Monday, December 31, 2012

Wine Distaste - Hidden Under Her Heart (A Story of Abortion and Courage) Chapter 3 - Scene 3

Lucas looked after Maryanne. She had been laughing and giggling during the glass work, and now she stood in front of the winery with her arms crossed.
He walked to her side. “You okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be? Thanks, that was fun.”
“You seem upset. Anything I did?”
“Oh, no. Some thoughts crossed my mind and made me sad, nothing about you.” Her voice was strained but she forced a tiny smile.
He took her hand. It was so small and delicate. “Stick with me and I won’t let sad thoughts near you.”
“Promise?” She pulled him toward the tasting room. “Let’s try some wine.”
“Aren’t you driving?” Lucas stopped at the entrance.
“A little wine isn’t going to do any harm.”
“The road’s narrow and winds around. There’s lots of traffic.”
Her frown pushed her eyebrows together, and she pulled out of his grasp. “Are you saying I can’t drink when you’re around?”
“At least let me drive.” He stuck his hands in his pockets. “I’ll stay out here.”
She stepped through the door without answering. A cold wave swept his chest. He could never figure out women. Hot, cold. Flirty, indifferent. Giddy one moment, then moody and spitting like a hellcat.
Twenty minutes later, Maryanne emerged from the tasting room carrying a bottle of wine. She popped a chocolate into her mouth and smiled as if pleased with herself.
“I would invite you back to my place,” she said in a teasing voice. “But I think I’m going to have to drink this alone.”
“I’m sorry I said anything.” Lucas held the car door for her, but she walked to the passenger side.
“Go ahead. I knew you wanted to drive it.”
He hesitated. A no win situation. Take the wheel and admit he thought her a drunk. Back off and risk an accident. His friends back home had always appreciated him for being the designated driver.
She beeped the horn. “What are you waiting for?”
He slid into the driver’s seat. “Talk to me. What are you thinking?”
Her breath had a fruity bouquet, sweet. Perhaps she really had had only a taste. She tickled his shoulder. “That you owe me a kiss.”
“You’re not mad? Because I was way over the line. It’s not you. My mother’s an alcoholic and I’m used to fighting her for the keys. I’m usually not—”
Her lips, soft like rose petals, pressed briefly over his mouth. His heart skipped with an electric sizzle. He’d expected her to be greedy and sloppy, but she kept her mouth closed, inhaling through her nose. He caressed her cheek, her complexion like porcelain, so perfect, with a sprinkling of pinpoint freckles. And when she opened her eyes and gazed into his, he felt light, as if he’d been levitated, hypnotized, enchanted. He traced her cheekbone to the back of her jaw, letting his finger linger on the soft skin of her neck around her pulse point.
He opened his lips to give her a real kiss, felt her gasp and tremble at his approach. Lightly gliding over and around her tongue, he explored the silky parting between her lips and teeth, teasing the tip of her tongue, encouraging her to fully draw him in.
She moaned, and her fingers slid underneath his shirt, kindling a flame in his groin. Their lips still locked passionately, he struggled for breath. He couldn’t allow this to continue, couldn’t break her chastity vow. And he definitely couldn’t fall in love, not yet. Not until he’d won Olympic gold.
Abruptly, he pulled away and latched onto the steering wheel as if it were a life preserver.

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Ebook Available At: Barnes & Noble (Nook)Amazon (Kindle) [USIndiaUKDEFRESITCanadaBrazilJapan], SmashwordsKoboBooks
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Sunday, December 30, 2012

#AuthorInterview Annamaria Bazzi writer of paranormal fantasy

Today, I'm happy to introduce Annamaria Bazzi, a fellow author who I've had the pleasure of receiving critiques from. Annamaria has just published her first short story, A Simple Matter of Justice.

Describe your childhood. What were some of your favorite activities? Games?
My childhood was an adventure that began when my father kidnapped us and took his three children, my brother, sister and me, to Italy. I met strangers that soon became my loved family, you know, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and many cousins. I had two sides to my personality, the creative kid that made up fantasy games to play with cousins, and the tomboy who could outrun any of my brother’s friends, he’s two years older than me.
It was in Italy that the passion for writing sprouted, but because I was an excellent runner, one my father and PE teacher recognized, I was kept after school to train in the high jump and sprint. I’ve never been a long distance runner. Unfortunately, for my career in sports, my mother was able to get her hand on her children and without a passport or permission from my father, kidnapped us back to the United States. Once back, my mother forced me into the mold of a young woman through ballet and piano lessons. It wasn’t until high school that I found a teacher, Mrs. Allen, who recognized my talent for telling stories and creating characters.
Goodness, what  drama you endured as a child. At least you got to grow up in two different cultures. Did you dream of being a writer or something else?
I started writing in secret at the age of eight, writing little stories I hid in my drawer. They were for my eyes only. It wasn’t until high school that I started to write for others to read, and it all began because of one teacher who recognized some hidden talent I had a hard time seeing. After that, though, I took creative writing all through college. Real life caught up with me, and I found myself with a real job, a husband, a house, and soon followed the four jewels of my life—Amanda, Amelia, Alessa, and Ariana. I started writing again when I finally had a chance to quit my job and stay home to raise my treasure.

That's wonderful. I know you grew up in several cultures and are multi-lingual. Has that helped your writing adventure?
My adventure through life never really stopped… the greatest adventure and challenge has been my marriage. I’m a hard fast Roman Catholic, but married a Lebanese Moslem I met at Wayne State University. Not counting religion, the cultural differences alone are enough to send anyone into a never-ending whirlwind. Believe me, it’s pretty dizzying. The challenge of raising children, especially girls, can be a dividing monster. We managed, and next July will be our twenty-eight wedding anniversary.

