Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Linda Reilly's Next Big Thing

My friend and former writing student, Linda Reilly, is guest-blogging with me today to post about her WIP for the Next Big Thing blog chain.

First, a big thank you to Kris Neri for “tagging” me for the Next Big Thing Blog!  Kris has graciously allowed me to post on her blog, since I don’t yet have one.

What is your working title of your book?

At the moment it’s Hot-Diggity Dead-Ziggity.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book is the second in the Apple Mariani mystery series, and I think of it as a natural progression from the ending of Some Enchanted Murder, which will be released early in 2013. My main character will be tackling some tough emotional dilemmas, and I’m enjoying writing those scenes. The mystery itself will explore old hatreds and long-held grudges, one of which will trigger the murder.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely a cozy mystery, with an amateur sleuth and a nutty aunt for a sidekick.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I usually don’t think in terms of a movie rendition, but I’ve always pictured my main character as somewhat of Drew Barrymore lookalike, perhaps with a bit less glamor. Apple has the depth of personality—the resourcefulness and kindness—that radiates from Drew Barrymore and from the characters she portrays, and I think that’s why I’ve always pictured Apple that way in my mind.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When Apple Mariani’s elderly friend Lillian goes suddenly missing after an appraiser is murdered at an estate sale, Apple knows she has to track down Lillian before a desperate killer finds her first.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I sold my first book to Five Star Publishing (a part of Cengage Learning) without an agent, but was recently fortunate enough to sign up with Jessica Faust at BookEnds, LLC, and I’m absolutely thrilled. Jessica will represent me in all future submissions.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m actually still completing the first draft. Working on other projects in between has slowed me down, but I hope to complete it by the time the first installment in the “Apple" series is released.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It’s tough to compare, since my cozy doesn’t have the hook of a typical cozy mystery, such as crocheting, or knitting, or bread-baking. My main character is a paralegal/title examiner, and part of her daily grind is dealing with title searches and real estate closings. It’s her knowledge of her field that helps her uncover the final clue leading to the killer. Maybe the best way to describe it is simply as a New England cozy.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It was mostly the main character herself who inspired me, with her unresolved issues of the past. There is also a romantic development that I wanted to explore, and it’s turning out to be a lot of fun.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Since Hot-Diggity is a sequel, I think readers might enjoy Apple’s bumpy, emotional journey through a long overdue reunion—along with all of the surprises and angst that entails. There’s also a creepy old abandoned school that plays a role in the plot, and which I hope will appeal to mystery lovers.

And now, here are the authors I have tagged:

June Shaw is author of eight books, including a series of humorous mysteries and her most recent novel a suspense APPROACHING MENACE, which one reviewer compared to work by Mary Higgins Clark. She shares a blog with a number of mystery writers here:

Lesley A. Diehl is a retired psychologist who writes cozy mysteries featuring country gals with sass. Visit her website at and her blog

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Next Big Thing -- Learn What I'm Working on Now

The charming and generous Donis Casey tagged me for this Next Big Thing blog chain. Donis is not only a talented historical mystery author, whose Alafair Tucker mystery series has achieved well-deserved success, she’s a sweet person who posted her own Next Big Thing last week that I'm sure you'll enjoy reading. You'll find that link further down.

At the end of this blog, I’ll also tag other writers who will tell you about their Next Big Thing next week, or at some subsequent date. Each of us will answer the same ten questions about our upcoming books. 

Here are those questions:

1. What is your working title of your book?:

The working title for my current WIP, which I’m pretty sold on as the permanent title, is WHERE THE ROCKS BLEED RED.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I credit the breathtaking red rocks of Sedona, Arizona for my inspiration, and the history I’ve learned about the original, prehistoric peoples who regarded this land that I cherish as sacred. WHERE THE ROCKS BLEED RED is a contemporary story, but it has deep roots in the past, in some cases, roots that go all the way back to the early peoples who lived on this land. 

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a thriller with supernatural overtones.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmmm…. I would cast Cote de Pablo from the NCIS TV show as my protagonist, Colt Tanner, and Brad Pitt as Erik Wolf, her love interest. Or someone equally cute for Erik, and perhaps a bit brooding. Colt needs to be a woman who is on the small side, with darkish coloring, and who gives off a great feeling of individuality and strength, albeit with a reckless streak.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When a desperate daughter takes an unconventional path to keep her vegetative father alive, she unearths a secret that could prove deadly to her and others, which demonstrates that the roots of greed ripple through every culture and that secrets corrupt even after generations.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m a traditionally published author, and I intend to remain so. I have not tried to sell WHERE THE ROCKS BLEED RED yet.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It’s hard to say precisely. I write two mystery series, my Tracy Eaton mysteries and my Samantha Brennan & Annabelle Haggerty magical mysteries. WHERE THE ROCKS BLEED RED was my back-burner book for a long time, but now, as I’m entering into the final draft, it’s demanding to be front and center in my focus. I would estimate I’ve invested eight to ten months writing and researching the earlier version, spread out over several years.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It follows in the tradition of the late Tony Hillerman and Margaret Coel, but it employs more of a thriller pace than mystery, with a thriller’s greater sense of danger.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

It may sound awfully woo-woo, but the red rock energy of Sedona really did inspire me. While sitting on rock off a hiking trail one day the basic premise and the major characters just came to me. I should also credit my husband Joe for encouraging me to write it. Because the storyline and the characters just walked into my mind, it almost seemed too easy — I’m used to struggling with story setup! But Joe felt it had such a strong premise, it deserved to see print.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The Native American history and perspective should interest some readers. I also wanted to address the question of when is a person still alive and when should we let them go; basically, when does the body just become a shell — some people should find that intriguing. Lastly, I suspect lots of readers will vicariously enjoy the idea of rushing off somewhere and reinventing your life. I’ve enjoyed experiencing that along with the character!

Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Here’s Donis Casey’s Next Big Thing blog:

And here are the people I’m tagging:

Kate Wyland is the author of Wyoming Escape, a Triple H Ranch mystery:

Lori Hines, paranormal mystery author:

Linda S. Reilly, author of Some Enchanted Murder, will be guest-blogging here on my blog next Monday, December 3: 

Sally Carpenter, author of the Eureka! Award-nominated mystery The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper," who will blog on December 12 at:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Real Life Mysteries

When you consider that I write paranormal fiction, in addition to humorous traditional mysteries, and that I really love fantasy fiction, I have no fondness for real life encounters with things that go bump in the night, or any other time.

