Friday, August 14, 2015

Win free books! Have fun! Meet new authors!

I'm sorry, that was my best attempt at a good title.

Now let's get excited about some prize winning!

Are you ready for some awesome fun? How about a scavenger hunt? Next week myself and several other authors are teaming up to hand out some amazing prizes! 
What kind of prizes? How does this sound: 
Grand Prizes: 
1 50$ Amazon GC
1 25$ Amazon GC
TG Ayer:
Dead Radiance (Valkyrie #1) paranormal mythology
Fire & Shadow (Kali #1) paranormal mythology
Skin Deep (SkinWalker #1) urban fantasy shifters/magic
Retribution (Irin #1) urban fantasy angels/demon
Felicia Tatum – Bundle White Aura Series
Magen Veron  -  Forever Wild, complete serial
Lila Felix – Dethroning Crown
RaShelle Workman – Across the Ages
Delphina Myres  - Unless you can be a Unicorn
Jamie Magee:
 Edge full Season 1
Signed books:
Melissa Pearl - Fever
Amy Evans – Clicks
Julia Crane – Freak of Nature
Sydney Aaliyah Michelle – Hope for Her
Morgan Wylie – Silent Orchids
RaShelle Workman – Across the Ages + Swag
Stacy Marie Brown – Darkness of Light + City of Embers
Brenda Pandos – Truly Madly Deeply
Jamie Magee – Insight

Are you excited yet? Do you want to know what you have to do to get your hands on any one of these prizes? Okay, here goes. Each day two of us will post in our news letter a word, and the words will create a quote ( we will tell you which order our word is. Example: Word 3 is ***). You collect the words and on the final day enter the phrase into the google doc given to you and BOOM you are entered into the drawing! 

But wait…there’s more. Each stop will have daily prizes from the author as well! #howawesome

The HUNT begins on August 17th and ends on Aug 24th. All prizes will be drawn by August 28th
Good Luck everyone!!! 

Do you want to get a head start on signing up for where each author will post? Okay, then! Here you go: 
Links to Signup!
Rashelle Workman:

Stacy Marie

Sydney Aaliyah Michelle
Melissa Pearl
Felicia Tatum

Disclaimer: For any reason if we have a ‘failure to launch' meaning a author's news letter did not publish, on the final day you will be able to come here ( to collect the missing word(s) for your entry. 

The Authors will personally be responsible (with your partnership) to deliver book prizes to the winner selected. 

GC will be emailed directly from Amazon to an agreed upon address.

Other people's truths.

Other people’s truths.
Truth is truth, right? Not necessarily.
I’ve found out lately that I’ve been living under the umbrella of other people’s truths. Truths about the book world, truths about life and managing life—you name it, I took them as my own and coddled them like the Abominable Snowman did with Bugs Bunny.
I will love him and hold him and kiss him and feed him and name him George.
No—just no.
Only took me until the age of thirty-six to realize it too—sometimes I surprise myself at the level of moronism that dwells in my brain.
In taking on other people’s truths, we relinquish the right to our own truths. Moreover, their truths are based on their life and experience, so why in the name of fruit bats was I choosing to live by them?
