Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Angelica Hart and Zi

A: So, what came first the chocolate or the pheromones?
Z: What?
A: (Between words, she munches on a nutty piece of chocolate candy) I'm interchanging the word chocolate for love.
Z: What? (Looking even more confused)
A: Love is like chocolate. Being in love is simply a fabulous feeling, like eating a piece of chocolate, but do people fall in love because of a chemical reaction that exists because of pro-creation? Or does the chemical reaction happen because one person is drawn to another person, and then bingo-bango, the pheromones go crazy?
Z: And we are talking about this cauuuussse???
A: It's nearly Valentine's Day, so why not? (Holds out a heart-shaped box with half the treats gone)
Z: Didn't your hubba-bubba just give that to you five minutes ago, an early V-day gift? (Indulges, hesitates, and takes another candy)
A: Maaayyybbbbeee.
Z: You are a certifiable chocoholic! (Scoops up two more sweets)
A: Hmmm, I believe this is a case of the honeypot calling the beehive sticky.
Z: Maaayyybbbbeee. (Pops a treat, muttering how he doesn't get the connection Ang is making between chocolate and love and alters the subject a bit) Answer me this and that, do you think a person can really be addicted to chocolate? Is love just a chemical reaction, or is there something more?
A: More...More...More....
Z: Explain.
A: (Holds up her empty candy box) I need to go shopping for more candy. We're all out. (With that, Ang flees the office)

Seriously, folks, what is that crazy little thing called love. According to science, our brain creates phenyl ethylamine when people are falling in love, followed by norepinephren and dopamine when people just think about that special other person. These chemicals are what helps us feel excited and fascinates us enough to want to kiss, touch...etc.

But why one particular person over another? Yes, there is that initial attraction, but in a crowd of equals whether it is the beautiful people or the average Janes and Joes, with no one singular person standing out, we would still be drawn to one person over another. Therefore, does love have more to do with emotion and that soul to soul thing? Is it magic? What?

Think about the first time you went gaga over someone. You could have been just a child. Out of the blue, the moon hit your eyes like a bigga pizza pie, to paraphrase a once popular song, and suddenly everyone else faded away. It could have been the gal on the swing in the playground or the boy snapping his gum in study hall, and as you grew up, the guy/gal across the room.

We believe, there is something to be said about our souls and spirits knowing each other better than we do, meeting and engaging in a different dimension, and something even more to be said about the need for one other, the constant yearning to have that significant special other. It is why there are romance readers. It is a way to continuously trigger the chemicals that make us feel so darn chocolate.

Then again, what do we know except that Angelica is addicted to chocolate, and Zi has a secret stash he didn't tell her about.

What do you think, what comes first?



We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL ~ Christmas 2012

STEEL EMBRACE by Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
August 2011


Monday, February 27, 2012

This just in--Author Awards Nominees Announced!

The nominees for the 2011 Annual Author Awards are:

Author of the Year:

Linda Rettstatt
Martha Krieger/Allison Knight
Michael Davis
Julie Eberhart Painter
Linda LaRoque

Novel of the Year:

Kill Fee by Julie Eberhart Painter
Million Dollar Bra by Jennifer Loy
The Devil's Wife by Holly Hunt
Light Switch by Lauren Gallagher/Lori Witt
Whispers Of Innocence by Michael Davis & Candace Morehouse
Scoundrel by Rebecca Goings

Congratulations to all the nominees!
Please join us for our online awards ceremony and annual birthday bash in the Coffeetime Romance chat room, April 10, 2012, 7pm EST

THE POWER OF A KISS by Susan Frances

The snapshot of Princess Diana tilting her head to receive a kiss from Prince Charles on their wedding day before a crowd of spectators as they stood on the balcony of Buckingham Palace still stirs romantic sensations in audiences. Although their marriage ended in divorce, even Prince Charles cannot deny that this single photo will outlive him.

This is the power of a kiss. For romance writers, it’s a moment to build up to, stirring anticipation in the reader’s blood because when partners kiss, it needs to be a spine-tingling, earth quaking, euphoric moment. It’s been portrayed by pent up steam shooting out of the recipients ears like in the Looney Tunes’ animation Bugs Bunny when he’s kissed by the goddess-like rabbit robot. It’s depicted by glasses fogging up like in the film Some Like It Hot when Tony Curtis’ character is kissed by Marilyn Monroe. The sculptor François-Auguste-René Rodin captured the sensuality inherent in a kiss with his nude marble entitled “The Kiss,” and The Crystals encapsulated the heart-fibrillating transaction that happens when two kiss in their song “And Then He Kissed Me” with the words, “So I whispered I love you / And he said he loved me too / And then he kissed me.”

Whether a story is written by a male or a female author, the kiss is a climatic moment in the book that readers are eager to experience vicariously so it needs to incite the imagination. It’s why the vows of marriage are sealed by a kiss. It’s why in Sleeping Beauty, the fairy Merriweather can have a curse lifted by true love’s kiss. It’s a kiss that transforms a frog into a prince in The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm. It’s why Cosmopolitan reporters always ask actresses who’s their best kiss on screen.

The power of a kiss is a lightening-like surge of ecstasy. It’s what readers consciously or subconsciously wait for in a book. Whether it’s a romance, mystery, western, crime thriller, paranormal, or sci-fi fantasy novel, it’s the power of a kiss that moves audiences from liking a story to really liking a story.


Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in eastern Long Island, I always enjoyed writing making several contributions to her high school literary magazine, The Lion’s Pen. Influenced by writers of epic novels including Colleen McCullough and James Clavell, I gravitated to creative writing. After graduating from New York University with a BA in Liberal Arts, I tried her hand at conventional jobs but always returned to creative writing. Since 1998, I has been a freelance writer and have contributed thousands of articles to various e-zines including:,,, Jazz Times, Hybrid Magazine, Books and Authors, and My latest romance novel The King Maker has been published by Champagne Books and can be found on the publisher’s website [].

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Gail flees New York City afor the Adirondacks after witnessing a murder, followed by Special Agent Jason and the hit man. Who will reach her first?


Inside Dagon House, one of the three women Jason didn't know took his arm and led him to a chair, standing over him. Gratefully, he sank onto it, glad to be sitting down inside a house, out of the rain. Between the throbbing in his head and the pain in his arm, he couldn't think straight. He had no idea where he was, though he knew one of the women had brought him here from—what? Some kind of accident? But all three were strangers.

"In case you didn't catch my name, Jason," the woman said, "I'm Anita, and I'm a nurse. We're going to get that jacket off and take a look at that injured left arm of yours."

Even though she was careful removing the jacket, he was forced to clench his teeth against the pain. Anita set a towel on his knees and he watched blood drip onto it.

"Krystal," she said, "please bring me my first aid kit."

"I know where it is," a child's voice said. "I can get it."

"Krystal will take of that," Anita said. "Just what are you doing out of bed?"

"I heard someone knock and I got scared."

"As you can see, everything is all right. Take Rex upstairs with you for company. "

"That man's arm is all bloody, Mom."

"I'm going to fix it. Go back to bed. Now."

"Come on, Rex, " the child called. The brown mixed-breed dog wuffed and followed the dark-haired girl from the room. Jason figured she was about ten. She had her mother's hazel eyes. The blond woman who must be Krystal had already disappeared.

"You have a long gash on your forearm that needs stitches," Anita told him. "I don't know what else might be wrong with the arm, but I don't think any bones are broken."

Krystal returned with the kit, set it on the table beside Anita and opened it.

"I'll pad your arm with gauze to stop the bleeding till we can get you an emergency room.," Anita said.

"No ER." Jason's tone was clipped.

Anita gave him an assessing look. "Do you have any other injuries?"

Involuntarily, Jason's right hand rose to his forehead.

She took a penlight from the kit , bent over and shone it into one eye, then the other. Then she ran her hands over his head, He winced when she touched the left side.

"Some swelling," she said. "So you banged your head in that car wreck. Your pupils are both the same size, so you're okay so far, but you really need an X-ray to be sure you don't—"

"No X-rays. No hospital."

Anita looked at the woman who'd brought him here.

"He has a reason," the woman said.

So she knew him. A blade of fear sliced through Jason. Why didn't he know her? But she was right. There was some reason he couldn't be taken to any hospital. If only he could remember what it was.

Anita looked from her back to Jason. "Since I told you no one asks questions in this house, I'll have to give you both the same courtesy. But I do recommend you see a doctor, and will be glad to drive you to an ER. "

"That's not an option," Jason told her.

"Okay, understood. You both need to get out of those wet clothes." She turned to Krystal. "Why don't you take Gail upstairs and get her into something dry. Once she's set, you could see if there are any men's clothes in those attic trunks." Focusing on Jason, she told him, "I'll stitch you up first. Got to warn you, though. I don't have any local anesthetic, much less any curved needles or sutures. I'll have to sterilize a regular needle and thread for the job."

"Do whatever needs to be done." Now he knew Gail was the name of the woman who brought him here. Why didn't it sound familiar? What the hell was wrong with his mind? And what was this no questions business?

The stitching-up hurt him every bit as much as Anita had warned, plus her moving his arm caused excruciating pain. When she finished and was bandaging up her work, she shook her head. "What is it with men? Wouldn't have bothered me a bit if you'll yelled every time I stuck the needle in. But, no, men like you always have to prove how rugged they are."

Men like him? What did she mean?


Jane Toombs


In honor of my book, The P-town Queen, a romantic comedy coming out with Champagne Books in June, I thought I might write a post on writing funny.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to write this post. My efforts all look something like this: Writing funny is . I agonized over how to write funny. I tried a variety of approaches.

I made lists. Writing funny involves several key ingredients including the following: hyperbole, misdirection, banana peels.

I wrote recipes: Take two quirky characters. Add ridiculous situation. Cook until mixture begins to smoke. Call fire department.

I did a visualization: Imagine yourself surrounded by a flock of pigeons…

Then it hit me like a piano falling from a fifth story window; I have NO IDEA how to write funny. The truth is that in real life I am, at best, mildly amusing. And furthermore, analyzing funny is about as much fun as changing a truck tire while being bombarded by a flock of pigeons.

Here’s the best I could come up with on the subject of funny. It’s a glass-half-empty glass-half-full kind of thing. It’s all about how you see the world. Writers observe the world all the time. Some of them note beauty and grace, some note anguish, some note fright. I note red sneakers with racing stripes. It’s not that I can’t write about sunsets or a women with her face in her hands or dark alleys. It’s just when I write funny I have to see, hear and think funny.

