Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Straight Martini

by Michael Weitz

Let’s talk about olives. Specifically, green olives. I’ve always been a fan of green olives, the kind with the cheery red pimento stuffed inside; they have a flavor that can’t be compared to anything else, they’re just…olivey. As a kid I remember pictures, posters and TV ads for restaurants, depicting perfectly stacked and delectable looking sandwiches, their sharply cut triangular halves topped with a perfect green olive, all of it held together by a toothpick.

I don’t think that’s where my love of the green olive came from though. There’s a story in my family of how I ate an entire jar of green olives (pimentos included) when I was 3 years old. I hid under a table and gorged until the jar was empty and then promptly vomited all over the living room wall. To this day my mother still thinks they used green olives in the famous scene from The Exorcist. But I wasn’t deterred. My love of green olives lives on.

Which brings us to today. While the ubiquitous orb is no longer prominently featured as a sandwich topper, it is integral to a good straight vodka martini. It’s here that I need to make a confession. I don’t particularly like martinis. My wife, however, does, and she says I make a pretty good one, so I’m going to tell you my secret.

Actually, it’s not much of a secret and by now I’m sure you’ve figured it out. Olives. Mmmm, green olives.

Okay, obsession moment over.


The Fixings
martini shaker
good, non-flavored vodka
dry vermouth
ice
green olives

I know flavored vodkas are all the rage, but imagine eating raspberries and green olives together in the same bite. Exactly. We’re making a straight martini here, a la James Bond.

Prepare the Glass
Ideally, though not necessary, you have a classic martini glass (an inverted cone on a stem). Why? Because martinis are served cold and holding the glass by the stem prevents your hand from warming the drink. There are a couple of ways to prepare your glass. The one I prefer is to keep your favorite martini glass in the freezer so it will be nice and frosty. Another way is to put some ice and water in the shaker, mix them up a bit to get the water super cold and then pour it all into your glass and let it sit a few moments. I don’t care for this option though because any water in the shaker can dilute the drink, but I’ve seen bartenders do it so maybe I’m just being picky.

The Method
Fill the shaker half way with ice cubes.

Add two (2) jiggers of your favorite vodka (remember, non-flavored).

Next add a splash of dry vermouth. This is really all about personal taste so you’ll need to experiment. When I add a splash, I tilt the bottle down and back up again rather quickly. If I’m too speedy I repeat the process. If you like your martinis dry, once may be enough! But you must add vermouth in order for this drink to be a martini. I have a friend who likes his martinis so dry, he waves an open bottle of vermouth over the shaker like a voodoo shaman so only the fumes will settle on the ice cubes. That, my friends, is not the driest of martinis, it’s vodka on ice. So, again, add a splash or two of vermouth to taste.

Cap the shaker and get your groove on! Shake that shaker! Shake it until it turns frosty and your hands hurt from the iciness. This will ensure your martini is completely mixed and at a nice cold serving temperature.

Once you’re satisfied with your shaking, quickly spear a couple of olives with a toothpick; personally I like three olives on the stick. Place the skewered olives in the martini glass and then gently pour your drink over them. If you’ve never used a martini shaker before, the ice stays in it. Depending on the model you have, the top may have a built in strainer, or if you prefer a hand held one, that’s cool too.

This martini is basic and straightforward to make, but the secret is all in how it’s prepared. Just like a chess game in my book, Even Dead Men Play Chess, there’s an art to preparing something that’s to be appreciated.

All my best,
Michael Weitz


Sit back and enjoy your martini while you glimpse into Michael's novel.

Making house calls or meeting people in public places is how Ray Gordon makes his living. He’s not a doctor. He’s not a prostitute. Ray Gordon is a chess teacher.

When one of Ray’s students, Walter Kelly, is found dead in his shop, the police and his family let it go as an accident. Ray, however, doesn’t buy it. As a former cop with a lingering curiosity, Ray snoops around and stumbles into the murky world of methamphetamine, the worst drug epidemic of our time.

The problem? Walter Kelly was sixty-five years old and his only addictions were woodworking and chess. How does a sixty-five-year-old man become involved with illegal drugs? Why is a neighbor glad Walter’s dead? And just how do dead men play chess?

