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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fall Into Winter Romance Giveaway Hop International

Click HERE see the list of blogs participating to this hop!

THE GRAND PRIZE
$50 gift card!

It’s sponsored by the Western Kisses Old West Christmas Romance Anthology. This book is being released at the end of October and has stories written by bestselling authors like Carre White and Kirsten Osbourne.

MYTHICAL BOOKS' PRIZE
Any Romance book, at winner's choice and up to 17$

MYTHICAL BOOKS' Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free OR you want ebooks from Smashwords or Amazon 
The winner will be announced here, on Mythical Books

Good luck! 
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Dystopian Giveaway Hop International

Click HERE or HERE see the list of blogs participating to this hop!

This hop features Dystopian Books, so

THE PRIZE is:
ANY BOOK at WINNER's CHOICE and up to 17$!

If you need suggestions, check out this awesome list of Dystopian books on Goodreads.

Good luck! 
MYTHICAL BOOKS' Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free OR you want ebooks from Smashwords or Amazon 
The winner will be announced here, on Mythical Books
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Winners Haunted Open House and Wicked Warriors Halloween Hop

The Winner is:

Ramona M aka GFC: ramy

Congratulations!
You have 7 days to claim your prize by sending us an email with your full name and address and the book you want.

The winner in Raffle form here

The Winner is:

Sienna Snow

Congratulations!
You have 7 days to claim your prize by sending us an email with your full name and address and the book you want.

The winner in Raffle form here

Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway Phantom Summer by Amy Sparling

Published: September, 2013

Description:

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Gray moves to Sterling Island to get over her dead boyfriend. Mom’s cool with letting her crash on the couch, but Taylor needs to get a job before the lights are cut off again.

When the tall, dark and crazy Raine Tsunami offers her a position at his thriving ghost tour business, she figures it’s an easy way to make some cash. Taylor isn’t afraid of ghosts--that crap is as fake as her mom’s boob job. She loves their adventures on the historic island, especially the secret places he shows her when the crowds go home. So what if all the ghost stories are just legends?

When Taylor comes face to face with a ghost and Raine crosses the line between friend and boyfriend--Taylor’s new life collides with her haunted past. If murdered people end up as ghosts, then that someone she was trying to forget is probably watching her.

GUEST POST
5 Reasons it’s Great to Have a Pen Name from Cheyanne Young, writing as her pen name Amy Sparling 

5. You can create your own authorly-sounding name. Does your real name suck? Is it hard to pronounce or spell and would make it difficult for potential fans to find you? Pick your own name. Make it awesome. 

4. You can write in different genres. Want to write kid’s books and adult books? Get a pen name. It helps you market yourself with two different brands and it also prevents readers of one genre (ie- kid’s books) from looking up your other books and accidently reading something in a genre that’s not for them. 

3. Secrecy. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have something to hide. Maybe it does. Maybe you write erotica and don’t want your family to know. Or maybe you are simply a shy person and aren’t ready for the world to know you’re an author. This was more of why I chose a pen name. It’s hard putting yourself out there knowing you can be rejected. Pen names allow you to publish without losing a piece of yourself. 

2. You need a second chance. Did you jump the gun and self-publish the first piece of crap you wrote? Do you have unedited, plot-hole-ridden, embarrassing stories out there? This happens to more indie authors than you think. Too many writers see the successes of other indies and think they can do the same thing. This causes them to publish too quickly and too carelessly, resulting in terrible sales and a ton of bad reviews. Once you pull yourself up from the ground and realize that being a writer is actually hard and requires patience and work, you don’t want to publish your next book under the same name. Use a pen name and start fresh. 

1. Because it’s fun! You don’t need a reason to make up a name for yourself. We’re writers. Making up stuff is what we do.

EXCERPT:



TOUR SCHEDULE

I drive through the remnants of what used to be a gated entrance. Now the metal gate lies on the ground, weeds having grown over it. Mom's place is number 336-A. I park in the visitor section closest to Mom's address and step out of the Ford.

As I slam the truck door behind me, the smell of salt in the air fills my lungs. Waves crash on the shore, and seagulls…well I'm not sure what kind of sound they make overhead. A quack-ish type of caw. It's unlike any other bird's song I've ever heard. 

The shabby buildings are long overdue for a new paint job and many of them have blue tarps nailed over sections of the roof. People usually do that when a hurricane comes through and blows off shingles, but it's a temporary solution. We haven't had a hurricane in over four years. Please, please let the inside look better than the outside.

I grab my backpack and suitcase and drag it up to Mom's door, tapping on it with my keys. The door swings open and a thin woman with white-blond hair stares back at me. She's wearing a purple bathrobe and has a cigar in her hand. Shit, I'm at the wrong address.

"Hey babe, I didn't expect you so soon." She puffs from her cigar and swings open the door.

"Mom?" I say, as she grabs me in a one armed hug. My mom has dark brown hair like me and a beer gut. At least, that's what she used to look like. She pulls my suitcase inside for me and closes the door behind us. 

"Let me get a look at you." She grabs my shoulders with her bony fingers. "You're so different. All grown up."

"Yeah, you too," I say, studying this woman who does look a little like my mom. She has the same butterfly tattoo on her chest. Even still, I can't shake the feeling that I walked into the wrong apartment, that I'm standing here being embraced by a woman who isn't my mom.

Two seconds later the loving moment is gone. I watch Mom’s lipstick smudge onto her cigar as she takes one last puff and snuffs it in an ashtray on an end table. "I go to work at four, so you'll have the place to yourself all night,” she says, winking at me.

Mom shows me the kitchen, complete with microwave, and the bathroom and the living room with a two-seater couch which will now be my bed. "Maybe we can get you an air mattress or something," Mom says, kicking at the springy cushions with her slipper.

