Happy Samhain: A Consideration of Wicca: "Know and Be Silent: The Rhetoric of Wicca"

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Know and Be Silent:
The Rhetoric of Wicca

According to Catherine Beyer, the four major tenets of Wicca include “to know, to dare, to will, and to be silent” (1).  Beyer describes the silence aspect in the following way: 
There are several meanings attributed to this phrase. The one I find most appropriate in this day and age is that one should not brag or threaten others concerning their talents with magic . . . Others attribute the phrase to the Burning Times, and that it was a command of self-preservation--advertising otherworldly powers won one a quick trip to the stake. (1)
If one of the major tenets of Wicca advises its practitioners to be silent, what kind of rhetoric is used to describe, and in the case of Wicca, to defend, this religion?  How does Wicca educate others about the religion when the practitioners are fundamentally opposed to talking openly about the religion?  In an article by Selena Fox, noted Wiccan High Priestess, she writes:
Proselytizing is central to many religions, but not to Paganism.  In fact, those interested in being part of a Pagan group may actually have to go through a long search process in order to connect, since most groups are private rather than public due to the climate of intolerance toward alternative spiritualities that persists in dominant society. (1)
If Wicca is a religion that is not meant to be discussed in the public sphere, how do its practitioners convey its meaning?  Here we will examine how the rhetoric of Wicca, a private religion, is used on the public stage to both define and defend the religion.  In our examination we will see that the rhetoric used to define Wicca emerges in two ways: first, through educational and persuasive rhetoric about the religion’s major tenets and second, through defensive rhetoric which proclaims what the religion is not.  As Wicca seeks to separate itself in popular consciousness from Satanism, the Wiccan struggle becomes two-fold: Wicca must use rhetoric to clarify its fundamental beliefs while also differentiating itself from Satanic worship.
            Wicca is a private religion, but it is also a quickly growing one.  According to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey, in 1990 there were 8000 Wiccans in the United States.  By 2001, this number had grown to 134,000 (Kosman et. al. 13).  Some set the marker even higher.  According to Allen, “there are more than 200,000 adherents of Wicca and related ‘neopagan’ faiths in the United States” (18).  It is difficult to determine the exact number of those practicing the religion due, in part, to its private nature and the shroud of “silence” that surrounds the religion.  For fear of discrimination or retribution, many Wiccans do not disclose their religion.
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I am Allegheny by Melanie Karsak

Since Samhain is the season wherein the words are thin, the ancestors spirits walk alongside ours, I thought this was a fitting time to share this very old piece I wrote about my home along the Allegheny river.

I Am Allegheny
Melanie Karsak

The Allegheny is the blood in my veins.  Silvery water snakes along bends and narrows, feeding my ever-beating heart, an island in the river’s deepest regions.  But piercing eyes will stab this silver sheen and find the secret tale below.  The water is murky brown.  Loamy substances drift feathery just under the obsidian surface.  In its deepest regions it is green and dotted with sinkholes that embrace and do not let go. Mayflies dance over the surface leaving white bubbles behind.  Wide-mouths leap from below, snapping then retreating once more into the depths.  Slanting sun peeks through cattails at the water’s edge to reveal an opalescent treasure trove: clam shells dot the river bottom.  Their jewels grace my earlobes and neck.  The sound of my blood is silent save the whirl of the fisherman’s reel sending out its cast.  The bobber breaks the surface with a deep ‘glumb’ hinting at my depths. 
            My shape is defined by the river banks, rounded foot-hills, my breasts, which curve toward the shadowed glen.  Hidden glades hide mushroomed faerie rings, and ferns secret-away the mysteries of life within their folds.  The leafy canopy, highlighted by bright sunlight, is my hair.  The wind rolls unobstructed over corn-fields until it meets the tree-line, tangling Ash and Oak, Willow and Pine.  They moan when the forest is most silent.
            Below, my body, the earthen floor, effervesces with the smell of decaying leaves.  Limestone adds a gritty surface.  Beds of pink Pine needles lend a softness that is easy to touch.  Sharp and brittle, Pine cones are my nails and teeth.
            My soul is in the wind.  It is the shrill cry of the hawk overhead, the alarmed snort of the white-tailed deer and its retreating hoof-beats, and the sound of the mountain borne tributaries, thick with minnows and salamanders, rolling over fossil rocks toward the river—the bay—the ocean. 
I am Allegheny a: river, mountains, forest.  Green.  Origin.  

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Witch Wood: Chapter 1 Free Preview!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween, All Hallows, Samhain, etc! I thought it would be fun to share a little look into Witch Wood to celebrate the season! Enjoy :) 

Witch Wood Chapter 1 Sneak Peek!

