Seasons Of The Fool by Lynne Cantwell

Season of the Fool is Lynne Cantwell’s latest book which is part of this month’s round on kindlescout. Today’s post is a last push to get the word out and also to share her thank you giveaway with all her readers and you.

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For those of you who are not aware of the kindlescout program, it is a reader-powered publishing platform for new, never-before-published books. We have the power here, because we the readers get to help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will
be published by Kindle Press.

Today I’m hosting Lynne to share an opportunity to not only help out, but get a chance to get a free book! As a way to thank EVERYONE for nominating, each book you nominate, not just this one, will be sent from kindlescout to your reader! Each book, as in can nominate up to three more books after Seasons of the Fool ;). The nominations close on the 26th so with Lady Reader’s Tours, I am helping this push to share this and get more nominations!

 There are a couple ways you can help and Lynne has an EPIC cool THANK YOU GIVEAWAY for a KindleHD6 in any color you want.

You can share the post :), you can click and share this pre-made link….

Tweet: Less than a week left to nominate SEASONS of the FOOL by @LynneCantwell for #KindleScout! #amreading http://ctt.ec/94cMy+
Click to Share!

…And you can nominate Seasons of the Fool on kindlescout!

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This is also the reveal of her new cover. Let’s get it nominated!

Seasons of the Fool

By: Lynne Cantwell
Published: kindlescout Oct. 26
fantasy, magic-realism, urban-fantasy, paranormal-romance

A Fool’s journey begins with a single step…

Julia Morton Michaud has fled Chicago for her grandparents’ summer home in Michiana. She believes the cottage near Lake Michigan will be a refuge – a quiet place for her to pursue a  writing career while her spirit heals from a string of failed relationships.

But her past keeps intruding. Her ex-husband, Lance, is under investigation for defrauding his wealthy investors, and the specter of having to testify at his trial hangs over her. She begins a new relationship with a man she hardly knows. And her neighbor and former lover, David Turner, is trapped in his own troubled marriage.

Julia discovers a labyrinth in the woods near her cottage. It belongs to Elsie and Thea, the elderly ladies who live at the end of the lane. Julia wants to use it for meditation, but she doesn’t know the risks. For the women have their own agenda, and it’s tied to the rug Elsie is endlessly weaving.

The truths Julia learns in the labyrinth have the potential to change all their lives – if only she will take them to heart.