For instance, and don’t get mad at me, some people are of the truth that when an author makes the NYT or USA Today list within a boxed set that it is somehow lesser than an author that made it on their own. I've even heard some authors say that others who make the lists with 99 cent books are somehow lesser than the ones who made it at full price. I’ve always been scared to even make a list with a boxed set because of this. I thought, ‘Well, if I ever make one (which I have NEVER been close), then I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen.’ Why? Why in the hell would I allow someone else’s truth to manifest itself in my life and how I run things? I'm calling bullshit. I am proud as heck of ANYONE who makes any list. I don’t care if they are part of a seventeen-thousand author boxed set about paranormal Ligers—I am amazed by their accomplishments and applaud them. I hope they redo all of their covers to read ‘NYT Bestseller’ because that’s what they are—period. No one with their comments or unsolicited opinions can take that away from them. And just because their truth is that it’s not legit doesn’t mean it isn’t.
Your name’s on the NYT Bestseller list? OWN THAT SHIT. Own it ‘til the fat woman sings and your eyes bleed. (Not really, don’t hurt yourself.)
So now, when I hear someone say something that doesn’t settle right with me, I ask myself, ‘Is that their truth or mine?’ If it’s mine, then I can let it lay, but if it’s not, then I disown it. Does that mean the other person is wrong? No. It just means they play by their own honesty and experience—and that’s their right. For that matter, it’s my right not to own their truth.
Sometimes it’s hard to stay away—it really is. Social media platforms allow us to show the world our truths, blast them internationally for all to see—but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt them ourselves. And it doesn’t mean it’s the right outlet to do so. It’s okay not to spout our truths to others.
Enough of my blabber. Here’s what’s up with me.
What I’m reading: I’ve moved on from Neil Gaiman. He’s brilliant, don’t get me wrong, but I’m taking a break from him. I’m re-reading The Barking Mad Take of a Teenage Werewolf by Katella Stegmann. If you haven’t read this series, it’s brilliant and complete! No waiting for sequels!
What I’m listening to: I’ve been obsessed with all things beach and Hawaii lately. I kind of need a vacation. So, 311 and Everclear have been loud on my playlist along with the Blue Crush soundtrack. I needses the sand in my toeses. (misspelling intended)
What I’m watching: Honestly, the only thing I’ve watched lately is Flipping Out and Extreme Weight Loss. I’m waiting on Fear The Walking Dead! Cannot wait!
What I’m working on: Lightning Forgotten (Lucent 2) and Meet Me Halfway (an Inspirational Romance)
Still needing the beach. Still drinking pineapple juice as a sad substitute for the beach. Still wishing for sunblock smells and ocean wind.

