Author: Babs Mountjoy

Strong women we love

This week is my grandmother’s birthday. She was the strongest female influence in my life as a child, and her teachings guide me to this day. I was able to break out of some generational trauma through her words and acts, and I’m grateful.

I use her as an inspiration for the strong women I write–Inessa Regan of SECOND CHANCES, who comes up against a soldier with PTSD; Lily Pearl Evans, who must protect the man she loves from the Mexican drug cartel seeking revenge in SECRETS IN THE SAND; Caryn Orlane, who, as an officer of the Bureau of Land Management, fights white supremacists and militia in TENDER MISDEMEANORS; and many others.

Here’s her story, featured this week at the blog home of Dee S. Knight:

http://www.nomadauthors.com/blog/2020/09/14/alana-lorens-strong-women/

Also, for my writer friends, here’s a great column on writing your own strong women!

http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2020/08/how-to-write-a-strong-female-character-the-right-way-jennifer-jacksons-guest-post.html?inf_contact_key=60b72dcd0c385eb36378de9d41ac29be680f8914173f9191b1c0223e68310bb1

Fascinated by shapeshifters, Sydney Winward tells their bloody story

Bloodbond_w14492_ibWelcome to Sydney Winward and her new book, BLOODBOND!

Do you base your characters on real people or make them up from scratch?

All of my characters are made up from scratch. I have never used someone I know in my books, nor any of their qualities or personality traits. It’s not that people in my life aren’t interesting. But my characters are all unique and none of them fit the mold of others around me.

What genre do you write and how did you come to start writing that genre?

Surprisingly, I never saw myself as a paranormal writer. I was always into fairy tales and princesses. Magic and fantasy. So when I hatched an idea about a paranormal romance, with vampires of all things, I was skeptical at first because I had never dipped my toes in this genre. Although fantasy and magic will always have my heart, I have discovered a new love for the paranormal genre.

How did you get interested in writing fiction?

I have always been a daydreamer. I passed long car rides in my own head, thinking about stories and dreaming of romances. Reading about princesses, magic, and dragons was one of my favorite things to do growing up, and when I decided I wanted to write my own stories down, nothing could stop the pencil. (Yes, I wrote them all by hand in high school! My fingers will never forgive me for it.)

What are you reading right now? 

I am always on the lookout for new authors and new stories. Recently I came across an author named Blythe Carver. She writes historical western romances, and I’m seriously in love with them! I am slowly working my way down the list of her Westward Hearts series.

What’s something you’re good at?

Finding change on the ground. I got this skill from my dad! He’s found up to a hundred dollars worth of change on the ground in a single week. Although I have never found that much and he still holds the title of reigning champ, I aspire to win someday!

What superpower would you like to have?

Most definitely shapeshifting. If I could turn into any animal, human, or mythical creature, that would be the most amazing thing ever. Mystique from X-men is my favorite character, and she has the power to be able to shapeshift into anyone at any time.

Blurb for Bloodbond:

Zachariah Degore spent ten years locked under ground as a feral vampire. Now he has to redefine what it means to be healthy and whole. With his human life behind him, he starts anew in the vampire city of Ichor Knell with the vampire shah as his kin. He must prove he is worthy of his place in this new world.

Laurel Covaci is vampire elite, she would never court a feral vampire. After two hundred years she has yet to find a mate who meets with her satisfaction. She hides the pain of past hurt and abandonment behind a cold façade. Zach is confident that Laurel is the vampire for him, but can he break through her icy walls and convince her he’s the mate she’s been waiting for?

TwitterBloodbond

Excerpt 1:

She stared at him. And stared. Until it became uncomfortable.

So he stood and started to pack up his things, but she glared at him and pointed to his seat.

“Sit.” He did. Who could disobey a tone like that? “You can’t kill?” she asked incredulously. “You only recently came out of being feral, correct?” He nodded. “And you can’t kill? Human blood doesn’t send you into a rage. You refused to drink from the goblet at the service.”

“Have you been spying on me?” Laurel

She ignored his comment, and her mouth puckered slightly as if in deep concentration. He couldn’t help but stare. He’d never seen her do it before. Another endearing quality he added to the lengthy list of what made Laurel Covaci absolutely perfect.

