Dreaming in the Pages

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Broken Pieces

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Riddle Of The Diamond Dove (Arkana Mysteries #4) by N. S. Wikarski #Excerpt #Historical

The Riddler
Daniel sighed and looked at the large clock suspended above the librarian’s desk. It was only noon. This day wasn’t going at all as he had hoped. When he arrived that morning at the main branch of the Chicago Public Library, he had been looking forward to his daily visit with David, a reference librarian in the ancient history section. It was the only thing he looked forward to these days. Instead of the handsome young man he had hoped to see, he was met by a scowling grey-haired woman who informed him that David had called in sick. No, it wasn’t serious, just a case of food poisoning and no, she didn’t know when he would be back at work. Probably in a few days.
After receiving that news, Daniel sloped off to a back table and occupied the rest of the morning in brooding. He had spent nearly every day for the past three months in the library—not because he expected to further his research but because he couldn’t bear the oppressive atmosphere of the compound any more than he had to. Three months. He was shocked at how much time he’d managed to waste. He had idled away the entire winter pretending to research the clue that would lead him to the next relic.
He pulled a photo of the object out of his briefcase to study it. A dove with outstretched wings carved entirely out of lapis lazuli. Instead of the row upon row of glyphs which had covered the golden bee, this artifact bore a very simple message: “One dove flies to wake the helmsman. The course he sets reveals his fate.” The bird’s back was encrusted with diamonds in a circular pattern. The middle of the circle consisted of seven emeralds scattered at random. The diamonds at either end of the circle were interrupted by two rubies, one larger than the other.
Daniel looked at the picture of the relic for the thousandth time and still had no idea what any of it meant. Of course, he felt far less urgency in solving this riddle than he had about the earlier ones. His time in Spain had convinced him beyond all doubt that the trio of relic hunters whom he believed dead were still very much alive and after the same treasure that he was. However, since he was the one holding the lapis dove and the clue it contained, the trio had no choice but to wait for him to make a move. They would have to follow his lead. He didn’t particularly care if they anticipated his route and stole away with the next relic before he arrived. Daniel had no sympathy for his father’s ambition to collect these artifacts or the ultimate prize—the Sage Stone. Even though he didn’t know the Diviner’s plan for these strange objects, Daniel imagined it didn’t bode well for the rest of the world. Why should he eagerly assist in that?
Daniel felt his loyalties fracture a bit more after each field mission. The more he saw of the Fallen world, the less comfort he found in returning to the ways of the Blessed Nephilim. Of course, his father’s marriage to Hannah had done even more to alienate him than the relic hunt itself. Daniel was glad he had helped her escape. He just wished he knew where she had gone after he brought her to the city. A note, a phone call, anything to tell him she was alright. He gave a bitter inward laugh. That small gesture of reassurance might very well cost her her freedom if Leroy Hunt was stalking her again. No, it was better as it was. He prayed she had found a better life than as the fourteen-year-old bride of a seventy-year-old man. She could scarcely exchange that fate for anything worse.
Daniel glanced toward the librarian’s desk. The woman behind it was staring at him disapprovingly. He ducked his head down and pretended to concentrate on his paperwork. He couldn’t keep this up much longer. He didn’t simply mean the pretext of visiting this section of the library just to be near David—his only real friend in the world. He also meant the pretext of telling his father that he was on the verge of solving the latest riddle. He was nowhere near a solution to the problem. At best, he could only continue the charade for another month before he would have to get on a plane and go somewhere in search of the next relic.
An idea was nagging at the back of his consciousness. He felt he had missed something. Thinking back to the riddle that had preceded this one, there were lines in that clue which he had never understood. Perhaps it all fit together. Perhaps he needed to solve the earlier puzzle in order to understand the current one. At the very least, he might legitimately burn up some additional time in doing so.
He buried his face in his hands and rubbed his eyes. He hated living this way. His mind drifted back to his last conversation with Hannah. He remembered her final words to him before she disappeared. “How bad does it have to get before you finally walk away?” Perhaps that was the greatest riddle of all.
THE ARKANA SERIES: Where Alternative History Meets Archaeology Adventure
Volume Four - Riddle Of The Diamond Dove
"From Kindle Nation fave N. S. Wikarski comes the long-awaited fourth book in her fascinating seven-part Arkana archaeology thriller series -- with more of the wonderful characters, sly humor, intrigue and mayhem that come together to create the absorbing world of her intricate, fast-paced mysteries." (Kindle Nation Daily)
Global Treasure Hunt
Where do you hide an ancient relic that has the power to change the course of history? As Cassie Forsythe and her Arkana team discover, you scatter clues to its whereabouts across the entire planet. Five artifacts buried among the rubble of lost civilizations point to the hiding place of a mythical object known as the Sage Stone. Thus far psychic Cassie, bodyguard Erik, and librarian Griffin have succeeded in recovering two of those artifacts.
Opposing Forces
Cassie and Company find their lives threatened at every turn by agents of a religious cult known as the Blessed Nephilim. The cult's leader, Abraham Metcalf, wants to exploit the power of the Sage Stone to unleash a catastrophic plague on the world. The quest for the next piece of the puzzle has led both sides to Africa. They must comb an entire continent--their only lead a riddle carved onto a mysterious dove sculpture. Even as the Arkana team struggles to decipher the clue, new dangers hover over their colleagues at home.
Other Dangers
Metcalf's child-bride Hannah has taken refuge at the home of the Arkana's leader Faye while mercenary Leroy Hunt creeps ever nearer to her hiding place. His search for the girl brings him dangerously close to the secret location of the Arkana's troves--a collection of pre-patriarchal artifacts which confirm an alternative history of the origins of civilization itself. While Hunt closes in on Hannah, Metcalf's son Daniel dogs the footsteps of the Arkana field team in order to claim the next artifact before they do. Daniel recruits a clever ally along the way who might be more than a match for the opposing side.
Collision Course
When the forces of the Arkana and the Nephilim converge on a ruined city in a forgotten corner of the dark continent, the shocking outcome is beyond even Cassie's powers to foresee. The quest for the Sage Stone will veer in an unexpected direction once both sides solve the Riddle Of The Diamond Dove.
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Genre - Alternative History Fiction
Rating – PG
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Christmas Cowboy by Shanna Hatfield @ShannaHatfield #thechristmascowboy