When you write or read fantasy, it’s not necessary to believe in any of it. That’s why it’s called fantasy. You can buy into some of it, or just enjoy a trip to another world, that might be similar to ours, but really different in other ways, without believing in any of it.

I used to maintain a strictly skeptical bent on all things woo-woo. Although some questionable things did happen to me on occasion, I always found another way to explain them. I’ve also had prophetic dreams, but I wrote those off to coincidences.

Then we had an author come to sign at our bookstore, who was an EMT who claimed she communed with those who had passed over while she tried to help them during the course of doing her job. I didn’t necessarily believe, although I figured she did. I even enjoyed her nonfiction book, although I approached it as if it were fiction.

But when she appeared before the sizeable crowd she drew, a round shadow suddenly popped up on the wall behind her, where there was nothing to cast a shadow. To say I was freaked was a criminal understatement. I kept trying to find a logical explanation, but logic totally eluded me.

After the author left, I tentatively broached the subject of that distinctive orb cast on the wall with a customer. “Oh, sure, that was an entity,” the customer said. “I figured she brought it along with her.”

Wasn’t that nice of her? Shouldn’t she have asked permission first?

In all the years we operated our bookstore out of that suite, which was more than six, I never again saw anything like that, but neither was I able to forget it, or explain it away. Maybe there really are more things in heaven and earth… Even if this paranormal writer doesn’t want to believe it. I wish that incident were unique, but I experienced too, too many things I can’t explain.

We recently encountered another real life mystery that proved to be just as troubling and just as perplexing. While in New Mexico on vacation, we had repeated problems with a super loud TV in the room next door every night. While it playing at different hours, but the TV was always tuned to a soccer game. 

We put up with it one night. When it was repeated the next night, my husband initially went next door to talk to our inconsiderate neighbors. He knocked over and over, but no one answered. By then the TV was at a staggering volume, so he assumed they simply couldn’t hear. He went downstairs to report to someone at the desk, while I remained in our room.

While he was gone, the TV went off. Joe came back with the night manager, who insisted there weren’t any guests registered in that room. We thought that an employee might have used his passkey to enter it, and used that place to hide out and watch a soccer game when he was supposed to be on duty. But the night manager, insisted that there was no indication that anyone had used the room since it was made-up by the maid days earlier.

Maybe so, maybe not. Neither Joe nor I had gone into the room with him, so we weren’t able to verify it either way. The TV had gone off by then, which was all we cared about.
Next night, same thing. Televised soccer game played at maximum volume, though at a different time than the night before. This time Joe went straight downstairs. With the night manager off that night, the head of security accompanied him back upstairs.

Joe entered that room with the security guy. The TV was still on, still playing at full volume, airing another soccer game. But the room was dark. When they turned on the lights, the condition of the room was perfect. As the night manager had insisted the night before, there was no sign that anyone had ever sat on the bed to watch the game. There was nothing to indicate anyone had entered the room at all, apart from those checking on a TV that seemed to turn itself on.

Joe pulled the plug on the TV, and it never bothered us again, although we only spent one more night there. The security man maintained there was no way to program the TV to either go on or go off with the remotes the hotel provided. I’m still looking for that logical explanation, though. Maybe there were other remotes that the staff had access to, which had greater capabilities. Maybe some guest in another room had a way of activating TV sets through the wall or from across the hall, just to play with people’s heads. Maybe someone really did sneak in and out quietly, watching soccer games in stealth, and taking pains to leave the room in faultless condition.

The security officer also said that the hotel maids report that strange things often happen in that wing and floor of the hotel. Weren’t we lucky to be placed there?

I’m still clinging to any one of the logical explanations I’ve managed to come up with. But it’s getting harder.

What do you believe? Have you had encounters you can’t explain?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Test Driving Characters

I never set out to test drive potential novel characters in short stories, it just worked out that way. When Tracy Eaton, detective wannabe and the offspring of eccentric Hollywood stars, and her over-the-top actress mother, Martha Collins, walked onto the page of my short story, “LA. Justice,” which you can read on my website by clicking that link, I hadn’t yet written a novel. I had published a dozen or so stories at that point, though, so it was only natural that I would put them first into that form.

Had I been a more experienced writer, I might have noticed that when I finished that story, it was significant that I didn’t feel finished with Tracy and Martha. I felt I knew so much more about them than the story’s action called for. But it was only after the story won the Derringer Award, and readers told me I should put those characters into a novel, that it occurred me to give them their first novel-length adventure. Next March, they’ll make their fourth full-length outing, along with the other characters that have come out of this series, in Revenge on Route 66. And they still find so much to show me about themselves.

I’ve done this many times now. Zoey Morgan, the edgy, troubled triathletes protagonist of my standalone thriller, Never Say Die, made two short story appearances before she told me I knew her well enough to explore the background that I only hinted at in those stories, in effect making the novel a prequel to the stories. Unusual, perhaps, but it worked. Zoey also told me I’d spelled her name wrong in the original publication of those stories, that she was Zoey, not Zoe, which I’ve now corrected in all of her appearances. You'll find one of those stories, "Deadly Obsessions," on my website as well.

Samantha Brennan and Annabelle Haggerty, the fake psychic and Celtic goddess/FBI agent who star in my Magical Mystery Series, High Crimes on the Magical Plane and Magical Alienation, were also born in a short story, "Showtime on the Winter Solstice," which you'll also find on my website. 

At times I’ve approached it the other way — I’ve started stories thinking their protagonists might make engaging novel characters. I once created a mouthy, yet naïve, ex-nun, who inherits a rundown P.I. firm on sleazy Hollywood Boulevard, in “Nun in the Shadows.” That character, Lynn James, and her circumstances, and the short story in which they appeared, seemed to contain the most ideal setup for a darker cozy that could straddle the light/edgy line. But it didn’t happen. I realized by the ending of that story that while I enjoyed our time together, I just wasn’t eager to repeat it. I discovered not merely that I didn’t know much about ex-nuns, but that I also didn’t want to learn any more than I knew.

