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Spotlight on Andi Lawrencovna

October 17, 2020 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , , , ,

Just in time for Halloween we have an author spotlight on Andi Lawrencovna and her soon to release anthology, WHO’s THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology. (October 20, 2020 and it is available for preorder, now.)

Andi Lawrencovna lives in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she was born and raised. She writes Fantasy with a twist, un-Happily-Ever-After-ing as many fairy tales as she can. And she’s not averse to looking at the odd nursery rhyme or ten when the mood strikes. Her Never Lands series is currently enamored with an ash covered assassin and a prince who’s not in the highest of towers. From ogres spouting poetry, to princesses toting swords, Andi’s stories aren’t quite like you remember.

For more, visit: www.AndiLawrencovna.com

Andi’s story in WHO’s THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology is called “The Snake’s Leaves” and we’re please to have an excerpt.


THE SNAKE’S LEAVES

ANDI LAWRENCOVNA

The clipper bobbed with the tide against the dock, rocking in the first waves as the storm blew in. Dark clouds churned the sky. Raindrops threatened to fall, but remained heaven bound for a moment more. 

“It’s a bad omen.”

“There are no such things as omens.”

Reigner turned his head and stared at his prince. 

Despite the response, Euridone’s voice held concern, and his face was stern with concentration and consideration. 

Though the ship might not set sail during the midst of the storm, it would set sail eventually.

The waters whispered of hate and roiling death. 

Rey did not think the voices beneath the waves referred solely to the tempest.

He might not have believed in omens before, but he wasn’t fool enough to ignore them when they stared him in the face. He opened his mouth to argue with his master—

“We should find our berth and get settled in. She’ll be along soon enough, and I’d rather be stowed away than have to deal with her.”

A call to action, and yet Rey remained still at Euri’s side, the backs of their hands touching where they stood together, neither of them wanting to move forward to whatever fate awaited them. 

“I hate the sea.”

“It hates us too.” He replied and shifted the pack on his shoulder. A raise of his hand, the quick flick of his fingers forward, and the servants that lined up at their backs with the prince’s trunks moved towards the ship, and Euri followed their lead, Rey bringing up the rear. 

The wind wailed as they walked the gangplank to the clipper’s deck.

Ware. Ware. You will die here.

Rey turned his face to the storm as the first drops of rain fell. “I’ve died before. I’m not afraid of my end.”

For only a moment, the wind stilled, listening to his words.

It screamed at his impudence when he smiled into its gale. 

Three Months Ago

Prince Euridone Adavignlor, Hero of the Battle of Blackmore, Lord of the Southern Settlements, husband to the Princess Abrialla, wedded Heir to the Kingdom of Spinick, stood in the hallway outside the birthing suite and paced the cold stone floor. 

His wife’s labor had slowed to a crawl somewhere in the tenth hour of the trial. 

The healer said it was normal for a first birth to take time, and perhaps it was, but that was over a day ago when the pains first started, and now, at nearly forty hours, even Euri knew that something was wrong.

He was born a farmer’s son with nothing to his name but the clothes on his back and the dirt caked to his skin. Hock and hoof, field and plow, working the land and toiling beneath the sun, that was where he came from. He was a good farmer. A good and dutiful son.

And when the war came, and the king called all eligible men to battle, he traded pitchfork for pike and learned to wield a sword in place of the culling scythe. 

He was a good soldier. 

When his captain died, and he was chosen to replace the man, Euri discovered he was good at leading too.

He won the war with his tactics for King Ashwarth.

He should have died at Blackmore, but he’d somehow returned to the land of the living where the king took an interest in the man named champion. 

A good soldier. A good leader. A good prince.

Words Euri never expected, nor wanted, to hear, especially when they were followed by a wedding decree, and the burden of what marrying the princess would entail. 

For all his life, all he’d ever wanted was to escape his farm.

Now all he longed for was a chance to return to the quiet fields and the mooing of cattle and the mucking out of horse stalls. 

He wanted to take his child away from the castle walls and show the babe the beauty of a simple life that Euri always took for granted with the man who he’d come to depend on more than his next breath.

A man who was not Euri’s spouse but her bastard brother. 

Rey was more honorable than all the nobles put together in the palace halls. 

And he was the only one Euri wanted, and that his vows demanded he never claim. 

Not that Abrialla honored her marriage to Euridone. 

For all the prince knew, the babe fighting to be born was not even his, some other of his wife’s lovers having whelped the child on the princess. 

He should be angry at the knowledge, at the implication.

All he could feel was relief.

A small, childish, plaintive part of him prayed that if the babe proved to be another’s, he would be allowed to break his oath and be free of the witch. 

The more rational part of his mind knew the unlikeliness of the same. 

It wasn’t Abrialla who wanted Euri as a prince. 

No matter that the king gave his daughter every other wish she desired, Euri was Ashwarth’s demand for the kingdom, and there was no escaping a king. 

