Thursday, August 29, 2013

Creatus, a new release from Carmen DeSousa

In every myth there is a modicum of truth…
The reason we believe in Fairy Tales—and Monsters.

As the sun’s rays peeked above the horizon, lighting the abyss below her, she inhaled a deep breath, closed her eyes, and jumped. She didn’t scream; she didn’t look down. As much as she hated her life, she hoped it wouldn’t end this way. She’d really like to see him one more time.

Her life didn’t flash before her eyes as she’d always heard. Just an image of her mother covered in blood and her Dark Angel telling her he was sorry.

Creatus, by best-selling author Carmen DeSousa, is a new romantic-suspense novel with a supernatural edge that answers the myths and fairy tales you’ve heard about preternatural sentient beings.

Prepare yourself to believe.

Download Creatus:

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Failure of Kindness

A couple of weeks ago, I commented on the commencement address given by George Saunders.  The title of my post was "Kindness."  It related to the speech in which Mr. Saunders spoke about how success could be measured by the amount of kindness one was able to sow in a lifetime.  Okay, that is a severe over-simplification, but that's my view.

He also mentioned something about a "failure of kindness."  That was a time when he could have spoken up for another human being but didn't.  It wasn't that he had been unkind, he'd just been somewhat apathetic.

It reminded me of one of my own failures of kindness.  A very simple episode that has stuck with me through the years.

It was many, many years ago when I was eighteen years old and living with my new husband in a very large city in a northern state.  It was the first time I'd ever been away from my Texas home, and it was the first day that I was on my own after dropping new hubby at his new job.

On the way home, at six o'clock in the morning, I stopped at a convenience store for a money order and had just climbed back into the car after completing my purchase.  Putting the car into reverse, I backed carefully out of the space and headed to the exit to get on the super-busy highway.

From the corner of my eye, I spied a tall, dark-haired man running toward me, waving his arms and yelling.

Alarmed, I wanted to dart out onto the highway, but there was too much traffic.  I was trapped.

And then he was there, right beside my car, grinning from ear to ear.  He was wearing what appeared to be a mechanic's overall, so in the back of my mind, I wondered if he'd seen something wrong with my car.

I rolled my window down about an inch.  I knew better than to roll it down all the way.

"Yes?" My voice trembled.  I must have looked at him the way a deer in the middle of the road looks at an approaching 18-wheeler.

He was still grinning.  And he was obviously waiting for me to roll the window down a little further. "I saw your Texas plates," he said cheerfully. He bobbed forward in sort of a half-bow.  I think he was trying to put me at ease, but I was too young and too stunned to reciprocate.  I just sat there.

He began to back away.  Up close, he could probably see that I was terrified.

Nevertheless, even as it was happening, I was already feeling a measure of regret at not being able to roll that window down and shake his hand.

As he continued to back away, he called out, "I just wanted to say howdy . . . I was tickled to see someone from home, that's all."

There was no way he could've known that I'd been physically robbed at my place of employment only a few months earlier.  And I'm not even sure if that's what made me so cautious; all I know is that by the time I got up my nerve to believe what he was saying, he was already back inside his work truck, driving away.

I've never forgotten that thirty-second encounter.  I felt like I let him down -- as a fellow Texan -- by my inability to recognize simple human kindness.

Perhaps he, or someone he knows, will read this and recognize himself.  Then he would know "the rest of the story."  Wouldn't that be something?

Afterthought:  Remember, life is fragile, treat it with care (All For Love, 5 Prince Publishing).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Indiscretion a brand new novel by Tonya Lampley

Tonya Lampley

Available from 5 Prince Publishing
Genre: Fiction/ African American/ Contemporary Woman
Release Date: August 15, 2013
Digital ISBN 13:978-1-939217-80-6  ISBN 10: 1-939217-80-6
Print ISBN 13:978-1-939217-79-0  ISBN 10: 1-939217-79-2

One careless night and a man’s life is changed forever.
Damon Harris wants a better life than the one he’s currently living. He has a penchant for trouble and a trail of mistakes behind him, but inside he can feel a greater call urging him on to the man he knows he can become. He marries the ideal woman in hopes it might settle him down. But change is hard. Stuck in a self-created prison where the only warden is himself, he’ll do just about anything to break free.

