Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolutions by the Numbers

Top 10 New Year’s resolutions
  1. Lose Weight
  2. Stop smoking
  3. Stick to a budget
  4. Save more money
  5. Find a better job
  6. Become more organized
  7. Exercise More
  8. Be more patient at work/with others
  9. Eat Better
  10. Become a better person
-Compiled by the Toronto Star Library

Top 5 reasons people fail to keep their resolutions
  1. Go big or go home syndrome. eg: "I'm going to lose thirty pounds so I can wear a bikini on holiday next month." "I'm going to work out 20 hours every week." "I'm going to save enough money to buy that Lamborghini I want and still send my kids to Harvard." (Also see #3)
  2.  Fuzzy-wuzzy goals. Take any of the top ten resolutions as example. There's no how, when or where and the what is so vague as to be meaningless.
  3. Reality check needed. Sure, anyone can try to do anything, but the people who do well learn about the task first. For instance, if being more organized came naturally to you, you wouldn't have to make a resolution about it. But there's lots of information out there about reducing clutter, organizing time and materiel and how to do it in stages so it doesn't overwhelm the naturally disorganized person.
  4. Other people. There are a few ways other people can undermine your resolutions and only one of them is their fault. If you decide that it isn't just you that needs to work out, your spouse needs to exercise too, don't expect them to go along with your plans. If your friends order doubles at the bar and you make do with soda and lime, it's not their problem (but get their keys). On the other hand, if your buddy keeps offering you cigarettes (or alcohol or cream puffs or whatever) and tells you it's too late to worry about your health, drop them like a burning coal. Now. I mean it.
  5. Resolution - or lack thereof. This isn't about willpower or never stumbling. We all stumble. We all have setbacks. For most of us, this results in the temptation to wallow in self-pity and to quit. Okay, I ate too much chocolate* today and I'm suffering for it. Tomorrow I'll do better. In fact, I'll start doing better right now because frankly, my stomach is too upset to face anything but water and an antacid. 
- Compiled by me using course work, a bunch of boring references and common sense.


(*Note: See Pop Culture Divas for my chocolate resolution.)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Romance Before Christmas

Countdown Sale on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

Twas the night before Christmas 
And eReaders were stocked

With the following romance
Novels that rocked

Near Lake Athabaska
A waitress named Sadie
Was sipping hot chocolate
Reading LANCELOT’S LADY

In Bridgeport, Connecticut
An ER physician
Was taking a break
Reading BLONDE DEMOLITION

On a top secret base
Watching spy drone flyovers
An agent surreptitiously
Reads CHASING CLOVERS

In a nursing home in Florida
In a room down the hall
I'm sure someone is reading
ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL

A file clerk in Moncton
Who's never travelled far
Has gone back in time
With UNDER A TEXAS STAR

And at Pierson Airport
In a long ticket line
A homeward bound student
Reads SWEET KAROLINE

And each of these readers
Though not obvious at first glance
Has all of these books in
SWEET & SENSUAL ROMANCE


1. LANCELOT’S LADY by Cherish D'Angelo/Cheryl Kaye Tardif – A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

2. BLONDE DEMOLITION by Chris Redding – Mallory Sage lives in a small, idyllic town where no one, not even her fellow volunteer firefighters, knows about her past life as an agent for Homeland Security. But a twisted serial killer has found her, as well as her former partner and lover, Trey McCrane. Now Mallory and Trey are on the run, and time is running out.

3. CHASING CLOVERS by Kat Flannery – Mail-order bride, Livy Green, is desperate to escape the memories of her past. John Taylor will never love another woman again, but his children need a mother. As Livy's past catches up with her and suspicious accidents begin to happen on the ranch, she is tempted to tell John the truth. But will he send her back if she does?

4. ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL by Melodie Campbell – When Rowena falls through her classroom wall and lands in an alternate world, she doesn't count on being kidnapped―not once, but twice―and the stakes get higher as the men get hotter. Unwanted husbands keep piling up, but that doesn't stop her from falling for the wrong brother. Good thing she can go back through the wall. Or can she?

5. UNDER A TEXAS STAR by Alison Bruce – When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice―even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him. Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese. Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together, yet fate plots to tear them apart.

6. SWEET KAROLINE by Catherine Astolfo – Anne Williams says she killed her best friend, Karoline. But did she? Or is there more to Karoline's mysterious death than meets the eye? Anne embarks on a compelling journey to discover her past and exposes an unusual history, horrific crimes and appalling betrayals.

