Friday, September 28, 2012

Cover reveal!

I am so pleased with the cover for Ain't Too Proud to Beg!

http://pinkcashmerepublishing.webs.com/ did a great job at capturing the story concept.

Author Spotlight - MJ Kane

Today the author spotlight is shining on debut author MJ Kane.


She resides in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia with her high school sweetheart, four wonderful children, and two pit bulls. MJ can often be found hanging out at the local library where she is director of a local writer’s group, or online connecting with readers and other authors. Other activities she enjoys include: creating custom floral arrangements, assisting her children in their creative pursuits of music and art, and supporting her husband’s music production business.
You can find MJ on social networking sites, sharing writing tips, talking about music, life, and family.

Her debut novel, A Heart Not Easily Broken released last week. Here's a synopsis:
 
Ebony is a smart, sexy, career-oriented black woman who wants nothing more than a summer fling with a man who challenges her mind and body. What she doesn’t expect is a blond haired, blue-eyed bass player—who won’t take “no” for an answer—to accept the challenge. 
When Ebony’s attempt at a brief fling turns into more, despite negative reactions from friends and family, she finds juggling love, family, and career are nothing compared to the ultimate betrayal she endures. Now her dreams spiral into lies and secrets that threaten her future and her best friend’s trust. 

Excerpt:
Her attention appeared to be on something in her purse as she walked my way, so she hadn’t seen me yet.
She was not dressed as she was Saturday night. Her hair wasn’t flowing over her shoulders, tempting my fingers to get lost in its waves. Her legs were not bare, nor did she wear a skin tight, short dress, showing off shapely calf muscles, as she had the other evening. Instead, she wore a baggy shirt over pants with some kind of printed design, something like standard medical wear. She wore her hair in a ponytail, and her feet were in tennis shoes. She struggled to balance an armful of books of various sizes and a book bag over her shoulder.
Ebony was still sexy as hell.
“I’m glad you haven’t got started yet. My roommate called me at the last minute and told me you were coming. I don’t have any cash on me. Do you take checks or−?” Her voice faltered when she saw me. “Brian? What are you doing here?”
I caught a hint of fire in her eyes and something else. Maybe guilt for not meeting me in VIP?
“I’m here to cut your grass.” I screwed the top back on the gas can, fighting the urge to laugh at the irony of the situation.
Play it cool. I was not about to let her know how disappointed I’d been sitting alone. What happened a few nights ago had nothing to do with the money she was about to put in my pocket.
“I thought you were a musician.”
I pulled goggles and gloves out of the driver’s side door pocket. “I am, but it doesn’t pay the bills just yet. This is my day job.”
Ebony’s eyes traveled to the truck and my cousins before settling back on me.
“This is my business,” I added, watching her thin eyebrows arch.
Since I hadn’t questioned her about the VIP incident, she seemed to relax. The sound of a lawnmower cranking up broke the awkward silence.
“Well, I’ll get out of your way.” She backed away from the truck and headed for her house.
It dawned on me I did not answer her question regarding the form of payment. At least it would give me something to talk about when we were done.
Saturday night, Ebony disappeared like Cinderella, without leaving a hint of a glass slipper. Now, barely two days later, I found where she lived. What were the chances? This was fate.
I took the opportunity to appreciate every inch of her hidden under baggy clothes. The image of her in the black form-fitting dress revealing every curvy inch of her body had haunted my dreams.
Outside the club, in natural light, Ebony did not disappoint. Her almond shaped eyes were a rich shade of brown, dark and mysterious. She wore no makeup on her caramel skin, and her lips were naked, with no hint of gloss.
I chuckled when she finally got her front door unlocked. It appeared she’d run into some trouble with her key. Flustered perhaps?
I hoped so. With a little luck, I just might have a chance to get her to talk to me about more than grass.
###

Available from 5 Prince Publishing! Buy Now!
You can connect with MJ here: 
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads
This Writer’s Life Blog
The Butterfly Memoirs Blog
Google+
Linkedin
Email

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Author Spotlight - C. Michelle Ramsey

Right now I am under the gun to wrap up Ain't Too Proud to Beg and get it to my editor, and I'm frighteningly behind. So...I've asked some of my writer friends, new and old, to visit and share something about their books. From now until November, you will meet some wonderful people and learn about some fabulous stories.

Today, I am so happy to welcome C. Michelle Ramsey.

 
C. Michelle Ramsey writes fiction stories that delve into the inner soul of a woman: her deepest secrets; her wildest dreams; and her darkest fears. She has a passion for creating works of art that entertain and take readers on an emotional roller coaster ride.

Ramsey is a native of Atlanta, GA where she currently resides with her husband and three children. She enjoys reading various fiction genres especially mysteries. A passionate NBA fan, she reserves a special place in her heart for the Los Angeles Lakers. “Reflections of Promises” is her first published novel.

She is currently preparing the release of her second novel: “Real Secrets” in the fall of 2012.

 
REFLECTIONS OF PROMISES EXCERPT 
Patricia laid her lime green Gucci bag on the table.  Sitting her car keys next to the bag on the table in the foyer, Patricia began to riffle through the stack of letters that she had gotten out of the mailbox.  The fourth letter drew her interest and immediate attention.  Written in a rushed and somehow distantly familiar handwriting, was her name and address and at the top where the return address should have been it was blank.  However, she saw that the postmark was from Atlanta.  She never received any mail from Atlanta here at the house, it was always sent to her Post Office Box, so her curiosity was aroused.  Tossing the other letters down next to her purse, she sat on the chair next to the table and slipped one Orange Opal manicured fingernail under the envelope’s seal to begin opening it.
Trisha,

        It’s been so long and I hate to disturb your new life, but there is a crisis at home and we can no longer manage without you.  I have been able to do this for a while but I can’t keep on.  The Lord is calling me home with Him and I am tired and anxious to be there. I tried to think of other alternatives, but you were my only choice.  I hope this situation doesn’t bring you grief in your new life but we desperately need you here.  Not more money, but we need you.  I’m tired baby.

