Category Archives: SUPERNATURAL

What do you do if you’re a horror fiction author and you actually see a ghost? You write about it!

Chabot Observatory

Chabot Observatory

As I write this, I’m hard at work on my novel The Astronomer’s Crypt, which tells the story of an observatory haunted by the ghost of its founder. Much of the novel is inspired by my own experiences at observatories. Last month, I put out a call for haunted observatory stories and I’ve heard some interesting tales.

Author and editor David B. Riley tells me he heard stories of shadow entities at Chabot Observatory in Oakland, California. He had a roommate many years ago who worked for Oakland Park Police and swore people were seeing entities around there. Shadow entities are also known as black ghosts.

Dressing Room Ghost on Queen Mary In Long Beach, CA

Dressing Room Ghost (as seen by David Lee Summers) on Queen Mary In Long Beach, CA

So far, my most convincing ghost encounter was with one of these shadow entities on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. I was in the changing rooms of the First Class swimming pool and took a photo. I thought I saw a person reflected in the flash, but when I walked in that direction, no one was there. When I looked at the photo on my computer and adjusted the contrast and brightness, I saw a figure standing there, apparently in an old-fashioned bathing suit. For some reason, this “being”  was not illuminated in my flash! You can read the full story here: “Queen Mary Ghost”

Dr. Don Terndrup of Ohio State University told me a story about an observatory where visiting astronomers were cautioned about the woman in white. She would appear in the morning, not long before sunrise, holding a tea kettle. Sure enough, the observers would be working late into the evening when the door to the observing room would slowly creek open. They’d turn around and there would be a woman in white robes holding a kettle.

It turns out the woman was the observatory director’s wife, who would get up early to make tea for the astronomers visiting the observatory. Apparently she never understood why the astronomers always seemed so frightened when she would appear!

In last month’s post, I told the story of James Lick, who is buried under the pier of the 36-inch Telescope at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton in California. Dr. Elinor Gates who works at the observatory tells me astronomers routinely tell tourists who come to public night at the 36-inch that Lick’s ghost will appear and snatch a visitor from the group. Of course, the astronomers guiding those sessions are just joking.

0032_LitSlits © 2003 Laurie Hatch, image and text - LICK OBSERVATORY - Mt. Hamilton  California 2003 Spring - Looking west from Kepler Peak at twilight, dome lights briefly illuminate  the Lick 36” (left) and Shane 120“ (right) telescopes. Soon the lights will be extinguished, and telescopes and domes will rotate toward the first objects of the night. Observing has already begun at the Nickel 40” Reflector in the smaller dome at horizon level just left of center; its darkened slit is also facing east. Midway between the Main Building and the Shane are the Tauchmann 22” Reflector left, and Carnegie Double Astrograph right.       - The photographer thanks UCO / Lick Observatory staff for their continual and enthusiastic support. - A VIEW FROM LICK OBSERVATORY  - Lick Observatory crowns the 4,200-foot Mt. Hamilton summit above Silicon Valley in central California. This research station serves astronomers from University of California campuses and their collaborators worldwide. Eccentric Bay Area tycoon and philanthropist James Lick (1796-1876) bequeathed funding for construction which spanned from 1880 to 1887, fulfilling his vision of the Observatory as a premier astronomical facility. In 1959, the Shane 3-meter reflecting telescope was completed on Mt. Hamilton. It continues to provide data for forefront research and engineering programs. In total, the mountain top is home to ten telescopes which are supported by resident staff and by headquarters at UC Santa Cruz. Acclaimed for academic excellence, technical expertise, and superior instrumentation, Lick Observatory probes the expanding frontiers of space.  - EXPOSURE DATA: Pentax 67ii, 90mm f/2.8 lens Velvia 50 Color Reversal film, shot at 100 ISO Exposure: 4 seconds @ f/8    - For more information:,,,

© 2003 Laurie Hatch, image and text 
– Mt. Hamilton California
2003 Spring

All jokes aside, it’s said that several people have seen the ghost of James Lick in the Director’s Cottage at Lick Observatory. Dr. Gates lives in the cottage and says she hasn’t seen a ghost . . . yet. That said, a previous resident claims to have had several encounters with the ghost and won’t be convinced the house isn’t haunted.

