Monday, March 28, 2022

Four Tips for Polishing Your Work – Without Hiring an Editor by L.S. Johnson #QueerGothicRomance #Queer #Gothic #Horror

Whether you're submitting a story to a magazine or trying to get an agent or publisher for your book, you want to make sure your work is the best it can be. Clunky prose or typos can stop an editor from reading to the end—and keep your amazing story from the consideration it deserves. Here are four ways to polish your work to a shine.

1. Have a friend read your story

Familiarity with your own work can cause you to miss all sorts of little mistakes. Because you know how it should read, your mind corrects spelling errors and puts commas in their proper places—but those corrections don’t make it onto the page. A fresh set of eyes can highlight the errors you’re not seeing.

2. Print out your story

You can also make yourself see your work with fresh eyes by changing the way it looks. If you’ve been writing on a computer, printing out the story will make it look different enough that your mind has to pay closer attention. If you’ve been working from paper copies, try changing the font or the layout. One of my favorite techniques is to move the story into two horizontal columns, similar to a book spread—it really changes how I read it!

3. Read your story out loud

Reading your story out loud can reveal overlong sentences and confusing grammar. For novels and novellas, I read random paragraphs out loud, and I make it a point to read aloud long passages of dialogue—if I can’t say it without getting out of breath or confusing myself, neither can my characters.

4. Use a tool like ProWritingAid

Online writing tools are in no way perfect, but they can help point out grammatical errors, overused words, and clichĂ©d phrases. The trick is to consider each of their suggestions individually: does this change make sense for your story? Perhaps you have a character whose speech is naturally ungrammatical, or you’re trying for a poetic effect with your prose. Tools like ProWritingAid and Grammarly are great helpers, but they can also be blunt instruments. You know best how your story should be told. (Note that these programs also charge for their use, and they’re not cheap. I will freely confess that I will wait until I have several pieces I want to check, then pay for one month and cancel my subscription after I’ve run my stories through. It’s the only way I can afford it!)

How do you get your work ready to go out in the world? I’d love to hear from you—the more tools we can have in our toolkits, the better!

Harkworth Hall
Chase and Daniels
Book One
L.S. Johnson

Genre: Queer Gothic Romance/Horror
Publisher: Traversing Z Press
Date of Publication: 2017
ISBN: 978-0998893617
Number of pages: 166
Word Count: 38k
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber 

Book Description: 

Ask him about his wives.

Caroline Daniels must marry, and marry well. But in her remote corner of England eligible suitors are few and far between, and none hold a candle to her closest friend, Diana Fitzroy.

When Sir Edward Masterson arrives, he seems the answer to Caroline’s financial worries, though she instinctively dislikes the reticent, older merchant. Soon Sir Edward has set his sights on acquiring both Caroline and the decaying Harkworth Hall.

Caroline’s future seems secure, save that Sir Edward’s enigmatic secretary hints at a dark secret, and Sir Edward shows an unusual interest in the nearby bay. To discover Sir Edward’s true purpose, Caroline will have to face the horror beneath Harkworth Hall—and the woman who will change her life.


I first heard of Edward Masterson the day of the birds, though I forgot about them through much of what happened after. Indeed, in the moment, their strange flight was only a disturbing inconvenience, as it turned my father back from his walk to the village on laundry day.

My father was a gentleman of small, regular habits. He walked to the village twice each week, to gain news of the wider world and have two pints of ale before walking back. In winter, he had Mr. Simmons, who served as our steward as well as sometime butler and valet, drive him. But in the fine weather of late spring he would set off walking, in his plain suit but with his sword polished and ready should he meet any ruffians.

The rest of our little household—myself and Mr. and Mrs. Simmons; my poor mother had passed when I was young—would plan much around this simple outing, for the house was too much work for the Simmonses alone. My father made no objection to my helping with light chores such as dusting, but he had recently been infected with the disease of matchmaking, and he feared for my prospects should I develop a working woman’s hands and complexion. His solution for our overworked staff was to simply hire more help as needed, but I often snuck into his study to review our account books and there was no surplus for such luxuries. Thus, I learned to separate want from necessity, and while other women my age were dancing at assemblies or practicing their needlework, I was scrubbing floors and learning to make pastry. I learned, and I learned as well to not reflect upon my circumstances, lest I fall into melancholy—and many days there was simply no time for such indulgence. As soon as my father left, I put aside my role as Caroline Daniels, landowner’s daughter, and became Caroline Daniels, maid, stableboy, or whatever we needed me to be. Laundry especially was a daylong affair, and more than once we had sent Mr. Simmons out to delay my father so we could get the last damp pieces inside before he returned.