– Goodreads | KindleScout –

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lynne-cantwellLynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan.
She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews.
Lynne’s vast overeducation includes a journalism degree from Indiana University, a masters degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University, and a paralegal certificate. She is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited.
She currently lives near Washington, DC.
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Across Lake Shore Drive from the beach, behind the multi-million-dollar “cottages” atop the dunes – the ones with views all the way to Chicago – the woods begin.
Old-growth oak and maple tower over the faux log cabins that nestle into the understory – dogwood, sassafras, tulip poplar, and the occasional pine. Most of the houses look vacant. School begins earlier than it used to, and the families who spent their summer days frolicking in the waves and riding bikes along the winding lanes have gone back to their workaday lives on the other side of the lake. But here and there, windows are still open to catch the warm, early September air. The cars in the driveways of most of these homes sport Indiana or Michigan plates, but some belong to the summer people for whom summer hasn’t quite yet ended.
Here’s one on a corner just a block from Lake Michigan. There’s a gray station wagon with Illinois plates parked in the concrete driveway, and a pickup truck with local plates angled in behind it. A couple of guys in t-shirts and worn jeans are erecting a sign in the front yard – “Ames Construction Co.” – while a man with thinning ginger hair signs something on a clipboard.
We turn the corner onto Nokomis Trail and pass a few more cottages, interspersed with vacant lots where wild grapevines twist around neighboring saplings. In a manicured yard that would look at home in any suburb, an elderly man pushes a lawn mower. On the street in front of his house, a wooden mallard stands guard over his mailbox and two others, its whirligig wings spinning lazily in the breeze.
Every now and then, the man pauses to wipe his forehead with a carefully-folded red bandanna; as he pauses, he shakes his head over the cottage across the way, nearly invisible behind a riot of unkempt bushes and vines.
Next to this abandoned house is a vacant lot. Next to that, at the very end of Nokomis Trail, is a tiny cottage that looks like something out of a fairy story. Garden statuary – here a frog, there a nymph on a log – nestle amidst gangly purple mums. A gnome guards the entrance to the stepping-stone walk, and several wind chimes hang from the porch eaves.
The elderly man glances toward this cottage and crosses himself surreptitiously. Then he goes back to work.
****
Inside the cottage at the end of the lane, a plump, matronly woman with a cheerful face hums as she works a loom. The frame takes up most of the living room, leaving only space enough for the fieldstone fireplace, two easy chairs, and a tiny television.
The woman pauses in her work and whistles, long and low. “Well,” she says to herself. “Isn’t that interesting.”
Just then, the back door bangs shut. The woman at the loom looks toward the kitchen, where a tall, thin woman with a narrow face has just come in. Out of habit, she ducks under the herbs hanging from the rafters as she removes her gardening gloves.
“Mind your shoes, dear,” the plump woman says. “I just swept.”
“I’m going back out,” the tall one says as she gets herself a glass of water at the sink. As she waits for the glass to fill, she says, “I saw another dragonfly. That makes seven, just this morning.”
“Was this one headed up the street, too? Toward the Morton place?”
The tall woman nods, then downs half of the water in one long drink. “Looks like things are about to change around here.”
“Yes,” the plump woman says, examining her weaving. “I see that.” She turns back to the tall woman with a sunny smile. “At last!”
****
At the same moment, thirty-five miles across the lake as the crow flies, Julia Morton Michaud sits in her lawyer’s office. Elaine’s firm is small, so their offices in Chicago’s Loop don’t command the sweeping view of the city that a larger firm would have. But as the Haddon of O’Leary and Haddon LLP, Elaine rates an office with a glimpse of the lake.
Julia attempts to maintain a professional demeanor as Elaine goes through the checklist: life insurance, health insurance, retirement accounts. The country club membership. The burial plots. All of the knotted strands that will have to be untangled before her marriage can be dissolved.
All of the legal knots, anyway. The emotional bonds frayed away long since.
“Now, the checking accounts,” Elaine says.
“Equal split,” says Julia. “Same with the savings and money market accounts. And the stocks.” She expects a fight over the stocks, but intends to stand her ground. She needs those investments to live the life she means to live. And she refuses to let Lance get away with everything.
“And the real estate?” the lawyer goes on. “I assume he’s keeping the Gold Coast condo. But you’re going to keep the house in Evanston, right?”
“No,” Julia says. “He can have that, too.”
Elaine looks at her over the top of her reading glasses. “It’s worth several million dollars, isn’t it?” At Julia’s nod, the lawyer goes on, “Well, we have some options. We can ask him to buy you out. Or we can stipulate that the house be put on the market.”
“I don’t want the money,” Julia blurts. “I don’t want any part of that house. He can have it.”
Elaine gives her a look of barely-concealed disbelief. “As your attorney,” she says, “I would strongly advise that that would be against your best interests. But as your friend….” She shakes her head. “Julia, what are you thinking? You’re entitled to half the house, as well as half the condo. And most of your wealth is tied up in your real estate holdings, unless I miss my guess. What are you going to live on, if you give everything to him? For that matter, where are you going to live?”
Julia tilts her chin up. “The house in Michiana. I’m going to live there.”
“In that derelict cottage?” Elaine’s shock is plain.
“It’s not derelict,” Julia says, defensive. “It needs some work, that’s all. And it’s quiet. It’s the perfect place for me to get my head together and do some serious writing.”
The attorney shakes her head. “So you’re really going to lock yourself away in that moldy old place. I thought you were kidding when you mentioned it at dinner last week.”
“Nope.” Julia pulls her chin up higher. “I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. This is exactly what I want to do.”
The lawyer sighs. “Well, I’ll draw up the agreement with that in place and send you a draft by tomorrow morning at the latest. But I think you’re making a big mistake.”
Julia nods – in acknowledgement, not in agreement. She looks past Elaine’s shoulder and out the window, beyond the end of the concrete canyon, where a sliver of Lake Michigan is visible. The waves glitter in the harsh light of midday. It feels like a promise. Or like a release.
Silence draws her attention back to her friend. Elaine is regarding her with a wistful expression. “We’ll miss you,” she says.
Julia waves away the sentiment. “It’s not like I’m moving to the moon,” she says with a laugh. “I’ll only be sixty miles away.”
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Featured Author Laurie E. Boris

