Guest Post: 5 Amazing Sci-Fi Books to Read Before the End of Summer

Today we have a guest post by fellow freelance writer, Caroline, and she has some cool book recommendations for us! Enjoy the post! :) xoxo Leah

5 Amazing Sci-Fi Books to Read Before the End of Summer

This year is shaping up to be one of those meteoric years for science fiction and fantasy. Looking at release of books from some of my favorite authors to new discoveries all together, it’s a great time be a science fiction and fantasy book lover.

So if you’re looking for something to binge read in the last days of summer, check out these five must-read titles that belong at the top of your reading pile.

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Top ten costume ideas for literary horror fans (a guest post)

Today we have Mark Gelineau, one of the authors of A Reaper of Stone (see my review a couple of posts back), and he has a fun Top 10 list for us. Checkitout! :)

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Howdy all. My name is Mark Gelineau and I, along with my writing partner Joe King, are Gelineau and King. We are two long-time friends and the authors of the Echoes of the Ascended series.

We are releasing a novella a month. Each of them takes place in the same fantasy world, but there are four different series. A Reaper of Stone is a classic, cavalier story. Our next book, Rend the Dark, coming October 15, is a dark fantasy/horror adventure, perfect for the Halloween season.

Leah here at White Sky was kind enough to offer me a spot for a guest blog, and so I thought, in the spirit of the season, I would put forward some fun costume ideas. But let’s be honest. When it comes to horror, movies tend to get the lion’s share of representation in the costume department. So here, I wanted to offer up some costumes specifically for the LITERARY horror lover. Check them out.

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Special Sale & Reader Giveaway: Dark Innocence by Rahima Warren

Dark Innocence

Today we’re featuring Dark Innocence, book 1 in the Star-Seers’ Prophecy trilogy, by author Rahima Warren. I’m a real sucker for fantasy and I couldn’t pass this one up, especially since the series has been compared to works by J.R.R. Tolkien and Ursula Leguin. I mean, holy crap, I’m curious.

Anyway, I’m going to be posting a review, but not today. Today, I have a guest post by Rahima Warren about how to evoke a fantasy world. I’ve always been fascinated by the world-building ability of great fantasy writers, so I really enjoyed this post by the author. I hope you enjoy it, too.

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A guest post about massage, its history and techniques

Carpet Head and I love getting massages. Actually, he’s the one who’s more into it and I just can’t say no most of the time. Lucky for us, there’s a home spa service in our area so it’s quite easy to schedule hour-long sessions anytime. It’s inexpensive and convenient, and, besides, we have this aromatherapy peppermint spray that we can just spritz around to re-create that nice, minty spa ambiance. But, sometimes, when we feel like it or on special occasions, we treat ourselves and go to an actual spa.

So why am I talking about this? Because today we have a guest post about massage! Read on to know just a tad bit more about the history and techniques of massage therapy.

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Guest Post: Important Investments that Can Help Freelancers Boost their Business

These days, it’s not just enough that you have a typewriter and impeccable grammar in order to become successful in freelance writing. At some point in our career, we need to invest on things in order to grow.

And when it comes to investing, the first thing that you need to learn is that it is a continuous and ever-changing process. It is just like filling your car with gasoline. Yes, the petrol that you poured can take you to faraway places, but you need to refill your tank again after sometime. You need to learn a new writing skill in order to satiate your readers, and you might even need to upgrade some of your gadgets. In this post, you’ll learn about the essential things that freelancers should invest in to boost their craft and their business.

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Guest Post: 5 Reasons why Reading a Book Brings Peace

Reading is a personal pursuit, so we each pick up books for different reasons. For most people, entertainment is one of the primary takeaways from reading a good book. But there are other reasons why people read; furnishing a host of benefits for individuals inspired to peruse their favorite titles.

Whether you are on a quest for deeper meaning, or simply out for a leisurely read, personal pleasure and gratification are strong inspiration for taking-in text. We all strive to feel better in life, and books support our pursuits. We don’t always know – or need to know – exactly why we crack a book, but our motivation remains interesting nonetheless.

Bridging the gap between the demands of daily life and our potential to see beyond them; reading brings peace to readers as they explore new ideas and unique forms of expression. Why does reading change our perspective in this way?

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Guest Post: The Ultimate Guide to Being a Kick-ass Girlfriend/Wife

And just like that it’s been a month since Carpet Head and I got hitched.