Coming Aug 18th

Like what you seen today? You can read it before it goes out on the blog just by clicking the tab way up at the top marked "Newsletter Sign Up"

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sketchy Love Excerpt!

The Daring Hearts Boxed Set!!! Releases August 18!

14 novels for 99 cents!

And now an excerpt from my novella, included in this amazing set!

Sketchy Love


“How long,” my dastardly guidance counselor demanded in a tone befitting her station in life. It was rumored she teetered on the cusp of becoming the next Assistant Principal, but had been thwarted by her own sister, the Director of the Magnet Program.
          Bugging her coal eyes out, she made a motion with her hands that read, ‘Spit it out.’
          “Three weeks—maybe four.”
          At my admission, she threw both arms into the air in a dramatic fashion. Her too tight wrap around white blouse rebelled against the action, loosing itself from the right side of her perfectly pressed pencil skirt. She then crossed her lithe arms and turned around in her chair. I assumed the gesture was to show me her back in disgust at my refusal to answer the college acceptances. Instead, her chair kept turning around on its axis until she faced me again.
          I couldn’t help myself. A savage laugh broke free from my chapped lips. It was the biggest fail of a power play I’d ever seen.
She cleared her throat and tried unsuccessfully to tuck her blouse back into her skirt in a discreet manner. Glancing at the clock, I saw there was still ten more minutes in the student planning period. Ignoring the aggravated paper stacking of the small woman in front of me, I pulled a worn paperback from my messenger bag and picked up where I’d left off. Nothing she said to me would make any difference anyway. I’d been told all my life that my talent was brilliant, but that my laziness would be my demise.
I wasn’t lazy when it came to drawing—then again I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. Sketching would wake me from a dead slumber. I could spend hours and hours on end sketching until my hands were covered with black smudges and my stomach was begging me to give it what it craved. Of late, my focus, or their focus, whoever they were, had been landscapes, but I could draw anything—anytime. In fact, it was more like an obsession.
If by obsession, I meant raw compelling voices telling me what to draw.
“What’s the problem, Fasta? Don’t you agree with the four D’s?” She pointed to the poster on the wall. It had her picture on it, pointing to the four D’s of the graduate program at Dosher High School: Drive, Determination, Dedication, and Demand. It looked like she had it made and laminated at Office Depot. There was no way an actual poster company sold and distributed those things.
I hated the way she said my name. I hated my name in general, but the way she pronounced it, it sounded like the street version of Faster. Once we went on a field trip to The Aquarium of the Americas as freshman. I’d been scribbling in my notebook, waiting for the rest of the students to file into the bus. It wasn’t like I could control it. I had to spend every waking moment I could getting the images out of my head and still they would come. Not paying attention, I almost missed the bus. She called out to me, “Come on, Fasta!” I didn’t know if she meant my name or to move in more of a hurry. It was nothing compared to the constant jeering form the other kids at school because of my name.
          I stared at the poster a moment longer. It was really the epitome of ridiculous.
          “I agree with them Ms. Alice.” She insisted on us calling her by her first name. “But I just don’t have them.”
          “Which one?” she stood and smiled at the picture of herself.
          “All of them.” I rolled my eyes and returned to my book. My fingers rubbed the corners of the worn pages, itching to draw—to get the images out of my head.
          “I think a good deal of time in detention would cure you lack of motivation.”
          That got my nose out of the book. “What are you going to write on the slip, ‘doesn’t agree with my poster’?”
          That was probably pushing my luck one tick past her limit. In fact, I knew it was since the tips of her rounded ears emblazoned with anger. For the tiniest of moments, she closed her glamour eye-lined eyes and tucked an invisible stray hair behind her ears. I’d seen the trilogy before—red ears, closed eyes, hair tuck. I was about to be on the receiving end of a week’s worth of detention.
          “Maybe three days in detention will give you ample time to think about your future and about your attitude towards those who are trying desperately to help you.”
          Since when was poster pointing considered desperate helping? I shrugged at her—it would afford me more time to draw—which would, in turn, afford me a little more sleep. I slammed my book into my bag at the sound of the bell, which interrupted her extended speech on how much she was attempting to help me have a future.
          I had a future whether I planned it or not, lady.
          I just knew it wouldn’t be anything worth having.
