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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Company at Vastine's...Welcome, Ross McCoubrey!

Happy Sunday morning, sugars!

Every guest at my place is special, and I always say it. They're all special, though, in their own unique ways. Well, today's guest is sure not an exception. He's not only special because I consider him a wonderful friend and fellow author, he's special also because I had the privilege of reading his very first book, a young adult novel titled One Boy's Shadow.  

If you want to know how impressed I was by the maiden work of this young author, here's a link to my review of this book (under C. Zampa pen name). 


Mr. McCoubrey lives in Margaretsville, Nova Scotia, and he's awfully fascinating and imaginative which is evidenced in his writing.

I could go on all day about this young author but, hey, I can go one better and give you a sneak peek at this haunting, beautiful book, One Boy's Shadow.  

So here goes...enjoy!

* * * * *


We pulled into the parking lot of a small restaurant just past the
post office. The place was called the Black Cherry Barn, and true to its
name, it looked like a barn painted with black cherry paint (complete
with a white outlined long-stemmed cherry on the side wall, looking
like a crime scene in a police photograph). We went in the side door and
headed directly over to the booths at the far side of the eating area. I slid
in next to the wall, and Blake sat next to me, across from our parents.

“This seems like a decent place,” my mother said in her cheery first-thing-in-the-morning-I-wish-I-were-still-in-bed-but-I-am-too-excited-to-
sleep voice.

“The food here is really good. I had three meals here last week,”
Dad told us.

A waitress approached our booth and slid paper placemats with
historical facts on them in front of us, along with four sets of utensils,
each set wrapped in a napkin. She seemed a bit surprised to see
unfamiliar faces and caught me watching her expression closely. She
laughed and said, “Don’t mind me, I’m just not used to seeing faces I
don’t recognize—’specially so early on a Sunday morning. Usually we
get the before-church crowd or the hangover crowd at this hour of the
We all smiled somewhat awkwardly.

“You folks visiting the area?”

“No, actually we’re moving here. I just transferred to the warehouse,”
Dad informed her.

“Oh hey, that’s great. My boyfriend works over there. Hell, half the
town works there.” She chuckled. I couldn’t help but like her instantly.

“My name’s Doris. It’s nice to meet you folks.”

“Thanks. Nice to meet you as well,” my mother replied. “We’re the
Mackenzies. I’m Karen, and this is my husband, Frey. These are our
sons, Blake and Caleb,” Mom said, pointing lightly to each of us as she
said our names.

“Mmmm, mmm.” Doris shook her head from side to side. “There
are going to be some very happy girls in this town when they see you

I blushed, and Blake laughed.

“Can I get you folks anything to drink? Coffee? Tea?”

“Coffee sounds good,” my father answered.

We all agreed, and Doris said, “Four coffees, comin’ up. I’ll be right
back with them and your menus.”

“She seems friendly.” Dad chuckled

Doris returned some time later with a tray of mugs and a pot of hot
coffee. She handed out the menus and proceeded to pour the steaming
beverage into each of our white ironstone mugs.

“I’m sorry I kept you people waiting like that. I hope I haven’t
held you up from anything. I just can’t help but talk whenever I see
somebody I know. And when I see somebody I don’t know, well I’m
likely to never shut up till I do know ’em.”

“It’s no problem at all. We’re actually putting in a little time before
we meet up with the realtor anyway,” Mom said.

“May I ask, what places you folks lookin’ at? I know most of the
people who’ve moved in and out of this town and might be able to give
you background info. And if you don’t believe that, maybe I’ll admit
that I’m just a little bit curious.”

Dad replied, “Well, to tell you the truth, there aren’t that many
places right here in town we really took an interest in, so we’ve mainly
focused on things in the surrounding areas.”

Doris good-naturedly slapped Dad on the shoulder. “I don’t blame
you at all. Everything in town is rather plain, and the taxes are higher
too.” She stood with the pot of coffee in one hand and her other hand
on her hip.

