Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Wenona's Writing Prompts #writingprompts

Hidden in the clouds, I long for something more.

Interview and Giveaway - The Passion Season: Book I of the Covalent Series by Libby Doyle

Tell us a little about your latest or upcoming release.

My latest – and first – novel is The Passion Season: Book I of the Covalent Series, a paranormal romance that leans far into urban fantasy. I think fans of both will enjoy it. It’s a real ripsnorter. Book II in the five-part series, The Pain Season, will be published in late September.

I should warn everyone that this novel is for adults. It contains foul language, violence, explicit sex, and descriptions of sexual violence. While the story doesn’t end with a character in imminent peril of death, a few readers have described it as a cliffhanger.

The Passion Season is a love story that lives up to its name. The passion between Barakiel (ba-rack-ee-el) and Zan is the heart of the story, but it also features inter-dimensional travel, sword fights with demons, political intrigue in an alien world, a murder investigation and a band of depraved Satan-worshipping monks. It’s a wild ride!

Is there a theme or message in your work that you would like readers to connect to?

My book is meant, first and foremost, to entertain. That being said, the notion of Balance appeals to me. In The Passion Season, the aliens are known as Covalent, and Balance is the source of their power, the equilibrium of creation and destruction, attraction and repulsion, love and hate. Balance can be an important concept in a relationship, especially for a feminist. How does a women who is perfectly capable of taking care of herself handle a man who wants to protect her? After all, men are caught up in the same web of social expectations as women. My female protagonist, Zan, is strong and defiantly independent. In The Passion Season, these are qualities that make her an excellent FBI agent, but she needs to find a way to let go of some of that hardness if she’s going to let a man into her heart. We see a lot of romances with alpha males. Barakiel is most definitely an alpha, but so is Zan! One of my themes is how our lovers balance each other, and how they accommodate each other’s alpha-ness.

What would your readers be surprised to learn about you?

I lived in Japan for three years. I taught English in a Japanese high school as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program. While there, I rose to the rank of shodan (first-level black belt) in Shorinji Kempo, a cross between aikido and karate. In fact, it was my interest in the martial arts that led me to Japan, a wondrous, beautiful place. I will love it forever.

When you’re not writing what do you do? Do you have any hobbies or guilty pleasures?

I love to hike. I love travel. I love books and television (I can never get enough of stories, in any medium). We’re in such a golden age of television right now. My guilty pleasure at the moment? Game of Thrones! Every episode is as well-produced as a movie.

Which romance book or series (or other genre, if you don’t write romance) do you wish you had written?

The Outlander books! I’d be rich. Also, I dig them.

Is there a genre(s) that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?

Perhaps someday I’ll try my hand at literary fiction. I’ve experimented. Usually I can create a character with a vibrant voice, but I have a hard time with plot. I need demons, Satan-worshipping monks and inter-dimensional travel. I need alien passion! So much more fun than real life.

Of all the characters you’ve ever written, who is your favorite and why?

This is a hard one. I love Zan. I thought about her more than any other character, about what she should be like. But the most special to me would have to be Barakiel. He was my first. Zan is human, an FBI agent, a type of character who exists in the real world. Barakiel is entirely a product of my imagination. Certainly warriors are common in stories, but not Covalent warriors. I had a great time creating a history for his world, giving him a tragic backstory, envisioning his emotional reactions. He came alive for me. As good as he is at killing his enemies, he can also be sweet and silly. I didn’t set out to make him that way. It’s more what he became, like I didn’t have a choice. This may sound strange, but it was fascinating to witness my own process.

 If this book is part of a series…what is the next book? Any details you can share?

The Passion Season is Book I of the five-part Covalent Series. I’m working on Book II right now. It’s called The Pain Season, and it picks up right where the first book ends. I’m planning to release it on September 22, 2016, the date of the autumnal equinox.

Book I, The Passion Season, was released on the vernal equinox. These dates are significant because this is when the Earth’s axis shifts relative to the sun and opens a rift between dimensions. The rift allows demons to pass through to attack Barakiel, something they’ve been doing for centuries. These demons serve Lucifer, Barakiel’s father, who is murderously obsessed with his son. In the Pain Season, Lucifer’s obsession continues. He gets creative in his attempts to either enslave his son, or see him dead. As you can tell from the title, his efforts have some effect, especially regarding Zan. Our lovers have a lot to overcome in Book II.

What book are you reading now?

Witch of the Cards by Catherine Stine, a paranormal romance set at the Jersey shore in the Prohibition-era. So far, I’m loving the historical detail and the richness of the descriptions.

The Passion Season
Book I of the Covalent Series
Libby Doyle

Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance

Publisher: Fairhill Publishing LLC

Date of Publication: March 20, 2016 

ISBN: 978-0-9972985-0-5

Number of pages: 600 in ePub
Word Count: 117,259

Cover Artist: Damonza

Book Description: 

In loving him, she overcomes her pain, but to discover his true identity would shred the reality she thought she knew.

He is Barakiel. Warrior. Exile. Hopeless romantic. Barakiel is Covalent, a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. The Covalent Council exiled Barakiel to the Earthly Realm as the price of the treachery of his father, Lucifer, who wages perpetual war against it. Lucifer also relentlessly pursues his son. The Council thinks Lucifer views his son’s power as a threat, but Barakiel knows his father seeks to destroy even the memory of love. 

She is Alexandra “Zan” O'Gara. FBI Agent. Army veteran. Recovering drunk. Zan’s troubled past left her with little interest in men, but she had never encountered anyone like the stunning Rainer Barakiel. Zan believes Rainer is a wealthy businessman with expertise in edged weapons who can help her with a case. From the moment she meets him she wants him more than she’s ever wanted anything, but her intense attraction is as frightening as it is thrilling.

