Friday, December 21, 2012

Welcome Javier Robayo and The Gaze!

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As a sophomore in college, Samantha Reddick meets Tony Amaya, a brokenhearted young man, whose written words she keeps as a memento of a weekend long affair. The words, written on the back of a paper placemat, become her only solid ground during a tumultuous decade that nearly destroys her, leaving her searching for answers at the bottom of the bottle. Haunted by guilt and the constant menace from a man she once loved, Samantha searches for Tony and inserts herself into his life through an online friend request to his wife, Gwen. Mutual curiosity opens the door to an unexpected friendship that becomes the catalyst of an inner battle between the better woman Samantha longs to be, and the Samantha who despises her own gaze.

Tony didn’t look nervous at all. Meanwhile I was awash in uneasiness at the prospect of bringing him into my dorm.

The story, all I want is the story and to find out what motivates such passionate writing, that’s all. Just the story…

Liar…

I felt shaky while he walked. In contrast, his breathing was even as though he was so comfortable with the situation. I suddenly wondered if this particular situation was familiar to him.

We took the stairway to the second floor. Our footfalls echoed loudly, the sound joined only by the faint buzzing of the overhead fluorescent lights.

I unlocked the door with trembling hands that jangled the keys. Somehow, I found the light switch and chased the shadows away, revealing a second hand living room set on cheap flat carpeting. I peeled off my denim jacket and threw it across a chair in the kitchen nook. When I turned, I was surprised to see him leaning against the door, held back by uncertainty.

I held the paper placemat between us like an amulet to ward off his intensity. “Do you mind if I read it?”

He fixed his eyes on me and nodded before glancing away, his chin coming to rest on his chest.

I started reading. It was far more intense than I could have ever imagined. It was nothing but raw fury and passion, a determined declaration of love. It read of this girl that had become the center of his thoughts, the very core of his being. I could feel my heart breaking as I was overwhelmed with the strange notion that I wanted to be this Gwen of his. I wanted to know what it was to feel such passion, such love. Tears sprung in my eyes and I cried for him, for this fortunate girl…

For me...

He didn’t ask what was wrong right away. He simply stared just past my shoulder while I made a futile attempt to dispel a sob. I muttered that this was beautiful and he gave me a sad, crooked smile as a tear rolled off the corner of his eye before he turned his face away.

I don’t know what it was about that tear, but it made me go to him like a magnet to steel and place my hands on his face. His skin was burning. There was a little stubble that only made me too aware of his masculinity.
"Kiss me," I whispered into those confused brown eyes of his. "Just kiss me."


His hands found my wrists and his eyes stayed on mine. Need became a force as tangible as the strong winds that fuel a storm.

I knew he was thinking I was crazy. I knew he thought of all the reasons why he should stop this crazy bitch in heat and go away. Bloody hell, I was thinking I was crazy.

A tiny voice in my head was screaming all sorts of warnings but just when I felt rejection eating away at me, his eyes fell on my lips and after one breathless moment, he leaned down and kissed me.

Molten lead would have frozen my insides in comparison. I was trembling and when I felt his breath stutter, I opened my lips in invitation. He pulled away and a disappointed moan escaped my throat, allowing reason to slowly take root in my brain. I kept my eyes on his.

His hand held my face as delicately as a summer breeze. His thumb brushed away the tears I finally tried to blink away. His eyes seemed to glitter as they searched mine and time seemed to stop its endless march in perfect silence.

Was this wrong? I let out my pent up breath slowly in a sorrowful sigh as electricity crackled between us.

In one swift motion, his hands brought my face up at an angle and he kissed me so hard, I lost what little restraint I had left.

He loves someone else…

He loves her…

Stop this!

I felt weightless. His touch was firm yet gentle. The kiss grew needier and heat traveled down into my body, setting my abdomen aflutter. My hands found the flat planes of his chest and then ran down his sides to his hips. On their way back, they pushed his shirt up. His hot skin sent a pang of need that had my heart hammering in my ribcage.

My tickling fingers forced him to shift and pull away for a breath. I answered his smile with a lustful gaze as I brought his hands to the buttons of my uniform shirt.

His hands ventured over my abdomen and moved up to grace the underside of my breasts, making my head swim. I shrugged the shirt off and his t-shirt joined it on the floor within seconds.

We engaged in a stumbling waltz as we somehow made our way to my bedroom. Our clothes kept pooling on the floor, marking our passing like bread crumbs on an unknown trail. I was almost sick with need as the coarse hair of his chest made contact with my skin. When I felt him rigid on my thighs, I pulled hard on his neck, bringing him on top of me as he braced his fall with his arms on either side of me, never breaking from the kiss.

“Wait…” he panted. “I… um… I don’t have anything.”

It took a few seconds before I realized what he meant. Shame colored me a shade of red I thought would make me glow in the semi darkness. “It’s okay, I promise…” I said breathlessly.

He gave me a dubious look that I hoped to eradicate with more kissing. His lips found my throat, my face, my shoulder, and I curled driving my hips up to meet him. He was being gentle, too gentle, I thought in frustration, when all I wanted was for him to go right through me. I grabbed hold of his hips, and then thoroughly enjoyed the feel of the muscles on his back as I pulled him into me. The sudden fullness forced me to bite my lip to keep me from crying out. It had been so bloody long…

“Kelly…” he whispered almost breaking the spell, but I was too far gone to care.

