Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Matchmaking with a Norse God, as per Mormor Advice from Beck Erixson

The idea of selecting the right Norse god for dating, or perhaps even setting up your granddaughter with one, comes with its own set of important rules. While the rules are not terribly complicated, they can be a bit particular. Having some knowledge of the underlying mythology can be helpful, but it's not mandatory. You can always cross-reference the Edda, but with so many translations and versions out there, the names can get a bit murky. Plus the Edda was written forever ago. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen the gods and goddesses get together and break up. Fight one another and then hold hands a few days later while their wounds were still healing. The truth lies within the depths of various theories about the multiple identities of gods, goddesses, and even giants. To get to that depth and uncover the truth, you need to get them to trust you and open up.

Now, let's dive into the list, shall we?

Rule 1: Refrain from explicitly revealing your preferences to your granddaughter (or your chosen family member). There's a high likelihood of immediate rejection.

Norse gods and goddesses, it turns out, don't handle rejection gracefully. Proceed with caution when making specific promises or agreements. It is often better not to formalize any arrangements, as there are often loopholes or gray areas to contend with. (And yes, I speak from learned experience – thanks, Loki.)

Rule 2: Avoid disclosing to your chosen date that they are going out with a Norse god. The gods tend to get nervous that people are only interested in them for their abilities or the perceived power associated with their mythology. And don't even think about explaining to your granddaughter that she's not just an ordinary person; that's a whole different topic and doesn't need to be addressed formally in this matchmaking process.

This little issue may also not pertain to your own lineage.

Rule 3: Beware of the quiet ones. While Loki may be flashy, it's often the reserved gods who sweep people off their feet. Consider the concept of "love language," a term I'm still trying to comprehend. Ensure that your intended couple is genuinely compatible in all the important ways.

Rule 4: Don't bother arguing with the Goddess Freya. She always seems to be one step ahead, and if you divulge your intentions, she's likely to manipulate outcomes in her favor. She's a wonderful lady, but her meddling tendencies can be unhelpful because she has her own set of rules when it comes to matters of the heart.

Rule 5: Do everything in your power to keep Loki away from the matchmaking process, unless you want unexpected twists and turns that were never part of the plan. (See rule 1.)

Rule 6: Remember, you cannot force a romantic connection. No matter how tempting it might be, love follows its own course. Freya will kindly remind you of this, and then she’ll meddle. The gods and goddesses may shape destiny, but they also revel in a compatible partner to come home to.

The most perfect pairing I’ve ever seen was Baldr and his wife Nanna. Poor Nanna fell down and died of grief when he passed.

Rule 7: If you decide to aim high and pursue a relationship with Thor, refrain from mentioning his hammer. He tends to go overboard with it and takes great pleasure in showing it off. Over the years, he's realized that it's an excellent conversation starter, and I personally find it quite ridiculous how much he enjoys swinging it around.

In the end, there's someone out there for everyone. While Ingrid, my granddaughter, naturally deserves the best, feel free to take a chance with the others. Just remember that the Norse gods and goddesses are quite clever. They love passionately and openly but aren't keen on having their hearts trampled. Instead, they relish a well-thought-out courtship.

Now that the rules are laid out let’s take a fika. The coffee is hot and I’ve some fresh cookies to share. Come sit close and tell me who you’ve got your eyes on.

I won’t tell a living soul.
I’m great at keeping secrets.
I promise.


Just a Fika: Coffee, Connection, and a Matchmaking Ghost Grandmother
Beck Erixson

Genre: Speculative Contemporary Romance/Women’s Fiction with Romance
Publisher: Aegir Haven, LLC 
Date of Publication: October 3, 2023
ISBN: 979-8-9875998-0-8 (paperback)
ISBN” 979-8-9875998-2-2 (ebook)
Number of pages: 308
Word Count: 83,000
Cover Artist: Melody Jeffries

Tagline: Family. They’re always meddling in your love life… Even after they’re dead.

Book Description:

Brooklynite-and genealogist-Ingrid Ekstrom accepts a surprise request from her typically estranged family: to become the live-in caretaker of their shared historic house in the sleepy Jersey Shore town of Aegir Haven. A fun-loving cousin is quick to introduce Ingrid to the local handyman and bluegrass musician. As he fixes up the place, Ingrid digs into the house's past and learns about the family she barely knows. 