Your Loving Mama

No!!!!!! This couldn’t be happening, not now.  Jared’s and her marriage was already strained and she had been contemplating a separation.  However, she did not want a divorce but she knew that their marriage could not endure this.  The lies that she had told, the affairs that he had had and coldness she had exerted towards him had done enough devastation.  There was no way that they would endure under this new pressure.  She would call Mama from a phone booth.  Mama didn’t have her number and she didn’t know how she had gotten her address.  Everything to do with home was sent to her P.O. Box that Jared didn’t know about.  If she called home from the house or her cell phone, he would surely see it on the phone bills. He was under the illusion that she no longer had any ties to Atlanta after the death of her grandparents.
Picking up her keys from the table, she stuffed the letter in her handbag and began heading out the door just as Jared pulled up.   Oh God, not now, she thought to herself. 

Sometimes we make choices to avoid drama in life. But what happens when the road we take to avoid it becomes the road that brings us face to face with it? Reflections of Promises is a tale of deception and betrayal that invokes passions deep within from page 1. When foundations are built on untruths, and cover-up, can everything that appears to be solid still stand?
 
PURCHASE LINKS:
 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Saturday Sneek Peak #8

Here's the final unedited peek into Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Vaughn and Trenyce finally meet! I know. I can hear some of you saying, "It's about time!" but I wanted the reader to meet both of them before they met each other. Enjoy!

***
 
When I woke up, Devon had come back into the room and was texting on his phone. I felt bad about asking him to leave earlier, but I hadn’t known what else to say after being hit with the news.

“How you feeling, man?” Devon asked in response to my groan when I tried to move.

“Like I ran into a mountain. Sorry I put you out before.”

“Hey, it’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.” Devon’s understanding laugh filled the room. “Listen, V, I know all of this is probably hard to digest, but if you’re up to it, we need to talk about your plans. Since tomorrow is my last day here, I want to do what I can to make sure you’re settled.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m talking about you coming back to L.A. According to the doctor and the physical therapist, it wouldn’t just cost a fortune, but it might be dangerous.”

She said we’d talk about it later, and I want to hear what she has to say for myself.” The idea of being stuck in a hospital was bad enough, but being stranded in Telluride was enough to make me lose it. “For one thing, I don’t want a woman for my physical therapist.”

Devon’s eyes widened. “Are you kidding me?  You, the lover of all things female?” He snickered.

“Not when I’m incapacitated.”

“I just met her. You’d change your mind if you saw her.  She’s beautiful. If I was single, I wouldn’t need to be convinced to let her massage me.” That got a snort from me. “Since when have you ever had a problem with a beautiful woman?”

“Look at me, Dev. I can’t even take a piss by myself, and for all I know, I might look like Freddy Krueger under these bandages. Not very sexy.”

 
“Oh, that legendary Breland pride is getting in the way. Tell me why you need to be sexy with your therapist. You wouldn’t start working with her until you’re on your feet anyway. Think about it, V. Don’t make any hasty decisions you’ll regret. You’ll need every penny you have to pay this hospital bill.”

“I have insurance with the studio.”

“That’ll cover a portion of it, but spending a small fortune to have them move you is crazy. Take some time to think about it. In the meantime, I’ll call the police department to find out where your car is, so I can take some pictures and e-mail them to your insurance company.”

“Appreciate it, man, but if the car was totaled like they said, you might not be able to get the papers from the glove box. Grab anything else that might still be in there.”

“No problem. Who’s your insurer?”

“Republic Mutual, the office on Alvern Street in L.A.”

Devon typed the information into his phone. “I don’t think word has gotten to the press about the accident yet, but sooner or later you’ll probably get a visit from someone claiming to be your cousin. I remember when Q Edwards attacked Kinnik Bradley, the press tried all kinds of crazy stuff to get pictures of her in the hospital. If you want, I can alert the hospital about the possibility of that happening.”

“How’d she stop them?”

“Jerome Bradley hired private security to stand guard at her door.”

“Not an option. I don’t have that kind of cash.” I cringed, gritted my teeth and groaned when a lightning pain shot up my leg. “The meds are wearing off.”

“You want me to get a nurse?”

“They can’t do anything. The drip is timed. Just have to wait for the next hit. Do me a favor. Call my cell. I’ll give you the code, so I can listen to my messages.”

Devon did as I asked. After he dialed the code, he carefully put the phone up to my ear. There were a couple of messages from my business manager. Reese was the only woman who’d called, but what did I expect? Only a handful of women had my private cell number. The only reason she had it was because we worked together. I didn’t give the number out to the women I dated in general, because I didn’t want the harassing, “Why didn’t you call? When will I see you again,” etc. questions. That kind of possessiveness made me gag. So, how did I expect any of them to call and show concern for me when I hadn’t been interested enough to share my contact information with them. I thought of it as protecting my freedom when actually all I’d done was wall myself off from any real contact other than strictly sexual.

