Urban Fantasy Author
Book Bling Blog
An interview with Sophie from Grave Secrets
Interviewer: Hello, Sophie. Thanks for joining us today.
Sophie: Thanks for having me.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sophie: Sure. I took over Palmetto Private Investigations when
my father retired. I’ve been running it ever since.
Interviewer: PPI specializes in more paranormal issues though,
Sophie: PPI handles all kinds of clients. But yes, we are sensitive to the special needs of paranormal cases as well. I wouldn’t call it a
specialty. We are just the only business in town not afraid to deal with the vampire community.
Interviewer: Speaking of vampires, the rumor on the street is
that you are the new main squeeze of one Rayne Blackwood.
Sophie: Don’t believe everything you read.
Interviewer: So no truth to the rumors then?
Sophie: We have a professional relationship.
Interviewer: Being professionally involved with the Charleston
Vampire Conclave, how do you feel about the new registration
Sophie: Well, I have to register my guns and I suppose vampires
are at least that dangerous, so I understand government trying to find a way to both make the general public feel safe and also apply some level of accountability. Are they human? No. Do they have rights like humans? I think so.
Interviewer: You can’t exactly put a vampire in handcuffs.
Sophie: Well, you can always try I suppose.
Interviewer: And do you feel safe with a vampire living under
Sophie: I don’t feel safe standing in line at the DMV, but as
far as Caleb is concerned, having him around makes me feel more
Interviewer: How so?
Sophie: The last few times I’ve been in the hospital have been
courtesy of the human population. Having him around is sort of like having a guard dog.
Interviewer: It’s interesting you bring that up. I’ve heard
rumors that vampires aren’t the only fairy tale monsters walking our streets, is that true?
Sophie: I don’t know anything about that…
Interviewer: Really? Even with your rather unique, personal
Sophie: What can I say? I don’t exactly get invited to the
Interviewer: Is there anything you can tell us? Any wisdom
you’ve picked up over the years?
Sophie: Sure. Number one, you can shoot a vampire, but it just
pisses them off. Number two, be more concerned about the human monsters. The vampires are actually really well self-policed.
Interviewer: Good to know. Can you give us an idea of a typical
case for you?
Sophie: I’ve dealt with everything from missing cats to people
digging up graves and trying to re-animate corpses—which by the way is just gross.
Interviewer: Is there anything that could still surprise you,
after all you’ve seen?
Sophie: Never say never.
Interviewer: What about you personally? What do you do for
Sophie: I’m pretty laid back. I watch old movies. And when I’m
feeling really adventurous, I knit.
Interviewer: You knit?
Sophie: I know. I’m a rebel.
Interviewer: And since you have dispelled the romance rumors,
are you seeing anyone?
Sophie: My two favorite guys in the world. Smith and
Interviewer: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our
Sophie: Office hours are 9am-4pm. And we are verygood at what we do.
No pulse? No problem. Sophie D'Angelo is good with weird,
but her latest investigation unnerves even her. A young pregnant woman goes missing and the only witness is a hundred year old ghost.
Sophie reluctantly agrees to play host, literally, to the specter who then seems more interested in Sophie's ex-finance, Caleb, then in solving the case.
As her personal life falls apart around her, Sophie will have to decide how far she's willing to go for justice, and what she's willing to risk to make things right with Caleb again. But how is she supposed to do either with the charismatic Rayne Blackwood, head of the Vampire Enclave, vying for her time, attention, and ultimately, her heart?
Fans of Palmetto Moon, Book One: Born of Blood as well as first time Ficklin readers will not be disappointed with this intriguing new offering in the D'Angelo saga.
What people are saying about the Palmetto Moon series...
"Once again Sherry Ficklin has turned out a magnificent story that kept me on the edge of my seat, when I wasn't falling out of it with laughter at Sophie's snark, or swooning over Caleb
and Rayne. Perfection to the last word.
A definite must read for urban fantasy fans."
FIVE Stars from D. J. Westerfield
"Let me just say this ending just left my mouth hanging open. I was still trying to turn the page! I want the next book now!!!"
FIVE Stars from Tiffany
"Born of Blood, by Sherry D. Ficklin isn’t just your average vampire book. Ficklin manages to write a love story, action, and plenty of sarcasm in this first edition of the Palmetto Moon series.
Sophie D’Angelo is a private investigator who is living with a vampire in her attic who happens to be her ex-fiancé. In this reality vampires live in the open among the undead. Caleb, her ex-fiancé, was turned into a vampire the night before their wedding and he’s been living as her friend in her
attic ever since. He’s also her partner at her PI business, Palmetto Moon. She is contracted to find a missing person and she quickly finds out things are not as they seem.
This was a fun, quick read and a lot of Ms. Ficklin’s personality comes out in this book. The plot is fast moving, the characters are all well developed and likable. I loved this book and can’t wait to read the next edition. Luckily I’ve been selected to get an ARC (Advanced Read Copy) so
I’ll be posting that review soon. I give Born of Blood five out of five donuts."
Five "donuts" from Tyler Jolley
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house
guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people.
She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she's on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is often only seen in blurry photographs.
To learn more about Sherry visit her at her Website
He's determined to set things right, no matter the cost...
The last person Abby Crawford wants to face down is country music superstar Seth Kendall. Last time she did, she flat-out lied so he’d go to Nashville without her. She’s never understood why their mutual best friend roposed, but she went with it so her baby wouldn’t be fatherless. Now she’s a divorced mother of a teenager, and secretly Seth’s biggest fan.
