Monday, September 28, 2009

Excerpt - Julia's Golden Eagle by Ciara Gold

Julia’s Golden Eagle
Ciara Gold
Available through

(Much awaited sequel to Sarah’s Brass Token)

Available from in August ‘07


An ex-spy for the confederacy must stop hiding from himself and the world, but finds himself on the wrong side of the law in a fight for his very existence.
When the only daughter of a Brownwood’s local cattle baron allows a stranger to take the blame for a murder she thinks she committed, she orchestrates a jailbreak. Jake Nolan knows only one thing; he’s innocent of murder charges and Julia Stanton is the only person who knows who’s really guilty. While Jake holds her captive to discover the truth, Julia’s seductive charms imprison his heart.


The posse rode off, misdirected to another location.

With her senses still heightened by her near run-in with the law, she leaned against the closed door. Guilt gnawed at her insides. She had just complicated her situation more by lying to the authorities. If her father would be disappointed by her involvement in the murder, he would most likely disown her if he found out about this latest excursion.

Wrapping her arms around herself, she glared at Jake Nolan. Her inability to change the past brought back familiar feelings of resentment. Death had a way of changing life. Her mother had died when she was young, leaving her alone in a house full of men. She glanced at the tip of her worn boots. She’d never regretted being a part of the Stanton empire, but facts were facts. No man wanted a woman who could out-ride, out-shoot, and out-wrangle him.

Allowing her to participate in the daily operations of the ranch made Cal Stanton a hero in her eyes. She’d cherished every moment spent in his shadow.

And now, she couldn’t imagine losing this special bond with her family. Releasing Nolan was supposed to be an easy fix to a complicated situation. Unfortunately, there was nothing simple about it. She had just helped a convicted felon escape, and with the prisoner unconscious and hiding in their line shack, it wasn’t over yet.

Mr. Nolan had better awaken soon. She crept toward the man. A spark of gold caught her attention, and she stared at the parted vee of his shirt. Nestled against a bed of curls lay a medallion of some sort. She lifted the medal between trembling fingers. A gold double eagle? What inspired Jake to wear the coin instead of spending it? The men of her acquaintance didn’t hold much with sentimentalities. With her other hand, she fingered the area where her mother’s locket used to hang. Since Sly’s death, she hadn’t had the heart to wear it.

She let the coin drop. How had he slept through her shaving him? But then concussions were tricky. It wasn’t unusual for one of their ranch hands to sleep for days after taking a blow to the head while trying to break a horse or wrestle a mean bull. At least the wound to his temple wasn’t deep, and it had stopped bleeding. She glanced at the basin of water she had used earlier and wondered if she dared pour it over his head. She reached for the bowl, willing to brave his anger just to get him moving.

“Don’t even think about it.”

Julia jumped a mile high, so unexpected was the deep timbre of his voice. Her hand jerked from the enamel container and water sloshed over the sides. Glazed eyes peered at her. He winced and closed his eyes again. Reaching for the wound, he touched the area.

“A bullet grazed your forehead.”

His hand froze and his eyes snapped open. With a hard glare focused her way, he fingered the rest of his head. Julia swallowed, gulping down a huge dose of apprehension. His green eyes glittered with anger. She fingered her own braid and stammered an answer to the question in his eyes.

“We’ve... been here almost an hour, and you... you needed a disguise. I just put the time to good use. Besides, I had to shear the area around the wound to look at the damage. It’s not that deep, by the way.”

He grabbed her wrist, and the sudden contact caused her mouth to go dry. Between clenched teeth, he said, “ I’m beginning to dislike you immensely.”

“Well, you’re not exactly my favorite cowpoke, either. Look, I’m genuinely sorry for everything, but I’m trying to make it right.” She yanked her hand from his grasp.

He sat up slow and groaned. Swinging long legs over the side of the cot, he gave her a solemn look. Why didn’t he yell at her? She would deserve it. The silence stretched on and so did the time. She needed to get back to the ranch before they missed her, and this man needed to be on his way if he hoped to elude the authorities.

The sooner he was up and about, the sooner he would ride out of her life. Perhaps then, she could get back to a more normal routine. She could go back to daydreaming about Faraday Metzer without the unbidden image of this man to cloud her judgment. And, maybe, she could shake the guilt that kept her awake at night.

She shot him a tentative smile. “Feel like riding?”

He narrowed his eyes, but refrained from comment.

“Are-are you always so serious?” She tried for a little levity and failed. “Look. We’ve wasted enough time here. You need to get a move on, and I need to get back to the ranch. There’s a horse ready for you, and we packed a saddlebag. We even stuck some money in there, so you have a real opportunity of escaping and making another life for yourself somewhere else.”

“I don’t want another life. I want this one, sorry as it may seem to you.”

“With the whole state of Texas out looking for your hide? At least, no one will recognize you now that your face isn’t hiding behind all that hair.”

He brought his hand up to his face and toured the rugged features with a calloused hand. Eyebrows furrowed in an intense frown, and his tongue worked the inside of his cheek. Slowly, methodically, the man rose to his full height, intimidating her even more with his seemingly casual actions. He took a deep breath and exhaled, the sound a whisper of the retribution to come. Guilt kept her rooted to the spot. Now he would yell at her, and she’d deserve every harsh word he threw her way. She was almost looking forward to having it done and out of the way.

He approached her then. She should have run, should have hopped on her horse and galloped away. In his condition, he wouldn’t have been able to stop her. Julia stood her ground, mesmerized by his very presence. The room reverberated with tension. I’m guilty of ruining his life. He knows it, and now I need to face the consequences. Anticipation and dread played havoc with her senses.

Jake Nolan reminded her a little of her father. Cal’s look alone could make her wither with shame and remorse. Jake made her feel all of these things and more. It was a novelty to be able to look up into another man’s eyes. She wished things could be different, that their meeting had occurred under different circumstances, and that she could sort out the various emotions coursing through her mind.

His hand reached out to touch her hair. Frozen, Julia just stood, allowing this man to cup her cheek. Like the time he’d inadvertently touched her hand, the soft brush of his fingertips on her skin caused a tingle to crawl up her spine and settle in the pit of her stomach. His gaze held her captive as he took one hand then the other and held them for a moment. A click sounded, and cold, smooth metal touched her skin. In her mesmerized state, she had allowed Jake Nolan to place the manacles he had worn earlier on her slender wrists.

She jerked her bound hands out of his grasp. “What are you doing?”

