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Defamiliarization?

My fiction class has been fun and educational! One of the best workshops was about de-familiarization. This is all about taking ordinary things and making them extraordinary. It’s kind of like when you are driving on an east bound road at sunrise, and suddenly the back sides of the street signs are transformed into something you have never seen before, bathed in an ethereal orange glow. Here’s my shot at it! Enjoy!

Ink Magic

“Kaydan, Kaydan, move,” The Zoran’s voice pulled Kaydan out of her trance and she sat up, pushing her hair out of her eyes.

“What?”

The Zoran chuckled. “Kaydan, here move,” she said as her hands repositioned Kaydan’s shoulder and legs. “Ready?” she asked holding up the tattoo machine. The machine started buzzing, and the Zoran touched the needle to Kaydan’s shoulder. She squeezed her eyes shut against the pain and took a shallow breath inhaling the earthy smell of the incense burning around her, and let it out slowly through her nose. She let the pressure of the needle, the heat from the lamp on her skin and the buzz of the machine lull her back into a trance. Kaydan searched her memories to help her get through the tattooing.

She thought about how she had escaped from the army before finally making it to the Zoran’s village. The big man they called Hamlin had left her alone in his musty tent. She sat on the canvas floor, and took a long deep breath. She needed to reassess her situation, the mission was too important to give up or panic.

Hamlin had done nothing more than scream obscenities at her, as if that would get her to confess secret information. What she could tell him would mean nothing to him even if she did spill it. The coded message for the Zoran didn’t mean much to her either.
Kaydan needed to focus on escaping. She called her power to her and felt it glowing inside her chest. She pictured heat radiating down her arm and out to her fingertips and into a consolidated flame. She sent cool, wet wind down her other arm. She touched the tiny flame to back of the tent, while using the cool wet wind to keep the fire focused and controlled. It only took seconds, and then she ran through the dark forest. She called her power one more time and sent comforting warmth over her entire body, willing the power to turn eyes from her, so she would not be seen. The power would only last a few minutes, but she would need it to get past the sentries.
They had surprised her in the forest when she first came upon the army. She had not seen them in their suites covering them in the dark green of forest shadow then, but she picked them out now as she ran by them, protected by magic.

Kaydan opened her eyes to the Zoran patting her shoulder with a soft towel. Kadan looked up at her, “Why are you stopping?”

“I think you’ve had enough for one sitting. You need a break.”

“No, no. We have to get this done. I’m fine.”

“Kaydan, your magic started to flare; that’s dangerous.”

Kaydan shook her head. “The memory held magic. I won’t pick one like that again. I’m sorry, but that army is too close. We have to get this done.”

The Zoran sighed. “Ok. Let’s go.” She repositioned Kaydan on the table, and the buzzing began.

Gem grunted and grabbed Kaydan’s upper arm and pulled her up the last flight of stairs and into a candlelit room. The Headmaster sat behind a large oak desk. Kaydan folded her hands behind her back and stood very still.

The old man opened his mouth, “Ahh, there you are.”

“Yes sir.” Kaydan gave a small curtsy.

“I’m sure you are wondering why you are here.”

“Yes sir.”

“Gem tells me that your training has advanced nicely since you decided to start taking it seriously, and stop causing trouble. Can I safely assume that you are indeed taking this seriously and not planning some major plan to over throw the establishment?”

“No, sir, I mean yes sir. I mean, I am taking it seriously.”

The old man nodded and took a moment to truly look at Kaydan, causing Kaydan to become all the more nervous and uncertain. “Well, Gem, you are right, we have no choice.” The old man gave a nod to Gem, and Gem nodded back then turned to Kaydan.

“We have a mission that we must send you on.”

“What?”

“You are to leave now and travel until you reach Brampton village.”

Kayden interrupted, “What? Leave the school?”

“This is important, listen. War is imminent. We cannot afford to risk the school.”
Kayden shook her head. What Gem said did not make any sense. But still, Gem continued. “This is important,” she said firmly, slamming her hand palm down on the Headmaster’s desk. “You have to take this message to the Zoran.”

Kaydan jumped and opened her eyes.

“What?” The Zoran asked.