Today’s featured author is the lovely Laurie E. Boris.

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Hi Laurie, how nice of you to join me on my blog today and that you are willing to shed some light on what drives you to write these great books, but for that I need to ask you some questions. Brace yourself, for here they come …

Can you give me your best Whoop? Unless you have another one which works better for you?

If I’m in public, I keep it clean. “Woo hoo!” Yeah. That’s generally me.

Okay, sounds like a winner that one, but does it work all the time, even those times when the muse has gone and done a runner on you? And when did you first start with it?

Anything that gets the blood moving. I think I started using it when my husband introduced me to NASCAR and football. (Not sports I ever would have sat down to watch on my own.) And about the muse? I don’t muse much about my muse. I’m a writer. I sit down and write. The times it flows and the times it doesn’t, I attribute more to my physical and emotional state. For instance, when I can do little more than stare at the same sentence, it’s generally because I’m tired or need to eat or get some exercise.

Right, sounds like you are on the right track there. Let’s do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun.

What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?

Don’t Tell Anyone.

Is that a joke Laurie? Are you trying to wiggle your way out of this?

No, I’m not kidding. That’s the title. Yes, you can tell people.

Okay. 🙂 In that case, I’ll show the cover too.

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AMAZON | B & N | Smashwords

Did you have difficulty coming up with the title?

Yes and no. Actually, it was excruciating. The working title had been The C Word since I started the first draft, because among the older generations of my family, nobody said “cancer.” It was the C Word, or never mentioned. Jewish superstitions, I think. But when I prepped the manuscript for publishing, the title was in use on at least six cancer memoirs. [This is not one, by the way, although a character in the book has cancer.] So I immediately thought of Don’t Tell Anyone, because nearly all the characters in the book have a secret and at some point ask their confidantes not to tell. Idismissed it initially, brainstormed about 250 new titles, and came back to Don’t Tell Anyone because my writing group and my husband really liked it.

If you would have to change the genre, what would it be then?

Of this book, or in my writing in general? For this book, I toyed with making it a full-out, Coen brothers style dark comedy. But it didn’t work.

Just to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.

What don’t you like about writing, or whatever you need to do marketing wise?

I love writing. I love editing. Constructive criticism, bring it on. Marketing, not so much. I’m an introvert. We’d rather talk to one or two people at a time. I’m working on that.

Tell me, when your muse is visiting and you’re on a roll, what would seriously drive her/him away?

What drives the writing flow away for me is fatigue. Or if I’m doing something contrary to what my gut is telling me. That often means I’m off-track.

What does your muse look like?

The closest thing I’ve had to an actual muse is my late mother-in-law. She was one of my biggest fans. Sometimes she haunts my writing room and I can smell her perfume. I can almost hear her voice: “Finish that book already; I need something good to read.”

Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?

I frequently speak with them. We usually get along. If there’s a disagreement, it’s usually because I’m trying to make them do something they wouldn’t really do, or because they’re not ready to spill their secrets yet. You can’t rush a recalcitrant character.

Can you name the food and drink that will surely get you started?

Coffee or tea. Holding a hot mug centers me and helps me drift into the writing.

Would you be able to come up with an excuse on why you haven’t written a whole day, and have me believe it too?

