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Archive for the ‘Friday Features’ Category

Friday Features’

Guest Sally Baker, the lovely wife of Action-Adventure author

Elliott Baker

is here with her latest cookie creation.

These cookie bars include the Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate Brownie recipe found on the inside of the packaging and are absolutely delicious.

Sally Baker’s Muddy Boots

1 family sized tube of Pillsbury Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
½ family sized tube of Pillsbury Peanut Butter Cookie Dough
Bag of M&M caramels
Baker’s Brownie Mix prepared with the following ingredients:

    4 oz. Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate
    ¾ cup butter or margarine
    2 cups sugar
    3 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla
    1 cup flour

Preheat oven 350° F.

Cut parchment paper to fit a 9 x 13-inch pan. Insert the paper and then grease it.

Break up the chocolate chip dough into chunks and fill the pan.

Break up the peanut butter dough and scatter across the chocolate chip dough.

Make the brownie mix. Stir in half of the M&M caramels.

Pour the brownie mix over the cookie dough.

Sprinkle remaining M&M caramels over the top.

Bake at least 35 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool and then cut into squares.

How about a glimpse at Sally’s husband Elliott and his books while you’re munching these awesome cookie bars?

For three thousand years a hatred burns. In seventeenth century France two souls incarnate, one born the child of a prosperous merchant, the other, determined to continue an incarnation begun long ago.

In ancient Egypt, there were two brothers, disciples of the pharaoh, Akhenaten. When the pharaoh died, the physician took the knowledge given and went to Greece to begin the mystery school. The general made a deal with the priests and became pharaoh. One remembers, one does not.

The year is 1671. René Gilbert’s destiny glints from the blade of a slashing rapier. The only way he can protect those he loves is to regain the power and knowledge of an ancient lifetime. From Bordeaux to Spain to Morocco, René is tested and with each turn of fate he gathers enemies and allies, slowly reclaiming the knowledge and power earned centuries ago. For three thousand years a secret sect has waited in Morocco.

After ages in darkness, Horemheb screams, “I am.” Using every dark art, he manages to maintain the life of the body he has bartered for. Only one life force in the world is powerful enough to allow him to remain within embodiment, perhaps forever. Determined to continue a reign of terror that once made the Nile run red, he grows stronger with each life taken.

Buy Links


Award winning, international playwright Elliott B. Baker grew up in Jacksonville, Florida. With four musicals and one play published and done throughout the United States, New Zealand, Portugal, England, and Canada, Elliott is pleased to offer his first novel, Return, book one of The Sun God’s Heir trilogy.

A member of the Authors Guild and the Dramatists Guild, Elliott lives in New Hampshire with his beautiful wife Sally Ann.

Learn more about Elliot Baker on his

website.

Stay connected on

Twitter and Facebook

Like Elliott’s Author Page on Facebook to learn all his latest news.

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Friday Features’

Guest talks about

Deserts not being difficult

from

Vonnie Hughes

Deserts do not have to be difficult to prepare. This one is delicious and simple and that’s why it’s a favorite of mine.

EASY-PEASY PUDDING

4 eggs
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla essence, vanilla extract
½ cup butter
½ cup plain flour
1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 180c 250° F.

Butter a pie dish. You can also line with baking paper to make sure the pudding comes out intact.

Combine all ingredients into a blender. Mix well.

Pour mixture into prepared dish. Bake about one hour until the center is firm.

Whipped cream and fresh or stewed fruits are wonderful accompaniments.

Now sit back and enjoy your pudding while you scan my latest romantic suspense.

Who can you trust if you can’t trust your own mother? Through the clammy fog, Celie Francis hears the chilling message. “I know who you are, Celie. I know where you live.” And in the terrifying aftermath she reconnects with her dysfunctional family in ways she had never imagined.

BLURB:

    Abused and abandoned as a child, Célie Francis knows better than to trust anyone. But after she witnesses a murder, she’s placed in the Unit “New Zealand’s witness protection program” where she’s expected to trust strangers with her life.

    It’s psychologist Brand Turner’s job to ease witnesses into their new identities, not to protect them, but Célie stirs feelings in him that are far from professional. When it appears someone is leaking critical information that could endanger Célie, Brand will do anything to protect her. But first he has to convince her to trust him.

