A Single Day Shattered Her Life…


A single day shattered her life and set in motion, events that would change the Sullivan family for generations.

Marnie Joe Sullivan had the perfect life as the daughter of a wealthy Virginia businessman, but perfection wouldn’t last. As the War Between the States ends, she is struggling to keep her family together. After a botched robbery, fleeing rebels leave her mother dead and Marnie at the mercy of a killer. The year is 1867 and Virginia is still home to Confederate conspirators and a killer that must be stopped. Loyalty and love run deep in the Sullivan family and Marnie is no exception. As the eldest Sullivan, she feels obligated to rescue her father from the hangman’s noose. But a jailbreak at midnight lands her in the arms of Marshal Mason Kane.

Death is never fair. Mason Kane is proof of that. The horror of war and the death of his brother made him a drunk. Consumed by guilt and grief, he finds himself occupying Richmond saloons and starting fights. But a forgotten promise to his brother forces him to put down the bottle and accept a friend’s plea for help. Mason has no idea that the scrawny, mud covered boy he just hit is Sullivan’s daughter and he has no idea just how tempting she is until he tries to mend her wounds. Bound by honor and promise, Mason sets out to find a killer. What he finds is the outlaw Marnie Sullivan. A woman he can’t live without and secrets that lie in the way.

About Wilhelmina Stolen:

Wilhelmina Stolen is the pseudonym for romance writer, Shannon Hayes. Shannon is a native of Kentucky and makes her home in small southern town close to the Tennessee line. During her adolescence, her mother’s free spirited nature became restless causing the family to embark on a slew of adventurous moves across the country. The moves provoked a hunger for adventure and romance and introduced her to a wonderful world of history and beauty.

As with most writers, her stories began at an early age with long sessions of seclusion and secrecy. While her classmates and friends were outside playing, Shannon was locked away in her room hammering out ideas on an old 1940’s Royal typewriter.

After finding Mr. Right, Shannon found herself wanting the comfort and security of the small Kentucky town she longed to escape as a child. Fortune smiled upon her and she became the family historian; gathering pictures, wills, marriage certificates and everything else that somehow managed to fall into her lap. Stories flooded her mind and writing quickly became an obsession that turned into the Way of Hearts Saga. The saga spans six generations and three families.

Shannon holds an Associates in Applied Science in Technology, a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration and Management as well as a Masters in Educational Leadership. Visit her author page at to learn more about the saga.

Public contact information:

Excerpt of Sullivan’s Way:

February 2, 1868

Sullivan Settlement, Virginia

Them Damned Confederates

Marnie Joe Sullivan, a well-bred woman of Virginian wealth, sat at the head of her father’s table. Despite her cool exterior, she felt civility’s firm grip slip and a white-hot anger coil its way up her spine. The beast threatened to burst forth in a rage of unladylike vulgarities of which the gentlemen across from her would undoubtedly recoil and offer a hideous clicking sound of disapproval from their forked tongues! No, that wouldn’t do.

“Damn it Marnie! You can’t go!” The abrasive voice manifested itself from the older man sitting across from her. He heaved one foot upward and slammed it against the smooth cherry floor of the great room. The dull clap of the heavy boot vibrated against the stone walls of the Sullivan house, “We have to wait for Lucas. He’ll be back anytime now.” The stub from his missing first finger wiggled uncontrollably as he ran his gnarled fingers over his thinning, silver hair, creating a wild mess. The missing digit was Ike Ritchie’s trophy for his victorious fight in the Battle of Buena Vista in ’47, “Your Pa was crazy for going to Silver Creek!”

With an unwavering face of authority, Marnie lifted her chin and leveled her gaze. A delicate blush of pink rushed over both cheeks, “My Pa is not crazy! He’s grieving.” Her small fingers anxiously examined the delicate embroidery of her handkerchief as her eyes burned into Ike with disapproval. The midnight black of her silk dress couldn’t quench the green fire that raged in her eyes. Since her mother’s death, Marnie had adorned black in every sense of the word, her soul, her spirit, and her will were all shaded black by that day, but not today. Today was a day of action!

An indignant “humph” escaped the edge of her full lips. As if being prompted by the sound, a petite black woman stepped from the hall and stood with folded hands as they waited for their guests to arrive, her slate stare burning relentlessly into Marnie. Yes, yes, I know, Tillie! Ladies always remain calm! As leaders from the settlement below entered the room one by one, Marnie took a deep breath that generated a small look of understanding and approval from the housekeeper.

Marnie’s skin itched and burned from the laces of her corset, causing her to shift in her seat. Thanks to Tillie’s diligent efforts, she was presentable. It infuriated Marnie to know that over half the morning had been devoted to tying, lacing and buttoning her unmentionables just so she might look presentable to the men in front of her. In the time it had taken Tillie to carefully style her unruly blonde hair into the neatly formed chignon, she could have been half-way to Silver Creek. This is ridiculous! I don’t need their help! Will Roark, Louis Porter, and Charlie Wilcox, represented only a handful of families that homesteaded on her father’s land. The men had taken council at this house since Marnie had donned pigtails and played with dolls. They weren’t use to answering to anyone but her father, “Thank you all for coming on such short notice.”

Will looked confused, “Marnie, I don’t know what we could possibly do to help your Pa.”

Ike eased forward and rested his elbows on the table, “Marnie thought you gentlemen might accompany us into Silver Creek.”

Charlie frowned, “Why would we do that?”

“To help me break Papa from jail.” Marnie said hopefully.

Her statement provoked a laugh from Louis, “You want us to help you stage a jailbreak?” He glanced at the other men, “Is she serious?”

“I don’t find anything funny about it. It is possible.” Their snide smiles added to her frustration, “If we go in after dark, there’ll be only one or two guards.”

“That’s insane!” Louis interjected.

“No, it’s not!” With her fists clinched tightly at her side, she demanded an answer, “How can you sit there and do nothing to save him?” Their silence infuriated her. They weren’t taking her father’s capture seriously. “Papa’s been rotting in that jail for three days and God only knows how long Lucas will be gone!” It had been two days since her adopted brother, Lucas, set out for Richmond to find her Uncle, and Marnie’s confidence in the law and Maxwell Richardson was diminishing, “I haven’t seen my Uncle Max in years. How can we be sure he’ll even help Papa?”

“Maxwell won’t think twice about it.” With a dismissive hand, Ike waved her fears aside, “Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if old Maxwell dynamited the jail himself to free your Pa!”

It was because of her father’s selfish act that she sat like a plucked turkey, stitched and tied for the presentation at hand. Her father, Daniel Sullivan never left anything to coincidence. Why had he allowed himself to get caught by the law in Silver Creek? Haven’t I dealt with enough tragedy? Less than a year ago her mother lay lifeless on the floor as Marnie and her sister were ripped from their home and taken for ransom.

Tight lips controlled Marnie’s words. She lifted her chin and fought to steady her breathing. Back straight, shoulders square, you’re a Sullivan, baby girl! Her father’s voice echoed in her mind and unconsciously her posture straightened. Defiance rushed through her as the authority in her eyes demanded attention from each man.

“We can’t wait! Are you going to help me or not?” Marnie gave the table a single strike with her fist, “Someone answer me! My father gave you a roof over your head, and never asked for anything in return. Without his help, none of you would have anything. If Talon Dougal hangs Papa, nothing will prevent him from taking the mountain and everything around it!”

Louis adjusted his collar, “Marnie, we’re all concerned about your father, but he knew not to go. He was safe here. He knew if he went to town he would risk getting caught.”

“We could protect him here, but not in Silver Creek. Hell! We could be hanged right along with him!” Will shouted and Charlie nodded.

Ike agreed, “They’re right, Marnie.”

Twenty-five years ago, through dense forests and jagged rocks, her father carved out a life for not only his family, but for the families in the valley below. Now when he needed them, they cowered in fear like children, “So it will be the same as before? He needed you last year and you didn’t lift a hand to help him. You all wanted to run and hide.” She tapped the table with a finger, discarding the truth for her cause. The people around her father’s table were loyal, but fear made her desperate.