I don’t write every day. I mark my progress by the week. Some I write more, some I write less. My excuse? I was editing a client’s manuscript. Or there was a good episode of The Big Bang Theory on.

Hahaha, those are actually very good reasons to procrastinate.

But why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard slaving over a manuscript?

Because I don’t really like doing anything else.

Okay now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want the blab about. But please no cat’s, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even envious. Tell me something none has ever heard before from you. hehehe, love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂

No problem, because I have no cats, dogs, or children. Although we have a lot of mice in our house, so one or more of the three would come in handy. I hear kids are really great at catching mice. Secrets? I always wanted to play second base for the New York Mets. Or be an umpire. I’m annoyed that I failed the height requirement to become a Radio City Hall Rockette. It took me five years to write my first novel (never published), and received 138 literary agent rejections, including one by an agent who also writes romance novels. In the book I make fun of romance novels. She was not amused.

Right, now let’s give out something about the writer. You know, some facts the fans would love to know.

Laurie Boris is a freelance writer, editor, proofreader, and former graphic designer. She is the author of three novels:

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and Don’t Tell Anyone, of which you’ve seen the cover above.

When not playing with the universe of imaginary people in her head, she enjoys baseball, cooking, reading, and helping aspiring novelists as a contributing writer and editor for IndiesUnlimited.com. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley.

And finally we can we stalk, I mean follow, friend or find  Laurie on social media such as her websiteAmazon author pageFacebookTwitter, and Goodreads

How To Create Great Cover Art

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is the saying, but let’s be honest, it is what we all do. At least if I’m honest, it is a big part of the decision to pick up a book or not, especially a tree book (physical book) but even an e-book could be dismissed if the cover looks like something a six year old would have come up with. Not bad if it’s a book aimed for that age group, but it’s not something you want if you are looking for the mature reader.

 

Cover Cranford Bad      Cover Cranford

Take the two covers above. To the right is the one by Penguin Classics and shows basically what the book is about with the right feel to it. Left is … Well, let’s say it’s a bit of a crowded picture and I don’t see what it has to do with the story behind the cover.

There’s a lot of things that can make or break your work but the very first thing, after you’ve written that masterpiece, you need to create a great cover for your book, and for that you must have a great picture. One that covers what the book is about and not just one you like.

There are many places to find good photos to use as cover art for your book. I always like to browse Flickr to find pictures to match the stories I write or create a cover for, and if you do an advanced search for pictures with a Creative commons license, chances are you can use the image for free. However, even if it’s under creative commons, you still have to make sure it’s available for commercial use and if you are allowed to alter it. Also remember that it’s always nice, and good manners to let the owner of the picture know you are going to use his–or her–picture and to what purpose. Most of the times the photographer will be pleased to hear their work will be published and might even help you with promotion once you publish.

I promised the owner of that beautiful Red Ridinghood photo–which I am using as the basis for my cover–a copy of the book and of course being mentioned as the photographer. It has resulted in a great working relation with Lee Turnbull and two great covers.
cover Red Gone Bad         a-menu-of-death-final-full-KLM
If you have money to spend and want a picture by a renowned photographer rather than support an upcoming great artist, you can always look for commercial content, sometimes those aren’t that expensive either. On sites like Istockphoto you can find pictures, not even that expensive. I’ve seen very nice ones for only $13 and high resolution, which you need if you want to be able to use it for a print too.There are many more sites with loads and loads of content to chose from, but these are the ones I prefer to browse.And then there’s ImageShack not a site to find pictures to use as cover, but certainly useful to upload your own pictures for safe keeping and sharing with others. They allow you to embed, or link to pictures on their site.
Now that you’ve found the perfect picture and the photographer has agreed for you to use and alter the photo for that cover the real work begins. Creating a cover is not as easy as you might think it is. Which font is the right one to use for the by line, the title, where to place those, do you need to add or remove anything from the picture?
The cover for Red Gone Bad for example started with the below picture. Great work of art, but too busy to use as a cover and however beautiful that lens flare is, it has no place on a book cover. So get rid of the ‘tossed salad’, the flare and to be able to place the title and by line in the right place the image was flipped.
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The artist, Lee Turnbull, was very happy with the end result and up till this day we have a great contact, even developed a kind of friendship, and a working relation that serves us both, because I will depend on his great eye to shoot the cover for The Power Of Three too.
So, with the right picture you’re not there yet. You need to either learn how to use Photoshop, of Gimp which I prefer for the simple reason it is free software, easy to use and does everything Photoshop does too. There’s an abundance of tutorials on Gimp all over the interwebz, but I quite liked the Gimptalk forum.
How do you get your covers? Create them yourself? Buy them and get disappointed every now and then, or do you have friends helping you, like I have when I’m stuck and can’t see where to take the cover I’m working on.