And then Mormor-her long-dead grandmother-shows up, acting as though not being in the spirit realm is perfectly normal.  

Ingrid's always yearned for stronger family connections, and it's nice having Mormor around. Mormor tries to set her up with a young real estate attorney who's closer to her more thunderous, god-like personal standards than the musician with keen senses Ingrid is falling for. As lore and legends mingle with real life, she's torn. Mormor's fantastical family sagas can't actually be true, right?


“Show yourself, you meddling woman,” I say, probably too stern for a granddaughter. She did this to herself.

“Oh, relax. You had fun, didn’t you?” Mormor’s voice projects from the living room.

“You had no business showing up tonight. My social life is mine.” I kick off my shoes in the entry and cut across to the warmth of the lit fireplace. She’s kept herself busy.

“Oh, sit down,” she scolds me from the purple wingback chair, like the child she believes I still am.

Hard to say no to your grandmother, even if you don’t really know her. For civility’s sake, I take my place in the leather chair on the other side of the fireplace, garnering an unobstructed view of her. The heat and flames of the fireplace illuminate the bridge etched into the back of the black stone, only visible when the temperature hits high enough. She’s been waiting.

“Did you have fun?” The chair creaks as she adjusts her legs. “You two were adorable together.”

“So you said at the restaurant. Directly to him.” The energy it takes to argue isn’t worth the effort right now. Opting for a tone of juvenile annoyance takes less energy. “Can you please stay out of my personal life? Can this be something we agree to?”

“Absolutely not. You’ll blow it. Look at your track record. You need me.” She waves off my request. “Besides, it was one date, and of course that boy ended up there too.”
Ah, so she didn’t send him. Sweet. “Thatboy?“ I ask.

“Yes, the one with the instrument and the curls in his hair. The one who’s been fixing things here.” Mormorisn’t holding back niceties.

“Kurt?” I grin. “What do you have against Kurt?” Reveling in this is wrong, but so right.

“You need someone with their feet on the ground. Someone like Yale.” She sits high like a queen in her court.

“What do you know about him?” I’m not arguing. Who knows how long she’s been popping in and out of my life?

“I know what I need to.” She lengthens her neck. “Why even bother with him?”

“Ah, so you know nothing.” Makes two of us, really. Other than being kind, talented, and someone to joke around with, he’s a mystery. A mystery who’s comfortable to be around, but sometimes makes butterflies flutter in my chest. Yale makes me awkward and nervous. Ugh,I’m overanalyzing again. Inside me there’s a constant nag when I’m around Yale that he’s not a good idea. Not that Kurt’s a good idea.

“Let’s clarify something. I’m not going back until I know you are okay.” Mormor stares off at the fire. A gentle breeze whistles through the windows and flutters the edges of her hair.

“Is this a promise or a threat?” Please stay, for at least a while longer. I like getting to know her when she’s not meddling. Half the reason I agreed to move out here was to learn more about my family.

I suppose I should thank her. Dinner ended when the menu she was holding too close to the wall sconce caught fire and we had to run outside. Serves her right for spying and not paying attention. There’s nothing quite like the smell of melting plastic to inflict headaches and end a date quickly.

He was kind enough to walk me home after I made the first turn in the wrong direction. I’d have made it eventually. His gentlemanly self was fantastic. It was the long periods of not talking and staring at the candle that made me want to bolt.

“You know I love you.” I open my arms for a hug.

She turns non-corporeal and laughs as my arms slice through her.

Mormor! “What are the rules here? When are you—you? And when are you a ghost?” I stamp my voice like a toddler mid-tantrum, adding extra emphasis at the beginning of each sentence.

“You were going to squeeze me too hard.” She’s right. “When I’m tired, I fade a bit. I don’t like where I go when I fade.”

A tiny over-the-top squeeze to make her feel as uncomfortable as I felt with Yale is deserved, tight enough so she knows I’m squeezing love and the want of a direct connection with her.

“Where you go?” Legitimate question.

“I have to go somewhere? What? You think I’m like a fading light?”

I shrug. “Sorry, I don’t have experience with—ghosts?”

“We’ve been over this.” She rolls her eyes. “The rules are murky.” She pulls at the low braid on the back of her head.