Kaydan shook her head. “It’s the memory. This last one seemed very real.”

“Hmm. That can happen. It means the magic will be strong. We need strong.” She turned Kaydan around. “I need to do your chest now for the head. This part will take a while, it will be painful, but it is very important.”

They put a gun to her head, the click echoed as the soldier readied the weapon. Dark green, almost black garments wrapped the soldiers from head to toe. They faded into the shadows of the trees, hidden. Others materialized, calling to each other; Blake, Scooter, Trent, Rylie. Take her to Hamlin. Is she one of them? Cut the chatter. Who bagged her? Cipher. He’s quick on the draw. I said cut it. Hamlin wants her. They shoved her around, hands pulling her through the woods, leaves crunching kicking up damp smells, knees pushed into the damp dirt, a tall figure looming over. He pulled his head gear off, eyes like cutting diamonds. What is it? You smell like witch. Witch, spy, slut, dog, beneath me, waste of time. We can just kill her now. Hamlin said no, take her to his tent. He leaned in toward Kaydan. She could smell garlic on his breath and sweat. How could he smell her through that? How did a witch smell like worse than that? She didn’t ask; she knew better. Cipher pulled her away and shoved her in the tent. He warned her with a look.

The Zoran gently shook her awake. “I’m done.”

Kaydan sat up and wiped sleep from her eyes. “I fell asleep.”

“Should I have stopped?”

“No. Is it really done?”

The Zoran nodded and handed Kaydan a mirror. She looked into it at the dragon head asleep on her chest. The green of the scales shimmered in the light as she moved; perfect. Kadan stood and used the mirror along with another hanging on the wall to see most of the back. The dragon wrapped around her shoulders, down her spine, and curled around her legs. The wings rested along her spine. “Wow.”

“Yes, wow, but now you need to rest for real. This must have taken a lot out of you.”

Kaydan started to protest, but Gem had drilled health and mental awareness so often; she could not ignore her exhaustion. She nodded. “You’re right.”

“Glad you finally realize that.” She laughed gently as she spoke, and Kaydan couldn’t help but smile.

Yelling woke her, and then she smelled smoke, burning. Someone screamed. It sounded like the Zoran, and Kaydan ran for the front door. Hamlin stood in the road looking down at the Zoran, who had been shoved down in front of him. One of his men hit her with the butt of his gun and she fell to the ground. Kaydan ran to her. “No!”

“Ah, here is the little witch-dog that got away. Cipher can finish you off, now.”

Kaydan looked up at the smug look on Hamlin’s face. Someone grabbed her by the arm pulling her away from the Zoran. She tried to struggle away from the man, tried to call her magic. She wanted revenge. They should never have touched the Zoran; she is sacred.

Hamlin laughed. “You are not getting away this time witch. Your magic will not help with a bullet in your head.” Kaydan glared at him. His eyebrows pinched together and he leaned forward. “I’m going to slaughter you and every dog like you. I’m going to wipe out all the scum-witches. Put her on the ground.” The soldier shoved her down and Hamlin started pulling his gun around from his back.

Kadan stilled herself, took a breath. She couldn’t do it for revenge or spite or even her own personal protection, but she could do it to save her people. She suffered hours under the needle for one reason, this reason. The message she gave the Zoran was not a coded warning, it was a prophecy. Kaydan would fulfill that prophecy for her people. She called her magic to her and pushed it into the creature on her back and chest. The power pushed her forward as the dragon pulled off her back. The tail slid around her leg and the wings pushed off of her shoulder. She looked up and watched her beast beating leathery wings into the sky.

The soldiers shot their weapons at it, but bullets cannot hurt what is made of pure magic and will. The dragon banked and soared toward them. Kaydan covered her head and felt the heat of fire the dragon breathed over the army. Hamlin, Cipher and the others ran, but Kaydan watched the green flames of her beast take them down.

Afterwards, the dragon found her and rested again across her back. She looked down to see the dragon’s head resting on her chest again. A small drop of blood dripped from his mouth.

She could pay this price.

