Friday Book Round-Up: Charms of the Feykin by @CYallowitz #FridayReads #Fantasy #POTLReads

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POTL: All Things Books, Reading and Publishing

For this week’s Friday Book Round-Up, I’ve decided to spotlight one of my favorite fantasy books this year. I highly recommend the whole series but each book can read as a standalone.


Title: Charms of the Feykin (Legends of Windemere #11)

Author: Charles Yallowitz

Genre: Epic Fantasy



To make a champion fall, one must wound their very soul.

Nyx is leading the charge to rescue Delvin and Sari, who have gone missing in the southern jungles of Windemere. Battling through the local predators, the champions are surprised when they reunite in the Feykin city of Rhundar. Instead of captives, the missing heroes have become the city’s rulers and are on the verge of starting a war with those that want to exterminate their new followers. Even with such a noble cause, Delvin and Sari have changed into brutal warlords that may kill each other and their friends…

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Raven’s Game Part 27 #horror #Halloween #thriller

Thornewood Castle

Thornewood Castle

“What’s happening, Max? Are you still there?” Gemma asks in a panic. Sitting at the bar, she pushes her drink away and heads for a corner table to avoid the curious stares of those around her. “It sounds like a tornado over there. Did something shatter? Come on, old man, and talk to me.”

With an old-fashioned click, the phone turns off and begins rapidly pinging as twenty photos arrive. Gemma cycles through the pictures that are mostly of a hazy figure standing amid a storm of blurred papers. One shows her the dress and tuxedo, which she thinks are hanging from a rack until she zooms in to their necklines. The clothing is hovering off the ground, each one having an arm around the waist of the other. Feeling sick and anxious, the pale detective swipes to the final picture. She nearly crushes the phone when she sees Max’s body in a pool of his own blood, a narrow slit across his neck. A serene smile is on his face, but the image remains agonizing to his partner.

“This is my fault,” Gemma whispers as her quivering hand puts the phone down. Grazing the screen, she moves to a picture with Dawn’s name and the string of numbers. “If I hadn’t kept pushing this case then you would still be alive. I should have stopped when things got weird or done the investigation myself. Probably can’t even call the precinct or your family to let them know without causing more trouble. The worst part is I’ve seen so much death and insanity lately that I can’t bring myself to cry. All I can think of doing is putting an end to this, but I don’t even know where to start. What did you find that got you killed?”

Scrolling through the pages, Gemma zooms in on the drawings to see if they have any common theme. She feels ridiculous analyzing the scribbles of a child, especially since they tell her nothing more than Corvus has been with Dawn for decades. It is not until she comes back to the notes and switches from one to the other. Squinting at the screen, she enlarges part of it to find that Max missed some pieces of the missing information. Gemma tries every filter she can find in the simple photo program until she catches a ghost of two letters. Seeing the ‘D’ and ‘O’ makes her take a shuddering breath and believe that her partner died getting her the last piece of information she needed to face her enemy. Staring at the image, she still struggles to come up with a theory that would explain everything.

“Date of birth for Dawn is 1980 and it’s 1981 for Corvus,” Gemma says, noticing that a waiter is bringing her a free drink. She turns off the phone to prevent the man from spying on her and pretends to take a sip of the rum. “What is so important about Dawn being older than her husband? It’s only by a year too. Not like she would be the first woman to marry a younger man. This has to mean something else.”

With a giggling ringtone, Gemma’s phone goes off and she looks to see that Dawn is trying to call her. Not wanting to lose her train of thought, she ignores the call and closes her eyes to concentrate. The first thing she imagines is Max dying on the floor, so snaps out of what was the beginning of a trance. Confused on how her mind drifted away so quickly, Gemma is about to stand when her phone goes off with a loud barking noise. Muttering a curse, she turns the device off and tries to figure out where she can go for privacy. There appears to be a lot more people in the hotel and she wonders if people have been drawn to the location because of all the murders and disappearances. For a moment, the detective considers that such an outcome was Dawn’s goal the entire time. Remembering how much the woman loves her game of murder, Gemma has her doubts about this being about money.

When the phone goes off a third time, the noise is a raging scream that sends a crack through the back of the protective case. Gemma jumps at the thrashing in her back pocket and struggles to get the device free. The machine is hot to the touch and threatens to melt her skin, but it cools once she answers. A calm sigh drifts from the other end of the phone and mixes with the rumble of distant thunder.

