Tuesday, March 3, 2015
One recent late winter morning I entered the kitchen and found the sink window cracked open. I closed it and scrubbed my hands along my upper arms, my breath forming tiny clouds of white mist before my face. Beginning my work-day routine, I started the coffee pot and took the bird food off the shelf. I turned to the cage and dropped the container. It hit with a smack on the cold tile and skittered in all directions.
Im the cage, instead of my parakeet Murphy, I found these letters where he would normally be flitting and singing in the sun shining through the window.
I scanned the room, but today, no singing and no bird. I circled behind the cage and found pictures on the backs of the four cards; a flock of white pelicans in flight; a tropical beach lined with coconut palms; a close-up of one palm with parakeets and parrots roosting in the branches; the words “Bye bye.”
I sighed and realized I hadn’t heard Murphy singing for at least a week, and, come to think of it, hadn’t seen the sun in even longer. I gazed out of the window wishing he’d taken me along.
Tea Leaf Tales is a series of original ten-sentence short stories by Marsha A. Moore, relating to photos/scenes that resonate with her.*~*~*
Thursday, February 26, 2015
I'm pleased to have author J.P. Sloan return as my guest. He's sharing the playlist he used when writing his new urban fantasy release, The Curse Servant. Be sure to check out his new book and also the great contest at the end of this post.
A Dorian Lake Playlist, of sorts…
Greetings readers, writers, and whichever NSA intern was assigned to monitor my online communications (sorry about that bit with the socks-and-sandals fetish site). My name is J.P. Sloan, author of the Dark Choir series of Urban Fantasy books.
Urban Fantasy strikes a strong mood in the minds of readers. It's a genre replete with familiar settings and unfamiliar monsters. It's gritty, dark, moody at times, vicious at times. In a nutshell, it's my bag baby!
Tons of authors cobble together playlists for their main characters, entire novels, etc. I run into a smidgen of difficulty attempting to lace together a playlist the average public would find interesting or relatable. It seems my breadth of music appreciation is a narrow as a gnat's knuckle. Still, I use music to write by, as it helps to set the mood and to block out extraneous attention-sapping noises elsewhere in the house.
First off… my writing music. I tend to fire up Pandora and my station based on dark ambient pioneer Brian Williams under his recording name of Lustmord. It's a perfect blend of nail-scrapingly off-putting atonality blanketed with a heavy slathering of doom.
Speaking of atonal instrumentals… one track I consider to be basically an ongoing score for Dorian Lake and his occult dealings comes from Rob Zombie's Educated Horses albums. I have the track "100 Ways" on repeat in my head as I tap through most of Dorian's more procedural scenes.
Now for a proper playlist, borrowing largely from the handful of bands I actually listen to.
Loser - 3 Doors Down
Our Solemn Hour - Within Temptation
Vollmond - In Extremo
Slow, Love, Slow - Nightwish
Elegy - Leaves' Eyes
Death of it All - Rob Zombie
Ash - Lustmord
Never Leave - Hecq
Some fairly obscure stuff there, I'll admit. Perhaps it offers a bit of insight into my personal taste in music, which tends toward European orchestral metal and dark ambient.
Well, there you have it! If the tone of a slow, inexorable press of doom appeals to you, jog on off to snatch up The Curse Merchant and its sequel, The Curse Servant, and fire up your Spotify with a few of these tracks. Cheers!
The Curse Servant
The Dark Choir
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: February 26, 2015
ISBN (eBook): 9781620078228
ISBN (Paperback): 9781620078235
ISBN (Hardcover): 9781620078242
ISBN (Smashwords): 9781620078259
Number of pages: 346
Word Count: 99,400
Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts
The one person standing between Hell… and an innocent girl… is a man without a soul.
A regular life isn’t in the cards for Dorian Lake, but with his charm-crafting business invigorated, and the prospect of a serious relationship within his grasp, life is closer to normal than Dorian could ever expect. In the heat of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, Dorian has managed to balance his arrangements with Deputy Mayor Julian Bright with his search to find his lost soul. Dorian soon learns of a Netherworker, the head of a dangerous West Coast cabal, who might be able to find and return his soul. The price? Just one curse.
Sounds easy… but nothing ever is for Dorian. A dark presence arrives in the city, hell-bent on finding Dorian’s soul first. Innocents are caught in the crossfire, and Dorian finds it harder to keep his commitments to Bright. When the fight gets personal, and the entity hits too close to home, Dorian must rely on those he trusts the least to save the ones he loves. As he tests the limits of his hermetic skills to defeat this new enemy, will Dorian lose his one chance to avoid damnation?
Available at Amazon
I knew this wasn't going to be the typical meeting with Julian Bright when, instead of the usual political organ-grinders at the campaign headquarters, I found a soccer mom duct taped to a chair, foaming at the mouth. Her grunting and growling echoed off the bare sheetrock walls of Julian's office, vacant except for the three of us.
