Witch Dance

I’ve been working on a new book called Witch Dance. I went down to the real place and took this photo at a nearby location…

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Here’s what my amazing book designer came up with, using MY photo. He’s awesome.

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WITCH DANCE

Just south of Tupelo, Mississippi on the Natchez Trace lies a place of mystery called Witch Dance.

When Thomas and Margaret Speedwell took their twins to Witch Dance for a weekend camping trip, they never imagined they would be pulled into a vortex of witchcraft, tragedy, and karma. One of the girls goes missing; the other won’t say what happened on the other side of the hill.

The tragedy pulls together a cast of characters from Margaret’s childhood and beyond – Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, Toltec ancestors, the extinct Hopewell tribe.

With the help of a childhood friend, a concerned newspaper reporter, and visions by a strange old woman, a two thousand year old mystery begins to unfold, uncovering missing children throughout generations. Who is taking them? Could it be the infamous witches of Witch Dance?

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Here’s an unedited snippet…unedited being the key word there. You, my friends, are the very first to get a sneak peek! 🙂

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Emily and Sarah squealed as they raced each other toward the pair of small hills that sat at the edge of a field. No tree or bush grew on top of the mounds. They were simply two barren knolls of smooth earth, offering neatly manicured grass and clear views of the surrounding land. These hills, historically known to be the ancestral burial grounds of the Hopewell Indians, are today known as the Bynum Mounds, a minor tourist attraction on the Natchez Trace Parkway.

The six-year-old girls raced to the hills as fast as their legs would run. This was nothing new. They raced everywhere. They’d done so since before they learned to walk, crawling faster and faster to beat the other to the prize at the end of the race. Born mere minutes apart, they held the typical sibling rivalry, vying against each other for the prized possession, the favorite toy, or the brightest crayon. But, their favorite competition was racing to the next spot, always endeavoring to be in the lead.

Margaret and Thomas Speedwell had driven down the Natchez Trace from Nashville for a long-overdue getaway with their girls. They arrived yesterday, excited for their weekend camping trip at a place just north of the Bynum Mounds—a campground called Witch Dance.

Witch Dance sounded like a fun place to spend the weekend. It sported an elaborate history, rumored to be the place where witches held their eerie rituals and ceremonies. Legend has it that witches danced around bonfires, and where their feet touched the ground, no grass ever grew again—even until this day. The sign at the entrance stating the legend about the witches was a popular place for souvenir photos by the people who frequented the site – families, ghost hunters, and the curious. The Speedwell family didn’t come down for a ghost hunting expedition. This weekend was simply a chance for Margaret, Thomas, and their girls to shed the stress of their everyday lives and have a little fun.

“I wish they wouldn’t run ahead like that,” Margaret grumbled from the parking lot.

“It’s okay. Let them run,” Thomas replied. “We can see them from here.”

Thomas sensed his wife’s tension, marked by a crease of concern peppering her forehead. He gently reached for her hand as they strolled from the parking lot toward the mounds, following their daughters. The lack of shrubbery and trees made it easy to keep an eye on the girls, but the clear line of sight didn’t help Margaret relax.

“But they always run; through the grocery store, the playground, the parking lot. I’ve scolded them a million times, but I can’t get them to stop racing, no matter the punishment for disobeying.”

Thomas squeezed her hand. “You should let them run as much as they want. Someday they’ll win medals in track or become world-class cross-country runners.” He chuckled softly, attempting to lighten her mood.

Margaret puckered her brow. Thomas knew his carefree tone of voice wasn’t going to make her concerns disappear. He knew she wanted her girls to be proper ladies, not sweaty athletes.

He felt her stiffen when they heard Emily shriek and they both watched the girls run up to the top of one of the hills.

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Emily shrieked as Sarah grabbed the back of her pink shirt, attempting to catch up, but the material slipped from her fingers. Emily stretched her arm back for Sarah to grasp, and they both laughed as Sarah grabbed on and Emily pulled her forward. The curly-headed blondes crossed over the ridge on the top of the hill and began their descent down the other side when they suddenly stopped in their tracks, their eyes wide at the vision looming in front of them.

On a perfect late summer day with a clear blue sky and bright sunshine, a large cloud rested on the other side of the hill. Not a puffy white cloud—more like a menacing shadow. It slowly swirled and circled about a foot above the ground as if some imaginary wind was trying to create a tornado, but there was no wind, not even the slightest breeze. The shape and movement resembled the twister the girls had seen in the movie with Dorothy and Toto, but there was no dirt or debris or witches or houses in the vortex, just blackness.

