Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Mother's Mirrors


My mother's death certificate says she died of sepsis. Cardiac arrest would have been as accurate, since both were results of other conditions. You'll never see it on a death certificate, but she died of osteoporosis and Lewy body dementia.

When my mother started talking about “that family in the next room,” I knew we had a problem. The “next room” she was referring to was the mirrored closet door in her bedroom.
            My mother had Lewy body dementia. Lewy bodies are the abnormal round structures that are deposited in the brain when people have Parkinson’s disease. Although people with Lewy body dementia sometimes develop physical symptoms similar to Parkinson’s, the first symptom is usually an inability to separate reality from—what? Dreams? Misinterpretation of sensory stimuli? It’s the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s, yet most people have never heard of it.
            My mother had been diagnosed only a few months earlier because she called me while I was on my way home from church.
            “Where are you?”
            I could tell by the tone of her voice that something was wrong. “What’s going on?”
            “Well, I might need your help later. I just wanted to be sure you were around in case they didn’t leave.”
            “In case who didn’t leave?”
            “Oh, there’s a man and a woman. I guess she’s his wife. An older man—her father, I think. And some kids.”
            “What are they doing?”
            “Just looking around. They pick up stuff and look at it and put it back down. I asked them what they want, but they won’t talk to me.”
            I wasn’t more than fifteen minutes away, and I wasted no time getting to her condo.  When I arrived, she seemed a little frightened. Her eyes darted nervously around the room—which looked exactly as it had the last time I visited her—nobody there but her, and nothing out of place.
            “Did they leave?”
            “I don’t know where the others went, but the older man went into the bathroom. He must be sick, because it really stinks now.”
            The bathroom door was nearly closed. Half afraid of what I might find when I pushed it open, I was nevertheless emboldened by my inability to smell anything more than my mother’s favorite air freshener. Cautiously, I peeked in.
            The bathroom was empty.
            I spent the next two hours trying to convince my mother to go with me to the emergency room. Worst case, I feared she’d had a stroke; best case, I knew she’d suffered hallucinations several years ago when she had low blood sugar.
            And I did convince her. But four hours in the emergency room produced no explanation for her Sunday “visitors.” In fact, she was surprisingly healthy for her 84 years—her blood pressure and cholesterol were better than mine!
            “I must have dozed off and had a dream,” she said, by way of explanation.
            I didn’t buy it. She’d been awake when I arrived, yet she was convinced one of them was still around. And I discovered later that another of them, a boy about eight years old, stayed behind and kept her company, sometimes watching over her while she slept. She named him Peanut. She enjoyed his company, but she wasn’t as sure about the rest of the family, especially the father. She didn’t trust him.
            When my brother-in-law and his family came to visit at Christmas, they covered the mirrors with pretty stick-on paper, thinking that maybe if she couldn’t see the reflections, she’d realize they were simply closet doors instead of a portal into another world where people that only she could see lived. And for a while, it seemed to work. But the hallucinations started being triggered by the bathroom mirrors, and they became more frightening. Because she seemed to fare fairly well during the day, I started spending the night with her, but soon realized she needed someone with her who was awake and alert 24 hours a day. The complex she lived in included a section for assisted living, so she moved from her condo into an apartment.
            There, too, she was convinced she was seeing people in another room through her mirrors, but they didn’t come into her quarters as often as they had. For a time, she would buzz for help or walk down to the dining room and help the staff fold napkins if she became frightened at night. Then one afternoon she called me to come get her because she wanted “to go home.” I found her outside the building, waiting for me at the curb. Usually that wasn’t a problem. Residents came and went as they pleased, and she had often met me outside when we were going out to eat, which we did at least a couple of times a week. But this time she was outside because my father, who had died three years ago, was working in the attic, and he and his crew were making so much noise it was giving her a headache. She wanted to go home, meaning my childhood home, which they had left about the time I started college. If she had started out to try to find it before I’d arrived, she could easily have wound up on a busy highway. We had to move her into the memory unit.
            The memory unit had fewer mirrors. Although she had fewer visits from the family—even Peanut was absent—she started having visits from relatives: my niece of 15 years earlier, a cousin of 30 years earlier. They always needed her help—help she was unable to give. Then one night she was convinced she was a visitor in someone’s home, and while the attendant stepped out to let her change into her pajamas, she decided to shower in order to free up the bathroom—her private bathroom—for those who needed to shower in the morning. Unattended, she flooded the bathroom floor, then slipped and fell when she stepped out. Her spine, like chalk from osteoporosis, crumbled, leaving her nearly paralyzed below the waist.
            Her room in the nursing home had no mirrors, and she had no invisible visitors during the week she was there. The day she died, she was more alert and lucid than she had been for months. Then she just drifted away, staring into space. At almost exactly midnight, a week after her 86th birthday, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and just—stopped.
            Going through her things, which had accumulated in my garage as she moved to progressively smaller quarters, I found a small looking glass set in a carved wooden frame. It now lies on the vanity in my bathroom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Season to Remember, Christmas-themed stories from Australian authors



