Feb 252011
 

Witches Anonymous, Step 3

In this continuing novella series, as reformed witch Amy Atwood wrestles with completing the third step of Witches Anonymous—turning her will over to a higher power—she’s counting the days to her six-month magic-free anniversary. However, when Gabriel steals half her soul, claiming she’s cast a spell on him to keep him from returning to Heaven, the odds of her sticking to her magic-free oath shrink. He demands she break the spell keeping him Earth-bound…or he’ll kill her and damn her soul for eternity.

But Amy’s not about to go down without a fight. Having once been the Devil’s right hand witch, her soul’s already bound for Hell, and while Gabriel now owns half, the other half belongs to Lucifer…and Amy knows exactly how to use Luc to stop Gabe.

While Amy will do anything—outside of using magic—to reunite the halves of her soul, the powers of good and evil also control her free will. As she works to uncover the real witch behind the spell holding Gabriel prisoner, she finds herself back in Lucifer’s arms…and her Witches Anonymous goal spinning further and further out of reach.

The next thing I knew, Lucifer’s voice was waking me. I’d lost consciousness somewhere along the line. “Amy? Can you hear me?”

Gabriel was gone. Luc’s hands felt like hot brands on my chilled skin as he grasped my shoulders and gave a gentle shake. “Open your eyes, witch. Look at me.”

“Don’t.” The shaking made my ribs rub against each other. “Hurts.”

He stopped, and as he leaned over, the heat of his body warmed me to a crisp. I cracked one eye open and looked into his face. His brows were knit together in a deep scowl but his eyes were filled with concern. “What the hell did you do to Gabriel?”

What had I done to Gabriel? What the hell had he done to me? Taking a hesitant breath, I grimaced at the fire in my chest cavity. My voice came out breathy and rough. “Noth…ing.”

“Gabriel doesn’t kill humans over nothing.”

My brain continued floating in fog. I caught myself mesmerized by Luc’s jet black hair, hard jaw line and full lips. He was so handsome, and not just to me, to everyone. To me, he was more than unabashed good looks, though. I’d loved him for seven years. Given him my soul. We’d shared a history no one on Earth would ever understand. Or experience.

I laid a hand on his arm. “You fought him for me.”

Luc’s eyes narrowed, watching me closely. His head tilted as he sized me up, surmised I was loony, and shook his head. He glanced up at the cracked tile overhead. “How hard did you hit your head?”

The first time Gabriel and I mixed it up, I’d also whacked my head and woken up in Eden—the original Eden, complete with beautiful gardens, animals, and a sin-free policy. Fun place to visit. Wouldn’t want to live there.

Glancing around, I made sure I was still in the fire station’s locker room. Fluorescent lights, cracked tile, leaky shower head. Everything seemed normal. “My head is fine. The rest of me, not so much.”

Lucifer’s gaze went to the spot between my breasts where Gabe’s fist had been planted. He swallowed hard, but his eyes didn’t stray, which I appreciated, and he glanced back up at me as if to ask permission. I nodded, hating myself for being willing to let the Devil lay his hands on me in order to get rid of the pain, but there it was. I’d do anything to get Luc’s hands on me.

Wait, that wasn’t right. My brain backpedaled. To feel better, I corrected myself.

The pain eased the instant his hand touched my chest, and whatever damage Gabe had done began to heal. For several minutes, neither of us spoke, my head, still not functioning at full capacity, filling with memories of Luc’s hands on other parts of my body. A flush pervaded my skin, heating it, and more memories flashed across my mental landscape. Happy times. Satisfying times. Lust and sex and love all wound up and permeated with the magic only Luc could spin.

I wasn’t the only one feeling the heat. Luc’s eyes sparked with a familiar, devious glint, his body relaxing into his normal confident self. “Better?”

The cavity in my chest disappeared, the pain with it. My breathing returned to normal, if a little fast and shallow, thanks to the inappropriate sensations coursing through my body.

Although all appeared to be healed, however, my chest cavity felt lighter, emptier than it had a few minutes prior. “Yeah, I think so.”

Luc helped me up and handed me the towel rather reluctantly. “Was Gabriel really trying to kill you?”

After securing the towel, I rubbed the vacant-feeling spot, hoping the weird empty sensation would stop. All it did was trigger a ripple of goose bumps over my bare skin and a renewed sense that something was out of place. As in literally gone. “He accused me of casting a spell on him. Wanted me to reverse it. When I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about, he got pissed.”

Luc lifted one eyebrow in question. “And?”

“And what?”

Luc inspected the cracked tiles again and then the back of my head as if unconvinced I was tracking right yet. “Did you?”

I jerked away and a wave of dizziness almost toppled me. “You mean, did I cast a spell on him? Of course not. I’m two days and a few hours away from making my six-month magic-free anniversary. I’m certainly not going to jeopardize that with spellcasting. Besides why would I cast a spell on Gabriel?”

Luc laid a hand on the tile behind my head and leaned in close. The heat coming off his body hit me in waves. As another chill swept through me, I fought the urge to snuggle up to Luc’s warm body. Every cell, every muscle, every bone wanted to press against him.

Luc narrowed his eyes as his gaze stopped on the hand rubbing the spot between my breasts. “Are you still in pain?”

