Saturday, March 25, 2017

Savvy Saturday: My First Mystery Novel by Ron D. Voigts

“That was then, and this is now.”
My first mystery novel
By Ron D. Voigts

A long, long time ago (circa 2000), I decided to write a mystery. I’d been a fan of the genre for most of my life. All I needed to do was create a detective, kill someone, and throw in a few clues. How hard could it be? Agatha Christie, move over.

My vision was a dreary old house in the country with a woman, home from college, finding a dead body. I wrote the early chapters and pitched them to my writer’s critique groups. One thing came to light quickly. The actions by the main character were a much younger person than the age I assigned. By the time I adjusted her age to her actions, she had become a thirteen-year-old tomboy who wore bib overalls and a stocking cap pulled tight around her ears. She had moxie, could be brash, and told it like it was. Penelope was born.

I tossed in a bunch of off-the-wall characters—a wild, crazy gypsy, a gangster uncle on the lam from the mob, a Broadway actress who’s her own biggest fan, a creepy cousin, a mystery woman named Teal, and some quirky parents. They get snowed in during a celebration of Penelope’s birthday. Someone is murdered, and it takes Penelope to figure it out.

I shopped the book around for an agent because that was the way it was done back then. I had a few nibbles but mostly rejections. Finally, I found Parkeast Literary who liked the story and had faith in my work. A few more major rewrites came, and the book was sent out to nearly every publisher in the industry. We had some interest here and there but no takers. Finally in 2011, by agreement, I self-published Penelope and The Birthday Curse. Only took ten-plus years to get there.

Three more middle-grade mysteries in the “A Penelope Mystery” series followed. Then I switched gears and began writing for the “big kids.” One novel that followed told a story of a rich northerner who travels to rural North Carolina and gets involved with moonshiners, good-ole-boy politics, and killers. Another book covered a murder in a remote village in the Appalachian Mountains, and the main suspect is a vampire. Then I found my love….writing paranormal mysteries.

In 2014, my literary agent found a home for my “A Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery” series with Champagne Books Group. Book 2 came out this past month. The Fortune Teller’s Secret arrived March 6, and I am so excited about it. I still write a bit off-the-wall. This eccentric cast includes a Goth witch, a psycho psychic, a belly dancer, a bad-ass sheriff, a crafty carnival manager, a waist-high sideshow barker, and a sleazy school teacher. A dead body is found aboard the Ferris wheel at the fall carnival. Cavendish Brown, the editor of the town newspaper, matches wits with a ghost, a killer and a bunch of kooky carnival characters to solve this Who-Done-It.

It took a long time and self-belief since that first book. And I’d do it again.

About the Author

Originally from the Midwest, Ron D. Voigts now calls North Carolina home where he and his wife have a home off the Neuse River. Ideas for his stories comes from the rural areas where he has lived, places he has visited, his love of the paranormal, and an overactive imagination. Ron considers his writing to be a literary fusion of mystery, thriller, paranormal, and any genre that suits the moment. When not plunking out a novel at the keyboard, he spends his time sharpening his culinary skills, watching gritty movies, and eating cookies with chocolate chips.

Author Website

Social Media (@RonDVoigts)

Monday, March 20, 2017

New Release: Fallen

By Andrea Cooper
Paranormal Romance
Champagne Bookstore:

Succubus Adeline lost her powers. The crystal that all her kind crave has attached itself to her and rendered her powerless. Unless she finds a way to remove it, she’ll transform into a human--a fate worse than death.

Jack is running from vamps and weres. They want his hidden doppelgänger talents to locate a stone that enables weres to transform at will, but he just wants to be left alone. Now he has a bounty hunter after him.

Adeline is determined to get the bounty on Jack so she can pay for the answer to remove the bracelet. She soon discovers his secret. The tables are turned on the succubus, and she finds herself the one who is at the mercy of desire.

In a race against time, vampires, and weres, Adeline and Jack travel from Boston to Greece to New Orleans to stay ahead of the hunters.

When Jack confronts a dangerous voodoo queen alone, Adeline learns that love is sacrifice. But will they both survive the lesson?

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Savvy Saturday: My First Published Book with Shiela Stewart

Its hard to believe its been 11 years since I published my very first book. The title was Kidnapped and the story started with a simple line.

”Well wasn’t this a fine predicament she’d gotten herself into now, and won’t dear old daddy be thrilled when he finds out his only child was being held captive by a bunch of thugs.”

That line popped into my head and the rest of the story just flowed after that. I couldn’t write fast enough. Yes, write. That was before I knew how to use a computer. I hand wrote all my books. To this day, I still have a box of hand written manuscripts in my storage room. Only two of the twenty have been published.

During writing Kidnapped my hubby bought me a computer and taught me how to use it. I started putting my written novel on the computer. Kidnapped, though it sounds series, and it is, but mostly it was a fun novel. Before it was changed, but I’ll get to that.

