Category Archives: Author Interview

Meet The Author: ANN GIMPEL

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Ann Gimpel is a clinical psychologist who practices in a very isolated area high in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Her avocations include mountaineering, skiing, wilderness photography and, of course, writing. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago.

Read on after the interview for more information about “Alpine Attraction”, Ann’s latest paranormal romance that has readers begging for more!

Thanks so much for your kind words, Deb, and for hosting me on your blog. I really appreciate the research you did to come up with your interview questions. Seriously. It means a lot to me that you cared enough to personalize this interview.

Ann, I read the bio on your website ( and one of the things you said intrigued me. “I ski, I hike, I climb, and on a good day, I’m the alpha female of a wolf pack.” Could you elaborate about your “wolf pack” and how you maintain alpha female status?

Sure. Just as soon as I pick myself up off the floor where I’m rolling around laughing. I have three arctic wolf hybrids. We started with one about twelve years ago. Then we bought a female and, yup you guessed it, puppies can along a couple of years later. We only had one litter. It was such a success, I didn’t want to tempt fate a second time around. Anyway, hybrid number three is the puppy we couldn’t bear to part with. Wish we could have kept all eight.

The gang is getting old now. They’re twelve, ten, and eight. This may be the twelve year old’s last season in the backcountry. We’ll see. I’m not sure he can carry a pack with his food anymore.

My “alpha” status is a joke. The female thumbs her nose at me. Always has. The boys have me wrapped around their little paws. They spent yesterday at the vet for a chronic skin problem and were uncomfortable enough after punch skin biopsies I let them spend the night on our bed. Even a king bed gets a bit crowded with two adults and a couple of hundred pound plus hybrids.

After digging a bit further, I discovered you hail from Mammoth Lakes, an area I’m very familiar with and visited often when I lived in northern California. It’s very rugged, and yes, isolated. Do you ever suffer from cabin fever in the winter? How do you endure months of snow without going slightly crazy?

I love the Eastern Sierra. It’s been twelve years since we moved here and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. True, it’s not for everyone. LOL! In fact, it’s probably not for most people. When I still had a day job, I ran the mental health and alcohol/drug programs for Mono County. I can’t tell you how many staff people the County went through. Either people discover this isn’t their cup of tea, or their spouse rebels. Anyway, it’s a special place, but you need a sense of adventure and a healthy dose of self-sufficiency to live here.

It is isolated. There’s nowhere to shop. (We have one grocery store.) There are wonderful music festivals in the summer, though. And living at 8000’ is great for physical conditioning. I burn about a third more calories simply breathing than someone living at sea level. Means I can eat more!!!

I don’t mind the cold months, maybe because I’m a skier. I adore curling up on one of the living room couches and watching the fire burn in the woodstove. There’s always something to do year round here. In winter, I shovel a lot of snow—and ski. Summers we hike, backpack, trail run, and generally enjoy the riots of wildflowers dotting the meadows.

I feel incredibly fortunate to live here. See, I like the isolation and the clean air and no crime and seeing people I know wherever I go. It’s sort of the best of how life used to be when I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, with an added dash of the most incredible scenery in the world.

I like the fact you blend ecological themes into your stories. What do you consider the most important environmental issue today and why?

For me, it’s global warming. I understand what a hot button topic that is and that many in positions of power think it’s not “real.” Nonetheless, all the new coal-fired plants in China (and other countries) take a toll. As so other things like the planes we fly in and the cars we drive. We’re all interconnected. That plastic bag we use and discard within minutes of coming home from the grocery store will go into a landfill somewhere. The effect is cumulative. We live in a throwaway society. Eventually, we’re going to run out of room to throw things.

I could go on for pages about this, but I think I’ll step off my soapbox. If each of us did just one thing every day to help our planet, it would be a much healthier place for everyone.

I keep a copy of “Heroes & Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes” by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders at my desk. As a clinical psychologist, I’m sure you’ve become adept at twisting and blending archetypes. What is your favorite hero – and heroine – archetype, and why?

Awk! I could write books about that. Your readers would fall asleep.

My favorite listing of hero archetypes comes from Carol S. Pearson. Out of her list of Innocent, Orphan, Warrior, Caregiver, Seeker, Destroyer, Lover, Creator, Ruler, Magician, Sage, and Fool, my favorite is the Magician.

Let me tell you why. The following is a direct quote from Pearson’s Awakening the Heroes Within.

“The power of the Ruler is to create and maintain a prosperous and peaceful kingdom. The power of the Magician is to transform reality by changing consciousness. Good rulers know the state of their life reflects and affects the state of their souls, but they cannot heal themselves. Without the Magician, who heals the wounded Ruler, the kingdom cannot be transformed.”

In olden times, Magicians often served as advisors to Rulers. If a kingdom was inhospitable, they could and did work alone.

Over time, magicians have held names such as shaman, witch, sorcerer, healer, fortune-teller, priest, bard, doctor, psychologist, or marketing wizard.

Every single one of my stories has a character playing the Magician archetype. I don’t plan it that way, but my Muse makes certain the Magician shows up to wave his/her wand and move the characters forward. Story arcs are about how characters change over the course of a story. Magicians are catalysts for those changes.

You’ve enjoyed such an interesting life. I’m jealous! LOL Tell us about one experience that helped define who you are today.

It’s not a single experience, but mountain climbing has helped define who I am. I’m not the most coordinated soul, so I’ve had to stretch myself on many peaks, overcoming fear and my klutziness. The things it’s taught me are simple:

  1. Problems become manageable when chunked into small pieces.
  2. The question isn’t whether I’ll make the summit, but whether I can take another step. One step follows another and, at some point, the summit appears.
  3. Focus is a matter of drawing your attention into the moment. It’s a Zen concept. There are places where if you look very far either up or down, you get so frightened, it’s paralyzing. So, I’ve learned to focus my concentration in a very narrow space and ignore the exposure around me.
  4. Success is a matter of perseverance. When you chip away at something, even something that looks impossible, eventually you find a way to succeed.

You’ve written quite a few novels and short stories. I think every author has one character who stays with them and seems more “alive” than others. Which character was that for you, and why?

That would be Lara McInnis, the psychic psychologist who’s the protag in my Transformation Series books, Psyche’s Prophecy, Psyche’s Search, and Psyche’s Promise. I picked her because, unlike my romance heroines, Lara isn’t larger than life. She struggles with the same hopes, fears, and disappointments we all do. Her imperfections make her impossible not to bond with as she’s faced with things she doesn’t understand. Elements outside her control force Lara out of her comfort zone. She struggles with anger and resentment that she has to change anything about her life.

The Transformation Series books are not romances. They’re urban fantasy in a world reviewers have described as “disturbingly real.” Lara doesn’t get an HEA ending. She does learn a lot about herself, though, and she discovers she’s stronger than she would have thought possible.

 I was happy to read about your affection for wolves. What draws you to them, and what can society learn from the pack?

Wolves have a highly evolved social order. By that I mean they have rules they live by. And principles. Everyone in the pack understands them. Some dogs are much the same. We had German Shepherds before we had the hybrids and if there was ever a breed with behavioral traits hardwired in, it would be them. For example, GSD rule number one is “never leave your master’s side because you can’t protect him if you do.”

The shepherds had a pecking order just like the hybrids. For the most part, they’re content with their place in the pack. Every once in a while, though, they take a stand if there’s something they feel strongly about.

If there’s one message society could learn from wolves/dogs, it would be how to be content with the hand you’ve been dealt, rather than constantly whining/wishing for something more or different than what you have. The second message is standing up for your principles and protecting your own. We could borrow a page from them and I think we’d be happier as a result.

Ann, it’s been my pleasure to host you today. I’m excited to read “Alpine Attraction” and wish you the best of luck with your new release.

And it’s been a pleasure to be here, Deb. Thanks again for asking such interesting, in-depth questions. This interview took me quite a while to think about and answer.

Alpine Attraction


By Ann Gimpel

Publisher: Liquid Silver Books

ISBN: 978-1-93176-193-2

Release Date: 5/20/13

Tina made a pact with the devil seven years ago. It’s time to pay the piper—or die.

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Independent to the nth degree, Tina meets everything in her life head-on—except love.

When an almost-forgotten pact with the devil returns to haunt her, Tina knows she has to go back to the Andes to face her doom.

Caught between misgivings and need, she signs on as team doctor for one of Craig’s expeditions. Though he was once the love of her life, she pushed him away years before to keep him safe. Even if he doesn’t love her anymore, there’s still no one she’d rather have by her side in the mountains.

Trapped in a battle of life and death, passion flares, burning hot enough to brand their souls.



 A heavy weight jammed Tina McKenzie against her mattress. I’m dreaming, her sleep-saturated brain insisted. The pressure doubled and then tripled. Her eyes snapped open, but her bedroom was inky black. She couldn’t see a thing. Breathing became a struggle. Her physician-trained brain panicked. She writhed against an invisible mass lying on top of her. It pushed back.

A burnt odor with overtones of something dead and rotten invaded her nostrils. It smelled like the cadaver lab but without formalin. An insidious cold seeped into her bones. Whatever held her down was freezing her from the inside out. Her heart stuttered. Breath clogged in her throat, unable to move past her squashed larynx. How long could she live without oxygen before she sustained brain damage? A few minutes at best. Her mind shied away from what was happening. The thing in her bedroom wasn’t human. It couldn’t be; it wasn’t breathing. Shit. I’m going to die here.

Her body thrashed against her unseen assailant, but she couldn’t budge it more than an inch or so. No point wasting energy screaming. She lived so remotely, no one would hear her. She tried to raise her arms; they were pinned against her sides. A flickering white haze fractured her vision. People don’t die in dreams.

I’m not dreaming, another inner voice chimed in.

“No, you are not dreaming.” A guttural voice sounded deep in her mind. Accented, it reminded her of… Understanding slammed home and left her reeling. It wasn’t possible. Shivers cascaded down her body. Her blood turned to ice.

“Good,” the voice continued. “You remember me.”

“What?” she sputtered, struggling to get words out. “You can read my thoughts?”

“Of course.” A quiet chuckle. “You made me a promise, doctor. You had seven years. They are nearly expired. Consider yourself fortunate I was kind enough to remind you.”

“Y-you tracked me down?” Her teeth chattered uncontrollably.

The chuckle morphed into a laugh. “I have always known where to find you. Did you delude yourself you were invisible here in the United States? Blood for blood, doctor. You owe me.”

