I love a variety of books from romances, to teen fantasy, to horror. I enjoy the artwork and storylines in graphic novels, and have been known to pick up childrens' books if the book description hooks me.
The oldest of the Jamison triplets, hereditary witch and criminal defense
attorney, Astra Jamison knows more about the laws of magick than her two
sisters. She serves the Goddess but believes those who hurt and harm people
who can’t defend themselves should be punished, abhorring it when
innocents suffer. She is always willing to dole out her kind of justice to
anyone who offends her, often sending them to gruesome deaths. When she and
her sisters open a time portal to 1888 Liberty Valley to save two people
from a serial killer, the last thing she expects is to have the wizard she
views as an age-old enemy return, seeking retribution for sins she committed
in the past.
Wizard and healer in more than one life, Rowdy Tall-Deer struggled to
survive when his soul-matched mate arranged his murder time and again,
having rogue shape-shifters attack and eat him alive. Discovering a time
portal that leads to the 21st century and the witch who betrayed him means
making new plans. Does he opt for vengeance or attempt to learn the truth
behind her machinations? Nothing is as it seems when her demon father
becomes involved, determined to continue a war that began eons ago.
Will love finally conquer evil or is history doomed to repeat itself for
their next life?
Other Books in the Liberty Valley Love series:
Liberty Valley Love – “Where no matter what, soulmates find
Josie Malone lives on the family farm, a riding stable in the Cascade
foothills where she organizes most of the riding programs, teaches
horsemanship, nurses sick horses, holds for the shoer, trains whoever needs
it – four-legged and two-legged. And writes books in her spare time,
Liberty Valley Love, a paranormal western romance series, “where no
matter what, soulmates find each other” and the Baker City Hearts and
Haunts, a paranormal military romance series – “where love is
real and so are the ghosts!”
Available at Audible Narrated by Umi Markannen Published by Changeling Press Duration: 4 hours 49 minutes
I was daddy’s little girl, until he didn’t come home one day. Mom moved on, married a rich guy I can’t stand, and his son, Sebastian Rossi, wants what he can’t have—me.
I didn’t realize when I chose to run that I would crash down a mountain, or that the man who pulled me from the wreckage would rescue me in every way that counts.
Rocky is the biggest, sexiest badass I’ve ever seen. And the more time I spend with him, the more I want to feel his lips on mine, his hands holding me, his body claiming me. I want him so bad I can taste it, but the stubborn man says I’m too young.
I’ll just have to prove him wrong.
All I wanted was to brood in peace and quiet on my mountaintop while I tried to outrun my demons. I never expected that past to show up in the form of a sexy as f–k woman—a woman I shouldn’t touch.
I’m not only 20 years older than her, I’m part of the reason her dad never came home. I’ll do anything it takes to keep her safe, even go home to Alabama. My brothers, the Dixie Reapers, will help protect her.
I’m just not sure who’s going to protect her from me, because if I ever get my hands on all those curves, I’m not ever going to let her go.
How Not to Date a Dragon Lord is now available from Changeling Press!
About the Book…
War is coming.
Vissar sends Alita, his Dragon Lord who speaks with his voice, to the village below with orders for the upcoming invasion. Trouble is, Alita would rather burn the village to the ground than speak with any of them.
But orders are orders and Alita, along with her lover, the runaway princess Suli, in tow must venture down to the village. Explosive secrets are bound to be revealed and Alita is forced to deal with her own painful past as a dragon sacrifice.
Meanwhile, the army is advancing, Vissar’s heat is rapidly approaching, his mate Nithe is off finalizing business in the dragon lands, and the idiot Prince Ranid keeps advancing, despite the drama unfolding in his own camp…
How’s it going? I hope you are all doing well. I have been tasked with writing a blog post so fiendishly brilliant that everyone will stop to read and unicorns will invade the earth and everyone would really get down to teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony… and since none of that appears to be happening right now, I’d better just shut up and tell you about my book.
Book Two of the How Not to Date a Dragon trilogy, How Not to Date a Dragon Lord is a story that is very near and dear to my heart. It features a first for me, a lesbian couple where one main protagonist is asexual Domme to a degree and War Master of the Dragon’s Army while her partner is an ex-Princess with an attitude that I find refreshing. To be fair, I loved writing both Alita, the Dragon Lord and Suli, her Princess who rescued herself. Designing both characters was a new experience for me and I relished the chance to write their snappy dialogue as well as creating hot and steamy scenarios where they could explore their sexuality and help center each other for the task that awaits ahead of them.
