Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Today, I'm very pleased to have author Allie Burke here as my guest. She's sharing some interesting info about the villain, Robert Shea, in her new book Nowhere Train. Be sure to check out her wonderful new adult, paranormal romance release.
I think what makes Robert Shea—Nowhere Train’s “villain”—is the fact that he has no idea what he’s fighting for. In most stories, you find a villain fighting for a very specific purpose and the hero fighting for who knows what else other than their life. In Nowhere Train’s case, though, it is Robert Shea who is confused, even if he doesn’t know it.
Nowhere Train introduces the post-apocalyptic war between the Holies and the Gunners—in essence, the hippies and the conservatives. Robert Shea, a father with a hardcore military background, leads the Gunners. He is ruthless with no remorse, even to his own son, Devlin. It would seem that he doesn’t care whether Devlin lives or dies. Well guess what: he doesn’t care.
At one part of Nowhere Train, it appears to Devlin that his father knows something about the zombie outbreak that his son does not, but that is only a crack in the surface. The hard truth is that Robert thinks he knows something based on stories he may have heard from various family members, but he has never seen this magical world in action, until it is too late to turn back.
The war that Robert Shea is so intent on fighting—and winning—shows us that nothing is ever as it seems. It teaches us to have empathy for those who might be different from us but not necessarily wrong, and a war is just a war until those on the battlefield choose to question everything.
Will Robert Shea realize this in time to save the world? The first book in The Enders series answers this question and so many more.
About the Book
Title: Nowhere Train
Author: Allie Burke
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal Romance, Dystopian
Two-years post end-of-the-world, all Jetilyn Fournier wants to do is learn to navigate a world that is no longer her own. Surviving zombies feels easy, though, compared to dealing with her rocky relationship with her best friend, the death of her mother, her sister’s faux happiness, and her father’s sudden desire to speak, after decades of silence. Saving herself is not even something she can fit in at the moment. Enter Devlin Shea: for all intents and purposes, a mortal enemy. Though she should hate him instantly upon contact, she doesn’t, and before she knows it, Jett has another life to save. Told in the surreal prose that Allie Burke has come to be known for, Nowhere Train is the first zombie novel of its kind. At two parts hippie and one part magic, it is as deadly as it is beautiful; as dark as it is hopeful, baring the question in mind: who–and what–are Jett and her family really fighting for?
A Bestselling Author, publishing imprint Manager, and Psychology Today Blogger from Burbank, California, Allie Burke writes books she can’t find in the bookstore. Having been recognized as writing a “kickass book that defies the genre it’s in”, Allie writes with a prose that has been labeled poetic and ethereal.
Her life is a beautiful disaster, flowered with the harrowing existence of inherited eccentricity, a murderous family history, a faithful literature addiction, and the intricate darkness of true love. These are the enchanting experiences that inspire Allie’s fairytales.
From some coffee shop in Los Angeles, she is working on her next novel.
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Four Feasts Till Darkness
Christian A. Brown
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Date of Publication: September 9, 2014
Number of pages: 540
Word Count: 212K
"Love is what binds us in brotherhood, blinds us from hate, and makes us soar with desire.”
Morigan lives a quiet life as the handmaiden to a fatherly old sorcerer named Thackery. But when she crosses paths with Caenith, a not wholly mortal man, her world changes forever. Their meeting sparks long buried magical powers deep within Morigan. As she attempts to understand her newfound abilities, unbidden visions begin to plague her--visions that show a devastating madness descending on one of the Immortal Kings who rules the land.
With Morigan growing more powerful each day, the leaders of the realm soon realize that this young woman could hold the key to their destruction. Suddenly, Morigan finds herself beset by enemies, and she must master her mysterious gifts if she is to survive.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/8E_RVXgpqB8
Morigan took the bracelet.
“I accept your offering.” The Wolf’s face lit and she thought that he would leap at her. “Yet first, I have a request.”