My father left, drawing the door closed behind him. I waited in the hall, seeing in my mind’s eye his stout figure striding down the drive. Now he would pat his pockets, ensuring he had a shilling but little more, for he had once been robbed on his return and had a fine watch and several shillings taken off him. Now he would think about that watch, and touch his sword in reassurance. All was well and nothing was forgotten; he could enjoy his journey in peace, and we could set about our work. I counted to fifty, then with a deep breath seized the first laundry basket and began dragging it back to the yard—

—when I heard the terrible sound of the door swinging open again, and my father bellowing for Mr. Simmons. At once I dropped the basket, smiling brightly. My smile faded, however, when I saw the spatters on his hat and coat, including a red smear on his face.

“Are you all right? Did you fall?” I rushed towards him, thinking to stop any bleeding with my apron.

“Quite all right,” he said. “Only the birds are going mad.”

For a moment I stared at him, believing I misheard him, but then I saw movement in the sky past his shoulder. Birds of all sizes and shapes, flying at odd angles to each other but all heading inland. As I watched two collided, then set at each other with horrific shrieks and bared claws. Feathers drifted down as they fought.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s quite late in the year to be mating, and there are gulls up there. They usually stay close to the shore—” My father suddenly broke off, frowning at the laundry basket. “What are you doing with that laundry?”

“I was looking for a petticoat,” I said quickly. “I cannot find it anywhere.”

He gave me a suspicious look, but I was saved from further inquiry by Mr. Simmons appearing. As he fetched my father a fresh coat, I slipped past him and went out onto the drive. Dozens of birds filled the sky, and save for when their paths provoked a conflict, they were doing so in near silence, as if they needed all their strength to fly. But what were they flying towards—or were they fleeing something? I scanned the horizon: there was not so much as a cloud, not a hint of an incoming storm.

Above me two more birds crossed paths, and the larger one viciously raked the smaller. It tumbled to the ground, then carefully righted itself and began limping forward, still heading unerringly inland.

“Caroline, dear, don’t distress yourself with such sights.” My father took my arm and led me back to the house.

“But what could be causing it?” I asked, still craning my head. “Something has frightened them, something worse than a storm.”

“They were probably startled by an animal—perhaps we have a wolf again. I’ll ask in the village,” he said. “Oh, and I forgot to tell you! I will be stopping at the Fitzroys’ on my way home. I was thinking if Diana spends the season in town again, perhaps you could join her? A stay of some weeks will help you become more comfortable in society, and develop your acquaintanceships further.”

And there were so many replies I wished to make, all at once. The Fitzroys were our closest neighbors, and Diana my oldest friend. Having both lost our mothers early, and without siblings, we had been for a time closer than sisters. The memories of our girlhood, pretending to be the pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, or the tragic princess Caroline, still filled me with longing. But the Fitzroys’ finances had flourished where ours had declined, and I took no pleasure in the prospect of marriage. A season with Diana promised only embarrassing shortfalls and uncomfortable encounters.

I wanted to say all these things, and that I had seen far worse than a wounded bird in my life, for had I not seen my own mother die in childbirth? But such was not the speech of a dutiful daughter, and I quailed at the thought of disrupting our affectionate relationship. I was still struggling for words when he kissed me on my forehead and shooed me back inside, as if I was still a little girl.

Chase and Daniels 
Book Two
L.S. Johnson

Genre: Queer Gothic Romance/Horror
Publisher: Traversing Z Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2018
ISBN: 978-0998893624
Number of pages: 185
Word Count: 40k
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber 

Book Description:

We will survive this, Caroline.

It has been several months since Harkworth Hall burned, and mere weeks since Joanna Chase came back into Caroline Daniels’ life. But when a stranger arrives in their village and asks to see the damaged bay, they know that word of the creature has spread. With tensions simmering between France and England, they depart in haste for Medby, where Sir Edward’s brother resides. There they hope to discover if Thomas Masterson has stepped into Sir Edward’s shoes, and now wields the monster called Leviathan.

The situation in Medby, however, is far worse than they anticipated. Claiming the French attacked his ships, the younger Masterson seems about to launch an audacious reply. But his true plans are not so straightforward and there is little time for Caroline and Jo to uncover them. 