“Oh, is that all?” This woman is off her rocker.

“It’s complicated.” She crosses her arms and huffs. “Haven’t you bothered doing your research?”

“This isn’t something I can research.” Hello, librarian, I keep seeing my dead grandmother. Do you have any books on this?

My jaw drops—this was an intentional diversion. “You’re trying to get sympathy and distract me from the fact you interrupted in the most inappropriate way on a date.”

She wrinkles her nose. “Caught me. You still need to think about dating a proper choice. I’m holding my ground on this.”

“Proper?” Again, with that word. “I don’t need to date anyone. I’m here to watch the house.”

She comes over and envelopes me in a too-hard hug.

I wheeze. “Besides it wasn’t a date, it was two people going to dinner.”

The unsuccessful wiggle of my arms proves Mormor’s ghost form is stronger than she lets on.

“Dating doesn’t mean a relationship.” I peck her cheek. “Having dinner once or twice is getting to know someone.”

She releases her arms and slinks back in her chair. “Don’t end up alone, Ingrid.” A tremble crosses her tone.

“I’ve got you. How can I be alone?”

“You know very well what I mean. You’ve squandered your twenties, and now—”

“I got an education and lived life.” There it is. Clear disappointment I’ve caused her in my life choices. “I traveled and dated. Not everyone finds themselves in their early twenties.”

“Will you consider dating while you are here? He’s really a nice boy.”

“I’m here to maintain the house. Not to date.” I’m over dating.

“Being here doesn’t mean you can’t date.”

I shake my head. She’s relentless.

Mormor waves her hand in front of the fire, and the flames dance higher. “Yale is…” She wags her eyebrows. “Kurt is…” A hovered eye roll punctuates the end of her sentence.

“A friend.” Sort of—he’s working here because Svea paid him.

Mormor grumbles something inaudible from my seat. “I have a list of projects for you. Promise me you’ll stay till you finish some?” She pulls her arm back to the chair and rests her hands on her lap.

“I’m a fill-in. The only person available with no ties to kids or an office.” Story of my life. The living family members call when they remember my existence. Supposedly they love me, but…eh, baggage to think about another day, right? “Promise me you won’t mess up Kurt’s projects on the house?” He works hard regardless of her impression of him.

“As long as he sticks to the house as a project and not you.” She wags her finger and heaves a sigh.

A halfhearted nod is the only option to end this conversation. “Tea?”

I’m not a project.

About the Author: 

Beck Erixson writes about the beautifully awkward world of navigating the journey to true happiness through friendships, love, and family—be it blood, found, or chosen. Her stories enhance the importance of positive interconnection, even when we feel lonely. She lives on the Jersey Shore, and can often be found either writing by the river, or in it in some way. Her short stories have appeared in Many Nice Donkeys, and Full Mood Mag.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Heart of the Storm by Valerie Storm #YAFantasy

Heart of the Storm
Demon Storm
Book Four
Valerie Storm

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Date of Publication: 9/13/23
ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-956883-14-5
Number of pages:410
Word Count:101219
Cover Artist: @Ginkahederling

A fresh start. An old home, new again.  And a new evil to match.

Crimson eyes and dark wings. Together, they'll be terrible. Can she break free?

Their light is broken. When a new darkness rises, will they overcome it?

Book Description:

More than night terrors keep Kari awake at night. Ari languishes beside her, broken by the horrors Raven bestowed upon him.

She hopes he heals, and soon.

When a familiar presence and an unexplainable human with magic happen upon their doorstep, Kari and Ari make a decision: leave Raziac Village in search of answers and a new home.

But the heart eater waits for them.


Kari pushed away her steak, half-eaten. “Can this place be real?”

            Rathik looked up from his turkey. “Sometimes I can’t believe it myself, and I headed the revolution.”

Ari leaned over his plate, eyes widening. “You did? How?”

“From within the town itself. I was on the guard. I hid myself, too.” Rathik looked at Kari. “My commanding officer believed I had a skin disease.”

A sudden memory pricked her attention. The day she’d run into a guard in Snow Shade—after stealing the magic book for Kiki—she’d glimpsed scales on that man’s face and forgotten all about it.

Guine snorted. “Nice.”

