Ten years ago, the world as we know it changed. The shift is what it became known as. Overnight, paranormal beings came out of the proverbial closet. Something, in reality, had shifted. Those who had no idea they were paranormal were awakened to a new reality. Ten years in and Harlowe Lake Kelly, Harley to her friends, is back in her small Oklahoma town, widowed and striking out in a new career, namely, a successful magic agency. Her uncanny abilities at using potions, spells, and other means at solving supernatural crimes, thrust her into a partnership with local law enforcement.
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This story was the beginning. It inspired what has become a novel…and beyond.. about Grace.
It all began with this Hallows Season tale…..and so it seemed fitting to share this story, and get you ready for the rest of Grace’s story, coming in 2018.
The Fall of Grace
By Nadia Romanov
The dried leaves crunched beneath her feet as Grace Kelley walked through Central Park.
Autumn had always been her favorite time of the year; the colorful leaves, the warm snuggly sweaters, the stylish boots, the delicious and aromatic foods and beverages. When the Pumpkin Spice Lattes came to Starbuck’s each year, it was the beginning of a season of bliss.
Grace loved living so close to Central Park. It was her oasis of nature amid all the hustle and bustle of New York City. She loved the city; loved working there and loved living there, but at times she needed to reconnect with nature, to feel the seasons change all around her.
Today’s walk through the park however, was not full of joy. There was no appreciating the beauty. No feeling of connection. Quite the contrary! Today, Grace felt disconnected from everything, most of all herself. The dried leaves crunching beneath her feet sounded dead, breaking as they crunched into particles on the ground.
This year had been hell. Plain and simple, a living hell. The list of top stressors in life had all occurred in her world as if racing through to finish a ‘bucket list’.
Grace’s move to the city had been met with resistance from her family and friends, but was necessary for her new job. She loved her apartment with a stunning view of the park, but the move had been painful. Hiring movers to help her relocate as friends and family refused to speak to her, let alone help, was pricey in more ways than just financially.
The new job was wonderful. She loved being an editor for a national magazine, her coworkers were wonderful, and she still, a year later, felt the exhilaration of it all as she stood each morning in front of the prestigious building she worked in. The hours were long, Grace grew tired and felt unsure of abilities and skills long since honed to professional perfection, so even her career added stress.
Divorce and death, the other two on the top stressors list. These two had come to visit as well.
Grace’s parents, married happily for 30 years, suddenly announced that their marriage was over. As her mother, Dawn, so eloquently phrased it, ‘now that Grace has moved away, why bother anymore’. Apparently, her parents had grown apart. What did that even mean after decades together, sharing sickness and health, lean times and expansive times, plus of course 4 children?!?! Neither wished to discuss it, so much so that they weren’t even blaming each other. It was just over. The end. Kaput. Sure, she no longer lived at home, but Grace’s foundation was shaken. There was no home base to return to, no more full family times to look forward to, and a new doubt if anything was as it appeared.
And death…Grandma Cassie had passed peacefully in her sleep just three months ago. Grandma Cassie was the stereotypical grandmother, with a twist. Spunky, witty, and sharp as can be – certainly sharper than one would expect of a 95 year old woman. Grandma Cassie had seen and experienced a lot in her life. She was a colorful character, who baked sumptuous feasts, sewed delicate silk dresses for Cassie and her sisters, and kept a tidier home than women a fraction of her age. Her daughter, Grace’s mother, was not close with Grandma Cassie. Fortunately, they lived just down the road from each other so the children grew up with the elderly woman in their lives despite their own mother’s disdain for her. Why was there distance between the elder two generations of the family? Simple, yet sad really. Cassie had been known back in her home country as a gypsy, a magic woman, and even as a witch. She blended teas, brewed tinctures that could cure all that ailed you, read palms, cards, and tea leaves, had candles always lit throughout her home, and one could taste the magic stirred in to all she cooked. All of the wisdom and knowledge, and mystical practices that had been shared mother to daughter in this family line, stopped short at Grace’s mother. Dawn was ashamed of her mother. Felt she was weird and embarrassing, even when her friends found Cassie to be delightfully warm and inviting, even if also a little bit eccentric and mysterious.
There was never any magic discussed nor allowed in Dawn’s home as Grace and her siblings grew up. They were also not allowed to ‘play with any of that stuff’ over at Grandma Cassie’s house either.
When Grandma Cassie died, Grace lost her best friend, her warm haven of refuge, comfort, and wisdom, and her only link to the spirituality her bloodline practiced.
