Friday, November 30, 2012

Interview with Melissa Lummis

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series or a stand-alone novel?
Enlightened is a paranormal romance that mixes witches, vampires and mystical healers with our modern world.  It’s like a parallel universe just a smidge to our left.  Loti Dupree has lost her husband to lung cancer and is floundering about trying to get her life back on track when this broody, motorcycle-riding vampire shows up and the attraction is nothing short of … mystical.   It is the first in the Love and Light Series, with two more books coming out next year.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers or are you going the indie route?
Indie all the way.  In this day and age, why wait?  If you’re any good, agents and publishers will find you.

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
Yes, and YES!  My critique buddies have helped me so much.  With this being my debut novel, I was very concerned with getting the page-turner element into the story – you know, the flow that makes it almost impossible for the reader to put it down.  I learned a lot about how to keep that flow going from my crit group.  They are my writing-lifeline.

What is your writing process? Do you like it quiet or prefer to have music playing?
I barrel through the rough draft as fast as possible, getting down the bones. Once I get my groove on, it takes over.  I have to remind myself to stop to eat and oh, yeah, sleep.   When it’s done, I put it aside for a few days and put it out of my mind.  When I come back to it, I like to look for the glitches, the missing elements, the dropped strands and restructure if I need to.  Then I flesh it out, so to speak.  I prefer music, for the most part.  I spend time picking out mood music. I actually have generic playlists for fight scenes, chases, and um, *whispers* sex scenes.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Both, actually.  I will start with the basic premise, characters and a general direction.   Then I start writing and see where it takes me.  I usually get to a point where I need to stop and outline a wee bit.  I am finding outlining especially helpful with this next book in the series, Samskaras. Things are getting intricate and there are subplots and intrigue to carefully weave.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Absolutely!  I can’t imagine not hiring an editor.  We all need an objective eye to analysis the content and help us to kill our darlings.  I also hired a separate proofreader.

Have you found it difficult to find time to write while juggling work, family commitments?
Yes, yes, yes and did I say YES!  My husband has accused me of being obsessive when I am full-tilt writing, when I’m marketing and when I’m networking.  I can put in 16 hours in a day and still be tweeting when I climb into bed. My 8 year-old will often stop by my writing desk and ask for the random hug – we negotiated this deal.  He was constantly interrupting me with unnecessary questions because he wanted my attention.  It was driving me bonkers.   So, I sat him down and asked what it was he really wanted. In his darling, little boy voice he said, “You, momma.”  *sniff*

What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
Wow! So much.  I have learned to schedule my time, even meals.  If I don’t, it is way too easy to go down the networking rabbit-hole and get lost.  I have read tons of articles on the subject, but the best resource? Your writing friends. We all learn something new every day and share it with each other. Like the other day, a fellow author had a short-story rejected by Amazon because she had already posted most of it for free on her website.  The self-publishing world is so brand-spanking new that it hasn’t settled down into something 100% predictable. That’s why your writing groups and other indie related networks are so vital.  I have also learned to pace myself, ask questions and never give up.  Oh, and the most important lesson: take breaks.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. Smashwords, which distributes to Kobo and iBooks.  I will have it available on Barnes and Noble, shortly.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Ahahahahaha!  Yes!  I laugh because this is exactly what I’m struggling with right at this moment. Here I am, doing this very pleasant interview, and my mind is working the story I also need to be writing. It’s like having a split personality, I would think, or at least being schizophrenic.  There is a whole other world revolving in one part of my brain while I’m trying to focus on these interview questions and be my witty, amusing self, all at the same time.  It’s a wonder I don’t space out *SQUIRREL* once in a while.


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Book Tour Blast: REDEMPTION by Rosa Lee Jude

Redemption (Legends of Graham Mansion)

Be careful what you wish for. When the breakup of her family forces Grae White’s mother to move her two children from their privileged city life to her hometown in the mountains of Virginia, all Grae wants is to be invisible in her new life. But that’s rather hard when everyone knows that her father is the latest headline-grabbing white collar criminal, the most popular boy in school wants to take Grae to the prom, and then there’s that she lives in a haunted mansion. It would make anyone want to get away.