Just as the messages ended, the door opened and a woman poked her head in. A black woman – something I hadn’t seen since waking up in this God-forsaken place.

“Is this a bad time, Mr. Breland?”

“There hasn’t been a good time since I got here,” I grumbled. “Who are you?”

“Trenyce Clark, the physical therapist assigned to your case. Mr. Burke asked me to talk to you about a possible transport to a hospital in California.”

I sent Devon a questioning glance. “Come in.” She approached the bed, and I tried to focus my one unbandaged eye on her.  Devon hadn’t lied. Her body was hidden under typical hospital scrubs, but she appeared to be slender but not skinny. Her long reddish hair was pulled back into a bushy ponytail. From what I could tell, she seemed quite attractive. And tall. I liked tall women. She could have been a model or an actress. Her choice of this profession seemed to be a waste of such beauty.

“First of all, I’m so sorry about your accident. Since you’ll be with us for a little while, it will be my job to help you regain your strength and muscle function once you’re mobile again.”

I blinked and strained to focus on her face. “I have to go back to California.”

Now she and Devon exchanged a glance.

“My recommendation is that you give your body time to heal. In order for the bones in your legs to mend properly, you don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the process. Devon said you might be able to stay in Telluride for your recovery. A local move wouldn’t be quite as traumatic. If I were you, I’d seriously consider that option.”

“Well, you’re not me, are you?” I snapped when another pain hit. “You’re not the one stuck in this thing. How long do I have to be in this anyway?”

“Six to seven weeks. During that time, the doctor will put you on a diet that’s high in iron and calcium to aid healing. After you have the surgery to remove the rods, physical therapy would begin. The plan starts with range of motion exercises, stretching and massage. From there we will work on rebuilding muscle tone then muscle strength. You’ll be on crutches and won’t be able to take the stairs.”

I recalled Devon’s earlier words. “You’re not a doctor, are you, Miss Clark?”

A muscle in her jaw ticked. “No, Mr. Breland. I am a licensed clinician. I graduated with honors from a one-year orthopedic physical therapy residency program accredited by the American Physical Therapy Association. After graduation, I provided care to patients under the guidance of a senior mentor.”

“Whoa! Whoa!” I held up my hand to stop her lecture. “It wasn’t meant as an insult. I just don’t particularly care for doctors. They think they know everything.”

That brought a smile to her smooth cocoa-colored face. “It’s an occupational hazard. Do you have any questions you want to ask me?”

“Yeah, can you see what you can do about getting this morphine increased?”

She sighed. “You’re on the maximum dosage allowed. Did they inform you that the morphine drip is only for three days?”

My mouth fell open at the prospect. “Hell no. Nobody told me anything. Why?”

“That’s the limit allowed in order to avoid dependency.”

“What happens then?” I despised the panic in my voice but couldn’t disguise it.

“You’ll be switched to another pain medication. Have you ever had addiction issues?”

My gaze again shot to Devon’s. “Not recently. It was at least ten years ago.”

“Hmm. I’ll make a note of that, so Dr. Liu is aware,” she said without any hint of judgment in her voice.

Actually, it had only been seven years since I’d done a stint in a Los Angeles rehab center for cocaine addiction, but ten sounded better. That was before I’d met Devon, but he knew about my thirty days in the voluntary rehabilitation program. That was a period in my life I would rather forget. At the time, I was new to Hollywood. It hadn’t taken me long to discover how bountiful and easily accessible drugs were and how well they numbed the rejection and near poverty experienced by struggling young actors. But all it took was one traffic stop and a short stint in the LA/Orange County jail to make me see that I had a problem I couldn’t control. Immediately, I checked into the center. Since then I hadn’t touched the white powder or any other illegal substance, but Devon often told me it seemed as though I had substituted sex for cocaine. Maybe there was some truth to his accusation, but at least I could control the who, when and where of that habit. Most of the time, anyway.

“Any other questions?” The statuesque therapist asked.

“No.” She smiled, and I could have sworn I felt a familiar stirring, if it hadn’t been for the pain pushing it away. I studied her face with my good eye. She’s definitely attractive. Could even be beautiful with her hair and makeup done. And she smells like good perfume. Wonder what she looks like with her hair loose. “I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.” 

“We can talk about this another time. I don’t want to tire you out. If you need ask me anything else, just have one of the nurses contact me. My office is just upstairs. Please give serious consideration to putting off the move to California.”

She left the room, and as soon as the door closed, Devon said, “I’m with her, V. Craig was serious about his offer. It would be cheaper and safer. I know the idea of staying here Ski-ville doesn’t thrill you, but you’d be living in luxury.”

“I guess I’d need a nurse,” I thought aloud, finally giving the option consideration for the first time.

“Yeah, until you can get around by yourself. I’m sure the hospital can arrange private duty. Do you want me to check into it?”

“I’d appreciate it, man.” I hesitated. “And I don’t want that woman as my physical therapist. You got me?”

“Maybe they can find you another PT. One that’s less attractive.” Devon snickered. “That’s up to you, V. Just tell me what you need me to do.”

“Get Dr. Liu for me. He can tell give Ms. Clark my decision.”

“All right, I’m going to the nurses’ station to see if someone knows where to find him. You’re such a punk, you know that?”

Devon exited the room, and I blew out a long sigh. The expense of transport back to LA had made the decision for me. Although it had been years since I’d lived under someone else’s roof, I decided to take Craig up on his offer.
 
