31 Days Of Halloween – Teaser Tuesday #3

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Wolves In The Desert (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequel Three)

When his squad is deployed to Iraq, Gunnery Sergeant Garfield Feldman leads them in a series of operations against forces loyal to Saddam Hussein.

Recently rumors have been flying around base that the enemy has learned a few new tricks, and found ways to ambush Marine units from buildings that had been declared clear.

Now Feldman’s team has received orders to conduct a snatch-and-grab mission deep in enemy-held territory. But what lies behind the walls, and what can Feldman do to ensure the success of the mission?

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Urban Fantasy, Short Story, US Marine Corps, Iraq
$0.99 (USD)
eBook only
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The “Wolves In The Desert” Drawing Starts Today

31 Days Of Halloween - Featured Image - WiTD Giveaway

Starting at 12:00 on Oct 12th

Ending at 12:00 on Oct 19th

(Times are for the Alaska timezone, EST -4 hours, GMT -9 hours)

Entries can be earned by completing any of the three tasks, and one of the tasks can earn you additional entries every day.

Here’s how the prizes are going to break down.

PrizeItemProvided By
1stE-Book “Wolves In The Desert”
Audio/E-Book “Ghosts Of The Sea Moon”
E-Book “Protecting The Dead”
E-Books “The 13: Tales of the Illusory”,
                “The 13: Tales of Macabre”,
                “Till Death Do Us Part”
E-Book “The Greatest of Books”
Timothy Bateson
A.F. Stewart
Katherine Gilbert
Stephanie Ayers

Rosa Marchisella
E-Book “Wolves In The Desert”Timothy Bateson

Of Hauntings and Hoaxes: The Historical Basis for “No Rest for the Wicked” by Phoebe Darqueling

31 Days Of Halloween - Featured Image - Of Hauntings And Hoaxes

Writers are often asked where their ideas come from. It can be difficult to pin down all the factors that lead to a story, but in the case of my upcoming release No Rest for the Wicked, I can tell you exactly how I became inspired to create my psychic grifter character.

Back when I worked in the library of the California Academy of Sciences, I discovered a wonderful and witty nonfiction author, Mary Roach. She’s written plenty of books on a wide range of subjects, but my

favorite has to be Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. Her approach in all of her books is to take one “big idea” and come at it from every possible angle. In this book, she spent a lot of time examining the foundation of the Spiritualist movement and the rise in the belief in ghosts during the 19th century. I was fascinated how this “enlightened” time in human history also saw people turning to supernatural explanations, which could make them fall victim to hoaxes. I fell in love with the “mad science” of the steam era and it is still one of my favorite areas of research.

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One of the most famous of these hoaxes involving ghosts happened in 1848. Two sisters in New York City claimed to be visited by a spirit, and the newspapers – hungry for stories that would sell – at it up. By the late days of Queen Victoria’s reign, a huge percentage of the population in the English speaking world claimed to have communicated with the dead, or at

least believed it was possible. The Spiritualist movement was born, and it’s avid believers included Mary Todd Lincoln, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and Queen Vic herself.

Nowadays, we keep death neat, tidy, and far away. In the old days, not only did most people die in their own homes with family members at hand, this was considered the definition of a “good death.” During conflicts like the American Civil War, soldiers carried photos of their loved ones with them. Not just to remember them by, but so if they died on the battlefield, the living could arrange the photos around them as if they were near their family. Because if you didn’t have a “good death,” there was a good chance you would never get to rest.

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It didn’t take long for con artists, primarily female ones, to start offering their services as mediums. Another type of lucrative hoax was to offer “spirit photography” services. This was also early days for photographic technology, and people were eager to believe that the be-sheeted figure in the background of a double exposure was actual a phantasm.

So, back to my character. During the fall of 2015, I spent a few weeks in training to be a tour guide at the Sacramento History Museum. Ultimately, the drive proved to be too long and the working hours too few for me to continue, but I gained something so much more valuable than money. While we crafted our tours, we were asked to create a character and choose a theme. As I went through the training, I was struck by how many of the stories centered on gamblers, grifters, and thieves. This became the focus of my tour, and when it came time to choose a persona, I decided on a fake medium. Though I never did give a tour, Viola Thorne was born.

