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Prophecy Is Heeeeere!

Prophecy CoverYou guys, it’s finally here. My YA pararom, Prophecy, has arrived and I am super psyched to see my BB enter this world. Tasty Book Tours has an amazing Book Blast set up all over the WWW today. I hope you’ll check that out. The book tour begins next week with YA Bound and If you missed my babbling rants over the last months on social media, then let me tell you about Prophecy here *insert stage-wink*

On the other side of death, is destiny.

Callie Ingram is spending her senior year focused on one thing: swimming. Her skill as a competitive swimmer is going to secure a scholarship and her future, or so she hopes. She has big plans, and Liam Hale, her gorgeous new neighbor, isn’t going to affect them. But when Callie sees Liam beheading someone, she learns his family has a secret that will change everything. The Hales are Vikings, demi-gods who’ve been charged by The Fates to find their new destined leader.

Callie’s caught in the middle of a budding Norse apocalypse, in love with Liam Hale and desperate to protect her best friend…who the Hales believe is marked for transformation. Putting the clues together as fast as she can, can discovers she has the power to rewrite destiny, for herself and all humankind.

**Keep scrolling for a sneak peak at the opening pages of Prophecy**

Chapter One:

 “I’ve got one.” Allison scooped wild brown hair into a ponytail and smiled. “Would you rather…”

I groaned. Would you rather was like Truth or Dare, except with no one to kiss.

“Come on. Would you rather spend two weeks on your dream vacation alone or one week alone with anyone you want, but you have to stay here?” Allison cleared the remains of our last customers’ dinners and loaded dirty dishes into a brown plastic tub. “I’d choose the second one and make Hannah Snyder watch me cuddled up to Dylan O’Brien for seven days straight.”

“You didn’t say there would be cuddling.” I retied my apron, buying time to think.

Allison dropped the tub of dirty dishes onto the counter with a wicked gleam in her eye. “Oh, there will definitely be cuddling.”

Soft country music played over hidden speakers. Allison’s crystal blue eyes sparkled. I shuffled booted feet on the white tiled floor, praying for another wave of customers.

Roll With It was the only deli in town and a popular hangout. The deli’s name came from its owner, Buddy, and his hipster approach to life wherein he did and said everything ironically. He was in the kitchen at the moment, wearing unnecessary black-framed glasses, an Army T-shirt and an unbuttoned mechanics shirt with Mack on the name patch. Overkill wasn’t in Buddy’s vocabulary.

“So, which would you rather?” Allison leaned her hip against the counter.

“I’d rather leave. I love this place and its bizarre historical charm, but I’ve never been anywhere else. I’d take a vacation for a while if I could.”

I lifted the ceramic lid on each soup tureen. Rich scents of cheddar, bacon, and potatoes wafted out as I stirred. The tang of southwestern veggies followed. I saved chicken noodle, my favorite buttery aroma, for last. With any luck, Allison would find something else to do if I looked disinterested enough. Or changed the subject. “How was college this week?”

She slapped the nearest table. “Amazing. Did I tell you another hot guy transferred into my Anatomy and Physiology class?”

“Yes. Yesterday.”

“Oh, no, no, no. Today.” She wiggled her eyebrows.

“Another one? Really?” Lucky.

“I swear he’s hotter than the one yesterday. The two of them talked through half the class as if they knew each other. Drove the professor nutty, but he never said anything. Probably because they’re each the size of a pickup truck.”

“They’re friends?”

“Not sure, but wow. I like that idea a lot. A whole community college fraternity full of them.” She fanned her face with napkins from the dispenser on the table.

Wind rattled the door and I jumped.

Change was in the air, thick and foreboding as black thunderclouds before a storm. Fall in the Midwest was a beautiful, but tragic season. Trees prepared for a long winter’s rest by releasing the very appendages they’d spawned and nurtured for so long, like mother birds shoving babies from the nest, except the babies lived. Leaves flew and clung to whatever would hold them until they crumbled into dust. Orphans. Amber and scarlet leaves splattered patterns over sidewalks and roads through town. Every bluster sent more leaves coiling down, bursting free from the giant oaks who had nourished them. Mums lined wraparound porches and flagstone garden paths to historical front doors. Apple trees dropped pink blossoms onto long country driveways. Fall was beautiful, true, but for many things it meant death, dormancy, and otherwise ceasing to exist.

Weariness weighted my chest. Senior year meant change, tough decisions, and the end of an era. Ten months from now, I’d be on a college campus someplace brand new to me. I could start fresh. Be anything I wanted. My possibilities were endless. Until then, I needed to get out of my head.

Gnarled branches of ancient trees swayed outside the deli window while two enormous crows pecked the ground and ruffled their wings. Moonlight cast an eerie glow on the scene. One round eye of each bird settled on the store window, and I froze. The sensation the crows watched me and not the other way around sent goose bumps down my arms.

I took a step toward the window. “Do you see those huge crows?”

A blast of green lightning illuminated the world without warning and I jumped back.

Breath caught in my throat. “Did you see that?” I turned in a circle. Allison was gone. Her laugh trickled from the kitchen.

Wind whistled around the door frame and pelted the glass with rain-wetted leaves. Ominous clouds crept like thieves across the dark horizon. The crows were gone. Relief flooded through me. I had to pull it together. Crows weren’t spying on me, and lightning wasn’t green. Tint on the deli window must’ve given it a funky look. I rested my elbows on the counter and my chin in both hands.

