Monday, February 28, 2011

Yul Brynner

I've been wondering where my attraction to bald men started and I finally pinned it down.


Every year around Easter the Ten Commandments would play on television. (This is dating back before VCRs and yes, there was life before then. LOL) My family would gather to watch. I was a little girl then and always secretly routed for Ramses. I know he'd lose but still...





My first alpha male crush. Then my sister showed me The King and I. She still owns a copy. *wink wink* 



The seed to my bald heros; vampires, aliens, and whatever is to come. So, if you haven't watched any of these ancient movies, I strongly encourage you to watch one. The alpha male is not a modern concept and they don't need long, flowing hair to be sexy.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


Moonlight Bleu

Author: Renee Rearden

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

eBook: $9.99

Print: $14.99

Ebook Buy Link

Print Buy Link

Saari Mitchell sees a psychologist in order to understand why-500 years later-she's still dreaming of her dead lover. Her shrink isn't helping, the nightmares come every time she closes her eyes, and the lack of sleep is interfering with her job at Sacred Heart Hospital. With her psychic ability to heal the human spirit on the fritz, her auric radar becomes as reliable as her spotty cell phone service.

By day, Dhelis Guidry works as a detective for the New Angeles Police Department investigating the missing or murdered women in the Full-Moon Killer case. In his spare time he hunts rogue vampires as a Tueri executioner.

Brogan Vincent is a Tueri healer. Though he could offer his miraculous talents to the rich and powerful, he has chosen anonymity and peace by only using his psychic abilities among the Tueri.

One look into Saari's tri-colored eyes and both men realize she is Tueri. One touch tells them each she's their soul mate. But can either of them protect her from the Full-Moon Killer?

Rating:


Hmmm…this book left me wondering how to review it. If I based my review on the first half I would give it three stars. The jump around in time, the different characters had my head spinning and I had a really hard time following it. I nearly put it down because I was so confused. But, I’m glad I didn’t. Once I got past the first fifty pages or so, I was hooked.

The concept for this story is very original, I’ve never read anything like it before and it even added a little part with cupid. I loved that. There is a ménage element to this story between Saari, Dhelis and Brogan, but don’t expect anything erotic…you won’t find that here, it’s an urban fantasy with romantic elements.

Set in the year 2032, I just loved how New Angeles, Nevada was presented. Right there I knew this was going to be a very in-depth novel. And I wasn’t disappointed. After the little hiccup, I was immediately taken on a compelling adventure while Saari, along with Dhelis and Brogran set out to capture the Full Moon Killer. But it’s more than just a wild mystery, I found real emotion in this story while Saari deals with a recurring dream that plagues her life and she has to juggle not just having one soul mate, but two.

Urban Fantasy readers will love this one!


Saturday, February 26, 2011

I Am Number Four

I feel a rant coming on...

First there was Harry Potter. It captured the adult market as well as the young adults it initially targeted. Then Twilight hit like a tsunami, and had teens sighing in their seats, dreaming of vampires and shirtless werewolves. I have to admit, I don't normally go for young adult, but when I saw the title for the Pitticus Lore novel, I couldn't resist reading the book. http://iamnumberfourfans.com/

I'm glad I did.

I Am Number Four is bringing science fiction romance to the big screen and I can't help but do a fist pump and yell out "Yes!" Finally. Move over vamps and weres. There's a new kid in town.

So, when the movie was released last Friday, I jumped on the chance to see it on the big screen.

I'm sorry I did.

With it's recent release as a movie, I Am Number Four is gaining quick popularity with young adults everywhere. Sadly, the movie was so entirely different from the book. Why?

It's not like the movie wasn't well done. It was, and if I hadn't read the book first, I'd probably love it. The action was there--the romance--the hot actors that make women swoon. Four's guardian, Henri, was thrown in there for us big girls, and believe me, I appreciated that. Nothing like nice man-candy, close to my own age, to look at. But, as the film rolled, I found myself asking, where the heck did the original story go? I mean, I get it. Make it a little sexier, target older teens instead of the 15 year olds and tweenies, then maybe adults would like it too. Here's a hint, adults liked it before Hollywood tinkered with the storyline and we don't have to have the story about eighteen-year-olds, to relate to it and enjoy it. We did fine with Harry.

Even though I'm sadly disappointed Hollywood felt the need to butcher Lore's original work, I find myself chomping at the bit for the next novel, The Power of Six. Because when push comes to shove, Hollywood just wasn't up to the challenge of capturing Four's story. The book rocks, next time, I think I'll pass on the movie and let the author work their imagination on my mind.

It's so much better.

D L

Friday, February 25, 2011

Commercially speaking...

I'd love to write something pithy and book related today, post a hunk--something exciting like that. Nope, not going to do it, I'm going in another direction. I've started a new job, and they're killing me with orientation and odd hours, until training is completed, I'm coming home and landing smack dab on my sofa! It's very exciting to be using what I learned in my medical classes--but who knew there would be so much more?

Anyway, when I'm not sleeping, or just plain trying to remember everything I learned each day, I've become quite the remote control junky. Writing has taken a back seat. There are plenty of stories left in me, and trust me, they'll be told. For now--I'm learning all over again what 9-5 means...well, in my case 3-11:30. And for the record, they're the hours I wanted because I like the midnight time of day. And I love my new job!

Now, commercially speaking--I'm buying a Subaru!!! No, not really, but have you seen the commercials with the dogs driving the car? If not, I'm posting a few, and you need to watch. I love them, even more than most of the shows I'm seeing on TV lately. Not counting Royal Pains, which, by the way, ended it's season last night and won't be back til summer.

Enjoy! Please, don't drink while watching!! *grin*







They are just too funny!

Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out.-© J. Hali Steele

Thursday, February 24, 2011

When An Idea Explodes

I've been a blogger for years. I'd always kept some kind of journal on paper and when we finally got a regular (though not always stable) connection to the internet in 1998 I started keeping an online one with Live Journal. I still have my original account and use it...a lot. In fact, it's how I mainly communicate with a very close friend of mine. So, when I bought my author website two years ago, it seemed like a no brainier to have a blog. But I ran into a problem. What was I supposed to talk about? I couldn't very well start blabbing about my personal life. In my mind, my author website is a reflection on me professionally. You don't use it to start spouting about how your spouse didn't do the dishes the night prior and such. I started looking for things to post that would fall in line with my writing that weren't the typical "authory" things.