A Christmas anthology from four Australian authors
Eva Scott, Susanne Bellamy, Elizabeth Ellen Carter, and Noelle Clark
Free download from Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/49354
Four short stories on the Christmas theme, spanning time, places. Uplifting,
 funny, thought-provoking, heart-warming, ‘A Season to Remember’ will make your heart sing.

        ‘Three Ships’ by Elizabeth Ellen Carter
An adventure romance set in the early 19th century on the Devon Coast. Laura Winter lives on St Joseph’s Rock, a tidal island that is home to a lighthouse that protects Ashton-on-Sea. On a late November day a violent storm brings not only the handsome Lieutenant Michael Renten but also a clutch of pirates bent on wreaking mischief.

‘Sands of Time’ by Noelle Clark
Kitty faces her first Christmas without the love of her life. She looks back with fondness on the memories of Christmases past and, with the love and support of her grandson Joe, finds inner strength
to face the future with anticipation. Kitty realises that, as she gets older, time passes so quickly.
Although sad and happy memories flood through her on this special Christmas day, she chooses to
embrace every moment of life.

‘All That Glitters’ by Eva Scott
Molly is a modern day Cinderella, second best to her half-sister Aimee and never measuring up to her step-mother’s expectations. Now Aimee has the chance to marry an elderly millionaire and Molly is expected to keep the man’s grandson, Connor Rathmore, from sabotaging the event. Handsome,
charismatic and very, very sexy - how is she going to keep him from sabotaging her heart?

‘A Touch of Christmas’ by Susanne Bellamy
As Starship Bluefire settles into orbit around Earth, Captain Andra Veluthian anticipates meeting her favourite human, Colonel Nick Madigan. Have his efforts to save the planet succeeded? And if so, will she lose any chance to be with him?
Knowing Andra’s fascination with all things Terran, Nick has planned a surprise for her. After all, it is Christmas, the season of giving. But when Earth’s leader and the Gravlarian captain spend time planet side, the temperature soars. 




Friday, November 7, 2014

Wild Fire Release Blog Party and Settings Hunt



Thank you so much for being part of the  release party and giveaway for the sixth book in my Guardian Witch series!
 (See contest details at the bottom.)

Book Blurb:

A vision. A lost talisman. A dangerous journey through time...

A month after their bonding, Ari and Andreas are still adjusting to married life when they learn the hard way that the O-Seven, the terrifying and brutal vampire elders, still have them in their sights. A three million dollar bounty hangs over each of their heads, and there’s no lack of assassins eager to collect.

When the local seer has a terrifying vision of the destruction of Riverdale, it’s up to Ari—as usual—to keep everyone safe. Only this time, an enemy from the past has bound her fire powers, and the city’s string of arsons seems connected.

Daron, the vampire prince in Toronto, has information that two of the vampire elders are on their way to Riverdale. Which can’t be good. Only a risky and unprecedented journey through time can provide the help they need. But that will leave Andreas to face the O-Seven alone...

Buy Links:

Also available at most online booksellers

Book Trailer on Youtube: http://youtu.be/nGO1wudi7xQ

Excerpt:

The tracks in the snow gradually moved up the slope toward the older parts of Riverdale, out of the tourist district, past residential homes, angling toward the cliff area that overlooked the Mississippi River. Then it took a sharp swing north.

Ari looked ahead, her gaze following the tracks through the gate and into the Riverdale Cemetery. "I don't like this." She came to a stop with one hand on the gate. "Don't you think the trail is a bit too obvious? As if he wanted us to follow him?" Her eyes scanned the cemetery grounds for anything unusual, a shadow, a hint of color out of place among the stones and crypts. The only sizable tracks went behind a tall mausoleum.

