Monday, April 29, 2013

Michael F. Stewart

Guest blog and excerpt by Michael F. Stewart

On Prologues

Do you like prologues? I am not sure I do. I am not sure most readers do. What the heck are they for then?

24 BONES has a prologue and it’s designed to set the scene, the mythology, and to provide some elements of back story regarding the two main characters. It kicks the plot mechanics into motion for chapter one to open decades later. It tries to do a lot. Whether it achieves it or not is for you to decide. I actually wrote it last after the book was complete.

In fact, 24 BONES had an entirely different prologue. It told the tale of how the original stele upon which is inscribed an ancient prophecy and more was discovered half a century ago before the events of 24 BONES took place. Here’s an excerpt:

Mohammad sweated in the noonday sun. His galabayya, smeared with dirt, clung to his shoulders, which ached as he shoveled sabakh, nitrogen-rich soil that served as fertilizer. He wished now he had waited for afternoon, when the red cliffs of Gebel el-Tarif would cast their shadows, but he was angered and had wanted the menial labor to cleanse him and his brothers, who labored as his side, of their rage.

Camels groaned as Mohammad’s rough-hewn mattock chipped at a pink slab of fired clay. The region was dotted with caves, once filled with ascetics; the desert littered with fragments of their pottery, vessels for eating and drinking. He would have struck it again had the camels not struggled at their hobbles. One rose on three legs, its fourth hoof strapped to its thigh; it fell over in its effort to escape. Mohammad’s brothers ran to calm the animals, pulling fiercely at their harnesses and beating them with sticks.

Mohammad knelt before the pottery and brushed at the sand, tracing its outline and slowly extracting the shape of an urn. He saw its unbroken seal and his mind raced to the possibility of treasure.

Ahmed,” he called for his next eldest sibling, “come and see.” Ahmed abandoned his settled camel, which roared through its teeth.

Do not open it, brother.” Ahmed’s eyes widened as his gaze fell on the urn. Mohammad smiled at his brother’s superstitious fear and smashed the pot with his mattock. Golden dust swirled in the sunlight, and Ahmed fled. The dust startled Mohammad as well, but he did not wish to appear cowardly and held his stance as his brother stumbled down the scree slope. Drawing a breath, he wiped the beaded moisture from his brow and then brushed away shards with the tip of his tool. The dust was no jinni, but rather, bits of parchment fiber from papyri sheaves bound in cracked leather. Pulling folios from the vessel, still half-lodged in the sand, he counted fourteen in all. One, however, was heavy, far heavier than parchment or leather, weightier than the mattock even. His brothers watched from their camels; two nearby Fellaheen also halted their digging to spy. Mohammad peeled the leather from the hefty folio to let the smallest corner of gold catch sunlight before hastily shielding the metal.

Gold, he thought, several kilos worth. Since the murder of his father, a week past, Mohammad’s heart had dwelled not only on his loss and of vengeance, but also on responsibility. The family’s life was difficult, and he was the eldest, the patriarch. Now he had secured their future and his heart soared. Not wishing to create further suspicion, he called loudly for all to hear.

Paper and leather I wouldn’t use for sandals.” His wide grin was the only hint of his omission. “Gather what we have. I tire of this place.” Tossing his mattock down the slope, he drew the bundles close to his chest.

This is in fact a fictionalized retelling of how the actual Nag Hammadi library was discovered, these manuscripts contained many Gnostic writings and gospels. It would make a fascinating story all on its own, but unfortunately didn’t forward plot or character in 24 BONES. Out it went.

Most prologues disappear from manuscripts. I often wonder if they’re actually a product of the writer not being quite ready to start writing. Do you bother to read or write them?

Present day—Coptic Cairo, Egypt

“I want the tablet, Tara.” Sam pointed at her mother, the accusing finger tipped with a razor-sharp nail. Her other hand gripped a hound’s leash, and she heeled the dog to her hip when it threatened to lunge.

On the bed, a second hairless dog straddled her mother and slavered drool across Tara’s cheek and lips. She twisted her head away from the hound’s hot panting.

Sam knew her jackal mask and assumed accent did not conceal her identity. She trembled at the look etched on her mother’s face. With most of their forces deployed elsewhere, Pharaoh, the leader of the Shemsu Seth, had honored Sam with the task of retrieving the Tablet of Destiny—her first important mission in which she was the commander. Sam thumbed the heavy gold ring on her finger, reminding herself of her goal. Her sentiment was a barrier to her mission’s success. She coiled her rage inward.

“Where’s the damned tablet!”

Tara flinched, then kicked the hound as she jumped upright. With a yelp, the dog slipped from the bed and curled underneath.

Sam’s canine headdress obscured her peripheral vision, but it also prevented her mother from seeing her face, the sweat on her brow, the strain about her green eyes. Sam’s emotions, like the veins criss-crossing her dark neck and cheeks, ran too near the surface.

The window framed Tara’s age-thickened body, the street light shining through her thin cotton nightgown. Outside, riotous cheers clamored. A procession wound through the alleys of Coptic Cairo.

The hound under the bed barked. Tara tossed back the mattress and snatched the dagger laying on the bed’s wire frame. She stabbed between the wires until the hound’s howls died.

Sam knew she should kill Tara—set the other dog onto her back and cut her throat. Sam’s knuckles were bone white. Her mother turned. Blood from her blade dripped onto the scorpion hilt and her fist. She blinked away angry tears and glared.

“Get out, Samiya.” Her lips barely moved. “The tablet isn’t here.”

“Where,” Sam insisted and let the dog take a foot of leash. Its front paws scratched at the air as the black iron collar dug into its scruff.

Tara waggled the dagger in the direction of the hound like a master readying to toss a stick. Sam had expected repentance, that age would have stripped her mother of stature. Sam shook her head and whistled to the men she led.

“Bring him in,” Sam called, watching her mother carefully from beneath the mask. The old woman’s eyes flicked from Sam to the door and back.

Two figures entered the room, each wrapped in black robes with deep cowls. From beneath the hoods poked the masks of a falcon’s beak and a baboon’s muzzle. Between them, they dragged Tariq, his silver-haired head bowed. The masked men dropped him to the floor. He groaned when he landed.

A squat dwarf followed the men and took the leash of Sam’s dog. He restrained another red-eyed hound that slunk ahead of him into the room. The dog rose to the dwarf’s broad shoulder, its eyes glowing with a whisper of Void and its hide rippling with muscle. The dwarf’s smile, nearly buried by his beard, vanished when calls for his third hound failed to bring him to heel. Whistle-like hisses shot from his lips. The two remaining dogs settled to sniff at the prostrate man’s buttocks.

“I ask once more. Where’s the tablet?” Sam repeated, her threat made potent by the quietness of her speech.

Tara looked from the dogs to Sam’s jackal mask and gritted her teeth. Sam spun and kicked Tariq. Ribs cracked. He cried out, rolling onto his back.

Tara flung the blade. Sam’s forearm deflected it to the stone wall. The dagger clanged to the floor. Sam smiled at her mother’s reaction. She did feel emotion, just not love for her daughter. That made Sam’s next task easier.

She concentrated, gripping the copper wire Tariq once showed her long ago like one holds the root of a tree when descending a riverbank, and then she reached into the chaotic energy of the Void. The primal well brimmed with dark energy, so near, so easily drawn. Filled with the Void’s rage, she raised her arms above her head. Tendrils of blue-black lightning crackled between outstretched fingertips.

