Friday, January 31, 2014

Excerpt from The Last Season: The Story of a Marriage by Marian D. Schwartz


What happens when a successful, determined middle-aged man falls in love with a woman who has been happily married for twenty-seven years? If he's Avery Laird, he hires her to work for him.

Buddy Middleton is positive that the job his wife, Ginger, is offered is too good to be true, that Avery Laird has an ulterior motive, but he can't prove it. When Buddy voices his doubts and urges her not to take it, he makes Ginger feel as though she isn't worth the offer. Determined to prove him wrong, Ginger goes to work for Laird and saves him over half a million dollars in the first real estate deal she handles for his company.

Flush with success, Ginger believes that the problems she and Buddy had are over. But then they have an unexpected guest from the past, a fellow named Hoot with whom Buddy played professional baseball when they were newly married. Hoot tells Ginger the true reason Buddy quit baseball, a subject they had always avoided. When Ginger confronts Buddy with what she has learned, trouble really begins... and Avery is there waiting.


When I wrote this scene, I knew that Avery Laird was courting Ginger, but she had no idea of what his true intentions were. I wanted her to be uneasy and innocent, a woman deeply in love with her husband who would never think that another man would pursue her with the intention of marrying her.


We were the last people to leave the building. On our way out, Avery apologized for the late hour. “I hope I haven’t interfered with any plans you have.”
“I don’t have any plans. The football team is playing in Camden.”
Only later, much later, did I realize that he might have known the team was playing in Camden because he reads the sports section.
“Will you join me for dinner? We can talk about the interview.”
I hesitated. It was one thing to go out to lunch with him to discuss a business deal and quite another to go out to dinner on a Friday night when my husband was out of town for the evening. “Don’t be concerned about the propriety of it,” he said. “We’ll be in a public place. I’d like to try that new French restaurant, Henri’s. I’ve been hearing good things about it. If you see people you know, you can explain that you’re interviewing me.”
“I don’t want people to know I’m interviewing you until I place the article.”
“Then you can tell them that it’s a business dinner, which it is.”
It still didn’t seem right. I was about to refuse when he added, “It doesn’t make sense for each of us to eat alone when we could enjoy each other’s company.” He smiled. His teeth gleamed as white as his shirt in the semi-darkness. The air was quite cool, and neither one of us was wearing a coat. I couldn’t take forever to make up my mind. With some misgivings, I agreed to go.
We drove in separate cars and met at the restaurant, which is in a refurbished house in town. I’d wanted to eat at Henri’s since it had opened several months before but didn’t suggest it to Buddy because it is so expensive. Even if we could have afforded to spend over one hundred dollars for dinner, Buddy would have balked. He says he can’t enjoy a meal that costs a dollar a mouthful. I was wearing a red sweater and black wool slacks, an outfit that was too casual for Henri’s and certainly not one that I would pick for business. But even if I was dressed properly and it was my only opportunity to have dinner at Henri’s, by the time I arrived I was really uneasy about eating there with Avery Laird.
Although Henri’s was elegant and the lobster bisque was superb, I didn’t relax until the main course. My salmon was too good not to enjoy.
Avery was aware of my uneasiness. I think it might have amused him. “Are you always so conscious of everyone who walks into a restaurant?” he said when I looked at two couples being seated across the room.
“Yes,” I said, “when it’s after seven on a Friday night and I’m having dinner in an expensive restaurant with a man while my husband is working.”
“You’re working, too.”
“I wouldn’t call this salmon work,” I said.
“How long have you been married?”
“Twenty-seven years.”

“Impressive,” he said.


Check out Marian's books on AMAZON.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Excerpt from Dark Idol: Book 5 in the Mike Angel series by David Fears

Set in Chicago in 1964 amidst racial divisions, Mike receives anonymously a $10,000 Federal Reserve Note with an unsigned cryptic message it was for unspecified future trouble. Tracking down the sender and the purpose spins into a 40 year old kidnapping case involving four US Army officers in World War One, stolen gold with connections to the French Bonnot gang (the first to use automobiles in bank robberies); and uncovering a Babylonian sex goddess cult in a Chicago suburb. Death stalks Mike and Rick on this case, and also threatens their client. Murder, action, suspense and seduction--the kind of quicksand that is Mike's struggle with commitment to Molly. Reviewers call this "A blend of intelligence, keen observations, complex plot, and wounded soul protagonist." I call it a barrel of fun and a page-turner.