I love being sarcastically funny as does my hubby, so of course, that was how I wrote Kidnapped. The female, Elizabeth, didn’t take the kidnapping series which pissed her captors off. Mac needed money to save his farm and was convinced to kidnapped to kidnap a famous actors daughter for money. All he had to do was hold her for a few days and then release her and get his money. Simple, right? Not! Elizabeth is not about to sit by and cry, begging her captors to let her go. Nope, she’s a feisty chick who does everything in her power to break free. She makes Mac’s life a living hell. She makes fun of him in any way possible. Really, who could take a captor series when he’s wearing a Bart Simpson mask.

Writing Kidnapped was so much fun I often found myself giggling while typing.

I got up the nerve to submit it to a publisher on line, and guess what? It was rejected. But….the publisher told me how to fix it up and asked me to resubmit it. I bought a bunch of grammar books and learned all I could about writing. It took months and when I sent it back to her, she sent it back saying I was on the right track but it needed a bit more cleaning. So back to the drawing board I went.

Two weeks late I sent it back in. I dreaded seeing her email in my box because I was sure she would tell me it needed more work. To my utter surprise, she accepted it. I think the neighbors heard my cheer. It was such a euphoric feeling. Someone thought I was good enough, my story was good enough. It still needed polishing, and that was not an easy thing to do, especially when she wanted me to make it ore series and to change the beginning. I was mad, but what could I do. I knew nothing about publishing so I went along with it and rewrote a good portion of it. 

I wasn’t happy, but I still put my heart into it. The first time I saw my cover I again felt so giddy. A book, with my name on it, was going to be out in the world for everyone to read. It was a huge accomplishment for me, given I only had a grade nine education. I knew nothing about ebooks and got a crash course on it. Ebooks were still early in its development. I did the chat circuit and answered countless interview questions. Then my publisher submitted it to The Romantic Times Review Magazine. I got a three out of five rating. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. It was after all in one of the biggest romantic magazine in publication. Sales were great. I bravely decided to do a book signing at a local book store and did an interview for a local TV station. So many firsts and my head was spinning. To my utter surprise and joy, my book was the number one seller for three weeks in a row. Not a bad way to start a career in writing.

Since then, I have published 17 books. Quite and accomplishment for a high school drop out. Not all my books are still in publication, but I hope at some point they will be again.

I’m a true believer that dreams can come true if you work hard enough to make them a reality.

About Shiela:

Shiela Stewart has been writing for the better part of her life, pouring her heart out in words, living a fantasy through the characters she creates. It has always been a dream of her to have her work published, a dream she has finally seen come to life.

When not writing, Shiela likes to spend time with her husband, best friend and love of her life. Together they have three grown children and one granddaughter.

Shiela has a deep affection for animals which is evident in the seven cats, one dog, fourteen fish and one turtle.

Places to find me.


Places to purchase my Darkness series:

Monday, March 13, 2017

Sneak Peek #2 - Murder on the Disorientated Express

~Coming April 3rd, 2017~

I was up early the next morning. There’s something catchy about lying on rough pine planks being shaken like a martini by the jerky movement of the train, which usually managed violence in all directions. When I get up I prefer to be gently stirred. I headed for the dining car where I discovered Bottles assisting with the morning meals.

“Don’t you ever sleep?”

“Waste of time. Figure I don’t have too much of that left.” He was doing strange things to eggs behind the bar. He had a steaming pan, and a bubbling yellow mixture. It was the spices I wasn’t certain about: cinnamon, chunks of dark chocolate, some nuts, peppers, and large unidentifiable lumps that reminded me of frogs. “Want a heaping plate of today’s special?”

“No, thanks. I’ll have the oatmeal and scalded goat’s milk. With the marmalade topping and just a dab of the whipped cream. And thick black coffee.” I settled into a booth. All that was missing to make the hour complete was the latest morning paper, and maybe Bertha chewing me out for some imaginary sin. I relaxed and let the motion of the train lull me.

“Here you go.” Bottles set a heaping platter down in front of me. “I added a bit of the special as a treat.”

I winced. He didn’t leave. I glanced up with a raised eyebrow. “You forgot the coffee.”

“It’s coming, brewing it down to a sludge. Have you checked for the key lately?” he said.

“What key?”

“The spare key to the compartment where you have Winston J. Blabb under confinement.”

“Oh that key.” I patted my jacket. “It’s safe inside my inner pocket.”

“Have you checked your pocket lately?”

Some gremlins have enough nerve for a trainload of fools. “Of course I have.” I patted my jacket again. Then I fished inside. Then I checked all my pockets. The key was missing. “Well, it must have fallen out yesterday when we were having all that fun. It’s not important. Trixibelle also has a key.”

“Looks to me as though that pocket you checked was self-sealing. How could the key have fallen out?”

I glared at him. “I don’t know.”

Bottles leaned over and lowered his voice. “Think back, was there any time in the last day or two when a person of some interest in the murder case had an opportunity to remove that key?”

We locked gazes. I knew what he was getting at. Dame Suzanne had escorted me from the bar car that night and I woke up a bit out of sorts. But why would she take the key if she was innocent?

“I see the wheels are turning,” he said.

“Is Blabb still safe inside?”