 We were all halfheartedly glancing over our menus. I had
decided before I went inside that if they offered apple pancakes that
I’d be ordering them. Luckily they were listed next to blueberry and
banana as options. I liked blueberries, but bananas were evil. I hadn’t
eaten one since I was nine and took a big crunchy mouthful of one.
That’s right, crunchy. Now we all know bananas shouldn’t be crunchy.
Thankfully, I had the common sense to spit out my mouthful, only to
discover a cluster of black worms. Suffice it to say, bananas and I have
not gotten along since.

“Yeah, so we’ve been looking at places in the county. There’s one
we’re quite taken with that’s just lovely. Frey and I were there Friday,
and we’re taking the boys to see it today. Blake’s actually the one who
spotted the place to begin with.” Mom pointed to Blake as she said this,
in case Doris had forgotten which one of us he was.

“Whereabouts is it?”

 “It’s at the end of Wakefield Road,” Blake answered.

Doris’s expression changed, and she seemed to pale somewhat. “You
don’t mean the old farmhouse at the very end, do you?”

Blake gave her a quizzical look. “Yeah. That’s the one. Anything we
should know about it?”

“Umm … well … no, not really. It’s just, well, no one’s lived there
in a long while.” Doris put the pot of coffee down on the table and took
out her pad and pen. “So, what’ll you folks have this morning?”

An hour or so later, when we were back at the motel, I got the
chance to ask Blake something I hadn’t wanted to bring up in my
parents’ presence.

“Okay, so what the hell happened at breakfast? Whattaya make of
Doris’s reaction?”

“Hard to say. Maybe it was her dream home or something.”

“I dunno. Seemed like something more than that.”

“Think about it, though. She said she didn’t even know the place
was up for sale, which I betcha anything means that she was saving up
and hoping to buy it herself someday. You heard her say how all the
places in town are so boring and the taxes are high. Plus, she’s got a
boyfriend—they probably live together, and I bet they’ve driven out on
weekends and looked at the place together and made plans for it in their
heads and everything.”

I nodded. “That makes sense.” I thought about it for a minute. “Shit,
we probably ruined her day.”

“It’s not like it was intentional.”

“True enough.” I took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Still, would
be cool if there was something really interesting about the place.”

“Don’t worry, I’m sure there will be.”

* * * * *

Thank you for sharing this glimpse into One Boy's Shadow, Ross. Like I said, it's a wonderful story. And it haunted me for quite some time after I read it. 

Oh! And Ross is has another novel in progress, and that makes me very happy! I'm really looking forward to more work from him. Psst....he is a young author to watch for. Take my word for it.

Here's some info on Mr. McCoubrey, buy links and how to connect with him.


Hook up with him!

Thanks, Ross, for sitting a spell with me! 


Friday, May 30, 2014

Company at Vastine's...Welcome, Connie Wood!

Happy Saturday morning, darlings! I was out of town—in beautiful, magical San Antonio—last weekend. I had a blast, a very relaxing, wonderful time there. But I sure did miss hanging out with friends here on the blog. 

Today a dear friend is visiting. She’s one of the most kind, genuine women I know. I tried to think just how I met her and I don’t really know because, to tell the truth, I feel like I’ve known her…well…always. To show you the power of friendship—yes, even internet—across the miles, she lives in New South Wales. But, sugars, she’s virtually close by with a kind word, a cheering word, a word of support, no matter the time zone differences. 

And, now, dolls, that I’ve embarrassed her, let me introduce you to a lovely woman and author, Connie Wood. 

And…psst…Connie just happens to be a talented author, so I sneaked in the titles of her books at the end of her visit and the buy links! 

So, good morning, Ms. Connie! The house is yours!

* * * *

Perfect Imperfections……

I heard a song yesterday, I’m not exactly sure of its title, but I will take a guess at Perfect Imperfections. It was such a beautiful song and as a people watcher and an author it really appealed to me on a very base level. 