You see, at the end of book 1, How Not to Date a Dragon, war is iminiante and it is up to our omega Black Dragon Ulvissar and his alpha Red Dragon partner Nithe, to help come up with a plan to protect their castle built deep inside their mountain, the village that keeps trying to sacrifice the women he has been collecting as his horde, and prepare their own army for the fight that is about to happen on their doorstep. But before any of that can happen, the village below has to be prepared as to the reality of what is about to land on their doorsteps. That means Alita, the first sacrifice to survive and bond with Ulvissar, has to return home to the place that had forced her sacrifice generations ago and had become quite successful as the result of the sacrifices of her and the women who were chained and given over to the dragon… even though a sacrifice of women is the last thing that Ulvissar wants or needs. Yes, Alita has to go back to the place that essentially gave up her and the hundreds of women that followed through the centuries as sacrifices to keep the village safe… and now Alita has to help protect them when they couldn’t even take a moment to remember the women they had essentially thought they murdered and who’s blood and death made up the foundation of their success.
How on earth can Alita forgive such a betrayal when even the descendants of her own family fail to remember who she was? And she has to help save these people who have seemingly created a religion out of murdering young women who are not all virgins, not all willing scarifies, and have become the fatted calves to keep their successes growing. It’s good that Princess Suli is trained at diplomacy because as far as Alita is concerned, they can all go to H-E-double-Hockey Sticks on an express pass.
I had fun creating this trilogy within the How Not to Date series because of dragons. Seriously, I am obsessed with dragons. Half of my tattoos are dragons and in my mind, they always were a force of comfort and fierce protection. So when I proposed How Not to Date a Dragon, How Not to Date a Dragon Lord, and the final book of the trilogy, How Not to Date a Dragon Master, I knew I had to pull out all of the stops for my beautiful winged terror lizards. I have written about other dragons before in the past, in the Dragon Stone Trilogy for example, but I never before have I had the chance to create such brilliantly twisted scenarios and tropes in my writing as I have created for this trilogy.
There is the inclusion of the Alpha, Omega, and Beta world and the dragons’ insane anatomy and physiology that I laughed myself nearly into a headache creating. There are strange and comedic travels of an army being led by an idiot prince to start a war that he knows he can’t win but, you know, he needs the glory of battle to quench the flames of passionate anger that fill him at the escape— uh, death of his bride. And then there is the bloodthirsty horde of battle-trained women who are eager to put all of their training to a real test. Did I mention broody omega dragons in heat because my broody omega dragon is in heat and demands that his alpha gives him everything… or else. Trust me, they are not your average alpha/omega couple and if Nithe, the beautiful Red Dragon fails in his duty— I shudder to think of what Ulvissar the Black Dragon will do to him… and I’m the one who wrote the crazy story.
As delightful as it was to create the world that Alita, Suli, Vissar, and Nithe inhabit, they are still not my favorite in the How Not to Date series line-up. I came up with an idea to create a series set in different worlds around a major theme, bad first dates, and it exploded into the award-winning monster that it is today. I first shared this idea with author D Renee Bagby/Zenobia Renquest as we were traveling home from a writer’s convention. The first book, How Not to Date an Alien was all about misconceptions and biases we have and are likely to run across when dating outside of your race or in the first book’s case, your species. I think we both laughed so hard at the idea that I knew that I had to create more funny bits of escapism that lined up with some of the worst first dates imaginable. Before we made it home, I think we outlined about seventy How Not to Date books, and even more were requested… ie demanded with threats of bodily harm… from my beautiful readers whom I would not be here today without the help of. Seriously, a bunch of insane readers decided I should write How Not to Date a Skunk and How Not to Date a Human without any input from me. I was delivered an ultimatum… write these books or we will come up with more outrageous books for you to write. I wrote the books much to my reader’s delight, and peace was restored to the land until they demanded How Not to Date a Centaur but I managed to pull that one off too so the flaming pitchforks didn’t come out.
I have to say, out of all my novellas in the How Not to Date series, my favorite is How Not to Date a Bear. While explaining the plot to D Renee Bagby, she is often instrumental in my foolishness, we laughed ourselves stupid over the plot. What if a bear shifter was accidentally shaved bald by his unknowing mate just before he had to go out and prevent a war between Russian Grizzly bear shifters and their neighbors The Brown bear Shifters who think they are an invading army trying to take over their territory when all they truly want is to live in peace. It may have also something to is with this photo of a bald bear landing in my lap.