With the threat of war demanding risks in kind, Caroline and Jo must weigh their deepening affection against the greater good … and learn to trust not only their instincts, but their hearts as well.

The Painter’s Widow
Chase and Daniels 
Book Three
L.S. Johnson

Genre: Queer Gothic Romance/Horror
Publisher: Traversing Z Press
Date of Publication: June 26, 2020
ISBN: 978-0998893655
Number of pages: 182
Word Count: 40k
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber of Najla Qamber Designs

Book Description:

You know by now what a woman is capable of.

Caroline is home with her father and the woman she loves—but with the Leviathan still unaccounted for, such peace can only be temporary. Soon, the mysterious Mr. Smith is asking for her aid once more: one of the Mastersons’ conspirators has been murdered, and the only clue lies in a painting that was last seen in Medby. Meanwhile, Jo has worries of her own, as her affianced sister wants assurances she cannot give—not without denying her very self.

With her arrival in London marked by a second murder, Caroline finds herself once more drawn into a world she wanted to forget. Aided by old friends and new, she and Jo search for the painter, while staying out of reach of Jo’s sister’s powerful fiancĂ©. But soon they suspect that darker forces are behind the murders, involving not only the painter but his young, pretty wife … and an imaginary land called Arcadia.

As Caroline and Jo struggle to both stop the murders and protect the life they’ve made for themselves, they find a new conspiracy is just beginning … and their choices will come at a price greater than either imagined.

A Shining Path
Chase and Daniels 
Book Four
L.S. Johnson

Genre: Queer Gothic Romance/Horror
Publisher: Traversing Z Press
Date of Publication: April 2, 2022
ISBN: 979-8985797213
Number of pages: 198
Word Count: 47k
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber Designs

Book Description:

There is so much evil in the world … but this one thing we can make right.

The island colony of Arcadia promises hope, prosperity, and tolerance to all who settle there … and asks only that they protect it with their lives. For Caroline and Jo, however, this opportunity could spell disaster, for the island’s owner is none other than Mrs. Masterson. Is her invitation an honest offer, or a deadly lure? And what relation does this Arcadia have to the one in the widow’s paintings—a place accessible only by magic, and the last known location of the monster called Leviathan?

To uncover the truth, Caroline and Jo set out for Arcadia, only to find that each of their fellow travelers has personal reasons for accepting Mrs. Masterson’s offer. Caught between this impromptu army and the might of England and France, knowing at any moment the Leviathan might reappear, they race to stave off the impending violence. 

But the further they get, the more they realize that Mrs. Masterson has set herself, and the Leviathan, against a far greater opponent than any one nation. Her success will mean catastrophe for millions, but stopping her may cost Caroline and Jo what they hold most dear: each other.

Amazon     Kobo     Books2Read     Traversing Z

About the Author:

L.S. Johnson lives in California with a spouse, a cat, and numerous goldfish. She is the author of the Chase and Daniels quartet of gothic novellas and over 40 short stories. Her first collection, Vacui Magia, won the North Street Book Prize and was a finalist for the World Fantasy Award. Her second collection, Rare Birds, was an IPPY medalist. Her vampire serial, Prima Materia, is happening now. Find her online at

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Cover Reveal Wrath by S. Peters-Davis #CoverReveal #PNR #Suspense

Kendra Spark Series 
Book Five
S. Peters-Davis

Genre: Suspense, paranormal, romance
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Date of Publication: April 2022
ISBN EPub: 9780228621263 
ISBN Kindle: 9780228621270 
ISBNWeb: 9780228621287
ISBN Print: 9780228621294
Number of pages: 157
Word Count: 54,800
Cover Artist: Michelle Lee

Series Tagline: Kendra sees ghosts, and then her BFF, Jenna, becomes one. The two friends and FBI agent Derek Knight form a team that fights for the victims of heinous, supernatural crimes.

Book Tagline: The FBI-VCU-SI team deals with the ultimate test of good vs. evil when the powerful, evil entity Chaos joins forces with the dark side.

Book Description: 

Kendra Sparks’ vacation gets cut short when Sassy Blaze, the captured voodoo priestess of the dark arts, hangs herself in prison, and a string of curious deaths follows. 

Attempting to stop Sassy costs lives, relationships, and creates unexpected complications, especially for Derek and Kendra. 

Who will defeat the voodoo, dark witch when she can possess whoever she wants?

