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a short story by Elizabeth Engstrom

Veteran writer Elizabeth Engstrom is at her best with her finely-crafted short fiction. Known for her dark fantasy novels and stories as well as mysteries, she combines genres here in “Crosley,” an erotic story of love and loss, of longing and heartbreak and justice. Engstrom is the author of thirteen books and well over 250 short stories, articles and essays. Her most recent novel is York’s Moon, a critically-acclaimed mystery, and her most recent nonfiction book is Crimescape’s Something Happened to Grandma. Engstrom is an author, teacher, editor and former publisher who is a sought-after panelist, keynote speaker and instructor at writing conferences and conventions around the world. She is on faculty at the University of Phoenix. 

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Brittle Bones and Old Rope

a short story by Alan M. Clark

World Fantasy Award-winner Alan M. Clark brings you “Brittle Bones and old Rope,” the story of a dead little boy’s search for meaning. Dylan and his companions, seven other dead individuals, occupy a country cemetery. To leave the confines of the cemetery is to “pass on,” as they call it, but it is unclear what that means. An unaccountable pain that grows worse with time eventually forces everyone to pass on. Those who have, seem to disappear upon leaving the graveyard and may merely cease to exist. Dylan has been dead for a long time, longer than he lived. He resists the pain and is unwilling to go to whatever lies beyond death without first understanding the purpose of his existence. He cannot endure the thought that his life and death have meant nothing, and he is determined to perform some act that will give his existence worth before passing on.

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To Kill a Common Loon

a novel by Mitch Luckett

“I had to become a bird in order to become a man,” Grandfather Two Loons told the boy. The boy grew up into a latter-day minstrel, wandering the highways with his dog, Medusa. He’s lost his way. He’s lost his knack for carrying a tune. He’s thrust into the Olympic Mountain wilderness without a clue how to survive. He’s got a dragon on his tail, a cougar at his throat and a murder on his hands. His one saving grace is he’s got avian pluck in his heart. With spiritual guidance, he might be able to solve the murder, get back his beat, and find a place to call home.

“LOON reads like a cross between Carl Hiaason and Edward Abbey. Mitch Luckett has invented crazy but convincing characters, both human and animal, in a magically, realistic whodunit. I loved it, especially for its subtle message that without a connection with the natural world, humans are destined to wander about the earth with no real spiritual grounding. I’ve always wanted to come back as a raven. Now, I’m not so sure.”

—Mick Houck, writer, and Audubon Society of Portland’s Urban Naturalist and Executive Director at Urban Greenspaces Institute, Oregon.

“LOON asks, what if you accidentally shape-changed into your spirit animal and it was not a noble predator but a low-on-the-food-chain prey? Add a human whodunit to the mix and you get an off-beat, juicy stew. LOON is that rarest of literary birds: a funny book with a vital message.”

—M. K. Wren, author of the “Conan Flagg” mystery series and novel, A Gift Upon the Shore.

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To Build a Boat, Listen to Trees

a novelette by Eric Witchey

Award-winning writer Eric M. Witchey penned this novelette in which compassion, heart, and attention to the whispers of the natural world create love, thwart enemies, and save a kingdom.

Port Corwald, A peaceful maritime city state in the mists of the distant past, is threatened by warring nations on all sides. An old carpenter, a young mute, and a princess band together to save their home.

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The Christmas Thingy

a children’s book by F. Paul Wilson, illustrated by Alan M. Clark

Best selling author F. Paul Wilson and award-winning illustrator Alan M. Clark offer up this fun children’s Christmas story about little Jessica, who wishes for a monster of her own for Christmas, and then gets more (and less) than she could have hoped for.

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The Tao of Flynn

an novelette by Eric Witchey

Sometimes, a liar can be the most honest man in the room.

Magic surrounds us all the time, but Richard wouldn’t have believed it until he met Flynn, a self-avowed lying salesman who makes his way in the world by giving people what they want. 

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Beyond the Serpent’s Heart

a novel by Eric Witchey

Nothing ruins a first date like a kidnapping and learning you’re the Mayan god destined to destroy the world.

Pakál, raised in the U.S. by his refugee mother, ignores the Mexican kids who taunt him for being Indio and the Anglo kids who shun him. He stoically pursues his version of the American dream – a good college, a law degree, and enough money to support his mother and marry the gringo girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, he is the incarnation of the Mayan god Nohochacum, and it is his job to battle the serpent of avarice in a one-on-one smack down that will cause the end of the world on Dec. 21st, 2012. Not all gods think it’s a good idea to end the world (and give up the worshipers that will end with it). Pakál must deal with his mother’s past, his family demons (divine and human), and a pantheon of gods unlike anything the U.S. school system ever suggested possible. In the end, he must accept his mythic nature, duty, and family in order to overcome the serpent of avarice and set the world on a path that will avert disaster at the end of the Mayan calendar.

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