A few drinks, a beautiful girl…was it worth it?

Tonya Lampley’s first novel was titled A Taste of Love and was a National Indie Excellence Book Awards finalist. She lives in Ohio with her husband and is currently working on her next book. For more information about Tonya, please visit her on the web at

twitter: @TonyaLampley
FB: Tonya Lampley, Author

Indiscretion Excerpt:
Damon sat in a red-velvet bishop’s chair in one of the back rooms of St. Augustine’s Cathedral in downtown Chicago. The 100 year-old church’s renowned stained glass window, featuring the Messiah in an array of colors, hung high above him and gently filtered the October sunlight. His eyes rested on the tiny dust particles floating in the air, a useless attempt to distract him from his thoughts.
Three rapid taps on the heavy mahogany door broke through the silence and jarred him from contemplation.
“You ready?” a deep voice asked. Damon recognized the voice of Kurt, who would be his brother-in-law in a matter of minutes. A pretty stand-up guy, in Damon’s opinion. Looked nothing like his sisters, and wasn’t all that close to them, but he had stepped in per Carmen’s request, to fill the role of best man when Damon argued with the original one—his life-long friend Craig. Tempers flared when Craig told Damon he was making the biggest mistake of his life. The conversation ended with Craig refusing to be a part of the wedding. They had since made up, but Craig stood by his original protest. Kurt being in the wedding made Carmen happier, anyway, Damon mused.
Someone knocked again.
“I’ll be there in a minute.” Damon responded. He walked over to the full-length mirror to give himself a once over. The black tuxedo that Carmen picked out hugged the contours of his svelte body. The white shirt gleamed against his smooth ebony skin. He noticed his white bow tie was crooked and slowly straightened it. His palms were moist as he ran them down the silk stripe of his pants trying to remove the uncomfortable feeling.
He rubbed his freshly cut hair, checked his nose and the corners of his mouth. In a few moments, he would enter the sanctuary. He brought Carmen’s image to mind. Good. Sweet. Settled. She possessed an aura of comfort—like baked bread or warm milk. The kind of woman that could hopefully bring him the peace he had been searching for.
Kurt pummeled the door this time. “Everyone is waiting. Carmen’s starting to get nervous. You were supposed to be out here a half hour ago.”
Damon looked down at his shoes, patent leather, polished to a spit shine. Was he doing the right thing? He cared deeply for Carmen, but was it love?
What he wanted was to feel normal, to be satisfied with his life. The ghost of his past emerged again, as it often did, and reminded him that he had made a mess of things—two children by two different women, and a short stint in jail. The reminder rode in on a tide of regret.
He heard someone trying to turn the worn iron doorknob, but he had locked it. It wiggled back and forth desperately and he could hear mumbling on the other side. The rhythm of his breath sped up and a wave of warmth rose up from his feet. He thought of Rachel, the mother of his second son, and the words that spewed from her perfect mouth three years ago when she broke up with him—I can’t be with someone who’s content to do nothing with their life. And when she met Evan Kilgore, M.D. at the hospital where she was taken the night she broke her foot playing softball, she banished Damon to the “friend zone.” He accepted his punishment; anything to still be a part of her life. He never thought she would marry him. He never forgave himself for losing her and wasn’t about to make the same bet and lose twice. He had to marry Carmen. If he didn’t, he might lose her too.
“Go get the key.” He heard Kurt say to someone on the other side of the door, along with another knock.
It was time. Damon stood silent in the room. He expanded his chest and forced air deep into his lungs, but it still felt like he was suffocating. His hands registered a slight tremor and as he straightened his tie a second time, he felt a bead of sweat trickle down his temple. He grabbed the teal handkerchief out of his pocket and blotted it. His legs felt heavy, like someone cemented them to the floor. Why did doing the right thing feel so uncertain? He closed his eyes and tried to steady his breathing. In a few minutes, it would be over. He willed his legs to start moving. Kurt, and Carmen’s sister, Cathy, lunged forward into the room as he opened the door.
The church’s pot-bellied groundskeeper walked up behind them carrying a large metal ring, holding several antique keys. He rubbed his shiny dark beard. “Ev-ry-thin’okay?” he asked with his bushy eyebrows raised.