          Walking down the hall with my bag on my shoulder and a crisp detention slip in my hand, I went to my locker. I got out my Calculus book and in its place put my English text. I wished my school was one of those high tech schools that handed out iPads with the textbooks already downloaded. My textbooks weighed more than me.
          “Oh baby, Fasta, Fasta!” Rick Elkins hollered my way as he passed with the other members of the football team, dry humping the air as they walked. Even the air was offended by him. Slamming my locker door, I bit into my top lip in a great effort not to react. Reacting would only fuel them on. That comment was the least of the jeers I received at school. I’d never claimed to be innocent. I’d given them a good deal of fueling on. Plus, I was always spacing out. The images were always there. They always danced in the back of my consciousness.  I caught a glance of myself in the bathroom mirror on the back of the girls’ bathroom door as someone came out of it. Maybe if I didn’t give them so much kindling to begin with, the fire would never start.
          I straightened my V-necked white t-shirt and looked down at my Chucks, barely visible beneath the bells of my too-long jeans. I dressed like a boy. I wore what was comfortable. My hair was kept in a messy nest on top of my head at all times. More than once, by good natured foster parents, I’d been told my blond tresses were too pretty to be kept up, but I always disagreed.
          The desire to be ultra-feminine had never been in me—at least not at school.
          My sneakers squeaked as I entered the newly waxed library, after school, it was called detention. I always wondered why our school library was the only one I knew of that didn’t have carpeted floors. Carpeted floors would make more sense, especially since there were people like me around with loud shoes.
          I handed the librarian my slip. She read the note from Mrs. Alice. She curtailed a smile by curling her lips between her teeth. Ticking her head in the direction of the tables, she wadded the slip up and threw it in the trash. That was librarian speak for, today is your only day, regardless of what that stupid paper says. I sat a table in the very back where the sunlight shone directly onto the table through one of the last non-cracked windows in the whole school. It was perfect for drawing.
          And I needed to draw. The images were flitting through my mind at a pace even I couldn’t keep up with, even though I’d been plagued with them since I was a toddler. The most prominent image was always the boy—always the boy with the deep brown hair and the killer green eyes that bore into me as though they were drills instead of a fleeting picture. The images were always so real to me. It was more than just a one dimensional. I could feel his warm, calloused hands beneath my fingertips. If I closed my eyes, I could smell him, the perfect mix of male and pine trees.
He always made my stomach tighten.
He made everything pull taut.
He made my brain mush.
The worst part was—I didn’t even know who in the hell he was.
This was more than a lame obsession with art. It always had been.
I was an automatic artist—but a more tempered sort. I wasn’t the kind of psychic artist who had no control over when and where the drawings came from. I could hold them in until I was ready for them—or at least in far distance from my peers. I had enough to deal with without them knowing about the drawing. Most of my foster parents thought I was just a defiant child—fixated on having things my own way. Two years ago, when I’d been settled with the Nelsons, I realized my luck. They were hippies of the contemporary kind. They believed in anything that was the teensiest bit spiritual and maintained a live and let live attitude.
Coming out to them was a breeze. I’d shared what I could do only three weeks after I’d moved in. Though, it didn’t help my reputation being known as the hippies’ daughter. And the only advice Moira, my foster mother, offered me, was to kill them with kindness and hugs.
That would mean actually touching them and—no.
The entire time I thought over these things, my right hand swished and stroked over the opened sketch pad. Moira made monthly trips to the art store with me in tow, buying large, heavy sketch pads for use at home and smaller, more compact ones for toting around at school. She never mussed or fussed about the process. It had become as habit as buying groceries.
I grinned at the picture that had taken shape under my unwillingly skillful hand. I had no clue where most of my drawings came from, but this one in particular was weird. He was there, the boy with no name, and yet he was different, as though he was from another time. He stood in front of a hearth, enormous, and made of stones. Smoke rose from the cauldron, the fire danced, though the drawing was still life. It was perfect. The thing was, it wasn’t really me. I mean, it was my hand and my fingers, but the drawings drew themselves. The sketches I attempted on my own were never quite as grand.
The images were given to me—by whom or by what, I had no idea.
I’d never asked either.
The only question I ever asked was, ‘Who is he?’
A dinging sound blasted from the front of the library. The librarian rang the bell signaling my sentence was finished. I was relieved to find that my gift had allowed my time in detention to pass like a breeze.