As you can tell from both of these stories, there’s a common thread of astronomers joking about ghosts. We work in dark, quiet buildings late at night. Often our minds do play tricks on us. I definitely pull an element of dark humor into The Astronomer’s Crypt. As it turns out, astronomers don’t always joke about ghosts. Sometimes we joke about vampires as well. I work as a telescope operator and that means I’m rarely seen at the observatory except between sunset and sunrise. One of my co-workers used to say we were the vampires of the mountain.

dracula-book-cover-e1368750274302This particular co-worker was a fan of vampire novels and convinced me to sit down and read Dracula by Bram Stoker. I’ll never forget the night I read the scene in the novel where the ship carrying the vampire blows into Whitby Harbor. The townspeople find the crew of the Demeter missing. The ship’s captain is dead, lashed to the ship’s wheel. The only living creature is a massive dog or wolf that leaps from the ship and runs off into the storm. The night I read this, a particularly fierce storm blew over Kitt Peak. My duties required that I go outside to check on the buildings periodically . . . in the howling wind, pouring rain, and cracking lightning. Every time a bush rustled or a wind howled through a tree, I was convinced a wolf was going to leap out at me. I’ve been a fan of Dracula and horror novels ever since!

A few years later, I had occasion to write a vampire story. I pulled from what I knew. I told the story of a vampire who operated telescopes. He only appeared between sunset and sunrise and never complained about the hours. He never told ghost stories to scare his observers because he wanted them unwary, not suspecting he might attack at any minute. This story went on to become a central chapter in my novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order.

VAMPIRES OF THE SCARLET ORDER COVER 2Although I won’t admit to being a vampire and I can’t honestly say I’ve seen a ghost at the observatory, I’ve certainly been able to channel those spooky experiences into my writing. Through them, I get to explore the stories of people rising to meet impossible challenges, which in turn tells me much about what makes us noble as human beings.

Here’s wishing you and yours a very Happy and Spooky Halloween!

You can purchase David Lee Summers’s books at Lachesis Publishing, on amazon, Barnes and Noble, kobo, and iBooks.

Connect with David Lee Summers. online via facebook and twitter, and check out his web site.

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Zombies, Bram Stoker Awards, and author Joe McKinney #horror #scifi #amreading #amwriting

Author Joe McKinney is serious about zombies. Image:

Author Joe McKinney is serious about zombies.

In our ongoing series THE BOOK THAT HOOKED YOU at the Lachesis Publishing Daily Blog we feature Q and As with established and successful authors who tell us about the books and authors they love as well as telling us about the books they are working on.

Today’s Q and A features Joe McKinney, the multi-talented and a Bram Stoker Award winning author (multiple times) of horror fiction, science fiction and crime thrillers. Joe McKinney is based in San Antonio where he is a sergeant for the San Antonio Police Department where he helps to run their 911 Dispatch Center. He has been a homicide detective and a disaster mitigation specialist. 

$_35200px-Sc48Take us back to when you first discovered horror and science fiction. When did you become a reader? How old were you? What were some of the books that made an impact on you?

JM: My gateway drug was Stewart Cowley’s SPACEWRECK. An absolutely beautiful book. Every page featured a full size colored painting of some eerie, abandoned spaceship. There was a two or three page short story to go with each painting, and I would spend hours going through them. I must have read that book a thousand times. I think I was seven when I first found that book, and after that I went into Robert Heinlein’s juveniles. My favorite of those was SPACE CADET.

51lQEI1IcrL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_bl_26_ebookimg-swan-song_134432244231Tell us about a few of the authors who inspired you, when you first started in your own writing career?

JM: One big inspiration was Lee Thomas. We met at a convention in Dallas shortly after I published my first novel, and we’ve been friends ever since. Lee has been through just about joy and nightmare the publishing world can throw at an author, and he was a tremendous mentor. As to authors who inspired me, I’d have to point to Robert McCammon. His early works were amazing takes on classic horror tropes, like vampires and zombies and werewolves. But after that, he went into these fantastically lush novels like Boy’s Life and Swan Song that set the bar impossibly high. When I write, I push myself to try to be that good.

51zJ3HUbaCL._SX309_BO1,204,203,200_You write horror, science fiction, and crime novels. Tell us what draws you to those three genres?

JM: You know, I think the genre finds you and not the other way around. It’s like water finding its own level. You end up in horror because you have to be there. I’m a pretty upbeat guy most of the time, and I try to have a great deal of fun in everything I do, but when I write, it just ends up going to dark places. I wish I could give you a better answer than that, but that’s about the size of it.