Grae soon learns that a simple wish can reveal an unknown ability. Something more than curiosity spirals Grae back in time to seek the truth in the tragedy of a 200 -year-old murder. Along the way, she learns about history, happiness, and heartache in the lives of those who have lived on the property, including her own family. Her first journey reveals secrets that will lead Grae to further explore the legends of Graham Mansion.

REDEMPTION is Book One in the Legends of Graham Mansion series. Look for the second story in the series, AMBITION, in spring 2013.

Purchase on Kindle / Paperback / Smashwords

Follow on Facebook / Goodreads / Friend on Facebook - Rosa - Marilyn

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Simon & Schuster Joins Forces With Author Solutions To Rip Off Writers

by David Gaughran

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.

We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers).

Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999.

While the upper end of the pricing spectrum is obviously shocking, some of you might think that $1,999 isn’t too bad if you are getting a proper edit and a decent cover.

Not so fast.

That price tag doesn’t include any real editing, just an assessment which – according to their own website – is “not a replacement” for editorial services but “a preliminary diagnostic tool.”

But what if you need proper editing? Fear not! Simon & Schuster is here to help. For just $0.035 a word, you can have a thorough edit of your book. Which sounds cheap until you realize that a standard 80,000 word novel would cost you $2,800. So, in actual fact, the cheapest package, plus their edit, will set you back $4,799 for a standard length book.

As if that wasn’t enough, Simon & Schuster will also take half of your e-book royalties – after Amazon and the other retailers take their cut – and pay pennies for print sales.

Not looking so reasonable anymore, is it.

“But wait!” I hear you cry. “Those Simon & Schuster editors might be pretty damn good.” Alas, Simon & Schuster won’t be lending any editorial expertise to this new operation; it will be run and staffed by… Author Solutions – the world famous repository of editorial talent.

In fact, the whole operation has been outsourced by Simon & Schuster to Author Solutions. In case you aren’t familiar with them, let’s go over a little history.


Author Solutions is the umbrella for (and owner of) several seriously shady self-publishing service companies (or vanity presses, if you prefer) – such as AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford.

Each of these companies has managed to achieve disreputable status on their own, but together they have screwed over more than 150,000 writers. Going through the full history of their rip-off schemes would require a book, rather than a blog post, so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The formidable Emily Suess has been covering Author Solutions for some time:

The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breach of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Read the above list carefully. Take a moment to consider it. This is the company that Simon & Schuster has hired to run their self-publishing operation – a company which was purchased by Penguin in July for $116m.

If you are unfamiliar with the charges above, this post will give you a little more detail.


Author Solutions is the umbrella for (and owner of) several seriously shady self-publishing service companies (or vanity presses, if you prefer) – such as AuthorHouse, Xlibris, iUniverse, and Trafford.

Each of these companies has managed to achieve disreputable status on their own, but together they have screwed over more than 150,000 writers. Going through the full history of their rip-off schemes would require a book, rather than a blog post, so I’ll stick to the highlights.

The formidable Emily Suess has been covering Author Solutions for some time:

The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breach of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Read the above list carefully. Take a moment to consider it. This is the company that Simon & Schuster has hired to run their self-publishing operation – a company which was purchased by Penguin in July for $116m.

Here's the link to the full article. It's well worth the time to read this:

About the author:
David Gaughran is a 34-year old Irish writer, living in London, who spends most of his time travelling the world, collecting stories. He is the author of the South American historical adventure "A Storm Hits Valparaiso" and the short stories "If You Go Into The Woods" and "Transfection" as well as the popular self-publishing guide "Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Tour Blast: Chasing the Witch by Jessica Gibson


Chasing the Witch

After the events of Mark of the Witch, Jilly at last begins to breathe easier though her powers are still growing. But can she harness them in time to confront a new chain of events that threatens to change everything? Caroline has finally accepted her life as a witch, but when a stranger comes into her life she's forced to question her family loyalty. The sisters are thrown together to protect a young girl from the enemy determined to hunt her down. Can they save her -- and themselves?  

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Join the Chasing the Witch and Coveted Joint Release Event

Twitter Party December 4 RSVP HERE

Jessica Gibson is offering up a signed set of her books (US), an ebook set of her books (INT), and a $10 Amazon GC (INT).

 The Blast starts 11/28 and ends 12/16.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Stefan vs Damon: What Camp Are You In?


