Archive for the 'Mystery/Suspense' Category

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Welcome, Morgan St. James!

A Note from Morgan

MORGANI call myself an “accidental writer,” because that wasn’t what I started out to be. Okay, I admit, I’ve reinvented myself many times, had many careers, and finally found my calling as a writer.

Back in the late 1970s I was a partner in an interior design studio in the L.A. area. A prestigious magazine at the time, Designers West, approached us about writing an article for them about a unique living room/family room floor we had designed. What exposure! Of course, we said yes.

There was a little problem, though. We were not writers. The photographers came out and took shots of us sitting on packing crates on this beautiful floor which was created from the wood in packing crates. Everything was set to go except our article.

We tried so many approaches, but wound up with piles of crumpled paper. The night before our deadline, we worked on it like demons and still nothing seemed to work. All we could think of was how embarrassing it would be to come up empty-handed. If Designers West had a blank page where our article was supposed to be we would be shunned like yesterday’s garbage!

Finally, after a few glasses of wine, an epiphany hit us. Don’t do a techie article. Do a spoof on a noir mystery. We were on fire and the story came fast and furious. We began it with “We were sitting in our studio drinking tea, when the phone rang.” We proceeded to detail a dangerous search of the waterfront and other fun stuff while actually telling how the floor was designed.The next morning we submitted it and waited for the editor to call us ranting and raving about how awful it was. All of the articles in that magazine were either industry news or “how to.”

Well, she did call, but not with the message we expected. She loved it and wanted us to write more articles for the magazine. My partner was also an actress, and not interested in writing. I was, and went on to write many more articles for them. After that, I wrote articles on all types of topics for various publications. In the mid 90s I began writing fiction with my sister, and now have 11 books in publictin (either written solo or with a co-author), over 600 published articles and don’t’ intend to slow up any time soon.

I learned a lot about the craft of writing and now give workshops on topics that baffled me in the beginning.


My releases this year were the funny crime novels Ripoff, a clever scam to embezzle millions from the Federal prison system, the second edition of the Silver Sisters Mystery, A Corpse in the Soup, written with my real sister Phyllice Bradner, wherein the Silver Sisters track a killer through the world of TV cooking shows, the novelette Getting Even, somewhat of a prequel to Ripoff, and the upcoming Izzy and Me, co-authored with Dennis N. Griffin—Gina Marion’s true story about being the daughter of Izzy Marion, “Hair Stylist to the Stars,” entertainer, and behind closed doors—an abuser..

I think you will enjoy navigating the twists and turns of A Corpse in the Soup. Identical twins, Goldie Silver, are an over-the-hill flower child with a heart of gold who owns the Silver Spoon Antique Shoppe in Juneau, Alaska and her sister Godiva Olivia DuBois, a wealthy, manipulative Beverly Hills widow who writes the syndicated advice to the lovelorn column “Ask G.O.D.” (her initials). They get unwanted help from their 80 year-old mother Flossie and Uncle Sterling, former vaudeville magicians who love to dress in disguise and can’t resist getting into the act by launching their own undercover investigation. Add the battling chefs Caesar Romano, Biff Wellington, Moishe Matsumoto and Toulouse Jankowski, and you have a recipe for murder. The Silver family does not go looking for trouble—it finds them.

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A Corpse In the Soup


Battling Chefs, Twin Sleuths, Old Magicians and MURDER! An award-winning Silver Sisters Mystery

Take several chefs with names like Caesar Romano, Biff Wellington, Moishe Matsumoto and Toulouse Jankowsky, add sleuthing silver-haired Mae West lookalike twins with a nose for trouble who are as different in personality as they are identical in appearance, a couple of octogenarian vaudeville magicians, Waldo the Wonder Dog, and a bunch of quirky characters. Season with jealousy, intrigue, and a ruthless villain. Add ingredients to an “over-the-top” TV cooking tournament and MURDER. A recipe for a fast paced, funny romp through the world of TV chefs in search of a killer.

Available now on AMAZON.

Book Trailer


5 STARS: Reviewed for Midwest Book Review,Christie Tillery French

—This fun mystery romp will keep the reader guessing while enjoying the antics of Goldie and Godiva, along with their quirky family. The characters are amusing and endearing, and even the dog Waldo has his humorous moments. The plot moves along crisply, offering plenty of red herrings, and is twisty enough to provide a good whodunit. A Corpse in the Soup, first of the Silver Sisters Mystery series written by sisters St. James and Bradner, is a refreshing addition to the mystery world 

 5 STARS: It could only happen in L.A., Martha A. Cheves, A Book and a Dish

Someone is sabotaging the cooking show of America’s favorite Chef. Food testers are coming down with food poisoning, the Baked Alaska is blowing up and the paprika is as hot as Hades. But who would do this and why?

When I was young I enjoyed playing the board game “Clue.” What made this game so much fun were the characters. So now I want to introduce you to the characters of A Corpse in the Soup. Let’s see if you can determine “who done it” in this story of colorful characters.

5 STARS: A Good, Funny Read. Reader Views

Take several chefs, add some classy – and less classy – ladies, a couple of well-aged vaudeville actors, a talking dog, a bunch of gofers and miscellaneous Hollywood characters, and add a heaping cup of jealousy, a pinch of intrigue, a smidgen of history. Garnish with incredibly funny names (Sterling Silver, Biff Wellington, Chili Pepper, Justin Thyme, Mr. Manicotti, Caesar Romano…), take a shot at the increasingly popular cooking shows and stir well. What do you get? You get a recipe for an amusing, frothy, yet not lightweight romp. The characters are lovable and believable, even when they leave you shaking your head in wonder over their antics. The story flows well and pulls you in very quickly. Although you might think quite early in the book that you know who the villain is, I would be surprised if you’d truly manage to solve this mystery before the final pages.

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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Fiction, Mystery/Suspense | 2 Comments »


Monday, August 11th, 2014

Welcome, Weyman Jones!

evil_in_return_possum2We are excited to welcome Weyman Jones to the Highlighted Author. It is fascinating to read about his roots in the Cherokee nation and his quest to avenge past wrongs through his mystery/suspense stories. He intertwines one thrilling layer after another of Cherokee myths, folklore, and centuries of rich heritage. The picture to the left is a small animal skull employed as a talisman by the antagonist in his last story. Enjoy the feature and this week’s spotlighted novel Evil In Return–Jo Grafford, Highlighted Author Co-Hostess

A Note from Weyman Jones

Evil_in_Return_Book_JacketI grew up in Oklahoma with family roots into the Cherokee nation. My honors thesis at Harvard was a study of Cherokee myth and folklore, and I drew on this research for two historical novels for young people about the Cherokee. Now I write mystery/suspense novels, and my latest returns to the Cherokee.

I believe readers will understand a contemporary Cherokee who is driven to avenge, by a series of vicious murders, the wrongs done to his clansmen in the past, just as they can identify with the young woman he holds captive to entrap his next victim. Developing their ambiguous relationship was the most interesting part of writing this book, and I hope readers put it down with mixed feelings about my obsessed Cherokee.