A thin wisp of rational thought told me he was probably thinking about someone else. I wondered if he called out Kelly only to remind himself that he wasn’t with the girl behind his writing. It didn’t matter. My body overrode my mind as he moved within me. I held on tighter, needing the closeness, if only physical.

…I’ll be no more than a transient thought in her mind, a small measure of time, insignificant. No more than a barely familiar set of notes to a song seldom remembered…

The lines of his writing flashed through my head as my breath grew shallower.

…No more can I feel the soft warmth of her kiss and its absence becomes me in the form of a living death…

All I could do was accept this moment and quell my own thirst for that kind of love with what little he offered me. The kind of love he obviously reserved for the girl from his writing.


His muscles grew taut under my touch while I held my breath as the inevitable rush of heat converged into my center from all corners of my body. I parted the kiss and screamed my ecstasy, burying my face into his chest while he grew impossibly large in me before collapsing, his own conclusion reached. We held onto each other, our breath ragged, both of us feeling each other’s tremors. If this was the one and only time I was to feel this way, then I’d go into the grave smiling to the high heavens. 


Javier A. Robayo is the author of THE GAZE and THE NEXT CHAPTER. He immigrated to the United States in 1988 at the age of 12 from Quito, Ecuador. He began writing as a way of learning English throughout his high school years, and studied at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He lives in Connecticut, with his wife, and two daughters, where he is currently at work on his next novel.
 
Here's how you can reach Javier: 

Thanks for visiting!
XO AJ XO

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Visit to Vienna with Nancy Jardine

Okay, I am GREEN with envy. I have the fabulously talented Nancy Jardine at Tattered Pages today, and after reading this post, have decided to add Vienna to my bucket list! Let's all visit this city rich with history and beauty with Nancy!

Hi, AJ. I’m totally delighted to be visiting you today. I’m still on a high from the recent release last week of my novel–Topaz Eyes – an ancestral mystery, published by Crooked Cat Publishing. My main characters, Teun Zeger and Keira Drummond in Topaz Eyes, spend a little time in the US, but they also spend a lot of time in some lovely cities in Europe. Some of my mini-blog tour posts feature the places they encounter and today I’m concentrating on the elegantly beautiful Austrian city of Vienna.  (Details of other posts on my blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com )

What has Keira found in Vienna? And what might she view with her hunky Californian, Teun, the guy she’s paired up with to find the missing jewellery that once belonged to a Mughal emperor? The tourist spots are endless, the architecture fantastic. There are so many museums, art galleries and famous public buildings it is so difficult for Keira to choose which to visit- then again, there are so many sinister things happening as well in Topaz Eyes that they’re not really there as tourists!  

Vienna had to appear in my writing, sometime. I’ve been lucky to visit many exciting places and Vienna definitely qualifies as one of them. It’s a spectacular city to visit. Full of grandeur, the wealth of different architectural styles is absolutely breathtaking. So much can be done on foot, but equally there are other ways of seeing the attractions of this splendid city.
 
Recently inaugurated, the new Ring Tram system makes it even easier to see the old inner city areas since it has a hop-on, hop-off system. Around half an hour will take you round the perimeter of the old city, making it just perfect for a first reconnaissance, after which you can choose which attractions first take your fancy. Keira found the Ring Tram just a tad threatening- not the pleasant prospect she expected-but the visitor in general will love it. You’ll have to read the book to find out why Keira didn’t like it so much!
The huge Kunsthistorische Museum has such wonderful collections it’s far too difficult to decide exactly what to spend time on. I could have spent my whole week’s holiday in that one museum. Go early in the day would be my advice because you just might need to rest your legs now and again.

Alternatively you might prefer to laze away your afternoon at the park called the Prater. On a sunny, warm day you can loll about the wonderful park areas, picnic on the grass, enjoy the world passing by…or you could be up on the giant Ferris wheel getting a bird’s eye view of the city. My trip was during October and not so warm, but the view from the top of the Ferris wheel was stunning. No ordinary Ferris wheel, the Prater wheel has cars, holding quite a few people—as in a cable car.   

Or what about trotting around the old city in a horse drawn carriage? That was fantastic fun, though not exactly for the limited pocket!

If you’re more of a modern art lover you cannot go to Vienna without visiting the Gustav Klimt collection. The Kiss, by Klimt, is quite amazing to view—its golden hues and deep colours have a vitality that I found astounding considering the painting is now more than a century old, painted in 1907/1908.

There are so many art galleries in Vienna that the decision to visit boiled down to what my husband and I could reasonably fit into our short holiday. Visiting the Schonbrunn and Belvedere Palaces was a must since the belongings of the Habsburg rulers are at the heart of Viennese culture.

I would love to have seen the famous stallions of Vienna- a Lipizzaner show being described as a feat of unparalleled horsemanship, and a stupendous ballet.

The New Year’s Day Concert broadcast from Vienna and seen on millions of TVs worldwide was no stranger to us. I really fancied a night in that fantastic building of glittering chandeliers, full of splendidly dressed patrons. It wasn’t to be-although we did a tour of the building one morning.

