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Buy: Sloane Wolf by Margay; Nora's Soul by Margay; Pandora's Box by Gracen; Hell's Phoenix by Gracen

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Kat's Blog: Summer Bash Is Here!

Kat's Blog: Summer Bash Is Here!: Woohoo! Summer is officially here! I'm swimming and having so much fun that it's time to share the joy. Every Wednesday between now ...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Blog Tour: When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti

About the Author:

Cynthia Ruchti is an author and speaker who tells stories of Hope-that-glows-in-the-dark through her novels, nonfiction, women’s events, and outlets related to the Heartbeat of the Home radio broadcast she wrote and produced for thirty-three years. She and her plot-tweaking husband live in the heart of Wisconsin, not far from their three children and five joy-giving grandchildren.

Her latest book is the Christian fiction, When the Morning Glory Blooms.

You can learn more about Cynthia and her writing and speaking at

Connect with Cynthia:

About the Book:

Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancĂ© Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not just idle ramblings. They’re Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life.

Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? And what connects them to Becky?

Becky, Ivy, Anna—three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.

Purchase your copy:

When the Morning Glory Blooms Tour Page:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Always the Baker, Finally the Bride by Sandra D. Bricker

About the Author:

Sandra D. Bricker was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years. She is now a best-selling, award-winning author of laugh-out-loud fiction for the inspirational market, and the mastermind behind the Another Emma Rae Creationseries that started with Always the Baker Never the Bride. As an ovarian cancer survivor, she gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.

Visit her Web site at  and her blog at

About the Book:

In the first book, readers fell in love with Emma Rae and Jackson, and they’ve gotten more acquainted with them in the two books that followed. But now it’s time for the diamond to meet the road as Jackson fields an offer to sell The Tanglewood, a move that will uproot this high-flying family act once and for all. Get reacquainted with all of the lovable and quirky characters from the first three books as your favorite diabetic baker figures out if she’ll achieve her greatest goal of all: Will Emma, at last become FINALLY theBride?


Book Excerpt:

“A champagne flute of vanilla bean gelato topped tableside with a shot of espresso.”
            “Chocolate chip bread pudding drizzled with warm caramel.”
            “Oh. My.”
            “Tiramisu lady fingers in coffee liqueur and cocoa.”
            Emma balled up the lapel of her jacket in her fist and whimpered. “Jackson. My heart.”
            Jackson leaned toward the waiter and clicked his tongue. “I’m thinking we should just move on to the sugar-free menu. She’s diabetic.”
            “Oh. All right.”
            The gentleman pointed at the other side of the dessert cart as Jackson interrupted. “But I’ll have that bread pudding,” he whispered.
            “Yes, sir. And for the lady, our sugar-free menu includes a warm berry tart with frozen vanilla yogurt.”
            “A red velvet cupcake with cream cheese icing sweetened with agave.”
            “You can stop right there,” Jackson told him. “You had her at red velvet.”
            “Not so fast,” she countered, and Jackson’s heart began to thump. “Go on. What else?”
            “Pumpkin spice cake with creamy buttermilk icing.”
            “Oh, that sounds lovely.”
            Perspiration puddled over his top lip, and Jackson wiped it away with his napkin. “Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “Red velvet is your favorite.”
            “Yes, but I can make my own sugar-free red velvet. The pumpkin sounds—”
            Jackson’s attention darted to the waiter and they shared a lingering exchange before the waiter offered, “The red velvet is our specialty. It comes highly recommended.”
            “Really?” she reconsidered. And by the time she nodded, Jackson’s heart had begun to pound at double-time. “Okay. I’ll try the cupcake.”
            “Very good.”
            “Coffee for me, and a pot of tea for my date, please,” Jackson said, leaning back against the leather booth with a sigh.
            “Are you all right?”
            “Hmm? What do you mean?”
            “I don’t know,” Emma replied. “You seem a little tense tonight.”
            “Oh. No. I don’t know. I guess—”
            Fortunately, the waiter reappeared so that he didn’t have to concoct some lame excuse. He stopped breathing as the waiter set the beautiful red velvet cupcake down in front of Emma. A shiny pink cupcake tin held the confection, and a ring of intricate white chocolate made to look like a crocheted doily surrounded it. The carefully-chosen diamond ring shimmered on top of it, catching the light from the chandelier overhead and reflecting the glint of recognition in Emma’s brown eyes.
She looked up at him, and those spectacular eyes of hers crested into turbulent waves of gold-flecked recognition. Her perfect lips parted, but not a single syllable passed over them. She blinked several times before glancing back at the cupcake, and Jackson knew this was his moment. He slipped from the booth and hit one knee beside her.
            “What…What are you…Jackson?
            He took her hand and grinned at her.
            “Are you serious?”
            “I’ve never been more serious in my life. You’ve changed me, Emma. You are the center of everything for me. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get here, but I can’t even think of living without you. Will you marry me?”
            And with that, she turned her head away from him and began to sniffle.
            “Are you crying?” he asked on a laugh. “Emma, this is not a night for tears.”
            “I can’t help it,” she chuckled, and he watched her struggle to pull herself together. “You’ve really surprised me here.”
            “In a good way, I hope,” he said, and he plucked the ring from the icing and gave it a quick lick.
            “Frankly, I thought the best part of this night was going to be the cupcake.”
            “Emma. Will you give me an answer, please?” he asked, wiping the ring clean with the corner of a napkin. “Before my legs go numb?”
            “Oh. Sorry.”
            He waited. “Is that a yes?”
            A mischievous glint betrayed her amusement. “Can I let you know after I eat the cupcake?”
            Jackson laughed. “I’d kind of like to hear it now, if you don’t mind.”
            “If you insist,” she told him, and she tilted her head slightly and smiled. If he’d been standing, he thought his knees might have gone weak under the weight of that sweet little smile.
“You’re killing me here,” he said with raspy emotion. “But I adore you.”
“You do?”
“Oh, now you’re just messing with me.”
“You really do adore me?”
Jackson sighed, glancing at the floor.
Emma touched his jaw with one finger and nudged his face upward. “Yes, Jackson. I’ll marry you.”

Always the BakerFinally the Bride Tour Page:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Spotlight On: A List of Offences by Dilruba Ara

How I became a Writer


Dilruba Ara

My father was a well-known writer, and from the time we were very young he would read us popular stories. I was always listening to him, and as soon as I had learned to read I would make him buy me books. Not just any books. Fat books. I wanted the stories to last forever. You can imagine how difficult it was for him to get suitable books for me! It started from there. I would be reading the books, but when I was asked what they were about, I would respond by making up my own stories.