I love to read and write complex mysteries, especially private eye tales where one man stands alone down the gritty streets to fight crime and corruption. I love them also because one doesn't have to be politically correct. Scenes where Mike meets an attractive woman and the seduction temptation/dance begins are particularly challenging to write. I have tried to avoid the old "fade to black" in favor of giving the modern reader more detail of the lovemaking without crossing into pornography. The series may be read stand-alone, though each tale takes place in the 1960s, beginning with the first in the decade and each in a subsequent year. Some have commented that Mike seems to seek the perfect love. Perhaps so, but his calling and age are distractions to settling down. I also love history and put true events, persons and such in each novel.

The Nixon layout was as ritzy as anything I’d seen in Chicago. In fact, from the outside it would have easily passed for a top mansion in any hoity toity neighborhood from the Hamptons to Malibu. This palace made the rest of the street look shabby and put Chicago Heights on the map.

A squat Asian with a towel around his head, wearing shorts and a wife-beater shirt was spading flowerbeds. He reminded me of those villains in the old Charlie Chan flicks. Seemed like every plant lover in Chicago was out digging in dirt, trying to earn heatstroke. I parked in front and strode up the long straight walk, lined with perfectly trimmed miniature boxwoods. The Asian noticed me but didn’t acknowledge, just shifted his black distant eyes from me to the spade like he was ready to swing it at me should I make a false move. A nearby robin working for his lunch also eyed me in much the same way.

I pushed the doorbell and heard a three-note chime echo inside, followed by quick, light footsteps.

The door swung open and there she stood.

Slim, pale blonde, nearly my height and stylish without being brassy. Our eyes met on a straight line, something that can unnerve me but didn’t this time. Harp music would have put the right touch on the scene. I can imagine a good harp and liked this kind.

I took her for mid-twenties. She wore a tailor made cream-colored linen suit with navy and cream polka dotted scarf on her long white neck. She wore no jewelry save for dangling earrings, cages encapsulating silver-blue pearls. Quite expensive. The suit enhanced her curves, none of which dominated the others. But it wasn’t her body that took my breath away—it was her perfect angel face. Maybe that’s what made me think of harps. Appropriately, the sun through windows behind her kissed a glow to the edges of her hair. It might have been a halo. I stared.
Her sly smile said she enjoyed being stared at. The blood rushed to my face, though I hadn’t blushed since Miss Turner’s third grade class when Patricia Tubbs hollered out that my fly was open. My face was just as hot now. Or maybe I was coming down with something.

There are all sorts of blondes nowadays—most of them straight from a bottle—too brassy and too cheap to be passable counterfeit. Even Beasley could identify those without a magnifying glass. So many weak attempts to play Monroe or Mansfield. That sort usually sports very dark eyebrows or roots that shout “fake!” Then there’s the dirty dishwater variety who can’t make up their minds between blonde and brunette, and so they stand pat, like a scared bookkeeper holding a small pair in poker. Then there’s the rarest of the rare—a purely Swedish blonde with a complexion as clear as a tropical lagoon, whose hair is blonde everywhere. My eyes fed on that latter sort of blonde for a few harp riffs, my mind taking pictures. As fantastic as some dreams are, having a $10,000 dollar bill that lead me to this lovely’s doorstep beat any erotic dream I’d ever enjoyed.
This melody’s eyes were a rare color of ultramarine that I’d hate to have to describe—how can you convey the waters of a mountain lake on a clear July afternoon? Renoir would have gone nuts for that shade. All her features were worth staring at, enough to measure every subsequent female face by, even though it would be a futile game.
David is a semi-retired college English composition instructor, who also has published the monumental 4-volume daily chronology of Mark Twain's life: Mark Twain Day By Day. His 8 novels and some 25 published short stories (of 85) may also be found on Amazon. David, a Cubs fan (they never quit), boasts an "editor cat" named Sophie, a calico who likes to rest on his arm while he drafts and claw through the shirt whenever he pens a weak sentence. "She has an aversion to adverbs," he claims. Father of 3 girls he understands drama.

Check out Dave's books on AMAZON and get updates on him and his books on GOODREADS.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Excerpt from Rest for the Wicked by Cate Dean

Rest for the Wicked
By Cate Dean


She's running from her past – and running out of time.