"A trap?" Ryan drew his pistol. "Do you sense something?"

"Maybe. But there is a lot of magical interference in graveyards." Ari frowned. She sensed a flicker of Otherworld power, but it didn't feel right. Shielded? Would a halfling demon be that good? She eased through the gate; Ryan followed close behind. Her magic stirred, raising the hairs on her arms, and she stopped, extending her witch senses to probe the area around them—tasting, smelling, touching the environment. Her magic roared to life.

"Back!" she shouted. "Power. And lots of it."

Two gigantic figures leaped from the top of the nearest crypt. A howling rent the quiet of the cemetery. By the time the creatures landed—one in front of Ari and Ryan, and the other cutting them off from the gate—both had morphed into fiery red, eight-foot demons, their eyes deep black holes. Each carried a metal shield and swung a five-foot mace.

"Hellsgate warriors!" Ari crouched, raising her fingers to call the witch fire to her command.

Author Bio:

Ally Shields was born and raised in the Midwest, along the Mississippi River, and considers herself a "river rat." The setting and folklore of that area are often incorporated into her Guardian Witch series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009. She loves writing, reading and traveling. Way too often she can be found on Twitter. @ShieldsAlly

Author Contacts:

Other books in the series:

Awakening the Fire (#1); Fire Within (#2; Burning Both Ends (#3); Blood and Fire (#4); Fire Storm (#5).

Coming Soon:

Eternal Fires (Guardian Witch #7) (TBA)

Also by Ally Shields:

Cross Keys, an Elvenrude novel (October 2014)


Blog Tour GIVEAWAY: Nov. 7-10:  Readers and writers always talk about characters in books, but settings are almost as important, and they play a huge role in the Guardian Witch series. Wild Fire is no exception, and this blog tour is revealing several settings that are the backdrop for major events in the book. In fact, I think they're so important that I'm running a special contest.

If you collect the names and numbers of all ten settings, you could win your choice of three ebooks in the series (including this latest release) or a $15.00 Amazon gift certificate. It's easy to do. Here are the rules.

Visit the blogs on this list -- or enough to collect all ten settings -- then email me at allyshieldsbooks@gmail.com by 9:00 a.m. EST, Monday, November 10, 2014 with your completed list. You will automatically be entered in the random drawing (two winners).

NOTE: A setting may appear on more than one blog, so be sure you have 10 different settings before turning in your entry.

Here is the list of participating blogs*:


(*If you can't find a post, return to allyshields.com for updated links and blogs.)

Now for the setting: #5

 Setting #5:  Magic Lab - Technically labeled the Otherworld Forensics and Research Laboratory, the lab is part of the Otherworld Cultural Center. It includes the library, research area and a lower level autopsy department.


Good luck! Thanks for  joining Wild Fire's release celebration!

More Fun: Those of you who read this before 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. EST on November 7, are invited to join us at the official Facebook release party (https://www.facebook.com/events/314795258698003/) for games and prizes, including books, swag and more gift certificates!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reluctant Prince Coming November 3--Betrayal lies cloaked in shadow





The first book of Dani-Lyn Alexander's Kingdom of Cymmera series is poised to publish on November 3. In it you'll meet seventeen-year-old Ryleigh Donnovan, who is certain her life is cursed, and Jackson Maynard, who fails the final test that will make him a Death Dealer, a warrior for the Kingdom of Cymmera.


Nothing in Ryleigh's life ever goes smoothly, and her first job interview is no exception. An earthquake rocks the building, sending Ryleigh on a frantic search for her younger sister, a search which lands her in the hospital. Terrified she be pushed for answers she can’t afford to give, Ryleigh flees with a mysterious stranger--

Jackson Maynard, who has been forced to stand trial for treason against the Kingdom of Cymmera because he fails to acquire the human girl the prophet has chosen. Banished from his realm, he seeks out the girl from the vision, Ryleigh Donnovan, and together they embark on a journey to save his dying kingdom.