“I’m so sorry to hear about your partner,” Dawn says, pausing to let the sound of clinking glasses carry over the phone. She blows a kiss that leaves a faint spot of wetness on the red-haired woman’s cheek. “Anyway, now we have nobody else to get in our way. He made the mistake of talking to my mother and getting her opinion on me. Thought she would only mumble incoherently and not send him to a place that people should stay away from. Now about my next riddle.”

“Save your breath and leave me to do my job,” Gemma angrily snaps. She is about to hang up the phone, but her temper and stress gets the best of her. “You know what? To hell with your psychotic game. I’m coming up there right now, Dawn. Either I’m going to arrest you or shoot you in the head. My mood and interest in keeping my job will determine your fate. No amount of crazy crap is going to get in my way unless you strike me dead here. Then that ends even the remote chance of your sick fun continuing. So get your affairs in order and kiss that imaginary husband of yours good-bye.”

A growing light gives Gemma enough of a warning to toss the phone away, the device exploding and scaring everyone in the lobby. With a terrifying screech, the angel statue’s wings spin and the body gradually melts into molten metal. Several people standing too close are scalded and their screams cause people to rush the doors. All of the exits are locked and those who grab the handles for too are electrocuted. The shock is not enough to kill them, but they collapse in a twitching heap that makes escaping more difficult. Another chorus of shouting erupts from outside where the pool is boiling enough to fill the area in choking steam. Those unable to get out of the water fast enough are cooked, their bodies floating on the surface like disturbing buoys. Fear and panic is setting in as the guests swarm the stairs and elevators in the hopes of finding an upper window to jump from. Explosions from the restaurant sends food flying into the lobby while those in the bar are left to drown in a rising flood of alcohol. Through it all, the employees continue to do their jobs as if people are not dying around them.

Sprinting toward Dawn’s private elevator, Gemma is unnerved by how easy it is for her to get through the crowd. The doors open as she comes around the front desk, but a desperate couple rush on before the detective can get there. With a loud snap, the cables give way and the lift plummets into the depths of the building. Gemma can hear the guests’ screams echoing throughout the dark shaft as she comes to the edge. A ladder is on the far wall and she can see that her badge is hanging from one of the rungs. Taking the invitation, she leaps over the pit and begins the long climb toward her enemy.

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It’s Lisa Burton, on Lisa Burton Radio #RRBC

Check out Lisa on her radio show. Always looking for new and exciting guests.

Entertaining Stories

Welcome to another edition of Lisa Burton Radio, the show where we talk to the characters that bring the stories to life. I’m your host, Lisa the robot girl, and I find myself without a guest again.

Several of you sent in emails that you thought a show where I talk about myself would be a good idea. It’s not the normal kind of show, but I’m going to go with it for this week. In fact, I have an idea involving your emails, and I’ll talk about it toward the end of the show.

I have a bunch of interviews lined up, but you know how authors are, they want to time them for the book release, or a big promotion they have coming up. I don’t blame them, I was in a story or two myself. I’m always looking for characters to interview, so don’t be afraid to…

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Raven’s Game Part 26 #horror #Halloween #thriller


Ravens sit in the leafless, solitary tree as Max approaches the abandoned house. The collapsed side is nothing more than rotted wood and crumbled stone. Pieces of rusty appliances are scattered about the wreckage, which is swarming with insects. Shards of glass are around the edge of the area, several of the pieces stabbed into the earth like daggers. A trio of mice scurry out from under the wood and race to the nearest bush before a hungry raven can catch them. Only two make it to safety while the third is snatched off the ground by a bird that is faster than Max’s eyes can follow. The standing part of the house is protected on the damaged side by a tarp that remains still even when the wind blows. Cracked paint and rotted shingles show the building’s age and lack of maintenance. Webs cover the windows that are barely held in place by frames that are soft enough to push a finger into. Two bricks can be seen on the roof, the final parts of a chimney that is now collapsed and covered by dirt.