Abrialla would destroy the kingdom Euri fought a war to save. 

Ashwarth chose a farm-boy to lead his country instead of his own spawn to keep the land safe. 

And now, here Euri stood, outside his wife’s room, waiting for the birth of the child that would tie him eternally to the nation he called his own. 

Knots tangled in his stomach. 

Because the child was late in coming, and country or not, rule or not, the infant was innocent of his mother’s indiscretions or his father’s peasant desires. The babe deserved a chance at life, but Euri knew how frail new life could be.

The door to the princess’ suite opened. 

A tired nursemaid stepped out of the brightly lit room into the dim hall where the prince waited. 

“It is a boy, your highness.”

Euri nodded. 

He’d known. 

All along he’d known that she would bear a son that Euri would call his own. 

He held himself still, one hand braced at the windowpane behind him, not sure if it was to hold him back from forging the room and looking at the child fresh from the womb, or if it was to keep him standing, that the birth was done, and the child was here. He was well and truly bound up in the fight for rule now with an heir of his own, blood or not. 

Euri’s valet stepped forward to draw the maid’s attention when he could not. 

“How is the prince’s lady wife?”

Rey stood with his hands clasped behind his back, anxiety showing in every line of his body. There was no love lost between princess and manservant. Where Euri might not abandon a bastard child, the king had no such proclivities when Rey was born and cast aside. 

It was a mercy, in Euri’s mind.

If Rey was raised a prince, or a lord, or anyone of importance, they would never have met upon the battlefield. That Reigner was just a man, same as Euri, made all the difference. 

Rey kept his eyes on the maid, and Euri tore his from the valet to watch a tear slide down the woman’s face.

“It was a hard birth. The healer,” her hand trembled when she raised it to her cheek. “He has asked the prince be admitted to speak his farewells.”


Read the rest of THE SNAKE’S LEAVES in WHO’S THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology


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Featuring Dianna Sinovic, August 2020 Author of the Month

August 28, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

Author of the Month: Dianna Sinovic

picture of dianna sinovic

Dianna is a contributing author in the recent Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Untethered, Sweet, Funny & Strange Tales of the Paranormal. A man buys a painting of a jungle scene that is so realistic it seems to change in “Point of View.” She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine, including “In the Delivery.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

Dianna also has a regular column, Quill and Moss, here on A Slice of Orange.


Other books by Dianna Sinovic


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Dianna Sinovic, Featured Author August 2020

August 21, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

Author of the Month: Dianna Sinovic

picture of dianna sinovic

Dianna is a contributing author in the recent Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Untethered, Sweet, Funny & Strange Tales of the Paranormal. A man buys a painting of a jungle scene that is so realistic it seems to change in “Point of View.” She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine, including “In the Delivery.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

Dianna also has a regular column, Quill and Moss, here on A Slice of Orange.


Other books by Dianna Sinovic


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Featuring Dianna Sinovic, August Author of the Month

August 14, 2020 by in category Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , ,

Author of the Month: Dianna Sinovic

picture of dianna sinovic

Dianna is a contributing author in the recent Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Untethered, Sweet, Funny & Strange Tales of the Paranormal. A man buys a painting of a jungle scene that is so realistic it seems to change in “Point of View.” She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine, including “In the Delivery.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

Dianna also has a regular column, Quill and Moss, here on A Slice of Orange.


Other books by Dianna Sinovic


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Spirit Trail by Christopher D. Ochs

August 13, 2020 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , ,
Christopher D. Ochs | A Slice of Orange

August’s from A Cabin in the Woods features a short short by Christopher D. Ochs. Christopher’s foray into writing began with his epic fantasy Pindlebryth of Lenland. Several of his short stories have been published in the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and Bethlehem Writers Group anthologies and websites. His latest work, If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep , is a collection of bedtime reading to inflict on naughty children.

His current projects include: a YA urban-fantasy/horror novel My Friend Jackson; a short story in Firebringer Press’ last anthology in their Middle of Eternity series; and the next installment of the Pindlebryth saga.

Christopher says, “The following is semi-autobiographical. I leave it to the reader to determine how much of this tale is true.”


SPIRIT TRAIL


I don’t particularly believe in ghosts, though there have been several curious incidents in this house over my lifetime.


Nothing frightening, mind you, nor anything remotely harmful. If anything, the unseen forces-that-be have been nothing but helpful.

The first instance I clearly recall occurred during my junior-high school years. I was raised the classic latchkey kid. Both parents held down two jobs, so yours truly was responsible for closing up the house before heading to classes.


That spring day, I woke up looking out the open window above my headboard at a sky filled with roiling clouds still deciding whether or not they wanted to rain. By the time I finished dressing for school, Mom and Dad had already slogged off to their crack-of-dawn work shifts.
Dashing out of the house, I was halfway through my shortcut across our neighbor’s corn fields, when I heard the rumble of thunder. On its heels came the realization I couldn’t remember if I had closed my bedroom window.


