Monday, February 27, 2012


April 20th!
Sins of the Mind will be released by Decadent Publishing

....Seven years ago, Abby Montgomery survived a brutal attack. Now she is ready to put her pain in the past and move on with her life. The problem is, one by one the men in her life are being viciously murdered.
....The detective assigned to the case, Ethan Parker, has demons of his own to hide. As the danger gets closer to Abby, so does Ethan. But can they get past his secrets before the killer gets to them? Sometimes the sins of the mind are more depraved than the sins of the heart.

....“Moment?” He raised his eyebrows, tried for a surprised expression. “We were having a moment? Where was I?”
....A husky laugh escaped Abby’s lips. She gave him a playful shove, but he caught her hand, his fingers encircling her delicate wrist. With great care, he bowed his head and pressed his lips to the center of her palm. Her sharp intake of air told him she liked it.
....“Is this the moment you were referring to?” He kissed her wrist. “Or this?” His mouth grazed along her skin, up the side of her neck to the tender point below her ear.
....“Mmm.” She tilted her head, offering him better access.
....He inhaled, reveled in her unique scent. A mixture of spicy vanilla and exotic flowers invaded his senses and sent the room slowly spinning. Primal lust roared through him, demanded he possess her in a rush of carnal passion.
....But Ethan resisted.
....Intent on enticing Abby into a wild, heated frenzy, he trailed the tip of his tongue along her throat. Her pulse hammered beneath his ardent attention, and he reveled in her response. His fingers slid over her supple skin. One hand sought the silky tresses adorning her head while the other coaxed her legs across his lap then slipped around her waist.
....He pulled back, stared into her lovely face. Eyelids fluttering, she sighed in his arms. When she looked at him, desire burned bright in her eyes. His heart stuttered at the sight, and hot need rushed to his groin.
....“Abby.” Her name rolled from his tongue in a mix of desperation and lust. A voracious hunger to taste every inch of her body washed over him. The urge to kiss the small of her back, to run his tongue along her skin, delving and dipping into her secret, sensitive places, all but overwhelmed him. “Tell me to stop. If you’re not ready, honey, tell me to stop right now and by all that’s holy, I will. But you need to know how much I want you right now.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

Guest interview with Colin and Bobby from Second Chance

Debbie: Hi, everyone. Today we have two special guests with us. Lieutenant Colin Beckett from Second Chance, and Tech Sergeant Bobby Martin. These two men are Air Force Pararescuemen, also known as PJ's, and we will be joining them at the gym on Hurlburt Field where they are stationed. Ready Laura?

Laura: Right here. Okay, so is this a gym or an interrogation room? I swear some of this stuff looks like torture devices.

Debbie: I'm pretty sure it's a torture room. That is my opinion of all gyms anyway.

Laura: LOL I would have to agree with that. But it sure was awful nice of Colin and Bobby to invite us here to interview them. Heeeyy...wait a minute. Why aren't you in workout clothes?

Debbie: Number one, there is no way in hell I would ever be caught dead in workout clothes in front of two of the hottest men I've ever seen. Number two, we are not working out with them. They are just finishing up their workout and had the time to speak with us.

Laura: Oh, God! And all these mirrors are awful! My thighs look huge in these workout clothes! And don't you dare say anything about my big butt!

Debbie: It’s not your butt I’m looking at, and why on earth did you wear that anyway?

Laura: Cause we were invited to a gym! I wanted to blend in!

Debbie: Oh, boy. Do you see all these half naked sweaty men in here? How well do you think you're blending in? And besides, just how were you planning to workout with that to-go cup of coffee in your hand?

Laura: Um. Well, I was going to drink it first, of course. Wait a that them?? Holy freaking cow! They’re gorgeous! Gimme your jacket. *strips Debbie's jacket off and ties it around waist*

Debbie: *clears throat* Um, yup, sure is. Told you they were yummy.

Laura: Is it hot in here? *fans self* I think I’m gonna pass out just looking at them. Think they'd go for one of those Long Island ice teas we had the other day?

Debbie: LOL, well we can always ask, but I bet they’d drink us under the table.

Laura: Okay, so we better get this interview started before I melt into a puddle.

Debbie: Try not to act too infatuated. Don't embarrass us.

Laura: Hey, you're the one with the flushed face.

Debbie: My face is always flushed. Means nothing.

Laura: *snort* Yeah, right.

Debbie: Shit, they're waving us over. Come on.

DEBBIE: Colin, Bobby, nice to see you again. Oh, lemme introduce you. This is my friend, Laura. She'll be helping me with your story, Bobby, so be nice to her.

COLIN: Laura, very nice to meet you.

BOBBY: Hi, Laura. If you’re as good as Debbie is, then I'm looking forward to getting on with it. Although I think she did fu— um, I mean mess up with Colin getting Emily. Should’ve been me.

COLIN: *punches Bobby in the chest* Debbie knew what she was doing. Stop being a sore loser.

LAURA: Nice to meet you both. I'm looking forward to working on your story, Bobby. But before we get to all that, I have to say, I've heard of Navy Seals and Special Forces, but I haven't heard of Pararescuemen. What do you guys do exactly?

BOBBY: *leans back against the weight bench, hands clasped behind his head* Those guys are wimps compared to us.