What a year! It had ALL hit….or so Grace thought.
Yesterday, the doctor confirmed that Grace’s autumn cold had progressed into a mild case of pneumonia. What a blessing that her boss was understanding and was fine with Grace working from home, and a light load at that, until she was well.
Dawn had made one of her rare calls to her daughter, and heard the stuffed nose and raspy voice on Grace’s end of the line, and insisted on coming to visit to lend a hand. At the time, Grace had been relieved. How nice it would be to have someone take care of her, even for a day. It would be nice to hear her mother in the kitchen, heating soup, boiling water for tea…or cocoa if she could persuade her. The feeling of ‘home’, even if for a fleeting day of sickness.
Dawn arrived early and whisked Grace off to bed. As anticipated she called the pharmacy and had Grace’s prescriptions delivered, and began working in the kitchen, where soup and a casserole were soon cooking.
Grace fell asleep, feeling warm, loved, and safe.
An hour into her nap, now just a mere two hours ago, Grace jumped awake to the sound of a crash and her mother’s screams. Racing into the living room, Grace found Dawn standing in front of an antique chest, which had been covered with a decorative cloth. As she straightened up the already tidy living room, Dawn had discovered Grandma Cassie’s trunk. The cleaning supplies clattering from her hand as she screamed were the mild beginning of her reaction.
‘How dare you Grace!! What is this? Where did you get it? Why do you have THAT, here??!!’ Dawn yelled at her ailing daughter.
Grace explained that just a week before Cassie’s passing, she had visited her at her request, and was given the antique chest.
Were ‘those things’ still in it? Dawn inquired, referring to Grandma Cassie’s candlesticks, cards, and other ritual items.
‘Yes Mother, they are, and before you even ask, yes I use them. I have been a practicing witch since I was a teenager, and I am honored to have inherited Grandma Cassie’s sacred items’, was Grace’s reply.
As Dawn screamed at her, calling her a freak, an embarrassment, and cried, wondering aloud how she went wrong in raising a sane GOOD daughter, Grace calmly got on her coat and headed to the front door.
‘Grace Kelley, go for a walk, clear your head, and when you come back, I expect you to pack these things up and get them out of here. To the trash is best – that is where this nonsense belongs! No daughter of mine will be involved in such antiquated notions.’
Grace walked on through Central Park, barely able to catch her breath through her pneumonia affected lungs. Leaning against a tree, she closed her eyes, and sought to regain balance.
‘Hey Lady, what you dressed up as? A Tree Hugger?’, yelled some smart alack teen riding by on his bicycle.
Dressed up? YES, how could she have forgotten?? It must be that losing sense of time that happens with long illness induced napping. Today was Halloween – the Witch’s New Year, also known as Samhain.
Grace smiled to herself thinking, ‘Wow Mom, you sure picked a great day to challenge my faith’.
Then it hit her. Indeed, it was a great day for that. The veil between worlds was thinner than it had been all year, and Grace knew for certain her Grandma Cassie could hear her thoughts and feel her heart’s torment.
The wind blew and whispered into Grace’s ear. She smiled. Finally, she felt the brisk autumn breeze nip at her cheeks. She smelled fireplace smoke from nearby homes.
Slowly, Grace started to walk back to her apartment. As she walked, she reveled in the lively snap and crackle of the dried fallen leaves as they sassed back under the pressure of her footsteps.
Everything was clear. Her parents had not been the only ones with secrets and false facades during her youth. She too had hidden the most cherished part of herself. She was a witch – in faith, in practice, by blood, and by choice.
Grace walked through her front door, feeling stronger than she had in months, and hung up her coat.
“You are back. So Grace, what will it be? What do you have to say about your fall from…well… grace?”, asked Dawn through pinched lips.
“Mother, I love you and respect you and I hope you can come to do the same for me. I hope one day you will find love and acceptance for both your mother AND your daughter.”
Grace started to walk back to her room to rest, fully winded from her emotional journey during her walk through the park. She saw out of the corner of her eye that her mother was approaching the coat rack, presumably to take her leave of her errant daughter.
“Oh and Mother, it is not my fall FROM grace, it is actually the Fall OF Grace…and I hope you can be happy for me.”
Grace went to her room and got into bed. She took comfort in the fact that her mother had closed the front door quietly, no angry slam, and with that sprung the tiny sprout of hope for heart to heart talks over the holiday season. Grace set her alarm for an hour later, so she could be rested and ready for her Hallows ritual later that night, and she dozed off feeling the magical presence of her Grandma Cassie, and the power of finding her own way.