By the time I got to my Bronco, the parking lot of the high school was mostly empty. I got in, started her up and began to take off when I noticed something under one of the windshield wipers. A cream piece of tissue paper fluttered about in the wind. No, it was a handkerchief. In a huff, I got out and ripped the nuisance from its holding cell. Tossing it into the passenger’s seat, I shifted into gear and made my way home.
My foster parents were both authors. They kept odd hours and often napped throughout the day instead of getting a solid stint of true sleep. It fit my lifestyle well, since some nights, my drawing kept me up at my desk, looking out of the window of our shared office. I’d never forget the weekend after we discussed my gift. I’d woken up that Saturday morning to a special breakfast followed by the revealing of a desk, a drafting table, complete with its own lamp, sandwiched between their own working desks.
It was the first time I didn’t feel like a freak.
Moira and Ren, his real name was Lawrence, didn’t care for school. They’d even attempted to homeschool me at one point, having done extensive research on un-schooling, but the system wouldn’t let them do it. Technically, I still belonged to the system. Only for three more weeks, and then my eighteenth birthday would set me free of being another record in their file cabinets.
“My darling girl, you are home.” Moira greeted me through an open window as I walked through the garden towards the side door.
Her voice was elven in nature. Even when she was perturbed, she kept it in check, never letting an intonation betray her. After going in and closing the door behind me, I hooked my bag on the back of a kitchen chair and went to claim a bottle of cranberry juice and grab a tiny bag of pre-sliced apples from the fridge.
“How was school?” she asked cheerfully. It felt bad to tell her how horrible school was when she was this chipper.
“It was okay. I got some good drawing time in.”
“Hmmm…that means you got detention. For your moxie, no doubt. Schools don’t understand—sheep didn’t build empires or change society.” She patted my shoulder. “Women with moxie did.”
“I like sheep,” I taunted her.
“See? Moxie! Guess what? I have a surprise tonight. You’re never going to guess. But try anyway.”
“What,” I put my juice and apples down excited about a surprise. I wouldn’t guess at all. It would ruin it. I loved surprises. I felt like I’d lived a thousand lives through my drawings, so surprises were life’s way of reminding me that I didn’t know everything.
“JoAnna has opened a palm reading, future telling shop at the flea market. She’s having a grand opening tonight and we are going to be there.”
I let my head bob and slumped against the refrigerator while feigning snoring sounds.
“Oh, you naughty girl. It won’t be boring. Trust me. Maybe she can tell you your future—your love future.” She drug out the ‘o’ on love.
“Fine. But if she sees anything other than a picture of me and Dave Franco, I’m out.”
That threw her into a fit of laughter. “Okay, Mrs. Franco. We will leave at seven and can we manage a dress—for me?”
“You’re pushing your luck, woman.” Ren entered the kitchen with an empty coffee cup, looking for a refill.
“He’s right. But, just for you, I will wear a dress. Anyway, it’s too humid at night for jeans.”
My submission to her request fell on deaf ears. She and Ren were caught up in the beginnings of a make-out fest. I could already tell. They could turn anything into an innuendo. They did that a lot—spur of the moment making out. I drummed it up to Moira writing Viking romances. Maybe it was all that herbal tea.
“Oh, I’ll fill up your coffee cup alright,” she cooed at him.
By the time I got to my room, a thousand worries were barreling through my mind. Ms. Alice’s words and determination on my future were unsettling, despite her execution. The thing about my future was—I didn’t have one. I could barely get through school without having to take a break and draw whatever the spirits or whoever it was that told me to draw. I spent lunch breaks, recess breaks, study hall and every moment in between sneaking in drawing time. I even skipped classes to squat on toilets in the girls’ bathroom to draw. Some days were better than others. I’d run up my allotment of unexcused absences in my first semester alone. I hardly ever slept well—I was constantly preoccupied with the images.
Sometimes I hated them.
Okay, a lot of the time I hated my ‘gift’ as Moira called it.
Most of the time they consumed me—though I would never admit that to another soul. Even then, looking around my room that resembled a post-hurricane disaster and piles of homework and studying to complete, the only thing I could even consider was trotting back downstairs to my desk and letting it all out.
So that’s what I did.
As I sat at the maple desk set to the incline that best suited me, I growled at the image presenting itself the loudest. It was an angry man with long hair cut close shaven on the sides. The scowl that marred his brow, the wrinkles above his head, and even his downturned mouth shouted his level of anger at me. The charcoal skirted along the paper. It detailed his jaw that seemed to be hand carved by a higher power. My hand slowed as it began the strokes building his eyes. They were the only feature present that didn’t scream detest. They sucked me in, telling me of sadness and lonely thoughts. Soon, I was finished and my hands ripped the page from the innocent sketch book, and unceremoniously passed the page to the letter box where finished drawings were kept and moved on to the next one, a lonely cabin in the woods with a girl hanging by a noose from a nearby Cypress tree.