“Yes. I feed him regularly. He’s in there. For now.”

I pushed my breakfast to one side. “I guess I should go have a chat with her.” I’d been avoiding the lanky hobgoblin with the wandering hands and a terrible taste in beverages.

“Or, we could simply keep a close eye on the pair of them until we get to the Free Wet Coast.”

“Okay, buster. Who do you work for?” I stared at him, and then glanced around the car. There was no one within ear.

“Who, me?” said the gremlin. He straightened up, grinned, and went back to burning things at the bar.
~To Be Continued~

Murder On The Disoriented Express

A reluctant Private Eyeball, Randy Aloysius, agrees to accompany an elderly elf and her attractive niece on a relaxing train trip across the continent to the wet coast. They seem harmless enough, so what could go wrong?
Well, there’s the obvious murder of a bent politician, plus a card-playing vampire, a brownie public relations hack, and a grieving widow murder suspect, not to mention other assorted suspicious characters, and someone out of Randy’s past.

Then there is the train itself, which may be in serious need of life support. After all, it does have to cross a prairie filled with woolly mammoths and surmount treacherous mountains passes where nasty things might lurk.

Available for Preorder on the Champagne Bookstore website. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Savvy Saturday: A Lesson on First Edits from Kat Hall

So You Have a First Draft, Now What?

This fantastic list of edits all writers should consider before sending their work off to an agent or publisher.

Once you have a great plot, story line, multidimensional characters, danger, a fast pace, a killer beginning, a middle that doesn’t sag and a striking ending, it’s time to tackle the 5 Reread Program—in which you reread your manuscript five separate times. Sure, it’ll be a lot of work, but “It’ll make an incredible difference when your manuscript gets to the agent or editor.”

Here’s a breakdown of what each read entails. [Regardless of whether you do all five or not, we think these are excellent essentials to be aware of in any manuscript, at any level.]

Read #1: The Content

–Do a “word-count reality check.” Make sure your work falls into its appropriate and requested genre range.

–Get rid of the deadweight. You can probably take 20 percent out of your first manuscript and have it be a better end product. You may cut entire chapters, or just single words. Some common areas to slice: places where you’ve overused research. Areas where your prose is getting preachy. Areas where you dumped backstory, versus sprinkling it in.

–Check your timeline. Make sure everything logically flows.

–Study your point-of-view changes. Ensure that you don’t have too many going on throughout the book.

–Double check your work for technical accuracy—particularly with things like weapons. People in the know will call you out if you get it wrong.

–Check your ‘choreography’. Someone who was shot a moment ago shouldn’t now be behaving as if they weren’t.

Read #2: The Enhancement

–Utilize the power of the senses. Try for at least two in every scene. Visual. Auditory. Smell. Touch. Taste. Sprinkle them in. Enhance as much as you can.

Read #3: The Sentence Level

This read tends to be the toughest—and also tends to be the one that differentiates a real writer. Every single sentence counts.

–Nix or fix ‘the awkward sentence’—those that read wrong for a variety of reasons, including lack of parallel structure, misplaced modifiers, etc.

–Avoid long paragraphs. Thriller readers prefer short bursts versus long graphs. Short = action. People want to see white space.

–Fix point of view slips. That’s incredibly important. An editor or agent will pick that up right away.

–Check for adequate transitions between paragraphs and sentences.

–Avoid names that sound or are spelled too similarly. Some authors will even avoid names that start with the same consonants.

–Generally, avoid using too many adjectives. And, of course, avoid adverbs. As a rule of thumb you should question every adverb.

–Check your metaphors and similes for originality and freshness. If it’s trite, it really works against you.

Read #4: The Little Things

—Maintain a list of your formatting of certain items so that you can keep them consistent throughout your manuscript. E.g., numbers – are you going to write them out or use a numerical reference? Are you going to capitalize a trademarked brand, or use a generic lowercase?

–Make sure your comma usage is consistent. E.g., are you using Oxford commas?

–Check for words you may have unintentionally overused. E.g., Suddenly.

–Check your attribution tags. Don’t doubt the power of ‘said’, the universal tag. ‘Ask’ is OK, too. A lot of people drive themselves crazy trying to think of unique [tags]. You don’t have to.

–Maintain a list of all the proper nouns (people, places, etc.) in your manuscript. Make sure everything is used consistently.

–Fact check. Yes—even in fiction. It’s still very important, especially if you have people, places and times that are in the public domain.

–Paginate your manuscript. Also, it’s always a good idea to include a header or footer with the name of the manuscript and your name.

–Homophones and spelling. Can’t stress enough that certain words may be spelled correctly but are used in the wrong context. Spell checker does not apply in this case. Know the proper spelling for the definition of the words you are using.

Read #5: The Audible Read
Read it out loud—if possible, with an audience. You’ll likely notice disconnects you wouldn’t have by simply reviewing it on screen.

–Watch for repetition. Measure pace.

–Watch for balance and clarity of POV characters. Is it obvious who’s speaking?

