What Would You Sacrifice?

What Would You Sacrifice? Your Wealth? Your Life?

What About Your Soul?

Protect the Innocent. Punish the Guilty. 

It’s Almost Here! The Obsidian Gates (Book Two: Heart of The Warrior) comes out in print on November 17th!  Stay tuned to DTJ or sign up for my newsletter for updates on the book tour, giveaways and author interviews.

Back Cover:

A new series from award winning Author, C.R. Richards: The epic tale continues. A new covenant has been forged in the chaos of war. Its price is nothing less than the Bearer of the Lion Ring’s soul.

The rivalry for dominance over the continent of Andara has taken a dark turn. Eternal enemies – the Jalora and the Sarcion – pit their forces against one another in bloody battle. Good weakens, betrayed by the very humans it has sworn to protect. Valdeon, its stronghold on Andara, falls to sword and flame. The fires of its destruction are set alight by barbaric invaders from across the sea. Their brutal hand conquers the land in a night, exiling the Lords of Valdeon – Sacred Guard of the Covenant. Cut off from the center of their power, the Jalora’s greatest heroes are helpless to defend their homeland.

Hope still lingers. Seth D’Antoiné, Bearer of the Lion Ring, journeys to the great Obsidian Citadel seeking a magical relic, the Book of Ancients. Its power could hold the key to Andara’s defense. He alone can open its pages, sparking the magic into life and restoring the Jalora’s waning power. Finding the book won’t be easy. Elusive Obsidian Gates – appearing and then vanishing again by their own will – keep the secret of the book’s location well hidden.

In the depths of the mountain fortress, he finds treachery and intrigue hiding within its walls. Can Seth open the Book of Ancients before the Sarcion’s men find him? Or will the power of Good leave the land forever? Andara’s future awaits behind the Obsidian Gates…

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

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The Obsidian Gates – Chapter One Excerpt

Silver ribbons from a lonely moon fell in tatters through the fog about the docks. Their thin fabric touched the surface of dark water as it slapped against rotting wood. Nature’s other voices had been silenced this night, as if Erthe was holding its breath. Julian D’Antoiné wrapped his cloak tighter about his body against the chill of an islander autumn night. He too felt the horrible anticipation as he waited for the heavy axe of war to fall.

A lone pillar stood broken amongst the cold waves. It was a testament of simpler times before airships and industry had come to these little islands. He gritted his teeth as another bit of metal from the abandoned dock struck the wood with a hollow thump. Storming toward his personal albatross, he gripped the man’s arm as he was about to throw another noisy projectile.

“We’re trying to avoid detection, Marcellus, not announce our presence to these Grey Cliff Islander bumpkins.”

“We wait in the darkness for a filthy thief with no honor.” Marcellus De Costa turned incredulous eyes upon him. “Why trust this mercenary scum, my lord prince? You have loyal men who could see the job done.”

He raised a hand again to toss the bit of metal, noticed Julian’s glare and then placed it carefully atop a pillar. The deep, ill-formed indentation in his cheek paled to a sickening gray under the moonlight. Marcellus was a rabid dog. His own father had tried to put him down. Julian, at the Sarcion’s wish, had saved him from public stoning. It was Marcellus’ thirst for power, rather than gratitude, which kept him by Julian’s side.

“Our friend can’t resist the smell of money.”

“And what of Valdeon? The people need their prince to lead them when the storms of war come.”

Julian slammed a fist against the rotting wood of the railing. “The Lion Ring is the key to Valdeon’s salvation.”

His Akutarian allies had come to Andara’s shores promising Julian aid in taking the throne. Their lust for the continent’s resources and wealth hadn’t become clear until their Emperor had sent his general to oversee Valdeon’s conquest. Lord Gorman was impatient to spill Andarian blood. If Julian didn’t find the whelp who bore their father’s ring soon, it would be Gorman upon the throne.

Hatred tightened around his heart in a painful embrace as he thought of the half-breed boy. A child of two ancient enemies, he was an abomination. No one would embrace his reign. Rather, he’d be given a painful death by an angry mob. It would be a kindness on Julian’s part to kill the boy quickly, instead.

“You have left your ship against Lord Gorman’s orders, Andarian.”

