A Rereleased Book and a Sign of the Times

Photo by Hert Niks on Pexels.com

Well, it’s Friday December 4, 2020, and I have to face the reality that nothing will be the same this year, no matter how much I wish it could be. At the moment, the cases of Covid 19 in my region are more or less stable, placing us in code yellow, the protect mode, where we have to follow standard hygiene procedures of hand washing, masking, and maintaining social distancing. Our stores, restaurants, and bars are open, with reduced capacity and shorter hours, and out indoor gatherings are limited to ten people in our so-called bubbles. For me, it means I’ll be able to celebrate Christmas with part of my family–the ones I’ve been close to since this started. It also means that I’ll be having a COVID test on the 17th, so that I can visit my mother in her long-term care facility on Christmas Eve. Sadly, it also means that I won’t attend the Christmas Eve service at church in person, although I will watch it on You Tube. It’s not the same, but this year so much isn’t.

Today is Ugly Christmas Sweater and Hat Day at school. Here’s my eleven-year-old grandson all set to enjoy the day. What stands out is the matching face mask. Who would’ve believed it would become an essential part of the Christmas or any outfit?

But what I see most is the twinkle in his hazel eyes. It’s been a rough year for kids. They were out of school from March to September–the longest school break on record. This missed out on team sports, summer camp, vacations, sleepovers, playdates and so much more. They struggled with online curriculum and weeks stuck inside, and yet, that little guy is happy and raring to go.

This will be a different Christmas. No school concerts, no Christmas fairs, no cookie sales, but they’ll manage with the resilience I admire.

While we all look forward to a vaccine in the new year, few people may realize that there won’t be one available for children. They can’t be given any of the ones developed for adults, and most companies won’t even start looking at a vaccine for children until next summer which means that cute little mask may decorate his face again next year. You can check it for yourself here.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/next-up-in-hunt-for-covid-19-vaccine-testing-shots-in-kids-1.5184740

But, despite COVID 19, life moves on.

This week, I took an older book and revised it. Yesterday marked the rerelease of Secrets and Lies as part of my Vengeance is Mine Series. The fist four deal with a killer out for revenge. This year, it’s the heroine looking for a little payback.

DEA agent, Emily Shepherd, is after the Chef, a crystal meth cook, who sets up labs for the Mexican cartel and walks away—the same man responsible for the deaths of her husband and unborn child. Her search leads her to Braden, Iowa, a small town just right for the Chef’s specialty. But identifying her quarry won’t be easy when she’s up against a woman who sees her as a threat, a male chauvinistic deputy sheriff, and an attractive school principal who might just be at the center of it all.
Jackson Harris has sworn off women. Life is satisfactory, if lonely, until he meets a hazel-eyed damsel in distress who gets under his skin, and triggers that protective instinct of his. There’s a killer in town, one who may or may not be a notorious drug lord. Finding him, and keeping his town, his students, and Emily safe, may be harder than he thinks.

The book was originally published as a standalone in a series called Hearts of Braden. I’m hoping that with its nice new cover and joining the Vengeance Is Mine Series, it will attract readers who missed it the first time around.

So, whether you like a book in your hand, e-books on your devices or read in Kindle Unlimited, I hope you’ll give Secrets and Lies a second chance.

Cocktails For You! Quick Reads to Brighten the Dullest Day.

If you’ve been following my writing these past seven years, then you know I tend to write long books, full of detail and intrigue. Whether it’s a contemporary, historical, fantasy, mild paranormal, or suspense novel, my books are generally written in the third person, giving you, the reader, a look inside the motivation and point of view of each of the story’s main characters.

Last summer, a very good friend persuaded me to try something new. She challenged me to write a short romantic comedy, the kind often referred to as chick-lit. These books are often written in the first person, something I’d attempted before in Same Time Next Year, when I wrote Twyla’s story within the book that way. As well, these books usually have comedic scenes, something else I was familiar with and used in both Just for the Weekend, Wedding Bell Blues, and His Christmas Family.

At the time she suggested I try my hand at this new genre, I’d just returned from a vacation in Los Cabos, Mexico. There were rumors of a vicious virus over in China, but like most North Americans, I had no idea how bad this virus was, nor that it would launch a pandemic unseen in over 100 years.

Still sated in vacation bliss, I decided to try my hand at a first person story. Since no one really wants to read about a seventy-year-old’s vacation, I decided to show it through the eyes of a much younger heroine. Since the story had to be a romance, I fell back on my favorite ‘second chance at love’ trope.

The events in the story are all based on my vacation. Some things like the flight delay actually happened. Other things are the product of my imagination and stories I was told. The places mentioned are all real, and I invite you to visit the area when the pandemic is over. I certainly hope to go again.

Tequila Sunrise was originally published as part of the Author’s Billboard Summer Shorts Box Set and its cover was made against the background of one of the photographs I took one morning at sunrise.