“I have searched high and low, but I simply cannot find any answers to this particular conundrum,” she finally said. Heat rose to his ears. She’d been thinking about him?

He grinned. “Well, well, Lady Covaci. I didn’t realize I was filling up your thoughts.”

She blushed prettily, and he almost expected her to get up from the table and leave, regretting she even sat down in the first place. But she stayed put. In fact, she stared right back as if challenging him. He enjoyed the eye contact. Her eyes were so blue. So beautiful. They took him back to green fields of his childhood, of staring back at the blue sky as clouds lazily drifted past.

Excerpt 2:

“You obviously won’t bring up what is ailing you,” Oriel said, “therefore, I will. What is it?”

Her scowl deepened as she glared at a patch of red flowers that didn’t deserve her anger. “Zachariah is receiving mounds of handkerchiefs, and I fear it will interfere with his learning.”

He grinned slyly as he turned to face her. She didn’t like that look, as if he knew something she didn’t.

“I believe you are experiencing feelings of jealousy. Laurel, you are in love with Zachariah Degore.”

Shock hit her like a sleigh slamming into her at breakneck speed. Never in her life had she expected to hear the words “Laurel”, “Zachariah”, and “love” in the same sentence. Still, she shook her head stubbornly, but in her shock, she tripped on her bad foot, wincing as pain shot up her leg. She lowered herself onto a stone garden bench and took her slipper off, massaging the place where it hurt most while Oriel hovered worriedly.

“I am not in love with Zachariah,” she insisted. “We are only friends and I am simply worried about his studies.”

“Then why is your heart beating like a hummingbird’s wings?” he teased.

This time, she directed her scowl at her brother. “Curse you, Oriel. Mind your own business.”

“Your business is my business. I never liked Luca, but I like Zachariah plenty. I approve of a union between the two of you.” He sat beside her, draping an arm across her shoulders. “Zachariah is Dracula’s kin. He won’t be on the market for long.”

“I know,” she grumbled miserably, though she admitted to nothing. She was afraid to tell even herself that she felt more for Zachariah than just friendship.

Excerpt 3:

lavender-3576129_1920She giggled, but her smile quickly faded as she bit her lip and walked along the table, looking deep in thought. “I heard Jenica Avery gave you a handkerchief,” she said casually, running a finger down the long, wooden table and inspecting the lack of dust.

“Yes?” he replied. Why did it matter? It was a dumb, old handkerchief. “I am awaiting Adam’s reply about whether or not vampires can also be witches. Right after she gave it to me, a hoard of females attempted to do the same. Are you aware that I have to hide in the castle? Every time I go outside, I nearly get trampled by vexed females.”

She snorted in laughter, but quickly clamped her hands around her mouth. He grinned at her lapse in self-control and couldn’t deny that he liked it. A lot.

Clearing her throat, she stood poised and elegant, the perfect example of grace. “You hide in the castle? One would think you would rather choose to court one of these vexed females.”

He sighed with his arms resting on the table, looking longingly at Laurel’s lips he desperately wanted to kiss. “Perhaps someday. But the right female has yet to be vexed. Still, I am convinced witchcraft is to blame. No one wanted to walk on the same side of the street as me several weeks ago. Now females are chasing me? I don’t think there is any other explanation for it other than witchcraft.”

“Zachariah,” she breathed, and her tone made him lift his head warily. Her expression looked serious, and he wondered for a moment if he’d said something wrong. “I am getting the distinct impression that you don’t know what you look like.”

He tilted his chair back and shook his head, watching her curiously. “The last time I was able to look back at myself in a mirror was thirteen years ago when I was still a human. I’m sure I have changed quite a bit since then. I always imagined I looked like Adam.”

“You don’t,” she said, placing her hands on top of the chair across from him as she gazed back. “Well, perhaps to a certain degree. I can tell you two are brothers. But Adam doesn’t have that…thing that attracts females. That charisma. That striking quality.”

A flush crept up his neck. Was she trying to say he was handsome? Did Laurel think he was handsome?

About the Author:

SydneyWinwardAuthorSydney Winward was born with an artistic brain and a love of discovery for new talents. From drawing to sewing to music, she has loved to explore every opportunity that comes her way. At a young age, Sydney discovered her love of writing, and she hasn’t been able to stop writing since. Her active imagination and artistic mind take her away to different worlds and time periods, making every new story a fantastic adventure. When she is not writing (or fawning over animals in the neighborhood) she spends time with her husband and children at home in Utah.