    Adrift in a frightening world, Célie would like to believe the handsome psychologist is everything he seems, but as witnesses are murdered and danger swirls around them, Célie must decide “can she trust Brand with her life?

BUY LINKS

Vonnie Hughes is a multi-published author in both Regency books and contemporary suspense. She loves the intricacies of the social rules of the Regency period and the far-ranging consequences of the Napoleonic Code. And with suspense she has free rein to explore forensic matters and the strong convolutions of the human mind. Like many writers, some days she hates the whole process, but somehow she just cannot let it go.

Vonnie was born in New Zealand, but she and her husband now live happily in Australia. If you visit Hamilton Gardens in New Zealand be sure to stroll through the Japanese Garden. These is a bronze plaque engraved with a haiku describing the peacefulness of that environment. The poem was written by Vonnie.

All of Vonnie’s books are available on The Wild Rose Press and Amazon.

Learn more about Vonnie Hughes on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Goodreads.

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Friday Features

Share her recent release

The Fae’s Amulet

by

J.F. Posthumus

What would you do if you had the power to destroy the world…

In her younger years, Catherine Woulfe was known as the Lady of Death…but those days are long past. Now, at over 300 years old, she is older, wiser…and painfully dull. Instead of using her necromancy skills for things like killing people and taking over governments, she now works as a private investigator, helping people find their lost treasures.

But when a charismatic stranger walks through her door, searching for one of the most powerful artifacts ever created, she is drawn into a case where she must use all of her old powers—including several forbidden ones—if she is to find the missing amulet. When the last person to see the amulet goes missing, she realizes it’s time for the Lady of Death to summon her minions and go on the warpath.

Angels and demons are searching for the amulet, as is a mysterious dark elf about whom little is known. Everyone is stalking her, waiting for her to find it so they can grab it for their own; meanwhile, her client has awoken feelings long suppressed, which is proving to be…distracting. Can Catherine find the trail of the thief and recover the amulet before the thief uses it to summon a deity that will destroy the Earth? More importantly, if she gets it, will she give it back?

EXCERPT
A knock on the door pulled my attention away from the emails I was sorting through for the day. I lifted my brows in surprise at the visitor standing in my doorway. Dark eyes met mine, and it took every bit of willpower to keep from admiring the way his designer clothing fit his body. He wore the perfectly tailored three-piece suit with the same ease most wore jeans and a t-shirt. His face was elegant and had aristocratic features, which fit his six-foot-three-inch frame perfectly.

Thankfully, unlike most people, I wasn’t intimidated by his height, stature, or handsomeness. Or his reputation.

“The Consigliere,” I said. “To what do I owe this dubious pleasure?”

“Dubious?” The Consigliere’s honey smooth baritone carried across the room. “You wound me, Lady Catherine. I am here on good business.”

“That’s Miss Woulfe to you. Good for whom?” I said through gritted teeth I hoped looked like a smile.

“For all parties concerned, naturally.”

Naturally.

I drew in a breath and let it out slowly as he entered my office, allowing the door to shut with a soft whisper behind him.

The man was handsome and immaculate from his brown hair to his loafered feet.

He could have been a model for Men’s Fitness or a Chippendale’s dancer. There was sensuality in his movements, and he exuded confidence. We moved in similar circles, and his reputation preceded him wherever he went. While I was spoken about in cautious whispers, he was spoken about in awe, if not longing.

And the bleeding sod refused to take his twinkling brown eyes off me.

His gaze made me want to check my snug, professional-looking chignon to make sure no stray, black strands were flying loose. At least I didn’t have to worry about my long-lasting lipstick.

I paused a moment and glanced away as though I were pondering his unspoken request. When I met his eyes again, I replied in a flat, cold tone, “No. Whatever it is you’re trying to sell, you can take elsewhere. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

“You don’t know what my business is; nor do you know who besides you could benefit…yet you dismiss it.” He was still looking at me, smiling, while his words poured from between his yummy lips. “Is my reputation that sullied in the circles in which you walk that you won’t even listen, or is there another reason for your behavior?”

