Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Dancing for the Devil: From the Pole to the PulpitDancing for the Devil: From the Pole to the Pulpit by Anny Donewald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Reviewer's note: I received, upon request, a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, Howard Books - a division of Simon & Schuster, in exchange for my honest review. vmls)

Fame... one's own or that of a friend or family... and the price that we are willing to pay to protect that fame, coupled with being sexually abused as a young teen set young Anny Donewald on a course... on a journey... of self-destruction that very nearly claimed her soul forever.

Dancing with the Devil tells the heart-wrenching story of a young woman caught up in the world of drugs, sex trafficking, prostitution and trade and her journey to and through that dark, dangerous world that has claimed literally tens of thousands of lives... many to the point of death and many to a life in which death would have been a welcome release from the hell on Earth they found themselves in.

It begins innocently enough... amateur night at a small time strip club. A few bucks... some free drinks are the 'prize'... and 'stories' to tell your friends later ... just another Saturday night, right?

But, wait... that wasn't the beginning of Anny's long dark night - a night that would last for years. No, for Anny the darkness began the first time she was abused by one of the players on her father's college basketball team.

For far, far too many women, their own journey into darkness began - will begin - the same way. Sexually abused at a young age by, not a stranger, but someone known... someone they are close to. Someone they trusted. And like Anny, their guilt and shame over what had been done to them made their own abuse a secret. One, as Anny says, had to be kept at all costs!

For Anny, that night was the beginning of a nightmare that seemed would never end. Guilt and shame overwhelmed her, robbing her of self-esteem, self-worth... robbing her of hope. And just when Anny feels that everything is lost... that she has used up all her chances at life... she has lost everything and everyone... save one... she ever loved or cared about... and she has finally hit rock bottom... and there is nowhere left to go...

A spark inside Anny refuses to die and a tiny voice inside her... a whimper almost lost in her dark despair... "help me... please!"

And God hears that plea... that tiny prayer... and He answers! God picks up Anny and touches her in such a soul-deep way that only our Creator... our Father... our Healer... our Redeemer... can.

Even after all the things Anny has done... after all the times that she turned away from God... all the times she set aside what she had read in the Bible... been told by friends... the messages she heard in church...

Even after all the times Anny turned her back on God... when she finally called out to Him.... He answered. Without hesitation... without condemnation... without any conditions... God answered Anny.

He lifted her up from the darkness and showed her light. He showed Anny his purpose for her.

That moment marked the beginning of Anny's next journey... one of salvation and redemption... one of hope and a message. A journey that would set her on a path of ministry that would come to touch many, many lives... and bring the message of Christ our savior to other lost souls. A message of love... of hope... of grace and mercy to countless 'lost souls', because this was Anny's calling.

It hasn't been an easy journey and I think Anny would be the first one to tell you that her journey is far from over.

At one point in the book, Anny relates something Jesus said to her. "Don't let people tell you who I am; let me show you who I am."

Anny doesn't tell us who Jesus is. She shows us. Her amazing story... from her 'fall from grace' all those years ago to where she is now... her salvation and redemption... the ministry known as Eve's Angels that she began... is an amazing testimony of God's love and of His grace and mercy.

Anny, through God's grace and with the support and encouragement of her cousin Carrie, tells an amazing, riveting and at times heart-stopping story of her journey through darkness and her divine rescue from the sex industry. Anny's open, frank words lay bare a world of depravity... a world no one wants to acknowledge exists... a world that isn't spoken of in polite company and only obliquely referenced in churches. A world that makes us squirm in our seats and change the television channel.

But more than that, it is a testimony of God's amazing grace and healing... and His unconditional, never-ending, never changing love. It is a reminder that we are all His children and there is nothing we can do... no hole so deep or dark or depraved that we find ourselves in... that He can't lift us out of.

Anny Donewald is living proof of that. She is also proof that the 'cycle' can be broken. That is part of the message of Eve's Angels, the ministry that she founded.

It doesn't matter how you got where you are. God will bring you home.

Dancing With The Devil is one of those rare reads that is hard to put down. It is told in such a compelling manner and voice that one could easily finish the book in a single sitting. I recommend this book without reservation.

Dancing For The Devil should be on everyone's 'must-read' list!

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
(writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)

View all my reviews

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Within Wet WallsWithin Wet Walls by Lily Childs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lily Childs shows once again why she is the Queen of horror/urban fantasy. Within Wet Walls is a wonderfully crafted story... dark and dripping with erotica... necrotica... fantasy... a thirsting for life at all costs... told only as Lily can. Within Wet Walls is a stunning tapestry of death, desire, drugs and disrepute... woven from the rich fabric of Lily's ever fertile imagination.

