Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Just Another New Year's Eve

This blog post is repeated every year on this day on my other blog, and I'm carrying over the tradition here.

Here's what I'll be listening to when the clock strikes midnight, my own little tradition over the decades. Happy New Year to everyone.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Zombie Wedding

I've been quiet the last couple of weeks because in addition to Christmas craziness at the Day Job, I've been formatting, converting and doing the final checks on Zombie Wedding.  It went live first on Smashwords at 12:35 AM this morning.  Literally, at 12:36 AM, someone downloaded the first sample.  LOL  You gotta love real time stats.

Needless to say, I'll post the rest of the 'BUY' links as soon as they're available.

[Edit to add: Zombie Love is now available on Amazon US.]

[Edit on 1/3 to add: Zombie Wedding is finally live on Barnes & Noble]


I had a blast writing this novel. Hope y'all enjoy it!

Blurb
Samantha Ridgeway thought being turned into the walking dead by a freaky lab experiment was the worst thing that could happen to her. She was wrong.

Not only did her creation cause an uproar in the paranormal community—the fairies want her dead permanently—but her vampire boyfriend is pushing for an eternal commitment, she’s a bridesmaid in her brother’s shotgun wedding, and now a necromancer has emerged, wanting revenge on her for something she did when she was still alive. The hungry corpses he raises from the dead are relentless killers. Can Sam protect her brother’s wedding guests from becoming appetizers for the flesh-crazed zombie army? And how can she keep herself from ending up as the main course?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Yule!

Since good ole' Sol crossed the soltice line very early this morning in our time zone, today is Yule!

So Happy Yule, everyone! May the rest of your wnter be warm, cheerful and bright!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Sneak Peek - Zombie Wedding

Here's an preview of my soon-to-be-released novel ZOMBIE WEDDING!

Chapter One

Tiffany Stephens leaned close and whispered, “Sam, get your mother out of my face, or I’m going to stake her."

My sympathy for my future sister-in-law didn’t extend far while we waited for Mom and Antoine to come back with a load of designer bridal gowns. I should have known the lunch invitation was a con job. And I knew Mom would start on my bridesmaid dress once Tiffany’s wedding wear satisfied her Beverly Hills sensibility. Mom had already complained all the way to the boutique about buying off the rack with the wedding a week from Saturday.

I cast a surreptitious look at my brother’s homicidal fiancée. With all the mascara and eyeliner, her squinted eyes were little more than black slashes on her nearly white face. A quick glance around the Rodeo Drive boutique reassured me that everyone else was out of hearing range. Normal hearing range anyway.

I leaned closer to her and whispered back, “Killing her would be the perfect Christmas gift for me.”

She snorted at my teasing and pursed her purple-black lips. Her size two combat boot tapped an irritated rhythm. As one of the few human Enforcers of the Augustine vampire coven, she could hold her own against any supernatural menace.

Standing up to my mother was another story. Not that Tiffany didn’t do a superb job, but resistance didn’t register in Mom’s self-centered, materialistic universe. The bridal gown issue was a prime example.

The subject of our discussion charged back toward the dressing area where she had planted the two of us. Antoine, Mom’s personal image consultant, floated in her wake, loaded to the gills with fluffy white material.

I wasn’t precognitive—at least not yet—but I could see what was about to happen. Hell, the blind guy who panhandled outside of my apartment complex could have seen what was about to happen.

Mom shoved her purse in my arms. Mr. Cuddles, her toy poodle, poked his head out and growled. I wished it were because he detected my “change” two months ago. Unfortunately, his attitude toward me had more to do with his owner’s and had existed from the moment Mom brought him home from the breeder. I set the purse on the floor, and Mr. Cuddles hopped out and trotted over to sit primly at Mom’s feet.

She held up the first filmy concoction.

“No fuckin’ way.” Tiffany glared at her.

“Now, Tiffany, darling, since you don’t have any family to assist you with planning your wedding, you really need me.”

Smooth move, Mom. Remind the psychotic future daughter-in-law that her parents are pushing up daisies. I bit my tongue to keep from saying those thoughts aloud.

“I have my uncle, and I already told you I have a dress.”

Even I could barely understand Tiffany through her gritted teeth.

Mom sniffed. “Really, dear, fishnet is inappropriate in a society wedding.” Tossing the first gown aside, she snatched the next one in the pile.

Picking up the hanger, I straightened to find a perfectly coifed woman with a fake smile surgically grafted to her skin. The owner took the dress from my outstretched hand.

“Sorry,” I mouthed.

Her eyes flicked from me to Mom and back, the pleading evident. Like I could stop the rampage.

“No, no, this one won’t do, either.” The bundle of satin flew in my general direction.

Tiffany planted silver-decked fists on her non-existent hips. “I don’t need—”

Mom just tutted and reached for the next dress in Antoine’s arms. She held the blinding whiteness in front of the seething Enforcer. “What do you think, Antoine?”

He shook his head. “I really would suggest off-white or pale rose with Ms. Stephens’s coloring,” Antoine simpered. “Nothing fitted with her—” His cough barely registered as semi-discrete. “—delicate condition,” he finished sotto voce.

Mom shot him a nasty look. I switched to gnawing on my lower lip and stared at the ceiling to keep from laughing. Tiffany’s pre-marital pregnancy was a touchy subject—for everyone except Max since it proved my brother’s manhood. But she was only six weeks along so it wasn’t like the baby would be showing on her petite frame at the wedding.

“I’ll give him delicate,” Tiffany muttered. I held my breath, but she didn’t reach for the silver dagger tucked in her right boot.

A gusty sigh blew from Antoine’s artificially puffed lips. “Not much we can do about the hair.”

Red flared across Tiffany’s pale cheeks. I released the pent-up breath when she didn’t reach for the dart gun in her messenger bag either. A dose of the concentrated garlic and silver iodide solution may not be lethal to a human, but it stung like hell.

Antoine’s shook his head. “And that atrocious make-up she has on simply won’t do—”

Tiffany leapt, black-nailed hands reaching for Antoine’s throat.

Okay, I didn’t foresee that one. Mr. Cuddles yipped and dove back into Mom’s purse.

Honestly, I could have stopped Tiffany, but it was more fun to watch the nineteen-year-old goth try to strangle Mom’s snobby image consultant. That is, if she could find his pencil neck amid all the taffeta.

“Samantha! Do something!” Mom’s shriek had more to do with mortification at Tiffany’s scene than concern over harm to Antoine. Especially now that everyone in the boutique, not just the owner, watched Tiffany pound Antoine’s head against the floor. Lucky for him, it was plush carpet instead of something harder.

I sighed and rolled my eyes. “Tiff?”

She was too far gone, screaming insults that definitely wouldn’t win her brownie points with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance. I scooped her up under my left arm, but she still had a firm grasp on Antoine’s emerald collarless silk shirt. I shook her, as if she were Mr. Cuddles and I’d caught him humping one of my stuffed animals. Unlike Mr. Cuddles, Tiffany ignored me and continued her assault.

I shook Tiffany again. Antoine’s head bobbed, but she still wouldn’t let go. On the third shake, it registered in her pea-brain that I had her hoisted on my hip. She dropped Antoine, whose skull hit the carpet with a dense thud.

“Put me the fuck down, bitch!” She began fighting me in earnest. Not that it had much effect in her awkward position or with my new gifts.

“Let me go, you freak! So help me, I’m going to whip your zo—”

I slapped my free hand over her mouth. Tiffany bit me. Hard. I discovered how difficult it was to keep a smile planted on my face while Goth Girl gnawed on my palm, but I managed.

“We’re just going to step outside and have a little girl-to-girl chat. Be right back, Mom.” I hauled the still struggling Tiffany out the boutique door and into the hot afternoon California sun. Mom said nothing behind me. I guess she wasn’t too worried about Tiffany’s “delicate condition.”

Once outside of the boutique, I set Tiffany upright. She stomped back a couple of paces, her breathing heavy. She glared at me, fingers flexing, but she didn’t reach for the silver dagger, the gun or the pencils in the pockets of her camouflage pants. She was the only Enforcer I had met whose favorite weapon against rogue vampires was a yellow No. 2.

Eyeing her just as warily, I shook my right hand to get some feeling back into it. A quick glance showed that she had nearly severed off a large chunk of flesh. I may heal fast, but a wound like that still hurts like a sonuvabitch while it existed. After a few seconds, not even a bruise showed, but I had to fish in my shoulder bag for a tissue to wipe off the excess blood.

