Coming Out Psychic

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The Little Seer, authors who look like their books, blog tour, supernatural fiction, speculative fiction, spiritual fiction, Christian suspenseHave you ever felt like all of you wasn’t welcome or accepted? I think we all have, sometimes in big ways, and it’s painful, isn’t it? Where do you go from there? It sucks the breath right out of you. I know that every time I release a new book, someone emails me and tells me my story helped them find themselves, or it changed their life. I love it that I get to serve as a spiritual support for other people’s journeys toward finding the Divine and themselves, helping people find what they’re looking for on their life path. I love pumping a little oxygen back into the room for other people on their journey. A little breathing space to allow them to be themselves while they’re still figuring out what that means for them.

I know who I am now, thanks to some special people giving me some breathing room, but this journey to accept that has been a hard one. Ever since I was a little girl, I have seen visions of heaven and angels and demons, had dreams that literally or symbolically told the future, and have for that reason always held a fascination for spirituality, the supernatural, dream symbolism, and extra-sensory abilities. I have journals full of dreams and visions and spiritual experiences I was seeking to understand. I felt at the age of nine that I had a clear choice. I could use my abilities to control and manipulate people and to access power through realms of darkness, which is what I was taught by Christian mentors that psychic readers did, or I could use my abilities for good, to help and encourage people and help them heal. I remember choosing to use my abilities for good. But at the time, I didn’t realize that there was very little difference sometimes between being a psychic, and being prophetic in a Christian context, because I misunderstood the source of information and power for psychics’ abilities. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t people out there embroiled in dark spiritual practices or those who are complete hucksters, but I thought psychic readings were devil-powered, whether the psychic was aware of that or not. And that belief held me back from exploring my own abilities for a long time, stuck in fear, only exploring Christian realms of prophecy and hands-on healing prayer–though that was a very meaningful foundation for my understanding of myself and the supernatural world.

Indulge me for a minute. I know that most people I have met these days are well ahead of me on the path of understanding just how fine and right many spiritual realities are and how they align with scientific fact, but that is not where I came from, so please be patient with me as I lay out how this worked out for me. Unfortunately, I’ve had to leave most relationships behind with people who misunderstood these things in innocent ignorance, not because we disagreed so much (though that’s exhausting being surrounded by people who quietly misunderstand you!) but because they didn’t know how to be respectful in relationships and were too afraid to give me the space to be myself. These days I won’t even allow myself to get embroiled in these discussions anymore for the most part, because it’s draining and pointless, but it was a logical and hard-won progression of learning that led me here, and to be honest I earned the shit out of this spiritual growth, and this is my story. So here goes.

The Bible says that the gift of prophecy is to be sought above all other spiritual gifts, because it can be used to edify and build up the Church. Meaning that this is a gift that helps people find God and learn how much He loves them. Christians in the West often automatically align with a theology called God of the Gaps, an old belief in the Church that basically says that if you can’t explain how something happened through science or your current understanding of the world, God must have intervened in a miracle outside the laws of nature (which I don’t believe anyway because it always seemed to me that God would have to be pretty inadequate as a Deity to have to violate his own rules in order to do something special and meaningful–I always suspected that God probably had Rules for the universe’s workings that we didn’t understand, and was operating according to His own completely wonderful amazing natural plan). This was God of the Gaps. But then by default, something else crept in, that people now call Demons of the Gaps theology. This is the idea that if God didn’t do something, and the angels didn’t do it, the only other sentient beings mentioned in the Bible are demons, therefore they must be the default explanation for any supernatural happenings that can’t be attributed to God. If God didn’t include it in the Bible, a lot of people believe that it doesn’t exist, and so treat supernatural powers or natural energies that aren’t currently understood by Christianity or by science as de facto demonic. This even includes a lot of natural energies that are understood by modern science but aren’t understood by the average layperson yet, such as the energetic basis of matter laid out in super-string theory and M field theory, which work together to explain quantum entanglement, non-local cause and effect–what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” Parapsychology, folks. The law of attraction, synchronicities, many of these things can be explained quite easily based on an understanding of the energies people put out into the world with their own bodies, and the matching frequencies they attract back to them. And that all sounds very New Age and pseudoscience (not that New Age doesn’t have a lot of things right anyway) but it actually is supported by cold hard science. Why this isn’t more mainstream by now baffles me, except for a sad understanding that most scientists don’t want to explore the connections between science and spirituality because of their own hangups.

Tarot card readers also work with a lot of pagan symbols from old indigenous nature-aligned wisdom traditions that were vilified by conquering political powers in a bid to oust the powerful priestly elite of old cultures around the world, from Roman times to who knows when–that’s always how it works in politics. So many symbols of metaphysical understanding of the world that were carried by old religions became vilified as indicators of Satanic darkness and black magic. Are there people who work with forces of darkness? Yes, undoubtedly. But I was learning that there was a lot of confusion and ignorance around who those people actually were. There were a lot of generalizations going on, a lot of harmful ignorance. Witch hunts and superstition. And all the Biblical references to divination and astrology that I had been taught were clear indicators of God’s disapproval of such practices all seemed to be saying other things. Every single one of those stories and references was making a point, but it wasn’t that divination or astrology were wrong. Unless you interpreted them in a very strange way. I couldn’t accept these assumptions, because this wasn’t just some extraneous thing that didn’t need to be explored because it was potentially dangerous. This was my life. This was my personality and my natural giftings, that kept intruding on my life whether I liked it or not. (You know when your REAL self keeps intruding on YOUR life? Yeah, I hate it when that happens, too. ;) ) It was torture not to be fully welcome in my family, among my friends, at work, and even within myself. It finally began to dawn on me that these people around me who didn’t accept me or fully see me were reflections of the battles that were going on inside myself. In short, I have been hiding my entire life, sometimes even from myself, because I thought I had to choose between being loved and being honest. Sound familiar? I’m coming out, in a way.

Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost storyBecause I was born seeing truths about people from looking at them, and accessing spiritual realms whether I asked for it or not, this led me on a journey, to really do my homework in this area and wrestle this out once and for all. The details of what I found are far too in-depth to discuss in one blog post, though I’m trying to lay out the basics for you. I know, most people reading this probably already understand these things. I grew up in a very strangely isolated religious culture. But even among the average people out in the world, many people would say leave it alone. It’s too much to unravel. There could be danger there. And that’s understandable if you’re not having these kinds of experiences that blast your ideas about time and space and reality to bits. But it’s kind of like figuring out if you’re gay, or finding out why you can see a color no one else seems to be able to see. If it seems to be a part of you somehow, you have to know what it’s about in order to sort out your worldview, and your view of yourself. So, I studied, and I looked for answers. I went to Christian revivals where I had life-altering encounters with God’s love and presence. I read hundreds, if not thousands, of books on all related topics. Comparative religion, mystery schools, metaphysics, theoretical physics’ understanding of the energetic basis of reality and how extrasensory abilities might work, shamanic traditions of the direct perception of nature (because animals and plants were talking to me–fun. I was either crazy in a family of already mentally ill people, or the world was a much richer place than I had been taught, and I didn’t know how to know for sure). I studied the Bible in light of many different people’s interpretations and worldviews, mystical traditions across the world, energy healing and alternative medicine of all kinds–because I was very sick in the meantime from a childhood full of stress and near-death experiences and needed answers for my own healing as well. This mattered to me on every level, and still I needed to know the truth, not just something that would placate my fears or make me feel less pain. I was afraid as a child that God was secretly angry at me, that He would hold me accountable for following His Rules for the universe, whether He explained them to me or not. No pressure. It was just my eternal soul on the line. Everyone around me assured me that God was Love, and then assured me without knowing it that I was by nature INVALID. Not acceptable, scary, crazy, deluded, extraneous, inconvenient, unlovable. Even though they didn’t know that was what they were saying to me, because I was hiding my full identity. I was only showing them the parts of myself they would accept. We all do this in some way, don’t we? And it’s not life-affirming at all. So in private I kept studying, and looking for answers. The right answers, if there were such things, not the ones that would make me feel good. Because I couldn’t feel good knowing I was being bad somehow, wrong, and headed for damnation.

I’m relieved and spilling over with joy to report that the God I encountered on this journey was the opposite of all that. He seemed to be more than a He, first of all, and I began to look into the ways that religion uses metaphor to code mythic truth into religious stories, because what we are talking about here is ineffable, numinous, indescribable truth about who God or the joyful imagination behind the world is and what the universe is and how it all Works. We need story to understand the nature of the universe and God, however unimaginably big and amazing He/She/It turns out to be. I began to connect storytelling and my inclination to understand everything as a story with my growing understanding of all things spiritual and metaphysical. And the result? I finally realized that the gift of prophecy and extrasensory abilities are the same gift, though they can be used in different ways just like any ability, and it is possible for people to interact with different kinds of spiritual entities through these gifts–all kinds. What I discovered was that God seemed to be much more capable AND loving than I had heard of before. The Bible began to make more sense on many levels, not less. Many of my friends walked away from organized religion long before this point, and that’s understandable too. Again–different experiences of the world. How can we judge each other so harshly? Why do I keep slipping back into anger and judging people so harshly? But because of everything I experienced, my faith deepened. God walked me through some indescribably hard times, and I always came out believing more in Him and myself. Every time. My understanding of the world was more coherent. I loved people more. I had mountain-top experiences of bliss, suddenly experiencing the connectedness of everything and everyone, suddenly seeing it all clearly. And then I would descend again, to address another layer of healing, another layer of false beliefs that had held me back. Another layer of judgments I had held against other people for hurting me and twisting me around. Another phase of discovering that what I thought I had been running toward had been running toward me, while I hid and tried to prove myself wrong. But in the end of every phase of growth there came a moment when I knew I had seen and experienced enough proof that the end of it all came down to my own ability to believe it was true. To believe it wasn’t too GOOD to be true.

I was coming home. To God AND to myself. I was raised not to trust my own perceptions, which is a pretty toxic thing when your perceptions are already out of the norm. But I had been given a gift of remarkable experiences of the world that most people only glimpse. So in the end, it came back to trust and faith. Not blind faith in ideas and having the right theology, which I discovered along the way was a rather easy to make but disturbingly sacreligious mistake, but an informed faith in GOD, and BECAUSE of my experience, that I believed I was interpreting in a reasonable way. Faith in myself as well as the universe and God’s plan for it all. So, I’m coming out as psychic. And still a Christian, though most more conservative sects would reject me for my mystical leanings. Call me progressive, emergent, mystical, prophetic, social justice and mercy. I don’t care anymore. I’m way past caring about labels here, and I understand why people use them, and I can’t hate them for labeling the world according to their experience that doesn’t match mine. I’m just running after God, only to discover every time that He’s running after me. It’s a love story with the heart behind the world, and I’m caught up in it. I believe life is a love story for us all, if we’re brave enough to reach out for it when it comes after us.

Being myself in public like this finally is a huge relief to me, even though it means stepping out of that last bit of people pleasing and that I will probably choose to walk away from more relationships over the controlling and disrespectful reaction I anticipate from revealing this. From well-meaning people I love and who love me. I suddenly understand with crystal clarity the pain experienced by my gay brothers and sisters who have done their very best to understand their own identity and experience of the world, and have been rejected by family and friends–only to go on to find a new family and new friends. I wish that hadn’t been my experience, I held on far too long hurting myself and others trying to make people understand me or refusing to be myself out of fear that they wouldn’t understand or accept me. But this is the way it is. And I have been through enough healing for the traumas in my life that I also can say I have a nice shiny gold star from a very good therapist telling me I AM NOT CRAZY. I am experiencing the end of the spectrum of life known as sensitivity. Extra-sensory perception. Telepathy. Clairvoyance, clairsentience, and clairaudience. Inter-dimensional spiritual reality. Yes, I know things about people they didn’t tell me. I can feel God’s love for people and animals and the earth. I can feel animals’ love for God. It’s overwhelming sometimes. No, I can’t read your mind, I won’t invade your privacy, and I don’t know everything. You know how you turn on the radio sometimes, and the words seem to be speaking to you? That’s all this is sometimes. Tarot cards not required. Everyone has experienced this kind of synchronicity hinting at loving guidance in some way, but for some reason my experience of life is built around it. I see visions of the future and hear angels’ voices inside my head, and they have all been leading me toward healing. And I’m not the only one. Boy is that a relief. I’m not alone. They call us Indigo Children, Highly Sensitive People, Empaths, Intuitives. Those of us who haven’t been too crippled by life have always been priests and shamans, as well as lovers and mothers and sons. We’re the psychics and animal communicators, the Snow Whites and Cinderellas of the world. The healers. And we all have a story like this. We all have trauma that led us to ourselves. In fact, some people have noted that a difficult childhood spent walking on eggshells often leads to heightened extrasensory perception in children. Psychic abilities have been called the silver lining of trauma. I wouldn’t trade this experience of the world for anything. I can even be grateful for the pain now, because it was an equally good teacher as the bliss.