Stefan Salvatore: He’s the good vampire on the show, the compassionate one who believes that vampires should not feed on people. He prefers animal blood. He wasn’t always this way. As a matter of fact, he turned evil last season and became known once again as “The Ripper.” But never fear, he was only evil because Klaus had compelled him. Once Stefan was free of Klaus’ influence, he found his way back to his humanity and learned to control his bloodlust. He also has Elena’s love and that keeps him on the straight and narrow.

Damon Salvatore: On the surface, it seems that Damon is the bad brother, one who doesn’t care who he kills to feed upon, but there’s so much more to Damon than this. Granted, he does like fresh blood and he has killed many times on the show, but lately he’s been getting his blood from a blood bank. He’s also fallen in love with Elena and the sacrifices he makes on her behalf makes him even more appealing. Damon is a bad boy with a heart, but he doesn’t get the girl. Well, can’t complain too much about that. Damon gets all the best snarky dialogue and his smirks are priceless plus those blue eyes of his are stunning. I’m definitely in Damon’s camp. Love those bad boys!

In THE SILVER CROSS, the hero, Damon Harte, is a little of both brothers. He’s got Stefan’s compassion, but with a dangerous edge like Damon Salvatore. He does not suffer fools or vampires who upset the delicate balance he’s worked so hard to achieve in Boston. You’ll have to read the book to find out if he gets the girl. 

Buy at Amazon | BN | Kobo | Smashwords

So how about you? What camp are you in – Stefan or Damon?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Book Tour Blast: ENLIGHTENED by Melissa Lummis


Enlightened: A Tale of Love and Light

Loti Dupree fears that when her husband died, she lost her soul. Harboring a painful secret, she flees her life in a small Appalachian town for the ashram, the spiritual retreat where she trained to be a yogini. But she is running from more than grief. An ominous nightmare the night before she leaves sets her on a dangerous path of self-discovery that challenges everything she believes – and threatens her life.

While dodging psychic attacks from an unknown assailant, she struggles with her growing attraction to a broody, handsome and completely frustrating vampire. Loti races to understand who and what she is before her anonymous enemy catches up with her.

Loti thought she couldn't survive her husband’s death, but among healers, witches, and vampires, she discovers not only a future, but a family.  

About the Author Melissa Lummis considers herself a truth seeker, a peaceful warrior, a paranormal and fantasy writer, an avid reader, a thru-hiker GAàME ’98, a wife, a mother, and a free thinker. She believes the universe conspires to help an adventurer. And if we live our lives as if it is a daring adventure (and it is!), then everything we need will find its way to us. The author lives in rural Virginia with her husband, two children, an Alaskan Malamute and a myriad of forest creatures. The nature of her mind dictates that she write to stay sane. Otherwise, her fertile imagination takes off on tangents of its own accord, creating scenarios and worlds that confuse the space-time continuum. Namaste, dear friends.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

CYBER MONDAY: Free books from favorite authors!

Kick off your holiday shopping with FREE books!

This Cyber Monday, some of your favorite indie authors are offering FREE ebooks! Don't miss this chance to feed your new ereaders--or those you're giving as gifts!--with the best reading around.


PLUS, enter for a chance to win a GRAND PRIZE of signed paperbacks and swag from these talented authors!


Spread the news and download ALL the books below! Happy reading!


Signed paperback of GIVE ME, Pocket Mirror and Paperback of CUPID PAINTED BLIND, Paperback of UNNATURAL DISASTER, Signed Paperback of SPELL CHECKED, Signed Copy of FINDING ALICE, BEND-BITTEN-SHIFT Swag, Bracelet,
UNBOUND ebook, Signed paperback of RESTLESS, Bookmark from THE BOOK SWAG SHOP
Contest open 11/25-12/10/12 US/Canadian Residents Only, Must be 18 or over to enter

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Book Tour Blast: MORRIGAN by Laura DeLuca



Shuffled from place to place in the foster system, Morrigan doesn't know the meaning of home. Plus, she is different. She has power over fire, the ability to move objects with her mind, and glimpse into the future. Just when she believes her life can’t get any stranger, she discovers her true identity. Filtiarn, a knight with a dark past and a surprising secret, has been tasked with guiding the heir of Tír na NÓg through countless perils to be returned to her family. Once Morrigan has been reunited with her mother and grandmother, their triad can save the forgotten land of magic from being devoured by an ancient evil.  