COLIN: Well, I wouldn't say that, but our training goes way beyond any of theirs. After 6 weeks of Basic Training we go to Lackland AFB for 10 weeks of Pararescue/Combat control training which is much like the SEALS BUDs training. They take in about 80 students, and the average that graduate from that 80 is about 8. If you make it through those ten weeks of hell, it’s on to Fort Benning in Georgia for three weeks of US Army Airborne Parachutist School.
BOBBY: Hell? More like that tenfold. LOL But you do get to see what you’re made of, that’s for sure. After that is four weeks in the Keys for US Army Combat Divers School. Then one day in Pensacola, Florida, for US Navy Underwater Egress Training After that, we hauled our asses cross-country to US Air Force Basic Survival School for two and a half weeks, at Fairchild AFB, in Washington State. After that is five weeks of US Army Military Freefall Parachutist School at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona. And let me tell you, that’s a blast!

COLIN: LOL Then we go to Fort Bragg in North Carolina for 22 weeks of Special Operations Combat Medic Course and wind it all up with 20 weeks at Kirtland AFB in New Mexico for PARARESCUE Recovery Specialist Course.
BOBBY: After all that, we get our duty assignments and are sent to our first unit. Usually either Alaska, Iceland, Florida, New York, California, or Osan, Korea, or the different units we have in Europe.

LAURA: Good gosh! You do all that? That’s amazing.

DEBBIE: That is amazing. And must require one hell of a lot of dedication. What is all the training for?

COLIN: The mission of pararescue is combat search and rescue. We recover fighter pilots that have been shot down behind enemy lines. All that training we go through is geared specifically for that sole purpose.

LAURA: I’m sure our military pilots are glad to see you when things go wrong. I can’t imagine being shot down and having to eject from a jet. Then to go down behind enemy lines, possibly injured?

DEBBIE: Damn, I get somewhat emotional when it comes to our service members. Actually I have a daughter in RED HORSE, stationed right here at Hurlburt. Makes me worry a little less knowing there are guys like you that have her back.

BOBBY: Exactly. Our motto is “These things we do, that others may live.” That’s the code we live by every day.

COLIN: That being said we also participate in stateside rescues and foreign due to natural disasters. We plucked hundreds of people off roofs and out of the water after Katrina.

BOBBY: I believe the number was something like 1,700 lives between Katrina and Rita. So what’s your daughter’s name?

DEBBIE: Wow, that’s just amazing. *Glares at Bobby* Never mind, she’s married.

LAURA: I had no idea you worked stateside as well. I’m sure glad you guys are here! So, with all that training, do you have specific areas of expertise?

BOBBY: Shit, man. Did you not just hear everything my buddy and I listed?

COLIN: You'll have to excuse Bobby's attitude. He apparently needs to get laid. Something I hope you two are working on. We all have extended medical training, so we can take care of the people we rescue. My cranky friend here is an expert sniper.

BOBBY: Why, is that gonna play into my story?

DEBBIE: It, might, Bobby. But don't worry, you'll come off looking like the hero you are.

LAURA: Yeah, but none of it’ll be easy.

COLIN: Mine sure as hell wasn’t. So why should he get off easy? What I want to know is if Bobby’s gonna get laid, cause I can’t take much more of his whiney ass.

BOBBY: Me? You were the one being an ass in your story. If it was difficult, it was no one's fault but your own. I, on the other hand, am all for this shit. I'm just waiting to see if they can come up with a woman as good as Emily.

ZEKE: Hey, man...I told you to quit mooning over Colin's woman.

BOBBY: Shut the hell up, Diz.

ZEKE: Just sayin’.

DEBBIE: And you are?

ZEKE: Staff Sergeant Zeke Matthews, ma’am.

LAURA: *whispers to Debbie* Are they all hotties? Good gosh, I’m coming back to this gym tomorrow with a camera!

DEBBIE: *elbows Laura* Behave!

COLIN: This is Debbie Gould and L.J. Garland. They’re going to be writing Bobby’s story.

ZEKE: That right? Well, I’d like to be on that list, too. *winks* But right now, we need to debrief our last mission.

BOBBY: You go ahead. We’ll be there.

ZEKE: Nice meeting you ladies. *exits the gym*

BOBBY: So, tell me about the woman I’m going to meet. Who is she?

DEBBIE: Well, Bobby, you can rest assured that Madame Eve has found the perfect woman for you. She never fails.

LAURA: Absolutely right. Though, I have to admit, I’m wondering how you’re going to handle someone with such drastic…um, issues.

BOBBY: Issues? What kind of issues? What are you two getting me into?

COLIN: Ladies, it's been fun chatting, but we have a meeting with the commander in ten, and we gotta shower.

LAURA: Don’t worry, Bobby. I’m pretty sure it’ll all work out okay.

BOBBY: Pretty sure? What the f—

COLIN: Let’s go, Bobby. Now.

BOBBY: *follows after Colin* Come on, Ghost. I want to know what the hell "issues" they’re talking about.

Debbie: Did you really have to scare him like that? Laura? *smacks her upside the head*

Laura: What? Sorry, I was thinking about soapy, hard bodies in the shower…

Debbie: Anyway, Bobby seemed a little more cranky than when we met him in Second Chance. What do you suppose is up with that?

Laura: I have no idea. But did you hear all that training they went through? How are you not imagining them nekkid in the shower?

Debbie: Never said I wasn't, I'm just hiding it better than you. Wipe off your chin, you're drooling.

Laura: What? Oh, sorry. *wipes corner of mouth* Man, I could never do all that training like they did. Heck, I could hardly squeeze into these workout pants.