I peeked through the blinds covering the locked storefront to make sure none of volunteers were back from the morning rounds. Satisfied we were alone, I turned to Julian.
He waved his arm at the woman in a lazy circle. "So, this is why I called."
"Who is she?"
"Her name is Amy Mancuso. You know her?"
I shook my head.
"She's a volunteer. Her team was working Cold Spring by Loyola when she started swearing and spitting at the residents. By the time her team captain called me, she'd kicked someone's dog. Terrier, I think. Or one of those purse dogs."
I winced. "Remind me not to hand out yard signs for you. Jesus."
"It's not like we do background checks on volunteers. I figured she probably missed some meds or something."
"But you called me instead of the paramedics."
"Why?" I asked as I took a step toward her.
Amy's grunting halted as she straightened in her chair. Her head swiveled slowly in my direction, and her eyes sent the creeping chills up my neck.
With a nerve-rattling tone she growled, "Is that Dorian Lake I smell?"
I'd never enjoyed the sound of my own name less.
Julian turned a shoulder to me and whispered, "That's why."
I slowly approached Amy, pulling my pendulum from my jacket pocket in a slow, non-threatening motion. Last thing I needed at that moment was to send a crazy person into a panic. I assumed she was crazy. My pendulum would determine whether she was unnaturally energized or the usual cat-shaving flavor of lunatic.
Her eyes were dilated; her mouth twisted into the most unsettling smile one could imagine on the face of an otherwise average woman.
"Have we met?"
"Poor little Dorian lost his soul."
Okay, this was probably a legitimate problem.
I dangled the pendulum in front of Amy. The little nugget of copper spun from the end of its chain in a perfectly Newtonian fashion. Nothing pulled it contrary to the laws of Nature. I couldn't even feel a tug on the chain.
She continued, "Lost his soul, he lost his soul. Dropped it down a rabbit hole."
"I suppose you think you're being clever?"
"Is he doomed or is he dead? Will he damn your soul instead?"
This conversation had lost all of its charm.
"Who am I talking to?"
She sucked in a huge gulp of air and craned her neck at a painful angle toward the ceiling. A sick squealing noise leaked from her lips as her arms trembled. When she finally released her breath and sank back down into her chair, she simply chuckled.
"We're going to find it, you know. And when we do, we're going to eat it."
I leaned in as close as I dared and whispered, "If you think I'm afraid of you, then you need to know something. I'm not impressed."
"It won't be long now."
"Did someone send you, or is this just a courtesy call?"
She smirked. "We're going to enjoy this."
I was knitting together a clever response when a loud rip of tape crackled through the room. Her hand slammed up underneath my jaw, fingers clamping around my throat. My head filled with blood, and I tried to cough through the gag reflex. The harder I beat on her hand to let go, the wider that creepy smile got.
About the Author:
J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author ... primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.
A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.
In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a certified beer judge.
Web page: www.jp-sloan.com
5 Digital copies of The Curse Merchant, Book 1 of the Dark Choir series
Friday, February 20, 2015
One reader’s junk is another reader’s treasure ~guest post by Anise Rae, PNR author of Enchanter's Echo #contest
Today, I'm happy to have Anise Rae as my guest. She's sharing about her reading treasures. Be sure to check out her new PNR book release, Enchanter's Echo, along with her great contest at the bottom of this post.
One reader’s junk is another reader’s treasure
by Anise Rae
Books are my treasures. I take solace in them. I find comfort and pleasure between their pages. They hold my memories, from my battered copy of Cinderella that has traveled with me from my childhood home to now, to the book club books that remind me of friends. But it’s the romance novels lining my shelves with their promise of happy endings that sing to my heart. They are the ones I most often take down to enjoy again and again…or tap open on my e-reader as the case may be.
There are a lot of romance readers in the world, but it’s not always easy for us to find each other. Someone has to be brave and dare to mention it first. It can feel like a bit of a risk since there are those who don’t hold the genre in high-esteem. We’re not alone in this lack of respect though. There is at least one other genre that doesn’t get the respect it deserves either: comic books and graphic novels. Poor comic book readers. We romance readers understand. You have it even worse than we do. After all, some claim that comic books don’t even count as real books. But really.Bound pages with words? Sounds like a book to me.
In Enchanter’s Echo, Edmund and Aurora, the hero and heroine, read comic books, and it comes out in one scene. I admit I did not plan this, even though I plan everything in my books. It just fell out of my pen and into the page. This bonding over books was such a lighthearted moment…one the characters truly needed…that it became one of my favorite scenes. I remember writing it. My mother was sitting close by, and I loved what I had written so much that I read it out loud to her. I rarely ever do that. Usually I guard what I write very closely until I’ve gone through draft after draft with it.