The FBI-VCU-SI team must deal with the ultimate test of good vs. evil and it’s not looking promising, especially when the powerful, evil entity Chaos joins forces with the dark side.

About the Author:

S. Peters-Davis writes multi-genre stories but loves penning a good page-turning paranormal or supernatural suspense-thriller, especially when it’s a ghost story and a romance. When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, she’s hiking, RV’ing, fishing, playing with grandchildren, or enjoying time with her favorite muse (her husband) in Southwest Michigan. 

She writes Adult and NA paranormal, supernatural, suspense romance novels.

For a current listing of her book links, check her author or publisher homepage below. She’s listed as: Davis, S. Peters

BWL PUblishing:

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Guest Blog- Favorite Paranormal Characters with Denise Howard #PNR

This list is very difficult to decide LOL. 

I got to start with the classics, I started watching Buffy the Vampire slayer when I was a kid and so I have to go with Angel being one of my top ten followed by Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries I do not know why, I think it is the bad boy vibes and the willing to do anything for his love. Now if you have not read the series House of Night you will not understand my obsession with Zoey Redbird I enjoyed the whole series but her character development was on point. Now sorry to use two characters from one series but Bonnie Bennett the beautiful witch and friend she is always catches my attention from the Vampire Diaries she always puts her friends first and I can relate to that! 

I guess I should also mention I am more of a Jacob fan when it comes to Twilight, he is more relatable to me.Okay one last one, Dean Winchester from Supernatural now I know they hunt supernatural creatures but how can you not adore him his smolder and his caring of his younger brother and his bad a** ability to hunt. 

Seriously though, if you are into fantasy books in my opinion I would read the Hush Hush saga by Becca Fitzpatrick and the Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout. 

Not to mention the book by Scott Speer Immortal city I could not put it away! I do not want to give away to much about these books story lines but they are all great books and series and I enjoyed reading them I felt transported! And my favorite show that involves witches has to be Charmed both the original and the new one, the two are different but still similar and honestly I binge watch both of them when I get in the mood! 

Hidden Lake: The Prophecy
Denise Howard

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Northern Amour Writing
Date of Publication: 18 March 2022
Number of pages: 195
Word Count: 50,383

Cover Artist: Northern Amour Writing

Tagline: What can go wrong in the hands of a newly founded teenage witch?

Book Description: 

Enter a world as new to you as it is to teenager Gracie Willton. On her 17th Birthday she learns about a secret her mother has been keeping from her. Gracie comes from a long blood line of powerful witches. Not only is Gracie a witch she is also considered the prophecy. 

Join Gracie on her journey as she learns the depths of her powers and how to control them. See how the prophecy unfolds and the bounds of the supernatural world are affected. 

However, as a 17 year old girl you still need to be concerned about high school grades and cute boys right?

About the Author: 

Denise lives with her partner and their four legged fur babies.  She loves small town living and visiting the big city lights. When she isn’t writing or indulging in reading the next book on her endless bucket list, she enjoys nature and binge watching TV shows. 

Denise has a college diploma in Intra-Oral Dental Assisting and in Business. She is currently enrolled in Laurentian University working on her undergraduate.  On top of that she works full time within the Government sector. She is an advocate for equality and hopes one day to become a bestselling author.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Character Confessions from The Frelsarien: Battle of Eirbor by Lynette Charrier #Fantasy

I’ve been here on the Planet Eyon for about a year now. There was a bit of a culture shock at
first, but the longer I’ve been here the more I’ve come to realize how similar our two worlds are, albeit at different points of time. I could have just as easily fallen through time and ended up in medieval Europe, which I guess makes sense since it was medieval Earthlings who colonized this planet. There are different animals here, different vegetation, and different landscapes; but the biggest reminder that I’m in a different world is the Artaic races, whom I encounter every single day.

There’s conflicting opinions on where the Artaic’s come from. The people who follow the Avatel Faith believe that the gods created them. The Frelgothlings on the other hand, believe that they were the natural inhabitants of this land. It doesn’t really matter where they come from, if you ask me. They deserve a place in this world alongside humans.

My First encounter with someone of the Artaic races was my handmaiden Osk. She is known as a Skjart. I was told that in the Tharian language it means Wolf-Human. The Avatals said that the gods combined a human with a wolf and made two separate species; Skjarts which took on more human 
characteristics, and the Skarajor which took on more wolf characteristics. I haven’t encountered the Skarajor yet, thank God. Apparently, they are beastly creatures that only live beyond the Symvian range.