There’s a lot of funny in the world. I collect funny the way some people collect salt and pepper shakers shaped like baby animals. So here’s how you write funny: observe the funny in the world, write it down, add a touch of hyperbole, a pinch of misdirection, and a banana peel.

P-town Queen is coming to Champagne Books in June!

Here’s an EXCERPT. I hope you find it mildly amusing funny.

I went through the door and there, in the corner of the room, was a metal desk and sitting on the desk was the redhead from the pier. I couldn’t have been more surprised if it had been Fat Phil sitting there. My stomach did a loop-di-loop, like I was in the sixth grade and just found out the popular girl had the locker next to mine. I told myself to quit being a dumb ass. I had exactly two cents rubbing together in the pocket of my only pair of pants.

She was talking to the guy from the pier. The younger one that looked like her. She caught me in her gorgeous brown eyes, blinked a few times, and asked if she could help me. “Yeah, yes,” I said. “I’m here about the research. The assistant. Job. Research assistant.”

“Find me an office and they will come,” the guy said.

To which the redhead gave him a look that might have killed him. “And how is it that job applicants magically appear?” she asked him.

“The flyer,” I said. “At Ella’s Place.”

“Flyer at Ella’s Place?” the redhead turned the killer stare at me.

“They weren’t. She didn’t. They were under the counter. I saw. I was. I really need the job.” I took a deep breath. “So if you tell Dr. Silva. I’m available. For an interview.” Jesus, Mary, and Joe, it was lucky that drool didn’t come running out of my mouth.

The guy put a hand on my shoulder and said, real quiet, “She is Dr. Silva,” which really made me feel a the friggin’ idiot.

“Nick Silva? She’s Nick Silva?”

“N-i-k, as in Nicola,” the guy said.

“It’s a mistake. My mistake. I’m mistaken. Sorry.”

“She makes people nervous. But she’s not so tough. I’m her brother, I ought to know. Billy.” He held out his hand.

“I do not make people nervous,” Nik Silva said.

“Ask her about Rusty’s boat.”

Nik sighed. “There is no job. Mr.…?”

And here’s where things got dicey. In giving myself a new identity I forgot to give me a new name. Any self-respecting witness protection program will give you a new name and I sure as hell didn’t want to use the old one. Nik Silva was kind of staring at me again and my pulse rate was up around two hundred, so I spit out the first thing came into my head.

“Parker. Parker Bench.” I wished, right after I said it, that I could have taken it back. I wished I’d have come up with something, anything, else: Jerry Lewis or Phillip Morris or Captain Crunch. Just about anything would have been better than Parker Bench.

Nik raised her eyebrows. “Parker Bench?”

“It’s a family name,” I said, having to come up with some reason, quick, why I had such a dumb moniker.

“Well, like I said, Mr. Bench--”

“Call me Parker,” I said, feeling I might as well get into it. And, to tell the truth, the new name did kind of calm me down a little.

“Like I was saying, Parker. There is no job.”

“Yes, there is,” Billy said.

“No, there isn’t. I don’t have enough money to pay me let alone a research

About me:

I have two romantic comedies coming out with Champagne Books; the P-town Queen in June of this year and Afterglow in January 2013.

When not writing, you can find me hiking, reading, and eating chocolate. I love good wine, good books, and good theater. Most of all, I love really good stories.
You can find me at my website: and on my blog: I’m on twitter @wildwords2.

Monday, February 20, 2012

RITA BAY'S TASTE OF CHAMPAGNE: Born in Ice by Linda LaRoque

Our Taste of Champagne this February is Born in Ice by Linda LaRoque. Born in Ice has a fascinating origin. Linda was inspired to write Born in Ice based on a dream. Years later, Born in Ice, deviating slightly from her dream story, was published by Champagne.

Linda set up her publication celebration blog tour with a twist. She was a guest at ten blogs and posted a short excerpt from Born in Ice at each. Visitors who left comments were entered into a drawing for a Kindle Reader. What an intriguing idea! I had to visit the first blog just to check it out but I got hooked on Born in Ice and visited the others blogs on her tour to read the excerpts. Didn’t win the Kindle, but enjoyed the read.

In Linda’s post-apocalyptic world—Don’t you just LOVE post-apocalyptic worlds?—salvage operator Brock Callahan discovers Zana Forester encased in ice, holding her infant son. Zana awakens to discover that her baby did not survive and that seventy-five years have passed. She must make a new life for herself while searching for her daughter who might have survived. Zana is encouraged to marry and Brock is a willing candidate. He still loves his deceased wife but needs a nanny for his daughter, and Zana is committed to the search for her daughter. With time, however, sparks fly between them but danger threatens Zana and those around her.

Linda does a masterful job of creating a new world and populating it with compelling characters for an all-round great read. Born in Ice is available at Champagne at
Visit Linda at to read more about her and her stories.
Next month, maybe a Scottish historical.

Rita Bay
"Celebrating Romance Across the Ages" with Rita Bay’s Blog
"Into the Lyon's Den" Champagne Books, August, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


For this wonderful day of romance, we compiled a few quotes to help set the mood.