Two years ago I  welcomed the birth of Six Sentence Sunday. What started as a simple way for me to, honestly, have something to post on my blog related to writing has grown exponentially. Never would have I have imagined it would be what it has become...and growing. So much so, I have to figure out what to do in order to keep up. Which is what I'm going to be doing over the coming weeks.

For those that may be unfamiliar, the concept is easy. Any writer (regardless of published or unpublished status) is invited to submit a link to a blog post they agree to post on Sunday. They can share something they're working on, something recently completed, something out on submission, something contracted or even something the author has for sale. Each Sunday, I post a list of the links and anyone is free to come along and read what participants have shared.

The only catch is the shared excerpt can only be six sentences in length.

Just six? Really? What can you say in only six sentences? Oh, believe me...you can say a whole heck of a lot.

So, consider yourself invited to the party this coming Sunday. There will be the usual sharing of sentences this week, but there will also be a huge giveaway where lots of books up for grabs and all you have to do is comment.

http://sixsunday.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kindle Your Passion for eReaders

I love, love, love the Amazon Kindle. It has (almost) nothing to do with being an author of ebooks, and everything to do with being a voracious reader. (Though people reading my books on their Kindles is pretty darn cool.)

*cough*cough*

Okay, okay. It also has about 80% to do with being able to hide my purchases from my husband. Granted, he doesn't say a word about how many books I buy. He just gives me "the look." In order to avoid "the look," I buy ebooks and we're both happy. He gets to pretend I've gone 24hrs without a new purchase, and I get to horde to my heart's content.

This post is about accessorizing your Kindle. I'll probably do these posts often, because the Kindle is something I'm passionate about, and is a device I've seen through each generation.

Okay, here we go. We're going to touch on cases and lights today. Here are my top picks.

There are several designer cases made for the various versions of Kindle. Some make my fingers curl with want, but the elastic strap meant to hold my eReader secure…keeps me from coughing up$70 or more for a designer name when the cases suffer such a basic design flaw.

Granted, times are a changin’. There are other methods to secure your Kindle. In addition to elastic straps, there are a few more options. Such as a hard plastic shell secured to the case back, allowing your Kindle to snap into place and he held secure. This Speck case was popular for K2, and I like it. It has the hard plastic shell-snap, and a built-in stand.

I will admit, when I got my b’day surprise of the K3, I went a little nuts in the comparison shopping department. I have loved Kindle from day one, stolen Dad’s repeatedly, but this was my first mine, all mine, reader.

I wanted the very light and very thin K3 as secure as I could get it without the awkwardness of elastic or fabric cupped corners. Amazon, amazingly enough, created the perfect solution. For once, a manufacturer listened to their customers and took their requests to heart. (It took three versions of Kindle before it happened…but that’s neither here nor there.)

This is the case in question. It’s leather, made by Amazon, and has hooks in the bend. The K3 is manufactured to fit this case. It’s such a simple thing to hook it in, then you’re golden. That Kindle isn’t going anywhere. I like the case itself, too. It’s a nice pebbled leather exterior with a very soft gray interior to minimize damage to your screen. The version I liked above is without a light.
ETA: I have been made aware of an issue with the Amazon case. The same hooks that hold it secure also seem to be causing spontaneous resets among other issues. Instead of my full endorsement, I'll have to downgrade this to a "buy at your own risk." Sad, considering how much I love that cover. If you've suffered the same issue, then contact Amazon's Kindle Support.
Yes, I know. It’s hard to believe it gets better, but it does! This is the same case, just the lighted version. I wanted that case in a bad way. Since Kindle isn’t back lit, which reduces eyestrain, I knew a light was a must. I love the way the light is built into this case. It’s so handy, and really just perfect. The hooks on this model are metal instead of plastic. The metal is conductive, and uses your Kindle to power its light, so you never have to worry about batteries. You do, however, have to worry about draining your Kindle’s battery in the process. BUT–and you knew there had to be one–the coolness of the light is offset by the fact it super illuminates the upper right hand corner while leaving the lower left hand corner in darksville. This can’t be changed, since the plastic light arm has some flexibility, but nowhere near enough to fix this issue.

Although my OCD nature rebelled, it’s still rebelling actually, I bought the standard case. This decision was due largely to the staff at Best Buy. They not only encouraged me to pick the case that was right for me, they took the box to the service desk and opened it so my Kindle could try on her new coat (don’t judge me) before I shelled out any money.

They also carry M-Edge products, which are pretty fantastic. I would have gone with their covers if not for the whole hook=safety thing. Anyway, the customer service lady picked up their most popular M-Edge light and asked if I was interested in it. I was still pouting, considering how important the whole “light” thing was, when she opened that box and turned the light on. All I could say was “whoa.” It was brilliant. Plus, the flexible neck meant I could bend it any way I wanted to. It has a flat piece of plastic on the back, which I slip behind the Kindle and it’s held there as securely as if I were using it in a regular paperback.

There are two cool things about that light. One, it uses AAA batteries instead of some funky watch battery you would kill yourself looking for a replacement for. And two, I can angle it so that my entire Kindle is bathed in the exact same level of light. I love that. I am so compulsive, I require that kind of perfection to function. So while I wish I had the built-in light, it only takes one night spent reading  to appreciate the beauty of my M-Edge.

The plain Kindle case is $34 or so. The lighted is $54 more or less. The M-Edge light is around $20. If you mix and match, you’re still out the same amount of money, but I believe the M-Edge is a much better investment for my money. I’ve been very pleased with it.

Since I like people to judge for themselves, here is a video of someone reading with their built-in Kindle light.


And here is the M-Edge case with the M-Edge light.

I will say, that video shows a bright pinpoint of light, but I adjust so there is the same level of lighting with no issues. I guess it’s about your preference and how much work you’re willing to put into perfection.

Other favorite case options include most M-Edge products as well as anything by Oberon. Their designs are hand tooled leather and just gorgeous.

