31 January 2012

Tuesday Tales 31st Jan

Thank you for dropping in to read this week's TUESDAY TALES

The prompt is 'Save'

Sacha Mathieu Gasquet swore beneath his breath, hoping the carefully chosen music in the background covered his irritated expletive. Overhead lights strategically placed spotlighted many of the different groups playing a social tango as one or more joined and left groups to drift on to another. The scent of indoor trees and plants vied with expensive perfume. The rise and fall of conversation as businessmen worked the room, all reminding him of a pack of penguins huddled together in the arctic, while the women, eager to out-sparkle each other with their ropes of diamond wound round their necks and wrists, drifted at their sides. How come he’d never objected to the monotony of the routine until this evening? Not only the men, Sacha decided as he watched a couple of women, one in along midnight blue ankle length gown and the other in a rich brown that enhanced her hair and never crossed the line from professional business woman to professional companion.

If someone didn’t save him soon, he’d deck the next person who squeezed his hand when they shook it, he vowed beneath his breath, as the next man in the long queue waiting to be presented to him, approached.

Along with his brothers and members of the Jubilee Committee he’d approved the arrangements for his father’s silver jubilee, celebrating twenty-five years as King, but the last six months of receptions, tours parties and official appearances on his parents’ behalf was wearing thin. He was thankful he’d never have to step into his father’s shoes. That was his older brother’s destiny and failing Henri; Simeon, his twin, beat him into the world by six minutes.

The fumes of whiskey and Havana cigar reached Sacha before the portly, round-faced tub of a man. Bowing to the inevitable he still winced when the idiot nearly crushed his hand to a pulp.

"Archibald Clairmont."  The Master of Ceromonie's voice rang out seconds before the man grabbed his hand and shook it as though he were a terrier with a bone.

“Good to see you, my boy.”

When Sacha offered a blank, and he hoped, regal stare, the man laughed, slapped him on the arm and challenged his childhood memory.

“Shouldn’t expect you to remember your godfather, should I? After all I’ve been on the other side of the world for most of your life.”

A vague memory when he was about six years old, surfaced of a bubbly man who always surrounded himself with everything associated with a professional clown. He offered a tentative smile.

“Busted.” Sacha agreed, and searched the man’s suddenly anxious face.

“Don’t leave without talking to me.” The man waited long enough to obtain a nod of acknowledgement before allowing himself to be moved on.

For a moment, Sacha watched as he was surrounded by the mêlée of guests in the ball room.

“Mrs. Rosamond Hamilton.” The Master of Ceremonies ranf out about the general mixture of muted conversation and background music coming from the orchestra at the far end of the room.

The carefully presented official smile slipped right off his face when he stared into the startled sky-blue eyes of Rosie from his sister-in-law’s riding school for disabled children. Before the official could utter another word, Sacha grinned, and instead of offering the standard air kiss, aimed straight for her luscious red lips.

“It’s good to see you,” he said, and discovered he spoke no more than the truth, while remembering the dances he’d stolen during the Valentine Day’s bash they’d held at the riding school. And more, he recalled the sizzling electricity between them when he’d pulled her close enough to feel her heart racing in time with his own.

“Mrs. Hamilton is co-owner of a charity that offers riding facilities for disabled children.” The Master of Ceremonies voice cut through his memories.

“Mrs.?” Struggling to shove the shock and fury the image of Rosie in another man’s arms, another man’s bed aroused, he dropped her hand like a hot potato.


He saw the pain in her eyes, and fought for sympathy when relief warred for supremacy. “I’m sorry,” he lied, and understood why since his departure from the Scottish farm and riding school he’d left every woman he’d partnered over the last six months standing dumbstruck with wrath when he declined their invitations to share their bed.

Though what they had to be angry about he refused to acknowledge. Simply appearing at an event on his arm in the social calendar assured the woman of weeks of headline news in every major magazine and TV news channels for several months. And always they gained a sparkly trinket from Tiffany’s. He looked down at the wary eyes of the woman who’d haunted him for so long and let the first genuine smile reach his own.

“It’s good to see you, are you in London for long?”

“I leave in the morning.”

A rustle from the lengthening queue fueled his sudden anxiety. “Where are you staying?”

Rosie named her hotel, coloured when he squeezed her hand, and allowed herself to be escorted into the crush of people in the ballroom.

