Monday, May 30, 2011

What Was Wrong With This Book?

When someone recommends a book, I like to read a review. I always start with the lower rated reviews and work up to the five starred ones.  It occurred to me that there is a common thread among books that don't quite make it. Below are some phrases changed to protect the innocent but the essence of the review is preserved.

Missing the mark on characters:

The main character has no time to develop a rapport with the reader, as she goes from stupid to amazingly capable in 10 pages.

The heroine is predictably beautiful with loads of sex appeal, and able to convince everyone to help her because of her appearance. Everyone else is  ugly, fanatical or both. Give me a break!

A  romance with a non-existent love story and uncharismatic characters told through stifling scenes does nothing  to help the formulaic and tedious plot.

Every secondary character is either extemely unlikeable or too stupid to live, whereas the heroine belongs to MENSA.

The villain is such a bumbling fool that it's hard to take him seriously, and the story suffers from mutiple instances such as this.

Lack of continuity and minimal character development make this a barely readable romance.
Other than a heavy dose of sex, the story has no real purpose.

Missing the mark with Setting
The setting is charming. Unfortunately, the author fails to give the same charm to the characters, and the head hopping is jarring.

If the author hadn't told the reader constantly where the story was taking place, it could have been in any city.

The author needed to do more research on the setting of her novel. If she had she would know that the area she wrote about has swamps and alligators, not open forrests and hilly meadows.
Waco, Texas is not on the border of Mexico.

The characters' flaws are all protrayed in brutal detail  so you can't help but be drawn into the story.

A nice little mystery with likeable characters.

Fast moving action and intriguing characters in a believeable setting.

The characters have distinctive voices with something worth saying.

There's not a dull moment in this book with it's wonderful characters and action packed scenes.

A hero with flaws that becomes someone to root for by the end of the book.

A superb plot that keeps you guessing until the last page.

A tight suspenseful novel that will keep you up late turning pages.

The author knows how to layer in the emotion of her characters.

What can you add to the list?

Friday, May 27, 2011


What We Are Saying
We are happy to welcome Jane Toombs, a multipublished author to our site. She is sharing two portions of her books with us.  Please leave a comment when you finish reading for a chance at winning an e-book copy of one of her books.

What Jane Is Saying
 Born in California, but raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, I have returned "home" to live in the beautiful Upper Peninsula on the shore of Lake Superior--with the Viking from my past. I have five children, two stepchildren, seven grandchildren, a calico cat named Kinko and two computers.

I'm the author of over eighty published books, both in paper and electronic. These include the various romance genres--gothic, suspense, contemporary, historical, Regency and paranormal--as well as other genres such as mystery, fantasy and horror. I have used the pseudonyms--Ellen Jamison, Diana Stuart, Olivia Sumner--but  now write under my own name  with the exception Zebra/Pinnacle romances where I write as Jane Anderson.
Hallow House Blurb for Part One and Part Two:
A house built for love and cursed with death. Two children, one will live, one will die, Magic potions and secret rooms. Is there a curse or does evil reside in innocence? What is the real secret of Hallow House?

Excerpt of Hallow House: Part One:

On the second day of April, the Tule fog lifted and the sun broke through, Tabitha clapped her hands like a child. "Now that the day is fair, Cousin Alicia, we must take the walk to the gate posts to see the wolves Boris mentioned.."

The day was not only sunny, but pleasantly warm, a beautiful spring day as

the two women, suitably attired in bonnets and gloves, ventured along the


"Do you ever miss the city?" Alicia asked. Though they'd led a quiet life in

San Francisco, still they had taken in the sights and occasionally gone shopping. Here there was nothing to do other than needlepoint.

"When Boris is at home, there is nothing to miss," Tabitha said, smiling. She placed a hand over her lower abdomen. "And soon we'll have a son to keep us company."

Though she knew little about child bearing, Alicia had heard many women suffered unpleasant symptoms when carrying a child--nausea and light-headedness among them. Tabitha was already showing a definite bulge, but had been remarkably healthy so far. She hadn't had a single strange turn, either. If only it lasted.

They reached the end of the drive, stopped and examined the snarling wolves crouched atop the posts.

"How fierce they look," Tabitha said. "Quite frightening. I do admire the pink marble, though."
 As they walked back toward the house, she added, "I believe I'd like a St. Francis statue done in that same lovely marble."

"A charming idea. Perhaps you might have a grotto built among those pines."

"Yes, with animals around the statue and a bird perched on his shoulder. I shall speak to Boris about it when he returns.
 We might--" she paused and reached a hand to stop Alicia. "Do your hear that strange noise? Whatever can it be?"

Alicia did hear something odd. A rattle? She knew there were rattlesnakes in the area, but this seemed to be coming from a distance. Quite near the house, she judged.

"I can't tell what's causing it," she told Tabitha. "Since we don't know, it's best if I take you inside and send a man to investigate."

"No. I must see for myself."

Alicia bit her lip. Though Tabitha was usually tractable, when she slipped into one of her spells, she was sometimes impossible to reason with.

 Alicia hoped this was merely a whim and nothing else.

"You must think of the child you carry," she said firmly, taking her cousin's arm.

"Come, we'll go round to the front of the house and--"

Tabitha pulled away. "The sound is not in that direction. I want to discover
what it is."

"Quite possibly it is one of the groundsmen working."

"No, it's not. I'm meant to go there."

Alicia's heart sank. In this state, Tabitha was unreasonable. Nothing short of brute force would prevent her from heading for the rattling sound.

 By herself, Alicia wasn't capable of picking up and carrying her cousin, all she could do now was to humor her and try to keep her safe. Likely enough

there was nothing to harm either of them anyway.

She gave one last try. "Boris wouldn't want you to put yourself at any


Tabitha acted as though she hadn't heard her, walking faster and faster in the direction of the sound. Hurrying after her, Alicia hoped her cousin would be more tractable once they discovered the source.

Ahead, in the newly planted rose garden, an oddly dressed, bent-over figure appeared to be engaged in some kind of a dance. The rattling sound came from something he held. Alarmed--it couldn't possibly be one of the grounds
workers--Alicia caught up to Tabitha and tried to stop her.

With the extra strength Tabitha possessed in her spells, she thrust Alicia away, approaching the stranger, but stopping several feet away from him, thank heaven.

The man wore some kind of bizarre feathered cloak and head-dress and a loincloth. He had on what appeared to be shoes made of reeds. As she joined her cousin, Alicia realized he must be an Indian.

Seeing them, he raised a stick with snake rattles attached, shook it.
"No!" Tabitha screamed, clutching the bulge in her abdomen.

Excerpt: Hallow House: Part Two:

By the time John returned, Samara had fallen asleep on Vera's bed. Though exhausted, Vera lay with her eyes open, the small cuts on her body smarting, unable to stop thinking about what had happened.

"Johanna?" she asked, sitting up carefully so as not to rouse Samara.

"Irma's bringing her up. I though Johanna should wake in her own crib." He glanced at the sleeping Samara.

"Poor child, none of this is her fault," Vera said, her voice low. "She blames herself, but--"

"I blame myself." John shook his head. "I've been blind to everything but my own misguided hatred." He touched his daughter's hair lightly. "He tried to talk to me about Johanna and I hardly listened. The baby was an annoyance I was sorry existed."

"But you did hire me," Vera said.

He put his hand to her cheek and she saw his eyes were bright with unshed tears. "Vera...: He his words trailed off and he removed his hand as Irma came into the room with Johanna."

"She's still sleeping, poor little tike," Irma said.

John held out his arms. "I'll take her." They disappeared into the nursery.

"Needing to see with her own eyes that Johanna was all right, Vera slipped out of bed and followed them.

Before she reached the crib Irma stopped her. "I thank the Lord you're all right. Was it the boy all this time?"

Unable to speak, Vera nodded.

Irma sighed. "What a terrible night." Her eyes focused on Vera and she drew in her breath. "He hurt you."

"Not seriously, I'll be fine."

"Best you get right back into bed and rest."

Vera put an arm around Irma's shoulders, leading her gently from the nursery toward the door of her room. "You must get some sleep, too. You've done more than your share, keeping the maids from hysterics, taking care of Johanna and Samara."

"Little enough," Irma said, looking gratified. "You were a gift from God to this house," she added as she left.

If only I could have found a way to help Sergei before it was too late, Vera thought, knowing in her heart it had already been too late before she ever set foot in the house.

As she walked back into the nursery, the image came back to her of Sergei reflected in the mirrors as he laughed and brandished the knife and she shuddered, wishing she could banish the memory forever.

Then she noticed John standing beside the baby's crib and joined him,

"Johanna sleeps so soundly." A thread of worry ran through his words. "She's so tiny, so fragile."

Vera felt for a pulse in the baby's neck. Strong and regular. "I don't think she's in danger. The drug wasn't meant to harm her, just keep her quiet. At least she won't remember tonight."

What is Janet Lane Walters (Dame Amber)up to now? Find out at

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011


 We all hear a lot about emotion or emotional tension in writing. This is an excellent article by Jessica Hart on the subject. This post is on Nas Dean's blog. To read the entire article go to

by Jessica Hart
I read quite a few manuscripts during the year. Most of them are fluently written, and it’s clear the writers have grasped many of the techniques of romance writing – dialogue/show not tell/giving the characters an ‘issue’ and so on. But there’s something missing, and when I try to identify what that something is, the answer is invariably ‘emotional tension’. I've edited a version of a workshop I gave on emotional tension and included it below, so it's quite long: I'm just about to go away (again!) for ten days, and didn't have time to write a concise version, I'm afraid. But if you can wade through it, I hope it will be helpful anyway.