Allison bustled out from the kitchen. “Do you hear this wind? I wish it would rain already. My car needs a wash.”

“I don’t think it works that way.” I checked again for the crows. Lightning probably scared them away. Uneasiness fluttered in my chest. The storm had threatened and hovered all day without committing. Commitment was an issue in this town.

The sharp ding of the order bell startled me and I jumped again.

“Chicken salad and pastrami.” Buddy tapped a rhythm against the wall.

I carried the plates to a couple sitting side by side in a back booth. How could people talk sitting shoulder to shoulder? I preferred lots of eye contact. Eyes gave away our lies. That’s how Mom knew Dad was cheating. Also, why we lived in an ancient farmhouse in Zoar, Ohio, population next-to-nothing, instead of in the nice, upper middle-class Victorian we had a year ago on the neighboring golf course. I could’ve stayed in the better house, but I’d rather live in squalor with an honest person than in a castle with a liar. Besides, a few creaks and leaks aside, the farmhouse wasn’t bad. Plus, we got Chester in the split.

“Welcome to Roll With It. What can I get you?”

I spun at the sound of Allison’s irritation. I hadn’t even heard the bell.

“If I can get you anything else, let me know.” I slid the plates across the table to the blonde and her boyfriend and went to help Allison.

Allison leaned over the counter on her elbows. “No way.”

“Moving trucks were there all day.” Mrs. Printz, fellow citizen and deli frequenter, loved gossip as much as egg salad. Her small frame and black duck head cane gave her the perfect mix of innocence and menace, like the twist villain at the end of a movie.

An older gentleman I didn’t recognize in a tweed jacket stood beside her. “First the cleaning crew, then the semi. Heaven only knows what they pumped into the house out of a semi.”

“That was last week, Lloyd.” Mrs. Printz stamped her cane. “Keep up.”

“Where?” My mind ran through the homes I passed daily with Realtor signs in the lawns. A drawback of small town living was a lack of commerce. You either commuted or made your money from home. Dad commuted an hour every morning to the city, but most people who moved to Zoar left within five years. I’d had dozens of friends in my lifetime. Their families were only passing through. Allison was a lifer like me, third generation Zoarite.

“Hale Manor.” Allison used her best campfire voice. She tented her eyebrows and formed a little o with her lips.

“Ah, man.” Buddy rolled out of the kitchen with a wide, eager expression. “The Hale place is completely haunted. Some broad hung herself from the chandelier in the nineteen thirties. It’s in all the Haunted Ohio books.”

Mrs. Printz’s face twisted into a snarl. Pale creases gathered over the blue veins of her forehead. “Mary-Catherine Hale was a good woman and my mother’s best friend. The Great Depression was a lot tougher than your history books can tell you, Baxter DuPree.”

Allison covered her mouth. Buddy’s real name was Baxter? She wouldn’t let that go anytime soon. I, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised.

I bit my lip. “You knew her?” I didn’t intend to ask. I intended to use one of the neon colored computers to look up Mary-Catherine Hale when Mrs. Printz left. “I’m sorry.”

Mrs. Printz nodded in acceptance. She turned her milky eyes on Allison. “We’ll take a quart of veggie soup and two sourdough rolls.” She elbowed the man beside her and he jumped to attention, digging inside his coat for a wallet.

I filled a soup container to the brim and stuffed a couple extra rolls in a to-go bag.

Mrs. Printz turned her cane with soft, wrinkled fingers. “Mary-Catherine was nice, but she was troubled. The whole family’s troubled. Always has been. They only summered here in those days. The Hales never lived here. After Mary-Catherine’s death, they boarded the place up. The town’s historical society has tried to buy it for thirty years. The family wouldn’t sell. Hale Manor would make a great addition to our circuit of historical buildings, and the grounds are exquisite. I spent many carefree days there as a child. My mother worked for the Hales.” Sadness changed her tone, cutting off what I suspected was the prelude to a longer story. She shook her head and hooked the cane over one forearm, wrapping her heavily jeweled fingers around the man’s elbow instead.

Buddy held the door for them as they shuffled out into the windy cold.

“I still think it’s haunted.” Buddy cocked one hip and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

Allison snapped her gum. “Yeah. You would, Baxter.”

“Excuse me,” he mocked. “I didn’t attend an Ivy League community college like you.”

“I attend community college part-time as I simultaneously finish high school. I’ll attend Case Western Reserve next fall, and I’ll start there as a junior.” She tapped her chin. “Did you start college as an eighteen-year-old junior, Baxter?”

Buddy gave a droll, unimpressed look. “No need. I’m studying the paranormal activity in Zoar. Ghost hunting is my after work job, and with the Hales back in town, I’m guaranteed to get some media attention for my book on their house of death.”

My jaw dropped. “You wrote a book?” Who writes a book? I didn’t know him at all. The ghost hunting seemed right up his alley, though. Buddy had a way of drawing attention to himself and then looking bored. It kept people guessing. The over twenty and single crowd loved him.

The front door banged open with a blustery squeal and shouting filled the quiet deli. A crowd of little leaguers and their parents spilled inside, filling every empty seat. Buddy hustled to the kitchen, ready to cook. I manned the register and Allison set up trays for the orders. The tiny grey and black uniforms seemed fitting for the night and my mood.

Thirty minutes later, everyone was seated, fed, and gossiping about the Hale family. Salty grease and cheese thickened the air, shattered occasionally by the tang of fresh ketchup and boys’ laughter. Stories spread through the room like wildfire moving from table to table and growing at each stop, consuming all other topics in its path. Allison and I lingered over refills, devouring every word. I held my breath, absorbing every ounce of wild speculation.