In marketing they say every author and brand in publishing needs a USP, a unique selling proposition. What qualifies me to write stories of the overlap between the spiritual and natural worlds? I should say this qualifies. And as hard as it is to still have people in my life who don’t see, who don’t understand, and who in fairness couldn’t possibly think any differently than they do based on THEIR experience of the world, I’m not going to be pushed around and called invalid anymore. I know it must be a huge challenge to these people to be in relationship with me now, and the chips will fall wherever they fall as people are able to accommodate this truth or not. Every day I meet more people who DO understand, and it’s such a blessing to me. The world needs people like me, not because I’m any better than anyone else, but because I’m just as valid and because everyone needs to experience this kind of Divine connection and love. Everyone has these abilities, anyway, and it takes those of us who are high on the spectrum to show them how to access these realms of reality. How many people long to hear what God would say to them and just can’t get there because they aren’t tuned in to hear His voice? I can do that. I tell stories that bring heaven to earth, and bring people back into alignment with an understanding of their place of belonging in creation. Is that enough? To love people and encourage them the way I think God does? I think it is. And I think it’s high time I stopped being defensive with myself and other people and just stepped into being fully myself. So there it is. My final piece of the puzzle I’ve been hiding for 32 years. I’m prophetic and psychic, and it does matter, and it can’t be avoided, and it’s valuable, and it fits. I fit, and you fit, too. Everything in our experience fits, in fact, from pain to bliss. Even the things that shouldn’t ever happen to anyone can be redeemed into something beautiful, into a life story of love.

My fiction is clairvoyant, but I am also now beginning a YouTube channel where I offer a unique form of intuitive card reading–intuitive stories–based on universal story archetypes, dream symbolism, and intuitive connection with the Divine. Do you want to know what story you’re living out, and where you’re headed? Do you have a question for God or the universe about your life path? I can help you with that. I’m available now to encourage you and help you live the best story you can, that fits with your calling and your passion. My Laura Cowan YouTube channel will be a combination of personal videos on metaphysical and artistic topics I’m working with in my fiction and my free weekly Healing Path Oracle readings. Depending on interest and my schedule, I also plan to offer personalized readings, so I can connect with more people on a personal level. Thank you for reading this post, and God bless you on your path. Many blessings of love from me to you. May you find your way back to yourself, fully, so you can really live. God loves you the way you are. He made you that way. You fit, too, and your story is beautiful.

Pick Your Poison

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Pick Your Poison, fairytale anthology, humor, fiction, fantasyWow, normally I like to write about whatever’s noodling around in my head, like the metaphysical nature of… everything. But lately I’ve been busting out one anthology after another. Here’s the final for the year, as far as I know. Pick Your Poison: A Faery Tale Therapy Anthology, is an anthology of humorous or dark takes on what happens when your favorite fairy tale characters close the book on their stories… and end up in therapy. :) I’ve got a story in here called “Baba Yaga No More,” a suburban twist on the Russian myth of the house with chicken feet and its very nasty owner. You can get it in Kindle or paperback on Amazon, in time for Christmas ordering. Thanks for all your support! I’ve just finished writing a new book but changed my plans a bit. Four more books to write in quick succession, then I’ll get back to publishing the next two I have nearly ready for you early in 2015. I’ll be back soon with more info. Also I’ve got a new project in the works to create a more oral storytelling version of what was going to be my Modern Story Project this year. Be back soon with details. We’re traveling here and there and everywhere for the holidays. Blessings and be well!

Happy Halloween, Good Puritans ;)

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Sins of the Past, historical horror, horror anthology, supernatural horror, Good Puritan, Laura K. CowanHappy Halloween, everybody! In honor of the horrific holiday, I have a story out in a new historical horror anthology called Sins of the Past. My story is titled “Good Puritan,” a short story about possessed Puritans burning each other at the stake.

Religion plus supernatural horror. Go figure. ;) Go buy the book and rot your teeth, stat!

Purchase Sins of the Past

Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood — The Gold Witch, An Original Fairytale by Laura K. Cowan

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Hi guys! I’ve got an original fairytale, The Gold Witch, out in a new anthology called Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood. The paperback just came out last night, and I wanted to share my story with you here, because it means a lot to me. Also, I think you’ll really like some of the other stories in the anthology, so go pick up a copy for Gothtober or Christmas. I hope you’re having a great month. Blessings.