Truth be told, nothing much has changed just yet. Of course, I’m now living at the hubby’s place but 95% of my stuff is still at my sister’s and my place. It’s like I’m just hanging out here at the apartment 24/7. LOL. Of course, I have to do a bit of house work and stuff. Hate it. And to think, years ago when I was still at my old corporate job I wanted to be a housewife. HAH. It’s all good. I actually like cooking experimenting but I haven’t felt like doing any of that yet. Maybe soon when we’re more settled.

For today, here’s a guest post for you by freelance writer Cass Stewart. Enjoy!

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The Ultimate Guide to Being a Kick-ass Girlfriend/Wife

by Cass Stewart

We’ve all been there at one stage in our lives -when the ‘girlfriend envy’ takes over. You’ve gone over to a couple’s gorgeous home, the girlfriend has prepared an incredible meal, the table is set looking like a page in a magazine, the house is spic and span and the boyfriend is staring lovingly at his carefree, fun and beautiful girlfriend. How does she do it all?! How does she have it all?! I can’t go an hour without losing my temper if the toilet seat has ‘somehow’ been left up or there are towels on the bathroom floor. I picture what miss perfect girlfriend would do in this situation and cringe at the very obvious differences. But I soon come to the realization that sometimes perfect is boring – there’s a difference between being a kick-ass girlfriend and being miss perfect. After sitting and thinking about it over a few days, I’ve come up with (what I think) is the perfect recipe for being a kick-ass girlfriend/wife. Sit back, relax, and soak it all in!

Be independent

For the majority of men, nothing is more attractive than an independent woman. Financially, it’s wonderful to be with a girl who can make it on her own – that pampering her and taking her out for dinners is an added bonus but not a necessity. Also having her own friends and social life is a huge plus, so when the time comes when he says he’s having a ‘guy’s night’ she doesn’t need to sit at home and be miserable, sending him texts every 5 minutes. Bottom line? She doesn’t need her hand to be held every second, she is strong and she can make her own decisions.

Be intelligent

Now you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to impress a guy but nothing is more unattractive than a girl (or anyone for that matter!) who cannot hold a decent conversation. Sure the bimbos may look great, but after a while guys need more substance and will get bored. Educate yourself – read more, write more, talk to different kinds of people and make sure to be open!

Pamper him

It’s a common misconception that guys should be the only ones doing the pampering. Of course it’s fun for them to see the huge smiles on our face when opening gifts, but sometimes they’d love to also be pampered and feel appreciated. If he’s into soccer, why not plan a world cup party for him and his friends including awesome food and decorations, plenty of beer and a list of your pick for the world cup winners? Sure he may laugh at you, but picking Barcelona to win because they have the hottest players isn’t such a stupid idea! You don’t need to spend a lot of money to show him that you appreciate him – just take time to figure out what it is that makes him ‘tick’ and plan your surprise around that!

Make and effort with his family and friends

A guys friends and family are super important to him. Sure they may drive you crazy at times, and you wish he wouldn’t spend so much time with them, but the fact of the matter is they’re here to stay – so you may as well try to make the best of the situation! Make an effort to chat to them and find out their interests – you never know, you may have more things in common than you think!
You see, you don’t need to be the perfect girl to be a kick ass girlfriend – don’t stress if you’re no Nigella Lawson in the kitchen, or keep your house tidy ALL the time – if you make an effort with the above list, your boyfriend or husband would definitely appreciate it!

Guest Contribution: Blogs to Look Out For in 2013

Hello, pretties. Here’s another guest contribution by writer Cass Brookes. I know, I know, this blog has been sadly neglected these days. I realize I won’t be able to post as often as usual because I have a lot on my mind, what with the wedding preps and all. If you want to contribute or guest post, feel free to email me, although bear in mind that I won’t be accepting every post. I’ve been getting a lot of those spammy guest post requests from dubious senders who don’t seem to have a clue what my blog is about. I’m sure you know what I mean. Anyway, enjoy this post! Have a great day! :)

Blogs to Look Out For in 2013

Despite what pundits say, the blog is far from dying out. We now live in a world where blogs have far outgrown their humble beginnings (Huffington Post). Bloggers get book deals (The Inky Fool), and blogging itself has become a career. Here’s a list of those who make the blogging world a great place to be.