Follow the author Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads Buy on Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Smashwords


Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. She loves writing in the young adult genre because it keeps her young at heart. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. Her current works include Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, Morrigan and Player.

Nov 23 Blast
Nov 26 and 
Nov 27 and
Nov 28 and 
Nov 29 and 
 Nov 30 and 

Morrigan Prize Pack Includes - Signed copy of the book, triquetra pendant, two boxes of incense, fairy ornament, Morrigan's enchantment bath salts, and three crystal points.

Open to US/Can residents Ends Dec 9.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's hoping everyone enjoys their day with family and friends. I'm so thankful for all the wonderful people in my life.

And, of course, can't wait to eat some turkey!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What kind of #VAMPIRE do you prefer?

Vampires seem to be all the rage these days. There have been many views of what constitutes vampire lore. Authors put their own creative spin on the legends to suit their storylines.

Our latest release, THE SILVER CROSS, puts another spin on vampires. In our story, silver is deadly to them. Lacey Gardner, our vampire hunter, and her team hunt the beasts with customized silver bullets. Damon Harte, the hunky bartender, wears a silver cross--it's his salvation and damnation all rolled into one. No spoilers here, pick up a copy to find out what happens when Lacey meets Damon. 

Buy at Amazon | BN | Kobo | Smashwords

Now let's talk about other creative spins author use. First, there’s the biggest vampire franchise of late created by Stephanie Meyers.

Twilight vampires: the most famous vampire in this group is Edward, the brooding vampire in love with the teenager Bella. With the outstanding success of the books and movies, this franchise has been one of the biggest money making ventures for vampires, maybe even the most successful one aimed at the young adult market. The Twilight vampires do not burn up in the sun, but instead “sparkle.”  This is an entirely new “spin” on vampire lore.

In the 1970’s author Anne Rice released her book, “Interview with a Vampire” featuring vampires Lestat , Louis and 12-year-old Claudia. The book was adapted to film in 1994. It’s their story as told by Louis to a San Francisco reporter. The vampires in this movie are vicious, drink human blood and cannot go out in the sun because the sun’s rays will burn and turn them into ash.

One of the many adaptations of Bram Stoker’s book, “Dracula” stars Frank Langella in the 1979 film of the same name. In this highly romanticized version, Count Dracula arrives in England in 1913 from Transylvania aboard a ship that breaks up on the rocks during a storm. During the wreckage of the ship, a wolf is seen jumping from its deck and then the Count himself is found on the shore. This story follows the more traditional legends of vampires, that is, that they can also shape shift. Even though Count Dracula is a charismatic figure, there is no mistake that he’s vicious and has no compunction in killing and drinking his victim’s blood.  But, man, oh man, is Frank Langella one sexy vampire. It could be that it was due in large part to his voice. I’m a sucker for a great voice. I prefer this version of vampire lore with the shape shifting in addition to not being able to walk in the sun.

These are just three different viewpoints on vampire legends and lore. So what’s your favorite kind of vampire?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Jeda's Humble Beginnings: Excerpt from ASSASSIN'S CURSE