Coming in December 2012 to Kindle, Nook and Kobo!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Sneak Peak #7

We're going back to Telluride, Colorado. This was supposed to be the last excerpt, but I've decided to post unedited excerpts through the end of Chapter Three. This chapter opens with Trenyce meeting with her department head at the medical center. Enjoy this excerpt from Ain't Too Proud to Beg!
 
Chapter Three

Dr. Liu’s assistant called to say he was held up in surgery and wanted me to go ahead and introduce myself to Vaughn Breland. I hated to admit it, but the prospect of meeting the handsome actor jangled my nerves. In order to appear cool and professional, I would have to put on my game face and approach him as I would any other patient.

Still amazed at the news of my prospective patient, I sat at my desk and studied Vaughn Breland’s file. His injuries were extensive, but from what I read, it appeared that Dr. Liu had done his usual marvelous job in surgery. A knock on the door interrupted my contemplation.

“Excuse me.”

Oh, my God. This can’t be happening. I recognized the trademark heavy baritone without even looking up. I had just heard it a few nights before. It belonged to Devon Burke.

 
"Hope you don't mind, but I asked at the nurses' station where your office was. May come in?

I glanced up, smoothed my hair and smiled, conscious to keep it from being too wide. “Of course, Mr. Burke. What can I do for you?”

He entered the small office dressed in a body-hugging black t-shirt and jeans, instantly increasing the ambience one thousand percent, took a few steps toward the desk then paused.

Oh, he’s waiting for me to invite him to sit. Pull yourself together.  “Please, have a seat.” I pointed to a chair.

“It’s Devon. We might as well be on a first name basis, since we’ll probably be talking to each other a lot.”

After an unsteady plop into the chair, I managed a smile and folded my hands on top of the blotter to keep them from shaking.

“You haven’t met Vaughn yet, but Dr. Liu told me you’ve been assigned to his case. I need to explain a few things to you, if you have the time right now.

“Of course. What can I do for you?”

“He wants to be transferred back to LA., and according to Dr. Liu, that would not only be expensive but could also be disastrous. Could you try to talk some sense into him about coming back to Cali? He has no family there to look after him, but he has an opportunity to stay here in Telluride for as long as it takes to get back on his feet. Will you convince him this is the best route for him to take right now?”

The pleading look in his deep-set dark eyes showed the concern he had for his friend. “I can only stay here for another day, and if I don’t do everything I can to get him straight before I leave, Shontae -­ my wife is going to kill me.”

“That’s right. You’re married to Shontae Nichols, the author. I’m reading one of her books right now.”

He smiled, and it seemed as if the entire office lit up. “Really? Which one?”

“The latest one, Standing in the Shadows of Love.”

“Wow, what a coincidence. I’ll have to tell her.”

“I’ve read her last three.”

“Really?” The brightness in the office increased again when his smile widened. “She’ll be pleased to hear that.”

“I’d be glad to talk to Mr. Breland, but the decision is up to him. We can’t force him to stay here.”

Devon leaned forward and clasped his hands on the edge of the desk. “Vaughn can be really stubborn, but he’ll usually listen to reason. Today, he’s been hit with more bad news than a brother can handle.”

“How’s that?”

“He woke up to discover that he’d lost his custom-made car, the use of his legs for the immediate future, his latest movie role, and possibly his looks. Normally, V is a pretty positive guy, but this might be more than he can deal with emotionally.”

“That’s awful.” I sighed. “I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll try my best, Mr. Burke.”

“Devon,” he insisted again with that knee-weakening smile.

“Devon, my name is Trenyce. Are you going back to Vaughn’s room?”

“Yes.”

“Just let him know I’ll be back to see him before I go home this evening.”

Devon rose to his impressive height and extended his hand across the desk. “Thanks, Trenyce. Shontae and I really appreciate your help.”

The moment the closed the door, I picked up the phone and dialed Penny at work. “Hi. It’s me. You’ll never believe what happened here today.”

“Ooh, workplace gossip.” Penny whispered.  “Come on, spice up my day. What’s going on at TMC?”

“You remember when we watched Monaco Rain a few weeks ago?”

“Sure, that was a great picture, and the eye candy was amazing.” Penny chuckled.

“Well, all that eye candy is here at the medical center.”

“What!” Penny shrieked then went back to her office whisper. “What are you talking about, Tren?”

“You can’t tell this to anybody, do you hear me? Vaughn Breland was admitted after a horrific car accident. Guess who’s been assigned to his case? And Devon Burke is his best friend. He just came into my office to ask me to convince Vaughn to stay in Telluride rather than being transported back to Los Angeles,” I babbled.

“Oh my God! And you were talking about your job being boring. I’d give me right arm to switch places with you right now. What are they like? Besides being drop-dead gorgeous, I mean.”

“I’ll be meeting Mr. Breland in a few minutes.”

“I didn’t hear anything about that accident, and I’m an entertainment television junkie.”

“The press hasn’t gotten word yet, so please don’t be the one to tell them he’s here. I could lose my job.”

“You know I wouldn’t do that. Well, what’s he like?”

“Devon seems so nice. He flew here from California last night to see about his buddy.”

“And you’re on a first name basis with him already?”

“He told me to call him that, because we’ll most likely be talking to each other a lot.”

“Are you freakin’ kidding me? That’s like a dream come true.”

“He’s married, Penny, but you know what else is wild?

“There’s more?”

“His wife is Shontae Nichols, the author of the book I’m reading right now.”

“Gee, this is crazy. St. Albert must really like you.”