The parts I enjoyed writing most were the settings: an empty Gold Coast mansion that once stood where my wife and I built a sunny home on Long Island, NY, and Stigler in Indian Territory, where my forbearers had an eventful life.

I’m now working on my next mystery/suspense novel in the coffee shops of Santa Barbara, California, where we now live.

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Evil In Return

EvilInReturnFrontWeyman Jones’s latest thriller is as timely as the next Middle East religious riot. It introduces a contemporary Cherokee obsessed with his ancient obligation to avenge the murder of his clansmen. He plans to display his revenge murders on YouTube to reawaken the passions of his people. He captures a young woman to help him target her estranged husband. As their relationship develops, she is faced with agonizing choices. The tension builds as both the Cherokee and his intended victim prepare for a showdown that results in consequences neither had expected.

As in his other thrillers, Jones infuses the relentless action of this story with the dilemmas faced by complex characters whose choices lead to a surprising resolution.

Purchase now on AMAZON!


“Helloooo Sam!”

She jumped out of the chair and stood in the middle of the room, fists clenched and training her head left and right like an antenna, trying to locate the sound of his voice.

“Reunion time, Sam.” Coming closer. Thump. Footsteps overhead. The kitchen.

“I know you’re in here, Sam. I saw your car outside in the driveway. You and your terrorist boyfriend, you were ready for a quick getaway?”

In the driveway? Charley must have moved it. What happened to Charley?

A door opened. Back stairs. She caught her breath. More footsteps. Walking back across the kitchen. Must have seen the door to the back steps. Didn’t come down here. Doesn’t like basements. Did he leave the door standing open?

“Let’s not play games, Sam.” His voice was fainter. Going upstairs? “You know I’m not going to leave until I find you.” She looked up at the brass horn in the ceiling. If he was searching the bedroom, would she hear him down the tube? Charley must have brought him here. How else could he find the place? So the connection at the airport, that must have worked. But then . . . she could think of only one possibility.

“Your friend and I came to an understanding, Sam.” Voice still distant. “Met at the airport and talked about what he needed. Turns out I just had to look into that camera he’s got down there in the boat house and say what a shitty deal the Cherokee got.” Closer again. Coming back downstairs. “Now he’s got the disc to show the people back home, and he’s on his way to his next gig. Told me to come up here and explain things to you.”

Deep breaths. Keep grounded. She stared at the Queen of Hearts, glowering from the wall.

“Your friend, he said you and I can come to an understanding too. He gave me a message for you. Don’t you want to hear it, Sam?”

If he came in here he wouldn’t be pushing a cart like Charley had been. He’d probably stand in the hall, shove the door wide open and look around first.

“I guess you could be hiding out in the woods somewhere.”

YES! She almost said it out loud. Lots of places to hide out there. Go check out that boxwood labyrinth.

“Doesn’t seem likely. Why would you hide when your car is right there in the driveway?”

Not right overhead in the kitchen. Maybe in that dark room with all the bearded guys in the gilt frames.

“I think you’re here somewhere. Within the sound of my beloved voice.”

A scrape across the floor. He moved a chair? He’s sitting down?

“This old house doesn’t have many closets to hide in, but it has a lot of rooms. If you make me find you, Sam, I’m going to be pissed. We’d both be better off if you just come out now so we can have a little talk.”

Floorboard creak. Walking around, looking?

“Is this hide and seek, Sam? Like you used to play with Amy? Look, Sam, I know that Amy’s your hangup. Your idea about me is all wrong, but never mind. Let’s talk about what you want. If supervised visitation has to be the deal, well, I could accept that. So just come out and let’s talk.”

Long silence. Maybe he’s out in the foyer where his steps wouldn’t sound on the terrazzo.

“Come on, Sam, let’s be grownups.” Closer now. “I’m going to find you, so let’s not play games.”

Back in the kitchen?

“You wouldn’t try to sneak out on me, would you Sam? Make a run for it? I guess what I have to do is figure out how to search the rooms and still keep an eye on the doors.”

Not down here. No way to see the doors from down here. Please God, or Charley’s Nunnehi or anybody else up there who’s listening: please don’t let him come down here.

“Maybe I can lock the doors from the inside. I suppose you could—”


Without consciously moving she found herself crouched in the corner, staring around with trapped-animal eyes. The clamor was everywhere. She raised her hands to her ears. Then she remembered: Seth. The alarm clock. Charley’s time lock. She heard the latch scrape as it lifted. The door exhaled open and drifted ajar.

Knees wobbling, she stood and stumbled to the door. Peered out. Dark hall, with a rectangle of light spilling down the steps at the far end. The CLANG-CLANG-CLANG-CLANG! bounced around the bare walls like an echo chamber. A rickety end table outside the door. She edged out as if onto quicksand, grabbed the clock off the table and snapped the twine running up to some kind of an eye-screw in the ceiling as she jammed the alarm button down.

Sudden silence, as loud as the alarm had been.

“Is that you, Sam? Your alarm clock? You just waking up down there?”

Four doors along the hall, all closed. What had Charley said? Closets. And one for something else, she couldn’t remember what. Footsteps. She saw his feet coming down the steps at the end of the hall. Without thinking she backed into her cell—familiar territory—and pulled the door closed.

“If you’ve set off some kind of an alarm to draw me down here while you get away . . .”

So this is it. In a moment he’d kick open the door. Check out the room and then step inside. He’d expect her to be scared and helpless. Stepping carefully, as if he might hear her, she went into the bathroom.

“These doors seem to be locked. You wouldn’t have a key, would you Sam?”

There it was. The pantyhose was stretched, but the lump of lead was still in the toe. She wadded up a grip and let the rest trail behind as she went back into the bedroom.

“Furnace room is open. You couldn’t climb up that coal chute, could you? Maybe, but I doubt it.”

She looked up at the light bulb in the ceiling. Unscrew it? No time. Hide behind the door? No. Face him. She planted her feet on the sun in the rag rug with her hands behind her, pantyhose puddling out of the way at her feet. She thought of Charley discovering the skull of the raccoon or whatever it was. A shot of calm that makes you into something different.

Something scraped outside the door. “What’s this little antique table doing down here in the basement? And what’s—oh, I see. This must be the alarm clock I heard . . . Light’s coming from under the door, Sam. Game’s up. You going to come out so we can talk?”

She actually felt a smile. He didn’t want to come into this claustrophobic little room.

“You going to make me come in after you?”

She hefted the pantyhose behind her, testing the stretch.


The door slammed open against the wall. He was a murky silhouette in the dark hall until he stepped into the doorframe. She recognized that cool smile, and then she saw the bloody khakis—and the big knife.

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Posted by Jo Grafford | Filed in Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Thriller | 4 Comments »


Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Welcome To The Family, Jo Grafford!