“Taking you with me, ma’am.”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Excerpt - Killer Dolls by Angelica Hart and Zi

Call from Her to Him

Taut keyed his phone after it signaled and spoke, “Taut!" His device was hands-free allowing him to drive as he followed Rud through the Stanton streets.
Letti, on the line, responded, “Letti misses you,” she
said, returning his call, loving his campy message, delighted he had called as he said he would, and refusing to even question what stopped the fireworks the night before.
“Does she?" He maneuvered his vehicle remaining clandestine.
“Does Taut want to come out and play?”
“Sounds like Letti needs a distraction." Taut smiled.
“You are my distraction.”
“Sweet, but… I was thinking about that one you keep in your bed stand.”
“Gaa… what am I going to do with you? You are so naughty. You should be ashamed.”
“Ashamed…for acknowledging that you are a healthy woman?”
The mantle of embarrassment was surprisingly nonexistent and she quipped, “How did you know I was in my bed?”

Angelica Hart and Zi
Killer Dolls ~ September 2009

Snake Dance ~ February 2010

Champagne Books

Excerpt - Sarah's Brass Token by Ciara Gold

Sarah’s Brass Token

(Nominated for a CAPA award in 2006)

Available from

Matilda from Coffeetime posted a wonderful review. Here's a snippet:
I cannot say enough good things about this book. It just blew me away. Such heartache turned into such promise. The three-dimensional secondary characters tell more than just the story of Sarah and Tabor. I can only hope for a chance to see some of them in their own story. The Brass Token in this story means one thing, but becomes a symbol of something else. You must read this story. It will touch you to the core. Kudos Ms. Gold on a riveting good book!
Striving to make ends meet after her brother is hung for murder, Sarah Jones is determined to make it on her own. After losing everything to war, Tabor Nolan yearns for family and a home. Can two lost souls discover love on a rural farm in Banjo, Texas?


“You low down, conniving, wagon-flattened, slimy snake. You stole my place, didn’t you?”

Tabor should have been upset by her tirade, but instead, he was amused and chuckled. “Wagon-flattened?”

Sarah’s fist flew at his face, catching him just under the left jaw. He stumbled. Reeling from the blow, he straightened slowly, just in time to duck when she threw another punch his way. He caught her about the waist and held her tight. She rewarded him with a kick to the shin. Instead of releasing her, he pulled her closer.

“All right. That’s enough. Granted, you’ve got a right to be a little miffed, but . . . ”

“Miffed? Oh, I’m miffed, all right. I’m raging miffed. That’s what I am, mister.”

For having just recovered from being ill, Sarah put up one heck of a struggle. He had seriously underestimated her strength and her ability to recuperate quickly. She swung again and missed.

He pinned her arms to her sides and backed her against the sideboard. “No more, Sarah. I mean it.”

“Or what? You’ll hit back?”

Where had that idea come from? He would never hit a woman. His mother had ingrained a knightly attitude where women were concerned.

He stroked her back, calming her as he might a green horse. Her chest heaved with her exertions. She stood stiff and unyielding within his arms, yet his passion stirred. She’d been magnificent in her anger. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her, to bury himself in her warmth.

He took a deep breath and fought to control his budding desire. “Okay, you’re spitting mad. I made you an offer the other day. I’d like you to reconsider my proposal.”

“You expect me to trust you, after you went and bought the farm behind my back?”

The rise and fall of her breasts grazed his chest as she struggled to breathe normally. Closing his eyes, he continued to relish the feel of her body close to his. He, too, had difficulty controlling his breathing. Opening his eyes, he gazed at the top of her head.

“Circumstances forced me to act fast without consulting you. I apologize, but I didn’t have much choice. If I hadn’t bought it when I did, Scratch Davis would now be the new owner.”

Her struggles ebbed, and he loosened his hold. He could see she struggled with inner demons. On the one hand, she wanted to strike out at him, not because he bought the farm, but because she needed an easy scapegoat to vent all her frustrations on. On the other hand, she was a woman, and women were naturally curious creatures. Her curiosity was roused. She wanted to know what had made him buy the farm. She finally pulled out of his arms and sat down in one of the wooden slat chairs at the table.

He leaned back against the sideboard and studied her. She had fire, he’d give her that. If she agreed to his proposal, his life would never be the same again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

First Chapter - The Dark Lighthouse by Jane Toombs


By Jane Toombs

Chapter One

Lisa Womack walked briskly along the midnight-deserted street, shoulder bag swinging, the sound of her heels clicking on the cement sidewalk echoing from the blank-faced apartment buildings. She'd fastened her long hair into a coil at her nape and wore a belted gabardine coat. Just common sense here in Manhattan not to leave loose hair or clothes that could be easily grabbed onto.

The dark trees of New York's Central Park loomed a block ahead, so she slowed her pace.

Hearing a car coming up behind her, she walked faster, careful to look neither right nor left. As the car pulled even with her, it matched her quickened pace. To the right, four stairs led to the glass doors of an apartment house. She measured the distance in her mind.

In case the car brought danger.

"Ms.!" The brusque voice came from the car.

Lisa glanced sideways, letting out her breath in a sigh of relief when she saw the blue uniformed officer in a police squad car.

"Ms.," he repeated. She had an impression of dark eyes scrutinizing her from a hawk-nosed face.

She slowed to a stop, turning toward the car and forcing a smile.

"I wouldn't walk here alone if I were you." The officer nodded to the dark trees less than a block away. "Not this near the park. Not after what's happened these last couple of months."

Lisa knew only too well what he meant. Four young women had been attacked in this section of the park since March and three of them had been raped and beaten. One so badly she died. Only the fortuitous arrival of a mounted patrolman had saved the fourth. Despite an intensive manhunt, the assailant was still at large.

"You could call a cab from the lobby of the Hudson Co-op," the officer suggested. "It's around the corner to your right."

"Thank you," Lisa told him.

The radio in the squad car crackled. The driver listened, grunted, then revved the motor, screeched into a U-turn and roared away with his lights flashing. For a moment Lisa stared after the receding taillights before she turned and walked on.

At the next cross street a cab eased around the corner and swung in her direction, a roaming gypsy prowling for business. The cab slowed, the driver glancing hopefully in Lisa's direction. When she shook her head he accelerated past, leaving a wake of exhaust fumes to foul the cool May night.

From the street corner across from the park she looked to her right, where the canopy of the Hudson Co-op extended over the sidewalk from the entrance of the converted nineteenth century mansion to Central Park West. A uniformed security guard stood vigil at the top of the steps with his hands clasped behind him.

After a moment's hesitation, Lisa straightened her shoulders and, raising her chin determinedly, crossed the street. As she stepped onto the curb a man's voice called to her. Startled, she whirled around. The doorman, a square-faced man no older than she, had left his post and was waving to her from beneath the end of the canopy. "Lady, you ain't going into that park." It was more of a statement than a question.

"It's shorter this way," she told him.

He shook his head and, even from this distance, she saw the concern on his face. She could well imagine what he was thinking: Why is such a vulnerable young woman here alone at this time of night? And why is she taking the risk of entering the dark and forbidding park?

"You from out of town, lady?" he asked.

Lisa almost smiled, knowing that, to a New Yorker, visitors were capable of untold acts of foolishness. She shook her head. "I live in the Village."