“Anything, my Fawn.”
“I would like to see…what you are. The second body that shares your soul. Show me your fangs and claws,” she commanded.
Perhaps it was the steadiness of her voice, how she ordered him to bare himself as if he belonged to her that made the Wolf’s heart roar to comply. He did not shed his skin but for the whitest moons of the year, and even then, so far from the city and never in front of another. In a sense, he was as much a virgin as she. With an unaccustomed shyness, he found himself undressing before the Fawn, confused for a speck as to who was the hunter. The flare of her nostrils, the intensity of her stare that ate at him for once.
I have chosen well for a mate. She is as much a Wolf as I, he thought, kicking off his boots and then shimmying his pants down to join the rest of his clothing. No bashful maiden was Morigan, and she did not look away from his nakedness, but appreciated what she saw: every rough, hairy, huge bit of him.
He howled and fell to all fours. Bones shifted and snapped, rearranging under his skin like skeletal gears. From his head, chest and loins, the soft black hair thickened and spread over his twisting flesh. His heaving became guttural and sloppy, and when he tossed his head up in a throe of agony or pleasure, his beard had coated his face, and she noticed nothing but white daggers of teeth. Wondrously Morigan witnessed the transformation, watched him swell with twice the muscle he had possessed as a man, saw his hands and feet shag over with fur and split the soil with black claws. Another howl and a final gristle-crunching shudder (his hindquarters snapping into place, she thought) signified the end of the change.
Her dreams did not do Caenith justice. Here was a beast twice the size of a mare with jaws that could swallow her to the waist. Here was a monster that had stalked and ruled the Untamed. A lord of fang and claw. The birds and weaker animals vanished, knowing a deadly might was near. Around her, the Wolf paced; making the ground tremble with power; ravishing her with his cold gray gaze; huffing and blasting her with his forceful breaths. While the scent of his musk was choking, it was undeniably Caenith’s, if rawer and unwashed.
Morigan was not afraid, and was flushed with heat and shaking as she slipped the bracelet on and knelt. She did not flinch as the Wolf lay behind and about her like a great snuffling rug and placed his boulder of a head in her lap. No, she stroked his long ears and his wrinkled snout. A maiden and her Wolf. Soon the birds returned, sensing this peace and chirping in praise of it. And neither Morigan nor the Wolf could recall a time—if ever there was one—where they had felt so complete.
About the Author
Christian A. Brown has written creatively since the age of six. After spending most of his career in the health and fitness industry, Brown quit his job to care for his mother when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2010.
Having dabbled with the novel that would eventually become Feast of Fates for over a decade, Brown was finally able to finish the project. His mother, who was able to read a beginning version of the novel before she passed away, has since imbued the story with deeper sentiments of loss, love, and meaning. He is proud to now share the finished product with the world.
5 signed copies of FoF (Launch Edition) shipped anywhere within US/ Canada.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Art Therapy for the Writing Life ~guest post by Suzanne Johnson, author of Pirate's Alley #UF #giveaway
I'm thrilled to have my good friend Suzanne Johnson return and spend a day on my blog. I'm also excited about her guest post--relating the benefits of a recent return to her love of drawing and painting. When I saw her art journal she shared at the end of last year, I was completely impressed at not only the artwork, but the free flow of emotions in those works. Years ago, I started my own creative path with art, and it still calls to me. This year, inspired through the peace I noticed it bring Suzanne, I set a goal for myself to explore a similar release and am finding time to explore soft pastels, a new medium for me. Thank you, Suzanne, for the inspiration!
Be sure to check out Suzanne's new release, Pirate's Alley, as well as her terrific giveaway contest at the end of this post.
Art Therapy for the Writing Life
by Suzanne Johnson
I wish I could say I returned to my first love, art, out of intuition or wisdom. Actually, it was driven by a really bad case of writer’s paralysis and an unknowing gift from a reader.
