10 Days of Halloween with Tabitha Caplinger

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Let’s all give a warm welcome to someone who isn’t a stranger on this blog and who is a dear friend, a talented author, my online pastor, and did I mention a talented author? Tabitha writes one of my all time favorite series, The Chronicle of the Three, and I’m sad it’s over. But, such is life. All good things must come to an end! 😉 The TCO3 series is pretty much the cousin to my Entertaining Angels series (just kidding, sort of), and I think you guys would so love it!

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From Tabitha:

Hi!! In honor of all things creepy and spooky I thought I’d share with you lovelies one of my favorite scenes from the final installment of The Chronicle of the Three Trilogy, Eden Sword.

In this little snippet, Zoe, Daniel and Maggie are doing one of their regular night patrols for demons who are ravaging their small town of Torch Creek. In the dead of a winter night the local playground takes on a darker visage.

 

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Things seemed strange at night. During the daylight hours, even in winter, there was always some activity here. Joggers would be pounding the pavement of the small track that circled the perimeter. People walked their dogs. Children played on the colorful playground. Under this blanket of darkness, it was much more eerie. The wind rustled through dead branches, replacing the summer song of tree frogs and mockingbirds, and the rays of the moon created shadows of each limb as cracked lines along the ground. In the daytime, this place was nothing but life, but in the dark of December, it seemed like only death.

Zoe clenched her fists and squared her shoulders.  The smoldering battleground of her nightmares flashed like a slideshow through her mind. The shadowy grass of the park a reminder of that horrid landscape she couldn’t shake free of. She bit the inside of her cheek trying to regain her grip on reality.

“Is it windy enough for that to be happening?” Maggie asked, pointing toward a red and blue see-saw that was beginning to teeter back and forth, its hinges squeaking with the movement.

“No, it isn’t,” Daniel answered. Zoe saw that he already had a knife in his hand.

The low whistle of a slowly turning merry-go-round and the creaking of movement of the swing set created a creepy chorus which filled the silent night. The melody of customary hissing joined the arrangement, swirling in on an icy wind that drew goosebumps up Zoe’s arms and down her spine. She squatted to retrieve her dagger from its keep, rising back up with it gripped tightly, ready as the demons glared from their perches all over the small playground.

Zoe felt an arm brush hers as Maggie leaned close to her to ask, “When would be a good time to shoot one?”

“I’d prefer that you go right to rock formation.” Zoe’s eyes never left the ensemble that was now drooling ash from its many barred fangs. “Daniel, you take the swings on the left, I’ll take everything to the right. Maggie stay back and shoot anything that looks at you.” Zoe ordered then took the first step toward the see-saw but paused to give one last glance over her shoulder. “Oh, and Mags, don’t miss.”

To her relief, Maggie lifted her bow with steady hands. “Yeah. Got it chief.”

Zoe gave a nod to Daniel and the two charged at the shadows before them. Sulfur stung Zoe’s cold nose. The rustling of chains at the swing set and shrill shrieks signaled each demon’s demise. But Zoe didn’t dare turn to verify Daniel’s triumphs. She was focused on her own task. There were at least five shadows that she could see, and she was sure more had to be waiting in the darkness of nearby branches.  “Maggie keep your eyes open!” she yelled.

“I’d be afraid to close them!” came Maggie’s comforting response.

Zoe lunged at the first two shadows that had perched themselves on the teeter-totter. She stabbed her dagger into the first while drawing one of Lucas’s throwing knives and flung it at the other. As they dissolved, she turned toward the three that had dug their claws into the old wooden merry-go-round. She ran and leapt onto the turning wheel, tossing another knife into one’s forehead, and then thrust her lion blade into a second. The third reached out, planting its nails in her shoulder. She could feel the burn through her jacket but bit back the pain with a low growl. She spun around and drove her dagger into its hollow chest.

“Zoe!” She heard Maggie cry out as the shadow in front of her turned to ash and another jumped onto her back.

Zoe was pushed forward, falling onto the wood underneath her. She kicked and squirmed until she was able to roll. She shoved the demon off of her and onto the ground just as an arrow struck its abdomen. Relief was short lived as another shadow dropped from a high branch and landed on top of Zoe, pinning her shoulders down. The force of it knocked the dagger out of her hand. She strained her fingers but couldn’t quite reach it so she grabbed the demon’s wrists and pulled instead. She tore loose from its grip and then bucked up so that she could roll it off of her and switched positions so that she was now straddling the creature. She gripped its neck with her bare hands and it writhed underneath her, scratching at her arms and legs trying to break free.

“Zoe!” she heard Daniel yell.

“Zoe stop!” Maggie’s panicked scream got louder as she got closer.

Zoe felt pain seer through the skin of her hands where they choked the demon under her. Blood was trickling down her arms and soaked into her sleeves. She could feel the cotton material clinging to her and only then realized that there was no power flowing along with the blood in her veins. There was no light nor warmth emanating from her to kill the unholy vermin that still struggled against her. Zoe’s face pinched together and she quickly searched for her dagger with pained eyes. She reached one hand to grab it, wincing when her tender skin gripped its handle. Her muscles quivered as she plunged the blade into the shadow with a frustrated roar. She stabbed it again and again and again, oblivious to the fact that her knife was only hitting ash and wood until Daniel stopped her hand.