The old me would have freaked out if I had to spend a weekend here in Mom's living room. The old me liked having her own room, with her own bed and all of her stuff. And her best friend and lover living next door. But that's the old me. The new me doesn't mind all of these new changes. 

I sit on the couch and place a smile on my face. Okay, well maybe now that I've pointed them out they kind of bother me. Sleeping on a couch? Oh well. Brendan doesn't get to sleep in his bed either. He gets to be dead in his coffin. And that thing didn't even have padding like this couch. I know because I left a copy of the Denali user's manual in his coffin when no one was looking. He wanted a Denali so bad, but as an eighteen year old he didn't have the money to spend on luxury motorcycles. I figured in the afterlife he could at least read about one.

But that was Old Taylor. And Old Taylor doesn't exist anymore. She has left the building and wants me to get acquainted with New Taylor. New Taylor lives in Sterling with her mom, and she's not afraid of anything and she has no regrets in life. New Taylor won't remember Brendan. 

I hope.


About the author:
Amy Sparling is a native Texan with a fear of cold weather and a coffee addiction that probably needs an intervention. She loves books, sarcasm, nail polish and paid holidays. She lives near the beach with her daughter, one spoiled rotten puppy and a cat who is most likely plotting to take over the world. Amy Sparling is a pen name for YA author Cheyanne Young.


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A Sleep So Dark by Inara Scott

Published: October 25th, 2013

Description:

Haunted…

After watching her mother die in a car accident, sixteen year-old Tandy McIntyre is plagued by violent dreams. Terrified to sleep and losing her grip on reality, she agrees to attend an experimental group retreat with Dr. Robert Gillman, an expert in lucid dreaming.

Trapped…

In the bitter cold of a Colorado winter, Tandy follows Dr. Gillman and his enigmatic son Cade as they lead a group of troubled teens into the wilderness. There, Dr. Gillman claims he will teach them to control their unconscious minds and master their dreams. But when the dreaming and the waking collide, will Tandy ever be safe again?

Don’t Fall Asleep…




About the author:
I read my first romance when I was twelve, hiding in a storage closet among hat boxes and old shoes. When I was in high school, I wrote a my first novel, a pirate romance called "A Wild and Stormy Passion." (The heroine was the pirate, in case you're wondering.) Since then, I've written young adult novels and romance in almost every category.

I am a dabbler and an emotional sponge. I can't read scary books or anything with an unhappy ending. I reserve the right to love country music, puppies, true love, and happily ever after. 

I review books I want to share the word about. 
Life's too short to read something you don't enjoy!



Happy Release Day! The Virgin Charmer (Triple Goddess Trilogy, #1) by Rachel A. Olson

Description:

Hope Richards has only ever known the life of a big city girl. When her boss gives her an ultimatum, she decided to try out the country life during her forced vacation. After falling in love with a mysterious old mansion on the edge of a town that time forgot, Hope finds herself caught up in a whirlwind of someone else's crazy love obsession, and realizes in the middle of it all how lacking her own life is in that department. Hope is faced with a decision: return to the mundane life she thought was her passion, or find a way to experience something far stronger that she secretly yearns for.


EXCERPT:



“I think we should get a drink before we start Q and A.” The sound of Abigail’s voice made Hope jump enough to bump her knees on the table. Her tone was ice cold, sending prickly chills down Hope’s spine. She only nodded, certain that questioning how Abigail could be so dead about something involving her own brother would be a bad idea.

Abigail snapped her fingers in the air two times, and the man behind the bar immediately jumped on command. The closer he got, the stronger the pull became that Hope had felt previously. He walked with his face downcast, most likely watching where he stepped in an attempt to avoid tripping on anything or anyone. When he finally reached their table, Hope was in the middle of scrambling away, utterly terrified by what she was feeling. As soon as she caught sight of his face, her chair tipped back with her still in it.

Hope found herself sprawled out on a grubby wooden floor that didn’t look like it’d been swept in several days. Her sweater had somehow tangled itself around and between her knees, making any attempt she made to stand look very similar to a fish out of water.

Hope stopped all futile attempts to stand independently when a very masculine hand jabbed itself in front of her nose. With large, crossed eyes, she gasped and managed to scoot away from the floating hand by a few measly inches. A deep, silky chuckle rolled across languid airwaves and nearly choked Hope with its thick perfume. Hope glanced up through half mast eyes at the blurred face hovering just beyond the floating hand, and smiled crookedly, one eyebrow popping up a hair higher than the other. Another bout of chuckling ensued just as something lifted Hope to her seat.

“...Bump her head?”

“I’m...sure.”

Hope was only grasping portions of surrounding conversation. Her head swam through an enervated, unknown substance, causing a reaction similar to that of narcotics. She tried to shake herself and clear her mind, but whatever it was, it insisted on clinging tightly to every inch of her, inside and out.

“Do you mind telling me what your nose is doing on my boyfriend?” Hope was ripped from her strange trance when a cold, bony little hand landed abruptly on her shoulder. Her eyes flew open, finding that her nose was indeed buried into the chest of a man.

No, not just any man. The man. The one that was causing the pull.

“Holy shit,” she muttered to herself, stuck in the glistening eyes of a man several years younger than herself. She was fully aware of the stares she was earning, as well as a perfectly annoyed Abigail behind her. She was also aware that, at that particular moment, she didn’t have the willpower to pull away from the younger man directly in front of her, or whatever it was that possessed her.