As quickly as it had come, the pressure on her body vanished. Tina shot to a sitting position and sucked air until her oxygen-starved body quit shrieking. She wanted to scream—to curl in a ball and howl—but she was afraid if she gave in to hysteria, she’d never get herself under control again.

Even though common sense told her the danger had passed, she couldn’t stop shaking. Once she thought her legs might support her, she tottered to the window, grasped the light-blocking drapes, and shoved them aside. Medical school and residency had destroyed her natural sleep-wake cycle. She’d installed the room-darkening shades in an attempt to normalize it, except it hadn’t worked. She still was awake until very late; most nights she struggled to get four hours of sleep.

She gazed out the window, frosted from cold. It must have frozen last night. The sky in the east had a pearlescent cast. Dawn. It would be a sunny autumn day in Leadville, Colorado. Too bad the sun wouldn’t percolate into her soul. Tina wrapped her arms around herself. She was so cold she wondered if she’d ever get warm again.

Think, she commanded herself. There’s got to be a way out of this.

Yeah, like what? Years had passed since she’d entered into what she’d always considered a pact with the devil. The further away she’d gotten from that nightmare in the Andes, the more certain she’d become she’d never have to keep her end of the bargain.

Tina walked slowly to her dresser. She tugged the ragged, sweat-soaked T-shirt that doubled as a nightshirt over her head and stood surveying her chilly bedroom. For once in her life she was unsure what to do. Gooseflesh rose, a visceral reminder of her nakedness. She pulled black sweatpants and a top out of a drawer and put them on, followed by half socks and her running shoes. She picked up her iPhone to consult its calendar and then dropped it back onto the top of the dresser. She knew what day it was: October 15th. In two months and ten days, her time would be up.

Adrenaline shot through her. Her stomach roiled. Bile burned the back of her throat. She strode down the hall and stopped in the kitchen long enough to pour water and beans into the coffee maker and set the timer. Tina let herself out the back door. Her jogging route was always the same: eight miles and two thousand feet of gain. It took a little less than ninety minutes. She did it every day she was home despite the weather. In winter it took longer because she used snowshoes.

Tina turned to glance at the buff-colored, turn-of-the-century, two-story farmhouse she called home. It had been in her family for ages. A few miles out of town, she’d always considered the location perfect because no one bothered her. Wind blew the last of the leaves off the aspen trees. She considered returning to fetch a hat, but didn’t want to go back inside. Her house wasn’t hers anymore. The thing—mountain spirit or shaman or whatever the fuck he was—had invaded her territory. It felt sullied. Unclean. I’m going to have to get over that.

Problem was she didn’t believe in the paranormal. She was a scientist, goddammit, trained to believe in what she could see and feel and touch, in what was illuminated under her microscope when she worked in an Emergency Room. Her experience nearly seven years before had been so surreal—she’d relegated it to high altitude hypoxia.

Tina ran hard. Sweat slicked her sides. Her breath came fast. She’d buried the memory of what happened in Bolivia. It came roaring back with a vengeance, almost as if it resented the hell out of the subterranean prison she’d confined it to at the very bottom of her psyche.

* * * *

Tina struggled against wind that wanted to flatten her, or worse, blow her off Illimani’s long summit ridgeline. She was by herself. Twenty-two hundred vertical feet separated her from her camp on the edge of the glacier. “At least I can still see,” she muttered. “And I got the summit.”

She glanced at her watch, illuminated in the beam of her headlamp. One in the morning. Normally, she would have waited until then to start climbing, but wind shrieking like a banshee had made it impossible to sleep. She’d set up her camp at eight p.m. and headed for the mountaintop without stopping to think too hard. She wanted Illimani’s summit. It was the second highest peak in Bolivia and a huge massif with five separate highpoints.

And now I’ve done it.

Careful, a different inner voice cautioned. Ninety percent of climbing accidents happen on the way down.

A vicious blast of wind buffeted her. Tina slammed one of her ice axes into the snow to anchor herself to the mountain. As if her inner voice had been prophetic, clouds descended, obliterating what had been a clear sky in a matter of minutes.

What the fuck? She peered through impenetrable muck. “Shit,” she spat. “I can’t see.” Surely the clouds were a momentary event. They’d pass by, especially in this wind. They had to. Minutes ticked by. Visibility eroded even further. She took a steadying breath and then another. No sat phone. No radio. No one even knew where she was. Yeah, I broke a bunch of really important rules.

This peak was supposed to be easy, one of her inner mavens whined.

Oh shut up.

“Got to pull myself together.” Tina spoke out loud to calm herself. She visualized where she’d been on the mile-long ridge. She’d passed the false summit so she had to be close to the lip that dropped off a fifty-degree cliff. Her heart thudded against her ribs. She panted from more than the twenty thousand foot altitude. She tried to swallow, but dry throat tissue grated against itself. Stooping, she gathered some snow in a glove, made a ball out of it, and placed it in her mouth.

Another blast of wind was so intense she planted her other axe. “Get going,” she instructed herself. “Now.”

Moving by feel, one painstaking step at a time, Tina worked out a rhythm. She probed the snow ahead with an axe. If it held, she moved down to it and stopped. To counteract the vertigo from navigating through thick fog, she counted steps. Her first guess was it wouldn’t take more than five hundred to reach the edge of the ridge. On three fifty-six, one of her axes punched through into open air. Tina threw her body backward, gasping. This was how climbers died. By getting cocky and making bad decisions.

She got to her feet; her legs shook. She shoved an axe into the snow and a chunk fell away. She moved a few degrees to the right; more snow flaked off. By the time she’d inscribed a forty-five degree arc, she knew she had to be at the end of the ridge. Tina fumbled at the hardware belt hanging from her waist and got an ice screw. She threaded it carefully into what felt like firm snow, clipped in a carabineer, and ran her rope through it. Next came a breaker bar attached to her harness so she could rappel down the steep part.

Her breath came fast. She moved more by feel than anything else. Her headlamp beam was weakening and she didn’t have fresh batteries. She tossed out a silent prayer to the god who took care of climbers, double-checked her rope and attachments, and turned to face the slope. Her ice axes dangled from her wrists; her crampon points bit into the snow. She backed down until she felt the slope steepen and then moved the hand that would control her descent out to the side. Her other one gripped the rope over her head to steady her descent.

The minute she put her full weight on her anchor, it ripped out of the snow. The rope, worthless now that it wasn’t attached to anything, hung through the breaker bar. An end whapped her in the face. Holy Christ. I’m falling…

She flailed her axes like a wild woman; one connected with something and held. Tina slammed in the other and her front points. She screamed. Wind ripped the sound away as soon as it left her throat. Fright balled her stomach into a burning knot. One of her crampon front points slipped.

Can’t stay put. Got to move down. No point in going up. Nothing solid to rap off of. Thoughts of falling to her death pounded through her head. To keep from going mad, she lectured herself.

“Move one thing at a time. Three solid points of attachment before I move anything. Test everything. Then test it again… Okay, let’s go.”

Finally, the angle of the slope eased. Her rope had been nothing but a pain in the ass, dangling from the breaker bar attached to her harness. She’d stabbed her front points through it time and time again. She let herself move a little faster. The edge of the glacier was the most welcome thing she’d ever found. She tugged the rope free and tried to coil it, but her hands shook so badly she couldn’t. Tina dropped the rope into the snow, sat on it, dropped her head into her hands, and cried. She was a long way from safety, but the sheer relief of being off the steep face was overwhelming.

The wind hadn’t let up at all. Though not as bad as it had been on the ridge, it was still gusting at forty or fifty miles an hour. She unbuckled her pack and forced herself to eat an energy bar, washed down with water from the bottle stashed in her parka to keep it from freezing. Her headlamp flickered. She shut it off.

Tina shivered. She was still a thousand feet above her camp and she had to cross a glacier riddled with crevasses. The transit would be child’s play on a sunny day; a night like this one, with near zero visibility, turned it into a deadly game of Russian roulette. If she’d brought a sleeping bag, she would have stayed put for what was left of the night.

She wasn’t even certain exactly where her camp was. She hadn’t thought to set wands to mark her route. She didn’t have a GPS with her. Tina struggled to her feet and buckled her pack into place. She’d made a series of neophyte climbing errors, beginning with assuming clear weather would last the next twenty-four hours. She’d badly underestimated Illimani. The mountain was laughing at her.

Tina thought about laughing back, but didn’t want to tempt fate. Besides, she didn’t feel much like laughing. She flicked her headlamp back on and checked her compass to make sure she wouldn’t descend the wrong side of the mountain. Back to counting steps, she contained her fear as best she could. The glacier wasn’t particularly steep, but…

A brutal chop of wind sent her sideways. She planted both axes; the snow beneath her gave way. Tina tumbled into blackness. Aw shit, it’s a crevasse, a crevasse, a crevasse, echoed in her mind. She crashed through two snow bridges. The third one held. She was afraid to breathe. Afraid to do anything to weaken her fragile hold on life. In the feeble beam of her headlamp, she glanced upward. Fifty feet. I fell fifty feet. Thank God nothing’s broken.

Snow bridges were always thicker at their ends. She moved ever so cautiously until she was right next to the smooth inner ice wall of her tomb. She slung an axe into the ice. It bounced off. She tried again. Same result. She kicked with her front points. After many attempts, she was sweating and panting. “Goddammit,” she shrieked. “Fuck.”

“Got to get hold of myself,” she muttered. “If I don’t, I’m as good as dead.”

Tina shut her eyes. If she couldn’t climb out with her tools, maybe she could pound in ice screws. They had threads. She wasn’t certain she had enough to make it all the way out, but she’d freeze to death if she didn’t keep moving. It was very cold in the crevasse. Colder than it had been out on the glacier.

It took a long time to twist the first ice screw in. The second one was easier. Using screws, carabineers, her rope, and jumars, she made it about twenty feet from the snow bridge when her headlamp died. “Shit.” She pounded impotently against the ice. “I can’t believe I was this stupid. Shit. Fuck. Damn it all to hell.”

I can curse all I want—I’m going to die here.

She hung limply in her harness. Her sweat-damp body shivered. The doctor part of her wondered how long it would take to die. Freezing to death was a lot like going to sleep. She wasn’t certain what time it was, but it couldn’t be much past four. Dawn was at least two hours away. Maybe she could hold on, but she didn’t think it likely.

A putrid smell filled her nostrils. It got even colder. “Human woman,” sounded deep in her mind in a strangely accented voice.

“Who said that?” Her neck twisted from side to side, but she couldn’t see a thing in the blackness.

