Just in time for Halloween we have an author spotlight on Andi Lawrencovna and her soon to release anthology, WHO’s THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology. (October 20, 2020 and it is available for preorder, now.)
Andi Lawrencovna lives in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she was born and raised. She writes Fantasy with a twist, un-Happily-Ever-After-ing as many fairy tales as she can. And she’s not averse to looking at the odd nursery rhyme or ten when the mood strikes. Her Never Lands series is currently enamored with an ash covered assassin and a prince who’s not in the highest of towers. From ogres spouting poetry, to princesses toting swords, Andi’s stories aren’t quite like you remember.
For more, visit: www.AndiLawrencovna.com
Andi’s story in WHO’s THE FAIREST? A Sisters Grimm Anthology is called “The Snake’s Leaves” and we’re please to have an excerpt.
The clipper bobbed with the tide against the dock, rocking in the first waves as the storm blew in. Dark clouds churned the sky. Raindrops threatened to fall, but remained heaven bound for a moment more.
“It’s a bad omen.”
“There are no such things as omens.”
Reigner turned his head and stared at his prince.
Despite the response, Euridone’s voice held concern, and his face was stern with concentration and consideration.
Though the ship might not set sail during the midst of the storm, it would set sail eventually.
The waters whispered of hate and roiling death.
Rey did not think the voices beneath the waves referred solely to the tempest.
He might not have believed in omens before, but he wasn’t fool enough to ignore them when they stared him in the face. He opened his mouth to argue with his master—
“We should find our berth and get settled in. She’ll be along soon enough, and I’d rather be stowed away than have to deal with her.”
A call to action, and yet Rey remained still at Euri’s side, the backs of their hands touching where they stood together, neither of them wanting to move forward to whatever fate awaited them.
“I hate the sea.”
“It hates us too.” He replied and shifted the pack on his shoulder. A raise of his hand, the quick flick of his fingers forward, and the servants that lined up at their backs with the prince’s trunks moved towards the ship, and Euri followed their lead, Rey bringing up the rear.
The wind wailed as they walked the gangplank to the clipper’s deck.
Ware. Ware. You will die here.
Rey turned his face to the storm as the first drops of rain fell. “I’ve died before. I’m not afraid of my end.”
For only a moment, the wind stilled, listening to his words.
It screamed at his impudence when he smiled into its gale.
Prince Euridone Adavignlor, Hero of the Battle of Blackmore, Lord of the Southern Settlements, husband to the Princess Abrialla, wedded Heir to the Kingdom of Spinick, stood in the hallway outside the birthing suite and paced the cold stone floor.
His wife’s labor had slowed to a crawl somewhere in the tenth hour of the trial.
The healer said it was normal for a first birth to take time, and perhaps it was, but that was over a day ago when the pains first started, and now, at nearly forty hours, even Euri knew that something was wrong.
He was born a farmer’s son with nothing to his name but the clothes on his back and the dirt caked to his skin. Hock and hoof, field and plow, working the land and toiling beneath the sun, that was where he came from. He was a good farmer. A good and dutiful son.
And when the war came, and the king called all eligible men to battle, he traded pitchfork for pike and learned to wield a sword in place of the culling scythe.
He was a good soldier.
When his captain died, and he was chosen to replace the man, Euri discovered he was good at leading too.
He won the war with his tactics for King Ashwarth.
He should have died at Blackmore, but he’d somehow returned to the land of the living where the king took an interest in the man named champion.
A good soldier. A good leader. A good prince.
Words Euri never expected, nor wanted, to hear, especially when they were followed by a wedding decree, and the burden of what marrying the princess would entail.
For all his life, all he’d ever wanted was to escape his farm.
Now all he longed for was a chance to return to the quiet fields and the mooing of cattle and the mucking out of horse stalls.
He wanted to take his child away from the castle walls and show the babe the beauty of a simple life that Euri always took for granted with the man who he’d come to depend on more than his next breath.
