But She's Chloe

By this time in January, my partner and I have usually taken 1 or 2 mini vacations, seen lots of movies, and in general had big fun. Not this year.

Christmas evening, we returned home to find our Chloe laying in bed, still. She barely looked up at us. We were petrified. Despite being 14 years old, our Chloe (or Chlorine Baconskin, as we call her when trying to retrieve something she’s stolen) was an energetic, marauding thief who bosses her younger brother and sister (and us) around. The next day was no better. She also began to vomit. Off to the vet.

Bloodwork showed her liver enzymes were off the chart, immeasurably high. Her pancreatic enzymes were off as well. An ultrasound showed two masses—one on her liver and one by her pancreas. The doctors announced two possibilities: a serious infection or cancer.

No, that’s not possible. It’s Chloe, marauder extraordinaire.

We waited over a week for the results of the biopsy. Meanwhile, Chloe began to get better. More active. More bossy and complaining if supper was two minutes past the usual time. Finally, we got word that no sign of cancer or infection were found. Our primary vet, who has treated her for most of her life, warned us that the next step would likely entail more invasive procedures that would tax her already distressed liver.

Today, Chloe is her usual marauding self. Just this afternoon we discovered she’d hidden a box of tissues to rip into shreds as the mood arises. That’s why we’re staying home. To see that the girl is comfortable and happy. To keep tabs on her thievery. To get her dinner on time. And to make sure she knows she’s loved—Just because she’s Chloe.

My Chloe. Don't you just love her?

A Wish for You

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A major theme in my writing is that we are happiest when we can be who we are. I think it resonates with me because I spent so much of my life trying to be the person others expected me to be. Maybe you've had similar experiences. 

I'm starting a quest for the new year. Part envisioning, part goal setting. Why not join me? 

Once a month I'll send out a short email offering ideas and action steps to put us on the journey to living the life we imagine. Don't worry; I'll still talk about books and things. To start us off, I'm offering a brief tool to keep track of where you're going. Just click the button to join my email list. You’ll then be directed to the booklet. It will open in your browser for you to download in the usual way. You can print it double-sided, and then fold it into a booklet. I find it helpful to have something I can write on.

2019 is going to be awesome.

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National Novel Writing Month

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A few years ago I learned about a form of torture that takes place all over the world every November. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWrIMo as it has come to be known. This requires an author to write a 50,000 novel in 3o days.  I was struggling with my first book at the time and this seemed like an interesting distraction.

            I am sure I have complained about this before but it bears repeating.  No woman in her right mind would choose November for this endeavor.  

            I don’t remember how many words I wrote before realizing I was going to have company for two weeks at Thanksgiving. There were automatically 2 weeks that I would not be able to write with any kind of regularity.

            This went on for several years.  I always consoled myself with “At least you have some words you can use later.

            This year I vowed that I would win Nano whatever it took.  The first thing to go were descriptions. They are in a house damn it, what more do you want? Dialog became stilted and nothing was added beyond said, asked, or replied. And some of my characters had never used a contraction in their lives. Sometimes scenes just faded to black, and not just sex scenes.  I thought, If Criminal Minds could get away with  “as you know” conversations successfully for 14 seasons who was I to doubt its usefulness.

            Most importantly we celebrated Thanksgiving at someone else’s house.  And all decided not to exchange Christmas gifts. So I only lost 6 full days of writing.

            I counted every word religiously, keeping watch that Scrivener didn’t lie to me. My fingers developed a mind of their own and sometimes I swear I did not write those words. And my fingers were obviously delirious because those words made no sense. Maybe a letter or two that I needed but that was all. Sometimes I could figure out what I meant to say, sometimes I just had to start that part over.

            Then on November 28 Scrivener said I had reached 50,000. I didn’t trust it. I continued to write just to be sure.

            And just like that, I had won NANOWRIMO.  It had only taken me 10 years to accomplish.  It’s a terrible rough draft but who cares.  I did it.

 I DID IT!

Rhode Island ComicCon

Whew. Finally all recovered from a weekend like RICC, Rhode Island Comic Con. My partner and I go every year, and usually buy way too much superhero/rockstar/wrestling paraphernalia. While I won’t say we didn’t buy anything, I can say we didn’t do the usual amount of damage.

There were three highlights for us. The main highlight, the once in a lifetime one, was attending an intimate discussion with Tim Curry. Yes, you heard me. Tim Curry, of IT, Clue, Legend and a hundred other movies, my favorite of them being Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tere’s only one word to describe Mr.Curry in that movie: Yummy.

But I digress.

As you might know, he’s not been well for some time. I understand he’s had one, maybe two strokes that have left him unable to walk. But he is still the same beautiful man with the same sharp wit. He spoke of his various roles, and shared many stories about his life “on set”. When asked about the most recent version of Rocky Horror, he stated that while Laverne Cox was beautiful and terrific in the role she played, overall he found the make unnecessary. By casting a transgendered woman in the role of Frank N Furter, he believed they missed the point that Frank N Furter was a transvestite, not a transgendered person, and that he, “would fuck anything”.

Gotta love him.