Congratulations! You've certainly lived a multi-cultural adventure. I bet it gives you a lot to write about. Any advice for upcoming authors?
If your dream is to be an accomplished author, you need to put your name out there, in the form of a blog, way before you intend to publish. Dedicate your blog to promoting other authors, their fans will come to your blog. With time, they will recognize your name and when you publish, they will try your book.

It is very important to have an editor comb through your work, quality is most important. Also, a professional book cover is a must. Most of all, don’t ever give up on your dream. Take classes to improve your craft, and surround yourself with supportive people.

Great advice, Annamaria. You've helped me with my stories by pointing out inconsistencies. You're quite a skeptic. Tell us about your first story.

The first work I’ve published is a very long, paranormal short story, A Simple Matter of Justice, to give readers a taste of my writing style and storytelling abilities. I’m preparing the way for my urban fantasy, Trapped in a Nightmare, that should be coming out sometime in March. I enjoyed writing this unusual story, and hope others will also enjoy reading it.

The blurb:

Brutally murdered, Samantha discovers her life doesn’t end with her death. While in spirit form, she speaks with a wolf, which offers her a chance to bring her killer to trial…but there are strings attached. Even so, she accepts his proposal, and together they hunt the city. However, when the man responsible can’t be located, she worries the wolf’s proposal might be more than a simple matter of justice.

A Simple Matter of Justice is sold at

Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country.
Upon returning to the states, she promised herself she would speak without an accent.
She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish.
Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.

You can visit Annamaria at:
@AMBazzi twitter

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Glass Pumpkin - Hidden Under Her Heart (A Story of Abortion and Courage) Chapter 3 - Scene 2

The hike back was almost all uphill. Thankfully, the trees blocked the sun most of the way. Maryanne’s car was still the only one in the parking lot. She threw the empty water bottle in the recycle bin. “I thought I was going to die.”
Lucas wiped his forehead with the back of his arm. “We climbed 1400 feet from the creek. You did great, even with flip flops.”
“Ugh… I’m going to have blisters between my toes.”
He removed his wraparounds. “About that mountain lion, I’m—”
“Don’t!” Maryanne unlocked her car. “I forgave you about five miles back, but you owe me for the torture march.”
“How do you want me to pay?” He extracted a towel and madras shirt from his backpack. “I have to change shirts. Try not to stare.”
“Pffuh, I don’t want to get sick.” Maryanne slid into the driver’s seat. He wouldn’t be able to see her looking from this vantage point. He stood with the passenger door open, his ridged abdominals in full view. A trickle of sweat rolled down the center line but was quickly dabbed away. He turned his back and put on deodorant—Old Spice original scent. Hmmm… a traditional man. After rolling up his towel and tank top, he stuffed it in his bag and climbed into the passenger seat, his shirt still partially unbuttoned.
“I’ll get the buttons.” She reached for his shirt and her breath quickened. What was wrong with her? She’d been throwing herself at him all day. This man-drought made her irritable and snappy. It’d been, what? Four months since John walked out? Why hadn’t Vera fallen off the wagon yet? She swallowed and licked her lips. Lucas’ warm breath was sweet on her face.
“Thanks.” He whispered, so close to her ear.
Her hand flattened on his chest. Sitting in the car, they were almost the same height. It was doable. She trailed her fingertips to his collarbone. His body stiffened and he cleared his throat. “Uh… We have to be somewhere in twenty minutes. I reserved a class for us.”
“A class?” She squeaked.
“Yes, I think you’ll like it.”
“Oookay…” She checked her teeth in the vanity mirror. All clear. Eye makeup was a little smeared, but nothing seriously wrong. “Go back the way we came?”
Lucas pointed out the window. “Yes, but make a left on 92 and turn into a winery. I’ll put it into the GPS.”
“Thanks,” Maryanne mumbled. Despite all the suggestive talk, he seemed uncomfortable touching her. But then, why did he pursue her so avidly? She stepped on the accelerator. At least the wine-tasting class would cheer her up.
They drove past a Christmas tree farm, quite charming and cute. Traffic piled behind a slow moving truck before clearing near a stretch of nurseries and businesses. On the left was the sign for the winery. Maryanne parked in front of a small wooden building with a “wine tasting” sign. She got out and locked her car.
“You like red or white?” She asked Lucas.
“Ah, good, he’s there.” Lucas pointed toward a tin building on the other side of the parking lot.
“What’s over there?”
“You’ll see.” He took her hand, sending a warm thrill through her heart. They walked to the front of a rollaway door. It opened into an art studio. Glass pumpkins, translucent hearts, and paperweights sat on the shelves, and colorful lamps hung from metal rods.
A man greeted them. “Hi, I’m Dan. You Lucas?”
“Yep, and this is Maryanne. We’re here to take the glassmaking class.”
The man showed them sample hearts, paperweights, and pumpkins. “Before you leave, you’ll be making one of these.”
“Seriously?” Maryanne said. “How do you get the ridges on the pumpkin?”
“Top secret.” The man grinned as he took the money from Lucas. “So what are we making today?”
“This is so cool!” Maryanne held up a small sea-green speckled pumpkin with a curly gold stem. “I’d like make a pumpkin like that one.”
“That color is a favorite,” Dan said. “How about you?”
“A red and purple heart,” Lucas answered.
Strange choice for a man, but hey, he was definitely different. Cute, hot, and inhibited.
“You want to go first?” Lucas asked.
“No, you go ahead. It looks dangerous.”
“Nothing to it,” Dan exclaimed. “Put on these gloves.”
Maryanne took pictures of Lucas dipping the iron rod into the crucible and holding it in a furnace. He created several layers of color by rolling the molten glass in colored powder. When it was time to shape the heart, Dan gave him a knife and asked him to cut the cleavage.
“I’ll let her cut it.” Lucas waved Maryanne over and smiled sweetly.
“Watch out or she’ll cut your heart.” Dan laughed.
After a brief instruction, she held the blade and cut upwards, separating the two lobes. Lucas used large tweezers to draw the tip, and it was finished. Dan placed the hot glass into the annealer to cool.
Maryanne worked her glass blob under Dan’s instruction. It was hard work to make layer after thin layer and rotate the rod to keep the glass from flopping downward. When it was time to shape the pumpkin, Dan helped her push the heated glass into a jagged round mold and pull it out. He dipped a smaller rod into a crucible of golden glass and attached it to her pumpkin, curling it several times.
He put her pumpkin into the annealer before she had a chance to admire it. “Well, that’s it. You can pick it up tomorrow or I can mail it.”
“I’ll pick up,” Lucas said.
“That’s it?” Maryanne peeled off the protective sleeves and gloves.
Lucas guided her to the front of the studio. “If you want one of those lamps, I’ll buy you one.”
“No, I couldn’t.” She stared at a pink and blue jellyfish wall lamp with long, curly tendrils. It was probably a couple hundred dollars, but perfect for a nursery. A hot, thudding pulse hammered behind her ears. Flustered, she turned for the parking lot to catch her breath. Her hormones were definitely out of control.