With a grunt of exasperation, I made a U-turn back for home. Sure enough, my second-floor window was wide open. Ready, willing and able to let the impending squall soak my pillow.


I had sprinted halfway up the stairs when I heard a bang, loud as a gunshot, reverberate from my bedroom. Once I summoned the courage to enter my room, my jaw dropped in bewilderment. The old warped double-hung window–which would normally require my full weight to close–was firmly shut, fierce raindrops pelting its glass panes.


Then there was the time years later, when I returned home long after sunset, tired from work and a laundry list of errands. Both my arms were crammed with fully-loaded grocery bags as I fumbled with the lock and shouldered the door open. I wasn’t two steps into the dark and deserted house when all the kitchen lights snapped on.


With the odd sensation of being watched pressing in on me, I proffered a nervous “Thank you very much?”

The lights flickered in response. I could almost hear the house chuckle.


These humorous but unsettling episodes continued, though with less frequency as the years rolled by. Eventually they stopped entirely–or perhaps, they merely escaped my notice–as responsibilities and drudgeries crowded most everything else out of my life. Adding events like the passing of my parents, the transformation of neighbors’ cornfields to townhouses, and other milestones kept my attention firmly planted in the world of the mundane.


That is, until I discovered an old family heirloom–a county map, penned soon after my ancestors and hundreds of other immigrants had formally established my hometown and surrounding boroughs. The yellowed parchment document, complete with an antiquated county seal, depicted Iroquois trails that were already centuries old by the time the colonial-era deeds had been drafted.


The paths snaked along the ridges of the local offshoots of the Appalachian mountain chain, including a few thoroughfares that wended their way through the new and burgeoning county. The map’s legend declared that the indigenous peoples–the Lenni Lenape, Delaware and other members of the Iroquois nation–had “rights in perpetuity to sole and unhindered access to the mineral fields atop and in vicinity of Jasper Mountain, for the purpose of fashioning arrowheads and other baubles likewise; to deliver said freight without impediment, toll or tax along the footpaths documented herein.”


I was overcome by an unsettling sensation that the house was looking over my shoulder, when I learned the map indicated the footpath connecting Jasper Mountain to the Appalachian Trail formed my estate’s western property line.


Barely a week had passed since finding the map, before I found unmistakable signs my unseen helpers had resumed their work. On the other hand, maybe I was simply paying closer attention.


Like the instance when a limb from the locust tree my father had planted close to the house had fallen. Carpenter ants had eaten away at its core, and the massive limb finally snapped under its own weight, coming to rest harmlessly on open lawn nowhere near the tree’s trunk. By all rights, left to gravity and a windless night, that moss-laden battering ram should have crashed straight through my bedroom ceiling.


The latest instance of helpfulness was thankfully far less life-threatening. It was a windy fall day when my dog bolted out of the house to pester the mailman. I gave chase, still in my bum-around-the-house sweatpants. A stray gust banged the door shut behind me.


My heart leapt into my throat once I realized I had left my keys on the kitchen table, and the door was set to lock behind me. With my recalcitrant puppy in tow, I returned to the house, upset with the predicament I expected to find. I could only shake my head and smile at my invisible helpers, come to my rescue once again.


The deadbolt, which could only have been operated with the key in the lock, had somehow extended itself, preventing the door from closing completely.
I suppose some would attribute these events to poltergeists or other denizens of the afterlife. Other might dismiss them as quaint tall tales. As for myself, I prefer to believe the gentle spirits of Nature, who guided the lives and culture of the countless indigenous peoples before me, still favored this locale.


But how to repay their longstanding kindness?


When I got around to replacing the rotting tree that nearly did me in, I found entangled in its roots a cache of pristine jasper arrowheads. Lost or forgotten by some long-dead traveler, their points were still sharp enough to pierce a deer’s heart. Despite my knowing they would command an impressive sum from any number of collectors, something bid me do otherwise.


Finding a secluded grove overlooking Jasper Mountain’s babbling brook, I reburied my discovery.


Back in my kitchen, I mused over my evening tea. Had I had performed a noble deed, or something unquestionably foolish? With a maudlin sigh, I wondered if I might never again be visited by my unseen helpers.


The lights flickered in response.


Books and Stories by Christopher D. Ochs

IF I CAN’T SLEEP, YOU CAN’T SLEEP

ONCE UPON A TIME

Buy now!
ONCE UPON A TIME
PINDLEBRYTH OF LENLAND: THE FIVE ARTIFACTS

REWRITING THE PAST

Buy now!
REWRITING THE PAST

THE WRITE CONNECTION

Buy now!
THE WRITE CONNECTION
UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL

WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW

Buy now!
WRITE HERE, WRITE NOW

MY FRIEND JACKSON

Buy now!
MY FRIEND JACKSON

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