Category Archives: Drama

Welcome Andrea McKenzie Raine

Join me in welcoming Andrea McKenzie Raine to Highlighted Author.


Welcome, Andrea. Please tell us about yourself and how you came into writing.

author_photoI have always been writing – since I was first asked to keep a journal in the first grade. In elementary school, when teachers gave our class creative writing assignments, I became really excited while all of the other kids groaned. I had a wonderful teacher in the third grade who told me she expected to see a book written by me one day. That moment was pivotal. I began writing poetry and short stories at an early age; it is simply in my blood. I attended the University of Victoria and studied English Literature and Creative Writing. I earned a B.A. in English Literature in 2000. I also have a post-degree Certificate in Public Relations. I have been employed in government writing positions since graduating from university.

I have attended a long-running successful reading series called Planet Earth Poetry (formerly Mocambopo) in Victoria, BC, since 1997, and published my first book of poetry, A Mother’s String, through Ekstasis Editions in 2005. I wanted to write a novel, and after a two-month solo backpacking trip through Western Europe in the summer of 1998, I felt I had a little more to say.


Tell us about your debut novel, Turnstiles.

I hope that readers will consider different ways of looking at the world, and the circumstances of people, all of us, in this world. Turnstiles is a work of literary fiction, but it is also a make-up of observations and challenging questions about power struggles, social classes, gender battles, and the possibility and courage to break through or cross over these stigmas. I suppose I hope that the reader finds a piece of him or herself in the characters, and that it resonates. Ultimately, I hope readers will enjoy the characters, their vulnerability and strength, and the journey.

I have written a first draft for a prequel novella to Turnstiles, which lends the backstory to a character who is deceased from the beginning of the novel. This character is significant, as his actions have caused a great domino effect for the main characters in Turnstiles.


 What they’re saying:

Turnstiles by Andrea McKenzie Raine is the story of different people as they struggle through common social problems. To me, the book is divided into sections or novellas. Three stories blend as one. The plot is creative, the work is ambitious as well as engrossing and addictive…”- The Drunken Druid





Martin Sourdough is a homeless person who has chosen to turn his back on the corporate, material world; Willis Hancocks Jr. is a barrister, an alcoholic philanderer, and a misogynist; and Evelyn (aka Yvonne) is a prostitute. Turnstiles speaks to these social problems through the smaller scope of each character’s individual trials. There is a struggle that exists between the need to serve one’s own needs and the expectation to participate in the larger social scheme. Martin and Willis are both trying to fit into the world, but on their own terms. They are naïve, searching for an Eden-like state of being. Through a broader experience of personal fortune, misfortune, travel, and social interactions, they each learn to accept their paths and take control of their own destinies.



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Giveaway dates: Jan 23 – Feb 28, 2014
5 copies available, 175 people requesting
Countries available: US





Turnstiles cover photoThe radio alarm clock began to hum in Willis Hancocks’ hotel room, which he rented in downtown London. He groaned, rolled over, and slapped his hand on the off button without looking. He rolled back and stared groggily at the dented pillow beside him. She was already gone, and he was trying to recollect the night before. He rolled his eyes towards the dresser. There was his wallet, open and most likely empty. His pants lay crumpled beside the dresser. He rubbed his hands over his face and gave a self-deprecating chuckle. Then he began to rise. He was anything but happy. She had definitely served her purpose, but the others had been more professional, and much more discreet. When this happened, he usually didn’t realize he had been robbed until hours later, when he found himself at a store counter fumbling for his credit cards.

“You cheeky little bitch,” Willis mumbled to himself as he flipped through his wallet. She hadn’t been discreet, but she had been thorough. Even his lucky franc coin from his trip to Paris was gone. It must have caught her eye. Ignorant street kid.

“She’ll never use it,” he mumbled. “Never in a million years.” And, suddenly, he felt vulnerable without it. He was used to having small charms in his pockets. They were little reminders that there was some luck in the universe, good or bad. That afternoon he was going to the courthouse to hear his father’s will. His father. He sure as hell had never been a dad. He hadn’t earned the title. Dads taught you how to play cricket on summer days. Fathers called from foreign cities to say, again, that they wouldn’t make it to the biggest day of your life.

Willis was tempted to throw the wallet in the wastebasket, but he gently placed it back on the dresser with an air of defeat.