Slowly, Mr. Gloriously Addictive stepped away from her snout, swallowing loudly as he did. Hope could hear Abigail impatiently tapping her foot on the floor. The further he got from her, the stronger she felt. Finally, Hope managed to turn a bit to look at Abigail over her shoulder, knowing her cheeks would match the color of unfriendly fire. She opened her mouth to apologize, and the next thing she knew, she was falling face first toward the table. Abigail clumsily caught her full weight, gently lowering her into the nearest chair. Hope opened a single eye, finding the bartender entirely too close for comfort, and no doubt the cause of her sudden lack of leg control and balance.

He was frowning at her, probably just like Hope frowned at him. Abigail popped up out of nowhere next to him, the man that was yet to own a name, offering Hope a crystal clear glass of liquid heaven. She swallowed a mouthful, expecting it to slide down like the cool, refreshing water it should’ve been. Except it wasn’t water, and it ignited the very fires of hell in her throat and belly.

“Sorry,” Abigail winced as Hope coughed and sputtered. “I should’ve told you it was Vodka. Your weird dizzy spells and swooning had me convinced you were in desperate need of a hard drink.” Hope only offered a half smile, practically glaring up at the man still standing entirely too close to her. “Oh jeez, my manners ran away with my good mood. This is Garrett, my boyfriend.” Garrett offered a friendly hand to shake, but Hope just stared at it. She was more concerned about the close proximity of that hand, and why his very presence made her feel like her skeleton had decided to take a vacation without the rest of her.

“I think I need some fresh air,” Hope finally managed to announce.




About the author:
Somewhere amidst her forty-hour job and playtime with her three-year-old, Rachel finds time to walk the streets of worlds only existing on manmade paper. She resides in small college town Northwestern Nebraska with her young son, just a few blocks from a city park, the public schools, and her parents. She enjoys socializing with adults, sipping strawberry wine, and head banging to music that doesn't carry a beat worth the effort of rock star hair slinging.

"The paranormal world is a much more desired realm. There's no limit to possibilities, no comparison to probabilities, no concept of actualities. There's no solid platform for racism, judgment, or hierarchy. It is exactly the manifestation you choose it to be, darkness and death included."


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Happy Release Day! Excerpt and Giveaway Portents by Shanyn Hosier

Description:

Amanda Ryder is determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won’t hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they’d trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…

EXCERPT:





Hamilton Spencer Nash was pissed the fuck off. This shit between him and Marian Dupree was at motherfuckin' DEFCON1. Something was going to go thermonuclear, and soon.

As he greeted each of his guests, however, he kept all outward signs of his fury well hidden. He hadn't wrecked a room in his house, though he was sorely tempted. He hadn't punched anyone's face in, though his palms itched for contact. He hadn't taken his anger out on his associates, for that would be undignified, and they were not to blame… technically.

Instead, he'd sat tight. Thought long and hard about what had happened, the how and the why it had come to pass. He debriefed those involved, checking and rechecking the facts.

And he'd come to the conclusion that Dupree was to blame. She and her bumbling little scout troop had interfered for the last time. And yes, he recognized how cartoon-villainish that sounded, thank you very much. Yet another reason Dupree was irritating: she brought out the worst in him.

He hadn't gotten to where he was—the head of a powerful and lucrative organization—by throwing tantrums. He'd earned his wealth and position by maximizing opportunities while minimizing risks. By making calculated, rational decisions. By eliminating problems with surgical precision.
Dupree was a problem. Therefore she would pay. And pay dearly.

He knew something had gone seriously wrong when his pet firebug, Angelica, hadn't met up with him at their rendezvous point. The girl was prone to panicky overreaction whenever she sensed the slightest danger, real or imagined, so the fact she'd never even called was ominous, indeed. And he'd never heard from her again, in fact—nor had his associates managed to turn up any sign of her. He had no definitive knowledge of what actually happened to her—Dupree hadn't bothered to inform him, the bitch—other than the firm belief that Angelica was dead at her hands.

He did not pause to consider he'd sent Angelica on a dangerous mission to burn Dupree's precious Academy to the ground. The only fact that concerned him was that he'd lost a valuable member of his team. A loss he blamed on Marian Dupree.
It wasn't a personal loss, per se. He had no emotional connection to Angelica, and he was not the sort of person to delude himself otherwise after the fact. In truth, not long before she went missing, he'd been wondering if Angelica was worth the hassle: the woman had taken an inordinate amount of coaxing and coddling to become even slightly useful. But now that she was gone, he'd never know if she would've matured into a fantastically successful associate. And the loss of his profit, both realized and potential, wasn't a pittance.

Nor was it something he was inclined to overlook.

Marian Dupree would suffer at his hands. She would experience the kind of setback he had, but on a much larger scale. She would be made to sacrifice, and she would know who was the author of her pain.

"I want everything you have on Marian Dupree and the Academy of St. Joan of Arc," he announced calmly to the assembly.
His highest-ranking associates, seated around his spacious dining table, reacted with varying degrees of surprise and curiosity.

"Thought you said they were small time," Brittani Rollins yipped impertinently. "Why the sudden interest?"
Hamilton leveled a penetrating stare at her until she started to squirm. He dragged his eyes away once she'd been put in her place, scanning the group for any other signs of insubordination. Finding none, he continued. "The situation has changed. What was once a minor inconvenience has become a serious problem."

He paused once again to inwardly tally the ledger. He'd had to abort the foreclosure-arson scam with Dale Dalton at Gulf States Bank—without a firebug, the fires would've actually looked like the work of an arsonist, and their crooked insurance claim adjustor had balked.

Thousands of dollars had been pissed away with that one folded deal alone. Who knew how much more they might've made running the scam elsewhere?

Hamilton's blood pressure rose once again at the thought. But he was careful not to let any of the others sense how riled he felt.

