Sunday, 24 October 2021

Witch-Riding Nightmares by YA Paranormal Author Leigh Goff...

My YA Southern Gothic novel, Koush Hollow, is set in a fictional town outside New Orleans. The title was inspired by the word cauchemar and its Southern meaning.

Koush is a derivative of cauche, which means a terror that comes in the night. The French translation is to press or trample. Mare comes from Old English and means an incubus or night-goblin. In southwest Louisiana cauchemar has another meaning. It refers to a witch-riding, a supernatural attack while one sleeps.

Various cultures in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas have different names for this phenomenon that has been experienced over the centuries. In seventeenth century North America, victims of accused Salem witches suffered from these witch-riding nightmares. The same kind of attacks are mentioned in present-day Southern folklore. The terrifying supernatural event occurs in the moments before waking up when one tries to move, but cannot. The paralysis is blamed on the supernatural and described as a feeling of pressure on one’s chest as if a demon were sitting on it or as if a witch were riding the person.

The Nightmare, 1781 Johann Heinrich Fusilli 
Some believe the evil creature sucks the breath out of its victim while slowly killing them. During this sleep paralysis, victims claim to be choked or prodded with the creature’s claws, and they are filled with panic until the creature disappears into thin air. Others believe there is no meaning to the event while others believe it is a warning to seek forgiveness for one’s sins. The painting by Johann Heinrich Fusilli aptly titled The Nightmare depicts a cauchemar with a demonic creature posed on a woman’s chest while the horse in the background stares wide-eyed with fear on its face.

As Koush Hollow is set outside of New Orleans in a place where bayou magic abounds, dreams are frightening, and beauty masks the real monsters, it’s a well-suited title. Here's a little to intrigue you.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.


After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.

EXCERPT
This excerpt is from Chapter 1 of Koush Hollow. The sixteen-year-old main character, Jenna, seems to have a waking nightmare where an interesting creature appears, but only to her. Is it real or is it a dream?

Tap, tap.

My eyes flashed wide. A curvy, gray-haired lady tapped on my passenger side window. Jenna, snap out of it, I thought to myself. I breathed and remembered how to roll the window down.

“You okay, hon’?” She stared at my hands. “You’re shaking like you drank ten cafĂ© lattes.”

“I’m j-just a little on edge. I mean, I thought I hit that…that woman.”

She jolted upright and looked around. “What are you talking about?”

My gaze flitted all around her. “She w-was r-right there—the painted woman,” I stuttered and pointed. “Where did she go?” My knees finally stopped knocking, allowing me to slide out of the car.

“You didn’t hit anyone. Are you on something?”

I stumbled to the front and bent over searching underneath the car. Nothing. No one. I stood up and scanned the sidewalks, but I didn’t see the mysterious woman anywhere.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be driving, hon’.”
Maybe I shouldn’t be.

“Is there someone I can call?” she asked.

I wiped my sopping wet forehead with the back of my hand. It had to be stress affecting me. It had been a tough few months and maybe it was catching up with me. I turned to the kind woman. “I’m only a few minutes from my mother’s house.” I’d get the Diet Cokes and vitamins later. “I’ll be fine. Thank you.”

We both returned to our cars. She waited for me to move. With trembling fingers, I managed to shift into drive. I pumped the brakes to see if they worked. They worked fine. The rattling sound in the engine was gone, too. I could hardly think straight. Was that Voodoo woman real or a figment of my imagination? I shoved aside the bad feeling, inhaled a calming breath, and decided to apply logic, which suggested the whole thing was a brain-glitch from stress. However, no matter how logical I tried to be, the uneasy feeling remained.



Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, was released on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Book Tour: Sloth the Lazy Dragon by Regan W.H. Macaulay and Illustrated by Alex Zgud...

Mirror World Publishing and Sapphyria's Book Promotions present the 1-week book tour for Sloth the Lazy Dragon.

About Sloth the Lazy Dragon:

Join Sloth on his adventure to wellness…

Sloth the Lazy Dragon lives in a mountain atop his hoard of gold and jewels. He believes he has all that a dragon could possibly want, until he meets a brave dwarf named Radish who offers to help him lose weight. With Radish’s guidance, Sloth finds himself eating healthier and getting plenty of exercise. In time, Sloth gains the freedom that his new healthy lifestyle brings, which he discovers is more valuable to him than all the treasure in the world.

