Saturday, September 29, 2012

When the Wolf Howls

I'd love to say I have something super exciting to blog about this month. I'd like to. But I've been in a tiny bit of a slump. Yep. A slump.

I write under two names. One is my name and the other is my pen name. What seems to happen is the ideas for one name really fly, while the other name sort of sits there. And where am I? You guessed it...languishing. Okay, not really. Megan Slayer--my alter ego--is having a great time. She's the one the wolf is talking to. Yep. If you've read Wild Flower, then you know about my wolves. They didn't intend to show up, but did. So, there they are. And the wolf is talking to me.

That's the good part. I love listening to the wolves. They are sarcastic and wry. Love 'em. But the hard part is this - as much as the wolves talk to Megan, the other characters aren't talking to Wendi.

Now to some this might not seem like a big deal. Its only characters wanting to talk. But if you're a writer, you WANT them to talk to you. When they don't, either there is something goofed up with the story or there is no story because they haven't given that to you. I'm in the second category. Megan's going gangbusters. Wendi? Stuck, stuck, stuck.

So I'm imploring you to suggest some ways to get the old muse off her buns and to make her help me. Yep. Anyone have thoughts? Because, yeah, I'm stuck and I'm listening.

And in case you're looking for a great new read, try Wild Flower.

She's the key to his destiny, if he's willing to embrace a position of power.

Ansen doesn't believe he's alpha material. He lives life on his own terms and keeps feelings out of the equation -- until a chance meeting at a Glow concert turns his world upside down.

Willow likes having all access to her favorite band. She lives in the shadows and keeps the band's fan site running without fail. But one glimpse of the dark stranger proves there's more to life than a laptop screen.

But is he too much of a gamble if her heart is the ultimate prize?

Available here!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Autumn Blues?

You may think from the title that I don't like the Fall. But the opposite is true. This is my favorite time of year.  I love the cooler temperatures, a welcome break from the humidity, the trees changing color along with the falling leaves. And pumpkins. Oh my gosh, just seeing the pumpkin stands along the side of the road gets me so excited.

Sure, there are some down sides to the Fall - the beginning of cold and flu season, having to rake leaves, and the worst, one season closer to winter. Hey, winter would be awesome if I didn't have to shovel or drive in the snow.

So, where does the color blue come in? Well, blue is one of my favorite colors. With all the beautiful colors of the fall, I wish blue was included. After all, it is the skin color I tend to give many of the aliens in my stories.

In Crash Landing, which released today, there are two blue aliens, Cael and Mare. Though they didn't come to Earth together. But what they bring to the story, and to Tara are sure to heat up the sheets.

Here's the blurb:

As his ship plummets toward Earth, Cael believes his life to be over. His last ditch effort to save himself ends in a fiery crash. When he wakes up, he believes he’s entered the afterlife, but his surroundings indicate otherwise. He made it to Earth. But who saved him, and what do they want with him?

Crash Landing is available from Decadent PublishingAmazonAll Romance eBooks, and many other ebook retailers. More information and buy links posted here.

And an excerpt:

He rushed to the right, his rod too hard to wait. The slurping, sucking, and cries of pleasure continued as he reached the entrance behind which the action took place. The door ajar, he dared a quick glimpse into the room. With a gasp, he stepped back into the hall, but could not take his eyes off the sight in front of him.

With her rounded pink ass and swollen sex folds in full view, a woman went to work sucking off a man. The musky scent of her desire wound through his nasal passages and drew him closer. She rested on her hands and knees on a platform, while the guy kneeled in front of her. But unlike any beings he had ever seen on the vids of Earth, the guy had blue skin. Not his deep, almost indigo shade, but lighter, closer to the color of the water he’d landed in. Long blond hair flowed over his shoulders, onto his muscular chest.

The man held the woman’s shoulders with his webbed hands—yes, webbed hands—drawing her on and off his dick. “You have the mouth of an angel.” He threw his head back and thrust faster and faster between her lips.

The sight stimulated Cael. They weren’t trying to make babies; it seemed they were having sexual relations for pleasure. He yearned not only to bury his face in the wet pussy in front of him, but to taste the man’s blue dick, feel it inside of him. Back on Narien, he’d crafted his own devices made from the soft, flimsy bark of the totmos plant, to experience the pleasure both men and women felt in the stadium, why they cried out during mating, but never seemed injured. And learn he had, anxious to be ready when he reached his thirtieth year and was allowed to mate. He’d turned that age a half year ago, with no one on his ship to be his partner. Would he finally have an opportunity?

Jessica Subject started writing to encourage her daughter to read. Now she writes to keep herself grounded. Although she reads many genres, she enjoys writing Science Fiction Romance the most and believes everyone in the universe deserves a happily ever after. She lives Southwestern Ontario, Canada with her husband and two kids and loves to hear from anyone who has enjoyed her stories.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Something scary-beautiful...

My inspirational dragon, because he's scary-beautiful...and my head on cold meds is a fruity fudge basket of fluff. Best to stay silent. ;-)


Kim Knox brews sex, magic, darkness and technology in a little corner of North West England. She writes erotic science fiction and fantasy romance for Carina Press, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, Cleis Press and others.

SYNTHETIC DREAMS and BITTER HARVEST are available now from Carina Press. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

RomantiCon2012... Here I come!

The last few months have been pretty jam-packed for me. I've been putting the final touches on my third Heavenly Lovers book, Embracing Eternity. I spent three weeks doing the most problematic move of my life, and I have moved a lot so that's saying something. Two major family issues and the whole going-back-to-school thing were mixed in.

Basically, I've been in a handbasket on a fast track for the past couple of months.

Thankfully, most of that is now over. EE has been turned in to Ellora's Cave and will be releasing November 2. I'm settled in my new place... well, surrounded by the boxes I haven't had time to unpack, so not fully settled, but all my stuff is here. The kids are back in school and most of the family issues are resolved.

So now, the only thing in my mind is the Ellora's Cave RomantiCon. I'm very excited. Very, very. Very.

Did I mention very?

This will be my first convention, my first official appearance as an author and my first book signing. Oh, and I'll also have my first print book for it! The first two books in the Heavenly Lovers series will be in a single print volume. Heavenly Eternity will be available for signing day. I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy. it's a little cruel, making an author wait to touch her own book.

Isn't it beautimous?

Anyone else going to RomantiCon? Who should I be looking for?


