Working on The Guardian, Book Two of the Punishers

It’s been almost a year since my father passed away. He had a wonderful imagination. As a child, I would sit rapt as he told stories of jungle adventures where a combined Indiana Jones/Tarzan hero climbed mountains, escaped quicksand and crocodile infested waters, or others who fought dragons, dinosaurs, and assorted monsters. He was also quite willing to tell ghost stories, too.

In 2019, before the fall that led to his untimely passing, Dad and I had discussed a different kind of book series. He loved all of my suspense novels, On His Watch, and the Harvester Files his favorites, but he also had a keen interest in the paranormal. Given the number of such series taking the television world by storm, I decided I should try my hand at writing something like that. I’d just fleshed out the idea when he fell.

While he was lucid, which happened less and less given the pain he was in, we began fleshing out a novel, tossing out ideas, trying to figure out how to connect them and make them work. There were so many novels out there in this genre, how could I create something unique?

As I always did, I brainstormed and researched. My grandchildren were great fans of the Marvel universe heroes, and I knew the Norse mythology was as full of colorful characters as the Greek one, but I wanted the main character of the first book in the series to be a kick-ass shapeshifter, but not your run-of-the-mill werewolf. As I delved into different mythologies, I found what I wanted.

Rakshasa are the shapeshifter vampires found in some of the Eastern religions. Considered evil creatures, just as werewolves and vampires used to be, I thought I could spin her into a creature of the light and make her a defender of the righteous, a punisher of those who pursue evil.  Since I love Norse mythology, I sought my source of evil there, and while I was at it, I found the perfect hero for my heroine. Thus was born the Punishers series, with The Tigress as the first book.

The Tigress_ebook cover

Melinda De Ross outdid herself on this cover and Dad would’ve loved it.

Here is the book blurb:

Paranormal Detective Ellie Taggart, a rakshasa capable of assuming the shape of a tigress, has always worked alone, searching for those responsible for her mother’s murder. When an investigation results in the death of a close friend and vampire, she’s forced to partner with handsome and mysterious peredhil, Steve Cassidy.
Like her, the half-human, half-elf uses his special talents to fight evil wherever it exists. Rogue vampires, shapeshifters, zombies, practitioners of black magic, poltergeists, ghosts—none of them can beat him. That is until someone or something no longer plays by the rules. There’s a new villain in New Orleans, one who threatens both the humans and non-humans who make the city home.
Is the enemy Draug, the wizard who murdered Ellie’s mother centuries ago? Is it someone from Steve’s shrouded past intent on revenge? Or are they facing a new enemy with an agenda all his or her own? As the tigress and her partner search for answers, trying to prevent the bodies from piling up, they have to manage conflicting emotions and desires that threaten to overwhelm them. Can two such different creatures of the light join forces to defeat the darkness, or will the powers of evil triumph?

The Tigress was released on October 30, 2019 as an e-book, free to read on KU. You can pre-order your copy today from all Amazon outlets. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z5F4VNZ.

Now, I’m hard at work on Book Two of the Punishers, The Guardian.

Ellie and Steve thwarted the enemy last time, but the cost was high. Now, barely recovered from the encounter, they and the rest of The Punishers face a new enemy.

Eight coeds from Tulane University have gone missing. The sorority sisters were out on a day cruise, but the boat was found adrift with nothing on it but heads of the captain and two crewmen. Where are the others?

Normally, a case like this would belong to one New Orleans’s regular police units, but when the list of missing includes five humans, a vampire, a shapeshifter, and a Dark half-elf entrusted to his protection, it becomes a job for the Punishers. Is someone trying to settle a score with Steve, or do they have something even more devious in mind–something that could ruin any chance at happiness for the Peredhil and his Tigress?

Where are the girls? It’s up to the Guardian to find out before this leads to a war that may well destroy Earth along with one of the Nine Realms.

What for The Guardian’s cover soon.

Do You Like Change?

This was me in the spring of 1970. The man with me is John. I was in my first year of university; he was in his third. He was then and still is the most important person on my life.

This is us now, although I’ve cut my hair. All things considered, life has been good to us. We have three wonderful children, five grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren. While we aren’t in perfect health, we’re still alive and kicking. We own our home, drive nice if not new cars, and work fulltime, both from home.