The colours were breathtaking and as I watched, the sky grew lighter and even more beautiful. My cover artist knew the cover didn’t suit the style of the story, but she humored me and created this.

It’s easy to see that she was right. Now, I’ve released Tequila Sunrise with a fantastic Melinda De Ross cover befitting the story. It’s the first book in a series known as Cocktails for You. Each novel in the story will feature a signature drink that plays a part in the story itself. The stories will be short and easy to read.

Here’s the blurb for the first book in Cocktails for You, Tequila Sunrise.

Sun, sand, and mind-blowing kisses!

Kelly Winters, an up and coming recreational facilities designer for Dreamscapes, is thrilled to be part of a Think Tank Conway Enterprises is putting together—so thrilled in fact that she agrees, despite the fact she hates flying.
Liam Conway, the heir apparent to Conway Enterprises, can’t believe his luck when he spots his Kellyanne in the airport and discovers she’ll be his seatmate on the flight to Mexico City. He was sure they’d connected that day ten years ago, and not just because she’d literally left him in stitches. He searched for her for weeks afterwards, but it was as if she’d vanished into thin air.
Kelly is stunned to see Liam after all these years. Discovering that not only is he participating in the same Think Tank she is, but he’s also her boss leads to more than she bargained for. Can a ten-year-old attraction blossom again, or will their positions keep them apart?

Tequila Sunrise is available from Amazon for only 99 cents or free through your KU membership. It’s also available in paperback for those of you who commute or simply love the feel of a book in your hands.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blog for December, 2020.


December 2 question – Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why?

Lately, it’s been difficult to feel as if I’ve accomplished much as a writer. COVID 19 has changed many things including my productivity. Where it used to take me weeks to write a story, now it takes months, and even though I write every day, I find many of those words get tossed in my edits.

In the past, winter used to be my best time to write, especially after I returned from vacation. This year, it’s been no vacation–which will continue that way for some time to come–and the motivation to put down new words seems lacking. I only managed to complete two novels and two novellas this year, which is way fewer than I’ve managed in the past.

I’m hoping that once the virus is contained, my mood will lift and my productivity will increase.

How about you? Has the virus zapped your productivity?

Check out other answers to this month’s question here.

https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Tuesday Tales From the Word PUSH

Wow! December 1st! What a year this has been! Here’s hoping this finds you well and holding your own against the pandemic.

Tuesday Tales is a weekly blog that invites you into the writing process of several gifted authors. It’s a real pleasure to be part of this group. Today’s 400 word post goes with the word PUSH. I’m continuing with The White Dahlia.

The best time to drive in New York City was in the early morning, before the roads filled with commuters eager to get to work. Soon the Lincoln Tunnel and the various bridges into Manhattan would be bumper to bumper. If the car was air conditioned, the driver might just hang onto his or her cool; if it wasn’t, then look out. Road rage would be alive and well in the Big Apple.

Pulling into the precincts underground parking, Beth put the car in the first empty space she found and handed the keys to the officer on duty.

“I suggest you have it thoroughly cleaned inside. I’ve been too close to a rotting cadaver.”

The man made a face, implying the car wasn’t the only thing that stunk.

“Understood, Sergeant,” he said. “That aroma tends to hang around for a while. Saw a corpse flower in bloom once. Enough said.”

Beth nodded, stepped into the waiting elevator, and pushed the floor indicator. As soon as the doors opened, she hurried to the ladies’ locker room and showered, lathering her hair and her body three times until she was sure the stench had been washed away. She brushed her teeth and rinsed her mouth with most of the tiny bottle of mouthwash she kept in her locker.

Twenty minutes later, wet hair slicked back and tied with an elastic, dressed in clean undergarments and the track suit and runners she kept in her locker for emergencies, her clothing and heels stuffed into a large plastic bag, Beth took the elevator up to her floor. The bullpen was deserted—had none of the others made it back yet? Stopping to grab a bottle of water from the fridge in the breakroom, she half-emptied it in one gulp before heading into the office she shared with Harris and booted up her laptop.

As concisely and accurately as she could, she filled out the incident report, describing the crime scene and adding a note about Big-mouth Carmichael and Jack Ogden, praying he’d missed his deadline. Finished, she sent a copy to Lieutenant Harris, recommending that Major Crimes take over the investigation, citing the potential for this to be only one in a series of deaths. She also stressed the links she’d found between Rachel and Rebecca. Was that poor girl number five?

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

Tuesday Tales: From the Word STUFF

This week, many of you are getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. While some have much to be grateful for, others feel even more dissatisfied than ever. Canadians celebrated their Thanksgiving in October, and while it was different and difficult to stay away from our loved one, we managed. Wishing you all a day of health, happiness and reflection.