 Available around the world...
But on sale in the US and UK

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Deadly Dozen Redux


Have you ever looked at a book title and imagined what it might be about without looking at the blurb and finding out? Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance, might be a how-to book about decorating executive offices.

How about looking at twelve titles and making them into one story?

Bob The Bridgeman sat in his booth taking tolls all day. Between cars, he worked on his Sociology essay on the Deadly Legacy of imperialism on third world economies.

He was just composing a brilliant closing line to his introduction when he was interrupted by a text message from his sister. She had just found A Purse to Die for and could he lend her a hundred bucks.

Train of thought derailed, Bob turned his attention to Cheat the Hangman, a role playing game he was developing with his college roommate. They had their steam punk world all worked out, but were having problems with A Human Element, their main non-player character: Lakota Honor.

Suddenly a pickup truck ran the toll gate. Bob speed dialed the OPP and took note of what details he could see. It was a late model, white Chevy Silverado with a Pelican Bay logo painted on the side. That was the resort down the road on Safe Harbor.

A moment later, a black Ford Explorer came through, lights flashing. When he got through to the dispatcher, he was able to tell her that a police vehicle was already in pursuit.

"What is it about that bridge that attracts so much trouble?" Bob asked. "I'm beginning to think you arrange for these incidents to happen when I'm on shift so you can talk to me."

The dispatcher huffed. "That's a fine thing to say on a call that's being recorded. You're going to get me fired or worse. I'll be here today and just Soul and Shadow tomorrow."

"I was just joking. Joking is one of the Innocent Little Crimes."

"Say that when you joke your way into the Room of Tears."

"Does this mean you won't go out with me Saturday night?"

"Only with Divine Intervention."

Reviews for the books in Deadly Dozen:


"You won't catch your breath until the last page [of The Bridgeman] turns."--Lou Allin, author of She Felt No Pain

"Deadly Legacy grips your attention from the first page...a treat for the senses." --Garry Ryan, award-winning author of Malabarista

"[A Purse to Die For has a] page-turning pace, fascinating characters, sly wit, and a plot that will keep you guessing." --Janet Bolin, Agatha-nominated author of Dire Threads

"Cheat the Hangman is a refreshing and chilling paranormal mystery you won't want to miss." ―Jeff Bennington, author of Reunion

"A Human Element is an elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart. Highly recommended." --Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Code Zero

"Transport back to the old west with this paranormal historical [Lakota Honor], and its alpha hero, and a heroine hiding her secret talents." --Shannon Donnelly, author of the Mackenzie Solomon Urban Fantasy series

"Christiansen offers a tale sure to entrance readers--a story of love and wisdom and the mystery of a forgotten graveyard under the waters of Pelican Bay." --Man Martin, author of Paradise Dogs

"[Safe Harbor] offers a coherent structure, an exact feel for the Toronto locales, and, in Pat, a hugely attractive sleuth figure." --Toronto Star
"Soul and Shadow is a deep and complex tale of deceit, danger and love. Well plotted and extremely engaging...so engrossing that I couldn't put it down." --Romance Junkies

"Revenge is indeed a dish best served cold in this fast-paced, thrilling story...[Innocent Little Crimes is] a page-turning thrill-ride that will have readers holding their breath the whole way through." --Publishers Weekly

"[Room of Tears is] a beautiful and gut wrenching story...Miss Merlino weaves a flawless tale that will have you sobbing by the end of the book." --#1 New York Times Bestselling Author Rachel Van Dyken, author of The Bet

"Great imagination, fabulous imagery...This chilling page-turner [Divine Intervention] is a genuine Canadian crime novel...Tardif gives her readers plenty of twists and turns before reaching a satisfying ending." --Midwest Book Review


 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Dear Santa


 "May you live in interesting times."

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a Chinese curse or even Chinese. But it can be a bit of a curse.

For instance, after finalizing a manuscript that includes a character suffering a concussion, my son got a concussion. Interesting. The writer in me wonders why he couldn't have done this while I was in the editing process so I could use the first hand knowledge I've gained. (The mother in me wants to slap the writer silly.)

Twenty-two years ago, when I first had Bell's Palsy, I was told that I'd never have to go through it again. Ten years later, I was told that I wasn't supposed to get it again. Ten years after that, the same thing. Two years later, I found out that it is rare for Bell's Palsy to affect someone twice, but if they get it twice, they might get it a third time. However, only a tiny proportion of those people ever suffer it again.

I'm one of the rare few. Interesting.

When I was an adolescent, I actually wished for my life to be more interesting. By this time I had traveled to Mexico, across Canada, to London, Paris, Rome and through what used to be Yugoslavia. My life was already pretty interesting, I just didn't appreciate it. My day-to-day life was safe, stable and financially secure. I didn't know a good thing when I had it.

