Eager to be on her own away from home, twenty-year-old Aggie Anders accepts a relative’s invitation to live in Coon Hollow Coven. Although she’s a witch from a different coven, what locals say about the Hollow confuses her. How can witchcraft there live and breathe through souls of the dead?
Aggie’s new residence in this strange southern Indiana world is a deserted homestead cabin. The property’s carriage house serves as the coven’s haunted Halloween fundraiser. It’s a great opportunity for her to make new friends, especially with the coven’s sexy new High Priest Logan.
But living in the homestead also brings Aggie enemies. Outsiders aren’t welcome. A cantankerous, old neighbor tries to frighten her off by warning her that the homestead is cursed. Local witches who practice black magic attempt to use their evil to drive Aggie away and rid their coven of her unusual powers as a sun witch.
Determined to stay and fit in, Aggie discovers not only that the cabin is cursed, but she alone is destined to break the curse before moonrise on Samhain. If she fails, neither the living nor the dead will be safe.
A note to readers: the books in the Coon Hollow Coven Tales series are written to be read in any order. The series is about one community, and its residents may pass in and out of various books, but each book has its own unique and special story to be told.
About the Coon Hollow Coven Tales Series
The series is about a coven of witches in a fictitious southern Indiana community, south of Bloomington, the neck of the woods where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The books are rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel. There are interesting interactions between coven members and locals from the nearby small town of Bentbone. If magic wasn’t enough of a difference between the two groups, the coven folk adhere to the 1930s lifestyle that existed when the coven formed.
Book One: Excerpt from Chapter One: The Homestead
A shove of my shoulder pried the rusty hinges on the heavy log cabin door loose. I flung my blond braid to my back and peered inside. Beings and critters, alive and furry as well as undead and translucent, flew, crawled, or slithered across dark recesses of the hallway, sitting room, and stairwell.
“You weren’t kidding. This place is haunted.” I shuddered and looked over my shoulder at Cerise. She looked perky as always with her dark bobbed hair and lively brown eyes beneath horn-rimmed eyeglasses. “Were those things relations or varmints?” I took a cautious step over the threshold to escape the blustery weather and unbuttoned my corduroy jacket.
“Oh, both, Aggie. Ghosts of witch kin and their talking animal familiars,” she said and moved past me to lift sheets off the sitting room furniture.
I raised a brow, curious about what talking familiars were but was too afraid to ask. She didn’t seem to think they were bad, and I needed a place to stay.
Cerise dropped the sheets in a pile and wiped her dusty hands on her skirt. “Those sorts of ghosts are in all the homes here in Coon Hollow Coven. Maybe some animal spirits, too, from the surrounding woods. This property has at least fifty acres of forest. The ghosts are harmless, part of the family. At least no neighbors have complained, that I’ve heard.”
Eyeing corners of the parlor and the length of the hall, I wondered if I could ever get used to living with ghosts of people who’d lived here before. In New Wish, Indiana, where I’d spent my entire twenty years, we only had an occasional ghost. Usually lost souls who, for some reason, hadn’t found their peace before death took them. Most times, those folks had been tormented by darkness and experimented with black magic while they’d lived. Or so Mom told me, but I always thought that was just her way of keeping me in line.
I pushed those thoughts out of my head. I wanted a place of my own more than anything else, and not in the tiny town of New Wish where everyone knew me…or thought they did. They all said I was the spitting image of my Aunt Faye, with the same light blond straight hair, deep blue eyes, dark brows, and quiet personality. Everyone thought I’d grow up to be like her with a houseful of kids, seven or more. Fact was, they didn’t know me. I wasn’t sure I even knew myself. There was so much I wanted to learn and do that wouldn’t happen if I stayed at my parents’ home.
Cerise struggled to open the stuck window. “Aggie, can you help me here? Some fresh air might tempt a few spirits outside. This place has been vacant since my mother passed in 2009. We might find just about anything in here after five years.”
Are you brave enough to visit Coon Hollow Coven’s haunted carriage house?
Guest Blog by Marsha A. Moore
Coon Hollow is the setting for Witch’s Cursed Cabin, the second of my series, Coon Hollow Coven Tales, and there are a lot of strange happenings going on down in the Hollow as Samhain approaches.
The Hollow is a fictitious small valley in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington. Somewhere in Brown County near Nashville and Bean Blossom, if you’re from around those parts. It’s Hoosier hill-country at its finest.
The coven was founded on strict rules of adherence to lifestyle and customs that existed at the time of the coven’s conception, in the mid-1930s. The rationale: to keep the transmission of witchcraft from one generation to the next as pure as possible. Members dress in styles of that period and drive long sleek Packards, Studebakers, and Nashes.
Several times during the year, the coven puts on magical events open to the public as charity fundraisers for their schools and eldercare. Witch’s Cursed Cabin opens with the coven preparing for their annual Halloween haunted carriage house.