“Not pain.” The sensation was hard to describe. “Just…empty. Like there’s a hole in my chest.”

The showerhead let go a series of rapid drips and all the muscles in Luc’s body tensed.

His gaze scanned me from head to foot, hyperaware, as if he were searching for something. “A hole.” It was said in an unemotional way, but all his nonverbal intensity made the warning bells in my head ring like Immaculate Conception calling me to prayer.

“Probably nothing.” I forced a smile, stopped rubbing the spot, and took a step to the side. “Anyway, it’s over. Hopefully he won’t be back.”

“Oh, he’ll be back,” Luc said, staring again at my chest, although not in his usual, rakish manner.

“Why is that?”

He straightened and lightly touched the spot with the tips of his fingers. “Because, Amy, he took a piece of your soul.”

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Misty has a fun NAME A WITCH Contest (with BIG PRIZES) for her next Witches Anonymous book! Be sure to check it out. For her DRAGON BLUES release party giveaway, she’s offering either WICKED SOULS or the first novella of the series, WITCHES ANONYMOUS to a lucky commenter.

Comment on all 26 DRAGON BLUES Release Party excerpts for a chance to win more free books! Winners will be announced on Monday, Feb. 28. If you’d like to look at the schedule of events, click here.

Feb 252011
 

Have you ever wanted something so badly it hurts?

Annie Jacobs has dreamed of the day she would become a mother since the first time she held her Baby Tenderlove doll. Unfortunately, biology has not cooperated with her plan, and she finds herself dealing with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility instead of picking out baby names.

Across town, stay-at-home mom Sarah Anderson is just trying to make it through the grocery store without her toddler hurling a box of rice at a fellow shopper. She is exhausted from managing the house, a first grader and a toddler, all without any help from her work-obsessed, absentee husband.

When Annie and Sarah meet through a Classics Book Club, each thinks the other one’s life is so much better than her own. But is the grass truly greener on the other side of the fence?

At 35 years old, Sarah Anderson discovered something quite shocking. She had Attention Deficit Disorder – she didn’t get any. Men saw right through her, slightly noticing the children she was usually toting about – one hanging on her leg and one in her arms – but quickly dispelling her, as if the kids were somehow suspended in mid-air, like receivers on Monday Night Football. She wasn’t sure if she had made this correlation herself or had seen it as a joke on the comedy channel, but what did her sleep-deprived brain know anyway?

As she neared the end of the grocery store aisle, her cart came to a screeching halt, barely missing the man wearing a business suit and cell phone who just cut in front of her. He continued his conversation, rolling over her foot as he passed.

“I’m in an all-day meeting on Monday. How’s Tuesday look?”

“Asshole,” she whispered, hoping her son would not hear. “C’mon, Alex. Let’s get this over with.”

The toddler was playing his favorite shopping game, throwing things from the cart at passersby. Alex had a small box of rice in his hands. Sarah mistakenly thought shaking it might amuse him, but instead the little guy was ready to chuck it at the pink-babushkaed head of an octogenarian when Sarah turned around from choosing a linguine. Spotting the just-released rice, she leapt across the aisle, caught it on the fly and tossed it in the basket. Alex cried at being thwarted. Sarah smiled, only to be admonished by the pink-scarved lady for not knowing how to keep her child quiet in the store.

“These kids nowadays. They run the show, not the parents.” The little woman, oblivious to her near-miss, pushed her cart past Sarah’s, who stared in shock as the pink head became lost in the crowd of shoppers. Alex cried louder. Sarah gave him some fish crackers and continued on.

At last, they were finished and headed for the check out lanes. “Hey! Record time. You were a pretty good boy in the grocery store. Mommy really appreciates that.” Sarah kissed her son on the check. Alex responded by smiling and slapping her in the face.

Reprinted from A Whisper to a Scream by Karen Wojcik Berner, Copyright © Karen Berner, 2006

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Feb 252011
 

Musician Tempest Moon knew the world was a rough place. Raised in the inner city of Detroit, the only way to succeed was to be smarter – and tougher – than the next guy. Being a sexy, talented singer/lead guitar player with her own band was her way of being in charge of her destiny. Whether anyone else liked it, or not.

Tempest’s band was gigging in yet another downtown dive. The club was almost empty due to the arrival of the worst blizzard the city had seen in a century. With one more set to play before she and the band could escape the smoky lounge, a mystery man walked in. Even dripping wet from the relentless onslaught, Tempest could tell the man was unusual. If only because he was the most gorgeous male specimen she’d ever seen. But he was a little pale.

Malveaux had ducked into the bar to avoid having to kill anymore of the worthless minions set upon him by the local vampire territory boss. Under most circumstances, he’d have enjoyed tracking the idiots, and tearing their hearts out. He’d learned long ago to take pleasure in his work. But Malveaux wasn’t dealing with usual circumstances. A sexual obsession, passed to him by his sire and suddenly overwhelming, had changed all the rules of the game. He knew if he didn’t find an “offspring” – a female to serve his needs – he’d go mad.

When he laid eyes on the charismatic musician on stage, he knew he’d found his “child.” She wouldn’t need to know he was an assassin. But she’d find out his deeper secret soon enough when he sank his fangs into the pulsing vein in her neck.

