Good morning, everyone!

We're back with another Sunday Seven clip from Immortal Trust, the third book in The Curse of the Templars, which released on March 26th!  If you haven't purchased it yet, here's another little tidbit.  One of my favorite snipetts.


His body tensed as she drew nearer to the bed. She poured into his awareness, suffocating all thoughts but those of her. Of what he would like to do to her. Experience with her. His hands itched to slide through her hair as they had the night before. He craved the taste of her sweet mouth. If he could but draw her close, sample the honeyed flavor, take them back to the night before.


Immortal Trust
The Curse of the Templar, Book III

When archaeologist Chloe Broussard accepts the contract to lead a dig in Ornes, France, she has no idea she will uncover Veronica's Veil. When she does, she discovers a danger far greater than the demons that stalk her in the night. Azazel wants her, as well as the Veronica, and his chosen minion is her brother. Her hope lies with immortal Templar Knight, Lucan. Her life depends on oaths she knows nothing about.

For countless centuries, Lucan of Seacourt has lived with the knowledge that his brother killed their family. Now, as Azazel's darkness eats away at his soul, old betrayal stirs suspicion. He trusts no one. Not even the seraph who can heal his dying spirit.

With the fate of the Almighty hanging in the balance, Lucan must find faith in something more terrifying than the dark lord's creations. He must learn to believe his heart.


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Good morning, everyone!  Please welcome Marie Astor, and her new book, To Catch A Bad Guy!

To Catch A Bad Guy
Marie Astor

Janet Maple’s stellar career ended with a layoff and her boyfriend of five years told her that he wants to be just friends. When she lands a job at one of New York’s premier boutique investment firms, Janet begins to hope that her luck is finally turning for the better. Not only is she happy with her new paycheck, but things also seem to be looking up on the personal front, as the company’s handsome attorney expresses keen interest in Janet. However, her euphoria is short-lived, as Janet soon discovers alarming facts about her new employer’s business tactics. When her boss dismisses her suspicions as groundless, Janet finds herself confiding to a cute IT engineer, Dean Snider. The closer she gets to Dean, the more Janet is tempted to break her rule of not dating co-workers, but what she doesn’t realize is that everything she knows about Dean, including his occupation and even his name, is a lie.

Dennis Walker is a top-notch white collar crime investigator who will stop at nothing to put culprits away. When an opportunity for an undercover assignment at one of New York’s premier boutique broker dealers comes up, Dennis jumps at the chance, adopting a persona of geeky IT engineer, Dean Snider. While he may be an ace at his job, years of experience fail him when Dennis meets Janet Maple and finds himself torn between his professional obligations and his personal desires. Will he have to choose between his feelings and duty, or will he find a way to satisfy both?

Marie is sharing an exclusive excerpt and hosting a give away today.  Let's jump right in, shall we?


“Hello there.”

Janet turned around at the unexpected sound of a male voice. 

“Hi.” Janet remembered the IT guy she had found in her office the day before. It was impossible to forget him. She had never seen anyone who was so incongruously good-looking and clumsy at the same time.

“It’s Janet, right?” The IT guy focused his blue-gray eyes on her. “I’m Dean.”

“Yes, I remember,” Janet lied, making a mental note to commit Dean’s name to memory. “Do you work on this floor?”

“Yep.” Dean nodded. “My desk is on the trading floor – this way if any of the traders need help, I can be summoned to their rescue.”

“Sounds terribly important.” 

“It is.” Dean puffed out his chest. “Not really.” He shook his head. “The other day I had to explain to a guy that his monitor was black because he forgot to turn his computer on.”

“Oh…” Janet laughed a bit louder than she intended. “I’m sorry.”

“Is that your oatmeal?” 

“Yes. I’m sort of on a diet,” Janet blurted out.

“I think it’s about to run over.” Dean reached for the microwave and popped it open just as the oatmeal was about to topple over the rim of the cup. “Here you are.” Dean set the oatmeal on the kitchen counter. “And if 
I may add, you don’t need to be on a diet, Janet.”

“Thanks.” Janet blushed – was Dean flirting with her? If he was, she could not say that she minded it, except for the fact that she seemed to have forgotten what it was like to flirt with a cute guy. I’m sort of on a diet. Nicely done. And Dean was not even that good-looking; he was just mildly cute. What was going to happen to her if she were up against a real stunner? Would she unravel completely and blabber uncontrollably? 

“Well, Janet, have a good one. I’ve got to get back to my charges. Who knows, while I was away, all kinds of disasters could have struck – knocked-out power cords or coffee spilled on keyboards.” 

“Sounds serious. Good luck.” Janet grinned. “And thanks for rescuing my oatmeal.”

“You’re welcome, Janet.” The corners of Dean’s mouth lifted in a smile as his eyes met Janet’s for a moment. “I’ll see you later.”

“Bye,” Janet mouthed. Thanks for rescuing my oatmeal. She just brimmed with charm and mystique this morning. Enough with this nonsense, Janet snapped at herself. Her third day on the job, and instead of focusing on her work, she was flirting – correction -- miserably failing at flirting – with idle IT guys, and, how could she forget, lascivious attorneys. Her awkward encounter with Tom Wyman still made her cringe. Well, it takes practice to get better at things, Janet reasoned, so perhaps she should practice on Dean Snider for now.

Back in her office, Janet looked over the chart of Bostoff Securities’ corporate structure that Tom Wyman had given her yesterday. There were about ten different entities. The structure seemed odd to say the least, but Tom had cited a specific business purpose for each entity. His reasoning had made perfect sense when Tom had been explaining the set-up to Janet, but the moment he departed from her office, leaving a trail of masculine cologne, questions began to stir in her mind.



Marie will be awarding custom designed semiprecious jewelry pieces to five randomly drawn commenters during the tour.

Prize 1: Citrine quartz and prehnite sterling silver necklace
Prize 2: Red agate sterling silver necklace
Prize 3: Onyx sterling silver bracelet
Prize 4: Smoky quartz sterling silver earrings
Prize 5: Blue quartz sterling silver earrings

Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Marie Astor is the author of contemporary romance novels This Tangled Thing Called Love, Lucky Charm, On the Rim of Love, romantic suspense, To Catch a Bad Guy, and a short story collection,  A Dress in a Window. Marie is also the author of young adult fantasy adventure novel, Over the Mountain and Back.

If you would like to learn more about Marie’s writing, please stop by her website: or visit her on Facebook:

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @marieastor


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Good morning, everyone!  Welcome to Writer Wednesday, where I share my little tidbits about craft and fiction writing. Today, I'm carrying on about the Antagonist.  In other words, the villain.

We all love to hate him, but have you ever stopped to think that as much as we hate the villain, we love the villain.  Yes, it's true.  For me, one of the worst villain's I've encountered is Hannibal Lector. I fear him, he repulses me, I wouldn't wish him on my worst enemy...and yet, I don't want the feds to capture him again.

Why is that?  Well, I like to think it's because I'm not truly sick.  He's incredibly brilliant--course the true psychopaths are--and the fact he was able to get free from such a condemning situation is also, well, brilliant.  And that intelligence is a draw in some weird (sick?) way.

So let's talk about what makes a villain successful.

We've all met this guy...

A Villain Doesn't Just Wander Into The Pages

A villain is not the random guy stuffed into the plot who does atrocious deeds out of the blue.  He cannot be stereotypical like our friend Snidely Whiplash to the right.  A villain who does this is just...annoying... and a reader wants to swat him like a fly and get on with the plot.