Two Jackal warriors stepped from the ruins of an abandoned boathouse. Julian took an involuntary step away from their gruesome visages. Blood encrusted braids fell across battle worn armor. The odor of their unwashed bodies drowned the stench of discarded fish entrails and stale brine. Teeth, yellow with age and neglect, escaped the confines of cracked lips as they grinned.

One of the Jackal warriors, a man with an empty left eye socket, stepped forward. He extended his hand palm up and began tapping the tips of his fingers together. Julian understood their culture well enough to know that they reserved the gesture for calling wayward harlots in their brothels.

“Why do you linger here? Guilt? No. I think not.”

“My vessel is in need of minor repairs. I have no interest in hovering over the crew as they perform menial tasks.”

“No doubt they were happy to be rid of you.” He turned toward his comrade. “Go. Inform Lord Gorman our wayward dog likes to roam when he’s off leash. I will stay with the Andarian’s ship until he reaches San Leonora.”

Obeying with surprising discipline for a barbarian, he left them as soundlessly as he’d arrived. Wrapped in armor and weapons, the Jackal warriors were infamous for their stealth and lust for blood. They were brutal killers who took joy in violence. Working in packs like their namesake, the Jackal were expert predators. Though he refused to tolerate their disgusting taunts, Julian took great care not to push them too far.

“Lord Gorman knew you’d try to go back on your word, prince of nothing. He told me to watch you like I would a cornered beast hiding in the darkness. Murdering your own kin for a trinket. I would say you were more of a vulture who should have its neck snapped.”

Then the man’s remaining eye went wide. Blood dribbled from his open mouth. He dropped to filthy knees and onto the gray boards of the dock. Marcellus stood over the body, knife steaming with the man’s blood.

“You should have listened to your lord.” He spat atop the body.

The mad fool had just signed his own death warrant. Lord Gorman had a disturbing way of knowing the desires in a man’s heart. One glare into Marcellus’ crazed eyes and the Jackal General would see what he’d done. Watching the euphoria upon his murderous companion’s face, Julian wondered if exposing the deed would be of benefit. Lord Gorman would most certainly kill him, leaving Julian with one less burden.

“What foul stench plagues us? It turns the stomach.”

Light burst from a lantern, removing their blanket of secrecy. Its owner leaned against the remains of a boathouse with arms folded and an amused look upon his face. The devil only knew how long he’d been watching them. Short blond hair bristled atop a sunburned scalp. Bronze pierced his ears in long rows of loops. A dull brown cloak hung over his loose-fitting trousers. Its filthy hem brushed at the rim of worn leather boots.

Known for stealth almost as much as for greed, mercenaries were the nomads of Andara. They held no allegiance to anything except wealth. His impertinence was no surprise.

“You’re late, Cutter.” Julian stepped around the filthy body to join him at the edge of the light. “I should think you’d be on time for the large sum I’m paying you.”

Cutter shrugged and rubbed at the dirty blond stubble on his scarred chin. “You said you were interested in the boy. If you’d rather I come to hold hands with you in the dark, so be it.”

“You know where he is?”

“He escaped Marianna on a cargo airship. They’ll land here on Larkspur soon. I have men waiting on the docks.” Cutter let the greedy smile cross his face. “So many men to feed and arm. It may take a few extra coins to see the job done.”

“Do you think I care about the cost?” Julian shoved a dagger under his chin. “Listen well. Find the boy. He has a ring I want. Cut it off his hand if necessary once you’ve killed him. Bring the ring to me in Valdeon within three days’ time or I’ll send my new friends to fetch you.”

Julian waved his hand toward the shadows. A shroud broke away from the darkness and floated toward them. The Dirge hovered beside the corpse. Lowering its head like a hungry animal, it sniffed and grunted toward the abandoned flesh. Gray-skinned fingers wagged anxiously toward its bloodied prize.

“My Dirge is going to accompany you to find the boy. It will keep you true to your word.” Julian grinned as Cutter paled and took a step away from the creature. “If I may offer a word of advice? Don’t come between it and a meal.”