“I offer you a chance to live.”

“How could you possibly do that?” Am I losing my mind? Hypoxia? Harness cutting off my wind?

“If I rescue you, you will return to me and live out your days with me in the Cordillera Real. You must give me your word.”

“Huh? What do you mean return? I’m already here.” Tina’s brain felt wrapped in cotton batting. None of this made sense. Maybe she was already dying and her mind was playing tricks on her.

“You will have seven years in your human world. Once it is over, you must return to me. Do you agree?”

What the hell? “Um, sure. If you can get me out of here, go for it.”

“Unlatch that thing holding you to the wall.”

Fear sluiced through her. Her hands tightened on the rope. “Not on your life.”

A macabre chuckle filled the icy hole under Illimani’s glacier. “No, doctor. It is not my life but yours.”

She started to ask how he knew she was a doctor when a high-pitched whistle bounced off the crevasse walls. The infernal screeching stabbed ice picks into her brain. Cold air closed around her. It smelled like a charnel pit, ripe with things dead long enough to rot. Her ice screw popped from the wall; she made a grab for the rope and closed her arms around it. Air currents jockeyed her upward and out onto the glacier.

Tina blinked. The thick cloud cover was gone. Between an almost full moon and a sky full of stars, she could see without her lamp. She started to coil the rope, but the same insistent air pushed her. “Okay, okay.” She held the mass of Perlon against her chest and staggered down the glacier. It was easy to avoid the crevasses now that she could see where they were.

Her mind rebelled at what just happened. Maybe she’d died in the crevasse or maybe she hadn’t fallen into one at all. Maybe she’d hit her head when she’d fallen off the ridge, had a seizure on the glacier, and this was a postictal state. She shook her head sharply, willing a return of rational thought.

“We are not done, doctor. Stop there.”

Tina tried to keep moving but her feet were mired in place. A glowing form took shape next to her. She stared up at it and gasped, surprised she had any adrenaline left to react. This isn’t possible. It can’t be happening. The thing was over seven feet tall; it shimmered so brightly, she couldn’t look directly at it.

An unseen force yanked one of her arms away from her body. The rope fell in a pile at her feet. Bright light descended; it cut through her jacket and the clothing beneath. She tried to twist her body away, but couldn’t. Blood welled and dripped onto the snow. Golden light enveloped her.

“What are you doing?” Terror skittered along her nerves; it made her shake uncontrollably.

“You made me a promise, doctor. I am sealing your word with a blood bond. Seven years. If you break your vow, I will kill you.”

Tina opened her mouth to protest, to tell the thing it hadn’t told her everything before she’d agreed, but the pulsating light vanished. She turned in a circle to make certain she was alone. Blood dripped from her arm, staining the snow crimson. Her tent shone pale yellow in the moonlight not a hundred yards away. She staggered to it, uncertain what had just happened to her.

I can’t think about this now. If I do, it will drive me mad. Inside her tent, she stripped off her jackets and long underwear. She flicked on a lighter and took a look at her arm. It needed stitches, but they’d have to wait. She was just too tired. As a stopgap, she doused her arm with Betadine, wrapped it with a pressure bandage, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

* * * *

Tina glanced around. It took a moment to orient herself. She was still about a mile-and-a-half from home. Colorado sunshine shone warmly on her, but she was chilled to her bones.

After leaving Bolivia, she’d returned to the rental house she shared with Craig Robson in Denver. He’d been guiding clients in Antarctica, so she had the house to herself. At first, she’d thought that was good, but the harder she tried to make sense out of what had happened to her on Illimani, the more tangled things got. She wondered if she were having a late schizophrenic break, or if she’d truly traded away her humanity in a pact with the devil.

Craig had blown through their front door one day in mid-January with a huge smile on his face and a ring in his pocket. Tina grimaced and forced herself to run faster. It was hard to think about the day Craig asked her to marry him. There’d been no way she could be his wife. She had no idea what she’d gotten herself into in Bolivia, no inkling of what the ramifications would be. The whole thing was too weird to even try to explain and she was frightened she’d put Craig at risk if she told him anything. Even without Bolivia, she’d had other reservations as well. She hadn’t been ready to marry anyone—not then, and not in the years since. The look on his face when she’d turned him down still haunted her.

She slammed into her house, blowing hard. Usually, she cooled down. Today she was too edgy, nerves jangling with tension. Maybe she should put in another few miles… Tina poured coffee into an oversized mug and slugged some back. It burned, but its bitterness tasted good. She savored it and waited for the blast of caffeine to hit.

Cup gripped in her hand, she forced herself into her study. No more running today. She had things to do. Reaching down, she booted up her computer. There was no getting around it. She had to go back to Bolivia. If she didn’t, she had no doubt the next supernatural visit would mean her death. Better to die on her feet in a direct confrontation than pinned to her mattress.

The Microsoft menu scrolled across the screen. She brought up the Internet and typed in the URL for Craig’s guiding service. If she got really lucky, he’d have a trip to Bolivia planned in the next couple of months. She wanted to see Craig one last time before she faced whatever had hauled her out of the crevasse and threatened her this morning in her bedroom. She’d signed on as team doctor for his expeditions over the last couple of years, but they’d never talked about anything personal. This time she’d gird her courage and apologize.

AnnGimpelAbout the Author: 

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains.

It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved.

Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers her solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One ofAnn’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.
In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.
@AnnGimpel (for Twitter)

Author Spotlight: Susan Mac Nicol & GIVEAWAY!!!

What a treat I have for you today! Susan Mac Nicol, author of the charming and skillfully written romance, “Cassandra by Starlight”, is launching her book tour right here!!!  Along with a witty interview, she’s also graciously donated signed e-copies of “Cassandra by Starlight” and “Together in Starlight”  as part of  an exciting giveaway. It’s easy to enter . . . just click HERE or on the following link.

Before we get started, I must encourage you to keep reading after the interview for more information about Susan’s  novel including a great excerpt.  “Cassandra by Starlight” is garnering rave reviews from romance readers everywhere so be sure to check it out!

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Susan . . . how in the world did a horror and thriller fan end up penning such a delightful love story?

And therein lies the tale. I have to tell the truth. Bear with me while I ramble. I had an idea for a story based on something that happened in my home country of Essex when a concrete block was thrown onto a woman’s car while she was travelling on the motorway. I wondered what would happen if this had been a person, and in some strange quirk of fate, two people met who wouldn’t have in the normal cause of events.

I role play in the car when I’m travelling to work. I’ve always done this, since I was kid. Talk to myself like a crazy person, act out stuff. I’ve never wanted to be an actress though. I’m not able to show emotions easily like they have to do.  I used to spend four hours a day travelling to and from work each day for over four years. It’s no secret I needed to do something to amuse myself. I role played this whole story out for weeks, putting on the voices, acting out the scenes (stop shaking your head in sheer disbelief, I swear this is true). Eventually I thought perhaps I might have the makings of a book so I should write it down. So that’s what I did and eight weeks later I had the full Starlight trilogy. Obsessed was a word I think my family used to describe me.

Rumor has it that Bennett, the scrumptious male lead in “Cassandra”, is based on a real person. I don’t suppose you’d share his identity and why he served as inspiration, would you? (I seek “atonement” for my prying questions. )

Swoon. I love any opportunity to talk about my one and only fan crush. I am *coughs* years old and act like a teenage girl. in this regard. My family are still disbelieving of this whole affair. The lovely, delicious British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch, (it is his real name, honest)  was the inspiration for Bennett. I watched him in Sherlock and other stage plays like Frankenstein and fell head over heels for the man. His exceptional talent, his on screen presence and just his general being was something I wanted to recreate in a character. I guess I couldn’t have the real thing so I made one of my own.

I was even invited onto a local radio station to talk about this with a fellow Cumber fan, the radio show host, Tracy Cooper. The topic of Benedict and handcuffs in the same sentence definitely got the blood flowing I can tell you…

This tenuous connection has bought me a lot of pleasure, not least in meeting fellow fans who then read my books because of this, but in just being part of a fandom. It’s been a real hoot. I send everything that mentions Benedict to his publicist for the ‘scrapbook’ as I feel it’s only courteous to do so. So this post will be winging its way to her too…  (Deb’s note: Benedict also starred in one of my favorite movies, “Atonement” with James McAvoy and Keira Knightly)

You tackled a hotly debated, controversial topic in “Cassandra” . . . female on male rape. I’ve worked with domestic violence shelters so I understand the public’s misconception about how this could happen. But it does. Have your readers responded negatively or positively to the story line? Did your publisher have concerns?

This was the truly amazing underlying facet of this book. I researched the topic ad nauseum, participated in online forums, read harrowing accounts of survivors and used one of them, an account by a man called James Landrith, as the underlying trauma in my book. Imagine my surprise when I started promoting the book and James himself contacted me to say he had experienced such an event himself. Imagine his surprise when I told him he was the original inspiration for the research. We started a dialogue which continues to this day and he’s featured me on his blogs as well. He’s also read the books, and loved them. The biggest validation for how I’d written the scenes was his assurance that I’d tackled the trauma with compassion and realism and that I think is key.

The reactions I’ve had from people so far have all been positive, I’ve been cited on various anti rape forums and they understand and agree with how I tackled with the subject. My publisher is as always incredibly supportive of this scene and they promote anything to do with it to their readers, as they know the subject has been tastefully handled.

You can read all about the various posts and discussions we’ve done together here and find links to other stories on the topic too

The Starlight Series second book, “Together In Starlight”, is a continuation of Bennett and Cassie’s story. What can we expect in book two? Will there be a book three?

Together in Starlight is the second book in the series and yes, there is another called ‘Starlight and Promises.’ The second story takes the couple from London to Tibet, where Bennett is filming his remake of ‘Lost Horizon’. This book very much deals with past events coming back to haunt various characters. Cassie has her own demons to face and their friend, Erica, from the theatre they own, also has a very harrowing experience with someone from her past. Of course Cassie is embroiled in this as well , as she can’t seem to stay out of trouble for long…

But the biggest ‘haunting’ is the one that takes place in the theatre, the Val, in London. Some fairly supernatural events begin to happen, events that have poor Bennett tearing his lovely auburn curls out, and things are never quite what they seem.

“Starlight and Promises’ completes the story of Bennett and Cassie, with more adventures for the couple, and culminates in an event on a tropical island which I hope will make everyone breathe a sigh of sheer delight.