It happened again with “Audition for Murder.” That character, Lorna Doone, an unemployed actress, who keeps the boat afloat by delivering singing cookie-grams and giving tours of cemeteries where the Hollywood famous and infamous are buried, also seemed idea for a new series. Again, while I liked her a lot and had such fun with her antics, by the time the story was finished, I felt our relationship had run its course.

I’ve come to see it’s not the story’s action and circumstances that will determine whether it will jump to novel length, no matter how good the setup seems. It’s the characters, the connection we feel, the spark we seem to share. It’s whether those characters are too big, too fully formed, to be contained at story-length.

I recently shared that spark with a character again. As a bookseller, I’ve long had an idea of how to use books and a bookstore as part of a crime that extends beyond the bookstore’s walls. But while I’d worked out most aspects of how the bad guys made use of books, I simply never felt inclined to write the story. I came to believe that story idea was merely an intellectual exercise I engaged in from behind my bookstore’s cash wrap, while waiting for a long, slow afternoon to end.

But then I read the submission guidelines for the latest anthology published by my Sisters in Crime chapter, the Desert Sleuths of Scottsdale, AZ. All at once, an engaging character popped into my head, complete with a detailed history, a quirky voice, and an injustice she’d suffered. That character, Plum Tardy, infused the intellectual exercise of my bookstore-connection with emotional color. She made that story, “The Power of Books,” come to life. I’m thrilled that “The Power of Books” made it into through the blind submission of our chapter’s anthology, SoWest: Desert Justice, which just debuted.

And now I find that I want to know more about Plum and the background she shared in the course of my writing that story. I want to explore it with her.

Will we write a novel together? I hope so, but I don’t know. The characters seem to decide. 

Writers, how about you? How do you test drive your characters?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mercury, you X#&% devil!

Mercury is just coming out of retrograde.  Can’t come too soon for me. I’m used to little electronic oddities popping up during Mercury retrogrades -- broadband slows down,  small, inexplicable changes appear in files, computer applications behave in atypical ways, and other electronic roadblocks show up that require some little time to get around them. But this time, Mercury, that blankety-blank devil,  has really beaten up the Neri household in a memorable way.

Back when I was younger and more of a skeptic, I considered all this doomsday talk about Mercury retrogrades to be pure hooey. The trouble was that even if I didn’t believe in it, my electronics and appliances did. If my appliances were going to break, they did it then. If my electronics were going to burp, those burps also came during retrograde periods. Hey, I might have been a skeptic, but I wasn’t stupid – even I could see the pattern that kept emerging.

If I weren’t a believer now, I sure would be after this current retrograde period. Our biggest mishap was that our bookstore (we own The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona, AZ) crashed, taking with it our Point of Sale software, the only way we have to conduct our business, and the only record of our inventory. It took three dawn-to-dark, exhausting days, two computer consultants and numerous calls to tech support, but at the end of it, we were up and running again. Since then my own personal computer has been doing odd things, such as renaming folders, changing them from words that describe that folder’s contents to a random assortment of letters, and has been falling into such a deep sleep, it’s almost impossible to wake it. The bright red LED lettering on my car’s radio/CD player has faded into oblivion. And finally, my brand new external disk drive developed a glitch. Those last few might seem minor by comparison, but I like knowing what my computer’s folders contain without having to guess, and it’s useful to know what my CD player is playing just by looking. Mostly, though, I’m fed up with electronic mishaps.

A sidecasualty in the Mercury-electronic-failings is that they take with us our confidence in those pieces of hardware and software. The absolute certainty we typically maintain that when we turn them on, they’ll always operate as we expect them to. When serious problems occur, that confidence can be replaced by a knot in the gut, and is often responsible for a financial outlay. Either a little, or in our case this time, a lot of money.
I’ve been told that retrogrades are merely planetary slowdowns, but with my schedule, I can’t afford to go any slower. I’ve also been told that retrogrades  are times meant to teach us lessons. I can’t deny that. The backup software operating  in our store’s computer was part of a package we bought from a company providing bookstore POS software. We were assured it would save the day if the worst-case scenario occurred. It didn’t. So we did learn something important, albeit at a high price, financially and emotionally. Now we’ve rectified that with what we think is stronger backup system. I’m grateful for that, although I wish that lesson could have come in a less dramatic fashion.

Sure, I know other planets retrograde as well, but that never seems to affect things the way Mercury retrogrades do. What’s crazy is that Mercury is the ruling planet of Gemini – and my husband Joe is a Gemini, and I have Gemini rising. Maybe Mercury expects more from us. I have news for that $%&# devil – I expect more from it, too.

How about you? Have you had any retrograde mishaps?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summertime Blues

When I was a kid, I remember a science teacher telling us that the Earth would gradually keep moving closer to the sun until it eventually burned up.

Are we there yet?

I must confess that summer is my least favorite of all the seasons, with fall and spring being my favorites. I have a sometimes-contentious relationship with the sun, both too much and too little of it.

In my early adult years I lived in San Francisco. There is a reason why San Francisco is called “America’s Favorite City.” It is absolutely beautiful, sometimes breathtakingly so. But the picturesque fog and I didn’t always live in joyous harmony. Day after day of gray skies dampened my mood. Summers there also aren’t like summers in most places. I can speak to that. I remember the tourists, in their shorts and T-shirts, freezing in San Francisco’s cool, frequently foggy and windy summer weather, looking for sweaters to buy in department stores. Remember the quote that's usually attributed to Mark Twain? "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco." Twain wasn't exaggerating.

I discovered when I moved to Southern California that I’m a natural sun person. Too many days of not soaking in those rays makes me gloomy. But even still, at this point in the summer, like many of us, I often grow heat-weary. When I happened to be feeling particularly grouchy about the summer weather, I used to say when I lived in Southern California that I lived in the part of town where we made heat for hell.

Then I moved to Arizona, and I discovered what it really takes to make heat for hell. Though I live well north of it, where we just make heat for Purgatory, the last time I had a speaking gig in Phoenix in late June, the temperature reached 115 degrees. Really? Sure, it’s a often dry heat, but so is an oven, and I don’t climb into mine. Even when Phoenix temps go down to a saner 100-107+ tell me that’s not a sign that my science teacher’s prediction was true, and the burning up process is well under way. But this year, record temperatures have been recorded over large parts of the country. It's getting harder to say where heat is actually made for hell.

