Fabulous Friday Reads: Malediction

TGIF! Let’s kick off the weekend with Erzabet Bishop’s new Curse Worker novella Malediction, now available from Amazon. Take it away, Erzabet!

Now available from award-winning and international bestselling author Erzabet Bishop! The seven deadly sins have never been hotter. 99 cents for a limited time!

Curse Worker Series:

1. Sanguine Shadows (Fenris and Mari)

2. Map of Bones

3. Malediction

4. Arcane (coming soon in the Prowlers and Growlers box set!)

5. Wild Magic (Fenris and Mari) coming soon

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maledictionIt’s witchcraft…

Nestled in the shadowy thoroughfares of Salem, Bridget has created a new life for herself. Saved from the noose by the mysterious Mr. Black during the witch trials, she runs Broomstix, a thriving curse worker and hex shop. Dangerous cravings thrust her back in harm’s way as evil stalks the streets. Will the allure of the forbidden be her curse or her salvation?

Alistair is a wolf caught between desire and duty to his pack. His Alpha goes missing and evidence of arcane magic and murder come a little too close to home. A chance encounter at a Halloween party brings his beast to the forefront and one night of passion leaves him wanting much, much more.

A war is brewing in Salem between the wolves and witch kind. When more deaths are found linked to rogue wolves, the two join forces. But wild magic reigns on Samhain and the moon may just have a mind of her own…

Story Excerpt

Alistair spotted the gorgeous brunette across the room and, when she approached the refreshment table, he followed. For a millisecond he’d taken her for the scrawny woman in the red dress, but on closer inspection he was pleased to note the differences. Same dress, but the way this woman wore it, he was tempted to peel it from her, inch by scrumptious inch.

His pack mate had poured a few bottles of something into the punch and, while it was entertaining to watch some of the guests succumb to the antics of the season, he didn’t quite feel the same about the sexy female in front of him. This woman would be far more interesting sober, he had a hunch and his predictions usually turned out to be spot on. The markings on her arms intrigued him and he wondered if they covered more of her body. Like tendrils of smoke curling around her flesh, they spiraled around her skin in an unending pattern, giving him the urge to trace every single one and see where it led.

He should be home at Briarwood, but his duties as Beta brought him here to make sure Jessup didn’t get too out of hand. So far the pup had been a bit mischievous, but nothing that would make him worry. Whatever concerns he had melted when he gazed at the beauty in front of him, his animal taking control.

Serious gray eyes winked at him from behind an elegant lacy black mask and he had the urge to peek beneath it to see what she was hiding. Full lips bowed below the mask, and her mass of dark hair was wound into an up-do that he longed to plunge his fingers into while he explored her mouth with his.

Jesus, Alastair. Get a grip.

His wolf perked up when she’d come into view and his instinct to bed her followed in quick succession. He shook it off with a frown. One night stands were not his style, especially with women he didn’t know. He had other concerns and, as soon as he made sure Jessup wasn’t going to fuck up and intoxicate half of the wealthier citizens of Salem, he was out of here. Duncan was still missing and he’d left Laurel in charge in his stead.

But, her eyes. Fuck. They fairly glowed with a power that socked him in the gut as they watched him from behind the mask. When she wet her lips and took her bottom lip between her teeth, he almost lost the battle with himself not to let his beast take over and drag her into the nearest coat closet.

“Are you here with someone?” He cleared his throat, aware of the growl threading through his voice.

“No. Are you?”

“Just a couple of friends. What do you think? Want to end up in a compromising situation with a stranger?” He grinned and, seeing Jessup approach, steered her away from the refreshment table. Alistair wanted her to himself, at least for a little while.

“Seven deadly sins? How about a dance? With my footwork, that could lead towards all kinds of infractions.”

“Hmm.” He swung her into his arms and into the crowd, relishing the sensation of his hand on her lower back. The plunging view offered by her bodice made his body stand at attention and the wolf beneath his skin whined with want. “So, which deadly sin could you possibly have that would sink a guy faster than lust? That dress…”

“These shoes.”

“Oh, but those… those are not a sin. Not at all. In fact, I could look at them all night long.”

“You could, could you?” The woman laughed, deep and sensual. Her eyes snapped with amusement. “Then you try wearing them.”

“Maybe I will.” He wanted her, and the closer they got, the more obvious it was going to become. He weaved her around the dance floor, her movements matching his. Her perfume and the spicy scent of her hair were making it hard to concentrate. At the look in her eyes, he dragged her back hard against him, his animal wild in his blood.

“Do you want to get out of here?”

“Please.”

“Let’s get some air.” Alistair led her out onto the balcony, the twinkle lights flickered making the grounds outside the hotel look enchanted. He had to clear his head.

“Who are you?” Alistair brushed a strand of hair away from her face.

“I’m just a girl who needs an escape from reality. How about you?”

“Same here.”

“Just a girl, huh?” The mystery woman smiled.

He gathered her into his arms, letting her feel the full force of his arousal. “I don’t know. I’m not feeling much like a girl right now.”

“No. I didn’t think you were.” She leaned into his embrace, her lips curving up in an inviting smile.

“What’s your name?”

“Bridget. Yours?”

“Alistair.”

“Well, Alistair. It’s nice to meet you. I have one question.”

“What’s that?”

“How long is it going to take for you to kiss me?”

“Time me.” Alistair’s mouth covered hers hungrily and he forced her mouth open with his thrusting tongue. She gasped, trembling within his embrace and he pulled her deeper into the shadows, away from prying eyes.