Creating a true chaotic evil character is exceptionally hard in fiction, though totally plausible in gaming tables.  A villain cannot "do" something "just because."  He cannot be stereotypical and cartoonish like Mr. Whiplash.

A Villain Has Motivation

If he can't be chaos personified, he must have motivation.  By motivation I mean a goal, and a chain of actions, that the reader can relate to.  He must be human.  Even if that humanity is defined far different than our own.

One of my other favorite villains is Claudius in Gladiator.  His humanity is different than mine, but his motivation is something I can, as a human being, understand.  He felt betrayed by his father and wanted the same respect and success his father knew.  He was denied his birthright, and in that era, it was an insufferable shame.  Therefore, anyone who knew the truth and who could cast suspicion about his father's death, would be eliminated.  When he acts against his nephew and sister, he has suffered the deepest of betrayals, and you understand, as that is transpiring, that when he finds out the fit is going to hit the shan.

A Villain Does Not Set Out to Be Evil

Nobody ever decides they are going to be evil.  In a villain's mind, he is doing the right thing, even if he knows society is against his actions.  Think Waco.  Think of all the pirates we love so much--they were villains to society.  This all goes back to motivation and the very important question the author must know, without a doubt, why is the villain doing this?  He is infallibly right at the core of his existence, and this must go back to his ideals, moral perspective, and perspective of the world around him.

I watched a National Geographic special about big cats where clearly the majestic lion was the villain.  He purposefully and brutally hunted four cheetahs, which to the photographer (a cheetah researcher) was completely unlike lion behavior.  In later analysis with a lion researcher they concluded one simple fact:  Though the Cheetah does not impose upon the lion's hunting grounds or 'menu', it stands to reason that the Cheetah kills lion cubs if able, to protect its own population.  Therefore the cheetah has become a mortal enemy of the lion, and made the horrific massacre completely plausible.  Did the lion set out to be evil in the eyes of mankind?  No.  But to me, who saw the brutality and understands how terribly fragile the cheetah population is, this lion was a huge villain.  (We'll say nothing about the fact the cheetahs fell into the Too Stupid To Live category in this particular scenario.  Ahem!)

A Villain Has Emotion

A memorable villain has emotion readers can bond with.  The author can pull this out, making the villain more ...unforgettable.  Again, we can go back to Claudius for this example--he is in pain with every betrayal.  Yes, we want him to die and pay for his crime, but we understand and his suffering pulls at us.  Another renowned villain is Magneto from X-Men.  He's a holocaust survivor and he knows what evils humans can wreck upon the world.  He is afraid of humans.  And he is willing to do anything to protect the mutants.

The more emotion an author can wrest out of a villain, the more a reader can relate to him.  So don't be afraid to dig deep and get into his mind.

A Villain is Proactive

Just like your main characters, a villain cannot be reactive.  I would go so far as to say the entire core of your plot is your villain.  He must drive the action.  Otherwise, he is ineffective and doesn't create the threat the author desires.  This also somewhat translates to a villain must be alpha -- at least in his psyche.

Most Villains Have A Streak of Goodness

If your villain has a soft spot (of the normal not deranged kind) for puppies, this makes him more likeable.  If the author can portray this, even when he's at his most wicked, (or even better if a wicked moment is pre-empted by an unexpected softness) he again becomes more human.  Like in Silence of the Lambs, the serial killer has a pet dog who he clearly adores.

This is really just the surface of villains, but if you, as an author, can keep these points in mind you're one step closer to mastering The Villain.  The better you craft your bad-guy, the better your overall plot will stick in reader's minds.

Looking for a freelance editor?  Check out Finish The Story!


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Good morning, everybody!  Today is release day!  YAY!

I'm so excited to have this third book out and share Lucan's story with everyone.  A little secret here:  In Immortal Hope I didn't particularly care for Lucan.  As Immortal Surrender came around, I remember really being uncomfortable with having to write Lucan's story because I didn't have much of a feel for him.  By the time I finished Immortal Trust...I had fallen in love with Lucan.  He surprised me now and then, and that really made the writing fun and enjoyable.

It's Tuesday, and that means more Teasers.  Last week I shared the prologue.  This week, I'm sharing the first half of Chapter One.  So let's dive in!

Immortal Trust
The Curse of the Templars, Book III

When archaeologist Chloe Broussard accepts the contract to lead a dig in Ornes, France, she has no idea she will uncover Veronica's Veil. When she does, she discovers a danger far greater than the demons that stalk her in the night. Azazel wants her, as well as the Veronica, and his chosen minion is her brother. Her hope lies with immortal Templar Knight, Lucan. Her life depends on oaths she knows nothing about.

For countless centuries, Lucan of Seacourt has lived with the knowledge that his brother killed their family. Now, as Azazel's darkness eats away at his soul, old betrayal stirs suspicion. He trusts no one. Not even the seraph who can heal his dying spirit.

With the fate of the Almighty hanging in the balance, Lucan must find faith in something more terrifying than the dark lord's creations. He must learn to believe his heart.

"The engrossing Curse of the Templars series hits another high note with its third installment, packed with the tension and passion fans have come to expect..." - Romantic Times Reviews 4/4


Chapter One

Ornes, France

Winter cast a gray pallor over snowcapped fields as the SUV wound down a narrow country lane. Lucan reclined in the passenger seat, outwardly the picture of perfect knightly composure. Inside, however, naught remained at peace. In the passing of nine miles, he would set his eyes upon his seraph. The weight of her identifying serpentine torc pressed into his palm. Though he kept his hand tucked into his coat pocket, his anxiety seeped out through the clench of his fingers. Would she welcome him? Or would he face the trials Merrick and Farran had when they found their eternal mates?

He shifted in his seat, crossed the opposite ankle over his knee. His right hand tapped against the passenger door’s armrest. Four days’ travel, and he had never known a more indefinite passing of time. Even after centuries of existence, when he had become accustomed to the never-ending setting suns, the short span of time was unbearable. Salvation came with this Chloe Broussard. Escape from the eternal suspicion that plagued his wakefulness.

Love too might grace his life—if the archangel Gabriel paired him appropriately. Though, in truth, Lucan cared little about the sentimental bonds. ’Twas the tie to brotherhood, the knowledge his fate would remain in the Almighty’s hands that mattered most. All else was naught but fancy. A trifle enjoyment of comfort the Templar cast aside long ago.

He breathed deeply to quell the rapid beat of his heart. If they did not arrive soon, he would rather shove open the door and walk. Whilst a foot journey would delay his inevitable meeting further, his mind would not be preoccupied with questions. Nor would he suffer this unexplainable hope he could not seem to cast aside.

“Rest easy, brother, we have but a few more miles.” Caradoc shifted behind the wheel. The grimace that crossed his face as his aching bones settled into the leather seat belied his own suffering.

For a heartbeat, guilt swamped Lucan. He should not be so eager to embrace healing when those he cared about suffered. As a former commander and the second unto Merrick, Caradoc deserved his soul pairing far more than Lucan. Merrick and Farran each found theirs—Lucan had become convinced Caradoc would follow. But nay, Gabriel came to him. Bade him to take Caradoc, enlist Gareth from Europe, and deliver the serpents to Chloe before Azazel could ensnare her.

Laughter in the backseat washed away Lucan’s brief unease. He glanced over his shoulder to find the younger Gareth grinning broadly. “Bah, Caradoc, you expect him to rest easy when he waits to discover whether his mate bears the face of an old crone or that of an angel’s grace?”