To Max’s amazement, the front door does not fall off its rusty hinges and he simply steps through the entrance. An electric buzz runs throughout his body, reminding him of the time he got a mild shock from changing a light bulb. Creaking can be heard from every room, but there are thuds upstairs that make him think animals are upstairs. The few furnishings left behind reek of mildew and urine, which Max assumes are from cats like the dead one he sees in a nearby fireplace. Pictures line the walls, but all of them are empty and broken, the glass shattered in identical patterns. Grabbing his phone, he sends a quick text to Gemma along with a photo of everything he sees.

“I’d call, but I don’t want to lose power again,” Max mutters while he jams a piece of wood under the door. He tests the stairs that were cut in half by the collapse, the wood giving an inch when he puts his full weight on it. “Even in daylight this place is creepy. Again, I wish I was in your shoes, Cook, because a fancy hotel beats this every day. Even if you’re the guest of a psychopath.”

Seeing nothing of interest downstairs, Max carefully climbs to the top floor. The stairs creak and crack beneath his feet, threatening to fall away. He glances over the edge to see that he would plunge into a collection of jagged wood, so he walks as carefully as possible. By the time he reaches stable ground, the detective is sweating and gasping for breath. Pushing the first door open, he finds a bathroom with a sunken floor that is flooded with rain water. Croaking frogs jump around the foul-smelling pools, their tadpoles giving the illusion of shifting darkness beneath the surface. Taking a picture and moving on, Max searches a closet full of decaying towels and old cleaning supplies. The remains of a photo album is in the back, but the only thing that has survived intact is a picture of Dawn as a newborn.

“One more door,” Max whispers, noticing that there is light coming from inside. He gently opens the door and stands in awe within the doorway. “What the hell?”

The spotless room of a small child is meticulously laid out, complete with colorful curtains that billow regardless of the lack of a breeze. Crayon drawings cover the walls, which are wood panels that gleam with fresh polish and are found nowhere else in the house. Taking pictures as he goes, Max finds clean clothes in the drawers and fresh school supplies in the desk. A hat rack in the corner shows markings similar to those one would see on a wall when measuring the height of a growing child. Tiny glass figurines of unicorns and ravens are along the two windowsills, the animals put into pairs that look outside.

Looking under the perfectly made bed, Max finds several boxes that are filled with toys that are mostly naked dolls. When he takes a picture, the flash reveals a hole in the floor that is big enough for him to hook the plank with his finger. He pulls out a long, cardboard box that is covered in birthday wrapping paper and adorned with a black bow. Drawing a pocketknife, the detective carefully opens the old present and pulls out a full-sized wedding dress and tuxedo. The clothes are still in pristine condition, so he lays them on the bed. Turning them over, he finds one has a post-it with Dawn’s name on it and the other has a similar note for Corvus. Squinting at the faded papers, he can barely make out that was once something else written on them. Reaching into the plastic coverings, Max pulls them out and finds a pencil to help reveal the lost information.

“For the love of god!” he shouts when his phone goes off. Seeing that it is Gemma, he answers and puts the device on speakerphone. “Hope you’re enjoying all these pictures. I talked to Kate Addison who considers her daughter a monster. Not evil human, but a genuine creature of darkness. Seems she tried to abort the baby three times and failed. I’ve no idea what to make of any of her ramblings since you’d think she was talking about ghosts or whatever this would count as. Oh, and the husband is an imaginary friend named Corvus. His name is on a bunch of the drawings and this tuxedo I found. Trying to find out what the faded scribbles are. Any news on your end?”

“I’m just tired, old man,” Gemma replies with a yawn. He can hear her putting ice into an empty glass and hopes she is not drinking before lunch. “I’ve no idea how to explain what happened last night, but maybe her mother is right. What if we’re doing with something that isn’t human?”

“Then we catch her and let a jury figure out the next step,” Max replies in a half-hearted attempt at humor. He scowls at what he sees on the papers, unsure of their meaning due to the messy handwriting. “The note for Dawn has a ‘B’ followed by one nine eight zero. The one for Corvus has a ‘B’ followed by one nine eight one. These mean anything to you? I’ll send you a picture in case the way they’re written is important.”

“I’ll look them over at breakfast.”

“Probably going to bring these clothes to the precinct.”