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Ebook Available At: Barnes & Noble (Nook)Amazon (Kindle) [USIndiaUKDEFRESITCanadaBrazilJapan], SmashwordsKoboBooks
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Wild Cat - Hidden Under Her Heart (A Story of Abortion and Courage) Chapter 3 - Scene 1

Friday morning, Maryanne stepped out of the shower and popped another piece of chocolate in her mouth. The mixture of dark chocolate, marzipan and pistachio hummed through her taste buds. She pinched her tummy, still less than an inch of fat, and tucked Lucas’ note into the box. They had a nice conversation, and he’d asked her to go hiking. With all the goodies he supplied, she’d be needing the exercise.
After pulling on a spaghetti strap, dip-dyed lace cami and a pair of white hipster shorts, she buckled a wide silver-glitter belt and slipped on a pair of flip-flops. She dabbed sunscreen on her face and applied a little bit of makeup. Oh, and one more piece of chocolate.
She pinned her hair back just as the doorbell rang. He was early, the devil. Maryanne rubbed on a healthy coat of lip-gloss, grabbed her new Marc Jacobs shoulder bag and opened the door.
Lucas’ gaze travelled immediately to her feet and her bright white enamled toenails. “Seriously, flip-flops for hiking?”
“Are you always so rude in the morning?” She whisked past him. “I’m driving.”
He ogled her exaggeratedly. “Great, I can enjoy the scenery.”
“Keep your eyes on the wildlife, mister.” She hid her smile behind a fake yawn.
“Yes ma’am. I sure will.”
“Hands to yourself.”
“No problemo!” He mock saluted her.
She looped her hand around his elbow and led the way to the parking area. “So, how are you this  morning?”
“Not bad. I already did my fifty mile training ride and swam fifty laps.”
Whew! All she did was get out of bed and lick chocolate. Milk chocolate with hazel nuts. She’d save that piece for Lucas. She glanced at him and met his knowing eyes.
“How about you?” He licked his lips. “Did you eat too much chocolate?”
Urgh! Maryanne let go his arm and unlocked her Ford Focus. “If you’re fishing for gratitude, yes, I enjoyed a few pieces. Thanks.”
Lucas threw his backpack in the back seat. Before getting in, he slid the seat all the way back. “Are all your friends midgets?”
“Unlike you, we’re genetically challenged, and we don’t have your sense of humor.” She started the ignition. His body heat radiated the short distance between their shoulders.  She reached across him to the glove compartment. “Is there an address to put into the GPS?”
“No, it’s an open space preserve, but I know the way.”
“What’s it called again?”
“La Purisima Creek Redwoods.”
“It’s not too wild, is it?” She pulled onto the street and headed to the freeway.
“Nope, perfect stroll in the woods. And it won’t be crowded since it’s a weekday.”
A perfect stroll for him might be a torture march for her. “Did you bring water?”
He pointed at his backpack. “Always prepared. And a picnic lunch too.”
Her heart warmed. Wow. So thoughtful. Ever since the multiple apologetic notes, he’d been the perfect gentleman, well, minus the silly flirts he threw every time he opened his mouth. She pushed the power button the stereo. “Music? Any preference?”
“You pick.”
She turned to 106 KMEL, the Bay Area’s Hip Hop and R&B station.
“You don’t have to put this on for me.”
“What?” Maryanne took the carpool lane onto the freeway. “You don’t like?”
“Just cuz I’m black doesn’t mean… What if I like white music?”
Gulp. She barely knew him. Was he accusing her of being racist?
“Rock or top 40. Whatever.”
He touched her shoulder. “It’s fine. Sorry.”
“You don’t have to apologize. I like this music or I wouldn’t play it.”
“I shouldn’t have jumped on you. I just thought—”
“It’s okay.” She kept her attention on the road. “Leave You Alone” by Young Jeezy rapped through the speakers. She’d dated men of every race and nationality. It was silly to think of music as either white or black. Lucas looked more white than black, but now was not the time to expand on it. She whizzed onto the bridge in the Fastrack lane.
The water was choppy, a bit on the brownish side. After crossing the bridge, she headed toward Half Moon Bay. The road narrowed and wound between vistas of the bright blue Crystal Lake and tree lined ridges. About four and a half miles south of the turn, Lucas pointed to a parking area. It was empty.
Maryanne flipped down the vanity mirror and checked her lip gloss. “This place is deserted.”
“I hope you’re not wearing any perfume.”
“Excuse me?”
“Bees.” Lucas pulled on wraparound sunglasses, hiding his soul-stirring green eyes.
“Oh… I didn’t know.”
“Don’t worry, I have insect repellant. But it smells nasty.” His nose twitched.
“Oh, great choice. I have to smell like you? Think I’ll take my chances.” She put on her sunglasses. If she couldn’t see his mischievous eyes, he wouldn’t read her either.