EXCERPT
To take my mind off the task at hand, I thought about Brian Kelly. Was it just the cabin going to waste that rubbed him the wrong way or was it the land value he was afraid of missing out on? Real estate assessments had been big news over the last month or two. Housing prices and land deals had gone berserk and sellers were making massive profits. Maybe Brian was in trouble financially and he just couldn’t take it anymore? Walt refused to sell and Brian killed him for it, knowing the cabin would eventually come into his hands or he would at least be able to talk his mother into putting the land up for sale.

Outside, I heard Ed Carter’s back door creak open and closed. I poured fresh water over the floor and started mopping it up. If Ed planned on being neighborly again, I didn’t think he needed to witness the clean-up process. But after several minutes passed without an appearance from the Kellys’ neighbor, I began my attack on the table saw with a scouring pad.

Just as I got into a nice scrubbing rhythm, Morphy growled low in his throat and raised his head off of his paws. I stopped and watched him. His ears were erect and his gaze was on the window behind me. Goose flesh erupted on my arms. To hide the shiver that ran down my spine, I resumed wiping down the table saw with calm casualness. I kept my attention focused on Morphy, though, and he growled again. This time, the hair over his shoulders stiffened and rose up as his emotions kicked in. Someone was watching or trying to look in the window. Morphy wouldn’t get so angry over something like a skunk or a cat.

I twisted around just as Morphy leapt to his feet and barked. Someone ducked down before I could see a face. I ran to the door and pulled it open. Morphy tore around the corner, barking after the intruder and I followed as close as I could.

In the darkness of Margie Kelly’s backyard, I saw Morphy’s blond fur disappear into the black shadow of Walt’s shop. He chased a dim figure, which ran toward the back of the property, to Helen Parker’s house. I ran full out once I saw the shadowy form of the person who had been spying through the window. Gone were the trepidations of twisted ankles and bloodied shins from unseen objects lying hidden on the grass.

I ran.

For a limited time, the bestselling book that started the Ray Gordon series, Even Dead Men Play Chess, is available for only $0.99 on Kindle!

Even Dead Men Play Chess
Amazon
CreateSpace

Michael Weitz is an award-winning author who grew up in the Pacific Northwest, usually reading anything he could get his hands on. He wrote his first novel in the 6th Grade -- an eight page rip-off of Star Wars.

A variety of jobs including waiter, gas station attendant, truck driver and a host of others, helped shape his world. After college he landed in the television industry where he wrote and produced a multitude of award-winning commercials, two documentaries about Mt. St. Helens and various other projects.

After a few years in Phoenix, AZ, Michael, his wife, and their dogs are back in the Pacific Northwest. Currently working on the next Ray Gordon mystery, Michael may also be found reading, playing chess or shooting pool. As an avid photographer, he enjoys traveling anywhere picturesque with his wife.

Learn more about Michael Weitz on his website and Goodreads.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 25, 2015

REMEMBER

by SS Hampton, Sr.

Today is Memorial Day. It is a 3-day weekend for much of the country—a weekend of family get-togethers, BBQs, and great sales. That is fine.

But please do not forget the real meaning of Memorial Day. Though there had been several local observances, a national Decoration Day was created by “an organization of Union veterans” on 5 May 1868, to be observed on 30 May of that year by the nation in “decorating the graves of war dead with flowers.”


It was after World War I that Memorial Day came to recognize all of those who fought and died in America’s wars. From the American Revolution (1775-1783) to Desert Shield/Desert Storm (1990-1991), the total American combat deaths number 651,031; the greatest number of war dead was 291,557 suffered by the Greatest Generation during World War II (1941-1945) .

As for the Global War On Terrorism (2001-), or the Long War as some may call it, according to the Defense Casualty Analysis System, 5,363 men and women have died in combat.

Unfortunately, the world is not a safe and secure place. Yet, we know that in our nation there will never be a shortage of uniformed volunteers willing to stand between unarmed men, women, and innocent children, and the senseless evil in the world.

On Memorial Day this year remember the “National Moment of Remembrance”—at 3:00 PM local time across the country, everyone is encouraged to take a moment to reflect on those who have given their lives for our country. Whatever war they fought in, all of those who made the ultimate sacrifice have names, whether those names loom large in history books or are known only to their families.

And some of us know the names of comrades who made that sacrifice during the GWOT.

Finally, if you have never heard Taps, the final farewell to fallen comrades, take a moment to listen. Take a moment to remember, and to whisper, “Good bye. And thank you.”


~Stan


SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.

He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.