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvqlfMc19Is

Buy Links: Amazon ~ Barnes and Noble ~ Applebooks

Social Media Links: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon Author Page ~ Instagram

This scavenger hunt may have love as a prize — new from Cynthia Terelst

Thanks to author Cynthia Terelst for being with us today, with her new release, LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE.

 First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Hi Everyone, Here are some random facts about myself:

I live in Queensland, Australia with my two cats, Kimmy and Possum. Kimmy was adopted from a local refuge and Possum was a foster fail through a rescue. I foster kittens for a local rescue. When I don’t have any in my home, I have withdrawal symptoms.

My mum lives a few streets away and visits every week. My daughter lives over 100km away. We talk every day, multiple times.

A lot of my friends love coffee and cannot function without one. I am not one of those people. I drank coffee once, when I was a teenager, and have never gone back. Every now and then I will have a hot chocolate. I usually drink water or sugar free cordial. I like to go all out and have a glass of soft drink with dinner.

I do not have any formal training in writing, in fact my degree is in commerce, which is funny really when you think that numbers and words are opposites. I don’t think you need an education in writing to be a good writer.  Although, having an understanding of structure, flow and grammar helps. I try to attend inline classes run through my state’s writing centre when something of interest comes along. But I think the most I learn is by listening to others, especially a close writing friend I work with.

Tell us about your most recent publication?

Let Sleeping Dogs LieMy second novel, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie was published on 30 June. It is a second chance romance that revolves around a scavenger hunt. A completely made-up scavenger hunt.

What inspired you to write this story? 

Last year my daughter moved to a new town for work. I put up a post about the two pubs in town and a friend commented saying it sounded like it was a puzzle. Then I thought, that sounds like a fun idea for a novel, I’m going to write about a scavenger hunt.
What’s your favorite thing about the book featured here today? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?

You would think coming up with places to hide a treasure and thinking up clues would be easy. But it was quite a challenge. You need enough details so that the participants can get to the right answer, but then be vague enough that they can’t get the answer easily. I learnt quite a bit about Sydney and its history.

How would you best describe your books?

My motto for my writing is – I like to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. One reader said my stories are not lovey dovey and that would be right. Even though they are romance they are not sickly sweet. I like to throw some real-life issues in there because I feel like they should be spoken about, even if it is in some small way. Some issues I have dealt with in my writing is loss, domestic violence and addiction.

What is your favorite genre to write? To read?

I write romance but read just about anything – romance, thrillers, YA fantasy, dystopian. If it’s good, I’ll read it. I have even tried space opera.

What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I like creating characters who are believable and who readers can root for. I enjoy adding Australian slang into my writing. Australia is such a unique country and I like sharing some of our culture with the world.

I wrote my first full length novel when I was sixteen.  Life interrupted and I put writing aside for over twenty years. Now I am back at it and I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?

I belong to Queensland Writers Centre and sometimes I join their online courses. I am a subscriber to many writing newsletters but find I don’t have enough time to read through them all. One of my favourite writing craft books is, The Emotional Craft of Fiction.

Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?

Sometimes, I listen to music, sometimes I don’t. When there was a clue in Let Sleeping Dogs Lie, that remotely related to Elton John, I listened to his music for fun.

Tell us a little about your path to publication. 

This is the second novel I have published. It sure has been a big learning curve. There is so much involved in getting a book published – writing, self editing, beta readers, professional editing, proofreading, formatting. Indie authors cover all of these costs. Leading up to publication there is a whole big launch plan to follow and then marketing.

What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?

Next, I am writing a royal romance. The ideas haven’t been fully fleshed out yet. I am hoping a library talk I was invited to attend will be rescheduled soon.

What would you like to tell readers?

I would like to encourage readers to leave reviews for books they read. This is especially important for indie authors who don’t have big publishing houses behind them. Even a two sentence review is helpful. Reviews help new readers find our books.

Blurb

Will one of the treasures they find be each other’s heart?