So, dear Santa, my Christmas wish is for my family to have good health and to enjoy less stress.I'm not against adventure, but I could do without the curse of Interesting Times.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Poppy Days

Poppies at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Remembering...


When I was in university, I went through an ambivalent phase when it came to wearing the poppy and Remembrance Day. It wasn't that I didn't honour the service of veterans so much as I wondered how much good came of the campaign as a fund-raiser. Were we financing more monuments to the glory of war?

Seaman Nelson Bruce, 1940
A veteran and member of the Royal Canadian Legion set me straight. Though monuments are raised "To our glorious dead", no veteran, whether they saw combat or not, believes that war is glorious. The poppy may symbolize the dead, but the poppy campaign is to serve the living.

The money raised by selling poppies helps the Legion help veterans in need.  Many years later, the Legion purchased a lift chair for my father after a major stroke. That chair helped him stay home for a few more years and was a great asset when it went with him to the nursing home. For my father and other veterans, the Legion fills the gap between what is needed and what veterans' benefits and health care provides.



My father has passed on and his chair is helping another veteran somewhere, but I am still a benefactor in the Legion's work.

Poppy money also aids the Navy League, Sea, Air and Army Cadets. These programs keep participating youth active and engaged, as well as encouraging good citizenship, teaching Canadian history, and practical skills -- not unlike Guides and Scouts which I grew up with, but more financially accessible.

Cadet Sam Bruce-Ireland, 2012
Membership,  programming -- which includes camping, sailing and band -- and kit (2 uniforms, gym gear, coat, boots and even socks) are supplied free of charge, thanks in part to contributions made possible by the poppy campaign. The way my son grows, I wouldn't be able to afford to keep him outfitted otherwise.

My father served in the Royal Canadian Navy in World War II. My aunt was in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. My mother was in the Observer Corps. My grandfather was in the Royal Air Force. Kids I knew when I managed a comic book store served in Afghanistan.

So, I wear the poppy to remember. But I stick extra change in the boxes because I know it's going to a good cause.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Scary Stuff

What Scares Me...

I used to have nightmares about wild animals loose in my bedroom. Evidently, tigers were a favourite for showing up. They came when my parents were out and I was left with my Nana. She used to shoot them for me.

I don't remember any of that.

I do remember my closet door. It never closed properly. The darkness escaping that slightly open door freaked me out at night. Pulling the covers over my head was the only escape.

Through my closet was the way up to the attic. We lived in an old home which creaked ominously as it settled at night. Racoons and squirrels regularly found their way into our eaves. There was a lot of aural fodder for a creative young girl's imagination.

Later, when I moved up to the attic, I became enured those natural sounds. But, before I fully opened my walk-in-closet door, I'd reach in and turn on the light. And before going to bed, I made sure the door was fully closed and latched.

To this day, I like doors to be full open or fully shut. In between gives me the willies.

Related to closets, I don't like toilet lids left up. This isn't just the usual women's complaint about men leaving the seat up causing awkward moments when we sit without looking. I want the lid down too. That dark hole in the bottom of the bowl can be as bad as the shadows in a closet.

It's not that I believe the urban legends about snakes and the like coming up through the drains... at least I don't think it's going to happen to me here in Ontario... but you never know. (Anyway, it was a good story to tell my son to get him to put the lid down.)

Ghosts, in comparison, don't scare me. Well, I'm sure they could if they tried, but so can my children.

I saw my first ghost when I was six. It was my grandmother coming to say good-bye the night she died. Actually, that's the last ghost I saw. When my mother-in-law visited, I never saw her exactly. I just knew she was there checking up on her son. I could sense when she came and went and knew when she had moved on, satisfied that Ross was okay. (He was very sick at the time.) She made me a little nervous, of course, but my live father-in-law scared me more.

From www.ghosthuntersofguelph.com
I've sensed other ghosts since then, but they've always been people I had a close connection with. One day I'm going to go on the Ghost Walk in downtown Guelph and see if I can meet some strange ghosts. The Albion Hotel, our oldest extant tavern, has several, including one of Al Capone's mistresses. Local legend says Capone used to stop at the Albion during (smuggling) business trips.

 True or not, we have enough spectral action to have our own Ghost Hunters of Guelph whose goal is "is to reduce fear of the spirit world by increasing ones understanding of spirit energy."

Vampires, werewolves, and other creatures of the night make great stories and fun costumes for Halloween. Until I meet one, I don't think I'll worry about being scared of them. Even in stories, it's not the monsters but monstrous actions that are really frightening. If anything, having a monster to kill gives us a cure for our fear.