This is their love story. As Zan’s deepening feelings for Rainer lead her to confront her emotional damage, he struggles to meet the demands of his home world so he will be free to love her, and to reveal his true nature. Through the gruesome crime that first brought Zan to his door, Barakiel learns that his presence in the Earthly Realm has placed some of its most vulnerable citizens in danger. Compelled to protect them, he undertakes a series of duties he may not survive, even as Zan rescues him from centuries of a deadened heart.

Amazon     iTunes     BN

The Passion Season©
by Libby Doyle
The Meet
From part one, Vernal Equinox,
Chapter 1
he antique weapons collector to whom Professor Carson had referred Zan owned several acres along the Delaware River in the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia, slightly north of the Betsy Ross Bridge. She pulled over on Richmond Street for a minute or two to go over the background check the clerk had included with her copy of the consulting agreement.

Rainer Barakiel, 33, had immigrated to the United States from Germany nine years previous. The owner of several offshore companies, he was known for his philanthropy, especially his support of the Philadelphia Orchestra and environmental organizations. He was also known for his avid pursuit of antique bladed weapons, no matter the cost. The man spent a lot of money on violins as well, the kind that had names. Her information did not include a picture. Zan wondered what a guy who collected weapons and violins would look like.

Probably nerdy.

She paused to gape for a moment when she arrived at the address. The place could withstand a siege. It was ringed by a high stone wall in front of an even higher line of thick hedges and black alders, with a stand of cherry trees at the west side. It sat behind some kind of disused industrial facility. An elevated pipeline ran along the southern side to the river, next to a few small businesses. The northern boundary was the old course of the Frankford Creek, with the river to the east.

Zan drove through the open gateway to find a huge building made of glass and mismatched wood that extended almost all the way to the river, with two small outbuildings beside it. She figured living on a former industrial site was a small price to pay for all that space and privacy, and those beautiful cherry trees just beginning to bloom.

The front of the main building had a set of massive wooden double doors and a smaller heavy wooden door to the side with the bell. She rang, and when the door opened she forgot she was supposed to speak. He was gigantic, at least six foot eight, with broad shoulders and a lithe, athletic build. A few strands of unruly, mid-length blond hair fell over eyes that seemed to be several shades of blue at once. They drew her in with more than their beauty, as if something primeval was hidden in their depths, just barely restrained. He faintly smiled. She knew her face was getting red.

What the hell. Don’t be such a fool.

“Um, hello, I’m Special Agent Alexandra O’Gara of the FBI.” She stuck out her hand. “My office made an appointment.”

“Yes. I’m Rainer Barakiel. A pleasure to meet you.” His voice was rich and deep and he spoke with a slight accent. When he shook her hand, she held it too long. She still felt flushed.

“I, um, I appreciate you taking the time for this, Mr. Barakiel.”

“I’m happy to help.”

God, so lame. He must have to deal with swooning women all the time, but I doubt he expected it from an FBI agent.

Turning gracefully, he showed her through the door. Zan tried not to stare at the way his jeans fit his hips, or the contours of his muscles beneath his gray cashmere sweater. Gripped by a strong urge to run her hands all over him, she was lucky his place was filled with fascinating things to distract her. Antiques and art were arranged tastefully in the open space, among brown leather couches and chairs and colorful woven rugs. Pale sun from high skylights glinted off a sunburst mosaic above the mantle of a huge concrete fireplace. Zan tried to concentrate on her surroundings, at least until her pulse slowed down.

“What a fantastic place.”

“Thank you.” He dipped his head toward her in an old-fashioned display of manners that she found charming.

“This whole property is great. What was it used for, before you lived here?”

“This land was part of the old Rohm and Haas Chemical plant you can still see as you enter. The facility was shut down in 2010.”

“I wish more people would reclaim these abandoned places by the river. Most of it just goes to waste, and meanwhile they’re developing Chester County farmland.”

“Yes.” He looked at her intensely. “I felt good about redeveloping a brownfield. I had to do a lot of remediation, but now it’s an excellent place to live.”

“All you need now is for the city to buy the front parcel and turn it into a park.” Zan gave him her best sunny smile, with an openness she knew made people trust her.

“That would be ideal,” he replied, “but I’m not holding my breath.” He returned her smile.
My god, you’re beautiful. How are you that beautiful? Why am I here? The knives.

“Um, in the interest of not taking up any more of your time than necessary, these are the knives in question.” Zan held up the case. “Daggers, I think. Did Professor Carson explain where we found them?”

“Superficially, yes.”

“Well, someone conducted some kind of ritual in Independence National Historical Park. We wouldn’t be that concerned with weird people doing weird things at night, but we found a human spleen. We tested the DNA and ran it through the database and discovered that the spleen came from a body found this past winter by the Philadelphia police. All its internal organs had been removed. The police called us because they suspected organ trafficking, but we never found any evidence of it, so we weren’t much help. No one ever filed a missing persons report on this man, and Philly PD was never able to identify the corpse, let alone solve the crime.”

“Disturbing,” he said.

“Very. We thought if you could tell us something about the knives it might give us some insight into what this whole thing was about, maybe generate some sort of lead. They look old, and Professor Carson said you are an expert in antique bladed weapons.”

“Yes. I collect them. I’ve learned a lot over the years.”

“Let’s take a look,” Zan said. He led her to a massive carved table to the left near the kitchen area. She opened the case and laid the daggers out on a cloth. After he leaned down to scrutinize them, he said they were ceremonial daggers and asked if he could pick them up. Zan told him that because they were evidence, he would need to wear latex gloves. She handed him a pair. He tried to put one on for a minute, then frowned at her.