Caradoc shrugged, but the hint of a smile fringed his grim expression. “’Tis naught more than a betrothal. We have all been down such paths. Tell me, Gareth, when you were pledged as a lad, did you pause to consider what the maid would look like?”

Gareth’s laughter deepened. “Nay. She would bear me sons. More comely wenches were made for my pleasure.”

The reminder of lives left behind tightened Lucan’s chest. Banter that should have lightened his heart only brought bitterness. Scenes of the family he had once known, and their violent demise. The maid he would have wed had killed those who shared his blood. Or rather, the forbidden love she gave to a man Lucan believed capable only of generosity and kindness. She brought that man, the one he had called brother, to an early grave as well.

As if Caradoc sensed Lucan’s discomfort, he murmured. “Leave Enid behind, Lucan. She has no place in this.”

Lucan nodded long and slow. Enid resided in the grave. Next to her beloved. He had thought little of her through the centuries. He would not make the mistake of allowing her to rise from the dead. Yet the irony of circumstance did not escape him. Chloe posed the same risks. She held the same power to bring brothers to blows. To shred ties that ran deeper than blood and destruct families. For he would kill for her, as he had killed to avenge his murdered father.

She was his seraph. His to protect against all others, including his Templar brethren, should jealousy override sense and oaths. Already the fierceness of his preordained bond filled his blood.

The road curved around a sharp bend, then flattened out once more. Tall pines sheltered the asphalt from the recent snows. Ahead, a row of vehicles tucked into the landscape marked their destination. Caradoc slowed the SUV and eased into the gravel parking lot. He shut off the engine, then swiveled in his seat. His gaze flickered between Lucan and Gareth.

“Whilst we are here for Chloe, we cannot forget the Veronica. With it, Azazel can decode the angels’ language. Once Chloe uncovers the reliquary that protects it, he will stop at naught to obtain the sacred cloth.”

Lucan met Caradoc’s heavy stare, understanding all he did not say. If Chloe were oathed by that time, she would remain untouched. If Azazel discovered her seraph’s blood before she spoke her vows, a fate far worse than death awaited. The previous attempts on Noelle’s life lent credence to the archangels’ belief Azazel wished to replace his lost lover, Lilith.  Worse, should he possess a seraph, should he break the prophecy by claiming this one, Azazel’s ascension to the Almighty’s divine throne would all but become guaranteed.

Gareth broke the heavy silence by opening his door. Cold air washed into the comfortable heat. Caradoc winced as the gust cut through his heavy coat, and Lucan braced himself for the wintry outdoors. He stepped out into the snow.

Two mobile trailers sat beyond the memorial stones that marked this tiny village as a casualty of Hitler’s greed. Bits of rubble, chunks of buildings that once stood straight and proud, edged the gravel path to the trailers’ doors. Lucan surveyed the protruding rocks, sadness filling his heart. Such unnecessary destruction. Ornes could have become a great city like its sister, Verdun. ’Twas a good thing the European Templar commander, Alaric, deigned to accompany their quest. He would hate to see the nothingness his homeland had become. But like so many other strongholds that had once known glory, the le Goix legacy crumbled beneath the fist of time.

Like Lucan’s beloved Seacourt.

He shook off the momentary melancholy and fixed his gaze on the smaller trailer’s front steps. With purpose, he strode for the door. His brothers followed behind, their distance respectful.

Halfway down the path, the door burst open. Dressed in a coat so large it dwarfed her, a woman bounded out. Her long auburn hair caught in the breeze and streamed out behind her. She approached at a determined pace, arms folded across her chest.

Lucan’s pulse jumped as Chloe Broussard marched directly toward him. ’Twas time. Four days finally came to fruition with this moment. He found his smile, hoped it did not falter like the anxious stuttering behind his ribs. Letting go of her torc, he withdrew his hand from his pocket and extended it in greeting. “I am Lucan. ’Tis a pleasure to meet you.”

She came to an abrupt halt two feet before him. Her gaze dropped to his hand, before lifting to his face. Amber eyes widened for an instant, then narrowed just as quickly. “You were supposed to be here this morning. It’s almost five, almost dark, and my team’s sat idle all day waiting on the Church’s representatives to supervise what we’re perfectly capable of not only excavating, but also documenting, cleaning, and preserving for shipment. But it seems the Church didn’t trust our integrity.”

Lucan clamped his teeth together, silencing a defensive bark. God’s teeth, for once ’twould be nice if Gabriel made the bonding of seraphs easy.


Come back next week for the second half of Chapter One!


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Good morning, everyone!

We're back with another Sunday Seven clip from Immortal Trust, the third book in The Curse of the Templars, which releases on March 26th!  Two days from now, Yeah!!


Infuriated by her unwarranted attack on his honor, he strode across the room, grabbed her elbow, and spun her about. All thoughts of Julian forgotten, he stared hard into her eyes. “Two of us were present, Chloe. As I recall ’twas you who put your lips to mine first, and I who put things to a stop.”

Color flooded into her cheeks. Her eyes flashed like brittle pieces of glass. She jerked on her elbow, but Lucan held fast, denying her escape.


Immortal Trust
The Curse of the Templar, Book III

When archaeologist Chloe Broussard accepts the contract to lead a dig in Ornes, France, she has no idea she will uncover Veronica's Veil. When she does, she discovers a danger far greater than the demons that stalk her in the night. Azazel wants her, as well as the Veronica, and his chosen minion is her brother. Her hope lies with immortal Templar Knight, Lucan. Her life depends on oaths she knows nothing about.

For countless centuries, Lucan of Seacourt has lived with the knowledge that his brother killed their family. Now, as Azazel's darkness eats away at his soul, old betrayal stirs suspicion. He trusts no one. Not even the seraph who can heal his dying spirit.

With the fate of the Almighty hanging in the balance, Lucan must find faith in something more terrifying than the dark lord's creations. He must learn to believe his heart.


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Good morning!  Welcome to another Fantasy Friday installment!  Today I'm spotlighting Eustice, the newest release from Alex Gulczynski.  Alex has brought along an enjoyable excerpt for you today.  He's also introducing you to the world he's created.

Reaper Corps Book 1

ISBN: 9781476255484

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Young Adult

Amazon    smashwords

Eustice P. Jennings awakens alone and confused on an ugly piece of office furniture in Purgatory. Being dead is the least of her problems as she is quickly drafted into the dangerous Reaper Corps and plunged headfirst into the endless conflict between Heaven and Hell. Friends and allies are few and far as Eustice struggles to find her place in a surreal world she never imagined could exist.

Let's take a peek, shall we?

By: Alex Gulczynski

Let me paint you a picture.

The sun glows warm and bright in the East. Wind gently blows through green leaves making a nice and relaxing rustling sound high above. A hammock sways gently on the breeze, begging for someone to lay in it and make it complete. Ice slowly melts as it cools beer and soda in a brand new cooler. Smoke wafts upward from a grill as animal flesh is rendered down to its tastiest state. The smoke is enough to kick the saliva glands into overdrive, but not enough to sting the eyes. Cars are pulling up and people are casually but gleefully sauntering over a freshly mowed lawn.

This is my college graduation day. This is the day I successfully proved I can cram for tests, BS my way through an essay, and memorize facts by rote and dutiful dedication.

This is the day I thought to myself, “Now what?”

School was over with and done. I settled on a major in political science after abandoning my first goal of computer science. It didn't take long for me to realize that twelve hours in front of computer searching for a damned misplaced semi-colon was not for me. Political science called to me, not because I had grand dreams of going into politics or anything related to politics, but because it is a broad subject with math, history, and philosophy all tied together. I looked for a career in college but failed to find anything that sparked my passion.