The Skjarts on the other hand are so incredibly unique and fit in perfectly with human society. They are very tall compared to humans, especially the humans here who average about 5’5”. Female Skjartsaverage about 6 feet tall and the males about 6 and a half. That’s just average though… I’ve seen Skjarts well over seven feet tall. They have tall wolf-like ears, and sharp canine teeth on both the top and bottom. Their jaws, though very similar to humans, protrude slightly outward, slightly snout-like but not very noticeable at first. The proportion of their fingers in comparison to their hands is longer than that of a human, and their nails are hard and claw-like. Their skin either lacks pigmentation entirely, making them resemble human albinos; or they have very dark brown skin. The skin tones don’t mix well though, or at least not like humans. If a white human and a black human reproduce their offspring would likely be a blend of their parents' complexion. Skjarts on the other hand end up splotchy looking. 

Avatels believe they should not mix because the gods created them to be different. The Frelgothlings don''t care and will love whoever they want. This is the one thing I actually agree with the Frelgothlings on. Their spots are nothing to be ashamed of, if anything I think there's something incredibly unique and beautiful about their patterns. 

The other Artaic race on Eyon is the gnarts. They are basically the opposite of the Skjarts averaging about 5'3” for the men and 4'9” for the women. The word Gnart apparently means Fish-Human in Tharian. According to the Avatels the gods combined humans with fish. Like the Skjarts, this gave them two new species; Gnarts and Gnarajor. I haven't seen a Gnarajor before since they live in the ocean. Fishermen say they are quite a 
problem. Sometimes they call for help from the water just so that they can pull in anyone who comes to help. I don't know how true those tales are, but I think I'll stick to the land either way. The Gnarts on the other hand are incredibly sweet people and a blessing to society. They come in different shades of green, blue, and purple. Purple is the most rare, but the noble gnart families are predominantly this color, so even though they are less common, I've met more purple Gnarts than anything. They have distinct Fin-like ears. Under their jaws are three lines that I assume were gills at one point but have been closed up saying they are now land species. Their irises are nearly twice the size of humans and have an iridescence to them. Their hands are pretty similar to humans but they have slight webbing between their fingers, almost as if that is something that is also evolving to eventually go away.

Apparently, there's another breed of Artaic that we do not have in Tharon. They're called
Dokarts. Legends say that they were once humans but the gods combined them with lizards. I hate lizards… so I hope I never have to come across these things. If I'm lucky I'll never have to since they all live North of the Symvian Range. Apparently, they have brutal tempers and so the previous Frelsarien banished them. They made a series of tunnels in the mountains and have never been seen since.

The Frelsarien: Battle of Eirbor
The Frelsarien Chronicles 
Book One
Lynette Charrier 

Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: 3/13/2022
ISBN: Hardcover- 9798985598025
ISBN Paperback- 9798985598018
ISBN Ebook- 9798985598001
Number of pages: 445
Word Count: 102K

Cover Artist: Covers By Christian

Tagline: Cursed bloodlines; Two warring nations; Three mortals trying desperately to return to their home world 

Book Description: 

One hundred years of peace have shattered, and the gods have sent the most unlikely of Heroes, mortals.

On the planet Eyon, one hundred years of peace has ended after the kingdom of Elmoria invaded the neighboring kingdom of Tharon. Desperate to regain their lands and citizens, the Tharians beseech the gods to deliver Frelsarien to them-mythical prophets who, in the past, have used the power of the gods to bring peace to the land.

Meanwhile on Earth, Idun, Ayla, and Colton have no idea their bloodlines carry a curse that enslaves them to the Overseers - supernatural beings whose divine rule stretches across the universe, earning them the status of godhood. After the Overseers come to collect them, the three humans learn that they must bring peace between two warring nations, or be damned to a life on this planet with no hope of returning home.

When the three Frelsarien arrive, the Tharians are disappointed to discover that the gods sent nothing but ordinary humans. Some give up hope that they will be of any help, while others cling to faith. The Frelsarien must either find a new way to prove their worth to the overseers, or attempt to develop the powers they were promised. In the face of adversity, will they be able to rise up to the challenge?

In a gripping page-turner, author Lynette Charrier pieces together an epic tale against a backdrop of tyranny, strength and resilience. Battle of Eirbor is the first novel in the Frelsarien series, a masterpiece of epic crossworld fantasy.

Book Trailer:

Amazon      BN


Idun’s eyes flickered open. She had been dreaming again.