See that expression? That is the look that my poor bear wears when he discovered what his mate had done. We laughed ourselves silly over the plot and D Renee liked it so much that she poked and prodded until we came up with How Not to Date a Bear, too… Cougar Boogaloo which was the title in my head but we just stuck with How Not to Date a Bear, Too.
So there you have it, some of my favorite How Not to Date series books and a glimpse at How Not to Date a Dragon Lord. I hope you all take the time to explore these and other titles I have available and that you find as much delight in reading them as I found in writing them.
Calliope: I’ve made some bad choices, but this time I was about to make the biggest mistake of my life — all because another mistake had come back to haunt me, putting my adopted sons at risk. In sheer desperation I turned to some bikers on the road for help. One in particular — the man they call Carnage — seems to wrap his mantle of protection around us. What I didn’t know is, his club is home to the twins’ father. Once again, I know I’ll have to pay the consequences for my bad decisions. What can I do if he decides he wants custody of his sons? I’m not sure even Carnage can save us this time.
Carnage: I really do try to steer clear of trouble, but when a frightened woman with two kids flags us down on the road, I can’t leave them to face their fate alone. I know I’m bringing trouble home with us, all the way back to Kentucky and the very heart of my club. One thing’s for sure — I have questions that need answers. I promised Calliope I’ll never let anyone separate her from her boys, and I mean to stand by that promise. There’s no way I’m letting anyone take what’s mine. Carnage isn’t just a name. It’s what follows in my wake when people get in my way.
BCH: You’ve written a variety of romance genres. Which was the most challenging?
MARTEEKA: Good question! They all present their challenges, but I think the most challenging is probably the MC genre because it can go so many ways. I think I tend to fall in the more “gentle” category of MC in that I can’t make my characters cheat and I sometimes have more lighthearted themes. The hard part is finding the balance.
BCH: Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you handle it?
MARTEEKA: YES!!! YES!!!! A THOUSAND TIMES YES!!! Honestly? I just push through it. I tell myself, “Hey, Bitch! You want money? You gotta do this.” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I’ve stopped worrying about it and just keep going. I sometimes end up having to cut a bunch of words/pages/chapters, but I have a regular release each month I have to meet so not getting done is not an option. I don’t always make it on time, but I always make it. No other option for me most months.
BCH: How much of your real life seeps into your stories?
MARTEEKA: All the time to varying degrees. I find parallels in a lot of things. Sometimes its unintentional, others… yeah. VERY intentional. LOL It can be characters or situations.
BCH: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What made you decide to submit your first book to a publisher?
MARTEEKA: I wanted to be a writer since I was in the 3rd grade. We all had to write a Halloween story. Most of the kids did a paragraph or two… I wrote a page and a half. It was fun. After that, it was a series of unfinished stories, or chapters or partial chapters but I never finished a book. It’s still a struggle sometimes getting to “the end.” But I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I just needed to find a publisher who accepted work in my length book. Once I did, I submitted and never looked back!
BCH: Can you give us a “behind the scenes” peek into your research or thought process while writing Carnage?
MARTEEKA: I came you with the idea on the way to a writing retreat with Changeling. It was a long drive in the interstate and I tend to pair up with “buddies” on the road. You know. So I don’t get a ticket. 🙂 So I thought, what would happen if a woman was in trouble and tried to get the attention of a group of bikers she’d been following for several miles? Would they notice her? Would they help her? How would they help her? And it kind of snowballed from there.
BCH: Do know what book will be next? When will it release?
MARTEEKA: Styx from Salvation’s Bane is my next book. It’s almost done. I’m excited because it brings me back to Appalachia. They are truly the Hatfield’s and McCoys. 🙂
BCH: If there’s one thing you could tell your readers, what would it be?
MARTEEKA: I APPRECIATE YOU MORE THAN I COULD EVER EXPRESS!!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.
While accompanying his leader on a mission, Odium, an E Model cyborg, hears a distress call over the communication lines. The voice on that message makes his circuits surge with energy and all his systems light up. He has to respond to the mysterious female, would risk his lifespan and the lifespans of everyone on board their ship to protect her.
A Human Female Others Call Beast
Briella gained her nickname due to her flying abilities, her fearlessness, and her scarred countenance. Her verbal-only relationship with the sexy cyborg who answers her distress call is a steamy yet short-lived fantasy. His kind is physically perfect, and she is…not. He will uncover that truth when…if they survive the attack upon her freighter.
Provoking Odium is a STANDALONE Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes-violent universe.