He didn’t stop to wonder why he couldn’t let Rosie leave before he’d spent some time with her. One look in his security guard’s direction brought the man to his side. A few words of instruction garnered a nod of acceptance and with a satisfied grin he turned to welcome the next guest.

By moving Rosie's things to a spare suite on the same floor of his floor of the hotel, she couldn't she leave for home before he saw her again.

29 January 2012

Six Sentence Sunday ~ 29th Jan

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments, and visits every week.

Today I am sharing more from of my Valentine Story about Henri Gasquet, hero in His Chosen Bride.

His father’s bald statement rocked Henri back on his heels. “You?”

“It is a year since my heart attack,” the king said again, “and for the most part I have accepted the dictates of my doctors and advisors, and am now taking a leaf out of my son’s book before my heir drops dead from physical and emotional exhaustion.”

With a snap the king closed Henri’s diary, leaned back in his chair. Instead of pushing it towards him, the king slipped the diary into one of the desk drawers his gaze still focussed on his son.

“So you, my son, are on leave until I say otherwise.”

Please hop on over to SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY to read more fabulous snippets on offer this week.

28 January 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample 28-1

I just want to thank everyone who visits me on Sweet Saturday Samples and to say how much I appreciate your comments.

This week I am sharing a sample from my Valentine story His Chosen Bride, to be released by Astraea Press.  When I wrote my current release, From Now Until Forever I didn't expect it to turn out to be the first of four stories about the Gasquet Princes, but then the characters 'insisted'!
His Chosen Bride is Prince Henri's story.

She lost track of time until the flames caught her attention once more. They flickered from orange to gold, to silver, to white.

A flurry of snowflakes masked the flames and for a second Monica watched the most beautiful, pristine snow-scene she’d ever seen. Her lips curved in longing. How she’d love to get a toboggan and slide down that slope. She knew where it was, and had done just that many times in her childhood, first with her parents and then, in clandestine manner, with her brother. Sneaking an old tin tray from the back of her mother’s walk-in pantry, she’d then grabbed Billy’s hand and they’d rushed out the back gate, heading for the lakeside track that led up into the hills.

Darkness, dense and thick with grief dropped over the scene. Startled and disconcerted by the strength of emotion emanating from the vision Monica shifted to her knees, ready to stand, when a voice, a deep male voice, sharp with fear called out her name.


She knew she’d never heard the voice before, and yet—it was as familiar to her as the image she saw in her mirror each morning.

“Help me, Monica.”

Desperate for more clues, she searched the darkness within the flames until it sputtered and faded. With a curse she jumped up and ran for the phone. With her outstretched hand hovering over it she halted and let her hand drop to her side once more. What could she say? What would the police or rescue team think of her if she called them and told them she’d seen a vision of a man in distress?

They’d laugh in her face and classify her as a lunatic. Well, maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time she’d contacted them with positive information but something—an instinctive gut reaction told her what she’d seen this time hadn’t happened yet.

25 January 2012

Please welcome author Ann Montclair

So Many Opportunities: Only One Story
By Ann Montclair

So, you’ve written a book. It’s completed, polished, and ready to be shopped. You’re excited, right? After all, this is the moment you’ve been awaiting. You’ve composed your two page synopsis and one page query letter, and are ready to make the biggest decision of all—to whom do you send your inquiry?

Traditionally, you’d query a list of agents and hope one requested a chapter, but with the advent of electronic books, many publishers will accept direct inquiries from un-agented, first time authors. What do you do?

Figure out your intentions and form a plan.

Writers must decide if they want to pursue print or electronic publication—knowing one takes a long time and the other might nibble within weeks. Authors should decide if they want to work with a small or large press. And don’t forget to consider if your career might benefit from securing an agent. Once those decisions are made, writers must be prepared to wait accordingly. You have one story to sell, and you want to make sure it gets into the best position for that sale; that’s why planning is essential for a prudent business move.

I took an academic sabbatical from my position as a tenured college English professor to pursue my writing. I desired publication as quickly as possible, so I decided to query electronic publishers as well as traditional venues. Within a month, I had been offered a contract with Soul Mate Publishing.

A contract! My first novel, The Billionaire’s Bauble, sold! And fast…

I barely had time to utter a prayer of thanks before I received two more offers for my Bauble. Then an agent I’d queried wanted to read it, and months later, a giant in the romance industry expressed interest.