Debbie: *Glances at Laura’s pants* Honey you did a better job getting in them than I would have. Now Zeke’s pants…? Well, I think we better get going on this story for Bobby, so he can get back to his fun loving self.

Laura: Yeah, whoever Madame Eve chooses for him will be one lucky woman. And what about that other guy, Zeke? I saw you checking him out. LOL He was soooo easy on the eyes. Maybe we should come up with a story for him, too.

Debbie: One hot PJ at a time woman. Focus. And gimme back my jacket.

Laura: *skipping toward the door* Not till we’re in the car. Oh, and we’re stopping by Starbucks on the way. I need another shot of java before we start our writing marathon! So many stories, so many hot guys.

Debbie: Newsflash. There is no Starbucks until Pensacola, and we’re not headed that way. HAHAHA. That put a stumble in your step, didn’t it?


....Lieutenant Colin Beckett, US Air Force special ops, lost his wife in childbirth while off on a mission. Two years later, he’s still trying to come to grips with the guilt that tortures him. And to complicate matters, he finds himself undeniably attracted to his wife's sister, Emily. Struggling with his desire, he tells himself he doesn’t deserve a second chance with such an amazing woman.
....Emily wants Colin in her life and her bed. Enlisting the help of Colin's teammates and Madame Eve's 1Night Stand dating service, she plans to prove to Colin he can have everything he lost once again.
....Will their one night lead to the happy ending she longs for or the loneliness he thinks he deserves?

Genre: Contemporary, erotic romance, military romance

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Guest Author Claire Applewhite

Debbie: So....Welcome everyone. Today we are joining Clair Applewhite in our Cyber bar to talk about her release Candy Cadillac
....Laura, just follow me and try not to embarrass yourself. I know this isn’t your usual scene.

Laura: Nope. Give me a Starbucks and I’m good. Where do I sit?

Debbie: Sigh...not the coffee again. Right there on the bar stool. It spins so try not to fall off

Laura: Whoops! Yeah, it does

Debbie: What did I say?

Laura: Well, stop laughing at me and help me up! Oh look! A bowl of nuts!

Debbie: *Big eye roll.* Takes one to know one.

Laura: What was that?

Debbie: I said, help yourself to some. *Turning away* Bartender, I’ll have a Bloody Mary and a Long Island Ice Tea for my friend here.

Laura: Ooo...tea sounds good! Thanks, Deb.
Debbie: You’re so welcome, Laura. (Shh....Don’t tell her there are about four shots in it. She thinks it’s a plain iced tea.) What time are the hubby’s expecting us back?

Laura: Whenever. Mmm, this tea is yummy.

Debbie: Isn’t it? Oh, here comes Claire.

LAURA: Hey, Claire! So glad you’re here to visit with us and share the details on your latest book.

DEBBIE: Hi, Claire. Would you like something to drink before we start?

CLAIRE: I’ve got to get back to the keyboard. Coffee it is.

Debbie: Well, all righty then. Let’s grab Claire her coffee and head over to a table, so we can talk.

Laura: Coffee??

Debbie: Nooo. You need another iced tea. *Grabs Laura’s arm and drags her toward table* Here you go, Claire. So, tell us, how did you get started writing?

CLAIRE: I have been writing since the second grade, when I wrote my first “novel.” It was really a short story gone haywire. I stayed up all night writing it because I wanted to know the ending. It was the first time I remember being really excited about homework. I was seven years old. That should have been my first clue about what I should do for an occupation, but it wasn’t. Sadly, I spent years in “practical” desk jobs, filling out paperwork, wondering why I felt so empty.

DEBBIE: Hmmm, I’m still stuck at that practical day job. Good for you!

LAURA: Oh, wow. I can relate to that. Sometimes we take the safe route before we take that leap. Glad you did. Candy Cadillac looks wonderful. So, what was your inspiration for this story?

CLAIRE: Again, as a senior in college, I wrote a short story a few months before I graduated. It concerned a medical student’s trepidation about his career choice and was entitled “On Call.” A faculty member at St. Louis University and several classmates encouraged me to expand it into a novel, but again, I didn’t do it. Twenty years later, while cleaning out my files, I found that story. I reread it and thought, “This story might help someone else.” I began to play around with the words, and the plot and the characters. That story became The Wrong Side of Memphis,” my first mystery novel, published in 2009.

DEBBIE: Wow, twenty years. That is so great that you found it and turned it into a success. Without giving away any spoilers, could you tell us a little bit about the story?

CLAIRE: It is the story of a Vietnam vet turned PI, who has lost everything. When his wife leaves him in the first chapter, he turns to his only friend, another ‘nam vet, his best friend’s widow, Di Redding, now living in St. Louis. He decides to stay with her for a while, but as soon as he arrives, a prominent businessman is murdered in her apartment building. He ends up staying and working a lot longer than he anticipated.

DEBBIE: Interesting premise. Oh, excuse me a second Claire. Laura? Is that your third iced tea, honey?

LAURA: Maybe. They’re very tasty.

DEBBIE: Maybe you should slow down on them a little? *Turns to Claire.* Is there a romance in this story?

CLAIRE: Yes, there is. Elvin Suggs still loves his soon to be ex wife, though she has treated him badly. Other romances in other characters’ lives fill the book as well. However, they are not presented in the tradition of a romance novel, I don’t believe. This book, as well as the others in the ‘nam noir series, is a mystery novel, but the characters very much want to love and be loved.