Julian nodded at the Dirge and turned away when it pounced upon the body. Chewing flesh and bone, the creature began to devour its feast. Raw, frenzied hunger drove the Dirge to near madness as it ate. They were difficult to control at the best of times. Bloodshed turned them feral.

“You’d better hurry, Cutter. This body should sate its hunger for a few days, but I can’t promise the creature won’t turn feral if you’re delayed.”

“You’ve made your point,” Cutter said, disgust upon his face. “I think I’ve been properly motivated to kill this boy of yours.”

Julian pushed past Cutter, leaving him to stare unabashedly at the feasting Dirge. Money was an excellent motivator for most, but no one could stand against the fear of certain death. He took a happier pace across the rotting docks. The Lion Ring would soon be upon his finger. Lord Gorman hadn’t secured the throne of Valdeon quite yet.

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

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Are You in The Mood for The Spooky Season? My List of Horror Must Reads

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Crisp Autumn air. Falling burnt orange leaves. Pumpkin spice everything. October is here. Halloween is right around the corner. It’s time to forget the abundance of Summer and embrace the macabre. The Spooky Season is more than a month on the calendar. It’s a state of mind. Here is a list of Horror Must Reads to get you in the spirit:

My List of Classics Before 1970

@Demian – Stock.Adobe.Com

  • The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  • Dracula – Bram Stoker
  • Frankenstein – Mary Shelley
  • The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
  • The Tell-Tale Heart – Edgar Allan Poe
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury
  • The Turn of The Screw – Henry James

My List of Modern Must Reads:

  • Still Life with Crows – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs
  • Cabinet of Curiosities – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Childs
  • Hell House – Richard Matheson
  • The Shining – Stephen King
  • The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  • The Supernaturals: A Ghost Story – David Lynn Goleman

Boo Alert – Don’t Forget to enter my Spooky Season Sweepstakes! Enter by Midnight, October 27th for a chance to win 1 or 3 EBook copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One: Heart of The Warrior).

Rafflecopter Giveaway Link

The Spooky Season Is Upon Us!

I love all things Halloween. October 2017 on DTJ is going to be a ghoulishly good time!

Scary posts to get you in the spooky mood

Big Announcement – The Obsidian Gates (Book Two – Heart of The Warrior series) release dates and excerpts

Spooky Season Sweepstakes – Enter to win 1 of 3 E-Book copies of The Lords of Valdeon (Book One – Heart of The Warrior series)

Hold onto your Trick or Treat masks and join me for a hauntingly good time.

A Halloween Story – The Dirt Room

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[Halloween-art.com]

Folks have asked me where my inspiration for fantasy comes from and I tell them about my grandma. Visiting her house was like visiting the gates of Otherworld. She’d tell us stories about the gnomes and other magical creatures. Often we’d wake up in the morning to find candy in our shoes. Grandma would assure us the pixies had filled them with sweet treats during the night.

The next question I’m usually asked?

You seem like such a nice lady. Where did the horror stuff come from?

I usually shrug and tell them how I’ve always loved ghost stories. Writing dark fantasy is a great way for me to share wonderful spine tingling tales. It also allows me to explore the darker side of human nature. Then I started gathering ideas for this blog post and a repressed memory bubbled to the surface.

My grandmother’s house (built in the late 1920’s and made out of copper) rests at the mouth of Bingham Canyon in the little town of Copperton, UT. Once consisting of several little mining towns – including Galena Gulch and Highland Boy Mines – Bingham Canyon was eventually gobbled up by the Kennecott Copper Mine. The land was once home to several miners. If you ask me, they never left.

I still remember the narrow stairs descending from her kitchen to the backyard. Go left instead of right and you’d find yourself headed down into every kid’s nightmare. Some of you may be old enough to remember your own grandmother’s house. Do you recall the grumbling roar of those furnaces or the hiss of steam heat coming from the radiator pipes in each room?

Her basement was best avoided, but sometimes we’d have no choice. Grandma would send us down to her wash room for one errand or another. Braving the hollow sounds of my shoes striking the stairs, I’d descend toward the roar of the furnace. I remember the washroom and my uncle’s empty bedroom were painted a sickly mint green. Following the high gloss (and I’m sure lead-based) paint around the wash room, I’d head to my grandpa’s work bench.