“Huh?” I’d known Penny for years and still wasn’t able to remember all of the Catholic patron saints my best friend seemed able to call on in an instant.

“He’s the patron saint of medical technicians,” Penny answered, as if everyone should know this fact.

“I don’t even know if he’s going to be my patient yet. Devon said he wants to be transported to a Los Angeles hospital, but Vaughn has no one out there in California to take care of him”

“That’s impossible!,” Penny insisted. “Vaughn Breland is known as a real Hollywood player. I bet there would be women lined up around the block to give him a sponge bath, if they knew about his accident. Heck, I’ll volunteer. Tell him I’m available day or night. Day and night would be even better.”

“You’re nuts. I’d better get off the phone and go to work. Just wanted to tell you that.”         

“Thanks, Tren. Make sure you call me if anything exciting happens, and think about how you might be able to sneak me in to see them.”

I had to laugh at that, knowing she was dead serious. “Now I know you’re trying to get me fired. I’ll talk to you later, girl.”
 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Aspiring authors are our future


This is a special day. For the first time since I started my blog in 2006 (archived posts are still on my web site at www.chicki663.webs.com), I am excited to feature a budding young writer.


Miss Tiana Villalongo is an eleven-year-old honor student who is in the sixth grade. She loves to write and has been writing short stories since she was five. Tiana has a very vivid imagination. When she grows up, Tiana wants to be n author. She wants to go to college to Spelman College and earn a degree in creative writing and acting.

Tiana’s mother told me that like many scribes, she’s had challenges with finishing her creations. I told her if she finished the story, I would post it here.

Back when I was in middle school, my friend Geraldine and I spent our summers sitting under a shade tree putting our fantasies on paper.  Unfortunately, as I got older and life got in the way, I stopped writing and didn’t start again until almost four decades later.

Enjoy Tiana’s story, entitled The Monster Under My Bed and leave a comment to leave her a few words of encouragement.

The Monster Under My Bed
by Tiana Villalongo


Hello, my name is Christal Waters. I live in New York City on the West Side. I am seven years old. I have a two-year old little brother named Chris. My parents always think that names should start with the name Chris. For instance, my daddy told me that when I was first born, my mommy wanted to name me Christine, Chris, or even Chris Ann. My daddy named me, and I think that’s why I have a monster under my bed. Usually mothers name their children not the fathers. Here begins the story of how I got a monster under my bed.

This all happened about a month ago. Even though the night was dark, scary, and stormy, I was in a really good mood because it was my seventh birthday. When I got ready to go to sleep, I heard a thump under my bed. I checked, and nothing was there, so I went to the closet to pick out my clothes for school. As I opened the door, footsteps sounded in the hall. I turned from my closet and opened my bedroom door. Nothing was there either, but I heard whispers from Mommy and Daddy's room, so I tiptoed to the door to see what they were saying. I couldn't make out the words and went back to my closet. Something poked me on my shoulder as I reached for a hanger. To my shock, I whirled around and there stood an eight-foot tall, green, slimy monster.

“Aahh! Help me!” I screeched.

The monster disappeared suddenly when my parents ran into the room and Chris started crying.

“Honey, you stay here with Christal, and I'll be back with Chris.” Mom said.

“What happened?” daddy asked.

“Th-the,” I stammered.

Mom came into the room holding Chris and asked again “What happened?” “There was a monster in my room!” I said, knowing they wouldn't believe me. “Oh no.” mommy mumbled under her breath. Daddy just nodded his head in astonishment. I didn't know what they were talking about.

“What's the oh-oh? Does Chris need a trip to the potty?” I asked.

“Well,” Mommy started. “We never wanted to tell you this, but when you were born your father and I were in Vegas. There were no nurses close by the hotel and…” Mommy paused and looked around the room. She always does that when she's nervous. “And you were delivered buy a fortuneteller,” Daddy said, finishing the sentence. “When you were delivered,” mommy continued. “The fortune teller told us that something bad was going to happen to you. She said the first child is always the worst, and the second child is always the best.”

“What? So you mean to tell me I'm going to have bad luck forever?” I asked my parents.

“Only until your fourteen years old or until you stop believing in the boogie man,” they said at the same time.

Now I know this sounds weird, and it isn't something you expect to hear from a seven-year-old, but this really happened to me. “But I don't believe in the boogie man!” I lied. They said nothing, and I could tell from their expressions that they saw right through it.

“You can sleep in Chris' room, ” Daddy said.

“But Chris sleeps with you guys, and I can't do that. I don't know how long you've been out of school, but that's considered lame, Daddy.”

“Well, you could always stay here with the monster.”

I couldn't say no again because that hideous thing could come back for me. “Okay, fine. I'll sleep with you,” I mumbled under my breath.

We turned off my lights, went into their room and all climbed into the bed. Mommy was on the left side closest to the nightstand. Daddy was on the other side closest to the window, and Chris was in between them. I took the end of the bed in place of our doggy, which had found a spot on the floor next to Mommy's side. That night I slept like a baby even with Daddy's long crusty feet in my face and his toenails poking me every five minutes.

The next morning, I got up brushed my teeth, took a shower, and went to eat breakfast. On my way down stairs, I heard crying behind me, but I knew that couldn't be possible, because Chris was already downstairs in his highchair. Mom had just placed a plate of steamy hot bacon, eggs, and pancakes on the table for me. I ate my breakfast then grabbed my backpack and said bye to Mommy and Chris before Daddy and I left the house.