It features a human female intent on remaining mysterious, a cyborg warrior determined to uncover her identity, and an enemy seeking to destroy them both before they have the opportunity to meet.
Briella should leave now, before Mohini and Odium met. Seeing the two of them together would tear her soul apart.
But then the doors opened, and the toes of two huge black boots became visible.
She lifted her gaze and her breath caught. That footwear was attached to an equally large male.
Odium was built like the warrior he was. The body armor barely contained his muscular form. Well-maintained weapons decorated the garment. His stance was strong. His hips were narrow. His shoulders were wide.
Desire hit Briella like a missile, almost knocking her over.
She’d researched E Models, had seen some of his kind on Mercury Minor, and she believed she knew what to expect.
But her overly active imagination had fallen far short of envisioning Odium. His hair was the blackest black. His skin was gray. Not one scar marred his countenance. His eyes were dark.
His face. Stars. His face.
All the cyborgs she’d met had been handsome. Odium, however, was Mohini-levels of beautiful. He was that exquisite female’s physical match.
Briella’s desolation escalated. She took a step backward.
Odium’s nostrils flared. He turned his head, gazed directly at her.
She froze in place. That was impossible. There were hundreds of beings stationed between them. He must merely be looking in her direction.
Seeking to test that theory, she shifted to the right.
His gaze tracked her.
Her warrior had somehow located her in the crowd.
Briella’s palms dampened. Her stomach knotted.
Others sought to speak to Odium. He didn’t look at those beings. His focus was on her.
It was heady, exciting, worrisome. She brushed her fingers over her goggles. They were in place, so her eyes were hidden.
He saw her scars. Those couldn’t be concealed.
But he couldn’t view the worst of her disfigurements, the part of her that had evoked fear and hatred in her kind, that made the toughest of warriors avoid her.
She could endure his perusal, could stand her ground and—
Mohini approached Odium.
His gaze flicked toward the female.
Her friend was impossible for any male to ignore. And her cyborg was certainly a male. He vibrated with vitality, with power.
Briella wanted him with every cell in her body.
Mohini appeared as enthralled with Odium. Her eyes glowed with interest. Her lips moved. Her friend’s words were too softly spoken for Briella to hear.
But she could imagine what was being said, and every flirtatious comment, every glance, every movement was a dagger stuck deep into her face. The pain, the torment lashed her again and again.
It was unbearable. Panic filled her. She couldn’t do this, couldn’t stand by passively and watch her friend seduce the male she wanted. That was beyond her capabilities.
She turned away from them and ran.
For updates on characters and for very bad jokes, sign up for Cynthia’s monthly newsletter at http://cynthiasax.com
USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Sax is currently writing cyborg and alien romances with high heat levels. These stories are set in a shared dark, gritty, sometimes violent world. There is always a romantic happy ending between the main characters and this happy ending is FOREVER. But everyone else is in danger.
Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of… top ten lists.
She loves writing fated to mate or instalove romances as this is her personal experience with love. She fell in love with her Dear Wonderful Hubby at first sight and 25 plus years later, they’re still very much in love. This is what she wishes for her characters and for her readers.
You can grab yourself a copy of Cardinals by Ian Conner for ONLY $0.99 from now until July 4th! Conner promises “a completely new twist on Stoker’s tale.” Available now where e-books are sold!
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2022
Genre: Horror/ Vampires/ Sci-Fi Horror/ Fantasy
Publisher: Black Raptor Books
Nine Hundred years before Christ, God has cast his wife, Asherah, out of heaven and condemned her to roam the earth as the first vampire. Over the centuries, she created other vampires. There are also those that she left for dead but survived her attack without being completely turned into vampires. These survivors are called Cardinals. Scottish Countess Kellena Donnachaidh and Lady Suzette Allard, our protagonists, are among these cardinals. They are searching out Asherah for a final conflict.
Asherah has discovered a way back to heaven so she can exact her vengeance. Using the Amulet of Cassiel she can call the Flaming chariot of Israel to return to heaven and exact her revenge on God.
Now, 3000 years later, the Vatican and other groups are working to destroy Asherah and the vampires., fearing their own destruction if she ascends, simply want to stop Asherah using the Amulet of Cassiel to re-enter heaven. The race and intrigue to recover the Amulet is full of intrigue, betrayal.
Ian Conner is retired and spent most of his adult life as a Marine and Army Infantry Sergeant. Now living near San Diego California with his wife Bonnie, a cellist, and their two dogs, Cookie and Isabella. Conner spends his days fostering kittens, gardening, crafting beautiful stained glass and creating worlds on the page.