Standing between me and my objective was a 3’ x 3’ door suspended in the very center of the wall. Reaching it required a ladder. Open the door and an unsettling darkness greeted you. Grandma called it the ‘dirt room’. I thought of it as the gates of hell. Every lost soul who’d ever passed through the mouth of the canyon could have stepped upon the dark earth in that room. I could feel them every time I went near that door.

Grandma passed away several years ago. Her children and grandchildren had the sad job of gathering her things. Somehow I got stuck with the basement and its Dirt Room. My flash light was a comfort as I climbed inside. The confident belief in “childhood fantasies have gone now that I’m grown up” vanished as soon as my feet hit the dirt. Utter darkness surrounded me, suffocating my courage. I clung to the only source of hope – the flash light.

Running the beam along the floor, I found old metal toys from the 40s and glass bottles from gawd only knows. Gathering as many as I could, I continued the search. Then my light hit them. Discarded doll heads. Not just any doll heads, but porcelain ones with the open and close eyes. You know. The ones that are usually possessed by a malevolent spirit.

Then the furnace roared. Something moved in the faint fringe of the flash light. I don’t know what it was. I don’t care what it was. Backing toward the door, I kept the beam in a protective circle about my legs. I crawled back out and shut the door. The house has new owners now. If they had any sense, they’d sheet rock over that door and forget it’s there.

Meanwhile upstairs in the light, the rest of the clan had been busy. Imagine my giddy excitement when my mother showed us the two intact porcelain dolls she’d found in the hidey hole above my grandma’s closet! A Shirley Temple doll and a Roxie doll (named for my grandma’s other daughter who’d passed away as a child). Both of them had those blinky demon possessed eyes. Shiver. My mother had them refurbished and still displays them by her bedside. I believe her plan is to leave them to one of her granddaughters. Maybe they can terrify a new generation?

So what childhood terror do you still carry around? Besides clowns I mean. Everybody hates clowns. Snakes maybe? Bugs? A deceased relative’s painted face in a casket? Leave your answer in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

Happy Halloween!

Witchy Week: The Season of the Witch

Witchy Week continues with my special guest, Guenivere. Thank you for joining us and sharing your creative process. And check out the pendants! Gorgeous.

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I love everything about Halloween! The fall leaves, the wind that chills your bones. The earth opens its dwellings to the warmth of little creatures and preparation for the turning of the season. The trees let go of their leaves and hold strong to the wind and cold. I feel the cold ground, at my feet as I look up into the sky, I watch for the winds of change to guide me. I wait for Luna to illuminate my view. The season of the witch is once again upon me. Different from the season before for my focus this year is a creative endeavor.

I like to create, love to dress up and feel the familiarity of a costume. Not only the interactions of trick or treaters, forming in the streets. People gather, they dance, sing, eat food and entertain children. You will always see a witch costume. She is always represented. The old woman, the crone. In history and urban myth from long ago. So many representations, but my focus for now is to learn the groundwork that calls to me personally.

For myself, the idea of the witch can today still tap into the ideas of each one of us, especially of course, as a solitary practitioner. The ways in which we learn how to help, to heal, to work together and most fortunate to learn the mysteries of connection in life and survive earthly ways. Just think if our conscious understood wholeheartedly that we are just like trees interconnected to each other constantly. Like an ocean wave, just Imagine.

Our herstory as womyn, our community involvement “She” has and can be the holder of community secrets. “She” has been seen as many things, the ebb and flow can be expressed in universal connection with some of the oldest of our origins written and existing knowledge.
 Root work, Shaman work, Medicine womyn of the community all the way to Ayurvedic practitioners to Homeopathic or Acupuncturists today.

The witch, can also express aspects of who we are as women in earthly realms.
 How we create, in image2the kitchen, in the garden, in our health, in our world and
relationships. Who was known “to stand tall” in community? To speak, for natural
 law? To farm and work with the environment and her seasonal changes to live, to 
survive with loved ones. These ideas about cycles of life is represented here with the turning of the wheel and eight celebrations of the year.

image3The woman that circles in the background of every herstorical aspect in our earthly time, the moon. She is always with us and constantly influencing. This pendant shows the crescent moon with a fire opal’s star created and dancing alongside her.