“They fled Europe when the courts intervened. The family couldn’t use their money and influence to cover any more wrongdoings, so they were forced out.” The woman made air quotes with her fingers around “wrongdoings.”

A man scoffed. “They’re filthy rich? Why not move someplace better than Ohio?”

The voices lifted into the air, tossing out information faster than I could follow.

“What better place to hide than here?”

“I heard he’s a baron.”

The comments went round and round as adults picked food from mostly empty plates and I marveled. If even half the rumors were true, the Hale family was one to avoid. Not good news for me since I lived next door.

“I hope they have sons. We could use some ruthless players this season.” A barrel-chested man with a whistle necklace mumbled around his mouthful of burger.

“They have two.” A hush fell over the room and the woman blushed.

Allison elbowed me. “Little leaguers?”

The woman covered her mouth with a napkin and shook her head, dashing platinum bobbed hair against her cheeks. The other moms broke into laughter.

Another woman smiled ruefully. “Terry jogs past the Hale place every morning. She got a look at the boys moving boxes inside.”

The women laughed again and the men stared.

Terry averted her eyes and dug into her sparse remains of salad with renewed vigor. “They weren’t little leaguers.”

“Not little leaguers.” Allison raised an eyebrow. “Can I please give you a ride home tonight?”

I smiled.

The crowd kept us busy until Buddy turned the CLOSED sign over in the window and let us out. The night air was brisk and smelled of fresh rain and earth. I pulled in another deep breath. Tendrils of wood smoke lifted from nearby chimneys and gravel crunched under our feet on the way to Allison’s car. A full moon hung low in the sky, and a colony of bats flew past in a beautiful swooping formation. Illogically, I looked for the crows. How many crows constituted a murder? Who chose murder as the term for a group of crows? The classification gave me chills.

I kicked stones. “Do you think any of the gossip’s true?” I didn’t have to explain what I meant. Allison and I had been friends since kindergarten. Sometimes I thought she could read my mind.

“I hope so.”

I gaped. “Which part? The part where they’re insane, their death house is haunted or they fled Europe when they could no longer cover all their crimes?”

Allison beeped the doors of her red hatchback open and I climbed inside.

She slid behind the wheel and gunned the little engine to life. “Hot brothers. Duh. I hope they registered for community college.”

“What if they’re dangerous?”

“What if they’re gorgeous?” Allison flicked her signal on at the second light and turned onto my street. “You think they’re outside?”

“At night in this weather? No.” I made a show of pointing to the streetlights. Replica gas lamps lined the residential roads, illuminating the road in varied shades of grey. “Besides I can barely see the sidewalk.”

“Darn.” Allison idled at the curb. Not a soul in sight. She craned her neck to get a better look, but the effort was futile until morning.

I glanced at the creepy old manor next door. Moonlight bathed the ancient home, giving it a gothic look it didn’t need. Ghost stories and age alone had kept me away from the house in broad daylight. While other kids dared one another to climb the front steps or ring the bell, I stayed across the street, on my bike, one foot on the pedal. I’d never been brave enough to get involved in their game. I definitely wasn’t ringing the bell. When Mom announced she’d rented the old farmhouse next door, I nearly swallowed my tongue. Hale Manor was more than a legend; it was alive and watching.

Maybe having inhabitants would reduce its creep factor.

Allison repositioned her hands on the wheel and shifter. “Text me if they come over to borrow a cup of sugar or something.”

I made my best sarcastic face and crossed my fingers without enthusiasm. “Definitely.” Allison drove away at a turtle’s pace as I climbed our front steps.

Mom rocked slowly in the porch swing beside the front door, bundled in a blanket and sipping hot tea from her favorite mug. “I guess you heard the news.”

Of all the features I loved at our new home, the wide-planked wraparound porch was my favorite, followed closely by the swing. I was tempted to join her, but if I sat, I might not get up again.

I opened the front door and she followed me inside. “Hasn’t everyone?”

The shaggy mop sprawled on our kitchen floor rolled to life. “Woof.”

“Hey, Chester.” I squatted to pat his fluffy sheep doggie head. “Did you meet the neighbors?”

“Woof.” His halfhearted response warmed me. If Chester wasn’t concerned, neither was I.

“Did you eat?” Mom was dressed in blue scrubs and white sneakers. Her bag sat at the foot of the stairs, ready to go. I barely saw her on nights we both worked. She hated it, but after taking seventeen years off to raise a daughter, she’d accepted the only available shift without argument. She couldn’t be picky and she couldn’t stay with Dad. You cheat. You lose.

“Yep.” I rubbed my tummy, pretending it wasn’t filled with fizzing nerves after all the wild stories I’d heard tonight.

Mom sloughed out of the blanket and threaded both arms through her coat. She wrestled her hair free from the collar and smiled. Her brown eyes sparkled. “They have sons.”

I laughed. “You in the market again?”

“No, but you are.” She lifted her bag over one shoulder.

“I’m not.” Never again in this town.

“Kirk was a jerk.” Her smile widened. “It’s probably not even a coincidence that rhymes.”

I averted my eyes, choosing to focus on the house across the cornfield, which normally was dark with shadows but now seemed illuminated by a hundred indoor lights. “I’m waiting for college. Zoar’s a small town. Dating here is complicated.”