Conner has authored several other novels:
Cooper’s Ridge – Science Fiction
The Long Game – Political Thriller
The Price of Partisanship – Political Thriller
Solaris – Political Thriller
Griffins Perch – Epic Fantasy
Ghost Witch – Horror
After a lifetime of destruction the thought of creating something tangible and lasting holds great appeal. He finds writing a cathartic way to redefine himself both in his eyes and the eyes of others.
Weaver Tish Thawer
Published by: Amber Leaf Publishing
Publication date: June 21st 2022
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance
He walked out of my dream, identifying himself only as the Weaver. In a black cloak, with eyes like stars, there was a shimmer to the way he moved. He was beautiful … Ethereal. And I was going to make him mine.
Alone for most of her life, Milly is determined to make the man of her dreams a reality. Using her hereditary magic, she sets out on a lifelong quest, entering a world of shadows and secrets. Little does she know, to possess his heart, she’ll have to give away her own … for the only way to love a Dream Weaver is to become his Queen of Nightmares.
The choice between love and magic is a dangerous thing.
DARKNESS SURROUNDED ME AS I OPENED MY eyes, its emptiness clinging to me like a second skin. A shiver rattled my bones as my feet hit the cold planks of my cottage’s hardwood floor. Smoothing my nightgown straight, I walked to my altar, ready for my next attempt.
It had been two days since my last dream, and all I could remember was that I didn’t want it to end. I tried to force myself back to sleep—back to him. Dark, sparkling eyes from beneath his hood were all I could remember before being ripped awake without warning. Now I was desperate to get back. There was something about him I needed to learn. Something magical calling to my witch’s soul.
My last batch of skullcap, rosemary, and mugwort sat cold in my mortar. This time, an added pinch of passionflower should stop my mental chatter. I needed to focus if I was going to make this work.
Three times before, I’d seen him shimmering in the distance, watching me from afar. The most recent dream I recalled was like a fairy tale. With glistening castles and lush forests surrounding me, it was full of mythical creatures who let me frolic alongside them without a care in the world. I spotted him standing behind a stone outbuilding, staring and monitoring my every move.
The dream before that took place in a desert where I lived a fabulous life as the close friend of an important sheik. There he’d been huddled behind a spice cart in the market, but I could still feel his eyes upon me.
Regardless of my dream’s location, my watcher was always there. Unfortunately, my last dream had been yanked away, leaving me with a complete void. Something had changed, and I was determined to find out what.
#1 Bestseller in Historical Fiction
Top 100 Bestselling in Paid Kindle Store
Best Cover Award Winner
Readers’ Choice Award Winner
Best Fantasy/Sci-Fi Novel Winner (x2)
Author Tish Thawer writes young adult fantasy and paranormal fiction. From her first paranormal cartoon, Isis, to the Twilight phenomenon, myth, magic, and superpowers have always held a special place in her heart.
Best known for her Witches of BlackBrook series, Tish’s detailed world-building and magic-laced stories have been compared to Nora Roberts, Sam Cheever, and Charlaine Harris.
Tish’s books have been featured in British Glamour and Elle Magazines. Tish has worked as a computer consultant, photographer, and graphic designer, and has bylines as a columnist for Gliterary Girl media, RT Magazine, and Literary Lunes Magazine. She currently resides in Missouri with her husband and three wonderful children, and operates Amber Leaf Designs, an online custom swag retail store.
Theodosia “Teddy” Ballard knows nothing about community theater, but when the stage manager for “Little Shop of Horrors” takes a tragic header down the costume-loft stairs, she agrees to fill in for the sake of her actor friend, Will. Teddy takes the superstitions and swelled heads of The Stage in stride—till she meets George Clancy Everhart, the theater ghost, who informs her that the previous stage manager was murdered and demands that she find the killer. Both investigation and rehearsals are complicated when she makes a surprising discovery about her relationship with Will—and learns that George has his own dramatic agenda.
There was no way I had left a door open, but I got up and checked again. Must be a draft from somewhere in this old building. I retrieved the scattered pages and made sure they were in the right order.
I heard a thud as if something had fallen over backstage. Looking in the wings, I found a hammer on the floor. I put it back where it belonged and returned to my papers.
An overhead light flickered, red, then green, then white.
“All right, that’s enough.” I got to my feet for the third time. “Good joke, Will. Ha, ha. Now show yourself.”
“I beg your pardon, dear lady,” said a deep voice.