Another highlight of the weekend also related to Rocky Horror: A Panel discussion with Meatloaf and Barry Bostwick. Clearly these two have been on panels together before, because they had a comfortable (if not biting) banter between them.

Finally, after chasing his misbehaving butt down all weekend, I finally caught up with Lil Monkey. He’d run off to join the cosplaying pirates. I tell you, he was lucky I found him. I was about to leave his ungrateful ass.

Not. Who loves ya, Monkey? Can’t wait until next year.

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Dress Up Dress Down with Stacy Juba

Join me in welcoming author Stacy Juba to Living After Midnight!


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Jaine, the protagonist of my chick lit novel Fooling Around With Cinderella (Storybook Valley #1) dresses in casual tops and jeans until she gets hired as a theme park Cinderella. Then her daily wardrobe becomes a rich gold ball gown embroidered with silver thread and gleaming pearls. It has lots of tulle, and she feels like a parade float. She also has to wear a tiara and translucent pumps that resemble glass slippers.

Wearing this outfit makes her identifiable as Cinderella. Children follow her around, dads flirt with her, and her coworkers nickname her Cindy.

She feels way out of her comfort zone dressing like a princess. On her lunch breaks, when the castle door is locked, she kicks off her glass slippers and puts on a pair of comfy flip flops. 

Jaine lets herself get talked into playing Cinderella as she is an out-of-work marketing professional, and her cute new boss Dylan has offered her a full-time office job in the fall. Unfortunately, the offer has strings attached - helping Dylan to break the Cinderella Curse by filling in as the park’s star princess. Accepting the Cinderella gig shows how desperate this Plain Jaine is for a job and for a happily ever after.

About the Author

Stacy Juba got engaged at Epcot Theme Park and spent part of her honeymoon at Disneyland Paris, where she ate a burger, went on fast rides, and threw up on the train ride to the hotel. In addition to working on her new Storybook Valley chick lit/sweet romance series, Stacy has written books about ice hockey, teen psychics, U.S. flag etiquette for kids, and determined women sleuths. She has had a novel ranked as #5 in the Nook Store and #30 on the Amazon Kindle Paid List. When she’s not visiting theme parks with her family, (avoiding rides that spin and exotic hamburgers) or writing about them, Stacy helps authors to strengthen their manuscripts through her Crossroads Editing Service. She is currently writing the next book in the Storybook Valley Series and teaching online classes for writers. Visit her website at www.stacyjuba.com to get your free Storybook Valley Welcome Kit. 

Find Stacy at these links:

Website: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Juba/100155471301

Twitter:https://twitter.com/stacyjuba

Fooling Around With Cinderella - Storybook Valley #1

Ever wondered what those cheerful theme park princesses are really thinking? When twenty-five-year-old Jaine proposes a new marketing role to the local amusement park, the general manager Dylan charms her into filling Cinderella’s glass slippers for the summer. Her reign transforms Jaine’s ordinary life into chaos that would bewilder a fairy godmother. Secretly dating her bad boy boss, running wedding errands for her ungrateful sisters, and defending herself from the park’s resident villain means Jaine needs lots more than a comfy pair of shoes to restore order in her kingdom…

Buy Links:

Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Fooling-Around-Cinderella-Storybook-Valley-ebook/dp/B0173T2MMO/ref

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fooling-around-with-cinderella-stacy-juba/1122680940?ean=2940152324976

Kobo:https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/fooling-around-with-cinderella

iBookstore:https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1042194826

Excerpt:

Dylan scrutinized Jaine, arms folded across his royal blue shirt with the Storybook Valley logo stamped over the left in white block letters. “Do you wear contacts?”

“I have plenty of media contacts. Wait. Did you say wear contacts? You mean instead of these?” Jaine fingered the earpiece of her gold-rimmed glasses.

“Right. Contact lenses.”

She gave a nervous chuckle. “I scheduled a consultation in college, but was too squeamish to insert the lens. I was more comfortable in glasses.”

Was she really justifying her vision enhancement choices to her prospective new boss? Maybe he intended to discuss medical benefits. Or did he think she looked nerdy? What was the saying? Guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses? Not that she wantedhim to make a pass even if he washot.

“How blind are you without glasses?” Dylan persisted.

“You wouldn’t want to drive with me.”

“How about if you’re walking around a building? Are you in danger of hurting yourself?”

This interview had taken the Mad Hatter Freeway from Fairy Tale Land into Wonderland where nothing made a damn bit of sense. Did this guy have a glasses fetish, like those weirdoes with shoe fetishes?

“I should be okay. I take them off for special occasions.” In fact, Jaine’s older sister Bree, who was getting married in August, remarked just last week, “You are losing the glasses for my wedding pictures, right?”

What the hell. She’d be a good sport and hope Dylan would be so grateful to pick the brain of a real, flesh and blood, bespectacled person that he would appoint her marketing director. Jaine removed her glasses and the fine details of her surroundings fuzzed. She nodded toward the framed print hanging on a side wall, the picture a wash of symbols and colors. “I can tell that’s a park map, but the words and images smear together.”