Emotional tension (or conflict) is critical. It’s what sucks a reader into the story and keeps her turning the pages. It’s a common misconception that a romance is about how the hero and heroine fall in love and get married. It’s not. It’s about why two people who are powerfully attracted to each other not only won’t acknowledge the fact that they love each other, but feel that they can’t.

Monday, May 23, 2011


In Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain suggested choosing a dominant impression for each character. The Dominant Impression provides a snap shot of your character.

 According to Debra Dixon, a character’s dominant impression is described through a marriage between an adjective and a descriptive noun; for example, an analytical intellectual or an arrogant showman. The adjective is how a character does things and the noun is what they are likely to do or their worldview.
If you have more than one protagonist in your story, as is typically the case in Romance or Romantic Suspense, Ms Dixon suggested that the individual dominant impressions could be the initial source of the characters’ internal conflict.

If you keep your dominant impression in mind, you'll be able to figure out which details to focus on when the characters are introduced to the reader.
You'll be able to modify—and deepen—that impression later, after you have a firm foundation to build on.

Dominant Impressions
To create a dominant impression for your character write down the first ten  adjectives and nouns that came to mind when thinking about your hero/heroine. The first word is not always the correct one – many can describe your character but one will fit to a T. When listing the adjectives for my hero, these came to mind… bitter, angry,  loyal, distrustful of women? And was he a rebel, fighter, survivor, hottie? When I finally settled on wounded warrior, I just knew it was right. And my heroine – sure she is passionate,  loyal, headstrong, desperate, emotionally tortured. And yes, she is somewhat a control freak, an optimist,  But ultimately, deep down, she is a determined idealist .

 For a List of Impressions go to this website Squidoo
This website contains a large list of adjectives of impressions you might want your characters to make.

 Ms Dixon says that The dominant impression can be helpful in several ways. According to her, throughout the course of the story, the adjective may change and you must show this to the reader. So far, my heroine is a tortured soul with secondary PTSD and I must show how she makes peace with that side of herself. If the hero/heroine don’t change, then they have to accept who they are and how they come to terms with it.

You can assess your character's emotional journey over the course of the novel. The dominant impression that your character generates as the novel opens may evolve into something different at the story’s end. Or the impression itself may not change, but the character’s perception of self may change. They may accept who and what they are and value traits that they formerly despised.

Once you’ve clarified your dominant impression, how do you communicate that to your readers?

Ms. Dixon Recommends The Use of Distinguishing Tags:
appearance – let it mean more than a particular hair color. Details are important. Let the situation reveal a character’s appearance.

ability – what special trait or ability does your character have? Can he put out a fire? Is she able to calm anxious children? Let your readers see your characters in action. Contrast their weaknesses and strengths

speech – how do they say things? Simple? In contractions? What are your character’s speech rhythms and cadences? Does he pause and think carefully before speaking or answering? Or is she impulsive, jumps in feet first and thinks later?

mannerisms – how do they behave when nervous? Anxious? Angry? Do they stutter? Walk with a limp? Rub their heads before telling a lie?

attitudes – what is your character’s habitual view towards life? This will be well rooted in their worldview.

In Summary:
Figuring out your character’s dominant impression will give you a handle on how that character moves through each scene in your story. It gives you a starting place for what a character might say or do in response to the story events.

Look at your character’s history. What life events have shaped him and how does he feel about them?
Find the attitude that your character wears day in and day out and use it to show the dominant impression that make your character memorable.

How do you develop dominant impressions for your characters?

Friday, May 20, 2011


What We Are Saying...
It's our pleasure to welcome Dorothy St. James to our blog, a mystery author who though born in New York, was raised in the lovely state of South Carolina. She remains there today with her husband, tiny dog and fluffy cat, on one of the artsy island communities. If you like this mystery excerpt, leave your comment when you finish reading.

Dorothy St. James
 What Dorothy St. James Is Saying...
 Writing has always been a passion for Dorothy.  With an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning, she put her educational experience to use, working in all branches of local, regional, state and federal  government.
Switching from government service and community planning to fiction writing wasn't as big of a change as some might think. Her government work was all about the stories of the people and the places where they live. As an urban planner, Dorothy loved telling the stories of the people she met. And from that, her desire to tell the tales that were so alive in her heart grew until she could not ignore it any longer. In 2001, she took a leap of faith and pursued her dream of writing fiction full-time.

Backcover Blurb

 When it comes to gardening, Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun isn't afraid to get her hands dirty. But when it comes to murder, she's not the kind of gal to let any killer get away clean…

Casey's passion for organic gardening and eye for detail have carried her into the most important patch of land in America--the President's Park, on which sits the most important home in America: the White House.

But while she's readying the final touches on an innovative cultivation program for the First Lady to inspect, she's attacked from behind by an unknown assailant who then disappears. When she comes to, she notices some damaged foliage that leads her and the Secret Service to a dead woman in a trash can.

With the biggest opportunity of her life ready to bloom, and all the President's men plowing up her perfect plans, Casey has to dig in and root out a killer before she ends up planted herself…

Chapter One
"Casey, child, I swear some days ain't good for nothing but spreading out on a lawn like fertilizer." Aunt Willow was known to sputter when everything but everything seemed to go wrong. And I don't mean annoyances like when the car gets a flat tire, or the bank misplaces your deposit. No, she had to be really upset. It was the closest I'd ever heard my pearl-wearing, julep-sipping Southern Belle relative come to swearing.

She had thousands of odd sayings like that. So I had to wonder why that especially dire one kept worming its way through my head.

Lately, everything in my life was coming up roses. Or perhaps I should say pink ruffled tulips since I was apparently lying facedown in a bed of them.

I carefully lifted my head. A blob of mud slid down the side of my nose and trailed across my cheek. A few inches away a shiny black ground beetle tipped its antenna in my direction. I watched as it traveled across the rim of a tulip bloom. Despite the dim morning light, I was able to take this all in without any trouble at all. But when I probed deeper, I couldn't figure out why the devil I was napping in a bed of flowers.


I wasn't in any obvious pain. Not yet, a frightened little voice in my head warned. I'd been here before, a long, long time ago. Not in a bed of flowers, but semiconscious and confused. And hurt.

Ancient history, I reminded myself.

But was it? Waking up in a flowerbed was by no means normal for anyone, right? And why couldn't I remember anything about how I got here? While I knew I should have stayed put until I could thoroughly assess what kind of trouble I'd gotten myself into, I wasn't in the mood to lay about waiting for anything else to happen to me. It took some effort to push up onto my wobbly hands and knees. Oh, what a mistake! Sitting up set off a firestorm of agony that radiated out from behind my eyes and shot down my neck.
I groaned and cradled my sore head in my hands. When my fingers brushed my left temple I felt something warm and sticky. It took several seconds to realize what I was touching.

Blood. My blood. And under that film of hot, sticky blood a lump was forming. Not good. Not good at all. I had just enough wits to know that landing in a soft bed of flowers shouldn't have done this kind of damage. Something else must have happened. Something bad.

My hands shook as they skimmed the muddy soil in search of my backpack. It was half-submerged in a mud puddle a few feet away. A couple of years ago I'd started growing habaneras in my kitchen window. It's amazing how potent a concoction one could make with a little extracted pepper oil. I always carried my own special blend of homemade pepper spray in my backpack.

I pulled off my gardening gloves and dug around in the soggy bag. The bottle of pepper spray was at the bottom, the worst possible location if this had been an actual emergency. Not an emergency? If you're thinking you're out of danger, honey, you're deluding yourself, chided my pesky inner voice, which sounded eerily like Aunt Willow this morning.

I shook my head, sending the world spinning out of focus. Odd images tumbled through my mind. A silver briefcase. A man's black and white leather shoe. Just one shoe, mind you, not a pair. A plain coffee mug. My yellow rain slicker, which I was still wearing. The White House. And the First Lady of the United States, or FLOTUS as the press called her.

Did I know the First Lady?


My knees sank into the cool wet earth as I sat back on my heels to take in my surroundings. I recognized the pale pink flowers hanging down from the saucer magnolias and the line of elm trees to the right of me. I'd personally assisted in planting the profusion of tulip and grape hyacinth bulbs I had-I cringed to notice-crushed.

"It's murder, you know," I'd told someone just that morning as I'd slipped on my bright yellow slicker raincoat. What a time to remember that and very little else!

As I sat there, staring at the soggy landscape around me, details from that morning slowly trickled back into my throbbing head. I remembered Gordon Sims' windowless office. The cinder block walls plastered with landscape plans and schedules. The most recent addition was the cheerful pink and yellow sketch for the upcoming Easter Egg Roll. The oldest, a plan for the grounds drawn up by Fredrick Law Olmsted Jr., dated back to 1935. Gordon, the White House Chief Horticulturalist, hadn't been around quite that long. But he had an uncanny ability to remember every single day of his nearly thirty years on the job with precise detail. I, on the other hand, had only three month's experience as his assistant.

The White House rose above the elm trees like a gleaming beacon of hope on the far side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and here I was slumped on the ground like an overwatered houseplant. One had to wonder how I'd managed to land such a prestigious position when I apparently didn't have sense enough to keep away from situations that ended with me waking up in flowerbeds in the middle of Lafayette Square.

Slosh. Slosh.

Earlier that morning Gordon had been at his desk reviewing a stack of purchase orders while complaining about the sorry state of his 401(K).

"It's murder you know," I'd said as I breezed into the room.