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Vampire Novel??

href=”https://rubiconwriting.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/draculaffcmina.jpg”>draculaffcminaDracula is the father of the vampire novel, but he is not the first vampire in literature. Gothic writing was established in the 1800’s as a dark genre with uncanny events and dramatic writing, and gave birth to modern horror and the vampire novel. The history of the gothic genre can be traced back to at least 1764 with The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (Gothic).

From this genre came forth many different varieties of themes including the vampire. The first vampire to appear in literature may have been John Polidori’s The Vampyre; A Tale from 1819, which was followed in 1872 by a short story “Carmilla” published in the collection called In a Glass Darkly by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. At the heart of both of these tales are remote locations and some sort of mystery around the vampire. Both characteristics can also be found in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” may have even been a strong influence on Stoker as it was the first vampire story by an Irish writer (Miller, 107). Le Fanu’s work is said to consist of psychological tortures, “…his [Le Fanu’s] conscience-spawned specters show us for the first time the ghost of the mind, which is yet, disquietingly, sometimes seen by others too, so that at the end we know not for certain whether the tormenting spirit comes from within or without (Miller, 107).” Many authors such as Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, and Mary Shelley, etc… gave us writings that shaped the feel of gothic and vampire literature defining the genre as having characteristics of, “vigorous villains, helpless heroines of surpassing beauty and unsullied virtue, and dashing heroes of limp imagination and questionable intelligence (Miller, 105).” However, other authors such as Le Fanu and Edgar Allen Poe gave us the psychological horror, and any of these characteristics of traditional gothic were present in Dracula (Miller, 103-106).

Bram Stoker published Dracula in 1897, and the novel became the father of all vampires in literature, solidifying its place in Western culture (Miller, xv). There has been much controversy, however, on the quality of Stoker’s writing, and Bela Lugosi’s 1931 portrayal of the count has done far more for establishing the novel as a classic than Stoker’s writing necessarily does (Miller, xv). Regardless, thousands of vampire stories and novels have since been written with varying degrees of success since Dracula was published demonstrating the lasting impression of the vampire villain (Stoker, xix).

Above all, the vampire was if not created, then developed in Stoker’s Dracula. The vampire comes from a long folklore tradition over multiple cultures of the undead, “a corpse that returns from the grave to suck the blood of the living (Miller, 29).” The blood sucking is extremely significant in the legends and for Dracula. “Likewise, many cultures fetishize blood as a symbol of life and prohibit its ingestion or use,” thus an undead being sucking the blood of the living is a taboo, it goes against the beliefs of society in the most extreme manner making the vampire the ultimate villain (Miller, 29). This folklore can be traced back even into Babylonian cuneiform poems (Miller, 29). The traditions are rich and diverse across multiple cultures even to the Hindu goddess, Kali (Miller, 33). Stoker’s taking of these cultural evils creates the ultimate villain in the good versus evil plot. Further, the blood element adds to the psychological and uncanny elements of gothic literature.

In addition to being dead and drinking blood, the vampire has other features that add to the feel of the gothic novel. From Harker’s Journal we can deduce that Dracula had fangs, pale skin, a cold body, bad breath, hairy palms, and sharp fingernails (Melton, 197-198). Another feature was that the vampire cast no reflection in a mirror (Melton, 199). Other traits were that Harker never saw the count eat or drink and the count seemed to dislike garlic and crosses made of mountain ash (Melton, 199). Additionally, when Dracula confronted the vampire women, his eyes “became red with the flames of hell behind them (Melton, 199).” Ironically, however, the one typically vampiric trait that we normally see with vampire characters, not being able to go out into the sun, is not adhered to strictly in Dracula. While we do see the count sleeping in a coffin during the day, he is also seen several times out in the daylight (Stoker, 214-216). One such place is where Mina and Jonathan saw the Count in London. “…half in terror, half in amazement, he gazed at a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl (215).” Jonathan reveals that the man is the count and was extremely distressed at the sighting (215-216).

Finally, we know that it is difficult to kill a vampire, and in Dracula Van Helsing and his troop killed Lucy with a stake, decapitated her, and put garlic in her mouth (presumably to keep her from coming back again) (Melton, 201). In future vampire writings these features have been mutated, but these same vampire characteristics are seen in some form repeatedly throughout the literary history. Even in the recently popular Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, although her vampires are very different than Dracula, they are still very difficult to kill, requiring decapitation and burning of all the vampire’s body parts (Meyers).