I snorted. “Not hardly, and you know it. There are few reasons you, of all people, would desire my services, and it isn’t for the appraisal of any occult item.”

“Are you as wrong in your appraisals as you are in your presumptions?” Fergus Sterling taunted before continuing, “Your reputation must have been paid for.”

He held out a photograph.

My impulse was to cursorily glance at the picture, but my eyes locked on it once I saw the item captured on the paper. Ancient workmanship surrounded a jeweled eye of blue. The amulet was legend, myth, and history.

“Ilygad Amon,” I said, realizing a moment later I had said the words under my breath instead of speaking properly.

Sterling’s voice was smug. “So, you do know some of what is reputed.”

Ignoring his attempt to rile me, I took the picture and looked closer at it.

“The captured eye of the Christian demon, Amon,” I explained, “transmogrified into a jewel by ancient fae Magick—some claim by traveling gypsy witches, others give credit to followers of Anubis—and locked into a box made of equal parts gold and lead. It’s ancient and used only in the darkest Magick.”

“Would you be willing to help track down this piece, verify its authenticity, and turn it over to parties who wish it to remain unused or, at least, contained from further use?” Sterling asked. I could hear the smile in his voice as he waited to see how I would react.

“How do you know I won’t try to keep it for myself? I am, after all, a practitioner of the Dark Arts, or to be more precise, a necromancer of considerable talents.” I offered him a placating smile. “Or is that why you came to me? You could easily authenticate this piece, unless my parents were incorrect when they said you’ve been alive since the middle ages.”

“How sweet of them to make me younger than I am,” he replied jovially. “I could do the job, but my age and reputation are considered disadvantages to the interested parties. They want someone who has less experience with such powerful objects.”

“Then they obviously aren’t aware of half the items I possess,” I replied. “Who are the ‘interested parties?’ I don’t go into anything blind.”

“You know my reputation, so you know I don’t give out my clients’ identities.” Sterling countered. “They were referred to me by Zeus and Merlyn.”

I wasn’t going to touch that one with a fifty-foot pole. Instead, I rolled my eyes and leaned back in my chair.

“Have a seat, and let us discuss fees.”

Once Sterling was seated in the plush, antique chair opposite my oak desk, I nodded. The Eye of Amon was an artifact I’d only heard about growing up. Finding it and verifying that it was more than myth would certainly add to my resume. The job would have to take precedence over any opinion I had of the arrogant, but delectable, male in my office. “My standard fee for such a task is $250,000, plus expenses.”

“A quarter million?” he retorted. “That’s all?”

It really annoyed me that I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or incredulous.

“You have a problem with my fee?” My voice was sharp, like a whip’s crack.

“Had I known you charged bargain prices, I would have sought you out sooner, for other clients.” He smiled cattily. “Of course, I’d only do so if you deliver what’s being asked for.”

I knew I was leaning toward him, narrowing my eyes and smiling tightly. I didn’t care, though. “Of course. And, of course, you won’t have a problem signing a contract. Correct?”

“Correct.”

Turning slightly, I opened the drawer to my left and removed one of the contracts I kept there for such occasions. I had two types of contracts: one for mundane, normal people and another for anyone of a Magickal, supernatural, or preternatural persuasion. The latter contract was binding in multiple ways.

It took less than five minutes for me to fill it out, then I slid the papers across the desk to Sterling.

“You know how this works: read, sign, and date. No blood is required for this particular contract.”

Wife and a mother of five, J.F. Posthumus is an IT Tech with over a decade of experience. When she isn’t arguing with computers and their inherent gremlins, or being mom to the four younger monsters (the eldest has flown the nest and is doing quite well on his own), she’s crafting, writing, or doing some other sort of art. An avid gamer, she loves playing Dungeons & Dragons, and a variety of other board games with her family and friends. J.F. is also a hopeless romantic, thanks to all the fairy tales she cut her eyeteeth on. They were what she learned to read before discovering the Boxcar Children Mysteries. From there, J.F. Posthumus fell into the rabbit hole that’s reading, where she discovered a love for mysteries, fantasy, and the occasional romance. Since writing was her favorite subject, J.F. naturally incorporated her love of murder, mysteries, and fantasy into her works.