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Where to Buy

Amazon US

About Erzabet Bishop

Erzabet Bishop is an award-winning and international bestselling author who loves to write naughty stories. She is the author of Lipstick, Crave, Snow (Three Times More Lucky Box Set), Malediction, Map of Bones, Sanguine Shadows,  Arcane (Prowlers and Growlers set),The Science of Lust, Wicked for You, Heart’s Protector, Burning for You, Taming the Beast, Mistletoe Kisses, Surrender, Torment (upcoming), Hedging Her Bets, Cat’s Got Her Tongue (Alpha Heat Box Set), Arcane Imaginarium: Spirit Board, Holidays in Hell, Mallory’s Mark (upcoming),The Devil’s Due (upcoming), Charity Benshaw’s Enchanted Paddle Emporium (upcoming), Club Beam, Pomegranate, A Red Dress for Christmas, The Black Magic Café, Sweet Seductions, The Erotic Pagans Series: Beltane Fires, Samhain Shadows and Yuletide Temptation along with being a contributor to many anthologies. She lives in Texas with her husband, furry children and can often be found lurking in local bookstores. She loves to bake, make naughty crochet projects and watch monster movies.

Twitter | Instagram | Bookbub | Google+ | Website | Facebook Reader Page | Facebook | Goodreads | Street Team | Amazon

 

Wednesday musings on writing

It occurred to me earlier today that I’ve been working professionally in the writing dodge (and by professionally I mean people have given me money in exchange for my words) for about twenty-two years, now. My writing career can legally drink, if not rent a car. Which is probably for the best, if you think about it.

So while I may bitch and moan about sales at times, in retrospect I’m actually pretty happy with where I’ve gotten to at this point. Between my SF and romance names (by the way, you all DO know that I write science fiction and urban fantasy as Melanie Fletcher, right?) I have seven full-length novels, three novellas, two novelettes, and twenty-six short stories to my credit. That’s not bad at all, especially since I’ll be bringing out at least another three novels this year as well as more novellas and short stories.

And not only have I been publishing, but I’ve been gifted with a fiercely devoted band of readers (you know who you are, and you are all in the will), plus I’ve been getting critical attention for my work. Night Owl Reviews just did an interview with me, and the lovely and talented Cynthia Sax will also have an interview on Degree of Resistance up on her website soon. So, yeah, I’ve actually done pretty well in my career so far (take that, Imposter Syndrome!).

Fabulous, I hear you say, but why are you babbling at us about this? Well, 1) because I can, and 2) it helps to work out what I’m going to do next. This year I’ve decided to concentrate on leveling up to the next professional step; namely, increasing my readership, shooting for a USA Today bestseller list slot, and maybe even winning an award or two (although I’m reminded of the fact that Sir Terry Pratchett, he of the insanely successful and brilliant Discworld series, never won anything until late in his career. People rarely take humor with the seriousness it deserves. But I digress). And the best way to do all that is to keep writing, keep publishing, and keep entertaining folks, which, yeah, just twist my arm already.

Did I mention that you’re all cruel but beautiful, and I love you oodles for reading my stuff? Because I do.

Wicked Wednesday Reads: Forfeit

Oh, look — it’s Wednesday, which means you need a little something extra to help you over Hump Day. Never fear, for today I’m here with Lydia Michaels and Allyson Young’s smouldering new ménage romance Forfeit (Degrees of Separation 1), now available from purveyors of fine erotic romance. Take it away, ladies!

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lost-1December and Austin have a traditional, storybook marriage complete with defined roles. Married young, they’ve shared nearly a decade of passion and love. December’s submissive nature is perfectly suited for her husband’s authoritative, yet adoring response and he seamlessly holds the indisputable role as head of the household.

But Austin harbors secrets, and the pressure of losing his job makes those festering skeletons impossible to ignore. Turning to alcohol instead of his wife, Austin finally drives December away and into the arms of their closest friend, Cord, despite her intense loyalty.

Cord has loved December since the day they met. His moral compass is challenged and lines are blurred when Austin steps aside and insists Cord take his place.

Forfeiting all, Austin must face a harsh truth. Take control of his life, or forever lose the woman he loves.

Story Excerpt

It was like he no longer saw her, just looked right through her, when she used to be all he could see in the whole world. No matter what she did, he stayed away—alone—wandering through the house at night and sleeping all day. She had pride too, and he’d been chipping away at it, scarring her with deep tattoos of doubt.

Something happened to a woman when her husband no longer touched her. First there were the superficial frustrations of unrequited desire, but then it became something worse. The insecurity, fear, and uncertainty ate away at her insides.

Her self-esteem fractured, perhaps beyond repair. Tiny little shards of self-worth were all she had left. Even if he came to her now, begging and full of apologies, she feared someone might get cut.

This rut seemed to get deeper and darker every day. She was losing sight of the light and worried she’d never see herself out. She needed to feel alive, feel something. She needed to reclaim control and pull herself back to her feet, which was why this job with Cord was imperative.

Where to Buy

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Authors

Lydia Michaels

Lydia Michaels is the award winning author of 30 romance novels. Her novels from the darkly compelling Surrender Trilogy were iBooks Bestsellers and her work has been featured in USA Today. In 2015 she was the winner of The Best of Bucks Award and she has been nominated as Best Author in the Happenings Magazine two years running [2015 & 2016]. She is a four time nominee for the prestigious RONE Award. Her books are intellectual, emotional, haunting, always centered around love.

Allyson Young

Allyson lives in cottage country, Manitoba, Canada with her husband of many years and numerous pets. She has written for many years and after reading an erotic romance, quite by mistake, decided to try her hand at penning one. A best selling Amazon author, she has now published three series and several stand alones in contemporary, sci fi, fantasy and suspense genres, as well as several novels under a different pen name. Allyson will write until whatever is inside is satisfied, until the heroes man up and the heroines get what they deserves. Love isn’t always sweet, and Allyson favours the darker side of romance.

Lydia’s Website | Allyson’s Website | Lydia’s Newsletter

Marvelous Monday Reads: A Mate For the Sheriff

Welcome to another edition of Marvelous Monday Reads, angels! Today I’m featuring April Zyon and her hot new shifter romance A Mate For the Sheriff (Shifters Match.com 4). Take it away, April!