“You still haven’t told your folks, have you?” Tiffany’s expression wasn’t friendly, but it no longer had that endearing maniacal quality.

“No, I haven’t.” I shoved the nasty-looking tissue back in a Ziploc I kept in my bag for these types of occasions, crossed my arms and glared back at her. I didn’t like the reminder of the ticking clock over my head. “But you have no excuse for screaming the z-word in public. You know better.”

She had the grace to look abashed and muttered, “Sorry.” With a gusty exhalation, all the fight rushed out of her. She slumped against the boutique’s brick wall. “You’re right. I’ve never slipped up in front of Normals like that.”

I believed her. Ignorance was bliss when it came to John and Jane Public. The less they knew about the supernatural world, the better off everyone was. And Tiffany had been living in the dual cultures far longer than my measly two months.

The tears welling up in her big, brown eyes disturbed me on more levels than I cared to admit. Weepy was not a word anyone would use to describe Tiffany. I stepped forward and laid a hand on her shoulder. “It’s probably the hormones talking, but—”

“I know, I know.” She wiped the tears away on the hem of her black t-shirt, leaving streaks of blue-black mascara across her pale cheeks. “I’ll be more careful.”

I let my hand fall from her shoulder, reassured that Tiffany had regained control of her temper. As I turned back for the door, her touch on my sleeve stopped me. My initial tension released at her uneasy expression.

“Sam, it’s not my business, but—” She paused as if searching for the right words. This had to be a first. I mean, Tiffany? Using tact?

She glanced around to make sure no one was near, but she still lowered her voice. “Maybe you should tell your parents.” Her hand dropped. “Before they find out accidentally.”

“Ri-i-ight.” I glanced around myself, but few shoppers were on the sidewalk this time of day with the unusual spring heat. “The only thing Mom and Dad are going to love more than Max knocking you up is finding out I’m a zombie.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

Want Something Extra? Be Nice to the Clerks

For the Day Job, I work in a retail shop. With the advent of Black Friday, the Christmas Crazies are in full swing.

Now, trust me I understand how stressful this time of year is, how you want everything to be perfect, how your MIL is never satisfied with what you carefully selected for her no matter how many hours you've spent. But taking your frustrations out on the clerk who's trying to help you won't solve your problem.

So I'm asking, Gentle Reader, to please keep the following in mind.

1)  Retail clerks don't set the prices. Grumbling, bitching or screaming at them won't magically give them the authority to give you a lower price. If it truly troubles you, ask for the manager. If you're still not happy, ask for the name and number of the district manager or even the owner.

2)  Retail clerks cannot magically pick out the perfect gift for your significant other.  If you don't know their tastes, that should be a red light that something else is going on in your relationship.

3)  Which brings me to--we're not being nosey when we ask you questions. We don't know your significant other, and we need more information in order to make appropriate suggestions.

4)  If you don't like the selection of the store or there's a particular item you'd like to see stocked, please take the corporate number the clerk gives you and call.  I work at a Hallmark franchise, and trust me, Hallmark Inc. WILL listen to the customers.  Two years ago, corporate replaced the beloved musical snowman they put out every Christmas with Snoopy. Should have been a no-brainer substitution with the popularity of the Peanuts characters, right?

Oh, heck, no!  Long time customers wanted their snowman, and this year, he's back!

5)  When a clerk has been on her feet for six hours straight, a smile and a kind word from a customer will make her day.  And those are the people who will get the extra effort.  As my grandmother said, you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar.

I hope everyone has a safe and pleasant holiday season!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Memorium

Today's industry news post is pre-empted.

I got home from the day job last night to learn Anne McCaffrey passed away late yesterday.

To me, Anne was the forerunner of mixed genres. She took dragons, the fabled enemy of mankind, and not only turned them into good guys but gave them a genetically engineered background. Her stories mixed romance and adventure decades before it was acceptable for a writer to do such a thing.

I first read Dragonflight nearly thirty-five years ago. To say Ms, McCaffrey influenced my writing would be akin to saying the sun affects a daisy. And I know I'm not the only writer who holds her in such regard.

May you fly with your dragons, Anne.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The True Meaning of Grace

For the last several months, I've been following Alice's Bucket List. This is the blog of a young woman named Alice who lives in Ulverston, England.

Alice has terminal cancer. She may survive past the end of this year. She may not. But in the meantime, she and her family are trying to live life to the fullest.

With Alice's sixteenth birthday coming up, I'm adding my request to hers. Please consider registering as a bone marrow donor. Yes, the procedure has risks to the donor, but your registration may be the one that saves a life.

Thank you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfulness

I know this is a little early, but during GK's break next week I need to crank out some pages. So I wanted to make sure I said this:

I'm thankful to write every single day. I'm thankful that folks like my books, and I really hope I entertain these people who laid down their hard-earned money to read them.

I'm thankful that my family is healthy, we have a roof over our heads, and food on the table.

I'm thankful for my life, which is perfect in its crazy and imperfect way.

May [the deity(ies) of your choice or no one if you swing that way] bless you this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 7, 2011

CONTEST!!

Not mine, but my buddy Terri Molina is giving away gift baskets to promote her brand new release FORGET ME NOT, including one with CHOCOLATE!  Oh yeah, a Kindle and VISA gift cards, too. All this in time for the holidays. Go to Terri's blog for all the nitty, gritty details.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I'm Currently Reading

With home school, the Day Job gearing up for the holiday retail season, and editing the next two Bloodlines novels for release as well as writing the next Seasons of Magick story, my personal reading time has been limited.  That doesn't mean I haven't been reading at all!

I recently finished the first two books in Stephanie Bond's Southern Romance trilogy, Baby, Drive South and Baby, Come Home.  Baby, Don't Go will be out November 15th (and will probably be my Thanksgiving quiet time before the insanity that is Black Friday). For more info (and a free prequel story!), go to Stephanie's website.

Last Thursday, I finished Bone Magic, the seventh book in Yasmine Galenorn's Otherworld series. Not a good place to hop on if you're new to the series. But for long time readers, I've got two words for you--Trillian's back!

The book currently in my bag is L.A. Banks's Surrender the Dark. I've already bought the sequel, Conquer the Dark. I'm very sad that these were the last two books Miz Leslie completed before she passed away this summer. Her stories will be sorely missed by her fans.

The current couch book is Jim Butcher's Side Jobs, a collection of previously published Dresden Files short stories along with a couple of tales never published.

Last night though, I downloaded Crazy Emma by Brandie Buckwine. It was a cute, erotic short, just right after the store re-vamp at the Day Job.

So, let me know what's on your reading plate. Any good recommendations out there?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stephen is the King of Fear

Yep, it's my turn to talk about scary books for All Hallows Read.

Frankly, I'd never viewed books as truly scary when I was a kid. Washington Irving's Headless Horseman and Charles Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas were delightfully creepy but still enjoyable. In fact, I never met a book I couldn't finish. Not until high school. Not until my sister insisted I read a book she loved called Firestarter.

I got about a quarter of the way through the book before the nightmares started. Don't ask me why I had nightmares over a sci-fi thriller. I gave the book back to my sister. "Didn't you just love it?" I told her what happened. She shook her head in disbelief.

A few months later, she handed me a book she'd borrowed from the library. "With all that weird stuff you read, you might like this one better." This time the book was Stephen King's Carrie. The nightmares were even worse than with Firestarter. It probably didn't help that I was going through similar issues in high school as the title character did. Once again, I stopped reading and returned the book to my sister.

She shook her head in disgust. "You watch zombie and vampire movies, and you can't handle this?"

I don't care what anyone says about Stephen King's writing. In me, he hit that gut-level response, the one you get when faced with the real possibility of pain and death. The one I've only felt a couple of times in my life, like when my car started sliding on ice and headed straight for a telephone pole. And in most of King's works, the real danger in not external, but internal. Literally, his characters are often their own worst enemy.

Maybe that's part of the reason I write urban fantasy. The monsters are an external force to fight.

On the other hand, I did manage to finish one King's books. The title? On Writing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Getting Your Money Back on a Haunted House with Guest Blogger Robin Badillo

Considering Robin's fabulous vampire books, I figured she say Stoker or Rice were influences. Boy, was I wrong! Demon pig, anyone? 