Chapter 1

The aura around Mrs. Delaney had faded from vibrant green to dull, sludge-colored green-brown as the last class of the day wore down to its end. Despite the fact she was still standing at the blackboard lecturing, a patient smile on her face, her energy told another tale: she was about to drop. She turned and jotted some notes on the board. I noticed that the chalk tray had left a white line of chalk across the back of her black skirt in a none-too-flattering spot. I hoped the boys wouldn’t notice.
“Witch,” a whisper came from behind me. “Amelia…hey, witchy woman.”
Nate must have gotten bored. Instead of just texting like everyone else, he was about to launch into his tired barrage. I ignored him, hoping it would dissuade him, but pretending he didn’t exist rarely fazed him. He was the glowing center of his own universe. Other people’s perceptions didn’t matter to him.
“Ah-meel-ya,” he chanted. “Witch, why don’t you let me put some sex in your hex.”
I looked at Zoey who was sitting beside me in the next row and rolled my eyes.
I was so over with this day. With half the class out sick, Nate—hipster extraordinaire and total douche—was running low on girls to hit on. Jenna and Sam, who sat behind Zoey and me, usually acted as a buffer. For some reason I never understood, they both liked Nate’s attention. But they were both absent. If I didn’t know it would come back on me tenfold, I’d cast a spell to silence his disgusting mouth. But I was a good witch, Glinda without the bubble, and I had no business casting hexes.
“Rhyming? I didn’t know you were that smart, Nate,” Zoey, who was less patient than me, shot back.
“Logan, you smell fish?” Nate whispered to Logan who sat beside him. “Zoey, close your legs.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced at Logan. A newcomer, Logan had moved to Brighton at the beginning of the year. I could see him and the soft purple and indigo glow that always surrounded him.
Logan shifted uncomfortably then frowned at Nate. “Don’t be a dick. Sorry, Zoey. Nate doesn’t have any manners.”
Nate laughed. “Whatever. Oh, Edward Cullen, you’re such a gentleman,” Nate teased him. “Like Zoey and Amelia even matter.”
Since he first started school, Logan had always lingered on the outskirts of Nate’s tribe. It seemed that he wasn’t actually a jerk like Nate and his friends. And then there was the other thing about him that set him apart. He was an A student, too busy actually paying attention to what Mrs. Delaney had to say in class to be a jerk. And today, Mrs. Delaney’s lecture focused on Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
I scanned around the classroom. Of the less than a dozen students in class, half of them were on their phones. Mrs. Delaney was explaining—mainly to the board at this point—the meaning of the witches’ chant in the play.
“Hey, Amelia, can you brew me a love potion to get Jenna to suck me off?” Nate whispered.
“Could you be any more disrespectful?” Logan chided just as Mrs. Delaney, who’d finally had enough, turned and faced the class.
“In the back…shush. Now, someone tell me, which goddess is said to have been insulted by this play? Anyone actually paying attention? Which goddess cursed Shakespeare’s work?”
I glanced back at Logan through my long, wheat-colored hair. Most days we would race to be the first to answer but not today. The last thing I wanted to do was draw more attention to the fact that I knew about witchcraft. While I’d been practicing Wicca since I was thirteen, the year I stumbled across a used copy of Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham in a used bookstore, I’d always been different. Being Wiccan meant promoting peace, protecting my environment, and feeling at one with the Great Mother. The idiot behind me, however, didn’t know the difference between a devil worshipper—which I was not—and Samantha from Bewitched. And I wasn’t in the mood to explain to him that I only performed good magic, earth and healing magic.
“Zoey?” Mrs. Delaney called.
“Sorry, Mrs. D. I zoned.”
“Of course. Amelia?”
“I…” I began, then glanced up at her. Mrs. Delaney was, by far, my favorite teacher. In the ninth grade, she’d introduced me to Madame Knightly, the owner of Witch Wood Estate, whom I took care of three nights a week and on weekends. I was eternally grateful for the job. I’d already stashed away enough cash to pay for my first year of college. Just the week before, I’d gotten my invite to Claddagh-Basel College for an admission interview. It was really happening. I was going to study Psychology at one of the best schools in the country. And all that had happened because Mrs. Delaney, who kept crystals on her desk and wore a medicine bag around her neck, had seen something in me that the others had ignored. “Hecate,” I said then. “Hecate is the dark goddess named in the play. The editor’s notes said that Shakespeare got the Weird Sisters’ chant from a real witch and that Hecate cursed the play because of it. Some productions remove Hecate just to get rid of the jinx.”