He turned from her with a shrug, the gesture saying he'd done his best so nobody could blame him for what might happen.

Ahead, a path curved into the park, the way shrouded in darkness despite the feeble rays from a globed light a hundred feet ahead. Lisa walked purposefully past a bench but couldn't help glancing at the headline on a discarded Post that was all too clear even in the midnight gloom: NO CLUES IN PARK RAPIST HUNT.

No, she wouldn't think about the assailant who might be lurking in there. Hiding in the midnight shadows of the trees. Waiting. Waiting for her. She refused to give in to the unease crawling along her spine, chilling her body with icy fingers of apprehension.

She shut away her fear as best she could and walked on. The glow from the great city surrounding the park reflected palely from clouds hovering overhead in the moonless sky but the light failed to penetrate to the path where Lisa walked beneath the over-reaching branches of trees and shrubs. This was an alien, rural world.

At least it was alien to her. She was a city person, much as her father had been. She loved the excitement of crowds, the pushing and shoving, the flowing masses of men and women rushing here and there. She reveled in the city's sounds, the strident clamor of taxi horns, the shouts of street vendors, the rumble of the subways. She enjoyed breathing the aromas of the metropolis, the sharp scents of food from the restaurants, even the fumes from the thousands of cars, trucks and buses.

Only when the wind came off the Atlantic and the tang of the eastern sea swept up the skyscraper-walled canyons did she feel a sense of unease. It was then the haunting memory returned and again she saw the white blur of the lighthouse through the twilight fog while her father worked frantically to restart the boat's outboard motor. Beneath a glowering sky, the sea around them roiled into white-capped turmoil.

Lisa shook her head, impatient with herself. The past was over and done with. She needed to pay attention to the here and now. The park wasn't really alien it was a part of the city, a place where she'd played as a child, skated in winter, rode along the bridle paths, fed the pigeons. During the day. The only time she'd been here at night was to sit on the grass with many other New Yorkers at open-air concerts during the summers. She'd never rowed on the lake, though. Boats didn't appeal to her.

Tonight was different. The path ahead darkened. The next lamp was out. A low hill rose to her left, trees loomed on her right. Refusing to alter her steady pace, she walked on with the only sound in the warm night the distant murmur of city traffic. In the hush she became aware of the throbbing beat of her heart and the rasp of her breathing.

Were those footsteps behind her? Or was it the faint echo of her own steps? No, the sound of the footsteps didn't quite match hers, failing by a heartbeat every few paces, to anticipate or follow hers.

When Lisa hesitated for an instant, the sound of footfalls pulsed plainly through the silence. Fear uncoiled in her stomach. Someone was following her! She walked faster and veered onto a left-hand path. The steps followed. She turned once more, to the right this time, increasing her pace until she was almost running.

From behind came a man's gloating laugh. Her breath caught in her throat. Resisting the impulse to break and run, she looked over her shoulder to peer into the gloom. She saw nothing. Again the laugh, high-pitched and inane. From farther away now. A drunken laugh. The footsteps receded until they faded into nothingness.

Lisa tried to deny the apprehension, the fear. Yet she couldn't, even though she'd never been easily alarmed. Here in the park the danger was real. Almost palpable. The tips of her fingers tingled. It was Central Park itself that alarmed her, she cautioned herself, this rectangular wilderness island in the center of the city, this attempt by landscape designers to interrupt the natural symmetry of stone, concrete and steel. She was a relative stranger here as she wasn't a stranger in the Village, on 42nd Street, or the lower East Side.

Another lamp beside the path beckoned from ahead, the light on the sidewalk and the grass creating a circle of seeming safety. She was some twenty paces from the light when the hissing started. Lisa tensed, imagining a snake coiled and ready to strike-a venomous, writhing reptile hidden in the concealing darkness.

Don't be ridiculous, she told herself. There were no poisonous snakes in the Park. Besides, she now realized the noise came from up ahead. Approaching.

Lisa stopped, puzzled by the sound. Then she saw its source. Of course, she should have known. A bicycle swooped toward her, its tires hissing on the pavement. The rider, hunched forward over the handlebars, was dressed in dark clothing with a black cloth cap pulled low on his forehead.

Relaxing, Lisa stepped onto the grass to let the bicyclist speed by. She frowned-although a headlamp was mounted on the handlebars, the lamp was unlit. It was dangerous to ride in the park at night without a light, someone could get hurt. More than the headlight was wrong. She couldn't make out the face of the onrushing rider, shadowed as it was by the cap. In fact, he didn't seem to have a face. She stared in surprise and growing consternation. The bike was almost upon her now. No face? The rider must have a face.

He had to be wearing some kind of mask, which meant only one thing. A shock of fear quivered up her spine, gooseflesh rose on her arms. Stepping farther away from the path, Lisa slid her hand into her shoulder bag.

The rider braked abruptly, making the bike skid across the pavement toward her. The man-muscular and compactly built-leaped clear of his falling bike and sprang at her, swinging his arm at the bag she held in front of her like a shield. His thrust knocked it from her hands, but the strap held and sent it swinging around in back of her. His fingers brushed her shoulder as he reached for her throat.

Lisa grabbed the visor of his cap and yanked it down, at the same time noting he wore a stocking mask that covered his face. Momentarily blinded, her attacker stumbled forward. She twisted from his grasp and ran, almost falling as she came to the fringe of trees. She sensed he was close behind.

Again she reached in her bag, found the container and pulled it out as she spun around. Fear fell away, replaced by grim determination. The man's cap was gone. The stocking over his head gave him the eerie look of an eyeless mannequin. He lunged at her. She pressed the nozzle and the Mace sprayed a steady stream into his face. He gasped in surprise, his hands jerked up to shield himself.

Lisa grasped the man's right wrist, yanked him forward and, while he was off-balance, flipped him onto his back on the ground. He grunted in pain, raising his arm, not to attack her again but almost in supplication, as a drowning man might fling his hand above the surface of the sea in a last attempt to save himself.

For a horrible moment she saw her father staring at her from the turbulent Pacific waters, once more she watched with a ten-year-old's terror and helplessness as he reached for the side of the boat in one last desperate attempt to stay afloat. Her fingers clutched his and she held to him until a wave smashed down on them, upending the boat, tossing her into the ocean and wrenching her father's hand from hers.

When she'd looked at the sea after the teen-aged boy had carried her to the shore, her father was gone. His body was never recovered-the Pacific Ocean had claimed him as its own.

Lisa forced the memory away. On the ground, her assailant was trying to roll over and get up. Crouching, she reached to him, found the pressure point on his neck and thrust down. His head jerked to one side and his body slumped into unconsciousness.

She stood, brushing off her skirt, trembling. Drawing in a deep breath, she slid her hand inside her bag and pressed the button that would summon help. Looking down at the helpless man, she leaned toward him to pull the stocking mask from his face.