This week’s Tuesday Tales scene continues with the clash between exes.

“Excuse me? Holding our past against you? You make it sound like I did something wrong.” She rolled her eyes and ground her teeth. “You cheated on me a week after we moved in together … and in my own bed. I wanted to burn the damn thing.”

“It was a one-time fling, and she hit on me,” he whined as if he were the offended party. “What’s a red-blooded man to do? I’m as flawed as the next guy. I said I was sorry, but you had to go all offended maiden on me. It wasn’t as if we were married. I was sowing the last of my wild oats. Now, let’s quit bickering about the past and get to the present. I’ve got half an hour to turn something in for the morning edition.”

She shook her head, the top knot sliding to the left. “If you’re expecting me to give you a story, then you’re shit out of luck. You know how it works. No comment.”

“Come on. Throw me a bone, babe,” he pleaded, using those puppy dog eyes that had misled her in the past. “All I want is confirmation. I recognized Al Foster, so I know whoever was back there had to be a missing person. The rookie keeping the crowd back, no doubt the first officer on the scene, lost his donuts—the stuff’s all over his shoes—but I don’t think he’s the only one.” He glanced down at her pants. “Must’ve been something really bad to upset the stone-hearted ice queen. The trashman, Phil Carmichael, likes to hear himself talk. I overheard him on the phone. He claims there was a naked white girl next to the dumpster, missing her guts and eyeballs—not the kind of thing girls generally lose. Have anything to add, Detective Reynolds? Who was she?”

Beth fisted her hands, her nails carving half-moons into her palms. Damn Carmichael. She’d told him to keep quiet, but a guy like that would never be able to resist his five minutes of fame. How many people had he spoken to?

“No comment,” she ground out between clenched teeth. “You want a story, show up at One P P for the daily briefing. Now, get the hell out of my way.”

“So the girl did have her innards ripped out by something just a week after the Zombie Walk. An unnamed source it is.”

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

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Do you like Christmas Romances?

The Authors’ Billboard has your perfect story this year. Over 100 romance novels, novellas, or short stories to make your Christmas reading a great experience. You can check them all out at https://authorsbillboard.com/book-bites/

In Dear Santa, A Christmas Wish, you’ll find What Dottie Wants.

Do you believe in Christmas magic?

When life gave Ronnie Daniels lemons, instead of lemonade, the single mother learned to make Lemon Drops.

This Christmas, times are tougher than ever, and Ronnie’s number one priority is making the holiday as normal as possible for her five-year-old daughter. All Dottie wants from Santa is a Famous American Ballerina doll. The problem is not only are they expensive, but they’re impossible to find.

After another failed attempt to secure one of the dolls, in her frustration, Ronnie sends a scathing letter to the company, Thomas Toys. As the doll’s manufacturer, one advertising a product they don’t have on hand and can’t deliver before Christmas, it’s their fault that her daughter’s dreams won’t come true.

When the company’s new CEO comes into the bar to apologize for the mishap and try to make amends, Ronnie refuses to listen to him, not just because of Dottie, but they have a complicated history. Determined to fix this, Wyatt doesn’t back down, and before long the doll isn’t the only thing Dottie wants for Christmas. But can Ronnie let bygones be bygones?

In Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hopes and Promises, you’ll find His Christmas Family.

Since losing his wife, children, and parents six years ago to a drunk driver, Lee Ostler stopped celebrating the holidays, especially Christmas. But he isn’t a modern day Scrooge by any means. Because his parents would’ve wanted it, he does his duty by his employees at Ostler Construction, the Payton Falls community, and his sister and her family, but that’s it.

When Sonia has to leave the country for a few weeks before Christmas, she begs him to watch the twins for her. Even if it means, parades, pageants, and fairs, how can he refuse? But things get complicated when the twins accidentally injure one of his employees, who turns out to be the shy girl he admired years ago in high school.

Life has dealt Laurie Wilson a lot of blows, but this year, the widowed mother of four has hit rock bottom. How will she give her children a magical Christmas when the cupboard’s bare, her wallet’s empty, she can’t work, and may well lose the roof over their heads? She needs a miracle, and if he happens to be her boss and the former high school quarterback she was too terrified to even speak to back then, how can she say no?

Can Christmas magic bring two broken souls together?

If you like suspense with your Christmas reading, then let me suggest Murder & Mistletoe.

Going home for Christmas can be deadly.
Candy Kayne agrees to go to Black Oaks, the Georgia plantation her ancestor reluctantly left after the Civil War, to meet the family she’s never known and help Steve set a trap for his wife’s killer. Even the wildest tales have a kernel of truth in them and as she learns more about the family’s history, she realizes that coming here may have been the biggest mistake of her life.
Losing Amy almost destroyed Steve Anderson, but when Candy steps into his life, her sweetness chases the dark gloom away. But when he realizes the man who murdered his wife may have set his sights on Candy, he’ll do whatever he has to in order to keep her safe.