© Nadia Romanov 2012
(This short story was written to meet the specific guidelines of a writing contest. It was required to be autumn related and contain a connection to the metaphysical. I seem to have done at least adequately well as this story won an award.)
You can find Nadia and updates about her various projects as well as random posts, poems, photos, and more at this social media links:
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Lady of the earth’s desire and the earth’s yielding, of the sap rising and the embrace of longing, as the kiss of the sun, awakens you, we too are awakened to the yearning of our bodies and souls. As you unfurl each petal, you release the scent of bluebells, may and apple blossom – this is your love song, your call to union – and we too must answer. Maria Ede-Weaving
I say that tongue in cheek, yet Beltane is one of the most well-known pagan holiday celebrated in the nude. While many traditions do high holidays and other sabbaths in the nude. Beltane marks the return of life and abundance to the earth. It’s a day to celebrate life and fertility. It marks the time of the fire.
The veil between the two worlds also thins for Beltane, just like it does at Samhain (Halloween). Bonfires have always played a large part in the celebration. The fires are believed to have protective qualities. Farmers would parade their cows around the bonfires to be exposed to the protective smoke. People would leap over the flames in feats of daring. Once the fire had died down the ashes were spread on crops, livestock, and daubed on people.
Sex during Beltane is called the Great Rite and is considered sacred sex, much like Hindu Tantra. Having sex during Beltane is considered an act of devotion. The act of sacred sex is thought to encourage the growth of crops. A baby conceived on Beltane is thought to be a direct blessing from the gods.
Last, yet certainly not least, the festival is a celebration of the Sacred Union between the God and the Goddess. The Goddess is the essence of life. The giver of life. The god, in this case, is the Green Man her divine consort, and passionate lover. The movie “The Mists of Avalon” beautifully portrays this ritual.
Take some time to smell the flowers, enjoy the outdoors, and maybe even have a happy naked pagan dance of your own.
Thanks so much for allowing me a guest spot on this blog. I’m so happy to be featured here.
Have you ever jokingly tossed out an idea … and it turned out to be just what you needed? That’s how Shore is Magical, my latest Gulf Shore novel and my first paranormal, was conceived.
I was doing an online chat with other authors when the subject turned to paranormal novels, particularly shape-shifters. Confession: I haven’t read too many of those books, usually preferring reality (or a reasonable facsimile of it) over fantasy.
The other authors were discussing the merits of the animals usually favored in shifter novels: tigers and other big cats, bears and wolves, primarily.
“How about a dolphin shifter?” I kiddingly suggested in full smart-aleck mode. Dolphins are one of my favorite animals and have been since I was a little girl who listed Flipper at the top of her must-see TV list.
Surprisingly—to me anyway—the other chat participants quickly and enthusiastically chorused their approval of dolphin shifters. So I thought, why not?
The challenge was fitting a paranormal story into a contemporary romance series that’s firmly rooted in real life. I spent more than thirty years working as a newspaper reporter and editor, pursuing a fair presentation of the facts as both sides saw them. Making things up doesn’t come as easily to me as to other authors.
I do a lot of research to ensure that my Gulf Shore novels stay within the realm of possibility. And I volunteer at a marine animal hospital, so I’ve seen firsthand how such operations conduct themselves.
So how do I justify a heroine whose very existence defies belief?
By making the details of her story as conceivable as possible. And by letting the other characters express their skepticism and at times outright rejection of the idea that a person can assume an animal shape, and then change back.
Despite her otherworldly ability and a lifestyle shrouded in secrecy, Marina Seaward, the leading lady of Shore is Magical, is not that different from other women. She squabbles with her sisters and takes family obligations seriously, but chafes at the strings that bind her to their restrictive traditions. Seeking true love, she’s beaten down by a jealous and controlling man but fights to preserve her identity and independence.
Marina isn’t looking for a savior or a prince charming. And that’s a good thing, because Kenshin Hamasaki is neither. He’s a good man but a flawed one, and he hasn’t fully recovered from the tragedies that nearly sucked him down a dark hole of despair.
Kenshin’s wounded heart and soul urges him to play it safe, but he’s inexplicably drawn to the mysterious stranger who risks everything in an effort to fit into his world in pursuit of her happily ever after.
Lurking in the background, however, is a dark presence from Marina’s past, who threatens to end this unlikely pairing before she and Kenshin can fully explore whether they’re destined to be together.