Her mother stumbled backward, falling onto the bed frame. Mouth agape, her eyes reflected the snaking Void. Sam’s hands lowered as she bent toward Tariq.

“Stop!” Tara screamed.

The plea crashed upon the dispassionate Void. Worms of energy arced across Tariq’s back. Sam shook, her teeth clacking together with each shock. The old man convulsed. The room stank of ozone.

“How could you?” Her mother’s chest heaved, and her lips trembled.

Sam released the Void.

Stooping to retrieve the dagger, Sam drew a deep breath. “The tablet.”

Her mother remained silent. Sam loomed above Tariq and placed her foot on his neck.

Tara’s eyes shut. “I don’t have it.” Her tone appealed. Tariq gurgled as Sam applied pressure.

He signed with his hands and fingers. Say nothing, Tara. This is no longer your daughter.

I will kill him. Sam gestured in reply. She had not forgotten the language; she’d practiced it for years in secret, in the dark, in wait for her mother to return for her. But she never came. No one ever came.

Sam leaned farther on to Tariq’s neck. His fingers clawed with pain.

Tara’s hand slashed. Stop! Creases radiated from her tear-filled eyes. “It’s gone, but we have a copy,” she gasped.

Sam didn’t smile. Her mission was unsuccessful, and she had lost a hound. Its death required blood sacrifice. Tara indicated a rectangular box, lying on a dresser. On the box lid were a series of squares, some of which were marked with hieroglyphs, while others were blank. It was the game Senet, an ancient Egyptian precursor to backgammon. Sam had a dim recollection of playing it. Her good memories were all dim.

She snatched the box from the dresser and snapped back the lid. She found not white and black chips, but a sheaf of parchment. The scroll crackled as it unfurled. A poor rubbing from the original, the hieroglyphs were distorted. She rolled the paper and banged the box shut with her fist.

“Where is the gold?”

For the dog’s death, the dwarf expected a sacrifice, and his pale eyes glinted. Sam looked from Tariq to Tara. Once more, her mother was expressionless.

Sam bent back over Tariq, who wheezed where he sat on the floor, clutching his side. With the hilt of the dagger Sam struck him on the temple, and he thumped to the stone. Tara lunged, but the masked men caught her and held her by her armpits. The dwarf grinned.

Sam opened her mouth to speak, but then closed it. Signing three quick movements, she accented them sharply. Forgive me, I must.

The tip of the blade traced across Tariq’s chest and hovered over his heart. Sam’s vision blurred with tears. Tara writhed in the grip of the men.

“May Seth, god of chaos, accept this sacrifice,” Sam said.

She drove the blade downward until it scored rock.

Tara choked for air as Tariq shook in spasm.

They both fell limp.

Sam knelt beside the corpse. Energy coursed from her fingertips to her spine. Tariq’s murder expanded her access to the Void. The charge raced, permeating each cell of her bones, muscles, and blood, arcing ageless and gnarled. Each caress of the Void changed something, took something, replaced something.

Tara sobbed.

Sam motioned for the men to drag her mother from the room. As she passed, Sam struck Tara’s head against the wall to ensure no surprises as they made their escape. Sam stopped her tears, embarrassed by the show of weakness. She stood and took a deep breath before she, too, strode from the bedroom.

“Place her in the bier,” Sam ordered the men. Two long handles protruded from each end of the white-draped, rectangular litter squatting in the centre of the living room. The men turned up its curtain and revealed a bed of gold and silver stitched pillows.

Sam couldn’t know if the tablet rubbing was authentic, but she could take her mother and keep their link to the tablet intact. It was the only excuse Sam could find not to kill her.

Sam studied the surroundings. The living room had not changed in a quarter-century: pale green couches draped in embroidered fabric, books, everywhere books, candles, and blown-glass vases. Unconscious, Tara slipped from the litter’s plush confines, and her head hit the floor. Sam winced.

Tucked into the corner of a shelf was a small case made of leather with brass clasps, covered with stickers of flowers and fish. She squinted at it, then jerked it from the shelf. When she opened the case, a strangled moan escaped her lips. It was the bag she had packed before her delivery to the Shemsu Seth.

The lid snapped shut on the dolls and dresses of her childhood. One of her doll’s legs, a ragged favorite, stuck out of the suitcase seam. Her mother had been right; Sam had needed none of it.

Sam backed away and then spied a computer tower wedged between two bookcases. She tossed it in with her mother. Its files would be scoured for the tablet’s translation and potential location. Sam’s hands left red sticky fingerprints on the casing. Her stomach rolled at the sight of Tariq’s blood. The tiny kitchen, complete with miniature stove and fridge, held no tablet, nor did Tariq’s closet-sized room. Sam whistled to the sentry.

Another robed man entered and stood at one corner of the bier. After lifting the body of the dead hound inside, the dwarf dashed aboard with his dogs.

“No,” Sam demanded, her voice cracking. “Leave one dog here.” The dwarf whistled, and a hound jumped from the bier, crouching when it landed, ready to leap again.

With the curtains of the bier drawn, Sam and the men each hefted a corner and shuffled out into the courtyard.

No moonlight filtered through the sycamore branches. A carving of Saint George mounted on an Arabian horse and spearing a dragon hung above the yard’s iron-studded door. They exited onto the streets and caught the tail of the procession. At this late hour, the parade had slowed but remained festive still, in celebration of some saint Sam could not recall.

She whooped as they joined the end of the train that snaked its way past the Babylon Fortress and the Convent of St. George. The Coptic revelers took up her cheer. Sam stumbled, awkward on the uneven cobblestone as they jostled amongst the partygoers, threading through the streets until they breached the walls. The procession continued into the next neighborhood, but Sam’s entourage slipped from the rear and turned toward the tombs.

As they entered the City of the Dead, she nodded to a man who lurked in the shadow of the gates. The bier’s handle chafed, and she switched shoulders for the tenth time.

They turned down a thoroughfare lined with windowless mausoleums. Family names rather than street numbers were inscribed on marble, granite, and limestone façades. Eyes stared from the safety of their sanctuaries. A propane lamp’s hiss was silenced. The Shemsu Seth ruled these people by fear and myth. Sam struggled to her full height, her chin high.

When they stopped in front of a large marble mastaba, they lowered the bier.

The dwarf and his dog scrambled out and clambered around the side wall, disappearing into another sandstone crypt, one of the many entrances to an underworld that stretched from the City of the Dead to the suburb of Heliopolis and the pyramids of Giza. Other dwarfs would return to take care of the hound corpse.

The baboon and hawk-masked men slipped Tara’s arms around their necks. She seemed smaller, but Sam felt no satisfaction in the change. She was glad she had been given this task; any other Shemsu Seth would have killed Tara. But as they entered the arched entry of the crypt, unease twisted Sam’s stomach. Death might have been a mercy.

She watched Tara—her mother—descend ahead of her into darkness.

24 Bones
Michael F. Stewart

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Supernatural Thriller

Publisher: Non Sequitur Press

Cover Artist: Martin Stiff of Amazing15

Amazon Smashwords

Book Description:

Every five hundred years the phoenix dies.

Samiya, born-into-shadow, is soon to battle her born-into-light brother. Abandoned by their parents, neither wishes to play the preordained role of beast and hero. When their loved ones are taken hostage, they are forced to follow the path laid out in myth, culminating in a battle first fought six thousand years ago in ancient Cairo. A mythic clash where one defeats the other and both become gods.

