Dreaming in the Pages

Books ... where dreams are better than reality

Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Kiss Me in Paris by Kimberly Kinrade & Dmytry Karpov


    Travel to the most romantic city in the world and fall in love with Winter and Cade!

    If reviewers can be believed—and OF COURSE they can be—then Kiss Me in Paris is an epic tale of love, romance, family, friendship and forgiveness. For those of you who might think this book is just another insipid romance, not so my friend.

    Not so.

    You will pee your pants laughing and cry your eyes out weeping. You will become so angry you might need to punch something, and you will sigh in pure happiness. One reviewer even left part of her soul IN THE WORDS OF OUR BOOK.

    Yes, this is the power of Kiss Me in Paris. It’s SOUL STEALING, and we are not going to apologize for that.

    You see, we are the authors, and we are married, living our own epic romance. So epic we even had a fan-following during the early days of our courtship. So we know love.

    And we know you will love Kiss Me in Paris—a book that has garnered only FIVE STAR REVIEWS on Amazon as of the writing of this, and, we hope, forever and always!

    This week is our wedding anniversary, and Kiss Me in Paris is our first book baby, so we’re celebrating by offering this EPIC SAGA for only $2.99. That’s $2 off launch price and less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

    And it’s fat free, gluten free, calorie free and won’t stain your teeth.

    It will also take you longer to read than a cup of coffee takes you drink, and it will give you an entire adventure in Paris. Unless you’re drinking your coffee right there in the city of love, no coffee is going to do that for you.

    If you are drinking your coffee in Paris right now, then firstly, we’re jealous (send us a postcard, mmkay?), and secondly, still read this book, because PARIS. And LOVE. And EPICNESS.

    Here’s the part where we tell you about the book, but it’s really not enough to do it justice. So let us first say that there is just so much in Kiss Me in Paris. Layered themes and a sexy cowboy studying to be an architect, and a girl who’s a dreamer with a dark past, and gargoyles and Notre Dame and mazes designed by futuristic architects (because that’s an actual thing, and Cade will tell you what that means), and heartbreak and love and happy endings and evil and just SO MUCH.

    But here’s the ‘official’ blurb about Kiss Me in Paris.

    Kiss Me In Paris

    When the city of love brings two lost souls together, only their darkest secrets can tear them apart.

    Winter Deveaux tried love once. It didn’t end well. Unable to open herself up to another heartbreak, she hides in her romance novels as she struggles to break out as a real author. She thinks Paris holds the answer to a new start, but when her nightmare follows her across the world, she’s forced to face the darkness living like cancer inside her soul. If she doesn’t, she might miss her chance to become the kind of writer she’s always wanted to be. But more than that, she’ll miss out on the greatest love she’s ever known.

    Cade Savage is heir to the largest ranching family in Texas. Part cowboy, part architect, Cade has his feet forever in two worlds. When he receives an acceptance letter from the school of his dreams, he must decide between family and destiny. But ghosts from his past still haunt him, and circumstances beyond his control may decide his fate.

    When Winter and Cade meet, everything they believe about life, love and what it means to be happy is put to the test.

    Will the magic of Paris pull these two lost souls together? Or will their darkest secrets tear them apart?

    Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance

    Full length novel: 87, 000 words

    Kiss Me in Paris is a standalone novel in the Kiss Me Series. Travel the world with the Deveaux sisters as they find love, and trouble, in all the right places.


    Reviews are in for Kiss Me in Paris

    5 stars “I experienced every emotion as each character felt it. Every tear, every laugh, all of the fear, anxiety, and stress, I experienced every last bit of it. And even though this is a romance, there are tears. I cried more times reading Kiss Me in Paris than I did watching Nicholas Sparks’ The Last Song. Kiss Me in Paris left me hollow when I finally finished it. I feel as if a piece of me was left in the words as I read <this is where the book STEALS SOULS>. And for once, I have a book to call my favorite.” ~Merumei on Amazon

    5 stars “A timeless and beautiful love story that will sweep you off your feet, but it’s also much more than that. <We’re not making this part up. These are real reviews.>” ~Amy Conley, Amazon

    5 stars “Beautifully drawn characters and stunning pallets that bring you in to Paris itself. <Where else are you going to get a trip to Paris for $2.99. WHERE?>” ~Stormy, Amazon


    Some favorite quotes from Kiss Me in Paris


  • “One star breaks off from the others, shooting across the sky, a bright light trailing behind it, and I finally understand why people wish on dying stars. Because something always has to die for life to give birth to a new dream. ”

  • “Paris is pregnant with layers of history, colored with the ink of artists who dared to dream of a world only they could see.”

  • “It’s like I’m giving birth from my mouth.” <You’ll understand this when you get to chapter 5. Then you’ll pee your pants laughing.>

  • “It’s the nature of being human that, in our own blindness, we lash out and blind others.”

  • “I think of Winter, of her smile, her eyes, her arms wrapped around me, and I know where home is. It’s wherever she is, and right now she is too far away. My heart has escaped my body and is walking Paris without me.”

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Deleting God by Nicholas L. Maze

Chapter One

For most people, Church is the normal Sunday morning routine. There are, of course services, on other days, and the routine worship day may vary according to religion or denomination, but Sunday is the most recognized day. In most cities on a Sunday morning, if you turn on your local radio station, you will hear Christian music and the morning inspirational message. Christianity and Sunday has become one in the same. They have become a tradition.

Not only has Sunday become a tradition in Christianity, but attending Church has as well. Although making Church attendance a regular routine is important, it is the traditions that alter the overall purpose of Church. Every generation has a tendency to neglect the values of their previous generation. They never had to struggle, fight, or work hard for those values, so they approach them with a nonchalant mindset. In reality, this is how traditions are formed. Traditions are developed based on history. For example, “Since my ancestors fought for this/that, I will continue to stand for it.” Rarely do people take the time to learn, study, and understand the purpose of

their ancestors’ values. As the generations to follow come about, values continue to depreciate. As a result, the original purpose and values have been stripped away and all you have is tradition. No substance, no purpose, no values, just tradition.

In Matthew, the 15th chapter, we find an interesting view of tradition. In this chapter, Jesus is approached and criticized by the Pharisees because His disciples are not following the status quo. Jesus replies and says that GOD’s commandment has been made of none effect because of the man-made Pharisaical traditions. This is a powerful display of how focusing on tradition can easily destroy our purpose with GOD:

“15 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying ,2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die

the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.

Modern Christianity is fueled by tradition. Nowadays, we focus more on the entertainment of Christianity and less on the fundamentals that build a firm foundation. You will find more people dressing up to attend what has turned into an event, than you will find people taking notes to gain an understanding of GOD’s Word. We run to Spiritual Leaders that are the best dressed, have the most charisma, money, and can produce a good laugh. Some people arrive at Church expecting humor and an enjoyable show. It is becoming so extreme that people are bringing food and beverages into the sanctuary as if they are attending a movie theatre.

This type of behavior from the members of the Church is also altering the leaders of the Church. In order to draw in the most followers and remain loved by their members, leaders are providing a circus atmosphere to keep their members entertained and excited. They’ve allowed members to use the front of the sanctuary as a dance floor. They’ve brought back the traditional “hound dog” preaching. They have allowed dining and the distraction of others to take place in what was once considered a Holy sanctuary. These alterations and traditions are making GOD’s commandment of none effect. The spiritual battle of winning souls is being lost because nowadays most people come to Church to be entertained and to maintain the tradition.


The early Church originated in Roman Judea, in the first century A.D. It was founded on the teachings of Jesus Christ. It began with Jesus’ Apostles,

whom Jesus commanded to spread His teachings to the entire world. Originally, Jewish Christians met in synagogues and in one another’s homes, which were known as house churches. Although most say

the reason for the house churches was the small size of the congregation, some believe the small churches were a deliberate apostolic pattern in the first century and intended by Christ. Eventually, Christianity became more accepted by governments as it began to grow. Afterwards, rooms and entire buildings were set aside for the explicit purpose of Christian worship.

Prior to being legalized, the Christian Church was a widely persecuted religion. It was condemned by the Jewish authorities as a heresy. Christianity teachings were fundamentally foreign to the polytheistic traditions of the ancient world. Imagine having someone approach you about an individual that will kill you for wrong and save you for good. Or better yet, the request that you give 10% of your wealth to this individual. These teachings were perceived as being heresy. Although theses types of conflict took place in the first century, it is still happening today.

The world is filled with lost souls and what they are hearing as it relates to Christ equates to a foreign language. One of the reasons the language is foreign is the fact that just as in the first century,

many people in the world have no true understanding of GOD and HIS Word. They may see a Church filled with people and hear various people talk about HIM, yet they are still misguided as to who HE really is and the true power of HIS Word. When the people that spread GOD’s Word approach people in the street to teach about HIS goodness, many are viewing it as heresy. To make matters worse, they are hearing the teachings from Christians that also have no understanding of GOD’s Word. Many Christians attend Church faithfully and never make an effort to learn about GOD and/or study HIS Word. They only memorize various sermons and try to win people with an overview and not the true understanding of HIS Word. Modern day Christians are working with bits and pieces of their religion which makes their words seem even more foreign. With limited knowledge, modern day Christians try to convince others to be a part of their religion.


Today, most Christians don’t realize the important role they play in their religion. They understand that the Pastor or Spiritual Leader will ask for money, and that they have to dress up on Sunday. They have limited understanding of the Bible, and thus are limited in their spiritual power. It has become rare to find a Christian roaming the streets witnessing to individuals, trying to convince them to give their lives to Christ. Nowadays, Christians sell food and give away free items to attract people. Their spiritual strength is based within a building. Whatever happens within the building structure is considered good enough. The thought pattern is: “If I shouted, shed a tear, or sing a song, I know I have made GOD happy. I have done my part”. This is the very reason we see the same vehicles outside in the parking lot on a weekly basis.

