Dear Friend,

It is so good to see you again.  A full year since we last met in recognition of World Suicide Awareness Day.
This year I sat for, what felt like an eternity, thinking about what to write.  Did I want to cut and paste a cheery blog? 
Not really.  It seemed too dishonest.
So, I sat and asked myself the pivotal question, “How do you give someone hope, when you’re running low on it yourself?”

For the past 4 months, I have been losing my vision.  I say the past 4 months, but it happened much like Ernest Hemingway described bankruptcy, “Gradually, then suddenly.”

Since then, I’ve seen over six specialists, been diagnosed, but I am still trying to find treatment options.  For a writer to struggle to read is reminiscent of a cruel universal joke.  Even to write this blog will take tremendous effort.

So why bother?

I’ve been lying here, feeling sorry for myself. I get it.  You get it.  I’ve cried myself to sleep. I’ve looked around for a friend and realized some of the closest people in my life have vanished. 

I’ve wanted to vanish.

So what stops us?  Those of us suffering depression, suicidal thoughts? What stops you?

Sometimes I make a list, of the big and the little things I’d miss. 

What will my brother’s wedding look like?
                       Will my sister’s kids love Mary Poppins like their mom?
     Who will win the Game of Thrones?!

…Sometimes it’s hard to find any reasons at all.

Even those of us who suffer depression can’t always sympathize with others who feel the same way.

When I heard news that Robin Williams had killed himself, I was outraged more than empathetic.  He had it all! Money to live ten times over, a family, awards, etc.  Then I learned he’d just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and that struck a chord.  I understood that. How illness on top of mental illness can be the tap on the glass that shatters everything. 

But for a lot of people, that tap takes a different shape. Not always an illness, but a loss of a loved one, a missed opportunity, yet another disappointment in a universe that seems to have forgotten about you.

I was standing in the middle of my own tragedy, ignorant and judgmental of others and theirs.

Suddenly I felt ashamed, and I knew I had to talk to you.

You see, this is how I'd like to spend the next year.

Remember that everyone is fighting their battle.  Remember that sometimes the most tortured have the biggest smile.  The girl carrying an empty box can harbor the most hope for those around her.  Be human to one another because you have known the struggle.  You have fought the demons through the night only to realize that the sun does not whisk them away come morning.

Less than a week ago, the
World Health Organization released an official report on worldwide suicide.  It had taken them an entire decade to complete. The results took my breath away.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life.

That comes to approximately 800,000 suicides a year.

The official statement pointed out that out of 172 countries, only 28 have government implemented action plans for suicidal persons.

Without realizing it,
in roughly the time it has taken you to reach this point in this blog,  3 people have taken their own life.

Three people in an expansive world of learning, infinite possibilities, Gelato, cotton candy, birthdays, sunrises, sunsets, thunderstorms, Christmases, and wishing on stars, will be lowered into the ground or be carried away by the wind.

So I beg you, don’t become numb.  Don’t become so lost in your suffering that you truly forget that you are not alone.  We may feel broken, but the flaws, as you will eventually realize, make you compassionate and wise. 

Arm yourself to keep fighting.  Find your reasons to stay, as big or small as they may be.
LAUGH…LIKE A LOT. 

The battles can be hell, but continue to fight and in the end the things you fought for will bring you more joy than that infinite darkness ever could have.

I will see you next September.

With Love Always,

Jessa


IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDE PLEASE CALL
1.800.442.HOPE

OR CHECK OUT THEIR WEBSITE

HOPELINE
Worldwide Directory of Suicide Prevention hotlines, online chat, text-lines, and resources
 
 
***For starters this isn’t usually the type of thing I blog about. However, I’ve found myself so enthralled with recent goings on at the Church I once attended that I had to write. 
I would love for comments to be added and shares to be made. 


I should also say that due to a severe eye condition, right now the only screen I can type on is my cell phone.  Please try to excuse any spelling/grammar errors, as text to speech and I have a complicated relationship.  Do not confuse my literal blindness with ignorance.

I will also preface this by saying I have never once identified as a feminist.  If I get to board a life boat first and leave a bank robbery with the kids, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. However, I believe feminism was and is a strong movement. ***

Ok…let’s see if I can make this phone work.