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Spooky things

When people talk about paranormal things, it's usually ghosts and apparitions, strange noises in the night, haunted houses and the like.
Let's assume ghosts exist.
(They do. Ask my horse. He sees them everywhere. Mostly disguised as buckets.)
How would you know if you've seen a ghost? Would you even be able to tell?
Wandering ghosts don't really bother me. I grew up in a house that's about 400 years old. Things generally go bump there and you learn to ignore it. You certainly won't explain it.
I admit it gets a little creepy when you're lying in bed, trying to sleep, and you can feel the wall move. What can I say? Buildings live and breathe. My old place happens to flex its muscles occasionally, as well.
People keep seeing ghosts at night, but I think that's more because of folktales and an inherent fear of the dark, than actually being bound to only rattle chains after midnight.
All the paranormal investigation programs on TV seem to rely on night time encounters.
Makes no sense to me. All the stuff I've seen mostly happened in broad daylight. Why would a ghost only show up at night? I doubt they know what time of day it is, and I sincerely hope there are no alarm clocks in the afterlife. That would kinda suck. I also think it might be tricky to wear a watch when you don't have a solid body.
So how would you know if you've seen a ghost? Short of a long-dead peg-legged pirate appearing in your kitchen at lunch time going "Arrr matey!"--I think you could walk right past one and not know. People are out and about during the day. We think nothing of seeing complete strangers walking through our local pub.
It's when they show up in the locked pub after hours, we start to consider them as ghosts. Okay, you might notice someone walking through the bar, as in, right through the wood, but during the day you'd likely dismiss it as a figment of your imagination. After all, that can't happen...right?
Why not?
Why would a ghost only show up after midnight? And why would a ghost only wear period clothing? Surely modern ghosts exist if historical ones do?

I find it intriguing how easily we dismiss something in broad daylight, and freak out over it at night.
What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Now Available!

This Blackened Night, the third and last book in my The Order urban fantasy/mystery series, is now out! I can't tell you how excited I am to see all three books side by side. In fact, I should probably mention that I'm over at Fang-tastic Books today giving away a copy of the book. Just comment by midnight EST 09-23-2012 for your chance to win!

And now for some fun facts about the books:

1- Book 1, Stalking Shade,  was originally written in 2007. The first draft was written during my classes in high school and took one week.

2- Book 2, Out of the Shadows, took me three different plotlines to get right. I had no idea what to do with it at first. Hence why it took so long (early 2011) before I struck gold.

3- The Spenta Michos, unknowing figurehead of The Order, was based on my high school English teacher, who abruptly changed jobs in September 2007. Hence why he goes missing in the book.

4- My favorite character (after Lori and Terrence) is Scissors. Scissors was originally supposed to be a victim in book 2, but I couldn't bring myself to kill her off.

5- While writing the books, I compiled a list of songs which would be on Lori's iPod. Among them were Sharp Teeth, Pretty Teeth by Specimen, and by favorite of the bunch.

Hope you enjoyed that peek into the books! Learn more about Stalking Shade at Learn more about Out of the Shadows at Learn more about it or read an excerpt at

This Blackened Night by L.K. Below

 It's all about to way or another.

After months of searching, Lori finally scrounges up a clue as to the whereabouts of the missing leader of her secret organization. But her vision isn't encouraging--it points to her vampire companion Terrence as the culprit.

Terrence is adamant that he isn't at fault. Even though she knows she might be walking into a trap, she follows his lead to a shabby island port. When her informants start turning up dead with puncture wounds in their necks, Lori wonders just how well she knows Terrence. And why does he act different during the search than in their hotel room?

Lori doesn't know who to trust anymore. She only hopes that she won't be the next victim.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

BLURBS. Arghhhh!


              A blurb is a short description of a book intended to convey enough information to readers to help them make a decision as to whether they are likely to enjoy the full treatment or not.

             If you're a reader you take these for granted, just like authors did before we became authors. It looks easy. A ten minute task at most. Four months and a hundred revisions later, I'm still tearing my hair out. 

            You say: "Come on. How hard could it be? Has anyone ever called you melodramatic?"
            I say: "Well, yes. They have. But that's not relevant to this discussion. Really!"

             I would much rather write a full length novel than try to compose a blurb. Trying to pare that 113,000 words down to 75 is not just hard, it's torture. It's cruel, I tell you. The short description that I currently use for My Familiar Stranger follows. This is the best I can do while avoiding spoilers.

"Minutes ahead of inevitable assassination, Elora Laiken is forcibly transported to an alternate dimension similar, but not identical, to her own. She is stranded. Alone. Far from home. A stranger in a "strangish" land.

Of course a girl could suffer worse problems than having gorgeous suitors. Perhaps more importantly, in the midst of an epidemic of vampire related abductions, can she stay alive long enough to choose between an honor debt, true love, or the breathlessness of single-minded passion?"

            I can't tell you how often reviews will say something to the effect of "don't pay too much attention to the description". See, the problem is that I wanted to create something that hadn't been done before, something that defies both formula and genre categorizing. I succeeded at that, but, it turns out that, like everything else in the universe, that comes with two sides. The good news is that it's different. The bad news is that the difference throws a wrench into the way the industry is set up to market books.

 The second book in the series, The Witch's Dream, is due to release October 14th and the problem has expanded. It's snowballing. Here's what I've got so far...

"From New York to Ireland to Edinburgh to Siena to the Texas Hill Country to Napa Valley, modern day knights, heroes, witches, demons, psychics, vampires, werewolves, elves and fae come together where emotions intersect. From promises to rages to hunts to epiphanies, The Witch's Dream proves that true love can find you in the strangest places, when you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home."

            See what I mean? There's no way to give a SHORT description of this book without having it sound stupid or juvenile or both which leaves me standing here as usual saying, "But it's not! I swear!"

             I have finally invented a genre label that kind of, sort of, maybe fits. Paranormal Romantica. No one will mistake my books for YA because they're fantasy. No one will mistake them for paranormal thrillers or paranormal suspense because I made a point of calling attention to the romance aspect. And no one will think it's erotica because, if it was, I would have said Paranormal Erotica. At least that's what's on the drawing board for today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hotel Living

I'm a transplant this week. See, I've lived on the East Coast my entire life. But my desk job occasionally sends me to the West Coast for work. Such as this week. I'm in southern California, enjoyed the beautiful weather (when I get to see it). But it also means hotel living. Don't get me wrong, the hotel I'm in is gorgeous. The staff is fabulous and the food at the restaurant here is terrific (plus, I get free margaritas--can't be a bad place, right?). But's a hotel. Hotel living is...well, just not the same. I mean, it's not MY bed. It's not MY desk. It's not MY anything. It actually throws off my writing groove a little bit, as I don't tend to write much when  I am on a business trip. Oddly enough, if I venture out with laptop in hand and find a cozy cafe to settle down in, I can get some work done.

It might be a bit strange, but do you ever find yourself writing and/or reading in odd places? What are some of them?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Gloom and Doom

Does the weather ever effect your writing or what you choose to read? This is what it looks like outside my library today.

Yes...doom and gloom.

It was drizzling on my head when I took that picture. It's been raining on and off all weekend. It's cloudy, gray, and ugly out. I need some sunshine. Have you ever noticed that at least 90% of the's always sunny in the books you the books you write? Who wants to read about a heroine/hero in a thunderstorm or a tornado? You want light and happiness. Right?

Unless of course you're reading a thriller or a mystery. Gloom and doom seem to go hand in hand with that genre. But if you're a romance reader, you want to read about your hero and heroine going out on a date in a nice light suit, a summer or spring dress and enjoying themselves. Sure, every book you read isn't based in the spring or summer, but even in the winter or fall, they end of cozying up by a nice fire or having a snowball fight in the snow. It's rarely raining. At least, that's the way I remember it in books I read.

So, if you're like me and you need some sunshine in your life and you're in the mood for a nice evening walk on the beach, check out the second book in my Beach House Nights series, Something Wet available NOW!