The girls froze and squeezed each other’s hands. Emily wanted to scream, but she could only open and close her mouth like a fish washed up on a beach. No sound came. It was as if the shadow had sucked all the air out of her lungs. The black maelstrom quickly increased in size and volume as the whirling winds began to howl, starting first as a low hum and growing louder with each passing moment. The hum grew to an ominous sound, simultaneously emitting an ear-piercing shriek and a low agonizing moan. The girls instantaneously released each other’s hands and covered their ears against the painful sounds. The turbulence continued to expand, growing larger and larger as it moved closer to them.

Even with her hands over her ears, Emily thought she heard human voices mumbling something beneath the roar of wind. She narrowed her eyes and cocked her head as if doing so would make the voices clearer. She couldn’t take her eyes off the vortex, but she felt Sarah reach for her arm. Sarah took a step forward, trying to pull Emily forward with her, but Emily pulled back and Sarah’s fingers lost their grip. Emily didn’t want to go forward. As a matter of fact, everything in her gut told her to turn and run in the opposite direction. Run back to her mother, back to her father, back to safety. She sensed a great wickedness in the sight before them, something evil in the whirling darkness. She knew a malevolent presence lurked inside of the shadow. It watched them from the blackness, wanting them to come closer. Sarah grabbed a handful of Emily’s shirt and pulled harder. Emily pulled back again. She turned to run, the pink cotton material of her shirt, again, slipping from Sarah’s grasp. Emily ran back the way they had come as fast as her legs would carry her. She was certain Sarah would follow. Sarah always followed.

The moment she reached the top of the hill, the roaring stopped. The sound of the whirring, the voices, the wind instantly vanished. She saw her parents casually strolling, hand-in-hand, toward the hill. Why weren’t they running? Didn’t they hear the horrible tornado that almost devoured their children? Emily turned around to look for Sarah, but there was nothing behind her but the bright, sunny valley below. The tornado had vanished. There was no sound, no vortex, no Sarah.

Emily collapsed like a rag doll.

Self-realization Meets Fiction

Soooo, I’m going on a personal level here that makes me super uncomfortable. But, what do they say? Truth is better than fiction?

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I’m working on a book where my married heroine is debating having an affair with a man she knew from her childhood. The angel on my shoulder doesn’t want her to do it, because I want her to be an upstanding woman with deep integrity who puts her husband and family first.

The devil on my other shoulder thinks it will make a great side story to an all ready intense book.

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So, I dug deep in my gut and examined my own standards to make the decision.

I’ve always said I wouldn’t consider an affair because I would never put my husband in an embarrassing situation. I have far too much respect for him to ever purposefully do that. But this morning, I had a revelation! I not only think and feel that for HIM – I have my own personal reasons for ME!

I come from an abusive past and find it hard to let people close to me. This includes men. I can’t open that door to trust and intimacy without a lot of emotional pushing and pulling. And that is definitely not a one-night fling sort of process.

Back to my heroine. If she feels like I do (and they always do, don’t they?), she wouldn’t have the affair, because she couldn’t be intimate with someone without first trusting them. Since the man knows she’s married, the relationship would be built on dishonesty. That’s a rocky start. The affair would go nowhere and the friendship would certainly end badly. My poor heroine. I don’t want that for her with all the rest of the crap going on in this story. Maybe we’ll stick with sexual tension and not let it progress farther. Let’s see if my personal beliefs come out in this story. If they do, you’ll know the truth about their origin. Shhh. Don’t tell anyone.

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Of course, these characters always have minds of their own, so we may find her in a moment of weakness.

We’ll see what happens….

 

Amazon Paperback Giveaways and Growing Twitter

Hi authors! I’m not dressing up this post with pictures and frills. This is business! If you’ve been trying to grow your Twitter following, this post is for you.

Amazon has a new program for authors of paperbacks. Scroll to the bottom of your Amazon paperback page, underneath your reviews. You’ll see “Set up an Amazon Giveaway.”

Here’s how it works:

You can offer as many books as you’d like, keeping in mind you have to pay retail price + shipping + applicable tax. You can set up the giveaway in two ways. 1) first come, first serve. Don’t pick that one. Or 2) offering your book to a lucky number (entrant). You can require your entrants follow you on Twitter. If you choose option 2, click “lucky number” and the button to connect to your Twitter account, select the winning entrant from 2-50,000, enter the number of books you’re giving away. The giveaway will run for one week. You cannot change the dates.

MATH: I know what you’re thinking – if I give away 5 books, 1 to every 20th entrant, I’ll get at least 100 new Twitter followers. No, no, no, think bigger. That’s what I did the first time and the 5 books were gone in less than a half hour. Yes, I got just shy of 200 Twitter followers, but the giveaway was over before I even told my Facebook people to enter. Set it up for a BIGGER number. If you give a book away to every 1000th follower, you would get 5000 Twitter followers! FIVE THOUSAND. It’s taken me two years to get to eight thousand. Maybe even go bigger if you’ve got the guts! You need to fill out three short blurbs, one to announce the giveaway, one for the people who didn’t win, and one to congratulate the winners. The contest is instantaneous. The entrant learns if they’ve won or not at that moment, so they’re not going to put off buying your book because they want to wait and see if they’ve won. I filled out the forms like so: Enter to win one of five paperbacks of XYZ. – Sorry, you didn’t win this time, but stay tuned for future giveaways. – Congratulations, you’re the winner! Enjoy XYZ and please check out all my books.