Charlene A. Wilson brick cropped

Charlene A. Wilson, Hostess

In November 2010, Highlighted Author was born. It grew quickly, many great authors having to wait nearly a year to be featured. By March 2011, it was clear the little blog spot just didn’t offer what was needed. In June 2011, we moved into our very own domain,

Highlighted Author has featured Best Selling authors from around the world, from Veterans’ Memorials to Paranormal Romance, Children’s Literature to Self Help Finance, and Poetry, with weekly Features filled with audio/video trailer and clips, beautiful cover art, and intriguing excerpts. This year, Highlighted Author had the honor of being voted 4th in the P&E Readers’ Poll for Best Promotional Firm, Site, or Resource . Rarely has a week gone by that a new author hasn’t been introduced for you to add to your Favorites list.

Three years after its inception, Highlighted Author added a special interest segment. In March 2013, Highlighted Author Special Interest was born. And just like its parent partner, this unique area, reserved for New Releases, Book Tours, and Giveaways, has boomed. Now, yet one year later, March 2014 brings us to another milestone. With the growth and love shown us by authors and readers alike, I’ve seen the need to add to the family. I’m so proud to introduce to you my new Co-Hostess, Jo Grafford.

Jo Grafford

Jo Grafford, Co-Hostess

As an mega reader of all genres, I am excited to join Charlene as Co-Hostess. It’s a privilege (and a whole lot of fun) to be a part of introducing you to new and established authors here on Highlighted Author. Charlene has done an amazing job of developing and growing this blog. I look forward to helping her continue to bring you the hottest promotions and newest releases of our diverse and growing lineup of authors.

Our regular features are booked out till June already, but please keep them coming. I have no will power to resist a good book and frequently stay up past my bedtime reading titles rich in period history, talented successful women and their strong alpha males, Native Americans, and an occasional creature from the otherworld – dragons, vampires, or time travelers.

From St. Louis, Missouri, I move a lot with my soldier husband. We’ve lived in the Midwest, the deep South, and now reside in Bavaria. Along the way, I’ve served as a banker, college finance instructor, and high school business teacher and am an active member in the Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter.

I write historical and paranormal romance. My current project is the Lost Colony Series, published by Astraea Press. It’s based on one of the world’s most intriguing unsolved mysteries, a missing persons report of epic proporations.

For excerpts, character lists, contests, newsletters, and more – visit the world of Jo Grafford at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+

A cursed island, chilling betrayal, and unexpected encounter with love...

A cursed island, chilling betrayal, and unexpected encounter with love…

BREAKING TIES, first book in the Lost Colony Series is available at:

Amazon Barnes and Noble | Smashwords | iBooks | Astraea Press 



Monday, January 13th, 2014

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:




Monday, December 30th, 2013

Welcome Jo Grafford

Join me in welcoming Jo Grafford to Highlighted Author.


Jo GraffordJo Grafford is an award-winning historical fiction author at Astraea Press. She writes to spotlight unsung heroes and unsolved mysteries. She published her first poem in junior high, edited her high school newspaper while typesetting for a local news journal, and has been writing ever since. She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.

She’s with us this week sharing her novel, Breaking Ties.




Breaking Ties

A cursed island, a chilling conspiracy, and an unforgettable love story. The 115 colonists on Roanoke Island couldn’t GPS, skype or twitter their ultimate destination back to their families and friends in 16th Century England. But modern laser technology has finally uncovered a clue – hidden beneath a patch on an ancient map at the British museum – that leads us to their whereabouts. Considered “lost” for centuries, these brave pioneers finally reveal the rest of their story in Book One of the Lost Colony Series.

Rose Payne’s world is left in tatters after a disastrous betrothal, making her an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Using every cent she has, Rose sails for the New World and a fresh start, vowing to never again fall for a wealthy man.

Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, Chief Manteo is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.


Book Trailer




Breaking Ties“You want my help.” ‘Twas an accusation.


His eyes darkened. “I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage.” He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

I stumbled back.

“You give nothing in return,” he snarled. “You only ask for more.”

“I would had I something to offer,” I whispered. “But I have nothing. I am nothing.”

“Then what use are you to me?” He wheeled away.

I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. ‘Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

“I know our location.” His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. “I could swim ashore from here.”

“Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?”

“Governor White gave his word to deliver me home.”

“We are going to starve, Manteo. ‘Tis only a matter of days now.”

“Nay. You alone starve. The others eat.”

“I have no appetite.”

“You act as one already dead.”

I straightened my back. “I accept what I cannot change.”

“And I change what I cannot accept.” He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. “‘Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you.”

“Very well.”

My eyes flew open. “Ye will do this for us.”

“For you.” His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

I smiled tremulously. “I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is.” The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

“I have yet to name my price.”

I stared, confused.

He grunted in disgust. “You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services.”

I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

“I will entreat the Dares for payment.”

“Nay. You are the one in my debt.”

I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

“You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too.”

“Ye would hire me as clerk?” Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

“My people have no clerks.” His eyes narrowed. “We have slaves.”

My breath hitched. “Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?”

“Nay, I only wish to marry you.”

I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


“Say no more. I will do it. ‘Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

Exultation flickered briefly across his face. “You would give up your freedom to save your friends?”

“Without question.”

“Swear it,” he said grimly.

“I swear it.”

His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly ’til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

“Now you will eat,” Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


“I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations.” He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

“And send for Anthony. I have need of him.”

I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? “Aye, master.” I bit the words out and fled.
Get your copy of Breaking Ties at Amazon  


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

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Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Welcome Donna Augustine

Join me in welcoming Donna Augustine to Highlighted Author.


Donna Augustine’s lifelong ambition was to become the crazy cat lady. Unfortunately, when family allergies cut short her dream of living in a house full of furries, she turned her ambitions toward writing. Combining her love of fantasy, sci-fi, horror and romance, she tries to string together interesting twists on urban fantasy.

A native of New Jersey, when she isn’t writing or over dosing on caffeine, she can occasionally be spotted in disguise at the local dog park.

Donna is visiting with us this week, during her Alchemy series Blog Tour. Be sure to read to the end and enter her tour-wide giveaway!

Here’s where you can find her:

Website | Facebook Twitter | Goodreads


The Alchemy Series


The Keepers

The Keepers

Alchemy Series, #1

Two days ago, Jo Davids was a waitress by night and a college kid by day, with the unnerving problem of objects floating around her.

One Day ago, Jo’s sexy boss, Cormac, noticed her for all the wrong reasons when she witnessed a man transform into a monster in the basement of his casino.

Today, Cormac ordered her shot.

If he’s real lucky, she won’t die. Because if she does, all hope is lost.




“No, I can’t wait until tomorrow. You need to take her tonight.” I heard Maxine’s voice in the kitchen. I’d been living with her and Charlie for the last two months, and as far as foster homes went, it was one of the better ones. Charlie would watch Sesame Street with me in the morning, and Maxine baked cookies sometimes. She had even made me a cake for my seventh birthday.