About Kat Hall

Executive Assistant and Review Coordinator

Reading has been a passion of mine since I was a young child. Stories transported me to other countries, taught me how people in other parts of the world lived—what they ate, how they dressed, what their flora and fauna was and how it impacted their lives, their culture and how it all differed from mine. Above all, spelling and use of words, punctuation, etc. had to be correct.

I’m medically and legally trained and have worked at various positions, not just in those fields either. Court documents needed to be perfect, and that drive for perfection carries over into my reading of books and manuscripts. Spelling a word correctly, but used in the wrong context creates major havoc.

I started with Champagne Book Group December 2004. I was the first slush pile reader and have been Executive Assistant to the Publisher, Author Liaison and Review Coordinator for many years.

I still read many manuscripts. PitMad has been an excellent venue for finding manuscripts and great authors. As I read, I’m always on the lookout for a gem that stands out, over and above the other stories. The ‘one’ that rocks your mind and senses and won’t let go. Finding great stories and gems makes me happy to bring these stories to light. I want readers to live and feel these stories. I strive to find new authors that titillate the senses with their writing.

I read almost everything. However, zombie apocalypse is not for me. I found I could not read this genre after trying to review a manuscript on this subject. I love romantic suspense/thriller the most. If the book is well written in other genres and has a great story, I don’t mind and enjoy being transported to another world and learning about people, places and things.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Excerpt from Penetrating the Darkness

Penetrating The Darkness
Darkness, 6
By Shiela Stewart
Romantic Suspense
Champagne Books:

A kidnapped child, a young woman in charge of protecting her, a newly created vampire, and a city cast in darkness. Three innocent lives are about to change.


“My name is Dusty Ryder, and I am twenty years old. My parents are Alan and Eleanor Ryder. I have two sisters, Alana and Leah. I’m going to attend MIT to become a biologist.

“My name is Dusty Ryder, and I refuse to give in. I won’t let them win. They will not beat me down. I am stronger than that.”

Yet it was so tempting to give in, to slip into a comatose state, to tuck his mind away to a better place where animals didn’t torture and starve and beat humans, a place with bright sunshine, green grass, and a warm summer breeze...

That was exactly what they wanted.

So he fought to stay sane, to keep even a small portion of himself alive.

He shivered in the cold cell he’d been kept in for months now. No use asking for a blanket. They wanted to make him as uncomfortable as possible so he would eventually break.

He should never have stopped to help the young woman with the broken-down car on the side of the road. But she had been all alone at night, with the nearest city miles away. It would have been wrong of him to drive away. Dusty wished he’d known it had all been a ploy to capture him. That three vampires waited in the trees, ready to jump him. He hadn’t even known such creatures existed.

He knew differently now.

The jingle of keys startled him. As Dusty curled in a ball, tucking himself as tightly to the wall as possible, the door swung open.

“Hello, my boy.”

No, not him. Please, anyone but him.

The door clicked shut. He refused to look up.

“I’m told you’re refusing the blood that is being brought to you.”

Don’t look into his eyes, don’t acknowledge him, and maybe this time he will go away. Yeah, right.

The bed creaked, giving way to the pressure of the body sitting on the end. Dusty inched a little closer to the wall, wishing desperately he could melt into it.

“Have they told you what happens to vampires if they don’t feed?”

He didn’t care. He just wanted him to go away.

“Have you ever seen a drug addict go through withdrawal? It is very similar, only the lack of oxygenated blood in your system causes your mind to go a little crazy. Because the moment you drink a vampire’s blood, it takes over, killing off the human blood that remains in your system. Vampire blood has less oxygen, hence the sickly gray color. As long as you drink the blood, your body is okay, but the instant you cut off the supply, your body goes into a state of frenzy and starts killing off brain cells. And if that weren’t bad enough, your lust for blood grows tenfold encouraging you to do anything to get it.”

Icy fingers grabbed his chin, forcing him to look into cold yellow eyes. “Including ripping open a human to drain it as quickly as possible. Is that what you wish to have happen to you, my boy?”

“I’m not your boy,” Dusty spat. He refused to show the pain he felt when the nails dug into his face.

“Oh, but you are. The instant you drew my blood into your veins you became mine. It has been some time since I was treated to virginal blood. Yours was exactly what I needed to rejuvenate myself after that infidel, Fritz, kept me drugged and locked away. I feel so much stronger now, and I wish you to feel the same way.”

“Go to hell!” My name is Dusty. I’m twenty years old. I’m going to MIT. I’m human, I’m—
“So be it.”

The vampire slammed Dusty’s hand against the wall. A glint of silver blinded him right before a knife pierced his palm. He screamed. His vision blurred and bile rose to sting his throat.

“Now, do you wish to drink, or shall I do the same to the other hand?”

His throat burning, he managed to swallow the vomit threatening to spill. “Go to hell!”

“Have it your way.”

Another knife jammed into Dusty’s other hand, and this time he couldn’t keep it down. Hot vomit spewed from his mouth, and darkness clouded his vision.

The sting of a hand slapping across his face drew him back. “Drink?”

“Please. Why are you doing this to me?”

“Because I can.”