The church I once attended has gone through a great upheaval.  I no longer worship there, and I have not been there recreationally in some time.  (Recreationally meaning, not an obligatory wedding, christening, or confirmation.) In fact I’ve only seen its internal structure crumble through dramatics no less than Gossip Girl worthy.

I suppose it should be noted this Church is Lutheran.  I will define Lutheranism as a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the theology of Martin Luther, a German monk and theologian.  Luther began his teachings on this Christianity around 1517 A.D.

But it is a new day. They are looking for a new Pastor, and in the interim put in place is a sort of substitute Pastor.  For the purpose of this I will call him Pastor M.  Troubling things I’ve heard of Pastor M.  No sex scandal, he doesn’t steal out of the collection plate. In fact he’s doing something much more disturbing.  He’s excluding women from the church he is currently babysitting for two months.  It began by excluding a youth minister from the Confirmation of the students she taught for two years.  A bright, kind and strong woman who, despite upheaval, took the teachings of the God she worshipped and sang his praises.  Why was she ditched?  Simple answer…she’s a girl.

Simply overhearing this news I shook my head.  She should have fought harder; she should have stood her ground.  However, that can be difficult to do in a new setting.  Especially upon finding out…she would have been standing alone.

The next week, I was curious. A love of theology and general ridiculousness pushed me to seek out a copy of the sermon.  Easy enough.  I skimmed it (this guy could RANT) and my jaw dropped.

Picture
Of course this is a snippet from an entire sermon. The entire sermon would have included the real Pastor’s name so I did not post the entire thing. However, if there is a desire to read it, I will make it available.
They say there are 5 stages of Grief, first is Denial.  I stood there speechless.  Was he serious?  A woman is supposed to sit next to her man and look pretty?  All because God so mucked up Adam that he needed a do-over and she was second? 

My grief quickly turned to stage 2. Anger. I’ve been lingering there about a week.

Here is the thing Pastor M.  Unless you bring me a note from Jesus himself, that book you’re quoting is about as real to me as Harry Potter.  It was written by men.  Decades to hundreds of years after Jesus was hanging out with Prostitutes and Lepers.  Yeah…remember them?

Pastor M. I can hit you with Bible quotes all day. The Bible sir is not an ala carte situation. 

For instance I saw your Facebook, and the one’s of those you’ve friended along the way.

I think it’s a shame that most of them will be struck down by wrath due to that BBQ:

It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood. (Leviticus 3:17 KJB)

This next one is gonna be awwwkward:

Those adorable kids in your Facebook photo’s…I hope it was nice knowing them. 

Since it looks like not only did you cut their hair:

Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard. (Leviticus 9:27)

But honestly…they looked a bit unkempt while playing:

Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, "Do not let your hair become unkempt and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community. But your relatives, all the Israelites, may mourn for those the LORD has destroyed by fire. (Leviticus 10:6)

Now it seems a little ridiculous right.  The good book has some pretty BAD ideas on dealing with bed head and you’re going to completely phase out every female in a congregation on the same note.

I wish you’d reconsider your bigoted and choosy inclinations when it comes to the Bible. I wish you’d understand the impact it makes on anyone to be silenced and singled out.  I’ve known women whose whole life was serving God and living his word.  I’ve known women who considered the support of fellow congregants a life saving entity…literally.  Diminishing women won’t win you a Penthouse after passing those pearly gates.  For as my sister so wonderfully put it, “Jesus wouldn’t even be here without the devotion and love of a religious woman.”  You have to admit…Mary had moxy.

I recently learned that your wife is pregnant. In that moment, I stopped what I was doing and did say a small prayer. (Quite rare for me.) I prayed that you and your wife are blessed with a healthy and beautiful baby boy.  I will admit my first instinct was to say, give them a girl God, let him see how bright, clever and overwhelmingly important she will be. 

But I’ve seen how the slightest breeze of condescension can steal a little girls thunder.  I have seen little girls forced to wear tutu’s instead of the Batman cape, because what girl could save a city let alone herself.  I don’t want that to happen to another little girl.  So instead I hope that the soul of the fearless and the freedom filled angel girl is bestowed to a Father who will treasure her for her gifts, her stubbornness and her open mind.  That this angel girl be given a father who not only stands up for her rights, but teaches her to stand up for herself.  A father who helps her to create a Batman-Ballerina Halloween costume, because she values the ideals of both.  Every child deserves that type of unconditional love. 
To be taught that in the eyes of God they are no less important than the moon and stars…let alone boys.