In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently enrolled as an art student at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Hampton can be found at:
Dark Opus Press - Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing - Melange Books -
Musa Publishing - MuseItUp Publishing - Goodreads Author Page
Amazon Author Page - Amazon UK

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Easy Sunday Super

Sunday suppers are always a challenge with our busy schedules. We want a meal that’s tasty, easy, and doesn’t take an hour to prepare. This menu is perfect for that criteria. The pasta salad reached perfection through the taste buds of my daughter, grand-girls, and four nieces who all know what they like. Make the salad the day before so the flavors blend.

Grilled Sirloin Steak & Cheese Sandwiches
4 fresh Kaiser rolls, cut in half
1½ pounds sirloin steak, about 1 inch thick
1 roma tomato
4 slices mozzarella, provolone, or horseradish cheese, not too thin
Olive oil
Garlic powder, NOT garlic salt

Preheat a heavy 8-10 inch skillet or griddle over medium-high heat.

Brush a light coating of olive oil on the inside of each half of the rolls. Sprinkle on a little garlic powder. Grill rolls oil side down until lightly browned. Remove to a cutting board.

Slice the sirloin into thin pieces lengthwise. You’ll end up with about 7 slices. Drizzle a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add meat and sauté about 2 minutes or until done to your preference. Well done is not good for this recipe.

Turn the steak, add a tomato slice, and top with cheese. Cover pan until cheese melts.

Lay meat on the bottom buns, cover with the top one, and serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches

Pasta Salad
3 cups dried med. shells, macaroni, or any curly pasta
1½ cups real mayonnaise
1 tbsp. sour cream
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder, NOT garlic salt
¼ tsp. thyme
1 cup celery, sliced thin
4 green onions, sliced thin with a large portion of green
2 large hard boiled eggs, chopped fine
¼ rounded cup Italian style or roasted red pepper, chopped, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions. Be careful not to overcook. The pasta should be firm yet tender. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until completely cool. Spread the noodles over a dish towel to dry thoroughly while you make the dressing.

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and thyme in large bowl, stirring well after each addition.

Add celery, onions, egg. Stir well. Lay red pepper on a paper towel to absorb a little of the oil. Move pepper to a cutting board, chop, and blend into the salad.

Fold in pasta. This may look like too much sauce, but it’s not. The pasta absorbs sauce as it sits. Spoon the mixture into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Turn this dish into a complete summer lunch or supper by adding a tuna in water pouch. Serve with chilled red grapes and fresh croissants. Don’t forget a bottle of chilled white wine!

Award-winning author Sloane Taylor is a sensual woman who believes humor and and good food are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes romances that takes you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

Taylor was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. Studly, her mate for life, and Sloane now live in a small home in Indiana and enjoy the change from city life. She is also an avid cook.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website. Check out her blog for more tasty recipes. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Make Your Garden Grow

My longtime friend author Emma Lane visits today with what I hope will become a series of her expertise on plants, how to use them in our gardens, and what to do when a season ends. The blog is all yours, Emma!

When I moved to Western New York (a very long time ago), I bought a wildflower book to learn all the native plants, names, uses, colors. Although I’m now into the study of cultivated varieties, I still love the free offerings of nature found under rotting logs, beside a burbling stream.

This small white daisy-like blossom makes an appearance with its jagged leaf wrapped around the stem like an over-sized coat. Only when the temps warm does the leaf open to expose its precious blossom. Horrible nickname of Blood Root, real name Sanguinaria, it’s listed as a medicinal plant. (I didn’t spot any vampires.). Some may be allergic to the red sap. Rumor has it listed as a historical favorite of Native Americans for paint. The pretty yellow one is Celandine, which sports bright yellow sap with the same uses as its neighbor. (Marsh marigold family.)

Tips:
Annual gardens (only lives once, but makes seeds) are best for intense splashes of color. Perennials (comes back yearly) are more interesting with different foliage textures. The blooms last only 6 weeks or so; plant varieties that show at different time of the summer, such as:

Spring: daffodils, bleeding heart
Summer: Delphinimum, Rudbeckia, Asiatic lilies, Crocosmia; Fall:Butterfly Bush, mums, Hibiscus.

Don’t forget to throw in a sunflower seed or two for the birds.