Lucas pulled out his backpack, and she locked the car. Warning signs were prominent at the trail head. Mountain lions and what to do when confronted. Tick Danger. Poison oak. Maryanne turned toward Lucas. “Bees are the least of my worries. Are there really mountain lions?”
“Nothing to it. Stay behind me. See the sign? ‘Keep children behind you.’”
“I’m not a child.” Maryanne pinched his upper arm.
“Ow! Could have fooled me.” He ducked. “What I meant was you gotta look big and mean. Here, I’ll show you.” He waved his backpack in the air and jumped up and down, hollering, “Git the shit outta here.”
A giggle escaped her throat. “Hmmm… makes sense. Cats get hissy until you stare them down.”
“I wouldn’t know. Allergies.”
They stepped onto the trail. The air gave off a mixture of conifer and chaparral scents. “Will the tree pollen bother you?”
He puffed out his chest and took a deep breath. “Took my Allegra and got my shot this week. Reason I moved here. Less pollen and great coastal breezes. So many places to mountain bike, run, and swim.”
The trail split into two. A wide path swung toward the left, but Maryanne was drawn to the wooden rail fence with a narrow opening marked with no bicycle and no horses signs. “Which way?”
“Enter ye in at the strait gate.” Lucas pulled out a camera. “Can I take your picture?”
Sounded like something out of the Bible. Maryanne posed between the narrow space. “The bicycles and horses have to go on the wide road.”
“Which leadeth to destruction.” He laughed and snapped a picture.
They walked under a canopy of trees. Moss hung in strings off spiny branches, and ferns waved from the bases of trunks. Partially rotted tree trunks lay on the ground, and vines crawled along the sides of the trail.
“Sure that isn’t poison ivy?” Maryanne tip-toed with her flip-flops through a narrow passage between oat grass and green jagged leaves.
Lucas trailed her. “Those are berries. See the spoor?”
He pointed to globules of dark purplish-black droppings. Maryanne stepped back, right into his arms. “Ugh. I didn’t step on that, did I?”
He let her go immediately. “Ready for a seven mile loop or you want to come back on the same trail?”
“I’ll take the entire loop.” Maryanne shrugged. Most men would have hugged her a moment longer or even copped a feel. She’d showered and shampooed, and he had looked at her appreciatively, unless it was all a big act.
“That’s because we’re going downhill.” Lucas’ gleeful voice cut into the foreground. “See those switchbacks down there? I sprint up the trail and walk back down. Interval training.”
“I’m game, but not for sprinting up.” She wiggled a flip-flop at him.
After negotiating the switchbacks, the trail widened and leveled off a bit. They walked under majestic trees with rugged trunks pointing as spires toward the sky. Redwoods. Lucas helped Maryanne across a long log, and surprisingly, he didn’t let go of her hand. A warm feeling calmed the jitters in her heart. Vera said she only craved the chemical high of being in love, but not the man behind it. Maryanne gripped Lucas’ hand tighter. He didn’t respond. Instead he seemed shy and stopped chattering.
The sound of woodpeckers periodically peppered the tall trees, and was soon joined by trickling water. Ferns were sprayed all along the bank of the creek. Even though it was midday, the canopy of trees hid the sunlight and the air was refreshingly cool. They walked several miles in silence.
“Ready for lunch?” Lucas stopped near a flat stone and swung his backpack off his shoulder.
“Sure, I’m famished.” Maryanne dipped her feet in the trickling water. It soothed her feet. “It’s surprising how cool and damp it is in this forest.”
“Even in May. That’s what I like about the Bay Area. Ham or turkey?” Lucas pointed to the spread—two wrapped submarine sandwiches and Hershey’s chocolate milk on ice packs.
“How do you know I’m not a vegetarian?”
“Oh, I’m sor—”
“Don’t you dare apologize.” Maryanne put her hands on his waist. If she were taller, she’d lay her lips on his to stop further discussion. “I was just teasing. I’ll eat anything.”
A slow smile stretched across his face. “Okay, I’ll hold you to it, man eater.”
Maryanne refrained from rolling her eyes and unwrapped a sandwich. “I haven’t seen many hikers. It’s like we have this place all to ourselves.”
“We do.”
She took a bite of the sandwich and leaned closer. Couldn’t he at least put his arm around her? His eyes, green as light emeralds, held her gaze. As clear as the sea, not even a speck of brown. The pupils pin-pointed, and he stared over her shoulder.
He jumped to his feet. “A mountain lion!”
Maryanne gasped and coughed up a piece of bread. She grabbed onto Lucas. “Where? Where?”
Nothing but green branches and fluttering leaves. Was the cat stalking behind the ferns? Her heart in her throat, she hid behind Lucas.
He waved his hands, jumped up and down, hooting and chuckling? What was wrong with him? She looked around anxiously. There was no movement in the vicinity, no giant cat ready to pounce.
Lucas slapped his thighs and doubled over with laughter. “Gotcha!”
“You punk!”