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mate-for-sheriff-coverJessica Morris has a secret that could get her killed. Hiding in plain sight, pretending to be normal, is all she’s ever known. And even though she’s been lucky so far, she knows that she can’t hide in Shifter Falls forever. Getting involved with the town sheriff is the last thing she needs, but lately it’s all she can think about.

Novak Porter has watched Jessica since the first day she came into town. He suspects that, like everyone else in Shifter Falls, she’s got a skeleton or two in her closet. She’s nervous around him, and for years he’s forced himself to give her time. But when a chance encounter throws them together for more than five minutes, Novak decides he’s tired of waiting. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep her around. Convincing her to work for him is easy, but getting her to believe in happily ever after might be a little more difficult.

Story Excerpt

Jessica turned to the voice in the darkness. The sexiest voice on the face of the planet. “Sheriff,” she said, her pulse increasing when she turned to look at him.

He looked as if he had been built of stone, and again she wondered just exactly what sort of shifter he was. No one seemed to know, or be willing to share, which was very strange in a town like Shifter Falls. Then again, she didn’t let anyone know what she was, either, so it could just be a privacy thing.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but suddenly all the electronics inside the car went completely dead. The lights, dash, everything. I’m afraid it’s the alternator, since it has a brand-new battery.” She might be a lot of things, but she wasn’t completely stupid. “And I think that Jagger’s cub swiped my cell phone, again, so do you think you could maybe call a tow for me?” She shook her head. “That little guy gets me every single time. I swear he’s taken more cell phones off of me than I can count. Phi is never able to find them, so there’s no telling what he does with them.” She was snickering as she said that. She didn’t know why she was talking so much, but she was.

The sheriff was watching her intently and didn’t seem all that bothered by her random rambling. He merely pulled out his cell and put in a call for a truck. “Mick will come get your car. He said to leave the keys on the passenger front tire since he might be a while. They had to pull a couple cars from a slough after some young twits decided that drag racing with their parents’ cars was a good plan. Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.”

She whistled. “Oh boy. I bet there are going to be some kids in serious trouble about right now. Thanks for the offer of the ride.” She grabbed her purse, locked the car, and put the keys on the front passenger tire as she had been instructed. “You’ll probably be going out of your way a bit. I live at twenty-nine Forest Acre Road.” It was a dirt road surrounded by forest and she loved it. Nature called to her, and at least there she didn’t have to worry about nulling any abilities as she typically did when she was near other witches.

“No worries at all. It keeps me out of the station until the parents have finally wound down to a dull roar and the kids have had a few minutes for everything to sink in. Anyhow, I think that an hour’s worth of stewing before I arrive to come up with some interesting charges might help the situation. By then I’ll know if the lawyers have actually been called in or not and can figure out how to play this to keep the kids from doing something worse down the line.” The sheriff held her door for her, then shut it when she settled into her seat. A minute later he was setting out reflective markers behind her car before sliding in behind the wheel to take her toward town and home.

“You are a good man. Too bad you can’t keep a secretary to save your gorgeous ass.” She felt her face turn red from heat when she realized she’d blurted that out. “Crap, ignore me. I don’t know what I’m saying.” She cringed, but then shrugged. Since it was too late to take her candid observation back, she pressed on. “Well, from what I understand, you have gone through thirteen of them inside of three months. That’s outstanding right there.”

He leveled a look on her she couldn’t read. She was only thankful he seemed to ignore her initial comment and it allowed her cheeks to cool. “I have a specific way I expect things to be done. And, I admit, my temper can get the best of me. Everything we do can be called into question inside a courtroom. If even one I isn’t dotted right, or a T was missed being crossed, that is potentially a dangerous offender being allowed out on the street due to clerical error. Unacceptable in my book so, yes, I have some impossibly high standards I expect to be carried out by every man and woman in the department.”

“No, not impossibly high standards. They are perfectly reasonable. The way that everyone made it sound you were seriously a neat freak nut job, but what you’re saying doesn’t sound like that at all.” She understood the importance of perfect record keeping, of ensuring that everything was where it should be at all times. “When the council took me on as their secretary, I had to redo a hell of a lot of stuff because the person before me couldn’t seem to understand that paperwork is filed by number then letter. Idiots.” She smirked and looked over at him. “I guess I have high standards as well. Then again since I’m a witch without abilities, I have to be able to contribute somehow, right? Especially with my mother’s coven proclaiming me to be nothing but a human.” That’s what all of Shifter Falls thought of her, and she was happy to keep it that way. When she’d first started out on her own, she’d wondered if it wouldn’t have been smarter, and safer, to try to hide even the fact that she’d been born into a witch family. Ultimately she’d decided that it was better to stick as close to the truth as possible. So she never tried to hide the fact that she had been born to witch parents. It was unlikely that she would ever run into anyone from her old coven, but on the off chance that she did, she didn’t want to arouse suspicion by being caught in a lie. Besides, being known as a witch without powers—therefore, more or less, human—kept her just as safe as if she’d tried to pass herself off as a normal human.

“I’m glad you understand. Few do,” he muttered. “I think the council foisted their rejects my way for some form of payback. They all loved the idea when the mayor had me run for office and I won by a landslide, but the minute I arrested the first council member and wouldn’t take a bribe, they started to wonder. Told them the same thing I told the mayor when he hired me—I was going to run things my way, and if they found someone that could run against me and get elected that would be the only way they’d get me out of that seat. They haven’t had any luck yet.”

Jess knew it was because the sheriff was respected by every citizen in the Falls as well as the other two cities that made up their exceptionally small county. While not everyone agreed with his methods and strict by-the-book ways, they liked how he’d cleaned up and kept the area protected from a drug problem several years back when he’d first taken the position.

“You cleaned up the area. No one would run against you. You’re too good at your job, so it is what it is.” She shrugged. “You are strict and you can be an ass from what I’ve been told, but then again there are a lot of falsehoods that fly through Shifter Falls, aren’t there?” she asked with a smile.