–Laura

Darkly Never After Fairytales

The Gold Witch
By Laura K. Cowan

From Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood

Once upon a time there was a boy made entirely of gold coins. Gold coins stacked to make legs and arms, a gold coin for a belly button, and particularly bright and big gold coins for eyes. He tried not to move too much in his cage, to keep from shaking himself to pieces. There was no reason to move around anyway, even if he could. The world outside his enclosure was dark and cold. Rock walls surrounded his hanging iron box, and the witch who fed him only came to see him once a day, when she would light a fire in the next room to warm him.
Every night the witch would come to the boy, and she brought him sumptuous feasts. The boy loved the sweets in particular, sticky rolls so light and fluffy they tasted of hardly more than sweet morning air. But the witch extracted a price from the boy. Every night she came to his cage, she demanded that he give her one of his gold coins.
“But they are all I am made of,” he protested. “What will I do if I lose the pieces of myself?”
“I need them,” the witch insisted. “I am dying, poor boy, and your gold coins are my medicine. I melt them in my cauldron at midnight each night and pour the paste onto my face, and it improves my health. You see?”
And the boy made of gold could see. The witch had a face that glowed with a golden light. She was beautiful, despite her black and tattered robes, and grew more beautiful and healthy-looking every day. The boy gave her a coin when she asked, though he had a rattling feeling in his middle about it. He did not want her to die, if she was sick. And she insisted that he was the only one who could save her life. And he did not want to be alone.
“That is why I have to keep you in this cage,” she told him, “so that we can be together and you can be safe from gold thieves until I recover and we can go away from here.” He believed her, because he could not remember a time when he had not been in the cage. It did feel safer than the dark cave around him. He gave her the coins, because he could not remember ever not giving her his coins. He worried sometimes. His legs seemed a little thin. But he could not remember if they had once been thicker, made of more stacks of coins than now, or not. The cave and the cage was all he knew and all he remembered.
The witch became more beautiful, and the boy became thinner. One day the boy began to count. He had to stop thinking of the witch’s sickness and her beautiful face in order to do it. She seemed unhappy with his lack of attention when she came to feed him, but he concentrated. If he kept just the number of coins he had given her in his mind, he could manage to keep track.
Ten. Twenty. Thirty. On the day when the boy gave the witch his thirtieth coin, his knee rattled and he had to grip it tightly to hold it together. “Surely you are beautiful enough now, dear witch,” he said that night as he handed over his coin. “Are you yet well?”
“Am I well? No, indeed,” said the witch. “I waste away and am terribly exhausted by it all, and these feasts I cook for you take so much of my energy I do not know when I will be fully recovered. This has been hard on me, this recovery. I was once twice as beautiful. But now, I am little more than a servant, cooking you these extravagant meals.”
“Oh, I am sorry,” said the boy, and sat down in the middle of his cage. He had the creeping rattling feeling again, that something was wrong, that the witch wanted to grab through the bars at him and take a fistful of coins from his chest instead of just the one. But she smiled at him and told him he was lovely, and she showed him her progress. And his limbs loosened once more.
“Am I not becoming more beautiful by the day?” she asked.
“Yes,” the boy agreed. “You look quite healthy indeed.”
“Health is just the beginning,” she snapped. But then she smiled at him again. “I wonder,” she said in her sweetest voice, “if you would give me a second coin tonight. Maybe if I could get better more quickly, I would have the energy to make you even more sumptuous feasts. And then we could both recover. If I give you more food, your coins will be replenished and we will both be whole.”
The boy’s coins trembled, and he held himself tightly around the middle. “I do not know that I have two coins to give,” he said quietly.
“Selfish boy,” the witch snapped, rushing up to the bars and reaching through. Her eyes were like fire, reflecting back the glow of his body. “You are made entirely of gold!” she said. “How could a boy so beautiful not be willing to share of his wealth with others? Especially a poor sick woman.”
The boy cowered away from her grasping hands. Her face was lovely, but her nails that scratched the cage floor were the color of the cave walls, ragged and smelling of wet rocks. She tore up the floor of the cage with her claws and sent the boy’s cage swinging. “Give me your eyes!” she demanded. “Your biggest and brightest two coins should be enough.”
“But then I will not be able to see!” the boy wailed. “You would not take my eyes.”
“You do not need them,” the witch insisted. “I am here to take care of you. I have loved you well, have I not? I have protected you from gold thieves and fed you the finest of foods and kept you warm with my fires. Help me. I need your eyes.”
The boy shivered and cowered in the back of his cage, and he would not speak to the witch any more.
Finally she stopped shaking his cage, and she gave the boy the coldest look he could imagine. He felt his gold feet begin to freeze. “If you will not give me what I need,” she said in a voice of smothered fire ash, “then I will take it.”
The witch left without feeding the boy that night, and he was hungry.
In the morning, the witch came back. Instead of being angry, she was smiling again. She had baked a whole pile of sticky rolls and held a mug of hot chocolate by the cage door. It steamed and reached out to the hungry boy with the scent of deep flowering things, releasing a sudden flash in his mind of bright flowers.
Flowers? The boy was surprised. How was it that he could remember something called a flower? They were the brightest red and climbed up a stone wall in a green glade. He had never seen a green glade. He wondered how he knew what a glade was.
He drew in his breath, and the witch looked closely at him. “What is it, my dear?” she said.
“It is nothing,” he insisted. “Could I please have some of that to drink?”
The witch drew the mug to her dusty chest. “First,” she said, “I want two coins. From your chest.”
“But I cannot!” gasped the boy. “I will be all used up soon! Please let me eat.”
“I brought you these wonderful foods to replenish your coins,” the witch insisted. “This way, we can both be made whole.”
The boy looked at the hot chocolate and the sticky rolls. He looked at the witch. “Very well,” he said. “But only for today. I need to see that my coins come back when I eat those rolls.”
“All’s fair,” the witch cackled, and tossed the entire plate of rolls through the bars.
The boy sat there all day and late into the night, eating the sticky rolls one by one, until he felt quite sick.
His coins did not replenish.
The next morning the witch came back before the boy had even woken up for the day. She rattled the cage with her stone-nailed hands. “Boy!” she said. “Your coins did not work last night. Quick. I am desperate. You must give me three coins today.”
“But the food did not work either,” the boy said. “My coins did not return. I cannot give you three coins, I am sorry.”
The witch grabbed the cage bars with her hands. The boy could see now. Her skin was no longer smooth, even by her face. It was splotched with gray freckles. The golden sheen of her smooth face was fading. “Isn’t the gold working anymore?” he said. “Oh, I am sorry.”
“It will work,” she insisted, “I just need more to complete my cure. Give me the coins.”
“But I cannot,” the boy said. “I am falling to pieces. My legs are so thin I cannot stand anymore. My arms rattle all night.”
“Selfish, selfish boy!” the witch cried. “You are nothing but gold! How can you deny me? You care nothing for me, a poor old woman with no one in the world to take care of her. You care only for yourself!”
“Maybe if you let me out of the cage,” the boy said, “we could go look for another cure together.”
“Why? So you can run away and leave me all alone? I think not!” The witch hissed and struck the cage with her fist. “That is why I have to keep you in this cage,” she told the boy, “because you never were one to be trusted. If I let you out, you will run away, and I will die a terrible death, all alone. You are my only hope, boy. You must give me more coins.”
The boy was shaking now, and his coins rattled together so furiously that he could not stop them. The sound echoed off the walls, until the cave was full of the sound of jingling gold.
The sound only seemed to enrage the witch. She grasped at the boy through the bars of the cage. “Give me the gold!” she screamed.
Suddenly the boy found himself in her grasp, being pulled toward the door of the cage. She had grasped his face, and was pulling him by his eyes toward the door.
“You want out?” she growled. “I will get you out of there, then.”
The witch struck the cage and the door swung open with fiery sparks. She grabbed the boy by the throat with her free hand, and dragged him into the next room, where her fire was still smoldering from the night before.
“You are trembling, dear boy,” she said. “Here. Let me light a fire for you, to warm you.”
The witch held the boy with one strong hand, and with the other she heaped wood on the fire beneath her cauldron. The fire grew and grew, until it was a blaze that nearly swallowed the pot in the center of it.
“You want to be selfish? Gluttonous? Horrid? Cruel to an old woman?” the witch hissed at the boy as her hand tightened around the stack of coins that made up his trembling throat. “You want to keep back what is owed me? Very well. Then we shall put an end to this game. You will give me what I want now, or you will die!”
The witch threw the boy into the pot on top of the fire. He tried to jump out, but she was on top of him in a moment, stuffing him down into the cauldron, fitting a lid on top of him. He thought he would die of the steam, the heat. He was in a furnace, felt himself slowly melting down to the bottom of the pot.
It was dark, like the cave. Hot. Wet. Stifling. His eyes began to melt, and he felt himself running down, gold over gold liquifying in the pot.
It was then that the boy began to grow. He felt himself shifting, changing, growing and growing, until he could not fit in the pot. The witch screamed and pushed down with her whole weight on the lid of the pot. But he was rising, up out of the pot. He looked down at himself, at his spreading arms. He was not made of gold coins anymore. He was a boy. A real boy.
The boy grabbed the lid of the pot from his shoulders. He tossed the witch and the lid of the cauldron across the cave, where they crumpled against the far wall. He jumped out of the pot, afraid to look down, because he felt his feet and ankles burning. Without even looking behind him, the boy ran out of the room, and through the cave with his cage. His eyes were still melting. He swiped at them, and this time his hand came away covered in blood.
The boy ran past the cage and into the passage where the witch entered every night.
Behind him, the boy heard the witch come to. She screamed, and he heard her dive for the pot in the fire. “My gold!” she cried. He heard the impact as she dove headfirst into the blaze.
“I will use it all! I will live forever!” she cried. “I will be made of purest gold, the most beautiful woman the world has—.” But her words stopped there. The fire roared behind the boy, covering the walls in the dancing reflections of flames. He ran on.
It wasn’t long before the boy emerged from the tunnel. The mouth of the cave opened into a green glade, where there was a rose bush flowering over the entrance to the tunnel. He rushed out, suddenly full of the sound of things around him. Instead of cold wet walls there were trees. Birds flitted through the sunshine. The flowers. They were in every color he could imagine and remember, and they smelled so much better than sticky rolls. He wiped his eyes again, to clear them of the blood. His hand came away mingled in blood and gold.
The boy remembered now. He looked down at his body, in the tattered clothes of a much younger boy that barely covered his scarred skin. His legs were bleeding, gouged in a hundred places on either side, as if someone had taken a spoon to him and eaten his flesh raw. His feet were steaming. His clothes smelled like the witch’s fires.
“She wanted to eat me,” he said to himself, in a daze. “She was eating me. All for a beautiful face?”
The boy looked around the glade. He could feel something within his heart stop, suddenly, and cease running. He wanted to cry. He had been in the cage for so long, and yet the whole time he had felt himself running, never still, tearing back and forth inside, looking for a way out. He had known the witch was consuming him. That was the terrible thing he could now see. It had been too terrible for him to allow himself to see before, with his bright eyes of gold that she wanted to possess, to pluck out like golden grapes and devour in a single greedy gulp.
The boy took a deep breath of the rose-scented air, more fragrant than hot chocolate, fresher than a steaming feast. Instead of rattling and jingling, the boy’s chest heaved and relaxed. He wanted to run again, to be far away from this place. But he could not, because he looked down just then, and he saw the gold, melted into the soles of his feet, creeping up his legs to fill his wounds. They sealed over with a hiss, the last whisper of the witch’s greed.
He was whole once more. He remembered sunshine, and birds, and he remembered that he had had friends once, and a father and mother who loved him. The boy with the golden feet set off down the mountainside, out of the glade, to find his family, and everything broken that he touched mended with golden seams.