“I’m sorry. It’s too small.”

Zan stared at his hands. They were huge, but not meaty. They looked like they could crush a man’s skull, but also assemble a fine Swiss watch.

Or maybe gently touch me.

She felt the heat rise to her face again. He raised an eyebrow.

“You can use the glove like a handkerchief and just pick it up that way,” she said, fixing her gaze on the floor.

Picking up a dagger, he held it level with his eyes. When he had done the same to all four and they were back in the case, he motioned Zan closer. He showed her the intricate motifs and the manner in which the blades were joined to the hilts. He explained that from these features, he could determine that the blades were ceremonial, made in France in the late 19th century. She struggled to listen to what he was saying. That impossible face was so close, and she could smell him. He smelled like a pristine forest in the spring.

“What kind of ritual was it?” he asked. “These daggers would have been used for ceremonies, like the opening or closing of a formal meeting. They are valuable as antiques but they are not real weapons.”

“We haven’t really explored the evidence in terms of the ritual yet, because we’ve been concentrating on the spleen.” Zan shook her head. “That sounds odd, doesn’t it?”

“It’s an odd situation.”

“If I showed you some crime scene photos, do you think you would have any insight?”

He rubbed his chin. “I might be able to say whether the daggers were related to the ritual.”

“That could be helpful. May I bring them by?” Zan asked, failing to disguise her pleasure at the idea.

“I’m leaving town for a few days tomorrow. Can you come back this evening?”

“Yes, I think so.” She paused to consider for a moment. “I need to remind you that you can’t discuss anything about this with anyone. Did you read the agreement?”

“Yes. I understand that I’ve agreed to keep all this confidential.”

“Good. I should be able to come back around 7:00.”

“I’ll be here. In the meantime, if I may take some photos of these daggers, I can send a few emails. My contacts may be able to discover their provenance.”

“That would be extremely helpful. Just don’t reveal that they were involved in a crime.” He nodded and began to snap pictures of the knives with his phone.

“I have to say, Professor Carson was right,” Zan said. “I’m amazed you were able to identify a time period and a use for those in just a few minutes. I would love to have that kind of expertise. I know a lot about guns because it comes with the job, but I love edged weapons.
They’re so elegant.”

“Yes.” He looked at her intensely again. “Would you like to see my collection?”

“It’s here?”

“Of course.”

“I’d love to.”

Just great, O’Gara. One handsome face and you toss your professionalism right out the window.

They moved to the left, behind the open kitchen, to an ultra-modern staircase of black and silver and honey-toned wood leading to a mezzanine lined with bookshelves. Zan enjoyed following him up the stairs.

Look at that ass. That ass is perfect.

They walked along the mezzanine to a huge sunny room at the back. Zan stood gaping when they entered. Save for several large windows, every square foot of the stucco walls was hung with bladed weapons: axes, pikes, halberds, and swords, mostly swords, in more styles and sizes than Zan knew existed. Wood and glass cases filled with daggers and other small blades sat at the far ends, with an island of leather couches and chairs at the center, rimmed around a thick Persian rug in velvety red.

“This is the coolest room I have ever seen,” she said. He chuckled and thanked her.

That was adorable. God. Get ahold of yourself.

“So, um, Mr. Barakiel, what kind of time span do these weapons represent?” she asked.

“Please, call me Rainer.” Zan flushed and looked up at him. He still had that adorable look on his face, like a little boy showing someone his secret clubhouse. Before she gave a thought to what she was doing, she had asked him to call her Zan.

 “All right, Zan.” He uttered her name in a tone so resonant she wished she could hear him say it over and over. “In answer to your query, my earliest dates from the 8th century, a Saxon sword that I keep in an airtight case.” He gestured toward the left-hand wall. “My most recent, this here, was delivered just last month from Watanabe Korehiro, one of the last master sword makers in Japan.”

“A work of art.” Zan surveyed the sword from different angles. “Do you have favorites?”

“The swords. My favorites are always changing. I loan them to museums on occasion. When they come back I usually become interested in them again.”

“Any favorites at the moment?”

“A few. Here is my perennial favorite.”

Rainer walked several steps to the right and pointed to a simple, heavy broadsword hanging about six feet up the wall, a huge blade of bluish metal that gleamed dully, like platinum.

“I’ve never seen a sword that big before, or metal like that. When was it made?”

“The 15th century. The sword maker was ahead of his time. This steel alloy is immensely strong. It’s a superlative weapon. Would you like to take a closer look?” Rainer reached to take the sword off the wall. He held it out to her.

“Can I touch it without gloves? It must be so expensive.”

“You can’t harm it.”

Zan took the gargantuan blade with both hands and did a simple block stance, then a thrust. Rainer raised both his eyebrows.

“I’m surprised you can lift that to shoulder level.”

“I’m a strong woman.”

“I can see that,” he replied in a low voice. The way he looked at her made Zan almost drop the sword. She adjusted her grip.

“This sword is unbelievably well-balanced.”


Did I just impress him? God, I hope so.

“Ah, see now,” Zan said. “My arms are getting tired, so you weren’t far from right. I could never actually use this sword.” She pivoted and held it out to him with a slight bow. “Your sword, sir.”

Rainer smiled as he took it. Zan realized he hadn’t been smiling before, not a real smile. This time it was like strong sunlight falling on a person who’d been trapped in the bitter cold.
“You’re trained?” he asked.

“A little. I used to study kendo in college, Japanese sword fighting, but I don’t have the time now. For the job, we’re mostly trained in firearms, but we get a decent amount of training in hand-to-hand, some other weapons. How about you? Is your interest more than aesthetic?”

“Yes. I’ve studied the fighting arts since I was a child.”

“Somehow that doesn’t surprise me.”