Wealdstone is a stately old manor of indeterminate age... weathering through seasons of repute and seasons of disrepute, but one thing remains constant...

The dark secrets that lie within the walls of Wealdstone. The dark, deadly secrets. The creatures... the spirits... that roam the rooms and corridors of the old manor. The beings... living but long dead that become the 'life blood' for those dark secrets whose 'lives' are measured not in hours and days, but seasons... seasons of man.

Beings who 'live' in the exquisiteness of death. Beings who 'taste the terror' of their....

Oh, but let's not be spoiling it here, eh?

No other writer I know holds a candle to Lily when it comes to telling a tale guaranteed to leave one stifling a scream... sleeping, albeit a most restless sleep, with a night light on for nights on end... and the echo of her words remaining long, long after the last page is turned and the cover closed.

Brava, Lily... Brava!

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
(writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)

View all my reviews

Saturday, September 6, 2014

ACCEPTING THE MOON - A Prequel to MOONRISING Book One by K.S. Haigwood

There is a new Alpha Wolf in town, and she is about to change everything. Mena had all she wanted in life: a nice house, money, a successful husband who treated her like a queen. That was, until she found out her marriage was all a lie, and things she never thought could exist, did. Vampires are real. Werewolves are real. And Mena is not human anymore.

Available from the following booksellers -

About the Author
Ever find it hard to talk about yourself? Yeah, I have that problem, too. I have been married to my soulmate for 8 years, who wouldn't pick up a book unless promised that it was filled with pictures. I have a beautiful 7 year old daughter, Riley, that talks too much and has a very vivid imagination. I have no clue where she got those traits. My step-son, Hayden, is 16 and very into football and hunting. I am a writer of paranormal suspense romance. If you enjoy a great love story with a massive amount of drama about angels, demons, ghosts, vampires, witches and fairy tale creatures brought to life through a twisted mind, then you might just enjoy reading my work.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Journey's End


My faults and flaws leave cracks on the stained-glass image of God that is on my soul.  Yet... His beauty... and His truth...  remain.


Sister Celine...


"Veronica, you cannot think about it in those terms... equating two lives against one life ...and  why does the one life have more 'value', to use your word, than the two?  That only feeds a guilt that you have carried for far too long... a guilt that is not yours.  The ordeal you suffered through was not of your doing.

You were not meant to die that day, Veronica.  And you were not put on this Earth to do 'ordinary'.  But… I think that I do not have to tell you this, do I?  And with all which that ordeal took away from you, from it you have gained a strength... you have gained a courage and a determination to fulfill the purpose God has for you."

Sister Celine pauses for a moment and then continues in her French-accented English.

"The guilt that you still feel is not meant to make you suffer, but to keep you humble.  Can you understand that?

God has forgiven you... you must believe that, Veronica.  You must!"

"I know He has... I mean... I try to believe...", my voice grows tremulous.  “ I want to... I just.."  Pressing my lips tight to hold back the sob rising in my throat, I turn my head away from Sister Celine, not wanting her to see the tears threatening to spill over.  After a few moments, she reaches out... the weight of her hand on my shoulder, light as a feather, is reassuring.  Turning back to face her...

"I fear my faith is not as strong as yours, Sister Celine."

With the echo of my confession hanging in the crisp mid-morning air, I watch her face, waiting for her measure of what I have just said.

In all the weeks that I have been here at the abbey, this is the first occasion Sister Celine and I have had to talk to one another.  But despite the fact that we've really only just met, I feel that the sister knows so much about me.  It's as if she has known me for a long, long time.  I feel a connection with her, some common bond I am as yet unaware of.  And, she understands me.  It is very comforting talking to her here now.

"I would disagree.  Your faith is strong, Veronica, I sense that... I see it.  And please... I wish you no offense... but I think that you tend at times to over-intellectualize it... your faith.  I think that as adults, we all do that.  It is not wrong... it is just..."  A small frown flits across Sister Celine's face as she searches for the right word.  "... non nécessaire?

Listen to your heart, Veronica.  Listen to it with the faith of a child.  And know that our Father loves you as He loves all of His children.  Beyond measure."


I stare down at my hands resting in my lap, the silver infinity ring a reminder of the life I have left behind.  I think about what Sister Celine has said.  I can feel the weight of her gaze on me, watching... waiting.  But, uncharacteristically for me, no words will come.

Gradually, I become aware of a sensation... a feeling, but not... something that I haven't experienced for a long time.  And there is something else... just at the edge of that awareness.  I think I have...