Though she really didn't want to know what he looked like, she'd have to identify him, so she yanked off the mask and stared at his red hair and his freckled moon-shaped face with a scar running along the left cheek. Though she looked for only a few seconds, she knew she'd never forget him.

~ * ~

"You weren't able to call for help any sooner?" the reporter from the Times asked.

"There just wasn't time," Lisa said. "I never expected him to be riding a bike."

"Ummm." The reporter seemed to doubt her. "You were hired to find the rapist? To act as a decoy?"

Lisa sipped the precinct house's steaming black coffee, trying to be patient despite her fatigue, knowing the reporter was in a hurry to meet a deadline.

"One victim's family paid me a retainer. I'm afraid I can't give you their name."

The reporter shrugged, making a notation on her pad. "The cops aren't too thrilled, I gather, though they're putting a good face on it. This is twice in the last year you've stolen their thunder. 'New coup for five foot two Ms. Blue Eyes' was the way Eyewitness News put it. I'd say you were on a winning roll. "

Lisa shrugged. "As a private investigator I always cooperate with the police."

"In the long run." The reporter grinned and stood up. "Any plans for the future?"

"California," Lisa said without thinking, surprising herself. She paused before going on. "I'm planning on taking a vacation along the coast near Eureka."

The reporter made a note before jamming her pad into her totebag. "Live long and prosper."

Lisa smiled goodbye.

Eureka: the coast where her father drowned sixteen years before. Something about the attack in the park had triggered the memories she'd tried to repress. It seemed she'd known all along she had to go back, had to go to California again to try to find out what really happened so many years before.

Until she did, she'd find no peace, none at all.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Excerpt - High Risk by Jane Toombs

HIGH RISK Prologue

The take-off roar of a 747 blasted across the tarmac as Clint Hastings strode through L.A.'s smog-diffused sunlight to the private pad where the small, sleek jet waited.

Keep cool, man, he urged himself as he stifled an impulse to glance behind him. No one from the casino's going to check at the bank for at least two days. Nothing can go wrong.

His skin prickled with unease. As though an invisible being trailed him.

Clint straightened his shoulders. He didn't believe that shit. Anyone with half knew there was nothing in the stories the old men told. Hell, he'd never even heard about invisible watchers until his mother caught up with him and dragged him off to the reservation when he was twelve.

He shifted the heavy suitcase to his left hand and slowed his pace. I'm no more a goddamned Indian that Powers is, he assured himself. Why couldn't the old lady leave well enough alone? She didn't want me when I was born, why'd she expect I'd want any part of her and her people when I grew up?

The pilot stepped from the jet's shadow and approached him, his glance taking in Clint's beige suit, bronze shirt and tie. Poor bastard, Clint thought.

"Nice day for a jump," the pilot said. "You making it in that outfit?"

"You fly this crate," Clint said, "and I'll take care of the rest. Okay?"

The pilot shrugged and turned back toward the jet.

Once they were in the air, Clint unsnapped his safety belt and opened the suitcase. He carefully lifted out an attaché case and slid it just as carefully out of sight under the seat. More of Powers' careful elimination of any witness, but bombs made him nervous. He stripped to his shorts and took a jumpsuit from the suitcase. By this time tomorrow there’d be Sara.

He zipped up the jumpsuit. He wanted Sara Powers--God, how he wanted her. The sound of her hesitant voice on the phone yesterday had made him hard right there in the booth. She was so small, so helpless, so elegant. A lady. Randall Power's lady.

His lips curled into a half-smile. He planned to change that. All it took was money. The money would give him Sara. Among other things.

He fastened a thick width of leather around his waist and stared from the jet's window. The smog was far below; the sky was cloudless. Beneath him the Tehachapis leveled off into the great basin of the San Joaquin Valley. He checked his watch. Powers had timed this to the second. In a few minutes he'd tell the pilot the jump would be sooner than planned.

"Don't let him know until you're approaching the Sierras," Powers had said. "Tell him there's a bonus waiting in Reno if he keeps the switch to himself. When the chute deploys, keep your eye out for the yellow X in the meadow. "

Clint nodded. Powers thought of everything.

Everything except me. Powers doesn't have a clue about my plans or about me and Sara. He sat on the edge of the seat, smiling to himself, seeing Sara's blue eyes, her fair hair.

"I wish you wouldn't take these risks," she'd said when she'd called him back three days ago, before she left for the lodge. "What if Floyd tells Randall you called?"

"Floyd didn't recognize my voice."

"You shouldn't have taken the chance. For all I know, Randall monitors every call."

"I doubt that."

Sara sighed. "He doesn't miss much."

"All he can find out is that a man called you and left a phone number. This is a phone booth, Sara. Relax, we took enough chances last fall and never got caught."

"I must have been crazy."

"You drove me crazy. You still do."

Her soft intake of breath ignited him but all she said was, "Randall and I leave for Deerhead Lodge this afternoon."

"Everything's set?"

"Marlyn and Elise are both coming. It'll work out."

The phone had clicked in his ear before he could say anything more.

Clint's smile faded as he checked the .44 Remington magnum in his arm holster. He didn't exactly figure on trouble with Powers but he'd have no qualms about using the gun if he had to.

He lifted two large, heavy pouches from the suitcase and unbuckled his thick leather belt to slide them onto it, one to either side, then refastened the parachute harness. Almost like dropping into South America that time, going in loaded.

Had he overlooked anything? The bunch at the casino hadn't a clue, he was

sure. To them he was old buddy Clint, a blood brother, returning to the tribe when they needed him. Why should they suspect? Damn it, he'd worked hard to help them get the casino set up and running. Even now, when it was pulling in money hand over fist, he’d helped out when they asked him.

So they'd find out you can't trust anyone. You'd think Indians--no, what the hell, they were Native Americans now--would know better after undergoing two hundred years of having their faces shoved in shit. He had a slight twinge of guilt about one thing only--his half-brother.

Clint grimaced. He'd tried to sound Frank out, sort of wanting to let him in on it, but his brother was one thick-headed Indian. Once he realized Frank was a complete straight arrow type, he'd shut up, not daring to let him suspect what was going down. You couldn't trust anyone. Not even your brother.

Not even Randall Powers?

With his hand touching the switch on the attaché case, Clint hesitated. It wasn't too late to fly on to Reno and forget the jump. Keep the money. Get out of the country. Forget Powers.

That'd mean forgetting Sara, too.

How long would he last with Powers after him? Powers and those types Powers dealt with, men even Powers was polite to. Powers was taking a chance by shafting one of them--Bandini. If Clint Hastings was dumb enough to take all the money, Powers and Bandini would team up and zap--he'd be ashes.

Carrying out Powers' orders was a better shot. And safer. With some modifications in his own favor. Like Sara.

Clint flicked a switch on the attaché case. Now there was no turning back. . .