Happy planting!
~Emma



In the five years Detective Fowler has lived and worked in Hubbard, NY, never has he been forced to investigate a murder, until now. Meet the citizens of Hubbard, NY in MURDER in the NEIGHBORHOOD as they react to a criminal in their midst.







MURDER in the JUNKYARD sees the demise of a man no one likes, a romance, and plans for a wedding as Detective Fowler and his friends keep their small-town America free from danger.




THE GLASS CAT is a sweet story about an elderly lady, her friend and neighbor, and a wicked nephew. There’s a romance brewing as well. It’s a shorty, but I think you’ll finish it with a smile on your face.







Read more about the cozy mysteries by Janis Lane on Amazon.


Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma's face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two Creative Treats

I'm excited to bring you Leigh Goff, a talented Young Adult author who blends fantasy and romance into her remarkable stories. Her novel Disenchanted releases through Mirror World Publishing in print and eBook on June 1. The kitchen is all yours, Leigh!

These cookies are just what a white witch like sixteen-year-old Sophie Greensmith from my debut YA fantasy, Disenchanted, would bake after a long day of concocting potions with exotic flowers from her aunt’s enchanted garden.

Disenchanted takes place in Wethersfield, Connecticut, the home of the first American witch trials (not Salem!). As descendants of the original witches, Sophie and her aunt practice white magic and work in a little shop called Scents and Scentsabilities. Their organic bath and body products like Tulips to Kiss Stick to lushify lips and Forever First Love Lip Balm to lock in that true love are crafted to benefit the ordinaries in town. However, not all of the ordinaries approve and when danger catches up to Sophie, she’s left with an impossible choice—turning to black magic, a forever choice, to save the life of her forbidden first love. Will her true love still want her when her heart is touched by darkness?

This yummy recipe from the Foothill House B&B in California includes ginger to soothe the stomach, cinnamon to reduce puffiness, and walnuts to help you deal with stress.

Foothill House Sweet Dreams Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1½ cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. salt
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375ºF.

Cream butter and mix in brown sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium-sized bowl.

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt and blend into butter mixture.

Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts (Sometimes I leave these out or substitute pecans.).

Refrigerate until dough is firm.

Lightly grease baking sheets.

Break off small pieces of dough and roll into 1" rounds. Dredge in powdered sugar.

Arrange on prepared baking sheets at least 2" apart.

Bake 10 minutes.

Cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring to racks to cool completely.

Store in airtight container.

Yields 6 dozen cookies

Here is a brief intro to my novel that appeals to people of all ages. I hope you like it, too.

Disenchanted
A forbidden love. A dark curse. An impossible choice...

Descended from a powerful Wethersfield witch, sixteen-year-old Sophie is struggling to hide her awkwardly emerging magic, but that’s the least of her worries. When a dangerous thief tries to steal her mysterious heirloom necklace, she is rescued by the one person she’s forbidden to fall for, a descendant of the man who condemned her ancestor to hang. He carries a dark secret that could destroy them both unless Sophie learns how to tap into the mysterious power of her diamond bloodcharm. She will have to uncover dark secrets from both of their families' wicked pasts and risk everything, including her soul to save them from a witch's true love curse, but it will take much more than that.


Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it's also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area's great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers' Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Musa Publishing in December 2014. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch's Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.






Monday, May 11, 2015

Do You Play Favourites?

by Carol Browne

I keep few books in my house. I prefer to pass them on to my friends. However, there is one special book I will never part with and that is my 1945 hardback edition of Precious Bane by Mary Webb.

The book features an introduction by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, written at 10 Downing Street in 1928, in which he says of the author, “Her sensibility is so acute and her power over words so sure and swift that one who reads some passage in Whitehall has almost the physical sense of being in Shropshire cornfields.”

First published in 1924, Precious Bane tells the story of flawed heroine, Prudence Sarn, whose ‘hare-shotten lip’ means that as far as her neighbours are concerned she is cursed with ‘the devil’s mark’. It is only weaver Kester Woodseaves who can see beyond this disfigurement to the true beauty of Prue’s soul.