FULL DISCLOSURE WORKS FOR ME!!!

To this day, I can’t say why I pulled it from the shelf of my high school library. Perhaps it was the title, maybe even the ominous glow of that attic with the spooky window panes. It may have even been the forked tail dangling from the H in Horror that forced the little voice inside my head, which should have been yelling NO!, to tuck tail and run, taking its warning with it.

Then again, the devil may have made me do it. Bwuahaha!

Who knows, I may not have noticed anything in particular about it at all.

What I do know is that it scared the bajeezers out of me. (FYI: bajeezers is a word my fourteen-year-old daughter made up for when there aren’t proper words to describe how you really feel without swearing)

To be quite honest, the story began rather slow, maybe even a bit boring so it must have been the promise of what I had heard was between the remaining pages that kept me reading.

The book, written by Jay Anson, was released in 1977, just a couple of years after the events depicted in the book supposedly occurred. The legitimacy of the facts are still controversial. Anson was said to have met with the actual couple, The Lutzes, and although did not officially collaborate with them for the book, did listen to around forty-five hours of tape recordings made by the couple explaining their experience in the actual house.

The first movie, staring none other than James Brolin, hit theatres in 1979. I read the book in the mid-eighties, at the age of 16 or so. I do remember seeing it on television a few years later, though I must say that the book left a deeper impression than any of the movies ever did.

If I had to take a stab at the reason why, I would say it was because I had to piece the scenes together with my imagination as I read, and that burned profound images into my brain that remain today.

I had nightmares for weeks after reading the book and always the same thing… flies gathered on the window outside my bedroom… buzzing…watching…waiting….

I decided way back then, that there were a few things I would consider when I grew up and bought a home of my own and these tips are why FULL DISCLOSURE works for me!! Now I’m passing these tips onto you:

1) If a realtor tells you someone died violently in a home you’ve considered buying and you elect to purchase it anyway and have it blessed, please listen to whoever you bring in to bless it, especially if they are blinded soon after, claim to have heard voices telling them to ‘Get out’, develop “stigmata” type blisters on their palms or all of the above.

2) If after moving in, you discover ANY room in the house that the family dog refuses to enter or if he/she cowers and/or whimpers when near said room, please take into consideration that the animal is called “man’s best friend” for a reason and… MOVE!

3) If you find hidden rooms, too small for occupancy that happen to be completely painted RED for no reason and the dog looks at you like you’re crazy for venturing in, please refer to tip #2 again.

4) If you find yourself waking every night at 3:15 a.m. with an inexplicable desire to walk down to the boatshed, rethink your options… this is a good time for a family meeting.

5) If your child claims to have an imaginary friend named Jodie, in the form of a demonic pig with glowing eyes, skip the psychotherapy and MOVE… immediately. DO NOT wait for said pig to float outside the bedroom window in the middle of the night, terrorizing your family.

6) If your spouse claims someone other than you is hugging her in the middle of the night and you both know for a fact she was ALONE in the room, don’t seek marriage counseling, she isn’t cheating… MOVE, before the entity snuggling up with her decides to move past first base.

7) If unexplained welts appear on you or your spouse while you’re in bed and this wasn’t from some kinky foreplay you’re just too embarrassed to admit to… MOVE… demons are one thing… demon Dom’s are quite another!

8) If flies gather outside your windows by the thousands, in the middle of winter… MOVE!

This isn’t a typical infestation, even if you’re in Texas. Yes, we have flies, but they don’t come in droves and cling to windows unless it’s slathered in honey and if it is… you’re weird and just asking for trouble.

9) If your husband spends an unusual amount of time sharpening his axe and even more time chopping wood without speaking or perhaps behaving stranger than normal… MOVE, the wood chopping is just a prequel to what is coming next … and it won’t be wood he plans to split in two.

And finally # 10) If your husband is shirtless and looks like Ryan Reynolds while he’s chopping wood….um, call me, I’ll take the problem off your hands right away and you can keep the damn house!!

***

Personally, I prefer sexy vampires and muscle-bound shape shifters any day, though I find all things paranormal intriguing and quite entertaining.

I hope you agree on November 15th when my latest novel, Midnight Beckoning releases right on the heels of Halloween!!

This novel has it all…incubi, damphyrs, vampires and even winged demons straight from the pits if hell. It’s a bit of a reach from my regular vampire novels, but still filled with romance, action and maybe even a couple of twists to keep you busy.

Happy Halloween!!

Want to keep up with Robin Badillo and her books?

Find her at any of the sites below:

Blog: http://www.robinbadillo.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robin.badillo

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Robin_Badillo

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3zp5x2q

Publisher, eXtasy Books: http://tinyurl.com/3vmszta

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ghost Stories by Guest Blogger Teri Thackston

Teri watches BBC's Most Haunted and SyFy's Ghost Hunters religiously. I was so not surprised which book was her favorite. Wait! Did your that?

Bumps in the Night. A sense that you’re not alone in the house. Whispers on the Wind. Because it’s the Halloween season, it’s a great time to discuss scary stories. One of my favorite scary books is THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. Although this novel was first published in 1959, this haunted house story still gives me chills today.

The most recent movie adaptation of the book (starring Liam Neeson and Lily Taylor) was terrifying, but it didn’t come close to the spookiness of the novel. One scene that stands out in my memory—and still makes my arms pimple up with chills—is the one where the presence in the house pounds on the doors down the hall from the bedroom in which Eleanor and Theo huddle together in terror.

“…they heard the crash against the door across the hall. It was louder, it was deafening, it struck against the door next to them (did it move back and forth across the hall? did it go on feet along the carpet? did it lift a hand to the door?), and Eleanor threw herself away from the bed and ran to hold her hands against the door. “Go away,” she shouted wildly. “Go away, go away!” There was complete silence, and Eleanor thought, standing with her face against the door, Now I’ve done it; it was looking for the room with someone inside.” (*Jackson, Shirley, The Haunting of Hill House (p. 129, Penguin Classic. Kindle Edition.))

I tried to put some of that heart pounding eeriness into my haunted house story SCENT OF LAVENDER. In my novel, a ghost haunts the house on Black Tree Creek. New tenant Rob Sheridan has seen her, but Lily Graham—who grew up in the house—believes he’s lying. This haunting tale of betrayal, possession and seduction in the Texas Hill Country brings together the lonely war veteran and the beauty from his past…and the ghost that could drive them apart. Here’s a short excerpt:

A sigh sounded again somewhere beyond the milky dimness of his bedroom.

Fine hairs prickled across Rob’s bare shoulders. Shaking off the sensation, he forced himself to push back the sheet and get up. Despite his willingness to believe in ghosts—maybe he was crazy—he knew he’d sleep better if he found a logical explanation for that noise. There was also the possibility that the artists he planned to host at the house wouldn’t find a ghost as acceptable as he did.

Oak planks chilled his bare soles, creaking gently as he neared his closed bedroom doorway. Cold seeped upward along his ankles and shinbones, soaking into his marrow. His pajama pants offered little protection as the chill continued up his body and he hugged his arms over his bare chest in a vain attempt to warm himself.
Opening the door, he paused. The air in the corridor wasn’t as warm as he’d expected. Nor was the darkness as black. He could make out the staircase railing and the pale oblongs of six other doorways that opened off the upper corridor.

As he stood there studying the dim hallway, he heard the sigh again, fainter, coming from the front of the house. It was a shuddery sort of sigh that raised the hair on the back of his neck.

Tiptoeing along the corridor, he looked into each empty bedroom until he reached the one that overlooked the front yard. Pausing in that doorway, he peered inside. Gloom clung to empty corners, driven there by the blue-gray of the dawn coming on just beyond the parted window drapes. The scarred wooden floor gave off a flat gleam and the off-white walls appeared dull and softened by time.

Rob stepped inside. The wood beneath his feet gave out a quiet creak and for an instant he caught a sense of presence. Feminine and sad, it was as fleeting as the soft floral scent that accompanied it, gone just as he became aware of it.

As he stood there wondering if he had imagined that odd sense of presence and the sighs that had preceded it, the light in the room took on a hint of yellow. The sun was rising and what lay before him now was nothing but an empty room.

He stood still, searching the room with his eyes. It was bare of furniture, of personality, and yet he wondered who had lived here over the decades. He wondered, too, if, once lived in, a room could ever become truly empty again.