There are so many battles going on in the world Pastor M. 

Why would you ever fight with half an army?




Thanks For Reading!
Jessa

 
 
Picture
Aria was first introduced to readers in Book Two of The Sin Collector Series, Sacrifice. She is a 25 year old Mystic, new to the Prague Coven. Her powers are drawn from the element of water, and she is often too quick to rely on her supernatural abilities. She is telekinetic, and an empath, which can be a deadly combination. She can also see Auras.
The votes were incredibly close, as you can see below. 
Thank you everyone who voted!  And if you were team Immanuel, don't fret. His story will be included in the conclusion of the series The Sin Collector: Origins

 
 
Happy Valentine’s Day You! 

You. Are. Awe Inspiring. 

And I chose right now to tell you because I’m not sure if anyone has yet today. 

On a day dedicated to love, it seems only appropriate. 

But awesome is not the only word synonymous with your name, your heart, your soul.

You are exceptional, a force to be reckoned with.  A spirit laden with stardust, pixie dust, and book dust.

You have slain the dragon, or been burned nearly to ash.   Yet countless times you rise, despite the rumors of failure, the worries of exhaustion and the negative voice inside your head that whispers, piercing your heart like small jagged pieces of glass. 

You are resilient.  You are diamond, Adamantium, the stuff they make Nokia phones out of, all of the forces of nature.

You are beautiful, even when you make that wonky face, when you’re cuddled in your comforter watching all 7 seasons of your favorite show, when you’re flushed with anger, even when you’re sleeping and your hair is gnarled. 
Behind your closed eyes we can almost see the vast ocean of dreams rushing through your brain, stitching together worlds and stories that only you can tell. 

Your soul sparkles, even in the darkness.  You are stunning.

You are brilliant.  You could be the next Da Vinci, Jonas Salk, Buzz Aldrin, Steve Jobs, the most loving Mother, the most vigilant Father, your greatness is astounding.

Even to the universe that created you.

Most of all, you are loved. 

At least one person thinks of you, and feels the warmth of your smile radiate in their chest. Someone you’ve kissed remembers you fondly for your Dr. Pepper lip gloss.  A lover you’ve yet to meet creates your life together in the beautiful recesses of their mind.  There are children yet to be born, dogs waiting to be adopted, and distant family still to meet. 

You are loved.

So love back recklessly, intensely, love until your heart feels as though it may burst.
It's really the only way to do it.

Love Always,

Jessica


 
 

Title: The Flower of Hell
A Short Story in the Van Helsing Organization Series
Author: Noree Cosper
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Release Date: 2/14/14
Cover Artist: Rebecca Hamilton

Originally part of the Paramourtal Anthology, this short story is being rereleased on its own. Get a chance to learn more about Gabby and how she became involved with the Van Helsing family.

Gabriella devoted her eternity to carrying out her vengeance against demons. As she pursues her latest prey she stumbles across another hunter. To Gabby, Dimitri is an unneeded distraction, but he attracts her like no other man has for centuries. Will this hunter unlock the feelings she’d buried long ago or will he just open her up to more heartache? Can Gabby protect both of them from the demon stalking the Paris streets?

Want to know when The Flower of Hell is released? Sign up Here!




About Noree Cosper

Noree Cosper loves writing about magic in the modern world. While growing up in Texas she constantly searched for mystical elements in the mundane. She buried her nose in both fiction and books about Wicca, Religion, and Mythology. Everyday became an adventure as she joined a group of role-players, acting out her fantasies of vampires, demons, and monsters living in the world.

She embraced her nerdom wholeheartedly.

Noree grew, but never left her love for fantasy and horror. Her dreams pushed her and her hand itched to write the visions she saw. So, with her fingers on the keys, she did what her heart had been telling her to do since childhood. She wrote.

Connect with Noree


 
 
It has come to my attention that mysterious messages are being found all over the United States.  It seems Collectors everywhere are trying to use social media as well as pure happenstance to spread information. 

I will be posting all of the found photos here.

If you find one of your own, please link us to your picture in the comments and  give us the location it was found.

