Saturday, April 27, 2019

My State Monsters

My State Monsters

Florida is my state and I’ll be the first to admit it’s weird. If we’re not ducking natural disasters like hurricanes, zika virus, and sinkholes that can swallow a town, were dealing with more than our share of monsters. Despite theories that they prefer dark, shadowy corners, several of them seem to have settled happily in the Sunshine State. 

Myakka Skunk Ape
The Skunk Ape is our version of Bigfoot. It was first spotted by an unnamed Sarasota woman back in the 1960s who sent the county sheriff’s department photographs of what she thought was an orangutan in her back yard. It appeared on three consecutive nights at her house near the Myakka River, eating apples from her back porch. It smelled awful, hence the name. In 2013, another Floridian took a fuzzy 1:55 minute video on his iPhone of the Skunk Ape in the Myakka River State Park.

Although Florida wildlife officials deny the existence of the skunk ape, it’s obviously a government conspiracy, as sightings have been reported over the years, with the beast showing up in the day and at night, in all sorts of environments. It appears to favor swampy areas, usually where the consumption of beer is involved. No way does it look like a guy in a monkey suit.

Much like Bigfoot, the evidence collected over time consists of photos, hair samples, and a few foot casts. The Skunk Ape has four toes unlike Bigfoot, which has five. A website devoted to the creature, The Florida Skunk Ape, receives several reports of sightings each week, and spikes during football season when Florida Gator fans hold tailgate parties.

Butt Spider
The Butt Spider is a crafty arachnoid who lurks under toilet seats and crawls out to bite your butt. Why? No one knows. Again, it’s suspected beer is involved. Fortunately, there are no pictures.

Muck Monster
The Muck Monster inhabits Lake Worth. It’s reported to be shy and earned the name “the elusive muck monster” diving to the bottom of the lake when strangers get within ten feet, leaving only deep ripples in its wake and empty beer cans bobbing to the surface. No way does it look like a bunch of junk, a gator, or a manatee's flipper  in the water, unless you’re sober.

The Devil’s Chair
Cassadaga is a small unincorporated hamlet in Volusia County. Called the Psychic Capital of the World for the large number of psychic and medium inhabitants, it also has the Devil’s Chair. Located in a cemetery, the Devil’s Chair is a wide brick bench. Legend states it was built by the devil and each night at midnight, he kicks back and puts his feet up. (Probably with a cold beer.) Rumor says if you sit on it, he whispers evil ideas and you’re forever haunted by the experience. If you leave a full can of beer on the chair (unopened) and return the next morning, the can will be empty and still unopened.

Friday, April 5, 2019

New Release Spotlights by Jean M. Grant: Soul of the Storm and Will Rise from Ashes

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Will Rise from Ashes, April 18-June 6

Soul of the Storm, March 20-May 8 

Soul of the Storm
(A Deerbourne Inn novella)

Will love help her summit one more peak?

Charlotte MacGregor lost the thrill of conquering mountains five years ago when her sister disappeared on a hiking adventure without her. Still guilt-ridden, Charlotte heads for a vacation to rustic Vermont with a friend—where she's surrounded by reminders of her devastating loss and plagued with unanswered questions.

Matiu Christiansen is an outdoors buff. He works multiple jobs to save for his dream of owning an outfitter in New Zealand. He's never quite felt at home in the United States and he yearns for his Maori roots, but his attraction to Charlotte puts a kink in his plans to move home later this year.

Thrown together by coincidence, Charlotte and Matiu form a kindred bond through their shared love of the outdoors. Can Charlotte surmount her demons to assist Matiu on a rescue when a late-season snowstorm hits? And can Matiu help Charlotte heal from the pain of the past?