Image of Joe McKinney

Image of Joe McKinney

You’re a police supervisor in your “day job”. How does your very challenging police work impact your writing?

JM: Well, police work has colored my entire writing career. Not only because a lot of my characters tend to be cops, but also my approach to characters. In fact, I think it’s impossible to underestimate the influence it’s had on my writing. You can’t do this job without it changing you in a fundamental way. Maybe that’s where the dark stuff comes from.

51JOK-Blf7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about a book that you’ve read recently (past year) that blew you away (can be from any genre).

JM: That’s easy. 14 by Peter Clines was an amazing science fiction adventure story with a crazy Lovecraftian turn at the end. A young man is looking for a cheap apartment in the heart of LA. He finds one, but after he moves in, finds one odd quark of the building after another. Any one of them wouldn’t amount to much, but when taken in their totality, they add up to a mystery with shades of a government conspiracy and cosmic horror. Trust me, one of the best times I’ve ever had between the covers of a book. I also loved The Martian by Andy Weir and Ready Player One by Earnest Cline.

What is the coolest thing a reader has ever said (or done) for you?

JM: I once wrote a magic typewriter story called “Writing for Exposure.” A fan of mine enjoyed it so much he found a 1939 Underwood typewriter, completely restored it, and sent it to me as a gift. It has a special place of honor on the shelf in my office.

510hvfHPSeL._SX296_BO1,204,203,200_You’ve won the Bram Stoker Award twice now – tell us about your books that won and how you feel about being on that illustrious list?

The first time I won was for my novel Flesh Eaters. That’s the origin story for my zombie series, The Dead World. You can probably tell from what I’ve written above that I’m a huge Robert McCammon fan. Well, he was one of the presenters for the award, and when I went up to the stage to receive it, McCammon leaned in and whispered, “Great job, Joe. I love your book.” I nearly fainted right there. To this day, that remains one of my finest writing moments ever.

51QLxzTbdLL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Tell us about your latest release THE DEAD WON’T DIE (part of an ongoing series) Tell us about the book and the series.

JM: The Dead Won’t Die is Book 2 in my new zombie series, The Deadlands. It’s been thirty years since the zombie apocalypse, and only little pockets of humanity have survived. One of those communities is a place called Arbella. Arbella has not only survived, but thrived, and now they are getting so big they need to expand. The trouble is, nobody knows what’s out there. So, one of the up and coming members of the community, First Deputy of the Constabulary Jacob Carlton, organizes an expedition to go explore the Deadlands. In the first book Jacob and his friend Kelly Banis barely survive their encounter with the nomadic communities that wander the Deadlands. They are rescued by a super advanced society called Temple. The Dead Won’t Die takes us into a vast conspiracy that is threatening to destroy Temple from the inside out. Fun stuff, with tons of zombie action thrown in to boot.

THE-RETREAT-both-coversWhat are you currently working on and when can we expect it to be released?

JM: I’m currently finishing up Book 3 in a series that I’m writing with Craig DiLouie and Stephen Knight. My installment is called Die Laughing. The series takes place in the present day, along the Eastern seaboard. A new disease called The Bug appears on the scene, and it turns its victims into unspeakably cruel and viscous killers. The disease victims are called Klowns because they cannot control their laughter. It’s how they process pain, both their own and their victims. A battalion of light infantry is in Boston when the series starts, tasked with protecting the populace. But they never had a chance, and now they are in full retreat. The first book was about getting out of Boston. The second book was about the rolling gunfight that got them to Philadelphia. That’s where I pick it up.

You’re a writer of horror and crime and sci-fi. What truly scares you?

JM: Well, snakes and heights. But those are just things that give me the creeps. When I think about things that truly terrify me, I think about Alzheimer’s disease. I watched my grandfather die of that, seeing his mind taken from him just scared me to death. Now that I’m older, the fear is even stronger.

Bonus: What is your “go-to” snack when you’re writing?