What My Daughter Wore

Fashion blogs are everywhere. There are more blogs devoted to fashion than to any other subject. So, it’s refreshing to find one that isn’t simply picture after picture of a stylized young narcissist. Instead, What My Daughter wore captures the sartorial choice of Jenny Williams’ daughter and her friends in colourful and insightful hand-drawn portraits. Expect creative headwear and lots of graphic tees.

20-nothings

There have been a whole host of TV shows devoted to the pains of adolescence. But not so many devoted to the troubles of 20-somethings. Yes, growing up is hard, but not nearly as hard as life in your 20s. Jessie Rosen covers the predictable problems of body image, falling in love and relocating for work with a humility and sincerity that elevates the subject matter. She truly achieves her aim: “to remind you that you’re not alone.”

Dronestagram

Yes, you guessed correctly. Dronestagram is the Instagram for drone strikes. It’s a sobering subject that juxtaposes aerial photography of the attacked areas with details of number of deaths and degree of damage caused. Countries include Yemen and Pakistan and the posts are regularly updated with reports coming from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

101 Cookbooks

No list would be complete without a food blog. Almost as ubiquitous as the fashionistas, the foodies have some fantastically useful blogs which include in-depth restaurant reviews to budget recipes. Heidi Swanson, 101 Cookbooks’ creator, has been blogging for more than a decade and in that time has penned and photographed what amounts to one giant recipe rolodex. Expect food porn and hunger pangs.

Youwin

If you like to keep abreast of happenings in the sporting world, you can do worse than check out the Youwin blog. It combines the latest news with opinion pieces on sports from the UK and the rest of the world. And if you like your betting options to be in close proximity to the latest happenings then you’ve come to the right place.

The Inky Fool

Mark Forsyth, aka The Inky Fool, has carved himself more of a niche in the blogging market. A recently published author, with The Horologicon, he spends his time looking at the weird and wonderful thing that is the English language. Words that have fallen out of use, words whose meanings have been forgotten, and the origins of phrases – nothing escapes his playful eye.

News From Me

Mark Evanier’s blog bills itself as one ‘about TV, movies, theatre, comics, news, politics and other forms of fantasy’. Some of his most recent posts are however a recollection of his late father in which Evanier talks about his fledgling career as a writer and his father’s world class worrying amongst other things. The videos he posts are often inspirational and hilarious, and his writing has that subtle brand of humour that keeps you reading on.

Beer Labels in Motion

This Tumblr blog by Trevor Carmick does exactly what it says on the tin and transforms the artwork of beer bottles and cans into animated GIFs. Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch will snap and bark at you and Yeti’s Imperial Stout features Bigfoot himself wandering across the bottle. It’d all be enough to disorientate you after one too many but it’s more likely to get you involved in a conversation about just how he does it.

Guest Post: Personal Development by Kirrilee Johnston of Illumin8life

Today we have a post from Kirrilee Johnston of Illumin8life. Kirrilee was on last month’s Sponsor Spotlight and in today’s post she talks about what personal development means for her. 

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Personal Development

For many, Personal Development is the new buzz word, the new kid on the block, heralding the arrival of self help Guru’s and their cliches and words of wisdom, but for me Personal Development is a means in which to develop myself in any way I choose…personally.

I have for many years, since swapping the fun and carefree world of primary school to the more fraught and confusing time at high school,  been trying to figure myself out. Why do I do the things I do? Why do I think the things I think? and why do I react to things the way I do? I ask myself why, a lot. I am really curious as to why I behave and act as I do and how it might compare to an others behaviour, in the same situation. As a young person, I sought to change me, to become a better version of myself, the fun, out going, popular, full of life girl I though I needed to be, to journey happily through life, but as I got older I started to allow myself to just be myself and do the things that I enjoyed, the things that inspire me.

Now, as an adult fast approaching forty, I have well and truly come into my own and it’s no longer important for me to be anyone other than who I am, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to improve areas of myself and that is where Personal Development comes into the picture. There are a handful of areas I would like to improve, for instance I am overweight and overeat for a number of reasons. I use  Personal Development as a tool for me to discover the reasons behind why I overeat and why I use food for more than just fuel for my body. I journal about it, I think about it and I write down what comes up for me. Before I know it, I have some understanding as to why I do as I do and I’m then able to find some different techniques and bahaviours I can implement in order to improve my situation.