I am thrilled to have The Billionaire’s Bauble with Soul Mate Publishing; as I am equally pleased to have two more contemporary romance novels, One Wet Summer and Good Things Come in Tall Packages, forthcoming in May 2012 and August 2012 with Musa Publishing. My dreams have come true, and I hope to entertain readers for years to come with romance novels yet to be penned.

The lesson that I hope to share is this: as an author, you need a plan. You need to understand that there has never been more opportunity or access to publication, but if you want to press with the traditional publishers, like St. Martins or Harlequin, you need patience. Those large houses don’t have the turnaround small houses have. Agents take months to respond and big publishing houses can take up to a year. I don’t regret the decisions I made to get my stories to press. Soul Mate Publishing and Musa Publishing have proven wonderful venues for my novels—rich with learning opportunities, willing to help me grow as an author of contemporary romance. I trust I made the right decisions for my stories and for me.

And you need to make the right decision for you. When that first novel (or that next novel is ready to send), know this: writers have choices. Plan to succeed and you will!


Ann Montclair’s first contemporary romance novel, The Billionaire’s Bauble, is available as an electronic book at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-Billionaires-Bauble-ebook/dp/B006QQWY42/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326811080&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-billionaires-bauble-ann-montclair/1108117604?ean=2940013699595&itm=1&usri=the+billionaire%27s+bauble

and Soul Mate Publishing http://www.soulmatepublishing.com/the-billionaires-bauble/

You can also visit her at http://annmontclair.com/

The Billionaire’s Bauble blurb:
Sloane Porter arrived at Grant Oil knowing if she didn’t land the executive assistant position, she would have to leave Fairbanks and return home to New York. To a life she’d thought she’d left far behind. She hadn’t spent years earning her degree and becoming her own woman just to move backwards. But when Sloane enters the CEO’s office and realizes he’s the same man she’d kissed in a Fairbanks bar two years earlier, a man she couldn’t forget, she discovers running away isn’t always the best option . . .

Excerpt from Chapter One:

"I'll be all yours in a moment, Ms. Porter," David said absentmindedly to the final interviewee entering his plush Fairbanks office. The walnut and steel door swooshed closed as the woman approached his desk. He didn't glance up from his paper pile, but he could smell a hint of Chanel perfume, and he already liked the confident click clack of the candidate's heels across his tiled office floor.

"Yes, sir. Take all the time you need," the applicant purred, and remained standing, waiting for David to ask her to be seated.

He enjoyed making his prospective employees squirm—just a bit—as they waited to find out if their futures would be linked with his Fortune 500 company. Everyone wanted a piece of the pie, but only one person would be hired to become the newest administrative assistant to the CEO and owner of the billion dollar enterprise.

David Grant required a team of personal aids to scurry after him and keep things running smoothly so he could wrangle the S & P and rough up those big city corporate honchos. He smiled to himself. The new figures looked strong, and Grant Oil was set to double up.

David slowly lifted his eyes to observe every detail of the young woman.

He started at her shoes, a serviceable pair of two-inch heels. Check. She wasn't wearing stilettos, a sure sign of self-indulgence if worn to the office. Good.

Her legs were lean but strong; he could see calf muscle but no knee. Check. Modesty was key to creating a productive workplace. He didn't want to see thighs at Grant Oil. He demanded a focused environment, and that meant no glimpses of distracting flesh.

As his inquisitive eyes moved to the woman's hips, he noted she was full figured despite her athletic legs. Her blue wool pencil skirt did little to hide her feminine curves. Wool was a smart choice because June could be quite cool in Fairbanks, despite the sun's bright glare.

Her arms were to her sides and her fingers hung loosely. Light pink paint adorned each small nail. No wedding ring decorated her slim pale fingers, though she had quite a nice ornament on her left pinky finger. A 2-carat diamond sparkled in the late afternoon sunshine coming through the giant paned window above his desk. Terrific. She didn't have a husband to keep her home. David needed assistants who moved as quickly as he did.

The woman's matching suit coat jacket was finely tailored, and the small leather covered buttons were undone so David could see the crisp white silk shirt that almost disguised a full bosom.

Her throat was long and he could see a pulse. Good. She was nervous, despite her calm demeanor. A few wisps of auburn hair had escaped from her chignon, but they curled artfully along her neck, just touching her suited shoulder. David appreciated the softness a few misplaced hairs could lend to a businesswoman. A woman should be soft—even in the rugged oil business. He wanted a woman to be a woman.