“What’s on your agenda tomorrow?” He offered her a brookie. He sat closer this time, his thigh brushing hers.
She unwrapped the brookie, grateful to have something to focus on, inhaled the enticing mixed scent of chocolate and buttery deliciousness, bit into it, and had to cover a moan.
“Choice, right?”
“Heaven. I need to get you to write these sayings down. Though I’m filing them away in my brain. This is choice?”
“Yup or sweet as.”
“Sweet as what?”
“Just sweet as. We leave the conjunction hanging there.”
They shared a chuckle.
“Confuses the hell out of tourists,” he added.
“Easy as.” His eyebrows lifted as he munched. “So, tomorrow?”
“Not sure. If Ronnie hasn’t already ventured there, maybe north to Waterbury to visit the cheese and ice cream factories.”
“Nah, that’s tourist stuff. How about farther off the beaten track?”
“You have better ideas?”
“Of course.”
“What’s your schedule like since you’re Mr. Busy?”
His smiled tipped to a frown. “Another full day. Since I mucked this morning on my day off, maybe they’ll give me a break tomorrow. Plus, I’m waiting on their vehicle to get repaired.”
She found herself nibbling on her lip, and it wasn’t just from the chewy deliciousness in her mouth.
He poured her tea. His clock near the TV chimed. “I gotta change for the inn shift. Be right back. Drink the tea slowly. Let it work its flavor on your palate. Drink it like you would an expensive wine. Slosh it, inhale, savor.” He rose. “Just don’t spit it out after.”
She almost snorted the swallow of tea. God, he was a flirt, even if he didn’t know it. Maybe he did.
She admired his physique as he strode to his bedroom. The T-shirt stretched nicely across his wide shoulders, and she presumed he had a well-defined torso beneath it. She bet his calves were in kick-ass shape from all the work he did. And his butt…
He only half closed the door. She got a decent peek as he took off his dirty T-shirt. Elaborate, curved black tattoos covered his shoulder blade in similar symbols to the ones on the quilt.
She pulled her gaze away as he disappeared behind the door. Veronica had warned her. Fun only, fun only. Oh my God, what the hell was she doing?

Will Rise from Ashes

Release date: April 17, 2019
Available now for pre-order

Living is more than mere survival

Young widow AJ Sinclair has persevered through much heartache. Has she met her match when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, leaving her separated from her youngest son and her brother? Tens of thousands are dead or missing in a swath of massive destruction. She and her nine-year-old autistic son, Will, embark on a risky road trip from Maine to the epicenter to find her family. She can't lose another loved one.

Along the way, they meet Reid Gregory, who travels his own road to perdition looking for his sister. Drawn together by AJ's fear of driving and Reid's military and local expertise, their journey to Colorado is fraught with the chaotic aftermath of the eruption. AJ's anxiety and faith in humanity are put to the test as she heals her past, accepts her family's present, and embraces uncertainty as Will and Reid show her a world she had almost forgotten.

Even from far away, I recognized the man’s plaid long-sleeved shirt and the large backpack, but now he was walking alongside a bike on his approach.
“Hey, look! It’s that guy you drove past this morning!”
 I shuddered inwardly. Well, karma just bit me in the butt.
“How did he catch up with us?” Motherly instinct took over as I rose, my legs wobbly. “Will, stay there. Here, take this,” I said, handing him the tire iron.
 “We already tried that, Mom.”
“Not for that, Will.”
He scratched his brown hair, which was overdue for a cut, and looked at me, confusion wrinkling his brow.
“Be my wizard, Will. It’s your sword.”
“Wizards have wands.”
The circuit connected. “Oh…yes, Mom, I’ll protect you!”
I smiled faintly. “Thank you, honey.” I didn’t want to explain further that it was me protecting him. I didn’t want to say that if something happened, to run and hide in the woods. Because he would run and hide. Then what? Who would come help?
I shoved my hand into my front jeans pocket to nestle my fingertips around the pocket knife I had given Harrison for our wedding anniversary. The man slowed his bicycle as he drew nearer. He gave me an understated, yet significant, nod. The nod of understanding, of kindness. I didn’t buy it.
“Hello, again,” he said.

Available for pre-order at:

Available April 17th at Kobo ~GooglePlay ~ Walmart

Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.

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