Prue’s goodness and gentle nature are in sharp contrast to her brother Gideon’s ruthless striving for worldly success, and descriptions of the landscape that sustains them are woven into the dramas of their lives to create a rich tapestry. Thanks to the author’s skill with words, it is safe to say that Nature is not merely a background to the story but also seems to be a character in it too. The narrative is, says Prue, “the story of us all at Sarn, of Mother and Gideon and me, and Jancis (that was so beautiful) and Wizard Beguildy, and the two or three other folk that lived in those parts…”

How to describe the style of the book? It depicts a rural England around the time of Waterloo (1815), a place of meres, country lore, dragonflies, looms and spinning-wheels. There is a fair scattering of dialect words (fascinating rather than baffling!) and curious customs such as ‘sin-eating’ and ‘telling the bees’. It is reminiscent of Larkrise to Candleford, had it been penned by a committee of authors that included Thomas Hardy, Dickens and Emily Bronte. It is a book to relax with and savour. The pace was slower in 1924 and they liked their paragraphs LONG! But the story is well paced, the heroine immensely likeable, and there’s plenty of dramatic conflict and jeopardy to keep you hooked throughout.

I have read this book many times and, having just opened it and looked at the first line of Chapter One – “It was at a love-spinning that I saw Kester first”, – I know I am going to read it again very soon! (If you want to try this book, please don’t spoil it for yourself and look at the last page. The ending is perfect!)

Mary Webb née Meredith was born in the village of Leighton on 25th March, 1881. She and her husband worked as market gardeners for a time and had their own stall on Shrewsbury market. She wrote five novels and a volume of essays on nature. Mary died on 8th October, 1927 and was buried in Shrewsbury.

Authors die but they are never forgotten. They live on in the work they leave behind. As Mary Webb said herself in her Foreward to Precious Bane:

“We are to-morrow’s past. Even now we slip away like those pictures painted on the moving dials of antique clocks – a ship, a cottage, sun and moon, a nosegay. The dial turns, the ship rides up and sinks again, the yellow painted sun has set, and we, that were the new thing, gather magic as we go. The whirr of the spinning-wheels has ceased in our parlours, and we hear no more the treadle of the loom, the swift, silken noise of the flung shuttle, the intermittent thud of the batten. But imagination hears them, and theirs is the melody of romance.”

~Carol


Carole Browne writes speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is also a ghost blog writer, proofreader, copy editor, and copywriter. Along with a passion for gardening, Carol is an avid animal lover. Stay connected with Carol on Facebook.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

New Release for USA TODAY BEST SELLING AUTHOR

SAM CHEEVER

SanguiBook2
She called out to him through time and space…an impossible dream…a hopeful imagining. Having heard her plea, he would not stop until he’d claimed her.

Mavim aches for the woman he left behind on Sanguinoss. She was a princess, a member of the royal family of elite vamps. His Amante…his love. Though he dreams of her every night, and pines for her every single day, he knows he cannot have her. He believes her dead.

But when Mavim intercepts the ghost of a communication from his lovely Fania, a communication which was probably engaged weeks or months earlier, he realizes she might still live!

Can Mavim find the only woman he’s ever loved and save her from an evil nemesis who covets her for his own and will stop at nothing to have her? Or will he finally look into his lover’s eyes…touch her satin skin…only to feel her slip from his grasp all over again?
flame

Mavim AgDurness closed his eyes and set his jaw against the ravening blood lust. His stomach growled its need, the muscles around it tightening as it twisted hungrily. He’d gone longer and longer without taking sustenance of late, so the debilitating hunger had become a nearly constant companion over his months on the primitive planet. Though the surface of the thriving alien planet called Earth was covered in walking, talking edibles, snacking from them was like eating nothing but mealfollows. All empty calories and no real sustenance.

Mavim snacked only when his body absolutely demanded it. And then only quickly, in the dark, with such a sense of revulsion he could barely keep the blood from boiling back up and spewing out on his shoes.

Always when he fed, he would see her face. So pale, so perfect. It was his undoing. For Mavim, no other female would do. None could take her place.

So he suspected he would simply fade away over time, as was the Sangui way of dying. And be launched into the sky for his final journey to Maja, protector of souls. Then his pain would finally end.

The comm unit spat sparks and sound flared briefly from it. Mavim’s head snapped up in surprise and crashed against the underside of the console. He swore in several intergalactic languages and pushed out from under the console, grabbing his tools as he moved into the open.

The ship’s communications had been fried when they crossed the atmospheric barriers to Earth, and he’d been trying to get them working again for months, scavenging resources from other parts of the ship and trying to repurpose things he’d managed to locate on Earth.

It had been long since the Sangui had heard from others of their kind. Though only a relative few had managed to escape the dying planet Sanguinoss, the small band of elite vampires living on Earth were keenly aware of the existence of others who’d escaped before the infection took them down.