“True enough. The trick is determining what’s truth and what’s lie in everything that goes around town. It’s amazing what one can discover the moment they find that tiny thread and give it a tug. After all, there’s not a soul in this town that is exactly who they appear to be on the surface once you dig down a little further.”

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Where to Buy

Evernight Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble
Bookstrand | SmashwordsiTunes

About April Zyon

Having been a lover of the written word all her life April has always wanted to expand her horizons and write something that could be shared with the world. Only one thing held April back, the fact that the letters and numbers mixed and jumbled more often than not. Diagnosed with Dyslexia when she was eight years old April had to work her butt off just to be able to keep up with the other kids in reading and writing, so her love for fictional writing was tossed to the wayside for the moment.

Time marched on, as it always does, and she forgot her childhood dream of becoming an author and instead focused on what she had to – creating a career for herself. As the endless waves of time passed the shores became less rocky and more sandy, a place where she could find an even foot. That and Microsoft invented Word. Hallelujah. This is where April began her journey into the written world, the world that her imagination had been ceaselessly creating for her entire adult life.

Now she has been given a chance to let her literary wings unfold and fly, thanks to the amazing publishers with Evernight Publishing and Secret Cravings Publishing. Now its time to let the dream take flight and watch it soar!

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest

Nicola’s Sunday Shoutout: Kacey Hammell

Today’s Sunday Shoutout goes to Kacey Hammell and her smouldering new book Guarding His Anchor (Canadian Muscle 2), is now available from Evernight Publishing and other purveyors of fine erotic romance. Take it away, Kacey!

Thank you so much for sharing my latest release, Guarding His Anchor, with your readers! Frank and Charlie haven’t had an easy road, but their journey is romantic and adventurous.

Happy Reading.

Kacey

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finalCanadian Muscle …
When Desires Need Protecting.

Charlotte Weber is no stranger to heartbreak. FBI agent Frank Shaw has swept in and out of her life as though she’s a revolving door, stomping on her heart in the process. Now that she’s finally had enough, he’s back again and seems determined to spin her life out of control.

Frank knows Charlie is the anchor for his lost soul, even though he can’t risk settling down. The demons of his past are too great, and he won’t run the risk of hurting her. This time, his only objective should be locating Charlie’s brother, Sean. But Charlie’s a complication, and not just because she refuses to believe Sean is guilty.

As Frank and Charlie fight for what they believe in, they also try to resist their powerful connection. The future is unclear, but when danger surrounds them, they are each other’s only anchor.

Story Excerpt

Frank watched Charlie intently.

Charlie.

That name was for a young girl, not for a woman like her.

To him, she was all Charlotte. Confident, virile, elegant, intoxicating. A vixen who turned a man on with one sultry glance and then brought him to his knees with one heady taste of her. He hated calling her by such the tomboy-ish name everyone else called her.

Others didn’t see what he did. Which was a good thing, too; he didn’t want her sharing that part of herself with anyone else. Especially not with this Numbnuts Neal that Jonas had told him about last night. Another guy was sniffing around his lady, and he didn’t like it. Not one fucking little sliver.

“So.” Charlotte interrupted his thoughts. He’d deal with Numbnuts later. “Tell me”—she shoved the file aside—“in your own words, everything my brother has allegedly done. And sugarcoat nothing on my behalf. I’ll read the report later.”

There was the woman he cared for. The brook-no-argument heat in her eyes. Her deep, sea-blue gaze sliced deep and offered no mercy.

“Your brother actually went undercover five years ago. You knew he was changing jobs and would be out of the country for a long time. You told me that yourself, remember?” Charlotte nodded but said nothing. “Through my contacts and the agent in charge of the case, it’s been almost eighteen months since his handler’s spoken to him.”

Her eyes widened and she shifted, but remained silent.

“I tracked him down in the most desolate area of Tel Aviv and to a branch in a drug cartel he’d started investigating years ago. The minute details are in the file, but to make a long story short, I got too close. Breached a compound to look for evidence of your brother being there and anything else I could use in the case.” He ran a hand down his face, the skin itchy from not having shaved in days. “Only sparse personnel were to be on the grounds, less eyes watching, but the Intel I got had been wrong. Before I knew what was happening, I was getting shot at from every direction.”

“So Sean might not be the one who shot you.” Her eyes were eager, hopeful. Of course she’d latch on to the fact multiple bullets were aimed at him.

He shook his head, wishing he could answer her pleas. “I managed through the worst of it and found my way to an empty garage where I ran into your brother. And before you ask, yes, I am certain it was him. He appeared confused at first, then said, ‘Charlie’s Frank?’ So he knew who I was. Then voices and more gunfire rang out and coming toward us. Before I could react to anything, he suddenly raised his gun and shot me.” Frank rubbed his wound, still surprised he’d survived. The doctors had said a couple inches left or right, depending on travel of the bullet and bone fragment concerns, and surgery wouldn’t have been an option either.

“How’d you get out of there?” He hoped the concern in her eyes was true and for him, not just her brother.

“One of the other agents with me pulled up in a jeep. I ran out as fast as possible, and he hauled our asses out of there.”

Charlotte scoffed. “Okay Rambo-slash-John McClane, you still watch too many action films. Unless I hear it from Sean, I won’t believe he’d shoot you for no reason.”

She’d always been pigheaded, but Frank couldn’t believe she’d question it. “What reason would I have to lie to you? Hell, Charlo—ie, I latched on to the case to prove his innocence.”

“Why? Why did you want to get involved? You left Vikki and high-tailed it on the first plane out with barely any notice. You didn’t tell me much before you left. And you were on your way to partnering up with Gavin and Marc with the security stuff. But you dropped everything and left. Why was Sean’s case that important to you?”

“For you!” he bellowed, confused why she didn’t see that. “He is your brother, Gavin’s best friend, and I’d have access to the whole case to help him.”

“Don’t pretend that you were doing me any favors. I never asked you to get involved, Frank.”