Purchase Darkly Never After: Fairytales for Adulthood

Darkly Never After: Fairy Tales for Adulthood

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Darkly Never After Fairytales Hi guys! Just a note to tell you I’ve got an original fairy tale called “The Gold Witch” in the new charity fairy tale anthology Darkly Never After. Proceeds go to help people, lots of original modern and classic fairy tales. Only $2.99. What’s not to love? :) But seriously, this story actually means a lot to me because it deals with abuse and healing–subjects near and dear to my heart and work–so if you pick this up I hope you really like it. Let me know what you think!

I’m busy editing my first psychological murder mystery! Big job, so complicated I could only wrap my head around the basic plot line for the first draft. :D But it’s going well and I’ve got a big fantasy novel coming up after that that I’m hoping can be done by the end of the year. Be back later! Hope you’re all having a great fall so far.

~ Laura

Supernatural Psychological Romantic Story of Healing, Lone Cypress, FREE For 5 Days

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Lone Cypress, ballerina, abuse recovery, psychological thriller, magical realism, contemporary romantic fantasyLone Cypress, the story of a ballerina running from an abusive marriage while trying to figure out if she’s possessed or insane, is out today, and it’s free for 5 days on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it! I’m working on editing up two more books to release later this year, but it may be a few months this time. Hope you’re having a fabulous summer!

Lone Cypress

What does it mean to be possessed? By a person, by a dream, and by your demons? Shana knows. Shana was a ballerina. At least that was what her mother told her when she moved them to New York so she could pursue the dream. But after Shana was kicked out of school for experimenting with new dance forms and escaped her stage mom only to fall into a dangerous marriage, all she has left is a list of things she thought she was. The only thing still alive in her spirit is the ballet she wanted to choreograph, and suddenly it has taken on a life of its own. Shana runs, from her husband, from her life, and from the terrifying dreams that insist she make a change–until she runs out of time and must face not only her husband’s hired gun but the monster in her mind.