Just bringing a loved one to your Church as a visitor is not the solution. A soul cannot be saved, if there is no understanding of why it should be saved. Yelling at an individual and telling them they’re wrong is useless. This type of behavior has been tried on children. When you yell at a child and send them to their room for punishment,

nothing is learned. The only thing they learn is not to get caught next time. So, if it doesn’t work on children, how can we expect this method to work on adults? GOD anointed spiritual leaders to educate you so that you would be armed with the same power as Christ. We’ve allowed modern day Christianity to have no effect. We, being the weapons of GOD, go out into the world with no ammunition. Our ammunition being the knowledge of GOD.

We can start through Church attendance, hearing GOD’s Word through an anointed leader. The leader’s enlightenment on GOD’s Word provides better understanding to those in attendance. Just like a student in school, it is impossible to remember everything being taught, so it is a good idea to take notes that you can review later. By going back over your notes, you refresh your mind on the teachings and generate a better understanding of what you have been taught through the sermon or teachings; at the same time, study the Word for yourself at home, at your job, etc., constantly feeding your brain and preparing yourself for a spiritual battle. The souls that we

desire to win are constantly being fed by the influences of this world regularly, so we also must be prepared. When a lost soul questions our faith and beliefs, we will have an answer and be able to display GOD’s power and how HE has restored our lives. We should not have to say, “See my Pastor” or “I’ll get back with you on that.” It should be studied and stored within us. There should be such an anointing that you have the answers before they can ask the questions. This is

why we go to Church. Not to show off a new outfit,

not to discuss dinner, not to gossip, not to get free candy, not to sleep, but to worship and learn GOD’s Word. We go to unite with other thirsty Christians and become equipped with GOD’s anointing.

Even with a desire to learn and grow in GOD’s Word, there are still situations and surroundings that place a barrier between reaching those goals. Sometimes it can be an individual or sometimes it can even be the Church itself. Some are manageable and some are simply impossible to change. Some situations have become so routine that they are expected in a Church setting.

Whatever the case, these issues can weaken the growth of a Church. It is the various issues that will be mentioned in the following chapters that led to the creation of Deleting GOD. Like so many others, I have had my share of negative experiences within a Church setting. There were some experiences that upset me (and I’m sure others) so much that led me to turn away from the Church for a while. After having my own share of personal experiences, I felt this was a subject that had to be spoken on. As previously stated, future generations have not struggled like past generations in standing for their religious beliefs. All they have is what they have experienced, and if that experience is dressing up for two hours and buying a dinner from the kitchen, then GOD is not pleased.

Deleting GOD is an open window to the often times overlooked issues that exist within a Church. Problems cannot be resolved if we never know they exist, so it is important that we bring the issues to light and pray for change. I, myself am not a perfect individual and I feel that this journey has strengthened me, while helping others. Having served as an usher for a number of years has

allowed me to experience various Church services from a different point of view. During service, an usher is not only focused on the Spiritual Leader, He/She must be focused on the congregation as well. An usher is an armor bearer whose job is to make sure that the service runs smoothly. With such an important role, an usher’s eye is trained to observe situations that the average Church attendee may not see. If an individual holds that position on a regular basis, he/she will easily notice repetitive behavior during service. Although these situations may seem minor to some, they easily hinder individuals from learning and understanding GOD’s Word. They easily become a distraction that takes our focus off of what is being taught, and in turn forces us to come short in learning the Word of GOD.


Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Religion / Spirituality

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Nicholas Maze on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.nicholasmaze.com/

Review: The Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories by John Hartnett

The Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap SeatsThe Barber's Conundrum and Other Stories: Observations on Life from the Cheap Seats by John Hartnett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What I didn’t like … The usage of hyphens and exclamation marks were slightly annoying. There were too many exclamation marks and the spacing between hyphens was not consistent. You have some with a single space and others with more. One or two, even three are forgivable but multiple times and you start mentally correcting it and get distracted from what you are reading.

Favourite chapter …. For this reader, “How Bananas Almost Destroyed My Marriage” was roll-on-the-floor-laughing material especially when he says, “Which one of us is right? Aha! All couples on the dance floor,please.” If you have lived with someone, you will know that it is the smallest sometimes most insignificant of habits that can be the most annoying and there is a point you snap. Loved the way Hartnett wrote this.

Favourite quote … If you ever hear the automated words, “Your call is important to us,” that’s a company run by aliens from outer space. Hang up and don’t try again - The author points how “aliens” have taken over the entire customer service industry since the mid-eighties. This is a chapter most readers can relate with because hey, who hasn’t had to deal with customer service of some kind?

Disclosure - As a Quality Reads Book Club member, I received a free copy of this book from the author via Orangeberry Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.

View all my reviews

Orangeberry Book of the Day – London Underground by Chris Angus


London — May 1528

The Reign of King Henry VIII

The French Ambassador to the English court, Du Bellai, contemplated his young aide. The lad was barely seventeen, but he would grow older before this day was out…if any of them lived so long.

“Tell me again,” Du Bellai demanded. “And stop babbling. Speak clearly.”

The boy took a deep breath, then looked around with frightened eyes, as if that simple act might condemn him.

“One of the filles de chambre of Mlle Boleyn was taken ill. She was laid low very quickly. Mlle Boleyn called for her physician, who examined the girl and then spoke quickly to my lady. They both immediately left the chamber. I overheard the physician say he feared it was the Sweat.”

Du Bellai felt a cold hand squeeze his heart. It had been a dozen years since the last outbreak of the dreaded disease. Some called it the “Affliction of the Henrys,” for it first appeared at the start of the reign of Henry VII in 1485. It had caused great mortality and become known by its special symptom as the “sweating sickness.” Distinct from the plague, it was noted for its even more rapid and fatal course.

He had read the treatise, written in Latin, by Thomas Forestier concerning the 1485 epidemic, which included the description: “…the exterior is calm in this fever, the interior excited…the heat in the pestilent fever many times does not appear excessive to the doctor, nor the heat of the sweat itself particularly high…But it is on account of the ill-natured, fetid, corrupt, putrid, and loathsome vapors close to the region of the heart and of the lungs whereby the panting of the breath magnifies and increases and restricts itself…”

The young aide shook with fear, desperate to get away from this awful place. “The king and Mlle Boleyn have fled the city. All of my lady’s attendants have disappeared as well. The afflicted woman is dead. There is no one to remove her body.”

“You and I will remove the body,” said the ambassador.

The boy was horrified. “It will be a death sentence. I cannot.”

“Listen to me. You have already been exposed. Either you will get the sickness or you will not. But the body must be removed and burned at once.”

He grabbed the boy by the arm and dragged him back into Mlle Boleyn’s deserted apartments, pausing long enough to prepare face masks and to place garlic around both of their necks. When they reached the bedroom, the body of the young lady in waiting lay contorted on drenched bedding. Her face was white, characteristic of the terrible illness, and there were no outbreaks on her fair skin.

“Tear down those drapes,” he ordered the aide, who moved forward as if in a dream.

Together, they wrapped the body in the drapes, trying not to touch any bare skin that showed. They carried it and the remaining bedding out into the nearest courtyard, where they dumped it unceremoniously. They piled what wood they could find on top of it, saturated everything with lamp oil and set it ablaze.

As Du Bellai stood back, so as not to breathe in the vapors and smoke, his young aide scampered away, leaving him alone. It no longer mattered, and the ambassador could hardly blame him. He wanted to run as well, but believed it would do no good. He had read the history of the first outbreaks. It was thought that the Sweat might have been brought to England at the end of the Wars of the Roses by the French mercenaries Henry VII used to gain the English throne. Those mercenaries had seemed immune to the disease. He wondered if, by some miracle, his nationality might also save him.

As the woman’s body was consumed, he considered whether he ought to set fire to the entire palace…


London was in chaos. Tens of thousands lay dead from the outbreak of the Sweat. Anyone in the city who could afford to do so fled to the outlying towns, spreading the scourge even farther in the process. The first to flee—like rats leaving a sinking ship—were the royal family and its retainers. The common people were well aware that they had been abandoned to their fates. There was nothing new about this and they were resigned to it.

Those who had homes remained inside, appearing as necessary at their doors to thrust their dead into the streets, where they were picked up in carts by the lowliest workers in the city. Those who lived in the streets—and there were thousands of them—got drunk and roamed the cobbled byways in search of carnal pleasures to help while away their final hours. Despair was absolute. There was no treatment, no safe haven, no one to turn to for succor. The bodies piled ever higher.

A dozen miles outside the city, King Henry VIII sat in his tent in a farmer’s field next to a peaceful stream. Servants bustled about the clearing, raising more tents, building an enclosure for animals and posting guards to keep any of the sick or just plain curious, away. Henry’s wife Catherine had been out of the city when the great affliction broke out. Though he was king, his lot was cast with those who cared for him. He could not exist without the retainers he was so used to having around him. If any of them were already infected, then he would be too.

This included Anne Boleyn. It was a risk to be with her, for it was her chambermaid who had become ill. But Henry was infatuated by Anne. Nothing could keep them apart.

With uncommon foresight for one so young, Anne kept that fervor alive by refusing to submit to Henry until he divorced Catherine and agreed to marry her.

Now she sat beside him, stroking his forehead. “Do not fear, my Lord. The Sweat would not dare infect the King of England.”

“We know you are right, Anne. Still, we will stay here in the country until we hear that the danger is past.” He put his arms around her. “There is something else we have ordered.”

“My Lord?”

“It is a secret we wish to tell you—to show our love. Before the scourge fell upon us, we ordered a part of our treasures to be hidden. We have long believed this to be a worthy idea in the event of some terrible catastrophe as has recently visited our people. The city will soon be in riot, and there is no one to protect the king’s treasury.”

“Surely the people will be too sick to take advantage of such a situation—and they will fear your retribution.”

“That they should!” Henry’s fist pounded the arm of his chair. “But the safety of the royal fortune has long worried us. There are those in the court, foreigners and Frenchmen who would not hesitate to steal from us.”

She sighed. “I fear it may be true. But what can be done?”

He looked at her slyly. “We are not king for nothing, my lovely Anne. Only in recent weeks did our navy take possession of one of the richest Spanish galleons ever captured at sea. We have had this treasure hidden, along with other valuables from our personal collection. If the treasury is looted, there will be enough left to replenish our fortune.”