To break free from their fates, Samiya and her brother must unravel a mystery twisted by cults, greed, and magic. But myth is a powerful force and failure to live up to it may not only destroy their lives but the lives of the ones they love most.

When the phoenix dies, the only certainty is flames.

“Terrific! A successful blend of genres, complex and fascinating characters, and loads of suspense make 24 Bones a must-read.” Nate Kenyon, bestselling author of The Reach, Prime, Bloodstone, and The Bone Factory.

“'24 Bones' is a winning debut. It's well-written and well-plotted, studded with drama, action, history and mythology. There's even a little romance. The conclusion is thrilling with the final outcome of the battle between good and evil held over until the very end...leaving you guessing until that very last page.” SF Crowsnest.

About the Author:

After crewing ships in the Antarctic and the Baltic Sea and some fun in venture capital, Michael anchored himself (happily) to a marriage and a boatload of kids. Now he injects his adventurous spirit into his writing with brief respites for research into the jungles of Sumatra and Guatemala, the ruins of Egypt and Tik’al, paddling the Zambezi and diving whatever cave or ocean reef will have him. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers and SF Canada, and the author of the Assured Destruction series, 24 Bones, The Sand Dragon, Hurakan, Ruination and several award winning graphic novels for young adults.

More of the tour...

April 30 Spotlight and review
Faerie Tale Books

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Ellie Heller

An interview with Ellie Heller

An interview with Ellie Heller...

Cloey: When did you become interested in writing?

Ellie: I've been writing bits of stories and character sketches for as long as I can remember.

Cloey: What inspired you to write A Matter of Fate?

Ellie: I wrote this story in part due to laziness. It's true! The original novel I wrote in the world I created was too long, too filled with back story and filler as I worked out how magic worked. So much so that editing it out would have been a nightmare. Instead I decided to write a new story, paralleling the original one.

Cloey: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Ellie: There's the idea that sometimes you just have to buck up and do what you've got to do. The execution of this can be fun or it can be horrifying, but shirking the responsibility is not an option.

Cloey: Who was your favorite character and who was your least favorite character to develop and why?

Ellie: My favorite is the Puck, because he's a hoot to write. My least favorite was the 'bad guy', because I don't do horror and there's definitely an element of horror in the final scene. Or at least I thought so, but then again, I don't 'do' horror.

Cloey: What did you enjoy most about writing A Matter of Fate?

Ellie: The interactions between Mona and Cart were a lot of fun, in part because Mona is determinedly clueless.

Cloey: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?

Ellie: In addition to having to deal with the horror element at the end I did a fair amount of logistical research on the area and places where certain events could occur. Some of them I've visited on road trips with my family, others I've used search engine images to help me visualize.

Cloey: What are you working on now?

Ellie: I have a follow-up novel featuring the new leader of the Buffalo pack, Averill, in the works.

Cloey: What do you like to read in your free time?

Ellie: I read fantasy and mystery as well as paranormal and regency romance.

Cloey: Share with us something about yourself that we wouldn't see in your bio or on any other blogs (this can be anything from the type of music you like, your favorite color, or even your favorite meal - share whatever you want your fans to know about you)

Ellie: I love to track winter storms, going so far as to read through the various forecast models and joining online discussion groups to come up with my own analysis. I'm entirely self-taught, so there definitely some of the more technical stuff that's over my head. For a while I was the 'weather guru' for a small online community because of my predilection. I stopped when I moved several states away.

Cloey: Thank you so much for interviewing with me and sharing A Matter of Fate with us today it sounds like a good read. And Tracking storms sounds like a pretty cool hobby too.

A Matter of Fate
Ellie Heller

Genre: Paranormal Romance/ Contemporary Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Crimson Romance

Book Description:

Someone is setting death-spells targeting mortals and elf blood alike. With her mentor out of commission, it’s up to half-trained Warder Mona Lisa Kubrek to stop the magic. Despite being told repeatedly her job is to nullify spells and not go after the source, too many people are at risk for her to not track the spell-caster down. Even meeting a sexy half-elf shifter won’t distract her from her goal.

Except Cart Dupree is fully trained and has the team to search for the evildoer, so she’d be stupid to not use his expertise. Stupid is something she can’t afford to be, not with her enemy’s henchmen after her. Later she’ll deal with Cart and his questions about her special abilities and the non-standard training her mentor has given her. Right now, they need to unravel where the magician is, and who he is, before he builds enough power to decimate them all.

First, though, they need to stay alive.

About the Author

After living in several cities east of the Mississippi, but never quite out of the snow belt, I've settled down in SW Ohio with my three kids, two dogs (one of whom thinks he's a cat) and one cat (who thinks he's a dog).

I write paranormal romance and contemporary fantasy, all with a suspenseful edge. A MATTER OF FATE, a 'traditional' paranormal romance, will be available this spring from Crimson Romance. My first published short (GLBT sensual), "Ginny's Capture" is available now.

I'm also an acquisitions editor (i.e. slush reader :-) ) for Curiosity Quills Press using my full first name, Alison.


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April 27 Spotlight and review
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

April 28 Guest blog
Roxanne’s Realm

April 29 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Carol Van Atta

Guest blog by Carol Van Atta

Why Werewolves?

A werewolf, also known as a lycanthrope (from the Greek λυκάνθρωπος: λύκος, lukos, "wolf", and άνθρωπος, anthrōpos, man), is a mythological or folkloric human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf or an anthropomorphic wolf-like creature, either purposely, by being bitten by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon, as popularly noted by the medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury, and perhaps in earlier times among the ancient Greeks through the writings of Petronius. STOP! If you want more of this fact and folklore stuff, visit the werewolf page on wikipedia.

Instead, I'll explain "why werewolves"? Why write a series of books about wolfy-men, who according to legend, howl at the moon, shed fur, and shred their victims with their big teeth - oh my?

I think the explanation can't ignore the psychology of women. Do I speak for all women? Of course, not! But I do know (right or wrong) a wide range of women (myself included) are, or have been at some point in the past, drawn to "bad boys," men who, for whatever reason, live daringly adventurous lives doing things that often cause them to stand apart from other less intense guys, the type of guys we might refer to as uber-reliable or b-o-r-i-n-g. Bad boys are so refreshingly far from boring; they're not even on the same map. They're typically easy on the eyes, usually in a non-traditional way, and have strong, possibly overbearing personalities; they are decidedly masculine in every sense of the word. Dare we say they're predatory? They take control, go after what they want, and are nowhere near tame. Feral. Wild. Sexy. Dangerous. Yep. They're beastly. And what's more brave and beastly than a werewolf? See my point?

If you want tame, werewolves are not for you. Danger isn't for everyone. Yet, I challenge you to take a long look at the desires of your heart. Do you crave adventure? Excitement? Passion? If you're breathing, I suspect you've wished for those very things a time or two ... or three hundred. Don't worry. And don't be ashamed. You're so not alone.

Men with supernatural tendencies tend to live outside the box we call normal. Excitement, danger, and passion cling to them like peanut butter to jelly. Yummy! And we just can't help but want a taste. Granted, we may live our safe, predictable lives, but opening a book that rockets us into a world of romance, intrigue, and danger, along with a good dose of humor, allows us to experience those bad boys without the not-always-positive side effects. In other words, we can safely enjoy danger and desire without breaking a nail or nursing a broken heart.

