Friday, November 30, 2018

The Christmas Countdown (Holiday Lake #1)

The Christmas Countdown (Holiday Lake #1)

For the residents of Holiday Lake, Minnesota, there is no such thing as too much Christmas cheer. The tiny town prides itself on celebrating the holiday every day of the year and their halls are decked with boughs of holly all year round. 

Yet this December twenty-third, professional holiday decorator Nat Quinn, known as "The Christmas Queen”, has had enough. After a hectic year helping clients set up the absolutely-perfect-to-the-last-detail backdrops for the festive season, she is ready to relax. That’s when divorced billionaire and workaholic Cyrus Blackstone makes a proposal she can’t turn down: Provide the perfect holiday for his children in exchange for the beach vacation of her dreams. 

A perfect Christmas in twenty-four hours? That’s a tall order, even for the Queen of Christmas and her team in Holiday Lake. As Nat races to fulfill her assignment, she realizes that the real challenge isn't the tinsel and pudding.... it’s not falling in love.

Friday, November 16, 2018

The Mystery of the Holiday Cards

Yes, there is a new Dora Pendragon story. It will be available as part of the Candy Canes and Corpses holiday boxed set, which will be out on November 19th. You can preorder it now on Amazon. Enjoy the excerpt!

Note that this story takes place after The Mystery of the Halloween Mask and before The Mystery of the Christmas Doll (both available in the. Dora still thinks Thomas Lane is human and she doesn't yet realize that her shop's magic is changing.

As keeper of the Magical Curiosity Shoppe, Dora Pendragon has guarded the dangerous and mysterious objects in inventory for millennia. But the dimension-hopping store has now arrived in Banshee Creek, and that, she is sure, means trouble is coming her way. When a deck of antique holiday cards shows up at the shop and she sees a vision of death hovering over one of her customers, Dora has no choice but to step in before the shop's tragic curse strikes again.