“Exactly. Well done,” she said with a smile then glanced up at the clock. My eyes followed hers.
Thank the Goddess, the day was done.
“All right, class. Please review King’s essay on the use of symbolism in the play and compose a two-page summary.”
“You’re kidding, right? School’s gonna be closed next week,” Brant, a football player, grumbled from the front row—where his coach had mandated he sit.
“Are you really asking me that?” Mrs. Delaney replied, frowning at him. I could see her aura growing even darker, sadder. She really needed to get out of here. “Thus far, they haven’t announced a closure for Monday. Yes, we’re the last school in the county still open. But still, read, write. It won’t hurt you.”
A moment later, the bell rang.
“Whatever,” Brant grumbled under his breath then headed out the door.
“Let’s get out of here,” Zoey said. Rising, she stuffed her book into her backpack.
Nate pushed past. “Sorry,” he said as he pretended to trip, banging his crotch against Zoey’s butt.
“Screw you, Nate. Do that again, and I’ll have Amelia cast a spell to rot it off,” Zoey warned him.
I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Freaks,” Nate said, glaring from Zoey to me, but I couldn’t help but see the look of fear cross his eyes. He wasn’t sure if I could really do something like that. In the end, it was better that he didn’t know I would never, ever practice dark magic. Harm none and do as you will, that is the motto of Wiccans. I wasn’t looking for trouble to come back to me.
I dug into my bag. “Almost forgot,” I said, handing Zoey a small, amber-colored vial.
“What’s this?” she asked, looking at the bottle.
“Eucalyptus and rosemary oil,” I replied. “Put it in your bath or on a cloth to inhale it. It helps keep your respiratory system clear. Should help ward off the cold going around.”
“Thanks,” she said, opening the bottle to take a sniff. “Ooh, my nose is burning.” She giggled.
Logan walked up behind Zoey and me. “Hey, Amelia…you’re organizing the Halloween dance?” he asked.
His dark hair fell over his black-rimmed glasses. He pushed it back then paused to arrange his scarf inside his heavy winter pea coat. For autumn, it was terribly cold and the reports of flu were already out of control. No wonder he was bundled up. His honey-colored eyes crinkled in the corners when he smiled at me. My knees went soft.
“Uh, yeah. We’ve just started planning. We’re still working on a theme.”
“Ms. Flynn says I need another extracurricular. Mind if I help?”
“If you want,” I replied, trying to play it cool when inside I was screaming like a tween at a Justin Bieber concert. “The next meeting is Tuesday at six. We meet down at Studio,” I said, referring to the local coffee bar where Zoey worked. When I wasn’t at Witch Wood, I spent all my time there, especially when Mom was at work. The last thing I wanted was to be penned up at home with my stepdad, Larry.
“Great. I’ll be there,” he replied then looked at the vial Zoey was holding. “So, a white witch? For real?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yeah, I know, it’s weird, but, it’s just, you know…” I said, trailing off. It’s just what, Amelia? You’re a witch. Own it.
Logan raised an eyebrow at me.
“Yes, I’m a white witch. I do healing and stuff. All-natural lifestyle. That kind of thing.”
“Dude?” Nate called to Logan from the door.
Logan grinned at me. “You do protection spells? I need one. My sister got that flu. She was puking all night, and I hate being sick.”
“I do,” I said then arched an eyebrow at him. “You really want me to—“
“Go for it. Please.”
“Okay then. This will just take a minute.” I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and then tried to envision the energy field, the aura, surrounding him. I envisioned white light passing from me to him, surrounding him with a glowing white energy that would protect him. With my mind’s eye, I inscribed this light with a protection rune that glowed with glimmering blue light. In my mind, I chanted:
“Goddess Mother, may this light protect him from all harm.
May this light keep away all illness.
May this light keep him safe from darkness.
May this light bring him peace.
So mote it be.
With thanks, I pray thee.”
I exhaled then opened my eyes. I could still see the white light shimmering all around him. “Done,” I said then smiled.
Logan grinned. “That easy? Cool. I feel much safer now. Thanks, Amelia. See you next week,” he said then headed toward the door.
“What were you doing?” Nate asked Logan.
Logan shrugged off the question, not answering, and they headed down the hall.
“God, I’m crushing on him so hard right now. That was awesome. You should have seen how he was looking at you. Lu-st!” Zoey said, emphasizing the last word in sing-song. “But I don’t get it. Why in the hell does he hang around with Nate?” Zoey asked as she pulled her long black and mermaid blue tresses out of the back of her jacket. They tumbled down her back to her waist.