"That sounds awfully melodramatic, Casey," he'd said, straightening his hunched shoulders. He swiveled his chair toward me and fingered his plain white coffee mug. His strong hands were timeworn, but his face looked boyish despite his fifty-five years. Only his silver hair gave his age away. "You've been reading those murder mysteries again," he accused, waggling his coffee mug at me. But I'd made him smile.

"Perhaps..." I narrowed my eyes and shifted my gaze back and forth across the room, trying out the mysterious look I'd been practicing in the mirror. I always had at least one crime novel tucked into my backpack and liked to imagine myself a modern-day, hipper, and much younger Miss Marple. Not that I'd ever had a chance to solve a real mystery.

I leaned toward Gordon and lowered my voice to a whisper. "Perhaps a bit of melodrama is needed. Those spiny devils are strangling our ruffled tulips. I won't be a minute."

"Won't be a-?" He half rose from his burnt orange desk chair, its ancient springs screeching. "Casey Calhoun, you can't be seriously considering pulling weeds now."

"Have to." I hurried into the room next to Gordon's office and straight to the partitioned space that served as my work area. The windowless workspace was tucked away underneath the White House's North Portico and North Lawn. The carpenter's shop was just next door. The low whirr of a power saw vibrated through the thick wall.

Down here, underneath the ground, was where the real work in the White House got done. We were the earthworms whose tireless efforts made it possible for the mighty oak to grow. I'd joined the ranks of the most dedicated bunch of workers I'd ever met. With a shared sense of pride, we all worked behind-the-scenes to keep the nation's most famous household running seamlessly.

My office area wasn't as dreary as one might expect in a basement setting. Floor-to-ceiling windows in the hallway just outside the door opened up into a sunken courtyard that doubled as a delivery area. If I needed a dose of natural light, I would prop open the office door and let the sun shine in. That is, when I wasn't in such a hurry.

I kicked off the brand new black pumps my roommate, Alyssa, had picked out for me and slipped on the pair of worn loafers I kept in a caddy beneath my desk. Alyssa had also picked out the dark gray Ann Taylor suit complete with pencil skirt I was wearing. Without her, I'd happily wear a comfortable old pair of khakis or jeans every day of my life. A fate worse than death to Alyssa's way of thinking.

"You're serious about this? You're going to Lafayette Square? Now?" Gordon's voice carried through the wall. I seemed to be the only one who could alarm him just as easily as I could make him laugh.

"There are just a few of them in the flowerbed, but you know how quickly the mile-a-minute weed spreads. A mile a minute." Naturally that was an exaggeration. But not by much. "I noticed them when I came in this morning. They weren't there when I left yesterday. I'm sure of it."

Gordon stepped into my small partitioned office, crossed his arms over his chest, and watched as I scurried about, his silver eyebrows furrowed. "Send someone from the crew. Sal usually gets in early. And you know he's got a soft spot for you. I doubt he'll even grumble when you tell him to pull weeds in the dark and in the rain."

Granted, it was early. With the recent change to daylight savings time, sunrise was still a solid hour away. And it had been raining all night. The windows in the hallway outside my office looked as if they'd been shrouded with a heavy black cloth. Gordon was right. I shouldn't be doing this. But I had to do something. Sitting at my desk, waiting for the meeting to start was going to make me lose my mind.

I pushed aside one of the large display boards I'd made for this morning's presentation and grabbed my backpack. The display was ready. I was ready. There was really nothing left for me to do before the meeting. In three hours I would give my first presentation to the First Lady, which was the reason I'd been struck by this sudden manic need to make Lafayette Square perfect. When I got nervous, I gardened.

"Just don't show up with mud on your skirt," Gordon called after me as I rushed down the passageway, past the chocolate shop shrouded in rich, dark cocoa scents, and into the basement hallway that led away from the workshops and offices buried beneath the North Portico of the White House. I hurried, not toward the main building, but to the double doors on my right that opened into the sunken courtyard and the North Lawn.

It was still drizzling. A freezing wind rushed in from the north pelting my face with the cold rain from one of winter's last gasps. Fresh green buds had already set on the trees. Cherry blossoms were just starting to brighten the capitol city with their festive shades of pinks. I smiled and waved at Fredrick, the bulky guard on duty at the northwest gate.

"Keep an eye out for the new batch of crazies," Fredrick stuck his head out of the guard hut to warn me. He had a head of bright red hair and cute round cheeks that were in conflict with his massive arms and broad chest. "They showed up last night and started harassing anyone they could find. We broke it up, but we expect they'll be back."

"What are they protesting now?" I liked to be prepared in case one of them started lecturing me while my hands were half-buried in a flowerbed. Some protesters viewed any member of the White House staff as part of the problem. That's free speech for you. I'm all for it as long as no one tramples my flowers.

"Apparently they're against the President's meeting with the bankers this week." He scratched his chin and shrugged. "Didn't read their literature."

I spotted about a dozen protesters setting up at the edge of Lafayette Square, the seven-acre public park situated across the street from the White House's iron gates. The protesters had arrived dressed in drab rags and burlap sacks. Several placards were scattered on the ground around them as they stood under streetlamps chatting and sipping their Starbucks coffees.

I made my way through the security gate and crossed Pennsylvania Avenue, passing by the group without incident. At this early hour, most of Lafayette Square was still empty and shrouded in deep shadows and fog.

Beyond the banking protesters, a sleeping woman hunched down in her makeshift tent. That was Connie, a nuclear arms protester who for the past three decades lived in front of the White House among her large handmade poster board signs.

In no time, I arrived at the far side of the park and the flowerbed where the mile-a-minute weeds with their distinctive triangular leaves had taken root. They'd wrapped their tentacles and curved barbs around the long ribbon leaves of the newly planted pink ruffled tulips. Like tiny hands, the weeds were slowly but surely choking the life out of the showy flowers.

I'd unzipped my backpack and placed it on the ground so I could rummage through it. After pulling on my work gloves, I unwound the vines from the tulip leaves and teased their spider-vein roots from the soft, black earth. Ever mindful of my upcoming meeting, I took extra care to keep from splashing mud on my suit or pantyhose.

The steady motion of my hands, along with the sounds of the city slowly coming awake soothed my nerves. Soon, I was one with the flowers, trees, and chilly rain still falling from the ebbing storm. I was so totally lost in my work that I barely noticed the man dashing in the direction of Pennsylvania Avenue and the White House.

Everyone in Washington, D.C. always seems to be in a hurry, running here or there. I think he glanced my way. His suit may have been black. He wore a dark colored baseball cap low on his head. But come to think about it, there had been something odd about him. He'd been carrying a silver briefcase.

I shuddered. Just thinking about that shiny briefcase made my heart thump against my chest. A large, icy raindrop slapped my cheek, jolting me back to my present predicament. I rubbed the sting as I struggled to piece together the puzzle.


I didn't end up facedown in a flowerbed by accident. Which meant someone must have either hit me or pushed me there. And if that was the case, my attacker might be lurking somewhere nearby. What if he saw me moving and was coming back to finish me off? That's what usually happened in the crime novels I read, the killer sticks around the scene of the crime to make sure he did the job right.

My insides clenched. I held my breath and prayed Gordon had been right in thinking I'd been reading too many murder mysteries lately. Though I didn't want to, I turned my head and peered over my shoulder to see if anyone was sneaking up behind me.

Despite the deep shadows cast by the elm trees and the stormy fog, I spotted a blurry black blob jogging toward me, splashing through the puddles. The killer!

I shouldn't have ignored that sloshing sound I'd been hearing. But to be fair, with my thoughts jangling about in my head like loose change, I was having trouble figuring anything out, much less paying attention to odd noises. But everything suddenly turned crystal clear.

The sloshing I'd heard had been from his boots.

I could feel it in my bones. He was coming back to make sure I stayed planted in the mud.

Why would anyone want to kill me? I'm a gardener. An assistant gardener, at that! Never mind, he'd already hit me once. With his silver briefcase, I think. I tightened my grip on my bottle of homegrown pepper spray, which suddenly felt inadequate. It was in a travel hairspray bottle that didn't have much of a range.

I should have bought a better bottle. I should have called for help right away. I dug around in my backpack for my cell phone. I found my garden shears, a small spade, the novel I'd been reading. Where was my phone? I should have stayed put. I should have kept my head down in the mud until I understood exactly what was happening. And now it was too late...


He was directly behind me. His presence loomed like a heavy hand pressing down on me. I turned just as he grabbed my arm.

What transpired next happened so fast perhaps I should skip over it. It's not really that interesting. And, well, I didn't exactly live up to Miss Marple's standards.

I screamed like a girl. Who wouldn't? Adrenaline surged through me. Throwing my arms out, I leapt to my feet and pressed the plunger on my pepper spray bottle. Who could blame me? I kept squirting the man with my fiery concoction until he grabbed my wrist and twisted it with such force my hand went numb and the bottle dropped to the ground.

He was dressed from head to toe in villainous black. Black military boots, black combat pants, black flak jacket, even his hair was the color of the midnight sky. Not only that, a large assault rifle was slung over his shoulder and a menacing pistol jutted out from a black leather leg holster.

I tried to twist away from him to break his crushing hold on my wrist. I'd learned in the self-defense course I'd taken in college that the purpose of pepper spray is to blind your assailant long enough to escape him. I'd even perfected my quick dodge technique during the class's mock attacks. I should have been able to sprint several blocks away by now. But I couldn't go anywhere because this gun-toting bully stubbornly refused to play by the rules and let go of me.

Why wouldn't he let go? In a blind panic, I let loose a Xena Warrior Princess battle yell and landed a bruising kick to his shin.

"Ow!" he shouted, but his grip held firm. I kicked him again.