“I won’t give in.” Those long, icy fingers squeezed his throat, and as he looked into the face of his tormentor, the man’s lips parted into a grotesque smile. His free hand lifted, and he twisted the knife in Dusty’s palm.

He screamed, he cried, and he begged. “Okay, okay, please make it stop.”

“I knew you would come around.” The creep released the handle of the blade and pressed a wrist to Dusty’s mouth.

Though Dusty wanted to refuse, something inside, something unfamiliar, pulled at him and made him crave what he couldn’t understand. Looking down at the arm in front of him, alien instinct compelled him to take it. He clamped his teeth into the flesh, and though he wanted to vomit as the skin tore under his teeth, the thirst took over.

His name was Dusty Ryder, and he had given in.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Excerpt from The Fortune Teller's Secret

The Fortune Teller's Secret
A Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery
By Ron D. Voigts
Paranormal Mystery/Suspense
Champagne Books:

A dead man on a Ferris wheel and a cold-case murder take Cavendish Brown into a world of carnival exotics, ghosts, and killers.

From the darkness came a whisper.

“Help me.”

I heard the woman’s voice clearly. Yet everywhere was black. A void. Impenetrable and empty.

“Help me, please.”

Sounds beyond the woman’s plea filled the vacuum. Somewhere a happy tune played on a pipe organ, the music dancing in the wind, a prelude to a circus parade with clowns and acrobats and a dancing bear. Children and adults laughed and cheered. Wonderful scents lingered in the air. Sweet cotton candy and popcorn elicited memories of happy times

Something else filled the atmosphere. The smells of dampness and dirt mingled, forcing back the joy. Decaying leaves and rot stung my nose. I retched at the stench of death.

Disjointed images, fuzzy around the edges, traveled toward me then fell away into nothingness. A farm tractor. A wood rail fence. And a sign, blurred except for the words “GATE MUST BE KEPT CLOSED.”

With the snap, the darkness returned.

In the black, a speck of light grew into an image, taking form and shape. A woman stood in front of me, dressed gaily in a short ruffled pink skirt below a yellow long-sleeve shirt with triangles of black print. Leg warmers like a dancer might wear were bunched around her ankles. A blue ribbon tied in a bow kept back wild, unruly hair.

Her wide blue eyes stared at me, unblinking. Her lips, painted bright red, pursed.

“Help me.”

A dark wet spot appeared in her brown hair on the left side of her head, growing like a stain. Blood trickled from the edge of her ear and to her throat. Her head twisted, and a deep gash formed on its side.

She stretched out her arms as if crucified and fell backward in slow motion, tumbling away, then crashing with a deep thud. Her head struck the earth and the blue ribbon came loose. She twisted at an impossible angle, arms and legs bent like a broken doll.

A man in a denim jacket hovered above her, clutching a rock. He stared at the blood covering his hand. A shiver passed through him. He released the rock, letting it vanish into the shadows that surrounded everything.

Another man with his back toward me sauntered up to the woman and stopped at her feet. He wore a white T-shirt with a cigarette pack rolled into the sleeve. He scratched the back of his head, mussing his hair. “What did you do, Johnny boy?”

“I killed her!” The man in denim fell to his knees.

The one in the T-shirt took a drag on a cigarette and tossed it aside. “I’ll take care of things.”

Shadows swelled around them and eclipsed everything except the woman’s face. Her eyes opened. Her lips parted. The whisper came once more. “Please, help me.”

“No, no.” I wanted to run and flee this place of death, to be away from these evil men. “No.”

Monday, March 6, 2017

New Releases! Come and See!

The Fortune Teller's Secret
A Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery
By Ron D. Voigts
Paranormal Mystery/Suspense
Champagne Books:

The annual carnival comes to Maiden Falls, a small town in the West Virginia Mountains, but everything is not merry. The ghost of a woman appears to Cavendish Brown, a carnival worker lies dead aboard a car on the Ferris wheel, and a bullied teenager plots to kill people at the carnival with a homemade bomb. More complications arise. Cavendish again butts heads with the local sheriff, Clinton Pike. Marbella Wellingway, owner of the newspaper where Cavendish works, receives a visit from the Angel of Death. And a Fortune Teller at the carnival knows something that could forever change Cavendish’s life. With the aid of Jane, a disturbed psychic, and Alexandra, a Goth witch, he must find the killer, help the mystery woman, and risk his life to prevent more deaths.

Book #2 in the Cavendish Brown Paranormal Mystery series brings readers a fast-paced thriller of suspense and the supernatural.

Penetrating The Darkness
Darkness, 6
By Shiela Stewart
Romantic Suspense
Champagne Books:

Amara loves her job caring for Felicity, the child stolen from her parents by the vampire queen. Gifted with more power than a child should possess, Felicity escapes to look for her mother and father, and takes Amara with her. Thrust into a strange, dark world, Amara’s loyalty and caregiving skills will be put to the test.