“Their parents are connected or something,” I replied. “Brianna and Brian said their dads work together. And he’s new. He doesn’t know better yet. You heard him call Nate out. He’s not like them.”
“Well, he’s definitely into you,” Zoey said as we moved toward the door.
“Na. I’m just a curiosity.”
“Did you even register what just happened? All guys secretly dig the weird girls, but I think Logan actually likes you.”
“You think?” My heart slammed in my chest.
“Guess you’ll find out Tuesday.”
“So mote it be,” I said with a wink.
Zoey laughed.
“Amelia?” Mrs. Delaney called as Zoey and I headed toward the door. “Will you see Madame Knightly this weekend?”
I nodded.
“Be sure to wish her well for me.”
“Will do,” I said with a smile.
“Oh, and Amelia, don’t cast in class,” she said with a laugh.
I smiled at her. “Okay, Mrs. D. Get some rest this weekend. You…you feeling okay?”
“Just run down,” she said then tapped her medicine bag. “We’re going out to the reservation this weekend to see my husband’s parents. They usually do powwow this time of year. School year started rough…” she said, her voice trailing off.
Rough. Yes, her aura definitely agreed. “Rest up. We’ll see you Monday.”
She nodded and waved us off.
Zoey and I then turned and headed down the hallway toward the exit. Over the loudspeaker, Coach Nestor was making announcements. “Tonight’s basketball game against the Laughlin Vikings is cancelled. Laughlin High School has been closed due to the flu outbreak. A reminder from the nurse’s office, please stay home if you are experiencing flu-like symptoms. Call the attendance line to report any absences. Make ample use of hand sanitizer to avoid spreading illnesses.”
“Have a good weekend, Miss Beatrice,” Zoey called as our lanky, blonde-haired biology teacher rushed past balancing her school bag, a coffee cup, and her cell phone. She was texting furiously.
“You too, Zoey...Amelia. I’ll see you at Studio Saturday night. Allen and I got tickets for the play at the theater. If they don’t cancel. Later, girls,” she said then raced down the hall.
I couldn’t help but notice that half the male teachers and male students turned to watch her go past. She was gorgeous, that was certain, like the kind of hot teacher you always saw getting fired because she was secretly a bikini model in her spare time. Her boyfriend was the town celebrity, a PGA golfer or something. I didn’t have her for class this year, but I’d taken advanced biology with her junior year. She was wicked smart. I must have wondered a hundred times why she was teaching at a high school.
“God, if I could get the flu maybe I could drop these last ten pounds before the Halloween dance. My dieselpunk outfit would look so hot if I wasn’t so flabby,” Zoey said absently as we headed out into the crisp, autumn air.
With her athletic frame from playing softball, Zoey was hardly flabby. “That’s gross. Just stop eating fries like they’re a food group.”
“They aren’t?” she asked with a wink. “Don’t go hippie on me, Miss perfect-boho-more-lithe-than-air figure because I am one with mineral water and acorns. Figure out what you’re going to go dressed up as yet?”
“I was thinking Harley Quinn. Not sure yet.”
“Well, I’m sure you and your date will come up with something.”
“Logan, of course, when he asks you on Tuesday. Don’t say no.”
“Stop shipping.”
“You know you want him.”
When we reached the front steps, we stopped so Zoey could dig through her bag for her van keys. I eyed the parking lot. Logan was getting into a car with Nate, Katie, and Brad. The popular crowd. Not my crowd. I looked around for Brian and Brianna. Their car was gone. I hadn’t seen them since first period. Had they gone home sick?
Zoey finally pulled out her keys. “Sure you don’t want me to drop you off?”
“Na. I haven’t had enough bonding time with the acorns today.”
Zoey laughed. “Fine. But you want me to pick you up at Witch Wood Monday morning?”
“Hugs,” she said then, pulling me into an embrace. “Don’t overdose on too much Matlock and Werther’s candies this weekend. And don’t get sick. Call me, okay?”
“Dead spot, remember? I’ll try…if the rotary phone is working. It’s been acting strange.” Strange was an understatement. Since last weekend the old rotary phone kept ringing, but there was never anyone on the line…just static and strange tinny sounds.
Zoey nodded. “Okay, I’m gonna be late for work. Later, babes,” Zoey called then flounced down the steps toward her van.
I took a deep breath, inhaling the crisp autumn wind. This weekend marked the feast of Mabon, the harvest festival, and I was planning to spend it with the one person who understood me best, Madame Knightly. Of course, before I could run off to the haven of Witch Wood Estate, I had to make a stop at the place where I hated to be most…home.