Mom moved toward the door, pity in her voice. “They aren’t all the same. Men, I mean.”

“I know.” I didn’t. I actually wondered daily how many people weren’t liars instead of the other way around.

“The boys are cute.” She opened the door and stopped to look at me.

“I heard they fled here to escape all the charges against them.”

She made a sour face.

“And they’re criminally insane, insanely rich…and generally insane in a variety of other ways.” I ticked off the insanes on my fingers.

Chester ambled to the door and tugged on his leash dangling from the coat rack. “Woof.”

“Lock up after your walk and stay in until morning. A storm’s coming.” Mom gripped my chin and kissed my cheek. “No wild parties.”

I crossed my heart and hooked Chester onto his leash.

Mom jogged down the steps to her Bronco, throwing one last kiss over her shoulder and gripping the coat to her chest.

I wiped inevitable lip prints off my face with the back of one hand.

“Come on, Chester.” Wind whipped leaves and dirt into tiny hurricanes on the sidewalk as we rounded the house to the backyard. “Make it fast, mister.”

Chester and I jogged through the grass to the decrepit cemetery where he liked to do his business. The cemetery was older than most things in town, which was to say old. The crumbling headstones and rusted iron gates charmed me, like living history books. I’d made rubbings of the stones during walks with my dad when I was in grade school, had my first kiss under the willow in the back, and cried my eyes dry on the broken stone wall when I learned my dad did the deed—the ultimate betrayal—and we were leaving. To others, it didn’t make sense to fear the sight of an old home and yet wander comfortably in a cemetery. It made perfect sense to me. The cemetery, I knew. I understood. I had hundreds of memories there. Happy ones. The house was a mystery cloaked in hearsay and dark tales. I peered at the tall gables in the distance. Hale Manor stared balefully back over the tops of the small cornfield where a spinning scarecrow creaked on its post, thanks to building winds.

“Woof.” Chester barked at a pair of black squirrels playing chase in the trees.

I traced the unusual symbol on a headstone with my fingertips. The symbol was my favorite mystery of the ancient grounds. I leaned against a replica of the winged goddess Nike. She stood sentinel near the center of the graves. For years, I’d assumed Nike was an angel who’d lost her marble head to a storm or age. Mom corrected me. She’d pointed the “angel” out to me in one of her mythology books when I was in grade school. Nike was the goddess of victory. A strange thought when surrounded by the dead. The company she kept didn’t seem victorious to me.

The symbol beside Nike’s gown-covered feet matched many, but not all, of the headstones and markers in the Hale family’s resting grounds. Mom couldn’t explain the symbol. She said she hadn’t seen it, but she didn’t pay much attention to details the way I did. A family crest was her best guess. The explanation would’ve made more sense if every stone bore the symbol. The mark consumed my thoughts in middle school. I wrote a paper on it in eighth grade wherein I hypothesized the symbol stood for male superiority. My evidence: the symbol never appeared on a stone bearing a woman’s name. The theory had holes because the oldest stones were sometimes illegible, crumbled and a few were written in a script I didn’t recognize as English. Still, I made rubbings of two dozen stones to support my argument and earned an A on the paper, mostly for my enthusiasm. The smooth symbols never showed up in the rubbings.

A sprinkling of raindrops hit my face, jerking me back to reality. “Time to go home.”

We meandered through the darkness, light drizzle, and cold. Our last walk of the night was like that. I didn’t want woken in the wee hours because Chester didn’t pee when he was supposed to, so I took baby steps and he sniffed each blade of grass individually. My focus jumped to Hale Manor a thousand times. All the lights inside bothered me. Who were these people and what brought them here?

Back in my yard, I dared one last look behind me. Over the tops of the corn, a curtain slid shut in an upstairs window, leaving the silhouette of a person staring down at me. I imagined they stared, anyway. It was possible the person had their back to me, though it seemed less likely. The light behind them shone like a beacon in the night.

“Come on, Chester.” I ran the rest of the way to the front door and locked up, twisting the dead bolt for good measure.

Chester shook water over me and the floor before running through the rooms, sliding and rampaging the way he did when he was wet. I toweled up the mess, toweled down the dog, and hit the shower before homework and bed. I left my door open so Chester would sleep in my room and patrol the house while I slept. Falling asleep wasn’t easy with my head buzzing from questions and rumors. What kind of people would move to Hale Manor? Didn’t they know the home’s history? Didn’t it bother them?

By midnight, the rhythm of rain on our roof had washed the worries from my mind and lulled my anxious body to sleep.

I shot upright an hour later, gripping sheets to my chin and looking for Chester. “Did you hear that?” The soft green glow of numbers on my alarm clock teased a thought just outside my memory’s reach. One AM. I pressed a palm to my chest, certain my heart would break my ribs. “I heard a woman scream.”

Chester lifted his head, ears perked. “Woof.”

I stared out the darkened window toward the enormous home separated from me by one small field, and I patted my pillow until Chester curled up on it. I laid my head on him and gripped my phone to my chest, waiting impatiently for daylight.


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A tentative comparison of Greek, Roman, and Norse myths by Katharina Gerlach

Huge, enormous thanks to an amazing, crazy-smart, twitter friend, Katharina Gerlach, who came through with this post on mythology. She’s so much fun on twitter and I had NO idea she studied my favorite thing ever. Mythology! If you’re into it like we are, then this one’s for you. ENJOY!!