It’s been five years since Tara walked out of Shepherd’s life without a word. Since then he’s spiralled through drugs, alcohol and empty relationships, with Tara on his mind the whole time. Now he wants to win her back, and what better way to do it than by creating a fake scavenger hunt? He knows she won’t be able to resist.

Tara’s lost enough loved ones and she didn’t want to see Shepherd added to that count. So, when she saw him high at graduation, she did the only thing she could – she walked away. When she’s teamed up with him for a million dollar scavenger hunt, the feelings reignite. For a second chance at love to work, she needs to be brave enough to open up to him, to tell him everything she withheld the first time around.

Shepherd didn’t realise how much winning would mean to Tara. He now needs to come up with $3 million for her foundation before the hunt is over. If he can’t he will need to tell her its all fake, and he doesn’t know if he can risk that.

Will secrets destroy them a second time around?

Excerpt

Tara

Shepherd and I sat on the couch side by side and watched The Martian while we ate dinner. The warmth from where our arms touched seeped through me. I should have moved away, but I didn’t want to. The spices from the tacos radiated off him. What would they taste like when mixed with the sweetness of him? My eyes were drawn to his lips, the curve of them. I could practically feel their softness.

Shepherd turned his face to mine. My eyes lingered for a moment as I imagined his soft breath brushing my face as he bent his head toward me. My breathing shallowed to the point that it was nearly non-existent, as if I were a starfish. I turned my face away and resumed watching the movie, making sure my hands kept to themselves and my thoughts remained on the man saving his own life on the screen. Matt Damon may have been the most attractive astronaut I’d ever seen, but he was nothing compared to Shepherd.

The movie ended and I sat there while the credits rolled. Our closeness suddenly made me feel like we were in a flux capacitor. Time—five years of it—had been starved, and now it was swallowing me whole. Everything about Shepherd felt like home. Everything. And if I allowed it to, this feeling wouldn’t just swallow me, it would become me.

I jerked away from him, my heart racing, my skin cold, while I broke into a sweat. I couldn’t allow this to happen. Shepherd was no longer my solace. He never truly was because he never knew my grief. My grief over my brother. The feelings of loss at my parent’s death.

No, Shepherd was not my solace. Not then. Not now.

Buy Link

https://www.amazon.com/Sleeping-Dogs-Love-Down-Under-ebook/dp/B082HQDV66/

Author photoAuthor Bio

Cynthia Terelst is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.

She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.

Social Media Links

Website http://cynthiaterelst.com/

Newsletter https://www.subscribepage.com/p9p9y0

Twitter https://twitter.com/CynthiaTerelst

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cynthiaterelstauthor/

Facebook For the Love of Words FB Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/572605370313807/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/cynthiaterelstauthor/

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/cynthia-terelst

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Terelst/e/B07ZCTX8SB/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/cynthiaterelst

Linktree – https://linktr.ee/cynthiaterelst

 

 

Drawn into voodoo revenge–#MFRWHooks

When her big trial goes bad, corporate attorney Brianna Ward can’t wait to get out of VoodooDreams_w7507_medPittsburgh. The Big Easy seems like the perfect place to rest, relax, and forget about the legal business. Too bad an obnoxious–but handsome–lawyer from a rival firm is checking into the same bed and breakfast.

Attorney Evan Farrell has Mardi Gras vacation plans too. When he encounters fiery and attractive Brianna, however, he puts the Bourbon Street party on hold. He’d much rather devote himself to her–especially when a mysterious riddle appears in her bag, seeming to threaten danger.

Strangely compelled to follow the riddle’s clues, Brianna is pulled deeper into the twisted schemes of a voodoo priest bent on revenge. To escape his poisonous web, she must work with Evan to solve the curse. But is the growing love they feel for each other real? Or just a voodoo dream?

BUY LINK: https://www.amazon.com/Alana-Lorens/dp/1628300450/ref=sr_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=Alana+Lorens&qid=1591129683&s=books&sr=1-8

In the swamp, the fire illuminated the multi-tiered altar and some of those who gathered around it.  Painted with tribal markings in black and white, the three drummers’ faces
stood out like bare skulls against the reflected flames.
The people in the back row were silhouettes only, dark outlines swaying to the rhythm of the drums.
On the altar, Brianna identified a Damballah cross on the top level, surrounded by a number of unlit candles, and some small statues. On the next level sat a bottle of liquor. A large bowl and some cups on a tray were laid out before it, and what looked like a loaf of bread next to a large machete, blade gleaming in the firelight. Bright, tropical flowers decorated all the levels.
Finally, on the ground to the left of the table was a large box with a screen on the front, that appeared to be a carrying case for an animal, something alive.
A snake. 