Violet Tanner just had the shittiest week ever. She was demoted at work, her apartment got flooded, and the guy she's dating sends her an email to tell her he needs some space. When she gets an invite from one of her closest friends to a party at her beach house, her quick RSVP leaves her computer smoking.
Things start to look up when hottie Logan McMasters arrives. She's lusted after the ex-pro ball player for years. She's determined to have her weekend end on a hot and sexy note and stops at nothing less than full-on seduction to get her man. Before the night is over Logan is going to know what it means to experience something hot, something spicy and something wet.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Octopus Mating Games

Releasing September 17th

Believe it or not, I got a story idea watching a documentary on the mating games of octopus.   Link to article. 

The gist to these games is how complicated the rules are to the point where we wonder if there are any rules at all. LOL  We’re talking multiple partner harem-ish behavior with males sneaking into these dens while the guardian male isn’t looking.

O.M.G.  There was a story in this for me but I couldn’t fathom what.

I’d been playing around with idea of a succubus story for years but couldn’t foresee a HEA for a race that needed multiple partners. It didn’t take me long to connect the octopus lifestyle to this problem.

If octopi could figure out a complex system of rules for mating so could my succubi and incubi.  Starved for Love is born.

Thank you researchers of marina biology. :D


After almost dying of starvation to remain faithful to a mortal lover, succubus Pia Blyton now shields her heart by feeding solely on men she won't fall for. The only trick is, to create energy to survive, she must achieve orgasm. At least that rules out bad sex with her three lovers. Too bad she's a sucker for falling in love.

When her demon lover doesn't arrive for their arranged rendezvous, Pia is forced to ask her vampire lover to step in before her energy becomes dangerously low. In return he demands a favor and Pia finds herself in the hotel suite of the mysterious Valerio Hunan, who seduces her with a devastating kiss. Too late Pia learns he's an incubus who wants to lure her into marriage—a marriage without love.

As an incubus used to bedding a variety of succubi, Val doesn't understand Pia's yearning for love. He needs a succubus wife to provide him with a steady source of energy. But he wants Pia for the passion and renewed interest in life she makes him feel. Can Pia convince Val that sex isn't just for survival and love is for more than the weak?


Day three of my cycle

            Sex and love should come in the same package, but for a succubus, that meant trouble. Sex equaled food and fidelity couldn’t be part of the equation. Humans couldn’t eat the same thing every meal and stay healthy, and neither could we.

I thumped on the steel door of an industrial garage. Most people didn’t know the largest vampire nest in the Northeast was contained in an underground facility below this building. I kept up my third round of pounding. I knew the vampires were in there. The sun had just set. Someone needed to drag his lazy butt out of bed to answer the door. “I’m not going away!” Security cameras and microphones monitored the place 24/7. The jerks knew I was here.

I needed to feed, and to do that, I needed to get laid. Like all succubi, I survived on the energy created in my body during an orgasm. I couldn’t even stay alive on bad sex. Finding attractive, skilled partners wasn’t a problem in Lake City, but I was a sucker for falling in love. I couldn’t handle the guilt of a one-night stand, and if I tried to live off one male forever, I’d starve, which my instincts wouldn’t allow. I’d tried it once and would never allow myself to go down that road again.

Neither would my parents.

Rain plastered my short curls to my head. Normally, they stuck straight out, the different shades of autumn leaves. I’d be lucky if my suitor didn’t slam the door in my face at the sight of my drenched appearance. But I needed him in a bad way.

I added a kick to my knocking. “It’s Pia, damn it. And it’s raining. Let me in.”

The door finally opened. “The Master’s not expecting you for another seven days.”

I pushed past Rat, one of Zur-Sin’s minions, and huddled in the antechamber. “I know. Tell him I have a problem.”

“What trouble are you in now, Pia?” Sin’s voice carried over an intercom by the door leading into the vampire lair.

Pressing the talk button, I stood on tiptoe to speak in the microphone. “John left a note pinned to my door. He left town last night.” I hoped he was okay. Being a low-level demon bites. Someone was always on his ass.


“He’s my suitor for today.” I glanced at Rat, who chuckled. “Shut up.”

“Go see Cooper.”

“Cooper’s on a hunting trip with the pack. Won’t be back for another three days when it’s his turn.”

“I can oblige.” Rat stroked a hand down my back.

His touch sent a wave of desire through my body, but I wasn’t so far gone yet that I’d jump anything with a dick. “Fuck off.” I shoved him away. At least, I tried to. Beauty was a succubus power, not muscle. “We made a deal, Sin.”

“Every nine days. You were just here three days ago.”

“Yeah, do the math, genius. Today’s day three in my cycle. You want me to do Rat instead? I’m out of options.” I crossed my arms and glared at the vampire lackey. I’d eat my own arm before touching him but Sin didn’t have to know that.

“Bring her down, Ratan.”

Rat’s fanged grin faded. “Yes, Master.” He unlocked the door and opened it for me like a gentleman. “Whores first.”

I pulled my jacket tighter around me and fought the shivers. Half-drowned, my need burned inside my body, the hunger for flesh rubbing on flesh setting my skin to oversensitive. If Sin didn’t take me to his bed then I’d have to find some stranger to screw. Nausea rolled in my stomach. I never should have been born a succubus. To my parent’s shame and concern, I wasn’t amoral enough.

They monitored my every meal. How much worse could my life get when my father interviewed potential lovers for me? For crying out loud, what happened with Pierre was history and they needed to let go of the past. I did. Tried…

Racing down the stairs and across the sub-basement, I strode by other vampires, all of them part of Zur-Sin’s nest. He controlled Lake City at night and my father had it during the day. That’s how I met Sin. My father hooked me up two years ago to keep me from starving.

Twenty-five years old and I still lived with my parents. All four of them.

Most mortals wouldn’t understand my dad being interested in my sex life, but he worried and stressed about my lack of lovers to feed upon since I was so picky. I had three now. That should be more than enough if they would just cooperate.

I waited for Rat to twist his key in the elevator so it would travel into the secured areas below us. The doors slid open and I jumped inside.

“Try not to take too long. He has appointments to keep.” With those lovely instructions, Rat keyed the doors closed and I descended into Sin’s world.

Shaking the excess water from my hair, I tried to poof some life back into my signature curls. They sagged on my forehead. Sighing at my reflection, I hung my head. Nothing was sadder than a disheveled, horny succubus.

The doors slid open and a large pair of bare feet stepped into my view. A finger slipped under my chin and raised my gaze. Zur-Sin, ancient vampire warrior, stared at me with his stern dark eyes. Dressed in only a pair of black silk pajama bottoms, he looked good enough to eat. He brushed the curls from my face and frowned. “You have much to learn about the art of seduction.”

“I dressed up last time I was here. I get panicky when things don’t go my way on day threes.”

“It’s not all about appearance, Pia. You’re beautiful even when left out in the rain.” He bent and placed a gentle kiss on my lips. Sin’s touch always struck a spark—even on my off days he could lure me to his bed. “Grace and tact would be appreciated at times. You can’t barge into my nest making demands. It makes me seem weak.”