Though on this day, as I approach the hammock with a cold beer in hand, I thought to myself, “You like reading. You like fantasy worlds. You like making up characters. Why not write a book?”
I followed this thought with an immediate, “Naaaah. You need to find a standard job and starting paying off your debt.”

Ten years later I wrote Eustice. I couldn't get away from wanting to write a book. I couldn't stop myself from making up stories in my head. I couldn't stop myself from being bored out of my mind at each new job I took. And once I got past the first twenty or so pages, I couldn't stop myself from wanting to finally finish a book.

I honestly don't know where the idea for Eustice came from or why this was the first idea I could put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and finish. I suppose it was inspired by On a Pale Horse by Piers Anthony. In that book a man shots and kills Death. He is then forced to take over the job. I read that book in my mid teens and it made a large impact. The book itself didn't make that large of an impact (it is still a good read though) but the idea behind it really gripped me. Something struck a cord about some Joe Schmoe becoming Death and having to file away souls like so many tax returns. That idea stayed with me and, perhaps, this is the result.

Read it and decide for yourself.


Chapter 1

Light pours in from behind my eyelids. Through my eyelids. My head pounds and surges with pain. What good are eyelids when they are so thin they don’t even do their job, I think bitterly. I fling my arm over my face to block out the light.

In the darkness, with the reassuring slight pressure of my arm over my eyes, I find a few moments’ solace. Respite from the throbbing pain in my head. I sigh and try not to think of anything at all. 

I have always held a strong fascination with meditation, with people who could clear their minds and sit for hours in peace. I marveled at that ability to embrace stillness. I marveled at it because it was something I could never do. Having a clear, pristine mind was such an alluring but alien concept to me.

My mind works continuously. I don’t want it to, it just does. I always felt like my brain and I were consistently at odds with each other. When I want rest and sleep, my brain constantly makes lists, reorders already existing lists, or looks for patterns in the world around me so it can make more lists. Subject doesn’t matter. It could be encounters with my friends, or a hyper fixation on a chance conversation with some new boy at school, or something altogether trivial, like why people toasted Pop-Tarts when they were so much better straight out of the package.
Oftentimes it was my homework mucking up my peacefulness. I have had it drilled into me numerous times from a young age how important education was to my future. I would stress about what paper I should write first. What reading chapter I should save for last. Would it be more efficient to do my math homework before my history? 

The irony is that, in the end, it didn’t matter much, because I would spend so much time and energy thinking about how to do my homework in the best way possible that I wouldn’t allow ample time to actually do it. I would end up staying up half the night rushing through just those things that were due the next day, not doing my best work on them but still eking out a decent grade.

This is how my life had evolved, a neurotic girl with a hyperactive brain. It doesn’t help that the brain is housed atop a short and stocky frame, either.

My parents always disapproved of my way of doing things. They told me that I was forming bad habits. 

College would be much more difficult than high school, and that I couldn’t just skate by like I was doing in high school.

I didn’t doubt them, they were probably right, but I argued with them. You see, I am stubborn too.

A stubborn, procrastinating, perfectionist. Not the best combination of character traits.

I sigh quietly to myself. The light is gone, but now my mind found a new thing to preoccupy my thoughts, killing whatever slight peace of mind I had found in its infancy. All I can focus on now is a quiet but persistent hum of some electrical device.

I try thinking of clouds to distract myself, but they soon hum and buzz with lightning. I try thinking of flowers, but soon buzzing bees begin to fly into them.

It is no use. I am going to find no rest here.

Slowly, I move my arm from away from my face. I push myself up into a sitting position, feeling the hard, coarse fabric of the miserable little couch I was lying on.  Eyes still closed, my head bent low almost to my knees, I run my hands through my dark, oily hair. I can’t remember the last time I took a shower. The prickling sensation of my fingertips dragging along my scalp eases some of the tension from my body.
I wonder at how long I have been lying on this horrid excuse for a piece of furniture. My back aches. My neck is tight. My legs have nearly gone numb, and still I hear that perpetual hum, now like a high-pitched whine of a belt sander against the temporal lobes of my brain.

Carefully, I open my eyes. I keep my head pointed down toward the floor to shield myself from the harsh lights above. My vision is filled with nondescript, pale beige carpet, ugly in its plainness. With my hands half cupped, half pressed against my forehead, I begin to raise my head.

A large, green potted plant and a dark, heavy oak desk materialize out of the haze, as my eyes adjust to the sickeningly unsympathetic white fluorescent lights of the room.  One flickers just beyond my perception and etches the high-pitched hum into my eardrums. Across the room stands a blank, off-white, sterile wall. 
The front of the room is frosted glass from ceiling to floor. One door stands in the middle of the glass wall. I can see another bank of fluorescent lights just outside the glass, and vaguely I can make out ghostly shadows moving farther out.

I have an intense sense of déjà vu, as well as complete confusion as to where I actually am. 
This place reminds me of somewhere I’ve been. Somewhere I went to as a small child. Somewhere that must have left an impression, but, frustratingly, somewhere that I can’t seem to recall. My memory is fuzzy, like stale bread with green mold spotted on it. I close my eyes and try to scrap off the green fuzz as best I can.
I finally decide that this place reminds me of my father’s office, designed to be plain and boring, yet suitable for everyone’s tastes. Not taking any chances at picking a color or shape that might offend someone’s aesthetic palate, but simultaneously not appealing to anyone’s liking. Or at least, I think it reminds me of my father’s office. For some reason, I’m having a hard time bringing up an exact image of the office. The mold is still there blocking any recollections.

But it doesn’t matter, I suppose. I hate this place from the moment I see it.

I sit there for I don’t know how long analyzing the bland pattern in the floor below me, not knowing what to do or where I am. This place is eerily familiar, but I know I have never been here before. I try to force myself to remember how I got here, but, frustratingly, I can’t. I have odd sensations of a cold room, an orange light, and a sticky feeling oozing all over my skin. It doesn’t make any sense to me. So I just sit there in a dazed state.

Eventually, my curiosity gets the better of me. Ignoring the aches in my muscles and the throbbing in my head, I brave the intense buzzing lights of the room and scan over the desk as best I can. It is immaculate. A small singular stack of paper lies on the far end, neatly ordered with all the papers aligned. A white coffee mug stands near me with a handful of pens and pencils standing at attention in it. A nameplate stands absolutely centered near the front lip of the desk, but I can’t read what it says from my sideways angle. 

Dominating the desk is an old and heavy-looking black typewriter.

It occurs to me that I have not seen a typewriter before. I mean, I know what they are, and I’ve seen them in movies or TV shows. But I realize just then that I have never actually seen a real one. It looks intimidating and sturdy enough to survive a bomb blast. I have a strong desire to touch it, press one of the keys and hear the clack as the letter block slams some ink into the fresh, white sheet of paper rolled into it.

I don’t even know where I am, but I decide to give in to my urge. I figured, what the hell. It is only one letter on one sheet of paper. Plus, I want to get up anyway to read the name on the nameplate. I might as well know whose office I am in.

I move to stand up, but as soon as I push myself off the couch, the muscles in my legs protest, freezing in place, and a large rush of blood to my head makes me feel dizzy and nauseated. 

Carefully, I gently lower myself back down and hang my head between my knees, breathing deeply, trying not to throw up. I note with some dry humor that my vomit would probably blend in with the carpet. Maybe no one could even tell it was there. 