"Round the clock surveillance. Tails on everyone who enters and leaves that place.

Wiretaps. Financials. Grocery lists. I want everything," he said in an even voice.

Several of the group nodded, understanding which of these tasks were meant for them without being specifically told.

"And I want someone on the inside we can trust." He stared straight at Lane Cassidy, who'd established contact with one of Dupree's litter. The mole's allegiance was in doubt, as far as Hamilton was concerned. It was time for Lane to put the screws to the bitch and make her show her true colors.

"Spread the word: I want recruitment stepped up. Finder's fees increased by twenty percent. Doubled if the new initiate comes from the Academy." He paused for a moment for effect, then held up a month-old newspaper clipping of a grainy photograph: his only concrete proof she existed. "And twenty grand for the person who brings me this girl."






About the author:
Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband, two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos), and an emotionally needy, neurotic chocolate lab. I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.


Author's Giveaway:

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Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway Effie's Outlaw by Karen Lopp

Published: October 22nd, 2013

Description:

Boston heiress, Effie Sheridan, takes matters into her own hands when her fortune is being stolen. The last thing she expects is to be kidnapped by a gang of train robbers. Forced to pretend to be an outlaw's lover to stay alive, she questions her sanity when she is drawn to the gruff, yet charming bandit who risks everything to save her.

U.S. Deputy, Alex Marshall is mad enough to spit nails when the beautiful, city-bred girl lands in his arms. Unable to abandon her to the cruelties of the gang, he searches for a way out of the responsibility. But her courage and sweet kisses begin to chip away at the bitterness inside his heart and he must choose between revenge on the gang that slaughtered everyone he loved or redemption for saving a women he can never have. 

GUEST POST
Why I chose to write about a U.S. Deputy Marshal 

I’ve always admired the stories about Marshals in the Old West and since I have an ancestor that actually was one, I just couldn’t resist bringing him to life. And his name was Alexander. Plus, I really wanted a play on names, so I chose Alex Marshall as the lead character in Effie’s Outlaw. 

Choosing a character that, in the end, will always do what is right, no matter what he feels about himself, appeals to me. Plus, overcoming great odds adds a depth to a person that I find admirable. All through history we find examples of those that step forward and do what others will not. What we rarely read about is the average men and women that quietly went about their lives and just did what had to be done, without recognition or fame. These are the people that I like to learn about and draw ideas from. Their stories are worth being told, even if it is done in fiction. 

Writing about Alex, who thought he could throw his life away on revenge, but discovered deep down that he couldn’t, was fun. Having an annoying angel in need of rescuing, dropped into his lap forced him to face his demons and overcome the grief that had almost broken him. 

EXCERPT:



TOUR SCHEDULE

The quiet frightened her. She was used to buildings, noise and humanity. Used to a kind face if she got lost. Used to law-abiding citizenry, not a landscape full of barbarians.
She took one step and then another. A flash of red in the distance made her freeze. Most of the men sported red bandanas. Effie turned and rushed in a different direction, her blood froze at the close call, remembering the outlaw’s threat of selling her to the highest bidder and the horror the other women endured.
A headache hammered in her skull and dulled her ability to stay focused. Her feet hurt and every step revealed a new pain from her fall from the train. Mouth dry, she longed to find the stream Lefty said existed. She was beginning to think he lied. A quick glance back reveled— nothing. The tight knot in her stomach subsided.
A glare caught her eye, and she quickened her footsteps. Something shimmered in the sunlight. She hurried towards the source. It had to be water, nothing else bright came to mind.
In her haste, Effie tripped over a rock and landed on all fours. She hissed out a cry of pain. Her heart fluttered like a fly trapped in a jar. Had anyone heard her? She glanced up, the silver canteen that Lefty had hung up, swayed from the branch above her. Fingers curled into a fist she punched the air.
Her valiant effort to escape had only led her right back to Lefty. To the man who had ripped her from the comforts of civilization, forced her to wear indecent clothes, and expected free reign of her body when he woke.
Damn. Yes it was rude to think such vulgarities, but not a soul here would be offended by her lapse into crudeness. Now, she had to start all over. Go back into that labyrinth and find a way out. And avoid getting caught.
Effie hauled her aching body upright, brushed the hair from her eyes, and started walking. Dappled sunlight fell across the ground. Something crunched in the stillness and she choked back a cry.
“I tell you I saw someone wandering around.” An angry voice sounded close, too close. Ice crystallized on her skin.
“You’re hallucinating. Ain’t no girl haunting this forest.” The second, deeper voice was filled with disgust.
“Who else would wear bright orange and go in circles?”
“Orange? You fool, that’d be Consuela. Ben will kill you if you bother her.”
“She has on blue now. A real fancy new dress. Probably stole it from one of the captives.”
“Maybe it’s Lefty girl, she’s the only one left. He’ll kill you too. I’ve seen him draw. You don’t want to mess with him.”
“Are you going to tell?”
“Course not.”
“Then let’s go find her. Have some fun and kill her. Lefty won’t know who did it.”

Effie’s stomach crawled up to her throat and strangled her. A layer of sweat slicked her upper lip. How could she avoid these predators? One of them had seen her and now hunted for her. She peered around the tree, only to see them angling directly towards her.




About the author:
Steeped in a rich family history, Karen Lopp has always been drawn to the courageous lives of the women who lived through the hardships of the past and triumphed.

A transplant from Oklahoma where she grew up on a farm just one mile away from where her great-grandparents settled in the land run, Karen now lives in the enchanted land of New Mexico and has a running competition with her dad on who can grow the tallest hollyhocks. Books and tales of ancestors were staples in her life and she fell in love with history. Enthralled with the short stories her grandmother wrote and passed down, she took the plunge (with encouragement from hubby and kids) into the world of writing. Her inspiration comes from research into her family tree and their interesting lives.


