Book Highlight: Beneath the Hallowed Hill

Anne Le Clair travels to Glastonbury with her fiance, Egyptologist and mystic Michael Levy, to investigate a house she has inherited from a mysterious aunt...only to find trouble waiting. One of Avalon's sacred twin springs is failing. Together, Anne and Michael try to restore the water flow, but discover there is much more at stake: the Illuminati master Alexander Cagliostro has activated an ancient crystal tower, tearing a hole in time that threatens so much more than one sacred spring. Meanwhile, in ancient Atlantis, Megan, priestess of the Crystal Matrix Chamber, flees the destruction of her world carrying with herself a vital artifact. (Book 2 of the Power Places Series)


Something woke Anne. She listened for a sound, but heard only the ticking of an old clock downstairs. She rolled over and snuggled down under the duvet, but sleep did not return. Rather than toss and turn, she crept out of bed, careful not to wake Michael. In the closet among Cynthia's clothes, she found some old jeans and a shirt. At the window, the dark sky held a faint promise of light. Birds twittered in the apple orchard. The earth lay suspended in that silent moment before the tides swing toward morning. Anne made her way down the stairs, avoiding the squeaky step, and found a woolen cloak and clogs next to the back door. She slipped them on and walked through the dark backyard. A rickety wooden gate opened onto the gentle green slope. Above her, Anne could just make out the long finger of St. Michael's Tower. She climbed the wet grass to the steps running up the hill. She stopped to catch her breath at a convenient bench, waiting until the ache in her ribs subsided, then pushed to the top and sat against the old stone tower facing east, waiting for the sun to rise. She closed her eyes for a minute and sank quickly into deep silence.

From the west side of the tower, a lone voice lifted in a wordless chant. She opened her eyes and half turned to see who else had left their warm bed to climb the Tor and greet the dawn, but instead of the tower, she found herself leaning against a tall standing stone. Anne leapt to her feet and backed away.

"Good morning, Cynthia," a voice called from behind her.

Anne whirled to find an older man walking up the last slope of the Tor, his breath steaming in the chill.

The chant cut off mid phrase. Anne turned back to look for the singer and almost rammed her nose into St. Michael's Tower.

"You're up early," the man said.

"What the..." Anne turned back to the newcomer. He wore a woolen cloak similar in make to the one Anne had grabbed from the back porch, but his was a darker brown, almost matching his hair.

"Oh, you're not...I thought..." He came to a halt.

"I'm Anne, Cynthia's niece."

He stood close enough now for Anne to see wisps of silver in his beard. She pointed behind her. "Did you hear someone chanting just now?"

"You heard chanting." It was a statement.

"Yes. And I thought..." She pointed to the tower, then shook her head. "Never mind."

"You thought?"

"The tower disappeared and I saw a standing stone."

He nodded. "Some people see a ring of stones, some just the one."

Anne gave him a closer look.

"When is Cynthia coming back?"

She hesitated. "You haven't heard?"

He shook his head. "Sometimes we are out of touch for months at a time, but we always seem to find each other again."

She took a deep breath. "I'm afraid Aunt Cynthia died late last year in New York."

"Died?" He stepped toward her. "But, such a vital woman."

"It was sudden. A heart attack." No sense telling the world it had been murder.

The man stared at her, eyes wide. Then he shook his head. "Cynthia and I were . . . neighbors." He offered his hand and Anne shook it. "My name is Garth."

"I'm sorry to bring you this news."

He ducked his head and leaned on his walking stick. Finally, he looked up and studied her face. "Anne." He shook his head. "I don't recall..."

"She and my mother were estranged. Cynthia probably never mentioned me."

"Ah, so you're the one."

"Excuse me?"

"The niece she had so much hope for."

Anne stifled her surprise. "So I'm told."

"You've taken up residence?"

Anne nodded. "I inherited the house. We - my fiance and I - we came to see about it. Visit Glastonbury."