ZeusA tentative comparison of Greek, Roman, and Norse myths

It’s no big secret that the Romans assimilated a lot of the Greek pantheon and culture. Seeing that both cultures lived in close proximity, that’s not surprising. Zeus became Jupiter, Hermes turned into Mercury, Athene showed up as Minerva. Even minor Greek gods appear in the Roman religion (here’s a full table of all Greek gods and their roman counterparts).

I personally find it rather interesting to see how closely the two religions resemble each other. In both, the gods are unpredictable for the humans living with them in the same world. The gods give little to no thought to the humans and reward or punish them according to their whim. Their feuds and petty rivalries jeopardize human life more often than not, and they behave like spoiled children most of the time, celebrating in a luxurious realm.

The only exception to this rule is Prometheus (not a real god but one of the last titans) whose story is exactly the same in both religions. He helps creating the humans and brings them the fire that Zeus/Jupiter wants to keep for the gods. This story alone shows that the Greek and Roman thought their gods like over-emphasized humans with the same but amplified faults.

In contrast, the Norse gods are much darker and brooding. Although they, like the Greek/Roman gods, are a pantheon with lots of family ties and one ruling god,Loki the way their respective worshipers saw them differed greatly. The Norse gods were much more approachable for the humans and less unpredictable. True, they also had their feuds, but they were more personal and hardly ever involved humans. Loki enjoyed playing tricks on the other gods and then they struggled with each other, not with humans. All-father Odin issued few punishments despite (or maybe because) knowing things that were to come. The only real punishment I remember is when the gods tie Loki to a rock where a snake drops venom onto him. They allow his wife Sigyn to stand beside him to catch the venom in a bowl, giving Loki spells of relative peace until she has to empty the bowl (True, none of the gods, Greek, Roman and Norse were particularly nice to each other). All-father Odin’s main goal was to gain as much knowledge as possible even at high costs to himself. The gods were not playful like Greek and Roman gods, but preparing for the final battle between the different realms of their world.

One thing that seems to be the same in all three of the religions is the belief that the lives of humans and gods alike were predetermined by the Fates (or Nornes in Norse mythology). In all three religions, three women governed everything that happened in the past, now, and future. Thus, the Nornes/Fates are more powerful than the gods. I think it rather surprising that the concept behind such an important part of religion as the personal freedom of the individual, be it god or human, is the same in all these religions. To me, it suggests either a crosspollination of the religions or an adaptation of an even older, now forgotten religion.

Interestingly, in the Roman and Greek religion, there’s just one place where souls go after death: the underworld ruled by Hades/Pluto. There, the souls deemed unworthy are sent to Tartarus (equal hell) and the worthy souls go to the Elysian fields (equal heaven). The underworld is circled by a river and guarded by a three headed dog. Imagine my surprise when I found that one of the Norse underworlds looks just the same. Helheim, the home of the goddess of death, Hel, is circled by a river that even the gods can only cross into her realm but not back out, and it is guarded by… a monstrous dog. Those souls (human and god alike) who died from diseases, accidents, old age and such would go to Helheim upon their death. But Norse mythology held three more places souls could go after death. The most widely known is Valhalla, where Odin collected the most courageous fighters for Ragnarok. Men who died fighting but didn’t outshine others would go to Folkvang. Finally, drowned sailors would be collected by Ran to her hall.

An interesting difference between Roman and Greek concerns the role of humans in the religion. Whereas the heroic deeds by the Roman gods were more important than the actions of men, in Greek mythology, humans were just as important as goods because they contributed significantly to the society. Also, in Roman mythology, good deeds and heroic acts could elevate a mortal to a god-like status. The Greek are much more concerned with the physical life on earth. The afterlife seems to have a much smaller importance in everyday life than in Roman or Norse mythology (I’m not an expert so don’t crucify me if I’m wrong).

ragnarokThe most important difference between Roman and Greek gods and the Aesir is that in addition to a myth of creation (all three have similar myths of creation: the slaying of older gods/giants), the Norse also have a myth of destruction. During this final fight, Ragnarok, all gods would fall. The whole universe of the Nordic gods would be destroyed. However, it would not end. From the ashes, a new world would rise with two humans, Lif and Lifthrasir. Also two gods, Balder and his blind brother Hod, would be reborn, and together they would begin a new world.

For me, that makes the Nordic mythology a more advanced sort of religion, one that looks past its own demise – that’s rare even in today’s religions. I find it fascinating to see how much of what has been hidden from the wave of Christianization burning through Europe survived, and how much could be reconstructed from the few sources that remained. Without a doubt the Greek and Roman religions and their cultures have influenced the way the Christian religion developed, and thus played a major role in the way humans in Europe evolved and spread throughout the world. The impact of the Nordic myths and legends is less visible. I know that they have been misused in the Third Reich, and still there are many people who misuse them to this day. However, I personally believe that the Nordic myths and legends shaped our point of view much more than we give them credit for.

 

catBorn and raised German with a good helping of Scottish adoptive heritage, Katharina Gerlach has been writing stories in the realms of fantasy and historical fiction for many years. She managed to convince a German agent, but the search for a fitting publisher took too long. So she began to self-publish her novels in German and English and has garnered a few awards since. Visit her website or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Thank you Cat! This was amazing!

XOXOXO

Celebrate Mystery Week with Carina Press!

Help Celebrate MYSTERY WEEK with Carina Press by checking out four hot new mystery releases for under $5!