It has been pointed out to me that the sequence of numbers is a United States phone number, with the area code of Maine....Liliana's last known permanent location.
Picture
This most recent addition was sent in by a woman identifying herself as Abigail
Picture
This newest picture, found in Washington D.C. is a bit fuzzy. Submitted by a man who calls himself Xavier.
Picture
Sent in by a woman named Genevive from Florida
Picture
An anonymous post made from Bourbon Street, New Orleans
 
 
This Summer will bring you a new Novella in The Sin Collector Series.  Last time, Thomas's story won with the most votes, and people loved learning more about his history.

So once again I'm letting you decide.
Make yourselves heard!
Voting Ends February 28th!

Feel strongly about who should win?
Use the comment section below to plead your case!

Aria was first introduced to readers in Book Two of The Sin Collector Series, Sacrifice.  She is a 25 year old Mystic, new to the Prague Coven.  Her powers are drawn from the element of water, and she is often too quick to rely on her supernatural abilities.  She is telekinetic, and an empath, which can be a deadly combination. She can also see Auras.
Immanuel was first introduced to readers in the last Novella, Thomas.  He is over 2,000 years old, and assisted in mentoring Emmilina.  He does not carry the Mark of Protection.  He however does carry a dark secret.  The Collector's are searching for the wicked leader of The Castus, Ariadne.
But back when Immanuel loved her, he simply called her Addy.
VOTING HAS ENDED. PLEASE CHECK BACK TOMORROW TO FIND OUT THE WINNER OF THE SUMMER NOVELLA!
 
 
Today is the last day of the #CovenAndCoffin blog hop.
However, even though Halloween is over, there is still plenty of Autumn to go around! 
And as always, you have until midnight to enter the giveaway below!!

Caramel Apple Cider
From Peter Dawes

One of my favorite drinks this time of year is the Caramel Apple Spice drink at Starbucks. While getting one of these is as simple as driving a half mile down the road, it racks up money very quickly. And like any good writer, there are those misanthropic days when I don’t feel like leaving the house. So, I found this recipe on the Practically Functional website for Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Spice. It makes a hefty enough batch that I can forgo Starbucks for a little while.

Picture
Image from Practically Functional
Ingredients:

·         6 C apple cider (Apple juice will do, too)

·         4 T caramel syrup

·         2-3 cinnamon sticks (or 2 t ground cinnamon)

·         5-7 whole cloves (1/2 t ground cloves)

The site says you can use ground cinnamon and ground cloves in this recipe, but it will leave tiny bits of spice floating around in your drink. If you use whole cinnamon sticks and whole cloves you can pull them out at the end. Personally, I’ve never minded either way.

The directions are simple: just mix everything up in your slow cooker. Make sure to stir the syrup in well so it doesn’t just sit at the bottom. As you stir, the liquid will become really light-colored and may look a bit cloudy, but it will get darker and clearer as it cooks.

Once everything is mixed together, turn your slow cooker on low. Let it go for at least 4 hours so the spices have time to steep. Once you’re done cooking, carefully remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves.

And there you have it!

 
 

Graveyard Cake
From Kayleigh Grian

Picture
Stock Image
Halloween is one of the best times of year to get creative in the kitchen! There are just so many things you can do with food to make them creepy. One of my favorites is the Graveyard Cake. With this one you can let your imagination run wild, and even if you don't have a lot of decorating skills you can still turn out a great cake.

You'll need:

1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix (and the ingredients needed for said mix)

1 container of chocolate frosting

1-2 packs of Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (these will be your gravestones)

1 pack of sweetened shredded coconut

green food dye

black icing gel (or icing writing tip with any color icing to write on gravestones)

1 package of Nabisco Oreo cookies

1 package of gummy worms (optional)

1 package of pumpkin shaped candy corn (optional)

1 package of Ghostly Peeps (optional, if using will also need lollipop sticks for each)

any other decorations you'd like to add to your "graveyard"

2 Seal-able plastic bags such as Ziploc

Instructions

1. Bake cake as indicated on cake mix and allow to cool completely.


While baking, place coconut in ziploc bag and add several drops of green dye. Close bag and shake to mix the coloring with the coconut. This will be the grass on the cake, so keep adding a drop or two until you have the correct coloring. Once done you can spread out on wax paper to let dry.