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The premise was too good to let go of, and it continued to percolate in the back of my brain. As I daydreamed, I saw a woman and her assistant testing out the pulleys and various levers to create her special effects. Then a ghost walked in to answer her advertisement, and everything changed. Though this exact scene does not appear in No Rest for the Wicked, which takes place after the recalcitrant Vi has become fed up with running errands for the dead, it served as the basis for my Mistress of None series.

If you’d like to find out more about No Rest for the Wicked, stop by my blog to read some excerpts and sign up for my newsletter (the bar floating at the bottom of the screen). This Gaslamp Fantasy novel is set to come out from Black Rose Writing on March 28, but in the meantime I am also going to send my subscribers a free ebook called The Steampunk Handbook this fall. In its pages, I go into much more detail about the spooky and the supernatural side to the steam era.

Here’s to a Haunting Halloween!

No Rest for the Wicked Header

About Phoebe Darqueling

Phoebe Darqueling has hung her hat in many places as she and her archaeologist husband have chased their dreams around the world. When she isn’t sharing tips for writers on OurWriteSide.com or editing SteampunkJournal.org, she writes curriculum for a creativity competition for kids in Minnesota. You can find more of her writing in the novels Riftmaker (Feb 14), No Rest for the Wicked (March 28) and Army of Brass, and her short stories in Chasing Magicand Queen of Clocks and Other Steampunk Tales.

You can find her on WordPressAmazonTwitter, and Facebook

31 Days Of Halloween – Teaser Tuesday #2

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The Lupine’s Call (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequel Two)

Richard Parsons is a shapeshifter with a drinking problem – not that his girlfriend knows about his abilities. But she’s determined to sober him up, and the arguments aren’t helping.
Storming out of the apartment during the latest argument might only be the first bad move of the night.

Will Richard’s drinking get him into more trouble than he can handle?

Buy At:

Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Wolf-Shifters
$0.99 (USD)
eBook only
Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks

Famous Witches/Warlocks Through The Ages

31 Days Of Halloween - Featured Image - Famous Witches-Warlocks Through The Ages

In keeping with the Halloween theme, I thought that it would be worth looking at one of the most popular figures of the holiday – the witch.

Throughout history there are a number of very famous figures who have been been accused, tried, convicted and even executed for the practice of witchcraft.

Many of those accused were guilty of nothing more than being intelligent, free-thinking women who were seen as a challenge to the powers of their time. As such, they became the victims of the many witch hunts, and trials – often giving confessions obtained through interrogation and torture.

So here are just a few of those alleged practitioners of the ‘Dark Arts’.

Alice Kyteler (late 1200s – after 1325)

Born in Ireland in 1263, Alice Kyteler was married four times, which made her an already unusual woman. However, when her fourth husband died, amid claims he was being poisoned, accusations of animal sacrifice, Satan worship and murdering her husbands surfaced.

The trial went on for months, and it wasn’t until they tortured and obtained confessions from members of her household that Richard de Ledrede was able to make the charges stick. Kyteler became one of the first recorded people condemned for witchcraft. Though she managed to escape the country before sentence was carried out many of her household were not so lucky.

Sources: Wikipedia, WitchcraftAndWitches.com, the-line-up.com

Ursula Southeil – Aka Mother Shipton (1488 – 1561)

Ursula Southeil is reputed to have been born ugly, and deformed to a teenage mother. Some would say that her appearance was due to being fathered by the Devil himself. In fact there are reports that later in life she looked very much like the image we now hold in our minds when people mention witches at Halloween.

Regardless of the truth of those particular stories, she is probably best remembered for the legacy of prophecies she left behind. Though why it took eighty years for these prophecies to come to light is sometimes hard to fathom. Whatever the reason, there are many of those prophecies that have apparently come to pass, including the Spanish Armada, the Great Fire of London, and possibly even the internet.

Sources: Wikpedia, Biography.com, TheRitchest.com, WitchcraftAndWitches.com

Anne Boleyn (1501 – 1536)

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of Henry VIII, and Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. Her marriage came amid a lot of turmoil between Henry VIII and the Catholic church, in large part due to Henry’s attempts to annul the marriage between himself and Catherine of Aragon.

However, Bolyen’s intelligence and desire to learn made her one of the most powerful women of her time. Her advice often held more sway over the king, than that of is own advisors. However, when she gave birth to the future Elizabeth I, Henry was disappointed not to have a son, and the division between the two started.