Do you intend to keep writing romances or have you decided to bridge to the “dark side?” What’s on the horizon? I’d love to see a horror based romance from you.

I’m happy to say I might be able to meet that need depending on your definition of ‘horror’! I currently have quite a few books in the works at my publishers and we’re busy figuring out the sequence we need to publish them in.

‘Saving Alexandria’ is a story of a woman trying to fight some pretty nasty demons from her past, and needing to find a saviour to help her make her way through. It’s an S and M themed story, fairly erotic and certainly has its very dark moments.

“Double Alchemy’ is a two book contemporary paranormal romance series about a very dishy and controlling Warlock who has a darker alter ego, and a woman who has to cope with them both. It’s about witchcraft, the Witch Trials in Essex during the 17th century and dealing with malevolent darkness and beings and of course, magyck.

‘Born Human’ is a real diversion from my norm, being a gritty, dark detective thriller with a lot of romance, and a very nasty bisexual serial killer. It tackles a fairly controversial topic and some of the scenes in this book might not be for the faint hearted who expect a true romance. It also starts my foray into writing erotic gay male sex scenes.

And finally, there’s ‘Loving Matthew’, my first concerted effort into the gay male romance genre, a genre I read prolifically and adore. This is the story of Matthew and Shane, two very different men who meet in tragic circumstances (I do like those, don’t I), sparks fly and Shane, loving and nurturing soul that he is, has to find a way to bring Matthew out of his dark, tormented past and fall in love again.

Enough there to make everyone happy, you think?

Is it difficult to balance your “day job” from your writing? When do you find time to burn up the keyboard?

I do resent my day job for taking away my writing time. But it’s an unfortunate evil that pays the bills *chuckle* and I have to do it. I love my day job luckily or else I might have a permanent scowl on my face.

I write during lunch times at work, in the half hour when I get to work early and have time to spare, and sometimes in the half an hour after work before I leave for the day, as I let the traffic die down. Then I come home and write from about seven pm to midnight, one o’clock in the morning. Every day, no cease and desist. Weekends are also spent writing, at least five hours each day. My poor family have got used to me being totally oblivious by now.

And now for the “fantasy” question . . . If you found a magic stone that could transport you to any place, any time in history, where would you go and why?

Ah, that’s easy. I want to go back and catch Jack the Ripper. London 1888. I have a real reason for wanting to do this and in fact, I wrote about this exact wish in a post I did for my publisher back in December. So if you take a look at this, you’ll see exactly where, when and why I want to go back in time…

Wow! Thanks for joining me today, Susan. I’ve had fun and I know my readers have enjoyed learning more about you, as well.

Speaking of readers . . . I promised you more information about “Cassandra By Starlight” and here it is:

Cassandra by StarlightCassandra-by-Starlight-CVR_3_resized

Susan Mac Nicol

Contemporary Romance, Suspense
Boroughs Publishing Group – –

Book Summary:

Falling in love makes Cassie Wallace’s everyday and  normal life much more complicated that she’d ever thought it could be.

Being an independent and somewhat unconventional woman, she’d never  intended to fall head over heels for a handsome, charming and younger  man, one who lived a life she’d only ever imagined before on the big  screen.

But Bennett Saville, up and coming star of theatre and film and filthy  rich to boot, was one such man. From the tips of his shiny Armani  loafers to the auburn curls on his head, he turns Cassie’s world  upside down. From their initial tragic meeting to the dangers that  threaten them both as their relationship grows more intense, Cassie  finds herself a willing participant in Bennett’s world. She learns  about a life in show business and living with a man who is constantly  on show to the world – not to mention having to face the fact that  women throw themselves at him with regular abandon.

Cassie embraces the challenges as only she can, in her usual feisty  fashion, lending humour and compassion to their developing  relationship. And when violence and fear comes calling for them both,  it takes the two of them to hold the dangers at bay and face the  events together.


The day the sky fell changed Cassie Wallace’s world forever. She woke up that morning with the expectation that this day would be like any other. She also had a slight hangover from the abundance of wine she’d drunk the night before to try and get through a blind date organised by her work colleague, Sarah.

The evening had been a total disaster. Not only had the man been an absolute misogynist, one of the cardinal male sins on Cassie’s unwritten list, he’d also had a habit of leering at her chest every time he spoke as if he thought it might talk back to him.

She’d smiled politely whilst thinking she’d like to take his smarmy public school tie and shove it down his throat. When she’d finally left at around eleven, she hadn’t been able to get away fast enough.

She stood in her bedroom, checking her outfit in the mirror and sighed.

Was it too much to ask to find a decent man just to share things with and have a good time? They all seemed to be absolute idiots and in the old but true cliché, only interested in one thing.

Cassie had been out on a few dates in the past few months but somehow she never made it past the first one. A previous date gone wrong had told her she was too independent and perhaps a little bit ‘emotionally challenged, not affectionate enough’ for him.

She’d shrugged this off but it had hurt her deep down especially as she knew it to be true.

My bloody expectations aren’t even that high, she thought in exasperation as she fastened her necklace. It’s not as if I’m such a great bloody catch myself! Middle-aged and not really all that exciting. I’ll take what I can get within reason.

Cassie smoothed her skirt down over her hips and picked up her handbag.

When she left the house at six thirty, it was a typical dark English winter morning. Forty-five minutes later she was sitting in the traffic on the motorway, listening to the news bulletin.

“Bloody idiot,” she mumbled in between bites of a banana that she had hastily grabbed on her way out. “He wouldn’t know a bloody budget if his life depended on it. Silly sod has got no idea how to run a bloody country.”

She crept forward in her Honda Jazz at about two miles an hour, watching the traffic in front which seemed to have ground to a halt for no reason at all.

I really need to try and find something closer to home, she thought, not for the first time. This travelling lark is really starting to piss me off. Four hours a day in traffic is not my idea of time well spent.

Cassie wasn’t sure what other quality pastimes she’d be engaging in if she did have more free time, given her current ‘lack of male’ situation but she supposed she’d find something. Join a book club perhaps, or find more time to get to the gym. She might even start writing that novel she’d always planned on doing.

Her fingers impatiently drummed on the steering wheel in time to a melody on the radio. In response to another bulletin by the newscaster regarding the level of binge drinking in the county, she burst into a further diatribe. “For God’s sake, let the bloody idiots lay where they fall. If they had any brains they wouldn’t let it get that far so they needed an ambulance to take them to A and E. It’s my taxpaying money that’s looking after these morons!”

She glanced at the clock on the display. Seven thirty a.m. She’d be lucky to make it in on time today.

The story of my life, she thought resignedly. Slow death by traffic jam.

The traffic still seemed to show no signs of moving any time soon. She switched off the engine and took out her Kindle. She may as well catch up on her reading whilst she had nothing better to do.

Her concentration span was low as she tried to read. Last night’s ‘date’ kept replaying itself in random snippets of conversation. Cassie could still hear Ron’s supercilious comment about women needing to have a man in their lives to keep them focused on what was important—the man and the provision of all his needs.

She’d almost choked on her wine when she’d heard this and only just stopped herself retorting sarcastically that as a man’s needs were so simple, the only ‘provision’ they really needed was a soft toy shaped like a pair of boobs to play with and talk at. As she had very little money in her purse other than her taxi fare home, she’d stopped herself.

After the hell she’d been through sitting and listening to Ron’s drivel, the least she’d make him do was pay for dinner. Cassie had made a decision after last night. She’d stay home with her own company for the near future, with a bottle of wine and a couple of decent movies. She’d rather drool over a virtual Mark Harmon in NCIS than a real life douche bag like the Ronalds of his world. As for sex—well, that was what vibrators were made for.

It was nearly ten minutes later before the car in front of her re-started its engine and she followed suit and sped up to about twenty miles an hour as the queue took flight. She settled in as it got back up to the more respectable speed of fifty miles an hour.

As she drove she glanced idly up at the foot bridges to see the people strolling with dogs, on bicycles and footing it on their way to work.

At the bridge just ahead she saw a solitary figure leaning over looking down at the motorway below. She slowed down a little. Ever since those incidents a few weeks ago when someone had thrown a concrete bucket off the bridge at a passing car, she tended to be wary of people standing watching the traffic.

The figure didn’t appear to have anything in its hands but then she had only caught a glimpse of it before turning her eyes back to the road. She increased her speed as the traffic flowed easier.

There was no warning, just a sudden deafening bang of metal as the windscreen of her car collapsed inwards. Cassie screamed in terror as glass flew towards her like wafer thin slivers from a frozen icicle. Her hands left the steering wheel in panic, her foot pressing down on the accelerator.

The Honda Jazz went out of control, spinning around like a dirt dervish. Debris from the windscreen flew like lethal missiles around the interior of the car. Cassie cried out in pain as she was subject to a vicious assault by anything lying loose in her vehicle. She tried to cover her face in an instinctive reflex but her left arm seemed unresponsive. The pain horrifying. She whimpered as she glanced down and saw the bone shard sticking out.

In her pain and terror she didn’t notice that the car had stopped spinning. Everything went quiet. Cassie lay slumped in the driver seat, dazed and unresponsive as the shock set in. She could hear the sounds of people shouting and heard someone asking her if she was all right.

She vaguely registered the sound of screeching metal as someone tried to pull the driver door open. It was as if everything was being done underwater. The sounds were muted and her brain was sluggish.

The older man looking in at her from the road was speaking but she couldn’t hear what he was saying. Cassie looked at him blankly. She couldn’t see clearly, as if a can of fine red spray-paint had been aimed at her and the nozzle depressed, coating her eyes. She tried to move her body but the pain in her right leg was excruciating.

She watched dully as the man outside starting pulling away metal struts and twisted the door to get inside to her. She could hear his voice vaguely now, a rough London Cockney accent as he spoke reassuringly whilst trying to free her.

“All right, darling? Just stay calm and I’ll try and get to you. The ambulance is on its way. They’ve told me not to move you so I just want to try get in and keep you company till they arrive. You look as if you could do with a bit of company. Just stay with me now. Don’t go anywhere.”

He smiled at her, trying to keep her reassured. With a final tug at the door, he made enough of a space to squeeze in slightly and he took her right hand, avoiding the bad condition of her left arm with its broken bone. Her hand was freezing and he rubbed it gently.

“There we go. That should feel better. You just stay calm now and we’ll have you back to your old man in no time.” He continued holding her hand, talking to her as she slipped in and out of consciousness.