And that was myopia in a nutshell. Jaine adjusted her glasses back into place so she could see his reaction. Dylan examined her with such intensity that a blush stained her cheeks. She patted her blonde French braid, in case stray strands were straggling out.

“Here’s the situation,” Dylan said. “I took over the general manager position a few months ago. I’m evaluating possible changes and researching how other theme parks run. My grandfather and father have worked with a marketing firm for years to create our brochures, billboards, print, and radio ads.”

Jaine’s shoulders caved, imperceptible to him, but it felt as if her whole body was sinking.

No fairy tale job ending for her.

Dress Up Dress Down with Helen B. Henderson

In this week’s post, Anastasia of Clan Weiss shows off her style from Dragon Destiny(Book 1 of the Dragshi Chronicles.) 

Tell us about your heroine’s typical style of dress. What is the condition of the clothing?

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Unlike the ladies who reside in towns and even some of her own kin, Anastasia of Dragon Destinyis usually found in pants rather than skirts. A jacket keeps out the worst of the crisp breeze and winter’s grasp.

Is this how she wants to dress?  If yes, why? If not, what would she choose to wear and why?

As t why she dresses in something other than the popular style? Anastasia is the teacher for her train and teaching little ones often requires speed and flexibility unhampered by a long skirt. Another reason she wears pants is that by her own choice, she often rides rear guard for the caravan for the solitude it provides. Her trail clothes are well worn leathers suitable for long hours in a saddle or the seat of a wagon.

There are times in the Dragshi Chronicles where Anastasia dreams of wearing a fancy gown at a formal ball, but practicality takes precedence. 

Does your heroine change her style of dress over the course of the book? If so, how, and what does it mean, if anything?

As one of the few true humans who can communicate using mindspeech with either true dragons or the dragshi (humans with a twinned dragon soul), she is chosen for a special mission to find a missing dragon. To accomplish her goal she goes undercover as a sailor and trades in her leathers for the garb of the sea. Among the changes she makes is to cut her hair short. The impromptu disguise causes heartache when she wonders if the man she loves with hate her new look, but saves her life when she comes face to face with his enemy, the pirate Lady Broch. At least at that encounter, Broch did not see her enemy, the black-haired trader girl with long tresses, in the short-haired sailor with sun-streaked curls.

This was not the only time that Anastasia was in disguise. During her training with the Ceoltier Guild which she was given in preparation of serving the dragshi, she wore boy’s clothing. There were those who would have hunted her down and killed her. But since everyone knew that no female could be a ceoltier, her role as an apprentice (and as such a boy) gave her added protection beyond that provided by the weapons training provided by the guild.

How do his or her outfits set your hero apart from other characters?

At a special birthday dance, even though she wore a long skirt and vest for the event, her outfit still set her apart as a trader rather than a townsman. The dark blue fabric contrasted with the browns and reds worn by the local girls. The new vest she wore showed how she was neither a local nor a trader. The one was by birth and the other by circumstances as Anastasia was trapped by duty with no foreseeable escape. The vest did not have the usual colored embroidery of a trader’s clothing. In fact, the only adornment was a stylized dragon in flight embroidered in gold on the shoulder. It might be just a simple design, but it meant more to her than the fanciest gown worn by any of the other girls. Anastasia’s mother once told her the flying dragon marked a bond between the old ones and her kin, Clan Weiss.

How can readers keep in touch with you?

I love to hear from my readers and I always invite them to join me on journeys to worlds of imagination. They can find me in the virtual world on my blog: helenhenderson-author.blogspot.comor at the following spots:

Facebook— www.facebook.com/HelenHenderson.author

Twitter— twitter.com/history2write

Goodreads— www.goodreads.com/author/show/777491.Helen_Henderson

Dragon Destiny

Blurb:

Lord Branin of the dragshi, is more than just a man, but two beings—one a dragon, the other a human. The pair share one body in space and time and are able to change forms with the other at will. From the time Branin's twinned soul, Llewlyn, awoke, Branin knew the freedom of flight. However, being a shifter came with a price. Branin and Llewlyn are the only two of their kind who have not found their intended mates, despite millennia of waiting... and searching.

When a faint thought impinged on Branin's mind, hope for an ending to eons of loneliness soared. Plagued by doubts because no signs of a dragon shifter's birth have been seen, he searches the world for the mysterious girl he only knows by the name, Anastasia.

However, the firebrand raider, Lady Broch of Ky'port has her own plan--to wed the dragon lord -- with or without his willing cooperation. And she will not tolerate anyone, not even a dragon lord or his twinned soul, from standing in her way.

Since we’ve been discussing clothing, an excerpt dealing with her presentation ceremony. The event is made even more special since it is being held on Anastasia’s birthday. Her life on the trail meant that celebrating her birthday was a simple affair and the customary presentation party was not held when she became of age.


 

Excerpt from Dragon Destiny:

A soft knock on the door shifted Anastasia’s attention and changed her mood to a more dignified one. At her lilting, “Come,” Lady Eirwen entered on Ranald’s arm. Dealan and Karenina followed close behind in a hiss of starlton. Chains of silver-filigreed rosettes and beads circled all three women’s upswept hair. The cut of Eirwen’s pale blue gown and the embroidered silk trim on the bodice and sleeves reflected a style long out of fashion. Anastasia smiled at her aunt’s own vintage dress, which harmonized perfectly with the ones worn by Eirwen and Dealan.