Slowly, he backed out of it and closed the door.

SCENT OF LAVENDER is available in digital format (print coming soon, I hope). Amazon.com has it at a great price, but my publisher’s price might be lower. Check Ellora's Cave or Amazon.

Thanks, Suzan, for inviting me to talk about spooky books for Halloween.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

When the Monsters Are All Too Human by Guest Blogger Tess St. John

Continuing our Halloween series this week is the terrific Tess St. John! In her books, the bad guys do despicable things to her heroines, so I wondered, "What actually scares Tess?"

When Suzan asked me to blog about “Books that give you chills” I couldn’t wait!!!

I didn’t read as a kid (not even required reading, don’t ask how I passed in school, I got by with what I learned in lectures), but I went to the movies all the time. HOWEVER, scary movies were not my thing. I spent all of HALLOWEEN (the original, yes, I’m that old…don’t go there) and JAWS sitting on the floor with my fingers in my ears humming to myself. I won’t even discuss THE SHINING or I’ll have nightmares tonight.

And while I might be totally frightened with movies, I found books were a different story.

After I married, my husband traveled a lot and would leave books behind after he’d read them. That’s when I discovered how much I enjoyed reading scary books. And Dean Koontz was one of my favorites. The first book I read of his was WATCHERS—From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose—OMG, I can still visualize the monster holding the Mickey Mouse cartoon he and the dog used to watch together, while begging the hero to kill him. **goosebumps**

And his book STRANGERS—THEY WERE STRANGERS. A handful of people. From different backgrounds, living in different towns and cities across America, they had nothing in common - except fear. THEY WERE VICTIMS. Cold and stark, an unknown terror gripped their dreams and turned their days into living nightmares. THEY WERE CHOSEN. And they could not escape. Deep in the heart of a sprawling desert, a dark memory called out to them drawing them to the Tranquility Motel - where the terrifying truth was waiting—I’m not sure how many of you have read it, but I still have the words “the moon” go through my mind every once in a while and feel a shiver race through my body!

And I’ll never forget the first time I read Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code. That first scene where the man is dying and positioning his body to be found as a clue, WOW. I still feel a bit of a tremor thinking of it.

I’m in awe of writers who have written something so visually and emotionally compelling, that I can remember the scenes decades later!

I thought when I started writing I would write thrillers, but found I didn’t have that jagged edge talent. But I do write Romantic Suspense, and I hope I raise a few hairs on people’s necks every once in a while!

Here’s an excerpt from my latest release, EYES OF JADE:

Eve peeked from under the jacket Jake held over them. Something was familiar about the guy on the motorcycle. Cloaked in black, the only color on the rider was a rainbow helmet. She’d seen that helmet before. When he reached inside his jacket, panic pulsed through her. This was a scene from Legally Mine.

“He’s got a detonator!” she screamed.

“Her car!” Stewart yelled.

Jake grabbed her shoulders and shoved her toward the building, away from her car.

A sonic boom exploded and shook the ground.

She tripped and lost her footing, landing on her hands and knees. Like a rag doll, her palms skidded out from under her, scraping the rough wet bricks. She turned her face, just as her cheek smashed to the pathway.

A body instantly covered hers—knocking the air from her lungs.

Heat assaulted her like an unharnessed furnace.

Gray smoke engulfed the air.

A car engine roared to life and peeled out—no doubt chasing the motorcycle.

Eve wished for a way to melt into the blood-red bricks.

Jake jumped up, seized her arm, and hauled her to her knees. “Can you walk?”

Stewart gripped her other arm and the two men lifted and carried her toward the street. Her feet hit the ground every once in a while, but she wasn’t using them. Her palms stung, and her head and cheek throbbed. The ringing in her ears resembled the bells used to wrap a day of shooting—except the ringing wouldn’t stop.

The men hustled her to one of the cars still waiting on the street. Agents surrounded the vehicle with their weapons drawn. One held the back door open, while Jake helped her inside and slid in beside her.

Stewart shot into the driver’s seat and sped off.

She glanced back at the inferno. A sickening déjà vu struck her as she remembered the same scene from Legally Mine. Her voice was nothing more than a coughing whisper. “My movies are coming back to haunt me.”

“Don’t.” Jake nodded toward the front of the car. “Don’t look back. Only forward.”

She twisted toward the front seat. Bullets. Explosions. Her life had become an action/adventure movie. Not one she wanted the starring role in, but it seemed she had no choice. She didn’t realize she was trembling until Jake cradled her hands in his. His touch a comfort she desperately needed. Rocking back and forth in her seat, her body jerked every so often.

Don’t look back. Only forward.

Easy for him to say. He hadn’t been shot at and almost blown up.

Wait.

Yes, he had.

But this was a life he’d chosen, signed up for. He promised not to let anything happen to her. She hoped he’d be able to keep that vow.

“Get down,” Stewart yelled.

Jake shoved her upper body to the seat and crouched over her.

The back window shattered.

She bit her lip to keep from screaming.

Stewart turned corner after corner and sped through the streets.

Flattened on the leather, facing the front seat, Jake’s now familiar body protected hers. Eve caught a whiff of his citrus cologne. Considering how close they’d been this morning, she was surprised she hadn’t noticed his subtle, clean scent earlier.

She tried to think of anything besides the motion sickness plaguing her. And the fact they were being chased. But she was too terrified for rational thought.

***
I want to thank Suzan for having me today, what a blast!

You can find out more about me and my books at my website.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monsters with Guest Blogger Will Graham

With only one week left until Halloween, a few friends have dropped by to talk about the creepy, the eerie and the down-right terrifying. Please welcome my first guest, the incomparable Will Graham!

It’s a moment I’ll never forget. My grandfather gave me a copy of THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The cover still lingers in my mind; a dark green background, Baskerville Manor in the fog… and the face of the Hound right there in front. (It was a Dell paperback, priced at .40 cents, which tells you how long ago this was!)

I didn’t read that book, I devoured it. I’d never read anything like this in my life. Fascinating and scary by turns, it was the single most amazing book I’d ever read, and it opened the floodgates to an obsession with reading that continues to this day.
A few months later, home in (at that time) Chicago, WGN was running late night movies. One particular commercial for the upcoming Fright Night Friday, was….. yeah, you guessed it. THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Hammer Studios version, starring Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes.

Negotiating, pleading, begging, pick your word, I was eventually granted Parental Permission to stay up late and watch it. It started at 10pm, way past my usual bedtime at that point. Determined? You have no idea.

So I did.

And it scared me to death.

I don’t mean it frightened me, or made me shiver. I’m talking about stark terror. Even at that age, I recognized some of the differences between the book and the movie (Hammer jazzed up the sexual components in the story, but at that age I was more interested in car chases and exploding briefcases).

I’d never seen anything as outright evil as The Hound, the climactic chase through the Moors was bad enough, but confronting The Hound was something that, to this day, I cannot quite find the words. I slept with a light on for months afterward and, I’ll confess it now, a BB gun under my pillow. It was THAT scary.

Flash forward thirty-plus years. VHS dominated the market, and there was a wonderful store at the time called Suncoast Motion Picture Company in the Mall. One Saturday, browsing the rack, I turned…. and there it was!

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Hammer Studios, 1959. I was too adult to bellow “Wow!” in the store, but it was in the back of my mind.

According to witnesses, I left a vapor trail when I snatched it from the rack.

I couldn’t wait to get home and pop it into the VCR and re-live it. I knew, I just knew, it would be wonderful and terrific and as amazing and scary as I remembered it.

What I remember now is feeling sorry for the Great Dane they strapped a paper-maché mask on and made run around with over-dubbed growling and snarling on the audio. It was so bad, you can even see the straps holding the mask on the poor dog from some angles.

It’s laughable now, but I’ll never forget the first time I saw the movie. OR the first time I read the book. To this day, it’s a favorite. Somewhere over the years, I lost the copy my grandfather gave me, but there’s an entire bookcase full of Holmesian works.

When I re-wrote SOMETIMES, THERE REALLY ARE MONSTERS UNDER THE BED, once I got a grip on the newest version of it, there’s a moment I remember thinking, “I’m gonna scare Conan Doyle himself with this one, it’s only fair!”