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Art by Harlequin Enterprises

Art by Harlequin Enterprises

Murder in Real Time by Julie Anne Lindsey
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Available: September 29, 2014
Format: Ebook
Price: $2.99

With the chaos of summer tourists and fall birders out of town, counselor Patience Price is looking forward to the quiet life she remembers. She longs for some peace. And an apple fritter. But the calm is cut short when a reality show sets up camp to film a special about ghosts on her little island. Now fans, reporters and crew have flocked to sleepy Chincoteague. Who knew ghost hunters had an entourage?

When two cast members are killed in a room at the local B&B—a room usually occupied by Patience’s FBI agent boyfriend, Sebastian—she finds herself on the case. Sebastian doesn’t want Patience ruffling any feathers but, as always, she can’t help herself.

Patience promises to let Sebastian handle the investigation—he is FBI, after all—but after a drive-by shooting, her wicked curiosity gets the best of her. And with the TV show forging ahead with filming, the list of suspects (and the line of food trucks) only grows. But has the shooter already flown the coop? And how do you find a killer when you don’t know who the target is?

*Be sure to also check out the first two books in the Patience Price Mysteries series, Murder by the Seaside & Murder Comes Ashore

MOLMistress of Lies by Holly West
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Available: September 29, 2014
Format: Ebook
Price: $2.99

London, 1679. Isabel, Lady Wilde, mistress of King Charles II, has made a good living disguised as fortune teller Mistress Ruby, counseling London’s elite. But after the murder of one of her customers, business has taken a downturn, and Isabel is on the verge of accepting the king’s offer to move into the palace.

Isabel’s plans are interrupted when a beggar girl named Susanna shows up at her home, claiming to be her niece. Isabel always believed that her older brother, Adam, died alone during the plague. When Susanna reveals that Adam was actually murdered, Isabel is compelled to take up an impossible task: discover the truth about her brother’s death, twelve years after it happened.

Isabel’s investigation leads her through the gamut of London society, from bear-baiting matches and brothels to the realm of wealthy bankers. But as she uncovers her brother’s dark secrets, Isabel begins to wonder whether the past is better left buried—especially when uncovering the truth could lead to her own funeral.

*Be sure to check out Mistress of Fortune, book #1 in this series by Holly West

ESElvis Sightings by Ricardo Sanchez
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Available: September 29, 2014
Format: Ebook
Price: $2.99

I’m Floyd—no last name needed, thanks—and I’m a P.I. The only other thing you need to know about me is that I’m not an Elvis impersonator. I live my life fast and hard and yes, in sequined jumpsuits, but more importantly I live my life the way Elvis would have wanted me to. Honestly. With integrity.
It was a tip that the King was still alive and living under an assumed name that brought me to Kresge,

Wyoming. But there’s something bigger than Elvis happening out here. I’ve been beaten bloody by an acrobatic bartender, roped into the search for a missing councilman, fallen for a bearded lady, and threatened by men in black who really don’t want me poking my nose into the town’s business. Half of my leads look like dead celebrities. The other half are either refugees from a broken-down circus or spear-holding Viking wannabes.

I’m in Crazytown, USA, but I can’t leave. Not yet. If I don’t find the missing councilman soon, Kresge will be turned into a Danish-themed amusement park. I’ve never been so close to finding Elvis. And I need to know if my new self-appointed sidekick James Morrison is really who he claims to be.

coderunnerCode Runner by Rosie Claverton
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Available: September 29, 2014
Format: Ebook
Price: $2.99

Ex-con Jason Carr has faced down the toughest thugs in Cardiff, but being assistant to a brilliant, eccentric hacker who hasn’t been outdoors in ten years has its own challenges. Still, he and Amy Lane can solve cases even the cops can’t crack. And when a corpse washes up on a beach, Jason can’t resist chasing the clues—or defying Amy by infiltrating the very gangs he once escaped.

Amy is distraught when Jason’s pursuit gets him framed for murder. He’s thrown back in prison where he’s vulnerable to people who want him dead. He needs Amy to prove his innocence. Fast.

But Amy hasn’t been honest with him—her panic attacks aren’t getting better. And now, with everything that makes her feel safe ripped away, she must stand alone, using her technological skills to expose a baffling conspiracy and a new kind of online crime. Can she clear Jason’s name before danger closes in?

*Be sure to also check out Binary Witness, book #1 in the Amy Lane Mysteries.

 

 

Welcome to Honey Creek by Jennifer Anderson

Closeup portrait of a handsome young man looking awayTake a walk around town, where there is only one stoplight, one gas station, one grocery story, many churches and one lake. But, oh man, what a lake.

Honey Creek Lake is where a lot of the magic and drama happens in the sweet, little town. Maybe take a dip in our man-made waters. Walk along the edge and watch the boaters zip by sending waves a water to lap the shores. Have a lazy day, cast out a line and wait for the fish to bite. Or maybe, grab the hand of your loved one and step inside our new gazebo. Slip under our famous Weeping Willow and steel a kiss from your sweetie. Every corner of our lake holds a story. When you’re there, create your own.

Head five miles back into town from the lake, stop by our White Cottage Restaurant, and have a slice of strawberry pie, although I’m partial to the lemon meringue. The pie display case and red-topped tables only add to the incredible yummies filling every plate. Catch 22 Pizza sets off the perfect Italian mood with soft lighting and scents of garlic, warm bread and spicy sauce. Grab a slice or an entire pizza pie. Is doesn’t matter because after one bite, you’ll be back for more.