“I’m sorry.” I leaned against his solid chest. His pale skin still retained the warmth of his last feed. I didn’t ask about his latest conquest. We had a business deal signed in blood. He gave me an orgasm every nine days and I fed him with my blood. No strings attached. I think I came out on top of that deal because Sin could be a generous lover when in the right mood. And I had learned how to guide him into those moods.

He placed a kiss to the top of my head. “Next time call. I have a human secretary, remember? She’d have made quieter arrangements.”

“She hates me.” I squirmed, pressing my thighs together to help relieve the growing demands between them.

Sin sighed and led me into his apartment, through the living room, past his office and into the bedroom where he sat on the edge of his king-sized bed. He plucked a remote off the mattress and turned on some slow jazz. Leaning back onto his elbows, he ran his gaze over me. “Undress.”

I knew this game. It was his favorite. The command was a comfort, something familiar in a day filled with anxiety, since my scheduled suitor had abandoned me. I had watched the sun move across the sky, feeling my need grow. Unbuttoning my raincoat, I tossed it to the floor. I listened to the music and allowed the beat to pace my movements. Shirt, jeans and socks came off slow and easy. Each stroke of my hand over my skin intensified my yearning.

All the while he watched, his eyes caressing my curves, so intent it made me ache.

I unclasped the front of my bra and stalked toward the edge of the bed. The straps slid from my shoulders and down my arms, releasing my breasts. Cool air brushed over my wet skin and sent a shiver through my limbs.

“You’re cold.” He offered me his hand.

I climbed in his warm bed. Lying next to him, I ran my hand through his short, sunny-blond hair. “What would I do without you?”

He chuckled. “Save those words for your other suitors.” Trailing a sharp fingernail over my breastbone, he drew a path to my belly button and teased the small ring pierced there. “What will you give me in exchange for tonight?”

I blinked and tilted my head to see his face better. “What I always pay, my blood.”

He shook his head. “I already fed and the price went up.”

Annie Nicholas

Leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Starved For Love.  Winner will be announced on Sept. 21st.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Are You Ready To Send In That Submission?

I've been so busy through the summer break with releases left right and center (check my amazon page for the latest - vampires, zombies, Irish pubs... the list is extensive). It's been very exciting, and I love the online buzz my new releases have generated. I've just had my tenth book with Decadent Publishing accepted, and that will be my last release for 2012 (Hot Winter Kiss, Irish Kisses book 4). I'm now working on three new projects, with new arsenal in my thumb drive; during the past year with all that writing, submitting, and editing, I've learned a very valuable lesson on what I NEED to do before I send in a submission.
I’m an impulsive person by nature. I get to a point where I think I couldn’t possibly edit my manuscript anymore, but that desire to end it all and hit send is often overwhelming.  I find myself having to walk away from the computer, chewing at the cord wanting to hit send.
Nathan Bransford’s--if you’re a writer, you should know this blog. If you don’t, go subscribe NOW--blog post by about revision fatigue got me thinking...and nodding my head in agreement.

There comes a point when you think the book is a colossal, irredeemable mess and you can't for the life of you figure out if it's actually any good or not.” -- Nathan Bransford

Yes, I thought, I am not the only one. I am not a Highlander; well, there can be only one of those.
When I think my story is a mess, I let it sit for a while and go back in for more edits a few days later. It’s after that process that the ‘hit send’ urge hits me.

Maybe it could do with another edit? Maybe there’s a plot point that has a gap, or maybe I forgot to check continuity with a fine tooth comb and missed something. Those are all questions that used to race through my mind after hitting send.

I’ve since learned a neat little trick that keeps me distracted until the book is ready for submission. I mean actually ready, not almost ready.

I now have a check list of all my writing weaknesses, and I make myself go through it if I get a sudden urge to hit send. Search and find for my big no-no words, checking eye and hair color, double checking location research and whatnot. and cliches. I’ve got a long list of those to check for. By the time I’ve finished checking, another full round of edits have taken place because I typically find more ‘little’ things along the way. I can see then that it's almost there, but not quite. It's almost like you've got fresh eyes on the project after running through a checklist on it. Another round of edits takes place and then I typically feel 'right' about sending it in with hopes of getting a resounding YES from an editor.

I've found this to be a useful program; AUTO CRIT wizard - free trial . It doesn't replace beta readers and critique partners, but it does give a cleaner look at where things could be improved technically.

What do you make sure to do before you hit ‘send submission?’
Got any tips to share?

Dracula's Kiss by JoAnne Kenrick is a paranormal 1Night Stand book with decadent publishing 's 1NS series and set in actual castle ruins which inspired Stoker  when writing DraculBy JoAnne Kenrick [ ]
Bestselling author of romances, both contemporary and paranormal.
Grab Dracula’s Kiss this October; a Decadent Publishing 1NS story set in actual Scottish castle ruins that inspired Stoker when writing Dracula. A tasty treat not to be missed this Halloween! Available to purchase for just 2.99 at your favorite e-book stores.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Curses

A couple years ago, I read a cursed book. This wasn't surprising, given the book was about curses. In Cursed in New England: Stories of Damned Yankees, (by Joseph Citro) the inscription was as follows:

Steal not this book my honest friend
For fear the Gallows should be your end
And when you die the Lord will say
And where's the Book you stole away?
--Traditional book curse

Book curses were common in medieval times. Most curses promised damnation, excommunication, or anathema. 

I'm not an overly superstitious person, but I do believe in curses, to a point. The book mentioned above is about curses in New England, where I'm from, so I grew up around more than one. Curses are most powerful when the recipient believes in them, but a person in severe emotional distress "casting" one can also have a big effect. I highly recommend the book if you're interested in the subject of curses in general. Just don't steal it. ;-)

I may have to study poetry and write some anti-piracy book curses of my own. Honestly, aside from my vehemence toward book pirates, I think it'd be fun. What do you all think? Would you put a curse on your book? :-)

Monday, September 10, 2012

On top of the world ...

Well, sorta. I mean, I guess Mount Everest is technically the top of the world right?

I'm a born and raised city girl. I grew up just outside of Toronto. The great lakes, are a bit of a step. Lake Superior Trickles down into Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, Lake Huron trickles down into Lake Erie and via Niagara Falls Lake Erie feeds into Ontario which winds its way out to sea via the St. Lawrence river.

Where I live, I'm pretty close to sea level. Closer than Alberta.

One thing I noticed driving out west was the climb. It started in Minnesota after we crossed the Mississippi.

The climb was gradual, but I felt it. My ears, they were popping.

And then, I got to see mountains. For the first time in my LIFE. I've never seen them. NEVER.

They were absolutely beautiful.

But I'm terrified of heights. YEP.

The first set of mountains we saw were the Black Hills. OMG. The road up to Mount Rushmore was beautiful, but DUDE I didn't realize it was such a steep climb up a mountain to see the famous four. I was clenching. Once we were at the top though it was worth it! This is my DH and kids. My youngest did this pose with his Daddy and I was so glad I was snapping the pics when he did this. I heart it muchly.

And then we hit Montana. This was the first glimpse of SNOW capped mountains. I was so excited.