But there is a phenomenon here in the Southwest that I’ve come to enjoy, and which has made me fonder of the hot, late summertime. That is the monsoon rainstorms that strike some days here, simply because of their sense-stirring might. Huge gray clouds build up to the heavens, while the air turns a distinctly yellow-green color and smells strongly of ions. When the storm hits, the raindrops can easily exceed an inch to an inch and-a-half in diameter and the swirling winds are fierce. Within moments, the temperature can drop 30 to 40 degrees, and even after the storm moves on, the temperatures rarely rise as high earlier, so it provides a break from the heat.

What’s odd is that the storms are so localized. Recently, we drove up to a high peak outside of town with a 360-degree view. No less than four or five localized storms in different directions draped the ground with wide sheaths of misty gray walking rain, while off to the west, the sun shone brightly through a stretch of far thinner cloud cover. Awesome!

Sometimes these storms are quite destructive — a section of my own roof had to be repaired after one last summer, as did quite a number of roofs in my neighborhood, and I sure don’t welcome that. But short of their creating havoc, it can be quite wonderful to watch them build.

There might not be any cure for the summertime blues, but sometimes there’s a respite. To my great surprise, since I’m not too keen on gray skies, I have come to embrace these wild, raging storms.

What do you like — or dislike — about your summer weather?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dream Totem

In Sedona, and other spots around the world that some people regard as sacred, people build little stone totems. Here’s a photo of a common example of a rock totem:

People build rock totems to honor a place that touched them, and allow them to leave a bit of themselves behind when they have to move on.

I came across a really special one some months ago, on a trail at the Airport Mesa vortex. You might have heard about our energy vortices, and you may or may not believe in them. But vortex energy only factors into this story peripherally. As I was saying…I don’t like the airport vortex too much. It’s the most easily accessible of all the vortices — doesn’t require any serious hiking from the trailhead — and that might explain why it seems to attract the most ill-behaved of all of Sedona’s tourists.

Most of the visitors to Sedona are respectful of the landscape. But too many of the people who flock to this site don’t seem to realize that other people hike to find peace and solitude. Instead, they sit on the knoll where they’ve been told they should feel some unusual energy flow, and their screams and laughter and cell phone conversations echo for miles.

I don’t know why I went there that day. And my hike didn’t start out well. A family of three males — a father and two burly preteen boys — along with a simpering mother, had cornered a lizard in the brush and were shirking in glee. I don’t usually say anything, but the sight of the family Cro-Magnon on their lizard safari annoyed me. I snapped for them to leave the wildlife alone. One of the boys spat at me, in a tone of fierce anger, that wildlife was supposed to be hunted down. His parents looked so proud.

So...I wasn’t in the best of moods when I walked on. But then I came upon it, one of the most magnificent totems I’ve ever seen. It was huge — probably more than two feet high and three feet wide, and clearly took quite some time to construct. Its spectacular design was not a matter of stacking rocks on other rocks — no, this person had build an edifice with actual chambers.

The totem builder had also sprinkled money on all the crossbeams. Not a lot, just pocket change. I spotted one quarter, lots of dimes and nickels and a whole mess of pennies that glistened in the sunlight. While I doubt it totaled much more than a dollar or two, the sprinkling of coins struck me as such an extravagant, grand gesture

I was so moved by it that I came back every week to check on the totem. And despite wind and rain and countless people passing that way, the totem remained week-after-week.

Then this week, I discovered it gone. Someone just dismantled it, stacked the stones, and with a marker and a girlish hand, wrote on the rocks about who loved whom, and decorated them with hearts. And, yes, she took the change.

As a hiker who loved that totem, I grieved for its loss. But as a writer, I felt a need to explore the mentality of the one who had to dismantle it.

As desecrations go, it was minor. Those rocks have endured for eons, and will remain when we are just specks of dust floating on the wind. Even the early amateur archeologists who explored this area used to carve their names onto the rocks near their discoveries, and they stole the treasures early tribal peoples had left as offerings in those areas. So, maybe whatever impulse the heart-drawer felt wasn’t any more out of line than what countless others have done before her. Maybe she thought that money was wasted there, and she considered it only right to put it to use.

Even after thinking about it, I don't really understand. Given all the many rocks scattered around that area, I can't imagine why she simply didn't choose some of those loose rocks on which to draw her hearts. I can't fathom why she was willing to take all the time needed to dismantle that unique totem. Why she needed to see it dismantled.

Maybe I’m just too sentimental, but still, I don’t think I’ll be going back there anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Traffic Jam

Today I welcome Melissa Groeling as a guest-blogger. Melissa
graduated from Bloomsburg University with a degree in English. She lives, reads and writes in the Philadelphia region and wherever else life happens to send her. She is a hardcore New York Giants fan and loves chocolate.
Traffic Jam is her first young adult novel. 

Read about it:

When you’re caught in traffic, you’ve got nowhere to go…
Val Delton’s life is spiraling and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Her dad lost his job, her mom works fourteen hour days to pay the bills and yet somehow there are high-end shopping bags and an iPod in her older sister’s room. Naturally, Val becomes suspicious but her sister’s lips are sealed. Then by accident, she uncovers a dark, dangerous secret hidden behind her sister’s bright smiles and cool indifference. Val has no idea how far and how deep the repercussions of her sister’s secret will reach but she’ll do whatever it takes to keep her family safe. Will she succeed before her sister’s secret destroys everyone she loves?   

Hello, hello Kris! Thanks for having me on your blog! It’s so awesome to be here.  Ever since I started taking my writing seriously, I’ve always thought that the journey would be pretty cut-throat. But all of this blogging and networking has proven otherwise. It’s times like these when I’m glad to be wrong.

So my new young adult novel, Traffic Jam, has been out for about three weeks now and I’m still so excited about it. People have told me they enjoyed reading it and that, my friend, is like a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream on a hot day---oh so good! Of course there will be people out there who won’t like it but hey, you can’t please everyone, right?