So, if you think a man is a dog, maybe you're onto something. Perhaps you've found a wolf. In the case of Zane Marshall, purebred werewolf, you'll find an educated, protective, fiercely loyal, adventurous, and dangerously handsome werewolf. You will read how, Chloe Carpenter, a young woman with animal mind reading talents, discovers that just because a man howls at the moon doesn't mean he's a bad dog. A wolf, yes; but when evil has targeted you, having a werewolf on your side is well worth the shedding. Woof!

If you like werewolves, vampires, and other bump in the night creatures, check out my new book, I Kissed a Dog, book one in the Werewolves of the West series, and join Zane and Chloe as they find love and adventure in the midst of murder, mayhem, and magic.


Carol Van Atta

I Kissed a Dog 
The Werewolves of the West Series Book One 
Carol Van Atta 
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy 

Publisher: Cambridge Press US under the umbrella of Charles River Press (CRP) 

ISBN: 1936185725 
ISBN13: 9781936185726 ASIN: B009SV179U 
Cover Artist: Ann Falcone

Book Trailer:

Book Description:
Chloe Carpenter isn't like other women. She can communicate with animals. A gift she unwrapped following one of her frequent dances with death. 

In her otherwise wacky life, she's finally found a semblance of sanity working at the Plum Beach Wildlife Park, where her unique talents can make life or death differences for the animals in her care. That semblance is shattered when a new veterinarian roars into the park in his spiffed up sports car and sets his golden gaze on her. If she had her way, he'd roar right back out.

Problem: He's her new coworker and he's saved her life twice - in the past twenty-four hours.

Zane Marshall, Enforcer for the Pacific Pack of purebred werewolves, has a job to do - figure out who or what is mutilating the young men of Plum Beach.

With orders to find the woman who talks to animals, he accepts a position working alongside the fiery Chloe Carpenter, a female who ignites his interest far more than he ever expected. Remarkably, she's the one elusive female with potential to bring meaning and passion to his empty existence.

Problem: She despises him.

Together, they're forced to unravel a mystery of supernatural proportions, a murderous mystery with eternal implications for everyone. In the process, they discover opposites really do attract.
Major Problem: Zane is pledged to another woman, and she'll do anything to keep him from Chloe. 

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About the Author:

Like most authors, Carol Van Atta is no stranger to the written word. She penned a short novel at age 12 (somewhat frightening illustrations included, and lots of bunnies were involved), and had a creative writing piece published in her high school newspaper (about David Bowie's Diamond Dogs LP). Yes, she's an ex-80's chick.

Devouring books from numerous genres, Carol developed a deep thirst/hunger for more reading material, and could almost always be found with her nose in a book.

She has contributed to several popular inspirational anthologies and devotional books, and lives in the rainy wetland of Oregon with a terrifying teen (another in college) and a small zoo of animals. She is taking an undetermined hiatus away from inspirational writing to delve into her darker side. (Though you can check out her latest spiritual suspense novel, Soul Defenders). It is rumored that this genre-jumping occurred after Carol discovered too suspicious red marks on her neck, and experienced an unquenchable urge to howl at the moon.

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April 24 Guest blog
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April 25 Guest blog and review
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4-29 thru 5-3 Guest blog
Kay Dee Royal

Monday, April 22, 2013

J. E. Taylor

Interview with J. E. Taylor

Welcome to Cloey's Book Reviews and Other Stuff and thank you for interviewing with me today and sharing your writing process and Night Hawk. 

Cloey: When did you become interested in writing?

J.E.: When I was in fifth grade, I wrote and illustrated my first story. Of course, I couldn't draw worth a darn, but my father kept it and gave it to me recently just to prove I've always had a dark side. One of these days I'm going to laminate the book.

Cloey: What inspired you to write Night Hawk?

J. E.: An old work-in-progress that I found when cleaning off my hard drive. Once I found it, the story in my head took flight and I couldn't concentrate on anything else I was working on, so I tabled the rest and focused on Night Hawk.

Cloey: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

J. E.: No matter what is thrown in your direction, be fearless and tackle it head on.

Cloey: Who was your favorite character and who was your least favorite character to develop and why?

J. E.: At first, I thought Damian would be my favorite, after all, who doesn't want to be in the company of a man who looks like a Greek god, but then Naomi took control and she just developed into a fearless creature that I love. She's brash and daring and not afraid of much. I'm sure this will eventually get her into trouble, but for now, she's just fun to work with.

I'm not sure whether the "least favorite character to develop" applies because I enjoy the creation process for both my heroes and villains, so from a developmental standpoint I can't comment.

Cloey: What did you enjoy most about writing Night Hawk?

J. E.: The fact that the characters captivated me and drove the direction of the story. It was a flurry of writing sessions and I really had quite a lot of fun with this one.

Cloey: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?

J. E.: Time. I have a demanding full time job as well as being a partner in a publishing house. Between those two obligations and my family, it is very hard to carve out dedicated writing time. My family knows I get cranky if I'm not writing at least a little bit every day, so they are patient with me, but I can't put my day job on hold to write the way I can with my personal life. So setting the time aside was a challenge, but one that was worth it when I finally finished.

Cloey: What are you working on now?

J. E.: I'm working on the second book in my son's Death Chronicles trilogy. This is one of the ways I find time to spend with him, writing together is fun and educational for him too. Highway to Hell is due out in July. Beyond that, I'm proofing audio book productions and by the end of this blog tour all my novels with the exception of Night Hawk will be available in audio format.

Cloey: What do you like to read in your free time?

J. E.: I like books that thrill me - horror, thrillers, suspense, anything that gets my blood pumping or engages me from the start. Lately, I've been reading a lot of YA and NA as well.

Cloey: Share with us something about yourself that we wouldn't see in your bio or on any other blogs...

J. E.: Oh gosh, well, people know I'm vertically challenged (short), they know I have small feet (kids size 2), they know I can't cook worth a damn. Oh - I know. When I was in New York with my daughter the weekend she tried out for America's Got Talent, my niece, my daughter and I broke out in random dancing in the Apple store.

Cloey: Thank you again for hanging with us today and for sharing Night Hawk - it looks like a hot read.

“You’re more than welcome to join me,” I said when she showed no signs of moving.

Her mouth opened and she glanced back toward the living room. “When?”

“Right now,” I said, knowing she wasn’t referring to my offer.

She rolled her eyes. “When did you paint that mural?”

“A long time ago,” I said. “Now, are you going to join me or not?” This time I turned toward her, giving her the full view and I smiled at the way her gaze bounced, her eyes widening a fraction before inching their way back up my chest to my face. Her cheeks bloomed and I cocked an eyebrow at her.

She pressed her lips together and slammed the door, marching out of the room in a huff.

I chuckled and ran the soap over my chest, running my fingers over what was left of the welt on my skin. The vampiric healing powers still amazed me enough that I missed the shift in the air around me.

Nails scraped my back and I jumped, swinging my head in the direction of the disturbance. Her wide eyes met mine and I turned, drinking her in from head to toe. Exquisite was the only word that popped into mind and when her fingers touched my chest I reached, covering her hand and holding it against my skin.

“What are you doing?” I whispered because having her undressed and this close put me at a major disadvantage.