I stared in disbelief as a man appeared before me. He was tall and elegantly dressed in a three piece suit and cravat. His features were blurry, but he had an aristocratic air, a distinctive nose, and a satisfied smile.
He removed his bowler hat and bowed. “George Clancy Everhart, at your service.”
I didn’t know how Will had managed to create this image. This must have been some bizarre rite of passage for people new to the theater. Well, it wasn’t going to rattle me.
“Theodosia Ballard,” I said. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“Theodosia! What a splendid name!”
“I prefer Teddy.”
“Teddy? That’s a boy’s name! You are a woman, and a very fine woman, at that. Such a magnificent presence! You should be on stage.”
“I am on stage right now, and I have a lot of work to do, so you can turn yourself off, disappear, whatever, just go away.”
He looked startled. “You don’t believe in me.”
“I believe you’re a really good special effect. Go on now, get lost.”
The image drew himself up. “My good woman, you are speaking to one of the premiere actors of the Twentieth Century. Why, I appeared in hundreds of plays during my lifetime. Thousands of performances! All to great acclaim!”
“I’m sure you did.”
“Excellent reviews! Encores by the score!”
“Then why are you haunting a little theater in Rossboro, North Carolina? Shouldn’t you be in New York? London?”
He paused and put a hand to his heart. “You wound me to the core, Theodosia. In my later years, my career took a sad tumble. Like your lover William, I was unable to continue my passion for Broadway. I ended up here, disillusioned but undefeated.”
“Whoa, hold on, buster. Will is not my lover. And how do you know about his New York experience?” I’d had enough. “Will, stop this right now. It isn’t funny.”
“I agree, Theodosia. It is tragic. The boy has such talent, such a love for theater.”
“Stop it.” I moved to push the man away, but my hands went right through him, and I almost fell into the orchestra pit. A strong force shoved me away from the edge.
“Dear me,” he said. “You must be more careful.”
I caught my breath. “I don’t believe in ghosts. Why are you here?”
“Because you need my help,” he said.
“What do I need your help for?”
“Why, to solve the murder, of course! I liked Paula. She was efficient. I admired her work ethic. I do hope you have a strong work ethic, Theodosia.”
“Wait, wait. Go back to the first thing. Solve the murder? No one’s calling Paula’s death a murder!”
“But it was,” George Clancy Everhart said. “I saw it.”
Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s home town, the real Mayberry. She is the author of the Madeline Maclin Mysteries, featuring former beauty queen, Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her reformed con man husband, Jerry Fairweather, and the Grace Street Mystery Series, featuring struggling PI David Randall, his psychic friend, Camden, and an array of tenants who move in and out of Cam’s boarding house at 302 Grace Street. Ghost Light is her first standalone mystery and the first to feature an asexual heroine.
In the aftermath of the Big Crash, the President of the United States declares martial law. The National Guard rounds up citizens who are never heard from again. While fear and chaos reign, a small band of revolutionaries rise up to resist.
Lacy Monroe, barely out of high school, never saw herself as a leader. All that changed after the Big Crash. When the rest of her family fled, she remained on the farm, the last piece of land in the state holding out against the hostile government. Alone and vulnerable, she endures a horrific attack, yet survives and offers sanctuary to others like herself—until an old friend turns her world upside-down.
Jace Cooper has harbored a secret for years—he is completely in love with his best friend’s sister. The world is crumbling around them, no one knows how long they will survive, and all he wants is to protect Lacy and stay with her.
With the National Guard circling ever closer, hunger and sickness taking a toll, and betrayal and jealousy threatening to destroy the group from the inside, the struggle to hold onto the farm pushes them to the brink. And Lacy is keeping a secret so devastating it could drive Jace to unthinkable actions. Is the farm a safe asylum—or will the fight for freedom destroy them?
“This tattoo on your back.” She ran a finger down his spine. He shivered.
“Why do you have it? I mean, what made you get a wolf-dragon tattoo? It’s unique.”
“Do you want the short answer or the long one?” She trailed her finger back up his spine. “Just tell me what was on your mind. Did you design it?”
“Yeah, I did,” he said, his voice husky. Her fingers kept tracking his spine and he found concentration difficult. “I’ve always been fascinated with dragons. The
symbolism behind the myth. I love everything about them. But the dragon needs
temperance. With great power comes arrogance, conceit, and a thirst for even
more power.” He chuckled and glanced at her.
“Just about everything you’ve accused me of.”
