Wednesday, April 23, 2014

New Release Showcase!

I am overjoyed to announce the release of Light My World by my friend and former critique partner, Zee Monodee


About the author

Zee Monodee writes stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of culture

Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.

From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favorite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.

Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmom to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.

I had the honor of being one of the first people in the world to read this book after it was written, and I can tell you that if you enjoy multicultural/interracial/Bollywood stories, this is the one for you!



Blurb:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?

So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?

Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…

But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…

When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.

Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?
  
Tidbits about this book & series 

- Light My World, is Diya’s hilarious quest to find Prince Charming in the sea of frogs that is Mauritius (well, what it is according to her perception!). Follow her on this desperate mission!

- Diya is an exception more than the norm – at 24, she has broken away from her family without burning any bridges, having her own place and business. A feat, when considering how parents hoard their kids until marriage on the island. One prison for another, as Diya sees it.

Excerpt:

Still squatting in front of the children, Diya peeked up for a first glance of him.

Brown linen trousers covered his long legs, and she craned her neck to take in his tall body and broad chest. He’d rolled the sleeves of his cream-colored shirt to his elbows, revealing big, powerful-looking hands and strong forearms dusted in dark hairs. A tense, corded neck lay visible beneath the open collar of the shirt, with a slightly pointed chin above it. Strong jaw, and chiseled, taut, handsome features. Deep-set grey eyes, very much like the elder boy’s, squinted at her beneath thick eyebrows the same hue as the neatly trimmed dark hair on his head.

Diya gaped. This hulking Adonis was her neighbor?

He has offspring to boot, whispered a little voice.

She snorted under her breath. Just her luck, again. He was taken. What is it with this weekend from hell?

“You?”

The word rolled off the Greek god’s tongue, and the British accent and disbelieving tone dripping with spite jolted her like an electric current.

This man, and the savage who’d hit her car the day before, were the same person.

The surprise zinged through her; she gasped, and brought her hand up to cover her mouth.
In doing so, she lost her balance and toppled over onto her ass to lay flat on her back. Pain from hitting the hard marble erupted all along her spine, and she caught herself before the back of her head smashed into the floor. Quick save, and thank goodness most of the broken glass lay in her flat, and not in the lobby. She’d have been in for some major injury, otherwise.

“Are you okay, miss?” a little voice asked.

Would this nightmare ever end? She must appear like an undignified heap, and there went all the leverage she could bring to this meeting. Humiliation piled onto her anger at being caught in such a stupid position, in front of him, no less.

“No, I’m not okay.” She glared at the oaf. “It’s all because of you, you beast.”

“Dad?” Matthew asked. “What’s he done?”

Confirmation he was the boys’ father. Great. Could something, anything, go right for her?

“Oh, forget it,” she said as her voice broke.

Shoot, she wouldn’t cry, would she?

“Of all the people in the world….”

He spoke the words softly. The disbelief in them wiped away her feelings of self-pity, and hurt like a stab, in the same go.

Was he rude by nature, or did he always itch for a fight? Either way, she wouldn’t let him off the hook.

“What?” she asked. “Go on. What were you gonna say?”

“Nothing,” he said through clenched teeth.

“It’s not nothing. So don’t be a chicken. Say it.”

He remained stubbornly silent.

She glowered up at him. “So?”

He tightened his jaw. “You’re the one person I hoped to never meet again.”

This had to strike beyond rude. What a bastard.

Outrage at his insult filled her, but the distaste for him and his cavemen-like ways won the battle. “Same here, mate.”

“You know each other?” Matthew asked as he peered back and forth at them.

“Yeah,” they both growled.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Till You Come Back to Me - Sneak Peek #3

I realize how neglectful I've been with this blog, but I'm getting Book Two in the Stafford Brothers series ready to go to my editor. When I tried to think of something to post...



So, I figured I would just share another unedited excerpt from Till You Come Back to Me. This is the scene when Charles Stafford makes his decision known to his family. Enjoy!


The family room of Charles’ parents’ Atlanta home buzzed with anticipation.  The family had all been together a few weeks ago to celebrate Christmas. This time, he had called them all together for a meeting without giving them an inkling of why, but he knew they would all show up out of mere curiosity.
When he arrived, Cydney, his brother Jesse’s wife was the first to greet him as she discreetly nursed their newborn in an easy chair in the corner. “Hey, brother-in-law! You have us all on pins and needles here. We’re just waiting for Nick. He went to Cherilyn’s church this morning.” She propped the little pink bundle on her shoulder and patted her back.
“They’re still seeing each other?” Charles asked. “I’m impressed. Okay. That’ll give me time to log on to my laptop.”
“Are you giving a symposium, Dr. Stafford?” she asked with a giggle.
He gave her the side eye. “No, Cyd. I’m Skyping Marc and Greg, so they can be here with us.”
Ramona, who was married to his brother Vic, raised her perfectly-shaped eyebrows. “Wow, this must be serious.”
“Charles!” His mother, Lillian, came around the corner from the kitchen before he could answer. “I thought I heard your voice. “Do you mind telling your mother what this is all about?”
He kissed her cheek. “I want to talk to everyone at the same time, Mama. As soon as Nick gets here, I’ll get Marc and Greg on the computer. Where is everybody?”
“In the kitchen making sandwiches. If Daddy and your brothers don’t eat the second we get out of church, they think they’ll die. I sent the kids downstairs to watch a movie.”
Charles set his laptop on the cocktail table in front of the sofa, plugged it in and hit the power button. “Since Nick’s not here yet, I’m going to make a sandwich.” He left the women in the family room.
“What’s this all about, Charles?” his father, Victor Sr., asked when he entered the kitchen. “Why was it necessary to call the whole family together?”
“Did you guys leave any meat? I could use a sandwich before we get started,” he answered, scanning the counter and momentarily disregarding the older man’s interrogation. “Nick’ll be here in a few.”
His older brothers, Vic and Jesse shared a puzzled glance. Vic slid the bread, mustard, and mayonnaise in Charles’ direction. They watched him in silence as he slathered the bread with mayonnaise, and slapped together a combination of ham, turkey, and cheese.
“I have to set up this conference call on my laptop.” He poured a glass of apple juice. “If Nick isn’t here by the time I’m done, I’ll just start without him.”
The three doctors stared at him and nodded. “Who the hell is he conferencing?” Charles heard Jesse say as he left the room.
Thankfully, his baby brother walked in the door as he headed toward the computer. “It’s about time, man,” Charles grasped Nick’s hand, and they bumped shoulders.
“I had to take Cherilyn home. What’s up, man? Why the appearance summons?”
“You’ll know in a few minutes. Do you know how to do a Skype call?”
“Sure. Don’t you?”
“Yes, but I’ve never made a conference call.”
 “And we’re conferencing with?”
“Marc and Greg.”
Nick’s cerulean gaze rested on his. “This must be major. Give me the numbers, and I’ll do it. Are they expecting the call?”
“I told them between two-thirty and three o’clock.”
Nick, the family cyber-wizard, positioned himself in front of the computer. “They’ll be on the line in five minutes.”
“Okay. Let me get the rest of the family from the kitchen.” Charles crossed the room and peered into the kitchen. “We’re almost ready. Come on.” His father bolted into the living room as though he couldn’t wait another minute to find out what this whole production was about. He took a seat next to his wife.
“Hey, Marc. It’s Nick. I’m arranging this call for Charles. Can you see me?”
“Uh huh, is everybody there?”
“Present and accounted for.”
“Hey, people!” Marc called from the screen. “Gianne is here with me. Say hi, baby.” Marc’s fiancée leaned in, waved and was met with a chorus of hellos.
 “Hold on, so I can get Greg.” Nick did his thing, and the last of his five brothers appeared on the screen from his Manhattan apartment. “We’re all in the family room.” He moved aside and let Charles take his place in front of the laptop.
“I obviously have an announcement to make, but first I want to say that I’ve been considering this decision for a couple of years.” He met Vic’s gaze, and his brother smiled. “And I discussed it with Marc when he was here a few months ago.” He paused, cleared his throat and met his father’s gaze. “I’ve put my practice up for sale, and I’m moving to Las Vegas to work with Marc for half of the year.” A collective gasp traveled around the room, but Charles was determined to finish. “The other half of the year I’ll be working with Doctors Without Borders performing reconstructive surgery in a small village hospital in Nigeria. As soon as the legal details are finalized with the real estate agent and the legal guys, I’ll be leaving.”
His mother grabbed his father’s hand. Cyd and Ramona put their heads together and whispered. An uneasy silence lingered until Greg spoke from the computer screen. “That’s fantastic, man! It takes a lot of guts to make a move like that.”
“I agree,” Marc chimed in. “If that’s where your heart is, go for it.”
“Did you talk him into this, Marcus?” his father challenged, clearly shocked by the news.
“Daddy. Daddy!” Charles raised his voice. “This was my decision. When I asked Marc if I could stay with him, he asked me how I planned to make any money during the half of the year I’d be in the States. At that point, I wasn’t sure, so he made me an offer.”
“Dammit, Charles! You’re a Board-certified plastic surgeon,” the older man blustered. I already have one son whose life goal is to be a gym rat.” He leapt from his seat and headed for the bar in the corner where he poured himself two fingers of Scotch and took a long sip.
Undeterred, Charles continued. “Doctors Without Borders is a highly respected organization, and if I’m ever going to do this, it has to be now while I’m single with no kids. If I divest most of my hard assets, I can have a nice cushion. After all, nobody needs a Benz or a wardrobe of designer suits to operate in a remote third-world hospital.”
“I think it’s wonderful, Charles,” Cydney said, bouncing the sleeping baby across her lap.
Ramona just rolled her eyes. Pro-bono work of any kind ran contrary to her DNA.
His mother spoke up. “Victor, I think you’re losing sight of the real point here. We raised the boys to give back, didn’t we?”
“He doesn’t need to sell his practice and move to Las Vegas in order to give back,” his father insisted. “You can stay here in Atlanta and volunteer wherever you want, Charles. I know of colleagues who donate their time to DWB, but they only do short tours.”
“I thought about that, Daddy, but I don’t want to go that route. I’m sick and tired of catering to people’s narcissism. I want to help people, I mean, really help. If I have to enlarge any more lips, butts, or boobs, I’ll lose my mind.”
His father slammed his glass on the table. “Boy, what is wrong with you? Those lips, butts, and boobs paid off that $200,000 student loan debt!”
Charles stood his ground. “Right. So my time doing vanity surgery has served its purpose. This isn’t up for discussion. It looks as though I have a qualified buyer for my practice, and once the deal is finalized, I’ll be moving to Vegas.”
“So what will you be doing for Marc?” Cydney asked, obviously trying to intervene on the brewing verbal brawl simmering between father and son.
“I’ll be the suit, the one who visits corporations to sell them on the value of corporate fitness programs for their employees. Since the major corporations in Vegas are the casinos, they’ll be my targets. It should be interesting, since this will be my first stint as a businessman rather than a medicine man.”
“You’ll do just fine,” his mother reassured him. “I’m just concerned about the reports I’ve heard about the dangers of visiting Nigeria. That’s where they have all those kidnappings, isn’t it?”
“Yes, Mama, but it’s not like I’m a movie star or anything.” He chuckled. “Nobody would get anything out of kidnapping me.”
“Charles,” Marc interrupted. “I need you to call me as soon as you get your flight details.”
“Will do, man.”
“All right, folks. We’re signing off now. Gianne and I have things to do.”
“Yeah, I bet you do,” Greg said from his window on the screen with a snide laugh that elicited laughs from the family. “Check you later.”
Gianne peeked into the camera’s view. “It was good to see everybody.”
“Before you go, tell us how the wedding plans are coming along?” his mother asked.
“Okay. We haven’t decided what kind of ceremony we want yet.”
She scowled. “Marcus, please don’t call and tell me you decided to take her to one of those awful casino chapels.”
“Let’s just be thankful he’s not taking her into the desert and having a cactus officiate over the ceremony,” his father joked, always taking stabs at Marc’s New Age tendencies and raw vegan lifestyle.
“Stop it, Victor.” She swatted his father’s arm.
“We’re definitely not doing that, but we’ll let everyone know the details once we get everything arranged. We’re not getting married until next summer.”
“It takes at least a year to plan a decent wedding, Marc,” Ramona said.
Marc grinned. “Okay, we’re going now. Bye.”
The family called out their goodbyes and his window disappeared. Charles disconnected the call then closed his laptop.
“Why?” his father grumbled. “I’m convinced Marcus had something to do with you making this crazy decision.”
“You’re wrong, Daddy. I asked him if I could stay with him when I’m in the States. He’s living in that big house with so much extra space. Oh, that’s right, you’ve never been to his house,” Charles added with such a cutting edge it made his father look away. “I thought it was the perfect solution. A couple of days later, he called me with the job offer. Even when he and Gianne get married, I don’t think my living there will be an imposition.”
Always the statesman, his big brother Vic raised his glass of apple juice and said, “I think this deserves a toast. To a future filled with discovery and the chance to share your talents with the world. Here’s to a great new career! To Charles!”
Everyone holding a beverage, except his father, raised their glass and repeated, “To Charles!”
The elder man shook his head as though in disbelief that yet another of his six sons had chosen to go against the Stafford family tradition. He and his brothers, Clifford and Rodney, were successful private practice physicians. Three of Charles’ brothers had all followed in their father’s footsteps, and Jesse was part of his practice. Vic Jr. had formerly worked as a surgeon with the practice until he was offered a position as hospital Chief of Staff. A recent graduate of medical school, Nick, the youngest brother, had done his internship but was now wavering on selecting a specialty. The other two, had chosen non-medical professions. Greg currently held a coveted position as a primetime television magazine show host in New York. Marc was creating a name for himself as a Las Vegas celebrity personal trainer and raw foods advocate, which their father considered akin to witchcraft.
Now he had upset the status quo by announcing his decision. At least he’d chosen to remain in medicine, but not in the manner the senior Stafford considered respectable. For years, his father and his twin brother Marc had been estranged because of his decision not to pursue medicine. Only recently had they begun to work on settling their differences. The fact that he would be working part-time with Marc put a burr under the old man’s collar.
He planned to fly to Las Vegas in a couple of weeks to start brainstorming with his twin about what his function with Canyon Gate Personal Training would be. The prospect of doing something so completely different excited him. So did the idea of leaving Atlanta. Charles had been born and raised there, and the only time he’d spent away from the Queen City of the South was when he did his undergrad work at UGA. After graduation, he returned to Atlanta and attended Morehouse School of Medicine.
The glitz and glamour of Vegas held a certain attraction for him. He liked the idea that he would be in a city where no one knew him. Here in Atlanta he was always conscious of upholding the Stafford reputation. Seeing your doctor in the club with a girl twerking on his crotch was bad for business to say the least. After spending the past five years working nonstop, Charles had every intention of getting his party on during his six months stateside.




Sunday, April 6, 2014

Getting back to normal

Recovering from major surgery is no joke. Although I didn't experience any screaming, throbbing pain, I have had swelling and discomfort in the leg. The one after-effect I didn't expect was the tiredness. Perhaps it was from all the drugs they gave me in the hospital, but I tend to think it's because I broke my regular routine.



I never sleep during the day, but those first couple of days after surgery, I didn't do more than put some relaxing music on the TV and crash until the hospital staff came and woke me to take my vitals or get me up to move around.


Now every day when I lay down to work out my leg on the CPM machine, I go right to sleep. If I'm going to get any writing done, this is a habit I have to break immediately. Charles and Adanna are waiting for their happy ending. Here's another short, unedited excerpt:

 

The hospital staff and their guests settled under a white canopy covering two tables laden with bowls and platters. Nurse Okoro introduced their servers, three women from the village dressed in colorful traditional clothing and head wraps. Dr. Ijalana asked the women to serve the assistants first and instructed them to take turns checking on the patients. Charles bowed his head and silently offered a prayer over the food. Even though it smelled wonderful, most likely it contained ingredients he would never have eaten. The facilitator at the briefing mentioned the necessity of being careful not to insult the locals in any way, and one of those ways was by refusing food they had prepared. When he raised his head and opened his eyes, Nurse Okoro was studying him with a hint of a smile.

The new combined staff got to know each other while they ate. Charles took a few minutes talking with the two local doctors and the other nurse then settled in the seat next to Nurse Okoro.

“Can you tell me what all of this is," he nodded toward his plate.

"We asked the three best cooks in the village to prepare your first meal, and requested they fixed only chicken and vegetable dishes." He listened intently while she described the assortment of rice dishes, fruits and vegetables in detail.

"Thank you. Everything is delicious. You have a British accent. You weren’t born here in Nigeria?”

She smiled and her cheeks rose like apples on her high cheekbones. “I was born here, but my family moved to London when I was twelve, and we lived there until I graduated from nursing school.”

“Why did your family decide to return?”

“They didn’t. My parents still live in London, but my brother and I always wanted to come back.”

“That’s interesting. I’ve recently moved away from my family too. Have you ever visited the United States?”

“No, but it’s on my bucket list.” She laughed and her obsidian eyes danced. “Is this your first visit to our continent, Dr. Stafford?”

“Please, call me Charles. Yes, it is, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Nigeria.”

“We have our problems, but Nigeria also has its own unique beauty both in the villages and in the cities. Are you staying in Lagos?”

As she spoke, Charles admired the slant of her eyes and the tempting pout of her full lips. “Yes, the organization put us up in apartments in Surelere.”  

"Really? That's not far from where I live. Are you satisfied with your accommodations?"

"So far. We only had time to unpack before the car arrived to bring us here."

Charles tore his gaze from her face when Dr. Pategi said, “Doctor Stafford, you will find our nurses to be invaluable to you,” he said with a wide smile. “Because our funding and staffing are limited, Nurse Okoro and Nurse Bankole have often had to handle patient care and perform procedures normally dealt with by physicians. Likewise, our nursing assistants have stepped in to take care of traditional nursing duties. We all pitch in whenever and wherever necessary.”

The way Dr. Pategi suddenly interrupted him, Charles wondered if he’d been ogling her. He gathered his senses and concentrated on her words rather than her face.