If you would like second chance romances, the how about Come Home for Christmas?

This past year has been a miserable one for Krista Jacobs, and what’s going to make it even worse is having to spend Christmas at Seven Oaks, the Alberta ranch that was her home until her uncle tossed her out on her ear before her nineteenth birthday. But Uncle Charles is gone and has left her something in his will—something she can only have if she spends Christmas at the ranch with Ethan Terrance, her step-cousin, and the man she’d hoped to marry ten years ago.
When Charles Terrance died, the last thing Ethan expected to discover was that not only had his dad sabotaged his relationship with Krista, he’d cheated her out of the inheritance that should’ve been hers ten years ago. Since Ethan’s never been able to forget the woman he loved, he’ll do whatever he has to in order to make things right—including having his lawyer send her a request she can’t ignore. Krista has to come home for Christmas.

Or perhaps you’d like to give Holiday Magic a try?

Seeing is believing, or is it? Georgia Baxter loved everything about Christmas until she walked in on her fiancé in bed with another woman. Wounded and heart sore, she canceled her Christmas Eve fantasy wedding and fled to New York City, leaving everything and everyone, including her twin sister, Eleni, behind. Three years later, still hurting but knowing it’s time to move on, she agrees to come home to help her sister, despite the fact she’ll be doing so at a time of year she now associates only with pain and betrayal. Discovering she’ll have to work closely with the man who shattered her dreams only makes things harder, especially when her body craves his touch. Mark Anderson has no memory of his bachelor party other than waking up naked in the wrong woman’s bed. He clings to the hope someday he can convince Georgia to give him a second chance, but until she’s ready to listen, it won’t happen. Discovering she’s coming home to manage Holiday Magic for three months may be his lucky break. Is there enough magic left in Christmas to help them overcome the past?

And if you want to know what happens to Georgia’s twin, Eleni, grab a copy of The Perfect Choice.

All’s fair in love and war…or is it?
Eleni Baxter has always been the impulsive twin requiring rescue from one scheme or another. Avoiding relationships because of trust issues, Eleni throws herself into her wedding and party fantasy firm, Holiday Magic. When her designs for a Halloween decorating scheme win her a shot at being the exclusive special events coordinator for the Ocean Front Casino Resort, she jumps at it, without reading the fine print. As always, twin sister Georgia comes to the rescue.
Reclusive millionaire casino owner Garth Joseph Smits Simmons has shunned publicity and gold-diggers for as long as he can remember, hiding behind a series of disguises to protect his identity. When beautiful, talented special events coordinator Eleni Baxter walks into his life, he’s determined to find a way to make her fall in love with him without revealing his true identity. Designing a contract to hire her and keep her in close proximity for three months seems like a stroke of genius, but having a double life becomes more complicated than ever.
With the holiday season in full swing, Joe decides it’s time to come clean, but will the magic of the holiday season be enough for Eleni to forgive him his deception, or will he lose it all on one throw of the dice?

There’s enough magic out there to make every Christmas romance reader’s holidays special even this year!

Release Day for Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hopes and Promises.

Are you in the Christmas spirit yet? If not, today’s the day! Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hopes and Promises is available exclusively at all Amazon online retailers.

Dreams CAN come true at Christmas.

Join these heroes and heroines in their search for love and joy at this special time of year. Whether it’s in the wilds of Alaska under the Northern Lights, in towns, offices, or hospitals across the land, or on cruise ships under tropical skies, the magic of Christmas will make this the most wonderful time of the year.

Nine New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors have crafted stories of love and joy, ranging from sweet to spicy, the perfect box set to read with your favorite holiday beverage. So, whether your Christmas means snow, sand, or something in between, you’re sure to enjoy the romance and joy found in the pages of Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hope and Promises.

Sweet Christmas:
 Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Will she destroy her first real Christmas because she’s never been in love or experienced that holiday before?

Christmas Love: Natalie Ann, USA Today Bestselling Author: What happens when even the strongest are blinded by insecurities?

His Christmas Family: Susanne Matthews, International Bestselling Author: Can Christmas magic bring two broken souls together and fill six lives with joy?

Scrooge Falls In Love: Leanne Banks, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Millionaire Stock Jock Justin Langdon experiences Scrooge-like dreams that make him re-think his independent lifestyle after new adoptive mom Amy Monroe saves his life.

Holiday By The Sea: Traci Hall, USA Today Bestselling Author: Opposites attract. Can they find a way to make the most unlikely of relationships work?

A Heavenly Christmas: Patrice Wilton, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Can the magic of love mend a young woman’s heart?

Alaskan Christmas: Jen Talty, USA Today Bestselling Author: He was the second date that should have lasted a lifetime.