Monday, September 14, 2009

Excerpt - Killer Dolls by Angelica Hart and Zi

She finally raised her head, flushed with what she could only imagine was a brilliant blush, she now making first eye contact. Why? He was an attractive man, the remember-to-breathe sort of attractive, with penetrating eyes and a charm-saturated smile. Every grooming detail meticulously accounted for earlier. He wore a Nat Nast beneath a vintage leather jacket and jeans that looked like something out of a GQ ad, perfect fit, perfect stance, perfect... everything. Her mind hung on the ideal of everything. The last thought reminded her she wasn't thinking about jeans but about the man in them. Confronted by such a man often embarrassed her, turning her shy, and with confidence elusive she oft times stuttered. Fumbling with her out-of-style eyeglasses she found her composure and responded, “Twenty-two fifty. Wow. That is pricy.”

“It is, but would be worth it if you smiled." He flashed a smile that nurtured as it tenderly comforted, and raised an eyebrow calling for that smile.

Though, completely taken off guard, she felt a flick of panic rush beneath her skin. Easy girl. You can do this, she told herself silently. So what if this man piqued the urge to drool and bat a few lashes, then she remembered her eyelashes were on her nightstand. He was just a man; gorgeous to the square of infinity but still a man. She knew many handsome men. She thought of Jack the handyman at her complex who had muscles that could barely fit through the door and Carlos, owner of a local pizzeria, with his all-white-dazzle smiles and compliments. But neither were the handsome that attracted Letti, neither had the voice that made her feel music, or looked at her as if she had a soul. Somehow, in this instantaneous moment of glance-to-glance, she found that this stranger did. He coupled her sensibility right to her passion and bridged that through his eyes retracting her soul into the protective hug of his. He was a man. All she was able to do was feign an awkward grin as she twittered in place.

Angelica Hart and Zi
Killer Dolls ~ September 2009

Snake Dance ~ February 2010

Champagne Books

Excerpt - Celestial Dragon by Ciara Gold

Gail Pruszkowski from Romantic Times Book Reviews wrote: “Gold kicks off an exciting new series with a beautifully written romantic fantasy. Her finely detailed world produces vivid images, and the gripping plot is full of drama and passion, complete with dragons and shapeshifters. Complex characters evoke intense emotions. Readers will ache for a happy ending and eagerly anticipate the next adventure.” Check out this awesome review in the August ’07 issue of Romantic Times.


When ZAN DANE, ruler of Pelicosia, finds ninety-five women for his men, he never dreams of finding his own mate. Exiled for daring to oppose the Burdven Empire, they have no women, no mates to regenerate their new kingdom and populate it with the sound of children until Zan Dane finds a way to travel across galaxies in search of prospective mates.

CHELIAN KAR is Deliphit, an outcast with supernatural powers. Though she is the daughter of the High Chancellor of Kel, Satobik laws prohibit her from having physical contact with anyone. While other young women are mated to men chosen by their fathers, Chelian has no such hope until Zan Dane soars into her life. With an offer of zeel, a commodity most men would die for, Zan Dane convinces her father to allow the union. Will his journey lead him to a treasure richer than zeel?


“I find it curious how you are treated, fiol’ston.”
She jumped. Fen Dane’s voice startled her from her meditation. Pretty one? Had he called her pretty in Fendabor?
She kept her gaze respectfully downcast as she turned to address him. “You mustn’t speak to me in such a public place. It’s rude.”
“Where I come from, ’tis rude to ignore the guest of honor. You will attend me this evening.”
“I can’t.”
“But you will.”
“Please, Fen Dane. What you ask is most unseemly. I’m already on display here for all to gawk at. To serve you when it’s not allowed will bring more censure upon my head. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to witness such grandeur, but this is all I’m allowed to enjoy. Have pity.” The silky feel of darsk fabric between agitated fingers gave her some measure of comfort. It was a nervous habit she’d had since her youth.
She dared a glance at his features. A deep frown marred his brow. Like a preying verdick, a poisonous insect stalking its victim, he began to circle her. She stood still, refusing to be baited by this man.
“I am still at a loss to understand this affliction you claim. I see skin the color of ripe telman fruit. Your eyes, when I am lucky enough to enjoy a glimpse, shine brighter than the moon of Meridar. Even your hair reminds me of spun mestik. I see . . . perfection.”
“My affliction isn’t visible.” Her voice stumbled over the words, her throat tight. No one had ever paid her tribute before. His praise embarrassed her.
“Nay. ’Tis apparently inside of you and enough to make most fear the very air you breathe. Pity. I do not fear you, fiol’ston. What I feel is better left for our mating.”

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Excerpt - Heal My Hurting Heart by Allison Knight