Follow the Blog Tour Here:



Book Details:

Page Count: 32
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Wellness, Exercise, Nutrition, Food, Heath
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com
Publish Date: October 23, 2021

Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble


Meet the Author:


Regan W.H. Macaulay is an award-winning author of novels, short stories, children’s literature, and scripts. Writing is her passion, but she’s also a producer and director of theatre, film, and television. She is an animal enthusiast as well, which led her to become a Certified Canine and Feline Massage Therapist. Other picture storybooks include Dog Band, Libby the Lobivia Jajoiana, Beverlee Beaz the Brown Burmese, Tamara Turtle’s Life So Far, Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast, and Merry Myrrh the Christmas Bat. She is also the author of The Trilogy of Horrifically Half-baked Ham, which includes Space Zombies! (based on her film, Space Zombies: 13 Months of Brain-Spinning Mayhem!— available on Amazon Prime and on DVD), They Suck, and Horror at Terror Creek.

Social Media:

Meet the Artist:



Alex Zgud is an artist from rural Ontario, currently living in Calgary. She attended the Ontario College of Art & Design, where she majored in drawing and painting, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After finishing school she went on to begin a tattoo apprenticeship, and has since been developing her skills as a tattoo artist. Her preferred media are inks and watercolours.





Sunday, 17 October 2021

Voodoo verses Obeah…


Voodoo is the product of the slave trade (principally in the Spanish and French colonies in the Caribbean), and derives from vodu, meaning spirit or deity in the Fon language of Dahomey, now part of Nigeria. Creole slave masters in the New World translated the word into vaudau, and eventually became known as voudou, voudoun, vodoun, voodoo, and hoodoo. Whites forbade their slaves to practice their Voodoo religion on pain of torture and death. Any slave found possessing a fetish (sacred objects such as dolls, carved images, animal teeth, claws or bones) was to be imprisoned, hanged, or flayed alive. Seems like the equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition, don’t you think?

To save black souls, the masters baptized the slaves as Catholics. Tribal deities took on the forms of Catholic saints, and fetishes were replaced by Catholic statues, candles, and holy relics. Voodoo therefore consists of both traditional West African beliefs blended with local variations, and also of various magical techniques employed to achieve certain ends, including the descent of the gods into individual worshippers to give oracles and to provide protection. These magical techniques are known as Obeah.

There are many theories about the origins of Obeah, even the word itself. There are many words in
many West African languages that have ‘obi’ or ‘obea’ in theme that are connected to mysticism. Since many Igbo people were taken to the West Indies as slaves though, the term most likely originated from the Igbo word ‘obia’ which means working as a healer or doctor. Some call it sorcery or witchcraft, however unlike some western forms of witchcraft, it also does not come from an attitude of the Spirits serving the person, but the person serving the Spirits. Obeah practitioners would consider it unthinkable to summon a demon and give it orders as if it was obligated to obey. Like any Voodoo practitioner, if they’re calling on a Spirit, they follow the proper procedure, approach with humility, and do not show up empty handed.

In the third instalment of The Last Timekeepers time travel adventure series, The Last Timekeepersand the Noble Slave, my character Henri is a mulatto slave driver who’s originally from Louisiana, and practices Voodoo. Louisiana Voodoo (a.k.a. New Orleans Voodoo) developed within the French, Spanish, and Creole population of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is often confused with—but not completely separable from—Haitian Voodoo and southern Hoodoo (folk magic). Henri’s practices differ from Voodoo in the emphasis upon his use of Gris-Gris (charm bags filled with magical powders, herbs, bones, feathers, and so on) and Voodoo dolls to control and manipulate the plantation slaves.

In contrast, another character—a slave from Jamaica named Eilish, practices Obeah. She embodies what it is to be ‘Obeah’ and believes no human is stronger than Nature itself, and that every action has consequences. Her biggest belief? Don’t do bad things to people. That’s it. To the Obeah, when you do bad things to people, you put a wound on your soul. Even in the scientific sense, harming others damages you psychologically. So the more wrong you do to others, the more vulnerable you become to the dark forces of Nature.