“Well, of course not,” he growled low. “You’d never have found out any of it if I had my way. I was hoping to get Sean out of trouble and bring him home to you. But you overheard Gavin and I talking before I left. And as far as leaving Vikki, she and I discussed it. She needed space and was only too eager to see me go. She didn’t need my hovering at that point and wanted to stand on her own, or try to. Gavin watched over her for me.” He smiled. “You all did, and I appreciate it very much.”

“We’ve become great friends.” He loved the way Charlotte’s eyes softened as she talked about his cousin. “It is an honest friendship. And it has nothing to do with you.”

Months had turned her hard, distant. He only had himself to blame. They hadn’t left things on a positive note, but he’d hoped she’d understand one day.

Hell, he’d foolishly hoped that she would come to appreciate having him on Sean’s case rather than a stranger. Their personal relationship aside, he assumed she’d trust the agent he was, and how long and hard he’d continued searching for Vikki. What other proof did she need to trust him?

How wrong he’d been.

“I don’t want to think about Sean doing this.” The worry on her face tore at his heart. “Was he undercover too long? Is that a reason people believe he’s capable of such violence?”

“There are many cops and agents that have gone so far undercover they get caught up in the lifestyle and it’s impossible to find their way back.” Sadness crept across her face. “Sorry, Charlie, that’s as honest as it gets.”

“None of this makes sense.” She stood and piled paperwork on the file cabinet. “It goes against who Sean is, and not who Norris raised. I can’t wrap my head around it. My brother isn’t a monster.”

Her voice broke, breaking his heart in the process. Frank stood and crossed the room, then rested his hands on her shoulders. “I’m sorry, hon. I know you’re scared, and I’m sorry you have to go through this.”

Charlotte turned, surprising him, and burrowed her face in his chest. Sobs tore from her, shaking her strong yet delicate frame. He wrapped her in his arms, resting his cheek on her head, and let her cry.

It had been so long—too long—since he’d inhaled her sweet scent of fruity shampoo and the coconut butter body wash she used every day. He’d barely made it through any meal that served any of the combinations, the memories of her too fervent to let him eat in peace. Soft, warm, and the tranquility that came to him whenever he held her close were all potently his Charlotte.

Home. Being this close to her again was like coming home. But he wasn’t a man looking for one place to settle down. And it puzzled him why he returned time and time again.

You know exactly why. You have an addiction, buddy. And she’s in your arms right now.

Yes, he supposed his conscience was trying to tell him something, but it was wrong. He kept returning here because of his friends, the security business. But Charlotte pulled him back in like a reel catching a fish every single time.

“No. Fuck no.” Her high-pitched squeal surprised him. He fell back on his feet, shocked at her strength to shove him so hard.

“Charlotte—”

“Shut up. No. Damn it.” She glared at him, fists tight. “Get out. Don’t coddle me. Don’t console me. You won’t use me. Get. Out.”

“Use you? Coddle you?” He huffed. “You turned to me,” he yelled, frustration gnawing at him.

“Guess I’m an idiot, but I won’t fall for it. I won’t let you close enough to betray my brother. If I even hear from him again.” Her chest heaved and sweat dotted her forehead and cheeks. Frank had never seen her so out of control, seething and yet so stunning. How ferocious she was in battle.

“Charlie?”

Frank’s head whipped around to the intruding voice in the doorway.

“Charlie, are you all right?”

“We’re having a private conversation. Get lost, buddy.”

“Shut up, Frank. Come on in, Neal. He and I are finished.”

So this was Numbnuts Neal. Dark hair, squinty eyes, tanned skin. Dressed to the nines in a suit and tie, with a cute little handkerchief in his breast pocket, and a pair of round glasses in his right hand. Jesus, what a nerd. Frank wanted to pick him up and chuck him back out into the hallway.

“I, um, just came to see if you wanted to catch up. Maybe dinner?” Numbnuts eyed Frank with caution. Good. Frank wanted the guy scared shitless of him.

But the little prick stepped forward and extended his hand to shake.

Frank eyed the small limb with the urge to break it but wanting to be an adult.

“Oh, for cripes sake,” Charlotte groused. “Neal Simmons, Frank Shaw. And vice versa. Whatever.” She pushed a pile of folders into a shoulder bag then her phone and grabbed another smaller bag she slid under her arm. “I’ll call you later, Neal. I need a time out.”

“Hey, wait a second,” Frank called out, following her into the hall.

“No, I’m done here. I can’t do this right now.” She turned and rushed away.

Frank watched, jaw clenched. Anger and frustration filled him as Charlotte and Numbnuts disappeared. He strode back into her office for his cell phone he’d set on her desk earlier. Frank eyed the landline phone sitting there.

After extracting a small case from the front pocket of his pants, he opened it and pulled out the tiny device and lifted the dial-phone. He placed the electronic bug underneath it and set it back down.

If Sean contacted his sister, this would be one number he might call. As much as Frank disliked going behind her back like this, he had a job to do. No matter how much he cared about her, he’d do whatever it took to bring bad guys in. He wasn’t bred any other way.

gahereader

Where To Buy

Evernight Publishing | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Universal Link | Bookstrand

About Kacey Hammell

Avid Reader. Romance Author. Redhead…

Canadian-born author Kacey Hammell is definitely a book-a-holic. A romance reader from a young age, she fell in love with happily ever afters.  These days, as a multi- published erotic romance author, she enjoys adding a lot of heat, sass, and emotion to the many genres she writes.

Mom of three, Kacey lives her own happily ever after with her perfect hero in Ontario, Canada.

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It’s time to pull on my Big Writer Panties

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.

And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.

To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year)  I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).

So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.

SFR Brigade Showcase: Degree of Resistance

sfrb-showcasebannerHello, folks! My new cyborg romance Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1) is now available on Amazon and other online retailers of fine SF romance, and I want to share a scene here that, to me, encapsulates the relationship between my main characters, bless their hard little heads.