If you’re only here for a short while, maybe plan a trip back during our summer months. We host a Strawberry Festival with music and booths full of berry fare. July plays host to a Fourth of July celebration with a parade and fireworks at the lake. Rent a cabin and stay awhile. You’re sure to find whatever you’re looking for in our charming town and rural county.

Honey Creek sets the stage for a sweet Young Adult novella, Ice Princess. In it, Mya wants to shake things up in her small town. But once she’s given what she wants, will she change her mind and crave for normalcy.

Here’s an excerpt from Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1:

“Okay. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A farmer and a pig….”

“Stop,” I yelled without looking up.

“I already told you that one?”

“No, but any joke starting with a farmer and pig can’t be good.” I rolled over on the large towel we’d spread across the sand. It was the last day of summer vacation, and Michael and I agreed to spend the day together doing nothing but enjoying the sun. Living in Ohio, we weren’t sure how many more days we had left. Soon the leaves would fall showing off snow-covered cornfields.

“Can you toss me a Dr. Pepper?”

“Sure.” Without looking, I reached into the small red Igloo cooler we brought and produced a cold dripping can. I knew it was for him since I preferred bottled water to soda. Not Michael. The kid lived on caffeine and sugar. Which made the lack of fat on his body hard to explain. Not that I’d ever noticed. Michael Graves was my best friend. And nothing more.

“So, you ready for tomorrow?”

“Sure, I guess,” I answered. “How’s it any different than the last three years at Fayette County High? Really, we’ve known the same people and gone to school with them for the past twelve years. We all know who we’re gonna eat lunch with or who we’re gonna sit with at opening assembly. Boring.” I wasn’t a pessimist or a Debbie Downer, but Honey Creek needed some excitement and I didn’t think our senior year would prove to be any different unless something unusual happened.

“Ok. So why don’t we spice it up a bit.”

“Like what?”

“Let’s start a nasty rumor or sit at a different table at lunch.”

“Ooh, Michael, you’re so scandalous! Have I been rubbing off on you?”

“Hardly. I think the most daring thing you’ve ever done was streak across my yard when we were five because you’d heard wearing your bathing suit gave you tan lines. Even though you had no idea what tan lines were, I might add,” he said with a smirk. The afternoon sun danced across his blonde moppy hair, intensifying his golden highlights. He sat next to me in a short beach chair staring out at the water. Everyone we knew was out enjoying the last weekend of August. All of the rental cottages were empty from the few Honey Creek vacationers that came to visit the lake. It was a manmade watering hole, but that didn’t take away from the fun had there. Boats skidded across the water pulling skiers or tubers in their wake. The sand was dressed with towels and blankets full of half-clothed bodies soaking up the sun like Michael and me.

“So word around town is there’s a new kid coming to school.”

 

Read more from this author in the Small Town Charm Box Set! 8 Stories. 8 Authors. 99 cents!

**for a limited time**

Small town America has its charm—not to mention its fair share of romance and mystery!

Everyone knows small towns have their own unique charm, that’s why they make fabulous settings for stories! Turquoise Morning Press presents the best of their small town settings—all in one volume, and for one very small town price!

From Drakes Springs, Florida, to Briny Bay, North Carolina, to Wheeler, Texas, where a little romance and a lot of murder and mystery take center-stage—and then to Honey Creek, Ohio and Legend, Tennessee, where home-grown romance blooms, and love lives right next door.

Eight fabulous authors share their views of small town charm, love and mystery in this eight book boxed set—providing you with a satisfying glimpse into the lives and stories of the quirky characters who live in these charming settings.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

 

 

Blurb:

Ice Princess - Jennifer AndersonMya Newman never minded the routine or quiet that came with living in Honey Creek, Ohio. For her senior year, she craves something exciting to happen instead of it melting into a cookie cutter routine like the previous years.

When a new girl, Audrey Moore, moves to town, Mya finds herself caught in a triangle. She discovers hidden feelings for her best friend, Michael Graves, but he seems to have eyes for the new girl.

After Mya’s father becomes ill and eventually passes, she turns to her best friend, Michael. He never leaves her side, but she wonders if he’d rather be elsewhere. With fear of rejection and loss of friendship, Mya decides she can’t confess her recently discovered feelings.

When Michael and Mya share a dance at the Winter Formal, does she open her heart to him? Or does she shy away, forever longing to be the princess who finds her prince?

 

4 Star LASR Review: Great Read!

“It is a wonderfully emotional short story with just the right balance of sweetness and sadness. I recommend it to anyone who relishes a charming story of love and friendship.”

 

“The emotional scenes in the hospital and day of funeral are great – I know I cried when I reviewed initially, and I cried again in both read throughs this week – I’m such a sap :-) ” -Wendy on GoodReads

 

Thank you for having me *wink wink*. Small Town Charm, Love & Mystery is available wherever e-books are sold.

Amazon   Barnes&Noble   iBooks   TMP Bookstore  Smashwords   ARe

 

Jennifer-7emailAbout Jennifer Anderson:

I’m a Mommy, wife and now author. Even though I’ve spent many years on either coast, I’ve spent a majority of my life in the Midwest. Here is where my heart grows with the love and support of my family and friends and here is where I find inspiration for my stories.

I’m also excited to announce Spider, my first non-series YA novel will also release in 2013. My Brother’s Wedding, a contemporary romance, releases in e-book only in August 2013. Stay tuned for more news.