Speaking of dark forces, those who worship Voodoo may not all practice black magic, but darker aspects of Voodoo do exist. A practitioner known as a bokor is more involved in sorcery than healing, and their greatest fear is not a death curse but zombification. Now that’s what I’d call some badass karma! In the end, if you do your best to make up for your wrongs, you will be blessed in other ways. You will at least have peace and be stronger for what you have learned.

Sunday, 10 October 2021

A Finger Lickin' Good Thanksgiving Feast Served by Cookbook Author Sloane Taylor...

Tired of serving turkey for your traditional Canadian Thanksgiving dinner? Then, cookbook author Sloane Taylor has prepared an amazingly good down-home type menu that’s finger lickin’ good and doesn’t splatter grease all over your stove. So, whether you're in the midst of closing the cottage, winterizing the camper, or at home with the family, gather the troops to help you prep this meal so everyone can get back to visiting with loved ones on this special Canadian holiday. 

 

MENU:
Oven-Fried Chicken
Mashed Potatoes
Corn
Spiked Watermelon
White Wine – Chablis


Oven-Fried Chicken
3 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless – legs and thighs work great, too
Milk
½ cup (50g) flour
1 tsp. (5ml) dried thyme
1 tsp. (5ml) dried marjoram
½ tsp. (2.5ml) garlic powder, not salt
1 tsp. (5ml) paprika
¼ cup ((52g) shortening or lard
¼ cup (57g) butter or margarine
3 tbsp. (45ml) fresh parsley, chopped or 1½ tbsp. (20ml) dried

 

Place chicken in a glass dish, cover with milk, and let sit for a minimum of 3 hours. This is a perfect way to use up milk when it is close to its expiration date. You can also marinade the pieces overnight. If you choose to go longer than 3 hours be sure to refrigerate the dish. I learned this tenderizing trick from a talented chef in Salzburg, Austria.

 

Combine flour, thyme, marjoram, garlic, and paprika in a plastic or paper bag.

 

Drain and pat chicken dry. Place pieces one at a time in bag and gently shake to thoroughly coat them. Lay chicken on a plate as you coat the remaining pieces. Set chicken in fridge for at least 20 minutes to set the coating.

 

Preheat oven to 425° F (220°C).

 

Add shortening and butter to a metal baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken. Place dish in oven until mixture is melted. Add chicken. Bake 15 minutes and then turn pieces over. Cook another 20 minutes or until juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife.

 

REMEMBER – all meat continues to cook for 5 minutes or so after it is removed from the oven.

 

Remove chicken from baking dish to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any oil. Transfer pieces to a clean plate. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

 

You can also make this dish on your grill. Set the grill on medium-high. Watch carefully so the chicken doesn’t burn.


Mashed Potatoes
Chicken stock, not broth
1 small russet potato per person, peeled and quartered
3 tbsp. (43g) butter
Sour cream, a very large dollop
¼ cup (60ml) milk, at room temperature
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parsley, snipped or chopped for garnish

 

Preheat oven to 220° F (100°C).

 

Pour one-inch (2.5cm) chicken stock into saucepan. Place potatoes in saucepan. Add tap water to cover by at least one inch (2.5cm). Cover pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower temperature to a strong simmer. Cook approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Potatoes are done when a fork inserts easily into a section.

 

Drain potatoes. Stir in butter, sour cream, and pepper. Mash well. Drizzle in milk. Mash and continue to add milk until you achieve the consistency you prefer.

 

Keep the saucepan warm in the oven while you finish preparing dinner.

 

Canned Corn
Sometimes it’s good to go easy and nothing is easier than canned veggies.

1 can of corn per 4 people
¼ tsp. (1.25ml) dried thyme
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Butter  

Drain corn, then pour into micro wave safe bowl. Sprinkle on thyme, salt, and pepper. Lay pats of butter across the top. Micro wave for 3 minutes, stir and serve.

Spiked Watermelon

An adult pleasure that tops off any dinner.


½ watermelon
2 – 3 cups (450 – 750ml) vodka

 

Remove the seeds from the watermelon. Cut fruit into chunks or use a melon scooper to form balls. Place the cut pieces into a glass bowl.

 

Pour vodka over the melon. No need to cover the fruit. You just want enough so all the pieces contact with the vodka. Stir gently. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for several hours.

 

Serve melon from the bowl along with forks or long spoons.