An hour later, he was showered, sharply dressed, and hurriedly locking the hotel room behind him. He strolled with purpose through the chic lobby and out onto the pavement. He was not rushing to his appointment with excitement or even mild anticipation. He was rushing to get it all over with. He desired the whole matter to be dead and buried. There was a shameful question repeating itself over and over again in his head, and he tried desperately to ignore it … What did the bastard leave me? His only son. What did the bastard leave me? Bastard … bastard … bast— He began walking faster.

As he rounded the corner, the large, impersonal, grey building loomed before him, with its long, stone steps. He vaguely imagined guillotines. Willis couldn’t remember the streets he had walked, as though something else had brought him to this place without his knowing or consent. In many ways, it had. He did not want this part of his life to exist. Where was Occam’s razor for moments like these? How wonderful it would be to splice out all the undesirable bits.

Willis threw these encroaching thoughts from his mind and scurried up the stone steps. The engraved wooden doors looked large and imposing, but were surprisingly light and swung open with ease. Willis couldn’t help thinking that perhaps these doors were much like his father. If only he had taken the time to turn the doorknob. Once again he banished his useless mind chatter. None of it could be helped now. His father’s barrister, and friend, was waiting for him, perched on one of the many benches placed along the sides of the grand hallway. The white marble floor was immaculate. Almost so that, if he desired, he could see his reflection near his feet, but few dared to look at themselves in a courthouse.

The man rose to meet Willis. Willis knew this man well—too well. Sometimes the disappointing calls from his father would be telegrammed through this man’s voice.

“I’m sorry, son …” the voice would say, “your father has been held up in a meeting.” Even this man knew his father well enough to know he was only that. A father. A sperm donor. An absent male figure. The dictionary was far too generous with the word. Father. A male parent. God. One who originates, makes possible, or inspires something. The word dad was merely listed as a colloquial term or a shortcut for father. It was all so backwards.

“Hello, Willis,” the man said as he extended his hand, which was taken without hesitation. However, Willis shook hands limply. He was still overwhelmed by this place and these people and papers and things. They were all just things. Was he grieving? He didn’t know. It was all packed somewhere inside his big toe. Everything would take a very long time to reach his mouth and then his brain.

“Hi, Sam,” he answered in a voice that was barely audible. Sam motioned him into another room nearby. There were too many thresholds that day. The room was small and dimly lit. The blinds were down and the large desk and tall bookshelves seemed to judge Willis from their standpoints. Willis loosened his tie, feeling the musty tone of the heavy, dark brown books and neglected carpets. It was a furnished closet where many unsaid things happened.

“Would you like some coffee?” Sam offered. Willis thought he could use something a bit stronger, but he politely raised his hand in decline. Sam poured himself a cup and settled in behind the large oak desk. He folded and unfolded his hands and then laid them flat before him. There was no real sense of sorrow in the room, but the situation was delicate and Sam wasn’t sure where to begin. He didn’t want to touch a raw nerve.

“I have your father’s papers,” he began. He pulled an envelope out of a large, squeaky drawer in his desk and deftly handed it over. Willis didn’t make any move to accept it.

“Shouldn’t mother be here?” Willis stalled.

“Your mother conveyed point-blank that she isn’t interested in what he had to say.”

Willis nodded solemnly. She was still his widow, but he had been less than a husband to her. She had known the truth behind his unscheduled business trips years ago. However, she had kept quiet and continued to pack his lunch every morning and make pork chops every Tuesday night. It had been a different era then, and she probably made herself believe there was nowhere else for her to go. Maybe it would have been easier if he had run off and left her for good. Besides, she had to stay. She had Willis to think about. And now Hancocks Sr. was dead. The freedom of it was suffocating.


Get your copy of Turnstiles here: 

Ink Water Books | Amazon


Want more Andrea? Here’s where you can find her:

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Welcome Sarah Grimm

Join me in welcoming Sarah Grimm to Highlighted Author.


Sarah_GrimmHello, my name is Sarah Grimm, and I’m an addict. I read my first romance when I was twelve years old. I don’t recall the title, you think I would with something that changed my life so dramatically, but I don’t. The title doesn’t really matter does it? Because it was just the beginning for me. That one book led to another, then another. Pretty soon I was devouring romances like my life depended on them. Somehow, I didn’t see anything strange about that.