Her hand stilled. “Jace, I—”
“It’s okay,” he reassured her, giving her leg a squeeze. “Don’t feel bad.”
“Go on,” she urged.
He continued to tread water. “Well, the dragon holds immense possibility while the wolf relies on his instincts to guide him. Combined, the dragon sees all the
possibilities before him, but the wolf chooses based on instinct. His heart
guides him. It’s a balance. The dragon embodies primordial power. The wolf
checks it with his ability to relate to others. The wolf takes on everything
the dragon is—his protection, loyalty, fearlessness, and strength—and enhances
it, makes it stronger. The two combined incorporate everything I want to be.
The tattoo is a reminder. Especially when I’m having a bad day.”
She laughed. “Or when someone accuses you of being conceited?”
“Pretty much,” he admitted. “Do you like it?”
“I do. You said you designed it. Does that mean you drew this?”
“Yeah. I knew what I wanted.”
“Wow.” She sounded impressed. “I had no idea you could draw. You’re talented.”
He grinned. “Girl, you have no idea just how talented I am.”
“And the dragon rises.”
Laughter burst from his chest. “Touché.”
A red-eared slider swam their direction. “Look.” He pointed at the turtle’s nose jutting out of the water.
Her grip around his neck tightened. “Let’s go back.”
“He won’t hurt you,” he said, laughing, but swam back anyway. He helped her out then hoisted himself on the dock beside her. He retrieved his shirt and offered
it to her. “Dry off with this.”
She took the shirt and mopped her face. “Pond water is so gross, but that was fun.” She gave him a demure smile. “Thanks. I needed that.”
He spent the rest of the day making her laugh. Being her distraction. But as the
afternoon waned, so did her spirits. She shifted from cheerful to pensive. The
temperature dropped as the western sun burned to the ground. “I guess we’d
better get back.”
She sighed. “Yup. Duty calls.”
They untied their horses and started back. When Highway 11 stretched before them like a winding, black snake, he trotted up beside her and grinned. “I saw the
girl I used to know today.”
They crossed the highway onto Monroe land then she turned and faced him, eyes full of pain and regret. “That girl is gone, Jace. She doesn’t exist anymore. If
that’s who you’re looking for then give up because you’re wasting your time.”
She gave Acer a nudge and galloped away. Frustrated, he urged his horse
forward. She wasn’t going to run. Not this time. He raced beside her and
grabbed her reins.
Eight hooves skidded on dirt and loose gravel and halted in a dusty cloud between the two farmhouses. His horse whinnied, tossing her head. She jerked her reins out of his hands. “That was a stupid thing to do,” she shouted. “I could’ve been
thrown!” Chest heaving, he jumped off his horse. His boots thudded on the
gravel. He stomped around Acer, trying to check his frustration. The girl was
scared, and he didn’t want to demolish the progress he made today. He reached
up and plucked her out of the saddle. “Stop running from me, girl.” He studied
her and saw her demeanor shift from anger to fear. “I’m not going to hurt you.
If you’d crawl out of your pain long enough, you’d see that.” She flung her
hands up, eyes glistening.
“You don’t think I’m trying? I’m drowning trying to save everyone else, but
who’s gonna save me?” She bit her lower lip and looked away. He drew her into
his arms and to his surprise, she didn’t fight him. He rested his chin on her
head and whispered, “Hold on to me. I’ve got you.”
Creating Character: Breathing Life into the Cast of Asylum
If you remove characters from a story, any story, all you’re left with is a news report, right?So, characters, even though they’re metaphors, should feel, act, and speak like people. If you plucked your characters out of your book and Geppetto’d them into real, living beings, would they withstand the test? Or would they fall short as too perfect? Or too flat? No one is princess perfect just as no one, not even the most obtuse person you know, is two dimensional.
First impressions. What is the first thing you notice when you meet someone? Unfortunately, for most of us, it’s their physical appearance. When readers meet characters in a story, they must be able to “see” what they look like. I read a novel recently, and the author never clued me in on what eye color the main character had. For me, that was super annoying. Seasoned authors will tell you to character sketch and that’s one of the first things I had to sit down and do. I mentioned eyes, and for me personally, that’s a big deal. I tend to focus on eye color (for better or worse). You have three basic colors to choose from: blue, green, brown, and their variants. It’s how you describe the color and what shines through them that will help bring your character off the page. My main character, Lacy, had green eyes, but what about them? In Jace’s point of view, he described the color changing with her mood from a thoughtful forest green to glittering diamond hard. Conversely, Jace had blue eyes, but not the light, ice blue of Zach, his brother. They were dark, sometimes with a humorous spark, and other times darkened with desire. In moments your characters can’t speak, their eyes can. Any character can have green, blue, or brown eyes. Breathe life into them. Otherwise, you’re left with a main character’s eyes the same boring brown as your supporting cast.