"Sister, do you thi...?"  My voice falters as I look up.  The space on the bench beside me is empty, save for the small bunch of winter flowers Sister Celine had been holding.  I stand up and look around the abbey courtyard.  She is gone.

"Sister?  Sister Celine!"  I call out, forgetting in the moment a cardinal rule at the abbey... 'quiet voices'.  A familiar shiver courses down my spine.

A chill has settled over the courtyard again, seeping through the heavy fabric of the novice's habit I have worn since arriving at the abbey.  More rain is on the way; one can smell it in the air.  I hurry back inside.  I have kitchen duty this week and the lunch hour will soon be upon us.




That evening at dinner I do not see Sister Celine in the dining hall.  When I ask Sister Catherine, seated next to me, about Sister Celine, recounting our earlier conversation in the courtyard, the room goes completely still, the soft murmur of many voices fades to silence, and everyone's eyes rest on me.  It is several long moments before I can speak.

"I'm sorry.  Did I do something wrong?"  I cast a worried look at the abbess, who is seated at the head of the long table.  She turns to Sister Abigail and says something I can't quite make out.  The sister stands and leaves the room.  Abbess turns back to me.  Her voice is gentle, but firm.

"Come here, child... sit with me."

Silence hangs over the room as we wait.  Sister Abigail returns shortly and places a large hand-stitched binder on the table in front of the abbess.

After what seems an eternity, the silence in the room punctuated only by the soft swish of turning pages and the rustle of old paper, Abbess stops and removes a small square of paper from one of the pages.  She places the piece of paper on the table's smooth, worn surface and slides it in front of me.  It is a black and white photograph... a very, very old one... of a young woman in a nun's habit.  The woman in the photograph is Sister Celine.  I turn to the abbess, my eyes holding the question that my lips cannot seem to form.

"This is the woman you saw today... the woman you spoke with... in the courtyard?"  Abbess says the words very carefully.

"Yes, Abbess, it is.  But... this picture is very old.  I do not understand."

"Turn the photograph over, child."

Turning the small square over, I see that there is writing on the back... very faded, barely legible, the ink brown with age.  I look up.  Abbess' head moves in a slight nod.  I have to squint to read the notation.

"Sister Marie Celine D'Cambrille... born 23 August, eighteen...."

My voice trails off and I feel my heart catch in my chest.  I look up at the abbess.  There is a shadow of sadness in her grey-blue eyes when she speaks.

"... eighteen eighty-three."  A pause... a sigh as she recites from memory.

"Died 17 May, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and seven."

Tears well up in my eyes as the full import of the day's events settles in my brain.  A dervish of thoughts and emotions swirl around inside my head... it's too much to process.  I am only dimly aware of Abbess helping me up from the table and leading me out of the dining hall.


The soft glow of candlelight and the warm, comforting scents of the chapel bring back the earlier peace I had felt... a peace that had gradually, over the weeks that I have been here at the abbey, settled over me.  Abbess is seated next to me in the front pew, her gnarled, yet surprisingly gentle fingers finding comfort in the string of rosary beads as she prays with me.  My own slender fingers have warmed the amber beads of Mama's rosary as I offer my own prayer to God, seeking His wisdom and His comfort to calm the turmoil in my mind.

Time is of little consequence, its passage marked only by the shortening length of the chapel candles and the small ache in my backside from sitting on the hard wood of the ancient chestnut pews.

"I first saw Sister Celine when I was just a few years younger than you are now." 

The soft contralto of Abbess' voice breaks the silence of the chapel.  I look up at her as she turns her gaze from the altar to face me.  She continues.

I'm not going to recount Abbess' story here; it would not be right.  Abbess shared something deeply personal with me.  Something for which I am grateful, in Sister Celine's words... "beyond measure."

At one point in her narrative, Abbess stopped.  She looked up at the statue of the Virgin Mary.  After a few moments, a peacefulness settled back over her face.

"Heart and head could not seem to reconcile.  You know that of which I speak, do you not, child?"

I nod slowly.  Abbess reaches out and takes my hands in hers.

"When Sister Celine came to me that day..." 

By the time Abbess is finished, the candles have lost more of their length.  The echo of her words fades away and silence falls over the chapel once more, broken only by the occasional sputter of a candle.  She takes my hands for a moment more and then she stands.

"I will leave you now, child, to your meditations.  I hope that you have..." she stops.  A gentle smile crosses her face.

"Good night, Veronica.  Bless you, child."

"Good night, Abbess.  Thank you.  For everything."


The next morning...