Rainer tilted his head and regarded her, his lips pressed together.

He doesn’t know what to make of me. I don’t know what to make of him either, but oh, those lips. I better get away from this man. I’m on duty.

About the Author:

Libby Doyle is an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didn’t like it. She escapes the mundane by writing extravagant yarns, filled with sex and violence. She loves absurd humor, travel, punk rock, and her husband.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Wenona's Writing Prompts #writingprompts

"Hurry up and take the damn photo, I'm really cold."

(Sorry I had to post something 'off'- the setting is great, 
the set-up great, the photo should be great for a gothic 
or paranormal tone but her pose and expression just scream discomfort)

Top 5 Songs Guest Blog and Giveaway - His Wolf's Desire by Shannon Nydia

Top 5 Songs from my Playlist for His Wolf’s Desire

I had so much fun writing His Wolf’s Desire. My hero and heroine Brad and Jayla, gave me so much good material to work with! I had just as much fun finding music that “fit” what was happening in their story. Music and writing go together like… (insert any pun you please here). I have to listen to music while I write. I need music playing in the background to help me with my creative process. I created a playlist with sixteen songs, one paired to each chapter. I thought it would be fun to share with you, my 5 favorite songs from my playlist. So here are my top 5 songs that hold a special place in my heart for Brad and Jayla.

5. Maroon 5- Sugar
This is totally Brad’s anthem the whole book. He craves Jayla with every fiber of his soul. Jayla is the addiction he didn’t see coming and he doesn’t know how to cure. Although he initially won’t admit it, she’s the drug he doesn’t want to give up. On a side note, I love Maroon 5. Adam Levine is… (sigh)!

4. Beyonce- Love On Top
What is a playlist without Beyonce?! I adore this song. And it just seemed fitting that this would be Jayla’s happy ending song. This song is such an over the top, singing in the rain, shouting it from the mountaintop, not caring what anyone thinks, type of I LOVE YOU SO MUCH IT HURTS song! And for Jayla, this type of acceptance of her feelings for Brad is a long time coming.

3. Maroon 5- Secret
If I made a movie trailer, this would be the song I would use. This song is so sexy and I think it encompasses the passion and emotional turmoil they are each facing. No matter how hard they try to fight their feelings they can’t control the insatiable need they have for one another.  

2. D’Angelo- How Does It Feel
I feel like I don’t even need to say anything about this song. Do yourself a favor and listen to this song specifically when you read Chapter three. When you get to the sentence that reads, “Yeah. I can do that,” he responded on a shivery exhalation. Press play and listen to this song as you continue to read. You wanna talk about inspiration; this song was P-E-R-F-E-C-T for what goes down. This was hands down my favorite scene to write.

1. Nina Simone- Sugar In My Bowl
So if Brad has an anthem, this is Jayla’s anthem. This is my favorite song on the playlist. I love Nina Simone, but that is an entirely different blog post for another day. When I hear the words of this song, it is just so Jayla. This song is sweet, sassy and conflicted all at the same time. Despite the arguments and the outward appearance of trying to fight what they feel, deep down they both are craving “sugar” from the other person.


His Wolf's Desire
Shannon Nydia

Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural,
Paranormal, Shifters

Publisher: Loose Id Publishing

Date of Publication: April 12, 2016

Cover artist: Syneca Featherstone

ISBN: 978-1-68252-093-2

Word count: 52,383
Page count (PDF): 189

Book Description:

Bradford Dalton and Jayla Stanton are both shifters. Each has their own reason for not wanting to be in a relationship with their own kind. Suddenly finding out that they are mates is a shock to both of them. There’s no way in hell these work enemies will ever be together.

Brad and Jayla are desperate to find a way to coexist with their shifter sides. They just have to contend with the fact they have sexual chemistry that is off the charts. Jayla can turn his body to steel with just a smoldering look. Brad can make Jayla quiver in anticipation with just one touch. You won’t hear either one of them complaining about succumbing to their insatiable need for the other. Sure they can have hot sex which knocks them on their ass, but that doesn’t mean they’ll ever fall for the other. Right?