Find out whether Marina and Kenshin’s relationship ends in romance or ruin by snaring your digital copy of Shore is Magical, Gulf Shore book 4, available now from all major e-book retailers and from liquidsilverpublishing.com.
Here’s a snippet from one of my favorite scenes in the book, when Kenshin first encounters Marina in very enticing human form. This scene takes place in the marine animal hospital at Gulf Shore Aquarium, where Kenshin works. He thinks he’s helping to rehabilitate a rescued dolphin, but he gets the surprise of his life one night.
Looking up, Kenshin almost dropped his phone. He stared, eyes wide, mouth open, as a lithe form emerged from the pool, water cascading down her body. Where had she come from and, more importantly, why was she naked? Then he glanced behind her and received his second shock.
The rescued dolphin was—gone. Impossible. He gave his cheek a light smack to make sure he hadn’t succumbed to exhaustion and passed out. That was entirely possible, given he hadn’t slept more than two hours at a stretch since leaving Erica’s bed.
If this was a dream, it was incredibly realistic. Off the charts sexy, too.
The woman sauntering toward him was hotter than an egg yolk on Florida asphalt in August. Her brown hair framed a pair of turquoise eyes that shimmered like the sea. Her rosebud nipples all but begged for his touch, and he imagined himself at home between her long, supple legs, which were as toned as the rest of her.
The corners of her lips tipped up as if she’d read his mind. Kenshin’s gaze darted around the rehab unit, looking for backup if he needed it. But Kelsey had gone home early for a change, Flipper probably was loading up on caffeine and carbs, and Sitara was in her office catching up on paperwork.
Kenshin’s carnal fantasies dissolved amid concerns about a massive security breach.
“Who are you, and why are you here?” he demanded.
“You know who I am.” The woman’s voice was as smooth as spiced rum sliding over ice cubes. “You just don’t want to admit it.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Your friends brought me here from the beach, jostling me around in that canvas thing. What do you call it?”
“Are you talking about the sling?”
“It felt like they dragged me across a rocky sea bottom. Very bad for the delicate skin.” She pouted and pointed to a chafe mark on her elbow. “Get something softer, for Poseidon’s sake.”
“This is…insane. Why aren’t you wearing clothes?”
She shrugged. “I didn’t bring any.” Cocking her head, she studied him for a moment before her expression turned playful. “Don’t you like me as I am? I thought the males of your species enjoyed seeing females without garments.”
What an odd way to say that guys lust after naked women. “You’re beautiful, and I think you know that, but it’s beside the point.”
She’d come close enough for Kenshin to stroke a hand down all that lush, bare flesh, and he almost did so to make sure she was real. Common sense kicked in before he acted on the impulse. Besides being a stranger, she was, well, strange.
“Listen, lady, I don’t know what your game is but—”
“Game? There is no game. Your people rescued me, and now I’m your responsibility. Isn’t that how this works?”
Kenshin glanced around again, convinced that any minute Flipper or someone would leap out and scream, “Gotcha!” This had to be a prank. Stuff like this didn’t happen otherwise, at least not to him. But after that dolphin encounter at the reef, anything seemed possible.
Kenshin felt her warm breath on his face. It smelled…fishy? When he wrinkled his nose, she clapped her hand over her mouth. Now she was self-conscious? He looked into her eyes, an inviting shade matched only by a secluded tropical lagoon.
“What’s your name?”
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And now a word about the Gulf Shore series
My contemporary romance series is set in the fictional west-central Florida beach town of Gulf Shore, where you’ll taste salt on your skin and feel sugary white sand between your toes, the warm sun on your shoulders, and a sea breeze ruffling your hair.
You’ll meet swoon-worthy alpha males who aren’t embarrassed to cuddle a rescued baby dolphin in their muscular arms, and accomplished women looking for an equal partner who thinks that smart is sexy.
You’ll get up close and personal with sea life, join the “snipe and gripe” club for girls’ nights out, and fall in love with a talking parrot who acts like a little boy in a bird suit.
You’ll go behind-the-scenes at the local aquarium and out to the beach to rescue marine animals in distress and to cheer others as they return to the wild.
And once you visit Gulf Shore, you just may find yourself wishing you could stay.