“Just be-”

The phone is cut off by static that turns into a screeching wail that rattles the windows and door. When the device sputters and jumps to the floor, Max leaves it behind and goes to gather the clothes into his arms. To his surprise, the empty sleeves whip at him and create burning welts with their buttons. Backing away, he is knocked into the wall when one of the windows explodes outwards by a powerful gust of wind. The ravens can be heard cawing as they circle the building and wait for the chaos to end. Another gale comes out of the hallway and whips around the room to remove all of the pictures from the walls. Churning and howling, the pages become a condensed twister that the detective can barely see his way through.

“This is-”, Max starts to say before his throat is slit by one of the flying papers. Holding his hand to the gushing wound, he collapses near his phone that has stopped screeching. Unable to respond to Gemma’s shouting beyond wet gurgles, he opens a photo of his family and stares at it until his eyes close.

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Writing Partners: How @RuthACasie Became a Best-Seller #amwriting #POTLReads

POTL: All Things Books, Reading and Publishing


While writing is a singular thing, input and brainstorming with like-minded spirits is not only enjoyable but mind expanding. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across a plot issue that I couldn’t see my way through. At times, it takes an objective viewpoint, someone who isn’t tied to the story or characters to get me out of the weeds and into ‘the light.’

I have three close writing friends that have become my writing partners. We eagerly read each other’s manuscripts, brainstormed when we wrote ourselves into a corner and talked each other off the ledge when we wanted to give up and burn the pages. We are a strong but mighty group. Each of us focused on a different sub-genre. This isn’t usually the way a critique forms, but remember, we were friends first. For our group, each author brought a different strength ranging from conflict…

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Raven’s Game Part 25 #horror #Halloween #thriller

Winchester Mystery House

Winchester Mystery House

“Are you sure this is okay, ma’am?” Max asks as he is led down the sterile hallway. He sees other patients resting in their rooms or the common areas, all of them wearing the same white gown. “I know you treat sensitive cases here, so I fully understand if you want me to come back another time. Honestly, I’m not exactly thrilled that my boss is pushing this. Give him a day and he’ll probably change his mind.”

“That may be true, but he was very adamant about the situation,” the nurse replies with a calming smile. Stopping at a locked room, she fumbles with her keys while someone on the other side taps at the frosted glass. “Kate comes and goes, so she might be better and home by the end of the day. It’s been like this for about ten years. Nobody ever comes to visit, so maybe you will cheer her up.”

“That would be the highlight of my week,” the detective mutters while they wait for the tapping to stop. The noise shifts to a banging rhythm that Max recognizes as a popular lullaby from nearly forty years ago. “Not sure if you’ve lived in the area for a while, but do you know anything about her daughter? She’s a person of interest and we’re trying to find information about her past to help with a case.”

The nurse turns a little pale, her hand gripping the key instead of turning it. “Lived in Riverhead all my life and I went to school with Dawn. She was quiet and didn’t have many friends. I’d like to say she was normal, but people didn’t really go near her. We always saw her talking to herself and the world felt creepy when she was around. Beyond that, I couldn’t tell you anything about her.”

“Thanks. Figured it was worth asking.”

“If it helps, Kate has been very calm and talkative this morning.”

“Hope she stays that way.”

The woman inside hurries to her bed as the door opens, her eyes wide when Max walks into the room. Kate Addison’s brown hair is a tangled mess that rolls down to her waist and is has crayons stuck in many of the knots. Her white gown has been colored with child-like pictures, most of which are people and birds. She does her best to smile, but the corners of her lips repeatedly threaten to turn it into a frown. In contrast to her disheveled clothes and hair, Kate’s nails are beautifully done in red and orange. She puts her back against the wall and folds her legs, her hands gently tapping rhythmically on her knees.

Max takes note of the bandages around her wrists while he claims the only chair in the room. He gulps down a lump in his throat as the nurse leaves the door open and moves far enough away that she can only hear loud voices. Pulling out his phone, the detective prepares to record their conversation, but is surprised to see that it is out of power. Max realizes that it is for the best since Kate is staring at the device like it is a gun aimed at her head. He puts it away and rubs his eyes while clearing his mind in the hopes of remembering everything that the woman tells him.

“I am detective Max Boros and I’m investigating a case where your daughter is a prime suspect,” he explains, watching Kate’s face for reactions. A spark of fear is in her dilated eyes, but it is quickly replaced by anger. “We are looking into her past for signs of a pattern or an explanation for what is going on. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, but we could really use some help getting insight. Your daughter is very guarded, so I’m sorry to say that you might be our only source of information. Sorry for the rambling, but I’m trying to figure out the best approach for this. I don’t want to upset you, ma’am.”