Time and money were major consideration on my short visit, the horses didn’t win either, but a night at the opera did. What we went to was just absolutely splendid. A Mozart Opera performed by the Statsopera, in the Musikverein was breathtaking. Our holiday fund didn’t run to seats close to the stage- not quite. We were way up in ‘the gods’, in seats at the very font, though if you are the least bit inclined to suffer from vertigo-don’t go! The view was incredible - opera glasses definitely recommended - although the overhead translation of the libretto is an extra bonus! 

That’s only a tiny bit of what we saw in Vienna, and what’s available to see. Vienna truly is a fabulous city to visit and I’d love to go back again. What about you? Would you like to see the city that Keira and Teun had some scary moments in?

AJ, thanks for letting me share a little of Vienna with your readers. I hope they enjoy reading about the city, and I’d love them to tell me if they enjoy reading about the exciting happenings to Teun and Keira while they’re Vienna, in Topaz Eyes.

*AND NOW FOR NANCY'S GIVEAWAY*

What details can you add about Vienna? It can be anything, so long as your answer includes the word Vienna! Please leave your answer in the comment box, along with your email address, to be entered into the drawing for an e-copy of TOPAZ EYES.  (takes place on 15th December)

Blurb:

A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.

Excerpt:

Exploring Vienna would have been so much nicer with company, special company.

Every single building needed time to savour. One fabulous piece of architecture led to the next… and the next. Speed-walking the last part of the Hofburg didn’t do it justice. Keira muttered a vow to explore it more thoroughly the following day as her neck craned to the top of a particularly ornate rooftop on the corner building, before she emerged out into the boulevard. Finding the pedestrian crossing at the Ringstrasse was in her favour, she scooted over the road.

After she crossed, she looked back to enjoy the view.

“What the hell?” Her mouth gaped… her eyes, too.

At the far side of the wide stretch of road someone ducked down to tie his shoelace, the whiteness of the hair grabbing Keira’s attention before a steady stream of traffic flowed in front of her as the traffic lights changed.

“Not again!” 

Anger built, the little frisson of initial fear became a heat of annoyance. Why was the bastard still following her? She’d no jewels to protect any more, so what the hell did he think he’d get from her? She squinted in the strong sunlight, cars and vans creating a stroboscopic effect. When the traffic ceased to flow, the lights red again, she faced an empty space.

Author Bio:

An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.
A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel, The Beltane Choice, also published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

Nancy Jardine can be found at:
\http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com   http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com    http://facebook.com/nancy.jardine.56   
Twitter @nansjar

Topaz Eyes is available from Amazon
Click the link to see the book trailer for TopazEyes
For all of Nancy Jardine’s books see: http://amzn.to/wwaGCv

Thanks for visiting with us today! And don't forget to leave a comment including
the word Vienna to be entered into the drawing! 
XO AJ XO 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Prognosis: Positive!

Yesterday I went for my first ever stress test, and overall, I would describe the experience as...pleasant. While I was extremely nervous prior to my departure, I gotta say I also received some very sage advice from my dear friend Vonnie Davis, and consquently spent the half hour drive to the facility "talking with God". It was a good discussion. And for any of you that may have to undergo something of this nature, I recommend doing the same. Laying my fears down at His feet allowed me to breathe a little easier, concentrate on traffic and get myself there in one piece. So for that, I must send a shout out. "Thank you, Vonnie!" XO

The stress test technician, Julie, was very nice, and while she took my blood pressure, dotted my body with electrodes and hooked me up to a machine which displayed my heartbeat on a television monitor--as well as chugged out a long succession of paper printing said heartbeat--we discussed everything from menopause to how to remove the sticky residue from between my boobs (see previous post re: Holter Monitor) to Kate Moss (I'd been reading Vogue prior to Julie's arrival).


The doctor appeared shortly thereafter and following several questions regarding my symptoms, I was asked to step on a treadmill which steadily increased in pace and incline to raise the level of my heartbeat.

A note here about the doctor:  I adored this man. I'm not sure if he is just a really good physician or if he took somewhat of a liking to me, but throughout the exam and subsequent consultation, I almost began to think of myself as his long-lost daughter. No lie. Estimating, I'd guess he is in his mid-seventies. He has eyes the shade of the softest powder blue baby blanket and spoke with a strong East German accent (Or could've been Polish. Regardless, he had to be from some European country.)

Dr. Bonus Point #1:  "It vould seem you may have some trouble with thees time of year. But thees is to be expected. Vith a Thanksgiving feast to prepare, house guests, Christmas and another feast... Ach, the stress is unduly hawd."

He really was quite fatherly--to me, at least-- and consequently took me under his wing. Said he was taking over the case, would dictate a letter to my regular GP, and then suggested several times that I call him directly should I have any questions or trouble. Sort of unheard of in this day in age for a busy cardiologist.

The diagnosis:  cardiac arrythmia. The good news is the condition is benign--based on the fact the palpitations disappeared during exercise.

Dr. Bonus Point #2:  "Vat thees means is you vill not suffer a hawtattack, stroke or hawtdisease from thees condition."

Okay, so now the only hurdle is to find the right meds. While cardiac arrythmia can be controlled with exercise, it takes a while for it to work (i.e. the longer I exercise over a period of months, the less I should experience the fluttering). So in the meantime I'm either left to suffer or can take meds which, unfortunately, come with a long list of side affects. And while the one pill I took last night did ease the fluttering quite a bit, today my brain has been officially zombiefied.