“Now wait just a damn minute little girl!” Her accusations brought Ike up out of his seat. In his younger day, he’d been a boxer, broad in the shoulder and narrow at the hip. Legend of the “Fists of Fury” spread through Texas like wildfire. Even now, his withered frame towered above Marnie. When his expression changed, she braced herself, “You seem to forget I was riding right alongside your Pa when them damned Confederates took you girls, and I helped him bury your Ma!” He shifted his weight from one leg to the other in agitation, “So don’t you go lecturing me about helping spring your Pa from jail!”

The outburst sent a silence over the men. Ike shook his head, “I’m sorry Marnie. I know you miss your ma, but−” Marnie watched him rub his furrowed face and produce a tender smile, “you girls, feel like you was my own and I don’t want to see ya get hurt.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, “We’ll wait for Lucas.” he instructed softly.

Marnie’s head shook feverishly, “We can’t wait. They could hang him at any time. Lucas might persuade the Governor to intervene in the charges against Papa, but Talon is a coward. He won’t wait for a judge or jury.” Marnie forced a wave of moving tears as she let out an, “Oh!” and pushed the handkerchief against her nose. She sniffed and dropped her head. Papa’s running out of time!

Ike eased down in a chair beside her, “Look Marnie, we can’t just go into the jail and ask for the key. He’s a wanted criminal, they’ll be guarding him close.”

“I won’t be moved by tears young lady.” Will interrupted Ike’s careful words, “I’d give my life for Daniel, but our actions have to be thought through. We wait.”

The firmness of Will’s words stilled her tears. I knew it! They’re not going to help me. Marnie refused to lose the fight. She calmed herself and raised her head, “I’m sorry, you’re right.” Her head nodded slightly in agreement and then bent forward with humility, “I know without your loyalty Papa would have been caught a long time ago, and Callie and I would probably be dead.” When she met Ike’s concerned face, the storm in her green eyes cleared, and a crafty smile eased its way onto her pouty lips, “Forgive me.” Her voice was soft, “I’m just scared.  I had to try.”

Ike cocked one bushy eyebrow upward and sighed, “Well girl, Lucas will be back from Richmond tomorrow.”

A half an hour later Marnie walked the last remaining man to the door. Ike shifted awkwardly and moved towards her. When the others had gone, he called Marnie by her childhood name, “Joe, in nineteen years I ain’t never seen you give into a fight. I saw them green eyes clear, and that means one thing. You’re up to something!”


Celebrating Courting Darkness’ release Jan 23rd!~Giveaway

I am so excited about the upcoming release of Courting Darkness, Jan 23rd! In celebration of my new release, Until Darkness Comes is on sale for .99 all month! To help spread the word, I’m hosting a Share and Like giveaway! Like and share my author page below, and follow my blog, to enter to win a 25$ Amazon gift card! The winner will be announced on Thursday. Be sure to leave a comment below so I can contact you. 🙂


She’s captured the hearts of Heaven and Hell…

Betrayed by her true love, Olivia cannot let go of the angel her mind doesn’t remember, but her heart refuses to forget. In an attempt to reclaim her broken life, she is determined to unearth her past, but some secrets are better left buried.

To save her life, he sacrificed everything. Universal Law was broken when Liam violated Olivia’s free will. His guardianship has been revoked, and the pain of letting her go is nothing compared to the torture of enduring their shattered bond. He can no longer sense her, no longer feel her, and the enemy he risked it all to save her from, now has free reign to claim her for his own. To get her back, Liam must turn away from all he is, all he was, for the one thing he may have already lost forever—Olivia’s love.

Haden will stop at nothing to possess Immanuel’s Stone, and locked away in Olivia’s memories is the key he needs to find it. But in his quest for vengeance, he never expected to lose his heart to the enchanting green-eyed beauty. Forced to choose between love and revenge, Haden is captivated by a woman who will never be his…or will she?

Autumn landscape

Book1 Redemption Series

 Until Darkness Comes .99

Author Page:

Creatus… Where fairy tale meets reality

Prepare to believe…


CREATUS is a new romantic-suspense with a supernatural edge that delves into the myths of monsters and fairy tales…

Here are two deleted scenes Carmen has shared with me to release!