I deliberately wrote the final confrontation in a howling rainstorm with powerful winds bashing the hero and villain about, on a rooftop, vulnerable both to each other and the elements. The setting is a multi-story building in modern times, but in my mind it was set in another time, a long-ago time, on the Grimpen Mire in the Moors, where The Hound bayed at the moon and warned the populace to stay out.

Did it work? I can’t really say. But I’d like to imagine Sherlock Holmes himself might smile kindly about Michael O’Leary and the drastic -- but final -- solution to the mystery….

Will Graham is the pseudonym of a Houston private investigator specializing in computer forensics. Will's latest book Sometimes, There Really Are Monsters Under the Bed is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Best Halloween Movie Ever!

In honor of the holiday, check out the bestest theme song of the bestest Halloween movie EVAH!

Feel free to sing along.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

All's Quiet on the Texas Front

Sorry I've been silent for the last few days. After getting Seasons of Magic: Summer up on the retail sites, I had to concentrate on getting caught up on homeschool stuff.

The life of a wfie, mother and entrepeneur is always a juggling act, but some things slip more to the wayside than other on a release week.  So for the next few days, I'll be concentrating on school and some fun stuff with GK.  Things like Halloween cookies, Real Steel and a play date with friends, as well as the Indus Valley civilization, rate-time-distance problems and how electricity works.

If you've already ploughed through Summer, don't worry.  Edits are continuing on Zombie Wedding, and I'm well into the second chapter of Seasons of Magick: Autumn. You'll definitely have more to read soon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's Official! Summer is Here!



I wanted to make sure all my links were live before I made the official announcement, but Seasons of Magick: Summer is out!

The Blurb
Welcome to Morrigan’s Cauldron! But be careful what you ask for because this little Greenwich Village shop can deliver your heart’s desire. Or your greatest nightmare.

Shan Wong thought when she broke up with her boyfriend Mark, he couldn’t hurt her anymore…until she discovers he’s planned his revenge on her by committing suicide and turning himself into a kiang shi—a zombie with super-human powers.

Jamal Washington has loved Shan since they were children. When he thinks he finally has a chance with her, her ex comes back from the dead to kill her…and anyone who gets in the way. Is the ancient sword the magick shop owner gave him enough to stop Zombie Mark? And is Jamal brave enough to win Shan’s love as well as save her life?

Novella, approximately 25,000 words or 90 printed pages


“This story somehow combines hot sex, young love, and some startling zombie moments that still make me shudder!” –Author Nina Cordoba

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

Monday, October 10, 2011

All Hallows Read

Here's a positive Public Service Announcement from the ever-charming Neil Gaiman:



Now go buy or borrow scary books for your loved ones!

Friday, October 7, 2011

How Do You Pick an E-Book?

I used to love going to a bookstore.  So much potential entertainment.  How do I pick that one special book to take home and savor?

I used to think I'd never pick up an e-book.  Reading is such a sensory experience. The slick cover, the rough edges.  The distinctive smell of freshly milled paper and ink that was liquid last month.  The brilliant color of the cover.  The crisp rustle as the page turned.

Then I was away on business in a hotel room on a frigid January night.  And I realized I'd left the paperback I'd planned to stow in my suitcase on the nightstand at home.  My choices: Kangaroo Jack, a UFC event, and several craptastic commercial programs.  So I downloaded a e-book on my PC.

I was captured by the story, and next thing I knew it nearly two in the morning.  Guess what?  I didn't miss the sensory experiences like I thought I would.  Because when it came down to it, the author in conjunction with my imagination created a whole different experience.  Just like a good writer should.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Vampires Are Just Regular Folks

Please welcome my special guest blogger, the terrific Tea Trelawny!  Take it away, Tea!

Did you ever wonder what vampires do when they’re not imbibing their favorite beverage or sleeping the day away? If ‘real’ vampires are anything like the ones in the books we read, they do just about anything they like. If you’re a regular reader on this site, then you know that Suzan Harden’s sexy vampire hero Duncan St. James is suspected to be a mobster in her book Zombie Love (Bloodlines). In Kerrelyn Spark’s Love at Stake series, the vampires pursue many occupations from security specialists to genetic scientists and television stars. Robin Badillo’s heroine Raven Prince in her Blood Hunter series is unemployed as she runs from vampire hunters in the series opener.

In my new Moon Racers erotic romance series, the vampires race motorcycles in between seductions. The first book, Start Your Engines, features Rory Shaw, a young man turned into a vampire as he was dying from injuries sustained in a terrible motorcycle crash. Horrified when he nearly kills the first woman upon whom he feeds, he allows his lover Cherry Lee to believe that he did die in the crash. But Cherry discovers he’s alive and she is determined to win back her man. Fearing he will accidentally kill her, Rory tries to resist her advances. But Cherry uses her erotic charms to seduce him and help him learn to trust himself, even as other vampires in the series may not be such honorable characters.

Detectives, doctors, deep sea divers…today’s vampire heroes and heroines can be just about anything they want. But no matter how ‘regular’ they are, in romance novels, vampires remain seductive and attractive. They intrigue our imaginations and help us, as readers, to feel a little less regular ourselves.

Start Your Engines, Book One of the Moon Racers, the erotic vampire series by Téa Trelawny

Adult excerpt:

Rory caught her wrist before she could hit him again. In spite of how much he wanted her at that moment, he gave her a shake—gently, mindful of his increased strength. One wrong jerk and he’d snap her delicate bones.

Still holding her wrist, he leaned close to her and said, “Calm down, Cherry.”

“I will not calm down.” She tried to pull her arm free. “I want answers.”

A shadow fell over Rory’s face.

“Perhaps I can be of assistance.”

Rory looked up. Damon stood barely two feet away, watching Cherry with that look of hunger in his eyes once more.

Whispers swirled through Rory’s mind. He had lowered his guard and the inner thoughts of others were sweeping into his head. His gaze shifted and he saw that they had drawn a crowd of onlookers.

He pulled Cherry close to his side as he faced Damon. “I think you helped plenty seven months ago.”

Damon’s lips curled upward, parting just enough to reveal his incisors. His canines remained hidden. But not for long, Rory feared. He pulled Cherry closer.

“I just thought Cherry might want to hear the truth,” Damon said, folding his arms over his chest.

“I’ll be the one to explain the truth to her.”

Rory felt her shudder. Like other humans, she could sense something was wrong with Damon…and with him. But she didn’t want to accept what her primitive instincts were telling her.


Available in digital formats at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Suzan's Note:  Since Tea and I are critique partners, I got to read Start Your Engines before anyone else.  This is one hot story, and I'm already nagging Tea to finish the tale of Rory's cousin Cameron.

Monday, October 3, 2011

TxDOT v. Christie Craig: The Write-In Campaign

Several writers in the Houston area, including me, wrote to the Texas Department of Transportation in regards to Civil Action No.1:11-cv-726, i.e. their lawsuit against Texas romance writer, Christie Craig for alleged violation of the state's trademark.  The responses most of the writers recieved were generally dismissive and condecending.

So we're going over TxDOT's head, and we're asking all writers and readers to help.

Please contact Texas Governor Rick Perry and ask him to stop this travesty.  The main points that refute this lawsuit are:

1)  TxDOT's counsel admitted to Judge Sam Sparks in open court that NONE of TxDOT's trademark registrations apply to books.

2)  TxDOT claims that Ms. Craig's book ruins their reputation because it contains scenes between a heterosexual couple in a committed relationship practicing safe sex.  Yet, TxDOT believes selling men's thongs with the trademark clearly stamped on the front does not.

3)  TxDOT has not sued other entities using the title 'Don't Mess With Texas.' Other works using the title include a rap song, a magazine article and several country songs.  Please note that ALL of these other situations I mention involve an artist or a controlling party who is MALE.

4)  TxDOT is wasting money pursuing this action that is all likelihood they will lose when Texas is in a fiscal crisis.

We ask that you contact Gov. Perry directly and protest this lawsuit.

Snail Mail:  The Honorable Rick Perry, PO Box 12428, Austin, TX 78711-2428
Website:  http://governor.state.tx.us/contact/
Phone No:  (512) 463-2000
Twitter: @GovernorPerry (mention @TxDOT and @Christie_Craig)

We also ask that you tweet, FB and blog this information.

Even if you don't live in Texas, this matter concerns you since Gov. Perry is running for President of the United States.