            Rathik inclined his head. “My position enabled me to sneak demons in. I was just trying to help sickly ones at first. Eventually my name—different than the one I used as a guard—became infamous.” He laughed, shaking his head, and took a sip of ale.

            “I…I remember your name. Rathik.” Kari wracked her brain, remembering the first bolt of lightning she had called down; it had been glorious, though it also represented the first time she had felt the burning fire of the Catalyst. She’d been attacked by a demon yelling about a Rathik.

            Rathik grimaced. “I became a rallying point for many demons in the north, and it wasn’t long until the Lord Isaac was looking for me.”

            Kari, nodded, recalling that, too.

“Lord Isaac became frantic, especially when a man and his wife were found dead in their homes. He ordered searches, and it wasn’t long before my friends were found out. One died, trying to protect the others.”

Kari’s throat tightened. Ari shifted so she could grab his arm. Guine glanced at them.

“It was me,” she muttered in a hoarse whisper.

“What?” Rathik asked.

“It was my fault your friend died. I…I was the one who killed those two humans.”

She’d had no choice, she’d told herself, yet that hadn’t been true. How many times had Kiki tried to convince her they could run away without leaving any bodies behind? And Kari had refused, sure that killing Anne and Joseph was the only true way to honor her parents.

If she’d listened, Kiki may have lived, and Rathik’s friend wouldn’t have died.

Rathik leaned over the table. “No. Trust me, Kari. It was only a matter of time before Lord Isaac snapped. Even Dorn, from Isaac’s council, said he was well on his way to madness without anyone’s help.”

“He’s right,” Ari said, rubbing her. “Even we’d heard some stories in Raziac. You aren’t to blame for his actions.”

Kari caught Guine’s eye, his expression indiscernible, then frowned at her plate.

            Rathik nodded. “His own people saw it. Some of them helped us, guiding our peaceful speeches to fellow humans, and reconciling began. Now we have this.”

            He waved his hand, gesturing at the room.

            “Even though I’d heard of the revolution, I can hardly believe my eyes,” Ari said. “This place is unimaginable.”



About the Author:

Valerie Storm was raised in Tucson, Arizona. Growing up, she fell in love with everything fantasy. When she wasn’t playing video games, she was writing. By age ten, she began to write her own stories as a way to escape reality. When these stories became a full-length series, she considered the path to sharing with other children & children at heart looking for a place to call home.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Bittersweet Injuries by Kateri Stanley

Bittersweet Injuries 
The Dove and Snake Series 
Book One
Kateri Stanley 

Genre: Supernatural Thriller
Date of Publication: 28/09/2023
ISBN: 979-8851416583
Number of pages: 302
Word Count: 81K
Cover Artist: Kateri Stanley and Daniel Olah 

Tagline: Some secrets can last for centuries

Book Description: 

Marcus Weaving is a retired psychology lecturer and therapist. Not a man to sit around, he volunteers at his local university. Years of clinical practice are put to the test when he receives a mischievous text from somebody called L.

Intrigued and unnerved, Marcus goes to the address provided and is welcomed by a beautiful blonde woman named Lily. Their story goes way back to his tumultuous youth when he had to flee from his abusive mother and other demons skulking around.

Timing for a romantic reunion could not be any worse. Marcus is about to become a grandfather and he has ongoing issues with his estranged, drug addicted son.

Why has Lily shown up after all of this time? And, why hasn't she aged a day?

Excerpt Prologue

The rambler puffed and panted her way up the hill. What had started off as a pleasant morning in the beautiful rustic countryside had turned into a torrential disaster of an afternoon. She’d been strolling in a loose sweater with a fleece wrapped around her waist and now, she was thankful she’d packed the waterproofs before leaving the house.
She dug her heels into the mud, pushing on two walking poles, dragging her body towards the top. Rainwater dripped off the hood of her jacket. After several minutes of intense core strength, she managed to make it to the top of the hill and was relieved when she saw the warm lights of a nearby pub. She could take shelter and fill her stomach with cider, gravy and mashed potato.  
She was not alone on the hill. Somebody else was there, mad enough to attempt to climb the rest of the mountain.

“Hey!” the rambler shouted. “I wouldn’t go up there if I were you, mate. The rain’s too heavy. You’d be better off waiting!”