2. In another bag, place the Oreo cookies (minus the "stuff" in the middle, bonus, you can scrape them and eat it as a treat while baking!) into a ziploc bag. Crush the cookies into little crumbs. (This will be the dirt mounds in front of the gravestones)

3. Use the black icing gel to write on the Milano cookies (RIP, BOO, Here Lies, etc). Let dry.

4. You can leave the cooled cake in the baking pan or remove to decorate

5. Frost the cake with the chocolate frosting (this will be the ground)

6. Push the Milano cookies down into the cake, about half way. Alternately you can cut the cookies in half and push in just enough so they stand upright.

7. Sprinkle the green coconut around the cake, creating grassy areas.

8. Sprinkle the Oreo crumbs in front of each gravestone (making it look as though it is freshly dug)

9. Place a couple of the pumpkin shaped candies next to some of the Milanos, as well as one or two of the ghost shaped Peeps and gummy worms. This is where you let your imagination run wild and get creative.

Side note: This can be done for birthday parties as well, just write things like Over the Hill on the gravestone cookies :) You can also do individual cupcakes with one grave each instead of a large cake.


Kayleigh Grian is currently a part time student working on her Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Computer Forensics and Security. She also works full time as a police dispatcher.

Kayleigh has always enjoyed writing, especially fiction and poetry. She is working on several projects including her first novel and a collection of short stories. Kayleigh enjoys reading as much as she does writing and will often go through a few books a week when she doesn't have a ton of homework to do.


Picture
When their parents were murdered, twin sisters Sapphire and Sage, were separated to keep them safe. That was 22 years ago. Now, just before their 25th birthday, they are reunited only to learn the true reason for their parent’s murder, magic. They are the current generation in a long line of powerful witches. Their family tree seems cursed, with tragedy and death haunting each generation, traced as far back as the 1700s.

The Night Rage Coven is a group of power hungry demons with the ability to steal magic as long as they can kill the last of a bloodline. When the twins inherit their powers, they become the latest target of the Coven. They must learn to work together and control their new magic before it is too late. Will they survive the hunt or will the bloodline end with them?

Sapphire and Sage is available for early download through LeanPub, a new publishing company that allows readers to purchase the book while it is still being written. Everyone who purchases a copy will get updates with each new chapter posted. As a special treat for those participating in the Coven and Coffin blog hop, use the coupon code: CovenAndCoffin to grab your free copy from Oct. 27th through Nov 1st!
 Get yours now!

Follow me all week for awesome Halloween inspired recipes that will leave even the pickiest of Monsters satisfied.

Find the blog hop easily on Twitter #CovenAndCoffin
 
 
As every horror fanatic/Halloween lover, I enjoy some well placed gore with a dash of the macabre. 
However, if you have kiddo's coming to your party, you can't make anything too scary. 
A few years ago I found the perfect balance with this tasty dismembered arm!

Picture
I apologize, I didn't have a digital copy so this is a picture of a picture

Dismembered Arm Pepperoni Bread

What You Will Need

1 Roll of Refrigerated Pillsbury Pizza Dough

1/4 Pound Pepperoni

1 Cup Mozzerella

2 Tbsp. Melted Butter

2 tsp. Garlic Powder

1 Pie Crust

1. Melt your butter in a bowl, mix in garlic powder, sit aside

2. Unroll pizza dough flat on cookie sheet.  Brush entire surface with butter/garlic mixture.

3. Place Mozzerella and Pepperoni as if you are making a pizza.

4. Once done roll the dough up lengthwise, tucking the dough into itself on either end.

5. Pop in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

6. While that cooks, roll out your pie crust.  If your dextrous, use a small paring knife to trace a cut out of your hand.
 (I'm not that dextrous, but I have a very trusting sister)

7. Pop your hand on another cookie sheet and bake that on 350 for at least 15 minutes (until brown) take out and let completely cool.

8. Take pepperoni roll out of oven and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.  Then cut into one-inch pieces and shape into a bent arm as seen above on a tray.  Use one of the knobby ends for an elbow (and I usually eat the other, hey I need my strength to keep cooking!)

9.  Add your hand. And voila!  I usually end up making at least 4 of these loaves for my party, it's always the first to be eaten.  I normally only ever make one hand.

10. Option not seem above: Use folded up foil to create a puddle of blood on the tray (Marinara Sauce of course)
Follow me all week for awesome Halloween inspired recipes that will leave even the pickiest of Monsters satisfied.

Find the blog hop easily on Twitter #CovenAndCoffin