Tate surprises Kenzie by showing up on her doorstep late one afternoon… Standing on her front step, he rang the bell and listened to her footsteps hurrying toward the door. The smile on her face forced him to catch his breath.

“Hey! What are you doing here?” Kenzie asked, kissing his cheek then stepping aside so he could come in out of the cold.

Curiosity got the best of her when he stood staring at her, his good hand still behind his back. Trying to look around him, he turned so she couldn’t.

“What are you hiding?” she asked, her eyes warm and inviting when he stepped inside and nudged the door shut behind him with his boot.

“I couldn’t help but notice you’re missing a very important component of proper Christmas d├ęcor,” Tate said, sounding all knowing and official.

“What could I possibly be missing?” Kenzie asked, looking behind her and sweeping her arm toward the living room that did look particularly festive, thanks in part to Tate. “I’ve got a poinsettia, a beautiful Christmas tree, garlands, pine boughs, sugary treats, and a blazing fire. Did you bring me some chestnuts to roast? If you did, I’ve got no clue what to do with them, so you’re out of luck.”

Laughing, Tate raised his arm and held a bunch of mistletoe over their heads. “It seems to me this is the most important decoration of all.”

“Possibly,” Kenzie said, reaching out and looping her arms around Tate’s neck, pulling his head down to hers. Teasing and gentle at first, their kiss soon gained momentum until he dropped the mistletoe on the table near the door and she pressed as close against him as his thick coat would allow.

Taking a breath, she quickly unfastened the snaps on his coat and slid it off his shoulders, carefully over his injured arm, until it dropped to the floor. He tossed his hat on the little chair Kenzie kept by the door while a groan escaped his throat. He took in every feature of her face, the mouth-watering summery fragrance surrounding her, and the softness of the hot pink sweater she wore. Her favorite color currently matched the shade of her flushed cheeks.