And even more keenly aware of those who hadn’t managed to escape.

The lights on the comm flared to life and a blurry figure appeared briefly before snapping into blackness again.

It had spun too quickly through the visual cogs within the unit to be recognizable, but Mavim had been able to tell it was a woman.

Lights flared again. The same shape, slightly clearer this time, exploded onto the screen. “Mav...” Renegade star spikes ate the rest of the transmission, turning the words she spoke to a garbled mash. But Mavim had heard enough to make his pulse jump. He dropped his tools and slammed a hand over the comm, quickly adjusting levers until the image he’d seen flashed past again and then snapping a lock on the transmission before it could fitz away.

The pale oval staring back at him was marred by filth. The rich mahogany brown of her curls lank with oil. But the lush, cranberry lips were unmistakable.

The soft lilt of her bedroom voice distinctive.

Mavim had heard it every night in his dreams since he’d risked life and future to place her mangled form inside a burial capsule and send her on her final passage to Maja.

“Mav… Help… Gleschutions have tak…”

And there the transmission faded away, leaving behind only the terrified gaze of the woman he loved above all else. And the horrifying realization that she was in danger. And that she’d risked everything to try to get word to him.

Mavim touched the screen, tracing it with a shaky finger as tears slipped hot and unnoticed down his cheeks.

Blood tears.

Tears of deep, unending agony.

Then the comm blinked out again and her visage was ripped from his sight. Mavim threw back his head and roared, mad with the agony of her loss. Yet again.

BUY LINKS:

Amazon.com - Amazon.ca - Amazon.uk - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks - Kobo Books - Smashwords

GIVEAWAY

In honor of this fun new release, Sam is offering readers a chance at a $100 Amazon Gift Card! Look for the Reader Appreciation Giveaway information in the back of each book! (Giveaway is available until May 11th)

USA Today Bestselling Author Sam Cheever writes romantic paranormal/fantasy and mystery/suspense, creating stories that celebrate the joy of love in all its forms. Known for writing great characters, snappy dialogue, and unique and exhilarating stories, Sam is the award-winning author of 50+ books and has been writing for over a decade under several noms de plume.


If you haven't already connected, Sam would love it if you Liked/Followed her wherever you enjoy hanging out online. Here are her online haunts:

Newsletter - Website - Amazon Author Page - Facebook - Twitter - Pinterest - Tsu

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

The Bar is Open

by Viki Lyn

Redemption is my latest book written with Vina Grey, a m/m fantasy featuring angels and demons. In our world, angels have a difficult time handling human alcohol. They have their own liquor of choice = ambrosia which gives them a slight buzz. So when we wrote a scene where Uriel visits a gay bar in San Francisco, we had to come up with an appropriate drink – one that a besotted bartender would make for the beautiful angel.

To my surprise, we found the perfect cocktail – Angel Face! (Although jealous Izar muttered that Hot Devilish Daiquiri would have been more appropriate!)

Angel Face Cocktail
1/3 Dry Gin
1/3 Apricot Brandy
1/3 Calvados

Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

Enjoy!

Viki and Vina



An introvert and artist with a healthy dose of skepticism about life and love =Viki. An extrovert and academic and a die-hard romantic =Vina. It was so not a match made in heaven. But Viki and Vina discovered a mutual love of traveling around the world, the paranormal, good coffee, and a healthy admiration for their respective creativity. Sitting in a coffee shop one day, they started brainstorming about story plots and Vince and John and the car crash in the bakery. A story was born. Vina writes the sappy romance and Viki tempers it. Between them, they managed to find their boys a ‘happily ever after’.

Thou shall not kill.

An angel who sins may never find love again.

Archangel Raziel had no choice. He would break the Infinite’s commandment again to save his lover, Uriel, from a demon’s talons. Yet even the Infinite’s most trusted archangel cannot avoid punishment. Forced to go through the Cleansing, Raziel loses his memories and is renamed Izar, a Protector sworn to kill for the angels.

Years later, Izar is summoned to work alongside Uriel to capture a killer. Izar is shocked when his bloodlust spikes hot for the archangel. But a relationship between Protectors and angels is forbidden. As they rush to find the killer, their passion plays into the demon’s plan. Izar will have to choose between life and death if he is to save Uriel again.