The other rambler donned in the same hiking gear turned to face her. He had a druid beard which hid middle eastern features and hair so long that it spilled out of his hood. He raised his hand signifying a gesture not to be worried. Then he smiled, giving the rambler the thumbs up and continued to trudge upwards. He wasn’t wearing any walking boots. How strange. His bare feet would get cut to shreds or he’d catch some sort of infection in this weather.

The rambler glanced at the pub in a panic. She didn’t want to be responsible if the body of a man was found buried somewhere on the mountain, even though she’d tried to warn him. She turned back, the rain was hailing down. She could barely see the crown of the mountain. The strange thing was, the other rambler had vanished.

The coffee shop on the high street was one of his favourite places to unwind after a hard day's work. Jove acquired the booth by the front window, delicately sipping his large skinny latte. He enjoyed watching people pass by; it was humanity at its best. They were lost in their own little worlds, unaware of who was observing.

He peered at his watch, his former employee was late, whereas he on the other hand… was on time. After half an hour, he sensed a presence enter the coffee shop, then a soft manicured hand lightly brushed his shoulder.

“I think you should invest in a watch,” said Jove.

“You know I don't bother with that old fashioned garbage,” the voice replied, belonging to the woman standing before him.

Jove sighed. “I’d appreciate it if you could inform me that you’re going to be late. It’s called common courtesy. I have other places to be. You know this.”

The woman plonked her handbag on the opposing seat, disturbing the gentleman reading his newspaper in the next booth. She didn’t notice his annoyed expression, she didn’t care.

“Good place to sit,” she said. “You’ve got a keen eye. Watch my bag.”

She grabbed her purse and marched to the bar. Her sharp high heeled boots clicked and clacked on the shiny floor. Her provocative walk echoed dominance and confidence.

“Splashing out I see,” Jove commented when she returned with a large caramel macchiato and a plate of fruit toast.

“It’s a special occasion,” she replied merrily, sitting down. “Our meet-ups are important.

Oh, and by the way, it's Lucille when I'm in this skin. Respect my pronouns haha.”

“Fair enough,” Jove replied. “How have you been?”  

She sucked the cream ravenously from her fingers. “Profits dropped slightly this month. I'm working on a strategy to increase the market.”  

“And what is that?” he asked.

Lucille smirked. “You know I don’t part with my ideas.”

“Of course, I was just venturing.”

She wiped her hands with the napkin and began to lather the butter onto the fruit toast with a plastic knife. “You know, I truly think the modern world was made for me. The secrets, the scandals, the back stabbings. Souls willing to part with their shares for a couple of thousand followers, faking chronic illnesses for attention. Social media is a wonderful thing. It’s an all-you-can-eat-buffet of human depravity. I love it.”

Jove did not need the loaded information. He already knew about it, and it troubled him.

“How come you chose Starbucks?” Lucille bit into the toast, ripping it with her teeth, the way a predator tore into its prey. “I thought you were a Costa Coffee guy.”

“I felt like a change.”

“I agree,” Lucille nodded. “See that guy outside?”

Jove watched out of the window, noticing a tall man in a long grey overcoat with receding brown hair purchasing a Big Issue magazine.

“He sold me a share because his wife left him for his best friend. Oh, and that woman, and that fat bloke there. Infidelity is a real mood killer for passion.”

Jove caught sight of each person Lucille indicated. The crowds moved similar to a fast-pacing stream. Before he could hone in on her clients, they melted into the background of the city. A soul wafted past and he pointed at the window pane. “That girl broke her leg saving her brother from a house fire.”

Lucille rolled her eyes at his observation. “Whoop de doo. Good people, so boring. Anyway, how's everything down your way, or should I say up your way?”

“Everything’s fine.”

“Does anyone ask after me?”

“Your name pops up, now and then. Not in the most civil terms, I might add.”

“Doesn’t surprise me. I'm glad I gave in my notice, no offence.”

Jove frowned. “From my recollection Lucille, you were... cast out.”

Her gaze hardened. “I walked, actually.”

“I’m not here to argue. But, if you cleansed your heart, I'd let you back in with open arms.”