Seth is home in McAllister, Texas for his father’s funeral…and a chance to meet the daughter he’s never known. He’s willing to face the music of his own making and admit he’s known about his little girl all along. For fifteen years he’s kept his distance because Abby told him to follow his dreams without her, insisting she didn’t love him. But now he won’t leave until he knows his daughter and she knows him, even if it means facing the woman who broke his heart for good.
Confessing she’s lied about her daughter’s paternity all these years won’t be easy for Abby, especially with her ex blackmailing her to keep the secret. And Seth doesn’t know the hardest truth of all: Every love song he plays on his guitar still plucks her heartstrings.
CONTENT WARNING: Spicy sex.
A Lyrical Press Contemporary Romance
Seth leaned in. His lips were close enough to kiss, and his scent of sandalwood and something exotic enveloped her, taking her back to that night on the beach. His eyes flashed with the dangerous fire of his temper. It was similar to the flame of the passion she’d once seen in the green depths. Abby didn’t expect or want the heat curling in her belly, and shivered with a sudden and fierce desire.
“I’m her father, Abigail. I wanted to be her father after she was born. It was you and Mike who insisted I had no business messing things up.”
“I never said any such thing. You never tried. You just left.”
He pounded a fist on the counter top so hard she jumped. “Yes, I left! I wasn’t welcome at home. Dad ran me off with a shotgun. Mike wouldn’t even let me see my daughter. He made it quite clear you and he were happily married, and I had no place in your life. I was under contract to be in Nashville to start recording my first album.”
What did he mean, Mike wouldn’t let him see Emily?
Before she had a chance to voice her question, his eyes darkened as the pupils dilated, obscuring the stormy green. “But I’m no longer nineteen and scared shitless. I could make things very rough for you and this fantasy you’ve got working.”
A cold lump quickly replaced the tangle of heat in her belly. “What-what do you mean?”
He backed off and tapped the countertop. “I’m talking a custody battle. I could have a judge order a paternity test. I think we both know the media hoopla the results would cause.”
Her heart slammed into her chest wall. “You wouldn’t do that.”
“Try me. Now that I’ve met Emily, I want to get to know her.” He walked over to look out the kitchen window. The hard line of his jaw melted, and he swallowed so hard his throat moved up and down. “I was a fool when I let Mike talk me out of being in her life after she was born.”
“What do you mean?”
He glanced at her. “Don’t pretend you don’t know.”
The strings of guitar music provided a soft counterpoint to the hard tension in the kitchen. Emily was outside on the patio playing around with her guitar, waiting for them to finish with the dishes she and Seth had insisted on doing.
“All I want is to have some time with my daughter. That’s all I’m asking for.” When he looked over his shoulder at her, sadness replaced the anger in his eyes. “I’ll keep your little secret. I’ll just be her favorite singer. The family
friend who made it big in Nashville. I don’t want to hurt her. As much as it
galls the hell out of me, I see what Mike means to her.”
He moved toward her and shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Besides, I don’t want to hurt Carolann or Frank any more than you do.” He glanced outside again, his voice husky as he spoke. “But I’ll sue you if I have to.”
A part of her wanted to give in to him, but a larger part wanted to punish him. Let him take her to court; she’d make sure the world knew what kind of jerk Seth Kendall really was.
She gritted her teeth and fisted her hands by her sides. “I’ll let you have tonight, Seth. But don’t ask for more.”
She turned away and strode through the French doors.
Sara Walter Ellwood is an award winning author whose novel Gambling On A Secret was named by bestselling author Carolyn Brown in the Happy Ever After Blog on USA Today as one of her favorite romances of 2012. Although Sara has long ago left the farm for the glamour of the big town, she draws on her experiences growing up on a small hobby farm in West Central Pennsylvania to write her stories. She’s been married to her college sweetheart for nearly 20 years, and they have two teenagers and one very spoiled rescue cat named Penny. She longs to visit the places she writes about and jokes she’s a cowgirl at heart stuck in Pennsylvania suburbia. She also writes paranormal romantic suspense under the pen name of Cera duBois.
Penelope Reece, Penn for short (b. 1984), is an author living in Central Indiana with her husband of two years and her tiny pomeranian Kodi.
She graduated from Indiana University in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in English. She then went on to spend nearly three years in South Korea where she taught English in a private academy. It was here that she met and married her husband in June of 2010. They recently moved back to the States in March of 2012.
Penelope's been writing ever since her nerdy highschool days where her joys were limited to marching band and day dreaming. Her other joys include reading, crocheting, snuggling her little Kodi-man, and watching comedic TV shows such as Parks and the IT Crowd. She also enjoys watching Korean dramas, listening to her husband sing. As well as being hyper and annoying her husband as much as she can.
CHLOE HASKELL, a university student and runaway diva, is determined to
never sing again. After escaping a life in the spot light, she wants only to have a normal life. But when an old flame comes to town, Chloe must decide if she’s willing to forget the past in order to fall in love with the man who broke her heart. RHYS RYTHER, a Broadway composer, has been hired as a substitute professor at the university. There, he’s surprised to learn that his
ex girlfriend, the girl he left without an explanation, is a student at the same university. What's even more surprising is that he still has feelings her. When Chloe unintentionally gets cast in the school’s production of The Phantom
of the Opera, unexplained events start to happen.
She sees shadows everywhere. A ghost haunts her dreams. And someone is watching her. But is it all in her mind or has a dead man come back to claim her? As Chloe and Rhys get closer, he learns that she’s been keeping a secret. It’s a secret so dark that could very well tear them apart. And when the impossible happens, can Rhys overcome Chloe’s dark past in order to save her from an even darker future?