With a disgusted grunt, he twirled me around until my backside was pressed against his muscular legs and chest. He cinched his arm around my waist, pinning me so close to him I had no hope of using any kind of leverage against his brute strength.

"Let go," I wheezed.

"Not until you stop attacking me." He swore under his breath while I twisted and turned and wore myself out. "This is what I get for playing the Good Samaritan, a hellcat with claws. If you don't stop scratching me, I swear I will-"

"Wait a minute." He thought I was attacking him? I'm the good guy here. What would make him think I would willingly attack anyone? "Wait a minute."

As soon as I stopped kicking and punching and, yes, scratching him, he released his crushing hold. I stumbled forward a few steps before regaining my balance. Breathing hard, I grabbed my knees and tried to sort out what had just happened. Was it possible I'd overreacted? He hadn't actually attacked me. He'd only touched my arm. I was the one who'd-

"Let-let me get this straight," I huffed, still unable to fully catch my breath. "You're not trying to kill me?"

He didn't seem to be listening. With his shoulders hunched forward, he clamped his straight white teeth tightly together. Hopping on one foot, he cursed his existence and mine. I winced. His bloodshot, unfocused eyes were watering like a faucet because of me. He was blinking wildly, clearly suffering because I'd reacted too quickly and had thoroughly doused him with the potent, red-hot pepper oil.

Despite his arsenal, he didn't look that much like a killer, not really. His muscular yet trim physique was much more reminiscent of a heroic roman warrior. His square jaw spoke of strength. His brows, though creased with intense pain, suggested a man of compassion and, I hoped, forgiveness. Because he wasn't a killer. His distinctive black uniform identified him as a member of the Counter Assault Team, which was no ordinary branch of the Secret Service, but its most elite military arm.

"You-you're Secret Service?" I asked, suddenly hoping I was hallucinating. Assaulting a Secret Service agent was most likely a felony.

"Yes," he hissed through gritted teeth.

Even if it wasn't a felony, I was sure blinding a Secret Service agent wasn't something Gordon or Ambrose Jones, the White House's Chief Usher, would likely forgive. I rushed to my backpack and quickly found my environmentally friendly, BPA-free water bottle. Moving as fast as possible, I unscrewed the lid and tossed the water into his face.

He gave a startled yelp when the icy water hit him.

"Give me that." He grabbed the water bottle and dumped the remaining water on his mottled forehead and brow. The cold water caused him to shiver like the leaves on the saucer magnolia trees above us. Then he scrubbed his eyes with his coat sleeve. He still looked miserable. The skin around his eyes was puffy and turning an angry shade of red, but he didn't seem to be blinking as furiously anymore.

"Thanks." He dropped the water bottle and grabbed my shoulders. He squinted at me, his eyes unfocused. "Are you okay?" he demanded, his voice unnaturally calm considering the situation.

I nodded.

"Answer me. Are you okay?" he repeated. Apparently, he couldn't yet see well enough to make out my gesture. "Do I need to call EMS?"

"No," I croaked and quickly cleared my throat, which burned as if I'd been shouting at the top of my lungs for hours.

"Good." He released me and started to pace. Limp, step, limp, step. Turn. Limp, step, limp, step. He stomped with that awkward gait through the middle of my flowerbed. The helpless tulips and fragrant grape hyacinths were no match for his heavy boots.

I winced both for my plants and for him. He wouldn't be limping if I hadn't kicked him. He wouldn't be growling with every step if I hadn't blinded him with my pepper spray. He stumbled a couple of times, proving his eyesight wasn't even close to being back to normal. But I had enough experience with men's egos to know to keep my mouth shut. An apology right now would not be appreciated.

He stopped at the edge of the flowerbed. "Before I radio for backup..." he began before turning his gaze heavenward. Muttering a curse to the heavy clouds above, he dredged his fingers through his wavy black hair. "There's no way around it. I'm going to have to file a report about this...this..." he grumbled more to himself than to me.

In my three short months at the White House, I'd seen the Counter Assault Team or CAT team, as they liked to call themselves, only a few times. They were one of the least visible segments of the Secret Service. They traveled everywhere with the President like the Secret Service agents who dressed in neatly pressed suits. But unlike their suited counterparts, the CAT team members didn't make regular security sweeps of the President's Park.

"And look at this." He held up a lose wire that had once been attached to his earpiece. "You've broken my radio."

I'd always found the regular Secret Service agents easy to work with. They always had a smile and a polite manner. Not one of them had ever growled at me.

The CAT team, on the other hand, only ventured outside their tight protection circle when they were taking part in a training exercise or responding to a specific threat against the First Family. They were a very serious group.

I doubted I would fare well in his report. While mentally drafting my resume, I started to move away from him to gather my backpack and gardening tools. He snagged hold of my arm. "Let's start with you giving me some basic information, like your name."

"Casey-Casey Calhoun." My heart was really pounding now. I wished he'd just shoot me and put me out of my misery. His grip tightened on my arm. "I'm Gordon Sims' new assistant." Everyone knew Gordon. He was a fixture, a one-man institution. But the agent's pained expression remained unchanged, which only made me more nervous. Was it possible? Did he not know Gordon? "I-I'm a gardener."

My slightly eccentric but altogether loveable aunts, Willow and Alba, and Grandmother Faye back in Charleston, South Carolina had instilled in me a love of gardening as well as an absurd fondness for ice cream desserts. But I suspected he didn't care to hear about any of that.

I decided to take the initiative. "I'm kind of in a hurry. So if it's okay with you, I'd like to clear up this misunderstanding as quickly as possible. I have a meeting scheduled with the First Lady this morning to present my plans on how to transform the White House gardens into the White House organic gardens."

"We'll see about that." His red-rimmed gaze traveled up and down my mud-caked legs. I had a sinking feeling he was plotting to make my life at the White House a living hell. I bit the inside of my cheek. He couldn't really get me fired, could he?

He narrowed his bloodshot eyes and leaned toward me. "Now tell me, Ms. Calhoun, why did you attack me?"
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Have you ever visited the White House? Leave your answer here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Does writing in bed help writers access their unconscious?  Orwell, Proust and Churchill were bed writers. So they must have thought so.

Mark Twain
Some modern authors prefer writing in bed and this puts them in the company of some famous writers. Edith Wharton, Winston Churchill, Colette, and Mark Twain all wrote in bed.
I don't write in bed, but then, neither do I  read in bed . But writing in bed is making somewhat of a comeback, especially in the age of the laptop computer and its accessories, such as laptop desks. Studies show that sitting a laptop on your knees or tummy can cause overheating of the laptop and worse affect your fertility.
Laptops have made bed writing much easier as it was hard to haul a heavy typewriter into a bed. The dying George Orwell used to prop his typewriter up in bed, and hammer away at the final draft of 1984.
Writing in bed is not just about convenience or comfort. Some would say there's a psychological factor. Early morning bed writers think that they can catch a part of consciousness, that lies somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness. They feel one may still be in the spiders web of the dream world just prior to the sharp brightness of the waking state.Stephen King refers to this little bit of mystery as the work of "the boys in the basement" (also known as the unconscious).

For some writers, those who like working in restaurants and coffee shops, this would be a kind of torture. Personally, I find both reading and writing in bed not a good combination. But then I don't eat in bed either. If I wake, I'm up. If I lie down, I'm asleep. It just doesn't work for me. Bed is a comforting place, so it makes an ideal setting for resting. I'm not into reading challenging, terrifying, or thought provoking books prior to sleep.  One  young mother told me recently she is so busy, that the only time she has to herself is the hour before she falls asleep.  Bed is the one place she can get lost in a book for an hour without being interrupted.

Ernest Hemingway

Finally, at some point, the writer has to get up. Churchill, who wrote in bed, also wrote standing up. So did Hemingway.  If it's a choice between standing or sitting in bed to write, I'd always settle for comfort.

Where do you write?

Monday, May 16, 2011


This is from a website I ran across which is just full of information on craft. This excerpt on describing emotion is an example.
For the complete list and more articles please go to

Language Cues to Emotion


tense jaw/mouth

compressed mouth/lips

biting bottom lip


guttural throat sounds

loud speech/yell/scream

jutted chin

clenched jaw


wrinkled nose

flared nostrils

widened eyes

protruding eyeballs

dilated pupils

hands on hips/away from body

body displayed broadside

squared shoulders

shrug shoulders

body held erect/stand tall

head jerks

tick in cheek/eye/corner of mouth

head brought forward

clenched fists

drumming/tapping fingers

palms down, beating gesture/flailing hands/arms

red face/neck/ears

hitting something with fists

stiff walking

The second site is an excellent one to add as a reference to your writing resource file. Please go to:                                                                                                                                                                          The  Bookshelf Muse.
Emotion Thesarus
The Bookshelf Muse has  an Emotion Thesaurus. It shows how to describe the character’s emotion through a physical action. Each Thursday they introduce new  emotions to the thesaurus, offering writers an ‘idea bank’ for the times when they get stuck.  The lists in the sidebar give an indepth look at specific words,and can help spark an idea for the writer.  At the bottom of the list is an Addendum to the Thesaurus, comprised of secondary/reactive emotions.

Expressing Cardinal Emotions: Male vs. Female Anger (loneliness, fatigue, pain, etc). 

Tendency toward violence: hitting something, kicking, shoving, causing damage to something as an outlet for energy
Clenched fists
Confronting others head on
Tendency to initiate vengeance with others
Letting emotions rule immediate judgement, leading to speeding, stomping down on an accelerator and peeling out of a parking lot, making rash decisions
Internalizes anger, doesn't talk about it
Able to move past anger eventually
Usually forgives and forgets

 If you liked this post, please leave a comment.