While I was at school something bad happened. I found out at lunchtime that I was allergic to spaghetti, because I spent the rest of the day throwing up in the bathroom. Once I got home and into my bed, I was dozing off and heard a thump come from my closet. At first, I thought it was just my imagination, but a couple of seconds later I heard a blood-chilling scream. My closet door burst open, and that hideous monster from the night before jumped out. He stared at me until my baby brother Chris came into the room. I tried over and over again to stand up, but I was too weak. Eventually I gave up.

“Mama. Mama. Mama!” he called out then started to cry.

“Yes, Chris?” I answered weakly and tried one last time with all my strength to get up. Dizzy, I made it to my feet, took Chris by the hand but he was so scared, he couldn’t move. I had no choice but to leave him and run to Mommy and Daddy's room and pounded on the door. Nobody was there. Where were they?  I frantically checked the whole house. Chris and I were all alone. On my way upstairs, I heard Chris scream. A burst of energy carried me upstairs just as Chris opened the closet door. Everything turned white.

“Stay away from him!” I shouted.           

Chris ran into my arms and nearly knocked me down the stairs. I shoved him behind me as the monster stepped all the way out of the closet.

“I'm sorry, I don't want to scare you, but I have to,” the monster said.

“Why?”

“Because I wasn't always a monster. I used to be a regular guy named Al Parker. It all happened when I met that witch of a fortuneteller in Vegas. I've always wanted to be a genie and her flier had said, “I can make all your wildest dreams come true.” I went to see her after she delivered a baby. She had a detailed contract that stated in the fine print that after she made my first three wishes come true, I had to give the baby she’d delivered a lifetime of bad luck. Of course, I didn’t read the fine print at the time.” He started to cry.

No longer afraid, I went over to console him. Chris had fallen asleep on my bed, and I wondered how he had gotten there.

“After I signed the contract,” Al went on. “She warned me if I told anyone then I would be a monstrous genie forever.” He cried even harder.

“Wait you just told me the story, which means you’re going to be a genie forever.” I stated. Magically, a lamp appeared and sucked Al inside. When I was little, I remember hearing an old fairy tale say if you rubbed a lamp like this, the genie would appear. I picked it up, rubbed it, and Al came out dressed in a genie outfit. “We both know how this works. I get three wishes, so let's get to it, Al.” I said.

He looked confused but said, “State your three wishes, Christal.”

“First, I wish you were free from being a genie. Second, I wish you were human again. Third, I wish we both could forget about bad luck, the witch, and that my family would appear again.”

All my wishes were granted, but nothing was ever the same again.

Well, that's my story.

 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Author Spotlight

The author spotlight is shining on debut author James Fant.


I met James online, and I was so excited to hear about his new release and wanted to feature it here, because I love romances written by men. To give you a little insight into who he is, here's a brief bio:

James is a native of Greenville, South Carolina and currently resides in the South Carolina Low country. He has always possessed a passion for learning and reading, which prompted his undergraduate study in the field of Biology, and later a Master’s in Business Administration. While he is successful in his vocational endeavors and in his desire to meet the needs of others, he has a greater calling to meet the needs of others through print.

His passion for reading has led him to read books from a variety of authors. However, he saw that he needed to address relationship issues and attempt to mend broken bonds with clean language. This set the stage for his first novel An Ode for Orchids. James plans to publish many works that will encourage his readers to analyze and repair their personal relationships. He is a family man with a wife and two children who he dedicated his first publication to and continues to work with them in mind.
 
 
Here's a blurb and a short excerpt from An Ode for Orchids:

Blurb:

Geneva Cole was well known for growing orchids, but her most prized orchids weren’t really flowers at all, at least not in the literal sense. Her most prized orchids were her four grand-daughters: Karen, Cicely, and twin sisters Brook and Dawn. And her main goal was to prepare them for life’s challenges.

Brook eventually opens several barbershops/hair salons with her husband Walter; however, she battles with him over their long distance marriage and alleged infidelity. Dawn has a daughter by a drug trafficker named Cory Mack. But she must constantly battle another woman for his affection. The extremely promiscuous Cicely has everything a girl could want: wealth, intelligence, and beauty. Yet for all of her treasures, she ends up lacking in other areas that are most important to her. Finally, Karen battles severe anxiety attacks, loses boyfriend after boyfriend because of her pledge of virginity and has to deal with the intense hatred that Cicely has for her.

An Ode for Orchids is a story about four young women and the challenges that they face, such as making bad choices in men, dealing with infidelity, struggling with promiscuity, and dealing with rejection. But perhaps the most daunting challenge is dealing with the animosity that one woman can have for another woman. Time will reveal whether or not each of them will be strong enough to face the challenges that life will offer them.

Excerpt:

Brook entered the shop very early on a Tuesday morning. Miss Mattie was the only person there, as she normally opened the shop.

“You’re here early, boss.”


Brook didn’t respond. She only dropped her bag on the black and white tile floor and plopped herself into the chair next to Miss Mattie’s.


“Well, how was your weekend?”


Brook remained silent. Her eyes were swollen from crying. The skin on her face was so tight that her cheek bones protruded. Her hair was tied into a pony-tail, barely combed down. She looked like a zombie to Miss Mattie who was determined to get her to say something.

“How much more weight are you going to lose? You’re going to fly away soon. You and Dawn don’t even look alike anymore.”

“He’s cheating on me.”

“What?”

Miss Mattie pulled her comb off of her counter, walked over to Brook, took her pony-tail out and began to comb through her hair.

“Say that again.”