So that brings things up to speed. I want to pause here a moment, though, to extend my deepest most heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has contacted me to show their support. I seriously don't think I'd have been able to make it through these past few weeks without all of you. Thank you so much for all the comments and well wishes. You have made me feel truly loved.

XO AJ XO

Monday, December 3, 2012

Welcome Cara Marsi and Murder Mi Amore!

Murder, jewel thieves and terrorists intrude on an American woman's
 Roman holiday; can she trust the sexy,
mysterious Italian man who comes to her aid?
Amazon
Lexie Cortese is in Rome to forget. The last thing she expects is to meet a sexy Interpol agent who suspects her of being part of a terrorist plot involving a stolen diamond. Suddenly thrust into a world of murders, muggings, and kidnappings, Lexie doesn't know what to think--or who to believe.

Dominic Brioni's assignment is simple. Befriend the American and bring her to justice. Only Lexie seems the most unlikely terrorist Dominic has ever met. Sweet, determined, and direct, she faces life with courage and fire, a fire that sparks his protective instincts and a longing for something more--something he allowed himself to hope for only.
 
Excerpt:

Lexie had started to run to him when someone grabbed her arm, pulling her around. A man, his face hidden by a ski mask, held tightly to her. Her shock ratcheted to fear. “Let go,” she yelled, trying to jerk her arm away from him, but his grip tightened. The dim light from the balcony above illuminated his flat black eyes. She had seen those eyes before. Holy shit. She was in trouble. The masked man grabbed for her purse. She screamed, and with strength she didn’t know she possessed, whammed him on the head with her purse. He staggered back, swearing, and slipped and fell. Lights and freedom beckoned from the nearby Via Corsi, but all Lexie could think about was Dominic. Turning on her heels, she ran to him, slipping on the ancient stones herself as Dominic struggled to stand. But before she could reach him, the mugger caught up with her and grabbed her shoulder, twisting her around. Dominic sprang up and flew at the mugger, knocking him to the ground. The two men grappled, rolling together on the cobbled street. Lexie, her heart thumping wildly, looked for an opening to bean the mugger again, to give Dominic a better chance at overcoming him.

“Stop it! Stop it! Leave him alone!” The mugger ended up on top, and she whaled away with her bag, getting in any shot she could.

Shouts and the slap of running feet vibrated through the alley. The mugger swore, jumped up, and raced away, a few men giving chase. Several others helped Dominic to stand, yelling in excited voices, and gesturing toward where their attacker had disappeared.

Dominic winced in pain. Lexie looked down at his ripped, blood-soaked pant leg. “Dominic, you’ve got to get to the hospital. You’re bleeding.”

“I’m okay,” he said. “It is nothing.” Brushing dirt off his jacket, he turned to the men and said something in rapid Italian. With nods, they strode away.

Breathing heavily, Lexie disagreed. “You’re not okay. We’ll get a cab and take you to the hospital.”

He cupped her shoulders. “I’ve been through worse. I’m fine. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?”

“No. I’m…” The full impact of what had happened hit her. The adrenaline that had given her strength suddenly dissipated and she began to tremble. “I’m not okay.”

“Lexie.” Dominic moved forward to take her into his arms. She held on for dear life, needing his strength. He rubbed his hand along her back. “It’s okay, Lexie. We’re both okay. You’re safe with me.”

She clung to him. It wasn’t her imagination. Strange things were happening. She had nothing anyone could want. She didn’t know who to trust. Dominic said she was safe with him. But was she really?
 
Author Bio:

Award-winning author Cara Marsi is a former corporate drone and cubicle dweller with a romantic soul. She craves books with happy endings and loves to write about strong heroes and the independent women they love. She also loves to put her characters in dangerous situations and situations that are merely dangerous to their hearts and watch them fight for the happy endings they deserve.

She credits her love of romance to the old Thirties and Forties romantic comedies she watched on late night TV growing up. She's published in contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, and has also published numerous short romance stories in national magazines. She and her husband enjoy traveling and she loves to write about the places they've visited. They share their house with a fat black diva of a cat named Killer.
 
Find Cara on the Web Here: 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Be Still My Foolish Heart...You Traitorous Organ

As an author of stories that contain elements of romance, I spend a lot of time talking about the heart. In many of my scenes, the heroine’s heart either flutters in anticipation or maybe even races with desire…perhaps regret even tugs at the strings of her heart. You get the picture.

Silly though it may seem, I began to think of myself as somewhat of a “heart” professional. After all, conjuring exciting imagery to detail the inner workings of such an enigmatic part of the human anatomy can be challenging.

Turns out…I was wrong. Turns out, I didn’t know diddly about the heart. Not even squat.

Several folks in my family have what we like to call “flopsy” hearts. A few years back my father underwent a quadruple bi-pass, my aunt wears a pacemaker and my sister takes meds to control the beat of her heart.  So, when I started experiencing an irregular heartbeat, I wasn’t all that surprised…or even unduly concerned. A few blips here, a small thump there…no big shakes. I’d experienced them before and they had always passed. I felt fine. Besides, I had a Thanksgiving feast to prepare and a house to clean.

But when the flips and thumps ratcheted to a consistent whirr I couldn’t escape, I wondered if something more might be occurring and called my doctor to schedule an appointment.