As he continued his deliberate perusal, he noted her dimpled chin, full pink lips, and pert nose. When he finally arrived at her eyes, he almost lost his composure.

"It's you," he managed as his throat clamped tight. If he had been kicked in the gut, he couldn't have been more affected.

A quick flash of recognition quickly became all business as her brilliant green eyes smiled at him, twinkled even. She extended her hand across his glass-topped desk and said, "It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Grant. Thank you for the opportunity."

David felt her small hand go instantly hot. He stood then, and she stepped back, pulling her hand from his strong grip. He could see a flash of confusion and then determination well up in her remarkable eyes.

"I understand you are here for a position in my company," he assuaged. He read her name from the top of her resume again: Sloane Porter. "I apologize for my familiarity, Ms. Porter, but you are the woman I danced with a couple of years ago at Hal's. Right?"

24 January 2012

Tuesday Tales 24th - Games

Thank you for dropping in to read this week's TUESDAY TALES
The prompt is 'Games'

“Com’on.” Brad led the group of fellow ten-year-olds across the park towards the trees. “It’ll be easy.”

He heard the muttering behind him and hefted his mini crossbow from one hand to the other. He patted the knotted tie that held his arrows against his back. Jeff was carrying a bag of apples, and Will and Harry had tagged along to watch.

“Hey!” Will called to his friend Logan, you coming to see Brad split an apple on top of Jeff’s head?” He’d never heard of William Tell but that didn’t matter.

“Don’t be daft, he can’t do that!” Logan loped across the grass to join the group and on spying another friend invited them along.

“Where we going?” Tyler, the tenth boy to join the group, demanded.

“Dun’ know.” Will admitted.

“There’s a clearing that’s big enough just along the path that leads to the tennis courts.” Brad called over his shoulder. “Not many people use it so we won’t be disturbed.”

Brad’s confidence plummeted with each addition to the small band of boys now crossing the park. Several adults, he noticed, were watching their progress towards the trees. Perhaps he shouldn’t have accepted Jeff’s challenge?

He looked across at his best buddy and noted the freckles standing out against the pallor of his skin. Was he regretting the challenge? And would he withdraw it? Anger joined his fear when he heard his silent prayers he wouldn’t have to follow through.

It all seemed such a lark last night when they’d been trolling the ‘net and come across the story of William Tell, who in an effort to avoid being imprisoned shot an apple off the top of his son’s head.

Now, as the group of boys increased, it turned into something more like a nightmare than a game.

From the corner of his eye Brad saw two men approaching. One was Jeff’s father. What was he doing here? Why wasn’t he watching the game on TV?

“Nah! My Dad won’t notice,” Jeff assured him last night when they plotted this. “He always stays in and watches the game, and my Mom goes round to Aunt Bella, so no one will see us.”

“What you doing, boys?” Jeff’s dad asked with an easy smile.

Hadn’t he noticed the crossbow, Brad wondered and shifted it closer to the ground, and cringed at the glee in Will’s response.

“We’re gonna’ watch Brad shoot an apple off Jeff’s head.” he shouted.

As one the group halted.

Brad wasn’t sure who the second adult was, but vaguely thought he might be the deputy sheriff he’d seen in school a few weeks ago after a spate of thefts.

Shifting his gaze from the deputy Brad stared at Jeff’s Dad and waited for his wrath to descend upon them. The man’s rueful grin disconcerted him.

“Well now,” he said, letting his glance encompass all the boys. “That’s a mighty fine idea, but perhaps we can offer a little help here.” With a gesture towards his companion, Jeff’s dad laid a hand on Brad’s shoulder.

“You heading for the knoll clearing?”

Bemused, Brad nodded.

“Let’s get going then.”

With Jeff’s dad in the lead and the deputy bringing up the rear, the boys trouped further into the trees until the clearing opened up in front of them.

“Let me look at your bow.” Jeff’s dad held out his hand took the weapon and inspected it thoroughly. “Your Dad is an excellent craftsman,” he said, after turning it over in his hand for a few moments. He leaned behind and pulled the arrows out of Brad’s makeshift quiver and accorded them the same meticulous attention before nodding.

Jeff blanched when his father instructed him to stand against a tree and dragged his feet as he crossed the clearing and leaned his back against it.