I also love to use Personal Development to feel better. Sometimes we come across situations, people, opinions and comments which are darn right rude, wrong, insulting and limiting. If I find myself in these situations, I grab a book and read a chapter or two or I journal about the situation in order to find some clarity and to see where I might have been responsible for the situation and how I might have played it differently. This does two things… and fast! I am able to take the emotion out of the situation and look at it logically, which frees me to feel better and secondly, I can close the book on it, instead of rehashing it over and over in my mind, which only results in me feeling bad for longer. I had a situation come up today which could have left me despairing, yet I wrote about it; how I was feeling and how I contributed and how I might do things differently the next time and guess what? I feel awesome!!

So for me Personal Development IS the new buzz word and it allows me to be my own guru.

Why not personally develop yourself today?

This post first appeared on Illumin8life.

Guest Post and Interview: Ann Whitely-Gillen, author of Last Train to Omaha

Hiya, everyone! Today I have a guest post by author Ann Whitely-Gillen. In her post she talks about battling breast cancer and then writing her book Last Train to Omaha.

We also have an interesting Q&A with her where she tells us her favorite quotes, books, movies, among other things.

Check out this inspiring guest post and read more about Last Train to Omaha.
Enjoy! :)

Last Train to Omaha came about under extraordinary circumstances. Just over a year ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it certainly changed my life–but in many ways, for the better. After surgery, I was able to step back and take a good look at my life. Even with a wonderful husband and four fabulous children, I felt something more meaningful was missing something in my life. As I trudged through my hectic daily schedule something had been lost–me. Once I realized this, I put myself on a new path to be more of the person I was meant to be.

My road to recovery began when I started to write Last Train to Omaha. The characters in the book helped me rediscover myself. I also sought solace in their ability to overcome diversity with courage in their hearts and the peaceful resignation they achieved with the connections they all share. Each character represents a connection I’ve made in my life.

Through the eyes of James Milligan and his ensemble cast of supporting characters, we see that destiny is not only what life brings us–it’s about how life can be uniquely tailored simply by how we choose to respond to it.

I’d love to hear from you, feel free to email me at info@anngillenbooks.com

Annie

About Last Train to Omaha

After a horrific accident claims the life of his best friend at the age of eighteen, James Milligan is changed forever. For the next seventeen years, he lives as a ghost of his former self: shutting out those who love him most, navigating his life in a veil of solitude and drowning himself in anxiety and guilt.

When a chance encounter introduces him to Martin Diggs, an enigmatic war veteran, and palliative care nurse Rebecca Doyle, his life is changed irrevocably. Rebecca reignites emotions he thought he’d lost forever, and Martin challenges him to accept his shattering past and move forward.

Told with compassion and wisdom, Last Train to Omaha is the story of a broken man gaining the strength to let go of the crippling blame and doubt that plague him, pick up the pieces of his life and put them back together again.


If you could invite any five people to dinner who would you choose?
Morgan Freeman, Oprah, the Dali Lama, Robin Williams, and Dave Matthews.

Do you play an instrument? If so, what?
I’ve been a musician most of my life. I play the drums and I’m a vocalist as well.

Red or white wine?
Red – no question about it!

Did you ever think you would become an author?
I never thought about being an author rather a screenwriter or actress. It turns out becoming an author was in the cards all along–but I’m still working on the screenplay aspect of my career.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
My main character James Milligan suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so I had to look into that quite a bit, but the anxiety component of PTSD came to me quite easily because my best friend growing up suffered from severe anxiety and I experienced the signs and symptoms very well. I became an expert. I too, suffered from panic attacks growing up so I could really tap in to James.

I had to do quite a bit of research on geography, particularly that I’ve never travelled to South East Asia. But the most interesting part of the research for me was going through hours and hours of documentaries on the Vietnam War. I’m fascinated with that time.

What is the one book everyone should read?
Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence. He is my literary hero. I’ve read that book at least a dozen times. Oh, and Last Train to Omaha :0)

What are your favorite quotes?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” ― Marilyn Monroe

We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen. ― D.H. Lawrence

Do you prefer print books or e-books?
I love the feel of a tangible book in my hands.

Where is the one place in the world that you would really like to visit one day?
The Amalfi Coast, Italy.

What is your favorite food to snack on while writing?
I’m pretty sure I kept Pepperidge Farm afloat by the amount of Goldfish crackers I consumed writing Last Train to Omaha. :0)

What is your favorite movie?
I’m a total film buff. Again, too many to list so I will give you three out of my top ten: The Third Man, All About Eve, and Saving Private Ryan.