Honeymoon Cruise: Mona Risk, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: The perfect fiancé is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. But the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill the dreams of Julia and her unexpected companion.

Bittersweets Christmas – Arvin and Tina: Suzanne Jenkins, USA Today Bestselling Author: What does a Jewish neurologist and a Muslim ER physician have in common? LOVE! And how will they celebrate Christmas? All romance, all the time.

Here’s a sneak peek at His Christmas Family.

Chapter One

Jennifer Wilson sat back and ran her hands through her long, honey-brown hair, hoping to ease the stress headache that had become her constant companion these past few weeks. She stifled a yawn. How many more sleepless nights could she endure?

Removing her glasses, she rubbed the bridge of her nose. One of the plastic nose pads had broken, leaving the pad clamp to dig into her tender skin. Last week, she’d had to super glue the left temple, too. Given her current finances, purchasing new glasses was way down the list.

After turning off her computer, she straightened her desk and removed her pride and joy from the drawer, a Michael Kors knock-off bag she’d purchased in Minneapolis before leaving to come back home. She stood and stretched.

“You aren’t seriously going out to lunch in this?” Cassie shook her head. “I’ve got lasagna to spare. It’s not as good as yours, but you’re welcome to half of it.”

The friendly brunette was one of the few people Jenn had reconnected with two years ago when she’d moved back to Payton Falls. She’d found comfort in the familiar places of her childhood, despite the fact she shied away from socializing.

“You might be so used to living in that cold, drafty old house that you don’t notice the icky weather, but the rest of us do,” she added.

Cassie hadn’t been thrilled with the Henderson house Jenn had rented and recently purchased. Yes it was draughty, but since it was the only five bedroom house she could afford, they would make do—just as they always had.

There was little call for a pâtissier, a pastry chef, in Payton Falls, so thanks to Cassie’s help, she’d found a job at Ostler Construction. The company paid well and provided its employees with top-notch benefits. Her job as payroll clerk might not thrill the creative side of her, but it beat waiting tables at Cal’s Catfish Café in Floodwood, or cocktail waitressing at The Viking Bar and Grill, where the patrons considered the staff part of the menu.

“Thanks, Cassie, but I’m off for the afternoon. I cleared it with Mrs. Morris. I’ll be working through my lunch hours next week to make up the time. I have to take Fiona to the clinic to see Dr. Jeffries. They’re squeezing me in between patients, so who knows how long the wait will be. Her ears acted up again last night, and I had to leave her with the sitter again this morning.” Another unexpected expense.

“Poor baby—”

Jenn raised her hand, palm out to stop Cassie’s next comment. “Don’t go blaming the house. I’ve already spoken to the doctor about it, and he assures me that there’s no correlation between her earaches and home. If there were, the rest of us would be sick, too. And speaking of the weather, you’re getting soft in your old age. This is just a little wind and rain.” She smiled at her best friend. “I spent ten years in Chicago and then six more in Minnesota, remember? I’ve got this. Besides, despite what they say about climate change, the weather was just as bad, if not worse, when we were kids. Can you remember a single Halloween when we didn’t have snow?”

“I guess,” Cassie agreed, but her face said she wasn’t convinced.

Jenn exchanged her recently re-heeled black leather pumps for her worn knee-high boots, something else she’d planned to replace. Unfortunately, Mike had needed new basketball shoes. Her feet would be soaking wet by the time she got home this afternoon, but it couldn’t be helped. The kids came first—they always had, and they always would.

“I need to pick up the tablets I ordered for the kids at Carter’s. It’s in-store shopping only, but I called and begged, so Mrs. C. set four aside for me, but I have to get into the store before five. Cassie, they’re half the price they normally are. I won’t get a better deal ever. I’ll go over there as soon as I get Fiona back to Lucy’s, and then stop to pick up another prescription and a few groceries.”

Before agreeing to buy the house, Jenn had crunched the numbers carefully, and with her budget as tight as it was, she couldn’t keep adding to it the way she had been lately. As it was, her meager savings’ account was bleeding money on a regular basis, and would be bone dry within months.

“Mrs. Carter’s great. There are too few family run businesses left.” Cassie grinned. “Don’t forget to grab a sandwich or something while you’re out. You’ve lost weight again. The one thing those kids of yours don’t need is a sick mother.”

Jenn’s cheeks heated. There’d only been enough oatmeal for the kids this morning, and last night, she’d run out of meatloaf before the kids had run out of appetite.

“You’re preaching to the choir.” She shook her head. “Most people would consider me fashionably slender,” she argued, knowing her friend was right. Her clothes hung on her, and she couldn’t afford new ones. Ironic, wasn’t it? She would’ve given her eyeteeth to be this svelte at sixteen—might even have made the cheerleading squad.