“What of the men who undertook this task for the king? In the chaos of the sickness, will they not seek to enrich themselves?”

“The men involved have been dealt with. And there is this to tell you, Anne. We intend to leave this treasure well and truly buried even after the pestilence passes, as a security for the realm.”

He pulled her close and whispered the location of the treasure. Her eyes gleamed at the confidence. She was privy to the most important secret of the realm. Placing her hands on Henry’s florid cheeks, she stared into his eyes. “You are a great king, Henry, and one day I will be your wife and have fine sons for you. Your people are fortunate to have a leader who looks to their future welfare.” She kissed him. “Pray, tell me, what does the future hold for me?”

“You have a beautiful head on your shoulders, Anne. It will have a roll all its own in the future of our country.”

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Thriller

Rating – PG

More details about the book

Connect with Chris Angus on Facebook

Jack Remick – Some Techniques and Tips

Some Techniques and Tips - Writing Tips for the Committed Novelist

by Jack Remick

I want to share with you a few words about how I write. Every Tuesday and Friday, I sit down with a bunch of writers at Louisa’s Bakery Café in Seattle. We write for forty-five minutes under the clock. For years I wrote alone until Robert Ray introduced me to Natalie Goldberg and timed writing. Working with other writers—especially writers who know more than you do—gets you outside your head. You get feedback faster, you get to the rewrite quicker. The way I see it, the art is in the rewrite so the sooner you get a working draft the better you’ll write. With timed writing you don’t die in Act Two.

Timed writing—what Natalie Goldberg calls “Writing Practice”—is either the devil’s design to stifle your creativity or the gateway to a paradise of writing. For me, timed writing is liberation. Timed writing is easy: you get a kitchen timer, set it for five, ten, fifteen minutes and write as deep and rich as your hand will let you. I like the physical connection of the fountain pen on paper, so I write longhand. Some writers at Louisa’s write on laptops. That’s okay. The idea is to finish what you start—that’s the major discipline. Finish what you start.

I use “start lines” to get going. If I’m working on a novel, I might use—“Today I rewrite the scene called…

If I’m with my group at Louisa’s and I’m not locked into a novel or a story, the start line “today I’m writing about…” gives me plenty of room to explode. I use timed writing to write treatments, scene summaries, memoir moments, short stories, screenplay scenes. The big thing with timed writing is that you can use it to go nuts on the page, or you can use it in a very structured way to create tight, hard, clear, clean sentences, scenes, stories. I don’t think in terms of paragraphs, but I do think in terms of “action” and “image.” When I’m writing in a more structured way, I use a directed set of start lines. For instance, to write a three-act treatment for a novel here’s a set of start lines you can use:

  • Act One opens when….
  • Act One ends when….
  • Act Two opens in a scene called….
  • At the middle of my story, my protagonist….
  • Act Two ends when….
  • Act Three opens when….
  • My story climaxes in a scene called….
  • My story ends with this final image….

I keep a blog with Robert J Ray, author of the Matt Murdock detective novels. We’ve posted everything we know about writing there—http://bobandjackswritingblog.com. Take a look. It’s there for the asking.

The Widow (La Viuda) is ninety-two years old. She lives in a house filled with photos and coins, jewels and a sable coat. Aware that her memory is failing but burning with desire to record the story of her life on paper, she hires Gabriela, a nineteen-year-old Mixteca from Mexico. Gabriela is one of the few survivors of a massacre and treacherous journey to El Norte. Gabriela and the Widow is a story of chaos, revenge, and change: death and love, love and sex, and sex and death. Gabriela seeks revenge for the destruction of her village. The Widow craves balance for the betrayals in her life. In the end, the Widow gives Gabriela the secret of immortality.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with Jack Remick on Twitter

Website http://jackremick.com/

Author Interview – John Hartnett

Is there any books you really don’t enjoy? Historical fiction prior to the mid to late 1800′s.  That’s too far for me to go and I don’t like to read about King Arthur, secret monk societies or Clan of the Cave Bear people.  I need plots that take place at a time where electricity has already been invented so I can see where I’m reading.

What do you hope your obituary will say about you? John Hartnett returned all his books to the library on time and in the condition in which they were checked out.

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live? This is a full circle tale.  I grew up in Cranford, NJ and after college, moved to CA where I lived for 14 years.  I moved back to Cranford in 1997 and live a mile or so away from my parents.

How did you develop your writing? Most of what I write is humor based.  Not all, but most of it. I developed my voice after years of reading the work of other authors and humorists, watching television and movies and studying the skills of comedy writers and performers.

Where do you get your inspiration from? The belief that I can make a career out of being a writer.

The Barber’s Conundrum and Other Stories is more than just a collection of thirty-seven short literary humor pieces and humorous jokes that will make you laugh. It provides a treasure trove of tips and invaluable advice to help you navigate safely through marriage and relationships, raising kids and to finally understand the more peculiar aspects of day to day living that up until now, had been tossed into a big heap as just another one of God’s mysteries.

For example, did you ever wonder why weather reporters continue to stand in the middle of raging hurricanes to tell us what hurricanes are like when everybody else already knows what hurricanes are like? Did you ever wonder why people stop their cars in the middle of the street to let geese walk past even though geese have been flying long before Cro- Magnon Man was in knee pants? Did you ever think that if aliens do exist on our planet, most of them work in customer service? They do!

All of that, and more is in the book, so what do you say? At $8.99, you’re guaranteed to receive at least $10.50 worth of terrific advice and life extending laughter, which as we know is the best medicine, and there’s never a co-pay with laughter so you’re up well over $20 already and this is only the back cover. Think of the possibilities to save when you read the whole thing.

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre –  Humor

Rating – PG

More details about the author

Connect with John Hartnett on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://monkeybellhop.com/

Friday, July 5, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Magicstorm (Heart of a Vampire) by Amber Kallyn

Chapter One

Brandon Wulfgar sat stiffly on the icy metal chair. He took a hefty gulp of his drink--a mix of blood and whiskey--never glancing away from his twin brother. Eric lay in the bed, facing the stone wall of the dungeon room. He mumbled in his dreams, the quiet mutterings occasionally punctuated by short, guttural screams. Was he reliving the painful past they’d shared, or that of Eric’s own more recent tortures?

The room stank of cold sweat, permeated by fear and agony.

Brandon’s hands clenched and the mug cracked. It crashed to the floor, shattering.

He stared at the white shards of ceramic covered in crimson. The sight mirrored how he felt, unable to help his brother pick up the pieces and leave the darkness he’d descended into.

With a sigh, he stood and headed for the hall. His king’s new wife was going to be pissed he’d broken yet another cup. He snorted, the sound lacking any amusement. Dalia would just have to deal with it.

He opened the door, then stopped short.

Dalia stood in the hall, arms crossed, tapping her foot. Her short pink-streaked blonde hair settled around her pointed chin and her green eyes flared, vampire-red circling the irises. “Again?” she demanded.

It didn’t matter he dwarfed her with his six-foot-four height, nor that he was ten times stronger. All she had to do was shoot that look of hers and even the strongest of the vampire warriors living in the castle crumbled as if facing a disappointed mother.

Brandon merely shrugged. “I’ll clean it up.”

“Yeah, right.” Her gaze softened as she looked past him to Eric. “No change?”


She straightened, rubbing her hands together. “Jordan wants to talk to you. I’ll sit with your brother. And I’ll clean up the poor cup. Again.” Shooting him an ironic look, she added, “We’re almost out of dishes.”

It wasn’t true, but she had a point. He’d gone through an awful lot of mugs lately. But it wasn’t on purpose.

As the older twin, albeit only by five minutes, he’d been raised to protect his brother. To fight the world, side-by-side. Yet he was failing miserably, unable to draw Eric from the cocoon of sleep where he’d escaped.

Dalia entered the dungeon room, and leaving the thick metal door open a bit, sat in the chair Brandon had vacated. She leaned back, hands folded in her lap and started humming. Her voice was soft and airy, a sound guaranteed to get soul-deep inside anyone listening and make them feel better.

As an Omega, she could calm people’s ragged emotions. More recently, with her magic growing, she no longer needed to look into their eyes to gain that connection. Her voice could suck anyone in when she tried.

Brandon’s shoulders tightened when her voice brought no reaction from Eric. It took most of his will to leave, but he forced himself to walk down the icy hallway, and upstairs to his king’s chamber.

Inside, Jordan reclined in a chair, facing the fireplace. The man held a glass of amber-colored liquid. A second full glass sat on the table beside him.

“Sit for a while,” Jordan stated, his Scottish brogue thicker than normal.

Brandon twitched at the tension in Jordan’s voice, and crossed the room to the waiting chair on the other side of the table.

“Any change with Eric?” Jordan lifted his drink and sipped, trying to act casual as he ran a hand through his short blond hair.

Taking his own glass, Brandon gulped it down. The smooth whiskey burned his throat, then settled warmly in his gut. “No.”

Jordan sighed, shifting to face Brandon fully.

Trepidation filled him. The man was normally direct.

“The ‘cult killings’ have started once more in the city,” Jordan said, his gaze dark with anger and confusion.

“But Connor killed the demon behind them just a few weeks ago,” Brandon protested.

“Aye. Yet, here we are.”

Brandon set his empty glass back on the table before he broke that one too. “So is Connor returning?”

“He’s busy with something else.”

“What? His refound family?”

“Nay. Something for the Magic Council.”

Considering the man was a Judge for the council, it shouldn’t be surprising. “So they’re not sending him back?”

“Not now.”

A sinking suspicion crawled into his gut. “Then who are you sending to investigate?”

Jordan just stared at him.

Jumping to his feet, Brandon paced to the fireplace. “I can’t go. Eric needs me--”

Jordan’s voice broke through his agitation. “Needs you? He hasn’t said two words in the last month. He doesn’t respond to anything we try.” He stood, arms behind his back, as Brandon paced. “Someone has to take care of the problem. If it’s another demon, you’re the only one I can send.”

Anger turned his stomach, bile burned up his chest. “I can’t leave my brother.”