In one of her lucid periods she raised an unsteady hand to her face to wipe her eyes. The fog cleared a little and she was able to focus, then desperately wished she hadn’t. Lying in front of her, across the bonnet, was a face, pulped and looking as if dark sticky jam had been smeared all over it.

She could see the eyes open, looking at her and she could see the mouth forming words before she screamed and screamed and eventually the fog of blackness claimed her and the face could be seen no more.

Doctor Ian Spencer frowned as he read the patient chart in his hand. He glanced at the patient, an old man in his seventies, matted grey hair curling around his face like tendrils of an octopus, framing a bucolic face of cherry red, his bulbous nose caked with fresh snot.

“Up to your old tricks again, Terry?” the ER doctor asked resignedly. “I thought perhaps last time we had reached an understanding of sorts?”

The old man chuckled hoarsely.

“The drink beckoned again, Doctor, I’ve told you before, cider waits for no man.” He coughed, his body wracked with spasms. The doctor motioned with a hand to the waiting nurse who offered Terry a glass of water. He drank it greedily and lay back in the hospital bed.

Ian Spencer made a notation in his patient’s chart.

“You realise this time, Terry, you’ve really outdone yourself? You had what we call a minor varicose bleed which basically means your insides leaked with blood because they couldn’t do what they were supposed to do. I managed to stabilise you and you’ve been in intensive care for two days. Given the state of your liver you were very lucky not to have it worse. As it is, you’ll need to be here a few more days before I can release you.”

“I’m very grateful to you, Doctor.” Terry leered at the nurse who moved out of the way of his groping left hand. “I can always count on you to put me right.”

“Not always, Terry, not always.” Ian passed the chart to the nurse and continued on his way. He’d  just  completed  his  surgical rounds  and  was  walking  down  the  hospital  corridor  when he heard an ambulance arrive and saw the frenetic activity bursting through the double doors. Heheard the ambulance staff calling out their incoming triage procedures to the attending doctor and watched as a trolley with a woman covered in blood was wheeled into the waiting operating theatre.

One of the staff nurses, Judy, a good friend, hurried past him.

“I don’t believe this one,” she muttered to him. “Some poor woman minding her own business on the motorway and somebody falls on top of her car. We were lucky no one else was hurt as well when she spun around or we’d be running out of space this morning.”

“What about the man who fell?”

“He’s dead, poor bugger.” Judy’s voice was terse as she hurried off.

It was some hours later in passing Ian saw his colleague, fellow trauma surgeon Phil Moodley, come out of the operating theatre where the woman had been wheeled.

“Phil!” Ian hurried to catch up with him. “Wait up.” Phil turned and proffered a tired smile when he saw Ian.

“Ian, how are things? I’m just on my way to catch a few minutes doze. It’s been a long day.” “How did things go in there?” Ian motioned to the OR. “I heard she was hit by a man falling on her car.”

“Yes, it was very bad. The poor woman has a ruptured spleen, a hairline skull fracture, a broken femur and radius, and a wealth of lacerations and internal bruising.” He frowned.

“She also has a small foreign body embedded in her left temple. It’s in an awkward place and fairly deep. I’ve recommended not removing it at this time. I’m not sure it would be prudent. It doesn’t appear itself to be life threatening. She’ll be in intensive care for some time. I need to keep an eye on her for any possible embolism. She’ll probably need some physical therapy afterwards if there are no complications.”

He squinted at Ian with tired eyes. “You seem interested in this one, Ian? Did you know anyone involved?”

Ian shook his head. “I was involved in a similar situation some years ago when I was at Lakeview Hospital and that one—that one I did know. The person that fell though, not the victim.”

Phil nodded his head.

“This woman was very lucky, the young man was not. He was dead at the scene. His relatives are on their way.”

Ian nodded. “Thanks, Phil. You’d best get off and get that sleep, you look all out of it.”

Phil patted Ian’s arm and wandered down towards the staff room. Ian wouldn’t tell Phil the real reason for his interest. It was too personal and no one in the hospital knew anything about his reason for leaving Lakeview three years ago and joining Tilhurst Hospital on the outskirts of Essex.

In 2009, his wife Sandra had jumped off a foot bridge straight into the path of a passing mini-van. To this day he had no idea why. The mini-van driver, a young man called Freddy Clifford, who had just become a father, had died in the incident with Sandy. The feelings of guilt for both Sandy’s and the man’s death (he should’ve known what was going on in his own marriage for God’s sake!) had never left him.

He’d left Lakeview and started again where no one knew his history and no one could feel sympathy for him. He felt he didn’t deserve it. He was sure a psychiatrist would have some insight to offer on his reaction but he had never engaged with one, preferring as he did to manage it himself.

Ian made his way over to the nurses’ station outside intensive care. He saw Nurse Angie, a bubbly young woman with bleached blonde hair and a Carry On set of breasts, sitting behind the desk. She smiled as she saw him approach.

There were more than a couple of nurses who’d tried to form a relationship with him but none of them had been successful so far.

“Doctor. What can I do for you?”

“The woman that Dr. Patel has just operated on—can you tell me a little bit about her? How’s she doing?”

Angie consulted her notes.

“Let me see. Hmm, she’s in a private ICU room, so she must have great insurance. Room 310. Cassie Wallace, forty-seven years old, divorced. Her sister is coming in to see her. She’s on her way from Kent.”

She looked at Ian enquiringly. “Has Dr. Patel asked you to keep an eye on her?”

Ian shook his head. “No, just curious about how she’s doing. It just seems so tragic, minding your own business then POW! You find yourself in this situation. Thanks for the info, Angie.”

Ian made his way towards Room 310. He couldn’t say why he was so interested in this woman, only that he felt he had to find out more about her.

He clothed himself up with a mask and gloves and nodded at the ICU nurses as he walked through the main ward to the private ones at the back. The hum of machines and the absolute quiet in the ward was strangely restful. Ian reached Room 310, opened the door and slipped in.

Cassie Wallace lay on her back, surrounded by soft light from the equipment. The constant beep of the life support machines and monitoring equipment comforted Ian. This unit was dedicated to keeping people alive with the best care the hospital could provide. Cassie Wallace was in good hands.

Cassie had her left arm in a splint, her fingers cold and pale like soft, limp white gloves. Her right leg with its broken femur rested on the bed covers. Ian guessed she had pins and rods inside keeping it together.

Her face was battered and bruised from the accident. He could see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Her pale strawberry blonde hair was spread across the pillow like soft gold straw, with a large bald patch on the left side where Dr Patel had shaved her skull.

Even through the cuts and bruises, Ian could see she was a very attractive woman. Not just pretty or beautiful, but with a look of her own that even under current circumstances made her look younger than her forty-seven years. She reminded him very much of a curvier Michelle Pfeiffer. A noise at the door made him turn. Judy stood there, looking surprised to see him.

“Ian? What are you doing in here?” she whispered.

“I was just checking up on her. I know I’m not her doctor but I really wanted to see how she was doing.”

“It’s all right, Ian.” Judy patted him on the arm. “She can do with all the help she can get. I need to check her vital signs now. Do you want to stick around?”

“No Judes, I’ll let you get on with your job. Thanks.” Ian left the nurse with her patient and made his way back towards the main reception.

SueAbout The Author:

Susan Mac Nicol was born in Leeds, UK, and left for South Africa when  she was eight. She returned to the UK thirty years later and now lives  in Essex. Her debut novel ‘Cassandra by Starlight’, the first in a  trilogy, has recently been published by Boroughs Group Publishing in  the US.

Sue has written since she was very young, and never thought she would  see herself being a Romance writer, being a horror/psychological  thriller reader all her life. But the Romance genre is now something  very close to her heart and she intends continuing the trend.

Susan’s Social Links


Meet The Author: L.M. PRUITT

Winged Button 300 x 225Today’s blog is chock full of delicious tidbits – an author interview, a review of new paranormal release, WINGED, and an enticing excerpt that will leave you wanting more.

I’m so excited to host best-selling author, L.M. Pruitt. I love her books. I love her wit. And I love her new paranormal release, WINGED. (My review follows the interview.) She’s graciously agreed to tolerate my need to pry into authors lives and has even answered a few questions which have absolutely nothing to do with writing. 

Ms. Pruitt, you have an incredible wit and humor which I find endearing.  I refer to your author bio which I will post at the end of the interview. Killing Bamboo . . . twice? Not allowed on the card aisle of any store because of your giggles? LOL . . . see, I’m laughing. So I guess it came as a surprise when I read the blurb for Winged. I assumed I’d find a thread of humor. Instead I discovered an intriguing hook that sent me scurrying to buy the book.

Have you always written paranormal? What other genres interest you and why?

–The very first book I wrote could be loosely qualified as chick lit. I say loosely because it was a truly horrible book, lol. But it was the first one I finished, so I’m proud about that. After that first book (and an aborted attempt at a second one), I switched to urban fantasy/paranormal romance. I’ve also written one book in what could be termed crime fiction/noir, which was probably the funnest thing I’ve written to date. If I ever get a free schedule again, I’m going to delve deeper in to that genre.

When you develop a character, what comes first – the visual or the psyche? In other words, do you visualize a face and say, “That’s her!” or do you imagine the inner angst and later add the physical layers? And please tell us a little about how you came upon the idea of Winged.

–Let me take those questions in order so I don’t get confused, lol. As to which came first, it really depends on the character. I’ve had some characters, such as Jude, where I worked from the outside in, and others, like Cari and Joanne, who sort of sprang fully formed from my mind, no assembly required.

As to where the idea for WINGED came from, it was sort of the meshing of various bits and pieces of ideas and research. I know that’s not entirely helpful, lol, but that’s really the best I’ve got. The book and series were something I let stew for a while, convinced I could wait until later to write, until finally the book and characters said, “You’re writing us now.”

You’ve released several books already and I’m told more is on the way. I think every author has a favorite, born from a special character or plot that still resonates inside us. What has been your favorite book so far, and why?

–This is a tough call. I mentioned earlier that the crime fiction novel I wrote, TAKEN was the funnest to write and that still stands. It really was just fun, from start to finish. But as far as favorite, I’d say TAKEN and WINGED run neck and neck. Writing WINGED, I got to combine a number of interests and really write about something that I find intriguing. I also look at it as a chance to really expand and clarify my voice as a writer.

Is there anything you would have done differently as an author before you were published? And where do you see yourself in five years?

–Despite the mistakes I made, I’m going to say no—because if I changed something I might not end up where I am and I’m pretty stoked about where I am. As to where I see myself in five years, I want to be writing full time, still sharing great stories and making people laugh and cry. And hopefully I’ve hit “The List” a time or two, lol

And now for some non-romantic fun . . .