A throbbing pain pounded within her skull. She groaned and rubbed the back of her head and felt a large welt. Her bruised fingers glided around to the right side of her head, where she found another welt. She sighed while slowly propping herself up and looking around. Her eyes were still hazy, but she could just barely make out the silhouette of a woman sitting across from her. Idun rubbed her eyes before reopening them.

“I doubt that will help,” the woman said, just as Idun came to that very conclusion. “You have a concussion.”

To her surprise, Idun recognized the voice.


The woman stood up and moved towards her, taking her seat on the bed next to Idun. There were two of her in Idun’s eyes, but she could still make out the features of her lifelong friend. She didn’t look like herself. Her long, curly, brown-black hair framed a smooth face, free of acne, and unhidden by glasses. But the most striking difference was her weight. The last time Idun saw her, she was skin and bones and likely less than one hundred pounds. The Ayla sitting in front of her looked… healthy.

“Jesus! How long have I been out?” She wondered if this was still part of the dream.

“Idun! Language,” she snapped.

Idun chuckled and put her head back down on the pillow. “Seriously, though, how long have I been out?”

“Almost twenty-four hours.”

A confused expression crossed Idun’s face, and she looked up from her pillow. “Can’t be. Don’t take this the wrong way, but there’s no way you look like this after just twenty-four hours. And my hair doesn’t grow this fast either,” she said, holding up a lock of auburn hair which was now longer than the length of her arm.

“These are our Frelsarien bodies…” She said as if that were obvious. She waited a moment as if to see if this triggered a memory, but it didn’t. Idun had no idea what that meant. “So, you really haven’t been briefed on this?”

“What?” Idun picked her head off the pillow and looked up at the blur which was Ayla. “What are you talking about?”

“Where do you think we are?” Ayla questioned.

Idun looked around the room, which, from what she could tell, was made completely of stone and decorated in red. “I don’t know…”

Ayla sighed. “What is the last thing you remember?”

“The last thing I know for sure wasn’t a dream.” Idun had to think for a moment. “I climbed that cliff just outside of town.” She rubbed the back of her head again. “I must have hit my head when I fell, though. I had this weird hallucination about being chased by the grim reaper.”

Ayla stood up to pour Idun a glass of water, then walked back and placed it in her hand. “Idun… that wasn’t a hallucination. It wasn’t the grim reaper, though,” She said, with a laugh.

Idun brought the cup to her lips but stopped, giving Ayla a confused yet doubtful glance. She opened her mouth to ask her to elaborate, but Ayla beat her to it.

“It’s called the soul splitter. It separated our souls from our bodies on Earth and brought them to our bodies here on Eyon.” She waited for a moment to study Idun’s expression again; Which happened to be one of disbelief. “Does any of that ring a bell?”

“Not even a little one.” Idun tipped back her cup and then placed it down on the table. “I’m actually pretty sure I’m still asleep.”

Ayla reached over and pinched the skin on the underside of Idun’s arm.

“What the heck!” Idun propped herself up with a jolt.

“Well, you’re not asleep,” Ayla giggled.

Idun scrunched her eyebrows together and massaged the back of her arm. “And you’re not Ayla...”


About the Author:
Lynette Charrier was born in Manitoba Canada but grew up in Southern California. There she met her husband who whisked her away back to his hometown of Naples Florida. Not long after she earned her degree in interior design and quickly found a job in the field. However her true passion lies with the writing community. Ever since she was little she had been making up stories of distant worlds and far off galaxies. Now she's excited to finally share those stories with the world.

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Thursday, March 17, 2022

Maria DeVivo’s Top 10 Vampires in Literature, TV, and Film

10. Count Orlock – “Nosferatu”
There’s something so sad about Count Orlock. The first time I ever saw the movie was in 1998 when it was released with music by Type O Negative as the soundtrack. It was haunting and heartbreaking, and in some weird way, I could feel his pain and desire along with the sound of Pete Steele’s voice. It was very impactful, and I highly recommend seeing that version of it.

9. Blade – “Blade”

He’s a man. He’s a vampire. He hunts vampires. I mean, what isn’t there to love about Blade! He’s one bad-ass dude with some major internal struggle issues. 