I love my doctor. Besides being handsome in a swarthy Marcus Welby sort of way, he’s calming, laughs at my sarcastic jokes, and has enough experience I trust his judgment. So when the receptionist told me the soonest I could get in was four days later, I took the appointment…and then spent those next four days trying to convince myself I wasn’t dying.

Perhaps this was it. A heart attack was looming just around the bend. Or maybe a stroke. Did I already have a stroke? Would I even know? What was my phone number? Could I recall the date of my anniversary? Should I take an aspirin? Or not? How about tongue twisters? Could I enunciate with the same dexterity?  

Sleep became a distant memory, as did sitting at the computer for extended periods of time (I’m talking like 15 minutes), because each time I remain stationary my heart sputters and chugs like an out of tune engine.

My doctor has reassured me everything is fine. He wrote me a prescription for what grandma likes to call "nerve pills" to ease me down off the ledge of terror (and help me sleep) and has also ordered a battery of tests—one of which includes wearing a holster monitor for twenty-four hours so the cardiologist can figure out what’s going on.  

Since I’d never worn a holster monitor before, I didn’t really know what I was in for. And for those of you who’ve never had the pleasure, I thought I would take a moment to debunk a few holster myths…as well as offer a few suggestions.

I snapped this when the tech left to retrieve more goo.

1.     There is no “holster” involved. Contrary to thinking I’d leave the hospital in a cute gun-slinging ensemble which would match the cowboy boots on my feet (I was being fitted for a holster—stilettos didn’t seem appropriate), a tangle of wires, electrodes and an entire roll of medical tape are now stuck to various parts of my body.
2.      There is lots and lots of cold goo involved. Be prepared to be slathered—from waist to shoulder.
3.      Wear a pretty bra. The technician will need to thread and then tape several wires between your boobs.
4.      Shower before you go. You will not be allowed to bathe while wearing the monitor.
5.      Much like the expendable crew member on Star Trek, you will be toting around a small electrical device—either strapped to your belt or in a pocket. Perhaps consider a cute nickname. You may call me Yeoman Fluttering.
6.      The technician will not think it’s funny when you compare the little snaps on the electrodes to being “bedazzled”.

Next Monday I go for my first-ever stress test. Not sure what’s involved with that either, but I’ll keep you updated. Off now to plan an outfit. What does one wear to a stress test, anyway?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play!

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Boardwalk Empire meets The Great Gatsby in this soft-boiled historical mystery set during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the Sin City of the Southwest.    


Boardwalk Empire meets The Great Gatsby in this soft-boiled historical mystery inspired by actual events. Rival gangs fight over booze and bars during Prohibition in 1920s Galveston: the Sin City of the Southwest. Jazz Cross, a 21-year-old society reporter, feels caught between two clashing cultures: the seedy speakeasy underworld and the snooty social circles she covers in the Galveston Gazette.

During a night out with her best friend, Jazz witnesses a bar fight at the Oasis--a speakeasy secretly owned by her black-sheep half-brother, Sammy Cook. But when a big-shot banker with a hidden past collapses there and later dies, she suspects foul play. Was it an accident or a mob hit?

Soon handsome young Prohibition Agent James Burton raids the Oasis, threatening to shut it down if Sammy doesn't talk. Suspicious, he pursues Jazz but, despite her mixed feelings, she refuses to rat on Sammy. As turf wars escalate between two real-life Galveston gangs, Sammy is accused of murder. Jazz must risk her life and career to find the killer, exposing the dark side of Galveston's glittering society. 


Excerpt:
Why in the world was Agent Burton here? Everyone stopped working to watch him make his grand entrance. People don't usually parade around in a newsroom: They sort of shuffle or stumble or stomp—unless a story's really hot, then they'll run. I felt like running away too, but I stayed glued to my chair, pretending to work, my heart racing. What did he want from me?

Burton seemed to enjoy the attention as he headed my way. He was hard to ignore: Standing before me, all six feet-plus of golden skin and hair, he towered over my desk. Looking up, I noticed the curious eyes watching us in the too-quiet newsroom. The reporters stopped typing, fingers poised over keys, hoping for a scoop. My boss stared with unabashed interest.

"To what do I owe this disturbance?" I adjusted my cloche, acting nonchalant.

He grinned at me, then looked around the suddenly still office. "I need to ask you a few questions. Can we go somewhere private?"

"What do you want?" I put on a brave face so the newsboys wouldn't see me sweat.

Burton scanned the hushed room. "You really want to discuss it here, out in public?"

He had a point. Did I want the whole staff listening in on my private conversation? He probably wanted to discuss Sammy, who was no one else's business.

"Let's go outside," I agreed. Head down, I followed him past a leering Hank, feeling like a naughty kid going to the principal's office.

Nathan entered the newsroom, a camera slung over his shoulder, stopping to stare at Burton. "Jazz, is everything jake?"

"Everything's berries." I smiled to pacify him but, I admit, I had the jitters.

"I remember him. Your boyfriend?" Burton seemed amused.

"He's the staff photographer." I ignored his crack. "And a good friend."

Outside, I felt safe among the throng of people and automobiles passing by in a rush. The hustle and bustle of the streets and sidewalks seemed almost comforting. I looked around for Golliwog, our resident stray cat, but she must have been making her daily rounds for scraps.

"How was lunch?" In broad daylight, Burton didn't seem quite as menacing or intimidating. Besides, a group of hard-boiled reporters peered out the newsroom, spying on us.