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Submerged by Katie Hayoz

Monday, October 26, 2015

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Melusine DorĂ© is as practiced at guarding a secret as she is at wielding a weapon. Yet her past refuses to stay buried. Her worst fears are realized when Melusine and her companion, Levi, get called to hunt a beast in her birthplace of Malheur. The second she sets foot on her native soil, nothing proceeds as she planned: a beautiful tinker sets her sights on Levi, a gentle monster kills for sport, and an admission of love becomes a betrayal. Melusine comes face to face with the lies of her family’s past—and a truth that could destroy her.

Adventure number two in the Clockwork Siren series, Submerged takes us from the muddy trenches of steampunk Chicago to the sticky swamps of Louisiana to the slippery side of love.

The broadside under the heel of Melusine’s boot taunted, MELUSINE DORE: FRIEND OR FIEND?
Good question, thought Melusine. It was the third headline this week that sought to put Melusine in the same category as the monsters she hunted.
She twisted her foot, the thin paper folding like an accordion and ripping under the pressure. She would worry about the accusations later. Now, she had a job to do.
She descended step by rotting step down a ladder and into a muddy trench. The air was ripe with the odor of insects and stagnant water and sewage. She tugged her chatelaine out from her corset and opened a tiny vial of rosemary oil, dotting a drop of it directly under her nose.
Her boots squelched in the muck, her hands out on either side, scrabbling the walls of the trench. The darkening night made it difficult to see; she scraped against newly laid pipes and tripped over littered debris. A fur-backed troll had taken up residence in the ditches dug for the new pipelines that were intended to clean up Chicago. The creature had been making meals of the workers, leaving nothing but picked-clean bones behind. If the city wanted to move forward on its project to raise itself out of squalor and sewage, the troll had to be taken care of.
An itch at the base of her skull told her she was close. Fingering her chatelaine again, she unhooked a bag of goblin powder from the links. She was at a crossroads of sorts, the trench tunneling both straight ahead and to the right. To the side, almost completely hidden in shadow, was a misshapen figure. Ahead of her was another one; she could just make out the two bulging orbs of its eyes. As it stepped forward, Melusine threw the goblin powder in its face. “Sweet dreams, little troll,” she said.
But instead of dropping into an instant deep sleep, the creature sneezed. Loudly. Once. Then twice. A voice Melusine knew well swore, “Tarnation! Mel, please tell me this isn’t goblin powder!”
Levi Cannon. Now that she was closer, Melusine saw the strange copper and glass contraption Levi wore strapped to his face. Night goggles, his inventor friend Zahn’s latest design. Levi sneezed three more times then took the glasses off. Already, even in the dim light, Melusine could see the pink stain of irritation from the powder blossoming on his face everywhere but where the goggles had been.
“I’m hunting a troll. Of course it’s goblin powder. What are you doing here?”
The sneezing was constant now, and Levi had to speak in gasps. “With the rumors…I just…wanted…to be positive…no one…would…try to hurt…you.”
He sneezed an explosion, then yelled, “Behind you!” But Melusine was ready. The back of her neck had been crawling at the monster’s approach. She yanked her dagger from the sheath on her thigh and whipped around, throwing the blade between the troll’s giant, milky eyes. The beast was pale, its yellow-blue skin wrinkled, translucent and hairless but for the thick rug of brown fur growing over its shoulders and down its back.
The dagger stunned it for a second, but then it let out a gurgled roar and raced for Melusine. She readied the dregs of the goblin powder, was just waiting for the creature to get close enough when clink, clink, clink, pop, pop, pop, she felt the whizz of bullets passing over her shoulder. The monster burst into a mess of fluids, tufts of brown fur covering Melusine like an itchy blanket.
“A crank gun?” she moaned. “You planned on making a mess. Admit it, Mr. Cannon.” She tried wiping the coarse fur off of her arms, but all she managed to do was spread it around.
“Not unless you admit that throwing the goblin powder my direction was not entirely an accident.” Levi was now scratching at his face, the pink blotches growing red. “Ow! Tonight of all nights! You know I have an appointment with a woman on Ashton Avenue to remove the gnome that’s taken up residence in her garden.”
Oh, yes, Melusine remembered the elegant and beautiful sophisticate who’d made the appointment. Who’d insisted that Levi come work alone. Melusine held back a twitch of a smile.
“That’s tonight?” She took her dagger from the troll’s skull and wiped the purple blood off on the leg of her trousers. Holding the blade up in front of her, she inspected its cleanliness, the tip pointed at Levi’s heart. “But what does it matter how you look? Surely, you were not planning on seducing the lady?”
 Levi set a gloved finger on top of the blade and lowered it until the point was facing the ground. His eyes stayed trained on her face, the intensity of them tugging at a thread of longing stitched in Melusine’s chest.
“There’s only one woman who interests me,” he said. “I’d kiss her now if I could, but my lips are beginning to blister.”