Alphie Brewster attends school, has friends, and a loving family. She's even taken an interest in the hot new neighbor. It's the normal life of your average eighteen-year-old. There's only one problem. Alphie isn’t normal. She's
anything but. You see, Alphie's got this problem. She's always tired, is plagued with vivid nightmares, and can't remember her past. After Alphie stumbles upon a necklace that once belonged to her grandfather, and unintentionally opens a portal that sends a ghostly figure hurtling out at her
from her bedroom mirror, she finds herself faced with another problem. A six foot four inch tall eccentric spook, named Noer, who fills her with fire while draining her energy as if she were a Duracell Battery. With Noer constantly making her go all weak in the knees, Alphie wants nothing more than to be rid of both him and the necklace. Especially, since the sexy neighbor, Cary, has taken a fancy to her. And that's not all. With both spook and Cary fighting for her attentions, Alphie starts to remember things. Things that she wished would stay buried. Then Alphie visits Noer's home in Limbo, and things start to get even weirder. If that isn't complicated enough, a vicious stranger comes looking for the necklace. And this stranger will do anything to get it. Within this chaos, will Alphie be able to come to terms with her past in order to save her family? Or will she become just another lost soul without a body?
When her neighbors accuse Belladonna of Satanism and making them age years to days, she must find who is behind it or face a modern day witch hunt. Her mysterious enemy knows where to strike to cause the most damage: Belladonna's only friend is losing his life-force; the garden that feeds her is dying; and her house ghost goes poltergeist. To save her neighbors and friends and prove her innocence, she must travel to the Otherworld where butterflies have razor wings and where her worst fears will come to life.
The mob on the other side of the wrought iron fence wore no tri-cornered hats or starched bonnets. They didn’t brandish pitchforks or flaming torches. Hell, they didn’t even bring a preacher to drive the Devil out. Still, they had come to flush out a witch and the witch was me.
Larisa Walk, a native Russian, lives in California with her husband and two formerly homeless cats. She writes paranormal fiction that is more often than not populated by characters from the Russian fairy world. Her
short fiction appeared in several anthologies and magazines. She has published a historic fantasy novel, A Handful of Earth, and a modern paranormal novel, A Witch Without Magic. You can read her quirky blogs at: http://www.larisawalk.com
Larisa is gifting a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card to 5 lucky COMMENTORS, so follow her tour to increase your odds!
This dark occult horror novel doesn't pull a punch. Rae demonstrates her research skill and imagination in this take on fallen angels gone awry.
Andel Talistokov is a fallen angel that uses subliminal suggestion in advertising as a weapon for Hellish intentions. Ruling a power structure reminiscent of the one run by Al Pacino in the Devil's Advocate, Andel feels invincible. He tried to defeat God, and now he wants to defeat Satan. Yezidism, an ancient angel worshiping religion, provides the powerful and arrogant Andel the opportunity to mate with young women to produce Nephilim, a mixed race of humans and angels.
Joanna Easterhouse, paroled after a jail term for cocaine use, and her sister, Kim, discover their recently deceased mother had a secretive past. Disbelief soon turns to terror. They are heirs to a twisted celestial legacy. This story is not for the squeamish because Rae doesn't shy away from raw, graphic horror of the kind Clive Barker made popular. The plot is filled with page-turning, unexpected twists and tangles that will make you question what you felt you knew about reality, myth and religion.
Book Bling gives this novel 4 Stars!
Book Bling is pleased to host Author Dina Rae. She is a new author here to stay. As a teacher, she brings an academic element to her work.
Her three novels, Halo of the
Damned, The Last Degree, and Bad Juju weave research and suspense throughout the plots.
Her short story, Be Paranoid Be
Prepared, is a prequel of sorts to The Last Degree, focusing on the James Martin character. In the spring of 2013, her latest novel, Halo of the Nephilim, was released. Dina also freelances for various blogs.
Dina lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs outside of Chicago. She is a Christian, an avid tennis player, movie buff, and self-proclaimed expert on several conspiracy theories. She has been interviewed numerous times in e-zines, websites, blogs and programs. When she is not writing she is reading novels from her favorite authors Dan Brown, Anne Rice, Stephen King, Brad Thor,
George R.R. Martin, and Preston & Childs.
She can be contacted at:
Behind every book there is a “story.” The when, how and why a simple idea spun into a fully completed manuscript. As an avid reader and writer, I often wondered how fellow authors came up with their novel. What made them choose those characters, what influenced their writing, how did they conquer writer’s block, etc? It’s strange that now I have readers asking me those questions too. I guess I never really thought people ould be curious about my work too, but that has a lot to do with the fact that being a published author is still surreal to me. But today, I decided to dedicate this blog to the “story” behind my story, The Shifted, and provide you all with ten fun, interesting, and/or influential facts about my YA novel.
The Shifted was never meant to be my debut novel. I didn’t even know it
was going to be a young adult series. It was just an idea that came to me in a
dream one night when I was in the middle of writing a completely different young adult series about angels and demons. I merely wrote down the first chapter (because that is all I dreamt, the scene between Kale, Scout and their mother arguing about a new school) and put the story aside. I didn’t even know for sure if I would even pursue it. I had a lot of story ideas on that “back burner.” All I knew was I wanted to finish the book I was working on, but life had other plans apparently.
My computer crashed.