I just have to say I absolutely and utterly feel head over heels in love with Montana. I want to go back. I'd go back in a second. If I wasn't Canadian, I'd move there if I could. LOVED IT!

Finally, in Alberta we came to Jasper National Park and I got to get up close and personal with the mountains.

This is one of Canada's most famous lakes, Lake Maligne. It was a bit windy or I would've got a picture perfect reflection. Gorgeous.

Of course, being in Jasper I had to face the inevitable. A go to the top of a mountain. EEK!

And here I am. At the top. Facing one of my worst fears.

So, this summer I faced a fear and made a dream come true seeing mountains.

Have you ever faced your fear? If so what?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sexiest Superhero Showdown

With the countdown on for the release of Yesterday's Heroes (just eight more days), I have been paying attention to all things superhero. Arguably, this summer's Avengers is one of the largest superhero movies of all time in term of the powerhouse characters and box office, so who are the sexiest superheros of all? I'm going to post my top ten and your task, should you choose to accept it is vote for your favorite in the comments AND tell us why they would come out on top in the battle of the sexy...charm, good looks, skill, and yes--abs. 

One lucky commentator will win a copy of Yesterday's Heroes AND a ten dollar gift certificate to Amazon (could help you buy that copy of Avengers when it comes out on the 25th!)

Pre-Order Today


Dark, tortured, and orphaned at a young age, Batman fights crime with his gadgets, strength, stealth and high intelligence. Unlike many in the DC Comics world, Bruce Wayne may wear a mask to become Batman--but Bruce is the alter ego that Batman must play in the daytime world. Comforting him is a worthy task, don't you think?


Remy LeBeau was popular with the ladies, possessed a devastating charm, and a swoon-worthy heart as he grew more and more devoted to the one woman he can't touch: Rogue.  His mutant ability allows him to tap into the kinetic energy in an object. When he throws something, it releases that energy on impact and explodes. Thus he can make a deck of cards deadly. He has superhuman dexterity and agility and can create interference for telepaths trying to read him. And the man has a Cajun accent...


I admit to some bias here because Wolverine is played by Hugh Jackman in the films and I think this is one sexy Aussie (and he's not the only one to make this list), but Wolverine's super healing factor, adamantium skeleton and tortured past make him the ultimate anti-hero. Wolverine's fierce temper is balanced by his absolute loyalty.  He carried a torch for Jean Grey for a long time, he needs a little loving don't you think?

Green Arrow

Like Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen was wealthy, lost his parents when he was young and lived like a playboy--until in one origin, he was stranded on a deserted island and had to develop the skills to survive. By the time he returned to civilization, Oliver grew determined to use his newfound skills. He's not as law and order abiding as Bruce might wish him to be and he's definitely got a knack for pissing people off, but Ollie is a fierce enemy and a fiercer friend. His long-term on again off again affair with Dinah Lance (Black Canary) was hot and he was played by the gorgeous Justin Hartley in Smallville (Yum!)

Iron Man

Tony Stark is arrogant, rich as sin, and a genius--not to mention he is Iron Man. His playboy ways and cavalier attitudes are a product of his upbringing and the fact that his need to design and build projects can sometimes overwhelm his good sense--but he does have a strong moral compass and when his eyes were opened to what some used his weapons for...well, Tony wasn't having that.  Robert Downey Jr. plays him with wicked delight too!

The Human Torch

Test pilot Johnny Storm is an irreverent daredevil with a heart and a desire to succeed. When a cosmic accident turned him into the human torch...literally, he took full advantage of his new abilities--his favorite of course being flying. Johnny's devoted to his sister and he's got swagger. Who wouldn't want to tame this bad boy? It doesn't hurt that a younger (and leaner) Chris Evans played the part before he was Captain America.


Bad ass, bad attitude, bad karma--sorry, not really. But Blade is not your typical poster boy for charm and kindness. In fact, Blade makes Wolverine look warm and fuzzy, but this hard core loner has an axe to grind with most of the vampire population and the way Wesley Snipes plays him? Yum!


Technically, V is not a hero--he's the absolute anti-hero battling against the establishment. Experimented on and horribly disfigured, V becomes the face of the resistance with his Guy Fawkes mask against a Fascist Futuristic Britain.  Combine his devotion to a cause, his absolute refusal to bow to the establishment, and a cunningly clever ability to twist his tongue around verbal conundrums and you have the type of hero you want to save yourself. Hugo Weaving's brilliant voice in the film made him even more tragic and compelling.


Victor Stone was just a regular rebellious teen with plans to turn his sports skill into a scholarship when an accident in his father's lab destroyed over half his body. Rebuilt with metallic prosthetics, he became half-man, half-machine and struggled with his personal identity, but Victor's greatest strength is his utter humanity and understanding that the heart and mind make a person human, not their limbs. His friendship with Garfield Logan and indulgence of the younger hero's pranks made him a man to be admired (and sympathized with). It helps that Victor's no slouch in the brains department.


Of COURSE Thor made my list. The Asgardian God of Thunder carries a mighty hammer and an even mightier responsibility--living up to the greatness of his father: Odin.  This is a hero that can go toe to toe with the Hulk and actually last. But with great power and skill also comes great arrogance and Thor's greatest weakness is that wild arrogance that needs to be tempered with humility. Chris Hemsworth played him in the movie, need I say more?

Is your favorite not on the list? Throw them in the mix. Remember, one lucky commentator will get a copy of Yesterday's Heroes AND a gift card to Amazon.  So what are you waiting for? Who is your sexiest superhero?

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall is coming. Thank goodness.

During summer, I have to take it very slow--glacial, really--with my writing projects. Now that the kids are back to school, it's time to ramp back up, re-evaluate the to-do list, get ready for some book releases (yay!), catch up on email... you get the drift. I usually come back from summer with a new perspective on my writing projects and this time is no exception. The space western is tugging at me, but the ice planet has started seeming like a good idea again. And oh yeah, I want to work on those dark fantasies. And revisions need to happen. The kind of revisions that are like pulling teeth without Novocain.
The good news is that I do have exciting things on my plate and I can't wait to get back into my groove.
Fall is bringing me releases for MetalMark and Passionate Exhibitions, plus this new novella series starts:

What are your plans for Fall?

Ella Drake is a dark paranormal and science fiction romance author. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook, & Goodreads.

Her latest releases are Desire the Banshee an erotic paranormal romance from Ellora's Cave & Desert Blade, a near-future post-apocalyptic romance from Carina Press. Coming soon, MetalMark (Lyrical Press) & Passionate Exhibitions (Turquoise Morning Press). Other work includes The Forbidden Chamber, Silver Bound, Jaq’s Harp, Braided Silk & Firestorm on E’Terra.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Wife for Hire by Christine Bell

Looking for an easy, fun, and humorous read? Check out Wife for Hire by Christine Bell. Highly recommend it. I laughed out loud so often my stomach hurt! Great book!!

He needs a wife for three weeks…

Owen Phipps is out for revenge. His mission? To expose the man who stole his sister’s money and dignity. All he needs is a “wife” who can play along. Too bad his last best hope is an actress who tries to mace him with perfume when he offers her the role of a lifetime.