The most precious possession that ever comes to a man in this world is a woman's heart.
~ by Josiah G. Holland ~

There is only one happiness in life: to love and be loved.
~ by George Sand ~

Love is an act of endless forgiveness
A tender look which becomes a habit.
~ by Peter Ustinov ~

Love is a fruit in season at all times,
and within the reach of every hand.
~ by Mother Teresa ~

The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.
~ by Helen Keller ~

The courses of true love never did run smooth.
~ by William Shakespeare ~

But true love is a durable fire,
In the mind ever burning,
Never sick, never old, never dead,
From itself never turning.
~ by Sir Walter Raleigh ~

Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same.
~ by Flavia Weedn ~

Seduce my mind and you can have my body,
Find my soul and I'm yours forever.
~ by Anonymous ~

So dear I love him that with him,
All deaths I could endure.
Without him, live no life.
~ by William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet ~

To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven.
~ by Karen Sunde ~

Love has no other desire but to fulfill itself
But if your love and must needs have desires,
Let these be your desires:
• To melt and be like a running brook
• That sings its melody to the night.
• To know the pain of too much tenderness.
• To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
• And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
• To wake at dawn with a winged heart
• And give thanks for another day of loving;
• To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
• To return home at eventide with gratitude;
• And then to sleep with a prayer
• For the beloved in your heart
• And a song of praise upon your lips.
~ by Gibran Kahlil Gibran ~

Husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it .. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.
~ by The Holy Bible, New International Version Ephesians 5:25-33 ~

Love doesn't make the world go round,
Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.
~ by Elizabeth Browning ~


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL ~ Christmas 2012

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane


Monday, February 13, 2012


Every day romance crosses the transom from literary to reality. And since Valentine's Day is just around the corner while in an economy that urges more thought and less expense, we’d like to share a list of romantic gifts, some can be wrapped and others…well…unwrapped. (eyebrow wiggle moment)

For those physical gifts, you can create a computer generated gift certificate, using a fancy font, and then place the certificate in a box, wrap the box, taking care to make an elaborate bow. (Taking time with the wrapping is a gift within itself.)

1. Make a CD with his/her favorite love songs.
2. Create a handmade book of poetry; search the Internet for love poems. (Errr, just don’t pass them off as your own.)
3. If you are a poet, write one on special paper and frame it. You could even translate it into a romantic language such as French or Italian, and frame that one. (Have a translation on hand.)
4. A handmade box of chocolate candy. (Craft stores sell molds and molding chocolate.)
5. A special photo of the two of you framed.
6. A scrap book of your life together, or of special memories.
7. Basically, anything hand-crafted will melt a heart, for it means you took the time to put it together, thinking of the person you love while doing so. Ideas: Scented candles, scented soap, knitted hat and scarf, jewelry just to name a few.
8. A memory jar. (Any jar with a lid and a bow around the neck. Write your favorite memories that you share on bits of colored paper and put them in the jar)
9. Tickets to a either a high school or local theater play, a romantic one would be best, i.e. South Pacific, Romeo and Juliet…. (The tickets are often very inexpensive)
10. A collage of pictures that include all your favorite places as well as places you dream of visiting together, of course, include a few smiling photos of the two of you.
11. Turn your bathroom into a romantic spa complete with candles, soft music, bubbles and a willing attendant (YOU) to provide a chilled drink and tasty treats.
12. Declare that your partner will be King/Queen for the day, and do whatever they wish, maybe starting with breakfast in bed.
13. Invent a meal, cook it and name it after your partner.
14. Create a shadow-box using mementoes of all the things you’ve done together. (Example: Ticket stubs, seashells, a pressed flower, a program, cards….)
15. Recreate your first date, or your favorite date.
16. Give your partner a pedicure and foot rub.
17. Offer a back rub and full-body massage.
18. Write an old-fashioned love letter, be lavish, dramatic and flowery. Use fancy paper and script.
19. Create a website that is all about your relationship.
20. Using a pocket calendar, write a personal message or a love quote for each day of the year.


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at with blog in the subject line and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL coming soon

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane

THE FABLE OF SIN-SIN CINDERELLA Series (monthly piece) piece)
Dawn's Reading Nook (Thursday's piece)

Sunday, February 12, 2012


An excerpt from AFTER THE MIST by Cathy Coburn and Duaine Neill, an exciting new writing team. Enjoy!


Mike Reynolds always prided himself on being in complete control, and then his world toppled into the unfamiliar. Disturbing dreams plagued him, leaving helplessness in its wake and his control slipping away.

Though adventurous and fearless the young and petite Maggie O'Reilly doesn't recognize the devastating consequences of staring unswervingly into the black piercing eyes of absolute malevolence.

Together, the two, team with five others to forge ahead on a perilous mission that becomes a dire adventure beyond anything they could have foreseen or imagined.

They find themselves in direct confrontation between life and death, love and something else, an unlikely place for evil to be hiding or should we say, to be waiting.


Mike Reynolds found himself hurrying up the side of a cliff, with no clear sense of where he was going, or how he’d come to be in a tropical environment.

His nerves surged with a sense of urgency mixed with fear. Was he running away from something or running toward something? He wasn’t sure; he only knew he had to keep going up.

He stopped for a moment to listen to the almost deafening roar surrounding him. “A waterfall. I’m by a waterfall,” he said aloud. The dense foliage obscured his view, but he forged ahead following the sound. Shoving aside the overhanging branches, he broke out into a clearing. He gazed upward. Two men fought, dangerously close to the edge of the cliff-side shelf.

