Thursday, December 25, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - A Christmas Carol (Day 12)

The 12th Blog of Christmas is written by bestselling author, Martin Crosbie.
Martin lives on the west coast of Canada and has written five books including Amazon bestseller My Temporary Life. His popular Christmas novel Believing Again: A Tale Of Two Christmases is available in e-book format in the US and UK as a Kindle Countdown Deal from Dec. 24-27 for only 99 cents.

Marley was dead, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Those delicious words open the Dickens classic. Previous to the publication of A Christmas Carol, Christmas was barely recognized. Although it was a holiday it didn’t have the romantic vibe that it has today. Mr. Dickens and his novel changed all that. And, if he’d waited for his publisher to release the book it may never have happened.
            Charles Dickens wrote his masterpiece in six weeks. Somehow he was able to channel the story and get the words on paper (or parchment probably) in less than two months. At that time he was suffering financially. His wife was pregnant with their fifth child and the wolves were closing in on their door. His previous novel had not sold well and when he submitted his new manuscript (after having it beta-read surely), to his publishers they were slow to warm to it. I’m not sure how rejection letters were sent out in 1853 but his publishers indicated that they were not interested in publishing the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s epiphany. Anxious to have the book released by Christmas Dickens went the print-on-demand route and self-published. He hired his own illustrator and contracted his publisher to print the books. And, he did the legwork himself. Then, in those very, pre-Konrath days he decided to lower the price to five shillings – a price that most folks would be able to afford. He wanted his book to be read and perhaps he even thought that readers might enjoy his other works if they liked his Christmas tale.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

12 blogs of Christmas - A Christmas Love Story (Day 11)

Wendy McClelland Bio:
Wendy McClelland is a business pioneer; as one of the first small businesses to get online in the mid 1990’s, her first website was chosen by the NY Times as “one of the best biz sites on the ‘net”. She is an award winning entrepreneur as well as a past nominee for “Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year”. She has spoken to over 10,000 people in live audiences throughout western Canada and the U.S. Wendy’s newest project is her book “27 Steps to Freedom – What Learning to Walk Again Taught me About Success in Business & Life” is a story of rebuilding her life after a near fatal illness. You can buy Wendy’s book and get 17 BONUSES with purchase -
I’m really thrilled Martin Crosbie asked me to participate with him and eleven great authors to share Christmas stories.

A Christmas Love Story (12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop) by Wendy McClelland
I remember 1967 really well. It was Canada’s centennial – our country was 100! My parents had a fun backyard BBQ party and the whole neighbourhood came. The party went on well into the early hours of the morning. I’ll never forget seeing my parents dance together. We never know when we are experiencing something for the last time – especially as a child. That would be the last summer my mother would be alive.
As the fall approached, I started back to school and was a carefree eight year old, with three younger siblings. My parents Brian and Eileen adored each other and loved us.  They were both originally from the UK, but had met in Toronto at a house party. When my dad first saw her he turned to his friend and said, “I’m going to marry that girl.” Sure enough, less than a year later they were married.
Ten years and four children later they were building a life together. Then in early winter, my mom began to feel ill, by late November she was gone. She had been feeling tired and went to the doctor. He asked her to wait in his office, called my dad at his office and had him come in. He told my mom she had leukemia and had less than two weeks to live! Can you imagine? You are only thirty years old, and have four children under eight years old. I remember feeling like the bottom had fallen out of my child’s world, I cannot imagine what she felt.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - The Christmas Spirit (Day 10)

Hello everyone! I’m delighted (and more than just a little bit in awe) to be part of this group of talented and very entertaining authors in our “12 Blogs of Christmas”, conceived and assembled by my friend and bestselling author Martin Crosbie. By now, you have met several of these brilliant authors, and today it’s my turn to entertain.
I’m the author of the award winning action/adventure QUINTSPINNER SERIES , and also of THE CAMPING GUY , a humorous short story, which is an award winner in its theatre script version.  I live and write on the Canadian prairies, home (most years) to 6 or 7 months of winter. Yeah, we never put our parkas away, just in case. (Is it any wonder that I fantasize and write about pirates and adventure in the sun splashed tropics?)
I chose to write my first novel over learning to play the bagpipes, and my husband is grateful. I love to hear from my readers and you can find me at, or on twitter at or even at my Author page .
And now onto my Christmas blog. Wishing you all a wonderful holiday filled with good friends, good luck, and good books!