“There’s slender, and there’s downright skinny—which is where you’re heading. I don’t get it. You do all that baking for the social committee, and yet you never eat any of it. Are all chefs that way? I can understand it. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for the family, and the last thing I wanted to do was eat any of it, but there was no way I would pass up that pumpkin cheesecake you made me. It was the best I’ve ever tasted.”

You can read more by purchasing the set or reading it for free with your Kindle Unlimited membership. https://www.amazon.com/Unforgettable-Christmas-Joy-Hope-Promises-ebook/dp/B08MTJY23B

Tuesday Tales: From the Word SICK

Welcome to another Tuesday Tales, the weekly blog where a small group of authors share their works in progress with you. This week, we are writing to the word prompt SICK. That word is far too familiar these days as so many struggle with their physical or emotional health. Posts to word prompts are 400 words long.

I’m continuing with The White Dahlia, Book Four of The Harvester Files.

Exhausted, Beth ignored the crowd and crossed the street, eager to get away from the paparazzi. Somehow, they always seemed to be where no one wanted them. Glancing down at her watch, she saw that it was almost six. Her shift was over at eight, but she had at least an hour’s worth of reports to complete, and no doubt, if Lieutenant Harris got wind of this before she left, he would want to talk to her.

“Hey, Beth. Wait up.” Her sick stomach threatened to empty itself once more as she recognized the voice she’d hope never to hear again.

Calculating the odds as to whether or not she could get to her car and make a fast exit, she frowned. Not unless she wanted to run the bastard over—and as much as that was a pleasant thought, he wasn’t worth the extra paperwork.

“Jack Ogden,” she said, a saccharine smile on her face as she turned to face the freelance reporter who would do anything for a story. She had nothing against the press, at least not against reporters who actually reported the news instead of making it up. “What rock did you crawl out from under this time?”

“Ooh! Somebody’s cranky. Maybe you need to get laid.” He wiggled his eyebrows. “The lieutenant you were with not ringing your bells?”

“You’re disgusting,” she snapped, although the idea of her and Al burning up the sheets wasn’t without appeal.

“I would offer my services, but my tetanus shots aren’t up to date, and you did promise to eviscerate me with a rusty spoon the last time we were alone together.”

She paled at the reminder. “And I would enjoy every second of it,” she ground out, wishing she could kick him where it would hurt most, wondering how much he knew about tonight’s victim. A lucky choice of words? She doubted it. “If you were the last man on Earth, I would go to the grave celibate. What are you doing here anyway? Isn’t this a little out of your preferred stomping grounds?” “Don’t be catty. I go where the stories are, you know that. I heard the call come over the scanner. I was going to dismiss it until you called in the cavalry, so now I’m exercising my First Amendment rights. Something happened here, and the people have a right to know what it was.”

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

The Punishers Are Back With The Guardian

Happy Friday the 13th! What better way to celebrate than with the release of the second book in The Punishers’ Series, The Guardian?

Paranormal/fantasy

Last year, shortly after my father died, I kept my promise to him and released my first fantasy, paranormal, suspense novel, The Tigress, part of a series called The Punishers.

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?

This year, I’m continuing the tradition and promise with Book Two in The Punishers’ Series, The Guardian.

The Punishers are at it again in The Guardian, the second book in the series.

The past can always come back to haunt you.

After defeating the demon and casting him back into the abyss, Steve Cassidy and Ellie Taggart, the Tigress, expect a break, but evil never rests.
Knud, a dark-elf and an immortal, has escaped from his prison in Niflheim, intent on exacting his revenge against all of those who sent him there, including Steve. To make matters worse, Knud has teamed up with both supernatural and human criminals—a Voodoo priest and magician with an axe to grind against the city’s preternatural population, and a paramilitary group with an agenda all their own.


With a hurricane on the horizon, the lives of ten females and one male hang in the balance. With the help of a Vodun priestess, the head of the city’s Wicca coven, a selkie, mermaids, shapeshifters, and vampires, Steve, Ellie, Mike, and Chelsea, the Punishers, have 72 hours to find the missing yacht and rescue those aboard. Because if they don’t by October 31st, all hell will break loose.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find in the story.

The antique, grandfather clock bonged twelve times. Steve reached for his glass of brandy. Ellie was asleep in the guest room. While he was grateful she’d agreed to spend the last couple of days here, especially given how tired they’d been after the battle with Descry, he would’ve preferred holding her in his arms, assuring himself that she was safe. Her scent lingered in the sheets of his bed where she’d spent the night after her run-in with the revenants earlier in the week. He’d held her for a short time, hoping his heat and comforting presence would ease her fevered trembling. She’d settled, but once she’d awakened, it had been as if the intimacy had never happened.