Here’s an excerpt of the night when the attraction is open only to coven members. Aggie Anders has just moved to the coven and is joining Cerise’s family at the event.
Dusk was changing to night, the gloaming time as I called it, with the sky ribboned in bands of blue-grays and inky purples. As we ascended the small hill that separated the two cabins, I pulled my hood over my head.
On the other side, a group of black forms mingled outside, perhaps fifty, but the dim light made counting difficult. I glanced down at my jeans, happy the blue color wasn’t too noticeable. A chilling scream that seemed to come from the cabin’s roof made me gawk, wide-eyed.
A hush spread over the crowd, and hoods turned upward toward the tall gable above the front door. Another scream pierced the air, this one more like the chilling, long wail of a banshee, which I knew signaled approaching death. And another shriek, as two dark shapes emerged from behind the chimney. One began the dreadful cry once again, while the other leered at those on the ground.
Little Bud tugged on his dad’s arm and whimpered.
“What is this I see?” A deep male voice growled down at us. “Intruders! You’ve broken the peaceful rest of the carriage house spirits.” He gave a guttural laugh, then shinnied down a trellis at one end of the small porch. From there, he rubbed his hands together while shuffling side to side as he scanned the crowd. His ragged cape hung in shreds around his hunched shape, and his death-white face reflected what little light the twilight offered. “Since you’ve awakened the spirits, why don’t you come in and pay them a friendly visit? I’m sure they’ll be glad to welcome you.” With a menacing laugh, he turned and opened the door. “We have guests of the best kind—willing.”
A chorus of howls and yelps responded from inside, and the banshee on the roof gave a higher pitched cry.
A small girl, no more than four years old, begged for her father to carry her.
The ragged spirit pointed to a sign posted high on the porch support post. “Heed this sign well before you go inside.” It warned pregnant women and people with heart conditions to not enter. With the wave of his arm, he spun on his heel, and the crowd moved toward the entrance.
“Looks like this year’s show will be good. Every year they try to top the last,” Cerise said and pulled me behind her, while Toby herded their boys.
Inside, ghouls lurched near, guiding us up the front staircase. Real enchanted spiders dropped onto our faces, bringing plenty of squeals and some momentary lost footing on steps. While clinging to the railings to keep my balance, oozy slime gushed between my fingers. Faced with the safe scares, screams that escaped my lips immediately turned to giggles.
Live rats ran the length of the upper hall, scampering across our feet. I was glad for my stiff-toed boots, but many of the ladies wearing dress pumps jumped a couple feet. One woman landed against me, and we both fell against the wall where arms extending from paintings held us captive until we pleaded loud enough for release.
The wall hazards kept people close to the middle, regardless of the rats. At the doorway to the first bedroom, the floorboards gave way. Five or more in the line ahead dropped down a black hole, their screams reverberating after them. Bats flew up the open shoot and corralled us into the bedroom and the outstretched arms of a red-eyed goblin. His touch sent a sudden disorienting delirium through me, and I fumbled behind Cerise through a connecting hall that led into the next bedroom.
What happens to Aggie? You’ll only know if you’re brave enough to enter the coven’s haunted carriage house!
Flash Fiction by Marsha A Moore
Hello! I’m Marsha A. Moore and it’s great to be here and share some Samhain fun! I’d like to share with you one of my very popular mini-stories from my collection of fantasy flash fiction Tea Leaf Tales.
Tea Leaf Tales: The Necessary Practice Halloween Growl
“Oh, come on, Grindor,” I pleaded for the third time.
“Not until Halloween,” he replied with a terse snap, his face stoic, his body frozen.
“Just one pre-Halloween scare.” I climbed beside him and peeked over the fence.
“There’s a teenage boy walking this way toward your gate who’d make a great practice target.”
“Nope,” he said, trying unsuccessfully to knock me off balance with his left wing.
“It’ll feel good to do just one little growl.”
A whiz of loud pops sailed inches above my head, and I jumped behind my griffin guardian who spread his protective wings wide.
The teen burst through the open gate, gun in hand, and Grindor let out a horrific roar, so loud that my teeth rattled.
From behind, I winked at the boy with the bb gun, my five-dollar bill showing in his jeans pocket.
Tea Leaf Tales is a series of original ten-sentence short stories by Marsha A. Moore, relating to photos/scenes that resonate with her.
Visit Marsha’s website www.MarshaAMoore.com to read more archived episodes of the Mercantile of Tea Leaf Tales and watch her blog for new episodes.
About the Author:
Marsha A. Moore loves to write fantasy and paranormal romance. Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales.
The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing, as well as other pursuits of watercolor painting and drawing. She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and is a registered yoga teacher. Her practice helps weave the mystical into her writing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors where she’s always on the lookout for portals to other worlds. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical!
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3 ebook copies of Dawn of the Vie