DEBBIE: I think that is something we all have in common, wanting to love and be loved.

LAURA: Actually, our heroine in Sins of the Mind felt exactly the same way. After years of therapy due to a brutal rape, she finally reaches the point where she wants to reconnect with the world, to take a chance on love. It was really tough writing about her emotions in regards to what happened to her. What was the most difficult part of writing this book for you, Claire?

CLAIRE: Dredging up the painful memories that comprise my plot and characters. Sometimes the things that come out of their mouths astonish me. Then I have to decide whether to leave it in or delete it. I usually leave it right where it is.

DEBBIE: LOL, I love when our characters surprise us. We have one in Sins of the Mind who’s a bit of a jerk. One of those guys you love to hate, so we decided to keep him in the next book in the series. Didn’t we, Laura? Laura?

LAURA: Right here. We ran out of nuts, so I got another bowl. 
....So, Claire, how much life experience goes into your characters. Are they people you know or made up?

CLAIRE: Again, my books are almost entirely garnered from life experience—not necessarily mine, however. I like to advertise for anonymous stories in the classifieds, which I have no trouble collecting. I did this to write St. Louis Hustle, the story set at the Coral Court Motel, a local no-tell motel. As for characters, I take the strongest characteristics from 3-5 people I know and blend them into a new person. Usually results in quite a character.

DEBBIE: Where did you come up with the idea to post in the classifieds for people’s stories and how is that working for you.

CLAIRE: I have noticed this type of advertisement in the classified ads for other things, such as people wanting to meet people who survived a similar experience or suffered from a similar disease. I thought, why not experiment with Coral Courts' patrons? It was wildly successful, so much so that I have enough material for a series if I really wanted to pursue one. It works well because you can live the experience through the eyes of one who has.

DEBBIE: Advertising in the classifieds for plot lines. That is genius!

LAURA: Yes it is! And I bet you get lots of responses. I hear a lot of authors listen to music to help their creative flow…or maybe they listen to block out the chaos around them? lol What about you? Do you listen to music when you write, if so what type?

CLAIRE: No, I don’t listen to any music while I write. The characters are talking.

DEBBIE: I can certainly understand that.

LAURA: Yeah, some people—er, I mean characters yap so loud, even music can’t drown ‘em out. So, let’s switch gears to home life. Do you have any pets?

CLAIRE: Yes, I have two Airedale Terriers, “Hit the Road” Jack, and his half sister, Lola.

LAURA: Love those names! They sound like a playful pair.

DEBBIE: What do you do to relax?

CLAIRE: I play the piano—like to write music as well. I wrote the music and lyrics for the book trailer for Candy Cadillac.

DEBBIE: Oh, now that’s cool! I can’t wait to see it. Do you have any bad habits your willing to tell us about?

CLAIRE: I stay up way too late at night, usually writing, till about 2 a.m., and drink way too much caffeine. I’ve tried to write during the day, but the characters must be vampires because they just don’t talk until dark. As for the caffeine, I’m working on it—tomorrow.

LAURA: I’ve got that habit, too. I swear, the coffee calls to me…

DEBBIE: Okay, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but maybe right now coffee would be a good thing for you.
....Okay, Claire. Last question: Milkshake: Vanilla, chocolate or strawberry?

CLAIRE: Depends on the day!

DEBBIE: Ohhh, chocolate everyday!

LAURA: Milkshakes? Pft. I’ll take another ice tea!

DEBBIE: Oh shit! Her husband is going to be so mad at me. Claire, thanks for joining us it was a blast learning about you.

LAURA: Thank you so much for coming to talk with us, Claire. We wish you the very best in sales and please, come talk to us again about your next release.

DEBBIE: Yes, Claire, it was a pleasure talking to you about your new release. I've posted the blurb, excerpt and a link below.

Laura: Waiter! *Waves hand in the air.* Another round over here!

Debbie: Now, Laura!


....Mistaken identity or delicious deception? Sultry blonde Barbara Lacey saunters into the Night and Day, a St. Louis bar, where she waits hours to deliver a mysterious envelope to a man that never appears. She reluctantly entrusts it to bar owner Alfie Greenblatt, and steps into the alley. Moments later Alfie hears the crisp pop of a bullet. He calls Sergeant Reggie Combs to investigate.
....Was Barbara's death an accident, or murder? Helen Tattaglia approaches her neighbors Elvin Suggs and his partners Cobra Glynes and Dimond "Di" Redding of the Grapevine Detective Agency. She hires them to trail her "abusive" husband; she also suspects her in-laws, who live across the street, have arranged for her murder.
The detectives are skeptical but they accept the case. They soon discover Helen's sordid past, including another woman named Barbara Lacey. Frustrated with the case, Detective Reggie Combs turns to his friends at the Grapevine Detective Agency for help.
....The shady dealings of the Tattaglia family begin to unravel, while they reveal the secret in the envelope.