"And you're an early riser?"

"Actually something woke me. Probably jet lag."

"I felt it, too." He turned back to the east and gazed out across the downs. The bright curve of the sun lit the horizon. The fields greened under his gaze.

Garth turned back to her. "I hope you and your fiance will come to dinner. I would like to hear more about Cynthia's passing. Perhaps I can help you know her better."

"We'd be delighted."

"It was good to meet you." He walked into the middle of the tower, his shoulders bowed.

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About the Author:

Theresa Crater has published two contemporary fantasies, Beneath the Hallowed Hill & Under the Stone Paw and several short stories, most recently “White Moon” in Riding the Moon and “Bringing the Waters” in The Aether Age: Helios. She’s also published poetry and a baker’s dozen of literary criticism. Currently, she teaches writing and British lit in Denver. Born in North Carolina, she now lives in Colorado with her Egyptologist partner and their two cats. Visit her website at

Book Highlight: Expert Assistance

To get out of debt, spacer Jake Bonner takes on two odd jobs. The first, chauffeur pop star Evvie Martini on her tour; the second, helping Daniel and Clarissa Rosen overthrow their planet’s tyrannical ruler. Unfortunately for Jake, Evvie finds out about his second assignment and, hoping to advance her career, invites herself to the revolution.
The next day Evvie returned to the ship to start her new career as a revolutionary. Before taking them to Antioch Two, Jake had her sit down next to him on the couch. “I think you need to know why this revolution is important to those people,” he told her.
“Well, isn’t that obvious? They need to be free?”
“Yes, well, that’s true. There are more solid reasons for doing this. The situation is a little more complicated that just an evil ruler oppressing his people.”
Jake raised a hand. “I’ll explain it to you in terms you can understand, okay?”
“Great. Now, first of all, the planet is Maxis’ personal property.”
“Is that legal? I thought you couldn’t buy planets. I mean, I tried, once, but...”
Jake cleared his throat. “May I continue?”
“Oh, sorry.”
“Thank you. In point of fact, no, you can’t buy planets. At least not planets that have potential, like Antioch Two and its mineral wealth. You see, Evvie, Maxis’ grandfather lied to his employers about the value of the planet’s potential, and he proceeded to buy it at auction. Instead of owning some worthless rock, he bought one of the richest worlds in human space for almost nothing.”
“Sounds bad.”
“It was beyond bad. It was illegal. Now the world and its wealth belongs to one person, Sordius Maxis. What’s more, Maxis is paying bribes all over the galaxy to hide this fact, to hide how badly he treats the people working for him, and to hide some of his other schemes to fatten his bank accounts. On top of all that, the way he operates his planet isn’t as good as it should be.”
“Isn’t that obvious? He’s a dictator.”
“No, not in the way you’re thinking. His equipment is old, his refinery isn’t turning out as much as it should or could, and the way he keeps everyone in line is limiting how much everyone could be making from such a mineral-rich planet.”
“Oh. Still sounds like a bad man to me.”
“He is, Evvie. The point is he’s bad in more than just the usual ways.”
“Okay, well, that’s fine. What are we going to do about it?”
“We’re going to oust him from power.”
“How? I mean, are we gonna just blast him from space?”
“For one thing, we couldn’t pick him off like that. Not while he’s in the dome. Either we’d hurt people we don’t want to, or we’d miss and alert him that we were there. Besides, this isn’t about getting one man. There’s a system that we have to get rid of. That’s why this is a ‘revolution’ and not a ‘coup.’”
“So what do we do?”
“Well, we get the people to want Maxis out. We undermine his leadership, and tell the people under him what’s really going on.”
“Great. Just so long as it doesn’t involve boring stuff.”
Jake sighed. What have I gotten myself into, he wondered.
Purchase Expert Assistance at:
About the Author:
I've had three SF novels published: "Monitor," "Lisa's Way," and "Expert Assistance." I've also had a coming of age novel published called "True Friends." I've had stories and articles appear in periodicals such as Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine; Tales of the Talisman; Space Westerns; Sorcerous Signals; Wild West; and Model Railroader.