Is that where I’m going? Am I going there to intervene? Mike pondered, watching the men for a moment, discomposed, a bit dazed and confused.

I don’t recognize either of those men. Do I?…Wait, they do look familiar… Don’t they?…I’m not sure.

Mike’s sense of urgency resurfaced, and he once again blindly rushed up the face of the cliff driven by a force so powerful that any conscious thoughts he had left were eclipsing rapidly.

As he pushed the foliage aside he caught a glimpse of his right hand. “Blood! My hand’s covered in blood. Is this my blood? Have I hit my head and that’s why I don’t remember anything?” Mike stopped abruptly; he looked at his bloody hand with earnest. He took his left hand and ran it through his hair, then pulled it back for inspection.

“No blood. So, where did the blood come from? I don’t appear to be bleeding.” Doesn’t matter…must hurry.

Cathy Coburn and Duaine Neill

After the Mist: February 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012


“What is it about the past that fascinates you so?” I get that question all the time. You see, I’ve loved history since I was a little girl; reading about times long past was like stepping into a different world. It wasn’t a difficult choice when I decided to start writing to choose telling a story set in olden days. What surprised me is that it turned out to be set in the Old West of the Arizona Territory.

You see, I was never a big Western fan. But the tales of people who came from all over the world to the seemingly desolate desert around Bisbee, Tombstone, and Tucson piqued my interest. Years of happily digging through the Arizona Historical Society archives and Bisbee Mining Museum’s records paid off. The discovery of the large number of immigrants from Wales fueled my imagination.

The result is my first novel, Dragon & Hawk, what one of my Welsh friends calls a “Welsh-tern”—a Welsh Western. The adventures of the Jones brothers—Dylan, Evan, and Huw—take you into the dusty mining towns of Bisbee and Tombstone, when the West is at its wildest. Evan Jones is a dreamer with a quick smile and decidedly quicker temper—hence his totem, his animal spirit guide is the Red Dragon of his native land. It is Evan who takes charge of getting his family out of the dangerous mining business, by hook or by crook. But when disaster strikes, it is a mysterious native healer—a Mexican mystic known as a curandera—who actually achieves that feat for them.

Reyna Montoya Svenson is a widow known to many as simply “The Señora” or “La Dama”—literally translated as The Lady. Her skill saves Evan and Huw and her generosity frees them from the mine. She is wise and strong and sees far more than the average person—her totem is the Red-tailed Hawk of the desert. She falls in love with Evan, but his prejudice and bigotry drives her away.

Evan must change his thinking on many levels and comes to realize he has fallen in love with the beautiful Mexican-Mayan widow. He goes on a quest to find her, earning the hatred of a vicious outlaw along the way. Vengeance is as brutal as the heat of the desert sun, and Evan must deal with the consequences of his previously thoughtless actions. Tragedy forces him to realize how valuable love and family truly are.

Dragon & Hawk—now available in both ebook and print formats from Champagne Books—is Book One of a trilogy following the Jones family saga from 1882 through 1904. Book Two, Out of Forgotten Ashes, is due to be released by Champagne in April 2012. My next post will give you a taste of what’s to come…

Jude Johnson
website: http:jude-johnson,com

Thursday, February 9, 2012

THE COMFORT ZONE by Michael Davis

For must humans, there’s a place they go to relax, exchange some good words, or just because they feel comfortable there. For example, there’s a little hardware store near my house were all the local males come, like moths to a light. When I was six, it was Charlie’s Shack. My aunts and cousins would take me there to get a moon pie and an RC cola, and a can of snuff for my grandmother. I think most people have a comfort zone that makes them feel welcome and cozy inside.

The other day, I had an epiphany that all my romantic suspense novels possess one common property – they have a comfort zone where the characters return. For example, in FORGOTTEN CHILDREN, it’s a Bar and Grill named Tally’s. The hero and heroine spend a lot of time socializing there, especially on Goobers night every Thursday. In BLIND CONSENT, the hero focused on May’s Emporium, an old country store where the heroine worked. In TAINTED HERO, the hero spent a lot of time in ice cream parlors because he loved to watch the women in his life enjoy sweets. In VEIL OF DECEPTION, it was Ruth’s Place; a convenience store out in the middle of nowhere. In this case, it was an actual place where all the local’s hang out for coffee and a cathead biscuit.

I didn’t notice this pattern in my stories until a reader asked me, “Is there any common theme in the way you create scenes.” Then I realized there is; it’s the use of a comfort zone for the characters. Is that wrong? I don’t think so. As I mentioned earlier, most people have some comfort zone or zones in their lives where they go to get away. Come to think about it, those are the scenes I like writing the most. Maybe it’s just a “me” thing. Perhaps because I relate to gathering holes in my world, it’s just my comfort zone. I’ll have to see if the trend continues in my future stories.

Till next time, be safe.

Big Mike

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year, (2008 and 2009)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



“It’s a hearts and bows and a kitten snuggling kind of day,” Dona
Penza Tattle decrees as she waltzes into the office wearing her
Valentine’s Day finery, including heart shaped candy box poised like a
corsage on her wrist.

Looking as if about to attend a wedding, top hat and tails included,
Wrye proclaims, “It is also a Love of Literature Leap day, m’esteemed
colleague. Shall we?”

Tattle takes his arm and the two jump.