~Enjoy! 🙂

Deleted Scene ~ Prologue
Kristina cowered against the damp building, looking to her mother for direction. Even at eight, she could see the wild gleam in the man’s eyes.
Pepper spray in hand, her mother pushed her toward the street. “Run, baby!”
A knife glinted in the man’s hand as he held it up in front of him. “I just want the jewelry and your money, lady. Don’t make me hurt you or the kid.”
Her mother took her eyes off him for a fraction of a second. “Run, Kris—” Her words cut off as the man slammed the knife into her mother’s chest and then reached for Kristina, but she ran as her mother had instructed. As she fled, she heard her mother’s cries. How could she have left her, especially when it was all her fault? She stopped in the middle of the street. She had to stop him. Her legs felt heavy and sluggish as she ran back down the alley toward the mugger, tears blurring her vision.
A silhouette of a man landed in front of her with a soft thump. When he stood up, a sliver of light from the street revealed that he was dressed in black and much larger than the guy who’d attacked them. An anguished scream shredded the air as the new man tore the thug off her mother, slamming him into the concrete. He knelt down over her mother, checking where the man had forced the knife, but she didn’t move. The kind man lifted her to her feet and she stumbled forward.
“Mommy!” Kristina screamed, seeing the blood drip from her mother’s mouth and seep through a rip in her dress.
Her mother’s eyes and mouth opened, but nothing came out.
“Go,” the man in black shouted. His voice was deep and strong, his eyes dark as he turned to the man on the ground and pulled him up by his hair.
Kristina wrapped her arms around her mother’s waist, doing her best to hold her upright. As they staggered away, one lone wail filled the air and then silence. She hoped it was the bad guy, not the one in black. Normally his dark hair and mysteriously deep eyes would scare her, but she’d felt safe when he looked at her, as if he knew her.
Her mother collapsed in her arms. The blood had soaked through her dress, turning it bright red.
She looked back to the alley where the mugger had pushed them off the sidewalk. They’d just been going to get ice cream. “Help me,” she pleaded to the man who’d saved her. He was leaning over the bad guy, his fingers touching his neck. “My mother’s dying…”
The man in black looked up at the sound of her cry, but didn’t move. “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do.”
She blinked the tears out of her eyes, and he was gone.
Deleted Scene ~ Chapter One
Eight Years Later
Kris let the screen door slam behind her, knowing that her foster parents hated it. Good, she hated them.
“Where ya going, Kristina?” Liz called from the porch.
“It’s a school night, young lady. You be home by ten.”
Kris lifted her head in acknowledgement, but then hopped in her friend’s Honda Accord. Yeah, like that was gonna happen. Tonight was the night of her first frat party. Not many sixteen-year-old girls could claim that privilege. She’d posted it all over Facebook, so her friends would be expecting some juicy pics. Her current guardians would be lucky if she came home by three.
She exhaled a long breath as she collapsed in the passenger seat of her best friend’s car. “OMG! Freedom!”
Beth shifted the vehicle in drive and drove away from the lopsided parallel parking job she’d done in front of her apartment building. She pulled her eyes off the road for a second. “Wow. I like the outfit,” her friend said, lifting a few strings of Kris’ vintage shredded jean skirt as her eyes moved up to her peek-a-boo tank. “Where d’ya get the cash?”
Kris propped her feet up on the dash, displaying her new faux fur boots too.
“Dang…girl. Did you rob a bank?”
She smiled. “Not exactly.”
Her girlfriend arched an eyebrow. “You didn’t!”
“I did.”
“How much did you get?”
“Two thousand dollars on eBay. Enough to take off if I want.”
Her friend shook her head, huffing out a breath. “Yeah, right! Where would ya go?
Kris shrugged. “Anywhere? Some place warm. I hate Somerville. We get a few weeks of sweltering heat in the summer, and then the rest of the year is just cold and wet.”
“I don’t know, Kris. I don’t know if I could have sold my mother’s jewelry. Didn’t you say one of the pieces belonged to your grandmother?”
“Yeah. But if my mother hadn’t been wearing that stupid ring, that dirtbag probably wouldn’t have jumped us when I was eight. I’m better off without it.” Kris reached for the stereo and cranked up the alternative rock station. “Anyway, shut up! I wanna rock tonight.”
Within minutes, Beth pulled up in front of the red brick manor with gray trim and made a phone call. “We’re here…” Her voice took on her silky, sweet voice she reserved for her boyfriend. She clicked end and turned to Kris. “Jason said he’d meet us here and park the car.”
Kris faked a swoon against the passenger door. “You’re so lucky. Jason’s soooo sweet.”
“Well, from what he tells me, his suitemate can’t wait to meet you, so I’m sure he’ll be just as great.”
“Squee! So cool! I’m so excited.”
“Chill, girl. We’re supposed to be smooth and calm. Know what we’re doing, you know? Act like college girls.”
Jason ran across the grass and pulled Beth’s door open. “Go on up to the front door, and I’ll be right back.” He pecked Beth on the lips and then jumped inside the Honda and peeled off.
Beth and Kris sauntered up the front stoop, staring up at the four-story dorm, which looked like a mansion. Most of the students who walked by didn’t give them a second glance, but Kris caught the glower from a few girls. She’d always stood out among the dark-haired girls in Boston with her long blond hair, especially since she’d added streaks of eggplant and fuchsia.
Jason took the front steps two at a time and then swung Beth around in his arms. He turned to look at Kris, as though studying her from head to toe; well, maybe he didn’t get past the hem of her skirt. “Looking hot, ladies. Come on, Greg’s anxious to meet you.” He held the door open and they followed. The inside of the old brick manor was spacious with red leather sofas and even a grand piano. He smiled as their mouths dropped open. “You think this is nice, wait’ll you see our suite.”
When he opened the room to their apartment, Kris understood what he’d meant. One side of the room had a full bar built into the wall, and the other side had a terrace overlooking the courtyard. The sun had set within the last half hour, and the sky was ominous looking with its oranges and deep blues, making her wonder whether Boston would get a final snow before springtime. God she hoped not.
A tanned hottie with dark blond hair combed to one side, wearing skinny jeans and a black t-shirt, stepped into the room. She crossed her fingers behind her back, hoping the guy was Jason’s roommate Greg.
He fist-bumped Jason and walked right up to her. “You must be Kristina,” he said in an accent that didn’t fit New England, as didn’t his hair and clothes. Yummy, she thought. He was exactly her type—different. He lifted her hand to his lips and she felt lightheaded.
“Call me Kris,” she said. “Only my guardians call me by my full name.”
One side of his lip quirked up. “I wouldn’t mind being your guardian. I’ll keep an eye on you all night.” He dropped her hand and strolled behind the bar. “So, what would you ladies like to drink?” Greg looked at Jason. “You already checked their IDs? They’re twenty-one, right?”
“Of course,” Jason said, kissing Beth. “Give them our house specialty.”
Greg reached behind him without taking his eyes off her and pulled down two bottles. One with green liquid, the other clear. He flipped the bottles once and poured equal amounts into a short glass, twirled again, and poured another few shots into a second glass. “Two house specials.”
Jason grabbed one and handed it to Beth and then walked over to a stereo and cranked up some tunes, pulling Beth to the middle of the room. As soon as the music started, college students funneled into the apartment.
Kris’ blind date—she’d have to thank Beth later for setting her up with him—stepped around the bar and handed her the green concoction.
She touched a tiny bit to her lips, tasting the drink. It was strong, but good. “Melon?”
“Yep…and a few secret ingredients. If I told you, I’d have to kill you though.” He wiggled his eyebrows at her. “Careful, they taste so good they can sneak up on you. I wouldn’t want you getting drunk and falling asleep before the party’s over.” He lifted her hand and directed her out the French doors to the terrace. “So tell me about yourself, Kris. Where do you go to school?”
She opened her mouth, but then snapped it shut as she’d almost said the name of her high school. Jason knew she was a junior. Had he really not told his roommate, she wondered. “Hmm…there’s not much to tell. I live in Somerville.”
He cringed.
“Yeah, I know, but I’m leaving soon.”
He stuck out his bottom lip. “Really? Where? We just met.”
“I don’t know. Someplace warm.”
He laughed. “Yeah. Me too. Back to Cali as soon as I graduate.”
She licked her lips and smiled. “I like the sound of that.”
“Well, Kris, maybe we should get to know each other better before you move away then.”
Kris’ entire body tingled at the fact that this hotter than hot college boy was interested in her. Heck, she may even get to L.A. faster than she thought. His parents probably owned a beach house in Venice.
Greg touched his fingers to the bottom of her glass. “Drink up, babe. There’s a lot more where that came from, and we have a lot of partying to do.”
She tilted back the glass, savoring every drop. He left her on the terrace to greet more students filtering into the suite, all carrying dishes of food in one hand and a bottle of some kind of liquor in the other.
Kris wandered around the apartment, meeting new people, but kept her mouth shut and mostly just let them talk about professors and what they were gonna do for spring break. Every time she turned around, Greg was close by, offering her a sweet smile. She’d been so lucky that he’d chosen her as his date with all these older college girls around.
When she walked back into the main living area, all the couches, chairs, and tables were back against the walls of the apartment, leaving space in the middle for swaying bodies. An eighties’ dance song belted out of the Bose speakers, and Beth squealed in response, pulling Kris into the middle of the room. Within seconds, Greg handed Kris another drink and moved up behind her, pressing her closer to her friend. She tipped the glass back and drained it. He handed her his glass and she pounded it too.
The warmth that surged through her body felt de-lish. She’d needed a release from the strains of her life. A day didn’t go by that thoughts about the night she’d lost her mother didn’t plague her, and every evening, nightmares inundated her sleep as she attempted to rewrite the events of her past. She had no parents, no siblings. And every six months, or less sometimes, she ended up with new foster parents when her current guardians were finally able to adopt a baby or have their own child. No one wanted a troublesome teenager. Beth was the only person on the planet who even cared about her worthless existence.
Greg slid his hands around her waist and pulled her closer. The room blurred for a second, and she stumbled backward into his arms, feeling as though she might fall.
He steadied her. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Just hot, I guess.”
He lifted her hand and pulled her toward the door. “Let’s go get some fresh air.”
Kris followed behind him gratefully. “That sounds good.” Beads of sweat dropped between her shoulder blades even though she could feel the air was cool.
Greg led her down a staircase and outside to the courtyard behind the building. He crossed the common area, walking until they were in the shadow of two buildings. He dropped down into an Adirondack chair and pulled her onto his lap.
Kris’ heart immediately thumped out a nervous rhythm. She’d only known him a couple of hours; she wasn’t ready for this.
He slid one hand up her shirt and the other between her legs.
She jumped off his lap and staggered backward; he hadn’t even kissed her and was already trying to feel her up. “What are you doing? We just met.”  A wave of heat flashed through her body, and the world seemed to twist and bend around her as she tried to steady herself. Her mind was clear, but the ground felt as though it was moving beneath her as if she were rocking in a boat.
Greg’s face distorted, and she wasn’t certain if she was imagining the devilish sneer or if she was hallucinating. He stood up. “I thought this is what you wanted. To get to know each other.” He approached her and pushed her back against the brick wall. The grainy material pierced through her thin t-shirt, scraping her back.
She clawed at his hands and arms. “I mean it! Stop it!”
He smashed his hand over her mouth and slammed her harder against the wall. She tried to scream, she tried to push him off, but his body against hers was too strong. It felt as if her arms were floating and her legs could no longer hold her weight.
The loser must have put something in her drink. He tugged up her skirt as she struggled to free herself, but he pulled her body back away from the wall and then bashed her head back into it. White stars filled her vision as the world began to close around her. She couldn’t pass out; she had to fight.
Greg’s body soared backward, hitting the wall of the building opposite her. She blinked in an attempt to clear her head, trying to register what she’d just seen. Then her body felt weightless as cool air rushed over her skin. Strong arms cradled her body, but they weren’t hurting her; someone was carrying her.
She barely had the strength to keep her eyes open. “Who…are…you?”
“You stupid girl.” A familiar deep voice filled her ears, resonating through her body as he held her against his chest.
Hearing his voice sent a thrill through her soul. Every time she’d tried to convince herself that she’d made him up as a child, her heart argued that he existed. She tried to focus on his face, but she couldn’t open her eyes enough to make out his features. She needed to see his eyes, those deep and mysterious eyes that filled her good dreams when she had them. The ones where he whisked her away, as opposed to the nightmares when the thief returned to kill her.
He set her down inside what must be Beth’s car.
“It’s you, isn’t it?” she struggled to speak through the haze that threatened to steal her into unconsciousness.
 “Yes, it’s me.” He brushed her hair from her face, and her world went black.
And now, a first peek at the actual book.
Chapter One
Kris staggered down the stairwell of the apartment building, cursing aloud for what her life had become. Just twenty-two and she’d poisoned her body so many times she hardly even recognized herself.