JM: Popcorn. Definitely popcorn.

limbus-inc-coverJoe McKinney is the San Antonio-based author of several horror, crime and science fiction novels. His longer works include the four part Dead World series, made up of Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead, Flesh Eaters and The Zombie King; the science fiction disaster tale, Quarantined, which was nominated for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award for superior achievement in a novel, 2009; and the crime novel, Dodging Bullets. His upcoming releases include the horror novels Lost Girl of the Lake, The Red Empire, The Charge and St. Rage. Joe has also worked as an editor, along with Michelle McCrary, on the zombie-themed anthology Dead Set, and with Mark Onspaugh on the abandoned building-themed anthology The Forsaken. His short stories and novellas have been published in more than thirty publications and anthologies.

Connect with Joe McKinney via is his website, on facebook, twitter, @JoeMcKinney and you can email him at

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Two unique women come into his life . . . he will never be the same

Ghosts-of-Glory-453x680-300x450Tuesday’s Revolving Book is the urban fantasy/ paranormal GHOSTS OF GLORY by Morgan Chalfant.

Get it on Amazon

Jersey “The Brawler” Romero is dying. Slowly. Tediously. Not the way he thought he would go out on the savage streets of Glory, the Twilight City. But all of that is about to change when Jersey is granted his youth again by a messenger of the Twilight Goddess, the Spirit of Glory. He’s also given a mission: save Glory from the dark forces that are bent on destroying her.

Jersey’s been a fighter his whole life, whether it was on the streets where he struggled to survive, or in prison where he fought to stay alive. Glory never gave him anything without a battle, and that’s what he’s always loved about his beloved city. But nothing has prepared him for the war that’s coming. Monster-like creatures masked as humans are bent on exterminating him. Their leader is a mysterious man named Templar. He’s been amassing an underground army called The Black Crux. Templar wants to make Glory his, by laying waste to everyone who stands in his way. Possessing an almost otherworldly vision, Templar knows everything about Jersey, including an explosive secret that will blast away everything Jersey has ever believed.

But Jersey isn’t called “The Brawler” for nothing. He’s determined to fight Templar with everything he’s got. Because he’s not just fighting for his life, he’s fighting for Glory’s very soul.


We’re standing on the roof of Skript and Abigail hasn’t said a word in five minutes. She dragged me up here with such urgency, I figured the show would have started by now.

Sitting down in a damp lawn chair, I wait. Patience and I have nothing to say to each other, but Abigail has me intrigued so I let her have all the time she needs. It’s not easy opening up doors that have been locked for so long, especially to strangers. If that’s what we still were. Maybe strange acquaintance is a better term.

The view from the rooftop is actually quite beautiful. Rarely can the word beauty describe Glory. What little good happens to someone here, happens at the expense of someone else’s pain. Surprisingly, the night is peaceful. It’s never peaceful in Glory, so there’s obviously something off, but I don’t have the time nor the inclination to worry about it at the moment. It’s just the cone of silence. The calm before the storm. Strangely, I’m the calm. Abigail is the surging storm.

My eyes fall from the billions of firefly buildings to a sight more pleasing. Abigail stands looking up at the moon. It’s a waxing half-moon, but there’s still enough light for decent visibility. I watch her take off her leather jacket and pull off the gloves and drop them at her feet. Before my eyes, strange symbols begin to appear on her forearms and hands. The spaghetti strap top she’s wearing leaves much of her neck visible where more symbols begin to shimmer. Spiral patterns. They resemble some sort of tribal ink, but they begin to glow like lanterns in the dark. It’s an eerie, beautiful blue light. Cerulean, turquoise, and sapphire.

I stand up and move closer as Abigail turns around. I can see her face now. The incandescent markings have spiraled up her cheeks, climbing like staircases up to her eyes. Both her eyes shimmer inhumanly, one golden amber, the other a pool of twinkling emerald. Her breathing is erratic, she shakes, like she’s frightened I’m going to run away or grimace at the sight of her.

“Th-this . . . is me.” She stutters. “What . . . what I was talking about.”

Before I know it, she’s reaching for her jacket to cover herself. I spring forward and stop her, grasping her firmly by the shoulders. She looks up at me like she’s a monster that should be cowering in darkness. She won’t look at me. I can’t help but wonder who ever looked at her and cringed. Who made her feel so malformed? It’s perfectly clear to me she’s not the abomination she considers herself to be. She’s the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen. It’s not every day a street devil like me gets to behold a shimmering angel.

I move my hands to her cheeks, rubbing my thumbs over the glittering markings. There’s no textural difference. Her skin is as soft as cashmere. Her radiance is overwhelming. Her glow envelops me.

“My God,” I whisper. “You’re beautiful.”