Give your characters flaws. This was hard for me to do. Even though I wanted Lacy, my main character, to react to diverse, difficult situations with unerring grace, I realized she couldn’t. I let her make mistakes: lose her temper with Jace, treat Hailey harshly, yell at Cat. I placed her in unthinkable circumstances. Of course, she was going to fail! Why? Because that’s what people do. How they handle and grow from their failures shows the reader of whatmettle your character’s made. Crawl through their head for their reactions. At the beginning of Asylum, Lacy suffered a brutal attack. As her rapist was leaving, I felt I had to show how absolutely devastated and angry she was. I can’t tell you how many times I re-wrote the scene until she uttered two words to himthat summed up everything she felt. As an author, I’m never happy using vulgar language, but at that point in Lacy’s life, those two words were exactly what she would’ve said. Even though I fought her (and myself), I eventually conceded they were the best two words to write.
Character vernacular; keep it real! If it sounds stiff and too formal as you read it back to yourself, it probably is. I had to go back and edit in contractions, and even use words like, y’all. Two of my characters needed their speech to set them apart. Raul, born and raised in Mexico, needed to sound different. Think about how a foreigner doesn’t contract their words. They say things like, “I do not understand,” instead of,“I don’t get it.” Edwards, an older gentleman and from a different era, used words like fella instead of guy or man. Set your characters apart by what they say, how they sound. Otherwise, you’re back to a news report.
Oh, the feels… Showing my character’s emotion instead of tellingabout it was what I struggled with the most. Those dang adverbs ending in ‘ly’ tripped me up more times than I can count. Don’t underestimate the power of movement. Show your character’s frustration by pacing, running a hand through their hair, heat rising up their neck, etc. In Asylum, I wrote, “Her feet slammed against the wood floor. Her socks softened the impact, and much to her disappointment, muted the sound.” This showed Lacy’s frustration. It took a lot of work to edit in how Lacy felt by her actions. Your character’s differing personalities will show through their actions. In Hailey’s case, she showed how she felt by simply sniffing. I didn’t have to say she was too haughty to do menial household chores to convey her personality. I wrote, “She sniffed. ‘I don’t plunge toilets.’” Can you see it? I can.
Do you know someone who’s eccentric? We all do. Don’t be afraid to give your character a quirk or two. Cat entered Lacy’s life and quickly became her surrogate mother. Even though Cat wasn’t a main character, I wanted her to stand out as no-nonsense, and a bit audacious. She kept the farm running and everyone in line with nonsensical metaphors. One of my favorite examples is when she chastised Jace for picking a fight with Travis. She said, “Travis didn’t have anything to do with what happened to Lacy and you know it. I’ll admit, sometimes he has no more sense than a snake in a snowstorm …” Memorable, right? I mean, who wants to be compared to a snake in a snowstorm?
Breathe life into your characters. You’re omniscient, the master of your own universe. Whether your story is plot driven, or character driven, you need strong characters that will live inside the readers mind long after they’ve finished the book.
About the Author:
Susy Smith has a bachelor’s degree in English and is a language teacher for the Kanza Tribe. Her debut novel, Asylum, won the 2020 WriterCon contest in the novel category. She loves creating a home on paper for the characters in her head and dabbling in poetry. She lives in a small Oklahoma town with her husband, four grown children nearby, and two spoiled dog-children.
He stood in the doorway of the Bakery’s kitchen, belt dangling from his hand, watching his mate of forty years bustle about preparing refreshments for the library shindig about later that evening. As always, the sight of her had his heart doing that funny leap in his chest, his cock echoing the movement behind the zipper of his jeans. After all this time, it still only took a look, a whiff of his female’s scent to have him hard as a cactus spike.
Along with his surging lust came a powerful burst of love and he knew if prairie dogs didn’t mate for life, he’d still never let this woman go. He’d die without her. However, that didn’t mean he was blind to her faults.
His Reba was an incorrigible busybody, continually putting her finger in other folk’s pies. He understood her interfering tendencies were part of her caring nature and that would have been fine as long as she contained her meddling within the family.
He wasn’t mad at her. Edison’s smile was full of masculine anticipation. The punishment of her infraction was going to be intensely pleasurable for both of them.