Friday, May 13, 2011


What We Are Saying....
It's our great pleasure to welcome LJ Charles to our blog with the first book of the Life Thread trilogy. She is the author of women's fiction and young adult novels. All of her stories combine romance, mystery, and paranormal elements.

If you like the excerpt, leave a comment for a free copy of LJ's book.

What LJ Is Saying....
I wrote my first book when I was eight…on pink construction paper with a purple crayon. It was a romance that involved a princess, and although I remember very few details about the plot, I do remember that it was illustrated and there was music and dancing involved.At about the same time I penned my first story, I discovered Nancy Drew and my love for reading was born. It has only grown over the years, and I am rarely without a huge to-be-read stack, and a book within easy reach.
Guess I haven’t ever outgrown my early reading adventures with Nancy, Ned, Bess and George. I live in the frozen north with my husband, whose TBR stack is taller than mine, and two felines who have been known to add entire pages to a manuscript without telling me.

Back Cover Blurb

McKenna Fin is armed, dangerous, and in love for the first time. She'll do anything to earn her humanity... except the one thing the Fate's require.

Stuck in her senior year of high school until she earns her humanity, McKenna Fin is responsible for cutting the lifethread of demons, and protecting teens from being possessed. To celebrate her fiftieth year of apprenticeship to the Fate Atropos, McKenna is given a new responsibility, and possibly a quick way to earn her humanity—severing the lifethread of deserving humans. Her first assignment: Nathan Quinn.

When Nathan becomes a primary demon target and gets sucked into Tartania, McKenna’s duty as a Fated priestess demands she follow. McKenna can rescue him, no problem, but then she’d have to cut his lifethread. And he’s the one and only guy she’s been attracted to since forever.

The demons consider Nathan one of their own and fight to keep him. The time limit on Nathan's life is about to run out, and McKenna has to make the decision: sever his lifethread, or battle demons, defy the Fates, and keep him for her First

Chapter One
“McKenna Fin.” I snapped out the syllables of my name and a shimmer of energy coated the walls of the history classroom. The back of my neck prickled with unsettling intensity, and I couldn’t stop my fingers from rifling the pages of my textbook. Four times the substitute teacher from hell had called me by some other name. Count them. Four. Too many, even for an evil imbecile of a substitute unit. Not only was she unable to cope with a simple seating chart, but…uh-oh, her eyes were taking on the vacant stare that telegraphed “demon” in blossoming shades of red.

Dammit all to Zeus, I’d have to kill her and it was only third period.

No way around it seeing as I’m the Moirai Priestess, connected to the Fate, Atropos. There are three of us roaming the Earth at any given time, each assigned to one of the Fates. My boss just happened to be responsible for cutting lifethreads. Ending human life. Or in my case, ending demon life.

I fingered the glowing blade tucked into a special pocket on my backpack—the kind of blade made of Ouranian magick that didn’t set off metal detectors, or any other detector for that matter. Ripples of energy came alive under my fingertips as I stroked the glassy smooth surface, deftly avoiding the killer edge. I love my blade.

My fingers twitched with urgency. I had to kill it before its eyes turned completely red with demon strength. The thing is, Atropos gets all hinky when I draw attention to myself, and I seriously hate when she calls me in front of the Triad for behavior unbecoming a Moirai Priestess. Not good. It would probably mean another one hundred years being stuck in my senior year of high school. And seriously, the first fifty were more than enough. Immortality sucks. I mean, who can tolerate being seventeen years, eleven months, and twenty-five days old, for like forever. You’d think she could have created me with a birth date that came with voting privileges and didn’t require emancipation papers.

My sigh must have been über loud because Nathan Quinn, the one and only guy at Brighton High worth my time, had his baby greens fixed in my direction. My nerves jumped to attention and a warm glow heated my cheeks, probably noticeable even though I was blessed with naturally dark skin. We’d been eyeing each other all year, but it was way complicated for a priestess to date.

“He’s just fine.” Merritt’s honeyed voice plowed into my head; bless her golden eyes and sun-kissed brown hair. Mer belonged to Lachesis, the Fate who decided human destiny, and who twisted time to accommodate said destinies. My sister priestess was down the hall in biology class, but Moirai Priestesses have telepathic bonds that provides instant communication. Sometimes good, sometimes majorly inconvenient. Right now? A total pain in the butt.

“Not now, Merritt. Seriously bad timing.” I scooted my chair back and jammed the history text in my backpack.

“Do not diss my timing, McK. Not when you need me to adjust time so you can kill that hell spawn pretending to teach history.”

I shot a glance at the demon in question. Shiny orange scales had broken out along evil-pretend-to-be-a-teacher’s arms. Noticeable. But only to me. Thank Zeus and Nyx the vastly inferior human eye couldn’t see demons. Most everyone was nose-to-desk taking a nap, and the few attempting to pay attention had that glazed asleep-sitting-up look. They weren’t processing a thing—thank the Fates—so, they didn’t notice when the sub morphed into demon form. Looked like it had targeted that smallish kid in the front row. Not that it mattered. It was my job to rescue all human kids. An equal opportunity deal.
I balanced my blade, aimed for the base of demon teacher’s throat, and sent the weapon in a smooth, precise arc across the room. One demon lifethread severed. The blade returned to my hand, leaving behind a crumpled, orange scaly body. “Done. Ready for clean up, Mer. At least this one was quick, no hand-to-hand, no battle to the death. You gotta appreciate how easy the young ones are.”

“No prob, sis.” She blinked out of my head to create a blip in time, and I used the pause to sheath my blade, and roll my gaze over that “fine boy.” I mean, time was paused, so why not indulge in a little—

“Hey, you gotta bury that demon and get out of the room.” Merritt again.

“Nah. No one will—”

“Time didn’t pause for the hottie. Get. Out. Of. The. Room.”

She’d called it right. Nathan Quinn wasn’t suspended in time, nor was he ogling the suddenly empty space in the front of the room. He was staring at me, questions blazing in his beyond gorgeous eyes.

I lifted my long, single braid, shouldered my backpack, and then dropped the braid. I hated when strands of hair got caught against the rough canvas fabric. “Shea is gonna be sooooo pissed. She hates when stuff like this happens.”

“Thing is, Shea’s in the middle of a physics test, and—”

The energy around Nathan shimmered. How had I missed that? “Have you looked at this guy, Merritt? Really looked? He’s one of Shea’s creations. Has to be. See the azure blue in his pattern. That’s Shea. Clotho never creates with that color. And the reason he’s all alert-like is because she made a mistake.”

“Huh? What are you—oh, yeah. I see that gray break in the pattern. Could be that’s the good news. If she made a mistake, she won’t go running to the Fates—”

“Y’all are talking ‘bout me like I’m not here.” Shea. Her soft twang unmistakable as she cut in on my conversation with Merritt. “Nathan isn’t a mistake. He’s more an…anomaly.”

“WTF?” Merritt and I did the silent yell in unison.

Shea didn’t say another word. Not. One. Word. I hustled toward Nathan’s desk. This internal conversation among the three of us had gone on long enough, and Merritt definitely should not be holding time that long. For sure we’d have the Fate’s calling us to Ourania. “Give me a minute to get him out of the room before you release time, Mer.”

I bumped along the aisle, my backpack catching on the edges of the desks, pulling the straps tightly into my shoulders. Damn the extra weight of the history book. Ereaders, people. Seriously. I slid my hand under the strap to ease the weight. “Hey, Nathan.” I purred the greeting, hitting every seductive note I could summon.

Not that I had to do much. Each of the Fates provides a gift to her priestess. Mine happens to be magick skin. Atropos created it from pure love energy, so it’s silky soft, caramelly-colored, and tough enough to stop most anything from penetrating the surface. Handy when someone throws a knife at me. Or tries to pound me into mashed potatoes. Not that those things happen often, but when you work for the Fates…

Anyway, my skin comes with a surreal glow, like there’s a low wattage light shining just under the surface. And it’s one of the reasons I never trust a guy when he hits on to me. Was it me, my skin, or the standard overload of teenage testosterone? Not that I’d trade my super skin for a guy“Hey there, McKenna,” Nathan said as I approached his desk. Waves of thick black hair dipped over his forehead, a contrast to the deep green of his eyes. Attention catching. Definitely drool-worthy. And he smelled cool with a touch of pepper. Naturally. Not out of a bottle. I inhaled and let the scent settle against my tongue. Kissable.

Except there was a tightness around his mouth, like his skin was stretched too thin. Anger? Fear, maybe? “You wanna talk about the missing substitute unit?” His voice was rich with challenge.

“What’s to talk about? Subs disappear all the time. This one probably got stomach cramps when she couldn’t manage the seating chart.”

Disbelief flashed, turning his eyes more golden than green. “Un-huh. And the fact that everyone in this room is frozen in place except you and me.“Shock. It happens to kids when they’re suddenly free from adult supervision. Come on. Let’s lose this place. It’s almost lunchtime, and I have something to show you.” I took his hand and yanked him out of his chair, knowing that as soon as I touched him, my skin would do its thing and muddle his brain. Sort of. There’s something about coming in contact with pure love that makes ordinary humans go all spacey. And it’s the major reason I don’t date. Not ever.
“Nyx and Zeus!” I about screeched which is not my style at all. I’m more the—okay, that’s a lie. I do the occasional screech, and in this case it fit. I wanted to snatch my hand back. No. What I wanted was to never stop touching him. His skin was warm. Some rough areas from playing baseball. Guy skin. Unexpected. A first.
This was so not the time to be distracted. I prayed Shea hadn’t messed Nathan’s birth up enough that he was immune to my touch because that would create a witch of a problem.