Claire Wiche is an ordinary woman, running her Wicca shop in an ordinary California beach town. But Claire wasn't always ordinary, and she isn't quite human. She hides a secret, and a past she thought she had put behind her.

A past that is about to explode into her present.

When it does, and everyone she loves is in danger, Claire must face up to her past - and become what she left behind in order to save them.


This was one of my favorite scenes to write. I got to create a spell, set the mood, and have it go completely wrong. What fun! Here’s a little background: Annie Sullivan, one of the main characters in The Claire Wiche Chronicles, is doing exactly what she was told by her friend Claire not to do: cast a love spell. As an inexperienced witch, Annie quickly loses control of the spell – with disastrous consequences.


You can do this,” Annie said to herself, her fingers shaking as she pushed her hair back. “You can do this.”
Opening the notebook, she skimmed the love spell she’d composed that morning—and ignored the guilt scratching at her conscience for lying outright to Claire.
She had learned so much more since that first unfortunate—incident. And she had been practicing. Another little detail she failed to mention after Claire’s last lecture on the dangers of using magic when she wasn’t ready.
She adjusted the cloak on her shoulders and checked everything on the makeshift altar. One pink candle, bought at Claire’s competitor—another scratch at her guilt. A small bowl, holding the herbs for her love powder. A bottle of rose oil, also bought at the competitor. A lighter for the candle, and the photo Mildred had given her: a charming man who looked like he was in his late sixties. A bit young for Mildred, but at least they were born in the same part of the century.
She carved his name into the side of the candle with her athame, and set it in the center of the cloth, next to his photo. Mildred’s photo sat on the other side of the candle. Mixing the herbs, she rubbed them on the candle, then anointed it with the oil. She also rubbed both the powder and oil on his photo, then Mildred’s, to create a connection.
Feeling a little silly, she picked up Mildred’s photo, lit the candle, and held the photo up in front of her, Mildred’s face looking down at her intended target.
Taking a deep breath, she started the spell.
As this candle burns, so does your love for me,
As this wax melts, so does your heart for me,
By the power of three times three,
As I will, so mote it be!
After the third time through the table began to shake.
“Uh-oh—” Annie let out a scream as the candle flame shot up and spread across the ceiling. “Oh God!”
She stumbled backward—and fell when she tripped over the stool she’d set behind her just in case. Crawling toward the hall, she tried to call up a counter spell. The fire merely cackled at her and kept coming.
“Where the hell is the extinguisher?” Smoke swirled around her. She coughed, using the velvet of her cloak to keep from breathing in more of it. The same cloak hindered every movement, tangling around her arms, her legs, a living creature bent on stopping her. “Come on—”
She could no longer see through the smoke, her lungs on fire, her eyes blinded by tears. Flattening herself against the floor, she focused on moving. She refused to die here, to let a stupid love spell kill her in the one place she felt safe—
Claire burst through the smoke like an avenging angel.
Grabbing Annie, she dragged her in the opposite direction. Right past the fire extinguisher.
“Stay here.”
Huddled next to the corner of the door, breathing in the small amount of fresh air seeping in through the uneven bottom, Annie watched Claire as she stood up, both arms raised. The smoke seemed to recoil, and when she started to chant under her breath, the fire whirled away from her.
She closed her hands into fists and the fire screamed, fleeing across the ceiling, followed by the smoke. Claire moved with them, hair flying around her as she raised a wind from nothing. That wind whipped her skirt around her legs, then surrounded the smoke, tore it into dark, writhing shreds until it let out a dying gasp and faded. Then she turned on the fire.
The wind disappeared, left only Claire. Small, defenseless, she stood inches from the burning column, trapped in the far corner of the living room. She spoke a single word.
“Leave.” The fire bulged. Annie screamed as the fire swallowed Claire—then cut herself off when the fire wrapped around Claire, like it hit an invisible shield. “You were not summoned. Now leave before I vanquish you.”
The fire screamed at her. And Annie watched, her mouth dropping open, as it folded in on itself until it finally disappeared.
Claire lowered her head, swaying. With a shaky breath, she pushed hair out of her face and headed for Annie.
“Hush. Let me check you out.” Hands brushed over her, one settling at her throat. “How bad?” Annie coughed, her eyes tearing up. “Okay, then. Arm around me; we’ll get you over to the sofa.”
Claire half-dragged her across her small living room, lowered her to the sofa, and disappeared into the kitchen. Blinking through her tears, Annie scanned the living room. It looked like nothing had happened. No smoke damage, no scorch marks. Claire returned with a glass of water, handed it to her. “Drink.”
Annie obeyed. It felt like heaven as it slipped down her throat, soothing every raw inch. It also gave her a chance to stall, to try and sort out the thoughts flying around her mind. She knew Claire was powerful, but seeing it, seeing her in action— Annie wasn’t sure she could ever look at her friend the same again.