Or does it?

What scares you?


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Question of Image

Venus Looking in the Mirror by Rubens
Adding up the Figures

October is Women's History Month in Canada.

I was trying to think of something to write  on the subject. Not coming up with anything on my own, I asked my fourteen year old son. He suggested I talk about how the fashion for different types of women's figures has changed over the years.

I've often said I was born in the wrong century. This is untrue. Peter Paul Rubens was born in the wrong century. I'm sure he'd prefer the twenty-first century with indoor plumbing and modern medicine more than I'd enjoy seventeenth century Europe during the Thirty Years War.

Speaking of war, one of few benefits of World War I and II were the changes to the status of women. Being called upon to do "men's work" in the factories, shipyards and in the military, changed how women saw themselves and how they were portrayed in the media. The muscular Rosie the Riveter comes to mind. Photos of sturdy young women were used to promote the Land Army. Attractive but business-like women in uniform were used to entice recruits for the women's army, navy and air force auxiliaries.

Canadian expat Elizabeth Arden was commissioned to create makeup set for the US Marines Auxiliary. The cosmetic maven promoted good health as well as the right makeup to achieve beauty. The clear message was that women could be pretty and useful at the same time.

Post World War II, an equally vigorous campaign was waged to send women back to the kitchen. What real women wanted was a new washing machine or vacuum cleaner, not independence. It wasn't enough to be pretty, you had to be glamorous. The model of beauty became Marilyn Monroe and Jane Mansfield.

Young women exercised to chants of "We must... we must... we must develop our busts." Lifting a separating was important. Tight sweaters and big skirts were in vogue. (Not unlike tight, rip-able bodices and bustles a century before.)

At least Marilyn Monroe and her contemporary pinups* were meatier than the average starlet these days. That trend started with Twiggy. She popularized the notion that you can't be too skinny.

The frail, almost anorexic look isn't new. Lord Byron made it popular with his passion for Caroline Lamb. But you had to be a member of the small number of elite to have the time and inclination to subsist on a diet of vinegar and wafers. The thin poor didn't choose to starve themselves.

It took mass media to get a hold on the collective women's conscious and convince them they didn't look right. Too fat. Too flat. Too sort. Too tall. Too not like the models seen in ads. With the help of Photoshop, the models don't look like the ads either.

So, will the pendulum of fashion and history swing the other way? Or will we look beyond fashion to define beauty?

[* Note: I have a great deal of respect for Marilyn Monroe's ability as a comedic actor. For that matter, I don't have anything against Twiggy. I do object to how they were used to objectify women in order to sell products. Advertisers should stick to kittens and cartoon bears to do that.]

Monday, October 6, 2014

Book Tour

The Long and Deadly Road


For the month of October, the DEADLY DOZEN authors are on the virtual road with a Pump Up Your Book book tour. I'll be at Beyond the Books on Wednesday October 8.


Monday, October 6

Book Featured at Bound 2 Escape

Book Featured at Maureen’s Musings

Tuesday, October 7

Interview at The Writer’s Life (Cheryl Kaye Tardif)

Wednesday, October 8

Interview at Beyond the Books (Alison Bruce)

Thursday, October 9

Interview at I’m Shelf-ish (Donna Galanti)

Friday, October 10

Interview at As the Page Turns (Catherine Astolfo)

Monday, October 13

Interview at The Dark Phantom (Linda Merlino)

Tuesday, October 14

Interview at Review From Here (Rosemary McCracken)

Book Featured at CBY Book Club

Wednesday, October 15

Book Featured at I Heart Reading

Thursday, October 16
Book Featured at Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Monday, October 20

Interview at Literarily Speaking (Kat Flannery)

Tuesday, October 21

Interview at Deal Sharing Aunt (Gloria Ferris)

Wednesday, October 22

Book Featured at Carol’s Notebook

Thursday, October 23

Interview at The Book Rack (C.S. Lakin)

Monday, October 27

Book Review at My Life, Loves and Passion

Book Featured at Jersey Girl Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 28

Interview at Straight From the Author’s Mouth (Susan J. McLeod)

Wednesday, October 29

Book Review at Hezzie D’s Books and Cooks

Thursday, October 30

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz (Cynthia St-Pierre & Melodie Campbell)

Friday, October 31

Interview at Lori’s Reading Corner (Jesse Giles Christensen)

Book Featured at Booklover Sue

Book Review at Undercover Book Reviews

Monday, September 29, 2014

Creativity: Fertile Soil

On a regular basis, writers get asked where their ideas come from. The ideas are all around us, like seeds blown on the wind. When they land on me, they generally find fertile soil, which is to say I am well composted and full of ...