COVID 19 has been a huge change for us. We weren’t able to travel last summer the way we had in the past, and there will be no winter getaway this coming winter. We’ll find something to do, some way to fill the hours, but I will miss my tropical vacation.

Another change I despise is the one that cost me the beautiful website I’d built. https://mhsusannematthews.wordpress.com/ 26, 736 people visited the site over the years. It’s still there, but I can’t access it to post new things. Why? Because I can’t prove to WordPress’s satisfaction that the blog is mine. I didn’t purchase anything, and whatever credentials I had when I set it up have long since vanished. Privacy concerns are one thing, but when they destroy something you so lovingly built, they are a pain!

So now I have a new blog site with very few followers. I’m hoping to increase the numbers, bit by bit, but now I have to get used to a new format, a new design, and I hate it. Do you see that little down notch in the banner? If you click on it, you can see my books. Not as lovely as the other was.

Another thing that has changed is the Facebook platform. It’s much harder to navigate and it’s incredibly difficult with groups.

Finally, my last change recently is a positive one–a new laptop, necessitated by an “Operating system missing ” message one morning. Repeated shut downs, reboots, followed by an incredible amount of cursing somehow fixed it, but I haven’t shut it down since. The laptop is great–a Cadillac HP with a Core i5 processor. I’ve even managed to install everything I want on it, but I do like my desktop.

So, I return to the question from earlier. Do you like change? There are times when I’m just not a fan!

Ronnie, the heroine in my newest release, What Dottie Wants isn’t a fan of change either, but she has to embrace it this Christmas. Pick up your copy of Dear Santa : A Christmas Wish to find out why. The box set filled with 18 incredible Christmas novella’s is available now for only 99 cents. Get yours today.

Universal link with all vendors https://books2read.com/DearSanta 

Individual links:

 Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk / Amazon.au / B&N / Apple / Kobo /

Get Your Christmas Wish Early This Year & Make My Wish Come True!

What Would Be Your Christmas Wish?

Christmas is a magical time of the year. Despite COVID 19, or maybe because of it, we need a heavy dose of that magic this year!

2020 has been filled with pitfalls. We’ve had the virus to end all things, vicious racial riots, horrific fires destroying thousands of acres, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, both inland and along the coasts, explosions, infestations of insects, dangerous seeds, have I missed anything? If anyone needs a break, it’s we human beings.

So, with three quarters of the dismal year behind us, we need to look to the future. Dear Santa, is a compilation of 18 brand new stories from USA Today and NY times bestselling authors. There stories, all between 20-25K words, are meant to lift your spirits and restore your faith in humanity.

Each book is based on a specific Christmas Wish and is dedicated to one of the Author’s Billboards’ loyal readers. Have a look at these!

The Authors’ Billboard’s 2020 fabulous Christmas Box Collection, DEAR SANTA, is filled with 18 brand new stories about characters who have special wishes to ask the big guy during this season.

Most of us have had experiences when something we’ve desperately wanted is so close that Santa seems the perfect person to ask for the miracle.

When one believes, it’s amazing the conflicts that are overcome and the surprises that can follow.

You’ll be amazed by each of these fantastic holiday books full of Christmas cheer and thrilling romance we’ve written for your entertainment.

So how can you get a copy of these wonderful books? You can pre-order your copy today for only 99 cents USD from all major e-book vendors.

Here is the universal link for Dear Santa. https://books2read.com/DearSanta

Order yours today and make my Christmas wish–a shot at the elusive USA Today, NY Times bestseller list a reality!

Universal link with all vendors https://books2read.com/DearSanta 

Individual links:

 Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / Amazon.uk / Amazon.au / B&N / Apple / Kobo /

Tuesday Tales: From the Word WIN

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. It’s been a little chilly up here, but the weatherman promises warmer temperatures are on the way. This week’sword prompt is WIN. I continue with The White Dahlia.

Calls to Brownsville, New York City’s deadliest neighborhood, never boded well. Within less than a square mile rose more than one hundred publicly owned apartment buildings, almost nine hundred stories of misery. Good people might live there, but the violence never ended. It was the original no-win scenario. Gangs, dealers, and assorted scumbags were never far away. If someone wanted to disappear, it was as good a place as any, but others would stick out like sore thumbs. Since Al had been called here at this ungodly hour, the sergeant not giving him any details, the odds were one of his missing persons wouldn’t be making it home for the Columbus Day weekend.