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About the author
Katie grew up in Racine, Wisconsin where she acquired an irreversible nasal twang and an addiction for books with a slightly dark edge. She now lives in Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, two daughters, and two fuzzy cats. She has been an avid reader of YA fiction for years. While she has a penchant for the paranormal, she devours a range of books -- along with popcorn and black licorice. She consumes all three in large quantities. Luckily, the books don't stay on her hips.

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Blog Tour: Never Say Never by Emily Goodwin

Friday, October 23, 2015

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Title: Never Say Never
Author: Emily Goodwin
Genre: Full length, stand-alone contemporary romance
Release Date: September 28, 2015

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My life was full of nevers.
It was never supposed to go this way. I was never supposed to lose Mom so soon. I was never supposed to worry about making ends meet, to worry about losing the farm. I never thought I’d be working a job I hate, with a boss who was more interested in what was under my shirt than in my head. Saving neglected and abused horses had been my whole life. It was my reprieve, my sanity, my last saving grace in a cruel world. I never thought I’d grow to resent it, but I guess there is a first for everything.
Then I met him.
The Hollywood playboy. The entitled, cocky asshole that I can’t get out of my head. I never thought there could be more to him than sex appeal and an infamous reputation of loving and leaving. I never thought I’d fall for him, put my heart on the line, and risk letting him completely destroy me.
But you know what they tell you…never say never.
Purchase your copy today!

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Bloody hell, I want her. Without taking my mouth off of hers, I reach down and pull up her shirt, exposing her breasts. I trail kisses down her neck and bury my head between her tits. Her legs wrap around me and she arches her back. She wants this too, and I know it’s more than just physical lust. She needs to feel the connection, to be touched, just as badly as I do. My hands run over the smooth skin of her stomach. I unbutton her jeans and move back up, putting my lips to hers once more. I slide my hands down, intending on taking off her trousers. I feel the scar tissue beneath my fingers and she flinches. “Sorry,” I pant. “Does it hurt?” She turns her head away and closes her eyes. “Yes.” “I’ll be careful,” I tell her. “I know.” She doesn’t look at me. “I’m just…” “Haley?” I grind my erection against her. It’s straining against my trousers so hard it’s starting to hurt. I need to be inside her. “It’s ugly and gross, and I’m sorry.” I sit up to look, but she pulls me back down, shaking her head. “You don’t want to see it, trust me.” I press a kiss to her forehead. “Haley,” I pant. “Nothing about you is ugly or gross.” Our eyes lock, faces just inches from each other. “I have scars too.” “I know,” she whispers, gently running her finger over the jagged line above my eye. “I like your scars.” “Let me like yours.” Still looking into my eyes, she moves her head up and down. I rock back and gently move her shirt up. Rough, raised skin stretches tightly along her side. It’s pink and rippled, mapping a web of pain from the curve of her hip up to the side of her breast. A knot forms in my stomach, but it’s not from the sight of her. It’s from knowing that her flesh has been melted, that she has felt so much pain and was left with this as a reminder she has to live with every day. “It’s hideous, isn’t it?” she asks, unable to look at me. “Like Freddy Kruger.” “No, not at all like him.” I move down and gently press my lips to her scar. “You’re beautiful, Haley.” She trembles under me, and I kiss her scar one more time. “I’m glad you think so,” she says, tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry.” I wipe the tears away. “Don’t be sorry.” She closes her eyes and nods, pushing her shirt down and covering the scar on her side. I tip my head and push up her sleeve. The scar on her shoulder isn’t as bad. The skin is flat and shiny, and not as pink. I sweep my finger over it and then press my lips against that scar too. “I wish you could see you the way I do. You’d see that you are beautiful.” “Aiden,” she says as tears roll down her face. Then she’s pulling me on her again, and we kiss in a fury of passion. The same tightness plagues me, and I have to turn away to cough again. I bury my face in her breasts, trying to catch my breath. “Are you feeling okay?” she asks. No, I’m not. But I’m so turned on, so wrapped up in her, it doesn’t matter. “I’m good enough.” She smiles and everything is right in the world again. “I want you,” I confess. “I want you too,” she says. I grin and put my lips to her neck, softly sucking on her skin. She lets out a moan. I hold myself up on my elbows and take her hands in mine, pushing them above her head. She squirms underneath me, rubbing herself against my erection. I trail kisses down her neck, over her soft breasts and onto her stomach. She lifts her hips, and I slip her jeans over her arse and pull them down to her knees. She kicks them off and wraps her legs around me, bringing me in. Her phone rings. “Ignore it,” she pants, and she lifts her head up to kiss me. She doesn’t have to tell me twice. Her fingers run through my hair again, and I can hardly take it. The phone stops ringing and she reaches for me, fingers hovering over my belt. Then her phone rings again. “It’s probably Lori,” she tells me as she undoes the buckle. Her hands are so close to my cock. She’s moving slow on purpose, teasing me, and I love and hate her for it at the same time. “She’ll leave a message if it’s important.” “Okay,” I rush out, holding my hips up. She pulls the belt through the loops and lets it drop to the floor. She takes hold of my zipper and runs her hand over me through the outside of my trousers. Fuck, I need her. Tantalizing, she moves her hands back up, fingernails running over the skin on my sides. I’m about ready to take off my own fucking trousers. Her hands sweep back down and unbutton my jeans. The zipper comes down on its own, unable to hold back my erection. I yank them off. She sticks her hand inside my boxers, fingers curling around my cock, and I melt at her touch. Then her phone rings again. Three calls in a row—that’s never a good sign. She freezes, my cock in her hand. My lips are against hers, my tongue in her mouth, and I think about how good it would feel if my dick went in there. She shakes her head and starts pumping her hand. I want inside of her. I want to connect as one, feeling physically how she makes me feel inside. I don’t want to just fuck her. I want to make love to her. I’ve never, ever wanted that before. She tugs my boxers down, and I’m overcome with want. I take my mouth off hers and remove her shirt, staring at her large breasts for a few seconds before moving back down. Both of her hands are on my arse, and she’s pulling me down, pressing me into her, the thin material of her nickers keeping us apart. She’s so warm, and I know she wants me as badly as I want her. “Do you want to go upstairs?” she pants, sliding her hand around my thighs. I don’t care where we go, as long as I’m with her. “This is fine,” I say, only because letting her go isn’t something I can do right now. We’re cramped together on the couch and a bed would be better, especially for our first time. Though the passion between us is unlike anything I’ve felt before, and I know no matter where we are, making love to Haley is going to be transcendent. Her heart is racing against mine. She nods and widens her legs. I slip my hands behind her and unclasp her bra, slowly rolling each strap down until her breasts come free. “You are so fucking beautiful,” I whisper before I press my mouth to her, flicking my tongue against her erect nipple. She moans again and takes hold of the hem of my shirt. I hold my arms up and she pulls it off, dropping it on the floor next to us. Her eyes sweep over me. “So are you,” she says, and her eyes land on my cock. It turns me on to see her staring at it with hunger and lust in her eyes. I dive back down, moving to the side just enough to run my hand over her stomach and inside her nickers. My breath catches when I feel her wetness, and my want intensifies. I put my lips on the soft skin inside her neck, kissing her as I stroke my fingers over her core.  