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Guest Post and Excerpt Hollow's End by Marianne Morea

Published September, 2013

Description:

The dark water of the Hudson River isn’t the only blackness looming in the distance of the quaint river town of Sleepy Hollow. Two hundred years of secrets and lies are bleeding into the present, and high school seniors, Hunter Morrissey and Rowen Corbett, find themselves linked with unseen forces shrouded in mystery and violence. 

Truths, buried and long forgotten, have risen at a time when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. Only Hunter and Rowen hold the key to locking the past in the past, and setting old wrongs to right. Can justice be served? Can the two find a way to straddle both worlds and solve the mystery when they don’t understand the clues? Inspired by true historical events that surround the village of Sleepy Hollow and the famous legend that shares its name, this Young Adult Horror takes you on a journey full of history and suspense with a splash of romance and the paranormal.

GUEST POST
The Importance of World Building and Character Development

Most people live ordinary lives. They have a network of friends and family about them that help make them who and what they are. They have daily routines and conflicts that come up from time to time that they have to overcome. So why would it be any different for characters in a book?

With the exception of the word ‘ordinary’, developing your character and their lives and loves is important in order to paint a picture for the reader. What makes this character who they are, where they’ve been and where they are going? It’s necessary to show the reader what is happening in the point of view of the character speaking rather than tell them. A reader has to feel like it’s really happening, they have to be able to imagine and sense everything the characters feel, see and sense. The way an author accomplishes that is through rich description and to the point dialogue.

This is all part of world building, giving the reader a birdseye view of the character’s life and surroundings…enmeshing them right in the thick of their conflicts and how they go about making choices and finding their resolutions. Good world building, description and dialogue are what allow the reader to get lost in a book…it’s what brings the characters to life in their imagination and where hopefully, they linger while anticipating the next book in the series. J

The places and events in my stories are always born of personal experience. (Paranormal relationships notwithstanding!) My usual haunts—New York, New Orleans, Maine, Montreal—are featured heavily since they are the places I love the most. I also love to travel, and many of the places I’ve been lend their flavor to the stories as well. But if it’s something unfamiliar, a topic or procedure, etc., I will contact experts in the field and pepper them with questions, or scour books on the subject. These are essential elements when world building. You have to write what you know or you will be spotted as a fake.

I’d have to say my favorite part of writing and world building is falling in love with my characters. They inspire me in so many ways. And while I know that each one of them is just an extension of me, it’s great to be able to live a hidden part of myself out loud through them. It’s truly their gift. But, on the flip side, what I enjoy least about writing is the mechanics of it…all the editing and fact checking and so on. Necessary…absolutely. Fun…not so much. All in all I think of myself as lucky…I get to do what I love for a living, so it never really ‘feels’ like work.

EXCERPT:




TOUR SCHEDULE

Prologue
‚He’s coming! He’s coming!‛ one of his soldiers cried, running past the crude tents. The devil himself on his heels. The sound of the black horse, its hooves tearing into the loamy earth, echoed through the forest. The ominous herald announcing its rider’s approach—the Angel of Death.
Both man and beast found nothing but agony waiting at the end of the man’s sword. Slaughter and brutality his hallmark. He wielded them well.
His men fled, stomachs roiling with fear. The knowledge they had assisted his butchery, complying in mute terror, afraid to raise their eyes to his lest they be next, clear on each countenance. He swore he’d ride them to hell and back, their scalps hanging from his saddle, dripping bloody as tokens for the gods of war if they defied him. They would never be free...