More amulets that “came up” in the beginnings of this study were created for the purpose of design and use as a tool. A wand, a first tool in drawing, mixing and calling forth purpose. For myself wands bring such young energy of growing up, imagining the possibilities of the dream. Witches write symbols to protect and charge the representations of beliefs and ideas. What tools were created? What would
 the altar look like, how does it function? It is a big borderless beautiful
 subject in front of me. So I ask and listen, beginning with some items close
 to me. A chalice unearthed from long ago, representation of womyn, water
 the west and ever flowing survivalist. This chalice is broken image4and scarred but 
still holds water. Made as an amulet for traveling altars, my favorite symbol to recreate so far.

Another strong representation of our divine purpose and power was documenting that wisdom. Giving the wisdom life as knowledge through spoken word and birthed itself in cuneiform work. We will need a writing instrument! I loved the challenge of chisel and hammer to create a quill feather, I intentionally set this pendant to the left before I learned the feather actually came from the left wing. Specifically made for the right handed.

For myself, I have found in my spiritual studies they especially like the left. For example, two left hands on deities to show “source”, let’s say. Me as a growing being, writing left handed I had finally felt welcomed. In the spirit of, automatically connecting to “source” as soon as the pen is put to paper, this pendants setting was chosen to constantly dance to write, moving in the air. So inspiring for me!

image5Constant learning to express myself through silversmithing. When I work, I feel and understand the energy, easier sometimes than the trickyness of alchemy in metal. The use and metaphysical properties of the stone. Finding the energy and study of the idea I want to express, is pure creation for me. Sometimes I simply create homes for stones. Other times the energy comes forth and teaches me, shows me definition of symbolism strengthening my intuition to listen, design. I learn my craft, spirit and matter work together and sometimes I can create a dream into reality. I want to express symbols that stand the test of time and I hope you may recognize today. I hope I have inspired you with my journey.

You can view more of my work online at https://squareup.com/store/queniveresjewelry

Many blessings to you and your witchy path.
 Like rising tide to the moon, merry meet and merry meet again!

 

Witchy Week: Najah Lightfoot

Welcome to Witchy Week!

The Spooky Season is filled with images of gnarled old witches with big hats and even bigger noses. They’re plastered across bags of Halloween candy. The stores are filled with sparkly witch costumes and green face makeup. I shake my head as I pass by the aisle. How did we come to caricature an entire group? I blame Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

We have witches among us today. The ones I’ve met look nothing like the cartoon candy bag characters. They are ordinary people walking a different path. So what is it like to be a real life witch? I’ll let the experts tell you in their own words. My first guest is Najah Lightfoot.

 

Hail and Welcome DTJ readers!

I’m excited to share my thoughts during DTJ’s Witchy Week. I’d like to thank C.R. Richards for this wonderful opportunity.

A bit about me: I am Contributing Author for Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing. I write for the Spell-A-Day, Witches’ Companion, Magical Almanac and Witches’ Datebook series. In short I am a practicing Witch, living my Craft one day at time, as the Wheel turns.

As with all lovers of this Season, I enjoy the cooler temperatures, falling leaves, the gorgeous Harvest full moon, and the chance to wear my Witchy clothes. I enjoy decorating my home in the spirit and fun of Halloween. I look forward to attending Witches’ Balls and Day of the Dead celebrations.  And with reverence I await the night of October 31st, to honor my ancestors and loved ones, who have gone before me, in the tradition of what we call Samhain, which is pronounced Sow (like “cow”) -in.

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As I write this post, I’m sipping coffee from my pentagram mug. The window is open and cool breezes are flowing across me.  I’ve just come in from my back yard, where I’ve honored the four directions, including Mother Earth and the Divine Spirit within. For me, this is how I practice being a true Witch. Being true is a practice of honoring Nature, ourselves as magickal people, and our ability to manifest change and good intentions.

A lot of people during this time of year like to dress up as Witches. For some it’s a sneaky way to embrace the calling of “Witch” they’ve felt for a long time. For others it’s an opportunity to come “out of the broom closet.”