“That’s sweet, but I love being my own boss.” She wiped her mouth with the napkin, careful enough so she wouldn’t smear her lipstick. “I think all of you have your wires crossed. My job isn’t much different to yours. It’s not... bad. It’s not evil either. I collect and punish the wicked and sinful. Isn’t that a good thing?”



About the Author: 

Kateri Stanley is a dark fiction author. Her books include bestselling horror debut, FORGIVE ME and fantasy thriller, FROM THE DEEP. She lives with her partner and her cat in the Midlands, UK. 


Friday, September 8, 2023

The Ultimate Guide to Dating a Greek God or Goddess with Dana Claire #FantasyRomance #Kickstarter

So you’ve set your sights on dating a Greek god? Well, my mortal friend, you're in for a divine ride. Here’s your handy-dandy guide to navigating the celestial waters of otherworldly romance:

Dress Code: Greek gods adore togas, but they've been around for millennia. Make sure to rock both classic and modern looks, so you're always on-point. Maybe throw in a laurel wreath if you're feeling festive! Gold is always a nice accent color just ask Aphroditie.

Hobbies: Brush up on your lyre playing. Apollo is a huge fan. Also, practicing archery for Artemis or horse riding for Poseidon can earn you extra brownie points. The Gods are a huge fan of the arts.

Communication: Hermes might be the god of messaging, but he’s terrible at texting back. Be patient, but if he leaves you on 'read' for a millennia, maybe take a hint. He’s also quite the jokester so don’t let him fool you like he did Apollo when he stole Apollo’s cattle.

Family Gatherings: Zeus throws the wildest parties, butavoid drama by not mentioning any illicit affairs. Pro tip: don't sit between Ares and Athena; that's a family feud waiting to happen.

Gifts: The Gods love if you come knocking with your elbows. Handmade ambrosia or nectar is always a hit. If you can't whip those up, a heartfelt sonnet might do, especially if you can get tips from the sirens. Oh man, do they know how to sing. Just steer clear of golden apples - trust us on this one.

Jealousy: Beware of jealous exes. Hera, in particular, isn't one to let go easily. Always have a disguise or an escape route at hand.

Respect the Myths: Don’t bring up awkward topics like turning into swans, golden showers, or being swallowed by one's dad. Greek gods are sensitive about their past escapades.

Location Ideas: Mount Olympus is a classic, but why not switch it up? Dive into Poseidon’s underwater palace or take a moonlit stroll in Artemis’ sacred forests. For those of you living on the edge, I hear Hades has a one hell of a hot spot.

Stay Humble: Aphrodite might bless you with divine beauty for your date butremember: humility is a virtue. Flaunting might make you a target for Nemesis, the goddess of retribution.

Endgame: If things get serious, remember that immortality is both a blessing and a curse. Consider all facets before diving into eternal love.

Lastly, embrace every divine moment with your celestial sweetheart. Relationships with Greek gods can be tumultuous, but the tales and memories are immortal. Happy dating!


War of the Sea - Kickstarter
Olympian Wars
Book One
Dana Claire

Genre: Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Chamberlain Publishing House
ISBN: 9798987263563
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Brush Media Group

Tagline: A bargain. A brigand. A battle for the sea.

Book Description:

His powers could save the ocean. Her vendetta could sink a kingdom.

Captain Elouise Farrington, the youngest pirate on the Caviar Sea, seeks revenge on her father’s killer. But when her oddly hypnotic foe proposes a pact to kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea’s bloodshed, she must make a choice. Put aside her long-brewing retribution or act the underhanded pirate and use the alliance to claim the life of the man who destroyed her family?

Captain Rylander Bordeaux, the revered royal navy captain of the Isle of Cava, has one mission—kill the Siren Queen and end the War of the Sea. The ocean is the only place Rylander calls home, but to bring peace to his beloved waves, he must defeat his past so he can reshape the future. His greatest hope is Captain Elouise, who calls to him like no siren song ever has. Too bad she’s almost as bloodthirsty as the fanged heart-eaters themselves. She promises to lend her all-female crew to his war on the sirens, but can he trust a brigand—especially one who wants him dead—to uphold her end of the bargain? Or will she be his undoing?