“Deputy, perhaps you’d be good enough to mark the tree just above my son’s head.”

They all watched the deputy remove his camping knife and cut a nick in the tree bark. “That do?”

“Good enough.” Jeff’s dad nodded, and ordered his son to join the group again. “Did you bring an apple?”

Dumbstruck, Brad grabbed the bag from Will and handed it over.

“As we don’t have any means of pinning the apple to the tree, we’ll have to draw a circle instead.”

It didn’t take long, and before Brad knew what Jeff’s dad intended, the man once more stood beside him.

“Now then, Brad. Do you see the mark I’ve made?” He waited for Brad’s acknowledgement . “Very well, we’ll do this properly, come over to the tree.”

His panic rising with every second, Brad found himself moving forward.

Jeff’s dad took his arm and walked beside him as together they paced out fifty yards. The distance seemed enormous to Brad and the lump in his throat threatened to choke him.

The boys no longer shuffled or whispered and it seemed even the birds and the trees were holding their breath.

“William Tell was a grown man, so I think we can make allowances for your age and size.” With a grin Jeff’s dad sought affirmation from the sheriff.

Why were the adults grinning? When he’d seen them coming, he’d expected them both to put a stop to their game, expected to be able to back out with dignity and now both men were going to force him to go through with something terrifying. The trembling started in his knees and spread to his hands within seconds. His chest tightened making it hard to breathe.

“Now then, young Bradley,” Jeff’s dad paced out twenty steps closer to the target and instructed Brad to stand on the cross he’d dug into the ground with the heel of his shoe. “Stand here, steady yourself and make sure your breathing is even and your hand is steady. Take all the time you like and then fire your arrow at the round mark I’ve made on the tree.”

The next five minutes passed in a blur, broken only by a volley of clapping. As if coming out of a dream he looked up, and round, at the shining, excited faces.

“Well done, lad.” The sheriff’s voice cut through his stupor. “That was a fine piece of shooting.”

Before he could bask in the praise, the man’s tone changed and encompassed all the children.

“Luckily for all of you, someone informed us they’d seen you in the park. What you proposed today was both stupid and dangerous. What if you’d missed, Brad? You could have killed young Jeff here.”

The nearer they’d come to the trees the more vivid such an outcome had become to Brad.

The lecture was issued in firm but understanding words and left each boy in no doubt of the seriousness of the occasion.

The boys that trouped out from the trees bore little resemblance to the ones that entered them. Each child now knew that some games could so easily end in tragedy, and heaved a sigh of relief that this time they’d been lucky.

22 January 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments, and visits every week. 
Today I am sharing more from of my Valentine Story about Henri Gasquet, hero in His Chosen Bride.

He planted his knuckles on his father’s desk and leaned forward. “I can’t just take off and leave them all in the lurch.” He pushed away.  “It is ridiculous for you or anyone else to expect me to walk away from my duties. Who would take my place?” he challenged, knowing every project mentioned needed his influence and prestige to press the projects forward.

“I will.”

Please hop on over to SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY to read more fabulous snippets on offer this week.

17 January 2012

Tuesday Tales ~ Broken

Thank you for dropping in to read this week's TUESDAY'S TALE

The prompt is 'Broken'

The rosy sun climbing above the horizon enticed the cold mist to rise and hide the road ahead of the solitary rider.

Without compunction Roul had stolen the horse from the field when his car broke down. Well not ‘stolen’ precisely, he’d left his contact number under his windscreen wiper for the owner to contact him when they discovered their animal missing.

The road ahead disappeared into the rising mist and like his thoughts left everything to the imagination.

When he’d last seen her, Serena melted in his arms with sighs of delight and promises of forever together. Now, less than twenty four hours later, she’d left a message on his voice mail retracting her promise.


What could have happened to change her mind? They’d known each other forever and been partners for six months.

He cursed the phone call demanding his presence in the office for a meeting that never happened. One his secretary claimed to know nothing about.

Who had made the call and why? Why had Serena broken off their engagement? And his car—, was the breakdown connected in some way to a sudden sequence of unexplainable events?

And the supposed meeting?

Not something that appeared out of the blue, but one he’d been expecting, connected to a long and sometimes tedious process of negotiation on his proposed offer for the failing electronics company he’d had his eye on for months now.