I’ve given you a magic stone. It has the power to transport you to any time, any place. Where are you going and why?

The Titanic on it’s fateful maiden voyage. Because I’m a sucker for history and as long as I can get out alive, I’d want to be there to see everything I’ve read and studied about.

What animal would you say best describes you and why? (Notice I used an animal and not a plant! LOL)

I’d have to say a cat—because I’m pretty good at being solo, when I want your attention I’ll pretty much demand it, and I like to take naps.


L.M. Pruitt has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember. A native of Florida with a love of New Orleans, she has the uncanny ability to find humor in most things and would probably kill a plastic plant. She is the author of the best-selling Jude Magdalyn series, the Moon Rising series, and the Frankie Post series. She is currently at work on the next Jude Magdalyn book, Shades of Blood. She makes her home in Florida with two cats—one smart, the other an idiot.

Facebook page:!/pages/LM-Pruitt/364776895104




Winged e-bookI love angels. Good. Bad. Fallen. Flying. Handsome. Ugly . . . wait, I don’t think I’ve ever read about an ugly angel. Strike that. Anyway, I love angels. So a book with the title, WINGED, and a blurb that goes like this . . .

I fell from the Talmadge Bridge the week before I turned thirty.
I was given a choice: Go to Heaven. Go back to my life in Savannah. Or spend eternity fighting evil under the direction of the archangels.
I chose the demons–and the angels.
I chose the Winged.
. . . was sure to grab my attention. And it did. Page after page.

Ms. Pruitt has woven an intriguing tale in WINGED, using her proven ability to build vibrant, visual worlds and fill them with multi-faceted characters who remain with you long after the last page is turned.

WINGED is staged in a basic heaven/hell, angels vs. demons scenario. Nothing else is this book can be classified as “basic”.
Joanne Watson dies saving a baby. She’s greeted in Limbo by a curmudgeonly clerk who offers her 3 options. She can go back to her old life. She can go to heaven. Or she can join an elite group of fighters known as the Winged. However, if she chooses the third option, she faces permanent expulsion from heaven. Much to the clerk’s dismay, she chooses the Winged.
What she learns later is that she must first past a rigorous training camp ruled by the Archangels. If Joanne could have changed her mind upon arrival at the camp, I’m sure she would have. Combat training for the chosen humans proves much tougher than Joanne realized. She’s a bit fragile at first but knows she must pass all the tests to get her wings. It’s run like a military boot camp. There’s peer pressure, bullies, endurance tests and hard partying. Yes, this group of soldiers enjoy mortal vices but are exempt from death unless it comes at the hand of a demon or another Winged.
Outspoken, sarcastic, witty, and tough, Joanne proves her mettle and eventually wins grudging approval. She also snares the attention of Raphael, an archangel who, pardon the pun, takes her under his wing for some personal tutelage.
WINGED is the first book in this exciting paranormal series. UPRISING is scheduled to release in April. Trust me, after reading WINGED, you’ll be on the waiting list for the next one!

I used to think normalcy was overrated. I had normal. I had a mother, a father, the requisite sibling both annoying and funny. The boyfriend I’d had forever who was on the verge of proposing.

I had normal. And I wanted more.

I wanted adventure. Excitement. Anything to prove I wasn’t ordinary. Because in my mind, in my ignorance–or innocence, which term is correct would be debatable–being normal meant I’d failed. That I meant nothing.

I wanted to mean something. Anything.

I think I can safely say I was a fool.

You don’t appreciate normal until it’s gone. The same breakfast, the same lunch, the same dinner. The phone call that comes in right as you’re closing the store down. The kiss good morning and the one goodnight. Complete and total normalcy.

You don’t appreciate it–don’t understand it–until it’s gone.

I died six years ago. Or six weeks. Depends on where you were, when it happened and after.

The after–that’s when life got interesting.

My name is Joanne. Joanne Watson. What I am–is Winged.

Spotlight Author: Sheila Mary Taylor

SheilaMaryTaylor. . . and an exceptional giveaway!

Ms. Taylor is offering FIVE paperback and FIVE ebook copies of her new release, “Pinpoint”. Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the contest but first check out my interview with this incredibly gifted author. Keep going because you’ll also find a blurb for “Pinpoint”.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m excited to welcome today’s spotlight author, Sheila Mary Taylor, who promises to share a little bit about herself and a lot about her exciting new thriller, “Pinpoint”.

And I am just as excited to be here on this wonderful website of yours, Deb. Thank you so much for hosting me today. As an introduction, your readers may be interested in watching this very short book trailer made by my granddaughter Katie Belshaw, which sets the tone and the main conflict of the novel with some incredibly atmospheric music.

 Sheila, when I read the blurb for “Pinpoint“, I immediately thought of a line from “Marmion” by Walter Scott:  Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. It sounds like a delicious mix of legal thriller and Psycho.

Now that’s a coincidence. “Marmion” was one of my Scottish mother’s favorite poems (she was a poet herself) and she read it to me so often that the words are still like music to my ears. I wonder if they had some influence on my writing, because not only does Pinpoint have this tangled web at its core, but my work in progress actually has it in its title. Can you believe it? Dance to a Tangled Web.

In this mix of legal thriller and Psycho, I go into the heads of not only my main character Julia, a criminal lawyer, who cannot remember the events leading up to her separation from her beloved twin brother at the age of ten, but also into those of Paul Moxon, the detective hunting the escaped Sam Smith, and of course Sam Smith himself. And it was the writing in Smith’s p.o.v. that I found the most fascinating and also the most difficult. Both Julia and Smith were severely damaged as children, but the burning question was to discover whether they were connected or whether Smith has been so clever that he has duped Julia into thinking he might be her brother. Additionally, Julia is caught between Smith and Paul Moxon, and this psychological conflict is also central to the plot.

Where did you get the idea for the story?

I always find it difficult to answer this question, because there is never just one idea to a novel. It’s is a very complex set of ideas that seem to come from nowhere and weave themselves around a character who has a problem. I was due to attend a writers’ weekend in England some years ago and the guest of honor was to be a top London agent. He asked every delegate to write the first chapter of a “Woman in Jeopardy” novel. Because my son is a criminal defense lawyer, I would often hear about some of the unusual clients he had, and I was sure I could adapt one of them to create the kind of premise the agent required. I was also really interested in the development of twins and their relationship, as my father was a psychologist and it was one of the subjects we often talked about, nurture versus nature and all that. So the idea of having a female lawyer being threatened by someone she thinks is a long lost loved one jumped into my head, and it just grew from there. I actually won that competition, but when asked to write the next 10,000 words, the agent’s reader didn’t like it! A few years later I rewrote it, changed it dramatically, and voila, here it is now.

Writing a story with such detailed courtroom scenes must have required a great deal of research. Did you use a research assistant, professional experts or just dive in at the library?

I absolutely loved the research I did, until it almost took over my life. I didn’t use the library, but went straight to the top experts in the business, who were all ever so willing to help. I also spent hours in the Manchester Crown Court and the Magistrate’s Courts, where a lot of the action of Pinpoint takes place. I visited police stations and was shown around some of the normally hidden recesses. My middle son, one of Manchester’s top criminal lawyers at the time, answered every question I asked him, and I was also extremely lucky to meet a retired Greater Manchester Police Superintendent living in Menorca where we live for part of the year. He also gave me invaluable help, so I was able to place two of my main characters right at the heart of the conflict – the prosecution and the defense – knowing that my facts were all correct.  For other aspects of the novel, I was smuggled into Strangeways Prison to witness a female lawyer interviewing a murder client, took a ride in an ambulance, attended a course in self-protection, masqueraded as a social worker, and I even ventured into lesser known seedy areas of Manchester and its surrounds, which every big city has but seldom publicizes. Oh, it was such fun doing all the research – I didn’t want to stop!

What else do you have planned? More thrillers?

At the moment no thrillers, although I’m sure there will be more. My work in progress, almost finished, with just a final edit to complete before it is published by Taylor Street Books (the similar name is a mere coincidence), is a kind of romantic drama. Dance to a Tangled Web has three main characters, just as Pinpoint has, and each one has a major dilemma in their lives, which gradually end up all woven together in a tangled web of love, loss, deceit, tragedy and more love. The story is very loosely based on the ballet Giselle, so there is a slight touch of the paranormal from one of the main characters. But I don’t want to say too much, as I would hate to spoil it for my readers.

You live such an exciting life – part of the year in Cape Town, part of the year in the UK and/or Spain . . . wow! When do you find time to write?

When you want to write as badly as I want to write, then you somehow find the time. The actual travelling from one home to another is very distracting, but once I get there I absolutely love each and every one of them. Each house is home, but very different. I open the front door, and I am “home”. Each place gives me inspiration, and the change is always very refreshing, often giving forth new ideas. I get up most mornings between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. and those first few hours in the morning are always the most productive. I have lots of friends in each place and the social aspect is also very important. Funnily enough, the one place where I have not set a novel is Cape Town, where I was born, and spent the first twenty-one years of my life, only returning in 1998 after many years living in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Spain and the UK. I hope my next one will be influenced by my life in Cape Town.

I’m also amazed by the incredible experiences you’ve had over the years as a jockey in amateur ladies’ races, roller skating in nightclubs, acting and directing, secretary to a diplomat, editor of a magazine . . . What has been the most exciting thing you’ve done? And tell us about one thing on your “bucket list” you have yet to do.

The most exciting thing? Oh, goodness. They were all exciting. Let me try to think which was the most exciting. For sheer exhilaration, I think it has to be the horse racing. This was at full blown race meetings, which were sometimes thrown open to amateur riders. It was also in the days before Casinos were allowed in South Africa, so these were the only occasions when people could gamble. I remember one time when the horse I was riding was odds on favorite. I’d been riding it at dawn every morning on the sand track at the race course and was aware of the binoculars trained on me. I was also aware on the day that the horse was more on his toes than usual. So much so that he literally “jumped the gun” and took off seconds before the start. I struggled to pull him up, using every ounce of my strength, but there was no stopping him. We went right round the mile long course and amazingly I was brought back under starter’s orders, which today would never have happened. Even more amazingly, after all that, we came second, just beaten by a short head. Do I need to say more?  But running a close second to the racing was dancing in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Absolutely awesome with several thousand people in the packed audience, I will never forget the excitement and wonder of being in that fantastic, beautiful, historical building.