Deadly Beginnings

It was a bright, sunny day. I sat under a beer umbrella in the square drinking Sleeman Cream Ale from a plastic cup. Guelph was celebrating it’s annual Multicultural Festival and I was celebrating the end of a long hot day. In no hurry to go anywhere, I pulled out my notebook and started writing...

It was a bright, sunny day. I sat under a beer umbrella in the square drinking Sleeman Cream Ale from a plastic cup. The beer was warm. I’d been nursing it for an hour, waiting for my client to leave his office.

So started my first draft of Deadly Legacy. When I decided to set the story in the near future, bright and sunny gave way to incessant rain as a nod to Blade Runner. It took a while before “the client” got a name, but his physical description was cemented that first day.

His pale face was a map of worry lines and a fixed frown. He wore one of those endurable overcoats and a matching hat, both advertised as 'guaranteed to protect your clothes from anything nature or environmental pollution throws at you.' It made the short, stocky man look like a walking tent.

The walking tent was really a man in his eighties. His coat probably fit him just fine when he bought it. Both hat and coat were almost certainly Endurables. Nothing else would have held up for so long. The short, stocky, worried man was wearing a business suit and had just walked out of a bank. The client was like Frankenstein’s monster, made from gathered parts. Not so the detectives.

Kate Garrett and Jake Carmedy came to me in a dream. If I tried, I could probably deconstruct the different elements that got mashed together. I know that our dream are a result of our minds making sense (more or less) of the flotsam and jetsam of nightly mental housekeeping. But, from the start, Carmedy and Garrett were more than the sum of their parts. They were real characters in search of a story... a story that had been started, years earlier, on a bright sunny day.


Deadly Legacy is available as part of the Deadly Dozen Collection as well as being a stand-alone novel.






Sunday, September 14, 2014

Deadly Dozen Book Bundle

ONLY 2 MORE DAYS TO GET THE PRE-ORDER PRICE!



 IT'S BIG! 
It's very, very big.
And it's only $3.99 until September 15 

The DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle contains 12 complete mystery/thriller novels by award-winning and international bestselling authors.

  1. THE BRIDGEMAN by Catherine Astolfo
  2. DEADLY LEGACY by Alison Bruce
  3. A PURSE TO DIE FOR by Melodie Campbell & Cynthia St-Pierre
  4. CHEAT THE HANGMAN by Gloria Ferris
  5. A HUMAN ELEMENT by Donna Galanti
  6. LAKOTA HONOR by Kat Flannery
  7. PELICAN BAY by Jesse Giles Christiansen
  8. SAFE HARBOR by Rosemary McCracken
  9. SOUL AND SHADOW by Susan J. McLeod
  10. INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES by C. S. Lakin
  11. ROOM OF TEARS by Linda Merlino
  12. DIVINE INTERVENTION by Cheryl Kaye Tardif

With an individual list price total of more than $45.00 and over 640 reviews collectively on Amazon.com, the DEADLY DOZEN Book Bundle is a value-packed, rollercoaster thrill ride that takes you from amateur sleuth to detective to paranormal to ancient mysteries set in intriguing worlds and so much more.

 Readers say...

"I have to say that Catherine Astolfo is my favorite mystery author ever! I find it hard to find mysteries out there that combine both intriguing story lines and twists and turns that aren't expected with amazing characters and subplots that keep you hooked." (THE BRIDGEMAN)

"Alison Bruce has concocted a complex and very interesting plot and delivered it in a fast-paced story with well-developed and realistic characterization." (DEADLY LEGACY)

"The words seemed to leap off the page. A fun read with a kick-ass original ending. I didn't see it coming. Blew my guess of whodunit out of the water. If you read for plot, this is a great book."  (A PURSE TO DIE FOR)

"I completely immersed myself in this well-written book enjoying every minute. It was definitely deserving of being short-listed for the Crime Writers of Canada "Unhanged Arthur"." (CHEAT THE HANGMAN)

"I completely fell in love with this book. Donna Galanti gives life to her characters, they live and breath on these pages." (A HUMAN ELEMENT)

"Lakota Honor is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone that loves a good historical romance. It has just the right amount of mystery, adventure, and romance that makes for a highly entertaining read." (LAKOTA HONOR

"The tone and atmosphere gave me a haunting feeling about old secrets better left untouched. If you're looking for a different mystery, give this one a try. Recommended." (PELICAN BAY)