While I'm thinking about it, you might be interested in these resources as well:

Kindleboards - An online community geared towards all things Kindle. It covers everything from reviews of the devices and accessories to book reviews and recommendations to device malfunctions and possible solutions. There are also hacks--like the one for a custom screen saver.

eReader IQ - Who doesn't like a freebie every now and again? Sometimes a free first book in a series leads to the entire set being purchased by happy readers. This site shows Amazon's daily free read offerings. They also offer an email option if you'd like the titles/authors emailed to you as they become available.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Calling All Witches

Seismic Evil
Thank you to the lovely authors of Paranormal Romantics for letting me pay a call today.  As an author, I love discovering new and old worlds alike, but I must admit to a deep weakness for tales of witches.  Perhaps it is the mixture of femininity and magic that appeals to me, but whatever the reason, it is the witches that call me back time and again to the keyboard and to the worlds that open up under their gifts.

Seven Souls a Leaping

Last summer, I worked with two delightfully talented to writers to explore a new world. In icy Boston, we celebrated a family, two siblings and their cousin.  Each has a gift of their own and each is key to solving the riddle of great evil.  My heroine in that case was a young woman named Tara Conroy.  Tara isn't a witch, but she had to consult with some witches to find a solution to the wicked spirit haunting her and to save the soul of the spirit that had protected her.  What other witch could I turn to than one that's appeared in my other novels.

Celebrating Sydney

Readers were introduced to Sydney in Chance's first novel, Prime Evil.  Sydney Jump is Chance's best friend and a more traditional witch.  Unlike Chance (who is bound to the earth), Sydney is not only Wiccan by religion, but a witch by birth. She has a gift for spells, herbs and foreseeing.  The forecasting gift is one that she was born with, the others she nurtures.  She comes from a long legacy of witches.   Her friendship is Chance's anchor in the first book, something to keep her grounded. 

In Seismic Evil, Sydney's role is expanded as she and Chance's other friends band together to help Chance against a dangerous and dark enemy.  Sydney doesn't do angst, she is flame and laughter in most situations, offering sparkling wit and cheerful support.  When Sydney appears on the page, she literally dances through the words. 

Next to Chance, I freely admit that Sydney is one of my favorite witches.  She lives and breathes the tenets of "an it harm none" and "perfect love and perfect peace."  I'm excited to say that Sydney will have an even greater role in the third Chance Monroe adventure, Buried Evil. 

Do you have a favorite witch character?  Or do you prefer vampires, werewolves and sorcerers?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  One lucky commentator will receive a copy of Seven Souls a Leaping and Seismic Evil. 

About Heather Long

Heather Long lives in North Texas with her husband, daughter and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.

You can read an excerpt of Seismic Evil here and Seven Souls a Leaping here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Guest Blogger: Voirey Linger

Bio:
Voirey Linger writes stories dedigned to ruffle your feathers. Her second angel book, Forsaking Eternity will be available February 25th from Ellora's Cave Publishing, and this summer she will be launching a new series of erotic shorts called The Mansion series. She's also the founder of The Summer Reading Trail, a collection of free reads from authors of all genres. For more information about Voirey's stories or the Summer Reading Trail, please visit her Website at www.voireylinger.com.



Thanks to Paranormal Romantics and Annie Nicholas for having me today.

Someone recently asked me why I wrote angels. I didn’t really have a good answer for her. I grew up a pastor’s kid, so angels were always very real to me. I think that might be one reason I was never happy with the angel books I read. Most of the creatures being written as angels just didn’t feel like what I knew as angels, and my sense of what is angelic was so strong that I couldn’t suspend my disbelieve long enough to actually enjoy a story.

To me an angel isn’t a paranormal creature, it’s a divine being. There is a big difference between the two, a whole world of tricky morality with worse ramifications than simple death. This world gave me the perfect place to test my angelic heroes.

Renatus is an angel who exists in accordance with the letter of the Law. In fact, he’s one of Heaven’s legal experts, one of those who helps judge sinners. But recently, he was thrown for a loop. He’s been tempted by something he’s always thought of as forbidden. Now he wants to explore that illicit need. He can’t do it in Heaven, where the angels will be watching, so he comes to Earth with one goal in mind: To find a male lover.

Watching Renatus try to justify his choices, to maneuver for loopholes, was almost fun. Every time he thought he had things figured out, some new bit of information had to be factored in. Through it all he worked to make sure he would have a sound defense. And through all that finagling, he was growing more and more seduced by Adam.

I definitely enjoyed taking creatures with such a defined moral code and putting them in situations that were less than wholesome. The results were hot and sexy reads that were packed with conflict and action. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing them.


There are some things an angel shouldn't do

Renatus is a legalist and knows the rules better than most. But knowing the Law doesn't stop him from imagining the press of a hard, male body against his, or remembering one forbidden kiss that left him hungry for more. He leaves Heaven to mingle with mankind, hoping that satisfying curiosity will quell desire. He finds Adam, a college professor who has given up on love.

Adam once dreamed of finding the perfect man and settling down. His dreams and trust were shattered when he found out the truth about his ex. Meeting Renatus seduces Adam into taking another chance on love. But Ren is keeping secrets, and the only promise he will make is that he will leave.

Now the Most High has commanded Renatus to retrieve the Law of Men and Angels, and a vengeful demon is circling, waiting for her opportunity to strike. Staying is impossible, leaving unbearable, and Ren wants to succumb to temptation, forsaking eternity for a life on Earth with this man.



You can read an excerpt of Forsaking Eternity here (link: http://www.jasminejade.com/productspecs/9781419933226.htm ) and as a little teaser, to let you see where it all started, I’m giving away one copy of Risking Eternity (link: http://www.jasminejade.com/pm-8389-655-risking-eternity.aspx ) to a commenter.


Winner will be picked tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Stolen Dreams (The Lingering Spirit Book One)

Just last night, my first indie project, STOLEN DREAMS was released on Smashwords. I'm so excited about this series. It's one of my favourites and I just love these characters. I've got some pretty great ideas for the series so I can hardly wait to dive back in to write the second book. Here's a little peek...

BUY LINK








Chapter One

Starbucks was in its usual rush hour craze when I breezed through the doors. Coffee is my addiction. Looking around, evidently I wasn’t the only one that couldn’t get my ass in gear without a cup of Joe.