She didn’t. Right on cue, his eyes glazed over and he fell into step next to me. I all but shoved him out of the classroom, making a quick stop to touch my blade to the floor underneath the dead demon, creating the perfect-sized hole. Its body dropped in, and then I touched my blade to the surface to cover it up and complete the burial. I try to be tidy.I headed outside, Nathan in tow, turned him in the direction of the baseball diamond, and let go of his hand. It took maybe thirty seconds before I’d sprinted from the scene and was safely off campus, heading for the local bookstore and coffee shop. What could be better than the combo of a white chocolate latte and books? Well, other than earning the freedom to become human, graduate high school, and end my apprenticeship with Atropos.

Not that I’d be earning my humanity any time soon, because—a shiver rippled along my spine—I hadn’t cut a single human lifethead. Yet. And honestly, I wasn't in any hurry to have Atropos dump that responsibility on me. The very thought stripped my nerve endings raw. Maybe it wouldn’t come to that. With any luck, Atropos would keep me on demon detail until I’d fulfilled my contract with her.

The noise in the bookstore clashed with my need for some quiet time, so I took my latte outside and planted my backside at an out-of-the-way table. Spring scents curled through the air, twisted in the breeze and stole the fragrance of my brew before it hit my nostrils. I’d killed my demon-for-the-day, but kept a wary eye out for any sign of hell spawn. Not that there was a limit. Demonkind has a habit of tossing surprises into the mix, and—
“There’s no telling what they’re gonna hit you with.”

“You know I hate when you finish my thoughts, Merritt. Where are you anyway?”

“Close. Be there in a few. Something bad is coming, McKenna, and it’s giving me the heebs.”

“Yeah. I’m twitchy, and it can’t be that last demon. It was easy. Hey, maybe that’s what’s wrong. The kill was too easy.” The wind caught my hair, blowing loose strands across my face. Time to re-do the braid. Probably I should cut my hair off and go with an ultra short, slayer-friendly do, but it was my best feature, black in the shadows, changing to a rich, dark red in the sunlight. My only comment-worthy feature. The rest of me was plain ordinary Jane. Except for the skin, but that didn’t count because it was a gift from the Fates.

“You’ve had easy kills before.” Mer was back in my head. “Time is like rippling around that Nathan guy, and Shea’s been way too quiet. I’m thinking he’s vulnerable for demon possession because of the glitch in his creation.”

Merritt had a point, and the jeebs were making my skin bumpy. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Nothing could actually change the smooth surface of my outer layer. “Shea Ang.” I gave her a telepathic shout.

She appeared in front of me, a sparkling outline against the clear blue sky. She was the only one of us who could do that—manifest herself wherever. It was her gift from the Fates, like my super skin and Merritt’s ultra fast reflexes.
Shea is all prissy-like with straight silver blonde hair that hits her backside, delicate features and dark blue eyes. When she gets mad they turn purple, and right now they were running at a pale indigo. “What is it, McKenna? Y’all have got work and so do—geezo freak-ing Pete! Behind you.”

I swiveled around, calling my blade to me in mid-pivot. My hair, freed from the braid, whipped across my face blinding me. I caught the thick waves, yanking them away from my eyes a split second before the demon dropped out of the Douglas Fir and landed in front of me. The scent of crushed evergreen needles bit into the air and mingled with the stench of demon. It looked to be early teens, maybe fourteen, with eyes glowing red hot. It lunged, wrapped its arms around my knees and brought me to the ground with a jarring thud. So not graceful. Talons curled from the ends of its fingers, and the pressure of the sharp points against the sensitive area behind my knees sent a flash of pain flickering over my skin. Super skin or not, I still felt stuff.

I grabbed a handful of its silky red curls, twisted them into my fist and jerked its head back. My blade found the sweet spot at the base of its neck, barely needing a push from me to sever the lifethread. I threw the carcass to the side, and wedged myself up between the dead body and the back of the wooden bench. It was creepy, how this demon looked so young. Wrong, even in the sick world of demonkind. They have exactly one year to possess a teen, from the hour of birth on the day of his or her seventeenth birthday until the exact same hour on their eighteenth birthday. Any more of a window and I’d lose more than I saved. But this one couldn’t have been seventeen.

“That’s two in an hour, McK. And it totally ruined your sweater.”

“Huh? My…dammit.” I brushed at the mess. “Grass and coffee. No point in even trying to clean it.”

Shea’s eyes had gone black, the only part of her still visible. “It was too young.”

“It couldn’t be. Demons have rules. You know that.” I did burial duty so Shea would stop staring at the body.

Merritt chose that moment to stroll up next to us and twitched her hips just enough to raise her denim mini skirt to a whisper below indecent. “Don’t corrupt our Shea. She’s the good priestess, completely innocent of destiny and death.”

“Whatever. We have a problem what with that being the second demon I’ve killed this morning. And you’re right, Mer, it has something to do with Nathan. His skin, when I touched him, something wasn’t right. I—”

“It’s me.” Shea shimmered, almost blinked out. “Clotho assigned me to finish Nathan’s creation because ‘something came up,’ and I must have screwed it up somehow.”

“The how of that would be good to know.” I picked up my empty, mangled coffee cup and dumped it in the trash, then stowed my blade and faced my sisters. “Nathan is human. Mostly. Isn’t that right, Shea?”

“I’m not sure.” She twisted her fingers into a knot, and started to fade out again.

“Hey, don’t fade. Do my braid, would you? It needs to be really tight if demons are gonna be dropping out of trees today.” If I kept her busy she wouldn’t disappear and I’d have a better chance of figuring out the details of Nathan’s creation.

Shea went to work on my hair. Merritt planted herself in front of us, demanding attention. “Like McKenna was saying before the demon intruded, we are in a heap of trouble. And it feels like Atropos is gonna call her in…like right now.”

And there I was. Facing Atropos with ugly brown and green stains on my white sweater, hair half braided, and water for knees.

I don’t have a clue how Atropos manifests her corporeal form to anyone else, but to me she’s crazy gorgeous. All that Ouranian love she carries shines through her skin and lights up whatever space she’s in.

But then there’s the part of her that makes my nerves wince. The scary part. First off, pure love isn’t about being nice. At least not for Atropos. And then there’s the bit about the scissors she uses to cut the lifethread, the ones attached to the golden belt holding her classic white gown in place. Those scissors equal instant death, and they’re made from the same magick as my blade. Freaky scary when I’m not the one in control of the weapon.

“McKenna Fin.” My name wafted on the air currents surrounding us, echoed and then faded into eternity.

I laid my blade across my heart and bowed. “Good wishes, Atropos.”

“It is the day of your fiftieth anniversary in service to me. Do you know what that means?” The warm silky notes of her voice swirled around me, mesmerizing in their intensity.

Did I? Had anyone ever told me? Merritt was the oldest of us, and the only thing different about her was—oh. Oh, no. Merritt had humans of her own. Not just demons, but actual living, breathing people who did things. Like graduated from college, and got married, and had kids—people with destinies. My skin lost its luster. I’m positively certain that I turned into a ghost right there in front of Atropos.
“Ah, I see that you are beginning to understand the responsibility that will now rest upon your shoulders. From this day forth, McKenna Fin, you will be asked to cut the lifethreads of the humans who are assigned to your care.”

“Kill people? Not demons?” My heart thumped in my chest like a drummer on diet pills.

“Yes, however we of Ourania do not refer to it as killing in the same sense that humankind does. We are benevolent. All of our work is done within the essence of pure love, and we free souls so they may experience the purity of that love. We are responsible to universal law.”

Goody-goody words. Creepy, and so like nothing that actually happens on Earth. “How do I know—”

“You are blessed with free will, just as all children of the Earth, and of Ourania are. It is your choice how to make the cut, how to wield your blade to best benefit your human responsibility.”

“So if I can choose when—”

“There is a window of time available to you. You must not allow your first human assignment to exist beyond his seventeenth year on Earth.”

Or what? He’d spoil. Like moldy cheese? Atropos lips twitched into a quirk that came alarmingly close to a smile. She couldn’t hear my thoughts. Surely she couldn’t. Only Merritt and Shea could do that. Fear snaked through me and bit down hard. I shoved all snarky thoughts out of my head.

“Do you understand, McKenna Fin?”

“No. Nope, don’t understand. You expect me to go around whacking people like some kind of serial killer? And I have to decide when it’s a good time to do them in? No. That isn’t gonna work for me.” My stomach clenched and I swallowed bile. Do not puke in front of Atropos. Breathe. “I don’t want the whole life and death thing on my conscience. Very uncool, and so not my thing. Now, demons? I get that. No problem there at all. Show me some red eyes and I’ll eliminate the sons of bi…ah, evil. I’ll eliminate that kind of evil lickity split.”

“Yes. The number of demons that cross your path will become more intense as you age and gain experience, and you will be required to protect your human from them until it is time to sever the lifethread. But your responsibility is one of reverence for human life. You would not keep someone in your care from experiencing Ourania, would you?”

The warmth and silk in her voice were gone. Atropos had changed her tone to a rough grumble, and I finally got the whole cliché about Catholic schools and nuns with rulers. Caught between human beliefs and my knowledge of Ourania, I cracked under the guilt.

I looked beyond Atropos, and across the boundary separating us from the crystalline brilliance of Ourania. Peace incarnate. Perfect love. And I caved. “No, I couldn’t do that, but—”

“There must be no doubt when you use the blade, lest that doubt follow the human into eternity.”