WORK: The cool thing is that Amazon does all the work. They contact the winners. They ship the books. You do nothing! It costs more than hosting a giveaway yourself, but when’s the last time you got 5000 Twitter followers from your giveaway?

MONEY: My paperback sells for $9.99, so my total cost for 5 books with shipping and my Tennessee tax was about $82. I got $13 back in royalties from CreateSpace AND I got credit for the sales in my Amazon rankings.

THE PIS DE RESISTANCE: If you don’t give away all your books in the allotted week, Amazon will return your unused money.

If you try it, let me know your outcome. We’re all in this together. 🙂

 

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Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.

#2 Behind William Freakin’ Shakespeare!

My book I, JOHN CULPEPPER is sitting at #2 behind William Shakespeare…YES, THE William Shakespeare. If for some crazy reason I pass him, I will consider it my best. day. ever. 🙂  Pick it up HERE for $0.99 and make it happen!

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Release Day for John Culpepper, Esquire!!

JC Esquire (1)Today is the release day for my new book, John Culpepper, Esquire!  It is the third in the Culpepper Saga, but is also a stand-alone story. The saga is the life story of the progenitor of the modern-day American Culpeppers and my 10th great-grandfather.

The first book, I, John Culpepper, (on sale for $0.99 through 7/28) tells the story of John’s childhood in England, growing up with a wretched father whom he didn’t see eye to eye with. John always wanted to sail a ship but his father demanded he go to law school or face being disowned.

The second book, John Culpepper the Merchant, continues the tale as John tries to run his merchant business and raise his family while his homeland descends into a bloody and deadly civil war. By the end of the war, John’s ship is the only rescue for his family, now considered traitors.

In this third book, John finally gets his family to safety in Virginia, but their new start isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Here’s the synopsis:

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John Culpepper was a prominent figure in colonial Virginia, a merchant in Jamestown for two decades and a resident since the disastrous civil war that shook England to its core. The Culpepper family, decimated by the war, had known great defeat, but none as heartbreaking as the tragic event that abruptly left John in the position of family patriarch.

He struggled with this newly acquired role, marrying off his nieces to eligible colonialists, sending some of the boys back to England, purchasing a ship for his sons against their mother’s wishes.

Upon the collapse of the English Commonwealth, members of John’s family escorted the exiled prince back to London to be crowned as King Charles II. Would the Culpepper family finally reclaim the power and prestige it had once possessed? And how would John hold his family together on two continents?

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The fourth book in the series, Culpepper’s Rebellion, will take John down a horrible and desperate road, where the law training he despised so much in his youth becomes the only thing standing between his youngest son’s life and death. It will be released in late October 2015.

There will also be a subsequent Culpepper book that is not part of the saga, but will refer back to the characters. The Culpepper-Fairfax Scandal will be released in early 2016.

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It’s Monday! What are you reading?

2a2It’s Monday! What are you Reading?

 

 

This week I read “Behind the Bar” by PC Zick.

 

 

 

81G7RBonO5L._SL1500_The first thing that came to mind while reading this story was the movie “The Breakfast Club” –except ten years later. The relationships are intricate and sometimes painful as there tends to be a lot of psychological baggage carried from teenage years into adulthood, especially when done in a group like these characters. Sometimes one must forgive and forget to move on, but in the case of Susie Williams, one must remember in the first place. Susie is a young woman who has blocked out a majority of her abusive childhood, until her friends help her piece the puzzle back together.

I absolutely loved these characters, especially Sally Jean, and the final conversation between Susie and Sally Jean literally brought tears to my eyes.

“Behind the Bar” is the second book in the “Behind the Love Trilogy.” If you start with this book, you’ll find the first few chapters move pretty fast, and you’ll have to figure out who everyone is, which I’m sure is explained in more detail in the first book. That being said, you can start with this book and catch up quickly, not feeling as if you’ve missed anything because this is a stand-alone story. I guarantee you will love this group of misfits and find yourself going back to the first in the series “Behind the Altar.” The third in the series, “Behind the Curtain,” will be released soon, and I can’t wait!

For those sensitive to adult language and situations, there is a little bit in this book, but not enough to curl your hair.

088eb14324190ad8956eff.L._V146807737_SX200_Check it out at Amazon!

Visit Ms. Zick’s website!