"Safe Harbor cracks open the mystery suspense genre with a twist, a female amateur detective solving crimes the new fashioned way with her skills as a seasoned financial adviser." (SAFE HARBOR)

"Soul And Shadow, by Susan J. McLeod, is a gem of a book, a treasure trove of enjoyment packed into a mere 124 pages. The story is compelling, mysterious and beautiful, yes, but the writing is also impressive." (SOUL AND SHADOW)

"A cross between Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" and William Golding's "The Lord fo the Flies," Ms. Lakin's story is a chilling account of what happens when you bully the wrong person." (INNOCENT LITTLE CRIMES)

"Her writing is musical and her characters are real, their stories linger long after the reader has turned the last page of the book." (ROOM OF TEARS)

"Finally, a Canadian novel by a Canadian author that captures Canadiana in its finest. Cheryl Kaye Tardif's most recent novel is comparative to Nora Roberts' "In Death" series that is penned under the pseudonym of 'J.D. Robb'." (DIVINE INTERVENTION)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Guest Poster - Laurence St. John

I promised Laurence St. John, a fellow "Imajineer" and author of the Metatron series, a spot on this blog a while back and thank heavens he remembered because the summer ate my brain.

At the age of 23 and after three years of dedication, hard work and sweat, in 1988, I received my first-degree black belt (Shodan) in Tae Kwon Do. This gave me the self-confidence and perseverance needed to surmount anything that came my way. That is why my main character, Tyler, is involved with martial arts. I have personal knowledge of Tae Kwon Do therefore it was fun creating a character with this great ability.
Question to readers: Have you ever taken any type of martial arts class? If not, would you like too?
 While working in the steel industry, my place of employment changed hands for the third time. Fortunately I was able to retain my job.

In the same year my first granddaughter Kendall was born. This was one of the most uplifting moments of my life. It was at this time when I became inspired as well as determined to write my penned-up thoughts on paper.

A few years later, and many hours of writing, editing, revising and re-editing, it was finished. This journey had many bumps and curves in the road but at the end, it was all worth it.
Book 2 Now Available


One ruthless demon faces one relentless teenager…

Thirteen-year-old Tyler Thompson is on the verge of becoming a superhero, but he must prove himself so he can earn the remainder of his superpowers and fulfill his destiny.

When his grandfather, Benjamin, is held prisoner at AREA 51, where the eternal powers are presumed to be hidden, Tyler attempts to penetrate the base’s heavy security. However, Dr. Mason Payne, the evil scientist who killed Tyler's father, has insidious plans of his own.

Hunted by an unknown entity, Tyler races against the clock to retrieve the superpowers, rescue his family and help the others who are depending on him. And when all hope seems lost, help comes in a power he didn’t know he possessed—a mysterious weapon known as The Mystical Blade.

Get METATRON: The Mystical Blade for only $3.99!

If you have a chance, I would be grateful if you could write a Customer Review. It should only take a few minutes of your time - Thank-you.

Enter a chance to win an ebook or $120.00 Amazon Gift Card – click on link

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/04f1211/

Book 1
Book 1 of the series is also available on Amazon.

METATRON: The Angel Has Risen


Find the author, Laurence St. John, here:

Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer Short from Alison Bruce

Hot Summer Night

On a hot summer's night
Would you offer your neck
To the wolf with the red roses?
Meatloaf

It was a hot summer night and the ride to Sheffield had produced an very unladylike sweat. Not sweat, I mentally corrected myself. "Horses sweat. Men perspire. Ladies glow." I was glowing in rivulets down my neck.

Mother, of course, was dry as a bone. She removed the scarf that kept her hair perfectly quaffed and tweaked the curls that had got loose. Everyone said that she didn't look old enough to be our mother. But then everyone wanted to stay in her good graces so she would play the piano when the band took a break.

My sister was not with us. She was training with the Auxiliary Territorial Service. I had mixed feelings about this. I was proud of her, of course. She was off doing her bit for the war effort. I was envious. She was off, away from mother. Though for my sister, mother wasn't as big a problem. She was mother's darling. I was also nervous, not so much for her sake as mine. This was the first dance I'd be flying solo after two years of being her wing man in a village surrounded by airfields.

I patted my neck dry with my handkerchief before we went into the hall. Our first stop was the cloak room followed by a visit to the ladies so we could repair our make up. Powder blotted up the last of my "glow" and, if I do say so myself, with extra lipstick and liner, I was looking pretty good.

Mother made her entrance ahead of me and was quickly caught up in her social circle. Bunny found me soon after and bought me a gin and tonic at the bar.