Book Highlight: Marley: The Other Christmas Carol

Marley’s soul was lost, doomed to wander among the ranks of humanity, generation after generation, without the powers to be humane. The curse of his chains was a heavy one, and there were many a time in which he found the weight of said chains to be unbearable. So this must be perfectly understood: Marley was without hope.
Marley’s lot was indeed a sad one. Misery was his meat, and despair was his drink. Nothing of the earth was his except for the cold fingers of the grave. And it was there that Marley would never retreat. The grave was death! Marley had no powers such as those given to other earth-bound spirits. He was a wraith – a wanderer. However, upon saving the soul of a dear friend, he was given a haunting. In this haunting, Marley’s powers could not be equaled. However, one foot off the haunting’s property, and his soul would find itself in endless damnation.
Marley found himself trapped, staring out a window, into an ever-changing world. A world he would never again become a part of. A world of love, laughter, sorrow, and pain, he would always be a stranger to.
Waiting and waiting. Hoping to prove himself worthy.
The house was infamous, and there were stories. God, were there stories.
One told of a bookkeeper said to be among one of the original owners, who had an experience with spirits that changed his life overnight. Another dealt with a crippled man, during the First World War, who constantly complained of rattling chains in his attic. In his ownership, he never once had a decent night’s sleep.
The house had a reputation, and it came as a shock that a family of Americans were about to move in. Americans!
Kathy Kringle loved an adventure. Not in her wildest dreams did she ever think that she would be moving to England.
She jumped from her seat, holding onto her Manny Mouse doll, leaving the moving van, and started heading off toward her new home. What an adventure! Not only was she moving into a new home, she was moving into a new country. Strange things met her at every turn. Different things. Things she couldn’t understand, such as why the English drove their cars on the wrong side of the road. She made a mental note storing it for later. Kathy thought it was her duty, when she found the time, to write a letter to the King of England, helping to correct that mistake. Cars belonged on the right side of the road, not the left.
Kathy looked down at her doll, which really never left her sight, and asked, "What do you think, Manny?"
Manny appeared to be completely indifferent to the whole affair.
"I know what you’re thinking," Kathy continued. "But Dad’s a good painter. After a few coats of paint, the house will look as good as new." She paused, smiling with relief. "We’re home."
And what a home it was.
Not at all like the studio apartment she knew back in Los Angeles, California.
This house was a castle. Two stories tall, with an attic. The house was huge. Dim oblong windows, wooden peaks, and heavy iron gates greeted her curious eyes with an empty stare.
"Jeez!" Kathy mused.
Two doors slammed shut behind Kathy.
"Kathy, don’t get dirty."
"Okay, Mom." Kathy tucked Manny under her arm and started to rush off toward her new home. Kathy rolled her eyes, thinking that her mother was too protective. "Mothers," She muttered.
Dan Kringle watched with fatherly pride as his daughter darted off through the knee-high snow, wishing to explore her new world. His daughter’s red scarf bobbed up and down, dragging between bright yellow snow boots, as she disappeared from sight.
"Sure beats Los Angeles," he said.
Purchase Marley: The Other Christmas Carol at:
About the Author:
Donald Allen Kirch lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is an avid reader of history, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, and the paranormal. He has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and is listed in "Who’s Who in America." He is the author of a monthly article that appears in "Suspense Magazine" entitled "Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal." After spending two weekends in the famous "Sallie House," a "haunted house" featured on the Fox TV-series Sightings, in Atchison, Kansas, he is one of the only authors of his genre who can claim to have been attacked by a ghost!