The turning point came when, as students of grade three, my class-mates and I were assigned to paraphrase a famous Bengali poem into a narrative. We worked and handed in our pieces. On the following day, our Miss asked me to come forward.  There were more than 45 students in the classroom, and I was the youngest and the smallest. Hence, she asked me to get up on her table and read my piece aloud. When I had finished, she put her arm around my waist and told the class that they had a future writer standing before them. That was it. My destiny was sealed. I will never forget the happiness and pride I felt at that moment.

My first story was published later same year, when I was eight. Later, when I was sixteen, somehow I got involved in writing love-letters for my friends (girls). In those days it was the only way to communicate between two lovers, even if you lived next door. I had to force myself to get into the mind of my friends and also try to understand the boys who were writing to them...and it was always as exhilarating when the boys wrote back complimenting my friends on the beauty of their writing. I believe it was at that time that I matured as a writer and also understood how the pen could be used to serve different purposes.

A List of Offences
SUMMARY: Daria, the heroine of the book is born under unusual circumstances that cause the people of her small village to gossip; yet as she grows she becomes an intelligent, sensitive and spiritual beauty that one feels is destined for a perfect life. After a flood, a boy is found on the bank of her river. Daria’s parents adopt the boy, and Daria befriends him. As they grow Daria begins to inhabit Mizan’s dreams and thoughts, but a sudden meeting with anglophile Ali Baba brings everything crashing down around Daria. She forgets her upbringing and falls madly in love with him and after her hasty wedding, she moves to Baba Lodge and is brought into the suffocating life of Ali Baba and his family. 

Here she lives a life unloved and psychologically abused until she gets pregnant. Now she begins to hope that finally her potential for love, luck and happiness will be realised through her new-born child. Yet relations between Daria and her in-laws deteriorate further. Daria finds herself torn between the religious mandate of Islam to stay with and obey her husband and the call of her intellect and instincts to flee and forge a different life for her daughter.


  A Bottle of River Water 

 A whisper went round the little village of Gulab Ganga during the days around Daria’s birth. It said, “Jharna Begum, Daria’s Ammu, defied God when she refused to give up the thought of having a daughter.” She had her four sons, three miscarriages and one stillborn daughter. But yet she couldn’t accept the idea of not having a daughter in her lap. When the most trusted doctor in the neighbourhood advised her against trying to get pregnant, she, like many in her dilemma, decided to get help from supernatural sources. The road there would be reached by means of a man, who claimed to be a Pir, a spiritual person. He lived on the outskirts of Gulab Ganga. A good many people went to him to catch cattle thieves and poachers, a good many went to get better crops, a good many wished to be cured of some incurable diseases, and a good many wished for a male heir to carry on the family name. And on rare occasions, someone would actually call on him to get a female child; to light up a family with only male offspring. And this was partly true in the case of Jharna Begum, Daria’s Ammu, but mainly it was because she felt half a woman without a daughter.

 It was exactly one year before Daria’s birth that Jharna Begum woke up on one occasion at a time that was neither morning nor night; night’s blackness was slowly oozing away at the touch of first light. A soft and transparent time, that could be called morning-night. She washed herself, took a bath, said her morning prayers, read some verses in the holy Quran. Then on an empty stomach, wrapped a shawl round her shoulders, opened the safe and took out a bundle of notes. Some fresh and crisp. Some dirty and limp. She put the money in her bag and sidled out of the room. Azad Chaudhury, her husband, was away on business and that suited her very well, because he wouldn’t have approved of her going to meet a Pir, whose credibility was dubious. The rest of the family was asleep. She took a deep breath, crossed the front veranda and stepped down onto the ground along the left gable of the house. She continued to the stable that was further off in the same direction. There she met the servant boy Gafur and the housemaid Gulabi. She told Gafur to keep guard on the house for an hour. After a moment, she was seated in the coach with Gulabi and the coachman, Abdullah, on her way to the Pir, the saint, who was to serve as a link between her and the supernatural powers.

 It was a humid morning. The ground was covered with dew. On the horizon white haze rolled softly, blurring the contours and colours of everything. Beyond that the river sparkled in the first glow of the morning sun and some fishermen cast their nets in it; fishnets shimmered in the air like dewy cobwebs before falling into the water, but the haze blocked the view. The wagon picked its way in between the chequered boards of rice-fields. Sometimes it rattled; sometimes it thudded on the bumpy earthen road. Jharna Begum sat erect, her lips moving. Most probably reciting holy verses. Alongside the road some peasants were already at work. Some bent over the water-covered field to set rice plants, and some ploughed; peasant feet submerged up to the ankles in the muddy water; peasant hands disappearing under the water to transplant rice seedlings.

 The Pir (said to be) lived in a small hut on the outskirts of the village. It was made of mud and bamboo canes with a sloping hay roof and stood in the middle of beaten ground surrounded by sprawling bamboo clusters that were partially veiled by the grey mist. From behind the hut an old mango tree spread its branches over the low roof. Haze lingered among the foliage of this tree as well, but just above the roof Jharna Begum could discern some baby mangoes. Grey-green, round and wet, silently growing out of hardness. A skinny hen walked on the patch of ground in front of the hut pecking at whatever it could find; a few dragonflies sat lazily on a tuft of withered grass-straws. A breeze blew, carrying a scent of water and river. The mango leaves hummed. The bamboo leaves whispered. Gulabi remained standing on the spot. Jharna Begum took a deep breath and approached the hut.

 The room was murky in spite of the hurricane lamp that hung from the ceiling. Soft shadows danced on the walls as the tongue of the flame flickered inside the soot smeared glass. Major parts of the walls were plastered with various pictures from the holy city of Mecca. High stepping camels and Bedouins, dusty date trees around oases, scalp-shorn-men — pilgrims-in-white, women — pilgrims-in-black, the black holy stone and the white gathering around it. The only window was covered with a drape. In one corner out of a small brass bowl rose a fine stream of smoke; scents of sandalwood, camphor, incense and rose essence. An earthy dampness hung in the room.

 The Pir was seated on the floor on a mat. He received Jharna Begum with due respect and asked her to settle down opposite him. She was hesitant; nevertheless she obeyed him as though in a trance. Perspiration gleamed above her lips, studded the tip of her nose, and her forehead. It grew in her armpits and between the fold of her breasts. A sweaty fear crawled down her back and she swallowed a lump of saliva. Words pounded in her head, while her stomach was hard like a tight fist. But she wouldn’t give in to her nervousness. So, gathering up her courage, she began to talk. Her voice trembled, tongue dried out. Words came out of her tense mouth; first staccato and then woven together into meaningful sentences. The man murmured and nodded.