"Fine." I covered my growling stomach. "What brings you here?"

"Sorry to barge in that way." He smiled, tugging on his hat. "But I had to get your attention. You wouldn't give me the time of day the other night."

"Can you blame me? A raid isn't exactly the best way to meet new people."

"I think we got off on the wrong foot." He stuck his hands in his pockets, jingling some change. "Perhaps we can talk over dinner, instead of standing out here on the sidewalk?"

"Dinner?" Was he serious? "Just like that?" I snapped my fingers. "You waltz in as if you owned the place—like you did at the Oasis—and expect me to dine out with you, a total stranger, because of your badge? You've got a lot of nerve, mister."

"I wouldn't be a Prohibition agent if I didn't." He looked smug. "How about tonight?"

"Tonight? I usually work late." I admit, I was curious. What did he really want?

"Every night?" He raised his brows. "Don't they let you off for good behavior?"

"For starters, I don't even know you and what I do know, I don't like at all." I squinted in the sun. "And I don't appreciate the way you bullied us at the Oasis. I thought people were innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around." I wasn't usually so bold and blunt with strangers, especially lawmen. Maybe it was his youth, or maybe I'd finally found my moxie.

"You must mean Sammy. Fair enough." He held up his hands. "If it makes you feel any better, my gun wasn't loaded that night."

"Small comfort now, after you scared everyone half to death." So it was all an act?

Burton looked down at his boots, as if reconsidering his options. "I hoped you could get to know me over dinner, but how about a quick bite now? I haven't eaten."

"Why not?" I nodded, not wanting to let on that I was famished.

Burton stopped at a sandwich vendor on the corner, and tried to pay for my lunch and Nehi, but I pulled out a quarter before he did. It wasn't a date!

"Where can we talk, in private?" He motioned towards the newsroom. "Away from prying eyes and ears."

Anxious, I led him towards a city park and we sat on opposite ends of a bench, my clutch bag like a barricade, keeping my distance.

"So what's the emergency? Why did you come by today, out of the blue? I hope I'm not under arrest!" I half-joked.


Ellen Mansoor Collier is a Houston-based freelance magazine writer whose articles and essays have been published in several national magazines including: FAMILY CIRCLE, MODERN BRIDE, GLAMOUR, BIOGRAPHY, COSMOPOLITAN, COUNTRY ACCENTS, PLAYGIRL, etc. Several of her short stories (both mystery and romance) have appeared in WOMAN'S WORLD.

A flapper at heart, she’s the owner of DECODAME, specializing in Deco to retro vintage items (www.art-decodame.com). Formerly she's worked as a magazine editor/writer, and in advertising sales and public relations. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Magazine Journalism. During college, she once worked as a cocktail waitress, a short-lived experience since she was clueless about cocktails. Flappers, Flasks and Foul Play is her first novel, inspired by real people and places. Currently, she’s working on the sequel.

"When you grow up in Houston, Galveston becomes like a second home. I had no idea this sleepy beach town had such a wild and colorful past until I began doing research, and became fascinated by the legends and stories of the 1920s. I love the glamour and excitment of The Jazz Age, but Prohibition was also such a dark and dangerous time in American history. Jazz isn’t a debutante or socialite, she’s a reporter caught in between the two halves of Galveston society, struggling to do the right thing despite all the temptations and decadence of the era."
 
Find Ellen here at her: Website and on Goodreads

Monday, November 12, 2012

Welcome Andrew P. Weston and Blood-Moon!

I'm thrilled to welcome Andrew P. Weston to Tattered Pages during his Bookmark Blitz Tour and join in introducing Blood-Moon!

Amazon
Special Forces v Nightmares Come To Life...
Once every few hundred years a Blood-Moon rises on an unsuspecting world, and when it does, the very stuff of myth and legend comes to life.

What do you think might happen when nightmare becomes reality? What do you think might happen when an ancient horror comes face to face with some of the most highly trained soldiers in the modern world, and one of the harshest environments known to man is turned into a battleground?

Discover the terrifying reality for yourself in…Blood-Moon.

I saw Paxton fall, one cat having its jaws firmly clamped around his neck, the other, working with it, holding onto his ankle. He didn’t go down without a fight and managed to drill the one on his foot through the skull, before his neck snapped. I was just about to empty my magazine into the remaining jaguars, when I saw the one Paxton had shot through the head twitch and start to rise off the ground. What the fuck!

The other two cats were almost upon me, so I reacted instinctively. Using my momentum, I bunched my muscles and launched myself out from the rocks, knowing full well the areas closer to the ravine wall would be the most dangerous.

I fell for what seemed an eternity, only to have the wind knocked out of me as I hit the water hard. Coughing and spluttering, I broke the surface and looked back up toward the ridge. A blood-moon was beginning to rise, and by its light I saw five silhouettes peering over the top of the ledge, growling to each other as if they were having a conversation. I couldn’t make out their eyes, but I knew each one of them was looking directly at me–even the one that had been shot in the head!

For some reason, that sent a shiver all the way down my spine and into my boots. Striking out for the opposite shore, I decided to put as much distance between the jaguars and myself as possible. I’d lost my machine gun in the pool, but the pistol was still thankfully secure in my shoulder holster. Patting my hip, I also confirmed my ka-bar was still there. With one last look at the eerie crazy-gang, I ran in the opposite direction, determined to put as much distance as possible between them and me. Needless to say, I quickly lost my sense of direction. I can honestly say I didn’t give a shit!