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Multi-published and award winner, Viki Lyn is a successful writer of gay paranormal and contemporary romance. After reading and collecting whatever she could get her hands on, she wrote her first male/male romance. And that was ‘it’ for her. She never looked back. Viki travels the world in search of inspiration. She considers herself blessed to have traveled to many of the mystical sites she had dreamed about as a child. Her travel experiences have been influential in creating her paranormal worlds. When she needs to relax, she calls a friend to meet at their favorite coffee house. When the chattering in her head goes off the charts, she plays one of her favorite RPGs on her PS4 and immerses herself in the world of dragons and magic.

Learn more about Viki Lyn on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Vina Grey has lived in eight different states and if her family hadn’t grounded her, she’d be on the move again. So, instead she writes, living out her adventure-lust in her books. She made up stories in her head from the time she could register thoughts, so yes, there are many more books to come. Coffee, chocolate, Scotch, Kindle books, and traveling to far away lands are among her…ahem…very few vices. Actually they can be lands close by, too. But at the end of the day, to write a love story that makes a reader sigh with satisfaction–that’s what it’s all about. Vina Grey loves writing about romance. Two people finding each other, the two-step before they get together and the happily ever after -- really is the best story ever. Throw in some paranormal elements and she's in heaven. Vampires and cops, anyone? Her other love is traveling. From the deserts of the Middle East to the temples in Japan to the rice fields in Bali, she finds inspiration for her stories in every country she visits.

Vina loves to jabber away with anyone about books, so drop her a line. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Learn more about Viki Lyn and Vina Grey on their Author Facebook Page.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Good Things Happen When You Don't Let Go

“What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche



My sword and sorcery fantasy novel, Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel has just been published. I couldn’t be more pleased, especially considering its inauspicious beginnings. You see, I originally wrote Tournament of Chance as a short story (around 8,000 words). I submitted the short to several fantasy magazines, and although the feedback was positive, I couldn’t find a magazine willing to publish it. Battered and bruised, I ordinarily would have chucked the manuscript into a folder marked REJECTS, licked my wounds, and moved on to something else.

But I just couldn’t let it go.

I liked the concept of a young woman striving to break through the glass ceiling between commoners and royalty by honing her skills as an archer. In the back of my mind, I knew there was more to the story than the 8,000 words I’d written. So in between revising, editing, and promoting my other titles, I allowed the full-length version of Tournament of Chance to unfold. Unlike other, more disciplined authors, I usually let my stories discover themselves. As the novel moved along, I was actually quite surprised at all the twists, turns, and events in store for me. For example, who knew time travel and shape shifters would find their way into the mix? It took about six months to finish Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel, and it incorporates many of my favorite things – peacocks, lava tubes, caves, volcanoes, dragons, wizards, romance, and magic. It also deals with some very human foibles, such as deceit, treachery, false hope, envy, abuse of power, and pride.

So if it weren’t for the rejections I experienced, Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel would never have been published as a full-length novel. Perhaps it’s the fighting Irish in me, but when I get knocked down, I get up again…and then I write some more. I’m not sure I agree with the Nietzsche quote, above, one hundred percent of the time, but it’s better than the alternative.

Has rejection ever motivated you to succeed?

~ S.G. Rogers

Here is a brief intro to S.G,'s latest release.

If Heather manages to win the Tournament of Chance, she’ll be the first commoner to earn a place at court. Instead of a glorious victory, however, she’s arrested and marked for execution. After a daring escape, she joins the Dragon Rebels, who seek to overthrow the despotic monarchy and restore the former kingdom of Ormaria. Amongst the rebels are three shape-shifting wizards who claim to be rulers from the past. On a perilous quest to free the wizards’ magic, Heather battles wild dragons, vicious predators, angry trolls, and unexpected traitors. When a horrendous accident sends her back in time to fulfill a mysterious prophecy, she must rely on her warrior skills, wits, and endurance to survive.

To read an excerpt from Tournament of Chance: Dragon Rebel, please click here.

To read excerpts from other books by S.G. Rogers please click here.



S.G. Rogers lives with her husband and son in romantic Savannah, Georgia, on an island populated by deer, exotic birds, and the occasional gator. She's owned by two Sphynx cats, Houdini and Nikita. Movies, books, and writing are her passions.

Learn more about S.G. Rogers on her blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out the website for the Sweet Romance written by S.G. Rogers.