 After half an hour when Jharna Begum took the coach home, the sun had risen to a higher level in the sky. It was white. The haze had resolved into a fluttering piece of transparent cloth. She put her chin on the windowsill and looked out. Windblown ringlets danced on her temples. Her eyes saw the pale green rice plants, the mud coloured peasants with their mud coloured feet and hands under the muddy water, the tilting wicker-hats on their heads, the pelvic zone of a cow that lifted its tail to drop some dung, gleaming sun on the tails of diving kingfishers, and the shimmering river beyond; but with her heart she saw a baby girl. A baby girl in her arms. In her hands she held a green bottle. A bottle filled with enchanted water. Water, which would help her to mother a baby girl. Now she just had to ensure that one of her servants collected natural water for her by pressing the brim of an earthen pot against the stream of the river. Seven Thursdays she would bathe in that water eked out with the enchanted water she now had in that tiny green bottle in her hands. Imagine getting a baby girl! To get a baby at such an age! Forty years! God, Allah, the almighty. At such an age one should only wait for death to come. At such an age it was entirely legitimate to die, it was a well-acknowledged die-able age. But instead she was preparing to give life to a new human baby. A baby girl. Jharna Begum felt a mysterious wave of contentment sweeping over her. While the morning breeze, now crisp from the warming sun, fondled her face, she smiled. Like a child who had found the very bottle with the genie. She held the precious bottle tenderly. Azad Chaudhury was, of course, a little bit worried about his wife’s sudden obsession with the matutinal baths on Thursday mornings. But he decided to humour her. And therefore, he even went to bed with her as per her wish after her ritual baths with that magical water. They built and furnished a small room in the furthest end of the dwelling. The rest of the family members were told that Jharna Begum’s physical condition demanded total seclusion from daily life. Initially Azad Chaudhury had thought it would be unnecessary to build a new room only for seven Thursday mornings. But, soon, very soon, he changed his mind. For it didn’t really take him too long to realize that he enjoyed every second, every infinitesimal fraction of each second he spent there together with his wife. In secret they called this room ‘the love nest’ (even though the phrase sounded banal in their experienced ears). Within the four walls of that nest after twenty years of marriage they once again experienced the ecstasy of newly found love.

 On those warm, fairy tale like mornings Azad Chaudhury, propped against the pillow, would look at his wife’s slender body and think that he had never seen her like that before. He licked her feet, her soles, her insteps, kissed her on her kneecaps, tickled her belly, felt the perfect curves of her round shoulders against the cups of his large palms, oiled her with coconut oil, and rubbed her gently. Her eyes would darken, the world beyond the dark blue curtain on the window would slowly brighten but inside they would be lost. She touched his hairy stomach, tugged at his nipples, let her nails run up and down across his body hair and create parallel lines like a farmer furrowing a land and leaving plough marks. Both would have gooseflesh on their skin, his Adam’s apple would move restlessly and she would swallow saliva. They would fondle each other, taste each other’s secret smells and drown in each other’s eyes. His warm palms against hers, his fingers intertwining hers, the soles of her feet rubbing gently on the back of his feet they would reach the climax. Later during the course of the day they would recognise each other’s private smells in their nostrils, and they would exchange furtive glances. 

Considering all this passionate lovemaking, it was probably not a miracle that Jharna Begum soon got pregnant. But with the realisation both she and Azad Chaudhury reacted as though a miracle really had happened. As though the genie really had escaped from the green bottle to fulfil their dreams. They started to cry and laugh. They cried for a moment, laughed a moment, hugged each other, cried again, licked each other’s tears and lay down. They slept a while, woke for a while, embraced each other, whispered soft words and fell asleep again. When the pregnancy advanced, Azad Chaudhury saw to it that Jharna Begum was not in want of anything. He heaped over her gifts and tenderness and fulfilled all her strange whims, such as those which only suit a pregnant woman.

 If she wished for hot peanuts with salt and pepper, she was served that; if she longed for roasted green mangoes blended with crushed red chillies she was given that too. If she craved for ripened tamarinds those were also procured. One midnight she woke up and declared that she must have grilled Ilsha fish, alias silver fish. Now this fish is famous for its silvery scales, and when it comes to taste, it’s absolutely delicious.

 But, unfortunately, it was not the season for this fish. Still, early the following morning Azad Chaudhury himself paid a visit to the nearby fishing community. He held out a leather pouch filled with coins (silvery and golden) and said that the one who was able to catch a couple of Ilsha fish before the next dawn, would be rewarded with the bag and its entire contents. The fish was caught, grilled and served on a silver platter at dinner. The dish so suited Jharna Begum’s taste buds that soon it became a permanent part of the family’s meals during the rest of Jharna Begum’s pregnancy. She was contented, and into the bargain a handful of fishermen got slightly richer than they had bargained for.

 The Neighbourhood Talked.

 On winter evenings snuggling in homemade quilts the villagers huddled around outdoor fires under the gaze of stars. They smoked hookahs, ate grilled sweet potatoes and whispered tales. Witchy tales. Wintry tales. Tales spiced with the chill of winter evening. Painted with the vibrant colours of the fire and cinders in the middle of them. They fed the fire with reeds and kindling that cracked and died in the flames, and they fedtheir ravenous minds with fabulous tales about Jharna Begum and the baby that was thriving in her belly. Before long it was heard that Jharna Begum was obsessed with the fish dish because the man who had given her the green bottle with the magical water, had proclaimed that she would give birth to a girl with hair the colour of ‘silver fish’. Some said she was carrying a mermaid, half-fish, half-human. Pregnant women avoided the sight of her in fear that the very sight of her might hamper the growth of the babies in their wombs. It was strange how one strange rumour gave birth to another, stranger one. Some even claimed that Jharna Begum really possessed the bottle with a genie. It was, however, poor Gulabi who had to face all these torpedoes of vicious remarks about Jharna Begum’s pregnancy. Whenever she showed herself outside the house boundary she was attacked by the neighbouring women. They relentlessly pestered her with ridiculous questions and soon she started to complain about these gossips. Jharna Begum listened patiently to her. But dismissed her anxiety with hearty laughter. Without appearing to be condescending or angry she completely disregarded the complaints and left Gulabi speechless, and as usual continued to send the servant boy, Gafur, to the fishermen to get the fish every morning. The fish was prepared and cooked under her supervision. When she ate it, she ate it with such relish that soon Gulabi and others realised that it was no use trying to change her craving.