Our mouths met once again, hungry and desperate, as I lifted her into my arms. Her chemise rose and bunched in between us. My palms cupped her exposed thighs, urging them to encircle my waist. I walked us backward to the bed, never breaking our kiss, and slowly lowered her down, careful to bear my weight against my forearm. I savored the softness of her lips, the warmth of her breath mingling with mine, as her fingers wove into my hair. Pleasure and pain radiated through my scalp as she pulled the ends with her iron grip, her moans urging me on. With my free hand, I explored her, tracing the lines of her neck, the softness of her breasts. Her body arched in response, a silent plea for more.

I continued my journey, my hand tracing the curve of her hip, slipping beneath her knee, and wrapping her leg around me once more. The connection between us grew stronger, an unspoken understanding that we were meant to be entwined, a meeting of souls. And then, with a surge of anticipation, I pressed into her, feeling her heat and the electric pulse of our bodies against one another.

She pulled back, her eyes locking onto mine, reflecting a hunger and longing that mirrored my own. A mischievous smile played upon her lips as her fingers toyed with the button on my trousers. But before she undid it, I heard a noise. Footsteps.

“It’s probably a good idea to tell you both I’m in the room.” Smitter’s voice sounded somewhere behind me, way too close to the bed, to us.

I jumped backward, lost my balance, and stumbled to the floor. My rear landed hard. Lou swathed herself in a wad of sheets.

“I had hoped you’d come up for air, but there’s really no good way to interrupt.” He waved in between us.

“I’m going to kill you,” I growled from the floor. Out of all the times my uncle had popped in and out of a room, this had to be the most invasive and humiliating.

“Why would you …? I can’t— Don’t you ever do that again,” Lou shouted, horrified. Her hands balled around the sheets. Flushed like a sunburned noble, she volleyed her gaze between me, half clothed on the floor, and Smitter. Her knotted hair stuck up on top of her head.

“Yes, I realize it’s not great timing, but the two of you need your rest. We drop anchor tomorrow on the perimeter of Anthemusa. The men have already been moved to the soundproof rooms. And we need to strategize how you’ll slay the Siren Queen, now that our first plan is no longer viable.” Smitter’s concerned brown eyes found mine. “Also, your aunt said this isn’t the right time for”—he swirled a finger in our general direction—“this.”

Lou’s brows contorted. “What? Who is your aunt?” She gaped at me.

I waved Lou off. Aunt Artemis, the goddess of childbirth, would know when Lou should abstain, but I wasn’t about to have that conversation. I bent my knees, resting my elbows on my thighs, and rubbed my temples. My family had truly outdone themselves. Not a single boundary nor a clue as to how their incessant involvement could be a nuisance.

About the Author:

DANA CLAIRE is an award-winning author whose stories explore identity, fate, and destiny in the crossroads of romance and adventure. 

Her love of romantic tension and the supernatural effortlessly translates into spine-tingling action and unforgettable characters. 

She lives in Los Angeles, CA with her adoring husband living her dreams: writing books, telling stories, and changing the world, one reader at a time. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back the Kickstarter

Monday, September 4, 2023

Guardians by T.J. Baer #YASciFi #LGBTQ+

T.J. Baer

Genre: Young Adult, Scifi/Fantasy, LGBTQ+
Publisher: NineStar Press
Date of Publication: July 18, 2023
ISBN: 978-1648906787
Number of pages: 210
Word Count: 56,000 words
Cover Artist: Jaycee DeLorenzo

Tagline: Can two girls who hate each other save the world? 

Book Description: 

Seventeen-year-old Alisha Howard is having a rough day. She’s had to rescue her headstrong little brother from getting eaten by a monster from another dimension, her mom has put her on dish duty as punishment for bringing her sword to the table (again), and her lifelong enemy, snarky rich girl Belladonna, is starting to look like both a real human being and someone Alisha would like to kiss. To make matters worse, it looks like the world is about to end. 

Alisha is a Guardian, a sworn protector of life on Earth, but is she up to the task of saving the world?

Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/9G__C-rdIP8

Amazon      Nine Star Press

Excerpt Guardians by T.J. Baer © 2023

Chapter One

My brother Jake lay unconscious on the cave floor, his favorite denim jacket torn in three places and his cell phone a cracked mess of plastic on the ground. If we actually survived this, he was going to be pissed.