 

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The Chronicle of the Three Trilogy follows Zoe Andrews as she learns demons are real, the people she loves are at risk, and she is chosen to defeat a great evil. But fighting with swords might be a little easier than fighting the demons that begin to plague her mind and heart. Can she find the strength to withstand the darkness trying to destroy her before it destroys her world?

Buy the complete series today!

FullSizeRenderTabitha Caplinger is a wife, mom, youth pastor and author. She loves coffee, chocolate and takes her tv addiction very seriously. Besides writing about girls who slay demons she seeks to help all young women who struggle with who they are and what they are worth. She wants them to discover their identity and learn to live for their purpose on purpose (#LiveChosen). Above everything she uses her writing to show them that, like her characters, they are powerful, chosen, loved and never alone.

 

 

Follow Tabitha:

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5 Day Kick Start to Living Chosen

 

If you’re interested in more #LiveChosen content from Tabitha be sure to go to her website, tabithacaplinger.com, and subscribe to her monthly newsletter. As a bonus you will get a FREE sample of The Chronicle of the Three: Bloodline as well as be one of the first to receive her “5-day Kick Start to Living Chosen.”

 

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10 Days of Halloween with Lee Roberts (again)

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Let’s welcome back Lee Roberts! If you remember, he was just here on Friday, but he’s sharing another book with us, Trouble Rising, and it has characters from his Elvis Blue book in it! (I hope you emailed him to get your free copy of Elvis Blue!) Check out this excerpt of Trouble Rising!

trouble rising

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Chapter 36

Elvis and Monk walked slowly along the thick stone walls of the basement, both of them engrossed in studying their instruments. Elvis paused at one point, and then moved on again with a sigh of frustration. It was difficult to tell in the semi-darkness, but Monk’s face wore the same dismal expression. He turned and looked at his partner on the other side of the room.

“What is going on here, Elvis? We were getting readings all over the place last week, and they seemed to be growing, like something really big was going to happen. But now it looks like everything is getting quiet again. It’s like all the energy is draining out of here, kind of fading away or something.”

“I know what you mean. I’m seeing the same thing.”

“So what’s going on? You think all of the new construction is shredding the electromagnetic fields or reducing them somehow? It’s like the energy that was here before is evaporating.”

“Who knows, man? That could be it. Or maybe it could be something simpler.”

“Like what?”

“Like maybe whatever paranormal thing was going on is over now or going away. Maybe the spirits are going dormant or moving on to somewhere else.”

“But we didn’t do anything. All we did was record stuff. We haven’t even made contact with any entities or done anything to eliminate them.”

Elvis shrugged.

“Maybe whatever was provoking them is gone now for some other reason. There are still a few more hot spots down here, especially back in that far corner of the basement. We should probably go check that area again.”

Suddenly, they froze in their tracks as several loud pops erupted from the casino above them. Elvis and Monk looked at each other. As they turned toward the stairs and listened, now they could hear the roaring wave of noises spreading upstairs. They heard people yelling and screaming, running in various directions away from something in widespread panic.

“There’s some heavy stuff going on up there, man,” Monk whispered. “What do you think it is?”

“Sounded like gun shots to me.”

“Gun shots? Do you think somebody is trying to rob the casino?”

Elvis shrugged. “Who knows? Do you want to go up there and find out?”

“Not me,” said Monk. “That’s where the hired help comes in. I’m calling Maria.”

He pulled out his walkie-talkie and keyed the mike.

“Maria? This is Monk and Elvis. You guys still in the van?”

A brief pause, and then two seconds later a garbled reply came back.

“We’re all still here, Monk. You want us to come down and relieve you guys on the investigation? Send in another team?”

Monk shook his head, but of course Maria could not see that over the radio. He keyed the button to respond.

“Just tell us what is going on up there. We’re hearing all kinds of loud noises from the casino. Elvis says he thought there were gun shots.”

“Gun shots? Dios mio! Let me look outside. We can’t see much sitting here in the van, you know. I’ll be right back.”

Elvis and Monk stared at each other. A minute later, Maria was back.

“Hey! It looks like there was some kind of big fight right outside the casino doors. Mr. Crockett is standing out there with some other people. And there are a whole bunch of security guys running around with pistols in their hands. We didn’t see what happened, but it looks pretty serious from here.”

“Okay. Tell Isaac and Derek to go in the casino and check it out. Me and Elvis are coming up there.”

“Roger that.”

Elvis and Monk grabbed their gear and started for the wide staircase leading up to the casino level. The boys were almost halfway up the steps when they saw Simon Cruz coming down in a rush dragging Candi by her hair. They flattened themselves against the wall to get out of the way. Cruz brushed past them with hardly a glance and continued on to the basement.

“That was something you don’t see every day,” said Elvis.