Like what you’ve read? You can purchase Ghosts of Glory by Morgan Chalfant at  Lachesis Publishing, Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

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Spooky vs. Scary and What’s Love Got To Do With It? by J.D. Spikes (YA paranormal romance author)

J.D. Spikes explores her fascination with the paranormal in her writing.

J.D. Spikes explores her fascination with the paranormal in her writing.

At its basest, the difference between spooky and scary is simple: spooky evokes a more emotional response while scary a more physical one. Spooky runs a shiver up your spine, perhaps makes you glance over your shoulder, but you continue on, drawn through the mist into the eerie darkness, the need to know overpowering your sense of risk. Scary pounds your heart, propels you into fight or flight, forcing you to scramble through the wet blanket of fog in a near-blind panic until you are safely away from the danger.

Halloween-loversSpooky draws people together. The heroine and hero need to stay close, and have each other’s back. They must talk about the peculiar events surrounding them, investigate the threat and find ways to beat it . . . together. Scary splits people up. Blood-pumping and heart-stopping, scary shouts ‘every man for himself’, and warns you to proceed at your own peril. Alone.

What exactly does any of this have to do with love? Everything, if you adore paranormal romance like I do. The chill of the story’s paranormal element joins the thrill of the hero and heroine’s attraction to mirror the scary realization of hearts on the line. Time travel, ghostly whispers, bumps in the night – mere shadows of the adventure falling in love brings.

So grab your favorite paranormal romance novel and your favorite guy. Love is in the air, and both are damn good reasons to hang on.

And BOO!

You can get your copy of The Possession by J.D. Spikes right at Lachesis Publishing or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or ARe

You can get your copy of the Sisters of Spirit Anthology (featuring J.D. Spikes’s at Lachesis Publishing and on, on Kobo, on Barnes and Noble and on itunes (iBooks).

Connect with J.D. on her web site and on facebook

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Sneak Peek of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order (paranormal)

S FALL COVERToday’s Sneak Peek is from Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order (paranormal/historical) by Lachesis Publishing author David Lee Summers.

What it’s about:

Three vampyrs. Three lives. Three intertwining stories.

Bearing the guilt of destroying the holiest of books after becoming a vampyr, the Dragon, Lord Desmond, searches the world for lost knowledge, but instead, discovers truth in love.

Born a slave in Ancient Greece, Alexandra craves freedom above all else, until a vampyr sets her free, but then, she must pay the highest price of all . . . her human soul.

An assassin who lives in the shadows, Roquelaure is cloaked even from himself, until he discovers the power of friendship and loyalty.

Three vampyrs, traveling the world by moonlight—one woman and two men who forge a bond made in love and blood. Together they form a band of mercenaries called the Scarlet Order, and recruit others who are like them. Their mission is to protect kings and emperors against marauders, invaders, rogue vampyrs, and their ultimate nemesis—Vlad the Impaler.


From the writings of Desmond, Lord Draco.

The years 558-560:

As I continued through the Germanic lands, I began to hear legends that people told of dead friends and relatives that would die, and then come back to life—to drink the blood of those left behind. I heard the word neuntoter a few times, but I also heard new names: nosferatu and vampyr.

After leaving Lucilinburhuc, I continued along the Moselle until I came to the Rhine. There I turned south until I came to a land called Mainz.

Winter was rapidly approaching, so I decided to stay there for a time. I learned that the Graf of Mainz, like the Prince of Lucilinburhuc, was a rather benign ruler.

Soon I found and occupied a small wattle and daub hut not too far from the fortress, but deep enough in the woods that no one took a strong interest in my presence.

During my first nights in the region, I heard tales of a nosferatu that was hunting in the region. In the years since Wolf’s death, I began to despair of ever meeting another of my kind. I was still new enough to the region and careful enough on my hunts that I doubted any of the rumors I heard were of myself.

I discovered there was a small tavern near the fortress of Mainz and I began to frequent it so I could hear what stories I could of this nosferatu. As it turned out, the ale at the tavern was quite good and I found that if not for the debilitating effects of the alcohol itself, the rich malty liquid came close to sustaining me.

As I listened to stories, it became clear to me that there was a pattern to the nosferatu’s attacks. They seemed to occur most frequently near an old burial ground in the vicinity of the fortress itself. As such, most people tried to avoid the fortress in general—and that burial ground in particular. I decided it was time to investigate the burial ground.