Excerpt: Chapter One

Holding a stick of gum between his thumb and index finger, Brad vigorously tapped it against his thigh as if he were snuffing out a cigarette. Aware of his neurotic action, he shifted in his seat and braced his elbows on the conference table. He resisted the urge to pound his fists on it. With deliberate care he removed the gum from the wrapper. While his gaze darted back and forth, scanning the scene before him, he crinkled the thin scrap of shiny aluminum foil in his large hand. He squeezed until his forearm started to cramp, then popped the gum in his mouth and shoved the tiny piece of trash into his pocket.
Brad felt it would be best today to distance himself from his colleagues. Secluded inside the glass conference room, he found it easier to control his inner animal. He could feel the urge to shift coursing through his veins. He needed to stay calm.
So while his team members were eager to welcome the arrival of the faction from the Seattle office, he kept a safe distance from the chaos erupting. Chewing his gum, he analyzed everyone coming together, shaking hands, behaving in a cordial fashion.
Fuck cordial.
He wanted to strangle Jayla Stanton with his bare hands. She’d succeeded in administering a major blow to the momentum of his career. He’d worked too damn hard, made too many damn sacrifices, for it all to come to a screeching halt because she chose to be a conniving witch. He didn’t like her, didn’t trust her, and didn’t want anything to do with her.
To add insult to injury, he had a front-row seat to witness her invade his territory. One would think a goddess had descended upon them. The pageantry that surrounded her arrival in Albuquerque left a bitter taste in his mouth. He couldn’t care less that they were colleagues. They were no more teammates than they were friends. Everyone else might kiss her ass, but not him.
He’d been able to avoid Jayla for almost two years by finagling his way out of corporate event after corporate event when he knew she’d be in attendance. Truth be told, he couldn’t trust his control over his anger enough to be anywhere near her.
Unfortunately, Mr. Graybar, the CEO of the firm, let it be known he wanted Brad and Jayla working together for the next week, ensuring the smooth transition of the Maldonado account. This happened to be the very account which began their bitter feud.
Years of research, planning, development, building business relationships, it all went down the drain when she swooped in, breaking every rule in business ethics and etiquette. She’d snatched the account right from under his nose. Landing the Maldonado account would have been his golden ticket straight to the executive office. Instead, he would have to endure playing second fiddle to her.
Brad’s alpha-male nature, too stubborn and prideful to even consider defeat, obliterated from his mind any inkling of leaving the firm. Besides, he loved a good fight, and Jayla had just started a war. He refused to let her ride off into the sunset with his account. If she thought he would play nice, she was in for one hell of a week.
Brad eyeballed a few female colleagues; his hunt came to a spellbinding halt when he zeroed in on a breathtaking beauty. He was finally seeing Jayla in person, and she wasn’t at all what he’d prepared for.
Her rounded nose was balanced perfectly above her supple, pouty lips. Prominent cheekbones and a long slender neck made for a stunning combination. Her rich mocha skin color radiated warmth. Angling her head away from him, she unleashed a striking smile while talking with and charming the pants off members of his team.
His jaw and chest tightened as awareness settled over him. He’d spent so much time abhorring her from afar, and her looks had never mattered to him. Since Jayla started working for his firm, Brad had observed her photos printed in the company newsletters. He’d viewed her profile page on the company website on numerous occasions. But in no way did either of those publications capture the essence of her beauty.
She was absolutely stunning, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her. He watched in an angry trance as she swept her fingers across her forehead, feathering a loose strand of hair into place. Then his mouth went bone dry when she faced in the opposite direction. Her full, round, candy-apple bottom came into view, and a noise sounding an awful lot like a groan scratched out from the pit of his belly. His cock thickened with arousal, annoying the hell out of him.
His instant attraction confused him, and he tried to shame his excited loins into calming down. It would be a cold day in hell before he let her beauty distract him. What was wrong with him? To hell with attraction; she was the enemy.
JAYLA FELT SOMEONE’S eyes boring into her and stiffened in response. She turned in the direction her wolf’s instincts guided her. Sweeping her fingers across her brow, she smoothed the tendrils framing her face.
She found and locked gazes with a fine-ass man sitting alone in a conference room. The blatant hostility in his glare sent goose bumps traveling up and down her arms. If she didn’t already know what he looked like, being the only person in the office who hadn’t greeted her and her team would have been all the evidence she needed. She’d just made eye contact with Bradford Dalton, her adversary.
Gunmetal-blue eyes glued her to where she stood, so exceptional in color she felt hypnotized. She could barely breathe. The intensity of his stare made her hands tremble. She pressed her palms into her skirt in an attempt to steady them, mortified by her reaction to him. There was no love lost between them, but the fact that she literally shook in her high heels just by locking gazes with the man gave her cause for concern.
She’d prepared herself for a plethora of emotions spanning across the anger spectrum but not for the instant attraction she felt for the man the second she laid eyes on him. What was wrong with her?
Brad could spin the facts all he wanted, but the truth of the matter was she’d landed the Maldonado account fair and square. He’d dismissed her as nothing more than a joke when she joined the Seattle office of their firm. For almost two years she’d tried in vain to be a part of his team in Albuquerque.
While Brad plotted his course of action for the Maldonado account, Jayla plotted her course of action to try to get Brad’s professional attention. Ironically, she’d never wanted the account for herself. She’d wanted to work with Brad. Learn from Brad. Be mentored by Brad. Having the chance to work with him was the sole reason she’d wanted to join Graybar and Associates. In the end he’d stayed full of himself, letting the opportunity slip through his fingers. She’d landed the coveted account on her own merit.
Breaking eye contact, Brad’s gaze traveled the scope of her body. Tingles prickled her skin, making her suit’s thick tweed material cumbersome and uncomfortable. His gaze crawled along her curves, making her feel exposed. It irritated her how sensitive and receptive her body seemed to be to his fixation. Just because Brad turned out to be easy on the eyes didn’t change one damn thing between them. No matter how handsome the face glaring at her was, he hated her, and the feeling was mutual.
She chastised herself for behaving as if she’d never been given the once-over by a man before. But Brad’s raw gaze unnerved her, fracturing her renowned poise.
She swallowed hard as she willed her hands to stay stuck to her sides and not sweep across her face again. Trying to gain control of the situation, Jayla decided two could play this game. She wouldn’t let him intimidate her. Waiting until his eyes found hers, she tightened her jaw, tilted her head and, with defiance, inspected him right back.
Since he was sitting, she could only appraise his upper half. But boy oh boy… What an upper half to assess. His nose, a straight line from the top of the bridge to the slightly aquiline tip, appeared almost regal. She studied his full bottom lip, larger than the slimmer top half. Short, dark-brown hair, styled as if he combed his fingers through it in the shower, completed his model good looks.
She bit the inside of her mouth to keep from gaping. Never in a million years had Jayla imagined Brad looked like that in person. His online depictions were a travesty compared to his real-life appearance. Now she didn’t know what she found more disappointing: the fact that someone she once admired turned out to be a chauvinistic ass, or the fact that seeing him in person made her wish she possessed naked pictures of his chauvinistic ass.