When she miscarried three children, including a boy, the rising anger and resentment of Henry’s advisors became enough for her to be accused of treason.

Among the crimes she was accused of were adultery, conspiring to dethrone the king, and witchcraft (bewitching the king into divorcing his first wife). However, witchcraft was not mentioned in the indictment, and would not become a crime until the reign of Elizabeth I, her own daughter

Sources: Wikipedia, Anne-Boleyn.com, Ancient-Origins.net

Agnes Waterhouse (1503 – 1566)

Agnes Waterhouse was one of the first three women tried by secular court, and executed, for witchcraft in England. Alongside Elizabeth Francis and Joan Waterhouse, Agnes was the first accused witch to be tried by a court not formed by the church.

The particulars of the case against her revolved around her cat, Satan, the illness and death of William Fynne and her own husband. She was also accused of sending Satan to kill local livestock. It was Agnes’ daughter Joan’s testimony sealed the fates of her mother, and Elizabeth Francis, even though she herself was acquitted.

It wasn’t until she was about to be hung that Agnes Waterhouse broke and confessed to killing a man, and she died praying for God’s forgiveness.

Sources: Wikipedia, TheRichest.com

Dr. John Dee (1527 – 1608/1609)

Technically not classified as a witch, Dr. John Dee was a noted occultist, mathematician, astronomer, geographer and astrologer. He was born in London to family who had ties to the court of Henry VIII, and Dee would even claim ties to Rhodri the Great, Prince of Wales.

He studied in Cambridge, and became a founding fellow of Trinity College when it was founded by Henry VIII. After years of study, he was versed in several subjects, and turned down several positions in favor of the hopes for a position at court.

He was arrested in 1555 on charges of having cast horoscopes for Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth. And this was not the only charges and slanders brought against Dee, all of which he would be cleared of, and he eventually became advisor to Elizabeth when she took the throne.

However, his influence at court was lost when he fell out of favor, and he spent many years wandering Europe while continuing to publish his works on the occult and alchemy.

Sources: Wikipedia, WitchcraftAndWitches.com

Merga Bien (1560s – 1603)

When the prince abbott of the German town, Fulda returned from exile he ordered a massive witch hunt. Like Alice Kyteler, Bien had been married several times and had inherited from at least two of those husbands.

Unfortunately, Merga was one of over two hundred executed for witccraft, despite her pregnancy. At the time of her arrest, Merga had been married for many years to her current husband, who professed her innocence of the charges.

However, it was that very pregnancy, and confessions that were likely obtained through torture that led to Bien being burned at the sake.

Sources: Wikipedia, TheRichest.com, Biography.com

The Pendle Witches (? – 1612)

The Lancashire Witch Trials are among the best documented witch trials of the seventeenth century. Among the trials that took place at the Lancaster Assizes were those of the Samlesbury and Pendle witches.

In the case of the Pendle witches, twelve women living in the vicinity of Pendle Hill were accused of witchcraft. Many of whom had refused to attend church and take Communion, which was considered crime at the time.

Other charges leveled against the women included the murder of ten people by witchcraft, and ten of them were convicted. The unfortunate part of the trials is that many of them women became convinced of their own guilt, or gave testimony against each other.

Sources: Wikipedia, WitchcraftAndWitches.com

Isobel Gowdie (tried 1662)

Gowdie’s confessed to witchcraft in 1662. Before her arrest, she was a cottar’s wife from Auldearn, in the Scottish Highlands.  Although not much else is known about her life, her confession is one of the most comprehensive to have been obtained without torture.

During her confessions, Gowdie would outline the activities of her coven, claim to have hosted the Queen of Fairies, and more. In all those confessions form one of the most complete accounts of folklore on European witchcraft of the time.

Sources: Wikipedia, The-Line-Up.com

Bridget Bishop (1632 – 1692)

Bridget Bishop was accused and tried for witchcraft at the start of the Salem Witch Trials. She was the first to be tried by jury, and was hung on Gallow Hill near Salem.

What makes this case stand out among all the others is that Bishop was accused of having bewitched other women, and that much of the evidence given against her was from ‘spectral evidence’. This form of evidence came from those who claimed to see apparitions of the one they accused of afflicting them.