Cover Reveal and Giveaway for Nashville Trio by Joy Daniels

Nashville Trio, A Music City Ménage by Joy Daniels

Music City, USA 
After years of hard work country music duo Sweet Talk is on the verge of success. Singer Ashley Ford swore off the romantic entanglements that cost her mother her musical career, but her playing has fallen flat. She needs a spark. 
Where inspirations strikes 
Co-singer Rob usually find his pleasure with men, but when Ashley runs back to the arms of her ex lover Ty, he realizes that he’s no longer content being only a friend. 
A tangled trio 
Pride kept Ty from pursing Ashley to Nashville. When Ashley returns to his bed, Ty vows not to give her up again, even if it means sharing her with a man he finds aggravating – and surprisingly attractive.
When secrets and ambition seem poised to destroy her chance to be a star, Ashley must decide if she’s willing to risk it all for a Nashville Trio.

goodreads-badge-add-plus A Progressive Giveaway

Enter to Win! 

For every 50 Adds to the Goodreads “To Read” Shelf, there will be a winner and a new prize level will be opened!
 
There will be 1 WINNER for each level below:
50 adds to Goodreads TBR OR a winner in the first 24 hours if 50 have been added at the time of the reveal – ARC of Nashville Trio 
 
• 100 adds to Goodreads TBR – ARC of Nashville Trio + ecopy of Revving Her Up 
 
• 150 adds to Goodreads TBR – ARC of Nashville Trio + ecopy of Revving Her Up + $10 iTunes giftcard 
 
• 200 adds to Goodreads TBR – ARC of Nashville Trio + ecopy of Revving Her Up + $10 iTunes giftcard + $10 Amazon giftcard 
 
• 250 adds to Goodreads TBR – ARC of Nashville Trio + ecopy of Revving Her Up +
$10 or $25 iTunes giftcard + $10 or $25 Amazon giftcard (they get to
choose one at $10 and one at $25 for a total of $35)
• 300 adds to Goodreads TBR – ARC of Nashville Trio + ecopy of Revving Her Up
+  $25 iTunes giftcard + $25 Amazon giftcard (total of $50)
 
 
I know you must be curious about the Author, so below you can find out a bit about her.

Joy writes erotic romance because she likes to expose my characters completely – strengths, flaws and scars. Her debut novella, Revving Her Up, was the first story in the Full Throttle series, which focuses on the bad boys – and girls – of stock car racing. It was a Night Owl Reviews Top Pick, and has been called “one heck of a sexy ride” (Sizzling Hot Books), and “a hell of a sexy read” (Read-Love-Blog). She’s currently working on the next two stories in the series.

