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!

Barnes & Noble

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. 

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 ( 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!

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!

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.”

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!

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: 
or her blog at: 

Thanks for visiting with us today!