(Talk about bad luck.) And then my dog ate my flash drive. (No joke.) So after two years of work, I was left with only a couple original printed chapters and an outline. I was beyond bummed and aggravated, so much so that I stopped writing for over a year. In fact, I had no desire to attempt writing a book again until I started reading Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampire series. After reading the first three books in that series in two days when I was on vacation, something ignited in my head again and all my creativity and desire to write was back. I wanted to write a series that hopefully one day made someone love my work just as much as I loved Rachel’s work. I wanted someone to spend an entire day getting caught up in my writing the way I was with hers. I wanted them to fall in love with my characters the way I fell in love with Shane. He was my all-time favorite.
And on the week I got home from vacation, I was buying a new computer, a new computer chair, and I was writing again. Just. Like. That.
But this time I decided what the heck, I’ll try a different story. So I tried picking up from chapter one of The Shifted (which at the time had no title) and oddly enough, I wrote 96,000 words in three months and got a contract a few months later with Tell-Tale Publishing Group, LLC. Oh, happy day!
Considering I had no outline, no idea how I wanted The Shifted to go, who my characters were going to be besides Kale and Scout, it made writing a bit
complicated at first. Until I visited a park in Medford, NJ where I went to
support my husband in a race. The second I saw it, I just knew that was how I wanted Emerson Fox Academy to be and everything became so visual in my head after that.
As for the characters, some were just random picks on a name list but others had more meaning or influence. For starters, Scout and Kale are my
favorite two characters. I can’t pick who I love more. I might have started off
with the desire to write characters that readers could fall in love with, but in
the end wrote characters that I fell in love with. They’ve all come to mean so much to me and now I completely get why writers say their characters pretty much just came to life and wrote their own stories. Until I wrote The Shifted, I always thought that it was kind of silly when they talked like that. But really, that’s pretty much how it went. When picking Scout’s name I really considered his age and his personality, I wanted something that was young, playful, childish and would make a cute dog’s name too. And I chose Scout to shape shift into a dog because puppies are energetic, funny, stubborn and carefree and that’s exactly Scout’s personality. When I first started writing I pictured him shifting into my dog Chance but I soon realized that my dog was too big a dog and not exactly the right breed, so I changed the breed to be more like a beagle. When I was growing up we had a beagle named Sport, and that dog meant something to me too.
Kale is older, more responsible, respectful, smart, awkward at times and downright sarcastic. His sarcasm is why I love him so much. I have a lot of friends, including myself, who are sarcastic and I know when we are upset, angry, or uncomfortable we tend to try and cover it up with sarcasm. So I could totally relate to Kale’s spouts of uncomfortable jokes, because lame humor is comfort for me. As for his name in the story it states the he was not named after the vegetable but really that is why I first picked his name. I was reading a magazine about the health benefits of Kale and the name just sort of stuck with me. But in the story his name means something more and that will be explained in book two.
Kale’s love interest is Lavallette Waters. Lavallette is actually a town in NJ and since it’s located near the water, I thought Lavallette Waters would be
fitting. However, I couldn’t think of a good nickname for it that fit her personality and physique so I decided to name her “Kit,” short for “Kitten” because she shape shifts into a small cat.
Holland Bentley was actually inspired by my husband’s cousin. I used his last name for the character’s first name and some of his characteristics. The dark hair, light eyes, tall, muscular build. But in real life Mike’s cousin doesn’t act like Holland.
And finally there is another minor character introduced into the book, Jilianna Cortez. She was the most fun to create. I was at a party when my friend Jill asked me to write her into my book. I told her sure and we spent the day thinking of names and what she would look like, etc. It meant a lot to her and to me that I was able to write her into the story.
The fight scene at the rest stop was actually inspired by a dream my mother had one night. She told me she dreamt about an owl and a lynx fighting in the woods and it quickly turned into my next scene. I just had to do some research on animals first. I wanted to get their looks and mannerisms right.
When I first submitted my book to the publishing company I was told I only had half a book, (oops!) and that I too often made Kale sound like a girl and Scout sound like a college professor. (My bad!) So after a month of more writing and a lot of editing, I resubmitted and scored a publishing contract. (The crazy thing was I learned so much in one small rejection letter, that really wasn’t a rejection letter, and my editor’s words of wisdom really helped guide me along.)
The title of my book was a toss up between Shifted, Emerson Fox or Emerson Fox Academy but everyone liked Shifted so I picked that. However, my best friend told me The Shifted sounded better, more suspenseful, so I took her word for it and that became the title of Book 1.
At the end of The Shifted, I actually cried. I cried because I was so happy with how it ended. The first time I thought I finished the book I always felt like something was missing but the second time I knew it was complete. I knew because it felt right. I hadn’t been that certain about something in a long time.
The hardest part to write in the whole story was Kale’s romance with Kit. I’m a chick flick obsessed girl so it was hard getting it right. I didn’t want the romance to come off fake and unbelievable. I still don’t know if I got it right, but I hope so. My mother always told me the two most important parts of a story were the romance and the conversation. I tried keeping both in mind when I started writing because I realized those were my two favorite parts of a book too. But that’s just personal preferences.
When I told my grandmother I just wrote a book she was super excited. She asked me what it was about. I told her it was about shape shifters. She replied, “Oh that’s great dear. What do the three sisters do?”
Needless to say we both were laughing pretty loud after I explained I said “shape shifters.”
It took me one month less to write book two than it did for book one. Looking back, I still have no clue how I managed to write two 90,000+ books in less than six months. In fact, when I told my husband how many words were in book one his response was, “96,000 words? I don’t think I said 96,000 words in my life.” To this day, he hasn’t read my book but he assures me in five years he might be finished. (Sadly, that’s not even his sarcasm. That is the truth. He does not like to read. Five years is probably far-fetched. Maybe ten is more accurate?)