....The Grapevine Detective Agency Cobra lived for his past. He used to be a Marine sniper—one of the best. Was, and always would be. Now, stress and flashbacks haunted his present, and tonight—well, it nearly killed him. He stumbled into the tiny bedroom.
....Nestled in the center of the brick bungalow, it possessed the ambiance of a tomb. He snatched a prescription bottle from the nightstand drawer, and gulped two pills without water. There. For the fifty-seven year old vet, the silence felt golden. A date with Valerie Gains always sapped his strength, and what little money he had. He didn’t trust her, but for Cobra, trust was just a word, and a highly overrated one at that.
....His roommates, Elvin Suggs and Di Redding, advised him to look for “a lady with a future.” Not a bad plan in Cobra’s book, but if ’nam taught him one thing, it was this: plans could change, and usually did. All he knew was, when his plans met Valerie Gains, everything changed. According to Di, Valerie’s dope habit, together with the guys she saw on the side, made Val “unstable.” For once, Elvin agreed with her.
....Though Cobra didn’t want to admit it, they were probably right. Di was a mighty good nurse, and Elvin…well, after Cherie, he knew what “unstable” looked like, shore ’nuf. He fumbled beneath his bed and grabbed a half empty bottle of Jim Beam. A smudge tainted the only glass on the nightstand; a smashed ant might even be lying in the bottom.
....Right now, he didn’t care. His quarrel with Valerie nagged like a whining smoke alarm. Now, his friends at the Grapevine Detective Agency needed him. He settled into the double bed and closed his eyes. This job stood between this lonely room and his former life, living hand to mouth on the streets of St. Louis. Good thing they needed him. Truth was, he needed them even more.
....The shot crackled like an explosion, next to the tiny house. He slumped on the sagging mattress, and peeled the thin curtain from the paned window. The low hum of the furnace marked the seconds. What time was it? Condensation dripped from the glass onto the crackled paint on the sill.
....Cobra stared into the murky shadows and listened; and then listened some more. He definitely heard a gunshot. Rubbing his forehead, he tiptoed through the kitchen into the living room. He heard them all—angry voices of at least two men, arguments, and threats. Cobra sensed they were staying in the house next door; the one with the neighbors that never talked.
....He crept to the wide living room window and peered through the frosted glass, just in time to see the long black Cadillac speed from the curb. Driving rain flooded the narrow street. Tires squealed and the driver sped off into the night. Cobra ran his fingers across the stubble on his chin. Should he visit the house next door? He shook his head.
....What was he thinking? He didn’t know those people. Besides, they probably wouldn’t want his kind of help. His partner, Elvin, would pound on their thick front door and stick his nose right into their business. Shore nuf, he’d insist. But, he wasn’t Elvin, and he did care about making a fool of himself.
....The incident still bothered him. Where he came from, bullets weren’t acceptable sound effects. At the sound of the phone, his throat constricted. The tightness in his chest surged. He needed to relax. That old anxiety thing again, he told himself. When he picked up the receiver, no one answered. Alone in the darkness, Cobra heard shallow breathing.
....The line buzzed like a hornet. “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and dial the operator,” the recording blurted through the static.
....Cobra hung up the receiver and poured another glass of whiskey. He’d call Jim Beam.
....Thursday, 11:45 p.m. The Night and Day Lounge One glance and Alfie’s heart sank. An hour ago, jokes and music filled the room. Now, the empty space reeked of stale smoke. Slick grease hung in the air. Alf could taste it—Ugh. Ashes and cigarette butts spilled from orange plastic ashtrays, and glasses, mostly empty, littered the tables. Crumpled napkins and bits of paper nested in soiled tablecloths. The drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet pounded a sink.
....The Night and Day Lounge needed Alfie Greenblatt, and Alfie needed a job. Nights like tonight he turned a few bucks into a week’s pay. Alf bet Ed Sullivan couldn’t do any better. The smallish man idolized Ed Sullivan. Even looked a bit like him, somewhere around the chins.
....Good thing the place made money, and lots of it. Jeez, would you look at this place? Time to close, get a drink. Wait a second. Who’s the blonde in the corner? Well, he guessed he could wait. He didn’t need to close just yet, not with this mess. Not with that blonde in the corner.
....He remembered her now—raspy voice, scarlet nails. “Old-fashioned. Extra cherries on the side, please?”
Would you look at this place? Tonight’s crowd left early; they must be tired. Tired of calling strange numbers that never picked up—or worse, talking to a recording that promised to call back, but never did. Alf considered the trash, the drunks, and the quick-talkers, ready to close up, same as him. He would this very minute, except for blonde in the corner.
....He watched her for a while, and still, he didn’t understand. She didn’t touch the drink, except to grip the tumbler, the condensation slipping between her fingers. She wasn’t a bad looking gal, even if she was a little on the chunky side. Nothing wrong with broad hips. He knew plenty of guys who liked that in a woman, same as those cheekbones—and don’t forget that blonde hair.
....That’s what grabbed ’em every time. Alfie noticed that. Alfie had to admit, he never heard a woman order a drink like this lady. What did she say her name was? “Barbara. Call me Barbara,” she’d said in a voice so soft he could barely hear it.
....She stared into his eyes with a steady gaze when she spoke, and her moist lips quivered. “I’d like an old-fashioned, extra cherries. Oh, and orange slices too, if you don’t mind.” She tossed a tense half-smile in his direction and just as quickly, looked away into the shadows.
....This Barbara was a hummingbird on a high wire. Nervous type, he guessed. This had been, oh, a couple of hours ago now. Guys packed the joint. Plenty stopped at her table. Yet, none stayed. None snagged her interest. Alfie noticed that, too. All night, her red fingertips gripped that tumbler.
....Condensation dribbled on the scratched tabletop. “Hey, Barbara!” he said. “You okay?”
....Alfie wiped his hands on a striped dishtowel. For a moment, he thought he spotted a tear on her cheek. With a slight glance over her broad shoulder, she rose. She snatched her purse, a dangling black leather piece she pressed to her body. Now, she turned to leave—the last one to go. Alfie shuffled to the deserted table. One faded old-fashioned, coming right up. The red stem from the scarlet cherry floated in the glass, ragged at the end from a careless bite. The droplets from the tumbler glistened beneath the dim lights.
....“Uh, mister?” Barbara stood at the front door. The red EXIT sign glowed above her head.
....“Yeah?” Alfie considered the blonde, her gloved hand poised on the grimy doorknob. “Look lady…uh, Barbara, is it? I’d like to go home sometime tonight, you know?”
....Alfie knew he sounded impatient. He didn’t mean to, but, jeez, the type of people he got through here these days… Barbara extended her hand. Her long fingers clutched an obscure treasure. What is this? Alfie began to sweat. What does she want from me?
....“I…I waited all night, but he never came,” she murmured.
....Alfie squinted into the shadows. “What did you say?”
....“If he comes, could you give him this?”
....The jaundiced light revealed a crinkled manila envelope, sealed with tape. “Look, lady…”
....The blonde checked her watch. “You seem like a nice man, mister. I tried to give it to him myself. But, I’ve got to go now. I should have been there half an hour ago.” Barbara thrust the envelope into Alfie’s calloused hands and pushed her way into the brisk night air.
....“Where you going, lady? Who’s the lucky guy, anyways?” Without a word, she trotted along the cracked sidewalk. Neon signs glistened in her platinum hair like jewels in a tiara.
....The glow of a winter moon peeked through the clouds of the night. The narrow street looked lonely. For a moment, Alfie stood in the frigid night air, and watched her vanish into the darkness. He retreated to the warm bar. His thick fingers clutched the envelope. What should he do with it? Well, whatever it was, it couldn’t be very important. A person didn’t trust a stranger with valuable stuff. He wouldn’t. Alfie strode to the cash register and opened the drawer.
....For a second, he wanted to open the envelope, but decided against it. What did he care anyway? He shoved it into the cold cash register and locked the drawer. He felt too exhausted to care. Its owner would either show up…or not. He snatched his coat from the cramped back room, and slammed the door behind him.
....Then he heard it—the crisp pop of a gunshot. If that wasn’t a bullet, he wasn’t Alfie Greenblatt. His heart pounded like a jackhammer. His pace quickened. Heaving, he strode in the opposite direction. He knew he should have brought the car tonight, but just yesterday, the doctor told him, “Alfie, you got to get more exercise.” The muscles in his legs cramped.
....His breath wafted in puffs, and the icy air forced him to cough. He reached the pitted door to his apartment, yeah, finally. His throat constricted. He tried to swallow, but he couldn't breathe. Was he choking, or getting sick again? Oh no, not again. He couldn’t afford that. No, he was just upset. Yeah, that was it. For some dumb reason, he felt nervous. Him, Alfie Greenblatt, nervous—over what? Alfie couldn’t put his finger on it. A silly note? Some weepy woman? A bullet? Yeah, most probably the bullet.
....He jammed the key into the old lock and turned. It was a good night to stay home