The thought of puking fills my mouth with copious amounts of salvia, and I can feel the tightening of my lower jaw as my stomach prepares to launch whatever was in my stomach out of my body. This is not good. I fight with every inch of my being not to vomit right then and there. Furiously I try to think of something else, and immediately I can hear that insidious buzzing again. Thankfully, my mind is distracted and annoyed enough that my stomach is quelled.

Sitting there, taking long, labored breathes, and gritting my teeth in frustration, I hear a latch turn, and I look up to see the door opening. And I think to myself, “God, what now?”

Chapter 2

My mouth is dry, my back is frozen in place as I whip my head around to stare at the opening door. Nervousness floods my body and my belly fills with ice. I don’t know where I am or how I got here. I have no idea what type of person is walking through the door. I feel vulnerable and exposed. My breath stops.

Quickly, a small woman enters the room. Her posture is prim and straight, like she is dangling from strings. She wears black subdued heels but only to increase her size and stature. A long, dark skirt covers most of her legs, and a black, angular coat covers the rest. Her nose is long and hooked with slim wire-frame glasses propped up on the bridge. Her lips are blood red and her dark black hair is pulled back into a bun so tightly I think the skin on her forehead might tear apart from the strain.

She moves fast and briskly closes the door behind her. I feel naked as she fixes an intense stare at me.
“You are awake.” She speaks like she looks: efficient and proper.

I don’t say anything in response. Partly because I don’t know what to say and partly because I am not so sure my tongue is still working. So I just give a slight, stupid nod.

The lady stands by the door for a moment, scanning me with a penetrating look. She is sizing me up, making judgments and evaluations about my character. I feel the need to make a better impression, so I struggle to sit up a little more straight, bring my knees together and lay my hands flat on my thighs.

She gives a curt “hmmpf,” which I can barely hear and walks with long, precise strides around the far side of the desk, giving me a wide berth, and sits down. I feel like I should say something, but the lady speaks first.
“Eustice P. Jennings.” She says plainly and neatly.

 I flinch at my name being called out. I have never liked my name, but have never liked my nicknames either. My name is stuck to me and I am stuck to it.

Reflexively, I respond with a meager, “Present.” And halfheartedly raise my hand. I am just trying to lighten the mood, but the woman does not seem to notice.

“You have caused me quite the bit of trouble.” Great. Already I have pissed this woman off and I don’t even know who she is or how I’ve done it. She motions to a chair across from her on the other side of her desk.
Meekly, I get up. Fortunately, my legs and head both seem to function much better now. Walking over to the chair, I am unsteady and my knees threaten to buckle once or twice, but I sit down again without incident. I take the opportunity to check out the nameplate now that I am sitting right in front of it.

Beatrice A. Krugmen is etched in the bronze plate.

“Beatrice A. Krugmen,” I think, rolling the name around in my head. Looking at the prim and proper woman with the hooked nose, blood red lips, and wire frame glasses, I quickly think, “fitting name.”
Smaller letters beneath her name on the plate read: Division of Lost Souls, Lead Admin.

Division of Lost Souls? The strangeness of the title hits me like a slap to the face, but before I can give it much more thought, Beatrice clears her throat and speaks.

“For some reason, the powers that be saw fit to not follow the proper channels. To not follow protocol and …” She eyes me as if this is all my fault, when I have no idea what she was talking about, “to not inform me of all this beforehand.” I get the feeling that being in the dark is not something Beatrice takes kindly to.

Beatrice pauses and brings her hands up to her face, index fingers pointed, she makes a rigid triangle under her chin. I think I can make out a few dark whiskers here and there dangling discreetly from her chin and upper lip. My attention snaps back to Beatrice’s eyes when she speaks.

“I do not like surprises. Indeed, I make it my job to eliminate them. You are a surprise. One I plan to get rid of quickly.” I don’t know why she tells me this other than to make me feel bad at what I’ve done to her. But I don’t even know what I’ve done!

I feel a surge of blood flush my cheeks. I don’t understand what is going on, but I know enough not to like the way this woman is talking to me, “Look,” I say more curtly than I probably should have, “I’m sorry for whatever has happened, but I don’t even know where I am right now, or how I got here.”

Beatrice lowers her hands, angling her body forward, and stares closely into my eyes. Immediately, I feel meek and at a disadvantage, but that just makes me dig in my heels and hold my ground. I try to be nice to people when I can, yet I also don’t appreciate this lady’s tone. I meet her gaze and stare back.

After several long seconds, Beatrice leans back. A small smirk briefly appears on one side of her mouth before it dies just as quickly, “No, I suppose you don’t,” is all she says.

Another handful of seconds pass and I feel the need to speak, but again Beatrice cuts me off before I can even start. She looks at a watch on her left wrist and then abruptly rises out of her chair. “The ceremony is almost over, but we can catch the end of it if we hurry.” She briskly walks around the desk and toward the door as she speaks. I can almost hear the carpet groan with pain as she thrusts her heels into it.

Pausing with one hand on the door, she leans over and grabs a large, black piece of clothing off a coat rack I didn’t even noticed before. As she opens the door, she throws the garment at me. It hits me square in the face. My nose is filled with the smell of dust and boiled cabbage.

“Put that on and hurry up.”

I stand up from my chair and fumble with the huge piece of cloth. I can’t even tell what it is yet. It looks like an old, thick, black bedsheet. I struggle to find any holes or discernible way to wear the damned thing.
Beatrice rolls her eyes and a sound of frustration escapes her lips. She walks over to me, grabs the fabric and throws it over my head. Blackness fills my vision, and I almost gag on the musty smell pervading this horrid garment. The next thing I feel is Beatrice’s hand painfully grabbing my arm, “Are you always this slow?” she asks, annoyed, as she drags me out the door.

With only one arm, I fight my way through the darkness and desperately try to find a hole for my head to fit through. All the while, Beatrice pulls me along through a maze of what I assume are cubicles and other desks. I am vaguely aware of other people moving out of our way or doing work at their desks as we storm past them.

Beatrice stops to open another door, and I finally manage to find an armhole.  After some more struggling, I figure out this black garment draped over my head is a robe of some sort. Huge and ungainly though. I am still having trouble finding the collar for my head to go through when Beatrice walks through the open door. The soft plop of her heels on the carpet turns into a hard echoing clip-clop as she walks out into a hallway.

Short of breath, I yank my arm from out of Beatrice’s grasp. The clip-clopping of her heels stops. Now I can hear the steady tap of one foot as she waits impatiently for me.  With both my hands, I am able to find the hole for my head.  I breathe deeply as my head emerges from its dank prison. 

Beatrice’s hands are firmly planted on her hips, “Are you finished?” She asks before turning and continuing her fast-paced walk. I have to half jog just to keep up with her.

We walk down blandly decorated, harshly lit corridors. The walls are some reddish dark wood panels, the floor a polished checkerboard of black and white. The reflected glare from the fluorescent lights above renews my headache with a vengeance. 

I try to take in the names and numbers etched on the doors that we pass, but we are moving too quickly. For whatever reason, I am already on thin ice with this icy woman and don’t want to dillydally any longer. My curiosity will have to wait.

We make a few turns down similar-looking hallways until we come to two large double doors.  Beatrice pauses and smooths her tightly wound hair of nonexistent strands that might have escaped the stranglehold her bun has on them. She also brushes her shoulders and wipes her palms on her hips. Then she looks at me and frowns.