So many books recently, hell, so many movies and ads and all popular media are portraying perfect looking people. Perfect stereotypes of both men and women and if they aren’t already perfect in the beginning then they go through a transformation and end up that way.
I love a good Cinderella story, a rags-to-riches, the ordinary girl/guy trumps them at the end kind of love story. I’m a sucker to see the underdog get what they truly deserve when the final chapter finally says happy ever after.

But in a lot of books I’ve been reading the happy ever after comes at the price of a total transformation of the hero or heroine. You know the story (and it’s one I must admit I love too) the sexy handsome hero overlooks the women who is perfect for him as she lingers close by, concealed day-by-day in her drab attire, glasses and harshly pulled back hair. Slowly he starts to notice all her charms and appeals and thus begins her transformation from the ‘ugly’ duckling to the beautiful swan. I’d love to see the hero loving the ‘perfect imperfections’. I’d love to see him fall in love with the duckling and for her to physically stay that way. I’d love to see her physically exactly the same at the end of the book as she was at the start, with the only difference…the major difference, is that the hero sees who she really is and they love each other all the way to their own happy ever after.

I’m writing a book at the moment where the heroine is a curvy, slightly drab, glasses wearing secretary and the hero is going to fall head over heels. And guess what? By the end of the book her physical appearance is going to be exactly the same. And he is going to love her just as much.
I have to admit, I’m also a sucker for the ‘perfect imperfections’ of a leading man. I can certainly appreciate a good looking, ‘typically’ handsome man, but give me an ‘imperfection’, something to latch onto. Something unconventional. We’ve all seen someone who isn’t ‘typically’ handsome, but there’s just something about them that literally oozes sexiness and you almost swoon.

I love the ‘perfect imperfections’ both physically and emotionally. There aren’t enough contradictions, the complexities of human nature. I know I’m complex enough to love you with all my heart, but at this very moment hate that you broke my heart and want to tear your head off. It doesn’t mean that I won’t be back to loving you again soon. It kind of sounds a little mentally unbalanced when I actually write it down, but I bet everyone’s felt it.

It’s the contradictions, the ‘perfect imperfections’ that makes life and books interesting. It’s the emotional and spiritual transformations that are most important in creating who we are. It’s embracing those imperfections and working with them, its noticing them in others and finally seeing them within ourselves that allows us to embrace and accept them. And once we finally accept them then love and our own happy ever after finally comes.

A huge thank you to the wonderful, and multi-talented Vastine for allowing me to guest on her blog today. It’s been a real honour and thank you to those who took the time to read it.
* * * *

Connie, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts! And I agree with you, 100%. It’s the flaws, the differences, that make us who we are. If only more folks grasped that and embraced their uniqueness. And I love, love, love the sound of your WIP! A real girl in a real world and a real man who sees the beauty in her. Cannot wait for this! Please keep us informed!

And, darlings, here are some of Ms. Wood’s titles!
“The Fallen Fae”

“Dark Moon”

“The Veteran”

“Dark Ice”

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Company at Vastine's...Welcome, Charlie Cochet!

Greetings, darlings!

Today I'm sharing the house with on of my favorite authors and a lovely friend, Charlie Cochet. 

Ms. Cochet first caught my attention with her fabulous writing in historical 
novels. She's got a wonderful vintage voice and delivers delicious historical fiction served up with all the flare and flavor of days gone by. But...but...she's proven now that she's awfully gifted in the contemporary romance fiction game, too. And...she's sharing an excerpt today from her upcoming release, Hell and High Water: The Thirds Series, Book One.

So....let me step aside and make room for Ms. Cochet! She's talking about writing a series. And, speaking of which, she asks a question in her post, and I want to hear your answers! In fact, there's a chance to win a $5.00 Amazon gift card for sharing your thoughts on her query.