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Guest Author Shelia Stewart

Debbie: Good morning all and welcome to our cyber boat trip. This morning the Ferryman is bringing us to visit Sheila Stewart in her demon world to talk about her new release Offer the Demon.
....Laura, I would appreciate it if you would stop moving around so much, you’re rocking the boat and that water doesn’t look like anything I’d want to fall into.
Laura: Are you sure you paid the right amount? That creepy dude with the hood is going to stick around and take us back, right?
Debbie: Ummm…the payment part was your end of the deal.
Laura: Wait, what?
Debbie: Laura, so help me God if we get stuck out here… That’s it! No more coffee for you.
Laura: Okay, calm down, I’ve got to find that coin, right
Debbie: Coin? That’s all you’re paying him, a single coin? You are seeing what I’m seeing, are you not? *Smacks the back of Laura’s head* And people wonder why I worry about you.
Laura: Ow!
Debbie Shush! We’re here now. Let’s just hope he’s still waiting when we’re done.

DEBBIE: Hi there, Shelia. It’s wonderful to finally have you here, and I want to apologize for the delay. I asked Laura if she wanted to go on vacation with me and invite you along, but she was too busy stargazing.

LAURA: Hmm…missed that invite. I’m blaming it on Yahoo! LOL
....Hey, Sheila! We are thrilled to have you here for a visit to our cyber observatory to chat about your next book in your Demon Series: Offer the Demon. Now that my cohort is back from her vacation – all rested and tanned I see – we’re ready to jump right back into the interviews!

DEBBIE: This freckled, fair skinned body doesn’t tan, and one-dollar Corona’s and free shots of Tequila in Mexico don’t lend to being very rested, but I’m here. Disgruntled, but here.

LAURA: Okay, hon. Here are two aspirin and some juice. Or would you prefer another Corona brought by some hottie towel boy?

DEBBIE: Hottie in a towel? That’s a big fat yes!

LAURA: Well, then let’s get a couple up here to the cyber observatory Stat! LOL
....Anyway…I’ve been trying to drag Debbie out into the vast universe so we can write some sci-fi romance stories. I hear that you like the night sky, so help me out here with convincing her. What’s your favorite part about stargazing?