When he’d left St. Louis almost three and a half years ago, he’d hoped he would leave behind the jaded homicide detective he’d become, but that hadn’t been the case. Too many of the missing people he sought ended up dead, murdered at the hands of pimps, johns, and anyone else who had a grudge—and then there were others, like Sylvia, who’d vanished four years ago, leaving no clues behind as to what had happened to them.

Finding his ex-wife had been the reason he’d left his hometown—not that the promotion and higher salary hadn’t been an incentive—but until he discovered what had happened to her, he would never rest. So far, he hadn’t found any answers, not because the men working the case had been lax in any way, but simply because there was nothing to find. One day, she’d been at work, three weeks later, she was reported missing. He’d come to New York to help in the search, but in the end, they’d found nothing. Now, perverse creature that he’d become, he prayed he wouldn’t find anything tonight. Al pulled his gray sedan to the curb and turned off the engine. It was almost five, still dark out, but soon the sun’s glow would brighten the Eastern horizon. Already the humidity had the air feeling well over eighty. The weather station had issued another heat advisory. The temperature could climb above one hundred and four again today. Not good news for the people living here, many of them without so much as a fan to cool down. He liked the warm weather as much as the next guy, but enough was enough.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word SKINNY

Welcome to the mid-September edition of Tuesday tales, the weekly blog where a small group of authors share their works in progress with you. Each week, we write to a word or picture prompt. This week, the word is SKINNY. All posts are limited to 400 words.

I’m continuing with my romantic thriller, The White Dahlia, Book 4 of The Harvester Files.

Warning: There will be graphic scenes in posts from this book.

“Whoa!” Beth’s eyes watered. If she worked too many of these cases, it would be a cinch getting into those skinny-assed jeans of hers. Who could eat after smelling this?

The last time she’d smelled something this bad had been in Boston, but the cloying scent of lilies had masked some of it. Why hadn’t someone noticed the stench earlier? Nearing the body, she pinched her nose.

“Whoa!” Beth’s eyes watered. If she worked too many of these cases, it would be a cinch getting into those skinny-assed jeans of hers. Who could eat after smelling this?

The last time she’d smelled something this bad had been in Boston, but the cloying scent of lilies had masked some of it. Why hadn’t someone noticed the stench earlier? Nearing the body, she pinched her nose.

The corpse lay on its side on a metal dolly. So, not a child’s toy as she’d assumed but a means of moving the cadaver. Most likely this was a murder, and Riley had been right to requests someone from Homicide. The dolly implied a body dump. Someone had been interrupted and had taken off leaving everything behind. With a little luck, he or she had left fingerprints and DNA as well.

“Wow! She’s more than a little ripe. Sorry you got dragged out of bed at this unholy hour. What have we got?” The pinched nose didn’t help with the scent, but gave her voice a nasal quality.

“Not a winner, that’s for sure.” The young doctor shook her head. “All bad. The last time I saw anything like this was the first case I worked with Amos Flynn and even then … This is definitely one for the books. God, I hope it’ll be the only one.” The coroner shook her head, her lips pursed tightly.

Beth looked down at the naked corpse on her side, the flaccid, marbled skin, showing signs of slippage. There was an unusual tattoo on her left shoulder, harder to make out given the poor lighting and the body’s color. She raised her mini-flashlight and shone the LED light across the victims’ shoulder. The tattoo was distinctive. Was that a name under it?

“I’ve seen that tat before,” she mumbled. “Yes!” The pieces fell into place. “She was in the missing persons’ report I looked through earlier tonight.”

The poor girl must’ve gotten involved in the sex trade and pissed off her pimp. Why did so many of them end up dead before anyone could rescue them?

She squinted. “Is that a brand on her ass? It looks like a horseshoe.”

Mitch bent and examined it more closely.

“It’s not a tattoo … Could be a brand … Some pimps stamp their whores. There’s a number under it. Looks like a four.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

New Release! The Blue Dragon Is Available!

I haven’t written many books this year, not that I haven’t wanted to, but life got in the way! It’s been almost a year since my father died, and six months since my mother had to be placed in a long-term care facility, her physical health and dementia making it necessary for her to have 24 hour care. And then, there’s COVID 19, screwing up all of our lives.