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Ebook Available At: Barnes & Noble (Nook)Amazon (Kindle) [USIndiaUKDEFRESITCanadaBrazilJapan], SmashwordsKoboBooks
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Count Your Blessings - A Merry Christmas to All

This is the time of year for family, friends and loved ones. It is also a time of giving and remembering those who have passed on. But most of all, Christmas is a time to count your many blessings, because no matter how bad the economy is, or how sad world affairs are, each and every one of us has been given the gift of life. And as a gift to you, all my books are FREE for the holidays. [Click here]

Here are my blessings:
1. My mother turned 80 this year and is in great health. We spent her birthday hiking at Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma.
2. I'm still married to my wonderful husband despite the fact I'm not a great housekeeper or cook.
3. My eldest son is a senior in college. He took a trip this summer by himself to China and made it back with all organs intact.
4. My daughter survived her first winter in Michigan, first year of college, and first year of marriage and won the Provost scholarship for top freshman.
5. My youngest son is in sixth grade and still wants me to play video games with him even though I am a complete spaz.
6. I self-published three books this year. Michal's Window in February, Your Daily Bible Verse in July, and Broken Build in September.
7. My pastor, Devon Ortiz, is leading and invigorating our church to grand new possibilities.
8. I was honored to be included by Melissa Foster as one of her World Literary Cafe volunteers.
9. I have met and made hundreds of new friends through writing my books and blogging.
10. I have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.

This Christmas, remember the greatest gift you can ever receive is the one God gave. Receive his Son as your personal Saviour and be blessed, my friend.

Monday, December 24, 2012

#BookChat CIRCLE DANCE by Lynne Constantine #womensfiction #greece

Young, smart and beautiful with everything figured out – or so they thought. Born into a prosperous Greek American family, sisters Nicole and Theodora have achieved the perfect balance between the old world rich in Greek tradition and the freedom of life in America. Headstrong and independent, Nicole plunges into life head-first, too often ignoring the risks. Her talent and astute business acumen make her the perfect heir to her father’s empire, but his old-world attitudes prevent him from giving the top spot to a woman. Nicole’s world spins out of control when she falls for a married senator who shares her heritage and her dreams. While struggling to navigate previously uncharted moral waters, she uncovers treachery and corruption that will break both her sister’s and her father’s heart. The decisions she makes will affect the happiness of those closest to her and will define the woman she is to become. The young and conventional Theodora weds and quickly learns that marriage is not the paradise she envisioned. She must soon confront the growing suspicion that her husband is not the man he seems. Forced to endure the constant disdain and disapproval of her patrician mother-in-law, she resigns herself to the fact that she will always be considered an outsider. As she struggles to succeed at her marriage, she seeks the wisdom and council of her beloved Greek grandmother who has been happily married for over half a century. Ultimately she must come to terms with the reality of her own life and take responsibility for the role she has played in deceiving herself. As the dramatic plot unfolds, the two young women must confront deceit and betrayal and their own shortcomings – while they struggle to preserve the values they cherish. Set in Baltimore, Annapolis and the tiny island of Ikaria, Greece, Circle Dance provides a view into the lives of a dynamic family that has successfully achieved the American dream without abandoning the customs and traditions handed down through their Greek heritage. Artfully intertwined plots bring generations together in a dance of rejoicing and mourning, loss and healing that will keep readers enthralled until the last page.

What Circle Dance means to me
            When my sister and I first agreed to collaborate on a story we constructed one similar to what we loved to read at the time – stories about women, their emotional lives, and the choices they make in life.  Our first characters were three sisters – beautiful, blonde, rich, and American.  The story was a struggle and we realized that we were not writing about what we knew or even about what spoke to us – but rather to what was popular and interesting at the time.

            We talked about the fact that there were very few stories about the Greek American experience.  While similar to other ethnic stories – there are unique aspects to being Greek that we felt needed to be shared.  Growing up in a close, tight-knit, community, surrounded by families that had been friends for generations, there was much to be enjoyed about the experience.  Being second generation Greek Americans, our loyalties were very much in the American camp.  There was a sense of rebellion and wrestling against the tight constraints our grandmother, and to a lesser extent our mother, tried to put on us.  The admonition to marry inside the Greek community fell on deaf ears for all three of my siblings as well as myself.  We all married wonderful people who brought their own unique heritage and traditions into the tapestry of our lives.  Circle Dance is a reminder to them as well – to embrace their beginnings and to never forget that we all come from someplace else.  Before writing Circle Dance,  we didn’t give much thought to what our grandparents and their own parents had sacrificed in order to improve their lives in a new country.  Sophia, the wise grandmother, reflects on this fact during a time of crisis in the lives of the Parsenis family:
Sophia was proud of her family in this time of uncertainty and apprehension.  They had drawn together around Nick and Eleni, supporting them with their prayers and their presence.  She was thankful to be alive to see the fruits of the teaching she and Andreas had tried to instill in their children and grandchildren. Sophia’s own mother, Vasiliki, had not been so fortunate.  By the time Sophia and Andreas could afford to make the long voyage back to Greece, Vasiliki was dead. She never saw her daughter’s children.  It was only now that her own children and grandchildren were grown that Sophia fully appreciated just how much her mother had missed.  Perhaps she was too busy as a young woman to give it much thought or perhaps it was too painful to dwell upon in those days when there was nothing she could do to remedy it anyway.  But now she realized the emptiness that she and all the other immigrants left in the souls of parents who knew they would very likely never again set eyes on their offspring, their parenting abruptly terminated and ended forever.  Her mother had never challenged her decision to leave for America and never, she now realized, allowed her to see the sorrow she felt at her departure.  They were brave, these parents who were left behind alone and childless, and they were openhanded in their unstinting generosity to let go.
            Looking back to my childhood I now realize that I took for granted the privilege of knowing first-hand my grandmother- fresh from the Greek soil - her Greek accent and customs intact.  It tied me closely to my roots and cemented forever my connection to Greece and things Greek.  My own children,  only half Greek feel no such connection.  I have to build for them, layer by layer, an understanding of the importance of knowing your heritage and of being tied to something that came before.  Circle Dance is my legacy to them - a view into a world they will never literally enter – but one in which they can vicariously enjoy.  May they taste the home-baked bread my Yiayia so lovingly prepared - the butter melting into its warm folds -sugar sprinkled on top.   It is my hope that in these pages, they will one day discover the wonderful traditions and customs that are rooted in their genetic makeup.  That they might one day desire to return to the country of their origin and appreciate its beauty and splendor.  Whatever their response – of one thing they can be assured – Circle Dance was a true labor of love for my sister and me.  I hope they will pass it along to their children one day and that the legacy will continue.