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit …
Bah, Humbug!
To steal that popular line, it is Hot Stuff Hubby’s summation of what he also refers to as “a Hallmark Holiday”. The rest of us call it Christmas.
For anyone who has anything for sale, the Christmas retail season is like bottled oxygen to an astronaut in a Space Station – absolutely necessary in order to survive the rest of the year.
Not a particularly religious man, Hot Stuff nevertheless laments the overshadowing of the original intent of fellowship and gratitude of the season, with that of a glut of retail activity.
Personally, I love the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. I think I must have been a magpie in a former life because I love all things sparkly – twinkling lights, reflective ornaments, the ropes of flashy tinsel, diamonds (ahem, are you reading this, Hot Stuff?), and such.
I love Christmas music, especially the more traditional carols and hymns perfectly harmonized and performed by choirs – I feel no shame in humming along out loud as they are pumped out of the speakers in the mall stores; I thrive on the smells of Christmas baking – sugar and cinnamon, butter and raisins, warm gingerbread – and can often be seen hanging out around the local bakery counter until the clerks get a little nervous at my continuous presence; and I take personal pride in decorating my home and yard as though it were a marker for NASA to be easily seen from outer space.
But this year is a little different. You can read more and find out why here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - We have a poem today! Refreshing! (Day 9)

Sarah Lane is the author of The God of My Art, a quarter finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The God of My Art is the coming-of-age story of a young artist for whom a summer fling awakens the dream of a more creative life. Lane's other fiction and poetry have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Roar Magazine, and Quills: Canadian Poetry Magazine.
Lane is currently writing a psychological thriller about a salsa dancer and her doppelgänger. To be the first to know when it comes out, sign up to her new release mailing list.
To learn more about Lane’s writing, visit
Morning Light


The leaves are falling, clumping on pavement, wet and mute
like the beat of lips, fluttering with a whisper in the rainstorm
black like mascara streaming down a throat, waft of a secret
curling under earlobes to the small of a neck, drizzling into the
chaos of hair and drift of fingers down the meridian of spine


When we close our eyes we forget our continents, yellow
silk of the setting sun, sheen of snow under moonlight, the sweet
spice of a foreign accent, damp warmth of a strange tongue pooling its
syllables behind our lips, this contrast of skin where we sit, side by side,
legs swinging off the bed in the hush of the morning light

(Read the rest of the poem on Sarah Lane’s website…

Sunday, December 21, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - Bubby's Christmas Story (Day 8)

Roberta Kagan Bio
When I was a child my mother kept a black suitcase in our basement. She forbade me to look inside. Of course as we all know the way to spark a child's curiosity is to tell them they are forbidden to do or see a particular thing. One afternoon when my mother was out, I raced downstairs. Nobody was around so I opened the suitcase. Inside I found pictures and letters in a foreign language. Later that night I asked my mother what all of it meant. She told me that she was trying to protect me by keeping the suitcase out of my reach, but since I'd found it, I might as well know that she and my father both lost their entire extended families in the Holocaust. So began my obsession with the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe. Being that my father was Romany and my mother was Jewish, I had many aspects to research and much to learn. Finally, many years later...I wrote my first novel. It is set in this period. It comes to you, along with all of my work, from my heart, with love and hopes that someday there will be understanding and tolerance among all peoples. I thank you so much for your interest in my writing.
Love, Blessings, Good Fortune, and as the Gypsies say Good Road to all of you,