Her newest novel, Nashville Trio, is a steamy MMF ménage novel about a country singer and the two very different men in her life. It comes out May 5, 2014.
New Adult romance is her new favorite passion. She loves writing stories with angst and heart, heart-melting kisses, and happy endings. She’s currently working on two New Adults series. The first, Running Scared, is about a Boston University student and the bodyguard hired to protect her from herself. It will be out in August 2014. The second series is a trilogy (Scarred, Burned, and Marked) about three friends bound together by a terrible tragedy and the scars it left behind.
Joy is originally from New York City, (and still a loyal Yankees fan!), but since moving south, she has developed passions for NASCAR and country music. Both feature in her recent stories. In addition to writing (and reading) she enjoys yoga, bellydancing, and growing veggies in the Washington, D.C. area with her scientist husband and two curious kids. She’s active in the Washington Romance Writers, and the Maryland Romance Writers, and has been a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) since 2009.
Like most authors, Joy loves hearing from readers. So stop by, and say Hi! at www.authorjoydaniels.com or friend/follow her on Goodreads, Facebook or Twitter. Go and join her on Pinterest to see pics of hot kisses, sexy heroes, and images relating to current and future works-in-progress (WIPs).
If you would like to hear all the latest news and gossip, including information about upcoming releases and appearances, you can sign up for her newsletter here.
Be the first to hear about works-in-progress, help plot and plan upcoming stories, and get great swag by signing up for the street team, the Front Runners! For more info contact Joy via email at: authorjoydaniels(at)gmail(dot)com.
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Other Books By Joy Daniels:
This tour was coordinated by:
I ♥ Bookie Nookie Reviews
 
Please check out the other blogs participating in this Cover Reveal:

Book Tour – Differential Equation by Julian Iragorri & Lou Aronica

AMAZON | B&N | GOODREADS

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WHAT THE PUBLISHER SAYS ABOUT THE BOOK


This evocative, moving, and gorgeously detailed novel is the story of Alex Soberano, a contemporary man in crisis. A tremendously successful New York businessman, Alex finds it difficult to embrace joy and accept love. When his life threatens to boil over, he escapes for a brief respite on the West Coast. What waits for him there is something he never could have imagined.Intertwined with Alex’s story are the stories of three people from different times and places whose lives affect him in surprising ways:

  • A woman from the South American city of Anhelo in 1928 that everyone knows as “Vidente.” For decades, Vidente, has been one of Anhelo’s most celebrated citizens because she has the ability to read colors that speak of a person’s fate. However, during one such reading, she sees her own future – a future that includes her imminent death.
  • A man named Khaled who left his home in Bethlehem in 1920 to seek fortune in the South American town of Joya de la Costa. He has barely begun to gain a foothold when he learns that the wife and three children he left behind have been murdered. When a magical woman enters his life, he believes that destiny has smiled on him. However, destiny has only just begun to deal with Khaled.
  • A nineteen-year-old student named Dro who flies from the South American country of Legado to Boston in 1985 and immediately walks onto the campus of MIT expecting instant admission. Dro’s skills at mastering complex, ever-changing differential equations intrigues the associate admissions director. However, the person he intrigues the most is the celebrated US ambassador from his country, and his relationship with her will define his life.

How the stories of these four people merge is the central mystery of this arresting work of imagination. DIFFERENTIAL EQUATIONS is a story that will sweep you up in its magic, enrich you with its wisdom, and compel you with its deep humanity.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Julian Iragorri lives in Manhattan.
He has worked on Wall Street since the early Nineties.
 
Lou Aronica is the author of the USA Today bestseller THE FOREVER YEAR and the national bestseller BLUE. He also collaborated on the New York Times nonfiction bestsellers THE ELEMENT and FINDING YOUR ELEMENT (with Ken Robinson) and the national bestseller THE CULTURE CODE (with Clotaire Rapaille). Aronica is a long-term book publishing veteran. He is President and Publisher of the independent publishing house The Story Plant.

   

***

I have read and reviewed the book. If you’re curious to my opinion you can find my review here. If you rather skip my opinion and rather read a piece of the actual book, scroll don and you’ll find an excerpt.


Anhelo, Legado, South America, 1928With her eyes closed, all she could see were waves of brown. The woman sitting across the table from her wasn’t troubled or damaged in any particular way, as that color sometimes indicated; her spirit and her future simply seemed featureless.“Vidente, you have been quiet for a long time,” the woman said tentatively. “If you see bad things, you must tell me. I must prepare.”