When J.F. came up with the idea of a body being found at a local building, it was only natural to create a necromancer for the job. From there, Catherine’s story unfolded, complete with monsters, magic, and a little bit of romance…

Learn more about J.F. Posthumus on her website. Stay connected on Facebook and J.F.’s Facebook Author’s Page.

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Friday Features’

Guest

Leight Goff

talks about

Sparking a Writer’s Creativity

If I struggle with writing a descriptive scene, I know it’s time to step outside my present environment (the sofa, a hot cup of coffee, and a fluffy dog at my feet) and explore the world around me—really explore it. There’s something about traveling and sightseeing that stimulates my senses and creativity and it might be just what other writers need, too.

Photo courtesy of Cody Board Unsplash

When I was little, I loved traveling to visit my grandparents every summer. I remember counting down the days and planning what to pack in my blue and red-striped suitcase. I remember the excitement of my first airplane ride and my first trip to Disney World. Disney was like nothing else I’d ever experienced. It went something like this—the Florida sun blazed hot against my skin while the magical kingdom around me smelled of caramel apples and mouth-watering vanilla waffles. And, oh, the stomach-whirling water rides and fantasy-filled adventures that swept me away while I was there. When I arrived home after that first visit, I wrote all about it in my diary, every scrumptious detail. I didn’t want to forget where I’d been and what it felt like to be there because if I didn’t go back ever again, I would be able to revisit that dream-like place in my diary.

I’m an adult now, however, I still need to explore different worlds in order to get my writer’s creativity flowing. Whether my travels include walking in the woods, trekking through London, or taking a ghost tour of the historic buildings and cemeteries in my hometown, every trip is filled with descriptive possibilities. I don’t know if a future main character will end up lost in a city café ordering escargots and later singing along to a street musician’s rendition of ‘Chevaliers de la Table Ronde,’ but I’ll be able to describe it with accuracy because I’ve done it.

One memorable sightseeing trip was to Paris, which included a stop at the Louvre. Breathtaking. I’m talking about the artworks—every single one I saw, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The masterpiece was smaller than I’d imagined, but she was a rock star. Crowds lined up outside the salon for a glimpse of her. Finally, it was my turn. She was beautiful, mysterious, wise, and timeless.

As I stood there before her, I thought about the Da Vinci Code written by Dan Brown. I found myself recalling his vivid descriptions of the museum including its parquet floors, vaulted archways, glass pyramid, and the paintings’ gilded frames. Being there in person was amazing, but if I hadn’t had that experience, Dan Brown’s descriptions of the Louvre and a few of its precious contents were the next best thing to being there.

Writers create or recreate worlds with words and traveling experiences can be the spark for those words. As author Larry Brooks once said, “Writers experience the world…in a unique way. We look for meaning. We see it when we are not paying attention…We are scribes to the ticking of the days, and we have a job to do.” We just need to get out there and experience it for ourselves.

Here is a little from my latest novel for your reading pleasure.

Sixteen-year-old Hannah Fitzgerald has always known she is descended from a royal legacy of dark magic. Although a stranger to her coven in Annapolis, she is no stranger to grief and denial. However, when an ancient prophecy reveals the rise of a young, powerful witch and the impending death of another, she realizes she can no longer afford to suppress the magic that has taken away so much. She seeks out the frighteningly scarred, yet mysterious W who is destined to change her life, but even he cannot prepare her for the danger that lies ahead.

Engaged in a deadly game and not knowing whom her true rival is, Hannah isn’t certain she will survive, and if she loses, she may lose everything, including the ones she loves.

EXCERPT

    The imposing entrance segued into the main part of the old family chapel. Shadows flickered across the white walls as candlelight streamed down from an ornate iron chandelier cradling clear-colored hurricanes. Angelic sculptures hung between the arched windows and beneath the cloud-painted ceiling that Michelangelo himself would have envied, four wooden pews graced each side of the aisle.

    I tiptoed farther in and spotted another black-lined white envelope on the altar. I was definitely in the right place.

    My fingers trembled as I traced the letters that formed my name. This was way beyond ordinary, but why and—more importantly—who?