Chapter One

"MAIN STREET Secret Santa Group Meeting Tonite at the Banshee Creek Library!!!"
I stared at the red and green letters on the flyer, feeling a tight knot of anxiety low in my belly. Did I really want to do this? 
The answer was no, but I still found myself walking down Main Street, heading towards the library. I had even dressed up, wearing a teal-colored tunic that my new Banshee Creek friends—Kat, Fiona, Patricia, and Luanne—had convinced me to buy last week.
Not that there was anything to dress up for, really. It was just a meeting of the town's shopkeepers. Nothing special, but Kat had mentioned that everyone who owned a Main Street business would come, and the headquarters of the local paranormal investigations organization, PRoVE, happened to be located on the town's main road.
So the PRoVE staff may be coming, and that included Thomas Lane. Not that I cared, of course.
Oh, who was I kidding? I'd dressed up. I'd put on makeup. I'd even straightened my hair, which I hadn't done in millennia.
Main Street was full of workers taking advantage of the last fading daylight as they draped lights around the lampposts and hung evergreen wreaths. Thanksgiving had just ended, and the residents of Banshee Creek were now installing their winter solstice decorations. No, not just the solstice, which would be in three weeks, on December 21st. Most of them called it Christmas and it was celebrated on the 25th. I had to remember that.
Little things like that could expose me. After all, I had only been in Banshee Creek for a few weeks. And when was the last time I had even been in this planet? For that matter, this dimension? Decades? No, much more.
I couldn't quite remember. That was the problem with my curse. I was tied to The Magical Curiosity Shoppe, ceaselessly teleporting from city to city, from century to century, from dimension to dimension. The last time I'd been in Banshee Creek, as far as I could recall, had been a century ago. A young girl in Victorian clothes had stopped by the shop and left a Japanese sword behind, her eyes wide with fear.
That had happened on a warm summer evening. The town had been smaller then, a single street lined with gas lights and peppered with shabby shops and run-down houses.
But Banshee Creek was now a bustling little metropolis getting ready for a holiday. I smiled as I glimpsed the figure of a jolly fat man in a red suit behind a shop window. 
It was a roly-poly Santa Claus, all cherry-red cheeks and twinkling eyes. I gave him a jaunty wave and kept on walking, enjoying the crisp evening air.
I wasn't one to judge, but Santa had come a long way from his original solstice incarnation— a bloody sacrifice offered amidst evergreen trees to ensure the sun's rebirth. I liked the cheery elf with the white beard a lot more--
I stopped short, staring ahead in disbelief.
A prone figure clad in red lay in the middle of the street. The scene was eerily similar to the ancient sacrifice I had just pictured, but the clothes were contemporary—khaki pants and a sweater with some kind of print on it. I shivered as the seeping blood turned the snow red.
Wait, snow? There was no snow. The first snowfall, I was told, was still weeks away.
And in the blink of an eye, the body was gone and the street was empty once more.
I stood on the sidewalk in front of the Banshee Creek Bakery and scanned the street more closely. Everything looked normal. In fact, with the Halloween decorations gone, the town appeared even more mundane than usual.
But I had seen something and I wasn't the type of person who saw things, at least things that weren't there. I wasn't a seeress or a medium, and divination had never appealed to me.
Then why was I—
Then I remembered the tunic I was wearing, and the reason why I had hesitated in purchasing it—it hadpockets.
I reached into the pockets and extracted a sparkling round jewel surrounded by a delicate cage of gold. The stone was a pale blue, the color of insight and knowledge.
 "Hello, Eye of Agathor," I said. "What are you doing here?"
The stone twinkled apologetically. 
"You have a perfectly nice box inside a lovely drawer in the shop," I continued. "It has carvings and mosaics and a comfortable velvet lining."
The stone darkened, as if expressing dissatisfaction with its accommodations.
"Don't give me that," I said. "It's cozy, and Bubo doesn't bother you there."
Bubo was my deamon cat familiar. Like me, he was permanently, eternally attached to the Magical Curiosity Shoppe. Unlike me, he liked shiny things. There was a reason why the Eye was always kept in a drawer.
But that was the problem with the shop—the inventory always wanted to leave. The items I guarded were all magical, cursed, or just extremely unlucky. It really was better for everyone if they just stayed put. Unfortunately, the objects themselves strongly disagreed. They were constantly trying to escape the store, attach themselves to new owners, and wreak havoc on the outside world.
And the Eye of Agathor was no exception. I really should have known better than to buy an outfit with pockets. 
"Come one, it's where you belong," I continued.
The Eye flashed angrily, giving me his uncensored opinion of the box, the velvet lining, my mangy cat, and the shop in general. This was one angry piece of jewelry.
"I don't care," I said. "You're going back."
The Eye then turned a sulky dark blue.
I sighed. I did not want to go back to the store to return the Eye, I would be late for the meeting, but I didn't want to walk around with it in my pocket, either. It would no doubt find a convenient hole in the fabric to slip through. I folded my flyer and put it into the pocket instead. A piece of paper would do no harm.
The Eye was a different story.
I gathered my magic and drew an ellipse in the air. It glowed for a second, then coalesced into a thin gold chain. I attached the chain to the Eye and put the now black stone around my neck.
There, that should take care of it. Wearing the Eye would be annoying, no doubt, but I would just have to ignore the visions. No biggie.
The rest of the walk was uneventful, just a beautiful evening in a quaint small town. No corpses. No omens of impending doom. Nothing, except the sign in front of the Banshee Creek Library announcing the Secret Santa meeting.
The library was a classic American Foursquare building with red brick siding, white moldings, and lots of ivy. Holly Hagen, the assistant librarian, had already hung the Christmas garlands and wreaths, and the library looked warm and inviting.
I fiddled with the flyer in my pocket as I approached. This was, in many ways, scarier than the Eye of Agathor's worst visions. By nature, I was a loner. I'd spent millennia trapped in one particular store, only meeting occasional customers. Oh, I had Bubo, and many of my items had vivid personalities, like the Eye. 
But Banshee Creek was different. For the first time in maybe centuries, I'd spent more than a couple of days in one place. I'd gotten to know the locals. I'd even made friends, and now, apparently, I was going to participate in a Secret Santa exchange, whatever that was.
It was strange.
"Can you hold the door?" a familiar voice shouted behind me.
I opened the heavy wooden door and turned to smile at Patricia O'Dare, the owner of the Banshee Creek bakery. She was hurrying toward the library carrying a box. 
"Thanks," she said, sounding out of breath. "I just finished baking these."
"No problem," I replied, eyeing the box. "Were we supposed to bring snacks?"
It sounded likely. People often ate at meetings, didn't they? It was a sign of hospitality. There was probably a social cue in the flyer that made that clear, and I had totally missed it. 
"Not at all," Patricia said, as she entered the building. "Holly picked up hot chocolate and candy cane cupcakes from the bakery earlier. This is just a new flavor I'm testing." She gave an apologetic laugh. 
"Oh, good," I replied. "I thought I'd forgotten. Wait, candy cane? What's—"
I broke off, reminding myself that I couldn't ask what a candy cane was. I should have known, and the fact that I didn't would have been a dead giveaway.
But Patricia just laughed. "I know, it doesn't sound a lot like Banshee Creek, does it? We even put ghosts on the Christmas trees, or at least, Yeti ornaments. Holly, however, was adamant about candy canes this year. Her son, Ben, loves them. He even decorated the wreaths himself."
Then Patricia stepped into the library, leaving me free to inspect the wreaths on the entry doors. They had red ribbons, sparkly pine nuts, and little red-and-white striped batons. 
Those must be the candy canes. They didn't look edible, but they must have been, given that Fiona was baking them into cupcakes. I filed the information away for future reference.
Then I walked in, dreading the meeting, but looking forward to the cupcakes.
The library tables had been pushed against the walls and the chairs had been rearranged into a circle. Most of the Main Street businesses were represented. Kat Ramos from the botánica was chatting with the local fortuneteller, Luanne LaRue. Holly was making sure everyone was comfortable. The PRoVE guys were raiding the snack table.
A steady stream of chatter ran through the room. It was a typical small town meeting, except for one detail.
There was a red-clad corpse lying on the floor.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Magical Curiosity Shop Short Story Collection!