Book Highlight: Enchantments

Enchantments is an allegorical tale told in prose and verse.
Though born and raised in the elvin land of E’alowen, E’lienna, daughter of Lady Claire, a human, and Gle'anden, prince of elves, longs to better understand her human lineage. She sets out from E’alowen and into human lands. There, she visits the wizened Mage of Dur, a long-time friend to her parents and all elvinkind. She discovers that the wizard is secretly working to help bring about a new age throughout the land of humankind. For he reveals to her that a babe, born of a king, has been secretly hidden away until such time when he is grown so that he may fulfill a prophesy made long ago of a king of men who will grow to rule the land with justice and mercy.
Through her quest to find out more about her mother’s past and about this king of men, E’lienna uncovers the mystery behind a tragedy that befell her family years ago and, in the process, discovers that the worlds of men and elves are much more deeply entwined than either have believed.
My name is E’lienna. I am daughter to a human woman and an elvin prince. Both bloods flow within my veins, the human and the elvish. This very thing it is which brings up longing deep within me, a longing in my heart and mind to find my own place in both worlds.
Born into a time of change for elf and humankind alike, I have always sought out answers far beyond my elvin kin’s embrace. Many stories tell of how the worlds of men and elves are weaving. This is my own story. So listen, if you’ve mind to hear, and I’ll recount my tale to you in that fashion keeping with the long-held elf tradition; poetry and prose entwining.
The Beginning
While moon shines bright and full, I ride out from my elvin wood, E’alowen, and under hood and cloak, I keep myself quite hidden. After I have ridden under summer’s silken stars for three nights and three days, I finally come upon the village where the wizard dwells. I’ve come to visit him.
I reach his cottage just at dusk and knock upon the door three times. He opens it and clearly is astonished by my visit.
“E’lienna!” says the sage. “Child, what brings you here?”
“Good Mage,” say I, “I am no child. Sixteen years have crowned me. I have come in hope of finding answers to a mystery which will not be explained to me by either of my parents. So please, good sage, will you engage in sharing what you know? For you are wise and friend to both my father and my mother.”
“Do they know that you are here?” he asks, and strokes his beard.
“Of course, good mage!” I answer truly. (Elves don’t lie or trick.) “It was they who told me you might offer clarity! Now will you let me in?”
And so the wizened Mage of Dur ushers me inside. His cottage proves a simple hut, yet comfortable and cozy.
“Sit. Please sit. And have some tea,” he says, upon my entering.
He serves it on a wooden tray, in two clay cups, all painted brightly. Then he sits himself across the large old wooden table, smiles and cocks his head.
“Now, pray, tell me why you’ve come.”
I pull a locket from the bag which hangs about my waist and open it to show, inside, two portraits, small as thumbnails.
“Sir,” I say, “I want to know whose picture this might be.”
On the left, my mother smiles, her sixteen year-old face all rosy. On the right, another girl stares out from sullen eyes. Their faces seem so similar. Hair and eyes, chin and cheek, both share all the same fine features. Yet they could not be more different—one a joyous angel, filled with light and magic, one an angry, brooding creature, shadowed, bleak and tragic.
I set the locket down before him. Even before looking, he begins to nod his head then sighs and closes his dark eyes as if he knows already who the woman must have been.
“No wonder Claire sent you to me,” he finally says, “and I agree it was a good thing that she sent you here. For this tale is a tale of grief—for her and your poor grandmother. Because you ask this task of me, I’ll tell you what I can.”
He pauses. I wait. Then he takes a long and heavy breath.
“How shall I begin? This portrait, E’lienna, is of your mother’s sister.”
“Mother has no sister!” I exclaim.
“Now, good child,” he says, “you must allow me to explain. And without interruption! As I said, I’ll tell you what I’m able. But I warn you, E’lienna, this is not a fable! This is sorrow. This is pain. Now, shall I start, again?”
The air hangs still, a silent weight that seems quite palpable. I swallow back my sudden feeling of dismay and answer, “Yes, dear mage, continue on, I pray. I will hold my tongue, I promise. ‘Til the end of it.”
Purchase Enchantments at:
About the Author:
Susan M. Botich writes science-fiction and fantasy. She is also a freelance writer, poet, songwriter and performing musician. She has lived all over the United States from California to New York, Alaska to Hawaii, Washington to the Midwest of Iowa and Minnesota and even the high desert of Northern Nevada. She and her husband have recently made Bend, OR their home.
Susan is an eclectic reader, having interests that bridge physics and metaphysics, social and spiritual issues, and multiple genres of fiction. She simply loves to read a good story. She became a science-fiction and fantasy fan as a teen. She has always been an avid reader but turned her focus to story writing after marriage and family in her early thirties.
Susan has recently published her science-fiction novel, The Dream Star, as well as a fantasy verse-novel, Enchantments. Both books are available through in both Kindle and print edition and as a Nook book. Readers may also buy her books through her website