"You look smashing!" he said. "Give us a twirl. You have a real talent with the needle, Jo."

I gave him a peck on the cheek. "And you're the best friend a girl could have."

"You aren't wrong there, sweetie. I have a tall, dark handsome fly-boy who wants to meet you. He's new to our squadron and I promised to introduce him to the most charming girl in the village."

I was immediately suspicious. Although the ratio of men to girls was such that I never lacked a dance partner, handsome pilots were actively sought after. Bunny was right, though. He was tall and quite good looking in boyish way. He was also American.

"Jack here is an ex-pat," Bunny explained. "He volunteer for the RAF while the rest of the Yanks were sitting on their thumbs."

"My mother is English," said Jack. "War bride from the war that was supposed to end all wars."

I liked him immediately.

"Wanna dance?"

I let Jack lead me to the floor. He really knew how to cut a rug and I was glowing again. At this point, I would have excused myself to powder my nose and remove my stockings. Silk was needed for parachutes so stockings were a precious commodity.  However, last dance, without my stockings to hold it in place, my roll-on rolled up and snapped my dance partner on the hand. I did not want that happening again. Besides, the band was playing a slow waltz and  Jack had his arm around me again.

It was a magic evening. I didn't dance with Jack again that first set, but he was always nearby when the music stopped. When the band took a break and my mother was persuaded (as she always was) to play a few songs on the piano, Jack suggested we take a walk in the fresh air.

"Look at that moon," said Jack.

I looked. It was full and partially covered with clouds. "Pretty."

"Pretty spooky," said Jack. "Have you ever noticed that the moon always looks like that in horror movies? If they show a moon like that in the sky, you know something weird is about to happen. A werewolf will howl. A ghost will flit across the moor..."

"If it's a werewolf movie, there has to be a full moon," I pointed out. "That's when the werewolf turns."

"Fair enough. But ghosts and goblins and mummies don't need a full moon. Vampires make sense though."

"Why's that?"

"Have you seen Dracula? Wolves and werewolves are the vampire's creatures of the night."

A neighbourhood dog howled. I shivered.

"Cold?"

"A little."

He took off his jacket and draped it over my shoulders, leaving his arm there. I suddenly felt much warmer.

"You like horror pics?"

"Love them." Jack leaned his head toward me. "Sometime I think it would be wonderful to have supernatural powers. Vampires have it made."

"They can't go out in the sun."

"But they have super reflexes and strength.They also can't be killed by bullets and they can turn into mist when in danger."

I could see the attraction that would be for a fighter pilot who's life expectancy was something I tried not to think about. I lifted my face to look at this lovely boy who I might never see again after tonight. Jack took that as an invitation to kiss me.

A few moments later, slightly breathless, I said, "I can see the attraction of being vampire, but I wouldn't want to give up G&Ts for blood."

"Not a problem."

Jack dipped his head and I lifted mine for another kiss, but he nuzzled my neck instead. It was lovely until I felt two sharp points against my skin.

"No!" I screeched and pushed him away. Turning so fast I almost lost my shoe, I ran back toward the hall. Jack was calling out to me, but I was too scared to stop and listen.

I dashed straight to the powder room and checked my neck in the mirror. No bite marks but there were two crescent shaped divots... fingernail marks.

Forcing myself to be calm, I powdered my nose and applied fresh lipstick. Later, when Jack found me and tried to explain, I laughed and told him I knew it was a joke all along. Silently, I hoped I'd never see him again.

And I didn't.

Pity.


This story is based on a true one told by my mother. However, I have no idea what happened to the fellow who pulled the trick on her, or even if he was a pilot. I trust he didn't die as a result of narrative causality.


Alison Bruce has had many careers and writing has always been one of them. Copywriter, editor and graphic designer since 1992, Alison has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher, webmaster and arithmetically challenged bookkeeper. She is the author of mystery, suspense and historical western romance novels.

 Alison can be found at:
www.alisonbruce.ca
www.facebook.com/alisonbruce.books
and here.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Summer Short with Annamarie Bazi

Mackinaw Island Adventure

I didn’t want to go. Summer without friends would suck. Boredom would kill me for sure.

“But, Mom, there’s nothing to do on that forsaken island.”

“You’ll be going to visit your grandmother and I don’t want to hear another peep out of you.”

Those words sealed my fate that summer.

I’d never been to Mackinaw Island. Nothing Google couldn’t fix. A few searches later I learned the island was up in northern Michigan in Lake Huron and was a popular tourist attraction. Maybe I could create an interesting adventure for myself.

