"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Friday, March 30, 2012

Guest Post & Giveaway with Dakota Banks, Author of the Mortal Path Series

Kiki, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to appear on Authors by Authors. It’s a pleasure visiting you and your blog readers.

I was inspired by that double Author reference in your blog name to talk about writing experiences today, including sharing the advice of other authors. You’ve probably heard the expression that publishing a book is like giving birth to a child. I’d say it’s more like giving birth to an elephant. That’s 22 months of carrying that critter around and then allowing the passage of a 250-pound baby into the world. It may not literally be like that, but it might seem like that.

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don't feel like it, and sometimes you're doing good work when it feels like all you're managing is to shovel s**t from a sitting position.” Stephen King

Writing should be a joy to accomplish, and usually is—except when it isn’t. Authors can go through difficult times with their books, times when they begin to wonder if they shouldn’t pitch the whole thing, while simultaneously loving it. Very much like raising teenagers. The teen (book) has to be told what to do over and over (wandering from the plot), won’t clean up its room (bad writing), stays out after curfew (oh, those long, frustrating writing sessions), and gives you no respect (sentences refuse to convey your vision). What can you do? Persist.

“Books aren't written, they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it...” - Michael Crichton

Putting your book under the knife can be very difficult. I’d suggest waiting at least a couple of weeks after you finish it to let the glow of creation wear off; it will help you be more objective. Don’t rush this process. If you become bored/frustrated/frightened that your work won’t measure up, take a break and work on something else. Editors will know if the editing job has been rushed because there will be a lot of places where the book doesn’t live up to its own standards, the ones it sets in its best moments. Readers will know because the reading experience won’t be enjoyable. Even if you have a dynamic plot and characters with much potential, you can flub things up by not pruning excess scenes, having stiff dialogue, and leaving your manuscript loaded with logical errors. This will give the impression (and it will probably be right) that the book was hastily written and rushed to market. What’s the hurry? Agents and editors want books that will need minimal work to be publishable. Don’t disappoint them. If you’re self-publishing, how are you going to build up a reading audience that will look for your next book if you provide a reading experience that shows that you didn’t care enough about your writing project to take great care with it? If you didn’t, why should readers?

Personally I enjoy editing. I do a lot of editing on my first pass through the book, so what I end up with isn’t a rough draft, it’s a semi-polished one. Making that manuscript better and better is very satisfying, yet I never reach a point where I feel it matches my inner vision for the story. I only come closer. And that leads to...

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.... I had poems which were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” - Erica Jong

There isn’t much that needs to be said here. You can put away your manuscript out of fear of this or that, and you will guarantee that it is never published. Shipping that 250-pound baby out of the house is the only way. Target your prospects carefully, learn how they want to be queried, and do it right.

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” - Kurt Vonnegut

If you haven’t been living off-planet for the last few years, you’ve noticed the huge increase in non-traditionally-published books. In 2010, Bowker reported that U.S. publishers issued 300,000+ books, but more than 2.7 million non-traditional books were published. Surely those non-traditional numbers have grown since 2010. (Figures approximate.) This is for both fiction and non-fiction; fiction usually runs about 20% of the total, so that means roughly 60,000 traditionally-published novels and 540,000 non-traditionally published novels in 2010. Not all of those 540,000 were original books, because digital reprints have been growing in popularity as authors push their backlists out as ebooks. This means that, considering only the traditional publishing route, there are over 60,000 novels competing with yours in the year of publication.

Who is not suffering greatly from this competition? Brand name authors whose books are highly promoted by their publishing companies. (Don’t detect any sour grapes here; I wish them all well and would love to be one of those brand names myself!) That means each year, the pot of sales for the rest of us gets smaller and smaller as new authors enter the field. Considering self-published authors, many will set a low price on their ebooks to attract attention and try to build sales. If you are traditionally published, you’re stuck with the price the publisher sets for both print and ebook. My $7.99 ebooks have to compete with the $.99 ones. You have to be motivated to spend eight times as much on my book! Also, sales per book may be shrinking if you’re not a well-branded author. Lower sales means lower contract advances across the board, as publishers get nervous about whether the author will be able to earn out his or her advance.