They lived in an apartment, but there was a park across the street that had a swing set. As far as homes go, it was the best I’d ever had, but now it was over.

“I won’t have her here another night. There is something wrong with her,” Maxine continued. She spoke in a strange breathy tone that I’d never heard her use before.

I peeked around the corner, keeping myself in the shadows of my still dark room. Maxine and Charlie were standing in the kitchen together. Charlie held one of Maxine’s hands as her other hand held the phone in a white knuckled grip. I’d just read that phrase in a book the other day and been looking for a fitting situation to use it. This seemed to be perfect. Only problem was, there was no one to say it to.

“Tell them,” Charlie urged Maxine. Charlie was the one I usually liked to try out my flavorful verses on. He called me a savant the other day and smiled. I knew whatever it had meant had made him happy, but now he seemed to want me gone, too.

Maxine covered the phone piece and then replied to him, “I can’t tell them everything. They’ll think we’re nuts. How are we going to ever get a child then?”

It was nice while it lasted. I had liked them.

“Fine, but if you’re not here by tomorrow morning, I’m bringing her to you.” I watched Maxine hang the phone back on its cradle on the mustard yellow kitchen wall.

“Thank god, they’re coming. This kid is freaking me out,” Charlie said, and then hugged Maxine. “I’m sorry, I know you thought maybe she was the one. There are lots of other kids.”

I knew what they meant. They wanted a normal kid, not me. I pulled my worn green suitcase out of the closet and grabbed Henry, my stuffed penguin off the bed. “It’s okay Henry, we don’t need them. We don’t need anyone.”


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Keepers and Killers

Keepers and Killers

Alchemy Series, #2

The story of Jo and Cormac continues on in this fast paced drama.

It’s very hard to work with someone who tried to murder me. But when the mysterious senator reappears on the scene, I’m desperate enough to take whatever help I can get, even if it is from Cormac. Dealing with him is nothing compared to losing a few hundred lives and that’s the best case scenario. Worst case? I lose them all.


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Series Book #3

I thought I could be a hero. That was before I helped destroy the world. Now, as I stand among the rubble of what used to be, I wonder how we’re ever going to pick up the pieces.

Everyday is a struggle, and people are getting desperate. Creatures that never should have existed are picking away at the dwindling numbers of the human race. And the knowledge that could be our salvation lies with the senator who reigns supreme on the other half of the globe.

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Tour-Wide Giveaway

GRAND PRIZE:  a Signed paperback set of THE ALCHEMY series & a $25.00 Gift Card to Amazon (international winner will get eBooks instead of paperbacks)

RUNNERS-UP:  3 runners up will receive an eBook of choice from THE ALCHEMY series

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Follow along Donna Augustine’s The Alchemy Series Tour

12/9  Coffee Talk Writers
12/9  Literal Addiction
12/10  Literal Hotties Naughty Book Reviews
12/10  Romance Junkies
12/10  You Gotta Read Reviews
12/11  Salacious Reads
12/11  Eclipse Reviews
12/12  KT Book Reviews
12/12  Night Owl Reviews
12/13  Darkest Addictions Reviews
12/13  Paranormal Romance Fans for Life
12/16  I Smell Sheep
12/17  Book Pages and Dripping Ink
12/18   Book Monster Reviews
12/20  Mythical Books
12/21  Diane’s Book Blog
12/22  Why I Can’t Stop Reading
12/23  Deal Sharing Aunt
12/26  Charlene Blogs
12/26  Highlighted Author
12/27  Offbeat Vagabond
12/29  Dalene’s Book Reviews



Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Welcome J.J. White

Join me in welcoming J.J. White to Highlighted Author.


J.J. White is a multi-published, award winning author, and he’s with us this week to introduce his latest book, Death’s Twisted Tales.

John WhiteWelcome, J.J., please tells us about yourself.

A native of Vermont, I was dragged kicking and screaming to Central Florida by my parents when my father relocated to work at the KennedySpaceCenter. I was a precocious and adorable little boy who overflowed with the creative juices that would prepare me for success as a noted author. Unfortunately that was stifled at a young age by an overwhelming desire to take apart things to see how they work. Thus, the left side of the brain won the battle over the right and I became a boring engineer. A few years ago, as luck would have it, I ruptured the L4 and L5 disks in my back trying to play tennis as if I were eighteen–years–old, again. With nothing to do but lie on my stomach for days on end, the right side of my brain saw an opening and pounced on the left-brain, once again surfacing my creative juices. Since that fateful day I have penned seven novels and over two hundred short stories. I have had articles and stories published in several anthologies and magazines including, The Akashic Press, Wordsmith, The Homestead Review, The Seven Hills Review, Bacopa Review, and The Grey Sparrow Journal. My story, The Nine Hole League, is set to be published soon in the Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Volume 14. I have won awards and honors from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Writers-Editors International, Maryland Writers Association, The Royal Palm Literary Awards, Professional Writers of Prescott, and Writer’s Digest. I was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize for my short piece Tour Bus which is included in my new book, Death’s Twisted Tales. I enjoy writing, surfing, golf and tennis. I live in Merritt Island, Florida with my understanding wife, editor, and typist, Pamela.


What they’re saying:

“Comprising 28 stories, each either an award-winning tale or a previously published yarn, White’s collection stays true to its title: The stories all have death, and each has a twist.

There are touching tales, such as ‘Beneath the Wintry Sky’ about enemy soldiers meeting on Christmas Eve, or thought-provoking ones, including ‘Grackle Trap’ and ‘Emily Wasn’t There.’

White’s writing pulls readers in quickly; in just a few paragraphs, he can shape a whole story.

Don’t fear the Reaper; let him read you these quick, creepy stories.”— Kirkus Reviews



Death’s Twisted Tales



“Every story ends in death if one waits long enough.”

So quotes Death as he introduces twenty-eight twisted tales for your literary enjoyment. Written by award-winning author, J. J. White, these stories weave their way through the odd, the eccentric, the suspenseful, the vengeful, the evil, and even the hopeful, with the hapless characters hurtling toward their surprising and inevitable demise, much to the approval of our macabre narrator. All of these tales have been previously published in both national and international publications with many winning awards in distinguished competitions put on by Writer’s Digest, the California Writers Club, the Oregon Writers Colony, the Arizona Mystery Writers and the Florida Writers Association, to name a few. So sit back and enjoy, for as The Grim Reaper promises, each story has a happy ending.

Someone dies.



Beneath The Wintry Sky


Death's_Twisted_Tale_Cover_for_KindleSnow fell from an ash gray sky, nearly invisible until a few feet from the ground, the flakes dusting odd-shaped drifts dyed brown from the piss, shit and blood of the 292nd infantry regiment.

He had slept only four hours in five days of constant battles, his side surrendering St. Vith back to the Panzer divisions. Window dressing for the Reich, one success in a lost war, with only one conclusion, the end of their noble quest. The Nazis were delaying the inevitable and taking as many of the enemy with them as they could.