Please spread the word.  No government should bully a writer because they dislike that writer's content.  And frankly, this lawsuit is not about a trademark. It's an attempt by a state to bypass the First Amendment and harass a author based on her subject matter and her gender.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More on TxDot Versus Christie Craig

TxDOT is lke the dog with a chew toy that just won't let go. Discovery has started in Case No. 1:11-cv-726.  Apparently, Judge Sparks pointing out in his ruling on the TRO and permanent injunction that a romance writer can't really harm the state fell on deaf ears.

Nor did reality sink in when the state's attorney ADMITTED IN OPEN COURT that NONE of the state's trademark registrations APPLIED TO BOOKS.

In the original complaint, TxDOT's biggest objection was that Christie's book "contain numerous graphic references to sexual acts, state of arousal, etc."

Okay, TxDOT, if you're that worried about sex, why do you sell these?


Yes, this thong is available for sale by the great state of Texas.  And people wonder why I think the lawsuit against Christie is really an attack on women's rights.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Workin' for a Livin'

Since I'm waiting on the crit partners and beta reader to get back to me about Seasons of Magick: Summer, I've started writing Seasons of Magick: Autumn and editing Zombie Wedding.

I think the multi-tasking is the hardest thing for readers to understand. While I wish the writing life was like Joan Wilder's from Romancing the Stone, it's just not that glamorous.

So what about you readers?  What do you think the writing life is like?  I'd like to hear your questions.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Happy Mabon!

Today's Mabon, aka the Autumn Equinox, aka the first day of Fall.  I hope everyone has a brilliant, glorious day!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mission Accomplished!

I'm making my second editing pass on Seasons of Magick: Summer before I hand it off to crit partners and beta readers.  It'l be on the virtual shelves soon.  Very soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

RAIN!

Over the weekend, the skies over Houston turned gray. Then this strange liquid fell.

Rain! Wow!

It's been six months since we've seen any significant rainfall. The inch and a half doesn't make that much of a dent. But we're grateful.

Now if we can just get a little more.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Someone Please Shoot Me

Why is it that people with diseases feel the need to share them with the public? And what the fuck ever happened to simple manners?

In the last week, I've been coughed and sneezed on, not by little kids (who I could forgive for not knowing better), but by adults (who should). Not one of these people even tried to cover their mouth and nose. Disgusting doesn't begin to describe my feelings.

And being immuno-compromised, the odds were I would get sick.

Right now, I have the most awful sinus headache.  I really wish my eyeballs would just explode and get it over with.  Maybe I should go to Starbuck's and spread the wealth.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guest Blog by Robin Badillo - Overcoming Obstacles

I'm a sucker for a vampire story, so I was ecstatic when I met fellow paranormal author Robin Badillo. Robin's one of the people that you can't help but be impressed with. Once you hear her story, you'll understand why. Take it away, Robin!

Thank you so much for inviting me for a visit, Suzan.

As an author in the public eye, I could talk about my books all day and probably never take a breath. But talk about myself? Uhh, not so much.

What is there to say?

Okay, I guess I could tell you about my three story mansion and latest whip, (that would be of the luxury “car” variety), or about my indoor pool and private bowling alley. I could also mention the tennis/basketball courts and private theater where I often preview new movie releases before their public premiers. (I usually invite Bobby Di Nero, George, Brad and Angelina over for popcorn on those nights)

I’m sure you would be dazzled by my state-of-the-art kitchen, personally designed by Martha Stewart or I could show you photos of my designer wardrobe…but if I did I would not only be a writer of fiction, but a magician as well.

Needless to say, I have none of that stuff… with the exception of Bobby and the Gang on speed dial… Yeah, right!

The truth of the matter is I’m just a country girl with a high school education and average intelligence at best. I’ve slung burgers, waited tables, changed diapers in a daycare or three, bussed tables, operated a drive-thru cash register and done just about any other blue-collar job one can think of.

I’ve worked in education and at one time was even trained to give parenting classes for our local school district. What were they thinking?

Along the way, I managed to get married, had a couple of kids, adopted a couple more, vacationed, paid bills, became a member of a typical two income household… all while trying to live the American dream.

Things were chugging along at an even pace until my husband of fifteen years had a massive coronary due to an undetected blood clot and passed away in his sleep. Forty-two years old, in the prime of his life and he was gone in the blink of an eye, leaving me behind with four kids, a stack of bills and not a freakin’ clue.

What did I do about it?

The only thing I could do. I pulled up my big girl panties and survived!

Writing had always been a therapeutic outlet since my teen years. What once had been a love of poetry and rhymes had soon morphed into journal entries and writing short stories. Most were written as personal reflections of day to day life and how I saw the world around me. More often than not, the entries were a bit on the cynical side with a smidgen of tongue-in-cheek humor.

In 2004, just two years before the loss of my husband, I penned my first full length novel, a cougar story, written in long hand because I had no typing skills and had no idea how to create a document on a computer. Sad but true.

Flash forward a few years and there I was with four kids, still no skills to speak of and fresh out of ideas of finding employment where I could still be a full time mother and keep a roof over our heads. It wasn’t long before a friend called saying that a few teachers I used to work with had suddenly found themselves without childcare and hoped I could give them a hand.

Poof, I was in the kid business once again, and still NOT back to writing.

In 2009, my daughter asked if I would rent a little movie called Twilight. The idea of a romance with vampires sounded interesting enough having always been a fan of the genre. I hadn’t read the books, but my son, who was in high school at the time, said all of the girls he knew were really into the saga.
I ran out, bought the first one and jumped right in. By the time I was on book two, New Moon, my daughter was all about Edward Cullen and ready to put an ad in the local newspaper seeking her very own sparkly vampire…not a good idea for a thirteen year old.

My best friend and I often discussed the books, not realizing the things we talked about were slowly but surely igniting my imagination in ways it had never been sparked before.

One afternoon, while driving home down our long, curvy road, my mind began to wander. It’s a miracle I didn’t crash as my thoughts drifted to a dark alley where a young woman in her early twenties had awoken confused, dirty, disheveled, without a hint of memory as to how she came to be there and not a clue that she was now… a vampire.

I couldn’t get home fast enough. I called my best friend, excited and out of breath and relayed my vision to her.

“Why are you on the phone, wasting time with me?” she asked.

Click.

That was all I needed to hear.

Sydney Chance was born and the rest is… well you know how that goes.

Paranormal romance is now a major element in our lives, complete with worlds where anything goes and if I can dream it, a story can be told. I’ve had so much fun learning and sharpening my writing skills and goodness has my craft improved, not to mention the heat levels have cranked up a degree or two. *insert gas here*

I now have two vampire trilogies under my belt, with a single title, Midnight Beckoning, due out in November. But if I have learned anything over the last few years, it would be not to limit myself or my potential.

On September 15th, my first ever contemporary romance will be released and let me warn readers…there isn’t a fang in sight!

Flesh Wounds will bring this writer back to her roots with some good old fashioned, down home, Texas lovin’. Now, that doesn’t mean the hero is a cowboy, but he’s definitely one hell of a good ol’ boy.
I hope you’ll follow me on this new journey of uncharted territory and stick around to see that the stars have in store for me next. Who knows, my sexy vampires just may get some competition from other fanged creatures.

Now wouldn’t that be something to howl at? *wink wink*

Blurb
After five years away, Julia Benson has finally come home. Facing the painful memories awaiting her in the small Texas town is nothing compared the mess she’ll make when she gets there. Dealing with the ripple affect leaving caused the ones she loved is just as hard as dealing with being abandoned by a father who wasn’t everything she’d believed him to be.

Dylan Banks was the boy from across the street who’d loved Julia since they were twelve. She was the only girl for him and the only one he couldn’t have. Unable to repair that broken part of the girl he loved so much from afar, he now had a second chance to fill the void the only way he could… love her until she got it through her thick skull that not every man was like her father.

Can love really repair all that has gone wrong in Julia’s life or are some wounds just too deep to heal?

* * *
For more information about the raveshing Robin Badillo and her books:

Website: http://www.robinbadillo.com/
Blog- Sealed with a Kiss: http://www.robinbadillo.blogspot.com/
eXtasy Books: http://www.extasybooks.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/robin.badillo
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/robin_badillo

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Birthday Conundrum

Tomorrow is DH's birthday.  DH has a history of some really crappy bithdays.  Two girlfriends have dumped him on his special day. One year was spent in his oncologist's office with chemo drugs pumping through him.  One year at his favorite restaurant, a new waitress offered him the Senior Platter (the poor guy's been gray since eighteen). Then there's three years ago when Ike made landfall at Galveston. So needless to say, I try to make his birthdays something to remember.