Brad personified the self-centered ambition she detested about the business world. Men like him made her blood boil. It didn’t matter one iota that he was too fine for his own damn good. On an exhalation, she made herself refocus on the melee at hand.
Team members from both sides began filing into the conference room Brad ruminated in, putting an end to Brad and Jayla’s rubbernecking. Taking advantage of every extra second to collect herself, Jayla lingered and waited to join the meeting last of all. Blowing out a long, shaky breath, she felt her nerves kick into high gear.
Two quick vibrations from her cell phone, indicating she’d just received an e-mail, gave her a valid reason to delay her grand entrance. Grateful for the interruption, she pulled the thin phone from the front pocket of her jacket, opened the e-mail app, and proceeded to read.
The meeting should be getting underway soon. Sorry I’m not there. I have both my phone and computer on the ready if you need anything. Attached in this e-mail is a copy of your presentation notes in case you misplaced them. This is your show. Don’t let Dalton intimidate you. I’ll be in bright and early tomorrow. Remember, when it comes to Brad…it’s on like Donkey Kong!
Holding back a smile, Jayla wanted to thank Monica for e-mailing her, giving her the distraction she needed to help settle her nerves. Monica was a brilliant corporate lawyer and one hell of a colleague. The two of them were sisters in arms in the male-dominated business world. Although they didn’t get to work together as much as they would have liked, they always had each other’s back. Once Jayla knew for sure she’d secured her transfer to the Albuquerque office, she’d done everything in her power to ensure Monica would be part of her team. She’d gotten her wish, but Monica had been bumped from their flight to Albuquerque. Due to the airline error, she wouldn’t be arriving until very late that evening.
Knowing she couldn’t delay any longer, Jayla pushed her phone back into her pocket and headed toward the lion’s den. She stepped into the conference room and took the one seat available to her. Either by sheer coincidence or by intended design, the seat across from Brad remained the lone chair left unoccupied. Person after person passed it up, not even daring to look in its direction. As colleagues intentionally avoided the hot seat, the tension in the room became so thick Jayla thought they would become blinded by it. On-edge associates on both sides of the fence exchanged anxious glances.
Noticing everyone focusing on her, she set her briefcase on the table and offered Brad a tight smile paired with a curt nod. The man had the audacity to arch one eyebrow in response. The lights dimmed, and a video presentation began, directing attention to the large projection screen. Camouflaged as she was by the darkness, no one noticed her grip on her briefcase tighten and her plastered fake smile slip a fraction. She fought the urge to lunge across the table and choke him. Instead, she pulled her phone out of her pocket, turned off the ringer, and placed it inside her briefcase. Once seated, she directed her attention to the screen.
IT DIDN’T TAKE long for Jayla’s subtle vanilla-orchid scent to settle upon Brad. His nose flared the second her delicate and sensual fragrance hit him. He wasn’t one to react to a woman’s perfume, yet her aroma caressed his attention away from the video. Unable to help himself, he peeked out the corners of his eyes in her direction. Once again she swept her fingers across her face, smoothing her hair. Suspecting the action a nervous habit, he felt himself wanting to smirk in satisfaction, knowing she wasn’t as confident as she tried to appear. She crossed her arms on top of the table, and her hands captivated him as she scraped her delicate fingertips across her jacket. Surprising himself, he imagined what it would feel like to have her scoring her nails across his back while she wrapped her legs around his waist, taking him to the hilt.
Without warning, his canines lengthened. Flinching from the shock of his sexual fantasy and his physical reaction to her, he drew unwanted attention to himself. A few of his team members gave him concerned glances, peering at him through squinted eyes in the darkened room. Placing his elbows on the table, he crossed one hand on top of the other, hiding his mouth in his palms as he nodded, trying like hell to appear normal.
Never in his life had his teeth elongated around a group of nonshifters. He could recall a handful of times in his youth when his canines had come out while in the presence of shifters, but always in reaction to being provoked to fight. Now, in his adulthood, once in a while his teeth had a mind of their own when he was alone, but they knew better than to come out of hiding here. No one at his job knew he was a shifter. In fact, no one he acquainted himself with knew he was a shifter. He didn’t have anything against shifters; he just didn’t like living as one. In his opinion, the disadvantages far outweighed the advantages. Although the existence of shifters was a known fact, the misguided perceptions were at times annoying. There were parts of his life Brad didn’t want to have to explain.
His self-control over his inner animal, something he prided himself on, approached a point of no return. It would serve her right if he let her witness the beast inside him. He’d be fired for sure, but at least he’d get to give her the scare of her life. Growing angry that she continued to affect him, he turned his head, giving the evil apparition sitting in front of him his full attention.
JAYLA’S PULSE SPIKED the second she got her first whiff of the manly musk radiating off Brad. The man smelled of carnal sin. His spicy scent delighted her nose, wreaking havoc on her libido. Her thick jacket hid her pebbling nipples and swelling breasts. She clamped her legs together underneath the table, trying to ward off the twinges of lust tickling her pussy. Feeling Brad’s gaze on her, Jayla’s mouth began to water as her canines extended. Panicking, she leaned back in her chair, crossed one arm over her midsection, and rested the elbow of the other on her fist; she covered her mouth with her free hand, trying to pretend to be deep in thought. No one at her job knew she was a shifter. If she shifted into her wolf, it’d be a hell of a way to out herself and probably get fired in the process. The thought of Brad pissing his pants in terror when he found out the person he’d been trying to bully was a she-wolf consoled her for a split second. But she knew she couldn’t let that happen now. Unable to help herself, she turned her head toward him, and their gazes locked.
Unexpected images of the two of them making love flashed through her mind like a silent movie: She imagined her naked curves draped over Brad’s body as she rode him. Depictions of Brad pounding into her doggy style swamped her consciousness. The erotic visualizations caused her animalistic nature to surface.
Deep from within the inner intricacies of their wolves, she heard them both growl. To their human colleagues sitting around them, it sounded like hungry stomachs calling for food. But the low, distinctive sound vibrating from the heart and soul of one wolf to another… Shifters knew this sonance—their bodies calling out to their…
Brad’s startled gaze met hers, and their eyes widened as the reality of the situation became obvious to both of them. Jayla’s canines retracted once her human side understood what her wolf had known from the second she’d made eye contact with Brad: they were mates.
Jayla felt her control over her wolf return, so she rose, grabbing her briefcase. Trancelike, she headed out of the conference room, needing to get away from him. Once out of sight she quickened her pace, speed-walking to safety.
Rounding the corner, Jayla passed the elevators, seeking the heavy metal door leading to the stairwell. She burst through, needing solitude to compose herself. The thunderous sound of the heavy door clanking shut gave her a sense of relief. Her gasps heaved in and out of her chest. Bending over, she dropped her briefcase and clutched at her heart in desperation.