The idea of Traffic Jam came to me while I was watching the news which is weird because I don’t generally watch the news. The news is too depressing, too twisted, too everything. But this one time I was watching it and BAM! It was like getting kicked in the head…although I’ve never been kicked in the head…but I imagine it’s a lot like getting an idea for a story, especially when your pages have been sitting empty for a while. So on the news, they were broadcasting a special about human trafficking and I was surprised and slightly sickened to learn that not only does this type of thing happen all over the world but in this country too! The great US of A! It’s impossible to imagine, right? I can’t even begin to understand the despair of being trapped in a situation like that---you’re alone, you have no help, you’re away from your family and friends and  you’re being used…again and again in every conceivable way. It’s often too horrible to think about, which is why it’s so rampant because I think most people find it easier if they don’t acknowledge it. So not only was this broadcast an eye-opening experience but it was also a way to spread the word that sort of misery does exist and it has to be stopped.

Hence, my story.

Not only does Traffic Jam show the effect that human trafficking has on families but it also shows the huge disconnect that families have nowadays. Nobody seems to know what’s going on inside their own homes. Nobody seems to know what’s happening within their own family unit and when they do finally find out, it’s like the biggest sucker-punch in the universe.

As depressing as this topic is, I can only hope that Traffic Jam has the power to make people of aware of what’s going on. Pass the word, dear readers!

Thanks, Melissa. Readers, you can find Melissa here:

Twitter: @stringbean10
Come and find me on Facebook

Friday, June 1, 2012

Writing Conference

The Desert Sleuths (Scottsdale, AZ) chapter of Sisters in Crime asked me to post the following material about their upcoming conference:

Writers, the Desert Sleuth’s WriteNow! 2012 conference “CRIMINAL MINDS: Investigating Today's Writing Scene” is open for registration, and this year’s stellar line-up features psychologist and author Dennis Palumbo; publicity guru Dana Kaye; multi-award-winning author Sean Chercover and more on Sat., Aug. 11 at the Millennium Scottsdale Resort & Villas, 7401 N. Scottsdale Rd. in Scottsdale. In addition, acquisitions editor for the Maine-based Five Star Publishing, Denise Dietz, will be accepting a limited number of 15-minute pitches.
There will also be a silent auction fundraiser for the nonprofit Desert Sleuths, the Arizona Chapter of Sisters in Crime, a nationwide organization that exists “to combat discrimination against women in the mystery field, to educate publishers and the general public as to the inequalities in the treatment of female authors, and to raise the level of awareness of their contribution to the field.”
Cost, which includes continental breakfast, plated lunch and afternoon snack, for Desert Sleuth members is only $80 before July 11, and the early rate for nonmembers is $90. After that, member rate goes to $85; nonmembers, $95. There is an additional $15 charge to pitch Dietz on a first come, first served basis.
Conference checks, payable to SinC Desert Sleuths Chapter, may be sent to P.O. Box 9352, Phoenix, AZ 85068.
To register online, visit and click on conference.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's what's for dinner

Beef – it’s what’s for dinner. That’s been the slogan of the Cattleman’s Association for ages.

Fine. If it’s for dinner, what do you do with it?

I’m not picking on beef. I feel the same way about chicken, pork, vegetables, or everything else. Surely I can’t be alone in this regard. More often than not, I simply don’t have any idea what to make for dinner.

My husband Joe and I go shopping most weeks, and often more than once. We buy food. Only somehow we never seem to have any ingredients to make anything. Most days I stare into the freezer or pantry, absolutely devoid of any ideas other than how easy it would be to order a pizza or pick up a rotisserie chicken. 

Don’t get me wrong. I like cooking. I find it creative and relaxing, when I’m in the mood for it. But somehow that mood only strikes on special occasions, or on Sundays, when Joe and I cook together. On the average weeknight, I can’t seem to think of anything to make other than things I’ve made thousands of times, which bore me silly at this point.

I know I could plan it out in advance, so I’d never have to be at a loss. I have a friend who does that. Every other week, she works out all the meals she’ll want to make over the next couple of weeks, and lists every single ingredient she’ll need, which she then heads out to buy. She doesn’t like it especially, but she considers her level of planning a better choice than the random approach I bring to my own meal-making.

I could plan as she does, too, of course. But I never will. I could say that I want to be more spontaneous, but that isn’t the truth. I just think there are simply two kinds of people in this world: the kind who plan for two weeks of meals, and the kind who like to stand before the pantry whining that there’s nothing there, but who are secretly relieved to have avoided all that planning.

I could shuck it off onto Joe more often, too. He can somehow find ingredients in our house that I failed to notice. But he typically works later at our bookstore than I do, so if I foist it off onto him, it means eating more creative meals, but later than I like them. Nothing is ever simple.

Since yesterday was the first day of spring, I took the trouble to make something unique, which I’ve called Extra Creamy Leek & Asparagus soup. I thought about how I could create a different variation on a standard cream of asparagus soup, thought about what I’d need, and since I found almost none of it in our house, I made a special shopping trip for it. 

Here’s the recipe:

1 bundle of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large or 2 small leeks, sliced (white part only)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 large garlic cloves (or less, to taste)
4-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
salt and pepper
1 cup milk, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
1 small package cream cheese
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Rinse and cut up asparagus spears, discarding the tougher, fibrous bottoms of the spears. Rise leeks really well, and slice the white part into 1/4 inch disks. Heat oil in a pot, and sauté onion and garlic until tender. Add asparagus and leeks and sauté until they are tender. Remove from heat.

In another pan, heat butter. Add flour and stir to blend. Add salt and pepper. Whisk in milk to blend well. Stir until it thickens into a sauce. Cut one small package of cream cheese into pieces, and stir those into the sauce until well blended.

If you have an immersion hand blender (boat motor), puree the vegetables, reserving the asparagus tips. If you don’t have a boat motor, transfer the sautéed veggies, apart from the tips, to a blender and process until smooth. Combine with the sauce, and return asparagus tips to the soup. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread. 

Yum. Was that ever good!

The trouble with cooking, though, is that no matter how much effort you put into it yesterday, today you just have to do it again. And today, I’m as stumped as ever.

How about you? What are you making? If it’s restaurant reservations, I just might follow your lead.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What would elves make for breakfast?

While neither my Tracy Eaton mysteries nor my Samantha Brennan & Annabelle Haggerty magical mysteries are cooking novels, in the course of an entire book, it’s natural that my characters would eat. 

I bring considerable thought to their dining choices, and I make up recipes for those dishes, which I print as recipe cards and give out at signings, as well as posting them on a recipe page on my website.