I look down at myself. I hardly recognize anything. My body is hidden in a voluminous black robe that drags on the floor and hangs loose over my hands. I can’t imagine I look good in it, but she gave me this damn robe and made me put it on. Why is she frowning?

I give a halfhearted shrug and try to pull the sleeves over my hands but with no luck. They just slide back down after a few moments.

Beatrice motions with her hands and mouths “put the hood up.” I don’t know why she is being so quiet, but not knowing is a common theme of the night.

Slowly, I feel around the back for a hood. The robe was so large with so many folds it is difficult to find. Eventually, with Beatrice still frowning, I manage to find it and pull it over my head. 

Immediately everything changes. I can feel the waist of the robe cinch up and hug me just above my hips. It is tight but comfortable. My hands are freed as the sleeves shrink down to a normal length, and I have no fear of tripping anymore as the lower hem hangs just above my toes now, no longer dragging a mile behind me on the floor.

I am just about to remark how strange this all feels and how it works, when Beatrice opens the large double doors.

I step through and find myself in the middle of a large theater. There are rows of seats to my left sloping upward and rows of seats sloping down to my right. The room is hardly lit, making it difficult to properly see anything. A single light is illuminating the stage, and a single person stands in the center of the light. He is wearing a robe just like I am.

Straightaway, I sense something odd about his appearance. Though I can’t place what. He seems of average build. Not too big and not too small. He stands with his hands at his sides and seems comfortable in the lone spotlight. His hood is raised just like mine. Since the light is above him, his face is mostly covered in shadow, giving him a ominous look. Even worse is the little of his face I can see. It’s gaunt and too angular, too white.
As I continue to look, something else peculiar jumps out at me that I didn’t notice at first. I can see his teeth. Why can I see his teeth? Then I notice with shock. He has no lips. 

He has no skin at all. 

My jaw drops and my stomach flips over inside my belly. His chin is pure bone and his white teeth glare at me from across the stage with a sinister smile. I raise my hand to cover my open mouth and to preemptively fight off a deepening sickness in the pit of my stomach. 

The room is silent and I can only continue to stare, frozen in place. Many awkward seconds pass, until Beatrice clears her throat.

“We have a late comer.” Is all she says. When nothing happens, she quickly adds with a note of distain, “Pardon the interrupt.”

The man without skin speaks. A gravelly baritone rumbles over the chairs and hits me in the face, “Well now. This is surprising.” He raises a hand and I have to stop myself from retching. His fingers are long, thin, and tapered to a point. They are also pure white. Pure bone.

“But where are our manners,” the bone man spreads out both his hands in a wide arc, “Class. Let us welcome our new guest.”

I hadn’t seen them before, but now a dozen or so other hooded and robed figures seated in the front rows stand and materialize out of the darkness. They all turn to look at me. In the darkness I can’t see their faces. Their hoods reveal only more darkness inside. Images of skulls leering at me through the shadows fill my mind. For a moment, I fear my knees will give way and I will collapse to the ground. Through sheer force of will, I hold firm even after what happens next.

One by one, the robed figures stare at me and give a nice, polite round of applause.


About the Author:

Eustice is Alex Gulczynski's debut novel. He is currently living in Seattle and teaching science to elementary students. He and his wife had their first child in December. He is using these sleepless nights to work on the next book to further the story of Eustice and Thayer. He hopes to have it out by March 2013.

Keep in Touch!:  Facebook  |  Twitter: @alexgulczynski  |  Goodreads

A Bewitching Book Tours Guest


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Good morning, everyone!  Please take a few minutes to welcome Award-Winning Author, p.m. terrell, who is sharing her new book with us, Dylan's Song, and going to talk to us a little bit about my favorite place--Ireland!

Dylan's Song
by: p.m. terrell

Dylan Maguire returns to his native Ireland with psychic spy Vicki Boyd. Their mission: to locate and extract a CIA Agent who disappeared in Dublin while on the trail of a known terrorist. But when Dylan receives word that his grandmother is dying, he is plunged into a past he thought he’d left behind forever. His mission and the dark secrets he’d sought to keep hidden begin to merge into an underworld that could cost him his life. He must now confront his past demons and the real reason he left Ireland—while Vicki harbors a secret of her own.

* * *
Suspense Magazine says, “p.m.terrell’s writing is powerfully written and masterfully suspenseful; you have to hang on for the ride of your life.” Midwest Book Review says the Black Swamp Mysteries series is “page-turning action, unforgettable characters, breathtaking descriptions and unexpected plot twists.” And syndicated reviewer Marcia Freespirit says the series is “riveting, spell-binding, sexy and intense!”
* * *

So tell us, p. m.,  Why Ireland?


My father was always deeply involved in our genealogy so I learned from an early age that my ancestors had immigrated to America from Ireland and Scotland. When my mother’s brother journeyed to Ireland and found that their roots also originated in Ireland, it cemented my affinity for the Emerald Isle.

But a few years ago, I began to plunge into my Irish heritage in more detail while writing Songbirds are Free, the true story of my ancestor, Mary Neely, who had been captured by Shawnee warriors in 1780 near Fort Nashborough (now Nashville, TN) and held in captivity for three years as a slave before she was able to escape and find her way home. She was Scot-Irish, one of my father’s ancestors, who had made the difficult journey from Ireland to make a new way of life in America. The result for Mary Neely and her immediate family was disastrous: both her parents, William and Margaret, were killed by Indians in separate raids, as well as her youngest brother. Only two out of ten children survived past the age of 35.

It captivated me how they could have left the only home they’d ever known to move to a country they had never seen before. Their descendants now number in the hundreds if not thousands, many of whom contacted me after the publication of Songbirds are Free and the subsequent book, River Passage.

When I began researching the plot for Vicki’s Key, the second book in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, it was important for Vicki to fall in love fast and hard for what she thought was “the perfect man.” Of course, no one and nothing is perfect, which added to the plot in that suspense/thriller. I researched what women thought of as the perfect man and discovered the number one most loved accent in the world is the Scottish; the second is the Irish and the third is Australian. I decided on an Irishman because the cadence is softer and more melodic than the Scots and they have a reputation for being good-natured, happy and humorous. I also knew very little about Australia to fill in the backstory of the character.

Dylan Maguire was supposed to make an appearance in only one book but I must have been a bit too good at making him “the perfect man” because the editors said he HAD to remain as a main character throughout the entire series. He’s by far the most beloved character I’ve created to date. He had come to America to care for an aging Laurel Maguire in Vicki’s Key and his background had remained mysterious through the first few books. I knew at some point I would have to take the reader to his homeland to discover the real mystery behind his desire to leave all he’d ever known to come to America.

I fell in love with the Irish backdrop so of course there will be more mysteries set there in future books.

See -- I'm not the only author who is enchanted with Ireland.  And I have to agree with p.m. on the Irish accent.  Mmm!

Let's take a peek, shall we?


“Why are you so adamant about not going back?” Vicki said. “I don’t understand.”

He strode to the back door. With his hand almost on the knob, he stopped abruptly and turned around to face them. “The flight is a hundred hours long.”

“It’s six hours,” Sam said.

“I’ll have jet lag for weeks!”

“Two days, tops.” Sam’s voice was becoming quizzical.

“Are you afraid of flying?” Vicki asked.

No!” he bellowed. He opened the kitchen door. “The weather there is atrocious!”

“I can’t believe you’re acting like this is such an inconvenience for you!” Vicki shouted.

“In me whole life,” he said as if he hadn’t heard her, “it’s rained once.” He held up his finger. “One time!”