 The four boys — Hadi, Jami, Sami and Sadi — who were between eight and twelve years old, had not yet the slightest idea why their father no longer took his usual trips to the other parts of the country. He was always at home. Only they continued as usual. They went to school, read the holy Quran every Thursday, did their home-work, played with one another, fought with one another, and when angry, railed on one another. Gulabi saw to it that their nails were clean, hair oiled, hands washed; that they had milk warm from the cow for breakfast, and that they turned in on time.

 Daria was born on a bright day. It was towards the end of May, just before the onset of the rainy season. The time was precisely twelve o’clock. The sun was hot and cruel. The sky was absolutely white and so was the baby girl’s hair. It was white. Silvery white. Alarmingly white. Very white. At the sight of the hair colour, a scream died in the bewildered midwife’s chest and at the same time her bladder gave way, making her thighs wet. The midwife’s face was glistening with tears, but she was struck like a statue, as though fixed by the mesmeric eye of calamity. Kneeling down between Jharna Begum’s legs, she held Daria’s tiny body in her hands, her head bent over it, her hot urine collecting under it, the navel cord still hanging loosely down the vagina of Jharna Begum. The whole thing was something akin to a scene at an altar.

 And Gulabi, who had been witnessing the scene with a hurricane lamp poised in mid-air, took a while before she could even begin to grasp the nature of the incident; the stench from the urine smelled old, contaminating, of grief and troubles. Gulabi shuddered and gasped as the true scandal of the incident swam into her consciousness. She stood dumb-founded for fully two minutes before returning to her senses. But, once out of her perplexity, she hastily placed the lamp on a bedside table, bent down, cut the umbilical cord, and snatched Daria out of the midwife’s baffled, rigid hands. It was then Daria gave her first cry, relieving all others, and also shocking the midwife back to reality. Gulabi cleaned Daria thoroughly, even her nostrils, before swaddling her in a soft piece of cloth to put her to her mother’s nipple, where milk had already started to flow. And the midwife, soiled by her own urine and the refuse from Jharna Begum’s uterus, withdrew to a corner.

 Even in those days the dwelling house was two storeyed. The walls were made of bricks and the flat roof of corrugated tin. The rooms stood in a row one after another. Two deep verandas ran along the front and rear side of both stories, and a wooden flight of stairs connected the back veranda to the first floor. A small patch of land separated the main house from the kitchen while on the front was a rather big patch of land. There grew fruit and flowers, papayas, mangoes and jackfruits, bananas and coconuts, tuberoses and jasmines, marigolds and land lotuses. Today the flowers glimmered in the sunshine and it was impossible to avoid the numbing sick-sweet aroma emitted by the sweating jasmine flowers. The mango trees were filled with mango blossoms. The boughs on the jackfruit trees bent under the weight of the fruits. The sugar bananas, very yellow, waited expectantly to be harvested. Hot green leaves sheltered the buzzing bees. Blue bottles hummed. Crows and jackdaws feasted to fulfilment. It was a hot, humid and fruity atmosphere as in a green house.

 The climate in the birth-chamber was somewhat cooler in comparison to that of the outside world. The grey cemented floor and the bare white walls were cool; the room was clinically clean just as a birth-chamber should be. The doors and windows were closed making the room half-shadowy. And to add to its clinical element it smelled of camphor, incense and rose water. Daria’s Nanu (maternal grandmother) Salma Begum and Fufu (paternal aunt) Fatima sat in one corner. They too had temporarily lost their speech at the sight of the baby. But the child’s scream readily brought them back to the present. And both of them began to recite Quranic verses with such gravity that an outsider would easily have mistaken the room to have been designed for mourning. Surely you mourn for the deceased in a hospital room, and you rejoice for the newborns. Today of all days Jharna Begum would have liked to rejoice at her daughter’s arrival, she would have liked to sing the praises of God, she would have liked to extol him boisterously, she would have liked to thank him. But these two women turned the room into a mourning chamber, they made the atmosphere heavy, gloomy. Unnecessarily sad. Was it because of the poor midwife’s mishap? Was that the reason, Jharna Begum wondered?

 But it was only an accident. Or, was it because the child’s hair had such a rare colour? Jharna Begum sighed. Strangely enough, she didn’t feel any irritation but a feeling of familiar indifference. She knew that it was no use trying to make others understand her feelings. In the soft light of a hurricane lamp she looked tenderly at her daughter’s swollen cheeks, the closed eyelids, the red mouth and two tiny nostrils. Jharna Begum repeated with a contented voice: water-baby, water-baby. Then she sighed again.

 Having performed the Jummah prayers in the mosque, Azad Chaudhury had just returned home together with the quartet, Hadi, Jami, Sami and Sadi. It was Gulabi who was waiting anxiously for him on the veranda. She told him about the newborn, took the prayer rug from his hands, and ushered away the boys to a different room. Azad Chaudhury looked very pleased and with a smile on his face he pushed opened the wooden door, and stepped inside. He halted for a few seconds in the semi-darkened room. As his eyes got used to the darkness he greeted his mother-in-law and then turning towards Gulabi said, “Open the window shutters!”

 His mother in-law, Salma Begum, stopped murmuring. And so did his sister Fatima. There was a sudden silence. It took a while before Salma Begum shrieked in her frail, shrill voice, “You can’t let midday wind flow freely into a delivery room.”

 Azad Chaudhury looked for a while at the old lady. His brown eyes were soft and polite. Without attempting to dispute the old one, he explained.

 “Excuse me, Amma. But, I would like to see my daughter’s face in the daylight.” Salma Begum shook her head.

“Enough harm has already been done to the baby.”

 “Like what?” Azad Chaudhury was surprised.

 “The midwife...” Her words failed, she couldn’t bring herself to tell her son-in-law about the mishap. It embarrassed her. Her fingers clutched at the tasbhi in her hand.

 Azad Chaudhury looked at the face of his mother-in-law, who looked beyond him. He then turned to Gulabi. “What happened? What has the midwife done, Gulabi?”

 “Abbaji…” Gulabi hesitated and then said, “nothing to worry about. I’ve taken care of it. I’ve washed the baby. I’ve even cleaned her nostrils.”

 “Nostrils!” Azad Chaudhury was even more puzzled.