The woman in the mirror has a new look in her eyes.  The woman looking out from the depths of the ancient looking-glass is not the same woman who first gazed out of that silvered surface all that time ago.  The woman looking out now has lost something... something she carried for a long time.  She has let it go... left it behind.  The woman whose gaze now holds mine through the centuries-old glass has found something that she lost a long time ago.  The woman looking back at me this morning has reached the end of one journey.  The woman in the mirror has...

It's time.


Sitting across from Abbess, I am struck once again at the gentleness that radiates from her.  To look in the depths of her soft grey-blue eyes, one would not guess at the turmoil and strife that once had hold of her life, as it did mine.  There is a serenity reflected back that speaks more eloquently than any words possibly could, of the peace and purpose she has found here at the abbey, this gentle servant of God.

"So...?"  She leaves the question unfinished, the corner of her mouth turning up into a tiny smile.  Abbess knows, without having to ask, the reason for my early morning visit to her office.

I hesitate, not because I am uncertain of the words I am about to speak, but because I have waited for... and searched for... so long... the answers that I have found here, and I am still a bit disbelieving that I have finally reached journey's end.  My hesitation now is not one of uncertainty, but a moment of reflection.

The moment passes.

"I'm ready to go home now, Abbess."




It is with no small amount of sadness that I close the abbey gate, the sisters' final 'good-byes' still ringing in my ears.

It's time. 
Time to go home. 
Time to return to my life... and my wife. 
Time to return to the purpose God has given me.

"Keep them safe, Father." 

I look heavenward once more and then begin walking down the long graveled path to the main road where the car service will be waiting for me.

My journey back to America has begun.


Leaving the arrivals lounge, my only baggage the large carry-on slung over my shoulder, I make my way across the concourse toward the taxi stands outside the terminal entrance.  Even though I've already been through three international airports and a train station, I still find myself a little disoriented at everything around me.  Life was so simple back at the abbey.  Unhurried... uncrowded... uncomplicated... peaceful. 

But... for better or for worse, this is my world.


I see her... across the concourse, scanning the crowd, and for a moment I am frozen in place.

A myriad of thoughts swirl in my head... "She's here!  She came for me... my soul mate and my forever!"  And on top of that thought... "I'm not ready... I thought I had another 3,000 miles... I don't know what to say... it's been so long... what if she is mad at me for being gone so long... what if...how do I...what... I... ?"  And for one mad moment, I consider bolting.

And then, as if an invisible force were suddenly at work, the space between the two of us clears of other travelers and it is only she and I standing across the broad expanse of the concourse from each other. 

Our eyes meet.

And time stands still.


I feel the measured beat of my heart... each exhalation of air from my lungs... as I begin to slowly walk toward her, the tempo rising as each step brings me nearer to my inamorata.  After perhaps half a dozen steps, my brain gives up any pretext at proper comportment - surrendering to the heart - and I break into a run, the carry-on sliding off my shoulder and falling to the floor.  The yards separating the two of us disappear in a blur.

And then... I am in her arms and like the ocean surf, the wave of emotions that has been building crashes over me and all the words that I wanted to say are washed away.

"Me segurar... me segurar... me segurar.... eu te amo... eu te amo... eu te amo... eu te amo..."


I don't know how long the two of us stood there - again, time is of no consequence; it simply exists.  We stand, arms around one another, locked in embrace, two hearts beating against each other... two hearts beating as one heart... with a rhythm, that like the snowflakes of winter, is unmatched anywhere else in the entire universe. 

I finally notice the large overnight bag Tina has slung over her shoulder.  I step back.

"You're going somewhere?"  I try to keep the disappointment out of my voice, but don't quite succeed.  Only a very cruel God would reunite me with my 'forever' and then take her away so soon.  In the next moment however, my fears are banished.

"We are, baby girl!" Tina emphasizes the "we" and that smile I know so well lights up my honey's face.

"We are?"  My heartbeat does a little sprint.  I am thrilled, but more than a little curious, having expected only to return home and not leave our condo for several days.  Except perhaps for more food or wine.

"I wanted to give you something, Roni.  I thought and thought and thought... we have been apart for so long... eternities, it seems... I thought... what can I do to show you how very much I love you?  Something, perhaps, that you have not had since you were a little girl? "  Tina reaches in her purse and rummages around for a moment, then pulls out a small object and holds it out to me.

For several moments I can only stare at it, seeing but not comprehending.  The object is familiar. 

I look up at her.

"Are those the keys to the beach house my parents had when I was a little girl?"   Mama and I had been back only a couple of times after Papa left us.  The memories then had been too painful... too bright.

Tina nods.

"I don't understand... I thought... how did you...?"

Tina smiles and reaches out, pressing two perfectly-manicured fingers gently against my lips.

"Time enough  for questions later, baby girl... we've got a sunrise to catch!"