Dusty hoped to finish college and become a biologist. Until a sadistic vampire kidnapped, tortured, and turned him. When he’s taken out to find his own victim, Dusty’s chance to free himself arrives in the form of a bright white flash, a beautiful young blonde, and a small child with the ability to incinerate anything and anyone with merely a thought. As the three work together to find Felicity’s parents, Dusty and Amara discover a deep affection for each other.

Can their budding relationship survive the power struggle between warring vampire factions?

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Century Run by Michael W. Davis Review from LASR

Century Run by Michael W. Davis

Century Run by Michael W. Davis
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (168 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer
Losing his family to an alien invasion was the single most horrific thing in young Lex’s life. Joining Omni Corps, an elite fighting force with technology that allows the soldiers to live indefinitely, gives Lex and his team the chance to kill the beasts that destroyed old Earth. But as hundreds of years pass, Lex questions the validity of their missions and begins to long for a normal life.
But Omni Corps is big business, and the bureaucrats want to hold onto power. Can Lex and the members of his squad invoke the Century Run clause of their contracts, or will the people they’ve been protecting for so long find a way to have them terminated?
When you lose everything and humanity is on the brink of extinction, what is it that makes us human?
Lex Olson lost everything and vowed to destroy the alien race that devoured Earth. By joining Omni Corps, Lex and his best friend Cassie, give up one of the most important things about being human-mortality. New technology allows the Omni Corps soldiers to transcend years and essentially remain ageless. Yet, as decades and then centuries pass, the soldiers begin to feel separated from those that they protect.
Michael W. Davis drives home what it means to be human. From seeing the events in Lex’s life to understanding the catastrophic effects both physically and psychologically that the destruction of the human home world has held-the reader comes face to face with the reality that the universe still marches on. The story drives home the reality that technological advances, scientific achievement and world saving missions are unable to satisfy the deep human longing that Lex and Cassie feel.
Century Run is an amazing story that tells the story of the human race, balanced on the edge of extinction, rebounding and then rebuilding. Yet, this story is seen through the eyes of individuals who live outside the confines years of existence. Lex and his squad see generations of humans come and go, they are only awakened and brought back into the timeline to be the heroes, to save a world from the alien invaders or to settle colony disputes.
Yet, Lex finds himself questioning what he stands for and Michael W. Davis causes the reader to examine what is it that truly makes us human? As more centuries pass and there is a stronger disconnect from the human race, the reader begins to consider what is happening behind closed doors. The dialogue between characters is strong and the emotions are written so that they keep the reader connected with the characters. Century Run keeps the reader focused and unable to put the book down! The reader becomes one with Lex in the search for answers and the desire to implement the Century Run clause and rejoin the human timeline.
If you enjoy stories that cause you to question your own humanity, do not miss this epic book from Michael W. Davis!

Savvy Saturday: First Kiss by Celia Breslin

Spotlight on a First Kiss: Carina & Alexander

First Kiss scenes are a pivotal part of a romance novel. In the First Kiss scene, we experience the next level of the hero and heroine’s mutual attraction, feel the heat of their budding passion. It’s a significant emotional moment, a turning point moving the story’s romantic arc forward and, if done correctly, clueing us into the inner workings of our lovebirds. Are they happy, excited, nervous, reticent, etc.

Here’s a look at Carina and Alexander’s First Kiss from Haven. Carina is a San Francisco nightclub owner and her love-interest, Alexander, is a blue-eyed, sexy-as-sin, undead musician. Carina is excited, nervous, and a teeny bit tipsy from a glass of red wine, while Alexander is…well, see for yourself… :-)


“You look better,” he observed, distracting me from my tipsy musings.

“Better than what?”

“Than before. At the clinic.”

Right, the clinic. “Why did you do it?”

He arched a sexy brow. “Do what?”

“Stay in my room every night. Must’ve been pretty boring.”

“Not at all.” His smoky eyes glinted with heat.

“Oh.” Shyness tangled my tongue. Not my usual mode, but with Alexander, my senses overloaded, and I had to remember to breathe, blink, swallow, smile, nod, form a sentence, say it out loud. Like now. Now would be a good time to say something.

I finished my last drop of wine. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.” His deep velvet voice skimmed across my skin, leaving goosebumps in its wake. He traced my hand, his touch light as dandelion fluff. I expelled a ragged breath. Warmth built between my legs and my pulse quickened. Want him. More contact, please.

A drop of blood decorated his lower lip. On impulse, I wiped it away then licked my finger clean. So good.

Alexander made a strangled sound and hauled me into his arms. “You call to me like no other,” he rasped.

His chest muscles quivered under my hands, his heartbeat a rapid staccato. From arousal or the blood he’d consumed? A little of both, I’d bet.

“You sound like the older vampires now. I thought you were young,” I teased while I vied with the vertigo spinning my head. Must not lose my dinner. Talk about a mood killer.

“I am. But it’s true. The first time I saw you—”

“At Haven,” I interjected.

“Outside of Haven, actually. It was like I’d been gutted with a sword.”

“Ouch and, c’mon, that was the siren call you heard?” I scoffed.

He nuzzled my forehead.