SHEILA: Lying beside my hubby and watching the stars and meteor showers. I love doing it alone as well, but being with him makes it all so much more interesting. We both love to name the constellations.

LAURA: I know! At my husband’s parents’ farm, it’s dark enough to see the edge of the Milky Way streaking across the sky. We’ve also seen several instances of meteor showers. The next one, the Lyrids, is scheduled for April 21st this year. Actually, there are lots of showers for the rest of 2012, including the popular Perseids, Leonids, and Geminids.

DEBBIE: Hey, I live on a farm…well, not a working farm, but we’ve got a big white house and four red barns. Okay, so maybe one of the barns is only half red because the boys got lazy on their painting detail, but it’s still…oh, this isn’t about me is it? Okay, so, Shelia, your Bio says you grew up on a farm, too. What was best and worst thing about growing up there?

SHEILA: I have plenty of great memories from living on the farm. I think my fondest memories are when my little sister and I would take the baby pigs and dress them in doll clothes then drive them around in baby carriages.
....It was great to have all that space to run around in.
....The worst would be two things. Being woken at dawn by my siblings who went off to do the chores dealing with the livestock. Another would be hearing the coyotes and other wild animals howling outside late at night. Scared the crap out of me.

DEBBIE: Hmmm…dressing the baby pigs up in doll clothes. I guess by the time we started raising pigs, I was too old for that and the only thing about them or their mamas that sticks out in my mind was mucking out their pen. NASTY!
....So, Laura is FOREVER trying to drag me into the solar system, and I briefly read about the sun and it’s solar flares. Have you seen this occurrence?

LAURA: Oh, yeah! I’ve read that we’re going into a solar max, peaking in about 2-3 years from now. The pictures are amazing, especially the flares that leap off the Sun’s surface. They’re huge!

SHEILA: I definitely have heard about the flares. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to see them. Its either cloudy or I’m too tired to stay up. I see the images online and they look fabulous!

DEBBIE: Do you think it'll affect your writing positively, negatively, or not at all?

SHEILA: Does it affect my writing? Not at all.

LAURA: Why ya asking, Debbie? *Cough* Next chapter? *Cough*

DEBBIE: Because I am sure these solar flares are affecting your mind and overheating your brain, my dear.

LAURA: We’re not going to discuss my brain again, are we? I told you I’m perfectly normal. My parents had me tested. The results speak for themselves.

DEBBIE: Uh huh, was it a brain scan? I’ll just bet the results read NEGATIVE findings. Okay, Sheila, when and why did you start writing?

SHEILA: I’ve always loved telling tales. I would often do so for my younger sister and cousins. As I grew into my teens, I began writing as a release from stress and frustration. That soon built into more and more writing and soon my love of it took over the stress.

LAURA: Yes! Writing is an awesome stress-reliever! Plus it allows you to visit new worlds and blow stuff up without the authorities showing up asking questions.

DEBBIE: HAHAHA! I so love blowing things up and torturing people. Look at what we did to the poor saps in Sins of the Mind.

LAURA: Yes! And the things we have in mind for the next book in the Red River series? Some really twisted sh—

DEBBIE: Laura! Keep it PG-13 please!

LAURA: Er, yes, ma’am! So, Sheila… Love the cover of Offer the Demon. And the heroine, Aurora Starr. Awesome name! How did you come up with it?

SHEILA: My love of both the aurora and stars. When I was writing Awaken the Demon I knew I was going to write a sequel. I knew the lead character was going to be a female, and because Draco from Awaken the Demon chose the last name of Starr and used the ruse of the Starr Gazers to find Missy, I thought it was perfect to give her the name of Aurora Starr. Plus, it’s not a usual name, which I found perfect for a demon.

LAURA: No, it’s not common at all, which is probably why I like it!

DEBBIE: How did you come up with the storyline of a heroine that's a demon working for satan?

SHEILA: You always hear about men being tied to Satan. Movies and books usually chose the make lead dealing with the bad. I wanted something different. I wanted a strong female who would be capable of doing the job mostly held by males and one who was also pig-headed and didn’t care that her boss was the big bad. Having been a shy, young girl and woman who was raised to believe that men are the providers and women sat home and looked pretty, I always imagined what it would be like to be strong and have a job and be something other than a shadow for a man. You’ll see the females in my stories are all strong independent women.

DEBBIE: I love the idea of that and am interested to see how the hero measures up to her. I love strong heroines and Alpha males, and right now am struggling to find the right mix in our own story of a strong heroine. You’ve got me very intrigued to see how you handled it.

LAURA: Without giving away any spoilers can you tell us how Aurora came to work for the “big bad”?

SHEILA: Aurora’s father is a demon, who once worked for Satan. In my demon culture, it’s taboo to mate with a human. Because his wife Missy is part human, any child of theirs would also be a taboo. Draco and Missy had to barter with Satan to have a child. Unfortunately in order to have a child, she had to work for Satan when she turned 21. Aurora hates her job, hates her life, but she knows if she doesn’t do as Satan wants, it could have dire consequences and not just for her but her family as well.

DEBBIE: And our kids think they have it rough, lol. What about Scott? He couldn't have been too happy to learn his girlfriend was a demon.

SHEILA: You would think he’d be pissed or frightened, yet he wasn’t. Well, not as bad as he should have been. It was a shock and hard to believe for Scott, but Aurora showed him she most definitely was real. To calm himself and deal with what he’d just learned about the woman he loved, Scott gets drunk. The only thing that accomplishes is a nasty hangover. What he does after that is rather amusing…and nope, I have no intention of spilling the beans. You’ll have to read it to find out more.