Less than thirty minutes later, the charter pilot receives final clearance from the tower and the Cessna 400 begins to roll, the runway lights flashing by faster and faster as the nimble aircraft reaches for take-off speed.

Moments after that, I feel that familiar little flutter in my tummy and we are 'wings up'!


An almost imperceptible lightening of the sky on the far horizon signals the breaking dawn of a new day, the thin line of scattering clouds a promise of the glorious sunrise to follow.

We walk hand-in-hand - oh, how I have missed this; the simple act of holding hands - across the expanse of deserted beach, the cool, dry sand shifting beneath our bare feet as we make our way toward the ever-moving edge of the incoming tide.

A lone gull flies overhead, its single 'caw' a protest over the invasion of humans at this early hour.

I rest into Tina's comforting warmth, wrapping my arms around her slender waist and tilting my head against her shoulder.  She leans down and I feel her lips brush across the top of my head.  Drawing in a deep breath, I let it out slowly, enveloped by the calming scents of my inamorata and the ocean.

We cast our gaze to the east... and wait.


The sun - that golden orb of life to this big blue spinning marble in space called Earth - is not yet half above the horizon when a flock of seagulls swoops down low over the waves in front of us, catching their wings in the first rays of the sun's warmth.  The scene before my eyes is so breathtaking I half expect a Max Richter or Hans Zimmer orchestral to rise up in the background.


Overwhelmed, I can only look up at the woman I love with all my heart and soul.  A hundred thoughts, a thousand thoughts... ten thousand... swirl around my brain.  All the things I want to say to her... everything she means to me.  I want to say those three words that have never... not for one single second... left my heart.  I want to say "I love you!", but the lump in my throat will let no sound escape and I cannot seem to swallow it away.

Tina looks back at me with her beautiful hazel eyes... with the little flecks of gold... those eyes I drown in over and over and over... and her perfect coral pink lips curve into a smile that melts my heart every time.

She says two words.

Two words only.

Two words that say everything.

Two words that mean every thing to me.

"I know."


Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
29 May 2014
(Writing under a large mushroom, somewhere in the Pacific Northwest)

Monday, February 17, 2014


I am both pleased and thrilled to bring you some very exciting news.  Magenta Shaman author Lily Childs, the brainchild and driving force behind Lily Childs' Feardom and co-editor of Thrillers, Killers 'n Chillers has compiled some of the best dark fiction from the ladies of her February Femmes Fatales and released what is sure to be the 'talk' of 2014 when it comes to horror and urban fantasy -
FFF Facebook Cover Photo
- an anthology in e-book and trade paperback.
Do you like your horror so dark, dripping and visceral that you almost dread to turn the next page, and your telltale heart beats ever faster as your eyes devour the words in front of you?  I'll bet no pansy-assed crime is going to do it for you, right?  It's got to be so treacherous, gritty and suspenseful that you bite your nails to the quick, leaving little red smears on the pages.  Noir, you say?  Noir so steamy and sultry, a cold shower's the only thing to cool you down and save a 'not-in-the-mood' spouse/partner from a 'ravishing'?  Or, is it ravaging?
You're in luck!  My dear friend and mentor, as well as the 'grande dame' of horror and urban fantasy, Lily Childs, has released a new anthology, featuring dark fiction and poetry by twenty-plus of the premier female writers of the genre today.
FFF Front Cover
Dark dames?  Here's twenty-three to thrill and chill you...
FFF Back Cover
Where can I buy this nightmare-inducing, burn-candles-long-into-the-night book, you ask?
Psssst!  *whispers*  Come 'ere... *steps in to alley*
Trenchcoat BW 50
You look a decent sort... I suppose I can tell you.... as long as you spread it around, right then?
Lily's February Femmes Fatales is on all Amazon platforms.  Here are the main ones are:
Now... you'll keep your word, right?  Tell all your friends.  And... it wouldn't go unnoticed if you wanted to leave a few words on Amazon about the book.  Doesn't have to be a huge review, but it goes without saying... "I liked it."  isn't likely to get you a plate of cookies.
Just sayin....
What's that you say?  Do I have a story?  I am both thrilled and honoured to have been asked to contribute a story for Lily's anthology.  Thank you for asking.  Would you like a little peek at Soul Taker?  *opens trenchcoat*
FFF Soul Taker
I've already burnt through several candles - for some reason, I can't read this stuff in the light of day; it's got to be in that dark, silvery time between the witching hour and the pre-dawn - and more than once awoken my inamorata, having given myself a fright over reading these femmes fatales dark offerings.
Well, I'm off to the apothecary for some herbed candles... it's going to be a long night.
Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
16 February 2014