The dreary mist started the minute I got off the boat on the island and I sank into my grandmother’s open arms. When I pulled away I noticed gorgeous blue eyes staring at me.

“Granma,” I whispered. “Who is that boy?” But when she turned he had disappeared.

My mission: to find the guy and discover his story.

Grandma lived on a hill in a stunning Victorian home overlooking the clear blue waters of Huron. The island was amazing.

The cool breeze coming from the lake had me pulling on the sweatshirt I brought with me to make grandma happy.

“Pumpkin, it’s pretty chilly on the island,” she had said, sending me back up stairs to get a sweater.

In the storage room I found a brand new five-speed bike—corral, my favorite color.

A little tag hung from the handle bar. I pulled it off. It read: Enjoy the island, Grandma. How sweet! Mom had told me the best way to get around the island was biking. Rolling it out on the brick sidewalk, I hopped on, pedaling away. Not wanting to be in the center of town, where all the confusion and tourists hung out watching a few stores make fudge, I rolled the opposite way, finding myself on a quiet road next to sandy beaches. Stopping, I decided to sit on the white sand and contemplate the blue waters.

From out of nowhere, so it seemed, the guy I’d see when I arrived, stood to the side watching me. His eyes bluer than the ocean never left my face.

I stood and walked over, but as I got closer he seemed to float away. The distance between us was always the same. He never moved his feet. My heartbeat so hard he could hear it from where he stood. How could this be possible?

“Why are you doing this to me?”

I looked him over and took a step back. Just about then, I should have turned around and run. He didn’t have a solid form. No way. Ghosts don’t exist. Rubbing my eyes didn’t help.

“Don’t be afraid. I’m not here to hurt you.”

My eyes opened so wide they could have fallen out of their sockets.

He extended a hand.

Did he really think I would take it? Utterly crazy! Anyway, I was frozen in place. Never had I felt so much fear.

Those eyes, though, were so hypnotic I couldn’t look away. The blue streamed from his eyes to surround me in a surreal dim light. The sand disappeared, engulfed by a blue void. Nothing was left.

“Come, I won’t hurt you.” His lips never moved.

At last, I found my voice. It shook. “What…are…you?”

“Don’t worry about technicalities. Come with me.”

He moved closer and without realizing it, my hand was in his.

A gentle breeze swept my caramel hair away from my face.

“We’re moving!” I pivoted to grab a fist full of his shirt.

“Relax.”

When all the blue hue vanished, the sky had a lemony yellow tint to it, the trees, taller than any I’d ever seen, touched the sky with deep green leaves.

Nothing seemed real. “Where are we?”

“In my world.”

“I don’t understand.”

He looked at me with sad blue eyes. “In your world I’m invisible, but here I’m real, I can touch you.” And he did. He caressed my check with feather light fingers. A chill ran down my spine. “I’ve watched you for a while hoping to get a chance like this to show myself to you.”

I had no idea what to make of it. For all I knew I was in bed dreaming.

He took me in his embrace. Soft, warm lips caressed mine. His breath filled my nostrils with a spicy scent. One hand moved up and down my back, in slow motion.

When I opened my eyes, I was back on the beach, alone.

I never spoke of my encounter, believing that if I didn’t talk about it, it never really happened. Whenever I closed my eyes I still felt his lips on mime. It took me several days before courage urged me back to the beach. It was the first time I was alone since the first encounter. The beach looked safe that day, so I ventured to sit on the white sand once more. The water was blue and so clear. Not a wave disturbed the lake.

Movement caught my eye and, looking to the side, there he was once again, moving toward me.

Without a word he sat beside me and took my hand in his, kissing it.

“It’s amazing how you’ve never noticed me at school.”

“We go to the same school?”

“Godwin High.”

I turned away ashamed that popularity had turned me so blind.

His arm wrapped around my shoulder and I leaned my head against his chest, as my heart fluttered.

He tilted my chin upward, brushing my lips with his.

It wasn’t my first kiss, but it certainly made me feel different. Twisting in his arms, I brought mine around his neck. He pulled me on his lap.

The joy of our encounters lasted the whole summer

Pulling away he asked, “When we go back to school, will you still ignore me?”

My head still spun from making out. All I could do was stare and shake my head no.


Staring in the mirror, I liked what I saw. The new high-waisted shorts looked amazing with the sheer, flowy tops. Mom wouldn’t let me out of the house with it, so I wore a black cami underneath.

I arrived early on purpose and sat outside, waiting. Sure enough, those blue eyes appeared and he came toward me with a big smile.

Annamaria Bazzi spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.
 Blog: www.annamariabazzi.com