A stale stench of sweat and liquor assaulted her senses, causing her stomach to lurch, compelling her to escape the dilapidated structure. The rusty railing swayed beneath her grip, giving her minimal support as she descended the stairs. As soon as she stepped onto the street, she inhaled a deep breath, trying to rid herself of the rancid smell. The smell persisted, which meant it was on her. Sadly, she wasn’t sure if the odor belonged to the stranger whom she’d spent the last few hours dodging sexual advances or if she smelled like the walking dead. How had she let herself become such trash?
 “Why did you save me?” she screamed into the black void, similar to her life. She hadn’t asked him to save her when she was eight years old.
As always, no one answered her ridiculous peal, which was probably just as well. Attracting attention in this part of town wasn’t smart. She clicked the key fob for her Grand Am as she scanned the street. She barely even remembered driving here after she left the nightclub. The problem with drinking too much, which she did far too often these days, was that as her inhibitions fell, so did her standards. The man from the bar had been cute, but he’d obviously wanted something other than money in exchange for a hit. What else should she expect when she followed a man home whose name she couldn’t even remember.
She hadn’t planned to go home with a stranger. But when he’d suggested they could get high together, it had sounded like fun, a chance to escape her nightmares and her empty apartment. A chance to do anything but feel the pain she endured by her guilt every time she closed her eyes.
Kris strained to hear the chirp from her vehicle as she weaved along the sidewalk. Her heels lodged into the cracks in the concrete, causing her to trip several times. Somerville was such a dump. She should have used the money from selling her mother’s jewelry six years ago on eBay and moved to California. Instead, she’d stayed in this frigid, run-down suburb of Boston. But she knew why she hadn’t. She was afraid if she left, she’d never see her protector again. A day didn’t go by that she didn’t get an eerie feeling that someone was watching her.
Out of nowhere, a chill would travel the length of her spine she’d swear was her Dark Angel’s breath on her neck. But every time she turned around, no one was there. So instead of escaping, she’d used the money to buy a P.O.S. car and drugs and started on her debauched journey. She knew she was better than the life she’d been living, but every night she found the answers no one offered her at the bottom of a bottle.
Sometimes she wished her Dark Angel hadn’t saved her. If he didn’t care, why had he bothered?
Not once, but twice.
She was beginning to think she’d conjured up his image to erase the guilt of her mother’s death. Her Dark Angel, as she called him since she had no name for the handsome stranger, had accosted a degenerate who’d attacked her mother and her when she was eight, allowing her to escape. Unfortunately, her mother had still died.
When she was sixteen, he’d rescued her a second time. She’d been so excited to go to her first college frat party, but her date had laced her drink with some type of date-rape drug. Seconds after he’d helped her outside to get fresh air, he’d ripped at her clothes. When she’d refused, smacking his hand away, the college sophomore had turned aggressive. He’d smashed her head against a brick wall of the dorm, slamming his hand over her mouth. He would have raped her, and she wouldn’t have been able to stop him. The drugs he’d given her made it impossible to stand, let alone thwart off his attack.
But again, out of nowhere, she’d felt the warm embrace of her Dark Angel’s arms after he tore the loser off her, the same way he’d wrenched the thief away from her mother. His mysteriously ebony-colored eyes had gazed into hers as he’d whisked her away. His deep, melodic voice had whispered that she’d be okay. The same aspects she’d distinctly remembered about him when she was eight, but then he’d disappeared again after depositing her inside her vehicle, ordering her to lock the doors until her best friend came out to the car.
She’d never told anyone about him. Not even her best friend. Beth would have said, “Dark, mysterious stranger who watches over you… yeah, right!” It did sound preposterous and melodramatically romantic, so it couldn’t possibly be true. But no matter how many times her brain tried to convince her he didn’t exist, her heart refused to listen. He’d protected her for a reason, she was certain. Though sometimes, Kris wished her Dark Angel had allowed the thief in the alley to kill her too, saving her from a life of loneliness.
The sun hadn’t come up yet, but the hue of the horizon was fading from a deep navy to a lighter shade of violet. Another beautiful spring day she’d spend sleeping off a massive hangover she felt making its way to the surface. Another day she wouldn’t make it to work, and this time they’d fire her. Her boss had made that crystal clear last time.
Another sharp odor hit her senses, knocking her backward a few steps, stumbling again. The pungent scent of rotting vegetables instantly transported her to the night of her mother’s death. For years, she’d been unable to keep fruit for more than a day in her apartment because the scent brought back the pa­inful memories. But this time, it felt as if she were actually there again, as if the scent had literally transported her to that horrible moment when she lost everything.
Kris took a moment to survey the alley where the reek emanated. Her eyes raked over the faded red brick, a flickering sign at the end, and a dumpster overflowing with garbage from the mom-and-pop grocery store, the source of the insulting pong. Sucking in a breath, she almost retched as the memory hit her fully.
Oh, God! She was in the same alley where her mother had been murdered.
Shaking her head to dislodge the painful recollection, Kris tottered in her high heels. The rough texture of the wall dug into her skin, reinforcing the memory. The image of the thief’s face flashed in her head. Even before he’d plunged the knife into her mother’s chest, she’d detected the murderous gleam in his eyes.
Nothing would obliterate the memory of him shoving them against that decaying building, the glint of the knife as he’d wielded it erratically. The blood—so much blood. Her mother’s blood.
Kris whipped her gaze to the rooftops, knowing her Dark Angel was watching her, knowing he was always close by. “You were there,” she cried. “I don’t know who or what you are, but I want to know why you didn’t save my mother?” She gasped out a breath, attempting to contain her cries. “And why you left me alone!”
No matter what she wanted to believe, the memory was real. She hadn’t imagined him coming off the building, landing in front of her with a soft thump, the sliver of light from the street revealing he was much larger than the guy who’d attacked them. Nor had she dreamt up the anguished scream that had escaped his throat as he tore the thug off her mother, the crack of the degenerate’s skull as he slammed him into the concrete.
As they’d tried to get away, her mother collapsed in her arms. She’d pleaded for the angel to help her. But he’d just stared from where he squatted by the thug, his dark eyes focusing on her as though he recognized her, and said, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing I can do to save her.” She’d blinked the tears out of her eyes, and he was gone. Kris had buckled in the dark alley, crying over her only parent’s lifeless body until the police arrived.
She’d hated him for protecting her but not her mother. Since her mother had never told anyone her father’s name and no relatives had claimed her, she’d spent the next ten years of her life in a different foster home every six months or so. Every time she’d gotten into trouble or the couple was able to adopt a newborn, they had tossed her back to the state, and the state pitched her right into another unloving home.
Realizing her Dark Angel wouldn’t show unless her life was in danger, Kris yanked off her shoes and started running down the walkway. The icy pavement burned her feet, as if she were running on coals, and the uneven surface caused her to stub her toes. But she had to escape the rancid memory of her mother’s death, and she had to force him out of the shadows.
“Where are you?” she shouted, deciding that maybe she did want to attract the wrong kind of attention. Again, no one answered. Figures, she thought. No thieves or rapists around when you need one.
She pressed the button on her key fob frantically, spinning in the street, her arm raised high as she checked every direction, desperate to find her car. Finally hearing the chirp, she careened toward her vehicle. After fumbling with the door handle, she slumped in the seat, her head sinking against the steering wheel.
“Why did you save me?” she blubbered again. “So I could drink myself to death?” Of course, her choices weren’t his fault. She’d just hoped that he would feel compelled to rescue her from her stupid decisions, like going outside with that college guy. He’d been right to call her ‘stupid girl’ as he carried her away.
Kris examined her face in the rearview mirror, blanching at her reflection. Even with her creamy skin and golden blond hair, she looked old. Swirled and smeared lines of mascara streamed down her cheekbones, filling in the few creases on her face. She’d obviously been crying in her sleep again.
She vaguely remembered the nightmare that had woken her a mere hour after she’d crashed on the stranger’s couch. She’d been attempting to save her mother, trying to grab the knife. The thief had stuck her this time, and she was happy. Happy she’d taken the punishment for asking to go out for ice cream that fateful night. The reward she’d received for making the honor roll was that her mother had died.
Kris turned the key, and the engine whined in protest. Her car was obviously on its last leg too. When she reached the highway, she headed toward the Mystic River, specifically, the Tobin Bridge.
It was time.
She’d realized before that it was the only way, but now she was going to follow through with her decision. The jump itself wouldn’t do it. But from what she understood, it’d knock her out. Drowning was supposed to be a tranquil way to die, especially if you were unconscious. Hopefully that wouldn’t happen, but he’d left her no choice.
She lifted her phone from her purse and called the one person who’d care. A pang of guilt shot through her. They hadn’t spoken much since graduation five years ago, but Beth had asked her to be her maid of honor. Beth was now a teacher at their old high school and a soon-to-be-married woman. It was ‘Facebook Official’, as Kris would have said a few years ago. Nowadays she couldn’t care less about social media, though. The only notifications she still received were Beth’s updates. They no longer shared common interests, but she was the one person Kris had ever felt a connection with. Well, except for her Dark Angel. Even though she couldn’t see him, she always felt him. Somehow, their souls had connected when he’d saved her. She just needed to get him to reveal himself.
She’d done the rashest things in the last six years to force him into the open, but she’d never been desperate; she’d just been reckless. But no matter how many times she’d put herself in precarious situations, she’d never been attacked again. Maybe that was why she’d decided to kill herself slowly with drugs and alcohol, hoping he’d eventually save her from herself. Did he feel her pain now? she wondered. Would he stop her?
Kris waited as the rings ceased and the message clicked on. “You know what to do,” Beth’s chipper voice came through the phone followed by a beep.
“I love you, Beth,” Kris said calmly through fresh tears, attempting to suppress any audible cries. She didn’t want her friend to hurt in the event she was wrong. “I’m sorry. I really am. But know I’ll be happier wherever I am.” She clicked ‘end’ and tossed the phone on the seat.
Kris drove her car onto the curb and climbed out onto the upper deck of the Tobin Bridge, the highest bridge in Massachusetts.
“Are you going to let me do this?” she yelled into the darkness that engulfed her, wishing the sun would just come up already. “I’ve looked everywhere for you, and you refuse to show yourself.”
Bitter March winds whipped at her hair and body, turning her pale skin into a checkerboard of red and white. She scrubbed at her arms with her hands to warm them. How stupid. If he was a figment of her imagination, or chose not to save her this time, she’d be drowning in the frigid water of the Mystic River in minutes.
 “If you exist, you’ll save me. I know you will. But if you don’t, I don’t want to live anyway.”
As the sun’s rays peeked above the horizon, lighting the abyss below her, she inhaled a deep breath, closed her eyes, and jumped. The ice-cold air rising from the river below rushed by her as she plummeted. She didn’t scream; she didn’t look down. As much as she hated her life, she hoped it wouldn’t end this way. She’d really like to see him one more time.
Her life didn’t flash before her eyes as she’d always heard. Just an image of her mother covered in blood and her Dark Angel telling her he was sorry. Those were obviously the only images she’d ingrained into her subconscious as important.
As she hit the water, a second of crushing pain seized her body and then the world turned dark and cold, enveloping her into its chasm.
“Breathe, dammit!”
His deep voice penetrated her brain at the same time the sensation of a stabbing hot poker seared her shoulder. She gasped for air, but fire radiated through her chest as she attempted to inhale the cool air. She opened her eyes but couldn’t see the face above her, only a silhouette of a man. She recognized his voice, though. Her Dark Angel had come for her.
The morning sun glared into her eyes, blinding her as she tilted her head to see him. As she lifted her hand to shield her face, a bolt of pain surged through her arm. “Oww…” she groaned.
“You dislocated your shoulder and you may have a couple of cracked ribs, but you’ll live,” the deep voice she’d longed to hear for six years said.
“I’m supposed to be dead,” she wheezed.
He cupped the side of her face. “No, you’re not. You’re supposed to live, Kristina. For me. I just wanted a few more years, you stupid girl.”
Remembering how he’d called her ‘stupid girl’ when she was sixteen, she tried to pull in a breath to protest, but it hurt too much. So she used what limited oxygen she had left in her lungs. “Stop… calling… stupid.”
He spurted out a breath and stood, shaking his head. “I’ll be back in a minute. Try not to get into trouble.”
Kris sealed her eyes shut, attempting to block out the sun as well as the throb in her shoulder, but then she couldn’t help but smile. Maybe she was dead, because she could swear she’d just heard him say he’d be back.
Creatus is a new romantic-suspense novel with a supernatural edge that answers the myths and fairy tales you’ve heard about preternatural sentient beings.