It was him—the boy I’d been drawing since I was a child. My then foster mother thought my first drawing was of dusk on the bayou.
When in fact, it was him, his face camouflaged into the branches of the trees and the hanging moss.
It was always him—in fact, I’d never drawn a boy that wasn’t him.
I continued to shuffle through the other papers to put that particular picture back on the top of the stack. His eyes penetrated me—called me where I sat and demanded I pay attention.
Even after I’d drawn him, the urge never ceased.
Some drawings were better than others. Another reason I hid my drawings from others and never ever took an art class. I’d be expelled for some of the things I was compelled to draw.
You don’t want to know.
Time passed and before long a hand patted my shoulder, halting my drawing hand and breaking me free of what I’d named the trance.
“It’s six-thirty, Fasta. Time to get ready, if you’re going.”
“Run, Fasta, run! There’s still time!” Ren fell to his knees, faking a Scottish accent.
“You’re nuts, Ren. Get up, you goof.” Moira said, offering him a hand.
There was never a dull moment, even without my madness.
I never understood why these two would choose to take in a kid. They weren’t like some couples who’d decided to take in a stray because they needed a feel-good project or had gotten bored. Life was never boring around here. They never made me feel like the third wheel, but that’s what I was.
I swept past them, going up to my room to change. Moira had given me a purple tie-dye maxi dress for Christmas with crochet straps and a V-shaped neckline. I slipped it on and then pulled the matching strappy sandals on afterwards.
I could’ve passed for her daughter.
The dress felt a little too—open—to be comfortable, but I didn’t want to disappoint.
“Here, let me braid it.” My almost mother offered from the doorway. She came to my right side and fumbled with my hair until it contained some tiny braids around the crown of my head that all met in a conjoining braid over my shoulder.
“Thank you,” I said, grabbing my white cross-body purse. I didn’t own make-up.
“We should stop for something to eat on the way. You missed dinner again. I tried to call for you, but you were in it deep this time.”
She talked about it normally, like I’d been deep into a book or deep in thought about my ever tardy Calculus homework.
But I knew it wasn’t normal. And despite Moira and Ren’s fervent attempts to make me feel at home at their house—it felt like my corners were still rubbing against the circular edges around me. I fit, but it wasn’t a secure fit. There were still holes that made me feel empty.
There was something missing from me.
A piece dislodged.
A door unhinged.
A bone out of place.
“Yeah, let’s stop and get a Big Mac,” I tested her.
She gagged, noiselessly and with the motion I had my answer. No meat for Fasta.
The Flea Market wasn’t what I expected at all. Not na├»ve enough to expect actual fleas, I had expected mildewed vintage odors and older women over-prepared with battery operated calculators, reading their fabric covered smut novels while they waited for customers to be baited by one of their treasures.
Instead I found Cirque du Soleil meets the most upscale swap meet ever. The place was darkened a bit and colored lights flooded the place making it look like laser beams shot from ceiling to floor. Gauzy scarves of every color imaginable floated, tethered here and there across the room. It was gypsy meets wonderland. I’d officially fallen down the hole.
“I’m going to browse,” I whispered to Moira.
“Okay, but be at the booth in the far corner at seven. You only have a few minutes.”
I perused the shops from the center walkway. There was no need to go in and get interested in something when I was on a short leash. One booth specialized in Reggae items. The t-shirts boasted Bob and Ziggy Marley with red, green and yellow everything imaginable. Another booth seemed to be a glorified garage sale, a hodge-podge of items, none of which anyone would generally be looking for. One older man in a booth lined with creepy, Victorian dolls, was particularly aggressive—asking me what kind of little girl didn’t like dolls after I turned down his initial invitation to shop there.
The kind of girl who hasn’t played with dolls since she was eight.
That’s who.
Finally, I reached the back corner of the market. The way Moira always talked about JoAnna and her miraculous gifts, I would’ve thought celebrities and the like would be in attendance, waiting for her grand—or un-grand opening.
“We must get our fortunes read first,” Moira whispered to me as I moved to stand beside her.
“I don’t know. We’ll have to fight off the crowd.”
She stifled a giggle with her fist before elbowing me.
We were the first to get our fortunes read by JoAnne. She was dressed like a children’s carnival worker, complete with a headscarf, bangle earrings and she faked some kind of Eastern European accent. She told Moira she’d soon suffer a great loss but would feel immense peace about it.