Some backstory: the year is 2048, the United States has fallen and the Pacifica Protectorate is the most powerful nation-state on the West Coast. Evie Contreras is a freelance cybertech who lost the love of her life, Ben Drake, twelve years ago. When she finds out that Ben is still alive and has been turned into a cyborg soldier by the protectorate, she rescues him with the help of a shadowy resistance group known as Rubicon. In return, Rubicon wants Evie to go back to the Pacifica Protectorate and retrieve a hidden AI for them. Needless to say, Ben is not happy about this.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great SF romance at the SFR Brigade Showcase!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. An innocent man forced into cyborg slavery. A woman determined to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverEvie opened the control box wired to the pressure tank that took water from the Burgess well. A set of dusty but functional solar cells sat on a pole fastened to the tank, and insulated wiring led from the cells to the control box. “Okay, the well is definitely not dry and the battery is pulling juice from the cells, so it’s got to be a failure in the pump,” she said, rooting around in the bag of borrowed tools next to her.

Ben crouched down next to her, making sure he was in between her and any potential restart of the McBride/Burgess water war. “Think you can fix it?”

She gave him an “are you kidding” glance, then returned her attention to the dusty innards of the control box. She leaned closer, nose wrinkling. “Ew.”

“What?”

Grimacing, she reached into the box and pulled out a small, stiff body. “I think it’s a deep-fried lizard. Can they chew on wires?”

He gingerly accepted the small corpse. The arid air had done a fine job of natural mummification on it. “Not as much. It might’ve peed on something, though.”

“Yay.” She peered deeper into the box. “Yeah, I think you’re right—looks like a contact got corroded. I can fix that.”

As she got to work, Ben kept an ear cocked to the radio clipped to his jacket pocket. After giving them a royal chewing out for taking an unauthorized beer break, J.C. was overseeing the repair of the War Wagon while a chastised Vince and company drove the bartered food and the wounded security officer back to the base in the Bandit. Rob had volunteered to stay behind as backup, and Evie’s presence had been requested at J.C.’s side once she was finished with the well pump.

He watched her frown in concentration at the control box. “There, that should work. I already primed the pump so—” She flipped a switch and the pressure tank rumbled before settling down to a satisfied gurgling. “Damn, I’m good.”

“Yes, you are.”

She squinted at him, patches of color blooming in her cheeks. He didn’t think it was because of the blustery wind. “Thanks. We better get back to the War Wagon.”

He got up and gave her a hand, hanging onto it once she was on her feet. She didn’t try to pull away, which was reassuring. “I’m sorry about punching the wall in your office,” he said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

The corner of her mouth quirked. “I think you were justified.”

“I don’t, but thanks for that.” He stared at the hollows between the hills of her knuckles, the elegant strength of the hand. He never wanted to let it go. “I just hate the thought of you going back to Pacifica without me.”

The wind drove strands of dark hair across her face, curtaining it. “I know, but I don’t have a choice. Ballardie and I are the only ones who know how to shut down Lilith’s server. He can’t go so it has to be me. But I’m going to have Mark, Rob, and Lisa backing me up, and they’re all armed and extremely psycho. I’ll be fine.”

Ben wanted to smile at her description of the security officers. “Baby, you could head in there with a cyborg army at your back and I’d still worry.”

She snorted. “Is there anything I could say that would make you feel better?”

“Not really.” He brushed the hair away from her face. “I guess … I’m feeling useless right now because I can’t protect you, and I’m scared I’m going to lose you again, and if that happens…” He didn’t want to think about the yawning abyss that would become the brief remainder of his life in that case.

Those lovely russet eyes softened. “I understand about being scared,” she said, cupping his cheek. “That’s how I felt every time you went on deployment. I never knew if you were going to be in danger or not. All I could do was wait and pray that you came home.”

“Shit.” He pressed into the warmth of her hand, memorizing how she felt against his skin. “If this is how you felt, I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. It’s part of loving a soldier. I knew that going in.” Her thumb stroked his cheekbone. “But I also knew if there was any way for you to come back, you’d take it. And you proved me right. You survived twelve years under Camden, and you came back to me. So I’m telling you right now that I’m coming back to you, and I’m bringing Ally with me.”

He leaned down, pressing his forehead against hers. “You better. I don’t think I can live without you.”

“Same here. Twelve years was long enough.” Her lips quirked. “And as for you being useless, may I remind you that you just walked into a strange town alone, convinced an armed man to let you into his bar, singlehandedly negotiated a ceasefire between two crazy people, rescued a bunch of our guys in the process, and you didn’t fire a single shot or spill a drop of blood doing it. You’re about as far from useless as it’s physically possible to be.”

He considered what she’d said. Viewed in that light, it was kind of impressive. “I was just doing my job,” he said, self-conscious.

“That’s what heroes always say.”

“You think I’m a hero?”

Her smile was blinding. “Well, you’ve always been my hero.”

Christ, he loved her. He pulled her into his arms, resting his cheek on top of her head. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you,” he murmured, “but damn, I’m glad I did it.”

“So am I.” She leaned back and kissed him, her lips cool and soft. “And I know this is kind of pointless to say to a hero, but try not to worry about me. The thing is—”

She shifted, her hands moving. He suddenly found himself on the cold ground, right arm straight up behind him with his hand flexed in a wrist lock and her foot braced under his shoulder blade. “—I’m not exactly what you’d call helpless.”

He huffed out a rueful laugh. He could break the lock with his augmented strength, but not without hurting her. And if he was honest with himself he was damned impressed that she’d put him on the ground so neatly. “Someone’s been practicing.”

“Yup. Rob’s pretty damn good at hand-to-hand, and I still remember everything you and Tio Christo taught me.” Her voice dropped. “I’m coming back, Ben. And I’m bringing our daughter with me. You’re not going to lose either of us ever again.”

The grip around his wrist disappeared. He rolled onto his back, staring up at the most beautiful mouth in the world. Upside down, he wasn’t sure if she was smiling or frowning.