This moment sang to me from the start. It was a connection waiting to happen between the characters. Aurora brings up the comic books partly because she’s too tired to guard her tongue, and also because they’re facing horrible circumstances and she’s trying to put on a positive face.Edmund is shocked…and thrilled…tofind out she reads them. He never sees it coming, never thinks to ask if she likes them though the books are so important to him they are the only personal item he keeps in his attic hideout--the one room on his family’s estate where no one dares to disturb him. They’re his secret, his solace, a slightly guilty one at that. But Aurora speaks up about them. And rightfully so.No reader should ever feel as if she must hang her head because of what she reads.
Your book treasures are worthy of respect simply because you like them. So whatever they are, whether it’s comic books, political tomes, werewolves, vampires or 50 Shades, hold your head high. Defend your stash like the treasure it is. And if you dare to speak up, even better. You never know when you’ll make a book connection.
So now, readers, I’d love to know…do you have specific books that you re-read and consider treasures? Anyone ever dared to dis them?
Genre: Paranormal romance
Date of Publication: February 17, 2015
Number of pages: 270
Word Count: 99,685
Aurora Firenze lives a quiet life hiding in a junkyard. Her repair shop is the last hope for gadgets and gizmos before they get tossed onto the trash towers. Fortunately, Aurora can fix almost anything, including mages, though repairing people with metal enchantments is highly illegal.
Edmund Rallis, heir to the Rallis senate seat, has spent months hunting down his errant enchantress. He’ll play every game he knows to win her back and entice her to share the secrets she hides. But he’s inadvertently put her on the frontlines of a new game, one with an opponent who’s determined to destroy Rallis Territory and drive the Republic toward war. If the new enemy isn’t stopped in time, Edmund will lose his enchantress again—and this time there won’t be another chance.
The keep-out spell awoke at her approach. The enchanted mesh of vines and branches that blocked the entrance to Rallis Territory’s forbidden forest vibrated in welcome as its creator returned. Aurora Firenze cast her vibes along the perimeter of her spell, testing and prodding. Its strength resonated back. It was as strong as it had been six months ago when she’d created it and hid her secrets within the forest’s depths. She let go of a relieved breath, but it didn’t cure her tension.
Her nerves were strung tight, as if she’d spent hours placating customers in her repair shop. But the day had been quiet. She’d even made decent progress—fixing a curling iron with a too-hot heating spell and a stapler that had a bad habit of chasing the boss around the conference table. Yet a restlessness itched at her skin with an unpleasant persistence. She’d closed up early and headed out for the short walk to the forest. Within its heart, she’d find the peace to wash away this unease.
She sent another stream of vibes into the keep-out spell. A discreet doorway formed. With a quick glance around the barren field and the junkyard behind her, she stepped beneath her illegal spell.
As she brushed against the branches, a faint thump sounded at her feet—the soft crash of a pinecone or a weak branch falling to the ground. A normal forest noise. She flinched anyway. Her glitter puffed around her in an anxious cloud as her mage energy escaped her control. It was the fifth time today. Enchantresses did not make good criminals. She should probably let the other three in existence know, in case they were considering lives of crime. Those blasted sparkly clouds would blow their covers wide open.
She lifted her foot to continue into the small forest that was tucked inside the territory’s capital city, but stopped. A proper lawbreaker should investigate mysterious noises outside her lair. She turned and scanned the ground for the culprit. A gold coin glinted in the crisp weeds. That wasn’t normal. She reached to pick it up, scanning the field and the junkyard beyond with a twitchy gaze. Empty. She was alone.
Behind her, the forest shuttered closed, nearly catching her in its fortress wall. She jumped forward with a surprised lurch at the swat of vines and twigs. A basic rule of illegal enchantments: get out of the way or risk being incorporated into the spell.
Ignoring the sting of the swat, she stared at the coin. It was tarnished at the edges, a used-up charm. See-me-not was embossed on its golden surface. She jerked her head up. A man stood ten paces away. He was tall, broad...beyond familiar.
“Edmund,” she whispered. A shiver tiptoed across her shoulders like kisses, soft lips that hid a sharp bite. Her nerves stretched thinner yet, trapped in a battle between memories of lovers’ frolics and the promise of a dark fate that had just materialized from thin air.
Behind her, the forest’s trees rustled with the wind, a warning to retreat, one she dare not heed. Not until she knew why he’d finally come searching for her. She hadn’t thought he’d ever come back.
He prowled forward. “Hello, princess.” Though his words might have held some affection, nothing of the lover she’d once known appeared in his countenance. He lifted his left hand to reveal a glowing ball of mage vibes in his palm. His blue eyes reflected the tiny flashes of energy, and his power snapped in the air like a miniature electrical storm. The heir to the most powerful territory in the Republic had quite a steam of anger built up.
Dark hair waved across his forehead, and little curls peeked out at the edges of his neck. Though the wind buffeted and pushed at Aurora, winter’s boldness didn’t dare touch Edmund, not his hair, nor his dark gray suit or scarlet tie.