Monk keyed the walkie-talkie again.

“Maria? We have an update on the situation.”

“Too late, Isaac and Derek are already on their way inside.”

“Then you need to handle this yourself. Find Crockett or someone who looks like they are in charge and tell them we just saw Simon Cruz going down the basement stairs. And it looked like he was holding Candi Rios hostage.”

“Oh crap! I mean, roger that.”

Maria dropped her headphones and quickly jumped out of the van. Her body wasn’t really built for speed, but she ran as fast as she could toward the knot of people gathered near the front door. One of the guards turned and pointed his gun at her.

“Wait! Wait! I’m one of the good guys!” she yelled.

Rico stepped forward and intercepted her.

“You need to stay back out of the way, so you don’t get hurt. There are some bad people running around here.”

“But I need to tell Mr. Crockett something!”

“You can tell me, sweetheart. I’ll make sure that he gets the message.”

Maria looked at Rico, her eyes wide with fear.

“Tell him that Simon Cruz is in the basement, and he’s got Candi with him.”

Rico’s heart skipped a beat.

“Okay, then you wait here next to these guys with the guns. You’ll be safe here. I’ll take care of that problem myself.”

He spun around and ran for the front door. Candi was in trouble, and he was determined to rescue her, with or without a gun. Rico didn’t care if Cruz shot him a couple of times as long as he could get Candi away from him first. Then he would kill Simon with his bare hands.

But Simon had other plans.

Cruz had passed Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera coming through the bar. They would be hard on his heels. But he thought he could lose them down in the huge maze of partially finished construction. Maybe he could hide for a while or find some way to slip out a side door unseen. There was always a chance.

He pulled Candi along by her long hair as they twisted and weaved through the giant maze of material and debris. He could feel his heartbeat pounding in his chest. He needed to stop for a minute and think.

They moved deeper into the blackness of the catacombs, way back into the far corner of the subterranean level. Candi was getting really tired of Simon pulling her hair. She was already mad as a hornet and itching for a fight. She finally decided that she had had enough of this bullshit.

With a grunt of effort, Candi turned and yanked her long hair free. Simon looked at his empty hand in surprise, as if it had somehow betrayed him. He hesitated for a second and then lunged toward her again. She lashed out with both hands, punching and cursing in his face.

But Cruz ignored her. He managed to get his hands around Candi’s neck and began to tighten his grip, slowly cutting off her air and strangling her. She started to gasp for every breath, fighting for each molecule of precious oxygen. Simon was bigger and stronger, and she could not overcome that disadvantage.

The light began to fade from Candi’s eyes as life ebbed out of her body. Her few attempts to stop him now were too feeble to make any difference. It looked like this was the end.

Slowly, she reached up and touched the little necklace of yellow and aquamarine stones around her neck. Candi whispered a silent prayer and prepared herself to accept what was soon to come.

Suddenly, Simon screamed and jumped back like he had just been electrocuted. He stared at his open palms in disbelief. Candi collapsed on the floor in a heap, panting weakly, barely conscious.

A dark, swirling mist began to form in the air, taking shape out of the darkness. The cloud of mist surrounded Cruz and then seemed to come together in a big, massive shape. A huge black bear materialized right in front of Simon and reared up on its hind legs, spreading two giant paws that gleamed with long, razor-sharp claws.

Simon screamed again and snatched up the gun he had dropped. He began firing wildly at the image, terrified by what he saw. He continued to yell obscenities and move farther back into the corner until all the bullets were gone. Cruz staggered into the wall and then slid down to the ground, the gun now clicking on empty chambers.

Rico heard the shots and ran down the dark hallway hoping desperately for some miracle. He rounded the last corner and saw Candi lying on the floor. Instantly, he was at her side, checking her pulse. It was still there, but very faint.

He scooped Candi up in his arms and ran back toward the stairway, leaving Cruz sitting in the corner staring vacantly into space.

“Hang on,” he whispered. “Please hang on, babe. I’m going to get you out of here. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Rico hurried up the stairs carrying Candi’s limp body cradled in his arms. There were two men at the top of the stairs, and they stepped out of the way to let him pass by. Rico moved on. Rafael Perez and Benito Rivera glanced at each other and then descended slowly into the basement to find Simon Cruz.

About Trouble Rising:

New passions awaken old evils, and the construction of a modern hotel and casino on old tribal land has stirred up the restless spirit of a massacred Indian maiden. Candi Rios is a magnet for trouble and sensitivity to the supernatural compels her to seek out the answers to the perplexing mysteries that plague the new venture. As a smart young accountant, Candi struggles to sort out the complexities of the business while caught up in the emotional turmoil of the unseen forces at work. With Rico and her quirky friends, she investigates the strange deaths and disappearances in the area, uncovering evidence of money laundering, embezzlement, and murder. Others cross her path and make things difficult, including a psychotic personnel manager, Colombian drug dealers, Elvis Blue and the ghost hunters, and even Godzilla. Candi must figure it all out in order to put an end to the madness and avoid becoming the next victim.

Purchase your copy of Trouble Rising.