Together they’d take on the human underworld and the undead.

A burst of frigid air hit Tempest as the front door opened, and she gazed at the entrance. She’d hoped a few more customers might brave the sudden ice age to show up for the last set. It sucked to play for nobody. She was disappointed to see only a solitary man step inside. He shook his hair away from his face, sent a shower of melting snow down the walls, and straightened the collar on his coat. The entryway was directly in front of her at the far end of the club, and there were a lot of overhead lights, so she got a good look at the new arrival. Even with his long, dark hair snow-covered, wet, and plastered against his shoulders, she felt her breath catch – and not from the cold air. He had to be the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen. Tall, with light skin and piercing eyes. She appreciated the cut of his leather duster and suspected it was high dollar. What the hell was a fancy number like him doing in a crap hole like this? Maybe he was another one of those mafia jerks. They were always showing up to extort one kind of payment or another.

Hidden in the darkness of the stage, she followed him with her eyes as he strode purposefully to the booth tucked back in the far corner. The bartender, along with every other life form in the smoky room, had gone completely still as the man passed. The newcomer paused next to the booth, removed his coat, then shook it to dislodge the melting snow and ice. A smile spread across Tempest’s face as she noted the form-fitting leather pants and muscle-hugging, light-colored t-shirt he wore under the expensive coat. It didn’t take much creativity to imagine how it would feel to run her hands over that muscled expanse, but Tempest had creativity and imagination in abundance. So much, that her body stirred in satisfied anticipation of the unexpected possibility that had just magically offered itself for later that night. She would’ve been happy to bounce on Stan again, but as far as men went, new was always better than familiar. She’d learned that the best thing about her looks was being able to pick up any guy she wanted. Pitiful that males were so easily controlled, held hostage by their little heads, but it was just as well, since she so enjoyed being in charge.

She watched the handsome stranger fold himself into the booth, and out of the corner of her eye, she saw Chaz, the bartender, spring from behind the bar. The previously laid-back – read stoned – fellow practically fell over his own feet in his frantic attempt to reach the leather man. He hovered near the booth, wringing his hands, and nodded energetically at whatever the new customer said. Chaz finally pointed toward the pay phone near the shelves of liquor, and speed-walked in that direction, leaving the man alone.

Tempest realized she’d been holding her breath during Chaz’s strange performance. Of course, she’d only met the bartender that day, so she had no idea what his normal behaviors were. But still, the vibe he gave off around the stud muffin was unusual, almost as if he was afraid or something. She could feel the thrum of his anxiety from her observation post. No surprise, really. Most of the businesses in the inner city were mob controlled. Maybe the eye candy in the booth was high-up on the motherfucker feeding chain. She smirked. A lesser woman might take a pass on rolling around with a member of The Family, but she always enjoyed a challenge. None of the assholes had gotten the upper hand with her yet, and she felt confident she could call the shots with this yummy specimen, too.

Tempest watched the leather god for a couple more minutes, trying to guess what drink he’d ordered, but when Chaz returned to the booth, he was empty handed. Gorgeous Guy nodded at Chaz, who slinked away. The mystery man tilted his head back against the wall of the booth and closed his eyes. The movement appeared oddly vulnerable.

The commotion of the other musicians returning from their break surprised her out of her daydream. She couldn’t believe she’d been standing there in the dark for the entire fifteen minutes. She hadn’t even gone for her usual shot of tequila. It was completely out of the ordinary for her to be so intrigued by a man. Usually she just selected a likely candidate during the course of the night, and collected him at the end. Not much pre-boink lust indulgence. Something about this guy was different. Arousing. Dangerous.

Leon, the bass player, eased around her, reconnected the PA, and clicked on the bar’s cheap stage lights. As the dim colors framed her, Tempest saw the man in the booth jerk his head in her direction, predatory eyes locked on hers.

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Feb 252011
 

What if everything you always thought you wanted could be yours simply by saying “I do”? Billionaire Jordon Bennett needs to find a wife, now, to secure his position as CEO of B.H. Holdings. Reed Mohr could use a miracle to help pay for her alternative elder care facility, Potters Woods. Inside and out of the dojo, can these two survive sparring with each other? Find out in SPARRING PARTNERS, an exciting new contemporary romance novel.

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

Finn met Reed at the bottom of the stairs with steaming herbal tea in the oversized mug Jesse had given Reed for Mother’s Day.  A giant squished bug on one side and jagged letters on the other philosophizing, Sometimes you’re the windshield; sometimes you’re the bug.

It was looking like a bug kind of day.

“What’s going on?” Reed asked taking the tea, wishing she’d never let Finn talk her into giving up coffee.  Caffeine, good.  Rooibos, not quite the same kick.

Finn raised her eyebrows and her shoulders.  “Apparently we’re getting a new driveway and wheelchair ramps.”

“I thought we were broke.”

“We are.”

“Then why are we doing this now?  I thought the bank was hounding you for cash since the appraisal came in at less than what we owe.”

“They are.  And ‘we’ aren’t doing anything.”

Reed set her tea down on the hallway table.  It was Charlie’s table from some manor house in England where Shakespeare supposedly wrote something, probably a grocery list.  She grabbed a coaster from the drawer and placed it under the teacup.  The table was hideous, but Charlie loved it.  She wasn’t going to be the one who made rings on the wood.  Charlie would have her polishing it for a year.