Anyway, there are all kinds of little tidbits and interesting facts behind each of my stories but these ten are the most influential to the development and
completion of The Shifted. I hope you got a kick out of some of them, found
some information you might have been looking for, or just got inspired to give my debut novel a try. Oh, and for anyone that wants to know how I conquer writer’s block…. go for a walk, complain a lot to my best friend through text messaging and/or harass my mother with phone calls of unlimited questions. My mother’s advice is often, “Take a break. You can’t see the forest for the trees.” And somehow, her advice always works.
So next time you are stuck on something, do something different. Talk to a friend, go for a walk, and/or just step away.
As Will Shetterly quotes, “Moving around is good for creativity: the next line of dialogue that you desperately need may well be waiting in the back of the refrigerator or half a mile along your favorite walk."
Great post, Natalie. Thanks for being here today. These are just the sort of questions and answers we readers are interested in hearing about our favorite books. I had to laugh when you talked about including people you knew in the story. It reminded me of the following joke I saw on a plaque: You have entered the home of a writer. Remember, what happens here may end up in a novel.
You can reach Natalie at:
Follow Book Bling Blog for a chance to win a free copy of The Shifted. Comment on Natalie's blog and double your chances!
This young adult novel may have "shifters" and other paranormal elements, but it's no ordinary storyline. It takes what you thought you knew about shifters and adds a unique and interesting twist, which in turn introduces an entire new cast of fascinating characters.
Kale, the male lead feels a strong sense of responsibility for his younger brother. As the only "non-shifter" in a family of shifters, with a mysterious and hidden past, this complicates his watching out for his brother when they are transferred to an all-shifter school. Kale is required to "act" like a shifter in order to fit in and stay safe.
As if that weren't enough of a problem, he falls in love with a female shifter with some jealous protectors of her own. The friends soon discover that all is not as safe or secretive as their parents presumed at this private school. Someone is killing shifters, and they target Kale's younger brother. Will Kit and Kale be able to save him? Will their love survive the truth of Kale's origins? Find out by reading The Shifted, a powerful breakout novel by Natalie Carlisle. Filled with lots of suspense and action, it's perfect for Tweens, Teens and Adults alike! I, like the majority of readers on Amazon, give this book 5 stars.
Book Bling is happy to welcome author Sarah Daltry today. Hi, Sarah, it's nice to have you here today. I'm sure all your readers are interested in knowing what you're up to with your newest project. If you don't mind, we'd like you to answer a few questions.
What is the name of your most recent book? What is it about?
The book I am promoting currently is The Quiver of a Kiss. It is an erotic historical romance reconsidering the story of Helen of Troy and what drove her to leave Greece for Troy, thus precipitating the Trojan War.
What motivated you to write about this?
Women appear as side characters in the works of the ancient Greeks at best and as lustful one-dimensional characters at worst. I wanted to consider Helen's point of view. Maybe she was driven a bit by lust, but love had to play a role. You don't leave behind your family and cause a war because a guy is kind of cute.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
I am currently working on a contemporary NA based on a short story I already wrote. However, I would like to write about Clytemnestra as well. I find these women intriguing and there is really nothing out there about them.
What books have influenced your writing?
In this case, I had read Homer and Virgil. I just was not satisfied with their versions because I felt that there was a voice missing - the women.
Who designed the cover of your book?
I do everything myself - writing, editing, cover design, marketing. It is not necessarily the best or easiest route. I would love to find a publisher, but for now, it's all me.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do what works for you. I am one person and what I do is not necessarily right for someone else. My job is stressful but I do manage to find the time to write and do everything I have to do. I am not sure others have that luxury and I would never assume anyone's life is the same as mine.
REVIEW OF THE QUIVER OF A KISS-The Seduction of Helen of Troy
This novel was a happy surprise. As a big fan of ancient and medieval history and literature, I was afraid this would be just a vague setting with characters who had been given historical names. Though the premise intrigued me, the highly adult content warning served to make me even more cautious. Fortunately, though this delivers on the promised genre expectations, with lots and lots of hot, steamy intimate encouters, it also provides a very interesting take on the historical events around the legendary beauty, Helen, and the verile warriors who vied for her favors.
The writing style is smooth and the first person point of view adds interest and insight to Helen's encounters and descriptions. There is no question that she grew up in a male-dominated society where women were little more than chattle, but she is still fiery and independent. She learns from her experiences and lives her life and gives her body on her own terms. I give this story 4 stars!
WARNING! MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY
What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?
Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next
dorm who’s got a crush on her.
But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams
could get Sara killed.
“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.
“I didn’t expect to be woken up by someone I don’t know dreaming about killing somebody. I thought I was done with that once and for all…”
But Sara’s not done with it. As if adjusting to life as a newlywed and starting medical school
weren’t difficult enough, she’s started seeing the dreams of everyone around her, again. Before everything is said and done, those dreams might destroy Sara’s hopes of becoming a doctor, wreck her marriage and even end her life…
“Dream Doctor” is the thrilling second novel in the Dreams series.
"I would give anything to take this away from her. I would gladly go back to having the nightmares myself – the very worst ones, the ones that had me waking up screaming in a pool of my own vomit – rather than see Lizzie go through this..."