What’s the hardest part of the writing process for you?
For me it was editing. My book was over four hundred pages when I finished the first draft so it took a lot of work to streamline it without cutting out any of the key elements.

Out of all of your characters which is your favorite and why?
Out of my main characters, I’d have to say Martin Diggs (I always saw Morgan Freeman as this character while writing his dialogue). He is just so incredibly humble and gracious–not to mention incredibly smart and witty. Out of the supporting cast, I would say most definitely Frank Kenney because he was fearless, funny, and so incredibly grounded.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha and it’s quite the challenge but I’m up for it. I’m also sketching out other ideas for my second novel. Many people have come to me about writing a sequel to Last Train to Omaha–I’m not sure, but every day the idea is growing on me more and more.

Ann Whitely-Gillen resides in Ottawa, Canada, where she is a full-time communications advisor and freelance writer. Ann lives with her husband and four children, who she loves to spend time with along with their family dog. In her leisure time, Ann can be found watching an indie film, reading a good book, or singing with her acoustic band.

Ann has always wanted to write a screenplay and, in fact, Last Train to Omaha started out with that in mind. After forty pages of writing, Ann turned the screenplay into a novel, as she wanted to delve deeper into James Milligan’s journey and enrich the ensemble cast of characters. Ann’s next project is to write the screenplay for Last Train to Omaha, her debut novel, so stay tuned!

Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Prescription for Delirium (Van Helsing Organization #1) by Noree Cosper

Please enjoy this guest post (titled Voodoo vs Hoodoo) by author Noreen Cosper and read an excerpt from her new release A Prescription for Delirium (Van Helsing Organization #1).

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway on this blog! :)

About the book

Ninety years ago, Gabriella di Luca promised to protect the family of her dying lover. She failed to keep that promise. She was too far away to stop the devil that murdered the eldest Van Helsing son. Years later, Gabby learns the devil has resurfaced. She arrives in Hampton, TX, determined to stop the devil before it can lay a bloody hand on the remaining three brothers.

However, madness is spreading through Hampton. She suspects the devil is using this madness to test a drug which has a side effect of demonic possession. Gabby rushes to end the source of the madness only to fall victim to it. For a woman cursed with eternal life, dying is no threat. However, Gabby must stop the devil’s plot or risk losing her most precious possession: her mind.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

 

Guest Post

Voodoo vs Hoodoo

by Noree Cosper

Little burlap dolls, black candles, whispered chants. These are some of the images that come to mind when Voodoo or Hoodoo is mentioned.  Many believe that Hoodoo and Voodoo are the same. Both have roots in Africa and are made up of mixed beliefs including pagan traditions, ancient worship, and elements of European religions. Though they have several similarities, they are really different.

In actuality, Voodoo is an actual religion and institution with established practices like religious leaders, teaching, and services or rituals. Voodoo invokes the power of the loas (spirits), the African gods and, deities. It is not connected to any other religion. The specific term for a Voodoo practitioner is a Vodouisant. Voodoo is not just a religion but a culture and a way of life.

Hoodoo, on the other hand, adheres to no organized religion and is considered folk magic. In fact, practitioners use both the loas and the religious saints of Catholicism as well as spiritualism. Hoodoo actually developed because those who practiced wanted to hide its African origins. Most of the population, who was largely Christian, considered the worship pagan and therefore bad. Practitioners see Hoodoo as a sort of personal power. The magic is based on inclinations, desires, interests, and habits. They access the loas, gods, and other supernatural forces in order to bring changes, good or ill, in peoples’ lives. It focuses on the magic and the benefits it can bring.

So, in short, Voodoo is a way of life while Hoodoo can be more of a hobby.

Giveaway

One random commenter on this blog will win an e-book copy of A Prescription for Delirium! Just leave a comment and way for me to contact you. This giveaway will run for the entire duration of the tour.

There is also a tour-wide giveaway for a printed copy of the book plus swag! Visit the tour page to enter.

About the Author

Noree Cosper loves writing about magic in the modern world. While growing up in Texas she constantly searched for mystical elements in the mundane. She buried her nose in both fiction and books about Wicca, Religion, and Mythology. Everyday became an adventure as she joined a group of role-players, acting out her fantasies of vampires, demons, and monsters living in the world. She embraced her nerdom wholeheartedly. Noree grew, but never left her love for fantasy and horror. Her dreams pushed her and her hand itched to write the visions she saw. So, with her fingers on the keys, she did what her heart had been telling her to do since childhood. She wrote.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

Hampton, TX, Present Day
Not five minutes in this backwater town and I had a demon sniffing my trail. He scanned the room with the nostrils of his wide nose flaring. His hair lay plastered against his forehead in greasy brown locks. He towered over everyone, even the people standing, as he squeezed between the large round tables and the gathering at the bar. The frayed threads of his jeans and his leather vest matched the dress of the rest of the roadhouse.