Lindy Covington is a real sap. She loves too hard, feels too deep, and often finds herself saying yes when she should be saying “Let me think about it.” She can’t believe her good fortune when Owen offers her more than enough money to hold off foreclosure until she can find a job. Three weeks at a resort, money she desperately needs, and she gets to help bring a criminal to justice? Score.

It seems easy enough until the first time a couples bonding game turns intimate, and they realize how dangerous their mutual attraction could be. Can they keep their hands to themselves long enough to find the evidence Owen needs? Or are the close quarters more temptation than they can handle?


Title: Wife for Hire
Author: Christine Bell
Genre: Category – Contemporary
Length: 245 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62266-973-8
Release Date: August 2012
Imprint: Indulgence

© 2012 Christine Bell
Chapter One
Lindy Knight stared at the mountain of feathers and cotton batting that used to be her couch and tried not to cry. “Melba?” she called, hoping the desperation she felt wasn’t evident in her voice.
“Yes, dear?” Melba rounded the corner from the kitchen, sauce-covered wooden spoon still in hand. She stopped in her tracks. “Holy Toledo, it’s snowing in here! Is there a hole in the roof?” She trained her milky blue gaze toward the ceiling.
Lindy sucked a breath through her nose and let it out slowly through her mouth, like that lady in the yoga video. “That’s not snow. That’s the couch.”
The old woman shuffled closer and bent low, peering into the mess, dripping globs of marinara onto the crème colored carpet. “Huh. Well, I’ll be. Looks like snow.” She straightened and shrugged. “Thought we had a hole in the roof. That’s good at least.”
That was good, since a new couch cost less than a new roof. But when one’s life savings amounted to—she spared a glance to the account statement she’d been reading when she’d walked into the house—two hundred sixty-three dollars and eleven cents, neither scenario was exactly ideal.
“Where are the puppies?”
“In the kitchen with me. We were making gnocchi.” A delighted grin spread across Melba’s heavily-lined face, and Lindy couldn’t help but return it. There was no question she meant well and wanted to earn her keep. It wasn’t her fault that the attempts invariably backfired.
“We’ve got to make sure we keep the door shut, okay, Melbs? No puppies in the living room unless I’m home,” Lindy said gently. “I’m going to go through the mail and clean this mess up. I’ll be in to help with dinner as soon as I’m done.”
“No problemo. We’re finished anyway. I’m on my way out to St. Mike’s, and don’t worry, Fanny’s driving. I’ll put the sauce on warm for you. See you later tonight,” Melba chirped, ambling back to the kitchen.
Since the last house fire, she wasn’t supposed to be cooking when no one was home, but Lindy needed to pick her battles. At least their neighbor had been kind enough to offer Melba a ride to the church for Friday night bingo. She didn’t have the strength to argue about her elderly charge getting behind the wheel. It had been a doozy of a week, and she wanted it over with. Maybe after dinner she’d curl up with a good book and call it a day.
She was flipping through the mail, mostly bills, when her cell blared the opening lines of “Push It” by Salt-n-Pepa. Usually, the song cheered her. She was hard-pressed to recall a time that it hadn’t resulted in some serious booty shaking, but today she wanted to pitch the phone into the garbage disposal. She rummaged through her purse and yanked it out just as it went to voice mail.
One missed call.
Whoopty-doo. Probably Mal with another one of his cockamamie ideas. She jammed the phone back into her bag without a second look and tackled the onerous task of cleaning up the remains of her couch.
It took nearly an hour, three vacuum bags, and four trips to the trashcans out front, but by the time she was done, the room looked passably clean. And extremely empty, she noted with a twinge of despair. She cut off that train of thought before it became a real locomotive, and floundered for a silver lining. Now she had an excuse to redecorate, and she did love Indian-inspired designs. It would be the perfect time to find some bright fabric at the thrift store and sew four gorgeous seating pillows to go around the coffee table. She’d get some patterns and ideas online before bed.
A sharp rap on the door jarred her from her thoughts. She peeked through the peephole and gasped. The man on her porch was the most gorgeous she’d ever laid eyes on. Even distorted by the curved glass, his face was a work of art. Full, firm lips perched above a square jaw, capped off by angular cheekbones and a slash of a nose that kept him from looking too feminine. Close-cropped, raven black hair set off dark gray eyes that were currently locked with her one that was fixed on the peephole, and became filled with exasperation.
“Hello?” he called.
“Hello?” she parroted dumbly.
“Can…I come in, or?” The tone seemed like one reserved for either children or imbeciles and was at odds with the lilting, almost song-like Irish brogue. She bristled despite the delicious accent, pushing thoughts of his stunning good looks to the back burner.
“I’m not sure. Who are you?” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. She uncrossed them when she realized he couldn’t see her combative gesture. Instead, she narrowed her peeping eye suspiciously, in case he leaned in to look.
Tall, dark and handsome sighed heavily. “Owen Phipps. We had an appointment.”
She did a mental rundown of her schedule and winced. They did have an appointment. For a job, no less, and this clearly wasn’t the best foot to start off on. If it hadn’t been for the damned…well, everything today, she would’ve remembered for sure. Compared to all the other wanted ads she’d responded to, this one was the definite oddball and stood out like a gangrenous thumb. She’d found it on Craigslist when she happened upon the “gigs” section entirely by accident. There, at the top of the page, was Mr. Phipps’s strange little advertisement.

Wanted: Attractive woman, age 25-35, with some acting experience needed for three week position beginning January 25th. Recognizable television and/or movie personalities need not apply. Pay is a flat rate of $20,000 for three continuous weeks of 24/7 availability. Must be willing to travel. Email to set up an interview.