Writing Sexual Tension


I found this article on writing sexual tension that I had to share. It was written by author Alice Gaines and posted on Savvy Authors. She does a great job of highlighting the necessity for chemistry and the “build up.” Whether writing sweet or erotic this is a must read! 🙂

I hope you found this helpful!

New Release: Split Decisions by Carmen DeSousa

Happy release day, Carmen! 🙂

Split decisions


Split Decisions: Sometimes you want something so badly you are willing to abandon everything you’ve ever known—including yourself.


Eighteen years ago, Jaynee Monroe married the man of her dreams, became the mother of four, and fulfilled her career goals. About to turn forty, she senses something is missing from her idyllic life. While Googling her name in an attempt to find herself, she unearths something so impossible, she contemplates her own sanity. Seeking answers, she embarks on a journey to discover the truth, only to end up abducted by a deranged stranger who insists on calling her Caycee.

Caycee took the road less traveled. Rejecting a marriage proposal from the only decent man she ever knew, she ventures to California to become famous. Eighteen years later, success has left her alone and miserable. Attempting to locate her lost love on Facebook, she discovers his infatuation with her. Not only does his presumed-dead wife have Caycee’s uncommon middle name, it appears he has photo-shopped her face over hers.

Never could Caycee and Jaynee have imagined decisions they made years earlier would threaten not only their lives but also their loved ones. Caycee must now reunite with the southern gent she dismissed eighteen years ago and convince him to accompany her to New York to locate his wife, the most important person in both their lives.