“You look beautiful, Anastasia,” Karenina said. Tears shimmered in her eyes. “Your mother would be so proud of you. Here, dear, it’s almost time to leave, let me finish your hair.”

A hint of winter roses wafted past. Anastasia bent her head for Karenina to complete a final detail of crystals.

The strains of an old mountain tune floated into the room when the servant opened the double doors that led outside. A glance in the mirror showed a shimmering crown of sparkling diamonds woven into the curls of her dark braids. With a deep breath, Anastasia stood, took Ranald’s offered arm, and followed her aunt and the two dragshi out the door to her future… and she hoped... Branin.

Anastasia clung to Ranald’s arm. She kept her gaze focused on the backs of her aunt, Eirwen, and Dealan, as they led the way toward the great hall where the presentation guests waited. One corridor led to another, each one brightly lit by hundreds of candles. Although she had traveled the same path many times since arriving at Cloud Eyrie, the walls seemed to glow with a special magic. The river of light ended at a staircase that curved down to the main hall. Granite treads gleamed from the moonbeams filtering through massive skylights.

Dealan sneaked a look over the railing at those below. “It looks like everything is ready,” she whispered. “It just needs you, Anastasia.”

Anastasia’s fought to slow her racing pulse. Not trusting her voice, she nodded.

Dealan waved at Vivel and Oran, before moving to stand behind Eirwen.

Oran left the small gathering of dragshi and strode to the bottom of the staircase. Pride showed in the journeyman’s face. “Lords and ladies, honored guests. Acting on behalf of Arianrhod, matriarch of Clan Miller, Lady Eirwen of Cloud Eyrie claims the right of eldest kin.”

Anastasia, watching Eirwen glide down the stairs, hoped her descent would be as graceful as the dragshi’s.

Next Oran introduced Dealan, sponsoring Anastasia on behalf of the women of Clan Miller who had passed beyond the veil. Dealan walked with a light step down the stairs to her waiting husband. Karenina stepped forward. Silence filled the hall, enabling her voice to carry to the far ends and echo back. “As head mistress of Clan Miller, I present to you Anastasia, daughter of Voirrey and Yunka.” After a final smile at Anastasia, Karenina, her head high with a reserved dignity, joined the others gathered below.

Despite having Ranald for support, Anastasia felt alone standing at the top of the stairs. Don’t trip. The light embrace Ranald gave her reminded Anastasia of her mother’s hugs. The trembling in her legs vanished. “I’m ready,” she whispered.

Trumpet flourishes rang out. On the third bar, Anastasia started down the stairs in the stately tread of the presentation march.

Ranald stopped on the lowest landing, a mere dozen steps from the bottom. “I’m glad I claimed the right of elder kin,” he murmured. Anastasia felt his lips graze her cheek in a chaste kiss, then, he stepped to the side, leaving her standing alone. Although she heard the words with her ears, Anastasia swore she also heard in silver tones in her mind, “Welcome, Anastasia of Clan Miller.”

Straightening from her deep curtsy, Anastasia now had no choice but to look out over the crowded hall. Cloud Eyrie was so big she had not realized there were so many people living there. Her eyes searched the throng until she found Branin standing off to one side. The wink he tossed removed the last of her nerves.

Dress Up Dress Down with Viviana MacKade

Join me in welcoming author Viviana MacKade to Living After Midnight

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•   Tell us about your hero’s or heroine’s typical style of dress.

Summer is very casual. She likes to be comfortable, especially at work (she’s a GP). Her signature style is jeans and sneakers, hair in a ponytail.

Aidan doesn’t care. Much like Summer, he wants to be comfortable. Jeans and boots, throw in a leather jacket, and he’s perfectly at ease. Now, the state of said clothes changes based on his work (he’s a sculptor). He can end up covered in dust and crumbles of stone, or with only a few specks. 

•   What happens when or if your character wears the opposite style?

Summer enjoys the occasional dressing up, but to her is a game, something to do for fun every once in a while. 

The only time Aidan ever accepted formal wear was for his wedding. In that occasion, wearing a suit and tie wasn’t a stretch or an imposition, he was actually happy to do it. 

•   What would she/ he never wear? Why?

Summer would never wear something extremely sexy. She’d probably laugh and shake her head. 

Aidan would probably shred to pieces any suit coming his way. 

•   Does your hero or heroine change his style of dress over the course of the book? If so, how, and what does it mean, if anything?

No, they stay the same. There’s no reason for them to change it. 

His Midnight Sun 

by Viviana MacKade

Tormented, fierce, and broken, sculptor Aidan Murphy has judged himself guilty. He yearns for love but pushes everyone away. He longs for acceptance but has lost the key to open his heart. Until he meets Summer Williams. Beautiful and smart, Dr. Williams promises haven for a man who believes he deserves none. All he has to do is let her in and risk his heart and soul.