“Is this a war zone?” Tattle contemplates as she watches Raith Malloy,
a hunky yuuummmmy cop, and Willow DeVane, an easy on the libido
sizzling lawyer battle it out in front of the Dexter County courthouse.

“Nada, m’inquisitive comrade. We’re in the contemporary romance
KAGE, and these two strong willed adversaries can’t stop the
fireworks every time their sexy selves run into each other, and we’re
not just talking about the constant quarreling but the smoldering
attraction, and the com-n-git-me body language.” Wrye’s brows
adopt a wiggle dance. “Hubba bubba!”

“I see…” Tattle says dragging the word out as she pops a cream filled
chocolate into her mouth. “They are both too strong-willed for their
own good.”

Wrye attempts to snare a candy while the box is still open, but Tattle
smacks the top shut nearly catching his fingers. He frowns,
remembers his own stash of candy kisses and contentedly peruses the
story. “But like frothy cream the truth rises to the surface, they are
obviously smitten with each other, can’t help it, the chemistry is as
volatile as plutonium spontaneously ignited.”

“Yup, yup, yup, and just as hotly explosive,” Tattle agrees. “The
attraction becomes even more obvious after Raith insists she take
self-defense training after one of her clients attacks her. Of course,
he does the training, and they both end up steamy and not just from
the work-out.”

Wyre produces a mischievous chuckle and takes a poetic
Shakespearean stance. “Over hill, over dale, through bush, through
briar…from the training mat to lover’s ultimate flames and fire.”


“In other words, they whisk each other off to bed.”

“Ahhh, true love awakens.”

“Sadly they refuse to see it; they both have wounded hearts and try
to keep everything just physical…just physical, ma’am.”

While adjusting Wrye’s boutonniere, Tattle adds a lollipop heart to his
lapel, and a chocolate from her own little box in retribution for her
earlier selfishness. “However, they can’t keep their emotions out of
the mix especially when he realizes Willow has a stalker, and that her
very life was in danger.”

“So can Willow overcome her own battered heart to reveal her love
and accept his? Or will the stalker have his way, and rather than
happily ever-after, love gives way to tragedy? Only Wrye, Tattle and
every tenacious reader will know!

With a whoosh and shimmer the two vanish then reappear in the
historical (Champagne Books) THIRD TIME’S A CHARM by STACEY

“It’s wild. It’s dusty. It’s rural. It’s the untamed Colorado Territory,
and just where widow Sabra Bennett is traveling with a trio of males,
fifteen-year-old Rusty Paladin, a daring and gallant young lad who
eagerly befriends her. There is also the whiskey guzzling Irishman,
Noah Tucker, who reminds her of a place she no longer wishes to visit,
and the wealthy rancher Jason Lord, who has that look of a safe

Wrye flicks out the lollipop from his lapel and chomps down on it,
crackles interspersing his speech, “Still, it’s Noah who sends her heart
a fluttering.”

“Yessss,” Tattle says with that lisp of dispute in her tone, “but Jason is
looking for a wife, offers materialistic stability and a safe, tranquil life,
or so she thinks.”

Wrye lifts his hands as if balancing fragile items, lifting one higher for
a second, and then the other. “Heat and flames…warmth and calm....
Ahh, an impossible choice, poor dear.”

Having devoured her own Valentine treats, Tattle deftly worms a bit of
candy from Wrye’s pocket and indulges. “Meanwhile, Noah, having
been a carefree seaman is used to enjoying a variety of women from
port to port and sees Sabra as a suitable mistress until he begins to
realize she has secrets.”

“Secrets indeed!” Wrye proclaims in an excited tone, striking a match
against his booted heel and lighting a candle as if shedding
illumination on said secret. “Sabra had run from society into this
rough and tough wilderness for a reason, and she is not about to
divulge that reason to anyone.”

“I know…I know…she fears being caught!” Tattle exclaims with an Iknow-
something-you-don’t-know dance.

“Caught? Is she a criminal? A wayward ward? A victim? What?
How? Who? Why?”

“Let’s find out.” With an impish grin, Tattle winks at y’all as they
continue to read, closing the book cover behind them.join us next month when we snoop around CC KAUFMAN’s THE INVITATION, and THE DRAGON HOUSE SERIES, BOOK 1, TAKEN

Happy Valentine’s Month! May your month brim with love, flowers and all your hearts’ desires, as well as many CBG books!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq.
and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by
Angelica Hart and Zi


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi
CHRISTMAS EVE...VIL ~ Christmas 2012

Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ALL ABOUT VILLAINS ~ KILL FEE by Julie Eberhart Painter

After all there is something utterly captivating about those we love to hate. Just like never knowing when a nasty little scoundrel will appear in a novel, you'll never know when a villain will appear here...but keep watching...they are all around us...maybe even right behind you! Angelica Hart and Zi ~

In the form of excerpts, we’d like to introduce you to Ishmael Merlin Dickey, poet and poser from KILL FEE by Julie Eberhart Painter.

Ishmael hung over, under suspicion for murder and in jail.

“Mr. Martin, Cole Martin, the lawyer? He there?”

“Mr. Martin, Cole Martin, the lawyer?”

“Yes, he’s here, but—”

“ I need to talk to him.”