The dish not only needs to suit the tastes the characters, it also needs to fit the story-circumstances. After all, if they’re being chased by bad guys, they can hardly take the time to prepare a five-course gourmet meal, which they consume in a relaxed manner. Since I create these dishes in my author’s test kitchen — which happens to be my real home kitchen — it also has to be something I can create, even if it means stretching in the kitchen.

I started this practice with my first book, REVENGE OF THE GYPSY QUEEN. In that book, Tracy and her husband Drew traveled to New York to attend the wedding of his younger sister Marisa, only to end up dealing with Marisa’s kidnapping. Since Marisa and her fiancé owned a trendy restaurant, it was essential that the dessert they served at their family dinner be first-rate. That was a tough one for me. I’m a pretty decent cook, creative even. But I’ve usually regarded desserts as something to buy, not something to make.

It did help that I had a great love of tiramisu at the time (and still do!), and that I’ve always thought Bailey’s Irish Cream was a pretty spectacular drink. I put those together and created a winner — Irish Cream Tiramisu. Those recipe cards are always such a hit. I’ve given out thousands of them and people never fail to rave about it. I did make the dish a number of times, tweaking the ingredients until I thought it was absolutely perfect, and loads of readers have shared their experiences with it. But it’s hard to imagine how you could combine the ingredients of a classic tiramisu with Bailey’s Irish Cream in any proportion, and not have it turn out great.

Molly Westin, “Meritorious Mysteries” reviewer and “inSinC” editor, is a fan of my Bailey’s Tiramisu. Here’s what she says of it: “When I saw the recipe card for Bailey's Irish Cream Tiramisu from Kris's REVENGE OFTHE GYPSY QUEEN, I knew my family and friends would love it. And what a hit it has been. I never wonder what to take to special gatherings. In fact, one couple expects it every Thanksgiving! Thanks for sharing such a special dish.”

If you’re also a Bailey’s and/or tiramisu fan, you can find the recipe here:

Along the way, I’ve created other book-related recipes, including Tracy’s Favorite Chicken Crepes from REVENGE FOR OLD TIME’S SAKE and Fit for a Goddess French Toast for HIGH CRIMES ON THE MAGICAL PLANE. They’re all particularly good, and they all suit the novels they’re described in.

But the recipe for my latest title, Lefty Award-nominated MAGICAL ALIENATION, came with a particular challenge. All my earlier recipes were made by people. This recipe had to be for a breakfast dish created by elves. And it had to be a dish they’d make for a goddess. I mean, that’s like us cooking for the President, or the Queen of England, or even…Giada. It had to be that special.

What would elfin magic create (and I don’t mean that cracker company that co-opted my term…or I theirs.)? To inspire me, I decided it should involve one of my favorite ingredients. No, not Bailey’s. Sure, that is one of my all-time favorites, but I’ve already created some spectacular desserts with it—not just my tiramisu, but Baneful Bread and Butter Pudding with Last Gasp Sauce, which you’ll also find on the recipe page of my website. Besides, this had to be a breakfast dish, and I try to avoid the hard stuff at dawn.

That left one of my other favorites — cinnamon. It’s hard for me to imagine any kind of pastry that isn’t made better with lots of cinnamon. I decided this dish should be some kind of muffin. But was a plain ol’ cinnamon muffin good enough? Wouldn’t it need an outstanding premise and lots of really phenomenal ingredients to bring the muffin up to elfin level? 

Here’s what I came up with:

Elfin French Toast Muffins
as served in
Magical Alienation by Kris Neri

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon for topping
½ cup butter, softened
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla, plus ¼ tsp. for maple glaze
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
½ cup cinnamon chips
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1/4 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream 1 cup sugar into butter. Add eggs, vanilla, sour cream and blend. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and baking soda, and gently work into wet ingredients. Fold in cinnamon chips. Pour 1/3 cup into a paper muffin liners in a muffin pan. Mix together sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the muffins. Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Blend together maple extract, milk, powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. Drizzle icing over top of cooled muffins or spread with knife, if you prefer a thicker coating. Makes 12 large or 18 medium muffins.

By the way, cinnamon chips can be hard to find. Actually, they’re called cinnamon chips, but they’re really cinnamon and chocolate, though the cinnamon taste dominates. They’re made by Hershey’s, and though the chip selection in the baking aisle typically contains loads of varieties now, cinnamon chips can be scarce. I only found them in one of the markets we have where I live. But I also live in a small town, so if I can find them, I’m sure you can. They’re also available online, if you’d prefer that route. If you love cinnamon as much as I do, you’ll want to keep some on hand anyway. They also make a great snack. Someone (She has a name - I'm just not sure if she wants me to use in a public blog.) also wrote and told me that if you're allergic to chocolate, you can find pure cinnamon chips with no chocolate here:

And the muffin? Absolutely to die-for. The elves and I promise you this will be one of the very best muffins you’ll ever taste. It also stays moist for days. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did all the times I made during my perfecting process. It’s a dirty job, but thankfully, I got to do it.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Polishing the Hollywood Crime Novel: a question of integrity