Jordan’s voice cracked like steel. “You’ll tell me no?”

Stopping short, Brandon slowly swung around and met his king’s blazing red gaze. He’d never told Jordan “no,” since the man had rescued both him and Eric from living agony. But to leave his brother...

The tension in his shoulders ached. His chest tightened and he gave his king the only answer he could. “When do I leave?”



Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Paranormal / Vampire Romance

Rating – PG

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Author Interview – Garry Rogers

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Girls inspired me to write.  I wrote about them, and I wrote to them.  I was very sentimental.  Occasionally they wrote back, but they all broke my heart.

What do you consider most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? The hardest thing is to relax and let the ideas fall on the page.  Too often, concerns for grammar, precision, and originality get in the way.  Then everything is stiff and dull.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? Being a first novel, it taught me a great deal.  I began by creating the backstory and a few bits of dialog.  Then I started reading about writing.  I read the advice of hundreds of writers.  For the first year, I tried to keep track of all their names, but there were too many.  I studied several textbooks.  I tried and retried different techniques.  Now I need lots more practice.  I hope my readers forgive me for my fumbling beginning.  I will improve.

Do you intend to make writing a career? Writing is my career.  After achieving my childhood goals to become a scientist and a business entrepreneur, I believed I was finished.  Then the idea for the world of the Tsaeb came along.  My boyhood enthusiasm returned and I became eager for new discoveries.  I realize now that writing was always part of my activities.  It didn’t take center stage because I had other goals:  solving research puzzles and expanding a business.  Now my main goal is to write well.

Have you developed a specific writing style? No.  There are glimmers, but nothing yet.

How did you develop your plot and characters? The theme and backstory determine the plot and characters.  Revisions of first drafts

When an armed Danog patrol crosses the border into Wycliff District, the Wycliff Council sends a young Tsaeb warrior named Corr Syl to investigate and recommend a response. Corr soon learns that spies have infiltrated his district, and already many lives are at risk. He catches a glimpse of something truly evil, and with no time to spare, must choose between a safe response that might fail, and a sure response that might start a global war.

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Genre –  Science Fiction

Rating – PG

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Website http://garryrogers.com/

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Tolomay’s World & The Pool of Light by ME Lorde


ChapTer One

“Peace of life,” said the chideman as he poured the blue water from the glass urn into the pool.  It was surreal.

“Peace of life.” My response was automatic.

My heart pounded.  For thirteen years I’d trained for this.  Still I was not ready.  The machine’s copper pipes gave off a warm smell that drifted to my nostrils as if precious biscuits were baking in the eating room.  The calming scent only made it worse.  I was leaving.

On display before every citizen in the community, my bare feet stepped the few inches further to the edge of the pool.  Fear haunted my mind.  Shivering from head to toe caused my short golden dress to tickle at the tops of my thighs.  I brushed away the itch.  Goose bumps peppered my arms and legs.  I was freezing.  For a moment, the massive musics and sounds on the stage overwhelmed me.  I was small in comparison to everything here, all present and to this wondrous event.  Through dazed thoughts, my focus returned and I remembered to count to three before placing my foot in the shallow liquid.

With eyes watering, my every heartbeat echoed in my ears.  Never again would my father’s eyes look upon me.  Never again would I feel his warm embrace.  I would so miss his gentle, loving voice.  How would I bear it?  I fought my great desire to turn and dart to him, or steal a look as he sat in his chair upon the stage.  Instead, I kept my step. 

There would not be another last goodbye.  We already said it, and he wanted just the one.  It would be my greatest honor to him to leave with the dignity, respect, and position he bestowed upon me, to act older than my meager thirteen years.  I had to be brave and pave the way for the others, as he had instructed.

The tears nearly choked me as I quietly sniffed them back.  I could scarcely see, but chose not to rub the wet away.  Everyone would notice.  More would only follow and my eyes would be closed soon enough.  The time had arrived.  This was no longer wholly my choice.  I was being led by my duty and so had to control my emotions for these last few seconds.

The immaculate stage held static, causing the miniscule hairs on my head to stand on end.  They reached toward the beautiful colored glass of the cathedral roof in the pod community’s grandest room, as if they too wanted to stay.  The urge to run, to escape, consumed me, yet I betrayed my heart, followed my learned directions, and kept my course.

No matter the logic and knowledge in my head, nothing had prepared me for this feeling of claws tearing me apart from the inside out.  I fought off the nausea.  I could not be ill, not in front of the community while representing my father.

The crystal and copper Pool of Light lay before the five of us, with solar panels running from floor to ceiling as the toner’s chorus continued to sing behind us.  The brilliant round majesty beneath my feet, only half a foot deep, held the key to our futures and to what would become the whole of humanity.  We were taking these steps for everyone.  Once we left, we could never return home.

Tarron had ordered that we space ourselves just two paces separated, one behind the next.  The four older candidates followed behind me, the taste of anticipation mingling with the hum of energy that filled the great room.  My mind whirled.

‘Keep walking forward… do not turn around’, father’s words echoed in my head.

I was horrified.  Chills took residence up and down my spine, causing me to shake further.  How would my days unfold without him by my side?  How could I leave him alone?  My heart was dying.

‘The coming light can blind, if you lose protection of your eyelids,’ he had warned.

Think only of your training and the swim, I reprimanded myself against my inert weakness. Focus.  You are leading the others.

I squeezed my eyes closed.

“Your eyes… don’t forget,” I choked out the words, reminding the four following me to keep their’s closed as well.

The desire to see where my feet landed was nearly more than I could endure as I took my next step.  Blindly, trembling as I’d never thought possible, I walked on until a humming of energy engulfed me.  Then a wall of water, warm and flowing, caressed my face and arms and legs until I was drenched in it.  It unnerved me.  I imagined my skin would feel this way if covered with a million tiny insects. That vision sent more shivers.  I rubbed away the feeling.  Fear controlled me.  I was holding my breath.

‘Do not forget to breathe, Tolomay’, I remembered father’s training. ‘Or you may lose consciousness.’

Barely able to manage my thoughts, I took back my air and continued forward.

A light penetrated the liquid as if they were one and the same.  Much too bright, even with closed eyes, it rained down upon my body as if it were the sun and had no limits.  The burning lasted only a moment and rid me of my chills.  Then I was struck hard in the back by a force that seemed more as power than matter.  It propelled me through the air so fast I almost opened my eyes, but instead fell into a somersault, ending in a stand as I had been trained. 

The grasses felt soft beneath my bare feet.  The air smelled completely different... fresh and clean.  Was it safe to look?  Sure that the diminished music meant safety, I slowly peeked to see what tickled my toes.  My feet rested on an unbelievable world of vegetation.  I turned my eyes upward.  Plant life flourished about me.  An insect landed on a bloom and dipped its head inside until completely hidden in the bright yellow flower.

With every cell overwhelmed, my delight leapt.  Miraculous science!  Holy green gravity, it was unbelievable.  We did it!  I accomplished what I trained my entire life to do!

Magnificent and abundant life surrounded me as far as I could see.  The sky was a magical light blue like the ancient’s paintings and pictures; the clouds were bright whites and grays.  It had all been true, or was I dreaming?

As hard as it was for my mind to accept my surroundings, I could no longer hold my tears.  Crying like a joyous newborn, I breathed in the pure nature of the heaven of the clean world.  Its power bore into my soul.  The energy of a long sturdy tree line reached toward me in the wind, welcoming my spirit to share in this wondrous space.  I looked to the trees highest branches.  They were much taller than I imagined.

This was real. Father’s machine worked!  We were here!

The much too-loud screech of the hole and noise of the water pouring into this world drowned out the distant sound of the toner’s chorus.  My heart shook with uncontrolled excitement.

“We made it!” I shouted over the machines deafening pitch, then turned to view the light point from which I had come.

‘But… where were the others?’

The water fell from midair, waiting for them.  As if in warning the sound turned to something altogether different.  First came the silence, and then an angry hiss.  Elation left me as the air around the running water shifted to a dingy gray.  Impending doom gripped my chest as Candra’s face peered through the wall of water.  She smiled in disbelief at the world she saw.  Why had the pool not spit her out?  Why did it hold her to itself?  Dread filled my belly even before I heard her shrill scream.

With half her body through, she hovered just ten feet away, her arms stretched toward me.  The look of astonishment fled from her face as she let out a sound more horrific than I’d ever heard.  Terrified, my mind blanked, body froze.  We had no training of this otherworldly power.  A moment later, Teresa was at her side, next Florentina, and finally Marva.  They did not clear the entryway either and instead, floated helplessly as the glorious and glowing blue water turned a dirty brown. 

The scent of a burned out candle permeated the air.  Candra’s skin was pulling light from the water into itself.  Every blood vessel seeped its treasure from her skin.  The others bled too.  Nearly instantly, they were painted in crimson.  No longer lit, the water turned as dark as an endless hole and the black backdrop taunted us.  Panicked, I barked the order.

“HURRY! MOVE! MOVE!” I screamed, but none of us obeyed.

Unable to aide them the slightest bit, I stood shocked at their suffering when a brilliant flash of light struck the portal.  Their shrieks filled me with horror as I watched them writhe frantically in the midair, black watery grave.  Like the dark liquid that hung motionless, the moment was frozen in time.  Candra stopped screaming.  She was gone.

No! No! No!

Mere seconds dragged like eternity as Teresa’s voice took on a high pitched squeal.  Her eyes nearly bulged from her head.  I viewed my team members disappear, sucked into nothingness as the Pool of Light made a sizzling sound.  Then it slammed shut with a thunderous clap.  The water disappeared and I stared at the now empty space in the beautiful green world, my face awash in tears.

What just happened?  Nothing could be real.  I lost them all, lost all who I’d known, those in my charge.  Finally, my feet led me running toward the closed light point.  I grasped frantically at the air before me.

“Come back!  Come back!” The words choked.  “Father, take me back!  I want to come home!” I sobbed. “Bring me home!  I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” 

I gave way to gravity and fell as a lost spirit to the trembling Earth. 

