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.”
Read Rebecca Forster!
Rebecca marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then she wrote her first book and found her passion.
Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
Have your read Rebecca Forstest’s Witness series?
It’s two in the morning and an aging cargo ship lies off the Port of Los Angeles. Deep in the bowels of the vessel, an important man is dead and the woman who killed him is mortally wounded. On shore another man staggers out of the sea determined to save the woman before she dies or the ship sails. Exhausted and terrified, he goes to the only person he trusts to help, Josie Bates.
He brings with him a history she can’t ignore, a problem that seems insurmountable, and a plea she can’t refuse. But Josie is up against international law, maritime justice, a Port Authority that doesn’t want anything to get in the way of profit, the U.S. Coast Guard who dances to the tune of politics and a captain who swears the people in question were never on his ship.
With the clock ticking, Josie becomes ever more desperate to prove the woman is real and get her safely ashore. What Josie doesn’t know is that the sands of time that are running out may be her own.
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
Josie Bates is back in Lost Witness the eighth thriller in the Witness series.
It’s two in the morning and an aging cargo ship lies off the Port of Los Angeles. Deep in the bowels of the vessel, an important man is dead and the woman who killed him is mortally wounded. On shore another man staggers out of the sea determined to save the woman before she dies or the ship sails. Exhausted and terrified, he goes to the only person he trusts to help, Josie Bates. He brings with him a history she can’t ignore, a problem that seems insurmountable, and a plea she can’t refuse. But Josie is up against international law, maritime justice, a Port Authority that doesn’t want anything to get in the way of profit, the U.S. Coast Guard who dances to the tune of politics and a captain who swears the people in question were never on his ship. With the clock ticking, Josie becomes ever more desperate to prove the woman is real and get her safely ashore. What Josie doesn’t know is that the sands of time that are running out may be her own.
“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.
Vicki Crum writes contemporary and paranormal romance, creating tales full of love and laughter and discovering one’s soul mate in the most unlikely places. Her published works include Loving Luc, Once in a Blue Moon, Moonspell, and Blood Moon (Eternal Moon Series). Vicki resides with her husband in a charming seaside community in Southern California. She has two grown daughters and two adorable grandchildren who light up her world.
We’re spending time today with contemporary and paranormal romance author Vicki Crum. Vicki’s third book in her paranormal romance Eternal Moon series has just been released.
Jann: Your Eternal Moon series is about werewolves. What drew you to this genre?
Vicki: A few years ago, my friend and critique partner, Mandy Baker, urged me to try my hand at writing a paranormal romance. I had only written contemporary romances prior to that, and one contemporary romance with futuristic elements. I tried to think what I could write exploring the paranormal world that would hold my interest. I wasn’t really a “vampire” kind of girl, so I settled on a werewolf. I’ve always been fascinated by wolves, and so I figured, why not? I could still create characters that were sexy and mysterious, and they could be awake during the day and eat whatever they wanted!
Jann: You received great reviews for Once in a Blue Moon and Moonspell. For this series, did you start with plot idea, a character or a theme?
Vicki: Oddly enough, I had started a contemporary romance that wasn’t really going anywhere, so I revamped it into what would eventually become Once in a Blue Moon by making the hero a werewolf. Only Jake was meant to be a werewolf in the beginning. I didn’t even know his love interest, Casey, was a werewolf until Jake did! A rare breed of werewolf with a case of latent genes, even Casey doesn’t know about her true heritage until Jake comes along. I can tell you I had some fun with this one!
In Moonspell, I give Casey’s handsome older brother, Reed, his own love story. Due to their odd family genetics, Reed is not a werewolf, but Marin, the woman he ultimately falls for, is. Each book in the series is connected by siblings. In Blood Moon, Austin is Marin’s brother.
Jann: Blood Moon, book three made its debut recently. What can you tell us about your characters Austin and Kat and their journey?
Vicki: Of all the characters I’ve ever written, I think Kat and Austin are my favorites. They completely captured my imagination and took over my life for a while. I love the way they relate to each other, their good-natured sparring, the immense and uncharted chemistry between them that sweeps them along, almost against their will, on an ultra-passionate adventure. The story takes place in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Austin serves as Kat’s outdoor adventure guide. Lots of beautiful scenery, wild animal encounters, and plenty of passion-filled nights. And did I mention Kat’s stalker ex-husband, who refuses to take no for an answer? A showdown at the end exposes Austin’s werewolf heritage in a sudden and violent way, causing Kat to reexamine her feelings for him, and what a future with him might look like.
Jann: What do you want the readers to take away from this series?
Vicki: I want them to have fun, to be entertained above all, to be carried along on a fantasy, passion-filled adventure as the characters meet and fall desperately in love, then struggle with how, despite the odds against them, to forge a future together.
Jann: Will there be a fourth book? If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Vicki: The next book (as yet untitled) takes us to Nashville, and yet another sibling of Marin and Austin’s. Ethan Sawyer is a popular country music star who falls for an extremely independent woman, one whose father was a famous, and very troubled, rock star. Due to Skyler’s scarred past, getting involved with a musician is a non-starter for her. She is also half Shawnee, which according to her full-blood grandmother, makes any kind of union with a shapeshifter forbidden.
Jann: Your first book, Loving Luc, is a contemporary romance. Do you have any plans to write another contemporary romance?
Vicki: Loving Luc is a contemporary romance with futuristic elements, as Luc hails from a planet in another solar system that just happens to be very similar in size and scope to Earth. But yes, I’m thinking to finish my Eternal Moon series with Ethan and Skyler’s story, and then I have several straight contemporary ideas I’d like to work on. Also, my daughter has expressed an interest in us writing a book together, so we’ll see where that idea leads.
Jann: Do you find yourself returning to certain themes in your stories?
Vicki: I would have to say the main theme in most of my books has been the tried and true “love conquers all”. I’ve paired lovers from two distant solar systems and given them their happy ending, and three of the Eternal Moon novels feature couples with incongruent genetic lines, human and werewolf. You can imagine what kinds of difficulties they might face trying to create a life together! I love the idea of discovering one’s soulmate in the most unlikely and unexpected places, wherever that may be.
Jann: Are there any words of inspiration on your computer, in your office or in your mind when you write?
Vicki: Honestly, the quote that has always inspired me the most, and I’m sorry I can’t remember who said it, goes like this, “It makes me sad to think of all the truly talented writers who eventually gave up and went away.” When I’m feeling down and discouraged, this quote gives me heart. Never give up your dreams!
Jann: Do you have a website, blog, twitter where fans might read more about you and your books?
Vicki: You can find my website at: vickicrum.wix.com/author, and catch me on Facebook at Facebook.com/vickicrum.author
Congratulation Vicki on the debut of Blood Moon!! It’s been fun getting a peek into your world of werewolves here on A Slice of Orange.
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