8.  Lestat de Lioncourt – “Interview with the Vampire”

In high school, I DEVOURED Anne Rice’s work. I seriously could not get enough. Lestat was that character who walked the line – you KNEW he was bad… like REALLY bad, but he was oh-so-charming, and oh-so-handsome, and oh-so-eternal lifey. Every line of dialogue from him was borderline hypnotic in the first three books, and as a young goth teenager, I would have followed his ancient ass to the depths of hell. When the movie version came out, I know a lot of people had issue with Tom Cruise as Lestat, but honestly, I actually liked his portrayal!

7.  Count Dracula – “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”

Can you really have a top 10 about vampires and NOT include the archetype? If not for Stoker’s Count, we would not have all the iterations of the bloodsucker that we have today. And just for that very reason, he makes the list. Cause he’s THE COUNT. THE GUY. THE ONE. Book version, well… a tad on the tedious side, especially for me as a 12 year old thinking I was some literary connoisseur, but when Gary Oldman brought him to life in Coppola’s 1992film, I was hooked, smitten, in love (with EVERY transformation, btw)!

6. Count von Count – “Sesame Street”

It’s no secret that I’ve been a witchy kid from the womb. The very first line in my novel Witch of the Black Circle reads, “My mother says I was cursed by a witch,” and that’s not entirely fiction. I grew up on a healthy dose of horror movies, weird books, and Sesame Street, and while I liked Big Bird, had a love for Cookie Monster, and a soft spot for Snuffy, whenever The Count came on screen, I was all ears and eyes. There was an instant respect for his power – his “ah ah ahs” produced THUDER and LIGHTNING! He had a WOLF as a pet, and the bats!! All the pretty bats!! 

5. Draculaura – “Monster High”

When my daughter was five years old, she discovered the toy line Monster High and all of its weird and twisted characters. As a witch-mom, I couldn’t have been more proud. I felt like I had really passed the “freak torch” to my own little monster. It opened the doorways for many discussions with my daughter about classic vs. nu-horror characters, and vampire and monster mythology and folklore. I saw how this one character, Draculaura, sparked her imagination and fantastical play. So, for giving my girl the power of her weird, Draculaura will always hold a very special place in my heart. Suck on that, Barbie! 
(***disclaimer, no disrespect to the OG, B. But that’s another story for another time.***)

4. Lily Munster – “The Munsters”

I wanted so badly for Lily Munster to be my mom. I wanted so badly to be as cool as Lily when *I* became a mom. She was sexy, and beautiful, and fierce when she needed to be, but she was gentle and understanding, and FUNNY. A true family woman! Other kids looked up to Carol Brady, or Shirley Partridge, but me? Nope. It was all Lily for me. Fingers crossed that Sheri Moon Zombie does her character justice in the remake.

3. David – “The Lost Boys”

While the whole “vampire with a conscience” storyline adds depth to the overall vampire mythology (I mean, even Count Dracula had feeling), there is nothing ambiguous about David from “The Lost Boys.” Perfectly played by Kiefer Sutherland, David was all grrr, all the time. There was no misinterpreting his motives or intentions. He was power and control, and wanted to keep his pack in line. He wanted to feed. Period. The End. Unlike Lestat who was in love with himself and had luxurious taste and interests, David just. Wanted. Blood. And power. And control. Like, there’s no other way to say it. Some characters just are that evil. And there’s something very noble and respectful in that.

2./1. Angel and Spike – “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (in no particular order)

This one was really tough for me, because I love them both for so many different reasons. When I revisit the show, I am torn between who really is the “one” for Buffy. They both have brutal pasts, and they both go through their own personal redemption arc. Angel’s broody demeanor, and Spike’s eff the world attitude (even when he became a champion) are so layered and complicated. You get a true sense that these characters have lived quite a long time and yes, they’ve seen some shit! Soul-self vs. soul-less self. Inner demon vs. inner human. Right vs. wrong… the duality of their characters is complex. And lovable. They are the love to hate/hate to love/oh my god, they’re my favorites type of characters. And hot damn, was Buffy one lucky girl to have had a piece of BOTH of that! 

Witch of the Black Circle
Dawn of the Blood Witch
Book One
Maria DeVivo

Genre: Horror
Publisher: 4 Horsemen Publications
Date of Publication: March 7, 2022
Number of pages: 217
Word Count: 64k

Tagline: When it comes to witchcraft, it's never just a teenage phase...

Book Description: 

For as long as she can remember, high school senior Joephie Turner's mother has told her she is cursed by a witch. As she settles into her new hometown of Northport, Long Island at the height of the 1980s Satanic Panic era, Joephie is accepted into a circle of friends obsessed with the occult. Demonic messages on cassette tapes, shady youth group leaders, and passionate sexual encounters push the teen into a thrilling world that lends a deeper meaning to the proverbial mantra: "sex, drugs, and rock and roll." Until it all goes wrong.