I found the place easily enough. It was in soft earth on one side of the fortress. Crude stone markers had been erected to mark the places where the departed lay. I found a place near a tree and waited. As the moon began to rise—about two hours after midnight—my keen ears caught the sound of shuffling footsteps on the grass.

Turning toward the sound, I saw a creature who, at first glance, reminded me of Wolf. He was bald and his skin was very gray. I tried to hail him, but the figure ignored me.

Standing, I ran to him.

As I approached, I discovered he had a very earthy smell and his clothes were a shambles, much as mine became when I dug down in the earth for shelter from the sun’s rays.

“Hallo,” I tried calling in the strange Germanic tongue that people of the region spoke.

The creature turned and, as though seeing me for the first time, bared its teeth and hissed like an enraged cat. His eyes were bloodshot and open very wide.

I opened my mouth, revealing my own fangs to the creature.

Becoming very agitated, he ran at me and knocked me to the ground. “Halt, halt!” I cried. “Ich bin Nosferatu.”

The creature lunged at my neck, but I put my hand up under his chin and slammed his jaw shut. A terrible growl-like noise came from somewhere down deep in his throat. He reached out to grab the wrist that I had on his jaw, and that movement, in turn, caused him to unbalance himself.

With my free arm, I pushed him off me. I stood and brushed myself off. “I am like you,” I tried to say, but the creature pushed himself to his feet and rushed at me again.

This time, prepared for his attack, I dodged to the side, then ran for a nearby tree. It was clear to me that this creature—though a neuntoter or nosferatu like me—was quite mad. The cause—living alone or whatever else—I did not know.

I grabbed a tree branch and pulled with all my might until it snapped off. As the creature ran at me, I swung the branch and knocked him to the ground. Before he could get up again, I forced the branch through the creature’s chest, pinning him to the ground.

I dropped down beside him and sat there panting. Tears came to my eyes as I looked at that poor, mad creature that I truly believed had simply been defending himself.

The sound of running footsteps came from the fortress. I looked up to see a pair of guards. They looked at the body on the ground and then they looked at me. “You’ve killed the nosferatu,” one said.

“I think the graf would like to see you,” said the other.

I sighed, but pushed myself to my feet. “Very well.”

The Graf of Mainz proved to be quite impressed with the story of my nosferatu slaying. He offered to let me remain on his lands, rent-free as long as I was willing to defend his realm from such creatures. I kept my composure as best I could and accepted the graf’s offer. I was already prepared to stay in Mainz. However, I did find irony in the idea of being a nosferatu that slayed other nosferatu.

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Sneak Peek Monday: New View by Lynn Jenssen in the Sisters of Spirit Anthology (women’s fiction/romance)

SISTERS-OF-SPIRIT-COVER-300x466I had the pleasure of editing  the lovely and lyrical Sisters of Spirit Anthology (Lachesis Publishing). The anthology features four stories about four very special friends. Written by four real life friends: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk (Lachesis Publishing author of Passion’s Race) and Jeanine Duval Spikes (also known as J.D. Spikes Lachesis Publishing author of The Possession).

What It’s About:

Four life-long friends face the biggest changes of their lives.

Four sisters—not related by blood—but by spirit, each embark on a quest

Four women find out what they’re truly made of, and what love really means.

In “New View” by Lynn Jenssen, a couple’s vow of “for better or worse” is tested to the max under the threat of overwhelming work stress, and marital misunderstandings. But when a danger threatens to tear them apart for good, they face their biggest trial of all.

In “Identity” by Christine Mazurk, a young woman embarks on a complete life-change after losing more than 100 pounds, and through a twist of fate finds herself training for a marathon under the guidance of a super sexy coach. But when she starts falling for the hunky trainer, can she trust her new-found confidence to take her to the finish line?

In “Shaman’s Shell” by Jeanine Duval Spikes, a spunky young woman finds a mystical Native American artifact that could change the course of an archeologist’s career. He wants what she’s got. She doesn’t know if she can trust him. But as an attraction builds between them, the mysterious artifact propels them to discover what they both truly need.

In “Moving Pictures” by Annette Blair, a down-but-never-out woman lands a much-needed job working for one of the top advertising agencies in the country. Her boss is an award-winning exec whose focus has been solely on work for the past few years, to the exclusion of everything else. She doesn’t know why, and he isn’t prepared to tell her. The more reclusive he is, the more determined she is to draw him out, but how can she fight the haunting ghosts of his past?


