the speed of typing and my thoughts don’t want to stand still and wait until my pen can capture them. So I write too fast and my handwriting, already not the best, is now completely illegible. Which I guess doesn’t matter, since morning pages are not really the kind of thing you’d need to read anyway. Not even anything you’d want to read (as this proves). I suppose I could re-fresh my knowledge of shorthand and try that, but I feel like that is too much effort.

Probably the real problem is that I’m left-handed, so most notebooks are problematic anyway. And I’ve just forgotten how much. But, that’s also besides the point, because that shouldn’t be the case with the nice new notebook I indulged in, before I read/remembered that I’m supposed to keep my morning pages in a separate notebook, although why?  And also: isn’t that kind of a waste of paper? Not that it all isn’t a waste of paper anyway, when you think about it. It’s really not the most environmentally friendly practice, is it? Paper = dead trees and I like trees, but let’s not go there. Besides, my son just introduced an entire line of biodegradable, environmentally friendly tattoo supplies (it’s a cool idea, and a nice website. You should check it out, if you’re into things like that.

So maybe the family karma balances out somehow? Whatever. It’s too early in the day to get into things like that.

My notebook cover is faux leather (because I didn’t need dead animal guilt on top of the dead tree guilt which continues to consume me no matter how hard I try to pretend otherwise. Family karma? Really?). It’s red, with a cute dragon embossed on the front. And it does seem like a shame to fill it with my useless, hideous scrawl. But the notebook is pretty and it’s refillable/reusable (re-read note on pretending not to feel guilt) and I like it. And part of the reason I started this whole practice was because my muse likes pretty things. Like the tulips on my table. A gift from our neighbors—they of the tented house. Did I mention that I also had to have my lovely bougainvillea (that was growing against the neighbors’ wall) cut back practically to the ground?

And that’s disappointing and another reason I will not be enjoying my coffee on the terrace this morning…but that’s three pages, so I guess I’m done anyway.


Monday, January 27, 2020

HERE BE NEWS for January 27, 2020

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author


Monday, January 20 
"HERE BE NEWS" - All the latest from the gang at Here Be Magic.

Tuesday, January 21 -
MAP MAKING” – Author Shona Husk has discovered a new creative outlet by designing fantasy maps.  

Friday, January 24 -
"2020 CHINESE NEW YEAR - HAPPY YEAR OF THE RAT!" - Author Dani Harper explores the ancient animal zodiac and its astrological forecast.


Friday, January 24, 2020

2020 CHINESE NEW YEAR - Happy Year of the Rat!

Posted by: Dani Harper, Author

Saturday, January 25, is the beginning of the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese astrological cycle, we leave the Year of the Pig behind and enter the Year of the Rat.

The Rat will influence all aspects of this lunar year until February 11, 2021. While Western culture usually views rats in a negative light, the Chinese zodiac places the wise Rat in the highest position as first among the animal symbols. 

The Rat is associated with wisdom and intelligence, vitality and wealth. Images usually show the rat with many pieces of gold. 2020 is anticipated to be an exciting year of new beginnings, great creative energy, and increased success for most of us.


In Western culture, the zodiac we know today comes mainly from the early Greeks, and it rotates through a different constellation every month. However, the Chinese astrological calendar is far more ancient, and its cycle is twelve years long! 

This cycle, called the Sheng Xiao, does not correspond to the stars. Instead, each year is represented by an animal in the following order:  Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. 


In addition to being intelligent and wise, someone born in a Rat year is also thought to be hardworking, frugal, intuitive, cheerful, adaptable and social. Add to that a keen business sense, creativity and resourcefulness.

Rat years of the 20th century were 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, and 1996. In the 21st century (so far), 2008 and 2020 are Rat years.


If you’re a Rat, you’re in pretty good company.
Celebrities with the Rat as their animal sign include Katy Perry, Scarlett Johansson, Prince Harry, Prince Charles, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Ben Affleck.

Historical figures include William Shakespeare, Charlotte Bronte, Wolfgang Mozart, George Washington, and John F. Kennedy.


A Rat year generally brings good fortune for everyone – unless you’re a Rat. In Chinese astrology, it’s considered unlucky when your birth sign is the same as the current ruling animal. So if you’re a Rat, you might want to keep your head down and not make any major decisions. 

But hang tough, the Rat is a resilient sign and your time is coming! 2021 will be the Year of the Ox, and it’s predicted to be a very good year for Rats in the areas of health, love, finance and career. 

A RAT made of METAL - 

While the symbolic animals rotate through a 12-year cycle, the elements that govern them have a 5-year cycle: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. This not only has a powerful effect on the events and overall tone of a particular year, it lends some interesting personality traits to people born during that time.

The year 2020 is influenced by the element of Metal, so this is the Year of the Metal Rat. It's been 60 years since the last one! Those born under this sign are considered idealistic, well-spoken, positive and persistent.

Metal is considered a stabilizing influence, plus it is a conductor of electricity. So steadiness and high energy are the traits this element lends to the Year of the Rat. 


No matter what your animal sign is, you may be able to invite the best of what a Rat Year has to offer. Utilize the two luckiest colors associated with 2020, blue and white, in your home and in your wardrobe. 

You might also place a bowl near the front door to place loose change in, thus symbolically accumulating wealth. And it doesn’t hurt to add a figurine, a picture, or even a plushie of a rat in your home. (Note: a cute mouse will work just fine)


While this post is written in the spirit of fun and not intended to be used as life advice, my wish for my readers is genuine: 
May 2020 be your best year ever! 



The fae are cunning, powerful and often cruel. The most beautiful among them are often the most deadly. 

Hidden far beneath the mortal world, the timeless faery realm plays by its own rules—and those rules can change on a whim.

Now and again, the unpredictable residents of that mystical land cross the supernatural threshold…

In this enchanting romance series from Dani Harper, the ancient fae come face-to-face with modern-day humans and discover something far more potent than their strongest magic: love.

 THE GRIM SERIES by Dani Harper

Note: Every book in this series is designed to stand alone.
It's fun to read them in order, but you won't get lost if you don't!

See ALL Dani's novels on her Amazon Author Page

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