One day my mother walked into my room without knocking and she caught me reading.   I dropped that book so fast, tucking it under my thigh so she couldn’t see the cover! But I wasn’t fast enough. My mother knew what I was doing – reading romance in a ‘mystery’ house.

She kept an eye on me after that, locating all the paperback and hardcovers in my closet and under my bed. She told me I had a problem. I told her I couldn’t stop – even to make her happy. Instead, I lured her into my world. I gave her her first romance, then her second; her third. She is stronger than me – romance never took control of her the way it did me.

I began reading romance everywhere: curled in the corner of the couch while the family watched television, in the back of the classroom while the teacher talked biology. I didn’t need to learn biology, I had romance novels. I couldn’t get enough – the promise of happily-ever-after, of love being enough to heal all wounds. *sigh*

In no time at all my addiction grew stronger. Just reading romances wasn’t enough. Suddenly I had this urge, this new and frightening, uncontrollable urge…to write. I wasn’t strong enough to resist. Who is? I began carrying a notebook with me everywhere I went. A notebook I filled with dialogue and partial chapters, story ideas and possible titles. Some days it got so bad that the world around me faded away. While my friends enjoyed the sun or the lake, I wrote.

It’s hard for some people to understand, this addiction to romance. I’ve endured the odd looks, the smirks, and even those that say “You’re poisoning your brain with that stuff.”

Well guess what? If stories that celebrate falling in love, emotion and commitment are poison, I don’t want the antidote. I love the stuttered heartbeats when the hero and heroine first meet, the gut punch of sexual awareness. My heart races with the sweetness of that first kiss, and the momentary panic over the realization they’ve fallen in love. I thrive on the idea how even at the worst of times, at those moments when you least expect it, two people can find love.

Yes my friends, I’m an addict, and happily-ever-after is my drug of choice.

Currently I’m feeding my addiction by working on Midnight Heat, the second book in the Black Phoenix Series. A reunion romance about a man who doesn’t tend to keep anything in his life. But then he suffers a concussion, and opens his eyes to the one thing he wishes he’d never let go.

I want to take a moment to thank Charlene and Highlighted Author for the opportunity to share After Midnight: Black Phoenix #1, with you today.


What they’re saying:

“Hot and sweet, with suspense that’ll keep you guessing!” Laura Kaye, NYT Bestselling Author of One Night with a Hero

“It’s a special feeling when you start reading a novel not expecting much but are immediately drawn into the storyline, then by the end of the second chapter you are captivated… After Midnight was a compelling, sensual page-turner and I was sorry when it concluded.” – 5 Bookies & A Favorite Read of 2011, Book Lovers, Inc

“After Midnight is one hell of a love story! I was hooked at the end of the first chapter. I had to read more. I had to know more. And Sarah Grimm definitely delivered more.” 5  Stars, Fire Pages



After Midnight:

Black Phoenix #1

Can music heal the fractured soul…or will it tear them apart forever?



Thirteen years—that’s how long Isabeau Montgomery has been living a lie. After an automobile accident took her mother’s life, Izzy hid herself away, surviving the only way she knew how. Now she is happy in her carefully reconstructed life. That is until he walks through the door of her bar…

Black Phoenix singer/front man Noah Clark came to Long IslandCity with a goal–one that doesn’t include an instant, electric attraction to the dark-haired beauty behind the bar. Coaxing her into his bed won’t be easy, but he can’t get her pale, haunted eyes nor her skill on the piano out of his head.

Can Noah help Isabeau overcome the past? Or will her need to protect her secret force her back into hiding and destroy their chance at happiness?



Adult Content


AM_cover01_533x800“I’m not the type of woman men fall for.”

“I’ve fallen for you.”

Heat flooded her system. She forced herself to breathe, to keep her eyes locked with his. “No you haven’t. You …”

He pushed off the mantel and stepped in her direction. “I, what?”

“Never mind.”

“Finish the sentence, Isabeau.”

“I don’t think so.”

“Then let me.” He closed the distance between them. “You were going to say I haven’t fallen for you, weren’t you? You actually believe him? That you’re nothing more to me than convenient?”

Her pulse throbbed thick and hard. Heat radiated off his body. The scent of him filled her head. She wanted, more than anything, to press herself against him and relive the pleasure of his mouth against hers. Instead, she lifted her chin. “Maybe.”