SOS. Her Sisters of Spirit. Whenever they got together, they giggled, and shared, teased, and played. Good times with good friends.

Marina laughed as she put on her whimsical beachcombing find—a pair of red children’s sunglasses with heart-shaped eyepieces—and modeled them for her friends. “How’s this? It’s a new look for me.” She primped her hair and struck a pose.

“Stunning! Who’s the designer?” Bryce teased.

“Seein’ life through rose-colored glasses?” Clara threw out a line.

“What about ‘blinded by luv?’” Anastasia added her quip.

Marina laughed and followed her friends as they made their way to the car. But the good-natured chatter between the friends soon faded as her vision fogged over and a scene flashed in her mind. Cameron, her husband of seven years, as white as the sheets he lay on, unmoving, unconscious. Fear and panic sickened her stomach and stole her breath. The antiseptic smell of a hospital stung her nose. The emotion-laden picture burned itself into her memory, then faded, and the buzz of her friends’ banter returned.

She took a deep, shuddering breath. What happened? She dared not tell the girls. They’d ask questions. They’d guess the truth.

The vision clung to her psyche, though she hid the disquiet behind a smile to her friends who continued the quips back and forth. She flipped the glasses onto her head, holding her hair away from her face, and concentrated on navigating the dirt road to avoid the biggest of the potholes. She listened as the others talked about their finds, but remained distracted by more than the road conditions.

Once they returned from their outing, the friends separated. Clara and Anastasia walked to the small market in search of ingredients for an impromptu dessert while Marina and Bryce stayed home to start dinner. She suspected they contrived the dessert trip to leave her alone with Bryce, who poured them each a glass of wine.

“Mare, what’s going on? I’m getting turmoil from you. Are you the one who sent the SOS?”

She sipped her wine, taking time to choose her words carefully. “That’s the problem. I don’t know what’s going on. But Cam and I . . . we . . . it’s not the same.” So much for careful word choice. Come on, Marina, be specific. She took another sip. Bryce waited. “We’ve always shared stories about our day when we get home. We laughed together. We listened to each other as we went for a walk or got dinner started.” That’s how it had always been.

She covered the salad and put it in the refrigerator. With the steaks marinating and the salad made, they moved to the deck to enjoy the spring breeze. Bryce prodded, “It feels like there’s more to the story.”

Marina sat on the chaise lounge and curled her legs up under her. “Since Cam got his promotion, things have changed. He comes home later, so we miss our chance to walk together, and I’ve already fixed dinner, sometimes eaten mine without him. He’s quiet and tired. We don’t share our day’s happenings. When I ask or try to talk, his response is minimal, like I’m an effort to talk to. He travels more than ever, and that’s been a strain, too. It’s getting worse. We’d hoped this new promotion would give us the financial stability to do the things we want and be together more. Instead we’ve grown apart; everything feels distant.”

She hated that her voice wobbled—she took another sip of wine to collect herself, but the liquid burned her throat as the tears pricked in her eyes. “I miss the old Cam. The one who laughs at my silly jokes, who makes me smile with a simple wink, the one who sends tingles down my spine with a single look. What’s happened to us?”

“I felt something troubling you.” Bryce reached over and took her hand. “I understand. What are you going to do?”

“Keep talking to him. I don’t know what else to do.” Sadness sat in the pit of her stomach. Bryce squeezed her hand and nodded. But Marina wondered about the vision. Did it symbolize his love for her had died?

Laughter and chatter came from the walkway leading to the house, so they knew the others were back from their mission, ending the conversation.

She took a deep breath and pulled herself away from her friends and quickly texted Cam. Marital concerns aside, she needed to know he was okay. A quick response—‘All’s well.’

With her friends on the island, she planned to enjoy their company and get re-invigorated by her writing. Tough writing romance when your own lacked. She didn’t want to dampen the mood, so she tried to hide her worries by smiling and keeping the attention focused on the others.

It didn’t work with Clara, who cornered her in the kitchen after dinner while they were washing dishes. “Are you okay? You seem kind of quiet this weekend.”

“Things with school, Cam’s new job is hectic, and a little overwhelming. We’re still trying to find a balance.” All true statements, but not the whole truth . . . though she wasn’t even sure what that truth was.