“Ishmael?” Penny asked and when he said nothing, she extended the phone to Cole, who took it, puzzled

“Cole Martin, here. What can I—”

“This is Ishmael Merlin Dickey. Ms. Olsen mentioned that you were an attorney. I'm in trouble, man. The cops want to fry me for that agent's murder. I'm bein' held down here for questioning, and I got a head on me… and I need a lawyer… of course, when I heard you were coming’ here I thought of

“Who in the hell is this, did you say?”

“Ishmael Merlin Dickey, the environmentalist poet. They don't like me, man. Get down here and bring me a gallon a tomato juice.”

“Mr. Dickey, what makes you think I would want anything to do with you? And where is here. I’m not licensed to practice wherever here is.”

“Support your local writer. You're from Florida; I'm from Florida.” Ishmael slurred his words. “We're stuck in Georgia…”

Cole watched Penny take the ice bucket to the bathroom to rinse it out before heading to the ice machine down the hall. He turned from the phone, shaking his head, felt himself weakening, and reached for his jacket.

“I can't actually take your case, Mr. Dickey. I'm a Probate Estate Administrator, but I will come down to the jail while the police question you. Do you have anything that would constitute a retainer? I'll get someone I know here in town to talk with you tomorrow. He’ll do a good job for you if I asked.”

“The cops said that they would release a dollar for me to give to you as a retainer. I'm here on a drunk and disorderly.”

When Penny came back with the ice, Cole said, “How do I get myself into these things? Where’s the jail in this town?”

Penny pinched Cole’s cheek. “You're one of the good guys, that's how. Ask at the desk for the nearest jail.”

Later Ishmael is “the Man who came to dinner”

True to type, Ishmael told his lawyer he was too upset to write, and that he needed a change of scenery. He decided to honor Penny with a visitation and thank his benefactors in person for their help. Of course, this required him to cross state lines illegally. He had been arraigned in Georgia. When he voiced this to his lawyer, Buff was adamant.

“You can’t. You’ll jeopardize your case. Anyway would they really welcome you?”

“Yeah, they'll be glad to have me. I'm gonna be famous some day. They can tell everybody that Ishmael Merlin Dickey slept here, or there—like Washington.” He chuckled.

Buff shook his head at the display of the massive ego. “I’m never sure when you’re kidding, Dickey.”

And so, the-soon-to-be-famous poet took off for Summerville to see his old friends.

Penny couldn't believe her eyes when she opened the door that blistering Wednesday and saw the smiling black Ishmael, dreadlocks swinging, suitcase in hand, standing on her porch.

“Mr. Dickey, whatever are you—?”

“Hey, Ms. Penny. Thought I'd pay y'all a visit, so to speak. I wanna thank your boyfriend personally for all he's done for me. Is he home?” Ishmael peeked beyond the door into the darkened room, looking for Cole.

“He's at the office today. I'll tell him you stopped by.”

“That's okay,” he said cheerily stepping over the threshold, “I'll wait here and tell him myself. Man, it's hot. Ya got any iced tea?”

Before Penny could stop him, he was through the door and making himself at home.

“Who's that? Mr. Arnold?” Bilgewater was still waiting for Mr. Arnold, his natural father.

“What the…” Ishmael leaped from the chair he'd just claimed and dashed toward the noise in the kitchen. Penny followed as fast as her short legs would take her, her hair curling under the hairspray streamed perspiration.

“That's my pet mynah bird, Bilgewater.” Penny explained, grabbing the teakettle before Ishmael could do it. She filled it half-full, and peeked at her watch, 3:35 p.m. The housekeeper would be back in thirty minutes. Cole wouldn't arrive until close to six. She'd have to entertain the pushy poet and accused murderer until Cole could rescue the situation.

“So, you been writin' anything new for the magazine?” he asked, folding up his angular body and tucking it around one of the kitchen chairs.

“No, I've had a hard time concentrating.”

“Yeah, me too. I'm startin' to worry. I was pretty mad when Ms. Kern wrote those nasty comments all over my manuscript. She didn't like my stuff. She laughed at the idea that I fancied myself another Derek Walcott. I guess I touched some things in her room while I was trying to make my point. The police are gonna nail my black ass to the wall if they can.”

A ripple of fear sped up Penny's spine, “How long were you with her?” Cole had said that Ishmael claimed she was dead when he arrived for the interview.

“Oh, she had a written critique just waiting for me. I had to thumb through all those damn folders to find it. I wasn't gonna leave without it. It's always the last place ya look, huh?” He laughed under his breath. “Ya know what I don't understand, there were lots of fingerprints in that room. Why me, why mine?”

“Do you think the police homed in on you because you're black?” Penny was very uncomfortable talking race with someone so different. She'd never been a bigot, but she didn't know many black people, and she feared offending him.

Ishmael, however, seemed perfectly comfortable. “I don't know, I didn't used to think so, but now, I wonder. I am originally from the ghetto—can't ya tell? He didn't wait for an answer. “Y'all know the ghetto, where old Chevies go to die.”

Penny couldn't help laughing. It seemed a perfect description.

“Too sad. This whole Kern thing doesn't make sense, but they sure were in a hurry to nail me.”

“It does look that way.”

“There's been so much new evidence . . . about Jessie’s checkered past . . . I can't understand why they are going ahead with this. Did Mr. Martin tell you, she was four months’ pregnant?”

Penny almost dropped the pitcher of tea. She set it down at the table. “Jessie was pregnant?”