“I’m saying thank you,” she said and her hands moved lower.

Catching her wrists, I warned, “Naomi, don’t start something you can’t finish.” My body responded anyway and she closed the distance. Her lips grazed my chest and I closed my eyes, releasing her and surrendering to her exploration.

When her tongue trailed lower, I recalled the memories of her ex and my eyes snapped open. As much as the thought of her taking me in her mouth thrilled me, I didn’t want to be that memory and I grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her up to face me. She wasn’t one of the common harlots from my past that I let drop to their knees before me.

No, Naomi was different and I wanted more.

“You do not have to do this just because you aren’t ready for anything else.”

Her dark eyes met mine and I traced the frame of her face with my fingertips, studying every curve. Leaning down, I took her lower lip in my mouth, sucking gently before shifting and delivering a kiss that started as tender and rich as her blood, but it soon escalated into an all-consuming heat and I could envision living in this bliss for the rest of eternity.

I had lied to her today.

Fear wasn’t the only deep emotion I had encountered since I plucked her out of the sky, this need to connect, to love again overwhelmed me. The irony of her name and the form she turned into added to the feel that fate had prepared this feast just for me.

Night Hawk
Book One – Night Hawk Series
J.E. Taylor 

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Novel Concept Publishing, LLC

Cover Artist:

Book Description:

Selling your soul has never been so charming and Mark throws in a little something to sweeten the pot, his girlfriend Naomi.

Sentenced to death at the hands of a demon, Naomi Hawk has a firsthand lesson in despair and betrayal in Mark’s deal for fame with all the trimmings. Deep in the clutches of the underground brotherhood, Naomi's light is coveted for the Master's gain.

When she slips and falls eighty stories from a precarious ledge, Naomi resigns herself to the inevitable impact and death by shattered bones. Before she can escape her demons in eternal slumber, something sinister plucks her from the plummet, stealing her out of the night to sacrifice her forever to the shadows.

Imprisoned in bottomless darkness, Naomi thirsts for justice…and revenge.

About the Author:

J.E. Taylor is a writer, a publisher, an editor, a manuscript formatter, a mother, a wife and a business analyst, not necessarily in that order. She first sat down to seriously write in February of 2007 after her daughter asked:

“Mom, if you could do anything, what would you do?”

From that moment on, she hasn’t looked back and now her writing resume includes a more than a dozen published novels along with several short stories on the virtual shelves including a few within eXcessica anthologies.

In addition to being co-owner of Novel Concept Publishing

(www.novelconceptpublishing), Ms. Taylor also moonlights as a Senior Editor of Allegory (, an online venue for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror. She has been known to edit a book or two and also offers her services judging writing contests for various RWA chapters.

She lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children and during the summer months enjoys her weekends on the shore in southern Maine.

Visit her at

More of the tour...

April 23 Spotlight

April 24 Guest blog
Share My Destiny

April 24 Review
Unraveling Words

April 25 Interview and review
Happy tails and tales

April 26 Interview
Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews

April 29 Guest blog
Booked & Loaded

May 2 Review
Demons do it Better

May 4 review
Musings of Mistress of the Dark Path-

May 5 Spotlight
Bex 'n' Books

May 7 Guest blog and review
Zombiegirl Shambling

May 8 Interview
Books and Tales

May 9 Spotlight and review
Faerie Tale Books

Friday, April 19, 2013

Aubrianna Hunter

Guest blog and excerpt by Aubrianna Hunter

Recently, I have had several other authors and aspiring authors ask me how... How I decided on traditional instead of self publishing, how I got published, how I market my books... Basically, they are looking for advice.

While I understand the query, have even made the same query of other authors myself, it is actually a very challenging question to answer. First and foremost, there is no 'right' way, no singular method, no formula to follow. Unfortunately, it is just not that easy. Everyone's path to publishing is as personal as their path to writing. While I cannot tell you how to get published, nor even which path is going to be right for you, I can tell you a little about my experience.

I wrote two books, queried forty different publishers and agents and they were both rejected by everyone. That part is pretty traditional.

However, my third book (the first one published), wasn't even completed when I sent out a query. Fully expecting another refusal I sent it to one publishing house on a whim. I didn't even submit the query with the requested formatting. I opened with a quip... "Long time friends, one time lovers..."

It was accepted twenty four hours later, which meant I had to finish writing the book! Oh. My. God. I was some weird combination of excited and absolutely terrified. Now, I not only had to finish a book in a matter of days, I had to let the world read it! Eeeekk.

So, my advice would be...

First and foremost, keep trying. If at first you don't succeed, write, write again. You will hear no, you will have haters. It's part of the process and the best way to look at that is not to take it personally. Just keep at it. Submit to as many people as possible, as often as possible. There will be a lot more no's than yes's. Contrary to how I got published, I would say make sure you have a completed manuscript and that it is as polished as you can make it before you try and submit. That last minute panicked rush was absolutely no fun.

Finally, be true to your own style. The one thing that I have heard repeatedly, from both fans and haters, is that I don't sound like anyone else. Which is probably quite true. Some love my writing style, and others don't. However, I refuse to change my approach simply to please the masses. And trust me when I say it has been suggested in more ways than one. Find your style, write what you want to read, and stay true to yourself. Your writing will be more natural and infinitely better if it is not forced.

"Just what the hell do you think you're doing, Josh?"

"Why Georgia, I have no idea what you're talking about."

"Oh cut the crap, lawyer boy."

Bringing them literally nose to nose, he whispered against her lips, "That's three, baby."

"What are you doing? Someone is going to see us. Back up."

Josh noted that she was telling him to back up, but her lips were moving the tiniest bit closer. He could kiss her, right here, right now. And she would let him.

But, if anyone saw them, she would hate him, and what they had would be over before it truly began.

With more control than he thought he possessed, he backed his head away from hers and spun her away from him, until she was facing the bar. Removing temptation, while still allowing him the feel of her body.

"Teasing me like that, Gia, is worth two... so that makes it five."

It took her a second to respond, letting him know she was just as affected as he was. "Five what?"

He leaned in and smiled against her ear. "Spankings. Every time you tease, torment, or simply act bitchy, you are going to earn yourself another."

She leaned her body back against him, almost sagging into him as gooseflesh ran down her arms. That, combined with the little shiver she gave, told him all he needed to know.

"You really like that idea, don't you baby?"

"Fuck you, Josh." Her words were harsh, though her tone was raspy. The desire he heard in her tone shot straight to his cock.

Grabbing her hip with one hand, he gripped the bar with the other, half convinced he would break the damn thing with his grip. "Here and now, or did you want to wait until we get back to my house?" He used his grip to grind himself against her ass.

He realized just how carried away they'd gotten when instead of pulling away, she leaned into him with a breathy little moan.

"Ah, hell Gia." He pulled away from her taking a full step back before he did something colossally stupid. Taking a deep breath, he was trying to calm himself when the bartender showed back up, drinks in hand.

Taking the beers, he asked Gia to grab Deb's martini and he turned to head back to the table. He stopped for just a second, and leaned in to say quietly, "Now we're up to seven, Gia. One for the 'fuck you' and one for the teasing. Just how badly are you going to behave the rest of the night?"

* * * *

She was going to kill him. A long, slow, painful death. After she sexually tormented him for hours on end first, of course.

If she was honest, she was actually more angry with herself, or at least with her body, than he was with him. She had almost given in and kissed him at the bar.