“So what’s going on?”

“You asked, and daddy-war-bucks is making it happen.”  Finn looked at her watch.  “Less than twelve hours and Cinderella’s pumpkin is already turning into a gilded carriage.”

“You’re mad at me?  What did I do?”

Finn seemed to crack and she got that worried look in her eyes, like she did when she was sure Reed had just stepped in major doo-doo that wasn’t likely to wash off without leaving remnants of its stink on Reed’s skin.  But it wasn’t until Finn enveloped her in a lavender scented hug that she truly began to worry.  She repeated her question.

“What did I do, Finn?  Please.  Tell me.”

Finn pulled back, tears dampening her clear blue eyes.  “It’s bad, baby-girl,” she said, still holding Reed’s shoulders, making Reed feel small and vulnerable.

“You married a billionaire.”

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Feb 252011
 

“Captivating…alluring and suspenseful. It kept me on edge of my seat.” -Bitten By Books

“The kind of story you can rip through in one day.” -Quills and Zebras

Druid Magick…
Breanne struggles to master her talents and help a handsome stranger retrieve the stolen Bloodstone before it falls into the wrong hands.

Knight Errant…
Ashlon made a vow to bury the Bloodstone, its horrific past and secrets, in the farthest reaches of Ireland.

Fate’s Twisted Course…
Passion binds them but betrayal will test their every belief under an Irish Moon.

Highlander and fantasy lovers alike will swoon for Irish Moon.

“Who are you?” the man asked, sounding so inspired that Breanne returned to his side and touched his cheek.

“Shhh. Rest now. You have a long journey ahead of you.” Then she bent forward and kissed his forehead, giving in to an urge to feel how soft his skin was. Part of her knew she shouldn‟t be so intimate, tender. It took advantage of his vulnerability and compromised trust. A healer walked the fine line of trust with any charge.

But, she didn‟t regret it when her lips pressed his skin, warm, moist with sweat. His hand covered hers on his cheek and then touched her cheek. His fingers trembled. Breanne inched back and lowered her gaze to his. What she saw there startled her. Never before had she seen such intensity, such heat in another‟s eyes.

Breanne leaned her cheek into his palm and searched his eyes. His hot gaze trapped her, spellbound and unable to retreat or progress. She needed to do neither, as he did for her.

His hand slid back and into her hair. She covered his hand with hers, her touch intrigued by the change from stubble to smooth texture. He pulled her gently. His lips caressed hers, a whisper of touch, and his eyes closed. Breanne’s closed as well and the feel of his lips on hers magnified. A dizzying hunger for more took root in Breanne and she pressed her lips onto his, opening her mouth. The hunger grew, spreading through her limbs, down her belly, between her thighs.

A shockwave tingled there when his tongue met hers, soft and warm. He tasted sweet. His lips on hers were so firm but pliant. She gripped his hand and leaned in for more. His tongue swept into her mouth, jolting her with pleasure.

She reveled in this new experience and grew bold. All thought beyond the feel of it, of him, escaped her. She matched his sweep with her own, suckling his lower lip, letting her teeth drag against it, savoring the plump feel.

The tingle warmed, changed, into an ache unlike any she’d ever known. It made her heart beat harder, her breathing feel desperate. She needed something more, craved a satisfaction she could not name but sensed it there in his lips pressing hers, his tongue twining and tormenting her mouth.

His hand stroked her jaw and explored lower, brushing her throat, tickling her collarbone and all the while taking Breanne’s hand with it. She couldn’t let go and as it drew farther and farther down, a strange, wonderful beating of anticipation built in her.

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Find out more about Amber Scott and her books at her website.

One lucky commenter will win an e-copy of IRISH MOON. Comment on all 26 DRAGON BLUES Release Party excerpts for a chance to win more free books! Winners will be announced on Monday, Feb. 28. If you’d like to look at the schedule of events, click here.

Feb 242011
 

As the Union Army prepares to rampage through Georgia, Emily Gardner prepares to flee. She accepts the escort of a handsome soldier, who she later learns is not the man he claimed to be. Jared Hunter is on what he considers an easy mission: kidnap Emily Hunter and take her to her father. Too soon he discovers his necessary deceptions could cost him not only Emily’s love but their very lives.

Emily’s heart thumped, realizing she was about to offer her body, her heart, her very soul to the man she loved. She loved Jared. The startling admission heightened her fears.

Lovers. Could she settle for the relationship without commitment on Jared’s part, knowing that once they reached their journey’s end at Petersburg, Jared would leave and she might never see him again?

Damn her scruples. She’d had commitment once, from Lewis, and where had it left her? Rejected, alone.

Emily extinguished the lamp, closed the door behind her, then padded down the inn’s dimly lit hallway. She stopped. What if Jared no longer wanted her after she’d so thoroughly rejected him?

Before her courage could falter she knocked on his door, but entered before he answered.

Jared’s room was dark, except for the glowing ash on the tip of his cigar. She watched the spot of light glow brighter, then make a long arc of orange between his mouth and knee. He had to be sitting in a chair, in the corner.