“Really?” Vicki said. “Once?”

And it’s lasted for thirty years!” With that, he marched outside and slammed the door behind him.

Vicki and Sam stared at the door for a long moment without speaking. Then she turned to him. “I’m at a loss here.”

He continued staring at the kitchen door as if he hadn’t heard her.

“Do you know why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?” Vicki asked.

“He can’t refuse a mission,” Sam said quietly. “You can’t pick and choose your missions in this line of work.”

Vicki turned to stand directly in front of him.

“Do you know,” she said in a stronger voice, “why he doesn’t want to see Ireland again?”

He looked at her as if seeing her for the first time.

“You know, don’t you?”

He looked away from her. His eyes roamed the kitchen as though he was searching for something. Vicki stood her ground until he said, “No. I have my suspicions; that’s all.”


GIVEAWAY - p.m. also has a fabulous giveaway today.  She will be awarding a Celtic Knot Necklace to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  Look at this pretty trinket!

To be entered to win this prize, leave a comment below, and follow the tour, commenting as you go.  The more you enter, the better your chances of winning!  Complete tour schedule can be found here.

About the Author:

p.m.terrell is the award-winning, internationally acclaimed author of more than 16 books. Vicki's Key, one of the first books in the Black Swamp Mysteries series, was one of five finalists in the 2012 International Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense) and 2012 USA Best Book Awards (Mystery/Suspense.) River Passage, an historical work based on her ancestor's migration to Fort Nashborough in 1779-1780, won the 2010 Best Fiction & Drama Award. The Nashville (TN) Metropolitan Government Archives determined it to be so historically accurate that they entered the original manuscript into their Archives for future researchers and historians.
Prior to becoming a full-time author in 2002, terrell founded and operated two computer companies in the Washington, DC area. Her clients included the United States Secret Service, CIA, Department of Defense and federal and local law enforcement. Her specialty is in the areas of computer crime and computer intelligence. Her experience in these areas have greatly influenced her books' plots.
She is the co-founder of The Book 'Em Foundation, whose slogan is "Buy a Book and Stop a Crook" and whose mission is to raise awareness of the link between high crime rates and high illiteracy rates. She founded Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair, an annual event to raise money to increase literacy and reduce crime.
For more information on Book 'Em North Carolina, visit their website  or stop in at their blog.
p.m.terrell's website is and her blog is
She can be found on Twitter @pmterrell, and on Facebook here and on her author page.

A Goddess Fish Promotions Tour Guest


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This post is for a dear friend of mine.  Or maybe two.  Or three.  Or yeah, you too, you know who you are.

At some point in every author's career -- usually at the beginning for most -- an author asks what he should be writing, or where is it most advantageous to be writing, or what genre is selling and so forth.  I want to premise this blog with another blog article, from a woman I've not met personally, but consider a mentor in many ways:  Kristine Kathryn Rusch.  You should read This Blog Entry -- where she discusses this same topic, far more eloquently, and from a different standpoint, than I do.

We've all asked an agent or an editor a variant of this question:  "What's selling?"  And we've all heard, and simultaneously rolled our eyes, the answer, "Write what you want."

We, as insecure authors nurturing children, want guidance.  We want to up our chances at becoming the next bestselling author, the next #1 NY Times Bestseller, and the next big deal.  Maybe we don't conceptualize the question that way at the time--we just want an agent to sign us!-- but it's there, lurking, and wanting satisfaction.  And that satisfaction never comes.

So what should you be writing?

I can answer that without hesitation.  Write what you want.

Argh!  Yes, I know, you'd like to smack me right now.  But it's the truth, and if you're working with an editor  or agent who isn't telling you what you should be doing, count yourself as blessed.  Because that editor or agent is telling you, in so many words, write what you feel compelled to write, then we'll see if we can do anything with it.

In today's market that is a gift.  An author has never been more free to make choices about his or her writing.  Tired of being branded "like Evanovich"?  Would rather be branded "A must read for Grisham fans!"  This is your time to shine--the playing field is wide open.

Write that book that is calling to you, and then think about what you can do with it. 

Don't believe me?  Let me illustrate what happened to me for a little while.  I'll start by saying, however, I have never been pressured by my agent or editors to write anything specific.  I've never been told.

But I did open my mouth and ask my agent what she thought had the best chances after a bit of a pitfall on a particular idea.  She gave me her thoughtful and very insightful opinions.  I learned a lot in that conversation--about what the market was doing at that time, about where my potential books had possibilities (and didn't), and I walked away from the conversation totally energized...until it came to writing the first word on the project we agreed was the most marketable.

You see, I had another idea surging through the back of my mind.  And I didn't want to be working on that project that we mutually agreed was the best option.  Every word became a nail stuffed under my fingernails, until I didn't want to sit down at my computer and do anything.

One evening, on pins and needles, I communicated with her my frustration and my desire to work on this other project we had barely discussed.  And I set aside the painful project and that block came undone.  Words started to flow.  I completed what I think is the best novel I've ever written, threw myself into a brand-new market, and my agent loves the story.  (I must mention too that when I sent that letter I got nothing but support in response.)  Am I worried about it selling?  No, I'm not worried.  Of course I want it to sell, and sell big!!  But this book rocks, and if an editor doesn't feel the same, it will find a home somewhere and do well.

So you see, by seeking out "what the market wants" you aren't really following your passion for being an author.  You're writing someone else's project, not your own, and while it's completely plausible to do an excellent job, if your heart isn't behind what you're writing, you'll stall out.

In today's market, writing from your heart has little to no bearing on your sales potential.  If you want to write something for a niche market, you can conceivably corner all the sales in that market and still do quite well for yourself.  Your "risk" which scares traditional publishers might end up the next "50 Shades".  There is nothing holding you back.

Is it good to seek a little guidance?

Sometimes it can be helpful.  In my case, when we had the initial conversation, I had about three ideas I liked equally as well.  I just had a fourth come in and sideswipe me.  If the fourth hadn't happened, the project we agreed on might have been just as fulfilling personally.  But stop looking for someone to tell you what to do.

This is your career.  You went into it with hopes and aspirations.  That hope, that passion, carried forward to the book you published.  Don't let it go, and don't get stuck in someone else's mold.  Particularly if you have a project that you believe in, that may not fit a nice and tidy label.

What's a freelance editor's role?

I wanted to mention this too as an editor, because, with the wide-open horizons of self publishing, I see a lot of "non traditional" books.  That's the upside of self publishing.  You can publish whatever you want.  But I believe that if I see a book come in under one label, and it doesn't fit the expectations of that label, it's my job as someone who's taking your money to say "I think you would do better if you market it this way."  The opposite of that is, someone pays me, I work through the book, let it go, don't say a word, the book flops, and suddenly the editor is blamed.  And the editor should be blamed, so I say.

It's not good business in my opinion to take on a project that's say, labeled romance, when I know that romance readers aren't going to get what they're expecting if they plucked this off the romance shelves.  That can lead to negative reviews, which will ultimately lead to poor sales, and it can seriously damage a budding author's name.  You've paid someone to make the words work right.  Shouldn't that someone also offer their expertise on where what you've composed will likely grant you the best return on your invested dollar?

A freelance editor isn't "rejecting" your work in a conversation like this.  She's not saying "You can't publish this".  She's saying, "I see some inconsistencies for this market, that are not inconsistent in this other market, and if you make a small tweak here with your plot, you can fit this other market and have better earning potential."

To me, that's far better than letting a book go out to the world with aspects a hard-core reader will scream about, and passively set a book up to not do well.