My eyes fluttered shut. That didn’t help the lightheadedness or my ability to focus on this conversation. Breathe. “So, you saw me outside my club,” I prompted, forcing my eyes wide.

“It was a Saturday night.” His warm breath fanned my skin. “I was at Eighteenth and Castro and you passed right in front of my car with your friends.”

He showered soft kisses on my temple, my cheek, the curve of my jaw. My core clenched, fingers curling into his solid pecs.

“I saw you walk into Haven and...” He put a smidge of space between us.

Don’t stop. I opened my eyes. “And?”

“I double-parked my car outside your club, argued with your security about that, and then Adrian came and let me in.”

“Oh.” The wine-induced dizziness subsided. My hands roamed from his chest to his biceps. Smooth and solid, no hint of flab. Want you to wrap them around my body while you take me from behind. My little fantasy expelled the air from my lungs in a loud rush. Energy pulsed from my hands, hot and bubbly. His muscles twitched in response.

“Adrian was amused I’d followed a girl into the club.” His hands curved around my waist. “Until he realized it was you. He told me who you were, but he wasn’t happy about it.”

“What did you do then?” My voice wavered, his touch devastating, distracting.

His grip tightened. “I left.”


“The law according to Thomas. Your club is off-limits to all non-humans, except on Sundays. You yourself are off-limits to all vampires every day. Or you were then, anyway.”

I frowned. “You’re saying my uncle forbade you to see me?” This was so Romeo and Juliet. I didn’t like it. That story never ended well.

A hand slid to my back, pressing possessively. “Yes.”

I rolled my eyes. Thomas, interfering in my life. Again. “How long did you obey?”

His eyes narrowed. “Too long. But I sensed your presence after that whenever you were nearby. You spend a lot of time in my neighborhood after dark.”

“Adrian said the exact thing to me.” I bit my lip. Oops, now he knew I was talking about him. I felt myself blush like a crushing teenager.

He grinned at my discomfort. “You were hard to avoid. So I stopped trying. I showed up at the museum though I knew Thomas would intercept me. But it was worth it, to have you finally see me. I had to know.”

Talk time was over. We stared. And stared. And stared some more.

His smoky blue eyes bled to black and his power pushed at me, hot and hard, causing a response inside me, like a rumbling volcano deep in my core. My eyes widened. Was this the power my family had mentioned? No longer dormant and infinitely more intense than a little static electricity in my palms.

Alexander crushed his lips to mine. Need roared through me leaving me breathless with edgy hunger.

My hands burrowed into his thick, silky hair, holding his head as if he might try to escape. He growled his approval against my lips, his kiss growing more insistent. His tongue explored my mouth. He tasted metallic, like the blood he’d consumed. Again, I found I liked the taste. My tongue danced with his and delved into his mouth, searching for more penny metal flavor. He groaned and tightened his embrace.


Tranquilli Bloodline Series Book 1 

Celia Breslin

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance

Publisher: Champagne Books

Date of Publication: July 2, 2013

ISBN: 9781927454473


Number of pages: 372

Word Count: 124K

Cover Artist: Amanda Kelsey

Book Description:

San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli works hard, plays hard, and never allows the death of her parents and her twelve-year memory gap to get her down. But her life takes a left turn when a witch attacks her on her twenty-fifth birthday.

Three hauntingly familiar vampires emerge to reveal she possesses a latent power. To protect her from their enemies, they admit to wiping her memories clean and abandoning her as a child, but now they need her help. As she struggles to evade her new protectors and even newer enemies, she meets Alexander, an enigmatic, undead musician. Insta-lust flares, leaving her wanting more.

With evil’s minions hounding her every move, and everything she thought she knew turned on its head, Carina must harness her burgeoning power, unravel her vampire family’s web of deceit, and fight to have a love life...without getting killed in the process.

Available at:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Barnes & Noble:

Champagne Books:

Google Books:


About the Author:

Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for vampires, werewolves, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find Celia exercising, reading a good book, hanging with her family, or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.

Web site:








Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Tattle and Wrye column March 2017 edition


March 2017


Wrye Balderdash entered the office dressed in tails and popping open his top hat as he took a spin, balancing on a silver-tipped can. “A trampoline is perfect for what season, m’literary snoop?”

Tattle snatched up her parasol and bounced to her feet. “Spring-time!  And I know a blooming oak tree that told spring… what a re-leaf.”

“Corny to the core, madam.”

She batted her lashes. “And proud of it.”

“Ready for a spring time stroll?” He crooked an elbow for her to grab.

“Not til later, first our Love of Literature Leap Review.”

“Ah, then our attire must be more sophisticated than ole time.”

Upon changing into matching suits with Fedoras, the two leaped into a new review.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER (Champions of Elonia, #1) by Carmen Fox, an urban fantasy.

This story hooks you on the first page, no foreplay, just direct, intense action with the Shades attacking Nieve, warrior and Royal Champion. Nieve had one last mission before the King would finally release her. And the Shades weren’t going to make it easy. They used their magic, which forced Nieve to use her own. Despite not enough sun to refuel, she did what she had to do. Getting Lea back to the Elonian world and persuading her she was part of the prophesy was paramount.