As a resident at Children's Hospital, Sara can handle ninety hour workweeks, fighting to save her young patients from deadly childhood diseases. But she's about to be faced
with a challenge that all her training and experience haven't prepared her for: her four-year-old daughter has inherited her ability to see other people's dreams...
"Dream Child" is the suspenseful third novel in the "Dreams" series.
"Why is this so hard for me? Why am I having so much trouble? Why do I feel so helpless, so hopeless? What the hell is wrong with me?"
After tangling with murders and mobsters, not to mention medical school and three years of
residency, Sara thought she could handle anything. And then the police show up without warning at her new office and arrest her for a crime she can't possibly have committed. Sara's confidence, and her grip on reality, is shattered during one terrifying night in jail.
Now, the very dreams that have endangered her life and driven her to the edge of madness may be the only thing that can help Sara find herself again...
"Dream Family" is the powerful fourth novel in the "Dreams" series.
J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve University, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.
He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests. The "Dreams" series is James' first published work.
He can be reached at his website or FB Sites.
Cee Cee woke to the inviting scent of thick chicory coffee. It was an effort to drag her eyes open, even more so to recognize where she was. Unrelieved white walls lifting to a twelve foot ceiling. Cotton sheets as smooth as satin. No roar of road traffic. The sweet tang of mock orange instead of Iberia hot sauce from the crab shack down the street.
And a sound like no other: the low seismic rumble of Max Savoie’s voice.
He leaned with his back against the jamb of the French doors that led out onto the balcony. He was dressed in the easy drape of a black suit, his white shirt open at the neck. Short black hair was still damp from the shower and the hard angles of his face smoothly shaven. With pure morning light reflecting off the green of his eyes, he looked like hot sex in shiny shoes.
She was suddenly wide awake.
“Why are you already dressed?”
“I’ve got an early meeting in the city and I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Disturb wasn’t exactly the verb that came to mind. “When did you get in?”
“Late. I didn’t know you were going to be here. I’m sorry.”
He didn’t sound it. He sound . . . wary.
Her confidence jerked to a shuddering halt. “I should have called first. I shouldn’t have
assumed I’d be welcome.”
“You can come here any time. I’ve told you that.”
So why didn’t she feel like it was true this morning? She sat up, keeping the sheet trapped under her armpits. She needn’t have bothered. There was no spark of anything in his steady stare.
“I wanted to see you,” she began carefully. “I wanted to talk to you about the words we had in your office.”
“What words were those?”
He was angry. Or was it something else? Sometimes he was so hard to read. Hell, most of the time she felt like she was stuck with only the foreign language directions that accompanied their relationship. And there weren’t even any pictures to help.
“I know you didn’t kill that girl. I only asked about you being gone because I wanted to be able to eliminate you completely as a possible suspect. I was just doing my job. It wasn’t personal. I’m sorry if it felt that way.”
He didn’t blink. Finally, some of the stiffness eased from his expression. “I apologize for feeling offended.”
She smiled. Crisis averted. “Besides, Dovion will be able to confirm that the bite marks on the girl weren’t the same as Gautreaux and Surette.”
Max didn’t move. “Was this before or after you decided to have faith in me? Nothing like belief when it’s backed by fact first.”
“Why are you so angry with me?”
That surprised him. “I’m not angry. I never get angry.”
She arched a brow. “Really? Then that must have been someone else threatening to eat that redheaded guy’s face if he didn’t take his hands off me.”
“That wasn’t anger.”
“What was it? Small talk?”
The stern set of his lips twitched.
“If you’re not angry, come over here.”
Caution crept up into his gaze.
“Come here. Coward.”
That brought a flash into his stare. He came away from the doorframe and strode to the bed with his strangely graceful yet powerful stride. He stopped just out of reach.
He took another step and she stood, catching the lapels of his jacket as the sheet dropped away. She touched her mouth to his, then leaned back. His eyes were closed. He never closed his eyes when they kissed.
“Max, what’s wrong? What is it? Please tell me.”
He rested his head on her shoulder, the breath sighing from him wearily. “It’s nothing. I’m
sorry I’m being . . . how do you put it? Pissy? I’m just tired and overwhelmed. I’m not used to having to be everything to everyone with all of them pulling in a different direction.”
“What can I do?”
A seemingly simple request. She touched the back of his head, letting her fingers trickle through his silky hair. She knew enough from listening to Babineau that in a relationship, each partner was supposed to be the other’s port in emotional storms. She was at a loss there. Hers wasn’t a quiet, omforting nature. She preferred to wade right in swinging.
Where had Max learned to be so damned perfect at it? All she had to do was hint an approaching meltdown and he had her wrapped up tight in a cocoon of care. She wanted to do that for him, to be there for him, but she had no nurturing role models to turn to for advice. Babineau’s dewy-eyed wife? No thank you. She’d rather muddle through on her own.
“I’m sorry,” she told him with a cut-to-the-chase candor that wasn’t particularly sensitive, but at least it was honest. “I get so caught up in my job that I sometimes forget that you’re in
His hands came up, one sliding between her shoulders blades, one following the curve of her spine down to the small of her back, both making restless, soothing circles. Her body went liquid. Oh, yes. He was damned near perfect.
“If I’m pushing and pulling it’s because this case is so personal,” she confessed softly. “Everything about it takes me back, makes me feel helpless and scared and angry. I want to nail the man who did this to that poor girl, who made her face all the awful things I had to. Until I have him, I can’t concentrate on anything else, I don’t have time for anything
else, I’m no good for anything else. I know that’s not fair, but I’ll make it up
to you. I will.”