She’d actually snorted a laugh when she first saw it, but for some reason she kept coming back to it, re-reading and, more to the point, recalculating. It would take her—she did the math quickly on her fingers—a million shifts at the restaurant to make twenty grand. That amount of money could get her out of the hole and pay her mortgage for a year. With a little old lady and seven puppies counting on her, credit cards bursting at the seams, and everything of value already in hock, she was plum out of brilliant ideas. They had eight weeks before the bank came a-calling. If desperation actually had a smell, she’d reek right now.
So she’d emailed him. To her shock, he hadn’t responded asking her to send her social security number or a check to secure the position. Nor had he asked her to send a picture of her boobs. No, instead, he’d asked her for a list of qualifications and references, which she supplied. Still, when he contacted her asking if they could meet in his home for an interview, she hesitated. Although there weren’t any obvious indications of psychosis in his email correspondence, odds still had to be pretty good that he was either a whack job or a scammer.
Right as she had been about to delete his request unanswered, her brother Mal phoned from the vet’s office where he’d gone to pick up Melba. Melba had tried to call Lindy’s cell phone earlier because Sneezy had swallowed the top half of a plastic spork, but Lindy was in the middle of a shift. When no one answered, Melba had taken a cab to the emergency veterinary clinic out in Mount Vernon, since the regular vet was closed.
By the time Mal brought her home, Melba was armed with the same squirming puppy and a four hundred dollar note advising them to keep an eye out for spork shrapnel coming from Sneezy’s back end. Lindy later found the hunk of plastic on the floor where it had likely been the whole time. She was proud of herself, though. She didn’t have a mental breakdown. Instead, she emailed Mr. Phipps and explained that she understood his desire for privacy, but, as a young woman alone, she would feel more comfortable at her own house, perhaps with her brother in the adjacent room. His response was almost instantaneous. He agreed and commended her vigilance.
They set an appointment for the following week since he was out of town on business, and she’d gone on with her life. She was fairly certain whatever he was trying to pull had been derailed once she’d refused to go to his house, so she hadn’t really given it another thought. His little game had come to its conclusion, and he’d shop for an easier mark.
But here he was.
And here she was.
She steeled herself and laid a hand on the knob. No point in putting it off. If he kidnapped her, at least she wouldn’t have to worry about the mortgage anymore. She ran a hand through her disheveled hair and pasted what she hoped was a capable-looking smile on her face. After a quick breath check, she opened the door, letting in a frigid blast of air.
“Hello, Mr. Phipps. Do come in.”
“Please, my da was Mr. Phipps. Call me Owen.” He pronounced it “Ooh-un” and she suppressed a swoon.
“Owen, then. I apologize for making you wait in the cold. It’s been a hectic day, and I’m afraid I lost track of time.” In her nervousness, she’d adopted some sort of weird, transcontinental accent like the actresses in one of those 1950s caper films she watched on Sunday afternoons. Her cheeks burned at his puzzled look and she slung the door wider to let him in.
“Where are you from?” he asked, brows raised. He was even taller than he looked through the peephole and seemed to take up an awful lot of space as he pressed by her, into the foyer.
“Here. I mean, Westchester.”
He inclined his head but narrowed his eyes. “Your accent sounds like…somewhere else.”
She forced a laugh. “Sorry, I have an audition for an upcoming community theater production and I try to kind of live in the character.” The falsehood rolled off her tongue before she could stop it, and she cringed. She hated lying, but this guy had her totally off her game. Plus, on the miniscule chance this was a real job opportunity, the last thing she wanted was to be stuck talking like Myrna Loy for the next month.
“That so? What production?”
Caught off guard by the question, she wracked her brain for a response.
The Vagina Monologues.”
He pinned her with a blank stare. She didn’t blame him. What was there to say? He was obviously in the company of a blathering idiot. She fought the inane urge to find a mirror and see if her face was literally on fire.
He cleared his throat before speaking again. “Shall we sit down then, maybe discuss the position and your qualifications?”
Now it was her turn to stare. What kind of man would still consider hiring a person like her when their limited interaction had been nothing but weird? The thought sent the butterflies in her stomach a-flapping, and she took a few hesitant steps toward the living room. This was it, the pivotal point in every horror movie, the one that always had her shouting, “Don’t let him in, you idiot!” at the screen. And still, she kept walking. Surely a guy that handsome could get a girl to live in his basement cage just by asking, right? No need to go hunting for one. Plus, twenty thousand dollars was a lot of money. She wasn’t backing down until she knew for sure there was no real job. Maybe they could put that on her tombstone. Wouldn’t back down…and paid the ultimate price
Resisting the urge to genuflect, she blew out a martyr’s sigh. “Please, have a seat,” she said, motioning to the couch that was no longer there. Squeezing her eyes closed, she swallowed a groan. Had she really thought the day couldn’t get worse? How droll. “I forgot. My couch got eaten. Maybe we should go in the kitchen.”
She scurried by him, surreptitiously grabbing her purse as she passed it. If worse came to worst, maybe she’d have a shot at her cell phone, or at the very least, be able to get a good swing in with the bag. If she did hit him, though, she’d aim for the solar plexus. His face was far too pretty to ruin.
Where had that come from? He hadn’t even kidnapped her yet and already she was succumbing to Stockholm syndrome. That didn’t bode well for her. If Mr. Owen Phipps was for real, and by some miracle she landed this mysterious job, how was she going to stop herself from falling madly, completely in lust?
She wasn’t. That’s how.