Roberta Kagan
Happy Holidays Everyone! I am so excited and honored to be a part of the Twelve Blogs of Christmas. I want to take a moment to thank Martin Crosbie for hosting this event and for inviting me to participate.  It is just like Martin to create a program that will benefit both authors and readers. He is a kind and generous man who has always made himself available as a source of guidance to the indie author community. What a great person, he is, and an amazing author as well!  And as for my fellow writers on this blog, R.J Cryaton, Jamie Lee Scott, Jennifer Ellis, Helga Zeiner, Laurie Boris, M.L. Gardner, Sarah Lane, Dianne Greenlay, and Wendy McClelland… it is truly a privilege to work with you. 
May this holiday season and New Year bring much success, health, and happiness to you and your families. I hope you enjoy my Christmas Story.  Many Blessings to all of you,
Roberta Kagan

Bubby’s Christmas Story
“Come, I’m going to tell you a story. A Christmas story.” My grandmother said as she sat in the thick upholstered chair on the side of the picture window in the living room. I tried to rush by. I was far too excited to sit and listen to anything. It was Christmas day and my aunt had just given me a gift. A gift I’d been hoping and praying for, a very special doll, and I wanted to play with it.
“You don’t want to hear a story? You’d rather go and play with your present?”
“Yes, Bubby.” Although Bubby is a Jewish term for grandmother, I called both of my grandmothers Bubby. My Romany Grandmother didn’t mind. In fact, I think she liked it.  “I finally got the Shirley Temple doll that I wanted. I’ve been hoping for this for so long and I want to play with her. She came with three outfit changes too!”
My Bubby nodded. “I see. Well, it is your choice, but I think you’ll like my little tale, it’s a good story. It’s a story about a present that I got long ago. A present from God himself. “
I looked at her a little confused, a present from God?  It was true that Bubby did always tell great stories. And usually I loved to sit and listen. I looked into her eyes, considering her offer.
“So… Come sit on my lap, bring your doll and she can listen too.”


Coming Soon:
The Promised Land (Book 3)

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - Grandma's Simple Christmas (Day 7)

It's the 7th day of the the 12 blogs of Christmas, which means we have M.L. Gardner up to bat.

Grandmas Simple Christmas

When I was young I remember spending more than one holiday season at my grandmothers house. I remember long evenings with homemade cookies, lots of chocolate pudding and watching claymation Christmas specials under blankets that she crocheted. What I dont remember is the hustle and bustle holiday madness that I experienced later in life. After I grew up and began the planning, cooking and shopping for my family, it quickly became a headache laced chore to get everything done, not to mention the stress and worry of financially pulling off a perfect Christmas. Im not sure whether I am just more susceptible to the stress or if its truly gotten out of hand for all of us. What I do know is that it steals the joy and peace of the season from my family and I. As each year passed, my family noticed that I decorated a little less, baked a little less, basically did a little less of everything so I could fit it all in. And worst of all, I was glad when it was all over, and I could take a rest. I dont ever remember my grandmother being glad Christmas was over. In fact, she was a little sad as she put away the decorations and the blue and white china nativity set that I now own. More…

M. L. Gardner Bio

M. L. Gardner is the bestselling author of the 1929 series. Gardner is frugal to a fault, preserving the old ways of living by canning, cooking from scratch, and woodworking. Nostalgic stories from her grandmothers life during the Great Depression inspired Gardner to write the 1929 seriesas well as her own research into the Roarin Twenties. She has authored eight books, two novellas, and one book of short stories. Gardner is married with three kids and three cats. She resides in northern Utah.


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Friday, December 19, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - Letter to Santa (Day 6)

Hi, everyone! I’m Laurie Boris, and I’m so excited to be part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas with some terrific authors and organized by my friend, bestselling author MartinCrosbie.

Drawing Breath, my coming-of-age novel about art, love, chronic illness, and human dignity, will be on sale for 99 cents through December. You can check out the rest of my books on my Amazon author page.

To: S. Claus

From: Joey the Elf, Vice President and Public Relations Director, North Pole

Re: Christmas 2014 Status Update and Strategic Operation Plan: Confidential

Yo, Santa baby. I know it’s close to go-time and your mental bandwidth must be stretched as thin as the photoshopped spandex in Kim Kardashian’s butt selfie, so I’ll try to keep this brief.