Her tone had grown hard and fierce, vibrating with the passion that made her job more than just that. She hadn’t meant it to take over. She’d wanted to concentrate on him, and here she was shoving him out of the away.
It was a vendetta she had against those who harmed the innocent. She and Mary Kate Malone had gone after their demons in different ways. She became a cop. Mary Kate became Sister Catherine. And both used Max as a tool toward that personal and spiritual vengeance. And what a fierce avenging tool he was.
Max stepped away from the temptation of Charlotte Caissie. He held
her gaze with a flat stare, giving her what she wanted.
“I went to the club last night, after I left your apartment. I went to see to my promise.” He told her the gist of his conversation with Jacques LaRoche. Perhaps unintentionally
confining the information to the dock clan and not including the spooky unknowns
of the North. Nor did he share the disturbing contacts he’d had from that unidentified source. He wasn’t sure he wanted her exploring, for the protection of all involved.
Her expression grew thoughtful, her attention focused beyond the room where she stood naked at the side of his bed. She might as well have been wearing a uniform.
“Do you believe him? Did you get the sense he was trying to cover up for someone?”
Max shrugged. “Yes and no. I don’t think he was lying to me, but I’ve no reason to think he’d be entirely truthful if it wasn’t to his advantage.” He quickly skimmed her sleek nudity. “You
should get dressed, Detective, since you’re already on the clock.”
She eyed her rumpled clothes. “Can I borrow a shirt?” Then she added a bit shyly,
“Maybe I should start leaving a few things here.”
“If you like,” he murmured with an astonishing lack of enthusiasm after he’d campaigned so ardently for her to claim a small portion of his closet. “I have to go.”
“I can give you a lift in if you can wait for me to grab a shower.”
“Thanks, but I’m in a hurry.”
Piqued by his gruff rejection, she jerked a tee shirt out of his dresser, grumbling, “I don’t remember Jimmy Legere running into the city every day.”
“Jimmy had people there that he trusted. I don’t. I have to be on top of things or they’ll get pulled out from under me. I’ll let you know if I find out anything else that might interest you.”
She slipped the shirt over her head. For a moment, he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“Good-bye, Detective.” His words were soft and tight-throated.
As he started to turn away, she said, “Max? When will I see you?”
“I don’t know. It seems like we’re both too busy to find time for each
other.” Something anxious swelled within her heart and filled her uplifted
stare. “Find time.”
He smiled faintly. “I’ll try if you will.”
She waited until she heard the front door close before going out onto the balcony, leaning
there on the railing. He emerged from the shadow of the house to stride across the lawn toward the carriage house where Legere’s marvelous collection of cars was kept. Cars Max didn’t know how to drive. One of which he’d given to her as a gift.
She loved watching him. He moved differently when he thought he was alone. Quicker. So quick, sometimes he seemed to blur. The irony of him going off to work at LE International troubled her. Jimmy Legere’s teasing, relentlessly lovelorn leg breaker now a somber executive in his designer suit and Italian leather. Something gave way in her chest, like a lynchpin holding the gate to her emotions closed.
Gripping the rail, she leaned out and said softly, “I love you, Savoie.”
For a moment he just stood there in the damp grass, the slant of early sunrise gleaming off his dark head. Then he turned, gaze lifting. Nothing changed in his expression as he touched his fingertips to his mouth and waved that kiss her way. His image shimmered, forcing her to blink rapidly, then to act with haste.
“Wait,” she called.
She darted back into his room, returning in seconds.
“You forgot your shoes.”
He caught the red high-tops she tossed down, holding them to his chest in bemusement.
“You’re mine, Max. I’m not going to let them have all of you.”
He levered out of the shiny shoes that had become a frightening symbol of the changes demanded from him. Then he slipped into the Converses—the foot wear of her savior of twelve years ago, of the man who courted her with unflagging determination and simmering innuendo, of the lover who’d stolen her affections and filled her dreams with a sense of safety. He laced them quickly then straightened.
Her desire for him stirred and began to simmer. “You are so hot.”
He smiled. “Get some clothes on before I’m tempted to come back inside.”
Boldly, she gripped the hem of the T-shirt and pulled it up to her chin.
He blinked, then his sober expression split with a wide wicked grin.
“See you soon,” she called down to him, restoring her modesty and his ability to breathe.
“Yes, you will.”
He strode away, leaving the shiny shoes in the grass without a second thought. She
could hear his low chuckle, and was able to let him go.
Max would have never guessed her destination. If he’d suspected, he
would have put a stop to it.
It was late afternoon, happy hour time in most Big Easy establishments. Cheveux du Chien was no exception; alternative species were apparently equally eager to shake off the dust of labor after shift change with a cold one. She’d parked her car at a discreet distance to watch
the comings and goings, while sipping coffee and taking pictures. It still amazed her. Here was a totally unknown race living, working, and breeding right in the heart of the city, under the very noses of its citizens and law enforcement officials. A race with its own culture, its own community, its own rules. And its own predator.
She was all about “live and let live,” but one of them had ended that right for one of hers, and that could not be ignored. She had a plan in mind, not a great one, but it was a start. She’d show the pictures to Sandra Cummings’s friends and see if any of them were
familiar. Maybe it was as simple as an imagined slight on the sidewalk, a discouraged advance at the bar that had triggered the attack.
She glanced down to fit her empty cup into its holder and turned back with viewfinder to her eye. But instead of focusing on a group of laborers on the opposite sidewalk, her screen filled with a row of sharp canine teeth.