In March, as my world seemed to be imploding around me, I finished my historical romance, Twist of Fate, and released it, and then began a new book. Because I couldn’t imagine meeting someone during the pandemic, I set the book back in 2006. Not that long ago, but definitely better times than today.

It’s a fact that what i write depends on my mood, and at that point in time, I felt as if my world was crumbling. To that end, so did my heroine. Here is the premise of the story. We had to sell the house and that meant going in each day with my sister and packing up 70 years of marriage and family, not an easy thing to do. I coped by creating a story around it.

The Blue Dragon is a modern historical romance, based in 2006.
True love never dies.
Gravely wounded in Afghanistan, Samantha Collins returns to Canada to discover a previously unknown relative has died and made her heir to the family estate. The bequest consists of a century-old farmhouse and an orange tabby. Alone, having given up on love, marriage, and children, facing a grim future, Sam opts to move into the house until she decides what to do with it. When she opens the door, she gets more than she bargained for. Nobody mentioned Great-aunt Esther was a hoarder.


Following his divorce, Phil Austin returns to South Creek. An architect who prefers restoring old buildings to designing new ones, he’s intrigued to learn one of the area’s century-old houses may be sold. Picturing the house converted to an inn, when Phil knocks on the door, he gets more than he expected. The new owner is the woman he loved and lost fifteen years ago.
Stunned to find the only man she ever loved on her doorstep, Sam is carried away by his ideas for the house. Torn between hope and despair, she agrees to his business proposal. As they renew their friendship and they sift through the trash and treasures Esther Cohen left behind, can they find the courage to open their hearts to one another again?

So, I went from sad and despondent to optimistic, knowing that in the end, love is all that really matters.

The ebook version of The Blue Dragon goes live on September 15th. The paperback will be released on September 29th, Mom’s 93rd birthday!

Order your copy now. The Blue Dragon will also be available in Kindle Unlimited.

Tuesday Tales: From a Picture

NEW TT BADGE

Well, we’ve made it through eight months of this difficult year. The last summer long weekend is behind us and the kids are heading back to school, either in person or online. God alone knows what the fall will bring.

Welcome to this week’s Tuesday Tales. This is picture prompt week and all scenes are limited to 300 words. I’m continuing with The White Dahlia, Book four of the Harvester Files. Here’s the picture I used.

Police tape

“I’m not imagining this, Sergeant. It’s as if some wild animal went after her,” Riley continued defending his words.

Beth frowned and shook her head. “Whatever you do, don’t repeat that to anyone else, understood? We have enough crazies in the area, and the damn press can sniff out weird stories. Whatever this is, we don’t want it to make the morning news. Right now, until we know any different, this is simply a body found by a dumpster. It may not even be a crime scene. People die of natural causes every day, even those living on the street, and in this heat, malnutrition and dehydration can be killers. The coroner will tell us what you found; until then, it’s useless to speculate.”

“But, Sarge, she’s naked, and her face and body, the color…”

Beth clenched her fists. “Riley, there’s a dumpster back there. It’s hot out. Someone could’ve stolen her clothes, although a naked body could be a case for Special Victims. If the body’s been there a while—and given the fact you can smell if from here—it has, it’ll attract animals. I saw a hoarder’s body after her cats got through with it.” She shook her head. “Not a pretty sight. I’d better get down there. And don’t worry about getting sick. You aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last. Some things are harder on the stomach than others. Get your partner and tape off this section of the street. Try to push the ‘concerned citizens’ to the other side of the road. I’ll let you know what’s what after I have a look at the body and talk to the M E.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Riley signaled to Chou, indicating he needed tape, and Beth left them to it.

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

The Blue Dragon Is Available for Pre-order.

COVID 19 has changed all of our lives. When I set out to write a book about good fortune and finding treasure, I opted NOT to set it in 2020, but went back a few years to more “normal” times.

Blue Dragon

The Blue Dragon is what I’ve opted to call a modern historical romance which takes place in 2006. It’s a second chance at love romance between an insecure mixed race (Creole and white), mixed religion (Jewish and Roman Catholic) young woman and a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant young man. When they met at university, they fell in love, but each wanted something different out of life, and they went their separate ways–him into a career in the NFL, her into the Canadian Armed Forces as a nurse. Fifteen years later, both dream careers in shambles, they meet again, reunited by a lonely old woman’s bequest. Can they set aside their fears and make the relationship work this time?

Here’s the blurb:

True love never dies.