Bad. Very, very bad. I tossed my hands up, totally frustrated with her inability to understand. “Don’t you get it? I can’t just go around killing people. It’s against human law.”

This time she did smile. “I believe that if I had spoken those words to you, your response would be ‘Can you get any more lame, Atropos?’ You are not committing murder, but carrying out the wisdom of the universe.”

Caught. Trapped, and I hated it. Claustrophobia of the soul. Who knew? “And if I can’t do it?”

“Then you will never earn the right to become completely human. Your form, as it is, will reside in limbo for all eternity. It is not a fate I would wish on you.”

She got that one right and it sucked big time. Anger zipped along my nerves, and I fought to stomp it down. Later. I could be pissed later when I was safely back on Earth.

More than anything I longed to be human, to live life. Don’t get me wrong, immortality has its props when you’re one of the Fates, or a goddess, or whatever. But it’s a curse when you’re an apprentice. Forever stuck in high school doesn’t cut it. Not in my world. “Okay, got it. No choice on the cutting-the-thread gig, but free will on the how and when—within limits. What’s next?”

“Your first assignment is the human, Nathan Quinn.”
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Lifethread March 2011

Lifethread: Mistake April 2011

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


One of the first things done when editing a manuscript is to look for over used words. Usually this means looking for passive words such as was, to be, that, etc. No one mentions the overuse of pronouns, but they can be just as repetitive and overused.

See the example in this paragraph:
It'd been three hours since she'd discovered Patrick's body. Three hours since she'd given her statement to the officer. Three hours since she'd been released from the scene. Three hours since she had seen Josh. She rubbed her upper arms and paced back and forth. The initial shock had worn off, but the chill pervaded deep inside. She had done her exercises to relieve tension. Several times she had been tempted to go out and just run. 10 pronouns.

 Some pronouns can be eliminated by restructuring/ rewriting the sentences.

This is the new example:
It'd been three hours since she discovered Patrick's body. Three hours since giving a statement to the officer. Three hours since being released from the scene. Three hours since she had seen Josh. Josh.. Rae rubbed her upper arms and paced, wondering if a hole was wearing in the new carpet. The initial shock had worn off but the chill pervaded deep inside. She'd tried exercises. They didn't relieve the tension. Several times, she had been tempted to go out and just run. Run until this whole awful thing became a fog--something that had happened to someone else. But no, she was an adult. Adults didn't run. 6 pronouns

What are some of your crutch words? Would you have rewritten this scene in a different way?

Monday, May 9, 2011


By Ruby Johnson

If you like this post, please share your tips when you finish reading.

1. Read, read, and read. Decide what kind of story you want to write and then read similar stories. Don't read them once, but five, six, seven times.

2. Take a story apart. Find out what made them tick. How did the writer build suspense? Write the plot in 1,000 words. Outline each chapter. Study emotional scenes. What made them that way? How did the writer feed in background information and character description?

3. Plan your story, then decide your theme (what you're trying to prove in your story). This should be two sentences, or a paragraph at most.

4. Decide your point-of-view. Who is telling the story?

5. Plot or cast your story. You can begin with either a main character, or a situation. Either way is fine, the important thing is having someone facing a problem they can't handle.

6. Get your main character (hero or heroine) into trouble right off the bat and keep him/her there until the end. The reader wants things to happen immediately. Try to have something happen each page.

7. Plot must be tightly structured to maintain a fast pace in some of the category books. You can't expand as in longer novels.

8. Join a local writer’s group that provides lectures and critiques.

9. Use critiques to improve your writing.

10.Join a national writers organization-i.e. Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, Science Fiction Writers or other writers’ organizations that can put you in touch with authors and agents in the field you want to write.

What tips do you have that might help a beginning writer?

Friday, May 6, 2011


What We Are Saying
Kerrelyn Sparks had a dream of writing historical romance. In 2002, her dream came true when Forge published her first book. For Love or Country garnered two Dorothy Parker Awards—Best Long Historical and Best Debut Author. After that, Kerrelyn began writing paranormal comedy. She now writes  for Avon and has gone on to become a USA Today and a NYT best selling author.

Kerrelyn is a member of the West Houston and Northwest Houston chapters of RWA. You can write to her at P.O. Box 5512, Katy, TX 77491-5512. She may also be contacted through her website and email.
What Others Are Saying
"An absolute delight!" -- Lynsay Sands
"I have long thought of these books as the Stephanie Plum series with fangs!"-- Jenn J, Night Owl Romanc
"The sheer entertainment value in the writing of Kerrelyn Sparks is amazing and well worth reading." -- Delane, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

"Be prepared for some surprises and a lot of laughs." -- Rosie, Fresh Fiction

"For one of the most emotionally satisfying books in the Love at Stake series, I highly recommend Vampire Mine." -- Poppy, Long and Short Reviews 5 books

"Vampire Mine will have readers laughing, crying, and grinning from cover to cover. Sparks combines angels and vampires in a new, clever way that will capture and intrigue readers from the moment they open the book." -- Katie Ouderkirk, Suite 101

Back Cover Blurb
Book # 10 in the Love at Stakes series
Nothing on earth can make this vampire fall in love.
After 499 years of existence, Connor Buchanan has arrived at an inescapable conclusion: he is a cold-hearted bastard. He's been watching his friends-those poor romantic fools-plummet off the cliff into love like a dazed herd of sheep. But not Connor. He knows that love leads to nothing but heartache.
Until Marielle.

Vampire Mine


After four hundred and ninety-nine years of existence, Connor Buchanan arrived at an inescapable conclusion regarding himself. He was a coldhearted old bastard.

He slowed to a walk after checking the extensive grounds at Romatech. He’d enjoyed zipping through the trees at vampire speed with the cool breeze whipping at his face and filling his nostrils with the heady scent of newly budded leaves and flowers. But then he’d realized why he welcomed the coming of spring. Not for the warmer temperatures. Not for the promise of rebirth and renewal, since he would remain the same as he’d been for centuries. No, to be brutally honest with himself, it was the shorter nights he was looking forward to. That meant longer days and more death-sleep. More time spent in utter oblivion. No thoughts. No memories. No remorse.

The main building at Romatech Industries came into view, and he slowed his pace even more, struck by a sudden reluctance to reenter the facility. More and more these days, he preferred to be alone.

Why bother with companions? Was there any conversation he hadn’t already experienced a dozen or more times? And if he even hinted at the black despair that threatened to engulf him, he would only receive knowing looks from other Vamps as they doled out the usual diagnosis. He was nearing his five hundredth birthday, and apparently, hitting that mid-millennium marker could plunge the most stalwart of Vamps into a mid-life crisis.

Bull crap. Roman and Angus were both older than him, and they were content with their lives. They’re happily married. He shoved that thought aside. He wouldn’t fall prey to that form of insanity, no matter how old he got.

No, he was fine with being a coldhearted old bastard. He was good at it. He’d been perfecting the condition for years. He strode through a flowerbed, trampling the new blossoms underfoot.

At the side entrance, he slid his ID card through the security console and pressed his palm against the scanner. When his ultrasensitive hearing detected the faint click of the lock releasing, he pushed open the side door and trudged down the hall to the MacKay security office.

His footsteps echoed in the empty hallway. No one came to Romatech on Saturday night except those who attended Mass on the far side of the facility.

He let himself into the security office and scanned the wall of surveillance monitors. Parking lot clear. Corridors empty. Cafeteria empty. Heart empty. He pushed aside that errant thought and focused on the screen showing the chapel.

Out of habit, he searched the small congregation to make sure Roman and his family were all right. Connor had been officially watching over Roman for more than sixty years now as a MacKay S&I employee, first as head of security at Romatech, and in recent years as personal bodyguard. Since Roman Draganesti was the inventor of synthetic blood and the owner of Romatech where it was produced, he presented a tempting target for the Malcontents who considered synthetic blood an insult and threat to their murderous way of life.
But the hatred went deeper than that. Casimir had been the one to transform Roman back in 1491. The Malcontent leader had thought it would be an amusing slap at the face of God to turn a humble monk into a bloodthirsty, homicidal vampire. But Roman had refused to turn evil. He’d made his own group of good Vamps, so they could fight the Malcontents and protect humanity.

Connor was dying on a battlefield when Roman changed him. He owed his existence to Roman. And his sanity. Keeping Roman and his family safe gave him a noble purpose, noble enough to almost make him forget what a coldhearted old bastard he truly was.

He watched on the monitor as Father Andrew gave his final blessing, and the congregation moved from the chapel into the hallway. Connor’s heart squeezed at the sight of Roman’s children, Constantine and Sofia. They were as close as he’d ever get to having children. Tino had celebrated his fifth birthday last month in March, and Sofia would be turning three in May. He touched the screen that showed them prancing about the hallway. Having to sit still during Mass must have left them with pent-up energy that was now bursting free. He smiled as they skipped into the nearby fellowship hall, no doubt eager for punch and cookies. Their mortal mother, Shanna, gave Roman a quick hug, then chased after the children.

Connor’s smile faded as he watched his Vamp friends emerging from the chapel, nearly all of them with a wife at his side. Most of the men had succumbed to the silken trap of love. Poor romantic fools. How could they remain single for centuries, then out of the blue, one after another, plummet off the cliff like a dazed herd of sheep? Not only had they made themselves personally vulnerable to the heartache and despair that came with love, but they endangered the entire vampire world as more and more mortal women learned of their existence.
The men seemed happy enough for now. Ignorance was bliss, Connor supposed. They didn’t see the risk. They didn’t feel the cold shadow of doom hovering just outside their gilded cage. They had no idea how love could drive a man to commit desperate, unthinkable acts, destroying his own soul along the way.