First, I feel your pain about Rudolph’s resignation. I’m sure he’ll do the air traffic controllers proud, but promoting Dancer could be a no-go. Seems the headlamp we wanted to attach to his antlers violates some PETA regulation. We’re looking into that. And you didn’t hear this from me, but there’s a rumor that a few elves are planning a sickout. Guess they’re still a little steamed about losing their collective bargaining rights.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas Blog Hop - Christmas Mistakes (Day 5)

Helda Zeiner is our guest for Day 5 of the Christmas Blog Hop

Brief bio:
Helga Zeiner is a German born Canadian author. She left her home town Augsburg at age 18 to explore the world. In the following 14 years she has lived and worked in Australia and Asia. Her amazing experiences in those foreign countries are woven into all her thrilling novels.
Since 2004 she has lived with her husband on a country estate in the wilderness of British Columbia, devoting all her time to writing.
Helga Zeiner has published six novels in German and two in English. She is currently writing her third English thriller.

My Christmas Mistakes
Yes, I admit it, I make mistakes. Rarely, but still. As well organized as I am, it seems ridiculous that slip-ups in my planning might affect the most glorious time of the year, one that needs careful attention to detail and thoughtful consideration of all people involved. Family and friends deserve the best, right?
When my friend, the wonderful writer Martin Crosbie included me in his 12 Blogs of Christmas, I immediately jumped at the chance to interact with a group of great authors, and looked forward to write my contribution. Then… nothing! Words eluded me. Me! A writer! Everything that is nice and heart-warming about Christmas has already been written, I thought. But what about the Christmases (is that really the correct plural?) which didn’t go according to plan?
twitter: @HelgaZeiner links:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - What Christmas Means (Day 4)

Day 4 of the 12 days of Christmas blog brings us Jennifer Ellis and What Christmas Means

Jennifer Ellis Bio

Jennifer lives in mountains of British Columbia where she can be found writing, spending too much time on skis, and working as an environmental researcher. She has two boys, an eighteen-year-old cat and a husband who doesn’t want a dog. She has been known to read tarot cards and spring surprise walks on unsuspecting neighbourhood dogs. She has wanted to be a writer since she first read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and did not want to come out of the wardrobe.
Her Derivatives of Displacement series is science fiction fantasy for middle-graders (and adults). Books one and two are available, and book three is coming in 2015. She also writes adult fiction with a dystopic edge including In the Shadows of the Mosquito Constellation and her upcoming release Reversal, set in the Apocalypse Weird world. She has also contributed to several anthologies, most notably Synchronic: 13 Tales of Time Travel, which hit #16 in the Kindle Store.
A Pair of Docks, Book One in her Derivatives of Displacement series is available for 99 cents through Christmas.
You can subscribe to her blog for the latest book news and industry insights at She tweets at @jenniferlellis.

12 Days of Christmas Blog – What Christmas Means

When Martin Crosbie first invited me to be part of the 12 Blogs of Christmas with eleven other writers of course I said yes. I love blogging, I love Christmas, and I love other writers.
As the date approached for me to prepare my blog, a few problems emerged: 1) How much can be said about Christmas that hasn’t been said already; 2) How am I going to write an amazing post that compares to the efforts of the other participating bloggers who are also writers; 3) A huge number of work and writing deadlines all packed together like coupled rail cars wending their way through my December; 4) The deaths of a friend’s mother, and a friend’s son; 5) The usual stresses of life and winter—ailing mother, geriatric cat, viruses abounding in my children’s school and in our house; and the more creeping and interesting realization 6) Do I really love Christmas?
I have always had somewhat of a yo-yo relationship with Christmas…


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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas - A YIN-YANG CHRISTMAS (Day 3)

Heather Haley Bio:
The Siren of Howe Sound, trailblazing poet, author, novelist, musician and media artist Heather Haley pushes boundaries by creatively integrating disciplines, genres and media. Her writing has been published in many journals and anthologies including the Antigonish Review, Geist, sub-TERRAIN, the Vancouver Review, FORCE Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia and The Verse Map of Vancouver. Haley was an editor and reviewer for the LA Weekly and publisher of the Edgewise Cafe, one of Canada’s first electronic literary magazines. She is the author of poetry collections Sideways, Three Blocks West of Wonderland, and debut novel, The Town Slut’s Daughter.