About the Author

Emily Goodwin is the author of the twice banned dark romance, STAY, as well as over a dozen other titles. Emily writes all types of romance, from love stories set in the zombie apocalypse to contemporary romances taking place on a western horse ranch. Emily lives in Indiana with her husband, children, and many pets, including a German Shepherd named Vader. When she isn't writing, Emily can be found riding her horses, designing and making costumes, and sitting outside 
with a good book. 

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Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Halloween is just around the corner and it's time for the 4th annual Attack of the 14 Nights of Halloween Giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. Seven wickedly fun shops have come together to create one Spooktalcular Prize Pack ($225+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Accessories and more! All shops are offering Gift Cards or your choice of item(s) so there will be something for everyone. Many of the shops have items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below or visit the Main Giveaway Page on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog HERE.

My favorite Halloween movie is, hands down, The Shining. I don't know what it is about this movie that scares the hell out of me, but it does. Perhaps it's the suspense, the music, the setting...it's just sublime in its mastery of horror. The opening scene still gives me chills:

Another great Halloween flick for the littles that I've really grown to love is Coraline. it's a great spooky movie, but not too spooky, to watch with the kids.

Now more about the giveaways...

Join us daily on the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog during the giveaway for our Halloween Movie Marathon featuring the Guess the Movie Game and our Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Each event will get you daily entries in the giveaway plus a special giveaway for the Murder Mystery Scavenger Hunt. Find full details for these events HERE.

October is the perfect time for watching spooky movies. Along with the Halloween Movie Marathon each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite movie choices with you.

The giveaway runs October 18th - November 1st and is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack and 1 winner will win the Scavenger Hunt Prize Pack. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily giveaway events.

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Release Day: Chaser by Staci Hart

Thursday, October 15, 2015

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Everyone knows you should never say never.

Cooper Moore never saw Maggie Williams coming. She was just his best friend’s little sister, the curly-haired, freckle-faced girl from Mississippi who was absolutely off limits. And he never thought about her any other way — not until he saw her that night, broken and brave. From that moment on, he knew he’d do whatever it took to protect her, even if it meant he had to stay away.