Kissed him... hell, she knew it wouldn't have stopped there. At that particular moment, she had forgotten where they were, who they were with. She hadn't cared. The only thing she could think about was having him slip that long, hard shaft inside her and easing the ache.

Josh leaned over, whispering in her ear, "If you don't want me to fuck you right here at this table, you had better get that goddamn look off your face."

"Go to hell Josh," she all but yelled at him. Everyone at the table glanced her way, but since the two of them arguing was nothing new, they merely waited for his response. When he merely smirked at her, they all went back to chatting about whatever they'd been chatting about.

She made the mistake of looking at him and he mouthed out, "That's thirteen, baby."

She trusted him. Completely. At least in this. She knew he would absolutely break her heart in the end, but she knew she could trust him with her body. And quite frankly, judging by the look in his eye, he may not give her a choice. She knew he was deadly serious. She was going to get spanked tonight.

Another little shiver of anticipation ran through her.

Suddenly Josh stood up, almost shooting out of his chair. "Hey, Gia. Dance with me?"

Before she could even answer, he grabbed her arm and tugged, leaving her no choice but to stand and follow unless she wanted to be dragged across the room.

As soon as they were hidden from view, he pulled her flush against him. The contact, combined with the friction of movement, both soothed and tormented her.

After just a few seconds, she heard Josh groan, his already hard shaft, pulsing against her belly.

"You have got to stop looking like that Gia. You are driving me fucking insane."

"Like what?" she asked, honestly confused.

"Like you want me to throw you over my lap and spank you right here."

Hidden Depths
Hidden Series - Book 1 Aubrianna Hunter 

Genre: Contemporary Erotic Romance

Publisher: Writer's Edge Publishing

ASIN: B00B09852A

Kindle - Hidden Depths - Kindle Edition

Paperback - Hidden Depths Paperback

Book Description:

She is pierced, dyed and tattooed born on the wrong side of the tracks. He is a traditional white knight born of the proverbial silver spoon. Their meeting was an accident, the fact that they became even the most tentative of friends, an anomaly. The only real thing they had in common... chemistry. Lots of chemistry. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough and Gia knew it. Now, if only she could convince her body...

Josh had always walked the line, lived the life he was expected to live. He had, by all accounts, the perfect life; a corporate lawyer, a beautiful home, a family empire to run, and the perfect fiancee. He was well on his way. The only question he had... was that really where he wanted to go? Plagued by dreams, Josh fought all his natural instincts, denying not only what he truly wanted but who he was deep down inside. Until one crazy night when he gave in to his desires...

Could these two polar opposites have more in common than even they realize?

About the Author:

I am often asked; who is Aubrianna Hunter? And the truth is the answer isn't a simple one. Beyond being a dedicated wife and mother, I was raised by a Marine, and married into the Navy.

Needless to say I can go toe to toe with the most sarcastic people you have met, and can dish insults and curse with the best of them. I blurt wildly inappropriate things at precisely the moment when the room goes quiet, so much so that my co-author has nicknamed me Ted... Yes... After the bear in the movie.

Recently my husband has replaced calling me crazy with calling me "Creative", but the tone he uses to do it makes me question his sincerity. Though honestly, crazy is probably closer to reality. I like my hectic life, in fact I thrive in the chaos and would have it no other way.

Amazon Link


Facebook Fan Page

Aubrianna Hunter - Blog

More of the tour...

April 20 Spotlight
Reviewing in Chaos

April 20 and 21 Interview

April 22 Review
A Bibliophiles Thoughts on Books

April 23 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.

April 24 Spotlight and review
Readaholic's Reviews

April 25 Guest blog and review
Nightstand Novels

April 26 Spotlight and review
Musings From An Addicted Reader

April 27 Spotlight and review
Words of Wisdom from The Scarf Princess

April 29 review
Romance Addict Book Blog –

April 30 Guest blog
Erotica For All,

May 1 Interview
TBQ'S Book Palace

May 2 Spotlight
Books & Tales

May 2 Spotlight

May 3 Spotlight and review
Open Book Society

May 3 review
Faerie Tale Books

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Constance Phillips

Constance Phillips

For Harry Houdini, failure wasn’t an option.

Being closed into the old steamer trunk didn’t faze him, not even when the familiar sound of a padlock clanking in place echoed in his ear. When water began to seep through the seams, most men would panic, but years of experience pushed down the instinct. He knew his faithful assistant and wife, Bess, had slipped into the spotlight to distract the crowd and raise the tension, just like they’d practiced for hours and performed dozens of times.

While the fans anticipated the worst, he took a slow and measured breath and prepared for several minutes without oxygen.

Harry focused on his center from behind veiled lids and used every last bit of strength to extend his legs. The side of the trunk he’d carefully loosened the night before popped off, and the water now rushed in. With cuffed hands, he felt along the lid, guiding himself out. His hooked pinky swiped the key from beneath his tongue, but the metallic taste remained.

Lifting his legs, he made short work of the shackles binding his ankles and then arched his back, reaching toward the surface. In seconds, the cuffs securing his wrists fell away too.

All that was left was to break the surface and claim his reward. The roar of the crowd and Bess’s loving arms were the only two things that thrilled him more than defying death. Her and his fans gave him the drive to succeed.

Light faded away, as if rain clouds covered the sun or as if he was sinking further away from his destination.

His world spun like a child’s top. A pulse thumped in his ear and molten-hot blood pumped through his veins. Pure adrenaline fueled the glimpses of his past, which flashed by like the slides his brother, Theo, showed after every vacation. But Harry wasn’t watching the events unfold; he relived the memories over and again.

The spinning stopped. He now hung upside down, wrapped tighter than a Christmas present. His Chinese Water Torture Chamber, a straight jacket and the stage of the Orpheum Theatre; Harry might as well be safe at home in bed. He’d free himself from the binds as soon as he pushed his shoulder out of joint.

With a pop, this faded to white too.

Always trapped. Never escaping. No reward.

The spinning continued, like a phonograph record.

Shivers raked his body. In the distance, he could hear a doctor offering comfort and explaining to a sobbing Bess that hope was lost.

Harry saw nothing, just shuddered and listened. Icy water enveloped him; his neck rested on the frosty cast-iron tub. No matter how many times he relived it, he still believed his infection would clear and the fever would break. He may have stood in the shadow cast by the angel of death, but he still denied the inevitable. A burst appendix destroy the great Harry Houdini, master escape artist and expert showman? Never. When the lights fell on his final performance, something grander than illness would extinguish his flame.

Swallowing hard, he fought the quiver in his lips and tried to call out for Bess. Her touch to his cheek would provide the needed strength. The only vision that ever played out completely: he whispered her name and watched his own chest rise and fall for the last time.

Spinning. Spinning.

The cold vanished, his pain dissipated, but the mental torture never ended. Over and over he experienced his greatest challenges, but not the successes. Never completing an escape and returning to Bess’s embrace kept him lonely and devastated. What had he done to deserve such torment, and for how long would this agony continue?

Harry always believed in ashes to ashes. When his heart stopped, his mind would too. Anything else seemed impossible, but now he knew different. This was Hell.

But what of the fire and brimstone ol’ man Thomas used to preach about on the corner?