* * * * * * * *

Hello all! I want to give a big thank you to the fabulous Vastine for hosting me. This year, I tackled my first true series. I know some of you are thinking, “Wait, but you’ve got a bunch of series.” Yes, I do, but the majority of those contain stories which are stand alone and in some cases, the MC’s are a different couple from that world. They’ve also been released across several years.

Between July and the new year, my new contemporary/law enforcement-shifter series called the THIRDS will be unleashed upon the world. It’s a four book series with one continuing storyline plus a standalone storyline for each book. It also features the same couple through all four books with secondary characters who will be getting their own spin-off books in the same THIRDS world.

This series has pretty much taken over my life for more than a year now. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every moment and I’m so excited to be sharing it with readers, but what’s made writing this series so much more daunting than writing my other series? Well, by the time I submit the fourth book, the first hasn’t even been released yet, so you have that moment of panic where you hope folks like the first book because there’s a whole bunch more after that! I’ve loved writing these guys, so I hope readers will enjoy reading about them just as much. 

What I’ve found in writing a series like this is how the flow is easier to maintain because everything is fresh in my head. Also if I add something in a later book or change a plot point, I can go back to the previous books through editing and change things, something you can’t really do once the books are out there. I’ve found it’s easier editing a series together than months or even years apart.

The challenging part is upping the stakes with each book. Throughout the first four THIRDS books, we get a developing relationship between Dex and Sloane which continues to grow just like any real life relationship. Except with shifters. And explosions. Oh and cheesy eighties music.

With each book, not only does their relationship get tested but it evolves. The dangers they face on the job, their cases, their own team dynamics, and the antagonists have to keep building, getting better and more treacherous otherwise you get one of those generic cop shows. You have to keep readers coming back for more. I’d like to think I’ve achieved that with this series. 
What keeps you coming back to a favorite series?

Hell & High Water Blurb

When homicide detective Dexter J. Daley’s testimony helps send his partner away for murder, the consequences—and the media frenzy—aren’t far behind. He soon finds himself sans boyfriend, sans friends, and, after an unpleasant encounter in a parking garage after the trial, he’s lucky he doesn’t find himself sans teeth. Dex fears he’ll get transferred from the Human Police Force’s Sixth Precinct, or worse, get dismissed. Instead, his adoptive father—a sergeant at the Therian-Human Intelligence Recon Defense Squadron otherwise known as the THIRDS—pulls a few strings, and Dex gets recruited as a Defense Agent. 

Dex is determined to get his life back on track and eager to get started in his new job. But his first meeting with Team Leader Sloane Brodie, who also happens to be his new jaguar Therian partner, turns disastrous. When the team is called to investigate the murders of three HumaniTherian activists, it soon becomes clear to Dex that getting his partner and the rest of the tightknit team to accept him will be a lot harder than catching the killer—and every bit as dangerous.

For more information on the THIRDS series, visit: www.charliecochet.com

Sneak Peek Excerpt

Sloane waited, his jaw clenched as Dex hurried over. As soon as they were outside the kitchen, Sloane turned to Dex in disbelief. “We’re in the middle of a case, and you’re flirting?”

“I wasn’t flirting, I was eating. I’m starving. Which is your fault.”

“My fault?” Clearly he’d had a momentary lapse of judgment by thinking the two of them could get along. The urge to punch the guy was steadily rising. “How is this my fault?”

“You gave my Cheesy Doodles away!” 

“Jesus Christ, again with that?” Sloane tried to summon patience, but instead he kept seeing Dex’s stupid tongue poking out to lick his bottom lip. He pushed that thought away, grabbed Dex’s arm and hauled him toward the exit. “That back there had nothing to do with food, unless we count you being a part of the menu. The guy was two seconds away from pouncing on you.”

“What? No way. We were talking about chocolate and café con leche.”

Sloane stopped in his tracks. “You’re not serious are you? You can’t be that oblivious.”