Here’s how I got there: I flat-out overcommitted myself in late 2013 and 2014, with five full-length novels due in 12 months, plus a full-time job, family caregiver responsibilities, and online workshops I’d agreed to teach. The day job became mired in dirty political shenanigans I couldn’t avoid and caregiving responsibilities at home grew more complicated, but those workshop and writing deadlines kept hitting. Somewhere in the middle of book four, as the day job hit an all-time low and began requiring a lot of overtime, I hit a wall. A really hard wall, complete with stress hives and insomnia. I was hitting my writing deadlines, mostly, but I was running on creative fumes and the joy was being sucked out of it.
Several months earlier, one of my awesome readers, Roger Simmons, sent me some of the beautiful Zentangles he’d been doing. I loved them so much I did some investigating and learned that it was a type of meditative drawing—good for the spirit as well as producing beautiful art—so I thought I’d give it a try. I’d never been able to stick to a meditation program, but maybe this would be different.
I sucked at it. I mean really sucked! One, it takes patience, something of which I have very little. And two, it takes a steady hand, which I no longer have most days. I have suffered from a nerve disorder called essential tremors for several years. I still have more good days than bad days, but steady mark-making and brain surgery are now off my list of skill-sets. (Well, okay, brain surgery never was.)
But something did come of that short-lived Zentangle experiment—I remembered that once upon a time, before writing stole my heart, I had been in love with drawing and had even entertained thoughts of a career in commercial art. Where other teenage girls kept diaries, I kept sketchbooks. My aunt did beautiful work in oils, while my mom enjoyed folkart painting. I drew in graphite.
Maybe my hand wasn’t steady enough to do Zentangle, but maybe it could do something else. I could still draw.
I had no idea where to start, so like any good geek, I bought a book and a few art supplies, stumbled across mixed-media art journaling, and fell in love. To my surprise, and in fairly short order, my creative paralysis broke and I found myself able to write again with enjoyment.
Now, almost every day, I show up to the day job with paint on my hands. And though it seems counter-intuitive, carving out an hour a day to putter around in my art journals has proven to be a great aid in writing novels.
Sometimes I use them to vent.
Sometimes I use my art journal to plot in the background and then paint over it, or to brainstorm an idea.
I almost always rough-sketch floor plans and city grids.
Most often, though, I use art to escape. To meditate in my own way.
I don’t make great art—couldn’t do it if I tried. There’s a reason I ended up as a writer rather than an artist. But that’s not the point. I’m not trying to earn a living at it, but to exercise different creative muscles than those I use for writing. It’s letting one side of the brain play and experiment and dabble while the other side—the writing, plotting side—does some subconscious ruminating.
I have grand writing plans for 2015 and 2016. Yeah, I still have a ton of deadlines. Yeah, the day job is still stressful, although less so than a year ago. The family obligations are still there. But with my new “secret weapon,” I’ve found a way to deal with it all.
Sentinels of New Orleans
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Date of Publication: April 21, 2015
Number of pages: 352
Word Count: 96,000
From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.
Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.
Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back.
And that's before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest "death," returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ's assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.
Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.
War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won't be that easy.
DJ, are you awake?
Freaking elf. “Go home, Rand.”
I am home. Where are you?
I frowned and burrowed my face into the soft down pillow. Which wasn’t my pillow.
Holy crap. What had happened?
I sat up and took in several observations at once, none of which made sense and all of which sent my heart rate jack-rabbiting hard enough to send my blood pressure into the ozone.
First, I was lying beneath a heavy bedspread woven in a rich blue-and-cream print. The bed was an elaborate confection made to look like an antique half-tester, and a brass chandelier hung overhead.
I recognized the Hotel Monteleone. I recognized Jean Lafitte’s bedroom in the posh Eudora Welty Suite in the Monteleone. I didn’t have a clue as to how I got here.