People had been calling her “Vidente” for so long that she couldn’t recall the last time she heard her real name spoken aloud. Some in the community preferred to call her “Tia Vidente” as a form of endearment. Even her sons called her “Madre Vidente” now, having long ago accepted their mother’s place in the lives of the townspeople. After these many years, she had even come to think of herself by that name.

She opened her eyes slowly and her vision began to fill again with color. The violet and red of the tapestry that hung on the far wall. The ochre and bronze of the pottery on the shelf. The cobalt and white of the figurines on the cupboard. The terra cotta of the antique cazuela and the copper of the chafing dish, both presents from a grateful recipient of her services, neither of which had felt fire in Vidente’s home. The saffron of the sash that billowed over the window. The crystals and pewters and golds and greens; the room was a rainbow visible nowhere else in the world – a Vidente rainbow. A rainbow for a woman who sensed color beyond her eyes and who liked those colors expressed in the finest things available. Vidente’s home was her palace, a testament to her station as one of Anhelo’s most prominent and prosperous citizens.

Finally, Vidente focused on Ana, the woman seeking her help who, in contrast to the brown that Vidente saw with eyes closed, wore a bright orange frock with lemon embroidery. Ana had called on Vidente several times in the past year and she’d encountered her at church and in the shops. At all times, Ana wore brilliant clothing. She wants color in her life, Vidente thought. How sad that she doesn’t seem able to hold any in her soul.

“I am not seeing bad things, Ana,” Vidente said, tipping her head toward the woman.

“But you have been so quiet.”

Vidente patted the woman’s hand. “Sometimes the images come very slowly. That doesn’t mean you have anything to fear.”

Vidente truly believed that Ana had nothing to worry about regarding her future – except that it was likely to be a life without incident. The brown was everywhere. Sometimes darker, sometimes lighter, but always brown. The color of inconsequentiality and an abundance of self-doubt. For reasons Vidente couldn’t discern, Ana wouldn’t absorb the colors she wore so boldly in her clothing, though she seemed entirely capable of doing so. There were places Vidente didn’t plumb, for the sake of Ana’s privacy, but she guessed that if she looked there she might find why the woman avoided what she so wanted.

Ana’s brow furrowed and she looked down at her hands. Vidente wanted to offer her something, some suggestion that days more vibrant lay ahead. Vidente never lied to anyone during a reading, even when she believed the person wanted to hear a lie. However, she had many times kept searching and searching until she found a way to offer something promising.

“I am not finished, Ana,” she said as the woman looked up at her. “I will use another technique with you today. I need to look farther with this technique. I may not open my eyes or speak with you for several minutes.”

“I will be patient, Vidente.”

Vidente closed her eyes again. Usually, what she saw in colors was enough to give her useful messages for those who requested readings from her. The colors had always been reliable to her. Sometimes, though, she needed to extend her vision. If she sent herself deeply enough into the space outside of herself, she could see actual images. Occasionally, entire scenes played out in front of her. Vidente had come to learn that these visions weren’t nearly as reliable as the colors; unlike the colors, they were mutable. Still, they sometimes offered direction when none other was available.

The waves of brown appeared again. Like molten chocolate wending its way through a sea of caramel. It was necessary for Vidente to look past the color. She focused intently on the darkest of the brown and in doing so made the message of the brown drop away. It was like stepping through the fog and coming to a clear space. Here, though, the space offered only shadow. She could see the faintest movement. Was that a man? Ana wanted a man so badly; one who would finally erase Oscar’s humiliation of her. The image Vidente saw here was so indistinct, though, that it could as easily be a deer, a sloth, or even a vegetable cart.

Vidente concentrated further, pushing her soul toward the shadow, encouraging her will to be in the same place as the shadow. Something was definitely moving around and she could now see that the shape was human. Male? Female? Young? Old? None of that was clear. Nor was it clear why there was such a veil over Ana’s future. This had nothing to do with the woman’s health. Vidente would have seen that in the colors. For some reason, the spirits did not want to offer the images they usually gave so generously.