The boy stood in the middle of the room staring blankly at the wall.
Choose well was all he remembered.
The room was about sixty paces long and probably half as wide.  It was two stories’ high with numerous oil lamps set along the upper walls that provided more than adequate lighting for the entire room.  A balcony ran along three of the four walls and provided a means to observe any event happening below.  There was one door leading in and out of the room, but it was blocked by a large, well-muscled man dressed completely in black.  His eyes were deadpan, like those of a cold-blooded killer. 
The air was relatively cool, but the young boy felt a drip of sweat run down his back.  He tried to hide his nervousness beneath a façade of serenity while staring at the wall, but he could feel the butterflies roiling in his stomach, threatening to unman him.
The wall the boy stared at contained all conceivable manner of weapons, from short throwing knives to elegantly curved swords to long-handled halberds with wickedly curved barbs and spikes.  The boy had to choose something soon or forfeit his chance to test again for another year.  He would not let this opportunity pass, because this was the day he had trained long and hard for, the day he had anticipated for the last three years, and the day when he would finally prove himself worthy.  Today he would test to become an apprentice in the guild of assassins.
The rules of the test were simple: choose your weapon and fight.  Any novice who aspired to test for apprenticeship had twenty short minutes to fight and draw blood from their opponent.  Whatever weapon a novice chose to test with would be the school in which they would be apprenticed if they passed.  There were five schools: Sword, Knife, Axe, Staff, and Bow.  The tests were short, brutal, and bloody, designed to ensure that no one advanced who did not rightly deserve to.  Their opponents were fully trained brothers of the guild who gave no quarter or latitude to the would-be contenders.  Many tested for the honor, but few passed their first time, and some even lost their lives in the attempt. 
Jeda had decided many months ago to choose a pair of fighting knives as his weapon of choice.  He was good with knives, both in hand-to-hand combat and throwing, and liked the way they felt perfectly balanced in his hands.  He had been steadfast in his weapon of choice until the moment he entered the room and saw Brother Mave waiting for him.  A slight grimace passed over his face, but he quickly composed himself.  The last thing he wanted was for Mave to see he was scared.  Mave was dressed in the traditional, assassin color of black, but also wore a distinguishable symbol of red, crossed swords on the bandana holding back his hair.  That symbol marked him as a preeminent sword expert within the guild, second only to the masters in the School of Swords.  Knives were excellent, close-in fighting weapons, but Jeda was not good enough with them to draw blood from a sword expert like Mave.  Now he stood immobilized, staring at the weapons wall, furiously trying to think of what he should do next.  He knew he would have to choose wisely if he was to survive this day. 
Damn, of all the brothers in this guild, how could I be so lucky as to get Mave? Jeda thought sarcastically.  He stepped forward and reached for the weapon he thought he would have the most luck with.
No sense in changing now.
Mave saw the boy look his way and inwardly smiled.  He knew the boy was scared, and rightly so.  It was not chance that brought him here today, but a carefully orchestrated scheme to make sure he tested the boy.  He felt Jeda was no more than a third-year upstart who did not deserve the opportunity to test for apprenticeship.  Most novices trained for five or six years before petitioning to test.  Mave was going to make sure that the boy did not pass.  That was as it should be, for it was Mave who had brought Jeda to the guild in the first place.  He should be the one to put the boy in his place and teach him humility.
Jeda finally reached up and took a pair of fighting knives off the wall.
Mave shook his head at the boy’s choice.  I knew it.  The boy may know how to fight, but he knows nothing of winning.
“Begin,” said the dispassionate voice of the master-in-attendance judging the test.
Mave strode forward, closing the distance and eliminating the only advantage knives would give the boy.  Without the distance to throw them, they were completely useless against swords. 
The boy stood stock-still, visibly trembling as Mave approached.  His frozen fear was pathetic and almost embarrassing.  Mave would cut him slightly with his first blade and knock him out with the handle of his second, putting a quick end to this charade of a test.  Twirling his swords in a deadly dance, Mave felt no sympathy for the boy.  Today’s failure would set Jeda back at least a year and give him more time to learn proper respect and modesty, traits Mave felt he was sorely lacking. 
The young fool doesn’t know what he’s in for.   
As Mave swung the first blade to catch the boy across the cheek, something unexpected happened.  Jeda dove forward, under the first blade, and whipped one of his knives at Mave’s exposed side.  Mave deflected the throw with his second sword.  If he had not been such an excellent swordsman, the throw would have a scored a hit.
Maybe not quite the fool I took him for.  Mave spun around swinging the sword in a deadly arc to face the boy as Jeda jumped to his feet.  The swing cut the boy high on the arm and he cried out in shock and pain.  The cut was deep and bleeding heavily, rendering the arm useless.  The boy went down on one knee, but Mave moved cautiously forward.  He would not be caught off-guard a second time by the boy’s cleverness.  When Mave came within a sword’s reach of him, the boy jumped forward into a diving roll and threw his second, remaining knife.  Mave anticipated the move and easily deflected the throw, shaking his head at the boy’s stupidity in throwing away his last means of defense.  As he turned to face Jeda, he realized his mistake.  He felt a blade slice through his trousers, burning and drawing a bright-crimson line along his leg.  Jeda had used the second throw to distract Mave from his true objective: the first blade that Mave had deflected.  The boy had used his diving roll to reach that first blade, left forgotten on the floor.  
How did he get that knife so quickly and throw it so precisely? Mave wondered, looking down at his bleeding leg.     
“Enough.  Blood has been drawn by Novice Jeda,” said the master’s voice from the balcony.  “He is elevated to the rank of apprentice.”
Mave studied Jeda with a smoldering anger.  He was a good fifteen feet away and was wobbling on his feet from loss of blood.  It didn’t seem possible that he could have thrown that knife in his condition.  Mave knew the boy must have somehow cheated. 
This is not over; no one makes a fool of me.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Excerpt from The 13th by Shadow Stephens