The hard slope of his nose matched the sharp lines of his jaw and cheekbones. When he smiled, he was deadly handsome. At the moment, he was simply deadly.
“Aurora.” He cast her name through the air and a piece of her soul tumbled away, as if it might dash toward him and cling like a forlorn, discarded lover. But he hadn’t discarded her....
“You stand accused of melding earthen metals to human flesh with an enchantment.”
Her heart thumped once, hard and loud, and then took off with a sprint, drenching her veins from head to toe with lightning sharp fright.
Goddess, he’d found out. How?
Even as she thought it, he revealed the answer. The glow faded from his ball of energy to reveal a small metal sphere. Her racing heart shriveled at the sight, pulling the rest of her organs with it, as if they thought to hide, seeking a chance to slip past this disaster unnoticed and, perhaps, survive. She shifted her feet on the ground, unable to resist the fear pumping through her core. Run, her gut whispered. She couldn’t afford to listen... not with the evidence sitting in his hand.
The sphere was heavier than it looked. She knew that. After all, she’d made it...and thought it long gone. He closed his fingers around it, capturing her fate within his fist.
“How’d you get that?” Her fast words shot out, hustling forward before fear, creeping up her legs with tingles and pricks, stole her voice.
“You ought to be down on your knees thanking me for confiscating it.” His voice was sharp and cutting. He sounded like a stranger, his jokes and teasing wit long gone.
“What did you do? Sneak into the junkyard and pluck his eye from his skull? Has it been hiding under your pillow for six months?” Not at all where she’d thought it was. Betrayal jolted through her. “Hardly actions befitting the heir of the mighty Rallis realm.” Her voice wavered.
“You have no idea what I’ve done.”
Anise Rae has been reading romance novels since she first discovered her grandmother’s stash of books hidden away in a cabinet. Learning that she wasn’t the only one dreaming about love and magic was a turning point in her life. She started her own stash of books and wrote a few too.
A native of Ohio, Anise long ago moved south, armed with boxes of romance novels and degrees in chemistry and library science. Creating chemistry on the page between two lovers proved to be a lot more fun than working with test tubes in a lab or searching patent databases. She refocused on writing.
Her stories revolve around heroines who dare to stand up to society’s expectations and be true to themselves and heroes with plenty of savvy to fall in love with such brave women.
Anise lives in Atlanta with her two children and a fluffy dog that has an amazing ability to find dirty socks.
For information on future releases and giveaways, sign up for her newsletter at www.aniserae.com
Author photo by www.surianiphoto.com
$25 Amazon gift card
1 set of Paper copies of Syphon’s Song and Enchanter’s Echo open to US Shippin
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer ~guest post by Gracie Madison, author of the NA PNR Sing For Me #contest
Today, I'm pleased to welcome Gracie Madison as my guest. She's sharing her thoughts on what it takes to become a better writer and information about her wonderful NA PNR release, Sing For Me. Be sure to check out her book and also her contest at the bottom of this post.
10 Tips for Becoming a Better Writer
This might be my favorite topic ever, ever, ever, because I have been so fortunate to have such a dedicated and enthusiastic group of betas and writer friends who have shared their tips with me.
1. Outline! This is a tricky subject since a lot of people want to feel free when they write, but having a detailed outline for the entire story, for your first act, for your first chapter, or even for your first interaction with the characters can help form the scene easier, faster, and with more clarity.
2. Plotting! Nothing is worse than writer’s block, but there are quite a few tips and tricks to get your mind back where it belongs.
a. What is the worst thing that can happen to your character? Do it! Sometimes making your character squirm is just the thing to get that tense, amazing plot twist.
b. Cause and Effect: Because this happened, that happened, so this decision was made, and this consequence happened, however, because of the consequence, the characters needed to do this, therefore, that happened. It’s a really cool way of thinking out the plot the creators of South Park use.
c. Think of the scene from another character’s point-of-view, what would be happening, what needs to happen to impact these other characters?
3. Characterization! Every character sees/experiences/thinks of the world differently, and it’s through their voice we grow with them. If your character is a black-jack dealer, maybe they see the world in odds and chance and numbers. If the character is a cheerleader, maybe most of their thoughts will center around popularity, gymnastics, and competition. A grumpy old man might hate rainy days, while the young romantic might find the grayness comforting and quiet. Always thinks about the world through the eyes of your character—maybe even write the same scene from two separate character’s points of view. You’ll be surprised at how difference the voice sounds.
4. Settings! Oh, a setting is one of my favorite things to develop. Never underestimate how powerful the scene can be based on the setting alone. You can create a place that lives and breathes and acts just like its own character, filled with quirks and charm. In Sing For Me, the theater is its own entity—filled with beautiful scenery, dark wings, broken windows, and tone-deaf flutists. You story is more than just the characters—your setting can become part of the whole narrative.