Picture of Ikaria:

Readers' Reaction:

Circle Dance has captured the essence of the Greek American experience.  Full of plot twists and turns, it is a page-turner, appealing to Greeks and non-Greeks alike.  Bravo to these two talented authors."

Olympia Dukakis

Circle Dance is one of my favorite books. I rarely read books more than once, but this is one of the few I've read several times. I love reading about the close-knit Parsenis family, and their challenges and triumphs. The writing is wonderful, and I can truly imagine what it would be like to be a Parsenis! For me, it's the perfect leisurely read, ending just the way I want it to! I'm always a little sad when I finish the book and look forward to the next book by these talented authors! I highly recommend this book!  Diane Kuczo

Sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine must be very close, almost thinking as one. In Circle Dance, they have created a seamless classic which takes you on a dynastic journey from the humble islands of Greece to the American Dream of New England. Their story bridges the culture gap from one European country to one corner of the States, but its appeal is universal... Garry Kay, Author of "Don't Fear the Reaper"

I loved this book. Once I started, I couldn't put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next to Nicole and Theodora, who became like sisters to me. It was so refreshing to read about women who are intelligent, hard-working and family-oriented. I could identify with the characters and their struggles, heartaches and joy. Coming from an Italian-American background, I could also identify with so much of the Greek characterizations - the Greek grandmother in Circle Dance was always giving everyone the "evil eye" - I had to laugh because my own grandmother always talked about the "evil eye." So many of the Greek customs are similar to cultures throughout the mediterranean. I've read so much recently about life in the Middle East and India, particularly, that I loved reading about a culture that was familiar to me. Reading this novel definitely felt like "coming home."  Madeline Monde

Behind The Scenes:

I found the benefits of writing with a co-author (my sister Valerie) far outweighed the drawbacks. During the often lonely and rejection laden path from writing to publication – my sister and I comforted, encouraged and cheered each other on. Rarely did we both feel like giving up at the same time and our collaborative efforts were in large part the driving force behind our perseverance and success in overcoming the daunting odds of traditional publication. When Circle Dance was first released in 2004 we heaved a sigh of relief and felt confident that it would soon climb to the top of the New York Bestseller list. Na├»ve about the publishing world, we had no idea how much we didn’t know. Our small publisher was no match for the large houses and we soon found out that the marketing efforts would fall largely on our shoulders.  Being a new mom of twins, I had barely enough time to shower, let alone market our book. My family had also just moved 200 miles away, making any joint efforts with my sister nearly impossible. At the time, the only way to sell our book was to make personal appearances and visit bookstores and libraries.  We did manage to sell most of our initial print run through talks at women’s groups, book clubs and select bookstores and we garnered some great reviews and press.  However, neither of us was in the position to travel the country promotingCircle Dance and we had no other means to do so as social media marketing had not yet come fully into its own
We ultimately decided to purchase our book rights back and put the book aside for a little while.  This past summer, Valerie and I began to go through the book and edit it one more time. When we originally wrote Circle Dance, we followed an outline rather strictly and assigned chapters to each other. One drawback of writing with a co-author is the tendency to feel constrained by agreed upon plot lines - neither of us felt free to allow the story to change as organically as we might had it been written solo.  This time we discussed areas that didn’t ring true to us, characters that needed strengthening, dialogue that needed re-writing and plot points that needed tweaking. Over the summer we revised and improved Circle Dance and by fall were ready to share it again with the public. It became available in e-book formats and paperback in November.  While we have always loved the characters and the story, we believe that our changes have made Circle Dance into a better book that tells the story in a more fluid and dynamic manner. 
About Lynne:

Lynne wrote her first book, Circle Dance, with her sister Valerie. Circle Dance was a legacy of love fueled by the desire to pass on to their children the traditions and experiences unique to them as second generation Greek Americans.   Lynne was raised in a close-knit family surrounded but extended family and “adopted” family through the Greek community.  Both she and her sister wanted to leave a legacy for their children and future generations of a bygone era. 
Lynne attended Hellenic College where she earned her undergraduate degree in Human Development. She went on to earn her masters degree in Business Administration at Johns Hopkins University.    She has an extensive marketing background and over eighteen years of business experience.  She left the corporate world in 2000 to pursue her writing full time. She has written for magazines and journals but her true passion is fiction.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Lynne relocated to the New York area with her husband and children. In addition to her writing, she is active in her church and local community.   She serves on the board of her town’s Women’s League – a philanthropic organization dedicated to helping women and children.  She is passionate about education, reading, health, and wellness.   She enjoys traveling, spending time on the beach and talking walks with her family and their adorable golden retriever. 
Lynne is currently at work on her next book, a thriller.


website: - links to buy are all here
Barnes and Noble:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The No-Sex Vow - Hidden Under Her Heart (A Story of Abortion and Courage) Chapter 2 - Scene 3