From Joy to Dread and Back Again

‘Tis the season. For melancholy. Haunted by Christmas Past, I get nostalgic for the little girl who believed in Santa. A child’s lament; “Why can’t it be Christmas every day?”, I’d wail at my mother. Because, my parents would rally, no matter how broke we’d been all year, to put up a tree, to fill the house with presents, candy, nuts and booze, to be filled with joy, or at least in a in a good mood, when they weren’t fighting or knocking over the tree.
I have an image burned into my psyche of sitting on the couch next to it, staring at my reflection in an exquisite silver bulb, in a trance of hope and excruciating happiness. That damned tree. Its heady perfume permeated the house, blasting away banality, infusing bliss. Magic. Or madness, I’ve come to realize. The Christmas tree has become for me an emblem of the innocence of childhood, innocence lost, innocence I have finally quit trying to regain.
Light-Dark. Fire-Water. Male-Female. Yin-Yang. Without dread, how can there be joy? Seeking the answer traces my evolution from doe-eyed youngster to jaded diva, but at last I am comfortable with such dualities. I’m not a Daoist but understand that life is an endless cycle, and that opposites are bound together to create a mutual whole.
“Thank God I’m an atheist.” I struggled with that when my son was little, thought that if we were going to observe-after deciding we would honour tradition, albeit our way-that Junior should know about the Christ in Christmas. He learned that Jesus of Nazareth was most likely a rabbi, his teachings were sound and the man must have been a charismatic philosopher, healer or social reformer who many saw as a prophet and the son of God. I’ve also taught my son to be discerning, to consider the source, to put things in relief. In perspective. With healthy skeptiscim comes a certain ambivalence, but he’s a good kid, smart and compassionate.
I refrain from spouting “Bah Humbug,” but don’t put up a tree anymore. Junior, now 20, no longer cares, which is rather sad, considering how much he did care, how excited he’d get, waiting for and believing in Santa. But we share fond memories; one year he, his step-father and I spent Christmas in Hawaii with his godmother and extended family.  We met Don Ho, watched a lighted parade in the little town of Waiamea on Christmas Eve, and Junior even went boogie boarding, despite having been afraid of the water.
Peace and goodwill toward men. Why should it be seasonal? I do enjoy the time the holidays afford us, the opportunity to get together with loved ones. When we gather with those who are dear to us. If the fates allow. I like nothing better than to cook for my family, as I do each time I’m lucky enough to have them visit throughout the year. That is joy. Time is the most precious gift of all and peace comes from within.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

12 Blogs of Christmas Blog Hop - ...White Christmas (Day 2)

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, NOT!

First, I want to thank Martin Crosbie for inviting me to be a part of the 12 Days of Christmas blog gathering for 2015. It’s always nice to meet other authors, and wonderful to be a part of anything Martin is doing. I have to admit, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about!

I grew up in California. When you grow up with no seasons, you always think how cool it’d be to have snow at Christmas. I was one of those people. Even after my first Christmas in the Midwest with my (soon to be) husband’s family, braving wind chills of -20 degrees F, we dressed up in snow suits and went pheasant hunting. I use the term hunting loosely, as I’d never shot anything in my life. We pretty much just walked around in the snow and corn stalks, birds flew out, and I shot in that general direction. It was an excuse to go outside after being cooped up for days.

I’ve now lived in the Midwest for nearly two decades, and I can tell you, I pray for sunny, and 50-60 degrees on Christmas. I consider the seasons highly overrated. Oh, sure, snow was great fun the first couple of years I lived here. Until had to drive in whiteout conditions, was stranded in the house for up to a week at a time, flipped my car in a ditch (I wasn’t even going fast, I’d admit if I was), and had to shovel and snow blow my way to the barn, just to see if my horses survived the storm from the night before. Last year we had drifts so high, one of my horses walked right over them, out of their pasture.  Yep, it didn’t take long before a white Christmas was the last thing on my list.