Excerpt of Split Decisions:

Jaynee awoke with a start, salty tears streaming down her cheeks, burning her already chapped lips. She attempted to swallow, but didn’t have enough saliva to moisten her mouth. It’d just been a nightmare. The nightmare she used to have nightly after her father committed suicide. Though, she hadn’t had it in years. Not since Jordan had taken her away from her previous life, providing a stable home, love, and strong arms to shield her from the demons that haunted her.

Unfortunately, Jordan wasn’t here, and her surroundings were all too real. Pinpricks of sunlight streaked through the corners of the shaded windows, illuminating the dust motes dancing in the air.

The room was still dark in most spots, but she could almost make out her surroundings. It looked like a cabin of some sort. The walls were a dingy off-white or possibly just stained from years of exposure, but the ceiling and trim were dark wood along with the slatted floors. A musty scent permeated the area, irritating her sinuses, but she couldn’t even scratch her nose.

Cuffs still secured her to the four bedposts. What kind of sicko would do such a thing? Her arms and legs ached from the position they’d been in all night, and she had to go to the bathroom something awful.

When she opened her mouth to speak, nothing but a croak escaped, leaving a trail of lava in her parched throat. “Hel-lo?” Though her voice had cracked, she attempted to sound friendly. Screaming or sobbing wouldn’t do any good. Not that she had the strength or vocal cords anyway.

She wasn’t in the city; only the country would be as dark as it’d been last night when her assailant brought her here. Even if she screamed her head off, no one would hear. “Please,” she tried again. “I really have to use the bathroom.”

The door opened finally, the hinges protesting in a lengthy screech, begging for oil. Her captor entered the room still wearing a black ski mask, gloved, and the same dark jeans and thick overcoat he’d had on the previous evening. He wasn’t too tall or heavy. If given the chance, she could probably take him. Jordan had taught her a few things. But as long as he had the gun trained on her, she’d have to be submissive.

His gauntleted hand unlocked just one of her wrists. Then placing the key in her hand, he stepped back. Obviously she was to unlock her other restraints. She didn’t waste any time. She unlatched her left hand, then both of her ankles. After rubbing them to increase circulation, she jumped out of the bed on the opposite side of her detainer. He motioned with the gun that she should move to the door on the far side of the room. She did as instructed, opening the door to a small bathroom with just a sink and toilet. No window. She quickly relieved herself. It felt incredible; she’d actually been in pain.

When finished, she opened the medicine cabinet and cubbyhole under the sink, finding nothing usable as a weapon. Both rooms were completely barren, stripped of everything. The abduction had not been a coincidence, but premeditated.

About Carmen DeSousa:

A romantic-suspense writer, Carmen DeSousa’s books overflow with romance, mystery, suspense, and of course, tragedy. After all, what would a great story be without a tragic event setting the stage? Her sensual and gripping mysteries have earned bestseller status on three continents because of her ability to make readers love, laugh, cry, gasp, and hope.


All of Carmen’s novels are standalones; however, she does link each of her stories with a little surprise. If you read out of order, you’ll never notice. But if you read in order, it’s fun.


Find her novels in print and eBook formats at your favorite retailer.


She Belongs to Me – December 2011

Land of the Noonday Sun – May 2012

Entangled Dreams – September 2012

When Noonday Ends – December 2012

Split Decisions – June 2013



How to reach Carmen:









The 25 Funniest Analogies (Collected by High School English Teachers)

Too funny not to share. I love analogies… They can add great flavor to creative writing, but sometimes they’re a total epic fail. 🙂

Writing English

UPDATE: Tens of thousands of readers have found this post and hundreds of you have commented. A few have said that these analogies were actually taken from other sources and were not written by high school kids at all. Now, we have a link that ends the debate. These analogies are the winning entries in a 1999 Washington Post humor contest, and there are more than 25. Please look at the comments sent August 3, 2008 by “Jiffer” to get to the complete list and the names of the authors.

ORIGINAL POST: I have to share these “funniest analogies” with you. They came in an e-mail from my sister. She got them from a cousin, who got them from a friend, who got them from… so they are circulating around. My apologies if you have already seen them.

The e-mail says they are taken from actual high school essays…

View original post 571 more words

Last Call ~ By Sarah Ballance **Author Interview and Giveaway**

In celebration of Sarah’s new release, she’s giving away 5 copies of Last Call! Just comment below to enter to win!

LAST CALL by Sarah Ballance – Romantic suspense for just 99 cents!

LastCall 500x750

In a perilous game of trust, a shocking betrayal deals a dangerous hand.

An accidental witness to a murder-for-hire, ex-cop Rhys Clark becomes the target of ruthless killer—one determined to silence her at any cost. Playing dead seems to be the most likely way to stay alive, but when her protection comes in the form of mega-sexy former adversary Nick Massey, Rhys can think of  a few fates worse than death.

Nick Massey may have walked away from his troubles, but he never got past wanting Rhys. Once paired undercover, they’d been nothing but fireworks until a botched assignment ended her career, sending his into a tailspin. Now a mysterious client threatens Nick’s life if he doesn’t keep Rhys safe, but it isn’t until fate takes a critical turn that he realizes the devastating truth: he’s been her greatest threat all along.

Last Call | Excerpt

Rhys Clark swore and jerked her foot from the murky puddle that had just claimed one of her new running shoes. Perfect. The day was now officially perfect.

She blamed Nick Massey.

Blaming him was easy enough. She didn’t know which required more nerve on his part—leaving town or crawling back—but both events left her bitter and raw. And wet, she grumbled inwardly. With the sky spitting rain and the occasional pellet of sleet smacking her face, she should have skipped her evening jog. The street was little more than a concrete alley of shuttered businesses, and the bleak weather amplified the emptiness. But tonight, with Nick hot on her mind, running through the cold was her last ditch effort to return to her senses.

It hadn’t worked.

Another blast of icy air howled through the narrow street. If she hadn’t been standing still, she probably wouldn’t have heard the shouting that followed.

A few months ago, an altercation wouldn’t have been unusual in this part of town. But the whole area was under reconstruction. Local crime dissipated to nothing with the razing of several apartment buildings, and until now Rhys had long found her route to be a place of solace. She glanced around as the voices drew closer and more intense. Rapid footsteps smacked the wet pavement. Then the echo of a gunshot cracked the night.

Where fear left her paralyzed, instinct insisted she get out of sight. She looked around and found an unbroken expanse of concrete wall offering few options. Heart pounding, Rhys ducked into the recessed doorway of a vacant storefront and hoped the deep shadows would keep her concealed.

Terrifying seconds passed. The sound of her own suppressed breath roared in her ears.

Voices came, clearer this time. Close.

“If we screw this up…” The words, terse and hushed, were encapsulated in panic.

“Shut up,” demanded a second voice. “No one messed up. He’s as good as dead.”

“You think you’re going to sell that without a body? We didn’t get paid to lose him.”

“He took one to the gut. He won’t get far. We’ll find him.”

“He’s leaving a trail. Blood. We got the big bucks for a clean—”

Shut up.”

A hit? Rhys shuddered, fear scaling her spine. A professional hit would have been silent—something not accomplished by the gunshot or the ensuing conversation—but in this game, experience wasn’t always a prerequisite for willingness to pull the trigger. Two years of undercover work had taught her as much.

So had a bullet.

Rhys froze, waiting for the voices to pass. But luck was not on her side. Rather than drawing away, the footsteps ceased.

“Well, well, well,” said the confident one. “Looks like our little game of hide and seek is over.”

Hope crumbled. The voice was far too close. Had they seen her?

She dared not move. Through her lashes, she saw nothing in her narrow view of the dimly lit street but dirty puddles and the occasional bit of trash plastered to wet pavement. She prayed they didn’t look her way should they walk past.

Grunts erupted nearby, followed by the sound of sneakers scuffling on concrete. Then two shots fired, and all sounds of struggle gave way to profane celebration.

In the same instant, a man fell to the sidewalk in front of Rhys. His eyes, sightless and familiar, bore into her.

She choked a gasp.