5. Tension! This might be one of the trickiest parts of writing. How do you keep readers turning the page? I think everyone struggles with this to an extent, and even I’m still learning how and when to really twist that knife. But, one of the most important part of developing tension I’ve found isis by listening to your gut about what you’re doing to the characters. Yes, you love your hero and heroine, but they will have to suffer. And suffer bad. Heartache and agony and indecision and fear. It’s all gonna happen.
a. The more the scene makes you squirm, the better you’re doing. You want to protect the characters, but shielding them from too much harm. Have you ever thought I can’t make him say that, it’s too mean or if this happens then they might separated forever? You’ve just struck gold. You’ve hit that uncomfortable, belly clenching moment where readers will HAVE to know what happens. Seize that discomfort and put your characters through that ringer!
b. Don’t forget the internal thoughts and emotions of your characters—really exaggerate and showcase exactly how they’re feeling about a situation, and why an event is challenging, demoralizing, or difficult for them.
c. Give your protagonist the occasional victory…only to change his/her goals or create an even larger problem for them to overcome.
6. Filter Words! Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty, and this is one of my favorite tricks to really develop a scene in a sensory and emotional way. There are a few sets of words we all rely on, but they create an artificial distance between the reader and the narration. These are your “filter” words, words that will describe what your character is experiencing but will remove readers from the actual scene.
And I know, sometimes this list is daunting, but check out the examples, a scene can really pop by removing some of these words.
I heard the birds singing outside my window. I knew they would keep singing for hours. I looked at the alarm clock. Six AM? I feel so tired!
The birds always sang right on my window sill—tweeting and chirping and thrilling. They’d be about it for hours too. The alarm cheeped right back with them. Six AM. I’d start the day off exhausted.
Hmm…I might be a little bitter towards those birds, but the prose does have a different voice, a different feel. You’re right there in the protagonist’s head cursing those darn birds. Keep an eye for filer words and where you can nip them. You’ll see a big improvement!
7. Dialogue! I don’t have too many tricks for this, but I do have one I like to stick to in my word documents. Usually, a real conversation is a lot of short and sweet exchanges. To ensure my written conversations doesn’t sound too stilted, I like to keep each person’s dialogue to one line on my word document (including tag.) It’s almost like an artificial marking in my head where I can focus on brevity and focusing on just the perfect emotion.
8. Brevity! It’s important for your story to be logical, but sometimes authors have a hard time trimming places where the extra words bog the sentences down instead of push the story forward. Phrases like, I ran across the room, grabbed the knob, and opened the door to follow her are not only wordy, they will diminish the tension in the scene vs. I chased her outside. Really focus on your character’s actions and eliminate some of the bulky bits that readers can infer from the prose itself.
9. Passive/Weak Verbs! Verbs are your friend. We love verbs. Really exciting, really action-packed verbs give life to a story. Be wary of using the word “was” too often, especially if you can replace it with a more exciting verb that can characterize your protagonist, move the scene, and really showcase the action. This is your weapon against the dreaded “telling” we hear so much about.
a. He was angry vs. He slammed the bottle against the bar and swore
b. He was scared vs. He flinched back
c. She was waiting for me vs. She checked the time on her phone while I tried on the third pair of shoes
10. Editing! This is purely anecdotal, but my editing process starts with me reading the document for major plot errors, funky/nonsensical lines, and continuity errors, as well as adding or deleting scenes.
My second pass will nip out typos and smooth over lines. Now, here is where the magic happens—Narration! If you can find a program to read your manuscript out loud, you will see and hear it so different and feel the pacing of the story so much more. I absolutely love having the story read to me to pick up on little problem areas.
I’ve also purchased an editing program (there’s a few of them out there) that help to find over-used words, general typos, lengthy sentences, etc.
Once I’ve polished, I send to the most important part of writing a book—the beta readers. Find people you know, trust, love, and value, and have them honestly and constructively critique your manuscript. Listen to them, really listen to them. Put their thoughts away for a day before dismissing anything they say. Most times, they are right on the money, and their feedback is more valuable than anything. (Obligatory shout-out to my betas Lizzy, Fiona, Kelley, and Kaylee!)
Sing For Me
Angels and Arias
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Tika Lake Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: 1/21/2015
Number of pages: 325-350
Word Count: 84,000 Words
Cover Artist: Rebecca Berto
Madeline Noel fled war-torn Heaven to hide within the mortal world, but the blessing that could protect her from evil is the holy realm’s forbidden power.
As a talented soprano for the Eden Theatre Company, Madeline hides among prima donnas and tone-deaf flutists. Her perfect voice may entertain audiences, but a careless laugh may shatter glass, and her greatest scream can kill. To control her unrestrained voice, the angels forbid Madeline from embracing the emotions that strengthen her song. Anger. Fear.