It was one thing to see these items laid out in a cold array at a museum; quite another when an actual voodoo ritual was taking place before her eyes.
Avoiding the thrill of fright blazing through her, she focused on the table, searching for clues to why she and Evan had been summoned.
As the drums continued their spellbinding beat, a dark figure eased into the light before nola-pcola-012the altar, a tall, slender person dressed in black. Moving gracefully to the rhythm, the priest approached, bearing a tall black candle, which he used to light the other candles.
Eyes closed, chanting words Brianna could not understand, the priest turned slowly around to face the others. Those seated before him on rough wooden benches rocked from side to side.
She gasped when she recognized the man as Copper, dressed as she’d seen him in her mind’s eye when she’d touched that first note, a red turban on his head and, on his face, jagged red paint slashes like bloody lightning.
Instinctively, she pulled back, hoping they couldn’t be seen in the shadows.
He turned to the altar and lit two long sticks of incense, which soon filled the clearing with an exotic smoky scent. Walking in lock-step with the beat of the drum, he reached for a cup and one of the bottles. He poured red liquid into the cup, then held it up.
The drums stopped.
He spoke loudly in English, gesturing with the cup to the four corners of the clearing.
“By the power of St. Anthony of Padua, Legba Atibon, guardian of the crossroads, Legba, guardian of the bush, Legba, guardian of the house, Ago, ago si, Ago la!”
After the words passed, the drummers played again, even louder. Copper took a drink of the liquid, pouring some also into the fire where it hissed into smoke. He handed the closest drummer the bottle, and he drank from it, then passed it to the man on his left.
mfrw-book-hooks400He drank as well, and did the same. Whatever was in the bottle seemed to inspire them. Their drums reverberated with sound until Brianna could hardly breathe.
Copper leaned down before the altar, shaking something onto the ground. Brianna couldn’t see what he was doing, so she inched up until she stood behind the thick tree trunk next to her. He held some sort of painted tin, and from it, he dropped a white substance on the dirt in a distinct design.
“What’s that?” Evan whispered.
“That would be the veve,” Brianna whispered back. “It’s the sign for a particular deity or spirit. First, there should be the drummer’s veve, then there will be others, depending on which spirit they are calling forward.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she couldn’t believe Copper didn’t hear it.
Copper drew a second figure on the ground. The drums’ rhythm changed. Several people in flowing robes rose from the first row and began a seductive, erotic dance. The dancers thrust their hips forward and sideways in a frenzied manner, moving around the fire
kettles oblivious to each other until the drums stopped again. They froze.
“Gator Guede, le bon ton roulette, ye, ye, ye.”
He raised the cup to the sky, then took a long drink before dumping some in the fire, causing it to flare up.
He poured the remaining contents of the bottle into the large bowl, then added a red liquid Brianna hoped was wine, swirling the bowl in a large gesture before his chest.
The drums beat a new rhythm, so compelling Brianna could hardly keep still. The lead dancer took the bowl from Copper and passed it among the participants.
When all had drunk, the dancers returned to the area before the fire and danced again, the drummers changing rhythm to something more primal. The silhouettes moved between Brianna, Evan and the fire, rotating their shoulders and bouncing up and down.
They left a respectful space between themselves and Copper, who continued to create more designs on the ground, evenly spaced and spreading out toward the edges of the clearing.
He began to chant again, this time echoed by a chorus from those seated on the ground. Brianna felt herself drawn into the give-and-take, her head and thoughts growing fuzzy.
“Do you know what they’re saying?” Evan asked.
Brianna pulled herself back with difficulty. She shook her head, a little dazed.masked girl
Here, hold my hand,” she whispered. “I feel so strange. If I look like I’m getting—” She stopped, unsure how to explain what she was experiencing.
She didn’t believe in this stuff. Not at all.
Then why do I feel like there’s spiders crawling around inside me?

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