“We got it, sir. Thanks.” Kurt said to the man who looked around the room, then shrugged before walking away. Kurt turned his attention to Damon. “The wedding planner is going nuts! We thought something had happened to you.”
Cathy huffed, “No we didn’t.” She squinted at Damon. “Why don’t you just admit it and save us all a lot of trouble.”
He looked right through Cathy. “I’m good, man. I just needed a minute, that’s all.” Damon brushed past Cathy, dressed in a silly Cinderella-looking, teal, taffeta dress, and lightly grazed her gloved arm. She gritted her teeth as she placed her hand into the center of his back and shoved him forward. He stumbled three un-willful steps at the forceful blow before he managed to get control of his feet. He closed his eyes and drew in a slow deep breath, taking a moment to gather himself—to deny himself the delightful thought of shoving her back—his mother had raised him better than that. He stretched out his arms and adjusted his shirtsleeves, checking his cuff links. Unfortunately, she was part of the deal.
He continued down the hall and opened the double doors to the sanctuary, where 200 guests sat in pews adorned with teal bows, and music from the harp player greeted him. Damon and Carmen argued for two days over the harp player—a total waste of money in his opinion, as was all of it—the courthouse would have suited him just fine. He walked past the harp player strumming like a fool, down the red aisle runner and took his place at the altar in front of the robed Reverend Mallory and the barrage of burning candles.
“Are you ready, Son?” Reverend Mallory was a large man, his voice even louder. The question he asked reverberated through the church and came to rest in Damon’s ears.
Damon gave a nod. Reverend Mallory opened his Bible and the wedding planner raised her bony arm toward the back of the church, cuing her assistant to start the music. Time seemed to suspend as the remaining eight members of the bridal party entered the sanctuary, waltzing to Carmen’s careful selection of Luther Vandross’s Here and Now, and took their places at the front of the church. Damon was avoiding Cathy’s glare when the collective sound of 200 people standing grabbed his attention. When he looked up, Carmen stood in the doorway, engulfed in a sea of white. Tulle cascaded all around her. She made eye contact with Damon almost immediately and smiled. He wasn’t sure what he was feeling, but he knew her well enough to read the look on her face—that grin and the beam in her eye spoke of her happiness. And when he saw how happy she was, despite everything, he was happy for her. Her hand reached out for his and she took her place beside him.
Reverend Mallory loudly cleared his throat, and began the vows.   Carmen recited hers first. Damon silenced the voice inside his head that hinted at the fact, he might not be sure of this marriage. But there were so many people. So much money spent. Too much to lose not to get married.
“Damon, do you take Carmen to be your lawful wedded wife? Do you promise to love and cherish her, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her for so long as you both shall live?
"I do." Damon adjusted his tie, secretly loosening it. The promises felt really big. He had a long history of preserving his own self-interests. He wanted that to be behind him now. He accepted the ring from Kurt and placed it on Carmen’s finger.
“Do you together promise, in the presence of your friends and family, that you will at all times, and in all circumstances, conduct yourselves toward one another as husband and wife?”
“We do.” He muttered as he searched his heart for certainty. Carmen’s voice broke through his with full conviction.
Reverend Mallory smiled. “You may now kiss your bride.”
Damon lifted Carmen’s veil and looked into her eyes. He needed her. He needed her in order to become the man he wanted to be. She would settle him into a normal life, where he would go to work at his job as a car salesman, come home and eat dinner with her, and go to the grocery store on the weekend. Normal. He grabbed her around the waist and kissed her as a symbol to everyone, and to himself, that this was his new life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Err on the side of kindness.  That's the message I got from George Saunders' wonderful commencement speech at Syracuse University.  Such a simple messsage.  Such a profound message.

So why is it so hard to practice?

When I started teaching elementary school many, many years ago, I did all the required course work, I did my student teaching, then I got my first job in a parochial school.  And yet, it was all wrong.