The demon-hunter Damascus vows to defend Madeline from Hell’s relentless evil, but he cannot protect her from her own feelings. Though they deny their dangerous attraction, her guardian becomes her greatest temptation.
Surrendering to desire may awaken the gift suppressed within Madeline’s soul, and neither Heaven nor Hell will allow such absolute power to exist.
She flicked the light to her bedroom and dropped her towel in the hamper.
Her hand merely muffled the screeched yelp. Madeline fell backward, smacking against the closet. She tripped and clattered into the hamper. Damascus apologized, but her gasp shattered the perfume container on her vanity.
Madeline yanked the towel from the laundry. The wet scrap of material wove over her body, and she clutched the fraying edges.
Damascus’s silence stole any sound she might have uttered.
His muscles bound, tight and tensed, more prepared for war than the glimpse of her bared skin. The gold in his eyes burned molten. Madeline shifted, her bare toes gripping the carpet to prevent her from toppling over once more.
She shivered. It wasn’t the wet hair that whispered the goose bumps along her spine. Damascus saw far more than the thin strip of cloth hid. His gaze warmed her curves and tickled the swell of her breasts. Her nipples hardened. She prayed he hadn’t noticed.
The memory of the soap in the shower tortured the twisting in her lower belly. For a single, blissful, blasphemous moment, she imagined it had been Damascus’s hand washing her.
His every movement strengthened with need. The wild, uninhibited, dangerous desire would claim them both. Madeline clamored backward, the apology shrill and muffled by her hand.
She hadn’t needed to speak, drop the towel, or offer any secrets. The heat smoldering low escaped in a sigh. The soft puff promised more than she intended. She breathed an invitation.
And he answered.
Damascus shuddered. He blinked, hard, and rubbed his head.
“I apologize.” Damascus forced his words. “I… I didn’t mean to invade your privacy.”
Madeline tugged the towel lower over her thighs. “You didn’t know.”
“I should let you—”
“Don’t worry about it. Here.” She hobbled toward the robe lying over her bed.
“I’ve got it.”
Damascus’s motions stiffened. He retrieved the robe as Madeline lunged for the fuzzy pink arm. Her toes banged against the bedpost, and the surge of pain toppled her into Damascus’s waiting arms.
He smelled of the Realm, of warmth and radiance, citrus and holy incense.
The towel shifted, and his fingers brushed over her bare back. His calloused hands heated, as if he wielded his sword. The heat lashed her—a punishment seared within a delicious reward. The towel tumbled, and she pushed against him to hide what nearly exposed.
His embrace was everything as she imagined, the heat, the intensity of his grip, the fluttering within her stomach and her body upon his. His hands bound a supreme authority over her. He pressed her skin with possessive fingertips. He handled her as if she were delicate and precious.
The shock of it all drove her to silence.
He protected her, but he never held her.
Watched over her, but never touched her.
Saved her from demons, but never reassured her.
He never mourned with her when a Choir was killed.
Every moment hidden far from the Realm passed in painful isolation, and he was the lone simple comfort of home. The sweet, dangerous touch protected her more than his sword or his distant promises. The heat settled the dissonance capturing her mind.
The Realm forbid their touch. A hug cried sacrilege.
Madeline closed her eyes and rested her head on his shoulder.
About the Author:
Gracie Madison would spend every day, all day writing…if it were socially acceptable. Ever since she was a little girl scribbling with a crayon, Gracie’s dedicated herself to her books and all the supernatural and paranormal, creepy and beautiful stories and characters born within the pages. Now Gracie is committed to finally sharing those books with the world. When the laptop is pried from her hands, Gracie is probably working her day job, rooting on the Steelers, or out with her husband searching for Pittsburgh’s best sushi.
Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/7zCnv
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Thursday, February 5, 2015
I can't wait to share this new series! I've been writing this one in my mind for several years. It's set in southern Indiana, south of Bloomington, where I spent my favorite childhood years surrounded by the love of a big family. The book is rich with a warm Hoosier down-home feel.
Genre: New adult Paranormal romance
Twenty-three-year-old Jancie Sadler was out of the room when her mother died, and her heart still longs for their lost goodbye. Aching to ease her sorrow, Aunt Starla gives Jancie a diary that changes her entire life. In entries from the 1930s, her great grandmother revealed how she coped with her own painful loss by seeking out a witch from nearby Coon Hollow Coven. The witch wore the griever’s moonstone locket, which allowed whoever could unlock its enchantment to talk with the dead.
Determined to find that locket, Jancie goes to the coven’s annual carnival held in her small southern Indiana town of Bentbone. This opposes her father’s strict rule: stay away from witches. But she’s an adult now and can make her own decisions. She meets Rowe McCoy, the kind and handsome witch who wears the moonstone. He agrees to let her try to open the locket, but they’re opposed by High Priestess Adara and her jealous desire to possess him. Desperate for closure with her mother, Jancie persists and cannot turn away from a perilous path filled with magic, romance, and danger.
Release date: March 24, 2015
Here's the Goodreads link for you to add the book to your TBR list. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24807853-witch-s-moonstone-locket
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from Chapter One: Great Aunt Starla’s Cornbread
Warm rain mixed with Jancie’s tears, and she rose to stand beside her mother’s grave. Not ready to let go, she bent at the waist and her fingers followed the arc of her mother’s name—Faye Sadler—in the headstone. She knew the unyielding shape well. The word goodbye stuck in her throat. She’d said it aloud many times since her mother died almost a year ago, only to have the cemetery’s vast silence swallow her farewells. Rain beaded on the polished granite. Her hand, bearing her mother’s silver ring, slid down the stone and fell to her side.
If only she could’ve said goodbye to her mother before. After years of caring for her mom while she suffered with cancer, Jancie had missed the final parting moment while getting a quick bite of dinner. The pain still cut like a knife in her gut.
On foot, she retraced the too-familiar path toward her work at the Federal Bank. Although she’d landed a job as manager at the largest of the three banks in the small town of Bentbone, the position was a dead end. Within the first six months, she’d mastered all the necessary skills. Now, after a year, only the paycheck kept her there.
Jancie turned onto Maple Street. As usual, wind swept up the corridor, between old shade trees protecting houses, and met her at the top of the tall hill. September rain pelted her face and battled the Indian summer noontime temperatures. She zipped the rain parka to keep her dress dry, pulled on the strings of the hood, and corralled strands of ginger-colored hair that whipped into her eyes. Once able to see, she gazed farther into the valley, where the view spanned almost a mile out to the edge of town. Usually, farmers moved tractors across the road or boys raced skateboards and bikes down Maple Street’s long slope.
Today, on the deserted acreage just east of Bentbone, people moving in and out through a gate of the tall wooden fence breathed life into the rundown carnival. Surprised, Jancie crossed the street for a better view. She’d lost track of time since Mom passed. The coming Labor Day weekend in Bentbone meant the valley coven’s yearly carnival. She and her close group of girlfriends always looked forward to the cute guys, fair food, and amazing magical rides and decorations…even if her father didn’t approve of witches or magic. The residents of the sleepy town awoke to welcome a host of tourists wanting to see the spectacle created by the witches of Coon Hollow Coven.
Somehow, Jancie had forgotten the big event this year. Last year, she didn’t go since Mom was so sick and couldn’t be left. Jancie sighed and turned onto the main street toward the bank. She’d lost so much since her mother passed. Really, since the diagnosis of cancer.
At that time, four years ago, Jancie withdrew as a sophomore from Hanover College, a select, private school in southern Indiana near the Kentucky border—too far away. Instead, she returned to stay with her mother and commuted to Indiana University. Balancing hours with the home health care nurse, Jancie had few choices of career paths. Not that it mattered, since her remarried father expected her to find a job in Bentbone and continue taking care of her mother. Despite the sacrifices, Jancie loved her mother, who’d always managed money for a few special things for Jancie—a new bike, birthday parties, prom dresses—even though their income was tight. Mom had paid for her tuition and listened to every new and exciting college experience.
Jancie smiled at the memory of Mom’s twinkling brown eyes, that mirrored her own, when she asked about what happened during the day’s classes: if Jancie liked the professor; if she’d made new friends.
When she rounded the last corner, her thoughts returned to the work day. At the bleak, limestone bank building, reality hit. Jancie pulled against the heavy glass door, and a gust swept her inside. She peeled off the drenched jacket and hung it on the coat rack of her small, plain office. At her desk again, she took her position.
Through the afternoon’s doldrums, punctuated by only a handful of customers, her mind wandered to the carnival. She’d gone dozens of times before and loved it. But since Mom passed, nothing seemed fun anymore, like she couldn’t connect with herself and had forgotten how to have a good time. She organized a stack of notes, anything to put the concern out of her mind.
After work, Jancie drove her old blue Camry the five miles to the other end of town where she lived in her mother’s white frame house, the home where she grew up, now hers. Glad to own her own place, unlike her friends who rented, she’d made a few easy changes. In the living room, a new brown leather couch with a matching chair and ottoman. She replaced the bedroom furniture with a new oak suite for herself in what used to be her mother’s room. With pay saved from the bank, Jancie could remodel or build on, but she didn’t know what she wanted yet. Her great aunt Starla had told her to just wait and hold onto her money; she’d know soon enough.
Pouring rain soaked the hem of her dress as she darted between the garage shed and back stoop of the small ranch house.
Glad she’d chosen to get her run in this morning before work, she changed into cozy sweats, pulled the long part of her tapered hair into a ponytail, and headed for the kitchen.