Andrew P Weston was born in the city of Birmingham, in the UK and grew up in the towns of Bearwood and Edgbaston. He eventually attended Holly Lodge Grammar School for Boy’s where he was School Captain and Head Boy. He was an active sportsperson for the school, college and a variety of rugby, martial art, swimming and athletics teams throughout the city. On graduation in 1977 he joined the Royal Marines fulfilling a number of specialist roles both in the UK and abroad. In 1985 he became a police officer with the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, and served in a variety of uniformed and plain clothed departments until his retirement in 2008. Over those years, he wrote and illustrated a selection of private books for his children regarding the life of a tiny kitten, called, “The Adventures of Willy Whiskers”, gained further qualifications in Law and Religious Studies, was an active member of Mensa and continued to be an active sportsperson, providing lessons free of charge to local communities. An unfortunate accident received on duty meant Andrew had to retire early from the police force, but after moving to the sunny Greek island of Kos to speed up his recuperation, he was at last able to devote time to the “Guardian Concept” he had developed over his years in the military and police. When not writing, Andrew enjoys Greek dancing and language lessons, being told what to do by his wife, Annette, and hunting shadows in the dark. He also has a magnificent mustache collection. Andrew is now contracted to Pagan Writers Press for three books. “Fairy Tail”, is a short, but dark and gritty erotic paranormal/thriller with a twist. The second book, “Guardian Angels” is the introductory book to the “Guardian Series”, a sci-fi action/adventure epic set in the near future. The latest short story, “Blood Moon”, is a paranormal action/thriller set in the jungles of South America. Further work on the Guardian Series and a new paranormal series, The Cambion Journals, has been completed and will hopefully be published during 2013.
 
Contact Andrew directly at the following sites!
Thanks for visiting!
XO AJ XO

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Men? Have a Shoe Fetish??

I have the witty, fabulous Vonnie Davis with me today, and we're talking about her new romantic suspense Mona Lisa's Room, along with sharing some pictures of our favorite hot heels! Kick yours off, put your feet up and stay a while! Whoot!

AJ, hugs to you for having me here today to talk about my latest release, MONA LISA’S ROOM. This is my first romantic suspense and also the first of a trilogy. Each book tells the romance of a different couple, yet includes the same group of terrorists, The Red Hand.

You know how I love to laugh. In this series, I’m allowing more humor to flavor my stories, perhaps to offset the distaste of violence the terrorists wreak on innocent people.

My heroine is an American art teacher who’s traveled to Paris. She’s recently divorced from a man who’d ignored her in favor of other men (‘nuff said there) and is unsure of her femininity. Her soul is starving for a man’s touch.

On Alyson’s second day in Paris, she unwittingly foils a bombing attempt and finds herself in the middle of a terrible mess. Her passport is stolen and a crazed terrorist is out to kill her for sketching his likeness, thus ending his elaborate death ruse he’d used to fly under Interpol’s radar.

Enter a younger French government agent, assigned to protect her. Niko is arrogant, pushy and too touchy-feely for her tastes. To protect her, he wants her to blend with other Parisian women. This means she has to abandon her baggy capris and flip-flops and wear skirts and stilettos. To achieve this, he takes her shopping for shoes. This bit of intro takes us to the excerpt I’m sharing…

Niko perched on the stool at Alyson’s feet, opened the first box and deftly flicked back the tissue paper on a pair of black kidskin pumps with skinny gold looking heels. “It’s rumored Da Vinci invented the high heel.” He removed her flip-flops and placed her bare foot on his thigh. Warmth from his muscled leg flowed up hers, causing her foot to give an involuntary wiggle.
His gaze lifted to hers and locked. Slowly he slid his hand from her heel up her leg to cup her calf. Thank God she shaved her legs that morning. “Stop.” The rawness of her voice surprised her. His touch made her very aware of her body, and her body was very aware of him. She couldn’t count the years since she was touched in such a manner—if ever.
Still, it was nice to know she could respond to a man’s touch. Thanks to her ex-husband’s avoidance, she thought herself sexually dead, certainly sexually unappealing.
“High heels do wonders for a woman’s figure, Aly. They make the legs look long and shapely, lift the bottom and make the hips sway.” His hands moved in a descriptive manner while he talked. “They make a woman look sexy and confident. Men’s eyes naturally pivot to a woman in stilettos.” Niko shrugged. “We can’t help it. We are men, after all. Weakened by women.”
Alyson stared at him. Men made weak by women? She’d never heard such talk, especially from a male, a very virile male if looks meant anything. He was gorgeous, arrogant as all get out, but gorgeous just the same.
Niko slipped the shoes onto her feet, stood and extended his hand. “Stand. See how you like the feel.” His gaze focused on hers again and for a second or two, when she looked into his eyes, her world stopped.
She vetoed the four-inch stilletos Niko favored in five painful, toe-pinching steps. Good Lord, a girl could get nosebleeds in those things.
Ten minutes later, Alyson wobbled in front of the cashier ready to pay for the black kidskin three-inch Pradas she wore. As soon as she saw the bow at the back of the heel, she fell in love with the shoes. Gwen called her a “bow freak.” When Niko reached for his wallet, she elbowed him. “Look, as long as they take Visa, I’ll pay for my own shoes.”
“Please, allow me.”
“Absolutely not. I planned on having an expensive birthday meal at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant tomorrow. With all that’s happened today, that plan is ruined, too. So I’m rationalizing since I won’t be paying for my birthday meal, I can pay this ungodly amount for the shoes.”
Niko placed his hand over hers. “I don’t mind. Let me treat you since I goaded you into buying them.”
“Really, that’s not necessary. Even my husband…er…ex-husband never bought me things. I’ve always paid my own way.”
He leaned an elbow on the glass counter and looked at her. “You’re kidding me. He never bought you little surprises? Little treats? A woman like you should be spoiled, treasured—” his voice lowered as he slowly trailed a finger up her arm  “—loved often and well.” Merciful heavens, he was trying to seduce her in a shoe store. Gwen would squeal in delight when she told her about this.
“Down, buster. American women are different than French women. We’re not so easily seduced by glib words or smooth moves.”
His eyebrow arched and his demeanor turned insolent. “You think I’m trying to seduce you?”
Typical male. He touched her almost nonstop since they stepped into Minelli’s. Now that she called him on it, he wanted to deny everything. “I think you’re toying with me, seeing if you can make an old, lonely American woman quiver at your feet.”
“First of all, you’re not old. Second, if you’re lonely, that’s your fault. Third, if I wanted to make you quiver—” he leaned in, his lips against her ear  “—I damn well could.”