Summer’s managed to keep her inner light alive, even through tragedy. She’s created a new life for herself and her daughter in Crescent Creek with loving, caring and fun friends–well, except brooding, breathtaking Aidan. She’s used to keeping away from his type, though. All she has to do is ignore the pull of a man who’s turning up to be much more than snarls and storms. Will her compassion and medical instincts let her?

Love can heal a broken soul and shake up a timid heart. Or it can unleash devastation and revenge. 

Will Aidan and Summer survive the hurricane?

Release September 15, available for pre-sale 

$ 0.99 FREE with KU

Buy Link

Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07GDP26VB?

https://goo.gl/L8okF6

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THE AUTHOR

Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.

Find me:

On my websitehttp://www.viviana-mackade.blog/

On FB

On Twitter

Amazon Author page


Excerpt

Prolog

Fire.

Fire would eat all.

The simple, brown casket entered the cremation chamber accompanied by the soft crying of the mourners.

A sister. So-called friends. No mother or father in the crowd–a small blessing, as no parent should live to see a son’s death. Even more so when he’d committed suicide. Grabbed a gun, let the black hole of desperation drench his mind and pulled the trigger. The maid said he’d cursed one name right before he ended all: Summer.

Pain and anger rattled through Lilith Chapman. Along with Stephen’s brain, her heart had shattered that day.

Lilith had known she could save him, had always known. With time, she’d have made him forget he’d ever loved anybody but her.

He didn’t give her time.

His sister had pressed him to visit doctors. Depression, she’d called it.

Bullshit.

Love killed Stephen.

Sweet Stephen. A gentle, caring soul who only wanted affection and care. No harsh word ever left his mouth; his hands knew no fists.

With him, Lilith never had to face fear. She knew all about it thanks to her father first, and her deceased husband later. Not with Stephen. Never with him. For the first time in her life, she’d been the strong one, the one leading. Day after day she’d listened to him, to the winnings and the losses of a man who possessed everything. Money, power, a place in society. Not someone to share it with, though. Until, silly man, he’d believed he’d found The One: Doctor Summer Williams. A woman who had left him with a few words and no remorse.

Lilith had heard his heart shatter with a singing soul. With patience, had watched Stephen spiraling down and downer in a place always darker and more desperate. She only had to wait. Once he hit the bottom, he’d realize Summer was not worth it. Stephen would finally open his eyes and see her, Lilith.

At the bottom though, he’d found a gun.

And now she had nothing.

Sure, he’d left money to her, a lot of it, enough she didn’t have to worry about working or anything else anymore. Too bad she didn’t care for it.

She wanted Stephen, but Summer Williams had taken him away forever.

And for that, Lilith would bring tears and blood.

Summer’s tears and blood.

She, Lilith, was going to own his final words of hate, carry on his vengeance and make sure Summer Williams witnessed the crumbling of her world. Everyone she held dear would perish in front of her eyes. And then Lilith could go to him where they would be together. Forever.

“I promise you,” she whispered to the burning casket. “I promise you, love will kill again.”

FanGirl Forever

You should have seen me when I found this little gem in Dollar Tree. I had to contain my giddy voice and behavior while making sure to put two of these babies in my basket before anyone else could grab them.

I’ve had the fortune to meet Jason Momoa a few times at fan events. At one of them, I spent a lot of time with him, including having breakfast with him. He remembered me, too. When he would pass me in the hall he’d yell out “Connecticut!”. It was awesome.

At that event and every other one, he was exactly the man you think he is. Gorgeous. Hyperactive. Hilariously funny. A little goofy. And did I say extremely gorgeous?

Of course, intellectually I knew that no one was going to snatch the bags out of my hands, but my excited fangirl-self wasn’t going to take a chance. I mean: Jason Momoa. Aquaman. Can you blame me?

My only regret is not buying three.

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Dress Up Dress Down with Kayelle Allen

 Join me in welcoming Kayelle Allen to Living After Midnight!

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Trevann, thank you for inviting me over to share with your readers. I'm excited to share my new short space opera, featured in The Expanding Universe Vol 4. How about an insight into the hero? I'll tell you about what he wears, because in this military-oriented story, his uniform is as much a part of the plot as his weapons.

Let me start by introducing the hero. Tornahdo -- no other name -- is a ghost. Not the Halloween type and certainly not a spirit. He's flesh and blood. As a special ops soldier, he fought a race of immortals called the Ultras. They are nearly impossible to kill, but mankind discovered a secret. If they infused the blood of an Ultra into a human, they could bring the human back to life.

That gave them the idea of resurrecting special ops warriors who could do the most damage on the front lines. That's where Tornahdo comes in. As Lights Out opens, he's died once before and is waking on a gurney, aware he's failed again. When he's later sent on a mission to capture the Ultra's king, he knows this is it. If he fails this time, he won't be brought back, because failure means the Ultras could rule for another thousand years.

Tornahdo's uniform is mostly grey or black, or a grayish camouflage. But what sets it apart from regular army is the Ghost Corps insignia, a black funerary urn on a white field. To him, the white part forms half a ghost, but no one else seems to see it. He is proud of his uniform. After all, he had to die to get it.