Book Highlight: The Lurker War

In this sequel to “The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight” an evil force is growing in the “Nown” world, causing peaceful nations and kings to wage war on one another for no apparent reason. Returning home after her adventure “Karen” has accepted her new identity, having been changed into a woman, marrying her faithful squire Jatel. In her absence, Idoshia has become a fallen and conquered nation controlled by the Xows! The Royal Family are prisoners in their own castle, and a political opportunist named Hector has seized power. In the elfin lands, an ancient evil has been released causing all free-loving people to take up arms against their beloved king.. Building up a great alliance, Karen of Teal, former Errant-Knight to the kingdom of Idoshia, becomes her people’s one and only hope. Battling Elves, vampires, an escape from prison, sea creatures, and an army of the dead, no horror is more unimaginable than what would later be called “THE LURKER WAR!”
Karen of Teal, formally an Errant-Knight to the Kingdom of Idoshia, lay blissfully in her bed, barely conscious. Her body relaxed to the constant pitch and roll of her room, as her mind made note of the humming of the Argo’s fantastic sky machines. Her night was one of the most fantastic she had ever experienced, for she had become a bride. As a woman, she was experiencing life from a different point of view, and had become quite used to it. This acceptance was remarkable, considering she had once been a man.
Upon hearing a set of footsteps above her, on the main deck, Karen opened one eye surveying her cabin. She spotted shadows moving through the cracks of the wood, and heard muffled voices ordering themselves about. The suns were starting to raise midpoint in the course of time, and she felt a small pang of embarrassment that she had been sleeping so late. Then again, the last couple of phases had been exhausting. Her wedding dress and undergarments lay scattered upon a nearby chair. She giggled slightly, remembering how desperately she had wanted them off the evening before.
Then, Karen felt the weight upon her chest.
"To the gods! No!" she whispered, reaching up in a panic.
Karen’s concern could be understood. The last time she had felt such a weight, she had been known as Ka-Ron, a brave knight - a man. She had fallen victim to the wrath of a Wicca Master, who had blamed Ka-Ron for the sad death of her daughter. A daughter Ka-Ron had sworn to protect from all worldly evil. In her wrath, Kai, the Wicca Master, and mother of the unfortunate woman created a most evil curse - a curse worthy of destroying a knight’s life forever. Ka-Ron became a woman. And, in time, the woman became Karen.
However, this time, the woman’s fears were false. She breathed a sigh of relief, when upon reaching up towards her chest, to discover Jatel’s head lying between her breasts. She laughed, realizing that all was indeed quite normal.
Purchase The Lurker War at:
About the Author:
Donald Allen Kirch lives in Kansas City, Missouri. He is an avid reader of history, Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, and the paranormal. He has a degree in Radio and Television Arts, and is listed in "Who’s Who in America." He is the author of a monthly article that appears in "Suspense Magazine" entitled "Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories of the Paranormal." After spending two weekends in the famous "Sallie House," a "haunted house" featured on the Fox TV-series Sightings, in Atchison, Kansas, he is one of the only authors of his genre who can claim to have been attacked by a ghost!