A shell from a Kraut eighty-eight exploded about fifty feet from Joe’s foxhole, an eruption of dirt covering the fresh snow. There was plenty of snow, and sleet, and ice, all penetrating their sleeping bags, coats, and boots, while preserving the mangled bodies of their comrades, blessedly saving the living from the smell of the dead. He’d had enough of death, and enough of war. Why did civilized men capable of understanding mathematics, building cathedrals, and conquering disease, think they needed to club each other to death for a little land?

Joe had shot his first enemy soldier over a year ago. He had squeezed the trigger as if he were holding a baby bird, the rifle nearly jumping out of his hands as the distant silhouette collapsed to the earth. He thought of the dead soldier as an infant held by his parents over the crib, a toddler chasing playmates through high grass, a young man kissing his sweetheart as he boarded his train to eternity.

Those thoughts stopped after a few months of war. Joe felt none of them now. The enemy was faceless and nameless. He was eliminating someone intent on eliminating him. That’s all it was. Anything else and you’d blow your brains out.

Kowalski threw the bottle across the foxhole to Joe. He wasn’t expecting the toss and spilled some on his uniform.

“Dumb Polack,” Joe said. “Don’t they play any baseball in Jersey? You throw like a little girl.”

It was Christmas brandy from Camden’s girlfriend or lover or mother, who the hell knew. Camden wouldn’t need it anyway, buried in a shallow grave two miles north of their entrenchment. Joe passed the bottle to Corporal Johansson who took a quick swig and handed it to Paul Santini. A goddamn League of Nations foxhole. Kowalski got the bottle back from Santini and held it out in salute. “To Jake Camden, God rest his soul.” Santini made the sign of the cross. “And,” Kowalski continued, “to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

“Yeah,” Santini said. “Just like home, except there ain’t no food, no family, no presents and no tree. Other than that, it’s the same.” Santini pulled broken Christmas tree cookies from a sack and passed them around. “A little stale and broke to hell, but better than nothing, right Sarge?”

Joe nodded and nearly broke a tooth on a cookie trunk. It was a six-hour time difference between Belgium and Vermont. Kathy would be helping her parents start the Christmas dinner. Afterward, they would stand by the tree and toast Joe and pray for his safety. He wondered where they got their tree from this year. Kathy’s letters took months to get to him. She probably thought he was dead unless the Army was keeping the mess in Belgium secret.

The snow stopped as suddenly as it had started. Small black bugs crawled out from Santini’s cookie sack. Welcome to our world, Joe thought and threw the rest of his cookie away.

Three years ago, he drove twenty miles to Shrewsbury to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Frasier Firs were at just the right height. The perfect tree for the in-laws. He and Kathy had made love quietly in her old bedroom, each wondering if it would be their last Christmas together. That gave him an idea. He stood, put on his helmet and strapped his carbine over his back.

“You know what we need?” he said.

“Betty Grable,” Kowalski said.

“Besides that. We need a Christmas tree.” He pointed to the woods. “There’s a whole forest of ’em out there. Keep my seat warm.” He pulled a small hatchet from his pack.

“You’re gonna get yourself shot for a tree?” Santini asked.

“Yeah. I mean no. One of those eighty-eights hits in here it’s goodbye Charlie, anyway. What’s the difference?” And with that, he climbed out of the foxhole and ran bent over, holding his helmet on his head as he made a beeline to the forest, about a hundred yards away. The constant artillery barrage of the last two days had left few trees near the edge to choose from so Joe pushed further in until the woods were so thick they blotted out what was left of the setting sun through the heavy fog.

There it was, a four-foot spruce near the bottom of a small gully, the branches heavy with snow. He took the hatchet from his coat and after shaking the snow off the tree, began hacking at the trunk.

A few ration cans and some of Santini’s stale cookies hanging from the thin branches and they’d have their own Christmas tree for their hole. Maybe Stars and Stripes would send a reporter. He could imagine the headline:  “Four unlucky bastards blown up with their Christmas tree.”

He stopped to light a cigarette. About thirty feet away, a German soldier sawed on a similar tree with a large knife. Their eyes met as Joe flicked his Zippo. He missed the tip of the cigarette with the flame by two inches.

Joe swung his rifle around and aimed first at the soldier’s head, then the chest. Light pressure on the trigger, ready to squeeze, but he didn’t. It surprised Joe as much as it did the Kraut. The German fumbled with his rifle but somehow managed to get it into firing position. He was just a kid.

Hell of a thing to die for, Joe thought, but there were worse ways to go and his intentions had been good. He hoped someone would tell Kathy the truth.

A gray squirrel jumped from one tree to the next behind the nervous German. It startled him enough that his Mauser shook. Then the man took a breath and yelled something at Joe that could have been anything. Joe understood a little German but Johansson was the only one fluent and he was a million miles away and drunk on stolen brandy.

Joe lowered his gaze to the soldier’s tree. The boy hadn’t made much progress with the knife. Maybe the Krauts didn’t supply hatchets to their men when they fought in dense forests. It sounded like something Hitler would do.

Joe gently placed his rifle against a charred stump and then pointed to his hatchet. The soldier seemed to understand and nodded, so Joe picked it up and cleaved what was left of the trunk of his little tree with two mighty hacks. He held the tool out to the soldier. “Looks like you’re having a tough time with that knife.” He threw the hatchet to the boy’s feet, where it sunk in the snow.

The soldier fished it out and began chopping at the base of his own small Tannenbaum, never taking his eyes off Joe. A couple of times Joe thought the guy might hack his foot off but the tree finally came loose of the trunk.

Joe walked over to him and the soldier immediately had his rifle up and aimed. The snow began to fall again, small flakes resting on the boy’s long lashes. How old was he? Fifteen? Sixteen? Old enough and nervous enough to kill, he guessed.

The boy tried to hand the hatchet back to Joe, but Joe shook his head.

“You keep it, Hans. You need it more than I do.”

Joe went back to the stump and picked up his rifle and the Christmas tree. He had walked away a few steps when the boy soldier said, “Frohliche Weihnachten.”

Joe smiled, turned, then saluted lazily to him. “Merry Christmas to you too, buddy.”


Get your copy of Death’s Twisted Tales here:

Amazon | Kindle


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










Monday, November 4th, 2013

Welcome Casse NaRome

 Join me in welcoming Casse NaRome to Highlighted Author.


Casse NaRomeCasse Narome is the alter-ego of a self-proclaimed awesome weirdo who spent her childhood reading and daydreaming. As an adult, that is also how she spends her time, only now she writes her daydreams down for everyone to read. Casse is never serious, has been accused of wishing her life was a sitcom, laugh track and all, had a bad habit of talking out loud to herself and she is fine with being a little insane. She spends way too much time online, too much money buying books and laughing at her own jokes. You will find her on Twitter being very random and spewing her opinions. When you see her online, tell her to get back to her writing! Or just engage her in a hilarious random conversation.