“Do you know,” he asked flatly, “the light from the hall seeps right through your nightgown?”

Stung by the lack of emotion in his voice, Emily realized Jared was angry, probably hurt by her rejection. Heavens, she’d come to his room for the express purpose of being seduced, not seducing Jared. Where did a lady begin?

“I’m sorry.”

“Go back to bed, Emily.”

Emily almost turned to obey the command. But she’d come too far to retreat. She closed the door.

“I’d like to stay.”

He took another drag from the cigar. With a sigh, he said, “You can’t sleep in your bed, so you want to use mine.”

Emily resisted the childish urge to stomp her foot. Usually so astute, Jared had chosen this awkward moment to be blindly imperceptive.

“I am trying to say I am willing to share yours.”

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Feb 242011
 

Film lover Barbara Marr is a typical suburban mom living the typical suburban life in her sleepy little town of Rustic Woods, Virginia. Typical, that is until she sets out to find the missing link between a bizarre monkey sighting in her yard and the bone chilling middle-of-the-night fright fest at the strangely vacant house next door. When Barb talks her two friends into some seemingly innocent Charlie’s Angels-like sleuthing, they stumble upon way more than they bargained for and uncover a piece of neighborhood history that certain people would kill to keep on the cutting room floor.

Enter sexy PI Colt Baron, Barb’s ex-boyfriend who would love to be cast as new leading man, filling the role just vacated by her recently estranged husband, Howard. When Colt flies in from out of town to help Barb, events careen out of control and suddenly this mini-van driving mother of three becomes a major player in a treacherous and potentially deadly FBI undercover operation. It’s up to her now. With little time to spare, she and she alone, must summon the inner strength necessary to become a true action heroine and save the lives of those she loves. The question is can she get them out alive before the credits roll?

The sky was black, my toes were numb and I was a lunatic.

Forgetting that our recent October nights had turned colder, I had set out on my mission barefoot.  I had no idea what the thermometer said, but the ice cold brick beneath my unprotected feet told me plenty.  And my worn-thin-through-the-years knit jammies were certainly no match against the biting air.  Evidently I had left my brains in the house along with my shoes and down-filled parka.  Indiana Jones, our orange Tabby, followed me and purred while he rubbed against my legs, offering a tinge of warmth at best.

I squinted into the darkness.  “Three thirty in the morning.  Am I totally insane, Indy?”

“Mew.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

Yes, I’m a grown woman and I talk to my cat.  What’s the big deal?  My cousin Samson the psychiatrist tells the family I’m delusional and should be medicated.  Pshaw I say.  Samson has a psychiatrist of his own as well as a far more disturbing obsession with large farm animals, so I severely doubt his legitimacy.  As long as Indiana Jones talks to me, I’ll keep talking to him.

My name is Barbara Marr.  I’m not a lady coroner, bounty hunter or crime scene investigator.  I don’t fight vampires, werewolves or flesh-eating zombies destined to destroy humanity.  Even worse, I don’t knit, sew, bake gourmet goodies for sweet English ladies or refinish houses then flip them for a profit.  In fact, I lack a veritable encyclopedia of talents and accomplishments.  I have managed to give birth to three children, but when my teenage daughter looks at me like I’m an alien from the planet Freak, I wonder at my parenting abilities.

Then of course there is my marriage.  Not long ago I would have bragged to anyone about our solid bond.  True love.  True fidelity and commitment.  That was before Howard dropped the bomb and moved out.  So perpetuating matrimony can be added to the list of things I don’t do.

When reviewing the list of lifetime achievements for which I am proud, being mother to my three girls sits at the very top, followed by the time I saw Yul Brenner in a convenience store and discreetly let him know he had ketchup on his chin.  He was so thankful that he autographed a bag of Fritos for me.

And most recently I got familiar with the video camera again and shot a music video with my daughters.  We called it Four White Girls Do Madonna. I posted it on You-Tube and got over twenty-five views.  It was very exciting.  Still, I’m not exactly setting the world on fire.

So when Howard left, I decided it was time to resurrect my dream and write about movies.  I love the movies.  Old movies, new movies, musicals, dramas, comedies, westerns, action, science-fiction, and anything starring Meryl Streep.  Some years ago, in between changing diapers and potty training, I had bought a domain name, ChickAtTheFlix.com, with the intention of building a movie review website.  I kept the domain name, but got side-tracked by little things like ear infections, strep throat, pre-school, elementary school and baby number three.  Now, with my life deteriorating before my eyes, the time had come to take the bull by the proverbial horns and start anew.

After putting the girls to bed, I needed a way to keep my mind off Howard.  I plotted and planned a grand design.  The website would contain reviews of current release movies as well as DVD releases of older classics.  I would also have a weekly blog where I waxed enthusiastic on different subjects of the cinema.  Since I had just recently watched a Men of Mystery Film Festival on the Classic Movie Channel, my first blog title would be, “Charlie Chan or Sherlock Holmes?  Whodunnit Better?”

At two a.m., I was too tired to think about the website, but too upset about my marriage to sleep, so I turned on the TV.  Movie fare included The First Wives Club, A Bill of Divorcement, An Unmarried Woman and The Breakup on HBO.  Disgusted, I turned off the TV, turned out the lights and contemplated learning voodoo so I could hex Howard with a festering urinary tract infection.