My complete list of releases:
Ice Princess, Honey Creek Royalty Book 1
Prince Charming, Honey Creek Royalty Book 2
Queen Mean, Honey Creek Royalty Book 3
King of the Lake, Honey Creek Royalty Book 4
Spider, May 2013
My Brother’s Wedding, August 2013

Print edition of Books 1-3 from Honey Creek Royalty Series are now available!

You can visit me at www.jenandersonauthor.com and www.musingsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com

Twitter: @JenniA8677

 
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A City Girl Discovers Small-town Texas by Judy Alter

17410217 Coming from Chicago, where I’d been raised, I thought I’d met small towns when I moved to Kirksville, Missouri (pop. 1960s about 12,000). But I didn’t really know about small towns until the late 1970s when I started visiting Ben Wheeler and Edom in East Texas. My good friends, Charlie and Reva Ogilvie, had a guest ranch outside Ben Wheeler, and we ate at The Shed in Edom frequently.

Ben Wheeler bothered me. It was then almost a ghost town, with boarded up store fronts, though I understand it’s had a renaissance, thanks to the man who bought Arc Ridge Ranch from the Ogilvies. It was like many small towns I had driven through: it needed a coat of paint. We went once to a dilapidated roller skating rink (my kids loved it) and more often than I liked to a dismal grocery store, since boarded up, where I trusted neither the cleanliness nor the temperature of the refrigerator and freezer units. Don’t even talk about the freshness of the vegetables. For real grocery shopping, we went to Brookshires in Canton, but I guess that’s a feature of small-town life—going to the nearest good-sized town for a lot of things.

Edom, on the other hand, delighted me. We went several years to the annual craft fair, and other times we wandered the main street which featured craft shops—pottery, leather workers, jewelry makers, and a wonderful women’s clothing store. I was amazed that the main street, a state highway, had neither stoplight nor stop sign. You took your chances and you ran like hell.

The best thing in Edom to my family was The Shed.

I suppose The Shed isn’t much different from lots of small-town cafés with chicken-fried steak, fried catfish, glorious meringue pies (Charlie told me it was all air so no calories, and  I reminded him about the pudding bottom), and huge breakfasts. The thing I loved most was that everyone knew Charlie and Reva and greeted them happily. We basked in a small afterglow of fame because we were their guests.

That café and that town became so firmly embedded in my mind that they formed the setting for my mystery series, Blue Plate Café Mysteries. I changed the town name to Wheeler, but no one from that part of the state will be fooled, and I was careful to note that the murders there were from my imagination and reflected in no way on Edom or its residents. But the fictional counterpart of The Shed is central to the story.

A friend who grew up in Granbury, Texas wrote me, “You nailed small-town life.” It was the biggest compliment I could have gotten.

 

Murder at the Blue Plate Cafe

Small towns are supposed to be idyllic and peaceful, but when Kate Chambers returns to her hometown of Wheeler, Texas, she soon learns it is not the comfortable place it was when she grew up. First there’s Gram’s sudden death, which leaves her suspicious, and then the death of her married sister’s lover. Kate runs Gram’s restaurant, the Blue Plate Café, but she must defend her sister against a murder charge, solve the murders to keep her business open, and figure out where the café’s profits are going. Even Kate begins to wonder about the twin sister she has a love-hate relationship with. Gram guides Kate through it all, though Kate’s never quite sure she’s hearing Gram—and sometimes Gram’s guidance is really off the wall.

Kate’s adventures continue in Murder at Tremont House, when she still has to deal with a journalist, intent on probing small-town secrets, gone missing, contradictory stories about the local teen-age heartthrob, and the series of men who seem to rotate through her life.

No, life in a small town is anything but idyllic and peaceful. But Kate loves the café, and she shares some of her favorite recipes—and some of her good friends.

 

Read more from this author in the Small Town Charm Box Set! 8 Stories. 8 Authors. 99 cents!

**for a limited time**

SmallTownCLM-MDSmall town America has its charm—not to mention its fair share of romance and mystery!

Everyone knows small towns have their own unique charm, that’s why they make fabulous settings for stories! Turquoise Morning Press presents the best of their small town settings—all in one volume, and for one very small town price!

From Drakes Springs, Florida, to Briny Bay, North Carolina, to Wheeler, Texas, where a little romance and a lot of murder and mystery take center-stage—and then to Honey Creek, Ohio and Legend, Tennessee, where home-grown romance blooms, and love lives right next door.

Eight fabulous authors share their views of small town charm, love and mystery in this eight book boxed set—providing you with a satisfying glimpse into the lives and stories of the quirky characters who live in these charming settings.

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | IBOOKS | KOBO | SMASHWORDS | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS

 

About Judy:

resized

An award-winning novelist, Judy Alter is the author of five books in the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries series: Skeleton in a Dead Space, No Neighborhood for Old Women, Trouble in a Big Box, Danger Comes Home and Deception in Strange Places.  With the Blue Plate Mystery series, Murder at the Blue Plate Café and Murder at the Tremont House, she moved from inner city Fort Worth to small-town East Texas to create a new set of characters in a setting modeled after a restaurant that was for years one of her family’s favorites.

Before turning her attention to mystery, Judy wrote fiction and nonfiction, mostly about women of the American West, for adults and young-adult readers. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Western Writers of America, the Texas Institute of Letters, and the National Cowboy Museum and Hall of Fame. She has been honored with the Owen Wister Award for Lifetime Achievement by WWA and inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame at the Fort Worth Public Library.

Follow Judy at http://www.judyalter.com or her two blogs at http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com or http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com. Or look for on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857?fref=ts or on Twitter where she is @judyalter.

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