As a child, Harry’s sainted mother would rush him past Seventh and Main where the elderly man testified to the world. She’d whisper passages from the Torah and remind him his main concern should be this life. Despite his mother’s dislike for the reverend, he taught Harry a valuable lesson that would stick with him his whole life: give people a show.

Would it disappoint the preacher to know that, despite what the scriptures said, Hell didn’t torture the body with never-ending fires, but focused on the mind? Harry knew this was worse.

His stomach heaved to and fro. Bile bubbled in his gut and pushed its way up, burning his throat, but the relief vomiting would bring never came.

Why won’t the spinning stop? Maybe because he allowed it to continue. Change comes from within. That’s how he lived his life: for every action, a reaction. Why should death be different?

No more complacency.

He tightened his muscles and stretched his body as taut as possible. “STOP!”

Spinning. Spinning. As if he was embedded on a reel-to-reel film and someone had pushed rewind, but he was through being held at someone else’s mercy. Again, he ordered an end to the torture.

The loud clank of rusty gears grinding together sounded, and he felt whatever force kept him tied to this existence snap. His body plummeted and his arms thrashed; pleas turned to screams. Maybe there was something worse than the status quo. Falling faster now, he tensed his muscles and braced for the agonizing pain of hitting the ground.

Soft and comforting instead, like slipping into a feather bed and wrapping up in a patchwork quilt, he felt ground beneath him. And serenity. An end to his anguish? He opened his eyes and wondered if he’d see anything but his past. White padding adorned the walls and the floor, like he’d seen in those mental hospitals he toured while concocting his straightjacket escape.

But Harry wasn’t crazy. He was dead.

The air shifted; the temperature rose. Sweat replaced the goose bumps that covered his arms. A body? Harry touched the flesh to make sure it was real. The image of a floating soul now shattered by this reality. Hot, humid air burned his lungs as he leaned against the wall and looked up into the ice-blue eyes of a stranger, who loomed a good foot taller than Harry and was wrapped in tight, black leather like the blacksmiths he’d known in his youth or the cowboys he’d first met out west. Long, black hair veiled the stranger’s face. He lit a cigarette and threw his head back, inhaling deeply and giving Harry another look at those bizarre eyes. A shiver rode his spine. “My God.”

A bubbling laugh erupted from the giant. “Not bloody likely.”

Resurrecting Harry
Constance Phillips

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Crescent Moon Press

ISBN: 978-1-939173-13-3

Cover Artist: Lilliana Sanchez

Book Trailer:

Book Description:

Can the greatest escape artist ever known break the grim reaper’s chains to save the only woman he’s ever loved?

In order to save Bess from self-destruction, Harry Houdini puts his afterlife on the line by entering a wager with purgatory’s keeper. He gives Harry a younger face and body, and a new name: Erich Welch.

Bess clings to his promise to deliver a coded message from beyond the grave, determined to provide the bridge for him to cross, even if that means befriending her husband's sworn enemy.

Erich needs to help Bess over her loss and put her on the road to healing, but will any good come from resurrecting Harry?

Amazon Kindle Amazon Print

About the Author:

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, two ready-to-leave-the-nest children, and four canine kids. Her perfect fantasy vacation would involve hunting Dracula across Europe with her daughter, who also digs that kind of stuff. When she's not writing about fairies, shifters, vamps, and guardian angels, she's working side-by-side with her husband in their hardwood flooring business.

Constance is actively involved in her local Romance Writers of America chapter (MVRWA) and the Southeast Michigan chapter of the United States Pony Club. When not writing or enjoying the outdoors, she loves reality television or can be found at a Rick Springfield concert (just look for the pink Converse high tops).





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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Lashell Collins

Interview with Lashell Collins

Please join me in welcoming Lashell Collins to Cloey's Book Reviews and Other Stuff today and enjoy learning more about Lashell and Pierced By Danger.

Cloey: When did you become interested in writing?

Lashell: I've always been interested in writing, and I've written little short stories and things over the years but, I never really took it seriously until just a few years ago, when a series of things happened. First, I lost someone special to me and started writing a story about it in my grief; just something that I never intended to show anyone. But it helped me. I found it very cathartic. And then, as my 40th birthday was approaching, a friend of mine said that I needed to do something scary and life-affirming to celebrate. Well, she meant something like sky diving or bungie jumping or some other death-defying feat but, I thought writing a story with the intention of one day offering it to the world sounded much scarier than any extreme sport. So, I started visiting a fan fiction website and began posting a little story on there, just to get some feedback and see what others thought of my writing. And the encouragement I found there is what actually gave me the courage and the push that I needed to start writing seriously.

Cloey: What inspired you to write Pierced By Danger?

Lashell: A conversation with my husband, believe it or not. I was sitting in a restaurant with my husband one night and I was telling him about my decision to pursue this writing thing seriously, and I started telling him about a story idea I had. In most of the romance novels I had been reading at that time, typically the hero was always this very wealthy, captain of industry and he meets this young woman and sweeps her off her feet. But I've always been fascinated by the other dynamic. What would happen if a very proud, very macho, working-class man fell in love with an extremely wealthy young woman? How would that play out?

Cloey: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Lashell: Hmm. Honestly, it's just a sweet, romantic love story and I never intended for there to be a message or a deeper meaning hidden inside. Unless it's the message that domestic violence is not just a crime against the person being abused. It's also a crime against the children who are forced to witness that abuse. And it can affect those children in very profound ways. Not all of them are strong enough in character to overcome that situation and break the cycle of abuse.

Cloey: Who was your favorite character and who was your least favorite character to develop and why?

Lashell: Well, my favorite character to develop was Joshua and he came the easiest. And I'm not really sure why that is but, he just came alive for me with very little effort. I felt like I really knew him and I knew how he would respond in any situation. In fact, at the risk of sounding crazy, there was a scene that I very much wanted to include in the book but, I just couldn't bring myself to do it because I knew how Joshua would have reacted – and by extension, how Samantha would have reacted – and I didn't want to go there.

My least favorite character to develop was probably Lois Colby, Samantha and Lucas' mother. And I say that simply because she's just so unpleasant most of the time. We don't see much of her in book one but, in books two and three we get to experience more of her.

Cloey: What did you enjoy most about writing Pierced By Danger?

Lashell: What I enjoyed most was the mystery and excitement of letting the book reveal itself to me. I really do feel like I didn't create these characters, they introduced themselves to me and told me their stories and I just wrote them down. It was such great fun and I hope to have that experience again and again with whatever stories come next.

Cloey: What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story to life?

Lashell: I think the biggest challenge for me was probably geographical. I live in Ohio, but I wanted to set my story somewhere else. Somewhere I've never been but have always wanted to visit. Well, I've been all over the Midwestern United States and some of the South. So that left the New England area or the West. So, I went with Seattle because it's a city I've always wanted to see. But describing locations when you've never been there is a challenge so, research became my best friend.

Cloey: What are you working on now?

Lashell: Right now, I'm very anxious to release book two of this series. The title of it is Pierced By Love and I'm hoping for a release of it at the end of April and then book three at the end of May. But I've actually just started working on a new project that doesn't involve Joshua and Samantha in any way. It's a story that I've been thinking about for a long time now involving a double love triangle … of sorts!

Cloey: What do you like to read in your free time?

Lashell: Romance! I am a true romance junkie; as long as there's a hot guy and a great storyline, I'm happy. I enjoy varying degrees of heat but, I prefer the ones on the spicy side.