What can you do to get out of this cycle? The answer is increase sales by working your butt off to get your book noticed among all the others in your genre (or in mainstream). Promotion is more important than ever; use social media to the max, spend dollars wisely on advertising, and work closely with your assigned publicist. Communicate and make friends with your publicist. He or she is handling a lot more books than just yours. If you never have any contact, the easiest path for your publicist is to do the minimum prescribed by department’s procedures. I’m not saying that’s bad. They’re very busy people and it’s human nature. But you want your publicist to know who you are and to think of you as cooperative, working hard on promotion yourself, and friendly. The same thing goes for your editor. Be sure to keep your editor informed (without making a pest of yourself) on how your efforts are going—send in a nice review. Even small things can tip the scales.  

If you are an instant success, I applaud you, and will you please blurb my next book? If not, keep writing and keep publishing. The cream does rise to the top.

“Readers, after all, are making the world with you. You give them the materials, but it's the readers who build that world in their own minds.” - Ursula Le Guin

Authors’ quotes used in this post came from Quotes About Writing.

About The Author: 
Twitter: @dakotabanks or http://dbanks.me/DBtwit
The Deliverance Book Trailerhttp://dbanks.me/DelTrl

About The Book:

Deliverance: Mortal Path Book 3

Harper Voyager
Paperback, $7.99, ISBN-13: 978-0062049988
eBook, ISBN-13: 978-0062049995
Release date March 27, 2012
A demon's assassin for centuries, Maliha Crayne has gone rogue, determined to save a life for every one she's destroyed in order to free herself from an eternity of enslavement, damnation, and excruciating torment. But as the powers that sustained her in the past fade, she is wary of trusting those closest to her-especially her lover, Jake. Should Maliha listen to her heart or the alarms going off in her head? Then her closest friends begin to disappear, one by one. Amid her anger, suspicion, and sorrow, she feels her life spiraling out of control.
Worse still, a beautiful, Renaissance murderess is recruiting Maliha as her new assassin. Maliha is turning into a lethal puppet with an evil Immortal pulling the strings, forced to kill innocents or see her missing friends die horribly. Suddenly trapped in a moral no-man's land, Maliha is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't…and time is rapidly running out. 

A Mortal Path Swag Bag, consisting of a tote bag, 3 signed books, pens, bookmarks, magnets, and a calculator. 
All you have to do is leave a comment below with a way to contact you if you win. Winner will be chosen and contacted in a week. 
Author mails internationally.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review and Promo Post for The Familial Witch By Bri Clark


Lucien Lemione the clan leader of the feared and revered Eternals is faced with the ultimate betrayal. His second in command for two centuries has not only created the most grievous of offenses but also commissioned the creation of liquid silver. When poisoned by this toxin, an immortal suffers a fate much worse than death, frozen in an internal prison. After being wounded when found spying, he hides deep within the eerie woods that encircle the Triad Mountains. Desperate and in pain, he prays to an offended mother goddess for help. Her answer: a woman, but not just any woman. A witch.

After losing her entire coven at the hands of the Eternals, Aisleen is the last of her kind. She retreats from the world to Trinity Forest where she is giving the opportunity of a lifetime, or perhaps a test of principles. It’s there she discovers the man she heals is the Eternal that wiped out her people. Although she is bound as a healer, she could be creative in her revenge. Aisleen knows who and what Lucien his…but does not speak of it. There can be no future with Lucien for she can only be with a mortal man. Even if she wanted to be with him, can she forgive the man that caused the genocide of her people?

Lucien must act quickly for the survival of his clan is at stake. However, Aisleen’s ethereal beauty and emerald eyes keep pushing those thoughts far from his mind. Determined to find out what secret she hides, he prolongs his time with her. When his people need him most what will he choose…duty, desire, or will he make his own fate?

You can choose love but you can’t choose destiny.

My Review:

This is a wonderful short story. Ms. Clark elegantly depicts a new world of her own creation, one elaborate and different, but easy to follow, thanks to her magical gift for description.  This intricate world awaits you from the beautiful trees to the herbal potions to the complex mythology. The setting comes alive, as do the characters and lore. And these characters are both so easy to fall in love with! Warning: This one will leave you wanting for more :) And I have to just mention that the cover is one of the most magical and beautiful I have seen - a great representation of a fantastic story.