By three a.m., I had been crying for at least twenty minutes when I heard the rumble of a truck outside my bedroom window.  Suddenly, I had something else to occupy my frazzled mind.  The truck was back at House of Many Bones.

And that was how I ended up outside on a cold, fall night with no shoes on.

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Feb 242011
 

On the run from an intergalactic mob boss, she kidnaps the earthling security expert who helped her. Her plan? Make him forget about tomorrow.

Larissalyia Ashanti, is hiding out on Earth, a barbarian planet unsanctified by the FOW—Federation of Worlds—and on the run from an intergalactic mob boss who plans to use her as leverage to force her magistrate father to clear his criminal record.

Mac, an earthman, witnesses the evidence of aliens when the mob catches up with Lacey. After he helps her fight them off, she does the only thing she can think of—she kidnaps him and takes him with her as she flees Earth. Mac learns the answer to that age old question of whether there’s life out there…in spades. But not only does he have to convince Lacey that his numerous skills are indispensable, he has to find a way into her heart.

The chase is just beginning…and so are the romance, adventure and danger as they cross the universe in search of safety and answers.

Going by the evidence of his eyes, he had a feeling the question of whether mankind was alone in the universe was about to be answered.  No way in hell were those scaley things people in costumes.  Even Hollywood couldn’t have come up with something so bizarre.

Which left only one explanation.

He cocked one eyebrow upward when she didn’t answer.  “Let’s start with something real easy, lady.  You got a name?”

Her chin came up in the same imperial manner he had noticed earlier.  That gesture was beginning to irritate him.  Her regal attitude tried to regulate him to the status of an underling, but he wasn’t falling for it.  The grin he gave her was designed to infuriate.  Going by the frown gathering on her brow, he’d succeeded.

Then he was distracted from his amusement when he noticed something else.  Her eyes were now the color of dark storm clouds.  He was sure she had ice blue eyes.  No … they’d been a pale gray.  He shook his head.  He was a trained observant and he couldn’t even say for sure what her eye color was.  Pitiful, MacNaught.

“Yes, I have a name.”  He again noticed her sing-song manner of speech.  It feathered up and down his spine in a very intriguing way.  Hell, with that voice, he’d listen to her read from a dictionary.

It was steamy and cool at the same time and everything in between.  Sexier than hell.

“It is Larissalyia Sarisekko Ashanti.”

He stared at her for several seconds, dumbfounded.  The way she pronounced her name inserted vowels where he wouldn’t have guessed existed.  He began to laugh.  The movement irritated his back but he ignored it.

“I couldn’t pronounce that on a bet.  I’ll just call you Lacey.”

“You will do no such thing.”

“Look, lady.  It’s late, I’m hurting and I’m really not in the mood to put up with a prima donna.”  With slow deliberation, he stalked her, deliberately exuding intimidation. He was pleased to note she refused to back down.  She had guts, he had to say that for her.  If anything, that stubborn chin came up higher.  This close, he saw that her eyes were no longer gray.  Even has he watched, they bled into a deep brown with reddish specks emerging.

Shit.  No wonder he couldn’t put a color to her eyes.  They changed with her moods!

Before today, Mac would have said he didn’t believe in aliens. Tonight’s events proved him wrong.

Buy the book: Samhain Publishing, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes&Noble, Borders
Find out more about Liz and her books at her website.

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Feb 242011
 

Sacred Secrets is the prequel to award winning, The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery. The story behind the story. Revealing the dark secret hidden of Gavin McAllister that created Jacody Ives.

Jacody Ives had never had to wonder whether evil existed. He was born knowing it was there. A cunning predator, silently stalking its prey. Lurking in the shadows. Waiting. Patiently waiting for the delicate balance to shift. Give it power. Grant it life. Feeding on lies and manipulation. Anger and hate. Growing stronger as it chipped away at the soul. Destroying the light until there was nothing left but the darkness.

Evil attracts evil. He’d heard its call in the nightmare. The girl was dead, but she wanted something from him. “Please. . .”, she whispered. A small prayer in the darkness. Unanswered.

He would answer. There’d never been any other choice for him. Evil knew his name.

“Just put the bags over there.” Katie O’Connor smiled at the young man standing patiently by the door as she took stock of the sparsely furnished cabin. Two bunk beds, a nightstand by each with a rustic door in the middle that she hoped led to a bathroom.

A quick glance told Katie that the left side of the cabin had been reserved for her. At least she hoped her side would be free from the blood-dripping posters and graphic art that was stretched wall to wall on the right side of the room. No wonder the kid was depressed.

Frank Davis set the bags on the bed, glanced around the room and grinned. “Remind me to get the name of your interior decorator. Make sure I don’t hire her.”

With a wave of his hand he was gone.

Katie sat on the bed, once again doubting her judgment in participating in this weekend. She wasn’t even sure how she’d gotten here. Everything since Friday morning was a blur. She stood up, frozen for a moment, not knowing what to do. She wasn’t a counselor. And she knew absolutely nothing about kids. Glancing around the room again she grimaced. And Dr. Arthur was wrong. She had nothing in common with her roommate, except for the fact they were both dying. Katie had lived with that knowledge for a long time. Death was closer now. More of a reality. She should have checked with Dr. Wagner before coming here. She should have . . .