You can find Reluctant Prince at:

The author, Dani-Lyn Alexander, lives on Long Island with her husband, three kids and three dogs. She loves spending time with her family--at the beach, the playground, or just about anywhere. In her spare time, which is rare, she enjoys reading and shopping—especially in book stores. Some of her favorite things include Bernese Mountain Dogs, musicals, bubble baths and soft blankets. She’s an incurable insomniac and is addicted to chocolate. You can find her online on her website at   http://www.danilynalexander.com, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/danilynalexander, and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DaniLynAlexande.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Zodiac Collector by Laura Diamond, Board Certified Psychiatrist and Lucid Dreamer

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Laura Diamond, author of The Zodiac Collector, is a board certified psychiatrist and author of young adult paranormal, dystopian, and horror stories. She’s also a fellow lucid dreamer, though I'm not nearly as good at it as she is. But both of us pen stories inspired by our dreams. Laura has many published titles including the Pride Series (New Pride, Shifting Pride, soon to be re-released, and Tsavo Pride), the Endure Series (Endure and Evoke, soon to be re-released), The Zodiac Collector, a novella Sunset Moon in the Lore anthology, and several short stories. 


The Zodiac Collector is about almost-16-year-old Anne Devans, to whom the annual Renaissance 
Faire means three things—her dad spending weeks in the smithy, her bipolar mom doing some manic costume making, and another ruined birthday for her and her twin sister, Mary.

This year, Anne wants things to be different, and she’s going to do things her way.

On the eve of the Faire, Anne (along with a reluctant Mary) conjures up a spell that will make their 16th birthday party a whirlwind event. Little do they know that it’s a literal request.

After the mini tornado in their room subsides, the girls realize they’ve invoked the power of the Gemini Twins, Castor and Pollux. That’s the good news. The bad news is they also caught the attention of a sorceress named Zeena who has been collecting children born under each Zodiac Sign to enhance her power. Once she captures Anne and Mary, Gemini twins, the entire Zodiac—and the world—will be hers.

Anne leads the fight against Zeena, but her one-sided decisions could throw them into a world so far from home, even the Renaissance Faire would seem like a brilliant vacation. Between managing their new Zodiac powers, dodging their manic mother and trying to stop Zeena, they’ll get a 16th birthday they’ll never forget.

Purchase Links:

Find Laura Diamond on the Web:


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Will to Love Now In Paperback!


My little novelette, The Will to Love, is now available from Amazon in paperback as well as for Kindle! It's a story about unrequited love, true love, and destined love, with a rattlesnake thrown in. Here's the prologue and the first few paragraphs of Chapter One so you can take a quick look at it.

Prologue
Daniel knew he was dead. He seemed to be hanging in darkness somewhere far above the hospital. But he could see every detail through the ceiling as the EMTs worked with his body on the gurney in the emergency room—one forcing air into his lungs and one pounding his chest while Dr. Agnew charged the paddles to try to jumpstart his heart.
The doctor positioned the paddles. “Clear!” The body convulsed, but after an initial blip, the trace running across the EKG screen returned to an erratic line.
Dr. Agnew turned to the nurse who was adjusting the defibrillator. “Again.”
Daniel watched his body convulse yet again, and the line again jumped, continued with a few spasmodic blips, then settled into a flat, steady progress across the screen. The doctor stood frozen, paddles held ready to use. “He isn’t responding.”
The nurse turned to reach for a nearby tray of syringes.
“No. Don’t.” The doctor lowered his hands and shook his head slowly. “We’ve already resuscitated him once in spite of his advanced directive. It’s time to let him go.”
The nurse blinked to hold back the moisture gathering in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I know you were friends.”
“Damn!” The doctor thrust the paddles at her and stalked out, sorrow twisting his features.
“Too bad,” said one of the EMTs. “Heard he was a pretty nice guy. Donated a chunk of money to upgrade the cardiac care wing when his wife died.”
“He was. And we failed him.” Still holding the paddles, the nurse wiped at her cheek with one forearm.
The scene began to fade as Daniel felt himself float away into a swirling gray mist. Where the hell is the tunnel? And the light I’m supposed to follow?
He heard a chuckle. No—sensed it. Puzzled, he turned to find out who was laughing at him, and saw a dim glow in the distance. Was that the light? As he moved toward it, the glow grew brighter until he realized he was in a church. Shadowed pews on each side of a broad aisle seemed to be filled with people. Was this his funeral? If so, the people looked awfully damn happy, and he didn’t see a casket. Instead, a minister stood in front of a flower-laden altar, and in front of him…
It was his son, Dan! Older, maybe by ten years, and dressed in a tux. He stood facing a girl with tousled red hair topped by an ornate veil that spilled down the back of her simple, form-fitting—and a very nice form it fit—wedding gown.
His son must be getting married. He was sure he’d never seen the girl before, but she looked familiar somehow. Like someone he’d known once, a long time ago. He wanted to get a better look at her, and found himself drifting around to look into her face.
A shimmer in the air above and behind the young woman began to coalesce as he realized who the young woman resembled—Virginia, the girl he’d fallen in love with fifty years ago, the girl who’d left him wanting to die because he couldn’t imagine living without her. The slanted eyes were the same aqua green, and that slim-waisted, full-hipped figure was identical.
He looked back at the shimmer and gasped as it took the form in his memory. Not the graying, stooped Virginia he’d seen in recent photos, but the young, vital woman he’d known. She smiled at him, filling him with the same deep ache as when she was seventeen and he twenty, and he heard her voice: It’ll be OK, Daniel. It wasn’t our time. It will be theirs.
Then darkness fell and he was sucked into a whirlpool, spun and battered and spewed forth into hard, brilliant cold. He gasped as pain shot through his body and his eyes flew open to see a wide-eyed nurse jump away and collide with the table near the gurney, sending a metal tray crashing across the floor.
“Oh, my God! He’s alive!” An alarm started to shrill, bringing feet thudding toward him.
I am alive, he thought, with some surprise. And I have a lot to do before I die.