Today I welcome guest-blogger, Shelly Frome. He's a member of Mystery Writers of America, a professor of dramatic arts emeritus at the University of Connecticut, a former professional actor, a writer of mysteries, books on theater and film, and articles on the performing arts appearing in a number of periodicals in the U.S. and the U.K.. His fiction includes Tinseltown Riff, Lilac Moon, Sun Dance for Andy Horn and the trans-Atlantic cozy The Twinning Murders. Among his works of non-fiction are the acclaimed The Actors Studio and texts on the art and craft of screenwriting and writing for the stage. His latest novel is a southern gothic crime-and-blues odyssey entitled Twilight of the Drifter.  He lives in Litchfield, Connecticut.
  There are times when you have to be on guard. Otherwise writers’ magazines, interviews on Charlie Rose and even lead articles in the New York Times Book Review may start to get to you and you’ll find yourself opting for “page-turning success.”
In a recent issue of one of these guides, a “pro” insisted that readers have a limited amount of time and money, genres like crime fiction are saturated, and you better be offering immediate, highly accessible entertainment. Another “pro” advised that you need a provocative plot question at the outset if you’re going to have half a chance of snaring readers’ attention. In one of Charlie Rose’s John Grisham interviews, Grisham claimed that readers have an insatiable appetite for scandal. What they really want is to pick up a book and keep reading to find out what’s going on behind closed doors. That’s why plotting and pacing are crucial. Never use too many words, says Grisham. Come up with the best idea, nail it down in one sentence and pitch it to someone who is really savvy—e.g., “A bright young lawyer joins a high-powered firm but can never leave because it’s owned by the Mafia.”
As another example of this preoccupation with a sure-fire hook and forward motion, you need look no further than last month’s issue of Book Review. The one  featuring Elmore Leonard’s photo on the cover and the caption “Back on the Case.” Predictably, the reviewer Olen Steinhauer declared that, as a successful crime novelist, Leonard is an advocate of rat-a-tat acceleration.
Admittedly, the first draft of my Hollywood crime novel Tinseltown Riff was  either consciously or subconsciously under the influence. And then, luckily, I began to recall Dan Brown’s novels like the DaVinci Code. I remember being so upset because instead of creating characters who had a life, he simply kept them running around from here to there in search of the key to some scandalous puzzle. There wasn’t even time to care about the victims, find out who they were and even take a moment to mourn their passing. And that undoubtedly was why Tom Hanks, as the film version of one-dimensional Robert Langdon, seemed to have phoned-in his part at every outing.

And so I stepped away from my caper for a while. I had all the ingredients Grisham advocated, but soon all the missing pieces and a sense of truth began to nag at me. Ben, my central character, was too unaware. It was interesting that he was a screenwriter hack who preferred to remain ensconced in and around Hollywood and was enamored of old movies. It was also interesting to, in a sense, have the old movie sets of an abandoned studio lot champing at the bit to come alive again. And it was also promising to have Ben unwittingly on a collision course with a lone wolf tracker in cahoots with a Vegas mob—this, in view of today’s economy, causing Ben out of desperation to accept a dubious gig.
But, despite this concern with readers’ expectations, I began to have second thoughts. Once you set these forces in motion, other realities come into play. Nothing ever just holds still for the sake of your plotline. Life-like characters have a backstory and are full of contradictions. There’s also the weather, the time of year, what’s going on within this world including the surrounding areas, ever-changing relationships and their  interplay. Not to mention the widening gap between what anyone wants and the complications that ensue when you force the issue making the outcome that much more problematic.
If you work organically, that is. And put aside all the advice from the pros and  worries about the market and enhancing your platform. Depending, of course, on what you’re really after.
Confession. I was a starving actor in New York, am keenly aware of the given circumstances and what rings true, and have an abiding faith in the spirit of the moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Privacy -- it isn't what it used to be

Privacy — what a quaint concept, one that has largely gone out of fashion. At the time I wrote this, I had just gone to see the movie IRON LADY. While Margaret Thatcher’s politics aren’t mine, I did recognize that there were admirable aspects to her character, even if I disagreed with many of her choices. What struck me most strongly, though, was the divide between her private feelings and her public face.

We’ve largely lost that divide, for better or worse. Today we let everything hang out. Not that I’m necessarily promoting stiff upper lips. Still, while it’s good that people don’t have to suffer in silence now, that we can turn to others for help and advice in dark times, perhaps we’ve gone too far. Do we really have to post every personal sensation on Facebook and Twitter?

I’m not sure whether cell phones started the privacy decline, or if it would have happened without them. Working in retail as I do, I see lots of cell phone intrusions. I’m happy to report that many of our customers do issue a polite “Excuse me,” to us and other customers in the store and go outside to conduct their conversation. Sure, they’re usually shouting out there, since cell phone reception combined with the normal sounds of outdoor spaces, usually results in greater volume. But at least they’re not shouting in our bookstore. Others aren’t as polite. They answer right there, and conduct their book browsing with the help of some unknown person.

That behavior isn’t just limited to bookstores, either. Once while I stood in line at the grocery store, the man behind me called someone and read all the tabloid covers to that person while we waited.

“Dude,” I wanted to say, “you need a life.” But I was trying to give him his personal space, even if he didn’t seem to need it.

Recently, I experienced an odd intrusion from the extended non-privacy sphere. Let me explain. We put Google Ads on our bookstore’s website to create an additional source of revenue. It hasn’t worked that well. Since the word “books” is repeated throughout the website, it has mostly generated book-related ads. Some for all the many subsidy publishing companies mushrooming today, and others for our competitors, which are supposed to be blocked but aren’t consistently. You might say that since I invited the ads in, I’m responsible for my own challenges in this area, and that’s nothing I haven’t thought of myself.

But I hadn’t expected one bizarre aspect. The Google ads are accessed by a user name related to the store. While signed OUT of that account, but still in the same computer I use for everything related to the Google ads, I recently conducted a personal Google search among household décor suppliers. I wanted to identify the style of kitchen faucet we have, which came with the house, so I could search for a replacement part.

Bingo! Only moments later, faucet ads appeared on our bookstore’s ads. Coincidence? To test my dawning theory, while still signed out of the account associated with the ads, I performed a few more deliberate searches. For clothes, shoes, furniture, kitchen gadgets. Sure enough, all of those products and advertisers also showed up in our ads.

It gave me an icky feeling, though. On one hand, I now have a tool to better control the ads that pop up on my bookstore’s website, even if it does seem a bit convoluted to perform seemingly unrelated searches from another account for products that don’t really interest me. But it also makes me feel weird and watched when I realize the extent to which we’re being electronically monitored.

Remember when we thought Big Brother would be the government? Turns out we were wrong.

I’m happy to share some of my thoughts and aspects of my life with others. Including this either creepy or clever technique for influencing the content of Internet ads. But I’d like to reserve other aspects for my personal use. For a while longer anyway. There was a time when we never would have thought we’d be forever shouting personal messages into unwired phones. Who knows where else we’re headed in this brave new world.

Do you lament the decline of privacy, or have you failed to notice its passing?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Free e-book contest!

Remember, leave a comment to Zrinka Jelic's blog and you'll be eligible to win a free e-book! Contest ends on Friday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Guest blogger, Zrinka Jelic

Today I'd like to welcome guest blogger Zrinka Jelic, author of BONDED BY CRIMSON.  Zrinka asked me to tell you that she'll be hosting a contest for a free e-copy of BONDED BY CRIMSON. Leave a comment if you want to be entered.