Chapter 1

The alarm clock buzzed, its repetitive blare piercing what was left of my sleep. I opened my eyes half way and peered at the red digital numbers staring back at me through dim light. With a groan, I slammed my hand on the clock’s hard plastic top, hoping to hit the snooze button and not the volume. Closing my eyes, I rolled over tucking one hand under my pillow and the other under my chin. But it was too late. My conscience was wide awake and already sparring with itself. Get up! You’re going to be late again. No, I won’t, just five more minutes...
‚Rowen! It’s six-thirty!‛ my mother’s voice shot from the hall.
Five minutes. Just five more minutes.
‚Rowen!‛
‚I heard you the first time!‛ I yelled at my closed bedroom door. Why did morning have to come so early and be so loud? I groaned again. If I didn’t get out of bed soon, she’d come upstairs looking for me, and that was the last thing I wanted.
Yawning, I reached over my head and stretched, arching my back to let the blood flow into my resting muscles like a reveille call. Up and at ‘em, troops!
My mother was up early, even by her standards. I wasn’t surprised, though. It was that time of year again. The time when our little shop, The Silver Cauldron, became the town headquarters for spells and charmed candles and, of course, witches brew. The season when the quaint river town of Sleepy Hollow transformed into a mecca for all things creepy.
With my crazy mother organizing everything from the kids ragamuffin parade to the annual costume ball, there was never a spare minute to think or breathe. On top of everything else, she took over as coordinator for this year’s Blaze—over 4,000 hand carved jack-o-lanterns lining the historic three hundred-year-old Van Cortlandt estate. It was no wonder I didn’t want to get up. I was exhausted just being her daughter. My mother, Laura Corbett, was Sleepy Hollow’s unofficial official town witch, and in a place where everyone knows everyone, that’s saying a lot.
‚It’s just Halloween,‛ I mumbled flipping my covers back, but in our house it was never just Halloween, nor was it ever just about trick-or-treating. It was the Witch’s New Year and one of the biggest sabbats on the wheel of the year. Not that I believed in that sort of junk. That was my family’s thing, not mine, even though my mother and grandmother had been trying to make it mine since the day I was born.
I swung my legs over the side of the bed and sat for a moment. I’d heard it a thousand times, ‚We’re different, Rowen, embrace it. People would kill to be able to do what we can.‛ Like people needed more reasons to think I was half a freak. And as to wanting to be like me, uh… I didn’t think so.
‚Rowen, hurry up! I need to talk to you before you leave,‛ Mom’s voice called again.
My room looked like a tornado hit. Clothes and shoes everywhere, and the books and math sheets I reviewed last night were still in a haphazard pile across my desk. Two empty Coke cans topped a pile of candy wrappers, and a large, half eaten bag of potato chips lay crumpled on the floor next to my backpack.
Oh God, I didn’t.
At the incriminating sight, my hand shifted to my stomach, and a familiar self-loathing settled onto my shoulders. I slumped a bit, cringing inwardly at what the scale would read this morning.
With a sigh I pushed myself to stand and slid my gaze to the clothes I somehow remembered to set out. My lateness was reaching epic proportions, yet school was only halfway through the first semester. Most of the student body had learned to get out of the way when I came barreling in for homeroom.
Mom seemed to think my tardy nature would improve once I earned my driver’s license, but of course, that didn’t happen. I was seventeen and already driving for the past year. We lived around the corner from the high school, and senior privilege or not, I didn’t relish the idea of taking my mother’s minivan.
Grabbing my outfit from the back of my desk chair, I walked into the bathroom and snapped on the light. I had no problem envisioning my mother, coffee cup in hand, impatiently waiting for me to come downstairs while she planned her latest concoction for the store.
When my mother says she needs to talk it usually means extra work for me, and considering how busy it’s been I’m surprised it took her this long to ask. Not that I mind helping out at the shop with all its curiosities, but I can’t seem to stomach the people who come in just to gawk. Of course, the townspeople wouldn’t dare insult my mother that way, but the tourists loved to look at the whole lot, including us.
I took inventory of my face in the mirror, running fingers over the puffy skin beneath my eyes, trying to ignore the glare from the bathroom’s overhead lights. Telltale dark smudges from my late date with calculus were evident beneath my lower lids, making my hazel eyes look a little muddy. ‚Now, that’s attractive,‛ I grumbled reaching for my makeup remover. Giving each eye a quick swipe, I checked my reflection for any marked improvement. No such luck.
Most of the time, I liked the way I looked. From the dark curls and high cheekbones I inherited from my dad, to winning the genetic lottery for great skin courtesy of mother’s side of the family. Most of my friends hated that I never got zits or blemishes, but Mother Nature evened the playing field, seeing to it I gained weight if I so much as looked at junk food.
I muttered an expletive thinking about the bag of chips I’d massacred and pushed the bathroom scale under the vanity with my foot. One of these days I’d learn not to let the number glaring up at me from between my feet dictate the kind of day I would have, but today was not that day.
The Corbett’s tended to be on the fleshy side, or at least that’s what it looked like in all the family pictures. I wouldn’t know firsthand, though, my dad having died when I was little, and his parents before I was born. Then again, having a mother who leaned more toward the vegetarian line helped a lot in that department.
Gathering my hair, I twisted it into a loose bun at the top of my head. There was a peculiar tension building in my stomach, and I didn’t think it was the potato chips. I was out of sorts, restless for some reason, and a dull ache throbbed behind my eyes. I grabbed my toothbrush and turned on the tap, breaking one of the cardinal rules of my house by letting the water run while I brushed my teeth.
A calculus test was scheduled later this morning, but I was never one for being neurotic over grades. So why was I so edgy? I rinsed my mouth and stuck the toothbrush in its holder. The blunt pounding behind my eyes escalated and I winced, tilting my head down against the pain. That was when I saw it, or thought I saw it.
I stood motionless with my hand frozen in place as I stared at the water in the sink. The slow drain had allowed the flow to gather in the basin and ribbons of red curled and spread like blood streaming into the water. It didn’t look like rust or red clay or anything else. It looked like blood, swirling and coating the white porcelain with streaks and tiny clots. Worse yet, it smelled like blood, with a sharp, metallic tang that lingered in my nose and throat. I gagged, squeezing my eyes shut.
A wave of dizziness hit and I gripped the edge of the vanity, sucking in short shallow breaths trying to work up enough air to yell for my mother. I swallowed against the sour bile taste in my mouth and counted to ten, and when I opened my eyes, only clear water flowed in the sink.
My hand shot forward turning off the tap, and I pumped the lever handle behind the faucet a bunch of times. I held my breath ‘til the last of the water ran down the drain. Did I say half a freak? How about a full-fledged weirdo, complete with psychotic visions? Backing up, I grabbed hold of the towel rack and sank to the floor, the cold tile adding to my already goose-pimpled flesh.
Minutes passed and though my heart rate slowed, my mind raced. Was this some leftover nightmare skewed from Chiller TV? Part of me wanted to yell for my mother, but the other part knew she’d make a huge deal about it, and I didn’t have time for a protection spell or whatever else she’d think to do.
The clock was ticking, and I needed to get myself together and out the door. Afraid to tempt fate and run the water in the sink again, I wet a washcloth under the bathtub tap. ‚No more sleep deprived delusions for me, thank you.‛
The problem was this didn’t feel like a byproduct of too little sleep. Something happened, I sensed it. Gran told me the night of my birthday that my aura was bleeding. Happy birthday, darling, and by the way… Gee, thanks. Love you too, Gran.
That night my mother made light of it, telling me everyone’s aura bled from time to time, it’s part of coming into your own—yet I hadn’t missed the look she shot my grandmother. And what the hell did that mean? Was I coming into my own as a strong, independent woman, or did some weird, cosmic witchiness hit me square in the face courtesy of my messed up gene pool? Right now, I didn’t want to know. I wanted to go to school and take my exams like any other normal teenager.
After slapping on deodorant and body mist, I dressed, not bothering with make-up. I unfastened my claw clip and finger combed my hair before throwing it back into a messy bun, then grabbed my homework and shoved it into my bag. I allowed one last look in the mirror, hesitating about the no make-up, but no amount of cover-up would camouflage my fear-induced, chalk-white cheeks. Instead, I plastered a smile onto my face and headed downstairs, praying my mother’s instincts would be too preoccupied to notice.
The blissful aroma of fresh brewed coffee filtered from the kitchen, making my mouth water before I walked through the doorway. Even more sublime, the scent of homemade pumpkin bread floated alongside the smell of fresh ground walnuts. ‚Hey,‛ I mumbled, scraping one of the chairs back from the table. ‚Smells good. You had time to bake this morning?‛
‚I know how much you like pumpkin bread, so why not,‛ my mother answered, putting a warm slice in front of me. ‚I thought it’d be nice for us to have a treat together, especially since I’ve been so busy lately and haven’t been around much.‛
She thought right, and I took my first easy breath of the morning. ‚Mmmmmm, incredible,‛ I said with my mouth full.
Reaching for her mug on the counter, she patted my shoulder and I cringed. The moment she touched me she’d know something was up. On cue she jerked her head around, eyes already probing.
I exhaled. ‚Cut it out, Mom, come on. I’m tired, that’s all.‛ I shrugged her off purposefully, but she wasn’t buying it. ‚I’ve got a huge math test today, and calc’s been kicking my butt since the beginning of the year, so can we not do the Wicked Witch of Westchester County thing this morning?‛
Taking a deep breath, my mother looked at me the way she looks at her rune stones when trying to divine a hidden meaning. ‚Okay, Rowen, if you say so. But whatever it was you saw…‛
‚I know, Mom, relax. Like I said, I’m just tired. Didn’t you have something you needed to talk about? It must be important or why else would you need to bribe me,‛ I said, waving my pumpkin bread her way before plopping another piece into my mouth.
My mother flashed me a half smile, knowing I’d used one of her trademark moves usually reserved for arguments with Gran. ‚You’re right, but I think I could do better than pumpkin bread if I wanted to bribe you. Truth is, with New Year’s a little less than two weeks away, the store is going to get crazy the closer it gets, and with everything I’ve got going I could really use your help.‛
‚It’s October, Mother. New Year’s isn’t for two months.‛
‚You know what I mean, smart ass, Samhain is next week. And in case you’ve forgotten, Halloween is a fire sabbat that requires a ritual cleansing to protect the town and honor the wandering dead.‛
‚Yeah, but jack-o-lanterns? Seriously?‛
‚Pumpkins are the easiest way to get everyone to participate without them really knowing. Unfortunately, they aren’t going to carve themselves, and we’re short of volunteers.‛
‚I know,‛ I said taking another bite of my pumpkin bread. ‚Don’t worry, I’ll do my part until every last jack-o-lantern is carved and placed.‛ I wondered what the prissy town supervisor’s wife would say if she knew my mother had orchestrated a pagan ritual involving the entire town right under her pious nose.
As if reading my mind, Mom smirked. ‚I knew I could count on you, Rowen, but do me a favor. Don’t be such a teenager this week. The veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest. I want you to pay attention, okay?‛
I nodded, and she gave me a smile, but for the first time in my life my mother’s smile didn’t reach her eyes.
