He rounded the corner of the village he and Serena fell in love with the moment they saw it and at the first opportunity left the road and urged his horse to follow the country tracks that led to the back of the home they shared.

The rising mist cloaked him in invisibility as he approached the woods bounding the north side of the property and he slowed his mount to a trot. When he came to the stone built wall he guided the animal to the little ivy covered gate.

Thirty minutes later, protected by the huge trunk of an old oak tree Roul stared at the two cars parked in front of the house and cursed.

The broken engagement, the phoney business call, and the vehicle breakdown, all slotted into place.

He prayed that the coffin sized box the two men carried to the back of the 4x4 did not carry the body of the only woman he’d ever loved.

He watched them slide the box inside before returning indoors then calculated the distance from his hiding place to the garage and the ancient Volvo kept there for emergencies and back at the upper windows of his home. Was anyone watching the area from there? If so, his cover would be shot to hell.

Was Serena alive?

His heart lurched. Was she a part of the cross and double cross situation? He shook his head. Surely not!

Why would she promise to marry him if she’d no intention of following through? Why not just keep stringing him along?

Roul let loose with a volley of curses when Joseph Bailey, CEO of Eagle Electronics strode from the house.

“Take the girl to the house in Scotland. Keep her there for a week and do not let her out of your site.”

Bailey slid behind the wheel of the red Ferrari, gunned the engine and left a shower of gravel behind as he disappeared round the bend in the driveway.

Thank you to everyone who visits and especially those who share their thoughts.  And last, but not east to Jean Joachim for creating the opportunities Tuesday's Tales offers the participants.

15 January 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments, and visits every week.

Today I am sharing more from of my Valentine Story about  Henri Gasquet, hero in His Chosen Bride.

“What!” Shock propelled Henri from his chair, and anxiety chased him round the room while he tried to remarshall his scattered thoughts. “I don’t have time to take leave of any kind,” he snapped. "This morning I am presiding over the ceremony to lay the new foundations for the bridge that will connect the west of our country more directly with the east.”

He tunnelled his fingers through his hair.

“This afternoon, I have a meeting with the backers about the funds for Melanie’s riding school for the disabled; and this evening I am giving a speech to the leaders of our financial sector.”

Please hop on over to SIX SENTENCE SUNDAY to read more fabulous snippets on offer this week.

13 January 2012

Inspiration - and 'where to next?'

For the last few years I have had an 'on-off' relationship with one of my WIPs.  For months my Regency romance refused to give up its ending, which in turn meant that every avenue I travelled to reach an unknown destination resulted in a dead-end, blank wall - well make that page.

Today, while, would you believe, I was spreading butter on my toast, yes really! LOL
The phrase 'down the pike' popped into my head.  Inevitably I asked 'what about 'down the pike' and wey-hey, just like that I've got the ending for my Regency!

They say 'It comes to those who wait.' 

Not long ago, after having no working title for this story, one of my secondary characters provied that, and now today is the day that has revealed the final route to end my Regency WIP , No Job For A Woman.

10 January 2012

Tuesday Tales ~ Lies

Welcome back to Tuesday Tales. Each week a number of authors write to a prompt.  This week's prompt is lies.

~ ~ ~

Jenny skipped along the street, her pigtails flying, her eyes shining, and a permanent smile on her face. She carried her present for Shirley in the plastic carrier bag hanging from her arm, her Cinderella costume blowing in the breeze. Today her bestest friend was celebrating her ninth birthday with a fancy-dress party, and next week it would be her turn. Somehow, the figure nine seemed more grown-up than eight. Nearer double figures.

“You going to Shirley’s party?”

She’d seen the boy in the school playground. Always on the edge of a group, always watching, and, she shivered now, something about his eyes made her uneasy. Today was no different, and his costume didn’t help. His smile was inviting, warm and almost gleeful; yet, secretive, Shirley decided.

“What are you dressed up as?” She studied his cape and the scythe he carried, its blade gleaming in the sun.

“The Grim Reaper,” he said. “And my friend Herakles will be joining me in a moment.”

Damien, that was it! She’d never liked the name because it always made her think of demons; and demons, she knew, were scary. Lately they filled her dreams, turning them to nightmares.

She never quite saw their faces in her dreams, only heard their laughter, when it turned dark and evil and woke her up.

For the last couple of nights, she’d tried in vain to wake from the nightmares. The demon stood there watching her. Whatever she did, wherever she went in her dreams, the demon stood there watching in silent celebration.