Once the holiday plates and cutlery are put away, and your thoughts turn to cooler temperatures, may I suggest Sloane Taylor's latest cookbook featuring Italian cuisine and menus to warm your tummy and heat up your relationships...


The perfect date night at home—course by course.

From antipasti to dolci, everything you need to create a unique dining experience for an intimate date night in!

  • All recipes are proportioned for two.
  • No exotic or hard-to-find ingredients.
  • Easy recipes, from prep to presentation.
  • Mix-and-match courses to create a unique dining experience.
  • Wine pairing suggestions to complement each dish.
  • Cooking tips to effortlessly move your date-night agenda from the kitchen to…wherever you’ll most enjoy dessert!
Available on Amazon

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a second passion in her life. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Taylor's cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Sizzling Summer, Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire, and Date Night Dinners Italian Style are released by Toque & Dagger Publishing and available at all book vendors.

Excerpts from her books and free reads can be found on her website, blog, and her Amazon Author Page. Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.




Sunday, 3 October 2021

Guest Post: Author and Master Gardener Emma Lane Brings the Outside into the Inside During the Cooler, Fall Season with these Floral Tips...

Summer has passed, and Autumn is here! But don't be disgruntled. Bring the outside in with a Fall bouquet. Not sure how, then let me help you. Here are a few tips to help make it easier.
 
Native and ornamental grasses: What fun to gather them on one of those perfect Fall days when the skies are vivid blue, a soft breeze tumbles your hair, and tick seed clings to your jeans. Best to do your hunt and gathering just before the leaves are all off the trees. Anything interesting is fair game, but do learn to identify dried ragweed and seeds. Not one to bring into the house; it will still make you sneeze. I’ve used the seed tassels of ornamental grasses and a wild reed which is listed as a nuisance plant. It overtakes our native cattails apparently. Even so I love the tassels which are free for the taking. Spot a batch where your sneakers will stay dry.

Love cattails? Pick when they turn brown, most likely mid to late summer. If you bring a ripe cattail inside to the warmth, it will explode with a predictable mess. Trust me; I’ve had the experience. Grab a handful in summer and dry them in a dark, dry place. Pull them out in the fall for a perfect addition to the dry bouquets.

Chinese lanterns (physalis) are perfect for Fall. They’ll last and last, but eventually lose their color. I’ve been known to spray them lightly with red paint, but the odor of fresh paint is not pleasant. Tend well ahead of time and let dry in the garage.

The purple flowers are grown under a hoop house which protects from the early frosts. They won’t stand up to a real freeze, but are perfect for Fall bouquets. Lisianthus is a favorite of florists because they last so long in the vase. Any late bloom will perk up a Fall bouquet. I’ve used long stems of mums, stray daisies, and geranium. Use your imagination and have fun with Fall bouquets. They’ll keep you cheerful until it’s time to decorate for Christmas.

Don't worry about which flowers to use. Anything and everything will be perfect because you chose it. The important ingredient in creating your bouquet is to have fun. 

Now here's a little from my latest Regency Romance to enjoy along with your lovely bouquet...

 
Elisabeth is a lively young lady ripe for adventure. She’s lived the sheltered life of the privileged during the Regency era of the 1800’s and is on the cusp of entering society when she joins her older sister at a house party. On the enormous estate in the spreading mansion of a duke, she mistakes her host for the fat squire down the road. Thus begins an adventure which is against all her training. She knows her mother would not approve. Was that half the intrigue of meeting a stranger in private?

The handsome but incognito Richard Hawlester, Duke of Roderick, weary of toad-eating house guests, engages in a serious flirtation with young Elisabeth Barrows, who is primed for an exciting adventure. Mistaking the fat squire for the duke, she holds her secret relationship with a man known only as Richard, Nobel Rescuer, close to a tender heart while discovering love for the first time.

Elisabeth’s trust seems irrevocably lost when the duke’s actual identity is revealed. Realizing his mistake, Roderick begins an earnest, dangerous, and often hilarious campaign to convince her of his love. Elisabeth ponders whether true love can overcome the loss of trust between two people, even as danger presents in the guise of a vile, undesirable suitor, while a wicked assassin makes an attempt on the life of the duke. Trust broken can never be regained, or can it? 

BUY LINKS Amazon - Wild Rose Publishing

Emma Lane
is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.