    “W?”

    A hint of the Shadow’s amber and woods scent mixed with the faint candle smoke of the chapel. “No. Way.” I spun around ready to stomp right out of there.

    In that moment, a heavy gaze fell on me and the air felt charged with electricity. I searched right and left, seeing no one. “W? Whoever you are, show yourself.”

    “This will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.” His potent voice reverberated off the walls and seemed to come from everywhere, including the inside of my head.

    I locked my wandering gaze on the loft above the entrance where I spotted his silhouette. “Was leaving me in a burning wreck the hardest thing you ever had to do? Was it?” I raised my volume. “Who are you? Why did you leave me for dead?”

    His intake of breath was audible. “I would never. I mean. I didn’t want to do that. I don’t.”

    “Oh, lucky me.” I stuck my hands on my hips and tapped an impatient foot on the floor. “If you don’t want to finish me off, then you lured me here to do what, exactly?”

    “To help you. I want to help you.”

    “Ha!” The sarcastic laugh burst out before I could stop it. “You’ve done a bang up job inspiring my confidence and trust in that department.”

    He simmered in silence for a moment. “What do I have to do to inspire you to follow my directions?”

    Following someone else’s directions was definitely not my strength. I grimaced, but curiosity got the better of me. “What do you want?”

    “You read the note.”

    His desire to remain in the shadows was increasingly irritating. “I consider myself a very smart girl, so when a guy who left me in a burning car tells me he wants to help me take on a different deadly problem, I have to wonder if he’s not setting me up to fend for myself again. What’s your motive?”

    I dropped my eyes to the envelope, turning it to and fro.

    “Emme Blackstone is a mutual enemy and means us both harm.” A tinge of anger laced his tone.

    The anger, I understood. After all, we were talking about Emme, but there was also a hint of sadness that intrigued me further. “Why do you think Emme means you harm?”
    “It’s inevitable—because of what I am.”

    What was he besides completely contemptible?

    “It’s in her blood and I believe it’s in her destiny to wreak havoc, especially against someone who can challenge her in talent like you can.”

    I dropped my hands to my sides, still clasping the enveloping. “Whoa. Like me? You don’t know me. You don’t know anything about me. How could you? I’ve been gone for the last year.”

    A chortle caught in his throat. “What’s a year when you come from a bloodline with hundreds of years of history? A history that’s written down and available to certain people with the right—pedigree.”

    Confused, I creased my brow as I continued to stare at his silhouette. “Have you been cyber-stalking me on Ancestry.com or something?”

    “Hardly.” There was disdain in his voice as if he considered cyber-stalking to be worse than leaving a girl to die.

    “Look, whatever you think you know about my family, I’m not like them. I’m not talented, and I don’t want to challenge Emme. I just want to live a normal life. Normal.” My voice escalated. “Do you hear me all the way up there?”

    He huffed. “Normal? You don’t get to pretend to be normal when you’re not. It doesn’t work like that. Not in Annapolis. Someone always knows. Someone always unravels your secrets.”

    I thought of the Witch’s Grave. I pictured the women’s slender figures dangling from sturdy, gnarled branches. Their tragic endings proved what I already knew. Magic only brought suffering and death. “You make it sound like I don’t have a choice. I’m telling you I do, and I won’t be a part of this.” I stomped my foot hard on the floor.

    He shifted from the shadows into a dim ray of light, seething. “You read the note and you know Emme won’t stop. You need my help.”

    I glared, trying desperately to make out the details of his face. “I don’t need anything from you.”

    “You don’t have to like it, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a part of this. You know you are or you wouldn’t have come here. However, if that’s how you feel then you should leave.” The cold in his voice crystallized.

    My pulse escalated. “Yup. That’s how I feel. And I’m only leaving because that’s what I want to do, not because you suggested it. Bye.” I marched to the door and wrapped my hand around the knob. I yanked it open. From the moment I’d first laid eyes on him, he’d been nothing but trouble. Horrible, awful trouble. However, as much as I hated to think it, he knew about me and the other witches in town. He was full of answers—answers I needed. I shut the door and turned back around. “How do you know all this about Emme and me?”