Owen watched his odd little hostess, almost in a daze. The ad he’d placed was admittedly a bit cryptic, so he’d been prepared for the freaks to come out. Still, the responses had been so off the charts nutty, he wondered if he’d slipped through a looking glass somewhere. Lindy Knight had been his last hope. After a few reasoned, articulate email exchanges, he’d been cautiously optimistic, but that optimism was fading fast. The Vagina Monologues, indeed.
Time to determine whether she was a compulsive liar, or if all this madness was the result of a bad case of nerves. The latter he could work with. The former was unacceptable. He couldn’t abide by phonies.
Lindy swung the kitchen door open and was instantly mobbed by a passel of squirming, ginger-colored puppies. They very nearly took her down, but she managed to grab onto the countertop and regain her balance.
“Jesus, how many dogs do you have?”
He knew his tone bordered on incredulous, but his infamous composure seemed to have deserted him.
“Seven. I’m not keeping them,” she said, bending low to scratch behind ears and pat heads. “I’m…holding them.”
“Holding them for what?”
“You know, until I find them homes.” She shrugged.
“Where are the parents?” he asked, scanning the tiny room for evidence of larger animals.
She hesitated, pursing her full lips. “That’s complicated.”
“Are you running some sort of puppy mill here or something?” he asked, oddly disappointed. The woman was probably a wacko anyway, what with the fake accent when he’d arrived and her strange behavior since. So why did it bother him that she was capable of something so unsavory?  Maybe it was the cherub face, or the wide blue eyes framed by the pixie haircut that made her look almost fey.
Those eyes snapped outrage at him now. “No! Of course not. I saved them from a puppy mill. I answered an ad in the paper because I’ve always wanted a golden retriever. When I went there, I couldn’t leave the rest. So I took them all. To hold. I just haven’t had a chance to find them good homes yet. I’ve got the word out with friends, though, so pretty soon they’ll be gone.”
One of the pups, chubbier than the rest, plopped down on her foot. The annoyance drained from her face, and she grinned. The smile lit her up in a way that gave him the urge to move closer and absorb the warmth. “Come on now, Sleepy. Hop to it.” She gave her leg a shake and the pup plodded off with a yawn. “That’s the one I’m keeping,” she whispered, and pressed her forefinger to her lips.
“They’re named after Snow White’s dwarves?”
“Mostly. We’ve got Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Bashful, Grumpy, Happy, and Steve.” At his questioning gaze she shrugged, again dropping her voice low. “We didn’t want to call him Dopey. Might hurt his self-esteem.”
He nodded, unable to come up with an appropriate response to that.
She turned to usher the puppies into a large pen that took up the lion’s share of the kitchen. Once they were safely ensconced, she motioned to the table.
“I can take your coat, and you can have a seat. Would you like something to drink? I’ve got bottled water, coffee, and tea. There’s also some gnocchi on the stove if you’re hungry.”
Although her words were casual, she clutched her purse close. What did she have in there that she was so protective of? He kept his eyes on the bag and responded. “I’ll leave my coat here. And no, thank you on the food. I’m fine.” Right when he stripped off his coat, the spicy scent of garlic and tomatoes hit him, and his stomach rumbled.
She flashed that smile again. “You sure? Sounds like your stomach disagrees.”
Annoyed with himself for being sucked in by a pretty face, and his traitorous stomach for the ill-timed hallelujah chorus, he gave his head a firm shake. “I don’t have a lot of time, so can we…?” He laid his coat over the back of his chair and then set his briefcase on the table, eyeing it pointedly.
“Sure thing.” The wariness was back, and she kept a hand on her pocketbook as they sat across from one another.
As his fingers went to the enclosure on his briefcase, he noticed hers move to grip the sides of her bag. He popped the latch and, with her gaze locked on his hand, she undid the fastener of her purse. She was mimicking his motions. How odd. He paused for a moment then cracked open his briefcase to reach inside. Sure enough, she followed suit, easing her hand into her bag. Fascinated, he moved to pull out the sheaf of papers, but before he could, she let out a yelp and yanked out a pack of Wrigley’s gum.
They both stared at the gum between them. “Ms. Knight?”
“C-call me Lindy, please.” She jammed it toward him and the package nearly hit his nose. “Gum?” she squeaked.
He shook his head, bemused. “No thanks.” Good sense told him he should call it a day and write the last few minutes off as a loss, but considering the pool of candidates he had to work from so far, she wasn’t even close to the worst. The weirdest? Maybe. But she was attractive and did look the part. She’d claimed some acting experience. Maybe she could act a little less weird and they’d do fine.
Ah well. Another half hour wasn’t going to kill him.
He pulled the papers from his briefcase and set them on the table between them. Lindy’s wide eyes filled with relief and she slumped forward. Letting out a long breath, she released the stranglehold on her bag. What was she expecting, a hacksaw?
“Why don’t you tell me a little about yourself? Your resume indicated that you had some acting experience with your last business venture. The…” He glanced down at the sheet in front of him. “Brothers Grim?”
Her cheeks glowed a pretty shade of pink, and she wriggled in her seat. “Well, uh, it wasn’t really acting, per se. When the real estate market took a dive and I couldn’t sell any houses, I had to look for unique ways of riding out the downturn. I enjoy working for myself, so I set my sights on creating a niche business, something small and different that I could run myself, with maybe a couple part-timers.”
He nodded encouragingly. Her thought process made a lot of sense. A good sign.
“I’d walk around making lists of things that would make my own life easier in hopes of stumbling onto the next Google or Post-it notes or something. That’s when I came up with The Brothers Grim. My whole life, I’ve always had a hard time hurting people’s feelings. I once dated a guy for three months because I couldn’t bring myself to break up with him. Nice enough guy and all, but…moist, you know? Like his palms were always cold and damp. Every time he touched me, it reminded me of my creepy Uncle Donny and I’d get all skeeved out.  But how do you tell somebody that? So I got to thinking, what if you could hire a company to break bad news for you? Need to fire an employee? Leave your lover? Tell your spouse you were going to jail on fraud charges? The Brothers Grim will do it for you.”
He eyeballed her hard, trying to determine whether she was serious or not, but she gazed back, solemn-faced.
“If you hate giving people bad news, then why—”
“Oh, God no! I didn’t do that part. I handled marketing, booking, etcetera. My brothers, Malcolm and Nathan, were the actual news-bearers. Hence the name of the company.”
“So why did you stop?”
She shifted her gaze away and let out a sigh. “Well, that’s kind of a long story. See, on our last job Mal and Nate both came down with a terrible stomach flu. We had a contract with a guy and he said it was an urgent matter that couldn’t be postponed. So, I bit the bullet and agreed to do it myself, this once. I was supposed to tell Mr. Nicholas McElroy’s wife that he was leaving her.”
Her eyes swam with sudden tears and Owen found himself stuck, unable to look away.
“I dressed up in a suit, went to the MacElroy house and knocked. Melba MacElroy came to the door. She was…” Lindy paused, dug into her purse, and pulled out a tissue. She let out a long, honking blow before continuing. “She was s-so c-cute. This tiny old lady in a purple housecoat. I wanted to run away, but I had made a commitment and signed a contract, so when she invited me in, I went. I explained that I was there on behalf of Nicholas, and he wanted a divorce.” Her lips curled in a half-smile then. “I thought she was going to cry, but instead she flipped out. ‘That bastard!’ she said. ‘Probably wants to shack up with Roberta Finkelstein. Floozy. Figures he’d go for a young chippy like that. Look at me, married for sixty-two years and I’m a statistic.’”
Owen realized he was leaning forward in his chair, riveted by this ludicrous tale, and sat back. “What happened next?”
“Turned out Roberta was the MacElroy’s seventy-year-old neighbor, and Nicholas did plan on making time with her once he got rid of poor Melba. Long story short, Melba decided she wasn’t going to stay in that house a second longer, so she packed up her stuff. She didn’t have any place to go so she came home with me. I closed down the business the next day. Didn’t have the heart for it. It was a bad idea from the start. People should have to face the person they’re hurting.”
The last part gave him pause and made him slightly uncomfortable. Ms. Knight was making rock-solid sense. By moving forward, he’d hoped to make his sister’s conman ex-boyfriend Nico pay, but wasn’t he, in effect robbing Cara of the chance to face him down herself, if and when she was ready? The thought faded as quickly as it had come. At the rate she was going, his sister was never going to confront the bastard. Owen had counseled her to get a civil attorney and at least get Nico’s face splashed all over the news, win or lose, but she didn’t have the heart. Someone had to make him pay.
Lindy seemed to be of the same mind as he was. If a person did wrong, they should have to own up to it. She’d said it with such conviction, he wondered if maybe she could work out after all.
“So what ever happened to old Melba?”
Lindy gave him a sheepish look. “She should be home in a couple of hours.”
That stopped him cold. “Wait, she still lives with you?”
“Uh huh. It’s only been a few months.” She released the death grip on her purse to run a hand through her short, dark hair. “She doesn’t have anywhere else to go right now. Once the divorce is finalized, and the house is sold, she can get a place on her own.”
Owen pinched the bridge of his nose to ward off the headache that had been skulking around his cranium all morning. So far, he was batting a thousand. After two weeks of interviewing, he’d met nothing but nutters, sleazeballs, and people who were in the country illegally. It was like some twisted version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, except his rendition would be more like “Six hookers hooking, fiiiive homeless drunks! Four illegal immigrants, three ex-cons, two exotic dancers, and a bleeding-heart flake with seven puppies.”
“I do have some acting experience, though. Right now, I’m between businesses, so I got a job waitressing at Medieval Days. I spend my shift pretending the mutton’s delicious.”
He must be getting used to her quirks because this time her unconventional response didn’t even faze him. He felt a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. Glancing at her neat little figure in jeans and a wooly cardigan, he tried to picture her at Medieval Days serving food in trenchers, wearing long skirts with a corset. The image sent a surge of blood pumping south, and he bit back a curse. He couldn’t afford to be distracted right now. There was too much at stake to allow biology to sway him from making the right choice, but she also had a guilelessness about her that might turn out to be a great asset. Could Lindy Knight possibly be the right choice for the job?
He did a mental rundown of the other applicants and grimaced. Who was he kidding? With ten days left, she was his only choice.
“Miss Knight, I need a wife and I’d like to hire you. How would you like to be my wife for three weeks?”