With my cheek against the cool earth, tears dried in the warm breeze.  The feeling haunted me.  Why had I not reached out to my team when they were in unfathomable pain?  I was the curer, the healer, yet stood idly by and watched them each die.  I’d failed my life’s purpose, to lead and keep safe and healthy all citizens in the new community.  Guilt annihilated my soul.   

“I’m so sorry,” I bawled as if they could hear a single word of it.

Crumpled into a ball, I wailed to the enormous trees, now wholly and utterly alone in this strange green world.

Why had I lived?

Buy Now @ Amazon & Smashwords

Genre – Fantasy / Romance

Rating – NC17

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Blog http://michaelordeauthor.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Beckoning of Beautiful Things (The Beckoning Series) by Calinda B

Chapter 1

Ten years, six months, and 15 hours. That’s how long since my mom and dad died. Marissa stared at the photo of her mom, a beautiful, regally clad opera singer, and her father, an orchestra conductor and the proud husband to Mica Engles. Her heart skipped a couple beats as she eyeballed the image and then resumed its steady cadence. The pain in her chest was muted, but still present, like a wound healed over and over until a grizzled scar muffled the noise of sorrow.

Her eyes wandered to the photo of her staid, conservative aunt, staring back at her with endless reservation and regret. Ten years, five months, 29 days since my world got dark. Her gaze slid around the room of her cozy studio. Seven years since I moved out of my aunt’s dreary world. She scoffed and swept both hands forcefully through the air, brushing away the memory. Her dog, Sober Dober, lifted his head from slumber, eyed her, then settled back to sleep.

Marissa picked up a palette knife, scooped some gesso from the plastic container and swiped it across the canvas before her. Twenty-six years to the day since I bloomed though my mama’s legs, a bloody, vernix-covered animal coaxed into the world through mom’s passionate, panting moans and sweat-soaked, exhausted effort. She spread the creamy white mixture of pigment and rabbit-skin glue along the rough canvas. With her fingertip, she scraped a message into the thick gooey pigmentation. Happy Birthday, Marissa Engles. This year you’re going to change. She scratched a bold exclamation point into the gesso and stabbed it three times with her blunt fingernail for emphasis. Her palm swept through the velvety paste and wiped out the message, swishing back and forth with messy impatience. She wiped her hand off on the terrycloth towel tucked in the waistband of her skirt.

She glanced at another photo sitting on the beat up pine shelf against the wall. A tan, lean muscled man with curly blond hair stood poised on a surfboard, hanging in a curl in a giant, Hawaiian ocean wave. One year since I started dating Jason Brown. She sighed. They’d met at a Tantra workshop, an odd spiritual practice that encouraged enlightenment through sexual mastery and practices. Jason was really into it, claiming to be a fourth level Cobra breath practitioner, whatever the heck that was, and being groomed to teach. She’d gone to the workshop on a dare from a friend and had no real interest in it. Two months since I started thinking of moving on. She picked up a scrap of paper from the windowsill, placed it in her palm, and studied it. “Listen Sober. Wants in a new boyfriend,” she read out loud to the sleeping Doberman in the corner, tracing the words in the air. The outline of words hung for an instant as if she’d traced them with a sparkler. Her eyelids fluttered over her eyes, and she wiped them with her gesso stained hand. I should have eaten lunch.

Her eyes scanned the scribbles and adjoining stars that emphasized the ones she deemed most important. She closed her fingers slowly and deliberately over the paper. First, the index finger. “Intensity,” she whispered. Her dog didn’t stir a bit. “Passion.” Her middle finger closed next, creating a small strain in the muscles of her forearm. “Commitment.” The ring finger moved into position. “Sexy, sexy, sexy.” Her pinky joined the others. She squeezed her eyes shut. And a wild card – something exciting. She bent her thumb over the fingers and crushed the paper in her fist.

A delivery truck’s wheels crackled over her graveled driveway, and she leaned toward the window to look. The driver leapt from the side.

Marissa slid open the glass pane to the clear blue, late afternoon, windswept sky. “Martin, hi!” she called down automatically.

“Not Martin, sorry,” the voice called up to her as the man disappeared behind the van.

She slid out of view and waited for him to reappear, watching stealthily through a slit in the colorful blue and orange curtain, clutching the crumpled note in her fist.

He reappeared from behind the van and stood, looking expectantly at the window.

Her fingers released the desire infused paper, and it drifted to the floor. Like you. She stood, frozen, momentarily gobsmacked by the sight of him. Oh, yeah…you’ll do nicely.  

He looked to be about 6’1”, with warm brown skin and thick, straight, shiny brown hair, hanging down to jaw level. She imagined his eyes were a rich, dark brown, like her favorite 86% Cacao dark chocolate. He wore a lightweight, brown, long-sleeved sweater and expensive looking brown corduroy pants. A dusting of dark hair peered over the top of his collar, as if straining to see. The attire was casual, comfortable, and non-descript. She squinted through the curtain opening. Some delivery man’s attire. Martin always wore the standard issue crisp, beige, short-sleeved shirt with Organic Universe emblazed on the back. The guy below was dressed way too upscale for a delivery man.

His shoes gave his wealth away. The dark brown leather gleamed and winked at her as if hinting at his financial status. The double buckle, monk-style boot was polished to a sparkle. She cocked her head and caught a glimpse of the supple shaft of this guy’s boot. Made of woven leather, it hung around his ankle like a shrug of casual indifference, as if it was his lover’s hand resting in relaxation. Fratelli Rossetti, she thought. Expensive Italian boots for expensive men. She’d done an ad layout for Rossetti boots just last week. The price tag on those babies was not for the faint of heart.

Her eyes caught the gold wrist watch encircling his wrist.   Movado, she thought. A smile played at her lips as she studied him.

When she didn’t move into view, he crouched down and placed the box on the concrete. He held his right hand above the produce and slowly moved it back and forth.

Marissa squinted. Is that a cloud of weird purple fog beneath his hand? She blinked and the fog disappeared. She rubbed her forehead, picturing her uneaten sandwich in her desk drawer at work.

His fingers were long, the nails manicured. Gleaming gold rings winked from the index and middle finger. She imagined those fingers tracing a complex pattern down her back, and she shivered. A breeze blew through the window, ruffling the curtain and tossing her long, curly brown hair around her cheeks in playful, tickling wisps.

“See something that pleases you?” he called.

His voice caught her by surprise. An exclamation leapt from her lips. “Oh! I apologize. I was gawking. Please forgive me. I’ll be right down.”

She opened her studio door, trotted down the steps that lead to the garage, and punched the big garage door button with her fist. The maw to the garage sprang to life, opening wide. She strode out into the bright afternoon, coming face to face with the most gorgeous man she’d ever laid eyes on.

He extended the box to her, capturing her with piercing blue, blue eyes, rimmed with an even darker blue. They pinned her in place like a moth’s wings pressed to the window by a thumb. I want to melt into those eyes and reemerge in his bloodstream. I want to swim through his pulsing veins.

“Well…?” he said.

His voice landed rich and sonorous in her ears like she lazed on a beach at the Sea of Cortez and the sun blew hot kisses all over the tunnel of her ear canal. “Well?” she echoed, uncertain what he was asking. She looked down at her hands – they gripped the wooden slats of the box. She released her grip, and the box fell to the ground, just missing her red tennis shoes, landing with a crack. The produce appeared to jump in alarm and then settle back into position, safe. Four, blackened, finger-sized scorch marks appeared on the slats on each side where her she’d been gripping the box. She blinked, looked at her hands, looked at the box, back to her hands, and shook her head like a rattle. The scorch marks vanished. Make a note – tomorrow – eat your lunch.

“I asked if you saw something that pleases you,” he said with a mischievous smile.

“Yes. I mean, no. I’m simply being rude. Marissa Engles,” she said, wiping her damp palm off on her short skirt before extending it to him. “Again, forgive me.”

“Enchanted. And no apology necessary.” He took her hand.

An electric shock sizzled through her fingertips, and she quickly snatched her hand back. “Oh!” She gave her hand a quick shake. “Must be static electricity in the air. It’s a bit windy outside.”

He gave an easy laugh and nodded. “Yes, that must be it,” he agreed.

“You’re not Martin.”

“I sure hope not.” He looked down and patted his chest and flat abdomen. “Nope, still me here.”

“And you’re not dressed in a uniform.”

Again he regarded his clothes. “No, gosh, I’m not.”

“You’re mocking me.”

“Am I?”

“What happened to Martin?”

“He’s a friend. He asked for the day off. They wouldn’t give it to him. We conspired.” He winked at her.

I can’t tell if he’s telling the truth. “That sounds fishy.”

“Would I lie?”

“I have no idea.” She pointed at the box of produce. “What were you doing there? With your hand, I mean? It looked like…” She pushed her hair back from her forehead, biting back the question. Purple fog. Right.

“This hand?” he asked, lifting his right hand, tilting it away from his face. “Or this one?” He lifted his left hand, in the same palm up gesture.

A giggle escaped her lips.

“Do I amuse you?” he asked, with that same, playful smile splitting his face. He wrapped his left arm around his middle and used it to prop the right one. His right hand cupped his jaw, assessing her. He lowered his eyelids slightly and stroked the long stubble underneath his full lips, regarding her intently.

“Oh, no,” she answered. “I’m sorry. I’m an artist. Constantly shaping things in my mind. I’ve got a warped sense of humor, too. You reminded me of a game show host or something. Or Alfred E. Neuman on the cover of Mad Magazine. What, me worry? That’s what he says. Alfred E. Neuman, I mean.” She clamped her mouth shut and pressed her fingers to her lips. “I’m sorry. I’m babbling. I’m not usually like this.”

“Like what, so capricious?” he asked. He turned his head slightly and studied her. “But really…a game show host? Is that how I seem? A cartoon? I’m none of those, I can assure you.” He shook his head disapprovingly and dropped his eyes to the crate of herbaceous edibles.

Her whole body relaxed, as if he had let go her wings. She didn’t know whether to flutter away or work her way intently up and down the delightful eyeful before her. She dropped her gaze, mimicking his, landing on the sugar snap peas, carrots, fruit, and leafy greens. “It’s not what you think. It’s just that…never mind. Anyway, your hand…the hand that moved over these vegetables. What were you doing?”