Cloey: Share with us something about yourself that we wouldn't see in your bio or on any other blogs (this can be anything from the type of music you like, your favorite color, or even your favorite meal - share whatever you want your fans to know about you)

Lashell: One of my favorite things to do is ride on the back of my husband's Harley-Davidson Wide Glide.

Cloey: Thank you so much for hanging out with us today and sharing Pierced By Danger. The book sounds awesome!

“Please help yourself to seconds,” I say. “Would you like another beer?”

He hesitates a beat and then answers, “Sure.”

Happily, I stand and go over to retrieve another Corona from the fridge. Without asking this time, I cut him another small wedge of lime as he opens the bottle. Our fingers touch as I hand him the slice of lime and I feel that same jolt of electricity I felt when he touched my hand at the hospital. I gasp softly and his eyes seem to lock onto mine. We are frozen for what feels like several minutes, but I know in reality it's only a few fleeting seconds. I look away nervously.

“That's some view,” he says after a few moments.

I look up and he is gazing out the balcony doors at the setting sun and the Olympic Mountains. “Would you like to sit outside for a while?” I ask. He shrugs in response and I gather up my bottle of Izze and head over to the balcony doors as he follows.

“It's a nice night,” I say as we walk out onto the balcony and over to the railing. I perch my drink on the railing and he is quiet as he stands next to me and takes a swig of his beer. I feel another frisson of electricity run throughout my entire body at his proximity. He sets his beer on the railing next to my juice and we stand and take in the view for several minutes, neither of us saying a word and I am suddenly extremely nervous. It's as if I can feel the anxiety rolling off of him in waves and it's making me tense. “I always marvel at this view,” I say quietly. Nervously. “I've painted it a few times. It really is quite lovely.”

“Yes. It is.” His voice is soft and husky, and it sounds as though he's struggling with himself. And when I glance up at him, he is staring at me intently. He's not looking at the view at all. Oh my. And before I know what's happening, he reaches out and weaves a hand through my hair, palming the back of my head, and gently pulling me towards him as he leans down to kiss me.

His lips touch mine forcefully and I moan, giving his tongue all the invitation it needs. He kisses me slowly, his tongue stroking mine in a hot, passionate, erotic slow dance, as if he's tasting me. Savoring me. Timidly, my tongue begins to move, exploring and caressing his. I feel his other hand fisting in my hair and then it slowly travels down my body, pulling me close to him as he continues to hold my head in place with the other. My hands reach up and into his soft, wavy hair and he groans in response as his hand finds my backside and lightly squeezes. I moan into his mouth once more and he pulls away looking deep into my eyes. We are both breathless and he takes a step back, releasing me and running a hand through his own hair as he looks away.

“Shit,” he mutters to himself. He sounds aggravated. I say nothing as I try desperately to gather my scattered wits about me. He looks back at me and his eyes seem to be filled with some inner turmoil. “I'm sorry, Samantha,” he says gruffly. “That was … way out of line. I shouldn't have kissed you.”

What? No! “I didn't think it was out of line,” I say, still breathless. “Please, don't apologize.”

He looks at me and I can still see he's fighting some sort of internal battle. “It was out of line, Samantha,” he insists. “And it can't happen again.” He sounds as if he's trying to convince himself, not me.

“I don't understand,” I say softly. “Why not?”

“Because of the job,” he almost yells, looking at me as if I don't understand two plus two. “You are the victim in a case I'm investigating,” he continues. “It is wrong on so many levels.”

“Oh.” My voice is small and uncertain. And suddenly, I feel like a silly little girl. I wrap my arms around myself protectively.

He sighs heavily and runs both his hands through his hair again. Then he takes a step closer to me and says, “Samantha, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to raise my voice at you. I am just … angry and frustrated at myself. I should never have let this happen. I shouldn't have come here tonight.”

“I'm glad you came by tonight,” I say honestly. “I'm not sorry we kissed.”

“Samantha,” he says, looking at me forlornly as he leans back against the railing of the balcony. Then he says nothing as he reaches out and caresses my face, running his thumb over my bottom lip. “It was some kiss,” he whispers, as if to himself, his eyes never leaving my mouth. He straightens suddenly and says, “I should go.” 

“Okay,” I say softly and turn to lead him back into the apartment. I watch in silence as he dons his sexy, black leather jacket.

“Thank you for sharing your dinner with me,” he says, a sad smile playing at the corners of his beautiful, sculptured mouth.

“Anytime,” I respond quietly. Sadly. And suddenly, I can't stop myself. I have to know something. “Josh?” I ask as he heads for the door.


I hesitate slightly, unsure if I want to know the answer … or if he'll even answer me honestly. “If this investigation didn't exist … or if it were over …,” he doesn't give me a chance to get it out before he interrupts me.

“In a heartbeat, Samantha!” His voice is earnest as his piercing blue eyes bore into mine. “If this investigation were over …,” he pauses a moment and swallows. “This evening would be ending very differently.” He turns then and opens the door. “Come. Lock this behind me,” he gently commands.

I move silently toward the door, coming to a stop directly in front of him.

“Goodnight, Samantha,” he whispers. To my surprise, he bends and lightly kisses my forehead.

“Goodnight, Josh.”

He leaves, closing the door behind him and I take a few deep breaths. “Lock it,” he says forcefully from the other side. I smile at his unexpected words but say nothing. I reach up and lock the door with a flourish. “Good girl,” he says. And as I stand on my tip toes to look out the peep hole, I see him smile slightly and walk away … just as Madonna begins to sing of forbidden love on my iPod.

Pierced By Danger 
Pierced Trilogy, book 1
Lashell Collins

Genre: Erotic Romance


Cover Artist: Rob Hood,


Book Description:

When stunningly beautiful drilling heiress, Samantha Colby is mugged one night, her misfortune leads to an encounter with the handsome and mysterious Detective Joshua Pierce. The reluctant celebutante is immediately taken by his rugged good looks, his take-charge attitude and his quiet concern for her safety. Unable to stop the disturbing thoughts suddenly running through his mind at the sight of her, Detective Pierce finds himself strangely captivated by her beauty, her innocence and her charm.

Inexplicably drawn to one another and unable to fight it, the pair embark on a passionate physical affair. But despite the safety and love Samantha feels when she's with him, she soon discovers that the good detective is a tormented man, haunted by ghosts and memories that he can't forget. But when it becomes clear that Samantha's mugging was only the beginning of her trouble, can Pierce find a way to quiet the demons that threaten to consume him in order to keep her safe, or will he allow his tortured past to destroy them both?

With heavy doses of romance, eroticism and heart, the Pierced Trilogy is a sweet tale of finding love, overcoming your past, and learning to hope for the future.

About the Author
Lashell Collins was born and raised in a small Ohio town. And although her midwestern upbringing gave her a very practical outlook on life, it didn’t stop her from daydreaming about romance and love and all the special little things that make life magical.

Lashell has always loved to write and often dreamed about pursuing her passion, but like so many of us, she allowed life and circumstances to lead her down a very different path for a long time. An avid lover of both animals and flowers, Lashell has spent the last twenty years working in Veterinary Clinics and Garden Centers before finally finding the courage to take writing seriously.

She lives in Ohio with her husband and their two four-legged children, a Bernese Mountain Dog named Ben and an American Bobtail cat called Spike. She is a hopeless romantic, a huge music fan, loves to laugh and loves a happy ending.

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