“It also sounds like you don’t want to be here, Mr. Boros,” the woman says with a sudden smirk. Drawing a green crayon from her hair, she lazily reaches out to draw on the wall. “I haven’t heard from my daughter since she moved out of the house. Not unless you count unsigned Mother’s Day cards. Can you tell me what she’s suspected of?”

The detective scratches his chin as he considers sharing that information, but senses that she already knows the answer. “Several murders and disappearances that took place in her hotel. We don’t know if she did them herself, hired somebody, or if this mysterious husband is behind the whole thing. Right now, she’s our top suspect because whenever we catch a killer, the incidents keep coming.”

With a chuckle, Kate gets off the bed and goes to the desk, which she climbs on top of to see through a high window. She can see a river surrounded by reeds and picks out the spot that she once took her daughter to feed some ducks. The birds can be seen outside as rain begins to trickle down, leaving trails along the glass. For a terrifying moment, the woman swears she sees Dawn standing on the water, but the vision disappears after a few blinks. Returning to the bed, she lies down with her feet on the pillow and her eyes locked on the ceiling.

“I never wanted the child. We were too young and he was just starting to move up in his career,” Kate explains as she scratches at her bandages. She ignores the sense of being watched, which is a feeling that has persisted for years even with proper medication. “Thought we used all the protection we could, but it still happened. Tried to abort her, but Dawn remained strong. I even lied and paid money to get two more attempts with the same result. Drank heavily, started smoking, and did whatever I could outside of having my optimistic husband beat me. He kept talking about making it work and he got his way when the baby arrived. Even when she was a few hours old, I knew she was wrong. Something in her cries made my stomach twist.”

“I’m not sure this information is relevant,” Max blurts out, unnerved by the rising venom in the woman’s voice. His mouth goes dry when she glares at him and he reaches up to push his glasses back up. “My apologies. All I mean is that I don’t see how this would influence your daughter due to her age at the time. We did learn that you raised her instead of putting her up for adoption.”

“My husband stopped me and look where that got him. Dawn and her imaginary friend collapsed a house because he sent her to bed without dessert,” the woman says, turning to stare wide-eyed at the detective. Taking two crayons out of her tresses, she makes matching spirals that eventually become a tangled mess. “That’s when I knew I was trapped with her until she decided to leave. Had to do homeschooling after a kid she claimed was bullying her in first grade went missing. She told me Corvus did it to prove a point. That’s her imaginary husband who comes and goes depending on her mood. Anyway, I knew it could get me in trouble if she was allowed in public. Dawn eventually wore me down by the age of thirteen and I was on some powerful meds that made me forget what kind of creature I brought into this world. Two if you count Corvus, but I usually don’t bother with that ghost.”

“So is your daughter the devil or something?”

“I wish. The devil would be a blessing compared to Dawn.”

“Think I’ve heard all I need to hear.”

“If you don’t believe me then go to our old home. A lot of stuff is still there because nobody dares to go inside.”

“Thanks. I hope you get better and can leave here soon.”

Kate breaks into maniacal laughter, which draws the nurses into the room with syringes to calm her down. Max hurries into the hallway as the woman snatches one of the needles and jams it into her own neck. Her eyes flutter from the medication, but she does not fall. Moving faster than anyone expected, Kate wrestles away two more of the syringes and plunges them into her temples. Twitching and gurgling, she collapses onto the bed where the workers fight to keep her alive.

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Last scoop of Macabre Macaroni this year

The final Macabre Macaroni of 2016.

Entertaining Stories

The Zombie Fighters

We stood back to back in the old basement. Joey held his sword off to his left, and I held mine up with the blade in front of my face. We made a deadly team, but the zombie horde upstairs would be the biggest one we’d ever faced.

Joey turned his San Diego Padres cap around backwards. “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.” I rushed the stairway with Joey at my heels.

The zombies almost looked surprised. I probably imagined it, because they don’t have any emotions or feelings. They’d already eaten half the families in town, and I recognized a few of them as having been local people. I stepped into the shell of the burned out house and made sure to move far enough that Joey could support me.

I lowered my sword and thrust through the face of the first one, making sure to slice…

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