“Welcome to death row.”

Katie whipped around, barely controlling the gasp that was itching its way up her throat. Closing her mouth she quickly averted her eyes from the young woman in the doorway.

The bloody posters and graphic art had not totally prepared her for their owner. Thick ebony hair cut in a pageboy surrounded a stark white face, sable eyes and black lips. A face devoid of emotion. Two days. She was in for two days of Nightmare at Camp Hope, and she was bunking with a pint sized Freddie Kruger.

Katie breathed in a small dose of confidence. She could do this. She handled hundreds of employees every day. Dealt with shady lawyers, stock brokers and politicians. It was only two days. Pasting a smile on her face she stuck out her hand and approached her roommate. “Hi, I’m Katie O’Connor.”

“Oh, crap. You’re one of those.” The wheels of the chair scraped the wood floor as the girl pushed the chair to her side of the room, turned and crossed her arms over her chest. “Don’t bother unpacking. I am not spending the last few days of my life with a perky Pollyanna.”

Katie let her extended hand drop to her side as she again forced her mouth to close. She was beginning to feel like a cartoon character stuck in a bad script. Anger heated her eyes, a deep red flush rising from her neck to her face. Impertinence was something she was not used to. Turning her back on the girl she opened her suitcase and began to unpack muttering to herself.

“Take away the wheelchair and fifteen years and you’re looking at you, Katie. She’s scared. Angry. And damned adamant not to show either one. Remember what that was like, Katie?  Clover needs you. And I think you need her.”

Katie recited Dr. Arthur’s words to herself, angrily tossing clothes into drawers. Clover didn’t need anyone. And Katie certainly didn’t need her. She’d be lucky if she survived the weekend without choking the little monster.

“Hey, I told you, you’re not staying here.”

Katie exhaled slowly. As much as she hated to admit it, Dr. Arthur was right. Survival depended as much on attitude as it did on medication. The rest–well the rest was up to God. She felt the slight tremor in her hands as she placed the diary in the top drawer. Running her fingers over the raised print, remembering how stubborn she’d been, how pissed off at the world. Her “kick them before they kick you” attitude.

She needed that attitude now. If she was going to deal with a twelve year old then maybe she needed to act like one. Closing the drawer she turned around facing Clover.

“And I’m supposed to listen to you why?” Sarcasm dripped from every word. Katie let her gaze slide over the painted face. “Halloween is still three weeks off you know.”

The air in the room vibrated with tension. Each measuring the other. Katie could feel the struggle going on inside Clover. No one had ever challenged her. No one said no to her. She’d expected Katie to pity her. Well, the hell with that. Katie reserved her pity for those who needed it, not those who wanted it.

Katie refused to look away. She was going to win this battle if it killed her. Clover uncrossed her arms, pushed the wheelchair closer to her own bed. “Okay, you can stay.”

Katie made a sound of disgust. “Yeah, I thought so.”

Finished unpacking, she sat down on the bed. The simple task, combined with the emotional strain had robbed her of precious strength. She was going to have to watch her own attitude this weekend. It was always easier for someone to pull you down than it was for you to pull them up. She’d won round one, but it was going to be a long weekend.

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Feb 242011
 

“Love will have its way in this charming tale of opposites attracting.” -Booklist Review

“a fresh voice, an impeccable sense of comedic timing, vivid narrative, and fascinating characters.” -Foreword Magazine

Golden Quill Award for Best First Book

They first meet when he tackles her to the ground. All Persephone Jones was doing was trying to stop the bulldozer from destroying the herb garden she planted on property adjoining hers. But her new neighbor, Jason Brooks, was not only building a beautiful new house, but also a landing strip over her garden. Persephone and Jason couldn’t be more different. He is a well-known, high-powered defense attorney with money to burn. She’s the illegitimate daughter of a flower child, and dispenses wheat-grass smoothies as well as herbal remedies from her modest shop. And neither of them can understand their mutual attraction. In spite of appearances, Persephone doesn’t abide by all hippie principles. For instance, when Jason suggests that they make their relationship more intimate, she demurs. For her sex is an important step, indicating that marriage is on the horizon. He feels differently, but love will have its way in this charming tale of opposites attracting. -Maria Hatton

The set-up: Persephone Jones is the owner of a health-food store Peeler, Oklahoma. She recently had a run-in with her new neighbor, lawyer Jason Brooks.

It was a Saturday, two months later in August when a lively gray-haired lady and her overly-made-up preteen granddaughter came into the shop.

“Let’s just see if they have anything for these stiff hands.” The lady looked up at me with sparking, china blue eyes. Her skin feathered into fine parchment lines. A twinkling expression and fluffy coif of white hair revealed an impish spirit.

“Good morning”, I said. “Would you like a cup of herbal tea?”

“Oh, that would be delightful! How about you, Valerie?”

The granddaughter, Valerie, made a face and rolled her eyes. “Maybe later. What is that weird smell?”

“It’s essential oils. I just finished a massage. That oregano oil is a little stout.” I handed the lady her tea. “I’ll have to diffuse some peppermint and clove to overcome it.”