Lowering his head to hers again, Tate wrapped his good arm around her waist and slowly backed her toward the living room without breaking the connection of their lips.

“I missed you,” he whispered against her mouth as he carefully guided her to the couch. When her knees connected with the edge, she sank down on the soft cushions, still holding onto Tate. He went down with her, ravishing her neck with sizzling kisses that made her whisper his name in a throaty tone, sending blood surging through his veins.

The Christmas Cowboy

"10% of the net proceeds from all my book sales December 1-24 will be donated to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund®"

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Genre – Romance (contemporary western)

Rating – PG

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Website http://shannahatfield.com

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Getting to Know #Author C.D. Verhoff & The Galatia #Series

C. D. Verhoff – why do you use initials instead of your given name?
It fits easier on a book cover. Outside of writing, I usually go by Deanna, my middle name.
Tell us a bit about your family, Deanna.
I grew up in a working class Catholic family from Fort Wayne, Indiana. I was the fourth of five sisters (no brothers). My mom was a file clerk and self-taught artist of local renown. My dad worked at a tire plant. He had a tough exterior. All the neighborhood kids were scared of him because he yelled a lot, but he was a good father.
As a child, money was tight, but I never lacked for necessities. I fantasized about having less sisters and more Christmas presents. Now that I’m older, I realize that my siblings are best gifts my parents ever gave me. Even though we live hundreds of miles away from each other, they are my best friends in the world.
Unfortunately, only one of my sisters is open to fantasy and science fiction. It’s definitely not her first choice though. She hasn’t even watched any of the Star Wars movies. Can you imagine? My other sisters are into romance novels. They used to devour Danielle Steel and Nora Roberts paperbacks like candy. I try to be respectful of their reading tastes, but I’m not above bugging them to beta read for me.
Enough about them. Let’s move onto how I met my husband. I’ll start by saying I wasn’t looking for one. Since grade school, I was determined to stay single. When asked why, I’d explain that I had never seen a marriage I’d want to be in. Then I met this one guy. He talked too much, wore his pants too high, raised chickens for a hobby, had zero housekeeping skills, went to Mass every Sunday and my resolve flew out the window (I will testify in court that love isn’t rational). My friends said he wasn’t my type, but we hit it off. It was a whirlwind romance and a year later we were married. My husband has only read one book since I’ve known him...and it wasn’t one of mine. I suppose I wouldn’t want him to bring an inmate home for me to babysit (he’s a prison guard), so we’ll call it even. We have a daughter and a son (in that order).
Moving onto my favorite subject—my babies. Well, they’re adolescents now, but a part of me will always think of them that way. Until I became a mother, I didn’t understand the meaning of unconditional love. It’s fierce, protective, incredibly painful at times and wonderful. Being a mom is my calling. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How did you develop your writing? 
During my senior year in high school, I decided to write a book. Penning my own fantasy adventure was a fun escape and not meant to be read by anyone else but me. Publishing wasn’t a goal. Converting the images in my head into the written word was all I cared about. In hindsight, this was great practice, but I stayed in this phase for far too long. I wasted precious years repeating the old same mistakes over and over again. Adverbs—the more the merrier! Starting chapter one with a wake-up scene—how original! Avoiding the overuse of ‘said’—it’s only logical!
If I’d have taken the time to research the expectations of the industry and opened up my writing to peer criticism sooner, I’d be years head of where I am today. In my defense, at the time the internet was just coming into its own. Finding online writing tips and other writers to schmooze with wasn’t as easy as it is now. Writing was just a fun distraction as life continued to roll along. I found a real job, got married, had a baby and the writing got shoved to the side. 
After a second child came into the picture, I quit my job to stay at home. Living in isolation out in the country on a menu of Candy Land, Teletubbies, and loaded diapers, my brain was turning to mush. Knowing if I didn’t get some mental stimulation fast, I’d soon lose all of my gray matter, I started to write again. To my shock, when I went back and looked over my old stories, I wondered how I had ever thought it was readable. Being able to tell it was bad, but not sure how to fix it, I sought out help from several online writing communities. Eventually, I even formed an independent critique group with three other writers.