Amazon Buy Link                     B&N Buy Link                       Publisher Buy Link

About the Author:

Bri Clark is a real example of redemption and renewal. Growing penniless in the South, Bri learned street smarts while caring for her brother in a broken home. She watched her mother work several jobs to care for their small family. Once her brother could fend for himself, Bri moved on to a series of bad choices including leaving school and living on her own.

Rebelliousness was a strong understatement to describe those formative years. As a teenager, her wakeup call came from a fight with brass knuckles and a judge that gave her a choice of shaping up or spending time in jail. She took that opportunity and found a way to moved up from the streets. She ended up co-owning an extremely successful construction business. She lived the high life until the real estate crash when she lost everything.

She moved west and found herself living with her husband and 4 kids in a 900 square foot apartment. She now fills her time, writing, blogging, leading a group of frugal shoppers and sharing her southern culture. Her unique background gives her writing a raw sensibility. She understands what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles. She often tells friends, “I can do poor. I’m good at poor. It’s prosperity that I’m not used to.”

Bri and her husband Chris live in Boise. Bri is known as the Belle of Boise for her true southern accent, bold demeanor and hospitable nature.

Bri boasts several positions in the publishing industry. An author, professional reviewer, blogger, and literary strategist she enjoys all aspects of her career from the creation of story to the branding and marketing needed to make her books successful.

Bri Contact Links

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Book Three in the Sons of Midnight mini-series
Harlequin Nocturne
February 21, 2012
ISBN-10: 0373618794
ISBN-13: 978-0373618798
Ignorant of his true heritage, half-breed vampire Slade Donovan is fated to feel like an outsider among his clan. Until a mysterious woman arrives with the ability to unlock his secrets—and make him crave a future he never believed he could have….

As a Game Warden, Raina Ravenwing has only one mission in the Cascade Mountains: to track down a pack of rare wolves that is terrorizing her tribe. Her instant attraction to Slade is a distraction the beautiful wolf whisperer can't afford, unless she agrees to let him help her. Yet working so closely together only intensifies their passion…even as the unfolding truth of Slade's identity threatens everything Raina holds sacred and could potentially destroy both their worlds.


Total bliss only lasted four hours.

Hey, Donovan. You got a visitor. The sound of his commander, Achilles Stefano's voice echoed in his head, waking him from a dead sleep and leaving his ears ringing.

Slade grimaced, turned over in his tangled sheets. Talk about lousy timing. Can it wait?

No. Get your ass in here.

What vampire on earth would want to speak to him at this ungodly hour? Either something was wrong, or was going to be. Slade grumbled. He grappled the sides of his sleeping spot, a double-wide grave-sized hole carved out of the gray bedrock, the black satin sheets pooling around his hips as he sat up.

He phased himself a fresh-showered look and clean fatigues so he'd at least look presentable, then focused pulling his energy together at his core, visualizing the security room inside the clan headquarters, so he could transport.

An image of pale green smooth walls and military issue furniture circa 1950 filled his mind, accented by the musty smell that pervaded the room despite the heat thrown off by the banks of flat-screen computers. A pull, centered at his navel yanked him by the balls inside out as he transported from his position in the Cascade Mountains to the complex system of passages and rooms fifty feet below the asphalt streets and buildings of Seattle.

The minute his particles knit back together he could see exactly why the hour was so damn late, or rather so damn early. His visitor wasn't a vampire. It was the woman from the woods, only now she was in full uniform for a state police officer - a pair of olive green pants, a short-sleeved khaki shirt with matching olive green breast pocket flaps and epaulets, a standard issue gun belt, ugly black shoes, and her glorious ebony hair pulled back in a no-nonsense bun at her nape. Damn. Double Damn. The cop.

Before being brought into the clan, he'd had his share of run-ins with the law and still felt uncomfortable around cops. Even pretty, strawberry-scented ones. He glanced at Achilles. His commander was one-hundred-percent pure golden Spartan warrior, but his modern military-short hair cut was starting to grow out. His hard jaw didn't flex in a smile, but the wicked twinkle in his unnaturally green eyes said he knew something about this woman Slade didn't.

Slade shifted, crossing his arms over his chest, forcing himself not to wince at the sharp sting in his ribs that were still a little tender. "Can I help you?"

She extended a slender hand. Her nails were short and mostly clean, only a few had fine traces of dirt underneath.