Second, I wore only underwear. My clothes were thrown across a chair in the corner. I had no recollection of removing them.
Third, the pillow next to mine still held the clear indentation of a head, and there was water running behind the closed bathroom door.
What in God’s name had I done?
Rand! Where are you? So help me, if that elf was behind this, I’d splay him open like a catfish and watch his guts fall on the floor. Then I’d batter and deep-fry him.
God, Dru. Stop shrieking like an elven shrew. I think you got too cold and went into a survival state.
Survival state? Then I remembered, and shame joined panic. I had gone into hibernation like a bear, right out on Royal Street in front of God and everyone. Quince Randolph, you sonofabitch! Why didn’t you warn me that would happen?
Stop yelling. How did I know you’d be stupid enough to go traipsing through the snow to the point of unconsciousness? I can tell you’re in the Quarter, but where are you?
Catch you later.
I slammed shut every mental door I could imagine and then troweled imaginary caulk in any imaginary cracks around said doors. I was vaguely aware that, off in the distance of my mental stronghold, Rand was yelling at me.
Had Jean hauled me back to the hotel like a sack of pommes de terres? How had he explained a hibernating blonde to the hotel management? At least my dark blue underwear matched. Had he taken advantage of me? No, it wasn’t his style. Which meant I’d consented.
Alex was going to kill me if I didn’t kill myself first. I wasn’t sure hibernation-brain was an adequate defense.
The bathroom doorknob rattled and I dove under the covers, even though I realized it was like closing the barn door after the half-naked cows had escaped.
From my hiding spot, I heard the door open and footsteps cross from tile to carpet before stopping with a rustle of fabric. “Hey, babe. You finally back from the dead? Whatcha doin’ under there?”
“Rene?” I poked my head out and frowned at my buddy the merman, fully dressed in jeans and a Saints sweatshirt. His feet were bare, and he walked around the bed and climbed in as if either one of us belonged here, much less at the same time.
“What are you doing here? What am I doing here? Who undressed me? Where’s Jean?” And, as an afterthought, “Why are we in bed?”
Now that I realize I hadn’t acted like my licentious great-aunt Dru and slept with the pirate, I transferred my anger to the proper place and it wasn’t to myself. I’d kill that sneaky Frenchman if he weren’t immortal.
Rene was not immortal, however, and he was within reach. “You better start talking, fish boy.”
“Aiyeeee.” Rene cackled like the Cajun he was, and fluffed the pillow behind his head. “I told Jean you’d be spittin’ mad. Nothing happened, babe. Your clothes were wet and I was just trying to keep you warm. I’m a shifter, you know. We run hot.”
“Oh, do you now.”
That made him laugh harder.
I threw off the covers and stomped over to my clothes. He’d seen whatever I had and I knew he didn’t want it, so there was no point in hiding. I picked up three soggy layers of T-shirts and sweaters, and cords so wet they weighed about ten pounds.
My breath hitched. The staff; I’d lost the staff. I whirled to Rene, who sat propped against the lush draped fabric that covered the headboard, watching me with a grin. “Where’s my bag?”
“In the living room. Everything’s there, babe, even your magic stick. Jean, he took care of you.”
Yeah, I just bet he did. It was hard to argue effectively in underwear I’d intended only Alex Warin to see, so I went into the living room, dug my room key out of my messenger bag, and stuck my head out the door, looking up and down the hallway.
“I’ll be back. Don’t go anywhere,” I yelled at Rene, and made a run for it, jamming the keycard into my door lock and slipping inside before I was spotted. If hotel cameras caught my mad dash on security footage, well, I’m sure they’d seen stranger things. This was New Orleans, after all.
Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.
Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
1 $50 Amazon gift card
2 $15 Amazon gift cards
Sunday, May 10, 2015
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here's some information about what these lucky folks won!
I've been writing Coon Hollow Coven Tales in my mind for several years. It's set in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington, where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The book is rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel.
I've been writing Coon Hollow Coven Tales in my mind for several years. It's set in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington, where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The book is rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel.
Genre: New adult Paranormal romance
Twenty-three-year-old Jancie Sadler was out of the room when her mother died, and her heart still longs for their lost goodbye. Aching to ease her sorrow, Aunt Starla gives Jancie a diary that changes her entire life. In entries from the 1930s, her great grandmother revealed how she coped with her own painful loss by seeking out a witch from nearby Coon Hollow Coven. The witch wore the griever’s moonstone locket, which allowed whoever could unlock its enchantment to talk with the dead.
Determined to find that locket, Jancie goes to the coven’s annual carnival held in her small southern Indiana town of Bentbone. This opposes her father’s strict rule: stay away from witches. But she’s an adult now and can make her own decisions. She meets Rowe McCoy, the kind and handsome witch who wears the moonstone. He agrees to let her try to open the locket, but they’re opposed by High Priestess Adara and her jealous desire to possess him. Desperate for closure with her mother, Jancie persists and cannot turn away from a perilous path filled with magic, romance, and danger.
If you missed the contest, or weren't chosen as a winner, you can purchase a copy at Amazon.
Here's the Goodreads link for you to add the book to your TBR list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24807853-witch-s-moonstone-locket
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“Oh no.” Starla shook her head and pushed away from the table. “Let me get Aunt Maggie’s old diary. I got this in a box of old family things when Cousin Dorothy passed.” She lumbered to her spare bedroom and returned with a worn, black-leather volume only a little larger than her wide palm. Once seated, she thumbed through the yellowed pages. “Here.” She pointed a finger and placed the book between them.
from Chapter One: Great Aunt Starla’s Cornbread
Warm rain mixed with Jancie’s tears, and she rose to stand beside her mother’s grave. She bent at the waist and her fingers followed the arc of her mother’s name—Faye Sadler—in the headstone. From numerous visits, she knew the unyielding shape well. The word goodbye stuck in her throat. She’d said it aloud many times since her mother died six months ago, only to have the cemetery’s vast silence swallow her farewells. Rain beaded on the polished granite. Her hand, bearing her mother’s silver ring, slid down the stone and fell to her side.
If only she could’ve said goodbye to her mother before she died. After years of caring for her mom while she suffered with cancer, Jancie had missed the final parting moment while getting a quick bite of dinner. The pain still cut like a knife in her gut.
On foot, she retraced the too-familiar path toward her work at the Federal Bank. Although she’d landed a job as manager at the largest of the three banks in the small town of Bentbone, the position was a dead end. Within the first six months, she’d mastered all the necessary skills. Now, after a year, only the paycheck kept her there.
Jancie turned onto Maple Street. As usual, wind swept up the corridor, between old shade trees protecting houses, and met her at the top of the tall hill. September rain pelted her face and battled the Indian summer noontime temperatures. She zipped the rain parka to keep her dress dry, pulled on the strings of the hood, and corralled strands of ginger-colored hair that whipped into her eyes. She gazed farther into the valley, where the view spanned almost a mile out to the edge of town. Usually, farmers moved tractors across the road or boys raced skateboards and bikes down Maple Street’s long slope.
Today, on the deserted acreage just east of Bentbone, people moving in and out through a gate of the tall wooden fence breathed life into the rundown carnival. Surprised, Jancie crossed the street for a better view. She’d lost track of life around her since Mom passed. The coming Labor Day weekend in Bentbone meant the valley coven’s yearly carnival. She and her girlfriends always looked forward to the cute guys, fair food, and amazing magical rides and decorations, even if her father didn’t approve of witches or magic. The residents of the sleepy town awoke to welcome a host of tourists wanting to see the spectacle created by the witches of Coon Hollow Coven.
Somehow, Jancie had forgotten the big event this year. Last year, she didn’t go since Mom was so sick and couldn’t be left. Jancie sighed and turned onto the main street toward the bank. She’d lost so much since her mother passed. Really, since the diagnosis of cancer.
At that time, four years ago, Jancie withdrew as a sophomore from Hanover College, a select, private school in southern Indiana near the Kentucky border—too far away. Instead, she returned to stay with her mother and commuted to Indiana University. Balancing hours with the home health care nurse, Jancie had few choices of career paths. Not that it mattered, since her remarried father expected her to find a job in Bentbone and continue taking care of her mother. Despite the sacrifices, Jancie loved her mother, who’d always managed money for a few special things for Jancie—a new bike, birthday parties, prom dresses—even though their income was tight. Mom had paid for her tuition and listened to every new and exciting college experience.
Jancie smiled at the memory of Mom’s twinkling brown eyes, that mirrored her own, when she asked about what happened during the day’s classes: if Jancie liked the professor; if she’d made new friends.
When she rounded the last corner, she returned to her work day. At the bleak, limestone bank building, reality hit. Jancie pulled against the heavy glass door, and a gust swept her inside. She peeled off the drenched jacket and hung it on the coat rack of her small, plain office.
Through the afternoon’s doldrums, punctuated by only a handful of customers, her mind wandered to the carnival. She’d gone dozens of times before and loved it. But since Mom passed, nothing seemed fun anymore, like she couldn’t connect with herself and had forgotten how to have a good time. She organized a stack of notes, anything to put the concern out of her mind.
After work, Jancie drove her old blue Camry the five miles to the other end of town where she lived in her mother’s white frame house, the home where she grew up, now hers. Glad to own her own place, unlike her friends who rented, she’d made a few easy changes. In the living room, a new brown leather couch with a matching chair and ottoman. She replaced the bedroom furniture with a new oak suite for herself in what used to be her mother’s room. With pay saved from the bank, Jancie could remodel or build on, but she didn’t know what she wanted yet. Her great aunt Starla had told her to just wait and hold onto her money; she’d know soon enough.
Pouring rain soaked the hem of her dress as she darted between the garage shed and back stoop of the small ranch house.
Glad she’d chosen to get her run in this morning before work, she changed into cozy sweats, pulled the long part of her tapered hair into a ponytail, and headed for the kitchen.
Her phone alerted her of a text, and she read the message from her friend Rachelle, always the social director of their group: R we going to the carnival?
Jancie typed a response. I guess. R Lizbeth and Willow going?
Yep whole gang. What day?
Don’t know yet. Get back to u. Jancie worried she’d spoil their fun. Even though they’d all been her best friends since high school and would understand her moodiness, she didn’t want to ruin one of the best times of the year for them. Since Mom passed, they’d taken her out to movies and shopping in Bloomington, but this was different. Could it ever match up to the fun of all the times before? “I don’t know if I’m up to that,” she said into open door of the old Kenmore refrigerator while rummaging for leftovers of fried chicken and corn.
The meal satisfied and made her thankful she’d learned how to cook during those years with Mom. Not enough dishes to bother with the dishwasher, one of the modern upgrades to the original kitchen, Jancie washed the dishes by hand and then called Starla. When she answered, Jancie asked, “Can I come over tonight? There’s something I’m needing your opinion on.”
“Why sure, Jancie. C’mon over,” the eighty-five-year-old replied with her usual warm drawl. “Are you wantin’ dinner? I made me some soup beans with a big hambone just butchered from Bob’s hog. My neighbor Ellie came over and had some. She said they were the best she’s eaten.”
Jancie glanced at the soggy rain parka and opted for an umbrella instead. “No, I just ate. Be right over.” Keys and purse in hand, she hung up and darted for the shed.
Five minutes later, she turned onto the drive of the eldercare apartments and parked under the steel awning where Starla gave her a whole arm wave from her picture window. Jancie made her way to number twelve on the first floor.
The door opened, and Starla engulfed Jancie in a bear hug, pulling her into the pillow of a large, sagging bosom. Starla smelled of her signature scent—rosewater and liniment.
Jancie had loved her great aunt’s hugs as long as she could remember. Stress and worry melted away, and she hugged back. Her arm grazed Starla’s white curls along the collar of her blue knit top embroidered with white stars—her great aunt’s favorite emblem.
“It’s so good to see you. Come sit a spell, while I get us some iced tea.” Starla pulled away and gestured to the microsuede couch decorated with three crocheted afghans in a rainbow of colors. “I thought we were done with this hot weather, but not quite yet. That rain today’s been a gully washer but didn’t cool things off much.” The large-boned woman scuffed her pink-house-slippered feet toward the kitchen. “Would you rather have pound cake from the IGA or homemade cornbread?”
Jancie laughed and followed her into the kitchen. She wouldn’t get through the visit without eating. “You’re just fishin’ for a compliment. You know your homemade cornbread is better.”
Starla arranged plates with thick slices of warm cornbread and big pats of butter on top, while Jancie transferred the refreshments to the aluminum dinette table.
“With your hair pulled back like that, you’re a dead ringer for your Ma. So pretty with that same sweetheart-shaped face.” Starla folded herself onto a chair beside Jancie. “You look to be getting on well…considering what all you’ve been through.”
“I’m doing okay,” Jancie said through a mouthful of the moist cornbread. She washed it down with a swallow of brisk tea that tasted fresh-brewed. “But sometimes, lots of times, I feel lost, like I can’t move on.” She ran a hand across her forehead. “I didn’t get to say goodbye. I spent time with her through all those years, and it shouldn’t matter, but it does every time I visit her grave and most every night in my dreams.”
“Oh, honey. I know it hurts.” Starla smoothed Jancie’s ponytail down the middle of her back and spoke with a voice so slow and warm, it felt like a handmade quilt wrapping around her. “You spent all that time and gave so much. Just like when I cared for my husband some twenty years back. I know. I never got the chance to tell Harry goodbye either. Time will heal all hurts.”
Jancie looked down at the marbleized tabletop to hide her teary eyes. “I don’t think I’m ever going to heal, Aunt Starla. I don’t know if I can ever move on.”
“There is one thing you can try. I’d have done it, if I’d have known before decades softened my aching heart. Way back, I was desperate like you.”
Jancie looked into Starla’s blue-gray eyes, set deep inside wrinkled lids.
Her aunt leaned closer. “Not many know about this,” she whispered as if someone outside the apartment door might hear. “There’s an old story about how a member of the Coon Hollow Coven, one who’s recently lost a loved one, is made the teller of the moonstone tale.”
Jancie rolled her eyes. “That’s just a silly story, one of lots that Mom and Dad told to scare me when I was little, so I’d stay away from the coven. When the moonstone locket opens at the end of the tale, you’ll get your wish but also be cursed.”
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication: 4/29/2015
Number of pages: 314
Word Count: 91,818
In the decade following the brutal murder of his wife and daughter, Ian has existed in a world built on grief and hatred. Just when Ian has finally begun to claw his way through the shadows of his past, a knife to the heart ends it all . . . . or is it the beginning?
After waking up in a strange home, Ian’s only companion is the woman who saved him. Undeniably drawn to her, Ian finds himself wondering if it really is possible to love again.
Trapped in a world where she is little more than a pawn for the Fae, Kyleigh long ago accepted the reality of her existence. She is no one’s savior and no one’s guardian angel; she is death. That is until she breaks all the rules to save a vampire many believe beyond salvation. Ian sparks a passion she never believed possible and reawakens emotions she thought long buried.
While secluded in a realm between life and death, Ian and Kyleigh are free to explore their feelings for each other. When enemies past and present join forces to destroy those Ian loves they are forced to leave the safety of Kyleigh’s realm. Can their fragile bond survive when they are faced with the demons of Ian’s past?