There were also those of her accusers at the trial that would be struck down when she looked at them, and only her touch revived them. But despite all these things, many suspect that it was the lies she told in court that really condemned her.

Sources: Wikipedia, WitchcraftAndWitches.com

Aleister Crowley (1875 – 1947)

Possibly one of the most famous of modern occultists, Crowley was also known as a poet, novelist and painter. But it’s his more colorful names that earn his place on this list. Crowley called himself ‘The Beast’ while the tabloids came to call him ‘The Wickedest Man In The World’.

Having been raised in a Catholic family, Crowley broke with the church during his college years, and devoted himself to the study of mysticism and occultism. During his lifetime he would travel extensively, study alchemy, mysticism, and expand his practices of magic into sexual magics. 

He would also partake of recreational drugs, obtain positions in several occult groups, and claim to have been contacted by a supernatural entity called Aiwass. This claim and the texts that he wrote based on those supposed conversations would form the foundation of Thelema, which he continued to build on throughout his lifetime.

Sources: Wikipedia, WitchcraftAndWitches.com

That’s been my round-up of witches through history. Did I miss anyone you think should be on the list? Let me know in the comments.

Author Spotlight – Katherine Gilbert

Introducing Katherine Gilbert

31 Days Of Halloween - Katherine Gilbert - Author Spotlight

Katherine Gilbert was born at house number 1313 and then transplanted to a crumbling antebellum ruin so gothic that The Munsters would have run from it. She has since gained several ridiculously-impractical degrees in English and Religious and Women’s Studies. She now teaches at a South Carolina community college, where all her students think, correctly, that she is very, very strange, indeed.

Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

The decaying nineteenth-century mansion in South Carolina I mention in my bio was so creepy many people simply refused to enter it. They were the smart ones. About ten years after I finally managed to escape it, I was told by a family friend that it had burned down. He was quite surprised, when I laughed in hysterical relief. Since then, I’ve been fascinated by the gothic and paranormal, although I demand large doses of humor to make life worthwhile.

Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Lydia, the main character in Protecting the Dead, has spent the first 18 years of her life being raised by parents who intended from the start to sacrifice her to a demon, so she’s got some definite social anxiety disorder issues she’s having trouble overcoming. She’s decided the way to be happy is to just be the most normal person possible and ignore anything weird or strange. Since she ends up getting a job at a supernatural apartment complex filled with werewolves, cat people, ghosts, vampires, and many other creatures of the night, this isn’t easy for her. Her attraction to her angelic boss doesn’t help matters, either. It’s really a character’s journey from an uncertain past to a future where she starts to realize that embracing weirdness can lead to happiness.

Who is your intended readership?

Hoo boy–where to start? First off, I don’t do dark or gritty. To my mind, life has too much of both those qualities as it is. There are also too many unpleasant people out there in the real world either causing or enjoying the suffering of others. I’ve never wanted to spend my free or dream time with them, so (while this type may show up as a villain) they will never be my protagonists. I actually like a character I can, well, like. In other words, if you root for Sauron over Frodo or Aragorn, I’m not the writer for you.

Two of my greatest loves, as well, are humor and the weird or paranormal, so that kind of tells you something about what you should be expecting (well, if you toss in that there are romances, too). My writing is full of strange, funny, quirky characters in weird, paranormal situations.

Another aspect of my writing is kind of a quirky spirituality. Nothing in my novels will resemble any religion you ever heard of. There are both angels and demons in Protecting the Dead, but they probably won’t fit most preconceived religious notions. Still, I’d rather create worlds where the protagonists and their friends are working toward seeing good happen in the world and helping out all those around them.

It was only after my novel was published that I came to realize how much it doesn’t seem to fit most people’s expectations. If you approach it solely as a romance, the protagonist’s journey is really only partly about her relationship, so this may throw you off. If you approach it solely as urban fantasy, it will seem weirdly humorous and light. If you expect it to be a typical (i.e. rigidly codified Christianity) inspirational, your brain will probably explode. My sister attempted to define it once as an inspirational comic paranormal urban gothic romance. I guess I’d just say it the way I do in my newsletter. My writing is for those times you want humor, romance, and the paranormal–and you aren’t willing to settle for just one.