"I'm Raina Ravenwing, Mr. Blackwolf." She said smoothly, extending her hand. There was no sign of recognition in her dark brown eyes. "Fish and Wildlife Officer with the state wildlife department." She clarified, just in case the emblem on her sleeve didn't do the job.

He stared at her hand but didn't take it, and she let it drop. "Sorry, wrong guy. Last name's Donovan. If that's it, I'm out of here." He turned on his heel, giving her his back as he headed for the door.

"So you go by your mother's maiden name?"

That stopped him cold. His mother's maiden name? He didn't know whose name it was, let alone why he'd used it for as long as he could remember. The only glimpse of his mother - at least he thought it was her - were distorted slow-motion images he saw in his daymares.

Dark hair, wide brown-sugar eyes. A wide-generous mouth, which smiled one moment and screamed the next. A wash of red blood and the howl of wolves.

To think Officer Raina Ravenwing knew something about him that he didn't even know about himself rankled. He turned slowly, facing her once more. "Couldn't tell you. Don't know."

The petite woman widened her stance, pulled her shoulders back and stiffened her spine. "Well, Mr. Donovan, I've been told you're a wolf expert of sorts." Her gaze flicked to Achilles briefly, disbelief evident in the firm set of her generous mouth.

The dark hairs prickled all along Slade's arm. Somehow, gut deep, he knew she wasn't here to talk about just wolves. "I guess."

"Don't let him fool you Officer Ravenwing. There's not another vampire who can track better than Donovan." It was true. Slade's senses were more finely tuned than most of the other vamps in the clan. That's why he'd been tapped to be in the security detail by the commander himself. While his technical specialty was explosives, tracking came in a close second. Very close.

She stuck her chin out a bit, almost daring him. "What do you know about unusually large wolves in our area?"

Slade brushed at the slowly healing cut at his scalp line. Good. She didn't remember a thing. Weres weren't something you talked about in polite vampire society, let alone with mortals. They were less than mortal. A cruel joke of the gods. A cross between an unpredictable animal and an unsympathetic mortal.


"There've been reports of some rather unusual wolves causing trouble in the edges of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The people are getting lathered up about it and ready to go on a wolf hunt."

"So let them."

Her eyes narrowed. She crossed her arms over her chest, making her B-cup breasts jut out enticingly. At least he thought they were B-cups. They might be just a shade larger, but he wouldn't be able to tell unless he got his hands on them.

Whoa. Where had that come from? Slade flexed his fingers, reigning in his wayward thoughts. She wasn't even his type. Of course, who the hell did he think he was kidding? Female was his type. It was police officer that wasn't.

"My job as a Game Warden, Mr. Donovan, is to protect these animals and enforce the laws in this state. The fact that they've returned at all and may be migrants from the reestablished packs in Idaho or Montana is significant enough. They're an important part of our ecosystem and until I find out who or what is really behind these attacks, I'm doing my best not to let anyone near those wolves."

The scrape on his scalp was beginning to itch like holy hell and he wasn't really interested in her long-winded eco lecture. "Lady, the wolves aren't in any danger. If you want my advice, you'd do better to worry about keeping people away from them."

"It's Officer Ravenwing, Mr. Donovan, and that's about what I expected from a vampire." She said the last word with such distain that Slade could smell the sulfur of it like rotten eggs tainting the air.

Achilles stepped closer placing a huge hand on her delicate shoulder. "Officer Ravenwing, Donovan will be happy to help you with whatever you need to bring your investigation to a close."

Slade glared at his commander. What the hell? I don't want to be anywhere near her.

Achilles glanced back at him, his words echoing loud and clear in Slade's head. She's part of the mortals' law enforcers, so we will cooperate fully. We don't need them digging up problems with the Wenatchee Were Pack to put at our door. You'll help her or you'll be pulling day shift for the next decade. Do I make myself clear?


Yes, what?

Yes, sir.

Achilles gave the game warden a nod, and she relaxed. "If you'll excuse me, Officer Ravenwing, I have another pressing matter." He grasped her free hand and lightly brushed the back of it with a brief kiss. "I'll leave you to fill Donovan in on how you want this handled."

She gave Achilles a generous smile that pissed off Slade even more.

She blushed slightly. "Thanks for your help."