Magical realism, supernatural, psychological, spiritual contemporary fantasy romance. Lone Cypress is all of these things, at once a love story and a story of emotional healing, though it won’t ever let you rest on one conclusion for too long. Just how literal are the events of this story–possession, mental illness, symbolic nightmares, visions, mystical voices and magical objects that guide a young woman to a new love and community–and what is their source? Lone Cypress invites the reader to decide for him or herself how deep the rabbit hole goes, because all events point in the same direction, but just how far you suspend your disbelief will determine where the story ends for you.

Available Today! Permanence & Choice, a Speculative Fantasy Novelette Trio

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Permanence & Choice, The Scent of Yellow Flowers, The Day The Cows Came Home, Twilight in the Firmament, fantasy, novelette, magical realism, paranormal, fiction, ya paranormalIt’s launch day for Permanence & Choice, a trio of speculative fantasy novelettes about the nature of choice and permanence in the universe and what it is to be lost and found. This one is available not only in Kindle and paperback on Amazon and through bookstores but also on Nook and through Sony, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other online retailers. You can use the coupon code BC75P on Smashwords to get the book for just 99 cents now through July 5th. I hope you enjoy it! Here’s the full description.

Permanence & Choice: 3 Fantasy Novelettes

A young girl chases down clues in a dream maze, shrunk to a tiny size and running for her life from burning dollhouses and flying projectiles at night, while evading the mob’s watchful eye by day. Some most unexpected family friends help her and her mother finally make a break for freedom. Short, sweet, and unbelievably imaginative, The Scent of Yellow Flowers is a story for anyone who has ever been lost and needed to be found.

In the animal fable The Day The Cows Came Home, the farmer’s wife has died, the farmer sells the farm, and the world falls into war. At the abandoned farmhouse, deep in the Finnish wintertime when nothing ever seems to change, the animals are on a quest to understand if time is at an end and they with it–only to discover time itself is not what they assumed.

The Man in the Moon holds on while the grumpy moon tries to shake him off. His friends the stars urge him to jump, but something holds The Man in the Moon in the Twilight in the Firmament. But soon, the universe begins to change, and The Man in the Moon is off on a fabulous adventure to discover the beauty of the existence around him, and how his choices and those of other beings shape space and time.

Permanence & Choice is a collection of contemplative fantasy stories all about what it is to be lost and found again, and how our own choices shape the world.

Millennials Leaving The Church: The Story of The Child of Evangelicals (Guest Post for Bruce Hennigan)

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Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost story

The heretic book. If you’re evangelical, you’ll think it’s syncretic. If you’re progressive, you’ll think it’s obvious. If you’re atheist, you’ll realize it’s a freaking work of fiction.

My millennial friends ask me all the time: why don’t Christians speak out against the crazies like Westboro Baptist Church, or evangelicals who strong-arm a Christian institution that feeds hungry children into continuing to discriminate against gays in their employment process at penalty of un-adopting children? Even writing that sentence makes my heart hurt. This is not the religion of my youth, and yet it is. Controlling, abusive, narcissistic, bullying. It was all there from the beginning, and now it’s raging full-blaze. Writing Music of Sacred Lakes was not just a novel for me: it encapsulated a major change in my worldview, in which I finally discovered how to reconcile my Christian faith with the mystical, creation-loving sides of myself I had always known were okay but didn’t fit Christianity, according to everyone I grew up with. But that’s not where most of my peers, whom I serve with my writing, end up. So, a friend of mine asked me to write up a guest post on this topic to complement the perspective of a millennial atheist on his blog, which is also focused on speculative fiction and spirituality, like mine. Because I honestly have had my life so torn up by this dynamic, the evangelical craziness, I have had my fill of the conversations of why millennials are leaving the Church, why gays are right/wrong/loved/hated, and so this will be my only full post on this subject, laying out from beginning to end what happened to me and what I think is happening to the corner of Christianity where I grew up. And how it affects us all. I’ve already been called just about every name I can think of, and I trust my own audience will largely be more respectful than the average in discussing these sensitive topics, but if you must send me hate mail for this, please know I’ve already heard it, so make it tell-Oprah creative. I grew up being treated that way. I’m a professional-grade bullied millennial Christian. Give it your best shot because the opportunity won’t come again. :) Thanks. Here it is.

Millennials Leaving The Church: The Story of the Child of Evangelicals

Amazon vs Hachette: Like Most Wars, They’re Not Fighting Over What They Say They Are

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Permanence & Choice, The Scent of Yellow Flowers, The Day The Cows Came Home, Twilight in the Firmament, fantasy, novelette, magical realism, paranormal, fiction, ya paranormal

My next book, out June 26, will be available from multiple retailers like Amazon, bookstores (if you order it), B&N, iBooks, and Kobo via Smashwords. As an independent author, I can test different bookselling options at will instead of spending years suing my way out of abusive contracts if I want to change how my book is sold, though nearly all retailers will refuse to stock my paperback books, even on their websites, regardless of the thousands of downloads and rave reviews. Lucky for me it’s those retailers about to go out of business for their lack of stock, not me for refusing to play ball with a coercive industry. Amazon is not the bully in this fight. Could they turn around and abuse this or turn this into a race to the bottom so that no one makes any money out of books anymore like Walmart does to small town economies? Yes, but that’s not what’s happening now. What’s happening now is publishing asking you to prop up their abuse in the present market to prevent Amazon from abusing you or authors in the future, and ignoring the fact that the lowering of book prices is a natural evolution resulting from technological advances such as e-books and print-on-demand paperback publishing. In short, publishers want you to pay more for books so they can make money, not because books should cost that much anymore.

This is a long post. I’m going to say what I have to say about the war between Amazon and Hachette, and only say it once, but there is a lot to say that isn’t being said in the mainstream media. So here goes, largely addressed to the buyer of books.

Has someone told you to boycott Amazon recently? Don’t swallow that so easily. Like most stories in the news that are really a PR war, it’s much more complicated than that, more analogous to auto unions walking off the job during negotiations than anything it’s been compared to in the mainstream media (most particularly you should ignore The New York Times, Publishers Weekly and similar New York-publishing friendly operations that aren’t even attempting to report on the story in a balanced way). Eisler is spot on in this Guardian article about what’s not being said in the mainstream media on this fight over control of bookselling and pricing, mainly that this is big publishing’s 1% moment, totally ignoring their own bullying business tactics and disregard for the small presses and independent authors in the industry and insisting that they’re being persecuted, when they operate like a corrupt cartel (no really, they do: the U.S. government slapped them down for colluding to artificially raise e-book prices just last year), forcing out anyone who won’t play the game by their rules, in which they keep most of the profits for very little work these days.