End of July 1885, northwest of Denver
“What the hell?” Luke Adams jerked on the reins of his
ancient horse.
A muffled crack competing with the sighing winds played
through the mountain pines. Definitely not a gun shot! Thank
God. Not with cattle missing. Twisting in the saddle, he listened.
Nothing unusual. Just the distant lowing of cattle, the
whispering breeze, the creaking of his saddle leather.
Damn. His skin crawled. Superstitious wasn’t his style and
he didn’t believe in premonitions. Hell, there wasn’t much he did
believe in anymore! But, something was wrong.
He gazed out over the narrow valley, surveying the new
grass bending in the gentle wind, grass that would feed his
cattle through the summer. With a movement borne of practice,
he threw his leg over the saddle horn and stared up at the red
rocks that gave the surrounding mountains their name. Peaks
still frosted with touches of last winter’s snow framed the
landscape, as puffy white clouds floated past through a sea of
pure, crystal-clear blue. What sound had shattered this peace?
What had he heard?
Luke inhaled a deep breath of crisp mountain air, ignoring
his own question as he studied the unchanging scene, the same
year after year. Hell! How he wished his life could be as steady
as these rocks.
The pounding thud of an approaching horse interrupted
his thoughts. He glanced back. Could it have something to do
with that cracking sound?
“Came to see how yer doing,” Bud, his foreman, shouted
as he rode into view.
“How many did you find?” Luke asked as Bud halted
beside him.
“Only two. Thought I’d go east. Them cows have got to
be somewhere.” Bud patted the neck of his horse to quiet him.
“We’ll find ‘em. We’re only missing ten head. They just
wandered off. But you check the valley to the west and I’ll check
that hill to the east.”
Bud gave a salute and rode off. Luke slid his boots back
into the stirrups and started east, dismissing the sound.
Probably been a weakened branch splitting from a nearby pine
Once he reached the hill he stopped near the bottom and
searched above him. Not a cow in sight. He started to turn and
then spun around. Halfway up the hill, a pile of debris littered
the ground. Whatever it was it hadn’t been there earlier this
He prodded Queenie forward. As she picked her way
around a series of rocky outcroppings, he studied the spot
above him. To the right of a large boulder was what looked like
the remains of a fractured buckboard. Bits of grass and dirt
stuck to several pieces of wood and metal. This was recent. Had
this been what he’d heard, this buckboard splitting apart?
Far above, an old dirt road led to a worthless mine. The
gouged out chunks of earth and scraped soil marked the
wagon’s path to the point of impact, as it careened down the
sloop. But what was someone doing with a buckboard on the old
Wheeler road?
“Better look for the driver,” he said, sighed and swung
out of the saddle. After ground-tying Queenie, he gave the
wreck another quick perusal. No one in that mess.
“Heh! Wait a minute.” There was no sign of a horse. No
leather straps, no harness, nothing. Grabbing at his hat, Luke
slapped it against his pants then ran stiff fingers through damp
hair. “Strange.”
“Hell! Nobody could have lived through that.”
As he climbed over another pile of stones, he scanned the
area, then worked around more stones.
What was someone doing on that road, anyway? Never
has been any gold or silver in these parts and everybody around
here knows it. This makes no sense, none at all.
Then, he heard a groan and froze.
Someone had been on that wagon. His stomach knotted.
“Hey, Buddy, can you hear me? Give a shout.” He
stopped in his rush over another patch of rocks.
“Stupid,” he mumbled. The guy could be mortally
wounded and Luke wanted him to shout? The noise had come
from behind that boulder. He moved closer.
Wait. Next to a stone, something moved. Below a dark
swatch of cloth, the edge of a small boot twitched. He climbed
toward the object. Dark drops of what looked like blood
splattered the ground. Whoever was on that wagon had been
Vaulting over more rocks, he slammed to a stop like a
body running into a brick wall. His stomach flipped, his heart
dropped and he swallowed hard. Never expected to see this!
A dark skirt bunched around a pair of legs, long legs with
shapely calves. Full hips flared below a slender waist. A bodice,
once white, was nicely filled with full feminine curves.
“Oh, he--” Biting off the end of the word, his gaze jerked
to her face. Thick brown hair covered a good portion of it, but
blood stained the other half, and soaked into the ground. One
hand was smeared with red, as if she’d touched the wound.
She groaned again.
Thank the lord. At least she was alive. He hunched down
at her side. “Ma’am,” he said, hesitated then touched her
shoulder. “I’ll get help. You rest easy. I’ll just signal my foreman
then send for Doc. Okay?”
Ridiculous! She probably couldn’t hear him.
She moved and for an instant opened her eyes and
blinked. Bright blue eyes, filled with intense pain, stared back at
him. And fear. Fear so stark he could almost smell it.
Deep inside, an emotion long denied, twisted and turned,
like a wind-up toy soldier he’d seen in a Denver store. Luke
gritted his teeth. Where was his resolve? He’d finished with
women. What he felt now for this lady, was pity. She was hurt,
in pain. Pity, that was all! After all, she had been thrown from a
Another surge of emotion hit. Forget it. He needed help,
to get Bud back here.
He pulled the pistol from his waistband and glanced
around. No cattle to worry about. He only needed to fire a single
shot. The men were working nearby. They could take her back
to the ranch while one of the boys rode to town for Doc.
A minute after he fired, the thunder of hooves broke the
sudden silence. By the time Bud halted his horse at the bottom
of the hill, Luke had risen and stood waving at him.
“Trouble, Boss?”
“Yeah. Get the men and empty the buckboard. We’re
gonna need Doc. Some fool drove a wagon over that cliff.” He
glanced down at the woman. She didn’t look like a fool. She was
a looker, that was for sure, with her arched brows, short,
straight nose and lips shaped like a hunter’s bow. He gritted his
teeth. What she looked like shouldn’t matter. Did he have to
remind himself he was finished with women?
Another thought intruded. Had she been alone? He hadn’t
even looked for anybody else.
“Get Carl,” he ordered. “I want him up here to see if he
can find anyone else.”
With the noise, she opened her eyes again. Slowly, she
lifted her injured hand toward him.
“Ma’am were you alone?’ he asked kneeling beside her.
“Was someone else on the wagon with you?”
She attempted to shake her head. It must have hurt for
all she did was groan. Then she said “Help me.” She grabbed at
his shirt. “I don’t want to die.”
Luke patted her arm. He couldn’t remember when he’d
heard that kind of desperation in someone’s voice. “You’re not
going to die,” he growled. “I didn’t climb up here to have you...”
No need to finish talking. She’d lost consciousness. Just
as well. They’d have to carry her down the mountain, and the
ride to the ranch would mean more pain.
Damn, could they move her? How bad was she injured?
I’ll have to check for broken bones. Sweat broke out on
his brow. This was something he didn’t want to do, but there
was no one else. He felt as nervous as he had the first time he
tried to break a horse.
Wiping damp hands on jeans, he murmured a silent
prayer. Let her stay unconscious. He swallowed hard and lifted
both hands. I gotta do this. He groaned, then straightened. But
this was a woman. What the hell was wrong with him? He’d
helped with enough ranch accidents to know he had to find out
if she’d broken any bones. There was no choice, he was it. And
he had to finish before the men arrived with the wagon so he’d
know if they could move her.
First, he ran his fingers down one arm, then the other.
Then he skimmed her shoulders. Sweat poured off, under his
hat, down his shirt, both front and back. The softness of her
skin, the delicate bones, curves he couldn’t ignore, were pure
punishment. Damn. Now his hands were shaking.
“Don’t see nobody else, boss,” Carl announced as he
“Who else rode out with you?” Luke asked. He glanced at
the women, wondering if she could hear them talking but there
was no reaction.
“Just me and Bud. The others headed west with them
cows. Got all ten of ‘em.”
“You head to town for the Doc,” Luke instructed. “But first
thing, stop at the house. Tell Agnes what’s happened, that we’re
bringing in an injured woman. She’d best get the spare room
ready.” He watched Carl bound down the mountain before
returning to the task.
For a second he closed his eyes. Get done with it. Once
more he ran his hands over her shoulders, then traced her
sides, slid over her ribs. Oh, lord. She was wearing one of those
corset things. He couldn’t feel a thing through the whalebone
structure. Why’d women need something like that when they
were already slim and shapely? This woman sure didn’t need it.
Now his hands shook as he lifted the skirt a bit to see if
she’d broken any leg bones. Nothing broken so far. He jammed
his hands into his back pants pockets to stop the shaking. After
a minute, he continued the examination.
When he ran his hands over her head, a goose egg had
formed behind her right ear, then he rolled her over. A dozen
small cuts covered her arms and legs and she had twice that
many bruises. The deep gash on her head was doing all the
bleeding. And what looked suspiciously like rope burns circled
her wrists.
He sat back on his haunches. Strange, those burns? If
she’d wrapped the reins around her wrists as well as her hands
to help control the horse pulling the wagon she might have
some marks, but like this? Probably not, but what else could
have made that kind of injury. Standing, he walked around the
area, looking for tracks. Where was the critter that pulled the
buckboard over that road? And, that bump behind her ear, could
she have hit her head on something on the trip down the
mountain? He’d leave the speculation to Doc.
“Thank heavens,” he muttered in relief as Bud stomped
up the hill. “We’ve got to get her down this mountain and into
the wagon.”
Bud frowned. “Just you and me? You know we’re gonna
hurt her carrying her over them rocks. Anything broke?” He
tossed a blanket to the ground.
“I don’t think so. ‘Course, I’m not Doc.” Luke stooped to
spread the blanket over the rough terrain.
“Well, let’s get to it,” Bud said and bent down, gathering
her skirt in his hand. “On the count of three. One, two, three.”
They eased her onto the blanket. Luke grabbed two
blanket ends, Bud the other two.
“Watch for them damned rocks,” Bud ordered.
With the woman between them they struggled down the
mountain, then slid her into the wagon.
“Damn good thing she’s out,” Bud said after Luke whistled
for Queenie.
“You drive the buckboard,” Luke ordered mounting
Queenie. “Take it slow. I don’t know how bad she is. I’ll bring
your horse in. Meet you at the house.”
Urging the horse into a trot, and not wanting to see Bud’s
face or hear any complaints, Luke started for the house. A short
time later, he bounded up the wooden steps of the front porch.
He opened the closed door and threw his hat toward the hat
rack. “Agnes!”
No answer.
Damn, where was she?
“Agnes?” he called again. Still, no response. Rushing into
the kitchen, he stared at the empty pie shelf where earlier that
morning two sugar cream pies had stood.
“Damn!” Obviously his housekeeper was off being
neighborly. Just when he needed her. The job of getting a room
ready had to be his. As another thought surfaced, he jerked to a
halt. If Agnes didn’t show, he’d have to get the woman settled.
Have to make her comfortable.
Until Doc arrived.
Those clothes of hers were a mess. Ripped, bloody,
covered with dirt. They’d have to come off. Wait for Agnes? No,
better not do that. No telling how long she’d be gone.
Once again, damp shirt and hands plagued him. He
couldn’t even swallow, his throat was so tight. All because he’d
be required to take her clothes off. She wore a corset. That
would have to come off. Hell, he was acting like a youngen’.
After all, he’d had women before; it just had been a long time
Nor would it do to leave her naked. She’d to have
something else on. But what? Nightclothes in the summer didn’t
exist on a ranch. And winter meant longjohns.
What about Agnes? Didn’t she wear night clothes? A time
or two, he’d seen her wearing a nightgown and robe. That was
it. One of Agnes’s nightgowns would have to do and they hung
on the pegs in her room.
After he stripped the coverlet from the bed, he sighed
with relief. At least the bed didn’t need to be made. For good
measure though, he punched the pillows. After a quick glance
back, he headed for Agnes’s room.
Grabbing one of her nightgowns off its hook, he marched
back to the spare room, threw it over the end of the bed and
started for the front of the house. Bud should be arriving any
minute now. Satisfaction sliced through him. Bud was older. He
could take care of the woman.
As Luke waited on the porch, a dust cloud appeared in the
west. The buckboard? Or the wagon Agnes usually drove? He
hoped like hell it was Agnes.
Instead, the cloud followed the buckboard. Finally, Bud
pulled up before the house and Luke sprinted for the wagon.
“She regain consciousness?”
“Nope,” Bud swung down from the seat. “Not a sound.
“Agnes isn’t here. You’ll have to help me get her inside.”
“Not here?” Bud looked confused. “Where’d she go?
Who’s gonna take care of the girl? It’ll be two, maybe three
hours before Doc Spencer comes. Maybe more, if Carl has to go
“Yeah, I know. Look, let’s get her into the house. Okay?”
Luke saw no point in telling Bud he’d been elected. At least not
While Luke grabbed one end of the blanket, Bud eased
the woman’s shoulders out of the wagon.
“You think she’s hurt bad?”
“I don’t know. Doc will have to tell us.” Luke’s voice
sounded grim, even to himself. She couldn’t be hurt bad. If her
injuries weren’t serious, she’d be gone to wherever soon
enough. That’d be fine, because he didn’t want another woman
around here. A lesson he’d learned once. That was more than
Inside the house, they lowered the woman to the bed.
Before Luke had a chance to mention his plan to Bud, the
foreman was at the door.
“Boss, gotta see to the horses.”
Luke opened his mouth to object but the man was gone.
“Well, damn. I’ll have to see to her myself.”
For the next half hour, Luke suffered the punishment of
the damned. Somehow, he managed to remove the shoes. After
pulling stockings from those long shapely legs, sweat formed
again. Must be he’d been too long without female company. And
that corset thing had been constructed to torture men. Getting
the thing unlaced and off without brushing her breasts was
agony. Despite the pleasure, he shook the entire time and
experienced lots of pain, an intense yearning that formed like an
ache in his soul.
Then there was the tussle of trying to slip Agnes’s
nightgown over the woman’s chemise, probably because of his
terrible shaking. Thank the lord, she’d never regained
What he needed was coffee, hot strong, black coffee, so
he staggered to the kitchen.