Achilles vanished in a swirl of dark particles as he transported from the room leaving Slade alone with the cop.

He glared at Officer nature girl. Just because he had to help her didn't mean he had to like it. "What do you need?"

"I need your help tracking one of them down so I can find out if they've established a new pack from the groups further east, or if they are a new breed or rare mutation. And find out what's really going on with this rash of incidents."

Damn. Double Damn. Sure, waltz in on the Were territory and give them a 'hey, whatz up?' Why didn't she just ask him to go stake his balls to the ground and sunbathe nude? That would be less painful. Well, maybe. "So you want me to go on a nature hike with you?"

Raina restrained herself from making a smart-ass comeback. If nothing else she was a professional. She would have preferred to have Achilles go with her. At least he could be trusted and had some respect for her badge. With Donovan it was a whole other matter.

Everything about him shouted 'danger', from the rumble of his deep voice and dark good looks to his tiger-like topaz eyes. But it was his broad shoulders encased in black tight black t-shirt and military cut camo fatigues and wide jaw bisected by a devil-may-care dent in his chin that made him appear intriguing, which were an even greater danger to any female in sight. That was, if he'd been her type. Which he wasn't.

Something at the edge of her mind nagged her. She'd seen him before. He'd done something horrible. But no matter how hard she concentrated it floated in her memory just out of reach.

"It's a bit more complicated than that. There's an investigation currently underway. I need to track one down and put a locator on it."

He glanced away, sending not so subtle uninterested signals her way. "I'm sorry am I boring you, Mr. Donovan?"

He shook his head. "Locator. Please continue."

Raina was slightly surprised he had actually been listening. "I need to know if there's only one, or if there are more and if so, what the pack's territory is so I can advise the state game department of potential impact on the local farmers and the game in the area."

She didn't like the way he narrowed his eyes. The air around him swirled with a potent mixture of testosterone and wild side that were too intense to be comfortable. While his commander was at least polite, Slade Blackwolf, or Donovan, or whatever he wanted to call himself, was barely civilized.

He reeked of bad boy, something she'd tried scrupulously to avoid since graduating the police academy. If she got close enough she could probably smell motorcycle fumes and leather on him if she tried. But she had no intention of getting that close, now or ever. Getting mixed up with a bad boy was career suicide for a cop, especially a young female cop, no matter what department she worked in.

This was business, plain and simple. Being a game warden offered her an opportunity to help out her tribe in a practical way instead of all the hocus-pocus they kept insisting she was somehow tied to as part of their hopelessly outdated beliefs.

From what she'd been able to discover he was her best chance at finding the elusive wolves. So far everything else she'd tried had gotten her squat. And if things went on much longer it wouldn't be just the state she'd have to deal with, the Feds would get involved since her investigation was criss-crossing areas of the Wenatchee National Forest. She needed to find those wolves. Now.

"Sounds like a lost cause. Can't prove something's perfectly harmless when it's not."

Raina didn't like his belligerent attitude any more than his bad-boy demeanor. "Look, if you aren't capable of helping me-"

Between one breath and the next she found herself wedged up against the wall. A hard male body too dangerously close to her own in front and the rough edges of a cold brick wall digging into her back. Power, like smoke billowing from a forest fire, rolled off of him in waves. He pinned her, his arms on either side, a lethal look in his golden eyes that was mesmerizing like a wild animal's. She'd never been this close to an actual vampire before and it scared the hell out of her.

With an audible flick his sharp fangs appeared out of the gums just above his very normal looking teeth. His voice came out low, almost a growl. "I'm perfectly capable of doing anything you could possibly need done, Officer Ravenwing. But let's get one thing straight. You came to me. You need me. So if I tell you to jump when we're out there bushwhacking, you don't ask why, you just jump. I don't want have to explain to my commander why I came back with a dead game warden. Are we clear?"

Rania managed to gather enough moisture in her dry mouth to swallow, but words were beyond her. All she could manage was a nod, her heart pounding so hard her pulse throbbed in her fingers and toes.

All the resolve she'd made to keep good and gone from bad boys of any kind began to dissolve, running like heated honey through her veins. He was too close and it was too confining. She tried to push against him, her hands on his broad chest, and found herself falling forward and stumbling.