LAURA: Ooo…wow! That sounds cool, and I love humor in stories for sure!

DEBBIE: LOL Sounds like a lot of fun! We hear that you like to draw and paint. What captures your imagination?

SHEILA: I love drawing two things mostly. Women’s faces and bodies as well as animals. I find the female form so interesting to draw. All those lines and curves and different shapes of eyes and lips are fascinating to me. I’ve tried drawing men but they always end up looking something crossed between Fred Flintstone and the Hunchback from Notre dam. LOL

LAURA: I love art! Do you have a picture or two we can show off for you?

SHEILA: Here is an example of one of my pictures.

LAURA: That’s a really nice leopard. I love cats.

DEBBIE: Me too. I always wanted a cougar for a pet. LOL. Great drawing, Shelia.

LAURA: To Debbie: Okay, can I ask her now?

DEBBIE: *Sigh* Go ahead, but make it good.

LAURA: On our last interview, Debbie got to ask Jessica Subject a hypothetical question. So, now I get to ask one. Ready?
....You're standing on a cliff, and fifty feet below is a rocky shore. There's crazy killer coming at you with a machete. All you have is a Popsicle stick. What do you do?

SHEILA: Ooh, this sounds like one of my works in progress. Okay, crazy killer is after me with a machete. I have nowhere to run and my only exit is a rocky death beneath me. And all you’re giving me is a measly Popsicle stick. Wow. LOL I was probably minding my own business eating the Popsicle when the lunatic came after me. So, the stick would be somewhat soft. I would chew off the tip, breaking off splinters until the tip is nice and sharp then I’d turn to the crazy machete wielding lunatic and jam the Popsicle stick into his eye. Then I’d run the opposite direction. LOL

LAURA: Excellent answer! I say you survived it! Debbie?

DEBBIE: Okay, First, all I asked Jessica was about chocolate! Where do you come up with this stuff??? Second, yeah, Shelia might survive if her soggy stick didn’t just bend and leave splinters on her tongue. Me? I’d have flashed him. He’d be so busy rolling on the ground laughing I’d be able to run right past him.

LAURA: Ooo-kay…not commenting on that! Now I have this image seared in my mind…God, I think I need another brain scan!
....Thank you so much, Sheila! It was a blast to have you here, discussing the stars and your latest book. It sounds awesome, and we wish you many sales. We hope you’ll drop back by with your next release! Psst, Deb, I just found a cold coin. I’m gonna go find the creepy hooded dude.

DEBBIE: Yes, thank you so much, Shelia for joining us today and putting up with our wackiness.
....Laura! Laura! Wait for me!!!!

Buy Link

....Twenty-one years ago a bargain was made for her existence. Twenty-one years ago was the beginning of the end.
....Born to serve Satan, Aurora Starr wishes she could lead a normal life. Being a demon, that’s not so easy to do. By night she takes the lives of those Satan chooses. Despite her hatred for her job, she knows she must continue, but all she wants is to live like a normal human.
....Enter Scott Monroe.
....Tall, blond, and gorgeous, he is more than Aurora can resist. Although mating with a human is taboo, Aurora throws caution to the wind and begins seeing Scott. But when Satan makes her choose between her family or the man she loves, Aurora has had enough.
....Will love win in the end, or will Satan damn them all?

Genre: Paranormal romance, contemporary, erotic romance
Heat level: 4
Word count: 70k

....About to approach them with his card and the usual speech, he spotted her. He wasn’t sure how he’d known it was her when she didn’t look anything like herself. Maybe it was the hair. Not many women wore it so long, long enough to graze her backside. It certainly wasn’t the clothes she wore, or lack thereof. The skirt should probably be illegal. The top—he didn’t want to even go there. It was her, there was no doubt. It was Aurora, and the way she moved to the beat of the music looked damn good.
....Her body floated, rolling in such erotic moves it had him swallowing a hard lump in his throat. And apparently, he wasn’t the only one affected. As she swayed on the dance floor seductively, men crowded around her.
....It was time he put a stop to this.
....He stepped into the crowd surrounding her and before he could take control of the situation, she leaned against his chest, wound her arms around his neck, and began gyrating.
....He probably should put an end to this, his mind was all but screaming it, but his body refused to listen. Putting his hands on her hips, he swayed to the beat with her.
....Slowly, seductively, she turned, and her eyes widened with surprise. “Scott? Well, you certainly know how to move.”
....Gathering his thoughts, Scott grabbed her by the arm, and dragged her away.
....“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
....He didn’t answer until they were outside the club and far enough away from the crowds. “Getting you out of there.”
....She jerked her arm free. “I wasn’t ready to leave.”
....“Well, now you are.” When she turned back to the noisy club, he grabbed her arm. Before she could protest, he slung her over his shoulder, getting a perfect view of those gorgeous, shapely legs. Sucking in his lust, he carried her to his car.
....“Put me down!” She wiggled, kicking her legs, which he held down for his own safety. “I said put me down!”
....He did, but not before he’d unlocked his car. Setting her in the passenger seat, he shut the door and engaged the locks with his key fob. He unlocked his door, climbed into the driver’s seat, and was instantly bombarded by her attitude.
....“What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
....He slammed the car into drive and sped off. “Taking you home.”