“Yeah, ain't that a kick? She wasn't married, either. Had a roommate. Come on cops, let's do some thinking here.”

“That certainly puts a new perspective on the case,” Penny said. “Where did you hear that?”

“Mister Blackburn said it was in the autopsy report. She was smacked around, hit from pillar to post, died of a blow to the back of the head, but her stomach wasn't touched . . . not a mark.”

“The father. You think the father murdered her?”

“It makes sense.” Ishmael concluded, folding his arms across his flat stomach.

They sat drinking their tea, Penny's mind racing. Who could be the father of Jessie's baby? The police had all of New York to choose from. She couldn't wait to ask Cole if he knew about the autopsy report.

“So, what does the bird say?” Ishmael asked.

“Bilgie? His vocabulary is quite broad.”

“Really? Would he talk to me?”

“Probably. Try it. I'm going to run upstairs a minute.

“Take your time, Bilgie and I will be fine, won't we boy?”

“Do what!” squawked the bird.

“Mum, I see what you mean.” He laughed and reached into his briefcase to take out a small book. Penny left the room.

Mr. Dickey looked at the bird. “I know about you. Mr. Ogden Nash once said: ‘The grackle's voice is less than mellow, His heart is black, his eye is yellow. He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words…’ ”

“You got me.”

“Now Bilgie, let's get down to cases.” Dickey began to recite aloud from his favorite poet, Edgar Allan Poe.

When Penny came back into the room a few minutes later, she saw Ishmael looking like the proud teacher of a favorite student. He lifted his hand as if he were conducting a full orchestra and said, “Bilgie?”

Bilgie leaned onto his left foot and said, “Quote the Raven, 'Nevermore.' ”

“How about that, Penny? Today Poe tomorrow Shakespeare!”

“I'm impressed.”

Ishmael had made himself completely at home.

An hour later when Cole came into the kitchen, Penny watched, amused as his jaw dropped.

He quickly recovered his composure. “Well, Mr. Dickey, I presume. What are you doing out-of-state?”

“Nothing to worry about. The presumption is all mine.”

Penny believed that.

“Your girlfriend, here, and I were discussing the case.”


“Yeah, she didn't know the victim was pregnant.”

“I just learned that when I talked to Buff this afternoon. He says the investigation is turning up a lot of new evidence. Not only was she pregnant, but she'd had . . . relations . . . within the last twenty-four hours of her life. DNA should prove your innocence. You may be exonerated soon.” Cole kissed Penny on the forehead.

“Too late smart. What a farce. I should sue 'em.”

“They were in a hurry, all right. They're looking for the father of the victim's child now. They may be able to do a DNA match. That would be helpful. All the blood at the scene was the victim's.”

“You know, Cole, something that has always bothered me?”

“What, Pen?” Cole poured iced tea, dropping the ice cubes into the glass one at a time.

“Ishmael says when he was with her—”

“I wasn't with her, exactly. I had an appointment with her but I was late, and when I got there—”

“She was wearing a kimono,” Penny continued.


“I remember that, too. If she was expecting Ishmael and Mary Perkins why wasn't she dressed?

“That's right,” Ishmael chimed in, “If she was expecting Mary, she'd have been dressed. Mary's name was on her schedule there on the desk.”

“She might have overslept between appointments.”

Ishmael shook his head, “But she only had a half hour of down time between me and Mary. Not enough to get undressed, have a nap and get redressed. It sounds like she had an assignation planned.”

“An assignation? Ishmael, that's so archaic,” Cole said.

“So she was meetin' a lover, plannin' a quickie.”

“It makes sense,” Penny agreed.

“Wonder who she was bangin'? The father? The lover? Any-old-body?”

Before Ishmael could get any more graphic, Cole interrupted, “Will you be staying for supper?”

“Thanks, man, I'd love to.”

Penny cringed, The Man Who Came to Dinner.

After dinner, Ishmael walked into the living room, picked up the TV remote from the coffee table and plunked himself down in Penny's chair. “Y'all ever watch Jeopardy? It's my favorite show.”

Penny mouthed the words, “Get him out of here.”

Cole quickly walked to his large winged recliner and sat on the edge of the seat. “So, where are you staying tonight, Ishmael?”

“Well, I'm low on money, the trial and all. I was hoping y'all would let me stay around here a few days.”

Penny's heart sank.

Cole tried to look stern. “I would think you'd rather be in a hotel where you’d have more privacy.”

“This is perfect, man.” Ishmael put his feet on Penny's ottoman and leaned back. “Just perfect.”

Cole glowered, pulling himself up to his full, five-feet seven. “Mr. Dickey, by all means stay the night, but please find somewhere else to stay tomorrow.”

“Okay, okay, I'll think of something. I guess I could camp on the beach or something.”

“How about your own place in Atlanta? It’s in Georgia where you’re supposed to be. Does the court know about your crossing the state line?” Penny asked “Doesn’t this make us guilty of harboring a fugitive?”

“Yeah, well, if the case breaks, maybe I'll leave you two and go back to see Mr. Blackburn tomorrow.”

“Great idea!” Cole said resisting the urge to applaud.

Penny breathed a tentative sigh of relief. “If you gentlemen will excuse me, I'm tired. I have a good book. I'm going upstairs.” She had made up her mind that she was not going to admit defeat, but the interloper had stolen her chair.


Julie Eberhart Painter