Except this year, I'm running into some issues.

He already stole my Kindle, and the only other electronic toys he wants besides an e-reader are a large flatscreen TV and an iPhone, both of which are out of my price range. (Looking back, I shouldn't have given him the anthology that just came out with the new Harry Dresden story.)

I have to work tomorrow night, but the local theater has a special screening of the new Brad Pitt baseball movie. But no, he doesn't want to go without the whole family going.

What about lunch at his favorite restaurant? No, the only car running right now is the 'Vette and we can't cram the whole family into it.

What if I pick up a carry-out order from said favorite restaurant? No, he wants to sit down in the restaurant.

AARRGGHH!

Any body have any ideas? I thought I had time before the grumpy middle-age shit started.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember


[This is the first post I wrote for 9/11 on my other blog. It runs every year on this date.]

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I watched nearly 3,000 people die on live TV while sitting in the treatment chair at my dentist's office.

When I got home, there was a message from my friend, Lanelle. "Don't bother coming to the office. They're shutting down our building and the Galleria."

I called DH. "Get GK and come home now. It's bad."

The rest of the day we listened to fighters out of Ellington Field fly patrols over Houston. In between the passes, an eerie silence blanketed the city.

Have things gotten better? Yes and no. We heal, but we cannot forget.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Reality Sucks

Don't know if you've read my profile or watched the news, but I live in Texas, specificly the Houston Metro area. We're the green area of the state, just off the Gulf of Mexico, so usually there's high humidity in the summer.  Humidity so high we practically have thunderstorms every afternoon.

Not this year though.

This year the entire state is suffering form one of the hottest summers and the worst droughts on record. When you consider ninety-two degrees Fahrenheit to be cool, it's bad.

Wildfires are something that's normally a problem just in west Texas.

Right now there's a wildfire north of the city around the little town of Magnolia. We woke up to yesterday morning to what we thought was light fog. No such luck.

GK and I tried to walk the dog, but the smoke got so thick we had to turn back.  I just did laundry and you could still smell it on our clothes.

I'm not belittling the awfulness of losing a home, like a lot of folks in Magnolia have, or even more tragic, the city of Bastrop.  I'm scared that it'll happen to me too.

The possibility of a wildfire in the middle Houston is very real.  Half the trees in Memorial Park are dead thanks to the drought.  The Addicks Resevoir, which is normally a gigantic swamp, has already had one fire that burned approximately 700 acres.  Other parks and green areas around Harris County are in even worse shape. All it'll take is a spark in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I think I'd rather sit through Hurricane Ike again. Three years ago, I knew it would be over by morning.

There's no end for this disaster in sight now.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What Makes a Story a Classic

GK is reading C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe for his first week of school.  (He actually wants the next Rick Riordan Olympians novel, but that won't come out for another month.)

Last night, GK picked out The Empire Strikes Back for our movie night.

What makes these stories timeless?  Why do we get caught up having tea with Lucy and Mr. Tumnus sixty-one years after the book was first published?  Why do we feel Han's desperation in finding Luke before night falls on Hoth when they could both freeze to death thirty-one years after the movie's debut?

Maybe because there  is something inherently human in these stories.  Maybe because it doesn't matter what origins the story is based or what themes are presented.

Maybe because we're the same deep down, and these stories display that fundmental truth for all to see.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Most Horrible Time of the Year . . .

 . . . if you're a kid.

Yep, that's right.  GK starts back to school tomorrow.  For those who've just stumbled on my website or blog, I homeschool.

Not because I'm some religious freak, but for two reasons:

1)  My kid is literally a genius.

2)  The Texas public school system sucks.

Honestly, I wish I was one of those parents who thinks her kid is a 'speshul snoflake.'

Really. I do.

But DH and I had GK tested and everything.  (After people who "specialize in early childhood development" told us there was something wrong with him--everything from ADD to sociopathy.)  GK's IQ officially tested at 136, but the child psychologist is certain he fucked up a couple of the tests on purpose and is closer to 150-160.  Yep, that's right.  I've got my own little Sheldon Cooper.

(The only reason GK hasn't tried to buy yellow cake uranium online is because we threatened him that if he ever used any of our credit or debit cards without permission, he would NEVER touch the Corvette.  Never underestimate the power of a sports car.)

Now, put a kid like that in a school system that is totally irrational, illogical, and its only purpose is to teach children how to take standardized multi-choice exam.  (Before anyone jumps on my case, I blame the politicians and school boards, not the teachers whose hands are tied by a lot of stupid-ass rules.)

Calling the situation 'recipe for disaster' is like saying the Apollo 13 rescue was nothing more than a spring break vacation.

So, yes, I homeschool.

Please, excuse me while I go brush up on my calculus and quantum mechanics.

Friday, September 2, 2011

There's Hope As Long As You Worship the Same God I Do

I was curious at people's tastes in books in Wednesday's post question.  Do people prefer to read about someone just like them or would they take a chance on characters not quite like themselves?

I want to thank everyone who participated both by leaving comments or e-mailing me privately.

I think what surprised me most was how loose definitions had become on what's "different."  Race, ethnicity, national origin didn't matter as long as the characters were true and the story was entertaining.

Religion is another matter.  As a non-Christian, I'm very conscious of this particular predilection in the U.S.  I stayed in the broom closet for years, more for my clients' protection than mine.  Texas isn't exactly the most tolerant of states when it comes non-Christians.  I knew judges and juries would hold their bias concerning my beliefs against my clients.

Now that I'm no longer practicing law and openly wear my pentacles, I get a jerky comment about once a year.  For the most part, people either don't care or are smart enough to keep their bigotry to themselves.

Then there's the times that people seem to forget who they're talking to.

The most weirdly amusing comment came privately.  Let me make my stance perfectly clear, folks.  I'm not the least bit troubled by mixed-religion relationships.  I'm in one.  So don't expect me to agree this is a bad thing.  It ain't going to happen.

Besides, DH and I have a bet going on whether GK will become a Zen Buddhist or a Shi'ite Muslim.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cultural Mash-ups

They don't call America the Great Melting Pot for nothing.  Our culture is a hodgepodge.  Heck, my family seriously hodged the podge.  My dad's family is primarily German; Mom's is Irish.  I've got cousins on both sides who have Japanese ancestry.  Then there's cousins from Costa Rica and cousins who vacationed next to the Kennedys.  Most of my paternal grandfather's neighbors were Amish. Then there's me, a neo-pagan, who's married to a Methodist.  My Luthern uncle performed the ceremony.

So I have a tendency to write characters from all over. In fact, one of my friends accused me of throwing in everything but the kitchen sink after reading the holiday scene in Blood Magick.  Of course, this is the same friend with an Anglo father, a Mexican-American mother, and a Chinese-American husband.

So, readers, I'm curious.  Does mixing cultures in books bother you?  Why or why not?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Turning Scars into Art

I stumbled across this article in The Seattle Times (I think SF writer Jay Lake had the link to it), and nearly a month later I still can't get it out of mind.  Tattoo artist Roni Falgout has made a name for herself by creating art out of mastectomy scars.

Maybe it hits close to home because one of my great-grandmothers lost all of her siblings, including her brother, to breast cancer.  (Yes, folks, guys can get it too!)  Nearly ten years ago, I had my first lumpectomy (which thank the Goddess turned out to be nothing).  A good friend lost her mother to this disease, long before my friend graduated from college, much less walked down the aisle or gave birth to her darling daughter.

We talk about breast cancer, only it's in terms of raising money for research.  We rarely talk about the human cost of the disease.  When my husband went through chemotherapy, we met a woman named Mary who was about the same age.  Mary endured a double mastectomy and chemo in the hopes of seeing her girls grow up.  As Mary remarked one to me one time, she only cried twice: once when she saw her post-surgical scars and once when her eyelashes fell out from the poison the doctor injected into her body once a week.

Sixteen years and several thousand miles later, I'd like to think Mary is attending her youngest daughter's college graduation.  And maybe, underneath her proper cotton blouse, she has some of Roni's flowers.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fangirl SQUEE

I admit I'm a major geek when it comes to Underworld.  Such a geek, I squealed with glee when I learned Underworld: Awakening is coming out in a few months.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Mess With Christie Craig



Yeehaw!  My friend Christie Craig has another thigh-slapping mystery out!  Don't Mess with Texas has scary thrills, steamy passion, and a coffin-lovin' bulldog named Budweiser.