Jenny looked at the boy walking beside her. Strange, she’d never noticed before, but if her demon had a face it would be like Damian’s.

“How old are you?” she asked in an effort to shake off her qualms. “Aren’t you too old to come to Shirley’s party?”

“Age, is in the head.” Damien smiled. “After all, you think nine as far more grown-up than eight, don’t you? When in reality it’s just the beginning of another day, another number you’ll hang on to for a year.

“If you’re lucky, that is.”

His eyes, dark as obsidian, gleamed in the sunshine, his hair reminded her of the huge raven that stole food off the bird table this morning, and cawed at her mother when she chased it away.

Sometimes, in a certain light, Damien reminded her of the old man who lived in the end house on the street. Rumour and gossip abounded about him, and the school children ran past his home; half hoping he’d come outside, and terrified he might!

“Never see a light on in that house, me dear,” old Mr. Hawkins, from two doors down, told her one day. “Best to stay clear of the place. That’s what I say.” And cackling he’d wandered off into the nearest shop.

Jenny stopped at the pedestrian road crossing and waited for the lights to change from red to green.

“It’s safe to cross now.” Damien told her.

She stepped into the road, thankful Damien hadn’t followed. Reflected in the shop window ahead of her she saw him standing on the pavement, watching her, his smile one of satisfaction this time.

She didn’t hear the car that ‘came from nowhere,’ didn’t hear the screams of horror that filled the air when the car never stopped, never saw Damien vanish into thin air, to reappear beside the driver of the car.

“Promise me she didn’t suffer,” he demanded of Herakles. “I didn’t like lying to her, she was a sweet kid.”

“She didn’t suffer,” his companion assured him.  
To read more from other participants hop on over to  

8 January 2012

Six Sentence Sunday

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments, and visits every week.

Today I am sharing more from of my Valentine Story about the brother, Henri, of the hero, Liam, in my current novella, From Now Until Forever, published by Astraea Press.

“I have not been unaware of the burden you have carried since my heart attack a year ago. Combining your own commitments with those you took over while I recuperated would have felled a lesser man.”

Feeling the heat burn his cheeks, Henri shifted in his chair.

The past twelve months had been tough, and for the last six, his advisors almost competed with each other in counselling him to slow down unless he wanted to occupy his father’s hospital bed.

“I am also aware you have ignored their advice to cut back. So I am decreeing that of this moment you are on indeterminate leave of absence.”

You'll find plenty more great offerings at Six Sentence Sunday

4 January 2012

Review ~ Protecting Rose by Cheryl Yeko.

Protecting Rose
Cheryl Yeko

Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Romantic Suspense.
Buy Link:
Released Dec 2011

Review requested and book provided by the author.

Review: Protecting Rose starts fast and continues apace. No sooner has Detective Nate Stone wrapped up one case than another all but ‘rolls’ into his lap in the shape of an amnesiac he names Rose.

When an out-of-control car speeds past Nate, he knows it’s going to roll off the road. What he did not expect, when he stopped to give assistance, was to be shot at.

What starts, for Nate, as the need to protect someone who is in danger, turns into an emotional roller coaster for the down-too-earth cop. With little more to go on than the evidence of an out of control car and an unidentified shooter, Rose becomes far more than ‘just another case’.

Ms Yeko’s plot is fast paced and tightly presented. Her writing style is dynamic. Her characters are so realistic they persuade you to continue reading about them from start to finish without stopping for anything or anyone one else.

Because every word the author uses, counts, she manages to pack an amazing story into a surprisingly few pages and you still close the book feeling you have been gifted a full-length mystery, suspense, romance.

Ms Yeko is an author to add to your TBR lists and to keep an eye out for.

3 January 2012

Tuesday Tales - Kisses

Thank you to everyone who drops by to read my Tuesday Tale, and thank you to Jean Joachim for the opportunity to participate.
Today's prompt is 'Kisses'
“Suppose we talk things through rationally?” Rose Kiss cast an irritated look at her companion. “You come here today and tell me you are leaving tomorrow, to take up a new job on the other side of the country, and you want me to go with you?”

Ronald Blickling offered his famously charming smile and nodded.

“How long have you known about this move?”

“Three weeks.” A cautious frown replaced the smile now.