A decade later, haunted by nightmares of cults and rituals, formidable burgeoning witch Joephie pieces her memories together in search of answers about the small group of suburban teens that meddled with dark forces. As an adult, Joephie will have to decide what, or who, she is willing to sacrifice from her past in order to claw her way back to sanity.

Inspired by true events, Witch of the Black Circle is a deliciously wicked and nostalgic journey through time where the lines of reality and the supernatural blur. Content warning: satanic rituals; sex; graphic violence; language; drug use


Dan reaches over to his bag and pulls out his math book. In the front pouch, I notice a small novel with a black cover. “Hey,” I say, nodding my head in the backpack’s direction. “Whatcha reading?”

“Uh, nothing,” he answers, shrugging his shoulders.
I put out my arms and tap my fingers together like a baby grasping at something. “Lemme see it!”

“Nah. It’s really nothing,” he repeats, but he’s unconvincing, and it makes my curiosity burn a hole in my brain.

Kit’s curiosity is piqued as well, so she stands up and moves behind the chair with the backpack. “Now, now,” she sings. “No secrets here, Dan!” She grabs the bag from the chair and pulls out the book. “The Satanic Bible?”

Dan quickly shoots up from the chair, snatches the book away from her, and cradles it to his chest as to hide the cover from us. “Shhhh…” he admonishes as he looks side to side, assessing if my mother was in the vicinity or not.

I hold out my hand again. “What are you reading that for?” I ask. “Give it here.”

Reluctantly, he turns the book over to me, and I examine the cover, the spine, and the back like an investigator studying a piece of crime-scene evidence. Only, I don’t have on rubber gloves. I’ve known about this book. Heard about it. Knew the story of the author, Dr. Anton LaVey, and his Church of Satan. Practically, every youth ministry I had attended had mentioned the evil of this piece of literature at some point in time: If you even look at the book, you can be possessed. Being in its presence alone can have a profound effect on your heavenly soul. Dare not open or read the pages for fear of infiltration by a powerful demonic force. But as I actually hold the book for the first time in my life, I feel … nothing. No fear. No wonder. No spooky taboo. I press the book in my palms trying to feel for any ‘other-worldly’ vibrations or indication that if I open it up I will be damned to hell. But no. Nothing. Zip. Zilch. And more lies and deception from my past teachers come into clear view. “Dude. It’s just a book.”

“Yeah, I know it’s just a book,” he huffs, grabs it from me, and shoves it back into his bag.

The three of us sit back down in silence for a few minutes.

“You okay, man?” Kit asks, concerned.

“Yeah. Fine.”

Clearly, he’s not.

“Where’d you get it?” I ask.

“Why’d you get it?” Kit emphasizes.

Dan looks behind him and scans the kitchen again. Then, he moves his upper body slightly across the table as if to beckon me and Kit to huddle in. We oblige him and he speaks in a soft, hushed tone: “Thomas. This guy from my school. He got the connection with that Ricky kid and the Knights of the Black Circle.”

“The Knights of the Black Circle?” I ask. “What’s that?”

Dan glares at me and holds up his arm revealing the faded black circles drawn up and down his arm, over and over and over. I had thought they were just silly drawings borne out of boredom, but…

 “They wanted him to read the book and know some stuff before they accepted him,” he continues. “Thomas said he could probably get me in, too, and told me what passages to study and shit.”

Kit’s pretty eyes widen, and her bangs touch her eyelashes again. “He knows the Acid King?”

A sneer forms on Dan’s lips and he nods. “Uh huh.”

“Wait,” I protest. “What are you talking about? Who are the Knights of the Black Circle?

What’s an Acid King?”

“The Knights…” Dan explains, “they’re a group. Local. They do stuff. They know stuff.”

About the Author:
Maria is the Author of the Amazon bestselling and award-winning series The Coal Elf Chronicles, the YA psychological horror series The Altered Experience, and the NA Urban Fantasy series The Aestrangel Trinity. When not writing about dark fantasy and horror, she teaches Language Arts and Journalism to middle school students in Florida. A lover of all things dark and demented, she takes pleasure in warping the comfort factor in her readers’ minds. Just when you think you’ve reached a safe space in her stories, she snaps you back into her twisted reality.