AMAZON BUY LINKS



Leigh Goff loves writing young adult fiction with elements of magic and romance because it’s also what she liked to read. Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Leigh is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association and Romance Writers of America. She is also an approved artist with the Maryland State Arts Council. Her debut novel, Disenchanted, was inspired by the Wethersfield witches of Connecticut and was released by Mirror World Publishing. Leigh is currently working on her next novel, The Witch’s Ring which is set in Annapolis.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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Friday Features’

Guest tells about

Mom’s Orange Cake

by

Nancy Kay

Nothing says Holiday to me better than my mom’s famous cake. Every year she filled the house with the beautiful aroma of baking and we all loved it. This year I’d like to share a little of our family tradition with you.

MOM’S ORANGE CAKE

1 orange
1 cup raisins
⅓ cup walnuts, chopped well
2 cups four
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
½ cup shortening (Crisco)
¾ plus ¼ cup whole milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Grease a rectangular cake pan (aprox. 11 x 15 inches).

Peel orange, but save the skin. Juice orange in a small bowl. Seed and quarter the orange.

Combine orange, skin, raisins, walnuts in a blender or food processor. Blend only enough to break up the skin.

Sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Blend in shortening and ¾ cup milk. Add eggs and remaining milk. Mix well.

Fold in the orange raisin mixture.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan.

Bake 40-50 minutes.

Remove cake from oven and while still hot drizzle with reserved orange juice.

FROSTING
⅓ cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup walnuts, chopped

Mix three ingredients together. Sprinkle mixture over the warm cake.

You know every cook should taste their masterpiece before they serve it. Therefore, pour your favorite beverage and then slice off a piece of cake. Sit back and enjoy while you take a peek at my romantic holiday story.

Federal Wildlife Officer Michael Donovan faces a dilemma. Christmas is days away, a blizzard looms, and Mike must either track an injured moose or deliver bad news to Samantha Gates about her grandfather.

Samantha is determined to reach her grandparent’s cabin for Christmas. She’ll soon be off to veterinary school and this holiday is special. Hampered by driving snow, Sam ditches her SUV avoiding an injured moose. Mike discovers her aiding the wounded animal, and they get the ungainly patient to shelter, but as Sam doctors the moose the blizzard traps them.

As the storm rages outside, alone inside attraction sizzles between Sam and Mike. Outside danger escalates. Sam insists all will be fine by Christmas. Mike isn’t so sure. Will the storm end and bring a Christmas miracle? Or will Mike’s news ruin the holiday and their chance for a future together?

BUY LINKS


Nancy Kay resides near Lake Erie in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, a former member of the Marines and the Pennsylvania State Police Department who provides valuable insight for her stories. Nancy is a long time member of Romance Writers of America. Her stories are set in small towns and inland communities scattered along the shores of the Great Lakes. They focus on romance, intertwined with the love of hearth, home, and family. Yet, they are sprinkled with suspense, danger, and intrigue. Learn more about Nancy on her website and blog.

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

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Friday Features’

Straight from Carpenter Country

An Exciting new book

by

HL Carpenter

This intriguing cozy mystery keeps you engrossed and is sure to deliver reader satisfaction. It’s an ideal holiday gift for everyone on your Kindle list.

A letter from beyond the grave brings accountant Fae Childers face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

EXCERPT
The letter arrived on the last Thursday in April, two weeks to the day after I got fired from the accounting firm where I worked for the past decade. August Palmer, my landlord, hand-delivered the letter in person, saying, “The mail carrier stuck this in my box by mistake, Fae.”

I took the envelope without bothering to look at it and glanced past Gus, at the patch of brilliant cloudless blue sky framing his shoulders.

Tampa, Florida on the cusp of summer, full of birdsong and the scent of warming pavement.

“Beautiful morning,” I said, as if I cared.

“Afternoon,” Gus said, his voice a low rumbly growl, the product of too many cigarettes and whiskeys in his happily misspent youth. He stood outside the tiny apartment my mother and I rented from him for the past two years and eyed me. “Still mopin’, girl?”

He had shown up on my doorstep every day since the firing with the same question.