I lifted my drink to my mouth and shifted to my second sight. Most people say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Those people can’t see auras. The lights on the walls dimmed, and the air took on a gray haze, like seeing things under water. Colors bloomed out from each human in the building, blending together in a rainbow. The demon was another matter.

The shaggy black dog the size of a pony stood semi-imposed on all fours over the form of the man. Flames blazed from its eyes as it scanned the room. Was there really a dog walking through a busy Texas bar? No. Demons had no corporeal form and had to possess physical bodies. This one chose a werewolf. Dio, I had a hellhound on my ass.

Talk about bad timing. Ose already had some of his minions patrolling. If it found me, it would go running to its master to let him know I was in town. My hunt was in danger of ending before it even started.

Breathe, Gabby.

I leaned forward and let my black curtain of hair obscure my face. The lid of the salt shaker twisted off in my empty hand and I knocked it over, allowing the grains to spill on the floor. The salt should cover my scent. I slid closer to the group at the next table until I looked like I belonged with them.

One of the men grinned at me, his aura a happy yellow orange. “Hey babe.”

I nodded and raised my glass, but kept my gaze on the hellhound. He paused at a man at the bar who had caught my attention, or more his aura did. A ghostly image of a woman leaned over him, whispering in his ear. My hand tightened around the beer mug, but the mutt moved on. I relaxed. The colors around the people in the bar faded, as did the ghost woman when my sight returned to normal. The haze remained, more from cigarette smoke. I turned my head to the front of the bar. One window and one door were not much of an escape route. Fifty feet of inebriated patrons stood between me and freedom.

Two of the three men I had been waiting for walked through the door. A familiar tingle ran down my spine. For a moment, I flashed back to a dressing room, staring down another Romanian hunter. We’d come across the same prey, though he thought it was a vampire. I inhaled, bringing myself back to the present. This wasn’t the twenties, I wasn’t in Paris, and these brothers weren’t Dimitri.

Both had his chiseled features and his straight nose, though their hair was more of a burnt sienna. The one in front wore his cut short and had a tuft on his chin. He towered over his brother, which meant he would be a mountain compared to my small height. The other kept his hair tucked behind his ears. He stood with his arms crossed, wearing a smirk to let the world know he knew everything.

They cast their eyes over the room. The tall one adjusted the glasses on his face and approached the man sitting at the bar. Several women watched them as they passed. A smile touched my lips. The boys knew how to dress to make an impression. Their leather coats and slacks spoke of sophistication yet still provided enough flexibility to move if needed.

I stood and nodded at the boys who’d been trying to talk to me. Rude, but it was time to work. Besides, they were too young for me. I straightened my red tank top and brushed any wrinkles from my jeans. I couldn’t approach them looking like a guttersnipe. A stool opened up on the other side of them. I took the seat and tried to look casual while listening in on the brothers’ conversation. The bartender stood in front of me, waiting for an order.

I pointed to a beer and leaned back to get a better look at the third man. His back remained mostly to me, giving me a glimpse of his bearded cheek and a ponytail a shade darker in color than the other two. Brother number three. I inched forward to hear better over someone’s bad rendition of “Bad Moon Rising.”

“Ader.” The tall man spoke in Romanian. “Your prison sentence hasn’t ended yet.”
“I got out for being brilliant,” the man at the bar said without turning around.
“Does the warden know that?” the third one asked.

If I remembered correctly, this generation of Van Helsings had four boys. Adam, the oldest, had passed away ten years ago. So that left Esais, Adrian, and Tres. The smirking boy had to be Tres he looked the youngest. Was Ader short for Adrian? Ader chuckled. “The warden didn’t have much of a say.”

Esais, the tall one, pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes. He shook his head, letting out a long sigh as he looked at his brothers.

“Honestly,” he said. “First you end up in jail, and now you’re breaking out. You haven’t changed.”
“You expected me to?” Adrian asked.
“Why are you here?” Esais asked.
“Same reason as you. Revenge.”
Tres crossed his arms. “Why do you even care? You were never around when we needed you.”