Here are some questions Eisler raises in his article:

  • “If it’s evil, malignant and bullying for Amazon not to stock Hachette’s books (assuming this is even what’s happening; common sense suggests the truth is otherwise), why is it OK for Barnes & Noble and various independent booksellers (which are are actually thriving) to refuse to stock Amazon-published and self-published books?
  • Why was there so little outcry a little over a year ago regarding a similar dispute between Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster?
  • No other bookstore on earth offers Amazon’s selection. So isn’t every other bookstore by definition refusing to stock more books than Amazon does? Why is this OK?
  • Why was it OK a few years ago when the Big Five all threatened to pull their books from Amazon (collusively, as it turned out) if Amazon didn’t agree to raise its prices? Amazon is evil for refusing to buy some books from publishers, but it’s still OK for publishers to refuse to sell Amazon any books at all?”

I’ve noticed a lot of high-profile established authors acting really crazy lately, flailing around and not making any sense, mostly because they have been ignoring how publishing is changing related to technology and don’t know how to adapt, by their own admission. I agree with everything but the last sentence of Eisler’s article. For once, it’s big publishing’s authors that are being hurt by this, and that’s something they’ve never had to deal with before (hence the despair from the less established ones and the entitled tantrums from the high-profile ones). But is that grossly unfair to them? In some ways yes, and some of my own friends are affected, and I sympathize with them and hope their careers aren’t too heavily dragged down by these wars. The signs of this coming fight have been there to see for years now, so if someone signs a contract with a big publisher knowing they behave like a greedy abusive corporation that is failing to innovate and adapt to technology, there is some responsibility that falls with authors for signing those contracts and ending up caught in this long-brewing war between publishing and Amazon, though most of the responsibility still falls on the publishers for forcing them into a bad choice between going it alone in a hostile environment that threatens to ruin them if they don’t play ball or sign a contract with poor terms that in most cases won’t allow them to make a living from their writing. Nope, basically we’re back to this being the fault of the heads of big publishing houses, who have already been penalized by the U.S. government for conspiring to keep book prices artificially high, and who were recently found out knowingly taking the profits off the thicker margins of e-book sales and not passing along the profits to authors (e-books make more profits even at lower prices because they cost less to produce and distribute, and instead of celebrating this as the new glory days of publishing having some margins again, publishers have hidden their margins and paid even lower royalties relative to profit margins to authors, telling them to be happy that it’s a higher percentage royalty overall). This isn’t a new fight, at all, in fact. It’s just round two of the same war publishers lost last time, not because they’re being persecuted but because they’re finally being called to the mat for illegal practices.

Getting back to Eisler’s final statement, I’m not sure indie authors are being harmed by this. It’s everything up to this point, led by traditional publishing conspiring to keep indies out of the marketplace to stifle the competition and keep contract terms exploitative so authors have to put up with poor terms, that has been abusive and damaging to all authors, indies in particular. (Everything from booksellers refusing to stock indie titles to review institutions refusing to review indie books or charging exorbitantly for something that is supposed to be a free or near-free service, to Bowker charging indie authors something like 100 times more for ISBNs in the U.S. when publishers can buy them on the cheap and authors in other countries pay nothing at all, to awards refusing to allow indie authors to compete and book bloggers largely ignoring indie titles–all under the guise of protecting quality, even while traditional publishers have started publishing mostly books that make money, regardless of quality [Snookie’s memoirs, anyone?], and don’t even offer most of their authors any marketing support like they used to.) Publishing considers itself the gatekeepers of quality, when they actually function more like a dam, pulling all the energy out of the industry and keeping it for themselves while only letting a few authors through to viable careers. This is in some ways how they have functioned all along (I just read last week about how Agatha Christie got taken for a ride on her first publishing contract nearly a century ago, and thereafter was very shrewd in dealing with publishers), but it has become much much worse in the last decade, as the changes in technology prompted publishers to condense into mega corporations to compete against the new opportunities of technological innovation rather than flowing with them. Think it’s just competition in a tough business? Then why are big publishers pulling in something like $10bn a year, while only a very tiny percent of authors can making a living from their writing? That’s exploitative.

If publishers take their marbles and go home, possibly propping up Barnes & Noble from bankruptcy or trying again to build their own online bookselling portal or turning this into an indie bookseller vs. indie author PR war, we might be facing either fewer buyers finding us authors on Amazon (or more, if there’s less competition where people already like to shop?) or a more diverse bookselling market, but I’m pretty sure indie authors for once aren’t the losers in this war. Not yet anyway. And if they are squeezed out or taken advantage of in some way, Amazon knows they will jump ship at a moment’s notice. There will be no years of suing their way out of contracts. Indie authors are the gypsies of the publishing world. You give them a bait and switch, they pull up stakes and move on, and if it was your circus they were working in, your circus is looking a little empty now. They’re running their own circus now, and it’s a doozie, because they’re free to run things as creatively as they like. Have we forgotten that it’s authors who create the content that drives this industry? Why is it acceptable to treat them like dirt? (Don’t believe the industry looks down on authors? Hang out around the industry water cooler of #queryfail on Twitter for a while and tell me what you think of literary agents’ attitudes toward the clients they serve. Or check out the lists online of offensive rejection letters to famous authors by dismissive publishing houses. The arrogance is stifling.) They don’t have the uniform clout of big publishing, yet–author collectives are forming and growing–but they do have collective clout, and it’s growing. More than half of genre fiction published this year was indie published. These are not the old vanity-published authors of yore with terrible covers and bad writing. Well, some of it will still be bad in an open marketplace with no barrier to entry, but increasingly indie authors are hiring their own editors and cover designers so they can keep 5 times the royalties publishers will pay them and act as their own publishers. And traditional authors are jumping ship to become “hybrid” authors that are somewhere in the middle, half traditionally published and half indie. Many of the major breakout hits driven by popular demand in recent years (Bella Andre’s romance, Hugh Howey’s sci-fi hit series WOOL, E.L. James 50 Shades of Grey [forget what I said about quality on that last one for a second]) were indie published titles. You can’t close Pandora’s box. What’s happening here is a fracturing of the control big publishing held over this industry, driven by technology, and it can’t be stopped because it’s the natural flow of things. Indie authors aren’t just authors: they are functioning as their own publishers, offering up new and disturbing competition to the Big 5. Because technology levels the playing field, and that is the war publishers are really fighting. Against technology that’s been around for a couple decades already.