It was within the confines of this critique group that my flaws were pointed out to me.  After years of stagnation going it alone, the cruel to be kind attitude of my critique buddies helped my writing to improve more in six months than it had in all the previous years combined. This is why I cannot overemphasize enough to beginning writers the power of the humble critique group.
I still need critique buddies and probably always will. But don’t confuse critique buddies with editors and proofreaders. They all play different roles. Even if you self-publish, you can’t do it all by yourself. Nor can a single critique buddy repair your entire manuscript. My best advice is to get a team behind you.
Where do you get your inspiration from? 
It doesn’t take a trip around the world or a night in a foxhole to find inspiration. A movie, a book, a personal loss, the beauty of the night sky, a sobering thought, the loud drunk at a party...ideas are born in unexpected places. If you’re seeking inspiration, talk less and listen more.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing? 
Anyone can publish these days, so my first inclination is to say marketing. But the more I think about it, the more I’m leaning toward the middle option. Writing is easy, but writing well is hard. It’s so damn hard only the bravest, or perhaps the most delusional of us, set out to make a living at it.
Do you find it difficult to share your work? 
At first it felt like offering my heart on a platter to a stranger. Would they tear it apart or cherish it? I’ve grown a thicker skin since then. So, nah, it’s not difficult anymore.
Do you plan to publish more books? 
Red the First, a stand-alone prequel to the Galatia Series, came out shortly after Promised Land. The next book, Seeker of the Four Winds, is so close to being released it might already be available by the time you read this. I published Glory Alley and the Star Riders back in 2012. Its sequel is on the backburner at the moment, but I intend to get back to it as soon as possible. I can’t imagine not writing anymore. It’s in my blood. So, yes, god willing, I plan to write more books.
On a side note, if you are interested in reading my published books, they are difficult to bring up on the internet by the title alone. Try searching in conjunction with my author name: C. D. Verhoff.
What other jobs have you had in your life? 
My senior year of high school, I worked part-time in a law office. During my university days, I was a supervisor in a well-known retail store. After that, I was a substitute teacher and moonlighted for a temp agency. I should mention that despite my upbringing, I didn’t believe in god. Then, shortly after college graduation, I had a profound religious experience which returned me to my Christian roots. I was so thunderstruck that I sold my car, gave away my possessions, and went off to live with the Discalced Carmelites. When I returned a year later, I found a job in insurance and finance.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 
I can’t pick just one. My ideal university experience would be to learn for the sake of learning and to hell with the grades. I’d love to know more about world literature, ancient history, chemistry, astronomy, geography and more.
Tell us about your family?
My husband and I have been married thirteen years. We have two children (a girl and a boy). Our house sits the middle of a woods. Across the lane is a bean field. I can see the snow lazily drifting across it right now. We have a rambunctious garbage disposal named Casey—a black lab/terrier mix who just stole a loaf of bread off of the kitchen counter. I gave chase, but he gulped half of it before I could stop him. Grumble, grumble, grumble.  A stray kitten adopted us a while ago. We named her Twinkie. Turns out he’s a she, but the name stuck.

The last survivors of the human race are riding out nuclear winter in an underground bunker when disaster strikes. Forced to the surface centuries ahead of schedule, what they find blows their minds. Who can explain it? Two social misfits work together to unravel the mystery.
After living in a posh underground shelter his entire life, Lars Steelsun is plunged headfirst into a mind-blowing adventure on the surface of the Earth. As Lars and his displaced bunker mates are led across the grasslands by Mayor Wakeland, a man of questionable sanity who claims to talk with God, they discover a primitive world where human beings are no longer welcome. Even more mystifying is the emergence of new senses and abilities from within. Learning to use them has become a priority, but his biggest challenge comes from the vivacious Josie Albright. Her lust for glory is going to get them both into trouble. Sparks fly when her gung ho ways clash with his cautious personality. Can they overcome their differences to find love and a homeland for their people?
May not be suitable for younger readers. 
Contains mild profanity, sexual situations (infrequent), and violence. 
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Genre - Epic Fantasy
Rating – R
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