Cate Dean has been writing since she could hold a pen in her hand and put more than two words together on paper.  She grew up losing herself in the wilds of fantasy worlds, and has had some of her own adventures while tromping through the UK, and a few other parts of the world. A lover of all things supernatural, she infuses that love into her stories, giving them a unique edge.  When she's not writing, she loves cooking, scaring herself silly in the local cemeteries, and reading pretty much anything she can get her hands on.

You can download Rest for the Wicked for FREE at the following places:  AMAZON or BARNES AND NOBLE or KOBO or iTUNES.

Check out Cate's WEBSITE and her FACEBOOK page, or follow her on TWITTER @catedeanwrites

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Extreme Unction: A Lupa Schwartz Mystery By J. David Core

Extreme Unction: 
A Lupa Schwartz Mystery

By J. David Core


When an autopsy finds traces of the banned insecticide Chlordane in the anointing oil on the corpse of a local big-wig, Pittsburgh police bring Lupa Schwartz, an outspoken non-believer, into an investigation focused on a well-liked local clergyman. Worried that the police are planning to use him as a political fall-guy, Schwartz coerces Cattleya Hoskin, a magazine reporter with a connection to his family’s past, to chronicle his process and squelch any misgiving that his world-view influenced the outcome.

Suspicion in the case is focused on Fr. Coneely, an outspoken euthanasia advocate who had earlier made the mistake of telling the family of the now-dead man that, hypothetically, he could safely apply poison-laden oil to their suffering father during last rites, and nobody need be the wiser. Was Mr. Hanson the willing victim of a mercy killing, or was a lapsing insurance policy the real motive for one of Hanson’s five children to taint the oil?


The following passage was a challenge because I had to write in two distinct voices simultaneously. The narrator of my novel, Extreme Unction, is Cat Hoskin. She had invited Clement Foyer to attend and review a concert featuring the blues band her current love-interest (a Pittsburgh police detective in the homicide division) plays horn for, and the metal band his son fronts. The next day, she nervously avoids reading the review, until she can put it off no longer.


Finally, my resolve set in, and I began reading Foyer's review. It began respectfully enough.

Saturday night in Oakland is never dull, and this past Saturday was not the exception to prove the rule. I attended a unique show at the Century Club at the invitation of a fellow journalist.

"Okay," I thought, "this was readable." So I continued.

She assured me that any misgivings I might have had about the theme of the show, sort of a father/son night at the frat house, would be thrown off the minute the first of the two bands began to play. She wasn't far from wrong.
The band that opened the show is called Humpback and the Blues Whailers, and they're made up of some of Pittsburgh's finest, and yes, they are a blues band. I have to tell you that for a bunch of old boys-in-blue playing a bunch of good-ol'-boy blues, they're pretty darned good. Now I know what you're thinking. Foyer — you're thinking — you're making this review extra lenient in lieu of making a contribution to the Policeman's Benevolent Fund this year. To this I say read on.
The band began their program by mocking the very kinds of bands they claim to admire with a Blues Brothers’ opening complete with synchronized horn section choreography and synthesized organ chords. As nostalgia, there's nothing wrong with that in itself, but an audience has to be able to hearken back farther than last month in order to appreciate what they're being asked to hearken to.

About this time, I was wondering if I'd maybe missed something in the business section that I could turn to rather than continue. But, never let it be said that a Hoskin couldn't take the heat. I forged on.

The audience of gen-X metal fans — who had really come to hear the main attraction, FdP — sat in stunned silence as Humpback drove their father's Oldsmobiles through a number of ol'-timey saws that might as well have included "King of The Road" and "Sweet Adeline" for all of the recognition it sparked. Then the magic happened. Inspiration had come to some one of the show's architects in the form of a cross-over number, with FdP's excellent guitarist, Mack "Daddy" Dinini sitting in on one of the blues tunes.