She lunged backwards, trying to scramble over the gearshift column as hands reached through the open window to grip Max’s jacket and drag her toward the door. Three of them stood next to her car, and none of them looked like they were there to ask her to join them for a drink. With her elbows pinned between the seat and the wheel, and her holster at the small of her back, there was no room to grab for her gun. She went for the automatic window. Before it had whirred half way up, one of them smashed it off the track.
Writhing and cursing, she was pulled against the window frame with enough force to split the skin on her forehead. The feel of warm blood beginning to ooze sparked her temper and determination. She popped the door handle and threw herself against it, knocking the one who’s had a hold of her off balance. She came out low, in a roll, slipping between them to come up to her feet, her pistol quickly wedged up beneath one’s chin.
“I’m a detective with the NOPD. Back off,” she snarled at the other two. When they didn’t heed the warning, she nudged the barrel more meaningfully. “Whatdaya say, sport? Wanna take one for the team, or do you tell them to stand down?”
The one she held onto dropped and feinted to the side. A jarring blow to her forearms from another numbed her fingers and her pistol clattered to the ground. Blood dripping into her eyes, she’d assumed an aggressive stance, ready to take on the three of them when her elbows were suddenly clamped from behind.
“Here now, what’s this? Easy, Detective Pretty. Nobody’s gonna hurt you.” She recognized the drawling tones of Jacques LaRoche’s second in command, the red-headed Philo ibideaux.
Contrarily she kicked out at the one closest to her, the toe of her boot in his kneecap sending him stumbling back with a howl. Tibideaux gave her an eyeball-rattling shake. “Stop it now.” To the others, he said brusquely, “What’s going on?”
Her camera was recovered from the car, a damning bit of evidence quickly crushed etween heel and pavement.
Cee Cee demanded, “I want to see LaRoche. Take me to him.”
“Do you now? Does Savoie know you’re here?”
She said nothing.
“I thought not.” Tibideaux pushed her to one of the others then, bent to pick up her gun. “Hang onto her. Careful, she bites. And be careful you don’t go bruising her, or Savoie might just bite off your head.”
With Tibideaux leading the way, they dragged her down the alleyway to the entrance of the Shifter club. Once inside, she realized her mistake. She had no advantage here. She was in an alien world where her badge meant nothing.
The only way she was going to get out alive was on sheer bravado and Max
LaRoche was tending bar for the first-shift crew, who still wore their work clothes and smelled like the docks. They were immediately aware of her, picking up her human scent then turning almost as one to stare in hostile challenge. The low lighting glinted off ruby flickers in their eyes.
Only LaRoche offered a welcoming smile, feral showing of teeth.
“Detective, what a surprise. If you’re looking for Savoie, he’s not here.”
“She ain’t here to socialize,” Philo told him. With a lithe move, he vaulted the bar and leaned in close to whisper something to his boss. Though there was no change in his expression, Cee Cee could feel LaRoche tense.
“Take over here for me, Tib, whilst I make some talk with the detective.” He handed Tibideaux the rag he was using to swab out glasses in exchange for the police-issue weapon and circled out from behind the bar. He was huge, easily six foot six or better and all of it bulky muscle. He took Cee Cee’s elbow, his dinner-plate sized hand gentle but firm. “Let’s you and me sit down a spell, Detective. You want something from the bar? On the house.”
“No. Thank you.”
He steered her through the crowd, up into the top tier of tables that were empty this early in the day. From there they could oversee the room and not be overheard, since the sound system was pounding decibels down like a heavy rain. LaRoche held out a chair for her,
then turned the one opposite around so he could straddle the seat and lean meaty
forearms upon its back as he studied her.
“Are you stupid?” he asked mildly.
“You don’t have the look of stupid about you, Detective, but I could be wrong. Look down there. That’s no petting zoo, darlin’. With half a reason, they’ll turn you into a bar snack.”
“Is that what one of them did to Sandra Cummings?”
He said nothing for a long minute. When he finally spoke, his tone was rough with impatience. “How you think it is that you knew nothing of us? How you think we live here, right in the middle of all you Uprights like we was invisible? Because we work to stay that way, cher. You think you can clicketty- click your pictures and show them to the world? I don’t think so. What are we gonna do about you, Detective?”
“Help me do my job so others won’t figure out what I know. Others who have no reason to keep quiet about it.”
He frowned at that. “You think if I knew who did this careless, dangerous thing, it wouldn’t have been dealt with by now? And believe you me, Detective, our ways of dealing with them who threaten our secret are a lot more final than yours. That’d be true even if it was Savoie’s doing, now that he’s one of ours.”
That set her back in surprise then had her bristling up defensively. “It wasn’t Max.”
“I didn’t say it was, darlin’. I’m just saying that what he done in the past, him and that other fella, brought a lot of attention to things we don’t want considered. You done a right fine job of tidying up after Ben Spratt, hiding what he was behind a bunch of smoke and
mirrors. We appreciated that, but know you done it for Max, not us. But if we go down, he goes down. There’s no way to separate him from us any more.”
“I need to find this killer. If I don’t, someone else will. And that someone else won’t be playing kissy face with Savoie or give a damn about any of you.”
LaRoche chuckled at her gruff tone and gritty logic. “Does he know you’re here?”
“I don’t run my investigation through him.”
A bigger laugh. “You’re not stupid, cher, you’re dangerous. And I like that about you.” Then he sobered. “If one of our kind is killing yours, it’s our problem as much as yours, Detective. If we find out before you do, we’ll take care of it our way. Now go back to your world and forget about ours, lest you become the next statistic.”
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