“You heard me. That low life is cheating on me. And I am a fool for not seeing it.”

“How do you know that Walter is cheating? Did you catch him or something?”

Brook began gazing at her wedding ring, playing with it. She wiggled her finger so that the light could hit the diamond and make it sparkle. Then with a sob, she covered it up.

“I don’t feel like a married woman. I don’t live with my husband. I don’t go to bed with my husband every night and I don’t wake up beside him every morning. He used to come up one weekend a month but now even that’s stopped. You can’t be too busy to be a husband.”

Miss Mattie let the comb slowly work out the kinks in Brook’s jet black hair. She said nothing. Instead she listened as Brook began pouring her heart out to her.

“I was tired of it all. I was tired of not having my man with me. I was tired of living alone. I was tired of the rumors that I was hearing.”

Brook’s voice began to crack. She fought the tears away, beginning to be relaxed by Miss Mattie’s soft, motherly touch.

“What rumors?” she asked.

Brook looked at Miss Mattie through the mirror. Her look said it all. If she had not said another word, Miss Mattie knew exactly where her head was. Brook sensed that her eyes were being read by her mother figure. So she closed them tight. She felt that Walter was being unfaithful. That was all Miss Mattie needed to know.

“Brook, do you know who it is?”

Brook’s eyes remained closed. She remained silent.

“Okay. Do you think it’s another woman?”

All Miss Mattie saw was Brook’s eye lids.

“Do you think it’s a man?”

Brook’s eyes popped open.
 
###

The books is available on Kindle - amzn.to/PW5XqJ  Nook - http://bit.ly/Q0M2az and Smashwords - http://bit.ly/Tao0P7
 




Smashwords (for iPad & iB

You can contact James here:
 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday Sneak Peek #6

Here's the next unedited excerpt from Ain't Too Proud to Beg. Today we continue with Devon's visit to the hospital to see his best friend.

©©©

Before I returned to the waiting room, I paid a visit to the hospital security chief to talk to him about possible visits from the paparazzi. He listened, but appeared to not take my warning very seriously when he said he didn’t think anything would happen. I had to remember that this was Telluride not Hollywood and reminded him if they paid for shots of Whitney in her casket, they would do anything. I ended our slightly antagonistic chat by information him that for the time being, V wouldn’t have any visitors other than myself, my wife, Craig Weinstein and possibly his manager.

Once I returned to the waiting room, I debated with myself on whether or not I should try to talk to Vaughn. The news my buddy had just received would’ve been devastating to anyone. It meant his career could very well be over. If I were in his shoes what would I want? Probably to be left alone, just like Vaughn had asked. Powerlessness to help him was possibly the worst emotion I’d ever felt, other than when I’d witnessed my former girlfriend’s suicide. I leaned forward and covered my face with my hands.

“Excuse me, Mr. Burke, are you all right?” When I opened my eyes, a woman dressed in hospital attire was standing in front of me. “Is there anything I can get you?”

The other people seated in the room were all staring at me. Being easily recognizable was a simultaneous blessing and curse. People somehow expected you to respond differently to the vicissitudes of life, especially if you were known from portraying heroic characters. They could never accept Dwayne Johnson whining because he was tired. Or Denzel Washington cursing someone out that didn’t meet his expectations. The public expected a hero image at all times, so I called on my training and summoned a smile. “My buddy needed some time alone. I’ll be going back in when he feels up to having company.”

“That’s understandable. He’s had a traumatic accident. He needs time to process.” She stepped closer, leaned down and whispered. “We have a private waiting room at the other end of the floor. You might be more comfortable there.”

The others seated around me watched as I met her speculative gaze. “I would, thank you. There are some phone calls I need to make.”

We exited the room, and she flashed a beaming smile toward her associates when we passed the nurse’s station. I kept my gaze focused straight ahead until the gawking staff was behind us.

“Mr. Breland is in excellent hands. Dr. Liu is one of the best orthopedic surgeons in the country.”

“That’s good to hear. He seems to think Vaughn will make a full recovery.”

“Here we are.” She opened the door to the empty private room. After she left, I called Shontae with an update. In the middle of the call, Craig Weinsten entered the room.


“Baby, I’ll call you back. Craig is here.”

We shook hands. “How’s he doing?” Craig asked.

“Physically, okay. Mentally, not so good. He’s looking at seven weeks in traction before he can even start physical therapy. He wants to come back to LA, but…” I shook my head. “You’ll see. Come on. His room is at the end of the hall.”

***

Devon poked his head in the door. “V, Craig is here to see you. Are you up to it, man?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said, thinking I had probably blown my chance at the opportunity of a lifetime. The invitation to invest in an upstart movie studio with several other Hollywood stars had been hand delivered with the understanding that complete secrecy was expected.

Craig followed Devon into the room

“Guess I missed the meeting.” I tried to smile, but my face felt like it had shrunken two sizes and the effort sent a shooting pain across my cheek.

The thin, bespectacled man removed his trademark baseball cap and smiled. “Yeah, but you’re still considered a potential investor. When you’re feeling better, I’ll bring you up to speed on what went took place.”

“Thanks.”

“The doctor said the EMS guys found my address in the car and called me right after the accident happened,” Craig said while his gaze ran back and forth from my face to my elevated leg. “I came to the hospital right away, but since you were in surgery, there wasn’t any reason for me to stay. I called me Devon at home as soon as I heard.”

“Listen, Dev. Can you…” My words came slower than my mind conceived them. “Find out about AJ.”

 
The answer was clear by the expression of disbelief Craig shared with Devon. “EMS had to extricate you from the vehicle. I’m sorry, Vaughn.”

Devon didn’t answer right away and simply shook his head. “V, from what I heard, there wasn’t anything left to salvage. She was totaled. Don’t worry about it. You were insured. Weren’t you?”

“Of course, but … she was unique. I loved her, man.”

“I know, but you’re not talking about a woman here. Your ride can be replaced. I’ll check into it, but don’t worry about that now. You have more important things to think about. In the meantime, have you had a chance to think about what you’re going to do next?”

My gaze rested on Craig’s face and then Devon’s. “The first thing I need to do is get back to LA. No offense, Craig. But this isn’t exactly the kind of place a black man wants get stranded.”

“Now, what in the world do you mean?” Craig asked feigning an innocent expression.

I managed a small smile. “You know what I mean. At least if I get back to LA, I can take care of business while I recuperate,”

Devon barked a deep laugh. “V, I don’t think you’re going to be taking care of any business any time soon.”

“Not that kind of business. I’m talking about work.”

Craig spoke gently, “I hate to say this, but it doesn’t look like you’ll be doing much of that either. I took the liberty of contacting your studio and let them know what happened.  I knew you didn’t want them to think you’d gone AWOL on them. They’re sending someone out here in a few days. I also spoke with your doctor this morning. According to him, you have nearly two months in this rig,” he waved toward the equipment stabilizing my leg. “Then there’ll be close to a year of physical therapy. Do you have anyone that can help with your care?”

None that would be willing to help me without getting a regular paycheck. “Not really. Why?”

Craig moved closer to the bed. “Because I want you to consider staying at my house. There’s more than enough space, and you could be moved there without much trouble.”

I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. It took me a long moment to respond. “Stay at your house? Didn’t I hear that Sabrina Fairchild lives with you now?”

“Yes, she and her daughter, Harlowe, and my sister.” Craig chuckled. “I’m in a house full of women. A little additional testosterone around that place wouldn’t hurt, and it would give the chef something to do when Bri isn’t there. I forgot you’ve never seen the house. You could be there for months without ever running into them, unless you wanted to.” I didn’t respond, so Craig continued. “I asked Dr. Liu about transferring you back to Cali, and he didn’t think it was wise. He said it could be dangerous and quite expensive. Since I feel kind of responsible for you being in this condition to begin with, I’d like to help.”

“What happened wasn’t your fault, man.”

“I had no idea you were driving here, and it didn’t occur to me to warn you and the others, especially since the Weather Service had predicted snow. I’m used to living up here and driving on mountain roads, but it was irresponsible of me not to remind everyone that this is four-wheel drive country. Even the ones that flew still had to rent cars at the airport and drive to my house.” Craig laughed again. “But I didn’t tell you to drive up here in that land jet, though.”

“V’s right,” Devon added, knowing Craig’s generous nature. “There’s no reason for you to feel liable for the accident. We all know how this fool drives.”

Craig Weinstein had a reputation for being one of the most generous people in Hollywood. He’d been known to use his private jet to carry emergency supplies to victims of national disasters and had even loaned it to a star’s family to fly his body home after his untimely death. His name was associated with major charities in this US and abroad. He and I had met several years ago on the set of Craig’s directorial debut, which also happened to be my first movie. Anxious to please, I’d gone out of his way to be a director’s dream actor. We hit it off and been friends ever since.

“Give it serious thought, Vaughn. It wouldn’t be an imposition. If you arrange for a private nurse, I can even hook you up with the physical therapist that worked with my brother when he had the run-in with that tree up on Coxcomb. TC was amazing. That jerk broke bones he didn’t even know he had, but with TC’s help, he doesn’t even have a limp.”

“I appreciate that, but I don’t know–”

“The choice is yours, of course. Still, it makes more sense for your health and your budget to stay here for a while. I’ll let you mull it over for a few days.” He stood and clasped my hand.

“I’d better get back to the house. I have a conference call scheduled.”

“I’ll walk you to the elevator,” Devon volunteered then the two of them left the room.

Tired from our short conversation, I closed his eyes and considered Craig’s generous offer, but I couldn’t see myself living in someone else’s house for months. I needed my own space. Besides, there was a kid in the house, and I’d never shared my space with any children. They were noisy, messy and generally annoying.

Not long after Devon returned, the door opened and another doctor entered. He introduced himself as the head of plastic surgery. “Mr. Breland, I want to talk to you about your facial lacerations, but I see you have a visitor.”

“You can say whatever you need to in front of him. I eyed him warily. “Go ahead.”

“All right. In view of your profession, I know your appearance is important to you,” the doctor said slowly, as if he were weighing his words. “I’m not going to hedge here. Your face sustained severe damage from the impact of the steering wheel and from the windshield. Your cheekbone is shattered, and surgery is imperative, possibly a series of surgeries, but I am confident your face can be restored to its prior condition.”

 
The horror of what I heard left me speechless. I was no fool. My acting skills weren’t what had gotten me to where I was in Hollywood. My looks were my meal ticket, and I knew it. Without them, I’d have no work and no female companionship – the only two things that made my life worth living. The news about my legs had almost taken me under, but this was more than I could stand. I squeezed my eyes shut. “I…need to…be alone.”

Devon left the room again followed by the doctor.

What am I going to do now? My career might be over. These surgeries will cost me a fortune, even with the insurance.  I turned my face into the pillow and must have eventually succumbed to the effects of the latest infusion of morphine.