He leaned in close. So close his breath brushed across her lips. “You believe him, but not me?”

“You are here only temporarily.”


“And I am just down the street.”

“I suppose.”

She ran her tongue over her dry lips. “So the whole thing does seem rather—”

“Don’t say it.”


Something dangerous came and went in his eyes. “Now I’m getting angry.”

His hands skimmed down her sides, slipped under her shirt and settled on her lace-covered bottom. Her breath went uneven. Searing need swarmed her.

“You want something to believe, believe this.” He pulled her into the solid ridge of his erection. She lost her concentration. “There is nothing convenient about the way I feel about you.”


“You think you’re not the type to draw a man’s attention, think again. I can’t stand in the same room as you without wanting to taste you. I can’t taste you without wanting to taste all of you.”

Oh, God. Her knees turned to jelly. A hot, wet pulse came to life between her legs.

“If you can’t see in yourself what it is that I see, feel what you do to me.” Taking hold of her wrist, he placed her hand in the center of his chest.

His heart was racing. She tipped her head back and looked into his eyes. Her bones began to liquefy.

“The way you’re looking at me,” she whispered.

“How am I looking at you?”

“Like I’m important.”

“You are.”

She swallowed hard, wanting to believe him. “Like I’m beautiful.”

His lips brushed across her temple and her eyes drifted shut. “I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. Then you would know how beautiful you are.”

Her eyes snapped open as he spun her in his arms. His hands settled on her shoulders, drawing her back against his chest. She gasped at their image reflected in the trio of mirrors that hung on her wall. When had this become a seduction?


Get your copy of After Midnight: Black Phoenix #1 at Amazon . 


Want more Sarah? Here’s where you can find her:


Welcome Wally Wood

Join me in welcoming Wally Wood to Highlighted Author.


WallyPhotoWally Wood is a full-time, professional writer. For several years, he made his living as a trade magazine editor, and then became a developmental writer. He has helped a number of company executives develop their books, publishing 19 general business books since he began. He has always seen himself as a creative writer, however, and earned a master’s degree in creative writing from the City University of New York. His bachelor’s degree is from Columbia University where his major was philosophy.


Welcome, Wally. Please tell us about your feature book.

The Girl in the Photo is my second novel. It comes out of my experiences of being a brother, being stationed at an Army hospital in Japan, being faced with the death of a father. While I draw on all my knowledge and experience, the novel is fiction. Indeed, one of the themes I played with in an early draft is the question of memoir versus fiction. Is even the most factual memoir a form of fiction? The Girl in the Photo is fiction, and the memoir embedded in the novel is fiction.

I write fiction because it is a way of expressing truths that are either difficult or impossible to express in non-fiction. In fiction, we can actually enter a character’s head to listen to her thoughts, while in real life we cannot know another person truly thinks or feels—another them in The Girl in the Photo. I hope that readers who are interested in other people and other cultures—in this case Japan’s—will find pleasure in the book.


What they’re saying:

“The part of this book that interested me the most was the book within the book – Dr. Emmerling’s retelling of a part of his past he had kept a secret from his family. Those sections were extremely interesting and attention captivating. Most of what he told was truthful, and the way he embellished the end of his story was creative and read like fiction. His grown children, David and Abbie were believable characters, and there was much insight and information about their lives. They found it hard to accept their father had written a book, but were more surprised to find out it wasn’t fiction. An emotional rollercoaster, and a whole lot of information come with this story, while David and Abbie deal with their father’s death, discover they have a sibling in Japan, and then try to find her.”— Tinamariesays



The Girl in the Photo


In this novel about love and longing, regret and renewal, a brother and sister discover a surprising secret after the death of their father: a photo of a young woman who was his lover decades before and half a world away. Even as they mourn their father, an eminent surgeon, David and Abbie question what they thought they knew about his life—and theirs—as they struggle with conflicting memories, unexpected emotions, and new possibilities.




Chapter 1

Abbie talks to her brother, David


Girl in the Photo As soon as Abbie pushed the button to connect with line two, David said, “Somebody died?” He sounded rushed.

“I just talked to Sophia,” said Abbie without preamble. “She found Dad on the floor of the bedroom when she came to work this morning.” Abbie felt as if balancing on a very thin edge. One misstep and she’d tumble into hysteria.