For two paragraphs, Foyer told the saga of the dim lights and the searching spotlight that had finally revealed Dinini standing in the wings. Two more paragraphs were expended relaying the tale of the following number, and singing the praises of Jason's voice. Little mention was made of Jimmy's virtuoso performance, and absolutely no mention was made of Penelope's capably crafted vocalizations. I felt terrible.
The remainder of the review was glowing in its portrayal of FdP and their "mercurial" and "potent carnival of a concert." There was absolutely no more mention of the Blues Whailers or the cheers they'd gotten from the supposedly un-hearkening gen-Xers. Maybe if I'd been reading objectively, I could have appreciated his use of language, but I didn't want to be objective. I wanted to cry


With a profound interest in religion, liberal politics and humor, Dave began writing in High School and has not given up on it since. His first professional writing jobs came while attending the Art Institute of Pittsburgh when he was hired to create political cartoons for the Pitt News & to write humor pieces for Smile Magazine. Dave has worked in the newspaper industry as a photographer, in the online publishing industry as a weekly contributor to, and was a contributing writer to the Buzz On series of informational books and to the Western online anthology, Elbow Creek. Dave’s science fiction novel, Synthetic Blood and Mixed Emotions, is available from Dave currently resides in his childhood home in Toronto, OH with his beautiful girlfriend and his teenage daughter. He enjoys participating in local community events & visiting with his two adult children and his grandson.

Book two in the series, Common Sense, is coming in February. For more on Dave’s books, visit his SITE, or get updates from his FACEBOOK page, and check out Dave's books on AMAZON.  You can also follow him on Twitter @gamutman

Monday, January 27, 2014

Excerpt from: The Invisible Hands - Part 3: Pawn Storm by Andrew Ashling

The Invisible Hands 
Part 3: Pawn Storm 
By Andrew Ashling


Thenoclon's father bought Lexyntas to be his personal slave for his birthday. During the last months Thenoclon and Lexyntas have grown to respect and like each other, and maybe more than that. Lexyntas, inexperienced, and somewhat naive and prudish, needed some time to get used to the idea that he could more than just like another guy.
Finally he has managed to convince himself that loving Thenoclon would not be so bad after all. But things are not going as smoothly as they could.


Thenoclon and Lexyntas were meant as minor characters whose story intermingles with the main action. As happens so often in my books their part grew, and now I'm quite fond of them. I'm happy to say, so are the readers of this long, long epic series.