She so didn’t want to disappoint Ana. Once a month Ana came to her, gaily dressed and bearing a tray of the delicious pastries she made, eyes gleaming with hope but shaded by desperation. Vidente always found a vision to encourage her; the visit of a favorite nephew, a celebration Ana would attend, the birth of a neighbor’s child. These visions were never what Ana truly wanted, but she always left Vidente’s house viewing the world with a little less desperation. And she always came back.

Several minutes passed, but the images remained indistinct. I must go beyond sight, Vidente thought. She rarely used the process she was considering, and she was not entirely comfortable with it, but she knew it was possible to close her eyes completely. To allow her other senses to tell her what her vision did not.

Vidente tipped her head slightly and felt herself falling backward. With this sensation of falling came absolute blackness. There were no colors here, no shadows, nothing nearly so brilliant as brown. It was as though she had never seen anything at all, ever in her life. The feeling of unease that always accompanied this technique rippled her skin. Vidente had never stayed long in this place and she knew she could not linger here now. However, there had to be a reason why the other techniques eluded her, and she would spend a few sightless moments here for Ana’s sake. She liked the woman too much to let her go away with nothing.

She felt cooler suddenly, as though someone had opened all the doors and windows of her home at once. The air was different. It was crisper and thinner. It smelled of loam and oak. Vidente knew, though she wasn’t sure how she knew, that she was somewhere very far away. Was Ana going on a trip?

Maybe to some distant mountains in Europe or even America? The only thing Vidente knew for sure was that no place in Anhelo or anywhere near it had air that felt this way.

Just on the edges of her hearing, Vidente found the sound of moaning. These were not moans of pleasure. Nor were they moans of pain or suffering. The moans held a sense of sadness and loss, but not the dissonance of true grief. As she extended herself to try to make more of this sound, Vidente felt a moist softness on her forehead followed by a silken brush across her face and then warm pressure. Moments passed and she felt the same series of sensations again. More moments passed and the experience repeated itself. Each iteration felt slightly different but materially the same.

As this happened for the fifth time, Vidente caught the scent of perfume. A floral and consciously unrefined smell, one that announced itself as its bearer entered a room and lingered for many minutes after the visit was over. It was unmistakably Ana’s latest perfume. No one else in Anhelo wore it. But the scent was not coming from the Ana who sat across the table from Vidente. It came instead from the scene Vidente sensed in her temporary blackness and it grew stronger as Vidente again felt the pressure on her body. Vidente heard a sob and then the pressure lessened. Soon the smell of Ana’s perfume diminished. It was then that Vidente realized that Ana was a part of this scene, but she was not the focus of it.

Vidente was.

Kisses on the forehead. Unreturned embraces. Repeated multiple times.

Vidente’s eyes opened involuntarily, causing the colors in the room to close on her vertiginously.

“Vidente, your expression; it frightens me.”

Vidente tried to stop the swirling of colors, tried to fix her eyes on Ana without scaring her further. “You have no reason to be frightened,” she said.

As her vision corrected, Vidente saw Ana’s hand go to the cross at her neck. “How can I believe that when you go into your trance for a long time and then come back looking like the devil was chasing you?”

Vidente took Ana’s free hand and clasped it with both of hers. “Believe me when I say that I didn’t see anything that should cause you fear. I just couldn’t get a clear image for you and this frustrated me.” Vidente stood abruptly, holding the side of the table to guarantee that she wouldn’t stumble. “I am sorry, Ana, that I could not do better. Maybe next month.”

Ana rose slowly, thanked Vidente, and left, her eyes more clouded and confused than when she entered. As soon as the woman was gone, Vidente sat down again, feeling the need to close her own eyes once more, but worried about what she would experience if she did so. If what she’d already felt was true – and it was important for her to remember that only the colors were always true – she would soon take a journey that would send her to a place of crisp, oaken air.

And then, before Ana changed her perfume again, Vidente would die.

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