 “Yes, so that she shouldn’t remember the stench.”

 “Stench of what?”

 Gulabi was by now already regretting having said too much. She fell quiet. Not knowing how to answer she looked helplessly at Salma Begum.

 The old lady shook her head and then said, “You had better ask your wife in private. As for the window, you may open it for a while. But it’s no good for a newborn. Midday wind carries evil spirits.”

 Azad Chaudhury nodded thoughtfully, all but satisfied with the riddling answers. But he gave in, and once again asked Gulabi to open the shutters. The two shutters were opened. A sparkling parallelogram of sunlight fell on the floor. White walls became whiter. The cool floor became warmer. Azad Chaudhury took two steps towards the bed. He bent over it. There was suddenly that awkward silence again. Very silent.

 Very tense. While the taut silence bounced against the four empty walls, Azad Chaudhury’s pupils widened, his spine hardened.

 The child had violet eyes rimmed with black lashes, and she already had a pair of eyebrows shaped like the wings of a soaring gull. Her cheeks were chubby, smooth and fresh like any newborn. Her lips red as ruby. But her hair was silvery white. Ever so white. White like the tops of the Himalayas. Azad Chaudhury could think of nothing to say but murmur prayers. On his shoulders he felt his mother-in-law’s deep breaths, his sister’s attentive eyes. Unfamiliar thoughts were growing like weeds in his brain. He shook his head. Something must have gone wrong. Must have. A child can’t have silver hair. It’s not normal. Why?

 Why? A curious sadness settled in his heart for the little creature in his wife’s arms, his little daughter, his little princess, born out of oneiric mornings. His eyes grew moist as he took up the girl and held her close to his heart. His eyes met his wife’s. The sun reflected in her eyes. She smiled.

 “How are you?” he asked.

 “Very well. Thank you!”

 “Are you happy?”

 “Why shouldn’t I be?”

 He smiled, braving the pressure of the weeds that grew in his brain.

 Hairy weeds, itchy weeds, poisonous weeds. All with long tentacles. Frightening. She stretched out her arm. He took it, and squeezed it hard.

 Later the same afternoon he sent for Dr Nandi. Dr Nandi was as puzzled as others were at the sight of the child’s hair colour. But having checked the girl thoroughly he declared that it was a child, one hundred percent normal. Meanwhile, Gulabi was ordered to take care of the umbilical cord and the placenta. As instructed she dug everything down in the garden, and set a jasmine plant on the top. Having performed the task quickly, she returned to the room with some mustard oil in a brass bowl, tidied up the bed, spread a large towel in between Jharna Begum and the oilcloth under her, and then climbed up herself on the bed. There, kneeling down beside Jharna Begum, she oiled her palms and got hold of Jharna Begum’s belly. She held it tightly and at the same time with a rhythmical movement began to press out the air that had invaded the cavity from the afterbirth. Air came out of all possible holes in Jharna Begum’s body, while she complained about Gulabi’s hard grip.

 Lots of Aaas and Uhuus! But, Gulabi proceeded in the same manner for an hour everyday during a period of exactly forty days. That was the time span taken by Jharna Begum to regain her flat and tight stomach so that no one could any longer believe that this belly had in its time accommodated a number of children.

 This hot afternoon, when Dr Nandi had calmed Azad Chaudhury with his diagnosis, Azad Chaudhury sat down for a while and took a few deep breaths. With each breath he uprooted some of the twisting weeds in his brain and finally decided that it was time he demonstrated his gratefulness for being gifted with a daughter. He sent one of the men- servants to buy some rashgullahas, cheese balls drowned in syrup, from the village sweet-stall. When the man returned he ordered him to take the two finest cockerels from the pen and fill an earthen pot with some of the rashgullahas. He collected two sets of clothing and sent all these to the Pir Sahib, who had provided Jharna Begum with the green bottle with enchanted water.

 Jharna Begum emerged from the delivery room — it was already evening — with the child in her arms, defying the rest of the women in the family, who advised her to remain there for forty days. They said she shouldn’t leave that room till her bleeding ceased and her uterus shrunk to its original size, the size of a goose egg. But Jharna Begum paid no heed to her concerned relatives. In the kitchen the old cook had already started to prepare chicken soup, an unspiced dish with horned fish and plantains and other so-called delicacies that normally are used to tempt an ill woman in childbed in this part of the world. Inside the room, by the window, Gulabi had prepared an armchair with a soft round pillow with a hole in the middle. It looked like the English letter O. It was supposed to ease Jharna Begum’s sore bottom when she sat there to enjoy her garden. But, as mentioned earlier, the woman didn’t feel at all ‘under the weather’. On the contrary, she felt incredibly fit and well.

 Out she would come from that dreary room. Out she would be in the open air. And so she did, amidst protests and knitted eyebrows. Only when she needed to break wind or breast-feed the baby, did she seek out a private corner.

 Hadi, Jami, Sami and Sadi, the four brothers who had missed their mother terribly during the previous nine months, and before that, those seven weeks with the seven special Thursdays, encircled her as soon as she came out of the room. They did not show much interest in the strange creature in their mother’s arms. One of them had a bunch of flowers, one had a ring made of hay straw, the third one had written down a verse from the Quran in black elegant calligraphy, and the fourth one had painted a picture of the setting sun on the river that flowed behind their house. These they presented to their mother.

 Hadi, the oldest son, whose voice was breaking, murmured embarrassedly, “Ammu!” and gave her the bunch of flowers.

 “Here, you’ve a ring, made by myself,” said the second one.

 “It’s boring to sleep without having recited the suras (Quranic verses) with you,” declared the third and stretched out his gift.

 “I’ve painted a picture for you,” announced the little one.

 Jharna Begum dried a trembling drop of a tear with the back of her hand. Then she gave Daria to Gulabi, and took all her four sons in her arms; she embraced them, fondled them, showered kisses on them, ruffled their hair, crumpled their ironed shirts and murmured tender words.

 That evening they all sat on low-legged stools around the low dining table to celebrate this family reunion. Daria was fast asleep in a wicker cradle that hung from the ceiling. The room was lit up with the yellowish light of a hurricane lamp that stood in the centre of the table. An imposing number of insects buzzed around the lamp like a live halo. Around this halo were porcelain bowls, set in a wider circle. They were filled with delicacies like hens in almond sauce, spicy wild duck, ruhufish chops and lobster in coconut milk. There were also various accompaniments like tamarind pickles, coriander chutney and green mangoes. The unusual dishes, which the cook had got used to preparing to gratify Jharna Begum’s pregnant palate, were no longer there. Neither was the silverfish dish. Truly, none was missed by anyone. A cat circled and purred under the table — its black back arching, its tongue licking its own mouth. Perhaps it missed the familiar fish-smell. Who knows?