Valerie wrinkled her nose. “Smells like weeds.”

I opened a vial. “Here, take a whiff of this. It’s much better.”

The girl leaned toward the counter. She was probably about twelve, wearing hair chopped into one of those bobs that spiked out at the neck, supported by lots of hair goo. She had on full foundation, powder, four coats of mascara and sparkly eye shadow. Her clothes hugged her budding little body, and I’m sure she’d have been thrilled if I’d asked her if she was a junior in high school. She gingerly sniffed the bottle.

“Better?” I asked.

“Yeah, but it’s not exactly Heiress from Paris Hilton.”

“No, but did you know essential oils have been used for centuries to heal the sick, bless babies, and make perfume? You’ve heard that the Magi brought the baby Jesus frankincense and myrrh?”

“Yeah,” she eyed me suspiciously.

“Did you ever stop to think what they were?” She shrugged, but I had captured her interest. I pulled two more vials. “This is frankincense, and this is myrrh. Two of the most precious essential oils used throughout history. The oils are like the blood of the plants, full of powerful healing properties.”

She sniffed them. “This is what they brought Jesus? Awesome.”

I turned my attention to the woman, who was watching us with amusement. “Is there something I can help you with?” I asked.

She smiled at me. “Yes, my dear. I wake up with the stiffest hands, and I was just wondering if you’ve got something that might help.”

“We’ve got various formulas to relieve arthritis.” I guided her to that section of the store, and we discussed several alternatives. The granddaughter browsed around, and let her adolescent guard down just a bit.

As I rang the woman up, the front door burst open, and a male voice boomed, “There you are! I’ve been in every antique shop on the block.”

It was my new neighbor, Mr. Brooks. Today, he wore suit pants and a dress shirt, sans a tie that he’d probably tossed due to the sweltering August heat. He looked at the females, jutting out his strong chin. Razor sharp eyes filled with irritation. The store suddenly seemed smaller with him inside.

Valerie spoke up. “Well, if you weren’t on that cell phone all the time, you’d have heard Grandma say we were going to the health food store.”

Grandma finished writing her check. “I did tell you dear, and you even nodded your head, but you weren’t really paying attention.”

Mr. Brooks was paying attention now. To me. He got sort of squinty-eyed and tipped his chin back, trying to place me.

With an exaggerated Okie accent I said, “Howdy neighbor. Ya’ll probably don’t recognize me without twigs in my hair.”

He snapped his fingers, and approached the counter. “The weed lady.” Looking around, he took in the surroundings. “So, this is what that weed garden was about. I thought maybe you were part of the witch covens I’ve heard about around here.”

I pursed my lips in irritation at the word “witch.”

Mrs. Brooks heard the exchange. “We’re neighbors? How wonderful! You’ll have to come over and visit. Jason hasn’t constructed the most welcoming place in the world, what with the gates and security system and all. Not a soul has braved coming by. I told him he should have gone all the way and put in a moat and drawbridge.”

“I think the spiked iron gate and stone wall do the trick,” I said.

Lots of folks in Peeler don’t even lock their doors. Mr. Brooks’ fortress showed a definite lack of trust in his fellow man – or woman.

He leaned across the counter on his forearm, invading my personal space. Powerful male energy ruffled my usually peaceful aura.

“I’ve been waiting for my chocolate chip cookies,” he said, with a low resonance that fluttered my stomach.

“Oh, I forgot.” Liar. Brooks transmitted some unspoken challenge. I glanced around. “Here’s a box of carob cookies with high fiber. Much better for you.”

He caught the box and tossed it back and forth between his large hands. “I’ll bet these taste like cardboard.”

I raised my eyebrows. “They are an acquired taste.”

He handed back the box. “I think I’ll hold out for the real thing.”

Were we still talking about cookies?

Mrs. Brooks put her hand on his arm. “Miss Jones has me all fixed up. I really hope this helps, my dear. I’ll send all my friends to you if I improve. Why, Jason could probably use your help too.”

Brooks straightened up, “Mother…”

Valerie piped in, “Yeah, he pops those antacids like Life Savers.”

I couldn’t resist. “Maybe we could start him on a colon cleanse. That’s the first step to good health.”

Brooks looked at his watch. He knew when he was outnumbered. “I’ve got a conference call in half an hour. Let’s go.”

Valerie moaned, “Oh, Dad, I wanted to check out that new boutique!”

Brooks glowered. “Yeah, you need more clothes all right. Your room looks like your closet exploded.” Val rolled her eyes. “Outside. Now.” He headed toward the door.

“You’ll have to forgive him, my dear.” Mrs. Brooks whispered, as if telling a terrible secret, “He’s a lawyer.”

He yanked the door open impatiently, and held it as they scurried out. Looking back over his shoulder, he pierced me with his steel-blue eyes. “I’m looking forward to trying out your cookies, Miss Jones.”

Gulp.

Available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes&Noble, Smashwords

You can find out more about Dana Taylor at her webpage.

One lucky commenter will win an e-copy of AIN’T LOVE GRAND. Comment on all 26 DRAGON BLUES Release Party excerpts for a chance to win more free books! Winners will be announced on Monday, Feb. 28. If you’d like to look at the schedule of events, click here.