It was all about discipline, or rather, test scores and discipline.  I'd thought there would be more.  So at the end of the year, I changed and went to work in the public shool system.

My first prinicipal was a widely feared straight as an arrow disciplinarian who terrified me as thoroughly as if I were one of the children being called on the carpet.  She was ramrod straight, with steel gray hair and an icy stare that made the grungiest gangsta wannabes tremble.

I was terrified.

But right away, she called me in her office and wished me luck.  Then she said something to the effect of "The only piece of advice I am going to give you, other than what's written in the teacher's handbook, is this: always err on the side of the child."  Such simple advice.  So profound.

And I did.  I did exactly what she said for over a dozen years.

When I stopped doing that, I stopped teaching.

I know it isn't exactly the same thing, but I think it's very close.  It could also be thought of as erring on the side of respect.  I believe those two things are sorely lacking in today's world, after all, respect and kindness go hand in hand.

Thanks for stopping by today.  If you're interested, check out the wonderful commencement speech here  in case you haven't had a chance.

Afterthought:  Next time, I will tell you about my "failure of kindness," another part of Mr. Saunders' speech.  Oh, there has been more than one, for certain.  But this one particular instance stuck in my mind.

But that's for next time.  Until then, remember, life is fragile, treat it with care (All For Love quote, 5 Prince Publishing).

Monday, August 12, 2013

TV Series Reviews - Apparently, I Like Gritty

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Now for today's me pull a rabbit out of my hat!  Where'd that come from??? Was it Bullwinkle?  Oh never mind, read on McDuff . . .

Under the Dome
Falling Skies   
The Walking Dead
Hell on Wheels

Dang! Am I becoming a couch 'tater or what?

Okay, okay, I can't help it, let me just start off by saying that I consistently DVR the TV series listed above (along with NCIS and Blue Bloods) and my hubby and I love to sit and critique.  I especially love it when he says, "I can't believe they wrote that.  You would never write something so illogical!"  Yep.  And here I sit blogging while those writers are viewed by kookookazillions every week.  Hmm, let's think about this . . .

I remember Stephen King saying (yes, I actually got to see him speak at George Mason University a couple years ago thanks to a cuz who lives nearby -- and to whom I shall remain forever grateful) that his answer to Writer's Corner--my term for that awful spot you find yourself in at least once in every manuscript--you know, you write yourself into a corner and can't find a way out--is to ask THE QUESTION, "What's the worst that could happen?"  And when he figures out the answer, he continues with the story, or rather, it continues with him.

So, I've been trying to do that more, ask THE QUESTION.  And as I complete my armchair critiques of my fave TV shows, I tend to wonder if they sometimes ask the same question but forget to make sure it MAKES SENSE!  Okay, Under the Dome I'd already read so I find myself saying things like, "I don't remember that," or "who is this person?!"  In other words, I'm a bit confused and sort of wish I hadn't read it first.  But then, a few days back, I read an interview where Mr. King said not to compare the book and the TV series because there would be necessary changes and he was onboard with them.  Well that makes it all okay.  Seriously.  As long as he's okay with the changes, I can turn off my internal critic.  I think.

Now, Falling Skies is a different animal.  I love the skitters and the whole skitters storyline.  I adore the lead characters -- I don't like this love/hate relationship with Pope.  It just isn't realistic, especially the one on one fight in the forest right after the plane crash.  Puhleeese!  How silly.  C'mon writers, do better.  I know you can.

The Walking Dead.  Yep.  Love it.  Don't love the gore.  I've seen enough zombies bashed in the head that I never need to see that again.  Ever.  Nothing new.  And no, that doesn't mean I need the gore factor amped up.  I need the writing amped up.  Don't get sloppy now.  What I do love in the storyline is how the new world is affecting Carl, the kid.  Keep that going--what's all this done to him?  We see that he can kill without blinking an eye . . . what does that mean?  BTW, I noticed on Falling Skies that the youngest member of that family is beginning to exhibit that same willing-to-kill trait.  Just thought I'd throw that in there.