 Every now and then its furry tail brushed several pairs of knees. The walls were embraced by the shadows here and there and a blend of aromas crowded inside a few pairs of expectant nostrils. Laughter and jovial voices were heard for a long time in that room.

 But the following day the mood of the family was subdued. From early in the morning neighbours lined up to congratulate Jharna Begum and also to take a look at the newborn. Even though grandmother Salma Begum and Gulabi made a real effort to conceal the child’s hair by putting a hat on her head, one could yet catch sight of one or two glittering curls that rebelliously crawled out from beneath the edge of the hat, which in its turn brought out plenty of improbable comments from the hearts of the baffled visitors. “By, Allah. It can’t be a human child,” said someone.

 “No, an angel,” someone answered, “I wonder if she has wings under the clothes!”

 “Did you hear that the midwife wet herself while delivering the poor child?” exclaimed someone else. “Tauba” (a slap on the right cheek; an act that normally accompanies the word to ward off the evil eye).

 “Tauba!” (A slap on the left cheek.) “Did you see her hair? It was all silver!”

 “Oh, Allah, we knew it.”

 “Her mother had conceived her by using paranormal methods.”

 “She shouldn’t have defied God’s wish.”

 “Didn’t we say it?”

 “Poor, poor child!” Much as one avoided explaining the import of these pitiful words, it was all very simple. Such a vile incident at the onset of one’s life could only mean a pitiable life.

 A bad sign!

 An unlucky child!

 Still Jharna Begum held her head high. It seemed she didn’t care what the people were saying. She went on talking, greeting and smiling her radiant smiles. Later, perhaps, she would think about these, but now her face betrayed none of her feelings. One of the maids picked her way through the crowd with a silver tray with a plate of dates and jar of cold lemon sherbet in her hands. The visitors helped themselves, casting furtive glances at the neonate. If they could’ve x-rayed with their eyes they would certainly have penetrated the hat to see the whole head. But this was not the case. They were to see only one or two silvery curls.

 Nothing more. During the course of the day they came and went at will.

 Like cats.

 Azad Chaudhury worried about Jharna Begum’s apparent sedateness and the outcome of it. He admired her patience, but at the same time he again became aware of the growing weeds in his brain; hairy weed, itchy weed, poisonous weed. All his thoughts and feelings were muddled. He looked at his wife, the way she walked, held her head, the baby with silver curls in her arms — everything made him uneasy. He watched people come and go, he watched his daughter, two soft silver curls crawling out from under the pink hat, and suddenly made up his mind to forbid curious neighbours on the premises for a while. Salma Begum prayed silent prayers and Gulabi put a round kajal mark, as big as a pea on the forehead of the child to ward off the evil eye. During the following few days the rumour spread like vapour; permeating every leak, every crack, making way, touring, detouring to every household of the little village of Gulab Ganga. It said that Jharna Begum had given birth to a silver-haired fairy child. But, unfortunately the midwife had befouled the baby. As the rumour travelled from mouth to mouth several other embellishments were added to it.

 Many incredible qualities were ascribed to Jharna Begum. While some continued avoiding the sight of her as if she were a witch, others began to treat her as a saint and claimed that she could solve their problems, cure their ailments, enrich their harvest etc. Queues were established in front of the gate, children climbed up the high wall and the high trees around it to get a glimpse of the saintly mother and her divine child.

 It was a sheer circus; the beggars gathered to get an extra coin, the vendors crowded in the hope of good business, children frisked about, and the old ones recited verses from the Holy Scripture.

 Meanwhile, inside the big walls the little girl grew and transformed into a very ordinary child. Her hair had been shaved off and buried under the jasmine bush together with the umbilical cord. But the stubs of her new hair shifted colour. It grew dark and darker. Black with a luminous shade of purple-blue. Like a raven’s wing in the sun. And the violet of her eyes became coffee brown, dark brown, not quite black.

 And by the seventh day, when there was to be a religious ceremony to give her a name, she had turned into a perfectly normal baby girl with perfectly normal features.

 It was a Thursday. The Imam was the first to arrive there. With him he had a miniature copy of the holy Quran wrapped in a velvet cover, and a large knife. Polished and sharpened. Two fattened goats had been waiting to be slaughtered by this knife on this day. The Imam performed the task in the name of God in the yard in betweenthe kitchen and dwelling house. The goats were flayed and the good meat was divided into three mounds, the same amount in each. Three meat-mounds: one for the poor ones, one for the relatives and one for the day’s feast. The last mound was prepared on open fire with a fine mixture of spices. Rice was boiled in young green bamboo reeds. Parathas were fried, ducks were grilled, rashgullahas and steamed curd were purchased.

 Two colourful party-tents were set up in the garden; one for the males and one for the females and children. Gas lanterns were hung in the four corners of each tent. One special platform was raised for the Imam to lead the religious part of the occasion. A dozen men milled about hurrying, scurrying and getting things ready. Some set the tables, some arranged the chairs, and some swept the ground.

 It was a warm afternoon. Neither torturing hot, nor pressing. Pleasant.

 A wind blew.

 A warm and nice river-wind.

 Gulabi brought the little girl out when the sun had sunk in the west, and the sky was yellowish like water with a dash of turmeric, in the dull glow of its last rays. The baby was dressed in a chalk-white frock and a pair of white socks. Her scalp, which was now bare of hair, was topped with a laced-edged hat. From under the serrated edge of her hat, her two dark eyes looked curiously around. Around her soft neck, hung a garland of garlic cloves. 

Gulabi walked past the gathering crowds to hand the girl to Azad Chaudhury. He took the baby, and went up two steps to the Imam who was sitting in the middle of the dais. By then, the guests were divided into two groups according to gender — each standing on either side of the parapet, listening to the Imam. Sitting on the dais, he read aloud a few selected verses from his Quran in the velvet coat, and then proclaimed firmly how very important it was for every Muslim to carry a name denoting his or her religious and ethnic origin. These were all very familiar words to the listeners, but still they couldn’t help but feel the solemnity of the moment as people always do on such occasions. It was all very quiet but for the Imam’s grave voice.