It can be a long and difficult journey to announce your Witchyness to the World. I was recently reminded of the real fear people have about Witches, through an old black and white movie, called “Horror Hotel.” In the film local townspeople who are labeled “Witches,” wear black cloaks, kidnap and murder innocent people in the name of their religion. Oh my heart! Nothing could be farther from the truth in my experiences and in the Circle of my friends. These types of movies give practicing Witches a “bad rap.”

For many Pagans and Witches, this is a sacred time. During this time of Samhain, we honor our loved ones who have gone before us. As the veil thins, we create ancestor altars and perform divination for ourselves.

During this season, lots of seekers ask, “how do I become a Witch?”

From my experience, being a Witch is a calling that arises from deep within you. If you’ve asked that question, you already know you’re leaning in that direction. Many people choose to self-dedicate themselves after long periods of seeking. Some connect with teachers, while others may join covens. A high percentage of people simply practice being solitary Witches – where they can practice as they see fit, while joining in with group activities from time to time.

What you’ll find is that Witches are as unique and different as Moonrise and Sunset. None of us do it exactly the same way. There is no right way or wrong way to practice. One goes by heart, feel and intuition. The Craft is a mystery. It seeks to wander and explore.  It’s always best to trust your inner guides, listen to your Higher Power, and practice discernment. If you decide to choose this path, relax and enjoy the ride.

If you’re seeking resources, here are few places to get started:

Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing

http://www.llewellyn.com/

The Witches Voice

http://www.witchvox.com/

Dragonfest 2016

Feel free to look me up or follow me:

http://www.facebook.com/NajahLightfoot

http://www.twitter.com/NajahLightfoot

http://sistermoon13.blogspot.com

May you have a blessed and happy Halloween/Samhain season

 

Guest Post: Author Liv Hadden

I’m a really happy person, which doesn’t mean much unless you’ve read my novel, In the Mind of Revenge. You can tell from the title it’s not a tale of unicorns, rainbows, and happy-endings. It is dark, twisted, sad, murderous, and most certainly violent. So, I often get asked where I got the idea for this book, especially since it seems so opposite of me and my life experience.

Well, besides my love of all things Halloween (Creepy? Scary? Paranormal? Yes, please!), the inspiration for this particular story started as all my ideas do—with an unexpected visit from the main character. Shame came to me in a dream during a time of depression, which I am sure is why I latched on. In honor of Halloween and the release of the audiobook version of In the Mind of Revenge on October 31, I thought I would share the haunting that started it all—my eerie dream of shame.

***

The silence is heavy and jarring in a way no amount of noise could ever be. It commands stillness, taunting me to dare cross it. My lungs burn as they expand as far as they possibly can. I do not exhale despite my chest’s urging. Every inch of me is working hard to suppress the panic bubbling in my gut. The vast emptiness around me does nothing to aid my cause. Hot breath sends an icy chill across my neck and shoulders. I stiffen, hoping it is possible to be more still, more silent than I already am. I am becoming part of the emptiness, releasing into it everything I am made of. I know I will die in this place, slowly consumed by the darkness of silence.

It is then a whisper tickles my neck, curling its way around, tightening its grip. It crushes my throat, denying me any option for one last breath. I do my best not to look, not to hear. Just let me go, I shout inside the prison of my mind. But, it is stronger than me and its message rings through the air, cutting through the stark silence.

“I see you.”

Everything in me wants to recoil, but it won’t let me. The pressure in my chest and stomach are unbearable. I open my mouth, relenting to the burning in my lungs, but no air enters them. It’s strangling me, this invisible demon. I can feel it bucking and bursting in its relentless pursuit to break free of my body. Despite the blackness of my surroundings, I can see the demon oozing from my abdomen, one tendril at a time. It is blacker than the darkest night, more sinister than its most evil villain.

The contents of my bowels spill onto the ground with the amorphous form of the demon that was once living inside me. The smell is wretched, like nothing my senses have ever encountered before. I can see the stink of rot floating around the demon as it begins to grow larger. Fear grips me, urging me to run, but I cannot move my feet. I must watch in horror as the monster that has been suffocating me for years begins to take form. Black demonic fingers extend and retract from arms that are defining themselves quicker than I’d like.