She told me my options for life were wide open.
Which actually proved how full of crap she actually was.
We had tiny crystal ball cupcakes and sparkling apple juice to help her celebrate her grand opening. I passed on a further reading using the crystal ball, mostly because I could see the strings of hot glue around the base and it made me question the validity of a crystal ball that was stuck to its base using adherent I could buy at Hobby Lobby. Was the crystal ball so powerful that it would roll off the base by itself? Or was JoAnna afraid it would try to float away from her shabby fortune telling.
Either way, I kept my distance.
“Can I go look around again?” I asked Moira when she took a break from cupcake eating.
“Of course. The place closes in an hour. Meet me at the front.”
“Deal.” I thanked JoAnna and proceeded to walk around the opposite way I’d gone before.
I found a pair of crafted cameo earrings at one booth. I overpaid for them and the matching necklace was practically stuffed down my throat. Several of the other booths were closing up for the night, so I decided my shopping trip was over and proceeded to head for the door.
“Care to have your fortune read?” an older woman approached me from a corner booth I hadn’t remembered passing before.  She wore a non-descript maroon witchy guise that reminded me of a production of Macbeth I’d seen when I was younger.
I smiled and she returned the smile, but in a much more toothless way.
Good thing I’d never had to draw her when I was a kid—nightmare central.
“I’ve already had my fortune read tonight. I doubt it has changed.”
She cackled, the sound scratched at my mind. “Ah, yes, by that Jeanine, such a clairvoyant she is.”
There was nothing but facetiousness in her tone.
“It’s JoAnna.” I peered into her tent. It was completely void inside, only two chairs. No hot glued crystal ball or twinkly lights to gypsy the place up. The simplicity of her business upped her legitimacy in my mind. Who needs props and costumes when you can read futures?
“Free of charge,” she provided with a wave of her fat knuckled fingers that reminded me of the wicked witch from the cartoon Snow White.
“Oh why not?” I shrugged and followed her lead into the tent.
Upon sitting down, she took my hand and flattened out my palm. She ‘hmm’ed but didn’t say anything for an uncomfortable amount of time.
          “You don’t belong in this time. Then again, you don’t belong in any time. You travel like the devil himself is behind you.” Her voice changed to one of a mother as she ghosted her fingernail over the lines of my palm.
“I’m pretty sure I do—belong in this time.” I answered.
“No. You have been misplaced—or displaced. That’s why it’s taken so long for him to find you. Silly girl.”
All of the sudden, I liked JoAnna a lot better.
She held my hand tight. She was a tough bird. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get my hand free from hers. She was hanging on for life. After a few more moments she murmured something about ‘he’s coming soon’ and ‘be gentle with him.’
It was seriously creeping me out.
As she looked at me, her eyes swirled from blue to gray and then to green. I jolted to a stand to walk away and she spit on my shoes.
“What the hell, lady?”
“There is no future without the one. It was lost. Now, I have set everything straight. Now you have a future,” she tittered. “He’s on his way now. I’ve cleared the path.”
After making one final jerk of my hand release me, I freaked out and sprinted toward the entrance. Moira was still talking to JoAnn, only they were now waiting on me by the door. As soon as she saw me she widened her glare. I guessed JoAnne wasn’t so interesting after all.
“Sorry, I got hung up with—someone,” I said, not wanting to offend my foster mother’s friend.
“We really need to go, JoAnne. It is a school night,” Moira said, grabbing my hand and bee-lining for the door. When had Moira become so interested in me having a bedtime on a school night? I didn’t know what her deal was but I could hardly keep up. We got into the mini-van. Moira started it up, but it wasn’t until she got to the street and turned in the direction of her house that she began talking.
“She’s nuts. I went to be supportive but after you left she started trying to read my chi and my aura and some other crap. I mean, I’m as hippie as the next gal, but three readings is enough to last me the month. I need cookies now. You see what she’s done to me? I’ve been driven to cookies!”
She jerked the steering wheel to the right and before I knew it, she was yelling into the speaker of the drive-thru demanding a dozen cookies.
I didn’t even know you could order cookies from a drive-thru.
“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.” She pointed at me, digging through her purse for cash.
I put my hands in the air as an act of surrender. I’d never seen Moira driven to cookies.
Oatmeal, cranberry, hemp cookies, sure—but I was sure the cookie gods frowned on those. Plus, they tasted like sweetened sawdust.
Driving home, Moira said nothing—mostly because her mouth was completely stuffed to the brim with chocolate chip cookies—chubby bunny style. I didn’t dare say anything to her. I was afraid to be on the receiving end of a cookie blast.