She is with us this week sharing her book, Death Knows My Name.


Death Knows My Name



Death Knows My NameMayne St LeClair has spent her adult life closed off emotionally from the world around her. She learned very early on that those who get close to her end up dead. She knows she is cursed, but what she doesn’t know is why.

Ectain “Eric” Edeck know the pain he has caused Mayne but he connection is undeniable. Can Mayne get past the hurt and fall in love or has her heart been broken too many times?

Is Death playing some sort of cruel joke on Mayne St LeClair or is watcher her suffer breaking Death’s heart?








Get your copy of Death Knows My Name at Amazon.


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

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Monday, October 28th, 2013

Welcome Valerie J. Clarizio

Join me in welcoming Valerie J. Clarizio to Highlighted Author.


Valerie Clarizio is an author of Romantic Suspense and lives in beautiful Door County Wisconsin with her husband and one very spoiled cat. She loves to read, write, and spend time at her cabin in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She’s lived her life surrounded by men, three brothers, a husband, and a male Siamese cat who required his own instruction manual. Keeping up with all the men in her life has turned her into a successful hunter and fisherwoman.

Valerie J. ClarizioValerie is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. She was a finalist in the 2011 Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, Novellas Need Love, Too! Contest.

Covert Exposure, A Nick Spinelli Mystery, is the first title in the series, with Craving Vengeance, being the second. We have the opportunity to look into each story as Valerie has chosen to share her work through the Series Feature we offer here at Highlighted Author. Enjoy!


Hello, Valerie, and welcome. Please tell us a little about yourself and your featured books.

Hello!  My name is Valerie Clarizio.  I’m so happy to be here and sharing my stories with you.  I have a Master’s Degree in Business so by day I work as a Finance Director for a local government.  By night, I am an author of romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels.  I’ve been writing for just over five years and much of my inspiration comes from my day job and eccentric friends and co-workers.  Not a day goes by in City Hall where some crazy event doesn’t occur which isn’t worth embellishing on; hence, the suspense novellas and novels.  And I’ll tell you all, just like I tell the guys in the Police Department, Detective Spinelli, my hero, is not based on any one of them. *smile*

Anyhow, the featured series you are seeing here is a romantic suspense novella series released by Melange Books, LLC.  The first two novellas are out, the second one just this past month, and I’m currently working on the third in the series.  Additionally, I have two romantic suspense novels coming out in early 2014, Unforeseen Obsessions and Taken by Surprise, which will be released by Whiskey Creek Press.  Both stories feature second opportunities for love.

I hope you enjoy the excerpts I’ve posted.


A Nick Spinelli Mystery


Covert Exposure

Novella #1 in the series

What they’re saying:

“Because Spinelli is such a kick-ass character, I’m rating COVERT EXPOSURE a 4. I hope that Ms Clarizio continues Spinellli and Shannon’s affair in future installments!”—Delta, The Romance Reviews



Detective Spinelli’s life is tossed sideways when he is reassigned from the Homicide division to assist in the Child Services division of the Social Services Department for the holiday season. From the beginning, Spinelli and Caseworker Shannon O’Hara generate their own kind of fireworks, causing more than the normal workplace stress. They both have their own philosophies for dealing with the clientele. However, the forces of nature have their own plan for Spinelli and Shannon.

Shannon moonlights as Santa Claus’ little helper at the mall, and when Santa and an elf turn up dead Shannon appears to be next on the killer’s list. Spinelli is placed back on homicide and goes undercover as Santa to help capture the killer. He catches a great deal of grief along the way but will he capture the heart of his little Santa’s helper as well?



Covert ExposureSpinelli followed Shannon to her office, unable to peel his eyes from her shapely legs. His nostrils narrowed, sucking in every ounce of the sweet scent that lingered in the air behind her. She gestured for him to take a seat in a chair opposite her desk. Her phone rang and she picked up the receiver as she sat down. As she spoke on the telephone, he scanned her small office memorizing every detail like detectives tend to do. He couldn’t help but notice how just a touch of feminine warmth accented the professional décor. His eyes shifted from the photo of an older couple, perhaps in their early seventies, to a photo of three little red-headed boys. He wondered if the boys belonged to her. He glanced at her left hand, no ring.

Shannon hung up the phone receiver. “I’m sorry about that, Detective Spinelli,” she said as she thumbed through the mounds of neatly organized stacks of case files on her desk, “here it is…the Washington file.”

Spinelli watched as she flipped the file open and lost herself in the information for a brief moment. She blew out a sigh and looked up at him. He could easily see the sadness flood her big green eyes. Shannon cleared her throat. “The authorities picked up Gilbert Washington early this morning as a result of a domestic abuse call.”

“What happened? What did he do?” he asked as he leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.

“Apparently the neighbor placed the 911 call when he heard Gilbert and his wife, Charmane, arguing. A loud thud followed the arguing. The neighbor assumed the cause of the thud was Gilbert throwing Charmane against the wall. As it turned out the neighbor was right. Unfortunately the kids witnessed the entire exchange.”

Shannon shook her head. “We’ve offered Charmane assistance for herself and her children but she refuses to leave Gilbert. As a result, today we will be removing the children from the home and placing them in foster care.”

“Why does she refuse to leave him?”

“Scared perhaps.” Shannon sighed and shook her head. “And he’s probably her crack supplier.”

“Is Gilbert still in lockup?”

“Yes, so it would probably be a good idea to head over there and remove the children before he’s released.”

“I’ll get my unmarked and meet you up front,” Spinelli replied as he sprang to his feet and headed for the door. Before his third step hit the floor he heard Shannon call his name. He turned to find her standing behind her desk holding up a set of keys.

He cocked his head to the side. “What?”

“We’ll take one of the vehicles assigned to Social Services. They’re fully equipped with car seats for matters such as these,” Shannon said as she handed the keys to him. “You can drive so I can review the file some more.”

“Car seats? How many children are we talking about here?”

“Three. The oldest, Lesha is seven, Darius is three and Christina is nine months old.”

Spinelli followed Shannon to the parking lot. She pointed at a dark green Dodge minivan. “That’s the one.”

He shifted his eyes from the minivan to Shannon and then back to the van. “That, we’re taking that?” No red lights, no sirens, no excitement. Life as he knew it was slipping away from him.

“Perhaps you could just get in and drive, and forget the comments,” Shannon said as she climbed in through the passenger door.

Spinelli got in on the driver’s side and started the engine. He adjusted the seat to accommodate his long legs, then the mirrors. Once he finished altering everything, he glanced over at Shannon.

“What?” she asked.

He shook his head. “I’m just wondering how I got here. Yesterday I was a homicide detective and today I’m driving a minivan that smells like sweaty socks.”

“I’m sorry you’re not pleased with your assignment but we need to get going if we are going to remove the children before Gilbert makes bail.”

Spinelli put the minivan in drive and headed toward the Washington home located just north of downtown, on Cherry Street. He knew that area could mean trouble. His senses moved into “full alert” mode.


Get your copy of Covert Exposure here:

Melange Books | Amazon



Craving Vengeance

Novella #2 in the series



Nick Spinelli’s normal life as a homicide detective has been catapulted into a whirlwind of chaotic holiday adventures ever since he met the beautiful Shannon O’Hara.

Nick had hoped to spend his first Valentine’s Day with Shannon in a traditional manner, starting with a nice dinner out on the town and then perhaps a long warm adventurous night in her arms. His plans quickly change when cupid is found murdered in a back alley. The investigation becomes more and more inconceivable, as Spinelli discovers that Shannon is linked to the victim. When another cupid turns up dead, and it is discovered that Shannon knows him as well, Spinelli is motivated to go undercover as a singing valentine dressed as cupid, complete with wings and a quiver of arrows. How many other cupids are at risk? Is Spinelli on the killer’s list as well? The stress ignited by the day’s events causes sparks to fly between Spinelli and Shannon as he struggles to piece it all together and stop the string of slayings.




Craving Vengeance Spinelli’s eyes popped open. He stared into the face of an angel. Was he still sleeping? How was it he had lured this beautiful creature into his life just a little over two months ago? He resisted the urge to run his fingers over her soft, milky white skin. She looked so peaceful when she slept. He would never be bored watching her sleep. Her slow even breaths mesmerized him. Was he dreaming? He almost went so far as to pinch his arm.

Shannon stirred and flipped over. Her shiny red hair spread out over her pillow like wildfire. He didn’t need the nearby streetlight peaking through the window blinds to notice her fiery hair, but it certainly helped to illuminate its zest. Spinelli reached over and skimmed his hand over her soft hair. Silky strands sifted through his fingers sending an electrical current rippling throughout his body. He debated waking her, taking her again. He nearly chuckled at the thought. When they’d first met, they couldn’t stand to be with one another, now they couldn’t stand to be apart. Cupid’s arrow struck him, hard and fast, out of nowhere. He was done, toast.

His cell phone vibrated on the nightstand. He reached over her to grab it before it woke her. Too late. Her beautiful emerald eyes fluttered open. He stared into the sea of green looking back at him, nearly forgetting about the call.

Her full ruby red lips stretched into a soft smile. “Nick, your phone is vibrating.”

His ears focused on the sweet sound of his name rolling off her tongue. No one ever called him by his first name. Everyone called him Spinelli or Detective, even Shannon did when they first met. But at some

point over the past couple of months, she had started calling him by his first name. It nearly drove him insane every time she said it. His heart raced. He should take her again.

“Nick,” she whispered, knocking him out of his reverie.


“Your phone is still humming.”

“Oh, yeah.”

He grabbed his phone from the nightstand. The time in the upper right-hand corner read 4:00 a.m. Captain Jackson’s face flashed across the screen. He tapped the screen and held the phone to his ear. “Spinelli here.”

“Rise and shine, Spinelli. We got one for you, down on Water Street. Male, late 20’s, cause of death not obvious. I’ve already texted you the address. The officers on the scene are cordoning off the premises.”

Though he wasn’t a morning person, not even close, a rush of adrenaline crashed through him like a tidal wave. This is what he lived for, catching killers. He sprang out of bed as Jackson’s words trailed off. “I’m on it,” Spinelli rasped before he disconnected the call.

He retrieved his contact list and tapped Detective Walker’s profile. Walker answered with a growl. Spinelli gave him the details; then he did the same with Detective Marsh.

Spinelli slid into a pair of jeans and pulled a long sleeved navy polo shirt over his head. He grabbed his Beretta 9mm from his nightstand and secured it in his holster before he slung the chain connected to his gold detective badge over his head.

He’d nearly leaped through the bedroom door before he remembered Shannon still lay in his bed, entwined in his comforter. He’d rather it be that she were intertwined with him. He spun on his heel and in two long, quick steps was at her bedside.

Her bright green gaze fixed on him. An amused look covered her face. He knelt down beside the bed. “I gotta go.”

“I gathered that.”

“So I’ll pick you up at your place tonight at 7:00?” he asked, confirming their dinner date.


Spinelli arched a brow. “No?”

Shannon rubbed her eyes. “I mean yes to dinner, but can we push it back to 8:00? I know that’s getting late, but I’m scheduled to do the singing valentines for the church fundraiser from 4:00 until 7:00.”

“Oh, okay. I’ll change the dinner reservation.”

He leaned forward and brushed his lips lightly across hers. He knew he had to keep it light or he wouldn’t be able to leave.

She didn’t play fair. She reached up, wrapped her arms around his neck, and pulled him to her. He let her, he was weak. His mind was mush.

He responded to her demand for more and deepened the kiss. His tongue passed through her lips. She tasted sweet. How did she always taste so sweet? His heart pounded in his chest.

Suddenly, Captain Jackson’s words from moments ago echoed in his head. We got one for you, down on Water Street. Male, late 20’s, cause of death not obvious. Christ, he’d nearly forgotten he had a dead body to attend to.

He pried his lips from Shannon’s, nearly needing the help of a mechanic with a crowbar.

He rose to his feet, willing his knees to support him. She always left him weak-kneed, and she probably didn’t have a clue. “I’ll see you tonight. I have a special Valentine’s evening planned for us.”

* * * *

Shannon watched Nick walk out the door, sure that if he were to turn and look at her one more time with those dark charcoal eyes, she’d probably melt in an instant. He had the most intense eyes.

She curled into a ball and pulled the thick comforter up around her neck. His masculine scent coated the soft material, stimulating her senses, as if his mouthwatering kiss hadn’t already left her completely aroused. She wished he hadn’t had to leave. Another round of lovemaking would have been ideal. She’d had a taste of him, and now she couldn’t seem to get enough.

She giggled at the thought of their rocky start. When she’d first met him she thought he was the most cold-hearted, egotistical human being she’d ever met. She’d never been more wrong in her life. He turned out to be exactly the opposite. Never in her life had she met anyone so caring, giving, and loving. His rough exterior was just a front he used to shield himself, as a result of his unfortunate upbringing. Growing up on the streets with a drug-addicted mother certainly took its toll on him.

A sense of pride crept through her as she thought about all he’d accomplished; finishing high school on his own after his mother died when he was only sixteen, then going on to college, and becoming one of Milwaukee’s finest homicide detectives. It took a strong person to accomplish such. She admired his strength and determination.


Get your copy of Craving Vengeance here:

Melange Books | Amazon



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~ * ~

Posted by your hostess

Charlene A. Wilson

Creating worlds where dreams become reality.

Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy Romance

My read. My love. My choice.


Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Action/Adventure, Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Romance, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »


Monday, September 30th, 2013

Welcome Isaiyan Morrison

Join me in welcoming Isaiyan Morrison to Highlighted Author.


Welcome, Isaiyan. Please tell us about yourself.