Of all the shifters in the world…he was her mate? A man she despised. Dread tore through her body at the thought of Brad Dalton being the supposed keeper of her heart. No effing way. Not on her watch.

About the Author:

Shannon Nydia grew up in a military family. Her father served in the U.S. Air Force and she was fortunate enough to be stationed all over the United States. Her love of travel and experiencing new places only encouraged her overactive imagination. Shannon is a self-described dreamer and hopeless romantic. She thoroughly enjoys getting swept up in a good story. Shannon loves reading, watching romantic movies and food… not necessarily in that order! She adores strong but feminine female characters and has a soft spot for hunky alpha males.
Shannon is a married mother of two, and loves spending time with her family.

She loves hearing from her readers!

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Cover Reveal Worthy of Song and Story by Neal Chase

Worthy of Song and Story
Stian the Viking Series
Book  One
Neal Chase

Middle Grade Fantasy

Publisher: Fiery Seas Publishing

Winter 2016

 Book Description:

Twelve year-old Stian’s plans to be The Greatest Viking Ever appear to be over before they even begin. He’s captured by Dahlia—a dark elf and a girl. If that wasn’t bad enough, he discovers he may be the son of Loki, the greatest enemy of the Viking gods and the one foretold to bring about the end of the world.

Knowing he is meant to be extraordinary, Stian decides to discover the truth for himself and free Loki from the clutches of Odin. Only then, will he discover who he is and what he is meant to do.

Stian must out-think, misguide, and defeat Thor’s children. To do this he will need the power of Gram—a sword with magical powers. There is one catch, only one pure of heart with the desire to help others, is worthy of wielding it. If Stian succeeds, he will become the world’s most famous Viking, but if he fails he will fall victim to the gods’ merciless justice.

About the Author:

Neal Chase lives in San Antonio, Texas, with his wife, two children, two dogs, and a bird, which strangely has the same name as his dad. He is a member of SCBWI and the Writers’ League of Texas. When he is not writing and reading, you can find Neal coaching football or adventuring with the help of his PlayStation.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Wenona's Writing Prompts #writingprompts

Only the crow knows.

Release Day Blitz The Patient Wolf by Karen Hodges Miller

The Patient Wolf
Wicked Urban Fantasy
Book One
Karen Hodges Miller

Genre: paranormal romance

Publisher: Can’t Put it Down Books

Date of Publication: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9972024-2-7

Number of pages: 160
Word Count: 42,225

Cover Artist: Genevieve Cosdon

Book Description:

The small town of Rivelou is hiding secrets, and they are about to claw their way to the surface.

Ana Dugan used to enjoy her nighttime walks through her quaint college town, but all of that changes when a handsome stranger rescues her from an attack. She’s not sure who she should be more afraid of the four legged beast who attacked her or the two legged one who saved her. She narrowly escapes, but soon learns that others weren’t so lucky.

When another man enters her life claiming he’s there to protect her she’s not sure who she should trust, the wolf or the hunter.