BLURB:
Gwen,
You won't believe this email. I'm sitting in a French safe house, eating caviar and drinking champagne with a handsome government agent, Niko Reynard. He's wearing nothing but silk pajama bottoms and mega doses of sex appeal. I'm in big trouble, little sister. He's kissed me several times and given me a foot massage that nearly caused spontaneous combustion. I'm feeling strangely virginal compared to the sexual prowess this thirty-year-old man exudes.

When I came to Paris for a bit of adventure, I never imagined I'd foil a bombing attempt, karate-kick two men, and run from terrorists while wearing a new pair of stilettos. I've met a German musician, a gay poet from Australia, and the most delightful older French woman.

Don't worry. I'm safe--the jury's still out on yummy Niko, though. The more champagne I drink, the less reserved I feel. What an unforgettable fortieth birthday!
Alyson


Don't forget to pick up a copy of Vonnie's latest Mona Lisa's Room, available through The Wild Rose Press in both print and e-book or at Amazon! (<-- just click the links!)

And you can contact Vonnie at her website: http://www.vonniedavis.com 
or her blog at: 

Thanks for visiting with us today!
XO AJ XO

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Welcome to Laura DeLuca and Jessica

Amazon
It's my utmost pleasure to have Laura DeLuca at Tattered Pages today for a stop during her Bookmark Blitz Tour. Whoot! We're celebrating her latest release Jessica which can be downloaded FREE at Amazon both today and tomorrow! Make sure to get your copy!

Blurb:
Wilbur was used to going to his college formals alone. He thought the Halloween Ball would be no different. He’s amazed when a beautiful girl in a Victorian costume displays an interest in him and even more amazed to find himself alone with her on one of the campus nature trails.

What Wilbur doesn’t realize is that another woman has her eye on him too. The White Lady returns every Halloween to take revenge on the men of the campus for her brutal murder. She has chosen Wilbur as her next victim.

**The first chapter of Laura DeLuca's new book, Morrigan (Release Date October 31, 2012), is also included with this short story**
 
Excerpt:
Wilbur thought he was going to collapse when Jessica wrapped one arm around his waist. He could feel her fingers, soft as silk, touching the nape of his neck with her other hand, and it made his flesh tingle. She even went so far as to lay her head on his shoulder. Her hair brushed against his cheek and the fresh, flowery scent made his vision blur. At first he thought it was just his allergies, but then the whole room and all the people in it seemed to change. The woman all wore full lacy gowns with their hair piled up in fancy up dos, while the men waltzed beside them in tailored suits with long tails and top hats. Even the music had changed from the typical sappy love song to a classical ballad played by a string quartet. He swore he saw the musicians in the corner; their bows sliding effortlessly over the strings of their instruments while their fingers pulsated in perfect vibrato. Even the floor under their feet had changed from the faded gymnasium floor, marked with the lines and circles of the basketball court, to hand laid tile in intricate patterns reminiscent of a Victorian ballroom.

As they circled the dance floor in an oddly quickened pace, the faces of the dancers started to transform even more. The beautiful nineteenth century ballroom aged and decayed, as did the men and women that surrounded him. Grotesque monsters with bloated skin and empty eyes dragged their decaying limbs in slow motion. Wilbur watched them with growing horror, almost forgetting about the girl in his arms. The monsters noticed the stranger among them. They reached for him with fingers green from rot. Catching his breath in fear, Wilbur pulled away from Jessica and very nearly stumbled to the ground.

Author Bio:
Laura “Luna” DeLuca lives at the beautiful Jersey shore with her husband and four children. In addition to writing fiction, Laura is also the sole author of a popular review blog called New Age Mama. She is an active member of her local pagan community, and has been studying Wicca for close to eight years. She is the author of four young adult novels including: Destiny, Destiny Unveiled, Phantom, and Morrigan and has many other works in progress. 
to see where Laura's headed next,
or go to one of these sites to contact her directly!