At last, all the Dora Pendragon stories in one set!

Three deliciously spooky (and hilariously funny) mystery stories in a little shop that wasn't there yesterday.

The Mystery of the Halloween Mask
Halloween is usually a blast in Banshee Creek, Virginia, also known as The Most Haunted Town in the USA, but not for Magical Mystery Shoppe owner, Dora Pendragon. The immortal witch is tasked—or, to be more accurate, cursed—with guarding dangerous and mysterious objects in her dimension-hopping store. This is, to put it mildly, not the most fun way for a witch to spend eternity, and when a cursed mask disappears from the shop on Halloween night Dora is caught in a race against time. She has to solve the mystery behind the curse, find the mask, and return it to the shop before its bloody legacy exacts a terrible price.  

The Mystery of the Christmas Doll
Christmas in Banshee Creek usually means cold weather, hot chocolate, and lots of toys. But when a haunted doll with a bloody past arrives in the Magical Curiosity Shoppe, Dora Pendragon suspects that the innocent-looking toy is determined to find a new owner. Will Dora solve the mystery behind the doll before it finds a new victim?

The Mystery of the Love Potion
It's Valentine's Day in the Most Haunted Town in the USA. February is a slow month for Banshee Creek, but not for Dora Pendragon. The Magical Curiosity Shoppe seems to be searching for a new item, and it's not the only one. A mysterious stranger is also looking for a delicate glass bottle with curious markings and powerful magical contents. Should Dora give up the precious liquid, or should she finally confront the eldritch force that holds her prisoner, once and for all?

You can buy the set on Amazon. It's $.99 and FREE on KU.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hex Marks The Spot - A Shadow Files Exclusive!!!

Hex Marks The Spot (Drop Dead Witchy #1)

Going to Hell is easy. Going back home is a different story.

They say you can never go back. I wish that was the case.

Returning home is complicated when you’re a necromancer and your hometown is the Most Haunted  in America. It doesn’t help that your pet hellhound chihuahua thinks the place is a dump, and it gets worse when your high school crush is still there and still dead sexy. Literally, as he’s now a ghost.

Oh, and did I mention that I have to save the world? Yeah, again

A Very Merry Witchmas

It's Christmas in Banshee Creek and Kat Ramos and her witch friends face their greatest challenge yet—baking. It's the First Banshee Creek Holiday Cookie Contest and the girls all want to win. But cooking can be tricky in the Most Haunted Town in America, particularly when there's a creepy urban legend making the rounds...and a formidable new witch in town. Will Kat win the coveted first prize, or will the new arrivals make her life hell...literally.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Some Like it Witchy Excerpt

Witchy candlemaker Fiona Hart knows that Banshee Creek is the perfect place for her store. Unfortunately, handsome firefighter Gavin MacKay doesn't agree. When a visiting tourist dies using her Sorceress' Best candles, Fiona is on the hot seat and must find out the culprit before the dreaded Banshee Creek Fire & Rescue Department closes down her shop forever.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fortune Favors the Witch Excerpt

Fortune teller, Luanne LaRue, is trying to build a new life in the haunted town of Banshee Creek and the last thing she wants is a conflict with super-sexy Sheriff Sean Stickley. But when a mysterious fraud spreads through town she has no choice. She has to clear her name fast before her new life (and new love) is destroyed.