He turned his head and focused instead on the monitor that was playing the Digital Vampire Network. A black animated bat flapped its wings while underneath a message announced: DVN. On 24/7 because it’s always nighttime somewhere.

The Nightly News came on, so Connor turned off the mute button.

“One last item.” Stone Cauffyn picked up a piece of paper that had been pushed across his desk. “A Vamp in Los Angeles believes he saw Casimir several nights ago.” The newscaster scanned the paper, his face blank as usual. “I’m afraid we cannot confirm the report at this time.”
Connor snorted. Last week, a Vamp claimed he’d seen Casimir paddling an outrigger canoe in Bora Bora, and the week before, someone swore he’d spotted Casimir milking a reindeer in northern Finland. The leader of the Malcontents had become the bogeyman of the vampire world, spied behind every tree and whispered about in dark rooms.

“And that concludes our broadcast for the night,” Stone continued with his bland voice. “For all the latest news on the vampire world, keep your televisions tuned to DVN, the world’s leading vampire network.”

Not a stellar achievement considering it was the world’s only vampire network. Connor muted the volume as the ending credits began to roll.

He glanced back at the monitor showing the hallway in front of the chapel. Most of the congregation was moving into the fellowship hall. Father Andrew appeared to be in deep conversation with Roman, who was solemnly nodding his head. They shook hands, then Roman proceeded into the fellowship hall while the priest walked toward the foyer, his leather briefcase in hand. He was leaving earlier than usual.

Connor switched his attention back to DVN. A commercial had started for Vampos, the after-dinner mint guaranteed to get rid of blood breath. A handsome male Vamp, dressed in an expensive tuxedo, slipped one of the mints into his mouth, then kissed his date, who, oddly enough, was dressed in a skimpy bikini in the dark in the middle of Central Park. On horseback. A likely scenario, Connor thought with a wry twist of his lips, although his gaze did linger over the woman’s curvaceous body.

Bugger. How long had it been? Thirty years? Fifty? Too damned long if he couldn’t even remember. No wonder he was a coldhearted old bastard.

Gregori, who always kept a roll of Vampos in his coat pocket, was constantly nagging Connor to go with him to the vampire nightclubs. Apparently, his plaid kilt and Scottish accent would make him an automatic “babe magnet.” There was a multitude of “hot chicks,” as Gregori called them, who wanted to relieve the boredom of immortality with a night of screaming wild sex. Gregori claimed it was their manly duty to keep all those Vamp women happy.

So far, Connor had declined. Attempting to cure his loneliness with a long line of faceless, nameless, desperate, undead women didn’t seem appealing. Or very honorable. Hypocrite, a small voice in the back of his mind needled him. Who are ye fooling, pretending to be a man of honor? Ye know what ye did.

He struck the voice down and glanced back at the surveillance monitors. Father Andrew had reached the foyer, and he set his briefcase on the table where Phineas had checked it earlier in the evening. As a safety precaution, all items brought into Romatech had to be searched.

The priest had left his overcoat on the table earlier, but instead of putting it on and heading out the front door, he strode across the foyer into the hallway on the left. Connor frowned, wondering what the old priest was up to. The hallway was empty except for...
“Bugger,” Connor whispered as the priest marched straight toward the MacKay security office.

He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t here. With a groan, he pushed back a long strand of hair that had escaped the leather tie at the nape of his neck while he’d been running about the grounds.

He opened the door and stepped into the hallway. “Can I help you, Father?”

The priest smiled. “Connor, good to see you again.” He shook hands, then peeked inside the office. “Fascinating. I’ve never seen this room before. May I?”
Connor motioned for him to enter, then followed him inside.
Father Andrew pivoted, scanning the office. His eyebrows rose at the sight of all the weapons in the caged-off area in the back. He turned toward the wall of surveillance monitors. “I wanted to let you know how much we appreciate you keeping us safe during Mass.”

Connor inclined his head. It wasn’t an idle compliment. The Malcontents had tried bombing the chapel before. With Roman in attendance, along with Angus MacKay and other high-profile members of the bottle-drinking Vamp world, they were practically begging for an attack.
The priest gestured to the screen showing the chapel. “So you were still able to watch the service?”

“Aye.” Connor didn’t admit that he’d kept the volume turned off. “I wasna here all the time. I did four perimeter checks.”

“You’re very vigilant,” Father Andrew said with the hint of a smile. The silver fringe of hair surrounding his bald crown indicated an advanced age, yet his clear blue eyes and smooth skin lent him an oddly youthful and innocent appearance. “Roman and his family are fortunate to have you.”

Connor shifted his weight. “Roman is verra important.”

The priest’s smile widened. “You are all important in the eyes of the Lord. I was wondering why you volunteer to guard us every week. Surely you could take turns with the other men? I haven’t seen you at Mass for months now.”

Connor winced inwardly. He should have known this was coming.

“I’m concerned about you,” the priest continued. “Perhaps it’s my imagination, but I feel like you’ve grown more isolated and...unhappy in the last few years. Roman agrees—-”

“Ye talked to Roman about me?” Connor snapped.

The priest’s eyes widened, but he remained quiet until Connor felt a twinge of guilt for raising his voice.

“Roman tells me you’re approaching your five hundredth birthday,” Father Andrew said in a soothing tone. “I’ve heard that can cause feelings of depression or--”

“Bull crap.”

“Or anger,” the priest finished his sentence with a pointed look. “In your case, I fear you’re shutting yourself off from your friends, which will result in you feeling even more alone. What do you think, Connor? Do you feel isolated?”

Not isolated enough since he was forced to endure this conversation. He shoved the annoying strand of hair behind his ear. “’Tis no’ the same any more. All the men are getting married.”

“I heard that you disapprove of their relationships.”

Connor shot him an irritated look. “’Tis no’ that I want them to be lonely and miserable. They just doona see the risk they’re taking. There’s nothing more important to vampires than keeping our existence a secret. That has been our top priority for centuries, and they’re foolishly flaunting it.”

“They’re in love.”

Connor snorted.

“You don’t believe in love?”

Connor grimaced as if he’d been poked with a spear. Oh, he believed in love all right. Love was a bitch.

Father Andrew watched him closely. “There’s no need to feel alone, Connor. You could come to Mass with your friends and take Holy Communion.”

The wily priest was going for the jugular. Connor was purposely avoiding Communion. He’d been raised to believe he would have to go to confession first.

Father Andrew slipped on his reading glasses and removed a Day-Timer from his coat pocket. “I’d like to set up an appointment with you.”

“I’m busy.”

The priest ignored that remark as he thumbed through the pages. “Roman would give you the time off.”

“No thanks.”

“How about next Thursday evening at nine? I could meet you here.”


With his hand resting on an open page of his Day-Timer, Father Andrew peered over the rims of his reading glasses. “I’ve been a priest for over fifty years. I can tell when a man is in need of confession.”

Connor stepped back, his jaw clenched. “I confess nothing.”
Father Andrew removed his glasses and fixed his blue eyes on Connor with a hard stare. “You won’t scare me away. I will fight for you.”
A chill crept over Connor’s skin. The fight had been lost centuries ago.

The priest closed his Day-Timer with a snap and stuffed it into his coat pocket. “I assume you fought in the Great Vampire War of 1710? And until Roman invented synthetic blood in 1987, you survived by feeding off humans?”

Connor folded his arms across his chest. So in lieu of a confession, the priest was attempting an interrogation.

“I’ve learned a great deal about your world in the last five years.” Father Andrew slid his glasses back into his chest pocket. “I seriously doubt there is anything you could tell me that I haven’t heard before.”

He was wrong about that. Connor motioned toward the door to indicate that the meeting was over.

A hint of amusement glinted in the priest’s eyes. “You’re a man of few words. I like that.” He took one last look around the room, and his gaze fell on the screen showing DVN. “That woman looks familiar. Wasn’t she the one who tried to wreak havoc on Jack’s engagement party?”

Connor glanced at the monitor, which displayed a close-up of a woman whose bright red lips were twisted into a smug smile. “That’s Corky Courrant. She hosts the show Live with the Undead.”

“So this is the vampire channel?” The priest stepped closer. “I’ve never seen it before.”

Connor sighed. The old man seemed fascinated with anything from the vampire world. Along the bottom of the screen, a message announced that Corky was about to interview her mystery guest. Corky quivered with excitement as the camera moved back and the shot widened.

Connor’s jaw dropped. “Bloody hell!” He leaped toward the screen and punched the buttons to record and turn up the volume.

“—reached the pinnacle of my journalistic career,” Corky said, motioning to her guest. “It is an honor to have you on my show, Casimir.”
Father Andrew gasped. “That’s Casimir?”

Connor zipped over to the desk and hit the alarm button that emitted a sound too high-pitched for human ears. The Vamps and shifters in the fellowship hall would hear it and rush to the office within seconds.

Connor glanced down at the dagger in his knee sock while he reached overhead to make sure his claymore was in place. “Tell them I went to DVN,” he told the priest, then teleported away.

If you like this post, share a comment with Kerrelyn.

Her books may be purchased at the following locations: / / / Powells / Fictionwise

Other books in the Love at Stake series

1.How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

2.Vamps and the City

3.Be Still My Vampire Heart

4.The Undead Next Door

5.All I Want for Christmas is a Vampire

6.Secret Life of a Vampire

7.Forbidden Nights with a Vampire

8.The Vampire and The Virgin

9.Eat, Prey, Love

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