He'd dissolved beneath her touch into nothing but smoke, then reappeared on the other side of the room, in less time than it had taken her to blink. His large hand was where hers had been a moment before, his eyes darker than before.

His voice came out almost a growl. "Next time you touch me, it had better be because you want to."

Copyright © 2012 by Theresa Meyers
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A.

About Theresa Meyers:
Raised by a bibliophile who made the dining room into a library, Theresa has always been a lover of books and stories. First a writer for newspapers, then for national magazines, she started her first novel in high school, eventually enrolling in a Writer's Digest course and putting the book under the bed until she joined Romance Writers of America in 1993.

In 2005 she was selected as one of eleven finalists for the American Title II contest, the American Idol of books. She is married to the first man she ever went on a real date with (to their high school prom), who she knew was hero material when he suffered through having to let her parents drive, and her brother sit between them in the backseat of the car. They currently live in a Victorian house on a mini farm in the Pacific Northwest with their two children, three cats, an old chestnut Arabian gelding, an energetic mini-Aussie shepherd puppy, several rabbits, a dozen chickens and an out-of-control herb garden.

You can find her online on Twitter, Facebook, at her Web site or blogging with the other Lolitas of STEAMED!

The Half-Breed Vampire Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a copy (print or electronic) of the latest book in Theresa Meyers' Sons of Midnight mini-series, The Half-Breed Vampire, a Love Bites mug for your hot beverage of choice along with a bag full of decadent Bliss chocolate. US and Canada only. (5 winners will be chosen)

Monday, March 5, 2012

My Review of "Lost" By Vivi Anna

Okay, confession – interesting way to start a review, right? – but I chose this book for a few selfish reasons like having some things in common with the heroine. My real name is Kirstein, and I’ve had a few “experiences” with the dead myself. Let's just leave it at that... So sentence one of the blurb had me! Top it off with that cover, and the rest of the description and I just had to read it.

I am a sucker for stories that bring a character back to their hometown, forced to face a troubled past. And, bonus if there is unfinished business with an ex-lover! So, I was one happy reader with Lost. This is my first read in the Bandit Creek Mysteries, but I loved how Ms. Anna portrayed the place. Her introduction to the series for me has really made me want to read more of them. I like the concept of the series too.

This story was short, but packed a punch. The ghost aspects were very believable, and I was thrilled with the twists at the end. The writing itself was great, nice flow to it, but that was no surprise as I had already read The Bewitching Hour by this author before. Highly Recommend :)


Kirsten Morgan can hear the dead. And now they are calling to her, to come home to Bandit Creek.

A girl has gone missing, and the law don’t have any leads. But the last thing Sheriff Samuel Morgan wants to see is his famous psychic daughter in his office telling him how to do his job. At odds for years, Kirsten doesn’t know how to talk to her father but she knows she has to push him to a place he doesn’t want to go. Because the dead are talking, and she has to answer, or lose her mind forever.

*This is a novella


Vivi Anna is a mult-published author with over thirteen books in print and ebook. She writes about kick-ass women and the men they kill for. To learn more, go to www.vivianna.net

Chapter One

The water rippled, sending whispers to her on its waves. She bent low toward the glistening liquid, listening, straining hard to hear the words the water wanted her to know. There was a truth there, she was certain of it.

On hands and knees, she settled her face just above the lake waters. Maybe if she submersed herself, her face at least, she could hear the whispers clearer. She had to know what the water was trying to tell her. Lives, she was certain, depended on it.

Slowly, she pushed her face into the water, her eyes open, alert, ready for anything. Because she knew there was something in the lake. There always had been.

She waited, her lungs bursting for air. The urge to open her mouth to take in oxygen ripped at her brain.

Finally, another set of ripples came from some movement in the water. As they undulated over her flesh, into her ears, she made out three words.


Kirsten Morgan jolted straight up from her sleep. Sweat shellacked her tank top to her back. It also dotted her forehead and upper lip. It was always that way after one of her dreams.

Sunlight streamed through the bedroom window. It was early yet. Too early on a normal day to be awake.

She swung her legs over her bed, and sat up, setting her head in her hands. The smell of copper still lingered in her nose. It wasn’t the scent of blood but something else.

Her head throbbed something fierce, as if something inside was getting ready to burst open. That probably wasn’t too far from the reality of her situation.