Now for Christmas, I dream of cocktails while on a lounge chair by the pool at a casino in Las Vegas. Not so traditional, I know, but I’m still dreaming, because every year we still brave the weather, and have a wonderful meal and time with family and friends. That part makes the snow worth it. Because really, Christmas isn't about weather, or presents, or anything material, its about family and friends, love and friendship. It's the time of year we schedule to be together, stop making excuses, and get together. Cocktails with family are always more fun than those at a casino in Vegas, right? Hahahaha!

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

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12 Blogs of Christmas Blog Hop - Photo Fun (Day 1)

Today's Blog Hop is hosted by RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is the author of the Life First series, a dystopian thriller set in the future, where the government can take your organs if they want, and give them to someone else. Prior to writing Crayton was a journalist and has worked at a variety of publications, including the Kansas City Star, Solid Waste Report and Education Technology News. Presently, Crayton is a monthly contributor to the Indies Unlimited blog and an occasional contributor to the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies blog. The first book in her series, Life First, is on sale for 99 cents until December 31. 
I was so pleased when Martin Crosbie invited me to participate in this 12 Days of Christmas blog hop.  Martin was pretty broad about the topic, so I thought I'd talk about having fun with your photos at Christmas.

12 Days of Christmas Blog Hop - Photo Fun

Not just taking a fun photo (as pictured here), but doing fun stuff with your photos. Back in 2008, when this pic was taken, I started doing a holiday card and website for my family. This was before Facebook was ubiquitous and if you wanted to share digital pics with family members you had to email them around, and hope your email didn't get blocked because the attachment file sizes were too large. Or you had to create your own website.   Having created a website for my wedding, the task seemed easy enough, and I set up a website where I posted a holiday letter wrapping up our year along with lots of photos.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Teaser Thursday - Chaos Is Come Again

Chaos Is Come Again by Fiona Quinn & John Dolan
Buy it here!
Off balance, Avery Goodyear pushed her weight into her high heels and locked her knees. Her lips curled into a tight line as she willed herself not to sprint out the office door. Focus, she rebuked herself.
Her boss, Jerry Meyers, crossed his arms over his chest, stretched out his legs, and thumped his feet onto the corner of his desk. Always a bad sign. Things never went well after he struck this pose. “Travis Bishop has flown the coop,” he said.
“What does that mean?” Avery asked, not sure if she should move farther into the room to sit in the guest chair, or not. Jerry had positioned the chair precisely so the morning sun would catch his unlucky visitor in the left eye, blinding them. He was following a strategy from a book called How to Get the Upper Hand and Win. One of their competitors had read the manuscript first and beaten Jerry to signing up the author. Now the book was a New York Times bestseller, and all Jerry had to show for his efforts was rearranged furniture and absurd alpha-male poses.
“He’s hiding in London. The Notting Hill area to be exact.” Jerry said. “Apparently, there were one too many crosses nailed to his door, and the twenty-four-hour news-a-thons aren’t letting him get his beauty sleep.”