The one thing I have yet to do? There are a few, but number one is to go to Kathmandu and climb a mountain in the Himalayas. I know this is now impossible but it is still a dream. I was mesmerized by Kathmandu many years ago by a book called The Mountain is Young, by a wonderful Eurasian writer called Han Suyin. She also wrote A Many Splendored Thing, which was made into a movie called Love is a Many Splendored Thing. I often re-read The Mountain is Young, and am no less fascinated by it than I was all those years ago.

You’ve also published a highly acclaimed, non-fiction account of your son’s battle with cancer, “Count to Ten“.  It must have presented a huge emotional hurdle to outline and put on paper. What are the differences between writing non-fiction and fiction? And which do you enjoy most?

I enjoy both. The difference is that in non-fiction everything you say must be the truth, so in a way it is easier as you do not have to do research, whereas when writing fiction you can allow your imagination full rein and although you must of course draw on real situations these can be embellished to any extent you wish but you have to do research in order to make sure you do not create unbelievable situations. In the case of Count to Ten, it was also cathartic. I held back on nothing. Every terrible happening, every terrible truth, and every terrible fear of both mine and as far as I knew, Andrew’s as well, found its way onto the pages. The illness drew us very close together, but Count to Ten was written mostly from a mother’s point of view, and I was not always privy to Andrew’s deepest thoughts, yet it is the closest to the truth as any book could possibly be.

Sheila, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your writer’s journey with my readers. It’s been a pleasure to put you “in the spotlight” and present your latest work, “Pinpoint”.

Thank you so much. This has been a delightful experience.

And now that you’ve learned about this incredible author, let me introduce you to her latest release, “Pinpoint”. If you like suspense thrillers, this is a must read!

PinpointPinpoint Button 300 x 225
Sheila Mary Taylor

Publisher: Taylor Street Books

Genre: Crime (Legal Crime Psychological Thriller)

ISBN: 1461049148


Number of pages: 363

Word Count: 122,000
A lawyer, a murderer and a policeman – caught in a tangled web of love, loss, terror and intrigue.

When lawyer Julia Grant interviews Sam Smith who has been charged with an especially vicious murder, she feels a strange connection to him, as if she has met him before, as if he holds the key to something she has forgotten among the unbearable memories from her past she has determinedly blotted out.

He feels a connection too. “Julia, you are the only one who can help me,” he pleads.

Is it the same connection? Does he know something she cannot recall?

When he is duly convicted despite her best efforts, he suddenly turns on her in the courtroom and threatens that one day he will make sure to wreak his revenge on her.

But why? What has she ever done to him?

And then, on his way to prison, he escapes ……  Kindle

Book Trailer

A Zombie Tale…and Interview

Zombies are the next big thing, much like vampires and werewolves prior to Twilight. It’s almost a cult phenomenon and one that has definitely motivated writers to pen some intriguing tales. James Lacey is one. His new release, Perseverance – A Zombie Tale, is unique, edge of the seat and already boasts a strong following. 


I’m happy to welcome James Lacey, a most extraordinary author, compassionate paraprofessional, and outdoor enthusiast. That’s a lot of hats to wear and let me tell you, James wears them all well.

Tell us a little bit about your recent release, “Perseverance, A Zombie Tale” and why you decided to write about Zombies.

I always liked zombies as the background material for the larger story. The story here is the hero trying to keep his love, Ashley, alive in incredible circumstance. All the great zombie movies and stories I have seen and read do the same thing, use them as the backdrop to the big picture. And, let’s be honest, zombies are naturally scary and fun to write.

Your hero in “Perseverance” is a low key teacher forced to live outside his comfort zone to survive. Did you plan his personal metamorphosis into a reluctant leader as the internal conflict or did it just evolve during your writing?

It definitely evolved as I went. The original work was a short story that ended just as the hero receives the phone messages in the first chapter. Then the people who read it kept asking what happened next, so I had to sort of make it up as I went along. I think you can see that when you read the book, because the change happens so gradually that you don’t realize the character at the end is so completely different from the character at the beginning. Our hero wouldn’t even recognize himself if he saw what he would be transforming into.

Where do you find the seeds of inspiration that eventually sprout roots and become a book?

The original inspiration came from just an idea that popped in my head about how an individual in a situation would survive. After that it came from the support of my family and friends who read what I was producing and kept encouraging me to continue.

You’re a self-proclaimed outdoor enthusiast. Did you use your experiences as a hiker and camper to add reality to the struggle for survival, and if so, how?

There’s definitely some of that in the book, sure. You learn when you go hiking and camping enough how to travel light and make it a few days on the bare minimum of supplies. And you learn quickly how to improvise when something happens out in the woods. Cell phones usually don’t work in the places I go hiking and camping, so it’s important to know what you’re doing.

And now I just have to ask….why did you keep your hero nameless? Was there special significance in that? (I love first person writing and thought it was a clever ploy to keep the hero without a “brand” identity.)

I was wondering if I would ever get this question and I’m glad you are the first, lol. I kept the hero nameless because I never really knew who the hero was. He changes so much in the book that a name would feel like an anchor of sorts. And I think that worked really well. The funny part is that because the hero is nameless, some of the people who read the book and know me have a tendency to think that the hero is supposed to be me, and they couldn’t be more wrong. I don’t even really like dogs (no offense to Alice, but I’m a cat guy).

In addition to writing an exciting and vivid tale of a Zombie invasion, you are also a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. When do you find the time to write? Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”? In other words, do you just sit down and let the story evolve or do you plot it with an outline?

I’m taking Master’s courses in Applied Behavior Analysis, too, lol. But I find the time to write no matter what because I love doing it. Most of the time I’m a “pantser,” and I just write whatever it feels right to write about. But I have a few long-term projects planned, and those I have to actually plot out. Sometimes it might be a few weeks until I have time to work on them, so I need to keep track of what I’m doing. Oh and it really helps being single. Lots of time. lol

What else are you working on?

Right now a few more video projects to promote Perseverance are in the works. I’ve also been putting up some bonus content for the book, kind of like DVD extras. They’re all on the website. And I’ve sat down and put some serious thought into a sequel, even drafted out a few scenes.

Last question, James, and completely off topic.
If you found a magic stone that allowed you to travel back in time to any era, any location, where would you go and why?

I wouldn’t go that far back. March 30, 2012, about 9am. I’d walk into the gas station, buy a coffee, and play the lottery. Mega Ball. Numbers 46, 23, 38, 4, 2 and the Mega Ball 23. Then having been a part of the largest jackpot in U.S. history I would be able to free up a lot of my time to write more 😉

(this answer was provided before the mega jackpot for Powerball…LOL)

Now that you’ve seen the clever and creative side of James Lacey, let me shed more light on “Perseverance”. First, I’ll share an excerpt but keep reading because at the end is a fun video parody called “It’s a Zombie, Baby”. LOVE IT!!!


It is close at hand…

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain:

let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: 
for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;

A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness,

as the morning spread upon the mountains:
 a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.

A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth:

the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; 
yea, and nothing shall escape them.

Joel 2:1-3

When it happened I was excited – at first. I was a fan of the movies, the books, the games…all of it. So when those first reports came on the television and hit the net I was probably the most excited person on the planet. I mean, you always wonder “what if” when you see it in films, but then to have it actually happen, it really gets you going. That is, until they’re banging on your front door. Or the door of someone you really, truly care about. Someone you love.

That is when the excitement fades to fear. The fear can turn to horror. But right before that there is a brief moment where human instinct takes over and you choose to either fight or run. You don’t think, you just act. That is how I’m still alive. And it is probably why she is dead.

My story is not a happy one. It is not about heroics or unity or the fight to persevere. It is the story of survival. The only thing a person could really do during the crisis. It is the story of trying to protect someone you love and failing. It is a story of love, friendship and ultimately death. I’m not holding back. I am going to tell you everything. For some, this story will be harder to read then it was to write. For others, it won’t. Either way, this is my story. This is my account of the zombie apocalypse.

I was trying to be reassuring and bring my students back to the mood they were in before we stopped to eat, which not many were doing. But I knew there was something big going on.

I could hear the words “bioterrorism,” “widespread” and “thousands dead.” I could hear people talking about countries all over the world. CNN had this gorgeous new anchor,

Rebecca Mailey and I had a sort of boyhood crush on her. I was 29 and still entitled to fantasize about celebrities. So when she was the one who sent a chill down my spine, I thought it was sort of ironic and could not help but laugh. I’ll never forget the colorless look on her face when she uttered, “We are now getting scattered reports of incidents here in the United States.”

I never finished booting up my laptop. My instincts told me to get everyone out of the rest area and back on the bus. It was a quiet on the way home. I told everyone to call their parents and let them know that they were okay and would be home soon. As we boarded the bus two police cruisers went speeding in the opposite direction, sirens blaring. It was unnerving, given what we just heard. The rest of the ride home was dead quiet.

“It’s happening everywhere.”

“What is?”

“This…thing. People are dying. Riots happening everywhere. They said that there are drugs in the water supply that makes you want to hurt others. Then they said it wasn’t drugs, but a massive psychological event caused by a solar flare or something. Another guy said it’s been happening for a few weeks, but until now the government had it bottled up. And then…”

“Keith.” I had to stop him. The talking heads on TV had him all turned around.


“Take a breath. Clearly they don’t really know what is happening. So the question remains. Now, what do you know for sure? What do they know for certain? Think simple, Keith.”

“I don’t know. People are killing each other, I guess. They haven’t really said why or how, just that it’s happening.”

That part bothered me. If it were a terrorist event, then someone would be taking credit by now. If it were a disaster, then they would know the cause. Not knowing information…that is when I became hooked. That is when it became…interesting.

I looked up at the clock on the microwave. It was almost 10 AM. I really slept in late. I went and checked my cell phone. Seven missed calls? I realized then that I still had the phone on silent from the tournament. One call from Keith’s mom. Two from my parents? That was odd. Four from Ashley. Damn…I had promised to go over early this morning. She’s probably pissed right now. I went back into the bedroom and turned the TV on as I checked my voicemail.

“Hi, it’s Keith’s Mom. Sorry I’m home so late. Thanks for watching him.”

All over the country people are fighting against…

“It’s mom. Calling to see if you’re okay. Call me back.”

Military response is beginning to organize…

“I need you! Now! Please hurry! Call me back!”

We have confirmed video reports of…

“Why aren’t you answering?! Oh good…I hope…call me back…”

Rising from the dead and attacking…

“They’re outside! Help me! I need you! I need to hear your voice!”