She rubbed her face with her hands, and held her head up, blinking to get her bearings. She’d drunk a lot of martinis last night. But she wasn’t normally one for hangovers. No, her unease and queasiness came from elsewhere.

Movement behind her on the bed made her flinch. She glanced over her shoulder to see Josh, her man for the month, rolling over to look at her. He traced a finger over her bare back.

“It’s barely six. Why are you up?”

“I got to go.”

She stood, punctuating her statement, and crossed the room to gather clothes from the dresser. Her clothes from the night before were strewn every which way. A morning chill raised the goose flesh on her arms and legs. She glanced down, realizing she was completely naked. She reached for the silk robe draped over her dressing chair and slid it on.

“Where are you going? I didn’t think you had an upcoming appearance. You said you were free for the next few days.”

“Yeah, well, that’s changed.”

Kirsten pulled open drawers and yanked out some underwear, T-shirts, jeans and various other garments. She tossed them onto the bed, then moved to her closet. She slid open the door and grabbed the suitcase buried in the corner. She put that on the bed as well.

Frowning, Josh sat up. “What’s the suitcase for?”

“I told you I had to go.”

“I thought you meant for the day. Not for a holiday.”

She unzipped the suitcase and piled her clothes inside. As well as shoes and boots, and a couple of jackets. “This is not a holiday.” She packed hurriedly, the urgency to leave making her jumpy.

“Jesus, Kirsten, what the hell is going on?”

“Look, Josh, you’re great and it’s been fun, but I’m leaving town for a while. Maybe we can hook up when I get back.”

“When will that be?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. A week maybe. Two at the most.”

He grabbed her hands before she could shove more clothes into the bag. “Hold up. What the hell is going on? Did I do something wrong?”

“This isn’t about you, okay? I have to go somewhere. It’s important.”

He let her go and sat back. “Is it your work?”

Sighing, Kirsten nodded. “Yeah.” It was always her work that drove her from her bed, drove her from other people, from places that she’d temporarily called home. It was her work that sent her traveling around the world, involving herself in other people’s tragic lives.

Her head was still killing her and she rubbed at her right temple. If she was going to make it there in one piece, she’d need to take some painkillers before she got on a plane. The air pressure would be too much on an already pressurized brain.

“Where are you going? Can you tell me that much?”

She zipped up her suitcase, and set it on the floor. Sweat was trickling down her back. She wasn’t sure she was even ready to go. But, she knew without a doubt where the dream was telling her to go. She knew that water, she knew that coppery odor.

Bandit Creek, Montana. I’m going home.”

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Flashed Birthday Giveaway

March being my birthday month, I wanted to start it off with a big giveaway! I already got my gift, and that was having five authors, that I love to read, donate stories to me for a flash fiction anthology I put together, titled appropriately – Flashed: Flirty, Fun & Deliciously Explicit. So, I’m turning around and paying the gifting forward if you will, or is it re-gifting… *giggles* Either way, I’m offering the anthology free for several days at the beginning of this month via the Amazon KDP Select program - March 3rd - 7th, 2012. You can find the anthology at http://www.amazon.com/Flashed-Flirty-Deliciously-Explicit-ebook/dp/B007FWX3B4/ref=sr_1_25?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330642530&sr=1-25

But,  for those without Kindles, or if you miss the days it’s free on Amazon, never fear, I’m also holding a big contest, with an undetermined amount of winners, to receive a PDF version of this anthology. Keep your eyes open, cause I hear that the other authors may be giving away a few copies as well.

To Enter, it’s easy, email me at howell.kiki@gmail.com with Flashed Birthday Giveaway in the Subject Line. If you are a winner, I will email you back a PDF copy of the anthology.  I’m going to let the contest go on all month. Each day, every few days, whenever the mood strikes me, I will open an email and send the lucky winner a PDF copy of Flashed: Flirty, Fun & Deliciously Explicit!

Flashed: Flirty, Fun & Deliciously Explicit Blurb:

To say much in very few words can be a challenge, but flash fiction gives authors a chance to show their voice, their writing style, and their passion for the stories they write.

Flashed, the anthology, gives you six authors and a lot of smoldering hot flash fiction. In it, Kiki Howell is thrilled to be joined by five authors who she loves to read. And so, she invites you to experience what she loves about each author: Jennifer Labelle’s emotional writing, Sommer Marsden’s gritty and sexy style, Cassandre Dayne’s scorching hot intensity, Emma Hillman’s sassy heroines, and Abby Hayes wild child ways, along with her own paranormal and erotic romance in this anthology.