The fact that he wears his uniform on and off duty reveals a lot about his character. It isn't so much that he's gung-ho military as it is there is nowhere else to go but the base. Tornahdo's family thinks he's dead. He can't be seen in public and has even given up his real name so no one can track from him to those he left behind. He has truly become a ghost.

Near the end of the story, Tornahdo recognizes the true meaning behind the Ghost Corps symbol. His actions then change the course of his entire life. I can't tell you what that is. You'll have to read Lights Out to discover that for yourself.

Tornahdo was reared by his maternal grandmother and has a strong sense of family. Even so, he's always harbored a desire to belong. The corps, a tight knit bond of soldiers who survived even death -- how great would it be to belong with them? As Tornahdo proceeds through the story, his intellect, emotions, and even his loyalties are tested. He must decide whether to accept death is final, or embrace a new ending.

Here's a snippet from the opening of the story.

Excerpt from Lights Out

The air reeked of antiseptic and starch stiffened the pillowcase. If only the mind-numbing jabbering would stop.

Tornahdo pried open his eyes. The flattened blood bag above him, stenciled equipment and gray walls screamed military hospital.

He'd died. Again.

Spanish curses slipped out. His abuelawould've taken a switch to him. He made the sign of the cross and kissed his fingertips.

After yanking the tube out of his arm, he pressed a thumb over the entry point. Thankfully, this time, he wasn't writhing on the floor in agony. Well, not yet.

A faceless android in a Ghost Corps uniform loomed over a bank of equipment displaying Tornahdo's name and vitals. First impression was right. Military hospital.

The weapons-grade yapping continued.

"Did you hear?" a youthful voice bragged. "He killed six of 'em last night."

"Yeah, but they don't stay dead. They never do."

"If Ultras didn't come back to life, their plasma wouldn't bring our own people back."

The transfusion of enemy blood healed the hole in Tornahdo's arm in seconds. He thumbed off the red smear and rolled over on the gurney.

An open door led to a sink and toilet built to let gravity do its work. Which meant this was a planet. You hadn't lived until you were in space, floating in zero gravity while your body's final twitches sent your corpse spinning.

Notices on the wall confirmed this was San Xavier in the Colonies of Man. Same place he'd bought it the first time.

This was getting old.

Lights Out by Kayelle Allen
He can save mankind. Afterhe does one important thing. Die.
Join the Ghost Corps, they said. You'll live forever, they said. You'll save mankind, they said. They didn't say that to do it, first he had to die.
When Tornahdo signs on the dotted line, he puts his life into the steady hands of the mighty Ghost Corps. Three grisly deaths and three agonizing resurrections later, he's assigned duty on the space station Enderium Six.
He's facing his most dangerous mission yet, the very reason the corps exists.
Do they expect him to win? Fat chance. Tornahdo and his team are already dead and this mission is codenamed "Lights Out." No, there's more to this than he can see.
To discover the truth, he must face an unbeatable, unkillable enemy, and this time--somehow--find a way to keep himself alive...
Lights Out is in the Science Fiction/Space Opera anthology The Expanding Universe Vol 4, edited by Craig Martelle.
https://kayelleallen.com/lights-out-save-mankind/

Buy Link https://amzn.to/2QxKBGB

Lights Out Inside Peek

Go behind the scenes with the world and characters of Lights Out, a free downloadable illustrated book with inside information, exclusive character insights, and links to the author's research.

https://bit.ly/peek-lights-out

Kayelle Allenwrites Sci Fi and Space Opera with misbehaving robots, mythic heroes, role playing immortal gamers, and warriors who purr. She's a US Navy veteran who's been married so long she's tenured.
Join one of Kayelle's reader groups and get four free books right away. You'll get the inside scoop about current books and access to special contests limited to members only. When a book releases, members get exclusive sneak peeks. Choose whether you want your newsletter to feature Sci Fi, Space Opera and Fantasy, or Sci Fi, Space Opera and Fantasy PLUS romance. https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups
Homeworld https://kayelleallen.com
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Join one of Kayelle's Reader Groups. You can download four free books and get news about books coming soon. You can unsubscribe at any time. https://kayelleallen.com/reader-groups

 

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Dress up Dress Down Featuring Ann Raina

Please join me in welcoming Ann Raina to Living After Midnight. 

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•   Tell us about your hero’s typical style of dress. What is the condition of the clothing?

Nicolas Hayes is an FBI agent which means he has to follow the bureau’s dress code while on duty. This includes a dark, not necessarily black suit, white dress shirt with a matching, unobtrusive tie, and shined shoes. There’s no deviation from this rule even if he sweats buckets in summer.

•   What does the choice of clothing tell us about him?

Nick’s dedicated to his job and wouldn’t dare show up at work in jeans and t-shirt. It’d be against his nature to appear sloppy even if only he’d think of himself as an addlebrained wood worker with a predilection for red-checkered flannel shirts and baggy pants.

•   How do his outfits set your hero apart from other characters?

Nick always dresses to the nines—not only while working. His lover, Jacklyn, appreciates his dedication to detail when he takes her out. He matches his suit to the colors of her dress, and he’s circumspect to never outshine her—if that’s ever possible.