If he suggested repeating the activity and maybe adding a little to it, she might well rip him open with those razor sharp claws of hers. He needed to be patient. They would come together—of that he was certain—but it would be on her terms, not his. Maybe that was why, as tired as he was, he was unable to settle.

He understood her reluctance to change the level of their relationship, but they might not have as much time as they thought they did. Lately, the battles they fought had been more dangerous and difficult. Even near immortals like them had their limits. They might not age like humans did, but they did grow older, although without the maladies and infirmities that afflicted humans. What they could do was die from other causes. There were poisonous creatures and plants in all of the Nine Realms, weapons, and magic that could be turned against them. Last week had been a close call. Only a fool would believe he could’ve defeated the demon Descry and his allies alone. He might be a lot of things, but he was no fool.

Finishing the amber liquid, he stood and then dropped back into the chair as a sudden shriek of pain exploded inside his head, causing him to bite his tongue, the coppery taste of blood strong inside his mouth. A second cry shook him.

What the hell?

He slipped deeper into his own mind, trying to locate the source of the scream. As Detective Steve Cassidy, his job was to uphold the laws and protect the humans and non-humans from the dark forces that threatened to enslave or destroy them, but he was more than that. He was the Guardian, responsible for those preternatural creatures from the Nine Realms who made Earth their home, too.

While he might not be a demigod or an immortal like his father, Skirnir, a light-elf lord, he was more than the usual half-elf, half-human peredhil. He possessed supernatural strength, speed, psychic abilities, and other magical talents, including the ability to wield Sigurdur, the flaming sword crafted by the dwarfs of Nidavellir, given to him by the Vanyr god, Freyr, whom he served. In addition, he had the rare capacity of being able to open any portal and travel through the dimensional corridors linking all the worlds, moving around the earth in the blink of an eye.

The fact that many of the immortals who’d chosen to settle on Earth preferred this corner of the world made his job easier. What it was that drew immortals and non-humans here he didn’t know, but there were ley lines nearby and cosmic energies resonating even at this distance from what the humans called The Bermuda Triangle. The whole of the American southern coast was somehow joined, but New Orleans seemed to be some sort of convergent point, where the veil between dreams and reality was at its thinnest, drawing both good and evil to it with equal force.

Closing his eyes, he honed in on the slight whimpers, recognizing the voice. That agonizing cry had come from a friend, a selkie who’d relocated to the Gulf of Mexico, almost three years ago, living among the whales, dolphins, and mermaids in the waters of the gulf beyond the Chandeleur Islands, often escaping into the Sigsbee Deep and cooler water. He’d taken her to dinner a few times. They’d gotten along well, but he hadn’t seen her since July.

What the hell had she gotten herself into? He’d warned her against walking the streets of the city alone at night. She might have magic, but unless she was in the water, it wouldn’t do her any good. Had she found herself at the mercy of a human or non-human male who wouldn’t take no for an answer?

Selkies were similar to mermaids, except when they chose to walk on land, they only had to step out of their sealskin. Unlike mermaids who preferred the warm water, selkies inhabited the cold waters around the Orkney and Faro Islands and Iceland, although many lived among the seal colonies off the New England and Canadian coasts. Lately, with the oceans warming, a few had ventured south.

Immortal as well as mortal men found selkie women highly attractive, and the selkies had to be vigilant and keep their sealskins carefully hidden whenever they shed them. If a mortal man were to steal a selkie’s skin, he could prevent her from transforming and returning to the sea, thus stripping her of her immortality. Until Ellie had walked into his life, he’d considered phoning Selma again, if only for companionship. Now, it seemed as if she needed him more than he’d needed her.

Since this was his responsibility and his alone, he decided not to wake Ellie and let her sleep. He warded the house to keep out any intruders and opened a portal. After grabbing his sword and donning his armor, he sped down the corridor, racing toward the weak sound.

Exiting the conduit, he found himself not in a back alley as he’d expected, but knee-deep in the dark, warm waters of the gulf. The half-moon silvered the surface. At his feet lay Selma, her lower body sheathed in her sealskin, her human torso covered in blood still seeping from huge gashes on her shoulder and the side of her head. Someone or something had attacked her, but judging by the crusted blood in her hair and the sand matted in with it, she’d been here, struggling to transform, for some time. Had a fisher or naturalist found her like this … he shuddered at what could’ve happened. Her sealskin should’ve healed the wounds, but the fact that she couldn’t complete the transformation to do so was troubling.

He sheathed his sword on his back and knelt beside her, gingerly raising her injured torso out of the water. How long had she been lying like this, her life blood ebbing out with each wave that covered her?

Her eyes drifted open, and she gasped, struggling weakly as if trying to get away but unable to do so.

“It’s okay, Selma. It’s me, Steve.”

She relaxed slightly, but he could read the terror in her deep brown almost black eyes, the white sclera, all but invisible. He wasn’t a doctor, but her body was on fire.