Maggie never expected to find her fiancĂ© banging her maid of honor an hour before she was set to walk down the aisle, but life’s funny that way. The only option to save her sanity is to get the hell out of Jackson and move to New York where her brother lives. The only downside: Cooper is there too. And she just doesn’t know if she can stay away from him — the filthy rich, dead sexy playboy who’s allergic to commitment.

The second Maggie sees him again, she realizes he’ll be impossible to resist. Luckily, commitment is the last thing on her mind, and Cooper is the perfect escape. As long as she can keep her heart in check, everything will be just fine. Because she can never have feelings for him. Or at least that’s what she’ll keep telling herself.

Chaser is a standalone romantic comedy and book 2 of the Bad Habits series.

Chaser Teaser 2
Cooper grabbed me by the hips and dragged me to the end of the bed where he knelt. I gasped — somehow, I was completely naked, but he was fully clothed, smiling up the line of my body, that crooked smile of his that made my insides turn into mush. My thighs rested against his shoulders, and his eyes were smoldering hot, locked onto mine as he closed his lips over me and sucked. Hard.


That’s what I tried to say, at least, but I think it sounded more like Humuguh. Not that Cooper needed clarification. His eyes closed, dark lashes against his cheeks, fingers digging into my hips as he licked and sucked, sending tremors up my thighs when he moaned softly against me. My eyes slammed shut, and my chin pointed at the ceiling as my fingers twisted in his dark hair. Within seconds, I was rocking against him with my heart doing its best to escape my ribs and the rest of my body begging him to keep going.

He broke away. I cracked my lids, which weighed about seven pounds each, and glanced down at him. His face was turned toward the closed bedroom door, with alarm written in every angle.
And then I heard the front door close.


Cooper looked back at me, blue eyes wide, and we stared at each other for one stunned second before bursting into action. I rolled out of bed with wobbly knees, and he stood, scanning the room for a place to hide.

Here’s the problem: No one knew Cooper and I were hooking up.

Here’s the bigger problem: My brother, West, might actually kill Cooper if he found out.

Chaser Teaser
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the series

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Chaser Promo


About the author
Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life -- a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can't forget that. She's also been a mom; she has three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She's been a wife; even though she's certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She's also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she's been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.
From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she's not writing, she's sleeping, gaming, or designing graphics.

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Twisted Magic by Claire C. Riley Now Available

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Purchase on Amazon: CLICK HERE


It’s a darkness that doesn’t want to let go...
After being banished from her coven five years ago, Sarah vowed to stay away from black magic forever and instead tried to embrace the life of a white witch. However, now a family death has brought her back to her hometown of Raven’s Cove, and the good little witch is in line to inherit a powerful gift.
Peter is invisible. Voiceless. Imprisoned in the little cottage in the woods with no way out, waiting for the day that someone will set him free, even as his hope fades. He comes from a coven of white witches, yet was always tempted by the power of dark magic.
Sarah and Peter find themselves drawn together, and they soon learn that to escape the dark magic that controls them, they must first learn to embrace it.

Because the only way to rise out of the ashes is to first burn everything down to the ground.


Claire C. Rileyis a USA Today and International bestselling author. She is also abestselling British horror writer. Her work is best described as the modernization of classic, old-school horror. She fuses multi-genre elements to develop storylines that pay homage to cult classics while still feeling fresh and cutting edge. She writes characters that are realistic, and kills them without mercy. Claire lives in the United Kingdom with her husband, three daughters, and one scruffy dog.

Author of:
 Odium The Dead Saga Series,
Odium Origins Series,
Limerence (The Obsession Series)
Thicker than Blood series,
& Shut Up& Kiss me,
Plus much more.

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Q1. It’s almost Halloween, what’s your favourite witch movie or novel?
It has to be either The Witches of Eastwick or Hocus Pocus. And yes, I know how completely different those two films are, but they are both classics to me, and I watch them every year.
Q2. What was your inspiration for your witch novella?
I’m a huge fan of Romeo & Juliet, the whole ‘love that cannot be’ thing really grips me, and so with this in mind I tried to twist the story on its head and incorporate it into a more modern setting. And of course include witches haha
Q3. Cast your characters. If your novella were made into a movie, who would play your main characters?
I imagined someone like Clare Danes to play Sarah, but that could be because I had the whole Romeo and Juliet thing in my head. For Peter I definitely saw someone like Kit Harrington :0)
Q4. Do you believe in magic?
In short, yes.
Q5. What else should we know about your novella?
If you like dark romances and tortured heroes, then this is for you.

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