Adrian turned to face his brothers, causing both of them to gasp. A patch covered his right eye while the other stared hard at Tres. Esais reached out to touch Adrian’s arm, but he pulled away.

“What happened?” Esais asked.
“Not important.” Adrian turned back to the bar. “Who were you told to meet?”
“A woman named Gabriella Di Luca.”
“Any idea what this woman looks like?”

Esais glanced in my direction with hesitation and opened his mouth.

I cleared my throat, raising my hand in a small wave. “Buna seara.”

Adrian and Tres turned their heads with near identical expressions of distrust. They didn’t expect someone to speak their native language here. I was a stranger invading their family circle.

“Who are you?” Adrian asked.
“Gabriella.”
“Convenient.” The word dripped with sarcasm.

We didn’t have time for this. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My gaze traveled to the table-filled area further in the room. The hellhound’s wiry form had disappeared through a large door to the right. The atrocious singing wafted through there. This would be a perfect time to exit.

“We need to speak, but not here,” I said.
“We’re not going anywhere with you.”
“Ader,” Esais said.
Adrian looked back at his brother. “We have no proof she is who she claims to be.”
“He’s right. You could be a demon,” Tres said.
“Then you already revealed yourselves with your conversation,” I said. “Look, how much do you know of demons?”
“I’ve read several books on the subject,” Esais said. “That question doesn’t answer our doubts.”
“Do I fit the description you were given?”

Esais adjusted his glasses before nodding.

“Then, can we leave? I may not be one, but there is a demon here.”

Two turned their heads, their muscles tensing as they scanned the bar while Adrian kept his eye on me. The hellhound stepped back into the room and turned his head in my direction. His gaze locked on me, and he began shoving his way through the crowded tables and chairs.

I stood. “Too late.”

Inspiring destinations for writers (a guest post)

Hey, guys! We all know that finding inspiration for writing isn’t always easy. As an article writer, I sometimes find it hard to write about random topics. I mean, when you have to write about random stuff like medical equipment suppliers, college applications, custom paint jobs or custom made church chairs, it can be hard to make it an inspired article. For articles like these, I just try to imagine what would make a reader enjoy these articles and find inspiration in being able to share interesting information to readers.

Today I have this guest post from the guys over at The Cruise Web. We know traveling to new places can be a great source of inspiration, so here they have some ideas for inspiring destinations for writers.

Inspiring destinations for writers
By Erica Kritt, The Cruise Web Team

Inspiration can come from anywhere. It can come from a quote you see on a website. It can come from a picture of your great aunt Sue from the 1920s. It can come from your crazy co-worker who is obsessed with parrots. Many writers and artistic people seek their inspiration from faraway cultures and lands. This is why travel is so important to the creative process. If you seek to use a destination as your inspiration, traveling to that destination will be worth its weight in gold. You could walk in the footsteps of your muse, go to a cultural celebration like Carnival in Rio, and taste the authentic tastes of the region.

Here is a list of three destinations that might be just the perfect inspiration for your next novel, documentary or fashion show.

1. Machu Picchu – Situated on the top of a Peruvian mountain this ancient Incan city is shrouded in mystery. The structure of the city still stands, but it’s unclear what the buildings were used for and who exactly lived there centuries ago. That’s where you come in. What a great starting point for a novel reimagining the times when this city wasn’t a tourist attraction, it was a place of magic and wonder.

2. Hong Kong – Hong Kong has an interesting background. It can be considered the spot where east meets west. From 1841 to 1997 this Chinese territory was officially under British rule. Now the residents of Hong Kong are Chinese citizens once more. However, western influences remain making Hong Kong a unique blend of cultures. What a perfect place to set an intriguing story.

3. Vienna, Austria – Classical masters like Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms all spent significant time in Vienna. This beautiful, ornate city boasts a strong history of artistic freedom. Travel to Vienna on a river cruise to learn about the music that came from this city and experience this center of creativity at places like the Burgtheater and the Wiener Musikverein (concert hall). You might even want to “slip” some Freudian influences into your story.

Now what destination would inspire you? Or, rather, where would you like to visit in hopes of being inspired?

Erica Kritt works at The Cruise Web. The Cruise Web is a travel agency that specializes in cruising. The expert cruise consultants focus on providing travelers with the best value for their time and money in finding and booking a cruise vacation!