“Ah,” he said knowingly, a half-smile forming on his face. “This hand.” He raised it to chest level, and her eyes tracked its movement, as if it were a pocket watch held by a magician in an attempt to hypnotize her. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”

I want to be touched by that hand. “It looked like something.” I want that hand to excite me in new ways.

“I was just…I like to imagine that I can influence the world around me. It’s sort of a game.”

“Ah,” she said, repeating the word he had used. “And?” I want that hand to caress me, to smooth away my sorrow, to lift me from my isolation. I want the man attached to the hand.

“And what?” he said, lifting his hand higher.

Her gaze tracked his hand as if he guided a puppet string attached to her eyes. Her back stiffened slightly as she secured her point of focus on the beckoning blue orbs. A single word lolled in her head, like a leaf on a lazy river. Want. The word balanced on her lips, drawing them apart as she regarded his eyes. “And what did you discover?”

Not taking his eyes away from hers, he answered. “Just now?”

“Yes,” she breathed.

“I think I discovered something rare.”

“What do you think it is?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “But I sure want to find out.”

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Genre – Romantic Suspense / Thriller

Rating – R

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Website http://www.calindab.com/

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Fermanagh Gems by Dianne Ascroft


Among its many appealing features County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland has pleasing landscapes, a rich history and talented local artisans. Six gems have been selected to feature in this collection of articles: a natural wonder, enduring or innovative institutions and a gifted craftsman. Some are well-known, others might be called hidden gems; each deserves to be allowed to shine.

Each article is a snapshot of a Fermanagh place, institution or person at a significant moment in its existence. We will visit Marble Arch Caves on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the opening of its show cave, Belleek Pottery on its 150th anniversary, the Graan monastery during its centenary year, Headhunters Railway Museum at the end of its first decade and Frankie McPhillips, a craftsman who has carried on the Irish fly-tying tradition for the past thirty-five years.

Each of these articles was originally published individually in Ireland’s Own magazine.

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Genre –  NonFiction Travel

Rating – G

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Blog http://dianneascroft.wordpress.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Shadow Cay by Leona Bodie


Chapter 1

THE NEXT DAY: February 13, 1991

Neumans Cay, Southern Exumas, Bahamas

RICO SALAZAR CHECKED HIS WATCH, then scanned the horizon. Nothing. Quarter to ten and still not even a glimpse of the long-awaited powerboat. His crew had to arrive soon. They should have called an hour ago. Discretion had always been crucial, now even more so, especially if they were followed.

With only the warmth of the sun and the whispering sea for company, he scrutinized the quiet lagoon and the mile-long stretch of beach. He didn’t see a single soul. Only he and several crabs moved in the stillness.

Standing on a knoll, flanked by palm trees, Rico gazed at Exuma Bank’s clear waters. The squeal of an osprey, plunge-diving feet first into the surf, startled him. He marveled at the raptor’s fluid motion, as it skewered a bluefish then flapped its wings and resumed flight, soaring over him. Rico squinted at the fish that dangled midair, face forward, still squirming.

An instant later, a single drop—the bright color of blood—dripped from the sky. He told himself the splatter on his shirt was a bad omen and Rico remembered his crew hadn’t called. He glanced down at the blood. Maybe, they couldn’t.

His island, Neumans Cay, was a part of the Exuma Cays, a chain of three hundred sixty islands in the Central Bahamas. The virgin beachfront suggested the cay was a blank canvas, bound for obscurity. He knew otherwise. Just two miles inland lay the epicenter of his island-based import/export company, miles from any traveler's radar. He meant to keep it that way.

RICO had literally stumbled upon the island. Like an over-ripe mango ready for plucking, the islet offered golden opportunities. Oozing out like nectar from rotten fruit, the temptations began here too.

He thought back to his discovery of eleven years ago. Searching for investment property, he'd cruised into a mild thunderstorm, along the western border of the Great Bahama Bank. Within minutes, a seventy-knot squall howled, as staccato bolts of lightning split the sky.

Visibility became a problem and he was disoriented. Flashes of light, shadows of trees and foaming seas jumped around him, flickering like a flawed movie, making the picture oddly disturbing. Chaotic seas stirred giant waves, coming at him from all directions. He edged to the stern, struggling to stand upright, as the boat rocked.

Naldo, his right hand man, shouted for Rico's attention. “The storm's fouled the communication system!” The dying wind finally swept past them.

“My God, look at this place,” Rico bellowed. “We're in the middle of nowhere. Where the hell are we?”

“According to my calculations, we’re about a hundred and twenty miles off course,” Naldo responded.

As Rico studied his surroundings, he could barely conceal his enthusiasm. He spied the southern anchorage and his gut told him this was it. He could easily move through these waters.

“What a place for my operation. It's a hell of a find,” he said to Naldo. He pointed to its two entrances and natural deep water. “Ocean access.”

RICO had bought one hundred and eighty acres on Neumans Cay, which included a handsome house, a small marina that accommodated large ships and a resort, to house business associates and guests. He constructed warehouses, barracks and a dock, with wide slips. Inside his concrete “Berlin Wall,” he built an airstrip and erected a mast-type radio, high on the island's southwest tip.

To assure his privacy, he fired a barrage of bullets into the cottages on the northern shoreline. Fifteen owners slammed their windows shut, locked their doors and dove to the floor. The natives, traumatized by their trigger-happy neighbor, hunkered down in their bungalows, like shell-shocked soldiers. From that point on, they stayed out of his way. None of them realized he'd built a 4500-foot runway, protected by radar, bodyguards and Doberman attack dogs.

HE smiled at the memory. He’d moved onto the island and now owned and controlled half of the island's six square miles. Bribes to the Bahamian Prime Minister assured large cargo planes, shuttling product from Colombia to the island base, and small planes, ferrying contraband into the U.S., operated with no interference. A few other well-placed bribes meant business boomed and officials did nothing to stop his irregular and profitable activities. His business continued to grow, as did his fortune.

Hundreds of cocaine deliveries were shipped into Neumans Cay from the Exuma Sound's northeastern cut, his own channel to the Atlantic. While other dealers relied on human mules on commercial flights, the Salazar Cartel used submarines, go-fast boats and small aircraft. He revolutionized the trade, by transporting drugs to the U.S. in the keels of tankers. For the past ten years, Neumans Cay had flourished as a multinational smuggling and refueling hub.

Rico scratched the scar on his chin, studying the varied shades of azure between water and sky. He had lived too hard, worked too hard and come too far to lose everything. He'd paid his dues.

Despite the pale aquas and deeper teals of the banks, and the midnight blue of the ocean floor, his mind suddenly sank back into the mire of his childhood. No matter how hard he tried to forget, the nights and the stench slithered back anyway. His mind went back to Cali, Colombia, when he was nine. He doubted the memory would ever fade.

THE steamy night smelled like cooked garbage and raw sewage. In the dark alley, sweat from ninety-two degree heat rolled down his face as he groped inside a rusty icebox, until his fingers landed on two hunks, which he slowly withdrew.

He glanced at the green mold on the cheese and the black spores on the bread then shoved the morsels into his mouth. Nothing he had eaten in a week tasted so good. If he’d had found these bits of food earlier, he wouldn’t have eaten the cockroaches.

Rico had never known who his father was. His mother was an alcoholic prostitute, who made no attempt to hide her profession from her son. Rico hated her. Hated seeing men on top of her. Hated the fact she spent any money she earned on booze. Hated rummaging through garbage cans for food. Hating the beatings he endured, when he came home empty-handed from his forays for food. He'd felt no grief, when she failed to return to their filthy shanty one night and he learned she'd been killed by a vicious customer. He wasn’t surprised. A crow had crashed into his bedroom window the previous morning. That always meant bad news coming.

Rico had learned the trade early on. He sold his body to the young and old alike, male or female. He was a survivor. He darted from filthy streets to cavernous spaces, near dismal underpasses, where the homeless huddled in abandoned, overgrown parking lots and homesteaded soiled cardboard boxes. The streets were the only home he had. While he was good looking, he got by primarily on his charm.

That changed, when a rich old woman, with rheumy eyes and yellow craters for cheekbones, took pity and welcomed him into her home. She became his abuela, his foster grandmother, and spoiled him shamelessly. Despite his own manipulation, he never completely understood why the seventy-six year old woman took him in, but he loved her, because she taught him how to live.

Gradually, the sheen wore off his image of the old woman. It was nothing she did, nothing she said. Still, he sensed things were changing in some way.

Things shifted, the afternoon a crow hit the window in the living room, with a loud thud. He remembered the other crow at the window, the morning before his mother died. Dead birds meant death.

That evening, his abuela hobbled across the room to kiss him goodnight. She flashed a hideous grin, showing teeth that looked like cracked nutshells. When her silhouette crossed his bed and her hand touched his shoulder, the hair on his neck bristled.

A curious shadow lowered over his bed. Her misshapen limbs blotted out the lights from the antiquated homes outside his window. For an instant, he saw his mother's features superimposed on abuela's face. His foster grandmother became a dead ringer for his mother.

From that point on, he hated loving her. Depending on a woman was a nightmare. The obsession consumed his days and nights. He felt like a monster, hiding behind a perfect mask. Whenever he saw her crooked grin, the rotten teeth, the webs of wrinkles, the parchment skin draped over her sparse frame in loose folds, his blood chilled. Rico thought such frailty meant death was near.

He was wrong. The old woman didn't die.

He endured the situation for eight long years. One afternoon, he knew he could stand it no longer. She 'd looked at him with her brown-toothed smirk, drool dribbling from the corner of her mouth, and the decision was made. He followed her across the room, his rubber soles making no sound on the hardwood floor. With almost no effort, his strong hands heaved her toward the ledge.

Her eyes flickered to his, filled with confusion. She started to shriek.

Afraid of losing his resolve, he quickly shoved her again and listened to her scream, as she tumbled off the ledge, plunging four stories to the ground. He took several deep, calming breaths, then smiled, imagining his mother falling to her death.