She planted her hands on her hips. “You believe me, right?”

He grinned. “My momma didn’t raise stupid children, ma’am. I believe you.”

“Good.” She toed at the dust. “Now get up. I’m freezing my ass off out here and I want to go home.”

Home. That sounded like a fine idea.


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. Today’s scene is where Evie first sees the graphic evidence of what the Pacifica Protectorate did to Ben. Next week we’re back to sexytimes, I promise.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecover“Excuse me,” Evie said, “where’s the ICU?”

The nurse pointed down the hallway. “Go down, turn left at the nurse’s station, then left again at the restrooms. It’s behind the big blue security doors—you can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” She followed the directions to the doors that were marked “ICU—authorized medical personnel only.” If they were locked and controlled by Lilith, would the AI let her through? And even if she got through the doors, someone might challenge her.

Act like you belong. That was easy enough; she was already wearing scrubs. For added verisimilitude she grabbed a pile of sheets from a small cart as a prop, plopping the tablet on top. Taking a breath, she pushed at one of the doors. It opened and she stepped through.

A short hallway beyond ended at a circular nurse’s station manned by a handsome and clearly bored man in surgical blue scrubs. His curly black hair had been cut short, and he needed a shave judging by the heavy five o’clock shadow, but his eyes lit up when he saw her.

“Hel-lo,” he said in a drawled British accent. “Did someone finally hear my plea for more help?”

“That’s what I was told,” Evie said. “I’m Ally. Where do you need me?”

“Oh, my.” The man gave her a slow up and down that was too deliberately over the top to be offensive. “Don’t ask me questions like that, love. I’m still on call for two more hours.”

She snorted, glancing at the whiteboard propped up on the station’s counter. It had to be a list of patient rooms. “I bet you say that to all the staff members.”

“Only the ones who’ve stolen my heart.” He plunked his hand over his breastbone. “Promise me I’ll see you later, Ally. It may be the only thing that gets me through this deathly dull shift.”

This one was a charmer, which made things easier and harder at the same time. Easier because he’d let her slide past. Harder because he’d undoubtedly check out her ass as she walked away. “No promises—”

“Samir. Dr. Samir Haddad.” Something on his console beeped and he grimaced. “Damn. Duty calls, love. I’ll catch you later?”

“You can try.” Giving him a smile, she walked around the station, resisting the urge to hurry.

The nurse’s station sat at the crosspoint of four corridors like a bull’s eye. Luck and left-to-right reading habits were with her and B corridor was immediately opposite. She headed down there, counting rooms until she came to B4.

The board had Drake, B printed neatly next to the B4 slot. Licking dry lips, she grabbed the door handle. The worst they would do was kick her out, maybe yell at her for coming in without authorization, right? She’d take that if she could just see him for a minute, make sure he was all right, maybe even talk to him.

She opened the door, ready to smile.

And stopped.

Her mind couldn’t comprehend the form that was on the hospital bed. It was as if someone had made a lifelike mannequin of Ben, then removed both arms and everything below the middle of its chest. The holes in the trunk and arms had been sealed neatly with some sort of gelatinous caps, and a variety of tubes and wires ran from them to a combination of equipment arranged around the bed. Some of it she recognized from her own work, like the rounded white med droid with the spidery arms that stood in the corner. The rest appeared to be high-tech hospital equipment, all of it keeping what was on the bed alive.

She’d known intellectually what a cyborg was. Artificial arms, legs, internal organs; she could accept that. She thought she could accept that. But this was something that bypassed rational thought and went straight to the primitive brain, terrifying it.

She gasped a little when he opened his eyes. “Ben?” It was a whispered prayer.

But he heard her. Those grey-blue eyes opened, blinking a few times before he could focus on her. It broke her heart when he smiled. “Evie?”

Go to him. Touch him, tell him it’s going to be all right.

She couldn’t move.

His smile faded. He glanced down, craning his neck. His eyes went wide, filling with horror. “No. Oh, God, no!”

She choked back a sob, shaking her head.

Fierce color flooded his face. The horror disappeared, replaced by incandescent fury. “Get out!” he shouted, raising his head off the bed far enough to jostle some of the wires and tubes. Somewhere an alarm began to bleep. “Goddamn you, Evie, don’t look at me! Get out!”

She wanted to. She didn’t want to see any of this. Screwing her eyes shut, she fumbled for the door handle behind her.

“Get out!”

There it was. She stepped backwards, away from the raging half-man screaming at her from the bed.

And backed into someone. When she turned, Samir glowered down at her. “I think we need to have a chat, Ally.”


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Mid Week Tease: Degree of Resistance #MidWeekTease #MWTease

MWTease15Hello, folks, and welcome to Mid Week Tease hosted by Angelica Dawson! So, Degree of Resistance (Pacifica Rising 1), is now out and available for purchase. And to switch things up a bit, today’s scene is more tense than teasing — after Evie, Ben, and Evie’s daughter have been captured by Ben’s former commanding officer General Camden, Evie’s ex …  I hesitate to call him boyfriend. Guy she was expected to have sex with in order to keep her job? Anyway, Gene shows up, wanting his property back. Ben’s not going to be very happy about this, as you will soon see.

Enjoy, and make sure to hit the list after the teaser to see other great Mid Week Teases!

A perfect society hiding a terrible secret. A betrayed man forced into mindless slavery. A woman willing to break all the rules to set him free.

Freelance tech Evie Contreras is part of the Employee class of the Pacifica Protectorate, the “perfect society” that rose on the West Coast after the breakup of the United States. But Evie knows all about Pacifica’s festering core and the secrets that keep it in power. And when she discovers that her fiancé has been turned into a cyborg slave by a sadistic protectorate officer, she will risk everything to rescue him.

degreeofresistancecoverCamden settled back on the desk, wrinkling her nose. “There, that’s better. Now, the rest of us can have a lovely little chat.”

“Yeah, about that,” Gene said, practically vibrating in place. “You want the guy and his kid, fine. You’ve got them. I’m taking Evie now.”

Evie wasn’t sure who tensed first, herself or Ben. If Gene took her now, she knew she’d never see Ben or Ally again.

The general pursed her lips in dismay. “Oh, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. I need her for this next part.”

Gene’s attention jumped between Evie and Camden. “We had a deal. I was supposed to tell you if she showed up. You’d take anyone she was with, and I’d get her. That was the deal.”

Camden’s bright good humor didn’t change, but a thin layer of ice formed under it. “To paraphrase one of my favorite movie characters, I’m changing the deal.” She leaned forward, fixing a predator’s grin on the younger man. “Pray I don’t change it further.”

Evie had to bite back a hysterical laugh when Gene’s jaw dropped in shock. He struggled to regain control, his status as a Shareholder’s heir helping to shore that up. “That shit may work on your soldier boys, lady, but it doesn’t work on me. I went to a fuckload of time and expense to get a cabin up north for her, and I’m not going to waste all of that because you want to play some fucked-up game.”

Camden blinked. “I see. And what were you planning on doing in this cabin with Ms. Contreras?”

“What do you think?”

Ben’s muscles tensed for a lunge at Gene. Evie gripped his arm hard.

The general steepled her hands, raised index fingers resting on her lips. “I’m thinking you were planning on kidnapping a citizen of the protectorate and imprisoning her in that godforsaken wilderness near Portland so that you could rape her whenever your wife-to-be cut you off from your marital privileges. Is that roughly what you had in mind?”

This time Gene’s jaw almost hit his chest. “I’m not—I don’t—what the fuck is wrong with you?”

Evie had to throw all of her weight into keeping Ben on the couch. “Don’t,” she pleaded softly. “Please.”

Camden threw them a smirk. “Captain Drake here doesn’t seem all that impressed with your plans, Mr. Song. Neither does your inamorata, to be honest.”

Startled, Gene glanced at Evie. “Look, I know it’s little primitive but it’ll do for now.” From the slight whine in his tone, it was clear he was annoyed at having to use persuasion. “But you can stay there and no one will ever be able to find you, I promise.” He held out a hand. “She’s not stupid enough to shoot either of us. Come on, let’s go.”

Evie stared at him. He was right; Camden wouldn’t shoot the heir of Dae-Jung Song in his own home. If she took his hand and walked out the door with him now, she’d live.

As his sex slave, trapped in the middle of nowhere and totally dependent on him for everything. Protected behind his privileged bubble, he couldn’t understand that his offer wasn’t life. It was a life sentence.

Slowly, she shook her head. “I’m not going anywhere with you, Gene.”

His brow furrowed. “Goddamn it, Evie, I’m telling you I found a way we can be together. Hye won’t ever find out—”

“I don’t care about Hye. I’m not going anywhere with you, don’t you understand that?” She wrapped her hand around Ben’s. Gene spotted the gesture, eyes widening in astonishment. “I don’t want to be with you.”

His incomprehension disappeared, replaced by anger. “You belong to me,” he snarled.

“No, I don’t. I never belonged to you.” All those emotion bottled for so many years rose to the surface, burning her clean. “I didn’t have a choice about fucking you—that was all your father’s idea. Now I do have a choice. I’m free, and I’m not going anywhere with you.”

He bared a set of perfect teeth in a predator’s snarl. “You stupid bitch. I’m going to stash you in that cabin until that fucking fidelity clause is up, and I will fuck you any way I please, and you will say ‘thank you, sir’ each fucking time, do you understand—”

“Sit down, captain,” Camden barked.

Ben dropped back onto the couch from a half-crouch, blue eyes flat and murderous as they fixed on Gene. “Then tell him to shut his mouth before I shut it for him permanently,” he said softly.


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So, yeah, I’m nervous

degreeofresistancecoverDegree of Resistance will be available at midnight tonight, which means everyone who pre-ordered a copy (*MWAH* I love you so much), you’ll immediately be able to jump into Evie and Ben’s story.

And I’m nervous. I know that sounds sort of ridiculous — this is my seventh novel, why am I nervous? I have no idea, I just am. I’m really pleased with it, and I kinda fell in love with these two so I want their story to do well. And since the sales for Palace of Scoundrels have been meh, I may be kind of worried that the success I had with Empress of Storms was a fluke and this one might tank as well. It’s a legitimate fear, after all.

Of course, when I mention this to various people they whap me around the head and tell me to stop being ridiculous, it’s a solid story that’s hitting in the middle of the android/cyborg/AI romance wave and people will like it (and if it sucked these folks would have sat me down for a come-to-Jesus talk). And I feel better for awhile.

And then, because my brain is paranoid and hates me, I think, “Well, shit, what if I offend Latinx with my portrayal of Evie? I grew up on the south side of Chicago with Mexican-American friends and neighbors, but that was decades ago. Eve and her family are on the West Coast — maybe I got language use wrong. Or cultural elements. And what about Song and her family? What did I screw up?

To which my betas have pointed out that 1) this story takes place 31 years in the future, in a different country that’s only loosely based on the West Coast as it is now, and a lot of cultural stuff will have changed, plus none of the characters are cardboard cutouts put in simply to tick an ethnic box. Which is nice, but doesn’t mean that I didn’t foul up somewhere. I will say now that if I got something wrong, for the love of Kage Baker tell me so that I can learn from my mistakes and fix them in the next book.

So, yeah, Nic is perhaps a tad overwrought at the moment. This too shall pass and I’m sure I’ll feel much better in the morning, but for now don’t be surprised if you find me in a corner somewhere gibbering quietly to myself.

16730638_894224527347625_7851914522375932870_n

On the plus side, the DoR print books arrived this afternoon. Damn, CreateSpace, do you hire the Flash to deliver your stuff or what? So I am totally set for Wild Wicked Weekend.