Connect with Annette
Website and blog: www.annettemardis.com/
Twitter: @AnnetteMardis48 https://twitter.com/annettemardis48
As a girl, Annette dreamed of being an astronaut, but she stank at science and math and became motion sick riding the bus home from school. So she went with her second choice—newspaper journalist—and stuck with it for more than three decades. After years of ignoring well-meaning people who said, “You should write a book,” she finally did. And then she wrote a few more. When she’s not working, Annette usually has her nose in someone else’s novel or her gaze glued to sports on TV. She has three totally spoiled pets, enjoys being the designated sightseer on her husband’s Harley, and volunteers at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home of diva dolphins Winter and Hope from the Dolphin Tale films.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmond Burke
This, perhaps above all, is the principle by which, writer, Nadia Romanov walks through life. Known for her blunt style of written expression, this self proclaimed ‘speaker of unpopular truths; is adamant about giving a voice to those who go unheard, and speaking of experiences, we all are more comfortable keeping silent.
After years of sharing life perspective blogs, poetry, and reviews of her favorite books, film, and music, Nadia is about to release her first book.
Due out in January 2017, “Essays from the Edge” is a collection of experiences from in and around Nadia’s life, and the lessons she learned from them. Viewing life as a series of ‘edges’ on which we precariously balance, always with the choice of fall, fly, or stay steady and climb, the notoriously private Nadia, opens her life and heart to her readers.
Why is this book, and not the novels she has in queue to publish, being shared first? ‘We are all constantly presented with experiences, opportunities to shrink or shine, learn or regress’, says Nadia. “I don’t believe anyone else necessarily needs the same lessons that I have, but I am hoping, that in sharing my process for excavating the gem from the rubble, others can either gain an advantage, or see how to carve out their own path with a few less bruises. Some of these stories are funny; it is not all heavy and intense, but that too is a point to remember – lessons can come easily, and sometimes amidst laughter not tears.’
Spanning her life as a single mother, business woman, writer, mystical consultant, social advocate and more, we get a glimpse into Nadia’s family, her work with the homeless and abused, her love for literature and film, and much more.
Nadia will be sharing excerpts from ‘Essays from the Edge’ as it gets closer to release. Follow her on social media for information on preordering a signed copy, as well as for her blogs, book excerpts, and other wordy wonders.
Facebook: Author page: https://www.facebook.com/NadiaRomanov13
Essays from the Edge page: https://www.facebook.com/EssaysfromtheEdge/
STOP- and take time to smell the pumpkins!
Fall is my favorite time of year. I literally come ALIVE with excitement! The crisp air, the holidays and the rising spirits in those around me.
I used to take on too much and actually MISS the enjoyment. Had my October plan . This haunted house, that pumpkin patch, this line-up of horror movies and baking, baking, baking.
Now, I’ve slowed to actually ENJOY the month!
For those that love to tackle a lot, here’s a few fun ideas.
Monster fingers & Blood Soup. (Rolled Bread sticks stuffed w/ham and cheese and shaped into fingers served with tomato soup)
Frankenstein Casserole. (Chili with cornbread mix on top then use carrots, olives, green and red bell peppers to make a face.)
Spider Web brownies! (Brownies cooked on stoneware pizza sheet then white icing to create web)
Pumpkin Pizza’s. (Simply split English muffins, top with pizza or spaghetti sauce & mozzarella, then using a pizza cutter, shape pepperoni into triangles to make “pumpkin faces.”
Take clear Solo (or store brand) cocktail cups and with marker, make a Frankenstein face (then fill with Pistachio pudding) or a pumpkin face (and fill with orange jello or pumpkin pudding (or dye vanilla pudding)
All time favorite? KITTY LITTER CAKE! (Just google for directions)
Now, onto MOVIES!!!
Favorites for Family:
The Witches with Angelica Houston
For the Grown-Ups:
If you’ve somehow missed American Horror Story rent/buy, Season 1 and 4 are my favorites!
ANY old Vincent Price flick! (House of Long Shadows, House on Haunted Hill, Edgar Allen Poe’s the Raven, House of Wax, Madman, any!
The House on Haunted Hill remake was really good.
As was Rose Red and The Haunting!
*Decorations! They don’t have to cost a lot*.
(2) Wooden Pallets, spray paint black (don’t worry about covering, just paint enough they aren’t blinding pine white) lights underneath a few tombstones on top or zombie hands or plastic dollar stores skeletons!
Use PVC to create a giant grim reaper. (PVC and Elbows, then drape a black sheet on and around then put some lights underneath!)
Bottom line, HAVE FUN!!!
For those of you who are readers of mine….
Coming SOON- Dark Justice: Vengeance with Style!
What do you get when you combine Six Bad guys, Six Heroes with Six Different Authors and Stories ?
One wicked, steamy book where being bad — never felt so decadent!
Find me all over the place or at the below-
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