Lucas entered the clinic with a bouquet of lilies. The last two times he came for shots he got Vera, the perky Asian nurse with the heart-shaped face. He set the flowers on the counter. He rubbed his itchy nose and suppressed a sneeze.
A middle-aged Indian nurse waved her finger at him. “Can’t you read the signs? No fragrances in the waiting room.”
“These are for Miss Torres.” Lucas extended his hand. “Is she working today?”
“I can’t talk about our employees’ schedules.” The nurse guided Lucas across the hallway. “You may leave these with Carmen.”
The sign next to the counter said Bariatrics. A receptionist spoke Spanish into the phone. She hung up and turned toward Lucas. “Ah, for me again?”
Lucas looked from the Indian nurse to the receptionist. “Have you seen Miss Torres?”
The receptionist smiled brightly. “I’m Carmen. These flowers are lovely. I’ll hold them for her.”
“Can you be sure she gets them? There’s a personal note.” Lucas set the vase down. A flower stem fell behind the counter.
“I’ll get it.” Carmen scooted her rolling chair away from her desk.
Lucas looked over the edge to point to the dropped flower. Three displays of dried flowers lay underneath the table with the cards unopened. No wonder she never called or texted him.
Carmen picked up the stem and tucked it in place, humming a tune and ignoring him. Lucas’ face heated. He’d been wasting his time. He shouldn’t have played that stupid choking trick on her.
He strode out of the waiting room. Was he not good enough for her? He’d let beauty sway him again—big brown eyes, slender eyebrows, pouty lips and a creamy complexion. So pretty, but white; although he didnt get the vibe shed be biased.
“Mr. Knight, your appointment?” the Indian nurse called after him.
He walked faster toward the exit and plowed into a woman coming around the corner. The tray of vials she was carrying dropped onto the carpet, scattering the vials across the hallway.
“I’m so sorry.” Lucas bent to pick them up and bumped her head with his jaw.
“Ow!” It was Maryanne Torres. “You made me drop all the allergy shots.”
“Sorry. I’ll help you.” He handed them to her, and she fitted them in the marked slots.
“You’re here for your shots?” she asked.
“I was, but something came up.” He avoided her gaze.
She finished tucking all the vials in place. “Will you be by later? You can’t miss a week, or you’ll have to start over.”
“Let me get it.” He picked up the tray. “Are you okay?”
A smile swept her face. “I was fine until a certain klutz barreled into me.”
“Sorry.” He followed her through the waiting room.
“No apologies needed. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll call you after I put these in the refrigerator.” She took the tray from him and went through the staff door, glancing back right before the door closed.
Lucas took a seat at the far side of the clinic. His heart thumped and his palms were moist. A twenty-eight year old man acting like a star-struck adolescent was utterly ridiculous. But Maryanne’s smile was warm, and she appeared friendly.
She called his name and he stepped into the clinic. This time, he wore a short-sleeved shirt so he wouldn’t have to pull off his shirt to access his upper arms.
Maryanne waved him to her station. He wanted to say something witty or funny, but the words wouldn’t come. She hadn’t acknowledged the flowers, and he didn’t want to say anything he’d regret later.
She handed him the peak-flow meter to measure his airflow, and he blew the indicator to the top—twelve hundred.
“You know we have some patients who can barely blow three hundred?” She stuck a syringe into the top of a vial and tapped it.
He presented his right arm. “Well I don’t know why I have to blow this thing.”
“You sound like you’re having a bad day.” Her eyebrows creased as if she were concerned.
“I bumped into you, and…”
“Oh! And I’m definitely the last nurse you wanted to poke you today.”
“No, you’re fine.” He held out his arm, and she rubbed it with alcohol before inflicting a sharp stinging burn.
She pulled out the syringe and dropped the needle into the medical waste container. “Don’t tell me you’re feeling bad about knocking down my vials.”
“It’s not that. I… uh, brought you flowers, but… I guess you don’t want them. I’m sorry.”
She dabbed his arm. “I’m not sure what you’re trying to do.”
“I’m sorry about the stunt I pulled to get your attention. I don’t know what got into me.”
She injected him again. “You embarrassed me. I’m not some kind of joke. I’m a professional, a nurse.”
“I respect you.” He pressed a tissue to clot the blood. The adrenaline in his veins stung along with the shot.
“You do?” Her eyes flashed, so lovely and lethal. “I worked hard to get my degree and earn a spot on this team. My boss was upset about the flowers.”
“You didn’t even read the notes.”
“Other arm?”
He pushed up his sleeve. Vera walked by and beckoned for his attention. “She likes chocolates.”
Maryanne filled another syringe. “Cats and dogs. It’s a pity, you can’t have any pets.”
“No time with my training schedule and work.”
“Work? What do you do?”
“I’m a special education coach. I train kids for the Special Olympics and teach swimming.”
She set the syringe down and looked into his eyes. “That’s really something. Do you enjoy working with them?”
“Yeah.” He couldn’t help smiling. “The small victories add up, and they’re always so enthusiastic. When you help them achieve a goal, it’s like you’re on top of Mt. Everest.”
“I’d like to hear more about what you do.” Her gaze lingered on him while she drew the last shot. “My break’s coming up.”
It felt like the needle barely pricked him. His confidence rose with his pulse, and he took a deep breath. “I’ll be in the waiting room, Miss Torres.”
“Maryanne.” Her cheeks dimpled. “Bring me the notes and meet me at the exit.”
Lucas rushed across the hall to Bariatrics, surprising Carmen who was sniffing the lilies.
“I found Maryanne,” he announced. “And she wants the cards.”
Carmen batted her eyelashes. “Trust me, I’m much more fun, and I cook better.”
Lucas swallowed his words. Judging from her hips, she probably did make a mean tamale. He picked the note card off the lilies. “Can I get the notes from the other bouquets?”
She hefted herself from the chair and bent below the table, tearing the envelopes off the plastic holders. “Here you go. And here’s my card. Good luck with Maryanne. You won’t get far.”
Carmen looked left and then right. The only people in the room were patients playing with their electronic gadgets. She bent closer and cupped her hand to one side of her mouth. “Rumor has it she’s sworn off sex. She and Vera, the Filipino nurse, have a bet. First one to fall off the wagon buys the other one a three-day weekend at a spa.”
No wonder she was so prickly. Lucas peered across the hall at the Allergy clinic. “How long do they plan on keeping it going?”
“Until one of them scores a marriage proposal, with an engagement ring and a set date. Remember who tipped you off.” She slipped her card into his back pocket and gave him a pat on his behind.
“There you are,” Maryanne glided through the opening to the Bariatrics waiting area and stopped with one hand propped on her hip.
“Bye, you two have fun.” Carmen’s voice sing-songed after them.
Lucas mumbled a goodbye and followed Maryanne to the hallway.
Her mouth twisted into a half-smile, half-grimace. “Were you flirting with her?”
“Does it bother you?” He handed her the notes. “You were giving me the cold shoulder.”
She sashayed in front of him. “You want cold? I’ll treat you to an iced cappuccino.”
So, she thought she had competition. While she ordered the drinks, he texted an order of Lady Godiva’s to be delivered to the Allergy Clinic. After adding a few balloons to brighten the treat, his day was definitely looking up.