•   Is this how he wants to dress? If yes, why? If not, what would he choose to wear and why?

While at work, Nick represents the FBI and its high standards in dress code and behavior. During the private and very intimate time with his lover he’s more into wearing little to nothing…if you leave out the handcuffs and other stylish leather and metal accessories that the couple associates with their special love life.

About Ann

Ann Raina lives and works in Germany with cats and a horse. Riding and writing are her favorite hobbies. So far, she has written twenty novels for eXtasy Books with more to come. Her latest series, starting with Twisted Mind,revolves around an FBI agent, his very dominant lover, and cases of violent crime.

In all her books, she combines romance, suspense, and humorous elements, for no thrilling story can stand without a comic relief. 

You can reach Ann at annraina@yahoo.com

On Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ann.raina.7

~~~~

Book : Twisted Mind, released 06/29/18 by eXtasy books

Link http://www.extasybooks.com/ann-raina/978-1-4874-1595-2-twisted-mind/

After four murders of young men along the east coast, the FBI realizes they’re dealing with a serial killer. Agent Nicolas Hayes is assigned to lead the investigation. Besides solving the crimes, he tries to spend time with his new flame, Jacky, who’s got ideas of her own about how their love life should develop. Things turn ugly once a fifth kidnap victim is reported. Time is running out to find him alive.

Excerpt

Nicolas put his elbows on the table. “Can I ask you a question and expect you’ll answer it seriously without the usual mocking?” 

Jason stopped chewing his hamburger to look intently at him, mouth full. He put down his lunch, wiped his lips clean and took his time to swallow the bite. “If you start like that, it sounds so damn serious I feel ants trampling down my spine.”

“I’ve heard better metaphors before. But, honestly, will you answer me?”

“Yep.” Jason took a swig of his Diet Pepsi without losing eye contact.

Nicolas still doubted his friend’s seriousness but went on quietly. “Jacklyn proposed some…games in the bedroom. She calls me a chicken because I’m not familiar with them and not really at ease with ropes and other shackles.”

Jason’s eyes widened, but he kept his mouth shut. The waitress came to ask if the food was all right, and they both agreed. She left with a professional smile.

Once again, Nicolas thought it hadn’t been the smartest idea to bring up the subject. “See, she stopped when she realized I was uncomfortable, but I see it in her eyes. She wants to…play.” He wrung his hands and stopped once he became aware. “She gets aroused by chains and gags and what she’s got in her closet.”

“You didn’t check? I’d have checked what she’s got in store. Maybe there’s a roll of barbed wire. That, honestly, I wouldn’t want around my wrists or any other body part.”

Nicolas cocked his head and sighed. “I just need…a hint. A direction. It’s nothing I’ve ever come across.”

“Yeah, and since you’re the most experienced man under thirty in this country, you’ve got the right to—”

“Hell, Jason, can you for once be serious?”

Jason pursed his lips, and the flicker of amusement left his eyes. “She asked you to be frank from the first moment on, right? Right. She’s been frank with you and asked you about kinky games in the bedroom. It’s something she wants. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have asked you. Why not play along? She’s fond of you, on the way toward coming to love you. Don’t think…too conservatively. As an FBI agent, you’ve learned to think outside the box. Only when it comes to a love affair, you want to do it strictly by the book? Get real! Jacklyn wants to have fun with you, and her fun includes some toys. As long as she stops when you…chicken out, you’ll both be fine.”

“Till the last sentence, I was close to believing you.”

Jason folded his arms and tried in vain to remain serious. “In my humble opinion, you’ve been overrun by her self-confidence so badly you’re still struggling to crawl out and get back in shape.”

“Right now, I see Wile E. Coyote.”

“You’re afraid she’s going to dictate every part of your relationship.”

“Isn’t it always like that? The woman controls the relationship? If she doesn’t want what the man proposes, you don’t stand a chance.”

Jason rolled his eyes and blew out air. “That’s too philosophical for lunch.” He continued eating his hamburger.

“So you think I should let her tie me up?”

Jason’s expression changed from amused to mock compassion. Again, he needed a moment to swallow the bite. “Nick, if that woman fucks you blind and sends you to heaven just because you’re tied up and gagged—why the hell not?”

“You make it sound so easy.”

“You’re making everything too difficult. Do you need your hands when she’s doing all the work? Do you have to talk while having sex? If you can say no to both without throwing up the steak you just had, then give up control to Mrs. France and be happy.”

Nicolas chuckled as he looked down on his empty plate. “Okay, that sounds simple enough, even for me.”

“Glad I could help.”

~~~~

Thanks, Ann. It's been a pleasure to have you on LAM. Come back any time!