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I actually started out as a fan fiction writer for a show I was obsessed with. At first, the stories all filled in the blanks left by the episodes, but, once the show ended a few years later, I branched out into alternate universe stories. I realized through these that I was actually able to create my own plot and characters. In fact, the characters always know where they’re going, even when I haven’t a clue. I just need to get the time to put my fingers on the keyboard and let them tell me what they want written about them.

Do you have a favorite author, or writing inspiration?

There are a lot of favorite authors for me, but Terry Pratchett probably comes out on top. He mixes humor, fantasy, the supernatural, and real-world truths and concerns with absolutely seamless brilliance. I’ve reread some of the Discworld novels so many times I’ve nearly memorized them.

As to my inspirations, there are a couple. First, my sister listens to every chapter as I write and is unbelievably supportive. It’s wonderful to have someone who really gets me listening to what I’m working on. Second, a lot of my novels come from either dreams or the seed of a real-life encounter. Protecting the Dead was inspired by a run-down apartment complex my sister and I visited. When she asked about the tenant turnover, she was told, “Oh, our residents never leave.” Thus, my brain started sizzling. Third, though, are just the characters themselves. When I finally published this first novel (after years of trying), a friend asked me why I never gave up. I told her truthfully that I couldn’t betray my characters that way. They wanted their story told, so I needed to do what I could to see that that happened.

What advice would you give beginning writers?

Mostly, as I said above, if this is something you really want to do and the stories are just burning in your mind, don’t give up. This is true even when: you’re halfway through writing and either realize you have no idea where this story is going or it takes off in a sudden new direction you never expected; agents and publishers are thoroughly uninterested in your work; you’re bogged down in editing which seems to be driving you close to madness; the thought of trying to “create a platform” for your published work makes you want to hold your head; nobody’s buying your book; or some of those few who review it just say some version of, “Whuh?” Trust in your characters; do the best you can for them and yourself, and, whenever possible, help out others, as you go along.

Do you have any amusing writing stories or anecdotes to share?

In Protecting the Dead, there’s this little old Jewish woman who keeps popping up in Lydia’s dreams. For the longest time, I was as clueless as she was as to who this old woman was and why she kept invading my story. It was only partway through a chapter about halfway through the novel that it finally dawned on me who she was (although, to avoid spoilers, I won’t explain further).

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies?

My hobbies are mostly mundane (tv, movies, books). As to what I’m passionate about, I suppose spending time with my sister and friends. I love to go on small adventures somewhere beautiful or strange, whether it’s a place I’ve never seen before or one I’ve been to any number of times. Honestly, too, even if my sister and I go nowhere, just spending time laughing and talking with her is one of my greatest joys. I utterly, thoroughly scored in the cosmic sister lottery, and I always enjoy my good fortune.

What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I’ve got one book I’m writing and another I’m editing. For the one I’m editing, it involves magic and some demonic secrets in an antebellum mansion on the Battery in Charleston, SC. Sometimes hidden family secrets can reach out to grab you.

Protecting the Dead

Protecting the Dead-Cover

After a childhood filled with demons and her devil-worshiping parents, Lydia longs for a quiet, normal life, a safe haven somewhere blissfully dull. Being the manager at the Roanoke Apartments seems to fit that bill. But Lydia soon learns that you can’t leave the past behind so easily. She finds herself faced with unclogging drains for werewolves, conducting nightly vampire counseling sessions, and caring for two talkative cats. Then there’s the

distraction of Geoffrey, the hottest, and most angelic, boss anyone ever dreamed of. As if that isn’t enough, the demon who nearly killed her shows up to finish the job. So much for a peaceful, simple life…

Buy Now: E-Book, Paperback (Coming Soon)

Author Pages:

Amazon, Smashwords

Where to find Katherine Gilbert:

Website (Facebook)

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31 Days Of Halloween – Teaser Tuesday #1

31 Days Of Halloween-TeaserTuesday-UnderAHuntersMoon

Under A Hunter’s Moon (Shadows Over Seattle: Prequel One)

Richard Parsons is a maverick wolf-shifter with a tendency to find trouble. When a traveling exhibition returns to the McCaw Museum Richard finds that he has personal reasons to visit after hours.
His audacious plan goes awry when a particular display forces painful memories to the surface.
Can Richard face down the demons of his past before the police become aware of his presence.

Buy At:

Urban Fantasy, Short Story, Wolf-Shifters
$0.99 (USD)
eBook only
Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & NobleKobo, iBooks