“You encouraged him to go?” Avery slid her hands into her pockets, but that didn’t feel right. She pulled them back out. She stood there, awkward and uncertain. Bishop wasn’t in her queue, thank God. She had nothing to do with him. Wanted nothing to do with him. Why was Jerry bringing him up?
“Not to London. He’s too inaccessible there. I can’t swoop in for a surprise visit. I was thinking more of a New England farmhouse down a long and private path where he could write in anonymity and get this damned sequel done already.”
“Why push him?” Avery asked, holding the sliver-thin hope that Jerry would tear up the Bishop contract and move on to something more. . . wholesome. Okay, wholesome was too big a stretch. Wholesome didn’t sell. Scandal sold. In today’s saturated book market, everyone was elbowing for a place. Avery closed her eyes and tried for a deep breath, but her lungs stuck at the halfway point, leaving her breathless. She lifted her gaze and caught Jerry smirking at her.
“Money. That’s why.” Jerry uncrossed his ankles and came upright, resting his elbows on the arms of his chair, steepling his fingers. Power pose number four. “Controversy makes PMT piles of money, which equals job security. And right now, in this industry, job security is everything.” He cocked his head to the side. “Don’t you agree? I mean, what would you do, Avery, if you lost this job? Huh?” His raised brows folded his skin into four straight lines across his forehead. “Where would your editorial skills take you? Do you know how many book agents are out there trolling the Twittersphere, looking for desperate wannabe writers who need editing at two dollars a page? Could you make your life work out on that kind of pay check?”
Avery swallowed past the lump in her throat. Jerry was positioning the sword of Damocles over her head. She’d have to say yes to whatever came next.
“Has Bishop given you an update on his progress?” Avery hoped to delay the inevitable. A rivulet of perspiration formed on her back, tickling down her spine. She reached back to pull her silk blouse away from her humid skin.
“Nope. I’m giving him to you as a gift. The updates are now on you.”
Avery stilled, reprocessing his words, hoping she’d misunderstood.
“Wheedle something out of him.” Jerry picked up his pen and jabbed it towards her, punctuating his instructions. “An outline, a first chapter, anything you can get. I want something on my desk by the end of this week.”
Pen jabbing. Power move number nine. Disdain bubbled in Avery’s stomach. He’s turning himself into a caricature.      
The phone buzzed against Avery’s thigh. She pulled it from her pocket and tapped it off without checking the readout. “Me? But…” Avery moved behind the chair, using it as a shield against all the ramifications of this conversation. “Please, I’m really opposed to this whole project. Maybe the intern would like to get this on her resume?” Avery threw out the Hail Mary with little hope of success; Jerry looked too smug right now to be generous.
“You. Bishop insists you’re the only person he’ll talk to.”
“But I’ve never met him.”
“Hank Harrison recommended you. End of story.”
Jerry’s PA came over the speaker announcing his wife was on line one. Jerry reached for the receiver and pointed at the guest seat. Avery dragged the chair away from the window and sat down to wait. She checked the number that had called. Lola. Shoot. Her best friend wouldn’t call her at work unless her mom was acting up again.
One crisis at a time. Being thrown into the Travis Bishop three-ring circus certainly felt like a crisis. Avery had received dozens of nasty letters from strangers, telling her that she’d damned her soul to hell by her involvement with Bishop’s last book, Nosferatu, the Lost Gospel. And she hadn’t been involved at all. What would happen now that she was going to be his principal handler? She needed to stay as anonymous as possible. She’d need to get a new phone number right away, an unlisted one.