A man who was not Euri’s spouse but her bastard brother.
Rey was more honorable than all the nobles put together in the palace halls.
And he was the only one Euri wanted, and that his vows demanded he never claim.
Not that Abrialla honored her marriage to Euridone.
For all the prince knew, the babe fighting to be born was not even his, some other of his wife’s lovers having whelped the child on the princess.
He should be angry at the knowledge, at the implication.
All he could feel was relief.
A small, childish, plaintive part of him prayed that if the babe proved to be another’s, he would be allowed to break his oath and be free of the witch.
The more rational part of his mind knew the unlikeliness of the same.
It wasn’t Abrialla who wanted Euri as a prince.
No matter that the king gave his daughter every other wish she desired, Euri was Ashwarth’s demand for the kingdom, and there was no escaping a king.
Abrialla would destroy the kingdom Euri fought a war to save.
Ashwarth chose a farm-boy to lead his country instead of his own spawn to keep the land safe.
And now, here Euri stood, outside his wife’s room, waiting for the birth of the child that would tie him eternally to the nation he called his own.
Knots tangled in his stomach.
Because the child was late in coming, and country or not, rule or not, the infant was innocent of his mother’s indiscretions or his father’s peasant desires. The babe deserved a chance at life, but Euri knew how frail new life could be.
The door to the princess’ suite opened.
A tired nursemaid stepped out of the brightly lit room into the dim hall where the prince waited.
“It is a boy, your highness.”
All along he’d known that she would bear a son that Euri would call his own.
He held himself still, one hand braced at the windowpane behind him, not sure if it was to hold him back from forging the room and looking at the child fresh from the womb, or if it was to keep him standing, that the birth was done, and the child was here. He was well and truly bound up in the fight for rule now with an heir of his own, blood or not.
Euri’s valet stepped forward to draw the maid’s attention when he could not.
“How is the prince’s lady wife?”
Rey stood with his hands clasped behind his back, anxiety showing in every line of his body. There was no love lost between princess and manservant. Where Euri might not abandon a bastard child, the king had no such proclivities when Rey was born and cast aside.
It was a mercy, in Euri’s mind.
If Rey was raised a prince, or a lord, or anyone of importance, they would never have met upon the battlefield. That Reigner was just a man, same as Euri, made all the difference.
Rey kept his eyes on the maid, and Euri tore his from the valet to watch a tear slide down the woman’s face.
“It was a hard birth. The healer,” her hand trembled when she raised it to her cheek. “He has asked the prince be admitted to speak his farewells.”
“Who hired you and Digger to kill Jessie Kegan?”
Petrov shook his head. “We didn’t have to kill her. We just had to convince her to quit sticking her nose into other people’s business.”
“And if you couldn’t convince her?”
Petrov shrugged his thick shoulders. “Then we’d have to do something that would.” He was built like a bull, and with that pale, scraggly beard, he was ugly.
“What? Like make her dead?” Bran pressed.
Petrov didn’t answer, just gave another shrug as if killing her was no big deal. Jessie shivered. She gasped when Bran drew back his fist and punched Petrov hard in the face, sending a spray of blood into the air and his body flying backward into the dirt.
“Bran, stop!” Jessie grabbed his bicep, which was bunched hard as steel, ready to deliver another brutal blow.
He shook his head, fighting for control. “He’s lucky I don’t kill him.” Instead, he jerked Petrov upright. “I need a name. Who hired you?
Petrov spit out a wad of blood. “Weaver. That’s his name. Just Weaver.”
“How do I find him?”
More blood trickled from Petrov’s nose. The way it was swelling, by tomorrow, both eyes would be black.
“I don’t know. He phones us on a burner, tells us what he needs, we call him back after the job’s done. Weaver tells us where to pick up our money. That’s the way it works.”
Bran swore foully. “What’s going to happen when Weaver finds out you didn’t finish the job?”
Petrov grimaced. “He ain’t gonna like it, that’s for sure.”