The combination is flirty, fun & deliciously explicit.

Praise for the Authors of Flashed

“I loved how Cassandre build this world, LOVED the characters to pieces, loved that I cried at one of the main characters passing, loved how Devin found the love of his life even while loosing a job he really didn’t care for to begin with. This book needs to have a part 2. Cassandre?”  - Michele from Top2Bottom Reviews on Forced Fantasies by Cassandre Dayne

“Dane is a person who has lived through a lot of tragedy in his life, but he still remains a good person. Steele, despite all that has happened to him, has a good soul that transcends the pages of this book. I would say this book is not for the faint of heart; it is not warm and fuzzy in nature but if you like your men rough, hard, and ready for anything, Punchback is a must read.” Tina on her Reviewers Choice for February 2012 – Talking Two Lips on Punchback by Cassandre Dayne  

"...one of the tops storytellers in the erotica genre." ~Violet Blue about Sommer Marsden

"I will read ANYTHING that Sommer Marsden EVER writes. She is just that damn good." ~Seriously Reviewed

"I just love Ms. Sommer Marsden’s paranormal books, they have suspense, action, love, and a lot of twists. And I can't forget about the humor she uses to flavor the storys. Her style is easy to follow and captivating. It fascinates and seduces you, making you automatically one of her fans." ~Dolce Amore for Booked Up

"This was a memorable, remarkable and phenomenally scorching read. Don't miss out on these hot encounters and the ultimate fantasy." - Night Owl Romance on Location, Location, Location by Emma Hillman

"Ms. Hillman's writing is tender and sweet, arousing and poignant." - You Gotta Read Reviews on Back to Life by Emma Hillman

"Kiki’s use of words and descriptions is indescribable and weaves a kind of magic around the reader." -ParaNormal Romance Reviews about The Healing Spell by Kiki Howell

"Kiki has such a way of extracting deep feelings from her readers. She has such a handle on peoples emotions you would almost swear it was an otherworldly talent." ~ Raquel Vega-Grieder about Working Out The Kinks by Kiki Howell

What a truly memorable and original novel Torn Asunder brings to life the very essence of 19th Century England and Ireland, and in doing so, provides the reader with the feeling they are actually there! Only a rare talent can accomplish this, full of magic, drama and romance, Kiki Howell joins the ranks of the very top supernatural writers!  ~A James Mason Community Book Club MUST READ, Review by Rick Friedman, Founder 

“If there was one book that I would encourage my friends and family to read this would be it. To say I was totally blown away by all the characters and the plot is an understatement. I have never read a book like this in my life and cannot wait to see what author Jennifer Labelle comes up with next.” ~LASR Reviews on Meant To Be by Jennifer Labelle

“What a sensational short read! Spice it Up is the perfect hot and spicy addition to your erotic romance collection! With Heidi and Nathan both being open to different sexual experiences, Spice it Up features MF, MM and MMF all in a 40 page package without feeling gratuitous or excessive.” ~Just Erotic Romance Reviews on Spice It Up by Jennifer Labelle

“Though the author gave us a nice plot and story, she also gave us steamy intimacy scenes that were an added bonus. We were also given a sexy epilogue that I liked and thought ended perfectly.” ~Romance Novel Junkies on Second Chance Love by Jennifer Labelle

"Warning: please refrain from reading Finding Paradise while in the presence of others, as frequent relief may be required. Holy smokes this book is HOT! Both the erotic and the mundane are terrifically portrayed in Finding Paradise… For exquisite sex scenes, amazing writing and the "real talk" feel for online chat, Finding Paradise is certainly deserving of a JERR Silver Star Award. Bottom line, find your own bit of paradise and pick up Finding Paradise ASAP!" -  Just Erotic Romance Reviews about Finding Paradise by Abby Hayes

“This is the first book I have read by Abby Hayes and to say I was intrigued with where the story was going is an understatement. I was expected a little girl on girl, perhaps a menage but a full fledged partner swamp and orgy...I was tickled beyond belief.”– Coffee Beans & Love Scenes Reviews on Finding

In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.