A man stepped into her line of sight, his weapon at the ready. Before she could stop herself, she locked eyes with him. Big mistake. The decision threw her into a cloud of emotional shrapnel, the past flying at her in shards. She’d been shot once before.

It hadn’t ended well.

The gunman opened his mouth and formed an ugly grin, his breath coming in visible puffs through yellowed teeth. “Looks like a double header tonight, T,” he said, never taking his gaze off Rhys.

“Whaddya mean?” came the reply. The voice . . . she blinked until the second man shifted into focus.

She knew him. From where? She couldn’t think.

She glanced to the dead man, and her vision wavered. Panic shifted her world into a screen of jarred pixels, the flashback jagged and severe.

Rhys! Stay with me, Rhys. Do you hear me? Rhys!”

Blood. So much blood.

“Nick.” She touched his face, feeling stubble beneath her fingertips. Then the weight of her arm was too much; as gravity won he slipped away. The world twisted into a sickening spiral until all that was left was his voice, the desperation in his tone bringing warmth to the darkness.


Motion jarred her to the present.

The gunman gestured. “Our witness here is about to have an unfortunate accident.” He raised the weapon, aiming for the kill.

It was a short view down the barrel at point blank range. She expected that.

What she didn’t anticipate was the speed with which he pulled the trigger.

Or how quickly the pain hit.


Thanks so much for hosting me today!

You’re so welcome, Sarah. 🙂

  1. Please, share a little bit about yourself.

I am a perpetually frazzled homeschooling mom of six kids ages 2-14. My husband and I have been married pretty much forever (almost 16 years … since I was 19 and he 23) and we live on the mid-Atlantic coast where we play in the water as much as possible—preferably on a boat. He works a “real job” to escape the insanity that is our home (okay, mostly for the paycheck), but very nicely takes over the chaos each evening so I can write, which is a strange turn in itself. I never wanted to be an author, but ended up one anyway after writing my first book in six months and seeing it published in June 2010. The rest has been one crazy ride.

  1. Tell us 3 things that top your bucket list.

I traveled extensively as a kid but we haven’t taken many family trips, so most of my list involves travel. We’re surprising the kids with a 9-day road trip this fall so they can literally see the country, which is something I experienced over 20 years ago and have yet to forget. The family trip we’re taking tops my list, and also in my top three is an amazing vacation (anywhere will do) with just me and the hubby. Rounding out my list is to build our new house, which should happen within the next year. I can’t even imagine the joy of going from one bathroom (yes, really) to six. (Yes. Really!)

  1. If we  could see your book shelves or your tbr pile, what would it tell us about you?

That I LOVE romantic suspense. My book shelf is surprisingly sparse. I have a handful of old favorites and a small collection of autographed books, but those are all tucked away in safe places. What you would see is a staggering number of Harlequin Intrigues (category romantic suspense). Back when I had time to read, those were my favorite bed time stories. I’d finish one every night!

  1. What genre (s) do you write?

Most commonly romantic suspense. I have one paranormal (ghost story) out and one coming this fall, and perhaps my biggest switch is also expected this fall when my historical romance is due to release. I never thought I could write historical, but I am absolutely loving it!

  1. Do you prefer to write in the morning, afternoon or night?

My schedule varies, but right now the best time is night. My husband takes over after dinner so I don’t have to worry about anything but writing, and it’s working well for me. But at one time I worked best in the morning, LOL, so it really depends.

  1. In 5 words please describe your book.

Temptation, Betrayal, Twists, Second Chances

  1. Describe  your hero through your heroine’s eyes…and yes, you can quote her.

He’s stubborn, deeply loyal, and sometimes a little too principled for her taste. He’s so worried about what he’s done wrong to her in the past he won’t see the future for what it could be, and that drives her nuts. (She must not be a fan of tortured heroes, lol.)

  1. What’s  the best part of the writing process for you?

The accomplishment. Between the husband and the six kids and the homeschooling, the dishes are never finished. The laundry is always in a pile somewhere. There’s always school work that needs to be done. My stories, I finish and I send them off and I’ve FINISHED SOMETHING. Something that won’t immediately be undone. Yay! (A close second to this answer is seeing a cover, as it’s the visual representation of said accomplishment, LOL.)

  1. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A little of both. I guess you could call me a very flexible plotter. I really like to know where the story is headed—and my writing is much better when I do—but I love it when characters take over and move the story in a new direction. That’s a great feeling and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  1. What surprised you the most about becoming a published author?

It’s so much more than just writing the book. I never expected such an amazing community of people or that so much is left to do after the writing ends. Juggling promo for one book and the deadline for another has been a unique challenge in itself, lol!

  1. Would you like to share a hint as to what your current WIP is?

I’m working on a historical romance set during colonial America. I never, ever saw this one coming. It was an absolute whim I voiced to my editor, who mentioned it to another editor. Within about two days I was putting my current project on hold (with my editor’s blessing) to make this historical happen on a tight deadline, and now I’m over halfway finished with the story and it still hasn’t sunk in. I’m really excited to show it off this fall!

LAST CALL is available from: For the Muse PublishingAmazonBarnes & Noble, and Smashwords (formats: .mobi, .epub, HTML, PDF, RTF, LRF, PalmDoc, and Plain Text). Click here to add to Goodreads or here for reviews.

Sarah Ballance

About Sarah Ballance

Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or seeking that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.

She loves creating unforgettable stories while putting her characters through an unkind amount of torture—a hobby that has nothing to do with living with six children. (Really.) Though she adores nail-biting mystery and edge-of-your-seat thrillers, Sarah writes in many genres including contemporary and ghostly paranormal romance. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found on her website.


New Adult: A shooting star or here to stay?

There has been a lot of hype about New Adult, its place in the literary world, and the potential to over-shadow different genre’s. I’ve also discovered that New Adult can mean different things to different people. In my quest for clarity, I’ve found an article I’d like to share. I think it does a great job of defining this new genre. Thank you, Jami Gold, for a well written article.

new adult

Bridge Over the Atlantic *giveaway*

Happy release day, Lisa. Bridge Over the Atlantic is a contemporary romance about true love and accepting who you are. Join me for a fabulous author interview and comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lisa’s debut novel, Bridge Over the Atlantic!


Bridge Over the Atlantic

Mallory Westerman is a full-figured, successful, young business woman living in Yorkshire, England. Though very career minded, she is extremely self-conscious about her ample curves and so her love life tends to pay the price. Concentrating solely on her business, she has almost given up on finding someone to love.  That is until she literally trips into the arms of a stranger who becomes her Knight in shining armour.

The immediate sexual and romantic spark that blossoms into love and the events that follow, irrevocably change Mallory’s life-path and self-image forever, but only goes to prove that the road to true love is never smooth and that things don’t always turn out how you expect…

EXCERPT of Bridge Over the Atlantic:

January 2011

“You can NOT be serious?!” Mallory Westerman recoiled. It wasn’t a habit of hers, to inadvertently quote 1980’s sports stars. But even she was surprised when she heard John McEnroe’s words fall from her lips.

Thankfully, her fiancé, whilst obviously bemused at her reaction and frustrated by her lack of enthusiasm, didn’t really notice the similarities between her and the wiry haired tennis supremo. He was much too busy stroking the print-out in front of him, on the table, as if ironing out the creases would make his suggestion a more viable proposition.

“Honey, imagine the life we could have there right now,” he pleaded. “The open spaces, the fresh air…”

“The midge bites, the lack of internet connection, no other civilization for miles.” She rudely interrupted. She immediately felt guilty when Sam’s eyes took on the appearance of a scolded puppy dog. She slid her arms around his neck caressing the sides of his beautiful face. “I’m sorry, sweetheart. I just don’t see me…either of us, really, taking to a permanent life out in the middle of goodness knows where at this point in our lives, surrounded by sheep and wearing wellies and tweeds!”