I am scared to look, to face my demon. I close my eyes as hard as I can, my attention immediately drawn to my exposed insides. The hole my monster crawled from is still there, a wound I know will never heal. Blood is steadily dripping from the tear, which I now fear is feeding the demon. Suddenly, it is near me, its lips grazing my ear lobe. We are both still, waiting for the other to make a move. I wonder if it knows I am paralyzed. Is this part of its game? I can think of nothing crueler than continuing to plague me with the ultimate villain in dark silence like this—time.

Hands shoot up to my face. Fingers pry open my eyes, forcing me to see what I have been dreading. “I see you,” it hisses, licking my left cheek as if taste testing its last meal. My eyes lock with its, stopping my heart with the realization of its true nature. Staring back into my eyes is me—a shadow Peter Pan would surely be glad to lose. Though, I know it is more than just a shadow. It is the embodiment of everything I have ever hated about myself. Every piece of me I have ever abhorred, detested, looked down upon. I am right—my demon is drinking of my blood…of my shame.

My shame begins to laugh hysterically, its low booming voice somehow sounding of many. It wields its right hand to deliver my final death blow, plunging its fist into my chest. I can feel razor sharp claws penetrating my heart, slowly sealing my fate. It whispers in my ear again, one more time before it releases me into the nothingness for good.

“You fool.”

I begin to fall. The descent lasts so long I am certain there is no end. To my surprise, my shame is falling with me, now fused to my heart. It is a part of me now in a way I cannot escape. I knew I would die in this this place.

In the space where acceptance meets desperation, I feel a tugging that wrenches my head backward, threatening to remove it from my neck. My shame cries out in agony, and I realize the tugging is not hurting me. In fact, it is refreshing, like melting ice against too hot skin. No, the tugging is not breaking me—it is interrupting the black shadow’s snack of my feeble heart and soured soul. My demon’s ghoulish screams are music to my ears. I wonder what has come to fight it and hope it will win. The heat of it I now recognize as an old friend I was certain had abandoned me long ago. Love bends around me, cradling me in its arms, its whispers sweet and tender.

“I see you.”

I am at a crossroads called choice, and I must make a decision. It seems simple to my heart, who is suffocating under the weight of shame. Yet, my mind is ill-content to let it rest as such—these things are not so clear. This demon is mine—this demon I have earned. It came from me. It is of me. I must carry its weight. My shame knows I do not deserve love. The warmth rescinds as quickly as it came, leaving one last message before it departs.

“You fool.”

The blackness consumes me, and I disappear into my demon’s rotten form. We are one now, indistinguishable from one another. Where I start, my demon begins. I am my shame. My shame is me. We are the Shamed.

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Check out the trailer! Intense!

Grab Your Copy on Amazon

About The Author

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Debut novelist Liv Hadden has been writing ever since she was a little girl. But, it wasn’t until 5th grade when her teacher said she’d one day write a book that she started taking it seriously.

Her Shamed series began in college, when Hadden employed her writing as an outlet for her feelings during a serious bout of depression. After a brief, yet impactful first night of writing, she dreamt of a shadowy figure, tormented and demonized by their own mind and realized this was the shadow of pain that hurting people everywhere felt.

She woke from her dream feeling more energized that she had in months, picked up her computer and began to write. “I felt if ever there was a story inside me and a character worth taking the leap, it was Shame and this story,” says Hadden. “This one in particular is personal in nature, and perhaps the very reason it’s so close to my heart.”

Hadden has her roots in Burlington, Vermont  and has lived in upstate New York and Oklahoma, where she went to college at the University of Oklahoma,, and earned her degree in Environmental Sustainability Planning & Management.  She now resides in Austin, TX with her husband and two dogs, Madison and Samuel and is an active member of the Writer’s League of Texas.

Incredibly inspired by artistic expression, Hadden immerses herself in creative endeavors on a daily basis. She finds great joy in getting lost in writing and seeing others fully express themselves through their greatest artistic passions, like music, body art, dance and photography. “I get chills when I have the great privilege of seeing someone express their authentic selves,” says Hadden. “I believe it gives us a true glimpse into the souls of others.

Author Website: LivHadden.com