Lexyntas sat, waiting with the other slaves, before the building next to the training grounds. Chryntyum was there as well, waiting for Navastas, but he seemed not interested in his usual teasing games. In fact, he seemed nervous.
The young Naodyman nobles were getting their marching orders today. They would be given their official rank, if any, and told when and where to report for active duty.
Thenoclon was one of the first to come outside. Lexyntas, like most slaves, stood up and wiped the sand off his too short tunic. They had to keep up appearances in public, and Lexyntas dutifully bowed his head as Thenoclon passed and gave him a short, “Come.”
Once they were a few miles outside the city walls of Naodyma and they were reasonably sure of not being observed, they started walking next to each other.
“That went well,” Thenoclon said. “I’ve got a top rank for a junior. I’m an officer. A captain.”
“Congratulations. You’ve earned it.”
Thenoclon was in high spirits.
“I couldn’t have done it without you. I’ll have my own company of fifty men, and, better still, I’ll have my own tent.”
“Ah,” was all Lexyntas said.
“You don’t seem pleased,” Thenoclon said, surprised. “It means I can take you with me, since officers are allowed to have a servant to look after their things. You’ll be safe. Far safer than at home without me.”
“Yes, good,” Lexyntas replied as lackluster as the first time.
This time Thenoclon halted in his tracks.
“Right. What’s the matter with you? You should be overjoyed, not so much for my sake as for your own.”
“I know…”
“Then why aren’t you? Whatever is bothering you: out with it.”
Lexyntas hesitated. Eventually he decided he just wanted to know.
“The sleeping arrangements—”
“The sleeping arrangements? Just like at home, I suppose. You’ll have your own straw sack to sleep upon, but the tent is rather small, so I think we’ll have to put them next to each other.”
“That’s not what I mean,” Lexyntas blurted out, irritated. “Will it really be just like at home? Us two? Naked? Lying within inches of each other?”
“I suppose so. What of it?”
“And nothing happening?” Lexyntas shouted, indignant now. “Us lying there, and you turning on your side? And me—”
He abruptly stopped speaking.
“And you?” Thenoclon asked.
“And me not turning on my side.” It came out in a soft, sulking tone.
“Aha,” the young Naodyman said, raising his eyebrows. “Is that why you took off your loincloth these last weeks? In hopes of something happening?”
“You make it sound vulgar,” Lexyntas protested meekly. “I… I thought it was what you wanted.”
“Well, you were wrong. It isn’t.”
Lexyntas’s mouth fell open. He gasped for air a few times before he could speak.
“It is not what you want?” he erupted. “How can it not be what you want? You said you liked me. You even said you liked what you saw at… at that ghastly episode with… with those two.”
“All the same, it is not what I want.”
Lexyntas threw both his arms in the air in a gesture of exasperation and let them fall beside his body again.
“I don’t just like you, Lexyntas,” Thenoclon explained as to a slow student. “I love you. I thought I made that clear. At first I thought you were just a nice-looking asset. Then I grudgingly began to appreciate you. I started to respect you. Later still I grew to like you. I thought I wanted you as a friend, until it finally dawned on me that I was in love with you. Head over heels in love. You see now?”
“No, I don’t.” Lexyntas was shouting now. “What’s your problem? I’m lying there, right there, next to you, each and every night, with barely five inches between us. Naked. Buck naked. What’s keeping you?”
“I’m not the problem. I’m not sure it’s what you really want.”
Lexyntas thought he was going to explode.
“Why do you think I… why would… how can… Oh, by all the Gods and Goddesses, you’re making this difficult. How can you think it is not what I want?”
“Ah, well, you’re a very handsome guy, and you know it. Don’t even try to deny it. You’re also a very nice guy, Lexyntas. Maybe you think, ‘Why not give poor Thenoclon what he so obviously wants? It’s little enough in exchange for what he does for me.’ You could be just grateful. Or maybe you changed your mind and you now think the time has come to experiment.”
“Yes. Nothing wrong with it in principle. It’s just not what I want.”
“Then what is it you do want, Thenoclon?” Lexyntas cried out, almost desperate.
“I love you, Lexyntas, and I won’t have that cheapened by gratuitous sex. Or by gratitude-sex. I want to be loved in return or it simply isn’t worth the grief.”
“The grief? How… What? The grief?”
“Yes, the grief. The grief of knowing what it could be if you truly loved me and yet to have to make do with a pale substitute.”
Lexyntas took another deep breath.
“And what if I were to say that I… that I love you too?”
“That could be the gratitude speaking. Now that you know I love you. Now that you know I want you to love me back. Maybe you just don’t want to disappoint me.”
Lexyntas reeled.
“But… but, in that case, there is no way I can win. Whatever I say or do, you’ll always think it is not real.”
“Unless what, Thenoclon? Be clear for once. Spell it out, please. Unless what?”
“You could woo me.”
“Woo you?”
Lexyntas wasn’t sure he could trust his ears anymore.
“Yes, woo me. And make it convincing,” Thenoclon said as if it was the most reasonable proposal in the world. “I want you to make love to me, Lexyntas, but first I need to know that you love me as much as I love you. For myself. For me. For no other reason. I would really have to be convinced of that.”
“And what, pray, would convince you?” Lexyntas asked in a resigned tone.
“You could beg me to make love to you,“ Thenoclon said, his face serious. “If you were to beg me, that would probably convince me.”
“Beg you?” Lexyntas asked, stupefied and by now too tired to shout.
“Yes, tell me how much you want my arms around you. How — and where — you want me to touch you, caress you. Be specific. Tell me how you want me to cover you all over in kisses. Tell me how much you need me to make love to you. Again, be specific. Tell me how you get excited, just thinking about me. How you almost can’t control yourself and are tempted to help yourself. Then beg me to deliver you from your misery.”
“Beg you?”
“Beg me.” Thenoclon nodded.
Lexyntas was speechless. He managed only to utter some senseless noises, coming from deep in his throat.
“It’s absolutely your choice, of course. Your silence will be as good an answer as anything else.”
They had come to the foot of Traitors’ Hill.
“Take your time. For the moment we have other things to discuss. Come, I’ll race you to the top.”
With that the young Naodyman bolted away.
Lexyntas ran after him but found it difficult to keep up and impossible to overtake him.