The gothic genre has grown since the time when Stoker wrote Dracula, and has evolved into what most people now call ‘horror.’ However, there is a difference in the two genres. Whereas horror is scary and may be full of the uncanny, it is also full of violence, blood, and gore. Gothic, on the other hand, is dark in nature and lends to the spooky or uncanny over violence. The scenes with blood and gore are limited and are included for the purpose of the story not vice versa. Thus the vampire has transgressed into horror, but Dracula is gothic and represents the classic traits associated with the gothic genre. Regardless of whether it is called horror or gothic, the vampire novel has been around for a long time, and will continue to keep readers engaged well into the future.dracula
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“Gothic.” The Cambridge Guide to Women’s Writing in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Credo Reference. Web. 28 May 2012.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book, The Encyclopedia of the Undead. Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1999. Print

Miller, Elizabeth, ed. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. New York: Pegasus Books, LLC, 2009. Print.

Meyer, Stephanie, Twilight (The Twilight Saga. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005. Print.

Stoker, Bram. The Essential Dracula, The Definitive Annotated Edition of Bram Stoker’s Classic Novel. Ed. Leonard Wolf. 1975. New York: Penguin Group, 1993. Print.

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REVIEW: Save My Soul

I just finished reading Save My Soul by K.S. Haigwood.  WARNING… there may be spoilers ahead…

http://www.amazon.com/Save-My-Soul-ebook/dp/B007LB76A8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1347746654&sr=1-1&keywords=save+my+soul

This is a story of one woman’s struggle to save her own soul by saving someone else’s soul. That someone happens to be her soulmate, but she doesn’t know that yet.  The action starts right away when Kendra makes a deal to save Adam’s soul, but she was tricked. If she doesn’t succeed, she loses her own soul.  Wow… throw in a guardian angel to help and a guardian demon to mess it all up and you have a thrilling, hot roller coaster romance.   The only thing that was difficult at all was that this Kendra seemed to have multiple men falling at her feet. While that seemed a bit far-fetched, it wasn’t impossible and also the rest of the plot wouldn’t have worked without it.  It wasn’t too hard to swallow, and not everyone in the story was on her side, so it was good.  The characters were interesting and each one’s personality came through. It was well written and once I got into the zone, I didn’t stop reading until my kindle died!

It was worth the read.

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Beta-reading Bliss!

Here’s part 2 of Facebook Lives… I just finished beta-reading a novel by another one of the Authors Critique Group writers. He is also in the process of beta-reading my novel, Summer Blood. I can’t wait for the feedback! In the meantime, I thought I should write a bit about his story.

It was an inventive look at wizards called Foundling Wizard. The first in a 3 part series, I believe. The author is James Eggebeen. James is a software designer from San Diego, California who has turned to designing books.

Foundling Wizard, to be released soon, is about a young wizard’s journey and how he learns and grows. He not only learns to use his powers, but also learns about life and responsibility. The journey is exciting and fraught with danger. The wizard comes to know himself and others in his journey, and yes, he has a mentor, a snarky old wizard that doesn’t always tell him everything he needs to know.

I also got a sneak-peek at the book cover which is startlingly beautiful. With the great cover and fresh writing, Foundling Wizard stands to be a success, so keep your eyes out for it!

For more on Foundling Wizard: http://www.jameseggebeen.com/

Follow James Eggebeen at:  @JamesEggebeen

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My characters are hi-jacking my brain!

I just finished editing my first novel, Summer Blood, and I’m discovering that the characters are not finished with me!  I can’t stop thinking about them. When I drive to work in the morning, they start having conversations and doing things… I think that means I need a sequel… hmm.

It is an odd sensation. I thought I would be starting a new project by now, but I can’t let these guys go yet. Their story isn’t finished.

Summer Blood is about two wicked and powerful vampires that find love and their humanity when they kidnap a strangely attractive human – until their makers step in and change everything!