“This morning?”

“Yes. This morning. Just now.”

“Is she sure? It’s not a false alarm?”

“Oh, she’s sure all right. She says he’s cold. What more do you want?”

Abbie had to stop to blow her nose. Her father might have died any time during the weekend. They’d asked him to wear one of those emergency I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up alarms, but he wouldn’t listen. He was fine. When had she talked last to him? Less than forty-eight hours ago. He was fine. Never better. He was looking forward to his Sunday afternoon book group. They were going to discuss David Mitchell’s novel about the Dutch trading post in Nagasaki. He liked the story and the writing although he thought Westerners writing about Japan usually got it wrong. Abbie said something about his having lived in Japan so he should know. He said that was entirely different and changed the subject.

“I told her to call the police and we’d be there this afternoon.”

“We? What do you mean we? I can’t just drop everything.”

Yes, you can, you selfish, self-centered bastard. If I can drop everything to hop on a plane to Cleveland, so can you. She should have expected his reaction.

David had never been a spontaneous person. Even as a child, he had to be primed for an occasion that was not part of his regular routine. Even if the occasion were something he wanted—a trip to Euclid Beach amusement park, for instance. He needed time to think, to absorb, to adjust. No spur-of-the-moment decisions for David Emmerling. One more unattractive trait he’d absorbed from their father.

“Why not? I am.” She was certain her position as director of New Prospects was more demanding, more responsible than David’s as a cog in a corporate communications machine.

He didn’t answer immediately, trying, Abbie knew, to devise a reasonable-sounding excuse. She’d never visited his Hartford office in the corporate headquarters. She imagined it sterile and efficient, the only personal touch a color photo of Evelyn and the children, Kayla and Keith, in a silver frame on David’s credenza.

“I have to close the November newsletter today.” He announced this as if it were important, but she thought she could hear the beginnings of distress.

“It’s our father, David. He’s dead.” She wanted to slap him.

His voice was petulant. “I know it’s our father. But I can’t just walk away without closing the employee newsletter.”

“Why not?”

He thought for a few seconds, but could only come up with, “Just because I can’t.” Then he added, “The way things are going here.”

Abbie said nothing. Let her silence tell him what she thought of his stinking employee newsletter. Let him think about the situation for a minute. What employer wouldn’t let him go immediately to his dead father? If David wanted to stay in Hartford, that was his decision. But he couldn’t blame the heartless corporation. Just tell your boss you need the time off. Abbie was prepared to wait silently for him to say something more until the car service appeared in front of the New Prospects office to take her to the airport.

David blinked first. “Okay, okay. You’re right. I’ll get a plane tonight. First thing tomorrow if I can’t.” She could hear him reluctantly shuffling his priorities. “But, I can’t just walk away right this second. I really can’t.”

Conscious of her resentment—did she always have to take the responsibility? Was she the only adult here?—she asked, “You mind if I start making arrangements with a funeral home?”

“No, no. You decide what’s best. I trust your judgment.” She could hear relief in his voice. A responsibility he wouldn’t have to assume. “I’ll call Kayla and e-mail Keith in Thailand.” Abbie’s niece worked in New York City; her nephew was a Peace Corps volunteer.

David assured her he had her cell number, but she gave it to him again. Olive set a printout of her itinerary in front of her. Abbie scanned it and told David she expected to be at the Shaker Heights house by five. Let her know when he was coming in. She paused to let him absorb everything.

“David . . .” Abbie was abruptly washed by a wave of grief and her voice broke. She had to swallow several times. “Aren’t you a little sad?”

He didn’t answer immediately. “Yes. Of course I am.” He didn’t sound sad. He sounded as if he couldn’t wait to hang up and to return to his newsletter. Then, typical David, he tried to explain the feeling away. “But, after all, Dad was, what? Eighty-five? Eight-six? It’s a surprise. It’s a terrible shock. You can’t say it’s unexpected.” The words sounded exactly like something Dad would have said.

“It was a full life,” said Abbie speaking to herself as much as to her little brother.

“It was a very full life,” he agreed. “Look, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“At the house.” As if they’d be meeting anywhere else.

He couldn’t let her have the last word. “At the house.” Then he was gone.


Get your copy of The Girl in the Photo at Amazon 


Want more Wally?  Here’s where you can find him: