March 2014 Issue of Bewitching Book Tours Magazine

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Bewitching Book Tours Magazine Issue 21 March 2014

Bewitching Book Tours Magazine is a publication of Bewitching Book Tours and Bewitching Books. Editor: Roxanne Rhoads Design Editor and Layout: Lisa McGeen Contributors include Bewitching Book Tours Authors and Tour Hosts learn more at www.bewitchingbooktours.blogspot.com Ad space rates are: $40 full page ad $20 half page ad $10 quarter page ad You can subscribe to this magazine at http://issuu.com/bewitchingbooktours Š Copyright 2014 Stock images from www.123rf.com


Contents Maria Hammarblad Feature How To Be A Man Feature Why Paranormal rather than Contemporary Romance Sexual Tension in Fiction Unforgettable Heroes Feature After the Summerland Feature Putting the normal in paranormal Monthly Feature: The Darkest Night Sophie Avett Interview Interview with Lisa Fox Of Fur and Fang Feature Belly Dance Connection Secrets and Lies Feature Falling In Love with a Dragon Dead Awakenings Feature Earth’s Blood Feature Naughty Nook The Garden of Sensual Delight Pinup Files Pinup’s Best Friend Photography

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Fascinated by Mythology Maria Hammarblad Mythology always fascinated me. I don’t know if Swedish kids today learn about different mythologies in school, but we did when I was a little girl. There was a good portion of Norse mythology, naturally since it’s our heritage, but also the Greek and Roman flavors. I loved seeing the illustrations and hearing the stories. The old ways are much closer to everyday life there than here in the US. When I was a little girl, my mom taught me the scientific explanation for thunder, but she also explained that it comes from Tor throwing his hammer across the skies. My mind believes in electric discharges in the atmosphere, but my heart still believes in Tor. Tor, by the way, is not related to Loke in any way, real, implied, or adopted. That’s a Marvel and Stan Lee invention. I always wanted to combine mythology with science fiction – two of my favorite things – and they come together in The Goddess’s Saga. The main character is a complete figment of my imagination, and her relatives contain sprinkles of all the main western mythologies. Which makes sense, because they’re all related and have borrowed from each other. The pantheon of gods play a minor part in the first book, but they work behind the scenes throughout the story, and if I ever get around to writing the fourth book, they will have a stronger presence. Website: http://www.hammarblad.com Blog: http://www.scifiromance.info Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/mariahammarblad Science and science fiction


Maria Hammarblad I wrote the first draft of The Goddess's Saga just after moving to America from Sweden. I had enrolled in college, because it was a convenient way to get a student visa to see if I really liked living here and if it would work out with the love of my life or not. (We're married today and I'm still in the US, now with a Green Card, so the experiment worked out.) My major was business, but I attempted to schedule classes so I would have some use of them for my work as a writer as well, and I started a class in "Earth and Space Science" just as I typed away on Touch of the Goddess. The class went through the structure of the planet in detail, and I learned a lot about geology, hydrology, atmospheric movements, and other things that made perfect sense at the time. There's a portion of the book when Maria Callaway works on creating a new planet, and I stuffed some of my brand new knowledge into the book, reasoning that having roots in actual science would make the story somewhat more believable. Years ticked by and I re-wrote the book a couple of times, edited it, re-published it... While going through the motions of making my imaginary world reality on the pages I didn't give much thought to the fictitious world creation of Ms Callaway's planet. Not until the other day when someone said, "So, you write that the shape of the coastlines will have an impact on the movements of water and the planet's climate." I said, "Uuh... Yeah..." "So how does that work?" I don't have a clue. Bad writer. Bad, bad writer! I put all that time and effort into doing research, and I can't remember a thing about it. Making stuff up is so much easier than dealing with reality. I can make stuff up all day, but reality baffles me. It's like when you start looking at a word and after a while it will look like it's spelled wrong even though it's spelled right. It happens for me with things too. I can look at an object and start wondering, "But, how does it really work? Who thought of doing that the first time?" Then, I'm stuck, and I can't stop thinking about it. The other day it was a thermos. Who figured out the first thermos? I need to Google that. That is, right after I study up on coastlines, water movement, and climate. I digress. I want to write one more book about the characters in The Goddess's Saga, their story isn't over yet, and to do that I clearly need to brush off my science. Luckily I saved my books from science classes, so if someone needs me, I'll be reading about planets ...


Touch of the Goddess The Goddess's Saga Book One Maria Hammarblad Book Description: Drinking and flying is a bad combination. Stephan Forks learns this the hard way when he rams another ship in spite of the vastness of space. A moment later, a strange woman stands on his bridge, looking around with a frown. She's clearly a figment of his imagination. Nothing in his colorful past of smuggling and smaller crimes prepared him for people appearing out of nowhere. Maria Callaway has carried more names and appearances than she can keep track of, and she's bored beyond belief. When she runs into Stephan, he seems to be an amusing pastime. He's interesting, disorganized, pursued by pirates, and handsome. A little too handsome, actually. Maybe she should leave? Neither of them can foresee the chain of events set in action from their meeting. Adventure and danger go hand in hand during the upcoming days, and the collision resonates not only through their own lives, but changes the destiny of the world as they know it. Amazon Wrath of the Goddess The Goddess's Saga Book Two Maria Hammarblad Book Description: When genetically engineered Stephan Forks and demigoddess Maria Callaway attempt to settle down on a rural world, the result isn't entirely positive for the locals. Despite good intentions, the two wreck havoc with everything they do. Their friend Leila offers them to tag along for a job, and leaving the planet seems like a good idea. An adventure could be fun, and how hard can it be to rescue a stranded artificial intelligence? The journey turns out to be more than they bargained for, and Maria finds herself lone protector of the universe. Deprived of her friends and family she only has Stephan to lean on, and her human companion might not be up for the challenge. In the midst of battle and chaos, their destiny awaits. Amazon


Return of the Goddess The Goddess's Saga Book Three Maria Hammarblad

Stephan Forks should be dead. When he opens his eyes to an endless desert, he suspects he might have ended up in hell. It doesn't seem fair after staving off a threat that could have eradicated the universe, but life isn't fair.

His girlfriend, demigoddess Maria Callaway, is blissfully unconscious and shows no signs of waking up. At least she's there, and her presence indicates he might be alive after all.

The situation is desperate, and does not get better from discovering they're trapped on a world outside the regular universe. A world lacking the basic means of survival, but rich in heat and sand, battered by a relentless sun. Saving himself and Maria will require him to face impossible odds as well as ghosts from the past. Amazon The Goddess's Saga, compilation volume Author Bio: Born in Sweden in the early 1970's, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, "The Sun Book." They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother's horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her. As an adult Maria's creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.


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Letter to the Reader The stories in How to Be a Man were written over the course of the last fifteen years. Some came hot and fast and did not need much fiddling (“Men Are Like Plants,” “Oranges”) and some were the result of years of revision (“Nose to the Fence,” “Mouse”). The oldest story in the collection is “Snowshoeing,” and it’s flaws make me uncomfortable, but I love the striving to capture something inexplicable that motivated it. The youngest story is “Dammed,” and it’s a good example of my writing process now—I tend to revise extensively as I go and write a lot in my mind before I put it down on the page. Once I get started, it only takes me a session or two to get it all down. Author’s often get the question, “Where do you get your ideas?” I’ve never had a problem getting ideas, and I mourn the loss of the multitude of ideas that have come and gone, unfulfilled. I think there are lots of ideas out there—it’s just a matter of recognizing them for what they are, and when I’m writing—not blocked—the ideas come thick and fast. I may start with a voice, which happened with “Men Are Like Plants.” I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep, and her voice came to me so strongly I risked my husband’s displeasure—he hates it when I stay up late—and got up to write it down. I wrote most of that story in one sitting. What prompted “Revelations” was a contest a couple of years ago that had to include the year 2010. It got me thinking about the end of the world and Revelations, and so I wondered what a modern-day devil might be like. “Snowshoeing” started with the idea of conveying that feeling of separateness that sometimes comes upon a couple, that realization that you can’t always take your partner for granted. “Oranges” arose in one sitting on a plane coming back from a writer’s conference, the result of guilt over abandoning my kids for a week. “A Dangerous Shine” is based on a real incident that took place at the Buckhorn where I bartended. And on it goes. Putting together a collection is tough. The idea of revising so many stories at one time and the nakedness that will result from other people seeing them all together is enough to stop the hardiest souls in their tracks. And what order do you put them in? Do you treat them like a mix tape—starting with an attention grabber, turning it up, taking it back, orchestrating peaks and valleys? Or do you arrange them on merit only, putting the best ones first? My protagonists are of different ages—should they be organized by age? I ended up putting what I think of as my best stories first and last, but then also taking into account the mood of the story. I tried to start with some positive stories and then place some of the darkest stories toward the end. I also tried to group them tonally, thematically, and by protagonist, so “Mouse” and “Oranges” are together because they’re about young girls dealing with their parents. “The Body Animal,” “Revelations,” and “Dammed” are together because they’re about the body and violence and alienation. “Wanting” is last because it’s a strong story but it also is historical, while all the others are contemporary. I’ve always loved when authors tell the story of the story, and so I thought I’d choose a few and talk about how they came into being. “How to Be a Man” was written in response to “How to Date a Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie” by Junot Diaz. I had long resisted writing a second-person story because it seemed so cliché—the young writer thinking herself so edgy, taking such an avant garde point of view. Then I read a couple


of kick-ass second-person stories, and it began to work on me: Why couldn’t I write one? Then I heard Edwidge Danticat read Diaz’s story and I was hooked. The story wrote itself fairly quickly until I got to the ending— well, the first ending where she becomes a whiskery-chinned old batty. I stopped there. But I didn’t like that ending. I didn’t want her life to end that way. I wanted her to have a chance at happiness. Then I thought, why can’t I have two endings. I’m the god in this little world. I can do whatever I want. So I added the second ending. “Wanting” is another story I wrote in response to a story. Growing up in the West, I had strong Hemingway tendencies—clipped sentences, withheld emotion, huge psychic distance—and so to try to remedy that, I decided to take a great story that was a little more lush to imitate it in sentence construction, paragraphing, even down to where the dialog rests. The story I chose was Karl Iagnemma’s “Children of Hunger.” So I tried to maintain the feel of his story and mimicked it as closely as I could in my own story. It was a very helpful exercise, I think, and I really like the results. “Mouse” began as a writer’s exercise at a conference workshop presided over by Steve Almond. He had good advice about the mouse-killing scene: “A little blood and gore goes a long way.” I later expanded the scene into the story. I will always write short stories. They are harder than novels, in a way, because they require the precision of a diamond cutter. They have to be so much more concise, clear, compact, and well-written than a novel. In a novel, you can get away with pages of loose extraneous stuff, while a short story must have no fat. And I love reading short stories. I think we’re in a renaissance of good short-story writing, and for that I’m very thankful.

Q&A with Tamara How do you pronounce your name?

tuh-MARE-uh LIN-zee. Don't worry—hardly anyone gets it right the first time.

What does “writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl” mean? The real reason I tagged myself “writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl” was that I needed a tagline for my blog, something that helped me to stand out. “Writer” was obvious. I love old-timey words, and I had been finishing up a historical novel at the time, and so “cogitator” popped into my mind. I have friends who are “recovering alcoholics” (and “recovering Catholics”) and I thought that that fit me well—the idea that my childhood was something I needed to recover from. As Maile Meloy wrote in her story “Ranch Girl,” you can’t have much worse luck than being born a girl on a ranch. Why is it bad luck to be born a girl on a ranch? Western culture is a very male culture. A lot of women I know, myself included, saw that phenomenon growing up and the only way they could see to have self-worth is to be a man, hence the title of the collection. A lot of women in the West wear men’s clothing and drink beer and hunt and watch football and generally be as masculine as they can be. They shun everything feminine, and they have no women friends—heaven forbid. They think of themselves as this third thing, this third gender. Not a woman definitely, and they can’t be men, so they think of themselves as genderless almost. It’s very destructive to the psyche. Who did you read as a child? I loved all things British—Pooh and The Wind in the Willows and The Secret Garden. I also loved Joan Aiken and Frank L. Baum. I was glad to go from grade school to middle school because I’d exhausted the library. In middle school, I discovered the Newberry Award books. Later, I read a lot of westerns and loved them, particularly Louis L’Amour. He doesn’t stand the test of time well, though. I went through a scifi/specfic phase as a


teenager and still have a fondness for it. I haven’t read much romance or mystery, and I’m not quite sure why. Who are your favorite writers? My favorite writers. Well, it often feels like the writer of the last book I read because I fall in love almost every time. But I’ll take a run at it.  My all-time favorites are Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf.  For novels, Douglas Adams, Julian Barnes, Michael Cunningham, E. L. Doctorow, William Faulkner, Charles Frasier, James Galvin, Kent Haruf, John Irving, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Cormac McCarthy, Ann Patchett, Jodi Picoult, Terry Pratchett, Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling, Anita Shreve, and Alexander McCall Smith.  For short stories, Sherman Alexie, T. C. Boyle, Raymond Carver, Charles D’Ambrosio, Anthony Doerr, Aryn Kyle, Dennis Lehane, Maile Meloy, Alice Munro, Antonia Nelson, Tim O’Brien, Benjamin Percy, Donald Ray Pollock, Annie Proulx, Karen Russell, Jim Shepard, and Tobias Wolff.  For nonfiction, Steve Almond, Judy Blunt, Augusten Burroughs, John D’Agata, James Herriot, and Mary Roach. There are a number of writers that I really want to like and I have their books but I haven’t gotten around to reading them. See what I mean? And this isn’t all of them. What’s the earliest memory you have of writing a story? When did you first call yourself a writer? I’ve always written. The first story I wrote a beginning, middle, and end to was called “The Silver Locket” and was the story of a girl who goes back in time to become her own great grandmother. It was inspired by a friend named Cami who was into a British YA mystery writer named Joan Aiken. Together we read everything of hers. Cami wrote a story that ended with a head rolling in a gutter. Prior to that, I had read all the time, but I hadn’t realized that a person could actually BE a writer. When I called myself a writer is a totally different story. I think I was 30. I wrote all of my life, but no one I knew was a writer, and I thought of writers as someone who published a novel, and so when I began to imagine I might just be published is when I tentatively played around with the idea of calling myself one. Why do you write? That’s a complicated question. Because it’s my passion. Because as a child I felt I had no voice. Because I love to read, and writing is like reading only better. Because I have to to stay sane—just ask my husband. Because I’m fascinated by people, and writing and reading is the closest you can get to another person’s consciousness. But a deeper reason is that writing is all about desire. All people everywhere live in a constant state of desire. It is truly a human condition. Whether it’s something as small as a snack or something materialistic or something as large as a mate for life, people want. People need. One reason that we are such good consumers and why advertising works so well is because we by our very nature have this endless hole within us that needs to be filled. Every religion is built on this. So, this is my deeper answer to why I write: Because I’m human. Because I desire. It’s a way to take the world into myself and to make it part of me. It’s a way to place myself into the world. It’s a way to connect with the world and with other people and to imagine for one small moment that we are not alone and that we have the capacity to be full and content and meaningful. Where do you get your ideas? That’s the wrong question. It should be: How do you recognize an idea when you see one? Ideas are all around you. Everything and anything can spark a story. Say, someone told you to write about walls. Thomas King,


who’s Native American, was given 24 hours' notice to write about walls, and he came up with a humdinger. (Sorry—I don’t remember the name of it!) It’s about a man wanting his walls painted white but the history of walls bleeds through, and then finally, when he has them torn out and new walls put in, the stark white walls makes him look brown. Virginia Woolf wrote a story about a blob on her bedroom wall, which turns out to be a snail or a slug, I think, but it’s a great story. I’m sure there are more stories about walls. It’s about what you put into the idea, what lights you up and interests you, and it can be as specific as something that happened to you as a child or as general as wanting to write about the color green. I also find that when my head is in my writing—in other words, I’m not blocked and avoiding—ideas come so fast and thick I can’t keep up. Everything sparks an idea for a story. Then it’s a problem of way too many ideas and feeling guilty about lost opportunity. What is your writing process? What is your least favorite part? Your most favorite part? I avoid. I feel awful. I inevitably read things and feel inspired, but still I avoid. Then I make myself sit at the computer and start. It’s hard, really really hard. But then something magical happens. The real world goes away and the world I’m creating becomes more real than the real world. It’s like the real world is in black and white, and the world I’m creating is in technicolor. Sure, sometimes it still comes slowly and painfully, but sometimes it comes like lightening from my brain. And then I’m in love. When I finish a story, revised and all, I’m in love with it. I can’t see its flaws. I want to take it to dinner and then make out with it in the back seat. Then, like all affairs, after a while I start to see the story’s strengths and weaknesses. Then I either revise some more or I write a new story or both. My least favorite part is the avoiding stage, and my most favorite part is when the writing is going well and the world I’m writing is more real than the real world. Are the stories based on your life? Of course. I always find it fascinating that the first question a fiction writer gets is how close the writing is to her and his life, and the first question a nonfiction writer gets is pointing out all her and his mistakes—or lies. Human nature, I suppose. We need labels to know how to understand something. About the stories—of course the stories are based on my life. I can only write what I know or I imagine. However, they’re probably not based on my life in the way you might think. I’m going for the truth of the situation, of the feelings, what seems the most honest and clear and human, rather than the color of the sofa. And that’s the thing I’ve always loved about fiction—it can be more true than nonfiction. I remember as a teenager devouring novels because they expressed the complexities of life so much better and more fully than “factual” writing. That way, I found out I was not alone, that I was part of the human race. Is Birdie in “How to Be a Man” transgendered? No. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) See my answer to the question about the bad luck of being born a girl on a ranch. Western culture is very patriarchal, and sometimes the only way a girl can see to give herself worth is to try to be a man. She doesn’t feel inside that she was born in the wrong gender—she just longs to be someone who others value and therefore be able to value herself. Your stories can be pretty dark. Why don’t you write stories with happy endings? My mom asks me that all the time, as do a couple of my sisters. I fear I was born with a broken funny bone. I find things funny, but they’re usually English geek kinds-of-things—Monty Python, Terry Pratchett. The things that most people find funny, I usually find incredibly sad or incredibly angry. One of the reasons why, I think, is because the basis of a lot of humor is stereotyping, reducing someone to one dimension, and my goal in writing is to find the complexity of life, to express lived reality. That’s why I’m drawn to the genre of literary. (Not at all to insinuate that the other genres are anything less!) I don’t think of my endings as dark— what I often try for is closure without resolution, which is the way life is. There’s always a tension when I


write between the messiness and meaninglessness of life and the creation of a satisfying piece of art. How to Be a Man is self-published. Why did you choose that route? I have to admit that I crave the legitimization that comes from traditional publishing, and that’s why I resisted self-publishing for so long. It took me 11 years and almost 200 queries to get an agent. (Read more about my journey to get an agent here.) I’ve written and rewritten two novels that have gone out to publishers. Though I’ve gotten some very nice notes from editors, neither was picked up. Some might call me a slow study ~ I call myself pig-headed, and that’s a good thing. I don’t know if you’ve been reading much about this, but the squeeze that is being put on traditional publishing by disintermediation has brought about the rise of a new type of author: the hybrid author. (The great Chuck Wendig has been talking a lot about this.) There’s no longer just two tracks ~ traditional publishing and self-publishing. The tracks are becoming melded and diversified, and much more of the power is back in the hands of the author. Also much more of the responsibility for getting a book out and connecting with readers. That’s where the hybrid author comes in. She or he is someone who, with the help of her agent, chooses the best route for the work at hand and then has to make it so. This is wonderful and terrifying ~ for everyone involved. Also, traditional publishers now consider the success of a self-published title in their decision to take book on. In other words, they will take on a book that’s doing well under selfpublishing (and I suspect that this will become the norm, rather than the exception). I’m also made for it. It’s like all my various backgrounds come together in this one endeavor. Of course the writing part ~ I’ve been writing and improving my craft my whole life. But then also editing ~ I’ve been an editor in all different capacities. I’ve also been an artist and taken art classes for years, not to mention jobs as a document designer. I took classes in electrical engineering and computers for a number of years, and all that experience goes into making a website and working with digital publishing. And I’m in marketing and have done freelance marketing for years, which prepares me to be a promo-sapiens. And I love social media and tend to be a bit of an early adopter. Not to mention I’m a bit obsessive. What are you reading? Boy, you ask difficult questions. The thing is, I could honestly say that I’m reading hundreds of books at one time. That’s because I tend to “taste” books before I read them from beginning to end. I’ll buy a new book and then read it for a half hour or hour before bed. Then I’ll put the book aside and not pick it up again for years. Lately, I’ve been reading the books of my fellow Wyoming writers who are also great friends. Nina McConigley is out with a fabulous book of short stories called Cowboys and East Indians. Pembroke Sinclair is out with a YA horror novel called The Appeal of Evil. You should check them out. Do you have an MFA? No—my master’s is in literary studies and my thesis was on 1852-1854 pioneer diaries. I’ve taken a lot of workshops, however, in the classroom and online and at writers conferences. I highly recommend them. Be it an MFA or a local writers group, any time you can get others to look at your work and give you solid feedback is helpful. Solid feedback does not mean only “oh, you are so wonderful”—but you do need some of this for your ego or you won’t have the strength to go on. Neither does it mean brutal comments like “This isn’t working” with no further explanation or direction. It means detailed criticism of one reader’s reaction to what’s working and what’s not working—the more detailed and specific and articulate, the better. Still more important, volunteer to read your writer friends’ work. You’ll learn more from commenting on theirs than you will reading comments on your own. I am thinking about getting a low residency MFA, however, as I’m always trying to improve my writing. Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?


Read a lot. Write a lot. Write in the style of what you like to read. The best writing often comes from what obsesses you and makes you uncomfortable. Be brave. Persevere. Make a lot of writer friends. What’s next for you? I have a novel coming out in July called Deep Down Things. It’s set in contemporary Colorado and it’s about a young woman, Maggie, who falls in love with an idealistic young writer named Jackdaw. They get pregnant but he blames her, but because he’s idealistic he marries her. They have a child with a severe birth defect, and Maggie tries to save her son and her marriage. In January of next year, Earth’s Imagined Corners, a historical novel set in 1885 Iowa and Kansas City, will come out. It’s about Sara Moore, whose father tries to force her to marry his younger partner. Instead, she elopes to Kansas City with a kind man she just met who has a troubled past. Earth’s Imagined Corners is the first book in a trilogy. I’m also working on a young adult series called the Wyoming Chronicles. Stay tuned!

Excerpt (a complete story)

How to Be a Man Never acknowledge the fact that you’re a girl, and take pride when your guy friends say, “You’re one of the guys.” Tell yourself, “I am one of the guys,” even though, in the back of your mind, a little voice says, “But you’ve got girl parts.” You are born on a ranch in central Colorado or southern Wyoming or northern Montana and grow up surrounded by cowboys. Or maybe not a ranch, maybe a farm, and you have five older brothers. Your first memory is of sitting on the back of Big Cheese, an old sorrel gelding with a sway back and—you find out later when you regularly ride bareback—a backbone like a ridge line. Later, you won’t know if this first memory is real or comes from one of the only photos of you as a baby. You study that photo a lot. It must be spring or late fall because you’re wearing a quilted yellow jacket with a blue-lined hood and your brother’s hands reach from the side of the frame and support you in the saddle. You look half asleep with your head tilted to the side against your shoulder, a little sack of potatoes. Your dad is a kind man, a hard worker, who gives you respect when no one else will. When you’re four, if he asks, “Birdie, do you think the price of hogs is going up?” ponder this a while. Take into account how Rosie has just farrowed seven piglets and how you’re bottle-raising the runt and how you’ve heard your brothers complaining about pig shit on the boots they wear to town. Think about how much Jewel—that’s what you’ve decided to name the pig—means to you and say, “Yes, Daddy, pigs are worth a lot.” He’ll nod his head, but he won’t smile like other people when they think what you say was cute or precocious. Your mother is a mouse of a woman who takes long walks in the gray sagebrushed hills beyond the fields or lays in the cool back bedroom reading the Bible. When your brothers ask “Where’s Mom?” you won’t know. You don’t think it odd when at five you learn how to boil water in the big speckled enamelware pot and to shake in three boxes of macaroni, to watch as it turn from off-yellow plasticity to soft white noodles, to hold both handles with a towel and carefully pour it into the colander in the sink while avoiding the steam, to measure the butter and the milk—one of your brothers shows you how much—and then to mix in the powdered cheese. You learn to dig a dollop of bacon grease from the Kerr jar in the fridge into the hot cast iron skillet, wait for it to melt, and then lay in half-frozen steaks, the wonderful smell of the fat and the popping of


ice crystals filling the kitchen. When your brothers come in from doing their chores, they talk and laugh instead of opening the cupboards and slamming them shut. And your dad doesn’t clench his jaw while washing his hands with Dawn dishwashing liquid at the kitchen sink and then toss big hunks of Wonder Bread into bowls filled with milk. When you wear hand-me-downs from your brothers, be proud. Covet the red plaid shirt of your next older brother, and when you get it—a hot late summer afternoon when he tosses three shirts on your bed—wear it until the holes in the elbows decapitated the cuffs. If you go to town with your dad for parts, be proud of your shitty boots and muddy jeans and torn-up shirts. It shows that you know an honest day’s work. Work is more important than fancy things, and you are not one of those ninnies who wear girlie dresses and couldn’t change a tire if their lives depended on it. Be prepared: when you go to school, you won’t know quite where you fit. All the other kids will seem to know something that you don’t, something they whisper to each other behind their hands. They won’t ever whisper it to you. But they won’t make fun of you either because—you’ll get this right away and take pride in it— you are tough and also you have five older brothers and the Gunderson family sticks together. Be proud of the fact that, in seventh grade social studies, you sit elbows-on-the-table next to a boy about your size, and he says with a note of admiration, “Look at them guns. You got arms bigger than me.” It’s winter, and you’ve been throwing hay bales every morning to feed the livestock. Your friends will be boys. You understand boys. When you say something, they take it at face value. If they don’t understand, hit them, and they’ll understand that. For a couple of months—until your dad finds out about it—your second oldest brother will give you a dime every time you get into a fist fight. The look on your brother’s face as he hands you those dimes will make your insides puff to bursting. Use the dimes to buy lemons at the corner grocery during lunch time. Slice them up with your buck knife and hand them out to see which of the boys can bite into it without making a face. Leave the girls alone, and they will leave you alone. When you have to be together, like in gym class, they’ll ignore you, which will be fine with you. Always take the locker by the door so you can jet in and out as fast as you can. You’ll be mortified that they’ll see your body, how gross and deformed it is. Be proud of the muscles, but the buds of breast and the peaking pubic hair will be beyond embarrassing. Still, you’ll be fascinated with their bodies, not in a sexual way, but in that they seem to be so comfortable with them, even—to your disgust— proud. They’ll compare boobs in the mirror, holding their arms up against their ribs so that their breasts push forward. One girl, Bobbie Joe Blanchard, won’t stand at the mirror though because she’ll get breasts early, big round ones. She’ll quickly go from a slip of a girl who never says anything to the most popular because the boys pay attention, and the attention of the boys is worth much more than any giggling camaraderie of the girls. You’ll agree with this, but you’ll also be mystified as to the boys’ motivations. Ask your best friend Jimmy Mockler, “What’s up with that?” He’ll just shrug and smile, sheepishly but with pride too. In middle school, don’t be surprised if the guys who used to be your friends forget about you. They’ll still be nice, but they’ll spend their time playing rough games of basketball and daring each other to talk to this girl or that. You won’t be good at basketball—you’re tough, but you don’t have the height or the competitiveness. Plus, they don’t really want you to play—you can tell. Think about this a lot, how to regain their respect. Go so far as to ask the coach about trying out for football. He’ll look at you like you’re a two-headed calf and say, “Darlin’, girls don’t play football.” You’ll want to scream, “I’m not a girl!” but you won’t. Instead, never tell anyone, especially the boys, and hope to God that the coach never mentions it in gym class, which he teaches. He won’t. He’ll agree with you that it’s embarrassing. One day at lunch time, Jimmy Mockler will tell a story to the other guys about Bobbie Joe Blanchard and how he’s asked her to meet him under the bleachers in the gym during fifth period study hall. There is no gym during fifth period. He and Bobbie Joe are going to get passes to go to the bathroom and sneak in when no one’s


looking. “I bet she lets me kiss her!” he says and laughs and the other boys laugh. Then he says, “Maybe she’ll even give me a hand job.” He’ll glance at you and this look of horror will come over his face. They’ll all look at you. Right then you’ll know you’ve lost them. At home that night, cry in your room without making a sound in case your brothers walk by. Realize at this point that you have two choices: either you have to win back the boys or you have to throw in with the girls. But you don’t understand the girls at all. You wouldn’t know the first thing about it. How do you talk to girls, anyway? Don’t lose heart. Maybe there is a way to make it through to the boys. If pretty girls are what gets their attention, maybe you’ll have to learn to look like a girl, even if you aren’t really one. You can learn. Didn’t you teach yourself how to make peach pies from scratch? How to braid horsehair into hat bands? How to pick the lock on the second oldest brother’s bottom drawer, only to be disgusted with the magazines you found there? You can do this. Imagine the looks on the boys’ faces. The admiration filling their eyes. Respect, even. And the jealousy in the girls’ eyes. Jimmy will walk up to you and put his arm around you and say, “Where you been?” There’ll be no more awkward silences, no more conversations that switch when you walk up. It’ll be the same as before, once they notice you. All you have to do is get their attention. Raid your mom’s closet for a dress. Smuggle it into your room. It’s the one you’ve seen her wear to church—knee-length, sky blue with a white scalloped collar. You are her height now, and it’ll fit you. To your surprise, you’ll even fill it out in the bust. Surreptitiously steal a copy of a girls’ magazine from the library and study it—the way the girls’ hair is curled, the way their lips shine, how clean their hands are. Decide to try it the following Monday. Sunday night, take a long bath and try to soak off all the dirt and scrub the elephant hide off your feet. The leg bruises from working in the barn won’t come off, but sacrifice your toothbrush to scrub your fingernails. Tie up your wet hair in rags like you’ve seen your mother do on Saturday nights before Sunday church services. The next morning, get ready in your room so no one will see you. Climb into the dress. You will feel naked and drafty around the legs. This is normal. Brush out your hair. Instead of nice wavy curls, it will stuck out all over the place. Wet it down just a little, which will help, but it will still look like an alfalfa windrow. You don’t have any lip gloss, so use bag balm, the sticky yellow substance you put on cow teats when they chap. This won’t really be new because when your lips crack from sun or wind burn, that’s what you use. It will feel different though. Look at yourself in the mirror. You won’t recognize yourself. It will be a weird double consciousness— this person in the mirror is you, you’ll know it, but you’ll have to glance down anyway just to match the image in the mirror with the one attached to your body. Beware. It will creep you out. It looks like a girl in the mirror, but it can’t be because you aren’t one of them. Whatever happens, keep telling yourself: it’ll be worth it if it works. Don’t go downstairs until just before your brothers are ready to drive to school. When you come down, your brothers will stop talking. The brother just older than you will laugh, but then your dad will whistle and say, “My, don’t you look pretty today.” This will make you feel a little better and stop the boys’ wolf whistles, though they’ll keep glancing sideways at you in the car. If the brother just older than you whispers, “Look who’s a ger-rel,” the oldest one will tap him upside the head to shut him up. Make your oldest brother drop you off two blocks from school and hide behind a tree until you’re sure school has started. You won’t want anyone to see you ahead of time. In fact, you’ll be having second thoughts about the whole project. Be brave. You’ll think of Jimmy Mockler and the embarrassed way he looks at you, maybe even avoids you when you come down the hall, and that’ll help. Creep in a side door, scoot to your locker, get your books, and go to homeroom. If you feel like you might let loose in your pants as you peek into the classroom through the wire-latticed window, wait—this will pass. Mrs. Garcia will probably have eve-


ryone working in groups, and desks will be pushed together in four messy circles. The guys in the back will be in one group, including Jimmy. Rest your hand on the door knob for a long time, take a deep breath, and then push through the door. The noise of everyone talking at once will hit you as the door opens. That and the smell of the fish tank and Mrs. Garcia’s sickeningly sweet perfume. Stutter-breathe and make a beeline toward the boy’s circle. Talking will begin to peter out as you enter the room, and you’ll make it halfway along the wall toward the back before there’s dead silence. Everyone will be looking at you, but keep your eyes on the boys’ circle. The looks on the boys’ faces will be wonderful. All their eyes fastened on you, looking admiringly, small smiles in the corners of their mouths. They will be looking at you, noticing you. Jimmy, particularly, will have a wide-eyed slack-jawed grin on his face. Celebrate. You’ve done it. You’ve regained their attention. You are once more an honorary boy, respected and included. But then it’ll be like a slow-motion horror movie. From behind you, Mrs. Garcia will say, “Why, Birdie Gunderson, I almost didn’t recognize you.” Watch these words register on the boys’ faces. Some of them will give a little shrug and turn back toward the others, but it’s Jimmy’s reaction that will bruise you to the core. You’ll see the time delay of the words entering his ears and then his brain and then the look on his face fix as his brain processes the words and then his eyes widen as he finally understands. Then, it’ll be as if someone grabs the center of his face and twists. The look will be so awful your body will wander to a stop, and you’ll stand, unbelieving, still caught in the adrenalin of the moment before. You’re going to cry, so flip around and push back out through the door and run down the hall and out the big double doors by the principal’s office. Run until you can’t breathe and then walk, taking in big hiccupping breaths of air, all the way to the high school. Make your oldest brother take you home. Accept your fate. You’ll never regain that special place with the boys, and you become a second-hand friend. Every once in a while your brothers will say, “Remember the time Birdie tried to be a girl?” and they’ll laugh. Laugh with them. You know how ridiculous it was. High school will be a long lonely blur, but take it like a man. Never go on a date, never kiss a boy. Instead, watch football and memorize the stats and, if anyone tries to strike up a conversation, bring up the Dallas Cowboys. Take your one stab at getting outside your life—after high school, go to community college for a semester, but when your mom dies of some unnamable female ailment, your dad will need you on the farm. You’ll tell yourself that you can always go back and get that degree, but you won’t. Fill your days with the routine of agriculture. The animals won’t care if you’re a boy or a girl—they just need to be fed and watered. Same with your dad and brothers. Don’t think about being a man. Or being a woman. You are an efficient cog in the machinery of the farm. “Sis, you’re the best,” they’ll all say. “Birdie is as faithful as a hound dog.” You are, you know? You’re a good cook, you know a lot about football, and you work hard. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have any friends, men or women. It doesn’t matter that you don’t get out much and you’ll never be kissed, much less married. When you have needs, take care of them yourself. Don’t think about becoming a skinny whiskery-chinned old batty with too many dogs. You’re happy. Or at least you’re not sad. You’re comfortable. You have a full life taking care of your dad and your brothers. You do. You really do. Or, maybe this isn’t the way it goes. Maybe, when you’re in your early thirties, your fourth oldest brother will bring home an old college buddy for two weeks one summer. Conrad Patel. You’ll resent the hell out of it, this change in routine. This guy will


make you uncomfortable. At first you’ll think he’s gay because he’s thin and has a loose-limbed way of walking. This will make you wonder about your brother. Then you’ll understand by the way they talk about women that they’re just comfortable with each other. They understand each other. It’ll remind you of how it used to be with you and Jimmy Mockler—you’ll be sad at first and then angry. Go out of your way to avoid this Conrad Patel. You might even do little things to make yourself feel better, like flushing the downstairs toilet when he’s in the upstairs shower. Every time you get the chance. A lot of your energy during the summer goes into growing the garden, and after your dad and the boys leave for the fields, spend your mornings watering and weeding. In the evening after the supper dishes are done, walk through the garden and inspect things—pollinate the tomatoes, check for potato bugs, and shut the hothouse boxes. You will love this time of cool breeze and setting sun. But it will annoy the hell out of you when Conrad Patel breaks away from the card game or the sitcom TV to follow you out the back door and down the porch steps. He won’t seem to understand the very strong hints you drop. Start sneaking out the front door, but don’t be surprised if you find him already there in the garden. “But you don’t grow coriander?” Conrad Patel will say. “You don’t grow fennel? Not even tarragon?” He will say this with wonder, as if these things are essential to life. Say, “If you don’t like what I cook, don’t eat it,” and turn your back. If he says, “Oh no—your cooking is a marvel. So very different from my mother’s,” you won’t be sure how to take this, just like you’re never quite sure how to take anything he says. Say, “You’re comparing me to your mother?” It will irritate you. Really irritate you. You’ll wish you were ten again so you could sock him. “Yes, of course,” he’ll say, once again as if this were a given. Realize that he doesn’t understand you any more than you understand him. You won’t know what to say so don’t say anything and hope that’s the end of it. But it won’t be. He’ll say, “You would drive across this country to eat her mashed potatoes. The key is browning the mustard seeds, with just enough chilies to make your lips burn. This makes me want to drop everything and go for a visit.” His voice will be both intense and wistful. As you finish up in the garden, he’ll talk about cooking but then about his family. He’ll tell you about his mother and his aunts and grandmother. Also about his brothers and his dad, who has passed away. It’s not what he says so much as how he says it. Women to him are a mystery, much like they are to you, but not in a contemptuous way. He talks about them with such respect and such admiration, like they are men and men are women. To him, women are the source of all goodness and men are the source of all evil. Women are the ones who get things done, the practical ones, and men spend their time being frivolous with money. It will all be so foreign to you that when he stops talking it’ll be as if you walked out of a movie theater. Remind yourself of where you are. And who you are. Your body and your approach to the world will have traveled to another place where what you were supposed to be doesn’t seem so far from what you are. You’ll want to reject it whole cloth, but there’s a part of you that will want to break into tears. Shut the last hothouse lid and turn to leave. Conrad Patel will say, “I have said something wrong.” He will step in front of you. “What I meant was that your potatoes are the same. Not the same—they don’t contain mustard seeds. But the same in that they are wonderful. And your beef stew is wonderful. You are a wonderful woman.” Are you? Do those words go together?


It’s dark enough that you won’t be able to see his face, but if he steps closer to you, don’t step away. He’ll stand in front of you and you’ll feel the heat of his body through the cool of the evening. You’ll like this feeling. You might wonder what’s coming, if he’s leaning toward you ever so slightly—it will be hard to tell in the fading light. Don’t let this frighten you. Don’t run away. Face your fears. Be a man.

How to Be a Man Tamara Linse Genre: Literary Short Story Collection Publisher: Willow Words Print ISBN: 0991386701 ISBN-13: 978-0-9913867-0-3 Epub ISBN: 099138671X ISBN-13: 978-0-9913867-1-0 ASIN: B00HKSLFSQ Number of pages: 238 Word Count: 59,650

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Book Description: “Never acknowledge the fact that you’re a girl, and take pride when your guy friends say, ‘You’re one of the guys.’ Tell yourself, ‘I am one of the guys,’ even though, in the back of your mind, a little voice says, ‘But you’ve got girl parts.’” – Birdie, in “How to Be a Man” A girl whose self-worth revolves around masculinity, a bartender who loses her sense of safety, a woman who compares men to plants, and a boy who shoots his cranked-out father. These are a few of the hard-scrabble characters in Tamara Linse’s debut short story collection, How to Be a Man. Set in contemporary Wyoming—the myth of the West taking its toll—these stories reveal the lives of tough-minded girls and boys, self-reliant women and men, struggling to break out of their lonely lives and the emotional havoc of their families to make a connection, to build a life despite the odds. How to Be a Man falls within the tradition of Maile Meloy, Tom


McGuane, and Annie Proulx. The author Tamara Linse—writer, cogitator, recovering ranch girl—broke her collarbone when she was three, her leg when she was four, a horse when she was twelve, and her heart ever since. Raised on a ranch in northern Wyoming, she earned her master’s in English from the University of Wyoming, where she taught writing. Her work appears in the Georgetown Review, South Dakota Review, and Talking River, among others, and she was a finalist for an Arts & Letters and Glimmer Train contests, as well as the Black Lawrence Press Hudson Prize for a book of short stories. She works as an editor for a foundation and a freelancer. Find her online at tamaralinse.com and tamara-linse.blogspot.com About the Author: Tamara Linse grew up on a ranch in northern Wyoming with her farmer/rancher rock-hound ex-GI father, her artistic musician mother from small-town middle America, and her four sisters and two brothers. She jokes that she was raised in the 1880s because they did things old-style—she learned how to bake bread, break horses, irrigate, change tires, and be alone, skills she’s been thankful for ever since. The ranch was a partnership between her father and her uncle, and in the 80s and 90s the two families had a Hatfields and McCoys-style feud. She worked her way through the University of Wyoming as a bartender, waitress, and editor. At UW, she was officially in almost every college on campus until she settled on English and after 15 years earned her bachelor’s and master’s in English. While there, she taught writing, including a course called Literature and the Land, where students read Wordsworth and Donner Party diaries during the week and hiked in the mountains on weekends. She also worked as a technical editor for an environmental consulting firm. She still lives in Laramie, Wyoming, with her husband Steve and their twin son and daughter. She writes fiction around her job as an editor for a foundation. She is also a photographer, and when she can she posts a photo a day for a Project 365. Please stop by Tamara’s website, www.tamaralinse.com, and her blog, Writer, Cogitator, Recovering Ranch Girl, at tamaralinse.blogspot.com. You can find an extended bio there with lots of juicy details. Also friend her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter, and if you see her in person, please say hi. www.tamaralinse.com http://tamara-linse.blogspot.com www.facebook.com/tlinse www.twitter.com/TamaraLinse www.pinterest.com/tlinse https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1481856-tamara-linse


Why Paranormal Romance, Rather than Contemporary? Ann Gimpel I can only answer that question for myself. Since my writing roots are in science fiction and fantasy, the jump into romance just had to include some paranormal elements. I’ve never been a huge vampire fan—mostly because no one did them quite as well as Ann Rice—and zombies creep me out. Even absent those two, there are still a host of paranormal characters left. I sort of settled into a niche with shifters of various persuasions, Celtic gods, and Norse gods. Selkies even made a cameo appearance in a book that’s been contracted but isn’t yet available. In romance, the beauty of shifter males is they can be very “alpha-ish” because I borrow from their animal energy to make them courageous, strong, quick, protective, and intensely loyal. Nothing quite like a hero who would lay down his life protecting the heroine. That being said, I like kickass women in my books, too. No shrinking violets for me. Maybe because I grew up in an era when women mostly stayed home and raised kids, I like my female characters to be gutsy, to take the guy’s gambits, and give him one better. So lots of my female leads are shifters, too. The ones who aren’t are witches, or dragon bond mates, or linked to wolves. The other day, one of my author pals posted in Facebook that she was temporarily shelving her paranormal series and going back to writing contemporary romance. It didn’t even take twenty-four hours before her next post, which basically said, “Well, hey, that didn’t work. I’m back to writing paranormal.” When I asked her about it privately, she said the plot lines are just so much richer in paranormal books. I absolutely agree with her. When characters have supernatural abilities, it throws possible plot directions wide open. On my whimsical days, I see myself writing romantic fairy tales for grownups. And I suppose on some level, that’s what I do. There’s been a trend in some modern stories, including paranormal ones, to have nasty, mean heroes and sad, weepy, abused heroines. Unfortunately, they’re just as damaged at the end of the book as they were during the opening scenes. While this is probably pretty accurate, since most of us don’t get personality transplants, nonetheless, I read for pleasure. Reading about depressing, loser characters, who treat one another horribly, doesn’t meet my pleasure-reading criteria, particularly if there’s no story arc and not much character growth after 100K words. If I want to read something that tugs my heartstrings, I’ll read true life adventure mountain climbing tales. People die in those books. They simply drop into an abyss, leaving their climbing partners with a great deal of guilt, and the need to memorialize what happened in a book. But you know what? For the most part, climbers treat one another with a great deal of dignity and respect. So, while it’s hard to read about death in the high places of the world, it’s not nearly as hard for me as reading fiction where the characters have zip in the way of


redeeming qualities. Boy, I really got off on a tangent there. Let me close the loop. For my paranormal characters, I suppose I could focus on their destructiveness, but I always infuse compassion into them, and the ability to give and receive love. After all, that’s what romance writing is all about. There’s an HEA, but I want my readers to care about what happens to the characters in my books, so that HEA means something. How about the rest of you? What are your tastes and preferences for pleasure reading? I’d love to know. Witch’s Bounty The Witch Chronicles, Book 1 Ann Gimpel Publisher: Taliesin ISBN: Release Date: 3/6/14 Genre: Dark Paranormal Romance Word count: 63,000 words A demon-stalking witch teams up with a Sidhe, but their combined power, never mind their love, may be too late to make a difference. Book Description: One of only three remaining demon-stalking witches, Colleen is almost the last of her kind. Along with her familiar, a changeling spirit, she was hoping for a few months of quiet, running a small magicians’ supply store in Fairbanks, Alaska. Peace isn’t in the cards, though. Demons are raising hell in Seattle. She’s on her way out the door to help, when a Sidhe shows up and demands she accompany him to northern England to quell a demon uprising there. Duncan swallowed uneasy feelings when the Sidhe foisted demon containment off onto the witches two hundred years before. He’s annoyed when the Sidhe leader sends him to haul a witch across the Atlantic to bail them out. Until he sees the witch in question. Colleen is unquestionably the most beautiful woman he’s ever laid eyes on. Strong and gutsy, too. When she refuses to come with him, because she’s needed in Seattle, he immediately offers his assistance. Anything to remain in her presence. Colleen can’t believe how gorgeous the Sidhe is, but she doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She, Jenna, and Roz are the only hedge Earth has against being overrun by Hell’s minions. Even with help from a powerful magic wielder like Duncan, the odds aren’t good and the demons know it. Sensing victory is within their grasp, they close in for the kill. Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/9Dyrl06IANo


Excerpt: …The bells around the shop door clanged a discordant riot of notes. “Crap!” Jenna shot to her feet. “I should have locked the damned door.” “Back to cat form.” Colleen flicked her fingers at Bubba, who shrank obligingly and slithered out of clothing, which puddled around him. She snatched up his shirt and pants and dropped them back into the canister. “I say,” a strongly accented male voice called out. “Is anyone here?” “I’ll take care of the Brit,” Colleen mouthed. “Take Bubba to the basement and practice.” She got to her feet and stepped past the curtain. “Yes?” She gazed around the dimly lit store for their customer. A tall, powerfully built man, wearing dark slacks and a dark turtleneck, strode toward her, a woolen greatcoat slung over one arm. His white-blond hair was drawn back into a queue. Arresting facial bones— sculpted cheeks, strong jaw, high forehead—captured her attention and stole her breath. He was quite possibly the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on. Discerning green eyes zeroed in on her face, caught her gaze, and held it. Magic danced around him in a numinous shroud. Strong magic. What was he? And then she knew. Daoine Sidhe. The man had to be Sidhe royalty. No wonder he was so stunning it almost hurt to look at him. Colleen held her ground. She placed her feet shoulder width apart and crossed her arms over her chest. “What can I help you with?” “Colleen Kelly?” Okay, so he knows who I am. Doesn’t mean a thing. He’s Sidhe. Could have plucked my name right out of my head. “That would be me. How can I help you?” she repeated, burying a desire to lick nervously at her lips. “Time is short. I’ve been hunting you for a while now. Come closer, witch. We need to talk.” *** Duncan Regis eyed the grim-faced woman standing in front of him. She was quite striking with such stunning bone structure—high cheekbones, square jaw—she could have been a runway model. Her unwavering pale blue eyes held his gaze. Dressed in brown wool slacks, a multicolored sweater, and scuffed leather boots, she had auburn curls that cascaded to waist level. A scattering of freckles coated her upturned nose. Her lips would have been full if they weren’t pursed into a hard line. He knew he was staring, but couldn’t help himself. Colleen was tall for a woman, close to six feet, with well-defined shoulders, generous breasts, and a slender waist that flared to trim hips. He smelled her apprehension and was pleased she was able to cloak it so well with the defiant angle of her chin and the challenge in her icy stare. Despite his earlier command, she didn’t move. Annoyance coiled in his gut. He could summon magic and force her, but he wanted—no, make that needed—her cooperation. Compulsion spells had a way of engendering lingering resentments. He smiled, but it felt fake so he gave it up. “I like women with spirit, but I’m used to being obeyed.” She frowned and tilted her chin another notch. “I’ll just bet you are. I’m not coming one angstrom closer until you tell me why a Sidhe is hunting for me.” Surprise registered. He tried to mask it, just like he’d attempted to disguise himself in a human glamour. Duncan tamped down a wry grin, wondering if his second ploy had worked any better than his first. “Not really.” She tapped one booted toe. “I read minds. You’ll have to do a better job warding yours, if you want to keep me out.” Colleen exhaled briskly. “Look. Maybe it would be easier if you just told me why you’re here. I’m sort of busy just now and I don’t have a bunch of time to spar with you.” “You don’t have any choice.” “Oh yes I do.” Anger wafted from her in thick clouds. Along with it a spicy, rose scent, tinged with jasmine, tickled his nostrils and did disconcerting things to his nether regions. He resisted an urge to rearrange his suddenly erect cock. Colleen unfolded her arms, extended one, and pointed toward the door. “Out. Now.”


“You’re making a terrible mistake—” “Maybe so, but this is my turf. If you force me with your magic, you’ll have broken the rules that bind your kind—and the covenant amongst magic-wielders.” Duncan’s temper kindled, but it didn’t dampen the lust seeping along his nerve endings. Rules be damned. He could flatten this persnickety witch, or better yet, weave a love spell and bind her to him that way. Maybe he should do just that and have done with things. He clasped his hands behind him to quash the temptation to call magic. The movement stretched his trousers across his erection, making it obvious if she chose to look down. Something dark streaked from the back of the shop and planted itself in front of him, hissing and spitting. Gaia’s tits. A cat. He stared at it. Hmph. Maybe not a cat after all. Duncan reached outward with a tendril of magic. Before it reached the creature, Colleen bent and scooped it into her arms. The not-a-cat wriggled and hissed, but she held fast. “Leave him alone,” she said through clenched teeth. “He’s mine.” Duncan narrowed his eyes. “Damn if it isn’t a changeling. How’d he end up with you?” Her foot tapped the scarred wooden floor again, its beat so regular it could have been a metronome. “I asked you a whole lot of questions.” She took a step backward. “But the only one I want to know the answer to is—” “What the fuck are you doing?” Jenna wavered into view, having teleported in from somewhere. Her gaze landed on the cat. “Thank Christ! For a minute there I thought the little bastard got away from me.” “Jenna,” Colleen snapped. “The Sidhe have deigned to call.” The other woman whipped around and stared at Duncan. He stared back. What was it with these witches? Had they taken some sort of potion to supersize themselves? She made Colleen look positively petite. Jenna sidled closer to Colleen; part of her height came from high heels, but she was still an imposing woman. “What does he want?” she growled. Duncan cleared his throat. “I’m right here. You can ask me.” “Fine.” Jenna put her hands on her hips. “What are you doing here?” “How do you know I want anything?” he countered, trying to buy time to figure out what to do now. He hadn’t counted on two witches, and a changeling. “Because if you didn’t, Colleen would have shooed you out of here by now. You really do need to leave. We’re busy.” He snorted. “Yes. Colleen made that abundantly clear.” He looked from one witch to the other. At least his erection was fading a bit. Crowds always had a dampening effect on his libido. Many other Sidhe thrived on group sex, but he’d never appreciated its appeal. “Either tell us what you want right now,” Colleen moved toward him, cat still in her arms, “or leave. I’m going to count to three—” “Maeve’s teeth, witch! We’re on the same side.” “Generally speaking,” Jenna joined Colleen about three feet away from him, “that’s probably true, but the Sidhe have never helped us.” Colleen quirked a brow. “No, they haven’t.” Her eyes narrowed. “And I have this prescient feeling that Sidhe-boy here is about to ask for a pretty big favor.” “Sidhe-boy?” The dregs of his lust scattered; he crimped his hands into fists. “Show some respect.” “You’re not respecting me,” Colleen said. “I’ve asked you to leave—twice. No, make that three times.” The not-a-cat finally twisted free. He skimmed over the distance to Duncan and buried his claws in his leg. “Why you changeling bastard!” Duncan shook his leg. The thing didn’t even budge. He bent, curled his hands around the furred body, and tugged. The thing bit him. Anger flashed. Magic followed. The changeling howled and fell into a heap on the floor. “Goddammit!” Colleen shrieked. “He was just trying to protect me. If you’ve killed him…” “I didn’t. He’s only stunned.” Duncan rubbed his ankle, glanced at the puncture wounds on his hand, and directed healing magic to both places. Colleen sprang forward and gathered the creature into her arms. Duncan felt her magic quest into its


small body. She blew out an audible breath. Cradled against her, shrouded by her long hair, the changeling mewled softly. Duncan shook his head. He’d hoped to be subtle, accommodating, encouraging, so the witch would at least hear him out with an open mind. The time for that was long past. “All right.” He spread his hands in front of him. The flesh wounds on the one were already nearly closed. “I’m here because we’ve had problems with Irichna demons—” “Christ on a fucking crutch,” Jenna cut in. “Seems like they’re on everyone’s mind these days. We were just—” Colleen rounded on her. “Shut up!” “Oops. Sorry.” Jenna held out her arms for the changeling. “I’ll just take him and—” “No.” Colleen’s voice was more like a growl. “You’ll stay right here.” She placed the changeling in the other witch’s arms and turned to face Duncan. “I know you’re Sidhe, but who are you?” “Duncan Regis.” He held out a hand. She ignored it, so he let it drop to his side. “Regis, Regis,” she mumbled, her eyes narrowed in thought. “Ruling class from somewhere in Scotland.” He nodded, impressed. “Northern England, at the moment, but the border has moved around a bit over the years. I do lay claim to Scottish roots. I didn’t know witches studied our family lines.” “Witches don’t, but I did.” “Any particular reason?” He was almost sorry he’d asked. She had strong feelings about the Sidhe, and he was about to find out why. The changeling yowled, obviously recovered from his semi-comatose state. Jenna cursed and set him down. “Damn it! He scratched me.” Duncan thought about saying something cheery, like welcome to the club, but bit back the words. Colleen rolled her eyes. “He wants to talk. There’ll be no peace until he shifts.” She flicked magic toward the creature winding itself between her booted feet. The air shimmered and a rather large gnome took form. He rocked toward Duncan with a bow-legged gait that made him look like a drunken sailor; his open mouth displayed squared off teeth. “I’ll tell you why she knows about you.” The changeling drew himself to his full height of about three-and-a-half feet. “She came to the Old Country looking for help during the last demon war. You Sidhe were too high and mighty to get your hands dirty, so she had to settle for me.” Colleen snickered. “Not exactly the way I might have described it, but close enough. Hey, Bubba! Get some clothes on.” “Later,” the changeling snapped without looking at her. “Which of us did you approach?” Duncan made the question casual. Whoever turned Colleen down had broken the covenant binding magic-wielders to come to one another’s aid in times of need. He wondered if she knew. “Of course I do.” She sneered. “Your thoughts are as transparent as a child’s. Even Bubba here,” she pointed to the changeling, “does a better job masking his feelings when he puts his mind to it.” “Thanks.” The changeling glowered at her before transferring his attention back to Duncan. “What kind of name is Bubba?” Duncan linked to the changeling, and was surprised by the complexity of his thoughts. Maybe the witches had been a good influence. “You didn’t have to just push your way in.” The changeling screwed up his seamed face in disgust, but didn’t draw back. “My true name is Niall Eoghan.” “Clothes,” Colleen reminded him. Bubba made a face at her, turned, and walked behind one of the display cases. When he emerged, he wore wide-bottomed green trousers and a black shirt. “Irish.” Puzzle pieces clicked into place and Duncan transferred his attention back to Colleen. “You never did tell me who you’d asked for help. It appears they not only turned you down, but chased you across the Irish Sea.” “We left voluntarily,” Jenna said. Colleen’s lips twisted in distaste. Whatever she remembered apparently didn’t sit well. “We spoke with two Sidhe at Inverlochy Castle outside Inverness. They refused to give us their names, but said they were


princes over your people. They heard us out and sent us packing. Gave us twenty-four hours to leave Scottish soil.” “I was all for staying,” Jenna chimed in. “After all, we had passports.” “Was it just the two of you?” Duncan asked. “Roz was with us,” Colleen said. Understanding washed through him. “Three. You brought three to maximize your power.” Colleen’s full mouth split into a chilly smile. “We were under attack by the Irichna. Would you have done any less?” “Probably not. So after we, that is, the Sidhe—” “We worked fine,” Bubba said flatly. “Unless you’ve decided to renounce your heritage.” Duncan traded pointed looks with the changeling. “Speaking of magic, you’re stronger than any changeling I’ve ever come across.” “That’s because you’re used to our feeble Scottish cousins. They were stronger before you stripped their magic and diverted it for your own purposes.” “Enough.” Colleen snapped her fingers. “Or I’ll change you back into a cat. We don’t need a history lesson just now.” She shook her hair back over her shoulders. The movement strained her sweater tighter across her breasts. Duncan dragged his gaze elsewhere. “About the Irichna—” he began. “We can’t help you,” Colleen said flatly. “Why not? We’d pay you well.” “It’s not a matter of money, although I’m not sure you could afford us.” “We have an, um, previous engagement,” Jenna offered. “Whoever it is, we need you more than they do.” He looked from one witch to the other. Colleen dropped her gaze and rubbed the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index fingers. When she looked up, the skin around her eyes was pinched with worry. “I’m not sure it’s a matter of who needs whom more.” She speared him with her pale blue gaze. “Do the Sidhe know why the demons are so much more active here of late?” He debated how much to tell her. Given her ability to burrow inside his head, it was unlikely he’d be able to hide much. If he told her everything, though, it might piss her off. Hell’s bells, it annoyed the crap out of him. “Not exactly.” Her nostrils flared. “You can do better than that. If you can’t, the door is behind you.” She folded her arms beneath her breasts. “Talk now or leave now. It’s all the same to me.” About the Author: Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.


Sexual Tension for Any Genre (Rated PG): Hi folks! Amy Jarecki here. Ahem. This article about adding sexual tension in fiction. Any manuscript which shows an attraction by one character to another must have sexual tension. Even Harry Potter has it. So what is sexual tension… An attraction between two people, a heightened awareness of that attraction, and the resulting conflict caused by opposing goals and opposing emotional paths. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry is attracted to Choe, but she’s dating Cedric Diggory and Harry is consumed with the conflict of fighting Voldermort. Sounds like they’ll never get together… So…The big question? How to create sexual tension/conflict? Start with character and internal conflict. First, readers want an emotional read. In a romance, the characters must have opposing goals and opposing emotional life paths. In my contemporary romance, Chihuahua Momma, Matt is trying to get away from a broken relationship and Rebecca wants to hide in her dog world and forget about men. Sounds like they couldn’t possibly have anything in common, or possibly be attracted. Definitely a great place to start a romantic story! I use the psychology book, Are You My Type, Am I yours, Relationships made easy Through the Enneagram by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele, to define my character’s personalities. It lists the nine enneagram personality types and how they interact with each other, showing what each type likes and dislikes about the other. It is an excellent tool for establishing conflict as well as delving into your character’s psyche before you write the first word. Character Actions and Reactions. What keeps characters from instantly proclaiming their adoration for each other? FEAR! Fear is a powerful emotion, and should be used! But then the characters start feeling things and doing things that they might not even recognize as attraction at first.


Let’s start with Linda Howard’s 12 Steps to intimacy: Eye to body contact. Begin the journey by looking each other over. Eye to eye contact. We catch each other’s attention. Voice to voice contact. We talk, flirt, joke, become friends or enemies. Hand to hand contact. Often the first twinge of fear come at this step and this is a major turning point in a relationship. Arm to shoulder contact. When a man puts his arm around a woman’s shoulder they have to be close. She can no longer run if she feels threatened. Arm to waist contact. Mouth to Mouth contact. This can be very passionate, or fleeting. Hand to Head. This is the last big move before heading into real intimacy. Head touching can cause great tension between two people. If a woman allows a man to touch her head, it’s a sign she could be open to more intimacy. And this is where many stories stop showing… Hand to body. Mouth to breast Hand to genital Genital to genital (These last four are the most intimate and the genre will determine if they are shown or not shown). We can make things tenser between the hero and heroine by skipping steps. Sexual tension is about thinking about sex but not doing it. The longer you put it off, the more you add to the tension. Use internal dialogue and Deep Point of View to show your character’s conflict. Use Senses and Dialogue. Applying sensuality can elevate every scene from good to memorable: The Five senses—use these instead of dialogue tags. Intersperse your dialogue with the character’s internal emotions about what he/she is saying: Sight Hearing/Sound Smell Touch Taste Example: My current WIP, I show the hero’s thoughts and actions are in conflict with his dialogue: “Is everything to your liking, Colin? From the scowl on your face I’d wager something didn’t sit well with you,” Robert said. Och, something didn’t sit well with him. That fat-kidneyed codpiece spinning Margaret on the dance floor like he was a strutting pheasant. “Nay. I just need another tot of ale is all.” Colin tipped back his flagon and skulled it. Body Language: Men’s body language: Preening behavior: Chest out, shoulders back, strut.


Drives fingers through hair. Hooks thumbs in belt. Points foot and woman. Intimate gaze—held longer than normal Dilated pupils Stands with hands on hips. Sits with legs spread or crossed. Women during courtship: Pupils dilate, cheeks blush. Shake their heads, flipping hair. Expose inner side of wrists with palms out. Hips roll when walking Hold gaze just long enough for him to notice. Lips part and appear moist. Fondle object, like the stem of a wine glass. One leg tucked under, knee pointing at male. Cross and uncross legs Voice lowers Rub palms on thighs Both sexes use eye contact: Intamate-between eyes and chest A sideways glance with raised eyebrows Putting it together…When drafting a story, I layer my conflict. At first I might write my dialogue, and then I go back and add the setting, and then the conflict and the emotions. Remember fear is powerful and keeps us from getting what we want. Here’s the “meet” scene from my new novel, VIRTUE ©: Stacking the plastic pool glasses, he sensed movement across the deck. He glanced up and stopped short. Long blond hair fluttered with the breeze, legs that wouldn’t stop, and a body so well proportioned, he’d only seen the likes in swimsuit editions of Sports Illustrated. She looked his way and his breath caught. He quickly glanced down, busying himself with the glasses. Gabriel’s heart thundered in his ears as she approached. “Hi,” she said, her American accent friendly, not bitchy like other incredibly beautiful tourists he’d encountered. “You think I could get a Diet Coke?” Gabriel looked up. She smiled, white teeth, eyes that reflected the sea, flawless skin. “Ah. Sure.” He reached for a glass, one of the fancy plastic tumblers. He scooped in some ice and grabbed a toothpick umbrella, garnishing it with a lime and a red maraschino cherry. Holding up her special drink, he grinned. “Why diet?” She lowered her extraordinarily long lashes. “I’m a dancer—always watching my figure, you know.” Gabriel hoped she didn’t notice the heat that inflamed under his skin. “You’re a dancer on the ship?” She took a sip. “Uh huh. Arrived last night.” When she leaned in, he caught a delicious fragrance like rain falling on orange blossoms. “I’m pretending I’m lost and taking a little self-guided tour on my


way to the theater. I thought I’d have a look around before spending who knows how many hours tied to the stage.” “Off to rehearse, huh?” “Yep. Had to learn two shows in a week.” She pointed to her white flip-flops. “I’m wearing these to air out the blisters on my toes.” He glanced down, but only made it as far as her well-muscled, slender thighs. Perfection. “Sounds painful.” “It’ll be all right.” She leaned closer with the most adorable smile he’d ever seen in his life. “Know what?” Gabriel hoped drool wasn’t draining out the corner of his mouth. “What?” “The lead dancer is leaving the show after this tour, and I’ve been picked for the fan dance.” God in heaven, why did that not surprise him? He’d choose her for any spotlight dance. He’d pick her just to stand center stage for hours on end. You want to drape those pegs across my bar so I can stare at them all day? Holy mother, she could do anything she wanted. She flashed a questioning grin. “Did I say something wrong?” “N-no. Not at all. I was just thinking how great it was that you got picked for a lead. That’s totally awesome.” “Thanks.” She pulled back and giggled—cute. He let his gaze slide to the top of her head and stood straight. She was only about three or four inches shorter than him. “I’m Gabriel AhKin from Belize.” Her eyes slipped down to his badge. “I’m Zoe Marshall from the United States. Do you know Utah?” “I’ve heard of it.” “Well, I’m from a small town in the mountains. Thanks for the Coke, Gabriel AhKin. You’re a life saver.” He stood motionless as she walked away, the backside every bit as beautiful as the front. When she disappeared through the automatic glass doors, he ran his fingers through his hair. Focus. You’re here to work. Girls like her are way out of your league. Well, my time’s up. You can find me around the internet: Web Site: www.amyjarecki.com Blog: http://amyjarecki.blogspot.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amyjarecki Twitter: @amyjarecki


UNFORGETTABLE HEROES Eight Contemporary Romance Novels Several of Turquoise Morning Press’ award-winning and bestselling authors share their favorite contemporary romance heroes – all boxed up for you in one sexy and irresistible package! From a sexy carpenter to magnetic CEO, a rough-and-ready cowboy to a “homeless man,” a classic car buff, a starving artist, a Latin-style dancer, and an FBI agent – each unique hero has his own story to tell, and a heroine who just can’t forget him. Ever. With an introductory promotional price of only 99¢, how can you resist this unforgettable boxed set, either? Release date: January 30, 2014 Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press ISBN: 978-1-62237-258-4


Promotional Price: $0.99 Retail Price: $4.99 (April, 2014) WILL WORK FOR LOVE by Amie Denman, EPIC Award and Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence finalist. Hurricane Destiny leaves a trail of destruction across the island of St. Thomas, jeopardizing the wedding of Whitney Oliver’s best friend. When Whitney arrives on the island, she finds a disaster only a sexy carpenter like Chris Maxwell can repair. Despite the sizzle between them, Chris has secrets that threaten his construction business and force him to work for Whitney’s love. THIS MAGIC MOMENT by Bobbye Terry, award winning author of contemporary, historical and fantasy romance. Zack Graham, CEO of Scrumbles Snack Cakes, is energetic, magnetic and forget it—no women for him, except to relieve an occasional sexual itch. He’s a workaholic who refuses to let a woman make a fool out of him again. But what about Crandall Drake, the CEO of Pretzelicious Pretzels? He tells himself all he wants is sex. His heart tells him it wants more. HER HIRED MAN by Cat Shaffer, Golden Heart finalist and award-winning journalist. Hot nights, a double sleeping bag and a stranger for a husband…how much can one city girl take? Lillian Osborne needs a husband for a weekend. Wesley Hatfield needs money to customize his beloved classic car before Detroit’s biggest auto show. The perfect agreement turns out to be anything but when their accommodations turn out not to be what Lillian had expected. SINS OF THE FATHER by Janet Eaves, Amazon bestselling author of the Ladies of Legend contemporary romance series. Just like the Princess in the classic tale Sleeping Beauty, Aurora’s life doesn’t really begin until her heart is awakened by a handsome struggling artist. But with her life in danger, Aurora must hide who she really is. Unbeknownst to her, her struggling artist isn’t who he appears to be either.... Friend, lover, or foe? HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO


by Jennifer Johnson who writes comedic romances so entertaining even guys read them. Author of the TMP top-selling Rescuing Riley. Abigail Benton is a bum magnet, according to her dad, so when she becomes attracted to Eli, a homeless man at the community center where she works, she wonders if what her dad says is true. But when Eli saves her life, Abigail decides she is going to return the favor and save his life by turning it around. Trouble is, Eli isn’t on board with her plan. RAWHIDE AND ROSES by Maddie James, Amazon bestselling author of contemporary and western romance. She’s roses, he’s rough-and-ready rawhide. Kim Martin is hardly equipped for a Colorado camping trip, especially when her mountain guide is a rough-edged cowboy who is as untamed as the wilderness. Thad Winchester’s patience for city women is wearing as thin as the seat of his jeans. But there is something about Kim that puts his hard-and-fast don’ttouch rule to the test. LONG DISTANCE LOVE by Margaret Ethridge, contemporary romance fan favorite and TMP top-selling author of Commitment. Sometimes the distance between two hearts can be measured in frequent flier miles. Love may be a many splendored thing, but it’s rarely convenient. Can FBI Agent Jack Rudolph and fiercely independent Ellie Nichols find a way to make a long distance relationship work? SILENT PARTNER by Renee Vincent, award winning author of historical and contemporary romance. Grayson Anders is a talented Latin-style dancer and wealthy co-owner of a happening nightclub. Chloe LaRoche is a talented artist, but failing entrepreneur with her once thriving studio now on the brink of foreclosure. When the two indulge in a passionate, out-of-control, one night stand, they awaken the next morning consumed with inspiration. Grayson finds his perfect dance partner while Chloe finally finds her muse. Will her secret destroy both their dreams? About the Author Renee Vincent: I'm an author, a dreamer, a horse owner, and a medieval history buff. I'm a fun-loving, mildly eccentric, free-spirited kind of girl with a passion for books. From an early age, I've always had scenes playing out in my head. Whether it was a story with a moral or a tale with a twist, those ideas have never let me sleep until I wrote them out. And considering I have an eclectic ensemble of stories swarming in my brain at any given time, I write under a couple pen names to accommodate the various genre categories.


Renee Vincent Historical & Contemporary Adult Romance From the daunting, charismatic Vikings, to the charming, brazen Alpha male heroes of modern day, you'll be whisked away to a world filled with fast-paced adventure, unforgettable romance, and undying love. also writing as Gracie Lee Rose Lighthearted, Fancy-free Women's Fiction/Chick Lit For those who love to read fun, wholesome, and endearing romantic stories (with a smidgen of spunk) that your mother, sisters, friends, and daughters can enjoy. Find her online: http://www.reneevincent.com/ http://www.pasttheprint.blogspot.com http://www.twitter.com/ReneeVincent http://www.facebook.com/reneevincentauthor http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3005290.Renee_Vincent And get EXCLUSIVE access to all Renee’s giveaways by signing up for her author newsletter: http://www.reneevincent.com/p/contact.html


Excerpt: Rowan sees the looks on the faces of her friends as she approaches, and laughs inside at their neediness. Everyone thinks she cares so much about what other people think, but actually she couldn’t care less. Her favorite part of her day is the morning when she gets to see how her ‘friends’ fawn all over her. Such a game, she thinks, as she decides who she will sit next to at lunch, who she will text after school, and who she will share her ‘secrets’ with. It’s not like she does it to be mean, she just likes to see how far she can go. She likes to push limits and unfortunately for her ‘friends,’ they are her pawns. Today she really did want to get to school early because she wants to be one of the first people to see the new kids who are starting today - two boys and a girl. Triplets just like her, Chloe, and Kaiden. It’s not everyday they meet others like them and she can’t help but wonder if they are as different from each other as she, Kaiden, and Chloe are. “Ro? What are you thinking about?” Kristen asks. Rowan hates when anyone other than her family calls her “Ro” so she snubs Kristen and turns to Jessica and asks, “Did the new kids get here yet?” Jessica, pleased with the attention, shakes her head and looks at her phone for the fifth time. “It’s only 7:15 though, so they’ve got 10 minutes before the first bell rings.” Rowan looks out to the parking lot and watches a shiny, black SUV with tinted windows pull in. She rolls her eyes knowing that it’s Tyler White, who will no doubt start bugging her about going out on Friday night. She turns her head away so he doesn’t get the impression that she cares. Tyler is a senior and really shouldn’t be pursuing her as doggedly as he is. If her dad only knew how hard he was trying to get her to go out with him, he would arrest him for disorderly conduct or something. Kristen, trying to get back on Rowan’s good side says, “Rowan, Tyler is heading this way. Do you want me to deflect him for you? I really don’t mind – I mean, the guy is fine.” Rowan glares at Kristen and says in her sweetest voice, “Kristen, he is only looking for a piece of ass, so if you want to, um what was the word you used? Oh yes, deflect him – by all means go ahead.” Kristen, realizing once again that she has failed Rowan, walks away from the group without turning back. As Tyler approaches, Rowan notices a sleek white Mercedes pull up to the curb, completely out of place in this town. Before Tyler can say anything, Rowan turns her back on him and looks for both her brother and sister. Kaiden makes eye contact with Rowan immediately and breaks away from his group just a little bit. Chloe, in the middle of a conversation, stops abruptly, stands up and moves away from her friends to make eye contact


with both Rowan and Kaiden. When the three occupants slide out of the car, the hairs on Rowan’s, Kaiden’s, and Chloe’s arms raise. Instinctively, they break completely away from their friends and come together. The energy is electric and all three Alexanders are shocked that other people don’t seem to notice it. The first person to get out of the car is a tall blonde girl with green eyes. She is wearing all black except for her jewelry, all expensive looking, in various shades of green. She takes in her surroundings and then makes eye contact with Kaiden. Kaiden can’t help but smile at the girl, who smiles sweetly back at him. The second person to step out of the vehicle is a tall boy with jet-black hair and eyes to match. He is wearing dark blue jeans and a tight black shirt that shows how much time he spends working out. He doesn’t bother taking in the surroundings and zeroes in on Rowan. She gasps and the usually perfect Rowan staggers a little under his scrutiny. For the first time in a long time, Rowan wonders how she looks to someone else. Finally, the third person steps out of the car. Looking slightly disheveled with brown hair and piercing blue eyes hidden behind glasses, wearing khaki shorts and a plaid shirt, he looks around and settles his gaze on Chloe. Chloe feels her heart pound harder in her chest and an unusual fluttering in her stomach that reminds her of the butterflies that flit around the flowers in the garden. It feels as though time has stood still until the door of the Mercedes slams shut, bringing everyone back to their senses. Although it seems like time stood still, in reality, only a few moments has passed. As everyone else gets back to whatever it was they were doing, it seems as if only the six of them have connected. Rowan is the first to acknowledge what happened, “Did anyone else feel that?” she whispers to her brother and sister. They both acknowledge her question with a nod. “What the hell is goin’ on?” Kaiden asks. Brianna, Xavier, and Cian Silvan know all about the Alexander triplets. They have spent the last three months learning the ins and outs of the town and more specifically, learning about Peter, Marcus, Liam, and the triplets. They were not, however, prepared for the intensity of the three’s gaze when they first laid eyes on them. How appropriate that they would be together, front and center, in front of the school upon their arrival on the first day of school. Most surprising is that they were standing together. Their Aunt Selene told them that the Alexander triplets never spend much time together, each being so very different from one another, especially at school where they stick with their own groups of friends, their own cliques. It’s not that they expected it to be easy to come between them, but they did not expect the trio to put up such a strong front on the first day. Brianna nudges Cian and says, “How come no one told me how cute Kaiden Alexander is in person?” Xavier throws an unexpected grin at his sister and replies “Probably for the same reason nobody told me that Rowan looked like that – Aunt Selene doesn’t want us to be distracted by how they look.” Cian doesn’t say anything because he already decided that he would be a voice of reason in all matters related to the Alexanders. He would not, absolutely would not, do anything to harm them, especially after seeing Chloe in person. He read the bio that his aunt made up about her this morning at breakfast and can now sense that Chloe is a gentle soul and he does not want to cause her any pain. No, he will protect her and all the Alexanders – even if it means going against his own family, especially his aunt and brother. He knows he can convince his sister to stop this madness, but his brother will need persuading.


After the Summerland The Witches of Spring Hill Book 1 Patricia Proctor Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction ISBN: 1484041291 ASIN: B00C6TP9Z4 Number of pages: 252 Word Count: 79,116 Amazon Book Description: Teen triplets are shocked to discover they are the reincarnation of three witches living on sacred land. The land magnifies their abilities, making them more powerful witches – and targets. They aren’t the only ones aware of the power the land gives . . . Chloe, Kaiden, and Rowan Alexander can’t wait to meet the new triplets that have just arrived in town. They are determined to find out if they are anything alike. The attraction is instant, though they soon discover they share more than just being fraternal triplets – in fact, Brianna, Cian, and Xavier Silvan are also witches with a secret of their own. They must overcome their distrust of each other and join together to fight a much stronger witch, who wants the sacred land for more than the power it gives. It’s a paranormal coming of age story where the teens discover the purpose of their existence, explore their new powers, new relationships, and overcome family secrets, all while becoming stronger witches. They must learn quickly so they can protect themselves and the people they love from the force of dark magic bearing down on them. About the Author: Patricia Proctor lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and cats. She has a Master's degree in Library and Information Science and has had a love of books and reading her whole life. Visit author website: www.patriciaproctorbooks.com



Putting the “Normal” into Paranormal Romance Lisa M. Airey, Author, “Touching the Moon”

Like many, I read to escape. I read as a stress-buster. I enjoy supernatural and paranormal elements in a novel especially when built into a constructed supernatural/paranormal world. But I take issue with novels in which everyday folk embrace the paranormal/supernatural as if they were mundane occurrences. “Oh, you’re a vampire/leprechaun/faerie/werewolf. Cool!” I’m not buying. I also take issue with romance novels that insist that insta-love is reality and eternal. Boy meets girl. Eyes lock. Their love was meant to be. Sex by page seven. No. I’m not saying that insta-eternal love doesn’t happen. I’m just saying that it’s not the norm. And normalcy goes a long way into making a novel, especially a paranormal novel believable. Most readers of the paranormal genre have no problem suspending their disbelief. I don’t either. Patricia Briggs and Charlaine Harris are two of my favorite authors. I love the worlds that they have created. Their main characters are, above all things, “normal” even when belonging to another reality altogether. They have jobs, broken relationships and struggle to pay bills. When trouble comes, there is no Deus Ex Machina; they deal. Likewise, when their human characters are confronted with the paranormal/supernatural aspects of the story, there is shock, denial and fear as they try to reassemble themselves within a world they didn’t know existed. As a result, the paranormal elements of the story become all the more believable. It’s a technique that works. In my novel “Touching the Moon”, the protagonist, Julie is devastated to find out that her love interest is a lycanthrope. She shares her shattered reality in this scene: Cole looked up as she walked through the office door Monday morning and did a double take. Despite the rouge and the cover-up, Julie looked shattered and haunted. “We’ve got a few minutes. Why don’t we talk?” he said in an avuncular manner. Julie joined him wordlessly and took a seat. “What happened this weekend?” Cole asked, handing her a cup of coffee. She looked up at him, trying desperately to keep control of her emotions. She didn’t know what to say, so she spoke the truth. “Met that tiger in the jungle,” she whispered. “From the looks of it, the encounter didn’t go so well,” he said softly. She brushed away a tear.


“Have you been hurt, Julie?” She shook her head “no”. “You look very upset.” She looked at him with a ravaged soul. “I thought I was a tough cookie,” she said, taking a deep and shaky breath. “You are a tough cookie” They both fell silent, and Cole waited for her to collect herself. “You know, they teach us that the sky is blue.” She looked out the window. “All our lives we are told that the sky is blue. I see it with my own eyes. But it isn’t really blue, is it? It’s black. Space is black. Our atmosphere is just an illusion.” “Julie.” “I’m not handling this new reality very well.” “What can I do?” She worked very hard at a smile. “Nothing, Cole, but thank you so much for asking.” She took a ragged breath. “I’ve got some things I need to work out and I’ve got to figure this one out all by myself. I think that I’m over the worst of it. I hope that I’m over the worst of it.” She wiped away another tear. “Right now I’m just trying to get myself back in the saddle, so to speak.” “Well, young lady, anytime you need a leg-up, you just holler. I’m here to listen too, if you need an ear.” “I appreciate that.” She expected polite respect, but what she saw was complete understanding. She was rather confused by this. Their eyes met wordlessly. “I’m right here Julie.” “Cole?” “Yes?” She was so fractured. “I don’t know what to do.” He waited. “Can you give me a little more to go on?” “I really like the tiger.” “Ah. Well, can you like the tiger from a distance? Would that work? You don’t have to go into the jungle if you don’t want to.” “I’m already in the jungle.” “Can you get out?” “I’m not sure…and I’m not sure that I want to get out.” “What does your heart tell you, Julie?” “It tells me to hang in there.” “Then hang in there, okay?” She nodded. “Hey,” he said softly. “I happen to know a little bit about tigers. I’ve lived here all my life. You know, I’ve run into a few myself on occasion.” “I’m not sure that we’re talking about the same thing,” Julie said carefully. “I’m not really talking about tigers.” “Neither am I,” said Cole meaningfully. “If I’m on the right page, Julie, and I think that I am, I don’t think you need to be afraid of your tiger. You just need to get used to the fact that he’s a tiger. Does that help?” What do you think? Does such a scene make the “unbelievable” element of the story more believable?


Touching the Moon Lisa M. Airey Genre: Romantic Suspense with a Paranormal Twist Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent, NY ISBN: 978-1-938436-05-5 ASIN: B00A6GM0X8 Number of pages: 272 Word Count: 89K Cover Artist: www.reese-winslow.com Amazon

BN

Book Description: A gifted healer with a genetic secret and a haunted past, Julie Hastings takes her new veterinary degree to South Dakota hoping to bury memories of a physically abusive stepfather and unprotective mother. Although intending to lead a quiet life, she finds herself relentlessly pursued by two unwelcome suitors: the Chief of Police and a powerful member of the Sioux Indian Nation. The man she chooses shatters her world-view. Her stepfather taught her that not all monsters run on four legs. Now Julie must face another truth— some beasts are good. Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-4drhhDLcSU About the Author: Lisa has worked in the wine industry for 20 years, the most recent eight in education with the Society of Wine Educators and the French Wine Society. In these roles, she has authored and/or edited wine study manuals and developed or expanded certification programs for the wine trade. In her free-time, she writes fiction...naturally, with a glass of wine at the elbow. She is a Maryland Master Gardener and puts that training into practice in her sizable vegetable garden. To assist her, she has recruited the services of a very helpful staff: two Chinese geese, two mini-Rex rabbits and 2,000 red wigglers (worms)…all of which are “master composters”. An adopted feral cat guards the perimeters and keeps the groundhogs at bay. She resides in Monkton, Maryland.



Excerpt: “Pardon the interruption, Ms. Karr, but are you ready for dinner?” She forced her hand to her side and tossed a flat frown over her shoulder. “Indeed, vampire.” Leaning against the door frame, Marshall was the picture of bloody elegance. Black slacks with a matching vest. A deep wine shirt. He’d left the top buttons undone. It was rich simplicity, and he wore it sickeningly well. Damp, disheveled locks drifted over his eyes as he peered at the blue marble on the coffee table with interest. She breathed in deeply, thoroughly appreciating the combination of his sandalwood body wash and amber cologne. His mouth quirked and she swallowed twice before she could speak. “Huldra, I—” “And then be done with it, Elsa.” Ingrid reminded her firmly, but added in her signature sultry burst of frost. “Otherwise, enjoy. For both of us.” Marshall lifted his eyebrows slightly and Elsa flushed and snatched up the speaker. “Ignore her.” She tapped the orb and it died into a mundane glass marble. “I’m ready.” She levered herself out of the chair and tossed the ball back in her bag. It clanked and rattled, circling until it dropped deep into the depths of the magical pocket. He reached out for her hand. “Come here.” She draped a black fur stole over her forearm and eyed his palm with suspicion. “Why?” “I mean you no harm,” he promised. Their gazes locked, time stilling between the two of them. She searched his expression and found nothing but the steely shrewd regard of a predator. Her feet felt heavy, leavened. She did not come to any man’s beck and call. Never. Never again. She offered her hand, but did not budge an inch. If he wanted her cooperation, he would appeal to her on her terms. Marshall did not hesitate to take the distance between them, coming to stand so close, so quickly she back -stepped, the back of her shins bumping against the chair. Snowy blue eyes were almost black in the shadows. His cool slender finger closed around her wrist and he hauled her against the solid wall of his chest, his embrace sealing around her like a coffin. “Stubborn little witch.” He yanked and something popped free from her dress. She hardly noticed. She


was gone. Yearning for the individuals folds of the thin skin stretched across his bottom lip, wondering whether each individual wrinkle was a crevice of flavor. What would he taste like? Her tongue snaked out to tease the line of her mouth and she found it a poor substitute for his. Marshall showed her the writing on the small tag he’d apparently pulled from her dress. “Twirl to activate skirt,” his voice rolled over the words in a deep murmur. It vibrated it in his chest and her naked shoulders tensed as she stifled a shudder. He took a step back and guided her around. He studied from hooded eyes. Slowly. So very slowly. He savored. Without reserve or shame. One time around. Then two. Then a third. Every time their eyes would meet, her skin grew warmer as desire deepened the snowy depths into a profound sapphire blue. Her knees were weak, but as he drew her around faster and faster it didn’t seem to matter. Nothing seemed to matter. He became her only point of focus in a world quickly blurring beyond what she knew. Beyond what she could readily understand. Magic. It crackled to life, sparking across the textile and thread. Energy tickled her naked thighs and the limp silky material puffed and inflated into a billowing bell of smoky black tulle. “What …” Unfamiliar excitement danced in Elsa’s veins and she reveled in the fabric twirling about her. Wispy and light. Akin to smoke and shadows, the bottom hemmed by a ring of gray fog. Marshall finally drew her to a stop and she mopped her hair back out of her face, breathless. He didn’t immediately close the distance between them again, and Elsa couldn’t control her legs as they carried her across the floor until the hem of her large skirt covered his slick black dress shoes. Their gazes held. They stood enthralled in the moonlight. Pale light beating down them like a blessing. “Beautiful,” he whispered and backed away toward the door, drawing her along with him. Tethered to him by their entwined fingers, Elsa allowed her feet to carry her across the oak, and she couldn’t help but feel like somehow, someway, Marshall had finally caught her.

Twas the Darkest Night A New Gotham Novel A Sinister Stiches Spin-off Sophie Avett Genre: Erotic Gothic Paranormal Romance Publisher: Skeleton Key Publishing Date of Publication: March 1, 2014 Number of pages: est. 355 pages Word Count: est. 160, 000 Cover Artist: Elaina, For the Muse Designs Book Description: Remember the story about the troll who lived under the bridge—yes, well, that twit didn't have to pay rent. Owner and operator of Bits and Pieces, and resident expert on


charms and glamours, Elsa Karr is a witch with a sour frown and a list of things to do as long as Thor’s hammer. Top of the list is saving her father's shop from ruin. If she isn't trying to claw her way out of debt, she's arguing with her cat, Fenris, or shoveling carts of cake into her gob. She's not interested in romance or the vampire who rents the flat above her shop. All she wants is a little peace and chocolate--fine, all right! All right! The vampire is kind of screw all cute. (Curse him.) The disgraced son and heir of the Wingates House vampire clan and a mad-man to boot, Marshall Ansley spends most of his time working and dodging his mother's phone calls. Marshall is beyond family. He's beyond everyone, actually. Don’t be daft, he especially doesn't do…Christmas. But behold, the plague brings an original flavor of annoyance this year when his boss tasks him with acquiring the account of a recluse fey and her upcoming Gothic clothing boutique, Sinister Stitches. That is the ONLY reason he's bothering with his shrewish landlord. No, that's it. No…really. Fine, if you insist, the witch might be a tad bit...all right, she's adorable. (Damn her.) Scrooge meets Scrooge. Dominant meets Dominant. Tempers…spark. In each other, they may have unfold a tale that only comes to pass on the darkest of nights.

About the Author: Sophie Avett is kind of a nerd. Like not even one of the cute, hip ones everyone brags about nowadays. More like the socially awkward hippie who eats way too much bread and dreams about being a dragon from behind towers of mythology books. Um...yeah. Picture old, tattered paperbacks and comic books--mostly Batman and Wonder Woman--dwarfing a tiny desk, with just barely enough room for the troll who writes there and the 70 pound hell-hound that insists of laying it's wet nose on top of her bare foot. Granted not the most exciting existence, but she tries to make up for it by writing romances populated with her own peculiar ilk of paranormal beasties. Trolls, wyverns, the obscure Nordic brownie--she likes to keep things interesting. And bloody. (And mostly naked--but, we'll keep that bit between us.) Sophie Avett loves to hear from her readers. (Hi, mom.) So if there's something on your mind, feel free to leave a message after the scream. http://sophieavett.weebly.com/about.html (Mom, seriously…you can just call me.) Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SophieAvett Post-Its, the Blog: http://sophieavett.weebly.com/post-its-the-blog.html Brimstone Pub, the Blog: http://thebrimstonepub.com/ Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7779293.Sophie_Avett



Sophie Avett’s Sinister Stitches Dress Fitting Interview, Guest-starring Jennifer Blackstream’s Marcella from Divine Scales My characters are either naked or dressed to kill. Given they’re all monsters stalking the city of New Gotham’s twisted, cracked, and cobbled streets, the criminal wardrobe is part of the job description. Rockabilly princesses, corpse brides, leather queens…my city is full of them. Where do they get their menacing threads? There is boutique hiding out between the fractured, narrow store-fronts lining the foggy docks. The shingles are ribbed and black. Washed, peeling paint and displays offering views into wicked leather and lace studded glam. The mannequins are ghoulish beauties stitched together from whatever was left from the last fool to cross one of the sinister witches. Push open its shabby, frosted front door. Tiny white flakes of paint will pepper the wind like spectral dust and the minute you set heel onto waxy polished oak floors and step into the candelabra fire-light, you know… This is where the magic happens.

Welcome to Sinister Stitches “…apparel for a wicked fairy tale.” A spicy trinity of black magic sisters breathe star-dusted dreams to life with their gothic apparel boutique. They are schooled in the old ways of “fabric-bending” by the Needlewitches of old. With this knowledge, they’ve created an entire line of clothing that all share the same basic design element: one size fits all. Each garment will magically tailor itself to its wearer once worn. There may might be some “twirling” required, but a vampire’s steady hand should turn every wardrobe change into a stolen moment.


Care to take a peek at what the Sinister Stitches has to offer? Check out some of the questionnaire Jennifer Blackstream’s Marcella from Divine Scales was asked to fill out after she wandered into Sinister Stitches.

THE WITCHES WHO STITCH QUESTIONNARE Please provide the witches with your name: Marcella Please provide the witches with the following: Hair Color: Red Hair Length: [ ] Short and Sassy, [ ] Medium and Modern, [x] Lush and Long Eye Color: Grey/Blue/Green, depending on mood Skin Tone: [ ] Ghoulish, [ ] Snow White, [ ] Cina-baby, [ ] Mochalicious, [ ] Dark Chocolate, [X] Other: Caramel Please provide the witches with your measurements and body-type. a.) Height: 5’3” b.) Body Type: [ ] Skeletal, [ ] Lean and Tender, [X] Lean and Tough, [ ] Ripe and Edible Do you have any extra extremities? Place an “X” to all that apply. [ ] Horns or [ ] Halo [ ] 20 ft. of Hair or More [X] Gills and Fins or [ ] Hooves [ ] Wings (Span: ) [X] Tail (How many: 1) How many heads do you have? One Do you have arms and legs? If so, how many? Two arms. No legs…yet. How dead are you? [x] Living, [ ] Undead, [ ] Astral Form What are you? (Species/Breed) Mermaid…for now. What is the occasion? (Ideas include: Wedding, Funeral, Sabbath, etc. Oh, and seduction is a valid occasion. The more details, the better.) The plan is to visit the sea witch in order to acquire a pair of legs. If it works, I need something that will help me blend in when I visit the royal castle. If it doesn’t, I’d like something


that could be modified to wear with my tail for my extended trips to the surface to visit the families of sailors I’ve saved. Humans seem to have odd ideas about nudity and it was recently brought to my attention by a kind village woman that I’ve got to do something with my breasts. Apparently, my hair covering them isn’t enough. What’s the occasion setting? (Beach, haunted castle, grand ball, etc.) Either the royal castle, or the beach. I realize I’m being difficult, but I’m afraid I’m stuck between two very different worlds and I’m not sure as yet which one I’ll be visiting. Will you be running for your life at some point in the evening? (Helps with shoe selection.) For the love of the Seven Seas, I hope not. I’m not sure how difficult walking on legs will be, but if the sailors are anything to judge by, it can be quite difficult, particularly after a great deal of rum. If danger does present itself, I believe I’ll be sticking around to fight instead of testing what I hope to be a new knowledge of bipedal locomotion. Will you be set on fire? Better yet, will you be setting other people on fire? Fire? Will you be grave-robbing? (Dirt is a dressmaker’s tedium.) Grave? Is your neck a dinner plate? For what? What sort of creature eats sideways? Do you hope to be naked at some point in the evening? (All right, dirty birds. Such questions are actually intended toward the weres and shifters in regards to their transformations.) I suppose I will be at the beginning. That’s sort of why I’m here for your help… Describe your last brush with Death in two sentences. (Helps us plan for the unexpected.) A drunken sailor fired a harpoon at me thinking I was a large fish. Fortunately, even drunk, he knew fish don’t have breasts, so there was no attempt for a second shot. Do you need a secret compartment for weapons, wands, tampons, etc.? I don’t believe so. Unless you think I won’t be permitted to carry my trident into the royal palace? What are your three favorite colors? Abalone, gold, sea foam What two colors rattle your kettle? Blood (never a good sign in the water, tends to attract large predators) and black Please pick a style that you feel embodies you the best. If none apply, feel free to surprise us by providing your own brilliant description in the “other” slot.


[ ] Rockabilly Starlet: This is for the spoonfuls of sugar. The good-natured and naughty girl next door types. Candy is the business and fairy tales are ultimate. More often than not, her head is in the clouds and her nose in the book. Our dreamers. [ ] Leather Queen: This is for the warrior princesses. The type of girls who give boys a run for their money and wear tight jeans just watch the little vampires come undone. Hands for fighting and these heels for ass-kickings. Our protectors. [ ] Medieval Mistress: This is for the no-nonsense girls. The ones who know better because they’re ten steps ahead. They’re schemers—they might be shy, or they might not be. More importantly, they’re selective. Our wisdom. [ ] Gothic Dame: This for the mysteries. The ones no one can quite make heads or tails out off. She’s a mixture, a melting pot of sugar and sinister. She might be Rockabilly Starlet one day, or a Medieval Mistress other days. Our sisters. [ ] Other: Sinking Savior: This is for the perpetually stressed. A strong woman weighed down with responsibilities, and a personal dream-goal that is always “next” on her to do list. These women are too busy getting things done to sit and figure out what they want, but the lure of their fantasy keeps them going, always reaching, knowing that any day they’ll get their chance at a happily ever after--as soon as the rest of the world figures out how to clean up its own mess Who is your favorite fairy tale villain? It’ll be the sea witch if she can give me a pair of legs… If you could be any fairy tale princess, who would it be? If? Now, tell us the twit you hate most. Any idiot who goes sailing in a storm or harpooning with a mug of rum. Anything else you’d like to add…

After many barrels of chocolate, a dash of magic and furious sewing… Sinister Stitches’ Medieval Mistress, Astrid Dweyer presents Princess Irina’s Completed Dress “Albatross”


Greetings merfolk, I’m Astrid and yes, dear, something must be done about your tits. Now, I’m usually the “bat-tobe” when it comes to dress design, but seriously—what the hell am I supposed to do with a tail? How did you even get here anyways? A shopping cart? Given this special type of case, I brought all of them (and my momma—gotta bring my momma) to the sewing board for this one. So, let’s get those tits taken care of. Momma was in charge of the design. You’ll note that she chose a form fitting evening dress that flares at the knee in golden waves woven from Golden Fleece and giant Neverland goldfish fins. As requested, the design allows for the wearer to don the dress for land and sea. The neckline is low and foiled around the shoulders with tulle flowers to give you that extra earthly touch. This dress should be paired with a special pair of Hbrocaded gold slippers.


Brenda, our reigning leather queen, was in charge of the fabric. The bodice is a blend of Chinese lung (sea dragon), and an Avalon King Midas kraken. It is water resistant and the glitteresque metallic scales are as good as full-metal pixie dust. Nothin’s gonna get you in this dress—not even a shark’s tooth. Momma says merfolk foot-wear should always be made with seal hide. Preferably, Acheron Mountain seal if you can managed to find one. Rather than toss a naked Brenda out into the wild with a spear, we’ve provided you with these slip-ons by Hellish Heels.

Soft and supple, fit for land and sea. We don’t recommend actually taking them in the ocean—just bury them somewhere on shore. Acheron Mountain fur is sand-resistant---one whack and they’ll be pristine and sand free.


Oh and I’m sure you’ve already noticed other types shoes will feel like jumping up and down on rusty nine-inch nails...

Gillian was brought in to oversee the accessories as she can’t be trusted not to ruin my damn dress with bows and bubbles. Thankfully, all she had to add were two petrified sea anemones worn as hair ornaments. Oh, and she worked extra hard on the fin-sleeves worn around the forearms. They are fitted with slender secret pockets for a comb. As for me...remember that comb I mentioned---one tug through your locks and the make-up will settle as long as there is pixie dust in the vicinity. The second tug untangles, dries, and stylishly curls instantaneously. I know, right? All that work they put in and I still come out the genius. But hey, that’s what happens when your beauty comes with brains, so go conquer land and ocean without fear… If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve got a sticky for that. … For more information about Sophie Avett’s New Gotham novels and Sinister Stitches series and recent release, ‘Twas the Darkest Night, please check out her website: http://www.sophieavett.weebly.com. For more information about Jennifer Blackstream and Princess Marcella’s adventure in Divine Scales, please check out her website: http://www.jenniferblackstream.com Images from 123rf.com http://www.123rf.com/photo_9677568_series-young-beautiful-girl-in-the-image-of-amermaid.html



Interview with Lisa Fox How did you come up with the title for your latest book? One Kiss is all about two friends who learn they might have more than strictly platonic feelings for one another after they share a New Year’s Eve midnight kiss. There could really be no other title! Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life? The locations and geography of One Kiss all exist in real life. Very good friends of mine live in Kat’s brownstone in Brooklyn – I actually stayed there over Christmas. Another friend of mine lives in Dean’s Park Slope building. Using actual locations really helped me feel and smell and hear exactly what Kat and Dean experience and allowed me to connect with them on a very visceral level. What book are you reading now? I’m reading the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child now. I’m in the middle of the second one, Die Trying, and I already have the third in my tablet. I have to admit, I’m a little bit in love with Reacher. What books are in your to read pile? Well, once I get tired of Mr. Reacher, I have some Joe Hill, Neil Gaiman, and Lyndsay Faye waiting for me. What books/authors have influenced your life? I have always been deeply influenced by the Beat Generation writers. I love everything they stand for – experimentation, creativity, exploration, hedonism, travel. Sometimes I really believe I was born at the wrong time. Do you have any advice for other writers? It doesn’t matter if 27 publishers reject your book, there is always a chance the 28 th will accept it, it is important and wonderful that your mom loves your book – some people never get to share their books with their moms, be proud of that, and no matter what, always keep writing. When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures? I read a lot and I’m a total PlayStation junkie. I’m especially addicted to RPGs and I have seen many a sunrise because I just can’t put the controller down.


What is next for you? Do you have any scheduled upcoming releases or works in progress? I’m currently working on my next book for Harper Impulse, a novella which will star Stacy Saunders, a character that was briefly introduced in One Kiss. She gets sent to New Orleans for a marketing conference, and while there, she runs into an old acquaintance.

One Kiss by Lisa Fox Blurb: Sometimes one kiss can change everything. New Year's Eve is supposed to be a night for celebration and new beginnings. For best friends Kat and Dean, it is a nightmare filled with disastrous dates and enraged exgirlfriends! Lucky for them, they've got each other to help laugh off the embarrassing, and downright inappropriate, moments. But then midnight rolls around and neither of them have anyone to kiss… There's no doubt this is a night they will always remember. The real question is whether it will be a night they want to forget… An Excerpt From: ONE KISS Copyright © LISA FOX, 2014 All Rights Reserved, Harper Impulse, a Division of HarperCollins Publishers CHAPTER ONE Kat spun around when her cell phone rang, and the stiletto heel on her brand new shoes snapped, knocking her off-balance. She crashed down on the living room carpet with a loud thump, grunting out a string of vile curses. Her short, sparkly dress twisted around her hips as she scrambled to get up, and a few sequins fell off when she collided with the coffee table. The phone slid off the glass top, bounced twice, and hit the floor. She snatched it off the ground as the last bars of “Tank!” played, brought it to her ear, and winced as the missed call beep blasted her eardrum. “Son of a bitch,” she muttered, and checked the caller ID to see who had caused her all this grief. Dean. It figured. Her eyebrows furrowed. She hadn’t expected to hear from him for another few days. He was supposed to be out somewhere swank tonight, spending a very expensive, very exclusive New Year’s Eve with his girlfriend, Marine. The more expensive, the better. Marine wouldn’t settle for anything less. And she would not be happy if she knew he was calling Kat in the middle of their date. There had to be something wrong. She slipped off her broken shoes as she called him back, grimacing when she tossed them into the trash can. It was a damn tragedy to have to throw out a cute pair of shoes. This was not a positive omen for the evening.


“Hey, Kat,” he answered on the second ring, and the familiar sound of his deep voice made her smile. Dean had a way of always making her smile. He also had a way of getting under her skin and driving her crazy too, but right now it was good to hear his voice. She’d missed him a lot during the Christmas break. “Hey, yourself.” She switched the phone to her other ear and pushed open her bedroom door. Going out tonight was probably a bad idea. She was beginning to regret letting Ron talk her into this ridiculous blind date. If there was any time left to back out, she would have. Well, maybe that wasn’t entirely true. She was kind of excited. Curious anyway. She’d been so stagnate lately. It was time to shake things up. “What’s going on?” “Nothing. I just got back and I wanted to say hi.” “Huh-huh,” she said, allowing him to hear the skepticism in her voice. This was not a “just say hi” call. Something was up. She could feel it. “I thought you’d be out with Marine by now.” She knelt down in front of her closet and pushed her half-unpacked suitcases aside. Her shoulders sagged as she peered into the dark, chaotic recesses. She was never going to find anything in there. Why had she never organized? Maybe that ought to be her New Year’s resolution. She dug around and pulled out a pair of red, patent leather Mary Jane’s, which she examined and promptly tossed aside. Definitely not right. “What are you guys doing tonight?” He took a deep breath and exhaled. “Mari and I broke up.”

‘losing’ by not going somewhere else, and then she got all twisted, went on this rampage about how we can’t get married if—” “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” She shook her head so violently, her hair got caught on a button of the only business suit she owned. She winced as she pulled herself free, ripping out a fair amount of hair in the process. “Please don’t tell me you proposed to her?” “What? No. But it’s what she wants.” I’ll bet. Marine was no fool. She was entering her late twenties and while she was a working model, she wasn’t one of the elite. One day very soon she was going to be nothing more than an old face in a sea of younger, fresher faces. For women like Marine, marrying well became the next logical step. Dean was an excellent candidate. He was young, ambitious, an award-winning designer on the ground floor of a successful boutique web design and marketing firm. He’d already been headhunted a number of times by the corporate giants. If he ever decided to make a move, he’d be able to name his price. And, as an added bonus, he looked great in a suit. “I don’t understand. You broke up over that? You guys have had that fight a million times before.” “Well, this time when she left, I didn’t stop her.” He paused. “I haven’t heard from her since.” Good riddance, she almost said aloud. He deserved so much better. “When was this?” “Tuesday.” She heard him sit down on his couch, the familiar creak of the springs in the background. “Right after the holiday dinner.”

Kat’s mouth dropped open. “Before Christmas? Dean, that was over a week ago! You’re just telling me now?” She could feel him shrug, see his sheepish grin. “You were in California, and I only got back from Colorado last night. There was nothing you could do.” She huffed in reply and dove back into the closet. There was probably something she should be saying, some comfort she should be offering, but She heard the phone shift and knew that he was he didn’t really sound all that upset, and a deep, raking his fingers through his thick, curly hair. It mean, little part of her was glad Marine was gone. was what he did whenever he was upset. “It start- A deep, selfish little part of her actually rejoiced. ed out like it always does, you know? She bitched “So, what happens now?” about my job, cried over all the money I was He didn’t get a chance to answer because Kat Kat sat back on her heels. That was news—and not the bad kind. The last time she’d seen them together, Marine had been clinging to Dean’s arm as hard as usual. Found someone with a bigger wallet, did she? formed on her lips, but she bit the words back. He knew exactly how she felt about Marine. He didn’t need to hear it right now. “What happened?”


yelped as a pile of boxes fell down around her head. “Kat,” he called, his voice sharp with alarm. “Are you all right?” She couldn’t help but smile. She knew without any doubt that he was on his feet, that he’d leapt up the moment she screamed, and was ready to jet over to her place to save her immediately. Sir Galahad had nothing on Dean. Sickening as it was, it never failed to strum a cord way back in the depths of her black, little heart. She wasn’t used to people wanting to care for her and every time he did, it left her feeling a bit unbalanced, yet oddly touched. But, no matter how sweet, it was the reason behind most of his problems. He was a sucker for a female in distress—or at least the ones who were convincingly in distress. “I’m fine,” she said, pressing her palm against the side of her head where the corner of a box had struck. She supposed she should have been grateful there was no blood. A great, big river of blood gushing out of her head would only have made the night that much more awesome. “I’m trying to get ready for Ron and Alan’s party.” “I didn’t think you were going.” “I wasn’t.” She had intended to stay home and work, maybe have a glass of champagne alone at midnight, but then Ron approached her the day after the holiday dinner with his idea, and she had randomly said yes, surprising both him and herself. A sigh escaped her lips as her gaze touched the disarray spanning out into the center of her bedroom. She should have stuck with her original plan. BUY LINKS: Harper Impulse: http://www.harperimpulseromance.com/books/one-kiss/ Amazon: http://goo.gl/kUhg13 Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/WF65GA B&N: http://goo.gl/VD8s78 iTunes: http://goo.gl/BsfHz5 About Lisa:

World-renowned neurosurgeon, jet fighter pilot, secret member of American royalty, seducer of legions of beautiful, outrageously sexy angels and demons and vampires and werewolves and the occasional pirate, Lisa Fox has done it all…in her own mind. In reality, she can generally be found at her desk with a cup of coffee close at hand. Or maybe a martini. It really depends on the day. Feedback, comments, opinions, words of wisdom, chocolate cake and the addresses of super hot men are always appreciated and encouraged. Please feel free to contact Lisa any time. Email: lisa@lisafoxromance.com Website: www.lisafoxromance.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaFoxRomance Twitter: @LisaFoxRomance


6 mini excerpts FANG CHRONICLES: MANDY’S STORY“I’m giving you to the count of three before I shift and tear this cage apart.” Mandy’s green eyes flashed. She checked out the bars and then gazed back at him. “Hmm. It might hurt, but go ahead and give it a try.” She flipped her long brown hair over her shoulder. His low growl swelled as it traveled up from his chest. “One…” Her pouty lips curved slightly. “I’m not a child, and the number counting thing is ridiculous.” Eyelashes swept down over her green eyes and then went back up almost in a practiced move. Nine hundred pounds of Kodiak bear exploded within the steel bars. Large tuffs of brown fur stuck out between the solid three-inch slats of metal, leaving no room for movement. He pushed his weight against the steel, and when nothing gave so much as an inch, he went completely wild, which did exactly... nothing. She gave him her bored look again. “Are you finished throwing your temper tantrum?” BIG BAD BEASTInteresting way to see if I feared nightfall and being preyed upon by alien monsters. "I thought I'd ask for sanctuary." I shot him a firm glance, challenging him to think otherwise. "Avoid Bounders one night." Why not? The alien creatures could dine upon my carcass tomorrow night. This game of cat and mouse with this young Shifter could be pretty entertaining. I'd just play along to see how long it took for us to get around to introductions. Then the fireworks start. "Then?" he asked. The door creaked. Jaguar spun to the doorway. One filling with an extremely large form. Shadows draping his features. Shifter though. Too big for a Normal. Apparently, Augustus had enough sense to keep an adult around to keep the hormonal antics to a minimum here. "Shouldn't you be guarding the gate?" a familiar unsettling voice asked. My whole being shuddered and quaked. In fear. I think. Hostillian. My gut actually had the audacity to do somersaults. FERAL FASCINATIONS-


My mouth watered where I sat across the table from the bloodied mixture. The succulent smell of blood isn't what I remembered from a lifetime of fistfights and accidents back on Earth. No. I could have done without the blood smell then. Now, the metallic tang rooted in my nostrils with a sweetness that begged for a chug-a-lug. My mouth watered again. Drink it and I cave. To give in means I relinquish the last vestige of choice I have. But the scent calls to me. Nausea roiled in my gut. Was that an intuitive sign to abstain? You stupid gut that only makes sense on Earth. She settled into the bed, shoving the blade back in its boot. Funny thing about the glass's contents. It had some kind of magical power because my captor blurred into the background behind the shimmery blueness of the liquid. Faded into a smear. And my woody didn't pitch a fit. THE GEORGIAN EMBRACEDevin gently seized her wandering, worried hand and shook his head, voice strained. “I’m fine, lass. Please sit.” “No. You’re not.” She frowned. “What is it?” After pouring three glasses of wine, Calum sat behind his desk. “Do as he asks, Isabel.” She glanced between the two. Both were clearly troubled. Though reluctant, she slowly sat. “What’s happened?” Calum looked to Devin. When Devin shook his head, he continued. “There have been some unfortunate changes.” A chill raced up her spine. “Tell me.” “The wolf…” Calum cleared his throat then said, “Has left its mark.” Fists clenched, her heart skidded to a stop. Devin. Frightened, she looked his way. His smoky green eyes were unusually pale. Sensuous lips were cut into a thin, grim line and the skin around his eyes drawn. “What does he mean?” “Did Lucas never tell you how he became the beast he is?” Devin drained his wine, eyes locked with hers. “Did he never mention the bite of the werewolf?” CARNAL THIRSTMaggie gritted her teeth and jerked the poker out of the wall. “Look, I don’t know who you are, and I don’t know what you had in mind when you brought me here, but I’d like to leave now.” He shrugged. “Unfortunately, I can’t allow that. You’ve been bitten.” Her eyes widened. “You son of a bitch! You’re the one that attacked me, aren’t you?” He smiled faintly. “Not I.” She wanted to wipe that smug look off his face with the poker, but she didn’t want to get that close to him. If he was the one who had attacked her, he had thrown her around as if she was some shrimpy ninety pound weakling. “Why is it that I don’t believe you?” Again, he shrugged, as if it was a matter of indifference to him one way or the other. She studied him for several moments when he didn’t respond. “You can’t keep me a prisoner here.” He looked at her with interest. “Why not?” THE PROTECTORS DAMON“I still think you are taking grave risks that you are ill equipped to take, human,” Damon scowled, his voice a low deep rumble of authority. “Yeah, well, it wasn’t you who put that child in the hands of a monster, vamp,” Nicole shot back. If he thought to scare her with the big bad vampire warrior thing he had going on, he was sadly mistaken. Backing


down wasn't an option when it came to her job. “Ah....okay,” Duncan stepped in not liking where this was heading. “Everybody partner up.” Mitch glared a warning at Nicole, who just shrugged and mouthed, “He started it.” Taking a quick peek at the warrior, she noticed his smug grin. Oh yeah, this was going to be a problem. Of Fur and Fangs Boxed Set D’Elen McClain, Skhye Moncrief, Sky Purington, Celeste Anwar & Teresa Gabelman Genre: Paranormal Romance Date of Publication: February 2014 Book Description: Things don’t shift any better than this. One cutting edge read after another, of Fur & Fangs brings you six steamy paranormal reads from five best-selling authors. Amazon FANG CHRONICLES: MANDY’S STORY By D’Elen McClain Every beastkind knows you don’t mess with a Kodiak bear—everyone that is except Mandy, the wolf-pack Alpha’s sister. When Mandy hears whispers that the bad attitude bear, Honey, has chosen a mate, she takes matters into her own hands because her wolf decided months before that Honey was hers. Website/Blog- www.fangchronicles.com BIG BAD BEAST By Skhye Moncrief Each wants the other, but neither can stand to be in the same room together…And each has secretly lusted for the other like a dark explosive sin. Stand back and watch the fireworks light up the Minnesota Territory’s post -apocalyptic sky because the BIG BAD BEAST can’t help but to huff and to puff and to blow Josie’s house in… Website- http://skhyemoncrief.com

FERAL FASCINATIONS By Skhye Moncrief


Their blood lust flares hotter than a solar storm‌She seduced an earthling to create their were-assassin blood bond. Shanghaied to fight a war between vampires and werewolves, his gut shouts escape. But humanity needs a hero. Colliding in a universe of psychic mind-reading games, each realizes trusting the other is as dangerous as buying into their FERAL FASCINATIONS. Website- http://skhyemoncrief.com

THE GEORGIAN EMBRACE By Sky Purington When Devin, a mysterious stranger claiming to be from the future, appears on her Georgian's worksite everything changes for eighteenth century Isabel. Even as smoldering, unavoidable desire ignites between them they must struggle to stay one step ahead of the time-warping house caught in Calum's Curse. Better yet, the rival werewolf determined to finish the legacy it began. Website- http://www.skypurington.com

CARNAL THIRST By Celeste Anwar When Danior found the woman being drained of life by one of his clan, for some unfathomable reason, he knew he could not allow her to die. Against the ruling of the council, Danior secrets her away, taking her through the change from human into vampire and forever changing life as she knows it. But the move ensures they will be outcasts--hunted to the death by his people. Website- http://www.romancewiki.com/Celeste_Anwar

THE PROTECTORS DAMON By Teresa Gabelman The Vampire Council Warriors have been ordered to train social workers how to protect themselves against vampire attacks. VC Warrior Damon DeMaster’s and social worker Nicole Callahan clash at their first meeting. Even as sparks fly and tensions mount, Nicole and Damon depend on each other to protect the children of both races against the new drug hitting the streets, Crimson Rush.

Website www.teresagabelman.com


Belly Dance Connection By Jill Bolduc Belly Dance- What do you think of when you say the words? Do you think of glitz and glitter or earthy fullness and mystery? Well there is no wrong answer. The art of belly dance is as diverse and evolving as the people who enjoy it. Reasons are many for those who choose to take up the art form. Ask any dancer what belly dance means to them and you will get a different answer every time So I will tell you what it means to me thru the description of various styles, which is by no means complete. I started dancing just to be social and get a little exercise. However, dancing has grown into something much more…. It’s a connection to the past, present and future. In it’s purest forms belly dance is a folk dance for celebration and is performed by all: men, women and children. The dance called Raks Beledi translated means “dance of the country.” When people were moving from the countryside to the cities they brought the folk dances and music with them. Slowly the music and dances became more sophisticated. However, most often women and men were segregated. Women danced for each other in private quarters for pleasure and as a preparation for childbirth. The movements strengthened the stomach and pelvic muscles to allow for an easier childbirth and return to pre–pregnancy shape. Belly dance originated in the Orient from India, across to the Middle-East in Egypt, Turkey, and Lebanon. Every region has its own style of dance. The most distinguishing factors between the styles is the clothing, music and to a lesser degree, the movements. All styles have the same core movements and techniques that have been around since the beginning of belly dance. The Orientalist movement introduced Middle Eastern dance to the American public at the 1893 Chicago’s Worlds Fair. The Egyptian Theater included uncorseted dancers performing rapid hip movements. The promoter, Sol Bloom, invented the term “bellydance” for his advertising campaign. It stuck and because it was such a shock to proper society at the time the term became associated with risqué erotic dance. When in reality it is a form of self-expression: a way to get in touch with the inner goddess in all of us. The art form can be loosely be divided into two categories, Eastern and Western. Eastern being the more traditional styles: Egyptian, Turkish, and Lebanese. The Western Styles being American Cabaret, Tribal, Fusion, and Fitness. The cabaret style is found in both Eastern and Western dance. Sharqi, a classical cabaret style, is the bases for most modern cabaret styles. It originated from the Ottoman Empire. It was preformed in courts for entertainment and inspired the movie industry of America in the 1930’s and 40’s. This style, however, is more detached from the audience. It was performed for entertainment but the


music is emotional. The dancer expresses feelings and a connection to the spiritual. For this reason women are more likely to dance than watch. The movements are controlled and smaller with more isolation. The arms and upper torso are expressive. Large gliding steps and spins lend to the ballet feeling that allows the dancer to cover large spaces. This style includes intricate hip articulations, both traveling and stationary shimmies, intricate abdominal work, and full-body poses. The internalization inspires the “less is more” philosophy. In Egyptian cabaret dancers rarely perform with finger cymbals. It is not that they don’t know how to use them, but rather the dancers are normally performing with a band. Another distinction is that no floor work is performed and the mid drift is covered. It is actually against Egyptian law to show the navel. Also a veil is often used. A few quick flourishes, then it is discarded. It makes for a grand entrance. The costuming of Egyptian cabaret, besides covering the belly, is what Americans think of as a belly dance costume. The bra and belt are covered in beads, sequins and rhinestones. The length of the skirt and amount of leg showing varies. The only thing that was a constant is that the navel is covered! A legendary Egyptian dancer is Tahiyya Carioca. movie-musical-world.blogspot.com Notice the costuming? Beads cover the navel and most of the middrift. To see her dance click on the link below. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xM_E3ca7Rs8 In contrast the Turkish cabaret style is more revealing. More skin is shown. The slits on the skirts sometimes go all the way up to the belt. The belt is worn higher on the hips. Straps may go over the hips and encircle the waist. Full chiffon skirts are often worn which emphasizes the quick turns and spins. The dances are flamboyant. There are leaps, hops, floor work, hair tossing and deep back bends. The 1960’s and 70’s American belly dance was influenced by Turkish style. Lebanese Cabaret is a kind of marriage between Egyptian and Turkish styles. It combines the intricate internalized layers of shimmies and lifts with the showy movements of the Turkish drop, kicks and splits. This style uses a lot of floor space. Occasionally the dancer may parade thru the audience bringing a few people on stage to dance. Finger cymbals are occasionally used along with canes, veils and swords. Traditional costuming is fringed, large chucky beads, extremely full chiffon skirts and always, always high heels. Some modern costuming is akin to nightclub dress that could be thought of long the line of a go go dancer. Now lets jump around the world to the West, the United States to be specific. Jamila Salimpour , daughter of a Navy man stationed in Egypt, got her start as a Ringling Brothers Circus performer. During the 1950’s she gave names to certain movements such as “maya” and “Turkish drop”. Jamila discovered the Renaissance Faires and created the troupe Bal Anat. The troupe fused styles of dance from Spain, India, and the Middle East. The costuming was full, dark, and covered the body. The material was covered with decoration made of either embroidery, beads or metal. Make-up was black and applied in “tribal” patterns.


Carolena Nerriccio, a student of Masha Archer who studied with Jamila, is credited with codifying the movements into a vocabulary. It featured a specialized type of group conformations and hand gestures that was a lead -and-follow cue system. This meant dancers who had never danced together could perform the same movements in unison. The movements are generally larger, slower and less intricate. Carolena’s troupe was named after the response they gave onlookers when they asked if they could have a private show, “fat chance.” The Fat Chance Belly Dance troupe was born. To distinguish her style of dance Carolena coined the term American Tribal Style or ATS. In this style the troupe combined the vocabulary of movements (fast and slow) with the use of finger cymbals. The style takes turns following a leader. The leader is always the farthest to the left. When the body angles to the left the group is following. When in a circle the lead is neutral. The emphasis is on the group. However, in turns duets, trios and quartets can be the focus. The dances look choreographed but are really improvised. (photo by Kristine Adams) An offshoot of ATS is Gothic Belly dance that originated in the 1990’s. This style focuses more on self- expression. Make-up is dark and heavy. Hair colors and styles are exaggerated with colors such as blue and red. Fake hair is extensively used. The dominant color of costume is black. Tattoos are common as well as body piercing and spiky metals. The music is brooding and has sexual undertones. Fusion styles incorporate steps of tap, ballet and jazz with traditional belly dance movements. Costuming is usually tribal in look but dance is more cabaret in style. Music can be anything for old world folk to modern nightclub dance. Anything goes in this style. It is the ultimate form of expression in belly dance. Another popular form of belly dance is the cardio or fitness style. It incorporates fast energizing ethnic movements, shimmies, snaky arms and isolations in a repetitive structure to provide a heart rate rising workout. The dance is done to upbeat music with occasional slow sections for a rest. Depending on the instructor, finger cymbals, canes and veils are used. There is much flipping and twirling of skirts. The activity is social and the goal is fitness. This is just a short list of cabaret and tribal. There are many more divisions within the Eastern and Western styles. I have tried my hand a little at each one. I can’t say I’m the best dancer; but what I can say is, I am a dancer connected to history through deep-rooted sensual movements and rhythms.



Secrets and Lies Cassie Scot Book 2 Christine Amsden Genre: Urban Fantasy Publisher: Twilight Times Books ISBN: 978-1606192771 ASIN: B00FX4C0YM Number of pages: 274 Word Count: 85k Cover Artist: Ural Akyutz Amazon Barnes and Noble OmniLit Audible Book Description: Cassie Scot, still stinging from her parents' betrayal, wants out of the magical world. But it isn't letting her go. Her family is falling apart and despite everything, it looks like she may be the only one who can save them.

To complicate matters, Cassie owes Evan her life, making it difficult for her to deny him anything he really wants. And he wants her. Sparks fly when they team up to find two teenagers missing from a summer camp, but long-buried secrets may ruin their hopes for happiness. Book 2 in the Cassie Scot series.


About the Author:

Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams.

In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children. Website: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress / Blog: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=200 Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristineAmsden Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Christine-Amsden-AuthorPage/127673027288664 Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1030664.Christine_Amsden Google+ https://plus.google.com/u/0/117845642477854934607/posts


FALLING IN LOVE WITH A DRAGON Shelby Kincade never thought of herself as being real, and that was one of those things that surprised me the further into The Dragon’s Heart I got. She’s a world-class, world-famous actress, America’s Girl Next Door, and arguably the most famous woman in the world. But half way through writing her story, while she was deep in conversation with Daniel, she locked up and started to panic. It intrigued me, but it wasn’t until I got to the big, bad danger scene toward the end that I realized just how lost she had been before Daniel. You see, she was used to playing a character, any character. And because she started acting out of a desperation to fit in somewhere, she used those characters to teach her how to be. How to be sweet, and friendly, and popular… Basically, she identified herself through those roles. Playing a character made sense to her. It was easy, she knew the rules, knew how to play that part. And then she met Daniel Ashborne, the king of the dragons, and her entire life was turned upside down. Despite Shelby’s inability to see herself as anything beyond a character, Daniel innately saw her. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things about Daniel. He takes grumpy, moody, and silent to new, unbelievably irritating levels, but he always knew exactly how to draw out the Shelby only he seemed to see inside of her. He let her take care of him. He let her fight with him. She taught him how to play, and she gave him a reason to smile for the first time in—literally—decades. Little by little, page by page, she showed her strength, her courage, her (as Daniel loves to call it) fierce hell-cat temper. But what really, really sold me on Shelby as Daniel’s perfect heroine was early on in the story. The last time they had seen each other had been the year before. After one hot, hot night together, someone breaks into her house and tries to kill him, destroying her career in the process. So it was understandable that the first time she sees him again, after he kidnapped her from the hospital where she’d been recovering from a gunshot wound, she’s wary of him and convinced he’s a madman. It didn’t matter how much she’d liked him once. It didn’t matter that his friend was convinced she was Daniel’s mate. He was a lunatic, that was all there was to it. And yet…she had this fierce, undeniable urge to protect him. In the end, it was Shelby’s devotion to Daniel, her need to see him protected and taken care of, that sealed her fate as a dragon mate. Because like Daniel says at one point in the story, dragons can be overbearing and possessive as hell, and it takes a hell of woman to mate to them until the end of time. Besides, according to Shelby, who wouldn’t fall in love with this face?


The Dragon’s Heart Dragon Lore Series Book One Eden Ashe Genre: urban fantasy romance Publisher: Lyrical Press, Inc ISBN: ASIN: Number of pages: 198 Word Count: 76000 Cover Artist: Renee Rocco Amazon Book Description: “We’re dragons. We don’t do the mushy friend thing.” - Daniel The dragon-shifter king will do anything to keep his mate alive…even if it means war. After millennia as king of the dragon-shifters, Daniel Ashborne wants a little peace and quiet, especially from


the beautiful Hollywood starlet who haunts his memories. His escape tactics end abruptly when he is called to the ER to save the one woman he wants to forget, but who now bears his mark. Shelby Kincade’s life and movie career were nearly destroyed when Daniel vanished a year ago. Now he’s back, claiming they have been accidentally mated. Getting over him once was hard enough, but she must choose either the life of her dreams or the man she can’t live without. With peace finally on the horizon between the dragonshifters and the Hunters, an assassination attempt on the dragon king and his mate shatters everything. Tensions rebuild as Daniel and his loyal team of shifters try to discover who put out the hit. Enemy and ally lines are crossed, but in the end--after the battle ash has settled--no one could have foreseen who has plotted for their own gain. CONTENT WARNING: Graphic fight scenes, lots of great sex, and hot, hot, hot dragon men. A Lyrical Press Urban Fantasy Romance

Excerpt: A furious Daniel towered over her. Realizing she was in an ambulance, she scooted back on the stretcher, pulling the sheet tighter around herself. Something was very, very off. There was no pain or range of motion issue with her shoulder. There was just a blackness where the last hour should have been. Whatever was wrong with her, it ran core deep, and had everything to do with the man treating her as if she’d caused all the wrongs in his world. She let out a pathetic snort. He had vanished on her, leaving her to face the last year alone. The media wasn’t forgiving at the best of times, and they’d had a field day--field year--with America’s Good Girl falling from grace. A dead body, and the disappearance of the man accused of the crime, was too good of a story for the media not to run around the clock for a month straight. It didn’t make any sense why he hated her. For as much hell as he’d caused her in the last eleven months, professionally and personally, nothing had prepared her for the blast of emotions that rocked her at seeing him standing close to her again. She had no idea what to do with the realization she’d missed him. As soon as she figured out what the hell was going on, she needed deep psychological help. “So.” She was careful to keep her left arm tucked against her stomach as she tried in vain to put more distance between them. It still didn’t hurt, but the thought of ripping the rapidly healing wound open made her queasy. She’d never been a big fan of blood. Her teeth tugged at her bottom lip as she tried not to worry about how much space he took up, even while sitting on the bench. He was huge. “You’re alive.” When he leaned forward, bringing them closer together, she tried to keep her face impassive. Her gaze dropped to the huge forearms he braced against tree trunk-sized thighs, before she snapped her attention back to his face. He was a lunatic who looked to be on the verge of major violence. She wasn’t so confused she didn’t understand the combination was a powder keg with a lit fuse. “I wasn’t sure. The police said you were gone before the ambulance ever got to the hospital.” “Disappointed, princess?” She almost snorted at him. She’d spent the last year hoping he was still alive, and trying not to let the uncertainty drive her out of her mind. “I didn’t get myself shot on purpose, you know. So whatever you’re mad at me about, it’s not my fault. I didn’t ask them to call you.” “Right.” He dragged his gaze from the mark over her heart back to her face. Though she was sure she was


imagining it, she could have sworn his eyes lingered on her mouth. “Just like the Hunter showing up in your bedroom was just a weird twist of fate?” “A hunter?” She asked, certain she was missing a huge part of the conversation. “Daniel, my house was in the most exclusive part of Los Angeles. There isn’t anywhere to hunt.” “Ryuu.” She remembered that word from their first date. He’d told her it was an ancient dragon curse because his sister didn’t like him using cuss words. Funny. She’d thought it was sweet at the time. Now she was sure it just made him bat-shit crazy.

About the Author: Convinced dragons have gotten a bad rep throughout time, and more than a little addicted to fairy tales and romance novels, Eden Ashe has decided to re-write history. In her version, the dragons are ancient warriors in tarnished armor, who not only deserve the girl in the end, but will fight forever for her. www.edenashe.com www.twitter.com/EdenAshe

www.facebook.com/eden.ashe.author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7262875.Eden_Ashe


Interview with Rebekah Ganiere What inspired you to become an author? I don't know. I've always loved poetry and I found writing a great way to express feelings that I couldn’t verbalize when I was young. As an adult I started to read a lot and it was so all consuming that I thought I might want to try it. Once I started, I couldn't stop! Even now I have more ideas than I do time in my life to write. Do you write in different genres? Yes and no. I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance which are very close. I write Fantasy Romance and sci-fi romance, which again are very close to the others. Also Steampunk with incorporates them all. Other than that I haven't found any other genre that interests me. Those are the kinds of books I've always read, so they are what I love! Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete? The titles come to me while I write. It bothers me to not have a title while I write. It's like taking home a baby from the hospital with no name. My latest book Moon Bound took me all the way through the editing process before I could come up with a name. It was painful every time I saved it to see "Untitled Werewolf" as the title. Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life? My NA books have a lot of things in there that I've experienced. I went to college for a while


and fooled around a lot, so I have a lot of experience with that realm of things. Experiences, people, classes, homework, distractions, relationships, all of those have played a part in my writing. What books are in your to read pile? About every Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy on Earth. I went to RT last year and got 130 free books, so those are on my list to be read. But if I was being honest, I really want to get around to reading Divergent, Maze Runner, Bitten, Enders Game, All of the Incredible hulk comic books, I am Number Four, Outlander and Starcrossed. Some of them have been in my pile for two years! Unfortunately when I'm not writing I'm critiquing for partners so it leaves little time to read other stuff. What is your current “work in progress� or upcoming projects? I'm currently working on my novel The Society. It is a Dystopian Paranormal Romance where Vampires rule the world. Yes, I know it's been done, but mine isn't from the perspective of the humans. It's about a Danika Chekov, the only US Coven Lord and her struggle to keep control of her company and her coven. Can you share a little of your current work with us? Ten years after the outbreak of the V2000 virus turns the majority of humans into a mutated Vampire sub-species, the last remaining humans are the world's hottest commodity. Enclaves of scavenging humans are hunted as house slaves, breeding slaves and worse. In this new world it's The Society that rules. Mason is human, or so the Vampires think. His only thought has been how to escape the Slave Auctions before someone finds out what he is. Until Vampire Lord Danika Chekov, who makes his blood literally boil, purchases him as her guardian. Being the only female Vampire Lord in America isn't easy. Being thrust into the role of CEO of her parent's Fortune 500 Company is even harder. Under her tight control Lord Danika refuses to let her father's legacy die. But just months after she's almost killed by her vamp assistant, she finds herself needing a slave. Buying Mason wasn't in the plans. Keeping him out of her bed is another problem entirely. Their passion for each other threatens everything they want most. Their love may end up destroying the world.

I'm also getting ready to publish my Fantasy Fairy Tale Retelling Series, Fairelle. Red the Were Hunter is the first book in the series and will be out in April and Snow the Vampire Slayer will


be out this summer, followed by another book in November and then another in January 2015. Do you have to travel much to do research for your books? No. I usually write about places I've been or lived. Dead Awakenings is set in Las Vegas at the beginning, which I have been to many time, and later in Connecticut, where I grew up. Moon Bound, my latest book was set in Malibu California and I live in Los Angeles and my family lives near Malibu so I know what it's like there too. I do have a book set in late 1800's London and my husband had promised to take me to London to see it. Dead Awakenings Rebekah R. Ganiere Genre: Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance Publisher: Etopia Press Date of Publication: 1/3/2014 ISBN: 978-1-940223-74-2 ASIN: B00HMUQWQ2 Number of pages: 269 Word Count: 96K Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/YiCqYd9UBMk Amazon

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Book Description:

Evaine, a struggling New York theater student, enters an unsanctioned drug trial in an effort to pay bills. She awakens in a derelict hospital, chained to a bed with no memory of who she is, or how she got there. A band of pale skinned men, led by the gorgeous Luca, burst in, whisking her away to safety. Once at Haven House, Evaine is introduced to The Family. Like them, she has become A Deader, a reanimated Undead. Luca is hell-bent on stopping the experimentations, and killing those responsible. He has no time for a Newborn who is struggling to control her rages, hunger, and powers. Nor does he have the desire to deal with the feelings she's awakening within him.


Despite their best efforts, Evaine and Luca find their connection intensifying when suddenly, she remembers not only who she is, but also her fiancé, Tristan; who is still looking for her. Torn between her first love and her new heart’s desire, Evaine runs back to Tristan putting everyone in danger. When a rogue faction of Deaders, called Feeders, attempts to kidnap her, Luca suspects Evaine is the key to the experiments. Can everyone band together to keep Evaine off the cutting table of those she escaped from? Or will second death tear her away from everyone, for good? Excerpt: Chapter One

Warm, thick air filled Evaine’s lungs; it was going to rain. She gazed up at the clouds rolling in. They blanketed the sky like waves of dirty cotton. Stormy weather, her favorite, but she didn’t want to get caught in the rain today. The laundromat was a luxury she could not afford right now. Picking up her pace she headed toward the office of Mac, her fine arts adviser. The wind picked up as she crossed the quad, and the first droplet of water hit her cheek. She pulled down the long sleeves of her wornout shirt. The thin hoodie was about as good at keeping out the chill as paper would be keeping out a charging bull. Evaine’s mind began to drift as she fought through students rushing to get out of the drizzle. Without permission, her brain turned to her overdue bills. Trying to live on meager grants and student loans was harder than she would have thought, considering how she’d grown up. Her rent had been due a week ago, and she wondered why her pitbull of a landlord hadn’t been banging down her door like the last million times her rent had been twenty minutes late. Not that the very small studio—hole—was worth what she paid. Maybe she would be better living on the street. She needed to come up with some cash, fast. The voice of her mother, Phyllis, chimed in. Life would be easier if you’d let Tristan help out. Sigh…Tristan. She absently rubbed her finger where the huge diamond ring he had gotten her rarely sat. She refused to wear it for the sheer size, not to mention that she didn’t want to let anyone know she was engaged at the age of twenty. Some people would think she was marrying Tristan Atwater for his money. Her mother had tried to teach her for years how to use her body to catch a man of means. But Evaine couldn’t stand for anyone to find out she shared even one shred of DNA with the woman who had birthed her. Phyllis had used every man she’d ever known. No way was Evaine going to take a penny of Tristan’s money to pay for anything until they married; and she didn’t think she would ever get used to it, really. She’d always prided herself for being able to stand on her own. She refused to rush into marriage. Not in her second year of college, not even to a guy as wonderful as Tristan. The only man she’d ever loved; the only good thing to ever happen to her. He was her security blanket. The only person she had ever relied on and trusted. But she’d never let his money be her security. Between his trust fund and the money he made at his job he could more than pay for five penthouse apartments on Park Avenue. She may have been a foster system reject brought up in a trailer park, but that didn’t mean she had to act like one. Couldn’t hurt to ask for a few dollars. Phyllis’s voice was again in her head.


“Hey, Evaine!” The wind whipped her hair into her face as she lifted her head. “Hey, Jeff.” “Where you off to?” He fell into step beside her. “I need to see Mac.” She continued toward Mac’s office building. Jeff was a sweet guy, not bad looking either, in a sort of geeky way. He had kind eyes and shaggy, curly surfer blond hair. His tall, lean frame had a nice build. For the second time since getting engaged she was reminded that she’d never even dated another man beside Tristan. Last year when they'd done a rendition of Taming of the Shrew together, Jeff had been especially nice to her. He’d asked her out a couple of times. Every time she’d made up excuses about schoolwork or her job—anything. She hadn’t been sure what to say. No one knew about Tristan, and she wanted to keep it that way. She wasn’t ashamed of Tristan, by any means. She just didn’t like all the attention that came from dating him. Most girls would brag about a rich VP of marketing boyfriend and a gigantic, five-carat diamond ring. But she was still wondering what Tristan had been thinking when he’d bought that lighthouse beacon for her to wear on her hand.

About the Author: Rebekah grew up on both the east and west coasts and currently lives in the Los Angeles area. From the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to The Stand by Stephen King, Rebekah immersed herself in other people's made up worlds. She began writing in junior high and then found she liked pretending to be other people's characters in high school. Lettering in drama she went on to study theater in college as well. After college she continued acting till becoming a mom. Ultimately, she ended up going back to writing her characters down instead of acting them out, so she could stay at home with her kids. Rebekah is a member of Romance Writers of America and is a board member of both the Fantasy, Futuristic, & Paranormal and her local Los Angeles chapters. When she isn't spending time telling the lives of the characters constantly chattering inside her head, you can find her with her husband and four children; reading comic books, gaming, at the movies or taking care of the menagerie of pets. A dog, a rabbit, two bearded dragons, and three tortoises. Wonder woman, the escaped snake, has yet to be located. www.RebekahGaniere.com Twitter: @VampWereZombie Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/VampiresWerewolvesZombies Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/VampWereZombie


Earth’s Blood Earth Reclaimed, Book 2 Ann Gimpel Publisher: Musa ISBN: 978-1-61937-681-6 Release Date: 2/7/14 Genre: Urban Fantasy/Romance 99,000 words Clinging to their courage in a crumbling world, Aislinn and Fionn vow to save Earth, no matter what it takes. Book Description: In a post-apocalyptic world where most people have been slaughtered, the Celtic gods and a few humans with magic are all that stands between survival and Earth falling into alien hands. The combination of dark sorcery leveraged by the enemy is daunting. Destruction is all but certain if the small enclaves of humans who are left can’t get past their distrust of the Celts. Captured by the enemy, Aislinn Lenear wonders if she’ll ever see her bond wolf or Fionn, a Celtic god, again. She’s had nothing but her wits to rely on for years. They haven’t failed her yet, but escape from her current predicament seems remote. An enticing blend of urban fantasy and romance, this second volume of the Earth Reclaimed Series provides fertile ground for Aislinn and Fionn’s relationship to deepen. Headstrong and independent, the pair runs up against each other’s demands time and time again. Fireworks spark. In the end, they learn to savor every moment in a bittersweet world where each day may well be their last.


Excerpt: Chapter One Fionn tumbled through a gateway and leapt to his feet. Something was decidedly wrong. The wolf and raven were right behind him, but he’d lost all sense of Aislinn’s presence in the traveling portal. It made him half-crazy with fear, but there was nothing he could do until the spell spit him out. Mouth dry, heartbeat thudding in his ears, he waited to see who would follow him out of the ragged hole he’d left in the ether. For the love of the goddess, please let me be mistaken about this. Rune emerged. A howl split the still air. “Where is she?” the black and gray timber wolf demanded. He reared up and plunked his paws on Fionn’s chest. “What happened to my bond mate? I cannot feel her anywhere.” He howled again. It was a mournful sound, full of grief. Fionn wrapped his arms around the wolf, but Rune dropped to the ground, apparently not interested in comfort. “Yes, where did Aislinn go?” Bella demanded, bouncing forward with her awkward avian gait. Ever cantankerous, the raven was bonded to him, so Fionn was used to her moods. She spread her large wings, took to the air, and cawed her displeasure. He stared after her and struggled to manage a mounting sense of panic while balling his hands into fists. Both bond animals knew the truth: Aislinn had disappeared somewhere between Ely, Nevada and wherever they were now. He barked a word to close off his magic. The place they’d rolled out of shimmered and disappeared. He loosed a string of Gaelic curses. “What the fuck went wrong?” he muttered. Fionn drew magic to augment his night vision and gazed wildly about for clues. They were in the midst of rubble that could well be Salt Lake City. So at least that part of his casting had been true. No, an inner voice corrected him, I doona know that. This could be anywhere. He shoved straggling strands of blond hair out of his eyes and sent his magic spinning outward to gather data. His heart beat a worried tattoo against his ribcage. The air to his right took on a pearlescent hue. Bran and Arawn leapt through a portal in a flash of battle leathers, the snug-fitting garments indistinguishable from Fionn’s attire. Arawn barked a command; their gateway winked shut. His midnight gaze scanned the small group. “Why is Gwydion not here?” he demanded. “He left afore any of us.” Rune threw his head back. Another desolate howl split the night. Bran’s coppery eyes narrowed. “Aye, and where is the lass?” “And that Hunter scum, Travis,” Fionn growled. He spread his hands in front of him. “I havena felt Aislinn since a few moments after we entered the portal. Join your magic to mine so we might figure out what has happened.” Bran nodded curtly. “Aye, Travis must have lied to us, but to what purpose?” “To save his own sorry hide, what else?” Fionn snapped. “Or mayhap because he wanted Aislinn for himself.” The air took on an iridescent waviness. Gwydion stumbled out of the odd-looking place. Tangled in a welter of blue robes, he clutched an intricately carved staff; blond hair swirled around him. “Be gone, I say—Wait, what happened to—?” He took in the tableau as he lurched unsteadily to his feet. Fionn almost heard wheels turning as Gwydion tallied who was missing. The warrior magician pounded the end of his wooden staff into broken asphalt. Lightning crackled from the end of the staff, betraying his annoyance. Something snapped in Fionn. Bright, brittle anger lanced through him He launched himself at Gwydion and drove the other Celtic god to the ground. “Bastard,” he screamed. “Ye were in charge of Travis. What? Ye couldna control a simple human? Look what your slipshod seeds have sown—” He raised a fist and drove it into the side of Gwydion’s face. It was more satisfying than


using magic. Closer and more personal. Rune jumped into the fray and sank his teeth into Gwydion’s leg. Bella cawed her disapproval. She tangled her talons in the mage’s long hair and pulled as she pecked at him. Gwydion bellowed in pain. The air thickened and developed an electric quality as he reached for his magic. Fionn had just cocked his arm back to hit Gwydion again—before his fellow Celtic god shielded himself—when strong arms closed about him and dragged him back. Magic surrounded him, forming a barrier. “That willna help,” Arawn, god of the dead, revenge, and terror, said, voice stern with command. “Aye, it willna get your lass back,” Bran agreed. God of prophecy, the arts, and war, he often had a gentler approach than the other Celtic deities. Gwydion rolled to a sit, looking dazed. He placed his hands on the wolf and raven, muttering in Gaelic. After a time, both animals retreated. He touched the bloodied places on his thigh; the flesh mended quickly. The master enchanter and god of illusion did not make any move to get to his feet. He settled his blue gaze on Fionn, bowed his head slightly, and said, “I am most sorry. Ye are right to be angry with me. The lad came at me flanked by Lemurians. I never even knew how many. When I sent my magic spiraling out to find Travis, he was gone beyond my reach.” “Why didn’t ye tell me?” Fionn growled. “How?” Gwydion countered, sounding weary. “Communication isna possible in the portals.” Fionn groaned inwardly. He knew that. Where were his brains? Taking a wee holiday, a sarcastic inner voice suggested. Fionn jerked against the magic holding him. “You can let me go now,” he told Arawn and Bran. “I’ve returned to my senses.” He stepped forward and extended a hand to Gwydion, who grasped it. “I am sorry I lost my temper.” Something sparked from the mage’s blue eyes—compassion laced with pity. Gwydion stood, and then brushed off his robes; dust flew in all directions. He bent to retrieve his richly carved staff. It glowed blue-white when he touched it and he arched a brow at Fionn. “See, the staff knows battle lies ahead. The important thing is what we do now. A good start would be not tearing one another to bits.” Though Fionn agreed, he secretly wondered if Gwydion might have tried harder were it not for the bad blood between them over Tara, Aislinn’s dead mother. As a MacLochlainn, Aislinn was bound to him, just like her mother had been. But Tara had loved Gwydion. To avoid marrying Fionn, she’d given herself to a stranger and run away to America, effectively severing an age-old bonding. Tara MacLochlainn had been an Irish queen. Under laws of blood and dynasty, she should have belonged to him, Fionn MacCumhaill, Celtic god of wisdom, knowledge, and divination… Guess she had other ideas about that. What a fankle. Mayhap one we are still paying for. Fionn forced his mind to stay in the present. No point in dragging old bones out and chewing them half to death. Rune’s large black and gray head rammed his side. The wolf bared his fangs and growled. “I understand.” Fionn settled his blue gaze on Rune. “We have to find her. And we will.” “Let us go over what we know.” Bran stepped closer. Blond braids were tucked into tight-fitting battle leathers. He had a dreamy look about him, but Fionn wasn’t fooled. The god of prophecy’s mind was sharp as a whip. “Good idea,” Arawn echoed. Dark hair cascaded down his leather-clad shoulders. Looking as grim as the dead he commanded, his face etched into harsh lines. Eyes so dark iris and pupil were indistinguishable, flashed fire. “Let us ask the goddess’ blessing,” Fionn intoned. A weight like a cold stone settled into his guts. They couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Aislinn’s life depended on them getting this right the first time. And my life right along with it. Fionn thought about the next thousand years without the only woman he’d ever truly loved; his soul shriveled. He cursed his immortality. Life without Aislinn wouldn’t be worth very damned much.


Gwydion began a Celtic chant. The other three joined in at proscribed intervals punctuated by Bella’s shrieks and Rune’s barks, whines, and howls. Night yielded to a sickly orange sunrise as they sang. “I believe we are ready,” Gwydion murmured. “Aye, I feel a goddess presence.” Arawn spoke reverently. “’Twill provide a balance point against all our male energies.” “Let us return to cataloging what we know.” Fionn gestured impatiently. Though he understood the wisdom of securing divine assistance, he wanted to get moving before something lethal happened to Aislinn. A vision of her being tortured—long limbs splayed over a rack—rose to taunt him. He muffled a cry, but his mind wouldn’t clear. Blood ran down Aislinn’s face and blended with the red of her hair. Her golden eyes were glazed with pain. He bit down hard on his lower lip, feeling powerless. Adrenaline surged; it left a sour taste in the back of his throat. “We are, indeed, ready.” Bran nodded. Fionn latched onto the sound of Bran’s voice and let it pull him out of the black pit his mind had become. Bran inhaled sharply. “The Hunter, Travis, sought us out. I dinna try verra hard to test his words, but there was enough truth in his tale to satisfy me.” “And I, as well,” Gwydion agreed. “So mayhap his small group of humans truly was set upon by Lemurians—” Fionn snapped his fingers. “I have it. That putrid poor-excuse-for-a-human cut a deal to save himself. Mayhap part of it was designed to wrest Aislinn away from me since he was in love with her, too. She told me—” The words curdled in his throat. He couldn’t bear the thought of Aislinn fucking anyone else. She’d been with Travis once. If she was telling me the truth… Mayhap she was with him many times and softened the telling to spare me. Arawn cocked his head to one side. “Even though ye stopped midstream, what ye did say made sense. Travis agreed to serve as bait in exchange for his life—and mayhap the life of his bond animal as well. If he had his eye on the lass afore all this, well, the pot would have been all the sweeter.” Fionn waved him to silence. “Ye say ye felt Lemurians?” He looked at Gwydion who nodded. “Well, then, she must be in Taltos. Where else would they take her?” Relieved to have a destination and something to do, Fionn pulled magic, intent on leaving immediately. “Hold.” Gwydion put up a hand. “What?” Annoyed, muscles strung tighter than a bow, Fionn locked gazes with him. Blue eyes sparred with a nearly identical set. “Ye canna go off half-cocked. There are not enough of us.” Gwydion hesitated. “As the god of wisdom, knowledge and divination, Fionn MacCumhaill, I would think ye would know that without me having to tell you.” Frustration fueled rage. Fionn opened his mouth to tell Gwydion what he really thought of him. “Why you sanctimonious—” “Never mind that,” Bran spoke up. “We need a strategy.” “And mayhap more of us,” Arawn added. “Aye, and what about Dewi?” Ignoring Fionn’s bitten off words and the challenge beneath them, Gwydion furled his brows. Fionn blew out an impatient breath; his anger receded. The others were right. Dewi, the blood-red Celtic dragon god, was linked to the MacLochlainn women. She’d also spent centuries in the tunnels beneath Taltos, spying on the Lemurians. Yes, they definitely needed the dragon. “All right,” he ground out through gritted teeth. “I get it. I agree we need Dewi, and probably more of us as well.” “We must return to Marta’s house. As soon as we can.” The wolf’s voice startled Fionn. He turned to look at Rune. The wolf padded closer. “I have


been to Taltos both ways,” the wolf reminded him, growling low. “It is much easier and more direct if we enter through the portal in Marta’s basement. That way we maintain the element of surprise. The Mount Shasta gateway is akin to going to their front door and ringing a bell.” Fionn kicked himself. Even the wolf is thinking more clearly than I am. Rune had been bonded to Marta and knew her secrets. She’d been onto the Lemurians, delving deep into the extent of their lies. Before they’d killed her, she’d managed to figure out that the war against the dark gods was a sham. The Lemurians were actually in league with the dark. They were the ones who’d masterminded cracking the veils between the worlds to allow the dark ones access to Earth. An ancient race, the Lemurians understood they were dying. They needed an infusion of magic so they’d cut a deal. Access to Earth in exchange for— Fionn filled his lungs with air, blew out a breath, and did it again. He had to get hold of himself or he’d be less than useless hunting for Aislinn. That will not happen. Focus, goddamn it. Pull it together. Fionn pushed the ache in his heart aside and buried it deep. He couldn’t afford emotion. Not now. Or mental forays into Lemurian treachery. When he’d met Aislinn, she’d been a foot soldier in the Lemurian army, branded so she couldn’t use her magic against them. Voices flowed over him. When words fell into coherent patterns again, he heard Gwydion ticking off a plan on his fingers. Apparently one the others had formed without any input from him. How dare they? Anger flared hot and bright. Fionn welcomed it like a drowning man might grab a spar. He needed the energy to find the woman he loved. “…agreed, Bran will hunt for Dewi. Arawn will return to the Old Country to muster as many of us as he can find. Fionn and I and the bond animals will return to Marta’s house. We will sneak into the tunnel a time or two to see what we can discover, but we will not move to rescue the lass until you arrive with reinforcements.” Gwydion nailed Fionn with his blue gaze. “Aye and ye have returned to us. Did ye hear—?” “Aye.” Fionn cut off Gwydion’s next words. “Let’s get moving.” The master enchanter inclined his head. “As ye will.” Fionn looked at him and wondered if it were mere coincidence Gwydion would end up babysitting him. He decided to test those waters. “I really would be fine with just the bond animals, feel free to join either Arawn or—” “Pah!” Gwydion interrupted. “Not on your life. I know you, Fionn MacCumhaill. If ye returned alone, ye would turn Taltos upside down to find your lady love. Then the rest of us would have two to search for.” Arawn moved forward and laid a hand on Fionn’s arm. “Remember,” he said, “the Lemurians came from Mu. They may still have a way to retreat there. If they do so, we will not be able to follow. Or they might strike a deal with the five remaining dark gods and go to one of their worlds if they feel threatened. We can travel to the border worlds, but it isna pleasant. Nay, if they have truly taken Aislinn to Taltos—and we do not know this as a fact—it is imperative they remain there. So, doona do anything foolish.” “I understand.” Fionn clamped his jaws shut. Thoroughly chastised, he felt like a child again. He hadn’t considered either of the alternatives Arawn had just outlined. Apparently they’d come up in the part of the conversation he’d missed while wrestling with himself. “I know ye do.” Arawn favored him with a rare smile. “Bran and I are leaving.” The words had scarcely left his mouth when the air around both mages took on a numinous quality. Fionn locked gazes with Gwydion. “Are ye ready?” “I am.” Rune took up his traveling position next to Fionn’s side. “As am I.” Bella settled on his shoulder in a flutter of wings. Fionn stared at the bond animals. They’d returned to audible speech; that must mean they’d gotten their anger under control. If they can do it, so can I. Gwydion nodded slowly. “I do not believe there is aught else to be done right now, so the answer to your question would be aye.”


The air thickened as Gwydion drew magic to open a portal. Blessedly numb inside, Fionn added his own to the mix, buried a hand in Rune’s neck ruff, and stepped through. **** After they returned to Marta’s house in the ruins of Ely, Nevada, Fionn spent the next hour rattling through it looking for clues that might help them. He started in the bedroom, but Aislinn’s scent, a mix of honey and musk, clung to everything and nearly undid him. When he caught himself pulling her pillow to his nose, he threw it against the wall and stormed out of the room they’d shared. The rest of the house hadn’t yielded anything. Fionn didn’t bother going up to the attic. Marta’s parents were there, trapped in a state of suspended animation by a strong spell. Best leave them to their rest since they held the gates between the worlds open. Because there wasn’t anything else to do, he settled at the kitchen table with a bottle of mead and nearly emptied it. The anesthetic effect he hoped for hadn’t happened, though. At least not yet. “Would ye like to talk about it?” Gwydion’s melodic voice interrupted Fionn’s bleak thoughts. He swiveled his head to look at the mage standing in the doorway, flanked by Rune and Bella. Dirt clung to his robes; Fionn wondered where he’d been. Gwydion had told him where he was going, but Fionn hadn’t paid much attention. Hmph. Even the animals deserted me. I’d have deserted me, too, a different inner voice inserted dryly. The way I banged around in here wanting to kill something—anything—if only it would bring Aislinn back to me. Fionn understood at a level beyond reckoning, if he ever laid eyes on Travis again, the Hunter would be dead before he saw what hit him. He tipped the bottle in Gwydion’s direction. “Not sure what there is to say,” Fionn mumbled. “Och and there is much to be said between us.” Gwydion clomped to the table, hooked a chair out with one of his perpetually bare feet, and sat heavily. “For example, we havena ever truly talked about Tara—” “With good reason,” Fionn snapped. Gwydion shook his head. “Ye doona trust me. I sense your hesitation. We must clear the air.” Fionn opened his mouth, but Gwydion shook his head. “Hear me out. That empty place inside you? The one ye’re trying your damnedest to ignore—or drown with spirits? ’Tis akin to how I felt when Tara fled Ireland to escape having to choose you or me. She wanted me, but the ancient bond demanded she wed you.” “I know all that. I still doona see—” “For the love of the goddess, would ye stop interrupting?” Gwydion’s blue eyes flashed dangerously. Fionn subsided against the back of his seat. “’Twas no skin off your ass when the lass left Ireland, yet I mourned her loss every day. It’s been years, but I miss her still. ’Twas a gift to see her once again in the tunnels under Slototh’s lair—even if she was already dead.” Something in Gwydion’s words penetrated the desolation surrounding Fionn. He’d known Gwydion cared for Tara, but he’d never appreciated the extent of his loss. Truth hit home and shame washed over him. When Gwydion waved it in front of his nose—no, make that shoved his nose right in it—Fionn recognized kindred pain. He drew his brows together. “Why were ye not angrier at me? We had words, but it seemed we made things up soon enough.” “Nay, I simply buried my resentment. What would have been the point in holding a grudge? I tracked Tara to America. By then she’d wed another and made it painfully clear she wanted nothing to do with you or me—or the dragon—ever again.” “At least part of that was my fault. I could have—” A bitter laugh bubbled past the close-cropped red-blond beard on Gwydion’s face. “Aye, ye see it now. Ye dinna see it then. All ye could see then was that she was the MacLochlainn. Your MacLochlainn.”


Fionn looked at his hands. What Gwydion said was true. He hadn’t loved Tara and he’d known she didn’t even like him, yet he’d insisted on pressing forward with marriage. Of course, there was the niggling problem he already had a wife, so he’d been finagling a divorce. That had been when Tara, finally eighteen, took matters into her own hands and left Ireland. “I really am sorry. I should have been more considerate—of both of you.” “Och, aye.” A thread of magic forced his gaze to meet the master enchanter’s. “I forgive you.” A corner of Fionn’s mouth turned downward. “The question is whether I can forgive myself.” Gwydion held out a hand for the mead. Fionn passed it to him. Eyeing what was left of the bottle’s contents, Gwydion said, “There never was a drink that offered enough oblivion to purge Tara from my thoughts.” “Wasna working for me, either.” Fionn snorted. “I should know this. Ye told me, but I wasna paying attention. Where did you and the animals go?” “We did the same outside as ye were supposed to be doing within. That would be hunting for clues Travis may have dropped while he was here.” Fionn waited. Instead of talking, Gwydion tipped the bottle and drank until it was empty. “Did ye find aught?” he asked after it appeared the other mage wasn’t going to say anything else. Gwydion’s forehead creased. He shoved blond hair over his shoulders, pulled a leather thong out of his robes, and bound it out of the way. “It was odd,” he murmured. “At first we all,” he gestured toward Rune and Bella, “thought we sensed Old Ones—ah, I meant to say Lemurians. When I looked more closely, though, whatever had been there was gone.” He shrugged. Something tugged at Fionn’s internal alarm system. Attuned to danger, it rarely failed him. “Do ye suppose they were after Marta’s parents?” For a moment Gwydion looked confused. His features smoothed. “Och, ye mean the Lemurian -human hybrids ensorcelled in yon chamber.” He waved a hand over one shoulder. “Mayhap. There is little else here to draw the Old Ones.” Fionn thought about the genetic manipulation that must have gone into hybridizing the couple in the attic and shuddered. Did the Old Ones want Marta’s parents’ blood so they could do the same thing to Aislinn? “At least Aislinn is likely still on this side of the veil,” Gwydion muttered. Fionn looked sharply at Gwydion, realizing the other mage must have read his thoughts. He dragged a hand down his face. “Aye, we all hope that.” Something sharp closed over his calf. Rune had bitten him. “It is time. We should go into Taltos. I must see for myself whether my bond mate still lives.” “Can ye feel her?” Fionn asked. The wolf’s amber eyes gleamed in the dim kitchen. “No, but if she is in Taltos, I will know it once we open the gateway and I cross over.” “They might have her shielded in some way—” Fionn cautioned. “Enough words.” Rune nipped Fionn again. As if to support her fellow bond animal, Bella landed on Fionn’s shoulder and dug her talons deep. A wry smile split Gwydion’s face. “It would appear the animals have spoken.” “We did tell the others we’d do a reconnaissance.” Fionn stood. Gwydion followed suit. Both men went to the corner of the kitchen with the hidden trap door. Fionn kicked the rug aside and tugged the door upward. When he looked back he saw Gwydion’s staff glowing with a blue-white light. Fionn worked his way down the ladder, helping the wolf. It was awkward. When Aislinn had gone into Taltos without him, she’d used magic to transport the wolf to the gateway. The thought of her seared his soul. His throat felt thick. A pulse pounded behind one eye, promising a mother of a headache if he didn’t focus magic to soothe the inflamed blood vessels. At the bottom of the ladder, he strode to the section of wall holding the gateway and began the incantation from Marta’s journals. Gwydion’s energy vibrated next to him. Stones scraped against one


another as the gateway swung open. Fionn bent to give Rune instructions, but the wolf bounded through the opening and disappeared into the dark. “Damn it.” Fionn swore softly. “Ye stay with me,” he said to Bella. “I am not going past this doorway,” the bird informed him. She fluttered from his shoulder to a chair and perched on it. “Fewer of us, less chance of discovery. Safer for Aislinn.” Fionn couldn’t help but agree with her. His bird had warmed to Aislinn much to his relief, since she’d taken a perverse delight in making all the other women in his life—including Tara— miserable. “Mind speech,” Gwydion said sharply. “And precious little of that.” “I suppose we follow the wolf. He gave us little choice.” “After you.” Fionn stepped through into a dark tunnel. Careful to mute his magic in case the Lemurians had posted guards nearby, he turned left and trailed after Rune. Guts tight, barely breathing, he moved beneath Taltos, the city built by Lemurians deep inside Mount Shasta. Desperation thrummed through him. I have to find her. Failure is not an option. About the Author Short Bio: Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist, with a Jungian bent. Avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in a number of webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. She’s published 19 books to date, with several more contracted for 2014. A husband, grown children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out her family. www.anngimpel.com http://anngimpel.blogspot.com http://www.amazon.com/author/anngimpel http://www.facebook.com/anngimpel.author @AnnGimpel (for Twitter)



The Garden of Sensual Delight Roxanne Rhoads The warm summer breeze whispered sensual secrets to the leaves on the trees Pleasure grew like wild vines climbing, twisting and entwining in a lover’s embrace Fresh blossoms heady fragrances filled the air Inhibitions peeled away layer by layer in the secluded playground Naked I lay before you Heat from the sun aroused my senses causing my soft dewy leaves to unfold in the morning light revealing a hard pink bud ready to bloom Parting my petals you tasted my nectar before burying your stem planting your seeds of passion deep inside me opening me to full bloom in the secret garden of living fantasies



Petroleum Jelly is a Pin-Up’s Best Friend By Ginger Kewl Petroleum jelly has been around a long time. I grew up seeing my mother use it almost daily. Heck she even saw her mother use it. Robert Chesebrough discovered Petroleum jelly in the late 1800’s. It’s a by-product of the gas/oil industry, which means it’s plentiful and affordable. I was random subject talking one day when I hit upon a train of thought about petroleum jelly, commonly known as Vaseline. As a Pin-up model looking good at an affordable price is essential. I use petroleum jelly for multiple reasons and they all work! As a beauty aide petroleum jelly protects and helps smooth skin. Use it for dry cracked heels. Slather the stuff on your feet and slip on some socks before you go to bed. The socks keep the sheets clean and help lock in the moisture. When you get up in the morning you will have soft smooth feet. I started using petroleum jelly on my hands because I was looking for a way to keep my cuticles from cracking. After about a week I noticed that my hands and cuticles were smoother and softer. An unexpected bonus was stronger nails and they were even adding length! Other beauty uses that require just a thin coat are as an eye makeup remover, lip enhancement, frizzy hair tamer and easy clean up helper. Simple apply a light coating across your eyes and wipe off with cotton squares. This will remove stubborn mascara. If there is a little residue left on the eyelids its ok. Eye shadow applied on top of the jelly will adhere well and the color will really POP! Swipe some jelly across your lips to protect them and add a beautiful shine. When wearing a matte lipstick apply a bit on the bow of your upper lip, the space between the points and under your nose. This will give the illusion of fuller lips by reflecting light. That same illusion can help give you the appearance of higher cheekbones when applied lightly across the top of the cheeks. To stretch that little dab you started with as makeup remover, run your hands through the ends of your hair. Just a touch will help the frayed ends lay flat. And before painting your nails or applying hair color, apply a strip of the jelly around the edge of your nails and face. If any color gets on your skin it will easily wipe away. Then of course there is the well-known use of petroleum jelly as a diaper rash and chapped skin protector. But did you know that this product has many other uses besides a beauty product? When I started asking people about what they use petroleum jelly for I got some of the above responses but a few never crossed my mind. Like one person said they use it to easily remove wax from candlesticks. Just coat the inside of the holder and top where wax may drip. Then just peal the wax off when cool. It was also used to quite squeaky hinges, make cabinets slide easily, lubricate light bulbs before screwing into sockets and keep metal from rusting when storing. One person used it on the chrome on bicycles when storing for the winter. I’ve used this versatile product as shoe and leather polish too. I was rushing out the door one morning when I looked down at my shoes. Living in the north during the winter and spring it gets mess outside. I hadn’t cleaned off my boots and there was a crusty ring left by the salt and snow. No time to dig out the shoe polish kit and do it properly. I had a jar of petroleum jelly in with my make up stuffs. I got a rag and gobbled the stuff on my boots. Worked it all around. Finally took another cloth and wiped the excess off and buffed. My boots shined and had a new waterproof coating in minutes. I have also seen where people have used petroleum jelly on leather jackets to keep them subtle. Petroleum jelly can be purchased at most retail stores for under $5 for an amount that will last months. It’s my go to gotta take with me beauty item.