[Start]       [Previous Scene]       [Next Scene - Dec 27]

Ebook Available At: Barnes & Noble (Nook)Amazon (Kindle) [USIndiaUKDEFRESITCanadaBrazilJapan], SmashwordsKoboBooks
Genre: Women's Fiction, Contemporary Romance

Saturday, December 22, 2012

#BookChat INTAGLIO by Danika Stone - wildfire relationship set against the backdrop of the modern art scene

Set against the backdrop of the modern art scene, Intaglio: The Snake and the Coins follows Ava Brooks, art student and graffiti artist, as she begins a wildfire relationship with fellow student, sculptor Cole Thomas. Their sudden connection results in a passionate affair which sparks a series of increasingly vivid dreams. In them, Ava finds herself drawn into a memory of another life: one that she and Cole shared. As each dream brings the memory of her past closer, the two of them must unravel the events that once tore them apart, or risk repeating the same mistakes all over again.  (Volume 1 of 2).

From the Author
About a hundred years ago (or so it feels) I was a poor university student sharing a painting studio with my much-more-talented friend: B.  I had a smidgen of artistic talent, a dollop more writerly prowess, and hell of a lot of frustration with the Art world.  I’d paint and I’d rant, and B would smile and nod, honing his craft while I spun out tales to fill the hours.  Somewhere along the way, I suddenly realized that I had a story to tell, and I began to jot it down.

The years of university passed in a blur.  People came in and out of my life, but the urge to write never left me.  Along the way, I had a burning-up-the-page romance of my own.  He was another student: a fantastic artist and the man I’d eventually marry.  Suddenly the story I was imagining pulled into focus: it wouldn’t just be about Art, it would be about love and fate and soulmates too! I hatched out a rough plot and the words began to pour out, chapter after chapter appearing almost by their own, the characters blurring into the artists I knew and loved. 

Everything seemed poised to come together, but then school ramped into high gear.  With graduation came marriage and mortgages, jobs and security, and in the midst of all the busyness of life, I simply got too busy to finish story I was trying to tell.

It wasn’t that I meant to stop… LIFE happened.

Jump forward fifteen years.  My friend B was now a critically acclaimed artist, with gallery representation and a client list the length of my arm.  I was a grad student as well as a freelance artist and writer who taught New Media to make ends meet.  I’d married the man I’d met in art school, and while we had an amazing life, the book I’d once dreamed about still wasn’t written.  What I didn’t know, was that life was about to give me a wakeup call.

I’d always been healthy.  It was somewhat of a badge of honour to come through my yearly checkups with flying colours.  This time, however, the doctor picked up a very faint ‘murmur’ in my heart and sent me for an echocardiogram.  After a battery of tests, I was informed that I had a heart condition.  It was a huge blow to realize that I couldn’t do everything!  The first thing was to reduce stress.  I started cutting back on all the extras I did: those things that ate up my time and took away from the things I really wanted to do.  The diagnosis was a reminder to be a little selfish, to think about what drove me, what got me excited about life, and what made me really, truly happy. 

I started writing again.

Intaglio is the result.  It’s the ‘rest of the story’ that I started (and forgot) so many years before.  It’s a dark romance, wrapped up in a paranormal storyline, reflecting not only my experiences of art school, but the things I learned along the way.  The characters, like B, from my studio days are hidden in it, and the long-ago story I began has evolved into something I’m finally happy with. 

Is it perfect?  No, but life never is.  It does, however, tell a love story in a unique way, gives a snapshot into both the illegal and illegal sides of the Art world, and shares a little of the truth I’ve learned along the way.  In a way, this book is a piece of art, just as much as any painting I struggled to complete, and that makes me happier than anything else.

eader's Reactions
“A fantastic first effort from an author to watch. I enjoyed the book immensely and look forward to her next offering.”  Outlaw Poet, Amazon Reviewer, Top 1000 Reviewer, Amazon

“Intense and emotional… a well written story.”  L.Sims, Top 1000 Reviewer, Amazon

“Danika Stone writes with the same incredible energy with which her characters create… Taut, energetic, and fast-paced.”  M. Parker, Author

I found myself cheering for the characters throughout the course of the books.”  D.R. Loeffler, Editor

“Intaglio is at once a coming of age story and an epic romance… A captivating exploration of what it means to find a soulmate.”  E. Dropkin, Author

Behind the Scenes
While the characters in Intaglio are fictitious, the art they create is based on the work of real artists. Check out the Intaglio: Resources section of for links to these artists and their real life artwork!

Biography and Links
Danika Stone is a writer of contemporary fiction with a focus on strong female narratives.  An educator, artist, grad student, and mother of three, her involvement in the Arts and New Media, has spanned a decade and a half.  Danika’s personal experiences and numerous friendships with contemporary artists, are the inspiration behind this story. Her favourite reader and collaborator is her husband of fifteen years, D, who met Danika in a university Art class.

Danika’s series, Intaglio, is available for purchase, both in paperback and Kindle formats from Amazon.   Resources for Intaglio, and previews for her next books, Tathagata and Ctrl Z, can be found on  and you can chat with Danika at @danika_stone on twitter.