Adhering to our new routine, I answered the same way I always did, except this time I didn’t bother pasting on a fake smile to accompany the words.

“Nope. Not my style.”

“‘Scuse me.” His tone was as dry as the month he was named for. “Forgot you’ve been hidin’ in the apartment, tap dancing with glee.”

I met his gaze. “For hours at a time. Any complaints about the noise?”

He clicked a nicotine pellet against tobacco stained teeth and kept his silence. I regretted my sarcasm. In my forbidden childhood game of describing people in colors, I would have painted Gus early-morning-yellow, the shade of the summer sun before the friendly sheltering coolness of night gave way to the brutal heat of day.

The description would have horrified him.

“How are the treatments going?”

He grunted. “They tell me I ain’t gonna croak this week.”

“Glad to hear it. You might want to keep your distance from me, though. I’m jinxed.”

Gus shook his head. “You gotta get over them fools, girl.”

“That’s no way to talk about my former bosses.” Especially since I looked at the real fool in the mirror each morning. I had believed dedication, loyalty, and hard work were appreciated by the partners of Slezia + Fyne, CPA, PA.

Ha, ha.

“Anyway, I am over them. Way over.”

“Yeah?” He was not convinced. “You over the suit, too?”

“Sure am.” Once again, I stuck with our new routine and gave him the same answer I always did. “I have moved on.”

Once again, the lie carried the bitter taste of betrayal. The suit was Scott Piper, former co-worker, fiancé, and man of my dreams. The suit dumped me the day of the firing.

Gus snorted. “Funny how much movin’ on resembles standing around feeling sorry for yourself.”

In my opinion, wallowing in self-pity was marginally more mature than throwing a temper tantrum. Even if it hadn’t been, I didn’t have the energy for a tantrum. I barely had the energy to maintain my half of the daily conversation with Gus.

“Have you been watching that big bald guy on television again?”

He stuck out his chin. “Don’t get smart. You know I’m right. You’re mopin’.”

“Only because I can’t tap dance.”

He was right. In the eight months since my mother’s death, I had slogged through an ever-darkening morass of the malady Gus called moping, and what his favorite celebrity psychologist might consider the early stages of depression. The firing and the accompanying fallout shoved me even closer to the edge of a black abyss.

My moping was self-absorbed, given the burdens others faced, but what could I say? One woman’s detour was another’s stop sign.

“You ought to call your girl pal, that one you worked with. What’s her name? Sarah? Have you heard from her?”

No. And I didn’t want to hear from her, much less call her.

I shook my head.

“Your ma would have been annoyed with you.”

A lump in my throat closed off my voice and I could only nod. He was right about that too. My irrepressible mother believed in taking the positive approach to life. To her, saying negative words or thinking negative thoughts was the same as asking them to come true. She had little patience for pity parties.

Focus on your strengths, Fae, and always keep moving.

My ability to follow her advice vanished with her death. I was slowly turning into the type of recluse the Japanese call hikikomori. Even the simple task of cleaning out Mom’s bedroom was beyond me.

“So? You gonna open the letter?” Gus asked.

I turned over the envelope in my hand.

Heavy, officious, dirty white, and mildly threatening, the envelope shrieked of the intimidation perfected by lawyers and the Internal Revenue Service and jolted me right out of my apathy. My breath hitched in my throat.

Had Gary Slezia and Richard Fyne gone back on their word? Had they decided to forego their distaste for publicity and press charges against me?


Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

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Friday Features

Just in time for the holidays

Blitzen Learns How to FLy

by

Tina Ruiz

Tina Ruiz has outdone herself with her heartwarming children’s holiday story Blitzen Learns How to Fly. The characters are believable. The pictures are bright and cheery, and the story will hold a child’s attention from the first page to the last. The lesson on bullying and confidence building is evident, and the rest of the tale is simply charming. This is the perfect gift for every young person.

Blitzen was born at the North Pole, but he is unable to fly. Because of that, he is taunted and called names by the other reindeers. Rudy saw what was happening, and he decided to teach Blitzen how to gain some confidence. And with a little magic powder from Santa, Blitzen is not only able to fly, but he becomes part of Santa’s famous team.

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Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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