 The child in Azad Chaudhury’s arms dozed off, but the function proceeded as planned. All suggested names were painted in different colours on a wicker-tray that was set in front of the Imam. By each name a candle was lit. Above, in the evening sky, the fair moon had become a little brighter by then and the stars shone like tinsel. As the candles melted, everyone made the utmost effort to catch sight of the tray; some stood on tiptoe, some asked the person in front to make a little room, someone else very simply took a chair or a stool and stood on it. They held their breath with eyes fixed on the candles. The twelve candles burnt, wax melted, wicks shrunk, smoke rose. The Imam’s face bent over the tray and took on a reddish tint. Candles began to go out. One after another. Slowly but surely they flickered and died in succession till only one was left. It stood there now dwarfed and fat, but still burning, illuminating the name ‘Daria’.

 Jharna Begum’s face shone with delight, caught by the golden moon-dust-light. Long before Daria’s birth, during those magical mornings, she had decided to call her daughter Daria, for the word daria meant river. Daria was a child of the river, a water child. And, her own name, Jharna, meant source, fountain. Jharna, the source. Daria, the river.

 A List of Offences Tour Page:

About the Author:

Dilruba Z. Ara was born in Bangladesh. Nurtured on Greek mythology by her father, and hearing Indian fairy  tales as bedtime stories from her mother, Dilruba had her first story published when she was eight years old. While in university at the age of twenty, she met  and married her husband, a Swedish Air Force officer, and moved to Sweden, where she obtained degrees in English, Swedish, Classical Arabic and linguistics. She now teaches Swedish and English in Sweden. An accomplished, exhibited artist, her paintings have been used as the covers for the Bangladeshi, Greek, and U.S. editions of A LIST OF OFFENCES.

Visit her website at www.

Connect & Socialize with Ruba!

About the Book:

Daria, the heroine of the book is born under unusual circumstances that cause the people of her small village to gossip; yet as she grows she becomes an intelligent, sensitive and spiritual beauty that one feels is destined for a perfect life. After a flood, a boy is found on the bank of her river. Daria’s parents adopt the boy, and Daria befriends him. As they grow Daria begins to inhabit Mizan’s dreams and thoughts, but a sudden meeting with anglophile Ali Baba brings everything crashing down around Daria. She forgets her upbringing and falls madly in love with him and after her hasty wedding, she moves to Baba Lodge and is brought into the suffocating life of Ali Baba and his family.

Here she lives a life unloved and psychologically abused until she gets pregnant. Now she begins to hope that finally her potential for love, luck and happiness will be realised through her new-born child. Yet relations between Daria and her in-laws deteriorate further. Daria finds herself torn between the religious mandate of Islam to stay with and obey her husband and the call of her intellect and instincts to flee and forge a different life for her daughter.

Purchase your copy at Amazon.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Blog Tour: The Spellcaster's Grimoire by Mark All

The Spellcaster's Grimoire banner

 Chapter One

Summer thunder shook the house as Trish Sinclair finished the incantation, punctuating it with a startled exclamation that extinguished the black candle on the coffee table.

Eerie timing, but surely coincidental. After yet another day of writer’s block, Trish had invoked a simple inspiration spell, but those didn’t generally bring down the wrath of nature.

Sighing, she closed her mother’s book of shadows, marking her place with the advance check for the third volume of The Spellcaster’s Grimoire, her bestselling series on recreational witchcraft. At the rate she was going, there would be no third installment.

Trish had used all the harmless, sparkly spells from her mother’s grimoire for the first volume. Benton Moorcroft, leader of the local coven, had supplied enough for the second. But all that remained were incantations more dangerous or complicated than she felt comfortable giving to the public.

Thunder crashed again, the flash of lightning brilliantly outlining the closed window blinds. Not the result she’d hoped for from the inspiration spell. Clearly the universe would provide her no epiphany tonight, nothing more exciting than a storm.

She ambled into the kitchen, opened the pantry, and scowled at the cans and boxes.

Carbs would be good consolation. Instant hash browns, instant mashed potatoes—ah, mac and cheese. She grabbed the box, ripped it open, and started water boiling for the noodles.

This writing business was getting to be too much like work. She’d have to bug Benton again for new material. As old as he was, and with so much experience, he’d probably forgotten enough trivial spells to fill an encyclopedia. He’d just have to dredge up a few more for her. Otherwise, she would be revealed to the world, or at least her agent and editor, as the two-trick pony she probably was.

On the other hand, Benton might not be so helpful now. He was a bit peeved with her for spicing up Volume Two with the creepy legend from her mother’s book of shadows.

The windows rattled with the rumble of thunder once more, closer now, as Trish blew her bangs from her eyes, tossed her hair over her shoulder, and drained the noodles.

She contemplated the entire stick of margarine the directions called for, shrugged, and dropped it into the pot. She added the orange powder from the foil packet, stirred, and abracadabra, behold comfort food.

Maynard, Georgia had been built two hundred years ago around an excavated, boulder-sized crystal that channeled the hidden energy of the universe and served as the source of the town’s magic. Soon after the community’s founding, the coven leader appropriated the group’s ancient book of spells and used it to harness the stone’s flow of power all for himself. The coven historian, the Keeper of the Grimoire, used a summoning spell to gather the other witches and warlocks—who burned their leader alive. Trish didn’t see what the problem with publishing it was. The story sounded apocryphal, yet added to the truthiness of The Spellcaster’s Grimoire. And got copies into the Regional Books sections of the local bookstores.

She did feel guilty she hadn’t told Benton she was going to include the legend of the grimoire and the crystal. She had put clues together from things Benton had said and inferred that the grimoire had not been incinerated in the warlock’s funeral pyre, but still existed. Not only that, she was pretty sure Benton was the Keeper of the Grimoire. She’d told herself he’d be flattered by her broad hints that even today the coven leader protected the grimoire.

Still, the fact that she hadn’t told him about it before turning the manuscript in was a pretty good indicator she’d unconsciously known she shouldn’t publish it. But if the legend wasn’t true, why had he gotten so upset? Even if it was true, why had he gotten so upset?

Whatever, she was starving. Emotionally, anyway.

As she spooned a giant orange noodle-glob onto her plate, something heavy slammed hard into the sliding glass doors to the back yard.

“Holy freakin’ crap!”

She jumped and dropped the dish to the floor. The plate shattered, sending shards of stoneware and clumps of mac and cheese inall directions, but her gaze was on the door.

A body slumped against the glass, a haggard face plastered to it in a smear of blood.

Her pulse and breath racing, Trish started again in recognition of the crumpled form.