The old woman had no children or grandchildren. She'd had no one to love, but Rico. He inherited the house and all her money. How grateful he'd been. Her wealth transformed him into a wealthy college student.

IN addition to his education in business and finance, Rico quickly learned what products did well in the market place and those that would always be in demand. After graduation, he instinctively cultivated the same plant his Andean Indian ancestors had, before the Spanish occupation. He'd carved a special niche for himself and, in ten years, had jockeyed his way into the major leagues. He was proud of his global connections and the financial empire he'd built, with production facilities in Colombia, Chile, Peru and Boliva.

He sometimes wondered what would have happened, if he'd taken another road, if he and Jeanette had made a life together. He'd probably be living in the States, bored stiff. Instead, now that his island had become a major transfer point, his world had more curves and excitement than a roller coaster. He'd found the gateway to an oasis, comprising more than seven hundred uninhabited islands and cays. And he'd be damned if anyone was going to interfere with it. He'd do whatever he had to do to protect his empire.

RICO’S thoughts were pulled back to the present by the sound of quick footsteps on the sand behind him.

“Oye, Rico.”

Finally. Naldo Perez, his second in command, tugged on his shoulder. Relief lasted a fleeting second. Rico shifted his sights back to the waterfront, his breathing labored. Think, don’t panic. He couldn’t run. He’d find a way. Only cowards gave up, and he’d never been a coward.

“Boss, what’s a matter?”

“Got things on my mind, that’s all. Don’t keep me guessing. How’d the new recruit do last night?”

“He doesn’t have the guts for our kinda work.”

“You know what to do.”

“Seguro que sì. Done.”

Rico shrugged at his lieutenant's comment. His concerns were far more important than one individual who couldn't work with the team he'd assembled. His entire business was threatened. His instincts warned him he had to be extremely careful. While he might not be able to stop progress, he intended to do everything possible to redirect it and save his empire.

“Something wrong, Boss?"

Rico turned and studied Naldo, from his cowboy boots up to his worried face. “Yeah.” He again scanned the water, then turned back to Naldo. “You know the new hydrofoil that's supposed to link the islands?”

“Sure. What's that got to do with us?”

“Their Exuma trip touches a bit of the ocean, overnights in Georgetown and returns the next day.”

“Yeah? So?”

“They'll make unscheduled stops near our remote outposts.”

“Caramba!” Naldo immediately grasped the dangers. "What should we do?”

“That's what I'm trying to figure out. Not a word to anyone, Naldo. I'll find a solution. Okay?”

Naldo nodded and turned back to the compound.

Rico continued to stare across the water. If passengers were shuttled to the Southern Exumas, throngs might descend. Who wouldn't want a day beyond the reach of cars, a day without the clang and clatter of civilization? Who wouldn't want a piece of paradise?

No, a route through the Exumas was way too close. Rico wouldn’t accept such a threat to his world. He couldn't do that. He'd find a way to protect himself and all he'd built up over the past eleven years.

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Genre – Thriller / Suspense

Rating – R

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Video Game by Jessica Arnold

Video Game - Jessica Arnold

Amazon Kindle US

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Genre - Children’s

Rating - G

New Release

Free until 3 July 2013

Max loves games. When he hears about the Play Box, he convinces his father to buy it. The latest in video game systems, the Play Box is everything Max dreams of when it comes to gaming. Little does Max know that the Play Box does more than just play games!
Written and illustrated by Jessica Arnold, Video Game has fifteen color illustrations. Jessica is the author of children's fiction books "Nobody Can Take My Happy Away" and "I am Good at Lots of Things."
Find out if the Play Box is worthy of its $250 price tag!

Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Morph (Gate-Shifters) by JC Andrijeski

Chapter One: A Scream in an Alley

I, meaning me, Dakota Mayumi Reyes, was running, full-out, for my life. 

It hadn’t happened very often in my twenty-six-odd years, so yeah, I wasn’t loving it. I ran down the fog-wet street, controlling my breaths the way my boxing coach, Becks, taught me. I knew it might be helping me a little, but I also knew I was distracting myself from the fact that I was pretty much out of time.

Bastard was faster than I'd planned for. 

That meant he was faster than Irene told me he'd be, too.

In fact, even as I tore down the alleyway in my super-grip boots, I found myself thinking I’d  have to have a few words with that girl, as soon as I got back to the office...assuming I got back to the office at all, and didn't get stabbed or shot when this guy caught up with me, which was seeming pretty close to inevitable at this point. That stunt I'd pulled back in his car had been carefully designed to enrage him, of course. I mean, I needed him to go there, right? Otherwise, how would I get him to show his true colors? So we worked it all out, me and Irene and with input from the client, of course...coming up with a routine guaranteed to push all of his little, sociopathic buttons.

Unfortunately, I’d gotten a little too good at that part of my job.

So yeah, it worked. I further compounded the problem by hitting the guy in the chest when he tried to pull his trademark ‘date-rape after multiple threats’ maneuver... not a real hit, of course, but a regular-old, 'hands off me, buddy, or I’ll scream' hit, like any normal girl might do. The client specifically warned me, more than once, that this douche really didn't like it when we chicas fought back.

So, yeah, I made a point of breaking that little rule, too.

And then, when he don’t look quite pissed off enough, and kept trying with the bully me into sex bit, I made a point of breaking it again, that time hitting him a little harder, and in the face.

He really didn’t like that...but yeah, that was kind of the point.

Anyway, I was on the clock by then, since the whole bar thing took longer than I’d wanted already, and it seemed like the easiest way to provoke the guy at the time.

That part worked like a charm, really...better than I'd expected, even after scoping this dude for a solid three weeks, long enough to have his basic M.O. down pat. Thinking back on it, I probably should have used the car itself as the hot zone...but I knew the cops could be unreliable with any situation that might be construed as some date gone wrong, or worse, a girl tease who changed her mind at the last minute. Frankly, I hadn’t wanted to take that chance. Most of the cops I’d worked with in this town were pretty cool, and some even respected what I did for a living, and had bought me drinks after a few of my ‘cases’ had good outcomes. But yeah, there was a range of sensitivity with the men in blue, too, after all. Some of them liked to give their girlfriends or wives a good smack now and then, too, so thought I was one of those feminazi dykes for even giving those women an alternative.

And yeah, some thought what I did bordered on illegal. Some maybe thought it was illegal, in the spirit sense of things, but I was pretty careful to toe the line on that stuff, too. After all, I wasn’t a cop. I wasn’t colluding with the cops, either. So while what I did could be construed as a kind of entrapment...more or less...it wasn’t actually entrapment, in terms of the kind that could get a case thrown out of court.

But yeah, some of those cops knew me. Some of the judges in this town knew me, too. Some liked me fine, sure, but another group would gladly look the way if they saw me running down a blind alley, no matter what kind of psycho panted his way after me.

So yeah, I knew if I skirted too close to that line, they might not play ball at all, and refuse to take the guy in. As a result, I was careful to only do things any regular girl might do, in order to get the guy to show his true colors. I’d never been a cop myself, so I figured I didn’t have to follow every single one of their little rules, especially since I didn’t wear a gun, so was pretty much risking my ass every time I took on one of these nutjob cases.

On the other hand, I couldn’t risk making the cops look like jerks, either.

Bottom line, I wanted to create a situation where a) the guy reacted to what could have been any real girl in b) an environment where he’d be caught with his pants down so that c) the cops would have zero doubt about the guy’s psycho creds and that d) they’d know I'd done everything I could to escape him. To me, those four things pretty much trumped whatever I might have done to ‘provoke’ him beforehand. 

Anyway, everything seemed to be going according to plan at first. Nothing like a good foot chase through dark streets to evoke that whole 'serial killer' motif, especially when the guy is built like a linebacker and already had a few wrist slaps for aggravated assault, all of them filed by women. Then the guy turns out to be some kind of amateur track enthusiast, even after four shots of tequila, and I find myself in fear of losing my actual life. Truthfully, I’d expected my biggest problem would be to keep him interested enough to chase me the full nine or ten blocks. I'd all but called him a homo and insinuated he couldn't get it up just to keep him running on the hotter end of pissed off, but, at the time, I’d still worried it might not be enough.

Turns out, I needn't have worried.

On the plus side, the street cameras Irene and I scoped along the route that morning should be getting pretty authentic shots of terror on my face as I ran.

All of my sequencing was off now, too, even if I managed to stay ahead of him. 

At this rate, we’d both arrive early, and worse, I might have to improvise to keep from getting beat up for real...or, better yet, maybe strangled or raped for my trouble. I’d estimated a good five or six minutes of chase time, maybe longer if I managed to work a few breathers into the mix before we hit the target area. Instead, only about two minutes had ticked by according to my mental clock, and I only had three blocks to go. Really, I'd be lucky to get him there at all before he dragged me to the pavement like a wolf on a lame deer.

So yeah, Plan B was seeming pretty likely at this point. It might make me look significantly less like a victim, especially if I got too creative, but I wasn't about to take one for the team, either, no matter how much this chick was paying me.

I heard the mark’s breathing growing louder behind me. His footfalls seemed to drum in my head, too, making a sharper, higher noise in the dampness of the concrete. My super-tread boots generally treated me right in these close-quarter gigs, but I hadn't banked on him running like he wore track shoes, even in his thousand dollar loafers. I’d expected a lot of things to slow him down that hadn’t, though, not only his taste in the douche-y range of footwear, one pair of which probably cost more than most people’s monthly paychecks and got shined every Thursday by some golf cabana boy...if not this guy's train-wreck of a wife.

Grabbing the edge of the brick wall to fling myself faster around the corner, I let out a short gasp when the guy grabbed at my jacket and almost caught me for real. 

Unsurprisingly, I guess, I wore a mini-skirt and tights, and while the material was super stretchy, it might be slowing me down more than I'd really let myself think about when I shimmied into it earlier that evening. But hey, I had to look the part, and this guy didn't like women in pants, figuratively or literally. As it was, he'd given a good hard stare at my boots when I first hopped off that barstool, as if he thought those were a bit too dyke-y even with the pancake makeup and coiffed hair over my sheer and uncomfortably low-cut blouse.