“To what?” Dex’s wide eyes told Sloane he most probably was. How could a guy like Dex be so clueless? The way Hudson kept trying to have eye sex with him, the Therian in the kitchen undressing him with his eyes? Hell, Sloane had even caught Letty eyeing Dex’s ass on more than one occasion. Yet Dex never seemed to notice.

“To the fact that he wasn’t talking about drinks, you idiot. He wanted you to be the leche in his café.”

Dex frowned when it dawned on him. “Ohhh. I misread that.”

“I don’t….” Sloane shook his head. He didn’t even have words. “Get in the damn truck before I shoot you.” He pushed Dex from behind, guiding him into the lobby, grunting every time Dex paused to talk at him over his shoulder.

“You know, you should try yoga. Find a way to channel all that aggression.”

Sloane gave him another push. “I have found a way. It’s called shoving my foot up your ass.”

“That doesn’t sound very relaxing.”

Push. “I’m sure I’ll feel plenty relaxed afterward.”

“You got a problem.” Dex grimaced at him, and Sloane gave another push to get him moving again.

“Yeah and I’m looking right at it.” This situation was a heart attack waiting to happen. He just knew it. The stress of the job, now this. Yep, he was going to keel over. He could see the writing on his tombstone now: Sloane Brodie departed this world at age 37 due to massive coronary trauma as a result of idiot partner Dexter J. Daley.

“Ouch, man. That’s harsh.”

Sloane had just about reached the front door when Calvin’s voice came over his earpiece.

“Sloane, we got a problem.”

“What is it?”

“Press is outside.”

“Shit.” Sloane crept up to the large glass front, grateful for the wall-to-ceiling venetian blinds. Careful not to jostle the thin wooden slats, he peeked outside. Damn it, there were at least three news vans that he could see. He pulled back and tapped his earpiece. “What about Cael and Rosa?”

Rosa’s concerned voice came over his earpiece. “We’re in the truck. We didn’t see you guys so figured you’d already headed out.”

Sloane cast Dex an accusing glare. “We got momentarily held up. Dex had to take a shit.”

Dex’s jaw dropped. He made to touch his earpiece when Sloane caught his wrist and twisted his arm behind him, making him double over.

“Ow, ow, ow,” Dex moaned, glaring up at him.

“Thank you for the disturbing visual,” Rosa grunted. “What now?”

“We’re going out the back. Have the BearCat ready to go as soon as we get there.” He released Dex’s arm, pulled him up and grinned at the sour expression on Dex’s face.

“That was not cool, man.”

“Maybe next time you’ll think twice about wandering off. Now let’s go.”

They rushed through the lobby and reception area to the double doors on the right. Behind him, Dex mimicked him, lowering his voice as he repeated Sloane’s words, adding an unintelligible rambling of grunts and growls at the end.

“There’s something seriously wrong with you.” Sloane followed the hallway he’d come in through earlier to the pantry and out into the hall leading to the loading dock.

“Must be the company I’ve been keeping,” Dex quipped. Sloane turned and grabbed Dex by the shoulders.

“Okay, shut up for a minute. Let’s pretend you’re a normal agent for a sec, and that you weren’t sent to drive me out of my freaking mind. Can you do that?”

Dex pursed his lips. “I’ll have to reach really deep for that one, but I think I can manage.”

“Good. Soon as we get out there, make a beeline for the truck, and try not to shoot anyone.”

“No promises,” Dex muttered.

About the author

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: http://www.charliecochet.com
Email: charlie@charliecochet.com
Twitter: @charliecochet

 * * * * * * * * * *
Charlie, the excerpt was perfect! I love these guys, and they promise to be delightful and sexy! Congrats on the upcoming release, by the way!
Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts on the writing of a series, and for the yummy tease!
So you guys out there. I'd love to hear your answers to her question: What brings YOU back to a series? Interesting question, and I'd love to hear if your thoughts are the same as mine!
 For every answer, there will be a chance to win a $5.00 Amazon gift card! C'mon. What makes you return to a series?