It’s A Zombie, Baby    Video

When not writing, James Lacey lives in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

He works with adults and children as a paraprofessional and Special Olympics coach. James also enjoys hiking, camping and watching



Perseverance: A Zombie Tale
James Lacey

Publisher: 23 House Publishing
Pages: 324

Genre: Horror

Book Description

It didn’t happen the way it was
supposed to…

I am a teacher. At least, I was before it all happened, before I was forced to survive. I taught social studies at the high school. I was
also the coach of the school’s successful debate team. It was a cold Saturday in January when I heard the first rumor of trouble…

You know, pop culture had defined the zombie apocalypse time and time again, all coming from the minds of horror writers, film producers, and video game designers. Who knew that when it really happened, it wouldn’t be anything like they all predicted. Oh sure, the dead reanimated, and they were certainly hungry for living flesh…but what were the mysterious red-eyes, zombies that moved faster than their stumbling counterparts and seemed to not only communicate, but to exert some kind of
control over the others.

Barnes and Noble Amazon

“James Lacey takes the classic zombie story that we all know and love, and then
twists it off into the new directions and unexplored territory. Perseverance is fresh,
exciting, and edge-of-the-seat spell-binding.”

– Samantha Murphy, 13 Nights of Blood: Legends of the Vampire


Help me welcome Taylor Dean, a fantastic author who is here to talk about her new paranormal romance release,  Lancaster House. And since I love blindsiding my guests, I’m sure I can come up with a fun question or two that has absolutely nothing to do with writing.

Taylor, I feel like we have so much in common! I used to live in California AND Texas, waited until I became an empty-nester to pursue writing, and love romance of all genres. So tell me, what’s a Southern Cali girl doing in Texas?

Good question! First of all, thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Deb. I LOVE your interview questions. So fun! We DO have a lot in common! It’s great to meet you.

Now, to answer your question—how did I end up in Texas? My hubby and I both grew up in San Jose, California. However, shortly after we married, we up and left to travel the world! Okay, that’s the romanticized version. Actually, my hubby was active duty military for ten years, so we moved around quite a bit. Yep, I was an army wife. We lived in Maryland, Alabama, California, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and Korea. Once we left the army, my hubby got himself a job in Texas and we’ve been here ever since! After 14 moves during our ten years in the army, I love being settled! I love being a Texan, but I’m still a California girl at heart.

You’ve released several books already and I’m told more is on the way. I think every author has a favorite, whether it’s because of a character we love or a story that still resonates inside us. What has been your favorite book so far, and why?

With no hesitation whatsoever, my answer is Sierra. Sierra was my first novel, the one I cut my teeth on, so to speak. I love everything about it. I love the hero (flawed, yet perfect), I love the setting, I love the emotion, I love the angst, and I love the romance. It’s an extremely emotional read. But, I love anything—whether it’s a book or a movie—that brings out emotion in me. If it makes me cry, I declare it GREAT!

I love the premise of Lancaster House, partly because of the historical home and ghostly resident. Do you believe in ghosts? How did you come up with the idea for the story?

I believe in an afterlife, absolutely. Do I believe in the Hollywood version of ghosts and creepy hauntings? Nope! Do I believe there are spirits of our loved ones that watch over us? Yes. Other than that, Lancaster House stems from pure imagination.

While Lancaster House does start off a little . . . scary, I’m not into scary or creepy! I never watch scary movies. I’m a wimp.Lancaster House is much more of a romance than a scary read. Still, while writing this book, I found myself looking over my shoulder much more than I care to admit!

I never planned to venture into the world of paranormal romance. However, it’s the favorite genre of one of my daughters. She called me one day and issued me a challenge, practically begging me to write a paranormal story. “Let’s both write a paranormal story and see what comes of them,” she said. We ended the phone call with me promising to think about a plot. In my heart, I knew it would never happen. My mind just doesn’t think that way.

Or so I thought.

At this same time, I was utterly addicted to the American Idol season that featured Adam Lambert. In the season finale performance, I was mesmerized by Adam’s rendition of ‘Mad World’ while on a fog shrouded stage, dressed in vampire-like garb. My imagination went wild.

That was all it took. One amazing performance=one 90,000 word novel. Go figure!

Incidentally, my daughter never wrote her paranormal story! Still, I’m eternally grateful to her for putting the ‘bug in my ear.’

What has been the greatest obstacle on the road to publishing?

Let me say, I’m thrilled to be self-published. It’s a great day and age to be an author. I love having total creative control. That being said, the biggest obstacle I’ve faced is being traditionally published. Lancaster House was actually sent to major publishing houses by my then-agent. As a matter of fact, Lancaster House was the book that landed me an agent. He LOVED it. Unfortunately, no takers! With the fantastic response I’ve received from people who’ve read Lancaster House, I think it was a mistake!

In spite of the stigma of self-publishing, I’m happy with my success. It’s been a very rewarding endeavor. And now that I’m self-published, I’m not sure I’d trade it for the world. Being your own boss has its merits. Being traditionally published gives you ‘credibility’ though. As if someone else is saying, ‘Hey, here’s a great book.’ I think one thing all writers need to realize is that publishing is a business. If a publishing house doesn’t see your book selling, it doesn’t matter how great your book is, they won’t take a chance on you.

Thank goodness for Create Space and Smashwords! They allow many wonderful books to see the light of day!

When I read a romance novel, I often find myself visualizing the hero with physical attributes of a famous personality such as my current favorite, Chris Hemsworth. Who is your fantasy dreamboat?

No contest. Gerard Butler.

And now for some non-romantic fun . . .

I’ve given you a magic stone. It has the power to transport you to any time, any place. Where are you going and why?

My happy place. I’m lying on a white, sandy beach, the sound of soft waves in my ears. The sun is beating down on my skin as I slip in and out of a light sleep. The wind lightly rustles the palm trees overhead. Heaven.

What animal would you say best describes you and why?

A cat. I like having my alone time, but I like to know my family is nearby when I need them!

Excerpt from Lancaster House

Note: While Lancaster House tells the story of a heartfelt romance, the scenes that propel the story forward are the scenes between Zoe and her psychiatrist, Doctor Channing. 

The next day, Wade read over Doctor Abernathy’s notes one more time. The girl he described was nothing like the one he’d met with yesterday.

He was making progress. She was wary of him, naturally. She was obviously biding her time, waiting for her chance to prove herself ‘normal.’ She was far more intelligent than they had originally given her credit for. Her sudden cooperation made him uneasy, even though it was exactly what he’d wanted to achieve.

Zoe walked in then, her head held high. Her blond hair was neatly combed today, her bangs framing her heart shaped face. A hint of crimson stained her cheeks, evidence she was coming back to life before his eyes. Her suicide attempt had left her hospitalized for over two weeks, hanging between life and death. Her recovery was considered a miracle. She wore a fresh pair of pajamas. The standard uniform was a white t-shirt and white pajama pants and she looked clean and fresh in them. The small logo that represented their facility—a crescent moon combined with a cloud—sat on the upper right hand side of her shirt along with the name, Serenity Hills.

“Hello, Doctor Channing,” she said politely.

“Hello, Zoe. How are you today?”

“I’m perfectly fine with not a care in the world,” she answered sardonically.

Wade smiled at her in spite of himself. Maybe it was a stupid question. Perhaps he’d dispense with the ‘how are you’ from now on. Her eyes wandered around his office as if taking it all in for the first time. Her next words were said with a frown on her face. “This office is awful.”

“Excuse me?”

“Your office . . . it’s downright sterile in here, cold even. You need to hire an interior designer, warm the place up a bit. You’ll have better results with your patients.”

“Is that a fact?” Wade smiled at her insight, even while admitting to himself she was right. The room had white tile floors, white walls, fluorescent lighting, white plastic blinds on the windows and no pictures on the walls other than his medical certificates. His desk was metal and the drawers creaked. It was a cold office. Zoe sat stiff-backed in a hard plastic chair. “Are you always this blunt?”

Zoe blushed. “Sorry. It’s an obsession. I mentally decorate every room I’m in, to the point of distraction.”

“Perhaps you can give me some pointers.”

“I’d start with painting the walls, a deep, rich color. Then I’d add some throw rugs, and then curtains that add color, but let the sun in. You need a couch, something classy, but comfortable, with lots of pillows. Replace that hideous desk with something mahogany. Then maybe some lamps for softer lighting . . .” Zoe trailed off. “You weren’t serious, were you?”

“Not really, but now that you mention it, it sounds good.”

Zoe scoffed.

Wade got down to business. “Where do you want to start?” he asked, wondering if she’d assume he was asking her about decorating projects.

“I don’t know.”

She knew exactly what he was talking about and it had nothing to do with design. “What would you say if I told you there is no such thing as ghosts?” He wanted to get a rise out of her again today. Her answer would be telling. Had she seen the error of her ways all on her own? Had she realized the extent of her delusions?

“You don’t beat around the bush, do you?” Her hands gripped the arms of the chair until her knuckles turned white.


“What would you say if I told you they do exist?”

His hopes for an astounding recovery plummeted. “I would have to disagree.”

“Then we have nothing more to talk about, do we?”

“Sorry, you’re not off the hook, Zoe.”

Zoe’s demeanor changed and her eyes stared into the distance, as if she was lost in thought. “It’s real—it’s all real,” she whispered, her eyes haunted.

“Tell me, Zoe. Start with the purchase of Lancaster House.” Several minutes ticked by and he began to think she wouldn’t answer, but then, in a timid voice, her story began to spill forth.

“It’s a stunning house, everything I’d ever dreamed of owning . . .”

Lancaster House
Taylor Dean

Genre: Paranormal Romance

ISBN: 9781475068689

Number of pages: 304 pages
Word Count: 91,303

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Book Description: 

Are you ever really alone?

Zoe Grayson needs a change. So, she moves to another state, purchases an old, dilapidated 1920s Victorian Mansion, and sets out to restore it to its former glory. As she begins the restoration, she finds herself falling in love with the old house . . . not to mention its illustrious builder, Mr. Lancaster. Zoe becomes o obsessed with the house as she discovers its secrets; hidden rooms, secret passageways . . . and a mysterious man who seems to think the house is his. Who is he? More importantly, how does he live in her home unseen and unheard?

The unexpected answers leave her reeling—and questioning everything she’s ever known. To her dismay, Zoe’s actions land her in the local psychiatric hospital, scheming for ways to return to Lancaster House . . . and the love of her life.