About the author:

I'm a New Yorker, born and bred, and for the most part my stories and my characters embody the grit and complexity of the city. An avid traveler, I use my experiences from around the world in all my books. There isn't a place my characters live or travel to that I haven't been myself. 

Like most authors, my love affair with the written word started as a child with the books I read. Even today, I love to read almost as much as I love to write. My favorite stories are the ones that transport me, that bring me to places and introduce me to characters that leave me breathless...the ones that spark the fire of my imagination, allowing me to dream in the world of 'what if?' 

I've always been a scribbler, and from the time I could write my name I've been making up stories. So it was no surprise when I earned degrees in both Journalism and Fine Art, but after working in the trenches of Madison Avenue as a Graphic Artist, I decided to do what I love most full time. Write. 

In the meantime I am also a founding member and former President of The Paranormal Romance Guild, a not-for-profit organization for readers and authors of the genre...and when I'm not 'bichok' (but in a chair hands on keyboard), I'm spending time with my husband and our three kids, traveling to exciting, romantic places ...for inspiration, of course!




Excerpt The Ghosts of Rue Dumaine by Alexandrea Weis

Published: September 2013

Description:

Ready to get her life back on track after ending a painful marriage, Danica Giles returns to the Creole cottage where she grew up in the New Orleans French Quarter. Danica is anxious to rekindle her friendship with a former resident from her old neighborhood, the seductive Gaston Deslonde. But Gaston isn’t exactly a normal guy. The charming man has been dead for over a hundred and fifty years, and the childish crush Danica once had on her ghostly playmate quickly turns into something much deeper. When a handsome new man enters Danica’s life, Gaston vows to do whatever he can to hold on to her. Danica soon discovers that the most forbidden of all desires cannot be satisfied without paying a grave price. Love can blur the lines between life and death when you are living among the ghosts of Rue Dumaine