Okay, now for Hell on Wheels, it has such awesome characters, and such a cool, gritty storyline, that I'm really looking forward to its return from hiatus TODAY!  That's right, Season 3 starts tonight!  I've got my DVR locked and loaded (does that even make sense?) but the series has been very uneven so far, as if the writer's weren't sure where the show was actually going.  So, keeping Lost in mind (eek), I'm still holding out hope that they get Hell on Wheels back on track (pun most definitely intended), but if not, at least we can rest assured that some of it was based on history.

Afterthought: What's your favorite show and what am I missing--if anything--by avoiding Breaking Bad?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Saint John? Well, Almost!

Just a little excerpt to pass the time...and don't forget to scroll down and enter the Rafflecopter to win books, gift cards, and more!

A huge dog, a spirit, and her first crush. Between the three of them, can they save Beth from the killer? 

Barnes & Noble:
 Publisher: 5 Prince Publishing

Chapter Two
©Ann Swann      

Standing in the patch of sunlight, the blond giant smiled crookedly and Beth knew it was John.  She rushed forward to embrace him.  He was shirtless, wearing nothing but a pair of old cutoffs, his bronze skin glistening with water from the creek.  His hair was long, tied back in a ponytail with a knotted length of twine.  He was an eighteen-year-old demigod stumbling around the forest in search of his subjects.
            He opened his arms at her approach.  “Beth.”  His voice was just as she remembered.  She melted into the shelter of his embrace.  Her damp, sun-warmed skin met his and she sighed.  She was wearing a red bikini top and her own stringy-hemmed cutoffs.
            Slowly, she raised her face.  The top of her head barely grazed his shoulder.  She had to stand on her tip-toes even though he was leaning down—then their lips met, and the brilliant rays of sunlight falling through the pines illuminated his face like that of a saint in a stained-glass window.  “Saint John,” she laughed. 
            He laughed with her.
            Beth shook her head to clear the memories.  Actually, it wasn’t a memory so much as it was an embellished wish.  John Stockton was not a figment of her imagination, nor was he a dream-guy.  He was a real memory, but it was a childhood memory.  A teenage dream.  He had been her first crush. 
            They’d met one summer at Stutter Creek when she and her dad had made their annual vacation trip to their cabin in the mountains.  But that was so long ago—the only reason he kept invading her thoughts now was because she’d recently lost her dad.  Coming on the heels of her painful divorce from the second love of her life, it had been doubly hard.  She had no one to lean on. 
            Revisiting her memories of John, okay embellishing her memories of the boy her Dad had jokingly called Big John because of his height, was just another way of coping with the sudden silence that now enveloped her.  Beth knew she’d probably never see John again.  Except in her dreams.
            She lay back in the pillows and drifted away.  The over-the-counter sleep aid was beginning to help.  This time, her thoughts became a late summer picnic.  A soft green park shaded by mature pre-autumn maple trees; a clear pond ringed with soldiers of pampas grass swaying in the breeze; fish jumping, birds flitting from tree to tree; her old crazy quilt spread with a mini-feast of sandwiches, chips, and soft drinks; and to top it all off, fat slices of gooey chocolate cake peeking through the transparent plastic lids of Rubbermaid keepers.
            In the dream, the sky was clear but for a thin scarf of cirrus clouds draped across the horizon.  It was a typical West Texas summer’s eve.  Beth felt so happy watching Sam and her father playing Frisbee near the water.  Sam, her handsome husband, strong and lithe in his khaki shorts, and her dad, boyish as ever in his faded jeans and New Balance running shoes, were playing keep-away from her darling Abby who was dashing back and forth between them.  She was so adorable, twirling and dancing, trying to steal the Frisbee along with a bit of attention, her blonde curls and stocky little-girl body clad in pink Osh-kosh overalls and flowery bucket hat.
            Sitting on the sidelines, enjoying the air as well as the view, Beth closed her eyes and turned her face up to the westering sun, eager to let the rays coat her skin in their warm liquid silk.  What a fantastic day.  Her family, her life, everything was perfect.  All that was missing was that old song about a wonderful world . . .
            Then a long black shadow fell across her face blotting out the sun.  

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