Twitter: @FionaQuinnBooks

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Teaser Thursday - Dirty Deeds by Jenna Bennett

Dirty Deeds by Jenna Bennett

Book blurb

With hotels in downtown filled to capacity months in advance, real estate agent Savannah Martin decides to pick up some extra money renting out her empty East Nashville apartment. She’s living with her boyfriend, and the place is just sitting there, begging to be put to use.

But when her latest tenant ends up dead—strangled in Savannah’s bed by what might have been a paying customer—the promise of easy money quickly turns sour.

As the hunt for the killer leads to their shared hometown of Sweetwater, Tennessee, Savannah’s boyfriend, TBI agent Rafe Collier, is tapped to help with the investigation. But a familiarity with the town and the people in it isn’t necessarily a benefit when the main suspect in the murder is the man Savannah decided not to marry. The same man who has never forgiven Rafe for stealing her away... 


When the phone rings before seven in the morning, it’s rarely good news.
Although when the phone beside my bed rang at 6:28 AM on the last Sunday in May, the reason I usually worry was lying next to me, so at least I knew the bad news wouldn’t be about him.
Rafe was safe, curled up behind me in bed, with a possessive arm around my waist and a protective hand splayed over my stomach, where his son or daughter was getting ready to serve up my usual helping of morning sickness.
Rafe’s presence only helped momentarily, as I have plenty of other hostages to fortune. My brother, my sister, my brother-in-law, three nieces, two nephews, assorted aunts and uncles, and quite a few friends.
Not to mention my mother. We don’t always get along, but I’d hate it if anything happened to her, especially before she can come around to my way of thinking and embrace her future son-in-law.
And speaking of her future son-in-law... Rafe has a grandmother and a son of his own, along with a few friends who might also be the reason for this call. The list of potential victims just kept growing as the echoes of the phone rang in my ears.
“You want I should get that?”
Rafe sounded wide awake, although I knew he’d been asleep just a minute ago. That’s what ten years of undercover work will do for somebody: make him able to go from dead sleep to wide awake at the sound of a ringtone.
“No.” I reached for the phone. “I’ve got it.”
He didn’t argue, just settled back down, long fingers making circles across my rounded stomach. Going a little farther south with each sweep.
I knew where those fingers were headed, so I picked up the phone with the intention of getting rid of whoever was calling as quickly as possible. “What?”
There was a beat, and then— “Manners, Savannah,” a voice murmured.
Sheesh. “Mother?”
Rafe’s hand stopped making circles. Even he draws the line at trying to get into my panties while I’m talking to my mother. Or perhaps it’s simply that the thought of my mother acts like a bucket of ice on his libido.
He removed his hand and flopped over on his back with a sound that was halfway between a laugh and a groan.
“Yes, darling,” the phone said.
Yes, of course. I resigned myself to doing without any more of Rafe’s attention until I could get her off the line. “What’s wrong?”
“Are you alone?” mother inquired.
“No.” My voice was laced with a heavy dose of ‘duh,’ but of course I couldn’t actually say so. Not to my mother. “It’s six-thirty in the morning on a weekend. We’re still in bed.”
“You and...?” Mother hesitated delicately.
I took the phone away from my ear and looked at it before putting it back. Amnesia? Early onset dementia? She’s only fifty-eight, but I suppose stranger things have happened.
Probably it was just denial, pure and simple. I proceeded to remind her who I was sleeping with. “My fiancĂ©. The father of my baby. Remember?”
“Rafael,” my mother said, with that inflection of sour lemons only she can manage.
“That’s right.” And she had interrupted something—something I had every hope might go somewhere—so if she’d kindly just get to the point...?
But of course I didn’t say that, either. My mother raised a lady. Although I thought it, and trusted that the thought came across in my voice.
Except it didn’t seem to, because Mother didn’t speak. “What do you need?” I prompted, when I determined the silence had gone on long enough.
She sighed. “I thought perhaps Todd...”
Todd? She called me at six-thirty in the morning because she thought I had Todd Satterfield in my bed?
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Rafe’s not really into this sharing thing.”
And if he had been, Todd would have been the last person he would invite to join us.
Mother’s dismay rolled down the telephone line even before her shocked exclamation reached me. “Savannah!”
“Sorry,” I muttered, my cheeks hot, while behind me, Rafe made a choking sound. I glanced at him over my shoulder, and saw that he was struggling not to laugh.
I turned away. The sight of him—all hard muscles and golden skin outlined against the white sheets—was distracting, and I couldn’t afford to be distracted right now. “Why on earth would you think Todd would be here?”
Behind me, Rafe went still.
“I thought maybe you’d made up,” Mother said hopefully.
That we’d... what?
“Rafe and I are engaged, Mother. We’re living together. I’m having his baby. We’re getting married.” Just as soon as we could figure out the details. “There’s nothing for Todd and me to make up.”
Mother didn’t respond, and I tried my question again, using different words this time. “Did Todd say he was coming here?”
“No...” Mother said, making it sound like she wasn’t sure.
“Well, what did he say?”
She made a sound. Something like a sigh. “That he was going to Nashville to see a friend.”
“And you thought of me? Why?”
We were hardly friends anymore. Todd Satterfield had been my boyfriend for a year in high school, but that was eleven or twelve years ago, and much more recently, I had hurt his feelings and wounded his pride by saying no to his marriage proposal. And then I had added insult to injury by shacking up with Rafe, who—by all accounts, especially Todd’s and Mother’s—was totally unsuitable for me.
“We didn’t think he knew anyone else in Nashville,” Mother said.  
Why? Todd lived just over an hour away, and had for most of his life. It was very possible—indeed, likely—that he knew people in Nashville.
However, that didn’t answer the most important question. “I still don’t understand why you’re calling me to ask if he’s here.”
She did a sort of audible squirm, one I could hear through the phone. “He didn’t come home last night.