This is part of a series, however Seducing Death is a standalone novel,
and can be read without the first two books.
Kyleigh stopped listening to their conversation as the cold breeze of the shadows grew nearer. Time was almost up, and she still didn’t have a plan to save Ian’s life. The smart thing to do was to walk away knowing she’d done her best, but she’d watched Ian too long. No, she would not give up when Ian’s soul was so close to redemption.
“Maybe we should head back in. I’ll message Connor and see what he thinks,” Ian’s friend said, but it was too late. Both vampires heard the danger approaching. His friend pulled out the handheld crossbow and a knife while Ian drew two knives.
“Well, isn’t this a stroke of luck,” called out a human as he emerged from the woods followed by six others.
“Are you having some trouble, human?” Ian asked casually. His hands had dropped to his sides, but he still held the knives. This came as no surprise. She’d seen him in action enough to know this vampire rarely let his guard down.
“I think you already have,” the human said.
Kyleigh saw the inner struggle in both vampires. They obviously suspected the humans were up to no good, but both were too noble to kill them without provocation. That was new for Ian. No longer shrouded in darkness, Ian wouldn’t kill unless he had to.
Several other vampires stepped out of the trees, surrounding Ian and his friend. Kyleigh was all too familiar with this type of vampire. These creatures kept her busy many days. Quickly scanning the group, she found that all the innocent souls had been freed. With this newer virus they were sometimes trapped in the undead body, which was a form of torture she wouldn’t wish on the most evil person. She had yet to figure out how that was even possible, or why one of her kind wasn’t summoned to free the poor soul.
Ian and his friend reacted immediately. The knives in Ian’s hands found their marks in the hearts of two vampires, and Ian’s friend shot the crossbow at another vampire. Kyleigh watched the battle before her with a sense of helplessness. They were too outnumbered and there was no way to win. Even now, the shadows moved in, hungry for death and sin. Rubbing her arms against the cold breeze that preceded the shadows, she watched in horror as Ian was surrounded.
A scream no one would hear escaped her lips when the knife sliced through Ian’s chest. He collapsed to the ground, blood soaking the leaves. Her form wavered in and out with her rage. Despair began to settle around her, but she refused to let it control her. Ian was too close to being saved to lose him now. Whatever it took, the shadows would not claim his soul.
“Take the blond alive!” shouted one of the humans, obviously referring to Ian’s friend. “Damaged is fine, but he has to survive with no damage to his face!”
Determination flashed in Ian’s eyes, and his soul brightened as he worked hard to conceal his phone while sending a message. Then he buried the phone. Soon the blond vampire was unconscious, and Ian was struggling for life.
“Should we finish off the other one?” asked one of the humans. “Looks like he’s still alive.”
Kyleigh held her breath, praying to a god who’d long ago abandoned her that they would just leave.
The leader laughed. “Looks like he’s in a lot of pain,” he said with a vicious sneer.
The urge to use violence against the human who obviously enjoyed the pain of others came as a surprise to Kyleigh. It was a relief when they left the area so she could make her way toward Ian. His weakened state meant she had only seconds to save his life. Her decision made, she emerged from the trees, becoming visible to Ian.
Ian’s beautiful green eyes opened and focused on her as she approached him.
“Kate.” His voice was barely a whisper.
“Don’t worry,” she said in a soft reassuring voice, trying to hide her fear as the shadows closed in around them. “You’re going to be okay, but we need to get you out of here.”
Wrapping them in her power, she bound Ian’s soul to his body. Thankfully he picked that moment to lose consciousness, so she didn’t have to explain what was about to happen.
About the Author:
Cassandra Lawson is a paranormal romance author and homeschooling mom from the San Francisco Bay area. She has always had a very active imagination and loves making up stories. When she is not writing she enjoys baking, spending time with her family, listening to music, or curling up with a good book.
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