Thank you, Kris, for having me here today as your guest blogger. My debut novel BONDED BY CRIMSON has been released on January 28th, and it is available in all formats at Black Opal Books, Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, and fine bookstores everywhere.

People often ask me what influenced me to write this book.

There were many things, but growing up in Croatia was definitely the biggest one.  The story that was swimming in my head and the final product are two totally different things. My original plot wasn't catching on with my critique partners so I changed it and as I did, I remembered a tragic love story often compared to Romeo and Juliet. So I've got the idea to make my heroine obsessed with this story and she often imagined what would it be like if they were allowed to love each other. What she didn't know was the couple continued to live after their deaths, but centuries later another tragedy struck them and now the man is a widower and a single dad. This also opened a possibility for a prequel which I'm working on. It was challenging to write the descriptive passages in Croatia without making it read as if it's a travelogue. But my crit partners wanted me to describe it better, they said the readers would want to see it. But if I went into too much detail then I sounded as a page from a history book. So I had to think of how I viewed it while I lived there. Playing hide and seek on the remains of a accent Roman Forum, climbing the medieval defense walls, how to describe it to someone who never done it? But that was normal part of growing up for me.

One of your key scenes involves a coffee reading. People ask me if I ever had it done.

Yes, I had it done and I've done it for others. This is such a part of our culture, something to pass time with. At first I faked it as everyone else did. Not every symbol have a meaning so it is ok to make something up. But it is not hard to learn the symbols and it is funny how different people will see different things. But it is creepy when someone who sees you for the first time can read your life from a tiny cup.

I’m also asked what authors I like to read. And if there are any that particularly inspire me. 

When I was in high school, I devoured Danielle Steel. But after a while, her books started to feel the same. Then I've got into anything with vampires. So Anne Rice was high on my list. Then I was into Highlanders and that is how I learned about RWA through Mary McCall. As you can see, I like to read any author, but for the past year I've been into Arthuro Perez Reverte and his Alatriste series. It's not a romance, but I always find romance in every book. A few inspired me but what I don't like is when I read enough of that particular author's work I just know what the next book is going to be like But many authors seem to get comfortable in their style and would not change. I like to expect the unexpected.

Some want to know how I juggle writing with all my other commitments

I'm a staying at home mom so I have time in between house work and kids. My youngest napped at the wrong time, so I spent many late nights waiting for him to tire enough so I can put him to bed. It was in those quiet hours of the night, that ideas came to me. Thankfully, he's dropping those late afternoon naps and we make it to bed in a semi-decent hour. In the meantime, we got rid of cable TV. Kids weren't watching it and neither did I. You can't believe how much you can accomplish if you don't stare at the television every night. But I discovered I am an Internet junkie and I wasn't aware of this until one day the Internet was out.

And many are interested to find out what do I miss most about Croatia, living in Canada.

The sea, I'm from the province of Dalmatia on the Adriatic Sea and my family is from island of Essa. You can take an islander from the island, but you can't take island from an islander. I miss the summers there spent on the beaches, and in the evenings met with the friends and sip cocktails till wee hours. I can't compare it to the cottage life here. The lake waters here are ice cold and murky. Mosquitos eat you alive as soon as you poke your nose out, it gets cold once sun goes down. It's not a summer if I have to pull a sweatshirt and socks on.

Where would my dream romantic vacation take me?

Anywhere where there are beaches (not sandy, can't stand sand in my bathing suit), stunning sunsets, crystal clear sea, endless sky, warm breezes playing with the trees

Cats or dogs? Which do I prefer? 

My favorite movie is Cats and Dogs, and I just love Mr. Tinkles. "Catz rule". So, definitely cats, but I'm very allergic, so that leaves me with dogs. I can't stay around a cat for more than a few minutes even if I don't touch them. Once the itching starts it's time to leave

Can you share a bit about BONDED BY CRIMSON:

Love isn’t in the cards for her…

After her short failed marriage, Kate tries to rebuild her life and takes a position as a nanny to three small boys. She quickly grows to love them, but their father, terrifies her, while igniting a passion she didn’t know she possessed. Disturbed by his distant manner with his sons, Kate struggles to make him more involved in the boys’ daily lives. Her efforts are mysteriously supported by an entity that cannot really exist. Or can she? And if she does exist, is she really trying to help Kate, or just take over her body?

But when he deals the hand, all bets are off…

Six years after his beloved wife passed away, Matthias is still trying to become the father she wanted him to be. Not an easy task for a three-centuries-old immortal. His search for the ultimate nanny ends when Kate Rokov stumbles to his home and into his arms. The immediate attraction he feels for her seems like a betrayal of his dead wife, a love he’s harboured for over three hundred years. But when Kate is stalked by a deadly stranger, life he clung to in the past  begins to crumble and break down. Can Matthias learn to trust and to love again in time to save his family from disaster, or will his stubborn pride destroy everything worth living for?

How about a short excerpt?

He claimed to be immortal, but that was ridiculous...wasn’t it?

Kate’s heart hammered. The experience seemed so real. A low moan escaped her and she bit her lip. Soon warmth surged through her, causing her body to go limp. Her legs gave way underneath her, but Matthias—or whoever this man claimed to be now—wrapped his arm around her waist. His sweet, musky scent clung to her. Ecstasy filled her and she felt as if she hovered in the air. If he intended to kill her like this, she could imagine no better way to die. A voice echoed through her mind, speaking of undying love in centuries old Croatian.

“Wake up,” he whispered close to her ear, his strong arms still locked around her.

“I don’t want to.” Her head wobbled, exuberant with sheer happiness, a kind she had never experienced before.

“You must.” He stroked her hair with tender fingers. “Wake up now.”

“No. I want to stay like this. Forever.” She focused on his handsome face staring at her through her haze.

His smooth cheek brushed against hers. “Me too, but you must wake.”

The fog lifted and his image appeared, clearly now. She blinked once. Twice. What had happened?

She pushed away from him and flattened her back against the wall.

“You, you—”

“You,” he said, pointing at her, “asked for proof.”

Thanks for blogging with me today, Zrinka. Remember, readers, leave a comment if you want a chance to win a free ebook.