Jade paused to look at her home. The house had been remodeled several times over the centuries.  Now it had a Victorian look to it. White, wood siding covered the exterior, and it was badly in need of paint. A porch wrapped around the entire first floor, with several French doors prominently located for easy access. Inside, at the back, stood a three-story staircase that circled around a steeple like structure.  There were two other staircases in the house, but they only led to the second floor, although technically, there were four floors to this house. The kitchen was filled with old cabinets and a cast iron stove, with a large hood. Jade’s father had converted the stove to gas some time ago. In the sitting room was a massive fireplace that a grown man could stand in.  Attached to the kitchen was a glassed in atrium, where herbs and plants were grown year round.
Jade walked up the porch steps and into the living room and flipped on the light switch. The single switch turned on a series of faux candles positioned around the room bathing it in a soft yellow glow. On the far wall was a bookcase and she walked to it. She stopped at the spinning wheel that sat in front of shelves and touched it softly with her hand, slowly turning the wheel. Her grandmother would sit here for hours spinning wool.
Jade pulled the clip from her hair and allowed it to cascade down her back. She pulled a cellphone from her pocket and called her grandmother.
“I’m gonna come over and visit you tomorrow. Yes, I’ll bring lunch.”
Jade chuckled as she hung up. Her grandma moved out of the large house when Jade’s grandfather died, leaving it to her parents. Katherine now lived in a small house in the center of town.
Walking up the main staircase, Jade headed for the shower. She let her clothes fall to the floor before grabbing some towels. The hot water filled the bathroom with steam. She lathered her hair with shampoo of her own making and scratched her scalp with her fingers. Without warning, a light bulb above the sink exploded with a pop and she jumped. Wiping condensation from the glass shower doors she peered out, but could only see fog. Shrugging it off she rinsed her hair. She stuck her face under the water to remove any suds. As the water cascaded down her face and neck the other lights exploded. One by one the light bulbs shattered leaving her with only a glow from the bedroom lamp. Quickly, turning off the water she grabbed her towel.
She walked carefully, trying to avoid stepping on broken glass with her bare feet. Bending down she picked up a piece. The light bulbs were all black on the inside. Jade straightened up and for a split second she saw movement in the fog-covered mirror, causing her to shriek. 
“Hello,” she called out.
She felt a breath against her ear and whirled around, but could see nothing there. In two strides she was out of the bathroom.  She put on some pajamas and shoes and went downstairs to grab the broom and dustpan.
Holding her hands up the broom moved on it’s own accord and the dustpan trailed after it until all the glass pieces were cleaned up. Jade replaced the light bulbs and the bathroom again glowed with warmth.
Being already on edge, the ringing of her cell made her jump.  She grabbed it and said “Hello?” in a shaky voice.
“Hey Elf, what’s going on?” Asher asked with a tinge of panic in his voice.
“I just got spooked, I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound fine.”
“I’m sure it’s just my imagination.”
“Jade, you can’t fool me, what is going on?”
“I was in the shower when all the lights in my bathroom exploded. I thought I heard and saw something, but nothing was there. There’s no reason for a spirit to be in my house.”
“You need to be careful. Do you need me to come over?”
“No, don’t be silly. Really, Asher, I’m fine. Why did you call?”
“I felt you were distressed.”
“We should never have swapped blood as kids—now you have to deal with my stress too.” Jade smiled at the thought.
“I still have the scar to prove it,” Asher said and Jade held up her palm to examine her own. They had taken her father’s pocketknife and slit down the center of their hands, then held their hands together, infusing each other’s essences.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, Ash.”

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