I started writing a few years ago.  My current project is a long series, called Dark Tales of Randamor the Recluse.  I actually don’t know how to classify these books myself.  There is definitely a lot of gay action of the explicit kind, though I doubt porn-lovers will be thrilled. There is M/M-Romance, but a lot grittier than you would expect. There is domination, but the books are definitely not BDSM novels. They might appear to be slightly Yaoi, but the uke doesn’t behave as he should and neither does the seme. They are definitely Fantasy, yet there is no magic, there are no wizards, and the only dragon is a heraldic one.  I’m afraid I’ve not respected the tropes of the genre(s). I turned some of them upside down and generally made a mess of them. Besides that, there is also a lot of political intrigue, questions about right and wrong, and warfare. I’ve tried to keep these themes interesting, but as always, YMMV.  For want of a better fitting description I like to call this quagmire of stories Epic Fantasy Gay Romance.  
For more info check out Andrew's WEBSITE

Check out his books on AMAZON
Follow him on Twitter @AndrewAshling

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Excerpt from Peccadillo by Martyn V. Halm


By Martyn V. Halm

The Amsterdam Assassin Series revolves around freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter Katla Sieltjes. Under the name Loki Enterprises, Katla specialises in disguising homicide and providing
permanent solutions for both individuals and corporations.

Peccadillo is the second novel in the Amsterdam Assassin Series. With authentic details and fast-paced action, featuring an uncompromising heroine and a supporting cast of unusual characters, Peccadillo gives a rare glimpse in the local Dutch culture, information on the famous Dutch capital, the Chinese Triads, computer hacking, sniping, clairvoyance, circumventing car alarms, martial arts, and the brutal effectiveness of disciplined violence.


This is a scene about one of the antagonists visiting a clairvoyant, who gives him an ominous message. The scene came to me as a whole without any effort, I still don't know much more about the woman in the scene, but she strikes a chord with many readers.

The young woman would’ve been lovely if seen from the side. The left side, so the scar tissue covering the right side of her face remained invisible. Burn marks ran down her jaw to her throat and disappeared in the collar of her shimmering black turtleneck. Nicky watched her slender hands on top of Lau’s hands resting flat on the kitchen table, her right hand a withered claw from ligaments shortened by the heat of the same fire that disfigured her features.

Lau believed the goddess of fire and light had marked the young woman before handing her psychic powers. Nicky believed the young woman’s ‘clairvoyance’ was strictly limited to her own future. Her hideously deformed face limited her options. Most occupations demanded, if not beauty, at least a pleasing countenance, while as a psychic the horrific scarring gave her a twisted credibility.

After a few minutes of silent meditation the young woman shuddered, drew away from Lau and folded her arms across her chest, hunched over as if protecting her body. Despite the warmth of the kitchen she seemed to be shivering. She slowly raised her head, eyes closed.

Lau rubbed his hands and gazed at her expectantly.

“You challenged the dark,” she intoned solemnly, her eyes still closed. “And the dark accepts. The man in the mist is the first to fall. The dark will take his voice and his shield. Out of the shadows, aided by the blind, guided by signals from debris and spoils of the dead, the dark will circle ever closer, sealing all venues of escape. Surrounded by the dead and the dying, killer bees will fly by harmlessly, but a cold whisper will silence your voice and fill your ears with the sound of leaving.”

Leaning back in her seat she opened her eyes. Sadness filled her left eye, but the right held no emotion whatsoever, as customary with glass eyes.

“Leaving?” Lau asked. “I’m going to die?”

“Leaving this life, yes.”

“Bummer,” Nicky murmured. Lau looked around sharply, then turned back to the young woman and asked, “Can I change my fate?”

“Your life evolved to this point in time. The future I see is connected to your life in the present. Cause and effect. Change your life, change your future.”

“I could do that.”

The eyebrow over her left eye rose slightly. “Could you?”

“I can change.”

“You’d have to sever all links with your current life.”


She nodded. “Death is not thwarted easily.”

“That’s impossible. I can’t abandon everything just like that.”

“It would be difficult, but not impossible. The premonition is strong. Too many factors influence your fate.”

Lau rose and looked down at her. “How much time have I got?”

“Until the next new moon.”

He took out his money clip and peeled a couple of notes to put them in the bowl to his right, but she raised her good hand and said, “I do not receive payment for bad predictions.”