After ten minutes in line, I made it to the counter and was greeted by a young woman who looked way too happy for this hour of the morning. Her blue eyes sparkling, white teeth gleaming and spiked artistic black hair, perfectly put together. “Can I get a Venti Skinny Caramel Macchiato.”

“Venti Skinny Caramel Macchiato,” she called out as I handed her a ten.

While I waited for my change, I glanced to my watch. Eight-forty. The time spent in line had cost me. I only had twenty minutes to get to work. Being late just wasn’t an option as the assistant to the Event Manager of Randall Marketing, Dylan Cobb. It didn’t matter if the job had him halfway around the world, he checked in at nine o’clock sharp to make sure I remained at his beck and call. Sadly, I always was.

The job itself was ideal as Mr. Cobb was only in the office one week out of the month due to his promotional work. It meant I was left alone most of the time. Bossless and getting paid good money―I had the life of self-employment, but without the headache. Now, if I actually had to see Dylan on a daily basis, that would be a different story. I wouldn’t have lasted three days with him constantly looking over my shoulder, always in my space.

“One Caramel Macchiato,” another employee called out, drawing me away from my thoughts.

“Than…” I started, but as a cold breeze swept in behind me, my words froze. To anyone else, the sensation would have been passed off as a cold breeze. I knew better than to believe that.

There was a spirit here.

I refused to acknowledge said spirit. “Thank you.” I impressed myself by sounding calm and collect. The server was looking at me as if I’d lost my mind as I took the cup from her hand. Ignoring that too, I spun on my heels, and kept my focus on the ceramic tiled floor to avoid any and all curious glances at my peculiar behaviour.

Just as I reached for the door handle, a voice came from behind me, “Can you hear me?”

The male ghost sounded shocked. Apparently my glow grabbed his attention. As ghosts before this one had told me, I had a light around me―a golden aura. It made me stick out like a sore thumb. Ghosts were harmless―annoying, but harmless. From the surprise in his tone, it was obvious he wasn’t expecting me to hear him. Shit! I’d already given myself away. Well, I could rectify that.

Without hesitation, I grabbed the door handle, pulled it open and forced myself to remain deaf to the voice. If I ignored the ghosts long enough, they moved on and searched out someone else who held this gift, which I had yet to meet. To this day, I still questioned if calling my ailment a gift was appropriate. An ability to see and hear ghosts had become more of a daily irritation than anything else.

Much to my annoyance, I felt the spirit join me outside as I walked down the street. The ghost stayed right on my heels, his presence strong behind me. The cold air at my back was a contrast to the warm air in front of me as every hair on my neck stood, goose bumps pimpled a trail along my skin. If only I could rub them away, but I wouldn’t dare. That would acknowledge I knew he was there.

“Can you hear me?”

His voice was rich and deep enough to send vibrations into my soul. I wasn’t so deaf that I couldn’t tell this was one smooth talking male spirit, even if his voice did come sharp with frustration. I quickened my steps to get away from him hoping he’d catch the drift, weaving in and out of pedestrians as I made my way down Peabody Place.

“Wait.”

Something in his insistent tone made me want to be as far away from him as possible. He sounded desperate, which meant a big headache for me. If I hadn’t worn my damn sling-backs, I would have tried to run and hide. But the three-inch Manolos and the tight tailored gray skirt around my knees made it impossible.

Within minutes, I hit the heart of the Memphis City―Beale Street. I let out a breath of relief as warmth surrounded me. It wasn’t just the basking sun, the spirit had left me be. Pleased that my dodge worked, I took a sip of my energy in a cup then smiled. Coffee’s fantastic, the ghost is gone―life’s good.

As I continued to walk down the street, the Hard Rock Cafe came and went. The smell of eggs and bacon filled the air and my stomach growled in response. I wasn’t a morning person by nature. My only thought when I woke this morning had been caffeine. Now, I wished I’d grabbed a muffin. But with ten minutes to get to my desk, I couldn’t worry about such things and would have to wait until lunch.

Another block passed under my heels before I reached the historical red brick building with its stripped green and white awning. To me, this place looked more like a market than an office space but being downtown in the heart of Elvis Land, nothing modern existed here. The City needed a serious makeover.

The moment I opened the door to the office, a bubbly voice greeted me, “Good morning, Ms. Tess.”

“Mornin’,” I responded to Doris, the receptionist at the firm who was in every way a butterscotch sundae. In her mid-forties auburn curls reached down to her ears and big brown eyes that could warm you on the coldest of days.

“A lovely day today, is it not?” Doris asked as she shuffled eons of paperwork around on her desk. The woman was very messy, yet somehow organized. Within her mess, she knew where to find the smallest items. Truly incredible to watch. After a brief moment, she lifted her face with a sweet smile as she held out the messages over the counter.

“Sure is.” So, I just told a little white lie. The ghost hadn’t exactly started my day off right, but I wasn’t about to tell her about it. I grabbed the post-it notes from her hands. “Did you have a nice weekend?”

“Started my gardening. It’s going to be a beauty this year. You’ll have to come out and have a look-see.”

I smiled. “I’d love to.”

Doris created a piece of art with her gardening skills and I would never turn down the invitation to see it. Doris loved flowers. I could at least appear interested, even though my green thumb was black.

Her face lit up, but when the phone rang, she just waved a good-bye and answered it. “It’s another beautiful day here at Randall Marketing, how can I direct your call?”

That was Doris, sunshine on the gloomiest of days. I started to walk toward my office and headed down the hall. Two doors down, I arrived. Once there, I grabbed the door handle, opened it, then closed it behind me.

Just because the building was historic didn’t mean my office had to be. Complete modern chic was what I had created here―glass table, dark charcoal walls with a white upholstered rolling chair.

Placing the coffee on the table, I pulled out the chair and sat down. Cool leather came against my warm skin as I flipped through the messages left for me. None were urgent enough to worry about now.

I powered up the computer. As it booted up, I took a sip of my coffee. The warmth slid down my throat and gave an immediate rush to my energy levels. Before I could place the cup back on the table, a knock sounded at the door and a moment later, it opened.

“And just where were you all weekend?” Caley snapped, shutting the door behind her.

Caley, my best friend since the age of four, was a typical pageant Queen. Bleach blonde, sparkling baby blue eyes, perfect skin and a body men drooled over. But it’s all a front―she’s the devil in disguise.