Gwinafel O’Dale is a sexy, flirty, and very tough vampire. She kicks ass or kisses it on her own whim.  She meets Tobia. He’s the broody dark one that hates himself.  Their relationship causes them to grow up a bit. She finds she can make a commitment past a few hours and he learns he doesn’t have to cast a gloomy shadow over everything in his life. Then they meet Matthew.

Matthew is an enigma. Gwinafel is drawn to him in a supernatural way… 

That’s all I get to tell you!!  I hate spoilers! But, I hope you’ll be interested in finding out more about these characters from the Desolate Incubus series. Summer Blood will be the 2nd installment.  I’m going to release Blood Pact, The Desolate Incubus Histories first.  

I had to cut a lot of juicy material out of Summer Blood, and it will end up in Blood Pact.  Yes, I do mean juicy!

So, I’m excited about these characters!  I hope others will be too… and I hope I can write enough about them so they’ll get out of my head.

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Crimson Wind is Red Hot!

Finally! I got to read Crimson Wind! It has been on my read list since before the publication date even came up. The first book in this Horngate Witches series, Bitter Night, grabbed my attention and made me fall in love with Max, the bad-ass Shadowblade. So, when Crimson Wind hit the shelves, I wanted to read it immediately, but alas, things get in the way, and I have not had the opportunity to move it to the top of the list. Until now.

So, did the sequel live up to the first installment? HELL YEAH! It is one of the few books that I read non-stop, straight-through. I loved every page. Except the last one. I did not want the story to end. I won’t tell you why except that the third book, Shadow City, will be out this December, and I don’t think I will wait nearly as long to move it up on my list.

So, for those of you have not read Bitter Night and Crimson Wind, you are really missing out on a great series. The witch is a dark and complex creature intent on doing bad things for good reasons. One of those things is creating Max, her Prime Shadowblade. Max is a kick-ass powerful magic-made creature of the night. Sunshine will kill her, but not likely much more than that. The Shadowblades have their counterparts, Sunspears, that do the Shadowblade job during the day. These two work together in shifts (obviously) to protect the witch and her coven.  What they need to protect the coven from gets bigger and bigger (and badder) as the series moves along!

Got that? Good, because that’s all I’m saying. Anything else would be a spoiler, and I don’t do spoilers. So, read this one!

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What the heck am I doing?

I’m still so new at writing that I often wonder if I’m doing this right. There is so much more to writing than just telling a story. Of course telling the story is the most important part. Without that, I wouldn’t really be doing any of this… so, what am I doing exactly? Well, I’m writing, promoting, and learning about the craft of writing.

The first part, like I said, is writing, telling the story. I’m getting better at that, but I still don’t have a novel published. I have two written, but both are in the editing stages and are not ready yet to be published.  It takes a lot to get a story from the first inkling of a tale to a published novel.

First, you have to think about it for a long time and work it out in your head. Then, you have to start writing things down, and that isn’t even the story yet. You have to write out character sketches, outlines, research notes, and more… I suppose these things are not always necessary, but I don’t know how to write a novel without doing this. I keep a notebook on my stories and jot down ideas, plot lines, and other details constantly.

Then, I start getting serious about a chapter outline. The chapter outline keeps me going and keeps my plot on track. It is not permanent, however. I’ve learned that the best stories have characters that take on a life of their own, and when that happens they change the plot. So, I change my outline. But, the outline helps keep things from getting too far off the original track.

Once I have a pretty good start on a chapter outline, I’ll start detailing the chapters. I start with a loose outline and just start adding more and more details. This is the most flexible part. I don’t put any rules on it. Whatever I think or feel I write, keeping it free and easy. This is where the real creativity comes out, and this is what is turned into the novel.

After the novel is finished, what am I going to do with it?  I’m really interested in self publishing and being and indie (or independent author), but I still don’t think I know enough about it.  I’m learning. A lot of what I’m learning has been found on Twitter. I follow a lot of other indie-authors and resources for indies like the following:

 @WoMensLitCafe 

Indie_Kindle

Indie_Kindle

@IndieKindle

 @IndieBookIBC

@AuthorNetwork

and others…

They help.  I also like following book bloggers that do book reviews and other bloggers that help indie-authors promote their work.  Some are:

@PattiRoberts7

@Tynga

@piercebooks

and many others… too many to mention them all.  The point is there are so many people out there willing to help. It is a network of people helping people and returning that help.  I’ve been very surprised to see so much support and such a robust community. So, I’m learning a lot! Thanks all!!