GUEST POST 
The Real Magick of New Orleans 

Any adventure into the Big Easy often makes people think of ghosts, voodoo, vampires, and all other things that go bump in the night. But to understand the paranormal behind the stucco-covered walls of the French Quarter, you have to first look at the bohemian collection of inhabitants in this city below the level of the sea. For New Orleans is not so much about its reputation, but its people. They are the real magic makers. These are a people rooted in their past, and they have a deep respect for all those who have struggled to keep their city going despite, hurricanes, epidemics, wars, and oodles of controversy. Maybe it is because of that sordid history that so much of the city is shrouded in mystery. After all, it is a very old town steeped in a culture of violence, and such places tend to incubate legendary tales by the truckload. But without the wholehearted embrace of its people, the legends would not carry on. New Orleaninas are very proud of their past; the good and the bad. They enthusiastically tell stories to all who will listen. It is one of the few places where tradition is sacred, culture is king, and holding on to what was, is sometimes more important than grasping for what will be. In some ways, New Orleanians are backward in their viewpoint, but their unprogressive ways are part of their charm. New Orleans is one of the few places on earth where its people are as romantic as the Creole cottages and swirling wrought iron balconies of its trademark architecture. For this city is a masterful blend of people and their buildings. Without that magic, there would be no ghosts or ghouls. Sometimes you love a place so much that you to want to stay in it forever. Maybe that is why the ghosts never leave, and the vampires always return to the one town where they were always happy. “Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?” I think any ghost or city resident lurking around the French Quarter will be happy to answer that question. All you have to do is ask. 

ut a hefty respect for the past, your future is a mcuh

EXCERPT:




Danica leaned against the doorframe and reflected on the various stages of childhood and adolescence she had gone through while occupying this room. The rainbow-painted walls her mother had painstakingly decorated for her had been replaced with posters of boy bands and television heartthrobs until her mother had died. After the funeral, Danica had come home and removed all the posters in a fit of rage, wanting to be surrounded once more by her mother’s rainbows. The last year she had spent in this room, she had felt comforted by those rainbows, as if her mother’s love had been forever sealed beneath the paintbrush strokes on her walls. 

"I missed this old place," she whispered. 


A sudden rush of cold air moving down the hallway caused Danica to turn away from the bedroom door and peer into the darkness behind her. She took a few steps further down the hall until the aroma of cigar smoke mixed with a hint of brandy wafted in the air around her. Danica remembered that smell. It had always filled her bedroom whenever the dark man would appear. 


"Is it you?" she softly called into the hallway. "It’s me, Danica. I’ve come back. Just like I said I would." 


Danica walked briskly past the entrance to the master bath to the final door at the end of the hall. Without hesitation, she pushed the cypress door open and walked inside the master bedroom. The light from the large picture window overlooking the courtyard shone into the room, accentuating the deep burgundy color of the carpet beneath her feet. She stepped into the center of the room and observed the ceiling fan above. Danica waited, straining with every breath to hear the slightest stirring. 


"Welcome home," a man’s wispy voice resonated around her. 

A hopeful smile curled the edges of Danica’s heart-shaped mouth. "Thank you, Gaston. It’s good to be home." 


A few minutes later, Danica returned to the living room, where she found Pat scrolling through messages on her cell phone. 

"Let’s sign the papers," Danica happily announced. "I want to get moved in as soon as possible." 

Pat gave her a wary going-over with her brown eyes. "You positive about this, Danica? I need to make sure you’re aware that other tenants have had problems—" 

"It’s fine, Pat. I know you said the place is haunted and people have had some bad experiences, but this…." Danica waved to the room around her. "Just feels right." 


Pat gave a skeptical shrug. "I have the papers ready back at the office. The rent is eight hundred and fifty a month. Mr. Caruso wanted me to charge you the same rate he charged your father. He insisted I make this as appealing to you as possible. You must have made quite an impression on the old man when you were a kid. He never cuts anyone a deal." 


"Please tell Mr. Caruso I appreciate it." 


Pat replaced her cell phone in her front jacket pocket. "Let’s turn off all of these lights and head back to the office." 


Suddenly, from the shuttered window beside them, three loud knocks reverberated across the room. 

Pat grabbed at her chest. "Jesus! What in the hell was that?" 


Danica smirked as she watched the color drain from Pat’s perfectly made-up face. "Just someone outside on the street banging on the wall…happened a lot when I was a kid. Drunk tourists would often bang on the shutters at all hours." 


Pat regained her composure. "Of course, you’re right. I didn’t think of that." 

Danica motioned to the pocket doors leading to the kitchen. "Let’s get you out of here, Pat, before you have a heart attack." 

"Gladly," Pat offered and rushed to the doors. "I never liked this place. I just hope you know what you’re doing, Danica." 


"I know," Danica asserted with a grin. "I’ve always known."


About the author:

Alexandrea Weis is an advanced practice registered nurse who was born and raised in New Orleans. Her first novel, To My Senses, introduced readers to the world of Nicci Beauvoir and garnered numerous awards and rave reviews. 

Her popular second Nicci Beauvoir novel, Recovery, won the Gold Medal for best romantic suspense from The Reader’s Favorite Book Awards 2011, and was named best Romantic Suspense novel by the Spring 2011 NABE Pinnacle Book Awards. Her fourth novel, Broken Wings, won best Contemporary Romance by the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards in 2012, was a Silver Medal winner in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards for Romance, as well as a finalist in the USA Book Awards for Romance in 2012, and a finalist in the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards for Contemporary Romance for 2012. Diary of a One-Night Stand, was released in August 2012 and was named a Paranormal Romance Guild’s Best Reviewed of 2012. Her last novel, Acadian Waltz was a Readers’ Favorite Book Awards finalist for Best Contemporary Romance and Best Southern Fiction. 

A permitted wildlife rehabber with the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Weis rescues orphaned and injured wildlife. She lives with her husband and pets in New Orleans.