First, I’d like to say thank you for having me!

Oh, it’s our pleasure!

My name is Isaiyan Morrison. I was born and raised in Minnesota. I served four years of active duty in the military, and now I reside in Texas. I have a Bachelors in Creative Writing and I also hope to teach ESL.

Besides writing I’m an avid gamer. I love video games and I’ve own almost all the video game consoles that every existed! At one point I was sponsored to travel and participate in video game tournaments across America, Canada, and I’ve been to the Caribbean.

Deamhan is the first novel in the Deamhan Chronicles . For my novel I’ve researched vampire lore throughout different cultures and incorporated the most interesting ones in the novel. The novel took about 10 years to fully flesh out. You have no idea how many different vampire types there are! It was so hard to choose.

Deamhan are psychic vampires which is a little different from the popular sanguine (blood) vampires. Their feeding methods are different hence their style and how they live is not the same as vampires. Survival is their main focus and they aren’t your typical romantic types, but I think you can agree that part of the genre is oversaturated.

The second book, Sensual Appetite, is scheduled for release mid next year. I’m currently working on the third book in the series, Revelation, and also small stories including main characters from the Deamhan Universe. The first one, Deamhan Tales: Kei, is scheduled to be released late this year.



Deamhan have survived by remaining hidden in the shadows. Ramanga, Lamia, Metusba, and Lugat have been overshadowed by what humans know as the modern vampire. But what if vampires aren’t the real threat?

One woman’s search for her mother who disappeared without a trace on the streets of Minneapolis takes her into the precarious world of Deamhan, psychic vampires who rule the underground nightlife in the city’s most darkest corners.

She gains the trust of the only other human familiar with the Deamhan lifestyle. With his help she finds not only can the Deamhan not be trusted but it s her own father, president of a ruthless organization of researchers, who has diabolically maintained that distrust.


Book Trailer




Veronica rushed down the stairs. The music blasted from the speakers shaking her eardrums violently. She excused herself through the crowd, heading toward the exit. She felt a cold grasp on her wrist that twisted her around by force. Remy stood in front of her. He wore a black leather jacket with a black button T-shirt and dark blue jeans. He placed his other hand on her waist, pulling her closer to him. Veronica tried pushing him off her but she felt helpless in his grip.

“I’ve missed you.” A devilish smile appeared on his face. She attempted to pull away again, but he increased the pressure on her wrist.

“Let go of me.” Veronica tried to push him away.

“We didn’t get to finish our conversation from the other night.” His grasp only became stronger. The beats streaming from the speakers snuffed her screams for help. The patrons continued to dance around them. They swayed back and forth in a dance too slow for the music. He stood taller than her. She looked up, and his eyes stared back into her own. She felt her body beginning to melt within his grasp. The more she struggled, the more she belonged to him.

Her heartbeat increased and he stroked his hawkish fingers over her smooth skin. “You smell like a vamp.”

Veronica cleared her head free from thoughts and waited for the burning sensation to start but it never came. Instead he placed his finger in front of her mouth to quieten her.

“Shhh,” he said in a faint whisper that she heard underneath the music. Their dancing tempo increased while he dragged her along the dance floor.

“Let me go,” she pleaded to him.

“Do you think I’m going to hurt you?” he asked her in a soft voice. “And I thought I made a great first impression on you.”

She remained quiet.

“Would you care to join me at the bar? They have two for ones.” His brown hair was still pulled back in a ponytail. The smell of his new black leather jacket and expensive cologne radiated from him.

“Care to join me?”

“What do you want?”

They continued to dance across to the opposite end of the floor. He placed his hand behind her head and gently pressed her face in his chest. She felt his hard and cold body through his shirt. Her head began to throb slightly, and his words dilated sensually in her brain.

I want you.

What she wanted was to run from him, to break free through the crowd and toward the exit.

“I just want to get to know you more,” he replied.  “You ran out unexpectedly.”

“I don’t like being threatened,” Veronica said.

He pulled her along the dance floor, spinning her around. He placed his hands back on her hips, and they continued their dark jig. “Sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. That wasn’t my intention.”

“Then what is your intention?” she questioned.

He moved her in closer. “Like I said, to get to know you.”  His body was lean, tight, and his muscles flexed when he moved his arms.  “If I thought you were such a threat, you’d be dead already.” Small, loosened strands of his hair dangled, slightly touching her forehead.

Veronica suddenly felt infatuated with him. Concentrate, Veronica. He looked into her eyes, and she tried to look away. She felt her eyes drift to them and she wanted to rub her hands over his chest and up to his face.

Everything she knew about Deamhans disappeared from her mind.  She left herself open to him, voluntarily pressing her face into his chest. She closed her eyes and opened her ears, hoping that he would exhale just once. He appeared different from her; not human. He became all she knew and all she wanted. No fear, no Deamhan, no Dark Sepulcher, and no search.

Yes. There was a search.

She blinked her eyes, refocusing back on reality and distancing herself from Remy’s orchestrated trance.

“You’re not scaring me.” Veronica’s lower lip quivered.

He chuckled slightly. “I’m not the one you should be scared of.” His grip began to wane. They stopped moving and she took a step back, free from his hypnotic restraint. He turned and walked away casually through the crowd. The rhythm of the music changed, and the dance floor started filling with people. She watched Remy sit on a bar stool and she glanced around, sensing her vulnerability while alone.

She followed him to the bar.

“I know how you Deamhan act.” She stood behind him. “And I know I can never trust a Deamhan.” Her mind reverted to the woman at the burnt home. Maybe he was working with her? Remy soon picked up on her thought.

“No.” Remy turned around and ordered a drink from the bartender. “I don’t have any minions.” He turned back to her. “If you want, you can be my first.”

Confused, she shook her head no.

The bartender returned, placing a glass in front of him.

“You’re right, you can never trust a Deamhan researcher. I don’t even trust Deamhan.”

Veronica sat on an empty stool next to him. He continued to look forward and sipped the dark liquid from his cup.

He was a Ramanga or maybe a Lamia. Either way, he can’t be trusted.

“I’m not a Ramanga,” he replied to her thoughts. “But I am aLamia.”

Lamia. They had no sharp teeth like the Ramanga, but fed from their victims by mouth. As long as I don’t kiss him.

“Do you always do that?” he asked her.

“Do what?”

“Let me give you some advice, researcher,” Remy said slowly, “if you plan to hide your thoughts, you shouldn’t think. You should just ‘do’.” He sipped his drink and he looked forward, observing a female waitress from across the bar staring back at them. Remy briefly waved at her and she nodded.

“You see her?” He nodded to the waitress.  “She’ll be my first meal of the night.” He placed his cup up to his lips and before taking another sip he spoke again. “And the other human behind her, near the back standing alone. She’ll be my second.”



Get your copy of Deamhan here:

Amazon (Paperback) | Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon(UK)


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Posted by CharleneAWilson | Filed in Fiction, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy | 2 Comments »