So in this scenario, is Amazon acting like Walmart to drive down prices, or is the Big 5 acting like a cartel-run corrupt industry where it’s pay to play? Amazon can be seen as a Walmart-like figure in reference to driving indie booksellers out of business if you like, but it’s these indie booksellers that literally laugh in the face of indie authors wanting their books stocked or signed in their stores (happened to me, twice) and refuse to carry better stock even on their scalable websites. So… that’s kind of like your grocer laughing in your face for asking if he might consider carrying a bigger selection of food, which drives you down the road to a bigger store. Except grocers don’t laugh at customers, or suppliers, pretty much ever, right? And if Amazon is supposed to be driving publishers out of business so then who is going to create quality books boohoo, then how is it that they give authors their best opportunity to make a living at writing? Indie authors are quitting their day jobs as we speak, profits are up even as prices are down. This is not Amazon vs. publishing. It’s technology vs. a bloated industry that has already hit its natural peak and is now in contraction, and isn’t taking it particularly well. And if Amazon does use its new-found clout to abuse authors and exploit them like traditional publishing already does? Well, then they’ll be the next business in contraction. Because for the first time in publishing’s several-century history, power is shifting in favor of the authors, the creators of content. Even though it’s still really fecking hard to be seen in this industry, because it does not have a functional marketing and distribution system. Except for Amazon, that has been working hard with the flow of technological innovation for nearly 2 decades now to bring you books in a better way.

Is that a bad thing to you that authors are on the rise and that publishing, the middle men, are on the decline? I didn’t think so. You can expect more creativity from this, which is at times messy and hard to sort through, yes, but more art, more books, more diversity without artists forced into pre-existing bestselling super-genres. You can expect to pay less for books and have more direct contact with your favorite artists who now operate largely online through social media. You can expect authors to write more books for you more quickly because they don’t all need day jobs anymore. You can expect more bookselling portals and cross-media formats for storytelling to pop up, and they already are. In short, this is a creativity explosion, because the dam is breaking. My condolences to all the good and hard-working people who work within the publishing machine. In fact I was one of those people early in my career, but couldn’t find much work as an editor because already the layers of editors were being pushed out of the publishing houses to save costs. There are many ways to look at this, all of them incomplete because the situation is so messy, but don’t just boycott Amazon and cut off your own favorite channel for bookselling because someone tells you they’re the bad guy. They’re just a guy. There will be other guys. But this guy is bringing you cheap, plentiful, oftentimes even more high-quality books than you have been getting up till now, and they’re not exploiting authors. Go buy an e-book and hug an author, indie or traditional. We’re all just trying to create art here. This is war, but it’s not your fight, unless you want to get involved and support authors on either and every side of the issue. Because you’re a reader, right? And readers love good books. And good books come from authors, not warring CEOs with an agenda. Just go buy a book, all right? Wherever it makes sense to you to buy it. Because you’re not an idiot who needs to be told how to purchase goods. Because the sweatshops are not at Amazon.com, they’re behind the scenes of publishers taking 90% or more of the sale of each book and leaving the scraps for their beloved authors. And it isn’t natural, and it doesn’t have to be that way, which is why it is changing. But those authors deserve your support, too. So just go buy a book you like! :)

I can see Amazon becoming a portal for indie and genre books and the major seller of e-books, which everybody has now stopped laughing about now that they prop up everyone’s bottom line, big publishers included. This could easily turn into a paperback vs. e-book war instead of just trad pub vs. Amazon, but… young people are the next generation of book buyers, and they don’t care to purchase overpriced hard copies of books. And they don’t have any long-standing associations with traditional publishing and quality, because that quality has been on the decline in their lifetime: they vote for the content they like wherever it comes from. So, basically, you can’t fight technological evolution, and you can’t trick people forever into being loyal to a corporate machine that has turned into an empty profit machine. You’d be much better off learning how to make a better automobile (or e-book, or quality title) than throwing your life’s energy into propping up coach makers. Coach makers whose union behaves like a cartel. So, my condolences again to the good hard-working editors, agents, authors, and other pieces of the publishing machine that are collateral in this war. They are the real victims of contraction and technological change, just as the skilled craftspeople of the coach-building era were out of work when the assembly line and the automobile came along. Maybe hug them too.

That is all. :)

P.S. This kind of post could actually keep me from getting a traditional publishing contract, because that’s how this industry works, based on loyalty instead of level-headed business decisions. And do you see how I’m not caring? That’s not because I want anyone to fail or because I’m happy things are in upheaval. This is a big messy challenge for all authors to navigate. It’s simply because 1) I was raised by and worked for people in the past who bullied me and wouldn’t let me flinch, and I won’t have any more of it in my life for any cost, 2) any publisher I work with in the future will not be a bully, and will bring something to the table other than bully clout to help me get great books out into the world. I believe that could happen, once this contraction of the industry is complete. I’m looking forward to it. It will be a breath of fresh air to be able to focus on great books instead of defending against abuse. And 3) there is already a publisher/platform offering me unprecedented opportunity and great distribution options and fair royalties. I have a way around abusive contracts and being someone’s collateral damage now. It’s called Amazon.

Extra Goodreads Giveaway for Music of Sacred Lakes

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Music of Sacred Lakes Book Cover, free books, free, discount books, literary, supernatural, spiritual, magical realism, ghost storyDue to the popularity of Music of Sacred Lakes during its two Goodreads giveaways and free promotion on Kindle, with 600 entries in each giveaway and over 9,000 copies downloaded during launch to make it a top 50 Kindle free bestseller on all of Amazon during launch, I’m offering a bonus giveaway of Music of Sacred Lakes for those of you who haven’t read it yet.

magical realism, laura k cowan

This is for a signed paperback, and will run the next 3 weeks. Share it with your friends and if it’s popular too, I might offer one more. This book has proven to be extremely popular among people who like mystical or metaphysical novels, with its blend of spirituality and fantasy. I hope you like it too.

Enter The Music of Sacred Lakes Giveaway

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