Lea, an intelligent scientist, intended to shine in her chosen field but wasn’t expecting to be snatched from her routine life and tossed into a world of magic or into the arms of a man who appreciated her quirky bent. Though knowing life held more than being a translator, Lea wasn’t convinced she was the chosen one. Having to battle Shades, who had their own plans for Lea, and learning to become a warrior under Nieve’s tutelage, wasn’t in Lea’s quiver of hopes and dreams. Neither was the friendship that soon bonded the two women.

Nieve does her duty, and despite emotional attachment being alien to her nature, she identifies the benefits of having Lea as a friend. At the same time, however, she meets a kindred warrior soul who makes her question her allegiances. 

The gods had created a divide between earth and the Elonian world. Those with powers of light and air wanted to preserve the divide and Lea was pivotal to that success. Those with powers of dark and earth planned to have the divide fall. But despite prophesy, the past could be rewritten and the future had yet to unfold and memories were slowly erased with each moment that passed. Lea and Nieve were pawns in a dangerous and possibly lethal game, where all might be losers.

“This action stuffed urban fantasy refuses to release you from page one til the last page.” Wyre had the look of one who had been up the entire night. “Each character has its own unique style and definition while the worlds’ backdrops are edgy and crisp. Carmen Fox created a unique universe and  a storyline that keeps directing the reader one way only to snap you back and force you in a different direction. Every snag is remarkably placed with every foothold disintegrating. It leaves you dangling and desperate for what comes next. This author displays a forward thinking literary style that hasn’t been experienced before. This is a must-read!”

“Having read other books in this genre, I was prepared for a shadowy reflection of stories I previously read. Instead, I was smacked upside the head with Fox’s new, unique voice.” Tattle tapped the back of her head for emphasis. “The magic and action scenes have their own defining qualities that unfold so vividly it is as if you are watching a movie rather than reading words. The dialogue indentifies each character’s individualism while the sprinkling of humor is much appreciated in this otherwise intense tale. The dual heroines with their own POVs gives the story extra dimension as they tackle secrets, romance, and betrayals. This brilliant debut novel will make an urban fantasy fan out of anyone. Don’t pass it up.”

UNTAMED (Duty Bound #3) by J.S. Marlo

Living in her grandfather’s Newfoundland cabin in the outskirts of nowhere, Hannah Parker defended both herself and her young son by using simple tenacity and persistence. Many would consider being deaf a weakness, Hannah ignored it, not allowing the disability to define her any more than she allowed her damaged reputation to brand her. Still, troubles followed her. Deceit stalked her. A killer lurked in the woods and she anticipated no one will believe that truth. Then again, she oft suspected most who come across her path. After all, she didn't even report the local constable’s sexual harassment, believing they would take his statement over hers.

Having been tossed into the remote Newfoundland detachment, the irresistible, slightly knavish Constable Avery Stone immediately delves into unraveling the truth behind unsolved crimes and the death of a dishonored officer. During his investigation, he came upon Hannah and took an interest in the spunky woman and her young son. Knowing few things were as they appeared, he believed in her more than what appeared in reports or what was rumored by those who only thought they understood.

A tangle of deceit mired with a surplus of danger has Hannah accepting Avery’s help, and both falling for the other with instinctive trust.  Only, Hannah’s past relentlessly shadowed her in ways she doesn’t even comprehend, and death set a trap to keep the truth hidden. Would either her or Avery be able to  unravel the endless knots of deception before Hannah and her son were destroyed?

Wrye paced, shaking off the intensity of the story he just devoured. “Wow! Another well-plotted, nicely paced, and mystery oriented story in the third of the Duty Bound Series. UNTAMED has not lost any of the steam or power of the previous two books. It is a stand-alone yet for those who read the first two, it has a few past references to keep the connection alive. Once again, J.S. Marlo has taken us on a journey filled with twists and complications that leave us guessing. There is just enough romance to make you cheer on not only the individual characters but the couple, hopefully to be a family. Hannah, her son Rory and even the dog Snowflake are endearing. Avery beams hero in every possible way, yet has enough tarnish to make him real. This is the perfect read with an unexpected climax and satisfying end. I’m looking forward to more from J.S. Marlo.”

Tattle sipped ginger-spiced tea and sighed. “The Duty Bound Series as a whole is so absorbing and mesmerizing. Each story is unique, and it is difficult to define a favorite. This latest though has taken intrigue to a new level. Imagine being alone in a far off place with a young son to protect, and then imagine you can’t hear. Following this heroine made every shadow, every new turn, every unexpected danger more intense. As always, the writing was tight, the characters realistic, the plot complex and the villains were nasty even though discovering who was villainous was left to the end. And that wasn’t the only obscure identity in the story.” Tattle ran a finger across her lips as if zipping up and locking. “I can say no more. You have to read to discover the reality. And not just this story, but the whole series. You will be enthralled and entertained.”

Hope you enjoyed this month’s reviews. More to come in April!

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

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

Books by: Angelica Hart and Zi
Books by: Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane