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How Martini Club 4 Was Born (Ruined – Vintage Romantic Suspense by Alicia Dean – #FREE for a limited time!!)

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Martini Club 4 – The 1920s

In 2010, I and three of my writer friends—Amanda McCabe,  Kathy L Wheeler, and Krysta Scott—began meeting each Friday evening for Martinis and various other libations at the Martini Lounge in Edmond, Oklahoma. In time, we came to dub our gatherings the ‘Martini Club.’  During one of these get-togethers, an idea was tossed around to write stories centered around a Martini Lounge-like establishment. The idea blossomed from there, and the ‘Martini Club 4’ series was born.

Each of the four authors wrote our own, stand-alone novella, but the girls from each are friends, and they interact in one another’s stories. This first series is set in the 1920s, and the follow-up novellas are set in the 1940s.

I and my BAFF’s (Best Author Friends Forever) had a blast brainstorming and creating the MC4 Vintage Historical Romances over drinks and during a few out of town retreats (over drinks, as well :)).  Sadly, Kathy and Amanda have moved out of state and the Martini Lounge was converted into an Italian restaurant, so, like the Roaring Twenties, our Martini Lounge gatherings are bygone days.  (Although, never fear, Krysta and I have a few other friends who now meet for drinks on as many Friday nights as possible, though COVID has certainly put a damper on that. We still call our get-togethers MC (Martini Club) 🙂

Step back into the days of prohibition, gangsters, and speakeasies with the Martini Club 4 Series.

****  FREE for a limited time!!  – Ruined, Reckless, and Rebellious are free and Runaway is only 99 cents!!

 (See below for info about the 1940s novellas)

About the Books: 

  • Jessica:  An aristocratic reporter with a penchant for trouble, she encounters sexy, mysterious Frank Markov, owner of an elegant new speakeasy and a man with secrets she’s dying to uncover. ~ Rebellious by Amanda McCabe 
  • Eliza: She fled England in pursuit of a better life, but her illusions are shattered when she falls prey to a scoundrel who draws her into a life of prostitution. When she meets Vince Taggart, a former boxer in search of his missing friend, she finds hope and the promise of love. ~ Ruined by Alicia Dean
  • Margaret: Her impulsive nature lands her face-to-face with gangsters and bootleggers. Even more disarming is her undeniable attraction to the enigmatic Harry Dempsey. ~ Reckless by Kathy L Wheeler
  • Charlotte: Her dreams of owning her own bakery crumble when blackmail and murder land at her feet. Is the dashing detective her ruin or her salvation? ~ Runaway by Krysta Scott 

 

Blurb: Can an aristocratic lady melt the cold heart of a Russian gangster?

Lady Jessica Hatton fled her high-society London debutante life for one of investigative journalism in New York—only to be relegated to the fashion pages. Searching for a juicy story leads her to Club 501, the city’s most glamorous speakeasy—and its handsome, mysterious owner, Frank Markov. But his past of war and revolution puts their hearts—and their lives—in danger…

Excerpt: “Do you smell that, Meggie?” Jessica Hatton cried as she leaned into the cold, salt spray wind, her t-strap shoes perched on the lowest rung of the ship’s railing.  She’d lost her hat, and the short strands of her hair blew into her eyes, but she didn’t care.  England was far behind them.  They had escaped.

“It smells like freedom!” she shouted, and threw up her arms.  It felt like she could fly all the way to America.

“I only smell old fish,” Meggie said.  “Now come down from there, Jess.  If you tumble into the drink, it will all be over before it even starts.”

Jessica laughed and shook her head, but she did climb down.  She spun around to see Meggie stretched out on one of the deck chairs, the glossy mink collar of her coat drawn close around her.

The sky was grey and dismal-looking, the water not as glassy-smooth as when they slid past Ireland yesterday and headed out to open sea.  Several of the passengers had retreated to their cabins, but Jessica couldn’t stand staying inside.  Not when there was so much to be seen.

“It smells like fish and freedom,” Jessica insisted.  “But we can go in now.  Maybe Charlotte and Eliza will want to play some cards or mah-jong.”

“Finally,” Meggie grumbled as she swung her feet down to the damp deck.  But her smile was broad.  Jessica knew Meggie was loving it all just as much as she was.

Blurb: She vowed she’d be no man’s doxy, but fate had other plans…

After the Earl of Goodwin attempts to force himself on her, housemaid Eliza Gilbert flees England for New York, hoping to build a better life. But the land of opportunity proves as harsh as the London docks, and she finds herself in a situation more dreadful than the one she escaped.

Former boxer, Vince “The Fist” Taggart dreams of marrying, having a family, and living a quiet, peaceful life. But when a girl he’s known since childhood disappears, he heads to New York in search of her and meets Eliza, a woman with a less than honorable reputation. Inexplicably captivated, Vince can’t force himself to stay away, especially when he learns Eliza is the key to finding his missing friend.

Excerpt: Eliza lifted her gaze, then looked away when she met his eyes. They were just too…striking, too blue. “I’m afraid you’ll have to speak to Oscar. He handles all my transactions.” She could never have a normal outing with a man. A lump of regret rose in her throat. She turned and started up the stairs.

Vince caught up to her in a few steps and grabbed her arm, taking the bag from her at the same time. “That was a lousy thing to say.”

She opened her mouth to accuse him of going around Oscar so he didn’t have to pay. But that was ridiculous. He hadn’t taken what he’d paid for the first time. She lifted a hand and rubbed her forehead. His attention confused her. What was his angle? He didn’t want sex. Did he think she was hiding something about Cynthia and if he spent time with her he could draw it out? “What do you want from me?”

“A picnic.”

 

(99 cents on Amazon, free at this link: https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/imED1 )

Blurb: Lady Margaret turned Lady Bootlegger…

Singer Margaret (Meggie) Montley needs money…fast. Her friend is in a dire situation with nowhere to turn. While Meggie is on the brink of stardom, it’s not soon enough to save her friend.

Harry Dempsey is out to avenge the deaths of his father and brother at the hands of a ruthless gangster. But trouble spirals out of control when Meggie Montley shows up the night he meets his nemesis to settle the score. Saving the impetuous woman from a crime lord might be easier than saving her from her own reckless behavior.

Excerpt: Meggie launched herself from her hiding place and threw her arms about Harry’s neck. Locked in his muscular embrace, she rested her chin on his shoulder. His arms tightened around her. “Oh, Harry. I came as fast as I could. Just as we’d planned.” The words, she’d intended to carry, came out breathless.

“Fast, huh?” The whisper was against her ear where no one else could hear, raised goose prickles over her entire body. “Guess I’ll have to do something about that.” He lifted his head. “What are you doing with my girl, Joe?”

Joey’s hands flew into the air, indicating his surrender. “Sorry, Dempsey. Had no idea she was anyone’s quiff—”

Meggie’s cheeks burned, and she stiffened at the insult. Harry’s one arm gripped her closer. The other shot up, jerking her body like a rag doll. She couldn’t see Harry’s face with her own now buried in his neck, but she felt the corded muscles contract.  

(99 cents)

Blurb: Can she prove her innocence before more than her dreams are destroyed?

After escaping an arranged marriage, Lady Charlotte Leighton lands on a new shore, determined to realize her dream of opening her own bakery. But her plans are shattered when her former fiancé follows her to New York. Now, she finds herself in a fight for her freedom.

Haunted by a string of failures, Detective Felix Noble is determined to solve his latest case. But his efforts to find a murderer are jeopardized by a forbidden attraction to his number one suspect. While he’s certain Charlotte Leighton is keeping secrets, instinct tells him she’s not the murderess he first believed.

Excerpt: Long thin fingers curled around a glass and lifted it from the tray. Charli followed the direction of the drink. Derrick Chaunce, or as the local duffs referred to him, “Slick”, grinned, exposing yellowed teeth.

“You … You…” Her throat closed. The rest of her diatribe wouldn’t budge.

He winked. His thin hair slicked back in the latest fashion exaggerated the gaunt cheekbones and sunken eyes, tinging him with an unhealthy, dilapidated look. He gulped the whiskey. A bit of the amber liquid escaped through the gap in his teeth and down his chin. Her stomach lurched.

“Thank you, sweet cakes. Put it on my tab.” He skulked off.

Charli whirled around. How did the bounder get past Tiny? Ira fumed about customers who ran up a high tab without reconciling at the end of the night. Now she would have to explain yet another charge added to Slick’s mounting debt. She sighed and rolled her eyes to the heavens. The customer was always right. Even when they were wrong.

 

Please check out and ‘like’ our Facebook page:

http://facebook.com/martiniclub4

Print book of all four: http://www.amazon.com/Martini-Club-1920s-Kathy-Wheeler/dp/1508793107/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429473865&sr=1-6&keywords=martini+club+4

Martini Club – The 1940s Novellas:

Pampered: The 1940s – Kathy L Wheeler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZS2F7QK

Priceless: The 1940s – Krysta Scott  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081M76DLK

Precarious: The 1940s – Alicia Dean https://www.amazon.com/Precarious-Martini-Club-1940s-ebook/dp/B085BR3N7P/

Perilous: The 1940s – Amanda McCabe – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081K789BV?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

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Halloween Romance: Devil’s Eyes (A Michael Myers Love Story)

Last year, my OKRWA writing chapter held a fun contest where participants were challenged to write a 500 word story with a ‘monster’ as the romance hero. I was coordinator, so I couldn’t enter the contest, but of course, I couldn’t resist writing a story anyway. This is the last of the Halloween Monster Romance Posts. Happy Halloween!!  

About the story…

I have always loved the Michael Myers Halloween movies. I saw my first one, when it was released in 1978,  in Moore, Oklahoma with my still BFF, Paige Warren. It was a spooky night all around.  I drove my parents’ station wagon (and of course, Michael stole and drove the hospital station wagon in the movie). After the movie, we were driving down 12th street (the local drag), and a girl stepped out onto the busy street and slowly walked across, without even looking around, like she was in a trance or something. We were freaked out, to say the least. Then, when I got home, my bratty younger brother hid in my dark room with his hand over my light switch and, when I went to flip the light on, I touched his hand and screamed.  So, yeah, that’s a night I’ll never forget. 🙂 When my kids were growing up, we all watched the movies together, and they LOVED them. They were never prone to nightmares, and if they did have them, they didn’t mind, because, like me, they loved to be scared. As twisted as it sounds, my girls and I think Michael is sexy. So…it was great fun to put him in a romance story. Hope you enjoy…

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Devil’s Eyes

Haddonfield, IL 1992, Halloween Night

Brisk October wind bit into Doctor Phoebe Loomis’s flesh beneath her thin jacket. Dry leaves skittered down the sidewalk, sounding like cracking bones.

In the aftermath of the murders, the darkened neighborhood was silent. Along the street, houses were adorned with witches, goblins, and grotesquely smiling jack-o-lanterns. One particularly creative individual had transformed his yard into a cemetery, complete with headstones and an open grave with a ‘corpse’ lying next to it.

Red and blue strobe lights painted the faces of the officers leading the killer from the house. Michael Myers, wearing charcoal-gray coveralls and a blood-sprinkled white mask, towered above the two men.

Her pulse skipped, and she took a deep breath to still her racing heart. What was wrong with her? How could she be attracted to a…monster? Tonight, he’d killed five teenagers who’d been partying in his childhood home—thrill seekers, fascinated by the legend of Michael Myers. He’d taken countless lives since his escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium in 1978, where he’d been incarcerated for fifteen years after he murdered his teen sister, Judith, on Halloween—at six years old.

After her uncle’s death last year, Phoebe took over his psychiatry practice. Daily, she’d devoured Michael’s file.  Yes, Michael had committed atrocities. But atrocities had been committed against him too. A relative told of how Judith abused him. All these years, he’d been killing his sister over and over. His tormented soul cried out to Phoebe. She couldn’t explain it any more than she could explain sunrises. They simply were.

Tomorrow, she would meet with a man who murdered without conscience. And tonight, like many others, she would dream of his touch, his kiss…

She grimaced. If the authorities knew of her twisted fascination with Michael Myers, not only would they not let her near him, they’d lock her up as well.

****

The interrogation room door opened and Phoebe snapped her head up. Michael—sans mask, wearing an orange jumpsuit, hands and feet shackled—stepped inside. His eyes—her uncle called them Devil’s eyes—were black as a midnight sky. But unlike her uncle, she saw more than a soulless killing machine in their depths.

Michael eyed her warily and dropped into a chair. He was handsomer than she expected. Dark, tousled hair and, other than a jagged scar running along his rugged jawline, he was…beautiful

She offered a tentative smile. “I’m Sam Loomis’ niece, Phoebe.”

He rested his shackled hands on the tabletop. His dark gaze, so intent it stole her breath, locked onto her face. Tingles skated over her skin and she glanced away.

When his touch landed on her hand, she jerked her head up. Michael’s firm lips had softened—not quite a smile, but something…pleasant.

“Phoebe…” His gravelly voice sent shivers along her flesh. “I’ll tell you my story.” Relief surfaced in his ebony eyes. “Then maybe, I’ll find peace.”

She clasped her fingers around his and nodded, smiling through tears. “I’m here for you. As long as you need me.”

 

My Paranormal Romance, Soul Seducer:

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Blurb:

She spent her entire life fighting death. Now she’s falling in love with him

As a nurse, Audra Grayson devotes her life to healing others. She realizes death is inevitable, but struggles every day to help her patients combat it. When she has a near-death experience of her own, she inadvertently opens a portal between the world of the living and the dead. Two Grim Reapers step through—Gaylen, bent on vengeance, determined to bring death to the innocent, even when it isn’t their time. And Dimitri—sexy and deadly, even though he’s just ‘doing his job.’ When Gaylen targets Audra’s patients, then her loved ones, she’ll have to conquer her fears to defeat him. But she can’t as easily conquer her feelings for Dimitri—she’s falling in love with him, and there’s no future with a man who exists in a world beyond the grave.

Excerpt:

Sensing movement behind her, Audra whirled. In the shadowed corner of the room, she could make out the figure of a man, although she couldn’t distinguish his features.

Visiting hours weren’t until ten a.m. And even then, only family members were allowed in this wing of the ICU. Audra had met each of Ms. Chapman’s relatives, and this man wasn’t one of them. She could tell by his body type and height. The only male in Ms. Chapman’s immediate family was her son, and he was short and stocky.

“I’m sorry,” she said, her voice hushed. “You can’t be in here.”

He looked behind him, then back at her. “You can see me?”

She frowned in puzzlement. “Of course.”

“You saw me that night. Both those nights.”

Her frown deepened. “What nights?”

He moved from the gloom, drawing closer. Her instinct was to back away, but she forced herself to remain in place.

As he left the shadows behind, his features emerged, and part of her brain recognized him, but she wouldn’t let the terrifying thought solidify.

He wore faded jeans and a form-fitting black T-shirt. His pectoral muscles and biceps would rival a male model’s. They were tight and well-defined, not overly bulky like those of steroid-enhanced body builders.

Reluctantly, her mind acknowledged she’d seen him before. He’d been part of her hallucinations. Her worst nightmares were becoming a reality.

Somehow not as frightened as she should have been, she stared into his icicle blue eyes as he continued to move slowly toward her. She waited, holding her breath in expectation.

Why did she feel this tingly sense of excitement? This glimmer of anxiousness mixed with fear? Why did she feel like she might explode with anticipation?

He halted a couple of steps in front of her and lifted his hand, brushing it along the scar on her cheekbone, causing a shudder in the pit of her stomach. A current moved in the air, like a burst of electricity.

“The first time was the night you got this.” His words were a whisper along her skin, as was his touch…almost as if his caress was the hint of a sensation, but not actual contact. Her eyes drifted shut, and she swayed toward him. Her pulse raced, her skin tightening. She swallowed back a moan. She wasn’t even dismayed at her response to his nearness. It felt so right…so deliciously right. One slight move forward, and she could touch him, press her yearning body against his chest. Biting her lower lip, she just barely held back from giving in to the urge.

Softly, she murmured, “That night—I—you…” The only words she could form were incoherent drivel. Her heart pounded, her belly clenching with the strangest feeling she’d ever had. She lifted her lashes, staring up at him, wanting to lose herself in his glittering blue gaze. Wanting to feel his hands on her body…his full, sensual lips on hers. Wanting to be swept away in whatever madness this was. It felt so strange, yet at the same time, exhilarating, compelling, irresistible…dangerous.

Yes, dangerous. Gulping in a breath, she stepped back. His touch fell away, breaking the strange hold he had on her.

“You! It was you there that night. In the alley…” Her breath came in short gasps as the odd desire was replaced by fear. “Then again, at the hospital.” She shot her gaze around the room. “Where’s the other one? The blond guy? Who the hell are you?”

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Halloween Romance: Elvira Meets the Prince

Last year, my OKRWA writing chapter held a fun contest where participants were challenged to write a 500 word story with a ‘monster’ as the romance hero. I’ll be sharing a few of those on my blog between now and Halloween.  Enjoy!

FROM TEENA SMITH

Back in the day, I loved the treat of a scary movie late at night. On weekends, an oh-so-entertaining horror host came as a big bonus. For years, The Mistress of the Night, Elvira, and Count Gregore were staples. Their wise-cracking style brought out the fun, campy side of horror. Around Halloween they pulled out all the stops. I especially loved Elvira’s over the top, sexy persona, complete with witty double-entendres.

But the years flit by, and as they do, taste and programming evolves. Demand for horror hosting seems almost nonexistent these days. How might Elvira cope?

What if, late at night around Halloween, she were to have an uninvited guest who might suggest an unusual solution. One, he could say, to help them both. She likes it, but wants a little tweak. Hmmm.

I hope you enjoy my ideas about how the Mistress of the Dark might play this out. ~~TS

elvira

Elvira Meets the Prince

            Elvira stared at her uninvited guest. Seduction personified, he was tall and built, with dark smoldering eyes, and glossy longish black hair. She was due back on set at midnight, and it was already 10:30. Another production delay, and the project would be scrapped, taking her career with it. Not a high demand anymore for horror hosts.

            Lust rolled off him, heating the air. She crossed and uncrossed her legs. Damn — the man was a sexual magnet — or was he a man? Vampires weren’t really her thing. What had he just said? “Chupa what?”

            The corners of his sexy-as-sin mouth turned up in a smirk. “As Mistress of the Dark, you seem to have little knowledge of chupacabras.”

            The mellifluous, rich timbre of his voice added to his allure. “Dude — your pet goat suckers? Ewww.” One of her feet tapped the floor, a sure sign of her sexual attraction. “Uh, sorry, but I didn’t catch your name.”

            “You can call me Prince.”

            “Oh. Like the name formerly used by the singer.” Was he looking down his nose at her?

He waved a dismissive hand, one finger adorned with what must be a five carat stone. “I never gave him permission to use the name. However, he was quite reasonable once his error was pointed out.”

            Suddenly, they sat hip to hip — knee to knee. How did he get right next to her? Less than a minute ago, he’d been at the other end of the small couch. He exhaled, blowing hot breath on her neck. It warmed her to the core, and headed south. None of the undead had so much heat. Was there a trace of Sulphur in the air? Her nose must be out of whack. She visualized her dungeon. He’d be on his knees, maybe in chains. Clad in little more than her thigh high stilettos, she’d strut before him, whip in hand. Mistress indeed . . . She blinked, and shook her head. The temptation to act on her fantasy was too dangerous at the moment. Making him keep his distance was the last thing she wanted, but what else could she do? There was no time. “I never gave you permission to come this close, Prince.”

            He inclined his head and moved an arms’ length. “Actually, my dear, I didn’t come here to talk only about my pets. I think we can help each other — in many ways.”

            “Go on.”

            His eyes became iridescent and glowed red. “A new film project — one that can start a new cinematic horror theme. I believe it’ll replace vampires and the zombie apocalypse.”

            His enthusiasm was infectious. “Do you mean?”

            “Absolutely. Chupacabras — the new horror craze.”

            It would give her career a boost, in the bargain. “I think it’s a winner.” “I have to be on set in twenty. Come with me. I’ll introduce you to someone who can make it happen.

           “But let’s step downstairs first. I want you to see something.”

 

 

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Halloween Romance: The Reaper’s Kiss

Last year, my OKRWA writing chapter held a fun contest where participants were challenged to write a 500 word story with a ‘monster’ as the romance hero. I’ll be sharing a few of those on my blog between now and Halloween.  Enjoy!

FROM TAMRIE FOXTAIL

I wrote The Reaper’s Kiss as a short story for the contest. After I read the story to my husband he kept asking me questions about it. The answers to those questions led to my outlining a YA trilogy. I’ve finished the first draft of the first story and hope to have a final draft ready to submit in a few months.

The Reaper’s Kiss

The Grim Reaper stands outside my window. I don’t have to peek through the white eyelet curtains next to my bed to see his shrouded form. I don’t have to open my eyes and look for the shadowy outline made possible by the not quite full moon.

I don’t have to look for him because I can hear him.

His skeleton finger taps on the cold glass.

Local legend says that if you carve your name in The Reaper’s Tree—once known as The Hangman’s Tree and site of an accident that killed five people in the fifties—The Reaper will come for you before the next full moon. My boyfriend Daley and I carved our names there on Halloween night. Three nights later Daley’s brother heard a thud in the middle of the night. He went into Daley’s room and found him lying dead on the floor.

Tomorrow is the full moon.

I lie on my bed, eyes clamped shut. Now The Reaper taps on my window. His icy breath reaches me through the glass. I won’t look.

“Ivy.” I think I hear Daley’s voice. Impossible. I stood next to his grave this morning, tossing a single red rose on top of his casket.

“Ivy.” An icy finger traces my outer ear the way Daley used to.

I keep my eyes closed, shivering in the November chill as the blankets are tugged from my shoulders, sliding down my body.

A cold hand creeps beneath my t-shirt, the chill of it bringing my nipples to attention.

“It’s me, Ivy. I love you. You promised I was the only one.”

The cold vanishes, driven away by my first love. My only love if the reaper comes for me tonight.

I remember Daley’s touch, his fumbling, yet gentle hands; warm hands on a warm September night tugging my t-shirt over my head as we stretched out on his twin bed.

“I have protection,” he whispered, tugging at the snap on my jeans.

“Where’d you get a condom?” I asked, keeping my voice low. “You said I was your first, too.”

“I stole one from Jonah.”

I wanted to laugh, but didn’t want to draw the attention of his brother or parents.

My jeans slid over my hips. Daley’s hand stroked the inside of my thigh.

Warmed by the memory I give myself to my lover’s touch. He tugs my panties down. I kick them free. My legs begin to open, ready to welcome him.

It’s the touch of ice on my lips that make my eyes spring open. I stare into Daley’s sweet brown eyes; eyes now set in a skeleton’s grinning face.

Wrapped in my lover’s touch, The Reaper has come for me.

 

Check out Tamrie’s romantic suspense short story:

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Blurb:

Daira Gleeson gave her heart and her virginity to Rory Trent when they were in high school. Twenty years later–reeling from her mother’s suicide and the death of her cheating fiance–Daira finds herself in possession of a cursed scrimshaw doll.

Now, Rory is back in town, wanting to pick up where they left off. But not only is Daira afraid he’ll break her heart, the doll’s curse has already caused harm to those close to her. If Rory leaves her again, he could pay with his life.

Someone is after the doll and willing to kill to possess it. Can the curse be broken in time to save those Daira loves…and to regain the true love she lost a lifetime ago?

Excerpt:

Daira jumped when her front door opened. Rory stood there for a moment, then stepped inside and closed the door behind him.

“You should keep your door locked.”

“You’re supposed to wait for someone to open it.” Her words lacked the scorn she had intended.

He crossed the room, then took her shoulders in his hands and kneaded them gently. “You sounded frightened on the phone.”

“I’m fine. I told you, it was just a mouse.”

He looked at Lemon, sitting on the arm of the couch, washing a white paw. The corner of Rory’s mouth twitched. “The cat mustn’t be doing its job.”

He studied her with those sexy brown eyes. Tiny flecks of gold and green encircled the pupil. His fingers flexed, settling on her shoulders more firmly.

Why couldn’t she look away?

He leaned closer. She pressed her hands against his chest and turned her head to the side. His kiss landed on her cheek. His lips moved to her ear, taking a little nip. She drew in a deep breath as her nipples responded.

“High school was a long time ago,” he said, amusement threaded through his voice. “When are you going to give me another chance?”

She turned to look at him. His nose was an inch from hers. She struggled to keep her eyes from crossing. “You think I don’t want you to kiss me because you dumped me twenty years ago?”

“You mean there’s another reason?”

“Yes! You’re little more than a stranger, now. I don’t go around kissing strange men.”

His smile deepened. He leaned closer, the tip of his tongue tracing the shell of her ear. She shivered.

“I’m not a stranger, sweetheart.” His hands slid down her arms and moved to her waist. “I’m the man who took your virginity in the backseat of my car.”

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Bio

Tamrie Foxtail is a librarian, and the wife of a Federal Agent (now retired).  Raised in Florida, and now living in the Sooner state, she’s still searching for the beach in Oklahoma. 

 

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Halloween Romance: Portrait of Love (The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Last year, my OKRWA writing chapter held a fun contest where participants were challenged to write a 500 word story with a ‘monster’ as the romance hero. I’ll be sharing a few of those on my blog between now and Halloween.  Enjoy!

FROM ANNA KITTRELL

The Picture of Dorian Gray is my favorite book. I love Oscar Wilde’s unmatched wit and timeless storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, terrifying—the tale has it all. And I find the story’s premise so intriguing: Lord Henry, a twinkle in his eye, corrupting an innocent young man for his own amusement. Destroying a beautiful life filled with promise—just to see if he can. The creepy portrait, riddled and oozing with Dorian’s sins—while he stays young and gorgeous—is the icing on the cake. So it isn’t any wonder that when I imagine the perfect monster, I always “picture” Dorian Gray (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Please enjoy this twist on my very favorite monster tale of all time, The Picture of Dorian Gray. After all, the scariest devils are the ones painted on the inside.

Portrait of Love

Dorian stepped to the easel, pulled the drape from the canvas, and turned to face the mirror on the opposite wall. Comparing himself to the portrait was an activity to which he was well accustomed. He’d repeated the habit several times daily for the past hundred years. However, today the reason behind the ritual was quite different. Instead of seeking out changes with his usual morbid fascination, Dorian searched the grotesque features for consistency.

He scrutinized the portrait alongside his reflection. The murky eyes, glazed with the film of unatoned sin hadn’t resembled his own in years—but had they changed since yesterday?

He squinted, expecting to find a new cataract on one milky iris or a fresh boil on the surrounding wrinkled skin. He found nothing. The same brown blotches marred the gnarled fingers. The same arthritic bend stooped the back. For the first time since its creation, the painting hadn’t changed one iota.

Dorian checked the time. Seven p.m. Lydia would be there any moment. Exquisite Lydia. Down in whatever cancerous sliver of soul he had left, he knew she was the reason behind the painting’s sudden refusal to alter. After a century-long quest for pleasure, Dorian had found what his hardened heart searched for all along. Love. He adored Lydia, and tonight he would tell her so.

Footfalls echoed on the stairs. Dorian sucked in a breath, snatched the sheet from the floor, and flung it over the portrait.

“I let myself in,” Lydia said, dragging her eyes over him. “Mmm…don’t you look tasty.” She wrapped her red-tipped fingers around his tie. “Mr. Gray, this suit reminds me of another Mr. Grey whom I’ve read a great deal about.”

He pulled her close. “Perhaps we should stay in tonight. You can compare our…techniques.”

She nibbled his ear, stopping abruptly. “What are you hiding?”

Dorian’s heartbeat stalled. “Hiding? Nothing—”

“What is this?” She pulled away, touching the draped canvas.

Her movement shocked his heart like a defibrillator. “It’s—a surprise. You mustn’t see until it’s finished.”

“Surprise? Is it painting of me?”

“Patience, dear. Soon you’ll see.” He led her away from the portrait, making a mental list of artists he knew. He could surely commission one to paint his beautiful Lydia.

Halfway down the staircase, Lydia touched her throat. “I left my scarf in your room.” She kissed his cheek and dashed back upstairs.

A scream exploded above. Dorian bounded the stairs and burst into his bedroom.

“Is this a joke?” Lydia shrieked, staring at the portrait. “This is how you see me? An ugly old hag?”

“Let me explain.”

She threw the canvas to the floor and stomped it with her stiletto heel.

Grimacing, Dorian clutched his chest.

“What’s happened to your face?” she cried. “Dorian, you’re a monster!”

Dorian collapsed. He clawed the floor, searching for the portrait.

“I love you, Lydia,” he whispered as his hand stilled upon the torn canvas.

From between his gnarled fingers, peered the innocent blue eyes of youth.

Check out Anna’s spooky romantic suspense short story:

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Blurb:

An ancient scrimshaw doll–does its gypsy magic protect? Or destroy?

As a child, Darcy Vaughan cowered beneath the malice of her twin sister, Scarlett. Now, Scarlett is back and Darcy hopes to establish the sisterly bond she’s always longed for. Instead, Scarlett tries to destroy Darcy’s life–and her new relationship with the town doctor.

Dr. Cabin Creighton returned to his hometown near Lake Chickasha, Oklahoma to take over his father’s practice. One look at Darcy and Cabin wants nothing more than to love her forever. But a guilty heart and memories of his deceased wife are holding him back.

When someone from Scarlett’s past reappears, bad things start to happen. Darcy and Cabin struggle to keep their love alive, but as danger draws closer, Darcy finds herself once more at her sister’s mercy, with nothing but the yellowed bones of an ancient doll to protect her.

Excerpt:

In the center of the doll’s chest bloomed an intricate rose. Cabin explored the flower with his fingers, fascinated by the small carving which held more detail than all the doll’s other attributes combined.

“So, it just pulls out a magical Tommy-gun and blasts the person it sees harming you?” he asked, pointing the doll’s arm at a lamp on the end table.

Darcy smiled and shook her head. “Not quite.”

“What is it, then? Is the doll psychic?”

She frowned. “I think it’s more like karma, in a way. It discerns the aura of the betrayer…feeds on the negative thoughts. The betrayer has to knowingly betray the doll’s owner, or at least have intent of wrongdoing. Some trace of malice the doll can pick up on.”

Intent of wrongdoing. Cabin thought of Samantha, how he’d watched her waste away, nothing but skin stretched over bones at the end. How he hadn’t done anything to help her. He shook away the thoughts, but couldn’t shake the guilt.

“And what sort of…things happen to the betrayer?”

“Oh, it can be anything from a mild annoyance to…worse, depending on the level of betrayal.”

“I’d better watch my step around you,” he spoke to the doll as he straightened its dress. He turned and looked into Darcy’s eyes, haltingly bringing his hand to her face, tracing her features. She closed her eyes. He wanted her, wanted to feel alive again, even though he didn’t deserve to.

“Only true love breaks the spell…” she murmured.

Cabin jerked his hand from her cheek. The movement knocked the doll from his lap, tumbling it onto the hardwood.

Darcy’s eyes sprung open. “Oh, I’m so sorry. How stupid of me to say that—”

A rough bang on the front door caused Darcy to gasp and widen her eyes. She jumped up, scooping the doll from the floor as she crossed the room.

Cabin followed, standing close behind her. She cracked the door open.

“Really? This is how you treat your sister? Your twin?” Scarlett pushed past Darcy, into the living room.

“What—”

“You promised to check on me. I had a coughing spasm and very well could have died in that house all by myself.” She shook a cigarette from her pack, looked around the room, then slid it back in.

“May I intervene?” Cabin asked, his piercing gaze aimed at Scarlett. “You’re perfectly fine. I would have sent you to the hospital if I’d thought otherwise. As for the coughing spasm…you can blame those cigarettes for that.”

“Thank you, Dr. Drew. I’ll check into Celebrity Rehab right away.” She cackled, her breath reeking of alcohol. She turned to Darcy, snatching the doll from her hand. “Where did you get this?” she demanded. “How many crap-filled Dumpsters did you have to dive into before you found the ridiculous thing? They should’ve buried these dried up bones right along with that crotchety old bat’s.” She pumped the doll’s legs in a suggestive manner and laughed, holding it from reach as Darcy grabbed for it.

Cabin circled Scarlett’s wrists with one hand, twisting the doll free with the other, and handed it to Darcy.

“My, you are a strong one.” Scarlett batted her lashes over bloodshot eyes. “I can certainly see why my sister…my twin sister…has such a bad case of Cabin fever.” She turned on her stilettoed heel and staggered through the doorway, onto the porch. “I hope you can remedy that, doctor.” She laughed as Cabin shut the door.

Darcy nestled the doll’s face into her neck, stroking its hair. “Scarlett makes it so hard. All I want to do is help her. I wouldn’t blame you if you never wanted to be around this again.” She motioned from herself to the wall separating her house from Scarlett’s.

“Well, that would screw up my next move.”

Click HERE to buy

Other Books by Anna:

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Bio:

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Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Contact Links

Anna Kittrell Amazon Author Page/Books http://alturl.com/bchbw

Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/AKittrell

email kittrellbooks@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Entertainment

Tuesday Two-Minute Writing Tip – Fabulous Ebook Contest – International Digital Awards

Got two minutes? Then check out this week’s quick tip ~ Enter your book in OKRWA’s IDA Contest for more exposure and a chance to win awesome prizes!

Hello and welcome…I am a freelance editor and an editor for The Wild Rose Press, as well as an author. I often struggle with my own writing, and I have found that sometimes, a little reminder of ways to improve the process can be helpful, so, I like to share these moments of brilliance with others :). But, in this busy world of ours, who has time for pages and pages of writing tips? That’s why I’ve condensed mine down to quick flashes you can read in (approximately) two minutes. Enjoy…

TWoMinuteTip

Disclaimer: All of my tips are suggestions, and are only my opinion. And, for the most part, there are exceptions when going against my advice will make your story read better. Take what works, leave the rest.

I am not feeling well today, plus, I am involved in the Candace Havens Fast Draft process with three of my writer friends, so my brain power is somewhat used up. 🙂 Instead of an actual tip, I thought I would tell you about a contest you should seriously consider entering. This is the fifth year OKRWA has hosted the International Digital Awards. I was one of the co-founders of the contest, and it has been quite successful for our chapter and for entrants.

Why should you enter? Let me tell you…

The IDA accepts Ebook entries in 7 different categories, both novel (40,000 words and above) and novella/short (10,000 to 39,999 words) lengths. Each entry is seen by three different readers, so even if you don’t place, you have the opportunity of reaching new readers.

The entry fee is low…$20 for novel length, $15 for novella/short length.

If you DO place, you receive a nice paper certificate and button for your website. Plus, your information goes up on our website.

If you WIN, you receive the following…

  • This awesome engraved paperweight (updated with YOUR info of course :)) **colors my vary

Novel Paperweight prize Short-Novella paperweight prize

  • You will be featured on a minimum of 3 blog posts

  • Your book will be featured in a “winner” video trailer that will be shared on FB, tweeted, and featured on at least 3 blogs and websites

  • Multiple Tweets and Facebook posts 

  • Featured on a special IDA Winners Pinterest Page

Why wouldn’t you want to enter??? 

Get those entries in soon…the deadline is June 30, 2016.

Detailed information on entering can be found here:

FMI: https://okrwa.com/contests/international-digital-awards/contest-categories/

 

Eligibility: Any ebook with an original copyright date of 2015 or 2016 that was eligible for sale in 2015 or 2016 and is NOT available for purchase in mass print by April 15, 2016 (Ebooks that are available as POD’s are eligible)

Entry: Non DRM PDF as email attachment

Categories: (All of the following offer BOTH a short/novella and a Novel category in each genre – Entries may contain romance, but romance is not required)

  • Contemporary

  • Erotica

  • Historical

  • Inspirational

  • Paranormal

  • Suspense

  • Young Adult

We need judges too! If you wish to judge, check out the information here: (You are free to judge, even if you enter, as long as you judge a category other than the one you enter)

https://okrwa.com/contests/international-digital-awards/judging-information/

Judges: Readers, including other unpublished and published authors.

Comments from past entrants:

  • This is an awesome contest! Not only did I receive recognition by winning the historical category, but I also received support in the form of tweets, Facebook posts and reviews from the judges. It was such an honor to have won such a prestigious contest. Thank you IDA! ~ Laurel O’Donnell, Award Winning Author of Angel’s Assassin

  • “Oh. My. Goodness! If there’s one contest you do not want to miss entering, it’s OKRWA’s International Digital Awards. As a winner in the 2013 IDA, I can honestly say that I have never gotten more bang for my contest buck than I have with the IDA: a website winner’s icon, a paperweight award, Facebook and Twitter promotion, reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads by judges and IDA personnel along with Twitter and FB postings, plus a list of review links. Are you kidding me? No other contest does this and the icing on the cake? The IDA coordinators are AWESOME!! ~– Julie Lessman, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series

  • “High praise for the International Digital Awards contest. Right on the mark with tons of terrific, highly-visible, effective promotions for winners.” ~Timothy Davis, author of SEA CUTTER

  • “What a wonderful contest! I’ve long admired the NRCA and read many of the winners. So glad OKRWA has created a digital award. The prize is mighty sweet as well. I appreciate the exposure to new digital readers that the IDA has given STONE KISSED.” ~Keri Stevens, author

  • “I am so glad that your hard-working chapter will continue with the International Digital Awards next year. I know it’s a lot of work — but so appreciated. Winning the IDA has been a thrill for me.” ~Cheryl Bolen, author of MY LORD WICKED

So…hurry up and get those entries in…best of luck!

Until next time…happy writing!

Oh yes, I wanted to share this boxed set, on sale for ONLY 99¢ – Six past IDA winners got together and released their winning stories in this boxed set. Genres include Contemporary Romance, Paranormal, Suspense, Historical,  and Young Adult. Check out it:

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Amazon Buy Link: https://amzn.com/B01F9RHLE6

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NEW RELEASE – Now Available 

(Click on the cover to be taken to the Amazon Buy Page)

2 minute writing tip final

 

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*** If you would like to send me a few sample pages (around 7500 words or so, even though I will not edit that many on the blog. It just gives me more to choose from) for me to edit and share on an upcoming blog post, please do so in the body of an email to AliciaMDean@aol.com. Please use the subject line: “Blog Submission” This is for published or unpublished authors. In the email, please include whether you would like me to use your name or keep it anonymous, and whether or not you would like me to include any contact info or buy info for your books. Also, you can let me know if you would like for me to run my edits by you before posting on the blog. Please keep in mind, this is for samples to use for blog posts. I will not edit or use samples from all the submissions I receive, but I will use as many as possible. 

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16

How to write a novel? That is the question. There are probably as many answers to that question as there are people who ask it.

Wanting to write and actually doing it are two very different things. I am well acquainted with the sometimes grueling process of churning out a story. Over the years, I have tried many methods for creating and completing manuscripts, and have tweaked and honed it down to a workable (for me) process.

Using specific examples from one of my own novels, Without Mercy, I share my method in this mini how to book. The first eight steps actually deal with plotting while the last two are designed to help expand your outline into a well-developed draft. There is no one, perfect way to create a story, but there will be a method, or methods that work for you. I’m not sure if this is the one, but it works for me. Only you can decide if it also works for you. Fingers crossed that it does!

*** Warning – Please do not purchase without reading a sample. (This is solid advice for any book, fiction or non. If you are not intrigued in the sample, you will likely not enjoy the book)

Amazon: Click Here

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Filed under For Writers, Promo Tips, Tips from an Editor, Tuesday Two-Minute Tips

Devil’s Eyes – Michael Myers, a Romance Hero?

Our OKRWA Chapter held a ‘Romancing the Monster’ contest where we could write a no more than 500 word scene involving some kind of monster or horror character. It had to involve romance, or at least an attraction and absolutely could not be more than 500 words, which is a bit tricky to pull off. It had to be a specific character, not just a werewolf or vampire, etc. Well…as twisted as it may be, I’ve always felt that Michael Myers of Halloween fame was kind of sexy. (I know, I know, I SAID it was twisted). So, I chose him to feature in my contribution to the contest. I coordinated the contest, so I made myself ineligible to place, even though the judges didn’t know which story was mine, or that I’d even contributed a story. I just couldn’t resist the fun of writing and submitting. 🙂

In the spirit of the season, I’m sharing my mini-scene here. If you’ve seen the movies, even just the first one, you’ll ‘get’ a lot of the references. 

I’m going to check with the other entrants and see if they object to my sharing their stories as well. Stay tuned…(of course, you all want to know the winners, right?)

 

Devil’s Eyes

Haddonfield, IL 1992, Halloween Night

Brisk October wind bit into Doctor Phoebe Loomis’s flesh beneath her thin jacket. Dry leaves skittered down the sidewalk, sounding like cracking bones.

In the aftermath of the murders, the darkened neighborhood was silent. Along the street, houses were adorned with witches, goblins, and grotesquely smiling jack-o-lanterns. One particularly creative individual had transformed his yard into a cemetery, complete with headstones and an open grave with a ‘corpse’ lying next to it.

Red and blue strobe lights painted the faces of the officers leading the killer from the house. Michael Myers, wearing charcoal-gray coveralls and a blood-sprinkled white mask, towered above the two men.

Her pulse skipped, and she took a deep breath to still her racing heart. What was wrong with her? How could she be attracted to a…monster? Tonight, he’d killed five teenagers who’d been partying in his childhood home—thrill seekers, fascinated by the legend of Michael Myers. He’d taken countless lives since his escape from Smith’s Grove Sanitarium in 1978, where he’d been incarcerated for fifteen years after he murdered his teen sister, Judith, on Halloween—at six years old.

After her uncle’s death last year, Phoebe took over his psychiatry practice. Daily, she’d devoured Michael’s file.  Yes, Michael had committed atrocities. But atrocities had been committed against him too. A relative told of how Judith abused him. All these years, he’d been killing his sister over and over. His tormented soul cried out to Phoebe. She couldn’t explain it any more than she could explain sunrises. They simply were.

Tomorrow, she would meet with a man who murdered without conscience. And tonight, like many others, she would dream of his touch, his kiss…

She grimaced. If the authorities knew of her twisted fascination with Michael Myers, not only would they not let her near him, they’d lock her up as well.

****

The interrogation room door opened and Phoebe snapped her head up. Michael—sans mask, wearing an orange jumpsuit, hands and feet shackled—stepped inside. His eyes—her uncle called them Devil’s eyes—were black as a midnight sky. But unlike her uncle, she saw more than a soulless killing machine in their depths. 

Michael eyed her warily and dropped into a chair. He was handsomer than she expected. Dark, tousled hair and, other than a jagged scar running along his rugged jawline, he was…beautiful

She offered a tentative smile. “I’m Sam Loomis’ niece, Phoebe.”

He rested his shackled hands on the tabletop. His dark gaze, so intent it stole her breath, locked onto her face. Tingles skated over her skin and she glanced away.

When his touch landed on her hand, she jerked her head up. Michael’s firm lips had softened—not quite a smile, but something…pleasant.

“Phoebe…” His gravelly voice sent shivers along her flesh. “I’ll tell you my story.” Relief surfaced in his ebony eyes. “Then maybe, I’ll find peace.”

She clasped her fingers around his and nodded, smiling through tears. “I’m here for you. As long as you need me.”

 

 

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Filed under Author Blog Post, Entertainment, For Writers