Gravely wounded in Afghanistan, Samantha Collins returns to Canada to discover a previously unknown relative has died and made her heir to the family estate. The bequest consists of a century-old farmhouse and an orange tabby. Alone, having given up on love, marriage, and children, facing a grim future, Sam opts to move into the house until she decides what to do with it. When she opens the door, she gets more than she bargained for. Nobody mentioned Great-aunt Esther was a hoarder.

Following his divorce, Phil Austin returns to South Creek. An architect who prefers restoring old buildings to designing new ones, he’s intrigued to learn one of the area’s century-old houses may be sold. Picturing the house converted to an inn, when Phil knocks on the door, he gets more than he expected. The new owner is the woman he loved and lost fifteen years ago.

Stunned to find the only man she ever loved on her doorstep, Sam is carried away by his ideas for the house. Torn between hope and despair, she agrees to his business proposal. As they renew their friendship and they sift through the trash and treasures Esther Cohen left behind, can they find the courage to open their hearts to one another again?

For those of you who followed my blog, I posted several scenes from the book last spring.

You can pick up a copy of The Blue Dragon for only 99 cents USD from September 1 to September 15, 2020.

Tuesday Tales: From the Word LONELY

NEW TT BADGE

Still struggling to try and recover my original WordPress account, but it seems it may be impossible to do. Welcome to September’s first Tuesday Tales, a weekly blog where a select group of authors share their works in process with you. This week, our writing prompt is LONELY. I continue with the fourth book in The Harvester Files, The White Dahlia

The White DahliaGiven the time of night—or day—traffic was light. Beth reached her destination within ten minutes. A dozen people stood within a few yards of a sanitation truck up on the sidewalk, blocking the alley. Why were they even here? It was true that New York was billed as the city that never slept, but seriously, these ghouls should be in bed.

She shuddered. Hadn’t it been the same in Boston? The possibility of a fresh kill always drew the wraiths and vultures, people who got off on the misery of others, lonely souls who relished someone else’s worst luck. This person might’ve been murdered, but whether they had or not, they deserved some sympathy and respect.

Someone had to move that truck for the medical examiner’s van to get by—assuming the truck hadn’t hit someone dumpster diving for a late night snack.

After flashing her badge at the uniformed officer and the sanitation men standing with him, she scowled. They were pale, but given the intense aroma, she could understand why. Decomposing flesh was hard to mistake for anything else, but mixed with garbage like this, even her own stomach rebelled, reminded of previous gruesome acts. Glancing around, she couldn’t see Riley’s training officer. Where was Chou? It was her job to secure the scene.

“Riley,” she acknowledged the officer before addressing the other two men. “Sergeant Reynolds, Homicide. And you are?”

“Phil Carmichael and Gus Hernandez.” The shorter of the two men answered. “Gus is legal but his English is no good.”

“I see.” She pulled a small black notebook and pen out of the fanny pack she wore at her side, flipped the cover open and wrote down the names as well as the sanitation truck’s license plate and number. “Who’s got the keys to this thing?”

“I do, signora,” the taller of the two men answered.

“Did you hit the person?” Was that why the truck blocked the alley?

Madre de Dios, no. We found her here,” he struggled to speak English.

“I’ll take your cellphones.”

Si.”

The men handed over their devices. Glancing through the photos, recent texts, and social media posts, she verified they hadn’t taken any pictures—if there was anything really to take a photograph of—and returned them.

“Don’t talk to anyone about what you found,” she ordered. “Pull the vehicle over there.”

That’s it. Stay safe and don’t forget to check out the other Tuesday Tales.

Five Ways to Support Author Friends

Some great advice here for those who want to help out their author friends!

Writer's Zen Blog

Five Ways to Support Author Friends

by Melissa Face

I was chatting with a fellow writer and friend the other day about how my book collection has grown throughout recent years to include the works of many friends. I now have a whole section on my bookshelf I can point to and say things like, “I know her! We work together! She is my friend!”

Even though she shared my enthusiasm, my friend said, “But one of the tough things about having a lot of writer friends is that you often feel obligated to buy a lot of books.”

She’s right. Writers are usually not raking in the dough from our first (and sometimes second and third) published works, yet we are often the ones supporting one another, attending events, buying each other’s books, and generally being good literary citizens.

Even though all authors will agree that yes, we want…

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