I slept that night for only a few hours. My head was filled with visions of the fortune telling hag and the same man with piercing eyes and of all things, an axe. I must’ve detailed out his axe at least fifteen times, each pass getting more and more intricate.
Hopefully he was carrying an axe for Rick Elkins and his gang of Fasta fury.
Maybe he was going to slay Rick Elkins with it through my drawings.
A girl can dream.
The next morning, I was a wreck—again. Downing enough coffee to stunt the growth of a small child, I read the newspaper to Ren. His live and let live mantra didn’t jive with the variety of negative news reports. This had become our morning ritual. I scoured the news for something uplifting while Ren looked at my drawings. I’d find a story—he’d comment on a drawing.
It was our thing.
Ren’s chair squawked across the linoleum floors. I glanced up to see that he’d pulled away from the table with a look of disgust on his face. Shoving the papers to the side, I craned to see what had caused that reaction—the woman from the night before.
“Who is that? She’s—she’s…”
I giggled, “She’s not the best looking, right? It was a woman at another fortune telling booth last night. She told me some crap and then spit on my shoes. It was weird to say the least.”
“Really?” Moira chimed in from the other side of the table. “JoAnna thought she was the only one of her kind at the flea market.”
“Apparently not,” I quipped back.
As I drove to school, my breakfast oatmeal rolled in my stomach. Would it kill us to have bacon once in a while? Moira thought so. School cafeteria meat didn’t count, though it was better than Moira’s soya meat. I blindly patted the seat next to me, looking for gum or a mint to ease my achy stomach. I touched a piece of cloth and remembered it as the cream handkerchief from my windshield the day before. Its texture was almost crepe in nature. I tucked it under my thigh for further inspection when I arrived at school.
I screeched to a stop at a corner after an older woman began to cross out of turn. I leaned over the steering wheel and looked at her. I really needed to get more sleep. I could’ve sworn it was the fortune teller from the night before.
I was losing it—officially.
Finally pulling into the parking lot, I threw the Bronco into park and fumbled with the paper. It was blank inside, but it smelled peculiar. There was something faintly familiar about the scent, but I couldn’t place it. The essence made me dizzy and it took me a few minutes to recuperate.
That day was ruthless in terms of Fasta jokes. The jokers who called themselves students had apparently expanded their minds to include the soda by the name that differed from mine by only one letter. So for the rest of the day, I got to hear the soda’s jingle, replaced with my name. It all ended, of course, when I giggled along with their singing when they got one of the lyrics completely wrong. Giggling along with them meant it wasn’t getting to me. Giggling along with them meant their bullying wasn’t quite cutting to the core like they’d hoped.
It didn’t always work out like that, but that day was a good day for bully-ees.
Too bad they didn’t know there were two sodas with names close to mine-Shasta and Fanta.
God, please let them never find out.
I’d gotten through most of day unscathed by my visions. Truth be told, I missed the little buggers. They were my entertainment and distraction in an otherwise unbearable world.
I had plenty stored up, though. I could draw visions of a cabin I’d never been to. Or a vineyard I’d never visited. Or a boy I’d never met but so desperately wanted to.
Friday nights were date nights for Moira and Ren. They left money on the counter and I squealed at seeing the bills spread out. It was an unspoken topic in the house. They knew good and well that I was going to order a meat lover’s pizza and I knew they didn’t want me to.
Well, I knew Moira didn’t want me to.
Ren had a warehouse club-sized bag of bacon jerky in his desk drawer. I saw him sneaking it like Napoleon Dynamite snuck tater tots at school. The man was addicted.
How he erased bacon jerky breath, I’d never know.
I drew most of the night, sitting on the couch coupled by a coffee table full of a carnivore’s delights. After a mundane landscape of a beach, I finally set the sketch pad down beside me. My unfinished novel called my name and I answered the call. Moira and Ren didn’t come back that night, which wasn’t abnormal.
I fell asleep sometime later, the book turned out more boring than interesting. Another being was conjuring images in my head. The voice was so loud and booming, it woke me from a dead sleep. I took my time, yawned and stretched just letting the obviously male voice throw his commands through images in my head all he wanted. If I was in a hurry to get them out, they would simply be replaced with more images.
As I rose to drag myself to my drawing table, I was hit by his voice again, but this time it was a far cry from booming—it slammed into my head and I had to grab onto the edge of the couch in order to steady myself.
What was happening? The force of the impact pushed me to rush to my table. The rest of the night, until dawn, was spent scribbling and shading as fast as I could, throwing one piece of paper to the ground, not even bothering to place it nicely in the basket.
I didn’t even recall most of what I was drawing. His voice through the images was more than a calling—it demanded my attention and kept it steady. Most of the time, after I finished a drawing, I could easily move to the next, the spirit or whatever spoke to me was appeased with one drawing. But this being, this resounding male presence never let me rest. One drawing seemed to fuel his commands. Sometime after the sun had risen, exhausted and mentally spent, I passed out right there on the drawing table.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Engraven is now LIVE!

Tarrow Rivers is determined to wait on his mate, he scents her in the swamps, can see her in the trees, but he knows she's not ready to meet him. Yet fate has other plans. 

Dahlia Branch has been groomed for an independent life since birth. Clans are something she's always been warned against. She knew she would never be a part of one...until she finds Tarrow, who is not only a loyal clan member but one of their Betas.