Digging my toes into the concrete at the bottom of the narrow street, I forced out an extra burst of speed to put some distance between us, but it only seemed to buy me a few feet of margin, not nearly enough for me to feel secure in my lead.

Lungs burning in my chest, I fought to pump my arms and legs harder, pounding my way down the street and still counting blocks in my head, even though I'd walked the whole route just that morning and knew exactly how far I had yet to go. Feeling him right behind me again, I realized he'd closed the gap a second time and sprinted faster, feeling the first edges of honest to God panic as he paced my increase in speed.

Hell, he was going to catch me.

I could see the hot zone by then...but it almost didn't matter.

I had to be a good four minutes ahead of the planned drop, so improvisation was now definitely in the playbook. I didn't hold back any reserves that time when I pumped my arms, trying to get just that little extra distance ahead so I could get there a second or two before him. I'd played this card before, sure, but it had been a few months, and this guy had a good eighty pounds and six inches of height on the tattoo-covered Mexican kid on crystal meth who'd last forced me off the regular game-plan and into the uncharted. In that case, I had the whole racism thing playing on my side, for once...and while I didn’t feel good about it, it definitely sped things along. The cops saw the doped up gang-looking kid picking on a hot chick in a leather skirt and they immediately descended with sirens blaring. So yeah, I might not be fully white bread, with my half-Japanese mom and half-Cuban dad, but I was pretty enough and dressed conservatively enough that they rushed to my defense anyway.

This time, the guy was full-on white bread, wearing a suit, and handsome in that boring, Ken doll on steroids kind of way. He looked the part of a young stock broker, so I'd have to make the victim thing more convincing.

Even so, when I got him in the alley, I didn't hesitate to skid sideways once I'd gone past the circle of orange light from the streetlamp. The mark, who'd been so intent on chasing me it hadn't occurred to him that I might stop running, couldn't compensate. He nearly fell over as he darted sideways to follow me, grasping at my arm and back with long arms and thick fingers. He lost his balance just enough to buy me time...smashing sideways into a row of garbage cans near a squat, green dumpster. I heard the smack of his shoulder and chest against the dumpster, but barely registered either as I repositioned myself on his other side.

I didn't give him the time to recover. 

Frankly, I didn't intend to wait and see if he might have some crazy, kick-ass ninja skills that Irene also somehow 'missed' in her background check before we went live.

Shifting my weight on the laced up boots, I reached his side before he could recover, my weight balanced into a low fighting stance. When he whirled to face me, I aimed two sharp, fast kicks, using every ounce of weight and momentum I could muster in my five-foot-three frame...both of them at the joint of his right knee. Without letting that foot drop to the pavement, I swiveled my hip and round-housed the same knee from the side, that time pivoting my whole body. I felt the crack. Hell, I almost heard it. 

He went down. Hard.

I always thought it was pretty funny how in the movies these skinny chicks in lycra were always going for head kicks and upper body kicks with big 'hi-yas!' in some close quarter fight with a mondo-buff dude who was a foot taller than them.

Way stupid. 

High kicks left you all kinds of exposed...and while getting kicked in the face wasn't exactly fun, unless you managed to dislocate the guy's jaw, it wouldn't necessarily drop them. Knees, on the other hand...knees were reliable. No matter how big you were, if something goes wrong in the knees, down you go. Getting a kneecap kicked out of joint by a steel-toes boot hurt like hell. Kind of felt like getting your joint pulled apart with pliers.

This guy was no exception. 

He dropped to the same knee I'd just bent in three different directions, all of that two-hundred-plus weight landing on a pretty small point of contact. I didn't hear a crunch that time, or anything remotely so dramatic, but when he hit that pavement, boy, he let out a scream. He screamed so loud I flinched back in reflex, balling my hands into fists. That was the other thing about knees. If you got them out of whack with the joint, the pain just went on and on without really getting much better.

That's when I kicked him in the face.

Way more effective at that point, in my personal experience.

Still, this guy didn't go all the way down. He grunted, and fell sideways into the garbage cans with a lot of clanging and bother, but he knocked away my foot with one arm when I went to kick him again. He gripped the wall as soon as I gave him space, and then he seemed to be trying to get up, using his one good knee to lurch that muscular body upright.

I could almost feel the fury emanating off him by then. 

It scrunched his face into a dark red, mottled shape, almost unrecognizable from the handsome, smooth-talker who first approached me in that crappy, chrome-covered, eighties-themed club. The monster under that dimpled, blond-headed mask reared its head, and, looking at it, I felt my nerves twanging a few octaves higher, in spite of myself. This guy really did live in Bundy country, and I didn’t want to get dragged into an extended tour of his particular version of crazy.

Really, my instincts told me to knock him out and get the hell out of there. But if I did that, that would be the end of this gig.

No payday.

Worse, I was thinking at that point, this psycho would go free.

So, after a bare second of hesitation, I merely stepped back, watching him stagger to his feet. Reminding myself I just needed to stall him, that I only needed a few minutes and this show would be over, I fought to keep my cool, and my head on straight. If I freaked out, or got too scared or felt forced into a position of fighting for my life, things could turn on me real quick. Already the guy would probably be screaming for his lawyer when the cops finally showed up. If he managed to convince them that I was the one who went bezerk on him, I could very well be waving bye-bye to the sympathetic police and hello to aggravated assault charges. Worse, I'd lose my lucrative fee and this dickhead would be back on the Seattle city streets, getting his kicks off beating up drunk ex-sorority chicks outside of clubs and raping them with kitchen appliances when they refused to service him to his satisfaction.

So yeah, against my better judgment, I held my ground.

I needed my Bundy up and fighting when the men in blue showed up...which should be happening sometime in the next, oh, three or four minutes.

About as long as your average round in a ring fight, I happened to know. So yeah, long enough for him to do some serious damage, maybe, assuming the guy could fight at all. 

I really hoped like hell he couldn't fight.

By now, maybe Irene managed to find something in the way of physical evidence in his car or his apartment that could lend credence to my story to the cops. The security cams we'd marked as part of my running route from the bar parking lot to this alley would have caught enough of the chase to give my version of things some plausibility, too. Of course, if they showed up in this dingy and somewhat clichéd alley after the angry troglodyte pummeled me into the asphalt, that would make it easier to convict the guy, too. I was really hoping that wouldn’t end up being my Plan B, though...or my Plan C, D, E or F.

Stockbroker guy stood over me now, his tie askew under his collar, his lip bleeding from the kick to the face. His knee already stretched his pants where the joint swelled under the material. He still looked pissed as hell, but the creep actually smiled at me as he glared into my eyes with that death-like stare, his fists balled up in a reasonable approximation of a fighting stance.

Yeah. Shit. He looked like he knew how to fight. Box, anyway. Hopefully, he just went to a few lame, dancy, kickboxing classes at his nationally franchised and overpriced McGym.

"You like it rough, huh, bitch?" he said, hunching his shoulders. "Well, come on then. Give it your best shot..."

I fought back a surprised chuckle, deciding it probably wouldn’t be wise. 

Forcing my expression still, I measured his face instead, trying to decide if I should risk getting near him. I knew I probably wouldn't be able to pull off the frightened bar girl bit at this point, not convincingly anyway. I opted to say nothing, instead, thinking that enflaming him further might not be all that smart, either. Still, I had to fight a bit to keep the roll out of my eyes. Seriously. Didn't these guys ever learn any new lines? Why was it always bitch this, and whore that? And what was up with the lame clichés? ‘Give it your best shot?’ Seriously? I mean, who actually talks like that?

"What's wrong?" he sneered. "You seemed like you had a lot to say to me before, cunt. Worried your little jazzercize class might not get you out of the mess your mouth got you into? Well, you should be worried, bitch..."

He lunged right after he spoke, moving faster than I would have credited him, especially given what I'd just done to his knee. When I moved back and sideways, trying to get out of his way, he caught me in a roundhouse punch to the temple that I only just managed to duck. I still caught the tail end of it, but most of the force of the blow missed. Still, the contact alone was enough to jar me, which was enough for him to get in a second punch to my sternum.

That one hurt.

It hurt enough that my instincts kicked in, maybe outside of my better judgment. I kicked out without thought, aiming for his knee again, but that time he moved faster, blocking my kick with his forearm, the same one attached to the fist that just sort of got me in the temple.

Yeah. Shit. This guy could fight.

Maybe not Oscar De La Hoya fight, but definitely a good cut above most of the jerkoffs I got stuck sparring with down at that ratty boxing gym I lived in on most of my spare afternoons and weekends. My head had already started falling into that more serious, fight-for-your-life kind of place, even as it occurred to me again that I might be in for a real smack-down type situation. 

But before I could make a decision about what to do next, something else happened.

Something pretty weird.




An unusual shifter romance in the new adult category, the Gate-Shifter series centers on shifters from another world altogether, called morph. Morph and Earth humans were never meant to cross paths, until Nihkil Jamri tries to save private detective, Dakota Reyes while surveying Earth for his human masters from another dimension, and ends up pulling her into his dimension with him. Part urban fantasy, part paranormal romance, part science fiction adventure, the Gate-Shifter series explores alien romance with the least likely candidates imaginable.

Summary of Book One:
Dakota Reyes, a twenty-something private eye who specializes in what she calls ‘hard-to-prosecute’ cases, finds herself in a dark alley one night, about to end up dead at the hands of a young Ted Bundy in training…that is, until a lost, shape-shifting alien named Nihkil rescues her, and inadvertently takes her home with him. The problem is, his home is in a different dimension, and Dakota has no clue how to get back to Seattle, or Earth, or even her own time period. She finds herself bound to her rescuer, Nihkil, through his ‘lock,’ a quasi-biological structure that controls whether he can shape-shift, among other things, which he needs to be able to do in order to get her back home. Only Dakota has no idea how to open Nik’s lock, and the longer she spends in his world, the more forces begin to align against them, trying to prevent her from getting home.

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Genre – SciFi / Fantasy / Romance

Rating – PG13

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