Stepping around her ruined dinner, she ran to the door and opened it carefully with one hand, catching his weight with the other as he collapsed into the kitchen.

“Benton! What—” She gasped as he fell against her, and she saw the intricately fashioned hilt of a dagger protruding from his back.

“Ohmygod, ohmygod . . .” Trish felt dissociated from reality, from her own body. A moment ago she’d been making comfort food, now the world had shifted on its axis, and she had a bloody medical emergency on her hands. Panic raced through her. She didn’t even know CPR.

Dizzy with an adrenaline rush, she lowered Benton to the floor, kneeling and cradling his upper body in her arms, barely aware of the tears stinging her eyes.

She had to get her shit together. Now. Get that knife out. As she stared at it, a dull shimmer emanated from it. Magic. She cautiously touched the hilt, then wrapped her fingers around it and pulled.

Benton screamed, and she cried out herself, releasing her hold on the dagger, leaving it in him.

Now what, now what? Her pulse pounded in her temples like a tympani, scattering her confused thoughts. She couldn’t handle this herself, she had to get help. “Hang on, I’m calling 911!”

Benton turned his face up to her. “No . . . Trish . . .”

“Shhh!” She rose and started for the phone, but he grasped the hem of her jeans.

“They . . . they can’t help me,” Benton wheezed, his eyelids half-lowered, his head dipping. “Listen. You’ve got to protect the book.”

She kneeled beside him again. “I’ve got to call for an ambulance!”

“Trish!” Benton grabbed her blouse and pulled her face close to his.

“I’ve brought terrible trouble to you, girl.” He coughed, and blood bubbled on his

lips. “I’m going to give you a two-part spell in case she finds you. Then you get out of here, get Aidan, and get the book. If she gets her hands on it . . .”

He was delirious. Shaking with frustration, Trish tried to pry his fingers loose from her blouse. “I’ve got to call 911! I’m getting help, or you’re going to die.”

He shook his head. “I’m already dead, you can’t save me. But here’s what you can do. What you must do.”

Trish blinked tears from her eyes, her emotions chaotic and her breathing so fast she was lightheaded. She had to get him to cooperate. “Okay, say what you’ve got to, then

I’m calling.”

“Hush, listen! You exposed our secrets, silly girl, and you’re going to make it right!”

His words cut her to the core—silly girl—she knew the truth when she heard it.

Benton’s head sagged again. “Sorry . . . Blade of Truth . . . The witch . . . she wants the grimoire.” Bright blood further stained his teeth as he spoke. “You revealed . . . that the book still exists. You’ve got to protect it, keep it from her.”

“So it is true?”

Taking a deep breath, Benton continued. “Go to Aidan McCarthy . . .”

“The town drunk?” She said, confused. McCarthy lived in a double-wide on a large wooded lot at the edge of town. He was rumored to have a Masters degree in philosophy, but he did pickup manual labor for a subsistence living. When he wasn’t working, he was at a bar or getting stoned in his trailer. He had a reputation among the local witches as a loner, a renegade, allegedly more powerful than anyone else in Maynard. Ironically, they feared he was going to have eight too many beers some night and start mouthing off about magic and witches, but McCarthy was the only magical resident of the town who’d flatly refused to talk to Trish, let alone contribute a spell to her collections.

“Tell him . . .” Benton’s breath rattled as he paused. “Tell him you’re the guardian now. He’s got to help you. Aidan was once my pupil. He can get you past my spells.”

“Okay, okay,” she said. Whatever it took to get him to let go of her. “I’ll call him.

Right now I’m calling the EMTs.”

Benton shook his head, spraying droplets of blood on the linoleum. “Wait.” He blinked, his eyes losing focus for a moment, then fastening on her again. “I’ve got to give you the spell to get away from her. She’s not far behind me.”

He was losing it. “The witch? The person who did this to you?”

He shushed her. “Listen and remember. Escape spell. You can handle it, you’re good at illusions. Well, passable.” He clutched her hair, drew her face close to his, and said a nullification spell that would prevent the spell he recited next from taking effect. Then he murmured a simple incantation in her ear and repeated it. “Have you got that?”

She nodded, tried to move away, but he yanked her hair again and said, “The second part, to animate the constructs . . .”

After he’d done another nullifier and given her the rest of the spell, his fingers loosened, and she pulled them from her hair. “Okay. But now I’m calling 911.”

“No time. You have to leave.”

Trish got to her feet, shaking, wobbly on her heels.

Thunder exploded just outside, the sound of angry gods.

At the front of the house, a deafening banging began, the door and windows rattling in their frames as if battered by a hurricane force wind.

Benton looked up from the floor, eyes fluttering. “She’s here.”

The Spellcaster's Grimoire Mark All ImaJinn Books Paranormal Thriller

The Spellcaster's Grimoire Bestselling witchcraft author Trish Sinclair has a shameful secret: she’s a lousy spellcaster, and the spells in her books belong to others. So when a dying warlock entrusts her with an ancient and powerful grimoire, she runs for her life from his murderer, psychotic witch Kate Cavanaugh. Kate pursues Trish relentlessly to obtain the grimoire, which holds spells to command the fearsome power of a magic crystal hidden in town—and Kate is determined to have that power. When the town coven refuses to help Trish protect the grimoire, she is forced to turn to cynical warlock Aidan McCarthy, who has a secret agenda of his own, and Rain Devereaux, a novice witch whose spellcasting abilities are even worse than Trish’s. As Kate unleashes the elemental might of tornados and ice storms on the trio, they desperately struggle to defeat her. But Kate is too powerful, and she manages to steal the grimoire and unearth the crystal. Trish knows Kate will use the stone’s power to exact her deadly revenge on Aidan and the town coven unless Trish can manifest her latent magical abilities to save them.



Mark AllMark All is the author of paranormal thrillers The Spellcaster’s Grimoire and Mystic Witch, published by ImaJinn Books in trade paperback and eBook formats. He has won two international writing awards and contributed to Computer Legends, Lies & Lore. Mystic Witch received a 5 Star review from the Paranormal Romance Guild, and 3½ stars (out of 4½ possible stars) from RT Book Reviews. Mark is a full-time author after a career as an instructional systems designer at a Fortune 16 company. Prior to his work in computer-based training, he held jobs ranging from gravedigger to FM radio announcer to professional rock guitarist. Mark presents writing workshops and taught his “Planning Your Novel” course at the Spruill Center for the Arts. He earned a Masters degree in computer-based education and a Bachelor of Music cum laude. You can visit Mark All’s website at
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