Dress Up, Dress Down with Addison Brae

Allison Brae

Allison Brae

Please join me in welcoming author Addison Brae!

~~~~~

Harvard honors graduate. Accountant. Bartender. Narcotics dealer. Can Gillian’s clothes cover all roles?

1) What does the choice of clothing tell us about your heroine?

Becker Circle’s opening line starts with Gillian, the main character and heroine, heading to her first night bartending, her second job. She lacks confidence and feels like she’s jumping into uncomfortable territory. Her only boyfriend controlled her every move, cut her down, and sucked away her self-esteem.

I peek back at my butt in these loose-fitting jeans and all I see is sad.

2) Does your heroine change her style of dress over the course of the book? If so, how, and what does it mean, if anything?

Clothes often make a character—just like the way we dress can help us feel good about ourselves. So much to experience. Giant past to forget. Change is certain for Gillian. She’s determined to do whatever it takes to reach her dreams to believe in herself and find love.

3) Is this how she wants to dress? If yes, why? If not, what would she choose to wear and why?

Gillian asks a stylish neighbor to help her pick out new clothes the new Gillian would wear. She likes the results—at first.

All it takes is a haircut and new clothes for a three-hundred buck tip night? Until someone comments on her new look.

4) What happens when or if your character wears the opposite style

I’d rather crawl under the bar rather than believe someone really thinks I’m pretty. 

Some of you will understand how Gillian feels as she rebuilds her confidence whittled down by a narcissistic boyfriend. I’ve certainly had those moments. The way she dresses affects how her co-workers, customers, and guys respond to her. It takes time to grow into her new look that takes her down a rollercoaster path:

Harvard honors graduate. Accountant. Bartender. Narcotics dealer.

Can she live up to her style by the end of Becker Circle?

Bio

Addison Brae lives in Dallas, Texas on the edge of downtown. As a child, she was constantly in trouble for hiding under the bed to read when she was supposed to be napping. She has been writing since childhood starting with diaries, letters and short stories. She continues today with articles, video scripts and other content as an independent marketing consultant. 

When she’s not writing, Addison spends her time traveling the world, collecting interesting cocktail recipes and hosting parties. She’s still addicted to reading and enjoys jogging in her neighborhood park, sipping red wine, binge-watching TV series, vintage clothing, and hanging out with her artistic other half and their neurotic cat Lucy.

Learn more about Addison on her website. Connect with Addison on TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookbub, her Amazon author pageTirgearr Publishing, and YouTube.

Purchase Becker Circle on Amazon USAAmazon UKAmazon CanadaSmashwordsiTunesKoboB&N Nook.

Book Blurb

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My first and only boyfriend believed I was too gutless to leave. He was dead wrong. My name’s Gillian, and I graduated Harvard early and left his hot temper and everyone else behind for Dallas. Determined to make it on my own, I land a second job bartending at the neighborhood pub smack in drama central where most every jerk in the neighborhood hits on me—at a huge price.

A week into the job, the neighborhood’s very popular drug dealer falls to his death a few feet from the table I’m serving. The cops say suicide, but the hot guitar player in the house band and I suspect foul play, and I intend to prove it. We dig deeper, grow closer, and make a shocking discovery. We know the murderer. Watch the trailer.

A portion of the author proceeds will go to Hope’s Door New Beginning Center to help fight domestic abuse.

Excerpt from chapter three

All it takes is a haircut and new clothes for a three-hundred buck tip night? And the pub was pretty slow for a Saturday. If I can top that today, or even come close, I’ll buy more.

It’s a football Sunday, so beer has to be well-stocked. On the way to the back, I check for my new Harvard opener in my back pocket and smooth the fitted blue top Julie picked out over my new jeans. At least it’s the game in some tropical destination between the playoffs and championship. People might actually pay more attention to eating and drinking. They might stay in a happier mood so they don’t skimp on tips.

Kyle’s at his usual table outside, bottle of his usual beer in hand and glued to the game. When I pop up from stocking the fridge, Moneybags Bobby stands next to the bar. The chair where the mystery guy sits and watches him remains empty.

“Usual?” I ask even though I’ve already started pouring. He nods and hands me the two twenties I’ve come to expect, and then works his way around the bar speaking to each person. Every time he walks near the sofa, I wonder if someone else dives in deeper with another score.

The TV by the fireplace isn’t tuned to ESPN yet, and it’s the blasted one that doesn’t work right. The remote has to be about five inches from the TV, so I climb onto a barstool, and then I feel a sting on my butt. “Ahhh!” I wave my arms to get my balance.

“Steve! What the…?”

“You’re looking pretty hot in those jeans, Gillian.”

“Don’t smack me again. Scared the crap out of me!” I right myself and put both feet safely on the ground. “Do you fancy taking this shift solo tonight while they put me back together in the emergency room?”

“Sorry, love, didn’t mean to.” His braided beard bounces as he chuckles. “You just look different than when we first met. The hair. The clothes and makeup. Lookin’ good.”

He’s the first one to notice and actually say something. “You think so?” I’m never sure if people really mean what they say or if they just want something.

He stops wiping down the bar and looks straight at me. “Wouldn’t say it if I didn’t.”

“Thank you.” I’m glad my hair covers my ears so Steve doesn’t notice they’ve turned fiery red.

“Have you seen yourself?”

I look up and Steve’s pointing his phone at me. “Did you take my picture?”

“Look. Especially the smile.” He shows me the photo he took. “You look so much happier with yourself. You’re very pretty.”

I’d rather crawl under the bar rather than believe someone really thinks I’m pretty.

“I’m sending this to you so you remember.” Then he turns his attention to the bar.