“Then I’d strongly suggest the first chance you get, you and your buddy leave town. I’ve got friends on the base. I’ll be texting them your photos. You don’t leave, I’ll know and you’ll be dealing with me instead of your buddy, Weaver. You won’t have a second chance to walk away.”
Petrov stared up at him. Jessie knew Bran was talking about soldiers in the 10th Special Forces stationed at Fort Carson, where he had friends.
“You understand what I’m saying?”
Petrov swallowed and nodded.
Bran turned to Jessie. “Time to go.”
“What about them? We can’t just leave them out here. They could die of exposure.”
“We’ll call the sheriff once we’re on the road.”
“I thought you were letting us go,” Petrov complained.
“You’re lucky your still alive.” Bran closed Jessie’s car door, rounded the hood, and slid in behind the wheel.
“Maybe we should call the MPs instead of the sheriff,” she suggested as the engine roared to life. “Since it involves a CID investigation.”
Bran shook his head. “These guys aren’t active duty, plus we don’t know who we can trust on the base.”
Unfortunately, that was true. Her dad had been murdered on the base. The military was somehow involved.
As soon as the SUV reached the highway, Bran called 9-1-1 and anonymously reported that two men had assaulted him and were now tied up in an empty field. He gave the location using GPS coordinates.
“Sheriff will be there in ten,” he said, ending the call. “We need to be long gone by then.” He punched the gas and the Expedition picked up speed, heading back to Colorado Springs, forty miles away, and their motel.
“What will the sheriff do to them?” Jessie asked.
“For starters, they’re probably driving with a stolen license plate. There’s also a good chance there’ll be warrants out for them. Guys like that…could be anything from a speeding ticket to a felony. Might get them locked up for a while.”
There were few cars on the back road Bran was driving toward town. The wind had picked up, blowing dust and dry leaves into the air. The night was dead black, no moon no stars. Jessie shivered, though it was warm in the SUV.
She thought of the men who’d come after them. “Once they’re released, do you think they’ll actually leave town?”
“I’d say chances are better than good. Men like that go after the easy money.” He cast her glance that held a trace of arrogance. “Turned out getting to you wasn’t as easy as they thought.”
She almost smiled. No, not nearly as easy with Bran Garrett acting as her bodyguard.
“I’ll text those photos to a couple of SF guys I know, have them spread the word to their buddies, keep a lookout, give me a heads-up if anyone spots them.”
She nodded. At least they might get some kind of warning if the two men stayed in the area.
Silence began to stretch between them. Neither of them spoke until town drew near and Bran’s gaze slid back to her.
Was she okay? Men had been hired to stop her–one way or another–from finding out what had happened to the stolen munitions and clearing her father’s name. Since she had no intention of quitting, no, she wasn’t okay. But she didn’t say that.
“I will be. Once we clear my father’s name.”
“Be smarter to quit before things get worse.”
“You think they will?”
“Good chance they will.”
She fixed him with a stare. “You sticking?”
His mouth faintly curved. “If you are.”
As Jessie settled back in the seat, she found herself smiling. “Glad that’s settled.”
Bran just shook his head. “Well, you sure as hell aren’t boring.” He flashed one of his devastating grins. “Can’t remember when I’ve had a better time with a lady.”
Jessie scoffed. “Not counting sex,” she said dryly.
His look turned scorching the instant before he glanced away. “Yeah,” he said. “Not counting sex.”
Jessie’s whole body went warm, and in that moment she made a decision.
She decided she was going to seduce him.
Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s next hardcover, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on July 28th.
Over the years, I’ve written a number of blogs about my favorite places. I just discovered a new one so I thought I would tell you about it.
I’ve never been a big fan of the desert. I do love the Saguaro cactus, the red rock mountains, and some of the incredible vistas.
But the small town of Prescott called to me as no place in the Sun State ever has. Perhaps it’s the combination of beautiful mountains, which being a Montanan I love, and the rugged Old West history of the town.
The Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row is one of the oldest in the country. It’s got a mile-long bar and an old-fashioned back bar, and even has batwing doors! The folks inside come to work in Wild West costumes, giving the place an even more authentic feel.
In July, cowboys take over the town for the oldest rodeo in the nation. And you know what they say… “If you haven’t loved a cowboy, you will.”
Living in Montana, I pretty much hate hot weather. But summers in Prescott are relatively mild, at least by Arizona standards. And the endless sunshine and crystal blue skies make the hot days worth it.
As Meriwether Jones and her young daughter run from trouble, her prayers are answered when ex-cop Ian Brodie hires her to help his aging father. But Meri is keeping dangerous secrets that could wind up getting them killed.
In PIVOT, the adventure continues with novellas by bestselling Romantic Suspense authors, Alexandra Ivy and Rebecca Zanetti.
Melanie Cassidy finds trouble when she tries to save a young boy from being kidnapped. Working the case, former love-of-her-life, Detective Gray Hawkins, arrives in time to rescue them. But Melanie’s good-Samaritan efforts pull her and Gray into a world of drug dealers and dirty cops that neither of them may survive.
Michelle Peach is one of Meri’s closet friends. Trouble arrives when two rough men in search of Meri break into her home and threaten her life. The last person Michelle wants to see is Evan Boldon, former Marine turned sheriff. But Evan is determined to stop the trouble stalking Michelle-—no matter the cost.
He hammered in another nail, looked up to see Meriwether Jones running toward him. With the sun highlighting the gold in her dark hair, damn she was pretty. “What is it?”
“I can’t find Lily. She isn’t in your room.”
Ian dropped the hammer and started back toward the house, Meri hurrying along beside him.
“She never does this. She always stays where you tell her.”
They shoved through the back door together, walked through the mudroom. It took a moment for him to register that the dishes were all washed and put away, the countertops wiped clean. He caught the scent of Lysol as he made his way toward the stairs.
“Lily!” he called out. “Lily, where are you?” They went upstairs and searched his bedroom, then the other two upstairs rooms and both baths.
No sign of Lily.
His worry kicked up as they headed back downstairs and he strode into the den. “Dad, Lily is missing.”
Jaclyn lives in the woods of Maine on a Mountain next to a lake. She shares her version of utopia with her husband, two sons, and furbabies! She’s a recovering English teacher who loves digging in the garden, but seems to kill everything she plants and cooks daily, but burns more dinners than she can count. Good thing she knows how to write!
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Funny you ask this! I never did until this year when a fellow author mentioned that she likes to form her writing year around one word to define her year. So, I decided that I would give this Word of the Year a try and this year it’s Create. To remind me that is my goal and what I am driven to do. Create stories. Create an engaging author platform to connect with readers. I want to share the worlds I am creating and the stories I weave from those worlds. I’m finding that this word is driving me to produce not only books, but also create ways to engage readers in my life and get them interested in my work. It’s also forced me to create a network with other authors so we can help each other and learn from one another.
Last night, I decided another word needs to be in my office and life too. UNPLUG. I’ve been so driven to create I can’t forget about the other things in my life that need attention too. So, I’ve started turning off my mobile and other electronics so I can create and maintain meaningful relationships where I am present and engaged.
I am finalizing edits on my debut – Dark Legends: Curse Breaker that will be released on March 15, 2020.
It’s a novella about the Goddess Isis who is reborn into this century in the body of Kalissandra Doe though Kali doesn’t know it yet. She must travel across the world to a remote Island and break a curse to free not only herself but also the man of her dreams.
Kalissandra Doe has a to-do list worthy of the reincarnated goddess she could be.
Break a curse, or die.
Raise a long-dead god, or die.
Reassemble the Osiris Stone…or die.
But when she comes face-to-face with the man, she has literally dreamed of all her life,
Kali realizes that much more than her life is at stake.
The other project I have in the works is called Charming.-
It will be featured in the limited edition Once Upon Another World: A Twisted Fairy Tale Box Set on October 6, 2020.