The Patient Wolf Chapter 1

Ana breathed in the early autumn air as she headed away from the university and onto the darker streets of the neighboring suburb. It was an older neighborhood, built in the 1920’s when the town of Rivelou had begun to spread from its central location on the river across the railroad tracks to the north. This particular section of the town had been built for the railroad workers, with tiny shotgun houses lined up on even tinier lawns.
As Ana crossed Roosevelt Avenue and headed into her own neighborhood, the streetlights ended and the sidewalk became lighted only by an occasional porch light or walk light. She loved walking home from her night classes at this time of the year. The air, while it could not yet be called crisp, had lost its summer sultriness, a welcome change from the blistering heat of a Midwest summer.
And these walks home after her night classes were one of the few times during her week when she could be truly alone. No bosses, no teachers, not even Sophie chattering away in her ear. She’d been a mom long enough not to feel guilty at enjoying a a little time alone without her child. Her thirteen-year-old daughter was the light of her life, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t enjoy a little time by herself, too.
As she headed down Harlan Street, farther from the more heavily trafficked avenue, the street became even darker. It was too soon for most of the leaves to have fallen, they were just beginning to turn red on this last week in September and they were so thick on the trees that they hid the full moon. Part of the charm of the old neighborhood was the beautiful, large old maples and oaks, but their roots also tore up the sidewalks. Ana tripped on one of those cracks, and shook her head in disgust. How could she always trip in the same spot, night after night? It wasn’t as if she hadn’t memorized the bad spots in the sidewalk after years of walking this way.
She smiled; only one more year of classes and, with luck, she wouldn’t be taking this same walk anymore. She would have her teaching degree, be able to quit her job as an admin at the university, and start a new life with her daughter, maybe somewhere else. She would enjoy teaching, preferably high school, but she’d take whatever grade she could get to start. Sophie would miss her friends; they would both miss their family. They’d come back a lot to visit. She was sure of that—her family, particularly her grandfather, would certainly insist on it. But it would be nice to start over. Of course, Jonathan, her ex, would probably object if she moved even to the next county. The one good thing she could say for the man was he always fulfilled his obligations to their daughter, even if it was only because he thought about running for political office someday and didn’t want to ruin his reputation with the other lawyers and judges in Rivelou.
She shook her head as if to change the direction her daydreams had taken her and sidestepped another large crack in the sidewalk. She wasn’t going to let thoughts of Jonathan ruin a lovely evening. Maybe after Sophie was in bed she’d have a chance to get outside again and enjoy the full moon and beautiful weather. She wouldn’t indulge herself in a run; she couldn’t leave Sophie alone, but some time out in her backyard to appreciate the full moon would be good.
She stopped and looked around, working to regain her pleasure in the evening, when she heard a low growl nearby.
A dog? No one on this block had a dog big enough to make that sort of sound. That growl had definitely come from something larger than Mrs. Ahearn’s yappy little Pomeranian. She began to walk more quickly. Only a half block until she turned onto Sycamore, then another half block until she arrived at her own home.
The growl came again. She tucked her purse more securely on her left shoulder, her computer bag on her right, and doubled her pace. There were no lights on at any of the houses on that part of the block, and of course, the moon took that moment to hide behind a cloud. She took a deep breath and tried to walk at a steady pace. She wouldn’t run, even though she could hear the animal behind her as she rounded the corner. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw her own porch light on, as well as that of her neighbors, Joe and Lindsey, who kept Sophie evenings when Ana had class. Only a few more steps to safety.
She was almost in front of her own door when she heard the rush of paws with nails clicking on the sidewalk. With a howl, the animal knocked her down.
She held her computer case in front of her face, “Take a bite of that, you nasty beast,” she said, pushing the case at its huge, dark head. It was all teeth and glowing eyes as it stood over her, growling. “What do you want?” she shouted.
Though it had her on the ground, it didn’t make a move, just stood gazing at her. Somehow she sensed if she did move, it would strike. She had to do something. She drew a deep breath and prepared to scream when she heard someone running up behind her.
“Hey, you, get back! Get back!” She turned her head and saw a man come running toward her and the slobbering animal. The man grabbed a stick from the ground and waved it at the animal as he rushed forward. “Back! Get back, you ugly beast!” he shouted again, striking the creature who turned, snarling at him. They stared intently at each other for a moment when the dog finally dodged the stick and lunged to take a bite out of the man.
The man got in a couple of good blows before the dog suddenly grabbed the stick, tugged at it, and knocked the man to the ground. Ana decided it was time to take action. She fumbled through her purse as the dog leaned back on its haunches preparing to strike. Just before he lunged on the fallen man Ana found her can of mace and hit the dog in the face with the noxious spray. With howl of pain, it ran into the darkness.
Several more porch lights suddenly popped on to light the night, and the street was filled with neighbors coming to check on the unusual commotion.
“Are you all right?” her rescuer, still gasping and out of breath, asked. “It didn’t bite you, did it?” He made his way to his feet and held his hand out to her.
“No, no. I’m fine,” Ana replied as she was suddenly bowled over by an armful of an anxious thirteen-year-old. “Mom, mom, are you okay?” Sophie asked.
“What happened?” her neighbor, Joe, questioned her at the same moment.
“It was a dog. A huge one. I’ve never seen it before. This man chased it away,” she said, turning to the man who was wiping his face with a handkerchief and coughing.
“I think you were the one who chased it away. Wish you’d had a little better aim with the mace, but under the circumstances I don’t think I can complain,” he said between coughs.
“Hey, are you okay?” Joe asked, looking the man over. “You’d better come in and let us take a look at you. My wife’s a nurse. She can check you out. Just a whiff of that stuff can be torture on the eyes.”
“No, I’m fine, I’ll …” he protested, but Ana cut him off.
“I insist. If it wasn’t for you, I’d have been bitten by that animal.”
“I think we’d better make a police report,” Joe said as they headed for his house. “Joe Lessing,” he added, holding out his hand to the stranger. “And this is our neighbor, Ana Dugan, and her daughter, Sophie.”
“Good to meet you. Chris Spier,” the man said, shaking hands with Joe as they reached the porch. At the top of the steps he turned to Ana, where, under the porch light, she got her first real look at her rescuer.
He was just shy of six feet, with the build of teddy bear, the kind you’d like to give a big hug and take to bed with you, Ana thought, then inwardly blushed. Where had that thought come from? She didn’t have time for men. It wasn’t that he was soft, or fat, she added, mentally adjusting her initial teddy bear image. He was muscular, and he had a kind face, soft brown eyes, shaggy light brown hair and beard, both of which needed a trim. There was something about his worn khakis and wrinkled plaid flannel shirt that said he wasn’t used to being cared for.
“I’m so sorry if I hurt you,” Ana said, taking his hand. Chris held onto it until Joe said, “Come on in. You need to wash off that mace.”

He guided Chris into a small, warm living room and back to a kitchen where Sophie was animatedly, if with little accuracy, describing the incident to Joe’s wife and daughter.

About the Author:

Karen Hodges Miller’s fascination with werewolves, vampires, witches, ghosts, and all things supernatural began with the childhood classics. She gobbled up everything from The Haunting of Hill House to the Narnia series, from Dracula to Rebecca. As a writer, however, she stuck to non-fiction; working as a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor and in 2004 opening her own publishing company.

She has written several books for authors on the subject of writing and publishing. The Patient Wolf is her first fiction novel and of course, it features a very sexy werewolf.

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