Excerpt - A Noble Sacrifice by Ciara Gold


Can a stranger from a distant planet breach Yalfar’s strict laws to save a nation from doom and rescue one lone woman from the errors of her way?

Fen Tared Charst has betrayed his brother, and his people. To right the wrongs he’s done, he suffers the horrors of the zeel pits only to find himself a captive of the Temi tribe. In Yalfar, he discovers that leading the Temi princess and her warriors from their dying world is the key to his redemption. But losing his heart to Princess Joyella will be the key to saving his soul.

Princess Joyella Denue has broken a sacred law and for that, she is exiled from Yalfar. To regain her honor, she agrees to lead a convoy topside to escape the collapsing city, but she can’t make the journey alone. She needs Tared, but can she overlook her convictions to accept a man not of her tribe?


“No, beast, come no closer.” Her hand rose to ward him off. “I won’t be tempted by your lustful nature. Not now. Not ever.”

“Strong words for a woman destined to be mine. But – I can wait.” He backed away and sat on an outcropping of rock. From the pouches along his waist, he pulled a nourishment packet. “Here, you need food.”

She took the offered sustenance, sat across from him, and tore open the seal. The food inside didn’t look appetizing, but it had all the needed nutrients. She took a bite, realizing she was hungrier than she thought. “You need to eat also.”

“In time. Right now, I have an appetite for something else. I need to suppress the urge before I can eat.”

She choked on a bite. He laughed, the sound echoing off the chamber walls. He seemed so different when he smiled or laughed, not at all the ferocious warrior bent on claiming his due. She set the packet in her lap and played with the torn end. “Why did you help me?”

He gazed at the stalactites above her. “I want you to succeed.”