It’s a re-imagined take on some of your favorite fairy tales with some wicked twists. If you were a fan of Once Upon Another Time, you’re going to love this series. Charming is about a runaway princess who escapes a dark fate by being transformed into a boy. She hides as a servant in a brothel, where she has a chance meeting with a charming prince who persuades her to follow him on a quest. Will they escape the clutches of evil, break curses, and find their happily ever after?
When I was little the best thing in the world to me was a bookstore. I called them my mecca and being there was heavenly for me.
At 11 years old, I’d walk over two miles from my house just to go sit and read crossed legged in the aisles of the closest bookstore being transported to the many different worlds the author’s crafted. Every detail of that store is etched into my memory; including the way it smelled of freshly printed books and promises of adventure. I’d always buy a book or two with any money I saved up, but there were so many I wanted. I could, and probably, did spend hours choosing the right ones. I traveled the world and through time as a knight, a princess, evil queen and many more in that store.
When it closed, I was sad. There wasn’t another bookstore within walking distance. No longer could I stop in after school or spend almost every weekend with new books to enjoy. That is until I learned how to drive of course. 😉
That’s the best thing about being an author. The potential to one day to be that, do that, for a reader. Inspire them to walk distances and sit on a hard floor for hours reading the worlds I craft. With all the technology now, that looks different than when I was younger, but the sentiment is the same.
Yes, I listen to custom created playlists on Spotify. I have one’s I listen to for each work in progress and a general #amwriting playlist.
When I am distractible and need to concentrate I listen to Ambient Sound Mixer. I love their Scottish Thunderstorms channel and the Ravenclaw lounge. Fun fact – when I was writing Curse Breaker, I exclusively listened to a channel I made myself.
I love the sound of a Diesel Engine most specifically a Diesel Train.
I used to live on Long Island and commute by train 2 hours to Manhattan. I would wake up at 4am getting to work an hour early every day and leaving a half hour later just to take the Diesel train. The whole truth is that I couldn’t nap on the electric trains. Something about the rumble of the Diesel makes me sleepy to this day!!
My husband and kids on the beach. Sand, sun, fun and no electronics or responsibilities. Just hanging out, being present, and making memories with them.
Readers can pre-order both of Jaclyn’s books below. While you’re waiting for them to arrive, you can read two of Jaclyn’s stories for free. Kiss Me I’m Irish , is a flash fiction short story she wrote last year for Charmed Writers and is available here on A Slice of Orange. Another piece of flash fiction, Harvest of Memories, is available in Charmed Writers Presents Flash Fiction 2019. This collection of short stories will only be available for a short time, so down load your copy today.
Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuted with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her newest release is another Sarah Blair cozy mystery, Two Bites Too Many.
Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly.
Debra served on the national boards of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She is a past president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter and is the president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
The rising decibel of the mutterings in the room indicated the natives were getting restless. Her mother had joked that nothing could start without Lance, but it wasn’t like Maybelle to keep people waiting.
Sarah checked her phone to see if she had a message from her mother.
Commotion near the door used by the council members caught Sarah’s attention. Bailey, the loan officer, stood in the doorway. This time he wasn’t burdened down with a pile of papers when he scurried into the room toward the dais. If it was possible, Sarah thought his face was even paler than before. Although he went straight to Anne Hightower, who sat erectly next to Lance’s empty chair, instead of quite facing Anne, Bailey was intently scanning the audience. He froze when his gaze met Sarah’s.
“It’s Mr. Knowlton. He’s dead!”
Not sure if she’d heard right, Sarah maintained an unbroken stare with Bailey. Only when he repeated “he’s dead” and added “your mother” did she break the linkage of their gazes to push her way out of her row and the auditorium . . .
Some Books by Debra H. Goldstein
Will greed prevail, landing the Vitality Gem in the hands of an unpure soul or will Johnny Tanzer stand in his way with the wrath of the Gods?More info →