“What’s happened to you? Did you get caught in a propeller?” He couldn’t imagine anything else causing this kind of damage, other than perhaps a predator. “Were you trying to get away from the Great White you were telling me about and miscalculated? Why aren’t you transforming?”

Too weak to speak, she opened her mind to him.

Not sure. No accident. Two—maybe three days ago … We were attacked. Men … not men … We answered a distress call … others … another selkie…

Even her thoughts were halting, her life pulsing away with each beat of her heart.

“Selma, please. What happened? Did another selkie do this to you?” The thought that one of her own kind could turn on her was horrific.

No … So very tired.

“I know,” he pleaded for her help, “but if another selkie’s in trouble, I have to save her.”

He would do everything he could for Selma, but right now, it didn’t look good. Hopefully, Mamma Lou would have some of dlo sakre she’d used on Ellie’s wounds that night when the tigress had had her leg ripped open. The old Vodun priestess controlled powerful magic and was the best healer he’d ever met. If Mamma Lou couldn’t help Selma, no one could.

He stood, pulling the injured creature out of the water and cradling her in his arms. Like other immortals, selkies could be killed. While it rarely happened in their seal form because of their speed and magical abilities, on land or aboard a vessel, they were powerless, as mortal as humans.

She moaned, the sound so faint, he almost missed it.

“Hang in there,” he murmured. “I have a friend who can help you.”

Selma raised her hand and grabbed his arm, her grip surprisingly strong.

You must find them, Steve. You must help them. Such darkness … You must save them. If you don’t—

Her eyes closed, and her grip relaxed, her breathing so shallow he was afraid she’d died.

“Damn! Find who?” Using his night vision, he searched the coastline for other bodies. “Is there anyone else out here?” he cried, hoping desperately for an answer.

The only one he got was the sound of the water lapping the sand. Whoever she’d been with was either dead, in deeper water, or still in the hands of whoever had tried to kill her.

You can find both The Tigress and The Guardian exclusively at any Amazon retailer priced at 99 cents for a limited time. Both books are available in Kindle Unlimted!

The series will continue next year with Chelsea’s story.

Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hopes and Promises

It’s been a strange year, one filled with more obstacles and hazards than any I can remember, but we have to do the best to cope and deal with life responsibly. Christmas is coming, and with it the season of Joy, Hope, Renewal, and Promises. Available for pre-order with a November 20th release date, the Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hope and Promises box set is just what you need to help you slip into the season. here’s a peek at what you’ll find inside!

Dreams CAN come true at Christmas.

Join these heroes and heroines in their search for love and joy at this special time of year. Whether it’s in the wilds of Alaska under the Northern Lights, in towns, offices, or hospitals across the land, or on cruise ships under tropical skies, the magic of Christmas will make this the most wonderful time of the year.

Nine New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors have crafted stories of love and joy, ranging from sweet to spicy, the perfect box set to read with your favorite holiday beverage. So, whether your Christmas means snow, sand, or something in between, you’re sure to enjoy the romance and joy found in the pages of Unforgettable Christmas Joy: Hope and Promises.


Sweet Christmas:
 Mimi Barbour, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Will she destroy her first real Christmas because she’s never been in love or experienced that holiday before?

Christmas Love: Natalie Ann, USA Today Bestselling Author: What happens when even the strongest are blinded by insecurities?

His Christmas Family: Susanne Matthews, International Bestselling Author: Can Christmas magic bring two broken souls together and fill six lives with joy?

Scrooge Falls In Love: Leanne Banks, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Millionaire Stock Jock Justin Langdon experiences Scrooge-like dreams that make him re-think his independent lifestyle after new adoptive mom Amy Monroe saves his life.

Holiday By The Sea: Traci Hall, USA Today Bestselling Author: Opposites attract. Can they find a way to make the most unlikely of relationships work?

A Heavenly Christmas: Patrice Wilton, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: Can the magic of love mend a young woman’s heart?

Alaskan Christmas: Jen Talty, USA Today Bestselling Author: He was the second date that should have lasted a lifetime.

Honeymoon Cruise: Mona Risk, New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author: The perfect fiancé is a cheater and the fabulous Christmas wedding is off. But the would-be honeymoon cruise may fulfill the dreams of Julia and her unexpected companion.

Bittersweets Christmas – Arvin and Tina: Suzanne Jenkins, USA Today Bestselling Author: What does a Jewish neurologist and a Muslim ER physician have in common? LOVE! And how will they celebrate Christmas? All romance, all the time.

Exclusive to Amazon! Only 99 cents. https://www.amazon.com/Unforgettable-Christmas-Joy-Promises-Unforgettables-ebook/dp/B08MTJY23B/

And while you’re looking for holiday reading, consider our great Christmas Shorts. Find them all on your favorite Amazon.