“You don’t want to get paid?”

“If you manage to change your life and live beyond the new moon, you can pay me. And if you can’t…” 

She closed her eyes. “May the next world be kinder to you than this one.”

Lau’s hand shook as he put the money clip back in his pocket. Nicky stepped aside and opened the door. Lau turned in the opening and said, “Good-bye.”

“Farewell,” she replied without opening her eyes.

Lau stepped out into the hallway and Nicky followed, closing the door behind him. They let themselves out of the apartment, not looking into the living room where other people were waiting to hear their fate.


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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Excerpt from Tomorrow Blossoms by Joyce DeBacco

Tomorrow Blossoms 
By Joyce DeBacco


When Kate’s husband, Ward, locates the son she put up for adoption as an unwed teen, she’s understandably wary. What if he looks like his father instead of Ward?
The boy, now a man, is also wary. Who are these people who suddenly want him to be a part of their lives? Where were they when he was growing up, when he needed to feel a part of something bigger? After meeting each other, everyone’s fears dissipate. And though it isn’t the joyous occasion Ward envisioned, it isn’t the disaster Kate feared either.
 Then Ward passes away unexpectedly. Although devastated, Kate is thankful he never knew the truth. Facing the rest of her life alone, she returns to work in the company he founded. She’s still coming to grips with life as a single when she learns her son was adopted into the family of Jesse, the boy who turned her away as a pregnant teen. Now, she must deal with her feelings of anger and betrayal while also keeping her son and daughters from learning the truth.


I like the following passage because it hints at the characters' still strong feelings after so many years. It also hints at a future for them somewhere down the road. Although we feel Kate's anger and frustration, we also feel Jesse's regret for the actions of his teenage self.


He looked up from his weeding, spotted her, then rose in one agile motion. No groan, no hunched posture, his back as straight as a boy’s. It bothered Kate that she would notice.
“Sorry to disturb your gardening,” she said in a cool voice. “I didn’t know you were out here.”
He brushed the soil from his hands. “I try to stay on top of things when I have the chance. Marti likes to can and freeze, so I do my best to keep her happy.”
“Oh, by all means. Do keep Marti happy.”
He cocked his head, as if wondering whether to respond to her flip remark. He chose to ignore it. “So what did you two talk about in there?”
She harrumphed. “As if you didn’t know.”
His lips pulled into a frown. “I can guess.”
“Can you?”
“Look, Kate, if you have a problem being here, why did you come?” His voice took on an edge of its own.
“You know very well I couldn’t refuse.”
“Well, you’re here now, and you obviously have something to say, so get it out of your system.”
Kate fought an overwhelming desire to flee. She didn’t like confrontations but, dammit, she did have something to say. And this time she wouldn’t run off in tears. This time she would tell him exactly what she thought of him and his baby-stealing sister.
“You’re right,” she said, squaring her shoulders. “I didn’t come outside to admire your gardening talents. I came out because I’d had enough of your sister’s sob story. I’m not about to forgive and forget, live and let live, and all that crap. You had your fun, then you went on your merry way while I spent the summer carrying a child I didn’t even have the privilege of raising. Oh, no. That honor belonged to you and your family.”
“I made a bad choice, Kate. I’m not proud of it. What more can I say?”
A gust of wind caught Kate’s skirt, billowing it around her knees. But like the green things rooted in the soil nearby, all she could do was shiver and sway.
“It’s still a bit chilly out, Kate. Why don’t you go inside now?”
Trembling, Kate stood fast. “She said you didn’t know. Is that true?”
“You never suspected anything, anywhere along the line?”
“How could you not know? He’s got your hair, your eyes.”
“He was only a baby when they brought him home, Kate. To a guy, all babies look alike. Hey, it happened; I’m sorry. Now can we get past it and go on with our lives?”


After reading women’s fiction for many years, Joyce knew she wanted to create stories of her own. As the mother of four grown daughters, she’s familiar with the problems women face finding love, raising children, and stepping back when necessary. Her books place an emphasis on love and family dynamics with a touching love story threaded through each. She is happiest when she’s secluded in her office creating new worlds and people to populate them. When she’s not taxing her brain with plot, structure, and grammar, she likes to sew, particularly quilts. When she really wants to rest her brain, she sprawls out in front of the TV and tries not to fall asleep. Please visit her website, for information about all her books.

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