“Now you are being terribly stereotypical and insulting to all things countryside, Mallory,” Sam chastised in his Canadian drawl. “And besides, I think you’d look very fetching in wellies….just wellies that is, nothing else.” He grabbed her playfully and squeezed her. His green eyes flashed with a mischievousness Mallory had come to adore. She giggled and gazed up at him, lovingly recalling the first time she had found herself utterly mesmerized by him.


December 2009

Mallory had lived in Yorkshire all the twenty-eight years of her life. Since dropping out of her PR course at Uni, through sheer laziness, she had endured a run of soulless jobs. Nothing ever really pushed her buttons. That was until an inheritance from her dear Aunt Sylvia had given her the opportunity to do the one thing she truly wanted to do.

Her little gift emporium, Le Petit Cadeau.

It had been the brain child of her Aunt many years before, when Mallory had taken to making her own Christmas gifts one year when, as was the case on more than one dreadful occasion, unemployment occurred on the brink of the festive season.

She had sobbed and sobbed when the solicitor informed her that her Aunt had left her the large sum of money under strict conditions that she was to, ‘get off her backside and do something fulfilling for once!.’ She remembered almost laughing aloud at the point when the solicitor had uttered the quote directly as her Aunt had written it. Even in death, feisty Sylvia knew how to draw a chuckle from her beloved niece.

It was a fairly quiet early December Wednesday in Leeds, well perhaps quiet was not the right way to put it. The city center was the usual bustling metropolis, but the Victoria Quarter was, ostensibly, being given a somewhat brief reprieve from the usual barrage of festive shoppers. Mallory huffed as she watched a swooning couple canoodling whilst browsing in the window of the lingerie boutique opposite.

“Sod this for a game of soldiers. I think I need a break,” she informed one of the cute, jointed, stiff teddy bears sitting, looking pensive on the shelf next to where she perched. “I reckon there is a tall, caramel macchiato with my name on it somewhere!”

Grabbing her oversized bag she chalked Back in 20 mins on her very own, handmade door sign. Once she had dropped the latch she headed out into the sea of suited business people and Christmas shoppers. She smirked at the vast number of pre-school children who were sporting cheap red Santa hats lovingly procured for them, she guessed, by harassed parents as bribery for good behavior.

The paved precinct area was buzzing. Mallory loved Leeds City Centre with its designer boutiques and quirky shops. At this time of year, however, there was something transcendent about the atmosphere. Maybe it was the twinkling lights strung from building to building or the way that each and every shop was decked in sparkling silvers and gregarious gold. The myriad Christmas songs, being played in numerous outlets all out of synch with one another, were an assault on the senses. The stalls all laid out, down the center of the precinct, were vying for the attention of passers-by with their brightly colored gifts and trinkets. A delicious aroma of roast chestnuts wafted through the chilled air and into Mallory’s nostrils making her tummy grumble.

She rounded the corner heading for her favorite coffee shop when suddenly she involuntarily lurched forward. Her stiletto heel had become lodged in between two paving slabs, sending her and her belongings, hurtling into the arms of a passing stranger.

“Whoaaaa there!” The startled man grabbed for Mallory, in a bid to stop her inevitable collision with the pavement. “We haven’t been formally introduced and yet here you are throwing yourself at me!” He laughed. His accent was noticeably of the North American variety.

 Author Interview:

Congratulations on your debut release, Lisa! Tell us, what is your favorite thing about being a writer?

I love the escapism; the way I can disappear into another world for a while.

What genre(s) do you write?

Only contemporary romance at present.

What genres and authors would we find you?

I love to read contemporary romance too but I also have started to enjoy paranormal romance.  My faves are Jan Romes, Bernadette Marie, Jamie McGuire, Melynda Price and Abbi Glines

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Honestly?  Letting it go when I had finished!  I wanted it to be out there but I loved writing it so much that I felt very emotional knowing it was done.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I kind of do both!  Sometimes I meticulously plot but then other times (like in my second novel) an idea springs to mind out of the blue and I just write it as it flows.

Why do you think people should choose your books over another author?

I want people to read mine along with others.  I don’t want to steel readers I want people to read my books because they have heard good things.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?

I want readers to fall in love with the characters as I did when I wrote them.  I want them to finish reading my book thinking “Wow!  I can’t wait to read her next novel!”

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Just that love is very real and very powerful.

How long have you been a writer?

I have been writing since I was a child but it has usually been poetry and song lyrics.  I started to write a novel as a teen but never finished it.

How much time did it take from writing your first book to having it published?

I started my book in early 2012, completed in October 2012, Signed to 5 Prince Publishing in November 2012 and my book is published in April 2013 so all together a year of my life has gone into the book.  Wow!

What other careers have you had?

I have been a singer…an office manager…a Science Learning Mentor in High School and now I’m a full time writer.

Do you write under more than one name? Why?

No, I decided to use my own name – no particular reason really.

Are any of your characters based on real people or events?

I see elements of myself and my husband in certain character traits but none are actually based on real people.  Scotland features because it’s very important to me and the move we made to live here plays a part.

How would you describe yourself if you were “speed dating” your readers?

I am quite scatterbrained and I am a HUGE worrier!  But I am passionate about my work and put my heart and soul into what I do.  I hope it’s evident when readers pick up my novels.

What’s something fans would find fascinating about you?

Back in 1996/1997 I appeared on television on a show called ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ where I impersonated Alanis Morissette.  Lol!

What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?

That I just want them to really enjoy the journey they take with my characters.

What books or authors have most influenced your life?

Gosh!  So many!  Just lately I have discovered some amazing talent.  But looking back, I do love Emily Bronte and J D Salinger. 

How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

They are so very proud and supportive.  They are my biggest fans and my biggest critics too which keeps me on my toes.  My friends have helped by beta reading and my husband has been my inspiration.

Where are you from?

Originally from Yorkshire, England but now living in Scotland (I’m an honorary Scot’s lass)

How do you come up with the titles?

They usually come from something quite prominent in the book.  Not always right away though.  The title usually comes later when things have whirled around in my head for a while.

Has your life changed significantly since becoming a published writer?

Absolutely!  I was aiming to run a little craft business when we relocated as I had NO CLUE that my writing would take over!  But I love that it has.  It’s the best feeling ever!

Do you work on one project at a time? Or do you multi-task?

I have done a little of both.  I started on my second novel whilst I was finishing my first.  Then I worked solely on my second to finish it but at the moment I have three projects on the go.  I am trying to concentrate on one so that it’s the best it can be but I can’t always do this as inspiration has a habit of appearing like a bolt out of the blue!

When not writing, how do you relax?

Reading!  I LOVE to read.  I bought a Kindle to treat myself when I moved to Scotland and I have lost count of how many wonderful books I have read.

Please tell us 5 miscellaneous facts about yourself.

I hate having my photo taken

I miss singing

I am a HUGE worrier

I have two crazy dogs

Scotland is my favorite place

Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.

Bridge Over the Atlantic is out in April and my second novel has been submitted for consideration…just waiting J  Novels three and four are works in progress and all are stand alone stories.

How can we find you?

Twitter @LivingScottishD

Available from 5 Prince Publishing

Genre: Fiction / Romance / Contemporary

Purchase link:

Thanks again for joining us, Lisa, and congratulations on your new release!

10-4 Tuesday with the fabulous Christine Warner! Stop by my author interview! 🙂

Christine Warner

Welcome to 10 – 4 Tuesday!  This is a forum where I’ll feature an author  who will answer 10 questions about their book and a few personal things and then 4 questions for fun 🙂  So let’s get started.

Today I’d like to introduce you to author Melynda Price!  She’ll be sharing her 10, followed by her 4 and then an excerpt of her book Shades of Darkness. 🙂

Hi Melynda, thanks for joining me again on my blog and participating on 10 – 4 Tuesday…and sharing your beautiful cover with us too. Love it, as well as the blurb and excerpt. Okay, I’m getting carried away with my cover-art love lol, let’s get this party started…

Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me, Christine. It’s always a pleasure to visit your blog.

First the 10:

To start out, tell us a bit about yourself.

Well… I live in…

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