“I was at home.” I gave her an innocent smile. “Did you try and call me?” Of course, I lied. If I let Caley drag me out every time she had an itch for a party, I’d be considered a sorority girl.

Caley pointed at my face and glared. “Don’t you try that shit on me! I called you all weekend and your damn phone went straight to voicemail.”

“Hmm…” I pretended to ponder for a moment then finally said, “The battery must have died.”

It was the only sure way to get Caley to leave me be. Truth was, she could have just come over, and I wouldn’t put it past her that she would. But the little hint was a subtle way of telling Caley I wanted to be left alone. Normally, she knew enough to stay away.

“Liar.” Caley plopped down in the seat in front of my desk. “Where were you, Tess? I wanted to go out.”

“I wasn’t anywhere.” I placed the coffee cup back on the table. Caley’s brows rose in disbelief as I continued. “Honestly, I vegged on the couch.”

Caley snorted. “Now doesn’t that sound appealing?”

My mouth parted to offer a snappy retort, but a cold wisp of air brushed across my skin and I froze in shock. This ghost was persistent. Normally, they never took this much time to see if I could hear them. His insistence began to intrigue me.

“Hello.” Caley snapped her fingers in front of my face. “Leave the aliens behind and return to mother earth.”

I laughed it away, but felt uncomfortable. The ghost knelt right beside Caley, well not really kneeling but more floating, and made it impossible not to look at him. The thing with ghost was they made it appear as if they were sitting on objects, lying down―things like that. In actuality, they floated very close but were never quite able to obtain any physical contact with the world around them. It was weird at first. Now, after seeing it for so many years, it no longer fazed me.

This ghost though had captured my attention. As much as I wanted to look away, I couldn’t―men like this were meant to be ogled. His eyes were predominantly blue, but each contained a thick chunk of chocolate brown within the blue. The contrast was stunning.

I’d never seen anything like it, but my amazement had only begun. He may be a ghost, but just by looking at him, I knew he either belonged to law enforcement or the military. Only men of this calibre―chiselled bodies, a tough air about them―were created within their ranks. His expression was firm and serious, but personality lived there too. Everything about him was conflicting. His strong jaw, the muscles clenching along his cheeks, all spoke of power. His kind eyes, soft plush lips, and untidy dirty blond hair showed playfulness.

He wore a black tank top which left his arms exposed and muscles upon muscles layered those arms. His body thick, wide with pure tough guy appeal.

“Anyways,” Caley said, drawing my gaze back to her. “I had to go out with Susanne and you know how much I enjoy that.”

I laughed. “Now that sounds appealing.” Caley’s step-sister is a horny twenty year old who had the body to fulfill her needs. Whenever Caley was out with her, she spent most of the time trying to keep her out of trouble. “You could have stayed home, you know.”

“Stayed home?” Caley’s expression showed her disgust. “On a Saturday night?”

“Yeah, you know, get some popcorn, watch movies―relax.”

Caley shook her head and gave a chastising look. “If you don’t stop this grandma behaviour, your va-jay-jay is going to shrivel up and die.”

The ghost let out a low chuckle. The sound hit me like a cup of warm cocoa causing my insides to melt. Annoyed, I forced the reaction away. First off, Caley was so wrong―well, maybe a little right―but I’d never admit it out loud. Second, being swooned by a ghost wasn’t on my to-do-list today.

“Excuse me, my va-jay-jay is just fine,” I retorted, not only to Caley, but I also wanted the irritating ghost to know.

“Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve still got some spunk.” Caley stood, placed her hands on her hips. “Because I have a date for us tonight.”

“A what?” A date? Oh God, no. What had Caley gotten me involved with now and more important who?

Caley’s grin showed pride in herself. “Yes, my dearest Grammy, we have a double date.”

“With who?”

“Two guys I met on Saturday night.” Her hands fell from her waist and she wagged her finger at me in classic Caley fashion. “And you’re going, either willingly or unwillingly, so deal with it.”

“But it’s a Monday night” Not that a date didn’t sound like fun. Hell, it’d been months, actually a year since I’d been on one, but a man Caley chose in a drunken stupor. No thanks. Being a dark brunette with the long shag look, emerald eyes surrounded by dark lashes, body of a twenty year old with boobs which screamed of youth, my looks were never the problem.

It was my random spouts of talking to myself, which was the anchor in my ship. My sex life was as dead as the man in front of me. That particular part of my body was more like a woman married for forty years―bored. But it didn’t mean I wanted to go out with anyone Caley set up for me, so I did my best to get out of this. “I have to work tomorrow.”

Caley pointed her wagging finger directly at my face, as a knowing glance rose to her face. “Grandma.”

I sighed and rolled my eyes. There would be no winning here. Caley’s relentless. It was a personality trait I respected most in her. She never backed down, always dreamed big and went for it. But it wasn’t all rays of sunshine. Her determination made her a little rough around the edges. Still, I loved her for it. She may have flaws, but she was loyal and trustworthy. Qualities hard to find nowadays.

If I wanted to keep any pride, I had to give in or it’d look like she won. That I couldn’t have. “Fine. I’ll go.”

Caley grinned, appeased. She spun on heels and headed toward the door. “I’ll pick you up at eight.” Then, she glanced back and winked. “Leave the granny panties at home.”

****

Ten long, gruelling hours dragged by. Not because my boss was as demanding as any two-year-old, but because the ghost still hadn’t left or shut up. The past hours he tried his best to get my attention. Good thing, I’m great at tuning people out or I would have caved after hour two.

With a long heavy sigh, I turned off the computer, cleaned up the papers, and just as I stood pushing the chair under the desk, the ghost said, “I know you can hear me.”

Apparently this was his favourite line, since he’d said it a thousand times over the past ten hours. A non-stop stream of jibber-jabber which was irritating. If the ghost’s voice wasn’t so damn luscious I wouldn’t be so wound up. Some spirits tried harder than others did but I never reacted to them like this. He had me intrigued. Still, I’d fight against that ridiculous feeling.

Quickly, I made it out of my office and toward the front door. After a wave good-bye to Doris, I stepped outside and breathed in the early evening air. Food mixed with exhaust from the cars on the busy street―everything that meant I was home.

The moment I took a step forward, my happiness faded when the ghost said, “I’m not leaving until you admit you can hear me.”

With a flick of my hair to dismiss him, I started down the street and soon I rounded onto Third Street. The ghost tried again, a little louder and more abrupt this time. “Dammit woman! Will you stop ignoring me? It’s annoying.”

I’m annoying him? I wanted to laugh at the ridiculous notion, but it would only give me away. So instead, I kept my eyes glued to the street in front of me, wanting nothing more than to be home.

A few blocks down, I turned onto G E Patterson Avenue, and my aching feet and head shouted in relief as my building came into view. On the outside, it appeared to be an old textile factory. Inside, it was anything but. The exact reason why I snatched one of the modern condos the day it’d gone on the market.

I made my way up the stairs while I took my keys from my purse. At the thick mahogany wooden door, I raised my key pass to the scanner, grabbed the chrome door handle, and swung it open. After I hurried in, the door closed behind me with the ghost right on my heels.

Just three doors down, I opened the door to my condo before slamming it closed behind me. Of course, it didn’t stop the ghost from melting through the door to invade my personal space.

Tossing the keys on the kitchen table, I dropped my purse on the floor and went straight for the bathroom. If this sneaky spirit followed me, a serious fit would be released.

As the bathroom closed shut behind me, I waited a moment, marvelling at my granite masterpiece. Large shower, corner Jacuzzi tub, modern sink with a glass bowl sitting atop, even the toilet looked sleek.

After a moment, I let out the breath I’d been holding, pleased the ghost was smart enough to stay away from here. At least, he had some morals or maybe just common sense.

What I needed was some space to breathe and the silence was pure bliss. At the shower, I turned on the water as hot as I could stand it, stripped off my clothes and stepped in to enjoy the moment of peace.

It wasn’t until my fingers were wrinkled and the bathroom was full of steam did I dare to get out. I turned the shower off, squeezed the water from my hair, and wrapped the warm towel around my body. With hesitation, knowing what was ahead of me, I opened the door to the bathroom and followed the steam out as I made my way across the dark hardwood floors toward the bedroom.

Halfway there, a sudden gasp―a deep, low gasp that spoke of shock and desire―stopped me.

But it didn’t stop me for long. No, I couldn’t play into this type of nonsense. I scooted into my bedroom then shut the door behind me and leaned against it. What in the hell was that all about? Did he think I was beautiful? The thought did bring a smile to my face. But as fast as it came, I forced it away. What was I thinking? Being flattered by a ghost was about as sick as it came.

Pushing those thoughts aside, I got dressed. Once done, I made my way back to the bathroom to take on the task of becoming a sexy kitten.

A while later, I replaced the cap on my lip gloss, returned it to the make-up bag, and took a step back to examine myself in the mirror. My hair was being kind to me and my makeup was bang on. With my low-riding dark wash jeans and blue plaid three-quarter length sleeve top, tied to leave my midriff exposed, I couldn’t have been more pleased. At least, I would look sexy while I suffered through the embarrassing blind date.

Right then, the familiar cold breeze swept across me again. I raised my gaze back from admiring my clothing to the mirror, I wasn’t alone. The ghost had joined me in the bathroom, and instinctively, I glanced at his face in the mirror.

“You can see me?” he stared at me with intent.

His eyes were so captivating. Everything in me screamed to look away and ignore him. But something in me just couldn’t do it. I wanted to be lost in those eyes. Who knew maybe that was his thing―a powerful presence which demanded he be heard. Whatever it was, it worked on me.

Seconds passed before I snapped back to reality, tore my gaze from the mirror, spun around and walked right through him. My breath hitched as a cold shudder rendered my muscles useless for a moment. It was equivalent to walking into a deep freeze. Luckily, the effects weren’t long lasting.

After my initial stagger, I persisted on and as I walked by the kitchen, the green numbers on my stainless steel stove glowed seven-fifty-eight. With sure steps, I hurried on and made it to the door, just needing to get the hell out of here and away from him. It’s one thing to see ghosts, another thing to help them if they demanded it, but to be attracted to one? This was beginning to linger into the land of the mentally unstable. I grabbed the door handle, tore through the door and didn’t stop for a second even as I heard him speak again.

“By the way, you look sexy as hell.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

WIPs Galore

Um, you see, I have this habit of bouncing from story to story. Focus is what I need, but I can't seem to find it.
Anyway, here's what I'm working on, in no particular order.

Bomb Voyage
Chasing Souls
Legionarii
Intergalactic Bounty Hunters Inc. (YA)
The Infamous Ava Frost
Backward Momentum
An Alien's Guide to Abducting a Bride
Blame it on Mars
One Shot
Legend
Call me Trouble
Casting Shadows
Clone
Hear No Evil
Love Happens
When Souls Collide
Red Door Detective Agency
Honey

I think that covers it, but I might have a neglected stray or two, hanging out on the hard drive. *Sighs*
As you can see, I have this little problem with ADD. The good news is I'm 3/4 the way through most of them.

Here's a snippet from Love Happens, started as a challenge from Rebecca Royce while I was playing around on FaceBook:

Valentine stared down from the tree, clinging to the trunk with all her strength. If she had her wings, she wouldn’t have had to climb the damn thing. This was so below her station. She was a daughter of Cupid, a step down from a god. She was meant to fly, not scramble up a tree like a monkey. How demeaning.


She’d no choice. Her father had plucked her wings and fired her from the family business. Screw, Cupid. She’d prove him wrong! Val tightened her grip and shifted her position leaning out further.

They were still too buried behind the branches. No clear shot. It didn’t mean she couldn’t see them—each unaware the other existed. They were the ultimate challenge, the most unlikely of mates. Her targets, an old woman of perhaps seventy and a man of maybe five years the woman’s senior, who both occupied an otherwise empty, outdoor plaza.

The mature woman sat silently, eating her predictable, tuna fish sandwich with extra lettuce, hold the tomato, tuna and mayo. She sat there every day—same time—same sandwich—same table.

Dressed head to toe in green except for a big flowered hat, the woman appeared to be in bloom with every flower imaginable. A bird landed on the table and she plucked some of the crust from her sandwich, hand-feeding the Chickadee.

The man—he too was cursed to routine. A neat freak and owner of the sandwich shop. He hated the summer. He hated people in general. Old, crotchety and seriously needing to get laid, one wouldn’t find a cooler character.

He kept busy, raking a broom back and forth across a sidewalk he’d already swept four times in the last hour. Val shuffled further out on the branch. Her fingers now barely made contact with the rough bark on the aged walnut.

The limb dipped under her weight and she began to wobble. She held her breath until the branch stopped moving and carefully drew her hand away from the trunk. Slowly she exhaled and reached back for an arrow.

She lifted her bow, nocked her arrow and drew back. The branch began to move again. Val froze, not daring to even breathe. Up and down the branch bounced, her heart bounced against her tonsils with each drop, and thumped into her stomach with each up lift. She wobbled back and forth, refusing to let go of her bow or take her eye off her target. Just as she thought she’d fall, it finally stopped and she regained her balance. Val exhaled and refocused on the target.

One second longer and she’d be on her ass. She could really use her wings, but the only way she was going to get them back was to prove her father wrong. That meant bagging the big one, the perfect means to prove to her family, a long line of Cupids, of which she was the only female ever born, she was up to the task.

She eyed the big one. Two more feet and he’d see it, the plastic fork she’d wedged into a crevice in the walk. It was irresistible. The perfect trap.

He stopped sweeping and zeroed in on it. Val smiled.

Gottcha!

He leaned his broom against a table, walked over to the offending utensil and stared down as though wishing would make it go away.

“Come on, come on. Pick it up.” Val groaned and blew her bangs off her forehead. “Pick—it—up.”

He bent over, displaying his bony ass like a great big bull’s eye. Finally! Val’s tongue poked from the side of her mouth as she focused on the shot that would put her back in dad’s good graces. Steady. She drew in a soft breath and blew it out slowly; waiting to take the shot the moment she emptied her lungs.

A bird took the same moment to land on her perch. The branch began to bounce again. Val’s fingers slipped on her draw and the arrow shot into the air. She didn’t get a chance to see where it landed. The next thing she knew, gravity snatched her from her perch and she plummeted toward the ground, hitting half a dozen branches on the way down.

She landed with a thud on top of a warm mountain of muscle.

“Ow!” The muscle shoved her off. “What the hell are you doing up in the tree?”

Val startled. He’d seen her? Perhaps he was talking to someone else. She sat up and looked around but there was no one else in the area. She turned toward her impact cushion and her heart jumped. Dark hair, dark eyes and more than a mouth-watering portion of manly muscle.

“I’m not talking to myself.” The man glared at her.

Val blinked when she realized he truly was addressing her. “Sorry. I was…” What was a good excuse? “Bird watching.” And why should she have to have an excuse? Cupids were invisible when they worked.

“You were spying on someone over there.”

Her eyes popped wide. “Was not.”

“Then what kind of bird were you watching?”

“A…” What kind of bird? “A…”

“I knew it.”

“A purple-throated, warbling eagle.” Hah!

“There’s no such thing.”

“Is too.” Wasn’t there? She could bluff. How could he possibly…

He rose to his feet and dusted off his uniform. Fish and Game peeked back at her from his name tag along with his name. Officer Infernos?

He could. Shit.

He looked down at the bow in her hands and back up. “Poaching?”

“Oh no,” she shook her head. “I wasn’t…”

“Can I see your hunting license?”

“Hunting license?” Cupids didn’t have hunting licenses. This was stupid. He shouldn’t even be able to see her. “I don’t have one.”

“Then I’m going to have to confiscate your bow and arrows.”

“What?” Val scrambled to her feet. “You can’t take my bow.” She eyed his bare head. Thick dark hair. A set of horns poked through the wavy mass. She shook her head and looked again. “You’re horny.”

“Excuse me?” His eyes dilated and his nostrils flared.

“Um.” Heat flooded her face. That so hadn’t come out the way she’d meant it. Not that Cupids didn’t have voracious appetites when it came to sex, but that was the last thing on her mind. He’d seen her and that could only mean one thing. Add the horns and well…“I meant your head. That’s why you can see me. You’re not human.”

He swiped his Smokey-the-Bear hat from the ground and crammed it onto his head. He snatched the bow and her quiver from her grasp. “Crazy people shouldn’t have weapons.”

“I’m not crazy. I know what I saw. You have horns.” She reached for the bow and he moved it away. “Give that back!”

“No.”

She lunged again and ended up chest to chest with Fish and Game’s finest. Val tipped her head back and looked into his burnt chocolate eyes. He stared back, not saying a thing.

Her heart began to thump in time with his. He was taller than he’d looked from when she’d been on the ground. On the, you-have-to-be-this-tall-to-get-on-this-ride-scale, he more than fit the requirement. “Please?” She pouted, giving him her most seductive look.

“No.” He stepped back. “Your I.D? You do have identification?”

“Of course.” She yanked her passport from the folds of her tunic.

He grabbed it and looked from her picture to her face and back. “Venetian. Figures.” He turned and walked over to a truck parked on the side of the plaza. Val scrambled to collect herself and dashed after him. “Please, you have to understand. I need that.”

He tossed her bow and arrows into his truck and climbed in. He put her passport on a clipboard and began to scrawl information on a form.

“Please.” How could he be so heartless? A Cupid without their bow wasn’t a Cupid. They were just some blonde, incredibly cute, but useless, angel. “I’ll give you anything you want.”

“You can start by paying this.” He crammed a citation into her hand with her passport. He lifted his fingers to his brim and tipped his hat. “Ma-am.” His truck pulled away from the curb, leaving her soaking in the burnt-oil fumes of his vehicle’s exhaust.

Val glanced down at the slip. Five hundred dollars! He’d fined her five hundred dollars? “You bastard!” She jumped up and down. Now not only did she have to steal her bow back, she had to get a job. She was on the last of her pocket change. Why? Why couldn’t things go easy just once? Was that too much to ask?

Val watched him disappear. He wasn’t getting away that easy. If anyone knew anything about stalking quarry, it was a Cupid. The Cupid name was synonymous with tracking prey. Val grabbed her pack from under some vegetation where she’d hidden it. She unzipped and reached in.

Her tunic provided her invisibility—well, most times it provided invisibility but not with Mr. Personality. If she was going to merge into the general population, she had to blend. And that meant she needed to dress as one of the natives.

She shook out a pair of pink, gray and white camouflage mini-skirt and a white baby tee that proclaimed in big bold letters, “Here Comes Trouble”.

When in Rome… She dropped her tunic and wiggled into the short shorts and tiny tee whose bottom failed to reach her waist, leaving a sliver her midriff exposed. Val grabbed a pair of cork-soled wedges, slipped them on and stuffed her malfunctioning tunic in her pack. He shouldn’t have been able to see her regardless what he was. Something was definitely off. Perhaps her father had taken more than her wings?

Now if she could find her wayward arrow, she could find her bow. The arrow placed on top of a lover’s seat would always spin and point toward her enchanted quiver and bow.

She cupped her hand over her eyes and stared out over the plaza. A bench where couples necked would be a good start. There was a fountain… A crowd had begun to gather around the fountain in the plaza that had been all but empty before. What gives? Val rose up on her toes but could see nothing. Other than climbing the tree again, which there was no way in Hades she was doing that, she’d have to get closer to look.

Still early in the morning, something attracted attention. In her line of business, that was never good. It also happened to be the direction her misguided arrow had flown. Yeah, depending on what it hit, it could be real bad. She’d better get down there.

****

The local wildlife was getting way too wild. If she’d had wings, he’d swear she was an angel. Her blonde ringlets had been too perfect, tumbling around her shoulders in a sexy riot like Aphrodite gone bad. Baby-blue eyes and a Cupid’s bow mouth complemented her heart-shaped face. And a toga? In this day and age? It could mean one thing. Crazy, hot chick or a college student out on a dare.

If he hadn’t come along when he did, she’d have shot the sandwich shop owner, old man Winters, in the ass, which would make her the crazy, hot chick.

Dameon touched one of the arrow tips in the quiver and drew his finger back. Warmth spread through him. Maybe he should go back and make sure she was okay?

He shook his head and threw off the strange feeling that invaded. No. He had things to do and that didn’t include chasing after escaped mental patients, no matter how cute. And she was attractive, otherwise his horns wouldn’t have come out. She’d nailed it when she’d blurted out he was horny, but jumping angelic nuts wasn’t on his list of to-dos. Not today.

Not tomorrow. Not ever.

He’d already packed his schedule and somehow he’d even managed to work in a couple of hours of sleep. Then she’d come along and fouled up what would have been a desperately needed nap. Now as he came off the night shift, he’d have to file a report on the poacher, lock up the confiscated evidence and if he was lucky, hit his mattress for a mini snooze.

With all the hunters he’d run out of the area this week, he’d need it, as November rolled around and the annual animal massacres had commenced. Since most of the animal population around the town consisted of weres, the last thing he needed was one of them getting shot and their hide tacked up on the wall or used for a rug. Besides, he had a thing for fluffy bunnies and innocent animals, not just of the supernatural kind. He be damned if anyone killed them.

By all means, he should have arrested her, but for some reason, he didn’t. He couldn’t explain his actions. Instincts told him not to and he’d learned over the years to listen to them. Dameon turned down the street where his little bungalow was located.

Shower—report—bed. No time for angels.

****

Val sauntered into the plaza outside the town hall. The crowd had doubled in a matter of minutes. She jumped up and down behind the crowd, trying to get a glimpse of whatever held their attention. A woman with small children spun around and dragged her kids away.

“Disgusting,” she huffed as she brushed past.

Val stopped her. “What is it?”

The woman turned. “Vandals. Someone added to David.”

“David?”

“The fountain statue. The reproduction of Michelangelo’s David?” The woman raised a brow as though what she spoke about was blatantly obvious.

“Not from around here.” Val smiled and glanced down at a dark-haired little girl with big eyes who hung on her every word, waiting to see if she’d blurt out whatever it was that had her mother’s panties in a wad. “Just got into town this morning.”

“Oh.” The woman frowned. “Please don’t take that adornment as any indication what our community is like. We’re upstanding citizens—civilized—for the most part.” She glanced over her shoulder and gave a snort before she turned back to Val. “Welcome to our little town.”

“Thank you.” Val rose up on her toes and tried to peek over the crowd. “I’m sure it only was mischievous kids. Every town has them,” Val said and looked into the woman’s amber eyes—the most unusual color she’d ever seen. Something about this place…

“Well,” the woman huffed and tightened her grip on her children’s hands, “their parents ought to keep them on a leash. You don’t see my little pups prowling around unsupervised.” The woman stormed off with her children in tow.

“On a leash? Pups? You’d think they were animals,” Val muttered and elbowed her way closer. She broke through the crowd and emerged in front of the fountain.” Val gasped. “Great Zeus.” Her father would kill her if he found out. David stood proud in the middle, looking into the distance as though he were expecting someone—perhaps a giant to slay. A very good replica, except—well, her arrow had enhanced certain features.

David had a boner.

Cupids were supposed to be discreet and that was about as un-discreet as one could get. How was she going to explain this? She eyed the statue’s erection.

She wasn’t. She was going to grab the evidence and run. Val kicked off her wedges and eyed the statue. She could really use invisibility right now, but wishing wasn’t going to fix the problem. Val sucked in a breath and worked her way toward the pool that surrounded the statue. Not too deep. She lifted her leg to step over the side and into the water, freezing in place when a bird landed on David’s penis and began to squawk. Val set her foot back down and leaned forward, looking closer.

The bird turned and flapped its wings, fixing her with a beady little stare. She’d seen that condescending look before, had grown up with it. Shit, shit, shit. That bird wasn’t a bird, it was her brother, and her father would have full disclosure by sundown. If he found out she’d lost her bow and arrows, there’d be Hades to pay. She had to get them back and quick, before her father came to town.

She spun around and spotted a sporting goods store. She wasn’t getting her arrow back now that her brother was around and she sure as hell couldn’t wait for him to leave. She’d have to find her bow the old-fashioned way and ask. If anyone would know where she could locate the yummy, albeit grouchy, fish and game guy, it would be someone in the sporting goods store. After all, they should sell hunting licenses.

Have a great weekend, all. Be sure to leave a comment on the posts from this week to get your chances to win the weekly prize.

Best,

D L

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