So, now I’m editing my novel and soon will be publishing, and in doing so, I’m sure I’ll learn even more!! And, somewhere along the lines, hopefully, I will figure out what I’m doing!!

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Hot Vikings and Independent Women

Let me start this blog by saying that I do NOT read romance novels, and particularly NOT historical romance novels. (My MOM reads historical romance.) Although, I did love Wuthering Heights in High School, but that’s a secret, and so is Loki’s Daughters by Delle Jacobs.

http://www.amazon.com/Lokis-Daughters-ebook/dp/B0033WSKA4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1320806449&sr=8-1

I do really like romance books that have some kind of paranormal twist, but Loki’s Daughters does not fit in that category.  It is about hot Vikings that invade Celtic land wanting to find a home of their own and, oh yeah, wives!  The main character Arienh is a strong independent woman and she is not about to let these invaders push her around. She never gives up, even if it costs her what she most desires.

Even though there were no demons, aliens, vampires, or other paranormal activity (except potentially one ghost scene), I really enjoyed this novel. It was not overwhelmingly stuffed with sex, but sex was used where it belonged within the story. Oh yeah, and some of it was really funny!  I always think that historical romance is going to be all sex and frail women being swept off their feet and probably ravaged on the moors of Scotland or something, but Loki’s Daughters did not fit that mold at all.  Well, there were hot Vikings ready to sweep women off their feet, but the women were having none of that! It made for a brilliant story.  And, you just can’t go wrong with HOT Vikings!

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Death’s Hand – 5 stars!

Death’s Hand by SM Reine is packed full of action! I highly recommend it:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005WZKJN6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=smre03-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=B005WZKJN6

I’ve read previous books by this author such as Six Moon Summer and All Hallows Moon.  I have a review of Six Moon Summer on my website:

http://sjordanasble.com/Books__Reviews___Links.html

Her previous books were really good, and Death’s Hand promised to be as well. The writing is impecable and the author’s style is easy to read. This is a very talented author and her new book Death’s Hand only proves it further! 

If you like hot chicks kicking ass then you are in for a treat. Reine tells a complete story in Death’s Hand while dropping hints of things to come. She doesn’t answer all the question and leaves possibilities out there. The heroine saves the day, but does she get to walk away with everything?

Her characters are compelling and interesting. You find yourself rooting for them as they push through the conflicts of the story line. Speaking of story line, WOW! This plot line is solid and interesting.  Take one ex-exoricist, one hunky witch of a partner, and a loyal best friend, then throw in the best friend’s hunky cousin and a couple of corpse-raising necromancers and see what you get… spicy, deadly fun! 

For more on SMReine: http://www.smreine.com/

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I have sales!! Woot!

Woot! It really isn’t much, but the fact that I have sales is really exciting! It means that there are a few people out there that actually purchased my writing for the first time ever AND it is more than just my family! 

In this new journey to become a real author, I published a book of seven short stories called, Stories to Fight Demons By. These are twisted/surreal stories about different kinds of demons; perfect for Halloween! You can purchase this on Amazon or B&N.  I’ll include the links here:

http://www.amazon.com/Stories-Fight-Demons-ebook/dp/B004RH3T46/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1319329943&sr=8-1

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stories-to-fight-demons-by-sherri-jordan-asble/1030426408?ean=2940012183842&itm=1&usri=sherri%2bjordan-asble

I hope those that purchased the book liked it. I don’t have any reviews on Amazon or B&N yet, but I’m hoping I’ll get one. So, if you purchased the book and are reading this… hint, hint!

I also have a teaser for my first novel posted on my website and a plug for it in the back of  Stories. Website:

http://sjordanasble.com/Page_2.html

So, this is truly another awesome step forward in my writing journey. I hope that others will celebrate with me – go ahead, raise your hand in the air and give me a “Woot!”

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