Her phone alerted her of a text, and she read the message from her friend Rachelle, always the social director of their group: R we going to the carnival?
Jancie typed a response. I guess. R Lizbeth and Willow going?
Yep whole gang. What day?
Don’t know yet. Get back to u. Jancie worried she’d spoil their fun. Even though they’d all been her best friends since high school and would understand her moodiness, she didn’t want to ruin one of the best times of the year for them. Since Mom passed, they’d taken her out to movies and shopping in Bloomington, but this was different. Could it ever match up to the fun of all the times before? “I don’t know if I’m up to that,” she said into open door of the old Kenmore refrigerator while rummaging for leftovers of fried chicken and corn.
The meal satisfied and made her thankful she’d learned how to cook during those years with Mom. Not enough dishes to bother with the dishwasher, one of the modern upgrades to the original kitchen, Jancie washed the dishes by hand and then called Starla. When she answered, Jancie asked, “Can I come over tonight? There’s something I’m needing your opinion on.”
“Why sure, Jancie. C’mon over,” the eighty-five-year-old replied with her usual warm drawl. “Are you wantin’ dinner? I made me some soup beans with a big hambone just butchered from Bob’s hog. My neighbor Ellie came over and had some. She said they were the best she’s eaten.”
Jancie glanced at the soggy rain parka and opted for an umbrella instead. “No, I just ate. Be right over.” Keys and purse in hand, she hung up and darted for the shed.
Five minutes later, she turned onto the drive of the eldercare apartments and parked under the steel awning where Starla gave her a whole arm wave from her picture window. Jancie made her way to number twelve on the first floor.
The door opened, and Starla engulfed Jancie in a bear hug, pulling her into the pillow of a large, sagging bosom. Starla smelled of her signature scent—rosewater and liniment.
Jancie had loved her great aunt’s hugs as long as she could remember. Stress and worry melted away, and she hugged back. Her arm grazed Starla’s white curls along the collar of her blue knit top embroidered with white stars—her great aunt’s favorite emblem.
“It’s so good to see you. Come sit a spell, while I get us some iced tea.” Starla pulled away and gestured to the microsuede couch decorated with three crocheted afghans in a rainbow of colors. “I thought we were done with this hot weather, but not quite yet. That rain today’s been a gully washer but didn’t cool things off much.” The large-boned woman scuffed her pink-house-slippered feet toward the kitchen. “Would you rather have pound cake from the IGA or homemade cornbread?”
Jancie laughed and followed her into the kitchen. She wouldn’t get through the visit without eating. “You’re just fishin’ for a compliment. You know your homemade cornbread is better.”
Starla arranged plates with thick slices of warm cornbread and big pats of butter on top, while Jancie transferred the refreshments to the aluminum dinette table.
“With your hair pulled back like that, you’re a dead ringer for your Ma. So pretty with that same sweetheart-shaped face.” Starla folded herself onto a chair beside Jancie. “You look to be getting on well…considering what all you’ve been through.”
“I’m doing okay,” Jancie said through a mouthful of the moist cornbread. She washed it down with a swallow of brisk tea that tasted fresh-brewed. “But sometimes, lots of times, I feel lost, like I can’t move on.” She ran a hand across her forehead. “I didn’t get to say goodbye. I spent time with her through all those years, and it shouldn’t matter, but it does every time I visit her grave and most every night in my dreams.”
“Oh, honey. I know it hurts.” Starla smoothed Jancie’s ponytail down the middle of her back and spoke with a voice so slow and warm, it felt like a handmade quilt wrapping around her. “You spent all that time and gave so much. Just like when I cared for my husband some twenty years back. I know. I never got the chance to tell Harry goodbye either. Time will heal all hurts.”
Jancie looked down at the marbleized tabletop to hide her teary eyes. “I don’t think I’m ever going to heal, Aunt Starla. I don’t know if I can ever move on.”
“There is one thing you can try. I’d have done it, if I’d have known before decades softened my aching heart. Way back, I was desperate like you.”
Jancie looked into Starla’s blue-gray eyes, set deep inside wrinkled lids.
Her aunt leaned closer. “Not many know about this,” she whispered as if someone outside the apartment door might hear. “There’s an old story about how a member of the Coon Hollow Coven, one who’s recently lost a loved one, is made the teller of the moonstone tale.”
Jancie rolled her eyes. “That’s just a silly story, one of lots that Mom and Dad told to scare me when I was little, so I’d stay away from the coven. When the moonstone locket opens at the end of the tale, you’ll get your wish but also be cursed.”
“Oh no.” Starla shook her head and pushed away from the table. “Let me get Aunt Maggie’s old diary. I got this in a box of old family things when Cousin Dorothy passed. ” She lumbered to her spare bedroom and returned with a worn, black-leather volume only a little larger than her wide palm. Once seated, she thumbed through the yellowed pages. “Here.” She pointed a finger and placed the book between them.