Back to my point:

Write what you want -- there is no should be.  The passion you have for the project of your heart will prevent you from completely stalling out.  If it sells, the energy you've created in those words will carry it over mountains.  Should you discover the book won't fit into a traditional publisher's line-up, then you have a multitude of options in front of you.  Figure out what to do with the book after it's written.

And if someone involved with your career is telling you not to do something because it isn't marketable, then seriously, take some time out and evaluate whether this person is working for you or against you.  I offer this simple anecdote from my years of raising horses:

If I hire someone to promote my medal-winning stallion, and that employee tells me he's not pushing the horse because his coloring isn't flashy enough, I will be finding someone else to promote my stallion.  Instantly.


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Hi, everyone!

So last week Immortal Protector came out--I hope you've been enjoying Iain's story.  This week we're keeping the Templars going, but changing up to the coming release on March 26th, Immortal Trust, The Curse of the Templars, Book III

So with much ado, let's dig right in!

Immortal Trust
The Curse of the Templars, Book III
Pre-Order Now!

When archaeologist Chloe Broussard accepts the contract to lead a dig in Ornes, France, she has no idea she will uncover Veronica's Veil. When she does, she discovers a danger far greater than the demons that stalk her in the night. Azazel wants her, as well as the Veronica, and his chosen minion is her brother. Her hope lies with immortal Templar Knight, Lucan. Her life depends on oaths she knows nothing about.

For countless centuries, Lucan of Seacourt has lived with the knowledge that his brother killed their family. Now, as Azazel's darkness eats away at his soul, old betrayal stirs suspicion. He trusts no one. Not even the seraph who can heal his dying spirit.

With the fate of the Almighty hanging in the balance, Lucan must find faith in something more terrifying than the dark lord's creations. He must learn to believe his heart.

"The engrossing Curse of the Templars series hits another high note with its third installment, packed with the tension and passion fans have come to expect..." - Romantic Times Reviews 4/4



Whence comes the teacher, she who is blind shall follow.
The one who digs in dust precedes the finding of the jewel.
And she who understands the sword precludes the greatest loyalty.
When darkness rapes the land, the seraphs shall purify the Templar
and lead the sacred swords to victory.
—Ancient Prophecy of the Knights Templar

Ornes, France

Julian Broussard glanced out the frosty window at a distant mound of rock and cursed his sister’s ridiculous fear of the dark for the hundredth time. If she weren’t such a goose, he’d have someone to share the nightly rounds. Another pair of hands to pick up tools their team of student archaeologists left lying in the mud. Another set of eyes to check the waterproofed markers that identified bits and pieces they’d chiseled out of frozen ground.

But no, as usual, Chloe and her imaginary demons managed to find sanctuary in the hotel’s ample warmth before the last student left the site. Leaving Julian an hour’s worth of work with only a flashlight to guide his way around the exposed medieval structures.

He muttered and thumped open the mobile trailer’s lightweight door. A frigid northern whipped across his face, stealing his breath. The scent of snow lingered in the air. With luck, it would skip over Ornes and carry on into Paris. Now that they were finally into the guts of what they’d come to find, a snowstorm would only piss him off further. He’d had his fill of melting ice, moving snow, and needing a jackhammer to break through frozen soil.

Pebbles crunched beneath his feet as he trudged down the steep path that led to the excavation site. Hunkered down in his coat, muffler about his ears, he followed the bold white beam of light. His breath billowed out before him, and he wished once more that they could transport the whole damn project to Arizona. He despised the cold.

His light caught on the narrow shelf of stones that marked the boundary. Forty-two days of excavating ground, moving aside the crumbled remnants Hitler’s bombs left behind, and at last, the feudal castle rose from the depths of the earth. With every exterior nuance recorded, tomorrow they would begin scaling off the interior. Rebuilding walls. Laying out stones and whatever else they found in the fortified enclosure.

If luck was on their side, they’d locate the stash vagabonds reported at the start of the year. Damn shame he couldn’t force the man who’d been jailed for stealing artifacts into identifying the exact location. Even more damning, the other thief died out here. Supposedly of fright.

Fright, my ass. They probably fought over the take.

In any case, the rumor fueled Chloe’s paranoia to exceptional heights. She hardly ever neared the forest’s edge, day or night. Locked away in the field trailers, she catalogued bits of pottery, fragments of stone, and detailed their discoveries in their required logs.

A glimmer of gold halted his walk. He swung the flashlight before him and cocked his head as the light glinted off a jutting fragment in the earth. Julian stepped over the remnants of what had once been a thick stone wall and squatted before the golden chip. With the butt end of the flashlight between his teeth, he plucked his trowel from his back pocket. Using the point, he loosened the ground around the object. Chunks broke free. He brushed them aside with his thumb.

A handle? He frowned at the exposed scrollwork design. The thieves had brought in a golden chalice with a similar design. Could this be a serving pitcher? In gold? Julian scraped at the earth with the flat edge of his tool.

The breeze picked up, stirring the overhead branches. He tucked his chin deeper into his coat, determined to ignore the near-freezing temperature. A few more carefully placed wedges of the point, and he’d have . . .

His hand stilled as the gravel crunched behind him. Though thick clouds obscured the sky, an even thicker shadow descended over his shoulder. The hair at the nape of his neck lifted, and an unexplainable shudder rolled down his spine. His heart stuttered into an unnatural cadence.

Closing his fingers around the trowel’s wooden handle, he poised the weapon to defend himself and turned.

A hand shot out. Fingers dug into his shoulder. Julian lifted his gaze across a blackened chain-mail-clad chest, up a thick neck, and onto a coif-covered head. Shadows marred the man’s face, blocking all features save for his eyes. But the eerie green light that filled a malicious gaze closed Julian’s throat.

Not human.

The illogical thought drifted across his mind seconds before the hand on his shoulder tightened and dragged him to his feet. Despite the utter lack of heat in the air, sweat broke over Julian’s skin. He swallowed hard, told himself ghosts only lived in his sister’s mind.

“Azazel sent for you.”

The hollow empty laugh that issued from the ebony-clad man’s throat silenced the feeble protests of Julian’s mind. Nothing living made that sort of spine-chilling sound.

“Wh-who?” he croaked.

“You will bring him the Veil.”

“The veil? What veil?” Julian twisted his shoulders, attempting escape.

The man’s grip clamped into bone. Pain shot down Julian’s arm, wrenching a pitiful cry from his throat. As he stumbled against a rush of dizziness, a fist slammed into his face. Pinpricks of light burst behind Julian’s eyes. Distantly, he recognized he was moving. Leaves crunched beneath the being’s boots. Chain mail clinked in the stillness. The revolting stench of death assaulted his nose.

Grasping at the last of his strength, Julian fought off the pull of unconsciousness and opened his eyes. What stood before him justified every irrational fear his sister possessed. Red-orange eyes gleamed with wicked hunger. Yellowish fangs protruded from an unholy face.

The thing that had brought him into the forest thrust him into a deadly embrace. Claws raked across his back, slid between his ribs. Agony lanced through his body. An anguished cry tore from his throat.

“Yes, scream,” the creature murmured. “It is so much better when you scream.”

Tendrils of darkness fingered at Julian’s mind. He grasped at them, desperate for the promised escape. But seconds before he succumbed to blissful oblivion, he felt the invasion. The foul, horrific, glorious presence of death pressed against his mind. A whisper of command more comforting than any cessation of his heart.

Then nothing.

Come back next week for Chapter One!


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