“But you could have incited my warriors to follow you instead. They want to trust someone that’s actually been to the surface.” She stared at her stomach. “Someone who hasn’t betrayed their faith.”

“We would lose a day if we backtracked. Your way is just as valid.”
“But how do you know?” Joyella gripped the crisp edge of the container. Food started to spill out and she relaxed her hold. But she had to know. She needed some form of reassurance because the people had forced her to doubt her own mind, to doubt yorellite’s vision.
“I saw what you saw.”

“But that doesn’t mean you have to believe my thoughts. What if they were only fanciful dreams? How can you be sure I know the way out?”

He made no comment.

She stared at his averted face, trying to see deep into his soul. Then she knew. “By Yutenk’s Glow, I don’t believe you. You didn’t just read my thoughts, did you?”

He shrugged. “I did what I thought best.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Interview with Rebecca Savage, the lady behind the intrigue

Julie: Welcome, Rebecca. Thank you for joining our blog today.

Rebecca: Thanks so much for letting me chat with you and your people. I know it'll be fun.

Julie: Your website,, especially your bio. in it, is very revealing. It seems that your career changed course in midstream. To what do you owe that change in your focus?

Rebecca: I think I've gone in so many directions because I'm a well-rounded person. I've traveled a lot, especially when I was in the military, and I love languages and people everywhere. I held a top secret clearance in the military, so that helped me decide what type of books I'd write first, but I've started branching out to other sub genres now. So I started in the military, then got out when my base closed and became a teacher of history at the high school level, and now I've added author to my resume. I also do taxes on the side, which means I think with both sides of my brain. Scary!

Julie: Having read as many books as you mentioned, you already had the formula for good romantic suspense. What book of all the ones that influenced you had the most impact on your style of writing?

Rebecca: Okay, so, not to sound like a broken record, but so many people like Nora Roberts, and I have to say I do, too. She's so fast-paced and stimulating. There's never a dull moment in her books. I hope there aren't boring points in my books either, but if there are, they won't last long. I promise.

Julie: Does your background in history affect the voice of your writing?

Rebecca: Yes, I had a hard time switching from writing like I was penning a research paper. Fiction is all action, dialog, and so on. Term papers are a very different animal.

Julie: Would you recommend belonging to the RWA (Romance Writers of America) to our already published Champagne Books authors? And if so why?

Rebecca: Okay, well, this one could get me in trouble either way, huh? Here goes. I have benefited immensely from the local level groups of RWA such as Carolina Romance Writers and Missouri Romance Writers, and the National Conference I attended in 2007 in Dallas was great, but...if you don't go to the conference, or join a local group, I see no benefit to being a part of the RWA national organization. The RWR Magazine (Romance Writers Report) is okay, and it gives you contest info and such, but the main benefit is being a part of the local group. So if you're gonna spend the money to pay the yearly fee to belong to RWA, then join a local group and go to the meetings. The members of those groups will be your best sources of information.

Julie: You showed a lot of discipline and integrity not hopping into RWA’s pool of judges when they put out the call at the local chapter level each year. You said you weren’t ready to judge or join critique partners then. What did you base that feeling on?

Rebecca: I didn't want to judge until I'd been judged. If I hadn't sold and published my own works, how would I know if I was doing the right thing or had the knowledge base or experience to judge or critique someone else's work? I'm not perfect now, but I've been working with editors and critique partners a while now, and I think I know what they're looking for. My writing has improved because of those folks, so I hope others can trust my judgment. Of course, I was an avid reader, but it's like driving. Watching and doing are two very different things.

Julie: Hoax agencies and publishers dupe many beginning writers. What would you say are the three most obvious warning signs that these people are not for real?

Rebecca: 1.) If they ask for money, they are bogus. All money flows from the author, not to them. Never pay for editing through false agency. I fell into that trap. See my warning in my bio. I paid $89 for a paragraph of generic advice, then found out the agency was a hoax. 2.) If no one in your groups or on any of your loops has heard of them, or if they've heard bad things, they're bogus. Ask. Ask. Ask. 3.) If they're not a part of some overall organization, they're probably bogus. Check them out.

Julie: One of the most impressive things that I noticed in your history was your faith in yourself and your willingness to, as Stephen King likes to say, “kill your darlings.” All those edits and reedits when you still may not sell the book can be wrenching. What drove you to stay with this and continue writing new material?

Rebecca: I'm a stubborn fool. “My” quote at the bottom of my emails, on my website and on everything I sign for my high school students is: Never let anything hold you down. Rise above it. I live by that motto. I'd never get anywhere if I didn't. Neither would anyone else. Besides, if you send your work to enough people and get the same feedback from enough editors, publishers, critique partners and everyone else, you'll soon learn they're right. Do the edits.

Julie, Tell us about your latest book to be released in September with Champagne Books.

Rebecca: Consequences: It's set in St. Louis, Missouri on The Hill, the Italian area of that great city. I'm from a small town near there, and I have a lot of family still in St. Louis. I go there often, and I love The Hill. I lived in Italy for five and a half years, so I speak the language and love the people. I had eight Italians in my house this June and traveled with them across the country. See my website for my travel info. So, the book is about a police officer, grieving for his murdered fiancée. He stumbles across a manhole on the street where his fiancée was killed, and he finds seven women shoved into the hole. He is a homicide detective, and he has to find out the identity of the serial killer and stop the rescued women from being murdered. The killer is still after them and won't stop until the task is finished. The heroine is the last victim, and the hero believes she'll be the most helpful in solving the case.

Julie: Sounds fascinating. I will buy that book for sure. It was a pleasure to talk with you, Rebecca. Thank you for your time today. How can our readers reach you?

Please, email using the contact form there. Anyone who contacts me within five days of this interview will be entered to win one free pdf copy of one of my books if they email me through that form.
Thanks for listening, and let me know if you like my work. I hope everyone does. I'd hate to be pegged as boring. It's my greatest to cheese. I'm lactose intolerant, so cheese is my ultimate worst fear. LOL

Interview contributed by Julie Eberhart Painter. Email Website:, author of Champagne Books newly released Mortal Coil.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blurb - Killer Dolls by Angelica Hart and Zi


After bio-terrorists use ricin to kill a man, they plan to attack innocent children by using ricin filled handcrafted dolls created by Letti Noel. After years of building her business, Letti now longs for romance and commitment, and thinks she might have found it in Taut Johnson. Only unbeknownst to her he is an FBI agent working undercover to find the terrorist. He knows he can't allow a relationship to develop until the case is over, yet finds that he is unwittingly falling for Letti, and now she is in danger, bringing back the past and a fear that he cannot protect those he loves.

Meanwhile, children are in increasing danger.

Meanwhile, there is another death.

Meanwhile, Taut's deceit threatens their growing love even as the stalking terrorists threaten their lives.

Angelica Hart and Zi

Killer Dolls ~ September 2009

Snake Dance ~ February 2010

Champagne Books