“All right, look,” I said, giving the giant snarling insect monster my serious face. “I know I don’t look like much, but you should know I am fully capable of kicking your big buggy butt straight back to where it came from, not only for hurting my brother, but for whatever unholy reign of terror you’ve got planned here.”

The monster was nine feet tall, jet-black, and scaly, with hundreds of spindly legs, like a centipede on steroids. Savage mandibles gleamed in the light from the cave mouth, and I tightened my grip on my sword hilt. And because times of stress often led me to incredible feats of word vomit, I kept talking.

“I mean, let’s face it: guys like you don’t generally show up in our world without some kind of nasty plan for world domination, so I think it’s pretty safe to say you’re up to no good. So are you gonna go peacefully, or do I have to start shoving my boot up random orifices until we find the one that hurts the most?”

The centipede monster reared back, its legs fanning out, its mandibles opening—

And then it tilted its scaly head to the side as if regarding me in puzzlement. “You speak great volumes but say very little,” it said in a thin, whistling voice.

Which, okay, was fair. I’d always had a tendency to babble, particularly when I was in imminent danger of being devoured by the Godzilla of centipedes. Generally, the centipede didn’t take the time to inform me of it though.

“I do not wish any harm upon you,” it continued, deviating even further from the Evil Monster Intent on Taking Over the Earth speech. “Nor any human. I came here only wishing to be left alone, but your companion—” It swung its head toward Jake. “—attempted to steal one of my children, at which point I was forced to defend them. I have not seriously harmed him, only caused him to lose consciousness to neutralize him as a threat.”

“He tried to steal one of your kids?” That didn’t sound like Jake.

The centipede-thing tilted its head toward the other end of the cave, where I could just make out the glittering of a number of round, pearly, head-sized spheres. Eggs? They looked like the kind of pretty, decorative objects people would pay a lot of money for, bringing them much more firmly into the realm of things Jake would totally try to steal.

I sighed and slid my sword into its sheath. The magic triggered the instant I did, and sword and sheath shrank to being a decorative golden clasp on my belt. “I apologize for my companion’s rash actions,” I said, bowing my head slightly like we were supposed to do in these situations. “If you’d allow me to remove him from here, I swear to you that he’ll never come near you or your children again.”

The centipede bowed its head too, its pincers snapping and clicking together in a way that I tried not to be too creeped out by. “That would be acceptable. I thank you, Guardian.”
I blinked. “How’d you know I’m a Guardian?”

“Well, for one thing, the sword.”


“But even had you come unarmed, I would have known. You wear your status like a cloak. It seeps from every ounce of your being, every word and action. Though you look a frail female thing, there is power in you.”

“Frail female thing,” I said in a flat voice and decided not to be offended. If the worst thing a giant centipede monster had to throw at me was sexism, I could probably count myself lucky.

“Yeah, well, guess I’d better get Jake—err, my companion—out of your hair before he wakes up and starts trying to make off with your kids again.”
I started forward, hoping the centipede monster would move out of the way, but it stayed where it was, its black eyes glittering in the dimness.

“You have shown me respect and kindness, and so I shall do something for you in return. My species have a unique ability that appears only between laying our eggs and the birth of our children.”

“Oh, yeah? What kind of ability?”

“The ability to glimpse the future. It allows us to provide extra protection to our young when they are unable to protect themselves, for instance if a young human is attempting to steal one of them.”

“For instance,” I said dryly.

“Something lurks on the horizon, Guardian. An age of darkness and danger is coming to you and those like you.”

I frowned. “To the Guardians, you mean?”

“To all beings of your world.”

“What kind of danger?”

Its legs rippled, and it dropped down onto them and made its undulating way over to the row of eggs. Its last word hissed through the cave, seeming to echo louder and louder in my ears:


I suddenly felt very, very tired. “Again?”

About the Author:

T.J. Baer is a queer, trans author of novels and short fiction. Born in Western Pennsylvania, he currently resides in his adopted hometown of Chicago with two cats and a well-stocked cupboard of tea. Some of his titles include Following Grandpa Jess, Guardians, Dreamers, and The Boy Who Was Kissed, and his short fiction has been featured in the Harpur Palate Literary Journal and Flash Fiction Magazine. When not writing, T.J. can be found either discussing queer media on his YouTube channel or failing to escape from murderous ghosts on Twitch.

Website: http://tjbaer.com/