Blurb
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Monday, August 22, 2011

Angry Birds

This last weekend was Tax-Free Weekend here in Texas.  For those outside of the Lone Star state, there's one weekend in August where the state doesn't collect sales tax on clothing and school supplies, officially to help strapped and stressed parents.

For my Day Job, I work at a card and gift shop at one of the local malls.  Tax-Free Weekend usually means Dead-as-a-Doornail Weekend because, well, we're not exactly a kid-focused business.  Not to mention, the last thing frazzled parents are thinking about the weekend before school starts is birthday cards and Precious Moment figurines.

This weekend was the exception. We had received a shipment of plush Angry Birds.

I've never played Angry Birds, so a nineteen-year-old co-worker had to explain the game to me.  Frankly, if someone slingshotted me at pigs, I'd be pissed too.

Anyway, we not only made sales goal on Tax-Free Weekend, we went way beyond goal thanks to parents bribing their kids into good behavior.

So to all the kids, thanks for not giving your parents grief and netting me my bonus for the month.

And to the Angry Birds, I promise never to launch you at pigs.  I've seen the Hitchcock movie.  Your rage ain't pretty.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Husband Stole My Knidle

A couple of weeks ago, I did a favor for my friend Nina Cordoba.  Apparently, it was such a good favor that she asked, "Do you want a Kindle?  We have an extra one."

Well, duh!

But thinking I'd misunderstood, I asked how much she wanted for it.  Nope, no mistake.  She was giving it to me.  (The reason for having an EXTRA Kindle in the first place involves very long story about her tech-geek, rock-god husband.  I won't bore you with Mr. Cordoba's, um, fetishes.)  A Kindle.  In freakin' mint condition!

Unfortunately, my own DH has similar, um, fetishes in regards to tech toys.  My ownership of the Kindle lasted all of five seconds.  Long enough for me to pull the device out of my bag and said, "Wanna see my new Kindle?"

Twenty seconds later, DH has the Kindle registered in his name.  Then he assures me that I "can use it whenever I want."

Yeah, right.

I gave him twenty bucks for an Amazon card and said, "Consider this your birthday present."

Think I won't get revenge?  I bought a Barbie Collectibles Captain Jack Sparrow doll yesterday.  DH can't say a thing.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Movie Mania Monday

Sorry, folks!  No movie reviews this weekend.

After seeing previews, DH and I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be a little too intense for GK.  And the kid had no interest in seeing Conan. So we ended up watching The Big Bang Theory most of the weekend. (It's Texas and it's a hundred freakin' degrees. Not even the critters want to be outside right now.)

If I can get the book I'm currently formatting done by Wednesday (unfortunately it's freelance project, not my book), I'll head over to the theater by myself for a little ape action.  Besides, I'm a sucker for John Lithgow no matter what movie he's in.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hard at Work


Hope y'all are enjoying the last free days of summer!  Speaking of which, here's a sneak peek at Seasons of Magick: Summer!

Chapter 1

Jamal Washington watched the crowd milling in front of the Wong's restaurant across the street. Most of the kids he recognized from the neighborhood or high school. Most of them were trouble only when teachers and parents weren’t looking. Most of them were friends of Mark Li’s.

He looked over his shoulder. “We should call the cops, Rain.”

At the ancient wood counter, Rain Bean looked up from her paperwork. Her eyes narrowed when she caught sight of the mob. “What’s going on over there?”

Jamal blinked in surprise. The owner of Morrigan’s Cauldron was usually plugged into the Greenwich Village gossip network. “You didn’t hear?”

She turned her sharp gaze on him.

He shrugged. “Shan’s ex-boyfriend Mark hung himself last night.”

A silver eyebrow arched. “Really?”

He didn’t say anything. No reason to since Rain’s freaky ESP probably already knew he was involved. Sort of.

Her silver eyebrows knitted a frown. “Did you tie the knot on the rope?”

His eyes widened. “Shit, no!”

A wicked smile lit her face. “Then quit feeling guilty. Mark Li was a bully and a—”

Someone banged on the delivery door of the store. Rain inclined her head toward the back. “Go let Shan in.” She resumed staring at the crowd.

A thread of unease wiggled its way up his spine. It wasn’t that Rain knew things. He’d learned from the time he could walk that he couldn’t get away with anything around her. No, it was the anger sparking in Rain’s eyes. It took a lot to piss off the old woman.

Shan had begged him not to tell anyone about what Mark did to her. And he hadn’t. At least, not to anyone who didn’t already know. He had the sinking feeling Rain had just pulled the truth from his brain.

Jamal jogged to the back door and yanked it open. A gust of hot air boiled into the already stifling storage room. Shan stood there, shivering despite the late July temperatures. He squelched the urge to wrap his arm around her.

She gave him a tentative smile. “I was supposed to work today. My grandmother called while I was still on the bus and said to come here instead.”

He waved her in, not trusting his tongue. Damn, she looked fine despite the red rimming her amber eyes.

Anger seeped through his blood at the sight of her puffy skin and forced words into his mouth. “Please tell me you’re not crying for that asshat.”

She shook her head. The motion sent her high ponytail swinging. Glossy, black hair he wanted to run his fingers through.

Her throat bobbed. “Mark’s parents called mine. They said some awful things. Said it was my fault.”

God, how he wanted to hug her. Sooth away her pain. She was too beautiful, too sweet for this kind of shit. “It’s not.”

She jumped at the sharpness in his voice.

More rage poured through his nerves. The bastard had definitely done a number on Shan. “Look, you did the right thing breaking up with him. I still think you should have pressed charges.”

She glanced around, obviously checking for the older members of the staff. “He left a message on my voice mail last night. He said he’d get us both. What did you do, Jamal?” Her voice was little more than a hoarse whisper.

He suppressed a snort of disgust. Like the asshat could do anything if he were lying in the city morgue. “Nothing that I shouldn’t have done a long time ago.” Just the memory of Li standing over Shan in the band room drew a circle of rage around his heart.

But he wasn’t stupid enough to land his own butt in jail. Of course, his growth spurt the last year of high school helped. Mark wasn’t such a cocky little fucker when someone towered a good six inches over the bastard.

The look in her eyes became suspicious.

He raised his hands. “I swear, Shan. I didn’t touch him. All I did was tell him to leave you alone.”

The wary expression on her face didn’t go away, but she didn’t press things between them. “What’s going on at the restaurant?”

Again, he shrugged. “Just some of Mark’s toadies trying to cause trouble.”

Shan pushed past him and marched toward the storefront.

Jamal followed, admiring the swing of her hips under her shorts. Pink looked good on her. Always had. Ever since kindergarten.

When they entered the showroom, Rain stood before the huge plate window, peering past the gold lettering that spelled out the name of her store. Her lips moved, but she didn’t say anything.

Anticipation raced along his nerves. He know that look on Rain's face, had seen the same look on his mom's. He didn’t have to wait long. Across the street, the joints on the fire hydrant at the corner cracked. The teens gathered in front of the restaurant stared at it. He imagined the groan of metal on metal freaked them out as much as the bolts on the hydrant twisting without help. Then water exploded from the fixture.

The high-pressure spray nailed Bill Mailer in the face. He stumbled back and tripped over his girlfriend. They both toppled to the concrete sidewalk. The blast of water followed, dousing the rest of the group. Kids scrambled out of the way, but water arched from the top of the hydrant. Shouts and cries filled the street as they tried to evade the steady gush.

Jamal snickered. Served them right for trying to intimidate the Wongs, and Shan in particular. His humor died when he realized where the gush from the hydrant guided the group. They made a beeline for Morrigan's Cauldron. “Rain?”

The water from the hydrant faltered, then sputtered to a stop. Rain blinked. She turned and smiled. “It’ll be all right.”

While he respected the old woman’s peculiar abilities, they were outnumbered. The last thing he wanted was to see these idiots trash her store. He leaned close to Shan and tried to ignore the sweet scent of jasmine in her hair. “Got your cell?”

She nodded in response to his whisper, but her attention remained on the crowd as they crossed the street.

“Get in the back and call 9-1-1.”