Chapter One
Mandy lowered her suitcase to the floor and stared around the entry—or foyer, she supposed it would be called—of the mansion where the taxi had dropped her. The foyer was bigger than the combined living room and both bedrooms of her cottage back in Illinois. The floor under her Walmart luggage looked like marble.
Double doors opened opposite a wide staircase that curved up past a multi-tiered crystal chandelier, and a gray-haired woman wearing an elegantly tailored suit strode out, head down, examining something on a clipboard. Mandy cleared her throat, and the woman looked up with a slight frown. Her eyes traveled from Mandy’s tousled copper-colored hair, down her Star Wars T-shirt, to her worn jeans, and ended on her Reeboks before returning to the freckles sprinkled sparsely across Mandy’s pug nose.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Australian-Based Author D L Richardson Celebrates Spring With Book Giveaway



Fall is approaching here in Central Illinois, but Spring has sprung in Australia, and what better way for Australian-based speculative fiction author D L Richardson to celebrate than with a giveaway? D L Richardson is giving one lucky reader the chance to win an autographed copy of her first published novel The Bird With The Broken Wing. Night Owl Reviews reviewer said they “…really enjoyed the twists and turns.” You can read the full review here http://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Reviews/Cute-Writer-reviews-The-Bird-With-The-Broken-Wing-by-D-L-Richardson .

The contest is being run through Rafflecopter and it’s so easy to enter. Good luck, and don’t forget to share this great prize with your friends.



The Bird With the Broken Wing

When mortals make mistakes, they’re forgiven.
When angels make mistakes, they’re forsaken.

Angels may not reveal themselves to mortals...but when the mortal Rachael's watching over is hurting, how can she stay hidden in the shadows? Guardian angel Rachael becomes trapped with the mortal she's been assigned to watch over. Unable to watch him suffer, she decides the only way to free him of his inner demons is to break the rules about becoming involved, revealing her true identity, and applying divine intervention. But what choice does she have? Without her help, his soul will be trapped forever. Then a stranger appears, giving Rachael reason to wonder if his is the only soul in need of saving...


Buy Links:

Can’t wait for the contest to be over to read the book? You can download the ebook immediately and it’s now reduced to $2.99 and available at all online retailers.


Author Bio:

D L Richardson has young adult teen novels published and one short story anthology. Her first two YA novels The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback came out with Etopia Press in 2011 and 2012. Her third YA novel Little Red Gem was self-published in 2013 and was runner up on Paranormal Books Best Standalone YA book of 2013 and the book trailer was featured on USA Today website. She is currently working on a serialised science fiction novel.


Author Contacts:
Website: www.dlrichardson.com   
Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/pages/D-L-Richardson/223019004391960?ref=hl   

Also by D L Richardson:

Feedback
Little Red Gem