“I see, and in those weeks it never occurred to ask me in time for me to make the necessary arrangements for such a move?”

“What’s to arrange?” Genuine puzzlement filled his voice. “You live in a two-bit town, and have a two-bit job teaching kindergarten kids, and your flat is smaller than a basic rabbit hutch. What’s to arrange?”

Sunlight sparkled on the spring-green grass covering the valley hillsides. Dots of white, sheep, grazed peacefully. The hum of bees droned in the public flowerbed next to the solitary park bench. And unseen from her seat, friends went about their business, knowing her word was good and dependable.

And, she acknowledged, she wanted the same. For the first time since she first me Ronald, she realised she’d allowed his charming smile the glamour of his words and the emptiness of his promises lure her into thinking her really cared.

If he did, if he really wanted her to go with him, he’d have told of his new job, his intended move much earlier.

It galled her to realise she’d hitched her dreams to an illusion. He hadn’t deceived her. Not really. She’d revelled in his kisses, his promises of forever, of a shiny new tomorrow, and allowed herself to be carried away on a carpet of her own delusional dreams.

And she admitted, as she looked at the man beside her, she’d enjoyed the envious sighs of her friends when they saw the two of them together.

Next to her, Ronald looked at his watch. A big shiny gold watch, she noticed.

A replica?

Why had it taken a false invitation for the scales to fall away? That’s all Ronald was, a great big fat phoney, well not fat, she admitted, but still a phoney.

“Thank you, for the thought,” she didn’t even try for a genuine smile, polite was sufficient for ‘goodbye’. “I happen to like my two-bit town, and my two-bit job, and most of all I love my honest-to-goodness-down-to-earth-hundred-bit friends.” Standing now, her hands fisted on her hips, she stepped back studied his shock. That, she noted with grim satisfaction, was genuine.

“You don’t mean that? You’ll be sorry.” Hard as bullets, he shot the accusation at her.

“Oh, but I do! Thanks to your belated invitation, I know moving anywhere with you would be a wrong decision.”

She spun on her heel and walked away without a backward glance.

You will find more tantalising Tuesday Tales Here

2 January 2012

“When there is an original sound in the world, it makes a hundred echoes.”

“When there is an original sound in the world, it makes a hundred echoes.”
John A. Shedd

Words are a bit like this.

One of the gremlins that so often slip through the editing net while preparing a manuscript for submission to a publisher is what is termed ‘echoes’ by the editors who plough through those lucky enough to make it onto the editors piles.

‘Echoes’ is another word for ‘repetition’. And it is surprising how many times ‘echoes’ creep into your work.

It may not be the same word that echoes through the whole story. You may find certain words litter several chapters and then the echoes change in the following ones.

Today I was working through a particular chapter searching out two words. ‘Season’ and ‘children’. ‘Season’ turned out to be under control, but ‘children’? In one particular page the word was everywhere. In almost every sentence.

And the horrifying thing was I’d ‘read’ over the echoes several times and only discovered them when I went in and used the ‘find’ facility.

Some echoes are permissible, but too many, and they simply become an annoyance that disrupts the writing flow, and pull the reader out of the story.

As I use all these awesome gadgets within the program and other software available I give thanks I do not have to struggle through the days of the typewriter, and my respect for those authors rises with each mistake my computer ‘gadgets’ discover and correct.

1 January 2012

WINNER of From Now Until Forever Contest

At the end of December I am giving away a PDF version of From Now Until Forever and will use random.org to choose one lucky winner from all the SSS comments received.

And the winner December's Giveaway is...
  Zee Monodee

Congratulations Zee

Six Sentence Sunday

Best wishes  for 2012 to you all.

Thank you to everyone who leaves comments, and visits every week.  
What better way to start the New Year than to start with a new story? So  Today I am sharing the opening six lines of my Valentine Story about the brother of the hero in my current novella, From Now Until Forever, published by Astraea Press.

Henri Pierre Gasquet hesitated before knocking on his father’s office door. They’d shared breakfast together less than an hour ago and talked over many things, including Henri’s killer schedule for the next several months. The king had given no indication of the need for a formal meeting this morning. With a fatalistic shrug, he knocked, waited a second, then turned the handle and entered the room.

“You wanted to see me?”
Henri waited for his father to indicate he sit before dropping into the chair in front of the king’s desk.

You'll find plenty more great offerings at Six Sentence Sunday