“Have faith. It’ll work out. Remember why you fell in love in the beginning. Keep that first in your heart.”

Later on, Anastasia rubbed Marina’s back and shoulders. “You’re tense. If you want to talk, you know I’ll listen.” Each of her Sisters recognized her heart’s disquiet and each in her own way offered support without prying.

As she tidied the house after their weekend on the island, the red sunglasses she’d found fell out of her jacket pocket. She smiled. “Seeing life through rose colored glasses . . .” She put them on her writing desk in the office. Maybe they’d inspire a happy love story next time she came out to the island to write.

They rushed to close up the house and catch the evening ferry. Marina had one more look around before locking up. “Bye, Mom. I’ll be back soon.” A touch of melancholy hit her. Still home.

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Sneak Peek: The Possession by J.D. Spikes (YA paranormal)

Secret Journals Posession 1400x2100Today’s Sneak Peek is from the YA paranormal The Possession by Lachesis author J.D. Spikes.

Daphne Wentworth is almost seventeen, definitely a red head, and most likely the tallest girl in her class, which is awkward to say the least when it comes to dating boys in her school. But she doesn’t have to worry about school for the next two months since she’s spending the summer at her aunt Dwill’s lighthouse in Maine. What she does have to worry about is seeing ghosts in the lighthouse cemetery, having strange dreams, and hearing the voices of star-crossed lovers who lived two-hundred years ago. And then there’s a local boy named Zach Philbrook who works for her aunt. He’s too gorgeous for his own good. He’s also very tall, with midnight black hair, and the most beautiful indigo blue eyes Daphne has ever seen. Zach is treated like an outcast by the local teens in town. He’s Micmac and therefore not “one of the gang”. Daphne can’t help being drawn to his strength, especially considering that he’s had to live his entire life dealing with ignorance. But the local teens aren’t the only trouble-makers in town. As Zach and Daphne get closer, the lighthouse ghost lovers begin haunting them. When Daphne and Zach try to figure out how to fight them, the spirits get bolder and more dangerous.

The cemetery wasn’t far and wasn’t scary. Not to me. Just a scattering of old stones with ancient memories written on them. People long gone to another life and no one here who remembers them.
I dropped my canvas shoulder bag of goods on the ground near the gate. Wrought iron and rusted, it leaned into the cemetery boundaries at a precarious angle. Thank God I didn’t have to push it open . . . I’d have probably landed on the ground with a rusted spiral in my gut. This place was unfamiliar to me, except in passing. Though I’d known of the cemetery’s existence, I’d never gone in. I had too much to do in the land of the living for my short time here. No one ever came out here, so what difference did the overgrowth make? Aunt begged to differ and insisted I clean the place up. The lighthouse was two hundred years old this summer, she reminded me, and the cemetery belonged to the lighthouse. So, on a bright June day, I found myself alone in a somewhat decrepit cemetery in a clearing in the woods. I made my way around the ancient stones in an attempt to put off the start of my project. Most were upright and clear enough of the tangle of brush that a portion of the inscription could be read. One small stone, nearly buried in the overgrown grass at the north corner, caught my eye. I flattened enough of the green to reveal the single word Sarah, and beneath it Age 3 Months. Sadness flashed through me, unexpectedly. There were babies buried here? I slipped the hand pruners from my back pocket where I’d stuck them and carefully snipped the grass down in front of the headstone. I pulled viney growth from the top corner of the stone, revealing a W. and a P. Sarah W.P. My hand cramped as I diligently snipped away at the grass, clearing the plot. The screech of the gate would have warned me . . . had the gate been in better repair. With its useless tilt, however, I never heard him coming. The bag dropping next to me on the mixed pile of living and dead debris announced his presence. I flipped to the side, tripping myself with my legs, but managed to keep the pruners in front of me. I pointed them into the air in front of my face. Blue-black eyes studied me, one hand hooked into his pants pocket by the thumb, the other paused in front of him, fingers splayed where it had dropped the bag. In books you always read about these moments. Crickets clicked, or birds called, or someone’s watch ticked, marking time. Maybe all three. In real life, the only thing you really hear until you recognize that person is your own heavy breathing, that being indicative of the fact that you are in the middle of nowhere with no possible help nearby. So how do you protect yourself from something that isn’t really there?

Like what you’ve read? You can get your copy of The Possession by J.D. Spikes right here or on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or ARe

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